Morning at the Park wallpaper – Breitbart’s Twitter Smear Against Anthony Weiner (D-NY) Just Another Hoax

Morning at the Park wallpaper

Right-wing bloggers are obsessing over some alleged(accused but not proven or convicted) Twitter photo sent byRep. Anthony Weiner(D). As of today there is zero proof that Rep. Weiner sent the photo. None, nada proof. Weiner and his office think his account may have been hacked. It is also possible that nothing was ever sent from the Congressman’s account. All we have is some screen shots from, who else, a wing-nut who has been following Weiner, Breitbart’s #TwitterHoax – How It Went Down (updated w/ smoking gun)

UPDATE – Had to copy this Smoking Gun to the top of the diary, tweeted TWO WEEKS ago by the amazingly prescient @usapatriot76, who, incredibly, seems to have been the only witness on the scene when the underpants photo was (allegedly) tweeted.

[  ]…UPDATE:  Colby Hall at Mediaite beat me to it, and has much more on the hapless @patriotusa76.

Who who is this Twitter user that appeared to luck out and sent the only unique RT of Weiner’s image? The Twitter profile claims that he is an individual named Dan Wolfe, and his bio reads: “Conservative Reagan Republican. No Obamacare, socialism, sharia. Proud of the USA & Proud to be an American with NO apologies. No elitists need apply.”

Its not an exaggeration to say that Wolfe is somewhat obsessed with Weiner; a simple search reveals that, since April, he has mentioned Rep. Weiner 287 times via twitter. Also, skeptics might see that Wolfe and his Twitter clique have been building a narrative about Rep. Weiner’s followers for months, perhaps best evidenced by this tweet to an underage high school girl, who requested a follow from Weiner and got it

The young lady, who seems to also become a victim of the Rights perverse little prank, says there have never been any inappropriate messages between her and the Congressman. I do not have a Twitter account, but just a few minutes of research shows that Twitter has been hacked and people have posted hacking exploits on the net. Fox News had this report from last year, Twitter Hack Activates Pop-Ups, Sends Some to Porn Sites

A piece of JavaScript code that can be embedded in messages on Twitter has the potential to retweet itself and redirect the reader’s browser to other sites — notably a hard-core pornography site.

Hackers exploited a security flaw on the popular micro-blogging site Twitter, retweeting malicious code, activating pop-ups, and even exposing users to an unwanted sight: hard-core pornography.

Tech Crunch is popular tech site and they ran this story in 2009, The Anatomy Of The Twitter Attack

This post isn’t about the confidential information taken from Twitter. It’s about exactly how Hacker Croll was able to get such deep access to Twitter in the first place.

It’s clear that Twitter was completely unaware of how deeply they were affected as a company – when Williams said that most of the information wasn’t company related he believed it. It wasn’t until later that he realized just how much and what kind of information was taken. It included things like financial projections and executive meeting notes that contained highly confidential information.

We’ve already said a lot about all of this and the related “server password = password” story that was discovered by another individual last week.

I don’t recommend going to read this story, but this is how one older exploit could be done, Learn How To Hack Any Twitter Account Using A Web Based Exploit. This one may also work to some degree though it is said not to work as well as when it was first tried, How to Force Anyone to Follow You on Twitter. Again, I strongly advise against trying any of these or other exploits one might find on the web. hacking exploits such as these are Federal crimes. Andrew Brietbart’s Big Government seems to be twittergate smear central. Now that Rep. Weiner has made multiple denials and suggested he might have been hacked you can always rely on wing-nut sycophant Dan Riehl to do some ass covering if, you know, all the bull he and his comrades have been making up, blows up in their face – as in Rep. Weiner needs to get authorities involved as soon as possible because this is all a potential threat to the nation’s security. Obviously Dan is not familiar with the previous hacks on Twitter and could not be bothered to use that little search box on his browser.

Andrew Brietbart’s status as the Right’s Fraudster-in-Chief is a result of what is becoming an encyclopedia of modern right-wing hoaxs that make Nixon’s Watergate burglaries look like dilettantes. Breitbart was at the center of the fake ACORN scandal, the phony Planned Parenthood videos from Lila Rose, the Shirley Sherrod smears, his sites regularly featured birther conspiracies, Breitbart was part of the gang of right-wing Republicans who created the campaign to smear Department of Education staffer Kevin Jennings and also claimed some White House conspiracy in a dust-up between a couple of participants at one of those crazy health care reform town hall meetings.  This is the guy we’re all supposed to believe in what appears to be a manufactured scandal over an apparently doctored picture and without a shred of proof that Congressman Weiner was involved.

How the mighty have fallen. Don’t Blame America’s Debt Crisis on Social Security and Medicare (Especially on Memorial Day)

Amid all the nonsense and gobbledegook that has been written about banking industry and about the economic slump during the last four years of the global financial crisis, New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson has stood out both for the clarity of her analysis, and for her willingness to go after the guilty parties in the political and especially the banking system, naming names and calling it as she sees it.

So it was kind of disappointing–even shocking–to read her latest article reporting on a new “study” by Peterson Institute for International Economics Senior Fellow Joseph Gagnon, warning about the nation’s growing debt crisis.

The Peterson Institute, founded by Wall Street tycoon Peter Peterson, has long been gunning for the Social Security and Medicare systems, which he, and the rest of the Wall Street gang, see as unfairly competing with Wall Street for the assets of the public, and as destructive of the “free market.”

Peterson’s basic schtick is that the two critical support systems for the elderly and infirm are going to bankrupt the country as they pay out benefits that exceed what retirees paid into the system, and that the solution is to cut back on those benefits, increase the taxes collected, or better, to privatize both systems.

Peterson was once CEO of Lehman Brothers – he of the crazy derivatives and CDOs(Collateralized Debt Obligations) all these wild bets that were never backed by enough collateral to payoff, should something like the housing bubble happen. Peterson is one of the hundreds of Andrew Breitbarts of Wall St who screwed the United States of America out of trillions of dollars of wealth. Now he wants all us serfs to knell before the great all knowing Overlord and follow his prescription for saving Medicare and Social Security. Peterson, the typical head in bubble narcissist, learned nothing from the Great Recession.

After all, the country has been piling up this debt for several decades, and especially over the last decade, but during all this time, Social Security and Medicare have been paying out their benefits from current dedicated payroll taxes and by drawing on the trust funds that had built up because of the years that more was being collected than paid out in benefits.

Get the point? Nobody, including Gagnon, Morgenson or the Social Security and Medicare-hating members of Congress like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), will acknowledge the fact that not one dime of the huge US deficit has been caused by a benefit check paid by Social Security or Medicare.

We should be talking about rising revenue, creating jobs and shoring up Medicare and Social Security, not handing our thin safety net over to the pigs at the trough.


Republicans Admit They Will Cripple Economy if Medicare is Not Demolished

Anyone who thought that special election in New York where a Democrat took a strongly red district would give conservatives a clue about messing with Medicare underestimate the density of the wing-nut skull. Anyone who thought that the massive volume of data that showed the Ryan budget plan was too radical, gutted Medicare, put the burden of sacrifice on the middle-class, screwed over every American under the age of 55 – underestimates Republican mendacity and their depth of allegiance to undoing every progressive reform made since the Great Depression. You know you’re in for a renewed assault when media puppets like the Wall St Journal run editorials by deeply serious analysts, speaking in oh so grave tones say crap like this, Conservatives Now See No Difference Between RyanCare And ObamaCare Cuts

Thomas Saving and John Goodman have written an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal in which they pretend that Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Medicare cuts are almost identical to the reductions Democrats enacted through the Affordable Care Act:

In light of the heated rhetoric of recent days, it is worth noting that for everyone over the age of 55, there is no difference between the amount of money the House Republicans voted to spend on Medicare and the amount that the Democrats who support the health-reform law voted to spend. Even for younger people, the amounts are virtually identical with GDP indexing. ( My Note: Yea those under 55, half the country, hardly count. They’re still scrambling to make ends meet or find a job after benefiting from the Republican economic management project from 2000-2008)

    The law’s spending path depends on making providers pay for all the future Medicare shortfalls. But since no one can force health-care providers to show up for work, short of a health-care provider draft this reform ultimately cannot succeed. The House Republican path, on the other hand, would make a sum of money available to each senior to choose among competing private plans—much the way Medicare Advantage provides insurance today for about one out of every four Medicare beneficiaries.

Saving and Goodman surely understand that there are different ways to cut Medicare spending, and they also know that the Ryan budget actually maintains many of the ACA’s productivity cuts to providers. The distinction is worth reiterating: the ACA reduced annual increases in payments to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies and other institutions to spur productivity and cut overpayments to private insurers that are not delivering value for Medicare dollars. They used that money to expand coverage to 32 million Americans — many of whom were receiving uncompensated care at these institutions — to extend the life of the Medicare program and invest in new demonstration projects that aim to encourage providers to deliver quality care more efficiently.

The Ryan budget, on the other hand, tries to change the behavior of consumers (not providers) by shifting more of the costs of coverage from the federal government to the individual. Republicans believe that individuals who go out and purchase coverage on their own will use less care (spend less money on health care) and create a more dynamic and competitive health care market. The problem with this approach is that there is no credible research showing that forcing individuals to be more cost conscious will significantly lower national health care spending or that the “savings from competition would be large enough to offset the massive reduction in funding.”

