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Excuse me?

November 23, 2014

 

we're-listening

If you watch, listen to, or read much in the way of news, you may have noticed that there’s a widening divide between what the people care about and what our elected officials have decided are important. Take the NBC/WSJ poll we talked about in today’s show. The American people are concerned with the following issues – each accompanied by the percentage of those surveyed who believe these are crucial topics that need addressing:

1.   Access to lower cost student loans–80% support.
2.   Increase spending on infrastructure–75%
3.   Raising the minimum wage–65%
4.   Emergency funding for fighting Ebola in Africa–60%
5.   Addressing climate change/reducing carbon emissions–59%
6.   Building Keystone Pipeline–54%

The GOP, on the other hand, has stated that their agenda is based on the following priorities, in the following order:

1.   Repeal “Obamacare.”
2.   Authorize the Keystone Pipeline.
3.   Pass the “Hire More Heroes” (veterans) Act.
4.   Restore “traditional” definition of full time work week to 40 hours (see item 1.)
5.   Protect and expand America’s energy boom [thanks Obama].
6.   Support charter schools with tax dollars.

Notice the disconnect? The only thing common to both lists is the Keystone XL Pipeline, which 54% of people want built, but they favor it because they think it will end America’s dependence on foreign oil. The problem with that is we have no dependence on foreign oil, producing 40% of our own oil and getting the rest from Canada and Latin America. And, we export a lot of what we produce, which means we’re choosing to buy some of that oil we’re getting from our neighbors to the north and south. The average American, however, thanks to the misinformation peddled by those who stand to make billions from the pipeline, believes we get most of our oil from the Middle East. They picture us begging terrorists for oil, and understandably, they think that’s a problem and that the pipeline will solve it.

Of course, given that we already export a lot of the oil we produce and we’ll be exporting a good deal of what we refine from the tar sands, there won’t be any changes to where we get and send oil. All we’ll be doing is guaranteeing more oil gets spilled within our borders and a handful of the same people who already have most of the money in the world will have that much more. And what’s the terrible outcome if we don’t build the pipeline? 4000 jobs are lost for the 15 years it takes to build it, and 35 permanent jobs are lost thereafter. And Canada will find an alternative, building a pipeline through their own terrain, taking it to ports on either of their coasts.

Is this a huge net loss to the US? Hardly. Not when we could be developing sustainable energy. The sun and the wind aren’t as sexy as oil, and certainly not as profitable for the oil companies (they’ll find a way to claim they own the sun and wind, have no fear), but they’re sustainable. That means they go on and on and on. They don’t run out. And even better than that? They don’t poison the planet or add to climate change. Now you’d think that would sound as good to the billionaires as it sounds to us, because they need to breathe air and drink water, too. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. The people with all the money – and therefore all the power – don’t want sustainable energy. Any more than they want to pay people a living wage or make it easier for people to afford to go to college. And those were numbers 3 and 1, respectively, on the people’s agenda, remember?

So what’s causing the disconnect? Are the people not speaking loudly enough to be heard? Is Congress not listening? Are we all speaking different languages?

Or is it a matter of the Congress hearing us but not caring what we’re saying?

Bingo. They don’t care, and they won’t care. Because we can’t give them millions to run their next campaign, which started about 20 minutes after they took office.

This week’s links:

Tone Deaf: The American People’s Agenda vs The GOPs Stated and Actual Plans

It’s Like a Whole ‘Nother History: Texas Schoolbooks Espouse God, the Free Market, and Appoint Moses as one of Our Founding Fathers

Obama and the Chinese Agree to Reduce Carbon Emissions

Keystone XL Pipeline Support is Based on Misinformation

Next, Everyone Gets a Horse… But No Shirt.

Is Obama the King of Executive Orders?

Actually, not so much…

Veni, vidi, veto.

November 16, 2014

Click to listen:

There is now more of the 1%’s money outside of the country than in it. $2.1 trillion dollars are currently stashed off-shore, where the money can’t be taxed, while just $1.9 trillion remains within the borders of the US. That means that the 1%, whom we were told would hire more people, grow their corporations, and thus help grow the economy – if we left them alone and didn’t tax and regulate them – are doing just the opposite. They’re not hiring, they’re not expanding, and they’re not helping grow or secure the US economy.

