Archive for category National Politics

John Ellis (‘Jeb’) Bush: Medicare Phase Out ‘A Winning Argument’

Let’s “phase out” Medicare? Seriously? (emphasis added):

“I think we need to be vigilant about this and persuade people that our, when your volunteers go door to door, and they talk to people, people understand this. They know, and I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something – because they’re not going to have anything. And that argument I think is going to be a winning argument if we take it directly to people.”

Why do Tea-GOPers keep attacking Social Security and Medicare, the most popular and effective government programs that sustain the American middle class? How out of touch can you be?

The “new system” he’s referring to is the Tea-GOP’s idea of replacing Medicare coverage with cheap vouchers that don’t cover the cost of health care for seniors.

Bush answers my last question here: Jeb Bush: ‘Please Help Me’ Understand Sharknado

Hey, lately Tea-GOP presidential candidates have been desperate to get media attention, resorting to various lame attempts to out-clown Donald Trump (can’t be done, Trump is driving the clown bus). It’s sad.

UPDATE:
Paul Krugman Decimates Jeb Bush’s Medicare Delusion

The real reason conservatives want to do away with Medicare has always been political: It’s the very idea of the government providing a universal safety net that they hate, and they hate it even more when such programs are successful.

…Medicare is 50 years old this week. Conservatives have been warning that it will destroy American freedom for that entire time. Kind of a bizarre claim about a program that has been a lifesaver both financially and literally for many seniors and their loved ones.

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Voucher Advocates Admit the Truth: It’s About ‘Abolishing the Public School System’

Vouchers

Via AlterNet:

ALEC is changing their talking points about private school vouchers. Instead of promoting the lie that vouchers are supposed to help disadvantaged children, they now concede the truth that the plan is a bonus for well-off families — but poor families won’t able to afford private school tuition even with the extra money.

ALEC seems poised to ditch the civil rights “marketing plan,” (as the rightwing Heartland Institute aptly put it in a 1991 paper) and get back to basics: school vouchers are for privatizing public education.

Libertarian guru Milton Friedman put it more bluntly back in 2006: school vouchers are part of a right-wing plan for “abolishing the public school system.”

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The Reality: Zero Net In-migration From Mexico

Mexico border

While The Donald and the rest of the Tea-GOP are fond of freaking out over the supposed crisis caused by a massive influx of migrants to the USA from Mexico, the actual facts point to zero net migration from Mexico since 2010.

A combination of economic and demographic factors have changed the immigration trend, which is not likely to reverse again soon.

Barring truly massive shocks to the Mexican economy or political system, we are extremely unlikely to see another great wave of immigration for at least the next 20 year to 40 years. And that would only happen if Mexico reverses a half-century of declining fertility rates within the next few years.

Don’t expect to hear this from anybody in the Tea-GOP, even though it really might help them politically if the immigration issue went away.

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He’s the Front Runner

Trump your cat
I can haz nomination – trumpyourcat

Remember in the 2012 race for the Tea-GOP presidential nomination when Donald Trump briefly became the front runner even though he wasn’t a declared candidate? If you do, then you won’t be surprised that The Donald is again leading the pack in the latest USA Today poll.

USA Today poll

Steven Rosenfeld on Alternet: “The open question is how much damage can Trump to do the GOP brand and the nominating process…”

Another question is when will one of the other 15 Tea-GOP contenders dare to criticize Trump or point out that he would make a ridiculously awful President? Are they afraid to take on such a luxurious, high-end top candidate for fear of being called a loser or a dummy? Do they think that by not attacking Trump they can inherit his racist supporters when Trump drops out?

UPDATE:
From Their Lies To His Ears: The Right-Wing Media Myths Making Up Trump’s Campaign Platform

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Congress on Track for Another Government Shutdown

House Speaker John Boehner has refused to negotiate with Democrats on the federal budget, setting the conditions for another government shutdown at the end of September.

