In the USA...United Surveillance America
10/17/2013 12:47 PMSystem Failure: US Democracy Is Nearing its Limits
A Commentary By Sebastian Fischer and Marc Pitzke
The United States has temporarily avoided federal default. As the Republicans lick their wounds, the Democrats are triumphant. But no one should be happy, because the debacle has exposed just how broken the American political system truly is.
The president kept things short, speaking for only three minutes on Wednesday night to praise the debt compromise reached by Congress. After he finished, a reporter called after him: "Mr. President, will this happen again in a couple of months?" Barack Obama, who was on his way out the door, turned and answered sharply, "No."
But such optimism has proven to be unrealistic in the past. With his re-election in 2012, Obama thought he could break the Republican "fever." Instead, the conservatives paralyzed the government and risked a federal default just so they could stop Obama's signature project: health care reform. And this despite the fact that "Obamacare" had been approved by a majority of both houses of Congress, was upheld by the US Supreme Court, and was endorsed by the American people in the voting booths.
No, the democratic process cannot reduce this "fever," and probably won't during the next fight, either. On the contrary, the political crisis has turned out to be a systemic crisis.
America's 237-year-old democracy is approaching its limits. Its political architecture was not designed for long-lasting blockades and extortion, the likes of which have been enthusiastically practiced by Tea Party supporters for almost the last four years. The US's founding fathers proposed a system of checks and balances, not checks and boycotts.
In hardly any other western democracy are the minority's parliamentary rights as strongly pronounced as they are in the US, where a single senator can delay legislation, deny realities, and leverage the system.
In Germany, the government is built from a majority in parliament. In America, the president and his allies in Congress have to organize majorities for each new law. But for a long time Obama has hardly been able to find any -- not for immigration reform, or new gun control laws, or even for the budget, as the world's largest economy has been making do with emergency spending measures since 2009.
Scarcely 50 right-wing populists, led by Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz, have been pushing their once proud Republican party into a kamikaze course. Why are the other Republicans letting them do this? They are afraid of radical challengers within their own party in their local districts.
Meanwhile, the Democrats hardly pose a threat, because over the past several years the borders of the congressional districts have been manipulated in such a way that they almost always clearly go Republican or Democratic. As a result, America loses the representative nature of its representative democracy. In the congressional elections in 2012, Democrats won 1.17 million more votes than Republicans, but Republicans got 33 more seats in the House of Representatives.
Changes in majority rarely exist anymore. Not even 10 percent of the 435 seats in the House of Representatives are considered competitive. As a result, those who would be willing to compromise in Washington are already punished during the primary seasons back home, which was how the last moderates were pushed out of Congress.
Name Calling in Congress
During the recent debt ceiling fight, Tea Party hotheads called their colleagues who were willing to talk with Democrats the "surrender caucus." Anybody who would vote for a compromise "would virtually guarantee a primary challenger," Kansas Republican Tim Huelskamp threatened on Tuesday.
The once civil political discourse in Washington has long since turned into a fight of bitter rivals trying to inflict the worst possible wounds. One is no longer respected as a worthy opponent, but attacked like an enemy. This behavior is in turn egged on by talk radio personalities, for whom compromise is a sign of weakness and lies are just another form of reality.
Adding to this is the almost unlimited flow of campaign contributions, which finance the increasingly brutal mudslinging during congressional elections every two years. Behind those donations are often radical groups or interested billionaires, such as the brothers David and Charles Koch, who have financed the Tea Party and are thought to have helped plan and direct the most recent crisis.
At the same time, the US is undergoing huge demographic shifts, which were recently evident in Obama's re-election. The old "white majority" is slowly shrinking into a minority. One of the consequences has been the rise of the Tea Party, which is loudly pushing back against change, Obama and the government itself.
Tea Party protagonists such as former Alaska governor Sarah Palin beguile their followers with folksy language they can understand and proudly hold up ignorance and stupidity as badges of honor in their battle against the "elite" and their intellect.
The results were evident during this most recent debt ceiling crisis. A federal default by the US would not be so bad, romanticized Florida Republican Ted Yoho, demonstrating a happy ignorance of economic issues. "I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets," he said.
This time around the US has just barely avoided testing out such crazy theories. But as the system limps along, the next crisis already has a deadline: Jan. 15, 2014, when the bill agreed to on Wednesday expires.
