Log in

Cracker-barrel · Epigrams

Recent Entries · Archive · Friends · Profile

* * *

What a joke.

For thirty years, we've witnessed a staggering concentration of wealth from among the very top earners.

This is spelled out in compelling detail in Jacob Hacker's and Paul Pierson's recent book, Winner Take All Politics, and David Cay Johnston has been doing some in depth reporting on wealth transfer for many years.

To take one example, between 1979 and 2005, the top one hundredth of one percent of earners in the United States made an average after-tax income of four million dollars a year in 1979. In 2005, they made an average of twenty-four million dollars a year (the dollar amounts are all in 2007 terms to adjust for inflation).

Hacker and Pierson demonstrate that politics, not larger "objective" economic forces, are primarily responsible for the truly mind-boggling transfer of wealth toward the top that America has witnessed over the past generation (and yes, the average American has suffered direct losses in their own wealth as a consequence of the concentration of wealth at the top). And while the Democrats have been a feeble force in stemming that tide, it's been the heart of the GOP agenda for thirty years to push for "trickle-up" economics. Ryan is only the latest lick spittle for the super-rich in that regard and while his plans do nothing to tackle America's deficits, they certainly expedite the further transfer of what wealth remains toward the very top!

Refusing to provide aid to states in dire fiscal need, cutting off unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, obstructing stimulus or watering it down with less effective tax cuts and otherwise hamstringing government effectiveness all serve to dampen efforts to promote recovery and all serve the GOP's clear political interests.

And among the political benefits of thwarting recovery is that, with big-sounding dollar amounts being borrowed by the government, the simple math from the perspective of many independents is that the Democrats are spending a lot of money and accomplishing very little in the process. For Ryan and his ilk, lying about the sources of our economic difficulties, proposing bogus plans to address them and bashing liberals for profligate and ineffectual spending all are efforts to sow mistrust of government, to undermine its effectiveness and to reap the electoral benefits.

Current Mood:
annoyed annoyed
* * *

There is a current message being proffered by the right wing punditry, that the violent rhetoric is an invention of those pussy Liberals....

Here are a few examples:

- JESS KELLY (Giffords' Tea Party opponent): "it's time for them to be
afraid of us"

- MICHELLE BACHMAN: "I want my constituents to be armed and dangerous"

- JOYCE KAUFMAN, former aide to Republican congressman ALAN WEST: "If
ballots don't work, bullets will"

- SARAH PALIN: "Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!"

- SHERRON ANGLE: Advocated "2nd Amendment remedies" and talked about
taking out Harry Reid

- ANN COULTER: "We need to execute people like John Walker in order to
physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be
killed, too"

RUSH LIMBAUGH: "I tell people don't kill all the liberals. Leave enough
so we can have two on every campus – living fossils – so we will never
forget what these people stood for"

- SENATOR PHIL GRAMM: "We're going to keep building the party until
we're hunting Democrats with dogs"

- JAMES HANSEN on Bill Clinton: "Get rid of the guy. Impeach him,
censure him, assassinate him"

- House Republican leader JOHN BOEHNER, now speaker said Democratic Rep.
Steve Driehaus of Ohio: "may be a dead man. He can't go home to the west
side of Cincinnati"

- BRAD GOEHRING (a California Republican congressional candidate):
suggested on his campaign Facebook page that he wanted to hunt liberals:
"If I could issue hunting permits, I would officially declare today
opening day for liberals," he wrote. "The season would extend through
Nov. 2 and have no limits on how many taken as we desperately need to
'thin' the herd"

- Newly elected GOP Rep. ALLEN WEST of Florida, a tea party favorite:
told supporters: "to get your musket, to fix your bayonet and to charge
into the ranks; you are my brother and sister in this fight." At another
point, West urged his backers to make Democratic Rep. Ron Klein "scared
to come out of his house"

- Florida Republican, ROBERT LOWRY: took his campaign a step further,
firing a gun at a target that bore the initials of Democratic opponent
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

"Lock and load"
"Take aim"
"Take them out"

Current Mood:
determined determined
* * *

He must have slept through the last one.....With the missing emails, and visitor records, the energy companies allowed to set energy policy, no bid contracts to Cheney's company, contractors earning in a month what soldiers earn in a year, and the complete politiciza­tion of the DOJ......

