Fly Fishing wallpaper III – Conservatives Are Masters of Twaddle

Fly Fishing wallpaper III

 

There are many warning signs that you are about to read of conservative twaddle when it identifies the author of the article as a pround memebr of the the wing-nut welafer circuit. In this case a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. The Hoover specializes in publishing verbal manure as though there was a shortage. They push it regularly without shame. Your average ten year old lemonade stand operator knows more about economics, but far less about insidious lies. Which brings us to Professor  Meltzer H. Meltzer writing at the Rupert Murdoch rag the WSJ, Four Reasons Keynesians Keep Getting It Wrong

Those who heaped high praise on Keynesian policies have grown silent as government spending has failed to bring an economic recovery. Except for a few diehards who want still more government spending, and those who make the unverifiable claim that the economy would have collapsed without it, most now recognize that more than a trillion dollars of spending by the Bush and Obama administrations has left the economy in a slump and unemployment hovering above 9%.

Why is the economic response to increased government spending so different from the response predicted by Keynesian models?

First, did this dipstick poser bother to look at any data on the recession. Why bother with facts when you have garbage to write. Democrats saved the economy from tanking even more. And let’s all conveniently forget that it was conservative polices that got us into this mess in the first place. Tax cuts that would pay for themselves? I have a truck load of fairy dust for sale for anyone who stills believes that.  And remember that three trillion dollar war Republicans put on your children’s credit card.

larger.

Meltzer is a Very Serious Person or advocate of austerity or give the middle-class the shaft while we wait for the economy to turn around. Guess what, austerity is not only not working but risks another recession. England has jumped on the Very Serious Person bandwagon and is sinking. Where as New Zealand and Australia have not and while they are not enjoying a new era of economic prosperity, at least they’re not losing ground.  The UK Fundamental Picture Supports a Weaker GBP vs AUD, NZD

The problem with the UK economy is tight fiscal policy as the government continues its austerity drive, along with increasing unemployment, high inflation and low wages, which are squeezing consumers’ purchasing power and weakening domestic demand.

The implication to consider from Mr. Fisher’s comments is that even the extra quantitative easing announced in early October may not be enough to change the momentum of the economy and if economic conditions do not improve more quantitative easing may be necessary. He also did say that if conditions improve the central bank could cut short its bond purchases. The former seems to be more likely than the latter and therefore the prospect of even more money printing by the central bank should weigh on the pound in the coming months.

And more here, The Crumbling Case for Austerity

Austerity doesn’t work:

The Crumbling Case for Cutting Spending to Stimulate the Economy, by Chad Stone, CBPP: Empirical support for the view that sharp, immediate cuts in government spending would be good for the U.S. economy was never strong, and it’s getting weaker.

The Economist is on the case, highlighting two new studies showing that austerity and growth don’t mix in the short term. …

The professor also throws out some of the same uncertainty/regulation drivel that has been pouring from the right-wing meme machine for the last year,

Third, Keynesian models totally ignore the negative effects of the stream of costly new regulations that pour out of the Obama bureaucracy. Who can guess the size of the cost increases required by these programs? ObamaCare is not the only source of this uncertainty, though it makes a large contribution.

Meltzer is one of the best examples around for ending tenure for professors. The only place that would would employ mindless charlatans like him are right-wing think-tanks. Obama Wrote 5% Fewer Rules Than Bush

Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg News.

If you figure in inflation Obama era regulations cost less than those of either Bush 41 or 43. Meltzer probably got his predictions for the cost of health care reform from a fortune teller at one of the conservative debates. The CBO estimates health care reform will save the government over a trillion dollars over the next ten years. And yes it is absolutely safe to completely disregard any statistics that come out of the Hoover Institute. Want to repeal health care reform, that will add about $230 billion to the federal deficit by 2021 and leave 30 million Americans without health insurance. There will be a bump in cost to some small business for about a year. After that small business will save money. Meltzer writes a load of pure crap. The WSJ publishes as an editorial, but even editorials must have some basis in fact. Note the lack of cries for Meltzer to be fired. Note the editor that let that propagandist crap be published still has a job.

In 2010 every tea smoking conservative wacko campaigned on a jobs creation platform. Every Republican congressional representative and every governor. How many jobs have these Super Conservatives created? Zero. Actually less than zero – House GOP’s “Job Creating” Spending Cuts Destroyed 370,000 Jobs. Its like a political cartoon come to life. You have Democrats on one side laying bricks and Republicans on the other side tearing them down – all the while shouting  they love America. You can’t recover from a recession if conservatives are going to do everything they can to make sure we don’t.

I won’t cheat and look up whether Rick perry is pro legalization of marijuana. From the looks of it, he does seem to eat a herbal laced brownie on occasion. Via HuffPo – Rick Perry’s Unusual Speech Performance (VIDEO)

If there is a contest among the conservative presidential candidates to see who can be the biggest buffoon they’re all running neck and neck.

Cain Smears Planned Parenthood: Accuses Group of ‘Genocide,’ Says Its Goal Is To ‘Kill Black Babies’

Today on Face The Nation, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain claimed that Planned Parenthood wants to “kill black babies” and is part of an organized effort to commit “genocide” against the black community:

[  ]…Cain’s statement about the location of Planned Parenthood clinics is wildly inaccuate. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute from January, “Fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, or those in which the majority of residents are black.”

Politifact previously evaluated the Cain’s claim that Planned Parenthood was created to “kill black babies” and deemed it “a ridiculous, cynical play of the race card.”

In 2004 and 2006 Cain led a radical group that produced radio advertisements accusing Democrats of wanting to kill “black babies.” Cain himself provided the voiceovers for some of the ads.

 

Cain finally got around to making a definitive statement about women’s health care rights. He is against them. Cain is against a woman being able to make her own decision about what to do in case of being impregnated during a rape, impregnated by her father or other relative or when her life is endangered by carrying a pregnancy any further. Cain is continuing his own much loved plantation theme. Cain believes that women should be treated the way they were before slaves were emancipated and clearly before sufferer. Cain, the plantation master as president. Since conservative keep fighting the Civil War, it would be another victory in pushing the entire union into the dream of being a backwards confederacy.

Roger Simon is a conservative – Roger Simon: Being ‘a little bit racist’ helps in GOP primary

Politico’s Roger Simon says that Republican presidential Rick Perry’s recent embrace of birtherism amounts to a racist “dog whistle.”

“It’s not a ‘fun’ issue to poke somebody on,” Simon told CNN’s Howard Kurtz Sunday. “It is more than a little bit racist. Not everyone who believes it is a racist. It grew out of the belief that a black man could not be legitimately elected to the president of the United States.”

He continued: “Now, why would Perry use that in the primaries instead of saving it for the general when he’s running against President Obama? Well, it’s because being extreme, perhaps, and a little bit racist, perhaps, gives you good bona fides in a Republican primary. It shows them that you are on the same side as they are.”

“So, it’s a bit of a dog whistle?” Kurtz asked.

“Absolutely,” Simon replied.

Black and White Chess wallpaper- Journalism, OWS, The Police and Unequal Justice

 

Black and White Chess wallpaper

 

Black and White Train Station

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” -Voltaire

Is there a name for days when several news stories all come together to highlight come glaring inconsistencies about how events are reported, different groups are treated differently and how deeply ingrained a kind of conventional wisdom is in American culture and institutions.

To start is the news producer who was fired for holding up a sign at a OWS protest – How Occupy Wall Street Cost Me My Job

My boyfriend, Will, and I decided to take Friedersdorf’s words and use them, perhaps more literally than he intended. We printed them out, taped them to poster board, and headed to the Occupy Wall Street march in Times Square, on October 15. The plan was for Will to hold the sign, and for me to observe what happened and post reports to my personal Twitter account. (Video of Will attracting attention with the sign before I did is on your right, or click here to watch it.) But, inevitably, Will developed sign-holding fatigue, and I took over momentarily. I was standing beneath a news ticker near West 43rd Street and Broadway, and people began cheering as a headline about the movement scrolled across the ticker. I looked up, and at that moment a photographer took a photo of me holding the sign, and posted it to Twitter shortly thereafter.

What Caitlin E. Curran did is certainly participatory journalism. What she thought would be a good segment for a morning program – the sign and how people reacted. Note there was no intention on her part to claim she was doing a completely detached objective piece of reporting. It was not her intention of passing off her actions as unbiased. How could she. It was quite obvious that what anyone would have seen or listened to was what she did, why, what the crowd’s reaction was.

The next day, The Takeaway’s general manager fired me over the phone, effective immediately. He was inconsolably angry, and said that I had violated every ethic of journalism, and that this should be a “teaching moment” for me in my career as a journalist. The segment I had pitched, of course, would not happen. Ironically, the following day Marketplace did pretty much the exact segment I thought would have been great on The Takeaway, with Kai Ryssdal discussing the sign and the Goldman Sachs deal it alluded to in terms that were far from neutral.