**************If you want to see how grossly money can distort democracy, just go to the state of Virginia
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Friday, October 18, 2013 1:16 EDT
If you want to see how grossly money can distort democracy, just go to the state of Virginia, where there are no limits on how big a check can be written for statewide office. Groups and individuals from outside the Old Dominion are taking full advantage, pouring millions into a governor’s race they see as a dry run for the tactics they’ll use in the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential race – sort of the way the Spanish civil war turned out to be a testing ground for many of the deadly weapons of World War II.
Billionaires like environmentalist Tom Steyer on the left and the Koch Brothers on the right are placing their bets, but as they say at the track, the horses they’re backing are just a couple of hay burners. Once the home of Washington and Jefferson, James Madison and Patrick Henry, Virginia now has a choice between two mediocrities slavishly devoted to their wealthy contributors.
The Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, has been in training for years as courtier to the rich. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Democratic National Committee, which he chaired for four years, and the campaigns of his – Best Friends Forever – Bill and Hillary Clinton, who now are shaking down donors for him. Along the way, according to The Washington Post, this gregarious bagman used government programs, his huge Rolodex of political connections, and wealthy investors from both parties to enrich himself. He organized a company to build electric cars and promoted it to investors with a prospectus featuring photographs and ample references to his Clinton ties. He even got the former President to show up at the opening of the plant in Mississippi, along with that state’s former Republican governor, Haley Barbour, who made his fortune as a lobbyist in Washington for the tobacco industry.
Strange bedfellows, these crony capitalists – you may remember that Hillary Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham was involved, too, searching out foreign investors for the electric cars. When the spotlight of scrutiny crossed their path, McAuliffe resigned from the company, which is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Washington Post also reports that one of McAuliffe’s top twenty donors – at $120,000 — is the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry, which issues flags of convenience to shipping companies that want to dodge taxes and labor regulations, and that McAuliffe invested in an alleged insurance scam that stole identities from the terminally ill. His campaign says that like other investors, McAuliffe was deceived. The fellow in charge of the scheme donated more than $25,000 the last time McAuliffe ran for governor, in 2009. Hmmm…
In a recent debate, his Republican opponent, state attorney general and right wing zealot Ken Cuccinelli, said that if McAuliffe’s elected, they’ll have to change the state’s motto from “Sic Semper Tyrannis” to “Quid Pro Quo.” That’s Latin for you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
But Cuccinelli is in no position to talk. The candidate was drawn into that Virginia money scandal in which Jonnie R. Williams, Sr., CEO of Star Scientific, a company that manufactures dietary supplements, showered lavish presents and perks on the current governor and his wife. Cuccinelli also received a sprinkling of Williams’ largesse. He recently donated the value of what he says he got — $18,000 – to charity.
What’s more, his donor list includes considerable checks from big tobacco and big coal, including Murray Energy Corporation, which has often been fined for endangering the health and safety of its miners. Last year, its boss, Bob Murray, was discovered insisting that employees contribute time and money to his favorite anti-regulatory candidates – including Mitt Romney – or else.
Now Cuccinelli’s touting a major tax cut for the rich, with a plan that, according to the liberal Center for American Progress, would give 47% of a proposed tax reduction to the top five percent of Virginians. The state would lose nearly a billion and a half dollars in revenues so the rich can be even richer.
Not surprising, Cuccinelli’s a major climate change denier, as well as a fractious opponent of Obamacare, a woman’s right to choose and gay marriage. He once wanted to make it legal for employers to fire an employee if they were heard speaking Spanish. No wonder he’s the favorite of Citizens United – yes, that Citizens United, the right wing group that got the conservatives on the Supreme Court to give corporations the same free speech rights as real people.
So come Election Day, pity the voters of Virginia. Whether they choose the glad-handing Democrat or the self-righteous Republican, once again, the real winner will be Big Money.
October 16, 2013Republican Collapse
By CHARLES M. BLOW
Congress has finally worked out a deal to end the government shutdown and dodge default, but not before the Republican Party demonstrated to Americans just how conflicted and dangerous it is.
Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, this week described our current Congress as a greater danger to national security than Al Qaeda, writing, “We don’t tend to talk about Congress as — at this stage — what it plainly is: the clearest and most present danger in the world to the national security of the United States.”
That is what the G.O.P.-led House has brought us. Conservatives outside the chamber know defeat when they see it, and want to live to fight another day. But they beat their chests in vain as their laments fall on the deaf ears of the far-right political death squads.
On Tuesday, the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages blasted:
“This is the quality of thinking — or lack thereof — that has afflicted many GOP conservatives from the beginning of this budget showdown. They picked a goal they couldn’t achieve in trying to defund ObamaCare from one House of Congress, and then they picked a means they couldn’t sustain politically by pursuing a long government shutdown and threatening to blow through the debt limit.”
