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Politics

Bernie Attacks Corporation for Massive Price of Medicine

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants answers. Sanders is running for president and he wants to know why a company jacked up its price per pill of a drug called Daraprim from $13.50 per tablet to $750.

Sanders and US House Representative Elijah Cummings wrote, “The enormous, overnight price increase for Daraprim is just the latest in a long list of skyrocketing price increases for certain critical medications.”

His opponent for the Democratic presidential nomination has yet to address the issue of medicinal price gouging, other than to say it’s outrageous. Hillary Clinton said, she’ll release a plan to combat this problem tomorrow.

Bernie 2016 T-Shirts and Junk for sale

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Politics

Republicans Cling to Last Remaining Social Issue – Abortion

It seems like out of nowhere, Republican politicians have taken the most extreme anti-abortion position – that all abortions should be illegal.

At one point, Republicans allowed for exceptions, like rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. But now, major Republican candidates have jettisoned the exceptions.

On CNN Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee explained why he supports forcing a 10-year-old to give birth to her rapist’s baby.

Marco Rubio has also staked out his position on when abortions should be allowed – never. Rubio said he doubts there are ever instances in which a woman’s life is saved from having an abortion. So no exception to save the life of the mother. And he said that while it’s a hard choice to make, Rubio thinks all rape and incest victims who get pregnant should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term. It’s easier for the victims of rape and incest if Rubio just makes the choice for them.

Rubio said, “I’ve personally reached the conclusion if I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life, on the side of protecting a human being.”

Scott Walker is also falling in line with this very extreme position.

During the first Republican nomination debate, Walker said, “I’ve said many times that that unborn child can be protected and there are many alternatives that would protect the life of the mother.”

He never said what those alternatives might be, but Walker’s certain that there must be, and if not, I don’t think he cares.

This hard right turn on abortion highlights the Republican party’s glaring problem. That is, how to keep people voting against their own economic self-interest by voting for Republican candidates.

Gay marriage worked for a little while, but that jig is up. Racism is still a viable issue for Republicans in gerrymandered US House races, but on the national stage, candidates can’t broadcast their racist views on national television. Racism has to be more subtle, but not abortion. With abortion the GOP can let their freak flag fly, and in the race to the White House in 2016, that’s what they’re doing.

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Politics

Why Donald Trump Matters

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Donald Trump matters because Trump’s candidacy is the most boisterously obnoxious evidence to support the growing empirical case that the Republican Party can no longer function as a national political party.

The Republican party has been taken over by a group of people who hate government and have no interest in helping government serve the people. Today the Republican party has fully embraced the notion that the government is the problem and that it’s their duty to stop it. Yet contrary to the believe that the government is always wrong, Republicans today have no problem doling out tax breaks and kickbacks to wildly profitable companies like ExxonMobil.

So with that as the basis of the party’s platform, it’s no wonder that someone like Trump could do well. Trump doesn’t know the first thing about government or governing, but that’s not what he’s selling. Trump is saying, “Look. I’m not going to go to DC to govern. I’m going there to kick some ass and get stuff done. The way I do it in the corporate world.”

It’s not much different than the argument George W. Bush made in 2000. He was the governor of Texas for a few years. Other than that, Bush worked for his father’s political machine and he cashed out big on his Texas Rangers investment. In 1989, Bush invested $800,000 in the baseball team then sold his share in 1998 for $15 million.

Running for the presidency, Bush positioned himself as the CEO candidate. Even though his corporate career consisted of a bit of bungling around in the 1980s, Bush promised to bring his capitalist skills to the Oval office and revolutionize Washington – get things done. Bush did get things done. His presidency consisted of massive terrorist attacks, war and war profiteering and ended with the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression.

George W. Bush represented the continued Republican party degradation that really began with President Ronald Reagan. Reagan successfully planted the seeds and cultivated hatred toward the federal government. In addition to slashing regulations, taxes on the wealthy, and a full assault on social programs, the Republican party’s message to it’s base for the late 35 years is that the federal government is the problem.

It’s the perfect message. Democrats tend to be left of center and supportive of government action to help people with education, health care, retirement, whatever. So the GOP labels the Democratic party as the party of Big Government while blasting the very notion that government should exist in any form other than that which aids capitalistic endeavors.

And underlying all of what the Republican party does lies capitalism. The view of capitalists of government is one that sees government’s responsibility is to help capitalists and capitalism. The capitalists seek low wages, no environment regulations, high profits and no taxes.

To masquerade some of those less politically palatable ideas, like low wages, ending public education and destruction of the environment, the Republican party will often focus on social issues, like abortion or gay marriage. It’s an effective technique to draw the voter’s attention away from those policies that may be against the voter’s own economic self-interest.

