Vineyard Autumn Leaves wallpaper, Tea Party Basics 101

Vineyard Autumn Leaves wallpaper

Matt Taibbi piece in RS on the tea bagger movement almost had me feeling sorry for them. But they are too malicious to have too deep sympathies for. There is that old wisdom that you reap what you sow. How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.

Related Get your dose of political muckraking from Matt Taibbi on the Taibblog.

“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”

“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”

“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”

I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

Like this blog’s readers I know people like Janice and David. This is where that small nugget of truth comes in that the tea baggers are just regular folks. They’re sometimes regular folks who do not have a clue. They see no hypocrisy at all in their not just collecting some kind of government aid but being against it for other people – them over there – they’re the ones who shouldn’t be getting government benefits – I being old and white deserve them. Taibbi is not mining any new finds here. Back at the height of the town hall health-care reform shout downs the tea nuts were holding up signs about the government keeping their hands off their Medicare and Medicaid. It is as though many of them think these programs, either they or their relatives depend on to survive, are like dust sprinkled by fairies in the night.

Joining them in the fight was another group, Americans for Prosperity, which was funded in part by the billionaire David Koch, whose Koch Industries is the second-largest privately held company in America. In addition to dealing in plastics, chemicals and petroleum, Koch has direct interests in commodities trading and financial services. He also has a major stake in pushing for deregulation, as his companies have been fined multiple times by the government, including a 1999 case in which Koch Industries was held to have stolen oil from federal lands, lying about oil purchases some 24,000 times.

So how does a group of billionaire businessmen and corporations get a bunch of broke Middle American white people to lobby for lower taxes for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street? That turns out to be easy. Beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing.

Here agin there is a grain of truth in some tea bagger claims they are against corrupt corporate America, but ultimately most of the tea baggers and tea party leadership are just water carriers for the same old corporate interests. Democrats carry their share of water for corporatism too, but at least they made some attempt to reign in the excesses. Tea baggers and Republicans in Congress were perfectly in sync in calling the financial reform that did pass another attack on the perfection that is unregulated capitalism. A capitalism that has never been completely free of regulation and does not work without. The median income tea baggers seem to be the willing tools of FreedomWorks, Metlife, the Koch brothers, Americans for Prosperity and other special interests. Special interests who in no way reciprocate by looking out for the common good of the  tea baggers.

Taibbi’s article reminded me of some of the classic articles done on the tea nut movement. These articles are not the last word on the subject, but a good place to start on understanding the tea nuts: Jacob Weisberg’s The Tea Party movement has two defining traits: status anxiety and anarchism.

Ron Rosenbaum’s The Tea Party’s Toxic Take on History

Ron Chernow’s The Founding Fathers Versus the Tea Party

This is not just about Palin. It includes a lot of the disinformation spread by the tea baggers, Fact check: Palin’s claims in Tea Party speech debunked

Taylor Marsh on Phyllis Schlafly, What the Republican Tea Party Really Thinks About Women

Jon Perr’s  10 Lessons for Tea Baggers. This list includes some of the most basic and easy to verify facts which the tea nuts just can’t seem to wrap their minds around.

The Real Impact of Food Stamp Cuts

Congress is poised to cut food stamps, taking away an extended benefit created by the 2009 stimulus before its original expiry date and setting up an unprecedented “cliff” in food stamps, now known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits. To demonstrate how hurtful this might prove, hunger advocate Joel Berg recently spent a week eating according to the SNAP budget.

“I had done it in 2007, as well,” he said. “This time, it was much harder, because the price of food has increased more than the benefit has increased. Last time, for instance, I ate an apple a day, along with other food. This time, I couldn’t afford a single piece of fruit.”

Berg is the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, which represents New York’s 1,200 nonprofit soup kitchens and food pantries and its 1.4 million residents that cannot afford enough food.

Almost as sure as the Law of Gravity a conservative will chime in on the comments section with an anecdotal story of seeing someone buying champagne, sirloin steak and a bag of candy with their food stamps. And dammit people need to learn to take care of themselves. Remember your spam e-mail after 9-11 ans all those fake charities that tried to scam people. An unfortunate aspect of human nature is anything that a human can exploit or abuse there are always a few people that will. That is not a good excuse for condemning programs that are successful like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance ( food stamps). I could write all day about just the corporate abuses I have seen which have cheated employees of better wages and investors of return on their dollar. Does that mean we should end capitalism? Of course not. Wall St just robbed the United States of $3 trillion dollars in wealth. By the reasoning of the penny pinching conservatives and their guilty by anecdote rule of law, we should shut down Wall St.

Disavowal Movement Resurgent

So, I’m hearing on the internets that liberals had better disavow Grayson’s Taliban ad or risk being seen as hypocrites when we complain about the other side doing it. All I can say is, “Oh dear, not that.” (And I have never been much for the bi-annual “disavowal ritual” in general. You can look it up.)

Ever since Jesse Helms ran this ad and Daddy Bush ran this one I’ve haven’t given the moral dimension of attack ads much thought at all. They are part of American politics and you can rail against them all you want, but they aren’t going anywhere. Fretting about such things is the province of very upright, highly moral liberals who believe that it is better to lose than to run ads which sink to the other side’s level. I guess I just don’t think ads are more important than keeping corporate sponsored theocrats from being in positions of power, so we will have to agree to disagree.

At this point in the United States it is permissible for Republicans to attack Democrats as treasonous, Godless/Muslim socialists and compare them to Hitler and Stalin but Democrats are only allowed to attack Republicans for their differences in policy.

I ditto what Digby said and would add this political attack ad by chicken-hawk scumbag Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on veteran Max Cleland. Chambliss compared Cleland to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. After a few million conservatives condemn the thousands of scurrilous attack ads that they have aired against Democrats, I’ll consider getting worked up over Grayson’s attack on Webster, an authoritarian theocrat who has never supported the basic tenets of the Constitution.

