Sunset on the Bay Scotland wallpaper – Today in Short Republican Attention Spans and Deep Pockets

Sunset on the Bay Scotland wallpaper

 

Nate Silver has established a pretty good track record so when he calls Florida for Mittens by 15 points, the party is over. I’ve watched some of the ads run by Romney against Gingrich and Gingrich against Mitt most of these are available on YouTube). At least two of them, one from each camp ends with a layer mask photo with Mitt standing with Obama or Gingrich standing with Obama. A contest to see who is the biggest anti-Obama candidate. I’m not a political consultant, but emphasizing that contrast now seems unproductive since depending on what right-wing blog or pundit you’re reading both have yet to prove to the far Right anyway, that either of them meet the conservative zeitgeist for whatever a true conservative is in 2012.

George Packer sounds right, sounds logical in this analysis of what happens to the direction of conservatism depending on the nominee, The Republicans’ 1972

To be a sane Republican today is to hope that Romney can hang on in Florida and beyond. Not simply because he’s the most “electable” candidate—parties make a mistake when they choose based on assumptions about what other people think (remember the Democrats in 2004). A sane Republican has to want Romney as nominee in order to rule out any possibility of having Gingrich as President.

But what if Romney wins the nomination and loses the election? This scenario is still the odds-on favorite. To deduce the consequences among Republican activists, let’s imagine a counter-factual from 1972: pit Nixon against Humphrey or Muskie or Jackson, a candidate imposed on the liberal Democratic base much as conservative Republicans feel Romney is being imposed on them. A Nixon win would have convinced the liberal base that the party had not been true to its core. The theology would have hardened a little more. Next time, they’d nominate a real liberal, a candidate of the grassroots.

It’s easy to picture hard-core Republicans coming to the same conclusion: Romney and the party élite betrayed the party’s principles (again, after McCain) and gave the country four more years of the hated Obama. Never again! Next time, a real conservative! (Go back another twenty years, to the G.O.P. convention of 1952, and Senator Everett Dirksen, of Illinois, a supporter of the conservative Robert Taft, pointing at Thomas E. Dewey, the party’s moderate two-time loser, and thundering, “Don’t take us down the path to defeat again!”)

I like these counter-scenarios in their historical context, but others are not difficult to imagine. Sure at one time or another newt has endorsed mandatory health care coverage, global warming and called the conservative holy grail of budgets Paul Ryan’s(R-WI) plan to gut Medicare “right-wing social engineering”, but his career is to the Right of Romney. Sarah Palin and the First Dude have endorsed Newt. As has the clueless loon Herman Cain. A substantial part of the base, for whatever inexplicable reasons, sees Newt as being one of them. Seeing Mitt as the establishment candidate. If Wall Street and all its tangled avenues of influence are the establishment, than yea Mitt is the establishment. So let’s say Newt gets the nomination and loses. Knowing what we know about the history of conservatism and its giant shifts further and further right over the past fifty years are we going to see a more moderate shift after a Newt loss. I remember the Bush-Cheney years like it was yesterday. I am not blessed with the short-term memory of many voters. The BushCo years were a national nightmare. We have yet to recover from the gargantuan economic ineptitude and many of us will die of old age before we do. We will not recover from the Iraq debacle for decades in terms of lost treasure or lost lives. We may never reverse course n some of the erosion of Constitutional principles started by the Right from 2000 to 2008. We warned conservatives for eight years that a Democratic president might keep some of those unitary executive privileges that only exists in the sick minds of conservatives like John Yoo. In the 2010 mid-terms, barely two years after crashing the country into a radical far Right ditch, what did conservatives do, they voted even farther Right. Certainly if Romney loses we will hear the they were not true to their conservative nut core. Conservatives are not graceful winners much less graceful losers. The Right has an obsession with ideological purity. One of the reasons that Romney and Newt supporters both have plenty of ammo. That said the conservative base are capable of the kinds of mental deflections worthy of study by quantum physicists. It is very likely that any and all lessons to be learned will bounce off the tin-foil and in 2014 they’ll be voting even further right.

Gingrich or his PAC buddies have been running an ad accusing Romney of being involved with Medicare fraud. Unlike his Bain attack ad that played fast and loose withe truth, there is some substance to Romney’s complicity in the Medicare fraud – Mitt Romney: Medicare fraud allegations and ‘Blood Money’

Still, this time Winning Our Future gets closer to the mark. The case concerning Damon Clinical Laboratories is relevant because 1) Romney was a director of the firm while the fraud took place; 2) the fraud appears to have ended only after Bain sold its stake in the firm; 3) Romney personally earned nearly $500,000 from the sale of Damon; and 4) Romney’s statements about what he knew and when he knew it have been inconsistent.

[  ]…When the Globe revisited the case during Romney’s run for governor in 1992, his story was different. The Globe, disclosing that Romney had earned $473,000 from the sale, reported on Oct. 10, 2002:

“Romney said yesterday he was a proactive board member who helped to uncover the fraud. He said he and other board members became aware of the problem after another laboratory, in December 1992, was found to have committed fraud through use of a billing system similar to Damon’s. Romney said the board used its New York law firm to investigate, and as a result, the board took ‘corrective action’ months before Damon was sold to Corning.”

But Romney’s claim was not backed up by the facts, the Globe said:

“Court records — including statements from prosecutors and Damon’s own admissions — tell a different story, and reveal that the fraudulent activity occurred right up until the time Bain and other owners sold the company to Corning. Prosecutors also give sole credit to Corning for cleaning up the fraud after it purchased the company from Bain and other owners.”

Romney later acknowledged that the board did not report to federal investigators any findings from the alleged internal inquiry.

Oops, another thank you to Newt for handing Obama’s opposition research team some grist for the real fight.

Government expanding under Obama? Government shrank at an annual rate of 1.4 %. Private sector grew at an average annual rate of 3.2%

 

I believe in the free market. Though I tend to see it the way I see myself and other humans, as flawed. Conservatives see free markets as perfection. That always justly determines winners and losers. So Newt supporters have no problem with the free market determining the winner, right? Romney and super PAC spent over $15 million in Florida. Gingrich and his backers spent $4 million. In perfect free markets you always get what you pay for.

This site could care less about the rights of real live human beings, especially women, but they do love zygotes. I’m fine with individuals having the right to love their zygotes. Its called being pro women, pro choice and genuinely pro life. I can do without the none too subtle attempts at Stalinistist propaganda,  Occupy Wall Street protesters throw condoms, drown out speakers at Rhode Island pro-life rally. That anti women’s rights group and I could find a little common ground. I think it is rude and unnecessarily provocative to throw condoms. It has become common practice to shout down speakers by any and all sides. That’s rude, but who is going to stop and apologize first. What I will not buy into is the faux outrage. The anti-choice/anti-women side has gunned down doctors, bombed clinics, called in death threats, slashed tires, stalked health care workers at home and at work. OWS threw some condoms and yelled. So let’s get a little perspective and stop playing the shrill victim card.

Don’t look down: Vertigo-inducing photographs taken by daredevils who climb skyscrapers and then lean over the edge

If you’re thinking of giving this new photography craze a go, a head for heights is as essential as a camera.

Rooftopping is the heart-stopping photography movement which involves thrill seekers climbing to the top of city skyscrapers, hanging off the edge and taking pictures of the spectacular view beneath them.

Photographer Tom Ryaboi is one of the crusaders of Rooftopping. The 27-year-old, from Toronto in Canada, has climbed more than 100 buildings and produced some of the most stunning examples of the craze.

The best photos are at the link.

Pick and Guitar wallpaper – The Conservative Mind is a Terrible Thing to Ponder

music, blue

Pick and Guitar wallpaper

 

The server at this link seems to be having some issues, but in pictures and words the way things really occurred between a patient President Obama and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer(R). The latter seeming to be having what my grandparents would call a temper tantrum. In the south that finger wagging stuff is generally taken as patronizing and insulting.

It is amazing that conservatives can say garbage like this with a straight face – Romney Blasts Obama’s ‘Assaults’ on ‘Life’, ‘Religion’ and ‘Marriage’.

Romney, once a stalwart defender of Roe v. Wade, said President Obama shows a “disregard for the sanctity of human life [that] is absolutely appalling” and is leading an “assault on life” by rescinding the Mexico City Gag Rule, which bars the government from funding NGOs that use their own finances for family planning which include abortion services or referrals. Romney also distorted Obama’s statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, claiming that the President thinks pregnant women “can get rid of the child and therefore have an equal opportunity,” when actually Obama concluded his statement by saying that “we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”

He went on to say that Obama is conducting an “assault on religion” through the administration’s opposition to employment discrimination on religious grounds and attempts to ensure that women cannot be refused birth control coverage in their insurance plans or medical procedures because of loopholes, calling it “an assault on religion unlike anything we have seen.”

The very same day those words hit the news wires – Why Evangelicals Don’t Like Mormons

According to a CNN exit poll of South Carolina Republican primary voters, Newt Gingrich, a thrice-married Catholic, won twice as much support from evangelical Protestants as Mitt Romney, a Protestant. And among voters for whom religion meant “a great deal,” 46 percent voted for Mr. Gingrich and only 10 percent for Mr. Romney.

Liberals have issues with Mormon dogma and history that is racist, but most do not have an issue with Romney based on his Mormonism. While one can find plenty of differences of opinion on Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) among the Democratic base the fact that he is a Mormon doesn’t bother anyone.  A huge difference over the divide between Romney and conservative fundamentalists. A minister and Perry supporter Rev. Robert Jefferies has been one of the more prominent cultural conservatives to call Mormonism a cult. If Romney and the conservative base is looking for attacks on religion and intolerance they only need to look in the mirror. Democrats in Congress tend to be fairly small c conservative when it comes to religion. The base has not changed much in the last twenty years, having a live and let live attitude. Conservatives tend to whine and attack to pacify a base constantly shrouding itself in victim-hood. That base considers tolerance and inclusiveness an attack on them. That is not a political issue, it is a psychological one.

