Archive for the ‘Tea Party’ Tag
The credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s downgraded the United States government’s credit worthiness last week to much consternation. But they were right to do so, if for the wrong reasons. In the face of complete intransigence on the part of Republicans, can Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats do anything about it? Would they even if they could?
Have you heard the news? It was in all the papers. On every news website and every TV news program from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico. The credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s, the best known of all of the rating agencies, took the bold and curious step of downgrading the credit rating of the United States Government from the platinum plated AAA down to AA+ last Friday. It’s the first time in this nation’s history that anyone anywhere has ever considered the creditworthiness of the United States anything less than iron clad.
The move was rather controversial to say the least. Not that the nation hadn’t been warned. But it was assumed that by avoiding defaulting on the government’s debt obligations that all would be forgiven and the ratings agencies would back off despite the dire threats. The argument goes that the country—despite its obvious problems and weak economy that doesn’t seem to have much hope of getting a whole lot better anytime soon—is on solid financial footing and in no danger of not being able to pay its bills. Apparently not everyone sees it that way.
Meanwhile, the White House has viciously pushed back against the S&P move, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said that the ratings agency showed “really terrible judgment,” especially in the wake of the AAA ratings the agencies all gave to the essentially worthless mortgage backed securities in the years leading up to the 2008 economic collapse, S&P included.
And they have a point. S&P, Treasury Department officials pointed out, had miscalculated the U.S. future deficit projections by $2 trillion. Then there’s the fact that sales of U.S. Treasury Bonds skyrocketed on Monday and prices rose as the stock market saw its largest decline since the 2008 crash, indicating that investors have very little worry about the reliability of the U.S. Government as an investment. There was no shortage of investors practically begging to buy up U.S. Treasury Bonds—or “T-Bills” as they are colloquially called in the finance trade. So on the one hand it seems that S&P has got this all wrong, and the U.S. is still as sound an investment as ever.
But then again, S&P has a point, too. Their analysis was not strictly based on the purely financial elements of our economy: Their decision to downgrade the U.S. credit rating came down to politics. More specifically, Tea Party politics.
From the S&P release:
We lowered our long-term rating on the U.S. because we believe that the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate indicate that further near-term progress containing the growth in public spending, especially on entitlements, or on reaching an agreement on raising revenues is less likely than we previously assumed and will remain a contentious and fitful process. We also believe that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration agreed to this week falls short of the amount that we believe is necessary to stabilize the general government debt burden by the middle of the decade. (emphasis added)
The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have dropped down on the menu of policy options. In addition, the plan envisions only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements, the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key to long-term fiscal sustainability. (again, emphasis added)
Essentially what they’re saying is that our politics are so screwed up and Congress as a whole so dysfunctional that instead of solving problems like they’re supposed to do, they’re actually causing the problem. Congress is so gridlocked that nothing serious can even be discussed, let alone accomplished. And when one side willingly—even eagerly—seeks to push the United States government into default, actively using that threat as a means to deliberately further destroy an already bloodied economy, well, it’s tough to argue with them. And to make matters worse, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, happily admitted that what we just saw over the last few weeks is going to be the way business is conducted from here on out when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States.
“In the future, any president, this one or another one, when they request us to raise the debt ceiling, it will not be clean anymore. This is just the first step. This, we anticipate, will take us into 2013. Whoever the new president is, is probably going to be asking us to raise the debt ceiling again. Then we will go through the process again and see what we can continue to achieve in connection with these debt ceiling requests of presidents to get our financial house in order,” McConnell said to a CNBC audience after the debt deal was signed last week. McConnell delighted at the fact that the Republican hostage taking tactic has turned out to be such a magnificently successful bargaining method; one in which Republicans actively use the threat of collapsing the U.S. economy in order to get what they want. And he promised that it will happen again.
If that’s the new norm, it’s no wonder the ratings agencies have their doubts about U.S. financial stability.
