Saturday, July 31

Heartless Fracking Monsters!

You will know them by thier Votes...

I don't like to generalize and lump a wide swath of people into one big homogenous pile, but this week we've had two huge examples of exactly the kind of completely heathless self-aggrandizing inhuman monstrous Ass-Bandits that Republicans can be.

First we had the House Vote Against the 9-11 Responders

As if the fracking procedure really matters all that much when people who Risked their Lives to Save the Lives of Others are on the line.

It's just bloody Insane!.

Then after all of this posturing that "Tax Cuts Don't Have to be Paid For" - and blocking of Unemployment Benefits in the Senate, we have an updated Jobs Bill which is both Paid For and includes mostly Tax Cuts for Small Business and the Republican Filibuster IT!!!

Senate Republicans yesterday “rejected a bill to aid small businesses with expanded loan programs and tax breaks” even though several GOP lawmakers helped write it and it had been backed by conservative business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The procedural blockade underscores “how fiercely determined the party’s leaders are to deny Democrats any further legislative accomplishments.

What. The. FRACK are these people ON??

And it's not like we didn't get a warning about this from Al Franken when he said "They Don't Want the Jobs to Improve before the Election".

Franken: And Republicans sort of take this stance that the best thing we can do is slow everything down so as little can happen as possible, so that we can both blame Democrats for not having stuff happen, like jobs bills and stuff like that. And so that, you know, I mean sometimes it’d be a legitimate difference of opinion on something, but sometimes it’s been ridiculous. But I do think that this whole approach of slowing everything down, in many ways I think it’s so that, they don’t want a jobs bill because they don’t want people to get jobs before the election. It’s a harsh thing to say, and I don’t want to impugn the motives of my colleagues, but I don’t get what they’re doing otherwise.

When he said this I thought he was going a little over the top, now I'm like...

That's exactly what it is - they don't want people to get jobs before the election so that Democrats will get the credit for it. They don't CARE how many people are out of work, need assistance and are losing their homes. The first stiumulus wasn't as large as it should have been, because of Republicans and their FETISH for Tax Cuts THEY DON'T CARE who it hurts, they just want the President to FAIL. They want the Democrats to FAIL. The want the Country to FAIL.

I can't believe we're seriously looking at losing seats to These People. Who the Hell can TRUST THEM?

Their entire mantra is "Government Sucks" - so why do they want to be part of something that Sucks, to make it Suck More?

They like to pretend that the Government Doing anything, particularly giving things away is such a horrible thing. Oh yeah? Well, what about the Homestead Act which gave away LAND!!!

You don't have to read History - just pay attention to Tom Cruise's Movie "Far and Away" and this scene which is "Land Race" where Settlers rush to the plot of land that will become their home, as provided by the Government!

Don't ever say the government didn't give white people something for nothing (after stealing it from Native Americans that is - talking about "Spreading the Wealth Around" this Land Race was preceded by the Horrific Trail of Tears).

It's not like Capilistic Ingenuity built the Interstate Highway System, or developed the technology that eventually became the Internet. That was Government! Our Government. But Republicans don't believe in America, they don't believe in the ability of American Government to help us lift ourselves up.

All you have to do is look at the Republcan "Battle Plan" - wherein they promise to...

  • Raise Taxes on the Poor and Middle Class by Eliminating nearly ALL Tax Deductions, Offsets and Credits.

  • Lower Taxes on the Rich by yet another 12-15%

  • Raise Social Security Taxes, while Decreasing Benefits for those under 55 by "Personalizing" up to 1/3rd of it on the Stock Market

  • Increase the Eligibility Age for Medicare to 69 and Cut Benefits

  • Replace Medicaid with Medical Savings Accounts

  • Completely Ignore Climate Change, Stall Green Energy Policies, Environmental Concerns, Safety and Health Regulations

  • This is America with Republicans in Control Again. One for All and All for Nobody but their Damn Self.

    We can't let these crazy power-drunk people back behind the Wheel of Government - Not Again. We may have our problems with how Democrats have governed, we may be disappointed that they left out a provision here or the Public Option there - but Seriously - This. Can't. Happen.

    It's past time to get up off the mat people, and start fighting BACK!


    Analyzing the Case of Sherrod v Breitbart

    Although many pundits openly admit that Shirley Sherrod deserves her day in court against Andrew Breibart, few seem all that willing to openly say whether she has a chance of winning or not. Herein I take a basic look at the case and the law, and invite practicing attorney's to weigh in...

    Let's start with the original post and video.

    Much of the media has portrayed Breitbart's own commentary on the video as being rather minor, but it is not. It's actually quite extensive, going on to lay out the entire background for the dispute between the Tea Party and NAACP.

    In his view, the Tea Party is completely and totally innocent of the charge of Racism. He claims that Democratic Congressmen staged their walk through the crowds inside the Capital Building - it's not like they WORK THERE OR ANYTHING - in an attempt to provoke Tea Partiers, which he also claims failed.

    But it got even more blatant when Congressmen Andre Carson and John Lewis and other Congressional Black Caucus members staged a walk through the Tea Party crowd in front of the capitol the day before the health care vote. They claimed they were threatened by a violent mob and were subjected to the vile N word slur fifteen times. With the unpopularity of the toxic health care bill that the majority of Americans did not want, the Democrats needed a November strategy. Neutralizing the growing Tea Party movement with charges of racism was clearly its post-health care reform vote priority.

    See, the only accusation of bigotry on the part of the Tea Party was the "N-World" during that one moment even though there were witnesses, it had nothing to do with this...

