Category Archives: USA

Budget 2014: setting up for more tax cuts for the rich, funded by grinding the poor into the dust

How to give a certain class of Australians what they want.

Tony Abbott at Daily Tele post-budget party

Tony Abbott at tonight’s Daily Telegraph post-budget party

  • Step 1: Win government, promising that, even though the country’s finances are well-known, you can magically create a “budget surplus” whilst simultaneously cutting taxes, and not cutting spending.
  • Step 2: Exaggerate budgetary difficulties. Double the deficit. Lock in revenue cuts (eg abolishing the mining tax) that help your rich mates. Lock in company tax cuts.
  • Step 3: Claim “budget emergency” (even though anyone paying attention can see that the only things that have changed since the election were done by you)
  • Step 4: Slash basic services for the poor – drive those on NewStart further into poverty, deny young people even that support, bully the poor out of going to the doctor or even the emergency room, cut services for the disabled.
  • Step 5: Cover your permanent assault on the poor with a comparatively small “deficit levy” on certain wealthy people that is, unlike the service cuts, only temporary.
  • Step 6: As soon as the unnecessary cuts produce a surplus, give the proceeds to the rich in more tax cuts.

In short -
Times are good: lock in tax cuts.
Tax cuts wreck the budget: lock in service cuts.
Service cuts create a surplus: more tax cuts.
REPEAT

End result: America.

Still, after all, it’s just what Australians want – which is why before the election we had to tell them none of it would happen. Because of how much they support it.

Oh, alright, yes, they’re angry – now, two and a half years out from the next election, when they can’t do anything about it. Sure, we’ve got a lot of votes to buy back in the next two budgets – but with the money we just gouged out of the poor and vulnerable, history indicates we can do it.

Trust us.

The Unhinging, collected

How are the crazies who warned us that a second Obama term would be where the gloves finally came off, where he finally revealed his demonic visage, stole all their money, forced them into death panels, banned religion, took their guns, made them get gay married, and ceded the US over to the UN, which is actually a tyrannical powerful One World government… going to process reality when that doesn’t happen?

And in the meantime, what are the funniest efforts by the far right to blame everyone but themselves?

Don’t worry, I’ve seen Andrew Bolt’s only people who agree with me are using their heads idiocy. But let’s collect them, for the lols.

UPDATE: It’ll be tough to top this one, via Catsidhe in the comments via Jezebel – The end of liberty in America: Only course of action now is to fight back, electoral politics not working:

Starting early this morning, I am going to un-friend every single individual on Facebook who voted for Obama, or I even suspect may have Democrat leanings. I will do the same in person. All family and friends, even close family and friends, who I know to be Democrats are hereby dead to me. I vow never to speak to them again for the rest of my life, or have any communications with them. They are in short, the enemies of liberty. They deserve nothing less than hatred and utter contempt.

I strongly urge all other libertarians to do the same. Are you married to someone who voted for Obama, have a girlfriend who voted ‘O’. Divorce them. Break up with them without haste. Vow not to attend family functions, Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas for example, if there will be any family members in attendance who are Democrats.

Do you work for someone who voted for Obama? Quit your job. Co-workers who voted for Obama. Simply don’t talk to them in the workplace, unless your boss instructs you too for work-related only purposes. Have clients who voted Democrat? Call them up this morning and tell them to take their business elsewhere.

I shouldn’t be enjoying the ravings of a clearly ill person so much, but – he’s both ill and a nasty piece of work, so doesn’t that make it slightly okay? No? Damnit.

Indefinite detention without charge equals a country that does not deserve to have prisoners extradited to it

Yesterday’s Crikey, on Julian Assange’s recent move:

To seek asylum, rather than to seek to address the allegations against him in Sweden (although Assange has repeatedly offered to be interviewed by Swedish authorities in the UK over the past 18 months), will undoubtedly further damage Assange’s reputation. The stain of “alleged r-pist” will always follow him, until the claims are resolved.

But Assange knows that the Vice-President of the United States has called him a terrorist. He knows that the Obama administration readily kills those it labels terrorists, even if they are US citizens, and even if they aren’t terrorists, without due process. He knows that a grand jury has been empanelled and has, according to those with connections inside the US security establishment, produced a sealed indictment against him. Being extradited to Sweden increases the risk that he will be surrendered to the United States where an uncertain fate awaits.

