Posts Tagged ‘Democrats’

Wisconsin

February 18, 2011

The Republican governor of Wisconsin is trying to push through legislation which would strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights. You’ve probably heard about this by now.

In response, thousands of protesters have filled the streets of Madison. Here are some of them:

Good times. Anyway, Glenn Beck weighed in on the subject and did that random association thing he does. According to Beck, the Wisconsin public unions are collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood because Midwest teachers, police officers, and other public servants have a lot in common with the Muslim Brotherhood, a group which (unfortunately for Beck’s conspiracy mongering) has only 15% public approval in Egypt.

Here’s how it works: See, in Egypt, they had demonstrations protesting against what the government is doing. And now in Wisconsin, you’ve got demonstrators  protesting against what the government is doing. Obviously the two groups must be in cahoots! For some reason, Beck doesn’t use this kind of brilliant analysis to compare protesting teabaggers with protesting Muslim extremists, even though they share much of the same ideology.

At this point, the only thing stopping Glenn Beck from being as much of a loon as Alex Jones is his refusal to get involved with 9/11 troofer bullshit.

Governor Walker claimed he needed to try to bust up public unions because of budget problems. We’re broke and the sky is falling so we need to cut benefits from skilled workers. It’s just how it’s got to be, because of the BUDGET. Ah, if only if weren’t for that budget, everyone who works for a living would get a retirement and decent health care and stuff like that. In fact there’s even a number associated with the budget problem. They are $137 million in debt. But then some people started investigating why there’s so much of a budget problem in Wisconsin. From One Wisconsin Now:

Republican Gov. Scott Walker plans to pay for $140 million in new special interest spending signed into law in January by extending the state’s long term debt in a “scoop and toss” refinancing scheme that will cost untold tens of millions of dollars in additional debt for Wisconsin.

In other words, the only reason they’re in so much debt is because now Walker has to pay off the corporations which helped him get elected. In order to do that, he has to redistribute the wealth from the working poor and the middle class to his extremely rich contributors. Apparently you only get to call it socialism or communism when you’re redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor. When it’s the other way around – as it is in this case- it’s an “emergency budget measure” or some other such nonsense. Got that? Giving money to the poor = communism. Giving money to the rich = tough-minded pragmatism. That’s how conservatives think. Seriously.

Yesterday, in an attempt to delay or kill the proposed bill, Democratic state senators fled the state so that less than the necessary 3/5 wouldn’t be in attendance. Reporters tracked some of them down to a Best Western in Rockford, IL. Wonkette points out that that hotel has an awesome water park and a pub, so that makes it a win-win for the state senators who made it there.

Probably will have more on this later as it develops.

Obama pals around with William Daley

January 10, 2011

Obama's Chief of Staff's friends pal around with terrorists

Last week Barack Obama announced that William M. Daley would be replacing Rahm Emmanuel as the White House Chief of Staff. And yeah, that would be the brother of current Chciago mayor Richard M Daley. Their father was Richard J Daley, who was also a mayor of Chicago.

The older (dead, actually) Richard Daley was mayor of Chicago from 1955 until 1976. Right in the middle of his tenure in office was the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which attracted lots and lots of anti-war protesters, whom in turn attracted lots and lots of police officers who then proceeded to beat up and throw tear gas at the demonstrators. Punching Dan Rather in the stomach was also a popular pastime at the convention.

A year later, also in Chicago, was the Days of Rage direct action demonstrations led by the Weatherman Organization where young people smashed windows, trashed fancy cars, and crippled one of Daley’s corporation counsels. And one of the people who led the riots in Chicago was BILL AYERS.

ATTENTION REPUBLCIANS: This is yet another connection between the Obama White House and Bill Ayers! I mean, sure, maybe it just shows that Obama is on the opposite side of 1960s radicals since he’s now appointing one of their main targets to a high government position. But whatever! It’s another name to add to the blackboard, right?

I’m going to take the President’s lunch money

December 9, 2010

Shoot the hostage

OK I’m going to kind of sort of agree with someone on Fox “News” here. So, you know, be warned.

The backstory here is that Obama pretty much caved completely to Republicans’ demands of extending Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, instead of just extending them to those making under something like $250,000 per year as Obama claimed he wanted. In a press conference, Obama framed this as if it were a deal made where Republicans conceded things, even though the “concessions” – extending unemployment benefits, for example – were things Republicans always eventually concede on without any real dealmaking necessary.

