That Seal Was Real

November 7, 2013 10:34 am
minnesotabetsyville:

How perfect of a sentiment is this…

minnesotabetsyville:

How perfect of a sentiment is this…

(Source: questionall)

October 9, 2013 9:14 am
cartoonpolitics:

references the Pennsylvania Governor, Republican Tom Corbett, comparing gay marriage to sibling incest .. (story here)

cartoonpolitics:

references the Pennsylvania Governor, Republican Tom Corbett, comparing gay marriage to sibling incest .. (story here)

(via stoneagechronicles)

September 2, 2013 7:12 pm

Before the Battles Resume in Washington: A Reminder about What’s Really at Stake

robertreich:

Congress will reconvene shortly. That means more battles over taxes and spending, regulations and safety nets, and how to get the economy out of first gear. Which means more gridlock and continual showdowns over budget resolutions and the debt ceiling.

But before the hostilities start again and we all get lost in puerile politics and petty tactics, it’s useful to consider what’s really at stake for our economy and democracy.

For much of the past century, the basic bargain at the heart of America was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling. Government’s role was to encourage and enforce this bargain. We thereby created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages. And a democracy that worked reasonably well.

But the bargain has been broken. And until it’s remade, the economy can’t mend and our democracy won’t be responsive to the majority.

First, a bit of history. Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day – three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action “an economic crime.”

But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford’s auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T’s. In two years Ford’s profits more than doubled.

Yet in the years leading up to the Great Crash of 1929, employers forgot Henry Ford’s example. The wages of most American workers stagnated even as the economy surged. Gains went mainly into corporate profits and into the pockets of the very rich. American families maintained their standard of living by going deeper into debt, and the rich gambled with their gigantic winnings. In 1929 the debt bubble popped.

Sound familiar? It should. The same thing happened in the years leading up to the crash of 2008. The lesson should be obvious. When the economy becomes too lopsided – disproportionately benefiting corporate owners and top executives rather than average workers – it tips over.

It’s still lopsided. We’re emerging from the depths of the worst downturn since the Great Depression but nothing fundamentally has changed. Corporate profits are up largely because payrolls are down. Even Ford Motor Company is now paying its new hires half what it paid new employees a few years ago.

Employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary data sixty years ago; and corporate profits, the largest share.

This is a losing game for corporations over the long term. Without enough American consumers, their profitable days are numbered. Europeans are in no mood to buy. India and China are slowing dramatically. Developing nations are in trouble.

Republicans claim rich people and big corporations are job creators, so their taxes must not be raised. This is baloney. In order to create jobs, businesses need customers. But the rich spend only a small fraction of what they earn. They park most of it wherever around the world they can get the highest return. 



The real job creators are the vast middle class — whose spending drives the economy and creates jobs. But as the middle class’s share of total income continues to drop, it can’t spend as much as before. Nor can most Americans borrow as they did before the crash of 2008 — borrowing that temporarily masked their declining purchasing power.

As a result, businesses are still reluctant to hire and pay decent wages. Which is why the recovery continues to be so anemic. 



As wealth and income rise to the top, moreover, so does political power. Corporations and the rich are able to entrench themselves by keeping low tax rates and special tax breaks (such as the “carried interest” loophole that still allows private equity and hedge fund managers to treat their incomes as capital gains), and ensuring a steady flow of corporate welfare to their businesses (special breaks for oil and gas, big agriculture, big insurance, Big Pharma, and, of course, Wall Street). 



All of this continues to squeeze public budgets, corrupt government, and undermine our democracy. The issue is not and has never been the size of our government; it’s who the government is for. Government has become less responsive to the needs of most citizens and more responsive to the demands of the monied interests.



The Republican response is to further reduce taxes on the rich, defund programs for the poor, fight unions, allow the median wage to continue to drop, and oppose any limits on campaign contributions or spending. 

It does not take a great deal of brainpower to understand this strategy will lead to an even more lopsided economy, more entrenched wealth, and a more corrupt democracy. 



So as Congress reconvenes and the battles resume, be clear about what’s at stake. The only way back to a buoyant economy is through a productive system whose gains are more widely shared. The only way back to a responsive democracy is through a political system whose monied interests are more effectively constrained.

We must remake the basic bargain at the heart of America.

