Friday, April 29, 2011

Round Two Here We Go

This is a bit old, but for anyone who hasn't seen it, I give you the most absurd (and as RMNB put it, the most jinxiest) painting you will ever see:

Let's Go Caps!

Train of Thought Lounge: SebastiAn

This video is fucking awesome:

Workers Memorial Day

Startling statistics:
This year is historic for workers’ safety and health. It is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 workers—most of them young immigrant women—were killed, trapped behind locked doors with no way to escape. This year is also the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the right of workers to safe jobs.

Since 1970, when the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed, workplace safety and health conditions have improved. But too many workers remain at serious risk of injury, illness or death, as demonstrated by the series of major workplace tragedies that occurred this past year: a horrific explosion at the Massey Energy Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia that killed 29 coal miners—the worst coal mine disaster in 40 years; an explosion at the Kleen Energy Plant in Middletown, Conn., that killed six workers and another at the Tesoro Refinery in Washington State that killed seven workers; and the BP/Transocean Gulf Coast oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and caused a massive environmental and economic disaster.

In 2009, according to preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,340 workers were killed on the job—an average of 12 workers every day—and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. More than 4.1 million work-related injuries and illnesses were reported, but this number understates the problem. The true toll of job injuries is two to three times greater—about 8 million to12 million job injuries and illnesses each year.
Often lost in the right's assault against organized labor is the importance that unions play in creating and enforcing a safe workplace. No one should have to risk their lives trying to make a living, organized workplaces help make that possible.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where's the Proof?

The greatest threat to our nation is no more!
WASHINGTON -- The White House released on Wednesday President Barack Obama's "long form" birth certificate, the document whose absence has long been at the heart of the conspiracy-riddled discussion over Obama's legitimacy to serve as the nation's commander in chief.

The move came as a surprise to the press corps, many of whom had not shown up for Wednesday's early-morning White House briefing. By the time word had spread that Obama would be making a 9:45 a.m. statement on the matter, however, the top anchors at all the networks had scurried into the briefing room.

Once there, they received a presidential scolding for their concern with "silliness." Obama began his five-minute statement with the complaint that he wouldn't be able to get the networks to break into their regularly scheduled programming for a speech on policy proposals.

"I know that there is going to be a segment of people for which no matter what we put out, this issue will not be put to rest," Obama said. "But I am speaking for the vast majority of the American people as well as for the press. We do not have time for this kind of silliness. We have better stuff to do. I have got better stuff to do. We have got big problems to solve."

"We are not going to be able to do it if we are distracted, we are not going to be able to do it if we spend time vilifying each other ... if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers," the president declared earlier.

The document released by the White House differs from the one that Obama's aides made public during the 2008 presidential campaign. Instead of a "certification" of live birth, this was a "certificate," clearly recording that the president was born on Aug. 4, 1961 in the Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu.

For years, Obama's circle of aides had resisted calls to make the latter form public, noting that a certification is legally sound and what any citizen of Hawaii receives upon requesting documents of birth. And indeed, for some time, that explanation -- supported by a a wide swath of other contemporaneous evidence - seemed to suffice.

But some who challenged the president's citizenship remained unsatisfied, and in recent weeks they found a high-profile megaphone for their cause: business tycoon and presidential flirt Donald Trump.
Well, thank god that's behind us. Although this hasn't ever been an issue for anyone with a brain, and people who believed in this bullshit before aren't going to change just because he's offered more proof.

The fact that Obama even wasted his time responding to shit like this is mildly annoying.

The fact that a clearly racist conspiracy theory has gotten enough media attention that it got a response from the White House is depressing on so many levels it's hard to quantify. Baratunde Thurston (Jack Turner of the great Jack and Jill Politics) posted an unbelievably moving response to the press conference that captured much of that emotion, and is very much worth watching.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Atlas Everyone Shrugged

It's a sad day for the captains of the Ayn Rand themed movie making industry:
After a middling performance during its opening weekend that was hyped in some quarters (i.e., The Hollywood Reporter), the per-screen average for this amateurish Ayn Rand adaptation (even Kyle could only muster 2.5 stars' worth of enthusiam for the movie, though he liked its message) plunged to an alarming $1,890 from $5,640 during its opening frame. Overall, the weekend's take was a scant $879,000 -- a whopping 48 percent drop despite adding 166 locations. Which certainly suggest they're running out of audience quick.

