Celestial Map circa 1684 – Greed, Conservatives, Avarice and Conservatism

Celestial Map circa 1684

In was not too many years previous to this map, which shows the sun stationary with the earth in orbit, that it would have been considered blasphemous. It shows Galileo’s theory of a heliocentric universe rather than the geocentric one described in  1 Chronicles 16:30.

Amy Davidson’s headline reads, Shouting Toward South Carolina or better – Mitt Romney the “vulture capitalist” and the Rest of the Republican Clown Posse Who Have Presidential Fantasies.

When the New Hampshire results came in, with Mitt Romney winning—he got about thirty-nine per cent of the vote—commentators offered two immediate, somewhat contradictory conclusions: the outcome could hardly be better for Romney, and nobody else was leaving the race. Everyone got a ticket to South Carolina. Perhaps New Hampshire’s transformative powers have been exaggerated, and the primary is now so early that most voters aren’t even awake yet. Or Romney’s victories may simply seem less compelling to his opponents than his liabilities; this week has brought a sustained, and arguably belated, interrogation of Romney’s history at Bain Capital. (Alex Koppelman has more on that.) Perhaps none of the not-Romneys want to leave before he’s got the worst of it.

There is a why-not quality to the attacks on Romney, from Newt Gingrich’s involvement in the airing of an anti-Bain documentary to Rick Perry’s characterization of Romney as a “vulture capitalist.” (“That almost sounds like Occupy Wall Street, not someone who is governing the state of Texas as a conservative,” Sean Hannity said to Perry.) One suspects that the “vulture capitalist” line resonates because it serves, for many, not only as a description of Romney’s career but of his personality. It captures something about him—the way he seems to embody the least attractive qualities of both the animal and the automaton. Listening to Romney, one sometimes feels trapped in a science-fiction story that has been written to explore the question of whether robots can lie, or be greedy.

Intangibles are by definition difficult to impossible to quantify. It became the Beltway wisdom that Bush 43 was a tough guy with “swagger”. A mental image beamed into the country’s head by MSNBC’s Chris Mathews. All I ever saw was a whiny brat with an arrogant sense of entitlement. Mittens has some of that as well, but he an amazing additional quality. He does seem like a programmed automaton that sucks the life out of any space he occupies. His programmed lifeless quality may account for why he has been running for president for three years and only received 42% of the vote where only conservatives were voting. The general drift of the political coverage is look ROMNEY WON. Primaries are not horse shoes, if you won you won. Still it says something about the trend on the part of conservatives to however reluctantly to accept what seems inevitable.

Something else Amy said,

And yet the possibility of a Mitt implosion doesn’t seem like enough of an explanation for why so many improbable candidates are still in it. Most generously, there may be sound, or at least plausible, ideological or tactical reasons to stay: Ron Paul can influence the Party platform, Huntsman can set himself up for 2016.

[  ]…Or maybe Newt is just thinking about money. He wouldn’t be alone. Money, in this case, is a shorthand for a whole set of factors that keep candidates in: the money that they might make more easily for themselves, now that more people know who they are (speech-selling, book-writing, Fox News anchoring); and the money that, thanks to Super PACs, they don’t have to work particularly hard to raise.

Cha-ching. That’s the sound all the conservative non-winners heard last night. A united front at this point would surely tip the odds just a little toward a right-wing wing in 2012. Have the runner-ups no shame. Amy as all experienced political reporters, acknowledged that sure Mitt could do something crazy, some awful skeleton could drop out of the closet – an affair with an intern would do far more to hurt Mitt than his history as a vulture capitalist ( per that now famous scene in The Ides of March ). That said the rest of the field knows they’re done. One way to look at how conservatives think is Iraq. They felt no shame at sending over 4,000 Americans to their deaths based on a pack of lies. Conservatives felt no shame at wrecking the economy. Conservative feel no shame in doing everything they can to keep the economy from recovering just to make Democrats look bad. So why feel shame in staying in a political race – in which PACs play a large role, but conservatives are taking millions from gullible Main Street conservatives. Those Main Street conservatives who are our friends and co-workers. You know, the same gullible rubes who also bought the lies about Iraq, think liberals somehow caused the economic collapse. OK wait a minute, maybe these rubes should keep sending their money to clowns who will just screw them over again. Politics has turned into some kind of sick game in which conservative Americans appear to like being treated like trash and fleeced out of their money.  Rick, Ricky, Newt and Ron are all well aware of the blind cult like tendency of their followers. It is not like if they quite they would find something productive to do.

It only took 24hours for the rabid Right to shift into reactionary mode on Newt’s attack ad against Mittens in regards to predatory capitalism, Rush Limbaugh, still the de facto leader of the Conservative Partay: Newt Gingrich ‘Sounds Like Elizabeth Warren’

Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh went nuclear on Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Tuesday, laying into him for his attacks on former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s business career.

“He sounds like Elizabeth Warren,” said Limbaugh, who devoted much of his show Tuesday to lambasting Gingrich, the former House Speaker.

Limbaugh played clips of Gingrich’s remarks from earlier in the day, and said that the former House Speaker sounded like President Obama when he criticized Bain Capital, Romney’s former company, for profiting too much from its takeovers of struggling companies.

Limbaugh doesn’t think predatory business practices are anyone’s business, certainly not the government’s business. Morality, values, repercussions for the lives of people not part of the equation for people like the drug addict millionaire Limbaugh or the cuddled son of a rich daddy Romney. Values are nothing but a hollow marketing gimmick for the conservative movement who get the Main Street conservatives discussed above to get all worked up over the women folk  being in charge of their own reproductive health. Or to get those checks in the mail because surely we’ll all be living under the hammer and sickle unless you elect another crony capitalist rich kid to the presidency – or hurry up and vote conservative, your cracker jack prize will be the Bush administration part III. Throw in a war with Iran as icing on the crazy cake.

Two reports in the last day show that the Bush tax cut kool-aid still fogs minds, ANALYSIS: GOP Candidates’ Tax Cuts For The Rich Are Up To 270 Times Larger Than Their Tax Cuts For The Middle Class

The 2012 Republican candidates are largely in lockstep when it comes to economic policy, wanting to give huge tax cuts to the rich and corporations while doing next to nothing to boost consumer demand or help the middle class and the unemployed who have been battered by the Great Recession. In fact, according to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, the average tax cuts received by the richest 1 percent of Americans under the Republican plans would be 270 times as large as the cut received by the middle class…

Once again the deficit peacocks show the only plan they have to balance the budget is to gut absolutely every bit of government that those in the middle and working classes relies on. All so the wealthy can buy more imported German cars and McMansions. The conservative tax giveaway certainly is not about the unfair tax rate or corporations needing yet the umpteenth tax break to create jobs: Over Two-Thirds Of Corporations Pay No Federal Corporate Income Tax

The issue of corporate tax participation has become especially pressing in recent years, as the country struggles to manage its ballooning deficits. Corporate taxes for non-financial companies have fallen more than 13 percent since 2007, according to Bloomberg. At the same time, the national debt grew to $15.23 trillion from $9.13 trillion — a number larger than the economy itself.

According to a recent analysis of nearly 300 Fortune 500 companies by the Citizens for Tax Justice, the average company was paying just 18.3 percent in taxes — a little more than half the official rate. And by using techniques like industry subsidies, stock option packages, and moving assets overseas where they can’t be taxed, 30 companies mentioned in the report — including Wells Fargo, Verizon, Boeing and General Electric — didn’t pay a cent in federal taxes in 2008, 2009 or 2010, the report found.

The phenomenon affects state income taxes as well as federal. Last month, another study from the Center for Tax Justice found that corporate tax avoidance had cost states a combined $42.7 billion between 2008 and 2010 — a period when budget shortfalls forced states to cut spending for health care, public schools and care for the elderly and disabled.

