Sunday, November 20, 2011

The 4th Reich, Part IV: Left Coast Edition

What the hell is happening in this country? The video below (via The Brad Blog) makes me want to puke. The cops that did this, Lt. John Pike of the UC-Davis police, among others, are sick sons of bitches, to put it kindly. Footage of this atrocity was on my local ABC affiliate's news cast last night, which surprised me, given their usual lame-ass, right-bent approach to things. I guess they were nauseous right along with me.

From a statement by Davis Chancellor Linda P. B. Katehi:
"We deeply regret that many of the protesters today chose not to work with our campus staff and police to remove the encampment as requested," she wrote. "We are even more saddened by the events that subsequently transpired to facilitate their removal."

"Saddened," not outraged.

More bullshit (New York Times, 11/19):
Annette Spicuzza, the U.C. Davis police chief, told The Sacramento Bee that the officer used pepper spray on Friday because the police were surrounded by students. “There was no way out of that circle,” she told the newspaper. “They were cutting the officers off from their support. It’s a very volatile situation.”

The videos, however, show officers freely moving about and show students behaving peacefully. The university reported no instances of violence by any protesters.

Got that? No instances of violence by any protesters. No excuse. And this is a university police force, people who should know better. They probably couldn't get a job with a "real" police force and they're pissed. Thuggery like this should disqualify them from carrying weapons of any kind, lethal or non-lethal. These kids were not on the attack, obviously. But what do I know? I'm just a union thug from Wisconsin.

UPDATE: More from Anonymous.

Thanx to Brad Friedman.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Random: 11/17/11

Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes….A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.
— Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian

Thank God for Dorli Rainey.

And fuck Darrell Issa.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The 4th Reich, Part 3

There's not a limited range of reasons the people of Wisconsin can recall their elected and appointed public officials. "Because they want to" is all the reason the state constitution requires. I'm worried about the junta's hijacking of the GAB, though. Ironic to gather enough signatures to recall, only to have Scooter veto it in the end. Jaded? A little. Article XIII, Section 12. Pretty straight language. It's followed by our neanderthal marriage amendment in Section 13, for what it's worth.

The money behind the recall is coming from outside the state, according to Herr Walker during a bill-signing today. So where in Hell did the money that bought his sorry ass into office come from? Pardeeville? And now he's all over the country raising more, including an appearance on Hannity tonight because, you know, Fox is always there for the floundering fascist. I couldn't bring myself to watch, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't at least a URL for donors if not an outright plea for funds.

The smell of all that money is sexy, I'll bet. Walker promises to spend whatever it takes to "get his message out." And whatever's left over he will probably get to keep. Unlimited campaign spending means no accountability or oversight, right? When it's all over, Caribou Barbie can probably give Scott and Tonette a helluva deal on a tour bus.

If anyone actually ever reads this, I'm sorry to have been away for so long. It's been busy, being a public servant in a regime run by people who have no concept what the term means, except in the context of serving themselves.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's Labor Day 2011

Lucrum fidelitas nullus

In the past year, the unbridled greed and service of self that characterize U.S. society in the 21st century have become breathtaking in their scope, and nauseating in their depth.