It’s not like Obama made a deal for the DREAM Act or START Treaty. He just voluntarily gave away all of his bargaining power for nothing, because that is how he rolls. It’s the same unilateral disarmament strategy he used for health insurance reform and the stimulus bill and pretty much everything else the administration has managed to kind of sort of halfway do the past 2 years. And now he’s held a press conference trying to defend his strategy to his critics, and that’s where things get interesting.

Media Matters has this video of James Rosen, Fox’s Washington correspondent on the Bill O’Reilly Happy Funtime Hour. At the end of the two minute clip, he says that Obama’s claim that his willingness to appease the Republicans stems from the danger Republicans put the country in by refusing to pass anything until they get tax cuts for the rich has national security implications. Obama made the comparison to a hostage situation where the Republicans were the hostage takers, their demands were tax cuts for the rich, and the hostages were the country as a whole.

So the national security implications Rosen’s referring to here is that Obama will apparently do whatever anyone wants as long as he perceives them as threatening the country. Another way of looking at this situation is that anyone can get the President of the United States to sign on to anything – even something he’s come out clearly against – simply by threatening the country, or even simply by making him believe they are doing so.

As a Murdoch employee, Rosen wants this to come off as frightening to people who are very afraid of terrorists (in which case I think he might not be thinking it through very well. After all, what does that say about the Republicans demanding the tax cuts? That they’re like terrorists?), but there’s no reason the problem he raises should be limited just to Muslim extremists and Republicans. Progressives could also exploit this vulnerability of the administration too. Maybe we should start doing that sometime instead of leaving it to the Republicans to do it first.

Republicans are more anti-gay than we’re anti-war

September 23, 2010

Back when opposition to the Iraq war started to gain steam, activists tried to pressure like-minded members of Congress to put an end to the whole thing by cutting off funding by voting against the annual Defense Authorization Act. Here’s how it would normally go:

Activists: Hey! Why are you voting for funding the war if you’re against it?

Politician: Well, even if we were to end the war we’d still need to fund a withdrawal. So it doesn’t make any sense to vote against defense funding if your goal is to stop the war.

Activists: *Grumble*

But now Republicans blocked the same Defense Authorization Act in order to delay the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. So when the politicians which the anti-war activists went after told us that it was political suicide to block defense spending in order to shape military policy, they were telling us a lie.

Alvin Greene updates!

September 2, 2010

We all know that the Democratic nominee for US Senate from South Carolina Alvin Greene is a lover of music. But can he dance?

Oh yes. Yes, he can.

It’s not on the YouTube, but the radio deejay claims that Greene dances like “a white guy at a wedding.” This is a totally unfair judgment. It’s almost as unfair as when the South Carolina judicial system unfairly indicted him of obscenity, which then made Greene howl and wail at reporters like a werewolf which was just shot with a silver bullet.

And about a week ago, Greene was doing some politicking at Jimmy’s Restaurant in Seneca, SC. He had been dis-invited to a speaking engagement there due to his recent legal problems, but Greene was all like Fuck that, I’m going anyway. And he brought his crew along with him, one of whom is called Dottie Sue Maggart-Feldman.

Dottie Sue apparently thought that the county party chairwoman was “out to get her,” and then shit got real. The conflict escalated, and in the end the police had to ask candidate Greene to please leave the restaurant.

My theory is that now that Greene knows that the political establishment is out to get him and is willing to press false charges against him, all bets are now off. Blood will be shed. Restaurants will be disrupted. And he’s got someone named Dottie Sue on his side.

It’s the “end” of the Iraq war

August 31, 2010

The President is delivering a speech later today to announce the supposed end of the Iraq war. But as far as I’ve gathered, there isn’t even a substantial change in our foreign policy inre: Iraq today. Or even yesterday, or the day before. There was an announcement made by MSNBC a week and a half ago where the last full US combat brigade left Iraq.

So if you break that down, that would mean that brigades which are only partially for combat would not necessarily have left. And then you still have the “non-combat troops” tasked with completing the training of the Iraqi police and military. And for each one of those “non-combat troops,” there are two private contractors and/or mercenaries whom are not really affected by this pseudo-deadline except to the extent that their job is dependent on the presence of “full US combat brigades.” It’s not so much the qualitative change those of us who have been against the war were hoping for as much as it’s a quantitative reduction of an ongoing military occupation.

