Day: July 25, 2011

After Signing Law Disenfranchising ID-less Voters, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Closes 10 DMV Offices

Is Scott Walker a sociopath or are all Republicans this heartless?

Think Progress 

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became one of the many GOP governors to sign a law disenfranchising voters who do not have a photo ID — a law thatdisproportionately affects elderly voters, young voters, students, minorities and low-income voters. Having disenfranchised tens of thousands of Wisconsin voters, Walker is now making it harder for many of these voters to obtain the ID they need to regain their right to participate in the next election:

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration is working on finalizing a plan to close as many as 10 offices where people can obtain driver’s licenses in order to expand hours elsewhere and come into compliance with new requirements that voters show photo IDs at the polls.

One Democratic lawmaker said Friday it appeared the decisions were based on politics, with the department targeting offices for closure in Democratic areas and expanding hours for those in Republican districts. [...] Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Fort Atkinson, called on the state Department of Transportation to reconsider its plants to close the Fort Atkinson DMV center. The department plans to expand by four hours a week the hours of a center about 30 minutes away in Watertown. [...]

“What the heck is going on here?” Jorgensen said. “Is politics at play here?”

Of course, no one has been more aggressive in waging the GOP’s war on voting that Scott Walker. Walker stripped state workers of their right to organize to strengthen the GOP’s position in the next election, and he gutted the state’s public financing system, which allows candidates to run effective campaigns without pleading for money from big dollar donors, and used this money to pay for his voter ID scheme.

Lest there be any doubt, there is absolutely no legitimate purpose behind Walker’s voter ID law. Although Republicans justify these voter disenfranchising laws by claiming that they are necessary to combat voter fraud, a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that only 44 one-millionths of one percent of votes are cast by people who commit voter fraud.

ARKANSAS HIGH SCHOOL APPOINTS CO-VALEDICTORIAN BECAUSE TOP STUDENT WAS AFRICAN AMERICAN

Little Rock is Arkansas' capital and most popu...

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Think Progress

A high school student in Arkansas was blocked from receiving sole valedictorian honors this summer, despite earning the highest G.P.A. in her class and receiving only a single B in her four years at McGehee Secondary School.

Kymberly Wimberly’s offense? She’s black. School administrators worried that Wimberly’s accomplishment would result in a “big mess” at the majority-white school, so Principal Darrell Thompson told the student’s mother “that he decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian,” even though the white student had a lower G.P.A.

The matter is currently pending in federal court.

Trump: Republicans Should Reject Any Debt Ceiling Deal To Ensure Obama Isn’t Re-Elected

It seems Donald Trump has had a rare moment of clarity.

Everything the GOP has done in the House and Senate to block jobs, continue tax increases on the rich, health care for all, and much more, is focused on one goal, to assure that President Obama is blamed for any quagmire and chaos that follows.  The GOP saying no to anything Obama approves, even if they themselves were for a specific agenda, appears to be a part of that plan.

The debate over the debt ceiling is just the latest version of their overall plan.

Think Progress

Negotiations to raise the nation’s debt limit before the looming Aug. 2 deadline broke down over the weekend when Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) became the latest Republican to walk out of the talks. With only eight days to go before the country risks defaults, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) proposed to essentially give Republicans exactly what they wanted: a plan that would reduce the deficit by $2.7 trillion but include no increase in revenue. The plan is a major concession from Democrats, but Republicans still look poised to reject the plan and let the nation risk default for one reason — politics.

This morning, business magnate and sometime Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump elaborated on those less-than-noble motives on Fox News. Trump said Republicans should reject even a good deal like the one Reid is offering because the uncertainty will ensure President Obama is not re-elected:

TRUMP: Frankly the Republicans would be crazy unless they get 100% of the deal that they want right now to make any deal…If this happens, for instance if this stuff is going on prior to an election, he can’t get reelected. He possibly can’t get elected anyway…The fact is, unless the Republicans get 100% of what they want, and that may include getting rid of Obamacare, which is a total disaster, then they should not make a deal other than a minor extension which would take you before you the election which would ensure Obama doesn’t get elected, which would be a great thing.

BRIAN KILMEAD: If you look at the average American when they’re polled, it seems the President of the United States gets less of the blame than Republicans do, but you see Republicans with maximum leverage.

TRUMP: Absolutely the Republicans have the leverage. I don’t care about polls.When it comes time to default, they’re not going to remember any of the Republicans’ names. They are going to remember in history books one name, and that’s Obama. They’re not going to be talking about Boehner or anybody else. [...]

Watch:

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What caused the national debt? 6 culprits

I disagree with a couple of the following points, but overall, they sound about right.

The Week

[...]

1. The Bush tax cuts
The biggest culprit? The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts under then-president George W. Bush, says the Associated Press. They have added an estimated $1.6 trillion to the national debt. It’s pretty clear, says Brian Beutler atTalking Points Memo, that Bush-era policies, “particularly debt-financed tax cuts,” make up “the lion’s share of the problem.” And they’re ongoing, so the tab for them builds every year.

2. Health care entitlements
Democrats “constantly harp” about the Bush tax cuts, says Peter Morici atSeeking Alpha, but those rates were in place in 2007, and the deficit that year was one-tenth this year’s budget shortfall of $1.6 trillion. So what has changed since then? Added “federal regulation, bureaucracy, and new Medicaid and other entitlements have pushed up federal spending by $1.1 trillion — $900 billion more than required by inflation.” And down the road, says Yuval Levin at National Review, our “health-entitlement explosion” will account for “basically 100 percent” of our debt problem.

