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Scenes From a Teabagger Rally Set to Pasty Cline’s ‘Crazy’

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I love when the interviewer asks one older gentleman, “Where do you get most of your news?” The man responds, “You can’t get it in the meeja because they’re part of the problem.” The interviewer then follows-up with, “So where do you get it?” The man says, “From my neighbor. He gets it off the computer.”

What you are about to see is footage of real interviews with SC Republican voters at a rally in Columbia, hosted by SC Republican Governor Nikki Haley and Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann on April 18, 2011.

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(via Cynical-C)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The Fundamental Injustice That Is Poisoning the Nation
04.20.2011
10:16 pm

Topics:
Class War
Economy
Politics
Thinkers

Tags:

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A guest editorial courtesy of our super smart friend, Charles Hugh Smith. This essay is cross-posted from his essential Of Two Minds blog. Buy his book, Survival+

The guilty are powerful and free, the innocent burdened and oppressed: that is injustice.

There is a fundamental injustice that is poisoning the soul of the nation, and if it is not openly addressed then the nation will face the explosive consequences of institutionalized injustice.

Simply put, it is this: those responsible for the nation’s financial crisis and its catastrophic after-effects are not paying for the consequences of their actions—it is the innocent, those who were not responsible, who are paying the price.

You can call it whatever you want: the Anarchy of the Super-Rich (as per Paul Farrell), the Financial Power Elite, the financial Oligarchy, Plutocracy or Corporatocracy, or the unprecedented concentration of financial wealth and political power in a financialized post-industrial economy. Whatever you call it, we all know this class of financiers and its minions got away with high financial crimes.

Do the crime, do the time—unless it’s “white-collar” financial crime on a vast scale. Then you might pay a wrist-slap fine (a few million dollars from your treasure of embezzled hundreds of millions) and then you’re free to go on your merry way.

The after-effects are not just the losses which can be totalled on a calculator: the really catastrophic losses are to the foundations of democracy and the economy. Democracy has been subverted—oh please, spare us the happy-story propaganda about “reform” and “the system worked”—and the economy has been incentivized to favor poisonously addictive financialization and the shadow institutions of corruption, fraud, embezzlement, favoritism, collusion and misrepresentation of risk. This might be summarized as the protection of vested interests, engineered and overseen by the partnership of the ever more intrusive Central State and the nation’s Financial Power Elite.

The Central State, designed to protect the citizenry from an oppressive monarchy or Elite, now protects this Elite from the citizenry. That is how thoroughly the injustice has been institutionalized.

There is a second part to this fundamental injustice: look who will pay for the bailouts, guarantees and the interest on the borrowed trillions. Not the banks and bankers, to be sure. Who will pay? Those who the Central State can easily tap: taxpayers who earn most of their income from wages, and those politically weak players dependent on government payments.

Now that the bills of the bailout are coming due, the State isn’t going after GE for more taxes. Heavens no—if you try that, the Panzer Division of GE’s tax avoidance army would overrun you. No, the politically easy thing to do is raise taxes on wage earners and trim entitlements, because all the government needs to do is send down the orders and it is done: the taxes are withheld and the bennies trimmed.

To go after the Power Elite is just too difficult. They have the tax attorneys, the lobbyists, the campaign fundraisers, and all the rest.

The U.S. is just a third world kleptocracy on an Imperial scale. I explored the parallels with the Roman Empire in Survival+: the Elites increasingly avoided military service and taxation, the bedrock of Roman power, while the taxes on the middle class rose to such heights that this productive class was basically driven into serfdom. The bottom layer of State dependents was placated and made complicit with bread and circuses—yes, Rome had a vast “welfare state” and much of Rome’s population received free bread to keep them quiet and pliant.

That is of course a road to ruin: let the Elite plunder at will, protected by the Imperial Central State, tax the productive class to fund the armed forces and free bread, and then buy off the lower class with bread and circuses.

The only successful model of reconciliation and justice we have is the “truth commissions” in other post-oppression autocratic kleptocracies. In countries that were deeply divided and poisoned by institutionalized injustice and exploitation, the healing process requires a public, transparent “truth commission” in which the guilty are brought forth to confess their sins against the innocent and face the consequences of their actions.

