Monday, August 29, 2011

When in Doubt, Blame the Prez

The Republicans have made it clear that they have one goal--to make Barack Obama a one-term president. I had a heated debate with a tea party fellow a few weeks ago, and this fellow kept telling me that both parties participate in political gamesmanship like this--driving voters away from the other guy, which includes but is not limited to re-districting, filibustering and doing things for political gain and not for the general welfare of the American people.

But here is the difference--liberals would never threaten to drive the economy off a cliff. Liberals would never sign a pledge with, say, a union boss, that puts said unions over the people they were elected to serve. Liberals would never ignore their own disapproval ratings and continue to say what they stand for is what the American people want even though they know that is a crock of shit. And most of all, even if the other party was occupying the White House, liberals would never disagree with everything the president does or says just to disagree.

The fact that Republicans want Obama out of office so bad, that they have to constantly resort to below-the-belt jabs and have such a wildly offensive disrespect for him should tell you all you need to know about Republicans. The hypocrisy is also maddening--for example, it's okay for George Bush to talk about terrorists and that we're gonna get those bastards yadda yadda yadda before saying, "Now watch this drive" and then hitting a tee shot. But if Obama is seen on the golf course at all, as he was in Martha's Vineyard last week, he's spending too much time golfing and not enough time working.

I could spend a week giving you examples of this, but instead I'll ask you to look ahead to next week. Obama will unveil his new program to create jobs, and it's expected to have a large infrastructure component--one that will require the government to spend a little to make a lot, and in the process make our crumbling bridges and broken highways better and safer. And the Republicans will block it--claiming that we shouldn't be spending at all in this economy, and instead we should just keep giving more to rich people who "create jobs." But really what they will be doing is not allowing Obama to have any level of success whatsoever, especially success at giving the economy the shot in the arm it desperately needs.

So get your popcorn ready, America--next week will continue to show us why the Republican party is so very dangerous to us all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Americans For Prosperity: Criminals

In some ways, I have no problem with Republicans being Republicans or conservative. Heck, there has to be another side, right? I especially understand Republicans who have boatloads of money and assets wanting corporate-friendly lawmakers in office to support their views that less taxation and less regulation leads to more money in their pockets, some of which is funneled back into elections to keep these lawmakers in office.

But here is where I have a problem--if you are not independently wealthy, and you support Republican and conservative and tea party ideals--well, I'll come out and say it--you are an idiot. Because those ideals mess with our democracy and the fabric of what made our country great. Don't let them tell you that taxes and regulation are bad for our country--those things are only bad for their bottom lines, not yours. You will benefit with the rich paying more in taxes (their relative contribution to the US Treasury is at the lowest percentage in years and corporations like GE paid no income tax in 2010) and helping to lower our deficit, which in turn will help our economy get out of its rut because the rest of us will have more money to spend, which will spur demand and create more jobs. For the record, the Bush tax cuts did not create jobs and trickle down economics is a fraud, but that's for another story. Luckily we progressives are fighting back and taking to the streets as we did here in Madison a few months ago, and as we are prepared to do at the polls in Ohio in November to repeal Senate Bill 5.

And you know, I'll even go so far as to say that I don't mind healthy debates with Republicans. But here is where I really have a problem--the Koch Brothers, aka billionaire business moguls Charles and David Koch, are lynch pins for a group called Americans for Prosperity. Here are a couple of the dirty tricks Americans for Prosperity has recently employed to try and game elections and strike fear in ordinary people--especially those who are less fortunate.

They tried to rig the Wisconsin state senate recall elections by sending out phony absentee ballots that had the wrong return date listed on them. They put phony eviction notices on the homes of folks in Michigan, scaring them into thinking that the building of a bridge to Canada would cost them their homes. Instead the Kochs and AFP were scaring these folks so that they could continue to support their billionaire pal Matty Moroun, who happens to own the current bridge from Michigan to Windsor, Ontario.

And then last week, also in Michigan, with governor Rick Snyder (what is it with conservatives all being named Rick?) facing push back and potential recall, and with concerned citizens circulating petitions to repeal Public Act 4, which essentially lets state governments take over city and county legislatures as they see fit--Americans for Prosperity used robo calls claiming that those circulating petitions are identity thieves who will use signees' personal information to steal from them. The end game here, of course, is the hope that these folks won't sign the recall petitions out of fear, and the bad guys will win--no recalls, more power for them, more money in their pockets, more power for Republicans, etc. etc. etc.

