The Republican party headquarters in Wichita, Kansas, shares space in a strip mall with Best Friends Pet Clinic, a cowboy-boot repair shop and a Chinese restaurant called the Magic Wok. Inside, on a recent Wednesday afternoon, a modest gathering of party faithful mill about, I’M A BROWNBACKER stickers affixed to their blouses and lapels.
It’s a terrible slogan. Four years ago, when Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback first took office, you might’ve wondered if these people, on some subliminal level, actually wanted to be humiliated by a filthy-minded liberal activist looking to add a new “santorum” to Urban Dictionary. As a senator and a failed presidential candidate, Brownback was already one of the nation’s most prominent social conservatives, “God’s Senator,” in the words of a 2006 Rolling Stone profile. But Brownback turned out to be even more radical when it came to economic policy. In 2012, he enacted the largest package of tax cuts in Kansas history, essentially transforming his state into a lab experiment for extreme free-market ideology. The results (disastrous) have reduced the governor to making appearances at grim strip malls like this one in a desperate attempt to salvage his re-election bid.
The last time I came to Kansas, in March 2013, Brownback could often be found wandering the halls of the state Capitol, sporting one of his signature sweater vests, smiling and nodding at passing strangers or offering impromptu lectures to schoolchildren paused in front of the oil painting of John Brown, the fearsome Kansas abolitionist, that hangs outside his office. Here in Wichita, though, he looks exhausted. When he takes the stage, he squints out at the audience through puffy eyes. His Texas counterpart, Gov. Rick Perry, stands behind him, having been summoned north to help bail out Brownback’s flailing campaign…
Then the Texan steps to the podium and delivers a version of a speech I saw him give earlier this year in Kentucky, where he had been mobilized on a similar mission for Mitch McConnell. After boasting about all the jobs his policies have drawn to his state, Perry praises Brownback for placing Kansas on a similar “upward trajectory,”…
There are a couple of problems with Perry’s speech. First of all, he happens to be delivering it in Wichita, where, this summer, Boeing, for decades the largest private employer in the state of Kansas, shuttered its entire operation, shifting those jobs to cities like Seattle, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, Texas (oops).
The larger problem, of course, is that Perry wouldn’t even have to be here in Kansas if Brownback’s economic plan had not already proved catastrophic…not only cutting taxes but also slashing spending on education, social services and the arts, and, later, privatizing the entire state Medicaid system. Brownback himself went around the country telling anyone who’d listen that Kansas could be seen as a sort of test case, in which unfettered libertarian economic policy could be held up and compared right alongside the socialistic overreach of the Obama administration, and may the best theory of government win…
That word, “experiment,” has come to haunt Brownback as the data rolls in. The governor promised his “pro-growth tax policy” would act “like a shot of adrenaline in the heart of the Kansas economy,” but, instead, state revenues plummeted by nearly $700 million in a single fiscal year, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the state’s credit rating, and job growth sagged behind all four of Kansas’ neighbors. Brownback wound up nixing a planned sales-tax cut to make up for some of the shortfall, but not before he’d enacted what his opponents call the largest cuts in education spending in the history of Kansas.
Read ‘em and weep, folks – except the good folks don’t deserve the tears. They knew what this idiot was going to do. Even though every previous attempt by a supply-side economics reactionary had failed – all the way up to and including Reagan’s guru, David Stockman. Read Mark Binelli’s whole article.
They voted Brownback into office. He did what he promised to do. The state now waits for bankruptcy, fully prepared to deal with nothing but more disaster, education system crushed, employers ready to flee.
Any history-literate cynic knows American aren’t well enough-educated to vote in their own economic interest. Our nation’s history of bigotry and racism aid the whole process. Reactionary demagogues who would only be considered fringe candidates in other Western nations regularly take their seats in Congress. But, still – Kansas voters outdid themselves with God’s favorite candidate.
At least 15 Fox News hosts and contributors have recently campaigned with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Many of those same Fox News personalities have also defended the Kochs from attacks and praised their political efforts on-air…
Politico’s Ken Vogel reported that Americans For Prosperity “intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives, according to a memo distributed to major donors and sources familiar with the group.” The Washington Post wrote that with a paid staff of 240, split between 32 states, AFP “may be America’s third-biggest political party.” In 2012, “More than $44 million of the $140 million the organization raised in that election cycle came from Koch-linked feeder funds.”