So her boss uses her story, but fires her for creating the story. We live in an age where Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Jonah Goldberg, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh all call themselves journalists who are “fair and balanced”. Sure the hypocrisy of those examples is clear enough, but in a hilarious post TBogg – If It Weren’t For Double Standards, We’d Have No Standards At All – reminded me of Glenn Greenwald’s profile of “news” reporter  Erin Burnett – Erin Burnett: Voice of the People

On her new CNN show on Monday night, host Erin Burnett was joined by Rudy Giuliani’s former speechwriter John Avlon and together they heaped condescending scorn on the Wall Street protests while defending the banking industry, offering — as FAIR documented — several misleading statements along the way.  Burnett “reported” that while she “saw dancing, bongo drums, even a clown” at the protest, the participants “did not know what they want,” except that “it seems like people want a messiah leader, just like they did when they anointed Barack Obama.”  She featured a video clip of herself explaining to one of the protesters that the U.S. Government made money from TARP, and then demanded to know if that changed his negative views of Wall Street.

This is far from the first time Burnett has served as spokesperson for Wall Street; it’s basically what her “journalistic” career is.   She angered Bill Maher a couple years ago when arguing that the rich have suffered along with the poor and middle class as part of the financial crisis, and that it would be wrong to “soak the rich” because they’re already paying so much taxes.  She caused Rush Limbaugh to gush over her when she argued on TV in 2007 that all Americans benefit when the rich get richer: “the majority of Americans directly benefit from what happens on Wall Street,” she proclaimed, just over a year before the financial collapse.

Curran did not tell the world or give her audience the impression she was going to do an objective study of OWS and file a report accordingly without reviling her point of view. Burnett on the other hand presents herself, as do her employers, as a straight up news reporter.  As of Glenn’s writing Burnett was engaged to a big bank executive. She started her business career as a financial analyst for worldwide investment banking and securities firm Goldman Sachs. Burnett later became Vice President of Citigroup/CitiMedia.

Would it ever occur to CNN that perhaps a former Wall Street banker at Goldman Sachs, currently engaged to a Citigroup executive, might not be the best person to cover those protests?  Of course not: that’s exactly the bias that makes her such an appropriate choice in the eyes of her Time Warner bosses.

I don’t think Burnett can claim dumb or naive when she states to Vanity Fair, CNBC’s Erin Burnett Doesn’t Think All Rich People Are Evil

We’ve heard a lot about how some banks and companies are “too big to fail.” I’m not sure I understand that reasoning. Weren’t the dinosaurs too big to fail? The Titanic was too big to fail. The Galactic Empire in the Star Wars trilogy was definitely too big to fail. Isn’t everything bloated and evil and stupid too big to fail before it inevitably fails?

(Burnett) Whoa. (Long pause.) The irony of this whole crisis is that all of the banks that were too big to fail got a lot bigger. J.P. Morgan bought Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual. Bank of America got Merrill. Bank of America and J.P. Morgan have really gotten a lot bigger. I’m not sure what you can do to prevent that. No matter what the legislation does, if something is incredibly big, it’s very hard to put in assurances and preventative measures in advance that would prevent it from actually causing massive damage when it fails.

What a convenient case of suddenly does not have a clue. What could you do so that the US would not have too big to fail banks. Gee, how about bringing back the Glass-Steagall Act. You know the Act that is actually pro healthy competition , pro capitalism and protects consumers, investors and the average American household. I guess knowing that is too much to expect from a financial expert and completely unbiased financial reporter. One that has not lost her job for  blatant bias in reporting.

More strange inconsistency –  Boehner Demands $2 Billion for Ohio Plant After Solyndra

House Speaker John Boehner attacked the Obama administration for financing failed solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, saying government shouldn’t pick winners and losers. That hasn’t stopped him from demanding that the U.S. make a winner of a nuclear-fuel plant in Ohio, his home state.

Boehner is backing a $2 billion Energy Department loan guarantee sought by USEC Inc. (USU) for its American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio, aimed at enriching uranium for commercial nuclear reactors.

“When it comes to emerging energy technologies, the Republicans don’t want to pick winners and losers — unless it’s nuclear power,” Ellen Vancko, nuclear energy and climate-change project manager in the Washington office of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said in an interview.

If John Boehner(R-OH) likes it, the project deserves government money and guarantees. What he likes also happens to be nuclear, non-alternative energy, a business in his state and to an industry that gives most of its contributions to conservatives. American Centrifuge will likely get its money. Obama has previously promised the money, has pushed nuclear energy, it is in Ohio and it is election time.

USEC’s political action committee has given $10,000 to committees supporting Boehner since 2010, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
11,500 Centrifuges

In an interview with Fox Business Network on Sept. 19, Boehner said that “for the federal government to be out there picking one company over another, one type of energy source over another. I think is wrong.”

Remember that conservatives keep telling us that government does not create jobs. Furthermore, depending on what day it is or what state or where Boehner is getting his checks from – “for the federal government to be out there picking one company over another, one type of energy source over another. I think is wrong.” I know and have become accustomed to the fact the conservative movement has values that are as pliable as play-dough and as consistent as the wind direction. Standards for conservatives are whatever they think they should be depending on the situation. They have the same kind of situational ethics that  Erin Burnett and CNN have.

They say what goes around comes around – Officers Jeer at Arraignment of 16 Colleagues in Ticket-Fixing Investigation

As 16 police officers were arraigned at State Supreme Court in the Bronx, incensed colleagues organized by their union cursed and taunted prosecutors and investigators, chanting “Down with the D.A.” and “Ray Kelly, hypocrite.”

As the defendants emerged from their morning court appearance, a swarm of officers formed a cordon in the hallway and clapped as they picked their way to the elevators. Members of the news media were prevented by court officers from walking down the hallway where more than 100 off-duty police officers had gathered outside the courtroom.

The assembled police officers blocked cameras from filming their colleagues, in one instance grabbing lenses and shoving television camera operators backward.

The unsealed indictments contained more than 1,600 criminal counts…

It’s OK for the police to shove, block and yell – engage in rowdy protests. It is OK for them to block the media from filming and reporting on police corruption. They also get to engage in this behavior without being maced, kicked, suffer fractured skulls, knocked to the ground, jailed or be kept from exercising what they see as their right to protest. The protests are not about economic justice, but about 1,600 criminal counts that range from drug trafficking to corruption to grand larceny to ticket fixing. As the NYT notes this all comes as Federal agents “arrested eight current and former officers on accusations that they had brought illegal firearms, slot machines and black-market cigarettes into New York City.” While other officers have been charged in federal court with making false arrests. And in Brooklyn a criminal trial proceeded in which narcotics detectives were accused of planting drugs on innocent civilians. Of course all these people are innocent until proven guilty. Yet how quickly the worm turns. The police who were having their little riot at the court-house were doing so because of what feel is unfair and unjust treatment – with that many indictments there probably were a few innocent cops swept up with everyone else. The OWS protesters the police have been mistreating also feel they have legitimate complaints. No doubt a few of the protesters have behaved badly – as I write this there is a running story about some protesters assaulting other protesters, a few protesters in one city engaged in lewd behavior and a woman who apparently tried to recruit a teen protester for prostitution.

Mr. Kelly said that those who tried to rationalize ticket-fixing as part of the culture “are kidding themselves, especially if they think the public finds it acceptable.”

The everyone is doing it defense. I used that one myself at least once when I was a young teen. My parents weren’t buying it and I doubt the public will either when it comes to ticket fixing. This is also a big part of the problem with America’s financial sector. They have engaged in outrageously immoral behavior for so long it has become the norm – hey everyone is doing it.

On Friday morning, on the street outside the courthouse, some 350 officers massed behind barricades and brandished signs expressing sentiments like “It’s a Courtesy Not a Crime.”

When the defendants emerged, many in the crowd burst into raucous cheers. Once they had gone and the tide of officers had dispersed, the street was littered with refuse.

The police who think this whole episode is unfair and the city prosecutor should just call it a day, forgive and forget, might again think about what the best participants in the OWS are saying. Some of the police appeared to have done wrong. They’re going to trial or face some kind of departmental disciplinary action. Wall Street screwed the nation and millions of families, they cost us trillions in lost wealth and jobs. No one seems to be headed for trial much less jail. Different standards for different parts of a society which has a Supreme Court building engraved with the phrase “Equal justice under law”.

update: Just changed out the wallpaper.

Kentucky Fall wallpaper – Money, Power and The American Aristocracy

Kentucky Fall wallpaper

 

Nate Silver makes some good points about Herman Cain’s statistical chances of becoming the right-wing conservative presidential nominee – Herman Cain, Outlier

Mr. Cain has also led in most recent polls of the Iowa caucuses and the South Carolina primary, has taken the lead in Ohio, and is close to Mr. Romney in Florida. If all you had to go on was the polls, you might think that Mr. Cain was the favorite to win the Republican nomination.

