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Eat The Rich

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Economics, Message/Framing, Plutocracy, Politics on August 31, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Karoli of Crooks and Liars has a good post up this morning about the frightening policies the Republicans are openly boasting about implementing should they take control of Congress after the 2010 elections.

To date, various Republican candidates have endorsed Ayn Rand Fanboy a.k.a. Paul Ryan’s plan to eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and health care reform – all while giving the “deficit savings” to the top 1% in the form of tax cuts. Republican leaders have embraced Michele “Mad Hatter of the Tea Party” Bachmann’s plan to blanket 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. with subpoenas and motions to impeach. And just a couple of days ago, noted toe-sucker Dick Morris boasted that the Republicans will shut down the government over the next two years to block Obama at all costs. Here’s the video:

But these policies are not new. They have just become “mainstreamed” within the Republican ranks. And since they have been getting away with more and more reactionary and regressive policies over the past 30 years, they don’t feel they have to hide the true nature of them as much: they have already created a base that believes that these draconian policies are best for the country – even though they are not in the voters’ economic best interests.

So how did we get here?

Jane Mayer of The New Yorker has penned an excellent expose on the powerful forces behind both movement conservatism and the so-called Tea Party phenomenon. In the article, she pulls the mask off of billionaires David H. Koch and his brother, Charles, who are some of the most prominent behind-the-scenes sponsors of far-right doctrine – no taxes (on the wealthy), no government regulations, climate change denial, among many others.

In reading the article, it is clear that the Koch brothers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to accomplish just one thing – protect their multi-billion dollar empire. But like most conservatives, they are at least smart enough to realize that these policies cannot be sold to the American public as is. They need to put lipstick on these pigs.

How else could they successfully sell the notion that global climate change is a farce or that smog was beneficial because it would help prevent more cases of skin cancer or that lower taxes on the wealthy and corporations will create jobs, among countless other canards?

They accomplish their selfish ends by whipping the masses into a frenzy about the evil government and its fascist communist socialist Clinton Hillary Obama Hitler Democratic leaders who want to steal your money in order to give it to your lazy neighbor down the street while forcing you to marry the gay man around the corner and throwing you out of work because the multi-billion corporations can’t possibly survive with any regulations.

The Republicans love to scream about “class warfare” in this country whenever anyone suggests leveling the economic playing field, raising taxes on the wealthy (so that they pay their fair share), or providing a social safety net for the unemployed, the elderly, or the infirm, but they are dead wrong about who is being laid siege.

It’s all of us, folks.

It is a war on the bottom 99-percent who have seen their standard of living continue to deteriorate over the last 30 years due to tax cuts for the wealthy that have drained the treasury; deregulation that has led to boom-bust laissez-faire capitalism; laws that have made it easier to ship jobs overseas; and a steady drumbeat of anti-government rhetoric solely designed to shred the social safety net and put that money back into the pockets of the richest 1%.  Here is a handy chart (h/t to Paul Rosenberg of Open Left). Pay particular attention to the pale yellow line.  It shows that the bottom 99 percent of all wage earners have seen almost no real growth in wages since 1973.

But this is nothing new.  As the masterful Frank Rich points out in his latest NY Times op-ed:

All three tycoons [David Koch, Charles Koch, and Rupert Murdoch] are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president.

Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.” That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today.

So how do we combat this? Unfortunately, it will take a sustained effort over decades (and without end) from progressive think-tanks, academia, and grassroots pressure to force our side of the aisle to toughen up and fight back against these powerful interests. And it won’t be easy due to the massive amounts of money and corporate infrastructure at their disposal. But the very future of our country is at stake. Do we give back all of the progressive gains we have made over the past century, or do we stop the forces of evil in their tracks, no matter what the cost?

But more important, we need an entirely new way of engaging with voters. It isn’t enough to point to the Republicans and say how evil and wrong-headed they are. We need to convince voters that our policies and ideas aren’t just right for the country but will benefit them personally.

