DISCLAIMER: I do not attempt to be polite or partisan in my articles, merely truthful. If you are a partisan and believe that the letter after the name of a politician is more important then their policies, I suggest that you stop reading and leave this site immediately--there is nothing here for you.

Modern American politics are corrupt, hyper-partisan, and gridlocked, yet the mainstream media has failed to cover this as anything but politics as usual. This blog allows me to post my views, analysis and criticisms which are too confrontational for posting in mainstream outlets.

I am your host, Josh Sager--a progressive activist, political writer and occupier--and I welcome you to SarcasticLiberal.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Republican Policy End State Counterfactual

By Joshua Sager

When we are all arguing policy with one another we sometimes fail to step back and look at the possible end states of our policies as an ideology. Basically, if you could get everything that your party wants, what would your country look like in the end?

In this article, I extrapolate the stated policies of the current GOP in order to come up with a view of what a Republican controlled country would look like in the absence of an opposition party.

The Republican World

Economic status: privatized social programs, profit based justice, and corporate power over personal power.
The economy in a Republican America is based entirely upon the profit motive. Companies compete in the totally free market and regulations have long been repealed. Due to the inherent flaws in the free market ideology when mixed with the democratic political system, the large corporations dominate over the smaller ones through undercutting prices and manipulating the awarding of contracts. The pro-corporate politicians remain in power over the less corporately owned ones because of sheer volume of money and advertising, thus in this end state the corporate interests control the political processes. The cycle of corporations buying political support and awarding office leads to the entirely "Pro-Business" regulatory climate. Regulations on labor, pollution and product safety have been completely repealed, leading to massive profits for the corporations and those who have money, while the other 90% are little better than serfs. With the destruction of labor regulations and unionization there are few protections for the worker, thus hours are longer and less money is given to the blue collar family. Worker safety decreases at the same time legal liability for the companies does, leading to little recourse for the worker when they are harmed on the job. Pollution is rampant due to a lack of regulations on anything from CO2 to oil spill cleanup but don't worry, the corporations and "job creators" won't lose money.

Infrastructure status: Completely privatized
The infrastructure of the USA in a Republican end state is completely privatized, from education to public safety. The public school systems have either been destroyed or eviscerated in favor of private schools, which unfortunately cost more money and don't get any better results. Teachers unions are gone and thus teachers get far less money for their hard work. A decrease in the draw for competent teachers has reduced the quality of education to the point where we simply no longer can compete in the world in terms of innovation. A very small upside to this situation is that the rich children's private schools are still superior and thus a privileged overclass is born (normally I don't agree with Marxism but this is one thing that they predicted accurately). Police and fire protection have been privatized to the point where more affluent areas get superior coverage but the rest of us suffer from a terminal lack of protection. Look at the situation where a privatized fire department let a house burn down over a $75 missed fee, despite having their equipment on site and you will see the future as the Republicans see it. The only public good which is not privatized is the military because we all know that you have to pay private military contractors far better than simple soldiers; it would be a shame if the warmongers needed to pay even larger exorbitant amounts during their perpetual wars.

Social-political status:
In the Republican world, all social policy and rights are founded in the writings of two documents: the Constitution (or somebody's warped interpretation) and the Bible. As the Republicans in power believe that the social safety net is unconstitutional, it no longer exists in this world. Social security has either been eliminated or privatized in a way that transforms it into a voucher program. The poor and disabled live in far inferior conditions to what they do now and people are forced to work longer and harder. Medicare and Medicaid have been completely disbanded because come on, what an infringement it would be if everybody were forced to have medical insurance coverage (no shit, this is their argument). As we saw before the start of social medical programs, many more people will get sick and die prematurely than do now. Rights in the Republican America are simplified into two categories: The second amendment and whatever it says in the bible. Gun rights are absolute and so are the rights of free speech, just as long as your views are in line with the conservative views. Other than part of the first amendment and an expansion of the second amendment, the constitution is only given lip service. Due to the bible's control over the social policy of the Republican America, abortion and gay rights have been completely abolished. Not to say that abortions would not occur and gay people wouldn't exist, but they will be criminalized (like in Texas during the 20s) under the law. If you are Christian, white and upper class this world would be a very comfortable place to live but otherwise I would wish you luck.

System sustainability: Strong
The Republican end state would actually be a very stable political system; the terms conservative and grand OLD party are certainly accurate descriptors of the Republican mindset. As shown in the Republican primary, those who are ideologically impure are quickly expunged from the political scene. The Republican political establishment would reject any call to change and the massive concentration of money in the top echelons of society would make us resemble a feudal society; one lord with hundreds of indentured serfs. Without power to resist, the Republican America would be very difficult to return to a more balanced system.

Post Citizens United Politics in Poster form

The terrifying thing is that as money now counts as speech, this poster is not hyperbolic

Support the Occupy movement @ Occupytogether.org and protect our democracy

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Update

For anybody who does not know about the occupy wall street movement, this is the link to the central organizational site:  https://occupywallst.org/.

To recap: During the past ten days there has been a medium sized protest (hundreds to several thousands of people) on Wall Street, NY for the purpose of protesting corporate greed, inequity and the buying of our political system. Unlike many protest movements, this protest is decentralized and people attend for numerous reasons, but the unifying principle is the war on Main Street by Wall Street. Recently several affiliated protests have sprung up in other cities (Namely Chicago, San Francisco and Boston), despite the geographic distance from Wall street. As I mentioned in my previous article, the mass media has almost completely ignored the occupation of Wall Street, despite the size of the protests and the fact that several influential speakers have shown their support for the movement. I would like to make two things very clear:

  1. Occupy Wall Street is a completely grassroots protest that focuses on the economy, not partisanship and social issues. There are no corporate sponsors, and the organizers are mostly liberal activists, and the hacker group Anonymous. 
  2. These protests are entirely peaceful and not a call to riot by extremists.
As I wrote previously, there has been a near complete press blackout of the Wall Street occupation by the mainstream media. Liberal talkers and news sources have covered the story, but the truly worrying thing is that the "Neutral" media is revealing a startling bias. I am not sure whether the bias is aimed at those who are liberal or those who would protest corporations (Media corporations are still corporations after all), but the result has been that the "news" outlets have completely ignored an obvious and vital news story. Ignorance of the protests is impossible, I mean, hundreds of people swarming wall street isn't exactly subtle nor are the reporters busy with more important tasks. Recent, unfortunate, events have actually led to an increase in the media coverage of the protest (from nothing to a single indirect mention on the front page, yay).

