The Genius of Bipartisan Compromise

Nobody gets everything they want.

Nobody gets everything they need.

Problems get only partially addressed and then linger on for decades often getting worse and metastasizing into ever more complicated problems that are even less likely to be tackled by cowardly pols.

Frightening as it may be, this is actually one of the better case scenarios. The above is still better than not being addressed at all and benign neglect. So count your blessings that we live in the best system yet devised for human government.

A compromise was reached on the $1 trillion farm bill that has been in negotiation for 2 years

The bipartisan agreement, two years after lawmakers began work on the nearly $1 trillion bill, is a major step forward in reauthorizing hundreds of farm and nutrition programs that must be renewed every five years. And, at least for now, it brings an end to the partisan fighting that stalled two previous attempts to pass the legislation. The bill would reduce spending by about $23 billion over the next 10 years.

So the House GOP wanted to cut $40 billion from food stamps and drug test recipients. They voted against a bill that would only have cut $20 billion. The Dems in the Senate proposed cutting it $40 million to fulfill their role of self-compromising invertibrates.

Many Dems argued forcefully that any cuts to such an essential, life-sustaining program, in the midst of harrowing economic conditions, was irresponsible. But arguing about irresponsibility to a body that believes that people on the terrorist watch list should be able to purchase assault weapons is a pretty futile act.

So blah blah blah we need to be thankful that our fellow Americans who are food insecure will only have to endure, if it passes, an $800 million cut.

“The bill is a compromise,” said Ray Gaesser, an Iowa farmer who is president of the American Soybean Association. “It ensures the continued success of American agriculture, and we encourage both the House and the Senate to pass it quickly.”

Antihunger advocates criticized the agreement.

“They are gutting a program to provide food for hungry people to pay for corporate welfare,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

Ain’t democracy grand? 

A Funny Tree Grew in Brooklyn – When Marijuana Grew Wild in NYC

The Brooklyn Public Library’s blog has a fascinating story complete with pictures illustrating the NYC Sanitation Dept. effort in the early 50s to eradicate marijuana plants grown by the enterprising Nancy Botwins of the Truman era. Pot-trepreneurs cultivated marijuana in massive numbers in the open lots of Queens and Brooklyn until they were confronted by the General Inspector of the Sanitation Dept. fulfilling the role of the overstuffed fuddy-duddy always obsessed with the idea that somebody somewhere is having a good time. He directed his special “White Wing Squad” to find and destroy the devil weed.

The fact that there was a special squadron of incorruptible garbage men like a sanitation version of the Untouchables is hilarious enough. As they say, “NY was no friend to pot.”

Over the course of the summer about 41,000 pounds of marijuana were uprooted and destroyed during a campaign to eradicate the psychotropic stuff from vacant lots in the city. After Queens, Brooklyn accounted for the largest haul — about 17,200 pounds…

The (Brooklyn) Eagle reported that the “drug plant” was growing here in “lush impudence.”

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They do not talk about the early disastrous effort to burn the plants, which, when the wind changed, caused a massive run on the the record stores and pizzarias of Brooklyn and the Great Jazz Record and Pizza Shortage of 1951 my parents told me about. 

Koch Brothers Trying to Buy 2014 (while we fiddle about 2016)

Stories about Hilary “super PACs” and such are sadly expected. In the meantime, there’s 2014 and the Koch’s and their ilk are opening up the spigot in the hopes of another 2010 and a further plutocrat takeover of our government.

The Democrats have smaller versions of these operations, though they are more focused on building a super PAC to collect unlimited donations supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton in 2016, and they lack the resources to compete with the Kochs at this stage.

I know it’s inevitable that all the media attention will be on pretty and shiny 2016 rather than rumpled policy wonk 2014 and I might as well be screaming at clouds, but Jeez! If Democrats focus 1 second or 1 penny on 2016 that could be pointed at any of the senate, house and state house races of 2014 that will decide who decides, shame on them.

