Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tea Party Hypocrisy on Fiscal Responsibility and Family Values

This pretty much sums it up.  Family Values?  Debt and children - yeah, like this guy gives a damn about his children and how they live, or what debts they are incurring, and who pays for their needs.  What a fraud, what tea party self-promoting, limelight grabbing SCUM.

It is no surprise that this guy votes for unfair advantages, tax and otherwise, for the wealthy few, while voting to balance the budget at the expense of the elderly, of veterans, and of CHILDREN, including HIS children.

Want to take bets on this guy, rather than Obama, being a one term politician?  I wonder his approval / disapproval ratings are doing in his district?

Friday, July 29, 2011 Busts False and Misleading Right Wing Christian Ad

This is pertinent to us, here in MN, as Beverly La Haye has close ties to Michele Bachmann's politics, as documented HERE.  So it should be no surprise that like Bachmann, LaHaye and her group of rabid theocrats fail fact checks.  Both Bachmann and La Haye are examples of conservatives who go beyond simple exaggeration into  full blown dishonesty and egregious factual inaccuracy.

From the weekly update:
Spenditol’ Silliness

July 25, 2011

A conservative Christian group makes some wildly improbable claims about government spending in a satirical ad targeting Democrats.

The ad mimics the format of spots for prescription drugs, touting "Spenditol" as a cure for the "chronic pain" of rising gasoline and food prices and unemployment worries. While we do get the joke, and hate to be killjoys, we are obliged to note that the ad strays from the facts here and there. It claims that the 2009 stimulus law "didn't create jobs" and that Washington will have to borrow "trillions more" from China. Neither claim is supported.

The ad's sponsor is Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, which says it aims to "bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy." The ad has been seen nationally on Fox News and CNN, and versions of it have run 384 times in four states, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group. Those versions are aimed at Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jon Tester of Montana. The ads urge viewers to call their senator and "tell him to stop spending it all."

We have no quarrel with using a bit of exaggeration when the humorous intent is clear. Obviously, Washington is not "spending it all," for example. It's spending an estimated 24 percent of the entire economy, but as we recently pointed out, the level has been the highest since World War II. So we aren't going to quibble with the basic premise of the "Spenditol" satire. It should be clear to anyone that the ad is expressing an opinion that spending is too high, and viewers are free to agree or disagree as they please.

But the ad's humor sugar-coats two unlikely claims that unwary viewers might accept at face value, and thus be misled.

The ad's smiling female actor says Washington borrowed $800 billion for a "stimulus that didn't create jobs." That's not true, according to most economists. While one recent study concluded that the stimulus resulted in a net loss of jobs, all others we're aware of conclude that it resulted in sizeable gains. In a July 2010 report, economists Mark Zandi and Alan S. Blinder estimated the gain (compared with where employment would have been without the spending) at 2.7 million jobs. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, reflecting mainstream economic analysis, estimated the gain at between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.
The actor also cheerfully says that "Spenditol" is "so popular in Washington that we have to borrow — I mean import — trillions more of it from China." That's not likely. China held slightly less than $1.16 trillion in U.S. debt as of the end of May, according to the Treasury Department — just under 12 percent of the total debt. For China to take on an additional $2 trillion on top of that — the bare minimum for the "trillions" claim to be true — would amount to an increase of 172 percent. And the CBO projected that over the next 10 years — even assuming President Obama's budget was approved — the debt held by the public would rise 131 percent.
Our recommendation: Don't take this "Spenditol" ad on an empty brain. Side effects could include accepting bogus claims as true.

– Brooks Jackson

Right Wing Irony: Prayer Protest Arrests in the Halls of Congress

I'm sick of the right claiming to support the United States Constitution, while they misrepresent what it says, and while they try fundamentally to change it.  If anything highlights that hypocrisy in claiming to love and support the constitution, it was the arrests which occurred when there was a lawful, peaceful, religious protest this week in the halls of Congress

That protest has received far too little news attention, so I am addressing it here.

A brief review of our Constitution - the preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
and the text of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

For the small amount of news coverage of this event, I found it at, a North Dakota news source.  I'd like to know why we didn't have similar coverage here, in Minnesota, and at every news station in every state in this country.  Here is that coverage, from the AP:
Washington (AP) Some clergy have been arrested for staging a prayer protest in the U.S. Capitol.

With the House and Senate focused on debt-limit legislation at opposite ends of the Capitol, eleven religious leaders praying against budget cuts that would hurt the poor were arrested Thursday in the Rotunda midway between the two chambers.

Those arrested included a rabbi and leaders of the United Methodist Church, Church of the Brethren, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ.

The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, told protesters outside the Capitol that his colleagues had grown frustrated with the debt impasse and felt they weren't being heard.
Gaddy said, "It is time for people of faith and good will to speak up, and it is time for some politicians in Washington to grow up."
If it violates our U.S. Constitution for Congress to pass a law prohibiting freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and petition for redress of grievances,  I'd like to know under what statute these clergy were arrested for praying in the halls of Congress.  Because only Congress controls the legislation governing Washington D.C., and that includes the halls of Congress.  The laws which should supersede any other statute is the U.S. Constitution.

I'd like to know who these clergy were harming, what damage they are alleged to have done, other than possibly discomfitting the right wing who were promoting redistribution of wealth upwards, to the already wealthy few at the expense of middle class and the poor. 

If they were doing THAT, these clergy should be commended, not arrested. 

Support and defend the United States Constitution, and the rights it defines; protest these arrests to your local news media, and ask them why they haven't covered this.  Protest it to your representative in Congress, and demand an explanation for this, demand accountability.

It's not like these clergy, engaged in simple, humble prayer, were in any way a threat, other than to the consciences of the members of Congress.  It's not like they were armed and dangerous, carrying guns..... oh, wait, the right, especially the right wing extreme would probably be up in arms (pun intended) over an arrest in the halls of Congress for THAT.  They like the idea of arms in churches, and armed clergy.  The right seems to selectively defend the 2nd Amendment rights, just not all the other rights, or at best defends them selectively.  Free speech?  Freedom of Assembly.....yeah, those the right supports not so much.

Go-Jo: Left, Right; By the Numbers - Recent Poll Results and Policies

An interesting comparison of the poll results, of Republican and Democratic Governors, as an indication of the popularity of the respective larger policies of the Right and the Left.  It does seem to show that the majority of people consistently think the wrong.

from the Governor's Journal, ("all governors, all the time")

By GoJo Staff on July 28, 2011
MN Blames GOP

A poll taken in Minnesota for says most state residents – by a 2 to 1 margin – blame the Republican controlled legislature for the recent government shutdown, not Governor Mark Dayton(DFL).

As the poll comes out, Dayton is using the three week standoff as the basis for a fundraising campaign on behalf of his party. He sent out letters earlier this week arguing the only way to correct what’s wrong with state government is to elect more members of the DFL to the legislature.
Read More: – Poll Backs Dayton
And then we have another, even more popular Democrat, with numbers that every Republican Governor should envy.

Cuomo Stay Home
By GoJo Staff on July 15, 2011

A new poll from Siena College says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo(D) ended his first legislative session with a 71% approval rating. It is arguably the highest approval rating for any governor in the country.

