Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Rush Limbaugh: America's Biggest Welfare Recipient


The OxyMoron, Rush Limbaugh, is always bitching and moaning about welfare recipients (and, indeed, he slams any working person who gets any kind of assistance from the government).

Limbaugh's hysterical screeds about the evils of "welfare" seem to get more extreme with each passing year. Indeed, on Sept. 1, 2005, Rush even blamed "the welfare and entitlement thinking of government" for the humanitarian disaster that hit New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

But note that Rush only has a problem with poor people who get welfare. Exempt from his criticism are the rich, the politically-connected, and the corporations, who really collect most of the welfare in this country.

Indeed, the military war profiteers get vastly more welfare than all America's poor people combined. I mean, how many billions of dollars in closed, no-bid contracts did Halliburton alone receive in the Iraq War? And they're merely one of the pig-like, greedy corporations with their snouts at the trough of the bloated, wasteful Military Industrial Complex.

Of course, Rush also exempts himself from his screeds about welfare. After all, the Pig-Man gets loads of welfare himself. Indeed, Limbaugh's entire business is dependent on complete and total free usage of the public airwaves that we the people OWN.

Rush and his backers don't pay a penny for using OUR property. The airwaves we own are every bit as much a tangible asset as real estate or gold.

And Rush gets to use it to spread his NeoNazi hate speech for free.

And it's not like Rush's corporate backers are so broke that they couldn't afford to pay at least a small nominal fee to use our airwaves. (After all, these people just recently signed Rush up for a new contract that will pay him an eye-popping $400 million, on top of the tens of millions Limbaugh has already pocketed over the years).

If Rush's free ride on the public airwaves ain't welfare, then nothing is.

And, of course, this isn't the first time in Rush's life that he's gotten a handout from the government. After all, in his 1996 book, Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Al Franken noted that Rush once admitted on his radio show that he'd been receiving handouts from the government dole back when he was struggling in the 1980s. And now this fat piece of sh*t has the gall to blast any and all government programs that offer a helping hand to working people.

Oh, and to all you wingnuts who constantly bitch and moan about poor people getting a "free ride" off the taxpayers: obviously, you've never been poor, yourselves. If you were, you'd know that America's skimpy, Scrooge-like social safety net hardly offers much of a helping hand to poor people. We're not living in Sweden, for Chrissakes. The vast majority of poor and working-class people in America get ZERO help from the government. Frankly, if you're poor in America, you're on your own these days.

The fact is, Rush Limbaugh is America's biggest welfare recipient (both in a literal and figurative sense).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Infamous Episodes in GOP History: Rush Limbaugh Mocks Michael J. Fox


The OxyMoron, Rush Limbaugh, has done a lot of despicable things in his time. But one of the most infamous occurred on Oct. 23, 2006, when Limbaugh mocked Michael J. Fox's symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Limbaugh mocked and imitated the symptoms that Fox displayed during a TV ad that supported political candidates who favor stem cell research.

"He is exaggerating the effects of the disease," the Pig-Man told his delusional listeners. "He's moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act....This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting."

As we all know, taking medication is something that the Pig-Man knows quite a bit about.

You know, watching Limbaugh bouncing around as he does in this video, reminds me of the "bowl full of jelly" line in the classic yuletide poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."

Indeed, I guess you could even think of the plump Limbaugh as a Santa Claus of sorts (that is, if your image of Santa is an obese, thrice-divorced, serial lying, cowardly chickenhawk, hillbilly heroin-guzzling, NeoNazi piece of shit).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hold Glenn Beck, Fox, and News Corp Accountable

From ColorOfChange.org:

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of Fox News Channel's parent company News Corp, said he agrees with Glenn Beck's statement that President Obama is "a racist" -- a clear sign that Fox's problems with race start at the very top.

Now that he's been called out and the spotlight is squarely on him, Murdoch says he doesn't agree with Beck, but he won't denounce Beck's rhetoric either.

It's time to force the conversation, publicly. Murdoch can stand by the fact that he supports Glenn Beck's race-baiting; or he can tell us why he doesn't and what he's going to do about it.

We can hold Beck, Fox, and News Corp accountable. It starts by demanding Murdoch answer a few simple questions. Please add your voice now.

Stop Glenn Beck's race baiting

Fox's Glenn Beck recently said President Obama is "a racist" and has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Beck is on a campaign to convince the American public that President Obama's agenda is about serving the needs of Black communities at White people's expense. It's repulsive, divisive and shouldn't be on the air.

Join ColorOfChange.org in calling on Beck's advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.

Add your voice now.

80 companies have stopped their ads from appearing on Glenn Beck's show--click here for the full list.

Oh, and in case you need a refresher course in the creepy, twisted worldwide of Beck, go here for a few examples of his NeoNazi ramblings.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Would Black NFL Players Refuse To Play For Limbaugh's Rams?


"In Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering"
----Rush Limbaugh, Sept. 15, 2009.

There's growing speculation brewing now that black players will refuse to play for the St. Louis Rams, should hatemonger Rush Limbaugh succeed in his bid to buy the team.

I hope to God this is indeed the case, and that black players will indeed boycott the Rams. I cannot fathom how any African-American football player could play on a team owned by a Nazi asshole like Limbaugh. I mean, this is a man who has essentially built his career by denigrating and mocking black people, with one racist comment after another.

Furthermore, I believe the Rams, and the NFL in general have even more to lose, should they allow the OxyMoron to buy the Rams. I would wager that a lot of fans (like myself) will boycott the NFL. The NFL allows this fat piece of shit a seat at the owners' table at its own financial peril.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Boehner Said He's Never Heard from a Supporter of Public Option - 202-225-6205

From Jon Ponder, at Pensito Review:

House GOP Leader John Boehner (Ohio) told reporters yesterday that, based entirely on his empirical experience, there aren't any supporters of an optional government-run health-insurance plan. He said the government option is as "unpopular as a garlic milkshake." He also acknowledged that by making this claim, he was "inviting" the plan’s supporters to call him:

"I'm still trying to find the first American to talk to who’s in favor of the public option, other than a member of Congress or the administration. I've not talked to one, and I get to a lot of places and I've not had anyone come up to me — I know I'm inviting it — and lobby for the public option," Boehner said.

"This thing (the public option) is about as unpopular as a garlic milkshake," Boehner added, noting that he had not consumed such a milkshake.

As is usual for Bush-era Republicans, Boehner is either clueless or lying. Surely someone his staff has informed him that a Quinnipiac poll in Ohio two weeks ago found that Boehner’s home-staters are in favor of an optional government insurance plan, 57 percent to 35 percent.

Nationwide, the latest CBS News/New York Times poll found that 72 percent of Americans favor the government plan, while just 26 percent oppose it.

A SurveyUSA poll in late August found that 77 percent of Americans supported the government option.

