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TomCADem's Journal
TomCADem's Journal
December 1, 2012

"McConnell's vision of a 'compromise'" - Or, Who Is Not Being Serious?

The corporate media continues to let Republicans: (1) demand that Democrats make all the proposals; (2) accuse Democrats of not being bipartisan (even though this conflicts with No. 1); and (3) assert without any elaboration that Democrats are not serious about solving issues relating to the debt ceiling, deficit, taxes, and benefit programs. Yet, as this story notes, it is Republicans that have simply walked away from the job of legislating.


What I hope the political world -- policymakers, Sunday show participants, etc. -- will consider as we go into the weekend is how truly baffling McConnell's concept of a "compromise" really is.

Despite an election cycle in which Democrats did very well up and down the ballot, the Senate GOP leader envisions an agreement in which Republicans get the Medicare cuts they want, Republicans get the Social Security cuts they want, and Republicans get the tax rates they want. In exchange, McConnell would give Democrats Mitt Romney's revenue plan.


Sure, President Obama's plan isn't exactly an olive branch, but at least it's a serious effort to reach the goal Republicans established, and it includes policies the White House would not otherwise seek on their own. McConnell's approach is based on a model in which Obama was the one who ended up with 206 electoral votes, instead of 332.

November 30, 2012

Maddowblog - "Boehner invites global economic ruin, on purpose"

House Republicans are once again threaten to plunge the Nation into default unless the rich get their tax cuts, yet the corporate media generally treats this as an acceptable negotiation tactic.


Almost immediately after being elevated to Speaker, Boehner clearly wanted no part of a debt-ceiling fight. He explained in November 2010, "I've made it pretty clear to [my caucus] that as we get into next year, it's pretty clear that Congress is going to have to deal with [the debt limit]. We're going to have to deal with it as adults. Whether we like it or not, the federal government has obligations and we have obligations on our part."

By April 2011, under pressure from the far-right, Boehner proclaimed, "There will not be an increase in the debt limit without something really, really big attached to it." He didn't name a price at the time.

As the crisis began in earnest, the Speaker named his "really, really big" price: for every dollar in debt-ceiling increase, Democrats had to give him a matching amount of spending cuts. It was an arbitrary decision -- for nine decades, every increase in the debt limit had passed in clean bills -- but Boehner made up his own standard and stuck to it.

The result was a scandal for the ages. Every congressional Republican -- literally, all of them -- threatened to destroy the economy on purpose and trash the full and faith credit of the United States unless Boehner's made-up standard was met.

And now, as of this morning, the Speaker is creating the same crisis for the same reason, relying on the same arbitrary standard. This profoundly stupid fiasco caused enormous damage to the nation's economy, debt rating, and international standing, and Boehner is making a conscious decision to do all of this to us, again, on purpose.
November 29, 2012

Congress to make history -- but for the wrong reason

Source: NBC

By passing just 196 bills into law so far, [the 112th Congress (2011-2012)] it is in the running to become the least productive Congress since the 1940s.

In fact, that amount is 710 fewer public laws than was produced by the 80th Congress (from 1947-48), which first earned the moniker "Do-Nothing" Congress.

* * *
The 104th Congress (1995-1996) currently holds the record low for passing the fewest pieces of legislation since 1947 -- just 333 bills were passed into law during that two-year span.

To avoid earning the distinction as the least productive Congress since 1947, 138 bills must move through the House and Senate before the end of this Congress next month.

Read more: http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/11/28/15518240-congress-to-make-history-but-for-the-wrong-reason?lite

Can we also chalk up Speaker Boehner as the worst Speaker in the history of Congress. He floated the idea of being open to some tax increases, but has since been whipped into shape by Grover Norquist who is acting as a proxy for millions in corporate SuperPAC money. Now, Boehner is once again willing to let taxes increase on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in order to protect the top 2 percent.

