Military Jets Air Show wallpaper – It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach

Military Jets Air Show wallpaper

Tea partiers warn GOP on dealmaking

Though Meckler focused primarily on Senate Democrats, he had a warning shot for House Republican leaders, as well. “Their responsibility is to lead. They’ve been granted a temporary shot at showing they can lead [the] country back to fiscal solvency, and we expect them to behave in a way that people want.”

The tea party rally will be one of a handful of tense occurrences for Republicans over the next 24 hours.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich — the last speaker to shut down the government — will address Republicans Thursday in a closed-door meeting with the GOP’s 87-member freshman class and a health care caucus. And on Friday, House Republicans will force a floor debate on a largely symbolic bill that would compel the Senate to swallow every last dime of House Republicans’ $61 billion in spending cuts.

To some extent, Republicans have themselves to blame for the spending cut hype: In the run-up to the 2010 elections, they promised $100 billion in spending reductions — a symbolic number that many in leadership have begun to regret.

The tea smokers must have their cuts or a government shut-down. It does not seem to matter where the cuts come from – excepting the military – as long as they reach their $100 billion goal. A compromise is off the table. We cannot have an honest debate if the Right really believes that they are in front of the push to ” lead [the] country back to fiscal solvency>” If that were true they would have been protesting for repeal of the what was the Bush tax cuts. The combination of the Bush cuts and the spending spree of Republicans from 2000 to 2008 was like a family that maxed out a wallet full of credit cards. Now the country has to pay off that debt, plus the interests, plus the cost of a crashed economy. Who do tea smokers and so-called moderate Republicans think should pay for the fiscal lunacy of Re[publicans? The working poor and middle-class. Not Wall St and millionaires. If that scenario was not enough tragic comedy,

To drive home their impatience, Republican freshmen delivered a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday promising to “rally on the Senate steps every day until you pass a long-term continuing resolution.” They’ll appear on the Senate steps again Thursday.

For those that do not speak right-wing lala-land, that means House tea bags want desperately for Senator Reid to create a budget so they do not have to take responsibility for any major budget proposal. And it should go without saying the budget is not all about money. Like Republican governors such as Wisconsin’s Walker and Michigan’s Snyder, there are unions to bust and women to beat down, Republicans and Democrats begin negotiating possible budget agreement

Some conservative House Republicans — led by freshmen who came to Washington on a promise to shrink the government — have said they would vote against any proposal that falls short of the $61 billion in reductions the House approved on a party-line vote last month. Senate Democrats immediately rejected that measure.

Spending cuts are not the only issue up for negotiation. As part of their initial budget package, Republicans included unrelated amendments — called “riders” — that would impose restrictions on federal agencies. Democrats have objected to many of them, including one that would prohibit federal funding to Planned Parenthood and another that would weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s power to regulate carbon emissions.

Some Republicans have suggested that in exchange for giving up some of the spending cuts they want, they will pressure Democrats to accept at least some of these provisions.

On Wednesday, the vice president indicated that such an agreement was at least a possibility, although he did not give details or say which riders Democrats might be willing to accept.

The progress in the talks came on the eve of a planned rally Thursday by tea party activists on the Capitol lawn, where leaders of the conservative movement are expected to call for no compromise with President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Way back when Joe Lieberman was a marginally mature adult in the 19900s he asked Republicans how they could claim to be pro-family while being anti-environment. The issue and the hypocrisy remains as true today. Clean water, well managed national parks, carbon emissions, conservation of natural resources – those are all related to the health and well being of children and families. The connection does not even require a diploma from Harvard. The Right’s crusade against Planned Parenthood is another blatant hypocrisy. is their goal to reduce the total number of abortions. Their opposition to PP’s services is a clear admission their agenda is not about reducing abortions, which PP’s birth control counseling does, but about controlling women. And not just controlling their reproductive freedom, but women’s access to health care services. Have you noticed Live Action and Breitbart never go after Viagra providers. Planned Parenthood challenged on purported mammogram claim

In a news release, the Los Angeles-based group Live Action claimed that “opponents of defunding Planned Parenthood have argued in Congress and elsewhere that the organization provides many vital health care services other than abortion, such as mammograms. Most prominently, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards recently appeared on The Joy Behar Show to oppose the Pence Amendment to end Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer subsidies, claiming, ‘If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are gonna lose their healthcare access — not to abortion services — to basic family planning, you know, mammograms.’”

The group said it secretly recorded telephone conversations between a Live Action actor posing as a woman seeking mammograms and Planned Parenthood employees at 30 clinics in 27 states in which the supposed patient was told the breast exams were not available.

So Lila calls up these clinics and they confirm what Richards said – they provide access. They do not, or at least the majority of PP clinics, do not provide mammograms, but provide perform breast exams and provide access to mammograms if their diagnosis would indicate a call for one.

“Planned Parenthood is first and foremost an abortion business, but Planned Parenthood and its allies will say almost anything to try and cover up that fact and preserve its taxpayer funding,” Rose said.

Abortion is legal and PP does not use federal funds to provide them so Lila’s attempt to triangulate here is specious. In the comments on this video of Richards interview with Joy Behar, many of the commenters insist that their tax dollars are supporting abortions at PP clinics. That is not the case no matter how many right-wing anti-women’s rights web sites say otherwise. Produce one shred of evidence to the contrary. One accounting sheet. One list of procedures that was paid for by the Right’s precious tax dollars. One commenter did allow for this fact, yet insisted that since PP receives some federal funds for other basic health care services that frees up money for them to spend on abortions. More triangulating. That is like saying grocers put pretzels on sale to free up more money for teens to spend on beer. Or the government builds roads so women can drive to abortion clinics. Right-Wing Republican Media Promote Latest Lila Rose Hoax Falsely Smearing Planned Parenthood President

“If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are gonna lose their health care access-not to abortion services-to basic family planning, you
know, mammograms.”

Yet this is blatantly false. [Big Government, 3/30/11]

HOAX EXPOSED: Rose’s Video Does Not Establish That Planned Parenthood Ever Discussed Mammograms Provided By The Organization

Richards Discussed “Access” To Mammograms Through Planned Parenthood – Not Mammograms Actually Provided By The Organization. In the video at the center of Rose’s hoax, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards discusses access to health care – including mammograms – not actual health care services provided by Planned Parenthood. Discussing GOP efforts to defund Planned Parenthood during an appearance on The Joy Behar Show, Richards said:

If this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their health care access, not to abortion services, to basic family planning. You know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer. [CNN, The Joy Behar Show, 2/21/11, via Nexis]

Apparently if you provide access to something it is exactly the same as providing that service. My dentist claims he provides access to root canals, but  refers me to an oral surgeon across the street who does them. Should he stop saying what he has said to thousands of patients for 30 years that he provides access. The Right is writing its own Websters dictionary, where words mean what they say they mean, not what everyone else generally understands them to mean. Part of their never-ending attempt to define their own reality. PP has does provide mammograms in some locations, just not very many,

FACT: Planned Parenthood Provides Access To Mammograms By Referring Patients To Locations That Perform The Service

Planned Parenthood Website: “A Staff Member At Your Local Planned Parenthood Health Center Can Discuss Breast Cancer, Breast Exams, And Breast Health With You And Help You Find The Services You Need.” From PlannedParenthood.org’s page on breast cancer screenings:

Breast cancer is a serious health concern. After skin cancer, it is the most common type of cancer in American women. It is a leading cause of death from cancer, too. About 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year in the U.S. and 40,000 women will die from it.

[…]

If you have questions or concerns about breast cancer, we are here to help. A staff member at your local Planned Parenthood health center can discuss breast cancer, breast exams, and breast health with you and help you find the services you need. [PlannedParenthood.org, accessed 3/30/11]

[   ]…FACT: Some Planned Parenthood Clinics DO Provide Mammogram Screenings

Waco, TX Planned Parenthood “Provides Life-Saving Mammogram Screening And … Diagnostic Testing.” From Planned Parenthood’s Website:

Through a grant from the local Central Texas Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Planned Parenthood in Waco provides life-saving mammogram screening and abnormal mammogram follow-up diagnostic testing for low-income women.

