Tag Archives: broken government

Guess what FOX News is talking about?

The WWII Memorial in D.C. that Obama closed. Apparently he still refuses to explain why he hates Americas vets.

Because nothing else happened tonight.

Two things – entirely unconnected

Part the firstest: f*ck iGoogle. (Can anyone recommend another homepage I can customize? I’m on Firefox.)

Part the secondary:

It’s all about the little guy

http://newsbusters.org/sites/default/files/main_photos/2013/August/Hannity%20Limbaugh%20O%27Reilly.jpg?1377700924http://blogs.kansas.com/weblog/files/kochs7.jpg

Never doubt that these people care deeply about the vast swath of Americans who believe their every word! Never doubt it!

They know America will be destroyed if everyone can afford health care for their kids. Destroyed I tell you!

And, according to them, they’ll save us from health care, a dismal fate, and they are brave. Brave I tell you!

  • Rush Limbaugh – NET WORTH $400 million
  • Sean Hannity – NET WORTH $39 million
  • Rick Scott – NET WORTH $85 million (down from a reported $250 million in 2010 after he spent $75 million of his own money on his 2010 campaign for FL governor and since it’s rumored he’ll spend $100 million of his own money for the 2014 election . . . puzzling numbers but then I was never very good at math.)
  • Koch brothers – NET WORTH more billions that I can count
  • Sarah Palin – NET WORTH $16 million
  • Rupert Murdoch – NET WORTH $13 billion
  • Donald Trump – NET WORTH $150 million
  • Anne Coulter – NET WORTH $9 million
  • Glenn Beck – NET WORTH $150 million
  • Dick Cheney – NET WORTH $12 million
  • Bill O’Reilly – NET WORTH $75 million
  • Newt Gingrich – NET WORTH $7 million (which is a disgrace since he’s earned $100 million since he left government)

 

As long as they keep it off the front page, this should be fine, yes?

. . . the exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress have remained open throughout the shutdown. . . the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs.  . . . cleaning and maintenance has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. . . . the decision to keep the gym open came directly from Speaker Boehner’s office. Meanwhile, the staff gym available to Congressional staff has been closed. It also appears that the members gym in the Senate remains open on similar terms.

Notice that the staff gym is closed. Charming.

(If you need a giggle, google ‘Congressional gyms” as I just did and check out whose image dominates. If you guessed Paul Ryan, you would be wrong. It’s all selfies of tht body-proud camera hog and failed politician, Anthony Weiner. I guess he’ll live in image infamy, mostly without clothes.)

The President being presidential

I’m listening to an Obama press conference. It’s been going on for a while and he’s answering a lot of questions.

He sounds like the man who ran for office in ’08. Clear, detailed answers. Solid explanations of how the economy works – at home and around the world. Utterly different from the usual sputtering defensive stance.

If the American people heard more like this, we’d be in a whole different place.

UPDATE: Just checking out Balloon Juice and they seemed to like it too. Plus they have links to vid and transcript.

ETA: Presser concluded. From this day forward, October 8th shall be known as National Pony Day in honor of President Obama’s stellar performance. Well, I’ll observe NPD, anyway. It was a tonic for any liberal who longed to see the Tea Party loons get kicked in the junk repeatedly. I’ll post a video and transcript when I can find one.

ETA: Transcript and video via WaPo here. Watch it and rejoice!

The very first rule of reporting: tell the reader ‘who, what, when, where, why’. So where’s the ‘why’?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1f/James_Abram_Garfield,_photo_portrait_seated.jpg

Okay, it’s true. I did it..

Here’s a bit of  incomplete reporting on a recent “outrage-of-the-day” claimed to  result from that damn Obama government shutdown – this is from National Review; for hyperbolic end-of-the-Republic rhetoric, visit less reliable outlets elsewhere where the sputtering abounds:

“With the government shutdown, many GS [government services] and contract priests who minister to Catholics on military bases worldwide are not permitted to work – not even to volunteer,” Schlageter wrote. “During the shutdown, it is illegal for them to minister on base and they risk being arrested if they attempt to do so.”

