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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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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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Here’s a comment predicting the political future given the Republicans’ take over of both branches of congress:

Mary Ann & Ken Bergman Ashland, OR 3 hours ago
Now that Republicans fully control both houses of Congress, the chances increase that they’ll overreach in their zealous fervor to do everything they can to make President Obama a failure. There will be bills passed that they know the President will veto. There will be further blockage of his executive and judiciary appointments. And there will be a raft of Congressional hearings on the “scandals,” real or imagined, of the Obama administration. They may play their game of bluff over the federal budget, even though they’ll likely get the blame if the government is shut down. If certain Republicans have their way, there will be impeachment proceedings, even though Republicans don’t have the necessary two-thirds of the Senate in their pocket. It’s going to be a time of high theater, although little if any legislation is likely to be enacted.

So the President is wise to act, to the extent that he can, to carry out needed actions by executive orders. Unfortunately, they’re likely to be challenged in the courts, effectively tying them up for months or years in the legal process. The Republicans will use every means at their disposal to prevent the Obama administration from moving forward on important issues.

The level of mean-spiritedness of today’s Republicans is likely to become even more apparent to the public and turn them off. But Democrats are not faultless; they need to push progressive programs that help all of us, and stop being “Republican-Lite.”

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It will be interesting to look at this a year from now and see how things turned out.

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Racism won. Obstructionism won. But we’ll see how they do now! Watch for the backlash, GOP! Here’s a good comment by Brian of NYC in the NYT:

“This is the absolute best thing that could have happened. This is the end of the GOP as we know it.

The next two years will see Repubs having to do what they are institutionally against: making government work. Watch. The dog has been chasing the car for so long it no longer has any idea what to do besides bark. This places Democrats in perfect position for 2016. The next two years will be a circus as the extremist GOP agenda will be forced into broad daylight for all to see. Obama’s power of veto will ensure that their social and economic goals won’t take us back to the middle ages, so I’m not worried about them doing any lasting damage.

This isn’t a win for them. This is a short term set-back against progress that will arouse the disgust of the American public. In the meantime, it will be good fun watching them try to throw a ball they’ve spent the past four years trying to deflate.”

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I can’t believe this. It should have been unanimously defeated. Three Democrats even voted for it. Here are the details.

Fifty votes needed to defeat it, and it got 51. Olmypia Snowe was the only Republican who voted against it. Her Maine colleague, Susan Collins, went along with the rest of the Republicans. Group think is important among Republicans. There are always a few Democrats who stray, in this case three.

Olympia voted against it because, having chosen to retire, she is free, free at last to vote her conscience.

And then there’s that fascistic pig, Rush Limbaugh. He calls a law student a “slut” for wanting contraception available. How 19th century can you get? And have any Republicans repudiated Rush? No. I guess he and Grover Norquist are the voices of the Republican party.

Here’s an excellent NYT editorial on the narrow defeat of the Blunt amendment.

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Most popular reader’s comment on the NYT article, Soaring Poverty Casts Spotlight on Lost Decade:


We are entering an era of class warfare.

The rich and the moneyed corporate interests and the Republicans in their pockets have been quite bold about this: no healthcare for the poor. No education for the poor. And the middle class is weakening and falling away while the ultrarich control more and more.

The truth is, such a society is, overall, a poorer society. What I don’t understand is why some middle class and some poor actually support Republican initiatives that make them poorer and hurt their own health and the education of their children. It is a stunning triumph of propaganda, where some people support policies that hurt them, because of false contrived bogeymen like freeloading illegals and welfare queens. And the entire country is suffering for this propaganda bought and paid for by the rich and the corporations who don’t want to pay for your health and your education. And some of you agree with it! Insanity.

I thought it was “We the people,” not “We the rich people and corporations.” You who are poor and Republican or middle class and Republican: please take note of the war that is being waged against you, and reevaluate your support for policies which only impoverish you, bought and paid for by propaganda mouth pieces that appeal to your irrational fears rather than your sense of reason.

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Thanks BR from Times Square.

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I watched it last night and was impressed with his strong delivery and the high resonant pitch of his voice. Quite an oration. He seemed to be saying something too, not enough to fill the economic hole we’re in, but sufficient to create 1.9 million jobs according to Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. His hair might not be on fire, but it’s definitely smoking according to Paul Krugman. Oh I know, he’s done a lot of bad things like not closing Gitmo, not approving the new EPA standards, and many more: see Drew Westen’s NYT article What Happened to Obama?. Of course the Republicans won’t pass his Jobs bill, but at least he seems to be going down fighting. Let’s be optimistic and hope that his efforts might at least keep the senate from going Republican in 2012. Fat chance?

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