The past two weeks have defined the ugliness of the modern Republican Party. Other than John McCain and a precious few others, the party’s leaders were on the wrong side of the torture debate. They blindly shielded the Bush regime’s crimes against humanity. Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia even said that it’s “not clear” that torture is wrong and unconstitutional. Former Vice President Dick Cheney dismissed the landmark Senate report on torture as “full of crap.”
If anyone should know about being full of crap it’s Dick Cheney. He is truly the undisputed expert. Why people still listen to this repugnant fool is a mystery. He should be in jail, not on FOX news.
In the last election, Washington, DC residents voted to legalize marijuana. But the petty congressional dictators in the GOP used the budget process to defund the implementation of this law. In doing so, they stripped DC voters of their rights. If such a violation of sovereignty had happened in Texas, believe me, there would be calls for secession, probably led by Gov. Rick Perry.
The Republican Party used the budget process to ensure that rich donors could write seven figure checks to political parties. Right now, an individual can only give $32,400 to a single party committee, such as the Republican National Committee. Under the proposed new rules, a couple could contribute up to $3.1 million, according to the group Public Citizen.
These Republicans, and their buddies on the Supreme Court, have hijacked this democracy and essentially created a category of wealthy super citizens – who have unrivaled access and influence over our elections and laws. Members of Congress have become no more than puppets, where special interests pull the strings.
Apparently, Republicans also breathe different air than the rest of us. This might explain why the budget cuts funds to the Environmental Protection Agency. The budget prohibits the Army Corps of engineers from regulating farm ponds and irrigation ditches under the Clean Water Act. I guess Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann aren’t the only toxic cesspools embraced by Republicans.
The budget proposal also gives $64 billion for military excursions in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. I guess we have fixed all our bridges and schools in America and provided people with working wages. Thus, we have spare billions lying around to funnel into the Middle East morass.
The most disturbing aspect of the budget, of course, is the GOP’s giveaway to Citigroup – where they inserted a measure in the $1.1 trillion spending bill that would gut a provision in Dodd/Frank that shielded taxpayers from having to bailout banks that gambled on risky derivatives. Thanks to the Republican Party it’s all gain for the banks – and all pain for the taxpayers.
This moment is a crucible for the Tea Baggers. They were allegedly created to oppose government bailouts and frivolous government handouts to banks – like the ones in this budget proposal. Yet, I’ve always said the supposed economic concerns of the Tea Party are nothing more than a ruse to conceal their anti-immigration and anti-gay religious right agenda. Their tepid opposition to the spending bill is proving my point.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass) historic speech opposing these regressive measures was a true coming out party. She elevated her status from liberal folk hero to a legitimate contender for president – that has the ability to woo Independents.
She came out swinging. She did something very rare in Washington. She named names and kicked butts — particularly the behind of Citigroup. Warren shredded them. She portrayed them as an octopus with tentacles sucking the life out of Washington – and she is right.
This was a public relations nightmare for Citigroup. Whatever they gain financially by this vulgar legislation, Citigroup lost significantly more in the hit their reputation endured. Believe me, as a former public relations worker, I can guarantee that Citigroup officials are spending late nights in conference calls or meetings with their high-priced DC public affairs teams.
Forget the Tea Baggers: Elizabeth Warren is now the voice of the middle class and those who feel they aren’t getting a fair shake in America. And judging by dissatisfaction in the polls – this frustrated group makes up the majority of voters.
I think Warren’s daring speech makes it a coin toss on who would win the Democratic nomination for president. I love Hillary Clinton and I love Elizabeth Warren. Each potential candidate has strengths and weaknesses.
But in a time when people are fed up with Washington – which candidate represents a break from the past? Particularly if Jeb Bush gets the Republican nomination – and it looks like he’s running.
This was a major political week in Washington, DC where the GOP showed they aren’t with the middle class – and Elizabeth Warren rose from the middle of the pack to the top of the class.Read More »
It appears that Jeb Bush is gearing up to run for the White House. The question is whether America is ready for another Bush? This question is especially true now that George W. Bush is back in the news, defending the CIA over allegations of torture.
