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Social Security repair wizards insist that we
implement the problem to solve the problem

“There was a case for paying down debt before the baby boomers began to retire, making it easier to pay full (Social Security) benefits later. But George W. Bush squandered the Clinton surplus on tax cuts and wars, and that window has closed. At this point, ‘reform’ proposals are all about things like raising the retirement age or changing the inflation adjustment, moves that would gradually reduce benefits relative to current law. What problem is this supposed to solve?

“Well, it’s probable (although not certain) that, within two or three decades, the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted, leaving the system unable to pay the full benefits specified by current law. So the plan is to avoid cuts in future benefits by committing right now to . . . cuts in future benefits. Huh?”

—Paul Krugman,, economist, author and Nobel Laureate,
in a New York Times column, The Dwindling Deficit,
Jan. 17, 2013.

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Speaking common sense to power: Interestingly, this telling point was made as a side note to Krugman’s larger message. That message is that while we have a deficit problem — as opposed to the universally flogged and erroneous term “crisis” — there is no good reason to tackle the whole thing now. The fiscal situation of the 2030’s can probably be better handled by the public officials of the 2020’s.

Krugman winds up this excellent column with a bit of wisdom that should be embroidered in bold olde script, framed and placed on President Obama’s Oval Office desk.

“But neither the current deficit nor projected future spending deserve to be anywhere near the top of our political agenda. It’s time to focus on other stuff — like the still-depressed state of the economy and the still-terrible problem of long-term unemployment.”

Amen.

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Iconic conservative and former congressman
calls Norquist no-tax pledge irrational, childish

“You know, Republicans may complain about the federal debt, but they’re as responsible as the Democrats for the debt being as large as it is. And once you have already done that, then you have an obligation to pay it down.

“You know, so the idea that what you’re going to do is say– you know, ‘We’re not going to raise taxes, we’re not going to close loopholes, we’re not going to do anything’ — that means that we’re not going to pay off what we’ve already created. I mean, that’s childish. That’s childish.

“. . . It’s not conservatism, not rational, not adult. It’s a 12-year-old’s kind of thinking.”

Mickey Edwards, Republican former Oklahoma U.S. representative,
Heritage Foundation founding trustee and longtime movement conservative,
commenting on Grover Norquist’s no-tax-increase pledge
during a Dec. 7 interview with Bill Moyers,
as reported at Think Progress.

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Edwards’ statement provides further proof that truth, like gold, is where you find it.

It should also serve as a reminder that there once was a time when even strongly ideological movement conservatives had some sense of responsibility where governing was concerned.

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GOP strategist: Here come da sludge

“O n the outside, here’s what going to happen: we’re going to nuke Barack Obama into radioactive sludge in the swing states with 3000-4000 points of TV in September. Crossroads and Restore [Republican SuperPACs] will do the same. It’s going to be hitting in concert with the terrible economic news, and it’ll strike a chord.”

— Rick Wilson, Republican strategist,
quoted by Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins
in a post, Romney’s New Strategy Turns Right,
Sept. 17, 2012

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Our sincere condolences to swing state residents for what they are having to endure. We hope many will be able to forsake TV in favor of streaming video off their PC or rental DVD’s and National Public Radio for the duration.

After all the BS those poor people were bombarded with on behalf of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, this sludge offensive to help Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win the White House adds insult to injury.

Republican strategists, super PACs and the fat cats who fund them might want to think twice about this onslaught. First, because a whole lot of voters disgusted with saturation-level attack ads might act on their displeasure by voting against the Romney-Ryan dysfunctional duo. Second — and this might come as a shock to those steeped in the politics of sliming opponents and pandering to racists — a whole lot of voters might decide they don’t like seeing a president who’s worked hard on their behalf being “nuked into radioactive sludge.”

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Barbour pays his disrespect, using imagery
of a hot poker and President Obama’s butt

“While I would love for [New Jersey Gov. Chris] Christie to put a hot poker to Obama’s butt, I thought he did what he was supposed to do.”