A partial list: 
  • Between the 2nd quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2011, S&P 500 corporations saw a 45.8% increase in profits; during the same period, hourly wages in the private sector were off by 0.2%. Average weekly earnings saw an increase of 0.6%, simply because civilian employment figures showed a drop of 0.5% and there was more overtime.
  • Congressman Paul Ryan's attack "budget" aimed to turn Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security into a sieve instead of a safety net. The fact that his fellow Republicans in the House forced passage of this piece of garbage with no hope of it ever becoming law speaks volumes about who they really work for: There are no corporate tax increases in Ryan's asinine proposal, only cuts to programs that serve the poor and vulnerable. And some jackass in what passes for the press in the U.S. these days called Ryan courageous for it.
  • Oil companies are reporting record profits, but House Republicans refused to entertain the idea of eliminating $53 billion in zero-royalty drilling over the next 25 years and $36.5 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies over the next decade. In 2011, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and Shell posted a combined $18.2 billion in profits for the first quarter. That's a 40% increase over 2010.
  • S&P downgraded the U.S. debt from AAA to AA+, specifically citing the tantrum thrown by Republicans in the House over raising the debt ceiling as a major factor in the move. S&P called the behavior unpredictable. It was treasonous. It was also effectively ignored by the corporate media, conveniently.
  • Corporations paying no federal income tax on record-breaking profits received tax refunds totaling billions of dollars.
  • In states across the country, the full ramifications of Citizens United were felt as elected officials were bought by corporate "persons" and ALEC-written corporatist legislation was introduced and passed by the ream. Jobs? We don't need no stinking jobs. We need voter suppression/ID measures. We need corporate takeover of essential public services. We need to eliminate public education in all but name in favor of voucher schools so that money can be made, and the Word of the Profit can be spread among the young. We need to sell off the commons to our handlers without bids. We need to bust all unions, starting with the public employees and teachers because we can, followed by the rest as soon as we can draft the right-to-work laws.
It's stunning that private sector workers believe, because their employers treat them like pieces of furniture, that public employees, by God, deserve to be treated the same. How does it make anybody's lot better when government sets an example that lowers standards for everyone? People actually seem perversely proud of getting screwed by their employers, at least when they're talking about the evil of public sector unionism. The justification for union busting in the public sector is that profit sector workers are getting sodomized by profit sector corporations. Puh-leeze. The idea that "every dollar that comes out of a public worker's pocket is one that doesn't come out of a private worker's pocket" is horseshit. The taxes that generate that dollar will still be paid by common people, not corporations, and it will go to corporate welfare, not back to the people.

It really boils down to the incontrovertible fact that corporations are not people. The only moral imperative a corporation has is to profit, regardless who gets hurt or impoverished in the process. Left entirely to their own devices, corporations attempt to eliminate things that constrain their ability to profit in any way they see fit. Corporations are not people. They are reptilian, and their unrestrained appetites are perhaps the truest and most widespread evil in the world today.

The desire for "freedom of will" in the superlative, metaphysical sense, such as still holds sway, unfortunately, in the minds of the half-educated, the desire to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for one's actions oneself, and to absolve God, the world, ancestors, chance, and society therefrom, involves nothing less than to be precisely this causa sui, and, with more than Munchausen daring, to pull oneself up into existence by the hair, out of the slough of nothingness.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Beyond Good and Evil, 21

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Evil Workingman

Cartoon by Ben Yomen
The building gradually goes quiet as the staff leaves for home. While the hum of the ventilation system takes over from the murmur of office business, he saves the file he's been editing and stands to chase down a cup of stale coffee to zap.

It's his favorite part of the day. No phones ring in the cube farm after 5, and he can work uninterrupted by colleagues who can't conceive that the urgency of their word processing impairment isn't several orders of magnitude greater than whatever it is he might be working on. Working for the public means wearing another new hat just about every week as people and jobs disappear from the state service; one of his current collection has "I am your Help Desk" written on it. He does what he can, but some days it eats into his schedule so badly the only way to get everything done is to stay late, off the clock. Being frugal with the public's dime.

He has recently come to the conclusion that, as an employer, until they turn off Fox and start paying attention, the public will suck.

When the microwave beeps, he takes the mug back to his cube and sets it on the desk, trying to ease back into "terminal" mode as he sits down. Taking a ginger sip of the scalding coffee, he realizes as the document rolls back up that there's no more work in him tonight. His eyes are sandy, his mouth tastes like the inside of a running shoe, and there is a bone-deep fatigue that comes only from pouring your awareness into a computer for hours on end.

Out of gas, he thinks. Which reminds him of the drive home, which reminds him of the drive in this morning. Which unfortunately reminds him of a clip of Rush Limbaugh demanding that House speaker John Boehner (R-*hic) put Barack Obama "in his place" for having the effrontery to ask to hold a joint session of Congress so he could present a jobs package at the same time NBC is presenting the Republican candidates debate, another miraculous battle of wits between weaponless combatants. He didn't know whether to laugh or cry that the whole thing appeared as though Limbaugh demanded and the Boner delivered. Breathtakingly full of shit.

