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Sep 2012 10

by Lee Camp

Look around you. Are there zombies? Are there vampires? If you answered yes, then maybe you don’t need to watch this video. If you answered no, then I’m about to change your mind…or eat it.

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Aug 2012 24

by Nicole Powers

“Ignorance is bliss…If I hadn’t taken the red pill, this would be so easy.”
– Lee Camp

Unless you’re the kind of rabid right winger who gets up at 7 AM on a Saturday to watch Fox & Friends, which I’m assuming you’re not if you’re reading this, Lee Camp is probably the best comedian you’ve never seen on TV. And there’s a good reason for that. Back in February 2008, when the Faux News Channel made the glorious mistake of interviewing him live on air, he took the opportunity to present a monologue on the nature of the network – calling it a “parade of propaganda” and a “festival of ignorance.” The purported “news” show reacted by cutting away to an anchor in another part of the studio, who was surrounded by four foxy female models dressed in miniaturized Lieutenant Uhura outfits, who previewed an upcoming segment on Captain Kirk’s sex appeal – which underscored Camp’s point rather nicely (no disrespect to William Shatner or his undeniable animal magnetism intended).

In the intervening four years, as the economic climate degenerated Camp’s political awareness increased, and though a few doors closed for him, many tent flaps unexpectedly opened up – thanks to the birth of Occupy Wall Street. Camp’s philosophy was naturally aligned with that of the founders of the movement, and the comedian has supported and promoted it since its inception, through street performances at numerous encampments and via his popular Moment of Clarity videos (which can now be seen on SG). Camp recently published a collection of his finest Moment of Clarity revolutionary rants in book form, and has just released a second riotously funny comedy album on Stand Up Records called Pepper Spray The Tear Away, which is essential listening for anyone who gets nostalgic for the scent of capsicum.

SuicideGirls caught up with Camp in New York City to talk politics, the upcoming presidential election, Occupy, apathy – and how to save the Doritos munching masses from themselves.

Read our exclusive interview with Lee Camp on SuicideGirls.com.

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Aug 2012 22

by Steven Whitney

We’ve all had the same frustrating experience – something goes wrong or breaks. We don’t have the skill set or time to address it, but fortunately a self-described “expert” rushes in, promising to save the day…and every single thing he or she does only deepens the problem, making it actually worse than if nothing at all had been done.

By every conceivable measure, the present – and 112th – Congress is the worst in our nation’s history. Worse in every aspect than the 80th Congress of 1947-1948, heretofore considered the worst by historians and Washingtonians, and so bad it was labeled the “Do-Nothing” Congress, first by President Harry Truman, and then by the public at large.

That 80th Congress passed just over 900 bills into law during its two year session – split about evenly, 454 in 1947 and 449 in 1948. For that dismal showing, more incumbents were defeated in the 1948 election than ever before in our history.

While I’m aware that statistics are not fun – except for baseball fans – fair-minded voters need to know the truth. Concerned citizens can’t just make things up (well, actually, they apparently can – Republicans have been doing it for decades, but then I wouldn’t describe them as “concerned”). So here are some facts.

By comparison, our broken 112th Congress passed just 81 bills in 2011. Of that total, ten – Public Laws 112-15, 112-22, 112-23, 112-38, 112-39, 112-47, 112-48, 112-49, 112-50, and 112-60 – merely named or renamed different Postal Service facilities, usually in honor of a fallen veteran, police officer, or firefighter. Three more – 112-12, 112-19, and 112-20 – “provided appointment” of three separate Citizen Regents to the Smithsonian. Another two bills – 112-2 and 112-31 – named one courthouse each in Arizona and Missouri. A couple of other flaky bills were done – 112-65 changed an eligibility standard for the Blue Star Mothers of America, and 112-66 made a “minor” wording change to the charter of the American Legion.

These are 20 of the 81 bills passed in 2011 – nearly 25% – leaving only 61 actual bills that could be judged the legitimate business of Congress. And those 61 bills represent only 13% of the number of laws passed by the infamous “Do-Nothing” Congress in its first year.

But the 112th wasn’t through. This year they’ve done even less while embarrassing themselves even more, with only 57 bills passed by the summer recess at the end of June. Of those, 19 bills approved, as in the previous year, the naming of post offices and courthouses. Another 2 approved “minor” word changes in previous bills. Leaving only 36 bills of any substance whatsoever passed into law so far this year – compared to 449 passed in 1948 by the “Do-Nothing” Congress.

In its second year, the 112th Congress has accomplished only 8% of what the previous “worst Congress in history” accomplished. So an immediate question arises: what does this Congress do when they aren’t certifying names for post offices and courthouses?

Democrats have proposed both large and small bills that would reduce income tax for Americans making less than $250,000 per year, provide quality health care for millions, give financial assistance to unemployed workers, mandate help for families with underwater mortgages, and scores of acts that would provide incentives to businesses to hire workers. All of these have been blocked by Republicans of the 112th using filibusters and/or clotures. Not just one or two or nine – they blocked all of them. Especially appalling was the day every single Republican Senator sided with a filibuster blocking the American Jobs Act from even coming to a vote on the floor.