3. Medicare prescription drug benefit
Another piece of the pie: George W. Bush’s addition of Medicare’s prescription drug benefit. That has added $300 billion to the debt,according to the AP. Expanding entitlements like Medicare, or last year’s health-care reform package, is a particularly tempting way for Congress to run up debt, says Jagadeesh Gokhale at The Daily Caller. Since lawmakers don’t typically map out a revenue strategy to fund those benefits, they are “shielded from the political costs of actually paying for the new programs.”

4. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
The tab for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan comes to $1.3 trillion, another major chunk of new, unexpected spending over the last decade. “These wars cost us plenty,” says Nake M. Kamrany at The Huffington Post, and they “have to be financed with borrowing, which adds up to national debt.”

5. Obama’s economic stimulus
The 2009 stimulus package enacted by President Obama cost $800 billion. And the 2010 tax-cut compromise between Obama and Republicans, which extended jobless benefits and reduced payroll taxes, added another $400 billion to the debt. Add another $200 billion for the 2008 bailout of the financial industry, and the government’s efforts to soften the blow of the Great Recession amount to one of the largest chunks of the debt build-up. The “federal budget was one good year away from balancing” after 2007, says Tom Blumer at News Busters. But in the years since, Obama and Democrats in Congress put that goal out of reach.

6. The Great Recession
Some of the spending gap came from factors outside the control of Congress and the White House. As the government spent heavily to boost the economy, says the AP, it took in hundreds of billions less in tax revenue than expected, because the Great Recession eroded Americans’ income and spending.

Cantor Opposed Short-Term Debt Ceiling Increase, Now Calls Obama’s Opposition to Short-Term Increase ‘Indefensible’

Up is down, black is white, good is evil and the almighty dollar reigns supreme, only on Wall Street.

Welcome to another “opposite day” in Washington D.C. brought to you by the irascible GOP…

Think Progress

Today, Speaker John Boehner told the House GOP caucus that he is preparing a short-term bill that would raise the debt ceiling for about six months, despite Obama’s pledge to veto such a measure. On the call, Majority Leader Eric Cantor blasted Obama for opposing it. The Wall Street Journal reports:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor indicated in his remarks during the conference call that Republicans don’t want to give President Barack Obama a debt-ceiling deal that lasts past the 2012 elections. Mr. Cantor called the president’s insistence on a deal that carries through the election purely political and indefensible.

But late last month, Cantor himself vehimently opposed a short term deal:

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pushed back hard Tuesday against Senate Republican suggestions of a scaled-back, short-term debt deal, saying it’s “crunch time” in White House budget talks and “if we can’t make the tough decisions now, why … would [we] be making those tough decisions later.”

“I don’t see how multiple votes on a debt ceiling increase can help get us to where we want to go,” the Virginia Republican told reporters. “It is my preference that we do this thing one time. … Putting off tough decisions is not what people want in this town.

Standard and Poors, a credit rating agency, agrees that a short term deal would be bad for the nation’s credit. In a July 14 release S&P wrote “We may also lower the long-term rating and affirm the short-term rating if we conclude that future adjustments to the debt ceiling are likely to be the subject of political maneuvering.”

 

#f@ckyouwashington hashtag takes Twitter by storm

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It’s pretty cool to see so many Twitter™ responses to Washington politicians’ ineptitude…

Raw Story

Most suddenly-popular Twitter hashtags refer to events or celebrities that currently are in the news. But every once in a while, one erupts out of nowhere to capture the mood of the Twitterverse.

The hashtag #fuckyouwashington is currently making the rounds in just that fashion. As explained in a post at tagdef.com, “Thousands of tweets erupted in a matter of hours on #Jul23 protesting the US’s failed debt ceiling talks and general policies. Spurred by @JeffJarvis . Seen by some as part of #WorldRevolution or #USRevolution.”

A second post helpfully adds, “Our discontent with the way things operate. It’s gross.”

Although the tag may have been inspired by the current impasse over raising the debt ceiling, it seems to have released a much wider sense of frustration. Within a few hours, message boards like Democratic Underground were gathering some of the best tweets using the tag.

“#FuckYouWashington For Forgetting WHO you represent, Families, Elderly,Moms,Kids, WORKERs..NOT the CoporatePigs who you cater to…#ShameOnU” one reads.

“#fuckyouwashington for sending our soldiers on 6, 7, 8 tours to combat zones yet thinking it’s too much to ask the richest to pay taxes” say another.

And @YourAnonNews — a Twitter account associated with Anonymous — tweeted, “#FuckYouWashington for thinking activists are the same as terrorists.”

Other tweets gathered by CBSNews blasted Washington for everything from the handling of last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill to the criminalization of marijuana to going after WikiLeaks while not holding Bush administration officials accountable for turture.

Jarvis is a journalism professor at the City University of New York, an expert on new media, and the author of What Would Google Do? Late on Saturday evening, he tweeted, “OK, my fellow citizens, it’s up to you now,” as though he felt content with what he had accomplished, but since then he has continued to promote use of the tag in his own tweets.

On Sunday morning, Jarvis retweeted a message from AnonyOps — another account associated with Anonymous — saying, “@jeffJarvis you’ve started a shit storm. Nice going.” That seems to sum up much of the current feeling.

A current Twitter feed of posts using the tag can be found here.