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Jun 092011
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I’m so sick of the dysfunction in this country today.  A broken media that accentuates the slimy and salacious in their quest for ratings over news and integrity.  A government so broken that elected officials are more concerned about appeasing their wealthy benefactors than in representing the people they were elected to help.

We’re setting sail to the place on the map
from which no one has ever returned
Drawn by the promise of the joker and the fool
by the light of the crosses that burned.
Drawn by the promise of the women and the lace
and the gold and the cotton and pearls
It’s the place where they keep all the darkness you need.
You sail away from the light of the world on this trip, baby.

We have a president who was elected with promises of hope and change, but has instead continued to disappoint by giving us more of the same… the same of the republican rule that brought this country down over the previous eight years.  Today, we have a president who scolded House Democrats who dared to suggest he take a tougher tone with Republicans; one who seems to capitulate to their demands with each new threat they make.

You will pay tomorrow
You’re gonna pay tomorrow
You will pay tomorrow

Save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools. No, no
Oh, save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools
I want to run and hide right now

We’re in crisis mode right now. Not because of the terror the fear mongers are intent on instilling in you because of the national debt. It’s a problem, but we have much bigger problems facing us today.  We’re in danger of falling into another deep depression that was just barely averted when President Obama took office and somehow managed to get a stimulus plan through.

Unfortunately, Obama sided with the Republicans when he caved in to their demands to cut much of the actual stimulative spending in his plan and replace it with non-stimulating tax cuts. The “stimulus” was too small to begin with, and was virtually neutered by turning it in to what caused much of the problem in the first place: tax cuts for the already wealthy.

Today, the Republican leadership in the House is holding our nation hostage.  The right has come up with a despicable plan to kill Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher program that they euphemistically call “premium support.”  If they get their way (and go against the will of the majority of Americans to do so), instead of seniors being able to rest easily, knowing that their medical needs will be met, they’ll have to worry about buying private insurance on the for-profit market along with the rest of us.

Oh sure, they’ll get their vouchers — from $6000 to $12000 each year.  The question I was trying to ask my congressman (Allen West) at a town hall meeting last month (when I was kicked out for daring to ask a question, and subsequently arrested for daring to try to speak up) was “Please give me the name of the insurance company who will write a policy for a 75-year old with high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity!” — because that company does not exist.

If this plan were to go into effect, all the provisions of the Affordable Care Act would go away, including the requirement that insurance companies sell policies to all, regardless of pre-existing conditions.  So, even if Granny could find a company to sell her the policy, I can guarantee even the largest voucher of them all would not be enough to pay the premiums.  Thus “premium support” I suppose… it’s just a little support for the vast fortune you’d have to some how come up with to buy said policy.

Let’s take it a step further with this scenario:  The woman living next door is a widow.  She has no children, and no family left.  She’s now 89 years old and suffering from Alzheimer’s.  Today, she has Medicare, and will be taken care of.  In the post Ryan-plan voucher instead of Medicare world, somehow this woman is supposed to navigate the brutal world of the for-profit insurance industry and buy herself a policy that would get her the care she needs?  Sorry, I think that woman would likely die before that ever happened.

Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
They will leave you drifting in the shallows
or drowning in the oceans of history
Traveling the world, you’re in search of no good
but I’m sure you’ll build your Sodom like you knew you would
Using all the good people for your galley slaves
as you’re little boat struggles through the warning waves, but you don’t pay

You will pay tomorrow
You’re gonna pay tomorrow
You’re gonna pay tomorrow

But that’s not even the worst of it.  Right now, the economic future of the United States of America is being held hostage by terrorists.  No, not the Al Qaeda kind. The Republican kind. The Republican party in Congress is threatening to let the US go into default by voting against raising the Debt Ceiling if the Democrats and the President don’t give in to their demands, one of which is to kill Medicare!

Those who are screaming the loudest against raising the debt ceiling are the ones who are listening to the fear mongers at Fox and on right wing radio.  So, what exactly is the debt ceiling? It’s actually quite complicated and quite simple at the same time.  From CNN:

What is the debt ceiling exactly? It’s a cap set by Congress on the amount of debt the federal government can legally borrow. The cap applies to debt owed to the public (i.e., anyone who buys U.S. bonds) plus debt owed to federal government trust funds such as those for Social Security and Medicare.

The first limit was set in 1917 and set at $11.5 billion, according to the Center for a Responsible Federal Budget. Previously, Congress had to sign off every time the federal government issued debt. (Take CNNMoney’s deficit quiz)

How high is the debt limit right now? The ceiling is currently set at $14.294 trillion. The country’s accrued debt hit that mark on the morning of May 16.

But by taking various extraordinary measures like suspending investments in federal retirement funds, Geithner will be able to bring total debt down enough to allow the government to continue borrowing until Aug. 2.

Hence, by the end of trade on May 16, total debt subject to the limit was a mere $25 million shy of the official cap — or $14,293,975,000,000. Total debt can fluctuate up or down on any given day.

How is the ceiling determined? They don’t admit it, but lawmakers tacitly agree to raise the debt ceiling every time they vote for a spending hike or tax cut.

“Congress has already passed and the president has already signed legislation that increases spending or decreases revenues. Those decisions have already been made,” said Susan Irving, director for federal budget issues at the Government Accountability Office.

So in reality arguing over the debt ceiling is essentially arguing over whether to pay the bills the country has already incurred.

Congress has already raised the debt ceiling 10 times in the past decade.  They’ve done it under Democratic administrations and under Republican administrations and they’ve always been passed with no strings attached.  

What would happen if we don’t raise the debt ceiling to, as quoted from the above CNN article, “pay the bills the country has already incurred”?  Just read this letter, sent by Matthew Zames, chairman of the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner which details the “severe,” “long-lasting” and “catastrophic” effect it would have on our nation.

But instead of putting our national interests first, the Republican party is threatening to let the United States go into default if their demands aren’t met.  Here’s my demand for President Obama and the Democratic Party:  Tell the Republicans “WE DON’T NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS!”

