Tagged: Republican Party

Another corrupt politician goes up the river

Former Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), the Staten Islander best known for threatening on-camera to “break” a reporter “in half—like a boy,” has been sentenced by a federal judge to eight months in prison for tax evasion.

The sentencing, by US District Judge Pamela Chen, comes seven months after Grimm pleaded guilty to his role in filing a false tax return. Grimm had been indicted in April 2014 on 20 counts related to accounting practices at Healthalicious, a Manhattan restaurant he owned before his time in Congress. The restaurant’s co-owner, Bennett Orfaly, has previously been accused of having ties to a convicted Gambino family mobster.

Despite his indictment, last year, Grimm ran for reelection to his third term in Congress—and won. It was not until December 30—seven days after entering his guilty plea—that he announced his intentions to resign his seat.

Before Grimm was the target of an investigation by the FBI, he served for two decades as one of its agents. It was during this time that Grimm reportedly pulled a gun in a Queens nightclub, and, after a bouncer ejected him, stormed the nightclub with another FBI agent and members of the NYPD. “I’m a fucking F.B.I. agent,” Grimm reportedly said. “Ain’t nobody gonna threaten me.”

Sad commentary on the more criminal side of today’s Republican constituency. Just as the loony, creationist side of Christianity slanders well-meaning religious folk – just as Confederate flag-toting racists with teabags dangling from their AR-15s slander anyone who used to join the NRA to support their classes in hunting safety – conservatism as a political class is now deeply defined as the last bastion of fear and hatred. Better Dead Than Red is back and voting for more of the same.

There is no Republican ideology – only dogma

Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in just about every other wealthy country; we are known, among those who study such things, as the “no-vacation nation.” According to a 2009 study, full-time U.S. workers put in almost 30 percent more hours over the course of a year than their German counterparts, largely because they had only half as many weeks of paid leave. Not surprisingly, work-life balance is a big problem for many people.

But Jeb Bush — who is still attempting to justify his ludicrous claim that he can double our rate of economic growth — says that Americans “need to work longer hours and through their productivity gain more income for their families.”

…The real source of his remark was the “nation of takers” dogma that has taken over conservative circles in recent years — the insistence that a large number of Americans, white as well as black, are choosing not to work, because they can live lives of leisure thanks to government programs.

You see this laziness dogma everywhere on the right. It was the hidden background to Mitt Romney’s infamous 47 percent remark. It underlay the furious attacks on unemployment benefits at a time of mass unemployment and on food stamps when they provided a vital lifeline for tens of millions of Americans. It drives claims that many, if not most, workers receiving disability payments are malingerers — “Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts,” says Senator Rand Paul.

It all adds up to a vision of the world in which the biggest problem facing America is that we’re too nice to fellow citizens facing hardship. And the appeal of this vision to conservatives is obvious: it gives them another reason to do what they want to do anyway, namely slash aid to the less fortunate while cutting taxes on the rich.

Given how attractive the right finds the image of laziness run wild, you wouldn’t expect contrary evidence to make much, if any, dent in the dogma. Federal spending on “income security” — food stamps, unemployment benefits, and pretty much everything else you might call “welfare” except Medicaid — has shown no upward trend as a share of GDP; it surged during the Great Recession and aftermath but quickly dropped back to historical levels…

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5 years of wrong predictions about Obamacare in 1 video

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight created a supercut of premature declarations about the “end of Obamacare.” It’s a telling look at the manner in which political promises fuse with the news cycle to exaggerate reality.

After the US Supreme Court upheld healthcare subsidies for 6.9 million Americans in its decision on King v. Burwell, momentum to repeal the Affordable Care Act is waning, as Sarah Kliff wrote late week:

If the challengers had won, it would have thrown the health-care law into chaos. But the White House prevailing marks something equally momentous: President Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment is actually, really, definitely here to stay

For more on Obamacare, make sure to read and share the comprehensive card stack at the bottom of the VOX article.

My opinion has been stated here and elsewhere often enough:

Expansion of Medicare to all citizens within a single-payer system reduces costs by cutting out the insurance industry slice of the pie. Congress isn’t likely to have the courage for that. But, the experience of Social Security – with operating costs at least 80% cheaper than anything the insurance industry offers – proves the possibility.

The same holds true for Medicaid. And I may as well throw in my favorite criticism of the provisions as designed by Congress. There is no legitimate reason preventing taxpayers in general from enjoying the same fixed, government-negotiated rates for prescription drugs that are guaranteed to members of the military.