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—Haley Barbour, former Mississippi governor and former
Republican National Committee chairman, referring
to Christie’s convention keynote address
, during a fund-
raising breakfast hosted by Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS,
in Tampa, Aug. 30, 2012.

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Way to go, Barbour. In the finest tradition of what folks in his home state refer to as poor white trash, Barbour opened his arrogant, disrespectful mouth and showed his butt.

Not that there was any racist sentiment or sense of entitlement to say such a thing about America’s first non-white president. Oh no, of course not.

But even if there was, we’re sure he believes it’s OK if you’re a Republican.

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Should billionaires be able to buy Romney
so they can have a president of their own?

“Romney’s lying machine is extraordinarily well financed. By August, according to Jane Mayer in her recent New Yorker article, at least 33 billionaires had each donated a quarter of a million dollars or more to groups aiming to defeat Obama – with most of it flooding into attack ads in swing states.

“In early August, ‘Americans for Prosperity,’ one of the nonprofit front groups masquerading as a charity, and founded in part by billionaire right-wingers Charles and David Koch, bought some $27 million in ad time on spots now airing in eleven swing states.”

—Robert Reich, in a blog post,
Romney’s Lying Machine,
Aug. 24, 2012

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Millions of voters who don’t follow government and politics closely, know little about economic policy and care little about foreign relations can still serve their own best interest and the country’s in the November election. All they need to do is use their head, applying common sense in choosing who will be president for the coming four years.

To do that, voters should consider two simple questions:

  1. If Willard Mitt Romney requires hundreds of millions of dollars from a few extremely rich backers and big corporations to sell himself and make his opponent appear unacceptable, how likely is it he has what it takes to be to be a good president?
  2. If a small number of extremely wealthy individuals and corporations are willing to spend such huge sums to get Romney elected president, who do you think Romney is going to work for if he becomes president, the American people or a small number of extremely wealthy individuals and big corporations?

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Fox’s Trotta touts Republican gold-digger values

Liz Trotta

Liz Trotta

“Female journalists envy Ann Romney because she followed moms’ advice: Marry ‘a good, preferably rich, man.'”

—Liz Trotta, Fox News contributor, taking reporters
to task for mentioning Ann Romney’s $1,000 blouse,
Aug. 5, 2012

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Ah, those conservative Republican “traditional” family values are back, this time with a greed-is-good spin. Let every marriageable young woman be a gold digger. Let every prospective husband worth marrying be a well-heeled sugar daddy.

Play your “assets” right, girls, and you, too, could have four or five homes, one with multi-story garage and car elevator; an Olympics-contender dressage horse, secret overseas bank accounts, and all the $1,000 blouses you can load into the Lexus every time you go to the mall.

The way forward is clear. When husband shopping, never forget that Grand Old Party adage, “Kissin’ don’t last, but the joy of conspicuous consumption do.”

H/t Media Matters for America. Video here, if your stomach can take it.

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Republican warriors against women stage
group hissy fit over birth conrol reform

Rep. Mike Kelly

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

“I know in your mind, you can think of the times America was attacked. One is Dec. 7; that’s Pearl Harbor Day. The other is Sept. 11, and that’s the day the terrorists attacked. I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”

“Today is the day religious freedom died in America.”

—Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., during a Capitol Hill presss conference
in which he and several conservative Republicans
delivered tirades against a health care reform provision
taking effect today that requires insurers to cover
birth control for women, without co-pay or other charges.

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All that because insurance coverage for birth control at no additional charge becomes available today to students and employees at some religion-affiliated institutions that disapprove of birth control. Mind you, this Affordable Care Act reform doesn’t require those institutions to offer or pay for the insurance; it’s available directly to those who need or want it.

The reform isn’t just about contraception. The news story on this explains what else is included.

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In addition to the contraception mandate, health insurance plans must now cover additional screenings and services for women without passing on any of the cost to the patient.

“These include services that are essential to helping women stay healthy — such as domestic violence screening, FDA-approved contraception, breastfeeding support and supplies, gestational diabetes screening, HPV testing, sexually transmitted infection counseling, and HIV screening,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote in a USA Today op-ed published Tuesday.