Save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools
Save me. Save me from tomorrow
I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools
Where’s it comin’ from?
Where’s it goin’ to now?
It’s just a It’s just a ship of fools

—- World Party “Ship of Fools” (music & lyrics by Karl Wallinger)

_________________________________________________

This morning on the show, as I was asking many of the same questions I posed in this missive, I noticed a tweet from Dave Weigel of Slate.  He retweeted  @AriBerman’s “AFL-CIO urges recess appointment for Elizabeth Warren to CFPB http://bit.ly/kWhUbi with the added comment “But there’s no recess!”

I replied to him “There will be, eventually” to which he replied “Why, if you’re the GOP, would you ever let there be a recess as long as O is president?”

I wrote back “I guess they won’t. But that begs the question: Will our govt ever be able to accomplish anything or is stalemate permanent?”  I then invited him to come on the show to discuss this dilemma, and he did.

I also spoke with Raven Brooks, executive director of Netroots Nation about what we can expect next week at the 11th annual gathering of progressive activists and bloggers in Minneapolis.  Even if you can’t physically be there, most of the sessions and all of the keynote addresses will stream live.  And of course, you can follow the #NN11 twitter hashtag.

The wonderful Shane-O from the Funked in the Head show will fill in for me Monday through Wednesday of next week.  I’ll broadcast live from Netroots Nation Thursday morning.  Talk to you then… radio or not!

***Update*** I just realized that I forgot to give you the links that prove that Rush Limbaugh is a big fat liar!  On the show, I played a call made by Mike Stark to Mr. Limpballs (listen here).  As for proof that he did take a trip with five buddies to the Dominican Republic and was arrested on his return when customs found a bottle of 29 Viagra pills in a prescription bottle in the name of his doctor, just click here.

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Jun 082011
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That’s what I try to do every morning on my show.  Unfortunately, the news has been cancelled in favor of ratings, and the media is obsessed with appealing to the basest of instincts – peoples’ preoccupation with the sex lives of others.

Yes, we’ve been talking about Anthony Weiner too, as his fall from grace and his stupid propensity for thinking with his little head instead of his big one is THE most talked-about piece of “news” today.

Rachel Maddow covered the hypocrisy of the right’s demanding his head (so to speak), by pointing out their obvious flawed belief: IOKIYAR (It’s OK if you’re a  Republican).

What’s really important is finding true progressives to run for elected office, and doing everything in our power to get them elected and keep them in office!  If Weiner had done anything illegal, I’d join the calls for his resignation.  But for his stupid preoccupation with sex… well, find me a man who isn’t preoccupied with sex and we can talk about it.

This morning, I spoke with Rob Zerban, who’s challenging Paul Ryan in a race for the congressional seat from Wisconsin’s 1st district.

I had a great conversation with author/pundit/consultant Cliff Schecter about his latest HuffPost piece, “Our Own Private Mumbai,” based on this Al Qaeda video urging American jihadists to easily stock up on guns by taking advantage of the gun show loophole, and how Republican/NRA hypocrites dodge the issue.

If you haven’t yet seen the video, this should send chills down your spine:

 

And finally, Tim Karr of FreePress.net told us about what went on at the Personal Democracy Forum conference in NY this week after I noticed the #PDF11 hashtag on his fascinating tweets.

A little more food for thought on this Wednesday morning…

 

And finally, last night I appeared with Susie Madrak on her Virtually Speaking Susie show.  We had quite a lively conversation about Weiner’s weiner problem, and veered of into our flawed criminal justice system too.  You can listen to it here.

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Jun 052011
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Andrew Gold died this week.  Perhaps he never rose to the level of fame that some of his friends and collaborators like Linda Ronstadt, Karla Bonoff, Jackson Browne and others, but all of us knew many of his songs.

“Thank You for Being a Friend” became popular as the theme song for The Golden Girls, and “The Final Frontier” was used for Mad About You.

I first “met” Andrew online in the early 90s, as the internet was in its infancy, and he would participate on the AOL message boards. He was funny and flirty, and we became friends before Facebook made it so simple.

In 1995, when he joined forces with his friends and collaborators Karla Bonoff, Wendy Waldman and Kenny Edwards to release an album as a band they called Bryndle, I was honored to host them on the air in the KSCA “Music Hall” in Los Angeles. I’m sure someone out there has a recording of the session; I’d love to get a copy of it.

I didn’t keep in touch with Andrew, and now it’s too late.  Andrew Gold died from a heart attack on June 3, 2011. He was 59.

 

 

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Jun 012011
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Sometimes things aren’t as they appear.  Today’s show contains proof of that…

But I start with the hypocrisy from the right.  I’ve long had a theory about the GOP living in some sort of Opposite World or, if you will, their own private Idaho.  The people who preach about shrinking government until its so small it cannot do anything yet want to legislate what you can and can’t do with your body, and want to ignore the constitution’s directive of separation of church and state.

In fact, a prime example comes courtesy of Sen. Rand Paul – a supposed supporter of our civil rights who voted against the extension of the Patriot Act and, for that, I applaud him.  But he also thinks that anyone who even attends a political speech by someone who suggests an overthrow of the government should be imprisoned or deported!

I guess that means that Allen West should be imprisoned or deported for attending a rally with crazy talk show host Joyce Kaufman who screeched “If ballots don’t work, bullets will” and more…

Feel free to fast forward to the pertinent parts at beginning at about 5:00 in.

Yesterday I told you about Adam Kokesh who, along with four others, was arrested for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial.  Today, he’ll join me on the show to talk about the insanity of his arrest and the dance party at TJ’s planned for this Saturday!

I’ll also speak with prolific author Frank Schaeffer, the son of Frank Schaeffer – widely regarded as the “pope” of the religious right movement, about his new book  Sex, Mom,  & God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics — and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway.

***Update*** The show just ended, and my conversation with Adam Kokesh turned out to be intellectually challenged.  I still support his right to dance at the Jefferson Memorial without being arrested and attacked by police.  But his political views are idiotic.