Ryan plan increases costs to seniors

As crazy as the new tactic is – saying that the Ryan plan is indistinguishable from the Affordable Care Act/ ObamaCare is ridiculous, but it does work with people who get their information about health care reform and the federal budget from Fox News and right-wing web sites. False information gives them some cover for their own wacky beliefs – See some smart dudes in the WSJ wrote it out and it validates what I believe so that makes it true. It doesn’t even matter that one’s life experience should tell them differently. Say you are healthy and do not need immediate medical attention. You do have time to doctor shop ( my doctor is not taking new patients. Not an unusual situation), clinic shop or hospital shop, but as we all should know it is not like shopping for the cheapest laptop that meets your specifications. Doctor shopping is not been shown to lower medical costs, where as shopping for cheap prices on products does put downward pressure on prices. Ratchet things up to where there is an imminent need for health care and your options go down even further. Just Because Rep. Paul Ryan(R-WI) Keeps Saying It…

To get why this “market solution” can’t work, you have to understand a bit about how Ryan’s plan changes Medicare.  As is by now pretty widely appreciated, including by many in his own party, the plan ends guaranteed health care coverage for seniors and replaces it with a voucher for them to shop for insurance on the street.

Importantly, the value of those vouchers start well below where they need to be to enable seniors to afford coverage comparable to Medicare today (in fact, beneficiaries costs would have to double), and their value falls increasing behind coverage costs over time.

Suppose you send me to the grocery store to buy you a gallon of milk.  Milk costs $3.50 a gallon but you give me $2.  I spend the whole day “denying business to inefficient providers”—i.e., grocers who all charge more than that—and at the end of the day, bring you back a pint.

Now, instead of milk, where I’ve got the information I need to be a smart shopper, suppose you give me the same under-priced voucher but ask me to bring you back a plan for treating that strange pain you’ve been experiencing on your left side on humid days.

There’s no “denying business to inefficient providers” in the Ryan plan because there’s no market discipline that average folks with incomplete information armed with an inadequate voucher can enforce on a private health insurance market that’s…well, different.

I’ll deal with the other part of Rep. Ryan’s misleadingly mendacious medical mantra manana.  Check this out in the meantime if you’re so inclined.

The intralink also points out another scare point the Right is using as push back in this go-round of putting more lipstick on Ryan’s pig,

First, the Republican plan has nothing to say about providers, like hospitals or physicians. It’s a plan for insurance reform under Medicare, not a plan for provider organization or payment reform. Second, the ACA has nothing in it to deny care to seniors. In fact, Medicare is not permitted to do anything of the sort.

If you can’t parse the truth out of the WSJ doublespeak, Senate Conservative Leadership could not make the Right’s animosity toward Medicare any plainer, Mitch McConnell(R-KY): I Won’t Agree To Raise The Debt Limit Without Medicare Cuts

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says substantial Medicare cuts must be part of a spending and deficit cut package to get his support to raise the debt limit.

In a Capitol briefing with reporters Friday, McConnell declared affirmatively that unspecified Medicare cuts are on the table in bipartisan debt limit negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden, and he expects they’ll be part of the final deal. But in response to a question from TPM, he went further than he has in the past in laying down a marker on that issue. Medicare cuts must be part of that deal to get his support, he says — even if negotiators manage to find trillions of dollars in savings elsewhere, even if his other priorities are met.

“To get my vote, for me, it’s going to take short term [cuts, via spending caps]… Both medium and long-term, entitlements.,” McConnell said. “Medicare will be part of the solution.”

To clarify, I asked “[I]f [the Biden group] comes up with big cuts, trillions of dollars worth of cuts, but without substantially addressing Medicare, it won’t get your vote?”

“Correct,” McConnell said.

Republicans Holding the Economy Hostage

Seniors, the disabled, children and every American who has seen how free market apparatchiks can screw over hard working Americans that try to play by the rules, dismantling the Medicare part of the social safety net is only the tip of the bloody spear, Republican Medicare proposal erodes Social Security

Forty Republican Senators and 235 Republican House members have voted not just to eliminate Medicare, eviscerate Medicaid, and give the wealthy and corporations even bigger tax breaks. They’ve also gone on record in support of eroding Social Security benefits.

That’s analysis from Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. Even though the Republican plan doesn’t directly cut Social Security, the increased costs to seniors for Medicare would continuously erode the value of Social Security benefits, and by 2014, “19 years after the Medicare voucher begins—an average worker’s Social Security benefit is estimated to be worth less than their Medicare costs.”

Anyone thinking they will be able to pay for the Republican cuts to Medicare with their Social Security needs to disabuse themselves of that fallback.

Everyone probably knows from high school what anecdotal evidence is, “The expression anecdotal evidence refers both to evidence that is factually unreliable, as well as evidence that may be true but cherry-picked or otherwise unrepresentative of typical cases.” I don’t have strict rules of debate for my personal conversations and anecdotes can be funny, if not informative, but they are not a basis for public policy or for informed punditry. A Dr. Helen, a right-wing “forensics psychologist” managed to get her PhD without understanding that anecdotal evidence is for, at most, water cooler debates, A QUICK ONE WHILE SHE’S AWRY

If you find yourself checking your Blackberry even at the seaside show trial, though, here’s an easy layup for you and for me — Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser:

Why are there “Now Hiring” signs in front of so many businesses these days when so many people are complaining about not finding a job? Everywhere I go in Knoxville, there are generic “Now Hiring” signs from the hotels to the car dealerships to the stores at the mall.

Probably means they’re hiring, just like the “Men” and “Women” signs on the bathrooms mean one bathroom is for men and the other is for women.

I find it puzzling because if businesses were really that desperate to hire, so much so that they are all putting up signs, why are so many people saying they are having trouble finding work?

Similarly, people keep talking about all these sick people in America who need health care, but I was just over on the West Side bike path and most of those people looked very healthy. It just doesn’t add up.

DMOP, her curiosity piqued, goes into some of these businesses and asks them about the signs — oh just kidding, she does nothing of the kind.

Dr Helen believes in signs

Other versions of Dr. Helen’s thinking include: Someone once saw some whites kids beat up an old man, which means that all white folks are violent and mean. Someone once did business with a Protestant who cheated them so obviously all Protestants are crooks. Did she get her degree from one of those correspondence schools that advertise on matchbook covers.

A lot of the right-wing blogs like to gloat over the Obama presidency not being as transparent as promised. It is not as much of an improvement as I’d like, but certainly an improvement over the Bush administration. Republicans do not really care about making our democratic republic more transparent, they only use it as a club to take unprincipled swings with, Anti Disclosure Bills in House and Senate

New bills in the House and Senate are aimed at blocking a new Executive Order before it’s ever signed.

The bill would, among other things:

• Prohibit a federal agency from collecting the political information of contractors and their employees as part of any type of request for proposal in anticipation of any type of contract;

House leadership has concluded, for partisan political reasons, that President Obama’s draft executive order, which would require contractors to publicly disclose their political spending, is an attempt to politicize contracts. If Obama had wanted to extort campaign money from contractors, though, a public disclosure system would be the worst way to do it.

There’s one appropriate way that Congress could keep the President’s draft Executive Order from ever being signed: pass a new law requiring disclosure for the recent flood of dark money into our elections. But since Senate Republicans rebuffed all efforts to require disclosure for who is funding our elections, President Obama has apparently decided to pursue the only options available to him.

As was made abundantly clear in the recent Oversight Committee hearing on the draft EO, the disclosures wouldn’t be used to determine which bidder gets a contract.

The rhetoric against this EO often paints the disclosure as not being public, and acts like the standard isn’t fair. Public disclosure of campaign finance information protects our elections and our public policy, and the standard the EO would create applies evenly to all contractors, be they unions, or anyone else, despite widespread claims to the contrary.

If a company wants to do business with the government, and profit from the public purse, is it really to much to ask to understand how they’re trying to influence the process? Obviously not. That’s why Americans hate secret spending in our elections, and care about how money is affecting our politics.

Bourbon Street New Orleans wallpaper – All The Republican Shrillness Fit to Print

Bourbon Street New Orleans wallpaper

Ben Stein, yes this Ben Stein, writing on that yellow rag The Spectator on Newt’s account at Tiffany’s –  The Tiffany Times

Now, I think I’ve seen it all. The absolutely most mystifying and at the same time obvious gibberish from my former employer, the New York Times. This once mighty newspaper ran a story on page one on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, about the totally, unimaginably trivial fact that Newt Gingrich has bought his wife certain pieces of jewelry that some people consider lavish and has a charge account at Tiffany. This, strongly insinuates the Times, shows that Newt is a hypocrite in calling for budgetary discipline and restraint in the federal government.

This completely misses the point. While the incident is one of many which highlights Newt’s hypocrisy about being an everyman, a populist of the people, the issue is what did Newt and his wife get in exchange for a near interests free loan. The type of financial perk not even available to the average upper income customer at Tiffany and Company.  The Gingriches and Tiffany: When a loan becomes lobbying

Amid all the convoluted explainers and analysis of the deal that Newt Gingrich and his wife had with Tiffany, one crucial point seems to have been missed. So well done to SpyTalk for picking up on this:

At the same time Tiffany & Co. was extending Callista (Bisek) Gingrich a virtual interest-free loan of tens of thousands of dollars, the diamond and silverware firm was spending big bucks to influence mining policy in Congress and in agencies over which the House Agriculture Committee–where she worked–had jurisdiction, official records show…

Tiffany’s annual lobbying expenditures rose from about $100,000 to $360,000 between 2005 and 2009, according to records assembled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization.