If a society cannot rouse itself to cleanse the fundamental injustice at the heart of its institutions, then it is effectively choosing self-destruction.

So far, the U.S. is pursuing the Roman Imperial model with an institutional zeal unmatched since Rome’s fall.

Embedded institutional injustice has a price, a price which rises with every passing day of propaganda and prevarication. Some day the bill will come due and a terrible price paid in full. For those in power, the only concern is that it not be today or tomorrow.

Below, Charles Hugh Smith discusses his book Survival +
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Mad Max in America: Our Republican Future?

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This is a guest editorial from Dangerous Minds reader Em, expanding on some pointed commentary he’s made elsewhere on this blog. Em—who’ll keep his last name to himself, thank you very much—works in the financial industry:

We knew we were in trouble when our small private police force left town Tuesday morning. “We’re paid to handle petty crime, not fight a war…we’re outta here!” On the Arizona news and via twitter feeds we knew they were coming: The countless horde of the permanently unemployed, moving northward in a vast caravan consisting of thousands, or some said tens of thousands, raising a cloud of sandy dust that could be spotted for days prior to their arrival. And when they came they’d usually stay a while, knowing that Federal forces were already stretched to the max elsewhere, fighting other well-armed hoards all the way from Sacramento to Pittsburgh. Some of the larger suburbs tried to put up a token resistence, setting up their own laughable Maginot lines that were quickly overrun. This in fact had no practical effect aside from arousing the hoarde to go into a sort of locust mode of raping and pillaging, eventually followed by a mass burning of the town, forcing the survivors to join the hoarde or be left to sit in the burned-out rubble.

Me, I saw this coming. I told them we should pay the protection fee to The Family, which is probably the only Syndicate operating in the part of the country with the guns and trained troops to stop the hordes. But the other townsfolk said that the price they were charging was much too high, higher even that what we used to pay in taxes in the old days. And besides, they said, once you let in The Family, they pretty much take over. Although they do provide some badly needed social services (such as schooling and simple medicine), they end up training the teenagers to join up and become one of them, helping expand their network of gun running and hard drugs. Of course, they sold guns to the hordes in many parts of the country, which worked out well for them because they were the only ones who could stop them. And if a town didn’t pay, then it became a damned good lesson for the other former suburbs in the area. But it’s not like there’s much left of the US government: For all intents and purposes, the Family is the government in this part of the country.

What if most basic services in a society become unavailable to the vast majority of people and are only available to a privileged few? More than that, what if the gap between those that have access to resources and services and those that do not becomes wide enough that no one can cross it? What if everyone realizes that this is the case and, abandoning the old system, align themselves with whatever is available that can provide them and their families to basics such as safety, medical care and basic education? This is, in fact, what we’ve seen in countries from Afghanistan, but could it happen in the United States?

In the May Vanity Fair, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Steiglitz writes about “Of the 1% by the 1% for the 1%”. One fact he points out is that the upper 1% of the most wealthy Americans now own 40% of the wealth. If that number appears shocking, it should. It’s an indication that a vast separation has occurred. This vast separation is not merely in terms of who has what stuff right now. It’s not merely a static picture. What it really means, as Steiglitz discusses in the article, is that the vast majority of Americans now no longer have access to the tools necessary for them to create new wealth and thus gain access to basic services. What it also means is that those who control the resources will continue to do so so in order to accumulate more resources, without regard for leaving the bridge to socio-economic mobility open. Instead, what we see through right-wing politics and pseudo-economics is that the tiny fraction of the wealthiest people are utilizing that wealth so as to burn the few remaining bridges and remove basic services from the hands of the so-called ‘have nots’ (which will soon be practically all of the remaining 99%).

In olden times a little lopsided wealth distribution wasn’t necesarily a bad thing: If everyone is getting wealthier, the theory goes, then the upper class will continue to expand as it becomes populated with more people who have crossed the bridge from the middle class. This group may also become wealthier, but in such a context (ie, of a healthy economy that is expanding without incurring additional debt), this is arguably a good thing and it is, perhaps, one of the few valid points emanating from the right in times past.

