I am Mitt. I am you.

I am Willard Mitt Romney. I am you. We are the same. We are Americans. I can prove it.

I too grew up with a Governor as my dad. It wasn’t easy. None of the kids at school liked me either. As many times as I had to explain to the other kids that my parents were just harder workers and more patriotic than their parents, they didn’t seem to understand. To me it was clear. Most of the other students had to eat lunch at the cafe. They clearly weren’t even trying. My dad was a real American, and he made sure to have my lunch delivered to me. Everyday. In a limousine. I even got the driver to dance the tango on his way back to open my door. At first he refused until I mentioned his family. Gets ’em every time!

After high school the Vietnam war was in full swing. I was a huge supporter of the war, and I knew in my heart that this was a war I could get behind. I also knew that the only way to win was to throw more bodies into the fray. So to support the war effort, my family and I decided that the best use of my talents would be for me to go to France for a couple years to tell the good French people about Mormonism. During the war. You can clearly see why I chose that path. It was the best way I knew how to participate in the Vietnam war, as a fellow son of a Governor. Again, being the child of a wealthy governor as I am, I’m sure you understand my position. Governor.

After I returned from my ‘war service’ I went to work on Wall Street. To quote my friend, Texas George, “It’s hard work!“. You have no idea how difficult it is, just to do the math. “How many workers can I possibly fire from this company and still make MY COMPANY a profit?” Again, even the math is brutal. And tiring. Eventually my fellow Governor’s sons and I decided to change things up. Firing people is fun, don’t get me wrong, but it kind of leaves you with a bad feeling. Almost as if you could have done something more. So we came up with a plan. We would fire everyone we possibly could from the companies we purchased, take out maximum loans against their businesses, then pay ourselves from those loans! Again, these people weren’t even trying. It would almost be un-American for us not to do this!

It was on this model of firing as many Americans as I possibly could that I came to my political philosophy. The Republican mantra used to be “pull yourself up by your bootstraps”. Well I don’t wear boots. Neither should you. You will never see me in a pair of boots. I wear shoes. My political philosophy is that I wear shoes, f’n nice shoes. But if I happen to like your shoes more, I’ll buy your house from the bank and evict you. Then I’ll go in and take your shoes. Of course, I’ll sell the ones I don’t like. If you try to take your shoes with you I’ll get my friends to “convince” you to give them up. There’s a reason they call me “R-money”!

In 2003 I became a Governor in my own right of the not-so-great liberal state of Massachusetts. Through no fault of my own, my state was a hive for the liberal elites (see: Harvard, where I got two degrees), so I was forced to govern as a moderate. This pained me. I was forced to institute socialized healthcare, LGBT rights, and I even acknowledged that global climate change was caused by humans. Wow. I still can’t believe the positions that I had to take to get elected. It was brutal. I’m so happy that’s behind me and I don’t have to talk about that anymore.

If you’ve never personally met me, I’m sure you can tell by my story that I’m a true American. According to the numbers, I’m 87% more American than you, so you should feel privileged to have even read my story. I’ve been running for President of the United States for a few years now. What does that tell you about me? Other than that I’m unemployed? That ‘other’ guy is President now. But just picture another rich, white man in charge. The possibilities are endless! I could fire pretty much whoever I want!

If elected I will take down socialism. I will privatize everything. When I say “everything”, I mean EVERYTHING! If you need medical help in my America, call 911, and have a valid debit/credit card ready. Pay me. It’ll probably be an emergency so remember to read the numbers on the card slowly and speak with a steady voice. Stay calm. Same with the fire department, but be faster. Going for a drive? Groceries? Pay me. I bought the pavement between your house and the grocery store. What’s that? You got mugged? We’ll send the police as soon as you provide a credit card number. Pay me.

I also pledge to get rid of guv’ment regulation. If you live on a river or creek, it’s your God-given right to dump as much used motor oil in it as you like. Any restrictions would unequivocally be an infringement on your rights, irregardless of what your neighbors downstream think. I also believe that if an oil company can locate oil they have a right to drill for it. Anywhere. If oil was discovered beneath George Washington’s grave, I believe it would be a disservice to America NOT to move his body and drill for it.