Let's take a look at Mr. Issa shall we?

1. Issa Calls 9/11 Attacks in New York a Plane Crash

No doubt, Issa's slur against World Trade Center rescue workers was the most unforgettable moment in a truly forgettable political career.

Desperate to refuse federal funds to the ailing workers who rushed to Ground Zero, Issa denied the September 11 carnage was an attack on the United States at all. As the New York Post summed it up:

"It's very simple: I can't vote for additional money for New York if I can't see why it would be appropriate to do this every single time a similar situation happens, which quite frankly includes any urban terrorist. It doesn't have to be somebody from al Qaeda. It can be someone who decides that they don't like animal testing at one of our pharmaceutical facilities."

Issa said the destruction of the World Trade Center did not involve a dirty bomb or a chemical weapon designed to make people sick.

"It simply was an aircraft, residue of the aircraft and residue of the materials used to build this building," Issa said.

2. Issa Weeps Over Premature Withdrawal from Gubernatorial Race

In the film, A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks proclaims, "there's no crying in baseball." If that same standard applied to American politics, Darrell Issa's career would have ended long ago.

In 2003, Issa led the effort to recall California Governor Gray Davis. (Davis was undone by the energy crisis which crippled the Golden State thanks in large part to market manipulation by Enron.) But part two of the Issa plan - to capture the Governor's office himself - abruptly ran aground when Arnold Schwarzenegger decided to get in the race.

On August 7, 2003, Issa shocked supporters and announced he would not continue his candidacy. Comically claiming, "It had nothing to do with Schwarzenegger's decision," Issa at times wept uncontrollably as he made his premature withdrawal. (This video shows Issa's pathetic performance as he concluded his gubernatorial ambitions had been terminated. The water works start around the 7:30 mark.)

3. Issa Attacks Families of Killed Blackwater Contractors

Among the low points in Issa's career as a Bush sycophant was his vicious defense of the mercenary firm Blackwater. As the security company faced charges ranging from atrocities in Iraq to abandoning the families of its slain workers, Issa went on the warpath in its defense.

During February 2007 Blackwater hearings of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Issa attacked four women whose family members were killed by Iraqi insurgents and dragged through the streets of Fallujah:

"Although I don't think your testimony today is particularly germane to the oversight of this committee, I am deeply sorry for the losses that you've had...One question I have is, the opening statement, who wrote it?"

That October, Issa's jihad in defense of Blackwater continued. On October 16, 2007, Issa claimed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and his committee chairman Henry Waxman ""go after our troops." Ironically, just two weeks earlier, Issa comically pressed Blackwater CEO Erik Prince to acknowledge his ties to the Bush administration and the GOP, only to then claim "labeling some company as Republican" because of a family's background "is inappropriate."

4. Issa Accuses Valerie Plame of Perjury

On July 11, 2007, the House Judiciary Committee held a session to discuss the misuse of presidential clemency powers in President Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence. That hearing occurred just four months after outed covert CIA operative Valerie Plame had testified under oath before Congress on March 16, 2007.

Not content to merely confront Ambassador Joe Wilson during his testimony, Congressman Issa accused both Wilson and his wife of perjury:

"I certainly believe Ambassador Wilson at his word, but I hope he believes me at my word, which is that in fact having read all the information, I believe that his wife will soon be asking for a pardon, that in fact she has not been genuine in her testimony before Congress and, if pursued, Ambassador Wilson and Valerie would be asking for the same sort of treatment, which is that in fact we put this behind us."

5. Issa Drives the Firing of U.S. Attorney Carol Lam

As it turns out, Congressman Issa was also a key player in another major Bush administration scandal, the political purge of U.S. attorneys.

Carol Lam, who successfully prosecuted disgraced San Diego Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, was one of the 8 U.S. prosecutors forced out by Alberto Gonzales' Justice Department. But it was Issa who helped create the façade that supposedly lax immigration enforcement by Lam's office was behind her dismissal.

It was Issa, after all, who released an anonymously written 41 page Border Patrol report which claimed "that Lam was giving less attention to human smugglers than she should." As the Voice of San Diego reported in March 2007:

Six days after the Associated Press story broke, Issa's office sent a letter to Lam, in which the congressman called the memo "an embarrassment to your office."