That means that at some locations, distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures will be writing checks to theaters to cover the difference between receipts and operating expenses. The only way they're likely to get the 1,000 screens the producers say they want next weekend is to rent them. And, as Kyle put it at his personal blog, "Whether the sequels get made is purely a matter of how much desire the producers have for losing money.''
There are two very upsetting things about this development:

1. J.N. wasn't in the country to see the movie with me during it's weekends (2) in theaters.

2. The glorious hand of the free market most likely won't allow them to make a sequel(s)... which means we are being robbed of a potentially brilliant third installment. You know, the one that would have included the entirely of John Galt's 80 page book ending monologue and changed cinema forever.

It's hard to fathom something funnier than an Ayn Rand movie being put to death by the free market, and then subsidized heavily back into theaters. This is a way to stick by your principles that Rand would have truly admired.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Calling His Bluff

Kudos to Obama for calling more attention to this: (via atrios)
While there is no silver bullet to address rising gas prices in the short term, there are steps we can take to ensure the American people don’t fall victim to skyrocketing gas prices over the long term. One of those steps is to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks to the oil and gas industry and invest that revenue into clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Our outdated tax laws currently provide the oil and gas industry more than $4 billion per year in these subsidies, even though oil prices are high and the industry is projected to report outsized profits this quarter. In fact, in the past CEO’s of the major oil companies made it clear that high oil prices provide more than enough profit motive to invest in domestic exploration and production without special tax breaks. As we work together to reduce our deficits, we simply can’t afford these wasteful subsidies, and that is why I proposed to eliminate them in my FY11 and FY12 budgets.

I was heartened that Speaker Boehner yesterday expressed openness to eliminating these tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Our political system has for too long avoided and ignored this important step, and I hope we can come together in a bipartisan manner to get it done.
The likelyhood of this happening is probably nonesistant, but when Boehner says something like that, it's good to try and make him actually do something about it.

Also, as atrios points out, it's good of the White House to bring this up in relation to rising gas prices, which the right will undoubtedly blame on teachers unions, gay people, or Muslims in the coming months.

Monday, April 25, 2011

... And Then There Were None

The last good economist in the Obama Administration is leaving:
Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden‘s economic adviser and one of the longest serving economists in the Obama White House, will leave the administration at the end of the month, a White House official said.

Mr. Bernstein, a liberal voice in an increasingly centrist White House, will join the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He is also in advanced talks to be an on-air commentator for Bloomberg News Service’s television network.

Mr. Bernstein’s departure comes after the exit of two liberal economic allies, Christina Romer and Larry Summers, and the arrival of deal-making pragmatists like Mr. Summers’ replacement as National Economic Council director, Gene Sperling, and Bruce Reed, Mr. Biden’s new chief of staff who headed the centrist Democratic Leadership Council.
Bernstein was apparently the only remaining advocate for focusing on real problems (unemployment, the economy) against the entire administration which wants to spend the next year tackling a fake problem (the deficit).

The same way that Romer's first post-White House speeches were very revealing, it'll be interesting to hear what Bernstein has to say whenever he starts talking. Truly depressing stuff.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Fighting Back

Via Kari and her wonderful blog, the fight back in Ohio begins:
Over the past few months, Ohio has had its share of fighting over public sector unions' collective bargaining rights.

Earlier this year, thousands marched on the statehouse in Columbus, but those protests didn't get unions or their Democratic supporters very far. Senate Bill 5 passed the Republican-dominated Ohio Legislature on March 30 and Gov. John Kasich signed it into law the next day.

