As Pawlenty Exits The Corrupt Rick Perry Takes The Stage

Pawlenty Drops Out of Republican Race

Mr. Pawlenty, who had been weighing a presidential campaign for years, had developed a robust plan to win the Republican nomination. But his strategy did not take into account the rising popularity of a fellow Minnesotan, Representative Michele Bachmann, whose candidacy had overshadowed Mr. Pawlenty’s. He had staked his entire campaign around a strong finish at the Iowa straw poll, which he did not achieve.

In my last post about the Iowa debates I was going to hazard a prediction that Pawlenty would stay in the race through at least a couple of primaries as a way to set himself up for the VP slot on the Republican ticket in 2012. Who knows he might still lobby for VP especially if it looks as though Romney would lead the ticket. T’Paw is pretty far to the Right, but he is the natural fire-breathing fanatic that is the flavor of the season among the tea smokers. Huntsman will also likely be gone soon or also try to make a deal with Romney.

By now everyone has heard Texas Governor Rick Perry is running. He and Bachmann are cut from the same crazy mold. Conservatives are as interesting as a box of crayons that only has few shades of beige to choose from. They’re only interesting in a four car pile up kind of way. In that sense Perry versus Bachmann has some dark entertainment value. One the Right’s eye rolling qualities is their ability to believe their own hype. Bachmann on Pawlenty dropping out and why she won the straw poll,

“I’m talking about what people really care about,” she told Jake Tapper, the host of the ABC program. “You saw a big message sent to Washington. They really want someone they can trust and can believe in.”

Bachmann was one of the reasons for the S&P downgrade. So other conservatives who have a deep emotional investment in further wrecking the economy feel Bachmann is a kindred spirit. Makes perfect sense.

The great thing about Gov. Rick Perry is he is to deranged what gravity is to falling objects. He cultivates, believes in, attracts and magnifies the worse of right-wing nationalism, bigotry, misogyny, injustice, wage-slave economics, dog-eat-dog culture, the perversion of religious values and butt sniffing pandering to special interests:

Five Questions for Rick Perry

Despite his mediocre approval ratings [2], national conservatives credit Perry with governing Texas as a right-wing mecca: low taxes, few regulations to protect the environment, no mass transit, a bare bones social safety net, with guns and executions aplenty. (They also wrongly believe, a misconception Perry actively encourages, that Texas has experienced unusually strong economic growth and that this is attributable to Perry’s policies. As Brad Plumer demonstrated [3] in The New Republic, neither claim withstands scrutiny.)

[  ]…As Governor you’ve presided [7] over 230 executions. Of the thirty death row inmates whose sentences you commuted, twenty-seven were juveniles after the Supreme Court outlawed executing juveniles in 2005, and two were developmentally disabled adults after the Supreme Court outlawed executing that group. Do you think executing juveniles and the developmentally disabled should be legal? Is there anyone who you think should not be executed? Do you think it’s possible Texas has executed anyone who was innocent? [8]

Perry has also said Texas has the right to succeed. Here again right-wing originalists such as Perry claim they have the last word on the Constitution. The question of Texas or any state succeeding from the Union was decided in the Civil War and even in a legal suit involving Texas. In a case called Texas v. White the SCOTUS ruled that under the Articles of Confederation, adopted by the states during the American Revolution, was the law of the land – “the Union was solemnly declared to ‘be perpetual.’ The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase (a Republican appointed by Lincoln). This is not a matter of opinion but of the law of the land. We are not a free country in the sense that anything goes. We as citizens are bound by a legal and social contract. I can’t find the link, but in commenting on who were the best U.S. presidents I read a conservative write that one of the reasons he admired Lincoln is because Abe saved the Union. Perry and most of the rabid Right no longer feels that way, if they ever did.

Want to pray for rain. That is well within America’s social and cultural norms. Stuck on a rooftop during hurricane Katrina, afraid you and your family may die, and praying to be rescued. Even many atheists might pray just in case. A member of the government use the weather as a dog whistle to gather the religious extremists to your cult of personality. Not acceptable or even respectful to Christianity, Five Scriptures You Won’t Hear at Rick Perry’s Prayer Event

God doesn’t withhold rain because we’ve done something wrong

“God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45)

Perry recently called Texans to pray for rain, which implies that God steers clouds toward the worthy. According to Right Wing Watch, one of the events co-sponsors has said the earthquake in Japan happened because the emperor had sex with the Sun Goddess. It may be a part of our lower nature to blame disasters on people we don’t like or understand, but Jesus taught that God sends rain on the just and unjust.  Furthermore, he said our love should be equally nonselective.

I have chosen Christianity as my life’s religion, but when nonjudgmental love is taken out of its center, it becomes poisonous and predatory.

 

If one buys into the framing of the drought created by Perry and his exploitative co-believers than maybe Texas is in  one of its worse droughts in decades because Perry is acting like an arrogant and false prophet. If anyone thought Bush 43 injected too much of his peculiar brand of right-wing religion marinated politics into government just wait for the Perry presidency – New Exposé Reveals Rick Perry’s Close Ties to Radical Evangelicals and Self-Proclaimed Prophets

The Texas Observer has just published an explosive new article titled “Rick Perry’s Army of God.” It exposes how a group of radical Christians and self-proclaimed prophets from a little-known movement known as New Apostolic Reformation have been quietly pushing for Perry to run for president. The author of the article, Forrest Wilder, is a staff reporter at theTexas Observer. He’s joining us from Austin.

[  ]..FORREST WILDER: Well, as I write about in the article, the organizers and the endorsers of the event largely come out of what’s called the New Apostolic Reformation movement. And the founder of this movement, the sort of intellectual godfather, is a guy named Peter Wagner, and he’s termed it “the most radical change in the way of doing Christianity since the Protestant Reformation.” Little bit of a grandiose statement, but it is really this movement that’s happening at the bleeding edge of evangelical Christianity in this country. And it wasn’t—it’s not really widely known, although it does have growing influence.

And I think one of the defining characteristics of it is this idea that there are modern-day prophets and apostles, that the prophets and apostles didn’t end in the Bible, and we have them now walking amongst us. And so, the leadership of the movement are self-proclaimed prophets and apostles. They hold themselves out as such, and they’re recognized as such by their followers. So this was, by and large, the set of individuals and organizations that were running The Response.

Perry also has close ties to the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), an affiliate of the American Legislative Exchange Council. The Koch brothers in turn are one of the powers behind ALEC. Rick Perry Pushes ALEC-Backed Education Policies To Turn Texas Universities Into Businesses

The perils of running higher education like a business, meanwhile, are well-known. The nation’s for-profit college system — which targets efficiency and profits the way Perry hopes Texas’ universities will — is rife with fraud and abuse of students, promising quick degrees and quality job opportunities at low prices. In reality, they more often leave students with “crushing debt and bleak job prospects,” hardly the situation one finds in the current Texas university system, which is regarded as one of the nation’s top statewide university systems.

One of the things I wish more of the general public understood about education is that the tax dollars spent are the nation’s way of training workers. Business gets someone who has a good basic skill set and in the case of professional undergraduate/graduate degrees, some specialized skills. Asking business to pay back the expense of providing that training (taxes) is a reasonable arrangement for a modern enlightened civilization. Universities already have a close relationship with business. Which is fine, but universities already provide services off which businesses and workers make a profit. In a report by the very conservative Texas Comptroller’s office the Texas economy receives $5.50 for every dollar spent on education. What Perry and his sycophants want to do is turn the university system into one of those commercial paper-mill type schools where the standards are so low the degrees are sometimes meaningless. Basic economics – when you remove the value from something( a degree in this case) no one will want it anymore.

Remember K-Street, Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and the Conservative Culture of Corruption. They have nothing on Rick Perry – Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism Problem

The Emerging Technology Fund was created at Mr. Perry’s behest in 2005 to act as a kind of public-sector venture capital firm, largely to provide funding for tech start-ups in Texas. Since then, the fund has committed nearly $200 million of taxpayer money to fund 133 companies. Mr. Perry told a group of CEOs in May that the fund’s “strategic investments are what’s helping us keep groundbreaking innovations in the state.” The governor, together with the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the Texas House, enjoys ultimate decision-making power over the fund’s investments.

Among the companies that the Emerging Technology Fund has invested in is Convergen LifeSciences, Inc. It received a $4.5 million grant last year—the second largest grant in the history of the fund. The founder and executive chairman of Convergen is David G. Nance.

In 2009, when Mr. Nance submitted his application for a $4.5 million Emerging Technology Fund grant for Convergen, he and his partners had invested only $1,000 of their own money into their new company, according to documentation prepared by the governor’s office in February 2010. But over the years, Mr. Nance managed to invest a lot more than $1,000 in Mr. Perry. Texas Ethics Commission records show that Mr. Nance donated $75,000 to Mr. Perry’s campaigns between 2001 and 2006.