Throughout this entire protest, the police have attended to prevent the obstruction of traffic by the protestor and to make certain that the protest stays peaceful; a perfectly reasonable and valid way to deploy police for the public good. Isolated police officers have been causing trouble by either arresting protesters without cause or in extreme cases, assaulting them.
Not even the lawful use of protest areas will prevent this intrepid police officer from doing his duty of harassing the "public nuisances" 
The worst violation of the protester' rights that has been reported occurred just this last Saturday. As was caught on tape by on of the protesters, several young women were corralled by the police and then pepper sprayed in the face by one of the officers without any cause. Due to the lack of context in the video, we cannot say whether the women were causing enough of a disturbance to be roped off (I don't believe so judging by the tape, but I am biased), but there is no possible excuse for the use of pepper spray on peaceful protesters when they pose no threat. The actions of the officer in the white shirt are repulsive and deserve to be met with the full force of the law. Unfortunately for the officer in question, cameras are everywhere now and not only are his actions on tape but he has been identified as Anthony Bologna. Anonymous is both very motivated and notoriously vindictive, so good luck to him, he may need it.

I hope that these protests grow and eventually achieve actual change in how we do things in this country. I would like to encourage everybody who reads this to get involved and try to change this country for the better. There is no partisanship in this movement, rather a unified belief that despite your political leanings, you deserve to live in a country which is not bought by the corporations and that your voice counts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What the Republican Debates Reveal

Throughout the past several months there have been several Republican primary debate which have served to illuminate two very important issues in national politics:

  1. The candidates that are popular in the Republican party today are completely disconnected from the facts of the issues, relying entirely upon rhetoric and dis-proven arguments. The old joke that "reality/facts have a liberal bias" has come into terrifying reality where an entire half of our political structure lives in an ideological echo chamber. Ideology is taken as fact without any supporting arguments and then spoon-fed to the ignorant masses with a massive side order of isolationist hate.
  2. The Republican electorate has become radicalized. In every recent debate, the Republican crowd has either cheered, yelled or booed at a time which is very telling to their worldviews. The Republican debate crowd has cheered the excessive death penalties of Texas and the idea that the sick should be left to die; correspondingly the crowd has booed a soldier serving our military who wants equality and the very idea of healthcare for all. 
The Republicans are no longer the pro-life, patriotic party that they have always claimed to be, but are the anti-woman, anti-government party that they have always pretended not to be. The rationalizations are slipping and the Republicans are revealed to be the bigoted, unstable, and selfish people that the progressives have always feared them to be.

A perfect argument for taxation and government

Elisabeth Warren is a candidate running in the MA senatorial election of 2012. As featured on the Rachel Maddow show, Warren is a very strong advocate for fair taxation and pro-middle-class legislation. In recent years the Republican party has fallen of the right wing deep end in their rhetorical hatred of taxes and government, leading them to adopt an isolationist world view. The Republicans have attacked all social policy under the banner that they are "self sufficient" and don't need government to do anything, while ignoring the "invisible" things that the government takes care of so we don't have to. In the below clip, Warren gives probably the best articulated refutation of this assertion I have seen recently:

Politics V. Policy

In recent years the political climate has been more akin to a spectator sport than a legitimate method of instituting good policy. People are more interested in sound bites and political propaganda than the actual policy which is going to be passed and the media has been going right along. Tabloid politics such as the Weiner scandal and the antics of the Palins sells better than less interesting things; things like pointing out that the rich are robbing us blind and then using our own money to buy our politicians.

Lets face it, watching dumb people make fools of themselves is good TV (See: reality/game shows, sitcoms, etc), but focusing all political media on the next ignorant thing to pop out of the mouth of  Bachmann/Palin/Perry/<enter right wing tea partier> to the exclusion of actual news will be the death sentence of our democracy. Politics is not a reality show, and at some point we will need to actually discuss policy, rather that the antics of the political personalities.

In political science there are two major components to the creation and implementation of public policy: Politics and Policy. The policy component is the substantive policy decisions that are eventually made into a bill. Policy has no partisan gamesmanship, only competing ideas as to what the most effective ways to bring about the best results are. The political component of public policy is the political games that must be played in order to garner support, negotiate, and deal in order to get a policy agenda passed. In many ways the politics of the legislature is disconnected from the actual policy outcomes because it doesn't matter how good the policy actually is just as long as it can be passed.

Theoretically, good policy should be accompanied by good politics and the best ideas will win out, but in reality this system works just about as well as an unregulated free market. The right wing of the country has truly awful policy, ranging from the unconstitutional (abortion/anti-immigration legislation), to the purely fantastical (trickle down economics/war on science), but they are amazing at politics. To give credit where credit is due, the Republicans have not only dominated the political agenda but convinced large numbers of ignorant people to vote entirely against their interests even in the face of evidence. The Democrats propose policy that would be beneficial to most of the country, whether by reducing pollution or strengthening the social safety net, but they (Obama most of all) are unable to advocate their policy to the people. In a world dominated by the fact-free soundbite the Republicans have completely shut out the Democrats and then used the worsening conditions to improve their own political prospects.

Republican politics has overshadowed policy to the point where the president's job proposal (which is reasonable by any standard) is being blocked by the house at the same time that they are threatening another government shutdown over giving aid to disaster victims. The Republicans are blocking simply everything in order to hurt the country and defeat Obama. Due to the Republican ability to sell even the most insane and self-destructive policy to the average voter (read: political lemming), they can completely ignore policy and focus entirely on getting elected. To be fair, the Republican viewpoint is and always has been that of inaction. Reducing what the government does for its people, reducing regulations, and cutting taxes are all Republican policies that stress the government not actually working; in this way the Republican focus on politics over policy makes sense because if you don't believe in government actually doing anything, then it is a lot easier to be a politician than if you actually had to make working programs.