Now, Ohio unions are turning to Plan B: a good old-fashioned petition drive to get a referendum on the measure on the ballot this fall. And union members are saying the governor's action may have actually helped reinvigorate the state's labor movement.
Awakening Ohio's base will also help us in relecting one of the nation's best Senators in 2012, Sherrod Brown.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Move Along, Nothing To See Here...

Stupid lefties and their conspiracy theories!
Plans to exploit Iraq's oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world's largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain's involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair's cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

The documents were not offered as evidence in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war. In March 2003, just before Britain went to war, Shell denounced reports that it had held talks with Downing Street about Iraqi oil as "highly inaccurate". BP denied that it had any "strategic interest" in Iraq, while Tony Blair described "the oil conspiracy theory" as "the most absurd".

But documents from October and November the previous year paint a very different picture.

Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq's enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair's military commitment to US plans for regime change.

The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being "locked out" of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms.

Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: "Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis."

The minister then promised to "report back to the companies before Christmas" on her lobbying efforts.

The Foreign Office invited BP in on 6 November 2002 to talk about opportunities in Iraq "post regime change". Its minutes state: "Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP is desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity."

After another meeting, this one in October 2002, the Foreign Office's Middle East director at the time, Edward Chaplin, noted: "Shell and BP could not afford not to have a stake in [Iraq] for the sake of their long-term future... We were determined to get a fair slice of the action for UK companies in a post-Saddam Iraq."

Whereas BP was insisting in public that it had "no strategic interest" in Iraq, in private it told the Foreign Office that Iraq was "more important than anything we've seen for a long time".

BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf's existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world's leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take "big risks" to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world.

Over 1,000 documents were obtained under Freedom of Information over five years by the oil campaigner Greg Muttitt. They reveal that at least five meetings were held between civil servants, ministers and BP and Shell in late 2002.

The 20-year contracts signed in the wake of the invasion were the largest in the history of the oil industry. They covered half of Iraq's reserves – 60 billion barrels of oil, bought up by companies such as BP and CNPC (China National Petroleum Company), whose joint consortium alone stands to make £403m ($658m) profit per year from the Rumaila field in southern Iraq.

Last week, Iraq raised its oil output to the highest level for almost decade, 2.7 million barrels a day – seen as especially important at the moment given the regional volatility and loss of Libyan output. Many opponents of the war suspected that one of Washington's main ambitions in invading Iraq was to secure a cheap and plentiful source of oil.

Mr Muttitt, whose book Fuel on Fire is published next week, said: "Before the war, the Government went to great lengths to insist it had no interest in Iraq's oil. These documents provide the evidence that give the lie to those claims.

Support DC Solar: Sign This Petition!

If you're a DC resident, your signature would be valuable on a petition encouraging the DC Council to pass the Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011, which is vital to the continued development of residential solar power generation within the District. In February, I submitted the following written testimony for a council hearing about the Act, but a decision has yet to be reached:

I am writing in support of the Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011.

My family and I are in the process of installing a small (approximately 3 kW) solar photovoltaic system on our roof in the District. We initially became interested in the project because of DC's excellent rebate program, and are currently on the waiting list to receive funding approval. Although the future of the rebate program is uncertain and the size of the rebate will likely be cut in order to support more projects, we plan on continuing our installation because we believe solar energy is a vital part of DC's future.

The success of our project is obviously important to us, but the benefits that the solar industry provides to DC are far more important. Solar resources provide significant grid stability, keep energy prices low even as the cost of fuel rises, and assist in the development of a more sustainable and environmentally sound future for both the District and the world.

Even in an a shaky and often shrinking economy, the solar industry has grown substantially. DC is leading the charge, with 40% growth over the last two years. There are now over 20 companies within DC, employing approximately 600 fulltime employees, many within low-income communities. With the aid of the city government, another 2,000 jobs could be created in the District over the next nine years. All of this is possible without negatively impacting the DC budget in any way.

The Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011 will help finance new solar projects, as it will help keep more of the money from the clean power generation within the District's borders and thus provide an economic backbone for solar investment. By seeking to increase the percentage of solar energy in DC from 0.4% in 2020 to 2.5% in 2020, the Act will also allow the District to compete with nearby states like Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey in this exciting environmental and economic opportunity.

Please support the Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011. It will help ensure a safe, clean and economically healthy Washington, DC of the future.

To give you a little more background, people who install solar panels make their money back in three ways:

•Immediate savings on power bills. At current rates, full repayment from power bill savings alone usually takes more than 25 years in this part of the world, which is potentially longer than the lifespan of the panels. This math will improve as energy costs increase and panels get cheaper, but currently residential solar is only a break-even proposition.

•Government subsidies, both on the federal and state/local level, in the form of rebates and tax credits/deductions.

•Sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs), which utilities must purchase in order to prove that a certain percentage of their ratepayers' power was produced by renewable sources.

Until recently, DC maintained an extraordinary rebate program that reimbursed solar installers for a significant portion of their installation costs. Between that and the federal tax credit, I calculated that solar paneling in the District was the rough equivalent of a relatively guaranteed 20%/year investment – a strong financial move by any standard.

However, earlier this year the city decided to re-appropriate the money that it had set aside for the program in order to close gaps in its budget. Hundreds of households in the city (including my parents) had already begun the installation process when they were left in the lurch by this abrupt move; many of them literally have signed letters from the city government promising them specific amounts of money, which they now will not receive for a year or more, if at all. Since these funds were originally collected through a surcharge on all PEPCO bills within the city for the specific purpose of supporting the rebate, the re-appropriation represents borderline fraud and theft on the part of the city government.

Without the rebate, residential solar paneling is no longer economically viable for most DC residents, since it requires a significant upfront investment with low long-term return. Although I still have some small hope that these funds will not be stolen in future budgets, and even that the program will be extended past 2012, damage has already been done to the solar industry (and thus the DC economy as a whole). We need to take quick action to reverse this trend.

Thankfully, there is another solution to solar financing, one that doesn't affect DC's budget at all: increase the value of SRECs.

Currently, the market for SRECs in the District is lagging because DC allows solar installers in other states to sell their SRECs in the District, while only requiring PEPCO to purchase a small amount of renewable energy: low demand, high supply. The Distributed Generation Amendment Act of 2011 would increase the required amount of solar energy consumed in the district to 2.5% of total consumption, by 2020. It would also require PEPCO to purchase the SRECs that represent this power production entirely from within the District. Thus, raising demand and lowering supply.

If you support local development of renewable energy – and you should – then this bill is a no-brainer. It also represents a certain level of economic justice for the hundreds of DC households who have been literally lied to by their elected government.

So sign here!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Durbin Open To Fucking With Social Security

I used to think Dick Durban was one of the good guys:
Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says the bi-partisan group of senators working to find a way to reduce the deficit -- the so-called "Gang of Six" -- is near agreement on a plan that will chart a middle ground between the House Republican budget and the plan outlined last week by President Obama.

And while other top Democrats say Social Security should be untouched, Durbin says Social Security changes should be made now.

"You have the House Republican budget from Congressman Paul Ryan, who I know and like, which is going to be placed somewhere on the right side of the spectrum. You have the president's suggestion, which will be on the other side of the spectrum. And if and when we reach an agreement, it will be in the middle, a bipartisan effort, which I think has a chance to succeed," Durbin said in an interview for ABC News' "Subway Series."

He expects the Gang of Six -- which, in addition to Durbin, includes senators Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; and Kent Conrad, D-N.D. -- to agree on a plan shortly after Congress returns from its Easter recess.
Worth remembering that Durbin is Obama's biggest ally in the senate, and when he speaks about something (like when he did on the deficit commission), it's generally assumed that he is doing it with Obama's blessing.

Can't wait to see the consensus between Obama's middle of the road plan, and Ryan's destroy medicare plan, decided by someone who wants to fuck with social security.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Republicans Vote To End Medicare

WASHINGTON -- On a party-line vote, the House of Representatives passed a Republican 2012 budget proposal which aims to start the country down the path of deficit reduction, but which Democrats warn will gut a vital safety net for seniors.