There’s enough confusion over the Tiffany’s deal that it certainly looks unusual — while Tiffany’s does extend interest-free loans of up to one year to top clients, Gingrich’s account was open for two consecutive years, despite the fact that Gingrich claimed to be paying no interest on it. And in any case it seems unwise, to say the least, to accept an interest-free loan of more than $250,000 from a company which is lobbying your committee — no matter how rare or common such loans might be.

Considering the balance the Newts would have made off with a nice $50k by skipping the interests. Nice deal and one that Stein and The Spectator blow off in an attempt to make this all a story about envy. he and the commenters go about some Democrat’s wardrobe. Oh my stand back, the gotcha is overwhelming. What people spend on clothes and jewelry is not the issue. The issue is whether Tiffany gave some financial perks that equal the median household income in America, and got or expected to get someday, a political favor in return.

The far Right’s reaction to President Obama’s speech on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was predictable. They would have opposed anything he said. They would have, did and continue to mischaracterize what he said. The air escapes from these blow-up dolls of manufactured conservative outrage very quickly. So how do you stretch out the news and outrage cycle for another 48 hours. You invent a controversy out of thin air. Right Wing Gins Up False Controversy That Wealthy Donor Will No Longer Give To Obama Over Israel Policy

President Obama was perhaps not specific enough when he told an audience at the State Department last Thursday, as part of his big speech on the Arab Spring, “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” With more time to focus on just what “mutually agreed swaps” meant at AIPAC’s annual summit, Obama readily offered details. But that didn’t stop legions of Israel’s right-wing supporters from launching attacks on Obama that mischaracterized his position (which incidentally lined up with his two predecessors in office).

But the latest salvo from neoconservatives on this front is perhaps the most factually challenged. At the neocon flagship magazine Commentary, writer Alana Goodman picked up on an interview given by Israeli-American businessman and high-profile Democratic Party donor Haim Saban. Saban told CNBC that he wasn’t planning on donating to Obama’s re-election campaign.

As WR points out you can search sites such as or Political MoneyLine and find that Saban has not contributed to Obama in the past so the newest speech could hardly have been the deciding factor in not to contribute in the next election cycle. Saban has been a good Democratic donor – contributing to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Cmte. In addition he has contributed to the US Israel Friendship PAC which in the last three election cycles has only given to one political party, Democrats. This brings up the third reason for the volume of right-wing shrillness and trying to score points on Israel related issues,

Neocons, who are mostly though not exclusively Jewish, have long sought to explain why, unlike them, most American Jews are liberals, seeking to use Israel as a partisan wedge issue to peel off Democrats’ Jewish support. Seventy-eight percent of American Jews voted for Obama in 2008 despite a whisper campaign to paint him as anti-Israel.

The absence of any evidence to back up Goodman’s claim, however, didn’t stop other media from picking up the assertion. The right wing New York Post, with the headline “Jews may actually close their wallets to Obama”, described wide-reaching implications of the fictitious story of “Saban’s choice to cut off Obama.”

Israel has been playing the America Right for years. Even Israel’s Right is not of the same wing-nut tribe as America’s right-wing. Though Israel has been happy to use them for direct donations, lobbying on behalf of Israel’s interests and as a tool to browbeat American politicians that do not tow the line. Nothing Obama is proposing is a radical departure from Bush or Clinton. That fact doesn’t interest the Right or even some Democrats who are afraid of AIPAC.

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) Attacks Democrats For Supporting Medicare Cuts She Just Voted For. Remember in 2010 Republicans such as Buerkle were attacking Obama for ending Medicare Advantage, claiming he was ending Medicare. Medicare Advantage was a kind of premium supplemental insurance subsidized by tax payers that did benefit insurance companies. Here we are in 2012 and Buerkle votes for the Ryan plan which guts Medicare.

‘Heckuva Job’ Brownie Criticizes Obama For ‘Toasting The Queen’ During Tornadoes

After violent storms slammed three mid-western states and claimed 14 lives yesterday, President Obama announced he would be returning from his long-planned European trip to visit Missouri on Sunday. But that wasn’t good enough for Michael Brown, the FEMA director during Hurricane Katrina who is widely blamed for the Bush administration’s incompetent handling of the crisis that left tens of thousands of New Orleans residents stranded and helpless.

Brown, whose prior experience included working for the International Arabian Horse Association, resigned in disgrace amid a public uproar when it came to light that he had virtually no experience in disaster response — but only after President Bush famously patted him on the back in front of TV cameras, telling him, ”Brownie, you’re doing a heckuva job.” At least 1,836 people died as a result of the worst natural disaster in modern American history, many because FEMA help did not come quickly enough.

Is it some kind of disease, something like Conservative Tourettes which makes them feel they must spew forth more garbage, which in turn gives us all another opportunity to revisit some disastrous episode in their past. Another opportunity to review one of the millions of examples in which conservatives and conservatism has either failed or given America the rusty end of a shaft.

Why Are Republicans So Keen to Persecute Elizabeth Warren?

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee session today with the Republican’s favorite punching bag, Elizabeth Warren, managed to notch abuse up to a level that is politely described as unseemly or more accurately called Republican Derangement Syndrome.

The fact that Republicans’ last effort to use screechy and mean against Warren failed to deter her has not led them to improve their game. Two months ago, a nasty two hour Congressional hearing with Warren was the culmination of weeks of right wing media attacks, with the Wall Street Journal leading the pack. We noted:

The last time I can recall the Journal becoming quite so unhinged about an individual was over Eliot Spitzer. And since Warren seems pretty unlikely to be found to have similar personal failings, the specter of the right throwing what look to be ineffective punches at her makes for a peculiar spectacle. What is the real aim behind this drama?

The reactions to Warren, both on the right and left, are becoming divorced from reality. She has assumed iconic status as a lone mediagenic figure in the officialdom who reliably speaks out for the average person, a Joan of Arc for the little guy. And she drives the right crazy because she is rock solid competent and plays their game better than they do. She sticks to simple, compelling soundbites and images without the benefit of Roger Ailes and Madison Avenue packaging, and she speaks to an even broader constituency, Americans done wrong by the banks, than they target. No wonder they want to burn her at the stake.

Today’s spectacle had the Republicans looking like idiots who resorted bullying when their initial salvos failed to hit their target. Chairman Patrick McHenry came off like a an angry amateur, trying ineptly to play prosecutor by demanding yes and no answers to questions that were clearly setups or couldn’t be answered that simply.

The full post is longer and does a point by point take on what can only be described as some bizarre Politburo style show trial put on by Republicans who all seemed to have Wall Street’s hand up their back.Which makes sense because Chairman Patrick McHenry is to big financial interests what Joe Barton(R-TX) is to big oil – a puppet.

The big debt lie By Gene Lyons

The betting system the GOP’s been playing for the past 30 years is called supply-side economics. “The theory goes like this,” explains David Cay Johnston. “Lower tax rates will encourage more investment, which in turn will mean more jobs and greater prosperity — so much so that tax revenues will go up, despite lower rates.”

To anybody with a passing interest in the material world, it’s clear that this has never happened. Over the same period, the national debt has risen to more than $14 trillion — almost 90 percent of it under Republican presidents.

Meanwhile, ordinary citizens have failed to prosper as President Reagan’s seductive “morning in America” rhetoric promised. Since 1980, Johnston shows, “the average income of the vast majority — the bottom 90 percent of Americans — has increased a meager $303, or 1 percent.” Meanwhile, the income of the upper 1 percent of taxpayers more than doubled, and that of the top tenth of 1 percent increased more than 400 percent.

Social mobility in the United States lags behind many European countries. The richest 300,000 American taxpayers currently enjoy incomes roughly equal to that of the bottom 150 million combined.

It always a good laugh, if a dark one, to hear conservatives talk about free markets and merit. There is simply no way that 1% of the population does work or performs some service that is equal to that of 150 million American workers. This situation is not capitalism is is the Republican version of Marxism – the income is redistributed to the elite collective at the top.

Supply-side economics – Republican Marxism.

Sunset Railroad wallpaper – Republicans Vote to Cut Own Throats

Sunset Railroad wallpaper

The Ryan budget is now officially a catastrophe for the GOP. Was this the White House plan all along?

When a mainstream news outlet like Politico publishes a major news story quoting multiple (unnamed) Republicans asserting that the House GOP ignored internal criticism of Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, we can be sure of at least one thing: The Ryan budget proposal has moved beyond dead-on-arrival status to pure political poison.

[  ]…When the Obama administration released its 2012 budget, critics immediately pounded on the White House for failing to include a plan to deal with long-term entitlement costs. At the time, some of us thought this was unfair, since the Affordable Care Act incorporated concrete steps to rein in rising healthcare costs, which, practically speaking, is significantly more than any other recent administration has achieved in terms of grappling with long-term entitlement spending trends. But our voices were drowned out by the deficit hawks, and the clamor grew even louder when Paul Ryan seemed to steal a march on Democrats by releasing his own, much more far-reaching budget.

