Before we move on to more recent events, a fact check of the conservative debate in Florida, Tampa, Fla., Debate Fact-Check
*Rick Santorum says he did not call for Congress, otherwise known as a branch of the federal government, to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, the young Florida woman who suffered brain damage in 1990. The facts say otherwise. Rick now says he wanted a judicial review – that would have meant a federal review since the Florida courts had already ruled the government had no right to intervene on behalf of Schiavo’s parents, so six of one half a dozen of the other – Rick was for big government intervention or judicial activism.
In condemning the new Dodd-Frank law tightening regulation of the financial sector, Mitt Romney cited the law’s negative effect on smaller community banks in particular. But lobbyists won exemptions for community banks from many if not most of the Dodd-Frank limitations on banking. A top lobbyist for the sector publicly described the legislation as beneficial for smaller banks because it leveled the playing field with bigger banks and set a limit on their size.
Mittens either does not have a grasp of the issue or maliciously distorted a reading of the law to score points. One assumes that is simply a continuance of what conservatives see as “values”.
All the canidates except Paul have been agiating with some kind of confrontation with Iran. I guess because that Iraq debacle worked out so well. Romney has thrown in the Obama has made the miltray smaller bromide. The U.S. military is stronger than ever.
“A wide range of experts told us it’s wrong to assume that a decline in the number of ships or aircraft automatically means a weaker military. Quite the contrary: The United States is the world’s unquestioned military leader today, not just because of the number of ships and aircraft in its arsenal but also because each is stocked with top-of-the-line technology and highly trained personnel. Thanks to the development of everything from nuclear weapons to drones, comparing today’s military to that of 60 to 100 years ago presents an egregious comparison of apples and oranges.”
The modern military has more kill power with slightly fewer troops. Does Romney want big and expensive just for the sake of show or does he want effectiveness.
Newt Gingrich repeated once again that he was never a lobbyist.
It is true that Mr. Gingrich never registered as a lobbyist at the federal or state level. But he did many of the same things lobbyists do, including meeting with state lawmakers, members of Congress and federal officials to promote issues important to companies that were paying his consulting firm as much as $200,000 a year.
If Newt wants to make the case he was not an influence peddler than he needs to make his trail of influence peddling magically disappear. Conservatives believe in the doublespeak genie that rearranges reality to order, most American do not.
But Obama has seen their Hamiltonianism and raised the stakes with a more Jeffersonian approach as well. In particular, he sided with numerous unions, community groups and financial reformers by announcing the establishment of a joint task force, co-chaired by New York State’s crusading Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, to investigate the conduct of banks in peddling dubious mortgages and the derivatives on same. The decision emerged at the end of prolonged, often disputatious, negotiations between the Justice Department and the states attorneys general—some of whom, with Schneiderman in the lead, resisted the administration’s initial proposal to get five big banks to pay roughly $25 billion to homeowners wronged by robo-signing, in return for waiving the banks’ potentially far more serious misconduct in originating, bundling and re-selling bad mortgages. Schneiderman, Delaware’s Beau Biden, Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley and a few other AGs insisted that any such deal had to come after a rigorous investigation of the banks role in mortgage and mortgage-derivative misrepresentation, and whatever prosecutions would eventuate from it. Last night, Obama endorsed their position, and, by establishing the task force and, administration officials said, designating Schneiderman to head it, opened the door to the prospect of bankers facing prosecution for financial crimes. What a concept.
There was, in fact, a Hamiltonian-Jeffersonian subtext to Obama’s vision. Large advanced economies tend to be dominated by a particular sector. In mid-20th-century America and in Germany today, manufacturing dominates, which historically has tended to create a somewhat more egalitarian economy and society. In America today and in Britain for some time now, finance has dominated, which tends to hollow out a domestic economy and greatly exacerbate income- and wealth-inequality. The resurrection of manufacturing and the diminution of finance go hand in hand with Obama’s proposals to create a fairer tax structure.