The House voted 235-193 to approve the plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, though its future beyond that is uncertain. Still, Republicans say the country is on the precipice and they have no other choice but to start slashing trillions in future spending.

"The greatest danger that America faces today is doing nothing," House Speaker John Boehner said Friday before a vote on the RSC plan and a Democratic alternative.

The Ryan plan "is the strongest step we could take today, and we are going to take it," Boehner said.

Ryan's budget aims to cut $6.2 trillion in spending over 10 years, and reduce the deficit by more than $4 trillion. With $14 trillion in debt already on the books, government spending on the course it stands now aims to add another $6.7 trillion in debt over 10 years.

But with a fundamental restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid, Democrats, including President Obama, blasted it as an attempt to leave seniors and poor holding the bag on health care costs.

"The president agrees with House Republicans that we must reduce our deficit and put our country on a fiscally sound path, but we disagree with their approach," Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney said after the vote." The House Republican plan places the burden of debt reduction on those who can least afford it, ends Medicare as we know it and doubles health care costs for seniors in order to pay for more than a trillion dollars in tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires."
A few points:

1) Medicare is insanely popular.

2) Even when people don't understand what it is ("don't let the government in my medicare"), they get really pissed about any attempts to fuck with it.

3) Medicare is most important to elderly people.

4) Elderly people vote. A lot.

I have no doubt that all the Republican members of the house (and plenty of Democrats too) want to destroy medicare. With that said I'm plesently surprised that the house GOP was dumb enough to all vote for a bill that would destroy medicare, and has zero hope of passing the Senate/overiding Obama's veto.

If the Democratic party machine has any sense whatsoever, this should be the only issue voters hear about between now and the 2012 elections. This is such a no brainier I can't imagine they fuck it up... but then again this is the Democratic party we're talking about so I guess we'll see.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Pleasant Surprise

David Dayen summed up my thoughts pretty well:
Other than the fact that this deficit speech was given at all, I don't have a huge problem with it
No talk about the need to slash Medicare or Social Security, and a good first effort at slamming the Ryan budget.

The only thing that bothered me was the fact that Obama used this time and exposure to focus on the deficit rather than far more important, real problems we face. We'll see how much keeps to his guns when the actual budget negoations take place, but considering the horrible, mind blowingly stupid ideas that were being considered, this isn't too bad at all.

What did you think?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Something Shitty Comes This Way...

President Obama will address the nation tonight to discuss his plan do deal with the biggest problem currently facing our nation. No, he won't be talking about unemployment, forclosures, money in politics, our broken govenrment and definatly not the three wars we are engaged in.

Tonight he will discuss our nation's deficit, a right wing construction of a problem as atrios notes:
No one really cares about the deficit. Republicans use it as an excuse to implement their agenda. When there's no deficit, the answer is tax cuts for rich people When there's a big deficit, the answer is tax cuts for rich people and screwing poor people.
The fact that Obama considers this a priority is maddening, but that is no longer surprising. What he says tonight will in fact be surprising, since he caught even the leadership of his party by surprise, and there have been conflicting reports about the contents of his speech.

So who knows? It's probably going to suck, but how much? Will he propose cuts to medicare or social security (the Democratic Party Suicide Act)? Will he sneak in something good, like higher taxes for rich people? There's only one way to find out!

And I won't be finding out! Because there's a Capitals playoff game on, and I can read about what cuts to the social safety net our democratic president proposed after the caps cruise to a convincing victory.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Train of Thought Lounge–[Velvet]

Our lounge feature is a little different from past editions; featuring local group [Velvet] who will be performing their farewell show at Black Cat on Friday, April 15th on the Mainstage.  For more information, check out

Here’s a fan favorite, “Bomb’s Away”:

[Velvet] performing at Red Palace on 3/6/2011


Friend of the blog @Rockstarjoe is third from the right, rocking out to all his adoring fans.


