Paul Ryan: The First Rule About Income Inequality is “Don’t Talk About Income Inequality.”

Refocusing the national conversation

It’s hard to deny that the first nine months of the 112th Congress saw this country transfixed by Republican demands for austerity. Indeed, President Obama was met with a lot of criticism from the left for seeming to give in to this Republican-framed national conversation. Many on the left were frustrated that Republican jibber jabber about spending cuts seemed to rule the day.

First, there was the April budget showdown which saw the radical right itching for a government shutdown unless Democrats acceded to their demands for $100 billion in cuts and defunding Planned Parenthood and the healthcare bill. Instead, Republicans got $38 billion in cuts, the continued survival of the Obamacare albatross, and the uterati retained control over their lady-areas. Needless to say, Teabilly-in-Chief, Michele Bachmann was gutted.

Then came the Republican-manufactured debt ceiling crisis which resulted in Orange Julius crowing that Republicans had gotten 98% of what they wanted and some lefties again pissed off about — something. (Turns out OJ and these lefties were wrong.)

After the debt ceiling tears had dried, President Obama pivoted to the most important issue in this country – JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Knowing that Republicans were going to do exactly two things about jobs — jack and squat — President Obama took his jobs act on the road. Criss-crossing the country, he made his case for his American Jobs Act directly to the people, and asked us to get involved by calling Congress to demand they pass the bill. (We all know how that worked out.)

Inescapably entangled in the president’s jobs message is the very simple notion that rich-ass people should pay more in taxes. Warren Buffet hopped on the Jobs train and became the figurehead for the Republicans’ worst nightmare: the growing outcry in support of a simple idea that the Riches™ should pay more.

And then came the game changer: Occupy Wall Street.

Arguably, the five-week old occupy protests that have captivated America (and, indeed, the globe) have done more for our national conversation than anything President Obama has done. Whichever way one slices it, however, it is clear that the conversation has changed from “austerity” to income equality.

Everyone in the country is talking about income equality now, and that conversation all leads to one conclusion: tax increases on the rich.

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The “Worst Governor In America” Contest Rolls On

Looks like Ohio Republican John Kasich is not only the new most hated governor in the land (surpassing Florida’s odious GOP Jackass-in-Chief, Rick Scott) but he’s now giving Scott a solid run for his money in the outright worst in the nation category.  MoJo’s excellent Mac McClelland:

While we’re all at being (rightfully) mad at some really rich people, let’s splash some more fuel onto the class-warfare fire. Think tank Innovation Ohio has released some stats about that state’s governor, John Kasich, who is trying to kill collective bargaining with a bill called SB 5 and who recently slashed funding to services people sort of need, like schools and firefighting.

But the Ohio legislature isn’t spreading the pain equally—namely, not among themselves. According to IO’s most recent report, Kasich took a raise of more than $10,000 over the last governor’s salary, bringing his pay to $148,165. And exempted the salary from the SB 5 provision that cuts automatic annual raises for other public employees. And lied about how much he pays his staff, whose senior members make $110,000. Also unaffected by the recent massive budget cuts is the Ohio General Assembly’s minimum salary of $60K—for a part-time job in a state where the average worker makes $40K. Of course, 62 of the 70 legislators who voted for SB 5 make more than that minimum. Those 62 receive annual bonuses up to $34k. No wonder there was so much protesting going on when I was there.

So yeah, with all the howling from Ohio Republicans that the Buckeye State had to end collective bargaining rights for those awful, greedy state employees so that Ohio counties and municipalities could make “painful but necessary” budget cuts, not only did they lock down salaries for other government employees in the state, Kasich then went and gave himself a big fat ol’ raise on the taxpayer dime.  Awesome.

Anyone surprised by this, please email me your bank account info, I need to get a couple billion dollars out of a Nigerian prince or two.  Seriously, exciting new branches of theoretical mathematics have yet to be discovered that can sufficiently quantify how much of a complete asshole John Kasich is.

But hey, Republicans given power?  Surprise!  They abuse it.

It’s Not The Size Of The Man In The Fight…

I honestly don’t understand the media obsession with Chris Christie’s weight.  Yeah, he’s a big guy, so what?  If you’re going to go after Christie, he’s got a long record of wingnuttery and semi-ethical New Jersey political nonsense to shine the spotlight on.

One of the most persistent stories that dogged Christie in his 2009 campaign was his unusual financial relationship with a top aide at his federal prosecutor office, Michele Brown. Christie lent Brown some $46,000, which he says was to help a family friend through a rough patch. But critics argued that the move was an improper conflict of interest heading into a gubernatorial campaign since Brown was in a position to help Christie in a variety of ways. Her job included handling FOIA requests, including those from Governor Corzine’s campaign, for example. And in one instance, she argued to colleagues in favor of wrapping up a major corruption probe before July 1, when Christie’s successor took over the US Attorney position, a move that ensured credit for the case would clearly flow to Christie. Brown resigned shortly after news of the loan broke and, according to the New York Times, she paid off Christie’s loan in October 2010.