He wonders how much money would it take to buy one state back from these thieving ALEC droids? How much for the whole country?  More than we've got, maybe. He starts shutting down to leave.

As he waits for the screen to die, his tired mind starts running a dreary, familiar treadmill: how did they convince so many people that government and public workers are the enemy? He's read letters to the editor and comments online bordering on and sometimes crossing the line into threats of physical violence. The idea that private sector employees are somehow going to be better off because some punk-ass governor busts public employee unions is a lie, but it's a very successful lie.

We are all being taken for a ride, he thinks, and they have us at each others' throats while they steal everything that isn't nailed down.

It's simple, he thinks, grimacing with a final sip of acrid coffee: private sector workers are being screwed by the corporations and companies that employ them, not by me. If a private sector employer takes away their contribution to health insurance and 401k's, cuts wages, or better yet just sends jobs overseas and gets a tax break for doing it, the government is not doing its job.

"And that would be," he says aloud to the empty computer screen, "because the government is no longer here; it has moved on."

There is no answer, just silence at the end of a very long day. Or the beginning of a very dark night.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Job-killing de-regulation is strangling people all over the country

Republican Presidential hopeless Mitt "How's My Hair" Romney had the following to say when asked why he supports entitlement "reforms" over progressive tax reform as a means of deficit reduction:
"Corporations are people, my friend... of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings my friend."
Everything corporations earn goes to the people? I guess I missed the memo on that one. As a public employee for the state of Wisconsin, one of "the people," I'd like to know where the hell my cut is, Mitt. I'd like to know when Charles and David Koch are going to stop their hostile takeover of my state and pay me. I'd like to know when our ass-hat Governor is going to go to his corporate handlers and convince them to put some of the millions they've used to destroy fair elections in my state to work feeding, clothing, housing and caring for the people who will soon be unable to do those things for themselves.

I am sick to death of hearing how the evil unions and liberals are at fault for the screwed up mess our political system and economy are in, and how the nice corporate fascists are everybody's friend. I had nothing to do with it, yet I take the blame because I have the audacity to belong to a union (which is essentially castrated for now). The kinds of overt attacks we're seeing today were perpetrated on working folks in the 20s and 30s. Think for a minute about where THAT ended up. In his Ignorance Index post of 7/15 on Campaign for America's Future, Robert Borosage answers the coporate meme that "job-killing regulations . . . are strangling employers all over the country" with the following:

Borosage opines: 
In reality, the whole mantra of “job-killing regulation” could only come from a party command center that rivals Orwell's Ministry of Truth, touting “ignorance is strength.”

We just lost 7 million jobs in a devastating recession largely caused by Wall Street’s excesses – aided and abetted by what turned out to be "job killing DE-regulation." 
So . . . repeat after me:
Job-killing de-regulation is strangling people all over the country . . .
Job-killing de-regulation is strangling people all over the country . . .
Job-killing de-regulation is strangling people all over the country . . .
Job-killing de-regulation is strangling people all over the country . . .

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Profit Margin

Tea party republicanism, which means ALL republicanism today, is based entirely on, and driven entirely by, profit. Greed, if you will, has become so central to the party's philosophy that they felt compelled to attack the US economy, make that world economy, simply to prevent taxes being raised on the Ayn-Randians, corporatists and fascist scumbags who overwhelmingly populate the top 2% of the economic food chain. Their handlers see themselves as the ruling class and have since the turn of the LAST century, so this is nothing new. (Google "plot against Roosevelt").

They are launching attack after attack on the common people and workers of this country, both nationally and at the state level. While they characterize themselves as the entitled cream of the crop, it's important for the rest of us to remember: Shit Floats.

Time to flush.


Friday, July 8, 2011

The Boston Tea Party was sparked by a corporate bailout, not high taxes

December 16, 1773: John Adams and a band of marauders posing as native Americans raid British ships in Boston Harbor, throwing their cargo of British East India Company tea into the ocean.

They were protesting the taxes levied by the British Parliament on their favorite cuppa, or so most folks have been taught. That, like most historical assumptions by the modern Teapublican party, is butt-end-forward.