Sextant and Compass wallpaper, When do facts start to matter

Sextant and Compass wallpaper. Typo on the file name. Sorry about that.

I’m a little burned out on the who’s more energized, who is more enthusiastic or more motivated. Instead of the hardcore numbers of letting the upper tax bracket tax cuts expire, or how much the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ( health care reform) will draw down the deficit or how the stimulus ( however imperfect) helped the economy from hitting bottom, we seem to be having a national conversation that uses the language we normally use in describing a diet with more vegetables and lower in fat. Republicans cannot bring themselves to admit that beyond the shrill daily whining they got nothing. House Minority Leader John Boehner(R-OH) admits as much – Boehner: The ‘Pledge’ Is Just To ‘Lay Out The Size Of The Problem,’ Americans Aren’t Ready For Solutions

Indeed, Boehner was more than a little off message in saying “let’s not get to the potential solutions.” As his own Pledge states, surveying the proposals laid out in its pages, “We recognize that these solutions are ambitious.” It concludes by affirming that Republicans will fight to “promote and advance solutions.”

But numerous Republicans, including Boehner, have proposed plans to deal with Social Security and Medicare: cut benefits. All of their proposals — from raising the retirement age, to privatization, to declaring the entire social safety net unconstitutional — are deeply unpopular with the American people, hence Boehner’s apprehension to delve into the issue.

So let’s just follow our broken compass to – cross your fingers – some proximity to our destination. Once we’re there, hopefully we’ll be able to deal with the conditions on the ground. Are you ready America to once again follow these spend and borrow charlatans of the cliff. Since the daily argument is all about how we feel, than recent history and the facts don’t matter. George Lakoff has some observations on the framing of this great national debate that Republicans want to have later – when it will be too late, Why The Democrats’ Response to the Pledge Has Been Inadequate

The Democratic response to the Republican Pledge to America has been factual about its economics. The September 26, 2010 Sunday NY Times editorial goes through the economic details, and Democrats have been citing the economic facts from the Congressional Budget Office. As Dan Pfeiffer reports on the White House blog, the Republicans are proposing:

* Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires by borrowing $700 billion we can’t afford;
* Tax hikes for 110 million middle-class families and millions of small businesses;
* Cutting rules and oversight for special interests like big oil, big insurance, credit card and mortgage companies and Wall Street banks;
* Doing nothing to stop the outsourcing of American jobs or to end tax breaks that are given to companies that ship jobs overseas;
* All while adding trillions to our nation’s deficit.

Their plan is also notable for what it doesn’t talk about: protecting Social Security and Medicare from privatization schemes; investing in high-quality education for our nation’s children; growing key industries like clean energy and manufacturing; and rebuilding our crumbling roads, rails and runways.

This is the same agenda that caused the deepest recession since the Great Depression…

The Democrats who have checked out the facts have echoed President Obama’s judgment of the Pledge: It’s “worthless.”

I agree.  And if the voting public voted on the basis of the economic details, plus the Democrats’ system of values, the Republicans wouldn’t have a chance in hell in the November elections.

But the polls show otherwise. What do we conclude? The voting public does not vote on the basis of the economic details, and the voting public does not fully accept the Democrats’ system of values as they apply in this election.

I will make a bet. When the new polls come out next week, the Democrats’ response to the Republican pledge will not have turned around the Republican lead in the polls.

In short, the Democrats’ response to the Republican Pledge may well be irrelevant.  Why? And why does the President have such a hard time defending his accomplishments?

Pundits have been looking for a simple answer. But the answer is complex and depends on understanding how the minds and brains of voters work. Here are ten basic principles:

First, all politics is moral. People vote for values they identify with, for what they see as right, not wrong.

Second, the facts alone don’t set you free. Facts matter, but they must be understandable, that is, framed for normal human beings, and framed so as to be relevant to the moral views that define a voter’s identity.

Thinking back to the 2008 election cycle has anyone else wondered about the difference in the general level of details about what is wrong and what to do about it. What’s different now? During the election cycle there was the usual daily over dose of right-wing conservative disinformation, but we had some semblance of balance via campaign ads on TV and radio. Obama even had a quick response team that posted the newest lies on the net and sent out press releases to counter right-wing spin. Now that the elections are over where is the Democratic message. There is a snip of an Obama speech or press secretary briefing versus Fox, all of Murdoch’s newspapers and the Sunday political talk ( still weighed in Republicans favor. Democrats do not have an entire network devoted to the centrist to center-left message. There are progressives on radio, but they do not have the kind of market penetration the right-wing line-up has had for going on three decades. The Right gets people on their way to and from work and maybe they might channel surf across a few minutes of Rachel Maddow. Many Democrats are taking the glass is half empty view of Democratic accomplishments. Republicans completely screw over America and botch what they thought was going to be a fifty year era of Republican rule beginning with the Bush administration. Now they feel more empowered than ever while Democrats – with all that has been accomplished – feel uninspired; at least that is what the polls and the media says. I find it hard to believe Democrats are going to sit this one out and let Sharron Angle (Tea Nut-NV), CarlyFiorina (R-CA), Rick Scott (Tea Nut-Fl) or Jim Russell (Tea Nut-NY). Maybe. If Republicans win the House it would be entertaining to see Boehner answer the daily double jeopardy question – what have you done to balance the budget today or where are those super secret plans to turn the economy around …which Republicans also kept a closely guarded secret from 2000 to 2008. Only America hating goons would make their country suffer as they kept such miraculous answers to themselves for political gain..right? The GOP Pledge Against America: ‘Same Sh*t We Heard Before’

