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Republican Contempt For The Constitution

In case you missed it yesterday, forty-seven republicans in the senate sent a letter to the Ayatollah of Iran, letting him know that Obama’s word in the negotiations is basically meaningless. Think I’m being hyperbolic? See for yourself;

It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system.  Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution—the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices—which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.
 
We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.
 
First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them.  In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote.  A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate).  Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.
 

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics.  For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms.  As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.  The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

Here’s the thing; congress’ role with regard to foreign treaties, is to vote on a deal after the president has done the negotiating. Congress does not enter into treaties with foreign countries. And it’s unprecedented for congress to step in to halt a treaty. This has literally never happened before.

These idiots think they stuck it to the black guy but what they actually did, was take another step toward turning the US into the clown car of developed countries. Step one was with the perpetual government shutdowns over deciding whether to pay for the spending they already approved (and spent). That was nice. Those headlines all around the world that basically said, "WTF, United States?" were awesome. So was the downgrading of our credit rating. So now what they’ve done, in addition to letting the world know that we don’t take our debt all that seriously, is to tell the world that we don’t take our president all that seriously and neither should they.

I’ve never witnessed this level of disrespect for the office of the presidency. Not even when it was deserved in 2000, when the president was selected by the Supreme Court (it’s a fact, look it up), rather than duly elected by the citizens of the United States. No one in congress threw a temper tantrum to subvert the powers of the executive branch, just because the presidency wasn’t legitimately won by that occupant of the oval office. I didn’t see this level of disrespect when congress passed The Boland Amendment explicitly banning president Reagan from "overthrowing the government of Nicaragua or provoking a war between Nicaragua and Honduras". Reagan flat out ignored that law and went ahead and did as he pleased anyway, and that congress never undermined him the way this congress is undermining President Obama.

These were legitimately questionable presidencies and still, congress respected the authority given to the president by the constitution. Why? Well for one, I don’t think it ever occurred to them to so thoroughly crap on the constitution, the way this congress has.

But more importantly, I want to believe that there was some thought given to precedent. This moronic republican congress is utterly incapable of calculating the ramifications of their actions. President Obama has less than two years left in office so shitting on him in public doesn’t have much of an upside if you really think about it. It is well within congress’ power not to ratify any deal Obama makes with Iran. From the constitution;

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…..

All they had to do, was to wait for their turn to vote on any deal Obama may have made with Iran. This letter wasn’t about killing the treaty. It was about undermining Obama. They weren’t afraid that Obama was going to make a bad deal, as their leader President Netanyahu warned. They were afraid that he was going to make a really good deal that was going to neutralize this bogeyman they love so much, for good. But they actually did way more than that. They permanently undermined the executive branch. They diminished not only this president, but all future presidents, as well as all future congresses.

They literally turned the United States government into the laughing stock of the world. They turned themselves into a joke.

Read me now, quote me later; they insured that President Obama will have an approval rating greater than or equal to the 68% that President Clinton had when he left office. I’ll go a step further so that you don’t have to wait nearly two years to see if I know what the hell I’m talking about; by summer, President Obama’s approval rating is going to be around 50%. These morons in congress have ensured that President Obama will be seen as one of the most beloved presidents in history. Why? Because the American people don’t like to see their president picked on by congress or anyone else. We’ve seen this movie before with Bill Clinton. On December 18, 1998, the house spent the whole day debating the impeachment of President Clinton. On December 19, 1998, the house approved two articles of impeachment. On December 19 – 20, 1998, Gallup reports the highest approval rating of the Clinton presidency at 73%.

My prediction isn’t wishful thinking, or rectally generated. I usually have a basis I can point to when I embark on the fool’s errand of making predictions!

Here’s another thing that congress didn’t take into account; sanctions against Iran. We alone, can’t successfully damage Iran with our sanctions. We have partners all around the world that joined us in squeezing Iran hard enough to get them to the negotiating table. I suspect that more than a few of our allies in these sanctions is going to question whether going along with the US still seems like a good idea. The sanctions that Obama negotiated had their desired effect; getting Iran to the negotiating table. If our congress is saying that we won’t be sitting on the other side of that table, under any circumstances, I don’t see why our allies would continue with the sanctions.

