Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The fair weather friend

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Maddow: It's Not About the Budge...

Rachel Maddow took a whack at the hypocritical Republicans in Wisconsin and the Republican governors across the country who will spare no expense when it comes to taking care of their own -- especially big business and their wealthy campaign donors -- and at the same time are willing to raise taxes on the poor and the middle class.
Case in point, we have Stephen Fitzgerald, the father of Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. The elder Fitzgerald, who after losing his election for Dodge County sheriff by a 2-to-1 margin, somehow got appointed as the head of the State Patrol.
And as Rachel noted, in the midst of the potential recall of a number of Wisconsin Senators, there is "another patronage scandal blossoming today."
Senator's girlfriend had help getting job:
Even though the state is supposedly broke, top officials in Gov. Scott Walker's team were able to scrape together enough money to give a state job to the woman identified as Sen. Randy Hopper's girlfriend.
Anything for a political ally.
Valerie Cass, a former Republican legislative staffer, was hired Feb. 7 as a communications specialist with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing. She is being paid $20.35 per hour. The job is considered a temporary post.
Cass previously had worked in the state Senate and for the GOP campaign consulting firm Persuasion Partners in Madison. She also was paid for campaign work for the state Republican Party and U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner before that.
"Ms. Cass' name was among many forwarded to DRL by the Governor's Transition Team as potential candidates for positions with the department," said David Carlson, the agency's spokesman. Read on...
Rachel summed this up rather nicely.
MADDOW: But apart from the awkwardness for the State Senator here, there's also the awkwardness of whether or not Wisconsin state government is so broke because of all those greedy state employees, right? I mean for the Senator already facing the likely prospect of recall, this is not a positive development. But is also really handy as a reminder about the whole nature of this fight in Wisconsin, and why it is resonating nationally.
The Republican justification for the union stripping business in Wisconsin is that it was all about the budget, right? But then something like this comes along and we're all reminded that if it were all about the budget, people hired by the state would not be getting $12,000 raises, whether or not they were State Senators' girlfriends.
She wrapped it up with letting her viewers know about some of Think Progress' Wonk Room reporting on the GOP governors out there and their willingness to raise taxes on the working class while giving their wealthy campaign donors a break -- REPORT: In 12 States, GOP Plans To Slash Corporate Taxes While Increasing Burden on Working Families:
ThinkProgress has been documenting conservative efforts to shift the burden of record budget shortfalls onto middle-class Americans, while simultaneously doling out tax cuts to corporations. While progressive governors have proposed raising revenue from those who can afford it, alongside painful cuts to programs, Republican governors have unveiled budgets that cut taxes for corporations and raise them on the middle-class and working poor. In this report, ThinkProgress evaluates the priorities conservatives have set in twelve states:
NEW JERSEY: Last year, Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) budget raised taxes on the working poor and middle-class by cutting the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit and homestead rebates — yet still found money for lucrative corporate tax cuts. This year, Christie’s budget calls for $200 million in business tax cuts, while cutting mental health services, $540 million from Medicaid, and witholding property tax rebates for seniors until public workers give up many of their health and pension benefits. Many New Jerseyans have said they prefer a tax on millionaires to Christie’s draconian cuts.
MICHIGAN: Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) budget would make Michigan’s already regressive tax system even more unfair for the state’s poorest residents. The plan cuts taxes on business by more than 86 percent while slashing $1.2 billion in funding for “schools, universities, local governments and other areas.” Snyder also wants to raise personal taxes by 30 percent — an increase that will fall disproportionately on Michigan’s lowest income residents.
GEORGIA: Last week, the Georgia House passed an austerity budget that will increase health insurance costs by more than 20 percent for state workers, teachers and retirees and cut funding for state universities by $75 million. The House has already gutted the state’s HOPE scholarship program, and is now considering implementing a regressive new tax system that would lower income taxes for the rich while raising the sales tax on basic necessities. House Majority Leader Larry O’Neal (R), meanwhile, has introduced a bill that would implement a flat income tax rate and cut corporate taxes by 33 percent.