One way to start is to say loudly and often that the corporations, bankers, Wall Street denizens, crony capitalists, and the wealthy billionaires who finance these right-wing think tanks and Astroturf movements are stealing from us.

They steal our jobs when they ship them overseas.

They steal our wages when they hoard profits and give huge bonuses to their CEOs.

They steal our money when they gamble with it at the Wall Street casinos.

They steal our power when they constantly foster deregulation and cater to corporate interests.

They steal our standard of living when they cut benefits (health care insurance, retirement plans, et al) and promise to slash Medicare, Medicaid, and privatize Social Security.

They steal our health and sometimes our lives when they gut government regulations on food, water, drugs, and workplace safety.

They steal the future of our planet when they deny global climate change and kill environmental policies – all in the name of more profits.

And they steal our dignity when they whip up xenophobic, racist, or homophobic sentiment in an effort to distract from their real agenda by dividing and marginalizing us.

Of course, not all corporations or wealthy individuals are evil, but those billionaires who manipulate the masses to force their selfish agenda on America are no better than thieves and robber barons. It’s not about what’s good for the country with them: it’s about what’s good for their corporate profits and their ability to amass wealth. Noted economist Dean Baker says it best in his recent article on The Huffington Post.

No progressive movement will make any progress until we understand the battle we are fighting. Our income is a cost to the rich. They will look to cut it wherever they can, whether this is wages for private sector workers, pensions for public employees, or Social Security for retirees. That is their target.

We have to fight back using the same logic. Their income is our cost — the multimillion dollar bonuses for the Wall Street wizards is a direct drain on the economy. So are the bloated paychecks of top executives and their lackey boards. Progressives must be prepared to use all the same tactics to bring down the income of the rich and powerful that they have used to reduce the income of everyone else.

If it’s a class war they want, then let’s storm the gates and eat the rich for a change.

-SF

UPDATE (09/02): I received an email today from progressive hero, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL), that openly attacks David Koch for his crackpot views and his insidious attempts to use his outrageous fortune and dirty political tricks to fool the electorate into supporting candidates who do not have their best interests at heart. Thank goodness for The New Yorker expose: it has put a face on the right-wing movement, making it easier for people to understand the villainy behind their wealthy, corporate, elitist agenda. It’s heartening to see our side using it to their advantage for a change. More of this, please!

Here is the text from Rep. Grayson’s email:

A couple of weeks ago, we suggested that Republican Dan Webster isn’t the real opponent in this campaign. He hasn’t been on the ballot in a quarter of a century. Dan Webster couldn’t beat a pair of fives with a full house.

I said that someone else would be the real opponent. Now we know who that is.

His name is David Koch. He has $17 billion. And he is spending $250,000 of that in attack ads against me this week.

Will you help us fight back against David Koch, by contributing $25 or $50 to our campaign? Every dollar counts.

David Koch is the owner of the second largest private company in America. He made his money the old-fashioned way: he inherited it. Incredibly, his father got rich helping to industrialize and arm the Soviet Union.

Koch lives in New York. He often attends the theater. As far as we know, he has never been to Orlando. But he wants to choose who represents Orlando in Congress. And it isn’t Alan Grayson.

For many years, David Koch was a member of the Libertarian Party. He serves on the board of directors of the right-wing Cato Institute. He is a reclusive billionaire whose political dirty tricks are exposed in the current issue of the New Yorker Magazine. The title of that New Yorker article is “Covert Operations: The billionaire brothers who are waging war against Obama.”

Why does David Koch support Dan Webster? Because Koch wants to cut Social Security. And so does Dan Webster.

David Koch is waging war on President Obama and on us. Will you help to launch our counterattack?

What it comes down to is this: who is going to choose our leaders? Us, or a crackpot billionaire like David Koch?

More on this tomorrow. In the meantime, if you can help, please do. Because if we don’t, then David Koch will buy the House, the Senate and, in 2012, the White House.