Conservative brain trust Erick Erickson once claimed he was cleaning his gun, getting it ready to use because of some legislation against toxins in dish washer detergent. So obviously this is the kind of thoughtful thinker one turns to, to parse out the meaning of the word access,

Red State Accuses Planned Parenthood Of “Not Only A Lie, But A Damn Lie.” From a post by Erick Erickson on his blog Red State:

We’ve heard all the stories before. Planned Parenthood provides breast cancer screening services for poor women. By cutting off funds for Planned Parenthood, we increase the chance poor women will get breast cancer.

New undercover work shows that this is not only a lie, but a damn lie.

[…]

Live Action called around to Planned Parenthood offices all across the country asking if women could come in to get mammograms. All of the clinics they called, every single one, said they do not do mammograms. Not only that, they also didn’t offer to cover the cost of the mammograms. In fact, as you can see on the video, Planned Parenthood would frequently offer to refer the caller to a different entity altogether that may or may not provide mammograms.

This was a widespread occurrence across the country.

In other words, Congress is funding Planned Parenthood purportedly to provide mammograms and Planned Parenthood isn’t even doing that? [RedState.com, 3/30/11]

A “damned” liar whining about lies. The only lie being told is Erickson’s fairy tale. One echoed by the right-wing noise machine. Cancer screening and prevention services were 17 percent of PP’s services in 2008. Letting these people get cancer is a lot more expensive to society than prevention. The Right is just darn sure their tax dollars ( if all these Righties are paying federal income tax that means they have a job and are making a decent living – Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax, or it means they all have lousy accountants)are paying for medical procedures that PP has not promised or uses other funds for. A controversy invented out of myths bundled up with a zealotry impenetrable to facts. Their tax money apparently goes on table. The IRS takes the Right’s money and uses it to provide cancer screenings ( nonexistent ones according to guns and detergent guy). The IRS than takes Democrat’s money and pays for Michelle Bachmann’s(R) farm subsidies, Halliburton’s no bid contracts, timber subsidies to the Koch brothers, discount medical plans for Republican tea baggers and bails out banks that Republicans let run like off-shore casinos.

Bill Ayers make a sarcastic joke about writing President Obama’s book “Dreams of My Father” ( which was actually written by Herman Melville – see my expert analysis here). Right-wing blogs trumpet the joke as a confession. Fox News repeats the driveling of those same conservative bloggers as “news”.

GOPers Demand Sean Duffy Salary Tape Be Pulled From The Internet (VIDEO)

First the Republican Party in Polk County, Wisconsin, pulled the tape of Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) fretting about making ends meet on his $174,000 a year salary from its own website. Now they want it gone from the whole Internet.

For a couple hours, the local county GOP was successful. But we’ve put an excerpt of the video back up.

A day after TPM posted the video we obtained of Duffy talking about his salary at a Polk County town hall meeting earlier this year, the Polk County GOP contacted the video provider we used to host the video, Blip.tv, and demanded the video be taken down.

The tape caused a stir for Duffy, a first-term conservative best known for his past as a reality TV show star on MTV’s The Real World. Democrats flagged the comments about his taxpayer-funded salary (which is nearly three times the median income in Wisconsin) and criticisms began to flow Duffy’s way.

In the clip, Duffy is asked whether he’d support cutting his own salary. Duffy says he would, but only as part of a plan where all public employees’ salaries would be cut. He then said that the $174,000 in salary (not including benefits) he receives is a squeeze for his family of seven to live on:

I can guarantee you, or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I’m living high on the hog, I’ve got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I’m not living high on the hog.

Duffy brags about the great benefits he had as a public employee in Wisconsin. Bemoans his Congressional salary, but claims he did not vote for such high salaries so he is not to blame. Duffy likely knew what he was going to make as a Congressman so the complaints are a little shallow. It was Duffy’s decision to have six kids and run for office. If he cannot figure out a way to provide for them on $174k per year, whose fault is that. He has student loans left to pay at this point – he’s about 39 years old. His inability to make the most rudimentary connections to the plight of the people of his state and district( who on average earn one-third what he makes) says he did not get his educational money’s worth in terms of common sense. Lots of Americans who make a good wage – engineers, dentists, upper middle-management etc. at least have enough humility to admit they have it pretty good. Duffy, like so many conservatives, just cannot muster up that same humility. Plus, Duffy obviously feels a very good wage like his is not enough. Seven people in his household comes out to about $24k per person per year. A self-supporting adult who makes minimum wage – $7.25 per hour– has to provide for themselves on just over $15k per year. Sean might want to take a money management class if he and his family cannot find a way to make do on that kind of money.

“It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach.”  ~Franklin Delano Roosevelt

But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.

A recent bombast by self described ABC- American Black Conservative, Herman Cain, Herman Cain: ‘I Won’t Stay On The Democrat Plantation’

“I’m an American Black Conservative – an ABC — and I’m proud of it,” Cain said. “And because I’ve been affiliated with the conservative movement, and had the audacity to go on talk radio and do a talk show, and promote conservative principles, I’ve been called a racist too. Go figure”

Cain then went on to say he thought liberals were upset with him “because I won’t stay on the Democrat plantation like I’m supposed to.”

Cain is adept at doing the very same tap dance on the issues as white conservatives – simultaneously portraying himself as an example of a self made success worthy of adoration and a poor victim. Also obvious is his ability to make oxymoronic statements about his economic and social stars. Cain is a multi-millionaire. If that is the “plantation” it is one that many Americans, especially during a recession which in which employment and under water mortgagees remain high many Americans would be happy to live on. Cain is yet another right-wing millionaire playing the poor pitiful me card. Cain’s analogy reminded me of Glenn Greenwald’s recent look at the the right-wing sugar daddies, the Koch brothers, Billionaire self-pity and the Koch brothers

The Weekly Standard now has a very lengthy defense of — including rare interviews with — Charles and David Koch, the libertarian billionaires who fund everything from right-wing economic policy, union-busting, and anti-climate-change advocacy to civil liberties and liberalized social policies — though far more the former goals than the latter.  In this article one finds the purest and most instructive expression of billionaire self-pity that I think I’ve ever seen — one that is as self-absorbed and detached from reality as it destructive.  It’s really worth examining their revealed mindset to see how those who wield the greatest financial power (and thus the greatest political power) think of themselves and those who are outside of their class.

I wish it were as easy as writing off Cain as an idiot. He has had a successful business career and was once a mathematician for the Navy. I suspect, like many conservatives he has a touch of rain-man syndrome, bright about some things, but unable to connect the dots on many issues and utterly incapable to see the paradoxes contained in the claims he makes. Cain peddles much of the same buffet of right-wing myths ranging from Obama has socialist tendencies ( as Glenn, HuffPo, The Nation and Princess Wing-nut Michelle Malkin, will be happy to tell anyone who will listen the Obama administration is rife with hardcore capitalists and corporatists from JP Morgan, Goldman-Sachs, IMF, Salomon Brothers, General Electric and various other big business interests.) For a former mathematicians, Cain’s inability to add up the facts is something of a testimony to the power of conservative zealotry over reason.

