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DirkGently

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Orlando
Home country: USA
Current location: Holistically detecting
Member since: Wed Jan 27, 2010, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 10,066

Journal Archives

July, 2011.

According to five separate sources with knowledge of negotiations -- including both Republicans and Democrats -- the president offered an increase in the eligibility age for Medicare, from 65 to 67, in exchange for Republican movement on increasing tax revenues.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/11/obama-medicare-eligibility-age_n_894833.html

Credit to DUer KPete for posting this then.

The GOP proposal itself revives a host of ideas from failed talks with Obama in the summer of 2011. Then, Obama was willing to discuss politically risky ideas such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare, implementing a new inflation adjustment for Social Security cost-of-living adjustments and requiring wealthier Medicare recipients to pay more for their benefits.

http://swampland.time.com/2012/12/04/obama-boehner-to-meet-with-governors-on-fiscal-cliff/



Really, it's time to stop acting like Obama's willingness to cut social programs is a hallucination. He talks the beltway talk about it. Always has. So it not only isn't crazy or mean or rightwingy to keep warning him not to, it is a necessity.

I tried to sympathize with the "mourning Romney" pics. And failed.

Gloating is not an appropriate reaction for the party and people who regard themselves as the sane, rational, adults in the political room.

So, when I went to the "White People Mourning Romney" aggregations and looked at the pictures, and saw older women in tears, children seemingly crushed, families embracing each other, I couldn't laugh at their pain. They weren't faking anything. They believed, as they believed four years ago, that something terrible and incomprehensible had happened to their country.

But as I continued to scroll down and saw the tweets from the likes of Victoria Jackson, saw the store closed in protest, the utterly disingenuous threats to leave the country for "Australia," sympathy segued into confusion.

What, exactly, ARE these people feeling? Or more accurately, what are they THINKING? Obama has been in office for four years. Satan has not appeared. We have not been herded into Stalinist camps. "Sharia law" has not been imposed. And yet they went right back to apparent visions of apocalypse under whatever kind of crypto-villain Obama supposedly is this week as though nothing had happened since 2008.

None of them -- not one -- expressed a single genuine critique of an Obama policy, or articulated how Romney or any Republican, would have done something better. How could they, when Romney himself relied on attacking healthcare reform modeled on one he enacted as Governor of Massachusetts, and promised spending increases and tax cuts AND deficit reduction, while refusing to say how that is possible?

None of them defended the insane Republican platform on women's rights. Or the war-mongering toward Iran. Or the bloody 4% in additional taxes the rich may someday have to pay if the Bush cuts are actually allowed to expire as they were intended to do.

Instead it was same, willfully idiotic blather. "Socialism and Marxism," from people who wouldn't know either if it bit them on the liver. Cries about God and freedom and the Constitution in the vaguest possible terms.

NOTHING. They have literally nothing to point to, except their own willful ignorance, painfully transparent racial panic, and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of entitled dismay that simply yelling and jumping up and down did not bring victory.

So I landed at last at anger and, sorry to say, contempt. This election did not happen because of the media. Or Hurricane Sandy. Or even because of America's changing demographics and the Republican Party's determination to alienate every non "wealthy white male" in the country.

It happened because Republicans made a stand on being irrational. On relying on identity politics most politely described as tribalism. On social and ecomonic absolutism flying directly in the face of every known fact.

They chose to believe they were entitled to win based on monolithic opposition and bulletproof resistance to any fact-based discussion, compromise, or generosity of spirit. They would simply stand in the corner and shout insults until they got their way. And they did not.

Good. Cry, Republicans, cry. Get it out of your system. The world is not, in fact, what you wish it to be or what you claim it is. It is instead, what it IS. You cannot shout and threaten and pout your way into control.

We'll still be here when and if you want to work on our problems from the premise that a moderate, Hawaiian-born Harvard graduate who doesn't look exactly like you is not the anti-Christ, that tax cuts don't pay for themselves, wars are not our national sport, the climate is changing, and that women and their wombs are not your personal property.