Senator John McCain said this week, “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”
Senator Lindsey Graham put it more bluntly: “We really did go too far. We screwed up.”
But, far-right elements of the House cannot be reasoned with. They prefer to go down in a blaze of glory — or at least take the country down in one.
And arguably no one is more the face of this disaster than Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, labeled by one New York Republican representative, Peter King, as a “fraud” and “false prophet,” who helped orchestrate it.
The Houston Chronicle editorial board on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of trying to withdraw its endorsement of Cruz, an endorsement that no doubt helped get him elected. An editorial posted to the paper’s Web site began, “Does anyone else miss Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison?”, the senator Cruz replaced. It went on:
“When we endorsed Ted Cruz in last November’s general election, we did so with many reservations and at least one specific recommendation -- that he follow Hutchison’s example in his conduct as a senator. Obviously, he has not done so. Cruz has been part of the problem in specific situations where Hutchison would have been part of the solution.”
It seems everyone is waking up to what a disaster this current Republican contingent of extremists has become and how poisonous they are to the functioning of our democracy. Better late than never, I suppose.
Cruz’s favorable ratings are underwater in Pew’s, Gallup’s, Fox News’ and Quinnipiac’s polling.
But then, Cruz doesn’t put much stake in polls, with their pesky numbers.
According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken last week, views of the Republican Party sank to record lows and 70 percent of respondents thought Republicans in Congress were putting their own political agenda ahead of what was good for the country.
The poll also found that negative feelings about the Tea Party had risen, with 47 percent saying they had negative feelings about the group, including 34 percent who described their feelings as “very negative.” Just 21 percent of Americans now say they feel positive about the group.
But when Cruz was asked Friday about the poll, he dismissed it as having a problematic methodology. He said: “If you seek out liberal Obama supporters and ask them their views, they’re going to tell you they’re liberal Obama supporters. That’s not reflective of where this country is.” In fact, it is Cruz’s methodology that is flawed. His grandiloquence may well be the undoing of the Grand Old Party.
According to a Pew Research report released Tuesday:
“A record-high 74% of registered voters now say that most members of Congress should not be reelected in 2014 (just 18% say they should). By comparison, at similar points in both the 2010 and 2006 midterm cycles only about half of registered voters wanted to see most representatives replaced.”
The report also found:
“An early read of voter preferences for the 2014 midterm shows that the Democrats have a six-point edge: 49% of registered voters say they would vote for or lean toward voting for the Democratic candidate in their district, while 43% support or lean toward the Republican candidate.”
Republicans terribly misplayed a weak hand on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling. There was never any chance of success other than scaring the president and the Democrats into caving. President Obama and Harry Reid called their bluff and they were left with no real options.
This is an embarrassment for the country, yes, but it’s also an embarrassment for the Republican Party that lays bare their motives, tactics and intention. It may not be so easy for voters to forget this come next November.
As the conservative Matt Drudge tweeted on Wednesday: “Speaker Pelosi Part 2: Opening Jan 5, 2015.” If only.
October 17, 2013Two Parties Start Work to Avoid Repeat Crisis
By JONATHAN WEISMAN and JACKIE CALMES
WASHINGTON — With the government reopened and a debt default averted for now, Congressional negotiators on Thursday plunged into difficult budget talks to avoid a repeat crisis within months, and quickly agreed to lower their sights from the sort of grand bargain that has eluded the two parties for three years.
After approval late Wednesday of the agreement ending the standoff, the deal-making mantle shifted overnight from the leaders of the Senate to the Budget Committee leaders, Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, and Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, two less senior lawmakers who nonetheless could make very effective salespeople since they command loyal followings in their parties. The political pressure lifted as well, for now.
But the need for a bipartisan breakthrough, even a modest one, was amplified by the economic costs wrought by the 16-day shutdown and near-default on government obligations.
“The key now is a budget that cuts out the things that we don’t need, closes corporate tax loopholes that don’t help create jobs, and frees up resources for the things that do help us grow — like education and infrastructure and research,” President Obama said Thursday from the White House, setting ambitious goals for Congress even as his own role in the bargaining was unclear.
The question of what a new House-Senate budget conference can deliver by its Dec. 13 deadline — in time for Congress to act by Jan. 15 on funding to keep the government open — remained the subject of deep skepticism, well earned by past failures at reaching so-called grand bargains for deficit reduction and spending investments in the past three years.