This is the socialist paradise Obama and liberals have created, After Paying Zero Income Taxes, GE Plans To Ask Its Union Workers To Make Wage And Benefits Concessions

Cain is also up on his hyperbole, claiming Obama and liberals are destroying the country. I would be glad to admit that since the mid-term election Obama and Democrats look like crazy paramedics trying to reattach a leg with band-ads, but they had been trying to repair the damage dome by Cain’s ideological brethren form the Bush years. Cain and conservatives are never going to own up to their leading role in our economic collapse, that is a given. It is also a given that as always the Right’s continued aversion to act like responsible and accountable adults is embraced by African-American conservatives just as much as their white counterparts. So what makes Cain so different? Not much. A 60-something year old man who shallows and dutifully regurgitates every lie, half truth, moronic and dangerous recipe for America’s economy the same old white Right has been pushing for fifty years. Fifty years that have seen growing economic disparity between the top 2% and middle-income America. Tea smokers such as Cain are actively rotting for Obama’s policies to fail, at least in polls of their attitudes,

To capture the difference between the two camps, we asked whether or not people thought the following proposition true: “Barack Obama is destroying the country.” If Tea Party conservatives were as extreme as some suggest, we thought asking a question of this type, i.e., fairly extreme, would tease out differences between the two camps. The data suggest the two conservative factions are divided on this question. Under these circumstances, 6% of non-Tea Party conservatives believe the president is destroying the country versus the 71% of Tea Party conservatives who believe this to be true. (click here for full results.)

It stands to reason that these differences should also affect the way these two groups view President Obama’s policies. They do. Consider, for instance, the question of whether or not people wish to see the president’s policies succeed. More than twice as many Tea Party conservatives desire to see the president’s policies fail (76%) than non-Tea Party conservatives (32%). (As a corollary, 53% of non-Tea Party conservatives wish to see the president’s policies succeed versus 18% of Tea Party conservatives.) Why might this be the case? Why do so many Tea Party conservatives wish to see the president’s policies fail, relative to non-Tea Party conservatives? Perhaps it’s because three quarters (75 %) of Tea Party conservatives believe that President Obama’s policies are socialist compared to 40% of non-Tea Party conservative, a disparity of 35 % points. (click here for full results.)

With such a wide disparity in the sentiments held toward the president’s stewardship of the country and his policies, we sought to identify other possible sources of difference. To do so, we took advantage of a battery of questions in which we probed respondents for their knowledge of the president, including whether or not he was born in the United States, has a birth certificate, is a practicing Muslim, and a practicing Christian. Again, differences between non-Tea Party and Tea Party conservatives emerge. When asked about President Obama’s religious orientation, 27% of Tea Party conservatives believe that Obama is a practicing Muslim compared to 16% of non- Tea Party conservatives, both relatively low; nevertheless, an 11-point difference.  More conservative type believe the president a practicing Christian, 27% of Tea Party conservatives versus 46% of non-Tea Party conservatives, but the gap here is even larger: 19%.  When it comes to President Obama’s national origin, 40% of Tea Party conservatives believe that Obama was born in the U.S. compared to 55% of non-Tea Party conservatives.

Since House Republicans have been tethered to the tea bags how do they act on the wishes of the majority of the country – including most Republicans – who want reasonable compromise on the national budget ( without severe cuts to the safety net and to actively create jobs). The tea baggers see any compromise as a victory for President Obama and Democrats. So in a choice between a government shut-down and compromise, the tea baggers want a shut-down. That plays out well in the fetid imaginations of the Cains of conservatism, but the reality is quite different. Do the tea nuts like Cain hate America. Ignore their shallow platitudes and judges them by the consequences of their actions – GOP Threatens U.S. Fiscal Suicide over Balanced Budget Amendment

As a matter of simple math, balancing President Obama’s proposed FY 2012 budget would mean slashing $1.6 trillion from a $3.7 trillion spending request. That inevitably would devastate federal programs across the board. As this now-dated diagram of the 2011 budget illustrates, you simply can’t get there from here without raising taxes. Taking interest on the debt and defense spending off the table (as most Republicans insist) means cutting over half of everything else the federal government does. And that includes Social Security and Medicare.

[  ]…Of course, if for some reason Republicans follow through on their blackmail regarding the debt ceiling, the results would be cataclysmic.

While the specter of a global financial cataclysm caused by the default of the United States caused most sentient mammals to denounce that prospect as “insanity” (Obama economic adviser Austan Goolsbee), resulting in “severe harm” (McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi), “financial collapse and calamity throughout the world” (Senator Lindsey Graham), “financial disaster” (House Speaker John Boehner), Mitch McConnell and his Senate Republican colleagues are determined to continue with the game of chicken. Apparently, American fiscal suicide is a small price to pay for political power.

Movement conservatism, you know the serious kind of wing-nutism advanced by The National Review and echoed on Fox, has always had a nihilistic economic element. If Republicans take our current economic problems and doubles down on the crazy to the point where millions more middle-class Americans and the poor are dragged through gutter, than so be it, to get us to the promised land of the plutocracy. Republicans have taken up the cry for economic leadership from the White House. yet another dishonest ploy to give the impression to a press generally ready to echo the Beltway message of the day, they are ready to compromise. Once again the paradoxes of what they say with one face versus what they are actually planning. Enthralled with tea bagger fever, any compromise put forth by Obama, no matter how deep the cuts into social programs, science or economic incentives put forth by the administration, Republicans are planing to move the goal posts. Obama and Democrats will never be able to meet the ever shifting demands of the Teathuglicans, because that would mean another appearance of victory for the Obama administration. There is only one goal for Teathuglicans, failure and the appearance of failure, and they do not care if the middle-class, the elderly, children or the disabled have to pay the price for their victory. The Herman Cains and Koch brothers will not be paying the price because they own the plantation.

Fox Hypes Trump’s Birtherism

Fox News is promoting Donald Trump’s recent call for President Obama to “show his birth certificate.” Several Fox News hosts have hyped Trump’s comments without noting that Obama released his certificate of live birth from the state of Hawaii when he was a candidate in 2008.

Obama Released Certificate Of Live Birth In June 2008

Obama Released Certificate Of Live Birth In June 2008; Experts Confirmed Validity. In June 2008, Obama’s campaign made public a copy of Obama’s certificate of live birth, which was published on the Internet by numerous media outlets. Many experts, including a team from FactCheck.org, reviewed the document in person and determined it was authentic. On July 27, 2009, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, certified that she had personally seen Obama’s birth certificate in the original records maintained by the Hawaii government. [Los Angeles Times, 6/16/08; FactCheck.org, 8/21/08; USA Today, 7/28/09]

This birtherism stuff has become the Right’s herpes. They have regular eruptions, the poor dears. I hope that non-birthers whether conservative or liberal know at this point it is largely about the birther’s fetish for antagonizing people. There is one slightly new angle, asking for the “long form” of Obama’s birth certificate. Which Obama will never be able to produce because there is no such document produced by the state of Hawaii. Birtherism has spawned some associated schools of sleazniess, A Birtherism Lexicon

Pseudo-birtherism: An umbrella term that encompasses all the various modes of belief that involve embracing fictional elements of the president’s background, from the belief that he is a secret Muslim to the idea that he was raised in Kenya. Includes highbrow forms of birtherism like the “Kenyan anti-colonialism” thesis and theories that his name was legally changed to “Barry Soetero,” as well as the idea that Obama’s “real father” was one of the handful of random black celebrities you can name off the top of your head. Examples: Newt Gingrich, Andrew C. McCarthy.

[  ]…Brendan Nyhan suggests* a term for another variety of birtherism, “Birther-curious,” which I’m adding to the lexicon. Katya asked for something like this in the comments.

Birther Curious: The belief that, despite widespread availability of the president’s birth certificate, that there are “lingering questions” that could be answered by him releasing the “long-form” version, even though Hawaii doesn’t issue those. The birther-curious may acknowledge as a rhetorical concession that they “believe” the president was born in the U.S., but nevertheless argue that it’s the president’s fault that garden-variety birthers continue to exist. Examples: Sarah Palin, Lou Dobbs.

 

“But while they prate of economic laws, men and women are starving. We must lay hold of the fact that economic laws are not made by nature. They are made by human beings.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

prate: to talk long and idly

Blue Water Bubbles wallpaper

Blue Water Bubbles wallpaper

As Mideast Lashes Out Against Corruption, Chamber of Commerce Lobbies to Weaken Anti-Corruption Law

Even as anger over governmental corruption has exploded into protests across the Middle East, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been working to weaken the law that bans companies from bribing foreign officials.