Truth,

Alan Grayson

Quote of the Week

In Politics on August 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm

“No incumbent out there last night suffered a more decisive defeat than Senator John McCain, who last evening was rejected by voters for his anti-tax cut, anti-border fence views. Instead they voted for a candidate who took the exact opposite position of John McCain, dark horse candidate John McCain.”

– Stephen Colbert on McCain’s republican primary victory over J.D. Hayworth on Tuesday

No Pain, No Gain

In Civil Liberties, Politics on August 26, 2010 at 10:03 am

Tase This!

I’m a gadget guy. So you think I’d be into the new toy the LA Sheriff’s department picked up this month. It’s called the “Pain Ray” and it shoots an invisible laser beam of white-hot microwaves that makes your skin feel like it’s being seared. It’s official name is the “Active Denial System” (ADS) and it’s made by Raytheon. It was to go into use in Afghanistan this summer primarily for “crowd dispersal” but the US Military thought the Pain Ray was too controversial for the war.

That from the folks who brought you Abu Ghraib. Here’s more:

For a while now, the United States military have been playing around with a fun little weapon that is, in essence, a pain raygun. The idea is this: you want to take out an insurgent, but you don’t want to kill him, so you aim this Raytheon-design, seven and a half foot tall millimeter wave weapon at him when he’s 100 feet away and turn it on. What sensation will he feel? The unbearable agony of being burned alive… without any of the actual immolation.

Obviously, this sort of weapon is contentious, and pretty obviously at odds with our attempts at garnering the good will of the native Afghanis, so it was quickly pulled out of service.

Cooler heads prevailed in the military but the LA Sheriff’s department pounced:

According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, there is one group of insurgents inhuman and evil enough to use the pain ray on: Pitchess Detention Center prisoners. Calling it the “Holy Grail of Crowd Control,” the LASD hopes to use the pain ray to reduce the 257 inmate-on-inmate assaults of this year alone, as well as the nineteen assaults on deputies. The idea is to break up incidents like riots before they get out of hand.

There’s a lot of problems with this. One big problem is that in a riot, a pain ray can’t really be aimed any better than a flamethrower, meaning you’re also going to hit the victim with unbearable agony. Furthermore, we’re already locking up way too many people for way too frivolous offenses: it’s no wonder our prisons are a pressure cooker waiting to explode. Randomly zapping people with a ray gun that essentially tortures them isn’t a good way to improve that situation.

Turns out the LASD is really into these Marquis de Sade-esque devices. They were on the forefront of using the sonic pain ray, the LRAD (which we posted on here), as early as 2005. Since we don’t have an NFL team, I guess it’s good to be first in something. But why would the LASD need such a “crowd dispersal” device in a prison? That got me into looking into the swelling inmate population in America. Here’s a chart which shows the precipitous rise in the number of incarcerated Americans from 1920 to 2006.

What the hell has happened since 1980? Here’s a closer look:

As a percentage of the population it has nearly quadrupled:

We’re locking up nearly four times the number of citizens we were 30 years ago. And when it comes to the demographics of who makes up this population, it’s sickening. More than 1 in 10 African American males between the ages of 25 and 40 are currently in prison or jail. Right now. (This is all from the 2009 US Department of Justice. Here’s a PDF with more detailed statistics.)

We have nearly 2.3 million Americans in our prison/jail system and the number keeps growing at an increasing rate which is why there’s never been a better time to be in the prison business in America. Here’s how one of the top 4 US prison companies, Correctional Corporation of America, is growing and reinvesting in its physical plants during the great recession as it anticipates continued growth:

CCA isn’t pouring nearly a third of it’s annual revenue into new property/plant investments without a reason. I’d expect that in the coming quarters, this amount of investment will begin to yield tangible returns for the Company.

Because state and federal budgets are tightening there is an incentive from some quarters for governments to privatize our prison system and get them “off the books”. But by privatizing our prison system, the offenders who would at one point and time would have been in line for rehabilitation and release (as they cost the taxpayers money and rehabilitation into society is a worthy goal) today’s “privatized” prisoners become a valuable asset to the privately-held corporations who run the prison system.