But that argument no longer holds in the US. Although the housing bubble made it seem as if the standard of living was rising, it was in reality just treading water while the Fed was artificially juicing up the economy through a few very limited channels while putting everyone into debt. While we borrowed and flipped houses and borrowed and flipped again, big business was busy selling the real economy out from under us. Not only did factories move to China, even whole service industries were moving to India and elsewhere as a result of “free trade” agreements. These agreements in effect forced unionized employees to compete with third world wage slaves, who toil 60 hour work weeks in dangerous factories that belch unregulated hydrocarbons into the gray skies. Terrorized at the prospect of joining the legions of the unemployed (who have no health care and crumbling schools), private-sector workers gladly conceded most if not all of their hard-won union rights in exchange for the promise of continued employment, albeit at lesser wages. That promise, of course, was a lie.

As the economy empties out, as the few remaining unions are dismantled and factories shipped overseas, as fewer and fewer services are available to working families for them to stay healthy and educate their children, it is inevitable that people will align themselves with whomever can provide them and their families with opportunities and basic human services as the government fails to do so. This is, in general, the very definition of a failed state, and it is not unreasonable to believe that it could happen here, in the US. Although a small number of people can tolerate poverty, will tens of millions just roll over and die, particularly when they know that the services exist somewhere?

That such a process is already well underway in our neighbor to our south, Mexico, should cause to tread very carefully before we proceed any further down the path that the Republicans so clearly want to take us. It’s no accident that poverty has remained an intractable problem in Mexico: Unempowered and ununionized workers are basically just wage slaves with little or nothing left to pour back into the local economy. Profits go to a mixture of the locally wealthy oligarchs and, of course, to the bottom lines of the big multinationals headquartered north of the border. As time has gone on, the local populace has fully recognized that all of their suffering and hard work will continue to do nothing to raise the standard of living for their families and country as a whole. As they continue to abandon faith in their economic system, they have increasingly cooperated with La Familia and a number of other powerful, drug-moving cartels. Since these cartels are moving capital from North of the border to South and providing basic services to people that have previously had no access, is it impossible to imagine them ‘branching out’, so to speak, north of the border and beginning to offer a similar ‘deal’ to the economically abandoned in the US?

Perhaps even more dangerous is how these cartels currently gain access to weapons: They get them from the US. Like a big corporate merger, then, won’t it make sense in the very near future for these groups, both north and south of the border, to begin to align themselves and thereby gain more power? Do we know that this hasn’t begun to occur already? Look carefully: In towns from Arizona to the Dakotas, we’ll begin to see pro-gun candidates carefully selected by the avante gard of the Cartels. Look also for the sudden an mysterious dissappearence or death of pro-labor candidates, along with large amounts of cash pouring in from unknown sources to counteract marijuana legalization.

In the end, yeah, the US debt is a bad thing. We need to get it down. Anyone with a brain has probably figured this out. But to burn the very bridges to social mobility and wealth creation that were an inherent part of the 20th century emergence of the US as the world’s economic powerhouse is suicide, and the wasteland that the Walkers and Bachmanns want to unleash on us all will be ugly indeed.

About the author: Em was a founding member (with John Cale and others) of the New York punk band Doppler Effect in the early 1980s. After living in China in the late 80s, Em worked in the physics and electrical engineering space until 2002, at which time he moved into the financial world. In July, Em returned to the US after having lived in London since 2006 and is a member of the UMOUR art/event collective. He blogs at The Magic Lantern, his"litterbox of the soul.”

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The Manufacture of the Tea Party

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Winner of the Ultimate Teabagger Challenge: ‘Pot Smoking Neo Marxists’

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This guy takes the cake. And it’s a wedding cake that will serve a thousand guests. Give a round of applause to the BEST Teabagger I’ve yet seen… this guy!

He never really shows this sign to the camera completely, but you can see that the word “Hitler” is written on it. 

They give that nobody Joe the Plumber his own webs series? Sign this guy up, He’s an inadvertent comedic genius! The non-thinking man’s Michael Savage!...
 