And Trump manifests all of what the GOP is today. It’s the party that loathes brown people, whether it’s the immigrants cleaning your hotel room or black folks killed by the police, like Sandra Bland. It’s the party that never wanted to lose the marriage equality argument because it drew so many small-minded people out to vote Republican. It’s the party that will never overturn Roe v. Wade because without abortion the Republican party would cease to exist.

Unlike Bush, Trump’s not pretending he’s going to do anything positive while in office. He’s going to pick a war with Mexico. He’ll probably bomb Iran. Trump is going to go full Trump all over DC, if he’s elected president. And no one knows for sure what that will look like, but it won’t be pretty.

Fortunately, or unfortunately if you write about politics, Trump won’t be the next president, but the fact that he’s leading by a lot in the polls, and has been for awhile, certainly says something about the state of the Republican party. That problem stems from the fact that the Republican party lacks core planks in its platform that appeal to more than 50 percent of the country. To get elected Republican politicians have to lie about their real intentions once elected. And so whoever is the best liar wins. Right now that’s Trump.

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Politics

Elizabeth Warren Takes on Primerica President Peter Schneider

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Senate Democrats want to pass a law that makes it illegal for investment bankers to put their own self-interest ahead of their clients. The GOP hates it and so they invited Primerica President Peter Schneider to testify and Sen. Elizabeth Warren made him look like an idiot.

If the GOP has its way, companies like Primerica can continue to manipulate clients into actions which benefit Primerica but is a loser for the client.

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Politics

Why Republicans Love Hating Gays

Republicans are not fighting for the sanctity of marriage or to preserve religious liberty when they blast away at gay marriage and marriage equality. They’re doing so for purely political reasons.

The problem for the GOP is that the party’s actual policies are unpalatable on their own when presented to voters. Most Americans favor higher taxes on the wealthy. Most Americans think that corporations shouldn’t destroy the environment to make a buck. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Americans are actually pretty freaking liberal.

So in order to win national elections, for those politicians outside of carefully gerrymandered House districts, they have to talk about something besides their policy positions. Abortion is an old favorite, and it gets a certain segment of the population to rally behind even the most wretched of GOP candidates, like Michele Bachmann and Louie Gohmert. But abortion alone isn’t going to win a presidential race. Gay marriage has been the go-to issue for the Republican party for the last few years, albeit not particularly effective, but now the the Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to deny marriage to same-sex couples, that issue has been neutered and that makes Republicans mad. Now what are they going to talk about as they charge full speed toward electoral obliteration next year?

I guess they can keep talking about how they’re going to repeal the Affordable Care Act – stripping millions of Americans of affordable health insurance. But I think that ship has sailed too, not because the Supreme Court has once again reaffirmed the health care law’s constitutionality. Voters I think have figured out that Republicans who claim that they’re going to repeal the Affordable Care Act are lying. The House has voted like 50 times to repeal the health care reform law and none of those bills has gone anywhere. And no one really expects any such bill to get around a presidential veto. People like having access to health care.

Maybe the GOP will just come to terms with the reality that sooner or later they’re going to have to tell voters what they’re actually going to do once elected. Who knows, maybe Republicans voters will demand that one day.

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Politics

Marco Rubio is Running

The pack of GOP candidates running for the nomination now includes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

Rubio is seen, for some reason, like a serious presidential candidate. That’s apparently because he won what was really a pretty easy Senate race in 2010. Rubio ran a very anti-Obama campaign, and that was the sort of thing that worked for the GOP in 2010. So the fact that he won that race said more about the mood of the Republican party that particular year than it does about Rubio as a politician.

From my perspective, Rubio is a back-bencher at best. He’s flubbed every major speech he has ever delivered. Remember the water bottle schtick he did during his state of the union rebuttal? I’ve never seen him look like anything other than the dufus that he is.

But to the modern GOP, Rubio, like Rand Paul and Chris Christie, is considered a rising star. Twenty years ago, guys like Rubio would be sitting in the back of the room taking notes and hoping that in 10 or 12 years they might get a shot at some leadership responsibilities. Not now, the GOP’s bench is so thin these guys are prime-time politicians.

My theory is that Rubio knows that his chances of winning reelection to his Senate seat are some where around 50 percent. So why not take a shot at the White House. Maybe he’s gets a vice presidential nod like Sarah Palin and can milk that out for millions of dollars in book deals and speaking engagements.

Running for office as a GOP candidate is a big business and these guys know it. I doubt Rubio really thinks he could become the president, it’s ridiculous. Yet the media treats his announcement as if it matters that he’s running.

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Politics

April 11 News Roundup: Cuba, Iran, Santorum and Christie

It’s Saturday, so nothing too exciting going on.