In response to Mr. Kokesh, he should go live here:

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May 312011
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I sent out an email yesterday with more details on my arrest last month.  Most of the responses were from people who understood what’s at stake when you can be forcefully ejected from an event billed as a “Town Hall Meeting” with YOUR congressman for daring to ask a question or openly disagreeing with said congressman.

I did get one response from someone who considers himself a “progressive independent” yet apparently doesn’t believe in our rights of free speech:

It sounds like you went there looking for a fight…and you got one. If you expected treatment of a different manner, I’d suggest that you’re naïve, or if not, feigning naivety.

It reminds me of an incident in San Francisco a few years ago when some ill-behaved teens were harassing a tiger in the city zoo…you know, poking sticks and such. Then the tiger leaped out of his enclosure and mauled one of the kids to death. The family of the deceased had the gall to sue the city. So much for taking responsibility.

Not having heard both sides of the story, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and imagine that the police in this case were out of line. But it reminds me of a scene from “Jackie Brown” where De Niro and Bridget Fonda were in a mall parking lot after committing a crime and she wouldn’t get off his back about misplacing their car. The incessant mocking and belittling finally became to omuch for him and he shot her dead in the face. He too was out of line, but everybody in the theatre was glad to see it happen. Members of law enforcement have enough on their plates without someone deliberately causing a disturbance to further such a misguided agenda.

Arrested for committing democracy? This isn’t the kind of democracy I went to war for; it is behavior fitting of a segment on “Cops” or “Locked Up.” Were you and your progressive colleagues not on the radio condemning the Republican thugs who went around disrupting democrats’ town hall meetings last summer? Incivility is unbecoming on either side of the aisle, Nicole.

If you pursue litigation in this matter, I’ll just chalk you up as one more piece of the problem…certainly not a contributor to the solution.

Really?  I was at a Memorial Day party on Sunday and, when the topic of my arrest came up – with a personal injury lawyer – he suggested that the charges should NOT have been dropped, and that Allen West doesn’t represent me because I didn’t vote for him!  And this guy made it through law school without understanding how our representative form of government works?

I wonder what those two geniuses think of this… A group of people were arrested, violently, for dancing at the Jefferson Monument. I kid you not.  Here’s the video proof:

The last guy wrestled to the ground then held down by a cop who put his hands around his throat was Adam Kokesh, host of RTtv’s Adam VS The Man. He plans on another dance party at the Jefferson Memorial next Saturday.

This is getting crazy. When did police officers become judge, jury and executioner? The Washington Post reports that the US Park Police are investigating whether or not the officers used excessive force in arresting the five dancers.

If the US Park Police are anything like the Broward Sheriff’s Office, their investigation will find nothing wrong.  You might recall that while I was held overnight in the Broward County Jail, the deputy (guard) took issue with the fact that I asked for an apology for locking myself and three other women in a cell that was being used to store mattresses, ostensibly while they were cleaning the other cells and the “day room” area.  They then forgot about us for over an hour.

When I explained the Deputy Bevin England that we are human beings, and were locked in a cell used to store mattresses with no air circulation, no room to sit or move around, he put me in solitary confinement for around three hours.

At lunch time, when I asked to be let out, he refused.  He brought me my tray – the cell door opened slightly, enough for him to hand it to me, and it slammed shut and locked.  A moment or two later, the door opened, so I thought my excessive punishment was over.  I emerged through the OPEN door, and sat on the step in front of the cell – the step at the top of the flight of stairs.

The guard noticed I was out and shouted at me to get back in.  I begged him not to make me go back inside, but he demanded and asked “Are you disobeying a direct order?”  I again implored him not to make me go back inside…  but by that time he was in front of me, spraying pepper foam in my eyes and all over my face until I somehow managed to crawl back inside the cell, screaming in pain.

I filed a complaint with the BSO internal affairs, who told me they would look into the matter.  On Thursday afternoon, I received a letter from them stating

Please be advised that after carefully reviewing the circumstances surrounding your complaint filed with this office on May 5, 2011, it has been determined that no employee misconduct has been identified.  Therefore, this matter has been closed in our office and no further action will be taken.

Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Sincerely,

Lt. Gregory S. Gordon, Operations Supervisor

Division of Internal Affairs (954) 321-1100

After carefully reviewing the circumstances?  They never spoke with me, never asked my side of the story.  The fact is that the BSO Deputy (Bevin England) LIED on his incident report.  See it for yourself.  (Click image to enlarge)

IF there truly was a “careful review” of the incident, don’t you think someone should have asked me what happened?

The abuse of power exhibited by these people charged with protecting innocent citizens is astounding.  We seem to be living in a police state, and that’s not the country I grew up in.

This is far from over.

———————————————————————————-

Today on the show

Sally Kohn, community organizer, political commentator and founder & chief education officer of the Movement Vision Lab will join me to talk about her USA Today piece “Don’t Believe the Hype About US Debt”  and whatever else we veer off in to.

And Gotta Laff joins in from The Political Carnival with this week’s stories:

Roger Ailes. ClusterFox. “Those gays.” ‘Nuff said.

At budget signing, Rick Scott indoctrinates our kids and kicks out non-supporters

Employees retire early to avoid Gov. Scott Walker’s budget cuts

Sarah Palin: “I love that smell of the emissions!”
plus PhotOh! A helmeted Sarah Palin at the Rolling Thunder event… wrote on her hand again

Statement from student re: faux scandal involving Rep. Anthony Weiner

70% of science award finalists are children of immigrants

TPC commenter: “You liberal fools are DISGUSTING! The only good abortionist is a DEAD one!”

Shades of BP: Fukushima tsunami plan a single page.

IRS okays nonprofit status to James O’Keefe’s “Project Veritas”

was forbidden to leave his home state + facing a civil suit in California

 

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May 252011
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I know it sounds like a trick question, but it’s a relevant one.  We’ve all heard the jokes that aren’t funny (because they hit too close to home) about the Dems being in the proverbial circular firing squad, or having the knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.  The reason just might be the other age old adage, that trying to get Democrats on the same page is akin to herding cats…. impossible.

