Archive for category National Politics

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Media Has To Stop Giving Climate Deniers Equal Time

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”

Via Media Matters.

Be sure and watch “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.”

More info:
Why Revive ‘Cosmos?’ Neil DeGrasse Tyson Says Just About Everything We Know Has Changed

UPDATE:
Neil deGrasse Tyson Is Really Starting To Scare Conservatives

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Paul Ryan’s Free School Lunch Story Never Actually Happened

You can’t make this stuff up. Or more to the point, right-wingers make this stuff up all the time. They have to, because their ideology is not reality-based.

h/t TPM

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) fired up the audience Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference with an anecdote about what he called the heartlessness of giving out free school lunches — but it turns out that “moving” story never really happened.

Here’s the quote:

“The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.

WaPo’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked Ryan’s story, and gave it “four pinocchios.” The story Ryan attributed to Eloise Anderson is actually taken from a book by Laura Schroff, who is in reality a supporter of federal programs for hungry kids such as school lunches and SNAP (aka food stamps).

Debunking this stuff is easy. When a right-winger like Ryan poses a counter-factual argument, such as “poor children would be better off without free school lunches,” it’s always based on a lie.

More info:
A story too good to check: Paul Ryan and the tale of the brown paper bag

UPDATE:
Jon Stewart Shreds Paul Ryan’s Free School Lunch Fib (VIDEO)

UPDATE:
Conservatives Offer Americans Empty Stomachs and Empty Rhetoric

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Ed Schultz: ‘I Was Wrong’ On Keystone XL Pipeline

MSNBC’s Ed Schultz reversed his support for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline on Wednesday and said the United States shouldn’t allow it to be built. Last month he called the pipeline “a step in the right direction when it comes to energy independence.”

Of course, Keystone XL won’t be a pipeline TO the USA. It’s a pipeline THROUGH the USA to overseas export. It’s likely to cause a gasoline price hike in this country. What do we get from this pipeline? More groundwater pollution, and more climate change.

President Obama could stop this pipeline all by himself. The right-wing is clearly worried, and the Faux News crowd is even claiming that Keystone XL approval would be the answer to the crisis in the Ukraine!

h/t to HuffPo

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Kerry to Russia: ‘You Just Don’t Invade Another Country on Phony Pretext’

Russia invades Crimea

Having a late breakfast this morning, I just about choked on my toast when I heard this. Interviewed on “Meet the Press,” Secretary of State John Kerry said (emphasis added):

“…Russia is inviting opprobrium on the international stage. There could even be ultimately asset freezes, visa bans. There could be certainly a disruption of any of the normal trade routine, and there could be business drawback on investment in the country. The ruble is already going down and feeling the impact of this.”

“And the reason for this…is because you just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. There are ways to deal with this.”

Really? Does the USA have the right to lecture anybody about an illegal invasion on a phony pretext?

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Unemployment Displaces Dysfunctional Government As Top Problem in the U.S.

Gallup Poll

Gallup:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans have a new No. 1 problem. Nearly one in four Americans mention jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October.

For the moment at least, right-wing Republicans have stopped deliberately trying to plunge us into another Great Depression. Maybe we can do start doing something about the mess they created. Too bad Dems have given up trying to re-take the House of Representatives. Howard Dean wouldn’t have given up if he were still in charge.

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1 Percenter: People With More Money Should Get More Votes

Thomas Perkins is an 82-year-old venture capitalist worth an estimated $8 billion. He doesn’t like democracy. Unfortunately for us, people like him hold the balance of power in today’s America.

Asked for an idea that could “change the world” by FORTUNE’s Adam Lashinsky, Perkins told an audience at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Thursday that Americans shouldn’t be able to vote unless they pay taxes and that the wealthy should have more votes.

Perkins has houses in Belvedere, Marin County, California, and spends about two months a year at Plumpton Place, his Elizabethan mansion in East Sussex, England, which once belonged to the Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. In 2010 he purchased the penthouse atop the Millennium Tower on Mission Street in San Francisco’s financial district.

You may remember this guy from his WSJ letter to the editor that compared what he called the “progressive war on the American one percent” to the Nazi death camps under Adolf Hitler.

