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Number of posts: 8,736
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November 6, 2014
30 Years of Conservative Nonsense, An Explainer
If those calls to close the borders over Ebola are giving you déjà vu, you might not be wrong.
By Kurt Eichenwald
Are conservatives ever right?
The question isn’t meant to suggest that liberals are never wrong. But reviewing the last few decades of conservative policy initiatives—or their objections over that timespan to policies they hate—shows a consistent pattern of failure: predictions never pan out, and intended results turn to catastrophic flops.
Given the G.O.P.’s midterm victories this week, the question is of particular import. Come January, conservatives will have control of both houses of Congress, and hold a considerable legislative advantage in the last two years of the Obama presidency. Yet not a week ago, conservative politicians and commentators were screaming out batty ideas as they demanded that President Obama close the borders over Ebola, ignoring the advice of infectious disease specialists who know that shutting borders against a disease leads people to make travel by means that aren’t easily tracked, escalates danger, and harms the ability to stop the infection at its source. Conservative know-nothings dismiss the professionals as know-nothings themselves, despite their training and expertise.
And that could be the problem. Too often, it seems, conservatives have scorned experts as incompetent, biased, or otherwise worth ignoring because they came up with answers that didn’t fit their politically desired answer. Often, they proclaim experts have a liberal bias. Of course, plenty of Democrats have voted for conservative ideas, but that is beside the point. The question is whether policies proposed by conservatives failed, not whether they were passed into law. And this question is all the more important now, with the Republicans having re-captured control of the Senate. Will they govern based on a knowledge of history and the analysis of experts? Or will they resort to faith-based, sure-we’re-right policies—like trying to impose a border ban to stop Ebola—that may lead the ignorant to cheer but will leave turn the experts’ hair white with fear.
Before venturing through the rogues’ gallery of past disasters, an exception that proves the rule: the 1983 decision by the Reagan Administration to deploy missiles in Europe to counter Russian SS-20s was a success, ultimately contributing to the Soviet collapse. But otherwise, there is not a lot in the last three decades to give conservatives bragging rights, and with almost every fiasco, they blame someone else. So let’s look at the record of the last 30-some years:
Tax cuts pay for themselves.
The fantasy: In 1981, as he championed massive tax cuts, President Ronald Reagan promised there would be no growth in the federal budget deficit because the economic boom that would follow would lead to higher revenues.
Posted by FourScore | Thu Nov 6, 2014, 06:46 PM (28 replies)
Found on facebook. Can't find the name of the artist.
h/t Octafish - Here's the artist's link: http://jonikcartoons.blogspot.com/ Thanks, Octafish!
Posted by FourScore | Thu Nov 6, 2014, 08:28 AM (7 replies)
Exit polls used to be a very precise method to ensure that elections weren't stolen. Not anymore. That stopped when electronic voting was implemented.
This race was stolen.
Posted by FourScore | Tue Nov 4, 2014, 11:41 PM (30 replies)
October 25, 2014
Poll: Majority of Americans Favor Quarantining Wolf Blitzer
By Andy Borowitz
Credit photograph by Chris Pizzello/invision/AP
WASHINGTON, D.C. (The Borowitz Report) — Amid concerns that the spreading fear of Ebola has become a greater threat than the virus itself, a new poll shows that a majority of Americans favor a quarantine of the CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
While poll respondents supported quarantining more than a dozen cable-news personalities, including the entire cast of “Fox & Friends,” a full seventy-two per cent gave the nod to a quarantine of Blitzer.
At the Centers for Disease Control, a spokesman said that a Blitzer quarantine was “very much on the table,” and that the C.D.C. had come up with a workable plan.
“Essentially, we would do a lockdown of ‘The Situation Room’ and provide Wolf with food and water until the crisis passes,” he said.
Posted by FourScore | Sun Oct 26, 2014, 04:19 PM (1 replies)
Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM PDT
Ending The Walmart Scam
by Raul Grijalva
Right now, income inequality is the highest it’s been in our society since 1928. A lucky few in America make billions, while millions of others struggle just to get by. Nowhere is this gap more apparent than in the 4,100 plus Walmart stores across the country. Rob Walton and his family have amassed an empire of riches, and they built it on the backs of the working poor. The consequences of such skewed earning potential – where the family on top is worth $150 billion while their employees earn less than $25,000 per year – are significant and unsustainable.