Republican presidential candidate of the year

clown prez trump
Click to enlarge

Donald Trump’s big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $50 a pop…New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump’s event…

The pay was listed as $50 for less than three hours of work. According to the email, Extra Mile was reaching out to potential extras in partnership with Gotham Government Relations and Communications, a New York-Based political consulting group that has worked with Trump in the past…

Today’s Republican Party will never run out of opportunist creeps.

Laudato Si, conservative know-nothings!


Looking pretty good in GREEN

Pope Francis has called on the world’s rich nations to begin paying their “grave social debt” to the poor and take concrete steps on climate change, saying failure to do so presents an undeniable risk to a “common home” that is beginning to resemble a “pile of filth”.

The pope’s 180-page encyclical on the environment, released on Thursday, is at its core a moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels.

But it is also a document infused with an activist anger and concern for the poor, casting blame on the indifference of the powerful in the face of certain evidence that humanity is at risk following 200 years of misuse of resources.

Up to now, he says, the world has accepted a “cheerful recklessness” in its approach to the issue, lacking the will to change habits for the good of the Earth.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the papal statement says. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

The encyclical, which can now be considered the church’s official position on the environment, includes practical guidance. Pope Francis rejects “simple solutions” to climate change such as cap and trade systems, which he says give rise to harmful speculation. He also dismisses any suggestion that population increases harm to the environment and should therefore be controlled, and resists making any judgment on genetically modified foods.

The essay was released following months of intense speculation about how far the pontiff would delve into a scientific realm that is still considered controversial in some countries such as the US, where views on climate change are divided along political lines.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the pope’s top official on social and justice issues, flatly rejected arguments by some conservative politicians in the US that the pope ought to stay out of science.

“Saying that a pope shouldn’t deal with science sounds strange since science is a public domain. It is a subject matter that anyone can get in to,” Turkson said at a press conference on Thursday.

In an apparent reference to comments by Republican presidential contender Jeb Bush, who said he did not take economic advice from the pope, Turkson said that politicians had the right to disregard Francis’s statement, but said it was wrong to do so based on the fact that the pope was not a scientist.

The Republican Party has become the party of filth. Filthy ideology, advocates for bigotry and racism are welcome. Filthy practices, the worst practices of extractive industry, careless environmental standards, all are chickens that roost in the diseased chicken coop of conservative politics in the age of Reagan, Rove, Bush and Cheney.

You can read the Pope’s encyclical in the Vatican translation in several languages over here.

Crap ideologues from Jeb Bush to Ted Cruz spend about as much time reading bona fide science as the average jihadist. Often to the same effect on the lives of ordinary citizens of this planet. Death and destruction are part of their profit-and-loss statement.

I’ve enjoyed great debates with religious folks about the basics of understanding reality, the material world. While we marched side-by-side on our nation’s capitol in Washington, DC. I’ve had truly enjoyable discussions about Jesus Christ as an Essene radical – sharing a cell with a Catholic priest who always wore a fedora hat to demonstrations because he figured it made him look more like Bing Crosby, less likely to be clubbed by a racist cop. Disagreements about philosophy, science, material reality don’t prevent us from fighting for the common good.

Oh, and by the way, Jeb. The Pope has a degree in chemistry. How much science did you study at UT?

Supreme Court to weigh-in on “one person one vote”

The Supreme Court on has agreed to hear a case that will answer a long-contested question about a bedrock principle of the American political system: the meaning of “one person one vote.”

The court’s ruling, expected in 2016, could be immensely consequential. Should the court agree with the two Texas voters who brought the case, its ruling would shift political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would benefit Republicans.

The court has never resolved whether voting districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters. Counting all people amplifies the voting power of places with large numbers of residents who cannot vote legally, including immigrants who are here legally but are not citizens; illegal immigrants; children; and prisoners. Those places tend to be urban and to vote Democratic.

A ruling that districts must be based on equal numbers of voters would move political power away from cities, with their many immigrants and children, and toward older and more homogeneous rural areas…

The Supreme Court over the past nearly 25 years has turned away at least three similar challenges, and many election law experts expressed surprise that the justices agreed to hear this one. But since Chief Justice John G. Roberts has led the Supreme Court, it has been active in other voting rights cases…

The case, a challenge to voting districts for the Texas Senate, was brought by two voters, Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger. They are represented by the Project on Fair Representation, the small conservative advocacy group that successfully mounted the earlier challenge to the Voting Rights Act. It is also behind a pending challenge to affirmative action in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin…

…Several judges have acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s decisions provide support for both approaches. The federal appeals court in New Orleans said the issue “presents a close question,” partly because the Supreme Court had been “somewhat evasive in regard to which population must be equalized.”