But then there are the nonpolling factors, some of which can be objectively measured and some of which cannot, but which would generally point toward Mr. Cain as being a second- or third-tier candidate. Mr. Cain has no endorsements from Republican members of Congress or Republican governors, and very few from officials in key early voting states. He has raised very little money. He has not hired well-known names for his campaign staff. He does not have traditional credentials. He has run for elected office just once before. He has begun to get a fair amount of media coverage, but the tenor of it has been fairly skeptical. His campaign commercials have been … interesting.

 

Nate says Cain should not be counted out until voters have their say. Having said that he also points to why the Cain boat is likely to be this year’s political meteors that ultimately crashes.

Has there ever been a candidate with such strong polling but such weak fundamentals? Almost certainly not, at least not at this relatively advanced stage of the race.

‘It is no small thing that no prominent conservative leader in the House or Senate has sung Cain’s praises much less endorsed him. Add that to the how we know the conservative political machine works. At the local level and even Congressional reps the conservative machine is fine with a few loose cannons. Not so for Senators and Presidents. Those decisions are made by the powers that be in the Republican establishment. I’m not saying – to take up Nate’s theme – that the cards have been dealt and Cain has no chance. I’m looking for signs from Rupert Murdoch/Roger Ailes/Fox News, Bill Kristol and The Weakly Standard and the far Right pundits at the WaPo. So far they don’t seem to have embraced Cain. The wild card here is the Koch brothers, who love Cain and Cain himself. he reminds me a little of actor and conservative Fred Thompson in 2008. Thompson wanted to be president, but didn’t want to go through the grind of a nearly 24/7 campaign to become president. Cain shows similar signs plus some personality baggage.  As Cain Promotes His Management Skills, Ex-Aides Tell of Campaign in Chaos

If Herman Cain feels his management skills are up to any challenge, some of his former staff members think he should have started with the disorder in his own campaign.

Mr. Cain has hardly shown up in New Hampshire and Iowa, they said, spending the bulk of his time on a book tour through the South. He occasionally mishandled potential big donors or ignored real voters. His campaign churned through the small staff; last week, his campaign announced the appointment of the veteran campaigner Steve Grubbs, his third Iowa leader in four months.

Even bumper stickers have been hard to come by.

And then there was that e-mail to the staff about traveling in a car with Mr. Cain: “Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to,” the memo said.

That last part confirms the impression that Cain is used to being an insulated top dog in a corporate environment where everyone is an underling. He doesn’t listen, he speaks and people jump. When he does peak conservatives report that he is folksy and easy-going. It is as though he enters the stage, puts on his act and the act ends when the talk ends. Back to the limo for another engagement. Remind you of anyone. Say a certain half term governor from Alaska.

But interviews with Mr. Cain’s former staff members, volunteers and supporters give a glimpse of a candidate who appeared to show ambivalence toward basic campaign management, which led to problems in hiring, scheduling, fund-raising and messaging.

Together, these problems are at odds with a central theme of his candidacy. Because Mr. Cain does not have a legislative or political track record, his campaign rests heavily on the contention that he would bring proven, executive-level expertise from the business world to the White House.

[  ]…“Everything we tried to do was like pulling teeth to get accomplished,” said a former staff member in Iowa, who asked for anonymity. “I’ve never been involved in a job that was as frustrating as this one. We couldn’t get an answer on anything. Everything was fly by the seat of your pants.”

The argument Cain and his supporters have to make – there are no options – is that he is focused, organized, someone who though without political experience knows how to get things done. The only thing Cain has accomplished thus far is show the public he can promote himself and his book.

Management problems extended to important events. In July, a businessman and Tea Party supporter, Bill Hemrick, invited some 200 friends to the private Standard Club in Nashville to meet Mr. Cain. Mr. Hemrick said the Cain campaign had asked him to serve as its financial chairman for Tennessee.

After speaking to the crowd, Mr. Cain was to attend a private club dinner for a select group of conservatives, who were in a position to donate the $2,500 maximum.

But somehow Mr. Cain forgot, or his staff failed to follow through. After his speech, Mr. Cain called to thank Mr. Hemrick for the evening. “I said, ‘I’ll see you upstairs,’ Mr. Hemrick recalled, where the potential donors had gathered. “He said, ‘Well, I’m at the airport.’ ”

“I thought, wow, good communication there,” Mr. Hemrick said.

Knowing where to be and what to say is not something Cain thinks to do because he has always had an underling of some kind to handle such details. he cannot seem to be able to handle his supporters and doesn’t seem to feel the need to hire someone to fill that role. Sure Cain could be the outlier that lasts. In that case it will be because he was carried in on a tide rather than as a result of Cain’s own efforts. That would be truly historic.

On a trip to Iowa last weekend to participate in the Faith and Freedom Forum, a meeting of evangelical conservatives, Mr. Cain stayed on his campaign bus until it was time to take the stage, while other candidates worked the crowds. Shortly after he finished speaking, he left the room.

Most politicians end up living at least a little bit in the bubble. Cain is already there and enjoying it. If he goes all the way to the White House he might be the most disengaged president since Millard Fillmore.

Income Inequality Reaches Gilded Age Levels, Congressional Report Finds

America’s 99 percent are not just imagining it. The gap between the incomes of the rich and poor in this new Gilded Age is strikingly broad and deep, according to an October report from Congress’ data crunchers.

The study by the Congressional Budget Office, released this week, found that income has become dramatically concentrated, shifting heavily toward the top earners between 1979 and 2007.

And although incomes at all levels have risen some, they’ve skyrocketed for the very wealthiest of earners.

At the other end of the scale, Americans in the bottom fifth of earners saw their incomes increase by less than 20 percent across the nearly three decades. Incomes for those in the middle 60 percent climbed by less than 40 percent over the same span.

Things start to look especially good for the top fifth of earners, who saw their cash flow jump by 65 percent.

But it’s among the top 1 percent where the growth was breathtaking. That contingent saw their incomes spike by 275 percent.

 

There is a fairly ridiculous post at the right-wing conservative American Enterprise Institute Blog that says this CBO report blows a huge hole in Democratic arguments about wage disparity and income gains. In other words it is great that 1% of the country owns about 70% of the country’s wealth. Nothing wrong or unfair or weird about that, right? This is all because those high income earners have more education. The problem with that type of analysis is that we have to have a reglious-like belief that these people in the top 1% have such unique intellectual gifts that they contribute something so essential to society they are worth the money. There is an old Eddie Murphy-Dan Aykroyd movie called Trading Places in which the poor Murphy relatively easily assumes the wealth and responsibility of Aykroyd. It is a movie and a little simplistic, never the less there is a lesson there. That you can go out and find someone with a reasonable IQ and education who would be happy to run Exxon for a million dollars a year instead of $29 million. We have some brilliant people working as scientists, engineers and doctors who make 6 figures a year. They not only create the products that make CEOS rich, they make society a little better than it was. The income of that 1% – actually the upper ten percent is not based on the kind of measurable standards we have for the scientists, it is based on beliefs. Somewhere along the line values were assigned to the 10% that were completely out of line with what most of us consider part of the basic free market model. Compensation based on producing something of value. Sure Wall Street produces value, but not so much that it justifies this gigantic disparity in compensation. I have always wondered by large stack holders don’t complain more about compensation and its lack of connection to value produced. It is as though there is a club at the very top where with a wink and a nod everyone has decided to participate in this ridiculous farce. Let’s reward wealth and tell those who do actual work they should be grateful for what trickles down. As Krugman, Robert Reich and others have written about we all know that some undeserving elites are going to make more money than they actually earn. In exchange the rest of society would get some compensation back via taxes that paid for good schools, to keep our bridges in good repair, to fund the kind of basic medical research corporations find unprofitable. It was the grand bargain. Now we have a near feudal system of the elite royalty at the top and a fair-sized professional class in the genuine middle and nearly half the population are struggling to keep their heads above water.

If you’re pro capitalism. You know that system where work is supposed to pay. A system that is merit based, something seems amiss. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, and their zombie audience would have us all believe that the bottom 50% are the leeches. Just to remind us that we should be grateful for the wonderfullness of the top 10% we have Paul Ryan speaking at the right-wing think-tank of corporate cronyism the Heritage Foundation – Paul Ryan Is Living in a Fantasy Land Older Than Ayn Rand

Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you today’s worst paragraph in political rhetoric, courtesy of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Dickens), in an appearance at the Heritage Foundation, which must be like seeing The Beatles at The Cavern in Liverpool, back in the day. Take it away, big guy.

“We’re coming close to a tipping point in America where we might have a net majority of takers versus makers in society and that could become very dangerous if it sets in as a permanent condition. Because what we will end up doing is we will convert our safety net system — which is necessary I believe to help people who can’t themselves, to help people who are down on their luck get back onto their feet — into a hammock that ends up lulling people into lives of dependency and complacency which drains them of their incentive and the will to make the most of their lives.”