Some moderate caring Americans might still be under the impression that pointing out how much Americans suffer would move conservatives to be less predatory and uncaring. Remember back in September conservatives audiences cheered at the idea of someone down on their luck dying. Remember the Scrooge quote from a Christmas Carol about letting the poor die thus decreasing the surplus population. When conservatives read that they get all weepy eyed dreaming of the day when we roll back the safety net and start decreasing the surplus population. But hey they love zygotes.

Via Krugman,  David Atkins( writing at Digbys) address the warped world view of conservatives,

David Atkins, over at Digby’s blog, gets at what I’ve been trying to say about Romney, and more eloquently:

But watching the video clip is profoundly disturbing in a way that goes beyond just a thoughtless gaffe. James Fallows postulates that it’s because he used the word “enjoy” in the context of the act of firing someone–an act that should in no way be enjoyable for the person on either end of the pink slip, if they have any empathy.

But not even that gets at the heart of what is so wrong with Romney’s statement. It goes much deeper, to Romney’s sense of privilege, and a relationship to the world around him that is alien to most Americans and reinforces everything that is wrong with the 1% in America.

The key part of what’s off-putting about the gaffe isn’t the first part about liking to fire people, so much as the second part about “who provide services to me.” Liking to fire people is bad enough, but this is the real kicker.

When it comes to basic services like healthcare, almost no one in America sees the relationship that way. Most of us wouldn’t speak of “firing” our health insurance company. No matter how much we might detest our insurance company, we probably wouldn’t describe the experience of removing ourselves from their rolls an enjoyable one.

But most of all, we don’t see the health insurance company as providing us a service. We see ourselves, rather, as indentured supplicants forced to pay exorbitant monthly rates for a basic need that responsible people with means can’t get out of paying for if we can help it. We don’t see ourselves as in control of the relationship with them. They are in control of us–and no more so than when we get sick and need the insurance most. If the company decides to restrict our coverage or tell us we have a pre-existing condition after all, we’re in the position of begging a capricious and heartless corporation to cover costs we assumed we were entitled to based on a contractual obligation. It’s precisely when we need insurance most that we’re least able to “fire” the insurance company.

The same goes for the rent/mortgage, for the utilities, for the car, for the cell phone bill, for nearly everything.

Romney talks about paying for health insurance as if it were the same as getting a pedicure, hiring an escort or getting the fancy wax at a car wash. It’s a luxury service being provided to him, and he doesn’t like it, he can take his business elsewhere. Romney’s is the language of a man who has never wanted for anything, never worried about where his next paycheck would come from, never worried about going bankrupt if he got sick.

It is the language of an entitled empowerment utterly alien to the experience of most Americans.


Is Christie’s ‘Jersey Style’ Misogyny Helping Romney or Turning Off Voters?

On Sunday, Jan. 8., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was speaking at a Romney for President rally in New Hampshire when he was interrupted by some female hecklers. It’s difficult to make out exactly what Christie’s critics were yelling, but it’s something to do with jobs going down. Ever the class act, Christie’s response: “You know, something may be going down tonight, but it ain’t going to be jobs, sweetheart.” He then goes on to insult the women by saying that if they were from Jersey, they wouldn’t be so silly as to think that his policies don’t support job creation.

Because nothing says “Vote for Romney!” than condescendingly referring to NH females as “sweetheart”, “girls”, make thinly veiled allusions to fellatio and to cap it off, insinuate that they are not as smart as New Jersey females. Does Mittens think this shores up his “regular Joe” vote?

Obvciously the right-wing bloggers think Christe walks on water. The liberal blogespere seems to be divided over the meaning of what Christie said. Some claiming that Chrisite was being his usual jerk self, while others claiming he was implying something sexual and misogynist.  Lets see if what Chrsite says would hold up as non-sexist or especially condesending towards other women, say his mom Sondra A. (née Grasso) Christie.

Sondra Christie rises her hand: Chris I have a question about job creation in New Jersey.

Governor Christie: “You know, something may be going down tonight, but it ain’t going to be jobs, sweetheart.”

I’m guessing that Sondra would slap the smug condensation right off little Chris’s face. Though that is assuming that Chris would dare talk to his mother and any other female family member that way.

MARCH ON WASHINGTON PHOTOGRAPHS – Nice slice of history courtesy the National Archives.

On August 28, 1963, a photographer working for the United States Information Agency (USIA) took a picture which has become an iconic image of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The photograph, in the holdings of the National Archives, is of a young African-American girl, holding a March on Washington banner and concentrating intently on the scene before her. The image has been reproduced countless times in history books, on calendars and most recently in the National Park Service brochure for the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. Edith Lee-Payne of Detroit, Michigan, celebrated her 12th birthday by attending the March on Washington with her mother.

Sunrise Winter Cabins wallpaper – Has Newt Joined The 99%

snow, landscape, America

Sunrise Winter Cabins wallpaper

 

I still tend to stick with my belief back in early autumn that the conservative presidential nominee would be determined by the Republican establishment. As just about every candidate has enjoyed a surge of support ultimately that surge ended because of attacks by the Right – unless you believe that conservative pay any attention to Democratic fact checkers, bloggers and pundits. That establishment dominion over the preliminary process is what has taken on new, unexpected and twisted dimensions. Pitting factions within the establishment against each other. Sure Newt, Perry, Mittens and Santorum are all running as outsiders. We know that is simply not true. Those four in particular are poster boys for political insiders. Romney’s PAC friends at Restore Our Future have been running attack ads against Gingrich that speak to Gingrich’s use of his insider contacts to get large fees from clients such as Freddie Mac. That was interesting even if predictable. Interesting and very surprising in a way that gives yet another pause to the cliche that conservatives are always great campaigners is this from Josh Marshall – The Boffo Awfulness

In the preceding post I referenced this swift-boat-style ‘documentary’ on Mitt Romney and Bain Capital which the Gingrich-backing SuperPAC (Winning Our Future) has bought and will use as the battering ram against Romney in South Carolina. They’ve put up a trailer for it now which you can see after the jump. It really is right out of the Swift Boat witch’s brew, the camp lighting, rumbling black clouds, the cinematography of 30 second hit ads expanded out longform.

Late Update: A few people have written in to say I’m wrong to call this ‘swift-boating’. I guess Swift-boating is in the eye of the beholder. So let me explain what it is I mean. In the main, the premise of this ‘documentary’ seems accurate. Mitt Romney wasn’t an entrepreneur in the sense most of us think of the term. He was a private equity guy, which at its best is the tip of the spear of capitalism’s creative destruction. At its worst, it was a very mercenary and destructive type of takeover operation in which a lot of companies had short term value ‘extracted’ from them and then got junked. Either way, that’s part of the economy we now live in. But it doesn’t look good held up to the light of day in a dismally bad economy. And as the basis for the claim to be a ‘job creator’ it’s either painfully laughable or laughably painful.

With a few tweaks here and there this is an ad someone like MoveOn or a progressive advocacy group would run. It has been written in stone in the conservative playbook that Freddie Mac/Fannie May, Barney Frank – single handedly at that and liberals in general caused the housing bubble and financial collapse. Here we have a far Right conservative and his PAC claiming that predatory capitalism of the type practiced by Romney and his Wall Street friends are a big part of what tanked the economy. This is one for the record books. Historians who write a history of this era need to note this ad and how it it as close as we’ll probably ever see of a right-wing conservative trashing a bedrock myth of the conservative noise machine.