If you're a supporter of the government plan, Leader Boehner needs to hear from you:

  • Washington: 202-225-6205
  • Butler County: 513-779-5400
  • Miami County: 937-339-1524

From Pensito Review.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Debtors' Revolt Begins Now


Ann Minch of Red Bluff, Calif., a 46-year-old stepmother of two is angry as hell, and she's not going to take it anymore, according to HuffingtonPost. Minch has carried a balance of several thousand dollars on her Bank of America credit card for years and says she's never missed a payment.

Now Bank of America has rewarded her loyalty by repeatedly raising her interest rate, which reach 30 percent in July. (Yes, the same Bank of America that pocketed $25 billion of our tax dollars in the federal government's bank bailout last year).

Fed up, Minch turned to YouTube.

As Minch notes in her video:

"You are evil, thieving bastards. You have reaped ungodly profits in your behemoth casino scams, then lost, only to turn around and usurp the wealth of this great nation by the outright rape and pillage of middle class Americans, whose sweat and toil built it. The biggest ripoff in the history of the world is padding your bonus checks, with the federal government as your co-conspirators. Every last one of you should be rotting in prison."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Not Obama, Is A Liar


President Obama: "There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false---the reforms I'm proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally."

Rep. Joe Wilson: "You Lie!"

As CrooksAndLiars.com points out, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shows once again that the Republicans have "no class and no respect for government and Americans."

Wilson yelled out "You lie!" when President Obama reassured Americans during his nationally televised speech Wednesday that his health care reform plan did not include illegal aliens. As C&L noted: "Disgusting. Can you imagine the uproar if a Democrat had so little class as to do that during one of Bush's speeches?"

And as Media Matters points out, it's Wilson, not Obama, who is the liar.

Neither the President's plan, nor H.R. 3200 cover undocumented aliens.

From Media Matters:

House Bill: "No Federal Payment for Undocumented Aliens." According to America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, Page 143, Line 3, Section 246: "No Federal Payment for Undocumented Aliens. Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States." [America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, accessed 7/22/09]

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Beck Boycott Continues To Expand, As Advertisers Refuse To Support Hate Speech


When Fox News commentator Glenn Beck called President Obama a "racist," on July 28, he likely had no idea of the firestorm of controversy he was about to unleash.

After all, Fox News (along with HateWing radio and the Wingnut blogosphere) spew out even more extreme hateful rhetoric on a daily basis. In fact, Beck's "Obama is a racist" comment was far from the most offensive and controversial comment that Beck himself has made over the years.

It's a measure of the double standard in our society that the likes of Beck are able to spew all kinds of violent hate speech and never face any sort of reprimand.

And yet, if anyone on the Left makes even a mildly controversial remark, it will dog them to the end of time (and almost certainly end their career). Recall that all Howard Dean ever did was give out an enthusiastic shout to his supporters---and that alone was enough to sink his presidential ambitions. He didn't even say anything controversial, for Chrissakes.

But the Right-Wing these days pretty much about to get away with murder, and face zero repercussions. Beck can call the predominately African-American victims of Katrina "scumbags" and get away with it. He can call the mother of a fallen soldier, Cindy Sheehan, a "slut" and get away with it. He can blandly and chillingly talk about killing Michael Moore and get away with it.

Given all this, Beck probably thought his "Obama is a racist" remark would never generate any controversy. It was, after all, just another typical day on the Right-Wing cesspool of hate, bigotry and intolerance that is Fox News.

But Beck was wrong.

The boycott of Beck's program started very modestly. In August, the grassroots group, ColorOfChange.org, which organized the boycott, announced that three advertisers had agreed to stop supporting Beck's Fox program.

The reaction from the Right-Wing at the time was sarcastic. One commentator at Wingnut site Hot Air scoffed at the idea that the boycott would amount to anything and chuckled at the notion that a boycott supported by only three advertisers would have any sort of impact.

That was then.

How things have changed in the past couple of weeks.

Today, ColorOfChange.org's boycott has grown to 57 advertisers. It has been enormously successful. Although Beck's program remains on the air, he has to be sweating it out these days, as the boycott grows larger and larger.

Although ColorOfChange.org has enjoyed remarkable success in building a boycott, it's clear that there is still much work to be done. We must continue to pressure Beck's remaining advertisers and remind them that we'll not support their products as long as they support a hatemonger like Beck. We must also continue to pressure the existing 57 advertising boycotters to keep their boycott in place, even after this storm of controversy passes.

So who is still advertising on Beck's program? Here is a list of advertisers:

  • Rosland Capital
  • Roche Diagnostics (Accu-Chek Aviva)
  • Church and Dwight Co, Inc. (Oxi Clean)
  • StopRepairBills.com
  • Clarity Media Group (The Weekly Standard)
  • Jos. A. Bank Clothiers
  • Citrix (GoToMeeting)
  • News Corp. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Seoul Metropolitan Government (seoul.go.kr)
  • Zero Technologies (ZeroWater)
  • Video Professor
  • Fox News Network (realamericanstories.com)
  • Carbonite
  • 1-800-Pet-Meds
  • IRSTaxAgreements.com
  • Lear Capital
  • Our Country Deserves Better PAC

If you don't support fascist Nazi-like hate speech polluting our nation's airwaves, then please don't support these advertisers (and let them know your feelings). For that matter, consider boycotting the cesspool of hate and misinformation that is Fox News. And please: support ColorOfChange.org and sign their online petition.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What's Really Stupid: America's Racist Justice System


As the controversy over the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. continues to grab headlines, a debate rages over President Obama's description of the police acting "stupidly."

But as long as we're on the subject, it seems to me that we're ignoring a larger issue: the stupidity of America's racist justice system.

Don't believe the U.S. justice system is racist? Well, let's take a look at the numbers.

Since 2000, the U.S. prison population has risen from 1.7 million to 2.1 million. 40 percent of the inmates are African-Americans (who make up only 14 percent of the overall U.S. population).

So why are blacks more likely to be incarcerated in America? It's really no mystery.

As Britain's Financial Times noted on Tuesday, Department of Justice figures show that African-Americans and whites use and sell drugs at similar ratios to their share of the population. Yet an African-American offender is 10 times more likely to be sentenced to prison than a white offender, for the same offense.

The Financial Times (hardly a radical leftist publication) noted Tuesday that, Obama's presidential victory notwithstanding, "racial disparities in the U.S. are in some respects worse than they were 10 or 20 years ago."

Just as most white Americans never really came to terms to the horrible legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, many whites today have refused to confront the fact that America remains a racist nation in many ways, something that is confirmed by the astonishing Justice Department figures.

And the odds are remote that anything will be done about this for many years to come. After all, most white American remain blissfully unaware that our nation's justice system is blatantly racist.

And the vast majority of Republicans continue to maintain that there is no disparity at all. Indeed, an ongoing theme that is often repeated on right-wing talk radio is that the notion that our nation is in any way racist is a figment of Liberals' imagination.