The House goes on vacation until after Labor Day at the end of the month. If no deal is in place, it will leave just three weeks to craft a budget compromise before funding for the government expires on Sept. 30.

Senate Democrats have promised to block passage of any budget bills that lock in sequestration cuts. Nothing has yet come to a vote in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto any such austerity budget bills.

Over in the House, the Tea-GOP has been unable to gather enough votes for the Interior-Environment appropriations bill (that includes crippling budget cuts to the EPA, would prohibit regulation of fracking or implementation of carbon emission standards for electric power plants, block new clean-water rules, and stop the government’s marine and coastal planning efforts to respond to climate change) because it contains an amendment allowing the confederate flag to be displayed in national parks. Speaker Boehner has placed a complete hold on appropriations bills until the impasse is resolved.

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War of Aggression Cancelled?

Cartoon bomb

If all goes well, the U.S. military won’t have to invade Iran on behalf of Israel after all. I recall there were times during the Bush administration when I thought we were just days away from another illegal war of aggression – a really big one against a country of 77 million people.

Some important points:

Really, this whole brouhaha isn’t about nuclear weapons at all. It’s about regime change. Or you could also say, it’s about punishing ordinary Iranians because their government doesn’t like Israel.

More info:
Iran Nuclear Deal: World Powers Reach Historic Agreement to Lift Sanctions
Confused About The Iran Deal? This Cartoon Bomb Will Help
“Treason”: Right-Wing Media Lament Historic Deal To Curb Iran’s Nuclear Program
Lindsay Graham: Iran Deal ‘Akin To Declaring War On Israel’

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John Ellis (‘Jeb’) Bush: Blame the Victims For Bad Economy

What’s wrong with the American economy? If you ask presidential candidate John Ellis (“Jeb”) Bush, it has nothing to do with the Great Recession of 2008 during the most recent Bush administration — which put 8.7 million of us out of work. Nothing to do with Tea-GOP economic sabotage during the long, slow recovery that replaced many middle-class jobs with low-wage and part-time employment.

Our friend “Jeb! 2016″ says all that’s needed to fix the economy is for more people to work longer hours. Apparently he is not aware that productivity and worker compensation have been decoupled for about 40 years now. Working harder gets us nowhere, and makes CEOs and the 1 Percent richer.

The relationship between American workers’ industriousness and their economic security has eroded so severely in recent decades that the two concepts aren’t even on speaking terms these days.

Workers were a staggering 25 percent more productive in 2012 than they were in 2000. But over the same period that bosses started getting a full quarter more work out of their employees, the median wage grew exactly zero percent. Even those with college degrees saw their pay stagnate over the past decade. Over the five-year stretch encompassing the Great Recession and the first few years of the slow recovery Bush is criticizing, workers gave their bosses an 8 percent jump in productivity – and got back an outright decline in earnings.

Tea-GOP prescriptions like “work harder for less pay” don’t deserve to win any votes. Americans who work for a living are not at fault. We’re the victims of a financialized, de-unionized, 1 Percent economy that’s reaching Gilded Age levels of wealth inequality.

UPDATE:
Newsweek: Does Jeb Bush understand economics?

Bush’s full statement was: “My aspiration for the country and I believe we can achieve it, is 4% growth as far as the eye can see. Which means we have to be a lot more productive, workforce participation has to rise from its all-time modern lows. It means that people need to work longer hours and, through their productivity, gain more income for their families.”

This word salad mixes together different economic terms as if they mean the same thing and reaches for statistics that are, quite simply, ridiculous. Perhaps Bush was just sloppy in his language, but whatever aide is prepping him on economics needs to do a better job–maybe by working longer hours.

…When it comes to productivity, American workers have been doing a great job. Productivity, which is the economic output per worker, has grown relentlessly since 1947 in almost a straight upward line. Implying that Americans aren’t being productive enough is about the same as saying McDonald’s doesn’t sell enough hamburgers. How much is enough to Bush? If record productivity–with a cumulative growth of almost 300% since 1947–doesn’t cut it, what does?