The Democrats have a lot going for them: economics, science, and facts are three examples of things that support Democratic policy far more than Republican policy. Unfortunately, the Democrats are handicapped by the fact that they actually care about improving the government and the lives of the "little people" (Read: us 99%), and the fact that the Democrats are abysmal at selling their policy. Think about the Obamacare fight just two years ago: The Democrats couldn't sell the idea of giving access to health insurance to everybody at lower prices (Public option), nor could they make their opponents look bad for opposing outlawing the pre-existing condition clauses in health care. Some Democrats can fight politically (Frank, Weiner, Warren, Sanders, etc.) but a great majority of Democrats are completely unable to advocate for their positions on the same level as the Republicans.

In a Democracy the job of politicians is to advocate for their constituents and if they do a good job they often get reelected. We are in a system where the politicians sell out their constituents to the interests and the rich in order to get re-elected.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Must Watch Progressive Video

Olbermann makes what is probably the best articulated analysis of both the current political climate and the Republican party in this special comment.

I have simply nothing to add to this analysis; Olbermann hits the nail on the head yet again.

Weekly Issue #9 - 9/24/11 - The Media Bias over the Wall Street Occupation

Anybody who wants to support PEACEFUL civil demonstration can go to this website or if you are in NY, Wall Street itself:

Starting last weekend a group of protesters, numbering between 200 and at some times over 2000, has taken up non-violent protest on wall street. The protest is focused upon the corruption of corporate lobbying, the expanding wealth gap, and the bailouts of wall street even after they blew up the economy. Unlike many protests (read: tea party) the attendees are not homogeneous, spanning all ages and races, but there is a progressive slant to their views; perhaps this explains several of the unusual events surrounding this protest's coverage in the news.

A large number of protesters has essentially run a sit in on wall street for the last week, but where is the media? Twenty tea partiers show up at the white house and not only Fox news (read: faux news) but every other major media outlet covers it. Where has the media coverage of this protest been, and what possible reason could there be for the media  to blackout this event. I for one follow numerous news sources, both liberal leaning and neutral, but the "neutral" media has near totally ignored this event. I don't care what they are  protesting, hundreds of people in a sit in is news, even when you discount the disturbances at the rally by the police.

The right wing always talk about the "liberal media", but as this situation demonstrates, the media is corporatized and thus not liberal. The mainstream media has become focused upon profit rather than truth, thus the story which gets the most ratings runs even if it is irrelevant. Put plainly, right wing agitation over insane and incorrect issues is more interesting than a bunch of liberals protesting wall street. In addition to the profit motive overshadowing good reporting, the media is now biased for the rights of corporations. 

Media sources which are corporate are effected by policy just like any other corporate interest. If wall street protests effect corporations, then media empires have a vested interest in suppressing the protests (or at least minimizing them). The other side of this issue is that right wing protests are covered more because they often support the rights of the corporations to do whatever they want.

Unlike the right wing tea parties and corporate funded protests, the occupation of wall street is a true populist movement without any interest string attached. If the mass media refuses to cover this event then the people must.


A scary sign of the crumbling wall between church and state


Just as a general idea, I support the idea of alternative sentencing in order to keep people out of jail for minor offenses. Jail should only be for severe of violent crimes, not drug crimes or other non-violent offenses. By investing in training, community service and rehabilitation programs we can not only punish crime, but prevent it in the future better than by simply warehousing people in jail. Unfortunately, in this case the program is both unconstitutional and representative of the larger assault on secular government by the religious right.

This "alternati­ve sentencing­" policy is simultaneously a violation of the separation of church and state, and the equal protection clause of the constitution. By establishi­ng a state sponsorshi­p for a single religion, the courts are violating the very founding principles of the USA. In addition to fusing politics and religion, the new program elevates Christiani­ty above all other religions.

As with many religious arguments in politics I would suggest people to use my "Islam Substitution" rule. When a Christian politician suggests religious rational for their policy, simply substitute their christian argument with the correspond­ing Islam argument (EX. The bible prohibits gay marriage becomes the Quran and sharia prohibit gay marriage.)­. People will often overlook the fact that by imposing their religion on others, they are violating the rights of others that they would not tolerate being violated in themselves­. Imagine what would be said if a group of judges substitute­d church attendance in this policy for mosque attendance­; the right wing would have a collective seizure and scream sharia.

This policy is a disturbing shift towards the christian theocracy that the right wing seem to have been pushing towards in the past decade. Everybody who does not want to live in a theocracy, regardless of their own personal faith, should push back at this infringeme­nt on the freedom of religion.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Troy Davis Execution

Unlike many liberals I actually support the death penalty, but the case of Troy Davis is the perfect embodiment of just why the death penalty is protested. In my opinion, the death penalty is only a valid option when three conditions are met: 1) The guilt of the criminal is certain both in the courts and by all available evidence (including non-admissible evidence) 2) The crimes committed are severe enough to warrant a death sentence (child/cop murder, mass murder, etc.) and there are no extenuating circumstances (mental retardation or youth of the criminal) 3) The death penalty isn't racially or economic class dependent. While I have no problem with the existence of a death penalty for our worst criminals, the Troy Davis case was truly a miscarriage of justice and a national (possibly international) disgrace.

Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to death two decades ago; due to the lack of substantial physical evidence his conviction was primarily based upon witness testimony, which in recent years has been called into question. Not only have most of the witnesses recanted their testimony, but one of the two witnesses who have not recanted has been implicated as the killer. In addition to the witness identification problems, there have been allegations of police malfeasance in the witness statement process.

