Grand Old Party

"Grand Old Party demonstrates that as a people united, our opinion has real volume. When we approve of a candidate, they swell with power. When we deem them unworthy, they are diminished and left hanging in the wind. We guard the gate! It opens and closes at our will. How wide is up to us."

so wonderful 

President Obama endorses gay marriage

I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.

BOSS

BOSS

Douglas Rushkoff (CNN) - Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it

Yes, there are a wide array of complaints, demands, and goals from the Wall Street protesters: the collapsing environment, labor standards, housing policy, government corruption, World Bank lending practices, unemployment, increasing wealth disparity and so on. Different people have been affected by different aspects of the same system — and they believe they are symptoms of the same core problem.
Are they ready to articulate exactly what that problem is and how to address it? No, not yet. But neither are Congress or the president who, in thrall to corporate America and Wall Street, respectively, have consistently failed to engage in anything resembling a conversation as cogent as the many I witnessed as I strolled by Occupy Wall Street’s many teach-ins this morning. There were young people teaching one another about, among other things, how the economy works, about the disconnection of investment banking from the economy of goods and services, the history of centralized interest-bearing currency, the creation and growth of the derivatives industry, and about the Obama administration deciding to settle with, rather than investigate and prosecute the investment banking industry for housing fraud.
Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. Whether we agree with them or not, we all know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher. What upsets banking’s defenders and politicians alike is the refusal of this movement to state its terms or set its goals in the traditional language of campaigns.
That’s because, unlike a political campaign designed to get some person in office and then close up shop (as in the election of Obama), this is not a movement with a traditional narrative arc. As the product of the decentralized networked-era culture, it is less about victory than sustainability. It is not about one-pointedness, but inclusion and groping toward consensus. It is not like a book; it is like the Internet.
Occupy Wall Street is meant more as a way of life that spreads through contagion, creates as many questions as it answers, aims to force a reconsideration of the way the nation does business and offers hope to those of us who previously felt alone in our belief that the current economic system is broken.


The members of Occupy Wall Street may be as unwieldy, paradoxical, and inconsistent as those of us living in the real world. But that is precisely why their new approach to protest is more applicable, sustainable and actionable than what passes for politics today. They are suggesting that the fiscal operating system on which we are attempting to run our economy is no longer appropriate to the task. They mean to show that there is an inappropriate and correctable disconnect between the abundance America produces and the scarcity its markets manufacture.
And in the process, they are pointing the way toward something entirely different than the zero-sum game of artificial scarcity favoring top-down investors and media makers alike.

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Douglas Rushkoff (CNN) - Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don’t get it

Yes, there are a wide array of complaints, demands, and goals from the Wall Street protesters: the collapsing environment, labor standards, housing policy, government corruption, World Bank lending practices, unemployment, increasing wealth disparity and so on. Different people have been affected by different aspects of the same system — and they believe they are symptoms of the same core problem.

Are they ready to articulate exactly what that problem is and how to address it? No, not yet. But neither are Congress or the president who, in thrall to corporate America and Wall Street, respectively, have consistently failed to engage in anything resembling a conversation as cogent as the many I witnessed as I strolled by Occupy Wall Street’s many teach-ins this morning. There were young people teaching one another about, among other things, how the economy works, about the disconnection of investment banking from the economy of goods and services, the history of centralized interest-bearing currency, the creation and growth of the derivatives industry, and about the Obama administration deciding to settle with, rather than investigate and prosecute the investment banking industry for housing fraud.

Anyone who says he has no idea what these folks are protesting is not being truthful. Whether we agree with them or not, we all know what they are upset about, and we all know that there are investment bankers working on Wall Street getting richer while things for most of the rest of us are getting tougher. What upsets banking’s defenders and politicians alike is the refusal of this movement to state its terms or set its goals in the traditional language of campaigns.

That’s because, unlike a political campaign designed to get some person in office and then close up shop (as in the election of Obama), this is not a movement with a traditional narrative arc. As the product of the decentralized networked-era culture, it is less about victory than sustainability. It is not about one-pointedness, but inclusion and groping toward consensus. It is not like a book; it is like the Internet.

Occupy Wall Street is meant more as a way of life that spreads through contagion, creates as many questions as it answers, aims to force a reconsideration of the way the nation does business and offers hope to those of us who previously felt alone in our belief that the current economic system is broken.

The members of Occupy Wall Street may be as unwieldy, paradoxical, and inconsistent as those of us living in the real world. But that is precisely why their new approach to protest is more applicable, sustainable and actionable than what passes for politics today. They are suggesting that the fiscal operating system on which we are attempting to run our economy is no longer appropriate to the task. They mean to show that there is an inappropriate and correctable disconnect between the abundance America produces and the scarcity its markets manufacture.