Republicans deny that America's justice system is racist with the same fervor that they deny the existence of global warming.

Don't believe me? Next time you have a talk about politics with a right-wing friend, raise this issue. There's no better way to make a wingnut go ballistic than to dare suggest that America's justice system is racist.

In artistic depictions, Lady Justice is often shown carrying a set of scales and wearing a blindfold. The latter is meant to depict the idea that justice should be meted out objectively. But in today's America, the blindfold is worn by the millions of Americans who continue to believe that our nation's justice system isn't racist.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

With Misleading Obama Photo, Drudge Again Shows He's A Lying Sack of Sh*t


Yesterday, I was browsing a message board when I noticed that a lot of the wingnut participants were abuzz about a photo of President Obama at the G8 summit. At first glance, the photo appears to show Obama leering at the backside of a passing woman.

Immediately, I suspected there was more to the story. And one thing was definitely clear: I knew this photo must be the featured item at the Drudge Report. Any time the wingnuts are abuzz about the latest supposed Democratic "outrage" you can be sure where the story is generating buzz: Drudge, the online sewer pit that spews GOP lies and propaganda 24/7.

And, (as is the case with so much of what Drudge peddles as "news") it turns out this "story" is complete and utter bullsh*t. If you look at the video of the incident, as opposed to the misleading single photo Drudge peddled, it's clear that Obama wasn't leering at the woman at all. Instead, he's briefly glancing down at the steps, watching his footing, at he assists another woman who is descending the steps. To view the video, go here.

Although this "Obama-Leering-At-A-Woman's-Butt" photo has been debunked by ABC News, among others, Drudge continues to peddle this bullsh*t. As of 2:20 a.m. July 11, the misleading photo was still prominently featured as the lead "news item" at the top of the Drudge Report site, with accompanying news stories that offered sensational angles like "She's young enough to be his daughter." True, eventually, a small text link appeared with the headline: "ABCNEWS: No he didn't ..."

No doubt, all of Drudge's millions of visitors saw the prominent photo. It's unclear how many bothered to click the ABC story, which eventually appeared and which debunked this news "story."

And once again, Drudge has revealed himself to be a right-wing-propaganda-peddling, sack-of-shit liar.

Day after day (like right-wing talk radio), Drudge spews out the latest GOP talking points and propaganda. He is truly a sick, detestable, and evil man. If there is a God, then someday, people like him will roast in the flames of the deepest depths of hell.

Incidentally, the reason I despise people like Drudge has nothing to do with his wingnut, Bush-supporting, GOP politics. Instead, it everything to do with the fact that Drudge, like Limbaugh, is a fucking liar.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Months After 'Pelosi Would Get Shot' Remark, David Feherty's Career Is Doing Just Fine


Remember back in March, when CBS Golf Analyst David Feherty, in a column in D Magazine, spewed this crazy, violent comment:

"From my own experience visiting the troops in the Middle East, I can tell you this, though: despite how the conflict has been portrayed by our glorious media, if you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Osama bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and bin Laden would be strangled to death."

At the time, Keith Olbermann predicted that Feherty's highly paid career as a CBS golf analyst would soon be history. Unfortunately, Olbermann was wrong.

Incredibly, Feherty has faced no real repercussions for his remarks since he made them back in March (and I would suspect he never will). He continues to happily work on the public airwaves in his highly paid gig as a golf commentator at CBS.

As Stu Kreisman noted in Huffington Post:

"David Feherty insulted every person who puts on a uniform to fight for the United States. He cast them all as hate mongers willing to assassinate members of the government that Feherty and his pals don't care for."

By contrast, when someone on the Left makes a comment that is even remotely controversial, there's always hell to pay. Remember the Dixie Chicks?

Kreisman notes: "At a concert in London, lead singer Natalie Maines mentioned she was ashamed that George Bush came from her home state of Texas. For that comment, the Dixie Chicks were banned from most of the public airwaves, radio stations sponsored rallies where CDs were crushed and burned."

But Feherty has faced no repercussions and continues to collect a paycheck at his highly-paid position at CBS.

If you'd like to contact CBS about this, go here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Gannett Co. Lays Off Thousands As CEO Pockets Millions


Gannett Co., the biggest U.S. newspaper publisher by daily circulation, has been taking a hatchet to its work force in recent years, even as its CEO pockets millions in compensation.

In the latest round of cuts, announced Wednesday, Gannett announced another 1,400 layoffs in the next few weeks. That amounts to 3 percent of the workforce.

One person at Gannett who isn't suffering these days is CEO Craig A. Dubow. In 2008, Dubow pocketed $3.7 million in compensation. That includes a base salary of $1,166,667, as well as stocks, options and other compensation. The year before, Dubow got $7.9 million in compensation.

In 2008, Gannett cut 4,600 jobs. It also required "most of its remaining employees to take unpaid leave in the first and second quarters."

In 2008, Gannett was ranked as "one of America's worst places to work," according to employee survey site Glassdoor. Dubow's approval rating stood at 19 percent, according to the survey.

Last year, Gannett stock fell in value 75 percent. Gannett lost $6.6 billion in 2008.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mark Levin: The Most Extremist and Frightening HateWing Talker of Them All


Talk radio these days is becoming more and more extremist and frightening. And HateWing spewer Mark Levin is the most frightening and extreme of them all.

Clearly, though, there's an audience for Levin's twisted vision. After all, his latest book, Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto was a recent No. 1 New York Times bestseller, with over a million copies now in print. And an incredible 1,355 out of 1,538 Amazon customers have given the book a perfect 5-star rating.

Liberty and Tyranny rounds up and recycles the usual arguments for (supposedly) limiting government. It's the same tired, cliched, simplistic arguments that have been trotted out endlessly by today's GOP (a philosophy, incidentally, that was trounced at the polls by the American people last year, who demonstrated that they're sick and tired of three decades of trickle-down Reaganomics).

But Levin couldn't care less what the majority of American people want. He believes that he, and his shrinking GOP base, know what's really best for the American people. Frankly, it sounds like elitism to me. (Which is ironic, because Levin and his ilk are constantly bitching and moaning about the "Liberal Elites" who are supposedly trying to push their views on the rest of us).

What's worse is that in Liberty and Tyranny (as was the case with his other books), Levin tries to justify his extremist beliefs by claiming that his twisted views are what the Founding Fathers called for.

If you read Levin, you get the impression that America today (a modern industrial superpower with a population of 300 million people) should be run exactly the same way it was run in the 1700s (when the U.S. was a sparsely populated collection of 13 rural colonies).

This is True Freedom, Levin would have us believe. Never mind that back in the 1700s, most Americans weren't free at all. After all, millions of blacks were enslaved. Indians were persecuted and murdered. And the majority of the population (women) couldn't even vote.

Is a 1700s-style government what Levin really wants for today's America? Well, when it fits his arguments. For example, any non-defense government programs, of course, ought to be abolished. Everything from Social Security to the FDA to the FAA to Medicare. Never mind that the American people overwhelming support all these programs. Levin wants them all abolished.

