Republicans are wrong, and Portugal is proof

Republicans are all about austerity.  Their answer to economic recession is to cut spending—at least, as long as a Democrat is President.  For Republicans, the recession of the last decade was an opportunity to do what they wanted to do anyway, which is to destroy the social safety net.  Conservatives in Europe are the same.  But facts are stubborn things.

Portugal’s economy has rebounded dramatically since its $83 billion European Union bailout in 2011. What’s surprising is that this has happened without austerity measures — the spending cuts and tax hikes that Portugal’s creditors, the EU and International Monetary Fund, said were the only way to survive Europe’s debt crisis.

Such measures were initially imposed by Portugal’s then center-right government, on orders from the EU and IMF. But when a left-wing, Socialist-led coalition took power in November 2015 and began canceling austerity — raising wages and lowering taxes — many economists warned Portugal would need a second bailout.

But that has not happened. Instead, the economy has posted 13 consecutive quarters of growth — beginning under the previous government, and surging during the current one. Its budget deficit has hit a 40-year record low of 2.1 percent of GDP, the first time Portugal’s deficit has dropped below EU limits.

Republicans spent a lot of time pretending that Obama was a socialist.  This is what real socialists do.  And it seems to work.

Graham is “all in with Trump”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham enthusiastically praised President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his foreign policy, a continued departure from his sharp criticism of Trump during the 2016 race and even after the election.

“I am like the happiest dude in America right now,” a beaming Graham said on “Fox & Friends.” “We have got a president and a national security team that I’ve been dreaming of for eight years.”

Give it to Lindsey Graham, when the man abandons his principles they are abandoned for good.  Remember when Graham thought Trump was simply un-American?

The South Carolina senator and former presidential candidate blasted Trump following the nominee’s attacks on Judge Gonzalo Curiel, saying fellow Republicans should withdraw their endorsements. “This is the most un-American thing from a politician since Joe McCarthy,” he said. “If anybody was looking for an off-ramp, this is probably it. There’ll come a time when the love of country will trump hatred of Hillary.”

Apparently that time will never come for the Republican Party.

In Georgia, Jon Ossoff will be in runoff election with notorious Planned Parenthood opponent

Georgia’s 6th district is an open House seat.  Democrat Jon Ossoff won 48% in an 18-way race, but because he didn’t get more than 50% there will be a runoff between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.  You’ve heard Handel’s name before.

Handel is probably best known—and notorious—for her time at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which ended after her failed, politically motivated effort to get the organization to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood to perform cancer screenings.
With Handel as its vice president, Komen announced that it would no longer fund organizations that were under investigation—and of course, congressional Republicans were “investigating” Planned Parenthood as part of their ongoing political attacks on it. According to a source at the time, Handel was at the center of that decision, and in her resignation letter days later, she said that “I openly acknowledge my role in the matter.” She went on to turn whining into a profession, calling Planned Parenthood a “gigantic bully” for daring to talk to the press about having cancer screening funding cut off for political reasons, and even wrote a book called Planned Bullyhood (because Planned Parenthood is such a bully, don’t you know).

Handel is the reason I won’t give to the Komen Foundation ever again, won’t participate in one of their events, won’t buy any of their pink swag.  The Komen Foundation is on the wrong side of women’s rights, and Handel was a big part of it.  Reason enough for me to contribute a few dollars to the Ossoff campaign.  And while you’re in a giving mood, your own county Democratic Party could use a boost as well!
Click to contribute.

The difference between Republicans and Democrats, in one chart

Laura Clawson notices that Republicans have completely changed their minds on Syria.

Bashar Assad has been using chemical weapons against the Syrian people since 2013. Syrian children have been dying along with adults all along. But in the U.S., something appears to have changed. What ever could it be?

Because the Republican Party doesn’t stand for anything but putting Republicans in power.

Now corporations are simply beating their customers

Perhaps this is what it would look like to live under a government run by corporations.  You’ve probably heard that a United Airlines passenger was beaten and dragged off a plane at the behest of the airline.  You may not have heard they had exactly no legal right to do so.

As the scandal over a United passenger who was beaten unconscious and dragged off a plane when he refused to give up his seat for a deadheading crewmember unspools, there’s a predictable torrent of bullshit about how United was in the right because something something private property, and let us not forget the great American sport of victim-blaming.