August 13, 2013 8:34 pm
stoneagechronicles:

votethemout2014:

Five Reasons to Vote Out Arkansas Rep Tom Cotton   
1. He gives hypocrisy a new name.
He is the sole sponsor of the bill H.R. 2239: Stop Court-Packing Act. The purpose of this bill is to stop President Obama from “Packing” the  U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The hypocrisy here is that the court in question is literally “Packed” with Republicans and this bill’s actual purpose is to keep the court “Packed.”
2. He isn’t a fan of protecting assault victims.
Voted against Violence Against Women Act.
3. He stands against his own constituents.
On Farm Bill, Tom Cotton Chooses Washington Special Interests Over Arkansas – Votes With Club For Growth & Against Fellow Arkansas Republicans
4. He believes in “blood guilt.”
He wanted to automatically punish anyone who violated US Sanctions with Iran with no judge, jury, trial or court. As bad as that is, he didn’t stop there. He also believes that we should equally punish the spouse, children, parents, cousins, ect of said supposed “Criminal.”
5. He isn’t homophobic but…
He fully supports DOMA and believes marriage should be between a man and a woman and this belief should be governmentally enforced.


The still currently single man who once tried to mansplain divorce to Amerian women everywhere has a rather … unhinged history besides.

stoneagechronicles:

votethemout2014:

Five Reasons to Vote Out Arkansas Rep Tom Cotton   

1. He gives hypocrisy a new name.

2. He isn’t a fan of protecting assault victims.

3. He stands against his own constituents.

4. He believes in “blood guilt.”

5. He isn’t homophobic but…

The still currently single man who once tried to mansplain divorce to Amerian women everywhere has a rather … unhinged history besides.

July 12, 2013 1:24 am
Elizabeth Warren is introducing the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act

Business Insider is dubbing this “a bill that would be Wall Street’s worst nightmare.”

Which, to be honest, it kind of is. The Banking Act of 1933, generally referred to as the Glass-Steagall Act, is the depression era law that prevented the action of Wall Street bankers from wrecking the economy and causing another Great Depression. That is, until 1999 when, due to the actions of Wall Street heavyweights like former Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill, it was repealed. After the sub-prime mortgage crisis nearly caused another Great Depression, Sandy Weill admitted on national television that he was wrong and Glass-Steagall should never have been repealed.

Read the full statement from Warren’s office below:

Washington, DC - Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Angus King (I-ME) today will introduce the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, a modern version of the Banking Act of 1933 (Glass-Steagall) that reduces risk for the American taxpayer in the financial system and decreases the likelihood of future financial crises.

The legislation introduced today would separate traditional banks that have savings and checking accounts and are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from riskier financial institutions that offer services such as investment banking, insurance, swaps dealing, and hedge fund and private equity activities. This bill would clarify regulatory interpretations of banking law provisions that undermined the protections under the original Glass-Steagall and would make “Too Big to Fail” institutions smaller and safer, minimizing the likelihood of a government bailout.

"Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, shattering the wall dividing commercial banks and investment banks, a culture of dangerous greed and excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world," said Senator John McCain. "Big Wall Street institutions should be free to engage in transactions with significant risk, but not with federally insured deposits. If enacted, the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act would not end Too-Big-to-Fail.  But, it would rebuild the wall between commercial and investment banking that was in place for over 60 years, restore confidence in the system, and reduce risk for the American taxpayer."

"Despite the progress we’ve made since 2008, the biggest banks continue to threaten the economy," said Senator Elizabeth Warren.  "The four biggest banks are now 30% larger than they were just five years ago, and they have continued to engage in dangerous, high-risk practices that could once again put our economy at risk.  The 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act will reestablish a wall between commercial and investment banking, make our financial system more stable and secure, and protect American families."

"Too many Main Streets across America have paid the price for risky gambling on Wall Street," Senator Maria Cantwell said. "This bill would restore clear bright lines that separate risky activities from the traditional banking system. It’s time to restore faith in our financial institutions by rebuilding the firewall that protected our economy for decades in the wake of the Great Depression. Restoring Glass-Steagall would focus our financial system where it belongs: getting capital into the hands of job creators and businesses on Main Streets across America."

"As Maine families continue to feel the sting of the 2008 economic downturn, America’s largest financial institutions continue to engage in risky banking and investment activities that threaten the health of our financial sector and our economy as a whole. While recent efforts at financial sector regulatory reform attempt to address the ‘too big to fail’ phenomenon, Congress must take additional steps to see that American taxpayers aren’t again faced with having to bail out big Wall Street institutions while Main Street suffers," Senator Angus King said. "While the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act is not the silver bullet to end ‘too big to fail,’ the legislation’s re-establishment of clear separations between retail and investment banking, as well as its restrictions on banking activities, will limit government guarantees to insured depository institutions and provide strong protections against the spillover effects should a financial institution fail."

