Lousy Housekeeper Paul Ryan Keeps Things Broken

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/ryan-scores-dual-wins-with-obamacare-repeal-vote/ar-AAgshBU?li=BBnb7Kz\

Paul Ryan is a lousy housekeeper. That’s to be expected from a man who grew up in a privileged household were the hired help were the housekeepers.  So it’s also to be expected that he’s not doing so good on two promises he made when he was elected Speaker of the House: to fix a”broken” House and the House would work to pass legislation that would raise incomes and help lift people up out of poverty.

“Ryan Scores Dual Wins With Obamacare Repeal Vote” says the headline of the linked article. This shows how insulated D.C. beltway pundits are from what is actually happening in America. Ryan gained no victories with anyone other than Republicans who want Obamacare repealed and Planned Parenthood defunded. For the rest of us this is GOP-business-as-usual with yet another attempt at repealing Obamacare. With a Democrat-controlled Congress, neither of those bills pass their respective chambers of Congress.

These are not wins for Ryan or any Republican. These are yawns, as how boring, more of the same.  “’The good news is, with this reconciliation bill, there will finally be some clarity,’ Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) told the Washington Post Tuesday. ‘The president will very glibly veto it. But at least then it will be on him and everybody will know it.’”

And while you’re being so glib with your comment, Franks, that work so well with your constituents in Republican-controlled Arizona, get it through your thick skull that there are tens of millions more of Americans who not only approve but depend on Obamacare for their affordable healthcare plans.

OK, you’re asking “Who’s Trent Franks? THIS is Trent Franks: “In this country, we had slavery for God knows how long. And now we look back on it and we say “How brave were they? What was the matter with them? You know, I can’t believe, you know, four million slaves. This is incredible.” And we’re right, we’re right. We should look back on that with criticism. It is a crushing mark on America’s soul. And yet today, half of all black children are aborted. Half of all black children are aborted. Far more of the African American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery. And I think, What does it take to get us to wake up?” (from politicalcorrection.org 2/26/10 quoting from an interview Franks gave to Mark Starks of starksreport.com)

Let’s dispense with Frank’s insincere apology for slavery. His point was that unspecified policies of today are far more devastating to the African-American community than slavery ever was. This is the type of Republican who has repeatedly voted to overturn Obamacare. So with the backing of this kind of Congressman, exactly what was the victory for Ryan again?

The dual victory is all Obama’s. The first victory will be President Obama’s when he vetoes this worthless piece of partisan effluent.  The victory would be that much sweeter if Obama first looks at the bill with pen raised and with a smile quotes Ronald Reagan: “There you go again.”

The second victory for the president is, in this article’s own words, “the issue is likely now settled until after the election.”

After the election we hopefully will be looking at a much different Congress than the Republican-controlled one which insists on making life harder for tens of millions of financially struggling poor Americans and further victimizing low-income women in dire need of medical care—legal abortions and otherwise.

Home Grown And Home Grown By Marriage Terrorists

Last night I watched a CBS News reporter ask one of the law enforcement chiefs how the mother of a 6-month old child could have fired those weapons and killed all those people. How what kind of mother of a small child would allow her home to be turned into an arsenal, stockpiled with assault rifles, handguns, and thousands of rounds of ammo? What kind of mother of a small child would be making homemade bombs from materials kept in the home? In other words, how does Mom become a terrorist?

The answer is a woman who never wanted to be a mother and cares nothing about children.

The more I hear and read about that San Bernardino couple who shot up that holiday banquet party the more I’m convinced both the marriage and their 6-month-old baby were shams, a disguise to present themselves as an average, middle class family.

The wife, a Pakistani, had previously pledged her allegiance to ISIS. We don’t know when the male shooter, an American-born citizen, became a radicalized Islamist. My theory is he had both domestic and overseas contacts with ISIS or some other Islamic extremist sect. He was instructed to make contact with a particular woman posting on a specific dating site, fly over to Saudi Arabia and marry her, and bring her back to the states. They would have a baby just to complete the image as your average Muslim-American middle class family pursuing the American Dream.