I think his name is a positive in that he comes from a family with connections and 100% name recognition. So, he doesn’t have to take months spending gobs of money to introduce himself to the country.
But the Bush name is a double-edged sword. It is absolute poison to half of the country. It doesn’t help that the last Bush is dumb as rocks and will go down as one of the worst presidents of all time. Furthermore, at a time when Americans are frustrated and angry – do they want to return to a familiar name that is equated with the establishment? The status quo?
But, in fairness, you can also make the same argument against Hillary running. But the Clinton legacy is equated with a booming economy of historic proportions. While the Bush name – both father and son are deeply associated with recessions.
Voters mistakenly believe that Bush is moderate – and I suppose he is if you compare him to creeps like Ted Cruz and Michelle Bachmann. But, he’s actually quite conservative on social issues.
A Southern Baptist leader, Russell Moore, visited Jeb at his Miami-office earlier this year. According to the New York Times, he came away impressed. He said that Jeb “wasn’t embarrassed” about his staunch opposition to gay marriage and abortion from his time as Florida’s governor.
It seems that Bush has two problems with conservatives in the GOP primaries: His support for Common Core education standards – which 58% of Republican parents are against. And, his support for comprehensive immigration reform. I think he can overcome the former, but the latter is a poison pill that will be too much to swallow. I’ve seen some of the protests up and personal. Many of these Tea Bagger-types hate immigration with a special passion only rivaled by Religious Right hatred for gay people in the early 1990’s.
Immigration may be Jeb’s undoing.Read More »
The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Saturday that a medical marijuana dispensary under consideration in the Chicago neighborhood of Lakeview is facing opposition from some residents.
One fear is the potential for crime. In the article, one opponent, Galina Kapustina, says: “Every single person in there has cash and every single person walking out has marijuana in their pocket.”
But, she’s identified as a wardrobe stylist. I’d venture to say that the customers who walk into her boutique also have cash in their pocket. In fact, I’d venture to say that the average medical marijuana purchase costs a lot less than a style makeover.
The Sun Times points out that there are studies that prove there is “no link between dispensaries and an increase in crime.” This has to do with beefed up security.
The reaction by some residents is the typical hysteria that comes any time marijuana is mentioned. It is baseless. It is full of fear. It bereft of fact. Why would anyone want to deny suffering patients the opportunity to reduce their pain?
It is this same foolish frenzy that has allowed the useless war on drugs to fill our prisons with non-violent prisoners and create violence in our inner cities. It is this same pearl clutching puritanical, fear-based baloney that has created havoc in nations that export our drugs, such as Mexico, Columbia, and El Salvador. Which, by the way, has fueled the immigration exodus from Central America that helped spark our political standoff over immigration.
Smart people should view marijuana as low calorie alcohol without the hangover. A marijuana dispensary is no different than a bar – except the product isn’t addictive or doesn’t lead to an increase in violence – as alcohol often does.
People say, “well what if legalizing marijuana leads to people driving high or going to work stoned.”
The answer is simple: Throw the impaired driver in jail and fire the stoned worker. And that is precisely why the vast majority of people won’t drive high or come to work loopy. They don’t want to end up in the hoosegow and they need their job to pay bills.
It is my view that the few busybodies that are trying to block the dispensary in Lakeview should give it a rest. They should be excited to help people suffering in pain. Not complicate their lives.
Speaking of the failed War on Drugs, it is also harming those suffering from mental illness. Thanks to the government’s outlawing of most research on the effect of drugs, the majority of people don’t know that the active ingredient in magic mushrooms can help with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).Read More »
When one writes about the new Russian menace, Internet “trolls,” likely paid for by Putin’s authoritarian government, inevitably attack the writer. It turns out that this is part of a sophisticated media and public relations operation that seeks to destroy critics of Mother Russia’s Commu-Fascist movement. Thus, unusually zealous online defenders of this nation’s regime should be taken with a grain of salt and a shot of vodka.