Republican senators continue to push for legislation to throw a wrench in one of President Obama’s signature diplomatic efforts – stopping Iran from making a nuclear weapon. Republicans have been sticking amendments on Republican Sen. Bob Corker’s bill in a attempt to make it tougher on Iran, and would likely, if enacted, scuttle the deal altogether. Democrats have been pushing amendments to do the opposite. Aside from the prospect of a Rand Paul presidency, there’s nothing more frightening than watching the Republicans in Congress wade into international nuclear non-proliferation discussions. Nothing good can come from it. And if a deal is not reached, Iran will have a bomb in a couple of years.

In other international news, President Obama met with Cuban President Raul Castro in Panama today. It’s been more than 50 years since these two nations have sat down and talked about how to work with one another. I haven’t checked, but it’s safe to assume the conservative heads are exploding as a result. Conservatives do not like giving up their cold war battles, even if they are no longer relevant, if they ever were to begin.
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Rick Santorum is ramping up for another presidential run. In Iowa yesterday he outlined his campaign slogan – “God Hates Fags.” The hateful little twit championed his efforts to criminalize, what he sees as homosexual sex acts. How many married and straight couples engage in sodomy every day? So add one more shitheel to the list of potential GOP primary contenders who will never be president.

Also in 2016 presidential news, apparently New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is plotting another campaign strategy in his sort-of-a-run for the presidency. I’m not sure if CNN should be calling this a comeback. In order to come back, one needed to have been there before. Christie has never announced that he intends to run for president in 2016. One can assume that he wants to, but calling Christie’s latest “moves” a comeback gives the New Jersey Republican far too much gravitas. What’s actually happening is that next week Christie is supposedly going to begin a “Tell it like it is” tour of New Hampshire. That sounds like Christie traveling around telling people shut up and calling folks idiots. In other words, that’s Christie testing the water once again to see if he even has a shot at becoming the next president, which he doesn’t. It’s certainly not a comeback. My early prediction is that in 2 years Christie is indicted on corruption charges and looking at an 18-month prison sentence.

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Vox Misses the Point of the Indiana Religious “Freedom” Law

I like Vox, but this story about a law professor’s opinion of Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act only goes to show the professor’s lack of political acumen.

The gist of the story is that University of Virginia Law Professor Douglas Laycock thinks everyone’s got the Indiana law all wrong. It’s really all about protecting minority religious groups who are oppressed by the majority. It’s a good thing.

Even if some folks would seek to use these sorts of laws to justify discrimination, Laycock said that will usually fail. And he said that even though the Indiana law goes further than other similar laws in other states, and federally, by expanding the religious protection to businesses, that’s not a big deal either.

Laycock said that sure with businesses that are run by a single family, they might make a claim to a right to discriminate, but not a large corporation. Hobby Lobby, a company whose annual sales are more than $3 billion a year, won a case at the Supreme Court that allowed them to discriminate against women by denying them access to contraception. The company argued that it violated its religious rights to offer health insurance to its employees that covers contraception. How again did we end up with a system in which employers get to choose employee health insurance coverage?

Laycock said that Hobby Lobby won that case because the company is a “closely held” family company, with more than 500 stores across the country and thousands of employees. Laycock’s argument is that this sort of discrimination is and will be rare.

“As soon as you take in outside shareholders, that becomes untenable as a practical matter,” Laycock said. “They don’t want to sacrifice profit for your religious concerns. There are very few corporate claims and it’s not likely, to the extent there are any, that they’re going to win many. Hobby Lobby is a very special context. It is closely held by one family.”

Of course every argument that Laycock is making is shockingly ignorant, because he’s missing the larger point of these sorts of laws, but regarding his blind faith in the power of shareholders, allow me …

Most businesses are not large corporations with shareholders. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker are more often than not, family owned businesses. It is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility that these closely held family business would seek a religious exemption under this law for the purpose of discrimination. Now it’s very true that this business owner might fail in court, but it is these laws that provide aid and comfort to the bigot.

And that right there is the only reason these laws exist. Republicans like Indiana Governor Mike Pence, I doubt he personally even cares about gay marriage. Maybe he does, but what I do know for a fact is that Pence likes getting elected.

The only way to do that is to lie. If Republicans told voters about the issues that the party really cares about, they’d never break 20 percent in any election in any district.

No the GOP can’t tell voters that if they get their votes they’ll cut taxes on the rich, deregulate industries, leaving huge budget deficits, dirty drinking water and smoke smuggered skies.

To win elections, Republican politicians have to talk about social issues. They’re going to end abortion. They’re going to prevent gay people from getting married. They’re going to pass laws to protect your perceived right to discriminate against gay people, or whoever you don’t like.

There’s no other way to get people to vote against their own economic self-interest, you have to lie to them.

And the lie is the tall tale that these sort of “religious freedom” laws will allow businesses to discriminate. The message Gov. Pence is sending bigoted Indiana citizens and business owners is that if you want to discriminate against gays, he’s got their back.