There has been some discussion lately of my finances. I realize that we all have a couple million in accounts in the Caymans and a few more million in Swiss bank accounts. I have never avoided paying taxes. I merely decided to continuously bet against the American economy by investing my money in foreign economies. I figured with all the companies that were failing that my money would be safer overseas, along with the workers.

I feel like I should address immigration policy. This is a very sensitive subject to me since when you really think about it, we’re all immigrants. It’s just a matter of when we arrived. Well, to sum it up, I was here first. You can tell by the hue of my skin. It’s pretty clear that I’m right. I don’t want to sound callous. I really need the Hispanic vote to even have a chance in the coming election. So, basically, I don’t hate people of color, I just want them to leave the country after they vote for me. I think. Thinking out loud here… that sounds kind of harsh. Yup, just checked with Rush, that is in fact my policy. Ouch.

In short, I believe that, well, what do you want me to believe in order for you to vote for me? That’s what I believe. What? You’re a vegan? Me too! Except that I like to bbq when I’m in the middle states. Meat lover? Yes! That’s what I think too! It’s uncanny how alike we are! I also support non-violence. I believe we should manufacture and distribute as many weapons as possible in order to insure non-violence. I like trees. But only if they’re the right height. Cars? I own a shit-ton of those. I even hired a lobbyist to help me change the California building rules so I could build an elevator for my cars. Really, I face the same issues that everyone faces.

USA?!

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Run! Here Comes The Deficit!

A letter from Rep. Alan Grayson:

A few days ago, I was stuck in the car for a long drive. Because of the complete absence of progressive talk from Orlando’s airwaves, I had no real choice but to listen to the nasal maundering of Mark Levin on the radio. Levin was very upset about the federal deficit.

Interestingly, Levin was a high-level appointee in the Reagan Administration. Dick Cheney, who was Reagan’s Defense Secretary and later the Vice President, said 10 years ago that “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.”

I must concede that it is rather difficult to reconcile the conflicting statements of these two gentlemen, Messrs. Levin and Cheney. Evidently, they believe deficits are a terrible tragedy when a Democrat is President, and a wonderful gift when a Republican is President.

There has got to be a more objective standard than that.

Here’s one: the federal deficit is a problem when long-term interest rates are high, and not much of a problem when long-term interest rates are low. The Federal Reserve dictates short-term interest rates, but long-term rates still are, pretty much, set by the market, in its usual ruthless fashion. (Which is why James Carville said that after he dies, he “want[s] to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”)

When long-term interest rates are high, a federal deficit competes against and “crowds out” private borrowing and investment. When long-term interest rates are low, the federal deficit is not taking away from borrowing by the private sector. On the contrary, the federal deficit is acting as a needed boost to aggregate demand in the economy, an action also known as “fiscal policy.” When the economy is slack, every dollar of reduction in federal spending takes three or four dollars off of our gross national product.

So, by that test, where are we? Well, as I explained last week, long-term U.S. interest rates are at their lowest in history. So what does that tell you about the deficit?

Sorry – I didn’t mention that there was going to be a quiz.

When Ronald Reagan was President, long-term interest rates sometimes exceeded 15% – ten times as high as long-term interest rates today. The market was screaming at the top of its lungs that the Reagan deficit was too high. And today? Silence.

Look around the world. The ten-year note in Greece yields a little less than 30%. Pakistan, 13%. Portugal and Venezuela, 12%. In those countries, the bond market is shouting, “Cut that out!”

Not here.

Thanks to all the deficit-mongering by Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Fox “News,” etc., a lot of Americans are scared by the federal deficit. The advice from Democratic pollsters is to go along with this hand-wringing. But there is an alternative: Explain to the American people when a federal deficit is bad, and when it is not.

Like I just did.

Courage,

Alan Grayson

Get Some More!

Here’s a few more links. These are mostly longer-form magazine type formats and provide some very interesting takes on a wide variety of subjects. Enjoy!

The Atlantic Magazine

New Yorker Magazine

Foreign Policy Magazine

The Daily Beast (Newsweek magazine)

Mother Jones Magazine

Al Jazeera
Excellent reporting.