Buck up, Republicans. The world is still here, just like it was four years ago. Hop on board. It's not as bad as you think. In fact, it's a little bit better than it was just a while ago.

Why do we even dignify these "anecdotes"

...suggesting that someone on public assistance has it too good?

They don't. Nobody thinks that. What entitles someone to scrutinize someone who is struggling to make sure to shame and despise them if they accept help, but don't seem sufficiently miserable to "deserve" it? What is this human rage at the thought that someone with less than they still has too much? How stupid are we to want others diminished and humiliated before we lift a finger to help? How do we not get that poverty hurts all of us, all the time?

There is such a thing as welfare fraud. If we respected social services well enough to fund them properly, we could address that. But it is not the norm. The norm is that we are lucky to be able to try to have a system that keeps everyone above a certain floor. This should be a civic goal for anyone. A source of pride that in America, no one must go hungry. It would be a better country for all of us if we offered even more, and we can. We outspend the world on weaponry and defense, despite there being no need for it. We have billions to give away to banks and oil companies.

We cannot keep having this conversation about whether it is somehow morally wrong to try to keep people out of poverty.

It's the only reason to have a country in the first place.

Great post.

No one reacts when Republicans get crazy. They're entitled, you see.

They bring guns and slogans about killing tyrants to a tax protest and talk about "Second Amendment Remedies" if things don't go their way, and the police stand respectfully by. When progressives gather, their signs are considered possible weapons and Homeland Security is alerted and batons and economy-sized tanks of pepper spray are prepared to fend off the threat of college students and women, lest they get out of hand.

They race-bait talking about the "bla... people" and turning schoolchildren into janitors because they have no hardworking role models and it's smirkily dismissed. Biden mentions the chains Wall Street has busily wrapped around us already and it's "a new low" in politics.

There are a shocking number of American conservatives who embrace absolutely batshit ideas. One person I had always believed reasonable recently mumbled something about Obama being "crafty" about his birth certificate. Many mainstream conservatives would ban abortion and think climate change is a hoax created by scientists.

And the others will not speak up. They hear the crazy. They see it. But this is their group. Their identity. Their church. A few may get out of hand occasionally, shoot a doctor or a some churchgoers, but to many in America, including an unfortunate bulk of law enforcement, you only really have to worry when "those people" get out of hand. The commies. The hippies. The women. The gays and minorities. The educated. The godless.

We are "those people." From Hoover hounding John Lennon out of the country to Reagan denying AIDS and siccing shotgun-wielding police on people making a garden, we have been marginalized as the anti-normal force. The threat to stability. Our motives are as suspect as our birth certificates. We are the Other.

We have to speak up and make ourselves known. A rock-ribbed fan of W. Bush recently observed to me that a free market "finding equilibrium" after a series of violent highs and lows is not a helpful thing, and that Wall Street insiders in government bode ill for everyone. Another hardy mainstream conservative observed that endless wars drain lives and money for no apparent good.

We're Those People, and we are The People. And there are more of us than is supposed.

Rightwingers chum the water we're all


swimming in, then shrug when the sharks show up, eyes rolling, to feed.

Violence would be the expected response if the things they keep saying we're true. If taxation was theft. If extremist foreign powers were infiltrating the government. If health reform was a Stalinist plot to euthanize your elderly relatives. If straight white Christians were being marginalized and oppressed for loving hamburgers and Jesus.

Then someone takes them at their word and sets up a rat-poisoned anti-personnel bomb on a parade route. Shoots another doctor. Slashes a gay person.

It's not their fault. It has nothing to do with either the ease of obtaining firearms or the constant drumbeat about how everyone needs to "stock up" on ammo before liberals disarm the real Americans.

And hey, look, someone spray-painted a funny sign on a chicken restaurant run by a proud bigot, so it all washes out.

Can't blame them. Who could predict all that bloody chum would attract a monster?