The problem with Levin is the inconsistency of his arguments. Levin, you see, has absolutely no problem with America's massive, out-of-control Pentagon budget. (Never mind the the fact that the Founding Fathers were opposed to a standing army during peacetime, as well as the fact that the U.S. got along just fine without the Pentagon for much of our nation's history).

Although Levin claims to be in favor of a smaller, less intrusive government, he has no problems with pouring trillions of our tax dollars into the pockets of wealthy and powerful "defense" contractors. So much for Eisenhower's warning about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex.

But what did Eisenhower know? He was only an American hero and decorated military general who won World War II for America. No, let's ignore Eisenhower's words of wisdom and instead listen to cowardly chickenhawks like Levin (who never served in the military).

Incredibly, for all his talk about "fiscal responsibility," Levin has no problem with corporate welfare. In Liberty and Tyranny you won't read a word about the hundreds of billions of tax dollars that the likes of Halliburton have collected in closed, no-bid corporate welfare over the years.

Nor will you read a word about how corporate America these days pays little tax (in fact, two-thirds of U.S. corporations pay zero federal tax these days). But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims U.S. corporations face a crushing, heavy tax burden.

One wonders what the Founding Fathers would have made of Levin. Although he claims to speak for their vision for America, I get the feeling that the likes of Thomas Jefferson would have been appalled at Levin. Jefferson, for example, rejected the divinity of Jesus Christ and famously wrote papers attacking the absurdities of the Bible. The Founding Fathers in fact were not Christian. But Levin, as always, lies through his teeth and claims that they were.

And yet Levin hijacks the Founding Father's views and would have us believe that they'd support things like George W. Bush's illegal, immoral $3 trillion War of Lies in Iraq. So much for George Washington's warning to the young nation to never get involved in overseas military adventures.

Bush, in fact, shredded the Constitution that Levin claims to support. During the Bush years, Levin fanatically supported Bush through all the outrages, from embracing torture as official state policy to warrantless wiretaps.

For Levin to turn around and claim in Liberty and Tyranny that he supports the philosophy of the Founding Fathers is sickening and grotesque. The Founding Fathers would have despised a dangerous demagogue like Levin.

Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto has been a huge success for Levin. It even has a near-perfect 4.5 stars on Amazon. In 1,538 customer reviews, the book has garnered a perfect 5-star rating from an incredible 1,355 customers. Levin often touts this fact on his radio show.

The wingnuts definitely know how to play the Amazon ratings game. Check out a book by anyone from Al Gore to Michael Moore and you'll see endless one-star "reviews" by wingnuts (who, instead of actually reading the books in question, simply leave a short one-sentence attack on the author).

Yes, Liberty and Tyranny has been a big success. But for that matter, so was "Mein Kampf."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

GOP Politicians OK With Tax-Funded Health Care---But Only For Themselves


Contrary to what you might have heard, GOP politicians aren't opposed to all taxpayer-funded health care. For example, they've got no problem with the lavish, taxpayer-funded health care that they themselves receive as members of Congress. They just don't want anyone else in America to enjoy these generous benefits.

In fact, members of Congress get the finest health care in America---and it's mostly paid for by taxpayers.

I don't have a problem with Democratic politicians getting taxpayer-funded health care. After all, many of them are trying to extend such benefits to the rest of us.

But for GOP politicians to receive such lavish, taxpayer-supported health care while loudly opposing it for everyone else is, of course, stinking hypocrisy.

Amazingly, no Republican politician to my knowledge has ever admitted this glaring contradiction. None of them have ever demanded that their own health-care coverage be the same as what ordinary working stiffs get, out in the private sector. And nobody in the MSM ever bothers to call them out on this blatant hypocrisy.

Members of Congress participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). They get a wide range of plans to choose from. They can also insure their spouses and dependents. There's no waiting period. And unlike the rest of us, no member of Congress has to worry about being denied coverage.

I've never heard of a member of Congress going bankrupt from medical bills. For the rest of us, the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy in America is caused by medical bills. In fact, medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans annually. And even as GOP politicians enjoy generous health care benefits, they seem genuinely surprised at the notion that there's any kind of "crisis" going on with health care in America.

And here's something that GOP politicians would rather you not know: the government (i.e. you, the U.S. taxpayer) pays up to 75 percent of Congress members' health-care premiums, according to the Office of Personnel Management.

And as the St. Petersburg Times pointed out last year, members of Congress get other health-care benefits, as well, (funded by millions in taxpayer dollars):

Members of Congress have their own pharmacy, right in the Capitol. They also have a team of doctors, technicians and nurses standing by in case something busts in a filibuster. They can get a physical exam, an X-ray or an electrocardiogram, without leaving work.

GOP politicians think it's fine to enjoy taxpayer-funded health-care benefits. They just don't want these benefits for anyone else in America. Keep this in mind the next time you hear a GOP politician ranting away about how the government has no business being involved in health care.

If you think it's important that Americans have a strong public health insurance option this year, then consider writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iranians Are Showing Major Juevos---Unlike "Murkans"


Maybe they had it right, in a sense, when they said it can't happen here. In 2000, the U.S. had a presidential election blatantly stolen, with the 5-4 blessing of our Supreme Court. Four years later, the national election results sharply contrasted with the exit polling, and it was eventually demonstrated that the technology and means to "hack" some of the voting machines existed.

With few exceptions, no one raised any serious hell in the U.S., either time.

Not so right now in Iran, and richly to the credit of the people there. They are being asked to buy the idea that nearly 40 million handwritten ballots can be accurately counted and tallied in about 12 hours, and then with a clearly unpopular hard-line incumbent president winning by a huge, overwhelming landslide. Guess what -- they aren't buying it.

The unrest has become vast, with all those young Iranians taking to the streets in defiance of official repression. It makes me feel proud of the Iranians. And, it makes me feel just a bit ashamed of Americans, who, in words paraphrased from an old movie set in Mexico, with Federales looking for a gringo troublemaker: "Don't just stand there like burros! Haf you seen heem?"

We, my fellow "Murkans," just stood there like burros. Twice. No juevos, no cojones, either time. Nada.

The Iranians, for better or for worse, are not. Before them, recently, the Ukranians didn't, and to good effect. Even in Mexico, many didn't "just stand there like burros" after a questionable election outcome in 2006. And in Tiananmen Square, 20 years ago, and not in any election setting, the world witnessed one of the greatest, albeit futile, exhibitions of human courage ever seen.

So, where was the outrage in America in 2000, or in 2004?

I'd say it's when we stopped being America, and became, as George W. "Il Doofus" Bush always mispronounced it, "Murka."

And when we became Murka, a semiliterate frat pledge master like Il Doofus could have the presidency of the whole damned country stolen for him, perhaps twice. And amazingly few people said anything.

