City Lights Winter Snow wallpaper – Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are

City Lights Winter Snow wallpaper


This is not a terrible report from CBS – Congress: Trading stock on inside information? There is the issue of how they edited some on-line video a-la James O’Keefe/Andrew Breitbart style in order to single out and create the most damning impression of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi Smear Reportedly Based On Book By Breitbart Editor

Right-wing media have used questioning by CBS’ Steve Kroft of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to accuse her of a “conflict of interest” based on an investment in Visa, ignoring her shepherding of historic credit card reform. Kroft’s questioning will air on tonight’s 60 Minutes, which was reportedly based on a forthcoming book by Peter Schweizer, the editor in chief of one of Andrew Breitbart’s websites. Schweizer has worked on behalf of President Bush, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin, and drew criticism for a previous false attack on Pelosi.

60 Minutes Questions Suggesting Pelosi “Conflict” Reportedly Based On Schweizer Book

Bush, Beck, Breitbart, Palin: Schweizer’s Deep Right-Wing Ties

Schweizer Previously Pushed Dishonest Smears Of Pelosi In Prior Book

Schweizer Wrote Falsehood-Laden Op-ed Accusing Al Gore Of “Hypocrisy”

Schweizer Authored Book Blaming “Big Government Liberals” For Financial Meltdown ( A reminder that far Right conservatives controlled all three branches of government during six of Bush 43’s eight years in office. If they wanted to reign in Wall Street and balance the budget they could have easily done so.)


As DownWithTyranny also points out, ” Schweizer is the editor-in-chief of one of right-wing superloon Andrew Breitbart’s websites”. As I write Breitbart is flogging the story with an emphasis on Pelosi and acting as though conservatives are mere pikers in the gathering wealth via their Washington insider status. You might say as DWT says that when it comes to shady money it is the one area where both parties are somewhat bipartisan. Though make no mistake Republicans are the masters of corruption, Democrats the talented amateurs. As we do not live in that progressive liberal world where there are strict rules on campaign finance, corporations are not considered people and Congress is not held to higher standards. So if voters have a choice between the super corruption of conservatives and the not so corrupt of Democrats, the choice is obvious. If you watch politics for long enough – some of the very young participants in OWS obviously have not – you know that you never start with perfect and just tidy up around the edges. You start with the best of what is available and work to toward those lofty goals.I would not be the first to describe that work as pushing a boulder up a hill and being rolled over a few times before you achieve success.

Just a reminder that Politico represents the conservative political establishment – Some Dems refuse to back Obama

Sen. Joe Lieberman was treated like an outcast back in 2008 when he broke from the Senate Democratic Caucus and openly opposed Barack Obama’s bid for the White House.

Asked last week if he’d back Obama in 2012, the Connecticut independent said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

This time around, there may be more Liebermans.

A number of moderate Democrats like Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar and liberals like Sen. Bernie Sanders are declining to give their unqualified support for the president, saying they’re either too focused on their own races or are calling on the White House to cater to their agendas before they will offer an endorsement.

Joe Lieberman is an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, and generally votes with cons. Bernie Sanders is an Independent who is an actual progressive. Besides Al Franken, maybe the only real progressive in the Senate. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) barely qualifies as a Democrat. He is in office because his Republican opponent was so far to the Right, so gaffe prone and actually lived in Florida. Manchin has no ambitions to be the kind of man of the people Robert Byrd was. Given these huge gaps in truthyness at the beginning of the piece it is easy to over look some not bad analysis further down.

“Not only are Democrats unified in their opposition to the sorts of policies Mitt Romney has laid out: privatizing Medicare, gutting Social Security, letting Wall Street write its own rules again, and making middle-class families pay for tax breaks for large corporations, but even Republicans are running away from him,” LaBolt said.

To be sure, Obama still has support from many moderate Democrats, and that backing could very well grow once the general election campaign starts in earnest.

“My answer would be ‘Heck yes, indubitably.’ I will be out there campaigning wholeheartedly for Obama for 2012,” said Rep. Joe Baca, a California Blue Dog Democrat who said he would be a surrogate for the president. “I believe he’s done a great job in leading us in face of bitter partisan attacks.”

What Democratic and moderate Independents could do is make the Wisconsin mistake in 2012. Oh gee I’m not thrilled with my choices so I’ll stay home. Than we’ll have someone like Governor Hosni Mubarak Scott Walker as president instead of governor. Though he would have easily fended off most of the likely challengers it would have been good for Obama and the Democratic party to have had a primary challenge. It would have been a stinging reminder to Obama he was elected as a Democrat, not a Republican-lite president.

Does government regulation really kill jobs? Economists say overall effect minimal. I’ll cut to the bottom line – conservative hysterics over regulation are as relevant as what Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh thinks about anything.

The critique of regulations fits into a broader conservative narrative about government overreach. But it also comes after a string of disasters in recent years that were tied to government regulators falling short, including the financial crisis of 2008, the BP oil spill and the West Virginia mining accident last year.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that very few layoffs are caused principally by tougher rules.

Whenever a firm lays off workers, the bureau asks executives the biggest reason for the job cuts.

In 2010, 0.3 percent of the people who lost their jobs in layoffs were let go because of “government regulations/intervention.” By comparison, 25 percent were laid off because of a drop in business demand.

Let’s talk about costs to the nation and the average American. We would not be having a recession if we had Glass-Steagall and the original strong Volcker Rule in effect. I assume that conservatives and libertarians are also consumers. As such one would think they would get tired of getting the shaft from corporations so big they don’t care if you threaten to stop doing business with them because in some areas the choices of  services and products are so limited – The Telecom Scam: 5 Behemoths That Strangle Innovation and Ensure You Pay Too Much for Bad Service. Let’s say you subscribe to a 5mb plan from a telecom ISP. The most you ever get is 4mb. Try calling to complain. They’ll refer you to some fine print that says that do not guarantee you’ll get the speed you subscribed to. Who are the great enablers of this attitude from corporate America that consumers are disposable? Conservatives and the usual DINOs.

Foes: Elizabeth Warren bombs on Iran – GOP blasts candidate’s ‘troubling’ stance on nukes. Conservatives think paranoia is a feature, not a personality disorder. That feature got us into a war that may eventually cost $3 trillion. Iran is still subject to IAEA inspections. There is no evidence they have developed a nuclear weapon or will have one in the near future. Everyone thinks North Korea’s Kim Jong is a nutcake. N.K tested a nuke during the Bush administration. The N.K. still has not launched a nuclear war. If Iran developed a nuke and used it, they know it would be like committing suicide. Is it really the Right’s assertion, with absolute certainty that Iran is crazier than Jong.