That effort, which has been going on for months, recently got ratcheted up when the Chamber hired former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to lobby specifically on “possible amendments to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act,” according to Mukasey’s lobbying registration document. The FCPA, passed in 1977, prohibits U.S. companies and foreign companies whose securities are traded on U.S. exchanges from paying bribes to foreign officials.

The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform, in a report last fall [PDF], said that both the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission had become “increasingly aggressive in their reading of the law” within the last decade, bringing more FCPA enforcement actions than ever, netting higher fines and filing more cases against individual company employees.

That’s something the Justice Department has trumpeted as an achievement: “Our FCPA enforcement is stronger than it’s ever been—and getting stronger,” Lanny Breuer of the Justice Department’s criminal division said at a conference in November. In the 2010 fiscal year, half of all penalties won by his division were from foreign bribery cases. (The Washington Post just yesterday published a rundown of some recent actions.)

Some of the companies included IBM, Halliburton ( of course) and Tyson Foods. One can understand the irony. If you want the powers that be to have less power and ordinary citizens to have more the first thing to recognize is how corrosive money and bribes can be on having truly democratic institutions. If you can manage to keep politics out of the discussion most everyday working class Americans do have the well founded perception that big corporations and wealthy powerful individuals operate under a different set of legal and ethical standards than the rest of us. Americans  generally are not in favor of preferential treatment for people.

Florida conservative and tea bagger favorite Rick Scott(R-FL) was not simply well known as for being corrupt, but infamous. He bought his way into office with the uncritical support of the same tea baggers who swore they stood for their own brand of change and hope. They said they stood for the organic originalist brand of patriotism. Rick Scott’s Medicaid Overhaul to Benefit…Rick Scott?

Republican governor Rick Scott’s push to privatize Medicaid in Florida is highly controversial—not least because the health care business Scott handed over to his wife when he took office could reap a major profit if the legislation becomes law.

Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers. The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.

And of course Scott, his wife and the Florida Republican Party see no conflict of interests. Scott himself, a tea bagger conservative, sees nothing wrong with using big govmint to further enrich himself. I’m not sure what mom and pop Republicans of Florida were thinking – we’ll vote a criminal into office and maybe he”l stop being a criminal. The Right’s version of a rehabilitation program, that happens to be for one of the biggest thieves in the nation’s history.

Michigan is also suffering along with it’s Republican governor and legislature, Open Letter from a Teacher: ‘I Will Remember, and I Have a Voice’ – Letter from a School Teacher to Michigan’s GOP Legislators

When you place corporate interests above the legitimate needs and concerns of the people in your state, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you choose policies that force thousands of children into poverty (Who, with any sense of morality, can do that?)  in order to INCREASE corporate welfare, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you abandon the principle of governance for the common good in favor of showering the elite with more privileges, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you disseminate propaganda rather than fact-based information and seek to manipulate the public rather than to represent them, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you choose to make my vote meaningless and cynically go about the business of disenfranchising Michigan’s citizens in favor of gubernatorial dictatorship, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you gut the public schools, one of the cornerstones of democracy, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you defund and devalue my school district to such an extent that it cannot maintain excellence, I will remember, and I have a voice.

When you take away my right to bargain my own labor, I will remember, and I have a voice.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and the Republican-dominated state Senate have their own Kafkaesque dreams of big government. They passed a bill that allows “Snyder to declare a local city to be in a financial emergency and appoint an emergency manager. That manager can, without anyone else’s approval, cancel contracts, including collective bargaining agreements, force consolidation of schools, townships, cities and counties and, unbelievably, unilaterally remove local elected officials.” Why have local officials and elections if the governor decides, based on their idea of bad management or what the very criteria of what constitutes a fiscal crisis, can tell everyone his appointed goon is going to take over governing any locality. Snyder and Republicans have created a financial crisis for many towns because of the financial decisions they made in the capital. One thing that has worsen the state’s financial problems is the governor’s cut in corporate taxes and increasing taxes on the working poor..

 

 

Black and White City Northern River wallpaper – Republican Suggests Shooting UK Public Workers

city skyline

Black and White City Northern River wallpaper

I don’t usually cover British politics, but issues concerned with the media and how they are handling their economic crisis does have some parallels here. The Daily Mail is like the UK’s print version of Fox. It is spin and opinion pilfered off on the British public as news. Here is how they are reporting a huge protest in London, 200 arrested as hardcore anarchists fight police long into night in Battle of Trafalgar Square after 500,000 march against the cut

Extremists hijack anti-government cuts demonstration
84 people injured – and at least 31 police officers hurt on day of violence
Ritz hotel attacked with paint and smokebombs and 1,000 occupy Fortnum & Mason
Protesters surge along Piccadilly, Regent Street and Oxford Street forcing shops to close
Lightbulbs filled with ammonia hurled at police officers
Labour leader Ed Miliband defends speech to marchers

Over 200 people were arrested as extremists brought violent chaos to central London yesterday after hijacking the much-heralded trade union protest against public spending cuts.

A massive clear-up operation was underway today after trouble continued to flare late into the night as hundreds of people clashed with officers in Trafalgar Square.

Police confirmed 201 people were in custody and there had been 84 reported injuries during the protests. At least 31 police were hurt with 11 of them requiring hospital treatment.

Some pretty clever spin. making the protests sound as though it was largely violent. Out of a reported half a million protesters, by the mail’s own numbers there were 84 protesters injured and 31 police. A total of 121 people. That means 0.0168 percent of the protesters were injured during confrontations. While I tend to think any level of violence at protests are unacceptable. Those 500,000 protesters did an admirable job of keeping the violence down. Violence is counter productive. Tending to lessen  sympathy for your cause. Most of the violence and property damage was done by a small group of people who had splintered off from the main protesters. The BBC reports, TUC condemns post-rally violence in central London

Violence which followed a day of anti-spending cuts protests in London has been condemned by union leaders.

Hours after a peaceful march to Hyde Park, there were clashes between police and protesters in Trafalgar Square.

The TUC said the activities of a few hundred people should not detract from the main message of the official protest, which it said was attended by “between 250,000 and 500,000 people”.

Police said a total of 201 arrests had been made during the day.

The arrests were largely for a variety of public order offences, they said. In addition, 66 people were reported to have been injured, including at least 31 police officers, 11 of whom required hospital treatment. The injuries were described as relatively minor.

[  ]…Labour leader Ed Miliband, who spoke at the earlier rally, said there was “no excuse” for the violent scenes.

“I unequivocally condemn those who have committed acts of violence,” he said.

Policing minister Nick Herbert said “a small minority of individuals were intent on disorder”.

Powerline’s own Assrocket see’s people fighting for their economic rights, social justice and the actions of less than 1% of the protesters as the end of England, There May Not Always Be An England

Do you remember the good old days when an Englishman’s proudest boast was that he paid his way? That was then, and this is now: today something like a half million Englishmen demonstrated in London against proposed budget cuts. Their boast, apparently: someone else pays my way!

America’s right is at least consistent, framing England’s social safety net in the same terms they frame that of the U.S. Those protesters do pay their way. When they have jobs they pay for health care and retirement benefits out of payroll taxes just like we pay for Social Security and Medicare out of payroll taxes. The protesters, which Assrocket, without flinching at the hypocrisy, acknowledges is partly about massive layoffs as part of England’s austerity measures. How to save the England that Assrocket remembers, the one that exists only in his imagination. Shoot the protesters,

Powerline suggests shooting protesters.

AssRockets thinks Napoleons prescription would work on the protesters – ” but he had the right prescription for dealing with mobs: a whiff of grapeshot“. For those who are not familiar with the term grapeshot

Grapeshot is a type of anti-personnel ammunition used in naval cannons. It was similar to its land cousin canister shot, although its slugs were much larger to punch through the hull of ships. Instead of solid shot, a mass of loosely packed metal slugs is loaded into a canvas bag. Grapeshot can also be improvised from chainlinks, shards of glass, rocks, etc. When assembled, the balls resemble a cluster of grapes (hence the name). On firing, the balls spread out from the muzzle at high velocity, giving an effect similar to a shotgun, but scaled up to cannon size.