The real faces of Repulgican Hypocrites—“Tea Party Candidates Benefit From Stimulus, Federal Spending…most Republican candidates’ opposition to government spending isn’t very deep at all — particularly when they benefit directly. candidates — base their campaigns largely on opposition to President Obama’s agenda…they say, the stimulus wasted tax payer dollars, and simply bloated the federal government…Ron Johnson, who claims “government doesn’t create jobs,” and who’s hoping to unseat Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI), has perhaps the longest record of benefiting from government largesse.  In 1979 a company called Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies, owned by Johnson’s brother-in-law, received a $75,000 development grant from the city of Oshkosh to build a rail spur to a plant it was building. One of the conditions of the grant required WISS to hire 11 people in exchange for the funds. Just a few months later, WISS became Pacur — the company Johnson owns today — and the factory was opened. The factory itself was also built with the help of a $1 million government-issued development bond.” and on and on and on.   For Repuglicans its’s a do as I say, not as I do kind of world.

I’ don’t think most Democrats have a deep ideological axe to grind when it comes to privatizing government services as long as a cost/benefit analysis shows tax payers come out ahead, consumers are protected and programs like Social Security are not enslaved to the same market forces that brought us Wall St malfeasance .Republicans are pro privatization as a simple knee jerk ideology. Thus we had and still have all the wonderful benefits of KBR-Halliburton. The way supplies and services for the military used to work we had government procurement from suppliers. The military took things from there. Republicans decided rather than the government buying bottled water from a supplier we’d have KBR buy the water, who in turn sold it to the government (us) for a profit. Why did Republicans insert a money-grubbing pimp in the supply chain. Republicans LOVE big govmint as long as they get their cut. It’s the pimping of capitalism for no other reason than Republicans being able to feed at the public trough.

Horseshoe Bend wallpaper

United States Arizona landscape

Horseshoe Bend wallpaper

Who knows some day there might be large scale systematic discrimination against white upper middle-class and wealthy conservatives, but for right now it is a ridiculous notion. “A true member of the team”: Coates’ testimony used to revive phony DOJ scandal

Right-wing media are citing the testimony of Justice Department attorney Christopher Coates before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to revive the phony New Black Panther Party scandal. But Coates reportedly became “a true member of the team” in the highly politicized Bush DOJ.
Right-wing media hype Coates’ Civil Rights Commission testimony as a “bombshell”

Hans von Spakovsky: Coates testimony is a “bombshell.” In a September 22 Pajamas Media blog post, Bush DOJ official Hans von Spakovsky called Coates’ decision to testify before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights a “bombshell” that was “likely to be incredibly damaging to DOJ leadership and the Obama administration.” [Pajamas Media, 9/22/10]

Probably just a coincidence that Coates became a poor beleaguered victim of discrimination after an African-American woman was promoted over him. What PJ media, that bastion of stellar reporting The Mooney Times  and Fox always leave out of their reportage whining is the Obama DOJ has pursued some cases of civil rights violations by African-American perpetrators. Among the right-wing conservative circle jerkers, blowing this pimple sized reverse discrimination nonsense up to mountain sized proportions is supposed to serve as a distraction. To bury the history of how deeply corrupt the Department of Justice was under the Bush administration. The Bush DOJ was Stalinesque in its pursuit of conservative ideological purity. We should be having hearings, disbarments and probably some jail time for ex-Bush DOJ officials. Some years ago before I stared this blog I used to read the blog of a self described former Democrat who became a Republican because of the Republican respect for the rule of law. I thought then such an assertion was laughable and conservatives have done nothing in the mean time to correct that impression.

GOP Pledge Architect Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Can’t Name A Single Program He’d Cut From The Federal Budget. Strictly speaking McCarthy did name one thing he would cut which would reduce the deficit by less than 0.01 percent. Republicans really don’t take governing seriously.

Stephen Colbert’s two biggest sins have been offending the sensibilities of the press corps and the Beltway Villagers mentality –  Annoys Press Corps . . . Again

Let’s face it: Some in the Washington press corps still resent Stephen Colbert because he so brilliantly lampooned them to their faces at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner over their coziness with the Bush White House.

Yesterday, some elite journalists couldn’t contain their anger after Colbert testified before Congress on behalf of immigrant farm workers — mostly in character (with some funny and not-so-funny jokes) and partly in total seriousness:  “I like talking about people who don’t have any power and it seems like some of the least powerful people in the United States are the migrant workers who come and do our work and don’t have any rights as a result . And yet we still invite them to come here, and at the same time ask them to leave.”

Thanks to Colbert, a hearing on migrant workers that would have been ignored by mainstream journalists was jam-packed with mainstream journalists.

But hosting “Hardball” last night, NBC’s Chuck Todd was beside himself: “A lot of us frankly are offended.”  He suggested Congress members should have walked out of the hearing room as Colbert testified.

Ironically, Todd made the Colbert appearance his top story.

And that’s a good thing — because the plight of migrant farm workers is otherwise ignored on “Hardball.” I did a quick NEXIS search for variations of “immigrant farm workers” or “migrant farm labor” and found about three mentions in the last decade.

I wouldn’t call Todd a full tool, more like half a tool. Sadly, compared to much of the Washington press there are worse. Digby’s take nails the problem the press and too many average citizens have when it comes to satire and what is genuinely funny – The Beltway Quilting Bee And Ladies Pearl Clutching Society

@Chuck Todd has been wringing his hands for hours. Rough translation:

Lawdy, lawdy lawdy!! Bring me the smellin’ salts Miss Mellie, I almost like to daaaah! Ah have nevah been so appalled in mah laaaahf! Why, po Aunt Pittypat fainted dead awaaay!