What are they doing? Hijacking our government, silencing science and dissent, and taking over all forms of communication – including the internet, through attacks on net neutrality.

But big corporations and billionaires aren’t the only ones who don’t pay any taxes but are more than happy to dictate policy and craft laws friendly to their interests. US churches pay not a dime of tax on their income, whether the income goes for charitable works or to buy a car for the pastor. Joel Osteen, one of the happiest and most popular of the current crop of televangelists, is worth about $40 billion. He lives in a house assessed at $10 million, and he spent $105 million renovating his new church, the former home of the Houston Rockets. So peddling the word of Jesus is actually a pretty good gig. The purveyors of the Good News pay no tax on anything that’s owned in the name of the church, which includes schools, shopping centers, TV and radio shows (and all the advertising dollars they bring in), and they pay nothing on the sales of their books and videos. But the best part? They’re more than happy to tell their parishioners who they should vote for, and that always turns out to be the guy who wants to keep things humming along just as they are – with the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

And that makes sense. How else can religion keep our attention? If our lives don’t suck, we don’t need the guys promising us our reward in heaven.

The bottom line? Of the more than a $1.3 billion dollars raised in the 2014 midterm election, Republican candidates took in $110,000,000 more of it than the Democratic candidates, because they provide a much better return on investment. Every dollar you spend buying a Tea Party darling or a rabid anti-science conservative a seat in Congress pays off big in assurances that there will be no raising of the minimum wage, talk of climate change will be shouted down, and you’ll be able to keep investing off-shore (or in God) and paying little or no tax.

So what’s a 99%-er to do? Well, for one thing, stop sending money to the carnival shills who say they speak for Jesus, and stop voting for people who take money from corporations. It’s really that simple.

Until it doesn’t pay to cheat the system, guess what they’ll all keep doing?

This week’s links:

Who Gave What to Whom: Which Candidates Got The Most Money from Corporations

Tax the Churches, Please!

More Money Overseas Than at Home

Net Neutrality: Ted Cruz Demonstrates His Ignorance on Yet Another Topic

Actually, We Really Don’t Want You to Vote

You’re Irish, the Irish are All Drunks, So we Can’t Hire You

Republicans Need Love, Too: Bizarre Right-Wing Dating Sites

Democracy ain’t cheap.

November 9, 2014

Click to listen: 

joni_ernst

If you can call this a democracy, that is. The 2014 election cost nearly $1B (that’s B as in BILLION) – with House and Senate races spending $710,394,785 (the various campaigns raised $1,511,981,448), according to OpenSecrets.org. And that’s not even counting the governors’ races.

Yep, democracy is quite pricey, with corporations funding a barrage of TV ads for their pet candidates, assuring their legislative and gubernatorial puppets plenty of cash with which to drown out nearly any opponent, Election Day was a cause for celebration for the rabid right within the GOP – and a much different experience for everyone else.

From Chinless Mitch McConnell not only keeping his job but getting a promotion to House Majority Leader to Senator Inhofe, a man who believes God is controlling everything on and around the earth, taking over as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee – it wasn’t a good night for the people or the planet. The voters handed over the reins to religious zealots, corporate shills, crazy pig castrators (yeah, we mean you, Joni Ernst of Iowa), and a cast of other questionable characters only Hollywood could possibly combine in pursuit of the funniest political comedy ever made.

Except it’s not a movie, and it’s not terribly funny. 

So either the next two years will be a political bottleneck that makes the last six years look like a day at the beach or the respective parties will have to reach across the aisle and do more than slap each other in the face. If they opt for the latter, they’ll have to work together, set aside anger and mistrust, and cooperate for the good of the country. If they opt for the former, President Obama will have to veto nearly everything that comes to him for his signature, and he’ll have to continue using executive orders for anything important that needs to get done. He’ll suffer serious abuse for that, as he already has, but it may be the only way we get anything accomplished at all. And it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll be able to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General, as his administration is already bracing for a fight on his appointment of Loretta Lynch, known for being a strong civil rights defender. That alone will mean that she’s got an uphill battle ahead of her, as civil rights aren’t big with the fetus-loving, gun-toting, Jesus-quoting wingnuts who won the day on November 4th.

