I’m as terrified as you to learn that I apparently agree with Sarah Palin

by lestro

So let’s just get this out of the way: Sarah Palin is not only one of the Dumb, but Dumb Royalty. She’s a Queen of Dumb, with her folksy aw shucks-isms and half-misremembered facts and pure unadulterated bullshit, all in front of reality tv cameras that few seem capable of turning away from.

I mean, I really don’t see her appeal.  And I’m from “Real America,” straight down to the three dairy farms on the road where I grew up.

Because she is Dumb.  Not just willfully, but straight-up Dumb.  (As opposed to Michelle Bachmann and Rick Perry, who appear to be more willfully Dumb than actually Dumb.)

So imagine my surprise to find out that when you set your decoder ring on ‘guano,’ Sarah Palin is actually saying some of the same things I have been saying about politics.

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

That’s, um, difficult for a progressive punk rocker to disagree with.

“Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done?” she said, referring to politicians. “It’s because there’s nothing in it for them. They’ve got a lot of mouths to feed — a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along.”

I mean, fuck; she’s not wrong.  That is EXACTLY why nothing gets done.

I mean:

“This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk,” she said of the crony variety. She added: “It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest — to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners — the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70 percent of the jobs in America.”

Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult to not read those quotes in her overwrought squeak-accented cheerleader cadence and  then simply dismiss it as sarcastic pandering to the downtrodden, but somehow reading it on the page…  I mean, if I didn’t tell you it was Sarah Palin, you’d have never guessed.  Never.

You’d have probably guessed I was throwing a curveball and trying to trip President Obama up with something Candidate Obama said.

But it’s Sarah Palin.  The candidate who invented “death panels,” is qualified to be president because Russia is right over the border and can’t name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagrees.

Go ahead, go back and re-read those quotes in your best Zach de la Rocha voice instead of Tina Fey’s, and they sound, you know… like the change we kind of hoped for.

Now, obviously I disagree greatly with Sarah Palin on the solutions to these issues and can never, ever support her to be anything more than a guest at the White House, but the idea that she could consider this whole anti-corporate thing an issue worth talking about puts her ahead of most of the candidates on either side.

So something tells me there is a wire crossed here, a context or something that is missing.  I mean, there’s no way Sarah Palin is out there waving one of those Adbusters corporate america flags, especially given the policies she has supported – a much more realistic indicator of the type of Dumb she would unleash across this great nation.

But maybe that’s a language difference and there is common ground that can be found.

Then again, maybe the reporter is simply over-thinking Palin, with the hope of finding something more than the empty-headed celebutard she appears to be, and thus justifying all the attention we pay her.

Personally, I think this only further proves the theory that “Sarah Palin” is a performance artist a la Andy Kaufman or Borat, just fucking with us to see how far she can push it before we call her on it.

Now more than ever, it’s the only logical explanation.

Right?

Dumb Fighting: Social Security is NOT a ponzi scheme

by lestro

So at the debate the other night Rick Perry repeatedly called Social Security a “ponzi scheme.”

He didn’t say it was like a ponzi scheme or that it resembled a ponzi scheme.  He said it is ponzi scheme.  Twice.

Perry: ”[I]t is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you’re paying into a program that’s going to be there.

and:

Perry: You cannot keep the status quo in place and not call it anything other than a Ponzi scheme. It is. … [T]hat’s provocative language — maybe it’s time to have some provocative language in this country.

It’s a political choice, of course, but what it means is that either he is Dumb or he thinks we are Dumb.  Either way, he is wrong and frankly, saying such a thing is not only a lie, it’s a damn dirty lie and the type of thing that only a world-class Asshole would say with a straight face.  Because Social Security, though flawed, works.  It does what it is supposed to do.

But the Dumb hate that because it ruins their whole “government is the problem” vibe.

Yes, it is a system in which the payments are used to help beneficiaries other than the people paying, giving it a structure that from 30,000 feet looks remarkably similar to a ponzi scheme, but that does not make it a ponzi scheme.  The difference is in things like transparency, the lack of someone stealing the profits, the continuing mechanism of taxes to provide benefits, and most importantly, it is not criminal and it is not a fraud.

But despite the fact that a simple google search will reveal the difference – and a Factcheck piece that also points it out (and uses reality to debunk the idea that Social Security will simply disappear anytime soon), many on the right have tried to seize on this like the “death tax” and have started repeating it on Facebook.

After all, as Reagan said, “facts are stupid things.”

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it wasn’t gamesmanship, it was a matter of great national business

by lestro

We can keep telling ourselves that all we want, but once again, John Boehner pulled one over on President Obama and Obama rolled right the fuck over for it without even asking why…

There was in fact one roll call vote Wednesday night: “Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.”

Well thank fucking christ we put off a talk by the President of the United States on the single most important topic facing the nation right now so that we could make sure that the Special Olympics torchrun can go on.  That must be something they had to pass immediately, right?  So important it couldn’t wait.  It has to be, like this weekend, right?

Quick!  To the bill summary!

Authorizes the use of the Capitol grounds for the 26th Annual District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run on September 30, 2011.

Hm.  That, uh, doesn’t seem all that important.  Perhaps there was something more that prevented the House from having the leader of the free world in to talk about the nation’s struggling economy and what to do about it…

The House did do a little more business than give its nod to the torch run (which will begin from the west terrace of the Capitol and continue along the grounds). Members discussed trade and unemployment and gave hearty congratulations to the girls all-stars team from North Carolina, which has made the Little League World Series. The House met at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and adjourned at 9:36 p.m.

Oh.  Then I suppose the President of the United States can wait…

Language is Important

by lestro

You’d think the guy who as a candidate ran such a successful media campaign based around the words ‘change’ and ‘hope’ would recognize the importance of language and phrasing, but sometimes I wonder about this guy.

