Lawmakers Consider Alternative Plan to Break Budget Impasse

Washington – Details of a secret Congressional plan to break the long-standing deadlock in budget negotiations leaked out Thursday. US lawmakers are considering the use of an unorthodox method favored by the Kyrgyzstani Parliament – sacrificial sheep.

Although Kyrgyzstanis use it for banishing the twin devils of ethnic strife and revolution, Kyrgyzstani oil lobbyist Zhogorku Kenesh said the ritual could be redesigned for US budget purposes for as little as KGS 7 billion Kyrgyzstani som and an arranged lesbian marriage of President Obama’s eldest daughter Malia Ann Obama to Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva.

The initial proposal, offered by Republicans, called for 6 sheep to be slaughtered and placed on a huge altar recently dedicated at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley, CA. However, the proposal immediately met resistance from members of the Republican’s own Christian conservative wing.

“We’re not so bothered by the pagan ritual – after all, it’s for debt reduction and tax incentives for conservative Christian churches – but slaughtering 6 sheep is totally unacceptable,” said Bryan Fischer, Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association.

666, The Mark of The Beast
“The number 6 is an important, symbolic number for Christians. It constitutes one-third of the dangerous mark of the beast, 666. By allowing this number of the Muslim devils in this most unholiest of ways, we are inviting doom and total annihilation by one-third of the Islamic radical empire,” Fischer said.

In order to save the fledgling compromise, Sen. Harry Reed (D-Asslandia) stepped forward with a proposal to raise the number of sheep to be slaugtered to 7. However, Tea Party activists in the Republican caucus killed the idea.

The Partiers insist on cutting the sheep budget by 99% and the abolishment of President Obama’s signature health care bill. According to the Republican Institute of Financial Analysis, the sheep cut alone would erase the Federal deficit within 90 days. Republican officials described the Institute’s findings as, “very insightful”.

“We have to watch out for this sort of insidious attack on our freedoms,” said Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-Moronohoma). “First we’ll be required to sacrifice sheep every evening before dinner and once lulled by the aroma of the devilish flesh, carted off to concentration camps operated by the socialist Federal Emergency Management Agency.”

Liberals were equally disappointed with the plan. Broadcaster Rachel Maddow, speaking on condition of anonymity on her news show, floated the idea that all sheep be supplied by local, humane farms that do not use hormones on their animals.

Maddow Touts Sacrificial Celery
“I’m vegetarian, so I’d prefer they sacrifice stalks of celery myself. However, I advocate bipartisanship with those asswipes over at the RNC,” she added. “Anything to make those skeevy bastards look bad.”

Further problems are expected from a Republican-sponsored rider to the bill. Called the “Rich People Are Better Than You Act”, it requires most of the leftover carcasses be distributed to the Top 0.999% of wage earners, along with a $356,000 tax credit just because.

Democrats object to the best meat going to the wealthy, wool-clad elite while only the offal, eyes, and tail are promised to the bottom taxpayers.

The Republican plan calls for middle-income families to pay a 37% tax on all orders of lamb chops or rack of lamb served at the haute Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. Democrats also expect Republicans to cut the entitlement after its passage and repossess the sheep parts when low-income families default on their orvis aries windfall. The low-income families will likely be taxed an Offal Abatement Fee of about 69% to cover the costs of removing the left over pig.

With the new proposal already on bumpy footing, Republican lawmakers have called for Newt Gingrich to mediate the ongoing disputes.

“Newt’s the perfect man for the job. Very fair. A very learned man. And, he’s a hell of a Republican,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Sheep Sexingville, VA).

“Not partial in what so any way, except in his strong American belief in the truth,” Cantor added.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

Weekly Diaspora: How Bad U.S.-Latin American Policy Fuels Unauthorized Immigration

By Catherine A. Traywick, Media Consortium blogger

Too often, the immigration debate in this country ignores the role U.S. foreign policy plays in fueling unauthorized immigration. But as the Obama administration continues to stall on immigration reform in the United States—all the while moving forward with two contentious trade agreements with Colombia and Panama—the connections between the two are worth examining.