I read a thought-provoking piece last week on DailyKos by activist/strategist Robert Cruickshank, provocatively titled “Why aren’t progressives as good at politics as Republicans?”  He said that the GOP is better at building and making coalitions work… which is one way to look at it.

The glass-half-empty party of me is just waiting to see how the Dems will fuck up the current momentum that’s been boosted by getting bin Laden, the GOP shooting themselves in the collective foot by backing the killing of Medicare and the win of a bright red Congressional seat in NY’s 26th district last night.

While the left is on the right side of history, the right has the money and media ownership behind it.  It’s a tough battle, but one worth being fought.

Robert Cruickshank joined me on the show this morning for a very lively discussion about all of those things.  Listen by clicking the player at the top of the post… or just subscribe to the podcast (for free) via iTunes or Stitcher.

After a news update from Ellen Ratner at the Talk Radio News Service, we headed up north…

Jeanne Devon (AKMuckraker) is the woman behind The Mudflats.  She is also a co-author with Frank Bailey and Ken Morris of the new Palin tell-all, just out today, Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years.  Jeanne joined me for the last half-hour of today’s show to talk about the former half-term governor of Alaksa, and the circus surrounding her.

A few other tidbits from today’s show and today’s news:

Florida now has the distinction of having the least popular governor in the country.  In the latest Quinnipiac poll released this morning, Rick Scott earned that distinction with  a 57-29% approval rating.  Unfortunately, we’re stuck with him for 3 1/2 more years, as Florida has no recall provisions.

Elizabeth Warren is a hero, and Patrick McHenry should be run out of Congress on a rail.  See what happened yesterday when the sorry excuse for a congressman called her a liar…

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

 

And finally, our thoughts, best wishes (and prayers, if you believe in that) are with the people of Joplin, MO, Oklahoma, Alabama and everywhere else that people are suffering due to the extreme weather events that seem to be plaguing the world on a more and more frequent basis. This morning, I started the show by reading an op ed penned by 350.org founder Bill McKibben that ran over the weekend in the Washington Post – “A Link Between Climate Change and Joplin Tornadoes? Never!“  Read it, and share it liberally please:

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Mo., you should not wonder: Is this somehow related to the tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, Ala., or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that (which, together, comprised the most active April for tornadoes in U.S. history). No, that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.

If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest — resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi — could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air.

It’s far smarter to repeat to yourself the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods — that’s the important thing. Just be careful to make sure you don’t let yourself wonder why all these record-breaking events are happening in such proximity — that is, why there have been unprecedented megafloods in Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan in the past year. Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years. No, better to focus on the immediate casualties, watch the videotape from the store cameras as the shelves are blown over. Look at the news anchorman standing in his waders in the rising river as the water approaches his chest.

Because if you asked yourself what it meant that the Amazon has just come through its second hundred-year drought in the past five years, or that the pine forests across the western part of this continent have been obliterated by a beetle in the past decade — well, you might have to ask other questions. Such as: Should President Obama really just have opened a huge swath of Wyoming to new coal mining? Should Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sign a permit this summer allowing a huge new pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta? You might also have to ask yourself: Do we have a bigger problem than $4-a-gallon gasoline?

Better to join with the U.S. House of Representatives, which voted 240 to 184 this spring to defeat a resolution saying simply that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” Propose your own physics; ignore physics altogether. Just don’t start asking yourself whether there might be some relation among last year’s failed grain harvest from the Russian heat wave, and Queensland’s failed grain harvest from its record flood, and France’s and Germany’s current drought-related crop failures, and the death of the winter wheat crop in Texas, and the inability of Midwestern farmers to get corn planted in their sodden fields. Surely the record food prices are just freak outliers, not signs of anything systemic.

It’s very important to stay calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies. If worst ever did come to worst, it’s reassuring to remember what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the Environmental Protection Agency in a recent filing: that there’s no need to worry because “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” I’m pretty sure that’s what residents are telling themselves in Joplin today.

Bill McKibben is founder of the global climate campaign 350.org and a distinguished scholar at Middlebury College in Vermont.

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May 232011
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We’re less than 18 months away from election day 2012, and one thing is certain… the Republicans don’t have a candidate.

Newt imploded immediately after announcing.  We’ll just have to hope he stays in the race for comic relief.

The teabaggers seem to like Herman Cain.  Yes, the same people who criticized candidate and even President Obama for his “lack of experience” wants to run the former head of a pizza company?  Put to the very basic test of appearing on Fox News Sunday yesterday, Cain pulled a Palin when softballer Chris Wallace asked him his thoughts on the Palestinians’ “right of return” — like a deer in headlights, or Palin when asked about the “Bush doctrine”….

Yeah, Herman Cain, who’ll tell you his policy on Afghanistan once he’s in the White House. Um, Herman, that’s really not how it works.

Mitch Daniels decided to blame his wife and kids when he announced he wouldn’t be running. So, that leaves us with Mittens, Huntsman (watch out for the quiet one) and Tim Pawlenty, who announced his official candidacy this morning (and none of the TV news channels carried it live…).

While some may dwell on the mundane personality of Pawlenty, I prefer to point out his “Willie Horton” problem. You see, while governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty pardoned a man convicted of statutory rape because his wife wanted to open a daycare center in his home. The reason he was granted the pardon extraordinary was so that she could do that. The fact that the victim of the statutory rape (at age 14) went on to become the man’s wife was also taken into account in this decision!

What they didn’t know (or bother to investigate) at the time, was that the statutory rapist had been regularly raping the daughter he had with the girl he knocked up at 14 and later married! Oops….

Read the full account in this 2010 article.

I find it odd that we haven’t heard more about it… until now.  Just this weekend, Politico ran a story about the leading GOP contenders and their various possible “Willie Hortons” in the political closet.   C’mon Dems, what are you waiting for?