But more than 50% want him to stay put in New York, and say any talk of running for president is premature. For his part, Cuomo seems to get that message and has been refusing opportunities to travel outside the state to raise his national profile.

Read More: New York Daily News – Cuomo Poll
Then we have the bad news elephants, the Republican Governors, who are on a steady downward slide:
Walker Disapproval
By GoJo Staff on July 13, 2011
It’s bad when the press starts reporting your poll numbers based on “disapproval,” because the number is bigger.
That’s the case for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker(R) who’s disapproval rating, according to a new Badger poll, is 59%. One pollster blames the poor performance on cuts to education rather than the drawn out dispute over collective bargaining rights.
Walker says he’s not concerned. (my emphasis added - DG)
Read More: Minneapolis Star Tribune – Walker Poll

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Think ZBig: He's Old, but He Still Thinks Very Clearly

He's been around for a very, very long time, but he is still a very wise man.  This is one of the most apt, most correct analyses I've seen, in a very long time, of our status quo.  I wish more people would listen to what he has to say - and believe him.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Glenn Beck Betrays Himself

Glenn Beck is an ugly, nasty human being who personifies the intersection of right wing extremism, hypocrisy, ignorance, and hatefulness.  He is not so much ugly on the outside, although I find his smug, overemotional and pugnacious demeanor repellent; he is hideously ugly, on the inside, in his soul and in his character.

Glenn Beck has a Michele Bachmann-esque disregard for facts which is so severe as to be comical, if it were not for the venom that he spews.  It would be funny, if it were not for those on the right, the low-information non-fact-checkers who give him credence.  Thankfully, like Sarah Palin, Beck's popularity appears to have peaked and is on the decline, while his influence is diminished with his departure in disgrace from Fox News.  That disgrace is evidenced by the steady decline in viewership, and the mass exodus of advertisers.

Beck betrays his hideous flaws in thinking, and his hatefulness most recently in his comments that mentioned Nazi youth camps, while he ranted about the killings of children in Norway.

Beck knew nothing whatsoever about the activities or programs of the camp in Norway, when mentioning Nazi youth camps.  He still knows nothing about them despite claiming to be the victim for receiving criticism for his original comments.  He appears to be blissfully unaware, or utterly disinterested in the fact that it was the Labor Party in Norway which fought a brutal opposition to the Nazis.

Beck seems blissfully ignorant of the history of that opposition to the Nazis, and the opposition to the collaborators with them in Norway, the Nasjonal Samling, and of course, the 'Quislings'.  Or perhaps this is just one more instance where Beck conveniently ignores any fact which interferes with his position; Beck is a master at avoiding facts altogether.  The Nasjonal Samling promoted the same aggressively theocratic Christianity, factually false national history, and corporatism before and during WWII that Beck does now.  Like Beck and the Tea Party, the NS was rife with internal political dissension between factions of the movement, and was similarly polarizing. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Politifact Busts John Boehner's claims, (You Lying, Dishonest, Corrupt Bastard)

I have listened to far too much of the politicking recently to have much patience for John Boehner's speech following the President's address this evening.  In fact, I don't think that Boehner should have been given equal footing with the President in speaking at all.  Boehner has his own press conferences; the presidential addresses have not previously been treated with such equal time provisions, recognizing that the speaker of the house has his own bully pulpit on the floor of the House.

But listening to tonight's repitition of lies about the size of government and spending, from the man who institutionalized the manufacture of two engines for military planes, just to keep the excess spending federal dollars in his district so that he could keep getting elected, despite the efforts of the Pentagon and Presidents including both Bush and Obama, was too much hypocrisy for one sitting.

This man is as crooked as a dog's hind leg, and corrupt in his misrepresentation of facts to the American people.  He LIES, he lies in a self-serving manner, and he lies to benefit not only himself, but his corporate and uber-wealthy donors at the expense of the majority of Americans. He puts the "Ick" in Republickan

 And while we're at it, my own Representative to Congress, Chip Cravaack, is guilty of repeatedly promoting the same damn lies for the same damned reason, in his most recent tele-town hall - but I'll get to THOSE lies in a separate post.

That 'spending problem' that the Republickans like to talk about so relentlessly has not only been one largely of their own making, they like to grossly distort it.  The Ohio branch of recently busted Speaker Boehner at it, with the claim started by Boehner, picked up by the Republ'ick'an Congressional Committee, and followed by the Republ'ick'an Senatorial Committee when they misrepresented the Obama Administration Stimulus Spending.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Norway Tragedy, Fear and Loathing.......and Turner Classic Movies

The elements in my title may seem an odd grouping to readers, but I will make clear how they link together.

The (alleged) shooter, who is reported to have turned himself in to police and confessed, has stated through his lawyer that what he did was 'atrocious but necessary'.  Other translations of what his attorney said used the words cruel but necessary.  Anders Breivik will explain himself at greater length in court on Monday, and whichever words characterize his thinking on the subject, we will have more of them then.
From AJE:  Lippestad said: "He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary."

For any reader who might raise an eyebrow at my quoting from Al Jezeera English as a reporting source, let me elaborate.  I like to review a wide range of sources, and to then evaluate them for their accuracy and bias.  What I do not want to do is to rely on only one segment of the media for information, so I don't want to rely exclusively on U.S. media to cover the U.S., but instead look at international media coverage of us as well.  On the topic of Islam-related subjects, and our international policy, particularly in the area of our conflicts in predominantly Muslim countries, I don't like to rely exclusively on western media.  This doesn't mean that I take the information any of those sources provide without critical thinking, but rather that I look at them as sources to be evaluated. 

Looking at AJE, they impressed me with having done some good reporting.  In contrast, we have the Telegraph from the UK, which did not do nearly as well in their response to the Norway tragedy.  They went with an presumption of an "Islamoterrorist" attack, at some length from the site zerohedge:
As of June 2011, there were still six F16 fighters from the Royal Norwegian Air Force operating in Libya, which is a possible motive for the attack. However, it is unlikely that Colonel Gadhafi has the ability to mobilise such an attack.
Norway has deployed around 500 troops in Afghanistan, and three Norwegian newspapers (Aftenposten, Dagbladet and Magazinet) published the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons in 2005-2006, providing another possible motive.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thank you, Senator Franken! (DOMA repeal hearings)

We hear a lot of nonsense from the right about the 'science' supporting their homophobic position.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a single scientific study to date that supports their position that heterosexuality is more natural or innate than homosexuality, or bisexuality.  In fact every single piece of scientific research that has been presented to support the view of sexuality and sexual orientation by the right has been either misrepresented, debunked as bad science, or is woefully out of date and has been superseded by more recent data which is consistently based on better and more rigorous use of the scientific methodology.
I had no idea what kind of senator you would make, Mr. Franken, when you were elected.  In 2008 I just knew that I liked you a whole lot better than that other guy.  You have exceeded my greatest expectations sir; and this is only one example of that.  Keep up the good work!

The Norwegian Terrorist Attack: White, Right Wing, Fundamentalist Christian Terrorists

Let me direct our readers to a blog from our blog roll which has addressed this better than anything I can write, Informed Comment, Juan Cole's blog.  You can access the pertinent post by clicking here, or by clicking on the listing for it on our blog roll.  It is excellent, and rather than being ideology driven, it is factual.