Only then did Obama release a plan of his own, in his April speech on the deficit, while simultaneously landing some lethal blows on Ryan’s Medicare plan. Grumpy conservatives immediately labeled Obama’s speech as “hyperpartisan” and the House GOP rallied en masse to vote for the Ryan budget, but the GOP has only itself to blame for inviting such a harsh reaction — especially if the Politico reports on the negative internal polling numbers generated by the plan are true.

[   ]…It’s also tempting to compare the Republican misadventures on Medicare with the Democratic healthcare saga, which also generated town hall anger and a huge electoral backlash. But there’s one momentous difference. Obama got his healthcare bill passed into law. The Ryan budget is never even going to get a vote in the Senate. If you’re going to place your entire party in political jeopardy, you might want to make sure you’re getting something out of the bargain.

Andrew Leonard is right about Republican miscalculation and getting a lot of feedback from very upset constituents. A case of once again Republicans letting the most radical elements of their party ( the House tea bags in this case) guide their agenda. President Obama, an experienced debater has probably seen these rare moments before in the Senate and the Illinois legislature where you have all your talking points lined up to face the toughest of his opponents arguments. Than your opponents become so unhinged all you have to do to win the debate is repeat your opponents agenda. He should send Ryan and the tea bags a note thinking them for exposing the deep contempt for which they hold America’s seniors. And the current generation of workers too for that matter. Good news kids, if things do not go as planned – yet another recession, more unpaid for wars – and you work hard, do your best, the only safety net you’ll have waiting for you is this stingy little voucher from the rabid Right. Frequently what happens when conservatives lose is that they – at least with their base – capitalize on that loss. House Leader John Boehner(R-OH) would come out and say this was a big opportunity to strengthen Medicare or an opportunity to really do something about the deficit. Only the Ryan plan did neither. The Right-wing blogs and pundits still think Ryan walks on water, but the polls show that not even mom and pop Republicans on Main Str are buying it. That is also one of the problems everyone should be having with the Politico story that Leonard is commenting on. The debate has been somewhat hijacked. The media is talking about the Ryan plan as part of a spending slash budget crisis. It is not. It is the fact that Republicans are committed to unjustifiably low taxes for the top 5%. Which is the Siamese twin of their  willingness to gut Medicare and Medicaid, and by doing so are engaging in a full on back door assault on Social Security. Steve Bennen gets it,

It’s worth noting that the Politico article reports, simply as a matter of fact, that that the House Republican leaders intended to “boldly position their party as a beacon of fiscal responsibility.” What the article doesn’t note is that this is absurd—there’s nothing fiscally responsible about the House GOP plan. The numbers don’t add up; the finances are fraudulent; and even the Medicare “savings” would be applied to tax cuts, not deficit reduction. The media really needs to start understanding this.

We could do away with Medicare tomorrow and doing so would make a big dent in the deficit but we would still have one. The basic spending required to maintain our thread bare social program like Medicare, the military, education and infrastructure will, for the foreseeable future, outpace the current revenue structure. Republicans would gladly let the grandparents live out their last years in misery than increase, say the capital gains tax. That will never been a sign of being fiscally responsible, rather it is a sign of the worse kind of moral decadence.

“Let them eat their own Goodwill Store bootstraps!”

Republicans proposed cutting $832 million – or 12 percent – from this year’s budget for the federal nutrition program that provides food for low-income mothers and children…Two analysts from the liberal research and advocacy group Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Zoe Neuberger and Robert Greenstein, said Monday that the cuts could mean turning away as many as 475,000 people from the Women, Infants and Children program if food prices continue to rise.

Nope, there is no way that Republicans are engaged in any kind of class warfare what so ever. Just as tax cuts create jobs these cuts will motivate those babies to get off their lazy cribs and start looking for work. Conservatism has no historical base – the Magna Carta, Tom Paine’s Common Sense, the U.S. Constitution, the theories of John Maynard Keynes, the political theories of John Locke, the political philosophies of John Stuart Mill, Charles de Montesquieu, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Thomas Jefferson were all great minds and events of liberalism ( I’m not counting Edmund Burke as a conservative, even though conservatives frequently cite him as an influence. Because he was a kind of hybrid between liberalism and the kind of conservatism Northern Republicans practiced back in the 1960s). So without any foundation to be found throughout the progress of western civilization ( except maybe monarchies and authoritarian despots), conservatism just pulls wacky stuff out of its ass. With all the problems that need solving the only solutions Republicans can come up with is the Ryan boondoggle and taking food from the poor. So when conservative presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty says this in between spinning like a top,

“Someone has to finally stand up and level with the American people,” Pawlenty said at a rally in Des Moines. “Someone has to lead…. Leadership in a time of crisis isn’t about telling people what you think they want to hear; it’s about telling the truth.”

Americans who are tired of being conned know its time to get the shovel and the wheel barrel.

But even impartial observers of Pawlenty’s record as Minnesota governor say that he exaggerates his fiscal accomplishments and glosses over the $5 billion deficit he left his successor, one of the biggest shortfalls in the country.

And that is after he used Obama’s federal stimulus money to pay the state’s bills.

More Solid Proof That Obamacare Is Working

Recent data provided by the nation’s largest health insurance companies reveals that a provision of the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – is bringing big numbers of the uninsured into the health care insurance system.

And they are precisely the uninsured that we want– the young people who tend not to get sick.

The provision of the law that permits young adults under 26, long the largest uninsured demographic in the country, to remain on their parents’ health insurance program resulted in at least 600,000 newly insured Americans during the first quarter of 2011.

More at the link. Easy prediction, ObamaCare will be as popular as Medicare in five years. A lot of the usual suspects did not like Medicare when it was first passed in the 1960s.

Figures, Glenn Beck Fails Bible Study.

Niall Ferguson and the brain-dead American right The British historian owes his celebrity here to the absence of authentic American conservative intellectuals

The right-wing British historian Niall Ferguson seems to have conquered America: pushing his latest perishable book, “Civilization,” this one based on the trendy and quickly dated conceit of the six (or is it seven?) “killer apps” of Western civilization; writing cover stories for Newsweek; debating foreign policy on TV with Zbigniew Brzezinski; and pouting and snarling his way through a debate about economics with Paul Krugman, Jeff Madrick and Bill Bradley. If you missed his Chicago lecture on the imminent decline of America, then at least on YouTube you can still catch him warning before the 2008 presidential election that “Islamic jihadists” and “Europeans” were hoping that John McCain would lose. Recently, it was announced that Henry Kissinger has made him his official biographer, perhaps in the hope that Ferguson, who thinks that the Kaiser should have been allowed to crush Europe, will be equally kind to Kissinger’s reputation. Time magazine in 2004 named Ferguson one of the 100 most influential people in the world, which might help to explain the condition of the world.

“The Elite Turns Against Obama,” screamed a recent headline in the Daily Beast.

According to former New York Daily News gossip columnist Lloyd Grove, the evidence that “the intelligentsia” was turning against Obama consisted of a panel at the Aspen Institute, where the right-wing New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman agreed with Ferguson that the Democrats are hurting America. Ferguson, described as a “dashing Brit” by gossip columnist Grove, praised Republican congressman Paul Ryan’s scheme for abolishing Social Security and Medicare, a plan so callous and unpopular that other Republicans have scrambled to distance themselves from it. The Dashing Brit then told the assembled plutocrats that unemployed Americans are lazy: “The curse of long term unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for long periods of time.” On an earlier occasion he created a stir when he compared Barack Obama to the lascivious cartoon character Fritz the Cat, because, he said, both are “black and lucky.”

Niall Ferguson is probably a pretty obscure figure to most Americans. It is one of those Brits the Right like to use on their web magazines and blogs to supposedly add some intellectual weight to their latest screed. That phenomenon itself is strange considering the Ferguson’s lazy approach to scholarly research and his racism. The latter would not seem to fit in with the Right’s attempt to cast itself as the new improved conservatism that will not indulge racism anymore. Ferguson has nothing but very selective memories of western colonialism. Since many US conservatives do as well, one can see part of the mutual attraction.

Antique World Map circa 1714 – Conservatives Need to Learn That Economics is Not a Religion

Antique World Map circa 1714

As Republican governors continue to take from the middle-class to give to profitable corporations – Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Conservative Legislators Pass Delta Airlines Subsidy After they Receive Kick-backs – it is a reminder of no matter how badly conservative economic policies fail, conservatives believe that those policies are the best policies for every American. When Republicans do their own studies they tend to cherry pick or just plain falsify the data. A case in point is a study done by the right-wing Tax Foundation found that red states do pay less in taxes. Not coincidentally low wage workers up though the median income level ( a household income of around $52k) rely directly or indirectly on federal largesse to educate their children, provide for clean water, pay for part of grandma’s assisted living costs at the retirement home, build highways, repair bridges and pay teachers. Welfare-queen states

Okay. Just for the hell of it, let’s go after the debt and the deficit the Republican way. No new taxes. All through cutbacks. And I’ll confine my quibbles to a few parenthetical asides.

To begin, then: We’re broke! We can’t afford any more taxes! (Well, America’s 400 wealthiest taxpayers certainly can. In 1955, according to the Campaign for America’s Future, the country’s 400 wealthiest taxpayers had an average income of $13.3 million (in 2008 dollars) and paid 51.2 percent of that in federal income taxes. In 2008, according to IRS calculations, they had an average income of $270.5 million and paid 18 percent of that in federal income taxes. And in 1955, by the way, we could afford to pave roads.)

