“Fiscal responsibility”?

President Clinton left GW Bush with a $230 billion dollar SURPLUS. Some economists worried we were going to pay down the debt TOO FAST. Bush left Obama with a $1.3 TRILLION dollar annual deficit. Even though Obama cut that deficit by more than half, Republicans were screaming bloody murder for 8 YEARS about the outrageous Obama deficits and the national debt.

Now, having done not a thing to address our deficits/debt, in their first major piece of legislation, Republicans are going to add $1 TRILLION, at least, probably a lot more, to the national debt in order to directly transfer that borrowed money overwhelmingly to the wealthiest individuals and most profitable corporations

Dishonest, negative campaign ads by Republicans in Bellevue

I got a flier in the mail today from Friends of Jared Nieuwenhuis, Friends of Steve Fricke, and Friends of Phil Yin that says “STOP THESE CANDIDATES FROM BRINGING HEROIN INTO BELLEVUE.” The candidates referred to are Karol Brown, Lynne Robinson, and Janice Zahn.

What a scare tactic! If this isn’t negative campaigning, I don’t know what is.

Karol Brown has repeatedly said (including in comments on nextdoor.com, at a half dozen candidates forums, and on her website) that she opposes bringing safe injection sites into Bellevue. The City Council has effectively banned such sites from Bellevue for the foreseeable future. Besides, it’s a medical issue and shouldn’t be politicized!

The flier makes it appear that the candidates, or people who support such sites, want to bring heroin into Bellevue. Ridiculous and not true.

KAROL OPPOSES BRINGING SUCH SITES TO BELLEVUE and has repeatedly said that!

Lynne Robinson voted against safe injection sites when the issue came up for a vote on the city council.   Janice Zahn too said she opposes them, on nextdoor.com. The headline “WRONG ON HEROIN” is hitting below the belt. It gives the impression that these candidates want to bring heroin into Bellevue.

Image of back of campaign flier by Friends of Jared Nieuwenhuis, Steve Fricks, and Phil Yin

Such dishonest politicking (swiftboating, fake news) is customary at the national level. How unfortunate that we have it locally too.

Please don’t degrade local politics in a similar way. The three females have stated they oppose safe injection sites in Bellevue. The three male candidates are playing a transparently dirty trick. Besides, there is an epidemic, and addicts are dying. The people who propose safe-injection sites in King County are trying to save lives. They’re not trying to “bring heroin.” Heroin is already here. The City Council has voted against the sites for Bellevue. Please stop exploiting this issue for political purposes.

As further evidence of the politicization of the issue: “Chris Vance, a former state Republican Party chairman, said he believes those leading the I-27 campaign sincerely believe safe-injection is bad policy. But they also see it as a way to make political gains.” https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/bellevue-bans-safe-injection-sites-for-heroin-users/

Image of back of campaign flier by Friends of Jared Nieuwenhuis, Steve Fricks, and Phil Yin

Opponents of safe injection sites passionately oppose/attack any politician who even refuses to agree to ban the sites in King County. And if the politician votes against the sites or announces their opposition, they are accused of lacking the courage of their convictions and of wanting to bring heroin into Bellevue. Heads you win, tails I lose. Meanwhile, people are dying and the homeless languish on the streets.

Wanting to leave open the possibility of safe injection sites in King County is very different from wanting to bring heroin to Bellevue, which is what the ads claimed. The fact is: people are shooting heroin every day — it’s a national crisis — and people are dying from overdoses every day. A safe injection site makes a lot of sense for the addicts who are still using. It’s not encouraging addiction, any more than condoms encourage unsafe sex. Abstinence programs do not work in either case.

Some more attack ads

This one is paid for by Friends of Steve Fricke:

And here’s an ad by the Master Builders:
Master Builders attack ad

The Arnold responds to the Donald, and the NY Times explains why the Repugs started denying climate change

BREAKING: Arnold Schwarzenegger has a blunt message for Donald Trump. #ParisAgreement

Posted by ATTN: Video on Thursday, June 1, 2017

In 2008 when John McCain ran for president, he ran a campaign ad that “sounded the alarm on global warming.” Since then virtually the entire GOP establishment have become climate change deniers. What happened?

Politics How G.O.P. Leaders Came to View Climate Change as Fake Science

“Those divisions did not happen by themselves. Republican lawmakers were moved along by a campaign carefully crafted by fossil fuel industry players, most notably Charles D. and David H. Koch, the Kansas-based billionaires who run a chain of refineries (which can process 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day) as well as a subsidiary that owns or operates 4,000 miles of pipelines that move crude oil.”

Will Wikileaks help the Republicans and the military-industrial complex?

It will be ironic if Wikileaks — which was supposed to expose and undercut the power of the military-industrial complex — helps Republicans win the 2016 election.

The revelations about the DNC, about Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, and about private emails may flip the election to Trump. At the very least, the revelations will harm down-ticket Democrats and progressives.

There are plenty of embarrassing stories about Trump and Republicans, and about corruption in the military-industrial complex. But rather than using the Wikileaks revelations to undermine Republican interest and the military, the Obama administration went after Wikileaks and its members.   The Republicans, on the other hand, are successfully using the Wikileaks emails to make Clinton and the DNC appear corrupt.

