Be INFORMED

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Funnies: The Republican Party Clowns Edition

Newt-Tidings

David Letterman; "A campaign staffer on the Newt Gingrich campaign was fired because he was making negative comments about Mormons. I thought, 'Wait a minute, isn't Newt in favor of multiple wives?'"

"Michele Bachmann is picking running mates. That's like the Colts picking out Super Bowl rings."

"More good news for Newt Gingrich. Earlier today, he was endorsed by the voices in Glenn Beck's head."

"Newt has a holiday book out. 'The Newt Before Christmas.'"

Jay Leno: "Rick Perry said there were eight supreme court justices instead of nine. But, in his defense, he did know there were only three judges on 'Dancing With the Stars.'"

"Perry also said the Obama administration sent $500 million to the 'country of Solyndra.' If an energy company was a country, don't you think we would've invaded it by now?"

"Rick Perry was interviewed in a library, and they placed special books that were kind of mean: "Runnin' Texas for Dummies," "Supreme Court for Dummies," "Dumb & Dumber for Dummies."

Conan O'Brien: "Newt Gingrich released a statement promising he would not cheat on his wife. Even better, he said he wouldn't cheat on his next wife either, or the one after that."

Rick Scott's Guide to Unpopularity

by Doug Foote    Posted on Wed Dec 07, 2011

                                            Source

Florida Governor Rick Scott has achieved a historically low approval rating of 26 percent. How did he do it? Here's our guide to being an incredibly unpopular state executive:

1.) While campaigning, make sure to promise to take action on the most pressing issue on the minds of Americans: jobs. Declare unequivocally and repeatedly that you will create 700,000 jobs in 7 years, and make "Let's get to work" your campaign slogan. That way, voters can feel a sense of betrayal and disappointment when you do nothing to follow through.

2.) Start breaking promises right off the bat -voters love initiative! Despite a historic high level of unemployment in construction, reject federal money for a high speed rail project that would employ thousands of construction workers and engineers. Don't give a good reason for your actions. That way, voters can assume you are killing jobs for political reasons.

3.) Has your state experienced a huge economic hit because of a man-made, preventable disaster recently, perhaps an oil spill? By all means, do not make any effort to hold the corporations behind that disaster accountable. Even if other governors of your own party are making such an effort, continue to have more sympathy for those corporations then your constituents.

4.) One of the keys to being an unpopular governor is to demonize huge segments of your state’s population, and then watch it backfire. Here's a good list to start from:

  • Firefighters and police officers
  • Students
  • College professors
  • Welfare recipients
  • People who want to vote
  • Teachers
  • People who enjoy parks
  • People with preexisting medical conditions
  • "Government"

5. Related: Fire lots of teachers. Voters love crowded classrooms.

6.) Display your callous disregard for working families by raising the salaries of your personal staff while slashing wages for state employees.

7.)Continue to tout your business background while doing everything you can to seed doubt about your understanding of economics. Bonus:Fail at basic math and attack public workers simultaneously.

8.) While you're ignoring the jobs crisis, try addressing some imaginary problems. Let your imagination run wild! Don' stop at fighting imaginary voter fraud, that’s just Bad Governor 101. Search for oil in the Everglades! Fight imaginary drug use among welfare recipients! Spend as much taxpayer money as possible.

9.) Establish a "jobs agency"  that can't keep track of its own spending. Voters love irony!

10.) Make lots of statements that are demonstrably false. These statements should concern topics a governor should be familiar with: regulations, budgets, spending, transportation, health care, and the geography of your state. (Bonus: Racial insensitivity.)

11.) Don't forget your role: serving the needs of corporations and the super-wealthy. For instance, pass $2 billion in tax breaks targeting the wealthiest and lift regulations on property insurers. Announce plans to privatize as many things as you can. Make sure your campaign donors coincidentally benefit from your policies. (Bonus: Wink at the taxpayers for footing the bill -€“ they're in on the joke!)

12.) At all times, lack compassion and understanding about the basic needs and priorities of your state. The majority of your constituents just want to find a decent job, put food on the table, afford health care when they get sick, pay bills on time, vote on Election Day, and make sure their children get an adequate education. Your job is to wake up every morning in your mansion, drive to work, and make sure all those things are as difficult as possible.