Why would that be? Surely there’s a reason but perhaps National Review simply ran out of space.

Let us board the way-back-machine and visit, for example, the Gingrich shutdown of 1995. Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees were furloughed. Many of them tried to get around the rules and work anyway; turns out they found themselves in a spot of trouble. Why was that?

It was pretty much for the same reason they would be in trouble now – subject to disciplinary action, criminal charges even, if they violate the rules*.

Allow me to quote an email from a family friend in DC who is a long-time Federal employee; he’s been locked out of his office since Tuesday:

 . . . the General Counsel listed what would happen to us if we did any work during the shutdown, including up to two years of prison. . . I cannot find out what is happening with the grass roots grantees I work with in Latin America – much less process their next disbursement.  I can’t even volunteer my time.

Ah, just like those Catholic priests! And here’s why – our friend goes on:

This is thanks to the Anti-Deficiency Act* which prohibits the government to spend money which hasn’t been appropriated and puts the fear of God into government supervisors.

The Anti-Deficiency Act was initially enacted – wait for it – in 1884. James Garfield was President. Major amendments occurred in 1950 and 1982. Any employee or supervisor who “knowingly and willfully” violates any of the law’s provisions can face punishments of up to $5,000 in fines and two years in prison, according to the GAO.

I don’t see any mention of the Anti-Deficiency Act in The National Review story but I’m confident it’ll be included in all those FOX News stories to follow.

The more things change . . . from about ten years ago

From niece Kate who finds good things:

 

Seriously?

Ezra Klein yesterday (formatting added by Moe):

The House GOP’s debt limit bill — obtained by the National Review — isn’t a serious governing document. It’s not even a plausible opening bid. It’s a cry for help. In return for a one-year suspension of the debt ceiling, House Republicans are demanding:

  • a year-long delay of Obamacare,
  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s tax reform plan,
  • the Keystone XL pipeline,
  • more offshore oil drilling,
  • more drilling on federally protected lands,
  • rewriting of ash coal regulations,
  • a suspension of the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate carbon emissions,
  • more power over the regulatory process in general,
  • reform of the federal employee retirement program,
  • an overhaul of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations,
  • more power over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s budget,
  • repeal of the Social Services Block Grant, more means-testing in Medicare,
  • repeal of the Public Health trust fund,
  • and more.

It’s tempting to think that this is Boehner teaching his conference a lesson. They told him what they wanted, and he’s going to let them have it — good and hard. House Republicans are walking into the debt-ceiling negotiations with an opening bid that makes them look ridiculous. This looks like an Onion parody of what the House’s debt-ceiling demands might be. It’s a wonder it’s not written in comic sans.

It’s this way because we want it this way

universalhealthcare_posterFrom Bloombery News, this is something that’s been screamingly obvious, and widely known. It has, however, been barred from any examination of American health care reforms. Because Denial isn’t just a streetcar, it is a national state of mind.

Americans are dying sooner and living with more illnesses than residents of Slovenia and other less prosperous countries . . . the U.S. is getting a poor return on money it spends on health care.

. . . lose more years of life to heart disease, lung cancer, preterm birth complications, diabetes and more . . . than most of 34 other developed countries from 1990 to 2010..

The study comes from the famously socialist Journal of the American Medical Association.

The U.S. failed to keep up with other nations in improvements in health care despite spending most per capita . . . U.S. death rate fell to 27th place in 2010 from 18th place in 1990.

Anything here you didn’t already know about?

Looks like today is ‘Posting-a-bunch-of-pictures-and-graphs-day’

Like this one via cousin Liz (family day too?) - this is from her Facebook page where she says “Now it’s all coming together . . . “. So much for “Representatives’ being representative.

congress wealth

and thus they reach perfection . . .

See, there is justice.

Elizabeth Warren asks the right question. Gets no answers.