 
Via Wonkette

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Take This Hammer: James Baldwin tours black San Francisco in 1963

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In the spring of 1963, San Francisco poet, documentarian, and media activist Richard Moore accompanied and filmed author James Baldwin and Youth For Service Executive Director Orville Luster on a tour through the black-majority Bayview/Hunter’s Point and Fillmore districts of San Francisco. They sought to portray the real experience of African-Americans in what was considered America’s most liberal city.

That outing would result in Take This Hammer, and the footage of it was shot at a crucial time in Baldwin’s life. After 15 years in exile in Paris, the Harlem-born writer was back in the States at the peak of his renown and with political fire in his eyes. His turbulent novels from the ‘50s—especially Go Tell It on the Mountain and Another Country—had stunned the literary world with their exposure of racism and deeply developed queer characters.

During the same spring in which Take This Hammer was shot, Baldwin published the rather incredible essay Down at the Cross, and ended up on the cover of Time. That summer, he’d end his tour of the American South at the March on Washington with a quarter-million of his fellow Americans, with many other celebrities.

Baldwin’s observations certainly set The City’s white lib establishment into fits: “There is no moral distance ... between the facts of life in San Francisco and the facts of life in Birmingham. Someone’s got to tell it like it is. And that’s where it’s at.” Unfortunately, as seen in documents like Kevin Epps’s 2001 doc Straight Outta Hunter’s Point, not much has changed in SF over the generations…
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Baldwin, Brando, Belafonte, Poitier, Mankiewicz and Heston talk Civil Rights, 1963

Posted by Ron Nachmann | Leave a comment
Teabagger metaphor: Half a fry short of a Value Meal (seriously)

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I laughed to myself the other day when I saw longtime Republican pollster/spinmeister Frank Luntz on one of the cable news outlets—probably Fox News, but I can’t recall—giving some GOP talking points a dry run.

Not that he was exactly trying anything new, or innovating. In the context of the budget battle, Obama’s speech and the DOA “Ryan plan” etc., Luntz merely trotted out the by-now familiar threadbare Republican shuck and jive routine about how American families understand that you can’t live beyond your means and that the only remedy for that would be to tighten belts, stop living on credit cards and pay off debts. And the Ryan plan is going to achieve this in Washington by blah blah blah. I don’t even know why he bothered to finish his thought, he just should have said “blah, blah, blah” and everyone still would have understood what exactly he meant, anyway. Who cares? Who gives a shit? We’ve heard this all before, ten thousand times… Enough.

It’s too predictable. Too rote. Too by the numbers. Too old-fashioned. Shtick. The Republican orthodoxy is over-exposed. Transparently obvious. People are sick of hearing it, and when they are forced to listen to it over and over and over again ad infinitum on Fox News and elsewhere, what might have sounded like simple down home “common sense” when Ronald Reagan said it, just sounds like disingenuous bullshit in 2011. Bullshit being dished out, in most instances by mean-looking old white guys on the tee-vee talking about lowering the nation’s prospects, en masse, of living out old age with dignity, in favor of still more tax cuts for the top 1%. The problem with this simplistic focus group-tested “homespun” GOP messaging stuff is that no one buys it anymore except for the very least sophisticated characters amongst us, i.e. the real Republican base: The Dummies.

Republicans need some new material. Badly. With Donald Trump in the race it’s going to take a turn for the “even dumber.” It’s bad not just for them, but for everybody. (Everybody except Obama… and Donald Trump, of course, who is playing everyone, or thinks he is. He wins no matter what!)

A short item that ran on Wonkette, I think, sums up just how stupid the “Republican message” is getting to sound to… the rest of us, when the latest gloss on their talking points goes something like this… Quoting from Team Sarah:

The $60 billion that the Republicans wanted to cut from spending (simple cuts, not “reductions in rates”) was to the Federal Budget what 1/2 of a French Fry would be to a Big Mac Value Meal (medium size). That’s right, 1/2 of a fry. So why did the Dems manage to get the Republicans to cut that down to $38 billion? Do you realize what that amounts to in the same Value Meal? 1/4 of a French Fry. That’s the equivalent amount of calories in the Big Mac Value Meal that the $38 billion represents in terms of government spending. Think about that the next time you get a Value Meal (of any kind) at the fast food drive-thru.

I certainly shall!