Meanwhile, just proving that the Dick Armey hasn’t got a clue, in the wake of Mitch Daniels opting out of a run, he floated the idea of drafting Paul Ryan.  Oh please do!

As I said on the show Thursday, I still think our best chance of ever having a truly progressive president would be to start by electing real progressives to Congress.  Howie Klein does his part in trying to make that happen.  Along with the amazing Digby and John Amato of Crooks & Liars, he runs the Blue America PAC – whose purpose it is to vet potential candidates to find the true progressives, and then help them raise the funds necessary to mount a credible race.

Howie joined me on the show this morning to talk about what happened in the special election last week for CA’s 36th district (the progressive vote was split, ensuring a sleazy candidate with a D next to her name wins), and what is likely to happen tomorrow in the special election in NY’s 26th (where a Dem is likely to win in this Republican district for the first time in over 40 years).

Howie also filled us in on his contention that Paul Ryan just might be the reason the GOP loses control of the House in 2012.  I agree.

In hour two, Nicole Belle returned for our weekly Fools on the Hill segment to deconstruct the Sunday talking head shows.  Here’s what she brought us this week:

I think this Sunday was notable not so much for what was said, but what wasn’t said.  First and foremost, there’s almost nothing said from the left side of the aisle at all, but that’s hardly surprising.

Then there’s Newt Gingrich, who has had a very bad week since launching his presidential run.  He’s had to flip and flop and pledge his loyalty to the Paul Ryan budget plan and Rush Limbaugh.   Then news came out that Callista Gingrich disclosed an outstanding credit owed to Tiffany Jewelers somewhere upwards of a quarter million dollars.  Bob Schieffer asked about this fairly high sum, and Newt insisted that he is debt free and frugal.   Apparently, this is just another in a long list of issues –multiple marriages, corruption and ethics, financial impropriety–about which that you have to accept at face value he has no longer any problems.  That is the sum total of his method of dealing with the mountain of oppo research on him: “well, yeah, that was a problem then, but NOW I’m the right solution for America.”

Herman Cain is the newest Republican to toss his hat in the ring.  His first interview with Fox News Sunday shows that Cain is just not ready for primetime.  He tells Chris Wallace that he won’t disclose his Afghanistan policy until he’s elected President because he doesn’t have all the intel.  Huh?  Likewise, he said that he wants a flat tax of 23%, even though Bushies looked at it and determined that the lowest flat tax they could go with was 34%.  He didn’t even understand the concept of the Palestinian right of return to the occupied territories.

Dick Armey, the godfather of the Tea Party movement, tells Candy Crowley that he’s unimpressed with the candidates on the Republican side.  So he thinks it’s time to draft Paul Ryan to run for president.   For the record, Ryan’s not interested in 2012, but he won’t rule it out entirely.  I think what Armey is looking for, quite frankly, is a candidate who he can control, but that won’t ever be said out loud.

Speaking of Paul Ryan, he tells David Gregory that he thinks America will thank him for destroying the social safety net.  That’s why all these Republican congressman are carefully managing their town halls, because their constituents are just thanking them really loudly.

And then finally, listen very carefully to David Gregory in this web-only exclusive recap of his show.  Gregory talks in glowing, admiring terms of Paul Ryan, saying that Ryan’s budget is the defining issue of the election.  Of course, that ignores that most Americans polled say that they want Congress to focus on jobs and not spending cuts, by a margin of two to one.   Then Gregory moves on to Obama’s speech in front of AIPAC, but his framing is assumes entirely that this will be a problem for Obama.  Yup, that David Gregory really has his finger on the pulse…of the Republican agenda.

And just because everyone needs to see it… John Lithgow in one of his best performances ever, reading the Gingrich campaign’s press release after the meltdown of his ambitions to be president:

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May 192011
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That was today’s show in a nutshell… Well, the nut part was the talk about the rapture.

But let’s start with the serious stuff first. Nuclear power.  When the end of the world does come, it’ll be due to nukes… whether of the plants of mass destruction (my new name for nuclear power plants) or nuclear weapons. And the way things are going, it could happen soon. Very soon.

But we do have a chance to save the world.

Harvey Wasserman – the guy behind MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) back in the 70s – has never stopped fighting for the No Nukes cause.  The author of Solartopia reunited with his MUSE allies, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash and others to form NukeFree.org.

Harvey joined me on the show this morning to talk about the latest apocalyptic news from the Fukishima Daiichi plant of mass destruction.  What we now know is that the core in reactor #1 melted down within 16 hours of the earthquake/tsunami, and two others appear to be in meltdown mode.  Things there are really bad and getting worse, with little hope that the situation will get any better in the foreseeable future.

This is the latest news out of Japan.  This interview with  was  broadcast on RT  earlier this week.

The situation at the Fukushima plant is currently out of control, says Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks, who gave RT his insight into the recent developments in Japan.

The situation at the Fukushima plant is currently out of control, says Professor Christopher Busby from the European Committee on Radiation Risks, who gave RT his insight into the recent developments in Japan.

“Of course, it’s time for the Japanese government to take control. But having said that, it’s very hard to know how you could take control of the situation. The situation is essentially out of control,” Busby stressed.

“I believe personally that it’s a global problem – and not the Japanese government’s problem only,” he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said that his government was determined to “take responsibility” for Japan’s crippled nuclear plant “right to the end” as the operator of the plant said a revised roadmap to resolve the crisis would stick with the existing timeline.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Vice President Sakae Muto said the operator would maintain the revised plan but will add new tasks, such as boosting preparedness for tsunamis and improving conditions for workers.
Reports say there are signs that two further reactors, Nos. 2 and 3, at Japan’s troubled Fukushima plant may have gone into meltdown. Earlier it was confirmed that similar problems had occurred at the number one reactor during the first 16 hours following the plant’s being hit by the earthquake and tsunami.

The main thing you can do is call your representatives in the House and Senate and tell them to stop the funding for any new nuclear plants of mass destruction, and to shut down the ones that are still operating.  It’s time to embrace safe, renewable energy.  Find all the information you need at www.NukeFree.org.