Where 7 out of 9 witnesses recant their testimony there is most certainly doubt that that the death penalty is appropriate, even with the presence of physical evidence. In a case where the basis of conviction was evidently flawed witness testimony, and the result of conviction was the death penalty, there should been an immediate review of the situation. Not only did the witnesses recant, but they also describe coaching by the police to get a consistent story coupled by threats of charges if they didn't cooperate. Whether you believe that Davis was guilty or not, nobody can say that they know he was guilty WITHOUT A REASONABLE DOUBT, thus the application of the death penalty was wholly inappropriate.

Even in the face of all of the evidentiary inconsistencies and possible unethical actions of the police, every relevant judicial or executive authority refused to put a permanent stay on the execution, thus Troy Davis was executed yesterday night at 11:00 PM.

In recent years, the Davis case has brought massive amount of public attention and protest from influential figures including politicians, law enforcement officials and even the pope. Even those who support the death penalty look at this case and don't understand what went wrong; where in the face of a mountain of doubt, we executed a man who probably was innocent. What makes this situation so much worse is that those who could have stopped this miscarriage of justice knew about the doubt, could have commuted Davis's sentence to life at no cost to the community welfare or safety and didn't act to save a possible innocent man.

I don't know why Troy Davis wasn't spared, but I fear that it has something to do with the cheering crowds at the Republican debate when Perry was confronted with Texas's death penalty record. Some portion of the population seem to enjoy killing, whether in war or in prison, and they unfortunately miss the point of executions as justice rather than sport.

What happened yesterday night was not justice, it was state sanctioned murder.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The 2011 Electoral Fixing

One thing that every US politician can agree on, regardless of party, is that the constitutionally enshrined right to vote is at the base of our democracy. Every few years, the people get together and vote for who they want to represent their interests. It is unthinkable that upon election, a group of politicians would attempt to remove this vital right from portions of their population simply for partisan gain right? Enter the new Kamikaze styled Republican/Tea party, who care little for policy just as long as they don't raise taxes and are elected again. When the Republican majority was elected during the 2010 midterm election the issue that they ran on was jobs and the reason that they won was that the opposition's base was thoroughly apathetic. Little did everybody know at the time, that the new majority would not only ignore jobs but would begin a massive push to rig future elections in their favor for the future. While most of these new laws are in fact legally valid, they violate the spirit of the constitution and seek to usurp the vote of the majority by removing a portion of that majority from the vote. The two largest mechanisms of election fixing that the Republicans have been utilizing are voter registration legislation and recently, electoral college manipulation.

Voter Registration
In many of the states which the GOP gained control over during the recent election there has been a slurry of voter registration and voter disenfranchisement laws pushed through the legislature. The given rational as to why voter registration legislation is so necessary is that there have been many cases of voter fraud in recent years; all 9 convictions over the entire country during the past election clearly point to a massive electoral problem in our country which must be redressed. Voter registration restrictions, such as those requiring photo ID, can be targeted to disproportionately effect certain groups of the population. Using the photo ID example, minorities and the poor are both primarily Democratic and have a large percentage of the population without ID; by targeting this smaller group of the population, the Republicans can gain a comparative advantage over the Democrats. While only instituted in Florida during recent years, the disenfranchisement of convicted felons targets not only minorities, but also the poor and those who are users of drugs. Rick Scott's attacks on the rights of those who have been sent to jail will disproportionately effect Democratic leaning voters (poor and minority citizens are more likely to serve jail time and thus be barred from voting in future elections). If the electorate is pared down to a point where the voters allowed to vote are disproportionately of one party, a minority of the country can rule over the majority. The manipulation of voting rights for partisan gain is a complete perversion of our democratic system and a sign of the disdain that the right has for the constitution when it doesn't follow their warped views.

Electoral College Manipulation
Possibly the most disturbing electoral manipulation in recent years is that of electoral college manipulation to benefit one party. In Pennsylvania, the Republican legislature has recently been discussing whether or not to change the apportionment of electoral college votes in order to allocate votes by using congressional districts. Currently the electoral votes in PA are given in a winner take all approach where the winner of the popular vote wins the state, regardless of the voting distribution of the voters in the state. If the potential changes are enacted, the electoral votes will be decided by congressional district, giving the rural (primarily Republican) portions of the state the ability to give their votes to the Republican candidate even if the popular vote goes to the democrat. It is potential if not likely that PA could vote Democratic in the popular election but give a majority of its electoral votes to the Republican (Or vice-versa in coming years.). There is a similar situations in Maine, but this was not brought about because of partisan politics, and the the majority of the electoral votes would be guaranteed to the winner.

In my opinion, this issue is both extremely worrying and highlights a need for the removal of the electoral college. Almost half of our government (Read: the right half) has decided that they don't care about the will of the people and are willing to corrupt the electoral process for their own gain. I would expect these attempts at electoral rigging in third world "Democracies" where there is only one name on the ticket, not in America. The Pennsylvania electoral college strategy is not only against the concept of democracy, but will lead to a massive disparity in the power of the vote. Different places in the USA will have different levels of influence in the national elections due to how the votes are apportioned rather than sheer numbers of votes. I don't care which party is trying to fix the vote, the very action is corrupting on the fabric of our democracy and should not be tolerated. I would support an elimination of the electoral college as a relic of the pre-mass transport world and  deciding elections on the popular votes alone. Only through the practicing of our ideal of "one person, one vote" will we not only standardize the value of a vote across the USA, but will we protect ourselves from electoral gerrymandering.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Republican Tax Conundrum

By Joshua Sager

In recent years, the Republican Party has become afflicted with an insanity that manifests in the form of a compulsive cutting of taxes for all rich and corporate entities. Historically the Republicans have held a regressive economic view as well as a policy of lower taxes coupled with fewer government services (except in defense) but in recent years, the rhetoric has become infinitely more extreme. In my opinion, the intensification of the rhetoric benefiting the rich is purely a function of the increase of money in politics. The rich and corporate interests are essentially buying the elections through campaign "donations", and are being paid back for their support through tax breaks (among other things). As the Republicans would have you believe it, corporations just love to give money to candidates with NO strings attached, and Justice Thomas simply decides for the side of his donors every time by simple luck; these assertions would be laughable if they weren't so dangerous for all of us.

