Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Freedom is Only For the Elite - Welcome to Republican America Which is Willing To Raise Payroll Taxes On 113 Million Households To Spare 345,000 Millionaires From Tiny Surtax
















Freedom is Only For the Elite - Welcome to Republican America Which is Willing To Raise Payroll Taxes On 113 Million Households To Spare 345,000 Millionaires From Tiny Surtax

Senate Democrats yesterday introduced legislation — as they’ve been promising to — that would extend a soon-to-expire payroll tax cut, and pay for it by implementing a surtax on income above $1 million. Republicans, of course, are opposing the plan, reviving their false claims that taxing the very wealthiest Americans will hit small businesses and job creators.

In essence, the GOP is saying that it’s willing to allow higher taxes on middle- and lower-income Americans in order to prevent tax increases on the very wealthy. According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, provided to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, the surtax would affect exceedingly few taxpayers, while a payroll tax cut expiration would wallop more than 100 million households:

    The surtax would impact around 345,000 taxpayers, roughly 0.2 percent of taxpayers, or one in 500 of them. Those people would pay on average an additional 2.1 percent of their overall income, or just over 1/50th of that overall income, in taxes.

    In a majority of states, only one-tenth of one percent, or one in 1,000 taxpayers, would pay this surtax.

    And how many people would benefit from the payroll tax cut? According to the group, around 113 million tax filing units — either single workers or families that include more than one worker — would see their payroll tax cut extended. That’s a lot of people — well over 113 million workers, in fact.

Allowing the payroll tax cut to expire at the end of the year would hit middle-class families with a $1,000 tax increase, providing a substantial drag on the economy. In fact, according to Macroeconomic Advisers, allowing the payroll tax cut to lapse “would reduce GDP growth by 0.5 percent and cost the economy 400,000 jobs.” Other estimates are even worse, with Barclays’s estimating that a payroll tax increase could say 1.5 percent off of GDP growth.

The GOP has, time and again, blocked any legislation that would increase taxes by the slightest amount on the ultra-wealthy, even with tax revenue at a 60 year low, taxes on the rich the lowest they’ve been in a generation, and income inequality out of control. Instead, Republicans would prefer to raise taxes on the middle-class, knocking the economy where it can least afford it.

Be sure and vote conservative Republican in 2012 so the United States of America can look and operate more like 16th century France. When will conservatives start wearing flowing velvet robes and silk brocaded vests so we can all better distinguish the elite from the common folk.

Rupert Murdoch The Anti-American International Business Mogul and His Fox News:: Student Indoctrination Is OK, But Only If The Teacher's a Proto-Fascist Conservative

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Conservatives and The 1 Percent Have Violated America's Most Basic Tenets
























Conservatives and The Elite 1 Percent Have Violated America's Most Basic Tenets

For most of the last century, the basic bargain at the heart of the American economy was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling.

That basic bargain created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages.

Back in 1914, Henry Ford announced he was paying workers on his Model T assembly line $5 a day – three times what the typical factory employee earned at the time. The Wall Street Journal termed his action “an economic crime.”

But Ford knew it was a cunning business move. The higher wage turned Ford’s auto workers into customers who could afford to buy Model T’s. In two years Ford’s profits more than doubled.

That was then. Now, Ford Motor Company is paying its new hires half what it paid new employees a few years ago.

The basic bargain is over – not only at Ford but all over the American economy.

New data from the Commerce Department shows employee pay is now down to the smallest share of the economy since the government began collecting wage and salary data in 1929.

Meanwhile, corporate profits now constitute the largest share of the economy since 1929.

1929, by the way, was the year of the Great Crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

The full essay is at the link. Conservatives and their supply-side economics ( which some Democrats have also bought into over the last three decades) have not quite brought back the economics of the pre-Civil War plantation, but they have brought us closer. There is till a healthy middle-class, but half of America, about 52% are wage slaves. They can work hard year in year out and their chances of getting ahead are much slimmer then the chances of their grandparents. We have this America because conservatives want all the money that was produced ultimately by labor in the hands of the very wealthy. In America wealth is power. Why does the incredibly wealthy Rupert Murdoch use the Wall Street Journal and Fox News to spread absurd propaganda about health care reform, the minimum wage and the social safety net ( Medicare). Because they want the fruits of America's labor going to the top, not to workers. Power follows the money and conservatives want the American people to be as powerless as possible.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Georgia Confederate Republican Loon Bill Looman is an Embarrassment to America

































Georgia Confederate Republican Loon Bill Looman is an Embarrassment to America

A business owner in western Georgia instituted a new company policy recently: “We are not hiring until Obama is gone.”

Bill Looman, who owns U.S. Cranes, LLC in Waco, Georgia, explained that while “I’ve got people that I want to hire now,” he didn’t think he would be able to foot the expense “unless some things change in D.C.”

Not content to simply implement the new policy internally, Looman decided to plaster it on all his company’s trucks. He did so, as 11Alive noted, “for all to see as the trucks roll up and down roads, highways and interstates.” Watch it:

The notion that President Obama’s economic policies preclude small businesses from hiring new workers isn’t the only ludicrous claim Looman pushes. A cursory glance at Looman’s public Facebook page shows he is prone to anti-Obama conspiracy theories. Earlier this month, he posted a false report that Larry Sinclair – the man who claimed he did drugs and had sex with President Obama – had died and implied foul play, writing “MAKES YOU WONDER HUH?” Looman’s page is also riddled with pro-confederate and anti-Muslim postings.

More importantly, Looman’s assertion that he would be able to hire more workers but for Obama’s economic policies defies reason. In the last few months alone, Obama has proposed giving major tax credits to businesses that hire new workers, including a $4,000 credit for hiring the long-term unemployed. Just this week, Obama signed a law to give additional tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.

Ironically, despite the fact that he claims to want to hire new workers, Looman’s anti-Obama anti-hiring stance will prevent his business from enjoying any of these new incentives.

Since taking office President Obama has given small businesses 17 tax cuts. Small businesses in the U.S. now have the lowest tax rate since 1960. That's right, Obama's tax rats are lower than Saint Ronnie Reagan. Looman, a fan of the treasonous Confederacy is doing a lot of people a favor. Who would want to work for this treasonous nut bag who pushes tin-foil wrapped conspiracy theories. 


Friday, November 25, 2011

How Private Banks Caused the Economic Crisis


The CDO Daisy Chain                 































The CDO Daisy Chain (Guide to graphic above)

Here's how the Wall Street Money Machine worked in the run-up to the financial collapse: Banks created CDOs from mortgage-backed securities. Banks often retained the large top portion, called the "Super Senior." The bottom portion, or "Equity," was often sold off to hedge funds. The middle portion, or "Mezzanine," often went into new CDOs. The main buyers of those new CDOs were once again the banks.


How Private Banks Caused the Economic Crisis

A ProPublica analysis shows for the first time the extent to which banks -- primarily Merrill Lynch, but also Citigroup, UBS and others -- bought their own products and cranked up an assembly line that otherwise should have flagged.

The products they were buying and selling were at the heart of the 2008 meltdown -- collections of mortgage bonds known as collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs.

As the housing boom began to slow in mid-2006, investors became skittish about the riskier parts of those investments. So the banks created -- and ultimately provided most of the money for -- new CDOs. Those new CDOs bought the hard-to-sell pieces of the original CDOs. The result was a daisy chain that solved one problem but created another: Each new CDO had its own risky pieces. Banks created yet other CDOs to buy those.

