Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Predictions for 2014

Needless to say, predictions for 2014 are all over the map.  (Here are some links.)

In no particular order of importance or validity:

Mitch McConnell will lose his Senate seat.  His Democratic opponent (not the teabirther) will win the election.

Neither the House nor the Senate will change hands.

Rick Perry will run for president again; Jeb Bush will not.

The teatard governors of Florida and Pennsylvania will not be re-elected.

Ukraine's pro-Russia totalitarian leader will not be in power at the end of 2014.

There will be a deal between the U.S. and Iran, but the deal might create more problems than it solves.

According to a Vedic astrologer, Hillary Clinton will never become president of the United States.  Therefore: “If the Democrats want to win the 2016 elections, they had better find some good candidate. I would love to see the horoscopes of all the aspiring Presidents and would then say who would be the best President for this country!”

Noam Chomsky doesn't have much hope for 2014:  “We are racing towards environmental catastrophe and the growing threat of nuclear war, as if we were determined to fall off a precipice.”

Uh oh, and we don't have our Life Alert medallion.

Interesting times ahead.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top Ten Villains of 2013

As the article says, there were too many villains in 2013 to fit into a Top Ten list.  “Sorry Sarah Palin, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Erik Rush, Rick Santorum, Gordon Klingenschmitt and Ken Blackwell; you all missed the cut” (from the linked article).

Dishonorable Mention goes to Nevada state Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, who said he would vote to reinstate slavery if he thought that was what his constituents wanted.  He said this during the summer of 2012 but the statement didn't make it to the press until two months ago.

Top Ten entries include:

Rand Paul (where to begin...);

Darrell Issa, America's favorite car thief, arsonist and insurance fraudster;

The town of Steubenville, Ohio, for the city fathers' massive coverup of a gang rape.  If it weren't for the hacktivist group Anonymous, nobody would have been prosecuted.  For that matter, we never would have even known about it.

Wayne LaPierre, Ghoul-in-Chief of the NRA;

The Koch Brothers.  As Raw Story calls them, the banal white faces of dark money.

Third place was a tie between Rafael Cruz and his Idiot Bastard Son Ted.

Sixth place was a tie between two sickfuck judges:  C. Todd Baugh, who sentenced a rapist to one month in prison (his 14-year-old victim later committed suicide); and Jean Boyd, who sentenced a repeat drunk driver (who had killed four pedestrians) to probation instead of the 20-year sentence that prosecutors had sought.  The perp, Ethan Couch, had been suffering from Affluenza and hence was not responsible for his actions.

What a year.


Friday, December 27, 2013

America's Entire Electoral System “Rotting From the Inside Out”

Now that Christmas is over, I can go ahead and write this depressing, most un-Christmasy post.  The linked article isn't just the usual bitching about voter suppression or elections being stolen by dark money.  Those are just symptoms of a much larger systemic problem.

America's fifty-plus state electoral systems — one for each state, each U.S. territory and the District of Columbia — are basically a giant cesspool of corruption and inaction.  Ditto for the Federal Election Commission, which is supposed to be overseeing all of the state operations. From the linked article:

“...when judged by international standards the US would rank near the bottom of electoral democracies.”

That's the opinion of Robert Pastor, director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management and an international elections monitor. 

And the Center for Public Integrity has completed a 6-month investigation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  The investigation analyzed “thousands of records and interviews with more than 50 current and former commissioners, staff members and associates.”  Among their findings:

The FEC has been virtually paralyzed, failing to act on dozens of rules, audits and enforcement matters.  In spite of the FEC's increased workload — thanks to Citizens United and other free speech rulings — the agency's staffing level is the lowest in fifteen years.  And some of the FEC's top positions are vacant, including general counsel, chief financial officer and accounting director.  Also, the agency's staff director doubles as the IT director.  Because of the increased workload and reduced staffing, the FEC has a quarter-million-page backlog that includes 270 pending enforcement cases.

These problems are exacerbated by ideological rivalry between commissioners and a who gives a flying fuck?” attitude from Congress and the White House.

The 2014 election promises to have more 7-figure campaign contributions and more mudslinging than any previous election.

Should be fun.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fight Climate Change by Taxing Meat?


Granted the idea doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of ever being implemented.  This is even more of a non-starter than the carbon tax.  But the fact remains it's a great idea.  (And no I'm not vegan or vegetarian or anything like that.)

