Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday Funnies: GOP Edition

  What a week for news of those Republican’s who are not running for the coveted presidential nomination. Sarah Palin decided that she will not seek the nomination even after a strong showing of support from everyone in her family. I would surmise that she also probably wasn’t raking in to much cash from her “ send me money, and I’ll tell you “ website. Maybe now she’ll go back to Alaska and kill off some other small town budget.

   New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also decided that the run for the White House wasn’t worth his time either after he found out that there really was no McDonalds in the oval office… or a Dunkin Doughnuts… or a…

Jay Leno: "Sarah Palin announced she’s not running. Finally, a Palin who pulls out before it’s too late."

"They say Chris Christie decided not to get into the presidential race because he has no shot at winning. That’s not stopping President Obama though."

Jimmy Kimmel: "Sarah Palin will not run for president, which is good news for Palin-haters, but bad news for the moose population."

"Are you telling me that driving around the country in a bus with a giant picture of her face next to the Constitution was just a giant publicity stunt? I find that hard to believe."

David Letterman: "Chris Christie would have been the first American President visible from space. The Marine Band would have played 'Hail to the Chef.' If he'd run, the Republicans would have had to choose between him and Rick Perry. One's morbidly obese, and the other is morally obtuse."

Stephen Colbert: "Big changes in the Republican field. It's a 10-way tie for Not Romney."

David Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons Chris Christie Is Not Running for President"

10. As always, he's following his gut
9. Wants to spend more time with pie
8. There isn't a Quiznos within five miles of the White House
7. Afraid of going up against the Newt Gingrich juggernaut
6. Doesn't own a tie without a mustard stain
5. He was advised against it by his closest confidante, Duncan Hines
4. Constitution requires every candidate to be able to see their feet
3. Can't understand response because of chewing
2. Hank Williams, Jr. just compared him to Stalin
1. He was born in Kenya

Occupy Wall Street Highlights Tea Party's Bogus Populism

Avenging Angel   Wed Oct 05, 2011

Back in April 2009, Daily Show host Jon Stewart summed up the Tea Party movement, "I think you might be confusing tyranny with losing."  His description, it turns out, was exactly right.  Tea Partiers complained they were "Taxed Enough Already" despite virtually all receiving tax relief from President Obama and America seeing the total federal tax burden at its lowest level since 1950.  They decried "Obamacare" for its nonexistent "death panels" and "government takeover of health care" even as the Affordable Care Act would cover 30 million more Americans and reduce the U.S. national debt.  And after pocketing millions of dollars in funding from the usual right-wing sugar daddies, the Tea Party's Republicans in Republicans' clothing duly voted Republican in the 2010 midterm elections.

Which is why the leading lights of the Republican Party are so quick to denounce the Occupy Wall Street movement now spreading across the country.  Its platform and ultimate political impact may not be clear.  But unlike the Tea Party, its populism is authentic.

That goes a long way towards explaining the vitriol coming from Republican candidates and their amen corner.  For his part, National Review editor Rich Lowry declared, "Occupy Wall Street is toxic and pathetic."  Michelle Malkin, who in 2009 urged her readers to "Go Galt" in response to Barack Obama giving them the largest two-year tax cut in modern American history, chortled that the OWS rallies around the country are 99% white.  And Herman Cain, the new GOP White House frontrunner of sorts, blamed the protesters themselves for their economic plight:

"I don't have facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself! [...] It is not someone's fault if they succeeded, it is someone's fault if they failed."

Mitt Romney, the $250 million man who proclaimed himself "middle class" and joked with jobless voters that "I'm also unemployed," had another term for those demonstrating against the Wall Street banks that caused the national financial calamity they alone have recovered from.

"I think it's dangerous, this class warfare."

To that, a puzzled Donald Trump added, "Nobody knows why they're protesting."

Here's a clue.  The 99%, as Ezra Klein described the protesters, "sense that the fundamental bargain of our economy -- work hard, play by the rules, get ahead -- has been broken, and they want to see it restored."  Personally struggling with stubbornly high unemployment and endless home foreclosures, they see corporate America back to record profitability after Wall Street banks were bailed out by American taxpayers.   While executive pay rose by 23% last year, since 2009 corporate profits "captured 88% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1% of the growth in real national income."  At with income inequality at its highest level in 80 years and the federal tax bill at its lowest in 60, proposals for even small increases in upper income tax rates are greeted with charges of "class war" from those who won it.

Perhaps more than anything, the Washington Post's Suzy Khimm explained Tuesday, the Occupy movement wants "less corporate money in politics."  In contrast, as Politico documented just the day before, the Tea Party wants more:

The groups -- Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, Leadership Institute and Tea Party Express - raised $79 million last year. That's a 61 percent increase from their haul in 2009, when the tea party first started gaining traction, and an 88 percent increase over their tally in 2008, according to a POLITICO review of campaign reports and newly released tax filings.

