And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
An assortment of statements came out re: NSA surveillance programs. For your convenience, I’ve decoded them here.
Senator Dianne Feinstein: “The vast majority of the records in the database are never accessed and are deleted after a period of five years. To look at or use the content of a call, a court warrant must be obtained.”
DiFI decoded: “Why yes, we are accumulating every piece of information passing electronically through the United States, citizen originated or not. But, hey, we’re super careful about protecting that data. Sort of like your credit card company.”
Representative Loretta Sanchez: “What we learned in there is significantly more than what is out in the media today….I don’t know if there are other leaks, if there’s more information somewhere, if somebody else is going to step up, but I will tell you that I believe it’s the tip of the iceberg.”
Sanchez Decoded: “Why yes, we are accumulating every piece of information passing electronically through the United States, citizen originated or not. Hopefully this information doesn’t actually come out. Good thing the NSA is hiding it.”
General Keith B. Alexander: “We aren’t trying to hide it.”
General Alexander decoded: “We are totally trying to hide it. Please stop asking about this stuff and I’ll stop lying about it to you. Deal?”
"Republicans have very decidedly not agreed to any kind of tax reform that raises federal revenues. This is the whole crux of the debate. They have never agreed to anything other than revenue-neutral tax reform."
— Kevin Drum, saying what should be printed in the maximum size possible, laminated in armor-strength plastic, and posted on the wall of every news agency large and small. Every single news outlet gets this simple, straightforward fact utterly and completely wrong every single time they venture here. Wishing hard and clapping louder will not make the GOP sensible. Neither will acting as though they want a “sensible” deal when they have made no such overtures, large or small.
Reporting this as though both parties are equally at fault is doing The Republic no favors.
Kevin Drum lays out a convincing case that the now-receding crime boom was primarily caused by leaded gasoline (in fact, the pattern repeats itself in country after country: as lead goes out of use in gasoline, crime goes down). Intriguingly, none of the major interest groups seem to care:
Political conservatives want to blame the social upheaval of the ’60s for the rise in crime that followed. Police unions have reasons for crediting its decline to an increase in the number of cops. Prison guards like the idea that increased incarceration is the answer. Drug warriors want the story to be about drug policy. If the actual answer turns out to be lead poisoning, they all lose a big pillar of support for their pet issue.
Mitt Romney, BUSINESSMAN, is the only person who can save ‘Merica from inevitable doom. With his business sense; running ‘Merica like a corporation and all that. Clearly, a part of that multidimensional chess maneuver for America is massively and systematically overpaying for advertising. It’s just good business to do so. You wouldn’t understand.
"The lesson here is simple. At a deep ideological level, Republicans believe that federal bureaucracies are inherently inept, so when Republicans occupy the White House they have no interest in making the federal bureaucracy work. And it doesn’t."
— Kevin Drum, making a point that I’d take even further: The GOP not only has no interest in “making it work,” they have a vested interest in the federal bureaucracy looking as ineffective as possible. That’s the only way to feed the larger narrative that government is bad in every instance, in every venture, and must never be tried as a potential solution for anything. Thus Mitt’s “just let industry clean it up” blather; he knows there will be no challenge, there will be no “so what’s the business model there, exactly and in detail?” question from an ever-pliant media. He can say it with impunity because the GOP has been peddling versions of this line for 20 years now and people have essentially stopped thinking about or even really hearing it. This is also why the Post Office is being run into the ground with malice aforethought; no program major, minor, or indispensable can be seen to work. At best, government programs can only be tolerated. This is why there’s no interest in actually managing defense procurement (which would seem to be a GOP darling on its face). The GOP does want the weapons the better to kill people with; but any overruns are just excellent evidence as to the inability of government to do anything. So why bother actually reigning anything in? Forget those damnable statistics showing the decline in bureaucrats in military procurement exactly tracks the explosion in cost overruns and delays. That’s just numbers. They lie. Follow your gut and most of all your basest fears: government can do nothing and must be eliminated wherever possible. Therefore, more in sadness than in anger, the time has come to eliminate Medicare and Social Security.
Government can do nothing. Go die in the streets. This is who they are.
"Mitt Romney was pretty unanimously considered the strongest candidate in the Republican field — by a large margin. He was, without much question, the most electable of the primary bunch and the toughest opponent for Barack Obama. He was disciplined, well-funded, and had a moderate background that appealed to independents. He was, in short, the very best the Republicans had to offer in the year 2012.