CAFTA impoverished Salvadoran farmers

During President Obama’s tour of Latin America last month, ongoing mass protests underscored the U.S. government’s own hand in stimulating unauthorized immigration to its borders. Reporting on the president’s visit to El Salvador, for example, Juan Gonzales of Democracy Now! notes that hundreds of Salvadorans gathered to demand the renegotiation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which devastated the country’s agricultural sector, impoverishing and displacing farmers. Considered alongside the country’s tragic history of U.S.-backed military repression (which Democracy Now! explores in greater detail), it should be no surprise that El Salvador is the second largest source of undocumented immigrants to the United States.

NAFTA displaces one million Mexican farmers

The first, of course, is Mexico—which has its own sordid history of U.S. involvement. As Michelle Chen at Colorlines.com explains, “the deregulation of agriculture under [the North American Free Trade Agreement in the 1990s] coincided with the devastation of Mexico’s farm sector, displacing some one million farmers and driving many northward across the border in search of work.”

While NAFTA created considerable economic opportunities for U.S. businesses eager to conduct business in low-wage Mexico, it also allowed American farmers to flood the Mexican market with government-subsidized corn—destroying the country’s own corn industry and bankrupting thousands of agricultural workers.

Obama’s 180 on Latin American policy

It’s worth noting that Obama, during his presidential campaign, promised to overhaul NAFTA on the grounds that “our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street, it [sic] should also be good for Main Street.” Yet, as Steve Ellner argues in the latest issue of In These Times, Obama gradually abandoned his initially critical stance on Latin American policy—choosing instead to “placate rightist critics.” Ellner adds that Obama’s shifting position on the pending (CAFTA-modeled) trade agreement with Colombia—moving “from opposition…to lukewarm endorsement…to vigorous support—is just one example of his turnabout on Latin American policy.”

While Obama has taken some steps to address potential labor abuses in the agreement (NAFTA and CAFTA’s absence of such measures is a key criticism of the deals), trade unionists in Colombia and the United States alike have voiced skepticism:

Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen argued against the agreement by pointing out that 15 million Colombians representing 82 percent of the working population are not recognized as workers and thus under the law “have no rights.”

Big Business funds paramilitary killings in Colombia

The skepticism is well founded, as the United States has a long history of favoring business interests over the rights of workers—both at home and abroad. Earlier this month, for instance, evidence surfaced that the Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International may have hired Colombian paramilitary groups “responsible for countless killings” as security for its Colombian facilities. This is in spite of the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) concluded an investigation of Chiquita in 2007, ruling that any money paid out to the paramilitary groups—one of which was a designated terrorist watch group—was extorted, and that “Chiquita never received any actual services in exchange for them.”

Jim Lobe and Aprille Muscara of Inter Press Service report that the documents were released by the National Security Archive (NSA), an independent research group, on the same day that President Obama met with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to discuss labor rights in the pending trade agreement. According to Michael Evans, NSA’s chief researcher on Colombia, the evidence against Chiquita is clear.

“What we still don’t know is why U.S. prosecutors overlooked what appears to be clear evidence that Chiquita benefited from these transactions,” he told IPS.

U.S. banks launder billions for Mexican drug cartels

Even more recently, news broke that the federal government failed to prosecute a number of U.S. banks guilty of laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels. New America Media/Al Diá reports that Wachovia (now owned by Wells Fargo) alone moved $378.4 billion for cartels through money exchangers and $4.7 billion handled in bulk cash between 2004 and 2007. Yet this past March, the federal government formally dropped all charges against the bank, per a settle agreement reached the previous year, and despite Wachovia’s indirect role in financing a five-year drug war that has taken countless lives and continues to drive unauthorized immigration to the United States.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

My Conversation With Donald Trump

OK, I admit it. I’m not a US citizen. I’ll never be President. I’ll be a permanent member of the no-fly list and my phone will be constantly bugged. Jan Brewer will kick me out of the country because I have no papers proving who I am or where I was born. I’m very disappointed to find I’m some sort of exotic, white “anchor baby“.

Note to self: Avoid Arizona.

Now I know what it’s like to be Barack Hussein Obama – if that is indeed his real name.