  • In order to justify the cutting of tax breaks for the wealthiest entities and individuals in society the right wing has given several rationalizations.

·         Tax breaks for the rich always create jobs and prosperity "trickles down" to the rest of us.
Bush tried a strategy of massive upper-income tax cuts to improve the economy and it worked about as well as trying to fly a cinder-block blimp. As with trying to fly a brick, things go downhill fast and hit bottom hard: The country goes from a surplus to a defect, millions of jobs are lost, and the rich have ever more of the wealth of the country (Something that is a complete surprise to the right wing, I'm sure.). The only conclusions are that this rationalization is demonstrably false and anybody who argues otherwise is either willfully ignorant or lacks a simple understanding of cause and effect. It isn’t that tax breaks for the rich never create jobs, but in a situation where taxes on the rich are at an all-time low, additional cuts are simply handouts to the rich.

  • Tax breaks actually increase revenue.

I have no clue who originally propagated this right wing meme, but they obviously need to attend an entry level economics course. While some targeted tax breaks will increase the economy and have feedback effects (EX.  Reducing the taxes on the middle/lower classes during an economic downturn in order to increase buying power of consumers in the market), simply cutting taxes on the rich at a time of record outsourcing and globalization is simply ineffective. Money either pools at the top or is sent to China where labor is far less expensive. For a party that is supposed to be good at business strategy,  and has access to a wealth of data on the economic effects of policy in the last decade, the Republicans must know that this assertion is, at best, a way to donate money to the poor workers in China.

  • By lowering base tax rates on corporations, we can get them to pay more taxes because they won't use loopholes.

Corporations and the rich often don't pay their full tax burden, as dictated by their base tax rate, due to large numbers of tax credits, loopholes, and exemptions. Republicans will say that by reducing base tax rates as a percent, we can decrease the use of loopholes by the rich/corporations. People fail to see that the right wing is essentially saying: "Not only do corporations not pay their share, which we have been quickly reducing, but we should try to get them to pay what they should through the reduction of what they are expected to pay." Those unfortunate corporations, which are apparently only barely scraping by, need to have the tax burdens reduced on them so they will be enticed to pay their fair share. Can you imagine what would happen if the police said "Why don't we just legalize theft of property under a certain value because it would lower the crime rate."? You don't entice corporations to pay their share by reducing the amount of money they are expected to pay, just as you don't reduce crime by lowering the bar on what is socially acceptable behavior. This argument is so ridiculous on its face that it reveals the true mindset of the Republicans: They don't want the rich and corporations to pay taxes; rather they want the poor to shoulder the burden.

Even with its blatant errors and logical fallacies, I'm certain that the "pro job creator" stances of the Republicans can be explained by sound logic; not the fact that the "job creators" happen to give them massive amounts of money. I mean come on, most politicians are simply public servants who work to help their constituents, not enrich themselves and the rich donors who support them.

The Sarcastic Liberal

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two pieces of good news

First and foremost, the Senate has finally passed a bill that would allocate funds for the repair of storm damage left by the past hurricane. This may seem to be a simple issue, and in past years (pre-Obama) it would be, I mean come, if the government doesn't exist to support society when it is damaged by external forces, what is it for. Unfortunately the current Republicans don't seem to hold this view, and thus have exerted their default filibuster against all aid packages, leaving a drastically underfunded disaster repair budget. Fortunately, in this case eight of the Republicans have seen reason and voted against party lines to pass the disaster relief bill, which will now go to the House. I hope that the house will similarly see reason (or the possible consequences of being known as the party of no action with their already abyssmal approval ratings) and pass the bill quickly.

The simple fact that aid for disaster victims has become a partisan issue that holds up the legislature tells us two things about the country's politics:

  1. The system is broken when even a minority of insane people can grind the wheels of government to a halt and then use massive amounts of corporate money to trick the electorate into forgetting their apathy.
  2. What does it tell you about the obstructing party? Do they care more about the American people, or attacking the other party through stalling EVERYTHING. 

The Second piece of good news is the Elisabeth Warren will be running for senate this next election cycle. Warren is a very good liberal politician who will bring a much needed progressive voice to the senate. Not only is Warren competent, but she is actually willing to stand up for what she believes in, if you want examples of this you can look online for the videos of her CFPB hearings, not once does she back down.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Weekly Issue #7 - 9/10/11 - The Obama Job Plan

Finally, Obama is addressing the real catastrophe of the job crisis rather than the false catastrophe of the national debt. I am of mixed feeling of Obama's actions during his presidency due to the dichotomy between his policy choices and his politics. Obama supports good policies but is willing to compromise to the point of capitulation in all but a few issues. Obama is a very nice person, but for a president this can often lead to a weak leader who will bend in the face of his insane adversaries. The jobs plan that Obama has just unveiled is a very good start on solving the jobs crisis that has plagued the USA in recent years, just as long as the Democrats can prevent it from being corrupted by the right wing lunatics.

The plan proposed by Obama is composed of a combination of infrastructure investment, tax cuts to incentivize hiring, and increased jobless benefits. All three of these initiatives have been proven to assist an ailing economy by increasing the buying power of the population as a whole, thus increasing demand for goods, and making it more likely that companies will hire domestically.

Investing in infrastructure is vital in the current economic climate both to stimulate the economy and to get the best value for cost on infrastructure projects. The private sector isn't hiring, thus reducing the buying power of the unemployed and demand for products. When the government spends money to hire people the buying power of the people rises, thus fueling demand for goods and hiring in the private sector. Our infrastructure is vital to society, thus government investment on infrastructure in this economic climate will facilitate the economy in the future and get people back to work now. Construction and labor costs are both very low currently due to lack of demand, leading to a decrease in the price of investment in infrastructure. If we waited for the economy to recover before fixing our infrastructure it would cost more and the jobs created by the investment would not improve the economy as much as they could.