A group of scientists including the head of the U.N.'s climate science panel and Lord Stern, an economist, have recommended reducing methane emissions by making meat more expensive.  This would be done through a tax or some sort of emissions trading scheme.

Again, this is way too unpopular for anyone in power to even think of establishing it.  But still...

This recommendation was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.  The article says:

“Influencing human behaviour is one of the most challenging aspects of any large-scale policy, and it is unlikely that a large-scale dietary change will happen voluntarily without incentives.  Implementing a tax or emission trading scheme on livestock’s greenhouse gas emissions could be an economically sound policy that would modify consumer prices and affect consumption patterns.”

The article is based on the U.N. finding that methane emissions from livestock are the cause of 14.5% of all human-caused greenhouse gases.

In addition to the farts from billions of sheep and cattle, another culprit is the millions of acres of land being used solely to grow corn and soybeans to feed all the livestock; not to mention the billions of trees that were cut down in order to plant these crops.

As some of the commenters at the linked article pointed out, let's start by eliminating ALL subsidies for corn and soybeans.  (As long as we're dreaming...)

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Cal Thomas: “'Income Inequality?' Try some Hard Work Instead”

You've gotta be F'in kidding.  The only redeeming thing about Cal Thomas is that he's generally a lot more civil than his fellow teajobs.  But this column has to be the most clueless simple-minded crock of shit he's ever written.

Apparently income inequality is just the latest bleeding-heart liberal soundbite; just another excuse for class warfare and robbing Peter to pay Paul.  If there's any sort of income inequality, it's simply because the one percent are tireless dedicated workaholics and the 99% are just lying around smoking pot and feeling sorry for themselves.

Nevermind the fact that most economists agree America's gargantuan wealth gap is hindering the economy.  It's much more fun to sit back and reminisce about walking to school through hurricanes and blizzards, uphill both ways.


Starting with my first summer job as a bellhop and kitchen worker at a hotel in Maine when I was 14...on a really good day I made as much as $8 in tips. The hotel owner paid me a salary of $20 a week, but included a small room in the basement and all the food I could eat. He made more money than I did...In the early '60s, as a copyboy at NBC News in Washington, my take-home pay was less than $100 a week.


Most of Cal Thomas' readers won't grasp this, but:  after adjusting for inflation, $100 a week in the early '60s was a decent wage; probably more than a lot of today's workers are making.  Ditto for a 14-year-old making $20 a week plus room and board and up to $8 a day in tips.

Can you stand a little more of this drivel?

President Obama and some leaders in the Democratic Party appear to want us to accept a false premise: that if I earn more money than you, I 'owe' you some of my money to make things 'fair'...Income 'inequality' is a part of the greed-envy-entitlement philosophy promoted by liberals who want to addict more people to government and entice them to vote for the party that is effectively buying their loyalty...Today, the attitude promoted by the income 'inequality' crowd is one of victimization. Poor people are told they are victims because successful people have stolen from them what is rightfully theirs.

[rolls eyes]  Had enough?

The linked column has plenty more of this same simplistic garbage, if you're feeling really masochistic.  Or you can always turn on Fox News and hear the same talking points.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Company You Keep

Excellent movie.  I remembered reading an article about it, but I wasn't planning to go see it or rent it.  But it was on one of our movie channels last night, so why not?

Robert Redford directed, co-produced and starred in The Company You Keep.  He plays a former student radical from the Weather Underground who's been on the lam for over 30 years.  He's managed to stay one step ahead of the FBI with a new name and totally new life.  Anyone who liked Running On Empty (River Phoenix, Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti) would like The Company You Keep.

The movie starts out with Susan Sarandon playing Robert Redford's fellow Weather Underground fugitive getting arrested by the FBI after she had already planned to turn herself in.

(There was an L.A. Law episode with that exact same theme.  The corrupt FBI agent was played by the same actor who played Kruger on all those Seinfeld episodes.)

I'm usually not interested in reliving the political turmoil of the '60s and '70s, which is why I wasn't planning to see this movie.  But it was riveting excellent acting, great cast, plot twists, etc.  And it was interesting to compare the differences and similarities of then and now.  As they say, plus ca change...

Definitely worth checking out.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Extend the Wind Production Tax Credit

The wind production tax credit will expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts.  Wind energy has made great inroads and we need to do everything possible to keep this momentum going.  For just one example, twenty-five percent of Iowa's electricity is generated by wind.