Their headline: White Christian Fundamentalist Terrorism in Norway.

That the horrible terrorist attacks in Oslo on Friday that left some 90 persons or more dead– a bombing of the prime minister’s office and shootings at a Labor Party youth camp– were allegedly committed by a blonde, far right wing Norwegian fundamentalist Christian rather than by a radical Muslim group is being treated as a matter of surprise in some quarters. But if those journalists and analysts had been paying attention, they would not be surprised at all.
Europol reports have long made it clear that the biggest threat of terrorism in Europe comes from separatist movements, then from the fringe left, then from the far right. In 2008, only one terrorist attack out of hundreds in Europe was committed by radical Muslims. In 2010, according to Europol [pdf], 7 persons were killed in terrorist attacks. Some 160 of these attacks that year were carried out by separatists. The number launched by people of Muslim heritage? 3. It would be silly to maintain that Muslim radicals do not pose a threat of terrorism; indeed, many plots were broken up by European police. But as an actually-existing phenomenon, terrorism in Europe is mainly the work of Christian-heritage people. For more on the Norwegian far right, see
Cole addresses a topic I have written about on Penigma, the crisis in this country of Islamophobia, which is actively fear-mongered by the right wing of our politics.  It is not a problem unique to Norway by any means.  We have only to listen to presidential candidate hopeful Herman Cain, or look at the provisions of the Iowa pledge signed by Michele Bachmann and Ick, er, Rick Santorum, provisions which are promoted by Gingrich, Huckabee, Pawlenty and pretty much all of the other GOP hopefuls.  We have only to look at the number of states which have passed incredibly stupid and unnecessary legislation about Sharia law, which is NOT in any way, shape or form a threat to our law, our autonomy, or our way of life, legislation which singles out and demonizes a legitimate religion for treatment that is different from any other religion.

The right uses all kinds of fears to gain support, mostly from low-information people who believe wildly inaccurate things about people they identify as different from themselves, as different from conservative, white, Christians.  It is what that right will do, both legally and illegally, that threatens our life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and our very multi-cultural melting pot American way of life.
Quoting again from Cole:
The suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, is anti-multiculturalist and believes that the Qur’an commands Muslims to be extremists. His attack on the Labour Party appears to have derived in part from its insufficient hate of people of other cultures. Breivik’s discourse, about Islam and the Qur’an being *essentially* evil, is part of the Islamophobia promoted by some right wing forces in the west; and his actions show where that kind of thinking can lead.
Read Professor Cole; his post is EXCELLENT.  And then take another long hard look at the message of the right wing media, and the politicians who want to run for President (and governor, and senator or congressman).  It will make you think, and it might even scare you a little.  It should shake you up, because to be safe, we must focus proportionately on the actual, factual sources of potential terrorism, and not be distracted or diverted by Islamophobia, no matter how hard the right tries to make it an fake issue.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Affinity Scam, Part 9: Finally! Durand, Kiley and Beckman Are Indicted, Pettengill Plea bargains

My co-blogger Penigma and I have been following this since this affinity scam which targeted the religious right came to our attention in 2009, a scam we argue was accomplished by the assistance OF the political right to exploit their own base.  Affinity scams, like the Ponzi scheme perpetrated by a group of men which included Trevor Cook and Chris Pettengill, gain the trust of people in order to get their hands on their money, by claiming to be similar to them, in religious and political conviction.

Many of these scams operate in part through the broadcasts of religious radio networks, and through political oriented talk radio, as was the case with this particular scam.

Growing up, I was taught that rip off artists are usually only successful against people who are greedy, or foolish, or both.  I no longer believe that to be true; rather, these scams, at least THIS scam persuaded mostly relatively unsophisticated investors by using fear as a motivator, poitical-oriented fear, instead of greed, using very clever outright fraud. 

I have had the pleasure of getting to know some of these investors, and Pen and I came to like and respect them.  The victims are honest, principled people; the scam targeted many elderly people, some of them well educated, others patriotic career military veterans, but all of them had been frugal and hard working all their lives in building up the funds they invested.  They did try to do what they could to follow caveat emptor, to check out the legitimacy of the scam operators.  The scammers did a very clever job of faking data to persuade the investors they were legitimate, (unlike other notorious scammers like Bernie Madoff, who largely relied on a policy of discouraging questions).

On June 21, 2011 Chris Pettengill made a plea agreement in exchange for a 10 year sentence, based on admitting his guilt in the scam, and cooperating in the prosecution of his co-conspirators.  You can read the Department of Justice news release, here.

On July 20,2011, those individuals identified as his co-conspirators, Patrick Kiley, Gerald Durand, and Bo Beckman were arraigned on a federal grand jury indictment.  You can read that indictment in full, here.

The part of the Grand Jury indictment that caught my attention was this, from page 3 (emphasis added by DG):  COUNTS 1-11
(Wire and Mail Fraud)

10. From in or about 2005 through in or about November 2009, in the State and District of Minnesota and elsewhere, the defendants,
a/k/a Bo Beckman,
a/k/a Jerry Durand, and
a/k/a Pat Kiley,

along with COOK, PETTENGILL, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, each aiding and abetting the other, engaged in mail fraud and wire fraud by devising and intending to devise a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain money and property by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises and concealment of material facts, and knowingly:
a. transmitted and caused the transmission in interstate commerce, by means of wire communications, certain
signals and sounds, for the purpose of executing such scheme and artifices, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2 and 1343; and
b. caused the sending, delivering, and moving by the United States Postal Service and interstate commercial carrier various mailings for the purpose of executing such scheme and artifice, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 2 and 1341.
and on page 12, at the end of item 27.
"From August 2008 through July 2009, DURAND AND PETTENGILL obtained payments from the Oxford/UBS Entities and/or Cook of at least $625,000.00"
This indictment follows the serving of a search warrant earlier this year, which asserted that Pettengill and Durand were engaging in new scam investment presentations, dating from 2005 "to present".  Pettengill and Durand appeared to be engaging in new scams, investigated by the FBI.  My understanding of all the available information is that Pettengill and Durand were continuing to run versions of the earlier investment schemes, with variations, during that entire span of time. 

As we have written previously, I will be watching for the rumored receiver's office to be pursuing a claw back of the affinity scam funds that are alleged to have been used by Pettengill and Durand to promote what were characterized by the FBI in search warrants as subsequent scam investment seminars, on the radio stations in the twin cities belonging to Salem Communications.

The two most recent articles in the Star Tribune, by the excellent investigative reporter Dan Browning, can be found here.

Last year, in a filing that had unintentional comedic elements, Pat Kiley tried to sue Dan Browning and the STrib, along with other defendants for libel, claiming he had damaged his character and reputation through the series of articles on this affinity scam Browning had written.  We covered that here in an earlier segment of the Affinity Scam series, part 6. When that effort failed due to Kiley's incompetence, he insisted he was going to refile.  Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that isn't going to happen now.

GoJO - The End of the State Shutdown: I couldn't have said it better than this

Governor's Journal, GoJo for short, is a site with the motto "All Governors. All the time.", making it clear what their specialty is.  I particularly like their polling section, which is comprehensive, but their articles are often just as good, and they cover stories by state which often are missed by the national media. 