The original Glass-Steagall legislation was introduced in response to the financial crash of 1929 and separated depository banks from investment banks. The idea was to divide the risky activities of investment banks from the core depository functions that consumers rely upon every day.  Starting in the 1980s, regulators at the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reinterpreted longstanding legal terms in ways that slowly broke down the wall between investment and depository banking and weakened Glass-Steagall. In 1999, after 12 attempts at repeal, Congress passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act to repeal the core provisions of Glass-Steagall.

July 5, 2013 4:30 am

The GOP’s Endless War on Obamacare, and the White House Delay

robertreich:

The official reason given by the Administration for delaying, by one year, the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers with more than 50 full-time workers provide insurance coverage or face fines, is that employers need more time to implement it. The unofficial reason has more to do with the Republicans’ incessant efforts to bulldoze the law.

Soon after the GOP lost its fight against Obamacare in Congress, it began warring against the new legislation in the courts, rounding up and backstopping litigants all the way up to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, House Republicans have refused to appropriate enough funds to implement the Act, and have held a continuing series of votes to repeal it. Republican-led states have also done what they can to undermine Obamacare, refusing to set up their own health exchanges, and turning down federal money to expand Medicaid.

The GOP’s gleeful reaction to the announced delay confirms Republicans will make repeal a campaign issue in the 2014 midterm elections, which probably contributed to the White House decision to postpone the employer mandate until after the midterms. “The fact remains that Obamacare needs to be repealed,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, on hearing news of the delay.

Technically, postponement won’t affect other major provisions of the law — although it may be difficult to subsidize workers who don’t get employer-based insurance if employers don’t report on the coverage they provide. But it’s a bad omen.

The longer the Affordable Care Act is delayed, the more time Republicans have to demonize it before average Americans receive its benefits and understand its importance. The GOP raged against Social Security in 1935 and made war on Medicare in 1965. But in each case Americans soon realized how critical they were to their economic security, and refused to listen. 

July 3, 2013 1:30 am

The Republicans of the Supreme Court

robertreich:

In order to fully understand what the five Republican appointees on the Supreme Court have been up to when they make decisions that affect our democracy, as they did last week on voting rights, you need to understand what the Republican Party has been up to. 

 

The modern GOP is based on an unlikely coalition of wealthy business executives, small business owners, and struggling whites. Its durability depends on the latter two categories believing that the economic stresses they’ve experienced for decades have a lot to do with the government taking their money and giving it to the poor, who are disproportionately black and Latino.

 

The real reason small business owners and struggling whites haven’t done better is the same most of the rest of America hasn’t done better: Although the output of Americans has continued to rise, almost all the gains have gone to the very top. 

 

Government is implicated, but not in the way wealthy Republicans want the other members of their coalition to believe. Laws that the GOP itself championed (too often with the complicity of some Democrats) have trammeled unions, invited outsourcing abroad, slashed taxes on the rich, encouraged takeovers, allowed monopolization, reduced the real median wage, and deregulated Wall Street.

 

Four decades ago, the typical household’s income rose in tandem with output. But since the late 1970s, as these laws took hold, most Americans’ incomes have flattened. Had the real median household income continued to keep pace with economic growth it would now be almost $92,000 instead of $50,000. 

 

Obviously, wealthy Republicans would rather other members of their coalition not know any of this — including, especially, their role in making it happen. Their nightmare is small-business owners and struggling whites joining with the poor and the rest of the middle class to wrest economic power away. So they’ve created a convenient scapegoat in America’s minority underclass, along with a government that supposedly taxes hardworking whites to support them.  

 

This is where the five Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have played, and continue to play, such an important role. 

 

First, wealthy Republicans have to be able to spend as much money as possible to bribe lawmakers to do their bidding, tell their version of history, and promulgate several big lies (the poor are “takers not makers,” government keeps them “dependent,” the wealthy are “job-creators” so cutting their taxes creates more jobs, unions are bad, regulations reduce economic growth, and so on). 

 

The five Republicans on the Supreme Court have obliged by eviscerating campaign finance laws. Their 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, along with the broad interpretations given it by several appellate judges (also Republican appointees), has opened the money floodgates.  

 

Second, wealthy Republicans want to quietly reduce the impact of any laws that might limit their profits, even though they may help struggling whites as consumers or employees. The easiest way to execute this delicate maneuver is to make it harder to sue under such laws.  

 

Here, too, the five Republicans on the Court have been eager to oblige by tightening requirements for class actions and limiting standing to sue. In their recent Comcast Corp. v. Behrend decision, for example, they threw out $875 million in damages that a group of Philadelphia-area subscribers had sought from the cable giant, reasoning that the subscriber plaintiffs hadn’t proven they constituted a “class” for the purpose of a class action.