Point/ Counterpoint: Black People as Human Beings

A bit of a follow up to the last post:
Civil War still divides Americans

Washington (CNN) - It has been 150 years since the Civil War began with the first shots at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, and in some respects views of the Confederacy and the role that slavery played in the events of 1861 still divide the public, according to a new national poll.

In the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll released Tuesday, roughly one in four Americans said they sympathize more with the Confederacy than the Union, a figure that rises to nearly four in ten among white Southerners.

When asked the reason behind the Civil War, whether it was fought over slavery or states' rights, 52 percent of all Americas said the leaders of the Confederacy seceded to keep slavery legal in their state, but a sizeable 42 percent minority said slavery was not the main reason why those states seceded.
America remains divided over controversial issues. You know, like the CIVIL WAR.

Maybe white people haven't gotten that much less crazy after all.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Big Tough President Gets HUGE Victory

I'm with Digby. What a fucking joke:
Behind the scenes in negotiations that averted government shutdown, President Obama had just agreed to House Speaker John Boehner’s request to include a Republican policy rider to ban taxpayer funding of abortion in Washington, DC, but Boehner wanted more: to defund Planned Parenthood.

The response from the president was blunt.

“Nope. Zero,” the president told Boehner, according to a senior Democratic aide. “And then the Speaker tried to engage it.”

“Nope. Zero,” the president replied again. “He was like, ‘John, this is it.’”

“There were a good 10 minutes of just sitting there of everybody looking at each other,” the aide recalled. “I mean, it was like, there’s nothing to do here. The store’s closed.”

“It was awkward, like, what do you do now?”

“They realized that kind of the gig was up,” the aide said of Republicans. “They weren’t going to get it included. It wasn’t going to happen. The president and Sen. Reid were prepared to say, ‘This bill will go down if you make this about social policy.’ That was the line in the sand.”
OH SHIT!!! Can't imagine the look on Boehner's face when Obama told him I'll agree to 78.5 billion dollars in cuts, but he WOULD NOT go any further! What a negotiator!

Seriously though, why the hell is ABC news covering this shit like a crappy high school romance novel? Look, unlike a lot of people out there, I don't personally dislike President Obama, but reading that made me want to vomit.  Whatever favors ABC reporter Mathew Jaffe got in exchange for writing that glowing play by play, but it wasn't enough.

Also, a massive fuck you to both Obama and Reid for handing over what minimal rights DC has over their OWN tax dollars on a silver platter to the nut jobs on the other side. The "line in the sand over social policy" quote shows perfectly how little a shit everyone gives about DC. When you have the rights of a colony, you're nothing more than an living experiment for whatever crazy ideas politicians don't have the balls to impose on their own states.

Watching Obama and Reid gush over how "historic" and great these cuts are is just a sad reminder about the goals and priorities of the Democratic party leadership. To put it bluntly, they are not on our side. Just because they're not as crazy as the other party, doesn't mean they give the slightest shit about working class Americans either.

Not trying to be as depressing as this sounds, but I think that's where we are.

Something tells me when the carnage of the 40 billion dollars of cuts gets revealed this week things will get even more heated, so stay tuned.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Will There Be a Government Shutdown?

I'll be traveling today, so there probably won't be a post discussing whether or not the Republicans shut down the government over abortion Planned Parenthood funding. (thanks Kari - it is a really important distinction, see this graph)

What we do know is that if the government shuts down, DC trash pickup would be canceled,  so please join this campaign to dump your trash at/on John Boehner's house. It's the least we can do.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Focusing On The Important Stuff

The most terrifying part of that clip is the revelation that Michelle Malkin has spawned.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

White House: Unionist Murders No Big Deal

Making Republicans happy is apparently a far more important goal for the Obama administration:
The agreement, the second such deal with Colombia in four years, will still need to be ratified by Congress.

