Quickie: Wall Street prefers Hillary over populist Republicans

From The 6 Principles of the New Populism (and the Establishment’s Nightmare):

Wall Street and big business Republicans are already signaling they’d prefer a Democratic establishment candidate over a Republican populist.

Dozens of major GOP donors, Wall Street Republicans, and corporate lobbyists have told Politico that if Jeb Bush decides against running and Chris Christie doesn’t recover politically, they’ll support Hillary Clinton. “The darkest secret in the big money world of the Republican coastal elite is that the most palatable alternative to a nominee such as Senator Ted Cruz of Texas or Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky would be Clinton,” concludes Politico.

I bet the Pentagon would prefer Hillary too.

Amazing GOP hypocrisy

From USA Today’s story Challenger concedes GOP primary to controversial rep

A transcript of DesJarlais’ 2001 divorce showed that he and his then-wife, Susan, made a mutual decision to have two abortions. Still another woman has charged that DesJarlais encouraged her to get an abortion as well.

DesJarlais, a doctor whose congressional seat was a Democratic stronghold before he won it using tea party themes four years ago, also acknowledged in the court case he had sex with at least two patients and said he had prescribed painkillers for at least one of them.

Alas, DesJarlais won the primary.

Plutocracy is comin, to the USA

New, alternative lyrics for Leonard Cohen’s “Democracy is coming, to the USA” (see videos below)

Lyrics © Donald A. Smith
       D               G           D
It's coming from corruption that's profane
             D          A                 D
From Grover Norquist's government-hating brain
It's coming from the spiel 
       G_sus          G
That makes your head reel
    D           G                 D
when you listen to the right wing refrain.

From the Tea Party crazies
From the Chamber of Commerce hacks
From neocon imperialists
From Karl Rove's Super-PAC
 A                    G       D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

       D               G           D
It's coming from tax cuts for the rich,
       D          A                 D
From the Supreme Court, the 1%'s bitch.
It's coming from evil folk 
       G_sus           G
like David and Charles Koch 
    D                          G                D
and from Bill and Barry's traitorous rightward switch.

From Citizen United
From Clarence Thomas's smut
From John Robert's smirk 
From Anton Scalia's butt
 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

      D               G           D
It's coming from the wars. Open your eyes.
            D            A                  D
Killed millions. Wasted trillions. Hear the cries.
From the disaster in Vietnam
       G_sus           G
to the debacle of Afghanistan
    D               G         D
to the war in Iraq based on lies.

From the CIA's dirty deeds
From collateral clone attacks
From targeted assassinations
From illegal wire taps
 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

          A         G
    Bail out, bail out,
         D         G    D
    O sinking Ship of State!
    To the Shores of Greed
    Past the Reefs of Need
    To the Squalls of Hate.
          A      G     D
    Bail out, bail out, bail out.

      D               G           D
It's coming from your neighbor's SUV
      D               A           D
From the toxins that are killing off the bees.

It's coming from Big Oil,   
       G_sus           G
and the fracking and the spoil
    D                   G        D
and climate change denial fantasies. 

From ugly suburban sprawl
From filthy factory smoke,   
From the local big box mall
From David and Charles Koch
 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

      D               G           D
It's coming from right-wing media hosts
            D            A                  D
From the wingnuts with their hate-filled posts.

It's coming from Fox News
       G_sus           G
and its pro-corporate views
    D                    G          D
that are unfair and unbalanced at most.

From Limbaugh and Glenn Beck
From Bill O'Reilly's rants
From Hannity and Savage's drek
From Dennis Miller's cant

 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.


       D            G           D
It's coming from income inequality,
      D                 A         D
From tax loopholes  for Apple and GE.

It's coming from tax havens   
       G_sus           G
and accounting tricks so brazen
    D             G           D
it's a wonder they're not on TV.

From low capital gain tax rates 
From Walmart and Goldman Sachs
From Boeing and Microsoft
From tax enforcement cutbacks.

 A                   G        D
Plutocracy is comin, to the USA.

Here are two versions of Leonard Cohen’s original song.

Environmentalists target Rodney Tom

Washington Conservation Voters is holding a canvass/door-to-door  On Tuesday, March 11 from 3PM to 5PM to in Rodney Tom’s district, the 48th LD, to inform voters of his bad deeds with respect to thwarting environmental legislation.     See details here.