AFP and AFPFoundation are part of a massive $400 million network of political groups spearheaded by the Kochs. The Huffington Post’s Paul Blumenthal noted, “It is the electoral focus of the Koch nonprofits and their sophisticated efforts to shield donors’ identities — plus the vast sums of money they move — that has brought them the unwanted attention of both Democratic Senate leadership and reporters. There exists no outside network or organization supporting Democratic Party candidates in elections, while not disclosing its donors, that spends money in comparable amounts…”
Fox News personalities are the public face of many AFP/AFPF events. Promotional materials heavily tout the speakers’ affiliation with Fox News to increase attendance. According to a Media Matters review, the following Fox News personalities have participated in AFP and AFPF events since 2012: Guy Benson, Tucker Carlson, Monica Crowley, Jonah Goldberg, Greg Gutfeld, Mary Katharine Ham, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Andrew Napolitano, Sarah Palin, Charles Payne, Dana Perino, John Stossel, Cal Thomas, and Juan Williams.
“Fair and balanced” means as little as “liberty and justice for all” in a nation where conservative judges rule that corporations are people, religion and the NSA trump the Constitution.
No one expects Fox News to do anything more than imitate constitutional standards for a Free Press. The saddest part is the fools who believe that papier-mâché imitation.
A state judge struck down Florida’s gay marriage ban on Friday in the latest in a string of legal gay-rights victories that have nonetheless been put on hold for resolution by higher courts.
Circuit court judge Sarah Zabel in Miami-Dade county said Florida’s ban violated the constitutional rights to due process and equal protection, and offended “basic human decency“.
Florida’s attorney general quickly appealed against the ruling. But Zabel said the slew of recent verdicts showed it was “increasingly obvious” it was impermissible to deny couples the right to marry solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, and that doing so served no governmental purpose.
“It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society,” she wrote.
Now, you can see ever more clearly why the Republican Party and their nutball acolytes are blocking affirmation of federal judgeships throughout Obama’s terms in the White House. No one expects him to appoint anyone other than moderate to traditionally-conservative judges; but, even that is too scary for right-wingers and theocrats.
Anyone with an understanding of law beyond 19th Century blood-and-thunder oratory is going to rule favorably upon all the issues Congress is too cowardly to advance.
Annie Lowrey writes in the Times Magazine this week about the troubles of Clay County, Ky., which by several measures is the hardest place in America to live.
The Upshot came to this conclusion by looking at six data points for each county in the United States: education (percentage of residents with at least a bachelor’s degree), median household income, unemployment rate, disability rate, life expectancy and obesity. We then averaged each county’s relative rank in these categories to create an overall ranking…
We used disability — the percentage of the population collecting federal disability benefits but not also collecting Social Security retirement benefits — as a proxy for the number of working-age people who don’t have jobs but are not counted as unemployed. Appalachian Kentucky scores especially badly on this count; in four counties in the region, more than 10 percent of the total population is on disability, a phenomenon seen nowhere else except nearby McDowell County, W.Va.
Remove disability from the equation, though, and eastern Kentucky would still fare badly in the overall rankings. The same is true for most of the other six factors.
The exception is education. If you exclude educational attainment, or lack of it, in measuring disadvantage, five counties in Mississippi and one in Louisiana rank lower than anywhere in Kentucky. This suggests that while more people in the lower Mississippi River basin have a college degree than do their counterparts in Appalachian Kentucky, that education hasn’t improved other aspects of their well-being…
At the other end of the scale, the different variations on our formula consistently yielded the same result. Six of the top 10 counties in the United States are in the suburbs of Washington…but the top ranking of all goes to Los Alamos County, N.M., home of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which does much of the scientific work underpinning the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The lab directly employs one out of every five county residents and has a budget of $2.1 billion; only a fraction of that is spent within the county, but that’s still an enormous economic engine for a county of just 18,000 people.
RTFA for details and differences. Poisonally, I think including Los Alamos is an anomaly. All it proves is the American way to achieve the highest per capita income is through a subsidy dedicated to death and destruction.
The broader implication of this study is that the end result of the ideology and bigotries of the Confederacy is poverty, ignorance and ill health. As expected.