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Not that it will matter to Kelly and his fellow religious conservatives, but birth control isn’t just about freeing the wanton and wicked to misbehave in the way their fellow Republicans, Sens. David Vitter and John Ensign, and Gov. Mark Sanford, did, free of stork-drawn consequences.

Some women are told by their doctor they mustn’t become pregnant. Some learn that if they do become pregnant it could come down to a choice of having an abortion or losing their own life and maybe the baby’s as well.

It’s also true that birth control pills are prescribed for valid medical reasons that have nothing to do with preventing pregnancy.

But even in situations where women want birth control so they can engage in activities that could result in an unwanted pregnancy, Kelly and his ilk should pull up their big-boy breeches and let it be, thinking of birth control as abortion prevention.

We say that because House Republicans have wasted the past year and a half doing little legislatively besides two perverse things. One was holding various segments of the population hostage to ensure the richest Americans keep their Bush tax cuts. The other was passing some 35 bills intended to make abortion virtually impossible to obtain, even in cases of rape, incest and to save the woman’s life — all those bills guaranteed to go nowhere in the Senate.

Presumably, Kelly et al are even more vehemently opposed to abortion than they are to all women having access to affordable birth control. Presumably, there is some limit to their ignorance and sense of entitlement to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else.

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Think of South Carolina as preview
of a Republicanland American future

“Political wonders never cease in my native state, South Carolina. Long a hotbed of corruption, dirty politics and extremism, the Palmetto State has distinguished itself most recently as a place where the worst of the nineteenth and twentieth century brands of reactionary politics are at war for power. It’s the place where Jim DeMint is considered a sort of noncontroversial, avuncular presence; where sexual excess and right-wing ideology strangely seem to go hand-in-hand; where the last governor, an anti-tax zealot, was locked in a death battle with a lieutenant governor who compared food stamp recipients (half the population) to ‘stray animals,’ and after a sex scandal straight out of Barbara Cartland, was eventually succeeded by his protege, who when not absorbed with fighting allegations of serial infidelity and corruption proudly puts the power and prestige of state government behind the proposition that private-sector labor unions should be destroyed.

“And all that’s totally aside from the recent forced resignation of the current lieutenant governor for gross campaign finance irregularities. In sum, South Carolina is a hellish living representation of where the conservative movement is trying to drag the whole damn country.”

—Ed Kilgore,, Washington Monthly Political Animal
blog post, “Incumbent Paradise,” June 12, 2012

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We’ve long likened Republicans’ ideal of what they want America to become to what oligarchs, plutocrats, dictators and military juntas did to every Central and South American country for about 300 years. Think luxury for the rich, powerful few. Think abject, lifelong poverty and oppression for the peon majority. And for a thin reed of middle-class professionals and business owners determined to maintain their modest prosperity, think a lifetime of kow-towing to the ruling class.

Kilgore’s capsule portrait of the Southern Republican stronghold of South Carolina undoubtedly does depict where the conservative movement is trying to drag the whole damn country. But we see it as a way station on the road to turning America into what Republicans helped turn Chile into under dictator Augusto Pinochet.

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Pinochet

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet

In 1973, the year General Pinochet brutally seized the government, Chile’s unemployment rate was 4.3%. In 1983, after ten years of free-market modernization, unemployment reached 22%. Real wages declined by 40% under military rule.

In 1970, 20% of Chile’s population lived in poverty. By 1990, the year “President” Pinochet left office, the number of destitute had doubled to 40%. Quite a miracle.

Pinochet did not destroy Chile’s economy all alone. It took nine years of hard work by the most brilliant minds in world academia, a gaggle of Milton Friedman’s trainees, the Chicago Boys. Under the spell of their theories, the General abolished the minimum wage, outlawed trade union bargaining rights, privatized the pension system, abolished all taxes on wealth and on business profits, slashed public employment, privatized 212 state industries and 66 banks and ran a fiscal surplus.