Grapeshot was devastatingly effective against massed infantry at short range. It was used to savage massed infantry charges quickly.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship on the attacks on NPR. While I still cannot say I am a fan – to me NPR seems watered down, frequently leans Right of center, has a larger proportion of right-wing guests, features more male reporters and pundits than women, has mostly white commentators and a few other problems, they are, to borrow a quote from the full editorial, “Yet in the words of Confucius, better a diamond with a flaw — a big flaw — than a pebble without.” NPR Is Not Left Wing Opposite of Right Wing Media Machine – Our publicly supported media is not perfect, but we must defend it against this current asault

To the accusers of NPR, the created reality of however they define “liberal” is not the same as what they mean when they call themselves “conservative.” If it were, the two would be exact reverse images of each other. Where media are concerned, all you have to do to know this is not the case is to hold them up, side-by-side. If “liberal” were the counterpoint to “conservative,” NPR would be the mirror of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and James O’Keefe, including the use of their techniques as well as content. Clearly it isn’t.

To charge otherwise is a phony gambit aimed at nothing less than quashing the public’s access to non-ideological journalism, narrowing viewpoints to all but one. We know from first-hand experience that any journalist whose reporting threatens the conservative belief system gets sliced and diced by its apologists and polemicists at Fox and on talk radio.

[  ]…Americans need more and sustained reporting on what the journalist William Greider calls “the hard questions of governance” — those questions of how and why some interests are allowed to dominate the government’s decision making while others are excluded. Who gets the money and who has to pay? Who must be heard on this question and who can be safely ignored?  None execute this kind of reporting better than Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez’s on Democracy Now!, which, while carried by some public radio and television stations, is not distributed nationally by either NPR or PBS.  Public media – radio and television – too rarely challenge the dictum: “News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.”

NPR is a decades long example of how rabid far Right conservatives frame the issue of “liberal” media. Any media, any report, any reporter who does not consistently tow the far Right’s ideological line is defined as liberal. If NPR does a report on Obama cutting taxes – a fact – that is seen as liberal bias. If NPR reports a scientific fact the Right doesn’t like. That is considered a liberal slant. So they are always going to whine about any news that is not spun the way Fox, the WSJ or the Washington Times spins their news. As distasteful as some may find it, reading right-wing blogs, newspapers and net magazines is educational. You get a glimpse of how the media in the United States would be if they had total control. All spin all the time.

Spring Mountain Field wallpaper

Spring Mountain Field wallpaper

Today is another day of  reports from the Republican Hamster Cage where conservatives are spinning furiously in every direction on Libya,  Woops, Newt Did It Again: Trying To Defend Libya Flip-Flop, Gingrich Reverses Himself On Air Power. And here, Right Wing’s Libya Kitchen-Sink Attack in which Obama is guilty of all the following – Obama Is “Feeble” And “Dithering”, But Obama Is Just Doing It Wrong, And Obama Collaborated Too Much With Other Countries, But Not Enough Other Countries, If Nothing Else Sticks, Let’s Just Call It “Obama’s Iraq”. Are we even in a war. Spencer Ackerman, who is a good political analysts and someone who I usually agree with more often than not might be right in between the cynicism and righteous indignation, While Libya War Grows, Obama Team Denies It’s a War

But that’s the spin from the Obama White House. While the president travelled through Latin America, his aides told sympathetic audiences in Washington that Operation Odyssey Dawn “is a limited humanitarian intervention, not war,” in the words of White House Mideast troubleshooter Dennis Ross. A letter to Congress notifying lawmakers that Odyssey Dawn was in effect studiously avoided the word “war,” preferring the more anodyne “military efforts” — which are “discrete” and “limited in their nature, duration, and scope.”

Ross’ remarks are outright deceptive. And it fits a pattern with President Obama: escalating U.S. military commitments while portraying them as essentially finite and limited.

It does depend on how you define war. Whether it is or not Ackerman thinks Obama did have the presidential authority to begin this whatever it is based on the War Powers Act. The NATO enforcement and UN sanctioned intervention could be a little of both. A war and humanitarian intervention. Once the Libyan rebels had gained ground and had areas that were clearly rebel controlled that very prgress is what doomed them. Once Gaddafi had a an area which he could call a rebel stronghold, that was the point at which he started his air and tank attacks. Not intervening, whether one approves or not, would have meant wide spread slaughter of tens of thousands of Libyans. Maybe Obama’s reasons are not pure as the driven snow as Josh Marshall, Digsby and Glenn Greenwald claim, but that does not mean his intentions and those of NATO do not have some humanitarian merit. Do all politicians have a tendency to massage their messages. You can pretty much bet on that.

I’m familiar enough with Marshall, Digsby and Greenwald to know they generally make good faith cases. I am equally familiar with the usual suspects on the Right. They have never made habit of making honorable arguments, honest arguments or arguments based on any recognizable school of reasoning. In all things pertaining to foreign affairs, what they like, want, think they need and feel in their pointed heads on any day or occasion is what passes for just and moral. Keyboard commando and perennial bed wetter Ed Morrissey and his current roost at Hot Air is a fair example of taking this opportunity to spin the present with a well spun past, Former Bush officials agree: Obama clueless. As one can see from all the links, the Right has dutifully genuflected to Hot Air’s spin. Praising the spinmeisters of the Bush era and written by one of the shameless crittens who perpetuated every known lie about Bush and Iraq from the non-existent WMD to al-qaedaconnections to Iraq, in the lead up to the invasion of that country.

Had Bush started a war in this fashion in 2007 or 2008, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, Democrats wouldn’t have stopped at a barbecue.  Nancy Pelosi would almost certainly have started impeachment proceedings, which would have failed as Republicans rallied to the President.

Sure it would make all the booboos better if President Obama had taken eight months to spread lies about Libya the way Bush, Hot Air and the rest of the bed wetters did about Iraq ( and by the way Pelosi said during the 2006 mid-terms that impeachment was “off the table”). These would be the same Bush administration officials who relied so heavily on the word of one informant to send over four thousand Americans to their deaths. Yep, enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya is exactly like that.

Since it took the President more than four weeks to make up his mind, their argument can also be reflected back on the White House.  The delay and vacillation cost lives as well. In fact, since they missed an opportunity to keep Moammar Gaddafi penned up in Tripoli, it cost even more lives and put the lives we’re saving now at risk from our own attacks on Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi.  Furthermore, it also provided plenty of time for Obama to consult with Congress while deciding to take the nation to war for whatever reason.

Gaddafi is penned up in Tripoli. Hot Air expert makes a living – besides his government pension – from writing “news” for Hot Air. Not only is MG in Tripoli, he is not happy about it, Gaddafi’s entourage sends out secret peace feelers

Members of Muammar Gaddafi’s entourage are putting out feelers to seek a ceasefire or safe passage from Libya, according to U.S. and European officials and a businessman close to the Libyan leadership.

Messages seeking some kind of peaceful end to U.N.-backed military action or a safe exit for members of Gaddafi’s entourage have been sent via intermediaries in Austria, Britain and France, said Roger Tamraz, a Middle Eastern businessman with long experience conducting deals with the Libyan regime.

Tamraz said Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Muammar’s eldest son, and Abdullah Senoussi, the Libyan leader’s brother-in-law, were the most prominent Gaddafi entourage members involved in seeking ways to end the fighting.

A U.S. national security official, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. government agencies were aware that Saif al-Islam and Senoussi had been involved in making peace overtures.

Morrissy and the Right had their noses so far up Bush’s ass for years you could not distinguish between the two. Needless to say that any criticism of Bush’s war meant the critic was pro terrorist and Un-American. Now, Obama’s humanitarian mission or war or whatever you want to call it can be attacked for any reason that pops into their heads – amazingly to include Obama did not act fast enough. Just a reminder of Bush’s approach to war and Iraq, Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says

Although the United States and Britain aggressively sought a second United Nations resolution against Iraq — which they failed to obtain — the president said repeatedly that he did not believe he needed it for an invasion.