So a conservative politician sets up what seems on the surface to be a kind of Keynesian fund to stimulate business and job creation. Conservatives always swear government does not create jobs. So hypocrisy one. Said fund is milked of funds by  friends of Rick’s ( one went completely sour and tax payers left with the losses). Why would a conservative even take money from the government for a private business. That is not simply hypocrisy but an action fundamentally opposite what conservatives say they believe in. There is more about the uses and abuses of Ricky’s little scheme at the link. Let me reiterate that this fund is only Keynesian on the surface. It has turned out to be largely a fund for Ricky’s conservative Texas cronies or welfare queens in ten gallon hats.

American Artist Winslow Homer: Some Fishing and Boating Themed Paintings

Fishing the Rapids Saguenay by W Homer

 

The Boatsman by Winslow Homer

Fishing in the Adirondacks by Winslow Homer

 

The Coral Divers by Winslow Homer

 

Crab Fishing by Winslow Homer

 

Canoe in the Rapids by Winslow Homer

All of the painting in this post are fishing and boating themed water-color paintings by he great American artist Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910). I Thought these might be a nice scenic break for the end of summer. I’ve posted some of his work previously here with some background history. There is a slide show of some of his paintings in the permanent collection of our very own National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

Black and White Little City Harbor wallpaper – Conservatives Do Care About The Environment, Debates Were Recycled Garbage

bay lights, harbor at night

Black and White Little City Harbor wallpaper

The NYT, Politico and every other news outlet is describing the conservative debates in Iowa as some kind of clash of gladiators. All I saw as some people with no ideas, corrupt values, neck-deep in hypocrisy throw powder puffs at each other. if anyone forces you to listen to this crop of wretches, thieves, self-righteous miscreants, government subsidy queens, gay hating bigots and hoodlums in designer clothes, you would have a good case for filing a compliant based on mental torture. Want to know what economic plans they stand for? Look up the history of Europe’s most despotic monarchs. We must keep America’s kings, queens, princes, dukes and duchesses in their hollowed halls other wise they will stop throwing crumbs to the masses. Some of the coded language is interesting – 8 From G.O.P. Trade Attacks at Iowa Debate

The simmering animosity that has been building among some contenders broke into full view during the two-hour debate, with Representative Michele Bachmann defending her legislative accomplishments, her economic ideas and her experience to serve as president. She batted away the criticism, smiling at times and swinging at others, trying to prove she could take the heat.

The Reality: “A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Huffington Post with three separate federal agencies reveals that on at least 16 separate occasions, Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid.”

At one point, Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, raised his hand for attention and asked moderators to be included. When he finally was given his turn, he went after nearly all of his rivals, accusing Mrs. Bachmann of “showmanship, not leadership” by opposing raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Strange times when an off the wall nutter like Rick is the voice of fiscal sanity.

A couple more items from this report by ABC News – Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty Take Gloves Off At Iowa Debate

“I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food,” Romney said, referring to the debt agreement, which raises the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. “What he served up is not what I would have as president of the United States.”

Actually that would be John Boehner’s (R-OH) “dog food” – whatever that means, since Boehner the Speaker of the House claimed he got 98% of what he wanted.  Everyone knows there would have been no debt ceiling issue at all if there was a Republican president dealing with a Republican House. That whole cooked up crisis was all about spite and malice, not what was good for the country. It certainly wasn’t about ideological consistency as Reagan and Bush both had the debt ceiling raised multiple times with very little debate. What would Romney have done if challenged, let the economy take a bigger nose dive. He has never shown a tendency to political suicide so that means he’s just tossing peanuts from the grandstands.

It wasn’t just Bachmann and Pawlenty who clashed. Rep. Ron Paul and former Senator Rick Santorum got into a lengthy back and forth regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions, with Paul arguing that Iran doesn’t pose a threat to America’s safety.

“Iran is not Iceland, Ron” Santorum chided. “Anyone who suggests Iran is not a threat to the Middle East is not seeing the world very clearly.”

Ron Paul has a very tenuous grasp on sanity. Though I have to give him credit for not wetting himself over the trumped-up national security threats of his fellow conservatives.

And the last word goes to Romney,

“If you spend your life in the private sector and you understand how jobs come and how they go,” Romney said, “you understand that what President Obama has done is the exact opposite of what needs to be done.”

If there was a national contest for the poster child of clueless corporate handmaiden Romney would easily make the finals. Stephen Colbert explains: Corporations and context

“You see, Romney made a Mittload of cash using what’s known as a leveraged buyout. He’d buy a company with ‘money borrowed against their assets, groomed them to be sold off and in the interim collect huge management fees.’ Once Mitt had control of the company, he’d cut frivolous spending like ‘jobs,’ ‘workers,’ ‘employees,’ and ‘jobs.’ […]

“Because Mitt Romney knows just how to trim the fat. He rescued businesses like Dade Behring, Stage Stories, American Pad and Paper, and GS Industries, then his company sold them for a profit of $578 million after which all of those firms declared bankruptcy. Which sounds bad, but don’t worry, almost no one worked there anymore.

“Besides, a businessman can’t be weighed down with a bleeding heart. As one former Bain employee put it, ‘It was very clinical…. Like a doctor. When the patient is dead, you just move on to the next patient.’”

[   ]…Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — and it did. Frank Rich recently explained, “In [his 1994 Senate] campaign, Romney was stalked by a ‘Truth Squad’ of striking workers from a Marion, Indiana, paper plant who had lost jobs, wages, health care, and pensions after Ampad, a Bain subsidiary, took control. Ampad eventually went bankrupt, but Bain walked away with $100 million for its $5 million investment. It was an all-too-typical Romney story.”

Romney made a classic gaffe about corporations and persondom. I understood what he meant, but he and his handlers might want to make sure he expresses those thoughts in a way that is more digestible in the future. He was giving the crowd the same tired old conservative bromide that corporations are entities that create jobs. David Dayen at Firedoglake makes a good case that the most dangerous part of Romney’s speech was his take on Social Security – Romney’s Social Security Views More Dangerous Than His “Corporations Are People” Quip. I agree but that is still only part of a monumental problem with conservatism and with many centrist Democrats. Worse in terms of overcoming a false and dangerous political message is that a good portion of the public buys into the notion that we better stand back, let corporations do whatever they like and give them whatever they want because they create jobs. Corporations are generally a few people and a small stack of paper. Those people are be brilliant or devious or both, but they are not going to make a single dollar without the labor to make the product or provide the service. Once labor is in place they must have demand. Unless they only make $80k sports cars they are going to need a working public to buy what they provide. In short corporations are a three-way partnership between the person or persons who created them, labor and their customers. Labor can create and sell things without the Romneys or Trumps. The elitists, on the other hand can do very little without labor and customers. The most essential part of the partnership is labor and other laborers (labor is anyone who is non-management and usually anyone up to middle-management, and professionals like dentists) who are customers. Romney and millions of other Americans really feel that no sacrifice is too great to prop up the corporate part of the triangle. The least valuable part. It’s a myth that looms as one of the American economy’s biggest zombies. Shift the priorities to labor and consumers, and corporations will make reasonable profits and we’ll have an economy that does not have too big to fail corporations, and is much more stable in the long haul. Obama started out with a somewhat Keynesian plan that put an emphasis on creating jobs. Now Republicans who are playing at working class populism have taken away all the Keynesian tolls to create jobs. Bachmann and Palin have both said, incredulously, that taxes and regulations are stopping job creation. Taxes are the lowest they have been in sixty years. Regulations are certainly no more onerous than the same regulations were during the Bush or Clinton era. So non-kool-aid drinkers know those prescriptions are worthless.

This is not posted as an excuse for British rioters ( there is no excuse for hurting innocents the way rioters have), but some long-term issues are in play. The elite do not terrorize a society by taking to the street. They are much more devious than that – The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom

I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.

[  ]…Our politicians – standing sanctimoniously on their hind legs in the Commons yesterday – are just as bad. They have shown themselves prepared to ignore common decency and, in some cases, to break the law. David Cameron is happy to have some of the worst offenders in his Cabinet. Take the example of Francis Maude, who is charged with tackling public sector waste – which trade unions say is a euphemism for waging war on low-paid workers. Yet Mr Maude made tens of thousands of pounds by breaching the spirit, though not the law, surrounding MPs’ allowances.

A great deal has been made over the past few days of the greed of the rioters for consumer goods, not least by Rotherham MP Denis MacShane who accurately remarked, “What the looters wanted was for a few minutes to enter the world of Sloane Street consumption.” This from a man who notoriously claimed £5,900 for eight laptops. Of course, as an MP he obtained these laptops legally through his expenses.

Yesterday, the veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman asked the Prime Minister to consider how these rioters can be “reclaimed” by society. Yes, this is indeed the same Gerald Kaufman who submitted a claim for three months’ expenses totalling £14,301.60, which included £8,865 for a Bang & Olufsen television.

Or take the Salford MP Hazel Blears, who has been loudly calling for draconian action against the looters. I find it very hard to make any kind of ethical distinction between Blears’s expense cheating and tax avoidance, and the straight robbery carried out by the looters.

The Prime Minister showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday’s Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well.