But with Republicans now in control of the House and pressuring Mr. Obama to move ahead on trade pacts that were negotiated by the George W. Bush administration, the Colombia trade deal now has a better chance of getting through legislative hurdles than it did earlier, trade experts said.

The United States trade representative, Ron Kirk, told the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that negotiators have made substantial progress in narrowing differences over labor rules in Colombia, characterizing the talks as “very productive.”

Negotiations between representatives of the United States and Colombia intensified in recent weeks, spurred in part by President Obama. Especially since the midterm elections, he has been eager to finish negotiations on three pending trade deals to show he is not hostile to business, to find common ground with Republicans in Congress and to help create jobs in export industries.

Even though President Bush reached the trade deal with Colombia back in 2007, Democrats in Congress — including Mr. Obama, then a senator and a presidential candidate — balked at ratifying the deal, complaining that the deal needed stronger protections for American workers hurt by trade as well as guarantees of an end to suspected human-rights abuses of Colombian labor leaders.
I'll have plenty of words on this later, right now I only have two: fuck off.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Get the Medicare Out of My Medicare

During the 2010, a youtube clip went viral with a teabagger telling someone that they wanted to "get the government out of their medicare". Everyone had a laugh, until many Republicans won seats by successfully convincing people that the Democrats wanted to take away their medicare.

Now that Republicans are in power, they've made their plans for the program known; they want to destroy it.
No exaggeration here: On Tuesday, the GOP will officially propose eliminating the current Medicare system by 2021, replacing it with a system of subsidized private insurance in which Medicare beneficiaries would get the equivalent of vouchers to cover a portion of their premiums.

At least on paper, the proposal would save money, but only because it increases voucher funding more slowly than the cost of health care, guaranteeing that at some point, seniors wouldn't be able to afford to get insurance—assuming that they could even find an insurer interested in covering the elderly.
So there we go.

In a world were the Republicans had a competent opposition party, they would be crushed in the next election for proposing the destruction of an extremely popular government program, and which also happens to be the only thing we have resembling a sane health care system in the United States.

But as we all know, the Democratic party isn't exactly a well coordinated machine, and only qualifies as an opposition party because there isn't anyone else around.

One thing we have going for us is that there were tweaks to medicare in the clusterfuck that is Obama's health care bill, and changes to that bill seems to be one of the only things Obama will go to the mat for.

How will the Democrats respond? Whose the fuck knows, but considering their willingness to embrace social security cuts, I'm not all that optimistic.

Monday, April 4, 2011

No Clue How To Negotiate

Think Progress has a depressing chart:

When Obama started negotiations by cutting heating assistance for the poor, and the Republicans countered by doubling their demands... you got the feeling this wouldn't end well.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Class War Friday

Sadly, not April fools:
At a time most employees can barely remember their last substantial raise, median CEO pay jumped 27% in 2010 as the executives’ compensation started working its way back to prerecession levels, a USA TODAY analysis of data from GovernanceMetrics International found. Workers in private industry, meanwhile, saw their compensation grow just 2.1% in the 12 months ended December 2010, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Just a reminder that while the economy sucks for the majority of Americans, the people who matter are doing just fine.

Warren To Chair Commission on Banking Influence

Holy shit: (via dailykos)
Washington D.C. - President Obama announced on Thursday that he has asked Elizabeth Warren to investigate accusations about his administration's ties to the banking industry. "It has come to my attention that several members of my administration have compromised their ability to do what's best for all Americans. I've tasked Elizabeth Warren to chair a bipartisan commission to investigate this matter, and I expect them to produce a report on this subject by the end of the summer."

The move has sent shock waves through the administration, which had seemed to take a more pro business stance since the 2010 midterm elections. Many in the White House are not pleased: "Why did he even bother bringing us in, if he was going to pull a stunt like this?" said an senior aide who was hired by Chief of Staff Bill Daley in December. Daley is known for his ties to Wall Street and sources close to Warren revealed he would be among the investigation's targets.

Obama said Warren would name the rest of the commission by the end of next week, and the report would be released by the end of July.
Wow, I didn't know Obama had it in him.