And in the process, they are pointing the way toward something entirely different than the zero-sum game of artificial scarcity favoring top-down investors and media makers alike.

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Saturday Night Live - S37E01

Shepard: Thursday’s debate, you said  you believed Americans should pay no taxes at all; how would that work?

Michele: Shep, I believe paying no taxes can help us return to the America I love. Not the America of Ronald Reagan, not the America of the founding fathers, but rather the America of thousands of years ago in which feral bands of mud people lived in their caves, never worrying that Barack Obama was gonna come and take their hard-earned pelts or infringe on their right to bear spears. That’s my America.

Shepard: And how do you rebound from you falling poll numbers?

Michele: Ah, Shepard, I am persistent, and when I want something I won’t take no for an answer. Take for instance, when I first met my husband. We were both at a party and I saw him across the room acting out all the parts from the musical Grease. Smitten, I asked him out for a hot water and lemon. He said, “Miss thing, here’s a quarter, buy yourself a clue.” But I wouldn’t give up. In closing: fences, Jesus, papilloma, eye balls.

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"The USA should invade the USA and win the hearts and minds of the population by building roads, bridges, and putting locals to work."

Paul Myers (via whiporwill)

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(Source: twitter.com, via maxhonore)

Adam Curtis - The Power of Nightmares

In six parts on Youtube, must watch. From the ending:

This story began over thirty years ago, as the dream that politics could create a better world began to fell apart. Out of that collapse came two groups: the Islamists, and the Neoconservatives. Looking back, we can now see that these groups were the last political idealists, who in an age of growing disillusion, tried to reassert the inspirational power of political visions that would give meaning to people’s lives. But both have failed in their attempts to transform the world, and instead, together, they have created today’s strange fantasy of fear, which politicians have seized on. Because in an age when all the grand ideas have lost credibility, fear of a phantom enemy is all the politicians have left to maintain their power.

In the society that believes in nothing, fear becomes the only agenda. Whilst the twentieth century was dominated between a conflict between a free market right and a socialist left, even though both of those outlooks had their limitations and their problems, at least they believed in something. Whereas what we are seeing now is a society that believes in nothing. And a society that believes in nothing is particularly frightened by people who believe in anything, and therefore we label those people as “fundamentalists” or “fanatics”, and they have much greater purchase in terms of the fear that they instil in society than they truly deserve. But that’s a measure of how much we have become isolated and atomized, rather than of their inherent strength.

But the fear will not last, and just as the dreams that politicians once promised turned out to be illusions, so too will the nightmares. And then, our politicians will have to face the fact that they have no visions, either good, or bad, to offer us any longer. 

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Dylan Ratigan - Obama Needs To Tell U.S. Your Congress Is Bought!

testify!

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The Economist - The debt ceiling deal; Nuts and bolts


ON SATURDAY July 30th, with a potential federal default just three days away, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, went before the press to declare, “We now have a level of seriousness with the right people at the table.” Approximately a day later, Republicans struck a deal with Democrats in Congress and President Barack Obama to raise the statutory ceiling on the federal debt and avoid a default that would have sent shockwaves through the global economy.
If it really took this long for the leaders to get serious, then it’s hard not to conclude that the preceding months of partisan rhetoric, competing proposals and brinkmanship were an elaborate kabuki to appease the parties’ respective bases, that would then give way to sensible bargaining. Indeed, the final deal looks remarkably similar to what knowledgeable insiders had long ago predicted would emerge. There was no grand bargain combining cuts to entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security with revenue-raising tax reform as America so desperately needs (though there were also no draconian and immediate cuts to spending as many tea-party warriors wanted).
Rather, the result is a mishmash of expedient stop gaps and promises that tilts heavily to Republican priorities while guaranteeing more wrangling and uncertainty in the months ahead. It does nothing to support the near-term economic outlook, and makes less progress on long-term fiscal consolidation than hoped.




