Day: April 14, 2011

Tax Cuts for the Rich on the Backs of the Middle Class; or, Paul Ryan Has Balls

This Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone Magazine piece was written on April 7th.  I just ran across it and want to share. 

If you do nothing but read the first paragraph here, you will get an idea of Taibbi’s electrifying writing and research.

Rolling Stone Magazine – Taibblog

Having balls is not the same as having courage…

Paul Ryan, the Republican Party’s latest entrant in the seemingly endless series of young, prickish, over-coiffed, anal-retentive deficit Robespierres they’ve sent to the political center stage in the last decade or so, has come out with his new budget plan. All of these smug little jerks look alike to me – from Ralph Reed to Eric Cantor to Jeb Hensarling to Rand Paul and now to Ryan, they all look like overgrown kids who got nipple-twisted in the halls in high school, worked as Applebee’s shift managers in college, and are now taking revenge on the world as grownups by defunding hospice care and student loans and Sesame Street. They all look like they sleep with their ties on, and keep their feet in dress socks when doing their bi-monthly duty with their wives.

Every few years or so, the Republicans trot out one of these little whippersnappers, who offer proposals to hack away at the federal budget. Each successive whippersnapper inevitably tries, rhetorically, to out-mean the previous one, and their proposals are inevitably couched as the boldest and most ambitious deficit-reduction plans ever seen. Each time, we are told that these plans mark the end of the budgetary reign of terror long ago imposed by the entitlement system begun by FDR and furthered by LBJ.

Never mind that each time the Republicans actually come into power, federal deficit spending explodes and these whippersnappers somehow never get around to touching Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. The key is that for the many years before that moment of truth, before these buffoons actually get a chance to put their money where their lipless little mouths are, they will stomp their feet and scream about how entitlements are bringing us to the edge of apocalypse.

The reason for this is always the same: the Republicans, quite smartly, recognize that there is great political hay to be made in the appearance of deficit reduction, and that white middle class voters will respond with overwhelming enthusiasm to any call for reductions in the “welfare state,” a term which said voters will instantly associate with black welfare moms and Mexicans sneaking over the border to visit American emergency rooms.

Continue reading here…

Rep. Bruce Braley puts the screws to Scott Walker

I love this, although Walker got help from the Rep. Darrell Issa.  Rep Braley is a very good inquisitor and I mean that in a positive way.

More Scott Walker testimony…

 

Scott Walker: “I Don’t Even Know Where Cali Is”

 

Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore Questions Governor Scott Walker before Congressional Committee

 

C-Span has the entire three hour testimony here…

Trump and “the blacks”

Donald Trump, reality star and class “A”  buffoon has finally revealed his real reason for hating on President Obama.  Obama is one of “the Blacks” that Trump seems to disenfranchise by virtue of his use of the definite article “the”. 

Thus, it’s ok to “rag him” as some of “the” Blacks say, implying that Trump is not talking about political issues, he’s simply “trashing” Obama at every turn.  

It’s all very clear now.  If  Donald Trump can claim that Obama is not a U.S. Citizen, then surely I can claim that Trump is a disgusting bigot and a race baiter.  Fair enough?  No proof is needed for either claim, apparently.

Outside The Beltway

Via the Daily Observer come this quote from a Donald Trump appearance on a DC radio show:

“I have a great relationship with the blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the blacks. But unfortunately, it seems that, you know, the numbers you cite are very, very frightening numbers.”

First, this sounds all too much like “some of my best friends are black.”

Second, it echoes in my mind back with Perot was running and he was speaking to a predominantly black audience and kept referring to those in attendance as “you people.”

Third, the numbers in question were those showing widespread African-American support for Obama.  Why, pray tell, would those be “very, very frightening numbers?”

Update: Fourth, this puts me in the mind of the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Meet the Blacks” wherein Larry and Cheryl taken in a family from New Orleans in the wake of Katrina (the family’s last name is “Black”).  I think I might pay to see Trump hanging with Leon.

The Washington Post: More ‘birther’ nonsense from Donald Trump and Sarah Palin

The Fact Checker – WaPo

“I just say very simply, why doesn’t he show his birth certificate? Why has he spent over $2 million in legal fees to keep this quiet and to keep this silent?”

— Donald Trump, April 10, 2011

“More power to him [Trump]. He’s not just throwing stones from the sidelines, he’s digging in, he’s paying for researchers to find out why President Obama would have spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate.”

— Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, April 9, 2011 

The controversy over the circumstances of President Obama’s birth has erupted once again, courtesy of Donald Trump’s sudden desire to test the presidential waters. He has appeared on numerous television shows and written a letter to the editor of the New York Times, spouting all sorts of Four-Pinocchio innuendo that had long ago been debunked by my colleagues at PolitiFact and FactCheck.org. Their fine work does not need to be repeated, and below we provide links to their articles to address many of the issues Trump has raised.

The charge that Obama has spent $2 million to keep this issue quiet is a relatively new one. (Trump has also said Obama spent “millions of dollars trying to get away from this.”) Sarah Palin also echoed the claim over the weekend when she congratulated Trump for hiring investigators to look into this issue.