“What’s happening??” has been heard more than once since election day, and chances are good we’ll hear it a few more times.

“Who the hell knows?” is about the only answer we’ve got – well, that and this week’s links:

Follow the Money: Who Spent What in the 2014 Election

Did Democrats Fail to Mention Obama’s Accomplishments?

Chinless Mitch and the 90 lbs of Cocaine

Good Luck With That: Obama’s Nominee for Attorney General

Boner Edits Out Key Parts of a Meeting with Obama? No Way!

Right Wing Christian Laws

Remembrance Day: British Poppies in a Beautiful Tribute

Bernie Sanders: Yet Another Great Idea

Inhofe Believes God’s Got Climate Change Solved

Joni Ernst Is One Crazy Lady

Florida Woman Named ISIS Wants a New Acronym

Breast Men: Better Think Twice

Crazy is as crazy does.

October 26, 2014

Click to listen:  

insanity

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein 

If Albert was right, then Americans would be crazy to elect a third member of the Bush family in 2016. The first one got us into Iraq, the second one got us into Iraq and Afghanistan, and made such a mess we’ll be cleaning it up long after the Bush grandchildren have left office.

If Albert was right, Americans would be crazy if they stay home and don’t bother to vote in the 2014 election on November 4. The last time voter turnout was low in a midterm election, we got a Congress-ful of Tea Party wingnuts, religious zealots, and obstructionists who’ve spent their entire time in office preventing any forward momentum on anything that matters to 98% of America.

If Albert was right, Americans would be crazy to sit idly by while their country is sold to huge corporations and a handful of billionaires. Yet that’s what we do every time we vote for people who’ve taken big bucks from oil and gas companies, the big banks, big agribusiness, the pharmaceutical industry, and insurance companies. Who do you think they’ll protect when the chips are down? It ain’t the American people, that’s for sure.

Yep. Albert was right:

My Daddy Wants Probably Wants to Be President

Why That’s Not a Good Thing: The Carlyle Group

All The President’s Men: Ben Bradlee Gets the Last Word

NOW We Care About Ebola?

#TackleEbola

How About a FACTS Czar?

October 19, 2014

Click to listen: 

EbolaFacts

First they cried, “Why won’t Obama appoint an Ebola czar???”  Then they cried, “How could he appoint that guy to be the Ebola czar!?” And soon they’ll be saying, “Why do we need an Ebola czar, anyway?”

And no matter what happens with Ebola, it’ll all be Obama’s fault. Whether we have a handful of infections and all of them survive or thousands catch it and most of them die, whatever happens will be blamed on the President. If it turns out to be no big deal here (let’s not forget it’s a huge deal in several African countries) they’ll say he wasted money on the czar and got us all upset over nothing. If there’s a major outbreak, they’ll say he didn’t act fast enough – as if the President should have been immediately running from hospital to hospital, checking on quarantine procedures and making sure every member of the medical staff knew how to put on and take off his or her hazmat suit. From the right-wing screams coming out of the likes of Rand Paul, Louie Gohmert, Reince Priebus, and of course, the pundits like O’Reilly and Rush, you’d think the President had caught the disease himself and had spent the next 2 weeks riding in planes, buses, and trains, and visiting elementary schools, sneezing and coughing and rubbing up against as many people as he could.

Hey, at least he wasn’t playing golf.

So if Ebola is a distraction – and certainly all the fact-free fear-baiting coming from Faux News and the right-wingnut blogs would say that it is – what are we not looking at?

Well, how about:

The Supreme Court supporting the voter ID law in Texas, keeping hundreds of thousands of Texans from the polls for the 2014 midterm election? There are 600,000 Texans who don’t have the proper ID, and nationwide, the NAACP says 25% of African-Americans and 16% of Latinos of voting age lack a current government-issued photo ID. If that percentage holds in Texas, that means almost half of the people kept from the polls will be the very groups the GOP in that state would love to silence.