With the scope of the talks narrowed for now, on the table are ideas left over from past, failed bargaining: possible reductions in other programs — like farm subsidies, federal pensions, the Postal Service and unemployment insurance — and relatively minimal tax loophole closings, possibly as little as $55 billion.
While there is nonetheless hope on both sides for a defining budget deal, the three-week budget crisis scrambled Washington’s power structure.
Democrats, united throughout, believe they enter this next round far stronger, backed by a president who proved his own resolve. Republicans, having played their trump card by shutting down the government, are weakened and more divided than ever.
Reflecting his party’s chastened state heading into the next phase, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, told the conservative National Review on Thursday, “A government shutdown is off the table.”
Even so, Republicans enter these new talks with one advantage: if the negotiations fail, the next round of across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration will hit automatically, even deeper than the first. Democrats want to avoid that far more than Republicans do.
Both Mr. Ryan and Ms. Murray struck positive notes.
“Our goal is to do good for the American people, to get our debt under control, to do smart deficit reduction, and to do things we think can grow the economy and get people back to work,” Mr. Ryan said.
Ms. Murray said, “We believe there is common ground.”
By definition, common ground suggests no grand bargain, which would require a much more difficult trade-off where they fundamentally differ — higher tax revenues that Republicans oppose, in exchange for reductions in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security that Democrats vow they will not entertain without curbs on tax breaks for wealthy individuals and corporations.
With the last-minute settlement, Washington found itself battered, exhausted and about where it was back in March in terms of budget progress. That month, Congressional Republicans and the White House failed to prevent the sequestration cuts from taking effect across military and domestic programs.
The Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate passed vastly different budgets, but Republicans blocked Democrats’ repeated efforts to convene a conference committee to reconcile the differences — until this week.
Congress not only reopened the government through Jan. 15 and raised the nation’s borrowing limit effective to Feb. 7 on Wednesday. It also mandated the formal budget negotiations in a separate parliamentary motion.
“Nobody can guarantee success, but what we can say is that if we don’t make the effort and get together and talk, that would guarantee failure,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, House Democrats’ chief negotiator.
To improve the prospects for some success, the negotiators largely agreed at a closed-door breakfast on Thursday that a deal involving significant new tax revenues and large-scale changes to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, whose growth in an aging population is driving long-term projections of growing debt, is not going to happen.
Instead, they agreed, the talks will aim at a more modest, confidence-building measure to replace the sequestration cuts in 2014. Negotiators could aim higher, for a deal saving at least $1 trillion over the next nine years to substitute completely for the arbitrary sequestration cuts. But neither side was hopeful of that.
Even with lower sights, negotiators face the same hurdle over taxes that has ended a series of bipartisan talks in 2011 — between Mr. Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner; between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Eric Cantor, the House majority leader; and between lawmakers on a so-called supercommittee.
“The old bugaboo that has made other conferences fail is revenues,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat.
Tea Party-infused lawmakers seemed unbowed and still uncompromising despite their loss over the debt limit and government funding for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. So did the conservative groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action that goaded them on.
Like the Congressional actors, the White House is not expecting a grand bargain, as much as Mr. Obama — and Mr. Boehner, for that matter — would like to have that as a legacy. But it is determined to see an end to sequestration, and is counting on the cooperation of Republican leaders since the military is in line for greater automatic reductions than domestic programs in January.
Rank-and-file Republican lawmakers and the party base, however, have come to see sequestration as a victory.
By his televised remarks at the White House, Mr. Obama sought to project a tone of compromise, aides said, though some Republicans heard some partisan gloating. He also described a budget goal more expansive than the Congressional negotiators are setting, but one that neither party’s leaders rule out.
“This shouldn’t be as difficult as it’s been in past years because we already spend less than we did a few years ago,” Mr. Obama said. “Our deficits are half of what they were a few years ago. The debt problems we have now are long term, and we can address them without shortchanging our kids, or shortchanging our grandkids, or weakening the security that current generations have earned from their hard work.”
****************Ted Cruz still defiant: ‘I will continue to do anything I can’ to stop Obamacare
By Arturo Garcia
Thursday, October 17, 2013 21:33 EDT
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) refused to deny the possibility that he would engineer another shutdown of the federal government in an interview published by ABC News on Thursday, seemingly putting him at odds with his own Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
“I would do anything, and I will continue to do anything I can, to stop the train wreck that is Obamacare,” Cruz told correspondent Jon Karl.
Cruz then told Karl that the “true test” of Obamacare — the nickname for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — was whether lawmakers were doing anything for people who are “getting hurt” by it, a statement resembling previous remarks that have been rated as False by Politifact.