FLORIDA: At a Tea Party rally last month, Gov. Rick Scott (R) unveiled his budget, telling supporters he would make the state the most “fiscally conservative” in the nation. The budget would slash corporate income and property taxes, lay off 6,700 state employees, cut education funding by $4.8 billion, and cut Medicaid by almost $4 billion.
OHIO: Gov. John Kasich (R) has proposed cutting 25 percent of schools’ budgets, $1 million from food banks, $12 million from children’s hospitals, and $15.9 million from an adoption program for children with special needs. A Kasich staffer revealed yesterday that these cuts are more about politics then budget-balancing, telling the Cincinnati Dispatch that “even if there weren’t an $8 billion deficit, we’d probably be proposing many of the same things.” The plan includes tax cuts for oil companies, a repeal of the estate tax and an income tax cut for the rich that former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) halted last year because of the state’s fiscal crisis.
IOWA: Gov. Tom Branstad (R) began this year proposing a budget that included a $200 million tax cut on commercial property taxes and corporate income but would freeze spending on schools, cut $42 million to state universities and lay off “hundreds” of state workers. Since then, the Governor has already begun laying off state nursing home workers and frozen funding for mental health services. The budget is now moving through the politically divided legislature, where Republican-controlled House committees have gone even further, approving tax refunds for upper-income Iowans while cancelling infrastructure investments, eliminating preschool for 4-year-olds, closing Iowa workforce development offices, and making even deeper cuts to public universities.
PENNSYLVANIA: Gov. Tom Corbett (R) presented a budget last week that would cut taxes for corporations, while freezing teacher salaries, cutting dental care for Medicaid recipients, and eliminating more than half of the state’s universities. Yet the state has lots of revenue potential in northern Pennsylvania, where out-of-state energy companies’ “fracking” of natural gas has reaped them hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. Corbett has refused to tax these companies, many of which helped fund his gubernatorial campaign, and has instead opted to lay of more than 1,500 state workers.
MAINE: Despite calling for “shared sacrifice” Tea Party Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) budget would cut income taxes for Maine’s wealthiest one percent, while actually raising property taxes for the state’s middle class. This so-called “jobs budget” freezes healthcare funding for working parents, cuts money for schools and infrastructure and raises the retirement age for public workers. Yet LePage was still able to find more than $200 million in tax cuts for large estates, business and the rich.
WISCONSIN: The tax cuts Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed earlier this year worsened his state’s fiscal condition, so now Walker is planning to raise taxes on the poor, eliminate $26 million in tax credits for seniors and single mothers and cancel property tax rebates for low-income Wisconsinites making less than $24,000 a year.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has proposed ending the state’s corporate income tax, even while she calls for cutting physical education, K-12 schools, and Medicaid. Haley has received pushback from Republican colleagues: last week the legislature rejected her plan to force state employees to pay more for health insurance.
KANSAS: Facing a $493 million budget shortfall, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has called for eliminating the corporate income tax while proposing a $50 million cut to education. With majorities in both Houses, Republicans have proposed a cut to the federal Earned Income Tax Credit that would push 6,500 families below the poverty line.
ARIZONA: Last October, as she ignored 26 other possible funding solutions, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) implemented painful cuts to the state’s Medicaid program, which resulted in 2 deaths and left 98 Arizonians waiting for transplant funding. After months of protests, Brewer finally agreed to set aside $151 million in an “uncompensated-care pool to pay health-care providers for ‘life-saving’ procedures, including transplants.” However, House Republicans refused to restore funding for organ transplants because, as House Appropriations Committee chair Jon Kavanagh (R) said, “not enough lives would be saved to warrant restoring millions in budget cuts.” Then, while peoples’ lives were in danger, Brewer eagerly signed tax cuts for businesses that will cost the state $538 million.
As they noted, I'm not sure how that's anyone's idea of "shared sacrifice" when the only ones being asked to sacrifice are the working class.
If anyone here is a regular reader of Think Progress' site, and you don't check into the research being done at their sister site, The Wonk Room, you''re missing a whole lot of great information that their site posts daily and that doesn't always get front paged.

