Sunday, February 27, 2011

Republican Attack on America Abetted By Democrat Collaborators

The Republicans are poised for their final push to destroy America.  The Republican agenda seeks to dismantle all government oversight of business and industry and plague the world with toxic pollutants and useless, dangerous products; to hand over government buildings and infrastruture to GOP plutocrats like the Koch brothers; to plunder Social Security and Medicare for private gain; to strip workers of their right to organize and redress grievances; to wreck any chance of economic recovery by slashing the nation's investments and unleashing a $5 gas attack.

Every step of the way, the Republican plutocrats and their white supremacist minions have had insidious help among the Democrats.  It is not just that Democratic politicians also sought to curry favor with the GOP's plutocrat masters.  It is not just that President Barack Obama styled himself a progressive when he was in fact a tool of corporate plutocracy.  It is that Americans abdicated their role as informed, engaged participants in the democratic process and allowed a fringe of Tea Party extremists, racist sociopaths and plutocrats with visions of godhood to hijack the democratic process.

Take Barack Obama. Remember when Hillary Clinton was supposed to be the shoo-in for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008? Then, a blitz by corporate media raised Obama, out of nowhere, to frontrunner status. The corporate media gave some weak excuse about Obama's grassroots organization, but in fact it was the unrelenting drumbeat on the newsnets that kept Obama atop the 24-hour news cycle and foremost in the minds of Americans. Then, progressive white Americans committed the intellectual crime common to all progressive white Americans: they assumed that because Obama was black,  he must also be a progressive.

Yet, it was obvious throughout the campaign that he was solidly to the right of Hillary, who is herself a centrist.  That the corporate newsnets were relentlessly pushing Obama while disappearing Hillary was a clear signal that Obama was their dog in the fight.

So, now, while the Republicans offer Americans the choice between a total government shutdown or a government so crippled it cannot function, Obama and Congressional Democrats only bicker about the size of the cuts and the severity of the crippling, rather than bringing the fight to the plutocrats by addressing vital revenue reform to eliminate the plutocrats' reign of terror. While Republicans destroy the American workforce with layoffs, offshoring, and union-busting, Obama and the Congressional Democrats stand aside offering only muted support for labor ideals.  While Republicans scheme to plunder Social Security and Medicare, Obama and the Democrats mumble about finding bipartisan solutions.  Anyone who believes it is a good idea to hand the Social Security trust funds and Medicare accounts to GOP plutocrats in exchange for worthless IOUs and vouchers simply has rocks in his head.

The Republicans took thirty years to destroy America.  They dismantled the nation's public school system, the cornerstone of democracy, so that, while the wealthy could send their kids to private schools, poor whites would homeschool their children on misinterpretations of the Bible and racist hatred. They crippled the nation's ability to insure safe food and water, to curb unfettered investment and banking frauds, and to forestall industrial environmental disasters. They eviscerated the nation's manufacturing and service economies with gratuitous mergers, layoffs and offshoring.  They did all this by fostering a tax code that enabled them to accumulate unprecedented wealth and power and incentivized profiteering at the expense of the economic security and physical well-being of the American people.

And, every step of the way, Democrats enabled, abetted and ignored the GOP onslaught.

The final Republican push is at hand. Unless the GOP is stopped at any cost, the cost will be your freedom.

Friday, February 25, 2011

GOP Launches Full Court Press Against America

With Legacy Dictator Moammar Khadafy providing a helpful excuse, the oil moguls of the Republican Party have accelerated their $5 gas attack on the American people.  The attack began two months ago, before Mideast turmoil gave the oil barons welcomed cover.  The culprit du jour is supposedly Libya, despite the fact that Libya produces less than 2% of the world's oil, not a drop of which reaches the U.S. The GOP plutocrats and their minions launched this attack to destroy America's nascent economic recovery. The GOP's ultimate goal is not to create jobs or balance budgets. Their goal is to destroy the institutions and government of the United States of America.