Individual instances of these questionable trades have been reported before, but ProPublica's investigation, done in partnership with NPR's Planet Money, shows that by late 2006 they became a common industry practice.

An analysis by research firm Thetica Systems, commissioned by ProPublica, shows that in the last years of the boom, CDOs had become the dominant purchaser of key, risky parts of other CDOs, largely replacing real investors like pension funds. By 2007, 67 percent of those slices were bought by other CDOs, up from 36 percent just three years earlier. The banks often orchestrated these purchases. In the last two years of the boom, nearly half of all CDOs sponsored by market leader Merrill Lynch bought significant portions of other Merrill CDOs.

ProPublica also found 85 instances during 2006 and 2007 in which two CDOs bought pieces of each other. These trades, which involved $107 billion worth of CDOs, underscore the extent to which the market lacked real buyers. Often the CDOs that swapped purchases closed within days of each other, the analysis shows.

There were supposed to be protections against this sort of abuse. While banks provided the blueprint for the CDOs and marketed them, they typically selected independent managers who chose the specific bonds to go inside them. The managers had a legal obligation to do what was best for the CDO. They were paid by the CDO, not the bank, and were supposed to serve as a bulwark against self-dealing by the banks, which had the fullest understanding of the complex and lightly regulated mortgage bonds.

It rarely worked out that way. The managers were beholden to the banks that sent them the business. On a billion-dollar deal, managers could earn a million dollars in fees, with little risk. Some small firms did several billion dollars of CDOs in a matter of months.

"All these banks for years were spawning trading partners," says a former executive from Financial Guaranty Insurance Company, a major insurer of the CDO market. "You don't have a trading partner? Create one."
Get ProPublica's latest headlines and major investigations delivered to your inbox.

The executive, like most of the dozens of people ProPublica spoke with about the inner workings of the market at the time, asked not to be named out of fear of being sucked into ongoing investigations or because they are involved in civil litigation.

Keeping the assembly line going had a wealth of short-term advantages for the banks. Fees rolled in. A typical CDO could net the bank that created it between $5 million and $10 million -- about half of which usually ended up as employee bonuses. Indeed, Wall Street awarded record bonuses in 2006, a hefty chunk of which came from the CDO business.

The self-dealing super-charged the market for CDOs, enticing some less-savvy investors to try their luck. Crucially, such deals maintained the value of mortgage bonds at a time when the lack of buyers should have driven their prices down.

But the strategy of speeding up the assembly line had devastating consequences for homeowners, the banks themselves and, ultimately, the global economy. Because of Wall Street's machinations, more mortgages had been granted to ever-shakier borrowers. The results can now be seen in foreclosed houses across America.

The incestuous trading also made the CDOs more intertwined and thus fragile, accelerating their decline in value that began in the fall of 2007 and deepened over the next year. Most are now worth pennies on the dollar. Nearly half of the nearly trillion dollars in losses to the global banking system came from CDOs, losses ultimately absorbed by taxpayers and investors around the world. The banks' troubles sent the world's economies into a tailspin from which they have yet to recover.

The banks did what we usually see in sitcoms where the character uses one credit card to make payments on another and yet another credit yard to pay another and so forth. Similar to a Ponzi scheme. It is not in the interests of citizens who support and open and healthy capitalist free market system to try and shift blame for what these super big banks to the working poor. Such thinking and myth making only makes it more likely there will be another collapse. As a matter of fact since conservatives in Congress have fought to keep new financial reforms from actually being acted on, the banks are back to buying and selling CDOs.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Newest Hacked Climate E-Mails Still Fail to Disprove Global Warming

















Newest Hacked Climate E-Mails Still Fail to Disprove Global Warming

The UK Guardian reports today that the deniers are serving 2-year-old leftovers for Thanksgiving:

    Fresh round of hacked climate science emails leaked online

    A file containing 5,000 emails has been made available in an apparent attempt to repeat the impact of 2009's similar release….

    The initial email dump was apparently timed to disrupt the Copenhagen climate talks. It prompted three official inquiries in the UK and two in the US into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists’ handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced.

    Norfolk police have said the new set of emails is “of interest” to their investigation to find the perpetrator of the initial email release who has not yet been identified.

Actually nine independent investigations have vindicated climate science and climate scientists on the hacked University of East Anglia emails (as Skeptical Science explains, for those who want the full history).

As one scientist put it to me today:

    “Two years ago, emails were released and the American people were lied to about their content.  Now, we are expected to be gullible enough to believe the original liars a second time.”

Media Matters also has a good post, “Memo To Media: Research First, Then Report On Climate Emails.”

The bad news is that, as Media Matters explains in its latest post, “Media Already Botching Reports On Hacked Climate Emails,” with some awful “reporting” by the Washington Post already (see below).

The good news is that the perpetrators and their fellow deniers apparently think the international climate talks in Durban are actually important enough to try to trick the media once again into prematurely running stories on out-of-context excerpts from private emails from scientists, most of which were written years ago, discussing science that has long since been resolved.

Leftovers, again? One climate scientist calls the email dump, “Two-year-old turkey from Thanksgiving 2009.”

These are the “second string” emails.  The Varsity team couldn’t derail the science so it’s  really hard to see how the Junior Varsity team could. In other words, if multiple independent investigations showed that climate science was unscathed by the original batch of emails — which must have been the ones the deniers thought were the best they had — then what precisely are the chances these even weaker second-stringers are going to beat the climate science team?  After all, the climate science team has gotten considerably stronger in recent years.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences concluded its 2010 review of climate science, saying it is a “settled fact” that “the Earth system is warming.”  As for the cause, last year, Time reported on a comprehensive new review paper of “100 peer-reviewed post-IPCC studies” in an article titled, “Report: The Case for Global Warming Stronger Than Ever”:

    By looking at a wide range of observations from all over the world,  the Met Office study concludes that the fingerprint of human influence on climate is stronger than ever. “We can say with a very high significance level that the effects we see in the climate cannot be attributed to any other forcings [factors that push the climate in one direction or another],” says study co-author Gabriele Hegerl of the University of Edinburgh.
ironically or maybe just a joke on everyone gullible enough to stumble across their crazy rants a site called Junk Science is using the newest old e-mails as proof there ain't no such thing as global warming. They have no science to back them up. Perhaps they're called Junk Science because that is what they believe in, junk.

This Thanksgiving, Many Who Once Donated To Food Banks Are Asking For Help Themselves

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Anti-American Conservative Newt Gingrich Was Pro Health Care Mandate Before He Was Against It



















Gingrich Backs Away From Individual Mandate: ‘I Never Focused On It Much’

In 1993, then-Speaker Newt Gingrich endorsed the concept of a national individual mandate, saying on Meet the Press, “I am for people, individuals — exactly like automobile insurance — individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance.” He reiterated the principle in 2007 — writing in a Des Moines Register op-ed, “Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance” — and again in 2008: “Finally, we should insist that everyone above a certain level buy coverage (or, if they are opposed to insurance, post a bond).” His for-profit think tank, the Center for Health Transformation (CHT), still promotes the concept on its website, writing, “Anyone who earns more than $50,000 a year must purchase health insurance or post a bond.”