The male shooter (notice I’m not giving names here?) was an American-born Muslim of Pakistani immigrants. He was beset by an identity crisis: feeling like he didn’t belong to either the Western culture or to the Eastern culture. This identity confusion is common among the type of Muslim who joins a violent, extremist group. This guy had been educated here. He was hired into a civil service job with a great salary and benefits. How badly had this guy been treated when he was growing up or was he just a spoiled brat who hated the country that had given him so much? His phony wife was working as a pharmacist and being paid well for it.

I can’t understand his hatred but I can understand hers–to a point. Go back as far as the 1940s and look at how our country’s presidents and the CIA subverted the governments and people of the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and almost everywhere else you could throw a dart at a global map.

For all I know she might have been just another of those  deluded young middle class Muslim women who find leaders of those extremist groups sexy and exciting. But I don’t know her history at all.

And I also wonder if this shooting was a planned terrorist attack or if the male shooter let his hatred of a Jewish co-worker get the best of him and decided on his own to make this holiday banquet his first “mission” in defiance of orders he’d received? I think he and his wife actually thought they could get away with it. Besides, from the amount of weapons, ammo, and pipe bombs stockpiled in the home, more such “missions” were obviously being planned either by those two or in conjunction with others. If that was the case, then we’re fortunate that the ego and self-centered thinking of that guy overrode what could be presumed as a series carefully-laid terrorist plots for even further mass murders.

Lastly, I am fuming at Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s “Institute For Legislative Action”, just a fancy name for the gun lobby arm of the NRA. He claims in his USA Today op-ed piece of…that the California gun control laws are all on President Obama’s wishlist and yet this tragedy STILL happened. Just goes to show that gun control isn’t the answer. Except that what Cox conveniently omits in his 2nd Amendment propaganda screed is that while the AR-15s and the Glock 9mm handguns were all bought legally by the male shooter, the AR-15s were illegally altered to make them fully automatic in order to enable them to continually fire the illegal high capacity clips (illegal in California but LEGAL in the NRA-owned states from which the male shooter ordered them online. The type of powerful ammo the shooter bought was also illegal in California but LEGAL was also illegal to order in the NRA-owned states from which the shooter purchased them online). So what Cox tried to cover up was that these gun laws, whether enacted or on Obama’s wish list, would be effective had they been standardized and enforced nationwide.

If people are searching for someone to blame for this latest mass shooting and killing, look up Chris Cox at the NRA or find him on social media networks and tell him what you think about his op-ed thing if you like.

 

 

2014 Midterm Elections: Where Do We Go From Here? It Doesn’t Look Good

Like many other Democrats, I was angered by the GOP’s near-sweep of national and state races. There were pockets of Democratic victories but by and large the United States will be much redder starting January 2015.

I said I was angered, but I wasn’t surprised. In fact, none of us should have been surprised. All the signs were there and this GOP victory had been predicted months in advance. Besides, this has been years in the making. Young Republican college students like Grover Norquist hooked up with the Koch Brothers back in the 70s and formulated the basics of this plan, revising and expanding it over the years. The Kochs had enough money and enough time to take the long view for achieving their goal of total dominance over the American political system. And, based on last Tuesday’s elections, it looks like the plan is working. Karl Rove has been quoted as saying his plan to lead and to keep the GOP in political dominance extends to 2020, which happens to be the year in which it is predicted that Hispanics will make up the majority of the populace in Texas and perhaps in other areas.

Look at what Koch and other wealthy right wing powerhouses have wrought: they virtually control the corporate media, they control the US Supreme Court, many state governments, most of the US District and Courts of Appeal, and now Congress. Under normal conditions, I would agree with some liberal columnists who claim that with the GOP in control of Congress, they will fail dismally as they always do, angering voters to the point where the pendulum will again swing leftward in 2016.

I’m not so sure that prediction will be borne out this time. As I said, for the first time people like the Kochs now control almost all political, legislative, judicial processes and the media in this country. So, they not only control what their minions see, hear, and read, I believe they just about control the election process as well which has given them control of everything else that I’ve mentioned.