The conservative cult of free markets. The USA had, not a perfect market, but a fairly stable one until the Regan deregulation era started.  The financial collapse or Great Recession was not some natural occurrence like a hurricane, which is what conservatives argue. Oh well, these natural disasters happen – pushed along by those horn-tailed liberals of course, you rebuild and go on. Not what the Levin-Coburn Report says that,  “that the crisis was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.” Newt and his PAC have taken a largely liberal progressive, dare we say 99% stance on the causes of the collapse. No More Mister Nice Blog also brings up an interesting possible consequence for Gingrich, THERE’S A NEW LIBERAL IN THE RACE!

I can’t see how Gingrich and Adelson could have gotten what they paid for. Watch the trailer. No, let me say that again: Watch the trailer and imagine you’re a Republican voter. Imagine you watch Fox News incessantly, and listen to Limbaugh and all the Limbaugh wannabes. Imagine you buy all those damn books the right-wing blowhards put out. How do you react to this?

I don’t care how much “capitalism is great, but…” talk prefaces these attacks on Romney’s record at Bain — it’s not going to impress Republicans. It’s only going to infuriate them. I think this material is much more likely to rally GOP voters to Romney’s side.

He might be right because of the tendency among conservative described in the little poster above. I’m a capitalist. What we have now is pretty much an oligopoly or plutocracy or crony corporatism ( Romney comes across as a condescending assclown in the video when he answers back to the crowd about where corporate profits go. Even that crowd of supporters knew that money from corporations filters down to the masses but makes the top 10% very wealthy – Romney’s Bain Capital Made Billions While Bankrupting Nearly One-Quarter Of The Companies It Invested In). NMMNB is probably mostly correct. Though it wouldn’t surprise if  there were not a few conservatives out there who have not drunk the Freddie Mac kool-aid. There was that Mr. Wells in that MoveOn ad and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of those ordinary people interviewed for the Gingrich Winning Our Future PAC were also conservatives. One reason to think Newt might be able to get traction are the polls that showmost Americans support increasing taxes on the wealthy. The numbers are such that a sizable portion of conservatives agree. They must also think that that a small portion of the population is reaping rewards exceeding the contribution they make to the economy. That might not add up to enough conservatives to get Newt back at the top of the polls, but it might be enough to eat away at Romney’s support. If Romney is thus wakened going into the RNC convention the far Right gets a lot of its demands – cabinet appointments, court appointment, political promises in general agreed to. Whatever happens in the long run this should be an interesting week as conservative react to the ad.

I included this link in Saturday’s post but didn’t expand it. It deserves more attention – Super PACs: The WMDs of Campaign Finance

Super PACs can receive unlimited contributions and make unlimited campaign expenditures for or against a candidate, often with actual donors hidden from view. This election year will see an exponential growth in their number and in the funds available to them.

[  ]…Exhibit A (we will likely run the alphabet this year) is Restore Our Future, the Super PAC organized by the political director of Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign and supposedly “independent” of the Romney campaign itself. On November 30, 2011, Newt Gingrich led Mitt Romney in Iowa by a 14 percentage point margin (31 percent to 17 percent), per a New York Times/CBS poll. In the next 30 days, Restore Our Future spent more than $3 million on negative, anti-Gingrich ads — twice the amount spent by the Romney campaign itself. The final result: Romney in first (barely) with 25 percent of the vote, Gingrich in fourth, with 13 percent of the vote.

Super PACs are, of course, the progeny of the Supreme Court’s January, 2010 decision in Citizens United, which declared unconstitutional the legislative provisions that had prohibited corporations and unions from their organizational treasuries to pay for ads, even if those ads were made independently of a candidate’s campaign.

…In 2010, 80 Super PACs registered with the FEC. In this election cycle, more than 250 Super PACs have already registered. This includes a pro-Obama Super PAC (Priorities USA Action), a behind-the-curve pro-Gingrich one (Winning Our Future), a number organized by prominent Republicans like Karl Rove in a reprise of 2010 (e.g. American Crossroads), and even one promoted by Stephen Colbert (Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow). Super PACs spent $90 million in 2010.The amounts they spend this year will be many multiples of that ($32 million has already been raised, and the war has barely begun).

For conservative critics of campaign finance regulation, Super PACs are an excellent development …

Yes Citizens United means that non-conservatives can start PACs and spend tons of money too. Anyone think that all these 30 to second sound bites will provide farther and deeper insight into the issues and candidates. It will be who has the most money to a very large though not exclusive extent – Perry for instance spent more money per vote than Romney in Iowa. More than any other modern era election it will be a campaign of new shampoos. Which media consultants and their script writers can come up with the most and best attacks.

Old Boat Wreck wallpaper – The Shameless Moral and Financial Corruption of Conservatism

Old Boat Wreck wallpaper

Santorum’s ‘Freedom’ is Pretty Much Slavery

He began by doing what conservative presidential candidates always do in this season of economic privation: talked about his family’s one-time economic privation. It wasn’t off the cuff. “As you know,” he said, “I do not speak from notes, but there’s a couple of things I want to say that are a little more emotional, so I’m going to read them as I wrote them.” And what were the words he so carefully wrote to read at this, his moment of triumph? That his grandfather came to the United States from Italy in 1925: “because Mussolini had been in power now three years, and he had figured out that fascism was something that would crush his spirit and freedom and give his children something less than he wanted for them.” He came because—why else?—he loved freedom.

(Brief digression: he says his grandpa came in 1925. Someone should look into this. The racist Immigration Act of 1924 had the previous year made it very, very difficult for anyone from such a dirty, disgusting, non-Anglo Saxon place like Italy to emigrate to the U.S. Maybe Santorum got the date wrong. In any event, the very fact of the 1924 law is another disturbance marring the official Republican cult of America-Is-And-Always-Has-Been-Perfect that I will be discussing below. End of digression.)

So, from the unfreedom of Mussolini, he marched into the rosy-fingered dawn of American freedom—which Santorum described thusly:

“He left to the coal fields of Southern Pennsylvania. He worked in the mine at a company town, got paid with coupons, he used to call them.”

Let us dwell on that. Grandpa Santorum lived in a company town where he was paid in “scrip” in lieu of cash. That means what his grandson calls “freedom” was, well and truly, something more like slavery.

Populism is tricky. The one thing that Santorum would ave had going for him in public life was the lessons he learned from his grandfather. Except like former British PM Maggie Thatcher – who also came from a a family of modest means, they seemed to have decided they wanted to be excepted as one of the Kool Kids and pander to the wealthy elite. Rick and Maggie are like characters in yet another bad high school dramedy where the dweebs betray their roots to fit in with the elite. There are meteor crater sized holes in Snatorim’s tale, but that hardly matters to the rank and file wingers who eat up that faux populism. What makes Rick’s story bizarre is the contrast between his grandfather’s life of real work and Ricky the conservative welfare poster child. The Sordid K Street Past of Rick Santorum

Since losing his Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2006, Santorum has used his connections to land a series of highly-paid jobs. Consol Energy, a natural gas company specializing in “hydrofracking” and the fifth-largest donor to his 2006 campaign, paid him $142,000 for consulting work.

And Rick earned that $142k because e has mad skills in gas mining?

He also earned $395,000 sitting on the board of United Health Services (UHS), a for-profit hospital chain whose CEO made contributions to his Senate campaigns and which stood to benefit from a big hike in Medicare payments Santorum proposed in 2003. (Incidentally, the Department of Justice sued UHS for Medicare and Medicaid fraud during Santorum’s four-year tenure on its board.) Santorum also earned paychecks from a religious advocacy group, a lobbying firm, and a think tank. For pushing legislation benefitting UHS and several other companies, one ethics group named Santorum to its “most corrupt Senators” list.

In 2006 when CREW(Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) named Santorum one of the top three most corrupt politicians in Washington. Rick was beat out by Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA)(who went to jail) and  Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) who was released from prison after serving 17 months of a 30 month sentence for corruption-fraud charges. Rick somehow dodged a bullet on that one despite being in the middle of the whole K-Street/Jack Abramoff scandal.