These companies are paid per head. So the more heads, the more revenue. Plus, it’s critical that this system keep creating new assets (citizen/prisoners) to keep the system profitable and growing for the shareholders. (You can read more on the “Prison-Industrial Complex” in the seminal article by Eric Schlosser here.)

Given this new paradigm, we will need more prisoners to continue to feed the private prisons that are being built in this country and all we’ll hear about is how “good” this is for our economy because it’s creating jobs and keeping America safe. Which is why, with a swelling prison population, we’re coming up with even more extreme ways of keeping the prison population under control with gadgets like the Pain Ray.

Okay, you’ve waited patiently for it. Here’s the video from Rachel showing people being shot with the Pain Ray:

My favorite part is the faux protesters with the signs “Peace Not War” being dispersed. Obviously, they need to be punished. They’re not profitable.

– SH

Here’s more on the sonic Pain Ray, the LRAD, which was used at the G-20.

New Donkey Ad: Meg Whitman in ‘Foiled Again’

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Californication, Donkey Ad Watch, Politics on August 24, 2010 at 11:12 am

Meg Whitman: "My voting record is abysmal. My registration record is abysmal."

We at TheDonkeyEdge are thrilled and honored to have created this new ad for California Nurses Association and Courage Campaign which launches today. It skewers Meg Whitman by contrasting her pathetic voting record with the struggles of the courageous women who fought for the right to vote and achieved groundbreaking success 90 years ago this month. Here’s the e-mail from Courage Campaign:

Dear Friend —

Honestly, I’m offended by Meg Whitman.

Ninety years ago this August, women won the right to vote when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was finally ratified in 1920.

I take that right seriously. Meg Whitman doesn’t.

Whitman wants to be governor of California. But she has rarely voted in three decades. Shouldn’t our next governor show more respect for our right to vote — and for the struggles that earned women the right to vote?On Thursday, August 26, nurses and activists from across California will travel to Sacramento for a rally celebrating women’s right to vote. Many will take a train to Sacramento, honoring the suffragist movement and their success, and dressing in costumes from the suffragist era.

Even if you can’t join the rally, you can still help us send a message to Meg. Click here to watch our video about how Meg Whitman has taken the 19th Amendment for granted. Then sign up to Vote-By-Mail — the most reliable method of voting in every election. Show that you’ll stand up for voting rights, even if Meg Whitman won’t:

Suffragists fought for decades to win the right to vote. They faced sexism, violence, and other obstacles in their effort to secure equal rights.

Ninety years later, full equality still eludes us. Many women are denied the right to marry the person they love. Others lack health care services, education, and jobs.

Meg Whitman supports Prop 8. She pledges to cut public funding for health care and education. She’s already promised mass layoffs if she becomes governor, just as she did at eBay. And she can’t even be bothered to exercise that most basic of rights — the right to vote.

That’s why the Courage Campaign and the California Nurses Association created this video to hold Meg Whitman accountable for her deplorable voting record. Please watch our video and then apply to Vote-By-Mail — it’s the most effective way to stand up for voting rights today:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/VoteByMail

Thank you for showing Meg Whitman that you take women’s rights seriously.

Sarah Callahan
Chief Operating Officer, Courage Campaign

Please join us at TheDonkeyEdge in supporting the efforts of California Nurses Association and Courage Campaign today.

Here’s more on Meg Whitman’ non-existent voting history (here) and her campaign strategy of lies, lies, lies (here).

– SH & SF

Quote of the Week

In Politics on August 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

“There is a difference between what you can do and what you should do. For instance, you can build a Catholic church next to a playground. Should you?”

– John Oliver “The Daily Show”

Earth Overshoot Day: The Real Deficit

In Environment, Health, Politics on August 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm

I stumbled across an article today by Jess Leber on Change.org that alerted me to a phenomenon of which I had never heard: Earth Overshoot Day.