They write:

As the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Rodney Tom must be held responsible for his caucus’ decisions. This session, Senator Tom’s Environmental Committee Chair (Sen. Doug Ericksen, 0% WCV Lifetime Score) have: brought climate deniers in to testify, have proposed a Senate Budget that extends a loophole to out-of-state oil companies for millions of dollars and has even refused to hold hearings on environmental bills that passed the House in a bi-partisan fashion. These are bills that would have protected our community from toxic chemicals and volatile and hazardous oil trains!

We need to set the priorities straight in Olympia and there is only one more opportunity left this session. Washington Conservation Voters is going door-to-door this Tuesday to talk to voters in the 48th District about closing the Big Oil Tax Loophole.

Combined with Tom’s squashing of a bipartisan bill, SB 6313 to help the homeless (see Rodney Tom harms the homeless) and the Senate’s opposition to a transportation bill that would fund Metro Transit, Rodney Tom has given more than enough reason for voters to kick him out of office.

Is Thomas Frank's pessimism about the Democrats premature?

In the Salon article The matter with Kansas now: The Tea Party, the 1 percent and delusional Democrats,  Thomas Frank writes:

It wasn’t until several years later that I began to understand what a fascinating, upside-down extravaganza it was to see the right eat its way through the good sense of the nation.

While the above quote is a good description, I think Frank is a little off the mark with this essay, as he was with “What’s the Matter With Kansas.” (His best book is “The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves, and Beggared the Nation.”) While the subtitle nails the solution: “Economic populism’s the answer,” in the text he leaves the impression that it cannot happen.

The Populists I admire from history, and the members of the working class I got to know in my community and my family as i was growing up, never once ceded that the elites were their “betters.” The farmers of 100 years ago weren’t the dumb hicks portrayed in Hee Haw, that portrayal was itself part of the right-wing attack. The very idea that some wet-behind-the-ears punk with an MBA could run a company better than someone who’d worked their way up the ladder would have been ridiculous to someone from before WWII. And it turned out, it was ridiculous. They didn’t reject education and ability, but they knew it required more than an alphabet behind your name. They could smell bullshit a mile away. And most knew damn well that the malefactors of great wealth were not on their side.

Now the Republican base, despite the application of a cynical Tea Party veneer by the Koch brothers, falls for clowns like Huckabee, Brownback, and Santorum, careerist imbeciles like McMorris Rodgers and a hundred like her in Congress, ideological buffoons like Paul (father or son), Ryan, and Cruz. But this has not been a spontaneous occurrence. It was carefully orchestrated with lots of money, the most sophisticated PR and psychology, and an innovative method of organizing. Joe Bageant’s book, “Deer Hunting With Jesus,” provides a good description of how this works in one rural Virginia town, a sort of “What’s the Matter With Winchester, Virginia?”

Too much of the Democratic side of the aisle (especially in its political leadership) has never understood the irony of the title, “The Best and the Brightest.” They now look at the post war years as longingly as the Right, if for different reasons, and have gone on to permanently confuse credentials with ability. The broad prosperity that sprung from bottom-up economic advances is gone now but the inequities of our culture have stubbornly hung on. We are also still burdened with the problems that sprung from throwing our Republic in the dustbin in favor of Empire and a National Security State. Burdened too with a political death wish that up until now at least, has led to discarding and excluding real leaders who tell the truth in favor of hacks that want a share of the pie the other side has been carving up so efficiently.

Frank is accurate in his description of the Democratic party’s national leaders: “These days, the big thinkers of the Democratic Party have concluded that they can safely ignore the things I described. … There is no need to resolve the dilemmas I outlined in “Kansas,” no need to win back working-class voters or solve wrenching economic problems. In fact, there is no need to lift a finger to do much of anything, since vast, impersonal demographic forces are what rescued them from the trap I identified. ”