In general, Republicans are better at exploiting and spinning the news. Partly this is because too many Democrats partake of the corruption and hawkishness. Partly it’s because Republicans have fewer qualms about twisting the truth. Mostly it’s because the GOP has a powerful right wing media to broadcast their talking points.

The only reason Trump has a chance of winning — and the only reason why so many people are attracted to Republican ideology — is the prevalence of right wing media: Fox News, AM talk radio, and Internet trolls. On AM radio the conservative slant is relentless and well-orchestrated.  They manufacture an alternate reality in which Sadaam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, Obama is a Muslim from Kenya, global climate change is a hoax, and Hillary more corrupt than Bush or Trump.  The hatred of Hillary is deep and visceral.

The Republican Noise Machine molds public opinion and has succeeded in elevating the Clinton email issue to an election-deciding scandal. The fact that George W. Bush had a private email server with much more serious repercussions is ignored. As reported in Newsweek’s article The George W. Bush White House ‘Lost’ 22 Million Emails:

Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails.

Why can’t Democrats exploit such stories to undercut Republicans? Trump should be 20 points behind in this election.

As Bernie Sanders said, the American public is fed up with hearing about Clinton’s “damn emails.”  The emails should be a footnote issue. Instead, Republicans have largely succeeded at elevating it to an election-deciding issue that supposedly illustrates Clinton’s criminality and unreliability.

The Republican scam, and the Democrats' unwillingness to oppose it

Last night I was listening to AM talk radio, and a Republican candidate was promoting the following conservative narrative: “Yes, there is terrible wealth inequality, and it’s due to government waste, corruption and regulations. We need to slash taxes and get rid of regulations so that the middle class can have jobs and thrive.  Government is a taker. We need more freedom.”  The candidate also talked about the preciousness of life.

Likewise, at a political event in Nevada recently, Marc Rubio told the audience that the notion that “big government is good for the people who are trying to make it” is a “lie.” He said, “When the government dominates the economy, the people that can afford to influence the government — they win. And everybody else is stuck.” (source: November 30, 2015 edition of the New Yorker)

There is some truth to Rubio’s statements, and the conservative narrative is plausible enough to dupe lots of people.

Yet it’s a big scam.

The scam goes like this. Conservatives corrupt and starve government so it performs poorly. They make sure it serves the 1%. They wage almost constant war. They allow corporations to ship profits and jobs overseas. They oppose regulations that might rein in Wall Street, even as they decry Wall Street greed and the bailouts. They under-fund the IRS and regulatory agencies. They promote regressive taxation which unfairly burdens the middle class.  Then they argue that taxes are too high and government is wasteful and corrupt. They use the failures of government to justify cutting taxes and maintaining tax loopholes for the rich. When progressives try to fix the system, they accuse progressives of wanting to raise peoples’ taxes.

The scam works — it’s rather brilliant — and our task is to expose it and promote an alternative vision in which government serves everyone, not just the 1%.

Scam Alert!

The solution to the corruption of government isn’t to throw in the towel and give up on government. The solution is to fix the system so it’s not rigged.

But we have a tiny voice, and the corporate-backed Republicans have most of the money and an effective noise machine.  There aren’t enough progressive rich people willing to fund an alternative, lefty media empire. And most Democratic politicians choose to ignore the problems of fair taxation and government corruption. They allow Republicans to frame the issues.

At a recent King County Dems Legislative Action Committee meeting I asked state House majority leader Pat Sullivan what he’d do to educate the voters so that they stop voting for Tim Eyman’s anti-tax initiatives and for Republican candidates.   I want Sullivan and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership — including Governor Inslee and ex-Governors Gregoire, Locke, and Lowery — to boldly take the lead in educating the public about taxes and government.

But Sullivan said that it’s not his job to educate the public.  The voters won’t listen to him.

I think the politicians run away from the issue because they think (know?) that they’ll get slaughtered at the polls if they talk about taxes.

Moreover, there are enough corporate, triangulating politicians within the Democratic Party to muddy the waters and make it unclear which party can be trusted. Bill Clinton dismantled Glass-Steagall, supported NAFTA and said “The era of big government is over.” President Obama surrounded himself with Wall Street cronies and promoted a health care plan designed by the Heritage Foundation to enrich insurance companies. Governor Inslee gave an $8.7 billion tax break to Boeing. Democrat Ross Hunter took the lead in arranging tax breaks for Microsoft.

Meanwhile, Republicans control the U.S. House, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, and they’ve taken over a large majority of state legislatures. In Washington State Republicans control the state Senate and are two seats away from controlling the state House.

Who will step up and promote the pro-government, fair taxation message people need to hear? How can we strengthen the hand of progressives in the Democratic Party?

Clearly, Bernie Sanders has been effective at getting parts of this message out to the public. Perhaps the movement he inspires will succeed at starting to fix the corruption. My only fear is that his calling himself a socialist might limit his effectiveness. The ironic thing is: he’s probably not even a socialist! He’s a social democrat. See Bernie Sanders is a social democrat, not a socialist. Dwight Eisenhower was more of a socialist than Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders is a Social Democrat, not a Democratic Socialist

[Note: this article’s former title was: “The conservative scam: a plausible narrative that enriches the 1%”.]