I was curious to review their take on Governor Dayton and the budget controversy in Minnesota.  While I found their title a bit misleading, given their quite apt criticism, overall the article was on target.

From the excellent site Governor's Journal:
A Win-Win For Dayton

By Dean Pagani on July 17, 2011

Only On GoJo - In the end, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton(DFL) was in a win-win situation. Either the budget standoff would end with an agreement requiring no new taxes, or he would get a deal that included higher taxes on the wealthy. As a Democrat, it’s not hard to campaign on either one of those outcomes; if Dayton is looking ahead that far.

In a season of low approval ratings for governors across the country, Republicans in Minnesota may have stopped Dayton from sinking further even as they won on one of their major policy goals. Minnesota insiders and political observers are scoring this as a win for the GOP. With superior numbers in the legislature, Republicans were willing to weather the bad press caused by the government shutdown, until Dayton felt so much pressure he had to return to the GOP’s last best offer. Republicans gave up only some conservative window dressing.

From a political communications perspective Dayton should have won more. As governor, he had a distinct advantage when it comes to framing the issue and he squandered it.
Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stewart Shines His Spotlight on the Murdoch Murk

Jon Stewart puts the focus squarely on what is hypocritcal on the far right political media, and the man who controls the puppets that do his bidding.  Like a modern Jonathon Swift, no one does it better, although Colbert does it equally well. I particularly enjoy Stewart recently pointing out the important distinctin in hacking stories between being the victim of hacking, and the perpetrators of it, as Murdoch's empire appears to be.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Horrible Bosses
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Horrible Bosses - Fox News Won't Dumpster Dive
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

UPDATED: Totals Recall

From Reuters and the Chicago Tribune:

Unofficial results showed Hansen with 20,639 votes, nearly double the 10,601 garnered by VanderLeest. 

The best is yet to come," Hansen told a raucous crowd of supporters, as around 200 began chanting "This is what democracy looks like."

"This seems bigger than me. The support we got seems bigger than me. It's about the people now. It's about we the people. It's about taking our state back. This is incredible," Hansen later told journalists.
"My main concern is that people stay fired up for the rest of the year," said Steve Robbins, an electrician from Green Bay and a supporter of Hansen. "This should be a wake-up call to Walker, but it won't be. That guy is on another planet."
Congratulations to state senator Hansen.  Not only his win, but the margin of his win, is a significant commentary on the Republican policies and legislation in Wisconsin. 

What else is significant in the Recall Totals for August 19, 2011 is the numbers of voters turning out for primaries.  Primaries typically generate a fairly small percentage of the turnout that general elections generate, and general elections in presidential election years tend to have a higher voter participation than those which do not.

Which makes the voter turnout for Hansen recall election, and for the two Republican primaries, all the more significant in understanding how this reflects the prevailing views on Republican policies in 2011 among Wisconsin voters, which in turn seems to be reflecting much of the national trend as well.

Per the excellent website "Ballot News", a project of the non-partisan, non-profit Lucy Burns Institute,  the voter turnout was low for Republican primaries, while being unusually high for Senator Hansen. 
MADISON, Wisconsin: Heading into the recalls there have been various projections regarding just how many citizens would show up at the polls. With all of the primaries now complete we are able to get a clearer picture. Unofficial vote totals show that turnout for the primaries ranged from a low of 10 percent for the Republican primary in District 22, up to 35.75 percent for the District 32 Democratic primary. Meanwhile, in the 30th District, the first recall between Dave Hansen and David VanderLeest had a total of 33,106 votes,[1] putting turnout at 37.14 percent. The 2008 general election in the same district had 78,176 votes.[2]

The total number of registered voters in the chart comes from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board and is accurate as of July 19. Wisconsin has a live database of actively registered voters which is constantly changing and is purged following each general election. Due to this, it is difficult to accurately determine what the voter turnout percentage was in each of the recall districts in 2008, as the total number of registered voters from 2008 is no longer available. In the general election, turnout was about 50 percent, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.[3]

According to a press release from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in 2010, voter turnout in the 2010 primaries was 19.6 percent.[4] Thus, turnout in the recall primaries far exceeded typical voter turnout. In the 8 primary elections held, a total of 206,014 votes were cast for turnout of 25.77 percent. The high turnout reflects the massive attention being given to the recalls. In typical special elections, voter turnout is lower than a general election. But here, voters are heading to the polls at higher levels than a normal election.
One of the reasons for the Republican efforts at voter suppression by making voting more difficult through measures like requiring photo ID is that a larger turnout of voters tends to favor Democrats.  If that holds true for the recall elections in August, and a planned subsequent recall of Governor Walker, this is indicating a probabe turnover in the control of both the senate and the Governor's office in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Continuing from Ballot News:
The lowest voter turnout took place in the two Republican primaries, 10 percent and 19.38 percent. For the six Democratic primaries, where legitimate Democratic candidates each faced “protest” or “spoiler” candidates, turnout ranged from 22.09 percent to 35.75 percent. In all eight primaries, the total number of votes cast surpassed the total votes cast in the 2008 senate primary contests in the same districts.
Since primaries were only held for a single party – Republicans on July 12 and Democrats on July 19 – voters did not have to be registered to a specific party in order to vote. In other words, all voters were eligible to vote in the primary, due to Wisconsin’s use of an open primary system.
The next recall elections are scheduled for August 9th and August 16th.  Republican policies in and outside of Wisconsin are hugely unpopular, and that disapproval appears to be increasing nationwide.  Hansen is perfectly accurate that the Republicans are doing their best to be willfully blind to that disapproval, at the same time they loudly claim they are listening to the will of the people, a promise they made in the 2010 elections and immediately ignored.  That disapproval will almost certainly result in Scott Walker's recall in 2012, and is highly likely to result in him being removed from the governor's mansion for his heavy handed failures and hubris.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Un-Presidented, Undefeated, Unattended: Has Palin Peaked?

What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little. - Lord Byron

The highest form of vanity is love of fame. -George Santayana

Sarah Palin recently debuted her new movie with the improbable and inaccurate title of Undefeated.  In her crazy world view, she conveniently ignores that she was quite thoroughly defeated in the 2008 election for vice president.  That is like, well, like ignoring the 8 ton bull(shit) GOP elephant in the middle of the room.

What is more significant than any content in the widely panned movie, for which I could not find a single positive review, is that to me it seems as if Palin is winding down in popularity and influence.  I think she's 'peaked', and done so far too early.

Palin was very clever in capitalizing on her post 2008 campaign popularity; those who loved her didn't care about looking too closely at her lack of real accomplishment, or her ignorance.  They were curious, they were perhaps even charmed.  Palin did an excellent job of turning that interest in to self promotion to enrich herself; she made herself a relatively wealthy woman in doing so.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reagan-Era HIV Ignorance Still in Place: Homophobia and Blood Donation

A man was denied the opportunity to give blood recently in Indiana because he was not man enough for the screeners .

When I read this, given the attention that certain segments of the media have focused on the question of Marcus Bachmann's actual sexual orientation, his appearance and mannerisms that seem to many people to suggest his sexual orientation is gay, I found myself wondering if HE would be allowed to give blood, if he presented himself to do so.

