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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Rick Santorum has no fucking clue

Rick Santorum has six children.  He would have had seven but for a miscarriage by his wife.  The rabidly anti-abortion politician has a constant reminder for his family about the evil of abortion, he saved the miscarried fetus in a jar and keeps it at home, as some sort of weird symbol of his beliefs for his family.  That's sick. 

He also became famous for his "man on dog sex" comment about the result of allowing same se marriage, arguing further that this will open the door to all sorts of weirdness such as human's marrying box turtles. 

This has led to a 'santorum' become part of modern colloquy.  Google his name and you will see.  Santorum had better start creating some real news or that listing will remain top of Google search through what promises to become a very short Presidential campaign. 

Then again, he just can't stop himself.   Witness this series of tweets from him this past weekend.

Santorum, the gift that keeps on giving. 

Palin still can't remember shit - Needs cheat notes on her hand

Palin keeps lambasting Obama for using a teleprompter. She's got her own little portable Tea Party teleprompter, complete with Sharpie.

Too Poor to be "Sick and Poor" in America

There’s poor. And then there’s poor. The members of the second group know what I’m talking about. You are Too Poor to be “Sick and Poor” in America, when you qualify for government funded insurance, but you only have two dollars in your pocket and the co-payments for the three asthma drugs you need will cost you thirty dollars--- make that twelve, if you take your prescription to Wall-mart, which is still ten dollars more than you have right now. Monday through Friday, a social worker can get you a voucher so you don’t have to pay that thirty dollar fee, but today is Saturday. And there is a holiday weekend coming up. Too bad the poor are not allowed to take a holiday from being poor in celebration of Memorial Day. Did I mention that the woman with only two dollars and the bad lungs is a veteran?

You are Too Poor to be “Sick and Poor” in America, when you find out your co-payment to see your doctor will now be twenty-five dollars. That extra fifteen dollars was supposed to be your gas money---your city, which is one of the largest in the state, still does not have a bus, even though it has helped pay for two stadiums. So, now you have a choice. Drive to your doctor’s clinic, but do not get seen because you can not pay your part of the bill. Or, stay at home and use the twenty-five dollars to make a payment on your $20,000 “burial” insurance policy. Too bad you live in a community property state in which your spouse will be forced to hand over that $20,000 to your creditors when you die---creditors in this case, being the credit card company which you had to use to pay for all the extras that your health insurance did not cover. You, my friend, are too poor to get buried in America.

You are Too Poor to be “Sick and Poor” in America, when you can not get Social Security benefits for your many health conditions, because you are too poor to get the tests that would confirm that you have the problems which you know that you have, like sleep apnea, a pinched nerve in your back, emphysema and a bad heart. You’ll have to wait until two years after your first stroke to qualify for Medicare. Just be sure to go to a hospital when your right side goes numb and you lose the ability to talk. If you try to weather it at home, to avoid tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and if your symptoms eventually get better, then the stroke never happened, as far as Social Security is concerned.

You are Too Poor to be “Sick and Poor” in America, when you have to sign up for a Medicare managed care plan, because that’s the only way you can afford your prescriptions, but none of the doctors on your so called Medicare Advantage plan are taking new patients right now, so you can’t get a prescription for the drugs that you can now afford.

You are Too Poor to be “Sick and Poor” in America, when you do not have a photo ID to prove you are who you say you are when you go to the doctor’s office. The government is too broke to give away your indigent healthcare to some other poor person. It gave all our tax money to the banks, including the one that owns your medical debt that you can never write off, because real Americans do not get something for nothing and if they make bad economic decisions---like suffering a heart attack they could not afford---- they have to pay the consequences.

Real stories from the front line of the class war, May, 2011.

Posted by Democratic Underground,

Sorry for the absence

My apologies for the hiatus from the blog. There's been a little too much going on in my real world right now, most of it good. I also realized I felt burned out and utterly frustrated by the level of debate and the state of politics in America. We have our own version of Pravda and Sarah Palin and cable news suck the oxygen out of the debate.

Over 900 separate bills restricting a woman's choice are currently in the works at the state level across the U.S. Job creation bills, not so much unless you believe the myth that tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy is still the best job creation tool available.

I am starting to blog again despite more work, more pressure, moving etc but it's also provided good therapy for me, and hopefully fun and interest for me readers out there. The blog had started to gain momentum and was averaging over 100 hits a day which is tiny in the political blogosphere but we've survived for more than a year and are going to stick around.

An occasional click on an ad would also be much appreciated. It helps me feel there is soe value beyond what I write and the occasional check from Google doesn't hurt either.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ron and Rand Paul both aid they would have voted against The Civil Righs Act

I have a grudging respect for Ron, the elder Paul who is a Congressman from Texas. At least he sticks by his libertarian beliefs in opposing our ongoing wars although his libertarian views fly out the window on a woman's right to choose. His son, Rand the Senator from Kentucky is just an idiot. They both came out this week and said they would have opposed the Civil Rights Act on the principle that the government has no right telling business who they can do business with. This shows they both suffer from a complete ignorance of history.

Are they aware of the 1892 decision by the Supreme Court in Plessy V Ferguson where the court ruled in a disgraceful decision that the Pullman railroad company was allowed to offer 'separate but equal' facilities for black customers, even though the 'equal' part of it was a myth. Incidentally, that concept became the cornerstone of the justification of Apartheid in South Africa.

Prior to the Civil Rights Act, businesses in the South were legally prohibited from admitting blacks in many situations. The Civil Rights Act stopped that. In the famous action by four blacks in Greensboro to sit down at a 'whites' only counter in Woolwoths in 1950 Woolworths was prohibited by law even if they wanted to be 'libertarians' and admit blacks.