The $5 gas attack is part of the GOP's multi-pronged assault on America's people and institutions.  On Capitol Hill, the Republicans are forcing a budget battle choice between a total government shutdown or a government so utterly crippled by gratuitous budget cuts that it cannot function. In state houses across the nation, Republicans are slashing workers' collective bargaining rights with the goal of bringing down the unions and proscribing people's ability to organize against the Republican plutocrats at all.  And, in every household in America, the Republican oil moguls are gouging consumers to both fatten their coffers and destroy any fledgling economic recovery.

The Republicans are in a state of rebellion against the government and people of the United States. As Paul Krugman pointed out in his column, America today most resembles Iraq in the aftermath of Bush's invasion, when Paul Bremmer and the Coalition Provisional Authority focused on privatizing that nation's institutions instead of trying to restore order and functionality to the country.

The CPA's focus then was a mass giveaway to corporations and cronies, just as the GOP's focus today is to dismantle America's institutions toward the same end.

The situation brings to mind the evolution of the uber-capitalist plutocracies that today run Russia and China. When Communism fell in Russia, American plutocrats welcomed the rise of gangster oligarchs who took over Russia's "means of production."  When China opened up its economy, America welcomed the rise of their plutocrats while ignoring the human rights of a billion Chinese.

The GOP is a coalition of plutocrats, who covet the wild west brand of naked capitalism they see in China and Russia, and racist white separatists and Neo-Confederates who wish to destroy the United States and impose a white-dominated religious state.

The Republicans are in fact implementing regime change.  The current regime is a democracy.  The GOP's goal is a plutocracy.  Thirty years of gradually eroding America's social and governmental institutions in favor of unbridled plutocracy has brought the GOP within sight of their goal.

Those who oppose the Republicans are focused on individual battles for this unions' right to organize or that budget item's vital role in Americans' lives.  It is vital that people recognize the Republicans' full court press as an all-out attack on all of America's institutions simultaneously.  The GOP goal is not budget reform.  The GOP goal is to destroy the government and institutions of the United States and to bring about a new order where plutocrats reign and human rights are abolished. 

The primary weapon against the GOP would be effective tax reform, which would restore services, schools, innovation and infrastructure to functionality while gutting the plutocrats ability to buy influence and foment rebellion.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Progressive Tax Reform Would Fix Budget Ills

During the French Revolution, the populace, fed up with the corruption and excesses of a super-wealthy ruling class, took power into their own hands and executed the ruling elite. Americans today are engaged in a sort of anti-French Revolution.  Urged on by Fox News and plutocrats like the Koch brothers, Americans, fed up with the corruption and excesses of a super-wealthy ruling class, are demanding that the ruling elite be granted more power and wealth, and are clamoring to thrust their own heads into the guillotine.

The GOP must be astonished that the American electorate simply doesn't understand that there is no need for the vast majority of Americans to pay as much in taxes as they do, when reasonable taxation of the super-wealthy would provide all the government services and oversight everyone might need.

It is no wonder that the GOP and their captive media spend every moment screaming about budget deficits, government shutdowns, privatizing Social Security, eliminating Medicare, busting unions, and machine-gunning protesters.  They cannot believe the American people don't see that raising taxes on a few rich people would solve all the nation's fiscal problems. They are sure they have to keep yelling as loudly and threateningly as possible, lest anyone notice the income tax code is pathologically screwy.

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has put forth the following simple schedule that would balance the nation's budget and eliminate deficits:
  • $0-$50,000: 0 taxes (that's right, zero)
  • $50,000-$90,000: 10%
  • $90,000-$150,000: 20%
  • $150,000-$250,000: 30%
  • $250,000-$500,000: 40%
  • $500,000-$5 million: 50%
  • $5 million-$15 million: 60%
  • $15 million on up: 70%
Reich would exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes, and raise the ceiling on the portion subject to payroll taxes to $500,000. Budgets would be balanced, everyone making $250,000 or less would have their taxes lowered, and the Koch brothers would still clear billions and billions for any number of yachts, private jets, ice sculptures and high-priced, er, entertainment consultants. 

The Republicans keep screaming because they can't understand why anybody with a functioning brain wouldn't implement Reich's tax schedule.  Instead, the budget debate is about which vital services will be cut, threatening the lives and well-being of millions of people.