Sentence No. 1: pure Ayn Rand. “Makers vs. takers.” Moochers and leeches. You and Them. But especially Them. But not in a divisive way. Oh, no. The Congressman doesn’t believe in divisive class rhetoric.

 

Those “makers” are people who generally don’t break a sweat until they reach the back nine at the country club. They are very much like the kings, princes and dukes of Medieval Europe who told the serfs to be grateful they lived under their beneficent rule. Ryan and the Right are warning the serfs not to get uppity and ask for your fair share as the feudal lords load up their vaults with even more gold. The gold is important, but it is also all about power. In the USA money is power. If the bottom 50% had more power, started voting in their rational self interests, the big shots could no longer call all the hots. We really would live up to that crazy old ideal about government for and by the people. This possibility is what scares the hell out of Paul Ryan, the Koch brothers and Karl Rove. From a classic essay,

From the pharaohs of ancient Egypt to the self-regarding thugs of ancient Rome to the glorified warlords of medieval and absolutist Europe, in nearly every urbanized society throughout human history, there have been people who have tried to constitute themselves as an aristocracy. These people and their allies are the conservatives.

The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals often theorize that conservatives use “social issues” as a way to mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality. Economic inequality and regressive taxation, while certainly welcomed by the aristocracy, are best understood as a means to their actual goal, which is simply to be aristocrats. More generally, it is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. Of course this notion sounds bizarre to modern ears, but it is perfectly overt in the writings of leading conservative theorists such as Burke. Democracy, for them, is not about the mechanisms of voting and office-holding. In fact conservatives hold a wide variety of opinions about such secondary formal matters. For conservatives, rather, democracy is a psychological condition. People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.

 

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper – The Flat Tax Lead Bandwagon and Other News

American landscapes, green, nature

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper

The conservative winds are changing regardless of what the latest straw polls show. Herman Cain has made one too many missteps and the conservative establishment has declared his campaign is just about over. This op-ed is from the web equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, The Daily Caller –  Cain: Rove attacks me to help Romney

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO says former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove is attacking him in an effort to help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Washington Examiner reports.

Cain’s comments came after Rove, considered the principal architect of President George W. Bush’s political career, mapped out a list of recent Cain “gaffes” on a whiteboard during a Fox News Channel appearance Monday morning. “The whole effect of this is to not create an image, I think, of him being a flip-flopper,” said Rove. “I think it’s to create an image of being not up to the task.”

“It’s a good thing the voters are not looking at Karl Rove’s little whiteboard,” Cain told the Examiner’s Byron York Monday afternoon. “I believe it is a deliberate attempt to damage me because I am not — quote, unquote — the establishment choice. But why not go with the choice that the people seem to like?”

Rove and Fox may not be crazy about Romney, but make no mistake this is a shot to the heart of Cain’s momentum. Cain’s much inflated persona as the outsider wears a bit thin when you consider that most of his campaign organization is the Koch brothers. The Right has taken to describing the Koches as liberal’s boogeyman. They are not invisible and they do not hide under beds, the millions of dollars they spend through the Cato Institute, FreedonWorks and American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) the Koches are a major force in the Anti-American conservative movement. They were and are major players in dismantling unions and workers rights. Forget about this meme that conservative voters are anti-establishment. That is the same old window dressing they used at the height of the tea nuts movement to shift blame for the economy and bungled foreign policy away from “true” conservationism. This analysis is spot on. If either one of the Koches started a run for president tomorrow it would shake up the race considerably.

Aging culture warriors on the Right love Rick Perry. He thinks all the batsh*t insane stuff Michelle Bachmann thinks, except he’s male. Perry has now jumped on the flat tax bandwagon. It hardly matters to the average conservative whether it is Cain or Perry’s flat tax, they will lower the taxes for millionaires and corporations and rise taxes on those with average incomes and below. Flat tax fits on a bumper sticker. Conservative pols have always preferred simple over smart or fair. Thinking hurts their pointed heads. For GOP Presidential Field, It’s Survival of the Flattest

As Steve Forbes learned in 1996 and 2000 and Herman Cain is learning now, the flat tax is a bad idea whose time never came. After all, the move to a single income tax rate for all earners inevitably shifts the tax burden from the rich to middle and lower income Americans. And if the rate is too low, the result is a hemorrhage of red ink from the U.S Treasury that quickly becomes an ocean of debt.

Nevertheless, in one form or another, the top tier of the 2012 GOP presidential stands poised to embrace this latest wildly regressive Republican windfall for the wealthy. Hoping to benefit from the hype surrounding Cain’s simple 9-9-9 plan, Texas Governor Rick Perry with Steve Forbes’ endorsement will announce his own flat tax proposal on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the resurrected Newt Gingrich has exhumed his own scheme in the guise of an “optional” 15 percent flat tax rate. And to confirm the growing flat tax popularity among his party’s primary voters, frontrunner Mitt Romney in typical fashion may be on the verge of reversing course.

If conservatives want to be the party of the perennially wacky Forbes let’s not try to discourage them. Forbes went down in flames. Perry and Cain will do likewise. Your conservative family making $40k a year and now pays no federal income taxes has no desire to start paying a minimum tax of Cain’s 9% or Perry’s 20%( as reported by the WSJ). Romney has not specified his flat tax rate yet and as the weeks progress and the feedback starts coming in I suspect it will be one of those flip-flop-flips which he backs off. Rick Perry: Standing Tall for the 1%

He’d allow multinationals to return the trillion dollars in profits that they have closeted abroad at a 5% tax rate, a truly shameless corporate giveaway. He’d lower corporate taxes to 20% immediately, while “phasing out” corporate loopholes – good luck with that.

Then he would blow a hole in Social Security, providing young workers with a choice for private accounts. Since under the current plan, young workers pay for the benefits their parents’ generation receives, this would starve Social Security of significant income just when the boomers are retiring. He does not say how he would replace what is likely to be a trillion dollar shortfall over the next thirty years.

But it will have to be by cutting benefits since he would put a lid on federal spending at 18% GDP (We currently spend about 24%, and it is impossible to imagine an effective government sustaining Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and bare bone essential services at less than 20%).

During the best of the Bush and total control of the federal government by conservatives spending was 20% of GDP. That is without a recession and spending with no compensating cuts ( its the the glorious borrow and spend years). We have trillions to pay in health are for vets of the two wars conservatives bungled. More of the baby boomers will be retiring. We still need infrastructure spending. A Rick Perry presidency looks as bleak as the landscape in The Book of Eli with no green zone left at the end to save us.

An unfortunate trend is to have a reflexive reaction to anything Obama proposes as dead on arrival. It might be cool in some circles, but not very productive – HARP II, Either A Huge Deal Or Not

The FHFA itself is actually not making any particularly grand claims on behalf of this initiative, and other people I’ve heard from in the government are likewise being very restrained and not promising any gigantic macroeconomic benefits.

Sarah Rosen Wartell, who leads the housing work at CAP, put out a statement observing that “some important details are still to come that will determine how much progress will be achieved.” Joe Gagnon goes really big, and says that if this is designed right we could get three to four million jobs out of it which obviously would be a huge effect. By contrast, Felix Salmon says he thinks this will do almost nothing. Personally, I have no idea who’s right about this. It can’t hurt to try, right?

If we split the difference between Joe and Felix that would mean 2 million jobs and quite a few people staying in their homes.

War By Other Means – Why it’s safe to ignore Republican criticism of Obama’s policy in Iraq.

This is getting all too predictable. President Obama announced that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, in compliance not only with his election pledge but also with the terms of a U.S.-Iraq treaty. In response, the Republicans moaned and hollered that Obama is playing politics with national security, or that he could have negotiated a better outcome, or that he’s surrendering to Iranian domination.

It’s a safe bet that, had Obama announced he was keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq for the indefinite future, most of the same Republicans would have moaned and hollered that he was breaking a promise to the American people, draining the Treasury, and boosting the chance of a terrorist attack by Muslims angered at our continued occupation.
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More than this, their complaints are unfounded, based on either ignorance or deliberate distortion.

First, it is crucial to note that this withdrawal and its timetable were set in a treaty called the Status of Forces Agreement, signed Nov. 17, 2008, not by Obama (who wasn’t president yet) but rather by George W. Bush. SOFAs, as they’re often abbreviated, are treaties—bearing the force of national and international law—that presidents sign with each country that hosts U.S. armed forces. They set the terms and conditions under which those forces can stay.

The SOFA with Iraq states, in Article 24: “All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, waters, and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.” That’s as definitive as these things get.

Article 30 does allow for amendments to the treaty, but only in the event of the “formal written approval of both parties and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in both countries.” For the past few months, U.S. officials (including some former Bush officials called back to join the delegation) have tested the waters to see if Iraqi lawmakers would allow—or, more to the point, wanted—an amendment that would permit some of the current 40,000 American troops to stay on. Their conclusion: The Iraqis had no such desire, and not much need.