But since the requirement is also included in the Affordable Care Act, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is against it and believes it to be unconstitutional. During an interview with the Union Leader on Monday, he announced that despite the long public record, he actually “never focused on it much on the federal level”:

    GINGRICH: I never focused on it much on the federal level. I talked about it at the center, at the state level and what we were trying to solve, we just concluded you couldn’t do it, it was too hard…As you work through it, at the time it was designed to block Hillarycare and the more you thought about it, the more you realized, a Congress that can compel you to do something like that, could compel you to do anything. What’s the limit to Congress’ power to dictate your life? And that, I think, will be heart of the argument at the Supreme Court?

The limit is actually fairly clear. The Supreme Court grants the Congress broad deference in regulating the country’s economic activities, so long as the activity is itself economic in nature. And since we all have bodies and they all get old and sick, health care costs are shifted to other payers throughout the country. In 2008, the government spent $43 billion providing uncompensated care to uninsured individuals. In that sense, even the failure to buy a product constitutes an “economic activity.”

For over sixty years conservative leaders such as Gingrich have been lying the Constitution. They say they believe in it literally word for word. While that kind of interpretation is not one the Founders intended - they did not have broadcast airwaves or air travel to regulate back in 1775 for one thing. Conservatives consistently cannot pass their own litmus tests. They decide to believe in whatever screwy point of view and than they find some way to shoe horn in their beliefs into the Constitution. This approach to living in a modern democratic republic is inherently Anti-American.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Conservatism Down The Rabbit Hole - America deserves better from its business leaders: Making a profit shouldn't be the only bottom line

















Conservatism Down The Rabbit Hole - America deserves better from its business leaders: Making a profit shouldn't be the only bottom line

Do corporations have a social responsibility to be decent, upstanding citizens? Is there a moral imperative that the likes of Bank of America, General Electric and Apple should boost employment, refrain from contributing to inequality, or restrain themselves from despoiling the environment, simply because those are the right things to do?

If you spend even a cursory amount of time investigating this question, you will speedily find yourself reckoning with the answer delivered four decades ago by the economist Milton Friedman: A most emphatic no.

In “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” originally published in the New York Times Sunday Magazine in 1970, Friedman, the arch-deacon of free market economics, declared that any businessman who thinks a corporation should take “seriously its responsibilities for providing em­ployment, eliminating discrimination, avoid­ing pollution and whatever else” was “preach­ing pure and unadulterated socialism.”

    Busi­nessmen who talk this way are unwitting pup­pets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades … In a free-enterprise, private-property sys­tem, a corporate executive is an employee of the owners of the business. He has direct re­sponsibility to his employers. That responsi­bility is to conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while con­forming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.

The great irony of Friedman’s hard line is that in 1970, his words probably sounded much more extreme than they do today. Despite decades of lip service to the idea of “corporate social responsibility,” the notions that corporations do best when most untrammeled by regulatory constraint or that they should only be guided by a desire to generate the maximum return on investment for their shareholders are now bedrock ideological fixations of the contemporary Republican Party.

In fact, one could well argue that we are currently closer to Friedman’s utopia than during any other period in living memory. The Supreme Court has vastly loosened restrictions on corporate spending on the political process, trade policy has supported a decades-long trend toward foreign investment, offshoring and outsourcing, corporate taxes are at a historic low, and even the worst financial crisis in decades has hardly resulted in more than a slap on the regulatory wrist for the guilty parties.
America had at least five decades of that shrill, pompous and self-righteous messaging from conservatives about "values". Where are they? America keeps waiting and getting screwed over by the "values" party. Maybe they meant they had the values of despots, plutocrats or Medieval monarchs. When is middle-class America going to wake up and stop getting the shaft from people who think think values are the same thing as economic tyranny.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Police Brutality and Government Repression Is Now Typical of Iran, China and the United States

















84 year old Dorli Rainey peppered sprayed by Seattle police




















OWS, Police Brutality, and the War on Terror: An Empire State of Mind

Over the last week, among the multiple images that horrified and angered the American public, two stood out: One is an image of Dorli Rainey, an 84 year old protester at Occupy Seattle with milk dripping from her face after being pepper-sprayed by a uniformed Seattle officer. Another is the video clip of a uniformed Davis, California police officer pulling out two cans of pepper-spray and directing it at the faces of non-aggressive, stationary student protesters at UC Davis. Both images have gone viral. I suspect this is because there is something so grotesque and terrifying about watching a uniformed officer pull out a can of chemicals that are designed to seriously, if temporarily, cripple and paralyze the its victims. Watching the lurid spectacle happen in real-time has the effect of paralyzing the viewer.

Besides the outrage that these events provoked, several questions have been raised, even by those who have followed most global political news over the last decade: “What are they thinking? Why these heavy-handed tactics? Why is it ok to assault people instead of arrest them?” And others, perhaps without knowing why, are horrified but not at all surprised. Why not?

These heavy-handed tactics should come as no surprise to any of us. The ability to assault people prior to—no, instead of arresting and charging them with crimes—has become an explicit staple of United States foreign policy since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, on Oct. 22, 2001. That bill, some 350 pages long and written over much longer than a month’s time, authorized the state police and army forces to wiretap, investigate, search and detain individuals as part of a pre-emptive strategy to seek out “suspected terrorists,” that is, before they could do damage to “US” (pun intended). Augmented to this was G.W. Bush’s presidential endorsement of torture and rendition strategies, along with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan under the auspices of waging a “War on Terror” and the associated military bombings of thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (with President Obama’s continued support of rendition, the expansion of military drones targeted towards “suspected Al-Qaeda” buildings, and of course, civilians). Tack on Presidential Obama’s enthusiasm to assassinate suspected terrorists in lieu of a trial (Osama Bin Laden), even when they are American citizens (Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan).

What does any of this have to with police brutality in response to peaceful political dissent and protests in NYC, Berkeley, Seattle, Oakland, Davis, and elsewhere around the country? Everything. We are in an “Empire State of Mind,” with apologies to Jay Z and Alicia Keyes. We have become conditioned to accept and expect police brutality to be imposed on everyone but “US”: African-American men and women; Muslim men and women all over the world, including Western and Northern Europe; Latino migrants in the US. We have also become used to justifying police brutality as directed towards “people who deserve it.” This, at bottom, is an Empire State of Mind. An Empire State of Mind is one where those who order and those who carry out the brutalization and murder, can do so with the assurance of complete impunity because they have the approval of political and media elites, and through them, a widespread public.

Think about it: it is still laughable to consider the possibility of GW Bush and Barack Obama being put on trial for the torture, warrantless detention, or the innumerable murders that have been ordered on their watch. Was there ever a moment when someone thought that President Obama would order the punishment and reprimands of rogue bankers, or the arrest of CEOs who authorized their staff to push toxic mortgages or carry out irresponsible trades that eroded the pensions and life-savings of everyday working people? The evidence of widespread fraud and misconduct is widely available. But in an oligarchy, the prosecution of elites is left to the fantasies of action movies.