Republicans Claim The Stimulus Did Nor Create Jobs and Government Cannot Create Jobs

…Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) kicked it old school on Thursday by cutting the ribbon on a new road that received millions from the same spending bill he opposed.

Guinta spoke at the opening ceremony for Raymond Wieczorek Drive, a new access road connecting various towns to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. Later he posted a picture of the event on his official Facebook page. Other attendees included Gov. John Lynch (D) and New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien.

“It’s going to help us with our tourism, our economy, and it’s going to provide us greater flexibility for our residents, our business commuters, and those visiting our state,” Guinta said at the event. “It’s a real example of how when we put our mind to it we can accomplish anything we want to accomplish.”

Steve say that it is understandable that conservatives would take a piece of the pie as long as slices are being handed out. Which is actually consistent with conservative behavior, though not with their rhetoric. Not having the courage of their convictions or any consistency about them in regards to government spending is old news. Thus Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) is your typical Rethuglican pretzel. He’ll bend any which way that makes him look good, convictions optional.


Rules are not necessarily sacred, principles are.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Early November Autumn wallpaper – Republican Delusions About Race and Wealth

Early November Autumn wallpaper

Just when you think The New Republic has gathered some semblance of journalistic integrity ( I was regularly reading   Jonathan Chait, who has moved on to New York Magazine) they post columns like this – Herman Cain Played the Race Card, But Liberals Are the Ones Who Dealt It by John McWhorter

Let us imagine for a moment that a woman came forth claiming that Barack Obama had sexually harassed her fifteen years ago. What would the reaction be from liberal partisans, and assorted other supporters? We can easily imagine that there would be urgent questions about the motivations of the woman who came forward, and the media outlets that broke the news. There would likely be a furious attendance to the possibly “racist” aspects of the coverage. There would be an almost cavalier neglect of the gravity of the charge itself, as if it were somehow utterly beyond consideration that Obama had actually done it. And if the accuser were white, well, that would only further fuel liberal suspicions.

In short, the response to such allegations against Obama would involve playing the race card—and it would bear a strong resemblance to the way Herman Cain has responded to his own sexual harassment scandal. The left has been outraged at the Cain campaign’s response, but it also ought to feel a pang of recognition. If the race card is still a viable part of our national discourse in the Obama era, it is so at the behest of liberals—and it’s no less odious or callow when it is played by the left as when it is by the right.

This reads a lot like some neo-liberal nonsense trying to pass itself off as the ever so rational middle ground when it’s just right-wing talking points with ribbons and bows. Let’s take up McWhorter’s inverted logic on its face. Is Cain than playing the race card or engaging in black on black racism when he makes a disparaging joke about Anita Hill. Cain proved his right-wing bona fides with that little bit of insider wink and nod at getting away with lying about sexual harassment. After all Anita Hill was correct, Clarence Thomas lied under oath. Cain seems to be just plain lying. I think most would and should forgive and forget if Cain had made one offensive joke. That is not the case. He has engaged in a pattern of behavior that does not reflect well on his character. From the very beginning of the allegations  – which quickly came to number four and we’re still counting – Cain’s denials have been inconsistent ( among those who say Cain did engage in harassment are a Republican pollster) . Is that a case of the race card in play or caring about the facts regardless of ethnicity. Cain and the Right are the ones doing the race baiting, black on black racism and not just questioning the veracity of the women involved, they’re doubling down with another wave of harassment – Limbaugh: Gloria Allred Clarified Pronunciation Of Cain Accuser’s Name: It’s “Buy-A-Lick, As In [Slurping Sound] Buy-A-Lick”.  We’ve all been here before. Conservatives and pretend liberals like McWhorter see racial inequality as something to be dismissive of, while liberals see racism as a real phenomenon to be addressed. If liberals point out racism conservatives condemn them for pointing it out. To conservatives calling them out on their racism and throwing yet another race card temper tantrum is code for stop bothering them while they put on another kabuki festival of faux outrage. If Cain were white they’d still be strangling the truth and calling the victims names. Their playbook does not have a section about lines one never crosses because of ethics. In the conservative movement malicious, evil and devious are rationalized in the name of victory and power.

Senate candidate Clark Durant: ‘I am Debbie Stabenow’s worst nightmare’

The Grand Rapids Press U.S. Senate candidate Clark Durant, next to student Dave Eberle, talks to a group of College Conservatives at Calvin College on Thursday afternoon.

[  ]…“Does anybody think Steve Jobs should not be (sic) in the 1 percent? He made life better for the 99 percent of the rest of us. You want to create opportunities for people with their unique gifts,” he said. “They have created value and wealth.”

Durant is not America’s worse nightmare he is just another clone of the same old nightmare. A champion of delusions and dog-eat-dog plutocracy. Neither Durant or Jobs ( a Democrats by the way) ever made a dollar without labor. Some shmuck somewhere provided the labor, the service, the expertise that made Durant and Job’s wealth possible ( Jobs did not even invent Apple, Steve Wozniak made the circuit board and they put the GUI for their operating system on top of Unix – which many people used to create things and make money). I’m not calling Durant or the millions of people on the Right who think like Durant names when I say they are delusional. They are genuinely detached from reality. Abraham Lincoln said, “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”. A recent article about the Durants who believe in economic pixie dust – The Wrath of Ayn Rand

In her popular novels, Rand glorifies ambitious, fiercely independent individuals who soar and succeed by virtue of their own resources and willpower alone. It’s her ode to individualism that captivates her fans. Also the simplicity of her world view, I suspect: Rand’s is a Manichean universe populated by a few great souls on one side, and the inept masses on the other; the masses would perennially muddle in their own misery if not for the exceptional creativity and bravery of a few to do great things, and it’s up to the masses to keep out of their way. In Atlas Shrugged, Rand declares “The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time.” Upon little reflection, Rand’s reasoning is obviously specious. Who on earth rises to the top without the help of someone, anyone at all? Indeed, luck plays an important role in a person’s success, too—if you evaluate it honestly, that is. Rand’s thinking is a pleasant enough fiction for those at the top of the heap, but it’s wholly improbable, naïve—and rude.

Durant sees himself as some fictional superhero even as he lives off the expertise of others. This site’s front page is a daily reminder of the basic researcher that comes via public investment in science and technology. Discoveries made by people who are much smarter and harder working than the right-wing fake superheroes of commerce. The next generation of electronics is going to be based on graphene, whose discovery was financed by the American public.