Of course in a world where Glenn Beck is considered a serious political figure, I suppose you can’t blame them for not getting the joke. (emphasis mine)

Unfortunately we are forced to take Beck, Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle, Steve King (R-IA) and John the maverick McCain seriously. Look back at America’s history and the likes of the Whig Party, the John Birch Society, Joseph McCarthy, Jerry Falwell, Michael ‘there is no such thing as autism’ Savage, William Jennings Bryan and Warren Harding. The nuts don’t climb back into the tree just because they’re wacky. Colbert takes a right-wing sacred belief – illegal immigrant farm workers are the most pressing problem facing America and shreds it like the xenophobic trash it is. Of course the Right is offended. Colbert makes a more serious point and deflates more gas filled wingers in a few minutes of humor than the press does in an average year. Neither the Right or the press need worry. On Monday we’ll be back to taking the vacant minds of the Beck-Palin-Tea Nut brigades seriously and the real serious stuff will be dutifully relegated to standing in the corner facing the wall.

Has anyone told Robert Reich that we’re not doing statistics and facts now. It is all about the tears, the misspelled signs and the tax enough already who are not paying taxes. The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt

The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).

The rest of America got poorer, of course. The number in poverty rose to a post-war high. The median wage continues to deteriorate. And some 20 million Americans don’t have work.

Though Reich is mistaken to think the tax vote has to be right now before the short recess. It is not punting. The vote is about smart politics.

Black and White Los Angeles Harbor wallpaper, Republican Agenda Revealed – Let’s Go Back to Failed Policies of Bush

Black and White Los Angeles Harbor wallpaper

Conservatives have a grand old idea. Let’s return the country to the good old days of the Bush era: Let’s make sure even more people are uninsured. Let’s make sure Wall St continues to gamble recklessly with the capital made possible by the working class Americans. Let’s deregulate even more so more miners and oil rig workers can have their lives further endangered. Let’s reward wealth and thumb our noses at work. Let’s be the dog eat dog society we could be. Lets celebrate greed. Let’s celebrate ignorance over rationalism and science. Let’s make sure the income gap between elite business executives continues to widen at the expense of the middle-class. GOP’s Newly Unveiled ‘Pledge to America’ Is a Destructive Sham

Ezra Klein’s take was entirely in line with my own.

[Y]ou’re left with a set of hard promises that will increase the deficit by trillions of dollars, take health-care insurance away from tens of millions of people, create a level of policy uncertainty businesses have never previously known, and suck demand out of an economy that’s already got too little of it.

You’re also left with a difficult question: What, exactly, does the Republican Party believe? The document speaks constantly and eloquently of the dangers of debt — but offers a raft of proposals that would sharply increase it. It says, in one paragraph, that the Republican Party will commit itself to “greater liberty” and then, in the next, that it will protect “traditional marriage.” It says that “small business must have certainty that the rules won’t change every few months” and then promises to change all the rules that the Obama administration has passed in recent months. It is a document with a clear theory of what has gone wrong — debt, policy uncertainty, and too much government — and a solid promise to make most of it worse.

If Republicans set out to prove that they’re wholly unprepared and incapable of governing effectively, they’ve succeeded beautifully. That may have been obvious when there was an actual GOP majority and they failed on a spectacular, generational scale, but any hopes that the party has since learned valuable lessons quickly fade with the release of the “Pledge to America.”

Republicans will have a new idea one day. It will be a generation from now when they celebrate the achievements of the last generation of liberal achievements. That is just the way the cycle runs – from Medicare to veterans benefits to laws that protect consumers and investors. The tea nuts like Alaska’s Joe Miller are a little different. They’d like to repeal just about every bit of progress American society has made since the Emancipation proclamation of the 1860s. Miller does think it’s fine to accept farm subsidies. Pointing out the hypocrisies of Republicans like Miller is not just predictable, it is part of what they are, like their skin. GOP ‘Pledge To America’ Director Lobbied For AIG, Exxon, Pfizer, Chamber

Will House Republicans fulfill “pledge” and vote for the small business bill?

The House GOP has released this year’s gimmick, the “Pledge to America,” which has obtained a copy of. Included in the pledge is this:

We will end the attack on free enterprise by repealing job-killing policies and taking steps to assure current business and future entrepreneurs that the government will not stifle their ability to compete in the global marketplace.

Yet only three Republicans against tax breaks and other incentives for small business . The Bush years saw the most anemic job growth of any modern president. Bill Clinton created more jobs than the Bush 41 and Bush 43 administrations combined.

How will Carly Fiorina  vote if elected to the Senate from California? Easy. She’ll call the Koch brothers and they’ll tell her – Carly Fiorina Owned and Operated by the Looney Billionaire Koch Brothers

The Tea Party movement has two defining traits: status anxiety and anarchism

So who are these people and what do they want from us? A series of polls, as well as be-ins like Glenn Beck’s Washington rally last month, have given us a picture of a movement predominated by middle-class, middle-aged white men angry about the expansion of government and hostile to societal change. But that profile could accurately describe the past several right-wing insurgencies, from the California tax revolt of the late 1970s to the Contract with America of 1994—not to mention the very Republican establishment that the Tea Party positions itself against. What’s new and most distinctive about the Tea Party is its streak of anarchism—its antagonism toward any authority, its belligerent style of self-expression, and its lack of any coherent program or alternative to the policies it condemns.

…Other than nostalgia, the strongest emotion at Tea Parties is resentment, defined as placing blame for one’s woes on those either above or below you in the social hierarchy. This finds expression in hostility toward a variety of elites: the “liberal” media, “career” politicians, “so-called” experts, and sometimes even the hoariest of populist targets, Wall Street bankers. These groups stand accused of promoting the interests of the poor, minorities and immigrants—or in the case of the financiers, the very rich—against those of hard-working, middle-class taxpayers.