In fact, a person's normal, natural, unconscious speech patterns, like those for which Marcus Bachmann, notorious homophobe, is being criticized, ARE a reliable identifier for sexual orientation, more than 77% of the time, and full words as they are spoken are even more reliable than that.
(If the following video does not open or play for you, you can see it here:

The natural, normal speech pattern and appearance of Marcus Bachmann is very similar to that of the straight actor acting the role of the gay character Cameron on the hit television show, Modern family. The difference is of course, that Marcus Bachmann isn't acting, and is a noted homophobe.  The Bachmanns own and direct a clinic that practices sham psychology to pray away the gay, apparently promoting religious based ignorance over established science, much like this outdated blood donor regulation promotes an ignorant and obsolete understanding of homosexuality and medical knowledge. Both the Daily Show from the week of July 11, 2011, and the success of the ABC show Modern Family puts the awareness of what triggers our 'gaydar' front and center for millions of Americans.

Friday, July 15, 2011 Checks the Federal Fiscal Data

Fiscal FactCheck

Does Washington have a spending problem or an income problem? We offer some key facts.
July 15, 2011


Washington's spending has recently been higher as a percentage of the nation's economic output than at any time since World War II. But by the same measure, Washington's revenues are the lowest in more than 60 years.

So does the U.S. have "a spending problem," as Republicans keep repeating in the current debate over how to reduce the nation's record deficits? Or is the problem that taxes are not high enough? Those questions frame a long-running partisan debate, and as usual we won't offer an opinion one way or the other. But for those seeking their own answers, we can offer some fiscal history and factual context.

Some key facts we think are worth considering:

■Federal spending ("outlays" in budget jargon) is expected to equal 24.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The figure was 25 percent in fiscal year 2009, highest since 1945.

■On the other hand, federal revenues are expected to drop to 14.8 percent of GDP this year, lower even than the 14.9 percent attained in both 2009 and 2010. There has been only one year since World War II when revenues have been as low as in any of these years: 1950, when the figure was 14.4 percent. Busts Tim Pawlenty........again

What omitted to include is that ol T-Paw didn't really BALANCE the budget; he simply transferred a big chunk of the debt to the next budget cycle, which is why we have had the most recent budget crisis - it's all THANKS TO Tim PAWlenty! (Well, OK; the Republicans screwing around this session with their culture wars and their refusal to have a balanced budget was part of it.)

Pawlenty, Taxes and Budget Crises
July 13, 2011

Tim Pawlenty misled readers in an op-ed by saying he solved Minnesota's budget crisis in 2005 without raising taxes. Pawlenty's 75-cents-per-pack cigarette tax — which he called a "health impact fee" — helped forge a budget deal and end a nine-day partial government shutdown.

In a July 12 op-ed piece for the Des Moines Register, the former Minnesota governor and current Republican candidate for president criticized Democrats for proposing to raise taxes to solve budget problems in Minnesota and Washington, D.C. Instead, Pawlenty called for cutting spending and not raising taxes.

Pawlenty, July 12: At every level, governments are facing big deficits as the weak economy diminishes tax revenues at the very same time that the bill is coming due on decades of irresponsible spending increases, entitlement promises and pension promises. As I proved in Minnesota, these problems can be solved without tax increases.

It's true that Pawlenty never signed legislation as governor to raise the state income tax or other broad-based taxes. But the former governor's cigarette tax raised more than $400 million over two years and helped resolve a budget crisis that had resulted in a partial government shutdown.

In 2005, Pawlenty and Minnesota state legislators grappled with how to fund health care and education in the upcoming biennial budget for fiscal years 2006 and 2007. While Democratic lawmakers sought to raise taxes on upper-income residents, Pawlenty and Republican legislators resisted — bringing negotiations to a stalemate. Seeking to find a compromise before the mandated end of the legislative session, Pawlenty unveiled the "health impact fee" during a press conference on May 20, 2005, saying he hoped it would be a "session-ending proposal."

video available here

The proposal did not prevent a partial state government shutdown that July. But it did ultimately help lead to a budget agreement. On July 9, 2005, Pawlenty signed the budget, which included the cigarette proposal. He told the Star Tribune on July 20 that the cigarette proposal "was necessary to 'get us out of the death spiral of the [partial government] shutdown.' "

Pawlenty, who pledged not to raise taxes as governor, called his plan a "user fee" when he first introduced it, although he also acknowledged that "some people are going to say it's a tax."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Bastille Day! Musings on Revolutions Past and Present

"Our public monuments are memorials to the Enlightenment."

"Now defined as art, the totem has lost cult, taboo, and custom."

"Your argument defends an ideology; mine defends the truth."
- Mason Cooley,
  American Aphorist, Professor Emeritus of English, Speech, and World Literature
  1927 - 2002

Today is the French National Day, La Fete Nationale, their equivalent of our Independence Day on the 4th of July.  It is a day I enjoy celebrating, for a variety of reasons, including that I am something of a francophile.  It celebrates the storming of the Bastille, a fortress turned jail, that sometimes held political prisoners; it was an important turning point in the beginning of the French Revolution, in 1789.

One of the reasons I am a francophile is I hold a deep appreciation for the Age of Enlightenment, which was centered in France and arising from French intellectuals of the period, before spreading to other parts of Europe. In part it was the political and philosophical contribution of the French during the Age of Enlightenment which contributed so intensively, both directly and indirectly, to the political philosophy of the Founding Fathers of our American Revolution which preceded, and in turn influenced, that French Revolution celebrated on July 14th in modern France.

So it particularly pains me to see those who give empty lip service to the ideals of our Founding Fathers, while demonstrating an appalling ignorance of our history and  thoe very principles under revisionist history mislabeled as patriotism.  The Age of  Enlightenment, aka the Age of Reason, promoted the scientific method, it developed the idea of the Social Contract of government, of the Rights of Man and Self Determination, and Natural Law.

The worst instances of this are personified by the right wing-nut GOP theocrat candidate Michele Bachmann, who most recently asserted that our rights come from God, not from government.  Although Nut Gingrich runs a close second with his claims that the 2nd Amendment is a right guaranteed in the Bible. Without getting too deeply into a dissertation of the historic contribution of classical liberalism and classical republicanism to our political system, it would be safe to characterize one of the main components of the political philosophy of this era that human rights were universal, that they occurred everywhere innately in all human beings, and was in direct opposition to the premise of the divine right of kings.  It was in essence, a philosophical opposition to the belief political and civil rights were divine in origin, in opposition to religious political oppression generally, and in particular in opposition to inequality of rights among human beings.  It postulated that our inalienable rights exist among all human beings, across nations, cultures, and yes, religions.

It is misstated by pseudo-patriots like Michele Bachmann that our Founding Fathers believed we were a specifically Christian nation.  We are a secular nation and have been from our earliest origins, regardless of whatever personal spiritual beliefs any individual from that era may have practiced privately; there was no consensus of religious belief among our nations founders, nor was conformity to one required or expected.  That we are instead supposed to be a theocratic democracy imposing Christianity has somehow become a fundamental (pun intended) tenet of the GOP.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

UPDATED - GaGa and T-Paw: Busts Another Right Wing Minnesota Presidential Candidate Talking Point!