If they teach Cluelessness 101 in journalism schools Politico’s Dylan Byers aced that class, What Newt said about food stamps

A reporter on the trail notes that Gingrich frequently says in his stump speeches that he would urge people to demand paychecks instead of food stamps — a talking point that it is not usually met with great alarm by the media. He also frequently says that he would go to the NAACP convention if it invited him. On Thursday morning, the two points came together when he said he would go to the NAACP convention and explain “why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

Clueless Dylan goes on to ‘correct” the record because Dave Weigel tweeted “Newt: African Americans Should Get Off Food Stamps; Demand Paychecks”  and The Daily Beast ran the headline, “Gingrich to African-Americans: Get Off of Food Stamps.” Dylan, Dylan, Dylan. I know that Politico is  a shallow fetid cesspool of reporting, but try to imagine this scenario. Its called formulating a counter factual. In this case it clarifies Newt’s racism. Why connect food stamps with African-Americans. It is a statical fact that more poor whites and poor southern whites in particular collect food stamps than black Americans. More white American collect what conservatives call welfare – aid to dependent children, which has a work requirement of forty hours a week to collect – than black Americans. So who didn’t Newt say why the white community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps. Or why the Latino Catholic community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.

A Newt spokesperson has said, like a good little conservative parrot with a tiresome talking point, that food stamps are an insensitive for people to be lazy. I have never seen any studies or data to back that up. It is a conservative myth. Supplemental Food Assistance pays just over $4 a day in benefits. There is an incentive. Get a good paying job as soon as possible because eating potatoes and corn flakes everyday gets old real fast. Minorities in America were the hardest hit by the financial collapse caused by conservative economic policies that Newt advocated – they have seen some relief in 2011. This is the same Newt has has been riding the wing-nut welfare gravy train forever. Taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac for “historical” advice being of the most egregious examples of pay for play politics in America. The dirty money eating away at democracy. More on Newt here, The Dog-Whistle Behind Newt’s Food Stamps Rhetoric

Another Romney layoff victim, this one a conservative, speaks out

Reuters published a blockbuster story today on GS Technologies, a steel mill in Kansas City that was acquired by Bain Capital, leading to the layoffs of some 750 workers. In this case, the workers lost promised severance pay and health insurance; their pension benefits were slashed. and a federal government insurance agency had to bail out the company’s pension plan — even as Bain raked in millions and millions of dollars in profits.

Now a man who says he worked at the plant for 34 years — a self-described conservative — is speaking out about Romney.

While I deeply sympathize with these men and the fact that working for 34 years still means that people like Romney can come along with their sick twisted ideas of how to implement capitalism, there is a larger point missed. Mr. Wells is only mad at Romney because Mittens is the clear embodiment of how he and his coworkers were given the shaft. Romney is the immediate cause, but it is conservative policies, ones he voted for that are ultimately to blame. He is in Missouri, but he is one of those people Thomas Frank wrote about in What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004) . Wells is happy to vote against his own rational self-interests based on what he heard from Limbaugh or saw on the Fox Propaganda Channel. They talked about America, God and patriotism. Wells never stopped to see if these loony zealots were wrapping intrinsically anti-American crap in a nice red, white and blue ribbon. Mr Wells,

“Right now, if Romney gets in, I am so disgusted that I will probably vote for Obama and I detest him,” Wells says. “Anyone who is willing to put a predatory capitalist in office deserves to get Obama.”

If someone asked him why he “detests” President Obama his answer would likely be a garbled version of what we hear from right-wing conservative pundits everyday. Thanks to Bill O’Nutbar for providing an example – O’Reilly Adopts Mitt Romney’s “Entitlement Society” Language To Defend Him From MoveOn Ad

Bill O’Reilly opened his Fox News show tonight by talking about a purported increase in “political viciousness.” During the segment, he played a MoveOn.org ad criticizing Mitt Romney’s record on jobs.

O’Reilly also stated that “the campaign is really all about an entitlement society versus a self-reliant one, and the struggle will be intense.” That “entitlement society” language comes straight from the mouth of one Mitt Romney.

From a December 20 Washington Post article headlined “Romney sees choice between ‘entitlement society’ and ‘opportunity society’ “:

BEDFORD, N.H. — Mitt Romney framed the 2012 presidential election in a speech here Tuesday night as a choice between an “entitlement society” dependent on government welfare and an “opportunity society” that enables businesses to flourish.

After playing MoveOn.org’s anti-Romney ad, O’Reilly opined, “Now, that propaganda will most likely not change many hearts and minds, but it gives you an idea of what’s to come.”

Interesting choice of words.

Conservatives crashed the economy, voted for TARP, have blocked every job creation measure advocated by Democrats and the income gap between the elite and working guys like Wells are as big as ever. Bill, who makes an estimated $3 million dollars a year for convincing the Mr. Wells of America to vote against their own rational self-interests, has the gall to describe himself and Mittens as self-reliant.

In the bizarro world of conservatism the “self-reliant” like Bill, Mittens and billionaire hedge fund mangers are working over 200% more, are 200% more worthy citizens, are worth 200% more to American society than Mr. Wells. The steal workers, the registered nurses, the shoe store mangers, the bricklayers, the janitors, the court clerks, the customer service reps should all be damn thankful that the right-wing elite lets some of the wealth these average Americans create trickle back down to them. That is what European kings and dukes used to say to the peasants who did all the work that created the wealth of royalty.

In interesting history “The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011,”

They are both the same spot. Not so long ago, all things considered, the intersection of Broadway and 84th Street didn’t exist; the area was farmland. “The Greatest Grid: The Master Plan of Manhattan, 1811-2011,” now at the Museum of the City of New York, unearths that 1879 picture of the Brennan Farm among other historic gems. The show celebrates the anniversary of what remains not just a landmark in urban history but in many ways the defining feature of the city.

After all, before it could rise into the sky, Manhattan had to create the streets, avenues and blocks that support the skyscrapers. The grid was big government in action, a commercially minded boon to private development and, almost despite itself, a creative template. With 21st-century problems — environmental, technological, economic and social — now demanding aggressive and socially responsible leadership, the exhibition is a kind of object lesson.

I do not have a photo of the downtown Manhattan from that era, but I do have one of Brooklyn:

Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, Brooklyn NY, 1906.

Antique Map of Europe circa 1595 – This Election Will Not Be a Bargain

Antique Map of Europe circa 1595

 

I used this link and here to see the total votes versus the amount spent by the Conservative Clown Posse in Iowa.

Mitt Romney: $1.11 million from campaign, PAC money from Restore Our Future $2.85 million. Total votes 30,015. Just using his campaign funds each vote cost Romney about $36.70. Adding in the PAC money Romney spent $120.00 per vote.

Rick Perry: $2.86 million from campaign, Pro-Perry PAC $1.33 million. Total votes  12,604. Total votes  12,604. using the campaign funds spent Perry paid $227.00 per vote. Counting the total with his PAC Perry spent $332.00 per vote.

Ron Paul: $1.37 million from campaign funds. Total votes 26,219. $53.00 per vote.

Rick Santorum: $1 million from campaign funds, $400k from the Super PAC – the Red, White and Blue Fund. Total votes 30,007 . $33.33 per vote with just campaign funds. $46.66 per vote counting PAC funds.

Newt Gingrich: $476,000 from campaign funds. Total votes 16,251. $28.74 per vote.

Michele Bachmann: unknown. Total votes 6,073.

This is not exactly Nate Silver depth analysis but it does look like that while Paul and Santorum got a lot of bang for the buck, the Republican presidential nomination is for sale wit Romney and friends the ones likely to buy it. Apparently Perry cannot get any value for his dollar. I can see Perry staying in for a while hoping for a VP slot or a cabinet post. The same could also apply to Santorum and Gingrich. Gingrich seems to be losing any delegate leverage he might have very quickly. None of the clown posse candidates have recovered once they had a dip in their surge.