Family legend said I was born in Elkins, WV. But sorting through my personal papers I was unable to find a real birth certificate bearing the imprint of Orly Taitz‘s signet ring in wax. In fact, I don’t even have a pitiful “Certificate of Live Birth” like Obama’s. All I have is a scrap of paper looking as though it’s been ripped from a ship’s log. All it says is, “A kid was born just off the coast of Somalia during our last pirate takeover. Don’t know his name. Not sure of the date, but it wasn’t long ago. But this is all the proof he needs to show he was actually born. He’ll probably grow up to be a liberal communist anyway.” It was signed and Ensign Hikaru Hussein Sulu.

My Mom Was a Nigerian Official’s Wife
As I dug deeper, I learned I’d been abandoned to a Norfelia Lumbago, the wife of a Nigerian government official who couldn’t access his money held up in Banco Lagos until he came out of exile. Apparently, I had a very poor childhood. Mom never did get the money.

From Lagos, I went to a madrasa in Pakistan where I learned a useful trade making amateur Betamax videos for worldwide news distribution. It was a very prestigious career. I was even allowed to sleep on the softest rocks in our Tora Bora studio cave. I minored in bomb making.

I tell you all of that to tell you this, I – like every member of the Republican Party – want to run for President in 2012. I figured I’d be a shoo-in with a platform of rolling government back to its state in 1850 and by being the first Presidential candidate running with two part-time Vice Presidential candidates. Michele Bachmann, because she looks so scrumptious in a bikini and always tells the truth as relayed to her by God. And, Sarah Palin because she looks adorable with that naughty school marm vibe she has going on. Plus, she said she could only be Vice President for half a term. She needed to take time off for the salmon fishing and snowmobile racing seasons.

Just as I was ready to launch my pre-campaign to decide whether I was going to kick off my exploratory committee leading to my final decision to announce, at some time in the future, that I thought I might be running, but tell everyone, “I might be running or I might not be running. That’s for me to know and you to find out,” Donald Trump called.

A ‘Fabulous Opportunity’
Of course I met with The Donald™ – that’s what his friends call him. I believe I’m the third or fourth friend he has. I’m so honored. During the meeting he told me he had a fabulous opportunity for me. He said, “I have a fabulous opportunity for you.”

He said, “I’m richer than God and the smartest man in the world too. Of course, that goes without saying. I know I can talk to you like I’ll talk to Cesar Chavez and convince him to give us his oil for free. Nothing to it. It’s an exciting, fabulous, stupendous piece of cake. I’d offer him a casino or a missile up his butt and he’d be all over the deal. Fantastic. Smart man, that Chavez. No nose for business though. Not like me. I’m world-famous. I even have my own university for God’s sake.”

“Um Mr. Trump, I’m a little confused. Why did you invite me to this fabulous, high-end Waffle House to talk?”

Mr. Trump Loves the Waffles
“Well first, I love the waffles. But I really want to make you a deal, because you know, I know, you know what a fabulous businessman I am.”

“Here’s the deal. A really good deal. Fantastic actually. You show me your birth certificate – because we all know you’re lying about having one – and I’ll release my tax information. I gave the same deal to Obama, but the man is an imbecile. Turned me down. Shows why I’m rich and he’s not.”

“Of course everyone would read it and see just how rich I am. Mega-rich! Uber-rich! Richest man in the world, no matter what Forbes says! They always hated me for being so rich, but I’m going to buy their lying asses out. It’ll be a fabulous deal.”

“So when can we sign the papers? I’ll even let you keep the luxurious gold Bic embossed with the Trump logo if you want.”

That’s how I came to tell this story now. My campaign is in ruins. I told the truth about not being a citizen and Mr. Trump released his taxes. He was right, it caused quite a stir.

Mr. Trump offered me a lot of money, a fabulous amount actually, to go away. That’s how I’ve become a rich man like Mr. Trump. I have millions now and Mr. Trump found me a fabulous new job as Venezuelan oil minister. I get to do super deals and money is no object. I’m smarter now that I’m rich too. Cesar and I go to dinner all the time. We’re great friends because we’re both so rich and I still have that butt-missile Mr. Trump gave me wholesale (because multi-millionaires never pay retail). But I’m terribly sad about one thing … I really miss Sarah and Michele. We could really do some fancy clubbing down here. I even have a penthouse in the Trump Caracas Holiday Inn.