There is literally no upside for congressional republicans or the American people at large, in what those forty-seven idiotic senators did yesterday. They accomplished nothing for themselves, for you, or for the rest of the world. And if they get to their goal of starting a war with Iran, it’s going to be your kids that fight it.

Elections have consequences. This last election had nothing but negative consequences for all of us, regardless of party affiliation.

 

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Operation FDR

My dirty hippie mayor, who won his election by a nearly 50 point spread by running as a socialist, has some wise words for our pathetic democratic party political machine.

I live in New York City so my mayor is Bill de Blasio.  I started volunteering with de Blasio’s campaign when he was polling in 4th place. Not because I routinely get involved in political campaigns. I don’t. I’m seldom motivated to. De Blasio motivated me. I knew he was going to be the next mayor of New York City because of his populist message. I knew the message was the right one.

Raising taxes was part of his platform. No really, it was. I knew that he was going to win because of it. He wanted to raise taxes on the filthiest of the rich in New York City by a tiny amount so that he could provide universal pre-k to every child in the city. Who wins an election in America by promising to raise taxes? Bill de Blasio. Jerry Brown. Twenty seven districts in Wisconsin voted to raise their own taxes. New Orleans voted to amend their freaking constitution to raise taxes. Clayton County in bright red Georgia voted to raise their own taxes. That’s what I could find in a ten minute Google search. One single search string, five pages into those hits. There are definitely more, but you get my point. Some Americans are starting to realize that if you want nice things, you have to pay for them.

Americans are becoming more and more liberal. All across the country, Americans voted to raise the minimum wage. The majority of us have embraced marriage equality. Americans are becoming increasingly less interested in throwing people in prison for smoking pot, so they’re taking the matter in their own hands. That "tough on crime" mantra that gave us those "three strikes" laws in some states is starting to be recognized for the disaster that it is and is slowly being undone by the voters. 

We are becoming more liberal every year, and Bill de Blasio knew it. The democratic party did not. They ran a shit show of an election effort all across the country. Some democratic voters are attributing the blood bath of 2014 to voter suppression. I agree that this was a contributing factor, but the margins shouldn’t have been close enough for that to be true. Others are saying that democrats were wildly outspent. That’s only true in a few races where republicans had to polish their biggest turds: Rick Scott, Rick Snyder, Sam Brownback, and a few others. But generally speaking, the spending was fairly even. The problem was that democrats didn’t have a platform. They ran as "republican lite", and it was absurd. Who the hell is going to vote for republican lite? Democrats? Republicans? Democrats put on a shit show this time around. Alison Grimes can’t say she voted for Obama, yet she’s campaigning with Elizabeth Warren who is the face of socialism? WTF kind of disjointed message was that? How hard is this, "Yes I voted for President Obama and that’s why nearly 500,000 Kentuckians have health insurance for the first time in lord knows how long"? See, that was the perfect answer because it’s true, it sounds genuine, and the word ‘lord" made it in there for good measure! Mark Pryor ran a commercial in which he was thumping his bible so hard, that I swear I lost approximately 10% of my hearing.

To summarize: liberalism won, but "republican lite" lost to "the real deal republican". Any regrouping or strategizing democrats do that ignores this fact is going to be useless.

Enter my socialist mayor. He had a little advice for the party. I agree with everything he said, but I want to go over the parts I found particularly prescient.

As a Democrat, I’m disappointed in last Tuesday’s results. But as a progressive, I know my party need not search for its soul — but rather, its backbone.

We are so off to a good start here.

The truth is that the Democratic Party has core values that are very much in sync with most Americans.

We believe in taking dead aim at the income inequality that infects our communities — from big cities like New York, to small towns and rural areas across the United States.

We believe that the wealthy should pay their fair share so we can lift people out of poverty and grow our middle class.

And we believe in rules that prevent big corporations and Wall Street banks from unraveling workers’ pensions, suppressing employees’ wages and benefits, and rigging the system to reward wealth instead of work.

Hellooo, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, and Bill de Blasio and your incredibly high approval ratings. There’s a reason why they’re so popular, and that was it.

This year, too many Democratic candidates lost sight of those core principles — opting instead to clip their progressive wings in deference to a conventional wisdom that says bold ideas aren’t politically practical.

