Who Left The Asylum Doors Open?

In a letter to the Arizona Republic, a Democratic voter stated that he was going to vote a straight Republican ticket. His reasoning was that he was tired of the Republican whining and wanted to give Republicans the opportunity to fix the economy themselves. What genius! Let’s reward the very people who created this mess in the first place. At the same time, let’s penalize the people who have spent the past two years trying to fix it.

I now think I’ve read and seen it all this election season. Candidates who recommend the bartering of chickens for health care services instead of “Obamacare.” Candidates who consider the minimum wage and unemployment insurance unconstitutional. A candidate who dresses up in Nazi uniforms. A candidate who wants to abolish public schools. A candidate who thinks civil rights is a bad idea. Candidates who want to limit the vote to landowners. A whole host of candidates who want to solve our deficit problems by giving billions more in tax breaks to the nation’s wealthiest people. And a candidate who has to run a commercial saying “I am not a witch.”

These are the people the letter writer wants to fix our economy?

I guess Arizona’s education system is even worse than I thought!

How Much Is Your Vote Worth?

$100? $1,000? $10,000? More? This year, corporate and foreign-funded shadow groups seem willing to spend whatever it takes to convince you to vote Republican.

Unfortunately, you won’t get to pocket the money.  But, thanks to the Supreme Court decision in the Citizerns United case, corporations (both domestic and foreign) are now able to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into advertising campaigns that attack Democrats. Even the Chamber of Commerce is getting into the act. The group has solicited large donations from businesses in China, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Bahrain and other nations to spend on attack ads against Democratic candidates. Best of all, unlike the $20 donations you give to candidates, the corporations can give anonymously. The shadow groups don’t have to disclose the source of their millions.

Now you may be asking, “Why are corporations so willing to open their vaults for politics?”

The answer is obvious. They expect something in return. And, as always, Republicans stand ready to give it to them. Republican candidates promise to continue their fight against labor unions. They will continue to promote lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy. They are committed to eliminating pesky regulations that protect the environment and consumers. And they continue to attack so-called entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.

This year, Republicans even offer a few new bonuses for their corporate masters. Many of the so-called Tea Party candidates on the Republican ticket have questioned the Constitutionality of the minimum wage and unemployment insurance. After all, who wants to waste money on a bunch of lazy deadbeats who can’t hold a job?)  Further, Newt Gingrich is even recommending that GOP candidates attack food stamps! 

If all this corporate money is able to buy enough votes, just imagine what that could mean for working people. American workers can look forward to lower wages, fewer benefits, unaffordable health care and no safety nets. Who wouldn’t want that?

The Truth About President Obama And Congress.

Out of more than 500 promises made by President Obama during the 2008 campaign, Politifact.com finds that 122 have been kept, 39 have been compromised, 238 are in the works, 82 are stalled (primarily in the Senate), and 3 have not yet been rated. A mere 22 promises have been broken and many of those were casualties of the economic disaster created by his predecessor.

The promises kept include a credit card bill of rights, expanded loan programs for small business, full funding of the Veterans Administration, removing combat troops from Iraq, closing the donut hole in Medicare prescriptions, requiring health insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, providing tax credits for those who need help paying health insurance premiums, requiring large employers to contribute to a national health insurance plan, and many other issues covered by the new health reform act.

In addition, he helped save the U.S. auto industry. And his policies have stemmed the bleeding of 750,000 jobs per month prior to his taking office, and led to the creation of millions of jobs in the private sector. 

That’s a lot of progress for less than two years in office. It’s even more impressive given the GOP’s record-setting use of the fillibuster to oppose his initiatives.

The inescapable conclusion is that when you voted for Obama, you got almost exactly the President you voted for. That begs the question of why there is so much voter anger and Democratic apathy this year. Likely, it’s a combination of impatience, misunderstanding and frustration.

For the past two years, Republicans, using their Fox Noise megaphone, have whined, complained and lied about every single Presidential initiative. They ginned up mock outrage over the lowest Federal taxes in 50 years. They labeled as “bailouts” loans to automakers that saved 10 million high-paying U.S. jobs. They labeled as “socialism” health care reform designed to provide health care access to 33 million Americans. They blocked and delayed legislation that would create jobs, help small businesses, improve the environment and take away tax incentives for large corporations that exported jobs overseas. And their corporate masters have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to attack Democratic Senators and Congressional Representatives who have dared to fulfill their own campaign promises.

Of course most Americans want to see an improved economy, reduced unemployment and reduced deficits! But voting for Republican teabaggers and the GOP’s disingenuous “Pledge to America” will not help. It will only make matters worse!

And if frustrated progressives fail to vote this November, they will only be contributing to the fiasco!

A Petri Dish For Wingnut Ideas.

Since Janet Napolitano was selected by President Obama to head Homeland Security, the inmates in the asylum otherwise known as the Arizona Legislature have run wild.

Without adult supervision (and a strong Governor to veto their lunacy), legislators have unleashed a torrent of right wing legislation signed into law by Jan Brewer. In addition to the ill-conceived immigration law (SB1070), they banned classes on Latino cultural studies in public schools. They passed a law to fire teachers who have an accent. They made it legal for anyone to carry a concealed gun without a permit. They slashed spending on public schools (AZ now ranks 51st out of 50 states and D.C. in spending per pupil). They cut funding for highway rest stops and for state parks, forcing many parks to close, despite the fact that tourism is one of the state’s largest industries. And they voted to eliminate health care for children of low-income families until they discovered that the state would lose federal funding by doing so, which would cost the state more than it saved.

For 15 years in a row, the Arizona Legislature has cut corporate taxes. So corporations now contribute just 9 percent to Arizona’s total tax revenue. At the same time, the Legislature refuses to close billions of dollars in tax loopholes available to corporations. To compensate for the lost revenue, the state has raised sales taxes which place a disproportionate burden on the poor (in my town, the sales tax is now more than 10 percent). Moreover, much of the legislation represents solutions in search of a problem. For example, they passed a law requiring candidates to produce a birth certificate (take note, President Obama). And they have challenged the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution, spending tens of millions to defend legal challenges by the Federal government.

As a result of all this, Arizona now has one of the largest budget shortfalls in the nation along with one of the highest levels of unemployment. The Legislature and the Governor have driven more than 100,000 people out of the state, made up stories about kidnappings and decapitations in the desert and told the world that Arizona is too dangerous to visit.

But the wingnuts aren’t yet finished with destroying the state.

The upcoming election has even more wingnut ideas on the state ballot. Legislators want to cut a program for Early Childhood Family Education and sweep the money into the general budget. They want voters to pass an amendment allowing the state to opt out of the national health care program. They also want voters to pass a NRA-backed amendment making it unconstitutional for the DNR to restrict hunting, even for an endangered species.

If you’re unhappy with the bickering in Congress, it may be tempting to send a message by electing a bunch of angry, uninformed Tea Party candidates to Washington. You may even think that Congress couldn’t possibly get any worse with them in charge. If so, you don’t have to wait to see the consequences to our nation. Just look at Arizona.