He leaves out Tony Blair who lied Britain into Bush’s Iraq quagmire. Blair left office, wrote a book, got a huge advance, did the talk show circuit and now lives a comfortable life most of Great Britain could only dream of. Lie your fellow citizens to their deaths and be rewarded. Spend your country’s treasures on foreign policy debacles and retire in leisure. The rioters should stop their abhorrent behavior immediately. That stills leaves Britain’s elite to explain why their immoral behavior and corruption is making the U.K. a better culture.

Rick Perry Says Social Security And Medicare Are Unconstitutional – Perry did not use the gun in the photo to shoot himself in the foot. He did that with his mouth.

Fact checking the GOP debate in Iowa. Facts and conservatives remains strangers that pass in the night.

Vintage World Map 1626 – Another Day In Twisted Morality From Conservatives

Vintage World Map 1626

Vintage Africa Map 1652

 

Murray Is Chosen as a Leader of Deficit Panel

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, will be co-chairwoman of a powerful new Congressional committee that is supposed to recommend at least $1.5 trillion of additional deficit-reduction measures, the Senate majority leader announced Tuesday.

The leader, Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, also appointed two other Democratic senators, Max Baucus of Montana and John Kerry of Massachusetts, to the panel.

Mr. Baucus is chairman of the Finance Committee, which has authority over Medicare, Medicaid and taxes — three prime areas of attention for the new 12-member panel, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

Mr. Kerry, the Democrats’ presidential nominee in 2004, is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Mrs. Murray, who won a tough re-election race last year, is a member of the Senate Democratic leadership, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Budget Committee. Her selection raised eyebrows among Republicans because she is also chairwoman of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In that role, Mrs. Murray recently attacked Republican candidates, saying they wanted to turn Medicare “into a voucher program run by for-profit insurance companies in order to pay for more giveaways to oil companies and the very rich.”

Mr. Reid said Mrs. Murray, a senator since 1993, had deep knowledge of budget issues and had shown an ability to “work across party lines.”

That skill will be useful in the joint committee, which will be evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with a seven-vote majority needed to make recommendations. “The world is watching the work of this committee,” Mr. Reid said.

While the math fumblers at S%P have given the U.S. a downgrade, the Republicans debt ceiling theatrics have come back to haunt them. The public, perhaps only slightly better at math than S&P, has downgraded the conservative movement. New CNN Poll: Majority want tax increase for wealthy and deep spending cuts. As one could have expected from following the talks and news of the offer of Obama’s Grand bargain, there would have been more spending cuts if only conservatives would allow some little increase in revenue through tax reform and closing loopholes, Obama’s poll numbers look better than anyone’s. We can disagree on how hard who fought for what, but at the end of the day, who in fact looked like the most reasonable person in the debt ceiling debate. If Republicans are the chess masters they claim to be they should have seen the consequences of their actions a few moves back. They were determined not to let anything that even hinted at Obama’s signature on a debt plan be put to a vote. They said they were going to pass the best spending cuts bill available. Obama signs off on a plan that Republican leadership claimed was better than Mom’s apple pie – Boehner said he got 98% of what he wanted. The public is left with the jaw dropping impression that yet another conservative caused economic train wreck was narrowly avoided. If this continues, and there is no reason to think Republicans will get a sane grown-ups booster shot, we could save the nation millions by having an unchallenged presidential election in 2012, as its is already a done deal. The choices are six to eight kinds of crazy or one guy that may not be the next FDR, but has shown no tendency to punish millions of American families in the name of some wacky urban myths about excessive federal spending. The CNN poll also means conservative golden boy Eric Cantor is still tone-deaf to what the American people want – Eric Cantor’s Pseudo-Economic Rationale.

The last good thing John McCain did for the U.S. was the McCain-Feingold law of 2002. The rest of the time he is a semi-regular pontificator on the Sunday talk shows. He has no particular expertise on anything – he doesn’t even know how many homes he owns. Has nothing of real value to contribute to the public discourse. Oh, wait, that’s it. Such qualities make him the perfect conservative and darling of the Beltway press. There is one good thing to be said of this dinosaur of empty-headedness, he looks good compared to some of his constituents, McCain heckled by Tea Partiers over ‘Agenda 21′

It’s angry Tea Party town hall month in America and, in Arizona yesterday, Senator John McCain got a taste of the kind of crazy that colored Colorado’s gubernatorial race last year. The longtime public servant and one-time GOP presidential nominee was called out of touch by Tea Partiers who were shocked McCain didn’t know about United Nations “Agenda 21,” a plan that will see a world government take over the United States by wresting control of its farms.

“First our firearms, then our farms,” one of the Tea Partiers called out, amid the hullabaloo, according to the Arizona Republic.

Baffled, McCain said no Congress would allow that to happen but few cared to hear it.

Media Matters and Think Progress have full-time staffs to keep track on and research all the myths and conspiracy theories these conservative dip sticks come up with and they’ll never keep up. As soon as one is exposed another takes its place. Conservatives must carry them like sleeping spores. It is just a matter of the right amount of moisture, heat and state of mind, than another piece of crackery comes to life. That McCain has to personally put up with this craziness is small comeuppance for the disastrous policies he has supported over the years, from which millions of Americans have suffered as a result.

National Review: Obama Secretly Supports Violent London Rioters

Violent riots have swept London all week. The Washington Post reports that last night, “Rampant looting and raging fires engulfed swaths of London on Monday as the wave of civil unrest that has gripped this sprawling capital escalated sharply.” Tonight, 16,000 police officers will take the streets to try to control the situation.

This morning in the National Review, Stanley Kurtz suggests that President Obama privately supports the violent protesters. Here’s how Kurtz makes his case:

The London riots have already kicked off the latest version of the seemingly never-ending debate over whether such events should be seen primarily as political protests by the powerless, or as out-and-out lawbreaking and vandalism. Back in 1992, Obama clearly leaned toward the former.

I found the press release Obama issued to get Project Vote rolling, in the ACORN archives at the Wisconsin Historical Society… Said Obama in 1992: “The Los Angeles riots reflect a deep distrust and disaffection with the existing power pattern in our society.” That’s Alinsky-speak for “We’ve got to use the power of the angry underclass to put capitalism in check.” […]

I certainly don’t think President Obama would openly speak about events in London the way he spoke about the L.A. riots nineteen years ago. What he thinks to himself is another matter.

What better way to figure out what Obama thinks about the riots in London than sifting through 20-year-old press releases in the ACORN archive?

Kurtz didn’t let the fact that nothing in the ACORN archive even begins to support the conclusion that Obama supports people who are burning down buildings and smashing store windows in London. He simply translates the press release into “Alinsky-speak” and the logic of his conspiracy theory is complete.

I’ll get to some specifics about the London riots in a moment. It appears that like many such phenomenon they started out as a mix of genuine protesters who had no intention of doing any property damage or cause harm to any persons. Like the L.A. riots those few legitimate protesters were over shadowed by people who used events as an excuse to riot. This is one of the reasons I’m not big on street protesting. Your perfectly legitimate agenda is easily compromised by zealots or the opposition looking to make your side look bad. After reading the above – see the proper nouns, the pronouns, the adjectives, the verbs: Obama, riots, sympathizes, leaned, the former, LA riots, London riots, direct parallels drawn, ACORN. Kurtz  reads the TPro write-up and he say he did not say what he said,

I see that a liberal blogger out there is claiming I think Obama “supports” the London rioters. No way do I think that, nor did I say that in my original post. My point was that Obama in 1992 saw the L.A. riots as a kind of political protest, a view quite similar, by the way, to the argument now being made by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who thinks the British riots are implicitly a protest against the government’s austerity measures. Here’s a post from a blogger at Forbes who correctly criticizes the mischaracterization of my argument.

I was just casually observing that Kurtz engages in the kind of parallels Goebbels drew between the Jews and the decline of German power. But I really was not saying that. You can’t catch me making obtuse meaningless comparison because there are secret thoughts inside my head I didn’t use in the post which would clearly prove what I said was not what I meant. I would never engage in such Orwellian propaganda techniques because that would be unsportsmanlike conduct. This two young women have deeper insights than into the U.K. riots than Kurtz will ever hope to have – London riots: ‘A generation who don’t respect their parents or police’

Plenty of local young people, of course, were not involved – and many had little sympathy for the disturbances. “I think it was opportunism,” said Sarah, 17, who lives behind the Pembury. “I can understand why people would riot in Tottenham but here? I just thought it was a chance for them to cause havoc. It’s just an excuse.”

“But there is a problem,” interrupted her friend Ally, 21. “Growing up here, a lot of young boys, they are constantly harassed and stop and searched. The people, not just young people, they don’t like the police. They don’t get along with the police. They say the police are no good. They feel like they don’t help them. So what was happening, they were just trying to give the police the runaround. Just to piss them off.”

Both young women are currently looking for work, without success. “My dad talks about his generation, it was hard for them, but I think it’s worse for us,” said Ally.

Definitely some people are just taking a riot that was for injustice and turning it to something that hasn’t got anything to do with it. But maybe it’s a cry for help as well. People are doing it to be noticed, because there’s a problem.”