Why then are we surprised that the chickens have come home to roost? We have become accustomed to police and army brutality around the world. We have stopped protesting it to a large extent, in part because our sentiments have been mocked (witness the most recent endorsement of the president by the SEIU, with its promiscuous cooptation of OWS rhetoric). We have stopped, if we ever did, seeing the connections between the gluttonous disemboweling of the economic security and safety nets once available to the lower and middle-classes, and the war on immigrants. At a basic level, the latter is a distraction from the former: “Hey, look, a foreigner is taking your job,” says Congress, while they are being paid off by Wall Street bankers to prevent the passing of legislation that would protect pensions, salaries, and benefits of working folks from being plundered. Similarly, we have refused to make the links between the persecution and torture of Muslim men in the name of “fighting terrorism,” and the ever-greater harassment of US citizens: “We need to track devious elements for your safety.” We vote for these folks continually, and then are shocked when the same spurious logic is turned against American citizens.

We are shocked by the police brutality of Dorli Rainey and the Occupy Davis protestors because they are guilty of nothing but loud political dissent. Why then should we not revisit our suspicions of the unproven assertions of the criminal tendencies of millions of men and women around the world and here in the US? We need to see through the aspersions that have been unceasingly cast by the United States government, the 1%, and their minions in order to justify their assaults, brutality, and murderous actions? It’s an Empire State of Mind, not only abroad but increasingly here at home. And the way to dismantle an Empire State of Mind is to revisit our assumptions about the targets of violence and brutality. If brutality can be leveled at American students wrongly, then we need to accept that it’s been meted out unfairly in the Wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Terror, and Latino migrants, among others.

We shouldn’t be shocked. We should, however, continue to be outraged: the War on OWS, the War on Terror, and the War on Immigrants, are all part and parcel of an Empire State of Mind. We need to consider that each of these wars is equally dubious, intended to distract US by casting a spurious guilt on political dissenters, the working-class, the unemployed, the foreclosed, and other innocent civilians. This is the most basic step needed to resist those state officials, the 1%, and their minions who plunder the government coffers, our taxes, our bank accounts, our equity, our homes, and our livelihood and security, while pretending that their theft and their brutality is conducted for our protection.


Falguni A. Sheth is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Political Theory at Hampshire College. She is the author of Toward a Political Philosophy of Race (SUNY, 2009), explores state-driven racial divisions and persecution.

Public opinion of OWS has gone down a bit in the polls. One of the reasons is the spot light put on a minority of kooks who have associated themselves with OWS - the vast majority of OWS protesters are from middle and working class families and most of them have some kind of job ( contrary to the impression anti-American outlets like Fox and The New York Post have tried to create). Even taking the kooks into the police have committed more violence and more property damage. Who is going to protect decent Americans some the militarized police establishment ( ironically most of whom belong to unions).

GOP Senate Candidate Josh Mandel Wants To Frack Ohio State Parks Now

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Anti-American Senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) Wants To Destroy National Forest for His Special Interests Friends

Anti-American Senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) Wants To Destroy National Forest for His Special Interests Friends

Ohio’s transparency-allergic treasurer and U.S. senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) is finally stepping out on stage by offering a certain type of policy positions: wildly unpopular. Mandel endorsed Gov. John Kasich’s (R) anti-labor law early this summer, insisting that Senate Bill 5 — a bill that was resoundingly defeated by police and firefighters — “is about respecting police and firefighters.” Now, Mandel is demanding that Ohio officials open up a national forest in Ohio to fracking — a policy 70 percent of Ohioans oppose. And he wants it done immediately.

Ohio’s Wayne National Forest is host to oil and gas wells, but none as deep and dangerous as those created by fracking, a method of deep natural gas drilling. The plan to lease 3,302 acres during a Dec. 7 public auction “inspired new fears” in Athens, OH about the possible pollution of the area water supply. These concerned prompted Wayne National Forest supervisor Anne Carey to withdraw the auction and begin an evaluation process that could take up to six months. Mandel slammed Carey for her concern, insisting that places like Mahoning Valley (which is about 150 miles away from the park) “will greatly benefit from fracking“:

    “The Mahoning Valley is one of the areas that will greatly benefit from fracking,” said Mandel, who called The Vindicator on Thursday to discuss the issue as well as criticize a decision by a national forest supervisor in the Athens area for postponing a plan to lease more than 3,000 acres for oil and gas drilling.[...]

    Mandel said the gas-and-oil business is booming and “a delay in drilling is a delay in job creation for the state of Ohio.”

    The business can “rejuvenate parts of Ohio,” including the Valley, he said.

Once again, Mandel’s idea of “benefit” is questionable. Fracking has a long history of groundwater pollution, leaving entire towns with highly-contaminated water supplies. Indeed, some contaminated wells have been found to contain extremely high levels leukemia-causing benzene while others left people filling dizzy and caused horses and pets to lose their hair.

I'm not sure what the United States of America has done to senate candidate Josh Mandel (R) for him to hate it so much. Maybe he should take some of that corporate cash he is getting and buy a plane ticket to some right-wing banana republic. He'll feel right at home.

Is Mitt Romney Morally Fit to Be President - He refused to help decorated Iraq war veteran become a cop

















Is Mitt Romney Morally Fit to Be President - He refused to help decorated Iraq war veteran become a cop

In an article documenting Mitt Romney's decade-long campaign for the presidency comes this extraordinary profile in political and moral cowardice:

    As Steve LeBlanc of The Associated Press documented in 2007, Romney issued no pardons or commutations while serving as governor, despite some seemingly benign pleas.

    In one of them, Anthony Circosta, a decorated Iraq war veteran, requested a pardon so he could pursue a career as a police officer.

    His background was marred because, as a 13 year old, he was convicted of assault for shooting another boy in the arm with a BB gun.

    The shot that did not break the other child’s skin.

    Nonetheless, Circosta’s plea was among the 100 requests for commutations and 172 requests for pardons that all were denied during Romney’s four years in office.

Apparently, Mitt Romney didn't want to risk having a Mike Dukakis-style Willie Horton issue appear on the campaign trail. Of course, even though Circosta "worked his way through college, joined the Army National Guard, and led a platoon of 20 soldiers in Iraq’s deadly Sunni triangle," Romney refused to help.

When it came to addressing George W. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence, Romney defended it, however. So why the sudden shift from Romney? Simple: He was running for office, for Pete's sake. Republican office.

In case you do not remember Scooter Libby lied to protect V.P. Cheney from being prosecuting for exposing the identity f a CIA NOC agent who specilized in Middle-East WMD intelligence. Romney has the same priotites as every wing-nut conservative - party first, America and decency last.

OWS Comes to the Aid of Right-wing Reporter From Daily Caller.


Friday, November 18, 2011

America's Internet Might Become As Bad As China - Stop SOPA








































America's Internet Might Become As Bad As China

China operates the world’s most elaborate and opaque system of Internet censorship. But Congress, under pressure to take action against the theft of intellectual property, is considering misguided legislation that would strengthen China’s Great Firewall and even bring major features of it to America.

The legislation — the Protect IP Act, which has been introduced in the Senate, and a House version known as the Stop Online Piracy Act — have an impressive array of well-financed backers, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Motion Picture Association of America, the American Federation of Musicians, the Directors Guild of America, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Screen Actors Guild. The bills aim not to censor political or religious speech as China does, but to protect American intellectual property. Alarm at the infringement of creative works through the Internet is justifiable. The solutions offered by the legislation, however, threaten to inflict collateral damage on democratic discourse and dissent both at home and around the world.

The bills would empower the attorney general to create a blacklist of sites to be blocked by Internet service providers, search engines, payment providers and advertising networks, all without a court hearing or a trial. The House version goes further, allowing private companies to sue service providers for even briefly and unknowingly hosting content that infringes on copyright — a sharp change from current law, which protects the service providers from civil liability if they remove the problematic content immediately upon notification. The intention is not the same as China’s Great Firewall, a nationwide system of Web censorship, but the practical effect could be similar.