But Frank’s pessimism about the Democratic Party is perhaps premature. Those holding those views at the top are looking increasingly like dinosaurs. The little mammals scurrying around in the underbrush are growing more bold. The same year Frank wrote “Kansas,” the futility and failure of the Kerry campaign against the most insane administration in American history launched a new progressive movement. Ten years later we are starting to see the fruits of the slow organization that has taken place. The very centerpiece of the neoliberal globalist agenda at the moment, the Trans Pacific Partnership, seems to be foundering on a Democratic rock. A majority of Democrats in the House voted against the trillion dollar corporate Farm Bill with $9 billion in cuts to Food Stamps. As far back as 2008 Obama recognized the wisdom of running on a progressive message, his problem was he thought he didn’t have to deliver on it. But now Occupy and its reverberations has put “Income Inequality” on the lips of the president. Yes there are demographic changes too. But above all there is a population that is sinking into economic despair. Their olfactory sense seems to be returning and they are wondering, “What’s that smell?” Very slowly they are waking up to the fact that the sides are still the same.

Nothing is preordained at this point. Nor will anything be easy, about the only thing we’ve been working effectively at is digging our hole deeper. Continuing the awakening will take lots more hard work organizing. But now is not the time to stop pushing, the rock is starting to roll.

Size matters, but not as much as quality: More good government, less bad government, please!

Most debates about politics in America concern the question of how big the government should be.

Conservatives want small government. Liberals want big government. At least that’s the standard framing of the issues.

Of course, it’s not quite true that conservatives favor small government.  When it comes to national security, most conservatives have been strong supporters of  high Pentagon spending, military adventures, and expansive powers for the NSA and CIA.

And while conservatives are eager to cut spending for food stamps, education, regulatory agencies, and public health care, for example, most of them are quite happy with subsidies for corporate farming, Big Oil, and other favored industries.  (For more examples of how conservatives feed at the government trough, see Dean Baker’s book “The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer.”)

And most conservatives are OK with intrusive government when it comes to cultural issues: abortion, marriage, and drug policy.

Yet the Big versus Small framing of political debates isn’t totally wrong.  The libertarian wing of the conservative movement wants small government not only for social welfare, but also with regard to the military, the police, and cultural issues.  For example, many supporters of Ron Paul and of the Tea Party movement are disgusted with the corruption and waste surrounding government spending on the military, corporate subsidies, the Wall Street bailouts, and the failed war on drugs.

In short, the libertarians are the ideal conservatives. They really do want small government, not just for social spending.  Mainstream Republicans don’t consistency follow libertarian principles, but they often appeal to libertarian ideals in their speeches.

But the Big versus Small framing doesn’t address the real issues we face.

The problem isn’t that we have too much government or too little government.

The problem is that we have too much bad government and too little good government.

Some examples of bad government:  the Vietnam War, the second war in Iraq, the F35 Joint Strike Fighter, NSA surveillance, subsidies for Big Oil, the war on drugs, and bailouts for Goldman Sachs.

Some examples of good government:  public libraries, parks, childhood vaccination, contract law,  civil rights legislation, labor laws, pollution laws, invention of the Internet, medical research, Head Start, The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Social Security, Medicare, and public transit systems.

Anarchists and others on the further left resemble libertarians in that they oppose Big Government and fail to acknowledge all the good that government has done.  But anarchists go further and oppose corporations as well. They oppose all forms of hierarchical structure and favor bottom-up, horizontal, worker-owned, local enterprises.

I support efforts to implement such horizontal means of production. But they can’t account for the entirety of society and the economy.  Government programs such as Social Security, Medicare, civil rights laws, and other top-down, hierarchical programs have been a great boon to people, building the middle class, creating many technology and medical innovations, and protecting people from harm.    Hierarchical corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Intel, and auto makers are often efficient and innovative at producing products.   Horizontal, bottom-up enterprises do exist (open-source software, for example), but they are the exception.  Furthermore, how do anarchists propose stopping the formation of corporations?  Don’t you need big government for that?

In any case, we need laws and regulations, and those require government. Society without government regulation would be like football with no rules.

Five Political Ideologies, in one easy image

Yes, government in the US is largely broken now. It serves the corporations and the rich. But the solution isn’t to blindly reduce the size of government, as libertarians and anarchists would do.   If people try to subvert laws, that doesn’t mean we do away with laws. The solution is to fix the problem by reducing corruption and getting money out of politics.  This will likely require a huge movement, akin to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  But it’s doable. Things used to be better in the past. And many European nations have more equitable and just governments, without going the small government route.