Ari Berman on how Karl Rove’s latest smear tactics against Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Jon Tester are backfiring

The Nation’s Ari Berman says Karl Rove’s latest attack ads against Sen. Jon Tester and Elizabeth Warren are further damaging Rove’s credibility and having the opposite of his intended effect. “We saw, for example, after that ad ran, a ton of people flooded the Elizabeth Warren website. Made a lot of donations. And it helped her profile – it didn’t hurt her at all,” says Berman.

The ads, shocker, are fast and loose with the truth as well. Rove is living up to that Faustian deal he made in his youth. Though Unka Karl being an atheist I assume he is not worried about having to pay off the deal with a soul.

Black and White Beach Rays of Light wallpaper – The day in conservative conspiracy theories

art photography, black and white landscape

Black and White Beach Rays of Light wallpaper


This strikes me as weird even though the norm for conservative pundits is weird –  THE CONSPIRACY THEORY RIGHT-WINGERS HAVE COMPLETELY OVERLOOKED

Ann Coulter and Kerry Picket of The Washington Times have been flogging the preposterous notion that there’s a sinister Chicago connection to the leaking of the Herman Cain sex story — the culprit is said to be Rahm Emanuel, or David Axelrod, or Sheila O’Grady, who was chief of staff to Richard Daley the Younger when he was mayor of Chicago, and who now heads the Illinois Restaurant Association. (This theory is preposterous because it presupposes that Democrats actually want Cain out of the race.)

But why isn’t there a conspiracy theory involving sinister Democrats and the implosion of the Rick Perry campaign? After all, he was once the GOP front-runner. He matches the demographic profile of the last three Republican presidential election winners (if you count W twice): an intellectual-lightweight Texan who can’t form a coherent sentence. He was a threat. And now his campaign is over…


First, Cain’s lack of respect for women, and possibly illegal behavior towards them,  is not costing him any political support from conservatives. Second, why would anyone care what Ann Coulter or Kerry Picket think. Asking them for their advice and insights is like getting some custard on your chin and  using sand paper instead of a napkin to get it off. Coulter in particular is one long joke. She has been milking the rubes for her champagne money longer than Glenn Beck has been making fun of women who have miscarriages. These are not fountains of political wisdom, they are ghosts of the Confederacy. While it is always best not to under-estimate one’s adversaries Cain would not even be a spectacular flame-out in the general election, he’d be the twice daily embarrassment born of right-wing assclownery. Which is pretty much the same that could be said of a Perry candidacy. The Right was never going to let Bachmann become president. Rick Santorum makes even the Right nauseous. And by all means bring on Newt. He has more baggage than a fully loaded 747.

Roger Simon is a conservative and a pundit. Even he smells the reality – Falling in like with Mitt Romney

And why shouldn’t they? In debate after debate, he has proven himself to be the least bad candidate on the stage.

The candidates who surge after him, or even in front of him, in the polls always seems to come to a bad end.

Michele Bachmann? By the time reporters had learned how to spell her name correctly, she had disappeared from serious contention.

Rick Perry? Well, Texans understand brands. They burn them into cattle. And after the CNBC debate Wednesday night, when Perry was unable to remember his third talking point – – hey, he got two out of three, cut him some slack! – – he forever branded himself the “Oops Candidate” because “oops” is what he was forced to reply after racking his brain for an answer after several agonizing, live-TV seconds.

Herman Cain? Well, Cain’s problem can be summed up easily: Are the Republicans willing to nominate a candidate who almost certainly will lose to Obama next November? And are they willing to nominate a candidate who could bring down a few crucial GOP Senate and House candidates along with him?

I think the Hermanator still has a chance. Or maybe I’m just hoping because Cain’s has taken the elitist entitled dementia of conservative feudalism to new heights, he will be the most fun to see knocked off his high horse. Redstate’s touch my dish detergent and you’ll die Erick Erickson wrote this recently, Mitt Romney as the Nominee: Conservatism Dies and Barack Obama Wins ( as you can see by the links many conservatives sites agree)

Mitt Romney is not the George W. Bush of 2012 — he is the Harriet Miers of 2012, only conservative because a few conservative grand pooh-bahs tell us Mitt Romney is conservative and for no other reason.

That is precisely why Mitt Romney will not win in 2012. But no worry, once he loses, Republican establishment types will blame conservatives for not doing enough for Mitt Romney, never mind that Mitt Romney has never been able to sell himself to more than 25% of the GOP voters. It’s not his fault though, it is the 75%’s fault.

Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee. And his general election campaign will be an utter disaster for conservatives as he takes the GOP down with him and burns up what it means to be a conservative in the process.


I remember reading the after election analysis by the Right in 2008. Guess what. In their minds they lost because of a weak candidate. Sarah Palin apparently read none of those columns as she teased her fans with a possible candidacy for two years. When they lose in 2012 – they’ll lose the presidential race, a good possibility they’ll lose their majority in the House and at least one Senate seat – they’ll cry weak candidates than as well.

This is more about the conservative media and Drudge than Cain – Right-Wing Media Try To Discredit Cain Accuser With Lame Obama Administration Link 

In continuing to defend Herman Cain, the right-wing media have tried to connect one of Cain’s accusers to the Obama administration. The Drudge Report said that the woman in question, Karen Kraushaar, “works in the Obama administration,” while The Blaze said she “works for the Obama administration.” However, Kraushaar also held positions in the federal government during both the Bush and Clinton administrations.

The Drudge Report:

The Blaze:

According to the story from The Daily that first named her publicly, Kraushaar has served in several government agencies:

Karen Kraushaar currently serves as a communications director at the Inspector General’s Office of the Treasury Department, a position she has held since last year.


After the settlement, Kraushaar served as a spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the predecessor of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She was a chief spokeswoman during one of the agency’s most controversial immigration cases — the custody battle over Elian Gonzalez, a Cuban boy rescued at sea who was then held by Florida relatives against the will of his father in Cuba. The boy was eventually returned to his dad.

In 2003, Kraushaar was a communications specialist for the Tax Advocate Service, an independent arm within the Internal Revenue Service that helps impoverished taxpayers.

In addition, the head of the agency Kraushaar reportedly works for now, the Treasury Department inspector general’s office, is a Bush appointee.