There is no context where “we have to be more productive” means anything other than “push yourselves past record levels, workers!” That is, unless Bush doesn’t know what the word means.

But with this full statement, he has also demonstrated that he has no idea of the real problem facing American workers. No doubt, he is blaming them for their stagnant wages–all that’s needed is more hours of work, and wages will improve significantly.

As history proves, that’s hokum. America went through nearly a century where the profits generated by growth in worker productivity was shared–the more they produced, the more money everyone made. What Bush and far too many Republicans refuse to acknowledge is that wages and productivity became uncoupled around 1973: Productivity goes up, corporate profits go up, the rich get wealthier, but the financial benefits don’t trickle down to workers.

…American history’s most productive workers are not responsible for the fact that they aren’t paid enough. Do Bush and his GOP cohorts really believe that the wealthy are sitting in their offices, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for workers to demand more money that will then be handed over gladly? Wages are growing at their lowest level since World War II. In fact, income inequality is worse today than it was in 1774, even when slavery is included in the numbers, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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July 4th Scorecard

According to our government and the media, everyone is supposed to be terrified of ISIS this weekend. So let’s keep score of recent attacks here in the American “homeland.” I’ll update as necessary through Sunday.

SHARKS vs. Americans
Killed = 0
Wounded = 10 (Florida, North & South Carolina)

ALLIGATORS vs. Americans
Killed = 1 (Texas)
Wounded = 2 (Texas)

DOGS vs. Americans
Killed = 2 (Texas and Oklahoma)
Wounded = 1 (Alaska)

FIREWORKS vs. Americans
Killed = 1 (Maine)
Wounded = 9 (Colorado)

LIGHTNING vs. Americans
Killed = 1 (Arizona)
Wounded = 6 (3 in Colorado and 3 in Minnesota)

ARMED TODDLERS vs. Americans
Killed = 2 (1 in Louisiana, 1 in Michigan)
Wounded = 0

ISIS vs. Americans
Killed = 0
Wounded = 0

More info:
Video Captures Fireworks Bombarding Terrified Crowd In Avon, Colorado

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The Supreme Court Is On A Big Roll For The People!

It's just not right!

It’s just not right!

Thank goodness Obama got elected and was able to get two honest jurors on the supreme court. Everybody is stunned to see decision after decision coming down on the side of ordinary Americans for a change. Scalia is just beside himself and even mentioned “hippies” in his dissenting court opinion about gay marriage. Bizarre.

First came the ruling against segregation in housing. Then “Obamacare” was saved in a decisive vote. I can only remember one other such vote in over a decade, since we started to see all these 5 to 4 politically motivated votes coming out of the court. Then the stunning “marriage equality” decision.

Today we hear about a ruling which actually allows citizens to be included in redistricting discussions. This is really big! I hope something can be done in time for the next presidential vote, but I doubt it.

This should be a clarion call for people to get out and overwhelm the voting system by – you know – voting, so we can prevent a Republican president from stacking the court with partisan hacks again. If McCain and Romney had taken over the white house, none of these rulings would have been possible.

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Utah Politicians Are Spending Millions On Public Land Grab Scheme – At Your Expense

Land Beyond the Law

Writing in the Salt Lake City Weekly, Eric Ethington reveals that frustrated Utah politicians are trying to deal with widespread public opposition to their land grab plans by hiring two right-wing consulting firms, Strata Policy and Davillier Law Group. Strata is best known for its opposition to renewable energy.

The job of these firms is apparently to get more support for state government’s illegal scheme to steal 30 million acres of our public lands. On June 16, Utah lawmakers committed up to $2 million in taxpayer dollars for the two firms to launch PR campaigns aimed at convincing a majority of Utahns that it’s somehow a good idea to ditch the whole concept of public lands. It’s all part of the Koch brothers agenda, but why should the Kochs pay for their own propaganda when they can get their hands on OUR money?