The fact that President Barack Obama refuses to take a stand—or at least a stand he’s willing to stick with—surely hasn’t helped matters. In fact, all he’s done with the soaring rhetoric and artificial lines in the sand is to perpetuate the notion that Democrats are weak and can easily be pushed around. It should also be noted that he’s been aided and abetted by Democrats in Congress—both houses—that collectively refuse to stand and fight for anything. There’s the Congressional Progressive Caucus that’s made a lot of noise and put up a whimper of a fight, but unfortunately they don’t brandish the kind of clout their Tea Party counterparts have, primarily because they’re sane and aren’t willing to push the entire country into ruin so that they’ll get their way. The laws of mathematics actually mean something to these folks, and they understood that a default carried real consequences for real people. Still, that didn’t stop them from voting en masse against the debt ceiling bill that is being so highly criticized now, including by S&P.
Even Standard and Poor’s acknowledges that revenues must be a part of the equation. And revenues mean taxes. But when one side refuses to even consider that possibility—when they, in fact, insist on even further cuts to already historically low tax rates—well, that’s a problem. When the other party lacks the fortitude to fight for what’s right that’s an even bigger problem. And the really sad part in all of this is that no one is standing on the side of average everyday citizens of this country. After all, they’re the ones who are hurt the most, but heard the least. And unless that changes, don’t expect this country’s prospects to change anytime soon……..unless it’s for the worse.
Standard and Poor’s didn’t downgrade the United States’ financial system, it downgraded the United States’ political system. And they were right to do so.
Must See TV! Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment” on the Tea Party and the Nov. 2 elections.
“If the Tea Party wins, America loses”
These are the crackpots that could be running this country:
I’m not sure what I expected to see when I dared to venture into enemy territory. I mean, I knew that, generally speaking, the Tea Partiers’ vision of America was not firmly based in reality; that they typically harbor a longing for “a simpler time,” and “the old days,” and that their theories on the economy and politics and health care tend to be more theory and less actual, workable policy. I also know unequivocally that should the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party gain any real power in America then we’re all in for a long, slow descent into third world status.
I’m not sure what I expected to see crowd wise: Would there be thousands upon thousands gathered to lend a full-throated roar to their anti-government rage? No. What I found was a modest gathering of about, oh, 700 or so people (maybe more, maybe less……I’m just guestimating here. But it wasn’t a huge crowd by any stretch of the imagination) that was rather tepid in their enthusiasm.
I must admit, though, that I approached the festivities with a small handful of preconceptions:
- The Tea Partiers tend to be older. Yet I was surprised to find a good number of twenty and thirty somethings. A few even brought their entire family.
- The Tea Partiers have racist tendencies. This one I’m not unconvinced of, but then again, I’m not convinced that they are racist (or do lean to racist tendencies). One thing I can say for sure is that most of the signs they displayed were so far out of the mainstream and so detached from reality, and truly did not lend credibility to the views of this group. In fact, I really have to question the education most of these folks received.
- The Tea Partiers are overwhelmingly white. This one could not have been more true. There was a stunning lack of color in the audience. Now, while those in attendance would argue that just because the audience was entirely white does not mean that they lacked diversity, I would argue that that is exactly what it means. All of these folks are white, middle class, have an irrational fear of government, and love to claim that they have a keen understanding of the Constitution, yet demonstrate every day that they clearly don’t.
I must also admit that I half expected to walk into a steaming cauldron of hate. Though I did find the expected half-witted, half-brained bile coming from the speakers and the signs on display, I found it to be a rather well-behaved, if paranoid crowd.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t the expected delusional rantings about the evil government and the “communist” Barack Obama. About how those dreaded liberals are out to deliberately destroy the country and hand it over to the Chinese or Venezuelans, or whomever the enemy du jour is. That only comes with the territory for a delusional right-winger. After all, there has to be SOMEONE out there that we have to start a war with next, right?
“We are at war with Oceania. We have always been at war with Oceania.”
Ok, so maybe there wasn’t the cadre of wild-eyed crazies that I half expected (hoped?) to find. But it’s just so easy to dismiss the majority of these people as plain ‘ol ignorant, malleable minions of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and El Rushbo.
And they are that.
That’s not to say that the crazies didn’t show up. They most certainly did, only most of them were featured speakers at the event.
First, I need to mention a prevailing sentiment at this gathering that I found rather disturbing: These folks view health care as a privilege, not a right. In fact, one of the first speakers I heard (sadly I did not arrive in time to hear Sharron “Obtuse” Angle speak……it’s probably for the better) was an obscure California gubernatorial candidate, Chelene Nightingale–Yeah…..I’d never heard of her either—who came right out and declared it!