But the reality, as Laycock accurately tells Vox is that the ability of a person, or a business, to seek a religious exemption to discriminate using these sorts of laws is extremely limited. Most cases, but not all, do side against the bigot.

Pence doesn’t care though. When this law proves to be ineffective at protecting bigotry, Pence can just blame activist judges for trampling the rights of god-fearing Christians who just got to hate.

So don’t be fooled, like Mr. Laycock is, regarding the point of these laws, which is to get Republicans elected by creating a culture of divisiveness, fear and hate. While Pence’s supporters are angrily moaning about how the fags are ruining everything, Pence and his Republican party comrades are doing everything they can to shift wealth in Indiana up to the rich.

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The Day the GOP Officially Jumped the Proverbial Shark

Ever since 1980, when we elected Ronald Reagan, an actor, to be the president of the United States, this nation has been in a slow-motion tailspin. A once fairly solid economy and banking system setup after the Great Depression has been destroyed by a million little cuts. Once strong labor organizations have been systematically dismantled. And our political process has devolved into a sideshow of partisan bickering and one-upsmanship. To use a cliche, the United States is a Banana Republic.

The latest example of this devolution is a letter signed by 47 Republican senators to the leaders of Iran for the sole purpose of undermining a sitting president during negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. It’s possible that something like this has happened before, but I’ve not found any example. The letter tells the world that whatever this president, or future presidents, do is only valid while said president is in office. Any agreements made by the president can and will be nullified by future presidents and Congress. The letter is telling the world what we already know, that our government is in fact, a joke. That we, the United States of America, can not be taken seriously.

Had Democrats sent such a letter to a foreign adversary while a Republican president was negotiating with them, the Republican party would be in a complete freakout mode and demanding resignations and possibly charges of treason.

While this will no doubt severely harm the signatories of this letter to Iran when, or if, they seek reelection, the real issue is how this action shows what a sham government the United State has become. And the reason we have this sort of government, is because one of the two political parties has been taken over by those who actually view our government as the enemy. The Republican party is comprised, particularly the younger generation members, of those who are actively working to destroy our republic and the government. They are waging a full-blown assault on the Constitution and american voters.

Some have tried to argue that this is treason, but that’s not entirely accurate because these men and women were elected and campaigned on a platform of hating America. The problem isn’t that these men and women are traitors, which they are, it’s that our democracy has been captured by a few very wealthy billionaires while the vast majority of voters sit on the sidelines. The politics of cynicism has worked. Most Americans truly believe that all politicians are crooked and that the government exists only to harm them rather than to help them.

This all started in 1979 and over the last 30 years the campaign to destroy democracy in America and to replace it with a government sold to the highest bidder has worked. The government is run by a bunch liars, thieves and charlatans. The government often does do more harm than good, just look at the Iraq war, No Child Left Behind and the government’s inability to prevent the Great Recession. Our government is broken. Our political process is broken. And the only way to fix it is for American voters to stand up and do something about it. Until that happens, we will be left with a boom and bust economy racked with savings and loan meltdowns, hedge fund meltdowns and more Great Recessions. We’ll continue to wage unnecessary wars to benefit the war profiteers while corporations spill their oil all over our waterways and towns, often with giant balls of fire that burn for days.

We get the government we deserve, and right now, we deserve this dysfunctional government that sends letters to our enemies and passes bills to monitor every woman’s utterance from conception to birth. It is a sorry state of affairs and one that will not be ended by apathy, but rather engagement.

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Republicans “Unveil” Economic Plan

Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio
Republican senators Marco Rubio and Mike Lee have unveiled, or unearthed, the GOP’s plan for economic growth. It’s the same plan they’ve had for more than 30 years. Give tax cuts to the rich, bankrupt the country, and watch as the free hand of the market strangles the life out of the middle class and poor folks.

It’s more of what George H. W. Bush called voodoo economics. The theory is that if millionaires and billionaires had more money from not paying taxes that they would then invest more in their businesses, which would in turn hire more workers. It’s total bullshit and anyone who has even taken a causal interest in economics will tell you the same thing.

There’s absolutely zero connection between the individual tax rates of billionaires and the decisions of corporations. And in fact, one would be hard pressed to find any causal relationship between the tax bill of corporations and whether they hire more employees.

You’ll never be in a meeting in which there’s a discussion about hiring more workers if only the CEOs personal income tax burden were lower. Businesses hire more people when there is an increase demand for their products or services. And so it doesn’t take a doctorate in economics to understand that the best way to increase economic activity is to put money into the hands of people who will actually spend it on products and services offered by corporations.

Trickle down economics is like a venereal, give me a shot of penicillin ’cause it burns when I pee.