Needless to say, the fossil fuel industry via its army of think tanks and congressional prostitutes is pushing frantically to end this tax credit.

If you DON'T want renewable energy to be sabotaged by the fossil fuel industry, please sign this petition.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Tom Laughlin / Billy Jack

Tom Laughlin aka Billy Jack died on December 12th at age 82.  (I just saw the news story today.)

The movie Billy Jack was the second of a series of movies where he played the character Billy Jack.  I didn't see any of the other Billy Jack movies; just Billy Jack.  Of all the movies that capture that undefinable late '60s/early '70s zeitgeist, Billy Jack is right up there with Easy Rider and Getting Straight (Elliot Gould and Candice Bergen).  In spite of all the violence and tragedy, the movie just oozed that feelgood quality, IMHO.

Billy Jack was released in 1971, but Tom Laughlin had already written the script in 1954, based on the treatment of Native Americans in South Dakota.

Billy Jack is still the highest-grossing independent film of all time.  Tom Laughlin's wife, Delores Taylor they were married from 1954 until his death four days ago acted in and co-produced all of the Billy Jack films.

In 1975, Tom Laughlin said The youth of this country have only two heroes, Ralph Nader and Billy Jack.

I never knew, or maybe I just forgot, that Tom Laughlin ran for president in 1992, 2004 and 2008.


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Simple Math Lesson for Senate Republicans

Now that presidential nominations can no longer be filibustered, the Senate has finally started voting on some of the nominees who have been blocked year after year.  The Senate can finally start filling some of the hundreds of judicial and executive vacancies created by years of filibustering and other GOP obstruction tactics.

Even without the filibuster, the opposition party can still spend up to thirty hours of debate on each nominee before finally agreeing” to hold a vote.  And needless to say, that's exactly what Senate Republicans are doing.

Now:  multiply thirty hours by the dozens of nominees whom Senate Democrats are determined to vote on ASAP, and what do you get?  Overtime.  Lots and lots of overtime.  The Senate has a lot of looong days and nights ahead.  During the next few weeks they'll be pulling more all-nighters than a college student cramming for finals.

Anyone whose IQ is higher than his/her shoe size could have made this exact prediction.  And this is exactly why Senate Republicans are absolutely dumbfounded, and throwing a hissyfit, that the obvious has finally happened.  Let's see...deliberately spending thirty hours delaying and dithering with each nomination knowing that there are dozens more nominees to be voted on and then being shocked! when you find out you've got some long hours ahead.  Jesus H. Christ, put two and two together!  With their complete inability to connect the dots, how did these dickwads ever graduate from high school, let alone get elected to higher office?

Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (RFlunked Math) said:

“I think it resembles fourth graders playing in a sandbox, and I’ll give the majority leader, Harry Reid, 99 percent of the responsibility for it.”

Several long-delayed federal judges have already been confirmed during the past few days, and next week's Senate schedule looks even more hectic.  If GOP senators keep digging in their heels, they might end up working through Christmas and New Years, if that's what it takes to get these backlogged nominees voted on.

Give 'Em Hell Harry Reid.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Marijuana: Assassin of Youth — the Global Version

Uruguay has become the first country to legalize marijuana.  Hissyfits are already being thrown by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).  INCB president Raymond Yans said Uruguay's action would:

...have the perverse effect of encouraging early experimentation" and fails to consider its negative impacts on health since scientific studies confirm that cannabis is an addictive substance with serious consequences for people's health. Cannabis is not only addictive but may also affect some fundamental brain functions, IQ potential, and academic and job performance.

He forgot to mention marijuana's other hazards:  Someone who smokes pot turns into a raving lunatic after just one puff from a deadly reefer.  And marijuana is a stepping stone to heroin.  Remember, 98% of all heroin addicts started off on marijuana.

Also, marijuana causes those embarrassing flashbacks.  You could be in the middle of a job interview and suddenly you're re-living that bad trip from three years ago when you took too much — oh sorry, wrong drug.

Yans also says Uruguay, along with most other countries, is bound by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.  1961?  1961?!?!?!?  Earth to Rip Van Winkle!

Oh and by the way, marijuana is NOT a narcotic.

America's limited government conservatives have always warned us that we can't legalize marijuana because of U.N. agencies and global treaties we've signed.  Rightwingers either can't or won't grasp that the United Nations and other global agencies are advisory only.

