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Month: March 2010

Excessive Overdraft Fees

Excessive Overdraft Fees

Scanning through the April 2010 Harper’s Index, a couple of numbers with lots of zeros stood out.

$38,900,000,000  That’s the estimated amount that all U.S. banks charged their customers in overdraft fees in 2009.  How much did you chip in?

$2,100,000,000,000  That’s the amount that President Obama has added to America’s “brand value” according to the Nation Brands IndexWe’re Number One!

I don’t even know how to say that number.  What comes after trillions?  I’ll look it up.

Quadrillion.  $2.1 quadrillion gained.  I wonder what the loss attributed to Bush was.

Right Wing Wackos Want to Kill Democrats

Right Wing Wackos Want to Kill Democrats

A while back we had a post about how far-right wingnuts want kill President Obama.  Well now they are pissed off at the Democrats in congress, and they want to kill them too.  MSNBC reports:

At a news conference in Washington, Hoyer said people have yelled that Democratic lawmakers should be put on firing lines and posters have appeared with the faces of lawmakers in the cross hairs of a target.

Gun imagery was used in a posting on the Facebook page of Sarah Palin urging people to organize against 20 House Democrats who voted for the health care bill and whose districts went for the John McCain-Palin ticket two years ago.  Palin’s post featured a U.S. map with circles and cross hairs over the 20 districts.

In audio recordings of voice messages obtained by NBC News and other networks, one caller repeatedly tells Stupak “I hope you die.”

“There are millions of people across the country who wish you ill,” another caller says. “And all of those thoughts projected on you will materialize into something that’s not very good for you.”

A fax with the title “Defecating on Stupak” carried a picture of a gallows with “Bart (SS) Stupak” on it and a noose attached. It was captioned, “All Baby Killers come to unseemly ends Either by the hand of man or by the hand of God.”

And the Washington Post reports that in addition to the fax, Stupak also received a voice mail threatening his life:

…and an anonymous voice mail saying: “You’re dead. We know where you live. We’ll get you.”

And as if that’s not enough,  The New York Times reports:

Representative Louise M. Slaughter, a senior Democrat from New York, received a phone message threatening sniper attacks against lawmakers and their families.

Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black lawmaker in the House, said he received an anonymous fax showing the image of a noose.

The Washington Post also reported

Some Democrats, sensing a political opportunity, suggested that Republicans were fanning the anger with their fiery comments in recent days. Several GOP lawmakers stood on the speaker’s balcony at the Capitol overlooking a tea party protest last weekend holding up signs that read “Kill the Bill.” Below them, protesters were yelling “No! No! No!” and “Nancy, you will burn in hell for this!”

And now I must give credit where credit is do.  Some of the Republicans heeded the call and denounced the violence and threats perpetrated by their followers, including House Minority Leader John Boehner:

“…violence and threats are unacceptable.  That’s not the American way.  We need to take that anger and channel it into positive change.”

Maybe he said that because he meant it, or maybe he said it because he is a media whore and he wanted to make the papers and be on TV again.  Ugh.  If he’s on again tomorrow morning, I am going to puke up my yogurt.

The Angry Republicans Don’t Know How to Lose, and the Media Forgot Who Won

The Angry Republicans Don’t Know How to Lose, and the Media Forgot Who Won

I am so tired of turning on the morning news and seeing nothing but a bunch of Republicans whining about the passage of the health care reform bill.  I just don’t get why they get so much air time to bash Obama and a bill the Democrats passed after about fifteen months of prolonged debate.  I was hoping that maybe today the media would focus on what was actually in the bill and, I don’t know, maybe have a Democrat explain it and why it’s a good thing.  But no such luck, the Today Show had clips of Limbaugh, Boehner, McConnell, and a gaggle of other rich old white guys.  NPR had a five-minute interview with Judd Gregg (R-NH) who babbled on and on about how the Republicans have been treated so badly by the Democrats.  Hmmm… I wonder if he was sympathetic to the Democratic minority from 2000 – 2006?  I can’t say for sure, but my guess is NOT.  Which reminds me… Jon Stewart said it best shortly after Obama was elected president and the Democrats took over both houses of congress:  “You guys lost!  It’s supposed to taste like a shit sandwich.”   They can serve it up, but they can’t eat it.