Obama waited for the tide to turn in Libyan to the point there seemed  a choice between a slaughter or letting events run their course. Obama also waited until he did have an agreement by the UN and NATO. Acting like a cautious adult before taking human life, Hot Air and others tacitly admits, is a trait gone wanting aming right-wing conservatives, who are and were willling to use decepetion to drag the country into an actual war,

The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.

And let’s kill the revival of another less than truthy assertion by the Right that Bush 43 had a great and willing coalition to invade Iraq, Coalition of the billing — or unwilling?

Such are the naked politics of checkbook diplomacy, currently on gaudy display as the Bush administration tries to pull from among the 15 members of the U.N. Security Council the nine votes required to authorize an invasion. In the tug-of-war over the six undecided countries that will determine the final outcome, the U.S. is brandishing its wallet as a weapon. Guinea, Mexico, Chile, Angola, Cameroon and Pakistan all face the same dilemma this week: Ignore mounting opposition to war at home, or face the wrath of Washington?

Turkey has been offered $6 billion in direct aid, plus billions more in loans, if it will allow the U.S. to base soldiers there in advance of an invasion. But promises are flowing to nations far from the war front. A no vote by Chile could jeopardize a bill now pending in Congress for increased trade access — a measure worth billions of dollars over time. For Cameroon, a proposed 670-mile oil pipeline from Chad to be built by Exxon Mobil and ChevronTexaco is at stake. Poland stands to win $3.8 billion in loans for military aircraft. Bulgaria has no doubt heard hints that it could win a chance to host a new U.S. military base, which would inject millions into its economy. Guinea’s army rangers continue to need U.S. training to prevent attacks from neighboring Liberia.

Of the 48 or 49 countries that have been described as the “coalition of the willing”, only three contributed troops to the invasion force. Some contributed troops afterwards as part of a stabilization force. Obama has more actual supportive participants than Bush. Many of Bush’s coalition were literally bribed or coerced into participating – United States Puts a Spin On Coalition Numbers. In the Right’s version of the story this was all justified because there were a few old leaky chemical weapons canisters found. Even if those canisters could have been moved without killing the handlers, what would Saddam had done with them. Made a giant sling-shot and hurled them over the Atlantic. Listening to the Right’s hypocritical and sanctimonious advice about when or how to engage in any military conflict is like listening to an arsonist with third degree burns lecture you about how to use matches.

Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003

Here are the differences between George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current United Nations action in Libya:

1. The action in Libya was authorized by the United Nations Security Council. That in Iraq was not. By the UN Charter, military action after 1945 should either come as self-defense or with UNSC authorization. Most countries in the world are signatories to the charter and bound by its provisions.

2. The Libyan people had risen up and thrown off the Qaddafi regime, with some 80-90 percent of the country having gone out of his hands before he started having tank commanders fire shells into peaceful crowds. It was this vast majority of the Libyan people that demanded the UN no-fly zone. In 2002-3 there was no similar popular movement against Saddam Hussein.

3. There was an ongoing massacre of civilians, and the threat of more such massacres in Benghazi, by the Qaddafi regime, which precipitated the UNSC resolution. Although the Saddam Hussein regime had massacred people in the 1980s and early 1990s, nothing was going on in 2002-2003 that would have required international intervention. * see note.

update: Marc Lynch puts is more succinctly than I have, The U.N.’s High Stakes Gamble in Libya

Yesterday’s UN Security Council vote authorizing a No-Fly Zone and more against Libya has brought the United States and its allies into another Middle Eastern war.  The charge leveled by advocates of the war that Obama has been “dithering” is as silly as is the counter-argument that the West has been itching for an excuse to invade Libya to seize its oil.  The administration clearly understands that military intervention in Libya is a terrible idea, and hoped for as long as possible that the Libyan opposition could prevail without outside military assistance.  It only signed on to the intervention when it became clear that, as DNI James Clapper testifed to great public abuse, Qaddafi had tipped the balance and was likely to win. The prospect of Qaddafi surviving and taking his revenge on his people and the region is what forced the hand of the United States and the Security Council.

Conservatives learned absolutely nothing from Iraq. No surprise the same is true of conservatives and Wall Street’s ravaging of the nation’s economy, Rep. Weiner On The GOP War On Dodd-Frank: If They ‘Have Their Way, We’re Going To Have More Bailouts’

As Wall Street speculative trading on oil helps push up the price of gasoline, threatening to derail the economic recovery, the government agency charged with regulating oil speculation has so far failed to properly do so. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law gave the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) new powers to regulate oil speculation, but the Republican members of the commission, along and one Democrat, have blocked the CFTC from writing the rules necessary to exercise this power. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are hoping to slash the agency’s budget by a third.

[  ]…Indeed, from oil speculation to fraudulent mortgage lending, Republicans have attempted to tie the hands of regulators, and even asked lobbyists how they would want regulations curbed.

Can you smell that old time tea smoker populism. Let the same lobbyists and corrupt big banks that fought regulation and against the enforcement of regulation, to decide how to lead us all down the next rabbit hole and the next economic collapse.

* The Right likes to drag up the dead bodies of the those Saddam killed in the 80s and early 90s as justification for a war in 2003. There are lots of problems with that ridiculous rationale. One is that once these atrocities became known during the Reagan administration, Democrats wanted to pass sanctions and it was Dick Cheney and Colin Powell who fought against them.

Hanalei Valley Hawaii Wallpaper – Everyday is Lies and Hypocrisy Day in Wingnuttia

Hanalei Valley Hawaii Wallpaper

Hanalei Valley Hawaii Wallpaper

America should know the drill by now. When some sleaze ball conservatives have a new video or audio catching someone in the act, it means they edited the tape like they were on salary from Pravda or it is a hyperventilated story about not much of anything. The latter would apply to this story by a veteran criminal of Wingnuttia, Henry Blodget. BLODGET AND BECK TRY TO CREATE A PARANOIA BUBBLE

” Former SEIU Official Reveals Secret Plan To Destroy JP Morgan, Crash The Stock Market, And Redistribute Wealth In America”

A decade ago, Henry Blodget was caught fraudulently hyping tech stocks and was banned from the securities industry. Now Glenn Beck is peddling a ridiculous story that’s also being hyped by Blodget at Business Insider — a story about (wait for it) the coming destruction of capitalism in America by an ex-union guy and his massive leftist army of … well, you’ll just have to read Blodget’s write-up:

CAUGHT ON TAPE: Former SEIU Official Reveals Secret Plan To Destroy JP Morgan, Crash The Stock Market, And Redistribute Wealth In America

A former official of one of the country’s most-powerful unions, SEIU, is detailing a secret plan to “destabilize” the country.

… The former SEIU official, Stephen Lerner, spoke in a closed session at a Pace University forum last weekend.

… Lerner’s plan is to organize a mass, coordinated “strike” on mortgage, student loan, and local government debt payments–thus bringing the banks to the edge of insolvency and forcing them to renegotiate the terms of the loans. This destabilization and turmoil, Lerner hopes, will also crash the stock market, isolating the banking class and allowing for a transfer of power.

Lerner’s plan starts by attacking JP Morgan Chase in early May, with demonstrations on Wall Street, protests at the annual shareholder meeting, and then calls for a coordinated mortgage strike.

… Lerner was ousted from SEIU last November, reportedly for spending millions of the union’s dollars trying to pursue a plan like the one he details here. It is not clear what, if any, power and influence he currently wields….

First of all, I would be ecstatic if I thought something like this could possibly be done successfully in America in 2011. But not only is organized, widespread progressive action of this kind extraordinarily unlikely, but Lerner’s notion of how it would play out (if the voice on the tape is his — Blodget admits he can’t verify this) is ridiculously naive.

Certainly Mr. Lerner is naive in addition to being a little screwy. First of all its too late. Conservatives, with the help of some conservative Democrats, have already redistributed America’s income.