They've got to feel like Marie Antoinette standing around the edge of the Place de la Revolution, dressed in a silk gown, sipping champagne, nibbling caviar, and wondering why the peasants are fighting each other to be first to thrust his or her head into the guillotine.

"Kill me first!" cries a farmer.

"No, me!" cries an accountant.

"No, kill my baby first!" cries a washerwoman.

Marie fingers her lace fan and frets that sooner or later, someone just has to notice her standing there.

And yet, the GOP continues to get away with distracting the electorate with their continuous harangue for more tax breaks for the wealthy, deeper service cuts for everyone else, eliminating labor unions, and stealing the Social Security Trust Fund.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Union Busters Hit a Speedbump

The Grand Old Party's union-buster express hit a bit of a speedbump when a new USA Today/Gallup poll revealed 61% of Americans opposed the Republican's pet agenda to slash collective bargaining rights for state workers.

Despite Americans' increasing revulsion, Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker plowed ahead with the union-busting gambit, spearheaded by a new multi-million dollar ad blitz funded by the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity front. The radio and television blitzkrieg will start tomorrow, adding to the right-wing clamor already coming from the corporate news networks.

In the face of the unified media disinformation campaign, what's most astonishing is that as many as 61% of those polled were well-informed enough to make a cogent decision on the question. This is noteworthy, considering how the traditional media had incessantly attempted to frame the issue as greedy union workers bankrupting a state by refusing to make concessions on overly generous wages and benefits they didn't deserve.  Somehow, word got out that the employes were more than willing to negotiate on wages and pensions, but the GOP wanted to proscribe their right to negotiate at all.

And this is on top of similar poll results from Ohio where a whopping 88% told the Columbus Dispatch they backed collective bargaining rights for state workers there.

Perhaps the message leaked out through Facebook and Twitter.

It may have been fear of information leaking through the worldwide web that prompted Walker and his masters to take an action that garnered the Tea Party darling the new moniker "Hosni" Walker. For a considerable period today, the protestors' website had been blocked from the state capitol's wifi.

Under a wave of outcry, the Teapublican powerbrokers restored access to the site late in the day.

As protests spread to Indiana and Ohio, perhaps poll results such as those in USA Today and the Columbus Dispatch can help encourage Democratic leaders to decide they are in fact stalwart champions of the American working people. Many of them have remained quietly shuffling along the sidelines, timidly sniffing the wind for some sign that might indicate to them what they think.

Meanwhile, Hosni Walker remains defiant in his palace, waiting for the Koch brothers to send more thugs to reinforce the counter-demonstrations and to begin the media blitz on local versions of Egyptian State Television.

Monday, February 21, 2011

America Isn't Broke

From Capitol Hill to state houses across America, one hears the refrain, mostly from Republicans, that "America is broke."  We need draconian cuts to services because America is broke. We need to privatize Social Security and Medicare because America is broke.

Folks, America isn't broke. The Koch brothers are not broke. Rupert Murdoch isn't broke. I'm sure John Boehner has a couple of platinum cards in his wallet. America isn't broke. The U.S. government just hasn't sent out a proper billing statement for running the richest, most powerful nation in history.

America doesn't have a deficit problem. America has a revenue problem.

As former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich pointed out in his column Sunday, President Barack Obama's framing the budget debate on where and how much to cut just lets the Republicans set the propaganda goalposts for this debate.

Focusing on cuts creates the impression that cuts could somehow result in some sort of solution to our budget shortfalls. In fact, no amount of cutting can extricate the nation from dire straights.  Either the cuts would be insufficient to address the problem, or too great for the nation to survive intact.

The solution lies only in finding more revenue. The top corporations and richest individuals are awash in countless billions in cash. A simple, reasonable progressive income tax, with rates that would actually be lower for nearly all Americans and higher for a tiny sliver of wealthy plutocrats, would solve any budget problem.  There would be no need to abolish unions, destroy collective bargaining or to resort to free prison labor. And the capitalists most staunchly opposed to their taxes being raised would benefit from a more prosperous nation with a healthy economy.