Okay so I continue to be frustrated by the mainstream media, and not just because they seem to devote so much time to the losers, but also because the losing party is home to so many mean, xenophobic, racist bigots.  I cannot tell you how pleased I would be if I turned on a major network newscast and saw that they were doing an in-depth report about the hateful bigots that proudly align themselves with Republicans and Tea Partiers. 

I found some solace in Bob Herbert’s column this morning:

…it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness.  All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country.  The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy.  As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics.  This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.

Glenn Beck of Fox News has called President Obama a “racist” and asserted that he “has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Mike Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate, has said of Mr. Obama’s economic policies:  “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

There’s much more detail about Tea Partiers taunting a poor man with Parkinson’s disease, and the spitting, cursing, and name calling done on Saturday by protestors as the Democrats walked into the halls of congress.  Read it all here.

John Boehner is a Punk-Ass Bitch

John Boehner is a Punk-Ass Bitch

Speaking before a gaggle of very rich bankers at an American Bankers Association meeting this week that was held not long after Senator Dodd broke away from his fruitless efforts to draft a compromise reform bill with Republicans, House Minority Leader John Boehner belittled congressional staff members:

“I don’t know how they ever come to an agreement on some kind of a bill they can bring back to both houses and pass,” Boehner said.

Boehner’s comments come as bankers prepare to descend upon Capitol Hill to press for changes to the bank-reform legislation, which they wouldn’t support in its present form.  Boehner said he urged bankers not to be shy when meeting with the lawmaker staff members and to send a message that new regulations and taxes translates to into banks having less available for lending.

“Don’t let those little punk staffers take advantage of you and stand up for yourselves,” Boehner said.  “All of us are hearing from our friends and constituents on lack of credit, you can’t get a loan, the more your government takes and taxes, the more regulations you have to comply with the more cost you have there and less amount you are going to have available to loan to customers.”

Representative Barney Frank, who knows a punk when he sees one and is much more respectful of Boehner than I choose to be, wrote a letter to the “The Honorable John A. Boehner” and demanded an apology:

I am appalled that a Leader of the House, who must know what good work is done by our staffs, would take such an inaccurate cheap-shot at these people, for the purpose of ingratiating himself with bankers or any other group.  As Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, I work closely with a large number of the staff members whom you are demeaning by this statement, and while I obviously have closer working relationships with the members of the majority staff, I am familiar with the work done by a number of the minority staff members as well, both for the Committee and on personal staffs.  Your reference to “punk staffers” trying to “take advantage” of people in the financial industry is wholly unfair to a lot of hardworking men and women, the majority of whom, in my judgment, could be making more money if they were working elsewhere, and working under less stressful conditions and shorter hours.  It is of course possible that you were misquoted, and if that is the case, I urge you to quickly make that clear.  But if Mr. Orol accurately quoted you in referring to the people who work so hard in the public interest as “little punk staffers,” I urge you to apologize to them.

I’ll be shocked if the beastly John Boehner, defender of greedy billionaire bankers that line his pockets with campaign contributions, offers an apology.

Jon Stewart Impersonates Glenn Beck

Jon Stewart Impersonates Glenn Beck

Last night’s Daily Showwas a little different.  Instead of the show starting with Jon behind his desk, he was stood center stage to do his impersonation of Glenn Beck and announce to the world that he was infected with cancerous progressivism.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Intro – Progressivism Is Cancer
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Political HumorHealth Care Reform

After the introduction, he continued his Beck impersonation for another thirteen minutes complete with blackboard diagrams, nonsensical word dissections, and just the right amount of batshit craziness.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Conservative Libertarian
Daily Show
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GOP’s Fear of Health Care Reform

GOP’s Fear of Health Care Reform

The accepted wisdom is that passing the amended Democratic health care bill will be an albatross around the necks of the party as it moves forward into the fall mid-term elections and beyond.  Republicans gleefully point to polls which suggest they will benefit from the electorate’s opposition to the bill and their own improved prospects for picking up seats in both the United States Senate and the House.