Or could it be the fact that there may be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson? That’s sure to cause some unrest, and the cops there are ready and waiting to crack some skulls.

Or is it ISIS? There are lots of things going on with that story, from the UK toying with the idea of charging anyone going to Syria with treason to reports that ISIS could overtake Baghdad to Turkey refusing to cooperate with US support for the Kurds in Syria. Before the Ebola patient arrived and was mis-treated to death, ISIS was the approaching end of the world. What happened?

Voter ADD happened. In our media-drenched world, nobody has the time or real interest to plumb the depths of coverage of any one story and get perspectives from multiple sources. They want quick takes, snappy video clips, and headlines that spin us up just enough to read the first paragraph of any news story. And then it’s back to funny cat videos on YouTube.

The media has ADD, too – brought on, presumably, by the stress of trying to figure out how to weather the demise of print news and reduced viewership for news on TV. Apparently, the solution is advertising – even if it makes people avoid the websites because it drowns out the subject you went to the page to find out about in the first place. Imagine if Walter Cronkite had had to talk over the din of ads being read by people flanking him at the news desk and banners with product names being trotted behind his head. There’s no reverence for news, for facts, for essential information anymore. It’s all just part of the noise.

But hey, does it even matter? When the talking heads aren’t making any sense and our legislators are spewing misinformation on purpose – which the talking heads then repeat, lending credence to their words – does it even matter if nobody’s paying attention to the right stuff?

If you still think it might… here are this week’s links:

Scarier Than Ebola

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

Conservative Candidates Are Offering Us Their Best As The Election Approaches

The SCOTUS Likes the Texas Voter ID Law

No Indictment of Officer Wilson in Ferguson?

ISIS Hasn’t Gone Away, Ya Know… Lots of Updates All in One Place

Think Globally, Vote Locally

October 12, 2014

Click to listen:

vote-like-it-matters

Our guest today was Charlie Hample, running for the PA State House, representing the 97th district. Why have a local PA candidate as a guest when our show is broadcast nearly everywhere but Pennsylvania? Well, there’s this blog /podcast, which does have devoted PA readers/listeners, but more importantly, there’s the sad fact that most Americans won’t bother to vote next month in the midterm election – and we thought perhaps discussing some of the issues facing Pennsylvanians in particular and Americans in general might generate some interest in voting.

Of course the very fact that we even have to think about encouraging people to vote – considering how hard so many people have fought for that right – is pretty sad unto itself. Low voter turnout is an embarrassment to this country. It’s shameful, really, and the apathy and laziness it demonstrates are at the root of virtually all the problems our nation is facing as a whole.

How’s that? Well, imagine if nearly everyone who could vote did vote. Imagine election-day turnouts where 90% or more of the electorate (the people who are eligible to vote) turned up at the polls. Imagine further that the voters knew a lot about the candidates, had read up on the issues, made informed choices when voting, and stayed engaged after casting their ballot and paid attention to which promises were kept and which weren’t and why. If you promise X, deliver X. If you say you’ll fix something, fix it. Or at least go down swinging, trying to make good on your promises. Imagine if because of all that, elected officials were more worried about disappointing voters than they are about raising campaign funds. House representatives in particular spend their entire two years in office drumming up financing for their next run – be it for the same seat or for higher office. That’s a sad fact, too.

Of course, a 90% or better voter turnout is a complete fantasy. The reality is we get a little over half of the eligible voters to vote in a presidential election, and far fewer for midterm elections, largely because people don’t understand that their local and state representatives – and governor – have a bigger impact on their lives than the President ever does. Local and state government is where the regulations that protect your immediate environment, your loved ones, your job – everything and everyone that matters to you personally – are created and enforced. Local and state government decides how education funding is spent. Local and state government decides how well environmental protection agencies are funded and run. Local and state government decide when to raise your school taxes, often in response to reduced state funding from the federal government. So the President who promises to lower your federal income tax may not be doing you any favors if the result is higher property taxes. Neither is the President who won’t raise taxes on the 1% or go after corporations who pay no tax at all, because that lost revenue then comes out of the average 99%er’s pocket.

