what’s the difference?

by problembear

i come into contact with lots of people of all political persuasions- some are independent like me, some republicans, some democrats…..

they all ask the same question when it is time to vote- invariably for either a democrat or a republican…

what’s the difference?

it seems like all politicians are beholden to those who support their campaigns and to those who donate to their political re-election war chests. it is confusing to most people and it makes them angry to be taken for granted by either party. so who is listening to the needs of the people who elect them?

Health Care Reform:

the people want affordable health care with choices. democrats gave them more of the same old thing only worse- under a weak reform written by health insurers, the health insurers are raising rates and decreasing our choices.  republicans would have trusted the health insurers to do everything right with no regulation. so what’s the difference?

we still end up with health insurance premiums spiralling out of control and we still have health insurers between us and our doctors.

so, to the american people gathered around their dining room table trying to balance a budget for the month both parties get an F-

Economy:

bush presided over this country when the economy crashed, so it has to be his fault for driving us into the ditch but obama and a democrat majority congress seem to have kept most of the rich people and their banks solvent but very little help is trickling down to help beleaguered workers and their families.  both parties get a D-

wars:

bush started a needless war in iraq and a senseless one in afghanistan. democrats told us that if we elected them, we would bring our troops home and stop hemorrhaging money in two countries that don’t seem to want anything to do with democracy or us. republicans get an F- for involving us in the first place. democrats get an F- for failing to make good on a promise to get us out of there.

Jobs:

the stimulus plan was too small to get the job done. republicans who seem bent on keeping our country in a depression so they can unseat obama in 2012 have been intransigent when it comes to spending enough to get unemployment down. democrats have been less than brave in their opposition to this intransigence because they fear the far right’s increasingly effective propoganda about the deficit. while feigning a sincere desire to stop deficit spending (something they failed to do under 8 years of bush) it is apparent that republicans are cynically turning up the volume in order to stop progress in creating jobs, to further their political agenda. democrats get an F- for looking like cowards. republicans get an F- for callously manipulating the suffering of workers in order to regain power.

so what is the difference for me? i see in the far right a dangerous fascist malevolence which threatens the very freedoms that we espouse as a people. i see a greedy mean-spiritedness that appalls me. i see hatred and racism. i see a conservative movement that wants to set women’s rights back a hundred years. i see  conservatives defending torture. i see the far right telling us that payday lenders are mere businesses instead of loan sharks. i see conservatives saying that people who cannot afford decent health care should die because they did not plan ahead. i see mean-spirited wing nuts saying that people who are unemployed like it.

that is why i continue to fight the good fight. many republicans as well as democrats are as appalled as i am by the far right. it is a hateful movement which has no business in the halls of a decent government. i intend to keep them out by whatever means i can muster. as disappointed as i am by the democratic failures, i do not see a similar evil smell emanating from the far left. rather, i see a lot of insider wonks and policy makers insulated from the real needs of people acting arrogantly and fearfully in timidly facing the far right.

i hope to provide an occasional alka seltzer here for those of you who, like me, are bored to death and getting sour stomachs watching democrats cave every time a right winger barks. it is time to demand some spine from our elected representatives and our candidates. it is time to stand up to the right wing intimidation with courageous stands rather than mealy-mouthed policy drivel.

we want our leaders to show us the difference.


  1. Big Swede

    Big difference.

    Right now the Re-pubs are acting and voting (saying no) with the will of the people. Via Rasmussen.

    “The notion that governments derive their only just authority from the consent of the governed is a foundational principle of the American experiment.
    However, a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 23% of voters nationwide believe the federal government today has the consent of the governed. Sixty-two percent (62%) say it does not, and 15% are not sure.”

    Key word “today”.

    As in this adm., representatives and senators who are in control.

    • You’re assuming anyone who thinks that the federal gov’t isn’t governing by their consent is a conservative. Not so. I don’t. I doubt p-bear does either.

      • Big Swede

        Easy math (63%) says your right.

        The pachyderm poop you guys have stepped in is blindly supporting unpopular legislation.

      • the base of the progressives is both democratic, independent and in some cases, republicans who are socially progressive but fiscally conservative.

        obama and the democratic congress have pretty much abandoned their base in a desperate attempt to placate those on the far right who are much smaller in number.

        at least half of that 63% includes spitting angry progressive voters, swede. congratulations. you have made total fools of the democratic leadership so far.

        what remains to be be seen is if the disenfranchised progressives can be lured back and if so, how?

        anger out of betrayal is often more powerful than anger from differences.