    Or Mark William's "Colored People Like Slavery" Letter.

    The core of his argument, to cut to the chase, is that the "Real" Racists are the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP.

    The NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus do not want racial harmony. They want political victory, and the race card is their Stradivarius.

    We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.

    In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

    Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

    As we all now know Mrs. Sherrod was not speaking about something that occurred within her "Federal duties" and this actually is indicated within even just this excerpt when she says "I thought the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me". Why would she say that if she was working for the Department of Agriculture?

    This clip also includes her saying "It was revealed to me that it wasn't about was abut haves and have nots" which also shows that she was actually making a point that was broader than race. Also part of the reason, as she describes it, that she didn't want to work with this particular farmer was because "He was trying to show that he was superior to me"... in other words, he was being a bit of a prick, her negative reaction to hm and reluctance to "give hm the full force of what I could do" wasn't just because he was white - he was being an asshole.

    She doesn't refuse to help him, she just gave him a reference to an attorney she thought would give him a fair shake. The point of the story was that he didn't, but what's even more interesting about Breitbart's post is that he didn't stop there.

    He posted a second video.

    The NAACP which has transformed from a civil rights group to a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party and social-justice politics, supports a new America that relies less on individualism, entrepreneurialism and American grit, but instead giddily embraces, the un-American notion of unaccountability and government dependence. Shirley Sherrod, a federal appointee who oversees over a billion dollars of federal funds, nearly begs black men and women into taking government jobs at USDA — because they won’t get fired.

    It’s unfortunate that the NAACP’s recent resolution and false accusations have forced us to show you video 1 when video 2 is the bigger problem. That’s not to say video 1 is not a problem, but this country can ill afford, in this time of economic peril, to waste our time poking and prodding at the racial hornet’s nest that was supposed to have been removed with this post-racial presidency. But now President Obama and the modern-day Democrat party reveal they are anything but post-racial.

    The emerging Tea Party nation understands that the media has focused on the manufactured racial schism while intentionally ignoring the schism between free market thinkers and government expansionists, that the latter of which is brazen in its desire to transform America into a European-model welfare state with a healthy dose of socialism.

    All Sherrod says in the second clip is that it's difficult to fire a Federal Employee, and that's true due to Civil Service rules unless they happen to be a political appointee as Sherrod herself was, at which case they serve at the "Pleasure of the President" and can be removed without any reason or cause at all - just ask David Iglesias. What's so sinister about this statement I can't quite fathom, other than the idea that "black people are using the Government as a Jobs Program paid for on the backs of hard working Whites" or something...

    The basic Legal issues are these... did Breitbart commit Libel?

    LIBEL AND SLANDER occur when a person or entity communicates false information that damages the reputation of another person or entity. Slander occurs when the false and defamatory communication is spoken and heard. Libel occurs when the false and defamatory communication is written and seen. The laws governing libel and slander, which are collectively known as DEFAMATION, are identical.

    A plaintiff who wishes to sue an individual or entity for libel or slander has the burden of proving four claims to a court: First, the plaintiff must show that the DEFENDANT communicated a defamatory statement. Second, the plaintiff must show that the statement was published or communicated to at least one other person besides the plaintiff. Third, the plaintiff must show that the communication was about the plaintiff and that another party receiving the communication could identify the plaintiff as the subject of the defamatory message. Fourth, the plaintiff must show that the communication injured the plaintiff's reputation.

    Even as a layman, this appears to be a slam dunk. But was it truly Defamation?

    Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person's reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.

    So the crux here is that the statement has to be intentionally false and that the defendant has to be aware of the falsity of the statement. Truth is an absolutely defense, but then so is ignorance. If you don't know that your statement is false, then it is not intentional defamation.

    In the case of the New York Times v Sullivan (1964) the Supreme Court established the Actual Malice Standard for the Defamation of Public Figures.

    Actual Malice is defined as "knowledge that the information was false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." Reckless disregard does not encompass mere neglect in following professional standards of fact checking. The publisher must entertain actual doubt as to the statement's truth Actual malice is different from common law malice which indicates spite or ill-will.

    Larry Flynt attempted to invoke the Actual Malice standard in his case Hustler Magazine v Falwell but was rejected since his case involved a parody and satire, not an intentionally false statement - even though Flynt did ultimately prevail in that case.

    It's pretty clear that Breitbart fits the definition of "common law malice" including spite and ill-will when it comes to Democrats, the NAACP, the President anyone associated with the - including Shirley Sherrod - and anyone who would challenge the Tea Party. He does show a blatant disregard of the facts, even of the scant information shown within the truncated version of the video - and makes clearly disprovable claims about them and about Sherrod.

    But is that just intellectual laziness on his part or willful and malicious disregard for the truth?

    I think it might be difficult to meet the "Actual Malice" standard if the only evidence is just this one post, but if a pattern of delibeate malice can be shown by - for example - bringing in the evidence of the Full Length ACORN tapes which were reviewed by the Brooklyn DA and California Attorney General showing that nearly all of Breitbart's claims about them were just as false and malicious as his claims about Sherrod I think Andrew might find himself in a fairly hot kettle for fish.

    Update:There's also the fact that even after the full tape was released, Breitbart was still calling Sherrod "A Racist" - showing that even when he does have the facts, he continued to Defame Her.

    What say you attorneys?


    Obama Admin Increases Deportations by 10-25%

    As Chris Hayes Reports, the Obama Administration has been breaking records on Deportation of suspected Illegal Immigrants, increasing the rate by 10% of Bush final year, and 25% greater than his first year.