This didn’t happen in a vacuum. Check the voting records of many Democrats over the years. How do you think the five Koch employees on the US Supreme Court were appointed? And all of the right wing judges in the US District Court and Court of Appeals systems? I don’t remember any Democratic filibusters against any of these nominations. The Democrats also supported all the takeovers and mergers which allowed just a few media companies to monopolize control of all communications in this country.

The Democrats have proven to be wimps, unorganized without the capability of creating and instituting a Liberal plan along the lines of the GOP plan which would wrest control of the political, legislative and judicial processes from the hands of the Kochs, et al. A successful, 50-state plan was created and managed by ex-Gov. Howard Dean after he became the Democratic National Committee chair in 2005. In return for this great plan and his successful fundraising work has been totally snubbed and discarded by the Obama administration and by the DNC. Under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC has mismanaged Democratic campaigns and getting the Democratic message out to voters to such an extent that we now have a Republican-controlled Congress in fact. Since 2010, the GOP has had de facto control of Congress.

President Obama deserves his fair share of blame for the right wing takeover of corporate media. He has been no different from his Republican (and some Democratic) predecessors in appointing industry hacks to run and sit on the board of the FCC. The most egregious example of this is current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Consequently, control of printed, broadcast, and telecast media along with cable systems are concentrated in very few but extremely powerful corporate hands, all of them run by CEOs and boards who lean very far to the Right. As I write this, the FCC is poised to introduce a proposal that ignores the will of 3.7 million protestors as it will virtually eliminate net neutrality, placing the internet under the control of those same very few but extremely powerful corporate hands. And there’s not one thing any of us can do about it. If the President ignores our protests, and the new Congress will certainly ignore them, what peaceful options are left to us?

So, in 2016 we will be entering a media and political environment totally hostile to Liberal and Democratic politics. The one and only goal of people like the Kochs will be to embed in cement GOP and right wing control of virtually all aspects of life in this country for their own personal political and financial enrichment. Expect more voter ID laws to pass in states controlled by the GOP since SCOTUS has placed its imprimatur on it; more GOP gerrymandering of state and congressional voting districts, and more control of the voting and vote counting processes. And, of course, SCOTUS effectively gave control of political campaign contributions to the GOP via Citizens United.

This is why I believe that approval of Congress could sink to 0% by 2016 and almost all Republican incumbents along with Republican challengers will still be elected. Maybe I’m being overly pessimistic and paranoid here, but the creeping grasp of the GOP hand over most of everything that happens in this country. What’s the answer? That’s for Liberals and Democrats to organize and figure out. The answer might be a totally new coalition of voters disgusted with both Democratic and Republican parties. That could result in candidates and voters in large enough numbers to offset the GOP control of our elective process. Or maybe not.

The Bizarro World Of The Ultra-Farleftys

I’m a farlefty. My blog name validates this or it wouldn’t be called Farlefty. My world is ruled by logic, common sense, and deductive reasoning and opinions based on research. Then there’s the world of the ultra-farleftys in which President Obama is lying about ISIS/ISIL and the threat they pose to our American way of life. They claim he just wants to phony up a war in Iraq just like the Bush administration did. They also claim we are being lied to about the threat ISIS/ISIL poses to Syria along with the threat Assad poses to his own Syrian people. These people claim the puppet masters behind the marionette show which is Congress, SCOTUS, and the White House are hungry for more oil fields and the plentiful natural resources laying around all over the place in the Middle East and that’s what’s really going on. Well, I agree with that up to a point—especially about most of Congress and the five Koch Brothers employees on SCOTUS being puppets.

But here’s the problem as I see it with the overwhelming paranoia on the Far Left: If Obama is just as much of a liar as George W. Bush was, then this country is already lost to the likes of the Koch Brothers. It’s game over, folks; there’s no Blue and there’s no Red, just Purple. If this is to be believed, then there’s not a thing we can do about it because the game is rigged and no matter who you believe or who you vote for, you’re wrong. I believe Obama to be a basically good man of good intentions for this country, but it’s undeniable that for most of his presidency he’s been in the pockets of the likes of Goldman Sachs (look at how many people from GS he chose to fill White House and Federal Reserve Bank positions) and the banksters (Jaime Dimon being his good buddy). But given all this, Obama did sign into law bills that have helped—for the most part—consumers and homeowners.