As the nation’s largest employer, with $15 billion in profits annually, Walmart can afford to pay their employees a livable wage. Instead, they choose to manipulate schedules and hours to pay the majority of their workers abysmal wages. Sandra Sok, who works in Phoenix Walmart Store #5331 is a perfect example. After eight years of service to the company, she still struggles for enough work and income to make ends meet. She pleads with management every week for additional shifts because the 30 hours she is usually scheduled for simply aren’t enough. Sandra’s done her part to help Walmart succeed – she deserves more than poverty pay in return.
Many workers like Sandra are forced to rely on food stamps, health care assistance and other taxpayer-funded programs to get by. So while the Walton family alone has as much wealth as 43% of American families combined, the American people still have to pick up the tab for the Walton’s appalling business practices. And it’s not cheap: Walmart is estimated to cost the taxpayers $6.2 billion annually through public assistance costs, with expenses ranging between $3,015 and $5,815 per worker. All the while, Walmart and the Waltons are taking $8 billion a year in tax breaks that subsidize their low-wage business – and add to their profits. It is estimated that the family has avoided paying $3 billion in taxes by using special trusts to dodge estate taxes.
It’s time to end this charade and shut down the Walmart scam. That starts by recognizing that every worker deserves the decency of full-time work. Manipulating schedules to avoid paying employees what they’re due is shameful, demoralizing and wrong. The Schedules That Work Act, which has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, will give workers the right to a stable work schedule without retaliation. We also need to turn the minimum wage into a livable wage. Cities like Seattle, Los Angeles and Baltimore have led the charge in this effort, raising their minimum wage levels as high as $15 per hour. But they are the exception, and we need to make it the norm.
The American Dream is premised on the notion that anyone who works hard here can earn a decent living. Corporations like Walmart have turned that dream into a living nightmare for the men and women they employ, and it’s up to the American people to put a stop to it. As Walmart employees in Phoenix and other major cities across the country protest their conditions this week, we must recommit to ensuring the American Dream remains within reach for everyone willing to work for it.
Posted by FourScore | Wed Oct 15, 2014, 10:56 PM (1 replies)
Seriously? In Georgia?? You boys don't know the difference between okra and Mary Jane? Why, didn't your Mamas ever fry that slimy stuff for you all? My lord!
Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 10:15 AM PDT
Georgia deputies raid man's home after mistaking okra plants for marijuana
by Jen Hayden
Helicopter hovering over Dwayne Perry's backyard attribution: screenshot from video
Once again, from the "not The Onion" files, Georgia deputies went full SWAT to raid Dwayne Perry's home because they thought he was growing marijuana in his backyard. But, no. It was okra:
"I was scared actually, at first, because I didn't know what was happening,” said homeowner Dwayne Perry.
All he noticed was that there was a chopper sitting unusually low over his house, then Bartow County deputies and a K-9 unit appeared at his doorstep in minutes.
"They were strapped to the gills,” Perry said.
Georgia State Patrol says they still haven't identified the mysterious (and enormously popular Southern vegetable):
"We've not been able to identify it as of yet. But it did have quite a number of characteristics that were similar to a cannabis plant,” said Georgia State Patrol Capt. Kermit Stokes.
Dwayne Perry says he's still embarrassed and feels his reputation has been damaged, not to mention being terrified at how quickly something could have gone wrong.
Even if this were one small patch of homegrown marijuana, isn't this type of police response just a wee bit overkill? Especially when 75% of Americans don't even think it should be a jailable offense and 58% think it should be legal outright?
See an interview with Dwayne Perry below the fold.