And seriously, I don’t buy this whole idea of “non-combat troops.” There have been a lot of military officials making a big deal of how the remaining troops won’t be doing any fighting. But I haven’t yet heard a journalist ask any of them what these “non-combat troops” are to do in response to an attack by insurgents. I would think they would, well, combat the people shooting at them. Right? Either they would combat them, in which case they can’t be said to be “non-combat;” or they wouldn’t, which is just absurd.

It could be that by “not fighting,” these military officials mean that troops aren’t actively seeking out insurgents and so the chances of something like this happening are greatly reduced. That would be a fair point, but the whole nature of this war from its beginning has blurred the line between what used to be seen as illegal war actions and legitimate defense. We were told that our military involvement in the Middle East is a “preemptive defense,” a way to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.” And so the supporters of the war would object to terms like “invasion” and “occupation” on the grounds that the whole thing was, at its core, a form of defense.

It’s not like any of that matters to Iraqis though. None of the families of casualties from this point on are going to be consoled by the fact that their loved ones were killed by a stray bullet fired by “non-combat troops” post August 2010 when they would have been outraged if they were killed by a specifically-designated combat troop in 2003 through the present. This kind of distinction really matters to the audience of the occupation moreso than those actually involved in it.

The same defense of the war in 2003 can now be applied on a smaller scale to the prolonged quasi-withdrawal of 2010-whenever.And at the same time the Democrats can hope to capitalize in the mid-term elections on their “end” of the war. In the end, this is more about the superficial talking points than any substantial change in the real situation.

Anthony Weiner gets real mad

August 4, 2010

There was a vote in Congress the other day on reimbursing health care expenses for those who volunteered in the clean-up effort on September 11, 2001. Republicans unsurprisingly tried to block it, citing something they didn’t like about the precise procedure used so as to not appear to be blocking aid for people who obviously deserve it – people who, as it turns out, Republicans love to hide behind whenever they get a chance to use them for their own political gain.

It seems like a pretty sneaky move. On the one hand, they have a political motive to stop the Democrat-led House from passing a bill almost any American would agree with. But on the other hand, they would have to do so in such a way that would not make them appear to be against the volunteer clean-up workers, even though they are.

Well Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who’s represented parts of Brooklyn and Queens since 1999, was NOT having any of that. And then he turned into Al Pacino. Check it out:

Anwar al-Awlaki

April 24, 2010

UPDATE: The Department of Justice is now considering filing charges against al-Awlaki.

Anwar al-Awlaki is an American citizen thought to be living in Yemen who makes videos praising al Qaeda. He’s also had an e-mail exchange with Nidal Malik Hasan at some point before his shooting spree at Fort Hood last November.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration authorized the targetted killing of al-Awlaki. From the NY Times:

The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

There are a few problems with this, and they’re really split into two categories. On the one hand you can argue that this sets bad precedent and gives too much power to the executive branch. It’s a denial of due process even more extreme than anything the Bush administration ever did. Even if you’re in agreement with Obama on this one, there’s still the danger of future presidents abusing their power by following this precedent. These are the kinds of loftier arguments based on the principle of the rule of law which has been the foundation of western civilization.

There’s some good evidence against al-Awlaki, and it’s very unlikely that he’d be found not guilty. But the whole point of having a legal system in the first place is to find out whether or not someone is guilty of a crime. If the evidence holds up, then we can honestly say that we’ve tried our best to do justice while he’s rotting away locked up in a cell somewhere. If the evidence doesn’t hold up, then we find out that we were wrong. You win either way when you use the law instead of circumventing it.

It might even be that al-Awlaki is not even guilty of the crimes he’s accused of. Although Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent says “Any court would find him guilty of incitement” just due to his videos, other charges relating to direct involvement in terrorist activities aren’t quite so solid. From that noted commie rag which, upon investigating after 9/11 “Why They Hate Us,” discovered that the answer was because we’re SO AWESOME; Newsweek:

To begin with, it is not even known for certain that Awlaki is a member of Al Qaeda. Certainly there are suspicions, and his published statements and interviews clearly support Al Qaeda, but the organization has never acknowledged him. His name has been mentioned exactly once in 12 issues of Sada al-Malahim (“The Echo of Battles”), the organization’s bimonthly journal. And even that citation was hardly an endorsement: it merely disputed recent claims that Awlaki had been killed in a joint U.S.-Yemeni airstrike. He has never written an article, released an audiotape, or starred in a video for the organization. Each of these is an integral part of the group’s propaganda outreach that senior AQAP leaders have done multiple times.