Sarah Palin herself has always seemed “one fry short of a Happy Meal” to me—a whole fry, mind you, not half of one—but even accounting for the bottomless pit appetite for the regurgitation of ludicrously simplistic talking points on the right, this is a new, groan-worthy, anti-intellectual low. Even coming from her blinkered camp. Why wouldn’t someone conclude that the Teabaggers are idiots after reading the kinds of… uh… fucking idiocy they espouse?

I mean who can take a metaphor about a Value Meal seriously?

It’s obvious: Dummies.

Below, pro-labor demonstrators nearly drown out Sarah Palin as she screeches nonsense addressing the Tea party faithful some dummies in Madison, WI, on April 15th. She tells them to fight for America, to take their country back and blah, blah, blah…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Hey Facebook: What’s SO wrong about a pic of two men kissing?
04.16.2011
02:07 pm

Topics:
Belief
Hysteria
Politics
Queer

Tags:

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This is perplexing. And annoying. And infuriating.

I woke up this morning to an email from Facebook with the subject “Facebook Warning”:

“Hello,

Content that you shared on Facebook has been removed because it violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Shares that contain nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content, are not permitted on Facebook.

This message serves as a warning. Additional violations may result in the termination of your account. Please read the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities carefully and refrain from posting abusive material in the future. Thanks in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

The Facebook Team”

Ah…yeah… it seems that the sight of two fully-clothed men kissing was too much for Facebook, or too much for some closet-case asshole (Hi Jerry! Remind me why you and I are “friends” again? I sure didn’t ask to be yours, pal…) who complained about it. The photo appeared here on Dangerous Minds in the context of Niall’s post about the “kiss in” demonstration that was cooked up, ironically ON FACEBOOK ITSELF, in London to protest against the rude treatment two gay patrons experienced at a pub called The John Snow. The two men, Jonathan Williams, 26, and Jamie Bull, 23 were sitting in a corner kissing when the owner asked them to leave. Over 750 people signed up for the protest.

Oh, WAIT A MINUTE, I went to check on the Facebook page that organized The John Snow pub protest... and it’s gone, too.

WTF, FB?

I’ve written to Facebook asking them why this content was removed, but have at this point received no reply. I’ll update this post when I do. In the meantime, why not share this photo on FB as much as you can? I’m hoping they’ll restore the post as it was so everyone can pile on the jerk who wrote all the homophobic stuff on my FB wall. I think that’s the best outcome here, Jerry getting a taste of his own medicine…

In any case, the protest went off last night against The John Snow pub, with protesters chanting “We’re here, we’re queer and we won’t buy your beer.” You can see the BBC News report here.

Thank you and have a great weekend. Join Dangerous Minds on Facebook.

UPDATE:

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(Thanks for this, Robyn Webb!)
 
UPDATE: 4/18/2011 This was sent in to the comments below:

Paul Shetler says:

Hey I just saw this. Before it goes too far, I just want people to know that FB have NOT removed the kiss-in event page; it’s still there, but _I made the event private after the event_ was over and only visible to those who had been invited as there were starting to be trolls posting abusive nonsense on it.

That’s pathetic, but predictable. However, it still doesn’t explain why Facebook removed the Dangerous Minds post from my profile, of course, with the warning that I had posted “abusive” material. Still waiting for that. I’ve heard nothing thus far from them. Will update again when I have heard from them.

UPDATE: 4/18/2011 Please read our follow up post on this story, which deals with some misreported facts on other news outlets.

UPDATE: 4/19/2001 Read Richard Metzger: How I, a married, middle-aged man, became an accidental spokesperson for gay rights overnight on Boing Boing

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Congressional Pandemonium: House GOP almost votes for radical budget!
04.15.2011
04:53 pm

Topics:
Class War
Current Events
Politics
Stupid or Evil?

Tags:

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Have you seen the footage of House Republicans scrambling to change their votes on the conservative Republican Study Committee budget, yet? If not, press play and watch 30 seconds of complete idiot GOP pandemonium courtesy of House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) who dished this out like a master prankster.