These same ultra-farleftys also think Vladimir Putin is an innocent victim of worldwide disinformation intended to frame him as a despot intent on returning the Ukraine piece back to the jigsaw puzzle that was the Soviet Union. They claim that it’s Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine, who’s the real villain, trying to gain the world’s sympathy by falsely claiming Russian nationalists and operatives had invaded Ukraine and started shooting wars to capture and control the southeastern region of the country. Ultra-farleftys also point to interviews and articles on Russia Today (where else) that claim it was Ukraine that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 near Donetsk in the that the ensuing global outrage would result in a world war against Russia.

The world of the ultra-farleftys is like the Bizarro world in the Superman comics. The good guys are the bad guys and the bad guys good. Everything you know is wrong, which is true up to a point. I think that intelligent people who are also congenitally insightful are intuitive enough to discern truth from fiction, lies, and propaganda. When you read a book by Paul Krugman, you just know he is truthfully and accurately relating what went wrong with the financial system in this country and how to fix it. When you read books by Bill O’Reilly or Ann Coulter, you know they’re lying pieces of shit.

Ultra-farleftys may be intelligent folk—many of them seem to be—and some may well be well-meaning but unknowing purveyors of disinformation while others are in on the scam. I don’t know. But what I do know is that people on the far left can go so far to the left, and people on the far right can go so far to the right that both groups meet in the middle. It’s one thing to be faced on both sides with lunacy, but to be surrounded by it creates a vacuum empty of knowledge and truth. Nature abhors a vacuum but tyranny loves it.

Two Balls On Obama But He’s In Danger Of Striking Out

Obama is again making the same mistake he’s made for almost five years now, and his 42% approval rating shows it. He keeps allowing the GOP frame the debate. Or to use a baseball analogy, the GOP keeps throwing fastballs at him: Obamacare, Benghazi, the VA, Iraq, and he keeps fouling them off or doesn’t even get the bat off his shoulder. He hit a grand slam with the killing of bin Laden but didn’t even hit it out of the infield with the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatallah.

Once again, Obama has got to take the field and start throwing fastballs of his own. Where is the GOP most vulnerable? Where are the jobs? Yes, Obama introduced the American Jobs Act in 2011, which was killed off by both Harry Reid in the Senate and the Republicans in both chambers of Congress. He’s avoided introducing anything of substance because of the advice he continually gets from his brain trust: Don’t introduce anything that the Republicans can embarrass you with by killing it. If Obama doesn’t think the Republicans will go for it, he doesn’t make a move, outside of the occasional executive action which, frankly, doesn’t affect most of us. His brain trust also lives in terror of any bill that just might possibly or very definitely increase the budget deficit, because the voters want the deficit paid down, right? No, the average voter could care less about the deficit because it doesn’t affect them personally in the slightest. The average voter is trying to just make it through the day, hoping to keep their job or to find a new one. They see that government services have been cut back, their kids’ schools are overcrowded and the students underperforming. They’re seeing food and gasoline prices rise while their income remains stuck where it’s been for the past 3 years of so. The last thing they care about is Obama paying down the debt.

So, what should he do? Around the beginning of this year he and Harry Reid were swinging some big balls around but since then there’s been some significant shrinkage and the GOP is keeping a close eye on that shrinkage. Obama needs to regrow a pair and submit a far-reaching, effective, and expensive federal jobs creation plan, and then dare the Republicans–in an election year with an unemployment rate that is still too high and an economy still not improving. Of course, the Republicans are responsible for this, but apparently the voters who respond to those approval polls don’t see it that way. They’re tarring Obama with the same low approval ratings brush that they’re also smearing on Congress in general and on the GOP in particular.

Sure, introducing a jobs bill now would make Obama subject to the same Fox and GOP “trying to change the subject” charges they throw at everything he tries to do. So what? If Obama made this bold move and sold it to the American people like it was part of his 2008 presidential campaign platform, that would be a fastball he could blow by the Republicans. What Obama needs to do is watch two movies: “The American President” and “Dave”. OK, he’s no Michael Douglas or Kevin Kline but the point is with those two characters we WISHED they had both been president. The closest we get in real life is Bill Clinton making a speech.