Abuses under existing American law serve as troubling predictors for the kinds of abuse by private actors that the House bill would make possible. Take, for example, the cease-and-desist letters that Diebold, a maker of voting machines, sent in 2003, demanding that Internet service providers shut down Web sites that had published internal company e-mails about problems with the company’s voting machines. The letter cited copyright violations, and most of the service providers took down the content without question, despite the strong case to be made that the material was speech protected under the First Amendment.

The House bill would also emulate China’s system of corporate “self-discipline,” making companies liable for users’ actions. The burden would be on the Web site operator to prove that the site was not being used for copyright infringement. The effect on user-generated sites like YouTube would be chilling.

YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have played an important role in political movements from Tahrir Square to Zuccotti Park. At present, social networking services are protected by a “safe harbor” provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which grants Web sites immunity from prosecution as long as they act in good faith to take down infringing content as soon as rights-holders point it out to them. The House bill would destroy that immunity, putting the onus on YouTube to vet videos in advance or risk legal action. It would put Twitter in a similar position to that of its Chinese cousin, Weibo, which reportedly employs around 1,000 people to monitor and censor user content and keep the company in good standing with authorities.

Compliance with the Stop Online Piracy Act would require huge overhead spending by Internet companies for staff and technologies dedicated to monitoring users and censoring any infringing material from being posted or transmitted. This in turn would create daunting financial burdens and legal risks for start-up companies, making it much harder for brilliant young entrepreneurs with limited resources to create small and innovative Internet companies that empower citizens and change the world.

Adding to the threat to free speech, recent academic research on global Internet censorship has found that in countries where heavy legal liability is imposed on companies, employees tasked with day-to-day censorship jobs have a strong incentive to play it safe and over-censor — even in the case of content whose legality might stand a good chance of holding up in a court of law. Why invite legal hassle when you can just hit “delete”?

The potential for abuse of power through digital networks — upon which we as citizens now depend for nearly everything, including our politics — is one of the most insidious threats to democracy in the Internet age. We live in a time of tremendous political polarization. Public trust in both government and corporations is low, and deservedly so. This is no time for politicians and industry lobbyists in Washington to be devising new Internet censorship mechanisms, adding new opportunities for abuse of corporate and government power over online speech. While American intellectual property deserves protection, that protection must be won and defended in a manner that does not stifle innovation, erode due process under the law, and weaken the protection of political and civil rights on the Internet.

You can contact your senators and representatives directly - through e-mail and fox( check their websites) or there is a petition here.

What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral.

Some stand to profit from the status quo: Banks present a systemic risk to the economy, and reducing that risk by lowering their leverage and increasing capital requirements also lowers profitability. Others are hired guns, doing the bidding of bosses on Wall Street.

They all suffer cognitive dissonance — the intellectual crisis that occurs when a failed belief system or philosophy is confronted with proof of its implausibility.

And what about those facts? To be clear, no single issue was the cause. Our economy is a complex and intricate system. What caused the crisis? Look:

Fed Chair Alan Greenspan dropped rates to 1 percent — levels not seen for half a century — and kept them there for an unprecedentedly long period. This caused a spiral in anything priced in dollars (i.e., oil, gold) or credit (i.e., housing) or liquidity driven (i.e., stocks).

Low rates meant asset managers could no longer get decent yields from municipal bonds or Treasurys. Instead, they turned to high-yield mortgage-backed securities. Nearly all of them failed to do adequate due diligence before buying them, did not understand these instruments or the risk involved. They violated one of the most important rules of investing: Know what you own.

Fund managers made this error because they relied on the credit ratings agencies — Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. They had placed an AAA rating on these junk securities, claiming they were as safe as U.S. Treasurys.

• Derivatives had become a uniquely unregulated financial instrument. They are exempt from all oversight, counter-party disclosure, exchange listing requirements, state insurance supervision and, most important, reserve requirements. This allowed AIG to write $3 trillion in derivatives while reserving precisely zero dollars against future claims.

• The Securities and Exchange Commission changed the leverage rules for just five Wall Street banks in 2004. The “Bear Stearns exemption” replaced the 1977 net capitalization rule’s 12-to-1 leverage limit. In its place, it allowed unlimited leverage for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. These banks ramped leverage to 20-, 30-, even 40-to-1. Extreme leverage leaves very little room for error.

•Wall Street’s compensation system was skewed toward short-term performance. It gives traders lots of upside and none of the downside. This creates incentives to take excessive risks.

• The demand for higher-yielding paper led Wall Street to begin bundling mortgages. The highest yielding were subprime mortgages. This market was dominated by non-bank originators exempt from most regulations. The Fed could have supervised them, but Greenspan did not.

• These mortgage originators’ lend-to-sell-to-securitizers model had them holding mortgages for a very short period. This allowed them to get creative with underwriting standards, abdicating traditional lending metrics such as income, credit rating, debt-service history and loan-to-value.

• “Innovative” mortgage products were developed to reach more subprime borrowers. These include 2/28 adjustable-rate mortgages, interest-only loans, piggy-bank mortgages (simultaneous underlying mortgage and home-equity lines) and the notorious negative amortization loans (borrower’s indebtedness goes up each month). These mortgages defaulted in vastly disproportionate numbers to traditional 30-year fixed mortgages.

To keep up with these newfangled originators, traditional banks developed automated underwriting systems. The software was gamed by employees paid on loan volume, not quality.

The people blaming government, Fannie May and whatever boogieman are just plain old gutless liars.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Caused the Financial Crisis? Or What Some Call The Great Recession


































What Caused the Financial Crisis? Or What Some Call The Great Recession

One group has been especially vocal about shaping a new narrative of the credit crisis and economic collapse: those whose bad judgment and failed philosophy helped cause the crisis.

Rather than admit the error of their ways — Repent! — these people are engaged in an active campaign to rewrite history. They are not, of course, exonerated in doing so. And beyond that, they damage the process of repairing what was broken. They muddy the waters when it comes to holding guilty parties responsible. They prevent measures from being put into place to prevent another crisis.

Here is the surprising takeaway: They are winning. Thanks to the endless repetition of the Big Lie.

A Big Lie is so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. There are many examples: Claims that Earth is not warming, or that evolution is not the best thesis we have for how humans developed. Those opposed to stimulus spending have gone so far as to claim that the infrastructure of the United States is just fine, Grade A (not D, as the we discussed last month), and needs little repair.

Wall Street has its own version: Its Big Lie is that banks and investment houses are merely victims of the crash. You see, the entire boom and bust was caused by misguided government policies. It was not irresponsible lending or derivative or excess leverage or misguided compensation packages, but rather long-standing housing policies that were at fault.

Indeed, the arguments these folks make fail to withstand even casual scrutiny. But that has not stopped people who should know better from repeating them.

The Big Lie made a surprise appearance Tuesday when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, responding to a question about Occupy Wall Street, stunned observers by exonerating Wall Street: “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp.”