The worse one could say about the lady as of today is that she is a career bureaucrat. Some myths like fire-breathing dragons and frog princes are fun, others are just tiresome, like the one about conservatives being the party of small government. They love a good gov’mint paycheck when the opportunity arises. On his way out of office Bush made as many crony appointments as he could – Bush Makes More Last-Minute Appointments.


Hannity: Occupy Wall Street Protesters “Sound Like Skinhead Nazi Psychos” – Does it take one to know one. If Hannity was under some medication that only allowed him to make fact based arguments his program would consist of him looking silently into the camera for thirty minutes. Hannity, like Coulter and Limbaugh specialize in politics by smear. Part of it is just bad carnival act, but some of it is what they actually believe looking at the world through red tinted glasses..

Finally, do wing-nuts proof read their own copy before publishing what is supposed to be a big gotcha – Under oath, Holder discredits ‘Bush did it too’ excuse for ‘Gunwalker’

Cornyn then asked Holder if he knew that Operation Wide Receiver was run in conjunction with the Mexican government–Fast and Furious was kept secret from not only Mexico, but from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) attaché to Mexico, Darren Gil.  Gil, in fact, after discovering on his own what was going on, was basically pushed into retirement when he balked at the near act of war of “walking” guns into Mexico without the Mexican government’s knowledge or permission.

The secrecy aspect within a small circle of the ATF is one of the reasons Holder did not know about the operation.

Obama and Holder never denied knowing about Project Gunrunner, a high-profile effort begun under the Bush administration in which ATF agents were directed from other offices to the Mexican border region in order to reduce cross-border gun trafficking. They have consistently denied knowledge of the details of Fast and Furious, the failed operation run under Project Gunrunner by a team from the ATF’s Phoenix office, in which agents allowed guns to be transferred to known traffickers in the hopes of building a complex conspiracy case against cartels.

The Recovery Act funded Project Gunrunner operations, but not in Phoenix. Holder’s speech references Project Gunrunner, but not Fast and Furious.

Holder’s Critics Are NRA’s Paid Congressional Gunslingers 

This election cycle alone, the NRA has contributed $19,950 to the Republicans going after Holder, including $6,950 to the vocal Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID). Lifetime contributions to these Republicans exceed $133,000.

One of the reason the Right has held multiple hearings is they cannot for the life of them find a paper trail that leads back to Holder. So they’re relying on badgering the witness to get sound bites they can twist to mean what they want them to mean.

Antique Map of Africa 1652 – Republican Budget Proposal Continues The Class Warfare They Deny

Antique Map of Africa 1652

Antique World Map Eastern Western Hemispheres 1876

Leaks about budget bargains tend to be frustrating. While we all a potentially  unlimited supply of outrage there are grand bargains in the rumor mill which can use up a lot of outrage. Only to disappear as quickly as they started. I hope this is one of those times because Democrats would be losing a tremendous amount of leverage. That actually might be the intention of the leak. To test how the public reacts. G.O.P. Talks of Limiting Tax Breaks or are the tea party captives really going to increase taxes?

Republican members of a Congressional panel seeking ways to cut the federal budget deficit indicated on Monday that they might allow some additional tax revenue as part of a deal with Democrats.

The Republicans met Monday to consider a proposal that would raise additional revenue by limiting some income tax deductions that primarily benefit higher-income households.

Republicans cited the proposal as evidence that they were open to ideas that would raise revenue and thus help reduce the federal budget deficit, which has exceeded $1.2 trillion in each of the last three years.

While these little tax give-a-ways or incentives were part of the kind of tax “increases” President Obama was talking about during the debt ceiling hostage crisis, they still ain’t no big thing in the way of concessions… like lower deductions for the multimillion dollar second home. Thus the reason I tend to think this was a Republican tell their side to the press first story. Hey, look at us Republicans disengaging our lips from Grover Norquist’s ass, being all ready to COMPROMISE.

Under the proposal, Republicans would agree to limit certain itemized tax deductions in return for a permanent reduction in marginal tax rates. This would not just extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, but reduce the rates that apply to each additional dollar of a taxpayer’s income.

[  ]…A Republican with knowledge of the talks said that limiting tax breaks was a major concession. As an example of such tax breaks, Republicans pointed to the deduction allowed for mortgage interest on a second home.

Republicans offer tea-spoon of water to dying man in desert, claim they showered him with generosity.  Or as Jonathan Chait notes – Republicans Offer Yet Another Terrible Debt Deal

There is, however, a catch:

In exchange, Democrats would agree to make the Bush income-tax cuts permanent. This would mean preventing top rates from going to 42% from 35% today, and keeping the capital gains and dividend tax rate at 15%, as opposed to plans to raise them to 23.8% or higher after 2013.

Let me explain this part. The Bush tax cuts are scheduled to expire at the end of next year. This is a huge amount of leverage for Democrats — unless the House, Senate, and president can agree, taxes will return to Clinton-era levels at the beginning of 2013. The Republicans want to stop that from happening. The deal leaked to Moore is that they will agree to reduce some tax deductions, in return for which Democrats will agree to make the tax cuts permanent, in return for which Democrats will also agree to reduce entitlement spending.

Anybody see a problem with this deal? Yes: Democrats would be giving away an enormous amount of future leverage. Passing a bill to raise revenue is extremely hard. Passing any bill is extremely hard. When you stand to gain from nothing happening, you’re in a very strong position.

Republicans have very little leverage now. The public is starting to see that conservatives care more about the right-wing agenda and destroying Obama than they do about deficits or jobs or acting even marginally like responsible adults. The far Right game remains the same – gut Medicare, Medicaid, give everyone’s Social Security contributions to Wall Street to play with, gut public education, gut science spending on everything but defense. In that version of the future we live in a dog-eat-dog dystrophy. Not a civilized society. When you read forums and comment sections and conservatives complain about a few cents of every dollar going to pay for the social safety net what they are yearning for is failure. To see a future America based on right-wing fantasies look back at European societies pre-20th century or pre-New Deal America. There were a few very wealthy at the top, a small middle-class and lots of poor people. As we know they were not the best of times. Things did not end well for the greedy plutocrats in Europe either. America fared better because FDR took on the economic injustice where the capital produced by labor were being redistributed upward. Poll: 50 Percent Say GOP Is ‘Intentionally Stalling’ Economy To Hurt Obama

