Political Nutz

Observations on the pathetic state of American politics

Monthly Archives: February 2011

$117 Billion Wasted: The Iraq/Afghanistan Boondoggles

Taxpayers' Dollars

The corporate cronies of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have harvested over $100 billion as private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.  According to the nonpartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan many of those billions have been totally wasted, some $12 billion due to outright fraud.  If the GOP is serious about deficit reduction, private defense contractors should be their first priority.  Then they can return their focus on children, the elderly, and the ill.

“The government has abdicated its contracting responsibilities — too often using contractors as the default mechanism, driven by considerations other than whether they provide the best solution, and without consideration for the resources needed to manage them.” —Commission Report

America’s Future to the Lowest Bidder

Wisconsin teacher headed to work

The Wisconsin debate over unionization of Public Employees has generated a lot of venom but little common sense.  Corporatist Gov. Scott Walker intends to balance the state budget entirely on the shoulders of public employees. Taken to its logical conclusion, the governor’s approach would effectively put eduction and all other public functions in the hands of the least-skilled, lowest-paid workers taxpayer money can buy.  Or, as parts of the proposed legislation make clear, he would privatize many agencies. 

I might support this approach if it included positions like governor and legislators.

The attack on public-employee unions, should it triumph, will remove one of the last remaining obstacles to the untrammeled power of private corporations and the politicians committed to their agenda.”  —Jerome Karabel, Wisconsin, Labor and the Future of America (HuffingtonPost.com)

Dear Rush: Seek Counseling, Please

What’s up with Rush Limbaugh‘s weird fixation with Michelle Obama?  Here’s one of the leaders of the Republican Party spending time on a national radio broadcast talking about what the First Lady had for dinner last night and letting his listeners know she’s not a svelte swimsuit model. Geez, what stunning insights!  

Maybe the years of drug abuse and his own over abundance of fat cells have finally scambled his brain completely.

Why I Don’t Trust the Republicans: They Lie

Republican Governor Scott Walker repeatedly lies about his plan to kill Wisconsin labor unions.  He keeps saying his “budget repair bill” is necessary to address the state’s budget woes.  Except, of course, there was a projected state surplus until the Badger state Republican Senate passed $120 million in tax breaks and incentives for businesses and the most wealthy citizens.  The governor fails to note as well that the proposed limits on state employee unions has no impact on the current deficit–none. 

The proposal is a union-busting effort pure and simple, nothing more, nothing less. Mr. Walker claims the that “State and local employees could continue to bargain for base pay, they would not be able to bargain over other compensation measures.”  Wow, big concession there!  Moreover the actual text of the bill reads ”total wage increases could not exceed a cap based on the consumer price index (CPI) unless approved by referendum.”  So, in reality there is no bargaining, period.  

But the proposed legislation is even more onerous with respect to the practical functioning of the union.    “Contracts would be limited to one year and wages would be frozen until the new contract is settled. Collective bargaining units are required to take annual votes to maintain certification as a union. Employers would be prohibited from collecting union dues and members of collective bargaining units would not be required to pay dues.” All this greatly inhibits the ability of workers to have an effective union which is clearly the final intent.

So lying Governor Walker can say as many times as he wants that his proposal in a “budget repair bill”; anyone who can read knows perfectly well it’s a measure intended to kill public employee unions in Wisconsin.

U.S. House: Please Stop Wasting Our Time and Money

The 112th Congress has been in session now for over a month and our incompetent leaders have managed to accomplish…. nothing, nada, zip.  They are currently focused on LAST YEAR’S budget.  These are the folks touting American ingenuity and business acumen and they can’t even address last year’s budget problems. 

With record unemployment and staggering federal deficit most of the debate  –led by the Republi-can’t Party– is focused on federal funding for abortion, National Public Radio and other religious/cultural issues, none of which has any impact on the deficit or employment.  I guess the GOP is just fed up with those liberal-biased episodes of Sesame Street and Nature.  

The GOP should be less preoccupied with silencing cookie monster and more focused on reviving the economy.
    –Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY)

Congress is just incapable of doing what’s best for America and instead perists in a crusade to convert their fellow citizens to their their moral world view. Maybe the only way to make any progress on the budget and jobs is to elect only atheists to Congress.

Why Is Military Spending “Off the Table?

I get it, I really do.  We need to reduce the federal deficit and cut annual spending.  As many wise folks have noted health care costs are perhaps the best place to start (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid are Big, Krugman 2/16/2011).  At the same time some 20% of government spending goes directly into the Department of Defense.  Does America really NEED, or more importantly, can we afford, over 1,000 military bases in over 130 countries?  There are 268 bases in Germany alone and a cushy ski center in the Bavarian Alps.

Even during the Bush years, Secretary Rumsfeld estimated we could safely close 200-300 overseas bases and save $12 billion.

Minimally, let’s just bring all those troops, their families and private contractor support staff back home so they spend their money here thus helping our economy.

Justice Scalia: Brilliant and Petty

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari in the case of NASA v. Nelson, deciding that NASA’s standard background check, as applied to contract employees, does not violate a constitutional right to informational privacy.  I claim no expertise in Constitutional law; I’d be happy to leave that up to the collective wisdom of the Supreme Court.  Happy if it weren’t for the presence of Justice Scalia.  In a lengthy support of the Writ, Scalia repeatedly derides legal arguments and earlier court opinions with terms like “farcical,” “absurdity,” “incoherence” and “doctrinal obscurity.”  In his typical hyper-egotistical manner, he shows absolute disrespect for colleagues, both judges and attorneys.  It’s worrisome that someone with so little regard for the judicial system should hold such an influential position. It’s time for Mr. Scalia to step down.

Another Reason for Health Care Reform

While Congressional Republicans continue to waste time trying to repeal health care reform, there’s still another report documenting the sad state of health care for millions of Americans. The independent Commonwealth Fund has released its latest study of health care access for children in the U.S.  In five of the nation’s most conservative states –including Texas and Arizona– some 18% of children have no health insurance compared to just 3% in places like Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont. This means that some 10.2 million kids don’t get even basic preventive care.