Congress

By Kasson

This marks the 209th school shooting since Columbine in April 1999. That’s about once a month for the last 19 years. 163rd since Virginia Tech in April 2007, once every 3.5 weeks for almost 11 years. It’s the 114th since Sandy Hook in December 2012, once every 2.5 weeks for 5 straight years. And it is the 7th in 2018, once a week.

What are the only 2 major pieces of gun legislation since Columbine in 1999? In 2004 the Assault Weapons Ban was allowed to expire, and in 2005 Congress passed a law preventing gun manufacturers from being sued for negligence. That’s it. That’s the sum total Congress has done regarding gun legislation.

What will it take for meaningful reform to slow down these shootings? We all know the answer; no action will be taken. If nothing was done when 15 were killed at Columbine, or when 33 were killed at Virginia Tech, or when 20 first graders and 8 others were slaughtered in Newtown, CT; nothing will be done now that at least 17 were killed in Florida.

When a bump-stock to effectively turn a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic rifle was used in Las Vegas to kill 58 and injure 851, legislators on both sides of the aisle came out FOR common sense laws banning that loophole. Yet five months later, no action has been taken.

Solving this is going to take comprehensive reform. It is going to take better healthcare to treat mental illness. It is going to take society destigmatizing mental illness. And it is going to take common sense gun laws to prevent the most dangerous weapons from legally reaching the hands of the most dangerous people in our society.

—-

One final note, in no longer so hushed racial undertones blacks, and Mexicans, and Muslims are blamed for the violence in this country. By and large these school shootings (and mass shootings in general) are done by white middle to upper-class students and adults with legally acquired weapons.

Notice how it is always mental illness when it is performed by white middle class Americans, but if a crime is committed by someone who is black, or Muslim, or Mexican, or atheist, it is their race or creed that is at fault. People don’t want to believe that someone like them can commit atrocities so it is always something else to blame, and they choose the most obvious difference from their views, or actions, or looks, and when there is nothing left only then does it shift to mental illness.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_shootings_in_the_United_States
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_law_in_the_United_States

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By Wink

I live in a not-distant zip code from one sensationally rich person – Warren Buffett.

Mr. Buffett, his family, and any of the other of the super-wealthy will benefit an enormous amount from the recent tax cuts enacted by Congress.

When Congress tells you the tax changes are to benefit you, or will create high paying jobs, they know differently. They are not being disingenuous, they are lying. They do not care about you. They never have, except to get your vote.

Despite calling themselves ‘conservatives’ they are happy to send the U.S. budget another ONE AND ONE HALF TRILLION DOLLARS into debt, transferring this money to their rich donors, to get re-elected.

What does Warren Buffett feel about this? Well, he is still optimistic about the future of the U.S., but he has concerns about which direction the money is going.

Says Buffett: “The challenge will be to have this bounty deliver a better life to the disrupted as well as the disrupters, and on this matter many Americans are justifiably worried.”

He feels the American economic boom has left millions of hardworking citizens “stuck on an economic treadmill,” hopelessly behind as the economy and jobs become more specialized.

In the meanwhile, the wealth of the top 400 families has gone from $93 billion in 1982 to $2.7 trillion today, a 29-fold increase.

Of this, Buffett says: “During this period, this tsunami of wealth didn’t trickle down, it surged upward. These devastating side effects can be ameliorated.”

Speaking both literally and metaphorically, he says: “A rich family takes care of all of its children, not just those with talents valued by the marketplace.”

“In the years of growth that certainly lie ahead, I have no doubt that America can both deliver riches to many and a decent life to all. We must not settle for less.”

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By Wink

Which lobby makes House members and Senators dance the most? The gun lobby. Many Democratic Senators and Congressmen, and virtually ALL Republican officeholders are in the pocket of the Big Gun lobby.

Let us examine.

At an Orlando (Fla) dance club 100+ people are murdered or injured in a horrific shooting by a lunatic homophobe who claims to be representing ISIS terrorists.

In response, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has re-introduced an earlier bill to keep people on a government terrorism watch list, or other suspected terrorists, from buying guns.