These are consummations devoutly to be wished. But difficult as it may be to change our taxes, it will be far more difficult to bring back manufacturing. The proposals Obama suggested are a good start, but even renascent manufacturing will not of itself bring back America’s middle class majority. For one thing, factories are so heavily mechanized that it takes far fewer workers today to do the same jobs their predecessors did just 15 years ago. For another, with private-sector unions almost extinguished, the new hourly pay level for manufacturing workers in America is somewhere between $15 and $19 an hour—that is, between $30,000 and $38,000 a year. That’s not the kind of middle-class wage that unionized manufacturing workers made during the second half of the last century. Ultimately, there’s simply no way a nation can attain a vibrant middle class when its workforce is all but de-unionized. Obama’s new positions on manufacturing, like his tax proposals, are a necessary but not sufficient condition to rebuild the great American middle class.
I tend to dislike or rather find SOTU analysis that are big on how moving or eloquent they are, a waste of time. What was said that points to policy prescriptions and what are the honest chances of achieving them. This article did that better then the flood of other analysis. As Harold Meyerson notes Obama may not have a slam dunk in regards U.S. manufacturing, but he sees the problem and wants to steer the economy in the right direction. The conservative movement is still on the supply-side trickle down bandwagon – throw in some twaddle about being over regulated and we’re right back to the same policies that caused the Great Recession in the first place – hey kids that meltdown was so much fun let’s do it again in a few years. All through the 90s it what the national meme that conservatives were the movement of ideas. If you call having an economy based on 16th century French aristocracy a new idea.
From the Daniels reply to the State of Union:
Contrary to the President’s constant disparagement of people in business, it’s one of the noblest of human pursuits. The late Steve Jobs — what a fitting name he had — created more of them than all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew.
From Sunday’s Times:
Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.
Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas, a small fraction of the over 400,000 American workers at General Motors in the 1950s, or the hundreds of thousands at General Electric in the 1980s. Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.
Those overseas job are nice…if you live overseas. The U.S. auto industry added 77,300 jobs since the rescue package was passed during the Bush administration. In addition to those jobs were the million jobs the rescue package saved. Back in 2008 when this was a heated topic of debate I suggested that a bankruptcy and reorganization might be best. The way the financial rescue worked was that it was a bankruptcy except in name. GM and Chrysler both worried that an official bankruptcy would taint their brands – not an unreasonable concern. So the government just gave them a financial reorganization plan they did not call a bankruptcy. The entire state of Michigan – while still struggling like everyone else – would have been in dire straights with out the government sponsored
bankruptcy restructuring. The state is showing signs of recovery, largely due to the rescue and an uptick in car sales. Apple deserves credit for a lot of things, but in straight numbers they are not even in the ball park of creating as many American jobs as the auto industry.
Mr. Boehner denounced Democrats who he said were trying to win elections this year by using “the politics of envy, the politics of dividing our country.”
The speaker said he expected the president’s speech to be “a rerun of what we have seen before,” including proposals for more spending, higher taxes and more regulation.
For decades, the Republicans (together with some Democratic allies and unopposed by milquetoasts) have cranked up the class war, trashing unions, transferring wealth upward, undermining regulations and complaining that all their past efforts in this regard haven’t gone nearly far enough, something they will remedy if they can regain the presidency and the Senate and maintain their control over the House of Representatives. They are eternally in “campaign mode.” That’s the class war. It is they who have divided and exacerbated existing divisions. For those who oppose them, it’s not a war of envy, it’s not bashing, it’s self-defense. And we need a heckuva lot more of it.