For example, I am reading over the text of the president’s labor day speech from yesterday and this jumped out at me:

And everywhere I went while I was running for this office, I met folks who felt their economic security slipping away, men and women who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat.  And that was even before the economic crisis hit, and that just made things even harder.

The problem is not that it isn’t true, the problem is that it makes it sound as though the ‘economic crisis’ hit on his watch, when the FACT is that it did not.

By telling people that when he was a candidate times were hard, but that’s nothing compared to what happened since, he is essentially telling people “no, you are not better off than you were when I was elected.”

and that is NO way to keep the White House.

I mean, I agree with much of what he said – and a lot of it is good, important stuff – but if I were him, I would still be constantly reminding people that he is still trying to clean up someone else’s mess, instead of essentially telling them – reminding them “yeah, it’s only gotten worse since you gave me the keys…”

The public generally still blames the Republicans – especially President Bush – for the current mess, yet the Republicans are still pushing the exact same plans that got us into this mess as the solutions to get us out.

That’s Dumb.

But what’s even Dumber is that the president doesn’t seem to be trying to counter them by saying things like “and that was before we recognized the depth of economic troubles were were in” or “when I started running for office I met people who felt security slipping away, and by the time I took office, things were even harder thanks to the economic policies of the right wing…”

I mean give me something here, Mr. President.  Don’t just roll over and take it.

It’s like the president has Stockholm Syndrome or something.

maybe someday we’ll elect a democrat

by lestro

We did?  Who?

Certainly you can’t mean President Obama:

President Obama abruptly pulled back proposed new national smog standards Friday morning, overruling the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to compel states and communities nationwide to reduce local air pollution in the coming years or face federal penalties.

The move represented a win for the business community, which had lobbied to postpone new restrictions on ground-level ozone — known as smog — until 2013 in light of the economic downturn. It also raised questions about the fate of several other air quality regulations the EPA is preparing to finalize this year.

Well there has to be a good reason, right?  Surely it can’t be that same old bullshit about how investing in the environment has to wait for financial reasons, especially at a time when corporate profits are literally at record highs, right? Let’s go right to the source, the White House press release:

At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.

goddammit.

Ozone, for the record, is a greenhouse gas (which means that even if you don’t believe in such things it traps heat in atmosphere, warming the planet) that is the principal component in smog formation. It harms lungs, causes respiratory distress and is linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature death.

And how can you be sure this is a terrible, terrible move?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) identified several of these regulations as targets for a regulatory rollback the House will vote on this month, and House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel hailed Obama’s decision Friday as “a good first step.”

“If you’re serious about a jobs agenda, the last thing you want to be doing is adding tens of billions of dollars in costs every year,” said Upton, who added that under stricter smog standards communities in his district and across the nation “will lose these jobs, and they will never come back.”

But maybe I am overreacting.  I admit, it happens.  I am a hot head sometimes.  Maybe I am seeing this wrong.

“Obama utterly caved,” said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity, an advocacy group.

Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said, “It’s unfortunate that the administration is siding with big oil over the health of children, seniors, and the infirm.”

Nope, I’m dead on.  So let’s be very clear, this is the Democratic president once again choosing business interests over people.

According to the EPA, depending on what standard it adopted, the compliance costs for industry could range from $19 billion to $90 billion a year by 2020. The tougher standard would yield health benefits worth $13 billion to $100 billion, the agency said.

Did you catch that?  The health benefits would save us more money than this would cost industry (which, again, is seeing record profits again this year).

Now let’s take a look at the 2008 Democratic Platform, the one that got Obama elected with a huge majority and gave him supermajorities in both houses of Congress:

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an inauspicious start

by lestro

The three-day Labor Day weekend is here again (thank you, Liberals), with its annual reminder of the last gasp at summer with its barbecues and parades and even a free day off for those of us who have spent the best months of the year trapped in windowless rooms.

But along with signifying the end of summer, Labor Day weekend traditionally signifies the beginning of the Political Season. It is the final, downhill push for candidates running in November’s general election and now that (the theory goes) people are back from the annual physical and mental break summer provides us, they are ready to pay attention again.

This year, as in 2007 and 2003, the Political Season also includes the final primary pushes as we head into January’s Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Also this year, the Political Season means a return to the ridiculous arguments and stalling tactics that have dominated the politics in this country since President Obama was elected and the opposition literally made their top priority not fixing the problems they caused, but instead doing everything they can to make Obama a one-term president, even if it means further tanking the economy and/or keeping the country in the ditch they so recklessly drove us into (to borrow one of the president’s metaphors that really is very apt).

The top issue? Once again, it’s the economy, stupid.

More specifically, it’s jobs. There don’t seem to be any. In fact, today’s jobs report shows the US job market absolutely stagnating. They say it is the worst showing in nearly a year.

And “seem” is, in fact, the right word.

When you look past the headline, once again the private sector added jobs, just not enough to counteract the public sector jobs that had to be cut, due to the cuts-only method of budgeting demanded by one party (which happens to be a party that ran up this ridiculous debt situation with two unfunded wars, giant tax cuts for the wealthy that did exactly the opposite of what they promised they would do, and the largest unfunded government program expansion in history). The results were also a bit skewed by 45,000 workers on strike when the count was done; workers that are technically employed, but not on that day, which took an additional 45,000 jobs off the books, inflating the jobless numbers for August…

But let’s be very clear about this: The Republican party is directly responsible for those 20,000 or so government employees being out work. They are literally increasing the unemployment rate and slashing services even as they do everything they can to force more people onto the state’s dole. This is their plan: keep slashing government at a faster rate than the economy can add jobs, which makes it look as though the President is failing.

It’s genius because, of course, the President gets the blame because no one pays attention to anything except the headline.

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Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

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