As far as hot button issues are concerned, the Republican primary race for governor has been a snooze, with the four candidates steering clear of controversy like gay marriage. But that’s not the case in a couple of legislative primary contests…
In house district 30B in Wright County, Kevin Kasel is challenging Eric Lucero, who won the party’s endorsement, in part, by criticizing incumbent David FitzSimmons’ vote for same sex marriage.
Then there’s Carver County’s house district 47A, where Waconia Mayor Jim Nash is facing off against Norwood Young America businessman Bob Frey, a race in which “sodomy” has become one of the campaign issues…
…When questioned about his position on social issues, Frey added that it “does certainly need to be addressed for what it is. It’s not about the gay agenda but about the science and the financial impact of that agenda. It’s more about sodomy than about pigeonholing a lifestyle.”
Frey then explained his view: “When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there’s an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg. If the sperm is deposited anally, it’s the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail. That’s why the term is AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.”
(This explanation of AIDS has no scientific validity, but it may strike a familiar chord: It is essentially the same one given by Bob’s son, Mike Frey, in testimony given before the House Civil Law Committee last year during the debate over gay marriage.)
Like a lot of nutballs who rely on junk science for part of their ideology, Frey is on record stating that the fossil record proves that dinosaurs have always lived alongside man…in the course of his campaign to have the teaching of evolution removed from school curricula, he also claims the Sun is shrinking at a rate of five feet an hour.
An insidious trend has developed over this past third of a century. A country that experienced shared growth after World War II began to tear apart, so much so that when the Great Recession hit in late 2007, one could no longer ignore the fissures that had come to define the American economic landscape. How did this “shining city on a hill” become the advanced country with the greatest level of inequality?
One stream of the extraordinary discussion set in motion by Thomas Piketty’s timely, important book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” has settled on the idea that violent extremes of wealth and income are inherent to capitalism. In this scheme, we should view the decades after World War II — a period of rapidly falling inequality — as an aberration.
This is actually a superficial reading of Mr. Piketty’s work, which provides an institutional context for understanding the deepening of inequality over time. Unfortunately, that part of his analysis received somewhat less attention than the more fatalistic-seeming aspects…
…The dynamics of the imperial capitalism of the 19th century needn’t apply in the democracies of the 21st. We don’t need to have this much inequality in America.
Our current brand of capitalism is an ersatz capitalism. For proof of this go back to our response to the Great Recession, where we socialized losses, even as we privatized gains. Perfect competition should drive profits to zero, at least theoretically, but we have monopolies and oligopolies making persistently high profits. C.E.O.s enjoy incomes that are on average 295 times that of the typical worker, a much higher ratio than in the past, without any evidence of a proportionate increase in productivity.
If it is not the inexorable laws of economics that have led to America’s great divide, what is it? The straightforward answer: our policies and our politics. People get tired of hearing about Scandinavian success stories, but the fact of the matter is that Sweden, Finland and Norway have all succeeded in having about as much or faster growth in per capita incomes than the United States and with far greater equality…
Ideology and interests combined nefariously…Corporate interests argued for getting rid of regulations, even when those regulations had done so much to protect and improve our environment, our safety, our health and the economy itself.
But this ideology was hypocritical. The bankers, among the strongest advocates of laissez-faire economics, were only too willing to accept hundreds of billions of dollars from the government in the bailouts that have been a recurring feature of the global economy since the beginning of the Thatcher-Reagan era of “free” markets and deregulation…
The American political system is overrun by money. Economic inequality translates into political inequality, and political inequality yields increasing economic inequality. In fact, as he recognizes, Mr. Piketty’s argument rests on the ability of wealth-holders to keep their after-tax rate of return high relative to economic growth. How do they do this? By designing the rules of the game to ensure this outcome; that is, through politics…
We have located the underlying source of the problem: political inequities and policies that have commodified and corrupted our democracy. It is only engaged citizens who can fight to restore a fairer America, and they can do so only if they understand the depths and dimensions of the challenge. It is not too late to restore our position in the world and recapture our sense of who we are as a nation. Widening and deepening inequality is not driven by immutable economic laws, but by laws we have written ourselves.
Our corrupt Congress hasn’t happened by accident, you know. The design is neither new nor patented. But, the only correction – the historic cure remains unchanged. Throw the bums out of office.