What made his comments so stunning is that he built Bloomberg Data Services on the notion that data are what matter most to investors. The terminals are found on nearly 400,000 trading desks around the world, at a cost of $1,500 a month. (Do the math — that’s over half a billion dollars a month.) Perhaps the fact that Wall Street was the source of his vast wealth biased him. But the key principle of the business that made the mayor a billionaire is that fund managers, economists, researchers and traders should ignore the squishy narrative and, instead, focus on facts. Yet he ignored his own principles to repeat statements he should have known were false.

Why are people trying to rewrite the history of the crisis? Some are simply trying to save face. Interest groups who advocate for deregulation of the finance sector would prefer that deregulation not receive any blame for the crisis.

Some stand to profit from the status quo: Banks present a systemic risk to the economy, and reducing that risk by lowering their leverage and increasing capital requirements also lowers profitability. Others are hired guns, doing the bidding of bosses on Wall Street.

They all suffer cognitive dissonance — the intellectual crisis that occurs when a failed belief system or philosophy is confronted with proof of its implausibility.

And what about those facts? To be clear, no single issue was the cause. Our economy is a complex and intricate system. What caused the crisis? Look:

*Fed Chair Alan Greenspan dropped rates to 1 percent — levels not seen for half a century — and kept them there for an unprecedentedly long period. This caused a spiral in anything priced in dollars (i.e., oil, gold) or credit (i.e., housing) or liquidity driven (i.e., stocks).

*Low rates meant asset managers could no longer get decent yields from municipal bonds or Treasurys. Instead, they turned to high-yield mortgage-backed securities. Nearly all of them failed to do adequate due diligence before buying them, did not understand these instruments or the risk involved. They violated one of the most important rules of investing: Know what you own.

*Fund managers made this error because they relied on the credit ratings agencies — Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. They had placed an AAA rating on these junk securities, claiming they were as safe as U.S. Treasurys.

Derivatives had become a uniquely unregulated financial instrument. They are exempt from all oversight, counter-party disclosure, exchange listing requirements, state insurance supervision and, most important, reserve requirements. This allowed AIG to write $3 trillion in derivatives while reserving precisely zero dollars against future claims.

• The Securities and Exchange Commission changed the leverage rules for just five Wall Street banks in 2004. The “Bear Stearns exemption” replaced the 1977 net capitalization rule’s 12-to-1 leverage limit. In its place, it allowed unlimited leverage for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. These banks ramped leverage to 20-, 30-, even 40-to-1. Extreme leverage leaves very little room for error.

•Wall Street’s compensation system was skewed toward short-term performance. It gives traders lots of upside and none of the downside. This creates incentives to take excessive risks.

• The demand for higher-yielding paper led Wall Street to begin bundling mortgages. The highest yielding were subprime mortgages. This market was dominated by non-bank originators exempt from most regulations. The Fed could have supervised them, but Greenspan did not.

• These mortgage originators’ lend-to-sell-to-securitizers model had them holding mortgages for a very short period. This allowed them to get creative with underwriting standards, abdicating traditional lending metrics such as income, credit rating, debt-service history and loan-to-value.

• “Innovative” mortgage products were developed to reach more subprime borrowers. These include 2/28 adjustable-rate mortgages, interest-only loans, piggy-bank mortgages (simultaneous underlying mortgage and home-equity lines) and the notorious negative amortization loans (borrower’s indebtedness goes up each month). These mortgages defaulted in vastly disproportionate numbers to traditional 30-year fixed mortgages.

*To keep up with these newfangled originators, traditional banks developed automated underwriting systems. The software was gamed by employees paid on loan volume, not quality.

*Glass-Steagall legislation, which kept Wall Street and Main Street banks walled off from each other, was repealed in 1998. This allowed FDIC-insured banks, whose deposits were guaranteed by the government, to engage in highly risky business. It also allowed the banks to bulk up, becoming bigger, more complex and unwieldy.

*Many states had anti-predatory lending laws on their books (along with lower defaults and foreclosure rates). In 2004, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency federally preempted state laws regulating mortgage credit and national banks. Following this change, national lenders sold increasingly risky loan products in those states. Shortly after, their default and foreclosure rates skyrocketed.

Bloomberg was partially correct: Congress did radically deregulate the financial sector, doing away with many of the protections that had worked for decades. Congress allowed Wall Street to self-regulate, and the Fed the turned a blind eye to bank abuses.

The previous Big Lie — the discredited belief that free markets require no adult supervision — is the reason people have created a new false narrative.
All the right-wing conservative Anti-American presidential candidates have done their part in telling the Big Lie. They seem to anyone - working class Americans, minorities, government, liberalism. The truth hurts. The free market is great when it workers. It only works when properly regulated. That's not communism or fascism or any other ism, its common sense and an honest history of the greed that always kicks in when regulations are too lax or not enforced.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

America Hater Newt Gingrich Has Ethics. They Just Happen to Be Abominable
























America Hater Newt Gingrich Has Ethics. They Just Happen to Be Abominable

The GOP presidential primary is a lot like a kindergarten t-ball game: When it comes to being in first place, just about everybody gets a turn. And now, congratulations, Newt Gingrich: It’s your turn!

Steve Kornacki wrote about the Public Policy Polling survey that found Gingrich is following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain as the Republican flavor of the week. Gingrich benefits from three things: A lot of Republicans can’t stand Mitt Romney, Cain and Perry have shamed themselves in public, and by contrast, he’s had no bad debates. So far he’s come off as smart and affable, trying to rally his rivals against the big, bad media that’s trying to get them to fight.

Since Gingrich has mostly been in single digits, far back in the polls, his rivals have humored him and ignored his liabilities. That’s about to change, and Gingrich, like Perry, Cain and Michele Bachmann before him, will likewise wither under the hot sun of political scrutiny. The seemingly affable professor and author is a hothead with many political liabilities and almost as many enemies. He’s committed so many political and ethical transgressions that his baggage has baggage.

Gingrich is probably best known for serving his wife with divorce papers while she was recovering from cancer surgery, so he could marry his mistress, whom he later divorced to marry a staffer. But he’s also probably the only politician, who when you’re asked “What’s the worst thing he’s done?” has done a lot of things that rival leaving his cancer-stricken wife for his mistress. For most people in the world, in fact, that would be the hands-down worst act ever; for Gingrich, it’s just not that clear-cut (h/t Jamie Kilstein).

For instance, he’s the only House speaker in American history to be disciplined by Congress for ethics violations.  In 1998, he paid a $300,000 fine after he was found to have been misusing his tax-exempt foundations for political gain.

OK, those have to be the two worst things, dumping his wife who had cancer for his mistress, and congressional ethics sanctions, right?

But wait, but there’s more:

    Shutting down the government in 1995 at least partly because President Clinton allegedly snubbed him by seating him in the rear of Air Force One on a flight home from Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral. No, really, he told reporters the “snub” was “part of why you ended up with us sending down a tougher continuing resolution.”
    Advocating that the children of welfare recipients be taken away from their parents and raised in orphanages.
    Leading the drive to impeach Clinton over lying about adultery when he was himself lying about adultery, cheating on his wife with a staffer, Callista Bisek, who became his third wife.
    Insisting President Obama suffers from “a Kenyan anti-colonial mindset” like his Kenyan father, even though he barely knew his Kenyan father.
    Denouncing Paul Ryan’s radical budget (that was actually smart) as “right-wing social engineering,” then flip-flopping and warning that “any ad which quotes what I said Sunday is a falsehood.”
    Railing against Obama’s alleged “class warfare” when he’s run up a $500,000 tab at Tiffany’s.
But my all-time favorite Newt Gingrich “worst” was the time he blamed the horrendous case of Susan Smith, the South Carolina mother( a Republican who was having an affair with her Republican father-in-law) who murdered her young sons in 1994, on Democrats. Smith, you’ll recall, first blamed her son’s drowning deaths on a black man who supposedly car-jacked her, but it turned out, she did it herself. Just before the 1994 election, in which his party swept back into power, Gingrich said:

     I think that the mother killing the two children in South Carolina vividly reminds every American how sick the society is getting and how much we need to change things. The only way you get change is to vote Republican. That’s the message for the last three days.

