What are We The People supposed to do when our government refuses to pursue justice? Should we turn a blind eye when the United States Department of Justice essentially declares the big banks who wrecked our economy and forever destroyed the futures of millions of Americans “too big to jail”? What should be the public response when the only ones to be held accountable for bad financial decisions are the little people? How should we react when the weak-tea ‘fixes’ put in place by a corporately-owned Congress are systematically watered down to inconsequence?
Most of us would probably say that the least we could do is protest. It’s the only tool we have in our arsenal. And so there have been protests. The entire Occupy movement was a protest against the banks themselves. But for all the awareness Occupy raised, it did not produce change. It did not bring justice. In fact, in city after city, we saw Occupy protesters arrested, gassed, tased and beaten. The People, apparently, are not too big to jail.
Since the Occupy summer, millions of Americans have lost their homes, many of them to illegal foreclosure practices by the big banks. The government’s solution, again rather than prosecuting this malfeasance, was to sign off on a settlement which will award most victims a whopping $300.
“Lost your home? Credit destroyed? Here! Have $300.”
Even the bad ol’ Bush administration prosecuted Enron and WorldCom. Even Bush the 1st prosecuted over a 1,000 criminal cases in the wake of the S & L crisis of the 80′s. (Although they did also create the concept of “too big to fail” by bailing out Continental Illinois.) This time around? Nada.
So homeowners, organized by Home Defenders League and Occupy Our Homes, wronged by the banks and failed by the Obama administration’s Department of Justice, spent two days this week protesting the lack of Justice.
“Everyone here is fed up with Holder acknowledging big banks did really bad stuff but [saying] they’re too big to jail,” says Greg Basta, deputy director of New York Communities for Change, who helped organize the event. Holder has previously suggested that prosecuting large banks would be difficult because it could destabilize the economy. The attorney general recently tried to walk those comments back – but the conspicuous lack of criminal prosecutions of bankers tells another story…
Alexis Goldstein, a former Wall Street employee and current Occupy Wall Street activist who was also at the event on Monday, agrees. “I want Eric Holder to uphold the rule of law, regardless of how much power the criminal has,” says Goldstein. She says the lack of criminal prosecutions has created a “culture of immunity” that only gets further entrenched by the small settlements that banks now consider a cost of doing business. “There’s no risk,” she says, adding that the DOJ is effectively “incentivizing breaking the law.”
Yay! We The People fight back! Power to the people!
And what was the result of this action? Zero acknowledgement from the Department of Justice, Holder, or anyone else in the administration. (With a little police brutality thrown in for good measure.)
Activists note with dismay that the government has been significantly harder on people who stage nonviolent demonstrations against Wall Street than it has on the crooked bankers responsible for the housing crisis. Goldstein and Basta both say they witnessed law enforcement using tasers on multiple protesters this week.
So while the Wall Street elite who took down, not just the US, but the global economy are off scot-free and once again raking it in hand over fist, the few Americans willing to speak out are arrested and tasered. USA! USA!
Quick! Name a former Bush-era Secretary of Defense from whom you’d take moral advice. Easy, right? Donald Rumsfeld, obvs. While it is beyond this blogger’s comprehension why anyone would choose to interview Mr. Rumsfeld in 2013, let alone to ask him about marriage equality, it is nonetheless true that Larry King did just that. (And yes, I too thought Larry King had retired.)
KING: Do you support same-sex marriage?
RUMSFELD: You know, I’m, I guess, of a generation that I don’t — I wonder — I listened to some of the Supreme Court justices and one of them said, ‘Well what’s next after that? Is it two people, three people?‘
KING: But you were a strong supporter of civil rights in Congress — I remember that.
RUMSFELD: You bet I was, throughout the 60s. I was proud of the work that the Congress did in the 1964 legislation and 1965 legislation. I guess I just don’t equate the two, and it’s not a subject I’m knowledgeable about. I guess the Rumsfeld rule here is: I don’t know.
So interesting interview in a few ways. First, we find that Rumsfeld is still worried about the impact of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s repeal on unit cohesion; and those unfamiliar with Rumsfeld’s history prior to the Bush years learn he was a big supporter of civil rights. But of course the headline take-away is that Rumsfeld thinks same-sex marriage could be a slippery slope to polygamy.