Freed of the dead hand of bureaucracy, taxes and union rules, the country took a giant leap forward … into bankruptcy and depression. After nine years of economics Chicago style, Chile’s industry keeled over and died. In 1982 and 1983, GDP dropped 19%. The free-market experiment was kaput, the test tubes shattered. Blood and glass littered the laboratory floor. Yet, with remarkable chutzpah, the mad scientists of Chicago declared success. In the US, President Ronald Reagan’s State Department issued a report concluding, “Chile is a casebook study in sound economic management.” Milton Friedman himself coined the phrase, “The Miracle of Chile.” Friedman’s sidekick, economist Art Laffer, preened that Pinochet’s Chile was, “a showcase of what supply-side economics can do.”

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Sound familiar? It should.

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RomneyIn addition to supporting a right-to-work-law, (Republican presidential candidate Willard Mitt) Romney has called for the repeal of a federal law requiring the prevailing local wage to be paid on public-works projects. He has pledged that on the first day of his presidency he would forbid any union preference in federal contracting and said he would fight rules allowing union dues to be taken out of paychecks to fund political activities.

“I’ve taken on union bosses before,” the former Massachusetts governor said in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. “I’m happy to take them on again.”

He has squarely blamed unions for the nation’s economic troubles.

“Labor has asked for too much and business people have exceeded their demands only to see the business ultimately fail,” he told the Ames Tribune’s economic board in December. “That’s what happened to GM and Chrysler. The demands of labor unions over time killed those businesses and made America become less competitive.”

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For the record, the United Autoworkers Union and others have repeatedly made major concessions, dating back to the mid-1980’s, involving pay, benefits, work rules and work force reductions to help keep U.S. automakers in business and competitive.

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Illinois race pits decorated Iraq War veteran
against tea party dittohead and deadbeat dad

Walsh

Rep. Joe Walsh, tea party hard liner and deadbeat dad who represents Illinois' 8th Congressional District.

“W hat else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh.”

That was U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., commenting on his Democratic opponent in the November election to a Politico interviewer, as quoted in a Daily Beast article by Michelle Goldberg.

You might recall Duckworth as a decorated Iraq War veteran — Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart — and one of the few women to fly a Blackhawk helicopter in combat. She was doing that in 2004 when her chopper was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. As a result, Duckworth lost both legs and had an arm severely injured.

You might also recall Walsh as part of the tea party scourge that made it to Congress in the 2010 election. He beat a three-term incumbent, Democrat Milissa Bean, by an unimpressive 291 votes out of 202,000 cast.

You might remember Walsh for refusing at the beginning of his congressional career to participate in the health care insurance exchange offered to members because he didn’t want any part of a federal health insurance program. Never mind that it’s an insurance exchange in which private companies compete for Capitol Hill customers. Walsh did that despite the fact his wife had a pre-existing condition that would’ve been covered.

You might remember Walsh for headlines about being sued by his ex-wife for $100,000 in unpaid child support. The two have since settled. Remarkable commitment to traditional family values there.

But if those pieces of Walsh’s history didn’t win your attention, surely his angry diatribe during a town hall meeting at a Gurnee, Ill. bar and grill that was caught on video must have. After all, members of Congress don’t swear at their constituents every day.

Then there’s Walsh’s Wikipedia profile, which includes the following:

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He has also raised venture capital for a living, according to the Chicago Tribune[3] with his campaign website indicating that he worked for Ravenswood Advisors, a Chicago boutique investment banking group which raised early-stage investment capital for new and small businesses.[19][24] However, he never made much money[8] and has pointed to salaries of $30,000 to $40,000 a year in the past.[15] In 2010, he had a negative net worth of $317,498 according to the Center for Responsive Politics

. . . Walsh has maintained a no-compromise approach to legislating. He consistently voted against raising the federal debt ceiling and authored a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution. During his 2010 campaign as a fiscal conservative and following his election to Congress, several media outlets reported on Walsh’s personal financial issues, such as past due child support, a recent condo foreclosure, and tax liens from the 1990s.

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There’s something about venture capitalists, isn’t there. We’re impressed with how financially responsible Walsh is. And, did we mention that since becoming a member of Congress Walsh has also been in trouble for driving with a suspended license?

Duckworth

Decorated Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth, Democrat, is challenging Walsh in the November election.