But the Far Right can fulfill two goals if they persuade enough people that the U.N. is a vicious global police force with absolute authority over the world.  In addition to pretending we can't legalize marijuana because the U.N. won't let us, the Right can get their useful idiots all fired up over Agenda 21 and other U.N.-based environmental goals.  Every environmental and sustainable-growth proposal is a U.N. plot to destroy America.  U.N. thugs are gonna come parachuting into our backyards and steal our property rights!

Let's hope Uruguay is the first of many countries to take a common sense approach to drug laws.  Or to paraphrase Ethan Nadelmann:  One country down, 198 to go.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Obama-Castro Handshake Shakes Up the Inbreds

Earlier today at a memorial for Nelson Mandela, President Obama shook hands with Cuban president Raul Castro.  Instantly, the Far Right cranked up their Outrage Machine and started transmitting.  Calling all inbreds...

John McCain said Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler.

(Whatever happened to Godwin's Law?  Or does that only apply when there's a Republican in the White House?)

Somebody at DeadBart wrote:

For those who believe in human rights and liberty, the sight of our president bounding up some stairs to energetically shake hands with Raul Castro, dictator of Cuba, was more than a little unsettling regardless of the circumstance.

Two Florida Republicans, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Senator Marco Rubio, both lashed out at The Handshake.  Ros-Lehtinen sputtered:

It is nauseating.  Sometimes a handshake is just a handshake, but when the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like Raul Castro, it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant.

They were at a FUNERAL, you dumbfuck.

It's not 1959 any more.  Let's move on.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Aeon Financial: Giving Vulture Capitalists a Bad Name

Vulture Capitalism seems to be a general term referring to predatory corporate behavior:  foreclosure mills evicting as many homeowners as they can, as fast as they can; Mitt Romney's Bain Capital purchasing a company, laying off most of the workers and then selling the company for a huge profit, etc.

Several years ago when I first learned the term Vulture Capitalism, it referred to the practice of buying debts that had been incurred by bankrupt third world governments.  A bank would purchase these debts for pennies on the dollar and then try to extort the full amount of the debt from the impoverished country.

And now there's a much more up-close-and-personal version of Vulture Capitalism.  Aeon Financial has bought up more than 1,300 tax liens in the Washington DC area. After purchasing a tax lien, Aeon demands that the homeowner pay the back taxes he/she owes, PLUS Aeon's legal fees and court costs, which is often three times as high as the taxes owed.

Like most sleazebucket organizations, Aeon Financial is trying to hide the identity of its employees and even its location.  Aeon was incorporated in Delaware but claims it's located in Chicago's Willis Tower.  Only, officials at Willis Tower have said Aeon is not a tenant.

Find Waldo.

The Washington Post has tracked the ownership of Aeon to Mark Alan Schwartz, a lawyer who claims he's only representing Aeon.  Three other slippery now-you-see-me-now-you-don't companies affiliated with Aeon Financial are:  Axis Investment Holdings Trust, Axis Capital and Records Direct.

WTF are these slippery eels trying to hide?

Every time you think Vulture Capitalists can't possibly sink any lower, they do.

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Sunday, December 08, 2013

Congress Could Be Replaced by Illegal Immigrants

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Day Workers

Friday, December 06, 2013

ALEC's Newest Target: Freeloading Homeowners Who Install Solar Panels

ALEC, as you know, is the corporate-funded bill mill that bombards state legislatures with suggested model legislation pushing various corporate agendas.  More often than not, these model bills are dutifully passed by ALEC's prostitutes (formerly known as state legislators).

What's the common ground between Voter Suppression laws, Stand Your Ground laws and farm states' Ag Gag laws?  ALEC is the man behind the curtain.

ALEC has already tried to sabotage renewable energy development by overturning state laws that require a certain percentage of a state's energy to come from renewable sources.  But now ALEC is stepping up the viciousness by pushing for a stealth tax on homeowners who install solar energy panels.  (Conservatives have nothing against taxes; they just don't think corporations and wealthy individuals should pay them.)

In some states, homeowners are compensated by the local utility company when they install solar panels.  The homeowner gets paid a small fee for excess solar power that he/she sells back to the utility.  If you're affiliated with the fossil fuel industry, this is NOT acceptable.  ALEC wants utility companies to reduce the amount they pay to solar homeowners, or ideally to charge these freeloading homeowners for having installed solar panels in the first place.  ALEC spokesman John Eick said with a straight face:

“As it stands now, those direct generation customers are essentially freeriders on the system.” 