The unrest in Iran probably won't change things at the official level, and some unfortunate souls will be killed or injured. It may be all for nothing in the short run, as was the case with Tiananmen Square. But sometimes courage means that you have to fight injustice, even when you know you're going to lose.

We haven't shown that kind of courage here since about 1970. Way back then, with the long hair, bongs, ugly tie-dye and all -- we were actually America. Not Murka.

Right now, the whole world is watching -- but not Murka. They're watching Iran, of all places.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Doctors Who Performed Abortions In Nazi Germany Faced Death Penalty


If you browse an anti-abortion Web site, or listen to an anti-abortion activist these days, you'll encounter plenty of references to Nazi Germany.

For example, on Monday, Randall Terry, founder of the Operation Rescue said: "I believe George Tiller was one of the most evil men on the planet; every bit as vile as the Nazi war criminals who were hunted down, tried, and sentenced after they participated in the 'legal' murder of the Jews that fell into their hands."

Terry is hardly alone in his extremist views. For example, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly often demonized slain doctor George Tiller and said he was guilty Of "Nazi stuff."

Which raises a question: where did Hitler himself stand on abortion? Actually, he opposed it.

In fact, in their first year of power, in 1933, the Nazis outlawed abortion.

As Gloria Steinem pointed out in 1982, a flaw "in the fervent condemnations of pro-choice advocates as Nazis is that Hitler himself, and the Nazi doctrine he created, were unequivocally opposed to any individual right to abortion."

Steinem notes: "Under Hitler, choosing abortion became sabotage; a crime punishable by hard labor for the woman and a possible death penalty for the abortionist."

Hmmm, let me see: a "death penalty for the abortionist."

Some things really haven't changed much since 1933. Back then, it was the Nazis condemning "abortionists" to death. Today, it's the extremist, hate-filled evangelical "Christian" bigots whose twisted rhetoric is encouraging violence against doctors who practice abortion.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Marking 75th Anniversary Of 1934 San Francisco General Strike


This video takes a look at the 1934 San Francisco general strike. May 9 marks the 75th anniversary of this historic event, which occurred during an era when U.S. workers were willing to stand up to defend their rights.

Sadly, today's working class in America seems to be content with letting CEOs and other robber barons shit all over us, as these crooks loot the U.S. Treasury and dole out hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare to themselves and their rich allies.

If you've had enough of all this, consider joining a union.

"There is power in a factory, power in the land,
Power in the hands of a worker.
But it all amounts to nothing, if together we don't stand
There is power in a union.

Now the lessons of the past were all learned with workers' blood,
The mistakes of the bosses we must pay for.
From the cities and the farmlands to trenches full of mud,
War has always been the bosses' way, sir

The union forever, defending our rights,
Down with the blackleg, all workers unite.
With our brothers and our sisters from many far-off lands,
There is power in a union."

---Billy Bragg, "There is Power in a Union,", 1986.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Forget Michael Savage, When Will Britain Ban George W. Bush?


So Michael Savage has been banned from entering Britain? If Britain really wants to do its society a favor, it will ban George W. Bush, who is guilty of vastly greater crimes than any of the two-bit assholes that it included on its newly published immigration blacklist. In fact, Britain ought to ban all the members of the Bush Crime Family, from Dick Cheney to Paul Wolfowitz to Donald Rumsfeld.

Indeed by banning a insignificant mediocrity like Savage, but not banning Bush, it seems to me that Britain is trivializing the very real crimes of Bush. This is a man who embraced torture, shredded the Constitution, and lied America into an illegal war that killed 1.3 million Iraqi civilian men, women and children. (Oh, and let's not forget the 179 British troops who were also senselessly killed in Bush's war of lies).

Savage, by contrast, is an spiteful, nasty little turd. But he's no Bush.

Having said that, Britain did make the right decision in banning Savage. This is a man, after all who has said things like:

And this is just in the past few months. More of Savage's insane, hate-filled ramblings are here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mike Malloy: A Beacon Of Truth For Our Troubled Times


With his fury and righteous anger, Mike Malloy is a bit like right-wing talkers such as Michael Savage and Mark Levin.

Except Malloy is a progressive.

And he doesn't tell lies.

And he is well-informed.

And he tells the truth (unlike the right-wing talk radio hate-spewers).

Actually, come to think of it, Malloy is nothing like fascist nutbag sleazeballs like Levin and Savage. But he does get angry. And Malloy's rage has been a beacon of truth and sanity for many of us since the darkest years of the Bush era.

Malloy continues to speak Truth To Power today (even though he's had a devil of a time finding a permanent home on the radio dial).

First he was unceremoniously booted by Air America (which left a big black mark on that network in the eyes of many of us progressives). Then he lost his subsequent gig, when the progressive network Nova M folded.

In the spirit of "if you wanna get something done, you've got to do it yourself," Malloy has bravely set up shop on his own and is now self-syndicated.

I suppose some timid listeners will find Malloy too abrasive. But I think Malloy's hard-hitting, take-no-prisoners style is exactly what we need to counter the likes of Limbaugh and Levin. It's time we Democrats grew a pair. It's time we started fighting fire with fire. And last, but not least, it's time we started getting angry. Why, I've always wondered is it that the Right-Wing talkers are the ones who're always angry. We on the Left have a lot more to be angry about, for Chrissakes!

And if you're a progressive, please consider signing up and supporting Malloy's program, which currently exists solely through the subscriptions of its listeners. It only costs 25 cents a day. I call that a great investment to keep Malloy on the air, spreading the truth that you will never hear elsewhere (certainly not in the corporate mainstream media).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Progressive Music Classics. The Clash: "Guns On The Roof"



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

The punk sound that was causing a musical earthquake in Britain in the late 1970s seemed light years away from where I was living at the time: dreary, boring Corsicana, Texas.

After reading about The Sex Pistols in "Rolling Stone," I desperately wanted to check out the notorious new music---but it was difficult to find. Corsicana only had one record store. It was run by a hippy, who was more into Steely Dan and Yes.

One day, he gave me a free copy of The Clash's new album, Give 'Em Enough Rope, along with a copy of Liverpool New Wave band, The Yachts. Both had been sent to him as promo copies by the record company. He couldn't stand either of them---and indeed, he hated all punk (as did everyone else I talked to about music in Corsicana).

I didn't think much of The Yachts. But The Clash album blew me away. Unlike the band's first crude-sounding, low-budget (but classic) album, Give 'Em Enough Rope, was produced with a sizeable budget by top-flight producer Sandy Pearlman (who'd previously worked with major bands like Blue Oyster Cult). The big-budget, AOR-friendly sound really shouldn't have suited The Clash's music---but it did, and nowhere better than on the stunningly powerful track, "Guns On The Roof."

To this day, I can't help but hear this track and think of all horrors that Reagan's CIA unleashed upon the world in the 1980s, in the "Dirty Wars" in Central America and elsewhere.