On the Senate side, you have Republicans breaking new records in the use of the filibuster. It is not both parties' fault. It is the fault of Republicans who have pretty much delegated any leadership to unelected interests like Grover Norquist and the corporations and billionaires that he represents.
November 29, 2012

Rolling Stone - "How (Norquist) hijacked the GOP on behalf of the rich" - Norquist As A Frontman

The mainstream media helps perpetuate the influence of Norquist by ignoring how he actively acts as a proxy for corporate interests. It would be bad PR for a corporation to dump money into a political campaign. But, give the money to Norquist, or allow him to threaten politicians on your behalf, and you can keep your hands clean.


Norquist's influence over the GOP began in 1985, when Ronald Reagan tapped the little-known staffer at the Chamber of Commerce to head up Americans for Tax Reform, a pressure group organized to push a comprehensive tax package through Congress. With backing from the Chamber, Norquist – a Harvard MBA and former head of the College Republicans – challenged GOP candidates to take a two-part pledge: that they would never raise taxes, and that they would only close tax loopholes if the additional revenue was used to pay for further tax cuts. Before long, he had 102 congressmen and 16 senators signed up.

Over the past 25 years, Norquist has received funding from many of America's wealthiest corporations, including Philip Morris, Pfizer and Micro­soft. To build a farm team of anti-tax conservatives, Norquist shrewdly took the pledge to state legislatures across the country, pressuring up-and- coming Republicans to make it a core issue before they're called up to the big leagues. "We're branding the whole party that way," Norquist says. "The people who are going to be running for Congress in 10 or 20 years are coming out of state legislatures with a history with the pledge."

Norquist also built the anti-tax pledge into the DNA of the GOP by hosting weekly Wednesday meetings that enable activist groups representing everyone from gun nuts to home-schoolers to mix with top business lobbyists and conservative officials. The meetings, which began shortly after Bill Clinton was elected, turned Norquist into the Republican Party's foremost power broker – and gave him a forum to enforce the no-new-taxes pledge as the centerpiece of the GOP's strategy. "The tax issue," he says, "is the one thing everyone agrees on."

Norquist cemented his influence by forging an early alliance with Karl Rove and setting himself up as a gatekeeper to George W. Bush's inner circle. Then, after Obama was elected, this ultimate Washington insider positioned himself as a leader of the anti-establishment Tea Party, complete with financial support from the billionaire Koch brothers. "These Tea Party people, in effect, take their orders from him," says Bruce Bartlett, an architect of the Reagan tax cuts. "He decides: This is a permissible tax action, or this is not a permissible tax action. And of course, anything that cuts taxes is per se OK."
November 29, 2012

Grover Norquist's Budget Is Largely Financed by Just Two Billionaire-Backed Nonprofits

Source: The Nation

Grover Norquist’s iron grip over much of the Republican Party is somewhat puzzling. Why should Senators and other lawmakers listen to a guy caught laundering money for Jack Abramoff?

But consider Norquist’s tax pledge and political power another way: that he’s just a proxy for the powerful interest groups that finance him. In the nineties, it was big tobacco that used Norquist’s tax pledge as a cover to lobby lawmakers against cigarette taxes (Norquist still uses an e-mail system donated to him by Altria to send out Tea Party action alerts against tobacco taxes). Now, big PhRMA and other industry groups provide grants to Norquist while his foundation endorses other giveaways, like protectionist support against importing cheaper drugs from Canada and the classification of tax subsidies to refineries as “tax cuts” that must not be cut.

* * *
The disclosures show that only two billionaire-backed groups have provided over 66 percent of Norquist’s funding:

* * *

The Center to Protect Patients Rights is the foundation used by the billionaire clique led by the Koch brothers to distribute grants to allied groups. In 2010, wealthy moguls like Steve Bechtel of Bechtel Corporation and Steve Schwarzman of the Blackstone Group met behind closed doors to help lend money to these types of efforts.

Crossroads GPS is the undisclosed group run by Karl Rove. The only known donors are folks like Paul Singer, the “vulture” hedge fund king who benefits enormously from tax strategies like the carried interest loophole. Norquist’s pledge largely benefits billionaires like Singer and Schwarzman, who pay almost nothing in payroll taxes and likely pay a lower rate than their secretaries.