From, re Pawlenty, but it applies as much or even more to the Bachmanns, and the right wing position on sexual orientation - being gay or straight - as a 'choice'.  The video clip of the TPaw interview follows.

This has additional context in that the right has spent time and energy promoting anti-gay homophobic culture war legislation, that was based on a totally, ludicrously inaccurate ideology-based notion rather than fact-based thinking, INSTEAD of addressing jobs and economic recovery.  The position of the right, as expounded by Bachmann, Pawlenty, and the rightwing fraud (in my opinion) Bradlee Dean is untenable, unsupportable.  It is no longer the wedge issue that it has been used as in the past by the right (thank you Grover Norquist and Karl Rove).

What underlines the antiquated intolerance is that at the same time, we have more new same-sex relationship households in Minnesota than ever before, per those Census questions that Bachmann didn't want you answering. This gives greater emphasis than ever before to how out of touch the right wing theocrats and culture warriors are with the citizens of Minnesota, and the entire country. From the recent STrib article, "Minnesota sees 50% rise in number of gay couples":
Minnesota has seen a quiet surge in the number of same-sex households over the past decade, and the trend has moved beyond the core of the Twin Cities into many suburbs.

The U.S. Census Bureau on Thursday released its second-ever count of same-sex partners in Minnesota, and the numbers detailed a dramatic picture of change:

• A 50 percent jump in same-sex households, a rate of growth five times faster than households overall. The census counted 13,718 same-sex couples in 2010, accounting for about 1 percent of all couples statewide.

•A pronounced spreading-out of traditional "gayborhoods." Minneapolis accounts for nearly one in four same-sex couples, towering over the rest of the state in sheer numbers, but its dominance is fading. Neighboring Golden Valley now claims the highest concentration among cities of ample size. A lesbian Realtor who lives there greeted the news in two words: "Not surprised."

•Although other states are also seeing big jumps, the Twin Cities could well retain its 2000 position as the gay mecca between the coasts. Only a sprinkling of state numbers have yet been reported, but it's known that Hennepin County by 2010 was roughly equal in concentration to Sonoma County north of San Francisco, the second-highest-ranking county in California.
At the same time, in an article posted in the same edition of the STrib, "Pawlenty likes GaGa, but disputes that Gays are born this way", another STrib writer perpetuates trying to deny the science that sexual orientation is something we are born with, even if it is not specifically genetic in origin, that is addressed by, and way down near the bottom of the article:
"Pressed, Pawlenty wavered on whether being gay is a choice, but clarified that "there's no scientific conclusion that it's genetic."

Republican DINOs (and one just really Old Guy) Lose in WI Democratic Primary

The fake democrats on the ballot lost in their open primary, all of them, by a large margin. The attempt to use a dirty trick to beat the recall process failed for the Republicans in Wisconsin.  It wasn't a total loss, it cost them campaign money, and showed their true colors and ethics (lack thereof). 

This does not bode well for the Republicans in the upcoming general election, or in 2012.

I believe my favorite paragraph in the ink on the primray this morning so far however was this one:
Also Tuesday, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin public policy director Chris Taylor emerged from a field of six Democrats to win a primary for a seat in the Assembly representing a portion of Dane County that was vacated by Joe Parisi when he left in April to serve as Dane County executive. Taylor has no opposition in the Aug. 9 general election.
That is sort of a victory not only for Chris Taylor, but for Planned Parenthood in WI as well.  Congratulations Wisconsin, Congratulations Democrats.  Now get busy for that general recall August election!

Governor Walker?

You're next, for recall, after the general election.  Start preparing to be a part term governor, a failure.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fatal Castle Doctrine Results in First Degree Murder Sentence

I leave it to you, our readers, to discuss - was it wrong to shoot someone who no longer posed a threat, and who may not have been armed in the first place?  Does the Castle doctrine apply?  Was Ersland in the wrong to pursue one of the suspects outside the store, instead of allowing him to retreat?

Have at it!  Here is the link to the video, if this doesn't play for you.

Oklahoma pharmacist sentenced to life for killing would-be robber
Fifty-nine-year-old calls his sentence 'an injustice of a monumental proportion'

An Oklahoma pharmacist has been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole for first-degree murder in the shooting death of a teenager who tried to rob the south Oklahoma City pharmacy where he worked.
Fifty-nine-year-old Jerome Ersland was sentenced Monday after Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliott rejected a defense motion to suspend the sentence.

Ersland had no reaction and said nothing as the sentence was handed down. As he left the courtroom, he responded to a reporter's shouted question by calling the sentence "an injustice of a monumental proportion."

A jury convicted Ersland and recommended the life with the possibility of parole sentence for the May 2009 shooting of 16-year-old Antwun Parker. Defense attorney Irven Box said the conviction and sentence will be appealed.

Confronted by two holdup men, Ersland pulled a gun, shot one of them in the head and chased the other away. Then, in a scene recorded by the drugstore's security camera, he went behind the counter, got another gun, and pumped five more bullets into Parker as he lay on the floor unconscious.

At the trial, prosecutors argued that Ersland crossed into the wrong when he shot the unarmed and unconscious Parker five more times.

Ersland contended that he was defending himself and two co-workers from a robber who still posed a threat. Busts Another Key Republican Talking Point on Revenues

Seems like I'm not the only person who noticed the error in the right wing bullshit that the Bush Tax Cuts didn't hurt revenue.  Thank you - AGAIN - to those wonderful people over at!

But heck, when have the Republicans that are running the party, particularly any of those who are running for office, OR the Tea Party faction for that matter, or a significant majority of their base, given a damn about facts?

For those who would like to watch the senator lie to the public, the video of him doing so precedes the information, specifically his lie about 7 minutes + some seconds into the video clip.  There is NO EXCUSE for a sitting senator to be so ill informed, especially the RANKING Republican on the Budget Committee.  Not only did revenues decline after the Bush tax cuts, but when they did rise, they failed to rise as much as they should have risen (in the context of economic growth), as the tax cutting Republicans promised.  In fact, the Republicans have NEVER delivered on their economic promises relating to job growth, economic growth, or revenue growth through tax cuts or other economic measures.  NEVER, NOT ONCE.

Although it shouldn't surprise me that Sessions is so inaccurate and is apparently incapable of researching basic economic facts, given that Alabama has consistently ranked near the bottom for education standards compared to other states, in contrast to Minnesota where we USED to spend more on education and were typically ranked either number 1 or very near the top.

The statements by Senator Sessions and other Republicans who parrot the same fact-free right wing party line is pure bullshit ideology that denies facts and reality, to our peril.  Sessions personifies the ignorant, and allegedly racist, extreme right wing positions of conservatives.
Sessions Wrong on Bush Tax Cuts
July 11, 2011
Sen. Jeff Sessions wrongly claimed that federal revenues "went up every single year" after the Bush tax cuts were "put in." Actually, federal revenues declined for three straight years after the first tax cut was signed in 2001.
The Alabama Republican made his statement on "Face the Nation."
Sessions, July 10: "The revenue went up every single year after those tax cuts were put in. The revenue is down now because of the low economy."