To working people, it showed Democratic weakness — a weak commitment to the change desperately sought by struggling families, and a weak alternative to a Republican philosophy that has held America back.

Yep. When Alison Grimes refused to say that she voted for president Obama, she looked like a little weasel. Nobody likes an oily politician who can’t even pretend to be sincere for as long as they’re campaigning.

Bold, progressive ideas win elections.

Just ask Senator Al Franken, who has fought fearlessly to rein in Wall Street, and won by a larger margin on Tuesday than President Obama did in Minnesota in 2012.

Or Senator Jeff Merkley, who never backed away from his support for Obamacare — a federal program that is already working to reduce income inequality, and promises to do more to address the inequality crisis than anything out of Washington in generations. Merkley won re-election in Oregon by six points more than Obama won that state in 2012.

Then there’s Governor Jerry Brown, who cruised to re-election after championing — and winning — a millionaire’s tax that dedicated funding to California’s public schools.

And don’t forget Governor Dan Malloy — who was written off by so many in his re-election bid in Connecticut. Malloy raised taxes so he could invest more in education each year (at a time when other Governors were slashing education to close yawning budget gaps). Malloy passed earned sick time and a minimum wage hike. And in his re-election bid, he proudly stood alongside President Obama.

Malloy not only lived to tell about it on Tuesday, he increased his margin of victory in a rematch with his 2010 Republican opponent.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. I have nothing more to add to that.

Critics will point to competitive Senate races in Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina as places where such progressive policies would all but ensure Democrats’ defeat.

Our question is: how would they know?

In those states, Democratic candidates didn’t say much about progressive taxation, expanding health and retirement benefits, or implementing anti-poverty efforts like universal pre-k or affordable housing.

In Kentucky, more than 413,000 residents have signed up for Obamacare — making it one of the program’s most notable success stories. Arkansas had the nation’s fourth highest poverty rate last year, at 19.7%. In North Carolina — nearly 60% of three-and-four-year olds are not enrolled in pre-k. What were the Democratic candidates offering voters there?

Exactly right. If the progressive ideas are popular, why is running progressive candidates never an option? That was some crappy strategery (my little homage to Bush) on the part of Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who just plain suck at politics.

We saw photo-ops with candidates firing their rifles of choice; witnessed rhetorical gymnastics about how different they were from Obama; and watched televised debates dominated by empty attacks on the Koch Brothers’ influence on campaigns, rather than policies requiring billionaires like the Kochs to pay their fair share in taxes to fund programs benefiting working people.

I’m not blaming the individual candidates here. The strategies they employed are largely the making of Washington insiders who force-feed message points on candidates under threat of being written off by their national party infrastructure.

Yep. That’s his non-Bitchy way of describing the shit show I’ve been referring to for the past week and a half. And he’s referring to the incompetence of Israel and Wasserman-Schultz without naming names.

Acknowledging the need to address income inequality helps win elections. Want proof? Look at the Republicans. In several contests where the GOP prevailed last Tuesday, candidates spoke directly to voters’ concerns on issues like poverty, wage equality, and underemployment.

And tackling inequality is not only good politics; it’s good government.

Yes! The core of the republican base, that 30% that stuck with Bush to the bitter end, the ones who loved Sarah Palin have twisted themselves up so far that they don’t realize this. They think that working hard and not getting jack shit for it is the American way. They have themselves so twisted up into a pretzel, that they literally can’t tell you what they’re advocating for anymore, other than punching down. But they are only 30% of the country. Another twenty percent, who were temporarily caught up in that "tax cuts for the rich will create a utopia for you, in which even cancer is cured" bullshit are coming out of that fog.

You and your government are partners with a vested interest. You work hard, and put forth your best efforts to increase GDP, and your government makes sure that in exchange for that hard work, you’re not starving in the streets. If you work, your basic needs should be met. And since any rational person knows that Comcast won’t do that for you, it has to be your government.

And the fight against inequality isn’t limited to blue states. Right now, there’s a fierce battle being waged on behalf of pre-k in dark-red Indiana. In Kentucky, Governor Beshear maintains wide support and popularity after publicly championing the benefits of Obamacare to the state. Last week, voters in Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota approved ballot measures to increase the minimum wage.