Why I love this woman – speak truth to power Senator, make them squirm.

Another slap upside the face for the people we keep electing

banging_head_on_the_wall_tPublic Policy Polling has again asked America how we’re feeling about our Congress Critters. I know you already know, but just for fun . . .

Our newest national poll finds that Congress only has a 9% favorability rating with 85% of voters viewing it in a negative light. We’ve seen poll after poll after poll over the last year talking about how unpopular Congress is but really, what’s the difference between an 11% or a 9% or a 7% favorability rating? So we decided to take a different approach and test Congress’ popularity against 26 different things. And what we found is that Congress is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, and even Nickelback.

What’s it going to take? (The whole embarrassment is here.)

And what’s Nickelback?

My way! My way!

So, Harry Reid wants to amend the filibuster rules and Mitch McConnell is shocked, shocked I tell you because Harry dares to propose that the majority should rule on this matter.

In his Wonkblog at The Washington Post today, Ezra Klein takes a look (great read) and notes that while McConnell weeps upon the sacred steps of the Senate decrying any changes to the rules (as did the Dems before him) and claims the filibuster to be a historical sacrament . . . well, here’s some real history:

The American system of government was built to protect minority voices, but the Founding Fathers explicitly rejected designing the Congress around a supermajority requirement. In Federalist 22, Alexander Hamilton savaged the idea of a supermajority Congress, writing that “its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of government and to substitute the pleasure, caprice or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent or corrupt junta, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.”

A thought. A scam. A crime.

VOTER ID: I have absolutely no problem with voter ID. My problem is with 1) making it difficult, and 2) rushing it. Voter ID? Not a bad idea. The way they’re doing it? That’s suppression.

NEW STUPID GOP MEME: “In 1962, six percent of Americans got federal entitlements. Now, it’s 35 percent.” Clever. Of course 1962 was before there was Medicare.

CYNICAL MUCH?: Our Congress Critters have made clear once again that they are incapable of acting, even to save  the nation from the bullet they themselves aimed directly at 320 million Americans - the one that requires automatic spending cuts of $900 billion in January 2013.  So, diversion is called for. Time for a shiny new thing. What to do? Why, pass a new bill, The Sequestration Transparency Act. A Nebraska newspaper describes it thusly: “having proven incapable . . . they now indignantly demand to know how the President plans to cut spending.” Not them, the President. Neat.

Must. Look. Away.

From The Hill just now . . . someone should take this gentleman into a quiet corner and calm him down. Maybe give him some milk and cookies.

Report: Rep. Steve King mulling bill to repeal everything Obama has signed

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), an outspoken critic of just about everything President Obama supports, is considering introducing a bill that would repeal everything Obama has signed into law.

Guns. Why.

Dollars spent lobbying our Congress Critters: PRO – $4.3 million; ANTI – $240K. And that is how our government works. Any questions?

This is about right. Yup.

I was just reading my way around Under The Mountain Bunker (‘Come for the apocolypse - stay for the coffee’) and came upon this Tom Tomorrow panel. 

Suck on this ALEC. Your day is passing.

Sometimes the blinders are lifted. And sometimes people do the right thing. ALEC is bleeding members. Really important members. Take that you damn NRA.

Now maybe a few of our State legislatures might try writing laws themselves again, if they haven’t forgotten how.

Five more companies, including Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ), the No. 1 computer maker, have left the controversial American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) since the Feb. 26 killing of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, Fla

ALEC is a Washington, D.C.-based group that lobbies for laws in state legislatures, including the “stand your ground” law. George Zimmerman, 28, who’s been charged with second-degree murder in the case, has cited the law as part of his defense.

The others to resign are CVS Caremark (NYSE: CVS), Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE), private MillerCoors LLC and BestBuy (NYSE: BBY), respective giants in drugstores, tractors, beer and electronics retailing.

Last month, Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), the No. 3 PC maker, quit ALEC after the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and other liberal groups launched anti-ALEC activities. Nearly 30 companies and nonprofits have quit by now.