Monica Goodling, a Justice Department spokeswoman, sent the letter to Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff who resigned in the attorney firing scandal's wake, and two other high-ranking officials.

"FYI," she wrote, "the assault continues."

Lam was eventually sacked, as TPM Muckraker concluded, "despite the fact that no one from the Justice Department ever confronted Carol Lam over her performance on immigration prosecutions."

6. Issa Blames Software for White House Email Destruction

Committed to defending Bush administration wrong-doing at every turn, Darrell Issa in February weighed in on the White House's destruction of millions of emails. Now a self-proclaimed IT expert, Issa claimed that the likely criminal loss of the emails, including those for critical time periods such as the breaking PlameGate scandal, was just the result of a software glitch.

Mother Jones described Issa's feeble attempt to blame IBM's Lotus Notes software then used by the Bush White House, an accusation he was later forced to recant:

Defending the White House's decision to switch from the Lotus Notes-based archiving system used by the Clinton administration, Issa compared the software to "using wooden wagon wheels" and Sony Betamax tapes. To observers of the missing emails controversy, Issa's comments seemed little more than an attempt to deflect blame from the White House for replacing a working system for archiving presidential records with an ad hoc substitute. But to IT professionals who use Lotus at their companies, Issa's remarks seemed controversial, if not downright slanderous. Now, according to an executive at IBM, the software's manufacturer, the California congressman has apologized for his characterization of Lotus and offered to correct the congressional record.

7. Issa Offers Howard Krongard a Ticket to the White House Christmas Party

Last November, Americans learned of the staggering corruption, ineptitude and conflicts of interest of then State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard. Within days of his devastating appearance before Waxman's House Oversight Committee (including his admission that his brother served as an adviser to Blackwater), Krongard resigned over allegations he impeded "ongoing criminal investigations into the construction of a new, $740 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and security firm Blackwater Worldwide."

But during his calamitous Congressional hearing in November, Krongard was praised by Darrell Issa. After Krongard earlier noted that he had never met President Bush, Issa told him:

"Thank you for your service. And I’ll end by saying that the first week of December the president’s having a Christmas party. I have an extra guest ticket. After today, I know that you’ve earned it. I would be happy to have you use my guest ticket and then you’ll get your picture with the president and you’ll get to meet him as well you should."

8. Issa Forces Jerry Nadler to Withdraw Truthful Statement about Bush's Illegal Domestic Surveillance

Last August as Congress debated revisions to FISA under the so-called Protect America Act, Rep. Issa went on the attack against opponents of President Bush's domestic surveillance program.

During the debate, Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) spoke out against the codification of President Bush's regime of warrantless wiretapping, domestic surveillance which prior to August 2007 was almost certainly illegal:

"This bill is not needed to protect America from terrorists. The only purpose of this bill is to protect this administration from its own political problems and cynicism, and its own illegal actions it has taken outside the law without any authorization."

For his part, Issa demanded that Nadler withdraw his assertion that the Bush administration had engaged in illegal activities. ThinkProgress detailed the Issa brouhaha that ensued:

After some pause, Nadler said he would withdraw his "truthful and accurate statements" in order to proceed with the floor debate. Issa, unhappy with Nadler's retraction, said, "He is not withdrawing it if he claims they're accurate." Nadler responded, "I'm withdrawing them without any reservation but I retain my opinion."

9. Issa Defends Roger Clemens Against Steroid Allegations

During February hearings in which neither political party did itself credit, Henry Waxman's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee probed the use of performance enhancing drugs in major league baseball. Perhaps conscious of lingering allegations that George W. Bush turned a blind eye to his players' own steroid use while running the Texas Rangers, Republican committee members rushed to Roger Clemens' defense.

None more so that Darrell Issa. Issa called Clemens' alleged supplier, Brian McNamee, "a drug pusher" and proclaimed that McNamee's diploma-mill PhD stood for "pile it higher and deeper." Amazingly, Issa compared Clemens' use of B-12 to his own "mother getting B-12 shots from our family physician," adding, "She was pre-menopausal and simply a little anemic she thought." Issa then concluded by lecturing McNamee, "Shame on you."