(Note to the former governor: The Fact Checker dealt with The Donald in a previous life as a financial reporter for New York Newsday. We wouldn’t bet he has actually hired anyone unless he presented us with the canceled check.)

Let’s examine this latest claim about Obama and his circumstances of his birth…

The Facts

Barack Hussein Obama II was born on Aug. 4, 1961, at 7:24 p.m. in Honolulu. His parents were Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Hussein Obama. The birth was reported by the state’s two main newspapers about a week or so later, based on information received from the State Department of Health, as thus: “Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama, 6085 Kalanianaole Highway, son, Aug. 4.”

The above information is extremely controversial to some people, though it requires a highly imagined sense of conspiracy to believe fake birth notices would be placed in newspapers decades ago on the extremely unlikely possibility that the baby would become president of the United States.

Although the Obama presidential campaign posted on its Web site a copy of the birth certificate that would be good enough for him to get a passport (it includes an embosed seal and official signature), the myth persists that he has never produced the actual birth certificate — i.e., the original document held in the state’s files. Generally, however, you don’t get that kind of document when you request a copy of your birth certificate, since birth certificates evolve over time.

A state official has stated that such a document exists, and Obama appears to believe that there is no need to give in to conspiracy theorists by requesting its release. (A more cynical view might be that the president thinks the controversy helps rev up his base and has the added benefit of tying the Republican Party to an extreme right-wing fringe that would never be satisfied with any document that was released.)

Continue reading “The Facts” here…

 

Other ‘Birther’ myths debunked

In his letter to the New York Times, Trump raised other questions that have already been answered by either PolitiCact or FactCheck.org. The New York Times did not provide an annotated guide to this hooey, so here are the relevant links. 

“His grandmother from Kenya stated, on tape, that he was born in Kenya and she was there to watch the birth.” False: On the tape, there was initial misunderstanding but then she said he was born in Hawaii. 

“His family in Honolulu is fighting over which hospital in Hawaii he was born in — they just don’t know.Another myth with no basis in fact. 

“He has not been able to produce a ‘birth certificate’ but merely a totally unsigned ‘certificate of live birth’ — which is totally different and of very little significance.” Wrong: It is signed and has full legal significance. 

“There are no records in Hawaii that a Barack Hussein Obama was born there.” Wrong again, there is plenty of evidence. 

“As far as the two notices placed in newspapers, many things could have happened, but some feel the grandparents put an ad in order to show that he was a citizen of the U.S.” Oops, the information was provided by the State Department of Health — not the grandparents.

Rep. Broun: FDR Was A Communist And The Supreme Court Has “No Clue” About The Constitution

The crazies on the right just keep on giving us fodder…

Political Correction

Speaking on the House floor last night, Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) spoke at length about the original intent behind the Constitution and alleged that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a communist sympathizer who did “everything he possibly could” to implement the policies of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. The comments came while Broun was attacking social welfare programs that he argued were outside the scope of the general welfare clause.

BROUN: Original intent was the general welfare, the general welfare of the nation, not welfare of individuals. We’ve developed this big welfare system in this country. It all started, in earnest, with President Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt just exploded the size and scope of the government with his New Deal. Both progressives. Both had socialist beliefs. In fact, Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent his advisors, his close friends, his cabinet people to go visit with Stalin in communist Russia to study what he was doing, what Stalin was doing there so that FDR could replicate it here in the United States. And he did everything he possibly could to do so.

Watch:

Broun went on to explain that Democrats and Republicans alike were violating their oath of office by voting for programs that have not been delegated to Congress in the Constitution. “One of the greatest domestic powers that are anti-Constitution reside right in this House, right in this House. Because we are destroying our liberty,” Broun explained.

Broun, who has previously stated that liberal judges are the enemies of America, also argued that Supreme Court was not the final arbiter of what is and what is not constitutional. “Most Supreme Court justices have no clue what the original intent is and don’t care. They just don’t care.” The three branches of government and the states have something to say about constitutionality of a particular law, Broun said, but ultimately, “We the people are actually the final arbiter.”

Related Articles

Jon Stewart: Bill O’Reilly Throws Us A Rope Out Of The [Birther] Crazy Hole

Mediaite

Did you hear a strange, soft thud at around 11:15 PM ET Wednesday night? That thud, friends, was the sound of several thousand bags of Funyuns being dropped off futons at the same time. You see, Daily Show host Jon Stewart did something unexpected: He heralded Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly as a voice of reason.

That’s right: While presenting a segment on the so-called birther movement’s preoccupation with Barack Obama’s birth certificate – a segment that specifically called out Sarah Palin and Donald Trump – Stewart pointed to O’Reilly as one pundit who is “throwing a rope” out of a “crazy hole.” Stewart then aired portions of a recent segment O’Reilly did on dismantling several myths associated with the Obama administration.

Perhaps Stewart is feling particularly generous towards the Fox News host in light of O’Reilly’s recent compliment for Stewart. You might remember that he called Stewart the “smartest of the left wingers” on TV.