Say hello to America’s debtors’ prisons. The 19th century is all the fashion, bitches!

Did you know about this? I didn’t. (Charles Dickens however was very familiar with this particular script.)

Here’s the story at Naked Capitalism from 2010. It’s not only still going on, it’s far worse today. And in the new American way, we’ve invited private companies to handle the matter, with enough profits to – ahem – make a few campaign contributions to their favorite pols. It’s a whole new growth industry. (Because Elvis-forbid that States should add public sector jobs! If it’s jobbed out, and thus off the State payroll, and even though it’s more costly (in more ways than one), our elected officials then can’t be accused of adding government jobs when they run for re-election. Sweet.

The practice is spreading because it’s such a good economic model – spend State money to imprison debtors, then close them off from any avenue by which they could repay that debt. And in most cases, add a few fees and let them compound. Brilliant, yes?  And it’s so rightous. And godly.

Here’s a  CBS News story from April of this year: 

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn’t pay a medical bill — one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn’t owe. “She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,” The Associated Press reports. “But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.”

Although the U.S. abolished debtors’ prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don’t pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff’s deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up, according to the AP.

I especially liked this part:

Some states also apply “poverty penalties,” including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when people are unable to pay all their debts at once, according to a report by the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender.

Shit lobbyists say (I know, I’m late to the game)

Lobbyists write legislation, they take your representatives out to lunch (they can pay for it if both diners are standing, not sitting), they throw fundraisers, they abide by absurdly specific rules to avoid appearance of graft and bribery, but nonetheless, Lobbyists influence your government for the benefit of corporate interests.

http://www.unitedrepublic.org

http://www.republicreport.org

http://www.sofapundit.com

Newt keeps a straight face. Lessons from Mrs. G the Third?

Gingrich’s characterization of his activities at his own lobbying firm is simply breathtaking. The media should be on the floor and laughing out loud at this one.

Just saw this at The Washington Examiner (new conservative paper in DC, headed by Micahel Barone and Byron York). Good for them. They took a look, stepped back and took another look, and then headlined their story:

Newt Gingrich was a lobbyist, plain and simple.

. . . we know he was paid consultant for drug makers. That’s the first criterion for being a drug lobbyist.

Here’s the second criterion: While some consultants simply provide strategy or advice, Gingrich directly contacted lawmakers in an effort to win their votes.

Three former Republican congressional staffers told me that Gingrich was calling around Capitol Hill and visiting Republican congressmen in 2003 in an effort to convince conservatives to support a bill expanding Medicare to include prescription-drug subsidies. Conservatives were understandably wary about expanding a Lyndon Johnson-created entitlement that had historically blown way past official budget estimates. Drug makers, on the other hand, were positively giddy about securing a new pipeline of government cash to pad their already breathtaking profit margins.

One former House staffer told me of a 2003 meeting Continue reading

Sunday funny

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway outside Washington DC. Nothing’s moving. Suddenly, a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls it down and asks, “What’s going on?”

“Terrorists have kidnapped Congress! They’re asking for a $100 million dollar ransom. Otherwise, they’re going to douse them all in gasoline and set them on fire. We’re going from car to car, collecting donations.”

“How much is everyone giving, on average?” the driver asks.

The man replies, “Roughly a gallon.”

(Thanks to friend Jane.)

Damn hippie

They haz met the enemy, and they iz them

Lookee here.

Members of Congress had a collective net worth of more than $2 billion in 2010, a nearly 25 percent increase over the 2008 total, according to a Roll Call analysis of Members’ financial disclosure forms

Why Occupy Wall Street? Here’s why.

The surprise $5.00 debit card fee banks recently imposed on their customers is going away.  Bank of American, Sun Trust, JP Morgan Chase and others are now trying to tiptoe off the front pages.

We have listened to our customers very closely over the last few weeks and recognize their concern with our proposed debit usage fee,” David Darnell, the bank’s co-chief operating officer, said in a statement.