The director of the Energy and Policy Institute pointed out the obvious:

“They [ALEC] are trying to eliminate pro-solar policies in the states to protect utility industry profits.” 

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Nelson Mandela: R.I.P.

Nelson Mandela has passed away at the age of 95.  South Africa's president Jacob Zuma said:

“He is now resting.  He is now at peace.  Our nation has lost its greatest son.  Our people have lost a father.  Wherever we are in the country, wherever we are in the world ... let us reaffirm his vision of a society in which none is exploited, oppressed or dispossessed by another.”

After spending twenty-seven years in South African prisons, Nelson Mandela ultimately triumphed over apartheid, led his country to democracy and became South Africa's first black president.  He also won the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Obama said Mandela “achieved more than could be expected of any man.  I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example Nelson Mandela set.”

In Nelson Mandela's book “Long Walk to Freedom written while he was in prison he wrote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion.  People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Words to live by.



Wednesday, December 04, 2013

President Obama: Income Inequality a “Fundamental Threat” to Our Way of Life

Finally!  Liberal columnists and bloggers have been saying this for years.  It's way past time for mainstream politicians to admit it and get this subject out in the open.  Maybe we can all finally start talking about the white elephant in the room.

At a speech in Washington DC earlier today, President Obama said:

“The combined trends of increased inequality and decreasing mobility pose a fundamental threat to the American dream, our way of life, and what we stand for around the globe...A growing deficit of opportunity is more of a threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit.

And he had a message for Republicans:

You owe it to the American people to tell us what you are for, not just what you're against.

He also took a swipe at the Republicans' knee-jerk slogans about free enterprise" and the invisible hand of the marketplace

It's not enough anymore to just say we should get our government out of the way and let the unfettered market take care of it, for our experience tells us that's just not true.

It's one thing for rightwing bloggers to spout off about Class Warfare! to their readers, all twelve of them.  Let's see if Republican politicians will spew out these same tired soundbites in front of millions of Americans.  If any high-profile conservatives have the nerve to regurgitate politics of envy and equal opportunity, not equal outcome on nationwide TV, they've got more balls than I thought.


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Scott Walker Declares War on Christmas

When I saw this article yesterday, I was sure it was either a hoax or something from a tongue-in-cheek website e.g. The Onion that somebody took seriously.  But apparently not.

Last week, Governor Scott Walker's campaign sent an e-mail urging Walker's supporters to forgo buying Christmas presents for their children, and instead donate that money to Scott Walker's re-election campaign.

(Here are some links.)

And this article has a screenshot of the offending e-mail:

Here is the email in full:
Straight from the Horse's Ass's Mouth.  Like they say, you can't make this shit up.
And speaking of Scott Walker, let us remember The Rude Pundit's immortal description of him: ...a man who looks like he just huffed spray paint fumes while rubbing a dead possum against his face.

It looks like all those rightwing pundits were correct after all:  There really IS a War on Christmas.  This war isn't being waged by pagan cashiers who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  It's being waged by Patriotic Biblehumping Union-busting Scott Walker and his henchmen.

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Monday, December 02, 2013

Wolverines Might Be Listed as Threatened Species

The federal government is considering giving Threatened Species status to the wolverine.  Sounds like a no-brainer, since there are fewer than 300 wolverines left in the Lower 48.  (A Threatened Species listing wouldn't apply in Alaska.)

In addition to their tiny population, climate change is the biggest threat to the wolverine.  Wolverines depend on snow-covered terrain to survive, and that's the exact type of environment that's diminishing as we speak.  If the federal government does list the Wolverine as Threatened, climate change would be the main reason.

But for every no-brainer, there's a braindead neck-drooler going DUUUHHH!!!  The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife is objecting to a Threatened Species listing based on climate change.  Bill Bates of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said:

“Climate change models are not a reason to list species under the Endangered Species Act. We can wait and see what happens with climate change in the next 20 to 30 years.” 

WTF???  Right, and then when wolverines and other northern species have gone extinct, we can all say  Darn it, I guess we should have had more foresight thirty years ago.

If the wolverine is listed as a Threatened Species, trappers won't be able to trap them any more, except in Alaska.  There are only two motives for trapping wolverines.  If you get your rocks off watching an animal suffering and dying in a trap, just masturbate instead.

If you want to make money selling wolverine pelts get a job, Parasite.

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