But to show their hearts are in the right place, Republicans did introduce 467 bills investigating Democrats in various government offices – without finding even one instance of criminal malfeasance. They also proffered 36 anti-gay marriage bills, 46 bills to ban abortions and limit women’s health care options, 113 bills on religion (anti-Muslim and/or pro-Christian), 73 bills concerning family relationships, and 604 bills aimed at giving corporations and the upper 2% even more tax breaks at the expense of the poor and middle-class. And they teamed up with the National Rifle Association to present 72 bills making firearms more accessible to everyone, legislation that might not gain much traction in Aurora, Colorado and the Sikh community of Milwaukee. To top it all off, Republicans introduced 33 bills aimed at repealing the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, which they quickly dubbed Obamacare because they didn’t want folks to hear the phrases “affordable care” and “patient protection,” two aspects of the health care industry that have been sorely lacking the last decade.

Do the math. As Republicans wasted everyone’s time with bogus “social engineering” proposals, our 112th Congress passed only 97 bills of real legislation in two years – compared to 903 passed by the 80th Congress, slightly less than 11% of its most indolent predecessor.

So if the 80th was “Do-Nothing” and the worst Congress in history, what does that make the 112th?

At least the 80th Congress did not block everything the Democrats proposed – just the bigger issues. When it came to matters of running the government – like the 1947 debt ceiling – everyone on both sides of the aisle was on the same page. Back then, while Republicans were still fierce opponents of Democrats, they were not ready to sacrifice either the good of the American people or the machinery of government itself merely to gain the approval of the extreme right-wing of their party.

Meanwhile, the 112th is actively laying waste to our country just to toe the party line and win the next election – what’s good for their country does not even merit a moment of their thoughts. Their intentions are even worse than their abysmal record, confirming in every way possible that they are far worse than nothing.

This is not a wonky toaster we’re talking about, it’s our country – or what’s left of it. So who should we hold responsible?

Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein are perhaps the two most respected chroniclers of all things Washington for the last 30 years. Because of his association with the Brookings Institute, Mann is viewed as center-left; Ornstein’s years with the American Enterprise Institute place him center right. Whenever the two men collaborated in the past, D.C. insiders listened carefully, and often made their “suggested” adjustments. But nobody on the right is listening to reason anymore.

Mann and Ornstein’s new book, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks, unequivocally states: “…we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of (Washington’s) problem lies with the Republican Party.” Over the course of the book’s 200+ pages, the authors list many well-documented reasons why the title is justified: “the appalling spectacle of hostage taking” during last year’s budget crises, when Republicans put “political expedience above the national interest,” resulting in a downgrade of America’s credit rating; the abuse by Republicans of Senate filibusters and anonymous “holds” on nominations and legislation “merely to thwart majority rule;” the GOP resembling “an apocalyptic cult run by zealots and intellectual dead-enders;” Republicans telling lies on the floors of Congress “without censure,” and…the list goes on. At the end, Mann and Ornstein summarize today’s Republican Party as “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of its political opposition.”

The public apparently agrees. The approval rating for our esteemed 112th is hovering just around 10% – the worst ever recorded. 30 points lower than the IRS, 14 points lower than Nixon at the height of Watergate, and 6 points lower than BP at the high-water mark of their Gulf Oil Spill. And yet, if historical voting patterns hold true, 85 to 95% of these reprobates will get re-elected, simply because they are incumbents.

That says more about us than them. As much as we justly complain about the quality of our Congress, if we keep re-electing the Representatives and Senators who make governance impossible, doesn’t that make us the worst voters ever?

Even worse than nothing?

Related Posts:
Forget The Barbeque On Labor Day – It’s Time To Take Care Of Business
Chicken Shits: The Slippery Slopes of Chick-fil-A
The Vagina Solution
Fighting Back Part 4: The Big Liar, Intimidation And Revenge
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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Aug 2012 15

by Steven Whitney

All of us take too many things for granted, the rights and rewards we enjoy for which others greatly sacrificed and often even died. On Memorial Day we do reverently honor our fallen, and we still wildly celebrate our nation’s birth on July 4th…but Labor Day, once a holiday that truly paid tribute to workers, has become just a three day weekend of boating, beaches, and barbeque, with nary a thought of the valiant, against-all-odds struggle of both individual and organized labor. These days it should probably be called a Bank Holiday, like in England, because the financial sector has had a great three decades at the expense of labor.

Long forgotten are the inhumane working conditions of the past – sweat shops, child labor, company towns, workplaces incubating extreme physical danger and biological disease, unbearably long hours for barely sustainable wages, and so much more. The many thousands of lives lost in union struggles over the past 200 years have faded in our memory like a sunset disappearing over a lost horizon.

In 1806, the Philadelphia Journeymen Cordwainers union went on strike for higher wages. These already poor shoemakers were bankrupted and convicted on charges of criminal conspiracy, setting a precedent of conservative governments combatting labor from that very first U.S. strike to the present.