When I say that capitalism is antithetical to democracy, or that the 1 Percent are trying to parlay their plutonomy into a plutocracy, this is an example of what I mean.

h/t Jillian Berman on HuffPo

UPDATE: How One Billionaire’s Idea To Give Rich People More Votes Is Already In The Works

39 Comments

TPP Sidetracked?

Coporatocracy

While a major media news blackout provides cover, Congress is debating whether to give the president the authority to fast-track a massive free trade agreement, the secretly-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Members of Congress haven’t even been able to read it even though corporate lobbyists have.

President Obama is at odds with Democrats in both houses of Congress concerning reauthorizing a procedure called the “trade promotion authority” (TPA), that would grant the White House power to submit free trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is strongly against it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has now publicly opposed giving President Obama fast track authority.

“We need transparency. We need a seat at the table to understand what they believe they are doing, so we can make it better. And if we don’t make it better, then we will not accept a path that is a job loser.”

TPP is part of the plan for global corporatocracy run by and for the 1 Percent. Unelected lobbyists and trade representatives are at the table, while representatives from the public at large and businesses other than huge monopolies, are conspicuously absent. From what little we know of the agreement, it would violate the U.S. Constitution, weaken environmental protections, and lead to more job losses, erosion of wages, and worsening inequality. TPP also threatens freedom of speech on the Internet because it would extend restrictive intellectual property laws and rewrite international rules on enforcement.

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$1 Trillion Farm Bill Another Victory For The 1 Percent

In the farm bill, Congress boosted the already-massive subsidies to agribusiness while screwing the poor. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law on Friday.

Via DSWright on FDL:

The price tag for the Farm Bill comes in at nearly $1 trillion. Most of that money is designed to enrich the already rich. Remember that next time someone tells you the 1% hate “Big Government.” Because austerity and fiscal discipline speeches haven’t stopped wasteful programs– they have just given cover to cutting meager benefits for the poor.

Many so-called Democrats voted for an almost $9 billion cut to the SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) program, which takes away $90 a month from 850,000 of the nation’s poorest who seek help to buy groceries. This is in addition to the cuts already enacted late last year.

UPDATE: Food Stamp Cuts Signed Into Law

Republican legislators refused invitations to attend the signing ceremony because they wanted bigger safety net cuts.

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Keystone XL: The Biggest Mistake of Obama’s Presidency?

Keystone XL PipelineKeystone XL is a “go.” Count on Secretary of State Kerry to do the right thing – for the industry. The planet will have to take its chances.

h/t Roots Action:

It’s classic. Wait till late on a Friday to announce a reprehensible decision in hopes of minimizing the uproar in response. But the climate crisis doesn’t take weekends off.

…”Significant impacts to most resources are not expected along the proposed Project route assuming the following,” reads the State Department report, before listing a series of improbable assumptions.

They say it’s just one pipeline. But the point is we have to say no to ALL the pipelines and leave fossil fuels in the ground.

UPDATE:

The Central Flaw of the Keystone XL Economic Analysis (It’s status quo bias)

UPDATE:
Sam Stein: So What Exactly Is Obama’s Red Line On Keystone XL?

UPDATE: As Keystone Decision Looms, Buried Report Cites TransCanada’s ‘Inadequate’ Pipeline Inspections

UPDATE: Environmentalists Continue To Question Keystone Analysts’ Ties To TransCanada

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The State of the Union is Desperate

State of the Union

Year after year in his annual address to Congress, President Obama describes the state of the Union as “strong.” That adjective doesn’t describe the increasingly desperate and shrinking American middle class.

According to the Pew Research Center, the proportion of Americans who identify themselves as middle class has dropped sharply in recent years.

The nationally representative survey of 1,504 adults conducted Jan. 15-19 found that the share of Americans who identify with the middle class has never been lower, dropping to 44% in the latest survey from 53% in 2008 during the first months of the Great Recession.

…Economists also report a lack of jobs growth in middle-skill, middle-income jobs. An analysis by the New York Federal Reserve Bank found that employment in middle-skill jobs increased by 46% from 1980 to 2009. Meanwhile, employment in low-skill jobs increased 110% and employment in high-skill jobs increased 100%. This phenomenon of “jobs polarization” is perhaps most assiduously studied by David Autor, an MIT economist. His research demonstrates that employment growth over the past three decades has steadily gravitated toward low-skill jobs.