    From the Washington Post

    In a bid to remake the enforcement of federal immigration laws, the Obama administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers.

    The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration's 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush's final year in office.

    The effort is part of President Obama's larger project "to make our national laws actually work," as he put it in a speech this month at American University. Partly designed to entice Republicans to support comprehensive immigration reform, the mission is proving difficult and politically perilous.


    The Obama administration has been moving away from using work-site raids to target employers. Just 765 undocumented workers have been arrested at their jobs this fiscal year, compared with 5,100 in 2008, according to Department of Homeland Security figures. Instead, officers have increased employer audits, studying the employee documentation of 2,875 companies suspected of hiring illegal workers and assessing $6.4 million in fines.

    So yet again the reality on the ground is completely at odds with the type of rhetorical we've been hearing about immigration from Administration Critics. Particularly those who support measure like horribly bigoted measures like SB1070. Case in point, Rep. Lamar Smith and Constitution Party Candidate for Governor of Colorado Tom Tancredo who argues that Obama has come close "violating his oath of office" by not enforcing immigration laws.

    Eleven years ago, like every citizen elected to serve in Congress or any person appointed to any federal position, I swore an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.”

    I’ve always thought it significant that the Founders included domestic enemies in that oath of office. They thought liberty was as much at risk from threats within our borders as from outside. ... Mr. Obama is a more serious threat to America than al Qaeda. We know that Osama bin Laden and followers want to kill us, but at least they are an outside force against whom we can offer our best defense. ...

    Mr. Obama’s most egregious and brazen betrayal of our Constitution was his statement to Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, that the administration will not enforce security on our southern border because that would remove Republicans’ desire to negotiate a “comprehensive” immigration bill. That is, to put it plainly, a decision that by any reasonable standard constitutes an impeachable offense against the Constitution.

    A more serious threat than al Qeada? I mean really.

    With his increased crackdown on illegal workplace hirings of undocumented immigrants (levying a over $6.4 million in fines this fiscal year) as well as sending over 12,000 U.S. National Guard Troops to the Border it seems to me that President Obama is doing more to secure our borders than just about any other President in History.

    Yes, it might be fair to say that hasn't completely ended the flow of illegals across our border, but then 30 Years of the War on Drugs hasn't really ended the illicit drug trade either has it?

    What needs to be done, is the creation/restoration of a blue color worker visa, particular since the primary visa available for immigrant workers (H1B) now requires a college degree or special skills like being Neurosurgeon or Biochemist. The reason why have so many people coming here illegally is simply the fact that they the immigration laws are grossly biased against blue color workers and the poor (There is an H2B visa for person who do not quality for the "Special Occupations" within the H1B visa, but it only allows for about 66,000 visitations per year on a seasonal or "One-Time" basis - which is clearly deficient for the wide variety of businesses who are currently employing immigrant workers who literally have no legal path to try and better their lives or escape abject poverty.

    To Qualify for the H1B Visa Program, you must work in a 'specialty occupation': The core Specialty Occupations include: IT, Computing, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Marketing, Advertising, PR, Sales, Recruiting, Engineering (all types), Teaching, HealthCare/Medical, Legal, Lawyers, Networking, Telecoms, Business, Management and Hospitality.

    An H1B visa is typically valid for up to six (6) years and entitles your spouse (husband/wife) and children (under 21) to accompany you and live in the USA on an H4 visa. The H4 dependent visa does not allow your spouse/children to work (unless they get their own H1B visa).

    Of course the idea of allowing manual labor workers to legally come here and compete fairly with American Workers - pay them above the table, providing them workers compensation and health care, while removing the anti-competitive advantage for their employers - is exactly what the Screaming Xenophobes on the right don't want.

    But one thing they can't say, without sounding like a fracking idiot, is that Obama isn't protecting our borders.

    He most certainly is.


    Mythbusting the Republican Battle Plan

    Under the scenario that Republicans gain control of either the House or Senate, exactly what is it we can expect them to do? Even though some have argued they don't need an agenda, a few indicators have begun to peek out - like this tidbit from Congressman Paul Ryan.

    In addition to Michele Bachmann who says "All we should do is issue subpeonas", and John Beohner who want's to completely hamstring the Federal Government's ability to do it's job if Republicans regain the House - Senator John (Reverse Robin Hood) Barraso who wants to repeal the Middle Class Tax Cuts to finance the Cuts for the Rich - it seems the Budget Wunderkind Paul Ryan does have a plan - and he's laid it all over for us right here as brought to you by the guys who've gotten everything they've ever done so spot on - (what with their predicting of the location of the WMD's and all) - The American Enterprise Institute.

    Reading through this is a lot like a trip through Grim's Fairy Tales, with all the original gory endings in tact - it's just one Myth followed by another, followed by another...

    The first myth is that the primary problem we face as a nation have nothing to do with policies enacted - by Republicans.

    I have great respect for President Obama, who surely believes his Progressivist agenda is best for the American people. But America’s well-being rests on America’s timeless truths, and can’t be secured by abandoning our principles. This “new foundation” rests on ideas like the following:

    •Bureaucratic control over private enterprises’ investment decisions;

    •Enormous government spending;

    •Forcing worker training into sectors favored by government rather than empowering individual workers to choose their training and pursue their own destiny;

    •Imposing upon the economy government’s radical energy and environmental overreach;

    •Seizing control and management of the health care sector.

    These ideas, in my judgment, reflect not the foundations of America, but of a European-style social welfare state.