[Many thanks to Crooks & Liars.  The entire article and video from here.]

Monday, March 21, 2011

You'll shoot your eyes out

We're screwed!

 It's no longer a matter of whether you view a glass as half-empty or half-full.  There's almost nothing left in the glass! We're screwed!

Item: American warplanes and warships are bombing Libya. With Obama's approval. What happened to Obama? And we're still killing people in Afghanistan. Ten years of killing. American troops remain in Iraq.

Think about Libya for a moment. Obama spoke some pastry-filled words to justify our military intervention. It's all bullshit. If we gave a damn about dictators beating up on their people we'd be intervening in most of the countries of the Middle East and a bunch more in other parts of the world. We love dictators. Always have. We'll even help them beat up on their own people so long as they do what we say and give us what we want, whether that's bananas or oil.

Obama spoke bullshit. If what he said were true we would have intervened in China a long time ago. Can you imagine any scenario where the United States would intervene in China to help the Chinese overthrow their government? Of course not. China is big and powerful.

Libya on the other hand is perceived (maybe falsely) as being small and relatively weak. Listen to our gung-ho military leaders: Libya won't be a problem; this is short-term action; Gaddafi will be gone in a few days. Hah!

If Obama's words contained even a smidgen of the truth we would have sent warplanes to bomb the Saudi king and his minions years ago. We would have bombed Yemen. We'd have invaded Egypt long before the current protestors were even born!

What happened to our president? Where's the man we elected in 2008?

President Obama is a Christian. He is like most other so-called Christians who neither believe in nor act on the most important teachings of their legendary leader: Teachings such as the admonition to not seek revenge; to turn the other cheek; to forgive 70 times 7; or that a rich person will find it impossible to recognize or share in the kingdom of God; etc.

So Christian leaders in the United States, proud of their religious heritage, continue to kill other people in the name of what - democracy? Freedom? Hah! In the name of OIL!

Item:  Moving on but sticking with Libya. Supposedly, the US of A is saddled with a huge debt, a monstrous deficit, a morass of fiscal ill-health that will doom us as a nation. If you don't believe that just listen to Republicans everywhere (and not a few Dems). Our first priority, these folks claim, is to reduce the debt. Otherwise, as said one Congresswoman the other day, we'll have no country left to leave our children and grandchildren.

Omigod! This is terrible. What shall we do? The Republicans (and not a few Dems) have an answer for that, too.  Because over 300 members of Congress are millionaires, however, it is unlikely that any of them would vote to increase the taxes of the wealthiest of our citizens or of those corporations who routinely hide their profits in off-shore banks/scams and pay no taxes whatsoever.

Republicans (and not a few Dems) cannot imagine taxing the rich. That's why they insist we must balance the budget, rid ourself of the deficit, dig us out of the hole, by burying our middle-class. [The poor are given no consideration and don't have a chance in hell of surviving!]

Thus Republicans and their minions in the media lie routinely about Social Security (which is NOT going broke by any stretch of the imagination!), Medicare, Medicaid, NPR, school lunch programs, health-care, etc., in order to justify their assault on people of lesser means than themselves!

If, however, as others have asked, we cannot fund our schools or our teachers, put enough police on our payrolls, repair our decaying infrastructure, help people be all they can be without getting killed in some godforsaken war in some godforsaken country in the middle of nowhere, how in hell can we afford another goddamn war in the Mediterranean?

Where are we getting this money? Are we borrowing from China? The Mafia? The Vatican?

I copied what follows from Crooks & Liars. It was, I believe, written by Heather:

"I guess now that we've decided we can afford to help with air strikes against another country that has a lot of oil that we might be concerned about, we can continue to tell the tax payers that we're broke and cannot afford to pay for these horrible entitlement programs that you working slugs were expecting like your Social Security and your Medicaid programs. And never mind raising taxes on the 'job creators' because their needs must be met at all times whether they're creating jobs overseas for slave wages or anywhere for that matter. If you're a corporation that does business in the United States, you must be coddled to.

"And you stinking low life union thugs must STFU if you don't like any of this, because you of course are the source of all our problems and draining the taxpayers in America of their hard earned money. And if you're a dirty f-king hippie organization like NPR, you must be defunded because we can't have our taxpayer dollars being spent on any evil liberal ideology being spread around to the rural areas of the country. ...

"Deep Thought - U.S. fires 110 tomahawk missiles, each costs $569,000. That's more than 5 years of NPR federal funding in less than an hour.  [My emphasis]

"We've got to have our priorities, don't you know."