Simply giving tax breaks to businesses no longer increases the amounts of jobs that they create. Globalization and automation have led to a decrease in demand for labor domestically, and thus many tax breaks for corporations are completely wasted or intended to shelter fragile industries (such as green energy). The small business tax cuts proposed in the Obama job plan are specifically targeted towards decreasing the payroll taxes of American workers and companies that hire Americans. By reducing the taxes on companies that hire American workers, companies have an increased incentive to hire people, which bolsters the economy. These cuts only benefit those who hire in this country and the workers that they hire, concentrating the positive effects of the cuts on American small businesses. A relatively new and untested aspect of the tax portion of the Obama job plan is the implementation of cuts based upon the number of people ion the company being paid a reasonable (above average) wage for their work. Hopefully this tax break will entice more employers to pay their workers a living wage as well as to hire some new workers.

Increasing jobless benefits in times of economic hardship both helps people survive when they would otherwise be unable to, and increases the buying power of the population. As a purely moral argument, we are the richest country and for people to be starving even in our recent economic hardship is simply wrong. By increasing jobless benefits, those without work will have enough money to survive and feed their family at least until they can find work. In economic depressions "the death spiral" is a phenomenon where joblessness leads to a reduction in consumption, which decreases demand and destroys more jobs. By giving people without buying power money for vital goods, their buying power is increased and demand is bolstered. Whether a moral or economic rationalization is used, the increase in jobless benefits is a good idea in the current economic climate.

While the Obama jobs plan is on the whole a good start, there are several issues that I believe may reduce its effectiveness. The first issue with the Obama plan is that the Obama white house and the Democratic party can compromise out of any advantageous position. If the plan is corrupted before it is passed through capitulation to the right wing, it may do no good at all. The Democrats must fight any interference in this plan tooth and nail, or they will fail even if a watered down plan is eventually passed. it may simply not do enough of a good thing. I would suggest much more (at least $1 trillion) infrastructure spending now in order to reap the most benefit for our investment in the long term. The deficit would increase in the short term, but these projects will get done eventually and this is the best time to do them. If the infrastructure spending isn't great enough, the plan may have a reduced effect. The tax breaks included in the Obama plan are stimulative, but they will reduce the input into social security and could imbalance the program and allow the right wing to attack it on insolvency grounds. The most nebulous, but potentially largest, problem with the Obama plan is that the cuts that will pay for the plan will be controlled by the super congress. The super congress is a hotbed of lobbying and potential corruption, which could allow the right wing to attack the poor under the banner of cutting spending. The Obama plan should go on the government credit card or paid for by defense cuts and tax increases on the rich. We should stabilize the economy and job markets before we worry about the national debt.

The Sarcastic Liberal

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Republican Debate - 9/7/2011

The most recent Republican primary debate of the 2012 election cycle was truly painful to watch but at the same time interesting and informing. Perry and Romney were the two clearly dominant candidates with the rest of the people on stage being simply the backdrop of the debate. Despite her good performance in the past two debates, Bachmann is likely going to be eliminated as much of her extreme base shifts to support Perry. As everybody with common sense could see a the outset of the primary, Paul, Gingrich, Santorum, Huntsman, and Cain were all non-starters only running due to delusion, political advancement or monetary gain. The debate this week has in my opinion solidified the Republican field for president (barring Chris Christie's entry) into a fight between Romney and Perry

One interesting and potentially important development during the Republican debate is that the Republican candidates have started attacking each other. It took about 5 minutes for Perry and Romney to start sparring over who is the more regressive conservative, only to go downhill from there. Credit where credit is due, the Republicans are the most underhanded, vicious and libelous bunch in politics. Usually they turn their guns on the Democrats (Birthers, Clinton, SwiftBoat, etc.), but this primary has the potential to be extremely vicious. I for one look forward to the Republican party being divided and attacking each other. With all of the insane or corrupt views held by Perry and the flip-flopping of Romney, the different side won't even have to make things up to attack one another. Hopefully, by the time the Presidential candidate is chosen, they will be so smeared by the opposition that they are un-electable to the independents (unfortunately the party cohesion of the Republicans is so much that they will probably support the winning candidate even after the fight).

The most disturbing thing about the entire debate was that there was a complete disconnection from the facts for ALL candidates. If any of the candidates were to be elected it would truly be a disaster for the USA. The Republican party is simply operating on a completely synthesized set of facts and ideals which are completely made up by corporations, zealots, and think tanks. Unfortunately a disconnection from the facts does not mitigate the negative effect of denying the facts (if I don't believe in gravity it does not mean that I can fly, but rather that I could stupidly walk off a cliff and go splat). In the next section of the article I will expound upon the largest falsifications, simplifications or delusions of each of the candidates from last night's debate; this by no means indicates that the falsehood that I point out is the only ones told by the candidate, but that I believe it to be the worst of those told.

