“I figured that most Trump supporters probably never met a Muslim so I figured that I’d give them the opportunity to meet one,” she said [the woman ejected from the rally], wearing a shirt that read “Salam, I come in peace.” “I really don’t plan to say anything. I don’t want to be disrespectful but if he says something that I feel needs answering I might — we’ll just see what strikes me.”
For U.S. politicians, taking a solid stance on climate change is like the kiss of death. They avoid it like bad breath. However, a new study shows that more than half of the voters surveyed want to see their governmental representatives taking “unilateral action” to fight against climate change. A “unilateral” stance would be interesting for the U.S. government, seeing as how it consistently refuses to cooperate on this issue with the rest of the world.
Americans want a Government that functions.
Right now, Republicans seem to be doing everything they can to make it stop functioning.
Why are Republicans hurting America?
After watching FOX news for 1 hour, just 1 hour today, I’ve discovered that President Obama ( and it was hinted that he might not even be a ‘real’ citizen) and the Democrats are to blame for everything.
In fact, it has gotten so bad that Speaker of the House Republican John Boehner will be suing the President for issuing Executive Orders thus abusing his powers.
Interestingly enough, Speaker Boehner gave no specifics as to what powers the President was abusing……just that he was abusing them.
But Speaker Boehner was specific earlier in the day when he told the press that there would be no vote in the House on immigration reform this year.
And that’s when the President said he would act…
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This won’t be the first you’ve heard of this; nor likely to be the last…
Fifty years ago, average Americans lived in a society that had been growing — and had become — much more equal. In 1963, of every $100 in personal income, less than $10 went to the nation’s richest 1 percent.
Americans today live in a land much more unequal. The nation’s top 1 percent are taking just under 20 percent of America’s income, double the 1963 level.
But no Americans, in all the years since 1963, have ever voted for doubling the income share of America’s most affluent. No candidates, in all those years, have ever campaigned on a platform that called for enriching the already rich.
Yet the rich have been enriched. America’s top 0.01 percent reported incomes in 1963 that averaged $4.1 million in today’s dollars. In 2011, the most recent year with stats available, our top 0.01 percent averaged $23.7 million, nearly six times more than their counterparts in 1963, after taking inflation into account.
This colossal upward redistribution of income took years to unfold, and — for many of those years — most Americans didn’t even realize that some grand redistribution was even taking place.
Few Americans remain that clueless today. Most of us now have a fairly clear sense that American society has become fundamentally — and dangerously — more unequal. The starkly contrasting fortunes of America’s 1 and 99 percent have become a staple of America’s political discourse.
So why is this stark contrast continuing to get even starker?
Americans do, after all, live amid democratic institutions. Why haven’t the American people, through these institutions, been able to undo the public policies that squeeze the bottom 99 percent and lavishly reward the crew at the top?
Why, in other words, hasn’t democracy slowed rising inequality?
Four political scientists are taking a crack at answering exactly this question in the current issue of the American Economic Association’s Journal of Economic Perspectives, a special issue devoted to debating America’s vast gulf between the rich and everyone else.
The four analysts — Stanford’s Adam Bonica, Princeton’s Nolan McCarty, Keith Poole from the University of Georgia, and NYU’s Howard Rosenthal — lay out a nuanced reading of the American political scene that explores the interplay of a wide variety of factors, everything from the impact of the partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts to voter turnout by income level.
But one particular reality dramatically drives their analysis: Societies that let wealth concentrate at enormously intense levels will quite predictably end up with a wealthy who can concentrate enormous resources on getting their way.
These wealthy underwrite political campaigns. They spend fortunes on lobbying. They keep politicians and bureaucrats “friendly” to their interests with a “revolving door” that promises lucrative employment in the private sector.
Bonica, McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal do an especially engaging job exploring, with both data and anecdotal evidence, just how deeply America’s super rich have come to dominate the nation’s election process.
One example from their new paper: Back in 1980, no American gave out more in federal election political contributions than Cecil Haden, the owner of a tugboat company. Haden contributed all of $1.72 million, in today’s dollars, almost six times more than any other political contributor in 1980.
In the 2012 election cycle, by contrast, just one deep-pocket couple alone, gaming industry giant Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, together shelled out $103.4 million to bend politics in their favored wealth-concentrating direction.