According to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), it is a concept devised by “The New Economics Foundation” (NEF) that symbolically marks the day in which we exhaust the planet’s ecological resources for the year.

Sadly, that day is today – August 21st.

These resources include the planet’s ability to filter all the CO2 emissions and its ability to produce the raw materials needed for food. According to GFN:

From that point [Earth Overshoot Day] until the end of the year, we meet our ecological demand by liquidating resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Until about thirty years ago, the rate of human consumption was below what the planet could generate in terms of raw materials and carbon absorption. But every year, Earth Overshoot Day arrives earlier and earlier. This year alone, the GFN estimates that human beings will consume about half again more resources than what the planet can naturally produce. Talk about running up the debt.

They also estimate that, if current population and consumption trends continue, we will need the equivalent of two planets to sustain ourselves by mid-century.

So what are the causes? Again, the GFN:

Climate change – a result of carbon being emitted faster than it can be reabsorbed by the forests and seas – is the most obvious and arguably pressing result. But there are others as well: shrinking forests, species loss, fisheries collapse and freshwater stress to name a few.

And this is to say nothing about the man-made disasters such as the Gulf Oil Spill (and the dead zone created in the decades before it); chemical spills in both the water and the air; toxic waste dumping; the floating garbage patches in our oceans; and the human and ecological devastation of wars around the globe.

Here is an explanation of how GFN calculates Earth Overshoot Day and the planet’s ecological debt:

Put simply, Earth Overshoot Day shows the day on which our total Ecological Footprint (measured in global hectares) is equal to the biocapacity (also measured in global hectares) that nature can regenerate in that year. For the rest of the year, we are accumulating debt by depleting our natural capital and letting waste accumulate.

[ world biocapacity / world Ecological Footprint ] x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

The day of the year on which humanity enters into overshoot and begins adding to our ecological debt is calculated by calculating the ratio of global available biocapacity to global Ecological Footprint and multiplying by 365. From this, we find the number of days of demand that the biosphere could supply, and the number of days we operate in overshoot.

Here’s a graphic on the elements they include in their calculations.

Perhaps one could argue that these calculations are symbolic only. But they raise a larger and more important point: we are slowly killing our planet and ourselves. And the ecological deficit we are creating has even more dire consequences than the budget deficit Washington argues about incessantly.

Of course, all of us are responsible for this phenomenon – the industrialized countries more than most. And North America and Western Europe lead the way. As the following video points out, GFN estimates that if everyone on the planet consumed as much as North America, we would need five planets to sustain ourselves, and if we lived like Western Europeans, we would need three planets.

But it is nice to see that there are organizations out there that are taking climate change and its disastrous effects seriously, even while we dither in the United States by allowing climate legislation to be killed by the flat-Earth Republicans; by debate to be stymied by climate change deniers whose unscientific and half-baked theories are given legitimacy by the media’s penchant for false equivalencies; and by a general lethargy in terms of environmental issues.

-SF

Beck U 6 and 7: Double Creature Feature

In Idiocracy, Message/Framing, Politics, Propaganda, Religion on August 20, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I vowed to drop out of Beck University. The weekly “lessons” caused my migraines to flare up. They threatened me with expulsion (apparently talking back in class is a real Bozo No-No). And I had run out of bullshit repellant. But like John McCain to “Jersey Shore,” I couldn’t turn away from watching the train wreck of human ignorance.

So I girded my loins and braced for the most painful and frightening double feature I had ever endured. No, not “The Creeping Terror” and “Troll 2”, but Beck University “professors” James Stoner and David Barton. On second thought, perhaps it’s the same thing.

As with any double bill, the evening began with the “B” movie – still scary enough to give you a few chills but merely whetting your appetite for the hair-raising, spine-tingling, bladder-emptying feature attraction.