This is a fair example of the kind of tolerance that conservatives do not have and once again demonstrates their fundamental contempt for the foundations of our democratic republic – Student Faces Town’s Wrath in Protest Against a Prayer

She is 16, the daughter of a firefighter and a nurse, a self-proclaimed nerd who loves Harry Potter and Facebook. But Jessica Ahlquist is also an outspoken atheist who has incensed this heavily Roman Catholic city with a successful lawsuit to get a prayer removed from the wall of her high school auditorium, where it has hung for 49 years.

A federal judge ruled this month that the prayer’s presence at Cranston High School West was unconstitutional, concluding that it violated the principle of government neutrality in religion. In the weeks since, residents have crowded school board meetings to demand an appeal, Jessica has received online threats and the police have escorted her at school, and Cranston, a dense city of 80,000 just south of Providence, has throbbed with raw emotion.

So she defends the Constitution and the separation of church and state, a principal that protects everyone’s beliefs, and she gets threats. Only in a country where conservatives have convinced a lot of people the very document that keeps us free is just a piece of paper, could this happen.

Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one-half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.  — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82

Ron Paul signed off on racist newsletters in the 1990s, associates say. Toward the end of some commentary on that news this blogger makes a good point – No One Left To Lie To

As I’ve said before, we all must make our calculus in supporting a candidate or even claiming he is “good” for the debate. But it must be an honest calculus.

If you believe that a character who would conspire to profit off of white supremacy, anti-gay bigotry, and anti-Semitism is the best vehicle for convincing the country to end the drug war, to end our romance with interventionism, to encourage serious scrutiny of state violence, at every level, then you should be honest enough to defend that proposition.

What you should not do is claim that Ron Paul “legislated” for Martin Luther King Day, or claim to have intricate knowledge of Ron Paul’s heart, and thus by the harsh accumulation of  evidence, be made to look ridiculous.

As much as I agree with that assertion One cannot help but wonder at Paul’s ability to garner so much support from enlisted military. Ron Paul has no lessons for me in morality unless I succumb to some severe brain damage. Yet the Democratic establishment and its consultants would be wise to look at the Paul phenomenon in regards thinly justified foreign intervention. I’m not an isolationist, but it is troubling that Democrats are only a few degrees away from being neocons in terms of foreign policy. One can safely disregard conservative accusations of Democrats being too soft or terrorist sympathizers, that likely the result of sniffing too much boot polish while shining up the old jack boots.

I wasn’t going to post on yet another study showing that on average and as a group, conservatives tend to have issues in regards ethnocentrism. Than I found this funny write-up in which the blogger notes that conservatives read the news summary of the report and then turned around and called themselves guilty of things the study never claimed, Seriously, This Is Just Too Easy, By Hart Williams

And so, WHO draws themselves up in high mor(on)al dudgeon?

I’ll tell you who:

Jim Hoft / The Gateway Pundit: Canadian Professor: Conservatives Are Dumb Racists
BigFurHat / iOwnTheWorld.com: Now Wait A Damn Minute
John Hinderaker / Power Line: Yahoo News Casually Smears Conservatives
GottaLaff / The Political Carnival: Confirmed: Low IQ, conservative beliefs linked to prejudice, per study
Matthew Balan / NewsBusters.org blogs: Yahoo Trumpets Study Supposedly Linking Conservatism to Low IQ
Thers / Whiskey Fire: Going to Be a Scream

Somehow, the words “Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice” caused the elite of the Rightie Blogosmear to use their protean command of logick to formulate the logical statement (Low IQ) + (Conservative Beliefs) = Prejudice and instantly turn it inside-out into the strange self-insult (Conservative) = Stupid + Racist.*

That study does stipulate that as a group the researchers found a tendency. That does not translate into all conservatives are racists or all conservative are idiots. There are Democrats, independents and assorted others who are not pure as the driven snow when it comes to absence of any prejudices or that are intellectual giants. These points were also suggested in the general news write-ups. If conservatives ( some of the bloggers above are Democrats who were being ironic by the way – the generally great satirists at  Whiskey Fire for one) want to think to advertise, exaggerate and celebrate their flaws that would confirm future studies that show a greater than average tendency towards self-flagellation. This video sheds some light on the conservative desire to pretend we’re still living in the age of Saint Ronnie and the southern strategy will still work, The GOP’s Racial Politics

 

The general substance of this report is disturbing – Gingrich: Gay Marriage a ‘Perfect Example of What I Mean by the Rise of Paganism’ says the guy who asked his second wife for an open marriage with his mistress, though it is the right-wing conservative power of denial that caught my attention.

Jim Garlow: We are in a situation that is so crisic in America, I’m actually stunned that President Obama could do this much destruction to the nation in a three year span. I never anticipated that this much harm in the moral and economic arenas of our nation could be brought on by one particular president.

Don Wildmon: This is not a typical election. This is an election unlike any ever held in our country. We’re not just voting for a president; we’re voting for the continuation of Western Civilization. If those who are listening think that what we enjoy, the freedoms we enjoy, the right to practice our Christan faith, is merely an accident and is there, it’s not, people paid for it. And we can lose it, and we will lose it, if we lose this next election. What’s at stake is everything that the human race, Western Civilization, has fought for for the last two thousand years.

That’s right folks Armageddon Day will be January 20, 2013 if a conservative is not sworn in. What a relief to millions of Americans. Everyone can stop paying their credit card bills, stop making car payments and since the end of civilization is near they can go whole hog on the hedonism and paganism. The only reason President Obama has not destroyed western civilization in his first term is that Steven Spielberg told him audiences like for the suspense to build before the big finish.

Sen. Bernie Sanders blasts U.S. wealth gap: “How could anybody defend the top 400 richest people in this country owning more wealth than the bottom half of America, 150 million people?”

Via the National Archives, Magna Carta Conservation Treatment

City Lights and Reflections wallpaper – Conservatives Are People Who Can’t Face The Truth, Partly Because They Do Not Know What Truth Is

City Lights and Reflections wallpaper

Before we move on to more recent events, a fact check of the conservative debate in Florida, Tampa, Fla., Debate Fact-Check

*Rick Santorum says he did not call for Congress, otherwise known as a branch of the federal government, to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, the young Florida woman who suffered brain damage in 1990. The facts say otherwise. Rick now says he wanted a judicial review – that would have meant a federal review since the Florida courts had already ruled the government had no right to intervene on behalf of Schiavo’s parents, so six of one half a dozen of the other – Rick was for big government intervention or judicial activism.

In condemning the new Dodd-Frank law tightening regulation of the financial sector, Mitt Romney cited the law’s negative effect on smaller community banks in particular. But lobbyists won exemptions for community banks from many if not most of the Dodd-Frank limitations on banking. A top lobbyist for the sector publicly described the legislation as beneficial for smaller banks because it leveled the playing field with bigger banks and set a limit on their size.

Mittens either does not have a grasp of the issue or maliciously distorted a reading of the law to score points. One assumes that is simply a continuance of what conservatives see as “values”.

All the canidates except Paul have been agiating with some kind of confrontation with Iran. I guess because that Iraq debacle worked out so well. Romney has thrown in the Obama has made the miltray smaller bromide. The U.S. military is stronger than ever.

“A wide range of experts told us it’s wrong to assume that a decline in the number of ships or aircraft automatically means a weaker military. Quite the contrary: The United States is the world’s unquestioned military leader today, not just because of the number of ships and aircraft in its arsenal but also because each is stocked with top-of-the-line technology and highly trained personnel. Thanks to the development of everything from nuclear weapons to drones, comparing today’s military to that of 60 to 100 years ago presents an egregious comparison of apples and oranges.”

The modern military has more kill power with slightly fewer troops. Does Romney want big and expensive just for the sake of show or does he want effectiveness.

Newt Gingrich repeated once again that he was never a lobbyist.

It is true that Mr. Gingrich never registered as a lobbyist at the federal or state level. But he did many of the same things lobbyists do, including meeting with state lawmakers, members of Congress and federal officials to promote issues important to companies that were paying his consulting firm as much as $200,000 a year.

If Newt wants to make the case he was not an influence peddler than he needs to make his trail of influence peddling magically disappear. Conservatives believe in the doublespeak genie that rearranges reality to order, most American do not.

The president’s State of the Union address kicks off his campaign with echoes of Jefferson, Hamilton, and Truman.

But Obama has seen their Hamiltonianism and raised the stakes with a more Jeffersonian approach as well. In particular, he sided with numerous unions, community groups and financial reformers by announcing the establishment of a joint task force, co-chaired by New York State’s crusading Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, to investigate the conduct of banks in peddling dubious mortgages and the derivatives on same.  The decision emerged at the end of prolonged, often disputatious, negotiations between the Justice Department and the states attorneys general—some of whom, with Schneiderman in the lead, resisted the administration’s initial proposal to get five big banks to pay roughly $25 billion to homeowners wronged by robo-signing, in return for waiving the banks’ potentially far more serious misconduct in originating, bundling and re-selling bad mortgages. Schneiderman, Delaware’s Beau Biden, Massachusetts’ Martha Coakley and a few other AGs insisted that any such deal had to come after a rigorous investigation of the banks role in mortgage and mortgage-derivative misrepresentation, and whatever prosecutions would eventuate from it. Last night, Obama endorsed their position, and, by establishing the task force and, administration officials said, designating Schneiderman to head it, opened the door to the prospect of bankers facing prosecution for financial crimes. What a concept.

