Here’s a comment this morning by “Reality Based” on Paul Krugman’s article. It about sums up what our problem has been in this country for many years.

Reality Based: Flyover Country

We now have thirty five years of financial/economic history that should have destroyed forever the Great Lie that Voodoo economics creates anything but deficit bubbles, which are then used to attack and destroy social programs for the poor and middle class. Reagan tripled federal deficits in order to cut taxes in half for the wealthy, while weaponry expenditures exploded. Bush One left office with historic deficits and a sinking economy, which Bill Clinton remedied by returning to progressive taxation on high incomes. Every Republican in Congress said it would destroy the economy, and instead we had 20 million new jobs and zero deficits by 2000. Republicans responded with smears and impeachment. Bush2 insisted upon a return to Voodoo Economics combined with huge upper end tax cuts and two wars, which along with a financial de-regulation frenzy re-created the same enormous deficits, which were then used to try and destroy Social Security. This idiocy nearly brought down the world financial system. Obama’s sane economic advisers restored job growth and eliminated most of the deficits, but sixteen Republicans are all ready to return to the same policies that have been failing for a third of a century.

The Republican Party exists to enrich the wealthy, and empower a tiny elite. It has been concentrating income and wealth, by redistributing it upwards for thirty five years. This, of course, is only possible with a politics based totally on deceit, which is the whole point.

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gemli is a trusted commenter Boston

Republicans have created a political and intellectual vacuum, and Trump is rushing in to fill it. Like all vacuums, it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t suck in the smartest, or the wisest or the best. It just sucks. If sensible discourse prevailed in Washington there would be no place for Donald Trump. He would look like nothing more than the incongruously wealthy bombastic TV spokesmodel that he is. Instead, he’s a contender.

It hasn’t helped that the media can’t get enough of him, or that low-information voters find in him the ideal low-information option. We might expect the presidential debates to weed out these bombastic and outrageous candidates, but instead we find other candidates emulating Trump and making their own outrageous statements.

We had an opportunity to put the country on the right track with the election of president Obama, but a virulent right-wing faction commandeered the discourse. Trump championed the birther distraction and helped to hobble the president during the first two years of his administration. He was midwife at the birth of a kind of cheesy tabloid-style of attack politics that aided and abetted the Tea Party’s goal of shutting down government rather than governing.

It’s ironic when Brooks and other pundits suggest that Sanders and Biden are not serious candidates, while Trump deserves a full column. The reality is that years of manufactured inaction have made Congress look like a joke, and Trump is the punch line.

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gemli is a trusted commenter Boston

I was wondering how to find the political tie-in to this column about a country full of grinning idiots who are grateful for waffle makers at a Motel 6, but mercifully Mr. Brooks provided it. He wants us to be thankful as we eke out an existence in our capitalist meritocracy*. Lower your expectations, America, and be grateful for what little you’ve got. It’s the first plank in the Republican platform.

This country may have been a capitalist meritocracy years ago but now it’s more of a plutocratic kleptocracy, in which a few rich people get richer by using their political power to further fill their offshore bank accounts. They’ve found a way to run the economic engine in reverse, sucking money from the poor and middle class while ignoring government’s responsibility to invest in infrastructure, and to take care of the citizens who made their wealth possible.

Instead of a real economy, Brooks recommends that we appreciate a magical economy. This would be heartwarming and delightful if we were stupid, and didn’t know when we were being scammed.

The galling part is that we’re supposed to be thankful for it. Be glad as corporations are given the rights of people. Smile as their religions decide what your insurance will cover. Feel safe knowing that one day all immigrants and minorities will be securely locked away in privatized prisons.
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*Technically, a country in which Donald Trump is the Republican front-runner isn’t so much a meritocracy as an idiocracy.

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gemli is a trusted commenter, Boston

It was worth the wait. Obama has rendered the years of Republican obstructionism moot. Their clever ploys of the faux filibuster and the bellicose bullying and the Bibi embarrassments have fallen flat, and while Republicans were patting themselves on the back for their midterm “sweep” of Congress, Obama was planting the seeds for a bumper crop of reforms. Now, in the months preceding the presidential primaries, Obama is reminding people what Democrats stand for.

Republicans, on the other hand, are reaping what they sowed, which is precisely nothing. They’ve doubled-down on the sneering hate-speech and the empty rhetoric that appeals to the slack-jawed, resulting in a three-ring-circus of Republican anti-candidates who must run on negative accomplishments. It’s all about what they closed down, eliminated, blocked, cancelled and squashed. The only thing they built up is the bank accounts of their like-minded multi-millionaire brethren. When Donald Trump is getting buzz, you know the hive is diseased.