“Health care is a privilege, not a right.” Which essentially means that if you can’t pay for medical attention, you can just go ahead and die. You won’t be missed. You weren’t wealthy enough to really contribute to society anyway. I could dedicate an entire book to ranting about how wrong that sentiment is, but I’ll save it for another time.
But that’s not the only thing coming through the PA system that I found, well, to put it mildly, objectionable. One speaker accused Barack Obama of being a “Hugo Chavez Wannabe dictator.” And there was plenty of other “Obama as socialist, commie pinko” nonsense (actually, I did see a sign accusing him of being a “commie.” C’mon! That’s so 50’s!)
Then there was a “comedian” named Eric Golub. I put “comedian” in quotes because he obviously thinks he’s funny, and he apparently does have a stand-up act that he takes on the road. I, however, found the guy pretty sad and pathetic. Certainly not funny.
But he brought out his ‘A’ game for this event, let me tell you! Like the joke where he says he agrees “we need to be more bipartisan. We need to find compromises for our government to work. For example, gun control. We conservatives want LESS, those commie liberals want MORE gun control. So all we have to do is take all of the guns away from those liberals and give them to us. And the next time we have a disagreement, we’ll win ‘cause WE HAVE ALL THE GUNS!”
Or the one on tax policy. “We want to lower taxes, while those liberals want to RAISE taxes. So here’s what we do: We take their money and give it to us. What are they gonna say about it? WE HAVE ALL THE GUNS!!!”
Ha ha. I’m ROFLOL.
Or this gem: “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight, BRING A BAZOOKA!”
What is it about Conservatives (big ‘C’) and those “2nd Amendment solutions” they are always looking to bring about? (Like the sign I photographed that said “The solution to 1984 is 1776!”)
Or his reference to the Speaker of the House as “Pelosiraptor.” Oh, and you should probably buy this guy’s book………ok, maybe not.
There was also the rhetoric thrown around by Rickey Jackson’s daughter (why the hell did they ask her to speak?). “Obamacare,” she says, “threatens everything about our way of life.” A bit melodramatic, maybe, Candace? Of course, this is a woman who believes that the health insurance companies are the “victims” of “Obamacare.” And that progressive intellectuals “fell in love with Russian and German socialism.” She also tells us that “Obamacare is unconstitutional!” Like she’s some sort of Constitutional Scholar or something.
One positive of the day was hearing the story of Nick Popaditch. Mr. Popaditch is running against Rep. Bob Filner of the 51st District. He seems like a decent enough guy, but I don’t think he is cut out for Congress just yet. I’m not sure he has a full grasp of just what it means to run a government and represent ALL of the people in a district. But he does have a compelling and inspirational story.
Mr. Popaditch is a Marine who was wounded in Iraq. He took shrapnel to his face, causing him to lose his right eye (he wears an eye patch). He also caught another piece of shrapnel that got lodged in behind his left eye, rendering him temporarily blind. The doctors were unsure if they would be able to save it, or if he’d ever be able to see anything ever again. They were forced to remove his left eye to get to the offending piece of metal and remove it, reinserting his lone remaining “good” eye afterward. Today Mr. Popaditch doesn’t see perfectly out of his left eye, but he can see. And for that he expresses his eternal gratitude to the doctors that worked with him.
But Mr. Popadtich has a warped view of the American healthcare system. He says “doctors are mercenaries.” And he doesn’t really have a plan or an idea for making sure the 43 million Americans without health insurance can get it. At least none that he proposed during his talk.
He also decries the evils of “Obamacare,” and insists that it should be repealed. But Popaditch is a realist, and knows that even as a member of Congress he’ll never be able to repeal the health care bill. But, he says, they can defund it, and by gosh, that’s just what he intends to do.
Popaditch also wants to “get rid of all those Czars” (never mind that George W. Bush appointed far more “Czars” than Obama has, but it didn’t seem to bother anybody back then). He insists that government cannot create jobs. And he demands lower taxes (despite the fact that taxes are at their lowest in half a century—yes, that means we are paying less in taxes than we have in a VERY long time).