Got more to add to Rick Scott's Guide to Popularity? Leave your suggestions in the comments, or tweet at us with the hashtag #RickScottFail.

Originally posted on Working America's Main Street Blog.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Robert Fisk: Bankers Are The Dictators Of The West

Robert Fisk   Sunday 11 December 2011

 Original Article

Writing from the very region that produces more clich├ęs per square foot than any other "story" – the Middle East – I should perhaps pause before I say I have never read so much garbage, so much utter drivel, as I have about the world financial crisis.

But I will not hold my fire. It seems to me that the reporting of the collapse of capitalism has reached a new low which even the Middle East cannot surpass for sheer unadulterated obedience to the very institutions and Harvard "experts" who have helped to bring about the whole criminal disaster.

Let's kick off with the "Arab Spring" – in itself a grotesque verbal distortion of the great Arab/Muslim awakening which is shaking the Middle East – and the trashy parallels with the social protests in Western capitals. We've been deluged with reports of how the poor or the disadvantaged in the West have "taken a leaf" out of the "Arab spring" book, how demonstrators in America, Canada, Britain, Spain and Greece have been "inspired" by the huge demonstrations that brought down the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and – up to a point – Libya. But this is nonsense.

The real comparison, needless to say, has been dodged by Western reporters, so keen to extol the anti-dictator rebellions of the Arabs, so anxious to ignore protests against "democratic" Western governments, so desperate to disparage these demonstrations, to suggest that they are merely picking up on the latest fad in the Arab world. The truth is somewhat different. What drove the Arabs in their tens of thousands and then their millions on to the streets of Middle East capitals was a demand for dignity and a refusal to accept that the local family-ruled dictators actually owned their countries. The Mubaraks and the Ben Alis and the Gaddafis and the kings and emirs of the Gulf (and Jordan) and the Assads all believed that they had property rights to their entire nations. Egypt belonged to Mubarak Inc, Tunisia to Ben Ali Inc (and the Traboulsi family), Libya to Gaddafi Inc. And so on. The Arab martyrs against dictatorship died to prove that their countries belonged to their own people.

And that is the true parallel in the West. The protest movements are indeed against Big Business – a perfectly justified cause – and against "governments". What they have really divined, however, albeit a bit late in the day, is that they have for decades bought into a fraudulent democracy: they dutifully vote for political parties – which then hand their democratic mandate and people's power to the banks and the derivative traders and the rating agencies, all three backed up by the slovenly and dishonest coterie of "experts" from America's top universities and "think tanks", who maintain the fiction that this is a crisis of globalisation rather than a massive financial con trick foisted on the voters.

The banks and the rating agencies have become the dictators of the West. Like the Mubaraks and Ben Alis, the banks believed – and still believe – they are owners of their countries. The elections which give them power have – through the gutlessness and collusion of governments – become as false as the polls to which the Arabs were forced to troop decade after decade to anoint their own national property owners. Goldman Sachs and the Royal Bank of Scotland became the Mubaraks and Ben Alis of the US and the UK, each gobbling up the people's wealth in bogus rewards and bonuses for their vicious bosses on a scale infinitely more rapacious than their greedy Arab dictator-brothers could imagine.

I didn't need Charles Ferguson's Inside Job on BBC2 this week – though it helped – to teach me that the ratings agencies and the US banks are interchangeable, that their personnel move seamlessly between agency, bank and US government. The ratings lads (almost always lads, of course) who AAA-rated sub-prime loans and derivatives in America are now – via their poisonous influence on the markets – clawing down the people of Europe by threatening to lower or withdraw the very same ratings from European nations which they lavished upon criminals before the financial crash in the US. I believe that understatement tends to win arguments. But, forgive me, who are these creatures whose ratings agencies now put more fear into the French than Rommel did in 1940?