And Guy Rundle points out two critical points about Assange going to Sweden:

  • There is no such thing as bail; you’re either accused of a non-coercive crime and let out on licence, or you’re on remand until trial.
  • Sweden has a distinctive system of extradition — especially to the US — in which someone accused of a crime in Sweden (and hence on remand) can be “loaned” to the US for prosecution there. This process does not exist in many other countries.

And while the US is a country that will imprison people indefinitely without charge, and murder Afghans with drones simply for being in their own country, and will execute people even when there’s very strong evidence they’re innocent – nobody should be forcibly sent there to face that kind of prosecution. And while Sweden will hand people over to such a country, it should be treated as being part of the same profoundly flawed system.

If it were your life on the line, I suspect you would do something very similar to what Assange has done.

Satirical legislation

Satirical legislation:

The Republican march against adult Americans’ right to make their own decisions about really private matters remains so unbelievable that parody has become a legitimate legislative response. Oklahoma got the “Every Sperm Is Sacred” protest amendment. Virginia got a measure to require prostate exams for Viagra prescriptions.

And now Georgia State Representative Yasmin Neal has a bill that would ban vasectomies. After a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill taking away women’s reproductive rights, Neal decided that fair is fair.

So, which utterly infuriating Australian legislation deserves this kind of a response? A retort to the 2004 changes to the Marriage Act, perhaps, with an amendment demanding that it be limited to Non-Christians. Or Christians, whichever makes the point most clearly. How about an amendment to the Fair Work legislation that makes it almost impossible to strike by adding a section declaring that any employee who even mentions the word “strike” be strapped to a rocket and fired at the sun? And surely we can have an amendment to the ALP’s recent backdown to the pokie lobby adding a section that expressly gives Clubs Australia the power to ignore any part of the legislation that still mildly inconveniences it?

Got some better ideas? Share them in the comments.

Soldiers urinating on corpses: just bad apples! Not our fault!

Sebastian Junger at The Washington Post on the US soldiers who urinated on the Taliban fighters they’d killed:

There is a final context for this act in which we are all responsible, all guilty. A 19-year-old Marine has a very hard time reconciling the fact that it’s okay to waterboard a live Taliban fighter but not okay to urinate on a dead one.

When the war on terror started, the Marines in that video were probably 9 or 10 years old. As children they heard adults — and political leaders — talk about our enemies in the most inhuman terms. The Internet and the news media are filled with self-important men and women referring to our enemies as animals that deserve little legal or moral consideration. We have sent enemy fighters to countries like Syria and Libya to be tortured by the very regimes that we have recently condemned for engaging in war crimes and torture. They have been tortured into confessing their crimes and then locked up indefinitely without trial because their confessions — achieved through torture — will not stand up in court.

For the past 10 years, American children have absorbed these moral contradictions, and now they are fighting our wars. The video doesn’t surprise me, but it makes me incredibly sad — not just for them, but also for us. We may prosecute these men for desecrating the dead while maintaining that it is okay to torture the living.

I hope someone else knows how to explain that to our soldiers, because I don’t have the faintest idea.

Hysterically punishing these individual young soldiers is of course much easier than actually addressing the much more serious problem of the behaviour of those who sent them there, so let’s ignore everything Sebastian just said. BAD APPLES! NOT OUR FAULT! NOTHING WE NEED TO CHANGE ABOUT OURSELVES!

Do US citizens realise that this is what their government does with their authority?

How an unjust, ridiculously punitive copyright law gets passed.

  • Step 1: Industry makes up outrageous lies about the industry’s “losses”:

    In IPI-land, when a movie studio makes $10 selling a DVD to a Canadian, and then gives $7 to the company that manufactured the DVD and $2 to the guy who shipped it to Canada, society has benefitted by $10+$7+$2=$19. Yet some simple math shows that this is nonsense: the studio is $1 richer, the trucker is $2, and the manufacturer is $7. Shockingly enough, that adds up to $10. What each participant cares about is his profits, not his revenues.

    Lazy journalists, particularly those working for media companies with related movie or TV studios, repeat this lie as if it were true.