Yet reading the GOP’s new agenda it is clear conservatives support what is best for Wall St over what is best for investors and consumers in the long run. One of their top priorities is the repeal of the modest financial reform bill passed earlier this year. Alaska’s Miller and tea nut queen Michelle Bachmann both receive government subsidies. Weisberg is right about there being a degree of anarchism, but he left out the schizophrenia of the tea smokers. Big government is fine is long as they are receiving the benefits, but bad when the non-members of the kool-aid club are getting them.

Vintage San Francisco Skyline Wallpaper, The Weird World of Conservatism

American cities wallpaper

Vintage San Francisco Skyline Wallpaper. Something in a similar style of New York City here.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) chickens come home to roost -The senator voted against the auto-bailout, but attended a GM plant reopening ceremony. Leonard also gets into how Corker and other interests originally got the original GM-Saturn plant to be located in Tennessee.

Tennessee ended up victorious, in part through the efforts of none other than then-governor Lamar Alexander, who orchestrated a juicy package of tax breaks and infrastructural improvements. Tennessee also offered to pay for water quality and regional impact studies and $20 million worth of job training. (Meanwhile, GM and the UAW cut a deal that kept the plant unionized, but set wages and benefits at about 80 percent the level of normal rates.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Tennessee did exactly to Michigan and the rest of the Rust Belt what so many American lawmakers now claim China is doing to the United States. With the help of government incentives and guaranteed cheap(er) labor GM offshored production of the Saturn to Tennessee.

Which is all fine except that GM plant is yet another example of free enterprise at work? Not quite. It’s been the current state of corporate cronyism wedded to powerful friends in Washington and state governments. The only competition here was who could give the most away. Depending on how deeply one thinks business and government should be joined at the hip deals like this are ultimately good for the economy – a win for labor and business. Or they are an example of the blatant hypocrisy behind conservative claims they support a truly free market economy. We all know the drill, Democrat’s incentives are socialism, while Republican incentives smell like roses.  Hell froze over just a little as The Economist gives a back-handed admission they were wrong and Obama was right about GM

That does not mean, however, that bail-outs are always or often justified. Straightforward bankruptcy is usually the most efficient way to allow floundering firms to restructure or fail. The state should step in only when a firm’s collapse poses a systemic risk. Propping up the financial system in 2008 clearly qualified. Saving GM was a harder call, but, with the benefit of hindsight, the right one. The lesson for governments is that for a bail-out to work, it must be brutal and temporary. The lesson for American voters is that their president, for all his flaws, has no desire to own the commanding heights of industry. A gambler, yes. An interventionist, yes. A socialist, no.

It might take a few days or weeks but we’ll probably be hearing from the tea nuts about how the once great Economist has become a leftist rag.

WI GOP congressman supporting Ron Johnson surprised that Johnson supports Great Lakes oil drilling.

Ron Johnson, a wealthy business executive and leading Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin this year, is beginning to receive scrutiny for his far right views. He has been criticized recently for opposing an anti-sex offenders bill, the Child Victim Act, and for saying that he is “glad there’s global warming.” Last month, when asked if he would support drilling for oil in the Great Lakes, Johnson — who owns more than $100,000 in BP stock — replied, “I think we have to, get the oil where it is.”

It is not exactly news that tea bagger conservatives like Johnson would drill through the Lincoln Memorial if they could make a few million dollars. Ditto for being anti-science on global warming. But to be against the Child Victim Act. Johnson was worried that victims of sexual battery and abuse might sue,

Peter Isely, the Midwest director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the Catholic Church has been more likely to cover things up if it is not faced with court action.

“He’s just wrong,” said Isely, who was not aware that Johnson had testified.

Not surprisingly, a Feingold spokesman took a shot at his likely GOP opponent for his stance on the issue.

“People want a senator who is going to fight for victims of abuse, not lobby against them,” said John Kraus, a senior strategist for the incumbent Democrat. “If he won’t stand with children who are victims of abuse, who will he stand with?”

Johnson did come out with a statement condemning sex offenders. Though as victims know, words are not actions. Ironically the Child Victim Act was somewhat bipartisan with a few moderate Republican sponsors.

Speaking of Russ Feingold (D-WI) who is one of the best Senators to ever serve in the Senate – Feingold Slams Supreme Court over “Citizens United,” Implies Roberts and Alito Lied Under Oath

Sen. Russ Feingold recently slammed the Supreme Court and strongly implied that Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito lied, under oath, to the Senate during their confirmation hearings.

In a speech on Sept. 10, Feingold, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, denounced the “Citizens United” decision that the Court handed down earlier this year.

Feingold called it “a lawless decision.”

That decision allows corporations to give unlimited contributions in favor of, or in opposition to, a candidate so long as those contributions aren’t coordinated with a candidate’s campaign. It treats corporations the same way it treats individuals. (See http://www.progressive.org/mrapril10.html.)

But, said Feingold, “they are not the same as us. They do not have the same rights as all of us. And that decision is wrong on the law, and wrong for America, and an enormous danger for the political process.”

Without naming any names, Feingold said that George W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominees “came before the Judiciary Committee and promised me, under oath, that they would follow precedent, that they would be neutral umpires calling balls and strikes. Well, of course, they did the opposite.”

He was clearly referring to Chief Justice Roberts, who famously said at his confirmation hearing on September 12, 2005: “I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.”

And Feingold also appeared to be speaking about Justice Alito, who testified on January 10, 2006, that “courts should respect the judgments and the wisdom that are embodied in prior judicial decisions.” Alito added: “It’s important because it limits the power of the judiciary.

Said Feingold: “These people who pledged to follow precedent overturned a law signed by Teddy Roosevelt in 1907, proposed and backed by Fighting Bob La Follette. And it’s been the law of the land for 100 years that corporations cannot use their treasuries to directly impact elections.”