Why don't my journalist mates in Wall Street tell me? How come the BBC and CNN and – oh, dear, even al-Jazeera – treat these criminal communities as unquestionable institutions of power? Why no investigations – Inside Job started along the path – into these scandalous double-dealers? It reminds me so much of the equally craven way that so many American reporters cover the Middle East, eerily avoiding any direct criticism of Israel, abetted by an army of pro-Likud lobbyists to explain to viewers why American "peacemaking" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be trusted, why the good guys are "moderates", the bad guys "terrorists".

The Arabs have at least begun to shrug off this nonsense. But when the Wall Street protesters do the same, they become "anarchists", the social "terrorists" of American streets who dare to demand that the Bernankes and Geithners should face the same kind of trial as Hosni Mubarak. We in the West – our governments – have created our dictators. But, unlike the Arabs, we can't touch them.

The Irish Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, solemnly informed his people this week that they were not responsible for the crisis in which they found themselves. They already knew that, of course. What he did not tell them was who was to blame. Isn't it time he and his fellow EU prime ministers did tell us? And our reporters, too?

Barack Obama: The Lesser Of Two Evils?

    The U.S. Senate passed a bill known as the  National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 which allows the military to act against American citizens in the United States, and to indefinitely detain US citizens, and to deny US citizens their Article III rights to a jury trial. All of these act run contrary to the Constitution of the United States, but who cares about what that piece of paper says anymore, right? Our government certainly does not, whether run by the Republicans or the Democrats.

The bill also would provide for indefinite detention of suspected terrorists, even US citizens detained within US borders, without legal counsel, judicial review, or trial by jury. (sources here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... and here: http://www.aclu.org/... and here: http://www.aclu.org/...)

And according to one report, the NDAA2012 also legalizes sex with animals (here: http://www.texasgopvote.com/...).  Perhaps the authors of this article chose the whole legalizing-sex-with-animals thing in an effort to distract readers from the real humping canard of this bill: the US military taking action against US citizens.     Source

    Obama has said that he will veto this bill if it makes it to his desk unless the provision that requires military detention of suspected terrorists is removed, but he says not a word about the use of the military against against its own citizens or the fact that our constitutionally protected rights are being tossed into the garbage bin.

The Patriot Act removed many of the constitution protections against search and seizure of citizens; it gave the government permission to tap your phones and read your mail without a warrant or judicial review.  The NDAA2012 hacks broadly at civil protections enumerated in Article III of the US Constitution and amendments V, VI, VIII, and IX (limitations on trials and punishment, the right to confront witnesses, and prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishments)               Source

   In case you have not noticed, President Obama has been running our national security in much the same way that the lesser-Bush did when he was in office. In fact, Obama has added to the onslaught of our freedoms and rights.

   In fact, the Obama administration has been pretty busy intruding on all of our rights. you can check out some of those intrusions here.

Criminalization of Dissent and Militarization of the Police
Anyone who has gone to a peace or justice protest in recent years has seen it – local police have been turned into SWAT teams, and SWAT teams into heavily armored military. Officer Friendly or even Officer Unfriendly has given way to police uniformed like soldiers with SWAT shields, shin guards, heavy vests, military helmets, visors, and vastly increased firepower. Protest police sport ninja turtle-like outfits and are accompanied by helicopters, special tanks, and even sound blasting vehicles first used in Iraq. Wireless fingerprint scanners first used by troops in Iraq are now being utilized by local police departments to check motorists. Facial recognition software introduced in war zones is now being used in Arizona and other jurisdictions. Drones just like the ones used in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan are being used along the Mexican and Canadian borders. These activities continue to expand under the Obama administration.

   and:

Technological Spying
The Bay Area Transit System, in August 2011, hearing of rumors to protest against fatal shootings by their police, shut down cell service in four stations. Western companies sell email surveillance software to repressive regimes in China, Libya and Syria to use against protestors and human rights activists. Surveillance cameras monitor residents in high crime areas, street corners and other governmental buildings. Police department computers ask for and receive daily lists from utility companies with addresses and names of every home address in their area. Computers in police cars scan every license plate of every car they drive by. The Obama administration has made no serious effort to cut back these new technologies of spying on citizens.                       Source

  Sadly for America, the 2012 elections will once again be a choice between the lesser one of two evils. This time though, I’m not so sure that there is a lesser evil. The only difference between Obama and Gingrich is that Obama has not turned into a serial adulterer, yet.