Fabulous! Just super-gargantuous really!

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

RomneyCare Vs ObamaCare

2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was asked how the health care plan he put into place in Massachusetts differs from the one championed by President Obama.

 

Weekly Audit: Government Shutdown Averted, But At What Cost?

By Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama reached an eleventh hour budget deal on Friday night, to fund the government for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year and avert a government shutdown for the time being.

The deal would cut about $38 billion, Amy Goodman reports for Democracy Now!, including $13 billion in cuts to the Department of Health, Labor, and Human Services.

John Nichols describes the nuts and bolts of the stopgap plan in The Nation:

The arrangement worked out Friday night averted the threatened shutdown with a two-step process. First, the House and Senate passed a one-week spending bill that addressed the immediate threat. That should give Congress and the White House time to finalize a fiscal 2011 spending deal—on which they have agreed in principle—before an April 15 deadline.

The Republicans will not be allowed to zero out Planned Parenthood. Instead they were allowed a separate, largely symbolic vote, which passed the House, but which is expected to die in the Senate.

Planned Parenthood and ACORN

Nick Baumann of Mother Jones argues that the deal is a case study in the priorities of the Democratic Party. At the last minute, congressional Democrats rallied to save Planned Parenthood. The venerable family planning organization was under fire because of an undercover video sting by Lila Rose, a onetime protegee of conservative propagandist James O’Keefe, who himself pulled a similar stunt against the anti-poverty, pro-voter registration group ACORN in 2009.

O’Keefe’s videos created a media firestorm and Congress rushed to de-fund ACORN with little protest from Democrats. Subsequent independent investigations revealed that the tapes had been deceptively edited. Vindication came too late for ACORN, which was forced to close its doors.

Baumann argues that Democrats spared Planned Parenthood and sacrificed ACORN because ACORN didn’t have friends in the right places:

Abortion rights affect everyone. But to put it bluntly, big Dem donors care a lot more about abortion rights than they do about community organizers in inner cities.

Specious “victory”

In the days leading up to the deal, the media created the expectation that the budget was a game that one party would “win.” Paul Waldman of The American Prospect argues that in his eagerness to declare “victory” in the budget showdown, President Obama is undermining his own political agenda.

It would have been nice if when announcing the budget deal, President Obama had set aside the politician’s natural inclination to declare victory and his own preference for casting himself as the adult who settles things between the squabbling children. He could have said something like this: “The deal we just made is preferable to a government shutdown, which would have been truly disastrous. But nobody should mistake it for anything but the tragedy it is. As a result of the cuts Republicans have forced, people who rely on government services will suffer, and the economy will lose jobs. The Republicans held the government hostage, and we had no choice but to pay the ransom.”

By rushing to champion the spending cuts, Obama may be saving face, but he’s also setting a precedent that will make the next round of cuts even easier. The truth is that Democrats conceded under duress, they didn’t volunteer to cut spending because they thought it would help the country.

Indeed, Democrats agreed to far more cuts than the Republicans initially asked for. Cenk Uygur of the Young Turks argues that the Tea Party and the ostensibly more mainstream Republicans set up a very effective good cop/bad cop negotiating strategy in which the Democrats would offer cuts and the mainstream Republicans would say, “I’d like to help you, really I would, but you know my partner isn’t going to like that.”

Corporate taxes

Joshua Holland of AlterNet explains how corporate American has successfully lobbied to shift an ever-increasing share of its tax burden onto the backs of individual citizens:

Well, consider this: in the 1940s, corporations paid 43 percent of all the federal income taxes collected in this country. In the 1950s, they picked up the tab for 39 percent. But by the time the 1990s rolled around, corporations were paying just 18.9 percent of federal income taxes, and they forked over the same figure in the first decade of this century. We – working people – paid the difference.

Something to think about as we prepare to file our income tax returns.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the economy bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Audit for a complete list of articles on economic issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The MulchThe Pulse and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Diaries

Advertise Blogads