    This view, as usual, ignores the long, long history of Republican President's since Reagan who have consistently increased government spending (Every budget that the 80's Democratic Congress delivered spent LESS than every budget that Reagan asked for) and ratcheted up the power of Government intrusion in the private lives of individuals (Patriot Act, Warrantless Wiretaps) - it also ignores that there was NO Public Option in the Final Health Care Bill (So exactly where is the "Government Takeover"?) and that moving toward green energy and better environmental caretaking isn't just a Whim it's a abslutely neccesity for the survival of our economy, and in many ways - our way of life as fossil fuels continue to dimish and pollute our air and waterways.

    China is investing $Bilions in clean and green energy, in a Market based world, we either keep up or we fall behind.

    But then that's pretty much boiler-plate stuff, the really weird stuff comes soon after. Herein Ryan explains the second Myth, that all our recent financial problems aren't the result of naked bare-knuckled greed - it's all because "Government Backed Entities" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    For one thing, whatever greed drove investors to trade in Mortgage-Backed Securities and similar financial instruments – for greed always plays its part – those “securitization” investments were evolved, packaged, and sold by so-called “Government-Sponsored Enterprises,” principally Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The GSEs were heavily regulated by HUD and other agencies, and they were under close Congressional oversight. Congress itself compelled Fannie and Freddie to provide a secondary mortgage market for uncreditworthy buyers. This meant they would eventually have to cover subprime mortgages under quotas targeted by HUD...and they would have to find a way to resell these risky mortgages to investors.

    There's one big huge flaw in this revisionist theory - since Fannie and Freedie were heavily regulated by HUD they couldn't issue subprime mortgages.

    My only quibble with the gusher of stories this morning on the government’s takeover on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is my usual one—ahistoricism.

    Reading all this, one gets the impression that those politically protected mortgage buyers and fee machines caused the global credit crisis.

    They didn’t.

    The fact is: Wall Street sank Freddie and Fannie, not the other way around.

    This Credit Suisse report (from March 2007 and eerily prescient) reminds us that the government sponsored entities’ share of the overall new mortgage market had fallen to 42 percent by the end of 2006 before shooting up to 76 percent at the end of 2007 (on their way toward 90 percent now) as the market collapsed.

    And that’s the overall market. As Paul Krugman points out, a "subprime borrower is basically someone whose credit wasn’t good enough to qualify for a Fannie- or Freddie-backed mortgage". The subprime market&the really toxic stuff—was always dominated by Wall Street and Wall Street-backed lenders.

    In fact - GSE like Fannie and Freddie were not only blocked by HUD regulations from giving Mortgages to people who couldn't afford them, were prohibited from doing so by law - Cue Paul Krugman.

    Furthermore, while Fannie and Freddie are problematic institutions, they aren’t responsible for the mess we’re in.

    But here’s the thing: Fannie and Freddie had nothing to do with the explosion of high-risk lending a few years ago, an explosion that dwarfed the S.& L. fiasco. In fact, Fannie and Freddie, after growing rapidly in the 1990s, largely faded from the scene during the height of the housing bubble.

    Partly that’s because regulators, responding to accounting scandals at the companies, placed temporary restraints on both Fannie and Freddie that curtailed their lending just as housing prices were really taking off. Also, they didn’t do any subprime lending, because they can’t: the definition of a subprime loan is precisely a loan that doesn’t meet the requirement, imposed by law, that Fannie and Freddie buy only mortgages issued to borrowers who made substantial down payments and carefully documented their income.

    So you see (in Ryan's Fantasy Republican-World) it wasn't the preditory lending practices and dark pool derivatives of corporate entities like Lehman or Goldman or AIG or anyone on Wall Street that caused the Great Recession. The Market didn't FAIL, just because - the MARKET FAILED - it's was because the Big Bad Evil Gubner-ment made them fail, by enticing them with goodies and cookies of rich creamy poor people with no money? Got it?

    Yeah, that's a good fairy tale. But wait it's gets even better - enter the Villians of the Story, the Big, Bad, Dirty, Evil - Progressivists!

    The Progressivist tale is wrong because it misstates the very nature of free enterprise. It presumes that free enterprise is materialistic and selfish. The free market is a game of chance. Success or failure depends on the luck of the draw, and the edge goes to the ruthless. The system of free enterprise is unfair. The moral is this: government must step in to redistribute the wealth and equalize the results for all.

    We have met Skeletor, and he is us.

    Let's be clear - this is the bogeyman construction in full bloom. This is the Myth of the Capitalism Hater, and yet again igores the True Progressive position and view which clearly does support Capitalism, but not without limits and reasonable rules of the Road. No Market can funtion as a Free For All without ground rules designed to protect all the participants from the FEW - repeat: The FEW - who might attempt to gain unfair financial advantage like say - Enron, or Global Crossing, or Adelphia, or AIG, or Goldman.

    Caveat Sucktor - Let the Sucker Beware.

    No, the progressive view is admit the reality that some individuals within a company and some companies as matter of policy are Irresponsible, and that the larger that company may because the more damage it's irresponsible behavior may create. It doesn't presume that all companies are inherently evil, only that it's neccesary to makesure all the traffic signs and safe speed limits are applied - especially to the largest trucks on the economic road - because when they crash, they can take out hundreds and thousands of smaller cars on the marketing highway with them.

    That's all.

    But to people like Ryan, the shining Hero on the Hill - is an Unrepentant Unlimited Uber-Capitalist.