Read more: http://www.thenation.com/blog/171475/analysis-grover-norquists-budget-largely-financed-just-two-billionaire-backed-nonprofits#

The mainstream media helps perpetuate Grover Norquist's influence by ignoring the fact that he is merely a conduit for corporate money and billionaires like the Koch brothers to control the Republican party. Norquist provides cover for billioniares and corporate interests to threaten Republicans who may even consider straying from anti-tax orthodoxy because Norquist's threats are back by millions in corporate campaign contributions. If you stray, Crossroads GPS will dump millions into a primary challenge.
November 27, 2012

Grover Norquist dismisses ‘impure thoughts’ on taxes

Source: Washington Post

A day after two Republican lawmakers announced they would no longer comply with his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” to never vote to raise taxes, Grover Norquist said he would work against those members who violate the pledge.

Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), along with Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), said in recent days that they were willing to vote for revenue increases despite having taken the pledge.

His group, Americans for Tax Reform, will “certainly highlight who has kept their commitment and who hasn’t,” Norquist told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. But he said he wasn’t worried that lawmakers’ talk of breaking the pledge would turn into action.

“No Republican has voted for a tax increase,” Norquist said. “We’ve got some people discussing impure thoughts on national television.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/11/26/grover-norquist-pushes-back-on-pledge-breakers/

I guess Grover Norquist is putting an end to any idea of any type of grand bargain and dismissing talk of tax increases as folks discussing "impure thoughts." Talk about a god complex. At the same time, Grover has been having elected officials signing pledges to him and willing to plunge the nation into default out of respect for this pledge. I guess we can understand why he would use quasi-religious talk to characterize taxes.
November 26, 2012

Here is a sampling...

First, there are several Biblical quotes that directly endorse collective ownership, which are often ignored by the evangelical Christians:

And all that believed were together, and had all things in common;
And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 2: 44, 45

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

Acts 4:32-37

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.
For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Romans 13:1-7

Second, in direct contradiction to those who preach the prosperity gospel, i.e., that being rich reflects the Lord's favor and being poor reflects God's disfavor, the Bible contains numerous provisions expressing hostility to the rich:

"Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves."

- Matthew 21:12

"On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves,"

- Mark 11:15

"In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.

So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.

To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

- John 2:14-16

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

- Mark 10:25

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

- Luke 18:25

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
- Matthew 19:24

Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

- Luke 18:25

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

- Matthew 19:24

“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows”

- I Timothy 6:10
November 25, 2012

WaPo Guest Columnist - "From Jesus’ socialism to capitalistic Christianity" - Great Read!

The phenomena of how Christianity became pro-capitalistism is rarely discussed. Instead, it is taken as canon by the mainstream media that Evangelical Christians and free marketeers happily co-exist under the Republican banner. However, if anyone has read the Bible, as I was required to do as a child, was is amazing is how socialistic many of its passages appear to be. I am not even talking about the passages that slam the rich such as those saying it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of god.

My take is that Republican ownership of the religious right is classic case of folks making god in their image, rather than the other way around. How else can the right wing happily embrace the contradictory views of Ayn Rand, who was an outspoken atheist, while also currying favor with the religious right. I would love to see Christian reclaim the Bible from those who use it defend capitalism and the exploitation of the poor.


Jesus is no free marketeer. Improving one’s earthly financial circumstances is not nearly as critical as preparing for the end times that will arrive at any minute. He does offer substantial encouragement for the poor, and warns the wealthy that they are in grave danger of blowing their prospects of reaching paradise, as per the metaphor of a rich person entering heaven being as difficult as a camel passing through the eye of the needle (a narrow passageway designed to hinder intruders). This caution makes sense: sociological research is confirming that the more securely prosperous individuals and societies are, the more likely they are to lose the faith. A basic point of core Christian doctrine is that the wealthy have no more access to heaven than anyone else (and in fact may have less), offering hope to the impoverished rejected by cults that court the elites. This remains true in Catholicism, in which being poor does not constitute evidence of a personal deficiency, and church authorities decry the excesses of unrestrained capital at the expense of social justice.