The Gkadiators - 'Jah Works'

Cool Reggae for a Sunday afteroon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

We're destroying the future to 'save' our children

Read this and weep about the insanity that has taken over America. It's destroying a great country. The most powerful news media station is no different from Pravda. It's a world where teachers are seen as the 'greedy enemy' and oil companies and their ilk as our saviors. Worst of all is the war on teachers who are tasked with and have chosen a life of molding the minds of the future. It's always been a noble profession, often thankless. Teachers need a level of education that can more often than not, pays less than a similar education in the private sector will get. As a reward they get benefits and a decent pension for retirement, but that is slowly being whittled away to balance the budget. They are asked to do more with less. Many of the best potential teachers are, I am certain, already deciding on alternative careers. In the obsession with cutting spending to save future generations we're denying them the very thing they need most, a well rounded education. Instead it's all about test scores amid budget cuts and a fantasy that charter schools run by for profit management companies that are failing more than they are succeeding is the future way for education in America.

This piece, written by a teacher with 35 years experience says more about where were headed than anything. Kids don't stand a chance unless your parents are rich enough to send you to a private school.

But then one Thursday, on the eighth day of my 35th year of teaching, I suddenly thought for the very first time ever, “I don’t want to be a teacher anymore.” It’s so weird how it just came over me like that. I don’t know if it’s like the challenges in Survivor where they keep adding water until the bucket finally tips over and the slow leak of problems finally made my bucket tip over. Or maybe this is how it happens for all older teachers.
It wasn’t a single thing that gave me this feeling. I’m hoping it doesn’t last. Maybe it was the severely autistic boy who showed up at my door the first day with no notice, but I don’t really think so. Maybe it was the rigid schedule the principal passed out for everybody to be doing the same subject at the same time of day, or the new basal reader we have to use that we aren’t allowed to call a basal reader. Maybe it’s the look in my student’s eyes when we’re reading the newly required dry textbook when I’m used to wild and crazy discussions about amazing novels.
Maybe it’s that for the first time, our school didn’t meet AYP because two few English Language Developing students in the entire school didn’t pass their reading benchmarks.
When I heard this, I instantly thought of the two English Language Learners in my class who hadn’t passed their reading tests last year and how unfair I thought it was that they even counted on our test scores when they came to our school in January and were absent at least twice a week from that point on. I was wondering how I could possibly have gotten them to benchmark level in three days a week for three months. I was thinking how if only those two students hadn’t counted on our scores, we would’ve met AYP as a school. When I mentioned it to my principal, she just said there are no excuses. We aren’t allowed to have any excuses. We have to get kids to the level they need to be no matter what the circumstances. I thought of the little boy I had with an IQ of 87 who could barely read. I thought of the little girl in a wheelchair who’d had 23 operations on tumors on her body in her eleven years, and the girl who moved from Mexico straight into my class and learned to speak English before my eyes, but couldn’t pass the state test. Somehow it doesn’t feel like making excuses to acknowledge that they had good reason not to pass their benchmarks.
Maybe it was the e-mail I got saying that the department of education in Oregon has raised the cut scores again this year by six or seven points per grade level, even though they just raised them a couple of years ago. I found out that if they would have used these new cut scores last year, over half of the students in grades 3-8 who passed their benchmarks wouldn’t have passed. That led to a realization that as a school we have very little chance of meeting our adequate yearly progress this year, but of course I’m not allowed to say that because there are no excuses. It’s hard not to feel discouraged.
Maybe it was one of the two parents who contacted me in the first few days of school to tell me that their child doesn’t particularly love my program this year. I’m so not used to that. I’ve always had kids achieving highly and loving my class. I’m just not sure how I can use the mandated materials in the required time periods, focusing on the required skills and still get kids to really love it.
Maybe it’s the fact that I lost a third of my retirement when they reformed our Public Employee Retirement System a few years back and now I keep reading about how they want to slash it even more because of the greedy teacher unions and how this is the main reason for the budget problems in our state.
Maybe it’s that I haven’t gotten a real raise in a really really long time, or that we had to cut eight days again this year to solve our state’s budget problems. So I’m taking a big hit again, and nobody seems to notice or care.
Anyway, whatever the reason, for the first time in 34 years it hit me, I don’t want to be a teacher any more. I want to sit on a rocking chair on my porch and drink tea instead. Maybe if they offer $20,000 for me to retire next year, I’ll take it. It’s so weird because never in my wildest imagination did I think I’d feel this way. I wonder if I’ll still feel this way when I close my classroom door tomorrow. I sure hope not because it makes me really sad.

The full article here.

Jon Stweart on the Common commotion: Eviscerates Sean Hannity

The first part of the segment

Second part here.

I'm sure Hannity never watches Jon Stewart. I've said it before and I will say it again. Why does it take a fucking comedian to expose the hypocrisy and idiocy of Fox News? More often than not, when I go into a waiting room, a restaurant, a bank or any other place with public access if there is a news channel on, it's Fox. And I live in liberal Los Angeles.

Fo lies about anything and everything, as long as it's to further the Republican agenda. Courtesy of Media Matters here are a few examples of their blatant lies, never mind their perpetual hypocrisy.

Fox claims 97% of America's offshore oil remains 'off limits'. The actual number is 20% and that 20% contains far less potential oil reserves and at best is marginal financially for the oil companies to drill. 97% - 29% Not even close to the truth.

Fox falsely claims the Ovama Department of Justice is 'going after' CIA officials who tortured, using waterboarding etc. A blatant lie. Eric Holder, Obama's AG hasn't even considered the idea.

President Obama signed an Executive Order forcing any company or organization that benefits from government contracts to disclose who they are giving political donations to. The Republicans, who benefited mightily from the Citizens United Supreme Court decision where corporations can anonymously donate unlimited sums of money to a political interest group. Fox claims that Unions are exempt from the Executive order. It's easy to find out the truth, which is that Unions are not exempt. Just read the fucking Executive Order but that would be asking too much of America's version of Pravda.

Those are just some striking examples from this week. In the Common commotion it's really all about race. For Hannity it's okay for Ted Nugent to yell from the stage about Obama sucking on the wrong end of a machine gun but not for Common yo rap about violence and to take the lyrics out of context because the end of the rap actually condemns the violence he describes earlier in the rap. There is only one reason, actually two, the color of the respective entertainer's skin and the target.

Fox News Lies pathologically without shame or conscience. I'm starting a boycott. From now on, if I walk into any public place that has Fox News on, I am informing the manager or whoever that as long as they keep showing Fox News lying to a gullible populace, they will lose my business. I'll change banks if I have to. Pass it on.