There was, in fact, a Hamiltonian-Jeffersonian subtext to Obama’s vision. Large advanced economies tend to be dominated by a particular sector. In mid-20th-century America and in Germany today, manufacturing dominates, which historically has tended to create a somewhat more egalitarian economy and society. In America today and in Britain for some time now, finance has dominated, which tends to hollow out a domestic economy and greatly exacerbate income- and wealth-inequality.  The resurrection of manufacturing and the diminution of finance go hand in hand with Obama’s proposals to create a fairer tax structure.

These are consummations devoutly to be wished. But difficult as it may be to change our taxes, it will be far more difficult to bring back manufacturing. The proposals Obama suggested are a good start, but even renascent manufacturing will not of itself bring back America’s middle class majority. For one thing, factories are so heavily mechanized that it takes far fewer workers today to do the same jobs their predecessors did just 15 years ago. For another, with private-sector unions almost extinguished, the new hourly pay level for manufacturing workers in America is somewhere between $15 and $19 an hour—that is, between $30,000 and $38,000 a year. That’s not the kind of middle-class wage that unionized manufacturing workers made during the second half of the last century. Ultimately, there’s simply no way a nation can attain a vibrant middle class when its workforce is all but de-unionized. Obama’s new positions on manufacturing, like his tax proposals, are a necessary but not sufficient condition to rebuild the great American middle class.

I tend to dislike or rather find SOTU analysis that are big on how moving or eloquent they are, a waste of time. What was said that points to policy prescriptions and what are the honest chances of achieving them. This article did that better then the flood of other analysis. As Harold Meyerson notes Obama may not have a slam dunk in regards U.S. manufacturing, but he sees the problem and wants to steer the economy in the right direction. The conservative movement is still on the supply-side trickle down bandwagon – throw in some twaddle about being over regulated and we’re right back to the same policies that caused the Great Recession in the first place – hey kids that meltdown was so much fun let’s do it again in a few years. All through the 90s it what the national meme that conservatives were the movement of ideas. If you call having an economy based on 16th century French aristocracy a new idea.

Mitch Daniels Doesn’t Read the New York Times

From the Daniels reply to the State of Union:

Contrary to the President’s constant disparagement of people in business, it’s one of the noblest of human pursuits. The late Steve Jobs — what a fitting name he had — created more of them than all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew.

From Sunday’s Times:

Not long ago, Apple boasted that its products were made in America. Today, few are. Almost all of the 70 million iPhones, 30 million iPads and 59 million other products Apple sold last year were manufactured overseas.

Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas, a small fraction of the over 400,000 American workers at General Motors in the 1950s, or the hundreds of thousands at General Electric in the 1980s. Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.

Those overseas job are nice…if you live overseas. The U.S. auto industry added 77,300 jobs since the rescue package was passed during the Bush administration. In addition to those jobs were the million jobs the rescue package saved. Back in 2008 when this was a heated topic of debate I suggested that a bankruptcy and reorganization might be best. The way the financial rescue worked was that it was a bankruptcy except in name. GM and Chrysler both worried that an official bankruptcy would taint their brands – not an unreasonable concern. So the government just gave them a financial reorganization plan they did not call a bankruptcy. The entire state of Michigan – while still struggling like everyone else – would have been in dire straights with out the government sponsored bankruptcy restructuring. The state is showing signs of recovery, largely due to the rescue and an uptick in car sales. Apple deserves credit for a lot of things, but in straight numbers they are not even in the ball park of creating as many American jobs as the auto industry.

GOP already snarling over State of the Union. John Boehner calls Obama ‘almost un-American’

Mr. Boehner denounced Democrats who he said were trying to win elections this year by using “the politics of envy, the politics of dividing our country.”
The speaker said he expected the president’s speech to be “a rerun of what we have seen before,” including proposals for more spending, higher taxes and more regulation.

For decades, the Republicans (together with some Democratic allies and unopposed by milquetoasts) have cranked up the class war, trashing unions, transferring wealth upward, undermining regulations and complaining that all their past efforts in this regard haven’t gone nearly far enough, something they will remedy if they can regain the presidency and the Senate and maintain their control over the House of Representatives. They are eternally in “campaign mode.” That’s the class war. It is they who have divided and exacerbated existing divisions. For those who oppose them, it’s not a war of envy, it’s not bashing, it’s self-defense. And we need a heckuva lot more of it.

For as long as I can remember I have not been able to turn on a radio or TV without hearing conservatives trash America, try to devide America over crap they made up. They subscribe to conservative socialism, corporate cronyism, plutocratic government and have crashed the economy, Then pretended they were in a bunker somewhere and had nothing to do with it. Conservatives have tried to shift blame for the failure of their policies to the relatively powerless working poor and Freddie Mac. Conservatives have insisted that they are the producers while simultaneously swearing hey have no responsibility for anything. They claim government is the problem and make sure government is unable to competently preform its most basic functions – funny that we did not have the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression until conservatives convinced the country we no longer needed Glass-Steagall.  Conservatives created the infamous K-Street to make government an extension of the right-wing movement and be servants to the financial elite. If we have a fifth column in America, working around the clock to make the country weaker it is conservatives. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker(R) has become something of a poster boy for conservatives who not only learned nothing from the Wall Street meltdown they have doubled down on tax cuts and deregulation to make the middle-class weaker at the expense of the Koch brothers, Goldman-Sachs and  Citibank – Scott Walker’s Plutonomy: An Economy for the One Percent

At the hour petitions were being deposited on January 17, Mother Jones revealed that Walker was scheduled to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in the heart of the New York’s financial district at 339 Park Avenue — the towering headquarters for global financial giant CitiGroup. The $5,000 per couple fundraiser was hosted by none other than Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, former CEO of AIG.

…No two institutions are more responsible for the economic collapse of America than CitiGroup and AIG.

Citi is the original too-big-to-fail bank. Citi’s merger with Travelers Group in 1998 blew apart the Glass-Steagall protections that had kept the U.S. financial system safe from major financial crises for 60 years.

Citi was a primary driver of the subprime mess. A top Citi official testified before Congress that the firm was betting that the housing market would go sour as early as 2006, yet it remained the nation’s top lender of subprime mortgages and continued to underwrite billions in subprime mortgage-backed securities. It hedged risk by taking out insurance in the form of credit default swaps with firms like AIG.

Like Goldman, Citi has been caught betting against its own customers. Citi’s $285 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — for fraudulently selling packages of mortgage-backed securities that they knew would fail — was just tossed out by a federal judge who called it “is neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.”

Today, Citi is considered by many to be a zombie bank, with billions in toxic assets and growing legal liability. Yet, Citi CEO Vikram Pandit hauled in $23 million in bonus money in 2011, giving  him plenty of pocket change to support pet politicians.

…Right now, Walker can raise unlimited sums due to a quirk in Wisconsin’s recall law. How much he raised from Wall Street on January 17 is still unknown, although in his latest report, Walker raised 60 percent of his campaign war chest from out of state according to One Wisconsin Now. This included four eye-popping $250,000 contributions.

Citigroup’s “Plutonomy” Memos

In his 2009 movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore unveiled two explosive memos written by Citi analyst in 2005 and 2006. The memos coin the term “plutonomy” and describe in glowing terms Citi’s view of a U.S. economy entirely driven by the wealth and purchasing power of the 1 percent. The memos can be accessed here and offer a stunning glimpse into the cognition of Wall Street elite.

Plutocrats Drive the Economy: “The world is dividing into two blocs — the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.”

The Future: “We project that the plutonomies will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization.” “Society and governments need to be amendable to disproportionately allow/encourage the few to retain the fatter profit share.”

Forget about Main Street, Invest in the Plutocracy: “Since we think the plutonomy is here, is going to get stronger…” “It is a good time to switch out of stocks that sell to the masses and back to the plutonomy basket.”

While Henry Ford believed that the economy thrived when the people who made the cars could afford to buy them, the Citi plutocrats believe that growth is powered only by the super rich and that catering to their taste for imported baubles and bags should be the goal of every investor and policymaker.

Boehner and conservatives deserve some kind of faux outrage award for the daily Chicken-Little cries of class warfare. The middle-class and the working poor didn’t start that war they’re just stuck fighting it. Before there was shock and awe for Iraq, conservatives had long range goals of shocking and awing the average American back to a hopeless America in which there is little to no hope of getting ahead no matter how hard they work, how much overtime they put in or how much they sacrifice. This a good example of the bizarre grasp of reality in which the conservative mind is thoroughly pickled – Conservative Fantasies About the Miracles of the Market

A central doctrine of evangelicals for the “free market” is its capacity for innovation: New ideas, new technologies, new gadgets — all flow not from governments but from individuals and businesses allowed to flourish in the market, we are told.

That’s the claim made in a recent op/ed in our local paper by policy analyst Josiah Neeley of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think-tank in Austin. His conclusion: “Throughout history, technological advances have been driven by private investment, not by government fiat. There is no reason to expect that to change anytime soon.

[  ]…So I called Neeley and asked what innovations he had in mind when he wrote his piece. In an email response he cited Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers. Fair enough — they were independent entrepreneurs, working in the late 19th and early 20th century. But their work came decades after the U.S. Army had provided the primary funding to make interchangeable parts possible, a transformative moment in the history of industrialization. In the “good old days,” government also got involved.

As Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway explain in their book Merchants of Doubt, the U.S. Army’s Ordinance Department wanted interchangeable parts to make guns that could be repaired easily on or near battlefields, which required machine-tooled parts. That research took nearly 50 years, much longer than any individual or corporation would support. The authors make the important point clearly: “Markets spread the technology of machine tools throughout the world, but markets did not create it. Centralized government, in the form of the U.S. Army, was the inventor of the modern machine age.”

