Archive for the ‘Republicans’ Category

Art Robinson

October 10, 2012


Art Robinson contemplating what kind of bullshit people will believe next.

When I was driving through rural Oregon the other day, I was dismayed to see signs promoting the congressional candidacy of the bizarre cult leader respected scientist and politician, Art Robinson. Robinson’s website is worth checking out. It is a compendium of many of the pea-brained sophistries that pass for informed opinion in this country nowadays. For example, here is Robinson’s discussion of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution:

    Nevertheless, our congressional representatives – all of whom swear an oath to uphold the Constitution – flagrantly disregard the 10th Amendment. They do this largely by using public funds to pay for government agencies that constantly violate this Amendment and by the issuance of “mandates” that dictate “required” state and local actions.

    Robinson lost the 2010 election to Pete DeFazio. Several months later, Robinson began telling people that Oregon State University was planning on expelling his three children, who were graduate students there, as retaliation for his running against DeFazio.

    What excuse do congressmen give for violating the 10th Amendment? Mostly, they just ignore it, without giving any excuse at all. If pressed, some point to the Constitution.

    “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    ~ Preamble

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States . . .
    ~Article 1, Section 8

    Citing the phrase “promote (or provide for) the general Welfare,” they claim that this permits Congress to do anything it decides will be good for general welfare – anything at all! This is bogus.

This is what the 10th Amendment says:

    The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

So, if the Constitution says that Congress has the power to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” that means that power has been delegated to it by the Constitution.

Robinsosn has a PhD in chemistry. One can only wonder how a man with such apparently poor reading comprehension skills was able to earn an advanced degree (or even a high school diploma, for that matter). One can only assume that he did it through sheer force of will.

On the issue of energy, Robinson writes:

    Nuclear and hydroelectric electricity are inexpensive, clean, and safe. Spent nuclear fuel – so-called “nuclear waste” – is easily disposed of by nuclear fuel re-cycling, a method used in other countries but prohibited by misguided government policies in the U.S. Coal, oil, and natural gas are indispensable for many purposes. Solar and wind are expensive and resource-intensive, but useful in remote locations.

Wow, that PhD didn’t do Art much good, did it? Other countries have the same problems disposing of spent nuclear fuels that we do. Art writes:

    Energy development need not cost the American taxpayer a single cent.

Especially since nuclear energy is not economically viable without government subsidies. I’m starting to get the sinking feeling that PhD’s are over-rated.

Robinson is opposed to women’s reproductive rights. He calls for the immediate deportation of all “illegal” immigrants. And he blames government regulations for the poor state of the economy, although it was actually under-regulation of the banking industry that led to the financial meltdown of 2008.

Robinson lost to Pete DeFazio in the 2010 election. Several months later, Robinson began telling people that Oregon State University was planning to expel his three children, who were graduate students there. He initially claimed that this was being done as retaliation for his opposing DeFazio. However, when a reporter asked Robinson for more details, he became mysteriously vague:

    I don’t have definitive proof,” Robinson said. “That is what I believe. Basically, I know what happened. I cannot tell you the motives of the people doing it.

Nevertheless, this shocking news compelled a group of gullible idiots
red-blooded Americans to take action. They held a demonstration at the OSU campus demanding justice for the Robinson children. This was met by a counter-demonstration of students, who did not care to have their school’s reputation impugned by a group of illiterate yahoos
concerned citizens.

This is the type of man who wants to represent us in Congress. Art Robinson: a choice, not an echo.

Good Vibrations

September 27, 2012


Good, clean, wholesome fun. Plus backstabbing.

Just when you thought that the long, tortured saga of the Beach Boys couldn’t possibly get any more surreal, they are back in the news. That’s right, everyone’s favorite dysfunctional California family is at it again. Just recently, Mike Love, who owns the rights to the band’s name, fired fellow band members, Brian Wilson, Al Jardine, and David Marks. The reasons are pecuniary. You see, the Beach Boys have planned an upcoming reunion tour. Love explains:

    You’ve got to be careful not to get overexposed. There are promoters who are interested [in more shows by the reunited line-up], but they’ve said, ‘Give it a rest for a year’. The Eagles found out the hard way when they went out for a second year and wound up selling tickets for $5.”