The consequences of a state takeover of public lands and national forests in Utah have been spelled out already. In general, such a land grab would require either a steep Utah tax hike or a massive increase in fossil fuel extraction to cover the cost of land management (hundreds of millions of dollars annually).

One way to answer this Tea-GOP attack on public lands: President Obama could be persuaded to declare one or more national monuments in Utah before he leaves office. Potential national monument proclamations could include Greater Canyonlands, the San Rafael Swell, Cedar Mesa or Desolation Canyon along the Green River. The new monuments would be incorporated into BLM’s National Landscape Conservation System and managed to protect natural and cultural values. The Obama administration has already demonstrated a willingness to move ahead with monument proclamations.

UPDATE:
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune is lobbying for a Greater Canyonlands National Monument proclamation.

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Big News From Ben & Jerry’s

I Dough I Dough ice cream
Where is Glenden these days? Anyway, Ben & Jerry’s celebrated today’s history-making Supreme Court decision on marriage equality with ‘I Dough, I Dough’ ice cream.

The Court majority held that the Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex, and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when a marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.

We’re reminded today that freedom isn’t free. Basic constitutional rights are hard-won after years of struggle. Plus, the Tea-GOP made a big mistake in 2004 by putting same-sex marriage bans on state ballots (it was a GOTV strategy by Karl Rove to boost George W. Bush’s re-election chances).

Utah was one of 11 states that enacted a redundant constitutional amendment (same-sex marriage was already illegal in Utah), thus running afoul of the Equal Protection Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Battles are often won by taking full advantage of an enemy blunder.

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Back To Iraq

Peter Van Buren (Reuters), with emphasis added:

In 2011, making good on a campaign promise that helped land him in the White House, President Barack Obama closed out America’s eight-year war in Iraq. Disengaged, redeployed, packed up, departed.

Then America went back. In August 2014, Obama turned an emotional appeal to save the Yazidi people from Islamic State into a bombing campaign. A massive tap was turned and arms flowed into the region. The number of American soldiers in Iraq zoomed up to 3,100, quietly joined by some 6,300 civilian contractors. The reputed mission was training – or whipping the Iraqi Army into shape.

After another inglorious retreat of the Iraqi Army, this time in Ramadi, the Obama administration last week announced a change: America will send 450 more troops to establish a new base at al Taqaddum, Anbar Province.

It is clear the United States no longer believes the Iraqi Army exists. What is left of it is largely a politically correct distribution tool for American weapons, and a fiction for the media. America will instead work directly with three sectarian militias in their separate de facto states (current bases in America’s Iraqi archipelago include one in Sunni Anbar, another in Kurdish territory and three in Shi’ite-controlled areas). The hope is that the militias will divert their attention from one another long enough to focus on Islamic State. It is, of course, impossible; everyone in Iraq — except the Americans — knows Islamic State is a symptom of a broader civil war, not a stand-alone threat to anyone’s homeland.

…In Vietnam, Americans were caught between two sides of a civil war. Iraq has at least three but, once again, America sits in the center, used by all, trusted by none.

A year after ISIS captured Mosul, it seems there is no going back for the internally displaced people who fled the city. At this point there is no force that can re-take Iraq’s third-largest city.

More info:
More US troops to Iraq: How it will work
We’re now going to send “advisers” into combat. What could possibly go wrong?

UPDATES:
It may be that the U.S. will opt for a strategy of containment versus ISIS, because if the Iraqi Army doesn’t exist then arguably neither does “Iraq” as a unified sovereign country – now or in the future. Maybe that’s the right strategy (Joe Biden suggested something like this in 2006), but it is weird that such a big decisions can be made without any serious public discussion.

Andrew Bacevich:

ISIS would not exist were it not for the folly of the United States in invading — and breaking — Iraq in the first place; we created the vacuum that ISIS is now attempting to fill.

…For more than a decade and at very considerable expense, the United States has been attempting to create an Iraqi government that governs and an Iraqi army that fights; the results of those efforts speak for themselves: they have failed abysmally.

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