Still, while Donald Rumsfeld is definitely not one of my favorite people, I’m going to cut him some slack here. While many media outlets (Think Progress, Talking Points Memo, HuffPo…) want to make hay out of Rumsfeld’s homophobic beliefs, I think the real take-away from the interview is that Donald Rumsfeld is OLD. And, like many old people, he isn’t quite sure what to think about this whole gay marriage thing. He seems to want to be open-minded and cognizant of the times, but it just doesn’t sit right in the ol’ noggin. How else to explain that a person who supported civil rights in the 60′s can’t see a correlation now?
But hey, one need only look at the polling to see that support for gay and lesbian rights is found mainly in younger Americans. Rumsfeld is just part of his generation. And apparently old people are all terribly worried about polygamy.
Natural disasters are for the most part unpredictable. We know there will be some every year, but we have no way of knowing where they will hit and how large each event’s impact will be. This is why the Federal budget doesn’t contain a finite allowance for natural disaster relief. This is also one reason why demanding spending offsets elsewhere in exchange for disaster relief funds is nothing more than political bullshit.
Ah, there’s no time like the aftermath of a devastating emergency to look for budget cuts! (It’s called compassion, or something.) In the wake of a horrifying EF5 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma on Monday, the people of that state find themselves watching the amazing spectacle of having their elected representatives calling for a round of horse trading over budget cuts before sending any financial assistance to tornado victims.
In fact, Senator Tom Coburn may not support an aid package in any event.
“I think anytime we do an emergency supplemental bill, I believe we ought to pay for it. It’s hard to equate when you’re wasting at least $200 billion a year on fraud, duplication and waste in the federal government, that we would go and borrow more money rather than fix the waste. I’ve always had that position, it doesn’t matter where it is, and Oklahomans basically have that position.”
Coburn said donations to nonprofits, aid from the private sector, and work and financial assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Association were sufficient to cover the needs of those affected by the tornado. [The Hill]
It’s just like with health care — we don’t need no stinking gubmint, charity is the answer! But what about the children?!? (You say.) Tom Coburn says “bah”.
“The very kids that were rescued from the school, the very kids we’re interested in — why should we saddle them when we’re wasting money?”
“It’s just not an appropriate way to run the future for our children,” he added.
So to summarize: Tom Coburn thinks tornado victims don’t even need an aid package because they’ll be just fine with charitable handouts and their bootstraps; and in any case, he will definitely not be voting for any aid package without offsets from other government programs; and also he is doing this for the children. Thank goodness this nutbag will be leaving office in 2016.
His colleague, Senator James Inhofe (of ”global warming is a hoax” fame) does appear to want federal relief for his constituents, despite his vote against relief for Hurricane Sandy victims a few short months ago. But, you know, that was different. (Totally not hypocritical!)
“That [Sandy aid bill] was totally different,” Inhofe told MSNBC. “That was supposed to be in New Jersey; they had things in the Virgin Islands, they were fixing roads there. They were putting roofs on houses in Washington, D.C. Everyone was getting in and exploiting the tragedy that took place. That won’t happen in Oklahoma.”
You’ll have to excuse Inhofe, a firm non-believer in science, for not understanding that hurricanes tend to hit more than one area. At any rate, this seems to suggest that Inhofe, unlike Coburn, may support relief for Oklahoma even without offsets. But we shall see. Personally, I can’t wait to see Coburn voting against disaster aid for his state. #popcorn
So the Republican party of Virginia has itself a brand spanking new nominee for Lieutenant Governor and — diversity alert! — he’s black. He’s also a tea partying nutter, a minister, and believes that Planned Parenthood is way more evil to blacks than the KKK ever was. No, seriously:
The Democrat Party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was.
But don’t worry, kids! The fine reverend isn’t a one hit wonder, there’s more.
He also argued in 2011 that it was inappropriate for Obama to sit in a church where a pastor would bring up slavery.
“This is 2011. The issue of slavery was settled 146 years ago,” Jackson said in the same statement. “For the President of the United States to sit in yet another church where the Pastor dredges up the past as if nothing has changed demonstrates either tremendously poor judgment or that Mr. Obama shares this sentiment. Either way, it is divisive and destructive, and the President should be above such associations.”
“In Chicago, the anti-Jewish sentiment among black people is even more pronounced because of the direct influence of Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam,” he continued. “The question is whether Obama, given his Muslim roots and experience in Farrakhan’s Chicago, shares this antipathy for Israel and Jewish people.”