10. Issa Blames His Brother for Past Brushes with the Law

Which is a lot of chutzpah for as shameless a pol as Darrell Issa. When it came to his own brushes with the law, Issa, too, pointed the finger at someone else: his brother.

In the run-up to his aborted 2003 campaign for California governor, Issa faced scrutiny over his arrests in 1972 and 1980 on auto theft charges. While the charges were ultimately dropped in both cases for lack of evidence, the 1980 episode was a damning one:

The Santa Clara case happened in February, 1980, when Issa was a 27-year-old U.S. Army officer, and his brother was 29, according to the Chronicle. The brothers were arrested on a felony auto-theft charge. According to prosecutors said, William Issa sold his brother's car to Smythe European Motors in San Jose for $13,000 cash and three $1,000 traveler's checks. Hours later, Darrell Issa reported the car stolen from the Monterey airport, near his Army post at Fort Ord.

For his part, Issa was quick to blame his brother for both his run-ins with the police and his later riches selling car security systems:

"William has inflicted pain and sorrow upon our family since he was a teenager. Obviously, his past continues to inflict pain today," said Issa, who became a multimillionaire manufacturer of electronic auto alarms, including the popular "Viper" anti-theft device. "When people ask me why I got into the car alarm business, I tell them the truth. It was because my brother was a car thief."

And so it goes. At every turn, Darrell Issa has served as the faithful Republican hatchet man, defending his President and his party from all foes. (The only exception, as arch-conservative Debbie Schlussel complains: the Lebanese-American Issa's outreach to Syria and defense of Hezbollah against the Israeli incursion in 2006.) While death and taxes are said to be the only certainties in life, new additions to the Darrell Issa Hall of Shame seem inevitable.

This piece of shit is now in charge of something........And he is going to abuse that power.

Current Mood:
nauseated nauseated
* * *

We live in a country that produces enough food to feed every citizen (and then some). We have massive amounts of physical resources, and can trade for any resource we may lack in sufficient quantity. We have enough people to provide enough labor, and we have the capability to build an efficient industrial base and infrastruc­ture. We have the capability to provide education to all citizens, as well as provide health care to all citizens.

And yet, we as a society continue to blindly follow the "free market", free trade, deregulate­d Capitalist­ only economic model that has proven itself to be incapable of feeding all citizens, incapable of providing jobs to all, resulted in the loss of a large portion of our industrial base, and has allowed our infrastruc­ture to crumble into a state of disrepair. And now our government­s at the State and local levels are "going broke", while our Federal government takes on supposed "massive debts." Too many can no longer afford a higher education, even at the trade school level. And basic health care is becoming more out of reach for a large part of our population­. Yet 2% of Americans are growing wealthier by the day, at the expense of the 98%.

I don't want to hear anyone tell me that the "free market" ideology is the best for bringing prosperity back to this country, or that more deregulati­on of the business community will lead to our prosperity­. Clearly, it hasn't worked. There is 30 years of empirical data disproving it's tenets.

We need to completely restructur­e our economy, from top to bottom. We need to avoid the failed models of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Soviet-sty­le Communism. Both models have failed.

We need either a new form of Regulated Capitalism or something completely new. Our country needs to develop an industrial policy as well as policies regarding our infrastruc­ture, our food supply, our health care, and our education. We need to stop relying on the so-called "market" to decide our fates. The "market" doesn't really exist, and if it did, it is very inefficien­t to say the least.

Current Mood:
aggravated Black
* * *
* * *
* * *

The right wing echo chamber is impervious to facts. As journalists they are perpetuating a fraud of the first order on their audience, good for votes, terrible for our Democracy!

The RW is self sourcing it's own talking points and presenting them as facts in subsequent reports. The most recent is the ludicrous assertion that the administration is spending $200 million a day on their India trip!
Of course this BS was reported by the Drudge Report, restated by Michelle Bachmann, who reported it to Meagan Kelly, who verified it from Beck and Hannity, so it MUST be true.....

Welcome to the new era of unassailable ignorance that the right wing echo chamber has created for America!