The first tax cut — the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 — was signed into law June 7, 2001. It began to affect revenues almost immediately as "advance rebate" checks were mailed to millions of taxpayers starting that July. After the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2001, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office calculated that those rebates had already amounted to $35 billion. As a result, CBO said, federal income tax receipts fell that year, rather than posting an increase.

CBO, Nov. 14, 2001: Individual income tax receipts fell by $10 billion, or 1.0 percent, in fiscal year 2001. Those receipts would have increased by roughly 3 percent without the $35 billion in tax rebates and smaller reductions from other tax cuts.
In fact, total federal revenues declined in fiscal year 2001 for the first time since 1983, mainly because of the Bush tax cuts. The CBO said total revenues declined by 1.7 percent, but otherwise would have increased by 1.5 percent.

CBO, Nov. 14, 2001: That decline, the first since 1983, was caused by a combination of factors: the slowing economy, tax reductions, and shifts in the timing of tax payments. Even without the recent tax changes (mainly the tax cuts and timing shifts enacted in the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001), revenues would have grown by only about 1.5 percent.

Total federal revenues declined not only in 2001, but also in the following two years, according to CBO historical budget figures. In fiscal 2002, total revenues declined by $138 billion, and in fiscal 2003, they went down for a third year in a row — by nearly $71 billion. Revenues turned up in fiscal 2004, but didn't reach pre-tax-cut levels until fiscal year 2005.

We pointed out these figures to the senator's spokesman, Stephen Miller, who blamed the revenue declines of 2001, 2002 and 2003 on the 2001 recession. But that recession ended in November 2001, and federal revenues continued to go down for the next two years. And, as we noted, CBO determined that both income tax revenues and total overall revenues would have increased in 2001, if not for the tax cuts.

Miller also said Sessions was referring to the period after May 2003, when Bush signed the second, and smaller, of his two major tax reductions. But the fact remains that the largest of Bush's cuts was "put in" starting in 2001, and significantly reduced federal revenues.

– Wendy Zhao  Posted by on Monday, July 11, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Face of Compromise

Many MANY people I talk to complain about the lack of willingness among politicians to compromise to reach solutions. In Minnesota, for example, we currently have shut down our state government because the Democratic Governor, Mark Dayton, hasn't reached agreement with the Republicans who took over control of the MN House and Senate in 2010.

Now, let's look at what compromise looks like...

Governor Dayton, in offering his initial budget, offered a budget of 36 Billion dollars for the two year period covering 2011 and 2012. To keep all current state programs fully funded, without adding one cent of new spending, would have required the spending $39 Billion. Consequently, Dayton's budget cut 3 Billion from baseline. However, tax receipts project to about 34 Billion and Minnesota, like most states, is constitutionally required to not run a deficit.

A further point to know, MN had a Republican Governor and Democratic state house prior to 2010, and had one for 8 years (Tim Pawlenty). During the Pawlenty period, no additional tax revenues were passed other than a "use fee" on cigarettes. No increase in income or sales taxes, nothing AND during 2000 and then again in 2003, taxes were in fact cut, under pressure from MN House minority leader (Tim Pawlenty) in 2000 and Governor Pawlenty in 2003. During his tenure, MN fell from the 8th highest average tax burden to 26th. MN's performance in national standard testing also fell, but that's another complaint, this is about taxes. Long and short, MN cut taxes or held them level for 8 years prior to the economic collapse of 2008-2009. Tax receipts fell in 2009 and 2010 due to loss of jobs and thus income. Pawlenty "balanced" the budget in 2009 by deferring paying large bills (to the tune of 2 Billion) for the NEXT Governor to solve (Dayton).

So, Mark Dayton proposed spending 3 Billion below holding level, he cut spending. But that wasn't enough for Republicans, who, like Pawlenty REFUSE under ANY circumstances, crumbling economies, depression/recession, for ANY reason to EVER raise revenues. Dayton then proposed cutting another 1.9 Billion, leaving the two sides 1.6 Billion apart. The Republican "compromise" was to pass "racino" bills to raise 200M. So the moved 10% as far as Dayton. Had they moved as far as Dayton, oh, by say passing a tax increase of 1.6 Billion, we would have no shut down. Now they've even pulled back from the 200 Million. In addition, to get the $200M they wanted an absolute ban on ANY funding of Planned Parenthood. In short, they tied passing a tax increase to banning any spending for family planning in any form.

Further, as someone noted, Tim Pawlenty only vetoed 2 bills in his first 8 months as Governor, while Dayton has vetoed 23. Dayton hasn't been more bellicose, less easy to get along with. No, the Democrats during Pawlenty's tenure rarely sent spending bills to his desk they knew were DOA. Republicans send bill after bill to Dayton's desk, bills to allow you to shoot someone who enters your tent while camping without beings sure they mean you harm, bills to ban all funding for any form of stem cell research (another "no compromise stance" on something ridiculous) but because they know the public doesn't oppose stem cell research they called it a ban on human "cloning" (something already totally illegal) as a means to disguise their conduct. They sent Dayton a bill to call for voter ID requirements when no meaningful fraud goes on in the state (47 total bad votes, 44 of which were by felons who didn't know they couldn't) and so on, bill after frivolous, time wasting bill, rather than doing the work they needed to do.

Instead, compromise to them means NEVER agreeing to increase revenue, meeting a governor not halfway, but 10% of the way he moved even after he already cut 3 Billion (or 8% from necessary outlays). It means putting no taxes on the rich ahead of anything, never compromising. After the 2010 election I said the first order of business, the ONLY thing Republicans nationally ACTUALLY cared about was extending the Bush tax cuts, specifically the inheritance tax, and.. that was exactly what they demanded from Obama first thing, before anything else happened, any cuts to spending, anything at all. You can be sure it will be the first requirement the next time they are set to expire. The supposed desire to limit spending in Minnesota the Republicans care about, they (clandestinely) put aside recently in one of the proposals, they were willing to SPEND more so long as the revenue came from pushing the funding for schools FURTHER out in the future (the 2B Pawlenty pushed out and is now due) or came from a smoking lawsuit award intended to be used to stop smoking. So they didn't care about spending, just taxes, always taxes, forever taxes, and not taxes on the middle class, they've not fixed the alternative minimum tax though Obama pledged to sign it, in Minnesota they didn't do anything to try to offset hikes in property taxes as revenues fell under Pawlenty. The ONLY tax they really oppose, the only thing they care about, and thus, the reason why they will NEVER compromise, is they will never allow taxes on the wealthy to go up.

So, when someone moans about a lack of civility, about a lack of compromise in Washington. Give them Minnesota as an example, where the Governor cut 1.9 Billion and the Republicans either would SPEND more if it could be effectively borrowed or would only agree to 200M more, 1/10th Dayton's part, and only IF it was tied to a ban on any stem cell research (which they relate to abortion funding) but dishonestly label as banning human cloning, a new tax base which will hit only the poor and middle class because the rich pretty damned infrequently visit casinos.

This country has a vast problem, but it isn't taxes, it isn't spending, it IS was and will be, a refusal to expect profits to equate to jobs or revenue.