If 2014 goes badly (knock wood, cross fingers), then Pres. Hilary will be playing from behind and fighting the continuing dismantling of the 20th century rather than implementing any sort of 21st century progress.

I’m focusing all my money and attention on 2014, please do the same, rinse, repeat.

Hedge Fund Guy Says 1% Are Jews, Progressives are Nazis

Tom Perkins is one of the founders of a venture capital fund in San Francisco. This letter to the editor was published in the Wall Street Journal on 1/24/14:

Regarding your editorial “Censors on Campus” (Jan. 18): Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a “snob” despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?

Besides absolutely destroying Godwin’s Law and trampling any sense of logic to death, Mr. Perkins and the WSJ may be paying a great compliment to Occupy Wall St., Elizabeth Warren and all those who have the temerity to point out the growing conditions of extreme inequality.

Imagine how afraid this man is, cowering in his penthouse, waiting for the shock troops of MoveOn.org to amass in front of office buildings that house the financial elite and throw stones through the plate glass windows on the first floor of their 50 story skyscrapers. It will be Kristallnacht all over again with these one percenters having to call their security forces to disperse the crowd and order new glass to be installed. That’s very much like Auschwitz to them, if you think about it. It’s all relative.

The absurdity aside, Lawyers, Guns and Money recalls the fear of the plutocrats throughout history and notes: 

Back in the Gilded Age, every strike, every worker movement, every bit of organizing was seen by the plutocrats as the coming of a revolution that would kill them all. See the response to the Tompkins Square unemployment marches, which the rich saw as the Paris Commune coming to America. Similarly, with every funeral, every note of music, every coming of the night, slave owners fretted about their human property rising up and killing them all, turning South Carolina into Haiti.

What Mr. Perkins is really fretting for is the ability to sleep comfortably at night without being confronted by the consequences of plutocratic rule. The sleep of the innocent monopolist before the smelly masses expressed their dissatisfaction with the status quo. The blessed slumber of the slave owner before the first slave revolt made them piss their beds.

By the way, Perkins, ex-husband of novelist Danielle Steele, was once accused of yacht based manslaughter in Europe.  But he got away with just a fine of $10,000. Tip money, actually, for Mr. Perkins. I wonder if that experience was like the Inquisition.

Another Reason Not to Drink Soda

Consumer Reports is warning that many sodas, especially Pepsi have too high levels of a known human carcinogen.

The golden-brown color of many soft drinks comes with a dose of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, or 4-MeI. On U.S. product labels it appears simply as “caramel coloring.”

Those who say the chemical may possibly cause cancer include the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the state of California, which now limits manufacturers to 29 micrograms of exposure for the average consumer per day.

Typically Pepsi was slippery in its response.

In a statement to Consumer Reports, PepsiCo Inc. said data indicate that the average person consumes less than one-third a can of diet soda per day; therefore, its product meets the California standard, even if a complete serving exceeds that limit.

So the average person only has a can of soda every 3 days so we’re all fine. Unless you drink the whole can and then do that again tomorrow. What if you have two cans a day? That would be 6 days worth of cancer batter. One 32 ounce Big Gulp is therefore around 9 days worth. So I’m not that thrilled with their rationale for continuing to drink the stuff.

Jonathan Turley noted:

It certainly makes the company’s “Live For Now” slogan a bit more menacing.

Nebraska – Atheist State Senator Challenges Religious Tax Exemption

Um, I am always heartened when somebody challenges religious tax exemption, especially when they use scripture to do it. But isn’t the lead here that Nebraska has a long standing black atheist state senator?

Nebraska!? The bill may not get anywhere. But just knowing this guy is out there, made my day.

“In short: PAY YOUR TAXES,” Chambers wrote. By passing this bill, legislators would, in effect, be fulfilling scripture, Chambers claimed.

“And this should be one of the easiest bills to pass that I’ve ever offered to the Legislature,” Chambers added.