It wasn’t the only allegation of conflict of interest that Christie fought off. The then-US Attorney testified before Congress on a series of no-bid monitoring contracts worth millions that he awarded to various law firms. One contract, worth up to $52 million, went to former Attorney General John Ashcroft, Christie’s old mentor. Another former US Attorney chosen for a monitoring contract, David Kelley, had previously investigated Christie’s brother in a stock fraud case in 2005 — he was not indicted while fifteen others were. Top lawyers at another firm he awarded a major contract to later donated about $24,000 to his campaign. Christie said the contracts were awarded on merit and accused Corzine of “character assassination” for raising the issue.

He was also accused of mishandling his office’s budget as US Attorney. In a 2010 report by the DOJ’s Inspector General, he was identified as one of the most profligate federal prosecutors in the country from 2007 to 2009, spending taxpayer cash on luxury hotels that exceeded government rates by as much as $242 a night. Christie said during the 2009 campaign that his office overspent only when there were no alternatives.

There are a number of serious ethical and corruption issues surrounding the New Jersey governor and they have nothing to do with his weight.  The more I see serious news organizations like Reuters engage the ridiculous “debate” over Christie’s size, the greater disservice to what should be the actual debate is done.  Pretty soon we’re going to be at the point where people will only talk about his size and not his record or corruption issues, and people will tune out “another story about Christie’s waistline or whatever” even when the actual reasons as to why he shouldn’t be in charge of anything are finally discussed.

No, I don’t think Christie has anything close to a real shot at the White House because of his issues as a blue state governor in a blood-red primary season and his record is pretty repugnant, but honestly I find the constant stories about the “challenges” Christie faces because of his size about as ridiculous as the stories about the “challenges” women or minority candidates face in politics (not to belittle issues that do exist, but silly me, I believe a candidate should be judged on policy and record.)  What I mean by that is whatever actual issues that may arise from stories about Christie’s weight are used for their “HA HA shock factor,” not to actually have a debate.  It’s been done to death with Hillary Clinton’s gender and President Obama’s race, Keith Ellison, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman’s religion, etc.  It’s obnoxious:

Speculation that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will enter the U.S. presidential race has led to a feverish debate about the possibility of having the fattest man in the White House since the corpulent William Howard Taft squeezed behind the big desk in the Oval Office.

Replace that “fattest man in the White House” language with any other description of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, religion and you see what the problem is.  Why is this acceptable?  And this is Reuters, folks.  Why not just call him President Truffle Shuffle and be done with it, Reuters.  Criminy.

So yeah, lay off the size stuff and check the guy’s record.  Not only does this guy not deserve to be President, his crony capitalism adventures mean he shouldn’t be in politics at all.  The size issue is a smokescreen but it’s the latest shiny object to chase this week for our Awesome Media Guys.

A grifter is gonna grift

Earlier this week the Des Moines Register reported that Sarah PAC has sent out a fund raising letter to supporters asking them to “..send your best, one-time gift to … show her that we support her if she decides to run.” They even included a link to the letter.

I think the Quitta from Wasilla is earning a place in the Grifter Hall of Fame. Of course she will never seriously run, but she will do what she can to keep the grift alive. She may even jump into the GOP primary and threaten a Third Party run when she loses to Mittens. That will keep the grift going for at least another year. And after that there is that whole whiny victimy thingy to con the rubes.

This latest effort to keep the flim-flam going has been mocked by many (and treated seriously by a few). One of the best bits of mockery came from Gawker, especially the comments. This one, from ManchuCandidate, was worth sharing:

Hello important person

Many apologies that I had to send you this email without a prior
relationship between us; my name is Mr.Chase Tim, A member of
the supervisory board of SarahPAC and a Former member
Board of ING Bank Netherlands and also the former Chairman Board of
Post Bank Netherlands.

I bore in mind your personality and reputation of which the same apply
to me, on this light I then deemed it fit to assure you that the Funds
will be cleared in accordance with the firm’s operational procedures
to ensure the transaction success without a breach of the law.

One thing is certain, with the relevant legal documents that I will
get to back you up the funds release will be approved for onward
release to you.

If this is okay with you then get back to me so that I give you more details.

Let it be known to you that this 14,700,000.00 US America bucks will be split
equally that is 50% for you and 50% for me.

I will want you to get back to me as soon as possible if you are
willing to assist in getting these funds, or you can give me a call on
my Alaska line below which I acquired mainly for this purpose as I am
presently based in the US America.


Mr Chase Tin
Sarah PAC
Juneau, Alaska, US America

Funny thing is that the offer is not all that different than what every GOP candidate is offering their Galtian overloads–the only thing off is the split. It would never be 50/50. The typical split offered by Republican candidates is more like 90/10.

All of this isn’t a surprise. The modern Conservative movement is rooted in the “con”. The better you are as a liar, scam artist, bamboozeler and grifter–the higher you will rise and the more you’ll be paid. Palin is good at this game and I can’t think of any reason why she wouldn’t milk the rubes for all their worth and for as long as she can.

A grifter is gonna grift.

RINO Patrol

The almost-party-line vote in the Senate that killed off the stern resolution of disapproval for the $500 million billion increase in the debt ceiling is kind of interesting. I know that Scott Brown is running for his life and has to play Democrat when he thinks he can get away with it, but Bob Corker? What’s his angle voting against this nothingburger?

Also, too: there’s no more consistent blue dog than President Ben Nelson, the sole Democrat who voted for this turd.