As long as we are slaves to the rich, we will have shrinking wages, shrinking services and a shrinking chance of a good future for our children. The Republicans in Minnesota are owned, lock stock and barrel by the ultra-rich who are waging class warfare on the middle class, complaining about paying too much to union workers, complaining about paying too much to keep up services and infrastructure which are the bulwark on which their fortunes were built. The next time someone says spending is out of control, remind them that spending is barely 10% higher, at this time of great crisis, than during Reagan's Presidency (as a percent of GDP), that 8 of the top 13 highest deficit years have been under Republican Presidents, and the other 5, under Democrats occured either during a World War or during an eoncomic collapse. The ONLY consistent promise Republicans have kept over the past 30 years is not reducing spending or government (as if that's the cause of our trouble), but instead, much like the only promise made to native Americans which was kept (to take their lands), has been to cut taxes on the rich. If you do not live in the upper 1%, your taxes have "on book" remained flat, but your debt to your children has grown by many tens of thousands of dollars. ALL of it would have been avoided had we kept taxes at/near what they were in 1998 or better yet, 1981. There would be no debt, and we would be no worse off. Our national treasuries have been given to the rich to build factories in China, where taxes are generally higher. The difference in that isn't about revenue either, it's about the fact that without slashing taxes on the rich, they'd never have been given or had the incentives to move so many jobs overseas, nor would they have had the power to control our national debate so completely

Republican Revenue Lies

The Republicans claim we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.  That is a lie.  We have a revenue problem.  Sessions makes the misstatement, the LIE, about the revenue side of the problem, some 7 minutes + several seconds into the video clip.

Don't take my word for it; the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office says so,  by way of Bruce Bartlett; (bold face, my emphasis added - DG).

GOP's Fuzzy Math Misstates CBO Revenue Projections
By BRUCE BARTLETT, The Fiscal Times June 3, 2011
Debt Ceiling: Complete Coverage
With the House voting 318 to 97 earlier this week against raising the Treasury’s borrowing authority, every Republican and some Democrats were digging in their heels on the idea that trillions of dollars of spending cuts must accompany any rise in the debt limit. Although they repeatedly say that “everything is one the table,” Republicans quickly add that this does not include higher taxes.

Simple arithmetic, however, tells us that a budget deficit and the concomitant increase in debt can result from either higher spending or lower revenues. And indeed, lower revenues are responsible for about half the increase in debt since 2001, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Since 2001, the national debt has increased $11.8 trillion. This resulted from a $6.2 trillion decline in revenues and a $5.7 trillion increase in spending. Of the revenue decline, $2.8 trillion resulted from legislated tax cuts and $3.4 trillion from economic and technical factors. On the spending side, almost all of the increase was legislated, with $2.4 trillion of it coming between 2001 and 2008.

Despite the significant contribution of tax cuts to the national debt, Republicans argue that higher revenues are off the table in the debt limit negotiations. In a May 16 floor speech, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), the assistant Senate minority leader, made this fact clear in no uncertain terms. Said Kyl, “When we are talking about how to get the budget better balanced, how to reduce our deficits, we should not be looking at the revenue side or the taxing side; we should be looking at the spending side.”

A key argument Kyl made is that it is unnecessary to raise revenues because they are already projected to rise substantially in coming years to their historical level of between 18 percent and 20 percent of the gross domestic product. As he explained:

“CBO figures demonstrate that under any of the budgets offered…we will be back to historic average levels of tax collections in just the next few years – something on the order of 20 percent of our gross domestic product. Revenues are not the problem. They are going to be back where they have always been.”
Indeed, if one looks at the latest CBO projections, Kyl is right. They show revenues rising from 14.8 percent of GDP this year – the lowest level since 1950 – to 16.3 percent next year, 18.8 percent in 2013 and about 20 percent of GDP thereafter.

What Kyl neglected to mention is that the CBO is required to assume that all laws presently on the books will be followed to the letter. Therefore, it assumes in its projections that all of the tax cuts set to expire at the end of 2011 and 2012 will lapse permanently and on schedule – no matter how obvious it is that they will be extended. For example, the research and experimentation tax credit will expire at the end of this year. But it has expired many times in the past and always been renewed. Although there is no doubt that it will be renewed again because it has strong bipartisan support, CBO’s baseline projections presume that the research tax credit will cease to exist for good after Dec. 31.

More importantly, the CBO assumes that all of the Bush tax cuts will expire at the end of next year. By 2014, the end of all expiring tax provisions will raise revenues by 3.8 percent of GDP. Therefore, virtually all of the revenue increase Sen. Kyl says will take place is the result of allowing current tax cuts to expire.

This would be okay if Kyl and the rest of his party were committed to allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of 2012 and not press for their extension or for additional tax cuts. But everyone knows that this will never happen. It is a 100 percent certainty that Republicans will demand that the Bush tax cuts be extended, just as they did when they were previously scheduled to expire at the end of 2010.
We can't afford to live in a Right Wing fantasy world - a scary place, dominated by conspiracy theories, out of touch with reality. It is not only a very ugly place, a bad place, it is dishonest. We need to balance our budgets realistically, including increasing revenues and decreasing tax expenditures such as the  bad subsidies, like those to big oil, and ethanol and other Big Ag, and to big finance such as billionaire hedge fund managers.

We have a revenue problem, and it is the result, in large part, of the Bush era tax cuts and the subsequent tax cuts forced on the country by the right, the ones which primarily benefit the wealthiest over the interests of the majority. The decline in revenue occurred BEFORE the financial crisis that began in 2007, which only exacerbated the problem. The right as always, pushes their Republican Math, which doesn't add up, pursuing the Grover Norquist ideology and right wing 'Ickonomics". The  facts be damned, if you're one of these Republicans, the greedy, corrupt kind.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rupert Murdoch's Scandal

There has been enormous coverage in some of the media recently about the phone hacking done by Rupert Murdoch's news organization in the UK. The phone hacking is leading to arrests, amid tremendous upheavals of public opinion against Murdoch's organization and methods.

There has been equally excessive coverage of the Casey Anthony case in Florida, leading up to and continuing after the recent acquital of the charge of murdering a lovely young child.

The Rupert Murdoch scandal has resulted in the closing of a very profitable although tacky tabloid (think UK version of the National Enquirer).  More likely it will simply be reopened and rebranded, with business as usual.

I find the outrage a joke.  Not that Murdoch and his organizatoin haven't behaved badly - they have.  But whether it be the Casey Anthony Trial or the stories chased bymeans fair and foul, the driving force behind the stories is not ONLY the greed of people like Murdoch for power and proift, it is power and profit that is the result of a sick, intrusive curiosity on the part of the tabloid consuming public.

We can recognize that the media is contributing to a sick intrusive curiosity on the part of the public.

If the public is outraged at Murdoch, a share of the blame for the scandal resides, ultimately, with that same public that demands juicy, scandalous, personal details.  So long as that demand exists, there will be those, like Murdoch, who thrive and profit on other people's misery.

For myself, I choose not to indulge in that curiosity about the misery of celebrities, public figures, or tragic crime figures.  I wish everyone would consider how preoccupied they are with other people's misery, with celebrity.  Pay attention instead to serious issues, to discerning facts, to understanding not leering over the details of other people's private lives.