In an April 28, 2011 statement while he was a Senate candidate, conservative minister and lawyer E.W. Jackson held up the three-fifths clause as an “anti-slavery” measure. The context of his statement was to attack President Obama after a pastor at a church service he attended referred to the three-fifths clause as a historical marker of racism.
“Rev. [Charles Wallace] Smith must not have understood the 3/5ths clause was an anti-slavery amendment. Its purpose was to limit the voting power of slave holding states,” Jackson, an African-American, said in his statement.
How any American, let alone a black American, could be so mind-numbingly wrong about our Constitution’s most infamous provision is beyond me. I mean he’s got it completely bass-ackwards, doesn’t he? Slaves didn’t gain anything from the compromise, the measure simply went to strengthening the political power of Southern states — if anything, extending the institution of slavery in the U.S. How can anyone not know this?
It all sort of goes back to the crazy idea that America is a nation blessed by God which attaches some sort of divine providence to The Constitution. The three-fifths compromise is a tricky thing for the constitutionalist, much like all those tricky little parts of the Bible are for fundamentalist Christians. I guess E.W. Jackson’s confusion should really be expected in this light.
At any rate, congratulations, Virginia! Your slate of GOP nominees include a Lt. Governor candidate who thinks the 3/5 compromise was swell; a candidate for Governor who wants to reinstate an anti-sodomy law already struck down by the Supreme Court and who moved to end LGBT protections at state colleges; and an Attorney General nominee who would force women to report all miscarriages to the police for investigation or face jail time. May the voters reward you.
What do you get when you cross Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign with a Harlequin Romance? The steamy new, sure-to-be best-seller Fires of Siberia, that’s what! Yes, gawd help us, Michele Bachmann has managed to inspire a lot of things since she burst upon the national scene a few years back, and she has now managed to inspire a romance novel. (A sexy-time romance novel, kids!) Full of danger, passion and steamy, steamy red state sexy-time in the tundra. (Did we mention steamy?)
Inspired by the life of Tea Party leader and Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, “Fires of Siberia” is an old-fashioned bodice ripper romance that brings the heat for the 2013 summer beach reading season. Presidential candidate Danielle Powers, full of firebrand pluck and red state sex appeal, has the country in a tizzy. But on an international tour to beef up her foreign policy experience, disaster ensues—her plane explodes over Siberia. Miraculously, Danielle survives, along with one other passenger—a mysterious stranger named Steadman Bass. Trapped in a wilderness of snow and ice, the two begin a journey that pushes Danielle to the brink. There she must confront her deepest self and choose between civilization and a wild, primitive ecstasy. [Press Release - Badlands Unlimited, publisher]
Coming June 1st to Kindles and iPads, all 153 pages can be yours for only $2.99. (I’m pre-ordering now!) Publisher Badlands Unlimited has provided some excerpts:
“…If you could tell me just one thing about yourself, something that has nothing to do with politics, what would it be? What makes you Danielle Powers?”
Danielle looked pensively at the reporter as they approached the airport. For once she felt appreciative of the question. Everyone was always nettling, trying to make her slip on the banana peels of her own responses. (Who cares if it was John Wayne or John Wayne Gacy.) It was nice to be asked about who she was rather than what they wanted her to be.
From the duffel bag Steadman retrieved a pair of sandwiches and two nips of Chivas Regal, and there was the snow for them to slurp as drinking water. He laid down a plastic tarp and three wool blankets. They ate and drank in silence.
Afterward, the fatigue caught up to her. She crawled under the blankets to warm herself.
“We’ll need to use each other for body heat,” Steadman said.
Cover art aside, the creepiest part about this has to be knowing that Sarah Palin is probably watching the whole thing from her house.
Here’s the thing: the Republican Party, as evidenced by the 2012 election, has serious problems. They are long-term, systemic problems exacerbated by a sea change in U.S. demographics. Following the shellacking they took in November, the party was going to do some soul searching. Soon, they abandoned soul-searching for re-branding. Now they’re just going for diversion . Much as they did with Bill Clinton in the 90′s, they seem bent on trying to build themselves up by tearing the other guy down. It didn’t work in 1998 and it’s not working now.