What’s more, there is no evidence to suggest Awlaki is on AQAP’s legal council, an internal group that both provides the religious justification for attacks and guides the future direction of the organization. Nor is there even a hint that he plays anything resembling a leading role in the group.

Even his links to the two attacks are more speculative and assumed than concrete. Awlaki is known to have exchanged e-mails with Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter (he confirmed as much to Al-Jazeera), and to being in contact with Abdulmutallab, whom he called his “student.” (Abdulmutallab is thought to have attended one of Awlaki’s sermons in London.) But he never acknowledged meeting either man.

Newsweek then goes into some of the reasons to oppose this based on the second category I referred to earlier. Even if you don’t buy into the idea that the President should not be above the law and that due process is important, there’s still no good reason to just kill this guy. If he’s guilty of some of the heavier terrorism charges, he’d be an excellent source of information. It’s tough to get intelligence from a corpse.

And what’s more is that the perceived positive effects of such an assassination are pretty unlikely to actually happen. It’s not going to destabilize al Qaeda. If anything it’d give them a martyr and a recruiting mantra. They’re all pretty much as batshit crazy as it’s possible to get, but when they say that Americans don’t care about justice we’re giving them an air of legitimacy on that matter when we do crap like this.

Similar:

Obama’s science budget changes

February 2, 2010

Wired Magazine has this chart to show how Obama’s proposed small increases in investing in science will be divied up amongst government agencies.

So the NIH is a big winner here, which is probably due to Francis Collins‘ prayers to the frozen waterfall. But the CDC is being cut, which will make it much more difficult to use the nanobot-filled vaccines to enslave us all. NASA is getting a bit more, but that comes at the expense of cutting the Constellation moon project.

But it should be noted that these are all just proposed changes, not final in any way. So in true Democratic Party fashion, I’m sure they’ll cave to demands that it be cut over and over until all of these agencies end up owing money to Freedom Works and James O’Keefe is put in charge of NIST.

Why there will be no real health care reform

December 15, 2009

Taibbi wrote recently about “Obamania” and made some good points, referencing another great post by Glenn Greenwald (Yes, I realize this is a blog post about a blog post by someone else which was in turn about a blog post by someone else. It’s very meta).

Basically, you have people like President Lieberman (I-CT) and President Snowe (R-ME) saying that they won’t vote for the bill unless it’s stripped of anything vaguely resembling real reform, like a public option or a Medicare buy-in. But there’s almost no counterpart to that kind of pressure coming from the left, except for possibly Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

So if the goal of the Obama administration and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership is to simply pass any legislation which they can label as “health care reform” regardless of how neutered it may be – and that seems to be the case – then they have no incentive to cater to progressives who are actually representing the interests of the majority of Americans.  There are no votes in Congress to be lost on that end. There are only votes to be lost on the far right.

Guys named Al

October 25, 2009

Here are some political videos from last week of guys named Al getting all up in the right wing’s grill on ACORN and health care costs.

Here is Al Franken going after someone from the Hudson Institute:

And here’s Allan Grayson raising some questions about the de-funding of ACORN. It starts out a little boring, but he gets all WHAT DOES MARCELLUS WALLACE LOOK LIKE? towards the end.

Health care reform

September 30, 2009

There are a couple of aspects of health care reform I don’t think I’ve heard much about in the ongoing debate. Actually there are probably a lot more than just a couple, but two in particular I just wanted to briefly mention.

One would be the words “signing statement.” Remember those laws passed by Congress during the Bush administration which did things like restrict things like warantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition, and then Bush would sign it attached to a statement which clarified the legislation as being interpreted to mean the exact opposite of what it actually said? Bush set a record with the sheer number of those signing statements. It was big news for a while back then.

So I’m not saying that Obama should do that as a way to force in a viable public option. But has anyone even mentioned it? All I’m finding is that he claimed to want to weaken the executive power involved in signing statements, but then used exactly that power to weaken whistle-blower protection, among a few others. But nothing about health care reform in regards to signing statements.

The other issue is that if we actually do get a public option, viable or not, there is a danger that the “alternative medicine” industry will try to capitalize on that and get even more subsidies for their quackery than they already have. The Center for Inquiry has released a report (PDF) warning of the dangers of funding “alternative medicine” alternatives to medicine garbage.