Now on to the liberals.  I’m just about as liberal as we come… but I know that on November 6, 2012 (if the earth is still standing) I’ll be voting to re-elect Barack Obama for a second term.  Do I wish I could be voting for Bernie Sanders for president? You bet your ass.  But that’s not going to happen.

Today, a new progressive group called Roots Action launched an attack on Obama from the left.  Good. I think he needs a kick in the ass to move him in the right (left) direction.

I agree with every point they made, but as I told Roots Action Executive Director Aimee Allison on the show this morning, I think their efforts would be more effective if they followed their own advice at the end of that video (move the country to the left and the president will follow) by finding and helping to elect true progressives to local, state and congressional offices.

The other problem I think a campaign like this will have is getting traction from what little “liberal” media there is. I read Ted Rall‘s latest column, “ The Rise of the Obamabots” aloud this morning to point out that liberals have a very tough time finding venues from which to criticize President Obama:

It feels a little weird to write this, like I’m telling tales out of school and ratting out the Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy. But it’s true: there’s less room for a leftie during the Age of Obama than there was under Bush.

I didn’t realize how besotted progressives were by Mr. Hopey Changey.

Obama lost me before Inauguration Day, when he announced cabinet appointments thatdidn’t include a single liberal.

It got worse after that: Obama extended and expanded Bush’s TARP giveaway to the banks; continued Bush’s spying on our phone calls; ignored the foreclosure crisis;refused to investigate, much less prosecute, Bush’s torturers; his healthcare plan was asellout to Big Pharma; he kept Gitmo openexpanded the war against Afghanistan; dispatched more drone bombersused weasel words to redefine the troops in Iraq as “non-combat”; extended the Bush tax cuts for the rich; claiming the right to assassinate U.S. citizens; most recently, there was the forced nudity torture of PFC Bradley Manningand expanding oil drilling offshore and on national lands.

I was merciless to Obama. I was cruel in my criticisms of Obama’s sellouts to the right. In my writings and drawings I tried to tell it as it was, or anyway, as I saw it. I thought—still think—that’s my job. I’m a critic, not a suck-up. The Obama Administration doesn’t need journalists or pundits to carry its water. That’s what press secretaries and PR flacks are for.

Does Obama ever do anything right? Not often, but sure. And when he does, I shut up about it. Cartoonists and columnists who promote government policy are an embarrassment.

But that’s what “liberal” media outlets want in the age of Obama.

I can’t prove it in every case. (That’s how blackballing works.) The Nation and Mother Jones and Harper’s, liberal magazines that gave me freelance work under Clinton and Bush, now ignore my queries. Even when I offered them first-person, unembedded war reporting from Afghanistan. Hey, maybe they’re too busy to answer email or voicemail. You never know.

Other censors are brazen.

There’s been a push among political cartoonists to get our work into the big editorial blogs and online magazines that seem poised to displace traditional print political magazines like The Progressive. In the past, editorial rejections had numerous causes: low budgets, lack of space, an editor who simply preferred another creator’s work over yours.

Now there’ s a new cause for refusal: Too tough on the president.

I’ve heard that from enough “liberal” websites and print publications to consider it a significant trend.

That’s just a taste of a very juicy missive that you can, and should, read in its entirety.

But the point I was making is that we can’t change who the Dems will run for POTUS in 2012. We CAN change the makeup of the congress and our local governments, and that’s where efforts like those of Roots Action should concentrate now.

And now back to the end of the world.  Being someone who has absolutely no use for organized religion or the idea that there’s some God in the sky who controls what happens here on earth, the whole notion that some tv/radio evangelist believes that Saturday is Judgement Day or The Rapture has me in stitches.

I called on my friend John Fugelsang who was raised by a former priest and nun to explain it all to me.  After he got done slamming the fear mongers who are making the stupid really scared about what they say will happen on Saturday, he let us know what insanity they’re promoting.

According to Harold Camping of the absurdly named Family Radio, here’s what will happen.  When local time hits 6pm, earthquakes will destroy cities… it’ll be a rolling thing, so as each time zone hits 6:00, it’ll be hit with its own earthquake.

The true believers will be transported “up” and the rest of us will be left to suffer as the world descends further and further into chaos, with the END coming on October 21.  But, wait a minute, what do you mean “up”?  Up to heaven, to be with God, of course.  Oh, silly me.  (Just see the picture at the top of the post!)

So that explains the need for After the Rapture Pet Care and other such entrepreneurial businesses that have been popping up of late. Well, if the world is going to end on October 21, at least we’ll get to live the final five months without the holier-than-thou Christians telling us how to live our lives.

If you need some music for your Rapture party, you can always enjoy REM’s It’s The End of the World as We Know It, Cake’s awesome cover of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, or perhaps this mash-up of The Doors’ Riders on the Storm and Blondie’s Rapture

As for me, David and I have plans to see Lewis Black on Saturday night, showtime 8pm. Cool. All the self-righteous religious freaks will be gone by then.

Talk to you Monday… radio and rapture or not!

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May 182011
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It must be cursed. Poor Newt Gingrich can’t catch a break.  In 1993, he stood with the Republican party in trying to defeat “Hillary Care” and spoke passionately about the need for an individual mandate.  He pretty much echoed those ideas last Sunday on Meet The Press.  Watch for yourself:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What was that you said about the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare Newt?

Newt: “I don’t think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don’t think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate.  I think we need a national conversation to get to a better Medicare system with more choices for seniors.”

Newt: “There are things you can do to improve Medicare ”

David Gregory: “But not what Paul Ryan is suggesting, which is completely changing Medicare?”

Newt: “I think that is too big a jump. I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options, not one where you suddenly impose upon the (unintelligible). I’m against Obamacare which is imposing radical change, and I would be against a conservative imposing radical change.”