        • Lizard

          right wing boogeymen/sarah palin keep progressives in line. they took the betrayals of clinton, and they will take the betrayals of obama.

  2. Lizard

    i think what folks need to understand is that the big money in this country despise the majority of us “useless eaters” and the social safety nets created by the new deal. it’s taken decades for them to slowly whittle away at the assurances our taxes should have afforded us. they have hollowed out this nation, killed labor, and seduced democrats into the callous execution of neoliberalism. they have used the fed and wallstreet to inflate and explode bubble after bubble, raping pension plans and then vacuuming up our tax dollars.

    i hope y’all saw the simple breakdown of the looting we suffered at the hands of wallstreet i posted a few days ago. and we’re still taking it, bickering like there are substantive distinctions between the two parties. there are not. just different product lines produced by the same interests who are driving us off a cliff.

    • Big Swede

      Liz, you need to come out of the closet.

      If you can’t trust capitalists or their money managed world and the powers to be now are stabbing you in the back who can you trust?

      You’re great in throwing out blame, please name your solution.

      And while your at it tell me if the money changers are so inherently evil what pray tell would be different in the persons running every aspect of your life from Washington.

      Quoting Freidman, “Just who are these angels?”.

      • Lizard

        solutions? abolish the fed. set limits on the capital holdings of banks. use anti-trust laws. empower labor, pass EFCA. work for a living wage. end the trillion dollar illegal wars. build bullet trains across the country. invest in education. broadband everywhere. invest in local food production. make big corporations, like the oil companies pay their fair share of taxes. campaign finance reform.

        you know, swede, stuff like that.

        • carfreestupidity

          Don’t forget revoking corporate personhood… That might help just a wee bit.

          • that would be a daunting task cfs, but i like the possibilities:
            here’s a guy working on it right now….

            http://www.alternativeradio.org/speakers/GROR.shtml

            heard him speak on KUFM today around noon. impressive.

            Richard Grossman, “Revoking Corporate Charters”

            Corporations. From ExxonMobil to Wal-Mart they dominate society and politics. Over the last 100 years corporations have accrued enormous economic power and legal standing. A corporation is licensed to do business. These licenses are called charters. In theory, when a corporation violates its charter, it can be revoked. That used to happen but not any more. And now corporate power has gotten a big boost. On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court, in Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission, ruled that there are no limitations on campaign contributions by both domestic and foreign corporations. Noam Chomsky calls the decision “a dark day in the history of U.S. democracy, and its decline.” The ruling, “The New York Times,” says “strikes at the heart of democracy” by having “paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections.”

            Richard Grossman, co-founder of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy, is an independent researcher and writer focusing on governance, law, corporations, and organizing strategies

            Alternative Radio is a weekly one-hour public affairs program offered free to all public radio stations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South Africa, Australia, and on short-wave on Radio for Peace International.

        • Big Swede

          Sorry for the late response, been at the cabin.

          Ok, so you want stronger unions, which means even more unemployment.

          **Lee Ohanian, a professor of economics at UCLA, recently finished a study at the American Enterprise Institute that examined what would happen if the U.S. returned to unionization levels of the 1970s. He said the numbers wouldn’t be good for economic recovery.

          “My estimates suggest (we) could lose perhaps 5 million jobs and lose about 500 billion worth of GDP if unionization returned to levels we had in the 1970s and if new union members were able to command the 15 percent wage premium that historically is applied to union membership. So we would have a much sicker economy than we have right now.”**

          Interesting to note also the states with the highest percentage of union workers, nevada(gaming) mich(auto) have the longest unemployment lines.

          • Mark T

            Natelson agrees.

            Economists are like pitch men for used cars.

            • Big Swede

              A Mark T two-fer.

              Demonize the profession and the person in one shallow response.

            • OK – I was using the Itouch. Now I’m on a big machine.

              I have written ad nauseum about both the perfesser (an “apologist” for free markets – he diligently searches for information that validates his beliefs, ignores everything else), and the profession of economics (there are no rules regarding performance and everything is disguised ideology.)

              Surely you can see the latter if you read the words of economists that youdon’t agree with. If you have never read an economist that you don’t know in advance you are going to agree with, then you are the Mini-perfesser. I think, if I can somehow shorten that, that I will call you that from now on.

              MiniRob? MiniP? Mini Pearl?

              • Big Swede

                I love to read any economist who can justify how increasing union membership will put more people to work.