This was not a fantasy, either. It was an accurate assessment. Romney was the best they had. The very best.
"The proposition that Barack Obama was actually saying — literally — that business owners don’t build their own businesses doesn’t make a lick of sense. Unless, that is, you’re already convinced that he believes this, and only now has he finally tripped up and admitted it. In that case, it makes all the sense in the world. And what does this contempt for business owners translate into, policy-wise? An increase in the top marginal tax rate from 35% to 39.6%. Apparently this is the rallying cry of today’s socialist revolutionaries."
— Kevin Drumtouching on just how hard it is to deal with what Paul Krugman calls “invincible ignorance.”
The ultimate wages of absolute epistemic closure on the modern GOP unfortunately extend far beyond simply causing them to nominate national embarrassments like Christine O’Donnell every now and again and into actual peril for the Republic.
The two political factions officially have their own “facts.” One of those factions has a 24/7 news organization, the most popular such outlet in the country, dedicated to using anything and everything as “indisputable evidence” of their set of facts; when usable material doesn’t show up on a given day, they resort to creative editing and outright fabrication. That’s what’s happening here. Obama made comments about infrastructure; creative editing makes it into a comment about business in America. Next thing you know, the Boston Globe runs a story on their front page implying there is no empirical evidence (e.g. the text of Obama’s speech as delivered); therefore “GOP says Obama hates business; Democrats say otherwise…” and no conclusion about the veracity of the claims is made or even implied. Unacceptable.
Research has repeatedly shown that once this inaccurate information such as this is “out there,” there’s just no stopping it. Primacy always wins. Even people who know the information in question is false in hindsight have difficulty accepting the “new” and correct information.
How then does Obama “prove” he isn’t a secret socialist? When did he stop beating his wife? These and other questions will plague us until the non-FOXnews contingent of the American media wakes up, realizes there’s no there there, drops this view from nowhere approach that gives us only unusable he-said-she-said nonsense, and starts thinking and acting critically (but without malice, obviously) in all dealings with figures public and semi-private. Short of somebody utterly and unexpectedly disrupting the media as it stands today, I see no other way out.
"Every year we get a slightly different version of the same old [Paul Ryan budget proposal], and every year we have to waste entire man-years of analysis in order to make the same exact points about it. And the biggest point is that his budget would force enormous, swinging cuts in virtually every domestic program, especially those for the poor. If this bothers Ryan, he’s had plenty of time to revise his budget roadmap to address it.
But he hasn’t. He knows perfectly well that his budget concentrates its cuts on the poorest Americans. It’s been pointed out hundreds of times, after all. If he found that troublesome he’d change it. Since he hasn’t, the only reasonable conclusion is that this is exactly what he intends. Let’s stop pretending otherwise."
— Kevin Drum and I are in agreement. Stop making excuses for Ryan. Stop calling him “serious” or “wonky.” He’s neither. He simply puts an unachievable yet comfortingly numerical face on the GOP broader policy goal. Namely, reduce taxes on rich to as close to zero as can be achieved in a single go-round. Then make a show of balancing this huge deficit driver by a) failing to name any substantive tax reforms and but also specify that you’re going to be relying on extensive, substantive tax reform —and— b) cutting all programs for the poor to the bone or entirely. Can’t have a safety “hammock” after all.
When this still fails to balance the budget, you are free to go after Medicare, which was the plan all along. While there, may as well functionally end Social Security; even though it’s not a deficit driver, you’ve got huge constituencies and the MSM convinced that it is so why the Hell not? Then you call it a day and can efficiently sand the gears against putting any of it back in place even if you find your party in the legislative minority for decades. Huzzah for democracy.
"Would [a Constitutional amendment for campaign finance reform] be a good idea on a public policy level? I’d be shocked if someone could convince me that it was. As near as I can tell, just about every campaign finance reform measure of the modern era has either (a) had no real effect, or (b) backfired, making things objectively worse. The idea that we can predict the effect of yet another proposal well enough to set it in stone in the Constitution strikes me as extremely unlikely."
— Kevin Drum.
I’d tend to agree, were it not for ideas like Lawrence Lessig’s 28th Amendment: it’s partly targeted at stripping corporations of their status as individuals party to all the protections afforded to “regular” citizens. To me, just that section would go a long, long way towards fixing big-money politics without actually ever mentioning money in politics. That his proposal also includes public financing of campaigns is icing on the cake.
None of it is ever going to happen, but a man can dream.