 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Republicans: Perpetually Lacking an Alternative

 

 By Gunnar Jonsson    28 November 2011                   Original Article  in Swedish        Translated By Grace Olaison for Watching America


image

The USA’s Republicans are still on the hunt for Anyone-But-Romney — any presidential candidate but the boring Mormon turncoat, Mitt Romney. According to opinion polls, it seems the grassroots have found a Messiah in Newt Gingrich.
In some ways Gingrich is not a bad alternative. Stupid he certainly is not, rather too intelligent for his own good (with a tendency to consider everybody else as idiots). However, he can debate history, foreign policy crises and American health care without stumbling, qualities that the other non-Romneys seem to be sorely lacking.
Gingrich is a minor legend within his own party. His “Contract with America” gave a colossal victory in the congressional vote of 1994 and forced Bill Clinton to start over with his presidency. However, it was also here that the problems began: that which was perceived to be hyperconservative in the ‘90s is wishy-washy liberalism among today’s Republicans.
The deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants is the doctrine of the party, but Gingrich considers this to be inhumane. He called the Republicans’ budget proposals right-wing social engineering. Until recently he even believed that climate change was real. When the tea party movement discovers what Gingrich thinks, he’ll be in deep trouble.
He doesn’t have an entirely spot-free past either. Congress imposed on him sky-high fines for financial improprieties in the ‘90s. Furthermore, two out of three marriages have crashed and burned due to infidelities, which were even happening when he attempted to get Clinton removed for dishonorable conduct.
Last summer, Gingrich was almost knocked out of the game. His election organization was described as a Cadillac campaign on a Bud Light budget, and the entire staff resigned. Gingrich still has just as little money as the discipline a candidate must have.
As rapidly as he opens his mouth to impart new ideas, he manages to stick his foot in it. Calling Obama’s Democrats a “secular socialist machine” as dangerous as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was not believed by conservative analysts to be especially clever.
Gingrich as a presidential candidate could probably be an entertaining but definitely reckless project. President Gingrich sounds utterly terrifying.

The Republicans: Perpetually Lacking an Alternative

 

 By Gunnar Jonsson    28 November 2011                   Original Article  in Swedish        Translated By Grace Olaison for Watching America


image

The USA’s Republicans are still on the hunt for Anyone-But-Romney — any presidential candidate but the boring Mormon turncoat, Mitt Romney. According to opinion polls, it seems the grassroots have found a Messiah in Newt Gingrich.
In some ways Gingrich is not a bad alternative. Stupid he certainly is not, rather too intelligent for his own good (with a tendency to consider everybody else as idiots). However, he can debate history, foreign policy crises and American health care without stumbling, qualities that the other non-Romneys seem to be sorely lacking.
Gingrich is a minor legend within his own party. His “Contract with America” gave a colossal victory in the congressional vote of 1994 and forced Bill Clinton to start over with his presidency. However, it was also here that the problems began: that which was perceived to be hyperconservative in the ‘90s is wishy-washy liberalism among today’s Republicans.
The deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants is the doctrine of the party, but Gingrich considers this to be inhumane. He called the Republicans’ budget proposals right-wing social engineering. Until recently he even believed that climate change was real. When the tea party movement discovers what Gingrich thinks, he’ll be in deep trouble.
He doesn’t have an entirely spot-free past either. Congress imposed on him sky-high fines for financial improprieties in the ‘90s. Furthermore, two out of three marriages have crashed and burned due to infidelities, which were even happening when he attempted to get Clinton removed for dishonorable conduct.
Last summer, Gingrich was almost knocked out of the game. His election organization was described as a Cadillac campaign on a Bud Light budget, and the entire staff resigned. Gingrich still has just as little money as the discipline a candidate must have.
As rapidly as he opens his mouth to impart new ideas, he manages to stick his foot in it. Calling Obama’s Democrats a “secular socialist machine” as dangerous as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was not believed by conservative analysts to be especially clever.
Gingrich as a presidential candidate could probably be an entertaining but definitely reckless project. President Gingrich sounds utterly terrifying.