More than ever PAC money will be a big factor in the 2012 election cycle.

This is probably not the most fascinating analysis in the world, but one has to consider that looking deep into the eyes of right-wing conservatives and right-wing libertarians is like watching bread go stale, Ron Paul, Spoiler?

This looks like an election cycle ripe for small-party or third-party candidates. The bases of both main parties include unusually large numbers of disillusioned voters. Movements like the Tea Party and the Occupy groups have already constructed networks that small-party candidates could adapt and synthesize with sections of Ron Paul’s base.

In this post-Citizens United era, in which corporations, unions, and wealthy individuals are free to spend unlimited amounts of money to support their mainstream candidates, it would be hard for such candidates to do anywhere near as well nationally in November as Paul did on Tuesday in Iowa. But they could nonetheless tip the election, most likely in favor of President Obama, by drawing off votes in swing states that might otherwise go to Romney.

Obama versus Romney looks, from this admittedly great and unpredictable distance, like it will be a close-run thing. Ralph Nader’s vote in Florida in 2000, which arguably cost Al Gore the Presidency, is a reminder that even relatively small numbers of disenfranchised-feeling but mobilized voters can decide close Presidential races—and it’s not the only one.

 

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson withdrew from the Republican race to run as a right-wing libertarian. Should Paul decide to join him that would have a sizable impact on the election ( Paul is for government control of women’s bodies while Johnson is not. That might be an insurmountable difference). Though most likely in Obama’s favor. Libertarians are tolerable when they use their liberal credentials on 1st amendment issues – even though their logic is usually twisted even then. In every other way their modern home is somewhere far Right of center. Ron Paul, still loony – Even when the Texas congressman is right on an issue, it’s for the wrong reasons

In the meantime, Talking Points Memo overheard candidate Paul warning the citizens of Sioux Center, Iowa, that land use regulations could lead to dictatorship.

“I’m fearful,” he said “because some people would like us to go all the way to the U.N. and have the U.N. controlling our lands, too.”

Black helicopters, anyone? Exactly who these “some people” might be, Paul didn’t say. Of course, some people think space aliens monitor their thoughts through fillings in their teeth. Some people even believe that the U.S. government has installed chemical tracking agents in $100 bills.

Oops, actually that was Dr. Paul himself. A 1993 promotional letter for the militia-friendly “Ron Paul Newsletter,” published the last time a Democratic president provoked apocalyptic fears among Moron-Americans, helpfully explained: “The totalitarian bills were tinted pink and blue and brown, and blighted with holograms, diffraction gratings, metal and plastic threads, and chemical alarms. It was a portable inquisition, a paper ‘third degree,’ to allow the feds to keep track of American cash, and American citizens.”

Send that tainted cash straight to Ron Paul. He’d know what to do with it. Today, of course, the candidate says he neither wrote nor read any of the crackpot ravings in the Ron Paul Newsletter. Not the stuff about how Martin Luther King was a pedophile, how Israeli agents bombed the World Trade Center, about the coming American race-war, or the “federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS,” none of it.

Even “The Original Famous Ron Paul Survival Kit,” an official World War II U.S. Army ammo holder filled “with highly liquid, small-denomination silver and gold coins for hand-to-hand use,” was supposedly news to Ron Paul.

Sure it was. How could anybody doubt him?

Not to pick on Glenn Greenwald’s and a couple others defense of Paul, but it is difficult to see Paul as they do, in nice convenient pieces through rose colored glasses. Glenn is a lawyer by profession and also happens to believe by vocation in building logical arguments. If you happen to pick the right side of some issue by some slap-shot process as Paul and his followers do, that means they do not build their arguments on solid foundations. When it comes down to decisions on issues that inevitably pop up during a presidency where is Paul going to land based on what should be carefully formulated principles. His drug policy would indeed do away with the ridiculous criminalizing of marijuana, but it would also let Monsanto sell patented poppy seeds to farmers whose morphine derivative products would be marketed like candy or cars. If we had another Kosovo where 10,000 women are being murdered and raped per week is Paul going to shrug his shoulders and declare it none of our business. Maybe it should not be entirely the burden of the U.S. but perhaps another partnership with NATO. With the UN ( who Paul thinks is out to seize your land) as peace keepers.

WHY DOES FOX NEWS HATE PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS? (his caps not mine)

Fox News entertainment reporter Hollie McKay apparently thinks musicians’ intellectual property belongs to the Collective:

Do Musicians Block GOP Candidates From Using Their Songs?

When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s team was looking for a theme song for his campaign, Kid Rock’s hit “Born Free” hit a chord. But instead of doing what countless other politicians before him had done, simply take the song and start blasting it at events, Romney first asked Rock’s permission.

…could he have taken this tack because musicians often seem to lean anti-GOP?

Most talented people, people who are gifted creatively tend to be non-wing-nuts. It just so happens that in a democratic republic such as ours that is not illegal or morally wrong. Its called freedom. Hollie McKay might have asked how is it that conservatives do not have a large base of talented people to chose their music from.

The Grand Strategy Behind Obama’s Recess Appointment

President Obama’s decision to use a recess appointment to seat Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was a no-brainer — such a no-brainer, in fact, that many of us were racking our brains to figure out why he didn’t do it sooner. It’s an important move that brings together four important battles the Obama administration is waging:

1. Nullification. Fights between Congress and the president over presidential appointments have gone on for decades. But Senate Republicans have taken the fight to a new level by using the power to deny appointments to require changes in the laws. The Dodd–Frank financial reform established the C.F.R.B., but Wall Street hates it, and Republicans openly vowed not to confirm any director unless Obama agreed to weaken the law.

This is an entirely new use of congressional power to block appointments. The normally mild-mannered James Fallows has called this “nullification,” and Republicans have begun using it to paralyze large swaths of the government. The normal presidential recourse against hardened opposition to an executive branch nominee is to make the appointment when Congress is out of session, but Republicans closed off that avenue as well, by holding pro forma sessions year-round. If it held up, this would give Congress enormous power over the president – allowing it to unilaterally halt any agency it likes in return for any demand at all. They have likewise refused to confirm any directors at all to the National Labor Relations Board, denying the agency a quorum and essentially halting the enforcement of federal labor law.

The Senate’s conservative minority has made American democracy into a joke blocking everyone and anything they do not like. If Richard Cordray’s appointment was allowed to come to a vote he would have gotten a simple majority – he may have even gotten a few conservative votes as many Republicans liked him. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who has had a amazing career as a serial lying borrow and spend conservative says this is unprecedented. If Mitch’s lips are moving, guess what,

“Unprecedented move”? There is some technical dispute about when the Congress is and is not in recess. But the only thing “unprecedented” about Obama’s use of recess appointments is how rarely he has done it. According to the Congressional Research Service, Bill Clinton made 139 recess appointments in 8 years, and George Bush made 171. According to Wikipedia (only source I immediately found), Obama made 28 in his first three years — or less than half of Bush’s rate, 9+ per year versus 21+.

“Arrogantly circumvented”? At the moment, Obama is the elected president of the United States. The Consumer Financial Protection Board was approved by both houses of Congress and duly signed into law by the president. There is no doubt that Cordray would receive a majority Senate vote in favor of his appointment — if the nomination were ever allowed to come to a vote. And Obama is the one “arrogantly circumventing” Constitutional processes and the American people? Seriously, this kind of thing need to be called out for what it is: nonsense.

Some conservatives have previously argued that presidents have the right to make recess appointments even during pro forma Senate sessions. As I write this the usual shrill cries by Wingnuttia that Obama is a dictator. Conservatives love dictators so that is hardly a good argument.