 

Third and finally, wealthy Republicans want to minimize the votes of poor and minority citizens – and further propagate the myth that these people are responsible for the economic problems of struggling whites – through state redistricting and gerrymandering, voter-identification requirements at polling stations, and the use of almost any pretext to purge minority voters from voting lists. 

 

The five Republicans on the Court obliged last week by striking down a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that sets the formula under which states with a long history of discrimination must ask the federal government or a judge for approval before changing their voting procedures. 

 

The significance of Shelby County, Alabama vs. Holder was made plain Thursday when the Court effectively nullified two cases involving Texas voter laws by sending them back to lower courts to reconsider in light of Shelby. One was a voter identification requirement, enacted in 2011, that a federal judge had rejected on grounds that it imposed a disproportionate burden on lower-income people, many of whom are minorities. The other was a redistricting plan, also rejected by a federal court, in part because it would block minorities from gaining a majority vote in almost all districts. 

 

But now both are effectively reinstated, as are the efforts of several other states to suppress votes. 

 

Supreme Court justices are appointed for life in order to ensure their independence from politics. But when it comes to the core political strategy of the Republican Party, the five Republican appointees are, in effect, an extension of the GOP. 

June 30, 2013 9:36 am June 29, 2013 12:57 am
DPS to Offer Free Voter ID Cards, by Julián Aguilar

soychorizo:

(via stoneagechronicles)

June 26, 2013 6:06 pm
DPS to Offer Free Voter ID Cards, by Julián Aguilar

soychorizo:

(via stoneagechronicles)

June 15, 2013 3:08 am

Our government works on a system of checks and balances in which each branch of government is supposed to hold the other two branches accountable for their actions and decisions.

Currently, the two branches who can act of their own accord, the legislative and executive branches, are pursuing separate but not mutually exclusive agendas. As such, both branches are ignoring the other and nothing is being done to keep our government from being any more than a farce.

The judicial branch can’t really act on it own, someone has to bring a case before them which, considering the appeals process required, can take years.

You have no freedom, your elected officials don’t care about your interests. The American Empire is in a downward spiral and when it crashes it is going to crash incredibly hard.

That being said, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren, and anyone else who refuses to play nice with the private interests choking Congress is great, but they are in a serious minority.

June 13, 2013 2:24 pm
ragingbitchfest:

climateadaptation:

CNN reports Alabama is abusing BP oil spill money. Above, a state rep defends plans to spend beach restoration funds on building a new convention center and tourist attractions on the beach, above. 
Alabama is spending just 8.5% on restoring beaches and marine ecosystems. Louisiana, for comparison, is spending 100% of the BP penalties on wetland, wildlife, marshes, and other coastal restoration. Florida is spending 90% on restoration.
Solid reporting @CNN’s OutFront. 

There’s a reason everyone hates you, Alabama.

ragingbitchfest:

climateadaptation:

CNN reports Alabama is abusing BP oil spill money. Above, a state rep defends plans to spend beach restoration funds on building a new convention center and tourist attractions on the beach, above. 

Alabama is spending just 8.5% on restoring beaches and marine ecosystems. Louisiana, for comparison, is spending 100% of the BP penalties on wetland, wildlife, marshes, and other coastal restoration. Florida is spending 90% on restoration.

Solid reporting @CNN’s OutFront

There’s a reason everyone hates you, Alabama.

(via stoneagechronicles)

June 11, 2013 8:48 pm
The Quiet Closing of Washington

robertreich:

Conservative Republicans in our nation’s capital have managed to accomplish something they only dreamed of when Tea Partiers streamed into Congress at the start of 2011: They’ve basically shut Congress down. Their refusal to compromise is working just as they hoped: No jobs agenda. No budget. No grand bargain on the deficit. No background checks on guns. Nothing on climate change. No tax reform. No hike in the minimum wage. Nothing so far on immigration reform.

It’s as if an entire branch of the federal  government — the branch that’s supposed to deal directly with the nation’s problems, not just execute the law or interpret the law but make the law — has gone out of business, leaving behind only a so-called “sequester” that’s cutting deeper and deeper into education, infrastructure, programs for the nation’s poor, and national defense.

The window of opportunity for the President to get anything done is closing rapidly. Even in less partisan times, new initiatives rarely occur after the first year of a second term, when a president inexorably slides toward lame duck status.

But the nation’s work doesn’t stop even if Washington does. By default, more and more of it is shifting to the states, which are far less gridlocked than Washington. Last November’s elections resulted in one-party control of both the legislatures and governor’s offices in all but 13 states — the most single-party dominance in decades.