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t even pay five dollars to see the Eagles. Lyin’ Eyes was the most overplayed song of the 1970’s. Seriously, if I ever hear that song again, it’s possible that I might get violent. Anyway, you would think that Love would imagine the Beach Boys to be more popular than the Eagles. I guess he must be a self-effacing guy. He is still planning on having the reunion tour, although he will be the only original member of the band. That’s right, Love will be having a reunion with himself. Several years ago, I saw a reunion of Jefferson Airplane. It had two original members of the band, so I guess it qualified as a reunion of sorts. What Love is doing, however, strikes me as being the musical equivalent of one hand clapping.

Not surprisingly, there has been some sour grapes about all this. Brian Wilson said:

    I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he doesn’t want to tour with Al, David, and me… We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys.

So, all Brian Wilson wants to do is have fun, whereas his cousin, Mike Love, wants to make money. Clearly, Love is the more serious person. I suspect that Wilson belongs to that 47% of the population that Mitt Romney says is sponging off the other fifty-three percent. (It’s perhaps worth noting here that Love is a Republican.) You can’t stop progress, Brian Wilson. If you don’t like it, start your own band.

Oh, wait…

(The author is currently working on a biography of the Beach Boys titled, Those Wacky Wilsons. Look for it at a finer bookstore near you.)

Mapping American Decline

September 11, 2012


1980


2010

USA Today has two maps on its website, showing which counties in the U.S. have substantial poverty rates. (You can find an interactive version of the maps here. One is for 1980 and the other is for 2010. The colored areas indicate a poverty rate of 20% or more. The dark brown areas indicate poverty among the elderly, the light brown areas indicate childhood poverty, and the gray areas indicate a combination of the two.

Overall, the maps give the impression that Americans are poorer today than they were thirty years ago. Also, there has been a shift from poverty among the old to poverty among children. This is perhaps because declining wages have resulted in more children being raised in poverty. One is also struck by the increase in the poverty rate in Western states (with the notable exception of Utah). This may indicate that the inland West is being largely passed over in the new globalized neoliberal economy.

One thing that is clear from these maps is that the southern half of the U.S. has always been poorer than the northern half. This is probably the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and so-called “right-to-work” laws. This shows what a sorry joke the much bally-hooed “New South” is. It’s worth noting that while the population of this part of the country has been steadily increasing, it has apparently not gotten any wealthier.

There are two large areas where poverty has not apparently increased substantially. One is a region that the French geographer, Jean Gottmann, called “Megalopolis”. It extends roughly from Boston along the Atlantic coast to Washinton, D.C. (Judging from these maps, one can add northern Virginia, Vermont, and New Hampshire to this.) This is the most densely populated region in the country. (Note how lightly populated counties in the West have gotten poorer.) It’s also a region with major port cities. This no doubt shows the importance of global trade to the economy. This region also has a good deal of high tech companies

The Great Lakes region has has also been relatively steady, with the notable exceptions of Michigan and Ohio, which have been hit hard by outsourcing in the automobile industry.

Also indicating the importance of trade and technology is the fact that the major West Coast ports, plus the Silicon Valley and Hawaii, have been doing comparatively well. Los Angeles and Long Beach appear to be the exceptions here, but bear in mind that Los Angeles County covers an enormous area, mostly desert and mountains, so this may be deceiving.

Note also that the poorer states tend to be what pundits call “red states”, that is, they tend to vote for the Republican candidate in presidential elections. Since Republicans don’t even pretend to care about the poor, one must assume that this is due to social conservatism. Clearly, we on the left have our work cut out for us.

Some Thoughts on the Republican Convention

September 2, 2012


“You shoulda seen it. The corn dog was this big! And I ate the whole thing!” The audience roars its approval.

You’ve got to admire the discipline of the Republican Party. They managed to make it through their three-day convention with only a few racist incidents. Truly, this is a party ready to rule.