In the first “lesson,” James Stoner proceeded to give an 8th grade civics lesson on the Constitution, specifically the Separation of Powers and the system of checks and balances it created. Stoner is the most accomplished “faculty” member at Beck U (he is an actual professor at LSU), and he delivered his lecture in the same manner in which he would an ordinary lesson – boring, verbose, and repetitive.

And like all “B” movies, I kept wondering when the story would start.

Separation of powers creates a divided government… blah, blah, blah… Should I get up and get a soda?  Hmmmm… Checks and balances “checks” the powers of each individual branch against the other… Zzzzzzz… I think I still have a package of the Orville Redenbacher Ultimate Butter Microwave Popcorn… Yumm!

Finally… at end of the 2nd Act the monster comes out.  Here’s what Stoner snarled about the Necessary and Proper Clause:

Since the New Deal, there has been a presumption on the part of Congress and the president that, if there is a problem, the federal government is the first entity to look for a solution.

Damn right, Skippy. I’d say the government did a good job of bailing us out of the Great Depression, winning World War Two, creating a vibrant middle class, enabling millions to attend college, expanding civil rights… I could go on.

But the monster really popped out of the closet when Stoner wrapped up his lecture on judicial review. Boy, nothing gets a right-winger more worked up than Marbury v. Madison. The horns came out as Stoner spat out the following:

Judicial review was not understood at that time to be power given to the courts to roam through the statute books and strike down whatever injustice they saw.

But I guess in a monster’s world, slavery would still be legal, separate but “equal” would still apply, women and minorities would not have the right to vote, and single people wouldn’t be allowed to use contraception (see Beck U3: It’s Not A Tumor). But I digress.

Now let’s look at the true monster… The Roberts Court. The Alliance for Justice released a report earlier this year entitled “The Robert’s Court’s Record of Overreaching” that illustrates how the five conservative Justices twist the law to serve their corporate masters.  Nan Aron, President of The Alliance for Justice, writes on The Huffington Post that:

Our analysis looked at 13 cases in the period since John Roberts became Chief Justice and found a consistent pattern of the Court taking cases it does not need to hear, answering legal questions not squarely before it, making up new law out of thin air, and settling questions best left to fact finders in lower courts.

As retiring Justice John Paul Stevens said in his dissent in the notorious Citizens United case, “Essentially, five Justices were unhappy with the limited nature of the case before us, so they changed the case to give themselves an opportunity to change the law.”

Now that’s the true horror show.

Enjoy Intermission.  Be sure to visit the snack bar.

As we all know, the feature attraction is where we get all the pant-soiling goodness, with even bigger creatures lurking around the bend. And “Faith 103” did not disappoint.

The nasty critter in this one was none other than David Barton – the evil villain of Beck U.: Leave Those Kids Alone and Beck U. 4: Deconstruct This!

But this sequel on limited government was more of a Tingler.

Apparently, limited government = good government = God’s will.  And this was just the teaser.  I munched my Hot Tamales with renewed fervor. I wanted to hear more about how our Founding Fathers really wanted to create a theocracy based on Biblical Law – with none other than Thomas Jefferson leading the way.

Of course, Barton learned me in Faith 101 that Jefferson really just transcribed the Declaration of Independence, basing it on obscure cherry-picked sermons. And wasn’t Barton one of the leading forces behind diminishing Jefferson’s role in the nation’s founding in Texas textbooks?

So much for story logic.

But Barton rode Jefferson like Mothra into Tokyo to “prove” his case.  Here now is the…

Sum of Good Government (According to Jefferson via Barton):

1. Acknowledge and Adore God

As we learned in Beck U. 4, we apply the Transitive Property of Christian Fundamentalism and anytime anyone mentions God, Providence, Deity, etc., they are automatically talking about Christ, which means that they are in fact jonesing for a Christian Fundamentalist Theocracy. According to Barton:

[We aren’t] like France where the rights come from groups of people who decide what the rights are and they can change them whenever they want. [But] that’s what we see across Europe and other countries as well.