But perhaps the most disturbing thing about Nick Popaditch, and most dangerous in my opinion, is that he views the world and its politics through his military service. He seems to believe that military force is the answer to all of our problems throughout the world. He would like to see a tougher approach to Iran and North Korea—”we need to rattle more sabers and talk tough with them.” His message: “America will always be able to out tough you and out fight you!” Like dropping bombs is the answer for everything. As if that will make us more secure.
Anyway, I did get a chance to speak with Mr. Popaditch very briefly, and I do intend to take him up on his offer for an interview. I found him to be very personable and respectful and I do think he means well. I just don’t think he has the right ideas about what life in this country is all about. So while I wish him the very best and sincerely thank him for his military service, I hope that Bob Filner retains his seat in Congress next November.
Photos of the event to come……..I have to download them off of my camera first.
A local group of physicians, nurses, patients and health-care activists will rally at Spanish Landing (3900 Harbor Drive) on Saturday, August 7 at 12 noon to counter the National Tea Party Doctors Rally held to protest the recently passed Health Care Reform bill or as they refer to it as “Obama Care.”
Many of the local doctors who favor Medicare For All agree with the Tea Party doctors that “Obama Care” is not the way to solve our health care crisis. But what is the alternative? To continue with increasing numbers of uninsured? To continue to be badgered by insurance company disallowances and paperwork? To ignore the demands of social justice?
Dr. Paul Friedman, San Diego Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) chapter, suggests
“The only effective cure for our health care woes is to establish a single, publicly financed system, one that removes the inefficient, wasteful, for-profit private health insurance industry from the picture,” he said. “Single payer has a proven track record of success – Medicare being just one example. A solid majority of physicians endorse such an approach.” Friedman goes on to say “The ‘doctors’ Tea Party is a fraud. They don’t represent the majority of doctors any more than the Tea Party represents the great majority of voters.”
Jeoffry Gordon, MD,MPH.,family practitioner in Ocean Beach (San Diego), feels that health care is a human right. Dr. Gordon emphasizes,
“In 2008 there were over 200,000 uninsured people in San Diego City. Obamacare depends on expanding MediCal or subsidizing private insurance companies intent on maximizing their income to provide access to medical care which will inevitably continue to create great complexity and waste of resources and continue to impose significant out of pocket expenses on many families. The Tea Party doctors profess to be against both private insurers and government financed care. My question to them is how they expect the poor, the large number of unemployed, and the vast majority of Americans to find the resources to obtain needed medical care in their time of need? The only real solution is to expand the proven, dependable, effective and efficient Medicare system to cover all Americans.”
Both Dr. Friedman and Dr. Gordon support California SB 810 which is based on a single payer system where patients would be able to go to the doctors and hospitals of their choice and not have to worry about being able to afford it.
More on the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons:
The AAPS believes that Medicare is “evil and immoral.” They do not believe that HIV causes AIDS. They believe that Barack Obama used hypnosis in order to convince the masses to vote for him–everyone who voted for him was hypnotized! (No, seriously! Here it is on their website!) They say that abortions cause breast cancer.
THESE ARE SUPPOSEDLY DOCTORS, ONE AND ALL!!!!
At the Doctor’s Tea Party event here in San Diego, Nevada Republican (Tea Party) Senate candidate Sharron Angle will be the group’s headline speaker. That would be Sharron Angle, who thinks teens who got pregnant due to rape or incest should make lemonade. Who thinks the media should only ask questions she wants to answer. Who wants to abolish the Department of Education, the EPA, Social Security. Who thinks anyone who is unemployed is just lazy. Who wants to impose her version of Christianity on the entire nation, and that the Founders didn’t really intend for there to be a separation of Church and State. And on and on and on and on with her completely whack job ideas.
These people are truly dangerous!
Got this from the comments on John Ralston’s blurb……
Kentucky GOP/Tea Party Senate candidate Rand Paul has had a rough couple of days. On Wednesday he went on NPR and MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” and criticized the provision in the 1964 Civil Rights Act that makes it illegal for private business to discriminate on the basis of race. Today Dr. Paul declared the Obama Administration’s criticism of BP for their actions leading up to last month’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and subsequent incompetence in attempting to stem the leak as “un-American.” It’s not BP’s fault, he implied, and said “accidents happen.”