There is the argument violence will increase on US withdrawal. We’ve been withdrawing troops over the past two years and while there was an uptick for a while violence is down. fewer Iraqis and fewer US military are dying. We’ll still have 40,000 troops on the Kuwaiti border and a Naval carrier group off the coast. Iran talks a lot of smack but they have no desire to have their clock cleaned by US air and naval power.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and some others have suggested that the sticking point was over a clause giving U.S. troops immunity from Iraqi prosecution for alleged crimes. This is a standard feature of such treaties, including of the earlier arrangement with Iraq. It’s true that the Iraqis refused to grant the immunity. But there was no leeway to negotiate an exemption, because the main sticking point was, and is, that the Iraqis simply do not want American troops in their country anymore. One U.S. official in Iraq said in a phone interview, “Even our erstwhile friends [among Iraqi politicians] want us out by the end of the year. None of them lifted a finger to keep us.”

Do Obama’s Republican critics, who have made such a big deal of Iraq’s bourgeoning democracy, really think Obama should (or could) have disregarded the democratically elected parliament of a sovereign nation—a sovereign ally, at that—in order to keep U.S. troops on that nation’s soil, allegedly for its own interest (as defined by us, not by them)? We would then become nothing but an occupying power, sure to trigger an escalation of armed resistance and appear hypocritical in the extreme.

By The Lake Autumn wallpaper – Only The People Should Be Too Big To Fail

fall colors

By The Lake Autumn wallpaper

 

The NYT plays catch-up, Cries of Anti-Semitism, but Not at Zuccotti Park

Among the hodgepodge of signs that have sprouted in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, one man in jeans and a baseball cap has been carrying placards that shout their suggestions: “Google: Jewish Billionaires” and “Google: Zionists control Wall St.”

At the same time, among the sea of tarps under which protesters have been sleeping, a sukkah, a makeshift hut, was erected to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The Occupy Wall Street protests, now in their second month, have increasingly been criticized by a variety of groups, most of them politically conservative, for flashes of anti-Semitism. Among those calling attention to the issue have been the Republican National Committee, Rush Limbaugh and the columnist William Kristol.

But the protests have also, on occasion, had a distinctly Jewish flavor: The encampment has coincided with the busy Jewish holiday season and has witnessed, in its midst or on its edges, a crowded Kol Nidre service on Yom Kippur, festive dancing with a scroll on Simchat Torah on Thursday night, and the sukkah.

The right-wing Wall Street funded Emergency Committee for Israel seems to be hanging its entire case on finding a few nuts and having conservative freaks like Limbaugh supply the echo effect. Hoping yet another baseless meme will catch on.

Anti-illegal immigration bill stokes backlash in Alabama fields

Farmers fearing a labor shortage are protesting recent immigration laws they say are too harsh, forcing undocumented workers to flee to prevent deportation. They say US workers are unwilling to endure the rigorous conditions of farm work and that state legislators need to come up with solutions to prevent local agribusiness from going under.

More than 100 farmers and three state representatives in Alabama responded to the recent enactment of a slate of anti-illegal immigration laws by holding a public hearing this week in Oneonta, about 35 miles northeast of Birmingham. The farmers complained that they were already seeing laborers pack up and leave the state.

The new immigration laws will result in a $40 million hit to the state’s economy, with 10,000 illegal workers, each making about $5,000 a year, set to leave, according to a report released this week by the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

 

Sorry Alabama farmers conservatives are not doing sane or rational or subtle or compromise at the moment or for the foreseeable future. They have learned nothing from disastrous policies and laws. We could have a nice stream lined process where immigrant workers get a quick seasonable farm work permit and we could all just go about our business. That is just too adult and mature for conservatives. They have a point to make and if it costs you millions, well just suck it up. Funny how the conservative mind works. They have done everything they can to make sure Wall Street can continue to play casino with the nation’s wealth, but won’t let some poor workers make a few dollars. * There has been one conservative in Texas who has proposed a gust worker program, but that seems to be going nowhere.

This graph is ridiculous, but the format is the way it is because Herman Cain’s tax fantasy is so ridiculous, 9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph

In my previous post decrying the extreme redistribution of the tax burden from the wealthy to everyone else, I had to use two graphs to tell the story.  I couldn’t fit the increase in tax liabilities for the bottom 80% on the same graph that includes the over $1 million decrease in tax liability for the top 0.1%.

But my CBPP colleague Brian Highsmith could.  So here you have it: the change in tax liabilities, compared to current tax policy, under 9-9-9, for different income groups, in one incredibly unsettling graph.

9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph

 

 

The best way to see the full size is to click over to the story link. These long red lines are the tax cuts for the super rich. The blue increases are the tax increases for people with relatively modest incomes. There are a few comments by trolls at the link that display a stunning amount of malicious ignorance about wealth and where it comes from. The belief, akin to how cultists believe in their dogma, that the upper ten percent are the wealth creators and the rest of us should be thankful for their hard work is mind-boggling in its boneheadedness. Every dollar that Wall Street uses for collateral, bets on, uses to buy derivatives and packages CDOs originated with someone who did some labor to create something that created the value in the first place. All capital begins with labor. Everyone else is just hitching a ride. The 1%, but really the upper ten percent, use the capital created by the people who assemble the cars, mine the copper, roof the houses, program the software, collect the trash, empty the bed pans, invent the next drug, do the basic research for the next must have a gadget to accumulate their wealth. Anyone who does actual work for a living should recent the hell out of the kind of financial sector that has evolved over the last forty years.

We the people are the only ones who should be too big to fail

 

The Hermantor has covered every possible position on a woman’s right to have autonomy over her own body – Herman Cain: Another 180 Turn on Abortion. Herman’s latest is a federal ban on a woman’s right to be free. In addition, the desert of sorts is his proposal for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The SCOTUS has already ruled that women, being equal citizens and all, have the right to decide what to do with their uterus. Herman and Rick Perry see every uterus as the property of federal marshals. So a federal ban on women’s autonomy would be a job creator of sorts, we’ll need thousands of new marshals and prison guards to enforce this major expansion of government powers. Trying to pass a new Constitutional amendment on marriage might be a good idea, for moderate Americans anyway. The road to changing the Constitution is a long arduous one. Think of the millions of dollars the Right will waste on trying to get such an amendment ratified. Since the majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage the ratification process will be a black hole for the conservative donations that will not be spent on other issues.

Herman is also a Koch tea bagger – Not an Employee? Herman Cain Had Mailing and Email Addresses at Koch’s Americans For Prosperity HQ

Goodbye National Treasures, Ron Paul Calls For Federal Public Lands To Be ‘Sold Off To Private Owners’

Paul’s remarks fall in line with the attacks on public lands from conservative lawmakers and corporate front groups. For instance, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) has been waging war on public lands from his helm as chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, while the Koch Brothers have funded pro-oil events across the West.

For more information, read Center for American Progress President John Podesta’s article on defending public lands or a report from CAP’s public lands team on how public land conservation creates jobs.

Most readers may already know this, but for those that don’t, our national parks, forests and marine sanctuaries are already exploited by private interests. The government allows timber companies like the Koch owned Georgia Pacific to cut trees on federal lands for pennies on the dollar of market value. A great if old example of corporate welfare. If we sell off forest to Georgia Pacific they will manage that land as well as they have land in the south – old growth forests are down to a few percent of what they were just fifty years ago. They get great short-term wind fall profits, but your children and grandchildren get the shaft. Libertarian Ron Paul has spent most of his adult life collecting a tax payer salary and benefits. He has amassed a nice fortune without breaking a sweat. In that entire time he has never issued one solid policy study based opinion about anything. He occasionally sounds good on not getting into expensive wars, but other than that he is a wacko. Pauls view of the Constitution would bring back Jim Crow, women’s bodies would be the defacto property of the state, American workers would enjoy the same wage protections as Asian sweat shop workers. Paul was one of the sponsors of the Marriage Protection Act in the House in 2004. Paul, like Cain and Perry are big government mad-hatters. They don’t think the government should protect your family from toxic chemicals but they do think the government should have the last word on your personal life.

 

Apple, Steve Jobs, China, Conservatives and The Race to The Bottom For The American Worker

This is probably getting too much attention – Steve Jobs Biography Reveals He Told Obama, ‘You’re Headed For A One-Term Presidency’

“You’re headed for a one-term presidency,” he told Obama at the start of their meeting, insisting that the administration needed to be more business-friendly. As an example, Jobs described the ease with which companies can build factories in China compared to the United States, where “regulations and unnecessary costs” make it difficult for them.

Jobs also criticized America’s education system, saying it was “crippled by union work rules,” noted Isaacson. “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.