    But the prosperity of America finds its real source, not in government, but in democratic capitalism... people investing, working, and saving in private enterprise. Homes could not be built without private builders, creditors, and workers under the free enterprise system. It’s the source of all wealth, the satisfaction of all material needs, our means of transportation, instant global communications, access to information, it’s the only spring of progress and innovation in health care, education, and on and on.

    Yeah, right and the Goverment providing education and housing loans to GI's returning from WWII, providing the funding to build the Interstate Highway System, and providing the financing and R&D to create a way for computers to share information across distances in order to avoid catastrophic data loss in the advent of Nuclear War had nothing to d with creation of the Internet - other than EVERYTHING.

    Sometimes, many times, government can act to plant a seed and nuture an immature element of our culture and economy until it because mature enough to survive on it's own in the market. Some things may never become financial secure enough to function on their own (and some things can become financial successful even though they are completely socially and culturally worthless - case in point Beiber!), nonetheless they may be elements of our society without which our nation could not continue to function, survive or thrive. Elements like our ROADS! But in right-wing Republican Land, that which is not profitable, is not fit to live.

    Once he finally finished with Aesop's Fables Ryan finally got to the point, and while some was quite predictable (tax the poor, but not the rich) a few of these point I found rather surprisingly Progressivist!

    First there's the return of the Regressivist Flat Tax.
    Here are the major components:

    •First of all: We cannot rest satisfied with permanently high unemployment. America must begin to create new businesses and jobs. We can begin with a pro-growth tax reform. The Roadmap proposes a simple two-tier low-rate personal income tax system: 10% on the first $100,000 of income for couples ($50,000 for singles) and 25% above that. It abolishes the Alternative Minimum Tax, and nearly all loopholes and credits, except for generous personal and family deductions. Taxpayers can either file under the current tax code or this simplified code. Our uncompetitive corporate income tax code will be replaced by a simple 8.5% business consumption tax and investments will be expensed immediately. The Roadmap creates incentives to foster job opportunities and economic growth, while sustaining the revenues to meet our priorities.

    Got that, two tax rates - 10% and 25% - that's it. No Loopholes, NO Credits. This would be a massive shift of the tax burden DOWN to the middle class by eliminate homebuyer credits, interest rate credits, earned income credits which help keep many middle and low income families out of near poverty.

    •Next, it is not possible to grow unless we act to reduce the mountain of debt from unfunded health care and retirement entitlements. The Roadmap was put forth during the last Administration, and reintroduced this past year – before the President signed into law his massive health care overhaul. Going forward, the Roadmap is predicated on its repeal – and offers a consumer-driven replacement.

    Consumer-driven? I read that as Industry Controlled, owned and operated. No More Health Care FOR YOU. But then again...

    •The Roadmap offers universal access to affordable, quality health care by reforming the cost-pushing and discriminatory distortions in our tax code. Along with transparency on price and quality and upfront support for those with pre-existing and chronic conditions, the Roadmap reform tackles the scourge of health inflation with a true patient-centered alternative.

    Price Transparency and quality - you mean the thing that the Exchanges you just said you're going to Repeal will do? Then came the Whopper... Medicare for (almost) All.

    •Everyone over 54 remains in the current Medicare program. For those under 55, the Roadmap plan provides future seniors with the resources they need to choose from a list of diverse Medicare-certified plans, just like the health coverage enjoyed by Members of Congress and Federal employees. The payment grows each year, with more support for those with lower-incomes and higher health costs. To meet Medicaid’s obligations, the Roadmap reform provides low income Americans with financial resources to buy their own health care coverage like everyone else.

    Shiver me timbers, he just suggested lowering the Medicare minimum access age to 55. Also sounds like it supplied subsidies to help people buy plans - WHAT? With MY TAX MONEY? Nooooo!!

    In point of fact, most of Ryan's plan actually mirrors the plan signed into law by President Obama, including State Based Exchanges and tax subsidies for those with lower income (although eliminating some of the subsidies for those farther above the poverty line). Better not let on, but he seems to be pretty far Down with the Socialism.

    Then comes the Personalization of Social Security.

    •Everyone over 54 will stay in the existing Social Security program with no change, but benefits are guaranteed. My plan offers those now under 55 a choice: continue to take part in traditional Social Security, or participate in a retirement system like the one I have as a Congressman. You can invest over a third of your payroll taxes in a guaranteed low risk account which you own, managed by the Social Security Administration, not a stock broker or private investment firm.

    So this is a bit of a return to the Bush Social Security Proposal, invest part of your Social Security funds in Wall Street, only without the Stock Broker elements. Yeah, that's a great idea -- how's everyones 401k doing after 2008-2009? Wanna see 1/3rd of your Social Security go exactly the same way? Join up with this plan, it's a hum dinger.

    And just for even more fun this plan has been Scored by CBO.

    CBO: On Social Security

    Traditional retirement benefits would be reduced below those scheduled under current law for many workers who are age 55 or younger in 2011.

    The Roadmap would also eliminate the income and payroll tax exclusions for
    employment-based health insurance. As a result, more earnings would become taxable for Social Security purposes, thus boosting future benefit payments, and payroll tax revenues credited to the Social Security trust funds would increase.

    So basically Ryan's plan would cut benefits, invest them in the risky stock market and raise taxes at the same time - Nice.

    On Medicare:

    The age of eligibility for Medicare would increase incrementally from 65 (for people born before 1956), as it is under current law, to 69 years and 6 months for people born in 2022 and later. Starting in 2021, new enrollees would no longer receive coverage through the current program but, instead, would be given a voucher with which to purchase private health insurance.