The report (pdf) “Building a Better America — One Wealth Quintile At A Time” by Dan Ariely of Duke University and Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School (hat tip to Paul Kedrosky), shows that across ideological, economic and gender groups, Americans thought the richest 20 percent of our society controlled about 59 percent of the wealth, while the real number is closer to 84 percent.

Timothy Noah at Slate did a thorough report on our lopsided distribution of wealth towards the top in September of last year – The United States of Inequality. Conservatives have never liked the tale of Robin Hood and it shows. We under reward work in the U.S. and over compensate wealth. Part of the argument for such wide margins of income inequality is how we value skills. A roofer or factory worker may work harder than an electrical engineer or programmer, but the engineer has some intellectual training and skills the other workers do not. That makes sense up to a point. But the income disparity there is not that great. Depending on what part of the country they work in the roofer might make $27k to $46k per year and an experienced programmer averages $80k. The CEO of Chevron made $31 million in 2008. Unless he came up with the secret of creating cheap fusion energy there is no way he provided either an intellectual contribution or management skills worth that kind of money. So-called “leftists” ( by the right’s definition that is anyone who thinks our basic system is sound, but the way it is applied is a little unfair) could never, in their wildest dreams accomplish that kind of redistribution of wealth.

Bring down the biggest U.S. banks? We should all know by now that is not possible. The Bush administration’s TARP program was about redistributing money from tax payers to rescue too big to fail financial firms. What is possible is something like the HuffPo’s advocacy for average folks to pull their money out of the big banks and put their basic checking and savings accounts into community banks and credit unions. That will not bring down Wells Fargo or Bank of America, but it will give them less political leverage. If they were truly populist the tea smokers would support such actions, but the Koch brothers supported tea smoker movement is all about deregulating and making sure the too big to fail system continues as before. Ironically a goal our Marxist Muslim Kenyan Anti-Colonialist president does not mind doing his part to achieve, but gets little credit from the Right in that regard.

Perfect timing, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has a new report out they could have called the Governors Redistribution of Wealth Plan, but went with, Governors are Proposing Further Deep Cuts in Services, Likely Harming Their Economies. Less-Harmful Alternatives Include Revenue Increases and Rainy Day Funds

The majority of states — at least 39 of 48 — are proposing major cuts in core public services. [3]
At least 21 states have proposed identifiable, deep cuts in pre-kindergarten and/or K-12 spending.  The governor of Mississippi proposes education spending that fails for the fourth year in a row to meet statutory requirements enacted to ensure adequate funding in all school districts.  (The three previous years of underfunding have cost over 2,000 school employees their jobs.)  The Texas budget proposal would e liminate pre-K funding for nearly 100,000 mostly at-risk children — over 40 percent of the state’s pre-kindergarten students.
At least 25 states have proposed identifiable, deep cuts in health care.  In Arizona, the governor’s budget would eliminate health care for 100,000 poor individuals.  Washington’s governor proposes eliminating affordable health care for more than 60,000 low-income residents.  Wisconsin’s governor proposes canceling health insurance coverage for about 70,000 people. [4]
At least 20 states have proposed major, identifiable cuts in higher education.  Pennsylvania’s governor proposes to cut funding for the state’s system of higher education by more than 50 percent, resulting in less state funding for the higher education system than it received in 1983, the year in which the state established consolidated funding.  Arizona would cut state support for public universities by one-fifth; when combined with previous cuts, this would reduce per-student state funding 46 percent below pre-recession levels.  California’s governor proposes to reduce funding for the state’s two university systems by $1 billion. For one of those two systems, the University of California system, the cuts would bring nominal spending down to the fiscal year 1999 level — when the system had 31 percent fewer students than it does today.
At least 15 states have proposed layoffs or identifiable cuts in pay and/or benefits for public workers.

Some of these governors are Democrats. Though the biggest cuts in services and pay is by Republicans who are also cutting corporate taxes while they cry for sacrifices from everyone. Corporate taxes are already a joke. If there are corporations that need a tax cut in this economy with all the loopholes and write-offs that are available, you might want to take a long hard look at your business model and management practices, March Madness for Corporate Tax Dodgers

The small companies and public didn’t have a chance in the early rounds. Now it’s down to a few formidable corporate teams, the Cheat 16:

– General Electric made $10.3 billion in 2009, but received a $1.1 billion tax rebate.

– Forbes said about Bank of America in 2010: “How did they not pay any taxes on $4.4 billion in income?”

– Oil giant Exxon made a $45 billion profit in 2009, but paid no taxes in the United States.

– Citigroup had 4 quarters of billion-dollar profits in 2010, but paid no taxes.

– Wells Fargo made $12 billion but purchased Wachovia Bank to claim a $19 billion tax credit.

– Hewlett Packard’s U.S. income tax rate was 4.3% in 2008 and 2.3% in 2009.

– Verizon’s 10.5% tax rate, according to Forbes, is due to its partnership with Vodafone, the primary target in UK Uncut’s protests against tax evaders.

– Chevron’s tax rate was 1% in 2008.

– Boeing, which just won a $30 billion contract to build 179 airborne tankers, got $124 million back from the taxpayers in 2010.

– Over the past 5 years Amazon made $3.5 billion and paid taxes at the rate of 4.3%.

– Carnival Cruise Lines paid 1% in taxes on its $11.5 billion profit over the past 5 years.

– Koch Industries is not publicly traded, so their antics are kept private. But they benefit from taxpayer subsidies in ranching and logging.

– In 2008 CorporateWatch said Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp paid “astoundingly low taxes” because of tax havens.

– Google “cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years by shifting its money around foreign countries.

– Merck, the second-largest drugmaker in the U.S., last year brought more than $9 billion from abroad without paying any U.S. tax.

– Pfizer, the largest drugmaker in the U.S., erased $10 billion in taxes with an “accounting treatment.”

All the above has been documented by US Uncut Chicago members on PayUpNow.org

The only way someone could think the U.S. is becoming a socialist utopia redistributing wealth from the wealthiest to the poorest is if they have severely impaired cognitive abilities or they are so high on the Konservative-Kool-Aid they can’t see reality for their blinding zealotry.

This is right out of the Bush-Cheney playbook. Stock your administration with as many of your cronies as possible, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) appointments include 26 campaign donors.

If America really was a merit based society Jon McCain would have had to find honest work. He was on the morning news programs yesterday and Newt Gingrich made the rounds this morning. If their combined foreign policy knowledge was harassed as energy they might be able to power a four-inch plastic boat in a calm bathtub, The senator, who met with Moammar Gadhafi in 2009, now complains the dictator has “American blood on his hands”

What McCain is apparently forgetting is that, apart from the past few weeks, the last decade has been a period of rapprochement between the United States and Libya. It started with President Bush announcing in 2003 that Gadhafi had agreed to give up his “weapons of mass destruction” programs. In 2006 Bush removed Libya from the official list of state sponsors of terrorism. In September 2008 Condoleezza Rice traveled to Libya to have talks with Gadhafi. And just a few days before the 2008 presidential election, Bush signed a settlement under which Libya compensated families of victims of Lockerbie and other ’80s-era attacks.

Who else was involved in the effort to forge better ties with Gadhafi? John McCain. In August 2009 he led a delegation of senators, including fellow hawks Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, on a trip to visit the Libyan leader in Tripoli. Discussed during the visit was delivery of — get this — American military equipment to Gadhafi (a man with American blood on his hands no less).

McCain should not be in the Home for Crazy Old Uncles, he should be in the shed out in back of the Home.

I’m not going to link to all of the right-wing criticism of President Obama’s decision to be part of the coalition to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. Mitt Romney will do as stand in for the average response. The one in the meme sent to the Conservatives Sycophants to repeat like mindless parrots. MITT ROMNEY, PANDERING ROBOT….

Even the buzz words themselves are ridiculous. The president was “indecisive”? Please. As Kevin Drum put it, “When did it suddenly become a personality defect to decline to intervene in a foreign rebellion the instant it broke out?”