Blogger was down all of yesterday

So not only couldn't I post anything but they lost me a few posts as well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Texas allows corporal punishment for students in school

Conservatives have been waging war against teacher's Unions, against a curriculum that doesn't necessarily cater to their world view and is happy to move funds from public schools to charter and private schools. You would think they don't trust teachers except when it comes to dishing out corporal punishment. They no longer need parent's permission to hit students. Not that I'm surprised but parts of this country are becoming more and more neanderthal.

Bob Marley lives on, 30 years since he passed away

A rare live version of Redemption Song, as powerful today if not more so than when he performed it. His music has probably touched more people worldwide, transcending language, race and continent, more so than the Beatles or Bob Dylan ever did.

GOP Oil bill would funnel all court cases against big oil to one court.

That's the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that covers teas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The court is so 'oil friendly' most of the judges had to recuse themselves for either having too many investments in the oil industry or had represented oil companies there weren't enough judges to hear the case.

Buried deep in the oil friendly bill is the requirement that all cases dealing with oil go to the 5th court. Fortunately, it won't make it out of the Senate. It seems the limited rumbling from some in the GOP about cutting oil subsidies was all blather. When it comes down to it, they all obediently line up 100% behind the oil industry.

My un solicited advice to the Republicans is keep it up. When the Democrats get bored of attacking you on trying to kill Medicare/Grandma/the elderly they can switch to attacking you on you for having your retarded craniums firmly inserted deep in the bowels o big oil because the average American is just so happy to be paying over $4 a gallon for gas.

GOP Freshman may have no brains but they have 'Chutzpah'

'Chutzpah' is a Jewish word for audacity implying 'insolence' or 'impertinence'. It's not the same as having balls or courage. It's like walking up to your sworn enemy at school, reaching out to shake his hand and instead kicking him in the balls than kicking him a few more times on the ground before finally helping him yo his feet and asking for peace suggesting letting bygones be bygones.

That seems to be the new GOP House Freshmen strategy. They've suggested a truce and 41 of them sent a letter to Obama saying, "We ask that you stand above partisanship, condemn the disingenuous attacks and work with this Congress to reform spending on entitlement programs,"

These were the same people who went apeshit because Democrats were going to kill granny and got millions in Chamber of Commerce funds to keep hammering home this lie. Truth is the $500 billion in Medicare savings weren't going to cut services for Grandma but to reign in Medicare Advantage costs, the voucher system that is administered by private insurers and costs 14% more but provides the exact same services.

The dishonest barrage of ads hurt the confused and off message Democrats and they paid dearly at the polls.

The GOP took over the House and a host of state assemblies and governorships using this as an excuse and are using this as an excuse to enact their extreme 'wet dream' conservative/religious agenda with nary a 'moderate' Republican to object.

The have proposed 916 different bills to restrict abortion, bills to kill Unions, privatize anything they can, make voting far harder for people under the guise of stopping 'voter fraud, eviscerating funding for public schools and assistance for low income people etc.

And then came the brave, courageous Ryan budget that has done nothing but bitten them hard in the ass. Now they are running scared and begging for a truce. Kick 'em while they're down. The DNCC should be targeting (oops, can't do that) every one of these 41 sniveling freshmen cowards. Almost all come from small media markets where media buys are not very expensive. Start now, asking them why they think everyone under 55 should have to spend their life savings on medical care and end up broke by the time they die.

Not even the slick Paul Ryan could adequately explain his Medicare plan when pressed at Town Hall meetings. How do think these freshmen will do?

Police and Thieves - Junior Murvin - live 2004

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mike Huckabee's guiding light.

Be afraid,

Huckabee has joked that he "answers" to "two Janets." One is his wife, Janet Huckabee. The other is Janet Porter, the onetime co-chair of Huckabee's Faith and Values Coalition. And Porter, the former governor has said, is his "prophetic voice." But that voice has said some weird things over the years: Porter has maintained that Obama represents an "inhumane, sick, and sinister evil," and she has warned that Democrats want to throw Christians in jail merely for practicing their faith. She's attributed Haiti's high poverty rate to the fact that the country is "dedicated to Satan," and she suggested that gay marriage caused Noah's Flood. And there's this: In a 2009 column for conservative news site WorldNetDaily, Porter asserted that President Barack Obama is a Soviet secret agent, groomed since birth to destroy the United States from within.

Myths and facts about why the cost of healthcare is so high in America

Myth # 1 - We drink and smoke to much. We do but Europeans do both a lot more than we do.

Myth # 2 - America has a larger elderly population. We don't.

Myth # 3 - Obesity in America skyrockets costs. It is a problem but the total cost is estimated at about $25 billion, a small fraction of overall costs.

Myth # 4 - Malpractice costs are out of control. Malpractice adds 2% to the cost of healthcare. Still too high but most malpractice suits are not frivolous as some claim.

Truth # 1 - Providers charge more because they can. On average, medication costs 118% what it does in other countries. The Bush Medicare Prescription Act for example forbade the government from negotiating for lower prices.

Truth # 2 - Administrative overhead is out of control. 21% of our excess spending on health care is administrative and is double the cost per capital of the next highest country.

Truth # 3 - Massive outpatient costs. Hospitals provide incentives for quicker procedures to get higher profits.

Truth # 4 - Doctors are overpaid. In America doctors make 5 times more than their patients. In other developed countries they make 3 times more than their patients.

More details here,

Despite all these facts and myths Republicans think the solution is twofold. One is to limit malpractice suits and let the free market work its magic. With economic power concentrated more and more in the hands of a few corporations the 'free' market is becoming more and more a myth.

Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday

Tuesday is such a blah day. Here's something to entertain you and keep you going.

Right wing hypocrisy on Bin Laden death

Let's start with Andy Card, Bush's Chief of Staff and head of Bush's Iraq group. Obama has "pounded his chest too much".

At least Obama accomplished the mission.  Eight years later, to the day.

On May 6, Fox and Friends ran a banner saying, "Where is the criticism of Obama?"  How dare a black man show up Bush.