  1. ObamaCare --- One thing that all of the candidates seem to agree upon is that the ACA is an evil, job killing overreach of government that will be immediately repealed; the only problem with this analysis of the ACA is that it is demonstrably false on all counts. The single largest falsehoods told about the ACA were by Bachmann when she said that "ObamaCare took over 1/6 of the US economy" and that new regulations were already killing jobs. I simply won't even dignify the first comment with an analysis for the same reason I don't want to explain why the moon isn't made of cheese. Bachmann's story about how the ACA is killing jobs is amusing because not only will the new regulations have a negligible effect on job growth, but they won't be implemented for another year. Anybody who is bemoaning the ACA for being onerous is either deluded or a liar. As for the constitutionality of the ACA, the interstate commerce clause of the constitution makes the mandate (a Republican idea until a Democrat implemented it) completely constitutional. Romney, Perry and Bachmann all stated that they would offer waivers for the ACA on their first day in office, which ironically is unconstitutional.
  2. Energy Policy --- The Republicans universally blamed the increase in gas prices on Obama's policy while at the same time saying that green energy hasn't created jobs. The president cannot directly control gas prices without implementing price controls, which if Obama did, the Republicans would have a collective seizure. Ron Paul and Bachmann are sharing the crown for the craziest comment on energy policy during this debate. Bachmann and Paul both promise impossibly low gas prices, which are completely unsupported by economics. Speculation and the interactions of supply and demand are the two main controls on the price of gas (mostly speculation in the current case), thus the executive branch cannot control prices without overstepping its power. Green jobs haven't been created because the Republicans have aborted all attempt to fund the programs, thus preventing them from working.
  3. Social Security --- Rick Perry believes Social Security to be a unconstitutional "Ponzi Scheme"; enough said.
  4. Regulation --- The Republicans have long been the party of corporations and polluters. Every dangerous or toxic industry ranging from big oil to big tobacco has a stake in the Republican party, thus the Republicans are the party of no regulations. The Republicans are either bought or hold an extreme free market ideology which makes them want to completely deregulate corporations. I'm sure that drug companies would NEVER risk the lives of the consumers of their drugs even if the FDA didn't regulate them, nor would the oil companies turn the air to acid if they thought it would make them money. Regulations both keep the people safe and the companies honest, thus they are under attack by the corporate tools masquerading as public servants. The most insane comment on regulations in the debate yesterday was undoubtedly by Ron Paul on the FAA. According to Paul, airlines should all self regulate their security and flying patterns. The safety and security of the planes should all be privatized and decentralized and according to Paul, companies wouldn't cut corners and would all agree nicely on flightplans. Without the FAA and TSA, the airspace would be anarchy. Security on planes would decrease due to no baseline regulations and plane pilots would simply have to pray and hope that they don't collide with one another due to no centralized and dominant control. Ironically, the prices of tickets wouldn't even decrease due to the reduction of taxes on the airlines (as shown in the FAA shutdown).     
  5. Taxes --- The modern right wing has consistently held the beliefs that all taxes are evil, the rich pay too much, and that tax cuts always produce more tax revenue than they cost. For a group of people who are supposedly good with economics, the right wing is remarkably stupid on this one issue. In truth, most intelligent Republicans don't believe their own lies on taxes, but are using them to both remove taxes on the rich and shrink government so that they can make more money. The less money that the rich have to give to support the less fortunate the more yachts they can buy, because come on, one yacht in simply not enough for the important people. While every candidate on the stage holds insane views on taxes, Cain's 9-9-9 plan is by far the most insane. Cain's plan is the most regressive tax plan suggested since the decline of feudalism, even Bachmann isn't so extreme. The government doesn't have enough money because the rich and corporations stopped paying taxes at the same time we started two wars; the Bush presidency is the gift that keeps on giving.
  6. Ronald Reagan --- Every candidate on the stage spared no words in their praise (read: blind worship") of Ronald Reagan, Saint of the Right Wing. None of them seem to see the irony that their beliefs are far from those of that old lefty Reagan. Reagan raised taxes, negotiated with terrorists, and offered amnesty to illegals, which puts him squarely within the ranks of the Progressive congress today. The rightward shift of politics in the past decades has no better illustration than this.

Long story short: The Republican candidates are either stupid or corrupt enough to operate in a fact free zone and if any of these people are elected it would be a disaster. Every time you think that the next Republican cannot be more insane, the next one pops out an I am starting to wonder if there is a point where even the right wing can look at a candidate and think that they are simply too extreme.
Bush I >> Bush II >> Palin >> Bachmann/Perry >> ???

Facts truly do have a liberal bias,

The Sarcastic Liberal

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

George Carlin: "The God Question"

As is common, George Carlin's insight is both perfectly accurate and succinct. Perry, Bachmann and the majority of the house Republicans are truly frightening because they are not only trying to ask the god question to everybody in the country, but they are almost all pro-gun while doing it.

Obama may be Waking Up!!

In just the last week, the Obama administration has suggested that they will be pursuing two new initiatives that could realistically improve the US economy. As reported in several newspapers (see links below), the Obama administration has announced plans to suggest both a massive draw down in Iraq and at the same time a new round of stimulus and job spending.

Troop Draw-down: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/06/iraq-troop-withdrawal-reducing-forces_n_950576.html

A reduction in the number of troops involved in the Iraq war is the fulfillment of an Obama campaign promise as well as a step in the right direction both in terms of money and human life. We are simply wasting massive amounts of lives and money on a pointless war in Iraq thus any reduction in resources dedicated towards Iraq cannot hurt. The counter-argument is that terrorists from Iraq will come over here and harm us if we don't take the fight to them, but this view has been proven to be false. In my (and most of the country's) opinion the fewer people we harm over there in our war, the fewer terrorists are created to attack us over here. We are wasting resources, not to mention killing huge numbers of people, in order to fight a phantom threat which we are in fact creating through our own actions. Leaving Iraq has little to no downside and many potential positives.

Jobs Stimulus: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/06/obama-jobs-plan_n_951294.html

With the tea party wave of 2010 an unusually large fissure in the political debate between Washington and the rest of the country has opened; Washington only wants to talk about cutting the deficit while the rest of the country wants the massive unemployment problem in the US addressed. Obama's last stimulus package is much maligned but in truth it was one of the primary reasons why the USA (and potentially the world due to the economic domino effect) has merely terrible employment numbers rather than fatal ones. If you think that the economy is bad now, you don't even want to think about what it would look like if the last round of stimulus didn't save several million jobs and the auto bailout didn't save the last manufacturing base of the USA. The deficit debate is simply a smokescreen by the right wing to obfuscate the issues and make Obama look bad. The Republicans should look back at the great depression if only to see the effects of retraction and cutting government spending during a recession. Every legitimate economist knows that cutting spending during a recession only destroys jobs and thus the purchasing power of the people. With a lower purchasing power, demand for goods falls and the "death spiral" ensues. Despite being the party of "fiscal responsibility" (read: fantasy economics), the Republicans don't seem to see the parallels between their actions and those of Hoover's during the depression era, and thus could doom the rest of us to repeat those mistakes.