I watched some video from the networks and the net. There is no excuse for what the rioters are doing. I saw one young man throw some bottles at the police than turn and hit an elderly man who was just trying to get past. I also saw a lot of young people, those most discouraged by the U.K.’s austerity plan condemn the riots. One thing the National Review, Kurtz, Fox and the right-wing pundits could do to get the “left’s” take on the riots is to listen to what the ‘left” actually says. Britain’s Labour Party is, unlike America’s Democrats, truly left of center. Ed Miliband: No excuses for rioting

Labour leader Ed Miliband has said there can be “no excuses” for the violent behaviour which broke out in London and spread to other cities.

Visiting Peckham in south London, where shops were looted, he said restoring public order must be the priority.

He urged the government to provide resources to help people who have lost their homes and businesses.

The PM cut short his holiday to chair a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee in Downing Street on Tuesday.

And this from another Labour MP(Member of Parliament) – People need reassurance that the police have the resources they need to keep streets safe

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, commenting on police numbers in London and across the country, said:

“The 16,000 police on the streets of London made a big difference last night in restoring calm. This is further evidence that the Tory-led Government needs to urgently rethink its cuts to police officers and police budgets. Now is not the time to cut over 16,000 police officers across the country.

“It is shameful that it has taken these appalling events to force Boris Johnson to realise people are concerned about police cuts, as he has already cut 900 police officers from the Met in the last year and the Mayor’s own plans mean 1,800 officers are expected to go in total over the next few years. The police, communities and campaigners have been warning that these cuts were unsustainable for many months. It should not take awful criminal violence on the scale we have seen for those warning voices to be heard.

“People in London and across the country need reassurance that the police have the resources and officers they need to keep the streets safe and maintain law and order. Now is not the time for 20 per cent budget cuts that make it harder not easier for the police to do their jobs.

 

We can all depend on the Right to give us just as accurate view of events in the U.K. as we can of Michelle Bachmann(R-MN) giving us an accurate history of the treasonous Confederacy and the institution of slavery – Bachmann’s ‘Must-Read’ List Included A Book That Claims Blacks Were ‘Better Off In Nearly Every Way’ Under Slavery. When they meet for lunch do the slavery was great conservatives have the same flavor kool-aid as the “Agenda 21” conservatives or the Obama loves a good riot conservatives.

Congratulations to the citizens of Wisconsin in turning back the tide of Republican fanaticism – Wisconsin wrap up, a real victory, and we fight on. The Democratic party of Wisconsin should be hounding the DOJ to investigate election fraud – Koch Group Mails Suspicious Absentee Ballot Letters In Wisconsin

 

Mr. Kurtz may have been enough twisted logic and right-wing propaganda for one day. For those who can stomach a little more, RNC Chair Blames Obama For GOP’s Unpopularity

Old Sailing Ship and Storm wallpaper – Some Call it Terrorism and Some Call it Working Within The System

old masted ship, lightning storm, ocean moonlight

Old Sailing Ship and Storm wallpaper

This pass Friday Hot Air and Captain Ed were bleating once again about how mean liberals are, how conservatives are always civil and about how mean liberals are. Seeing that conservative have their cognitive dissonance button permanently engaged it was no big feat for one of Michelle Malkin’s minions to completely ignore Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild by Michelle Malkin, a slim tome of insults, innuendo and poorly supported hyperbole directed at anyone to the left of Eva Braun . Ed is blissfully unaware of Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America by Ann Coulter. To say that all liberals are possessed by evil demons and are intent on destroying the USA, one assumes is what Hot Air considers civil. Since liberals wrote the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, Ed, Malkin and Coulter could be suffering from a case of oh yea, but what have you done for me lately. Ed got his false sense of outrage up at the general tendency to describe conservatives and tea smokers as “terrorists” over their near success in bringing the U.S. economy to its knees. Hypocrisy, irony, and the New Civility

Let’s start there.  The “hobbits” remark was an ad hominem, and a dumb one, as I wrote at the time.  And ad hominems are at their core uncivil.  If there was any real descriptive value at all in “hobbits” as a political label, it escaped everyone, including the writer of the editorial.

However, calling someone a “hobbit” is not the same as calling him or her a “terrorist.”  There is a specific definition of terrorism that has become all too real in the last ten years for Americans, and it doesn’t mean someone who works within the political system for policy change.

( A conservative leader has admitted that conservatives acted like hostage takers and plan to do so again)

Gee, I’m happy to concede that conservatives have not perpetrated any really large terror attacks since the Oklahoma City bombing. There have been smaller bombs, cop killings, doctor killings and other assorted acts of terror. All done in the name of the perfect civility that Ed’s side always adheres to. In order to keep that bubble of denial in proper working condition Hot Air really should make sure they cc their e-mails to everyone on the punk conservative mailing list, otherwise one of the kool-kids might go off message,  Tea Party Nation: The left’s killed “a billion people”

The founder of Tea Party Nation claimed liberal ideology is responsible for “a billion” deaths over the past century during a raucous rally here Saturday in support of one of the six Republican state senators facing a recall election Tuesday.

“I will tell you ladies and gentlemen, I detest and despise everything the left stands for. How anybody can endorse and embrace an ideology that has killed a billion people in the last century is beyond me,” said Tea Party Nation CEO Judson Phillips.

Phillips, who a day prior likened protesters of Gov. Scott Walker to Nazi storm troopers, urged a few hundred tea party supporters to turn out for state Sen. Alberta Darling, who is in a ferocious battle with state Rep. Sandy Pasch to hold onto her suburban Milwaukee seat.

But he wasn’t the only speaker to use loaded language to gin up the crowd.

Vince Schmuki, a leader of the Ozaukee Patriot tea party group compared the recall effort to a terrorist attack.

“This is ground zero,” said Schmuki.  “You remember what the term ground zero means? We have been attacked.”

He continued, “Tuesday is going to be the beginning of our takeover. And we’re going to follow it up the following week, and then we’re going to polish off the enemy in November 2012.  Who’s with me?”

It is obvious who Tea Party Nation is referring to. The police, firefighters, teachers, accountants, grounds keepers, janitors, road repair crews and all the other public workers and their families. Those public workers are, according to Hot Air’s sacred righteous teatards, part of the Maoists, Stalinists and other radical leftists who are reprehensible for the deaths of tens of millions of people. In an unfortunate trend in phrasing Americans liberals and progressives – some of them anyway – have taken to calling themselves the left. In the US that is more about distinguishing themselves as opposition to the far right conservatism that has become the deeply radical and anti-American ideology of the Republican Party. The left in the US is simply liberals and progressives who can trace the foundations of their ideology back to Locke and Jefferson ( the founder of the modern Democratic Party). That Tea Party Nation is not able to make that all too obvious distinction should tell America how blinded these miscreants are by a hateful philosophy marked by rabid nationalism, eliminationism, voodoo economics, contempt for a Constitution none of them seem to have actually read and borderline totalitarianism. It is conservatism that is undermining the basic tenets of our democratic republic – currently they are weakening the right to vote, they are trying to take way a woman’s right to have autonomy over her own body, they are using shady backroom deals and money to buy  legislation. What do you want to bet that if it was found  a group of radical Muslims was doing what the wing-nuts are doing, the wing-nuts would call it terrorism.

The biggest modern driver of world deaths is simple – The Cause Of Nearly Two-Thirds Of The World’s Deaths

Nearly two-thirds of deaths in the world are caused by noncommunicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart and lung disease which are rapidly increasing at a cost to the global economy of trillions of dollars, according to U.N. estimates and preliminary results of a new study.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report circulated Monday that while the international community has focused on communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, the four main noncommunicable diseases “have emerged relatively unnoticed in the developing world and are now becoming a global epidemic.”

According to the report, 36 million people died from noncommunicable diseases in 2008, representing 63 percent of the 57 million global deaths that year. Nearly 80 percent of deaths from these diseases were in the developing world, and 9 million deaths were of men and women under the age of 60, it said.

In 2030, the report said, these diseases are projected to claim the lives of 52 million people.

Liberals would do something about that. Conservatives have declared that spending on such nonsense is their highest priority. Out of all discretionary spending the majority of tea bags only agree on cutting one thing – foreign aid. The smallest part of discretionary spending.

update: National Review’s Derbyshire: “I’m On The Same Page As” Breivik

Echoing Pat Buchanan, National Review’s John Derbyshire said that in certain respects, he is “on the same page” as alleged Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik.

During the July 29 edition of his National Review podcast, RadioDerb, Derbyshire (who has repeatedly made racially inflammatory comments in the past) said of Breivik’s 1,500 page manifesto (which cites Derbyshire): “The upshot of the manifesto is that Breivik thinks European civilization is under threat of being swamped by Muslims and other incompatibles. A great many people think that, including me and a lot of my friends and colleagues.”

Even Derbyshire’s disclaimer that he doesn’t agree with Breivik’s decision to resort to violence was offensive. Derbyshire stated that it is wrong to “start murdering those responsible for” the threat to European civilization and their families.