For as long as I can remember I have not been able to turn on a radio or TV without hearing conservatives trash America, try to devide America over crap they made up. They subscribe to conservative socialism, corporate cronyism, plutocratic government and have crashed the economy, Then pretended they were in a bunker somewhere and had nothing to do with it. Conservatives have tried to shift blame for the failure of their policies to the relatively powerless working poor and Freddie Mac. Conservatives have insisted that they are the producers while simultaneously swearing hey have no responsibility for anything. They claim government is the problem and make sure government is unable to competently preform its most basic functions – funny that we did not have the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression until conservatives convinced the country we no longer needed Glass-Steagall. Conservatives created the infamous K-Street to make government an extension of the right-wing movement and be servants to the financial elite. If we have a fifth column in America, working around the clock to make the country weaker it is conservatives. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker(R) has become something of a poster boy for conservatives who not only learned nothing from the Wall Street meltdown they have doubled down on tax cuts and deregulation to make the middle-class weaker at the expense of the Koch brothers, Goldman-Sachs and Citibank – Scott Walker’s Plutonomy: An Economy for the One Percent
At the hour petitions were being deposited on January 17, Mother Jones revealed that Walker was scheduled to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in the heart of the New York’s financial district at 339 Park Avenue — the towering headquarters for global financial giant CitiGroup. The $5,000 per couple fundraiser was hosted by none other than Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former CEO of AIG.
…No two institutions are more responsible for the economic collapse of America than CitiGroup and AIG.
Citi is the original too-big-to-fail bank. Citi’s merger with Travelers Group in 1998 blew apart the Glass-Steagall protections that had kept the U.S. financial system safe from major financial crises for 60 years.
Citi was a primary driver of the subprime mess. A top Citi official testified before Congress that the firm was betting that the housing market would go sour as early as 2006, yet it remained the nation’s top lender of subprime mortgages and continued to underwrite billions in subprime mortgage-backed securities. It hedged risk by taking out insurance in the form of credit default swaps with firms like AIG.
Like Goldman, Citi has been caught betting against its own customers. Citi’s $285 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — for fraudulently selling packages of mortgage-backed securities that they knew would fail — was just tossed out by a federal judge who called it “is neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.”
Today, Citi is considered by many to be a zombie bank, with billions in toxic assets and growing legal liability. Yet, Citi CEO Vikram Pandit hauled in $23 million in bonus money in 2011, giving him plenty of pocket change to support pet politicians.
…Right now, Walker can raise unlimited sums due to a quirk in Wisconsin’s recall law. How much he raised from Wall Street on January 17 is still unknown, although in his latest report, Walker raised 60 percent of his campaign war chest from out of state according to One Wisconsin Now. This included four eye-popping $250,000 contributions.
Citigroup’s “Plutonomy” Memos
In his 2009 movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore unveiled two explosive memos written by Citi analyst in 2005 and 2006. The memos coin the term “plutonomy” and describe in glowing terms Citi’s view of a U.S. economy entirely driven by the wealth and purchasing power of the 1 percent. The memos can be accessed here and offer a stunning glimpse into the cognition of Wall Street elite.
Plutocrats Drive the Economy: “The world is dividing into two blocs — the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.”
The Future: “We project that the plutonomies will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization.” “Society and governments need to be amendable to disproportionately allow/encourage the few to retain the fatter profit share.”
Forget about Main Street, Invest in the Plutocracy: “Since we think the plutonomy is here, is going to get stronger…” “It is a good time to switch out of stocks that sell to the masses and back to the plutonomy basket.”
While Henry Ford believed that the economy thrived when the people who made the cars could afford to buy them, the Citi plutocrats believe that growth is powered only by the super rich and that catering to their taste for imported baubles and bags should be the goal of every investor and policymaker.
Boehner and conservatives deserve some kind of faux outrage award for the daily Chicken-Little cries of class warfare. The middle-class and the working poor didn’t start that war they’re just stuck fighting it. Before there was shock and awe for Iraq, conservatives had long range goals of shocking and awing the average American back to a hopeless America in which there is little to no hope of getting ahead no matter how hard they work, how much overtime they put in or how much they sacrifice. This a good example of the bizarre grasp of reality in which the conservative mind is thoroughly pickled – Conservative Fantasies About the Miracles of the Market
A central doctrine of evangelicals for the “free market” is its capacity for innovation: New ideas, new technologies, new gadgets — all flow not from governments but from individuals and businesses allowed to flourish in the market, we are told.