In the real world of work we and our co-workers say offensive things, tell offensive jokes or have generally offensive attitudes about some group or issue. The thing about the work place is you can’t walk away. It’s not like when your friend tells a bad joke and you can tell them off. You’re a captive to the need to provide food and shelter for yourself. That said I still try to be tolerant. Humans are flawed by nature and everyone screws up on occasion. The problem with Herman Cain is that he has, from positions of authority, screwed up multiple times. He was never fired. His victims appear to have been compensated but went on to work elsewhere or were forced out. This is what happens when you come forward – Cain accuser has history of financial troubles, legal squabbles. Her father, fiance say they stand with her. Maybe this woman has some ulterior motive. Records indicate she is a Republican, but that has not stopped the Right from ganging up on her. It is possible to reserve judgement about her veracity without calling her names. One thing that continues to be true about the Cain scandals is they are no help at all to Democrats. On the other hand they are being exploited by Cain’s conservative opponents – Now Newt smells blood – The Herman Cain groping scandal could be the former Speaker’s ticket to that elusive surge — and he knows it. There is also the traditional Republican establishment element. None other than establishment icon Bill Bennett – who once wrote a book claiming without the slightest bit of irony or shame that conservatives had cornered the market on values – has called on Cain to make a full account of his actions. Remarkably, after her initial remarks about Cain not being a reliable conservative candidate – Michele Bachmann has only made some round-about criticisms of Cain.

Rachel Maddow looks at how surreal the Cain candidacy has been. This is a little long, but hilarious. Partisanship aside I tend to see all politics having an absurdest  performance art aspect. Maddow realizes that Herman Cain is an art project

Two Trees Winter Landscape wallpaper – Delicate Conservatives Hide Behind Delusions

field, snow,horizon

Two Trees Winter Landscape wallpaper

Last Sunday the WaPo did what many moderates thought was a hot piece on Social Security. Rather than admit they were just plain wrong they have doubled down with ombudsman Patrick B. Pexton defending the piece. He says he talked to everyone across the political spectrum with liberals not liking the story, conservative wing-nuts thinking it was absolutely correct and an economist described as centrist who also thought the piece was mostly correct. Here we go again with the rational people say earth is a rounded pear shape while flat earthers disagree approach to journalism. Sometimes there is not a difference of opinion. There are facts and then there is spin. Economist Dean Baker writes – WAPO Ombudsman Defends Hit Job on Social Security

Social Security has not gone “cash negative” in the sense that the trust fund is still growing. While current benefit payments exceed designated Social Security tax revenue, the income to the system, which includes interest on its holdings of government bonds, still exceeds benefit payments.

In this sense it is simply wrong to say that the system is cash negative. More money is still coming into the system than is going out. Obviously the Post meant to say that benefit payments exceed tax revenue, but tax revenue is only part of the income for the program. It is a serious failure by the Post to ignore the income stream from interest payments, which is compounded by the failure of the ombudsman to recognize this failure.

This is really not something that is arguable — Social Security has a stream of income from the interest on its bonds. The Post and its ombudsman may not like this fact, but it is nonetheless true.

The ombudsman also chose to ignore several misleading or false claims that the Post used to advance its Social Security crisis story. For example, the original piece told readers that “the payroll tax holiday is depriving the system of revenue.” This is not true. Under the law, the Social Security system is fully reimbursed for the money not collected as a result of the payroll tax holiday.

The piece also claimed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was wrong when he claimed that Social Security was not contributing to the budget deficit. In fact, under the law Social Security has a separate budget that is not part of the on-budget budget. The program can only spend money from its own trust fund, which is money raised through designated taxes or the bonds purchased with this tax revenue. For this reason, it cannot legally contribute to the budget deficit.


The urban myth that there is no Social Security trust fund has been a favorite of the black helicopter crowd for years. They can’t win the argument on the merits so pull whatever they can out of their backsides and insist in all caps that they are right. They’ve been watching too much Bill O’Reilly. Just because you repeat the same lies louder does not magically make them true. One other head spinning tactic is to tie Social Security to the general deficit – as done by this arrogant delusional conservative at Parapundit – Americans In Denial About Medicare And Social Security. Throwing Medicare and Social Security funding issues together also further muddies the water. His commenters join in with a lot of regulated myths about Social Security, Medicare and the deficit. It’s similar to pigs wallowing in mud, these prefer lies that reassure themselves their wacky cardboard house of misinformation is as sturdy as a rock.

There are people in mental hospitals who are less delusional than proto-fascist William Kristol at The Weekly Standard. It’s Not 1980 Anymore

For every American conservative, not once but whenever he wants it, it’s always the evening of November 4, 1980, the instant when we knew Ronald Reagan, the man who gave the speech in the lost cause of 1964, leader of the movement since 1966, derided by liberal elites and despised by the Republican establishment, the moment when we knew—he’d won, we’d won, the impossible dream was possible, the desperate gamble of modern conservatism might pay off, conservatism had a chance, America had a chance.


This would be the same Regan who had the government seize the savings and loans after they tanked. If President Obama had done the same thing with the too big to fail banks conservatives would have called him a communist. Obama did not seize the banks and break them into smaller competitive enterprises, but the Right calls him a commie anyway. This was the Reagan who gave us the HUD scandal where conservatives took government contracts to build housing for the poor and fell all over themselves cheating tax payers and the poor. This the same Reagan who said government was not the answer and increased the the size of government more percentage wise than either Carter or Clinton or Obama. This is the Reagan who saw deficits increasing so raised taxes four times. Kristol is looking forward to the 2012 elections with the same foggy clarity he sees Reagan – who in economic terms was probably slightly to the left of Obama,

These other models for conservative success in 2012 need to be studied for their lessons and adapted to our times. Reversing Obama’s weakness abroad, repealing Obamacare, restoring solvency and prosperity and limiting government at home, these are tasks too important not to be achieved because of our nostalgic disappointment that we will not, in 2012, replay a moment that is not to be again—and that perhaps never truly was.

Still, for every conservative of a certain age, there is the instant when it’s Election Day 1980, and the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out.. .

Threats of a violent revolution Nov 14, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 09 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL at The Weekly Standard

Just looking at Obama’s foreign policy through a right-wing lens – Obama has killed or captured multiple top-level terrorist including Bin Laden. has helped Egypt and Libya become at slightly more democratic nations without losing a single solder’s life. Repealing health care reform would increase the federal deficit by almost a quarter of $1 trillion over the next 10 years and more than $1 trillion more over the following decade.

As for the guns ready and the fake patriots laying in wait. Only a conservative proto-fascist like Kristol can get away with that kind of language.