See video here…

One Perspective: Stuck in the Middle With Obama – The President Who Still Won’t Take a Side

the 44th President of the United States...Bara...

Image by jmtimages via Flickr

For many, it won’t be easy to support a president who governs from right of center.   Especially when his base is  primarily composed of progressives and liberals.

People on the left realize  President Obama has done a lot of good things for his base but many of them  feel that he has also betrayed them in some of the most eggregious ways.  

The Nation – John Nichols

The fight over whether the United States maintains a social-safety net for seniors and our most vulnerable citizens is, by any reasonable measure, a “which side are you on struggle?” The Republicans know that; they are ready to shred the safety net in order to advance a privatization agenda that enrichs their wealthiest donors. But President Obama is still having trouble taking a stand.

Consider this line from the president’s much-anticipated address regarding budget balancing, debts and deficits:

“While Social Security is not the cause of our deficit, it faces real long-term challenges in a country that is growing older.  As I said in the State of the Union, both parties should work together now to strengthen Social Security for future generations.  But we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans’ guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.”

On the plus side, Obama is rejecting Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposal — a growing favorite with Republicans — to begin the process of privatizing the Social Security, as well as Medicare and Medicaid.

On the negative side, Obama is entertaining the notion that, while “Social Security is not the cause of our deficit,” it may be necessary to make dramatic changes to the program. At a time when House Republicans are talking up the notion of raising the retirement age to 70 and otherwise reducing benefits and imposing budgets on the elderly, the president is expressing a willingness to negotiate away a lot of what is social and secure about Social Security. That’s unsettling to reduce budget deficits by $4 trillion over the next 12 years in a speech designed to give the White House political momentum in the fight with Republicans over spending.

The key part of the president’s plan is a “debt fail-safe” trigger that would initiate “across-the-board spending reductions” if by 2014 the projected ratio of debt-to-gross domestic product (GDP) “is not stabilized and declining toward the end of the decade,” according to a fact sheet released by the White House in advance of the president’s speech.

So it was with most of the president’s speech, which erred again and again toward a middle ground that can only be occupied if Democrats surrender key points to Republicans.

Continue reading…

Another Perspective: Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating

Salon – Glenn Greenwald

In December, President Obama signed legislation to extend hundreds of billions of dollars in Bush tax cuts, benefiting the wealthiest Americans. Last week, Obama agreed to billions of dollars in cuts that will impose the greatest burden on the poorest Americans. And now, virtually everyone in Washington believes, the President is about to embark on a path that will ultimately lead to some type of reductions in Social Security, Medicare and/or Medicaid benefits under the banner of “reform.” Tax cuts for the rich — budget cuts for the poor — “reform” of the Democratic Party’s signature safety net programs — a continuation of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies and a new Middle East war launched without Congressional approval. That’s quite a legacy combination for a Democratic President.

All of that has led to a spate of negotiation advice from the liberal punditocracy advising the President how he can better defend progressive policy aims — as though the Obama White House deeply wishes for different results but just can’t figure out how to achieve them. Jon Chait, Josh Marshall, and Matt Yglesias all insist that the President is “losing” on these battles because of bad negotiating strategy, and will continue to lose unless it improves. Ezra Klein says “it makes absolutely no sense” that Democrats didn’t just raise the debt ceiling in December, when they had the majority and could have done it with no budget cuts. Once it became clear that the White House was not following their recommended action of demanding a “clean” vote on raising the debt ceiling — thus ensuring there will be another, probably larger round of budget cuts — Yglesias lamented that the White House had “flunked bargaining 101.” Their assumption is that Obama loathes these outcomes but is the victim of his own weak negotiating strategy.

[…]

What amazes me most is the brazen claims of presidential impotence necessary to excuse all of this. Atrios has written for weeks about the “can’t do” spirit that has overtaken the country generally, but that mindset pervades how the President’s supporters depict both him and the powers of his office: no bad outcomes are ever his fault because he’s just powerless in the face of circumstance. That claim is being made now by pointing to a GOP Congress, but the same claim was made when there was a Democratic Congress as well: recall the disagreements I had with his most loyal supporters in 2009 and 2010 over their claims that he was basically powerless even to influence his own party’s policy-making in Congress.

[…]

UPDATE: Obama gave a speech [yesterday] on the budget that many liberals seemed to like — some more than others.  It was a fine speech as far as it goes — advocating, among other things, defense cuts and a repeal of the Bush tax cuts and vowing to protect the poor from the pain of deep entitlement reductions — but I’ve long ago ceased caring about what Obama says in individual, isolated speeches: especially an Obama now formally in re-election mode.  As I said above, he can be expected to oppose Paul Ryan’s plan and “pay lip service to some Democratic economic dogma.”  If this becomes a sustained bully pulpit campaign to rhetorically sell these principles to the citizenry accompanied by real action to defend them, that will be one thing:  I’ll be pleasantly surprised and will be happy to say so.  But what matters is actions and outcomes.