President Obama needs to do this more not less. This Week on JudicialNominations.org

The president continued nominating candidates to the federal bench, putting forth Judge John Thomas Fowlkes, Jr. of the Shelby County Criminal Court as a nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee and Newark litigator Kevin McNulty as a nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

On the Senate’s last official day of business for the year, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that he would block 21 judicial nominees waiting for floor votes. The Senate subsequently returned eight others to the president. They are:

Caitlin Joan Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Michael Green to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
Victoria Frances Nourse to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Louis B. Butler, Jr., to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
V. Natasha Perdew Silas to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
Linda T. Walker to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
Arvo Mikkanen to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
Steve Six to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

The White House announced that it would not renominate Green; the seat for which the president nominated him has been vacant since March 2009.

In other news:
“McConnell Takes Every Single Judicial Nominee Hostage To Sabotage Consumer Protection Agency,” from ThinkProgress

 

Hostage taking has worked for conservatives. They see the results of elections as optional if they don’t win. If they do win and polls sow the American public thinks they have gone too far, they ignore them. In other words there exists in the same geographical borders the democratic republic of the United States and the land of Wingnuttia. In the land of Wingnuttia they always do what is best for conservative wacko ideologues and plutocrats, not the U.S.A.

The Year 2011 Was The Year That Anti-American Conservative Talking Points About Obama’s Foreign Policy Crumbled. The entire conservative noise machine is just one big Bill Always Wrong Krsytal. For a secert Muslim that hates America Obama sure does kill a lot of terrorists,

Earlier this month officials confirmed that al Qaeda’s chief of Pakistan operations, Abu Hafs al-Shahri, was killed in Waziristan, Pakistan.

In August, ‘Atiyah ‘Abd al-Rahman,  the deputy leader of al Qaeda was killed.

In June, one of the group’s most dangerous commanders, Ilyas Kashmiri,  was killed in Pakistan. In Yemen that same month, AQAP senior operatives Ammar al-Wa’ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, and Ali Saleh Farhan were killed. In Somalia, Al-Qa’ida in East Africa (AQEA) senior leader Harun Fazul was killed.

Administration officials also herald the recent U.S./Pakistani joint arrest of Younis al-Mauritani  in Quetta.

Going back to August 2009, Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan leader Baitullah Mahsud was killed in Pakistan.

In September of that month, Jemayah Islamiya operational planner Noordin Muhammad Top was killed in Indonesia, and AQEA planner Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed in Somalia.

Then in December 2009 in Pakistan, al Qaeda operational commanders Saleh al-Somali and ‘Abdallah Sa’id were killed.

In February 2010, in Pakistan,  Taliban deputy and military commander Abdul Ghani Beradar was captured; Haqqani network commander Muhammad Haqqani was killed; and Lashkar-e Jhangvi leader Qari Zafar was killed.

In March 2010, al Qaeda operative Hussein al-Yemeni was killed in Pakistan, while senior Jemayah Islamiya operative Dulmatin — accused of being the mastermind behind the 2002 Bali bombings — was killed during a raid in Indonesia.

In April 2010, al Qaeda in Iraq leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi were killed.

In May, al Qaeda’s number three commander, Sheik Saeed al-Masri was killed.

In June 2010 in Pakistan, al Qaeda commander Hamza al-Jawfi was killed. [Political Punch, 9/30/11, via ABCNews.com]

 

Flag and Lighthouse wallpaper – Conservatives Shocked To Learn Conservatives Lie All The Time About Everything

American landscapes

Flag and Lighthouse wallpaper

Romney and Perry have spent a combined $10 million in Iowa alone. Romney’s campaign has spent about $1.11 million and a PAC called Restore Our Future ( friends of Romney) have spent about $2.85 million. The latter of which I have seen a few are attacks ads against newt Gingrich. Newt has said is has been running a positive campaign. Now that the Newt wave is over, at least partly due to Romney’s attack ads, Newt is pissed, Gingrich: Mitt Romney is a liar

On CBS’ “The Early Show” this morning, CBS News chief White House correspondent Norah O’Donnell asked Gingrich about comments he had previously made about his chief rival and the Super PAC whose negative campaign ads have hurt his campaign: “You scolded Mitt Romney, his friends who are running this Super PAC that has funded that, and you said of Mitt Romney, ‘Someone who will lie to you to get to be president will lie to you when they are president. I have to ask you, are you calling Mitt Romney a liar?”

“Yes,” Gingrich replied.

“You’re calling Mitt Romney a liar?”

“Well, you seem shocked by it!” said Gingrich. “This is a man whose staff created the PAC, his millionaire friends fund the PAC, he pretends he has nothing to do with the PAC – it’s baloney. He’s not telling the American people the truth.

“It’s just like this pretense that he’s a conservative. Here’s a Massachusetts moderate who has tax-paid abortions in ‘Romneycare,’ puts Planned Parenthood in ‘Romneycare,’ raises hundreds of millions of dollars of taxes on businesses, appoints liberal judges to appease Democrats, and wants the rest of us to believe somehow he’s magically a conservative.

“I just think he ought to be honest with the American people and try to win as the real Mitt Romney, not try to invent a poll-driven, consultant-guided version that goes around with talking points, and I think he ought to be candid. I don’t think he’s being candid and that will be a major issue. From here on out from the rest of this campaign, the country has to decide: Do you really want a Massachusetts moderate who won’t level with you to run against Barack Obama who, frankly, will just tear him apart? He will not survive against the Obama machine.”

This is not irony, it is irony on steroids. It’s a Hollywood special effects mega-movie of the irony monster that ate conservatism from the inside out. The attack ads are made possible by the unlimited spending secret Super PACS unleashed to new heights by Citizens United. A decision made by conservatives on a court packed with ethically challenged conservative judicial activists. Newt and those conservatives who prefer anyone but Romney are reaping what they sowed. Newt Gingrich is correct about Romney breaking bad on the attack ads and short sheeting the truth. Liberals have pointed out that Romney has become a serial and unrepentant liar. Moderate to liberal citizens may wonder, gee, don’t conservatives fact check their candidates. No. Supporters hear the lies, believe them and are so certain of this new “truth” they do not generally bother to do any fact checking – that tendency goes through the roof if a liberal progressive is the one exposing the lie. This tendency to be lousy citizens and uniformed voters can be confirmed by visiting some of the popular conservative blogs such as Michelle Malkin, Gateway Pundit or conservative sites like the National Review.

So Newt Gingrich, yes that Newt, is complaining about lies and attacks during a political campaign. This from the party of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. The political movement of the politics of destruction, the politics of the shock doctrine, the politics of fear and hysteria. The politics which sends kids and parents off to die for a lie and never apologize or make amends. The same conservative Republican party that helped Wall Street steal trillions of the nations’ wealth and blame it all on Fannie May. Let’s say the CIA wrote up a dossier of Newt’s flip-flops, lies and reality challenged “ideas”. With a FOIA request you would get back a booklet of largely redacted tripe. He as been a virtual pin ball machine of policy prescriptions and corruption. Should someone ever put a Newt character in a game of virtual politics, who’ll be able to find out which of your friends is masking a monstrous personality disorder when they choose him as their character.

With a few exceptions conservatives are not outraged by the behavior, lies or half-truths of any of the conservative candidates. Want to see a conservative get upset? Let them tell you about the time they saw someone buy a bag of gummy bears with food stamps. Or tell them you’re going to buy some energy-saving light bulbs. Or Obama’s birth certificate is real. They may have a breakdown if you tell them that the average effective tax rate was lower under Clinton and Obama than Saint Ronnie. One of the hit-men for the far Right, Eric Cantor (R-VA) was so shocked by this revelation on 60 Minutes he suddenly became speechless. This tax information  has been floating around for a while. What is a full-time conservative reality denier to do. Change the argument i.e. well by the time he left office taxes were lower than when he went in. He raised taxes or he didn’t is the question put to Cantor and the challenge to Ronnie the Perfect Conservative. He slashed taxes and saw that he was going to run some extreme deficit numbers – conservatives care about the deficit when its convenient – so he raised taxes again and again.

Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act, 57.3
Highway Revenue Act of 1982, 4.9
Social Security Amendments of 1983, 24.6
Railroad Retirement Revenue Act of 1983, 1.2
Deficit Reduction Act of 1984, 25.4
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, 2.9
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986, 2.4
Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986, 0.6
Continuing Resolution for 1987, 2.8
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, 8.6
Continuing Resolution for 1988, 2.0
Total cumulative tax increase, 132.7

Added $2 Trillion to national debt.

The illusion of Reagan as conservative tax saint even went back to his days as robber-in-chief governor of California. It is the conservative argument that federal tax increases on income and capital gains simply back to those of the Clinton administration were the vast majority of Americans had a very low effective tax rate, is the road to serfdom, socialism, hell or whatever over the top babble. In short being sane and reasonable are bad things.

Ron Paul(R-TX) May Be a Useful Tool, But He is a Crackpot

This obsessive idea has, at various times in his career, led him to: denounce the Civil Rights Act because it infringed the free-market right of a monolithic white establishment to immiserate blacks; dabble in gold buggery and advocate the elimination of the Federal Reserve, apparently because the global economy worked so well back in the era before central banks; suggest that the border fence is being built to keep Americans from leaving the country; claim that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional and should be dismantled; mount repeated warnings that hyperinflation is right around the corner; insist that global warming is a gigantic hoax; hint that maybe the CIA helped to coordinate the 9/11 attacks; oppose government-sponsored flu shots; and allege that the UN wants to confiscate our guns.

[  ]…Now, balanced against that you have the fact that Paul opposes the War on Drugs and supports a non-interventionist foreign policy. But guess what? Even there, he’s a crank. Even if you’re a hard-core non-interventionist yourself, you probably think World War II was a war worth fighting. But not Ron Paul. He thinks we should have just minded our own damn business. And even if you’re a hardcore opponent of our current drug policy — if you think not just that marijuana should be legalized, not just that hard drugs should be decriminalized, but that all illicit drugs should be fully legalized — I’ll bet you still think that maybe we should retain some regulations on a few of the worst drugs. They’re pretty dangerous, after all, and no matter how much you hate the War on Drugs you might have a few qualms about a global marketing behemoth like RJ Reynolds having free rein to advertise and sell anything it wants, anywhere it wants, in any way it wants. But not Ron Paul. As near as I can tell, he just wants everything legalized, full stop.

Paul still makes a useful tool for progressives to mess with conservatives and to send a message to Washington about excessive military intervention, drug policy and SOPA.

In trying to be fair and pick on almost everyone, Six Reasons Why Rupert Murdoch Is Tweeting for Santorum

As you may have heard, Rupert Murdoch is now on Twitter. In a series of tweets under his own name over the New Year, the eighty-year-old mogul announced his arrival in the Twittosphere by reviewing his holiday reading (Matt Ridley’s “The Rational Optimist”—“Great Book”. Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs—“interesting but unfair”); complaining about how crowded it was in St. Barts; and registering his support for Rick Santorum.

“Good to see santorum surging in Iowa,” Murdoch wrote on January 1st. “Regardless of policies, all debates showed principles, consistency and humility like no other.” The following day, he followed up with another message: “Can’t resist this tweet, but all Iowans think about Rick Santorum. Only candidate with genuine big vision for country.”

Taking lectures or tweets from Murdoch on “principles” is like ask a Satan worshiper how to live your life. Murdoch has declared war on blue-collar and middle-class Americans. He is a foreigner who meddles in American politics and has tried with some success to be a king-maker. Now Murdoch is endorses a guy who is possessed by a morbid sense of morality that only a corrupt 15th century priest could appreciate. Ricky and Rupert thinks the government should get up in every woman’s uterus as well – Santorum: States Should Have The Right To Outlaw Birth Control- Anyway,

5) It’s a welcome diversion. Over the past few months, hardly a sentence has appeared in the media about Murdoch and News Corp. without the words “News of the World” and “phone hacking” attached to them. This provides reporters with something else to write about.

As I pasted that quote I remember that Murdoch’s media empire was the ones who hacked the phones of the families of 9-11 victims to get juicy stories for the tabloids. So Rupert does share Santorum’s morbid imagination.

L.A. arson suspect is 24-year-old Hollywood man. He is white and male, does not have a Muslim or Latino sounding name so the Right has no use for this story unless they find he has some political affiliations they don’t like.

New Year Snow wallpaper – Why Do Conseratives Know So Little About The Anti-Democratic Republic Movement Known as Conservatism

snow and trees

Winter Forest Sunrise wallpaper

New Year Snow wallpaper

New Year Snow wallpaper

 

This Krugman column has been up for a few days – Keynes Was Right – so those who follow him have probably already read it. Most Democratic leaning Americans, rank and file Democrats and progressives, not necessarily the Beltway, simply had their opinions confirmed. Both the U.S. and Europe ( most though not all) have bought into the austerity monster. This approach along with some structural issues here in the U.S. is simply going to prolong the nation’s economic pain.

The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.” So declared John Maynard Keynes in 1937, even as F.D.R. was about to prove him right by trying to balance the budget too soon, sending the United States economy — which had been steadily recovering up to that point — into a severe recession. Slashing government spending in a depressed economy depresses the economy further; austerity should wait until a strong recovery is well under way.

…In declaring Keynesian economics vindicated I am, of course, at odds with conventional wisdom. In Washington, in particular, the failure of the Obama stimulus package to produce an employment boom is generally seen as having proved that government spending can’t create jobs. But those of us who did the math realized, right from the beginning, that the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (more than a third of which, by the way, took the relatively ineffective form of tax cuts) was much too small given the depth of the slump. And we also predicted the resulting political backlash.

So the real test of Keynesian economics hasn’t come from the half-hearted efforts of the U.S. federal government to boost the economy, which were largely offset by cuts at the state and local levels.

It is as clear as the English language can be that in this column and multiple others, Krugman is talking about classic Keynesian economics, not Keynes and his views on other subjects. Of course Krugman is right: A Gallup poll found that a clear plurality of Americans favor more government efforts to create jobs, including rising taxes on the wealthy. So conservatives have lost the argument based on facts, though they have won the argument in terms of actual public policy. Democrats in Congress cannot even get Republicans to agree to an extension of long term jobless benefits which have a fairly good multiplier effect in saving jobs. Better than tax or spending cuts. With victory in hand, conservatives, as  is usually the case, still highly resent anyone challenging their cardboard dogma. What’s a wing-nut conservative to do? Use something Keynes wrote in is youth to claim that when Krugman says Keynes is correct, Krugman is approving of Keynes antisemitism. Steven Hayward writing at the always reliably proto-fascist Powerline, Keynes Was Right–About the Jews?

So Paul Krugman phoned in his periodic “Keynes Was Right” column today, arguing that the Obama Porkulus failed only because, like “true” Communism, it wasn’t tried vigorously or faithfully enough.

I wonder if Krugman also credits Keynes’s views on Jews, which British blogger Damian Thompson of The Telegraph brings to our attention.  From Keynes’s diary:

[Jews] have in them deep-rooted instincts that are antagonistic and therefore repulsive to the European, and their presence among us is a living example of the insurmountable difficulties that exist in merging race characteristics, in making cats love dogs …

It is not agreeable to see civilization so under the ugly thumbs of its impure Jews who have all the money and the power and brains.

Thompson adds:

If Keynes was an intellectual hero of the Right, rather than the Left, do you think those quotes would be so little known?