No, there is no way Herman Cain is just another corrupt right-wing loon. He’s different. He’s an outsider – Koch-backed group confirms financial ties to Cain campaign manager

One of those groups, Prosperity USA, paid for $37,000 in expenses, including iPads, charter flights and items, for Cain’s presidential campaign, according to financial documents disclosed this week by the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

Non-profits are barred by law from paying for campaign expenses, and when the allegations  first surfaced this week — at the same time as the sexual harassment charges against the presidential candidate — Cain said he would order an investigation of whether there were improper campaign violations.


I am shocked and disappointed to find that The Hermanator, the master of business and economics did not know before hand that having your sugar daddies launder money through a non-profit was illegal.

The Gothamist gets how populist movements are so easily undermined – Alleged Occupy Wall Street Protester Had McDonald’s Meltdown

According to the NY Post, an Occupy Wall Street protester had a temper tantrum in the McDonald’s near Zuccotti Park yesterday, after employees allegedly refused to give him free food. Fisika Bezabeh, 27, allegedly ripped a credit-card reader from a counter and threw it at workers just after 2 a.m. last night (could he have an relation to boxer Fasika Bezabeh?). However, the Post specifies that Bezabeh was only “seen hanging out” with protesters, so it’s unclear whether he actually is part of OWS, or just one of a growing number of rabble rousers who have descended upon Zuccotti to stir up trouble and inspire some fun headlines for the rag.

After all, the Post hasn’t exactly been Occupy Wall Street’s biggest fan since its inception—but their contempt for OWS has blossomed this week into an all-out hit job, with catty cover headlines (“Zoo-Cotti!”), bitter editorials, and lots of exclusives about “protesters”—or you know, anyone hanging out in lower Manhattan, regardless of associations—behaving badly.

To that end, they also report today that, as their misleading headline put it, “‘Occupy’ bum busted for peeing on cop car.” But in the story itself, they clarify that 26-year-old Edgar Rivera is a drunken man who has “been crashing with the Occupy Wall Street protesters” was arrested for urinating on an NYPD van parked next to Zuccotti Park. But hey, this is a newspaper who labels a photo of a WWII veteran struck and killed by an NYPD car as “geezerkilled”.

yet another vet has been battered by police – Brew Pub Owner/Vet Oakland Cops Almost Killed+Video of Beating & Sister’s interview (UPDATEDx3)

UPDATE:  Local El Cerrito newspaper where Sabeghi’s Brew Pub, Elevation 66 is located has a story with a photo of Mr. Sabeghi in the sidebar.

Kayvan Sabeghi, one of the three main [partners] who started the popular Elevation 66 brewpub in El Cerrito, suffered a lacerated spleen and other injuries in a beating by Oakland police on duty for the Occupy Oakland protests Wednesday night, according to the UK Guardian newspaper and one of his Sabeghi’s partners. […]Brian Kelly, another partner at Elevation 66, told Patch this afternoon (Friday) that he had talked to Sabeghi Thursday.

“He was walking down 14th (14th Street in Oakland) away from the protest,” Kelly said. “He walking to his house. He got beaten by police. He’s got a lacerated spleen, maybe a couple of broken ribs too.”


This seems to be the best write-up of the protester hit by a car and the police failing ti further investigate or charge anyone – Car Hits Three Protesters at Occupy DC Rally, Driver Held (VIDEO)

There is the counter assertion flocked by the far Right Daily caller and echoed by conservative bloggers that Occupy DC protesters knocked down an elderly woman while protesting the Koch brothers circle jerk of Bill Krsitol’s elite friends – Occupy protest turns violent outside Washington Convention Center. I watched the video twice. It’s actually two different women who were attending the event who either fell or were knocked down somehow as they left the event. What is clear is that no protester is shown knocking them down. If The DC has video that shows that they need to produce it rather than claiming this video shows such an assault. Because of all the pushing and shoving, the general jostling of the crowd that could have led to the women falling. I think it is terrible that even that might be the cause. But it is an important distinction to make that they seemed to have fallen because of the combination of behavior by the protesters, the police and the participants rather than a protester singling them out and shoving them to the ground. Wing-nut Robert Stacey McCain states as an absolute certainty the older woman was shoved by protesters even though the video shows no such thing.  #OWS Protesters Attempt to Storm AFP Defending the American Dream Summit and adds,

UPDATE IV: Welcome, Instapundit readers! It’s stuff like this that makes you nostalgic for the Good Old Days of real police brutality.(emphasis mine)


Having been awaken from their caves by all the “smelly hippies” McCain commenters chime in,

Be safe down there, those people are animals, Barack Obama has allowed his degenerates to destroy ANY attempt at comity in this Country, it is indeed WAR! Adjoran

As Ann Coulter once observed, this kind of nonsense suddenly stopped after some of them got shot up and killed at Kent State.

Time to start meeting mob violence with lawful deadly force.  Then it won’t be so fun. nobodyimportant

That s the general drift of the Wuss Keyboard Brigade that brought us the Iraq debacle, crashed the economy and ran government like The Right-Wing Mob.


Brass Anchor and Old Map wallpaper – Tales of Modern Misanthropes

Brass Anchor and Old Map wallpaper


There was no way a sexual harassment scandal involving Herman Cain would benefit liberals. What with their victim-hood complex and that complex goes especially deep in Cain himself. “The Daily Show” takes on Ann Coulter’s race-baiting logic – Video at link.

Most by now are probably familiar with Ann Coulter’s declaration, when discussing the Herman Cain sexual harassment debacle earlier this week, that “our blacks are so much better than their blacks.” Most probably weren’t all that shocked to hear this sort of race-baiting from Coulter, who’s made a lucrative career dispensing right-wing vitriol. Most probably just ignored her uncouth remarks and moved on.