“Cruz’s comments don’t take into account the many people with modest incomes who will get subsidies as they shop on the health care marketplaces,” Politifact has stated. “These people should see substantial decreases in their premiums thanks to the new regulations and subsidies.”
The Tea Party senator then criticized the agreement McConnell made with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday, which he voted against.
The bill, which provides $986 billion in government funding, enabling government agencies affected by the shutdown to be open until Jan. 15, also includes funding for the law and was passed by the House and Senate Wednesday night.
“Washington focuses on the politics all day long,” Cruz argued. “That’s what this town does. But what we saw in the deal last night is that the U.S. Senate is not concerned about all the people out of a job, all the people in part-time work, all the people whose health care premiums are skyrocketing, all the people who are losing their health insurance.”
When specifically asked if he would push for another shutdown as the current deal expired, though, Cruz ducked the question.
“I know you want to nail down all sorts of future tactical decisions,” Cruz told Karl. “What I intend to do is continue to stand with the American people working to stop Obamacare.”
But McConnell did, in fact, rule that kind of gambit out in a separate interview with The Hill, saying the 16-day impasse — which was accompanied by a drop in his party’s approval rating — taught his younger colleagues that it was a losing strategy.
“One of my favorite old Kentucky sayings is there’s no education in the second kick of a mule,” McConnell was quoted as saying. “The first kick of a mule was when we shut the government down in the mid 1990s and the second kick was over the last 16 days. There is no education in the second kick of a mule. There will not be a government shutdown.”
******************Ted Cruz *Is* The New Republican Party
By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, October 17, 2013 9:28 EDT
By the way, even when Ted Cruz is smiling, he looks like he’s whining. I guess your face really does stick that way if you do it too much.
I’m sure this has happened before, but not in my memory: The Houston Chronicle retracted its endorsement of Sen. Ted Cruz , in light of the entire shutdown debacle. They say they “miss” Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and indicate two places where Cruz has failed to follow in her footsteps. The most obvious is this entire shutdown debacle. They believe, and I have no doubt that this is true, that Hutchinson would have been part of the female-led-and-heavy team of senators that led the deal on ending the shutdown. (Not to be too nostalgic, however. She would have definitely tried to get all sorts of fucked up budget concessions.) This part, however, is something that’s less discussed, which is that Cruz appears to be an utter failure at his primary job of representing the interests of Texas:
For one thing, Hutchison had an unswerving commitment to the highest and best interests of Texas at all times. This revealed itself in a thousand different ways. Hereabouts, we miss her advocacy for NASA, the Port of Houston and the energy industry. And we know she worked just as hard for Dallas, San Antonio and a hundred smaller Texas cities and towns.
I have no doubt that Cruz’s concerns for the well-being of his home state could fit into a thimble, and probably thinks that shit is beneath him anyway. He’s part of a new, Tea Party-driven Republican party that exists purely as an ideological hate hard-on for liberalism and modernity, and that’s it. I bet he’s rolled his eyes at least once when his aides brought up the concept of constituent services. This is how it’s going to be, especially in states where the Republican seat is safe. Republican voters have made it clear that they’d burn this country to the ground rather than share it with Those People, and so we shouldn’t be surprised that their representatives are finally taking them at their word. For the Ted Cruzes of the world, the voters back home are nothing but a bunch of rubes who you can rile up with race-baiting, sexist, anti-government horseshit to gain power. I don’t imagine he believes he owes those rubes diddly-squat.
I get why the Houston Chronicle endorsed the Republican in that race. He was going to win anyway, and there’s often no point with safe seats doing otherwise than endorsing the clear winner. It helps keep your paper on their good side and may even make sure that they read some of your other opinions on what they might do. Or, that’s how it was in the old days. I hope the lesson is learned now: There isn’t an upside to endorsing Republicans anymore. They don’t care if you love them or hate them. They’ve got another appointment to go on Fox and explain how taxation is theft and Obama is trying to kill your children by getting them health insurance now. They don’t care about you anymore. So, next time around, Chronicle, just endorse the Democrat. No need to play games anymore, and in your heart of hearts, you know they’re going to be the better candidate for Texas.
****************Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and House Republicans Are Plotting Another Government Shutdown
By: Jason Easley
Thursday, October 17th, 2013, 1:07 pm
As soon as the bill was passed to reopen the government, the same Republican extremists who carried out the first government shutdown were already plotting round two. Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) told The New York Times, “I’ll vote against it, but that will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”
On top of Fleming’s explicit threat, here is what Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) had to say when Sean Hannity said that it looks like they aren’t going away.