In the short term they may be right, but it’s not at all clear that health care will play much of a role in any losses sustained by the Democrats in the fall except with the GOP’s own base and some disaffected independents.  The electorate is generally grumpy with the state of the economy, primarily unemployment, and the size of the deficit.  The fact that the Democrats deserve credit rather than electoral punishment for the steps both the administration and Congress have taken to prevent a deeper recession, and to stimulate the economy through fiscal measures that were necessary but inevitably resulted in a higher deficit is, unfortunately, lost on many voters.

In the longer term, however, I am convinced that as Americans come to actually learn what’s in the health bill and see the benefits not only to the uninsured but to those who already have insurance or Medicare (the most fervent opponents to the bill), they will come to embrace it as they did Medicare and Social Security – two other additions to the social safety net that most congressional Republicans opposed.

I also think it’s why the GOP has mounted such a bitter opposition to the bill.  If they believed their own rhetoric one would think they would welcome passage of a bill which, according to every Fox News right-wing mouthpiece and Republican politician who’s given an opportunity to blab on-air, will mean Democratic Armageddon.  But they don’t and the reason may be that they fear that it will be a long term boost to both Obama and Democrats in general for the 2012 elections, and to their own detriment.

The misinformation and sound-bites have served the right well in what has been less a debate than a frenzy of vitriol and misleading talking points by the GOP and its Fox News cheerleaders.  Oh, and let’s not forget the Tea Baggers.

However, once the bill passes this campaign of obfuscation and misrepresentation will be much harder to sustain effectively, and the beneficial elements of the bill will start to speak for themselves.  In this situation Democrats will, in time, gain a strong advantage as the party of can-do and of positive, pro-active policy prescriptions in contrast to the GOP as the party of “NO-can-do.”

If Democrats can find the courage and the will to pass health care insurance reform, whether through parliamentary maneuvers or a straight vote, not only will the country have much reason to be thankful but also, I believe, the Democratic Party.

First Corporate Person Candidate for Congress

First Corporate Person Candidate for Congress

The Washington Post reports:

The firm, whose clients include labor unions and environmentalists, is seeking to enter the Republican primary for the 8th District seat held by Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D).

The firm “wanted to run as a Republican because we feel the Republican Party is more receptive to our basic message that corporations are people, too,” Klein [the campaign manager] said, adding that his client has no particular beef with Van Hollen.

Van Hollen welcomes the competition. “The majority on the Court has made a mockery of our campaign finance laws, and Murray Hill is just mocking the mockers,” said Doug Thornell, a senior adviser to Van Hollen.

Murray Hill does face a couple of tiny problems in its effort to get elected to Congress.

For starters, candidates must officially register to vote as a Republican to run in a Republican primary in Maryland.  Late this week, the Montgomery County Board of Elections wrote to Murray Hill, informing the firm that its voter registration application had been rejected.

It seems the corporation does not meet the “minimum requirements” for voter registration, which include being a U.S. citizen and at least 18, according to Kevin Karpinski, a lawyer for the county elections board.

Just another case of The Man sticking it to Corporate America.

The odds are against Murray Hill, Inc.getting on the ballot, but I love the ad and I do think that somehow, someway, in the not-too-distant future, a corporation will find a way through the legal obstacles of registering a corporation to run for public office.  When that hapens, I can only hope it’s a corporation with the same goal in mind – to push the Supreme Court ruling to its limits, and get them to redraw the lines in a sensible way.  I’d start with the premise that corporations are not persons and should not have any rights to political speech.  In fact, they should not even be able to pay their damn lobbyists.  If we got them completely out of the picture, maybe we could get back to a country of people run by people for the people.

Oh, and yes… you can buy a campaign t-shirt.  I think I’ll order mine now.