Most Americans didn't really become familiar with The Clash until the band hit the U.S. charts in a big way in 1982, with singles like "Should I Stay Or Should I go?" But the fact is, the band's first two albums, The Clash (1977) and ...Rope (1978) were far more powerful than the later, commercial stuff. Having said that, all of the band's music is worth checking out, particularly the underrated, sprawling, 3-record masterpiece, "Sandinista!" from 1980.

People today who think that goddawful crap like Green Day is "punk" really need to check out the Pistols and The Clash. These bands were the real deal. By contrast, Green Day is about as threatening and dangerous as a cup of Starbucks coffee.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Where Were The "Tea Party" Protesters During Bush Years?


Lately, Fox News has been hyping the upcoming "Tea Party Protests," set for April 15. The event is supposed to be nonpartisan. But the people who purport to represent the movement are doing a lot of Obama-bashing.

Typical of the latter is a comment by a group organizing a local Tea Party event in Florida, which claims the protest is targeting the "outrageous spending by the Obama administration."

Which leads to me wonder: where in the f*ck were these protesters during the administration of George W. Bush?

Bush, as you'll recall, inherited a $128 billion budget surplus from Bill Clinton when he took office in 2001. Bush quickly squandered that and then proceeded to rack up gigantic budget deficits every year of his two terms in office.

Under Bush, the national debt grew by more than $4 trillion: the biggest debt increase of any president in U.S. history.

When Bush took office in 2001, the national debt stood at $5.7 trillion. At the end of Bush's two terms, the debt had skyrocketed to more than $9.849 trillion. And remember: Bush enjoyed a Republican Senate and House of Representatives during most of his time in office.

Things weren't helped along any by Bush's illegal and totally unnecessary Iraq War. That disaster will probably wind up costing the U.S. $3 trillion. It would be nice if some of these Tea Party protesters asked for an immediate halt to the $10 billion a month that America continues to squander in Iraq every month to this day. But I suspect there won't be too many "Stop the Iraq War" signs at these Tea Party events.

Like I said, where were these "tea party" protesters during the Bush years? Where were they when Bush was handing out billions of our tax dollars to his wealthy friends? Where were they when Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton, was pocketing billions of dollars in closed, no-bid contracts? Where were they when $12 billion in cash disappeared without a trace after it was shipped to Iraq?

Obama has only been in office a few months. He inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression.

I'd suspect that most of the nearly 70 million Americans who voted for him understood very well what an Obama administration would bring: higher taxes on the rich and more domestic spending by the government to re-start the disastrous economy Obama inherited. Ten million more voters supported Obama's plans than the 59 million McCain voters who wanted more of the same failed GOP policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

The fact is, Obama is simply carrying out the policies that he promised during his campaign. They are policies that the majority of voters want---a fact that the Tea Party Protesters appear to be totally ignorant about.

The Tea Party Protesters clearly do not represent what the majority of Americans want. They claim to speak for "the people," but the people have already spoken. They spoke with their ballots in the 2008 presidential election.

Incidentally, the Tea Party Protesters seem to be clueless about the original 1773 Boston Tea Party, which was prompted by an decrease, not increase, on tea taxes.

Note: BeggarsCanBeChoosers.com is now on Twitter. Click here to sign up to receive our hard-hitting progressive news updates via Twitter.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Join Us On Twitter

BeggarsCanBeChoosers.com is now on Twitter. Click here to sign up to receive our hard-hitting progressive news updates via Twitter.

Friday, April 03, 2009

New York Times Company CEO Pockets Millions While Demanding Steep Union Concessions


The New York Times Company, owner of The New York Times and The Boston Globe, has taken the gloves off (and put on a pair of brass knuckles) in hard-line negotiations with its unions. The company is threatening to close The Boston Globe unless the newspaper's unions quickly agree to $20 million in concessions, the Globe reported on Friday, quoting union leaders.

But while The New York Times Company is demanding that its employees make steep sacrifices, its CEO is raking in millions.

The New York Times Company CEO Janet L. Robinson raked in $5,578,451 in compensation for 2008. This includes $1,552,603 in restricted stock awards, as well as a salary of $1 million, according to Forbes.com.

Once again, America's CEOs pull down huge pay packages, even as they demand brutal sacrifices from their workforces across America.

You know, I expect this sort of thing from a hard-line, right-wing company like the Coors Brewing Company. But this is the "liberal" New York Times for Chrissakes. So much for the now-quaint notion that "The business of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Monday, March 02, 2009

Steele Attacks Limbaugh's Show As "Incendiary," "Ugly"

Today's Republican Party is a sinking ship. And now the rats are turning on each other. As Politico reports, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele has attacked the OxyMoron's HateWing radio program. Steele called Limbaugh an "entertainer," whose show is "incendiary" and "ugly."

I'm sure that GOP pressure will eventually force Steele to backtrack on his comments. For now, I'm really loving this. And I have to admit: at least for the moment, I do have some respect for Steele, for daring to speak up against this vicious hate-mongering NeoNazi, whose fascist spewings have long been embraced by so many in the GOP establishment.

Here's the report from Politico:

On the same night he was offering the keynote address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Rush Limbaugh drew criticism from an unlikely source: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

In a little-noticed interview Saturday night, Steele dismissed Limbaugh as an "entertainer" whose show is "incendiary" and "ugly."

Steele’s criticism makes him the highest-ranking Republican to pick a fight with the popular and polarizing conservative talk show host.

But the new RNC chairman’s extraordinary comments won’t sit well with the millions of conservative listeners Limbaugh draws each week, and Steele aides scrambled to limit the damage Monday morning by trying to change the subject.

More here.

Friday, February 13, 2009

And the Kool-Aid Drinker of the Day Award Goes To...

BeggarsCanBeChoosers.com reader Victor gets the Kool-Aid Drinker of the Day Award for his insightful response to the recent article by Manifesto Joe that we posted here, titled "Is A Capitalist Meltdown Upon Us?" which took a look at the current economic crisis.

Victor's award-winning comment reads thusly:

"At the end of WWII, Eisenhower and his troops rolled into the last of the concentration camps and killing fields uncovering unspeakable horrors with emaciated bodies piled into mountains. He had the foresight to order his men to 'Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the track of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.'
In spite of the reams of evidence to the contrary, there are holocaust deniers around the world. Driven by the emotion of their conviction rather than the facts staring them in the face, they make utter fools of themselves.