Republicans’ concern over the growth of government is moral as well as fiscal. To quote the House Republican “road map” that accompanied the release of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, “Americans were known and admired everywhere for their hopeful determination to assume responsibility for the quality of their own lives; to rely on their own work and initiative….. But over time, Americans have been lured into viewing government ….. as their main source of support; they have been drawn toward depending on the public sector for growing shares of their material and personal well-being. The trend drains individual initiative and personal responsibility.”

No sentimental bromides are required. Most Americans try to work and get through life without asking for help. When they do they generally need it. If a completely private system of social insurance – such as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid – would provide for our most basic needs, certainly nothing is stopping Exxon or the Koch brothers for creating and maintaining such a system. Des Ryan want to imply that Americans on Social Security – an insurance program they paid into is making Americans lazy and irresponsible. Ryan is the personification of Bush-Regan supply-side magic. While there is probably some rational brain cells telling him and other Republicans that reducing revenues from any source for any program will result in soul grinding misery for most Americans, the part of their brains that dominates their thinking is the beliefs part. They believe even though federal expenditures are 18.5% of GDP(2008) that somehow we can pay those off or make enough cuts to match federal revenues of the current 14.4 percent of GDP. Wait a minute, the recession will not last forever right? More people working plus higher corporate profits once the recession is fully over will generate enough revenue to really bring down expenditures as part of GDP – so we still don’t need no stink’n revenue ( tax increases). Reasonable projections – not Ryan and the Rights pie in the sky projections – put expenditures at 25.4% of GDP by 2050 if we leave the current revenue trends in place. If we rise some revenue federal expenditures will be about 18.2% of GDP by 2050. The financial elite in red states will be thrilled if we do not rise revenue. because we’ll have more ‘hard” decisions and “shared” sacrifice. Meaning the social safety net will have larger holes and a defacto conservative death panel that Republicans can claim they had nothing to do with – it was just the economics don’t ya know.

Now, that list has surely changed since the middle of the last decade — Virginia has probably gotten richer and paid in more; Nevada has surely gotten poorer and paid in less. But today’s ranking are probably much the same, unless farming and manufacturing suddenly pay more than finance and high-tech. Even allowing for cyclical variations and political transformations, it’s patently clear that the states that drain the government also constitute the Republicans’ electoral base, while those that produce the wealth constitute the Democrats’. Far from strengthening our moral character, the red states plunge us into the slough of dependency.

If we’re really serious, then, about reducing the deficit entirely through cutbacks, the solution is clear: Cut off these slacker states.

Red state voters are not all Republicans. Unfortunately even those folks have to suffer from policies they do not support so while it makes for good snark, not a good idea not to look out for America’s working class regardless of where they live. Yes, even though obviously many are willing to vote against their own economic interests and make the grandparents pay with an ever dwindling quality of life. Many Democrats and Democrat leaning independents are frustrated that on the facts we should be the runaway winners of this debate. The problem, as it was during the Reagan years and certainly during the Bush 43 era, is that we’re debating the facts and basic humanity, while Republicans are wrapped up in the fact proof nutshell of their beliefs. They really do not care if America’s political and economic power is concentrated in the hands of an elite. For people who talk a lot about freedom and individual empowerment, Republicans and their tea nut brethren sure are big on giving their freedom and individualism to the modern equivalent of plantation owners.

The modern plantation - the fruits of supply-side economics

An editorial in the WSJ – Israel’s 1967 Borders Aren’t Defensible

Unfortunately, even President Barack Obama appears to have been influenced by this thinking. He asserted in a speech Thursday that Israel’s future borders with a Palestinian state “should be based on the 1967 lines,” a position he tried to offset by offering “mutually agreed land swaps.” Mr. Abbas has said many times that any land swaps would be minuscule.

What can one do about people who think like Mr. Dore Gold. He acknowledges the president stipulated the 1967 lines with certain land swaps, but dismisses the acknowledgement. Needless to say the Right is linking to that editorial like it was writ in granite. While it clearly plays fast and loose with the facts, it also lacks the most basic logic, Israel Doesn’t Need the West Bank To Be Secure

When everything is said and done, how important is the West Bank to Israel’s defense?

To answer the question, our best starting point is the situation before the 1967 war. At that time, the Arab armed forces surrounding Israel outnumbered the Jewish state’s army by a ratio of 3-to-1. Not only was the high ground in Judea and Samaria in Jordanian hands, but Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem was bordered on three sides by hostile territory. Arab armies even stood within 14 miles of Tel Aviv. Still, nobody back then engaged in the sort of fretting we hear today about “defensible borders,” let alone Abba Eban’s famous formulation, “Auschwitz borders.” When the time came, it took the Israel Defense Forces just six days to crush all its enemies combined.

Since then, of course, much has happened. Though relations with Egypt and Jordan may not always be rosy, both countries have left “the circle of enmity,” as the Hebrew expression goes. Following two-and-a-half decades of astonishing growth, Israel’s GDP is now larger than those of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt combined. As to military power, suffice it to say that Israel is the world’s fifth-largest exporter of arms.

Syria, Israel’s main remaining hostile neighbor, has never on its own been strong enough to seriously threaten Israel. While Damascus is getting some weapons from Iran, the latter is no substitute for the genuine superpower patron that Syria had in the old Soviet Union.

Overall, therefore, Israel’s position is much stronger than it was at any time in the past. So how does the West Bank fit into this picture?

One of the main threats that Israel faces today is from ballistic missiles. Yet everybody knows that holding on to the West Bank won’t help Israel defend itself against missiles coming from Syria or Iran. Even the most extreme hawk would concede this point.

As far as the threat of a land invasion, it is of course true that the distance between the former Green Line and the Mediterranean is very small — at its narrowest point, what is sometimes affectionately known as “Old” Israel is just nine miles wide. As was noted before, it is also true that the West Bank comprises the high ground and overlooks Israel’s coastal plain.

On the other hand, since the West Bank itself is surrounded by Israel on three sides, anybody who tries to enter it from the east is sticking his head into a noose. To make things worse for a prospective invader, the ascent from the Jordan Valley into the heights of Judea and Samaria is topographically one of the most difficult on earth. Just four roads lead from east to west, all of which are easily blocked by air strikes or by means of precision-guided missiles. To put the icing on the cake, Israeli forces stationed in Jerusalem could quickly cut off the only road connecting the southern portion of the West Bank with its northern section in the event of an armed conflict.

The similarity between the Right’s hyperbolic paranoia about Israel is composed of the same paranoia they feed the American public about Iraq. Than and especially now, a rational person wonders how a nation with a poorly trained, poorly manned and poorly equipped military ( no real air force to speak of) such as Iraq’s – which could not knock down even one American jet in twelve years of enforcing the no-fly zone, could be an “existential” threat to America. Israel has the military wherewith-all to level large swaths of Lebanon rubble. Now we’re all supposed to be afraid that Israel will not be able to defend itself.

Damage to Lebanon – scroll down to the orange damage maps on the right side. Note the blue dots. leave out whether this war damage was necessary or not and just concentrate on Israel’s incredible ability to inflict huge infrastructure and human damage on any opponent. One can be a supporter of Israel and  refuse to buy into the unhinged fears propagated by America and Israel’s far Right about their ability to defend themselves.

This week in the War on Women

    Speaking of people who are still assholes, remember Carl Wimmer, the Utah legislator who tried to criminalize miscarriages? He’s baaaaaaaaack:

A state lawmaker is opening a bill file to keep federal officials from routing money to Planned Parenthood through Utah state agencies. But his opponents say the measure could cause serious harm.

Agencies like the Utah Department of Health are given federal money designated to go to Planned Parenthood. Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, says that’s what his bill is trying to stop.

Of course, cutting off federal funds to the state agencies won’t cut off federal funding of abortion because—say it with me now—federal funding of abortion is already prohibited. But Carl’s latest brainstorm will cut off funding for abstinence programs, rape prevention, and a lab that tests for chlamydia. Way to go, Carl.

The meme that the federal government is handing out abortion checks ranks up there with birtherism and ACA death panels. The lie is just as big. Just as crazy and the facts are easy enough to check. Do wing-nut computers have hardware issues which prevent them from connecting to the US Department of Health or the Congressional record. The Right’s desire to punish victims of rape is nothing new. These are the same people who droll over stories in which some Muslim woman is treated inhumanely, yet the Right’s desire to punish victims of rape is like something out of the Taliban’s cultural recipe book.

Low Tide Boats Scotland wallpaper – Senate Republican Could Be Impeached by Their Own Benchmarks

Low Tide Boats Scotland wallpaper

After Calling Judicial Filibusters Unconstitutional, Republican Senators Line Up Behind Judicial Filibuster

The Senate just voted by a 52-43 majority to end the GOP’s filibuster of Professor Goodwin Liu’s nomination to a federal appeal court — which, in the bizarro world that is the U.S. Senate, means that Liu’s nomination will not move forward. The vote was entirely along party lines, except that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) voted “yea” and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted “nay.”

Just six short years ago, Republicans sang a very different tune when it came to judicial filibusters. Senate Republicans almost unanimously declared filibusters of judicial nominees to be a horrific betrayal of their constitutional role.

