Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wonder Who Bush and Cheney Left Burrowed in the Food Regulation Bureaucracy

Molly Ivins used to say that if you really want to see the difference between Republicans and Democrats, look at food safety.  Republicans were in charge of the federal government for 8 years and now the Democrats for a little over two. In the game of staffing the federal bureaucracy, Obama has a long way to go to even undo the damage the Cheney administration did.

Like unemployment and food stamp use, a lot of what comes out of the government in terms of regulation is a kind of lagging indicator. So, yes, we are still seeing results of the Bush/Cheney administration.When you inherit a government that Bush/Cheney had de-fanged when it comes to regulatory prowess, what's a guy supposed to do?

With that in mind, this piece in the NY Times tells me that even a basic thing like food identification has become a difficult thing for the government to enforce. And with austerity becoming the buzzword in Washington, I don't expect Obama to be able to do much to reverse the damage any time soon. Even a lot of Democrats are suckling on the Big Ag teat, and it's hard to regulate businesses when they basically buy the politicians and write the laws.

I recently read about meat glue that they use to put pieces of lesser cuts together into a T-bone. There's all kinds of food safety horrors that evolved during lax regulatory years of Republican corporatocracy. Fits right in with the lax environmental regulation, financial regulation, and all the other things that government is supposed to do that Republicans would rather do away with.

These are things that happen because George W. Bush and Richard Cheney hated regulation and did everything they could to make sure the government either didn't do it, or did it badly. And the Bushistas had 8 years to put cronies in charge regulating their old frat buddies' businesses.

Generally speaking, Republicans are from rural areas that produce food and giant ag companies that want to slip shit past the consumer, and Democrats are from cities, where the consumers are. So, there's that.

The Bushies (i.e. Cheney) were especially adept at putting foxes in charge of hen houses, and then the industries that got helped hired the very people who helped them.

Some people even got left behind, so-called "burrowing" that Cheney was doing at the end of that nightmare.

Additionally, before leaving office, the Bush administration aggressively placed political appointees into permanent civil service positions as part of a process known as “burrowing.” Some of the burrowed former political appointees have close ties to Cheney, such as Jeffrey T. Salmon, who was a speechwriter for Cheney when he served as defense secretary. In July, he was named deputy director for resource management in the Energy Department’s Office of Science.

So, yeah, Cheney's dark forces really did a number on a lot of things like this, especially for energy companies. Remember, these are the boys that brought you everything from Enron to Iraq to most of the debt they're trying to blame on Obama.

Follow the money.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Does Jesus Know Everything?

Perhaps a better question is: why do so many Christians ignore their own book?

in reference to:

"13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."
- SAB, Mark 13 (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Argument from Ignorance

Ezra Klein makes the argument that there's no evidence that higher taxes on the wealthy hinder growth. In fact, there is evidence to the contrary, as Ezra points out with this graph:

When has the absence of evidence (or even evidence to the contrary) ever stopped a Republican from doing (or not doing) something (See: Iraq, Global Warming, et al)?

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." --Donald Rumsfeld

"Appeal to ignorance -- the claim that whatever has not been proved false must be true, and vice versa (e.g., there is no compelling evidence that UFOs are not visiting the Earth; therefore UFOs exist -- and there is intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Or: there may be seventy kazillion other worlds, but not one is known to have the moral advancement of the Earth, so we're still central to the Universe.) This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phrase: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." -- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: (Chapter 12 - The Fine Art of Baloney Detection)

Herein lies the rub. Republicans don't care about facts.  They are not constrained by reality or science. They make up whatever they need and ignore everything to the contrary. So why do we try to reason with them logically? Seems like a waste of time.

One answer is that they must be mocked, ruthlessly and endlessly, for ignoring facts. This is why Stephen Colbert is so funny and necessary. Under Citizens United, facts mean even less, and money even more, which benefits the party that is weak on facts and strong on money. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

George Bush is Responsible for the High Rate of Food Stamp Consumption

As someone who's depended on food stamps a few times in his life, I'll start by saying it's a great program that really helps people who most need it. It is a valuable stitch in a safety net Republicans love to unravel and denigrate. And Newt Gingrich, who has certainly studied his Lee Atwater, certainly knows that the mere mention of food stamps conjures up, for many white Americans, images of black people taking advantage of the program (young bucks buying T-bones is the racist image here). Here's Atwater quote:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.

So when Newt Gingrich calls Obama the Food Stamp President, he knows damn well he's blowing the dog whistle.

But it's more than just racism here. This is Newt's shifting of the blame for the economy on Obama. Newt knows damn well what most Americans don't: food stamp consumption is the Ultimate Lagging Indicator in a bad economy.

Have a look at the ebb and flow of food stamp consumption and you'll see that the economic lag can be 2 to 4 years. It actually makes sense for this number to begin peaking at this moment, 7 quarters from the trough of business activity. It probably gets worse before it gets better, but it holds no sway over the prospects for our recovery.

Fact is, a whole lot more people are hungry (and homeless, broke, without health care, unemployed, and all the other bad things that happen during recessions), because Republican ideology, implemented by President George W Bush, ruined the US economy. Tax cuts for the rich didn't create jobs, and deregulation led to the Inside Job that was the Wall Street Fiasco.

Watch for Newt and the rest of the Insane Clowns to keep trying to shift the blame for Bush's debt, and Bush's economy, onto Obama. And note that under the dog whistle of the southern strategy, the GOP's got a whole lot of blame shifting going on.