And the two biggest groups -- Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks -- tell POLITICO they're planning to raise and spend a whopping $156 million combined this year and next, laying the groundwork for what could be a massive tea party organizing push against Democrats and the occasional moderate Republican in 2012.

From the beginning, those front groups for Dick Armey and the Koch brothers funded and coordinated the Astroturfed Tea Party movement, even distributing strategy memos on how to disrupt Democratic town hall meetings.


But largely lost in that seeming consensus about the triumph of right-wing populist anger in November was the inescapable truth about the Tea Partiers. That is, these older, whiter and more ideologically conservative voters are just Republicans by another name. And by the time the 2012 GOP presidential primaries roll around, they will be indistinguishable from the rest of the Republican hard line base.

To be sure, the 2010 exit polls confirmed that Tea Baggers are just Republicans who shout louder. The national House exit poll found that 40% of those surveyed supported the Tea Party. That's virtually identical to the 41% favorable opinion of the Republican Party. Unsurprisingly, their behavior in the voting booth was also identical, as the GOP captured 87% of the Tea Baggers' ballots.

If you had any lingering doubts that the Tea Party's righteous rage and town hall takeovers was just a continuation of the 2008 presidential campaign by others, just take a quick look back at any McCain-Palin rally from that fall.  Or, you can turn to the growing mountain of studies of showing that Tea Party Republicans are nothing new under the sun.

In August, professors Robert Putnam and David Campbell published their findings from a sampling of 3,000 Americans.  As their summed up what they learned about these ever more extreme - and unpopular - social conservatives:

Our analysis casts doubt on the Tea Party's 'origin story.' Early on, Tea Partiers were often described as nonpartisan political neophytes. Actually, the Tea Party's supporters today were highly partisan Republicans long before the Tea Party was born, and were more likely than others to have contacted government officials. In fact, past Republican affiliation is the single strongest predictor of Tea Party support today.

What's more, contrary to some accounts, the Tea Party is not a creature of the Great Recession. Many Americans have suffered in the last four years, but they are no more likely than anyone else to support the Tea Party. And while the public image of the Tea Party focuses on a desire to shrink government, concern over big government is hardly the only or even the most important predictor of Tea Party support among voters.

So what do Tea Partiers have in common? They are overwhelmingly white, but even compared to other white Republicans, they had a low regard for immigrants and blacks long before Barack Obama was president, and they still do.

Campbell and Putnam also exposed another aspect of the Tea Party ersatz populism.  "Next to being a Republican, the strongest predictor of being a Tea Party supporter today," they wrote, "was a desire to see religion play a prominent role in politics."

The Tea Party's generals may say their overriding concern is a smaller government, but not their rank and file, who are more concerned about putting God in government.

As for the tens of thousands of Occupy demonstrators in New York and around the country, they simply want corporations out of government.  And those nurses and students, unemployed technicians and supportive union members, want to see government to help put Americans back to work.

* Crossposted at Perrspectives *

Originally posted to Avenging Angel on Wed Oct 05, 2011 at 04:30 PM PDT.
Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Class Warfare Newsletter: The Plutocracy VS the Working Class, Occupy Wall Street, and Community Spotlight.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Protesters…

…. are still going strong and there is a planned “ occupation “ today in Washington, D.C. Let us hope that there is a massive gathering of supporters at this event, and that at least one major mainstream news outlet is there to cover this with some real, actual reporting. That omits FoxNews by default.

    This is a movement which needs to gather more steam with each passing day not only in Manhattan and D.C., but in cities and towns all over the United States.

   Wake the hell up, people! The time is now to partake in some non-violent civil disobedience!

Jonathan Zimmerman, at The Christian Science Monitor:

Taking aim at corporate greed and corruption, the demonstrators embody a venerable tradition of American populism. From the dawn of the republic until the recent past, Americans celebrated hard-working folk and denounced financial titans who preyed upon them. However intemperate or excessive, their protest language fueled some of our most important social reforms – including the regulation and control of the financial sector itself.

Start with the author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, who feared that a “moneyed aristocracy” would bind the young nation into a new set of chains. “And I sincerely believe...that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies,” Jefferson warned. He reserved special disdain for financial speculation, which he labeled “a species of gambling destructive of morality.”

Several decades later, Andrew Jackson denounced the Second Bank of the United States as essentially a scam to enrich the wealthy at the workingman’s expense. He also helped sweep away property requirements for voting and office holding, rendering every white male the political equal of the “stock-jobbers, brokers, and gamblers” he despised.