Glen Beck was not alone in calling Obama's visit to Ground Zero 'disgusting, obscene and grotesque'.  He's almost a Muslim.  How dare he esecrate holy ground.  It's proof that the right is mortified that Obama managed to get Bin Laden and by executing a perfect plan came away with the biggest treasure trove of intelligence on Al Qaeda.  It's more than their rancid pea brained intellects can handle.  Imagine the hysteria if a Democrat had dared to criticize Bush for his appearance at Ground Zero.  I'm no Bush fan but I felt good seeing him standing there with his bullhorn.

Then there is this descent into knee jerk hysterical paranoia.  After Obama's appearance at Ground Zero, Jake Tapper of  ABC News sent out this tweet.  "One minute to air and they take down the flag for the live shot"  as Tapper was to go on air, long after Obama had left.  The already fevered pinheads on the right totally misunderstood what Tapper had said and we got these quotes.

This administration and, by extension, the Democrat Party are now so thoroughly divorced from the history, traditions and morals of America that we might as well admit the Marxist left has executed a successful coup d'├ętat on this Republic

Doug Ross, a nonentity who should remain as such.

Does flying the American flag at Ground Zero now constitute "spiking the football???"

Michelle Malkin, professional horrible human being.

This was enough proof for Matt Drudge of the Sludge Report plaster his on his front page,

Team Obama takes down US flag before Ground Zero event..."

To their credit, both Malkin and Ross have acknowledged that they got the story wrong, though Malkin erased her erroneous post rather than add a correction to the initial, inflammatory post, while Ross claimed "perhaps Tapper just confused all of us" and added, "I'm sticking by my "Marxist coup d'├ętat" comment."

Sorry, too little and too late. Get your facts straight before posting instead of long after it had become writ in right wing folklore. These people are so eager to beleive any piece of crap as long as it purports to show Obama in a bad light. Notably Drudge never bothered to retract his headline.

Just an average day in America 2011 - Power and Greed rule

In Texas

"Loser Pays" Koch brothers backed bill passes making it safer for corporations to violate the law. House Bill 274 passed the Texas House this weekend with no amendments and no debate because Gov. Rick Perry deemed it to be 'emergency legislation'. The only emergency evident is the GOP and their supporters didn't want any debate or changes because if the average Texan knew exactly what it does they would be horrified.

Ostensibly, the law is designed to cut down on frivolous lawsuits even though laws and penalties are already in place for that. 86% of Texas judges, not normally known for the liberal views feel the current system is more than adequate but not the Koch brothers et al. The new law will make the plaintiff liable for all the defendants costs not only if the plaintiff loses but even if the plaintiff wins but the award is less than the amount in the original suit. Large corporations have unlimited resources and this will inhibit individuals or even small businesses to take on corporations even if they feel they have a good case, especially with the conservative nature of judges in Texas and the ultra conservative 5th circuit Court of Appeals is notorious for siding with corporate power.

A Koch refinery in Corpus Christi is notorious for violations and was indicted in 2000 on 97 counts of leaking Benzine, a known carcinogen. Under the new law, citizens affected by something like this could risk everything if they try to sue. Even if they win, they could still lose, or at best see their entire award being paid back to the defendant. Heads you win, tails I lose.

This same law was tried in Florida and was a total disaster, forcing the state to drop the law five years later. Large corporations can know be far more negligent, knowing the likelihood of being sued has become a lot less likely. Likewise, a large corporation can use it's power to push the legal envelope in wiping out smaller competitors knowing that even if they lose and settle for less than the original amount they will achieve their objective of wiping out their smaller competitor. Greed knows no limits and when it comes to the Koch brothers, $20 billion each is just not enough.


Florida is just one of a number of states that are 'reforming' voting laws under the guise of stamping out alleged voter fraud. I say 'alleged' because these allegations are seldom proved and when they manage to find fraud, it never amounts to more than a few votes here or there. Republicans use this as an excuse to tighten voting laws by forcing people to show a photo ID. Something that many low income elderly people may not have. Florida has added some new wrinkles.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Right Wing rewrites history on Bil Ladin and Al Qaeda

Let's start with a couple of historical 'what if's' Let's say the Supreme Court hadn't stepped in and stopped the 2000 recount in Florida and Al Gore had been elected President. Let's also say that the new Gore administration had ignored Richard Clarke's warnings about Al Qaeda because he was pissed at Clinton for his indiscretions that made it a lot harder for him to win the 2000 election.

Let's say Gore and his administration had shrugged of all the security warnings in the summer of 2001 and that the Attorney General, acting head of the FBI at the time had taken off on a fishing vacation instead instead of ordering a top down report from the FBI on any suspicious activity in the U.S. like Middle Eastern men attending flight training schools who wanted to know everything about flying a passenger jet except landing it. Let's say President Gore hadn't convened a meeting ordering the CIA and the FBI to pool all their information about possible terrorist threats.

Let;s say that meeting hadn't happened and the CIA never informed the FBI or anyone that they had already been tracking some of the members of the the 9/11 gang that they knew had already entered the US. Let's say those names hadn't been passed on to the FBI which would have automatically put them on an FAA watch list. Let's say that without those names the FBI wouldn't have found out that a couple of the suspected terrorists on that list had purchased one way tickers on two of the flights that were hijacked. Let's assume despite all these negligent omissions had happened and the attacks of 9/11 had happened.

Some on the right assume that a Gore administration would not have invaded Afghanistan because the democrats/left/liberals felt that somehow the U.S. was rsponsible because we had pissed off Al Qaeda. None have claimed that outright but many on the right have insinuated that would have been the case. President Gore would have gone after Al Qaeda and the Taliban, then ruling Afghanistan would have done exactly what the Bush administration did.

What they wouldn't have done is taken they eye off the ball and concocted a reason for invading Iraq.

Charles Krauthammer, one of the more 'respected' editorial writers on the right wrote a revision of history that is stunningly unbelievable. He wrote a couple of days ago that:

Two months and a day before 9/11, terrorism expert Larry C. Johnson published “The Declining Terrorist Threat,” a New York Times op-ed decrying the fact that “Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism,” when, in reality, “the decade beginning in 2000 will continue the downward trend” in lethal terrorism.