With all due respect to Jobs, while he was marketing phenomenon, perhaps a brilliant showman when it came to marketing. That doesn’t mean he was some oracle whose very spoken word is  pure gold. On the manufacturing, unions and regulations – total BS. The iPhone labor cost from its Chinese outsourcing amounted to less than $7.00 of the total cost. With labor and parts the total cost was/is about $178.96 per unit. Without a contract the iPhone retails for around $600, but AT&t kicks back some money to Apple with a contract for service that brings down the price to around $200.00. That iPhone depending on the model and contract, which Apple kicks it’s share can actually cost $1300.00 to $4k per year. Apple makes a 60% profit.  No other major computer maker gets those kinds of margins – Not Dell, not Sony or HP. Where do the iPhone parts come from: Germany, Switzerland and South Korea. All of those countries have unions, regulatory and environmental regulations -and health care plans. You have to have had half your brain blown away to believe that finding a place – a factory – to manufacture electronic in America is difficult. The country is littered with old and under used factories. Making the iPhone or any other Apple product here in the U.S. might add a few dollars to the retail price. According to a 2007 Gallup  poll a slight majority of Americans are willing to pay a little more for an American made product. Lets say they got very specific and asked people if they would pay $10 more for heir iPad or iPhone I think most Americans would if it meant the creation of a few thousand jobs. Jobs was a lifelong Democrat, that just makes it all that much more fun to use Jobs as a convenient cudgel to once again beat unions and American workers. Jobs was wrong. If Apple just moved half their manufacturing to the U.S. that might mean what – they would have a 58% margin. With the new jobs created and the jobs those jobs would create you would have a lot more people who might be able to buy Apple products. The Right, as they have been for fifty years is infatuated with a race to the bottom. It’s the so what if workers work 12 hour days for $2.00 an hour syndrome. They’re all like Rep. Sean Duffy complaining about how they can’t get by on $174,000.00 a year. They’re completely detached from the lives of working class Americans.

I’ll give Jobs partial credit for the dig at teachers, but he way oversimplified that issue as well – Steve Jobs talks teachers unions and education reform

In a hotly anticipated biography about enigmatic Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the brain behind the iPad and iPhone is shown to have a pessimistic view of the state of education in the United States.

The author of the biography, Walter Isaacson, wrote Jobs thought teachers unions are crippling schools. Here is the snippet, courtesy The Huffington Post:

Jobs also criticized America’s education system, saying it was “crippled by union work rules,” noted Isaacson. “Until the teachers’ unions were broken, there was almost no hope for education reform.” Jobs proposed allowing principals to hire and fire teachers based on merit, that schools stay open until 6 p.m. and that they be open 11 months a year.

Jobs’ attitude towards unions is in line with other lukewarm supporters of president Obama who feel labor groups protect teachers regardless of their performance.

Several marquee Democrats, including former head of Washington D.C. public schools Michelle Rhee, have vilified teacher groups like American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association.

An argument can be made that those criticisms are unfair in light of labor union support for the reforms Jobs is reported to have supported.

AFT head Randi Weingarten has endorsed a teacher evaluation method that is partly dependent on how students perform on standardized tests. Labor groups in general do not oppose merit-based evaluations, and principal reviews are a major part of the review process of teachers already.

Labor groups have also backed extending the number of hours students spend in the classroom. A largely successful initiative in Massachusetts to expand the instruction time students receive was noted for the harmonious relationship between a state head of a major labor group and the Massachusetts government.

The whole teachers-unions-ease of firing-tenure issue needs some work. Yet obviously teachers and their unions are not intractable. And it is hard to argue that it is difficult to get rid of teachers when 132,000 teachers have been laid off since the beginning of the recession in 2007.

I will make another point in Jobs favor. He was a far better and more decent capitalist than the hedge fund managers on Wall Street.

 

Global warming study finds no grounds for climate sceptics’ concerns. The deniers have plenty of denial left in them regardless of more than a billion temperature records dating back to the 1800s.

Jon Stewart On GOP Reaction To Gaddafi’s Death: ‘What The F*ck Is Wrong With You?’ Video at link.

“Is there no Republican,” asked Stewart, “that can be gracious and statesmen-like in this situation? We removed a dictator in six months, losing no American soldiers, spending, like, a billion dollars rather than a trillion dollars, and engendering what appears to be goodwill with the people who now have a prideful story of their own independence to tell… not to mention oil, they have oil. Anybody wanna give credit?”

He then played a clip of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Sen. John McCain giving credit. To the French and British.

 

You can lead a conservative to the facts, but you can’t make them have any class.

 

Herman Cain Compares Social Security To Slavery. I’m hoping that I get the opportunity to become a Social Security slave since Wall Street ate a big chunk of my retirement funds.

The Right-wing Emergency Committee For Israel Is Trying to Portray OWS as Anti-Semitic, Even as Several Jewish Groups Join in The Protests

Never underestimate how low conservatives can go and how fast they can create yet another astroturf group that pretends to speak on behalf of regular Americans. It the conservative playbook no lie is too big, too venal or too morally outrageous. All such lies are justified in the name of the movement. If those lies hurt America or democracy, oh well, sacrifices must be made in the name of all-mighty conservatism. Thus the Right’s new meme that the OWS protesters are anti-Semitic – Homeless anti-Semite was around long before OccupyWallStreet

Right-wing pundits and Republican Party figures are continuing their attempt to smear the Occupy Wall Street movement as anti-Semitic, but we now have more evidence that the charge is profoundly dishonest.

To review: the Emergency Committee for Israel (which, it turns out, is funded by Wall Street) released an ad last week claiming that Occupy Wall Street is shot through with anti-Semitism, and demanding that Democrats condemn the protests. That attack has now been picked up by various pundits and GOP officials. The Republican National Committee started using the line against Democrats Wednesday. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin inevitably piled on. Fox News is all over the story.

Exhibit A in the ad (watch it below) is a sign-bearing man who yells that “Jews control Wall Street!” Now, as I’ve previously reported, Occupy protesters have taken to surrounding the man, who gave his name to me recently as David Smith, with rebuttal signs, including one that reads, “Asshole —>”. Smith has been hanging around Zuccotti Park nearly every day for a couple of weeks.

But as Josh Nathan-Kazis reports at the Forward, Smith started carrying anti-Semitic signs around the financial district long before Occupy Wall Street existed…

Think porgress has more on the Emergency Committee for Israel who are financed by hedge fund managers. One of the biggest contributors has been on a crusade against Obama ever since he and Democrats passed that modest package of financial reforms. David Smith seems to have both medical, and what unfortuantely seems to be genuine mental issues. Leave it to the Right to exploit a guy with mental problems who is going blind. Three is also another “nutpicking” example in a guy named Danny Cline who has some manic obsession with making trouble and seeing himself on YouTube.

OccupyWallStreet: Yom Kippur Celebration in Support of Occupy Wall Street 10/7/11

Another story about Jews supporting OWS that the Right is pretending does not exist, Jewish groups rally in sukkah at Occupy Los Angeles

As part of the Occupy Los Angeles movement, hundreds of Angelenos have been living in tents outside downtown’s City Hall for several weeks. On Oct. 16, Jewish groups rallied in a sukkah alongside these temporary shelters.

“I think of a sukkah as a structure that’s full of vulnerability,” said Elissa Barrett, chief of regional operations for Progressive Jewish Alliance and Jewish Funds for Justice (PJA & JFSJ), a participant in the demonstration. “It forces us to look at what’s happening in the world around us.”

In solidarity with the protestors of Occupy Los Angeles — an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street and similarly anti-corporate — several Jewish clergy, community organizers and rabbinical students came together to organize the protest in the sukkah, billed as “Not Just a Sukkah: A JUST Sukkah at Occupy L.A.”

The collaborators included Rabbi Jonathan Klein of CLUE-LA (Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice); Rabbi Jason van Leeuwen of Temple Ner Maarav; Lauren Henderson, a rabbinical student at American Jewish University (AJU); Rabbi Aryeh Cohen of American Jewish University; Charlie Carnow, a CLUE-LA board member; and Maya Barron of PJA & JFSJ.

 

And a video from the L.A. group as well, A Just Sukkah at Occupy LA


The Emergency Committee for Israel was one of those shady groups that pushed for the invasion of Iraq. Their interests and what is best for the U.S. always seem to be at odds. Why are such anti-American groups supported by the Right? That’s just a rhetorical question, we all know the answer.

Classic Jazz wallpaper – Conservatives and The Art of Voting Against Your Rational Self Interests

Classic Jazz wallpaper

 

Workers in the USA who are making less than $12 an hour probably don’t absolutely love their jobs. In cities such as Dallas, New York, San Francisco and Miami they’re just getting by. They are paying their payroll taxes – for their Medicare and Social Security. This is a group that needs those programs more than high income households because even the best savers are not going to have much when they retire. This is deep working class America. They also pay federal taxes when they buy gas and a few other things. They pay local fees ( frequently which are hidden taxes politicians with no guts vote for so they can clam they did not rise taxes). According to Republicans these people – the bottom 50% of all income earners and who frequently work far harder for their money than the Koch brothers or the Coors family ever will – are freeloaders who need to anti-up their share of the federal tax pie. Romney “Wants” Breaks for the Middle Class: Too Bad His Actual Plan Favors the Mega-Rich 

As part of his critique of Herman Cain’s absurd “9-9-9” tax plan, Mitt Romney said in last night’s debate, “I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families.”