The Republican response, here represented by Sen. John Corwin (R-Tex): Make suspected terrorists wait 72 hours to purchase weapons.

To repeat. Terrorists would have to wait 72 hours to get guns.

Problem solved!

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By Wink

The argument that private citizens should have larger and larger gun magazines to protect themselves from the U.S. government is a movie fantasy.

The world-wide trend over the last few hundred years, and started right here in America, has been more and more countries turning toward democracy.

Democracy requires leadership to step down when voted out or when a designated term expires. Don’t like your leaders? Vote them out!

This is not what gun sellers want you to believe. They sell a dystopian drama every day, that the U.S. is turning into a fascist state. That someday you will have to kill government troops to preserve your freedom.

This is ridiculous.

Here is one of their specious examples of creeping fascism: “China and other backward countries have strict gun control laws.” They imply that gun control laws bring us closer to being like China.

This is classic twisted logic. It is not the gun control laws that made China a dictatorship, and gun control laws will not turn the U.S. into China. China was an empire/dictatorship before guns were invented.

Slowly, slowly, China, and most of the rest of the world, is pointed toward democracy. Doubt it if you will, but this is the tide of the human will, and even the mighty Chinese government is fighting a losing battle. Little by little they relent, including now allowing some free market enterprise.

Meanwhile, democratic countries everywhere have adopted much stricter gun control laws than anything you can find in America. The citizens of these countries (Japan, Sweden and England come to mind), are under no threat to lose their voting privileges. Leaders of these countries routinely leave office without a fuss.

Like the gun lobby, I have no proof of cause and effect, but… limited weapon ownership in these ‘gun-control’ countries has not caused decreased democracy, so maybe the lack of firepower has increased democracy! A crazy idea, right?

It is not as crazy as thinking ‘guns cause freedom.’

Of course, there is an ebb and flow to the rights of private citizens. This is why everybody, especially conservatives, should support the ACLU. They protect private citizens from government overreach.

Despite the ebb and flow, maybe because of the ebb and flow, the tide of democracy is inevitable, and doesn’t require guns…

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All I am really saying is that it would be nice to reduce the number of congressmen or kindergarteners or moviegoers that one nutcase can kill without at least having to reload.

Since these mass killings happen every year, we can more reasonably assume this outcome (a murderous rampage by someone with massive ammo clips) than the loopy paranoid view that America will suddenly stop being democratic.

—————

Keep buying your guns. The manufacturers have succeeded in convincing you that the pistol in your nightstand is more likely to harm a burglar than it is to kill your child or grandchild.

Build your bunkers, buy your supplies and keep imagining ‘the government’ is out to get you. Nothing I could say would stop you anyhow.

And the gun makers laugh and laugh and laugh…

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By Wink

The U.S. House of Representatives has always had its share of dimwits… always. They don’t call it the ‘lower chamber’ for nothing.

The Senate was originally the ‘upper crust’ of society. They were educated. They were landowners… people of stature. To a great extent, they still are.

The House of Representatives? Eh – not so much. Commoners, ‘normal’ people…

Michele Bachmann (MN) and Louie Gohmert (TX) are ‘normal’ in spades. No extraordinary thought synapses going on here…

Each has made a career of loony paranoid accusations. These two have little to fear though. ‘Loony’ works well in their districts, and they are sure to be reelected this year. Re-election and death are about the only two options for members of Congress. (The rare, third option, is to resign in disgrace, as Anthony Wiener discovered.)

And so it is that Bachmann and Gohmert join together in their most recent loopy accusation, now alleging that long-time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, has three family members connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ugh. Another witch-hunt, much like the ‘birth certificate’ episode. Joe McCarthy would be proud. Feel free to read this for detail on why this is just another Bachmann / Gohmert fantasy.

I do find it curious, though, that these ‘patriots’ only seem find conspiracies among the Democrats. They never seem to find uncomfortable facts among their GOP colleagues. Hmmmm.

This episode reminds me of the Texas politician who, many decades ago, campaigned all over rural Texas declaring that his opponent was an ‘admitted homosapian.’  The politician wasn’t confused, he knew what homosapian meant, but he was counting on the ignorance of his audience to make this ‘evil’ seem real.