By the late 1800s, as massive financial corporations clustered in lower Manhattan, the populist animus found a new target: Wall Street. “A name more thoroughly detested is not to be found in the vocabulary of American politics,” thundered Georgia’s Tom Watson, vice-presidential nominee for the upstart “People’s Party” in 1896. “Here is Wall Street: we see the actual rulers of the Republic.... The Government itself lies prone in the dust with the iron heel of Wall Street upon its neck.”

      As a side note, today is also the 10th anniversary of the  U.S. Occupation of Afghanistan. A very good day for a protest!

Video Pirate: Stupid Person Of The Day

   I do not generally bother posting such things as “ Stupid Person of the Day “ or whatever, but I found something in my mailbox on Tuesday that made me think of just how stupid this person must be, so I’m sharing this with you.

   A piece of paper was placed into the mailbox apparently before the mail was delivered with a list of movies on it which are available for purchase. It even had a movies for children section with such titles as Cars 2, Rio, and the Smurfs. Of course, it contains the latest releases and even has a “ Newest “ section containing Abduction, Drive, and Killer Elite.

   What truly got me laughing was that this moron actually placed not just one, but two phone numbers at the bottom of the sheet!

  Come on now. Who in their right minds, selling something illegally, puts and ad in a mailbox with their phone numbers on it? How stupid can you be?

Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, Dumb


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Medicare Open Enrollment…

    ….  time has come again for all of those Medicare recipients who wish to make changes with their coverage options for 2012. Enrollees even get an earlier start than previous years, with the current enrollment period to begin on October 15 and closing on December 7, which is also earlier than in the past.

   Those who wish to change plans can shop around right now as they hit the market on October 1. You can compare those plans at or you can do it the old fashioned way by calling 1.800.MEDICARE.

   So, what about the cost this year? Medicare Advantage plans are expecting premiums to be 4% lower than last year, with the same level of coverage according to the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

   For original Medicare Part B, you will have to wait until later this fall to hear about any increases.

    Part D prescription-drug coverage premiums are expected to stay in the area of $30 a month, but there is a catch to this as generic drugs prices discounts are going up from 7% to 14% once you reach the coverage gap known as the “ doughnut hole.”

   Changes are mandated by the Affordable Care Act, so thank your President for this.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Republican Enacted Voting Laws…

    …to fight their massive fantasy of non-existent  “ voter fraud “ is going to wreck havoc on the poor, disabled, and the younger voters.

   Just how bad is it…..thus far?

Five million could be disenfranchised under new voting laws

by  Joan McCarter     Mon Oct 03, 2011     Original

New York University School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice released a new study Monday detailing how widespread voter suppression has become as Republicans took over statehouses across the nation.


(Brennan Center)

Here's the breakdown of those five million potentially disenfranchised citizens (from the report overview [PDF]).

  1. 3.2 million voters affected by new photo ID laws. New photo ID laws for voting will be in effect for the 2012 election in five states (Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin), which have a combined citizen voting age population of just under 29 million. 3.2 million (11 percent) of those potential voters do not have state-issued photo ID. Rhode Island voters are excluded from this count, because Rhode Island’s new law’s requirements are significantly less onerous than those in the other states.
  2. 240,000 additional citizens and potential voters affected by new proof of citizenship laws. New proof of citizenship laws will be in effect in three states (Alabama, Kansas, Tennessee), two of which will also have new photo ID laws. Assuming conservatively that those without proof of citizenship overlap substantially with those without state-issued photo ID, we excluded those two states. The citizen voting age population in the remaining state (Alabama) is 3.43 million; 240,000 (7 percent) of those potential voters do not have documentary proof of citizenship.
  3. 202,000 voters registered in 2008 through voter registration drives that have now been made extremely difficult or impossible under new laws. Two states (Florida and Texas) passed laws restricting voter registration drives, causing all or most of those drives to stop. In 2008, 2.13 million voters registered in Florida and, very conservatively, at least 8.24 percent or 176,000 of them did so through drives. At least 501,000 voters registered in Texas, and at least 5.13 percent or 26,000 of them did so via drives.
  4. 60,000 voters registered in 2008 through Election Day voter registration where it has now been repealed. Maine abolished Election Day registration. In 2008, 60,000 Maine citizens registered and voted on Election Day.
  5. One to two million voters who voted in 2008 on days eliminated under new laws rolling back early voting. The early voting period was cut by half or more in three states (Florida, Georgia and Ohio). In 2008, nearly 8 million Americans voted early in these states. An estimated 1 to 2 million voted on days eliminated by these new laws.
  6. At least 100,000 disenfranchised citizens who might have regained voting rights by 2012. Two states (Florida and Iowa) made it substantially more difficult or impossible for people with past felony convictions to get their voting rights restored. Up to one million people in Florida could have benefited from the prior practice; based on the rates of restoration in Florida under the prior policy, 100,000 citizens likely would have gotten their rights restored by 2012. Other voting restrictions passed this year that are not included in this estimate.