Two days later, Gingrich defended his comments by insisting he’d been saying the same thing for years: that Democratic rule had frayed the moral fabric of the country: “We need very deep change if we’re going to turn this country around.” Asked directly if he was saying electing Republicans could stop killings like Smith’s, he said flatly: “Yes. In my judgment, there’s no question.”

He later blamed the Columbine and Virginia Tech killings on liberals, too.

America has never been perfect, but its "moral" fabric has always been in most danger by conservatism. Conservatism - forget the names of the political parties Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives were in both parties until the 1980s - has always been the biggest threat to America. Conservatism by its very nature is anti-American. Conservatism as a movement has more in common with the ultra-nationalism of the Japanese leading up to WW II. Gingrich fits in perfectly. he believes in a dog-eat-dog culture and economy. He believes America should be ruled by the elite and voting rights given only to those who believe in the far Right agenda.


Scott Walker recall, Day 1, by the numbers and you can download a Walker recall form here. Beware of false recalls conservative nuts who will throw your recall petition in the trash.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Individual Health Insurance Mandate Was Newt Gingrich’s Idea, And Mitt Romney Implemented It

















































Individual Health Insurance Mandate Was Newt Gingrich’s Idea, And Mitt Romney Implemented It

On the same day the Supreme Court announced it would take up lawsuits against the Affordable Care Act, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) took aim at GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney and insurgent Newt Gingrich for their role in crafting one of the law’s key components — the individual mandate:

    BACHMANN: Our candidate can’t be compromised. We have candidates that are compromised on the individual health care mandate, which is Obamacare. It was Newt Gingrich’s idea, and Mitt Romney implemented it.

Watch it:

In many ways, Bachmann is absolutely right. The concept of the individual mandate actually originated at the conservative Heritage Foundation, but Gingrich was an early and strong supporter. “I am for people, individuals — exactly like automobile insurance — individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance,” Gingrich said on Meet the Press in 1993. He supported it as recently as 2007, writing in a Des Moines Register op-ed, “Personal responsibility extends to the purchase of health insurance. Citizens should not be able to cheat their neighbors by not buying insurance.”

Romney himself pointed this out in a debate, saying, “Actually Newt, we got the idea of the individual mandate from you…and the Heritage Foundation.” And of course, as has been repeatedly noted, the groundbreaking universal health care program Romney implemented as governor of Massachusetts was very similar to President Obama’s Affordable Care Act and employed the individual mandate. Romney actively lobbied for the mandate
to be included in his reform.

Conservatives stand for something. The problem seems to be they and the rest of America can't figure out exactly what conservatives stand for. They seem pretty consistent about standing up for the financial elite at the expense of average Americans. They're consistent about wanting to start unending wars. They're all for gutting the safety net they helps millions of seniors and the disabled out of poverty. Who knows someday conservatives might stand for something that is pro-America. Though don't hold your breath.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Republicans Claim The Stimulus Did Not Create Jobs and Government Cannot Create Jobs



















Republicans Claim The Stimulus Did Not Create Jobs and Government Cannot Create Jobs

I have to admit, I never tire of stories like these.

    …Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) kicked it old school on Thursday by cutting the ribbon on a new road that received millions from the same spending bill he opposed.

    Guinta spoke at the opening ceremony for Raymond Wieczorek Drive, a new access road connecting various towns to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Later he posted a picture of the event on his official Facebook page. Other attendees included Gov. John Lynch (D) and New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien.

    “It’s going to help us with our tourism, our economy, and it’s going to provide us greater flexibility for our residents, our business commuters, and those visiting our state,” Guinta said at the event. “It’s a real example of how when we put our mind to it we can accomplish anything we want to accomplish.”

These examples are a lot less common now, not because GOP officials have become more responsible, but because Recovery Act funding has just about been exhausted. But when the instances come along, they tend to be doozies.

In this case, Guinta absolutely loathes stimulus spending — his hatred for these public investments was a central part of his 2010 campaign platform — but that didn’t stop him from trying to take credit for the infrastructure project that was financed by stimulus spending. That this new project wouldn’t exist if Guinta had his way didn’t interfere with his smiles at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Now, every time these examples come up, I get some pushback. As the argument goes, these Republican lawmakers who hate stimulus spending and want stimulus spending at the same time aren’t really doing anything wrong, because once the funds are available, members of Congress have a responsibility to look out for their districts’ interests.

There’s certainly some truth to this, and I can fully appreciate the importance of fighting for a slice of a pie. After all, their taxpaying constituents are paying for these investments whether they like it or not.

The problem, though, is the ways in which this practice pokes holes in the larger Republican ideology. GOP lawmakers like Guinta run around telling the public that public investments can’t create jobs and are bad for the economy. GOP lawmakers like Guinta then also tell the public investments can create jobs and are good for the economy.

Look again at those remarks the conservative Republican lawmaker made at the ribbon-cutting ceremony: because Congress agreed to spend this money, over his objections, Guinta’s community will get a larger economic boost. But if that’s true, why has Guinta fought so hard to kill this and related investments? Isn’t boosting the economy a worthwhile goal?

If there’s money on the table, and Republicans want to fight for some of it, fine. But what gets me are the ideological arguments that are as wrong as they are cynical — public spending will undermine the economy, unless it’s in my area, in which case it will be good for the economy.

One way to explain how conservatives look at the world is whatever benefits them is good - there s no real underlying system of beliefs. They're like children who want a piece of candy are are going to stomp their feet and cry until they get. Everything else they say or do is just so much noise. Some conservatives still try to get away with calling themselves the party of Lincoln. That was around the last time the Republican party stood for any principles.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Conservatism Has Become The Cult of Ayn Rand














Conservatism Has Become The Cult of Ayn Rand

Many have commented on the remarkable callousness fashioned by this Republican presidential field. Most prominently, Herman Cain maintained that the poor and unemployed are responsible for their own plight; Ron Paul claimed that people who refrain from buying health insurance but become debilitated should not be bailed out by government healthcare—they should just die instead, his audience helpfully suggested (or hollered, rather); and just about all the candidates have recommended ever harsher, ever more absurd measures to keep out poor immigrants on our border with Mexico: double fences, electric fences, even soldiers with ‘real guns and real bullets,’ as Herman Cain put it.

What’s driving this show of meanness? You might say it’s just what the electorate—or some loud part thereof—wants. It seems like there are some seriously angry voters out there these days, and I’m sure the recession is taking a toll on people’s patience and generosity. And yet, I suspect this is no fleeting trend, but something with deeper ideological roots. In short, I sense Ayn Rand.