That’s the claim made in a recent op/ed in our local paper by policy analyst Josiah Neeley of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Austin. His conclusion: “Throughout history, technological advances have been driven by private investment, not by government fiat. There is no reason to expect that to change anytime soon.”
[ ]…So I called Neeley and asked what innovations he had in mind when he wrote his piece. In an email response he cited Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers. Fair enough — they were independent entrepreneurs, working in the late 19th and early 20th century. But their work came decades after the U.S. Army had provided the primary funding to make interchangeable parts possible, a transformative moment in the history of industrialization. In the “good old days,” government also got involved.
As Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway explain in their book Merchants of Doubt, the U.S. Army’s Ordinance Department wanted interchangeable parts to make guns that could be repaired easily on or near battlefields, which required machine-tooled parts. That research took nearly 50 years, much longer than any individual or corporation would support. The authors make the important point clearly: “Markets spread the technology of machine tools throughout the world, but markets did not create it. Centralized government, in the form of the U.S. Army, was the inventor of the modern machine age.”
Josiah Neeley of the Texas Public Policy Foundation might as well be visiting this planet from another world, his knowledge and understanding of the hundred year old relationship between government financed innovation and the rewards than reaped by private enterprise. Computing? Started by government during WW II. The internet, which has added billions to the GDP? Also the result of government sponsored research.
Even more curious in Neeley’s response were the two specific products he mentioned in his email: “The plow wasn’t created by government fiat, and neither was the iPhone.”
The plow and the iPhone are the best examples of innovations in the private sphere? The plow was invented thousands of years ago, in a world in which governments and economic systems were organized in just slightly different ways, making it an odd example for this discussion of modern capitalism and the nation-state. And the iPhone wouldn’t exist without all that government R&D that created computers and the Internet.
Neeley didn’t try to deny the undeniable role of government and military funding; for example, he mentioned the Saturn V rocket (a case made even more interesting, of course, because Nazi scientists were brought into the United States after World War II to work on the project). “But the driver of these advances’ adoption and relevance outside the realm of government fiat has always been the private sphere,” he wrote in his response.
Neeley is playing a painfully transparent game here. He acknowledges that many basic technological advances are driven by government fiat in the basic R&D phase, but somehow that phase doesn’t matter. What matters is the “adoption and relevance” phase. It’s apparently not relevant that without the basic R&D in these cases there would have been nothing to adopt and make relevant for the market.
I have never heard any non-conservative – a major Democrat – make the claim that private enterprise is an important part of America’s financial success. They all do what Boehner, Limbaugh and Mittens do – they take a sound bite, twist it around and claim this is what Obama or Nancy Pelosi or Elizabeth Warren or whoever really means. That Stalinistic tendency to twist words and meanings is the only thing conservative has. Its only debating tool. Its the right-wing WMD of politics. They cannot win an honest debate. Such lack of substance and values has been a hallmark of the elitist narcissistic authoritarian throughout history. Obama and Democrats have made the mildest changes – via financial reform – to make capitalism stronger, to work better. In the demented minds of modern conservatism that becomes a commie Kenyan attack on the American way of doing things.
At the direction of our almost Un-American president - American hostage in Somalia rescued by US Navy SEALs in overnight raid
Updated at 5:57 a.m. ET: In a statement sent to NBC News and other media, Obama says that he authorized the operation to rescue Buchanan.
“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our Special Operations Forces, yesterday Jessica Buchanan was rescued and she is on her way home,” he says. “As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts.”
Obama, who spoke to Buchanan’s father Tuesday night, says she was “selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well-being.”