Tom Coburn (R-OK): “If you look at the Constitution, it says the president is to nominate these people, and the Senate is to advise and consent.  That means you got to have a vote if they come out of committee.  And that happened for 200 years.”

John Cornyn (R-TX): “We have a Democratic leader defeated, in part, as I said, because I believe he was identified with this obstructionist practice, this unconstitutional use of the filibuster to deny the president his judicial nominations.

Mike Crapo (R-ID): “Until this Congress, not one of the President’s nominees has been successfully filibustered in the Senate of the United States because of the understanding of the fact that the Constitution gives the President the right to a vote.”

Chuck Grassley (R-IA): “It would be a real constitutional crisis if we up the confirmation of judges from 51 to 60, and that’s essentially what we’d be doing if the Democrats were going to filibuster.”

Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “The Constitution of the United States is at stake.  Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges.  The Senate is empowered to give advice and consent.  But my Democratic colleagues want to change the rules.  They want to reinterpret the Constitution to require a supermajority for confirmation.”

Two things should stand out. One is that the Gang of 14 ( Democrats and Republicans) agreed not to use the filibuster to stop judicial nominees in 2005. So it is Republicans that broke their word. No surprise there, Republicans generally think Honor is just a brand of hotdogs or something to swipe their shoes with. The second astounding aspect of Republican behavior in invoking the filibuster in this situation is that by their own words their actions are unconstitutional. Thus in their own words they have provided grounds for impeachment from the Senate for high crimes. This is a list of just the federal court vacancies who have qualified nominees in place and have waited the longest, but have not been confirmed,

Louis Butler Jr., Nominated to the Western District of Wisconsin on September 30, 2009
Goodwin Liu, Nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 24, 2010
Edward C. DuMont, Nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on April 14, 2010
Susan L. Carney, Nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on May 20, 2010
Michael H. Simon, Nominated to the District of Oregon on July 14, 2010

According to there are currently 88 federal court judicial vacancies. 34 of those are considered emergencies. Some of these are the administrations fault for being slow to make nominations, but the majority are due to right-wing obstruction tactics. Some cannot even come to a vote because of “holds”. Some of them are not brought to a vote because the Senate Leader has done a head count and knows a filibuster is certain. It is possible and one hopes that Liu will receive a recess appointment as Bush did for William H. Pryor and Charles W. Pickering. If President Obama does not start to get aggressive and Republicans do not stop just making up parts of the Constitution, Obama will have one of the worse judicial confirmation records in recent history,

Judicial confirmations

What’s wrong with the United States of America? Apparently we’re not in a deep enough economic crisis, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) Calls For Default On The Debt: ‘It Could Benefit Us To Go Through A Period Of Crisis’

As Princeton Professor Alan Blinder noted in the Wall Street Journal this morning, the U.S. defaulting on its obligations could eventually “reignite the world financial crisis”:

Should it occur, the consequences could be severe. It might, for example, reignite the world financial crisis. Remember how rattled financial markets became last year when it looked like Greece might default? And that was just little Greece and the possibility of default. An actual default by the mightiest nation on Earth would be immeasurably more unsettling. Where, in such a case, would frightened investors run to hide? The U.S. dollar would be among the first casualties. If hot money were to flee what was once its safest haven, the dollar would sink and U.S. interest rates would rise. The latter could lead us back into recession.

There would also be lasting costs to the U.S. government in the form of higher interest rates…How much? Again, no one can know. But even if it’s as little as 10-20 basis points on the U.S. government’s average borrowing cost, that’s an additional $10 billion to $20 billion in interest expenses every year. Seems like an expensive way to score a political point

Bank of America analysts agreed, noting that not raising the debt ceiling “would likely push the U.S. into recession and drag down the stock market.”

Jeffery Goldberg ( not to be confused with mama’s boy Jonah Goldberg) is pretty far to the Right when it comes to Israel and even he thinks Obama did a pretty good job, Nothing New in the Idea That ’67 Borders Should Guide Peace Talks (UPDATED)

What liberal media? CBS Edits Obama Speech to Stir Israel Controversy

Right-Wing Media Attack Obama For Announcing Israel Policy Espoused By Bush, Former Israeli Prime Minister. This policy more or less goes back to Clinton and even Bush 41.

Glenn Beck’s strange manufactured outrage may be wearing a little thin, Rabin-Havt On MSNBC Live With Cenk Uygur: Beck Israel Rally Is About “Rebuilding His Brand” After 400 Rabbis Condemned Him

Amy Goodman on Andrew Breitbart and comrades attacks on two college professors didn’t end to well despite all the dust it kicked up. Just as many are catching on to Glenn Beck’s snake-oil messiah impression, they might have finally figured out that Breitbart cannot advance his dangerous anti-American brand of conservatism without being deceptive. The ‘Electronic Brownshirts’

Judy Ancel, a Kansas City, Mo., professor, and her St. Louis colleague were teaching a labor history class together this spring semester. Little did they know, video recordings of the class were making their way into the thriving sub rosa world of right-wing attack video editing, twisting their words in a way that resulted in the loss of one of the professors’ jobs amidst a wave of intimidation and death threats. Fortunately, reason and solid facts prevailed, and the videos ultimately were exposed for what they were: fraudulent, deceptive, sloppily edited hit pieces.

Just a footnote for some visitors I am getting in regards to the concept that states have the right to “nullify” federal law i.e. the theory of nullification. Changes to the supremacy of the U.S. Constitution and the power of the federal government and the laws passed by Congress and the President were addressed as recently as 1958 in Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1. No state may nullify a federal law. States may not enter into a compact which supersedes federal law and the US Constitution , College Sav. Bank v. Fla. Prepaid Postsecondary Ed. Expense Bd. Furthermore, Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, known as the Supremacy Clause, establishes the U.S. Constitution, U.S. Treaties, and Federal Statutes as “the supreme law of the land.”

James Madison also explains, The Writings of James Madison. Edited by Gaillard Hunt.
James Madison to Mathew Carey, July 27, 1831.

Montpellier, July 27, 1831.

Dear Sir I have recd. your favor of the 21st, with your commencing address to the Citizens of S. Carolina. The strange doctrines and misconceptions prevailing in that quarter are much to be deplored; and the tendency of them the more to be dreaded, as they are patronized by Statesmen of shining talents, and patriotic reputations. To trace the great causes of this state of things out of which these unhappy aberrations have sprung, in the effect of markets glutted with the products of the land, and with the land itself; to appeal to the nature of the Constitutional compact, as precluding a right in any one of the parties to renounce it at will, by giving to all an equal right to judge of its obligations; and, as the obligations are mutual, a right to enforce correlative with a right to dissolve them; to make manifest the impossibility as well as injustice, of executing the laws of the Union, particularly the laws of commerce, if even a single State be exempt from their operation; to lay open the effects of a withdrawal of a Single State from the Union on the practical conditions & relations of the others; thrown apart by the intervention of a foreign nation; to expose the obvious, inevitable & disastrous consequences of a separation of the States, whether into alien confederacies or individual nations; these are topics which present a task well worthy the best efforts of the best friends of their country, and I hope you will have all the success, which your extensive information and disinterested views merit. If the States cannot live together in harmony, under the auspices of such a Government as exists, and in the midst of blessings, such as have been the fruits of it, what is the prospect threatened by the abolition of a Common Government, with all the rivalships collisions and animosities, inseparable from such an event. The entanglements & conflicts of commercial regulations, especially as affecting the inland and other non-importing States, & a protection of fugitive slaves, substituted for the present obligatory surrender of them, would of themselves quickly kindle the passions which are the forerunners of war.

Another Chocolate wallpaper – Today’s Republican Mendacity

Another Chocolate wallpaper

So Arnold Schwarzenegger had an affair. Yet another “family values” Republican caught with their pants around their ankles. Everyone knew about Schwarzenegger’s generally sleazy behavior before the special election that made him governor. While on a personal level I have opinions about the sleaziness of politicians betraying their spouses, as a matter of whether they can be effective leaders it is close to irreverent. It is frustrating that the media will cover this story closer than they will the fact that both political parties, with the exception of the House Progressive Caucus, become enablers of America as a surveillance state. Or that the media will scrutinize Schwarzenegger’s zipper closer than they will his record as a conservative leader, Arnold’s True Love Child: California’s Deficit Problem

Today we learn that he had cheated on his wife and had a child out of wedlock just a few years before. [3] His megawatt-smile denials were pure pap, and if knowledge of his affair had been public it’s almost a dead certainty that the recall would have failed and Gray Davis would have remained governor. The car tax would have stayed in place, no bonds would have been issued to make up for it, and California’s deficit problems would have been less than half as bad as they turned out to be under Schwarzenegger.

Kevin may be right about the revelations derailing Schwarzenegger’s campaign or maybe not. Just going by memory two things stand out. He had a lot of totally unjustified momentum – most likely simply a result of the “Terminator” running for office. The second factor was that as some revelations about his past shenanigans became public, his wife Maria Shriver, who enjoys a very favorable public persona, defended him against those accusations. So he may have won anyway. Like Bush  and his disastrous legacy for the country, Arnold has left a disastrous legacy for the state of California. That is what people should be talking about.

