Stephen Colbert takes our attention to where it should be: with the other students that didn't think (!) of helping the poor chap that was being tasered for asking tough questions. As Stephen puts it, students used to be a rebellious bunch but todays students are only protesting about anything on the blogspots instead of actually standing up to the police and the authority.
In Florida, a student got tasered for asking Senator Kerry questions.
Okay... this is breathtaking. Here's the problem with American "democracy" as the police see it: well-prepared students with tough questions for politicians... and a mic!
Stop harrassing students and go fetch some more senators in suspicious airport bathrooms, is what I'm thinking. Go catch some real criminals your own size, the military seems like it could use you "policemen" in Iraq. Go find Osama, mkay?
Where's My Trickle?
Four years ago the Bush administration, exploiting the political bounce it got from the illusion of success in Iraq, pushed a cut in capital-gains and dividend taxes through Congress. It was an extremely elitist tax cut even by Bush-era standards: the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that more than half of the tax breaks went to Americans with incomes of more than $1 million a year.
Needless to say, administration economists produced various misleading statistics designed to convey the opposite impression, that the tax cut mainly went to ordinary, middle-class Americans. But they also insisted that the benefits of the tax cut would trickle down - that lower tax rates on the rich would do great things for the economy, helping everyone. Well, Friday's dismal jobs report showed that the Bush boom, such as it was, has run its course. And working Americans have a right to ask, "Where's my trickle?"
It's true, as the Bushies never tire of reminding us, that the U.S. economy has added eight million jobs since that 2003 tax cut. That sounds impressive, unless you happen to know that a good part of that gain was simply a recovery from large job losses earlier in the administration's tenure - and that the United States added no fewer than 21 million jobs after Bill Clinton raised taxes on the rich, a move that had conservative pundits predicting economic disaster.
What's really remarkable, however, is that four years of economic growth have produced essentially NO gains for ordinary American workers. Wages, adjusted for inflation, have stagnated: the real hourly earnings of nonsupervisory workers, the most widely used measure of how typical workers are faring, were no higher in July 2007 than they were in July 2003. Meanwhile, benefits have deteriorated: the percentage of Americans receiving health insurance through employers, which plunged along with employment during the early years of the Bush administration, continued to decline even as the economy finally began creating some jobs. And one of the few seeming bright spots of the Bush-era economy, rising homeownership, is now revealed as the result of a bubble inflated in part by financial flim-flam, which deceived both borrowers and investors.
Now you know why 66 percent of Americans rate economic conditions in this country as only fair or poor, and why Americans disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy almost as strongly as they disapprove of the job he is doing in general.
Yet the overall economy has grown at a reasonable pace over the past four years. Where did the economic growth go? The answer is that it went to the same economic elite that received the lion's share of those tax cuts. Corporate profits rose 72 percent from the second quarter of 2003 to the second quarter of 2007. The real income of the richest 0.1 percent of Americans surged by 51 percent between 2003 and 2005, and although we don't yet have the data for 2006, everything we know suggests that the income of the rich took another upward leap.
The absence of any gains for workers in the years since the 2003 tax cut is a pretty convincing refutation of trickle-down theory. So is the fact that the economy had a much more convincing boom after Bill Clinton raised taxes on top brackets. It turns out that when you cut taxes on the rich, the rich pay less taxes; when you raise taxes on the rich, they pay more taxes - end of story.
But it's not just trickle-down that has been refuted: the whole idea that a rising tide raises all boats, that growth in the economy necessarily translates into gains for the great majority of Americans, is belied by the Bush-era experience. As far as I can tell, America has never before experienced a disconnect between overall economic performance and the fortunes of workers as complete as that of the last four years.
America was a highly unequal society during the Gilded Age, but workers' living standards nonetheless improved as the economy grew. Inequality rose rapidly during the Reagan years, but "Morning in America" was nonetheless bright enough to make most people cheerful, at least temporarily. Inequality continued to increase during the Clinton years, but wages rose, as did the availability of health insurance - and the great majority of Americans felt prosperous.
What we've had since 2003, however, is an economic expansion that looks good if not great by the usual measures, but which has passed most Americans by.
Guaranteed health insurance, which all of the leading Democratic contenders (but none of the Republicans) are promising, would eliminate one of the reasons for this disconnect. But it should be only the start of a broader range of policies - a new New Deal - designed to turn economic growth into something more than a spectator sport.Truth's out.