In his keynote speech, Chris Christie, the morbidly obese governor of New Jersey, bragged about how his state has had a balanced budget three years in a row. This drew rapturous applause from the audience. Of course, Christie neglected to mention that New Jersey’s economy is doing worse than the rest of the country’s. After all, balanced budgets don’t create economic prosperity. Had Christie mentioned this fact, though, it would not have mattered to the delegates. For Republicans, a balanced budget is the Holy Grail of public policy. It is the ultimate goal of their holy quest. Strange to say, the last three Republican presidents failed to have balance budgets, an unfortunate result of their enthusiasm for foreign adventures and tax cuts for their friends. Ah, human frailty.

There has been a lot of grousing about all the lies that Paul Ryan told in his acceptance speech. Well, what do you expect the poor guy to do? Do you really think people are going to get excited about the prospect of paying higher taxes just so that rich people – er, I mean job creators – can pay lower taxes? So, instead Ryan takes us into an alternate reality, complete with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.

As for Clint Eastwood’s much maligned speech, I actually found it entertaining. My only criticism is that instead of an empty chair, he should have had a ventriloquist dummy that looked like Obama. That would have worked more smoothly. I noticed that when Eastwood mentioned that Obama has been going around to colleges and universities to talk about student loans, the crowd laughed uproariously. I guess there is nothing that old white people find funnier than the thought of the younger generation drowning in debt.

Romney’s speech was simply dull and dishonest, which was appropriate for the occasion.

Driving a Stake Through Ron Paul’s Heart

August 29, 2012


“Gee, you mean those articles are racist? Gosh, I guess I should read my own newsletter.”

There is one thing I will say for Mitt Romney: any man who disrespects Ron Paul can’t be all bad. Paul is the right-wing libertarian who is mistakenly believed to be “anti-imperialist” by some of the more gullible sections of the left. Romney’s supporters prevented some Maine delegates for Paul from being seated at the Republican National Convention. If you ask me, the fewer Paul supporters there are, the better off we all are. Earlier today, Paul supporters chanted “USA! USA!” while a Puerto Rican woman was trying to speak. Republicans are so classy.

Seventeen delegates from Nevada illegally voted for Paul. I honestly can’t see how anyone from Nevada can be a libertarian. The state’s whole economy is based on government infrastructure. I guess these Nevada libertarians want to shut down Hoover Dam and turn Las Vegas into a ghost town. (Hmm, Las Vegas as a ghost town would be a pretty good roadside attraction. My inner capitalist is intrigued.) Or maybe they want the casinos to each have their own coal-fired power plant.

A number of people have observed that the states that receive the most government largesse are the one where you hear the most violent anti-government rhetoric. I don’t what the psychological reason for this is, but I wish to hell people would cut it out.

The Campaign

August 21, 2012

In a post earlier this year, I deplored the dearth of good movie comedies in recent years. It seems I spoke too soon, for I’ve seen four good comedies this year: Damsels in Distress, Moonrise Kingdom, Bernie, and now The Campaign. Although broad in its humor, this film is nevertheless a shrewd satire of the corruption and moral hypocrisy that pervade our political system.

Cam Brady (Will Ferrell), a priapic Democratic congressman from North Carolina, is running unopposed for re-election, until he comes into the cross-hairs of the billionaire Motch brothers (Dan Ackroyd and John Lithgow), whose factories in China employ child labor. They want to open up similar factories in Brady’s congressional district. To this end, they persuade Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the well-intentioned, but not terribly bright, scion of a wealthy family, to run against Brady as a Republican. When Brady humiliates Huggins in their first debate, the Motches decide to bring in Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott), an unprincipled political operator, to run Huggins’s campaign. Under Wattley’s tutelage, Huggins becomes an increasingly ruthless campaigner. Soon he and Brady are in a tight race.

The Campaign accurately parodies the shallow rhetoric of election campaigns in this country, including pandering to religious prejudice, spouting about “family values”, and making cheap appeals to patriotism. This movie’s cynicism, however, goes overboard sometimes. When, for example, Brady releases a video of himself having sex with Huggins’s wife, Mitzi (Sarah Baker), it causes Brady to pull ahead of Huggins in the polls. Would this happen in real life? Obviously not.