The Adelsons sit comfortably within the richest 0.01 percent of America’s voting age population. Over 40 percent of the contributions to American political campaigns are now emanating from this super-rich elite strata.
In the 1980s, campaign contributions from the top 0.01 percent roughly equaled the campaign contributions from all of organized labor. In 2012, note political scientists Bonica, McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal in their new analysis, America’s top 0.01 percent all by themselves “outspent labor by more than a 4:1 margin.”
Donors in this top 0.01 percent, their analysis adds, “give pretty evenly to Democrats and Republicans” — and they get a pretty good return on their investment. Both “Democrats as well as Republicans,” the four analysts observe, have come to “rely on big donors.”
The results from this reliance? Back in the 1930s, Democrats in Congress put in place the financial industry regulations that helped create a more equal mid-20th century America. In our time, Democrats have helped undo these regulations.
In 1993, a large cohort of Democrats in Congress backed the legislation that ended restrictions on interstate banking. In 1999, Democrats helped pass the bill that let federally insured commercial banks make speculative investments.
The next year, a block of congressional Democrats blessed the measure that prevented the regulation of “derivatives,” the exotic new financial bets that would go on to wreak economic havoc in 2008.
We’ll never be able to fully “gauge the effect of the Democrats’ reliance on contributions from the wealthy,” acknowledge political scientists Bonica, McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal. But at the least, they continue, this reliance “does likely preclude a strong focus on redistributive policies” that would in any significant way discomfort the movers and shakers who top America’s moneyed class.
Conventional economists, the four analysts add, tend to ascribe rising inequality to broad trends like globalization and technological change — and ignore the political decisions that determine how these trends play out in real life.
New technologies, for instance, don’t automatically have to concentrate wealth — and these new technologies wouldn’t have that impact if intellectual property laws, a product of political give-and-take, better protected the public interest.
But too many lawmakers and other elected leaders can’t see that “public interest.” Cascades of cash — from America’s super rich — have them conveniently blinded.
Labor journalist Sam Pizzigati, an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow, writes widely about inequality. His latest book: The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class, 1900-1970.
What are “Conservative Values” in the 21st Century?
I became a Republican in 1978. At 18 I was attracted to the message of “out of the boardroom, out of the bedroom and out of my pockets.” Smaller government seemed to make perfect sense, why do we need so much government? Simple succinct and relevant. After all I was only 18 years old, naïve and certainly not worldly. I had no experience in business, life or love. That simple message seemed to resonate it made common sense to a selfish and self-centered teenager. I was about to embark on the rest of my life, I didn’t want to pay my hard-earned dollars on taxes; I certainly didn’t believe that the US Government should be in my bedroom at 18, I understood that literally; and it made sense to an 18-year-old that too much government intrusion in business was bad…what did I…
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Reblogged from Mother Jones
Obamacare is going to implant you with a microchip. Obamacare is going to tax your golf club. Obamacare is going to create a massive unprecedented federal database to hold all of your “intimate…secrets.”
One of the largest components of the Affordable Care Act—the health exchanges from which Americans can buy discount health coverage—will go into effect on October 1. And that has right-wingers in conspiracy theory high gear. Here are seven conspiracy theories about the health care law, along with debunkings from the fact-check websites PolitiFact and Snopes:
1. Obamacare Will Tax Your Outboard Motor
The Claim: A chain email making the rounds this summer claims that a “hidden” provision of Obamacare taxes sporting goods as medical devices, including “Sport fishing equipment; Fishing rods and fishing poles; Electric outboard motors; Fishing tackle boxes; Bows, quivers, broadheads and points; Arrow shafts; Coal; Taxable tires; Gas guzzler automobiles.” Yikes!
The Reality: Obamacare does impose a 2.3 percent tax on some medical devices to offset the added costs of expanding health coverage to the uninsured, which went into effect at the beginning of the year. But, as PolitiFact points out, none of the items listed in the chain email is labeled as a medical device by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, which defines the types of devices that can be taxed. No, Obamacare won’t be taxing your golf club after all.
2. Obamacare Will Kill Your GrandmaPaul Vasarhelyi/Shutterstock
The Claim: Another zombie chain email warns that Obamacare will deny old people cancer treatment: “Please for the sake of many good people, please… pass this on. We all need to be informed. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LIKE THIS… At age 76 when you most need it, you are not eligible for cancer treatment.”