So much for the party of responsibility for your actions.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rand Paul Doesn't Care About Slavery

Rand Paul has equated a right to health care with enslaving doctors. For an eye doctor, he really doesn't see things very clearly, so I'm going to spell it out for him in a way he can understand.

Under universal health care, doctors still get paid. They are also free to leave the profession if they find obeying their hippocratic oath too much of a burden in exchange for making very good money. They would also be entitled to receive said health care, as they are people too.

Contrast that to, say, some black men from Africa coming to his house, capturing him, shipping him and a bunch of other white guys in a torture chamber of a ship to Africa where he is treated as property, tortured daily, and forced to work (of course, working as a doctor is much better than working in the fields or mines). Oh, and he would barely be fed enough to keep him alive, be forced to live in a shack, his wife and daughters regularly raped, and his children could be bought and sold by his master.

That Senator Paul would make such a grotesque comparison proves that he has forgotten what actual slaves went through (assuming he believed it when he was taught it, which assumes that he was taught about slavery), and that his argument against health care as a right has reached a point of such strained metaphor that it is revealing his true perspective on matters of race.

Because, really, could he be so ignorant of the history of slavery? Doubtful. Even dumbasses know what real slavery is like. Senator Paul is just pushing his usual bullshit hyperbole, and he doesn't care if it's insulting to the descendants of slaves, or anyone else who cherishes human rights. He only cares about getting and keeping everything he can into the hands of rich people (who happen to mostly be white).

So, if you're stuck working for next to nothing with no health care, living in a shack, getting beaten by cops for no reason, or thrown in prison on a bullshit charge that white people get away with all the time, Rand Paul thinks it's your own damn fault, and that if you dare suggest, as the Pope does, that basic health care is your right, then you are just trying to enslave him.

It takes a special kind of assholedness to argue something like that, the kind that apparently makes the good people of Kentucky vote for you. Which, of course, proves that southerners really do want to see the south rise again.

in reference to:

"I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care. You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be."
- ThinkProgress » Rand Paul: If You Believe In A Right To Health Care, ‘You Believe In Slavery’ (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

IOKIYAR is Pretty Common

Oh, and Ted Nugent sucks.

in reference to:

"As it turns out, Common could apparently dispose of this part of the controversy rather inexpensively. Departed NWA rapper Eazy-E, for whom violent rhetoric about police constituted a pre-breakfast warmup, scored an invite to an event headlined by then-President George H.W. Bush on the strength of some charitable donations. The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s then-Director of Communications, Wendy Burnley, said of E’s appearance, “Democrats, eat your hearts out!”"
- Sean Hannity | Common | Ted Nugent | Mediaite (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, May 06, 2011

Children Suing to Protect the Future

I've always wondered why our children haven't sued over what we're doing to the planet. We're leaving them an environmental mess. Once upon a time, even conservatives thought the government should protect the environment.

Those conservatives are long gone. They've been replaced by a party of vicious thugs (Ayn Randians who think the poor, gays, minorities, and even the old are parasites) funded by richer thugs who tell them what to do.

They pass laws gutting regulations, appoint their own regulators, and control the courts, so they can go on polluting, pillaging, and accumulating wealth, while shifting the real costs on to future generations.

And yet the Republicans seem so smug when they, the ones who created most of the debt, suggest that we shouldn't pass that down to the kids. Sorry, but there goes your future retirement and health care, kiddos. You keep paying in now, and all you'll get back when you're old is a coupon for something you can't afford.

Sorry kids. Some of us are trying to do the right thing, but this is a corporatocracy. And the corporate class is winning the class war.

You have one hope: sue us. Law suits sometimes attract corporate attention. If the legislature won't get you justice, your only hope is with the courts.

Of course, this is the most corporate Supreme Court in history. So, good luck with that.

Oh, yeah, and if you'd really like to make an impact on protecting the environment and the economy? Don't vote Republican, and be sure to vote in every election (even those mid-terms).

in reference to:

"Attorneys representing the children and teenagers filed yesterday, or are preparing to file, 52 separate lawsuits and petitions based on a novel legal theory: that the government has failed in its duty to protect the atmosphere as a "public trust" for future generations."
- Young Activists Sue U.S., States Over Greenhouse Gas Emissions - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

These are the people Republicans want to leave behind

It's small change by US budget standards, of course, but this is the kind of "bleeding heart" stuff Republicans hate, and would cut, leaving these people to die in the streets. Go read the whole thing and note the numbers on veterans who are homeless--is this the way we treat people who fought for our freedom? It is if your support of the troops ends with putting a bumper sticker on your car.

in reference to: Homelessness Is Not Just About Housing (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Racism by Inference

Michael Eric Dyson nails The Donald with this devastating fact that Trump can never understand, followed by a body blow to the gasbag's ego. Ouch. Welcome to the big leagues, Trumpies. Good luck in the primaries!

in reference to:

""Skepticism about black intelligence and suspicion about black humanity have gone hand in hand throughout the history of this country in feeding the perception that black people don't quite measure up." "The reality is that Barack Obama has been called to account by a man who has nothing near the intellectual credibility or the social standing that the president has,""
- Dyson: Trump propagating "racism by inference" - Face The Nation - CBS News (view on Google Sidewiki)