I have nothing to add to that, except to say that Americans are moving left while our government is moving right.

The 2016 presidential election is two years off, but will have a huge impact on the lives of America’s middle-class and poor. Democrats simply cannot rely on shifting demographics and a badly damaged Republican brand to hold the White House and help countless Americans who are struggling.

We must demonstrate, from coast to coast, that we are a party dedicated to lifting people out of poverty; one committed to building a bigger and more durable middle-class; one that is unafraid to ask a little more from those at the very top — the wealthy individuals and big corporations who have not only rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession, but who’ve accumulated record new wealth.

Yup. "We suck slightly less than republicans isn’t going to cut it. Liberals aren’t going to accept that. We’re not republicans. We don’t have Stockholm syndrome, and we’re not lemmings with a team mentality about politics. We expect our candidates to uphold their half of the partnership. Independents and younger voters aren’t going to accept that either. They’re just going to stop showing up. And the "we suck slightly less" perpetuates and actualizes the (for now) false notion that both sides are the same.

I understand that democrats need to raise money. I understand that because of Citizen’s United, no politician stands a chance of being elected to any position higher than dog catcher without making nice with a few industries whose self interest are at odds with their constituencies. I get it. I get that we need to fix the money in politics problem, which is why I’m constantly advocating for joining Mayday or (preferably and) Wolf PAC. We need national democrats to get on board in a vocal way. Bernie Sanders can’t be the only politician in the country talking about it. Cenk (Uygur, who started Wolf PAC) seems to think that we can amend the constitution without congress’ help. I don’t agree. We need as many allies in congress as we can get. Democrats need to start talking about this all the time. An overwhelming majority of Americans (72% – 91%, depending on which poll you look at) want to get money out of politics. This is a winning issue. Republican lite is not a viable platform. It’s time to deploy a new strategy. I call it, "Operation FDR". Everywhere we see an FDR or his ideology, we win. It’s time for democrats to go back to their roots and listen to my socialist mayor.

To be clear, I use the term ‘socialism’ in a tongue and cheek way to mock what republicans have done to our dialogue. Regulated capitalism isn’t socialist. Leveling the distribution of wealth so that the game isn’t rigged from the top isn’t socialism. It’s healthy capitalism. And anyone who uses the term ‘socialism’ in any way other than how I use it, should be ignored. That person is batshit crazy, and not worth your time. Spend your time talking to somebody else who has a brain, an open mind, and a heart that isn’t filled with hate.    

 

 

 

 

 

       

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Musings Of An Occupation

So I made it down to Wall Street to join the occupation on Saturday, and I’d like to share my impressions of what I saw.

The first thing that I noticed is that there was no main stream media presence present. I saw a local ABC affiliate there, a well as NY1, also a local network. At this point, I’m going to take a moment to comment on the main stream media’s coverage of Occupy Wall Street. If they’re covering it at all, they’re covering it for the purpose of deriding, dismissing, and diminishing it.

Check out this article published in that bastion of liberalism, The New York Times. I’m having a hard time deciding on where to begin pointing out how big of an asshat Andrew Ross Sorkin is, but I’m feeling particularly bitchy today, so let’s give it a shot. Let’s start with the reason why Sorkin covered the protest at all; he went to go check it out when he was told to, by a CEO of a Wall Street bank. Let me get this straight; your job is to cover events as they pertain to Wall Street and you ignored a nearly three week long protest on Wall Street until you were ordered to do so, by someone that was the subject of the protest? ASSHAT! And when you did finally go down there, you went for the purpose of determining if the subjects of the protest had to worry about their safety? ASSHAT! Talk about being disconnected with average Americans and their concerns! Let me tip you off to something that you may not be aware of, Andrew. When hundreds of people gather anywhere to make a statement, they’re representative of hundreds of thousands, or possibly millions. If someone has an opinion, any opinion, there are other people out there that share that opinion. Whether those opinions are shared by 1% or 99% of a society is something that you, as a reporter should investigate. But to assume that those opinions are contained within the number of people in that protest is asinine, you fucking douchebag. There are several other digs at the protesters in the story, buy you can easily spot those on your own, so I’m going to move on.