Interesting observation. I think this issue touches his Crazy Place.

After watching Rachel's piece last night, where she pointed out that he's not only consistently refused to show his tax returns, but has done so while just as consistently demanding everyone else's, including their spouses', I think this income tax thing is a very special obsession of his.

My SO observed that Romney is not a rich guy who just lets accountants handle everything. All these tax shelters and funky business structures offshore are not something that every single rich person does. Many, sure, but this is elaborate. It's a pet project. He is OBSESSED with his income taxes and specifically, trying not to pay them. He doesn't have to "check" for ABC or anyone else. He knows, to the penny, what he's paid. And I think this claim of a $200 million fortune is far short of what he's holding.

And there's something more. That scary, detached glint in his eye. He's got it a lot, to different degrees, whenever "those people" are asking him questions, but when it comes to this tax issue, he is ENRAGED.

There is a plunging dagger behind his eyes, barely restrained from ripping the throat out of anyone daring to "go there."

I had thought before Romney was just kind of an entitled empty suit. But as these little details of his personality have emerged, all of which entail cruelty, I think he's actually a nasty scary piece of work. I think his family is afraid of him. Ha, ha, Daddy shoved your face in butter, but don't think you can do that do Daddy. No one messes with Daddy.

Don't know how it's going to turn out, but I think this is a guy with a serious mask on, and he could do anything if cornered.



The entire Amendment follows the word "militia." Of which we have none.


The pro-gun take on the Second Amendment is self-contradictory. It claims to rest on strict construction and "plain meaning," and then promptly ignores the fact that the entire Amendment deals with militias. Which were important when America didn't have a standing Army, and now are irrelevant.

So much for strict construction and plain meaning. We'll take out the first half, and focus on "bear." We'll ignore the fact that self-defense weapons were something our forebears kept in their homes and barns. We'll pretend the intention was for people to bring guns to courthouses and parks and schoolyards. We'll pretend that nothing is different about modern weaponry and modern living that the Founding Fathers could not have conceived, that "armed society is polite society."

And it's all delivered with a pseudo-rationalist tone and airy declarations that people simply don't understand how gun violence has nothing at all to do with guns. People would simply commit drive-by knifings and schoolyard chainsawings and mass baseball battings, you see.

There's no reasonable question about the fact the Second Amendment was intended to protect American's ability to be prepared to fight wars and keep the peace, at a time when local militias were the only means to do that. We don't live in that world anymore. Our militias have become police departments and the military. That's where our citizens "bear arms."

There was never any intention in the Second Amendment for Americans to walk around ready to shoot each other in the supermarket should they feel threatened. There was no intention that rightwingers be prepared to fight it out with the United States government if it got out of line.

The American gun lobby has carefully constructed a dense mythology around the Constitution and the role of firearms and firearm violence. It was never anyone's intention that everyday citizens walk around on the lookout for crime, or dispatch criminals to protect property. To go on armed "neighborhood watch." It has a silly catchphrase or garbled statistic or a disingenuous bit of illogic for every situation. Now we're told that the fact the ATF can't keep American guns out of Mexico because 99% of the process is protected by our own laws is actually a secret plot by President Obama to make people THINK we need better gun laws.

The legal reality is that our shiny new ultra-conservative Supreme Court has since found an individual right to bear arms, so there we are. The word "militia" has been erased. Thank you, NRA. But it's not where we started.

And the argument that we "can't" change gun laws because it's politically problematic is another gun lobby red herring. We can't until we do. We all understand why gun proponents want to wait until the latest in the endless line of American mass shootings fades away to talk about it. But the intervals are getting shorter, and the blood is getting deeper, and it's getting harder to pretend that keeping our country brimming with easily bought and sold firearms of every description has nothing to do with it.


It's a fascinating lie to protect shady American gun sellers.