Josiah Neeley of the Texas Public Policy Foundation might as well be visiting this planet from another world, his knowledge and understanding of the hundred year old relationship between government financed innovation and the rewards than reaped by private enterprise. Computing? Started by government during WW II. The internet, which has added billions to the GDP? Also the result of government sponsored research.

Even more curious in Neeley’s response were the two specific products he mentioned in his email: “The plow wasn’t created by government fiat, and neither was the iPhone.”

The plow and the iPhone are the best examples of innovations in the private sphere? The plow was invented thousands of years ago, in a world in which governments and economic systems were organized in just slightly different ways, making it an odd example for this discussion of modern capitalism and the nation-state. And the iPhone wouldn’t exist without all that government R&D that created computers and the Internet.

Neeley didn’t try to deny the undeniable role of government and military funding; for example, he mentioned the Saturn V rocket (a case made even more interesting, of course, because Nazi scientists were brought into the United States after World War II to work on the project). “But the driver of these advances’ adoption and relevance outside the realm of government fiat has always been the private sphere,” he wrote in his response.

Neeley is playing a painfully transparent game here. He acknowledges that many basic technological advances are driven by government fiat in the basic R&D phase, but somehow that phase doesn’t matter. What matters is the “adoption and relevance” phase. It’s apparently not relevant that without the basic R&D in these cases there would have been nothing to adopt and make relevant for the market.

I have never heard any non-conservative – a major Democrat – make the claim that private enterprise is an important part of America’s financial success. They all do what Boehner, Limbaugh and Mittens do – they take a sound bite, twist it around and claim this is what Obama or Nancy Pelosi  or Elizabeth Warren or whoever really means. That Stalinistic tendency to twist words and meanings is the only thing conservative has. Its only debating tool. Its the right-wing WMD of politics. They cannot win an honest debate. Such lack of substance and values has been a hallmark of the elitist narcissistic authoritarian throughout history. Obama and Democrats have made the mildest changes – via financial reform – to make capitalism stronger, to work better. In the demented minds of modern conservatism that becomes a commie Kenyan attack on the American way of doing things.

Conservatives coach voters on their version of history

At the direction of our almost Un-American president – American hostage in Somalia rescued by US Navy SEALs in overnight raid

Updated at 5:57 a.m. ET: In a statement sent to NBC News and other media, Obama says that he authorized the operation to rescue Buchanan.
“Thanks to the extraordinary courage and capabilities of our Special Operations Forces, yesterday Jessica Buchanan was rescued and she is on her way home,” he says. “As Commander-in-Chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who supported their efforts.”
Obama, who spoke to Buchanan’s father Tuesday night, says she was “selflessly serving her fellow human beings when she was taken hostage by criminals and pirates who showed no regard for her health and well-being.”

 

 

 

Modern Conservatives Support Newt and Romney, Which Means They’d Never Vote for Thomas Jefferson

Green Country Lane wallpaper

Conor Friedersdorf takes on trying the unenviable task of trying to read conservative tea leaves or minds, frequently the same thing – Who Is to Blame for Newt Gingrich’s Rise?

Conservatives don’t come right out and say that Palmetto State voters should be embarrassed for elevating a pompous, erratic, undisciplined serial adulterer who took $1.6 million to pedal influence on behalf of Freddie Mac, supported everything Tea Partiers insist they hated about the Bush Administration, and was unable to manage even a modest campaign staff successfully. It’s apparent, however, that they perceive in his win something that needs defending, for the analysis on offer is mostly exculpatory explanations for why voters did this.

Take Erick Erickson’s analysis.

Debate performances help explain Saturday’s result, the Red State founder begins, “but it has just as much to do with a party base in revolt against its thought and party leaders in Washington, D.C. The base is revolting because they swept the GOP back into relevance in Washington just under two years ago and they have been thanked with contempt… Adding insult to injury, the party and thought leaders now try to foist on the base a milquetoast moderate from Massachusetts. Newt Gingrich can thank Mitt Romney and more for the second look he is getting. Base hostility will now be exacerbated by Mitt Romney’s backers now undoubtedly making a conscious effort to prop up Rick Santorum to shut down Newt Gingrich.” Tellingly, the notion that voters assessed every candidate and decided they prefer Gingrich for the substance of his record, his platform, and his character isn’t even considered. The near consensus is that there must be something else to explain his victory.

For those who are not familiar with him, Redstate blogger Erick Erickson is also a CNN analyst and noble defender of dish washer phosphates. Conservatives have been playing this outsider game since the days of Tricky Dick Nixon and the Silent Majority. They be the real Americans who everyone is go to silence. If only they could have the true conservatism and true conservative leaders of their fevered fantasies we’d all be riding unicorns on streets paved with gold. This would be in between their crazed idolatry of corrupt leaders Like Reagan and Bush 43. We all have a poll bias – citing ones we like – though polls that Erick and the winger base might want to not completely ignore are the ones that show America ain’t lik’n the tea baggers much –Tea Party’s Approval Rating Drops To New Low – New Gallup Poll. To make matters worse most Americans see the tea party revolution in Congress as maliciously trying to undermine the economic recovery. While I tend to see about five degrees of difference between Newt and the tea baggers especially in terms of ethnocentrism and the kind of conservative economic policies that caused the recession, the Republican rank and file sees Newt as a return to the glory days of the early Bush years. Though Connor’s additional insights are correct as well,

That brings me to my theory of Gingrich. I tend toward the explanation that is marginally more charitable to the GOP rank-and-file in South Carolina, and less charitable to the conservative media elites and “thought leaders” who refuse to acknowledge that they occupy an opinion-making, culture-shaping role. Of course a base that gets much of its information from Fox News has a higher-than-justified opinion of Gingrich, a contributor to the cable-news network until he launched his presidential bid. Of course folks who get much of their information from talk radio are inclined to assess the conservatism of public figures based on fiery rhetoric more than the substance of their record: haven’t they been trained to do so by charismatic hosts who daily exalt in zinging liberals and demonizing leftists as if it is the most important metric of a trustworthy ally?

Regular readers and those who check in at TPM, Kos, Media Matters and so forth may find this difficult to believe, but the conservative base actually does see Newt as a conservative with lots of exciting new ideas. When Newt thinks that making kids into janitors, they don’t see that as mindless twaddle, they see thinking outside the box. In S.C. according to one poll even over 40% of conservative fundamentalists voted for Newt. The guy with strange ideas is so attractive to the outsiders who see themselves as perennial victims of civil and gay rights, a victims of a society that has increasing said that women deserve an equal -not subservient role in society – see Newt as the guy who has clever ideas on ways to fight that and all the other progress that an enlightened liberal democracy should stand for.

What a political movement gets when it spends years marshaling more demagoguery than sound arguments against its opponents, what it gets when its intellectuals are deposed by its entertainers, what it gets when Roger Ailes and Rush Limbaugh are its agenda-setting personalities; what it gets when all these factors and more prevail, is a Newt Gingrich victory in South Carolina, where the voters, having been trained to elevate emotion and style over substance, didn’t even realize that they’ve chosen as their champion a man who is neither conservative nor capable of leading anyone.

NMMNB on that crazy spectacle of Chris Christie on Meet The Press or Let’s Watch David Gregory Kiss Conservative Kiss – THE WEASEL WORDS THAT TELL US CHRISTIE REALLY WANTS TO BE VP

The main point of this story from The Hill is that Chris Christie, a Mitt Romney supporter and surrogate, went on Meet the Press and insulted Newt Gingrich (“This is a guy that’s had a very difficult career at times and has been an embarrassment to the party”) — despite the fact that Gingrich appeared on the same Meet the Press broadcast, and despite the fact that Gingrich could be the presidential nominee of Christie’s party. (The latter suggests to me that, as I’ve said before, the GOP establishment really might not back Gingrich if he’s the nominee, treating him the way the party treated David Duke when he made it to the general election in the Louisiana governor’s race years ago. The party might try to secure the Americans Elect line for an establishment Republican instead.)

Chris Al Capone Christie goes over really well with the conservative base. He’s a larger Bill O’Reilly, he does not win arguments as much as browbeats his opponents – it is easy to find comments on the net where conservatives swear O’Reilly got the best of someone when all he did was shout until they stopped talking. In the conservative movement that is considered winning the debate. Putting aside for the moment that Christie is obviously drooling over the chance to become Romney’s VP. Chris Christie, a strong contender with Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott, as one of the worse governors ever called Gingrich “an embarrassment to the party”. Its like one gutter denizen accusing another gutter denizen of being dirty. How can they tell.

By way of Krugman – Breach of Trust, this post –  Private Inequity

As a result, private-equity firms are increasingly able to profit even if the companies they run go under—an outcome made much likelier by all the extra borrowing—and many companies have been getting picked clean. In 2004, for instance, Wasserstein & Company bought the thriving mail-order fruit retailer Harry and David. The following year, Wasserstein and other investors took out more than a hundred million in dividends, paid for with borrowed money—covering their original investment plus a twenty-three per cent profit—and charged Harry and David millions in “management fees.” Last year, Harry and David defaulted on its debt and dumped its pension obligations. In other words, Wasserstein failed to improve the company’s performance, failed to meet its obligations to creditors, screwed its workers, and still made a profit. That’s not exactly how capitalism is supposed to work.

The people who ran Harry and David into the ground have a defense: economic conditions changed in unforeseeable ways. But that’s precisely why loading firms with debt in order to reap short-term benefits is bad. It leaves companies unable to weather tough times, and allows private-equity firms to make money even if things go wrong.