To be fair, I have some criticism of the coverage from the left. Randi Rhodes spent two weeks diminishing the protesters because they’re not focused enough for her. How about instead of slamming this movement, you work to help them focus their message since they’re actually doing something? Oh, and stop referring to them as kids. A person in their 20s isn’t a child. I love you Citizen Radio, but your disdain for people that show up wearing expensive clothes is just stupid. I purposefully showed up carrying a very large Chanel bag. My patent leather designer bag is shiny, but it hasn’t blinded me to what’s going on in this country. I am fully cognizant of how lucky I am to be in the financial position that I’m in. I’m the opposite of an asshole for advocating that everyone have the opportunities that I’ve had. I made the calculation to not look poor at the protest in order to demonstrate that everyone has a horse in this race. Showing disdain for supporters that obviously aren’t poor is dickish and counterproductive because it demonstrates a kind of anti-capitalism that most people simply don’t share. Some of us are very much for capitalism. We’re just fighting for the kind of fair capitalism that puts more people on a level playing field. I’m not against rich people. And I’m definitely not against people getting rich. I’m fighting so that more people can get rich. What are you fighting for, Citizen Radioites? 

This video clip from the Young Turks talks about some asshattiness from Erin Burnett;

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x4ly3Gr3kw[/youtube]

Ben pretty thoroughly espoused my thoughts on her comments, but I want to add one thing. If Erin Burnett genuinely can’t figure out what Occupy Wall Street is all about, she seriously needs to reconsider her career in the information dissemination business. Perhaps professional trade show booth bitch might be a career more in line with her talents?

I wasn’t able to make it down to the protest for the first three weeks that they were going on, although I was following them closely. I get updates and photographs from the protests from 400 people all around the world on my G+ stream, so I felt like I had a pretty good grip on the situation. Over and over again, the main stream media has criticized the protesters for lacking focus. Before I actually went down to the protest, I was of the opinion that this criticism was unfounded and mostly out there as a way to dismiss the protesters. That opinion changed after I actually saw what was happening for myself. There is an obvious lack of focus going on in Zuccotti Park. I saw signs advocating the legalization of marijuana. I saw signs and petitions to stop fracking. I saw anti-war signs. I saw people with a myriad of different agendas down there. While I agree with most of the causes being espoused, I can see that the diversity of thought down there is muddling the message. That lack of clarity is, in my opinion, the biggest liability of this protest.

Let me describe Zuccotti Park for those of you that don’t know the area. It’s not really a park as much as a very small public square. It’s a whole block, but blocks downtown are very small. They’re not at all what you think of as a city block in New York. You can walk the length of the block in about 50 paces, and the width in 20 paces. To get into the park, you have to walk down a small set of 3 steps, so it’s somewhat enclosed. If that park were filled to maximum capacity, it would hold maybe 400 people. The park is physically located about 3 blocks south of Wall Street, and 3 blocks east of The World Trade Center. Several blocks east of that is Battery Park, where you can take ferries to The Statue Of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Staten Island.

It’s a high traffic area for tourists since they have to walk past that park to get to a lot of the attractions in lower Manhattan. I tell you all of this because I saw hundreds of tourists stopping to see what was going on in that park. With the wide swath of messages being espoused in that park, I’m not sure that many of those passers-by walked away with an understanding of what it’s all about. The fact that I had a better grip on the message before I went down to the protest, than I did after I saw it for myself is a huge problem. To  the “free hugs” people, I want to say, I love you but you need to FOCUS.

In my opinion, the single most important issue that needs to be addressed in America, is the corrosive effect that money has had on our politics. No other issue can be addressed until we get the money completely out of the system. Wall Street is the quintessential symbol of that corruptive force. The fact that the protesters chose Wall Street as the location for this movement tells me that they get it. They just need to focus their message so that the disengaged masses also get it. Until they do that, they’re missing an opportunity to educate and recruit more people into the cause.

Dylan Ratigan is laser focused on the money issue. I agree with him on almost nothing, but he’s dead on correct when he talks about the money being the root of all of our problems. He’s been down to Zuccotti Park, and he seems to be getting increasingly more interested in what’s going on down there. I hope that he can help to focus the troops.  