If Republicans are the clear winner from this deal, the economy is the loser. An ideal deficit-reduction package would have coupled near-term stimulus with long-term consolidation that stabilised then reduced the debt as a share of GDP. This deal certainly doesn’t do the first and it’s unclear that it will do the second. True, it does not add significant new fiscal tightening: total discretionary spending would be a mere $7 billion lower in fiscal 2012 and $3 billion in fiscal 2013 than current levels, according to a Democratic Senate fact sheet. On the other hand fiscal policy is already set to tighten automatically; the International Monetary Fund estimates by the equivalent of 1.4% of GDP. Mr Obama had hoped to extend the payroll tax cut as part of the deal. He may yet do so during the Congressional negotiations, but that seems a fading prospect. It is striking that last Friday’s appallingly weak GDP data did nothing to shape the deal any further in the direction of near-term stimulus.
As for long-term fiscal consolidation, the deal also falls short. Total deficit reduction of $2.5 trillion is less than the $4 trillion that bipartisan groups and political leaders had more or less agreed was necessary to put the debt on a meaningful downward path relative to GDP. It’s also the number Standard & Poor’s, a credit rating agency, had suggested was necessary for America to avoid a downgrade to its AAA credit rating. And it’s worth noting that now that GDP has been revised to be smaller than we’d realised,  debt is larger as a share of GDP.
In the end, hopes for a grand bargain that addressed entitlements, taxes and near-term economic support ran aground on the harsh reality that all these things would require bridging profound philosophical differences that have developed over decades. The odds that the next few months will yield a different outcome seem low: further brinkmanship (albeit of a less terrifying sort than seen in the past weeks) is more likely. That has become the routine way that fiscal policy gets made in America. True, stock markets rallied with relief that the most reckless path has been avoided. Meeting such a low standard should hardly be considered a vote of confidence in America’s fundamental fiscal and political maturity.


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The Economist - The debt ceiling deal; Nuts and bolts

ON SATURDAY July 30th, with a potential federal default just three days away, Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, went before the press to declare, “We now have a level of seriousness with the right people at the table.” Approximately a day later, Republicans struck a deal with Democrats in Congress and President Barack Obama to raise the statutory ceiling on the federal debt and avoid a default that would have sent shockwaves through the global economy.

If it really took this long for the leaders to get serious, then it’s hard not to conclude that the preceding months of partisan rhetoric, competing proposals and brinkmanship were an elaborate kabuki to appease the parties’ respective bases, that would then give way to sensible bargaining. Indeed, the final deal looks remarkably similar to what knowledgeable insiders had long ago predicted would emerge. There was no grand bargain combining cuts to entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security with revenue-raising tax reform as America so desperately needs (though there were also no draconian and immediate cuts to spending as many tea-party warriors wanted).

Rather, the result is a mishmash of expedient stop gaps and promises that tilts heavily to Republican priorities while guaranteeing more wrangling and uncertainty in the months ahead. It does nothing to support the near-term economic outlook, and makes less progress on long-term fiscal consolidation than hoped.

If Republicans are the clear winner from this deal, the economy is the loser. An ideal deficit-reduction package would have coupled near-term stimulus with long-term consolidation that stabilised then reduced the debt as a share of GDP. This deal certainly doesn’t do the first and it’s unclear that it will do the second. True, it does not add significant new fiscal tightening: total discretionary spending would be a mere $7 billion lower in fiscal 2012 and $3 billion in fiscal 2013 than current levels, according to a Democratic Senate fact sheet. On the other hand fiscal policy is already set to tighten automatically; the International Monetary Fund estimates by the equivalent of 1.4% of GDP. Mr Obama had hoped to extend the payroll tax cut as part of the deal. He may yet do so during the Congressional negotiations, but that seems a fading prospect. It is striking that last Friday’s appallingly weak GDP data did nothing to shape the deal any further in the direction of near-term stimulus.

As for long-term fiscal consolidation, the deal also falls short. Total deficit reduction of $2.5 trillion is less than the $4 trillion that bipartisan groups and political leaders had more or less agreed was necessary to put the debt on a meaningful downward path relative to GDP. It’s also the number Standard & Poor’s, a credit rating agency, had suggested was necessary for America to avoid a downgrade to its AAA credit rating. And it’s worth noting that now that GDP has been revised to be smaller than we’d realised,  debt is larger as a share of GDP.

In the end, hopes for a grand bargain that addressed entitlements, taxes and near-term economic support ran aground on the harsh reality that all these things would require bridging profound philosophical differences that have developed over decades. The odds that the next few months will yield a different outcome seem low: further brinkmanship (albeit of a less terrifying sort than seen in the past weeks) is more likely. That has become the routine way that fiscal policy gets made in America. True, stock markets rallied with relief that the most reckless path has been avoided. Meeting such a low standard should hardly be considered a vote of confidence in America’s fundamental fiscal and political maturity.