Sen. Lee said, “We’re not going away, and neither are the many millions of Americans who have joined this dialogue, who have made their voices heard by Washington, D.C. And not only are we not going anywhere, but they aren’t either, because their numbers are growing, because more people are hurting as a result of this law every single day. And as they continue to call in and ask for help, we’re going to continue to do everything that we can to help them. And the way that we can help them is to stop this law, and to stop the implementation, and enforcement…We’re not going to fund it. That’s what we said then, and that’s what we still think we should do.”
Sen. Cruz said that, “This is going to be multi-staged extended political battle.”
Democrats and Republicans who thought that Cruz, Lee, and their House Republicans would learn anything from the political spanking that just delivered to the by the American people were wrong. What President Obama tried to do in his speech this morning was build a coalition of Democrats and Republicans that will work around Cruz and the House extremists to get things done.
It is up to House and Senate Republicans to get their fringe under control. President Obama and congressional Democrats are the last firewall of defense to prevent the far right Republicans in Congress from wrecking the economy, but Democrats have been placed in this role only because the House Republican leadership can’t control their own people.
Unless the same coalition that prevented a default last night continues to work together, Ted Cruz and his lemmings will shutdown the government or try to force a default in early 2014. House Republicans can avoid a future shutdown by taking the budget conference seriously and working with Senate Democrats, but Ted Cruz and quest to the use the ACA to get elected president in 2016 aren’t going anywhere.
October 18, 2013 06:00 AMTed Cruz Is A Grifter Who Believes In Divine Wealth Transfers
You haven't lived until you've seen a little anointing by megachurch pastors of politicians. In this short video, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are anointed by pastors at Texas megachurch New Beginnings Church. In this case, it's particularly creepy because of Papa Cruz's prophetic fantasies of what his son Rafael Edward Cruz is destined to do.
The father, speaking of his son's anointing as "king":
"There are some of you, as a matter of fact I will dare to say the majority of you, that your anointing is not an anointing as priest. It's an anointing as king. And God has given you an anointing to go to the battlefield. And what's the battlefield ? The battlefield is the marketplace. To go to the marketplace and occupy the land. To go to the marketplace and take dominion. If you remember the last time I was in this pulpit, I talked to you about Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, where God says unto Adam and Eve, "Go forth, multiply, TAKE DOMINION over all creation." And if you recall, we talked about the fact that that dominion is not just in the church. That dominion is over every area - society, education, government, economics...
"Kings who are anointed for a totally different reason than priests. Kings who are anointed to take dominion. Kings who are anointed to go to war, win the war, and bring the spoils of war to the priests. So the work of the kingdom of God could be accomplished. And I'll tell you - the king needed the blessing of the priest in order to be successful in battle... [in Deuteronomy] Before the king went to battle, the priest came and blessed the king and blessed the warriors. And the king needed the blessing of the priest in order to be successful in battle... Now, the priest also needed for the king to be successful in battle, because the priest needed the spoils of war in order to repair the temple, in order to carry out the ministry that God had entrusted him. So the king and the priest complimented each other, and they were both very, very interested in blessing one another.
Sounds like claptrap, right? Kings, priests, blah blah blah. What does this really have to do with Ted Cruz and his crazy behavior on Capitol Hill?
For Papa Cruz, this is all about a wealth transfer from your pocket to theirs.
So to pull all this logic together, God anoints priests to work in the church directly and kings to go out into the marketplace to conquer, plunder, and bring back the spoils to the church. The reason governmental regulation has to disappear from the marketplace is to make it completely available to the plunder of Christian "kings" who will accomplish the "end time transfer of wealth." Then "God's bankers" will usher in the "coming of the messiah." The government is being shut down so that God's bankers can bring Jesus back.
And here's the thing. When you get a lot of people together in a megachurch, you can do some pretty impressive things with your mission projects. You can feed thousands of people and host ESL classes and job training programs and medical clinics. And I imagine that seeing your accomplishments could give you the hubris of thinking we don't need a government at all to make our society run; our church can be the new government.
How very revealing. Papa Cruz and his son are doing this for money. For a wealth transfer from everyone to grifters who twist the Bible into something never, ever intended. They're no better than snake oil salesman, except they're selling the snake's venom and calling it balm.
It's all just a big con to pull some money out of your pocket and slip it into theirs. Of course Ted Cruz will never stop. The combination of greed, hubris and his own narcissism make him King Grifter, but little else.