In 2004, Slate magazine wrote the following:

Throughout that summer, we now well know, Tenet, Richard Clarke, and several other officials were running around with their "hair on fire," warning that al-Qaida was about to unleash a monumental attack. On Aug. 6, Bush was given the now-famous President's Daily Brief (by one of Tenet's underlings), warning that this attack might take place "inside the United States." For the previous few years—as Philip Zelikow, the commission's staff director, revealed this morning—the CIA had issued several warnings that terrorists might fly commercial airplanes into buildings or cities.

While that was going on, AG Ashcrot, Bush and Cneney were all on vacation and didn't think any of this was important enough to interrupt their vacations. Bear in mind that Ashcroft was acting head of the FBI because of Louis Freeh's resignation as had of the FBI and no-one had, as yet been selected to replace him.

Krauthammer then walks into pure fantasy with his next statement.

After its rout from Afghanistan, al-Qaeda chose the troubled waters of Iraq as the central front in its war on America — and suffered a stunning defeat, made particularly humiliating when its fellow Sunni Arabs rose up to join the infidel Americans in subduing it.

Say what!. For all of his evil, Saddam Hussein was a secular dictator and wanted no part of Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda in Iraq only showed up there after the American invasion. The Bush administration had used the fact that an Al Qaeda camp had existed in the northern mountains of Iraq beyond the no-fly one as an excuse that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda, ignoring the fact that the Iraqi army was restricted to south of the no-fly zone and could do nothing about the Al Qaeda camp.

For revisionist historian, though even using the term 'historian' obviously gives Krauthammer far too much credit, somehow now believes that Al Qaeda chose Iraq as the central front in the war on America. They did, but only after America launched an ill conceived and incompetently run war in Iraq. Truw, the newly constituted Iraqi subsidiary of Al Qaeda was finally defeated but at the cost of over 5,000 additional American lives, god nows how many others traumatically injured, a trillion or so dollars and the lives of a few hundred thousand Iraqis.

In Krauthammer's fevered version of history. it was Al Qaeda who forced America to invade Iraq. In fact it was the master manipulator and Iranian doulbe agent Chalabi and the fevered imagination of an alcoholic ex Iranian low level military taxi driver from Germany who was never actually eve debriefed by the CIA but whose every word was believed by an administration just itching for a war.

Lost in the fog og history is a quote from Bin Lden himself, long before 9/11 that a major terrorist attack on America would trigger an irrational invasion on an oil rich Middle Eastern state that had no role in the attack. For all of Bin Laden's evil he was smart enough to understand American thinking better than Americans itself undersand how they respond to threats.

David Bowie - Life on Mars

Friday, May 6, 2011

A lack of grace

Paul Krugman.

For the most part I’m staying away from the whole Osama thing, in part just because the field is so crowded, but just to say the obvious: isn’t the GOP showing a stunning lack of grace in this whole affair?

It’s particularly striking if you remember the atmosphere from 2001 through until 2004 or so. Back then, any hint of criticism of Bush’s War on Terror, or even a failure to show sufficient enthusiasm for his leadership, led to accusations that you were unpatriotic and somehow warped by your partisanship.

Now Obama actually gets his man — and does it in what seems to have been a truly gutsy fashion — and all we get is carping.

I can’t actually say I’m surprised, but it’s still kind of amazing.

"Is our children learning" - George W. Bush

Evidently not, judging by the posts at this site. Shit my students write.

Rebels and onions got no respect.

The rebel and onion armies showed grose negligence by having many of their battles right inside national parks, like Gettysburg.

Never forget.

Was it the Revolutionary War or the Civil War that the Japanese dropped the atomic bomb on Pearl Harbor?

Vietnam and Woodstock veterans agree:

Most respondents stated that attitudes towards sex changed after the Vietnam and Woodstock wars.

Evidently not.

Keeping America safe

Remember how the Republicans kept reminding us that George Bush was the most brilliant, decisive and magnificent leader since Alexander the Great because we hadn't been attacked since 9/11.

Obama must be doubly great because he got the underpants bomber and Bin Laden.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Allegations of massive fraud in Wisconsin GOP recall petitions against Democrats

Six Republican state senators will in all likelihood face recall elections in July while Republicans allegedly got enough signatures to trigger recall elections for 3 Democratic state senators. While the Democrats averaged 50% over the threshold Republicans managed an average of 30% over the threshold, which is 25% of votes cast in the last election. A swing of three seats to the Democrats will give the Democrats a majority and stymie Governor Scott Walker's agenda.

The real story here is the allegations of fraud against the Republican petitions. While the Democrats, highly motivated by Walker's union busting agenda used local grass roots to gather signatures the Republicans used an outside company paying them $100,000. Allegations of fraud, mostly in conning signers by misrepresenting the nature of the petition have been rampant. The Democrats have now filed a formal challenge with hundreds of affidavits to bolster their case.

Senate District 12: Of the 534 people contacted who had signed the petition, 9.2% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.

Senate District 22: Of the 225 people contacted who had signed the petition, 6.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.

Senate District 30: Of the 372 people contacted who had signed the petition, 8.6% indicated they were misled into signing the petition or asserted they had never signed.

Affidavit of a World War II veteran from Green Bay who was misled into signing a recall petition. Upon learning he had been duped, veteran called the sheriff to get his name removed. When confronted, the circulator claims he will remove the name, but a later review of the petitions reveals the veteran's name was never crossed off.

Many affidavits attesting that Circulator Sherri Ferrell - who gathered nearly 3,000 signatures in two districts -- gathered signatures on Indian reservations claiming petitions were to support "schools," "Democrats," and "tribal rights."

Affidavit of voter in Senate District 22 attesting that circulator John Prijic claimed the petitions were for work to be done on a local park.

Affidavit of voter in Senate District 30 attesting that circulator Richard Madrill claimed the petitions were to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

William Pocan’s forged name appears on line 10, page 362 of circulator Kevin Pursell’s petition. As his widow Corinne Pocan’s affidavit attests, William Pocan has been deceased 20 years, although his name remains in the phone book.

Claims by many Wisconsin citizens who were misled by out-of-state circulators who claimed they could sign on behalf of other people.

Numerous examples of fake addresses and signatures appearing on GOP recall petitions, as well as sloppily gathered signatures also missing critical information.