These are just the laws passed so far. As many as 34 states have introduced legislation in the last 2 years to require government-issued photo identification to vote. At least 12 have introduced legislation requiring proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, to register to vote. As many as 13 states have introduced legislation ending same-day registration and limiting voter registration drives like those traditionally done by the League of Women Voters. At least nine states have introduced legislation to shorten early voting periods and four have tried to limit absentee voting.

The potential outcome of taking five million votes out of the mix in 2012? It could be the presidency, according to the Brennan Center.

  • The states that have already cut back on voting rights will provide 171 electoral votes in 2012 – 63 percent of the 270 needed to win the presidency.
  • Of the 12 likely battleground states, as assessed by an August Los Angeles Times analysis of Gallup polling, five have already cut back on voting rights (and may pass additional restrictive legislation), and two more are currently considering new restrictions.

And you know, of course, who is being disenfranchised: "young, minority, and low-income voters, as well as on voters with disabilities." In other words, people who generally vote Democratic. Which means it's a no-brainer that much of the legislation introduced and passed around the country is the work of ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council, the Koch brother's toy for taking over the country.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Oct 03, 2011
Also republished by Exposing ALEC and Daily Kos.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

America. A Christian Nation?

   A few weeks ago, I had started collecting biblical material based on things which Jesus said or had done. I was in the midst of  comparing Jesus’s teachings and mode of living to what the so-called conservative – Christians,  Tea Baggers Party, and Republicans in general preached and actually practiced. As I have stated in the past, you cannot be a conservative and a Christian. The two do not mix.

    Anyway, in between my trip to the hospital and other issues over the past few weeks, one Tom Ehrich of the Religion News Service came up with an article published in the Sunday newspapers which runs basically along the lines of what I was researching. the only difference is that his article looks at America as a whole, not just one segment.

So You Want America To Be A Christian Nation? Really?


GateHouse News Service

Posted Sep 30, 2011 @ 10:30 PM

What if America truly were a Christian nation? Not a Southern Baptist nation, or an Episcopal nation, or a Roman Catholic
nation. Not grounded in the doctrinal and ecclesiastical isms that have grown up over the centuries. But a Christian nation, doing what Jesus did.

Well, we wouldn't be arguing about sex, that's for sure. Jesus devoted no time to matters of sexuality.

We wouldn't be leading cheers for any particular economic system, capitalist or socialist, for in his many teachings about wealth and power, Jesus saw both as snares and delusions.

We wouldn't be taking votes on who gets medical care, or who gets to live, or who gets to learn, or whose rights matter more, or whose race or religion can't be allowed to breathe freely. For Jesus gave healing to all who asked, defended the lives of sinners, taught all who were eager to learn, welcomed all to his circle - even outcasts, lepers and children. He had no regard for his own tradition's finely tuned boundaries.

We wouldn't be loading great wealth onto the already wealthy, but rather would be asking them to follow the lead of biblical tax collector Zacchaeus and to give away half of what they have.

We wouldn't need as many lawyers, because generosity would trump
tax-reduction strategies, parables would trump rules, property would be shared as needed and people would be forgiving - not suing - each other.

If we were a genuinely Christian nation, we would be gathering the harvest of this abundant land and sharing it with the hungry of our own land and of many lands. We would forgive our enemies, speak truth to power and go forth to serve and to sacrifice, not to rule.

We would stand with the poor when predators circled around them. We would stand with sinners when the self-righteous picked up stones. We would join hands with nonconformists and strangers.

We would become God's beacon to the nations. And when the tired and poor followed that light to our borders, we would greet them with open arms and make room for them in our communities.

That's what Jesus did, and that is what it would mean to be a Christian nation.

So to those who insist that America be a Christian nation, I ask: Is this truly what you want? Do you want the I-was-hungry-and-you-gave-me-something-to-eat of Matthew 25? Do you want the
Sermon on the Mount? Do you want to shine God's light in the darkness?

Your behavior says no.

Your shouts against generosity say no.

Your penchant for oppressive culture says no.

Your willingness to shower wealth on the few while the many suffer says no.

Your hostility to freedom says no.

So stop pretending. At least be as honest as the hedge fund manager who paid himself $8 billion last year. It's "all about the Benjamins," not the Gospel. It's about stifling any freedom but your own. It's about imposing your cultural preferences on others. It's about turning your fears and appetites into law. It's about you, not about Jesus Christ.

That's the nature of politics, of course: one "you" versus another "you."
That's fine, and it's why we formed a democracy, so that our various interests could compete fairly. Just spare us the religious posturing.

If America became a Christian nation, doing what Jesus did, you would be aghast.

Tom Ehrich is an Episcopal priest, author and former Wall Street Journal reporter living in Winston-Salem, N.C