While these stories show a good progression towards the left by Obama, as well as two very solid policy choices by his administration, there is still the massive hurdle of the House and the smaller but still significant senate blockage. While I believe Obama is far too conciliatory and calm given what is thrown at him, he isn't entirely to blame for the lack of left wing progress in politics today; there are several major factors in Washington that mitigate Obama's lack of liberal policy choices.

  1. A largely overlooked fact is that Obama and the executive branch cannot write, push through, or vote on any legislation. The separation of powers denies the executive branch the ability to make law outside of war and matters of treaties (not that Bush got that memo). If you want to complain about the lach of progressive legislation, talk to your congressman or senator because they hold far more blame than the president.
  2. The current Republicans are both willing and able to blow up the country if they don't get what they want. Obama and the Democrats actually care about the country and sometimes have to be the SWAT member who non-lethally shoots the hostage in order to save the hostage's life. Blame the hostage takers and VOTE even if you don't care much for the Democrats.
  3. Obama and the Democrats have actually achieved a record number of positive things in the past several years. The economy has overshadowed everything else, but the Obama presidency has actually been very successful: Instituting the first national healthcare plan, saving the US economy from total destruction, killing Bin Laden, appointing two very intelligent supreme court justices, and promoting civil right legislation are several of the highlights of the Obama presidency which will live on after the eventual economic recovery. 
  4. There is record gridlock, corruption and willful ignorance in at least half of Washington today. (guess which half)  
All in all, these are two good steps in the right direction but they are a long way from passed. We the People must push our representatives to do what we know is best for us and not their political prospects or donor' bottom lines.

The Sarcastic Liberal

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pakman Show Marriage Equality Segment

In this short video Pakman gives the single best articulation of the double standard that plagues our debate on marriage I have seen in a long time. For some reason, no politician will ever point out that in its current state marriage isn't particularly "sanctified"; Pakman's examples of the prison inmate and Gingrick are both proof to the flawed logic of anti gay marriage rhetoric.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

An interesting piece on the tea party


For once I completely agree with Romney (He says "The tea party isn't a diversion from mainstream Republican thought. It is within mainstream Republican thought"). The tea party is essentially a distillation of the views of the Republican party, not a split or fringe party. The Tea Partiers and the Republicans both glorify ignorance, despise the poor, idolize the rich, hate the gays/atheists/unnamed others, and want to turn back the clock on the country until they retake power from the encroaching "brown people".

I only see two differences between the tea party and the Republicans.
1) The tea party cannot hide their bigotry and ignorance, they often revel in it (See picture at start of article; the Republicans hide their bigotry behind code-words and justify their ignorance behind bought studies and pundits

2) The Tea party are dumb true believers in an ideology that will one day turn them into serfs; the Republican elite are those who benefit from the ideology of Ayn Rand and will one day become the feudal masters (corporate bosses V. Wage slaves) of the tea party.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weekly Issue #6 - 9/3/11 - Perry pulls ahead

The Republican field of the coming presidential election cycle has long been divided into two major catagories: Romney, and the Anti-Romney. Romney is the most established and well funded candidate of all of the Republican field, having deep pockets and previous executive experience, but is absolutely hated by a large portion of the right wing. Romney is seen as being too liberal or not genuine (for good reason) thus the Republicans are left with the quandary where they must choose between someone they hate or someone they believe to be incompetent. Many different candidates have been fighting for the position of the Anti-Romney but all have been found lacking: Paul is too libertarian; Bachmann is clearly insane; Gingrich is too far past his expiration date; Santorum and Pawlenty lack big money support.

Rick Perry could very well be the answer to the wishes of even the craziest edges of the Republican party, with confirmed fiscal, social and religious conservative accolades. Perry is fiscally conservative enough that he can claim to have both cut taxes on the rich and cut services to the poor. The "Texas miracle" Perry brought about during his terms as governor has led to high employment numbers in TX compared to the rest of the country but unfortunately if you even scratch the surface of the miracle, it begins to look much less miraculous. A majority of the jobs created in Texas were either due to the oil companies which have been making record profits or in the service industry at minimum wage. Needless to say, not all of the country is sitting on top of a deposit of oil and creating jobs by forming a two class society is not the recovery that we have been hoping for. Perry's is fiscally conservative, but his policies have not helped the Texas people as much as he may claim. Socially, Perry holds every expected position for an American conservative: He is pro-life, pro-gun, anti-gay, and ignorant of anything even resembling science. The right wing will find Perry's social views impeccable and by far superior to those of the competition. Perry's religious views support his hard line social conservative stances on most of the issues but his mixing of politics and religion go much farther than that. I have no real problem with a person using their personal views, such as religion, to inform their political positions but there comes a point where some attempt to fuse religion and politics. It is unrealistic to ask politicians to check their views at the door of the white house, but they must be careful so as not to impose those views on others. Perry holds the absolute most extreme view on the melding of church and state, which means essentially that he believes that the Evangelical views should be imposed upon everybody else and it is his religious duty to bring about this imposition (if they were Muslim, the media would be screaming Sharia).

As shown by several recent polls, Perry is rapidly overtaking all of the competition, Romney included. Bachmann is stuttering on behind Perry, but in my opinion she is to obviously stupid to compete against a candidate who hides his stupidity as well as Perry. With the ascension of Perry as the possible front-runner of the Republican presidential race, I only think one thing: "Is it truly possible that after only 3 years, the country is either stupid or forgetful enough to allow Bush 3.0 into the race?" Don't people remember what happened the last time the country elected a mental defective Texas governor into the White House and if they do, are they willing to let history repeat itself?

Perry is for all intents and purposes Bush; every major policy position that Bush held, Perry holds the exact same views. If anything, I think that Perry may be even dumber than Bush, and he wouldn't even have Darth Cheney pulling his strings to compensate for his stupidity. I can't even imagine what will happen to the USA if Perry were elected President and the Democrats lost control of congress.

If you must choose between the weak but sane or the effective lunatics, you must by default pick the person who won't blow up the country on a whim. Democrats for 2012.

The Sarcastic Liberal