Coulter is like a one woman clown show. She has a terrible allergy to facts. Specializing in middle-school politics of who can think up the the most venal epitaphs to hurl. The most venal wins. Facts are not and never have been part of the equation. Their blacks are better? That is not a fact, but the rabid rantings of someone desperate for attention. Please someone give Coulter her warm bottle of pabulum before she starts choking on her own vitriol. Cain’s popularity and campaign contributions have gone up with the growth of the scandal. Part of that is because some believe Cain is a victim, while others simply believe it is alright to sexually harass women in the work place. So who would stand to benefit from a Cain scandal? Sure the village wing-nuts think Cain would demolish President Obama is a debate. That might be because thus far Cain has been debating the Tapioca Pudding brigade. Let’s back up and ask who originally broke the story of Cain’s background. Politico. A lot of people think Politico is just a political news site. It even publishes a little bit of liberal opinion. This is pretty much SOP for a Right leaning site that wants the appearance of impartiality. Frederick J. Ryan Jr. is CEO and president of Politico. He was formerly Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. James VandeHei is the executive editor and co-founder of Politico. He is married to a former staffer for Tom Delay (R-TX). There was and probably still is some speculation among conservative bloggers that someone in Rick Perry’s camp leaked the sexual harassment info – even Cain is pointing at Perry as the origin of the revelations. Which weakens Coulter and others claim that this is some liberal plot against “their blacks”. In response to the charges against Cain, Michelle Bachmann said – “This is the year when we can’t have any surprises with our candidate.” For whatever weird sociological reasons, as long as the scandal does not involve children ( as in Mark Foley(R-Fl) conservatives seem to actually benefit from sex scandals. When conservative Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for governor of California 16 women came forward with stories or sexual harassment and it did nothing to derail his campaign. Whether they are more important or not might be debatable, but the harassment stories are distracting scrutiny of Cain on other issues – Conservative Group Investigates Top Cain Aide

The conservative Americans for Prosperity is investigating their financial dealings with Prosperity USA, the group run by Cain chief of staff Mark Block that’s been accused of illegally helping get the Cain campaign off the ground, the Center for Public Integrity reports:

Levi Russell, a spokesman for AFP, told iWatch News , that “there were financial dealings with Prosperity USA and/or the Wisconsin Prosperity Network.” The latter group is another charity that Block helped set up in Wisconsin in 2008 to boost conservative causes. It’s not clear why AFP is reviewing the latter group except that Block founded it too.

Russell said AFP was trying to “find out the timing and the nature of the transactions.”

“We want to hold off (saying more) in light of potential legal ramifications,” Russell said. AFP is expected to complete its review late next week.


Like Politico, Americans for Prosperity is part of the conservative noise machine infrastructure. It is not like conservatives to make such timely moves that reflect negatively on one of their own, unless they would prefer another candidate.

While one can understand why the conservative corporate welfare club and millionaires would love Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan. Why would working class conservatives want their taxes to go up – Right-wing Sugar Daddy Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Distorts Impact Of Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan On Low-Income Taxpayers

PolitiFact: “A National Sales Tax” Like Cain’s “Would Raise the Relative Tax Burden On Low- And Middle-Income [Earners].” Sharockman also noted in his article, “Most economists agree that a national sales tax would raise the relative tax burden on low- and middle-income earning taxpayers.” From his PolitiFact article:

Cain’s national sales tax, in effect, would attempt to make up for the reduction of federal revenue by creating the 9 percent income tax. The national sales tax, which would help fund the federal government, would be on top of state and local sales taxes, which fund state and local government. In Florida, that would create a hypothetical tax rate of 15 percent in most parts of the state. In the Wall Street Journal, Cain said the national sales tax would be levied “on all new goods.” (A good question to ask would be whether services are exempted.) Most economists agree that a national sales tax would raise the relative tax burden on low- and middle-income earning taxpayers. “The main reason is that low- and middle-income households consume more of their income than high-income households do,” said William Gale, senior fellow for economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “Another way of saying that is high-income households save more of their income than low-income households do.” [PolitiFact, 9/26/11…

Conservatives who make under $40k per year would see their taxes go up substantially under Cain’s plan ( and Rick Perry’s as well).

Mitt Romney Moves To Embrace Paul Ryan Medicare Plan [UPDATE]. We’ve covered this territory before. The Ryan plan would give Medicare recipients vouchers. Vouchers that would lead to a large increase in out of pocket medical expenses for seniors and the disabled. The only thing Romney is changing – according to a spokesman – is that participating would be voluntary. Medicare would still end up being gutted. Only the wealthy would be able to afford the higher cost necessitated by the inability for Medicare to have the kind of cost control leverage it has now.

Let’s help Elizabeth Warren hold the banks accountable by signing the petition to reinstate Glass Steagall. Bringing back Steagall would be the end of the too big to fail banks. We’d have something closer to actual capitalism with more banks competing against each other for business. This is part of what progressives have been pushing for years. It is something that Sarah Palin does not understand Palin: Protesters want bailouts just like Wall Street fat cats

Failed Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says protesters in the Occupy movement are looking for a handout just like “Wall Street fat cats.”

“I would like to know that my federal government understands a vision that believes in empowerment versus entitlement,” Palin told an audience the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Victory Dinner Thursday. “To see this struggle in action, look no further than the Occupy Wall Street movement that is going on.”

A polticeleb who makes millions off selling crap to the rubes getting self-righteous about who deserves what. All during a speech in which she praised the criminal governor of Florida who ripped off the government-tax payers for millions. Palin remains one of the most clueless people in America. She has had years to get up to speed on the most rudimentary facts and still a failure. She better love America, what other country rewards incompetence with millions of dollars. In this post about Elizabeth Warren, Palin could learn some basics about economics and how a complex free market economy works,  Elizabeth Warren really hit a nerve among conservatives with her winning message about the social contract and America’s economy.

Paul Ryan accused Warren of “telling Americans that they’re stuck in their current station in life, that they’re a victim of circumstances beyond their control, and that the government’s role is to help them cope with it.” When in fact Warren clearly explained that the economic crisis didn’t “just happen,” and that Americans aren’t “victims of circumstances beyond their control,” but of a financial sector that “broke the economy,” and politicians who were content to let it happen as long as they got a cut.

Worse yet, Ryan accused Warren of falling victim to the “fatal conceit of liberalism,” only to stumble over what sounds a lot like “the fatal conceit of conservatism.”

“Few tricks of the unsophisticated intellect are more curious than the naïve psychology of the business man, who ascribes his achievements to his own unaided efforts, in bland unconsciousness of a social order without whose continuous support and vigilant protection he would be as a lamb bleating in the desert,” wrote the great economic historian R.H. Tawney in 1926. He added pointedly that the arrogant assumption that marginal people’s “distress is a proof of demerit… has always been popular with the prosperous.”

Apparently that assumption is still popular in Republican debate audiences and among online commenters terrified of losing what little they have and desperately seeking targets that are easier to blame than the powerful interests that are actually taking them down.

For that matter, you’d think they would concur with the “common sense” of Thomas Paine — the patriot the right loves to co-opt.

No Known Restrictions: Thomas Paine by George Romney, 179? (LOC)

Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.