That criticism aside, let me tell you what else I saw. I saw an incredibly diverse group of people that included every race that you can think of. The ages of the protesters ranged from teenagers to the elderly. I saw whole families with small children there. There were protest signs written in Arabic. There was a table dedicated to Hispanic outreach. They have a media center. Yes, an actual media center. There’s an information desk. They have several tables filled with food for anyone to eat. They don’t care if you’re homeless or just passing by for a free meal. The assumption is that if you’re taking the food, you’re in need so no one is going to stop you. How disgustingly fucking socialist! To summarize, they’ve created a self sufficient community.

I’m going to keep going down there as often as possible to watch the evolution of this protest. I believe that they’re off to a good start. If you’re not in the area and want to help, here’s a link with resources. Winter is coming, so I’m guessing that they will need winter clothes, blankets, and propane heaters.

Here are a few pictures I took while I was down there:

They were out of the English version when I was there

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Something In The Air

I’ve been reading articles and polls on President Obama’s rating bump since Bin Laden was killed. He’s gotten a ten point increase in his approval rating as a result of the killing, putting him at around a 56% approval. Most of that bump comes from republicans and independents, which isn’t surprising since most democrats have largely stuck with Obama all along.

I thought a ten point bump was oddly low, even though most pundits expected that he would get “as much as a ten point bump in approval”. Why do I find it odd?

Because I looked at Bush’s approval ratings. Prior to 9/11, Bush’s approval was hovering in the low to mid 50s. On September 12, 2001, his approval rating shot up to nearly 90%. In hindsight, this is fairly shocking since Bush was largely absent that day. He was busy flying from Florida, to Louisiana, to fucking Nebraska. This, after dicking around at an elementary school for a full twenty minutes after the initial attack. America needed a daddy that day, and our president wasn’t there. Rudy Guiliani was going to have to fill that role until Bush could get his shit together at 8:35 that night. But Americans were too shocked to notice all of that so when he finally decided to be a fucking leader, we were happy he was there. We were like kids with absent, deadbeat dads; grateful that he showed up, and happy to forgive the abandonment of the years between appearances. And we showed our gratitude with a 90% approval rating.

Fast forward to nearly ten years later to Obama. He finally avenges 9/11 by killing the mastermind behind the events of that day, and we only approve of him to the tune of 56%. What the fuck? Why did the guy that was merely in office at the time do so much better than the guy who did something about it did? It doesn’t make sense. We’re America. We fucking love it when the belief in our God given superiority is on validated. We shot Bin Laden in the head, and gave Pakistan a heartfelt “fuck you” by not telling them that we were going to do it. It really doesn’t get much more badass than that.

So what’s the problem? Is Obama just the shittiest president we’ve ever seen? Hardly! Regular readers of this blog know that I’m no cheerleader for Obama, and I’m definitely not an apologist for him either. I don’t think that this comparatively lackluster approval has much to do with Obama, anymore than I thought the Bush 9/11 bump had to do with Bush. I believe this is all about Americans realizing that our government isn’t working for us anymore.

When Bush took office, we had just come off eight years of relative comfort and prosperity. Granted, it was all built on a house of cards, but we felt prosperous. We felt so prosperous that we had the luxury of talking about a presidential blow job for two years. Americans like to bathe themselves in utterly irrelevant bullshit, only when important things aren’t happening. Bullshit is fun when you don’t really have a care in the world. Trump’s disappearance from the news this week is proof of that. We were inundated with birther and afterbirther bullshit, until Bin Laden was killed. Something important happened, and we stopped caring about the bullshit (for a while, anyway). Bush benefited greatly from the prosperous America that he inherited.

But during the course of Bush’s eight years in office, that illusion of prosperity melted away. In the past ten years, the bottom 60% of workers in America have received a 1% salary increase while the cost of gas, milk, and health insurance have doubled. And that 1% increase is achieved by working longer hours. Being American is just getting fucking harder, and everyone knows it. Americans are getting angrier every day. We saw it in the town halls during the health reform debate. We’re seeing it in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana in regard to collective bargaining rights. We’re again seeing it all across the country in town halls, where Americans are professing their adamance about keeping medicare in tact and instead, insisting that we raise taxes on the rich.