Item:  Stupidity and ignorance reign. From The Nation: "Of the more than 40 million retirees and survivors who receive Social Security benefit payments every year, a whopping 44.1 percent responded in a government survey that they had 'not used a government social program.' For other programs, the numbers are even higher. Of the 35 million taking advantage of the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction, 60 percent were unaware that it is a government-sponsored program. Even programs like Pell Grants (43.1 percent), Medicaid (27.8 percent) and food stamps (25.4 percent) have high rates of misrecognition."

There's more: "In February 2009, President Obama passed tax credits worth $288 billion. But a year later, only 12 percent of those polled believed theyr were paying lower taxes."

Item: Our state governments are run by mental midgets and hateful monsters. We're all familiar with Gov. Walker of Wisconsin. Many of us are waiting with bated breath to hear that he's been recalled or indicted for his illegal action in getting his union-busting bill through the state legislature; an action which proves without a doubt that the bill had not one whit to do with the state's deficit!

And other Republican governors are trying the same thing. As stated in an AlterNet article, these governors "have proposed placing the brunt of deficit reduction onto the backs of their state's public employees, students, and middle-class taxpayers, while simultaneously trying to enact corporate tax cuts and giveaways. Govs. Rick Scott (R-FL), Tom Corbett (R-PA), and Jan Brewer (R-AZ) have all gone down this road."

But it gets even worse in Michigan! The Republican governor of that state "has proposed ending his state's Earned Income Tax Credit, cutting a $600 per child tax credit, and reducing credits for seniors, while also cutting funding for school districts by eight to ten percent. At the same time, as the Michigan League for Human Services found, the state's business taxes would be reduced by nearly $2 billion, or 86 percent, under Snyder's plan."

Item: I'm not sure of the number, but many of the Republican governors in this country have jumped on a legal action intended to halt health-care reform in its tracks!

Well, guess what? Every single one of them is a major hypocrite. This from Harper's magazine: All 50 states have applied for funding under the 2010 Affordable Care Act!

Item: We're screwed. But we're not screwed as badly as the young men and women serving and getting killed and maimed in our armed forces for no good reason whatsoever. And they are well aware of that fact! It is taking a toll. Again from Harper's: Last year, 455 American soldiers died in combat. The minimum number who committed suicide was 407!

Item: We're screwed because we have legally insane people serving in our state legislatures. From The Nation: "In South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, legislators have proposed bills that would arguably permit a pregnant woman's mate or relatives (or maybe just anyone) to murder her abortion provider to protect her fetus."

This is so beyond the pale, it's absolutely incomprehensible. But I'll betcha every legislator supporting these proposals is a follower of Jesus the Christ!

Item: From The Nation. "Bills restricting abortion are [...] underway in Pennsylvania, Kansas, Virginia, Florida, Indiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio."

Item: When openly-avowed Christians openly lie about whatever they wish we're screwed. Mike Huckabee, Southern Baptist preacher, speaker of trash for FAUX News and would-be prez of these United States, said recently that Obama had been raised in Kenya and thus "sympathized with the 'anticolonialism' of the Mau Mau rebellion." (Time magazine, March 21, 2011, p. 25)

Then the lying Christian preacher said that he just "meant to imply that Obama had a "'different worldview,' having been raised in Indonesia. 'Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings, and our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not madrasahs.'"

Well, the lying Christian preacher is not only without an ethical or moral bone is his body he's also ignorant as hell. As Time points out, "Obama was raised in neither Kenya nor Indonesia (where he did spend four years) but in Hawaii, by his Kansas Republican grandparents. He was a Boy Scout. And he didn't attend a madrasah. There are a multitude of Rotary Clubs in both Indonesia and Hawaii."

Jesus Christ! Huckabee's a scummy character!

Item: Congress extended the Patriot Act's "surveillance authorizations--which permit spying on groups and individuals and make a mockery of Fourth Amendment privacy protections." While Obama wanted a 3-year extension, Congress opted for a 3-month extension.

Republicans, as you know, crow a lot about their admiration and devotion to our Constitution. We also know, however, that is simply a lot of rhetoric. Or, as Frank Barone would say, it is "holy crap"!

When Democrats attempted a motion to make certain that surveillance would be done strictly in accordance with the Constitution, Republicans jumped to oppose it. The motion lost 234 to 186. ALL the "NO" votes came from Republicans. And one of those was none other than that lover of the Constitution, that leading light of Republican nonsense and mendacity, Michele Bachmann!

We're screwed!