Duckworth ran for Congress in 2006, while still being treated for her injuries. She lost that race but has since worked for the Dept. of Veteran Affairs, is a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois National Guard and has earned a private-pilot’s license.

Duckworth was so turned off by the viciousness of the campaign her ’06 Republican opponent ran against her that she wanted no more of politics. She lost by 2 percent of the vote. However, being a fighter and not a quitter, Duckworth decided to run again, this time in a district less tilted against a Democrat.

We salute Duckworth’s service to and sacrifice for our country. We admire her determination, decency, and her night-vs.-day opposition to where Walsh is on virtually every issue. The people of Illinois-8 will be better represented by her than they could ever be by a dittohead heel with a loud mouth and sociopathic attitude.

As for Walsh, tea-party fringe crackpot, deadbeat dad, cited by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as one of the most corrupt members of Congress . . . ehhh.

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Mean-mouthed ‘activist’ gives fresh evidence
tea party is rife with hate-driven extemists

“We have to get Claire McCaskill out. We have to kill the Claire Bear, ladies and gentlemen. She walks around like she’s some sort of Rainbow Brite Care Bear or something, but really she’s an evil monster.”

—Scott Boston, tea party activist, at a St. Louis rally,
speaking in favor of a Republican challenger
of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., May 3, 2012

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Scott Boston

Tea party activist Scott Boston, who seems to think 'kill' and 'evil monster' are acceptable terms to use in expressing political views.

To any well-brought-up, emotionally balanced, even minimally informed person, former prosecutor and state auditor Claire McCaskill has shown herself to be a moderate, borderline conservadem during her first term as a U.S. senator. But to a hateful tea party yahoo carried away with the sound of his own voice at a political rally, McCaskill is an “evil monster” who must be killed.

Is Boston another Jared Loughner in the making — a homicidal maniac working his way up to a murderous rage?

Perhaps not. After his hate speech drew media coverage and the attention of authorities, Boston claimed he was just speaking metaphorically. A newspaper story quotes him as saying, “In no way do I think the senator should be at all harmed.”

Yeah, right; “evil monster” and “kill” are just words. What harm could possibly come to a thoroughly decent woman and legislator because of a little hateful demonization? After all, isn’t that how we do politics in America: dehumanize politicians with whom we disagree; characterize political opponents as dangerous animals and call for them to be exterminated?

Maybe Boston doesn’t have a loaded gun and voices in his head urging him to use it on McCaskill. So, why should he bother himself about the possibility there might be a Lee Harvey Oswald, a Sirhan Sirhan, John Hinckley, Jr., a Sara Jane Moore, Timothy McVeigh or Jared Loughner out there whose madness could be unleashed by a stiff dose of hate speech?

Republicans have spent nearly 40 years routinely demonizing political opponents, treating them in word and deed as the enemy. Sarah Steelman, the GOP candidate Boston spoke in support of, fits the mold.

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On Tuesday, Steelman came to Boston’s defense, blaming the “liberal media” that, she says, employs a double-standard when it comes to covering political rhetoric that contain a hint of violence.

“I may disagree with the words Mr. Boston chose in his statement,” Steelman said in her own statement, “but I understand his frustration and I emphatically support his right to express his views.”

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We suppose Oswald, Sirhan et al, also had frustration issues. Try explaining that to the friends and loved ones of those injured or killed.

Just as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle go together to create an image, episodes of hate speech accumulate to create a climate in our political environment.

Looking back over a half century stained with the blood of public officials and bedewed with the tears of those who grieved their loss, we see no excuse, no First Amendment right that in the slightest way excuses Boston and others who mistake hate speech for the making of valid political points.

Great American leaders like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower knew more than they ever wanted to about killing. They won the highest office in the land talking about doing good, decent things. They criticized political opponents on the issues, but never demonized them as dangerous animals. Not one of them ever used the word “kill” in referring to an opponent in a campaign speech.

That’s something hotheads with an ugly mouth, like Boston, should learn. Washington, Lincoln and the others won the presidency. Boston has won the attention of Capitol Police and probably the FBI, and rightly so.

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