    And instead of lowering the access age to Medicare as he claims, their plan would RAISE the minimum age to 69 - and them replace it for younger people with Health Stamps for people to try and buy care they won't be able to afford in the open market. Peachy.

    It would also have the lovely gem, Medical Savings Accounts...

    The government would provide funding for medical savings accounts (MSAs) for low-income Medicare beneficiaries. Currently, Medicaid pays out-of-pocket expenses that are not, for many low-income beneficiaries, covered by Medicare. The legislation would replace that Medicaid coverage with federal funding of MSAs for those individuals. According to specifications provided by your staff, the federal government initially would contribute $6,600 per year to the MSAs of
    qualifying beneficiaries.

    Private Health Care This year averages more than $7,000 - so thanks for next to nothing, since this won't cut it.

    So what's this do to the budget?

    The Roadmap, in the form that CBO analyzed, would result in less federal spending for Medicare and Medicaid as well as lower tax revenues than projected under CBO’s alternative fiscal scenario (see Table 1). On balance, those changes would reduce federal budget deficits and the federal debt.

    Yay, he's managed to reduce the defecit on the backs of the sick and elderly. I'm sure his mother is so proud, unless she's on Medicare that is.

    So what about actually reducing the cost of Medical Care for all the rest of the population? What about the Bush Era Tax Cuts that have been busting our budget for 9 years and turned what was a surplus into a deficit?









    As it turns out CBO actually didn't analyze the impact of the proposal on the overall cost of Health Care as it is very difficult to predict, which means the plan lacks specific proposals in this area designed (as were proposals such as the Public Option) to actually bring the cost down.

    I think this plan is a pig-in-a-poke that we've seem several times before. Social Security is fiscally sound until 2030, and by expiring the Bush Tax Cuts then trimming out some of the fat in our Military Budget for bases we no need to maintain overseas we could easily bring the deficit under control as we did in the 90's. Contrary to Ryan's claims that we "Don't want to be like Europe" this is a thinly disguised Austerity Plan that I think we would do well do pound the bloody heck out of the Republicans with this November.

    They drew up a "Roadmap" so it were ablidged to run them down with it. Just remember if Republicans take control of the House, besides - shudder - John (Man From Orange World) Beohner becoming Speaker, THIS GUY gets to chair the Budget Committee.


    Sunday, July 25

    Spill Claims not Paid Because BP hasn't Deposited Escrow Money

    Ken Fienberg on both CBS and CNN via Crooks and Liars where he talks up the current "success" of the program.

    Despite all of Feinberg's happy talk above the Press-Register has revealed this.

    BAYOU LA BATRE, Ala. -- Ken Feinberg said today he hasn't been able to start writing claims checks because BP PLC has not yet deposited any money into the $20 billion escrow fund it promised to create.

    Feinberg, who was appointed last month to administer individual and business claims stemming from the oil spill, held an early morning town hall meeting in Bayou La Batre on Saturday before meeting with the Press-Register editorial board in downtown Mobile.

    Feinberg said he is leaning toward giving partial payments to companies and people who are indirectly impacted by the spill -- an outlet store in Foley hurt by the decline in beach traffic, for example.

    He also said he would do something for real estate owners to cover a decrease in property value.

    BP officials and President Barack Obama agreed last month that the oil company would put $5 billion a year over the next four years into an account to pay for spill-related costs, such as claims, environmental restoration and cleanup costs.

    This might just be a bureaucratic snafu, and in the long run may not be a big deal, but when we also look at how BP has treated local Scientist and experts by trying to legally shut them up about what the ecological and environment impacts of the spill has really been...

    BP PLC attempted to hire the entire marine sciences department at one Alabama university, according to scientists involved in discussions with the company's lawyers. The university declined because of confidentiality restrictions that the company sought on any research.

    add to this the very clear fact that clean up workers in the Gulf are still not using Reperators - (after some were threatened with being fired if they brought their own)

    Hugh Kaufman just messaged Crooks and Liars the following, along with a link to the video below:

    CNN may not know what they have documented. Will anybody tell them? Will they figure it out? ...

    CNN documents, on this documentary airing tonight and tomorrow, that the “air smell’s [sic] bad” (it’s full of carcinogenic and other hazardous material in oil and dispersants). None of the cleanup workers are wearing respirators and nobody is testing the air.

    Just like 911 WTC, these workers are gonna be in trouble 5, 10, and 20 years down the line.

    Where is EPA and OSHA?

    Yeah, good question - they've been MIA for quite some time.

    Despite the current Right-Wing Meme that "Obama has been to MEAN to Business, and has scared them to too much change", the fact is that he's actually been pretty toothless in regards to BP.

    If anything U.S. Officials have been flacking for BP, not keeping their "Boot on their Neck".

    And they're certainly not getting in the way while BP hires Prison Labor - working them for up to 12 Hrs a day, 6 hours a day, in 100 degree plus toxic environment.

    Work crews in Grand Isle, Louisiana, still stand out. In a region where nine out of ten residents are white, the cleanup workers are almost exclusively African-American men. The racialized nature of the cleanup is so conspicuous that Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, sent a public letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward on July 9, demanding to know why black people were over-represented in "the most physically difficult, lowest paying jobs, with the most significant exposure to toxins."

    Hiring prison labor is more than a way for BP to save money while cleaning up the biggest oil spill in history. By tapping into the inmate workforce, the company and its subcontractors get workers who are not only cheap but easily silenced—and they get lucrative tax write-offs in the process.