Tonight, President Obama’s challenge is not to explain or sympathize with the plight of the middle class, but to tell us what he’s going to do –as President– to solve the problem of rising income inequality. Relying on Congress is not a plan!

UPDATE:
7 Ways Obama Can Actually Get Something Done
Obama’s Last State Of The Union: A Report Card

UPDATE: What’s Obama Going to Say About the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Obama has been urging Congress to use its “fast-track authority” to sign off on the still-unfinished deal between 12 Pacific nations. If lawmakers agree to fast-track the measure, they wouldn’t be able to offer amendments and would have to take an up-or-down vote on whatever deal the administration eventually reaches. The TPP has the backing of corporate interest groups, but liberals have balked over its potential to undermine environmental, public health and labor standards, as well as ship U.S. jobs overseas. The White House has yet to find a House Democratic cosponsor for it.

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President Obama Needs More Shoes

During a 2007 campaign speech in Spartanburg, South Carolina, then-Senator Obama promised he would fight for collective bargaining rights if he was elected president.

“And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”

Two years ago, President Obama passed up an opportunity to make good on that promise when Wisconsin workers lost their collective bargaining rights. Some people suggested mailing pairs of comfortable shoes to the White House to help the President out.

Once again, our President needs those shoes. He says he is concerned that Americans have gone too long without a minimum wage increase, yet he won’t sign an executive order to help out low-wage federal contract employees.

From Think Progress:

Unlike millions of other low-wage employees, the ones fulfilling federal service contracts can get a raise without an act of Congress. The workers, backed by a group of about 17 House progressives, want President Obama to exercise his executive authority to improve their pay and get taxpayers out of the business of paying poverty wages. The administration has kept quiet on the topic for months as the congressional progressives who favor the move have gotten louder and begun criticizing the president’s inaction, and both workers and lawmakers hope Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address will include an announcement about raising federal contract worker wages with the stroke of a pen.

The eight-month federal worker campaign has played out in the shadow of much larger coast-to-coast strikes by fast food and Walmart workers, who likely hope their activism has emboldened a president who once famously pledged to walk picket lines alongside workers.

UPDATE: 11 Jobs Where an Honest Day’s Work Earns You Poverty

UPDATE: Obama To Raise Minimum Wage For Federal Contract Workers By Executive Order

42 Comments

U.S. Appeals Court Kills Net Neutrality

Corporatists of America, rejoice. The Internet monopolists have won.

Any semblance of net neutrality in the United States is as good as dead. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s 2010 order that imposed network neutrality regulations on wireline broadband services. The ruling is a major victory for telecom and cable companies who have fought all net neutrality restrictions vociferously for years.

Net neutrality was the set of rules that required Internet service provider (ISP) network management to be transparent, and that prohibited ISPs from engaging in practices that block, stifle or discriminate against (lawful) websites or traffic types on the Internet.

No more net neutrality means ISPs can now discriminate against content they dislike. ISPs can now force websites to PAY for faster content delivery.

Netflix watchers and BitTorrent users might want to beware — soon your beloved services may not work like they used to. Now that net neutrality’s down for the count, ISPs can discriminate against entire types of traffic: For instance, an ISP could slow or block all peer-to-peer file sharing, or all online video streaming.

…Right now, America’s broadband is slow. It’s slow because ISPs can already make gobs of money by charging the rich a ton for high-quality Internet while leaving the rest of America with subpar (or no) service.

Now, with net neutrality gone, ISPs will be able to make even more money off their existing customer base. They won’t need to improve service or bring broadband to rural areas because they’ll be able to keep growing (financially, at least) by charging content providers more for faster delivery and charging customers more for faster access. In all likelihood, Tuesday’s ruling means the problems with America’s Internet will be magnified.

America, your crappy broadband service just got crappier!

UPDATE: CREDO Action: Verizon killed Net Neutrality. But the FCC can save it

Petition: Tell FCC Tom Wheeler: Reclassify broadband as a telecom service, and enact strong Net Neutrality protections.

UPDATE: Netflix warns ISPs: We’ll mobilize our 44 million customers if you slow down our streams

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