Obama has paved the way for a Democratic victory. Nothing is guaranteed, but even a somewhat compromised Hillary Clinton, energized by a we’re-mad-as-hell-and-we’re-not-going-to-take-it-any-more message from Bernie Sanders, gives me reason to hope for change. Come to think of it, that’s what Obama promised all along. He just didn’t say when it would happen. Maybe it’s now.

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While reading the comments to David Brooks’ op-ed in the NYT today, I came across this one from a Charles from NYC which just about sums things up:

Charles New York, NY 19 hours ago

I find it fascinating that Elizabeth Warren is always held up as the exemplar of the “far-left” of the Democratic Party. The policies Senator Warren advocates are consistent with mainstream American public policy from the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981. That half-century of our history was marked by very high marginal tax rates on the wealthy, rigorous government oversight of financial markets and corporate governance, protection of American manufacturing, the creation of robust social safety nets for working people, and a labor force that was one-third unionized. It is no coincidence that the era also saw the rise of the great American Middle Class and a significant reduction in income inequality.

The irony is that conservative politicians are among the first to look back upon these decades as a “golden age” in America while at the same time attacking the policies that made that age possible. It is also no coincidence that the center-right economic policies that Mr. Brooks is so enamored of have led to the destruction of the Middle Class, the return of soaring income inequality, and the rise of the new Plutocracy. The sole reason that many Americans believe that Senator Warren’s ideas are radical is because people like Mr. Brooks keep calling them that. It is time we stopped believing the labels and started remembering how progressive economic policies have worked for the majority of the American people.

How we have swung to the right! Will we ever swing back to mainstream American public policy as it used to be? Not unless we have a major uprising in this country, which seems unlikely given the way the media is controlled and congress has been gerrymandered.

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Almost 70% of Republicans believe we should take out ISIS asap.

Here’s what Zbig thinks:

“The worst thing we can do is to become the sole combatant against the forces of evil that are operating in that region. We have to avoid any direct collision with the world of Islam, we mustn’t label the enemy as Islamist, but we must work with those governments in the region that are prepared to defend themselves. … The key point I have in mind is that strategically we are not the chief protagonist in the region, because if we are, we become the inheritor of the colonial era, and we even become more hated in the region than is the case today.” ~ Zbigniew Brzezinski

I agree with Zbig.

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I used to be able to use the Simple Tags plugin without a problem. But that’s no longer the case. It’s not yet upgraded to WordPress version 4.1.1, the version I have which is the latest. So, I think I’ll skip doing tags for posts until Simple Tags gets upgraded.

Yesterday I ran into an awful problem trying to log in to wp-admin. What happened was….. nothing, just a white screen, no completion. This panicked me at first but then I decided to go to wordpress support and leave a message about my problem. By the afternoon I noticed my query had moved way down on the list, almost 100 were ahead of me! But then around supper time I actually got a reply. And it was a good one. The person suggested I test the plugins, one by one, to see if one of them was the culprit. This meant I had to login to the host site where all the code exists. Fortunately I had saved the password so I was able to login and do what he suggested. By trial and error I found the offending plugin, WP-SpamFree, so I deactivated it. Turns out this plugin so far only works for previous versions of wordpress.

Another night of single numbers, but 27F is predicted for today. We got a dusting of snow last night, far less that the 3 to 6 inches predicted. So maybe the grip of winter is weakening?

Yesterday I took the Subaru over to Profile Subaru for a Recall fix and of course they found more stuff to do. But today in a few minutes I’ll be taking the car down to Rusty’s for an inspection sticker (way out of date on that!). I want to show Rusty what Profile Suub came up with for needed repairs, two of them each running about $880. Maybe Rusty can do them for less? Or maybe not, we’ll see.

Lots to do in the next couple months: sell house, go to Costa Rica, buy apartment at Thornton Oaks or OceanView. The only certain thing is I’ll be going to Costa Rica (to the Osa peninsula) with Phyllis and her sister Jennifer from March 16 to 23rd.

Another blast of cold arctic air is hitting us tonight. My thermometer read -5.3F just now (9:30pm). I heard on my car radio this afternoon that the rapid warming of the arctic is having an effect on the Gulf Stream causing it to change its usual warming pattern. This behavior is of course very complicated as I found out when I spent a little time researching online. But clearly big changes are beginning to occur in the ocean currents. So, will spring ever come? Certainly this year, one hopes, but are there mightier changes in store for us in the not too distant future?

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