What Adams and the original tea partiers were protesting was not a high tax on tea. It was in fact British government subsidies that allowed the East India Company to sell their tea more cheaply than their competition in the colonies, who had been smuggling untaxed tea from the Netherlands. From tax historian Joseph J. Thorndike, writing on

The Tea Party was part of a longer protest against British taxation of the North American colonies. The conflict had its roots in the French and Indian War (known as the Seven Years' War in Europe). Having run up a huge debt fighting the war -- and defending the colonies from external threat -- the British thought the colonists should help pay it back. But the colonists had other ideas, and they resisted British attempts to collect new taxes. In 1765 they objected to the Stamp Act, insisting that Britain could levy taxes only to regulate trade, not raise revenue. London capitulated. The next year Parliament took another run at the colonial purse, imposing the Townshend duties on a variety of goods imported into the colonies, including paper, paint, lead, glass, and tea. Once again the colonists organized boycotts and protests, and once again Britain backed down. But rather than repeal all the Townshend duties, Parliament chose to retain the tax on tea, chiefly to underscore the government's right to impose such a levy.

For a while the colonists seemed content to ignore that imperial assertion. But in 1773 Parliament passed the Tea Act, which left the Townshend duty on tea intact, but repealed another tax on tea imported to Great Britain for subsequent reshipment to the colonies. This amounted to a tax cut on colonial tea, promising lower prices for colonial consumers.

Bostonians responded by dumping their cheap imported tea into Boston Harbor.

So . . . what the original Tea Party was actually agitating against was precisely the kind of government-supported corporatism that its modern counterpart has whole-heartedly embraced. Thorndike continues:

The Tea Party was prompted by a corporate bailout. What's not to like about cheap tea? Plenty, at least when it comes as part of a corporate bailout. Because that's what the Tea Act was: an 18th-century version of corporate welfare.

After Parliament repealed all the Townshend duties except the tax on tea, colonists seemed to ignore the assertion of the right to tax the colonies. Boycotts petered out, and colonial consumers began buying tea again. But not all that tea was taxed. A large portion -- by some estimates as much as 90 percent -- came from smugglers, who sold Dutch tea unburdened by the British duty.

Meanwhile Parliament was struggling to rescue a corporation it had deemed too big to fail: the British East India Company. The company was saddled with a large debt and even larger inventories. Its warehouses were stocked to the rafters with unsold tea (among other things), and lawmakers soon hit on a brilliant idea: lower the tax on company tea, permit its direct exportation to the colonies, and let the company undercut the smugglers.

The original Tea Party was no more a movement of the folk than the Tea Party of today. Even though modern marchers, shouters, and protesters might be deluded commoners, they are bought, paid for, and lied to by a global cabal of corporate fascists who fully intend to take the United States down and feast on its corpse.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Incentive to create jobs: Taxes

If taxes are returned to appropriate levels, corporations will plow profits back into growth and JOBS WILL BE CREATED. Further tax cuts will only mean more of the same or worse.

If the Republicans block a timely increase of the U.S. debt ceiling . . .

they will deliver a broken, impoverished and discredited USA into the hands of the Democrats for the next 50 years, and destroy economies the world over in a global Depression that will make the 1930s seem like a day at the beach.

Furthermore, if Barack Obama caves in to their demands to destroy Medicare and Social Security in exchange for a vote to raise the debt limit without corresponding increases in revenue, the Depression is only going to happen later rather than immediately. One of the country's creditors is its own Social Security fund; another is Medicare. Even if these programs are gutted or destroyed, someone still has to take care of the people they covered, and it won't be the wealthy.

You can't spend what you don't collect. Cutting spending without raising revenue will not lower the existing debt; we need to raise taxes. We need to get rid of the entitlements of the wealthy and the corporations and force them to shoulder their fair share of the burden that they helped to create by refusing to pony up.