Media outlets large and small have consistently misreported key details of the story, following spin from United corporate communications. Yves Smith does us all the service of summing up some of the major areas of bullshit. Here’s a few highlights:

* This was not an oversold plane. The plane was full, but it only became overfull when United decided that some of its crew needed to board, despite there being another flight an hour later they could have traveled on.

* Dao’s bloody nose is the least alarming thing about his injuries. The guy was beaten unconscious. That carries a high risk of concussion and worse.

* Dao wasn’t beaten up by Chicago Police, but by airport cops, who are not part of CPD; what’s more, the airport cops’ rolls include Richard Zuley, a dirty Chicago homicide detective who quit after a series of wrongful convictions, then worked as an “interrogator” at Guantanamo Bay, before boarding a plane in Chicago and beating a passenger unconscious.

 Dao’s story overshadows another outrage, again by United Airlines, in which a full fare first class passenger, already seated on the plane, was ordered to give up his seat to a “higher priority” passenger, or else be handcuffed.

“That’s when they told me they needed the seat for somebody more important who came at the last minute,” Fearns said. “They said they have a priority list and this other person was higher on the list than me.”

“I understand you might bump people because a flight is full,” Fearns said. “But they didn’t say anything at the gate. I was already in the seat. And now they were telling me I had no choice. They said they’d put me in cuffs if they had to.”

Sessions: undocumented immigrants are rapists, murderers, filth

In remarks Tuesday to border patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Ariz., Mr. Sessions spoke in stark terms about the threat he said illegal immigration posed.

“We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens,” Mr. Sessions said, according to the text of his prepared remarks. “It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth.”

“This is a new era,” he said. “This is the Trump era.”

Oh yes it is.  Casual racism is now the norm at the highest level of the Justice Department of the United States.

Spicer: Hitler not as bad as Assad

I didn’t set out to write about nothing but fascism today; this is just how the news broke.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer not only made the fool’s mistake of comparing Assad to Hitler, Hitler came out ahead in that comparison.  Because, said Spicer, even Hitler didn’t sink to using chemical weapons.  Given a chance to fix that awful answer, Spicer said, and I am not making this up, that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing.”

So German Jews were not Hitler’s “own people”? Or is it just the method of gassing people that makes the difference?

It’s technically true that Hitler’s methods were different from Assad’s, but “rounded them up into camps and then put them in gas chambers” is … not really better. Especially when Spicer’s way of saying this was “He brought them into the Holocaust Centers, I understand that, but … “

Let’s just take a moment to consider that word choice.  Not concentration camps, not death camps, but “Holocaust Centers.”

Le Pen denies French collaboration with the Nazis

Steve King’s pal Marine Le Pen pretends to be a “populist” and denies that her politics are the fascist politics of her father, Jean-Marie le Pen.  That pretense was damaged, perhaps along with her ambitions to be elected President of France, when she denied French complicity in rounding up Jews during WWII.

Le Pen the Younger disclaims her father’s racist baggage, and presents herself as a populist/nationalist in the model of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump (themselves notorious racists, but of the sort who make recourse to dog whistles instead of out-and-out racism, at least some of the time).

On Sunday, Le Pen disclaimed French responsibility for the notorious “Vel d’Hiv” incident in which French police rounded up 13,000 Jews and crammed them into the Velodrome d’Hiver so that Nazi occupiers could deport them to Auschwitz, saying “”I think France isn’t responsible for the Vel d’Hiv…I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France.”

The remarks came just a couple weeks before the French general election, which has many around the world nervous, given the recent success of other crypto-fascist “populists” around the world.

Do I need to add that Le Pen is a Trump supporter?

Wealth inequality is correlated with CO2 emissions

If you needed another reason to put a priority on income inequality, here is one.

A new paper from a trio of Boston College researchers shows that the states with the highest degree of income inequality are also the worst offenders for carbon emissions; as the share of wealth and income claimed by the richest 10% increases, the amount of carbon-intensive consumption they engage in grows, as does their political clout, allowing them to buy laws and policies that let them pollute more.
Democrats should stand for getting rid of all regressive taxes and replacing them with a steeply progressive income tax, the opposite of what Republicans are busy doing right now.