Click to watch the insanity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y26xO2_t-kM
*****************Alan Grayson, ‘John Boehner has got to go.’
By: Jason Easley
Thursday, October 17th, 2013, 9:42 pm
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) spoke for the nation when he declared that John Boehner is useless, and he has got to go.
After discussing how appalled the American people are with the tea party, Rep. Grayson said that the Republican Party is on the way out,
I think it’s already clear to people that the Republican Party is on its way out. The Republican Party is going to go the way of the Whig Party. The way the Whig Party disappeared in the 1830s in America, and the reason is simple. They simply won’t do anything useful for ordinary people. Whether the issue is jobs, or housing, or healthcare, or transportation, whatever the issue might be, they’ve got nothing, and it’s not our fault, but they’ve got nothing. They simply want to bring about the end of days as soon as possible. That is the ultimate tea party Republican desire, bringing about the end of days. The Republican Party’s become the largest suicide pact in history, and I hope that they don’t take us with them.
Listen, Boehner has to go. Boehner dragged this country with his tea party allies through the mud for two weeks and a half completely unnecessarily. There was no purpose to this whatsoever. The bill we voted on late last night was the same bill that we could have voted on two weeks ago, two months ago, two years ago. And the fact is that John Boehner’s become a short order cook for the far right wing. Would you like some French fries or cheese with that? That’s what he does. He takes whatever they want, and lays it out there as if that’s the right thing to do.
Rep. Grayson argued that Boehner’s status as the errand boy for the tea party House Republicans has made him completely useless, so he has to go. In the same interview, Grayson also claimed that the tea party is about as popular as the KKK, and that Democrats must remain vigilant because tea partiers are going to continue to try to destroy the country by wrecking the economy.
Grayson is correct. Boehner has to go, but the problem is that there is no one that Republican Party could replace him with who wouldn’t face the same pressures. This is why the only solution is for voters to replace John Boehner and the Republican House majority with Nancy Pelosi and a new Democratic House in 2o14.
Alan Grayson loves his fiery rhetoric, but beneath the headline making quips was a very profound point. Unless Speaker Boehner reinvents himself, he is completely useless to the country. When push came to shove during the latest House Republican caused economic crisis, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi did their jobs. The weak link that nearly broke the chain, and the nation’s economy, was John Boehner.
More than anything else, the biggest lesson learned is that John Boehner has to go.
**************How the Koch brothers’ beer offensive against Obamacare fell flat
By Sadhbh Walshe, The Guardian
Thursday, October 17, 2013 17:11 EDT
A Koch-funded front is using free beer to entice students away from health exchanges. But Obamacare is made of stronger stuff
What’s a family values conservative to do when every effort to protect millions of Americans from the scourge of affordable healthcare fails?
Break out the beer, of course. The latest campaign to kill off Obamacare in its infancy is now playing out on college campuses where a conservative group known as Generation Opportunity (GO), who are funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers, is using the lure of free beer and “opt out” beer koozies to persuade young students not to buy health insurance – or, at least, not to buy it from the Obamacare exchanges.
Traditionally, one might expect God-fearing conservatives to be warning youth about the dangers of alcohol consumption, rather than plying them with free liquor, but these are desperate times. The determined Koch brothers have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to derail the president’s healthcare law. So far, though, despite their best efforts, Obamacare has proved as “invincible” as the young people it needs to enroll. While it’s unlikely that the beer exchanges, shall we call them, will be the game-changer, the Kochs may well end up driving many of us to drink with their relentless and futile vendetta to undo the law – not just the college students.
Nearly every movement to “educate the public” about the “dangers” of Obamacare can be linked in some way to the Koch brothers, and this latest college campus effort is no different. Last month, Politico revealed that GO has received $5.04m from the Koch-funded entity known as Freedom Works. This “grassroots” movement is now about to embark on an “Opt Out” tour of 20 college towns across the country as part of its effort to steer young people away from the Obamacare exchanges. As GO’s 29-year-old president, Evan Feinberg, put it:
What we’re trying to communicate is, ‘No, you’re not actually required to buy health insurance’ … you might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for you, and better for you.
After coming under criticism for this statement, Feinberg (who previously worked at the Charles Koch Institute) has since clarified that GO is not trying to persuade young people to opt out of buying insurance altogether, just from buying it through the healthcare exchanges.
Maybe, I’m naive to think that most young Americans will not fall for this cynical ploy, no matter how much free beer they are plied with. It seems to me that any campaign that is based on a false premise – in this case, that young people could get cheaper insurance before Obamacare or since – seems destined for failure.