But to understand just how non-capitalistic Christianity is supposed to be we turn to the first chapter after the gospels, Acts, which describes the events of the early church. Chapters 2 and 4 state that all “the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need… No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…. There were no needy persons among them. From time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

Now folks, that’s outright socialism of the type described millennia later by Marx - who likely got the general idea from the gospels.

The pro-capitalist Christians who are aware of these passages wave them away even though it is the only explicit description of Christian economics in the Bible.
November 22, 2012

Two Maine news anchors quit on air, citing pressure to do biased journalism

Source: NY Daily News

Maine news anchors Tony Consiglio and Cindy Michaels' resignation didn't surprise company Vice President and General Manager Mike Palmer, who called it "unfortunate." Michaels said the pair were expected to do unbalanced political journalism.

* * *

“It’s a little complicated,” Michaels continued, “but we were expected to do somewhat unbalanced news, politically, in general.”

Neither anchor specified what political stances the management allegedly wanted them to espouse.

Unlike others at the station, the company’s vice president and general manager, Mike Palmer, was not surprised by their announcement.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2-maine-news-anchors-quit-air-article-1.1206187

The folks at Free Republic are celebrating this resignation accusing this pair of wanting to push liberal (fact based) journalism. In Ohio, several ABC affiliates that were owned by Sinclair were forced to broadcast a highly partisan attack on President Obama as a news special:


This just goes to show that we need to hold the media accountable and that Fox News is not the only outlet that is pushing a right wing agenda. Fox News is just the most obvious about it.
November 19, 2012

The Week - "Are fringe Republicans trying to impeach President Obama?"

So much for Republicans learning from the 2012 election to be more reality based. I guess they are going to move from President Obama being a secret Muslim, to birtherism, to "Fast and Furious being a conspiracy to take away guns," to Bengazi being a covered up terrorist attack even though President Obama called it an act of terror the day after the attack. Thus, we have John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Darrell Issa once again playing to the right's lunatic fringe.


On Wednesday, in his first press conference since winning re-election, President Obama showed renewed swagger, answering questions with an easy confidence that was missing in the tense weeks leading up to Election Day. But perhaps Obama shouldn't let his guard down: Some conservatives are still plotting ways to oust him from power. Nearly 22,000 people have already signed a Nov. 11 petition to the White House demanding that Obama be impeached (never mind that their grievance targets the wrong branch of government). Impeachment has become a veritable battle cry on Twitter, with angry Republicans applying the hashtag #impeach to their complaints about the Obama administration.

Now, a conservative group has started a grassroots movement to make impeachment a reality. "The Conservative Majority Fund, a conservative group known primarily for its birther conspiracy spreading, has launched a robocall campaign to gin up support for the president's impeachment," says Sam Stein at The Huffington Post. The call says Obama is "guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors," citing the widely discredited claim that Obama is not an American citizen, among other accusations.

"Conservative Majority Fund is on the fringe of the conservative fringe," says Stein, "so it's not terribly surprising that they moved this quickly to start the drumbeats for the president's impeachment." Among such groups, the possibility of impeachment comes up often when the discussion turns to Benghazi, with many claiming that the Obama administration lied to the American people to cover up a terrorist attack. Far-right websites say Obama continues to lie out of fear he'll be impeached, while even mainstream conservative columnists are peddling conspiracy theories that suggest Obama used David Petraeus' affair to force Petraeus into participating in the cover-up.

Given these popular talking points, some liberals are bracing for a full-fledged impeachment campaign. After all, the last Democratic president found himself impeached not so long ago. "Whether it's on the basis of the supposed Benghazi cover up, or something else altogether, get ready for the looming extreme right wing war cry of "Impeach Obama," says Alex Marin at PolicyMic, "as the most stubborn factions of an aging Republican Party start to grasp the inevitability of an Obama second term."

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