Republicans have also filed challenges against all six Democrat petitions, challenging signatures as well as irregularities in the filing of the paperwork. The signature challenges should fall far short because of the larger cushion over the threshold.

One indicator of the recall election prospects is that a seat in the state House Assembly in a special election Tuesday held by the GOP for the past 17 years was won by a Democrat.

This could get interesting. One thing is obvious; that circulators systematically misled signers as to the nature of the petitions. Whether any of the recall petitions against the three Democrat can have enough signatures tossed is unknown. Either way, the allegations will become part of the narrative of the election, an issue that could help the Democrats overall. The elections will have a significance far beyond Wisconsin and will, in effect be a referendum on GOP overreach in a number of states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. In Ohio and Michigan, recall campaigns against their new GOP governors is already underway.

The irony of all this is that it's the GOP who constantly bring up allegations of voter fraud to justify voter ID laws that make it more difficult for elderly and or low income voters to vote.

A win for the Democrats in Wisconsin will bode well for 2012 both as a reflection of extreme GOP policies and the ability for the Democrats to motivate voters to show up to vote, something that cost them dearly in 2010. That the pendulum is swinging back the other way is becoming more evident. Just how much it will swing is yet to be seen.

President Obama - a lot smarter than the maverick loser McCain

(Double click to get the wide screen version)

For those not willing to give Obama credit for nailing Bin Laden, and doing it in a way that will, in all likelihood be a treasure trove of intelligence on Al Qaeda for the U.S. If the maverick fool McCain, who couldn't even remember how many houses he owns had won the election Bin Laden would still be enjoying is suburban semi-retirement in Pakistan.

An added plus is seeing Fox and friends contort themselves in all sorts of logic pretzels to diminish what Obama did. Keep it coming, all Fox and friends are doing is preaching to a shrinking choir, the 27% baseline that can never be won over, while appearing more and more deranged to the rest of us who at least have a passing acquaintance with sanity.

Snivelling, whining turd of the day - Eric Cantor

Poor Eric Cantor, GOP House Majority leader. Those mean, nasty Democrats are picking on him again. A light bulb has finally lit inside the dim craniums of House GOP members. Maybe, just maybe, Paul Ryan's 'Road to Prosperity' map is going over like a lead balloon.

True to current GOP standards, it has nothing to do with the fact that Ryan's Medicare solution of vouchers redeemable at your nearest private health insurance emporium will result in everyone over 65 with a net worth of less than a million or two praying for a quick and painless end to their lives so they can leave something to their kids.

After voting unanimously for ending Medicare as we know it House reps faced torrid town hall meetings and learned what it was like to be a Democrat rep last year during the heat of the health care reform debate.

"The reality is this president has excoriated our Medicare proposal...this president has done nothing but attack the plan," Cantor said. "That is unfortunate."

Boo-hoo. Cantor's fragile feelings were hurt. He also accused the Democrats of not offering up a plan of their own. Actually they have but facts are mere irritating inconveniences for your average Republican. Oh yes, and there is also the little matter of the ACA (Affordable Care Act) passed last year that actually took some steps to controlling spiraling health care costs which is the bigger problem. Ryan's budget doesn't even consider that. Instead the Republicans were quite happy to pass Bush's Medicare prescription act which expressly forbids the Federal government from negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies for lower pricing. That's the GOP's version of cost containment.

GOP Presidential pre-debate sponsored by the John Birth Society and others

This is your new GOP Party. The John Birch Society used to be exiled to the fringes of American politics by both parties. In the 1950's they called Eisenhower a 'communist infiltrator, fought virulently against civil rights and claimed the Soviets were poisoning America through fluoridation of our drinking water. Not much has changed in their thinking, having called Nelson Mandela "a communist, terrorist thug" as recently as 2009.

Tonight they are one of the sponsors of the first GOP Presidential debate. Another sponsor is the Oath Keepers who according to Think Progress:

The Oath Keepers’ website is riddled with paranoid rhetoric about government officials “disarm[ing] the American people,” “confiscat[ing] the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies,” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.” In early 2008, the Oath Keepers’ founder warned that a “dominatrix-in-chief” named “Hitlery Clinton” would impose a police state on America and shoot all resisters. After primary voters chose a different candidate, the Oath Keepers simply rewrote their paranoid fantasy to include a taller, African-American lead.

Another group called the Exodus Mandate which believes public education is evil and all children should either be educated in a Christian environment or home schooled.

Note: These organizations are sponsors of a pre-debate rally. There is a difference, nuanced though it may be but the fact remains that extremist groups feel a lot more comfortable in the environs of the mainstream GOP and vice versa.

Break out the bubbly for the Fortune 500 while new jobless claims hit an 8 month high

Fortune Magazine is out with the 500 biggest companies and it makes wonderful reading...if you're a top executive at any of them.

Walmart is #1 - woo-hoo with $421 billion in sales. Their earnings jumped over 14% to $16 billion. The one minor irritant, the class action sex discrimination suit against them currently before the Supreme Court. Not to worry though, I'm sure the ever reliable Supreme Court will vote their wqy 5-4.

Roaring into second place is Exxon with $35 billion in profits. Got to keep those tax rebates and 'drill baby drill' otherwise we'll be paying more at the pump. Fuck, we already are.

At #5 is Fannie Mae. Huh, Turns out their lofty position is because of a change in accounting procedures. Maybe that's all we need to fix the economy.

The rankings are by gross revenue, not profits. In all the top 500 companies had gross sales of a little over $10 trillion and the good news, at least for those companies is profits increased 81% over 2009.

While corporations are in a bubbly mood the weekly new unemployment filings came in at an eight month high of 474,000. Oh well. Obviously we need more budget cuts to services that help the newly unemployed and those other welfare bums to motivate them to go out and get jobs.

The Fortune 500 companies are obviously hiring. Yes, in China, India and elsewhere. More proof, say the Republicans on cue and in unison, "we need to lower corporate tax rates to make U.S. companies more competitive in the global market."