Over the next century, the battles between owners and workers – let’s say the 5% against the 95% – were constant and bloody, with state militias, our national Army, city police forces, and hired goons all ganging up to inflict pain and punishment on workers. Men, women, and children alike were beaten, shot (sometimes mowed down by new-fangled machine guns), hanged, executed, imprisoned, and deported. The workers themselves – whether they were miners, carpenters, railway hands, dressmakers, auto or steel workers, skilled or unskilled – were branded as organizers, anarchists, socialists, and communists…all because they wanted a living wage and a better life.

In 1911, seamstresses – women and young girls – at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company threatened a strike for higher wages. Within a few days, their workplace – the top three floors of a ten-story building – was consumed by fire. 147 died – many by jumping out the windows, others burned or were trampled to death as they tried to escape through exits that had been locked. Two weeks later, the company owners were indicted not for murder, but manslaughter.

By the 1920s – an era of unchecked conservative policies advocating deregulation and a pro-business agenda – the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, the forerunner of the FBI, created a strike force called Palmer’s Raiders whose mission was to crush unions and workers under the guise of anti-communism. The violence and injustices visited upon workers was unprecedented, even when measured against the worst bloodbaths in labor’s history – the Haymarket Riot, the Tompkins Square Riot, the Bay View Massacre, the Thibodaux Massacre, the Ludlow Massacre, and literally hundreds more battlegrounds. The Republican congress even passed laws totally abolishing the right of workers to strike, assemble, bargain collectively, and picket.

It took the Great Depression and a Democratic congress to right the ship of state – and the state of unions in America. Early on, FDR recognized the role of labor in revitalizing a financially bankrupt economy when he said:

“It is one of the characteristics of a free and democratic nation that it have free and independent labor unions.”

A mere two months after taking office in 1933, FDR passed the National Industrial Recovery Act, which not only restored all the rights denied them by Republicans, but also contained provisions like minimum wage and maximum hours. Since that time historians have isolated its most important passage:

“Employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and shall be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers.”

By empowering workers, America arose from the ashes of the Depression, our country’s infrastructure was built from the ground up, a World War was won, and the largest and most stable middle-class in the world was created. FDR’s pro-labor programs ended the Republican era of plutocratic “job creators,” trickle-down bubble economies, and in 1934 American voters gave Democrats the largest majority either party had (and has) ever held in Congress – 322 Democrats to 103 Republicans – leading to the Fair Labor Standards Act and the greatest period of wealth and job creation, productivity, prosperity, and income equality any nation has ever known.

Today, with the sweatshops and child labor camps gone, we all enjoy the fruits of the labor movement’s long struggle – the 8-hour workday and 5-day week, equal pay for equal work, 2 weeks’ vacation, sick days, higher wages, safe and regulated working environments, health care, collective bargaining, the rights of petition and assembly, worker’s compensation, non-discriminatory employment practices, laws protecting whistleblowers, pension and retirement funds, and, of course, the Family and Medical Leave Act, passed by Clinton’s Democratic congress in 1993. Labor was behind it all – and even aggressively backed Martin Luther King Jr.’s crusade for Equal Rights.

Predictably, starting when Reagan fired the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981, Republicans have consistently tried to turn back every one of those hard-won benefits. In this year’s GOP primaries, a return to child labor was even floated as a viable solution to the economic disaster caused by Bush-Cheney / Republican economic policies. For the last 30 years, the GOP has hacked away at labor and unions. Because of that, wages of American workers now make up the lowest percentage of GDP since 1947, even as corporate profits are the highest in 40 years. That obscene inequality is not a coincidence – it is the priority of the modern Republican party, this year led by Romney and the despicable hypocrisy of Paul Ryan.

So if we are to rebuild a strong Middle Class and keep America a land “of, by, and for the people” – if we are to avoid a dystopian Blade Runneresque future – we must continually recognize the importance of labor’s contribution to the growth and strength of our nation. Most of us – probably 95% or more – are, or came from, the working class, and now is not the time to lose sight of our heritage. Instead, we must pick up the cudgel of those who came before us. Too many of our ancestors actually died – sacrificed their very lives – to give us and not our wealthy overlords the power to determine our own destinies.

This Labor Day, September 3rd, instead of the all-day backyard barbeque, let’s take a few hours to mobilize our faith in ourselves and in the founding principles of our nation by hitting the streets once again to honor and support America’s two greatest assets – the worker and the Middle Class. They are one and the same.

Related Posts:
Chicken Shits: The Slippery Slopes of Chick-fil-A
The Vagina Solution
Fighting Back Part 4: The Big Liar, Intimidation And Revenge
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

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Aug 2012 09

by Lee Camp

We already treat war like it’s some kind of game without real world consequences. So why not take it that next step? Introducing “War: The Gameshow!” If you’re the last to die, you win a camouflage Snuggie! Hosted by funnyman Howie Mandel!

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