The Reality: This particular email has been making the rounds for a good four years, according to Snopes, and is based on an old version of the law that didn’t pass. But even that version of the legislation did not ration cancer care; in fact, the American Nurses Association says the cancer treatment section of that law would implement “the opposite of rationing. The section allows Medicare to pay cancer hospitals more if they are incurring higher costs.” Similarly, there is no cut-off age for cancer treatment under the law that passed, known as Obamacare. “The claim is based on an inaccurate reading of a bill that went nowhere,” PolitiFactconcludes.
3. Obamacare Comes With MicrochipsMADDRAT/Shutterstock
The Claim: Beware, Obamacare is going to implant a microchip in you, cautions yet another chain email batting around the internet: “This new Health Care (Obamacare) law requires and RFID [radio frequency identification] chip implanted in all of us. This chip will not only contain your personal information with tracking capability but it will also be linked to your bank account.”
The Reality: As Snopes points out, “[C]laims that health care reform legislation will require such implantations date to the Clinton administration” and are “often linked to the ‘mark of the beast’ referenced in Revelations.” The sections of legislation referenced in the email and others like it pertain to a passage in a previous version of the health care law that called for the creation of a registry that would allow the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to collect data about medical devices “used in or on a patient”—such as pacemakers or hip replacements—in order to track their effectiveness. Nothing in the Affordable Care Act calls for the government to stick a microchip in your wrist.
4. Illegal Immigrants Are Eligible for ObamacareStephanie Zeiber/Shutterstock
The Claim: Illegal immigrants will get health coverage under Obamacare, warns one widely circulated, oft-debunked, and still undead chain email.
The Reality: The health care law requires Americans (Americans) to purchase health insurance. Undocumented immigrants “don’t have to follow the mandate because they shouldn’t be here,” PolitiFact reiterates. “They [also] remain ineligible for regular Medicaid coverage, just as they are ineligible for food stamps.”
5. Thomas Jefferson Warned Us About Obamacare
The Claim: Thomas Jefferson warned of the dangers of government interference in health care. Here is the purported quote from our founding father, via a chain email: “If the people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in a sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.”
The Reality: Jefferson did write something similar in a book published in 1785 called Notes on the State of Virginia: “Was the government to prescribe to us our medicine and diet,” he wrote, “our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now.” The latter quote was transformed into the former in the 1990s, Snopes explains, and has been trotted out repeatedly as a caution against government meddling in private medical practice. But that wasn’t Jefferson’s argument; he was suggesting that legislating morality was as useless as legislating what a person eats.
6. Almost Everyone Who Works for a Small Business Is Getting FiredEric Von Seggern/Shutterstock
The Claim: In late July, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), citing a study by the Chamber of Commerce, asserted that three-quarters of all small businesses have said they’re going to fire workers or cut hours. Rubio said this is due to the provision in the law that requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer affordable health coverage or face a penalty.
The Reality: The Chamber study involved 1,300 small business executives, but PolitiFact did some digging and found out that the Chamber did not actually survey the entire group on whether they’d fire employees because of the law. Only 17 percent of survey members said they would be impacted by the law’s so-called employer mandate. Out of that 17 percent of small businessmen and women, the study purportedly found that 75 percent of them said they would cut hours or replace workers, but Politico found that even that number was fudged by lumping survey questions together. Math shows that out of all small business execs in the study, only 5 to 9 percent actually said they would cut back hours or replace full-time workers in response to the health care law.
7. The Giant Obamacare DatabaseOleksiy Mark/Shutterstock
The Claim: In May, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) warned of a “huge national database” created by the health care law that will collect Americans’ “personal, intimate, most close-to-the-vest-secrets.” The claim has been widely discredited, but fringy conservative email chains continue to perpetuate the falsehood.
The Reality: The government is not constructing a database that collects, centralizes, and stores data. The health care law does create something called a Federal Data Hub which will allow HHS to extract data—such as whether a person already has health insurance—fromalready existing databases at other state and federal agencies. The hub will be used to verify consumer information when they are purchasing health insurance on the exchanges. The hub also has the ability to access income data and Social Security numbers, but that information already exists in other federal databases, “so the hub wouldn’t represent an expansion of federal data collection,” according to PolitiFact. Brian Cook, a spokesman for HHS, told the fact-checking organization that the hub will have “strict privacy controls to safeguard personal information.”