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Refreshing dress code too.

GOP’s Deep Bench – Mike Huckabee Hits the Rake He Himself Placed on Lawn

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it.”

And it won’t surprise anyone (1) that he’s a hypocrite; and (2) the mighty keyboard commandos are doing their usual projection and asserting the left wing is willfully misinterpreting him.

The fact is, Huckabee didn’t say anything controversial at all. The former Arkansas Governor said that it is Democrats, rather, who infantilize women and treat them as being so stupid and unable to control themselves that they need government to plan out their lives.

It’s all so typical it is to laugh. Please proceed, GOP.

So much energy spent on bullshit, nothing left over for policy

Most days it feels like the entire GOP strategy is to negate the Democrats rather than make a case for themselves. This has pretty much been the case since Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich completely took over the messaging for the party in 1994 after they won back the Congress for the first time in 40 years. To be fair, it was miraculous. 1994 was the first and only time that Americans self-identified as Republicans in commensurate numbers to Democrats. And since then they’ve convinced everyone who doesn’t actually read polls that more people are conservative and there are more Red Team members than Blue Team members (and that’s the way it ought to be by the grace of God).

But Jesus, they didn’t do it the age old way of creating loyal Republicans by creating programs and policies that served people and made those people into grateful lifelong Republicans. No, the Luntz/Gingrich way was to puff ones self up as defenders of western civilization and the American way while denigrating the other side as “bizarre, demented, unAmerican, savages” – actual poll tested terms they used over and over again to characterize Democrats. 

The actual nuts and bolts of utilizing this language was to take something a Democrat said – whether it’s an actual office holder or just a civilian supporter, whether the thing said is actually a meaty policy pronouncement or just an off the cuff remark – and then comment on what was said as if it was a totally outrageous thing to say that should be apologized for by the speaker and denounced by other Democrats in no uncertain terms. 

It’s a pretty straightforwardly manipulative political strategy that got them great traction for 30 years. When utilized by a master of bullshit like Newt Gingrich or Rush Limbaugh it can even be effective in massaging the debate for the low information voter, and the low information media for that matter.  

But it’s lead them down a rabbit hole where the new generation of Republicans that have grown up thinking this is how politics should be have substituted this strategy of concocting outrage over actual public service.

So elected officials all over the country are engaging in this kind of waste of time bullshit:

Colorado Dems endorse welfare recipients using their EBT cards to buy pot. You can’t use welfare or food stamps to buy pot. Nobody thinks that would be a good idea. It’s a silly assertion. But a Republican heard somewhere that people were doing this, was outraged, and decided that legislation was in order – at the very least to make anybody against such legislation look like “bizarre, demented, unAmerican, savages”.  

or 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of NY essentially says that the kind of extreme conservative candidates that could win races in other states could not win in NY and the mighty bullshit Wurlitzer spins that to “conservatives should leave New York” and a week of conservative outrage. Sean Hannity says he might leave NY. It’s all about what they said he said, not what he actually said.

Hilariously, Cal Thomas, one of the whitest and angriest of the legion of angry white males said this in his denunciation of what they believe Cuomo said:  

If either of these statements had been made by a Republican, the reaction from the left would be predictable. There isn’t enough space to list the names that Republicans would be called. At a minimum, there would be demands for an apology and at a maximum calls to resign from office… 

During the Vietnam anti-war protests, conservatives developed a slogan that appeared on some car bumpers: “America: Love it or leave it.” Liberals responded that loving America also meant opposing policies of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, which they believed harmed the country. They were right.

Conservatives were wrong then to suggest people who disagreed with them should leave America and Gov. Cuomo is wrong now when he says — in or out of “context” — there is no place in New York for conservatives who oppose his social and political positions.

So add that to the parade of “things conservatives admit they were wrong about 20 years later, while asserting new things they will have to admit they were wrong about 20 years from now.”