This analysis is especial striking and timely in light of Romney’s recent remarks to some protestors at one of his rallies, Mitt Romney tells ‘interrupters’ at rally to ‘take a hike’

“No, actually, these are the people,” Romney shouted back. “These are the people; you’re the interrupters. We believe in the Constitution. We believe in the right to speech. And you believe in interrupting. Take a hike.”

Romney’s supporters drowned them out by chanting “U-S-A.”

Elizabeth Myers, in an email, said she was one of the protesters at the rally. She said the demonstrators started the chant “U-S-A,” which the rest of the crowd ultimately joined.

The chant went: “Mr. One Percent. Corporations are not people. We are the people. We are America. We are the 99%. U-S-A.”

Though it was unclear to most of the crowd who the protesters were representing, Romney suggested they were attacking “free enterprise.”

“I love these guys, by the way, who don’t like America and our free-enterprise system, and they have something else in mind,” he said. “Take a look at Cuba; take a look at North Korea; take a look at the former Soviet Union. Our system works. What they’re fighting for does not work. I believe in America.”

At its core the old USSR were thieves who stole the value produced by its workers. At its core as the equity story shows Romney and his fellow “capitalists” or rather thieves by any other name, steal from companies, tax payers, workers and the children of those workers. I am a capitalist. I compete. Unlike Romney I do not get government subsidies and incentives. When most Americans fail, they hit the ground. When the Romenys, Bushes and the conservative elite fail tax payers and workers pay for their failures. Romney is a modern monster, a bitter plutocrat, a thief on has lived his whole life off the productivity of people who produce actual products and services of value;  Mittens is another lazy conservative with such a keen sense of entitlement he cannot take an honest look in the mirror. If America is not a free market economy in ten or twenty years it will be because of conservatives who think like Romney sucked all the goodness out of capitalism like greedy vampires who worshiped their own blind egos more than they ever cared about American ideals. If Thomas Jefferson were president today, conservatives would be yelling at him a socialist, the food stamp president, and all the other names they call President Obama and anyone who does not support government by and for corporate America. “I hope [that] we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength and [to] bid defiance to the laws of our country.” – Thomas Jefferson

Fact Check: Gingrich’s Obama Food Stamp Claim Was False

Antique Map of Africa 1652 – The Day Conservatives Drove a Stake Through The Heart of Conservative “Values”

Antique Map of Africa 1652. Some nice political geography detail around the edge. Pictured are the kings (Rex – Latin for king) of various African nations at the time.

So why did Gingrich suddenly surge past Romney is South Carolina after details of the interview with his ex-wife became known. Steve Kornacki nailed it, The power of conservative victimhood

The question hanging in the air when the candidates took the stage was whether and how the interview that Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, just gave to ABC News would be addressed. The interview had hijacked Thursday’s political conversation, with ABC teasing salacious details — like Marianne Gingrich repeating on-camera for the first time her claim that Newt had asked her for an open marriage after revealing his affair with Callista — throughout the day and promising to run the full version on “Nightline” after the debate. Would moderator John King bring it up? Would one of Gingrich’s rivals? Or an audience member? Or maybe the former speaker himself? Or maybe somehow it wouldn’t come up at all.

The suspense evaporated when King used the first question of the night to ask Gingrich if he’d like to respond to his ex-wife’s words.

“No,” Gingrich replied. “But I will.”

The live audience applauded loudly. It was obvious right away they had his back. Clearly, Gingrich was ready for King’s question, but he did his best to feign shock and outrage.

“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that,” he thundered.

At this there was a standing ovation. “Is that all you want to say, sir?” King asked. It was not. Gingrich went on to say that raising the subject was “as close to despicable as anything I can imagine” and to pronounce himself “frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.” When King protested that the interview had originated at another network and that it had become a major subject on the campaign trail, Gingrich cut him off and roared: “I am tired of the elite media protecting Obama by attacking Republicans.” The crowd was roaring now. It was the strongest reaction they’d have all night.

This is the way conservative deflection has always worked. Those who have tried debating a conservative in person, in a comments section on the net or in a net forum know that with every fact you present there is a deflection. The conservative mind has very difficult time looking in the mirror. Gingrich is all the more interesting as an example because we know that Gingrich has as many faces as any situation requires; per his second ex-wife, “He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected. If you believe that, then yeah, you can run for president.” The conservative mind thus battered with the facts and the raging hypocrisies of one of its intellectual leaders blows a circuit. All problems magically disappear with the patent pending all purpose cleaner known as the vast liberal media conspiracy to destroy conservatives. As Steve  notes none of this grab bag of battered logic has to add up: Conservatives really think Democrats are afraid to face Gingrich or Herman Cain in a general election. The pundits and blogs would pummel newt with his hypocrisy that by extension that of his supporters. That might well be the least of Newt’s baggage. He was the most disgraced House Speaker in U.S. history and that’s saying something. He is a one man gang of organized crime.  Unless we find that Newt is made of balsam wood, is hollow inside and find strings that lead back to the evil liberal media elite, he is going to have to explain a lot in the general election or let the barrage of negative ads go unanswered. These conservatives who suddenly see Newt as a victim are in many cases the same ones who just a few days ago were jumping all over him for talking like a 99%er in his attacks on Romney and Bain. One of those critics was the four times married, draft dodging drug addict Rush Limbaugh, who just as suddenly decides to deflect Gingrich’s sleazy personal life back on the librul media, Limbaugh On Gingrich Cheating On His Ex-Wife: ‘Newt’s A Victim’

LIMBAUGH: I got a great note from a friend of mine. “So Newt wanted an open marriage. BFD. At least he asked his wife for permission instead of cheating on her. That’s a mark of character, in my book. Newt’s a victim. We all are. Ours is the horniest generation.” […] That’s from a good friend of mine, “Newt’s slogan ought to, ‘Hell, yes, I wanted it.’” (laughing) I’m sharing with you how some people are reacting to this.

It’s worth noting that Gingrich had been having an affair for several years before he asked “permission” to cheat on his wife.

Excuse me for a minute….i have to grab a hanky…OK I think I’ve recovered enough to carry on…oh the injustice. Sarah Palin is not exactly known for her insights into America or politics, but you swing enough times and eventually you make contact with the ball, Palin Says Interview With Ex-Wife Will Help Gingrich ‘Soar’

PALIN: I call them dumbarses. They, thinking that by trotting out this old Gingrich divorce interview that’s old news — and it does feature a disgruntled ex, claiming that it would destroy his campaign — all it does, Sean, is incentive conservatives and independents who are so sick of the politics of personal destruction, because it’s played so selectively by media, that their target, in this case Newt, he’s now going to soar even more. Because we know the game now, and we just won’t put up with it.

So, good call media! Way to go to covertly hype this, even Gingrich opponents, for being so brilliant they sure are dumb.

Listen here:

In fact, the interview is not “old” but Marianne Gingrich’s first TV interview since her divorce from the former Speaker in 1999, and it does make news about how Gingrich — who often defends “traditional” marriage on the campaign trail — treated his wife of 18 years.

But Palin, who calls herself a feminist, completely ignores the substance of Gingrich’s actions to portray him as a victim of just another tawdry lamestream media smear. “I have a degree” in journalism, she reminded Hannity.

I don’t know that modern conservatives invented the politics of destruction, we’d probably find that goes back to the glory days of the Roman Empire. Though it is certainly the case that the conservative movement has used the politics of personal destruction as a base for advancing its agenda for decades. Palin herself was the one who said Obama was “paling” around with terrorists in the 2008 election. She has never taken the high road on any substantive issue and her views on Gingrich and the issues involved simply continue that tradition. Something to ponder – as of today Republicans have had 23 debates. In not one debate have any of the candidates come up with a new idea or a policy prescription that has not been proved a failure.

“As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where – where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border.”
Palin – CBS interview with Katie Couric, September 25, 2008

“Believe it or not – this was in the 60s – we used to hustle on over the border for health care that we would receive in Whitehorse…. Isn’t that kind of ironic now. Zooming over the border, getting health care from Canada.”
— Palin -Speech in Calgary, Alberta, March 6, 2010

“When the American people elected President Obama they gave him responsibility to handle this disaster. He promised to “heal the earth, and watch the waters recede…” or something far-fetched like that.”
— Palin – On the oil spill, May 27, 2010

Pail hates the press because that keep accurately reporting what she says. She reads and simply cannot believe she is as bereft of thought and substance as her quotes make her out to be.

The issue is not the press. Conservatives know this thus the tiresome misdirection and playing victim. The issue is that for the umpteenth time conservatives are not and never will live up to the very rules they made part of politics and the culture wars. This is a great find from Towleroad from a  pop psychiatrist (Keith Ablow – formerly employed with that awful lamestream media known as the WaPo, Newsweek and Baltimore Sun) who frequently does commentary on Rupert Murdoch’s anti-American propoganda channel Fox News – Fox Psychiatrist On Newt Gingrich: Infidelity A Sign Of Awesomeness

My theory is that Americans are on a flight from reality. Faced with painful facts—including the precarious state of the economy, the gathering storm represented by militant Muslims, in general, and Iran, in particular, the crumbling state of marriage in this country…..

The fact that we are doing this as a culture is the single most ominous psychological trend we have ever faced. I am not exaggerating.

Now as the TR blogger points out, a whole five days has passed since the urgent proclamation that the crumbling institution of marriage ( divorce rates have held steady at around 43% for about the last 15 years) is among the ” most ominous psychological” trends in America. Now Ablow joins Limbaugh, Palin and the conservative mob at the S.C. debates,

Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.

4) Two women—Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives—have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.