Unlike the Right who uses the Constitution to swat flies, Feingold seems to actually read and comprehend the explicit and implicit rights in the U.S. Constitution. Understandably the far Right would love to replace Feingold with the Johnson. Johnson, who looks out for the interests of child predators, because these criminals might suffer by the victims seeking justice.

The poor pitiful millionaires. Let us band together America and make sure they are rewarded simply for being wealthy. Millionaire Population Soars — Again

According to a new survey from Phoenix Marketing International’s Affluent Market Practice, the number of American households with investible assets of $1 million or more rose 8% in the 12 months ended in June. The survey says there now are 5.55 million U.S. households with investible assets of $1 million or more.

That follows two years of declines and brings the millionaire count back to 2006 levels. Of course, that is still below the peak of 5.97 million in 2007 and the current growth rate is well below pre-financial crisis levels, when the millionaire population increased as much as 35% a year.

Still, the numbers offer further evidence that the wealthy may have decoupled from the rest of the economy. The study’s authors say high salary growth, rather than investments, are the main drivers of the millionaire expansion.

The Republican and conservative Democrat argument against repealing the Bush tax cuts for the top income bracket is we need to cut them some lack so they’ll invest their money. They’re making money through huge profits which they constitute to reap by cutting the work force to the bone. Fearing a soaring deficit, many analysts favor letting Bush tax cuts expire

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that the economy would be stronger with the cuts, but only through 2012, when the extra borrowing they require “would reduce or ‘crowd out’ investment in productive capital.” Even former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, an early advocate of the cuts, now says Congress should let them expire.

“I am very much in favor of tax cuts, but not with borrowed money,” Greenspan said in an interview last month.

Even Obama’s plan is a steep compromise in keeping the middle-class cuts while allowing the cuts for the wealthy to expire. Deficits would still grow, but between the extra revenue and the interests we would not have to pay on the extra debt, would save trillions. That is a fact for those truly interested in doing some thing, even if imperfect about the deficit. Republican have literally no ideas how to balance the budget – Republicans Want To Cut Federal Spending But Have No Idea What Programs To Cut

Park in Autumn wallpaper

Park in Autumn wallpaper

Conservatives still don’t get irony. In this post from Andrew Breitbart’s Big GovMint – Dem Congresswoman’s Supporters Participate in ‘Palin-As-Hitler’ Rally – The far Right expresses some faux outrage that a few demonstrators painted hitler-taches on two of the Right’s holy apostles Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin,

We eagerly await Rep. Halvorson’s condemnation of the hate that was on display at this protest and we expect her to immediately purge from her staff any and all participants who readily accepted the depiction of Beck, Palin and Kinzinger as Adolph Hitler-Like Nazi’s.

We also ask the NAACP and Democratic leadership to condemn these “Astro-turf” protestors as hate-mongers and bigots for likening Ms. Palin to Hitler. ( emphasis mine)

You can only get that kind of reality denying hypocrisy from a wing-nut certified pharmacist – If you thought Christine O’Donnell was bad…

Meet the GOP’s extreme nominee for Delaware’s open seat in the House, Glen Urquhart.  Since Mike Castle vacated the seat in order to (unsuccessfully) run for Senate, the Republicans nominated Urquhart in a tight primary election. A wealthy real estate investor who self-financed his campaign, Urquhart campaigned as a social conservative with the backing of the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America and the National Conservative Fund, along with Tea Party groups such as the 9/12 Delaware Patriots. Here is Urquhart’s opinion regarding the separation of Church and State, where he misattributes Thomas Jefferson’s quote that the US Constitution creates a “wall of separation between Church & State” to… Adolph Hitler:

Do you know, where does this phrase separation of Church and State come from? Does anybody know? … Actually, that’s exactly, it was not in Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists. He was reassuring that the federal government wouldn’t trample on their religion. The exact phrase ‘separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from.  Next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they’re Nazis. (all emphasis mine)

Another tea smoking conservative completely ignorant of U.S. history. Typically the Right hasn not had much use for Thomas Jefferson other than a few quotes taken out of context. Jefferson did write,

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” – letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802.

John Leland (1754-1841) was a Baptist preacher, friend of James Madison and supporter of Thomas Jefferson. He wrote, “Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny–the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. It converts religion into a principle of state policy, and the gospel into merchandise. Heaven forbids the bans of marriage between church and state; their embraces therefore, must be unlawful. Guard against those men who make a great noise about religion, in choosing representatives. It is electioneering. If they knew the nature and worth of religion, they would not debauch it to such shameful purposes. If pure religion is the criterion to denominate candidates, those who make a noise about it must be rejected; for their wrangle about it, proves that they are void of it.”

On the other hand Hitler, like Glen Urquhart, did not see there should be separation of church and state,

Just as the Jew could once incite the mob of Jerusalem against Christ, so today he must succeed in inciting folk who have been duped into madness to attack those who, God’s truth! seek to deal with this people in utter honesty and sincerity.

-Adolf Hitler, in Munich, 28 July 1922

In the life of nations, what in the last resort decides questions is a kind of Judgment Court of God…. Always before god and the world the stronger has the right to carry through what he wills.

-Adolf Hitler, speech in Munich, 13 April 1923

People ask: is there someone fit to be our leader? Our task is not to search for that person. Either God will give him to us or he will not come. Our task is to shape the sword that he will need when he comes. Our task it to provide the leader with a nation which is ready for him when he comes! My fellow Germans, awaken! The new day is dawning!

-Adolf Hitler, 04 May 1923

We are a people of different faiths, but we are one. Which faith conquers the other is not the question; rather, the question is whether Christianity stands or falls…. We tolerate no one in our ranks who attacks the ideas of Christianity… in fact our movement is Christian. We are filled with a desire for Catholics and Protestants to discover one another in the deep distress of our own people.

-Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Passau, 27 October 1928

Take the first quote and where it says Jews  and substitute Liberals, Democrats, moderate Republicans, Muslims, Hispanics, gays, etc. and you have an eerie similarity to the spirit of nativism and eliminationism preached by the likes of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, the tea baggers and, well, most of the conservative movement. Republicans see boogymen everywhere, or more accurately, have a long history of projecting their totalitarian tendencies on a carousel of boogymen.

Jon Stewart Pushes False Equivalence of Left and Right

“Unfortunately, the conversation and the process is controlled by the other 15 to 20 percent. You may know them as the people who believe that Obama is a secret Muslim who planning a socialist takeover of America so he can force his radical, black liberation Christianity down our throats. Or, that George Bush let 9/11 happen to help pad Dick Cheney’s Halliburton stock portfolio.”

But these two groups are simply not comparable in either media coverage or political influence. Code Pink anti-war activists are small in number and impact. While so-called 9/11 Truthers exist at the fringe of both parties, no figure in Congress Democrat or Republican champions their tin foil conspiracy theories. And despite the disinterest from the Obama administration, those asserting that George W. Bush is a war criminal have the Geneva Convention and U.S. law on their side.

In contrast, right-wing extremists and their myths now dominate the Republican Party and its media echo chamber. Polls consistently reveal that half of Republican don’t believe or aren’t sure that Barack Obama was born in the United States. And that fraud is not only perpetuated by the GOP members of Congress, but aided and abetted by presidential contenders like Newt Gingrich. It’s no wonder that almost one in five Americans now believe the Christian Obama is a Muslim, up from 12% in March 2008. As for the charges that President Obama is a socialist, a communist, a fascist and un-American, they come not just from the likes of Glenn Beck, but from Republican stars, including new GOP darling Christine O’Donnell.

I’ve seen a liberal try to do this before. Condemn the extremes on both sides and inevitably fall into the false equivalence trap – see the conservative above. At least as far back as early 2008 we had Barrack Obama as the friend of terrorists socialist Hitler anti-Christ. Now that blogger has a couple of Democrats being over zealous. Major right-wing pundits from Malkin to Coulter to Limbaugh have written books equating just being liberal with treason. This has gone on for years. In the rhetorical wars liberals have been given license by the unhinged Right to reply in any terms they deem appropriate. Sure it would be great as we could all be civil, but that’s not going to happen because demagoguing their opponents is in the Right’s political genes. Besides they know they cannot win a civil debate, they have to appeal to base emotions to get political traction.

Black and White Surf and Pier wallpaper

Black and White Surf and Pier wallpaper

Over the last couple years I’ve kind of field tested black and white photos. Asking people which version they liked best – neutral, warm(adding reds with a warming filter) and cool ( adding blue filter). Most people chose the cool black and white, so I usually put up the cool toned B&Ws. Most photo editors have built in warming and cooling filters ( Gimp is free) so those that have other preferences can experiment to see what you like best on your desktop.

Glenn Greenwald’s post on Christine O’Donnell and The misguided reaction to Tea Party candidates has some of Glenn’s sharp trademark observations, but also seems a little sloppy in places.

The “tea party” movement is, in my view, a mirror image of the Republican Party generally.  There are some diverse, heterodox factions which compose a small, inconsequential minority of it (various libertarian, independent, and Reagan Democrat types), but it is dominated — in terms of leadership, ideology, and the vast majority of adherents — by the same set of beliefs which have long shaped the American Right:  Reagan-era domestic policies, blinding American exceptionalism and nativism, fetishizing American wars, total disregard for civil liberties, social and religious conservatism, hatred of the minority-Enemy du Jour (currently: Muslims), allegiance to self-interested demagogic leaders, hidden exploitation by corporatist masters, and divisive cultural tribalism.  Other than the fact that (1) it is driven (at least in part) by genuine citizen passion and engagement, and (2) represents a justifiable rebellion against the Washington and GOP establishments, I see little good in it and much potential for bad.  To me, it’s little more than the same extremely discredited faction which drove the country into the ground for the last decade, merely re-branded under a new name. ( emphasis mine)

All that said, there are some reactions to the Tea Party movement coming from many different directions — illustrated by the patronizing mockery of Christine O’Donnell — which I find quite misguided, revealingly condescending, and somewhat obnoxious.

It cannot be said enough that the tea baggers are the same old right-wingers with some new improved rage and conspiracy theories thrown in. These are the same people who voted for Bush twice and in the course of five elections from 2000 to 2008 voted for the Republican agenda. An agenda largely responsible for an all too well known range of problems. Every issue and its related problems tea baggers babble on about, they were enablers. From deficits to the growth of government power. Now with their faces covered in jam they swear it wasn’t them with their faces buried in the jar. We even had hints this wave of denial was coming via the Christine O’Donnell of right-wing speech writers, Peggy Noonan back in 2006 – Hey, Big Spender

In any case, what bipartisan spirit there was post-9/11 has broken down, Mr. Bush will never have to run again, and he is in a position to come forward and make the case, even if only rhetorically, to slow and cut spending. He has not. And there’s no sign he will.

Which leaves me where I was nine months ago, in the meeting with conservatives, rubbing my brow in confusion.

The president likes to speak of his philosophy when it comes to foreign affairs. But what about domestic affairs? I think he has a real responsibility to speak here about his thinking, about what he’s doing and why.

Mr. President:

Did you ever hold conservative notions and assumptions on the issue of spending? If so, did you abandon them after the trauma of 9/11? For what reasons, exactly? Did you intend to revert to conservative thinking on spending at some point? Do you still?