You people remind me of those idiots who ignore the lessons of the past because of your own selfish agenda. It some kind of insane frenzy to "stick it to the man," you are willing to hand over your freedoms and to deny liberty to your own children. I knew jealousy was a powerful emotion, but I had no idea it could be fanned to such an incinerating level such as we are seeing. It is no longer considered acceptable to praise and reward achievement. Now it is called excess. The winners who our economy is built around are being pulled down by the losers who have never been willing to demonstrate any energy or to produce anything. And when it is over, they will look around and say, "Why do we not have jobs? What have we done?"
But the true lessons of the past tell us the only thing government can do to help an economy is to lower taxes, get out of the way, and let the markets do what they will. It always works. And because lower taxes lead to increased wealth, it always results in greater treasury receipts.
But you seek to cover up the past. You say it never happened. You refuse to admit the lessons of growing government a la FDR, LBJ and now Obama have been catostrophic to the economy.
But the pendulum will swing. In 2010 conservatives will muster and amass on Washington after this orgy is over and the filthy aftermath is shown in the light of day. Lets hope that once they shut down the Maniac on Pennsylvannia Ave. they keep their wits about them this time.
And I want to say one more thing. Fuck you. Fuck you all who gleefully allow this proud nation's might and traditions to be trampled, raped, starved and killed off like those innocents in Germany. You should be ashamed."


Congrats, Victor, you get our Kool-Aid-Drinker of the Day award. But first, here's a few bulletins from Planet Earth:

1. Re: Eisenhower wanting to "Get it all on record."
Actually, that's what we Dems have long wanted to do with Bush's treasonous crimes. But (as was the case during the Reagan/Ollie North years) Bush and Cheney were the masters of secrecy and destroying records.

2. "The winners who our economy is built around are being pulled down by the losers who have never been willing to demonstrate any energy or to produce anything."

Yeah, losers like Warren Buffett, the richest man on earth, who has urged Congress to raise taxes on the rich. Clearly, Buffett doesn't know anything about economics or prosperity and, instead, we should listen to geniuses like GWB, (who was such a big success in the private sector).

3. "In 2010 conservatives will muster and amass on Washington after this orgy is over."

Yeah, the GOP showed us how "conservative" they are during the past 10 years (during which they held all the levers of power in D.C.) They inherited a surplus from Clinton and proceeded to double the nation's deficit with things like their $3 trillion war fiasco in Iraq. Yes, these are the people who we can depend on to restore fiscal sanity to Washington.

Oh and as far as the current Second Great Depression, it's clearly unfair to blame it on the GOP. No, let's blame it all on Obama, who's been in office a few weeks.

Please, Victor, turn off Rush and EDUCATE YOURSELF, moron.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Is A Capitalist Meltdown Upon Us?


I'll only be 53 on my next birthday in late July, yet it already seems like I've lived a tiring amount of history. Only 20 years ago, the world saw the meltdown of Soviet-style communism -- and many observers, largely neo-conservatives, interpreted that as an ideological culmination, "the end of history." There was even an influential book written with that title. (Does anyone remember that author now? And, does he want to remember that book? Yeah, I know -- Francis Fukuyama.)

It appears that reversals of fortune can happen quickly. Now it looks like the allegedly venerable ideology of "free-market" capitalism is on the ropes, and in serious danger of going down. Who would have thought it?

Die-hard Marxists did. I've never been one of them, even as a long-ago radical all of 23 years old. I still know three people who have continued to call themselves Marxists in total defiance of dismissal or ridicule, and they are probably gloating a lot now. The economic train wreck they kept dogmatically predicting finally seems to be in front of us.

But even as America sleepwalked through our Second Gilded Age (circa 1981-2005), I grew skeptical of the Marxist vision. "Historical inevitability" always sounded like a religious tenet, without the pure superstition; and Marxism itself, a sort of quasi-religion for embittered atheists.

We should be as cautious about awarding hard-line socialists a victory here, as much as "we" (in the editorial sense) should have checked for our wallets the minute Reagan started talking about trickle-down and Phil Gramm started talking about deregulation. The past century should have taught us that the answer lies in between.

Starting with the excesses of laissez-faire: America has, for the past 30-ish years, seen the roller-coaster ride that happens with that sort of economic policy. An elite grows very rich, a minority near the bottom slips much further down, and most people tend to stagnate in the middle.

There are cycles of boom and bust. The booms are good for most people, but especially good for a few. The latter group inevitably forms a "Why Should I Have To Pay Taxes?" lobby and gets bonanzas from lawmakers eager to please. And since these are the people of ostentation and material success, their influence is great among fashionable "thinkers" of the day.

Now the big bust is upon us. It's a bit like 1933 all over again -- not as grim or total in devastation, but it's likely to get worse. President Barack Obama has warned us that this is so.

But history, with its entire lesson, should be heeded, and it seems like Obama is one who will do so.

There were very good reasons for the meltdown of the Soviet empire 20 years ago. Contrary to right-wing mythology, Reagan and his military buildup had little to do with it. Post-Soviet Russian economists recall the problems as internal, and any intellectually honest person knew what they were. There's no need for me to recite the litany here -- Americans heard it all for decades.

But let's face it, die-hard socialists out there -- state-run enterprises have a poor track record. The employees seem to lack incentives to produce. Cooperatives tend to degenerate into personal conflict, power struggles and chaos. And as for the concentration of power in the hands of "vanguard revolutionaries" -- the horrors and enormities of that have been abundant just in the past century.

I don't think it's hard to argue for a sense of balance and measure. In America, it seems like the compromising wheeler-dealers -- the FDRs, the Trumans, the LBJs, the Ted Kennedys -- got more done for working Americans than any of our homegrown radicals ever did.

But there is little doubt that there's been a sea change, and it's been back toward socialist thinking. The Nobel Prize committees have not been known for their sympathy toward socialist-leaning economists, yet Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz has more or less come out in favor of the nationalization of U.S. banks. That would be a major step toward socialism of some fashion. Why not? We've just given the bastards $700 billion in taxpayer money to keep them in business. Here's a link to the interview with Stiglitz.

And, it appears that such state power would be the only thing to force the shameless swine who run these enterprises to behave themselves. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., made a speech on the Senate floor about the Wall Street oinkers who had themselves awarded $18.4 billion in bonuses while their enterprises got in on the aforementioned $700 billion, because of reckless and disastrous mismanagement. Here's another link to reports on this issue, and to a video of McCaskill's speech. Be patient, the video seems very rough.

So, what should be the ultimate American destination, in an era of "capitalist" meltdown? The Swedes, with a hybrid socialist-capitalist system, don't seem to do badly, with avowed Socialists predominantly in power since 1929. Their booms are smaller, but so are their busts. Their people don't live in fear of homelessness or inability to afford basic health care. Right-wing humorist P.J. O'Rourke, when asked about the Swedes' seeming happiness with their stable system, said that they are all insane -- but that their insanity is distributed equally among the people.

It's a funny line. But there's nothing funny about facing a mortgage foreclosure, or about the welfare rolls shrinking even as joblessness is rapidly expanding. With a growing U.S. underclass, it may be time to take a second look at the socialist mind-set -- despite the old Marxist baggage. Nobody requires us to go to extremes.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

How Bush Unwittingly Helped Bin Laden's Plan To Wreck U.S. Economy


"We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy."
---Osama bin Laden, 2004 videotape statement.