Current Mood:
discontent Appalled
* * *
* * *

In an interview with Univision last week, President Obama said: “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”

Conservatives got their collective boxers in a bunch over the usage of the word "Enemies", which Obama recanted and said he should have used the term "Opponents".

John the orange Boner gave a major “closing argument” speech in which he will attack Obama for the comment:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a president in the White House who referred to Americans who disagree with him as ‘our enemies.’ Think about that. He actually used that word. When Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush used the word ‘enemy,’ they reserved it for global terrorists and foreign dictators — enemies of the United States. Enemies of freedom. Enemies of our country."

Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo.....It goes on like that for some time, you can read it in the link.
Boehner’s tartuffery is truly stunning, considering that since the start of  Obama’s presidential campaign and through his time as President of the United States, an office for which Boehner espouses much reverence in his speech, Republicans have directly attacked Obama as everything from a “gangster” to Adolf Hitler, and suggested in myriad ways that Obama is an enemy to America, or perhaps not even actually an American.
Let's explore that shall we?

– Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) was forced to apologize for “calling President-elect Barack Obama a ‘Marxist’ and comparing him to Adolf Hitler.” [11/12/08]

– Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) also compared Obama not only to Hitler, but also Hugo Chavez. [07/09/09]

– Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) questioned whether President Obama was an American, saying: “Well, his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate. You have to be born in America to be president.” [02/23/09]

– Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) also questioned Obama’s citizenship, saying birthers “have a point” and that “I don’t discourage it.” [07/29/09]

– Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) said she was “very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views.” [10/17/08]

– Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) called Obama “an enemy of humanity” for his pro-choice views. [09/26/09]

– Former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) called Obama “a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda,” and said he was “a dedicated enemy of the Constitution.” [07/22/10]

– Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that the Obama administration was a “gangster government.” [11/12/09]

– Bachmann, too, accuses Obama of heading a “gangster government.” [06/10/09]

– As Republican vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin famously said Obama is “palling around with terrorists.” [10/04/10]

– Palin also said the president was being advised by “thugs” from Chicago. [06/10/10]

Boehner failed to repudiate a single one of these comments, but suddenly has found a sense of decorum. Perhaps the next time an elected Republican accuses Obama of trying to destroy America while being a Socialist/Fascist.Communist/Muslim Black Liberation Theologist/Nazi  Boehner can give another speech.

Current Mood:
predatory predatory
* * *

There are a number things the public "knows" as we head into the election that are just false. If people elect leaders based on false information, the things those leaders do in office will not be what the public expects or needs.

Here are eight of the biggest myths that are out there:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This stuff really matters.

If the public votes in a new Congress because a majority of voters think this one tripled the deficit, and as a result the new people follow the policies that actually tripled the deficit, the country could go broke.

If the public votes in a new Congress that rejects the idea of helping to create demand in the economy because they think it didn't work, then the new Congress could do things that cause a depression.

If the public votes in a new Congress because they think the health care reform will increase the deficit when it is actually projected to reduce the deficit, then the new Congress could repeal health care reform and thereby make the deficit worse. And on it goes.

Current Mood:
busy busy
* * *
The right call Obama a divider, since he does not follow their ideology. They claim he is purposefully angering Republicans, and refusing to work with them, or as I see it, kowtow to their agenda.

Republicans have done everything in their power to denigrate Obama for two years! The right wing punditry labeled him a Communist/Socialist/Fascist/Kenyan/Muslim/Liberal/ Radical Christian, and Fox spread disinformation and outright falsehoods.

And Yet Obama talked about bipartisanship. Senate Republicans swore to cause Obama to fail, and they put their party before the country; and blamed Obama for the Bush deficit, the Bush recession, TARP and all the downturn that followed.

That is when Obama began to point the finger at the start of the recession in 2007, during the Bush administration, the financial crisis in 2008, during the Bush administration, The worst recession since the great depression again in 2008, during the Bush administration.

There are folks that believe that Obama initiated the first bank bailout in Oct. 2008! During the Bush administration...

Man up and take responsibility for supporting a candidate that began two wars, emptied the treasury, ran up $5 trillion on the Chinese credit card, outsourced 12 million jobs and enriched 1% of Americans at the cost of the remaining 99%! You were simply wrong.

Help us change it back.

Current Mood:
tired Weary
* * *
* * *