Republican Talking Heads Claim Talk has no Power to Influence Beliefs and Behavior

Who incited Christian terrorism?  Not me.  Couldn’t be.

In what could be the greatest hypocrisy in a season of head-spinners, Christianist Republicans—from presidential candidates to congressmen to Fox News bimbos to sleazy video-splicers and wild-eyed sidewalk ranters-with-rosaries—are scrambling to deny that what they say actually matters.

Specifically they claim that they had nothing to do with a shooting rampage at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

Never mind that conservative Christians in high places have been fanning flames for months, calling women and care providers murderers, pretending to believe Planned Parenthood kills big-eyed babies and sells body parts for profit. Never mind that we call such language “incendiary” because it is incendiary. They are shocked-shocked-I-say, that some wingnut in Colorado actually took their becking at face value and opened fire in a family planning clinic.  Who could have possibly known that all that posturing and lying for political gain might affect someone’s behavior?!  Uh, I mean, it didn’t! It couldn’t. It was just talk!

Did anyone other than the guilty parties themselves fail to notice the bizarre irony here?  The people now hastening to assure us that talk doesn’t matter are people who earn big salaries talking. We refer to them as talking heads because that’s what they do, day in and day out, month in and month out.  Talk, talk, talk. Why?  Because like all bullies they (and the folks who bankroll them) are betting that words actually can hurt you.

Those most carefully denying any relation between talk and murder are politicians who spend years speechifying in order to change voter behavior, assisted by well-paid communications experts who the big bucks because tweaking words slightly might affect what voters do. They are pulpit pounders who siphon off 10 percent of churchgoer earnings on the premise that by talking to and for God they can influence beliefs, attitudes and behavior. Talk can save souls. In fact, in the Iron Age mythology of the Bible, it can bring whole worlds into existence.  In the beginning was the word. 

But a bloodbath incited by mere words? Stochastic terrorism? A crazy lone wolf who reacts predictably to the fear and fury of the pack? Words erupting into violent action and reaction? Words shattering into the staccato of gun fire, into screams of terror and anguish? Words slurring into the soft gurgle of the dying? Couldn’t be.

Someone should tell America’s politicians, ad men, preachers and campaign consultants to pack up and get jobs where they actually have some influence. If, as they claim, they’re not capable of getting one crazed wingnut among millions to pick up a gun and open fire after months of professionally crafted goading and millions of dollars of airtime, they don’t deserve their big salaries.

Originally published at ValerieTarico.com

Obama saved the economy — and the GOP

Obama gave a priceless gift to the GOP: immunity from prosecution for war crimes, torture,  disastrous wars, politically motivated prosecutions by the Justice Department, widespread corruption, and other criminality.

In 2008, it appeared that the GOP was destined for many years of repudiation. They’d proven themselves corrupt, incompetent, and imperialistic.

But Obama nursed the GOP back to life by refusing to prosecute criminality, thereby hiding the wrongdoing from the American people.   Obama tried to be bipartisan. He compromised early and often. The GOP almost never compromised and often voted unanimously against the Democrats’ bills.

Obama had a chance to reorient America to a new paradigm of Democratic progressivism. Instead, he hid Bush-era criminality from the populace; surrounded himself with Bush holdovers and Wall Street cronies;  prosecuted the whistle blowers; expanded the power of the military, and governed as a centrist.  Obama didn’t fight.  As a result, in 2010 and 2014 the GOP roared back to life.   Americans were confused about who was to blame for the mess we’re in.

Indeed, Obama is a Wall Street Dem and a great friend of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

In 2008 we needed an FDR or at least an LBJ.  Instead we got a centrist Dem who said of himself, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies … back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

No wonder people didn’t turn out to vote in 2014.

From 2009 onwards I tried to submit resolutions to local Democratic organizations critical of Obama’s sellouts.  As you can imagine, those resolutions didn’t go over very well. “Are you crazy? Are you trying to help the GOP?”

There are those who would say that impeachment of Bush, Cheney and others would have been too divisive and would have led to a backlash against Democrats similar to what happened in 1999 when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton. The analogy doesn’t hold. Clinton was impeached for (lying about) sex. Bush and Cheney could have been impeached for torture, deception about the grounds for invading Iraq, and other crimes. See Kucinich Introduces 35 Articles of Impeachment.

In 2007,   members of the Washington State legislature were working on bills calling for the impeachment of President Bush.  Senator Patty Murray ordered them to stop.  See D.C. Dems want to stop legislative impeachment talk.

During the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, there were women aside from Anita Hill who were willing to testify that Thomas had sexually harassed them.  Then Senator Joe Biden did not allow the women to testify. See The Injustice Of Clarence Thomas.

Well, the Democratic leadership got the shellacking they deserved.  They don’t fight the good fight.  Unfortunately, millions of grassroots Dems are truly progressive but repeatedly get sold out by the leadership.

It all makes me sick.