According to a report released in September by the Department of the Health and Human Services, 56% of the people who are applying for health insurance today will be able to get coverage through the health insurance marketplace for less than $100 a month. This means that a large percentage of the youth market that GO are targeting would be able to get comprehensive health coverage under Obamacare for a very low rate.
If Feinberg or any other GO employee genuinely knows about better insurance deals than that for students, it would be really helpful if they listed them on their Opt Out website. Surely, that would be a far better use of their Koch dollars than buying more crates of beer?
As it is, the Opt Out website contains no information beyond vague and unsubstantiated claims about Obamacare being a “bad deal”, and two embarrassingly poorly made ads featuring a “Creepy Uncle Sam” character who pops up between a woman’s legs as she undergoes a gynaecological exam and asks a young man to roll over while he pulls on a surgical glove. The message – that government should stay out of healthcare – is about as subtle as Miley Cyrus’ recent sledgehammer licking antics.
Whether Creepy Uncle Sam and his creepier backers will succeed in bringing down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains to be seen, but the prognosis is not good. Since the ACA was signed into law in 2010, it has miraculously managed to withstand “Hitler death panel” comparisons, state by state efforts to block its implementation, a US supreme court challenge to its constitutionality and, most recently, a defunding effort that led to the federal government shutdown.
As the New York Times recently reported, the Koch brothers have been heavily involved in all of these separate efforts through their generous funding of groups like Americans for Prosperity, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action and, of course, Generation Opportunity. But so far, their efforts have been in vain. Not only is Obamacare still the law of the land, but the law has actually gained a major bump in support since the shutdown stand-off.
As it happens, even the Koch brothers have begun to realize that their attempts to stop the ACA are getting them nowhere. Last week, a representative of Koch Industries sent a letter to members of the Senate distancing the company from efforts to defund Obamacare, while still making it clear that Koch really does not like the law.
Does this mean the Koch brothers are done with their various and multifaceted efforts to bring it down? Probably not, but if they at least scale back their efforts to just distributing free beers, that might not be such a bad thing.
After what they have put us all through, we deserve one.
© Guardian News and Media 2013
****************Obama Movingly Tells House Republicans That Disagreement Can’t Degenerate Into Hatred
By: Jason Easley
Thursday, October 17th, 2013, 11:31 am
President Obama schooled House Republicans on why they can’t let their disagreement with him turn into hatred that breaks the government, and offered three policy areas where he thinks both sides can agree.
The president said that Republican tactics have repeatedly hurt the economy. He told Congress, “How business is done in this town has to change.” The president said the political class needs to stop focusing on the bloggers, the talking heads, the lobbyists, and the professional political activists that profit from conflict. President Obama said that there are many obstacles, but that doesn’t mean that both sides can’t make progress.
The president laid out three areas where Democrats and Republicans can agree. His first area was passing a balanced budget. President Obama said that, “We shouldn’t approach this process of creating a budget as an ideological exercise.” We need both cuts and growth. The president said that the challenge now isn’t deficits, but protecting Medicare and Social Security for future generations. Obama suggested closing corporate tax loopholes to raise revenue. He repeatedly said the deficits we have are shrinking, and the nation’s problem is long term debt.
His second area was immigration reform. President Obama said that there is a broad coalition of support on both sides for comprehensive immigration reform. Obama spoke directly to the House. The Senate passed their bill, and he said if the House had ideas, let’s hear them.
The president’s third area was passage of a Farm Bill. Once again, he noted that the Senate passed a bipartisan Farm Bill, but it just sitting in the House.
The President said that these things can be done if we focus on the American people.
President Obama was speaking to all of the country, but his remarks were specifically directed at House Republicans. His message to them was to stop holding back on things that both sides agree on because the extremists in their party don’t like compromise.
Obama told House Republicans to stop breaking government because they disagree with a policy, or don’t like him. President Obama told House Republicans that if they don’t like his policies, go win elections. The president correctly noted that this isn’t the way the Founders intended our government to work.
The president said that House Republicans can’t let disagreement degenerate into hatred. He thanked furloughed workers, and closed by quoting the Pledge of Allegiance.
President Obama’s message was Republicans have to stop breaking the government when they disagree. This speech was offering Republicans an alternate route to the path that they have been on. He laid out three policy areas where Republicans can join with him to do good for the country.
The president is offering Republicans a chance to redeem themselves. Whether or not they choose to accept his offer, will be determined by whether or not party leadership continues to let the extremists steer the ship. Obama isn’t offering House Republicans anything, but a chance to get their act together and do the right thing.