Let’s grant that some Muslims, and throw in some U.S. right-wing fundamentalists and some right-wing Catholics are in dire need of some modern liberalism or modernity. Derbyshire  and the NR are still in the that camp of ‘thinkers’ who fell Breivik may have gone too far, but his motivations were good as gold.

Paying attention to anything Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan says is like caring what S&P thinks about the U.S. economy. Though he did say something interesting. No Chance of Default, US Can Print Money: Greenspan

“The United States can pay any debt it has because we can always print money to do that. So there is zero probability of default” said Greenspan on NBC’s Meet the Press

“What I think the S&P thing did was to hit a nerve that there’s something basically bad going on, and it’s hit the self-esteem of the United States, the psyche” said Greenspan

It is mu understanding that the just print money thing can only go so far and then you run the risk of hyperinflation. After a few days of endless opinion pieces about S&P Greenspan nails when it says it is more of a psychological thing. And he added something the tea baggers should find interesting, though most of them are too mad at him for the printing currency remark to have noticed,

‘The United States was actually doing relatively well, sluggish but going forward until Italy ran into trouble,” he said. “That destabilized the European system, and the crisis re-emerged. Europe is very critical to the United States in the sense not only do we have a fourth of our experts there, but more importantly, significant proportion of the foreign affiliate profits, in fact half of U.S. corporations, are in Europe.”

Gosh, you mean the US has a lot of profitable corporate interests in that bastion of socialism called Europe. That really screws up the meme that Europe can’t get anything right because they are not champions of the free market. Not only are countries like Germany, Sweden and France ferocious free market competitors they manage to do so with fairly strong labor unions and public health care plans. According this recent NYT article high-end goods from Europe – Gucci, Louis Vuitton, BMW, Chanel and Mercedes all report great sales figures – Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves

Marcus Bachmann Is Concerned About Looking ‘Gay;’ Michele Dismisses Marriage Equality As ‘Frivolous’.

Another day and two more gay-related stories about Michele and Marcus Bachmann who, after years of condemning gay people and the homosexual “lifestyle,” are now tight-lipped about their views of the LGBT community. First, this tidbit from the Concord Monitor, in which Michele “cut off an interview last week as she was being asked a question about gay marriage,” saying, “I’m not involved in light, frivolous matters,” she said. “I’m not involved in fringe or side issues. I’m involved in serious issues.” This, from a woman who has called gay marriage “probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in the last, at least, 30 years” and rose to prominence in the Minnesota Senate by sponsoring a failed constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

Social conservatives are people with deeply disturbing priorities. Time and again it seems to be more about controlling other adults’ personal behavior than about genuine morality.

A dose of Krugman to get through the day – Credibility, Chutzpah And Debt

To understand the furor over the decision by Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency, to downgrade U.S. government debt, you have to hold in your mind two seemingly (but not actually) contradictory ideas. The first is that America is indeed no longer the stable, reliable country it once was. The second is that S.& P. itself has even lower credibility; it’s the last place anyone should turn for judgments about our nation’s prospects.

Let’s start with S.& P.’s lack of credibility. If there’s a single word that best describes the rating agency’s decision to downgrade America, it’s chutzpah — traditionally defined by the example of the young man who kills his parents, then pleads for mercy because he’s an orphan.

America’s large budget deficit is, after all, primarily the result of the economic slump that followed the 2008 financial crisis. And S.& P., along with its sister rating agencies, played a major role in causing that crisis, by giving AAA ratings to mortgage-backed assets that have since turned into toxic waste.

Nor did the bad judgment stop there. Notoriously, S.& P. gave Lehman Brothers, whose collapse triggered a global panic, an A rating right up to the month of its demise. And how did the rating agency react after this A-rated firm went bankrupt? By issuing a report denying that it had done anything wrong.

So these people are now pronouncing on the creditworthiness of the United States of America?

Krugman is going to ruin the utterly false narrative that Obama went on a spending spree and caused the national debt.

Antique Pocket Watch wallpaper – Republicans Play Games With S&P Ratings

Antique Pocket Watch wallpaper

Republicans held a gun to the U.S. economy and threatened to blow its head off if they didn’t get everything they wanted (Explicitly admitted by their Senate leader) . That is well documented (here, here, here). Now that the games they have played may cost the government(tax payers) money it is all Obama’s fault – GOP Tries To Shift Blame For S&P Downgrade Of U.S. Creditworthiness

An ABC News report suggests U.S. officials are prepping for the credit rating agency S&P to downgrade the country’s AAA bond rating to either AA or AA+. This would be a slight reduction stemming from the Congressional circus over the debt limit fight.

According to the initial report, S&P sees the GOP’s intransigence on taxes as a reason to suspect the country will not be likely to reduce deficits in the years ahead, and Republicans are already trying to get out from under the blame.

S%P’s full explanation includes that part of the reason for the downgrade was their fear Congress will not let the Bush tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2013 – “the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for high earners lapse from 2013 onwards, as the Administration is advocating.” One of conservatism’s deepest thinkers Red State founder Erick Erickson tweets, “Dear Mr. Obama, while you blame the GOP for the downgrade, your party controlled all of Washington for two years & extended the Bush cuts,”. Erick really should cut back on the kool-aid, but he deserves propaganda points for getting so much wrong in such a short space.

The Bush tax cut extension of 2009 was another instance of Republican extortion. In order to get an extension of unemployment benefits for all those people conservatives assume are lazy pigs, Obama gave the Bush tax cuts as ransom.

Control of Washington? From 2088 to 2010 Democrats had a majority in the House. In the Senate Democrats held 56 seats and two Independents caused with Democrats for a total of 58. As everyone, who cares to be honest knows, to pass anything in the Senate  – because of the mere threat of a filibuster – almost all legislation requires a super majority of 60 votes. During the health care debate it was obvious that there were some very conservative Democrats opposed to the public option, dropping the Medicare eligibility age down to 55 and even many moderate Democrats were opposed to any public single payer plan ( Ben Nelson(D) almost singlehandley killed the public option. Max Baucus(D) was not particularly helpful as the Democratic point man on health care reform. Republican pundits get away with this kind of over simplification, spin and ingenuousness all the time. Or they really are the know nothing pundits they appear to be.

Why Erickson’s sudden about face about behaving like an adult and understanding the implications of playing games with the debt ceiling. If Congress had followed Erickson and Red State’s advice the U.S. would have defaulted and all three rating agencies would have severely downgraded the nations’ credit rating – Red State, Sunday, May 1st 2011 at 1:28PM EDT, The debt ceiling really doesn’t matter.

We’ve had a whole lot of talk about raising the debt ceiling in the last few months and the conversation, frankly, is mostly just hot air. The US is most likely headed for a financial wall at high speed without regard to action on the debt ceiling and that howling that if we don’t raise the ceiling we’ll damage the “full faith and credit” of the US government is laughable.

The inestimable Gateway Pundit and its chorus of teahadist commenters are ecstatic over Michelle Bachamnn(R-MN) response to the news from S&P –   Michele Bachmann: “I Call on President Obama to Demand Resignation of Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner” (Video)

Michele Bachmann reacted to the news tonight that S&P downgraded the US credit rating. Bachmann was on with Greta Van Susteren.

“This president has destroyed the credit rating of the United States through failed economic policies and his inability to control government spending… President Obama is destroying the foundation’s of our economy one beam at a time. I call on the president to seek the immediate resignation of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and to submit a plan with his list of cuts to balance the budget this year, turn the economy around and put our people back to work.”

Sure  going from a AAA rating to a AA+ by one of the big three agencies has “destroyed” the nations credit rating. Yet Bachmann advocated actually destroying the economy by defaulting on the debt ceiling. She even had a petition up demanding that the nations’ credit rating be destroyed. This is the person everyone at Gateway thinks would be the great wise, well informed leader of the country.

“Put our people back to work”? Is she advocating the position that government can and should create jobs. That is a liberal Keynesian position during recessions.

So much for the clown posse. As Matt Yglesias notes this S&P stuff is just another political football. It is just one rating agency and as the TPM link notes S&P based its decision on a $2 trillion math error. As Republicans play blame shift with S&P and the real or not so real consequences of conservatives playing games with the economy it is also worth remembering that all the political and market reactions are because conservative House Leader John Boehner(R-OH) got 98% of what he wanted,

The person who looks bad here, in my view, is John Boehner. President Obama wanted to do a “grand bargain.” The Gang of Six Senators wanted to do a “grand bargain.” And it looked for a moment like Speaker Boehner was going to be part of a grand bargain. But ultimately he decided that he didn’t want to sign a deal that would fracture his caucus, so the grand bargain talks fell apart. And yet the little bargain that did eventually pass the House ultimately couldn’t pass with Republican votes alone. So what did Boehner really achieve? If he was ultimately destined to strike a deal with the White House that needed Democratic votes to pass the House, why not go for the grand bargain? According to Boehner “When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the white House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.” How happy is he now? (emphasis mine)

Conservatives could have gotten bigger spending cuts and didn’t for a few reasons. Number one being that the best offer on the table had Obama’s name on it. Republicans choose to cut off their nose to spite their faces.