              • But you don’t love doing that and you don’t do it.

                It works like this: Jobs are wealth-producing engines. But there must be underlying demand, which cannot happen unless money is in circulation. Well-paid workers are demand engines.

                Henry Ford knew this. He realized that if his own workers could not afford to buy his cars, that he would not sell many.

                Think of it this way: Wealth is produced by a myriad of factors, labor being a major one. Workers are paid less than they produce, otherwise they would not be hired. Unions merely capture more of that wealth before it passes on up to the fat cats.

              • Big Swede

                Ford was a racist.

                Any color as long as its black.

  3. Montana Cowgirl

    I’m going to have to add the rights of women to this list too, sadly. At least when it comes to the actions of the top Democrat Obama: http://mtcowgirl.com/2010/07/18/obama-trades-women’s-rights-for-absolutely-nothing/

  4. Curmudgeon

    There is one action which will cost nothing and improve the situation. Make EVERY election non-partison. Replace an antiquated system with one that will force voters to vote based on the qualifications, experience, and positions on issues of each candidate. Of course this assumes an informed electorate which makes it highly unlikely.

  5. i think parties are useful curmdgeon. i am just trying to get the democratic party to act like it is the democratic party instead of the republican party.

    i just want a clear choice this november. i am tired of democratic politicians who are either too compromised, corrupted or too damned cowardly to espouse principles that help the average family.

    it should not be too much to ask our democratically elected congress and president to listen to those who elected them instead of the lobbyists and corporate ceo’s who constantly parade through their offices on a daily basis….

    and this travesty of democratic betrayal should never be allowed to happen again…

  6. I have to add that the animals in the above graphic appear to be cuddling. This is what my cat does to his closest friends.

  7. Just as a thought experiment, form a brand new country, and allow private wealth to finance popular candidates. Wealth abhors populism, as populism is often anti-wealth. So it naturally follows that the candidates that have the most money and that are considered “viable” by the media (which is also controlled by wealth) are those who are supported by wealth.

    The natural result of this system of finance is two parties. A third party can only come about fully-formed and well financed at the outset, meaning it has to have big money behind it, like a Perot. And even he was not tolerated. Small parties are crushed.

    Our “alternative” to the “party of wealth” are Democrats, who are also a party of wealth. For this reason, I say Democrats are the problem. We expect things of them that they cannot give us, and yet we are virtually forced to support them as the lesser of evils. It is in that “choice” that our representative government is most undermined.

  8. Lizard

    what to make of this: feds shut down 73,000 blogs

    Under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act passed in 1998 the Obama administration has shut down 73,000 blogs this week which were hosted on the Blogetery.com WordPress based hosting service. Initially the target was a small group of sites which were incolved in illegal file sharing, but ultimately a request was issued to BurstNet, the Blogetery.com’s hosting provider, to shut down the entire network of 73,000 blogs, most of which were engaged in no illegal activity, including harmless sites like Science Experiments for Kids and political sites like Tea and Politics.

    Read more: http://blogcritics.org/politics/article/first-amendment-under-attack-feds-shut/#ixzz0uC3KdNQM

    • Moorcat

      While the idea that the government can shutdown an entire network of blogs scares the living daylights out of me (ask me sometime what happened to the original “Pragmatic Revolt”), this link is misleading. What actually happened was that the government was researching copyright enfringement on blogs hosted by that site and the site owner made the decision to shut it down.

      Now the idea of the Government trying to “take over” the internet is a scary one. At this point, they seem to be focusing on illegal activity (copyright violations, PTP sharing networks, etc), but it doesn’t take a lot to go from blatently illegal sites to those that are “unsavory”.

      This is something that should be watched but making more out of the story than is actually there doesn’t help.

      Moorcat

      • Lizard

        thanks moorcat. maybe you thought my asking “what to make of this” was flippant, which would have been a good guess, but it wasn’t. i agree the piece did seem a little excitable.

        this isn’t something i’m watching closely, but isn’t there legislation afoot to expose universities to liability for digital piracy?

      • You’re missing the point Moorcat. The Internet has never been under corporate control-it’s a sharing medium where people like to pursue intellectual and entertainment ends without paying a fee for the privilege. Corporations are yet to devise a business model that can preserve “intellectual property rights” and make a buck.

        Newspaper, the music industry, movies have all been hammered by this freedom to share. The music goons initiated lawsuits against college kids and others. And now this – the shut down of the WordPress blogs is probably a harbinger of things to come.