True, accidents happen. But it’s also true that many—if not most—accidents can be prevented, as certainly this one could have. Had there been proper oversight, had regulators not simply taken BP’s word for it that their operations in the deep waters of the Gulf were perfectly safe, and that they knew exactly what to do in the highly unlikely event that there was a spill and could easily clean it up, we would not be seeing the catastrophe we’re seeing now.
And yes, it is absolutely BP’s fault, because they skirted safety regulations, cut corners in testing, lied about their ability to contain a spill, and in partnership with Transocean (the doomed rig’s operator) and Haliburton (the installer of the “fail safe” blowout preventer) had they not skipped the step of filling the drill site with mud to prevent such leaks, and covered up and lied about defects and test failures in the blowout preventer, then this particular spill would never have happened.
But this compulsive need by Paul and many of his Republican contemporaries to exonerate Big Oil from any wrongdoing is what is really troubling to me. And the desire to protect these corporate entities from accountability is what is bringing this country to its knees.
Last week, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) blocked a measure in the Senate that would have increased the liability cap on oil companies from $75 million to $10 billion. Earlier this week it was Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) that stood in the way of ensuring that BP and all other firms are held financially responsible for the repercussions of their failures. It’s OK, they said; BP promised they’d clean it up and pay costs. We should just take them at their word, like we did when they promised us this technology was perfectly safe.
The result of this unwillingness to place accountability and responsibility where it belongs is what is going to end up costing the American taxpayer tens of billions of dollars to clean up this mess. Face it: BP didn’t get hurt (much) by this accident. But 11 people died on that rig, the Louisiana coastline is beginning to see gobs of oil staining its shore, fisheries have been closed down because of the massive oil slick putting countless fishermen out of work, creating a ripple effect that will devastate an already depressed local economy. And the smell that has to be endured by all that live in the Gulf region, lowering their quality of life.
And that doesn’t account for the sea life and marsh lands that will be destroyed. But it’s not BP’s fault, and they shouldn’t be criticized. It’s “un-American.”
This is the same attitude that led to the banking collapse in 2008. No regulation, no accountability; bankers and Wall St. execs are free to do whatever they damn well please with no regard to the potential consequences their actions will have on the rest of America. Even now Republicans are loath to put rules into place that will ensure such a monumental collapse will never happen again. We shouldn’t hamper private industry from doing whatever it wants in pursuit of profit. And when they fail and bring the entire economy to the brink of complete collapse, ruining the lives of tens of millions of people across the country, it’s ok. The government will be there to prop them up and make sure they don’t lose any of their fortune.
It was Republicans that insisted the deregulatory policies that led to the energy crisis in California, which led to the fraudulent and corrupt business practices at Enron, and which ultimately led to the collapse of that company and their accounting firm, Arthur Andersen.
It was the Republicans who were against regulating health insurance companies, out of fear that actually making them make good on claims and provide for the health care needs of their customers would have an adverse effect on their bottom lines. Never mind the billions of dollars in profits they make.
It is Republican policies, greed, and disregard for their constituents who are not Wall St. or Big Oil execs that perpetuate the need for the government to step in and bail these companies out to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.
“Trickle down economics” doesn’t work! It never has, and it never will! And allowing businesses to operate without any kind of rules or regulations always leads to disaster. And who ends up paying? The taxpayer does. So why are Repubs and their Tea Party compatriots complaining so much? This is exactly the way they wanted things! They got precisely what they wanted!
Maybe they should be a bit more careful about what they wish for.
So what’s next, Dr. Paul? Should we not allow the government to make sure that the medications we take won’t kill us? Should we not allow the government to monitor whether or not the food we eat is poisoned? Should the government not be allowed to prevent manufacturers from spewing noxious gases into the air we breathe? Toxic chemicals from getting into the water we drink? Should there be no rules against businesses lying to or misleading their customers and stealing their money? Do private businesses always do the ethical thing, and do they never put the general public at risk? And how do you propose to stop them when they do if there are no laws to stop them? If government can’t act to protect its citizens, then how do we know that we can stay safe?