As P.T. Barnum tried to teach us, you can never aim too low…

Like Senator McCarthy in the 50’s, Bachmann and Gohmert are always hoping and praying to find some sort of conspiracy, be it communist or Muslim or socialist or…whatever…

Further evidence that there is no IQ test to be a member of Congress.

A tip of the hat to John McCain, who was among the first to declare these accusations to be bogus.

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By Wink

You know, I have never been much of a conspiracy guy. When I hear about Area 51, the Bermuda triangle or the Kennedy assassination, I get bored, because the ‘theories’ about them are pretty much the same as reality TV – not real. (Okay, I like the idea that maybe Lincoln really did hunt vampires.)

But there is one ‘conspiracy’ we can all believe in: Conservatives want fewer and fewer people to vote. They want to leave all the decision-making in the hands of the people who are pretty much making all the decisions right now – the very wealthy.

There are two obvious prongs to the efforts to limit voting:

Overt: Create new rules to make it harder to vote. Republicans have done this in many states. There is the additional effort, in Florida, to remove people who are already registered voters.

The overt methods are despicable, but understandable if grabbing power is more important than maintaining a legitimate democracy.

The other way to reduce the number of voters is more subtle, but sadder……

Disillusion the Electorate: Dissuade people from voting. Make as many people as possible not even want to vote. Make them all have the same dismal thought.. ”It is no use. My vote counts for precious little and Congress never gets anything done anyway.”

Nowadays, that is actually true. Since taking over the House in 2010 the GOP has essentially shut down the American government.

They got elected by promising jobs, and have spent the last two years doing nothing about jobs. Not only have they not acted on jobs, they haven’t even proposed anything to decrease joblessness. No action. None.

That was the plan all along. Follow the prescribed talking points, get elected, then ignore all you said and simply lock up the government.

Republicans would tell you that squashing all of Obama’s proposals is taking a principled stand, but what they are really doing is shirking their duty. They have no concept of the word ‘governance.’

To govern is to act. When we are in a recession the government has a duty to act, but not for the current crop of GOP-ers.

On the national level, the GOP only has two acceptable items, two items on which they will ‘act’…

  1. Aid the wealthy
  2. Prevent the passage of any item proposed by Barack Obama, so they then refocus on point #1.

(On the state level, the GOP has only one item – abortion.)

All else Republicans say is smoke. Any talk of jobs, or balancing the budget, or ‘values’ (whatever that means) is just smoke.

All efforts are to provide more wealth to the already wealthy, and any other verbiage is just to get re-elected.

Obama tried, repeatedly, to compromise. He has negotiated in good faith. He has even proposed Republican ideas.

How foolish of him.

In order to regain power, the GOP hoped gas prices would rise. They prayed the economy would tank. In the absence of either of those, they are now trying to sell the idea that the economy has stagnated, and that Obama lacks the leadership skills needed to fix these problems.

Republicans question Obama’s leadership? There is not a single GOP member of the House who ‘leads.’ Each one is lead, by the nose, by conservative think tanks. They are a lock-step set of drones who dare not deviate from the assigned talking points, let alone come up with their own ideas or (heaven forbid!) try to work with the Democrats.

Leaders lead. They problem-solve, they do not ‘problem-create.’

And the populous becomes more disillusioned.

And the conservative think-tankers smile…

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By Wink

The Democrat-led Senate passed a two month extension to our current payroll tax cuts, and then went home for Christmas.

The Republican-controlled House chose NOT to vote on it, and then went home for Christmas.

Not voting means the tax will increase effective January 1.

The new-age GOP plays zero-sum politics. All of their efforts, on every topic, are designed to defeat the president, or at least to make him look bad.

They won control of the house in 2010 by promising jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs.

All of their efforts in the two years hence have been to further limit access to abortions, to limit health care to only those who can afford it, and to give tax breaks to the already-wealthy.

They have done nothing, made zero effort, to create jobs. So the ‘jobs’ talk was all smoke. All lies.

More jobs would probably reflect well on Obama, so no effort is made to create jobs.