        The government spies like crazy, but corporations like to use brute force to get their way. They have not been able to adapt to Internet freedom and are clamping down. That is what this is about.

  9. Lizard

    judging from Bob Jaffe’s comments this morning about “dealing with the homeless population” on his listserve, apparently there’s not even much difference on city council between progressives and conservatives. his comments are really unfortunate, and i hope he pays a price for them, but since poor people and chronic drunks are such easy targets for everyone in this fucking town, i doubt it.

    • You’re of course referring to his this gem concerning the new Homeless beat cop:

      “[Officer Nicole Pifari] was clear that her job is not about solving homelessness or vagrancy. It is about keeping it out of downtown. She lets the folks know they need to find a more socially acceptable place to throw up and piss themselves. She knows that Missoula is a very friendly and empathetic place. Her job is to make it a little less friendly and comfortable for the least among us.” (Nice to know that he feels police are best used for intimidation. Not to mention how he sees homelessness and vagrancy as the same.)

      Or possibly:

      “I’m actually intrigued by the idea of instituting a chain gang in Missoula . Nothing wrong with a little community service and clearly these folks aren’t concerned with being humiliated in public.” (Solve homelessness by using the people as serfs. Clever and cost effective.)

      Or:

      “One of the reasons we don’t put transients in jail is they have all sorts of medical problems that become our responsibility once they are incarcerated. I can’t imagine what would happen if we actually made them perform physical labor.” (The ol’ Homeless People are Lazy and Dirty Argument. Well played Bob. Really know your way around nuances and subtlety.)

      How about:

      “In general, the odds that a shopper will suffer any actual harm from a homeless person is incredibly small. But the perception of danger is real. An officer in uniform creates a perception of safety. Folks love it.” (Translation: Feed into a culture of fear by pandering.)

      Democrat? Republican? Who can tell anymore?

  10. Lizard

    for those not privy to his listserve, here’s your progressive councilman:

    “[We] had a presentation in Public Safety regarding our new full time downtown officer. Her name is Nicole Pifari and she has decided to leave the police force to go to law school. The plan is that she will continue to work for the force during the summers while she is in school. She has been at it for about six weeks now and the response from downtown business owners and patrons has been extremely positive. Assigning an officer to this beat full time creates continuity. She sees the same folks over and over and gets to know what’s going on.

    The presentation was from Assistant Chief Brady and BID director Rod Austin. I wanted to hear what Officer Pifari had to say so I asked her up to come up and answer some questions. She had a few comments that I thought were important. She clarified that the work was primarily about dealing with the homeless population. She was clear that her job is not about solving homelessness or vagrancy. It is about keeping it out of downtown. She lets the folks know they need to find a more socially acceptable place to throw up and piss themselves. She knows that Missoula is a very friendly and empathetic place. Her job is to make it a little less friendly and comfortable for the least among us.

    I had the impression she was fully aware of the unfortunate and tragic nature of this assignment. We have a very friendly and accepting community and a population of destitute people who survive by manipulating and taking advantage of this kindness. There is a critical mass or threshold that gets crossed and then the community starts to feel victimized. Our response is to dial down the love these folks feel when they come to Missoula. This is Nicole’s job.

    On the up side, she provides the rest of us with a sense of security, safety and order. In general, the odds that a shopper will suffer any actual harm from a homeless person is incredibly small. But the perception of danger is real. An officer in uniform creates a perception of safety. Folks love it. Her presence is a huge benefit to the health and future of our downtown. I got the feeling that she had the perfect disposition to serve the community in this role. Hopefully the plans to retain her during the summers will pan out.

    [Councilman] Jon Wilkins also pointed out that we can’t just arrest these folks because our judge just lets them go free. He wants to see them go to jail and be given an orange jump suit and be put to work picking up trash along the highway. I’m actually intrigued by the idea of instituting a chain gang in Missoula. Nothing wrong with a little community service and clearly these folks aren’t concerned with being humiliated in public. We would need to find a big tobacco chewing officer with a shotgun to oversee the crew to get the full effect. I think the word would get out pretty quick that maybe Missoula isn’t the best place to be sprawled out on the sidewalk. There is a major issue with funding and liability. One of the reasons we don’t put transients in jail is they have all sorts of medical problems that become our responsibility once they are incarcerated. I can’t imagine what would happen if we actually made them perform physical labor. If we could come up with a funding mechanism I would be curious if we could try this. I’m wondering if anyone north of Texas has attempted it and whether folks would be horrified or happy the trash was being picked up.”




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