Christian Science Monitor
While neither Christian nor scientific, this site provides some good reads nonetheless.

The Guardian newspaper (UK & US)

Feel free to submit your favorites in the comments!

Get Some!

While a constitution may set forth rights and liberties, only the citizens can maintain and guarantee those freedoms. Active and informed citizenship is not just a right; it is a duty.
-Ronald Reagan

You can’t keep up. You have a full-time job, kids to feed, a mortgage to pay, spouse to keep happy, and if you’re lucky you get an hour or two a day to just be you. Trying to keep up on what’s going on in the world on a daily basis is time-consuming and it takes dedication. So why should you make time to be an informed citizen? Because you care. You care about yourself and your family. You care about what kind of world your children will grow up in. You want the world to be a better place for your children and grandchildren than it is for you. You ask your child how their day at school went because you want to make sure everything is going well for them and nothing detrimental to their health or ability to learn is happening. This is the exact reason you should ask yourself: “What’s going on in the world today?”. Because you want to know what’s happening and what events or situations are occurring and how to adjust your life accordingly.

What can you possibly do even if you knew everything about everything that’s going on in our complex world? The more knowledge that We The People collectively possess, the more we can affect the decision-making that can lead to a better world in a positive and constructive manner. Ill-informed people tend to make ill-informed decisions.

It’s easy to grab the morning paper, read a third of it, listen to NPR for an hour or three a day while you work, tune in the nightly news on channel 5 at six o’clock every night, then go around thinking you’ve been informed. This notion tends to be reinforced, because most other people do the exact same thing you do. So when you speak with them there is very little conversational critical analysis, and a whole lot of parroting talking points and complaining. We all know that the traditional print media has been dying. So why do we continue to depend on it for knowledge, as if it serves us as well as it used to?

Unfortunately, the vast majority of our highest-circulation news mediums are controlled by a very small group.

These five corporations control the majority of U.S. news

With the consolidation of so many news outlets under these few umbrellas, the duty to serve the people by informing them has taken a back-seat to profit. Investors don’t care about product, just profit. Corporations exist to make a profit, not something that’s necessarily good. So when these huge corporations own most of the news outlets, quality suffers in the pursuit of profit. News has devolved into info-tainment. You’re more likely to get the latest celebrity news on the front page of your local paper than to be told what bill your congressman just introduced that will hurt your community.

So what can a person do to stay informed? Do reliable news sources still exist, and if so, who are they and where do you find them? The good news is that, yes, good news still exists. It’s being produced and disseminated every day. You just have to do a little searching to find it. But when you do find it, and you will, you’ll never go back to relying on what you considered to be ‘news’ before.

Below are a few sources to get you started on your quest. By no means is this a comprehensive list. It is merely a starting point to help you find new sources. Most websites have a place with links to other sources. Find them. Use them. They are your friends.

Alternet.org
An alternative news and opinion site with over 2.5 million unique visitors per month. Great thinkers like Chomsky write here from time to time.

Dailykos
The world’s most-read liberal blog. Here you’ll find opinion and essays on a vast range of topics. The huge number of contributors leads to absolute gems being written every day. Check out the ‘Recommended’ list on the right side. The authors vary from centrist-Democrats to left-of-left.

Democracy Now
Real. Actual. News. Enough said.

JuanCole
History professor, writer, and world traveler, Juan Cole provides in-depth analysis on all things Middle-East. He has a unique ability to explain the intricacies of Middle-Eastern affairs. Bonus: poetry by Omar Khayyam, the 13th century Persian astronomer and poet!

Matt Taibbi
Taibbi’s reporting on Wall Street and the banks’ continued fleecing of America is second to none. If you like your usual depressing economic stories sprinkled with some adult metaphors and the occasional f-bomb (full-disclosure: I prefer this method), Taibbi is your go-to guy.

Media Matters
Media Matters provides a thorough critique of the media on a daily basis. Warning: some of the stories are refuting the absolutely asinine stories coming out of Fox News.

The Nation
The Nation is the oldest weekly publication in the United States. An invaluable alternative news source with long-form reporting and daily stories only available online. Add their bloggers and OWS coverage and you have an excellent source you can depend on.