It was a throw-away line, mentioned in passing. But it’s important to realize what Romney claims to “want” is not even close to what Romney actually intends to do.

In fact, there’s no real ambiguity here. The apparent Republican frontrunner has already said he wants to see middle-class taxes go up right away, having endorsed an increase in payroll taxes in 2012. Romney has also backed higher federal income taxes on lower- and middle-income earners for the foreseeable future. He’s been surprisingly explicit on this, recently telling voters, “I think it’s a real problem when you have half of Americans, almost half of Americans, that are not paying income tax.”

Of course, those who aren’t paying income taxes include a fairly narrow group of people: lower- and middle-income workers who fall below the tax threshold; the unemployed; students, and retirees. Romney thinks it’s a “real problem” that they’re not paying federal income taxes — and it’s a problem he intends to fix by raising their taxes.

But, the former governor says, that’s only part of the picture. Sure, Romney will raise middle-class income taxes, but he also intends to give the middle class a capital-gains tax break.

Under Romney’s plan, those making less than $200,000 a year would see their capital gains taxes eliminated entirely. And what’s wrong with that? Pat Garofalo explained:

Romney may think he focused his tax cut on the middle-class, but according to a ThinkProgress analysis of Tax Policy Center data, nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less annually would get literally nothing from Romney’s tax cut, due to the simple fact that most of those households have no capital gains income

To be exact, 73.9 percent of the households upon which Romney “focused” his tax cut will see zero benefit from it. […]

For families making between $40,000 and $50,000 annually, Romney’s tax cut comes out to a whopping $216 per year. Meanwhile, the payroll tax cut enacted by the Obama administration in 2011, which Romney derided as a “temporary little Band-Aid,” gave those same households a tax cut of $800 to $1,000.

Romney also, incidentally, wants massive tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.

“I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families”? What Romney “wants” is irrelevant.

To be sure, there are some who might argue that middle-class taxes should go up, and it’s a subject worthy of debate. The problem here is that Romney just isn’t telling the truth about his own agenda. If he intends to raise middle-class taxes, and his own plan suggests that he does, Romney should prepared to defend his agenda.

 

If most Americans want Medicare and Social Security to remain solvent it is probably inevitable that we do away with the current payroll tax cuts. In Romney’s formula people who my grandmother used to say lived from hand to mouth, or pay check to pay check, just trying to keep their head above water will have to kick in some minimum federal income tax. All the while the richest Americans get yet another cut on their capital gains. Who are the capital gains people – mostly the 1%. They get a huge amount of their income from capital gains, thus a lower effective tax rate than, you know who, Warren Buffet’s secretary. No matter how badly the tax cut our way to economic nirvana plan fails, conservatives are going to stick with it. There is very obviously no evidence that cutting capital gains to historic lows creates jobs. They do make people with lots of money richer. In America, money is political speech and political power. So Romney’s plan is the continued dis-empowerment of the 99%.

This connection between taxes, political power and dis-empowerment of the non-wealthy is enough to make most Americans pause. If we have a free market merit based economy how come so many Americans are working so hard ( or want to work, but cannot find employment) and we’re not getting ahead. How or why is this unwholesome and un-meritocracy system allowed to continue. As much power as the wealthy and their network of think tanks and lobbyist are they only have so many votes. Except they’re counting on a large minority of voters, working class voters, to vote against their own best interests in some Faustian bargain – How Christian Fundamentalists Disempower Themselves and Help Empower the Top 1% to Exploit the 99%

Evangelical fundamentalism helped empower the top 1 percent. Note I didn’t say religion per se, but religious fundamentalism.

Why? Because without the fundamentalists and their “values” issues, many in the lower 99 percent could not have been convinced to vote against their (our) economic self-interest; in other words, vote for Republicans who only serve billionaires.

Wall Street is a great target for long-overdue protest, but so are the centers of religious power that are the gatekeepers of Republican Party “values” voters that make the continuing economic exploitation possible.

Fundamentalist religion — evangelical and Roman Catholic alike — has delegitimized the US government and thus undercut its ability to tax, spend and regulate.

The fundamentalists have replaced economic and political justice with a bogus (and hate-driven) “morality” litmus tests of spurious red herring “issues” from abortion to school prayer and gay rights. The result has been that the masses of lower middle-class and poor Americans who should be voting for Democrats and thus their own economic interests, have been persuaded to vote against their own class and self interest.

This trick of political sleight of hand has been achieved by this process:

Declare the US government agents of evil because “the government” has allowed legal abortion, gay rights, etc.
Declare that therefore “government is the problem,” not the solution.
The government is the source of all evwww.amazon.com/Sex-Mom-God-Strange-Politics/dp/0306819287/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0il, thus anyone the government wants to regulate is being picked on by satanic forces. The US government is always the bad guy.
Good, God-fearing folks will always vote for less government and less regulation because “the government” is evil.
So unregulated corporations, banks and Wall Street are always right and represent “freedom” while government is always wrong and represents “tyranny.”

All the GOP presidential candidates are exploiting this phenomenon. Herman Cain, a puppet of the Koch brothers said without shame, without having clue from inside his bubble of elitism that the OWS movement should be protesting in front of the White House, not America’s financial centers. Certainly Washington shares some of the blame – if we had not had thirty years of financial deregulation by Washington – the Wall Street meltdown might never have happened. We still might have had a housing bubble but not one so severe – the severity was caused by Wall Street as well – Private Wall Street Companies Caused The Financial Crisis — Not Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Or The Community Reinvestment Act . How do you get people to vote in their own rational best interests. I’ve always wondered about the cultural wing-nuts and abortion. By national budget standards investments in education about both abstinence and birth control, at least a two year degree from a community college and a job that pays a living wage all bring down the abortion rate. Yet the very same culturally conservative vote to increase abortions when they vote to cut programs those programs. Want a lower crime rate, don’t build more prisons, invest in education.

After Confusing Himself, Cain Decides That Rape Victims Should Be Forced To Carry Pregnancies To Term. The conservative tenet that women should be incubators for rapists and child molesters hasn’t quite worn out my outrage quotient. This perverse, immoral unfathomable attitude toward women, toward another human being is something out of some dystopian dictatorship or horror movie.

The Republican Bickersons

That was fun tonight. Attack, defend, attack and attack some more. Texas Gov. Rick Perry had some problems in tonight’s Republican presidential debate, as he’s had before — do we really want to “defund the United Nations”? — but he was a real presence this time, and I thought he put some life back into his campaign.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney found himself on the defensive as he never has been before. His health-care plan in Massachusetts finally got a real going-over, with Sen. Rick Santorum leading the way. Santorum was an important player throughout the discussion, and this has to give him a bump — in attention, if not in the polls.

For the most part, Romney was fluid and fluent, as is his habit. But I thought the particularly bitter exchange he had with Perry, over whether Romney had hired an illegal immigrant, hurt Romney more than Perry. There was petulance and perhaps a trace of arrogance in the way Romney kept badgering Perry. “It’s been a tough couple of debates for Rick” and “You have a problem with letting people finish speaking” are Romney lines that will get played over and over, and I don’t think they came off well. In truth, neither Romney nor Perry looked great when they went into junkyard-dog mode, but it may be a net win for Perry, because he put himself on the same level as Romney. But on the question of Mormonism and the religious faith of politicians, Romney’s answer was very good, while Perry’s response at times came close to incoherence.

 

It’s not difficult to imagine the Perry prep team over the last couple weeks. It’s the political version of Rocky. His team told Perry that it had to land some solid punches or he was down for the count. This is no time to be a gentleman. Romney’s support might not win any prizes for enthusiasm, but his supporters have not been easy to sway either. As feisty as everyone was when you have all those punches being thrown, it tends to distract so much people aren’t sure who won. So they just stay with the leanings they had before the fight started.

Antique World Map c1713 – All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem

Antique World Map (copper engraving), Pieter van der Aa, c.1713. The illustrations make the map a work of fine art in addition to being an amazing example of 18th century map making.

All protest movements are vulnerable to being infiltrated, their message co-opted by outside agitators and the small number of weirdos who joy in, used to discredit everyone. The Right – you know those people who manipulated the nation into a three trillion-dollar quagmire in Iraq, all the while hiding behind the flag and nationalism, bankrupting the nation and using government the way organized crime uses goons, are engaging in all three tactics. Wingnuts’ Photo Fail

Wingnuts have been circulating this photo, claiming it’s from Occupy Wall Street. One woman who claims to work/have worked at the New York Stock Exchange posted it on her Facebook page and where it was shared over 1000 times wrote this as the caption:

This is the NO-CLASS Wall Street occupiers. They are rutting in the street. They are defecating in the street. This is what the democratic party is applauding and embracing? America is in trouble; When morality is willingly being usurped by corruption; Freedom sold for limitation and servitude; Honor traded for degradation, a society can not survive.