Conclusion: I can only hope Mr. Gingrich will be as direct and unsparing with the Congress, the American people and our allies. If this nation must now move with conviction in the direction of its heart, Newt Gingrich is obviously no stranger to that journey.

… So, as far as I can tell, judging from the psychological data, we have only one real risk to America from his marital history if Newt Gingrich were to become president: We would need to worry that another nation, perhaps a little younger than ours, would be so taken by Mr. Gingrich that it would seduce him into marrying it and becoming its president. And I think that is exceedingly unlikely.

Does everyone else find that as emotionally moving and logically sound as I do. Rick Santorum seems to disagree with Dr. Alhypocrite, Rick Santorum on ‘Open Marriage’ Allegations Against Newt Gingrich: ‘These are Issues of Character’

Addressing a question today about Marianne Gingrich’s allegations that her former husband, Newt, wanted an “open marriage,” Rick Santorum said ”these are issues of character” but declined to push his rival for further explanation.

“Personal matters are personal matters, but they are matters that are — particularly when you are in public life as he was at the time and the people involved were also in a sense in public life — those issues are issues that people will look at,” Santorum responded.

This is a pivotal moment in politics. Conservatives blinked. Newt may have backtracked, but he said that the kind of capitalism Romney practiced was not good for the country. Conservatives pushed him past Romney in the S.C. polls. Newt is not simply an adulterer he is a sleazeball. Conservatives said that was alright and the wrong done is the medias’ for merely reporting the facts. Adultery and sleazy behavior are now off the table as political issues because conservatives made it so. Well not really, conservatives will pedal furiously and unashamedly backwards as soon as they can use adultery against a Democrat.

Newt Gingrich Secures All Important “Barrens Chat” Vote with Key Chuck Norris Endorsement

For my wife, Gena, and I, we sincerely believe former Speaker Newt Gingrich is the answer to most of those questions and deserves our endorsement and vote.

We agree with our friend and governor of the great state of Texas, Rick Perry, when he suspended his campaign and endorsed Gingrich, that Newt “has the heart of a conservative reformer.” We believe Newt’s experience, leadership, knowledge, wisdom, faith and even humility to learn from his failures (personal and public) can return America to her glory days. And he is the best man left on the battlefield who is able to outwit, outplay and outlast Obama and his campaign machine.

Think goodness for grammar check so Chuck or Carlos (his real name) could find all those adjectives. Chuck is having a I feel your pain moment. He has been married multiple times and has a child from an affair. In many ways a cheesy cardboard cut out of a man. Pretty typical of the weirdness one finds in the conservative movement.

All of these moving testimonials, it is becoming a very emotional day for me. There is one little implausible piece to The Fairy Tale of Newt, America can’t stand him

Unlike Mitt Romney, who occasionally beats President Obama in general election poll match ups, Newt Gingrich trails far behind President Obama in every survey. But just how bad are Gingrich’s unfavorable among the general public compared to Obama and Romney?

Not every poll releases their full results, so here are the most recent favorability results I could find for Obama, Romney, and Newt.

Those big green bars is the negatives area are Newts.

For those liberals who are still genuinely infatuated with Ron Paul a find by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Irony Of American History

I’d like to think that the Confederate Flag in the back was photo-shopped. At any rate, what’s amazing is the frame here–It’s not the firing on federal property that inaugurated the War, it’s Bull Run, or some such. It’s as if I punch you in the face and then accuse you of bullying me after I get the crap kicked out of me. Except worse.

At least he’s against the drug war

Video of Ron with that symbol of  treason is at the link.

Who is the greatest enemy of capitalism and a genuine free market economy that rewards work and innovative minds. Conservatives have been competing for that title for several decades. Romney has just become one of the most visible symbols – Mitt Romney Wouldn’t Know a Free Market If It Bit Him on the Ass

The lion’s share of the wealth Mitt Romney accumulated during his years at Bain Capital was extracted not only by laying off workers and raiding their pensions, but by using what conservatives call “big government” to redistribute wealth from taxpayers to Bain’s investors and partners.

Bain Capital was not in the business of creating jobs, or even saving companies over the long-term. Its model had a relatively low rate of success; a study by Deutche Bank found that 33 out of 68 major deals cut on Romney’s watch lost money for the firm’s investors. Its richest deals made up for the flops, however, and Bain’s partners were guaranteed hefty fees regardless of how the businesses they “restructured” ultimately performed.

Romney is another Bush 43 without the fake ranch. Bush ran three businesses into the ground and still came out ahead thinks to daddy’s friends. Romney ultimately came out ahead because the business deals were structured in a way for him to make a profit whether the rewards were earned or not.

Black and White Concrete Pier wallpaper – Infidelity, Swinging, Hypocrisy, Lies, Ignorance, Viciousness and Racism. Just Another Day in Conservatism

Black and White Concrete Pier wallpaper 1920×1200

Mitt Romney is not exactly the most charismatic presidential candidate, and that he lacks substance might be a problem for a few conservatives. There is always luck and just wearing opponents down with money fueled repetition. In the luck department there is the departure of the guy who entered the race on an anti-gay platform, Rick Perry, and that stuff about being the Moses of job creation, except he would have had to explain how the state with the second largest number of federal employees created those jobs in a vacuum – CNN: Rick Perry to end campaign.  There are repercussions for culture warriors obsessed with having the government attach strings to every woman, cause they shouldn’t be allowed to make their own health decisions – another why is conservative Stalinism patriotic, but liberals are mean authoritarians moments. Perry was so far behind in the polls he didn’t even have enough leverage to ask for favors. More luck, but this is hardly the big shocking story of the day in terms of the general facts which were already well-known – ABC News May Air Controversial Interview With Gingrich’s Ex-Wife Marianne on Thursday.

Buzzfeed has gathered some of what Marianne may say based on previous interviews:

On his ethics: “He believes that what he says in public and how he lives don’t have to be connected. If you believe that, then yeah, you can run for president.”

On his affair with Callista: “I know. I asked him. He’d already asked her to marry him before he asked me for a divorce. Before he even asked.”

Newt has attempted to soften the blows before with religious appeals. “I was doing things that were wrong, and yet I was doing them,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network. “I found that I felt compelled to seek God’s forgiveness. Not God’s understanding, but God’s forgiveness.”

The emphasis is mine. Both in covering politics and in my personal experience with conservatives – no truer words could describe the deep down moral rot of conservatism. Humans regardless of political views do bad stuff and stupid stuff. For conservatives that stuff is so massive that they end up living a lie. That mountain of ethical issues dragged through life is not enough. Conservatives genuinely believe that appearances and what they can get other people to believe matter more than substance – thus the Big Never Ending Lie. I am not just coming to this realization today. I came to it years ago and it still has the power to make me shudder. The Sludge Report is trying to sell the interview as all about the media and when it will release the full interview. As usual it is safe to ignore that internet rag. Because most of the things that Marianne Gingrich are already know it is previously unknown snips of information and the compelling nature of such revelations on national TV that matter. Newt is in striking distance in South Carolina – depending on the poll 3 to ten points behind Romney. Newt knows that we know that he is a disreputable con-man at best, a scumbag at worse. In the realm of the conservative mindset you can not only be a con-man, but you can make quite a nice career out of it – see Mitch McConnell(R-KY), Paul Ryan(R-WS) and so on. While you can still be a scumbag and a player in conservative politics – see Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Karl Rove, Ann Coulter – you cannot become president. This might be Newt’s defining scumbag moment – Video of the Day: Gingrich Asked His Wife to Share Him

The x-factor is how damaging the interview could be. With Rick Perry dropping out of the race, Gingrich’s claim to being the conservative alternative to frontrunner Mitt Romney is stronger than ever. But tawdry revelations could endanger his backing among social conservatives, and it looks like there might be some. ABC has released the first excerpt from the interview. In the brief clip, Marianne Gingrich, describes her ex-husband admitting he was having an affair with congressional staffer Callista Bisek, who is now his wife. “I said to him, ‘Newt, we’ve been married a long time.’ He said, ‘Yes, but you want me all to yourself. Callista doesn’t care what I do.’… He was asking to have an open marriage, and I refused.'” (On the other hand, his philandering is hardly news.)

Marianne Gingrich also bashes the presidential contender, from whom she was divorced in 1999, saying his campaign positions don’t square with his personal moral decisions. ABC has a few more teasers from the interview here.

Rick Perry is said to going to include an endorsement of Gingrich in his formal withdrawal speech. One wonders if this news will reach him in time to keep Perry from showing another foot in his mouth. If this is the best Newt can come up with as an excuse he is history – a fitting end for Freddie Mac’s resident historian, Gingrich Camp Responds to Ex-Wife’s Interview

The push-back on ABC from the Gingrich campaign was in the form of a letter signed by Mr. Gingrich’s two daughters from his first marriage, Kathy Lubbers and Jackie Cushman, who regularly accompany him on the stump.

“ABC News or other campaigns may want to talk about the past, just days before an important primary election,’’ they wrote, adding that their father’s campaign would concentrate on issues important to voters.

Noted: use kids as shield. Also noted, it is now forbodden to talk about any candidates past.

“The failure of a marriage is a terrible and emotional experience for everyone involved. Anyone who has had that experience understands it is a personal tragedy filled with regrets, and sometimes differing memories of events.”

“We will not say anything negative about our father’s ex-wife,” the statement continued. “He has said before, privately and publicly, that he regrets any pain he may have caused in the past to people he loves.”

So he is sorry he suggested a swinger marriage. Or sorry that he claimed that what he does in private does not matter, he preached the kind of right-wing bile conservatives like to hear and that is what matters. * As I am writing this it appears that Perry has gone and done it again – he has endorsed the Corrupt Wing-nut Welfare Queen Swinging Adulterer. It is truly a good day…..to be Mittens.