The rich are not entitled to a free ride. They made their goddamned money off the backs of the middle class they are hell-bent on destroying. If they succeed in forcing the US into default, everybody, including corporate "persons," is going down.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Fox in the Statehouse

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was formed in 1973 to promote conservative social policy and influence legislators on issues like abortion and the equal rights amendment. Its founder, Paul Weyrich, also co-founded the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, and is responsible for the catch-phrase "Moral Majority."

Weyrich has pretty much disappeared from ALEC's public face. The organization, with the help of none other than former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson ("I always found new ideas and then I’d take them back to Wisconsin, disguise them a little bit, and declare that it’s mine."), morphed through the years into the "ultimate smoke-filled room" that it is today, providing access for corporate members to state legislators and writing bills that benefit big business, big pharma, and big oil, which are then taken back to state legislatures and in part passed into law. In 2009, according to their own Legislative Scorecard, there were 826 ALEC bills introduced in statehouses across the U.S., of which 115 were enacted into law.

ALEC holds a number of functions each year, basically opportunities for corporate reps and legislators to meet, and from which each legislator may return with a package of pre-researched and pre-written legislation that makes the lawmaker look diligent, and favors whichever of ALEC's corporate members has an agenda in their home state.

You can see this fascinating process at work right here in Wisconsin. Taking three current or former (as of 2010) corporate members of ALEC (listed in a report by the American Association for Justice, formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)), let's take a guess and match up the Wisconsin legislation that has been written for them and passed by our legislature:

National Association of Bail Insurance Companies: language in the budget bill that strikes down a ban on their activities in Wisconsin. Jerry Watson, American Bail Coalition, is also immediate past chair of the ALEC Private Sector Board. Update: This was vetoed by Walker before he signed the bill.

National Beer Wholesalers Association: language in the budget bill that forces local craft breweries to distribute their products through wholesalers and barring smaller breweries from distributing directly to retail outlets.

National Rifle Association: the concealed-carry law recently passed.

Some other interesting facts from the Association for Justice report:

  • On the ALEC Private Sector Board: Mike Morgan, representing Koch Industries.
  • The Public Sector Board is comprised of 23 members, of whom only three are Democrats.
  • ALEC's Wisconsin State Chairmen in 2010:
    Scott L. Fitzgerald and Michael D. Huebsch.

So . . . You thought the Wisconsin Legislature represented your interests? They are way, way too busy for that nonsense.


Comfort is the enemy of growth

Monday, June 13, 2011


The word "entitlement" is lately used by neo-Fascist ideologues as a verbal truncheon to bash everyone who views programs like Social Security and Medicare, not as tax-funded hand-outs, but insurance programs whereby the people who pay into them their entire working lives can reap the benefits of retirement income and affordable healthcare late in life. I am convinced that the most "entitled" group of folks in the United States are those who want to gut those programs and grab the money for themselves and their corporate puppeteers.

They deserve it. Just ask one. The poor corporate brethren need tax-cut dollars so they can be reassured that the whole of society is still willing to kiss their collective ass, at its own expense. When so many of us daftly vote against our best interest, those doing the taking have no reason to fear they will be stopped.

Is it a fluke that when you Google "definition of entitlement" one of the alternate searches that pops up at the bottom of the results pages is a search for "definition of narcissistic personality disorder?"

From the staff of the Mayo Clinic:
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Wow. Let's just slash everything government, state or federal, does that actually helps people and hand the programs over to these greedy, whining bastards so they can feel better. Maybe we can get John Boehner to stop bawling every time he steps up to a mic . . . well, never mind. He gives the comedians ammunition. The loss of the safety net that protects society's most vulnerable members? Not funny at all. Delivering those same at-risk folks to the mercies of Wall Street and the for-profit healthcare cabal? Sick.

The words "inflated sense of their own importance" describe the absolute arrogance of the actions taken and proposed by the new breed Republican Party to a tee (or Tea, if you prefer). The willingness to inflict profound hardship on millions of U.S. families is evil in theory and evil in practice. Corporate profits, if we are to believe what we're being told, are more important than our obligation to take care of those of us who can't take care of themselves.