Something palpable is in the air in America. Americans might not exactly know why they’re getting screwed, or exactly how they’re getting screwed, but they’re not confused about the fact that they’re getting screwed.

In my opinion, this is a really good thing. It’s the start of something. The sunny optimist wants to believe that this is the start of taking our government back (sorry to use the teabagger matra, but I have to). The shitty and dysfunctional government that we have didn’t happen to us, it happened because of us. It happened through decades of ignorance and apathy on the part of the American people. When we don’t pay attention to what the government is doing, they get to rob us blind. And they do it with our tacit permission. And when Americans start noticing that things are shitty, our politicians misdirect our anger toward gays, immigrants, the elderly, international terrorist bogeymen, or the other party. They do this successfully, because we’re not paying close attention.

I want to believe that we’re in the early stages of paying attention. If my sunny optimistic vision for America comes to pass, it will require traveling a long long road. We’re at the first step of this road; deeply rooted discontentment.

This blog is largely about the next step in getting where we need to go. We need to disabuse ourselves of the notion that our political party are the good guys, and the other party are the bad guys. As a party loyalist, you are most susceptible to misdirection. You will always be rewarded for your blind loyalty with fewer opportunities to succeed in America. The George W Bushes will not keep you safe, and your loyalty to them will always be rewarded by redistributing your wages to the likes of Haliburton. The Barack Obamas will not give you healthcare at a reasonable cost. They will always divert trillions of your dollars to pharmaceutical and insurance companies by making shady backroom deals. Your blind loyalty will make you cheer them while they do it. You’ll get so swept up in team loyalty, that you will accept the notion that this was the best they could do, despite the fact that your own lying eyes never saw so much as one fiery speech supporting the public option that you really wanted. Your party loyalty is crippling your ability to see the actual solution to America’s problems.

Which brings me to the next step. Our elections shouldn’t be about candidates or parties. Our focus should be on changing the system. We’re never going to get good government if we don’t get the money out of the system. We need to be focusing on getting publicly financed campaigns for every seat in every state in the country. We need to organize to get ballot measures on the books in every state. Most people don’t realize that we have this option in America. Our congressmen aren’t the only people that can pass laws. We have that power too. All we need to do is get organized and collect signatures to put a measure on the ballot in every state. We need to be talking about publicly financed elections all the time. We need to get the word out. Everything else is just a bullshit distraction designed to confuse you about the definition of who “us” against “them” are. It’s not about “us” democrats versus “them” republicans (or vice versa). It’s about “us” earners versus “them” corporations.

We will never get good representation as long as that representation is dependent on money that comes from interests that are contrary to your own. I don’t care which party you identify with because this holds true for both sides. Republicans have held onto their loyalty for thirty years despite the fact that their party has done exactly nothing for them during that period. Democrats are happy for the occasional crumb they’re thrown once every decade or so, pretending like this loyalty won’t land them in the same boat republicans have been cruising in for decades.

Stop kidding yourselves. There’s something in the air in America. As politically active and aware people, don’t waste this opportunity by talking about party bullshit. Talk to your friends and family about what the real issue is; the corporate takeover of our government. We need to spread the word and channel this anger toward meaningful reform of our whole system.

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Expensive And Ineffective

That’s republicanism in a nutshell. Expensive and ineffective describes every aspect of the republican party, but I want to focus on one specific area for this post. Union busting.

Everyone is hip to the fact that the union busting efforts by republican governors all across the country aren’t about balancing state budgets. They’re about eviscerating the democratic party. Everyone knows that with a few exceptions, the lion’s share of corporate political contributions are made to republicans, and the lion’s share of union contributions go to democrats.

A little bit of simple math, coupled with some common sense (there I go with my sunny optimism again) will tell you that the corporate contributions are significantly larger than the union contributions. Union membership in America is 12.3%. That’s if you add up all of the private sector and public sector union members. Unions ostensibly raise their political contribution money from a percentage of dues paid by that 12.3% of workers. Workers that, by the way, earn an average of 59k a year. Corporate contributions come from diverting profits to political contributions. US corporations are at this moment, sitting on two trillion dollars in cash reserves. It’s obvious where the bigger trough of money lies.