What do the Republicans excel at? Getting the entire party and their surrogates unified behind the same talking points which they spew 24/7 everywhere their voter base turns, watches, listens, or (in a few cases) reads. One of the Achilles Heels of the Obama administration is that his staff, the Democratic Party, and their surrogates continually let their talking points assault drop. Where is Democratic Senator after Senator or Congressperson after Congressperson giving press conferences and interviews? OK, we know in advance Fox won’t cover any of it but what about CNN, MSNBC, PBS, NPR, the three who-used-to-be major networks? If PBS or NPR news editor refuses to give the same coverage they give the Republicans, the Democrats are also fully capable of voting to pull public broadcasting funding, too. And lastly, why the hell is Obama appointing communications industry lobbyists to the FCC instead of professionals who have the public’s interests and rights at heart? Reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and that would do much to level the playing field.

I don’t see Obama as a master chess player; I see him as a guy who realized his dream but constantly fears it might be taken away from him, even though it can’t except by impeachment and conviction. I see him hemmed in by advisers who advise him on what he can and can’t do—and better not do if he knows what’s good for him politically. I think the GOP recognized this in him way before I did, and that has been the tale of his presidency. In his first term he chose to bend with the GOP wind (negotiate) and it almost broke him and it seriously wounded the Democratic Party in 2010.

Obama’s got two balls on him. He needs to use those balls to start throwing strikes.

Sometimes Democrats and Republicans ARE The Same

Reading Paul Krugman’s “End This Depression Now!” He makes it quite clear that the whole income inequality and the 2008 financial meltdown was a bipartisan accomplishment. To keep this short, I’ll give a timeline mentioning just the players and the legislation responsible and you can Google them for more information.

1980: Congress passes and Carter signs into law the Monetary Control Act of 1980 which deregulated and opened up many more kinds of deposits that banks could now pay interest on.

1982: Congress passes and Reagan signs into law the Garn–St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 which relaxed restrictions on the kinds of loans banks could make.

1998: Citicorp merges with Travelers Group to attain both Smith Barney and Shearson Lehman and form Citigroup. The problem was that at that time Glass-Steagall prevented commercial banks from engaging in either insurance or investment banking. Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill pays a visit to and makes sure large contributions are paid to Texas Senator Phil Gramm. The result:

1999: Congress passes and Clinton signs into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which retroactively authorizes the Citi-Travelers merger. Oh, the key White House figure supporting the bill? Clinton’s Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Gramm left the Senate and joined the board of directors of UBS. Rubin was a former co-chairman of Goldman Sachs and after leaving the Clinton White House became vice chairman of…Citigroup.

Also in 1998: Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers testifies before Congress that regulating derivatives would be a bad idea and so the issue is tabled. He later endorses the the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999. (In 2009, Summers admits he was wrong about everything. Better late than never? Tell that to all the people worldwide who lost homes, jobs, savings, retirement accounts, lives–everything–before Summers in essence said “Oops.”)

My contributions outside of the book:

2001: Along with the British, Dubya starts a war in Afghanistan. The costs for the war is kept off the federal budget.

2001: Congress passes and Dubya signs into law the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.

2003: Dubya invades Iraq. The costs for the war are kept off the federal budget.

2003: Congress passes and Dubya signs into law Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.

2009: Congress passes and Obama signs into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It authorizes a stimulus payment of what grew to be $831 billion. Economic adviser Christina Romer insisted that the minimum stimulus needed to jump start the economy was $1.8 billion, and she was later proven right although she was gone from the White House by that time. Who overruled her, insisting on the lower stimulus package? Our old friend (and Bill Clinton’s), Larry Summers, along with Peter R. Orszag, yet another ex-Clinton economic adviser who headed the CBO under Obama. After leaving the Obama administration, Orszag took a job with…Citigroup.

So, as Krugman and I have shown, what led to the 2008 meltdown and which continues the basis and continued extension of income inequality (through all the deregulation because yes indeed, as the rich get richer the poor get poorer) has been a bipartisan affair. It is very true: when it comes to the economy, there is no difference between the two parties.