While much of the free world is focused on ISIS, by far the greatest threat to world peace and stability is Russia. This is an aggressive nation that tramples on human rights, while cowardly attacking its weaker neighbors. What makes this nuclear nation dangerous is that its leadership has a chip on its shoulder and seems to actually believe its own ridiculous conspiracy theories about the West. In an effort to restore lost glory and power – Russia has glommed onto a toxic nationalist-communist model with expansionist aspirations.
Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied that he wants to revive a Soviet state, with its coercive sphere of influence, but the evidence suggests otherwise. An article in the New York Times vividly paints a portrait of life in areas covertly taken over by his security forces or their Ukrainian apparatchiks. According to the article:
In the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, the Supreme Soviet, as its legislature is known, is nationalizing coal mines and reviving collective farms. At parades, people wave hammer-and-sickle flags; school officials talk of reviving the curriculum to celebrate the triumphs of the Soviet Union. There is now a secret police force called the M.G.B., reminiscent of the K.G.B. Some rebels call it, only half-jokingly, the N.K.V.D., the notorious Stalin-era secret police force.
At first glance, the demise of burgeoning freedom in the former U.S.S.R seems difficult to comprehend. A persuasive new book, however, makes the case that cunning K.G.B. operatives, including Vladimir Putin, undermined the modern Russian state. In her thoroughly researched, “Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?”, Karen Dawisha argues that the moment the Iron Curtain collapsed a cabal of K.GB. leaders hatched a successful plan to destabilize and retake the country.
With chaos enveloping a nation in democratic transition, these embittered spooks illegally transferred billions of communist party money into financial safe havens, such as London and Switzerland. As valuable state assets were later pawned at fire sale prices, these missing billions were transferred back into Russia, where these KGB conspirators bought them. This made these men and their friends filthy rich, and combined with leaders of organized crime, gave them unrivaled power.
This financial influence was eventually parlayed into raw political power, in what was essentially a slow motion coup by the K.G.B. (Now the FSB) Once they controlled the political realm, these spymasters recreated a police state – using Orwellian, and often violent, tactics to snuff out a free and independent media. They also crushed civil society by registering organizations as “foreign agents” that dared to question the Kremlin or its corrupt allies.
To give the appearance of moral authority to his stealthy putsch, Putin had a religious awakening and co-opted the Russian Orthodox Church. Putin’s embrace of Christian values suspiciously coincided with the church’s Patriarch, Kirill I, sporting a fancy Breguet timepiece worth at least $30,000.
It also helps to explain Russia’s persecution of its gay citizens. Putin will tow the church’s conservative party line, if the church in turn blesses his criminal actions.
One of the more disturbing elements of the Putin’s regime is its reliance on KGBT-type propaganda. According to the book “Putin’s Kleptocracy”:
Today’s Russian “political technologists” make use of their state-owned media, including English-language outlets such as the TV news channel Russia Today or RT; armies of paid social media “trolls” who post on newspaper comment pages, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and other sites; fake “experts” whose quotes can be presented with fake authority; and real experts to whom Putin’s officials have granted special access, or have simply paid.
Using these different sources, the Kremlin began putting out messages designed not necessarily to make Russia look good, but rather to undermine the Western establishment and Western institutions, including the European Union and NATO.
Using both money and information, they seek to empower the Western far right, the anti-establishment left, and the international business community all at the same time. Thus Russia Today supports Occupy Wall Street. A Russian oligarch organizes a meeting in Vienna attended by the French National Front, Hungary’s nationalist political party Jobbik, and Austria’s Freedom Party.”
It is outrageous that Comcast Cable broadcasts RT. Comcast is essentially running KGB propaganda directly from the hand and mouth of Vladimir Putin. RT is designed to sucker liberals into degrading America, and snookering conservatives in believing Russia is the international savior for “family values.” In reality, both left and right are being used for Putin’s power grab – with Comcast blithely broadcasting the Red Revolution. Shame on all Americans who participate in this subversive scam.