There are no doubt hundreds, maybe thousands, of examples of this criminal activity. And groups like AFP must be stopped, and must be exposed for the frauds that they are. But what's more, if you are a conservative and think that this activity is okay--well, as I said earlier, and I stand by this--you are an idiot.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Backpedaling in Ohio

Lately as GOP lawmakers face historic pushback for some of their overreaching with regard to union-busting, they are finding their approval ratings plummeting. In some instances, Republicans are being recalled from office as they were in Wisconsin last week. Of course, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker now claims to want to work with his democratic pals from across the aisle. And yesterday Ohio Governor John Kasich, perhaps on the heels of Wisconsin's elections, backpedaled on Senate Bill 5, the union busting bill he rammed through the legislature around the same time Walker rammed his through. Now Kasich, like Walker, wants to work things out with union bosses and state house democrats who pushed back with angry protests and then petition signatures which forced a November election vote on SB5.

My response to Walker and Kasich's backpedaling? Let them trip over their shoelaces. Those guys both had their chances to "negotiate in good faith," but instead took obnoxious stands that had the message of claiming fiscal responsibility and that this had to happen or else. I don't trust Walker to negotiate and I don't trust Kasich to do so either. I hope the people of Ohio leave that bill to a vote and defeat it as soundly as it appears will happen. Of course, you know the Koch brothers are going to pump millions of dollars into that election too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Victory in Wisconsin

Don't believe everything you read, especially from much of the mainstream media which fawns over the GOP for some reason (note: some reason is that they are being influenced/owned/financed by right wing factions). So when Scott Walker, the Brothers Fitzgerald and state senators like Alberta "Thank You Kathy Nickolaus" Darling spout off that they have won the overall battle of this summer's recall elections, they couldn't be more wrong.

Last night, Democratic incumbents Bob Wirch and Jim Holperin staved off recalls by Walker and company as the GOP feverishly tried to win back at least one of the two seats they lost last week. Last month, Green Bay's Dave Hansen also staved off a Republican challenger, but the GOP failed to go tit-for-tat when they could not garner signatures for three more recalls. Then, in the recall elections of last Tuesday, Democratic challengers Jessica King and Jennifer Shilling won their two elections over Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke, respectively. So the final tally on the recalls is Democrats 5, Republicans 4, and since a two-seat advantage was gained, that means Walker's GOP holds a one-seat advantage in the state senate.
(We won't even mention winning the three primaries in which Walker ran fake Dems--our tax dollars hard at work).

Of course, he's not happy about that, because as The Nation's John Nichols pointed out, moderate Republican Dale Schultz voted against Walker's union-busting bill in March. And this is why Walker suddenly talked about wanting to reach across the aisle to work with both parties a bit more. Remember when the Wisconsin 14 kept trying to negotiate with Walker, and his response to them was to send state troopers to their houses, and to ram his budget repair bill through anyway? Oh, but before that he found time to talk to billionaire corporate campaign donor David Koch for 20 minutes....wait a minute, that wasn't David Koch, was it? It was a blogger posing as Koch, a call that will go down in the history of one of the great moments for liberals.

Walker won't "work with" the other side any more now than he did then, because, well, he's a scumbag. And like other GOP power-grubbers (a pre-requisite these days to hold any Republican public service position), Walker has one goal--to funnel money from the bottom and middle to the top, and to keep some of that money flowing into his own campaigns and right wing initiatives--not to "create jobs with tax breaks" as they keep claiming. So like we progressives did last week by making statement to the GOP in Wisconsin, we're turning our attention now to Scott Walker, who we can begin collecting signatures on later this year or early next. We're coming for you, Walker, and that door is gonna hit you so hard on the way out, that no Koch brother who rubs your ass will ever be able to get the bruise out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

How Dangerous is ALEC?

Stacks of magazines tend to pile up in the summer months, but yesterday I finally picked up the issue of The Nation with ALEC Exposed on the cover. If you are not familiar with them, ALEC stands for American Legislative Exchange Council. The group has been around for decades, but once the 2010 midterm elections shifted control of the US House of Representatives and many state governor seats, they threw a hail mary--ALEC went for it, and by went for it, I mean they decided that the time was right to rapidly ram legislation through state governments.