In the wake of publication of the Fortune 500 list, House Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to use a procedural maneuver to block an attempt to repeal an oil industry tax break worth $1,8 billion a year.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The GOP's hatred of women reaches new heights

H.R. 3, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act passed the house today by a 251-175 vote margin. Every Republican voted for it, joined by 16 anti-choice Democrats. It's the Hyde Amendment that has been around forever on steroids. That amendment had to be approved every year and it always is. The new bill seeks not only to make that permanent, but to effectively force private insurance companies to drop abortion coverage in most if not all policies.

The bill has no chance of passing the Senate but a lot of House Republicans are already saying they plan to use it as a bargaining chip in the debt ceiling negotiations. Good luck with that.

The new assault is via business tax credits and personal health care tax accounts as well as redefining rape and incest through a sleazy back door rule. Grover Norquist, the most vocal anti-tax voice on the right pulls no punches. He calls it a tax increase. At least he's consistent.

Right now, most insurance plans include coverage of abortion. H.R. 3 makes any small business or individual that has a health care plan that includes coverage of abortion ineligible for the small business health tax credit and the premium assistance tax credit, thereby raising taxes on potentially millions of otherwise eligible small business owners and individuals. If this bill were enacted, millions of individuals and small businesses will face significant increased costs just for keeping the comprehensive insurance coverage they currently have.

It gets worse.

H.R. 3 would also impose tax increases on women who use their tax preferred savings accounts to pay for abortion services. Under current law, individuals or employers can contribute to these accounts, which are exempt from taxation, so that such funds will be available for medical needs. Under H.R. 3, the amount paid, or any reimbursement for, an abortion would have to be included in the individual’s gross income, meaning that the individual would lose this tax benefit.

And worse.

H.R. 3 Contains No Exceptions for Circumstances Where a Woman Faces Even Serious Health Consequences

H.R. 3 does not make any exceptions for abortions that are necessary to save a woman’s health, such as in cases where continuing the pregnancy could result in permanent damage to a woman’s heart, lungs, or kidneys. Pregnancy can worsen some serious health conditions, as well as prevent treatment of certain conditions, such as cancer. Under H.R. 3, women would be left without insurance coverage for pregnancy termination necessitated by medical complications, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Have cancer and get pregnant. Tough shit, go out of pocket or die. These people are truly fucked up. Moral cowards..all of them. I know, in a sense it is a symbolic vote because they know the bill will never get through the Senate but not one GOP House Rep, never mind the 16 Democrats, had the moral courage to stand up and say they can't vote for this because it goes too far. Not one. May all their teenage daughters get impregnated by an illegal immigrant. Fuck them all.

That'll teach them

From Australia.

Three artists painted this mural on a blank wall, I presume without permission. Then someone painted over the mural above, leaving a blank white wall. Not for long, it was replaced with the graffiti in the lower picture, I assume for not too long. Brilliant.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon

A hot and sunny afternoon in Los Angeles. Summer is here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Another GOP economic theory goes up in smoke

The new slew o GOP governors have all cut axes for their wealthiest citizens based on teh assumption that lower taxes in a neighboring state will lure these people to move out of state. I always thought this was bullshit and just another excuse to lover taxes on the wealthy a core GOP value, and to hand out favors for campaign contributions.

An 18 year old study proves I'm right but that didn't stop Gov. Chris Christie from doing just that.

"You're not going to fix this tax situation by continuing to load more and more taxes onto people who have both the ability to leave the state and the inclination to leave the state if they feel as if they are being treated unfairly."

Other states followed suite but two new studies have exploded that myth.

"Taxes [have] essentially no impact on causing people to leave a state," says Jeff Thompson, of the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

In a study tracking 18 years of migration between states in New England, Thompson found that people mostly move for job-related reasons. They go where the jobs are, regardless of whether it's low-tax New Hampshire or higher-tax Maine.

"If you're living in a state and your tax bill goes up by a thousand or two thousand dollars," he says, "that ... pales in comparison to what it would cost you to actually move. And it might not be worth it to have to be farther away from your job, farther away from your friends."

That makes a lot more sense than trickle anywhere but down economics.

GOP Louisiana Rep wants all women who have an abortion to serve 15 years hrd labor

Maybe there's some contest going on among Republican legislators to see you can promote the most insane law. Obviously the rules exclude anyone who might propose a law designed to help grow the economy unless you regard the growth of prisons to be primarily an economic policy.

Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie wants to now eradicate all abortions in his state and sentence both women and doctors who commit this crime the ban to 15 years hard labor. The law would make no exceptions for cases of danger to the health of the mother, incest or rape, and would essentially be an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade in the state of Louisiana.

He admits that the law wont pass in its current form and that the criminal penalties will be voted out in committee but I'll bet you any money that he wouldn't mind it making it to a vote in its current form.

Andrew Breitbard follows close behind : Here come the 'deathers'

No surprise here. Just because Breadfruit is the master at faking slurs with carefully edited video it doesn't mean that everyone else celebrates gutter politics the way he does.

He's not satisfied that Bin Laden is dead despite a positive ID of the body and his DNA. He wants the body to be displayed to all Americans. I'm sure Live Nation can organize a farewell tour, complete with backing band and 72 wailing virgins.

The free world, particularly the United States, has a right to make sure Osama bin Laden is really dead. Every American has a right to walk right up to bin Laden’s corpse and view it. We are entitled to know for a fact that the witch is dead. No shroud for dignity’s sake, please – bin Laden’s naked, bullet-riddled corpse should be put on display in lower Manhattan for all the world to see. The entire body should be digitally scanned, inside and out – and made available for everyone to take his or her own picture.

Back in the Middle Ages thy used to decapitate an enemy and display his head on a pike to prove he was really dead and to scare off his supporters. No doubt if we stooped to that level of barbarity he would still not be satisfied.

Rick Santorum becomes the first Republican to take a shor at Obama

It didn't take long for a Republican to attack Obama on getting Bin Laden. He complained that Obama is not defensing 'American Freedom' but apart from offering general and vague standard GOP talking points could not cite a specific example:

Barack Obama, who certainly is not someone I would say is known for fighting great causes in defense of American freedom, but I will give him credit in this, that he remained vigilant in going after Osama bin Laden. [...]