JPMorgan Chase & Co and Wells Fargo & Co last week decided to cancel test programs, while SunTrust Banks Inc and Regions Financial Corp said on Monday they would end monthly charges and reimburse customers.

For most Americans, the fee was a step too far from those ‘job creators’ who earlier wallowed in ugly, amoral behaviors screwing not just us but each other, and sent us into a four year trailspin of a recession that could take as long as a decade to repair.

This time, I think those ‘bankers’ peeked out their windows and were a bit frightened by what they saw.  So I’ll call this a victory for Occupy Wall Streeters around the nation and around the world.

Thomas Friedman (forever the inspiration for the wartime Friedman Unit, or the F.U. for short), reminds us this week about one Citigroup transgression for which they’ve just been fined $285million (chump change these days), a transgression emblematic of the duplicitous and amoral behavior that hurt us all so badly.

. . .  with one hand, Citibank sold a package of toxic mortgage-backed securities to unsuspecting customers — securities that it knew were likely to go bust — and, with the other hand, shorted the same securities — that is, bet millions of dollars that they would go bust.     

According to the SEC complaint:

. . . Citigroup exercised “significant influence” over choosing which $500 million of the $1 billion worth of assets in the deal, and the global bank deliberately chose collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s, built from mortgage loans almost sure to fail. According to The Wall Street Journal, the S.E.C. complaint quoted one unnamed C.D.O. trader outside Citigroup as describing the portfolio as resembling something your dog leaves on your neighbor’s lawn. “The deal became largely worthless within months of its creation,” The Journal added. “As a result, about 15 hedge funds, investment managers and other firms that invested in the deal lost hundreds of millions of dollars, while Citigroup made $160 million in fees and trading profits.”

For decades we’ve let them indulge in the worst form of crony capitalism without the rule of law that should govern such institutions. Unbridled greed took hold. And it’s been destroying capitalism. It is anti-capitalist.

Friedman goes on:

. . . .what happened to us? Our financial industry has grown so large and rich it has corrupted our real institutions through political donations. As Senator Richard Durbin. . .  bluntly said in a 2009 radio interview, despite having caused this crisis, these same financial firms “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.”       

Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery. One consumer group using information from Opensecrets.org calculates that the financial services industry spent $2.3 billion on federal campaign contributions from 1990 to 2010, which was more than the health care, energy, defense, agriculture and transportation industries combined.

We can’t afford this any longer.

Indeed we cannot. We now stand witness to the destruction of what it took us 250 years to build.

I don’t see anyone with power stepping up, leaving it up to the people.  And, no matter the tired 1960′s stereotypes the right is so enthralled with, that is why we have Occupy Wall Street.

Rep. Cantor dances to my drummer

Serendipity!!

It’s mere hours since I posted Uncle Jay and his delightful video mocking the House Calendar (from 2010), and here comes Majority Leader Cantor, of the United States House of Representatives with the official 2012 House Calendar. Looks like our congress critters are going to be in session a full 109 days. This is sadly par for the course and we know there’s no reason to work a little overtime.

 

Oh well, at least that means more cool CSpan programming.

How is this healthy for a nation? It isn’t. It’s destructive.

We need to fix this or it’ll ruin us.

WASHINGTON — The top 1 percent of earners more than doubled their share of the nation’s income over the last three decades, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday . . .

In this report, the budget office found that from 1979 to 2007, average inflation-adjusted after-tax income grew by 275 percent for the 1 percent of the population with the highest income. For others in the top 20 percent of the population, average real after-tax household income grew by 65 percent.

By contrast, the budget office said, for the poorest fifth of the population, average real after-tax household income rose 18 percent.

And for the three-fifths of people in the middle of the income scale, the growth in such household income was just under 40 percent.

This is why [fill in your favorite gripe here] isn’t working.


Thanks Earl and Gene

‘splains a lot now, doesn’t it

from chrispiasck