That doesn’t mean replacing them with a new crop of self-seeking liars – whether they call themselves neo-conservatives, libertarians or tea party patriots. People who care not for the welfare of individuals care equally less for the welfare of this whole nation. The canary in the coal mine is still bigotry and hatred. If politicians can’t be brought to care for the civil rights of all Americans then they don’t deserve to represent any Americans.
New system is so successful Texas and the rest of the Confederacy are lining up to license it for all their prisons. Every one of them – whether they have Death Row convicts or not.
There have been 74 school shootings since Adam Lanza’s infamous assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut — and, as this map shows, they’ve happened all over the country.
The data comes from Everytown for Gun Safety, a recently formed gun control advocacy group. Everytown defines school shooting as “assaults, homicides, suicides, and accidental shootings” that take place “inside a school building or on school or campus grounds.” Huffington Post editor Mark Gongloff mapped Everytown’s data and tweeted it out.
It’s hard to find statistically reliable research about school shootings, but there’s no doubt gun violence is still a serious problem in America. Despite the fact that the gun homicide death has declined substantially in the past two decades, about 11,000 Americans are still killed every year in firearm homicides. About 19,000 die in gun suicides.
That’s a much higher rate than anywhere else in the developed world. The causes are complicated, but there’s mounting evidence that America’s loose gun laws contribute to both the suicide and homicide problem.
What is there to say? I hear myself, time and again. The map averages one school shooting a week since Sandy Hook.
I’ve been a gun owner for decades. I come from an extended family where many of us worked in trades associated with guns. We all understand the dangers associated with broadcast unregulated access to firearms. It’s satisfactory only to the stupid or ignorant. Take your pick.
The man and woman suspected in Sunday’s Las Vegas shopping center attack that left two police officers and a shopper dead often talked about killing officers and didn’t believe in the government, a neighbor says.
“They always talked about murdering cops,” neighbor Krista Koch told ABC affiliate KTNV-TV…”They were going to kill as many officers as they can, and then they were going to do away with themselves.”
Investigators searched an apartment overnight believed to be related to the shooting, trying to uncover clues about the midday attack. Police are looking into the couple’s links to the white supremacy movement after finding swastika symbols during their initial investigation…
Investigators say the man and woman, armed with guns and ammunition, walked into a CiCi’s Pizza Restaurant, where they opened fire on officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31.
Police say one officer fired back, but both died from their injuries.
Sheree Burns, who witnessed the shooting, says the officers didn’t stand a chance…
The pair then fled across the street to a Walmart, where the male suspect reportedly yelled, “Everyone get out.” Shots rang out inside the store at 11:27 a.m. By then police were already on the scene. A third victim was found dead inside the store’s front door.
Police say the man and woman then went to the back of the store, where they killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact. The female suspect reportedly shot the male suspect, then took her own life…
“It’s a tragic day, it’s a very, very difficult day,” Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at a news conference. “But we still have a community to police, and we still have a community to protect. We will be out there doing it with our heads held high, but with emptiness in our hearts.”
It’s always useful to see the Board of Directors of the NRA/Tea Party get out in public.
Yeah, that’s a smartass remark. What else? You know about the nutball gun culture in the United States. This is just one more time I’m embarrassed by creeps who turn their reliance on firearms as a substitute for real achievements – into death. Embarrassed because I’ve been a gun owner, an occasional hunter, for decades.
My family has worked in the firearms industry more often than any other. Growing up in Connecticut – the arsenal of America – that’s where employment was most often available. But, even the most conservative members of my extended family never turned out to be the kind of crazies that dominate the NRA, the Tea Party, the most paranoid cowards in the history of American libertarianism.
Las Vegas coppers suggest this couple had ties to racist politics – and that fits as well. The new Confederacy still prides itself on bigotry even with their adoption of the diplomatic use of code words instead of traditional hatespeak. I imagine if you spend Friday night in a country-western bar in Mississippi, Texas or Arizona – you’ll hear the good ol’ boys at their traditional best.
Oh, and you can expect the public dregs of our rightwing to busy themselves immediately making excuses, trying to turn these thugs into heroes. I expect we’ll all hear the predictable line from Fox News to The Blaze by midday.