This means many blue states are moving further left, while red states are heading rightward. In effect, America is splitting apart without going through all the trouble of a civil war.

Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, for example, now controls both legislative chambers and the governor’s office for the first time in more than two decades. The legislative session that ended a few weeks ago resulted in a hike in the top income tax rate to 9.85%, an increased cigarette tax, and the elimination of several corporate tax loopholes. The added revenues will be used to expand early-childhood education, freeze tuitions at state universities, fund jobs and economic development, and reduce the state budget deficit. Along the way, Minnesota also legalized same-sex marriage and expanded the power of trade unions to organize.

California and Maryland passed similar tax hikes on top earners last year. The governor of Colorado has just signed legislation boosting taxes by $925 million for early-childhood education and K-12 (the tax hike will go into effect only if residents agree, in a vote is likely in November).

On the other hand, the biggest controversy in Kansas is between Governor Sam Brownback, who wants to shift taxes away from the wealthy and onto the middle class and poor by repealing the state’s income tax and substituting an increase in the sales tax, and Kansas legislators who want to cut the sales tax as well, thereby reducing the state’s already paltry spending for basic services. Kansas recently cut its budget for higher education by almost 5 percent.


Other rightward-moving states are heading in the same direction. North Carolina millionaires are on the verge of saving $12,500 a year, on average, from a pending income-tax cut even as sales taxes are raised on the electricity and services that lower-income depend residents depend on. Missouri’s transportation budget is half what it was five years ago, but lawmakers refuse to raise taxes to pay for improvements.


The states are splitting as dramatically on social issues. Gay marriages are now recognized in twelve states and the District of Columbia. Colorado and Washington state permit the sale of marijuana, even for non-medical uses. California is expanding a pilot program to allow nurse practitioners to perform abortions.


Meanwhile, other states are enacting laws restricting access to abortions so tightly as to arguably violate the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. In Alabama, the mandated waiting period for an abortion is longer than it is for buying a gun.


Speaking of which, gun laws are moving in opposite directions as well. Connecticut, California, and New York are making it harder to buy guns. Yet if you want to use a gun to kill someone who’s, say, spray-painting a highway underpass at night, you might want to go to Texas, where it’s legal to shoot someone who’s committing a “public nuisance” under the cover of dark. Or you might want to live in Kansas, which recently enacted a law allowing anyone to carry a concealed firearm onto a college campus.


The states are diverging sharply on almost every issue you can imagine. If you’re an undocumented young person, you’re eligible for in-state tuition at public universities in fourteen states (including Texas). But you might want to avoid driving in Arizona, where state police are allowed to investigate the immigration status of anyone they suspect is here illegally.
And if you’re poor and lack health insurance you might want to avoid a state like Wisconsin that’s refusing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, even though the federal government will be picking up almost the entire tab.


Federalism is as old as the Republic, but not since the real Civil War have we witnessed such a clear divide between the states on central issues affecting Americans.


Some might say this is a good thing. It allows more of us to live under governments and laws we approve of. And it permits experimentation: Better to learn that a policy doesn’t work at the state level, where it’s affected only a fraction of the population, than after it’s harmed the entire nation. As the jurist Louis Brandies once said, our states are “laboratories of democracy.”


But the trend raises three troubling issues.


First, it leads to a race to bottom. Over time, middle-class citizens of states with more generous safety nets and higher taxes on the wealthy will become disproportionately burdened as the wealthy move out and the poor move in, forcing such states to reverse course. If the idea of “one nation” means anything, it stands for us widely sharing the burdens and responsibilities of citizenship.


Second, it doesn’t take account of spillovers — positive as well as negative. Semi-automatic pistols purchased without background checks in one state can easily find their way easily to another state where gun purchases are restricted. By the same token, a young person who receives an excellent public education courtesy of the citizens of one states is likely to move to another state where job opportunity are better. We are interdependent. No single state can easily contain or limit the benefits or problems it creates for other states.


Finally, it can reduce the power of minorities. For more than a century “states rights” has been a euphemism for the efforts of some whites to repress or deny the votes of black Americans. Now that minorities are gaining substantial political strength nationally, devolution of government to the states could play into the hands of modern-day white supremacists. 


A great nation requires a great, or at least functional, national government. The Tea Partiers and other government-haters who have caused Washington to all but close because they refuse to compromise are threatening all that we aspire to be together.






May 25, 2013 8:00 am
Warren's First Bill Already Seeing Strong Wave Of Support

jonnyjabberwockey:

YES YES ALL OF MY YES PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE PASS THIS BILL

May 12, 2013 1:26 pm
"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”"

Isaac Asimov (via jonnyjabberwockey)

(via jonnyjabberwockey)