To end by going to the source of most of this illness, some food for thought from Ayn Rand:

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.”
Ayn Rand

I could die for you. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, live for you.”
Ayn Rand in The Fountainhead


Comfort is the enemy of growth

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Country Needs Jobs: Wealthfare Doesn't Create Jobs

It's time we got past the fantasy that tax cuts for rich people and rich corporations are necessary to create jobs. Every attempt at increasing employment will be doomed to fail as long as tax cuts for those who don't need them are the starting point.

Let's say Company A pays nothing in taxes on its profits. Does Company A feel any need to put money back into the economy, or to grow its own business and hire more people? Absolutely not. Because it pays no tax, it can keep all it makes and pay its top execs obscene salaries and bonuses and tell the rest of the country to buzz off. Thanks in major part to the Ayn Randian Objectivist taint that has infected politics and political discourse in the U.S. these days, this is what we have to live with.

Company B, on the other hand, is taxed at a reasonable but much higher rate than Company A's 0%. In order to avoid paying any more tax than they have to, the management of Company B is way more likely to plow profits back into the company, expanding their business and creating jobs, which tends to reduce government debt by generating even further tax revenue.

The idea that taxes must be cut for the wealthy, whether individuals or corporate "citizens," in order for jobs to be created for the rest of us is a lie. Or, more accurately, another lie in a long string of destructive and costly lies inflicted on the American public in the last decade. The truth is that job-creators will not create schitt unless they are facing a threat to their profits that can be mitigated only by growing their businesses and hiring people. If they have another alternative, they are going to keep their money and thumb their nose at the society that made them rich in the first place. Personal and corporate wealth is the result of a vibrant, robust economy, not the cause of it.

I used to consider the sick state of the economy and politics in the U.S. to be largely the result of greed. There is indeed greed involved, but it seems more and more to be a symptom of the process than a cause. With the leadership of our conservative faction having been enchanted by the soulless materialism of Ayn Rand's Supermen, and due to their very effective crushing of opposing ideas in the media, the U.S. is teetering on the brink of both a depression and a descent into modern-day fascism.

Altruism is defined by as:
1: unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others.
2: behavior by an animal that is not beneficial to or may be harmful to itself but that benefits others of its species.

Altruism, along with religion, is defined by Ayn Rand and her disciples as: Evil.

Rand's philosophy does not object to caring for others. It is a "personal choice," however, that is acceptable only when practiced on that basis. It is wrong, for instance, for a government to decree that the unfortunate members of its society are to be cared for by the rest. Rand rejects the idea that human beings are somehow obligated to help their fellow humans.

This is not a world I want to live in. But it is the world that the Republican wrecking crew want for all of us, because it will allow their backers to run amok with no accountability. And, as odious as I find Ayn Rand, that is actually a perversion of her basic Objectivist principles.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Paul Ryan's War on Common Folks

What the Republican and Tea (that's Take Everything Away) parties are risking by playing chicken with world financial systems is . . . everything. Because they are the rich and represent the rich, they don't care how or whether the rest of us survive; they'll be okay.

Not raising the debt ceiling will cause a massive recession and put the economy farther down the toilet than it has been since the 1930s. Current Republican leaders know and acknowledge this. If they vote to default, it is nothing short of treason, in my mind, and anti-American. It will immediately jack interest rates on everything, including mortgages and small business loans, by 3 to 5 percent. They cannot reduce the deficit by freezing the debt ceiling. They can only destroy both the U.S. and global economies by defaulting on what we owe the rest of the planet.
Some uncomfortable facts:
  1. The debt ceiling was raised seven times and nearly doubled under George W. Bush, from $6.4 trillion 2002 to $11.32 trillion in 2008. Nobody was squawking; that started after Bush left Washington for good.
  2. Paul Ryan's mean-spirited and fiscally ignorant budget (not "bold" or "courageous" in any way), by further cutting taxes on the richest citizens and corporations and thereby further reducing federal revenue, ensures that the debt limit will have to be raised over the next decade to the tune of an estimated $6 trillion or more, from its current level of $14.29 trillion to well over $20 trillion.
  3. Ryan's household goddess, Ayn Rand, modeled the character of Republican Party icon Howard Roark on serial murderer William Edward Hickman (more here; be prepared, it's nasty). Of this deadly sociopath, Rand wrote: "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should." He had, she noted, "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"