My view of the case, SCOTUS and what passes for the Republican Party nowadays is a tad more simplistic than all the arguments in the article. Today’s conservatives only want well-off, older, white men to vote.

Yes, that’s over-simplified. How about “they want the kind of results guaranteed if only well-off, older, white men can vote” but some of the rest of y’all are OK – if you can be trusted to agree?

I don’t base my analysis on anything ideological. Just look at who’s in charge of the Republican Party, the range of representation among Congressional Republicans, who they have populating political primaries.

Know-Nothings will hate the Pope even more – Climate Change encyclical coming

pope-francis

Since his first homily in 2013, Pope Francis has preached about the need to protect the earth and all of creation as part of a broad message on the environment. It has caused little controversy so far.

But now, as Francis prepares to deliver what is likely to be a highly influential encyclical this summer on environmental degradation and the effects of human-caused climate change on the poor, he is alarming some conservatives in the United States who are loath to see the Catholic Church reposition itself as a mighty voice in a cause they do not believe in.

As part of the effort for the encyclical, top Vatican officials will hold a summit meeting…to build momentum for a campaign by Francis to urge world leaders to enact a sweeping United Nations climate change accord in Paris in December. The accord would for the first time commit every nation to enact tough new laws to cut the emissions that cause global warming.

The Vatican summit meeting will focus on the links between poverty, economic development and climate change, with speeches and panel discussions by climate scientists and religious leaders, and economists like Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia. The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, who is leading efforts to forge the Paris accord, will deliver the opening address…

In the United States, the encyclical will be accompanied by a 12-week campaign, now being prepared with the participation of some Catholic bishops, to raise the issue of climate change and environmental stewardship in sermons, homilies, news media interviews and letters to newspaper editors, said Dan Misleh, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant in Washington.

But the effort is already angering a number of American conservatives, among them members of the Heartland Institute, a [purportedly] libertarian group partly funded by the Charles G. Koch Foundation, run by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, who oppose climate policy…

But climate policy advocates see a scheduled address by the pope to Congress in September as a potent moment — about 30 percent of members of Congress are Catholics, more than belong to any other religion, according to a study published this year by the Pew Research Center…

“I think Boehner was out of his mind to invite the pope to speak to Congress,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, an analyst at the National Catholic Reporter. “Can you imagine what the Republicans will do when he says, ‘You’ve got to do something about global warming’?… ”

Francis chose the name of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. He talks the talk- and walks the walk. Unlike the patent leather princes American Catholics have been accustomed to Francis actually says the ethics and morality preached in the communal wing of his church are standards that have to be lived up to if you are to be a good Catholic.

I wonder how that will go over with creeps like John Boehner or Rick Santorum, phonies like Jeb Bush, Rubio, Jindal and Christie, et al?

Pic of the Day

Clinton, Obama Commemorate Historic Selma March
Click to enlarge — Obama in SelmaPhoto by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Understand that if we had the same coppers in Selma, the same police chief, the same city government, the same members of the state legislature, the same people representing Alabama in Congress, in the House and Senate – that demonstration today, even headed by the President of the United States – would have been brutalized, again.

Racists don’t care who you are. They aren’t interested in anything but their fear and hatred. That our president now happens to be a Black man would make him more of a target. That’s all.

And many of the people filling all those positions, nowadays – from copper at the bottom of the police rung all the way up into Congress – are just as bigoted as their predecessors. Don’t kid yourself otherwise. On one hand they dare not act like the simple-minded lynch mob that set out to destroy everyone in that demonstration 50 years ago. Too much of society has changed. Much of law and justice has been changed. They couldn’t count on getting away with it. And that counts most – with cowards.

On the other hand, they will sit around and whine to each other tonight that at least they have over half the Supreme Court and the majority of Congress on their side. They are succeeding at reversing some of the successes at guaranteeing normal civil rights to all Americans – especially Americans who ain’t white.

This battle shall not end. We face the same challenges and, importantly, the same people, the same kind of people. They didn’t vanish along with the value system that backed them up. They have learned to tell the same lies their political representatives tell all the time.

Their lies don’t change a damned thing. Taking away their political power is what counts. Not changing their bigot minds.