This series of events is a turning point for the conservative movement. I only caught a half-minute of it, but Sarah Palin was on cable news last night praising Newt. Not only that she had picked up just a little on the vulture capitalism meme.

If he even gets close — and he’s closer to Mitt Romney in two new polls — she can point to her last-minute vote of confidence. “If I had to vote in South Carolina,” she told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Tuesday, “in order to keep things going, I would vote for Newt.”

If things don’t go well, hey, she’s got lots of wiggle room.

She didn’t endorse him. She just said she’d vote for Newt on Saturday so the race doesn’t end now. “Iron sharpens iron, steel sharpens steel,” she said, which I guess means the GOP-ers need to sharpen up so the media and those “on the left” can’t anoint Mitt Romney.

I’ve never gotten that thinking. Oba-mites would surely prefer Newt or Rick Santorum to Romney and all his harking back to a simpler, white picket fence America.

But in any case, Newt just tweeted her words to millions and says she’s in his cabinet, and just when you thought Sarah and Todd — who did endorse Newt — were fading away, she’s back, a possible kingmaker!

What’s so clear is that she can’t stomach Mitt, who just said collecting $374,327 in speaking fees in a year is “not very much.”

As Newt fades back into the one item or less line at Tiffany’s the fact that he was running yet another coded racist conservative campaign does not have quite the impact it should. Though it should not be forgotten, Real Racists Do Real Things

Newt Gingrich puts Juan Williams up on that Summer Jam screen, and church of white populism says Amen:

Next to the election of a black president, we’d say that Gingrich’s standing O was the most compelling dramatization of racial progress so far this century. Which isn’t to say that racism has been completely eradicated. It lives on in the minds of liberals who see Bull Connor when they look at Ozzie Nelson.

Again if you really want to believe that racism “lives on in the minds of liberals” and that Gingrich’s address to Williams stands just below the election of the country’s first black president, I’m sure you can marshal some sort of evidence for support. If your chief goal, as a thinking person, is to find a path to making yourself right, you may never amount to much of a thinking person, but you can never be disappointed. It must be admitted that Juan Williams is, himself, no stranger to such pursuits, and that the unerringly righteous are, ultimately, deserving of each other.

[  ]…People who are regularly complicit in wrong, are not in the habit of admitting such things. The unwillingness to admit wrong, the greedy claim upon the powers of disappointment,  the deep sense of injury is not coincidental–it is a necessary fact of wrong-doing. The charge that the NAACP are the actual racist is the descendant of the notion that abolitionists wanted to reduce Southern whites to “slavery,”  that the goal of civil rights was the rape of white women.That Barack Obama would have a “deep-seated hatred of white people” is not a new concept.

Racism is, at its root, a lie.The habit of lying does not end with the racism itself. It is a contagion that extends to the defense of the initial lie.  The expectation of intellectual honesty, from a candidate who employs dishonesty, and from a slice of the electorate that stakes their political lives on that dishonesty is rather bizarre.

When a professor of history calls Barack Obama a “Food Stamp President,” it isn’t a mistake to be remedied through clarification; it is a statement of aggression. And when a crowd of his admirers cheer him on, they are neither deluded, nor in need of forgiveness, nor absolution, nor acting against their interest. Racism is their interest. They are not your misguided friends. They are your fully intelligent adversaries, sporting the broad range of virtue and vice we see in humankind. If you are a praying person, you should pray for their electoral destruction in November.

This has become Standard Operating Procedure in conservatism. Blow that racist dog whistle – food stamps, black president, class warfare is not happening. When called on using said racist dog whistle, claim victim-hood: explaining how conservatives use racial prejudice is a sin far greater than the racism itself. That political tactic and smear is now part of the standard Republican campaign kit. Those concerned about racism are worse than the racists has become such a successful meme that the press/media has been tamed and intimidated once again by right-wing propaganda techniques – Santorum, Race and the Limits of Journalistic Fairness

You’re an NPR reporter covering a presidential candidate. Serious stuff, even if it’s still early in the election season. As he speaks, you think you hear the candidate say something that negatively singles out African-Americans. You try to get an explanation from the candidate after he finishes, but can’t get to him. So, you go back to your hotel and listen to the tape. You’re convinced he said it. But it’s a little garbled.

What do you do?

In the balance, as you prepare your story, could be the fate of one man’s presidential candidacy, or an increase in racial friction during an election year—or just simple accuracy.

This is the situation that Ted Robbins faced covering Rick Santorum in a meeting with voters in Sioux City, Iowa, two days before the Iowa caucuses earlier this month. Unable to get an explanation from Santorum, Robbins went with what he heard, which was a slur against black Americans. Since then, however, many listeners—and the candidate himself—say that in the garbled comment, the candidate did not mention blacks. At the most, others say, the candidate might have started to say “black” but stopped himself.

[  ]…This is what Robbins’ story quoted Santorum as saying in Iowa:

They’re [undefined who, but probably government and politicians] just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That’s what the bottom line is.

I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

[  ]…And so the resulting story on Morning Edition did not lead with the “black” comment or hype it by calling it racially provocative. It was only midway through the three-and-a-half-minute report that Robbins said on air:

For Santorum, that [core message] means cutting government regulation, making Americans less dependent on government aid, fewer people getting food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of federal assistance – especially one group.

And then followed the tape of Santorum making the famous quote, which we could all hear for ourselves. The story then cuts back to Robbins, who adds:

Santorum did not elaborate on why he singled out blacks who rely on federal assistance. The voters here didn’t seem to care.

This last comment can be taken in many ways, but Robbins says he was referring to the lack of reaction in the almost all-white audience, which clapped politely.

Curiously, many reporters were at the event, and only NPR reported the highly newsworthy black quote.

Had it been Mitt Romney, or, say, President Barack Obama, who had muffed a line, their press spokespeople would have been all over the journalists to correct—or spin—the statement.

[   ]…CBS was able to do a fact check. Instead of looking at Medicaid, CBS looked at food stamps, a program much easier to analyze. Pelley pointed out that only nine percent of Iowans who receive food stamps are black; 84 percent are white—somewhat reflecting Iowa’s overall racial makeup.

Pure objectivity doesn’t exist. It must be tempered with fairness, with context that considers consequences, or we lose trust.

You’re a very visible candidate running for the presidency of the U.S.A. You think and should know something about the food assistance program. It’s not like asking him or him pontificating about NASA and specific communication satellite missions. Now, last month, five years ago, or twenty-five years ago more whites were on supplemental food assistance than black Americans. Why would you use less than 10% of the people on such a program as your example. Conservatives can spin all they like there is a recurring pattern at work with conservatives and the images they invoke in voter’s minds – Food Stamp President? The Science of Why Gingrich’s Race-Tinged Label Sticks

Black Stereotypes in White America

While core values and their activation by news frames play a significant role in structuring American views about poverty, the issue is by no means “race neutral.” In fact, based on analyses of multiple national surveys, the political scientist Martin Gilens (1995; 1996b; 1999) concludes that among whites, the belief that “black people are lazy” is the most important source of opposition to spending on welfare and to programs that provide direct assistance such as food stamps and unemployment benefits.

In one survey analysis, Gilens determined that holding negative perceptions of white welfare mothers led to some increase in opposition to welfare spending, but the increase was limited.  In contrast, holding negative views of black welfare mothers resulted in substantial increases in opposition (Gilens 1996b; 1999).

He also compared the relationship between the real world incidence of blacks in poverty to shifts in news magazine and TV portrayals, examining any corresponding changes in the public’s perception of poverty’s racial composition. Between 1985 and 1991, while the actual percent of poor who were black remained relatively constant at about 29%, the percent of blacks featured in media portrayals of poverty increased from 50% to 63%; and public estimates of the percent of the poor who were black increased from 39% to 50%.

Other research is consistent with Gilens’ conclusions. For example, Gilliam (1999) traces the stereotype of the “black welfare queen” to a story recited in stump speeches during the 1976 presidential campaign by Ronald Reagan. Gilliam argues that the image has become a common script found in TV news coverage. In his experiments testing the effects of these stereotypes, Gilliam finds that when white viewers watch TV news portrayals of black mothers on welfare, exposure leads viewers to oppose welfare spending and to endorse beliefs that blacks are lazy, sexually promiscuous, law breakers, and undisciplined.

Very wonky research article but worth a read. Liberals are not imagining things. They are not playing the race card. Liberals are dealing with the reality of a very nasty intrinsic part of the conservative movement that has not progressed beyond the 1980s, or hell the 1960s for that matter..

By way of Krugman this morning, Should We Feel Sorry for the Wealthy?

The editors at CBS asked me to respond to Ari Fleischer’s tweets about how tax burdens have changed in recent years:

Are the wealthy paying too much in taxes?: Ari Fleischer, the former White House Press Secretary for U.S. President George W. Bush , has been trying to make the case on Twitter that the wealthy are taking on more of the tax burden than ever. Here’s a sample of his tweets:

@AriFleischer The share of total federal tax paid by bottom 60% dropped from 22.5% in ’79 to 14.4% today. Source: CBO

@AriFleischer   The share of total federal tax paid by middle income dropped from 21% in ’79 to 16.5% in ’07.

@AriFleischer The share of total federal taxes paid by top 10% rose from 40.7% in ’79 to 55% in ’07.

The share of total federal taxes paid by top 1% rose from 15.4% in ’79 to 28.1% in ’07

Of course, the argument is incomplete without knowing how the share of income changed over these years. He uses the CBO as a source, so I’ll use the same same data to respond to his claims:

CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by:

275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,
65 percent for the next 19 percent,
Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and
18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.

The share of income going to higher-income households rose, while the share going to lower-income households fell.