Obama is “nuanced”? Yes, but can someone explain why that’s a bad thing? It’s a complex, “turbulent,” and ever-changing world. Having a chief executive who appreciates and is aware of “nuance” strikes me as positive.

In other words, and head spinning at that, the Right wishes Obama were more like Bush 43 and acted from his gut. Because ,you know, that worked out so well.

Cool River Rock wallpaper – A War and Economics Circle Jerk

Cool River Rock wallpaper

This is the kind of political analysis a six figure salary and a soapbox at the world’s newspaper gets us. Ross Douthat writes,

In its month-long crab walk toward a military confrontation with Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Obama administration has delivered a clinic in the liberal way of war.

Just a week ago, as the tide began to turn against the anti-Qaddafi rebellion, President Obama seemed determined to keep the United States out of Libya’s civil strife. But it turns out the president was willing to commit America to intervention all along. He just wanted to make sure we were doing it in the most multilateral, least cowboyish fashion imaginable….

This is an intervention straight from Bill Clinton’s 1990s playbook, in other words, and a stark departure from the Bush administration’s more unilateralist methods. There are no “coalitions of the willing” here, no dismissive references to “Old Europe,” no “you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” Instead, the Obama White House has shown exquisite deference to the very international institutions and foreign governments that the Bush administration either steamrolled or ignored.

…there are major problems with this approach to war…. Because liberal wars depend on constant consensus-building within the (so-called) international community, they tend to be fought by committee, at a glacial pace, and with a caution that shades into tactical incompetence…. (emphasis mine)

Ross looks back at Bush and sees rainbows and looks back at Iraq and sees a campaign commercial of little Iraqi children with ribbons in their hair playing in the shade of an old oak tree. In other words the Kon-Kool-Aid runs thick with delusion enhancing sweeteners. Generals Opposing Iraq War Break with Military Tradition

But they felt betrayed by Bush and his advisers.

“The ethos is: Give your advice to those in a position to make changes, not the media,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, now retired. “But this administration is immune to good advice.”

Eaton has two sons serving in Afghanistan and Iraq; his father, an Air Force pilot, was shot down and killed over Laos in 1969. He said his frustration began festering in 2003, when he was assigned to build the Iraqi army from scratch. His internal requests for more equipment and properly trained instructors went unheeded, he said.

And some highlights from one of several reports and studies done on the preparation for invading Iraq and the post-invasion management – Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience

– The debate over the United States’ role in Iraq after the war split the Bush administration, with the Pentagon foreseeing a quick pull-out and the State Department warning of a long occupation. Across the government, there were worries that the plans for rebuilding Iraq were being rushed.

– Once in Kuwait, United States officials found themselves ill prepared for the invasion hatching plans in parking lots and relying on outdated books to lay out their course of action. Pentagon and State Department bickering continued, the review said.

– Some of the most important decisions after the invasion of Iraq were made on the fly, by a handful of people acting alone or without the full knowledge of government leaders, the review said. Perhaps most notably, the decision to carry out a long-term rather than a short-term occupation was made during a private conversation between President Bush and Ambassador L. Paul Bremer on May 6. Mr. Bremer said he took President Bush’s words as “effectively, though perhaps not formally” changing the Pentagon’s plans for post war Iraq, according to Mr. Bremer’s remarks to the Special Inspector General. In his book, My Year in Iraq, Mr. Bremer noted that he entered the meeting with the president determined to put an end to the “reckless fantasy” of administration officials who were advocating a quick exit.

– At least 62 different government agencies were involved in the rebuilding process. No single agency ever exerted complete control.

– In 2004 and 2005, the United States tried to create yet more temporary offices to solve the rebuilding problems. The Iraq Reconstruction Management Office was one. Others were so-called Provincial Reconstruction Teams. The teams were supposed to work in regional offices staffed by different American agencies. Instead, the Pentagon and State feuded over security and staffing issues.

Neither Bush or Cheney had any real training in modern military tactics or strategy( no Bush’s few months protecting Texas airspace from the Vietcong do not count). That did not stop them from micromanaging the war according to the demands of their political agenda, Bush’s Bloody Flip-Flop

A flip-flop by George W. Bush worsened the military-political debacle in Fallujah last April when the Bush administration overruled the Marine commanding general twice, first ordering him to undertake a retaliatory assault against the rebellious Iraqi city and then abruptly reversing direction three days later.

There are those on the far Right and on the moderate side who have their criticisms of President Obama’s decision to join a coalition of NATO allies to enforce a no-fly zone. As one would expect the most bizarre criticisms are coming from the same peanut gallery that kept their lips glued to Bloody Flip-Flop Bush’s ass for eight years.

I’m not fond of the practice of idolatry, but different beliefs for different folks I guess. For Powerline’s Assrocket, one of his many objects of worship is Sarah Palin. Assrocket has yet another nauseating graveling salute to one of the most ethically challenged people in politics today. All the while not holding public office is quite the achievement, Sarah Palin In Jerusalem

Liberals love to insult Sarah Palin’s intelligence. It’s not a subject on which I have any particular opinion, except to note that, apparently by a remarkable coincidence, her judgment is correct on just about every subject. For instance, Israel. Today she and her husband Todd were in Jerusalem.

Palin seems to operate in some delusional ether that does not require drugs. Under the effects of same she has managed to have opinions which vacillate between the weird, the wrong and some stuff future cultural anthropologists will be trying to figure out. Like many conservatives she is right on occasion. This is easily accounted for by the Law of Acorns. If a squirrel digs enough holes it will eventually find one. Liberals are not wrong to highly esteem facts and rationalism, but I would I agree they are mistaken to over-estimate its value as a political asset. Republicans presidents decreased in intelligence from Nixon to Reagan to Bush 43 ( Bush 41 was something of an anomaly). So obviously intelligence in not a requirement for being president. John seems to be hoping the pattern holds and America, with conservatives pushing, continues to dump down both discourse and substance.

As Ross Douthat was playing with his revisionist fiddle in public, so was Alan Greenspan, saint of the Unholy Church of Conservonomics, Paul Krugman Is too Tired to Comment on Alan Greenspan…

Rantings of an Ex-Maestro: Some people have asked me for reactions to this piece by Alan Greenspan (pdf) on how Obama’s activism is preventing economic recovery. I could go through the weak reasoning, the shoddy econometrics that ignores a large literature on business investment and ignores simultaneity problems, etc., etc.. But never mind; just consider the tone. Greenspan writes in characteristic form: other people may have their models, but he’s the wise oracle…. Sorry, but he doesn’t get to do that any more. 2011 is not 2006. Greenspan is an ex-Maestro… who saw no evil, heard no evil, refused to do anything about subprime, insisted that derivatives made the financial system more stable, denied not only that there was a national housing bubble but that such a bubble was even possible.

If he wants to redeem himself through hard and serious reflection about how he got it so wrong, fine — and I’d be interested in listening. If he thinks he can still lecture us from his pedestal of wisdom, he’s wasting our time.

American corporations are sitting almost $2 trillion dollars in assets and profits are the highest they’ve been in years. If the right-wing meme is American business is suffering from some kind of anxiety disorder thus are not hiring. Tell it to the elves with the bells on their shoes.

A much better and more sensible explanation for the relatively high value that the stock market places on existing illiquid corporate assets and the relatively low value that companies place on illiquid investments to expand their fixed capital is precisely that capacity utilization is low–so why spend more money now building factories when doing so would be more expensive and only add to your idle capacity?

As the Right, and right-wing Randians will be happy to tell you, if you’ve been living in a cave, is that corporate America has no moral obligations, only the obligation to rake in the cash. If they can rake in cash without hiring or expanding they will. They are. So Alan can go all revisionist on the economy while Douthat rewrites the history of one of the most incompetent administrations in history. Maybe they can call Glenn Reynolds and make it official circle jerk day. MotherJones has a good write up and chart on the same subject, Defending the Ridiculous