Holy Freedom Fries. In Barton’s scary world, rights come from God only, and the government cannot intrude on them or regulate them. I wonder if he realizes this sounds an awful lot like what the Islamic Fundamentalists want – an undying fealty to strict Sharia law.

But silly me, I learned in my hippie, communist private schools that Jefferson said the following about freedom of religion (emphasis mine):

…among the inestimable of our blessings, also, is that… of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will

Jefferson also penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom in which he wrote:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

2. Exercise Frugality

Again, Barton quotes Jefferson as saying that “public debt is the greatest of dangers to be feared.”  True.  Jefferson did say this, but if Barton is so frightened of the public debt, why was he a hired as a shill for the RNC and other Republican candidates when they were running up the deficit like strippers in the VIP room during the Smirking Monkey’s administration?

Here’s a visual aid about public debt and the frugality of Republicans:

3. Restrain Infliction Of Injury

Basically, Barton wants to abolish all those icky federal laws and replace them with these ten, which is all anyone really needs because I’ve been known to covet my neighbor’s ass donkey on occasion.

After all, Barton thinks you shouldn’t regulate the good people, just the perverts.

He then cites obstructionist speed limit laws that vary from state to state and how on earth is he to be expected to know the law from state to state and ignorance isn’t a defense and we’re all just screwed. Of course, his argument screams for federal regulations so that the law is consistent from state to state, but I’m expecting too much from the plot here.

4. Encourage Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise

According to Barton, “the free market system came from the religious leaders in Europe and America” but he admitted that he didn’t have time to prove all that now.

After all, the recent taxpayer bailouts “happened to all the most regulated industries” because when the government gets involved in economics, it destroys economies. You know, industries as horribly regulated as banking, real estate, insurance, etc.

5. Protect Property and Earnings of Citizens

For the climax, Barton suggested that:

– God wants us to own property

– Property taxes are evil

– There are no homeowners in Europe because the government owns all the property

And then Barton ended with a quote from his true God:

The Right's Great God Reagan

And that’s when I soiled my pants and let out a bloodcurdling scream.

-SF

Here are Beck 2: Hope (In The Name Of Wealth) and Beck 5: Blame Canada.

Meg Whitman’s Advice To Voters: “It Just Doesn’t Matter”

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Californication, Politics on August 19, 2010 at 2:57 pm

"I should have voted and I didn't."

Meg Whitman’s voting record has more holes in it than a Dick Cheney hunting buddy. In 2000 Business Week listed Whitman among a group of top executives with “worse than spotty voting records”. While she was CEO of E-bay, E-Meg didn’t vote in either of the California special gubernatorial elections in 2003 and 2005. In fact, she only registered as a Republican in 2007.

So what does Meg say about all this?

“It doesn’t actually matter. It doesn’t matter. My voting record is actually atrocious, and my registration record is atrocious.”

She nonchalantly flipped this phrase out in an interview like she has million-dollar bills. To date, Whitman has donated $104 Million dollars to her own campaign – making it the largest non-presidential campaign budget in the history of American politics… ever.

Even her own partisans have a problem with her voting record:

“It’s a dereliction of our first duty as American citizens. We’re talking about someone who has practically not voted her entire adult life. This is embarrassing.”

To be fair, Meg has voted. She’s lived in six states and has voted in one. There have been twenty-one presidential and mid-term elections that she has been eligible to vote in and she has voted in five. If she were a ball player she’d have a batting average below the Mendoza line. But to her credit she did fess up:

“Every citizen should take time to vote, and on more than one occasion, I didn’t,” the former eBay chief told the GOP activists. “Voting is a precious gift handed down by generations of Americans. I regret not having delivered my vote on several occasions.”

Isn’t that enough? Not according to one of Sarah Palin’s favorite founding fathers (remember, she likes “all of them”):

“We in America do not have government by the majority, we have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1787

Remember those hanging chads in Bush-Gore 2000 and the hand-counting in Franken-Whatshisname in Minnesota in 2008? It does matter now and it has mattered throughout American history.