And make no mistake, they are right wing and radical in every sense of those terms. And they are responsible for drafting legislation in states like Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan and Florida to bust up unions, privatize education, suppress voters, and decrease the size of government. In short, everything the right stands for --and so if you're looking for the playbook from which it seems the likes of Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Kasich are drawing plays from, this is where you should start. Also, as you might expect, the Koch brothers and other corporate heavyweights have a huge hand in what ALEC is about.

Thankfully, folks like us are catching on. And part of the reason we're catching on is by reading publications such as The Nation, The Progressive Magazine and Brad Blog; and also with the help of initiatives such as Alex Exposed. Please read this and pass it on to everyone you know. If we can continue to educate ourselves on how radical groups like ALEC are threatening the fabric of our democracy, and learning how we can combat them, we have a chance to squelch them. And it's extremely important to do that before the 2012 elections.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Grover Norquist Sucks

No doubt you have heard the name Grover Norquist quite a bit lately. He is not a member of Congress, yet he has more power than any of them, and you might argue he has more power than President Obama. Norquist is a president himself, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. His signature claim to fame besides his group's mission, is that he once said that he didn't want to eliminate government--he only wanted to shrink it to the point that he could drown it in the bathtub.

Members of the Tea Party are disciples of Norquist, as most, if not all, of them have signed Norquist's infamous pledge that they will not ever vote to raise taxes of any kind--not even corporate tax loopholes--EVER. And when the Tea Party held the economy and the President hostage a few weeks ago, and when Obama got backed into a corner and agreed to a deal with no new revenues, Norquist's name came up quite a bit. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell sparred with Norquist recently on Morning Joe, and Norquist is snarky and acts like the kid in the sandbox who pushes the other kids into a corner and tells them they can have a small corner while he and his rich friends can have most of the sandbox. And he makes right wing members of congress sign a pledge making this legal.

Chris Matthews also sparred with Norquist on his show, Hardball.

Here is the danger in this as I see it. Norquist and his corporate lobbyist friends and the Koch Brothers spend gazillions of dollars on campaigns to get Tea Pary folks elected. Those folks get elected because Fox News and other right wing farces pull the wool over voters' eyes, and enough democrats stay away from polls, allowing Tea Party candidates into office. Those people tell our President that he cannot raise taxes, ever, and they would instead prefer we default on our obligations. They say he can't do it because of their pledge to Norquist. But the problem is, they have an obligation to their constituents--all of their constituents--to never put us in a position of possible default to protect some tax loopholes or to protect taxes for the rich, period. They also have an obligation to their consitutents and to the country that they should be willing to compromise on raising revenues, especially when so many spending cuts are on the table.

Anyone who voted for those Tea Party freshmen should be ashamed of themselves unless they are wealthy. Slowly, they are sucking the life out of our country and our democracy as we know it. They suck, but Grover Norquist sucks more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Dark Day in Wisconsin. Or Is It?

I can't think of a better day to start this blog. Yesterday in Wisconsin, the GOP (which in my mind stands for Greed over People) won four of the six seats in the historic recall elections. That means that they barely hung on to a majority in the state senate, currently with a 17-16 majority. It's hard to stay positive, but there are a few observations to take away....

I just heard John Nichols from The Nation and from here in Madison on The Bill Press Show, and he reminded the guest host that Republican state senator Dale Schultz is a pro-labor guy who voted against Scott Walker's union busting bill back in March, and that we now have a 17-16 advantage as it relates to that. It's also encouraging that it came down to one race--Sandy Pasch vs. Alberta Darling in the Milwaukee suburbs (where once again county clerk and noted Walker cronie Kathy Nickolaus is being accused of tampering with votes), and Nichols also mentioned today that Walker's approval rating currently sits at 34 percent. And hey, we won two seats in very strong Republican districts.

But of course, the Koch Brothers and corporate special interests funneled a record $8 million into Darling's campaign, and if Walker is up for recall in January, you can bet they will spend maybe ten times that to try and keep their puppet in office. It's important then, that we progressives continue to fight on the ground and punch Walker's anti-union and anti-middle class agenda in the face. As with all Republicans and in particular the Tea Party, there is a common and concerted agenda to break unions, and to funnel more money and power from the bottom to the top, so that all that's left are a few kings and queens ruling us "peasants."

That's what they want, and it's not going to work, because our country was founded on democracy--and while they can try to take that away, ultimately they simply won't. I, for one, as this blog's description states, am going to punch back, and punch back hard.