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BUTT - HOLCOMBE WALLER SINGER-SONGWRITER FROM PORTLAND IS FED UP WITH BEING HAPPY
Do you know Sufjan Stevens? I think he has an intriguing mix of performing and singing and doing dress changes. His shows are wildly entertaining. He’s got good songs, a great voice and he’s amazingly cute too.I haven’t seen him play. What I’m saying is, I’m totally inspired to push the boundaries of what I’m doing. But you know, frankly, most of my inclinations in that direction are totally activist-oriented. They’re completely about political performance and politically oriented music and performance. I’m kind of obsessed with what’s going on politically in this country and in the world. Like, last fall my friend put on sort of a drag show, and one of the acts was me dressed up as a Saudi princess in full burka, and he was dressed up like Laura Bush, and together we sang It’s Raining Men by the Weather Girls, with this video montage of the Twin Towers exploding behind us and body parts flying onto the stage.How graphic……and important! The whole 9-11 thing in this country has everyone trapped in this post-traumatic stress syndrome. If you just show a picture of the Twin Towers in a room full of noisy people everyone will literally fall to a silent hush — it’s freaky. Everyone needs to get over it and get on, ’cause the bullshit that the government has been enacting in the name of 9-11 is just egregious and destructive. I’m so fucking sick of this fucking thing of everybody being scared. That bullshit is taking over my approach to music. I’m really tired of going to clubs and seeing people singing these fucking songs and this whole theme of feeling good. I’m just tired of sentimental music and a lot of stuff. Like, I know that Sufjan is really fabulous, but I’m really tired of hipster fascists. Fuck the hipster fascists! The shit that’s going on in the world is real, and important, and integral to our lives and our future. And it’s not like it’s uncool to admit that. I think it’s fucking really cool to be a revolutionary and an activist, and it’s really dull to have some sort of an a-symmetrical haircut and be obsessed about what type of jeans you’re wearing. 
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BUTT - HOLCOMBE WALLER SINGER-SONGWRITER FROM PORTLAND IS FED UP WITH BEING HAPPY

Do you know Sufjan Stevens? I think he has an intriguing mix of performing and singing and doing dress changes. His shows are wildly entertaining. He’s got good songs, a great voice and he’s amazingly cute too.

I haven’t seen him play. What I’m saying is, I’m totally inspired to push the boundaries of what I’m doing. But you know, frankly, most of my inclinations in that direction are totally activist-oriented. They’re completely about political performance and politically oriented music and performance. I’m kind of obsessed with what’s going on politically in this country and in the world. Like, last fall my friend put on sort of a drag show, and one of the acts was me dressed up as a Saudi princess in full burka, and he was dressed up like Laura Bush, and together we sang It’s Raining Men by the Weather Girls, with this video montage of the Twin Towers exploding behind us and body parts flying onto the stage.

How graphic…

…and important! The whole 9-11 thing in this country has everyone trapped in this post-traumatic stress syndrome. If you just show a picture of the Twin Towers in a room full of noisy people everyone will literally fall to a silent hush — it’s freaky. Everyone needs to get over it and get on, ’cause the bullshit that the government has been enacting in the name of 9-11 is just egregious and destructive. I’m so fucking sick of this fucking thing of everybody being scared. That bullshit is taking over my approach to music. I’m really tired of going to clubs and seeing people singing these fucking songs and this whole theme of feeling good. I’m just tired of sentimental music and a lot of stuff. Like, I know that Sufjan is really fabulous, but I’m really tired of hipster fascists. Fuck the hipster fascists! The shit that’s going on in the world is real, and important, and integral to our lives and our future. And it’s not like it’s uncool to admit that. I think it’s fucking really cool to be a revolutionary and an activist, and it’s really dull to have some sort of an a-symmetrical haircut and be obsessed about what type of jeans you’re wearing. 

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WTFnoway.com - A visualization of the United States debt

$15,000,000,000,000 [in $100 bills] - Unless the U.S. government fixes the budget, US national debt (credit card bill) will topple 15 trillion by Christmas 2011. Statue of Liberty seems rather worried as United States national debt passes 20% of the entire world’s combined GDP (Gross Domestic Product).In 2011 the National Debt will exceed 100% of GDP, and venture into the 100%+ debt-to-GDP ratio that the European PIIGS have (bankrupting nations).

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WTFnoway.com - A visualization of the United States debt

$15,000,000,000,000 [in $100 bills] - Unless the U.S. government fixes the budget, US national debt (credit card bill) will topple 15 trillion by Christmas 2011. 