On the one hand, lots of other government-funded scientific organizations successfully avoid woo in their studies. NASA doesn’t have to study astrology. The US Geological Survey doesn’t have to entertain flat Earth or expanding Earth “theories.” The American Institute of Physics doesn’t have to invest in alleged perpetual motion machines.

But on the other hand, the “alternative medicine” industry has something that flat Earthers and perpetual motion machine scammers and astrologers don’t – lots and lots of money and political influence. So there really needs to be some stipulation in whatever health care reform gets passed – if it even does – where methods of treatment will need to be tested and will need to pass those tests. And they’ll need to be double-blinded with proper controls. Anecdotes and testimonials can not be good enough.

Sure, people like Bill Maher and Jenny McCarthy and Kevin Trudeau will claim this is all part of a conspiracy to outlaw their useless “medicine,” but so what? Fuck them. There is real danger in allowing that into a government supported health care system. One is that obviously we’re going to be forced to pay for treatments that don’t work, and the other is that it will make true all the conservatives’ claims that government can’t run health care. Because in that case, they’ll be right.

Double Standards

September 8, 2009

Tom Tomorrow’s This Modern World webcomic has a pretty funny take on the difference between how the political minority has been treated differently in the not-so-distant past.

The rest of it is here.

State-Church separation win in Kentucky

September 2, 2009

American Atheists recently won a lawsuit against the state of Kentucky regarding certain language in some 2006 legislation which Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. At first, the judge was all like NUH-UH:

“The statute pronounces very plainly that current citizens of the Commonwealth cannot be safe, neither now, nor in the future, without the aid of Almighty God. Even assuming that most of this nation’s citizens have historically depended upon God, by choice, for their protection, this does not give the General Assembly the right to force citizens to do so now.”

Bad advice is bad.

Bad advice is bad.

And then the “Democratic” Party’s state Representative/”Christ is King Baptist Church” Pastor Tom Riner of Louisville, who originally inserted the language into the bill in 2006, was all like YEAH-HUH:

“They make the argument … that it has to do with a religion,” Riner said, “and promoting a religion. God is not a religion. God is God.”

It just kills me when believers talk about their particular religious position (which are always and inevitably an incredibly small minority amongst the rest) as if it were just a simple fact of life, like death and taxes. That’s the only way one could possibly justify thinking that talking about a deity is somehow “not religious.” It is as if Riner thinks the question of whether or not he’s right about God is just a settled matter, with no consideration for others whose ideas about a god might be slightly, or even very, different.

It’s not even about just pleasing us cranky, litigious atheists. Deists believe in God just as much as the fundamentalist Christians, but they would also object to the idea of God being something upon which we should depend. Even other Christians could object to that based on their own beliefs. If he wants to ignore objections others might raise to his theology, he’s going to have to keep that kind of approach in the pulpit and in his private life, and leave it behind in what is supposed to be the modern civilized world of government under our secular Constitution.

And I have to wonder, if this God is supposed to be so all-powerful, why would it even need to know that we’re depending on it? Is it keeping tabs on the Kentucky State Office of Homeland Security to make sure people are thinking of it? If people were so dependent, wouldn’t it just know that fact? This thing supposedly created the whole Universe, and it’s acting like an uber-insecure teenage girl, according to Riner. This kind of crap makes me feel bad on any deity’s behalf, if it turns out there really is one.

John McCain’s hypothetical foreign policy = Obama’s actual foreign policy

August 28, 2009

Transcript from This Week With George Stephanolokolopopuloukopopolous:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Would we be fighting these two wars any differently if you were president now?

MCCAIN: Not now, but it’s very obvious that, for at least three years, we conducted the war in Iraq in the wrong fashion. And we paid a very heavy price in American blood and treasure. And we developed a strategy that worked. That strategy is adopted to the different conditions in Afghanistan.

So in other words, here we have John McCain admitting to both his base and Obama’s, that his foreign policy in regards to Iraq and Afghanistan would have been identical to what Obama has done by escalating the war in Afghanistan while ever-so-gradually pulling out of Iraq.

And since Obama is actually following through on his campaign promises in these matters, this proves that any of the alleged differences in foreign policy during the campaign were simply manufactured – from the Obama supporters making a fuss over McCain’s 100 years in Iraq to McCain supporters hysterically claiming that Obama was going to dissolve the military or something retarded like that.