So, the reality, as the article points out, is that it is virtually impossible to stop gun traffic into Mexico, because most of what constitutes gun trafficking is actually legal, thanks to the overwhelming success of pro-gun lobbyists. ATF agents, already hampered and largely defanged by the relentless "jackbooted thugs" campaign carried on by the NRA, went as far as New York to try to get the obvious trafficking they were witnessing prosecuted. But they couldn't. It's not illegal for an 18-yr-old to, say buy $20,000 in weaponry, repeatedly, on the theory it might be for "personal use," and then sell them all the next day having "changed his mind."

So, the reality is that gun laws are so weak that Mexico is flooded with American guns in a process that essentially isn't illegal, because gun rights are so broad here. That's what's actually happening. ATF can't arrest anyone because you basically would have to witness someone saying, "Here, let me illegally traffic this firearm to you, hahahahahahaha!"

The conspiracy theory cooked up to deal with this is a gob-smacking piece of cognitively dissonant genius. It's just so bald-faced nuts that it makes perfect sense, if you just invert reason entirely. You just have to believe that law enforcement agents never wanted to do their jobs, bust people and stop weapons trafficking -- how naive! Nooo, they wanted to FAIL, so gun trafficking would get bad, so we'd all THINK we needed better enforcements and / or legislation. Because law enforcement agents think like that, and readily agree to engage in complex conspiracies involving deliberately letting their comrades be murdered, just to please President Obama and his secretly anti-gun stance that he has never revealed in speech or policy. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHHA!

Wow. This is exactly the same flavor of proving-something-via-its-utter-nonexistence that NRA President / gibbering nutwad Wayne Lapierre introduced a while back, where Obama has been soft on gun control, BECAUSE HE WANTS TO BE HARD ON GUN CONTROL!!

It's perfect logic, if you're insane. And the best part is yet to come. You see, as soon as it sort of sinks in that the ATF was actually (gasp) trying to do its job, and not pretending to not be able to do its job in order to ... TAKE OUR GUNS! someone will be tempted to suggest that maybe we need some kind of database to track gun sales, instead of those boxes of forms the article talks about agents having to painstakingly review by hand. Or, maybe there could be some kind of limit on large sales to individuals. Or something. Anything. But they won't be able to, because as soon as anyone tries, a trillion screaming NRA acolytes will shout ...

AHA! WE KNEW IT! Look at the gun grabbers, using the ATF's "fake" failure to stop guns from going to Mexico to falsely try to justify laws to actually stop guns from going to Mexico! !!! !!! !!!

So at last we scrape down through all the crazy slogans and pseudo-logic, and unending hysteria about jack-booted G-men coming to take Grandma's shotgun and we see what's really most important to the mega-powerful gun lobby in America.

Gun-running to Mexico. All of this nonsense, from Lapierre to Issa, and this galactically impossible non-scandal, is aimed at protecting gun shops that sell a hell of a lot of weaponry to mules headed to Mexico. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. Nothing to do with self-defense, or hunting or target shooting, or a Swiss-like ideal of every citizen being prepared to defend the homeland.

Gunrunner profits. That's what matters here. That's what all the screaming and sweating and false visions of gun-stripping apocalypsi are about. They knew people were wondering why there is a steady river of arms flowing from Arizona directly to Mexician drug lords, and got worried someone might eventually want to do something about it. So we all got Congressman Car Thief Issa's epic hearings, the first attempt to hold a USAG in contempt of Congress, and the "Fast and Furious scandal."

But no talk so far of doing a single thing to stem the flow of illegal American guns. Because once again, when it comes to firearms in America, crazy works just fine.

Because they know religion is just culture, babbling to itself?

Very few people, if not indoctrinated at a young age, can hold on to stories written by a bronze-age goat-herding culture, explaining the universe and morality in terms of burning bushes and god-impregnated virgins.

If the political movements calling themselves conservatism or Christian fundamentalism in America today thought for a moment that an omniscient being was watching them and judging them on the basis of the empathy supposedly taught by Jesus, they'd burst into flame out of pure shame. These groups worship a god as stupid as they are, because all the notion of god is to them is an imaginary inflated version of their own deluded egos and self-induced ignorance.