Libertarians would say it is our responsibility to take care of ourselves and each other as needed; don’t depend on government.  But it is a fact that governments do take care of poor people, elderly people, and others unable to take care of themselves. Nobody else will take care of them.

Our country tried small government with the Articles of Confederation. That system didn’t work.  With no government at all, we’d be hunter-gatherers, lacking common laws, regulations, and government services.
Government is just We the People — or should be.

For further explanation, see Anarchism, Libertarianism and the way forward, Without Government We’d Still be Hunter-Gatherers and Government is like a Computer Operating System.


Quickie link: Koch Brothers and ALEC Target SeaTac $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Initiative

Goldy at the Slog is reporting:

If you want a good indication of how much is truly riding on SeaTac’s $15 an hour minimum wage initiative, you need look no further than who is fighting it: The ultra-conservative billionaire Koch brothers and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the corporate-funded lobbying group behind “model legislation” like Stand Your Ground, Voter ID requirements, and paid sick leave preemptions. Two of our nation’s most powerful right-wing political forces are joining together to fight and kill the $15 an hour minimum wage movement in tiny SeaTac before it has an opportunity to take root.

See the article on the Slog.

Fool’s gold: corporate media reports GOP spin as real news

When it comes to hypocrisy, the GOP (Grand Obstruction Party) has set a new gold standard. Rather, a new fool’s gold standard.

The Republican Party, led on a very short leash by well-monied pro-oligarchy business moguls and pro-apocalypse crazies, keeps on churning out pyrite from its thunderous right-wing sound machine, while corporate media reports on their bombast as if it were pure gold.

Passing this fool’s gold off as real media currency, the Republican shutdown of America is reported as though the Democratic Party were somehow at fault, too. When Republicans refuse bring up jobs, education, fair taxation and workers’ rights legislation for a vote in the House of Representatives, what do you hear on the evening news? “Congress” failed to act. As if the Democrats in the House and Senate were somehow co-conspiring to defeat the very job-producing, education-enhancing, revenue-increasing, labor-empowering legislation they themselves proposed!

So the GOP (Garrulous Obsequious Prevaricators) goes unchallenged in the mainstream media. Is it any wonder the voting public feels mislead, angry, confused?

Pro-corporate, anti-government bootlickers like the Tea Party skip along their merry way, spewing lies about the failure of government (which they’re doing their darndest to rid us of) and singing the praises of big-business “job creators” (who, while raking in obscene profits here in America, only appear capable of creating jobs overseas).

God forbid any media pundit on the Sunday talk shows should challenge any of the endless stream of GOP (Gerrymandering Obfuscating Pharisees) blowhards regarding their actual plans for improving the economy, proposing a real foreign policy, and (gasp!) actually governing the country.

No, the fool’s gold fantasy that the Republican Party has the best interests of farmers, workers, women, minorities, and, no doubt, star-spangled unicorns at heart continues unabated. None dare challenge to Holy Trinity of Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, and evangelical Christendom.

Meanwhile, Main Street, Middle America, and minorities of all stripes continue to be savagely gored by those cuddly-wuddly Wepublican unicorns.

It’s a media-made fiction that’s murdering America.

Exit Eisenhower and the traditional Republican Party. Enter Mussolini.

Originally published at examiner.com.

Call the waaambulance! GOP stamps feet, holds breath, shuts USA down

What happens when a tiny minority of sore losers—big losers at that—refuses to accept overwhelming defeat, script a new game plan and come back prepared for the next contest?

America is finding out, and it ain’t pretty.

Suppose, following its defeat in World War II, Japan had said, “Okay, so we lost. Now let’s negotiate. You’ll give us back the Philippines, right? Maybe China, too?” What if the Confederates had said, “We all surrender! Now let’s parlay. Y’all were just joshin’ about the slaves, right? They’ll stay on our plantations, of course.” Or the British said, “Jolly good shellacking you gave us. Now, which colonies do we continue to rule? Independence, indeed. Bloody foolish idea, eh what?”

Apparently the GOP (Grand Obstruction Party) didn’t get the memo: the war is over. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is the law of the land. And Americans don’t want to hear the Tea Party-led Republicans whine about cutting hard-earned and desperately needed programs like Social Security and Medicare. That battle’s over, too.