The top fifth of the population saw a 10-percentage-point increase in their share of after-tax income.
Most of that growth went to the top 1 percent of the population.
All other groups saw their shares decline by 2 to 3 percentage points.

Let’s take the top 1% first. Between 1979 and 2007 income for this group grew by 275 percent, and the share of income doubled from around 10 percent to around 20 percent of total income. However, the share of taxes for this group less than doubled. Thus, a doubling of income resulted in less than a doubling of taxes. Given that income growth outpaced tax growth, it’s hard to see how we can describe this as an increase in the tax burden for the top 1%.

Not even hard to understand for non-economists. Income for the top has grown far faster than their tax rate.

Terrain Map Clear Compass wallpaper – Conservatives Hate Modern Europe Yet Yearn for an Old Europe Aristocracy

Terrain Map Clear Compass wallpaper

 

I’m trying to avoid making the posts about the GOP candidates about the horse race. While Mittens seems to still have a lock, conservatives are still not thrilled with him. Since Romney is on track to being the nominee it is a better use of my time to focus on Romney’s view of what is wrong with the economy, foreign policy, education, the environment, unemployment and so forth, and his policy prescriptions should he become president. Conservatives pundits have taken turns swearing that every candidate that has had a surge is the candidate that Obama and Democrats are most afraid of. None of them pose a particular threat to president Obama’s reelection. They each have so much baggage they could have alternate carriers in bad reality based soap operas. Should I get wavering independents passing by I highly recommend becoming a right-wing conservative. While there have been a few surprising attacks on their own, conservatives are remarkable in their ability to pretend their side has made no mistakes. Imagine being able to go through life with very little criticism from your peers – constructive or otherwise. You can be a total screw-up and be as corrupt as any crime family in history. Conservative actually make organized crime look like pansy amateurs. You’ll be able to make all the contradictory statements and factless assertions as you like. You can can this to the extremes of absurdity – Obamacare is Romneycare which was based on a study done by the extreme right-wing conservative Heritage Institute. Ethics, humility, honesty with self, ability to understand and convey complex issues- especially economic are not requirements. There is a script to memorize – that taxes trump everything else as an issue. No wants to or should want to pay excessive taxes, but they are far from the only issue a nation and its citizens should concern itself with,

The problem of anti-social corporate behavior, behavior which though legal, seriously harms the public interest (for example, the environment, human rights, the public health and safety, the dignity of employees or the welfare of our communities), is a serious problem which so far both political parties have largely chosen to ignore.

There are many ways to make money, but some companies make money while damaging the public interest and others make money without damaging it.  Until now, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been prone to ignore the latter.  This no doubt has something to do with the billions of dollars the abusers spend each year on lobbying and financing political campaigns.

 

I have come to realize, thanks to the conservative debates, that there is a huge secret that conservatives do not know, are oblivious to or cover their ears and sing “Dixie” when someone spills the beans. They do not know that to operate a complex free market economy takes a lot of different parts of a vast machine in order for them to have the dollars they worship like a god. It is not just the infrastructure like bridges, air traffic controllers and firefighters. We need an educated population. We need what should seem obvious – clean water, land that has not been turned into a toxic dump, we need a population that has access to affordable health care, we need a justice system that does not discriminate against people of color or those who belong to religions of which conservatives do not approve. I don’t know we can survive as a democratic republic governed by people whose highest priority is making sure wealthy people – whose wealth is frequently not due to meritorious behavior –  get even more wealth. Smooth Sailing for Mitt

The conservative candidates, each ostensibly vying to be the race’s alternative to Romney, backed off the former Massachusetts governor, allowing him to take the stage—and command it—on questions about the economy. “What I’m concerned with this president is that he’s taking America to somewhere we wouldn’t recognize. I think he is moving us in the direction of a European social-welfare society,” said Romney, in an obvious pivot to the general election.

This goes over well with the lead helmet crowd. For those concerned with facts: 1. Obama has in no way moved us toward the amazing success of European countries such as Sweden Finland or Germany. 2. What does Mitt think would be so terrible about learning from – not necessarily imitating – those countries. The Social Welfare State, beyond Ideology

The Nordic countries maintain their dynamism despite high taxation in several ways. Most important, they spend lavishly on research and development and higher education. All of them, but especially Sweden and Finland, have taken to the sweeping revolution in information and communications technology and leveraged it to gain global competitiveness. Sweden now spends nearly 4 percent of GDP on R&D, the highest ratio in the world today. On average, the Nordic nations spend 3 percent of GDP on R&D, compared with around 2 percent in the English-speaking nations.

The Nordic states have also worked to keep social expenditures compatible with an open, competitive, market-based economic system. Tax rates on capital are relatively low. Labor market policies pay low-skilled and otherwise difficult-to-employ individuals to work in the service sector, in key quality-of-life areas such as child care, health, and support for the elderly and disabled.

The results for the households at the bottom of the income distribution are astoundingly good, especially in contrast to the mean-spirited neglect that now passes for American social policy. The U.S. spends less than almost all rich countries on social services for the poor and disabled, and it gets what it pays for: the highest poverty rate among the rich countries and an exploding prison population. Actually, by shunning public spending on health, the U.S. gets much less than it pays for, because its dependence on private health care has led to a ramshackle system that yields mediocre results at very high costs.

Von Hayek was wrong. In strong and vibrant democracies, a generous social-welfare state is not a road to serfdom but rather to fairness, economic equality and international competitiveness.

This is also a well kept secret among conservatives, life doesn’t have to be this hard. It is a basic tenet of conservatism that suffering is good for America and the more suffering the more good. Conservative policies thus make life extremely easy for the top ten percent, but  life difficult for everyone else. Those at the top are there because they deserve it. There is no acknowledgement of being born into riches, luck, inheritance. merit, which conservatives say they stand for is generally just bunk. Their beleif that the cream of America just riaises to the top by some natural law of nature is why they are not the least concerned with charts like this:

Increasing income inequality

bigger chart.

Mitt has drunk the kool-aid. The rich keep getting richer yet their taxes keep coming down. In Bush-Romney-ConWorld this is supposed to mean jobs for everyone and streets paved with gold. What is about these failed policies that compel Mittens and conservatives to double-down and seek even more tax cuts for people whose wealth is unmatched by any modern history(even some them want higher taxes). You have to go back to the time of  Richard III to find people who claimed they deserved their extreme wealth, even justifying their policies by claiming their deity also wants things this way. Conservatives hate modern Europe with its combination of free markets and strong social safety net, but they love ye Old Europe and its elite aristocracy. David Brooks was kind enough and honest enough to admit as much in a recent column about Romney,

In sum, great presidents are often aristocrats and experienced political insiders. They experience great setbacks. They feel the presence of God’s hand on their every move.

Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to talk about these things openly these days. We disdain elitism, political experience and explicit God-talk. Great failure is considered “baggage” in today’s campaign lingo.

Please vote for Romney the aristocrat so that he can continue to keep the uppity middle-class and working poor in their place where they belong.

Most of George Packer’s new column is stuff that most of you have read elsewhere, though there was an interesting twist and a reminder — Running on Inequality

Last week, a White House official named Alan Krueger gave a speech in Washington about inequality. Krueger is a Princeton professor who specializes in labor economics, and the speech was dense with statistics and terms of art, but the headline was striking: inequality has made upward mobility difficult, if not impossible, for more and more Americans. And the present trend will only get worse. “The persistence in the advantages and disadvantages of income passed from parents to the children is predicted to rise by about a quarter for the next generation as a result of the rise in inequality that the U.S. has seen in the last twenty-five years,” Krueger said. “It is hard to look at these figures and not be concerned that rising inequality is jeopardizing our tradition of equality of opportunity. The fortunes of one’s parents seem to matter increasingly in American society.” Finally, he argued, inequality and the resulting lack of mobility pose a serious threat to economic growth.

In other words, whether you think it’s the result of vulture capitalism or the healthy workings of the free market, inequality is bad for the country, and it’s going to get worse.

If it is ever implemented the way it should be – conservatives keep blocking appointments for administrators the health care(the Affordable Care Act) reform passed by Democrats and Obama – is as Packer reminds us – perhaps one of the greatest programs geared toward leveling the playing field since Johnson’s war on poverty. The ACA needs some tweaks to make it work better and be available to more Americans. That step toward giving more Americans a chance at upward mobility will be killed if there are not more Democrats in Congress in 2013.

The Real Scandal in Private Equity? It’s the Taxes

Mitt Romney likely gets a huge tax break on his income, even though he’s a mega-millionaire, because of a strange and unfair law that gives special privileges to private equity managers …

..Former Office of Management and Budget Director and current Citigroup Vice Chairman of Global Banking Peter Orszag said that the carried interest loophole is akin to a famous actor’s portion of a movie’s revenue being taxed as capital gains, a proposition that most people would hopefully find absurd. Citizens for Tax Justice opined that carried interest “is clearly compensation for services and not a return on investment,” and that private equity managers “should pay income taxes at ordinary rates on their compensation, just like everyone else, from the folks who sweep their floors or answer their phones to CEO’s exercising stock options and professional athletes getting playoff bonuses.”

Thanks to a lucrative retirement package, Romney is still making millions from Bain, much of which is likely being taxed as carried interest. (While Romney has refused to make his tax returns public, he’s said that all of his income is taxed at investment rates.) Analysts have estimated that Romney’s tax rate is about 14 percent, lower than that of many middle class families.

Mittens should wait. If he releases his tax records now there might e time to smoke and mirror them away – probably to include some gobbledygook about being a producer that creates jobs. Now or later he will have to explain to middle-class America struggling to pay for new tires or Tommy’s braces why he pays a lower tax rate than they do.