Paul Krugman notes that the rating agencies have been better at serving the interests of Wall St than being objective, S&P and the USA

OK, so Standard and Poors has gone ahead with the threatened downgrade. It’s a strange situation.

On one hand, there is a case to be made that the madness of the right has made America a fundamentally unsound nation. And yes, it is the madness of the right: if not for the extremism of anti-tax Republicans, we would have no trouble reaching an agreement that would ensure long-run solvency.

On the other hand, it’s hard to think of anyone less qualified to pass judgment on America than the rating agencies. The people who rated subprime-backed securities are now declaring that they are the judges of fiscal policy? Really?

Just to make it perfect, it turns out that S&P got the math wrong by $2 trillion, and after much discussion conceded the point — then went ahead with the downgrade.

This is what Krugman is talking about – `Race to Bottom’ at Moody’s, S&P Secured Subprime’s Boom, Bust

“Without these AAA ratings, that would have stopped the flow of money,” says Stiglitz, 65, a professor at Columbia University in New York who won the Nobel Prize in 2001 for his analysis of markets with asymmetric information. S&P and Moody’s “were trying to please clients,” he said. “You not only grade a company but tell it how to get the grade it wants.”

Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama lay responsibility for the carnage with Wall Street itself. The Securities and Exchange Commission in July identified S&P and Moody’s as accessories, finding they violated internal procedures and improperly managed the conflicts of interest inherent in providing credit ratings to the banks that paid them.

S&P and Moody’s earned as much as three times more for grading the most complex of these products, such as the unregulated investment pools known as collateralized debt obligations, as they did from corporate bonds. As homeowners defaulted, the raters have downgraded more than three-quarters of the AAA-rated CDO bonds issued in the last two years.

This is not to say the credit rating agencies deserve all the blame. The agencies – private enterprise entities – were supposed to serve as unbiased watchdogs. Those CDO’s they rated as AAA were junk. You can get the Cliff Notes version in the documentary Inside Job.

In other news:

What Caused The Deficit? A Reply To Megan McArdle. Another attempt by the Right to try to pretend we all traveled through a time machine from 1999 to 2008. Thus conservative economic policies are not, once again, responsible for any of the bad stuff.

Three connected links about the Obama presidency – Obama isn’t weak (he just isn’t a liberal) by David Sirota. There is some I agree with and some I don’t. When it comes down to specific legislation I still think good progressive soldiers like Sirota fail on the math. You either have the votes or you don’t and no amount of push back from Obama would make a difference. The debt ceiling was a good example. Conservatives ended up with less than they were demanding purely out of the desire to spite Obama’s attempts at compromise. SadlyNo contributes their thoughts- The New Incompetence Dodge – ” Moreover, like Ronald Reagan, Obama is fortunate in the stupidity (part hero worship, part battered-wife syndrome) and masochism of a large section of his base; he knows he can slap them repeatedly and they will love him anyway just because of who he is, never mind what he actually believes in, or how he actually governs.” Some good and not so good points. I’m looking ahead to 2012 and thinking yea, damn straight if my only choice is between any of the whackados on the Right and our the Reaganesque Obama, I’ll vote for the lesser evil. Would you rather have another Kagan or Sotomeyer on the SCOTUS or another right-wing judicial activist like Scalia? And Taylor Marsh chimes in on the discussion  FEATURE: A Friendly Rebuttal to David Sirota (from the ultimate outsider – a former Clintonite) – “Mr. Obama has no driving dream as a foundation, but is simply a formidable political performer that has the gift of oratory, which has become the facade behind which he stands. He can deliver the words, but has never cared about the deeds required to make those words manifest. He is a political actor, nothing more, which is why compromise is his tool, because he has no ideas of his own for which he’s willing to risk failure to pursue. It’s always about him, never you.” I disagree by degrees if I only go by what I have seen since January 2010. If Marsh had written that in 2009, based on Obama’s record I would have said she was completely off base. All these links have comment sections for those who want to contribute your thoughts.

Black and White Busy City wallpaper – Conservatives Spinning Both Ways

Black and White Busy City wallpaper

If Republicans are proud of what they did or what they stand for, how come they’re always spinning what they just did and what they stand for. Republicans said that the debt ceiling was no big deal – On Fox – Hannity, Dobbs, Palin, Carlson, Doocy Napolitano and other pundits say the debt ceiling is unimportant or advocate a default. Now Mitch McConnell(R-KY) who seems to hate America with every breath he takes confesses that he was holding millions of American lives hostage and plans on doing so again – Mitch McConnell takes a permanent hostage: the debt ceiling

“I think some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting. Most of us didn’t think that. What we did learn is this—it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming. And it focuses the Congress on something that must be done.”

[  ]…“Never again will any president, from either party, be allowed to raise the debt ceiling without being held accountable for it by the American people and without having to engage in the kind of debate we’ve just come through,” Mr. McConnell said moments before the Senate vote on the deal he worked out to raise the debt ceiling by $2.1 trillion.

President Obama had argued repeatedly during the last several weeks that holding up a debt ceiling increase amid partisan political bickering was the equivalent of a hostage-taking, with the global economy at stake.

“The debt ceiling should not be something that is used as a gun against the heads of the American people,” the president said.

The op-ed columnist at the NYT adds why McConnell and conservatives will hold more hostages -“Why? Because in the end, hostage-taking works”. Everyone came out badly bruised from the whole fiasco. Who came out a little better than everyone else, Obama. In a previous post I noted that conservatives are divided into two camps. Ones that are trying to spin the hostage crisis as a win and conservatives who think they got the shaft. This conflict in narratives, which also includes the conservatives who advocated letting the economy crash versus it is a crisis and it is somehow Obama’s fault, is still hanging out there in the public consciousness. Wall Street is well aware that they dodged a bullet. In the long term there is no way that conservatives look like responsible adults who know what they’re doing and are able to put the country before their job killing agenda.

If the government is about being by and for the people,  the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) did not get that memo. Neither did the primarily right-wing conservative legislators who act as their puppets – ALEC’s cheat sheet legislation

The ALEC approach, especially in recent years, has been to expose as much of the country at one time to that social and economic risk as possible:

An exhaustive analysis of thousands of pages of documents obtained through public records requests from six states, as well as tax filings, lobby reports, legislative drafts and court records, reveal that these suddenly popular anti-public employee bills, while taking different forms from state to state, were indeed disseminated as “model legislation” by ALEC.

Not coincidentally, bills similar to those in Florida and Wisconsin have been introduced in Arizona, California, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Vermont.

Again, it’s not an allegation of illegality here, so much as it is the inherent sense of unfairness—that vague suspicion that the state legislators are cheating when it comes to doing the job the voters “hired” them to do—that sneaks up on you when you realize that in many cases, the work they’re handing in is not their own.

After the Norway shootings it was found that Anders Behring Breivik was a “conservative Christian” who thought Christian Europe was under threat. Some of our homegrown “conservative Christians” were quick to claim that Breivik was not a real Christian. That specific debate is interesting and reminded me of the way the Right has twisted Christianity for so many years that barely anyone takes notice that they have been claiming their political beliefs are directly attached to their religious beliefs. To not follow them in their political policy is not to be a real Christian. It seems more than a little arrogant if not culturally tyrannical to claim that you’re the only true Christians and to challenge their politics is to challenge God. Very unhealthy as most conservative tenets are. This opinion piece by a Texas pastor gets into this phenomenon as it regards Gov. Rick Perry(R) – Five Scriptures You Won’t Hear at Rick Perry’s Prayer Event

As a native Texan, I’m used to crazy religion and crazy politics. So, the announcement of Gov. Rick Perry’s plans for “The Response,” a prayer event scheduled for Aug. 6 at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, was not a surprise.

But as a Presbyterian minister and community organizer, it’s part of my job to stand up for my neighbors. The use of the governor’s office to promote one religion in a country with such rich religious diversity is obviously unhealthy politics, but — if one takes the Christian and Jewish scriptures seriously — it is also unhealthy religion. Here are five rather important verses of scripture you aren’t likely to hear at “The Response”:

Don’t make a show of prayer

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in public places to be seen by others… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your heavenly parent, who is unseen.” (Matt. 6:5-6)

While Jesus never addressed the issues most important to some of this event’s co-sponsors, such as homosexuality and abortion, he did speak out against public displays of religion. Whatever Jesus meant by the word “prayer,” it seems to have been about the quiet and personal. The disciples had to ask Jesus how to pray, which is a pretty good indication that he wasn’t praying a lot publicly.  What he did say about prayer carried a warning label: “Don’t rub it in other people’s faces.”

God doesn’t withhold rain because we’ve done something wrong

“God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:45)

Perry recently called Texans to pray for rain, which implies that God steers clouds toward the worthy. According to Right Wing Watch, one of the events co-sponsors has said the earthquake in Japan happened because the emperor had sex with the Sun Goddess. It may be a part of our lower nature to blame disasters on people we don’t like or understand, but Jesus taught that God sends rain on the just and unjust.  Furthermore, he said our love should be equally nonselective.