Most of us can remember a time when politicians actually relished the job of governing the country. The majority party tried its best to craft legislation that they felt would benefit Americans (and, of course, keep their party in the majority). The minority party would come up with alternative proposals and pitch them to the people. Debates would be held. Issues would be discussed. Congress would (this may sound shocking) bring bills up for votes and (gasp!) really vote on them! Then the electorate would decide who stayed in power and who went bye-bye.

Now? America suffers at the hands of a radical but well-funded (thank you, Koch brothers!) small band of ideological hypocrites (tea, anyone?) who don’t want to be held accountable for anything. Gun violence? Jobs? Education? The GOP won’t even bring those issues to a vote in the House. They’d rather just shut everything down and spend their time grandstanding on TV. Nope, governing’s just not a priority for them.

Odd, isn’t it? The party that’s always shouting the praises of unfettered competition magically morphs into a slobbering, whimpering pile of goo whenever they lose that competition. God forbid they should waste time trying to come up with solutions.

To paraphrase the oft-quoted Willie Nelson song, “Turn out the lights, the Tea Party’s over.”

Originally published at examiner.com

Story of hope: People want, need this care

Republicans in the Congress have lost. They failed to stop the Affordable Care Act from starting up. Every day, more and more people sign up for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. And every day, by doing nothing, the hole the republicans have dug for themselves gets deeper and deeper.

The numbers in our state tell the story: In just five days, 9,500 people completed their health care enrollments. Of these, 2,600 got immediate coverage. For the rest of the new enrollees, coverage kicks in on Jan. 1. They want this coverage. One thousand have already made their payments — two and a half months in advance.

People want — and need — health coverage. There is a pent-up need and a pent-up demand. Washington’s health exchange website has had 165,000 unique visitors, their call center has received 23,000 calls, almost 40,000 accounts have been created, and 10,000 applications have been completed in addition to the 9,500 enrollments.

This is a story of defeat for the congressional Republicans. But it is a story of hope and promise for our state and our country … that is, if you believe that American citizens should have the right to affordable health care.

Some people think the Affordable Care Act doesn’t do enough. It’s not universal health coverage. It is not a single-payer, Medicare-for-all system. It works through the market of private health insurance companies. It doesn’t challenge pharmaceutical pricing. That all is true … and it is beside the point.

The Affordable Care Act is what we have. Yes, it was a tortured process of political compromise and bargaining. But it is the law. And now we see that it works. The Congressional Republicans should embrace it. Its genesis was in right-wing think tanks that wanted to preserve the private market options for health care. They won that argument. Now we see that it successfully extends health coverage. Great — the GOP should embrace this instead of running away from it.

Instead, the actual implementation of the Affordable Care Act has pulled the curtain aside and revealed the true intentions of the congressional Republicans: they don’t want to extend health coverage to Americans.

Our state’s own congressional Republicans — Dave Reichert, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Doc Hastings and Jaime Herrera Butler — are partly responsible for the government shutdown being used in an attempt to defund Obamacare. They aren’t questioning their own leadership. They’re kowtowing to the tea party caucus.

Sure, they have made a big deal about forgoing their pay or giving it to charity during the government shutdown. But none of them are giving up their government-provided health coverage. None of them would want to see themselves or their family members denied care because of pre-existing conditions. None of them want to impose lifetime limits on their own insurance coverage, and frankly, if there were limits, probably some of them would go bankrupt.

These members of Congress have all the benefits of the Affordable Care Act themselves — they just don’t want their constituents, the American citizens who vote for (and against) them, to have the right to those benefits.

It doesn’t have to be this way. They don’t have to proceed along this crazy pathway to defund the federal government — which wouldn’t roll back the Affordable Care Act anyway. Washington’s congressional Republicans should learn from some of their Republican colleagues in our state Legislature — those 22 Republicans from all over the state who voted for the operating expenses of the health benefit exchange. They wanted to make the Affordable Care Act work. And now that it is working, they can claim some of the credit! That’s what governance is all about in our democracy.

Congressional Republicans should take that lesson to heart…and stop playing ideological games with Americans’ health.

Originally published at the Everett Herald