But revenue is off the table.  Only cuts will be discussed.  Entitlements must be abolished.

The stage is set for the privatization of Social Security, and Wall Street can't wait to get their hands on the Social Security Trust Fund. The plutocrats see trillions of dollars within their reach.

Of course, there is no hope a bunch of Wall Street money changers could keep the nation's retirement savings secure.  These yahoos will blow the whole wad on booze and hookers before the ink is dry on the last dollar bill.

Who would believe guys who tank the economy at a pace of once per presidential administration would be trustworthy guardians of your retirement?  Fortunately, the plutocrats running this game own all the media and marketing outlets on the Earth, so they're pretty confident they can pull off their con.

And if the televised talking heads soft peddling social security privatization don't get the job done, the perps have their thugs in the wings as well.

The Republican Party has increasingly devolved into a a smal cadre of ultra-rich trans-national plutocrats and their hangers-on teamed with a motley collection of assorted Neo-Confederates and white separatists from the annals of the Southern Poverty Law Center's hatewatch pages. In the latest round of union busting in Wisconsin, we see the Koch brothers sending tea party enthusiasts as counter demonstrators against the grass roots protesters fighting to keep collective bargaining rights for state employes. It's pretty clear Republicans can just as easily tap the vast pool of racist extremists, anti-government militias, and Neo-Confederate revisionists at their disposal. Think Mubarak sending his thugs into Liberation Square, with the Koch brothers as Mubarak and the extremists as the thugs. GOP Rep. Paul Ryan was quoted in Paul Krugman's column Sunday saying,  "It's like Cairo moved to Madison."

With Obama having framed the nation's budget debate on cuts instead of revenue, and having put Social Security on the table with his statement that Democrats and Republicans must come together to discuss entitlement reform, the field has been cleared for the plutocrats to grab the Social Security trust fund.

And Americans will lose their retirement money while America slips ever deeper into a chasm of debt created by the systematic plundering by rampant plutocrats.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Budget: A Noh Play From the Beltway

Gather 'round kiddies, and Wonkronk will tell you about a traditional Japanese Noh play being performed right here in our nation's Capitol. It's called The Budget, and President Barack Obama, the Republican-led House, and the Democrat-led Senate have crafted a wonderful drama that combines all the classic elements of Noh theater.  The show is long, tedious, highly stylized, and features jerky moves, screeching dialogue and is all very symbolic and reassuringly predictable. Oh yes, and everyone wears masks.

Here is how it goes: The Republicans in the House have 87 new members from the Tea Party, who are determined to balance the Budget by slashing billions and billions of dollars from vital public services while coddling the richest, most powerful evil Lords on Earth. The President wants to thwart the Tea Partisans by proposing a Budget that slashes slightly fewer billions and billions of dollars from vital public services while coddling the richest, most powerful evil Lords on Earth.  The Tea Partisans declare no such blasphemy will occur, and spread their peacock feathers and strut around proudly in the traditional peacock dance. Annoying Japanese stringed instruments screech loudly.

Meanwhile, if a Budget agreement isn't reached by March 4, the whole United States Government will shut down, and poor Tiny Tim won't get his operation and will die. Tiny Tim is making a cameo from Dickens.

The Tea Partisans force the Republican leaders to pass their onerous proposal through the House, but the President vows to veto it and the Senate won't go along with it anyway.  Screeching strings.

But Senate Democrats and Republicans come up with a bipartisan compromise very near the President's original proposal, with perhaps a few more billions and billions slashed from vital public services than the President will have liked, but far fewer billions and billions than the Tea Partisans wanted.

The House and Senate now must agree.  The Tea Partisans won't be budged, but the Republican leader gathers enough votes that, along with votes from all the Democrats, the Tea Partisans are shut out, and the compromise resolution is hailed as a victory for bipartisan cooperation. Thus, the Tea Partisans can go back to their constituents and say they'd given it the ol' college try. Screech!