Say it loud: I'm elite and proud! The right-wing crusade to demonize elites has paid off. Now the country's run by incompetents who make mediocrity a job requirement and recruit from Pat Robertson's law school. New rule: Now that liberals have taken back the word liberal, they also have to take back the word "elite." By now you've heard the constant right-wing attacks on the "elite," or as it's otherwise known, "hating." They've had it up to their red necks with the "elite media." The "liberal elite." Who may or may not be part of the "Washington elite." A subset of the "East Coast elite." Which is influenced by "the Hollywood elite." So basically, unless you're a shitkicker from Kansas, you're with the terrorists. If you played a drinking game in which you did a shot every time Rush Limbaugh attacked someone for being "elite" you'd almost be as wasted as Rush Limbaugh.
I don't get it: In other fields -- outside of government -- elite is a good thing, like an elite fighting force. Tiger Woods is an elite golfer. If I need brain surgery, I'd like an elite doctor. But in politics, elite is bad -- the elite aren't down-to-earth and accessible like you and me and President Shit-for-Brains. But when the anti-elite crowd demonizes the elite, what they're actually doing is embracing incompetence. Now, I know what you're thinking: That doesn't sound like our president -- ignoring intelligence.
You know how whenever there's a major Bush administration scandal it always traces back to some incompetent political hack appointment and you think to yourself, "Where are they getting these screw-ups from?" Well, now we know: from Pat Robertson. I wish I were kidding, but I'm not. Take Monica Goodling, who before she resigned last week because of the U.S. attorneys scandal, was the third most powerful official in the Justice Department of the United States. Thirty-three, and though she had never even worked as a prosecutor, she was tasked with overseeing the job performance of all 95 U.S. attorneys. How do you get to be such a top dog at 33? By acing Harvard, or winning scholarship prizes? No, Goodling did her undergraduate work at Messiah College -- home of the "Fighting Christies," who wait-listed me, the bastards -- and then went on to attend Pat Robertson's law school.
I'm not kidding, Pat Robertson, the man who said gay people at DisneyWorld would cause "earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor," has a law school. It's called Regent. Regent University School of Law, and it shares a campus with Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network studios. It's the first time ever that a TV network spun off a law school. And that's all America needs -- more Christians and more lawyers. You see, years ago Pat became concerned that our legal system was coddling criminals, forgiving them instead of meting out that Old Testament "eye for an eye" justice Jesus Christ never shuts up about. So Pat did what any red-blooded, Hindu-hating, gay-baiting, glue-sniffing Christian would do: He started his own law school. And what kid wouldn't want to attend? It's three years and you only have to read one book. The school says its mission is to create an army of evangelical lawyers, integrating the Bible and public policy, and producing graduates that provide "Christian leadership to change the world." Presumably from round back to flat.
U.S. News and World Report, which does the definitive ranking of colleges, lists Regent as a tier-four school, which is the lowest score it gives. It's not a hard school to get into. You have to renounce Satan and draw a pirate on a matchbook. This is for the people who couldn't get into the University of Phoenix.
But there's more! As there inevitably is with the Bush administration. Turns out she's not the only one. Since 2001, 150 graduates of Regent University have been hired by the Bush administration. And people wonder why things are so screwed up. Hell, we probably invaded Iraq because one of these clowns read the map wrong. Forget religion for a second, we're talking about a top Justice Department official who went to a college founded by a TV host. Would you send your daughter to Maury Povich University? And if you did, would you expect her to get a job at the White House? I'd be surprised if she got a job on the "Maury" show. And then it hit me: This is why Bush scandals never catch on with the public -- they're all evangelicals of course, and nobody is having sex.
So there you have it: It turns out that the Justice Department is entirely staffed with Jesus freaks from a televangelist diploma mill in Virginia Beach. Most of them young women with very little knowledge of the law, but a very strong sense of doing what they're told. Like the Manson family, but with cleaner hair. In 200 years we've gone from "We the people" to "Up with people." From the best and brightest to dumb and dumber. And, come on, America is a big, well-known, first-rate country, and when we're looking for people to help run it, we should aim higher than the girl who answers the phone at the fake abortion clinic. It's not just that this president has surrounded himself with a Texas echo chamber of war criminals and religious fanatics. It's that they're sooooo mediocre. This is America. We should be getting robbed and fucked over by the best.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., asked at a hearing, "Should we be concerned with the experience level of the people who are making these highly significant decisions?" But in the Bush administration experience doesn't matter. All that matters is loyalty to Bush and Jesus, in that order. And where better to find people dumb enough to believe in George W. Bush than Pat Robertson's law school. The problem here in America isn't that the country is being run by elites. It's that it's being run by a bunch of hayseeds. And by the way, the lawyer Monica Goodling just hired to keep her ass out of jail went to a real law school.