It has come to the point where the GOP cannot even vote for a tax cut.

Anything that President Obama supports must be defeated, even a proposal to support lower taxes on working Americans.

This is a payroll tax.  This means that people who work for a living will be getting a tax increase.

A tax increase.  Dictated by the Republican party.

Who is the ‘never raise tax’ party?

Correction: Who CLAIMS to be the ‘never raise tax’ party?   Republicans.

If this tax cut was designed to benefit millionaires and billionaires, the Boehner-led Republicans would have stampeded everything in their path to pass it.

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By Wink

Do you think I am full of it? It is okay if you do. Conservatives who read Winkest Link will point out how I am always railing about how the GOP seems to be off base on a number of issues. Maybe I am just a liberal wacko.

I don’t think of myself as a liberal wacko. I don’t even think of myself as especially liberal at all. I believe in the free market and a strong military. I believe America is a uniquely outstanding country.

I am liberal on some things, conservative on others. I try to let facts and logic dictate which views I take. I try (really) to leave emotion out of my decision-making.

Regular liberal readers might be disappointed in how conservative I can be on certain issues.

I don’t ‘like’ taxes. In that way I am conservative. I do, however, understand why tax is necessary: To maintain an orderly society, we need a strong central government, which requires tax. We need good roads and bridges. We need to educate our children. We need military and police and firefighters to protect us.

So we need tax.

In a pure economic sense there are times to lower corporate tax rates, and there are times to raise them.

Many conservatives, and especially teabaggers, hate tax. They don’t believe there is EVER a good time to raise tax. Naturally they accept the fallacy that all corporate tax just falls back on to the consumer.

The GOP, as it is currently constituted, preaches only one tax theory: Lower taxes create more jobs. The more money corporations have, the more they share!

Nope. Sometimes corporations just have more money than they know what to do with. Let us test the theory…

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in the second quarter of 2011 American Corporations made $1.94 trillion in profits. Record profits.

That number is not operating expense. It is not gross income. It is profit. And that amount is after tax. (It is also after unimaginable executive salaries, and after those ‘horrible’ union wages.)

I repeat: $1.94 trillion profit after tax. Record profits. So apparently the tax they pay is not such a horrible drain.

BUT, the unemployment rate did not improve. Why? Because ‘More jobs’ is not a corporate goal. ‘More money’ is the only goal. And they already have more money than they know what to do with.

If making profits created jobs, we would be swimming in jobs right now.

So, if the corporations refuse to hire, now is the time for the government to do it. Private industry is sitting on trillions of dollars. (Remember, the $1.94 trillion profit mentioned above is for ONE QUARTER.)

Time to raise the corporate tax rate and/or remove loopholes.

This will help our whole economy. Bridges and roads are in desperate need of repair. We need more teachers and more police. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. These are jobs that will create more jobs.

Notably, this will also help the industries that are being taxed. People with jobs will buy the products/services they produce. More jobs help everybody, even the wealthy!

————————

But let us, for a moment, take the Republican technique, and apply it to the 2nd quarter. Instead of $1.94 trillion profit, let’s say taxes were lower and these companies netted $2.5 trillion profit. Would that have created more jobs?

Rhetorical Answer: Why didn’t $1.94 trillion profit create more jobs? What difference would another half a trillion make?

It just becomes more and more profit, not more and more jobs.

Obviously more profit does NOT equal more jobs. These companies already have MORE PROFIT. More than ever. Ever.

Republicans (except for the stupider among them) know this. They just use the phrase ‘more jobs’ to convince you to give more money to the already wealthy.

———————–

When companies are struggling, taxes should be lowered. When companies are robust (and ‘robust’ does not begin to describe $1.94 trillion profit in three months time) we have to look at the big picture.

Big-picture circumstances have now converged to swing to pro-tax.

  • Companies are flush
  • Unemployment is high
  • Infrastructure has aged to a dangerous point

Lowering tax will fix none of America’s problems.

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By Wink

Is it cynical to think the GOP is happy about our ongoing recession?

Are their actions based on total cluelessness, or is this intentional?