You might assume that a party that once upon a time called itself “The Party of Lincoln” would as honest as old Abe was about wealth and labor.


Republicans, a terribly misleading name for the misanthropes that call themselves Republicans these days, could learn something from Adam Smith, Thomas Paine and Abe Lincoln, but instead they listen to the flies buzzing around in their empty heads and mercenary hearts.

Snow Covered Autumn Leaves wallpaper – The Subprime Crisis Zombie Lie Returns

Snow Covered Autumn Leaves wallpaper


Maybe just a coincidence but since the OWS protests have gained momentum Conservatives have been trying once again to blame working class Americans, Fannie May, Freddie Mack, Bill Clinton and Barney Frank for the housing meltdown. The reasons are obvious. The private sector of the economy are never to be blamed and never to be held accountable. Modern Repubitarians see the private sector of the economy the way a cultish religious zealot see their religion. Allowing that any part of the orthodoxy is wrong – like the earth in fact revolves around the sun, not the reverse is to admit that their dogma is not perfect. If we allow that the private sector is not perfect, the whole orthodoxy is not holy and inerrant. I love free market economies. They are the only way to go as far as I’m concerned. yet free markets are run by people. As long as people do not behave perfectly or rationally 100% of the time, those free markets will need regulation.

Private lenders held the majority of sub-prime loans, not Freddie or Fannie


Myths and Facts about the Financial Crisis

Myth #3: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Caused the Crisis

The Facts
While some are attempting to scapegoat Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, economist Dean Baker recently stated that while Fannie and Freddie “got into subprime junk and helped fuel the housing bubble,” they were “trailing the irrational exuberance of the private sector” and actually lost market share to private subprime lenders in the years 2002-2007, when “the volume of private issue mortgage backed securities exploded.” – In a 2006 Securities and Exchange Commission filing (available here) covering its activities in 2004, Fannie Mae stated: “We did not participate in large amounts of these non-traditional mortgages in 2004 and 2005.” In the report, Fannie Mae also noted the growth of subprime lending and reported, “These trends and our decision not to participate in large amounts of these non-traditional mortgages contributed to a significant loss in our share of new single-family mortgage-related securities issuances to private-label issuers during this period.” – Additionally, Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on October 6, 2008, that Fannie and Freddie’s failure played a minimal role in Lehman’s demise.

And as the chart above show Fannie and Freddie do not even appear as sub-prime lenders. One of the Right’s biggest screw-ups in trying to sell their sub-prime fairy tale is that Freddie and Fannie don’t make loans directly to home buyers. What Fannie and Freddie did and they were sometimes not as diligent as they should have been was buy bulk loans from banks. Conservatives, Democrats and bankers loved this arrangment for years because it allowed banks to have more collateral on hand and make more loans.

Another myth: The Big Bad Gov’mint forced banks to make loans to people who could not afford them through the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. Free market absolutists get it wrong again – Conservatives blame the housing crisis on a 1977 law that helps-low income people get mortgages. It’s a useful story for them, but it isn’t true.

Most analysts see the sub-prime crisis as a market failure. Believing the bubble would never pop, lenders approved risky adjustable-rate mortgages, often without considering whether borrowers could afford them; families took on those loans; investors bought them in securitized form; and, all the while, regulators sat on their hands.

The revisionists say the problem wasn’t too little regulation; but too much, via CRA. The law was enacted in response to both intentional redlining and structural barriers to credit for low-income communities. CRA applies only to banks and thrifts that are federally insured; it’s conceived as a quid pro quo for that privilege, among others. This means the law doesn’t apply to independent mortgage companies (or payday lenders, check-cashers, etc.)

The law imposes on the covered depositories an affirmative duty to lend throughout the areas from which they take deposits, including poor neighborhoods. The law has teeth because regulators’ ratings of banks’ CRA performance become public and inform important decisions, notably merger approvals. Studies by the Federal Reserve and Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, among others, have shown that CRA increased lending and homeownership in poor communities without undermining banks’ profitability.

But CRA has always had critics, and they now suggest that the law went too far in encouraging banks to lend in struggling communities. Rhetoric aside, the argument turns on a simple question: In the current mortgage meltdown, did lenders approve bad loans to comply with CRA, or to make money?

The evidence strongly suggests the latter. First, consider timing. CRA was enacted in 1977. The sub-prime lending at the heart of the current crisis exploded a full quarter century later. In the mid-1990s, new CRA regulations and a wave of mergers led to a flurry of CRA activity, but, as noted by the New America Foundation’s Ellen Seidman (and by Harvard’s Joint Center), that activity “largely came to an end by 2001.” In late 2004, the Bush administration announced plans to sharply weaken CRA regulations, pulling small and mid-sized banks out from under the law’s toughest standards. Yet sub-prime lending continued, and even intensified — at the very time when activity under CRA had slowed and the law had weakened.

Second, it is hard to blame CRA for the mortgage meltdown when CRA doesn’t even apply to most of the loans that are behind it. As the University of Michigan’s Michael Barr points out, half of sub-prime loans came from those mortgage companies beyond the reach of CRA.


Private sector loans, not Fannie or Freddie, triggered crisis

Federal Reserve Board data show that:

More than 84 percent of the subprime mortgages in 2006 were issued by private lending institutions.

Private firms made nearly 83 percent of the subprime loans to low- and moderate-income borrowers that year.

Only one of the top 25 subprime lenders in 2006 was directly subject to the housing law that’s being lambasted by conservative critics.

The “turmoil in financial markets clearly was triggered by a dramatic weakening of underwriting standards for U.S. subprime mortgages, beginning in late 2004 and extending into 2007,” the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets reported Friday.


We’ve all heard of CDOs (Collateralized debt obligations) by now. These were and are financial instruments only Wall Street can create. They are basically bundles of loans. At the height of the housing bubble from the late 90s through 2007 they included home loans ( based on the idea that real estate prices would not only never go down, but would continue to increase). CDOs also came to include consumer credit card debt and even car loans. Wall Street sold these. Not Freddie or Fannie, not the  CRA program. These CDOs were often not much safer than a rouleete wheel in Vegas. To add to this crazy idea CDOs were a safe bet the same traders in these securities bought derivatives ( a kind of securities insurance). This is where AIG’s financial products division figures in. They sold the derivatives also thinking they would never have to pay off because how could anyone ever possibly lose in real estate? Just as the big banks did not have enough collateral to pay off the CDOs if the housing bubble collapsed, the insurance companies did not have the collateral to pay off the derivatives.