Of course, the budget cuts were aimed at only the tiny 12% discretionary spending portion of the Budget without touching revenue, defense or social security and medicare/medicaid entitlements, so the Budget deficit ends up not being addressed at all, while countless millions of Americans, especially the poorest, most elderly and infirm among them, are ruthlessly body slammed repeatedly onto a forest of razor-sharp samurai swords.

But the richest, most powerful evil Lords of the Earth are pleased, and Wall Street careens wildly into its next bubble.

Oh, and Tiny Tim dies.

Now, what could possibly go wrong?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Media Buries Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Issue

Wisconsin Republican state legislators and Governor Scott Walker moved to strip collective bargaining rights from state workers, thousands protested, and Democratic legislators fled the state to prevent the required quorum for a vote.  Meanwhile, network television news framed the issue in such a way that the casual viewer would think that greedy unions were refusing to make wage and benefit concessions in spite of gaping budget deficits.

The networks passed over the collective bargaining issue, which is the actual crux of the conflict.

While the Governor is calling for wage and benefit concessions, and asking public workers to contribute more to their pension plans, the primary issue at stake is the collective bargaining agreement. The network news played up the wage and benefit concessions, but failed to explain the slashing of collective bargaining rights.

For example, the CBS Evening News displayed a graphic featuring four bullet points outlining the issues and anchor Katie Couric's voice-over explained the bullet points relating to the wage, benefit and pension plan issues. The fourth bullet point read "Collective bargaining agreement," but Couric's voice-over did not explain what that bullet point meant.

A viewer who wasn't already informed on the topic would have no idea that the collective bargaining issue was the heart of the matter, and, if the viewer hadn't been watching the screen for the few seconds the bullet point appeared, wouldn't even know the issue existed.

The net effect would be to make the viewer believe that the state workers were simply being intransigent during a time when everyone else was making sacrifices to keep the state going. Obviously, the intent is to make viewers believe the state workers shouldn't be entitled to generous wages and benefits everyone else wasn't getting.

The CBS Evening News had found a clever way to report the news and mislead its viewers at the same time.

For many years, going after unions has been the fashionable thing to do. Wide swaths of the electorate fall for the "I don't get those kinds of benefits, why should they?" ruse without considering that perhaps they themselves should be getting the same kinds of protections and benefits, and organizing toward that end.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Republicans Poised to Dismantle America

Doesn't anybody get it?  Republicans are a coalition of wealthy trans-national plutocrats and poor social conservatives including Neo-Confederates, white separatists and evangelical supremacists whose de facto goal is to dismantle the United States. For thirty years, they have degraded the nation through revenue strangulation, and are now poised to make their final push. They are giving the country a choice between shutting down the government completely, or fatally crippling it with draconian defunding of vital services.

The notion that they are concerned with deficit reduction is completely specious. Attacking a portion of the federal budget that represents a mere 12% of federal spending while ignoring lavish outlays to defense contractors and refusing to consider revenue is not effective deficit reduction, but it is a very effective way to destroy the mechanisms of government.

And destroying the government is the avowed goal of Neo-Confederates and white separatists.  Meanwhile, the plutocrats who fund the Republican bash covet the sort of wild west capitalism they see their cronies in China and Russia enjoying.

The plutocrats intentionally create these deficits to fatten their bottom lines. For example,Wisconsin, where state workers' benefits are under fire, presently enjoys a budget surplus, but their new Republican governor, in office for six weeks, has created a projected state budget deficit by giving gratuitous tax breaks to international corporations doing business in the state.

Ground level social conservatives are only interested in eliminating governement services because they want to withhold those services from people of color who they hate.

Appeasement is impossible, because the plutocrats demand tax subsidies followed by deregulation followed by immunity ad infinitum.  The social conservatives demand separation of races, followed by elevation of whites over other races, followed by explusion of other races, followed by the restoration of some hazy utopian vision of an antebellum South.

Regardless of whatever the Republicans vision of the future might include, their de facto goal is to destroy Social Security (which is solvent and would remain so for 50 years), Medicare, eliminate all oversight of business and industry, and plunge the nation into a dark age of ignorance and racist and religious persecution.