In fact here are five examples of how one vote really did make a difference in elections to the U.S. House of Representatives:

  1. In 1829 in Kentucky, Nicholas Coleman defeated Adam Beatty 2,520 to 2,519.
  2. In 1847 in Indiana, George G. Dunn defeated David M. Dobson 7,455 to 7,454.
  3. In 1847 in Virginia, Thomas S. Flournoy defeated his opponent 650 to 649.
  4. In 1854 in Illinois, James C. Allen defeated William B. Archer 8,452 to 8,451.
  5. In 1882 in Virginia, Robert M. Mayo defeated George T. Garrison 10,505 to 10,504.

So Meg didn’t want to participate in the process by voting before, but she now wants to have the most important vote in California?

I’ll leave it to Meg Whitman’s new campaign manager, Bill Murray, to sum up:

– SH

You can find our post “Meg, Lies and Videotape” here.

8/24 UPDATE: See our new ad that skewers Meg Whitman’s voting record here.

Tarjay: The Musical!

In 2010 Midterm Elections, Civil Liberties, Inequality, Politics on August 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm

The Donkey loves a good musical. Here’s one of our favorites!

More on how Tarjay hates “The Gay” here.

Frankenfish

In Food Justice, Health, Politics on August 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm

"Welcome to the Bottom of the Food Chain"

I was vacationing by the water last weekend when I read this article in the LA Times:

Tiny AquaBounty Technologies Inc. of Waltham, Mass., says it can help feed the world. The firm has developed genetically engineered salmon that reach market weight in half the usual time.

Unlike ordinary salmon, AquaBounty’s genetically modified fish grows during the winter as well as the summer, so it reaches an 8-pound market weight in 18 months instead of 36. That’s accomplished by inserting part of a gene from an eel-like creature called the ocean pout into the growth gene of a Chinook salmon, then injecting the blended genetic material into the fertilized eggs of a North Atlantic salmon.

So much for the sushi bar.

If you don’t think this is a big deal because AquaBounty’s fish will never end up on a cedar plank on your backyard grill, you’re cold. Genetically-modified organisms are drafting off of the successful integration of genetically-modified fruits and vegetables into our food supply. Here’s how quickly genetically-engineered crops have grown as a percentage of the entire US market over the last fifteen years.

After genetically-modified fish are figured out, foul, beef and pork will not far behind which is why the AquaBounty “super salmon” is an important case:

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve what would be the nation’s first commercial genetically modified food animal.

“This is the threshold case. If it’s approved, there will be others,” said Eric Hallerman, head of the fisheries and wildlife sciences department at Virginia Tech University. “If it’s not, it’ll have a chilling effect for years.”

Some in the fish farming industry are leery of the move toward engineered fish.

“No! It is not even up for discussion,” Jorgen Christiansen, director of communications for Oslo-based Marine Harvest, one of the world’s largest salmon producers, wrote in an e-mail.

Christiansen said his company worries “that consumers would be reluctant to buy genetically modified fish, regardless of good food quality and food safety.”

Some critics call AquaBounty’s salmon “Frankenfish.” Others say the effort is pointless.

“I don’t see the necessity of it,” said Casson Trenor of Greenpeace USA — which opposes all genetically modified organisms, including plants. “We don’t need to build a new fish.”

The FDA has completed its review of key portions of AquaBounty’s application, according to Chief Executive Ronald Stotish. Within weeks, the company expects the agency to convene an advisory committee of outside experts to weigh evidence, collect public testimony and issue a recommendation about the fish’s fitness for human consumption.

There’s that darn “fit for human consumption” phrase again. Haven’t we heard that used recently? Given the “fitness” standards the EPA and NOAA are using for fish these days, I’m not sure consumer confidence should be bolstered in AquaBounty’s new fare if it is eventually approved.

All of this experimenting on our food supply is making me sick.

Or, more to the point, I’m afraid it will make us all sick.

– SH