While Slashing Schools Funding, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) Bails Out ‘American Dream’ Mall Boondoggle With $400 Million

“At a time when the governor has taken money from renewable energy and schools, he’s bailing out an ugly mall,” said the Sierra Club’s Jeff Tittel, who is critical of the deal. Christie has defended the investment, saying the mall will “become what it was envisioned to be: an extraordinary destination. It’s getting a makeover, a new name, a new image…and we’ll make sure the sales tax revenue comes back to make this a successful project, get our investment back with responsible partners that we can trust.”

Yet even if Christie does think the boondoggle project — which has been in endlessly in construction since 2003 — will actually pay off in the end, one has to wonder why he feels like the mall is a valuable investment for the state’s taxpayers, but not schools, hard-working middle class public employees, or women’s health or the Hudson Tunnel.

Let’s start with the best direct comparison of priorities: yet another ridiculous mall versus the 6000 construction jobs lost by closing down the Hudson Tunnel project. What are the long-term benefits to New Jersey and the nation between having more educated students ready to meet the changes of America’s future versus yet another place to buy the same stuff you can buy in malls that already exist. Even if this boondoggle mall which has been crawling along for eight years might eventually add to the state’s economy, How much money will the state loose because of the loss public sector jobs such as teachers and fire fighters. Where are the people with and education, jobs and income going to come from to shop at yet another mall. Christie is your typical conservative. He sees something bright and shiny, he likes it, he wants it. End of story. No long-term planning or awareness of the consequences.

Republican presidential candidate and yet another bright bulb Rick Santorum: Torture survivor John McCain doesn’t get torture

John McCain has been on something of a crusade this week on the question of how we found Osama bin Laden, giving speeches and writing Op-Eds outlining his position that it was not torture of detainees that led the U.S. to its man.

Now comes presidential candidate and “enhanced interrogation” supporter Rick Santorum arguing on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show that McCain simply “doesn’t understand how enhanced interrogation works.” Yes, he’s talking about the same John McCain who, in his five and a half years as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, was interrogated during a program of beatings and torture.

There is plenty of material to nail John McCain(R-AZ) on in terms of public policy and political corruption. For  Rick Santorum to say he knows more about torture and intelligence gathering(Torture & the Art of the Gratuitous Lie: Dissecting Rumsfeld & Thiessen’s Wild Whoppers) is the kind of fight only a chickenhawk nimrod like him would be dumb enough, or crazy enough to pick.

If you’re a paid up member of the kool-aid drinkers club you can be as crude and rude as you like. It has been thus for years. Any liberal or progressive objection to said crudeness – which has frequently included, hell is a requirement for being a conservative, is large amounts of misogyny, ethnocentrism and general eliminationism  is dismissed as political correctness. Jon Stewart to Bill O’Reilly: Fox News is a ‘selective outrage machine’

As most Americans know by now Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) lives in his own world. He really believes that respecting the basic freedoms and rights of teachers, police officers, street cleaners and bookkeepers is like budget fairy dust, it will magically bring down his state’s deficit. His Big Government conservatism has made millions of conservatives across the country misty eyed at the prospect of spreading his Pottersville vision for America. Add another bright feather his wing-nut cap,   Hospital visitation rights for same sex couples under threat in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) this week asked a judge if the state may stop defending a law that gives citizens in same sex relationships the right to visit their partner if they’re in a hospital.

Passed by Democrats in 2009, the state’s domestic partnership registry was meant to give same sex couples more rights. While it succeeded in doing so, rights for domestic partners in Wisconsin do not rise to the level of special rights granted by marriage.

It allows anyone to register a domestic partner with the state, who can then visit them in the hospital, make key end-of-life decisions and inherit property in the event of one partner’s death.

Gov. Walker contends that this is unconstitutional. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examination of the governor’s legal brief, he claims that allowing partners these basic rights does not serve “the public interest,” insisting that the state should not have to pay attorneys to defend it.

The registry’s very existence is currently being challenged by a lawsuit from Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), an anti-gay conservative group. The current suit is actually the second brought by WFA: their first was shot down by the state’s supreme court, which declined to even hear the argument.

Walker could just ask his smiley-faced fascist friends to stop filing frivolous law suits.

Ben Stein Watch, DSK edition

If he is such a womanizer and violent guy with women, why didn’t he ever get charged until now?
This is a case about the hatred of the have-nots for the haves, and that’s what it’s all about.
So far, he’s innocent, and he’s being treated shamefully. If he’s found guilty, there will be plenty of time to criticize him.
Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes?
Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind.
He is one of the most recognizable people on the planet. Did he really have to be put in Riker’s Island?
A man pays $3,000 a night for a hotel room? He’s got to be guilty of something. Bring out the guillotine. ( more at the link)

Stein has enjoyed quite a nice lifestyle by way of his career pretending to be characters in movies and television. Perhaps he has begun to weave his pretend world into real life. Strauss-Kahn, as a matter of law is indeed innocent until proven guilty, but that does not mean there is not enough evidence to strongly suggest that he has committed a crime. Seeing that some well groomed well educated creeps in pinstripe suits recently stole around $19 trillion dollars from the USA, one can see where Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s pedigree is irelevent to whether he can commit crimes or not.

Creamsicles Summer wallpaper – Right-Wing Powerline’s Powerlie About the Stimulus

Creamsicles Summer wallpaper

This is deeply strange even for John (Assrocket) at the right-wing Powerline blog, A Verdict on Obama’s “Stimulus” Plan

Economists Timothy Conley and Bill Dupor have studied the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the purported stimulus bill) with great rigor. Earlier this week, they reported their findings in a paper titled “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act: Public Sector Jobs Saved, Private Sector Jobs Forestalled.” The paper is dense and rather lengthy, and requires considerable study. Here, however, is the bottom line:

Our benchmark results suggest that the ARRA created/saved approximately 450 thousand state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs. State and local government jobs were saved because ARRA funds were largely used to offset state revenue shortfalls and Medicaid increases rather than boost private sector employment. The majority of destroyed/forestalled jobs were in growth industries including health, education, professional and business services.

So the American people borrowed and spent close to a trillion dollars to destroy a net of more than one-half million jobs. Does President Obama understand this? I very much doubt it. When he expressed puzzlement at the idea that the stimulus money may not have been well-spent, and said that “spending equals stimulus,” he betrayed a shocking level of economic ignorance. (emphasis mine)

Over the years I’ve pointed out this common tactic of right-wing conservative pundits and bloggers. They point to some research, a news story or some statistics hoping no one will actually read and research that little part they snipped out to make their biased point. You could say they treat their readers as though they were idiots who were not interested in the truth. That may be partly true. Their readers do not go to their sites or watch their programs for information. They are looking for some kind, any kind of validation, for beliefs so closely held that facts would not dislodge them anyway. If there is anything here found to be “shocking” it is Assrocket’s public display of the worse kind of imbecility. He either has not read the whole report himself or does not understand it. he mentions that the report is difficult to get through. I agree that it is stepped in dry economic-speak, but much of it is in plain American-English. Assrockets excerpt is even deceptive. It is odd that he could not include a few more sentences from the abstract he quoted ( all the right-wing blogs who linked to him use the same paragraph). He leaves off the following,

State and local government jobs were saved because ARRA funds were largely used to o set state revenue shortfalls and Medicaid increases (Fig. A) rather than boost private sector employment (e.g. Fig. B). The majority of destroyed/forestalled jobs were in growth industries including health, education, professional and business services. Searching across alternative model speci cations, the best-case scenario for an e ectual ARRA has the Act creating/saving a net 659 thousand jobs, mainly in government.

So even by Assrocket’s experts the stimulus did create or save jobs ( not all of the stimulus has been spent yet. Those interested in tracking that information can go to Checking under press releases is probably the easier route.) Note what it says about states using stimulus funds. Many did not use those funds for infrastructure projects or to make loans to businesses that would create jobs. That is one of the issues with the stimulus and what Congress intended – also acknowledged in the paper by Timothy Conley and Bill Duporz at Ohio State. The authors acknowledge that states used the stimulus funds(ARRA) instead of their own funds for some highway and infrastructure projects. In other words states with Republican governors used federal stimulus funds not to create jobs but to pay the state’s bills. That did save some jobs via not making cuts to education they would have made otherwise. Though in many cases – Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, just to name a few used the federal money and cut teacher and other public jobs anyway. That also gave them, what they believed to be anyway, the political elbow room to cut those jobs while also giving away corporate tax cuts – thus once again making their budget balancing even more precarious than it actually had to be. They claim those corporate tax cuts create jobs, but those states have large corporations sitting on tons of cash and are not hiring. While no reasonable person wants corporate taxes to be too high there is no empirical economic proof that slashing corporate taxes in the current economy will create jobs. Further on in the Ohio Sate study is the authors version of what I just wrote. Assrocket, being brilliant compared to the stupidity of the President must not have understood or just skimmed past since it negates his larger thesis and makes the states with conservative governors look like hypocrites,

Texas provides a case in point. In Texas, ARRA dollars arrived and simultaneously the number of Texas highway, bridge and street construction workers declined. Employment in that sector fell from 34,600 workers in May of 2008 to 28,500 workers in May of 2010. Total capital outlay on highways in Texas (fiscal year ending on August 31) went from $3.38 billion in 2009 to $2.82 billion in 2010. This decrease in state expenditures occurred even though Texas spent $0.70 billion in ARRA highway funds during 2010.16 The Texas government responded to its receipt of ARRA highway dollars by cutting Texas’ own contribution to highway spending, which freed up state dollars to boost suffering state fi nances.