Fail. It’s from a 2007 Portland, Oregon anti-war demonstration.

The right-wing fraudster thinks freedom is letting Wall Street steal $17 trillion dollars from the American people and pleading with them to continue as usual, please abuse us some more. Masochism has always been a not too subtle feature of the conservative mindset. OWS: The provocateurs have arrived!

Well, we predicted that the provocateurs would hit Occupy Wall Street, and we should have predicted the methodology. In an obvious ploy, the bad guys sent out a few guys with anti-Semitic signs. On cue — with a telling immediacy — Breitbart’s site picked up on this, and charged the whole movement with anti-Semitism. Also see NewsBusters, which is pushing the major media to parrot their line.

A transparent ploy? To you and to me, perhaps. But not to many other Americans.

How can I be certain that the anti-Semitic sign-holders are agents? Well, I can’t be certain about all of them. But…come on. At least one of these clowns is the biggest, most obvious plant I’ve seen outside the Muir Woods. The reliably vile Pam Geller has the story here (quoting CBS News):

“Blame the Jews.”

That’s the message one Wall Street protester was trying to spread in Lower Manhattan to anyone that would listen.

A new video posted to YouTube shows the protester loudly and aggressively proclaiming “the Jews control Wall Street.”

In the nearly 6-minute video, the man is seen standing in Zuccotti Park ranting against Israel and Jews while holding a sign reading “Hitler’s Bankers – Wall St.”

The protestor, who would not give his name to those gathered around him, is also seen arguing with members of the public who took offense to his choice of words.

A number of others also ask the protester if Fox News had paid him to stand and display his sign to which he responded: “[expletive] Fox News, that’s [expletive]. [Expletive] Jew made that up.”

He’s nameless, he’s with no-one, and — like the fool on the hill — nobody seems to like him. He shows up with a cameraman just to get his mug plastered all over YouTube, and of course the resultant video immediately goes viral. Classic provocateur profile. The whole thing is being pushed by an out-of-nowhere Republican front group which calls itself the Emergency Committee for Israel.

The picture of this one guy anti-Semite poster boy is at the link. It came to my attention over the weekend that the American Nazi Party has Tweeted some support for OWC. That too has been taken as PROOF the OWC is antisemitic. Te little problem with that are the anti-Obama tweets from the ANP which associate Obama with said “Jewish bankers”,

  1. ANP14 American Nazi Party
    The Jewish Goldman Sachs is the most politically connected corporation in the world, it was also Obama’s largest campaign donor. #fail
    7 Oct

Anyone who has a Twitter account can search the ANP’s tweets for similar lines of attack.

If the Right is going to try to hijack Martin Luther King Jr. the least they could do is find, I don’t know, some supporting evidence on which to hang their thesis, From Malkin’s Hot Air – Obama: MLK Jr. would have supported Occupy Wall Street

MLK Jr. might at times have used rhetoric later in his life that suggests he would be sympathetic to the OWS protesters’ redistributive aims, but my best guess is he’d also have a few exhortations for them.

It was in poor taste for the president to make a divisive claim in his dedication of a memorial of a man who aimed to unite.

What Malkin stand-in Tina Korbe does is standard operating procedure. For today and at their convenience they take a few excerpts from other conservative wing-nuts, highly interpretative pieces that suit the attack of the day, and presto, they got their average reader rube who has all the historical knowledge of a dung beetle. It just so happens that MLK Jr. lead, not the first OWS protests, but one among many in America’s history in the 1960s – Poor People’s Campaign: A Dream Unfulfilled

In early 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders planned a Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C., for the spring. The group planned to demand that President Lyndon Johnson and Congress help the poor get jobs, health care and decent homes.

Campaign organizers intended the campaign to be a peaceful gathering of poor people from communities across the nation. They would march through the capital and visit various federal agencies in hopes of getting Congress to pass substantial anti-poverty legislation. They planned to stay until some action was taken.

But weeks before the march was to take place, King was assassinated. His widow, Coretta, and a cadre of black ministers, including the Revs. Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson, decided they would pick up where King had left off and that the Poor People’s March on Washington would go forward.

Thousands of people participated in the march on May 12, 1968.

“We come with an appeal to open the doors of America to the almost 50 million Americans who have not been given a fair share of America’s wealth and opportunity, and we will stay until we get it,” Abernathy said as he led the way for demonstrators.

Whiskey Fire also unloads some more much deserved scorn on the zombies at Hot Air –  Look at That Distracting Thing. A reminder that we have been redistributing wealth in America for some time, from the people who work the hardest to the people who work the least:

The conservative wealth distribution plan is going swimmingly

 

Iraq Veteran Questions NYPD Violence Against OWC

On Saturday, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators occupied Times Squares when thousands flooded the iconic location to protest economic inequities. After a number of demonstrators refused to leave the streets there, police responded with heavy-handed tactics to arrest them. Now, video has emerged of an apparent U.S. military veteran speaking out against these police tactics. The man, who identified himself as Sgt. Shamar Thomas, explained that he spent fourteen months in Iraq and that his parents served in the military as well. “This is not a warzone. It doesn’t make you tough to hurt these people!” protested Thomas to police officers. “There is no honor in that.” The crowd gave the man a hearty applause.

I tend to think well of law enforcement in general. I have friends and relatives in law enforcement. perhaps because of that I find some of the incredibly heavy-handed tactics being used by uniformed street officers all that much more frustrating. I’m sure they’ve encountered some jerks among the protesters but for the most part the OWC are looking out for the rights of union workers like the police. America’s ‘Primal Scream’

Three factoids underscore that inequality:

The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.

In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.

As my Times colleague Catherine Rampell noted a few days ago, in 1981, the average salary in the securities industry in New York City was twice the average in other private sector jobs. At last count, in 2010, it was 5.5 times as much. (In case you want to gnash your teeth, the average is now $361,330.)

More broadly, there’s a growing sense that lopsided outcomes are a result of tycoons’ manipulating the system, lobbying for loopholes and getting away with murder. Of the 100 highest-paid chief executives in the United States in 2010, 25 took home more pay than their company paid in federal corporate income taxes, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.

What conservatives, tea baggers, the 53 percent or whatever they’re calling themselves this week want everyone to believe, hell their entire knuckle dragging political philosophy depends on it – is to buy into the deeply bizarre possibility that  one to ten percent of Americas are working so darn hard they deserve to own 70% of the wealth. To buy into that you don’t just have to drink the kool-aid, you’re getting it intravenously and in daily supply side kool-aid enemas.

Illegal immigration is just that – rule of law and all. That said tis a wee bit of an overreaction for people, basically coming here to pick lettuce and wash dishes, to be preemptively electrocuted – On Taxes and Fences, Cain Stumbles a Bit

Herman Cain found out how tricky being in the national spotlight is on Sunday as he was pushed to admit that his signature economic plan, 9-9-9, would result in increased taxes for some people.

[  ]…The Republican presidential candidate also sought to back away from fiery comments he had made just hours earlier, saying he was only joking about killing people trying to cross the border from Mexico with an electrified fence. And he said that the American people need to “get a sense of humor.”

Yea America when are you going to start laughing about electrocuting poor Mexicans, what’s wrong with you. Maybe we’ll all get to appreciated the electrocuting poor people jokes right after we start to appreciate right-wing rape jokes – and shame on you Glenn Reynolds, not that Glenn is capable of feeling shame at the appropriate times.

 Why Is Darrell Issa (R-CA) Pretending He Knows Nothing About Bush Era Fast and Furious Gun Walking Program and all the documents he was sent by Attorney General Holder. The Right has been pushing this Fast and Furious crap as a way to bring down Holder and embarrass Obama for months. I hope they keep it up because Issa is going to end up hanging by his own petard. We’ll get to the stage where Issa will have to put up or shut-up. Issa will need a time machine to make the put up part possible.

Tea Party co-founder expresses support for Occupy Wall Street

One of the original founders of the Tea Party movement has told RT.com that he believes Occupy Wall Street is not only comparable to the earliest states of the movement he helped launch but can learn from its mistakes.

“The problem with protests and the political process is that it is very easy, no matter how big the protest is, for the politicians to simply wait until the people go home,” financial blogger Karl Denninger observed. “And then they can ignore you.”

“Well, Occupy Wall Street was a little different,” he continued. “And back in 2008, I wrote that when we will actually see change is when the people come, they set up camp, and they refuse to go home. That appears to be happening now.”

 

 

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem. – Martin Luther King, Jr.