"The past eight years of imperial overstretch, hubris and domestic and international abuse of power on the part of the Bush administration has left the U.S. materially weakened financially, economically, politically and morally. Even the most hard-nosed, Guantanamo Bay-indifferent potential foreign investor in the U.S. must recognize that its financial system has collapsed."

---Willem Buiter, London School of Economics, 2009.

Contrary to what George W. Bush would have us believe, Osama bin Laden does not hate America for its freedoms. Nor has bin Laden ever harbored ambitions of destroying America in a military confrontation.

No, actually, what bin Laden has long sought is to diminish America's standing in the world by wrecking our economy. Bin Laden believes this is possible because he saw first-hand how the Soviet Union met its demise.

As bin Laden said in a 2004 statement, "We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat."

It's clear that the main goal of the 9/11 attacks was to provoke the U.S. into a costly war in Afghanistan that would drain our treasury and ultimately weaken the main lever of America's global power and influence: the U.S. dollar.

Unfortunately for America, after 9/11, Bush took bin Laden's bait. As bin Laden put it himself in 2004, Al-Qaeda found it "easy for us to provoke and bait this administration."

In fact, bin Laden succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in provoking America into not one, but two disastrous and ruinously expensive wars that have done untold damage to America's global standing, as well as our economic power.

Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, America's economy is in the worst shape it has been since the Great Depression. But the damage is actually far worse than that. As bad as things were in the 1930s, few people then seriously expected the dollar to collapse or for America to become a bankrupt nation. Now, such forecasts are increasingly common.

It's becoming frightening clear that the U.S. dollar is now teetering on the edge of a cliff. For all of the economic misery of 2008, the dollar managed to avoid a steep collapse in value. But it's increasingly likely that in 2009, the East Asian nations that hold trillions of dollars in U.S. debt will finally start off-loading their assets. And when they do, the dollar will crumble in value.

The destruction of the dollar's value will mean an end to America's reign as the world's sole superpower. Once upon a time, such a scenario was embraced only by an alarmist fringe of commentators who weren't taken seriously. But these days, more and more mainstream respectable observers now believe this will be America's fate in the near future. Even Warren Buffet, the wealthiest man on earth, has said the U.S. is at risk of becoming a "sharecropper’s society."

How Bush Took Bin Laden's Bait

During the Soviets' disastrous war in Afghanistan, bin Laden saw first-hand the devastating effects that imperial overstretch can have on a nation's economy. Clearly, that costly fiasco played a role in the ultimate demise of the Soviet Union.

The 9/11 attacks were meant to provoke the U.S. into a similarly costly and debilitating war. And in this, it succeeded beyond bin Laden's wildest dreams, as Bush proceeded to launch not one, but two disastrous wars. (That one of these wars was against the secular state of Iraq, headed by bin Laden's old nemesis, Saddam Hussein, was the icing on the cake).

The 9/11 attacks presented a series of challenges to George W. Bush. The challenges were clear: kill or capture bin Laden and destroy Al-Qaeda.

Eight years later, it's difficult to comprehend just how much Bush has utterly failed to meet this challenge. Bin Laden remains a free man. Al-Qaeda remains intact and is still as lethal as ever. And the Taliban are back and growing in strength.

On the other hand, America is a profoundly different nation than the one that existed before 9/11. We're now a country that is widely despised, feared and hated around the world. We're a vastly weaker nation, economically, than we were before 9/11. America's debts have mushroomed to fantastic levels that threaten the nation's economic security.

About the only thing future historians will remember about Bush's presidency is that he presided over the beginning of the end of the American empire. And it's clear that his bungled response to 9/11 was a key factor in America's ultimate demise as a superpower.

It's this last point that is especially noteworthy. Bin Laden realized early on that his ragtag group of Al-Qaeda fighters could never defeat the U.S. militarily. And horrific as they were, the 9/11 attacks by themselves were a mere pinprick on the overall American economy.

For bin Laden to succeed, he needed the unwitting cooperation of George W. Bush. And that's exactly what bin Laden got, with Bush's disastrous, bungling response to the 9/11 attacks.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bush's Last 10 Days, Part 1: Recipe For Fiscal Disaster


As the countdown to Bush as ex-"president" begins, it might be good to put into context why some Americans, even some U.S. historians, regard Il Doofus as the worst "president" of modern times.

The federal deficit for the current fiscal year is being projected at $1.2 trillion. That's more than the entire national debt was at the time Jimmy Carter left office in January 1981.

The Congressional Budget Office report lays much of the blame for this spike on lower tax revenues due to the recession, and on $400 billion spent to bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and various financial institutions amid the mortgage crisis. Bush policies did a great deal to contribute to all of the above, but that's another post. For now, let's stick to the budget.

The deficit for fiscal 2007-08 was about $455 billion, consistent in real dollars with what was being run annually during the Reagan and Bush I presidencies. It's not too shocking, until you consider that Bush II inherited what had been the largest surplus the federal government has ever run, some $230 billion in fiscal 1999-2000, from departing President Bill Clinton's administration.

The surplus decreased to $158 billion during fiscal 2000-01, which Bush presided over some of. Bush apologists have tried to make an end run out of this, saying that declining revenues due to a briefly sour economy were responsible. They've also pointed out that the Clinton surpluses occurred even though federal tax cuts were passed in 1997, an apparent argument for supply-side policies.

That's fair enough, up to a point. But by 2001-02, the federal government was in the red again, and that continued year after year until the aforementioned $455 billion deficit was reached. How did this happen?

Bush spent the first months of his presidency pushing tax bonanzas, mainly for his rich friends, through the Congress, along with scraps from the rich man's table for the rest of us, amounting to $300 per person. His economic plan basically rolled back the relatively modest Clinton tax increases on the wealthy, passed by the narrowest of margins in 1993.

Students of fiscal policy know that it's anything but simple, but a few policy effects during this administration seem clear. It didn't take long to turn surpluses into deficits, and arguments that this isn't related to tax policy are, at the very least, unconvincing.

Then, after 9-11, Bush the "decider" decided to take the country to war(s). The first one, in Afghanistan, seemed and still seems like a defensible action, despite the toll on the Afghan people. The second, the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, was in hindsight clearly elective. Aside from being an act of aggression, it turned out to be one of the most expensive mistakes a U.S. administration has ever made.

According to a July 2008 update, military operations alone in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $872.6 billion. Some $661.1 billion of that was for ops in Iraq. Source: Congressional Research Service data.

Even conservatives need to put this into perspective. Would Winston Churchill have held fast to big tax cuts for the wealthy during an expensive war, and even have audaciously pushed for more such cuts?

George W. Bush did. And in so doing, the U.S. was set up, and knocked down like bowling pins, for the $1.2 trillion annual deficit we now face. Now tell me that, as a "president," this buffoon didn't suck great big green ones, with warts on them. His decisions were consistently the worst that could have been made, and yet he stubbornly continues to defend them. I don't think future generations will find his defense convincing.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.