These union busting efforts are aimed at drying up the union money to political contributions. You know what that tells me? It tells me that it costs a fucking fortune to get people to buy republican. And for all of the money that’s being spent on selling republicanism, it’s still not working.

In yesterday’s post, I shared a poll that shows that most Americans would take a much more “liberal” approach to balancing our budget than our government will actually take. We see that while republican governors across the country are cutting money for education, Americans would increase the education budget. We see that Americans are willing to raise taxes on both themselves and the filthy rich.

Poll after poll shows that most Americans have “liberal” opinions on domestic issues from abortion, to gun purchasing requirements, to education and gay marriage (that poll moves more and more liberal every year). The only domestic issue where Americans skew “right”, is on the death penalty. We still have a blood lust for revenge, apparently. Most Americans aren’t interested in invading or occupying other countries. The Bush administration had to employ a major shock doctrine offense in order to get Americans on board with Iraq, and even that didn’t last more than five years. The majority of us are not interested in the neocon porn fantasy of world domination.

We are liberal on most issues, despite the shit load of cash that is being spent on selling republicanism, and making “liberal” a dirty word.

On top of the corporate contributions, there’s billions of dollars invested in a giant right wing propaganda machine. There’s Fox News, where Rupert Murdoch was happy to lose money for six years before he ever saw a dime of profit. There’s Rasmussen, a right wing polling outfit that exists so that right wing radio and Fox News can quote “data”. There’s the right wing think tanks like Cato and Heritage whose only purpose is to again, feed right wing media with lies that they can cite, thereby validating each other.

I’ve driven through cities where, when flipping through the AM dial, I’ve come across Rush Limbaugh on three different stations. Three stations carrying the same program? Why would any radio station in America carry the same programming as a competing station in the same market? Because the right wing think tanks are buying up all of the advertising on those programs, in order to ensure that those programs are all that Americans have access to. That system is finally starting to fall apart. Right wing talkers are being pulled from radio stations all across the country, finally. Nobody is fucking listening anymore.

We have a really fucking big, really fucking expensive machine trying to crank out republicans in America. But that machine is failing to accomplish it’s task. You can’t throw enough money at Americans to convince them to want to legislate’s a woman’s uterus. You can’t throw enough money at Americans to convince them to hate people for being gay (anymore). You can’t throw enough money at Americans to convince them that workers should give up their right to organize.

And you know what? The right wing corporate interests know they’re losing. That’s why they’re making a concerted effort to bust the unions. They need to make sure that no money goes to liberal voices, so that they can buy themselves a little bit more time. You think that all of these republican governors suddenly all, independently decided to launch an attack against the unions in their state? No, it’s obviously a coordinated effort. Republicanism is going to collapse. It’s just a matter of time.

Let me be clear, when I say that republicanism is going to collapse, I’m not referring to conservatism. Republicans went horribly wrong when they walked away from every single tenet of conservatism. Republicanism isn’t about smaller government. It’s about big giant government, picking your pocket at every turn.

The tea party emerged as a backlash to republicanism. It had the right idea when it started, but it went horribly wrong when the movement was taken over by Dick Armey and the Koch brothers. But I believe that true conservatives will eventually take the tea party back. Yes, I realize that I just gave the tea party some credit but I am a sunny optimist! Oh, and I look at polls.

Americans don’t want what the oligarchs want and it’s just a matter of time before they can’t fool us anymore.

Americans are not prospering the way they were in the past. And even the most politically disengaged American knows that something is horribly wrong. I think that what we’re seeing in Wisconsin is just the beginning. And I believe that defeating Scott Walker will serve as inspiration to make us realize that we do have all of the power. We just need to use it.

There is not enough money in the world to keep the robber barons in our good graces for much longer. They’re going to have to keep throwing more and more money at the problem, just to buy themselves another month, year, maybe five. But it’s all going to fall apart eventually.

And this isn’t about political parties. Obama’s approval ratings have stayed unimpressive because Americans aren’t seeing the sweeping change they were hoping for.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a democrat or a republican. Americans are going to turn on any politician that supports republicanism. The machine overplayed its hand in Wisconsin. I believe that we’re watching the beginning of the end of republicanism.

I say good riddance. I want to go back to the days of debating conservative and liberal ideas. This oligarch diversion has been bad for all of us. It’s time to move on.

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