  • Step 2: Donate huge amounts of money to both US political parties, who pretend to believe your lie.
  • Step 3: Both US parties support draconian anti-citizen copyright laws like SOPA. Oh, and expend the power of the US state bullying other countries to do likewise:

    The US ambassador in Madrid threatened Spain with “retaliation actions” if the country did not pass tough new internet piracy laws, according to leaked documents.

    Nice country you have there. Shame if something happened to it.

And that’s how an obscenely greedy person – untouchable corporate entity, in fact – who wants to lock up grandmothers because their kids downloaded a music file gets their way. Hooray!

Brutally slashing public service jobs in the execution sector

The Governor of the US state of Oregon declares he will not execute any more prisoners:

The change of heart comes as a surprise for a governor who twice before — in his first term as governor — allowed executions to go forward. Despite his personal opposition to the death penalty, Kitzhaber said he was upholding the will of the people in allowing the 1996 execution of Douglas Franklin Wright and the 1997 execution of Harry Charles Moore.

“I have regretted those choices ever since,” he said in a prepared statement. “Both because of my own deep personal convictions about capital punishment and also because in practice, Oregon has an expensive and unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice.”

The announcement is a win for death penalty activists who had asked Kitzhaber to declare a moratorium on executions until the state conducts a thorough review of its death penalty system.

Kitzhaber said his decision is not out of compassion for Haugen or other inmates. But the death penalty is not handed down fairly — some inmates on death row have committed similar crimes as those who are serving life sentences, he said. It is a criticism Haugen himself has often made and cites as a reason that he has volunteered to die, protesting the unfairness of the death penalty.

But without the killings by the occasionally reliable state, how will the victims of terrible murders be brought back to life and the wrongs committed by serious criminals be undone? How will the victims’ families get to feel the brief satisfaction of enjoying another person’s death? What about the jobs of the hardworking executioners?

A sad end to a beautiful bloodthirsty tradition.

High school student hurts Governor’s feelings

Please tell me that the blowback for Brownback on this has seriously done him some political damage:

FAIRWAY, Kan. – Eighteen-year-old Emma Sullivan never thought her tweet about a field trip would be seen by Gov. Sam Brownback. The Shawnee Mission East High School senior went to the Capitol and heard Brownback speak. She didn’t like what she heard.

“I don’t agree with a majority of the things that he is trying to pass,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan tweeted her thoughts about what she wanted to do during the speech.

Sullivan’s tweet stated: “just made mean comments at gov brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.”

Sullivan said she ended up in the principal’s office the next day.

“He explained to me that someone from Brownback’s office got a hold of it and sent it to someone in charge of the district,” said Sullivan.

She said her principal wants her to write an apology to Brownback

Any politician who thinks it’s okay to bully a high school student for having a political opinion should be an object of both disgust and derision.

Repealing a law against domestic violence to save a few bucks

Remember the other day when I commented on the way we make up for any budget shortfall by taking further from those who can least afford it?

Well, Topeka, Kansas, has found a way to punish the vulnerable at an even crazier level than you might previously have believed possible:

The Topeka City Council on Tuesday voted to repeal the city’s law against misdemeanor domestic battery, the latest in a budget battle that has freed about 30 abuse suspects from charges.

One of the offenders was even arrested and released twice since the brouhaha broke out Sept. 8.

I like that when they look at ignoring crimes to save space in the jails, they start with violent crimes targeted at woman and children rather than, say, drugs offences that do not affect people other than the offender.

Topeka, Kansas. Where they save a few bucks by letting people beat their wives.* Bravo, America. Bravo.

*Assaulting someone is still conceivably an offence, even if it’s within the home – it’s just that they won’t bother prosecuting it, as the “misdemeanour domestic battery” charge has been repealed.

Ordinary American questions for-profit health care

I’m not surprised this interview with an “Occupy Wall St” protester didn’t air on Fox, but I am surprised that it leaked:

That bit at the end?

“I think, myself, as well as many other people, would like to see a little but more economic justice or social justice — Jesus stuff — as far as feeding the poor, health care for the sick. You know, I find it really entertaining that people like to hold the Bill of Rights up while they’re screaming at gay soldiers, but they just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that a for-profit healthcare system doesn’t work. So, let’s just look at it like this, if we want the president to do more, let’s talk to him on a level that actually reaches people, instead of asking for his birth certificate and wasting time with total nonsense like Solyndra.”

If you relied on their national media, you’d almost forget that such Americans still existed.