Texas just recently gave yacht owners a special tax break. They have gutted their education spending as well as health care funding for Medicaid ( which will result in thousands of elderly being turned out of nursing homes). Why did Governor Rick Perry (R) not use stimulus funds to simply continue the same average increase in infrastructure spending which would have created jobs. He and and overwhelmingly right-wing legislature decided it best to use the stimulus funds to finance tax breaks for millionaires and wealthy corporations. It that the kind of gotcha Assrocket had in mind when he wonders if the President “understands”.

Michigan provides another example. For the scal year ending on September 30, 2009, Michigan’s revenue from Federal aid had increased by $189.2 million over the previous scal year however, over the same horizon, capital outlays had risen by only $17.4 million. What might ex-plain this gap? Taxes and miscellaneous revenues received by the Department fell by $140.6 million relative to the previous scal year. The US DOT reported that it outlaid $110 million to Michigan through September 2009, $105 million of which was FHA money. As in Texas and New York, ARRA dollars were substituting for Michigan government dollars. Poten and Poten, a private company that collects, analyzes and sells information about the asphalt industry, describes the situation clearly: The lack of demand for asphalt is largely due to constrained public road funding and a weak private and commercial market for the product.

Most state and local governments have major budget problems. Federal funds related to the transportation budget and Stimulus are a critical source of current road funding, but it hardly makes up for the declines from state and local public funding sources

In other words, the analysis is not that difficult. Michigan and these other states used federal money to balance their budgets rather than create jobs. We can get angry at Congress for either not being more specific or not attaching more strings to those funds, but it is ultimately the fault of the governors and legislators if the funds are used to pat state bills rather than spend the money on job creation. Texas remains a great example by not only keeping the federal money and not spending it on infrastructure, but not spending its own money on infrastructure. The Texas economy was once hailed by conservatives as a model for the country, yet it owes its current head slightly above water fiscal circumstances to the ARRA and President Obama. Even that precarious situation may change as the ARRA winds down – which it is doing this year.

While their figures on how states used their ARRA money are reasonably sound it is possible that the Conley and Duporz paper is mistaken in their conclusion. They, like all researchers have to add up the numbers and in their case make some assumptions. Wait, Did the Stimulus Work?

Based on its economic models, the Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that between 1.4 million and 3.4 million workers who have jobs would be unemployed if the stimulus hadn’t been enacted. Three of the best-known private economic research firms — IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody’s — have come up with similar estimates. The average estimated effect on employment is about 2.5 million jobs.

Nariman Behravesh, IHS Global Insight’s chief economist, has a nice way of summarizing what the bill did (and, to some extent, didn’t) do: “It prevented things from getting much worse than they otherwise would have been. I think everyone would have to acknowledge that’s a good thing.”

The  Macroeconomic Advisers is also a slog, but it is here for those interested, MA on fiscal stimulus, the definitive answer: it works.  MA refutes the demagoguery. Like other issues – torture, Iraq’s non-existent WMD, supply-side voodoo, women’s health issues  – the Right has it’s first wave of propaganda. That propaganda is fact checked and refuted. They let some time pass and reinvent the same tired lies and half truths. The Right has been demagoging the ARRA almost since its passage. They were wrong than and they are wrong now, New CBO Report Finds Up to 3.6 Million People Owe Their Jobs to the Recovery Act and Conservatives Continue To Claim The Stimulus ‘Failed,’ After CBO Report Said Otherwise.

One more set of points from the Ohio State paper. It seems as though Assrocket could not get past the first three sentences. Keeping in mind this report is Powerline’s slam-dunk, please, please conservative readers do not read the conclusion that begins on page 28,

The most promising avenue in this regard is to allow for cross-state positive spillovers. This might result in estimates of a large positive jobs effect. Suppose, for example, that Georgia received relatively more ARRA aid, which in turn stimulated that state’s economy. If, as a result, Georgia residents’ vacation spending in Florida increased, then the increased vacationing might generate jobs in Florida. Our methodology cannot pick up this effect.

If this type of spillover from interstate trade is widespread nationally, then the economy-wide jobs effect of the ARRA may be actually larger than what we find. To address this, we are planning to redo our analysis by adding time series variation to the current cross-state variation. Given data collection lags and the fact that ARRA spending did not began in earnest until mid-2009, we did not have a suciently long time series to use this approach in the present paper.

Nothing that I have written here is meant as an attack pe rse on this paper’s authors. For now I’ll assume they are just economist that saw what they perceived to be curious anomalies and wrote up what they think they saw. The above shows that have done taken some aspects of the ARRA and its effects into account. New York for example used some of their ARRA funds for infrastructure and jobs creation, but also used some to pay state bills. And oops another problem for the slam and the dunk,

Next, research on the ARRA, and in particular our empirical ndings, demands greater structural economic modeling. In this study, we deliberately chose the relatively `model-free’ approach for one of the first studies on this new government program and data set. The drawback is that, at this point, we can only conjecture on the underlying, economic mechanisms that give rise to our findings. (emphasis mine)

Even the kool kids will have to drink a lot of the konservative kool-aid to read this and conclude oh yea, we gotcha. If that paragraph is not causing Powerlined heads to explode, it turns out the authors are somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the unemployed and it appears one of the reasons for writing the paper is to point out that indeed, some of the ARRA funds did not go to where they would have been most effective in creating jobs.

Second, as explained in the paper, relatively less educated people faced, and continue to face, a much worse job market than more educated people. The way that state and local governments channeled ARRA funding into different sectors is likely to have consequences for the effects of the Act. For this reason, an accurate model should d eentiate between high and low education workers along with their respective labor markets. Third, we have provided substantial evidence that state and local governments have used part of ARRA aid in a way not explicitly intended by Congress and the President. As such, an accurate modelof this period will include a hierarchal intergovernmental component in the spirit of Bradford and Oates (1971a).

So taking our chain of thought from a pundit from Wingnuttia, So the Right expects people to believe that an economic stimulus, that was required because they drove the economy into the ditch, is not effective, because of a report they did not read, do not understand, has some data that is or should be an embarrassment to Republicans and contains conclusions the authors admit might not be the best is the ultimate refutation of the ARRA. Do wing-nuts have reading comprehension and analysis issues? Maybe, or maybe they are maliciously ignorant on any occasion such ignorance suits their agenda. it is difficult to decide. Are conservatives as shockingly ignorant about the economy as they appear. Well the nation lost about $19 trillion dollars in wealth under their guidance.

Wisconsin Sunset wallpaper

American landscapes

Wisconsin Sunset wallpaper

Some liberals have shown a little infatuation with Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) over the years. Mostly due to his positions on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his libertarian stances on marijuana.
As with 99% of infatuations is better to get over this one and move on. Maybe an unfair comparison but it reminds me of my fellow red staters who work for the government or rely on Medicare and whose cultural beliefs and the way they live their lives are in fact very moderate, yet vote right-wing because of one or two issues. Self defeating behavior at best.  Unlike his son Rand who ended up equivocating and walking back his feelings about the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Ron Paul (R-Texas) has bluntly and proudly claimed he would never have voted for that historic bill. A bill that basically ended the era of Jim Crow after a hundred years.  Jonathan Chait has some more on the history of Pauls’ wacky views on civil liberties, Ron Paul’s Racism

Economic Downturn and Republican Policies Continue to Drive Large Projected Deficits.

The events and policies that pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term were, for the most part, not of President Obama’s making. If not for the Bush tax cuts, the deficit-financed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the effects of the worst recession since the Great Depression (including the cost of policymakers’ actions to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term. By themselves, in fact, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will account for almost half of the $20 trillion in debt that, under current policies, the nation will owe by 2019. The stimulus law and financial rescues will account for less than 10 percent of the debt at that time.

The projected deficit with and without the Bush/Boehner/McConnell tax cuts

The danger now and down the road are part of the Bush legacy, but they are becoming the John Boehner (r-OH) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) legacy. McConnell has joined Rep. Boehner on his knees behind President Obama pleading for the president to make drastic cuts in Medicare and Medicaid to supposedly balance the budget and deflect blame for said cuts away from Republicans.

A high school student challenges  Michele Bachmann(R-MN) to a debate,

Citing Rep. Michele Bachmann’s frequent inaccuracies and “gross distortions,” a high school sophomore from New Jersey has challenged the Minnesota congresswoman to a debate on the U.S. Constitution, U.S. history and civics, The Minnesota Independent reports.

In an open letter to Bachmann, student Amy Myers writes:

As a typical high school student, I have found quite a few of your statements regarding The Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted. The frequency and scope of these comments prompted me to write this letter.

… Rep. Bachmann, the frequent inability you have shown to accurately and factually present even the most basic information about the United States led me to submit the follow challenge, pitting my public education against your advanced legal education:

I, Amy Myers, do hereby challenge Representative Michele Bachmann to a Public Forum Debate and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics.

Rather than some snarky comment, what I would much rather see is the morning news programs on ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC, drop “news” like the wall to wall coverage of an irrelevant  wedding between two European royals and devote that time to covering the Constitution. Heck just take two-thirds of that time and devote it to educating the public about the Constitution and the history of Supreme Court decisions.