When Hoyer got wind that the Republicans were going to hold a vote on the budget plan, he hatched a scheme to dupe the GOP (who would normally count on Democrats to defeat a bill this extreme) and hang this draconian budget—one even more severe than the one proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (you know, the one with the REAL death panels)—around their necks. The RSC amendment would have banned earmarks, raised the retirement age and prevented any new tax increases!

It almost worked, as you can see from the not so “candid camera” video below.

Hoyer told Brian Breutler at TPM:

“I thought to myself the Republican leadership is probably thinking we’re going to defeat it for them,” Hoyer told me in a phone interview Friday. “I said to myself I’m not interested in seeing that happen. I want the Republicans to show what they believe. And if a majority of them believe that that’s the kind of budget [they want] the American people need to know that.”

The RSC is a very large bloc of conservative Republican House members. They introduced a 10-year plan for America that makes the already far-reaching House budget look fairly moderate. It was supposed to be a symbolic vote—one that allowed conservative members to go on the record in support of slashing $9 trillion in spending knowing full well it would never be adopted as the official position of the House and the Republican Party. Hoyer figured them out.

“I also knew that if we telegraphed that early, they would obviously try to anticipate it, work their caucus early,” he said. “As a result I did not have a whip meeting on this—I did discuss it with the Leader [Nancy Pelosi], I discussed it with the Democratic leadership. I told them it was my plan. And they were all for that.”

If he’d briefed his caucus on the tactic days ahead of the vote, word might have leaked. So he gave them just about five minutes notice.

“Then today, I had a meeting with my senior whip team, assigned them around the floor, and then just before the vote…we sent out an email to the BlackBerrys of our members saying that a). we want you to vote late, b). we want to vote present,” Hoyer explained. “And then on the floor, my whips explained to members why we were doing that.”

That led to the chaos on the House floor late Friday morning. With almost all Democrats voting present, Republicans realized they were about to accidentally pass a plan that was too politically radioactive even to them. So they pressed several of their own members—including Reps. David Dreier (R-CA), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA), Buck McKeon (R-CA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)—to switch their votes from yes to no. Indeed, when they realized what the Dems were up to, Republicans managed to flip just as many votes as they’d need to kill the RSC plan, even if every Democrat voted “present.” Only 15 Democrats declined to switch their votes from “no” to “present.” The plan failed by 16 votes.

“We got a lot of them to change, not every one of them to change,” Hoyer said. Those who didn’t, including several Blue Dogs wouldn’t budge. “There were a variety of reasons. I think some have tough races. Some said they’d never voted present. I was disappointed that they did not follow what I think was a strategy to highlight the position of the Republican Party.”

Now that Republicans are wise to the maneuver, they might think twice before they put symbolic conservative measures on the floor. If they’re not more careful, they’ll fall into the same trap.

“It depends on whether they continue to offer policies that are clearly inconsistent with the American mainstream,” Hoyer reasoned. “If they continue to do that their members are either going to have to decide early that they’re going to have to vote against those policies, or they’re going to be back in that position.”

So good to see the Democrats beating these knuckleheads back at long last. Between this and Obama’s excellent and feisty speech (a speech “worthy of a President, “as E.J. Dionne, Jr. put it in the Washington Post) Obama and the Democrats have really closed my enthusiasm gap this week. I didn’t think that was going to be possible.

Update: The GOP-controlled House has passed the Ryan 2012 budget (which will be DOA in the Senate anyway) with only Republicans voting for it. (Four GOP members voted no and there were zero Democratic votes). These bastards own it now… Read more at Politico.
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Mock the Dummy takes on Donald Trump

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Mock the Dummy absolutely ream Donald Trump in their latest video and it’s a doozy. Using Trump’s own words fashioned as a blunt instrument they then take to the side of his head, the dummy Trump’s lines below come mostly from an ill-advised letter that the (real life) dummy Trump sent in a grammatically-challenged letter to the New York Times complaining about something Gail Collins had written about him there (see “Donald Trump Gets Weirder,” New York Times, April 1, 2011).

Donald Trump, in the latest poll I’ve seen, is now up a full 9 points higher than the rest of the Republican field.

This asshole? Against Obama? It’s just amazing isn’t it?

Election 2012 is going to play out like a ridiculously awesome reality/comedy show.  A breathtaking Republican freakshow. There is no way that it can be avoided!