But, as the song goes, what a difference a day makes.  Newt’s flunkies were out the very next day saying that what you heard him say is not what he meant to say at all.  And Newt went on the defensive and apologized to the all-powerful Paul Ryan, and went on Greta Van Susteren’s show to eat crow:

A few of the key passages in that video (should you not care to subject yourself to it)…

(In response to the 1993 Meet the Press clip in which he advocated for an individual mandate): “That was a clip from 1993 when, in fact, the conservative position was to have individual insurance in opposition to Hillary-care because she (slurred unintelligible gibberish), so let’s get that out of the way”

In other words… I just said what the party line was then, and that’s not the party line now. So move along.  I must give kudos to Ms. Van Susteren, who actually followed up on that answer, as she seemed as incredulous about his response as I was!

But then Newt continued doing what he does best, digging the hole even deeper:

“I want to set a precedent for a new kind of presidential campaign, and I thank Bill Bennett and Ed Fulner frankly for helping me walk through what people were hearing, which is not what I intended to say. I made a mistake. And I called Paul Ryan today, who is a very close personal friend, and I said that.  Uh, the fact is that I have supported what Ryan’s tried to do in the budget. The fact is that my newsletter strongly praised the budget when he brought it out. And the budget vote is one that I am happy to say I would have voted for, I will defend, and I’d be glad to answer any Democrat who attempts to distort what I said.”

Again, to my surprise, Greta once again asked for clarification!  Was his mistake in choosing the wrong words?   Great was almost saying she couldn’t figure out what he was claiming was the mistake!   So, Newt dug the hole even deeper…

Newt: “Look, I made TWO mistakes.  First of all, if you go back and listen to the question David Gregory asked me, I should have said I’m not gonna answer it. It’s a hypothetical, baloney question that had no hope of happening. The Republicans don’t control the Senate, they don’t have the White House, they can’t do what Obama did, and I should have just dismissed it.”

Seriously Newt?  Let’s revisit the question David Gregory asked, shall we?

David Gregory: “What about entitlements? The Medicare trust fund and stories that have come out over the weekend, is now gonna be depleted by 2024 – five years earlier than predicted. Do you think Republicans ought to buck the public opposition and really move forward to completely change Medicare, turn it into a voucher program where you give seniors some premium support so that they can go out and buy private insurance?”

Where’s the hypothetical in that?  That’s exactly what’s on the table right now.  It’s a legitimate question which you could not have chosen to “dismiss” as a serious presidential candidate.  Newt then went on to detail his second mistake…

“The second mistake was some of the words I used.  But I was trying to say something that is really important.  We are at the beginning of a process of solving the entitlement problems of the United States. These are enormous challenges. I believe deeply that the American people have to be an integral part of it. I think that what Paul Ryan has done is he has started that process. He has begun the opportunity – something which President Obama has failed to do – to have an honest conversation, to go to the American people, to share with them his current ideas … and, and he agreed, and he said publicly, obviously things are going to change some, we’re gonna look for improvements, we’re gonna look for  alternatives, we’re gonna try to make sure the country feels comfortable … That is the opposite of what David Gregory asked.

So, I, this afternoon, called Paul cuz I thought it was the only practical thing to do. I am a big fan of his, I’ve spent 33 years of my life trying to help grow and strengthen the House Republican party, I want to make sure that every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest Democratic ad, so let me say, on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, and it’s cuz I have said publicly those words were inaccurate and unfortunate, and I’m prepared to stand up and – when I make a mistake, and I’m going to on occasion, I’m gonna stand up and share with the American people that was a mistake, because that way we can have an honest conversation.”

I know… I was shaking my head while transcribing it too.  Let’s review, shall we?  Newt makes some statements this past Sunday on Meet the Press that are right in line with the statements he made on MTP in 1993.  His advisors (apparently two guys named Bill Bennett and Ed Fulner) told him that he fucked up.  That was the GOP position the last time Newt held elected office, but not today.  So they “helped him walk through what people were hearing” (ie, what he SAID) and try to position it as something else.

So then he threatens that if any Democratic should dare to use the actual words he spoke, he will go after them because that’s not what he meant to say… and “that way we can have an honest conversation”?  And you wonder why I always refer to the GOP as living in “opposite world”?

And when Greta dared to ask him about the “$250,000-$500,000″ owed to Tiffany’s … well, that question he refused to answer.  Keep going Newt, you’ve got a little deeper to dig before you hit China.

On today’s show, in addition to dissecting the above Gingrich dilemma, I also had a few guests.

South Florida Sun Sentinel columnist Stephen Goldstein joined me for a lively discussion about Florida and politics in general.

And I responded to a pitch from a right wing public relations firm who is taking credit for the rise of the Tea Party.  They offered their CEO as a guest, so I bit.  And we learned that the “Tea Party” movement was a product of a massive public relations effort – not the grassroots activism they claimed.  We learned that Randall Terry was a client, the Michigan Militia was a client, the Gun Owners of America is a client and they take clients on an anonymous basis with questionable benefactors…. and a whole lot more.

So if you wonder why an event with tens of people with misspelled signs and tea bags hanging from their hats gets massive news coverage, and hundreds of thousands of people marching on Madison, WI don’t… we might have gotten to the bottom of it this morning.

Tomorrow on the show, NukeFree.org’s Harvey Wasserman on the latest from the nuclear fallout in Japan and what’s at stake here, and comedian John Fugelsang will help us end the week with a laugh or three…  Talk to you then, radio or not!

 

 

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May 112011
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My boyfriend David and I were in Ft. Lauderdale the other day, having lunch at the delicious East Coast Burrito Factory when we spotted an interesting billboard.  It was one of the big, expensive ones, and it looked like this:

I was intrigued, so I wrote down the url, and looked it up.  It turns out, I recognized the name “Atheist Bob” as someone who used to call into my morning show on WINZ, and reached out to invite him on the show to talk about this.  Atheist Bob Senatore is the president of the group Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists (FLASH), who are putting on a Rapture Party to coincide with the date some wingnut radio preacher, Harold Camping, says will be judgment day.