Amazingly, most Americans don’t know any of this. Most Americans can’t even name their state legislators, and even fewer Americans have any idea what their legislators are up to at the state capitol. And that plays right into the hands of the corporations who want to see regulations lifted, rules made easier to follow, standards lowered. It plays right into the hands of people who seek public office not for the chance to serve their community but to serve themselves and seek higher office after doing time at the local or state level. They’re in perpetual campaign mode, and that means they’re corrupted, obligated, bound to their benefactors. That means they aren’t working for you, their constituents, but for the corporations and vested interests that contributed to their campaigns.

If that sounds OK to you, go about your business on November 4th. Don’t stop to vote on the way to or the way home from work. Don’t go vote at lunch or after dinner. Nah. Why bother?

Because we get the government we deserve, and if you can’t be bothered to vote, if you can’t be bothered to stay informed about what’s happening around you, and if you therefore don’t mind being screwed by the people you’re paying to represent you, the government you get is exactly what you’ve got coming.

This week’s links:

Charlie Hample for the 97th District

Who represents YOU? Click this link to find out!

Voter Registration Info

Find Your Polling Place

Voter Statistics

 

 

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

October 5, 2014

Click to listen: 

BeAfraid

The news lately has been very scary. From the first case of Ebola within the US to the continuing barbarism of ISIS to the Secret Service failing to keep crazy people away from the President to the revelation that we’ve lost half of the wildlife on the planet in the last 40 years, it’s enough to make you reach for a drink.

But then again no, because a recent study shows that beer makes you smarter – and when the news is grim, who wants to be even more aware of it? It’s a bit of a moot point, however, because you’d have to drink 3500 pints of beer a day to get enough of the intelligence-boosting ingredient in beer to realize any increase in IQ. And after 3500 pints, if you’re still alive (which is doubtful), you’d be hard-pressed to tell anyone what day it is, much less explain the intricacies of ISIS, the potential for catching Ebola, how to fix the Secret Service, or what the hell happened to half of the world’s wildlife.

There are some simple takeaways from the news, however.

First, war is really profitable. The stock values of companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman have been rising steadily since August, enjoying a bump from our attacks on ISIS in Syria and Iraq. No wonder we’ve been at war for going on 20 years now. And no wonder the fear-mongers over at FOX are all humping the furniture, unable to contain their lust for military action. “Judge” Jeanine Pirro really lost her mind in a screed about ISIS that you have to see to believe.

As for Ebola, the CDC apparently survived the 5% reduction in their budget (thanks to the sequester – remember that??) better than the Secret Service survived their cuts and the loss of 550 agents. We’re assured the patient hasn’t infected anyone else, but they’re watching everyone he might have had contact with very carefully. If they try to run across the White House lawn and into the building, however, nobody’s going to stop them.

And it turns out that humans are really bad for the environment. Who knew you can’t chop down most of the rainforests, pour toxic muck into the watershed, and heat up the planet by burning every fossil fuel you can get your hands on without causing some damage?

Got all that? Confused? Frightened? Not yet?

Then check out this week’s links:

The GOP Tackles ISIS:

It Would Be Funny If it Weren’t So Scary

Jeanine Pirro’s ISIS/ISIL Fear-Baiting Screed:

The Scary Video

The Scary Transcript

And Now for Some Facts About ISIS:

The Truth About the Threat from ISIS

The Military Industrial Complex Cashing in on ISIS

Secularists? Really?

Scalia Says the US Constitution Can Favor Religion

One Year Later: Has the GOP Learned Anything?

The Government Shutdown

The Stupid, It Burns:

He’s Baaaack! Crooked Tom DeLay Won’t Go Away

Ebola: Coming To Getcha?

EBOLA! Run! Or Not…

Weaponized Ebola

And if All That Doesn’t Scare You, Check THIS Out:

We’ve Killed Half the Species on the Planet in the Last 40 Years

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