I have chosen Christianity as my life’s religion, but when nonjudgmental love is taken out of its center, it becomes poisonous and predatory. The word “God” can be a helpful symbol for all the transcendentals of life, but the symbol becomes instantly pathological when used as a scientific explanation or political justification.

 

Unfortunately the pastors’ words will fall on deaf ears, an important part of conservative dogma is to live in a bubble that does not let facts in much less appeals to humanitarianism.

The Big Yawn – US borrowing tops 100% of GDP

Conservatives like big numbers. Whether that provides yet more psychological insight in the fetid conservative psyche than we need to know is another matter. One of the reason they like big numbers is the shock value – millions were spent on this or billions on that. They do not generally like to show you what those numbers mean in terms of percents or the value that individual Americans might derive from those numbers – It shocking that Medicaid spent such and such dollars – plays much better than a few million children or seniors got life saving medical care. Such is the wing-nut celebration surrounding these numbers from the US Treasury – US borrowing tops 100% of GDP: Treasury. First, to state the obvious this was the inevitable, predictable or fairly boring result of siging off on the Republican plan to raise the debt ceiling. What did conservative pundits like  the americanthinker, Datechguy’s Blog, Conservatives4Palin, Pajamas Media, Weasel Zippers, Power Line, and The Lonely Conservative think was going to happen, gold bars were going to rain from the sky.

I knew you could do it, Barry. It was simply a matter of putting your mind to it and not listening to the naysayers who believed it couldn’t be done.

I must admit, it is a singular achievement — US national debt reaching 100% of our Gross Domestic Product. AmericanThinker  August 4, 2011

It’ll be some irony when the Greatest Generation’s kids have finally frittered away the nation that the Greatest fought so hard to defend. But that’s where we’re headed. Pajama’s Media August 3rd, 2011

This has to change. So much for hope and change. The Lonely Conservative August 3, 2011

One day after upping the debt ceiling and we’re already borrowing over 100% of GDP. Absolutely sickening. Weasel Zippers August 3, 2011

Cons4palin tried to equate the of the debt to GDP ratio to Obama’s coming bus tour, as in I just saw a report on the moon and thought of cream cheese. The numbers from this breathtaking news,

US debt shot up $238 billion to reach 100 percent of gross domestic project after the government’s debt ceiling was lifted, Treasury figures showed Wednesday.

Treasury borrowing jumped Tuesday, the data showed, immediately after President Barack Obama signed into law an increase in the debt ceiling as the country’s spending commitments reached a breaking point and it threatened to default on its debt.

The new borrowing took total public debt to $14.58 trillion, over end-2010 GDP of $14.53 trillion, and putting it in a league with highly indebted countries like Italy and Belgium.

Public debt subject to the official debt limit — a slightly tighter definition — was $14.53 trillion as of the end of Tuesday, rising from the previous official cap of $14.29 trillion a day earlier.

This is the kind of sly bias that conservatives let pass. It just says the deal President Obama signed off on, not that it was a Republican plan that by putting all the emphasis on spending cuts has very likely further hobbled the economy. Note the 14.58 trillion. Wow that is a lot of money. But in proportion to what historical numbers. It is noted that during WW II the debt to GDP ration was over 100%. It went down every year until a conservative named George W. Bush was president, US, examining a bailout, has boosted debt before(9-23-2008)

Details are still being worked out in Congress, but the proposal would lift the legal limit for government borrowing to $11.3 trillion, $700 billion higher than what it is now and twice what it was a decade ago.

Economists warn ballooning the federal debt could weaken the U.S. dollar, raise interest rates, weaken the already faltering economy and ultimately lead to higher taxes.

Still, compared with the existing $9.5 trillion debt, “another $700 billion is not enormous,” said William Cline, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, writing on the institute’s Web site.

Of this new and shocking debt, 77.5% was created during the Bush Dynasty. Since spending is not above the average of the last 12 years that means the recession, the loss of jobs and the loss of demand takes up some percentage of the increase. How could we reduce the percent of the debt in relation to GDP. We could end the Bush tax cuts. Some reasonable people warned about this earlier this year, Federal Debt on Unsustainable Path Under Current Policies

The latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirm what we already knew:  the federal budget is on an unsustainable path. [1]  If we continue current policies — including a further extension of the Bush tax cuts, which policymakers recently extended through 2012 — deficits will remain high throughout the decade and the debt will rise to 95 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2021.  If instead policymakers let the Bush tax cuts lapse after 2012, as economists such as Martin Feldstein and Peter Orszag have suggested — or pay for any elements of those tax cuts they want to continue — the debt would barely grow as a share of GDP over the rest of the decade. (Substantial additional steps would be needed to keep the budget from returning to an unsustainable path in the decades after that.)  The choice belongs to Congress.

Rise in debt could be stopped by ending Bush tax cuts

Conservatives have decided that keeping tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthy are more important than deficit reduction or job creation. So the above conservatives seem to think you can cut taxes and create jobs while simultaneously lowering the debt. You can get away with some of that voodoo economic mumbo-jumbo during good economic times, but not now. Obama cut taxes for small business 17 times. A third of the stimulus was tax cuts. Obama gave conservatives an extension of the Bush tax cuts in what was another hostage situation – they would only extend unemployment benefits if the tax cuts were extended another two years. So where are the jobs created by tax cuts. The official unemployment rate is 9.2%, but the real figure, because of people who no longer qualify for unemployment befits are no longer reported as officially unemployed. From all the whining a visitor from another planet might get the impression that conservatives really care about the national debt. That given the opportunity they would in no way tolerate or vote for any plan that increase the debt as a percentage of GDP. Those visitors would definitely have the wrong impression. Failing to Avert the Rise in Debt

Using TPC’s new revenue estimates, we estimate that the budget deficit under the Ryan plan would reach about 7 percent of GDP and the debt would grow to 90 percent of GDP by 2020. TPC estimates that revenues under the Ryan plan would average 16.3 percent of GDP over the period from 2011 through 2020.

In contrast, following the specifications provided by Rep. Ryan’s staff, the CBO analysis assumed that revenues over the same period would average 18.4 percent of GDP. That difference amounts to a loss of almost $4 trillion in revenues over the next decade. As a result of these lower revenues, federal interest costs would also be much higher than those shown in the CBO analysis.

Extrapolating TPC’s revenue estimates beyond 2020 shows that the Ryan plan would fail to stem the rising tide of debt for years to come. [5] The debt would continue to grow in relation to the size of the economy for at least 40 more years reaching over 175 percent of GDP by 2050. (See Figure 1.) Even by 2080, the debt would still equal about 100 percent of GDP. [6]

Ryan plan: Debt would reach 175% of GDP

175% of GDP. That is outrageous. As outraged as conservatives are about the debt being 100% of GDP they would never ever support 175% of GDP, right? Because conservatives are knowledgeable about such matters, would never lie and are always sincere? Not really. The Republican controlled House voted in the affirmative, not once, but twice for the Ryan 175% of GDP plan.

Despite the hand cuffs that the debt ceiling deal placed on job creation, The Obama administration is still using what tolls it has left – Twenty Community Banks across the Country Receive $253 Million to Help Small Businesses Access Capital, Create New Jobs

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that 20 community banks across the country received a total of $253 million as part of the next wave of funding provided through the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF). The SBLF, which was established as part of the Small Business Jobs Act that President Obama signed into law, encourages community banks to increase their lending to small businesses, helping those companies expand their operations and create new jobs.          

Including today’s announcement, 43 community banks have now received a total of $590 million in SBLF funding. Additional SBLF funding announcements will be made on a rolling basis in the weeks ahead.

“Access to capital is critical to ensuring small businesses can invest, expand, and hire in their local communities,” said Deputy Secretary Neal S. Wolin. “These funds will help unlock credit for Main Street entrepreneurs to support private sector growth and job creation.”

Small businesses play a critical role in the U.S. economy and are central to growth and job creation. Small businesses employ roughly one-half of all Americans and account for about 60 percent of gross job creation. But small business owners faced disproportionate challenges in the aftermath of the recession and credit crisis, including difficulty accessing capital.

The Debt Ceiling and How To Define Winning

We’re in spin phase. The spin of the House’s debt ceiling vote is almost as bad as the last few weeks of inventing the fake deficit and spending crisis. The moderate to liberal side of the spectrum should not be shocked or angry, and they should not be any more pessimistic than usual. The shoe was going to drop. It dropped and there is some good news and some bad news. I will grant that House Speaker John Boehner(R-OH) really believes what he says. Remember these words. They are the kind of canyon sized gaffes that break politicians and lose elections:

Pelley: You were unable to get your own caucus behind your bill a few days ago. Do you intend to remain Speaker of the House?

Boehner: I do. When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the white House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.

 

I wrote a post about the political Jiu-Jitsu in play with the budget talks and it worked out exactly that way. President Obama offered up $4 trillion in cuts. Boehner settled for half those cuts. He is happy with what he got. What did he get for the people of Ohio and the rest of the nation? He got an extension of the tax depreciation schedule for corporate jets. He got not reforming the tax code so there would be fewer loopholes. The Congressional Budget Office has the general outline:

What Are the Main Elements of the Legislation?