    Work release inmates are required to work for up to twelve hours a day, six days a week, sometimes averaging seventy-two hours per week. These are long hours for performing what may arguably be the most toxic job in America. Although the dangers of mixed oil and dispersant exposure are largely unknown, the chemicals in crude oil can damage every system in the body, as well as cell structures and DNA.

    Did someone say Slavery was over? Fact is - it's not, particularly if you read all of the 13th Amendment which has an bright bold exception for the "Duly Convicted".

    The Oil Spill itself may be stopped for now, but it's long term environmental and health impact remains a giant dark cloud looming just under the surface of our full comprehension, one that is likely to continue taking it's toll - for generations.



    Calling Out Anderson Coopers False Left/Right Equivalency

    Originally posted on Dailykos

    Wherein I Call Out Anderson Cooper for his Lies and Smears about the Netroots supposed "Engaging in the same tactics as the Right" - and Officially Call for him to correct HIMSELF and Apologize.


    Cooper : I mean, I don't -- I don't get -- as somebody who is not particularly partisan on the left or the right, I try not to view things through the lens of being liberal or being conservative. I don't get -- it just seems like, whether you're a conservative or whether you're a liberal and you have a blog, it doesn't seem like the truth really matters. It's just, you say whatever you want to say, whether you're on the left or the right, to prove your point, and if you're wrong, no one ever says they're wrong. No one ever seems to apologize.

    The first problem with Coopers construction is that it's based on a false premise, that those on the left - writ large - are deliberately engaging in factionalism where truth and facts becoming secondary to ideology and partisan gain.

    Anyone whose spent more than 30 seconds on any major progressive site, particularly this one, knows that's not true because We Self edit and Self Correct. We do point out mistakes, we do even Take Down Posts which other members find racially, religiously or otherwise offensive. I understand Cooper's effort to remain "non-partisan" by proclaim "both sides do it" - but the effort to achieve False Neutrality often leads to creating a False Reality.

    Cooper has Smeared us as Liars as bad as Brietbart and he deserves a response.

    Certainly, anyone can make an honest mistake, anyone can have an intemperate moment and shoot off the cuff, the question is - can you admit and fix that mistake or do you double-down on it because your ego and ideology demand it?

    Can you admit it when you're wrong?

    Anderson's charge is that both the left and the right equally fail in this test.

    i submit He. IS. Wrong. Not everybody does it. Not everybody lies.

    Generalizing this broadly as he has, is just as offensive and wrong-headed as a Racial Smear would be. Bring Specifics Anderson or else you must take back the charge.

    certainly there are general tendencies between left and right, but lets be honest here. The general stock-in-trade of the right has been in creating and maintaining a pack of falsehoods that support their economic and social agendas, the general path of the Left has been to counter those falsehoods with Facts, even when they don't necessary lead where we might like them to. If there is a fundamental difference between the two ideologies, it's the one (the Right) operates with absolute certainty, and then fills in the gaps later - while the other (the Left) generally operates with constant questioning, correction and testing of our theories to ensure their provability.

    The Left argues with each other constantly and openly, which is why we often seem in disarray even in victory - the Right functions in constant Lock Step, without question, without dissent, without allowing truth to spoil their certainty. Trying to get the Left all going the same direction is literal like herding cats, getting the Right to go all the same way simply requires pointing out "where the Liberals are" and they automaticaly go stampeding the other way at FULL Warp.

    This is of course a generalization, and there are clearly exceptions in both directions, but I think it generally holds true.

    Wanna see what happens when someone goes off the approved reservation in Right-wing World? This...

    As of this very moment Markos Moulitsas founder of this site is currently on suspension from MSNBC for an intemperate tweet, not because what he sais was factually wrong, it wasn't - it's because the facts hurt Joe Scarborough's feelings. Meanwhile conservatives such as Liz Cheney can personally insult MSNBC hosts Olbermann and Maddow and still appear on the network (perhaps because neither of them is the great big Crybaby that Scarborough is or perhaps the Truth of what Markos said stings far more than the Lies of Cheney - take your pick.)

    If the Left has been criticized, it hasn’t been because of a lack of facts, it’s been for their inflammatory cartoons and the intensity of their editorial language (yes, we will drop an F-BOMB on a dime) – but that’s it.

    In this I think it’s illustrative to note how different the reaction to those cartoons/signs has been coming from left and right.

    In 2006, Firedoglake published an editorial cartoon of Joe Lieberman in Blackface – did they apologize? Hell, yes – they did.

    I sincerely apologize to anyone who was genuinely offended by the choice of images accompanying my blog post today on the Huffington Post. It’s also important to note that I do not, nor have I ever worked for Ned Lamont’s campaign. However, at their request, I removed the image earlier today.

    Unfortunately, Senator Lieberman’s campaign has used this in attempt to hurt Ned and score political points, mustering their own faux indignation in attempt to further distract from the issues important to the voters of Connecticut.

    In 2007 someone on Dailykos posted another inflammatory picture of Joe Lieberman with his hand in George Bush’s pants.

    Let me ask you something Anderson – whose career did that destroy? Who was lied about? No one in their right mind thinks Joe Lieberman is gay (and frankly around these parts – we wouldn’t care, he might even get a parade if he was) but the TRUTH in that picture is that after 2006 Joe Lieberman became George Bush’s favorite neo-Democrat lackey. Editorial Cartooning has a long history and sometimes the point being made may not be nice to say, they should still be essential true and this one is true. Yet, who took that event and immediately turned it "Racial" when Lieberman's race and religion had nothing - literally NOTHING - to do with the point of this cartoon?

    Bill O’Reilly – that's who.