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 6, 2014, 02:49 PM (19 replies)
Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 06:50 AM PDT
Cartoon: Do your part
by Tom Tomorrow
Posted by FourScore | Mon Oct 6, 2014, 10:05 AM (10 replies)
Thu Oct 02, 2014 at 02:11 PM PDT
Attention, American Students: Tired of Prohibitive Debt? Germany Has Now Abolished ALL Tuition Fees
Why does America hate the future? Issue by issue, from our unsustainable, for-profit healthcare system to our outrageous higher-education costs -- to our head-in-the-sand inaction on climate change -- the U.S. seems to be mired in an interminable, regressive state-of-mind. Frankly, none of it makes any sense.
That said, I'm in my mid-fifties now. When I was young my parents couldn't afford to send me to college. So, I enrolled in a local community college to get my four-year certificates in Machine Tool Technology and Math, and then re-enrolled a number of times in other community colleges periodically throughout my career as a machinist in order to keep up with rapid advances in technology, which in turn allowed me to make an adequate living. But, man-oh-man, if I had realized when I was young that I could have had an opportunity to enroll in a major, accredited university but didn't have to pay ANY tuition -- and all I had to do was to move to Europe -- I would have done it in a heartbeat. By hook or by crook, so-to-speak.
But, I digress...
Prospective students in the United States who can’t afford to pay for college or don’t want to rack up tens of thousands in student debt should try their luck in Germany. Higher education is now free throughout the country, even for international students. Yesterday, Lower Saxony became the last of seven German states to abolish tuition fees, which were already extremely low compared to those paid in the United States.
German universities only began charging for tuition in 2006, when the German Constitutional Court ruled that limited fees, combined with loans, were not in conflict the country’s commitment to universal education. The measure proved unpopular, however, and German states that had instituted fees began dropping them one by one.
“We got rid of tuition fees because we do not want higher education which depends on the wealth of the parents,” Gabrielle Heinen-Kjajic, the minister for science and culture in Lower Saxony, said in a statement. Her words were echoed by many in the German government. “Tuition fees are unjust,” said Hamburg’s senator for science Dorothee Stapelfeldt. “They discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany.”
It's interesting to note that even before tuition fees were abolished, German students barely had to pay for undergraduate study. Per semester, fees averaged about C500. ($630USD) Not to mention the fact that most students were entitled to perks such as cheap (if not free) transportation to and from universities.
Think Progress has the story: This Country Just Abolished College Tuition Fees
Compared to American students, Germans barely had to pay for undergraduate study even before tuition fees were abolished. Semester fees averaged around €500 ($630) and students were entitled to many perks, such as cheap (often free) transportation within and between cities.
Free education is a concept that is embraced in most of Europe with notable exceptions like the U.K., where the government voted to lift the cap on university fees in 2010. The measure has reportedly cost more money than it brought in. The Guardian reported in March that students are failing to pay back student loans at such a rate that “the government will lose more money than it would have saved from keeping the old £3,000 ($4,865) tuition fee system.”
Although it's patently ridiculous, students in the U.K. often compare their own education plight to their American counterparts. The Brits pay a maximum of $14,500USD per year for tuition. It's much higher in the U.S. In fact, exorbitant tuition and fees here have caused student debt to explode overall to a mind-numbing $1.2 trillion, and is continuing to spiral out of control. It is now the second-highest form of consumer debt in the country. And, (according to the Institute for College Access and Success) a full 2/3rds of college students in the U.S. will leave college in significant debt, with an average of $26,600 per student.
However, the news is not all bad. There has been, in fact, some movement at the state level: Tennessee, for one, recently voted to make two-year colleges free for all high school graduates. But overall change in this country is at a snail's pace at best. And this simply must change. And that change is not as difficult as it would seem. We just need a new (liberal) perspective.
The U.S. as whole could take a note from Germany and make public universities free with relative ease. The government spends around $69 billion subsidizing college education and another $107.4 billion on student loans. Tuition at all public universities comes to much less than that, around $62.6 billion in 2012. By restructuring the education budget, the cost of attending public universities could easily be brought down to zero. This would also put pressure on private universities to lower their cost in order to be more competitive.