The legislation would:

Establish caps on discretionary spending through 2021;
Allow for certain amounts of additional spending for “program integrity” initiatives aimed at reducing the amount of improper benefit Payments;
Make changes to the Pell Grant and student loan programs;
Require that the House and the Senate vote on a joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution;
Establish a procedure to increase the debt limit by $400 billion initially and procedures that would allow the limit to be raised further in two additional steps, for a cumulative increase of between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion;
Reinstate and modify certain budget process rules;
Create a Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to propose further deficit reductions, with a stated goal of achieving at least $1.5 trillion in budgetary savings over 10 years; and
Establish automatic procedures for reducing spending by as much as $1.2 trillion if legislation originating with the new joint select committee does not achieve such savings.

Much of the spending is left up to Congress or this special committee. The creation of such a committe will suck down millions all on its own. The debt deal provides for adjustments to the caps in each fiscal year to account for funding designated for emergency requirements and disaster relief and to allow additional funding for “program integrity” initiatives. Program integrity is basically stepped up policing over payments. No one likes someone getting money they are not entitled but this by definition means more of the kind of auditing of individuals that conservatives say is the strong-arm of government. Just another hypocritical bump in the road.

The conservative Mr. Boehner(R-OH) and by and large House teahadists are happy with this deal. That’s good because it is their deal. It is a lot like the Reid plan and Vice president Biden’s plan in terms of dollars, the special committee is an expensive and absurd twist. The promise to put a balanced budget amendment up for a vote is the cheapest kind of window dressing. Such a bill is dead on arrival. Conservatives are happy with it and it is their bill, so that means they own the recession. Conservatives own the anemic growth we can expect and us Keynesian know will occur. Brad Delong is estimating ,”0.4% off of fiscal 2012 real GDP growth, with an unemployment rate in November 2012 0.2% above the baseline.” The original Recovery Act funds will be gone by the end of the year, as will extended unemployment benefits and the Obama payroll tax cut. I thought or rather hoped that Paul Krugman was at least exaggerating a little about the lost decade. The conservative who drove the economy into the ditch just extorted the country into that ditch for another five years ( that is unless Democrats take back the House in 2012 and pick up a few Senate seats – real possibilities as of today).  OK, taking into account that conservatives have intrinsically anti-American priorities they will be able to take credit for reducing the long-term debt, right? Not so much – Could This Deal Raise Budget Deficits?

In fact, this deal could manage to do the exact opposite of what it promises — raise the deficit.

If that happens, it will be because a major determinant of tax revenue is the health of the economy. Profits and growth bring revenues. This could damage the economy enough to send tax receipts down again. Although you never would have guessed it from the rhetoric, tax receipts are at the lowest level in years, as a percentage of gross domestic product. Get a healthy economy and tax revenues rise while a lot of spending, on such things as unemployment benefits, goes away.

As we have seen in Wisconsin, Florida, New Jersey and other states with tea bag governors and at the federal level – austerity, the holy grail of deficit reduction – has resulted in more unemployment ( public sector payrolls can certainly be too big and there are times to cut them. This just is not one of those times). Expect more unemployment. With fewer employed expect fewer tax receipts. Less revenue equals higher deficits. Conservatives, in a mental head lock transfixed by deficit reduction – can only see business leaping on the debt ceiling deal as lifting the ominous cloud of uncertainty that was keeping them from hiring. That is what they said about the Bush tax cuts. We’ve had 6 quarters of renewed cuts and anemic growth in the economy and employment remains statistically unchanged from a year ago. Magic does not work no matter how much conservatives believe in it.

The Economist, not exactly friendly to liberal policies notes, Nuts and bolts

As for long-term fiscal consolidation, the deal also falls short. Total deficit reduction of $2.4 trillion is less than the $4 trillion that bipartisan groups and political leaders had more or less agreed was necessary to put the debt on a meaningful downward path relative to GDP. It’s also the number Standard & Poor’s, a credit rating agency, had suggested was necessary for America to avoid a downgrade to its AAA credit rating. And it’s worth noting that now that GDP has been revised to be smaller than we’d realised, debt is larger as a share of GDP.

The Senate still has to vote on this deal, but let’s assume it passes. The uber conservative Republicans have let the average American hostage go, but they crippled them. Some of that damage is going to haunt them as they struggle to justify why they cut less than the ransom Obama offered, they had to tinker unnecessarily with the details, the Bush tax cuts are still set to expire and the economy is still tanking, but no one can pass a jobs bill because part of the deal entails no new spending. The cherry on top is that the nation’s credit standing may have been damaged enough anyway to the degree that we’re paying more interest on the debt. Everyone knows that states must balance their budgets. Besides some accounting tricks one way they avoid draconian cuts is to go begging to the feds for funds. As of today good luck with that. Expect more cuts – i.e. firefighters, teachers etc to lose their jobs.

Who won this round of stage craft? Depends on how you define winning. We’ve seen what Boehner and House teahadists think is winning. Not much of a win when you add up the numbers. What Republicans and their lamestream media friends won was another round of Framing the Debate. Welcome to the Tea Party’s Austerity Recession

Propaganda Trumps Research

For almost a century, the prevailing economic paradigm has held that when the private sector is in recession, and people aren’t spending money, the public sector needs to step in and act as a “buyer of last resort,” running deficits to keep people working until the economy gets going again. While the fine details of “Keynesian” theory have been the subject of debate, in broad strokes, it remains the thinking shared by most economists across the political spectrum. But even as it remains the dominant economic paradigm, a network of deep-pocketed conservative donors has, to a large degree, successfully discredited that idea in the political realm, replacing it with the simplistic and ahistorical narrative that deficits “destroy jobs.”

As Think Progress reported, “Since the end of the Bush presidency, shadowy right-wing groups, many of them formed for this very purpose, have primed the public with a sophisticated public relations campaign to shift the national discourse to a focus on debt reduction.” That’s resulted in what Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent describes as a “deficit feedback loop,” in which “the relentless bipartisan focus on the deficit convinces voters to be worried about it, which in turn leads lawmakers to spend still more time talking about it and less time talking about the economy.” Sargent highlighted a study released in May by the National Journal confirming his thesis. It found, “a dramatically shifting landscape of coverage over the past two years, as the debate over how to fix the federal deficit has risen to prominence and the question of how to handle still-high unemployment has faded from the media’s consciousness.”

 

As noted in that article, president Obama also bought into the deficits outweigh jobs debate. Politically and publicly that might have been the best thing to do when you see the tide of concern shifting. Democrats have so little of the kind of communications infrastructure to fight the of right-wing disinformation campaigns, tactically it might be best for Democrats to buy into such arguments and try to shape them the best they can. This is something that I have shades of disagreement with some liberals about – the power of the presidential soapbox or bully pulpit. Democratic presidents – with no Rupert Murdoch communications empire behind them, no Koch brothers, no Coors family, no Chamber of Commerce – can only nudge messages a certain way. Too much presidential messaging from a Democrat can even backfire. Until Democrats have the kind and size of the noise machine the Right has they will always be at a great disadvantage in sustaining a message.

I’ll leave on some more semi-good news. About those”triggers” – Five Things for Liberals to Like in the Debt Ceiling Deal

The trigger: This is counterintuitive, but the trigger is actually pretty good for Democrats. For all that MoveOn thinks that it would force benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, it actually wouldn’t trigger benefit cuts to any entitlements. The only cuts it would force would be a 2% or more haircut for Medicare providers. And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with most Democrats, has never opposed provider cuts. Not only that, most progressives actually want the Pentagon cuts. So if the committee deadlocks and the trigger is pulled, Democrats won’t be miserable.

The commission: Again, for all the liberal carping about a “Super Congress,” the commission of 12 members — three from each party in each chamber — set up to find the second phase of $1.5 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving is actually rigged to force some revenue increases. Yes, the Bush tax cuts are off the table. But there are plenty of loopholes, subsidies and other corporate welfare programs that are on the table. And with such a strong trigger, it’s hard to imagine at least one Republican not voting to kill corporate jet subsidies over slashing $500 billion from the defense budget – even if the revenues aren’t offset. The question is: who are Republicans more afraid of, Grover Norquist or the joint chiefs? Democrats’ money is on the joint chiefs.

 

OK, think of this as a P.S. One tea smoker put down her bong long enough to see that they didn’t get all the ransom they think they deserved. Ann Barnhardt writing at the right-wing American Thinker – We The Stupid

I stand here in abject stupefaction.  The so-called “right” or “Tea Party” in this republic is being so thoroughly rolled and defeated that I am struggling to come up with an adequate violent submission metaphor that does not involve prison rape . . . and they honesty think that they’re “winning.”  Really?  You call this winning?

She uses some very suspect numbers and suggests that Obama be “removed” from office, but she does get the general drift of some of the cuts, like “not spending” money on Afghanistan being counted as a spending cut.