Were you always a liberal on spending? Were you, or are you, frankly baffled that conservatives assumed you were a conservative on spending? Did you feel they misunderstood you? Did you allow or encourage them to misunderstand you?

What are the implications for our country if spending levels continue to grow at their current pace?

What are the implications for the Republican party if it continues to cede one of the pillars on which it stood?

Noonan, like the tea nuts, has taken two positions on the years 2000 – 2008. Bush was a secret liberal on domestic policy. Wouldn’t a liberal, a real liberal, not the current centrist we have in the White House, have enforced financial regulation rather than pretend it didn’t exist. Conservatives can complain all they like about common sense safety net programs such as Unemployment Insurance and Medicare, but at least Democrats try to pay as we go. Bush and Republicans – the team the tea nuts voted for – put it all on the national credit card. The second position tea baggers take – closely related to the first – is the conservatives of the past ten years were not real conservatives. What we will not find is an admission that conservatism – in whatever new flavor enhanced iteration it appears – is a fundamentally flawed. Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 41 and 43 all screwed up the economy. The tea baggers would have America believe they are smart, but keep getting suckered by conservatives who are really closet liberals.

Piling on Christine O’Donnell? As Glenn points  – the elitist arguments against her have come from the traditional elitist such as Karl Rove and The Weekly Standard. It was the TWS who wrote,

O’Donnell alleged in a July 1, 2005 complaint filed in district court that she had been demoted because ISI’s conservative philosophy dictated that women must be subordinate to men. She claimed she was fired when she contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regarding her demotion. ISI told the Delaware News Journal that she had been “terminated for operating a for-profit business.”

O’Donnell’s finances, honesty, and stability have been called into question in light of her false and strange claims.

The rest of us are allowed to look at her public statements, public policy prescriptions and the general implications of her world view and based on that evidence, decide she is a paid up member of the Krazy Konservative club. I suspect her handlers believe the same thing – as her web site has suddenly been scrubbed of her bizarre beliefs. Nevada’s Sharron Angle did the same thing once she won the Republican primary in Nevada. A mini-trend where the tea nuts run to the far far right to win the primary and suddenly try to appear somewhat moderate afterward. No More Mister Nice Blog answers Glenn’s question about how O’Donnell and the tea baggers are different, GLENN GREENWALD’S MISPLACED CLASS ANGER

But, O’Donnell is not an ordinary American. In fact, pedigree aside, O’Donnell has a hell of a lot more in common with George W. Bush than with most ordinary Americans — in fact, I’d say she’s spent most of her adult life trying to be a sort of George W. Bush.

What I mean is that O’Donnell at 41 is very much like Bush at 40 — he avoided politics, she’s steeped herself in politics, but what they have in common is the desire to bypass any dues-paying (and, for the most part, any actual jobs) and get straight to the top on very little effort and quite a bit of self-esteem.

Bush started fifth-rate energy companies. O’Donnell started a fifth-rate Christian-right group, the Savior’s Alliance for Lifting the Truth. Bush relied on Daddy’s rich friends. O’Donnell relied on wingnut welfare, receiving a Claremont Institute fellowship and then taking a job with the Scaife-, Bradley-, and Olin-funded Intercollegiate Studies Institute; she’s also worked for the Republican National Committee and Concerned Women for America.

Glenn is right in the technical sense that O’Donnell’s bank account places her outside the village elite, but the life she tried to lead put her squarely in the cult of the kind of eastern prep school elite into which Bush was born. O’Donnell aspires to be yet another player. She might be the next Palin, parlaying her new found fame into being the next poli-celeb. Financially it might even be in her best interest to lose in November. She can make far more money on her new right-wing cultural status than as a senator. There has always been two major components of the conservative movement. The business corporatists – of which Bush 41 and 43 were members. And the cultural cons. Given a choice – with so many hours in a day and so many years as president Bush set priorities and those were clearly oriented toward the crony capitalism crowd. That is part of what makes O’Donnell, Palin, Mark Rubio(R-Fl) and Miller ( Alaska senatorial candidate different) – their emphasis is on cultural warfare. That doesn’t make them different from the larger brigade of the same ol wing-nuts Glenn references in his opening salvo. It  makes a difference in the current shifts of power within the conservative movement toward the culture warriors/nativists/anti-civil liberties contingent  for the first time since the glory days of Jerry Falwell and Ralph Reed’s “moral majority”, Answering Glenn

Now you can argue that this kind of extremism was always part of the picture, but the Rove method was to use these convictions, not actually share them. Bush increased spending radically, added a huge unpaid entitlement to the next generation, pandered to Hispanics, favored immigration reform, did nothing to prevent legal abortion, felt awkward demonizing gays, pretended he wasn’t torturing prisoners, did not kill enough Iraqis, and made a major point about not having a fight with Islam as such. The base wants to get rid of any of these nuances and get the real thing.

It isn’t class snobbery. It’s the difference between those who use far right convictions and those who actually hold them. That’s why Palin’s chief campaign tool was a Down Syndrome child. It proved that she was serious about banning all abortion because, unlike Rove, she really believes it’s murder. It’s authenticity. And once unleashed, it’s very hard to stop.

I’m not so sure about Sullivan’s last statement. Whether they are the old guard right John Birch Society, Rev. Charles E. Coughlin, Henry Ford (who wrote the eliminationist anti-Semitic book, The International Jew) or the modern conservative Posse Comitatus the far right has peaks and valleys. They did fairly well around the time of the Great Depression, they had a resurgence with the Red Menace in the 50s. It is not a coincidence that once again faced with a national economic crisis similar radical elements should be exploiting the public’s general anxieties to political advantage. The issue is not about stopping the rabid Right, but pushing a philosophy that is antithetical to democracy back to the fringes where it belongs.