So, for what it's worth, I know it can be cost-prohibitive for a lot of young folks. But until us older folks manage to enact necessary education reforms, if it's at all possible, my advice to young people in this country would be... (to paraphrase an American classic)
"Go east, young people... Go East! (across the pond)
Posted by FourScore | Fri Oct 3, 2014, 09:42 AM (4 replies)
Dear white racists and your fragile fee-fees:
Relax, I'm white, too. Look, I can do the secret handshake and nudge-nudge, wink-wink. Lemme whitesplain something to you, fellow white men: no one buys your bullshit. That's because your bullshit runs like this: For historically- and presently-oppressed black people to be treated decently, they must carefully avoid doing anything that could be remotely twisted into behaving like a white racist, even if you're squinting and looking at it from five hundred meters away in a thick fog. Because that would be racist, and therefore hypocritical, and if that's the case, they deserve to continue to be oppressed.
Here's the thing you thick-headed assholes totally fail to get: NO ONE DESERVES TO BE OPPRESSED, PERIOD. You can talk all you want about how it's okay for black people to be mistreated if--- but get this, there is no "if". It's not okay, ever. That's why we call it mistreatment. Your error is to think that it's ever justified, and your active misdeed is to constantly search for a justification. Black people, collectively, are not guilty of anything. In fact, a basic principle of civil society is that we reject the notion of collective guilt.
Some individual black people, like individual white people, have done bad things, and in those cases, may deserve judicial punishments. But even those people don't deserve mistreatment from some random white guy on the street. And black people in general don't owe anyone anything as a prerequisite for being treated decently. No one does.
Now I know there are a bunch of you in the back of the room waving your hand and getting ready to launch the argument that it's racist to complain about white privilege. No, it is not. Complaining about white privilege is not the same as assigning collective guilt to white people. White privilege is a pervasive feature of our society and our legal system. It's hard to see if you're white (and you're not looking or actively trying not to look), but it is real, it is powerfully destructive, and if global warming had the kind of statistical support that evidence of white privilege has, Bill O'Reilly would be haranguing FOX News viewers to install solar panels.
And here's the subtle point that you folks either can't or won't grasp. White privilege is especially the responsibility of white people to fix, not because we're all racist schlubs like you are, but because white privilege itself means that we're the ones who have the power to change it. Black people don't have that power, again because of white privilege, and not because they aren't sufficiently careful in the way they phrase their complaints about being mistreated. It's our problem and our responsibility as white people to fix not because whites are collectively guilty, but because it is the responsibility of ALL PEOPLE to fight for decent treatment for ALL PEOPLE. It just happens that, because of our shithead ancestors and a helping handful of historical accident, we white people are the ones who can do something about it. When the finger on the trigger is white, it's pointless to ask a black guy to lower the gun.
And quite frankly, given all the shit that our black fellow citizens have put up with, and all the shit they have to deal with every. fucking. day., if some of them lose their tempers and say things that aren't carefully calibrated to kiss your privileged, hypersensitive asses, well, is that actually surprising? You lose your minds when black people just complain verbally about being kicked. Imagine how tough it would be for you to keep your cool if someone was actually doing something to you instead of just talking.
Finally, yes, I know this is pointless. You want to be offended to fluff your fragile egos, and you want black people to please shut the fuck up and stop harshing your mellow. I hate to break it to you, but as long as people are being murdered by the state, given draconian sentences for crimes that in many cases they haven't even committed, and being held in poverty and privation and a constant state of fear, those of us who actually give a shit about our fellow citizens are going, at the very least, to make some noise about it.
In the meantime, if you can't be bothered to do your duty as an American to protect your fellow Americans with the considerable power at your disposal, at least shut the fuck up and stop making an ass of yourself.
Your fellow privileged white guy
Posted by FourScore | Thu Oct 2, 2014, 08:29 AM (96 replies)
That's what really worries me. I hope it is not the foreshadowing of something worse.
The security breaches are bad. Really bad. But some of them happened years ago, so why are they being disclosed or discussed now?
I always wonder about the timing of these disclosures. I don't believe they are happenstance.
I am so worried about my President's well-being.
Posted by FourScore | Tue Sep 30, 2014, 11:07 PM (7 replies)