This film has a happy ending that seems tacked on and unconvincing. It seems that that the screenwriters, Chris Henchy and Shawn Harwell, and the director, Jay Roach, wanted to reassure us that “the system works”, despite having just demonstrated that the system does not work. Still, this movie will provide a welcome relief to those who are weary of this interminable and depressing presidential election.

Paul Ryan

August 12, 2012

It used to be that the Republicans would run as the “no new taxes” party. Now we have a Republican ticket that is effectively promising to raise taxes on most Americans, while giving huge tax cuts to the richest Americans. At the risk of sounding portentous, I can’t help but wonder if we are entering a new phase of capitalism, one in which politicians no longer even pretend to care about the general welfare. Ronald Reagan pretended to be a friend of the working class, even as he attacked workers’ living standards. Romney and Ryan are effectively giving the finger to the working class. They are here to benefit the rich, and they want everyone to know it. The question is: how many Americans will buy this? True, there are a lot of people who have read Atlas Shrugged, but there are a lot more who haven’t. Not everybody has been indoctrinated into the Randroid zombie army. Not yet, anyway.

There must be a deep affinity between Romney and Ryan, for one can see no other reason why Romney would choose him. According to this article in the New York Times, Ryan doesn’t give Romney any electoral advantage. Being a Catholic, he won’t help the Mormon Romney with evangelicals, although he won’t hurt him either. The Catholic fanatic, Rick Santorum, had his strongest support during the primaries among Protestant fundamentalists. (Interestingly, Santorum tended to do poorly in states with large Catholic populations.)

Ryan’s proposed budget calls for cuts in Social Security and effectively scrapping Medicare. As I have pointed out before, attacking Social Security and Medicare is a losing argument for the Republicans, since their largest voting base consists of old people. Ryan has even echoed Rick Perry’s claim that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Perhaps Romney and Ryan are gambling that their supporters are too senile to know what they are talking about.

In this admiring article about Ryan from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (“Wisconsin’s Free Market Think Tank”), we learn: “With his father’s passing, young Paul collected Social Security benefits until age 18, which he put away for college.” Assuming that Ryan is a principled man, he would certainly want to return his ill-gotten gains from our national Ponzi scheme, wouldn’t he?

Obamacare Lives

June 29, 2012

I owe John Roberts an apology. I had written him off as nothing more than a right-wing hack. It turns out that he is smarter than I thought. In arguing for the majority in their ruling on Obamacare, he wrote: “The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance.” That’s exactly what the individual mandate is: a tax on people who cannot afford health insurance.

All my liberal friends are high fiving one another over this decision. Yet this bill will not expand the social safety net. True, it does expand Medicaid, but it also makes cuts in Medicare. The result is a zero sum game. Obamacare will not solve the health care crisis. It will merely change the parameters of the crisis.

Cory Booker: Mitt Romney’s Best Friend

May 22, 2012


Cory Booker sharing a laugh with his good buddy, Chris Christie, the morbidly obese governor of New Jersey.

The Democrats have always been an extraordinarily feckless lot, but Newark Mayor Cory Booker has set a record for sheer stupidity. The most potent weapon in the Obama campaign’s meager arsenal is Romney’s history of sleazy business dealings. So, what does Booker do? He goes on Meet the Press and says of the Obama campaign’s criticism’s of Bain Capital, “It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough.” In almost no time, the Republicans put out a campaign ad featuring Booker’s comments. They also put out an online petition urging people to “Stand with Cory”. What Booker did was the political equivalent of hitting Obama in the knee with a tire iron.

Booker now complains that the Republicans have “manipulated” his comments. Well, duh. Booker attacks his own party’s electoral strategy, and he is surprised when the Republicans take advantage of this. Oh, please.

The Democrats are a joke. Always have been, always will be.

Third party anyone?

Rick Santorum

March 21, 2012

I suspect that Rick Santorum may have made a fatal error in saying that he wants to outlaw pornography. This could be a mistake on the same level as Rick Perry saying that he wants to scrap Social Security. It could cost Santorum the college frat boy vote. The two main voting blocs of the Republican Party are old people and college frat boys. It’s one thing to deny contraception to college women, but God forbid you should deny porn to college frat boys.