Rand has always had a good following, but her popularity has surged in recent years as conservatives repeatedly invoked her to counter Obama’s “Socialist” agenda. She has an impressive roster of conservative devotees: Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Ron Paul. Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul quoted Ayn Rand at length during a congressional committee meeting this past year—to argue against government mandates for energy efficient light bulbs, of all things. Congressman Paul Ryan, the rising star from Wisconsin who drafted the Republican’s celebrated plan to slash the federal budget, reportedly urges all his staffers to read her works.

This is a powerful fan-base, and many have feared the consequences of Rand’s influence. I think we are seeing it now, for there are clear strains of her venom in the excesses of the Republican candidates—and beyond. Her trademark callousness is increasingly evident throughout our political discourse regarding the poor and vulnerable of society. The congressional super-committee charged with agreeing on a trillion dollars in federal deficit reduction is reportedly contemplating cuts to food stamps, while Republicans remain steadfast that taxes not rise on the rich. This, as the recession lingers and poverty rates soar, and we witness the greatest concentration of wealth among the rich since the 1920s. The Republican stance is mind-boggling in these circumstances—but Rand would certainly approve; indeed, she might favor far worse. Consider:

In her popular novels, Rand glorifies ambitious, fiercely independent individuals who soar and succeed by virtue of their own resources and willpower alone. It’s her ode to individualism that captivates her fans. Also the simplicity of her world view, I suspect: Rand’s is a Manichean universe populated by a few great souls on one side, and the inept masses on the other; the masses would perennially muddle in their own misery if not for the exceptional creativity and bravery of a few to do great things, and it’s up to the masses to keep out of their way. In Atlas Shrugged, Rand declares “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time.” Upon little reflection, Rand’s reasoning is obviously specious. Who on earth rises to the top without the help of someone, anyone at all? Indeed, luck plays an important role in a person’s success, too—if you evaluate it honestly, that is. Rand’s thinking is a pleasant enough fiction for those at the top of the heap, but it’s wholly improbable, na├»ve—and rude.

Pry a little further, however, and Rand’s thinking quickly becomes quite cruel. In a 1967 article entitled “Requiem for Man,” Rand issues a scathing rebuttal to Pope Paul VI who dared suggest that capitalists must be mindful of global wealth disparity and the sufferings of the poor, and recognize a social obligation to help the unfortunate (the Vatican has notably issued similar remarks in a recent statement on the global financial crisis). Rand slams the Pope for urging us to show brotherly love to poor 3rd world “savages." To the contrary, she declares, when civilized man “discovers entire populations rotting alive in such conditions” he should not feel pity, but “a burning stab of pride” for “the achievements of his nations and his culture…” Amazingly, Rand fails to acknowledge how much the civilized nations have prospered at the expense of the global poor thanks to imperialism. Would she have us applaud the imperialists for their opportunism and exploitation?

In Rand’s view, the poor are better subject to our derision than compassion. What they want, what the Pope calls us to be sensitive to, are perfectly despicable needs: “The inhabitants of the world [that the Pope’s encyclical] proposes to establish are robots tuned to respond to a single stimulus: need—the lowest, grossest, physical, physicalistic need of any other robots anywhere: the minimum necessities, the barely sufficient to keep all robots in working order, eating, sleeping, eliminating, and procreating, to produce more robots to work, eat, sleep, eliminate, and procreate.” Her message to the millions starving in the world: your needs are not worth our consideration; just die why don’t you.

I’ve long wondered why—or how—Rand’s disciples conveniently, miraculously, ignored her heinous conclusions. It’s time Rand was seen for what she is—no glossing over it. Clearly, it’s not acceptable for our political leaders to be associated with her thought. Conservatives—any of her disciples indeed—have a clear choice: marginalize her work accordingly, or explain how a vision of radical individualism such as Rand’s does not lead to hate. A lot could be gained by the latter. At the very least, it might reveal the appropriate boundaries of our individualism, and make us more thoughtful to the vulnerable among us.

Firmin DeBrabander is Chair of Humanistic Studies and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
Conservatives or Republitarians are like children who fall in love with superheroes like the simplistic ones Rand portrays in her fictional novels. In the real world we grow up and realize we're not cartoon characters and never can be. The rabid Right never grows up. They hold on to childish notions or delusions they got theirs without any help or any luck or any of the infrastructure a civilized society provides via taxes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Over The Last Forty Years America Has Often Followed The Path of Conservative Economic Policy - That Path Has Come Back to Haunt The Middle-Class


















Over The Last Forty Years America Has Often Followed The Path of Conservative Economic Policy - That Path Has Come Back to Haunt The Middle-Class

A few weeks ago, as the Occupy Wall Street protests were first spreading, something amazing happened: For 10 whole seconds, the local reporter on my TV screen actually talked about the realities of the recession. He even uttered the phrase “economic inequality.”

My guess is that you’ve seen something similar on your local affiliate — and that’s no minor event. When even the most local of television journalists are compelled to acknowledge this crushing emergency in a country whose media aggressively promotes American dream agitprop, it means the Occupy protesters have scored a monumental victory. You can almost imagine a Wall Street CEO turning to an aide and muttering a slightly altered riff off LBJ: “If we’ve lost Ron Burgundy, we’ve lost Middle America.”

In response to this stunning turn of events, conservative politicians are retreating to non sequiturs. They seem to think that if they shout the phrase “class warfare” enough, the nation will go back to not caring about the divide between the rich and poor.

But something has changed.

For most of the post-World War II era, we tolerated relatively high inequality because we envisioned it as a necessary side effect of an exceptional economy that (supposedly) guaranteed opportunities for advancement. As the Wall Street Journal put it, we believed that “it is OK to have ever-greater differences between rich and poor … as long as (our) children have a good chance of grasping the brass ring.”

However, the last three decades have invalidated our standing hypothesis. After the conservatives’ successful assault on the New Deal, America has lived a different reality — one perfectly summarized by a new Federal Reserve study revealing that today’s increasing inequality accompanies comparatively low social mobility.

“U.S. family income mobility has decreased over the 1969-2006 time span, and especially since the 1980s,” notes the Fed paper, adding that “a family’s position at (the) end of (the) 2000s was … more correlated with its start position than was the case 20 years earlier.”

Of course, some class mobility still exists. The trouble is that it’s primarily of the downward kind. As the Pew Charitable Trusts reports, roughly a third of those who grew up in the middle class have now fallen below that station in adulthood.

This is why, for all the right-wing mythology about “Eurosocialism” snuffing out upward mobility, data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show that social mobility in uber-capitalist America is actually lower than in most industrialized countries.

This is why almost three-quarters of respondents just told the Hill newspaper’s pollsters that income inequality is a problem.

This is why my local TV news is suddenly airing pieces on economic inequality between sports, weather and all the “you stay classy” small talk.

And this is why, among all the fights over economic policy, the debate about taxes is the most crucial of all.

As the Fed noted in a separate report, the federal tax code — which remains vaguely progressive — has been the one proven way to “mitigate income inequality.” But with congressional Republicans gradually flattening federal income tax rates and with already-regressive state tax rates in GOP bastions like Texas, Wyoming, Tennessee, South Dakota and Mississippi, the tax system has lately been preserving or exacerbating existing inequality.

David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now."

Conservatives have been hyper shrill lately. Claiming that a return of the tax rates of the prosperous Clinton years will be a return to Marxism or even the end of our civilization. You can't reason with people like that, people who have clearly gone off the deep end. They seemed to have taken the zealotry of some religious cults to and applied it to economics. They believe what they believe and they want no part of being rational adults.