CNN reported on Sunday that 53% of people questioned in the survey said they approve of the job the president is doing, with 45% saying they disapprove. The president’s approval rating was at 51% in CNN’s previous poll, from early April…
The new numbers indicate that Obama remains popular, with 79% of Americans saying the president is likable.
But views of the GOP have moved in the opposite direction. Fifty-nine percent of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of the Republican Party, tying the all-time record for negative views of the GOP. That’s a five-point increase since March, and raises the possibility that the public approves of the GOP’s actions on IRS and Benghazi but might be put off by the way the party has been making its point. Favorable ratings for the Democratic Party are up six points in that same time. [CNN]
These results, mind you, are coming in the midst of scandalmania – “the worst case of executive branch corruption ever” — bigger than Watergate and Iran-Contra combined, with whipped cream and a cherry (and probably some Kenyan Muslin terrorists) on top!
How can that be? Is it that the public just isn’t getting the stories from the bad ol’ lamestream media? Is the media sugar-coating it and spinning it in the President’s favor? Actually, polling says no. The public is aware of the scandals and thinks they are serious. They just don’t seem much to care.
You see, the GOP has been turned up to 11 since the day Obama took office. If you’re constantly screaming at the top of your lungs, fomenting faux outrage over faux scandals for 4 1/2 years, people tend to tune you out. They discount your intentions. Which is why the American public views every cry of dismay from Republican lips as political opportunism.
It may also not have passed notice that Republican obstruction is responsible for the complete lack of anything-getting-done. The public generally doesn’t want more hearings on Benghazi! or the IRS. They would, however, like to see something done to create jobs, address immigration, fund schools, fix the remaining issues with the healthcare bill, secure food safety, keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, make college affordable, support working families, address climate change, guarantee truly secure retirement for seniors… You get the idea. There are dozens of areas in need of legislative effort. Instead, we get bupkis on legislative output and more scandal screaming, more impeachment calls, more hysteria all the time.
The result, unsurprisingly, is a party at the nadir of its popularity. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” These words have often been mis-attributed to Albert Einstein, but no matter who said them, it’s an apt bit of advice for today’s GOP. Time to go back to some soul-searching.
You know what they say: when it rains, it pours — the way things are going right now, Michele Bachmann might just be looking around for a Marine with an umbrella. Things have taken a turn since late 2011 when Bachmann hit the apex of her political career, winning the Ames Straw Poll, and then appearing, against all odds, coherent in a handful of televised GOP presidential debates. But by January the shine was gone, and after finishing 6th in the actual Iowa caucus, she relinquished her presidential ambitions. By November, she managed to barely eke out a win to retain her congressional seat.
For Bachmann, the more prominent she becomes on the national stage, the more difficult it is for her to hang on to her House seat. For all her TV histrionics calling for an investigation into the Anti-American activities of liberals; for all her protests over the tyranny of health care reform ; even for her establishment of a Tea Party Caucus — nothing raised her national profile as much as that presidential campaign. So it is perhaps a tad ironic that it’s the presidential campaign that may just end her career.
Already under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Federal Elections Commission and an Iowa state Senate ethics committee, the FBI is now joining the probe of the Bachmann campaign. In Iowa, an ethics committee is looking into whether the campaign improperly paid a state senator. The FEC and Office of Congressional Ethics are looking into ”a range of allegations related to Bachmann’s failed presidential campaign, including charges that she improperly used campaign funds to promote her book, that her campaign “launder[ed]” money, and that one of her staffers stole an email list from a home-school organization.” The addition of the FBI into the mix means we’re looking at not just ethic violations, but possible criminal activity, as well.
It remains to be seen how the investigations will pan out, but they are already taking their toll on Bachmann’s reelection prospects in 2014. Democrat Jim Graves, who Bachmann defeated by a skin-of-her-teeth margin of fewer than 5000 votes last go-round, is now polling ahead of Bachmann by two points.
The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling showed Democratic hotel magnate Jim Graves edging Bachmann among voters in Minnesota’ Sixth Congressional District 47 percent to 45 percent. Graves announced recently that he will challenge Bachmann once again next year after falling to the tea party champion in a close race last year. (TPM)
So keep your fingers crossed, boys and girls! Enjoy the patented Bachmann-style calls for impeachment while you can — we may not have ol’ Crazy-Eyes Bachmann in the House much longer.