We have to continue to be vigilant in going after this enemy, when we’ve seen, if anything from this administration, is a lack of leadership, an indecisiveness, a confusion in dealing with the troubles that have erupted, particularly in the Middle East during this presidency. We’ve seen a lack of conviction, a lack of resolve. … Maybe, again, that will change as a result of this success over the weekend.

His statement comes straight from the generic Frank Lunzt vague talking points. He added that, “there may not be resolve — left to right — when it comes to continuing and making sure we are victorious in subduing the jihadist threat around the world.” Santorum offered no specifics. I assume he's implying that Obama lacks the braggadocios swagger that was characteristic of Bush instead of results. I have to assume that's what Santorum wants, more feel-good swagger because that really showed Al Qeada who's boss.

What a tool.

Meanwhile in other news - Reagan budget director whacks Ryan....again

From ABC's This Week yesterday;

FREELAND: You worked for Ronald Reagan. Do you think the American economy — so you’re, like, a red-blooded capitalist — could it sustain higher taxes than it has now?

STOCKMAN: Absolutely. In 1982, we were looking at the jaws of the worst recession since the 1930s. We overdid it in 1981, cut taxes too much. We came back with a big deficit reduction plan in 1982. Unemployment’s at 10 percent, the economy is in dire shape, and we raise taxes by 1.2 percent of GDP, which would be $150 billion a year right now — not 10 years down the road — but right now.

Stockman also criticized the Ryan plan, claiming the bigger problem right now is a revenue problem, rather than a spending problem, reminding viewers that the Ryan plan doesn't cut one cent from the budget over the next three years and will only achieve a balanced budget in 2041 assuming their rosy predictions even work out.

All but two Republicans in the House voted for the Ryan plan, yet despite this many still are still absolutely opposed to raiding the debt limit. Michelle Bachmann, one of the more prominent House members and a putative Presidential candidate has a novel idea vfror solving the problem. She suggests we jut start taking all incoming Federal money and use it to keep paying the debt, that way. voila, no need to raise the dept ceiling and everything will be just peachy.

Republicans love to relate the Federal budget to the average family. Let's say Family 'A' has a monthly income of $5,000 and like many, they still have a mortgage and a heavy stack of credit card bills. On a good month they're treading water, other months they eating into to the remaining available credit on their cards and they've even taken out a couple of retail chain credit cards to stretch their debt.

Michelle Bachmann is their financial adviser which means they're already in deep shit. They follow her advice and divert almost all their income to paying down their debt. Their lights get turned off, they lose their health insurance, they go without food, their cars get repossessed but dammit they're making progress on reducing their debt. The analogy doesn't quite fit but its close enough and Bachmann is considered a legitimate candidate for President.

The again her ideas look almost sane compared to Trump who's policy seems to be to take everyone's oil and sit down with the rest of the world powers and ell them shut the fuck up and listen.

Picture of the day

Remember when the Republicans tried to block the aid for the health effects of the first responders until Jon Stewart, a fucking oomedian had to get really serious and devote alsmost a week of his show to the issue?  Remember who's priorities are right and who'se aren't.

Bush and Oboma's priorities on Bin Laden

George Bush in March 2003:

"We haven't heard much from him. And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is,"... "I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run.

President Obama last night:

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Priorities are imprtant things.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mission Accomplished - Bin Laden dead

President Obama told the nation and the world that Osama Bin Laden has finally been killed. Mission finally accomplished. The U.S. had him apparently cornered in the mountains of Afghanistan towards the tail end of the initial invasion of Afghanistan but for whatever reason cut off the pursuit to turn their attention instead to Iraq.

Ironically it was May 1, 2003, exactly eight years ago that President Bush landed a plane on the USS Abraham Lincoln, strutting around in his flight uniform complete with codpiece looking accoutrement beneath a banner saying 'Mission Accomplished'.

In fact the mission had barely began and was about to fly off the rails due to the incompetence of Rumsfeld et al who, despite CIA warnings refused to accept that a major insurgency was underway in Iraq.

It took a president with the right priorities to finally get the job done. The countdown begins now for the first negative comment from a Republican politician or commentator. I give it less than 12 hours with the odds being on the turd Rush Limbaugh being the first.

Rumors that Donald Trump has insisted on proof through the long form death certificate is not true.

The Brits can see the GOP for what they are - must read

An editorial in the Independent on Donald Trump and the current GOP is brilliant.

Since the election of Barack Obama, the Republican Party has proved that one of its central intellectual arguments was right all along. It has long claimed that evolution is a myth believed in only by whiny liberals – and it turns out it was on to something. Every six months, the party venerates a new hero, and each time it is somebody further back on the evolutionary scale.

Sarah Palin told cheering rallies that her message to the world was: "We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way!" – but that wasn't enough. So the party found Michele Bachmann, who said darkly it was an "interesting coincidence" that swine flu only breaks out under Democratic presidents, claims the message of The Lion King is "I'm better at what I do because I'm gay", and argues "there isn't even one study that can be produced that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas."

That wasn't enough. I half-expected the next contender to be a lung-fish draped in the Stars and Stripes. But it wasn't anything so sophisticated. Enter stage (far) right Donald Trump, the bewigged billionaire who has filled America with phallic symbols and plastered his name across more surfaces than the average Central Asian dictator.

It gets better.

Trump probably won't become the Republican nominee, but not because most Republicans reject his premisses. No: it will be because he states these arguments too crudely for mass public consumption. He takes the whispered dogmas of the Reagan, Bush and Tea Party years and shrieks them through a megaphone. The nominee will share similar ideas, but express them more subtly. In case you think these ideas are marginal to the party, remember - it has united behind the budget plan of Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan. It's simple: it halves taxes on the richest 1 percent and ends all taxes on corporate income, dividends, and inheritance. It pays for it by slashing spending on food stamps, healthcare for the poor and the elderly, and basic services. It aims to return the US to the spending levels of the 1920s – and while Ryan frames it as a response to the deficit, it would actually increase it according to the independent Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Ryan says "the reason I got involved in public service" was because he read the writings of Ayn Rand, which describe the poor as "parasites" who must "perish", and are best summarized by the title of one of her books: 'The Virtue of Selfishness.'