So, let me see if I can sort this out. Paul Ryan is proposing to add $6 trillion to the national debt over the next decade, the bulk of which is in the form of continued and increased wealth-fare tax cuts. At the same time, and in the same piece of legislation, he suggests a reduction in federal spending by destroying Medicare, Medicaid, and eventually (maybe not in this bill, but don't ever doubt it's coming) Social Security. And do you think your taxes are going down? Not a chance. Somebody has to fund all of Ryan's "premium support" payments to his handlers, the private sector health insurers and Wall Street thieves. Unlike vouchers, which would be given to Medicare recipients who would then shop insurers, premium support goes directly to the insurer. No muss, no fuss, and no accountability. Either way, senior citizens are going to be smacked with the majority of their medical bills, as high as 68% by some estimates. With those who can best afford tax increases refusing to shoulder their part of the load, the rest of us are going to be hit very, very hard if Ryan and the rest of the Republican goon squad get their way.

Udate: Okay, this is in practice a voucher program. Legitimate "premium support" payments would rise with the over-all cost of the premiums, so that the cost to the subscriber should remain level. Not so with the Ryan plan.
Henry Aaron of the Brokings Institute:
If one does the arithmetic, income grows a few percentage points faster than prices. Health-care spending grows faster than income by a couple of percentage points. So we’re looking at linking to an index that grows less rapidly than health-care costs by three to four percentage points a year. Piled up over 10 years, and that’s a huge erosion of coverage. It’s vouchers, not premium support.
Washington Post

Damaging or destroying the lives of millions of American families? That's not a problem for Paul Ryan. Just remember where he gets his inspiration: "Other people do not exist for him . . ."


Comfort is the enemy of growth

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The 4th Reich, part 2

fas·cism/ˈfaSHizəm/Noun [courtesy Wikipedia]

  1. An authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

  2. (in general use) Extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.

Political scientist Dr. Lawrence Britt, in studying the fascist regimes of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet, discerned that they had 14 elements in common. He calls these the identifying characteristics of fascism in a spring 2003 article entitled Fascism Anyone? in Free Inquiry magazine, vol. 23 #2.

When I ran across this list, I was appalled at how many of these things I can see coming to pass in the U.S. today. Hell, I am appalled at how many of them I can see happening in my home state.

  1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

    If the crazies ever get complete control, will there be flags, eagles, red, white and blue everything, everywhere, all the time? It's too early to tell; they haven't destroyed enough of our democracy yet. We have seen the whole "why do liberals hate America" thing, so we're tending in that direction.

  2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

    See Gitmo. See also a whole raft of shit we'll never know about.

  3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

    All of the above, actually. They can't seem to decide which they are most afraid of.

  4. Supremacy of the Military
    Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

    The military gets the funding, and domestic problems are ignored, but they haven't gotten around to the glamor part yet; maybe WikiLeaks gave us all a little too much information. Or is that what all those "Support Our Troops" stickers were about?

  5. Rampant Sexism
    The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

    Yep. I don't know what more I can say. Conservatives in this country are more afraid of gay people than they are of terrorists, if you believe the BS. Mostly it's just white noise to distract you from the outright theft of democracy that's going on behind the scenes.

  6. Controlled Mass Media
    Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

    The media don't have to be censored. They are, for the most part, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Wall Street Axis of Greed and parrot their handlers' crap endlessly. Not just Fox News, but all of the major networks, including PBS. If you get your news from the television, you are probably being lied to.

  7. Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

    Can I get a witness? Except the conservatives are using fear to bag votes, at this point. They don't yet have masses to control.

  8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

    The thing to remember is that Christianity is not the motivation for the actions of the conservative core; it is an excuse used by shadowy fear-mongers to scare the shit out of people.

  9. Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

    This is imminent. Check out "financial martial law," Governors Scott Walker and Rick Snyder, for starters, and think about the fact that local control of local governments is being destroyed in favor of what amounts to a hostile corporate takeover. It's reality in Michigan, and about to be in several other states with Republican governors and legislatures. Couple that with the Citizens United decision that bought most of these bastards into office and you have a pretty grim picture of our future.