Ironically enough, the story of The Rapture coming as predicted by Camping is on the front page of today’s South Florida Sun Sentinel, with a piece called “Billboards Along Florida’s Turnpike Warn that May 21 is Judgment Day.”  I had never noticed those billboards, but am anxiously anticipating how Mr. Camping will explain the lack of massive earthquakes shaking the planet to its core on May 21 beginning at 6pm.  It should be fun.

Although my conversation with Bob Senatore and Ken Loukinen, National Director for American Atheists was mostly in fun and jest, I did bring up a few serious questions about the intrusion of religion into our government – on the local, state and national levels.  Unfortunately, the right wing evangelical nutjobs seem to have more and more power, while the constitutional provision of separation of church and state is increasingly ignored.

Once again, I’ll point you to my being ejected from a supposed “town hall meeting” with MY congressman by private security and an off-duty Ft. Lauderdale police officer hired to do security for the mega-church at which the “meeting” was held.  The entire thing is, to me, evidence that the Calvary Chapel should lose its tax-exempt status.  But more on that at a later date (I promise!).

We covered a lot of territory on the show today, including a look at the austerity measures and cuts to social programs that benefit the neediest in New York City that Mayor Michael Bloomberg is attempting to push through.  I spoke with Allison Sesso, Deputy Executive Director of Human Services Council of NYC about this week’s activities and tomorrow’s main events, coordinated by the OnMay12 coalition.  People all over the country are finally standing up and saying “ENOUGH!”

And finally, will Alan Simpson just please go home already?  This buffoon of a man continues to show what an absolute ass he is.  Yesterday, I played some audio from his appearance at an event for the Investment Company Institute, in which he said Social Security is “not a retirement plan” but a “Ponzi” scheme.  He also excoriated AARP for doing what his audience seems to be in the business of doing – making money – and then finished his statement by flipping them off.  No, I’m not kidding. Watch for yourself:

 

The highlighted part of the clip runs around 9 minutes, and it’s worth watching for the absurdity of it all. Again, I played some of the clips on the show yesterday, and afterwards came across this piece by Huffington Post’s Ryan Grim, in which he writes of his interview with Simpson, when he attempted to point out the errors in Simpson’s alleged facts.

HuffPost suggested to Simpson during a telephone interview that his claim about life expectancy was misleading because his data include people who died in childhood of diseases that are now largely preventable. Incorporating such early deaths skews the average life expectancy number downward, making it appear as if people live dramatically longer today than they did half a century ago. According to the Social Security Administration’s actuaries, women who lived to 65 in 1940 had a life expectancy of 79.7 years and men were expected to live 77.7 years.

“If that is the case — and I don’t think it is — then that means they put in peanuts,” said Simpson.

Simpson speculated that the data presented to him by HuffPost had been furnished by “the Catfood Commission people” — a reference to progressive critics of the deficit commission who gave the president’s panel that label.

Told that the data came directly from the Social Security Administration, Simpson continued to insist it was inaccurate, while misstating the nature of a statistical average: “If you’re telling me that a guy who got to be 65 in 1940 — that all of them lived to be 77 — that is just not correct. Just because a guy gets to be 65, he’s gonna live to be 77? Hell, that’s my genre. That’s not true,” said Simpson, who will turn 80 in September.

Understanding life expectancy rates at age 65 in 1940 is central to understanding Social Security itself. If the very nature of the population has changed dramatically since the program’s creation, it stands to reason that the program itself requires dramatic changes: Means testing, creating private accounts and further upping the retirement age for the program have all been proposed by its opponents.

But if the population is largely similar today, then only modest changes would be needed to maintain Social Security. Critics of the program therefore have an incentive to dramatize life-expectancy stats.

But those dramatic claims aren’t buttressed by the data: A man who turned 65 in 2010 has a life expectancy of 83.1 — barely five years more than he had in 1940. Women have increased their life expectancy at roughly the same rate. Since 1940, the retirement age for drawing Social Security benefits has been lifted from 65 to 67, meaning that people are receiving a net of only three extra years of benefits than they were 70 years ago.

The second prong of the Social Security critique relies on the coming wave of Baby Boomer retirements. This flood of retirees will tip the ratio of workers to pensioners out of whack, the argument goes.

“The statistics right now show a totally unsustainable program that cannot possibly function when 10,000 a day are coming into the Social Security system at 65,” Simpson explained to HuffPost. “Was that ever planned [for]? That 10,000 a day would suddenly coming into the system?”

In fact, it was planned for: The Social Security Administration tracks births every year and knew by 1947 that 1946 had been a boom year. When the system was reformed in 1983 by the Greenspan Commission, the Baby Boom was specifically taken into account.

“The fundamental ratio of beneficiaries to workers was fully taken into account in the 1983 financing provisions and, as a matter of fact, was known and taken into account well before that,” Social Security’s actuaries noted in 1994.

The explanation for the shortfall — the program will only be able to pay roughly four-fifths of scheduled benefits after 2037 — is much simpler: Social Security’s actuaries didn’t see the wild swing in income inequality that came about since 1983. Income has been largely flat for the middle class while rising for the wealthy. Social Security taxes apply only to the first $106,000, so increases for the rich don’t contribute to the trust fund. And compensation increases that come in the form of more expensive health care benefits are also not subject to Social Security taxes.

Simpson said that questioning his data wasn’t helping to solve the underlying problem.

“This is the first time, the first time — and Erskine [Bowles, the deficit commission co-chair,] and I have been talking for a year and many months — that anyone’s going to sit around and play with statistics like this,” he told HuffPost. “Anything I tell you, you repudiate. You’re the first guy in a year and a half who’s stood out here with a sharp pencil playing a game that doesn’t have a damn thing to do with: ‘What the hell are you going to do with the system?’”

The former senator enjoys a pension for his service in Congress, which lasted fewer than 20 years.

Ryan joined me on the show to discuss this mind-boggling interview with the man who should never have been tapped to co-chair the Deficit Commission in the first place.

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