But I don't know that it's ever been any different. Monotheism, and in particular Christianity, despite its morally reasonable sounding roots in the strangely Eastern philosophy of its central figure, has always been first and foremost a power structure. First thing they did was adopt and rename everything anyone had ever liked about a spiritual or mystical view of nature. Then they threw out women, and sex, and replaced them with an image of their ideal leader -- a single male Authority, angry, stupid, and vengeful. And set up a comprehensive system of force to maintain it.

I respect belief and a spiritual approach for those who choose to embrace it. But this cow is not sacred. It was a lie when it was first told, and it's a lie today. I think there's only so far you go with a lie, even with the best intentions.

But I don't think this repellant assault on intelligence, knowledge, equality, and peace, has anything to do with belief. It's a propaganda framework used dishonestly by people who at their core don't believe for a moment in any kind of moral order or a just universe.

By their fruits we shall know them.

The "broccoli argument?" That's a really poor analogy.

- Everyone doesn't need broccoli (or guns) in order to live, in every single case.

- We don't feel compelled to give people who don't have broccoli (or guns) super expensive Emergency Room broccoli (or guns) to prevent them from dying in the streets

- People's lives are not being destroyed because they need broccoli (or guns) in order to live, or save the lives of their children, parents, and spouses, where even small amounts of broccoli (or guns) cost more than everything they have.

- The broccoli (and gun) industry isn't relying on the life-or-death nature of the need for their products to force people into complicated, opaque schemes whereby they pay for broccoli (or guns) but often don't actually get the broccoli (or guns) when and how they need them, because the profit motive compels a constant increase in profits, which in turn requires constantly lowering the level or quantity of "broccoli." Or "guns." While increasing the price 10 or 20 or 30% per year.

- People aren't being denied life-giving broccoli / guns because they forgot to mention they had asthma for two weeks in the eighth grade. People aren't denied live-giving broccoli or guns because they already needed broccoli or guns at some point before they lost their previous job. Bureacrats aren't being paid huge salaries to devise new ways to cheat dying people out of the guns and broccoli they need to live.

- People aren't forced to keep jobs they may hate, or forgo other opportunities, in order to ensure that they don't lose the ability to obtain broccoli or guns.

- The current, modest reform effort we are all discussing would require people who irrationally, dishonestly, do not believe they will ever need "broccoli or guns" to, IF they are not impoverished, to pay a fee of some $600. There is no coercion, nor threat of imprisonment. A whopping 2% of the population is expected to fall into this category.

Really, this is ridiculous. We live in a civilization, the basis of which is shared use of resources and cooperation for the common good. That's what civilization is. That's how it works. All the other countries not currently impoverished or in utter chaos know this. As Bill Maher so eloquently put it recently, "All the other 'big-boy' nations on Earth have universal health care (in which people are -- gasp -- technically 'forced' to participate).

Regarding health care, which is nothing like broccoli, or guns, our options are limited.

1) We can figure out the most effective way for everyone to have it, which will be expensive, and which will by its nature require both "rationing" of resources on some level, and the subsidization by the younger and healthier of the older and sicker. Kind of like the older, sicker people subsidized all the younger, healthier people by producing and raising them. We already have rationing and subsidies just like this in the "free market" system, which does the same thing, just with pools much smaller than the entire population.

2) We can rely on the bizarre, accidental employer-subsidized system that everyone hates, or something similar, in which some people have some healthcare options, some of the time, and the rest are dealt with through the spectacularly inefficient and expensive method of trying to treat them all in the emergency room, or

3) We can let anyone who hasn't stumbled into the right job at the right time, or joined the military, or gone to prison, die the streets. Which would in fact "free" people from cooperating in the society we all depend on and benefit from, but the reality of which might be less desirable than charging people a small fee for failing to support the system we know they will eventually have to rely upon anyway.

Broccoli and guns my ass.
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