Anti-Semitism used to be a property of the Right, yet it’s worth pointing out that today many of the intellectual heroes of the right are Jews, such as Milton Friedman, Leo Strauss, Irving Kristol, etc., or that anti-Semitism has become almost wholly the province of the Left today.

The whole basis of his argument against Krugman is not that he is wrong and here are some economic facts to support that point of view. While that quote is obviously wrong, stupid and offensive it has both nothing to do with Keynesian economics and Keynes wrote that comment about European Jews when he was 17. Later in life when he was, you know, an adult he supported Jewish refugees and even Zionism.

..arguing that the Obama Porkulus failed only because, like “true” Communism, it wasn’t tried vigorously or faithfully enough. It is though be painted his ass with the words another utterly stupid conservative and stuck it out the bus window. Conservatives are never ashamed of their lack of knowledge, hypocrisy or blatant revisionism of history. Conservative economic polices caused the Great Depression. Keynesian economics got us out. The economic stimulus of 2009 was not a great success but it did keep the economy from rotting in the ditch where conservative economic policies left it to die.( Even Rupert Murdoch’s right-wing rag admitted that according to some conservative legislators the stimulus or Recovery Act worked to some degree. A more apt comparison to the failure of communism would be conservative economic policies which have been responsible for every U.S. recession including Reagan’s S&L fiasco. Yet with every economic calamity the Right always doubles down claiming we were not conservative enough. The mindset of a Stalinist)

Recovery Act’s Impact on Large States ( What conservatives call “Porkulus”)

The following estimates are for the five states where we project the recovery act is protecting the largest numbers of individuals from poverty — more than 300,000 residents in each state in 2009:

California has 844,000 residents protected from poverty by the stimulus, including 335,000 children.
Texas has 640,000 residents protected from poverty by the stimulus, including 271,000 children.
Florida has 425,000 residents protected from poverty, including 154,000 children.
New York has 419,000 residents protected from poverty, including 176,000 children.
Illinois has 305,000 residents protected from poverty, including 109,000 children.

Limited sample sizes in smaller states make it difficult to make reliable projections for all 50 states.

* A flaw is a flaw. In a famous essay on the subject by Chandavarkar called Was Keynes Anti-Semitic? he notes that antisemitism was common in British public schools of the time. That does not make it right, but it doesn’t that Keynes was some monster who stood out from the crowd. Right-wing conservatives tend to worship their heroes, pretending they were flawless. Figures such as Winston Churchill for example who prior to WW II wrote about European Jews, “They have been partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer.” Yet Churchill found the Nazi death camps morally repugnant and as everyone knows helped free Jews from those camps. History is frequently in shades of gray. A reality that consistently spoils the rabid Right’s quest for simplistic arguments that deal in absolute shades of black and white.

It is ironic that one of the modern conservatives who have declared war on science, rationalism and enlightened humanitarianism would cite Irving Kristol as one of their own – Up from the Alcove with Irving Kristol.

As early as 1970, Irving was in complete agreement with Daniel Bell, his co-founder and co-editor at The Public Interest, on “the cultural contradictions of capitalism,” on how capitalism inevitably undermines itself. Irving wrote that capitalism had pledged three things: affluence, individual liberty, and “the promise that … the individual could satisfy his instinct for self-perfection–for leading a virtuous life that satisfied his spirit (or, as one used to say, his soul)–and that the free exercise of such individual virtue would aggregate into a just society. . . . It was only when [this] third promise … was subverted by the dynamics of capitalism itself, as it strove to fulfill the other two–affluence and liberty–that the bourgeois order came, in the minds of the young especially, to possess a questionable legitimacy.

No one has put it better. Irving later noted that “bourgeois society was living off the accumulated moral capital of traditional religion and traditional moral philosophy, and that once this capital was depleted, bourgeois society would find its legitimacy ever more questionable.”

Sounds like Kristol was echoing some of the same sentiments of some of the OWS movement and how America has come to worship greed and materialism at the expense of one’s basic humanity. Kristol uses the word bourgeois where most progressives would use the similar plutocracy. Funny how a liberal knows more about conservatism and its history than a conservative. Or maybe its just another day dealing with yet another  sycophantic echo of the mindless right-wing talking points.

Glenn Greenwald wrote a similar article to this one Progressives and the Ron Paul fallacies – back in 2008. There are some good points and some not so great. In far fewer words in the post I wrote just the other day, I pointed out that Paul does bring up and keeps some focus on some crucial privacy, national security and Constitutional issues . Putting aside Paul’s sorted history on other issues it is fascinating to see Paul advocate some progressive policies and have at least some on the far Right agree. They agree with  Paul when they would automatically reject the very same arguments from a progressive Democrat. I cannot find the link, but Paul, with his anti-war isolationist message goes over well with a lot of enlisted military – who also contribute a lot to his campaign. Truly remarkable. Why will these people accept that message, with only the slightest differences in detail, from Paul and not John Kerry.

Where does Glenn get a little wacky. The old there is no discernible difference between Democrats and Republicans. For one, just look at the public’s reaction to just a few of the radical changes that a wave of right-wing governors brought into focus in the 2010 mid-terms. A lot of Democrats and independents who were pissed off or feeling down about Obama not being the reincarnation of FDR suddenly realized that those “small” differences mean a lot. Democrats and Obama can be frustrating, while many are sick of hearing the lesser evil argument, let me say two things – Citizens United and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. As a frustrated progressive do you want more Antonin Scalias on the SCOTUS or one or two more Sotomeyers. The House of Representatives is neck deep in Scott Walker clones, go ahead stay at home believing there is no difference between parties and usher in even more Hosni Mubarak Walker Republicans into the House. L,G and M also makes some good points – What’s Challenging About Paul?

UPDATE BY ROB:

I want to add a bit to this, focusing mainly on Tom Hilton’s post about the same subject:

Similarly, Paul’s positions on civil liberties issues aren’t actually about civil liberties as we understand them; they’re about his opposition to Federal authority. (An opposition that is somewhat conditional, it should be noted.) For example, in talking about the death penalty, he makes clear that he opposes it only at the Federal level. His opposition to the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, and domestic surveillance come from the same root as his opposition to the Civil Rights Act. He has no real objection to states violating the rights of their citizens; it’s only a problem if the Feds do it.

The assumption underlying this is that people are freer when states (as opposed to the Federal government) have more power. Now, it may seem obvious to some of us that the distinction between one arbitrary administrative unit and another isn’t exactly a human rights issue, but let’s just consider for a moment: does state or local control actually translate to more liberty?

It’s wrong to think of Ron Paul’s racism and his libertarianism as two distinct parts of his political persona, when in fact they are deeply tied together. White supremacists understand what Glenn, apparently, does not; the absence of Federal authority makes it easier for private actors and local governments to repress the civil and political rights of minorities.

To be clear I read the Obama bashing articles at The Nation, Alternet, Firedoglake, Taylor Marsh and various blogs. Where Obama has almost continued some awful policies I still hate those policies. Obama is wrong. Even though he seems to be taking the track of doing the smart thing politically, morally and Constitutionally he is off track. Time for an absurd analogy, but the general gist is what matters: Suppose it was inevitable that you were going have to make a choice between having one leg cut off or both legs, I think most people would go for the best of the possible outcomes, keeping one leg. That’s frequently how progress works. Paul and Romney are steps backwards, at least with Obama we’re not losing ground – OK not much anyway. He actually did extremely well his first eighteen months in office. Things changed – like having a very far Right House and a conservative minority in the Senate that has literally threatened to filibuster every bill and every presidential appointment. There is not some hard to fellow narrative with Obama’s basic political being, he tries to work with what he has. If he has a Democratic majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate we’ll see the return of the moderate to progressive Obama, instead of the Republican-lite none of are happy with.