What Americans need are jobs. The last thing the GOP seems to care about is jobs.

Putting people to work would …

  • Take them off unemployment (which saves money)
  • Fix failing infrastructure, like bridges and roads
  • Increase the tax base (income, after all, is taxable)
  • Create tumble-down jobs (remember, people who have money, spend money. And those at the lowest income levels tend to spend ALL their money, just to pay bills and buy necessities.)
  • The tumble-down jobs create additional jobs. And so on.

Oh, Republicans TALK about jobs, but their only ‘method’ is to give tax breaks to the wealthy. There is no historical scientific evidence that shows giving money to the rich will create jobs. (Yes, we know how much Republicans hate science.)

Do you think the Teabaggers have some really good ideas? Here is a quote from a Republican, Allan Sloan (an admitted moderate):

“Some policies and statements you hear from Tea Party types about the economy and the debt markets are utterly insane. Any competent economics instructor would give you an F if you asserted the same sort of nonsense on an exam.”

Do yourself a favor and read his whole article, which is from the September 5, 2011 issue of Fortune.

I forgive the Teabaggers. They genuinely have no idea what they are doing. Their credo, tax = bad, is mindless drivel, but at least they are stupid enough to believe it.

Republican leaders in Congress, on the other hand, know better. They are just trying to corral Teabagger votes to maintain a majority in the House. (Subtle warning to the GOP: If you allow one cockroach in your house, you will end up with a LOT of cockroaches in your house.)

Republicans must feel the only way they can beat Obama is if the economy gets even worse. They need unemployment to remain high, and are hoping to ride public anger/frustration into a takeover of the White House in 2012. A horribly unhappy America may just vote to oust the incumbent, even though it is the GOP that is causing this mess…

They cut benefits for the sick, the poor and the elderly, maintain tax cuts for the extremely wealthy, and do nothing to create jobs. This should stir even more public distrust of our government.

Since he is the head of that government, let’s blame Obama for the poor shape we are in!

You know what? They are partly right. Obama and the Dems are the minority in the House, but they should still have the courage to fight for what they know is right and what is good for America.

They don’t fight. No courage. How sad.

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By Wink

 

Dinking around, delaying raising the debt ceiling, has cost us money. The U.S. taxpayer is now on the hook for $1.7 billion that we never would have owed had we simply acted more timely to do something we were going to do anyway….

I told you so. Economists told you so.  This was not a prediction, it was a fact.

Teabaggers turned a simple housekeeping maneuver into a civil war. I would say they didn’t care about the consequences, but ‘care’ is not accurate. ‘Care’ would imply they knew what they were doing.

Teabaggers don’t know what they are doing. They don’t know government, They don’t know economics. They don’t know history.

They are, by definition, morons.

They fuss about ‘taxpayer money’ because the one thing they DO know is that they hate paying tax.

I repeat….. one-point-seven-billion-dollars.  This should be called ‘Teabagger Tax.’

They could read the link attached to this article and STILL not get it.  Most of them don’t believe photo proof of the president’s birth certificate, so why would they believe this needless delay would cost the taxpayer $1.7 billion?

By leveraging the threat of the nation’s first-ever default, they crushed Obama into accepting trillions of dollars in spending cuts. This is no way to pull out of a recession. Obama knew it, but he caved anyway. Anything to avoid defaulting and REALLY screwing up the U.S. economy.

Teabaggers don’t seem to know this or care.

We are NOT overtaxed. This country is at a 50-year LOW for tax collected to GNP.

The lack of tax income is one reason we are horribly in debt.

Remember, when Clinton was the president the wealthy were paying two percent (2%) more, and we were running surpluses and paying down our debt. ‘W’ and a Republican congress gave all of that away to the wealthiest. They flushed the surplus and, ultimately, the economy.

So what now?

The new budget cuts will do nothing to help the economy. In fact, a second recession is likely. Unemployment, already high, may get worse. The unemployed/underemployed pay little to no tax, further exacerbating a poor economy. .

If you are unemployed or underemployed, expect to stay that way. Make sure to thank the GOP, and specifically the teabaggers. Their ignorance is costing you, and America.

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