Paul Krugman
Paul Krugman is a Nobel-Prize winning economist and writer. His column in the New York Times is a must read. He’s been consistently right for a long time and is widely cited as someone who’s advice our leaders could greatly benefit from.

Tomdispatch.com
Tom Engelhardt is a writer and editor associated with The Nation magazine. Very informative, widely cited, and always intriguing to read. Want to know about drones? Look no further! Assassinations? Whistle-blowers? Got those covered too! Throw in the occasional environmental story and you get one hell of a site.

Truth-out.org

In-depth investigative reporting and great analysis and essays on current affairs.

Truthdig.com
“Drilling beneath the headlines”, truthdig gets to the pertinent facts of the story. Throw in their daily political cartoons and OWS coverage and you have a winner!

So here you go folks. Get to it. Explore and learn and we’ll all be the better for it!

The Promise

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Declaration of Independence

The Occupy movement has been accused of and labeled as many things.
We are here not as disrupters of a perfect society. We are here because our political and economic system has completely disregarded what is good for the people in the pursuit of profits for the few.

There are countless metrics to gauge the downturn of the quality of life that has been forced upon the majority of Americans for the past few decades. We have close to 50 million of our brothers and sisters living below the poverty line. Millions more are one missed paycheck away from destitution. More Americans than ever before depend on food stamps to put food on their table. Wages haven’t risen, even equal to inflation for the past 40 years, while the work that we do has produced more for our employers than any time in history. How is this right? How does this contribute in any way to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for Americans?

No one has ever made himself rich through hard work alone. Though hard work is a most necessary ingredient, by itself, it has never provided wealth. Wealth (or riches) is derived from a person’s idea put into action by his/her fellow citizens. You need security, roads, communication, educated employees, and a whole host of prerequisites that are provided to you by the entire society to acquire said wealth. The lie that rich men are entirely self-made is detrimental to the social contract that every American has with his country.

It is only in the past 40 or so years that the wealth divide has expanded so prominently. Taxes on the wealthy used to be over 70%. This was during the greatest economic expansion the world had ever seen. Economic quality of life rose more in those times than any previous time in the history of the planet. We used those taxes to build roads, freeways, bridges, universities, and infrastructure that greatly benefited a vast majority of the people and industry. America became a super-power because of these policies. Now we find our country literally falling apart, and we’re completely divided over the god-awful idea to raise the highest tax rate from 35% to 39%. Why? How did we get here?

We got here by the gradual takeover of our political system by those with the most money. Plain and simple. Our government has been totally and completely hijacked by money. Can you run for national office? Can anyone you know? You better be a millionaire and have millionaire friends. You have a better chance of getting sunburned in a cave than getting elected to congress if you’re not rich. How is this healthy? How is this truly representative of the people? If we were all millionaires, then millionaires would be our true representatives. But we’re not millionaires, and they no longer represent the people that they are elected to legislate for.

It used to be that you go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, support your family on one income, and send your kids to college. This is no longer a possibility for too many Americans. Now you take whatever work you can get, regardless of how your skills are being disregarded and under-utilized, and hope you can afford to keep the damn lights on. This is destroying America, and you all see it and know it first-hand.

Healthcare in America is available only if you can afford it. How do you have life without your health? How does a population achieve liberty or happiness without their health? Seriously. How? How are our citizens supposed to feed their families when a large part of the economy is based on service and retail work that pays minimum wage? Minimum wage that buys less than it did in the 1970’s.

So the question becomes ‘where do we go from here?’. How can we improve the lives of the American people, and in the process bring back the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?

I can tell you how we can’t do it. By sitting back and continuing on the same path we’ve been on. It takes action by each and every one of us. It has to be a national conversation. Some are in the position to put in more time than others. Not everybody can take to the streets. Some contribute monetarily. Others hold meetings in their homes with their neighbors. For the rest of us, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on how the disease of money is selling our futures down the river. Knowledge is our weapon. We owe it to ourselves, our children, our communities, and our country.

Why do we Occupy? We must. When will we stop? When we get what we have been promised.

We are many. We are one. We are the 99%!