Statue of Liberty seems rather worried as United States national debt passes 20% of the entire world’s combined GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
In 2011 the National Debt will exceed 100% of GDP, and venture into the 100%+ debt-to-GDP ratio that the European PIIGS have (bankrupting nations).

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Huffington Post - Democratic Senator Calls Big Oil Execs Selfish, Unfeeling — And Unbeatable

 
WASHINGTON — The unapologetic — indeed combative — testimony on Thursday by top oil executives summoned to defend multi-billion tax subsidies for their industry infuriated some Senate Democrats, one of whom accused the executives of being “profoundly out of touch” with average Americans.
The heads of the Big Five oil companies, currently enjoying a windfall from high oil prices, soundly rejected a Democratic request that they renounce $2 billion in tax breaks, declaring instead that they were entitled to every penny.


It was all too much for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).
"I get the feeling that it’s almost like you’re — like the five of you are like Saudi Arabia. That you’re caught up in your profits, you’re highly defensive, you yield on nothing," he said. "I think you’re out of touch. Deeply, profoundly out of touch. And deeply and profoundly committed to sharing nothing."
"The nature of your life, the nature of your international travel, the nature of the size of your profits — I don’t think you have any idea what the size of your profits does to the American people’s willingness to accept what you have to say," Rockefeller said.
Rockefeller, a five-term senator whose great grandfather built the giant Standard Oil monopoly, also called attention to the oil industry’s unparalleled clout on Capitol Hill.
"I think the main reason that you’re out of touch, particularly with respect to Americans, and the sacrifices that we’re having to look at here in terms of try to balance — trying to come close to balancing the budget — is that you never lose," Rockefeller said to the executives. "You’ve never lost. You always prevail. You always prevail in the halls of Congress, and you do that for a whole variety of reasons, because of your lobbyists, because of your friends, because of all the places where you do business. And I don’t really know any other business that never loses," he said.
"I’ve just never seen any industry so successful, so constantly successful. I think you all have a great sense of assurance as you are sitting there. … I don’t think you feel threatened by anything that’s going on here, and I don’t know necessarily that you have any reason to feel threatened, because of the way votes line up in this present Congress.
"I haven’t heard anybody say what they would be willing to do to share in our budget problem and in the total concept of what keeps America together, and that is essentially fairness. That everybody has to lose at some time. That everybody has to give something up for us to be a real country."

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Huffington Post - Democratic Senator Calls Big Oil Execs Selfish, Unfeeling — And Unbeatable

WASHINGTON — The unapologetic — indeed combative — testimony on Thursday by top oil executives summoned to defend multi-billion tax subsidies for their industry infuriated some Senate Democrats, one of whom accused the executives of being “profoundly out of touch” with average Americans.

The heads of the Big Five oil companies, currently enjoying a windfall from high oil prices, soundly rejected a Democratic request that they renounce $2 billion in tax breaks, declaring instead that they were entitled to every penny.

It was all too much for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

"I get the feeling that it’s almost like you’re — like the five of you are like Saudi Arabia. That you’re caught up in your profits, you’re highly defensive, you yield on nothing," he said. "I think you’re out of touch. Deeply, profoundly out of touch. And deeply and profoundly committed to sharing nothing."

"The nature of your life, the nature of your international travel, the nature of the size of your profits — I don’t think you have any idea what the size of your profits does to the American people’s willingness to accept what you have to say," Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller, a five-term senator whose great grandfather built the giant Standard Oil monopoly, also called attention to the oil industry’s unparalleled clout on Capitol Hill.

"I think the main reason that you’re out of touch, particularly with respect to Americans, and the sacrifices that we’re having to look at here in terms of try to balance — trying to come close to balancing the budget — is that you never lose," Rockefeller said to the executives. "You’ve never lost. You always prevail. You always prevail in the halls of Congress, and you do that for a whole variety of reasons, because of your lobbyists, because of your friends, because of all the places where you do business. And I don’t really know any other business that never loses," he said.

"I’ve just never seen any industry so successful, so constantly successful. I think you all have a great sense of assurance as you are sitting there. … I don’t think you feel threatened by anything that’s going on here, and I don’t know necessarily that you have any reason to feel threatened, because of the way votes line up in this present Congress.

"I haven’t heard anybody say what they would be willing to do to share in our budget problem and in the total concept of what keeps America together, and that is essentially fairness. That everybody has to lose at some time. That everybody has to give something up for us to be a real country."

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The Rachel Maddow Show - Palin Putin-esque

Sarah’s such a fuckin’ stud, big brass balls a-swingin’ as she conquers both flaura and fauna and generally just skull-fucks all of nature

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