    O'Reilly: This is what the Kos traffic's in. The fact that these democratic candidates would support a website with a picture like that - is hard to believe.

    Agree with him or not, Senator Lieberman is a Patriot and a man of conviction. Right now he's opposing the loons in the Senate who don't want to protect American citizens who report possible terrorist activity from lawsuits. Lieberman deserves respect, not hatred.

    Because of one picture (which by the way was deleted and highly criticized when it appeared) and some intemperate (and massively HR'd) comments he called us a “Hate Site”, he said we were “Worse than David Duke”.

    One picture and a 100,000 people who regularly visit and post here are “Worse then David Duke?” I bring this up because this is the standard that Bill O’Reilly and FOX News Set.

    One Picture (even if people on your own side complain about it) equals David Duke. Got it? ONE PICTURE!

    Here’s shocker for you Anderson, some of the fact checking done on this site is better than that on CNN. We’ve fact checked (Jeopardy Champion) Wolf Blizter, we’ve fact checked Dr. Sanjay Gupta and found them both severaly wanting. Right now I’m Fact Checking You

    The accusation that the Left regularly traffics in LIES in order to unfairly smear the Right is False. It can't be backed up, it can't be proven.

    If one or two rude pictures of Joe Lieberman equals "David Duke and the KKK" - what's this equal?

    We don’t have to lie about them, all we have to do is accurate quote them and teh crazy is obvious for all (or nearly all) to see. Why don't you ask Eric Boehlert about that, because point out their lies is really all that Media Matters does.

    You're wrong Anderson, and to help prove my point - I DARE YOU to prove me wrong. In fact, I Double DOG Dare you back up your bogus claim.

    It hasn’t been the Left unfairly smearing the Right, it’s been almost entirely the Opposite for quote some time. That's not a partisan argument, it's simply Factual.

    Don't think at least Some Conservatives are Anti-Obama because of Race? Check this out.

    Does this mean all of them are motivated by Race? Of course, not. Only Janeane Garofalo has suggested such a thing and here on Dailykos - We Disagreed With Her.

    I'm not a big fan of false civility or political correctness. The web is blunt, sometimes bitingly so - but that is a completely different proposition from having facts completely out of wack.

    The Tea Party isn't being called out simply for being Racist - it's because all of their underlying arguments are Factually Wrong.

    There are no Death Panels. Obama was born in Hawaii, not Kenya. He's not a Muslim, he's not a Socialist or Communist or Marxist. The truth is that he's a Centrist/Corporatist with minor Progressive Leanings.

    ACORN was not involved in a deliberate massive Voter Fraud Scheme, and they were not Criminally Corrupt - the Brooklyn DA, the California Attorney General and the Congressional Research Service all agree despite what Breibart and his Convict Pal O'Keefe says.

    The argument that Joe Lieberman was going out of his way to service the needs of the Republican President and Republican Party is a valid argument, he went so far as to campaign for John McCain - so although the image was rude, IT WAS TRUE in spirit.

    But is there ANY TRUTH to any of this...?

    Or this?

    Or this?

    Or this?

    Or this?

    Or this?

    Where is the equivalence on the Left to any of this?

    But while all this is going on we've also had outbreaks of violence. The Shooting at the Holocaust Museum by a Racist Birther, Gregory Guisti who threatened Nancy Pelosi's Life, White Powder sent to Rep. Anthony Weiner's Offices, the Hutaree Militia and their plan to Murder Cops and Blow-Up their Funeral, the Pittsburgh Cop Killer who didn't want Obama to Take His Guns Away, James Adkisson who shot and killed Liberals at a Knoxville Unitarian Church, the Wingnut from Maine who was trying to build a Radiological Dirty Bomb, James Stack flying his plane into the IRS Building, the Christian Hate Group Terrorizing Amarillo Texas... and this latest attempted attack on the ACLU and Tides Foundation in San Francisco.

    While the Left has occasionally used some off-color visual and verbal jabs, they haven't deliberately and repeatedly LIED, they haven't issued Death Threats, let alone actual violence on anyone. If anything they've been fighting against the lies and rising tide of Hate and Fact-Free Fear that people like Breitbart, Limbaugh, Malkin, O'Reilly and Beck have repeatedly, incessantly promoted.

    Congressman Clyburn and Lewis were called the N-Word - there were witnesses! Just as there was tape from ABC News of Barney Frank being called "Faggot". Pretend they didn't say the N-Word, all you want Andrew - they DID say that - that's the truth.

    The problem with the Tea Party isn't so much with the ones who made those statements, those are only a few people, it's with the majority of them including Breitbart who refuse to own up to that minority and take responsibility for their still being in their group.

    We kicked the Lieberman picture off the site, they stand their and smile with the "Obama the Witch-Doctor/Money" signs, or else try to blame those people signs on Democrats. Are you seeing the difference? No matter what, they refuse to take responsible action unless forced.

    It took One Rude Tweet to get Markos bounced from MSNBC, but even after this....

    [R]epeat after me: Islam is a 7th Century Death Cult coughed up by a psychotic pedophile and embraced by defective, tail sprouting, tree swinging, semi-human, bipedal primates with no claim to be treated like human beings or even desirable mammals for that matter.

    And this...

    Dear Mr. Lincoln

    We Coloreds have taken a vote and decided that we don’t cotton to that whole emancipation thing. Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!

    Mark Williams didn't quietly finally leave the Tea Party Express, until yesterday.

    You think what they do and what we do is equivalent?

    Not hardly.

    Do some damn Due Diligence and correct the record Anderson, or else be considered as just as much of a Joke as Brietbart.


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