  10. Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

    I am a union state employee in Wisconsin. Google it if you don't know why that's important. Also Google "Scott Walker" + "David Koch" to get a whiff of the shit that's gone down here.

  11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

    Anti-intellectualism has been a staple of the loony right for a long time, but it's being codified into law in several states today. Take a look at the fact that HUGE amounts of state aid to public school systems is being slashed, as is state and federal aid to higher education, and you can't miss the agenda: Conservatives don't like smart voters who know when they are getting screwed. Corporations don't like smart employees who know what they are worth.

  12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

    We don't have a national police force yet, but when you consider garbage like Arizona's sick immigration control law, many states' addiction to "getting tough on crime" that results in huge prison populations, and huge profits for the corporations that both build and run those prisons, you see the same cadre of greed-heads you find behind most of this process.

  13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

    Wow. Scott Walker's so-called budget repair bill contains language that takes a number of supervisory positions out of Wisconsin's civil service system and makes them into political appointments, or it will if the chicken-shit way they tried to railroad the bill through ever gets out of the court system intact. There are other instances here in Wisconsin, and I imagine it's happening wherever the voters believed the lies and elected these thieves.

  14. Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

    I consider any election that does not reflect the choices of the people based on good information, access to candidates, and trust in the electoral system to be fraudulent. The amount of money being dumped into local and state races by outside corporate entities to distort the facts and smear candidates is obscene. The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed itself to be used to circumvent the electoral process in Florida in the 2000 presidential election (Bush v. Gore) is truly sick.


Comfort is the enemy of growth

Monday, April 25, 2011

The 4th Reich takes shape

Under a proposal from State Sen. Bruce Casswell of Michigan, foster children would be forced to purchase clothing only in used clothing stores. Tidy way to save the Duchy of Michigan a little coin and keep the down-trodden down by marking them as wards of the state with second-hand clothes.

I have nothing against St. Vinnie's, Goodwill, the Salvation Army, or any resale stores, particularly those doing charity work. In fact, I shop there myself quite often. I have a familial urge to paw through other folks' throw-aways, for one thing, and I have a cheap streak that needs feeding now and again.

But I CHOOSE to. The kids affected by this scumbag's proposal already had most of their choices taken away from them when they left their families and entered the social service system. They have already been victimized at home, most likely, and were put in foster care to protect them from the chaos.

For the state to then use the excuse of saving money to further demean and victimize them is un-American, as is Bruce Casswell for proposing it.

When I first read the article, I was struck speechless by Casswell's lame, whiney response:

“I never had anything new,” Caswell says. “I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was — and quite frankly it’s true — once you’re out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes.”

Nobody knows where you bought your clothes . . . except you, Bruce. You knew, and I bet it bothered the HELL out of you.

You're not alone, man. There are a lot of un-Americans who are just as cheap and mean-spirited as you are:

Trying to kill Medicare, MedicAid and Social Security while insisting on giving further tax cuts to people who don't need them and should in fact be paying more is un-American, along with those who promote it. Trumping up government deficits and using them as a flimsy excuse to bust public employee unions is un-American. Yes, Scott; that's you. Firing duly elected public officials and replacing them with a corporate manager under fascist "financial martial law" is un-American and makes Rick Snyder uber-un-American. Providing subsidies and tax breaks for corporations to off-shore jobs and profits is un-American, as are the corporations taking the money and holding their collective hand out for more. To interpret the law in such a way as to allow these same un-American corporations to contribute limitless dollars to politicians, literally buying elections and killing any opposition to this assault on democracy, is un-American.

And finally, for creating a deafening din of outright lies, half-truths, and innuendo so loud that any real dialog about this attack on U.S. democracy, or about what can be done to fix the economy and the political system, has become impossible: Fox News Network, all of their self-serving contributors, every paleoconservative talk show host and newspaper columnist from the top to the bottom of the food chain, and everyone who listens to or reads them without questioning, are undeniably un-American.


Comfort is the enemy of growth