Black and White Night on the City Freeway wallpaper – Liberalism is the acknowledgement of humanity and its achievements, conservatism is about denying those obvious truths

Black and White Night on the City Freeway wallpaper

To get the horse race stuff out of the way, After Many Momentum Shifts, Michigan Is Too Close to Call

In fact, after adding in a poll from Public Policy Polling that showed Mr. Santorum ahead by five points in interviews conducted on Monday night, our forecast model of the state briefly showed a tie, with Mr. Romney and Mr. Santorum each at 37.6 percent of the vote.

A second poll was then published, from Foster McCollum White Associates and Baydoun Consulting, which showed Mr. Romney with a narrow two-point lead. That was enough to put Mr. Romney back ahead in the forecast model — by the whopping margin of 0.7 of a percentage point. The forecast now gives Mr. Romney a 55 percent chance to win Michigan and Mr. Santorum a 45 percent chance.

I never have understood robocalls. If they are from someone I support I pause for a second to reconsider my support. That’s how irritating they are and most people that bring up the subject do so to complain. They probably work in terms of shoring up support among far Right conservatives when someone yells that Obama is going to take away your guns or other hot button reactionary issues that conservatives use as dog whistle politics. It gets confusing when a Rightie conservative is making them to Democrats. Not in terms of what they’re after, but why they think it will work, Santorum Robocall Asks Michigan Dems To Vote For Him (AUDIO)

Following some speculation that the robocall may have been a “false flag” effort designed to harm Santorum, a spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed to TPM that they were indeed footing the bill, and reaching beyond party lines. “If we can get the Reagan Democrats in the primary, we can get them in the general,” he told TPM.

It’s a controversial tactic. Bill Ballenger, a longtime Michigan politico and the editor of Inside Michigan Politics, spoke with TPM about the call earlier in the day. He said the call piqued his interest because it sounded like it could have come from a union targeting Romney ahead of the Feb. 28 primary. The call focuses on Romney’s opposition to the auto bailout and calls on Democrats to vote for Santorum Tuesday because of it.

“It went on and on like this and I kept listening because I kind of smelled a rat,” Ballenger said. “And finally at the very end, in a tagline it says, ‘this call was paid for by the Santorum for president committee.’

Santorum is also making calls saying he has the NRA endorsement, but they deny they have endorsed anyone. Conservatives lying and playing dirty tricks on each other does make the hose race more of a spectacle, but it seems that no matter what they do, conservatives seem like Niccolo Machiavelli prince wannabes. To them this all looks very clever. To the rest of us it looks like grown men throwing peanut shells at each other. Conservatives cannot seem to overcome their inability to tackle facts, have good judgment or deal in substance. Which brings us to one of the greatest political games in town: conservatives writing columns about every candidate that surges in a poll or two, saying this guy is eminently electable and the one Democrats fear most. Which brings us to conservative pundit James Taranto courtesy Rupert Murdoch, What’s the Matter With ‘Nebraska’? A frivolous essay underscores the left’s serious prejudices.

This column has recently become skeptical of the view–nearly universal on the liberal left but common as well among conservative elites–that Rick Santorum is “unelectable” or far less likely than Mitt Romney to defeat President Obama in November. A new USA Today poll reinforces our skepticism.

[   ]….The trouble with this is that, as we’ve noted, “the extremism on sexual politics” is in substantial part mythical–and the propagation of the myth doesn’t seem to be hurting Santorum. The timing of USA Today’s survey (Feb. 14-21 in the swing states and Feb. 20-21 nationwide) coincides with a media hysteria in which the former senator’s critics have frequently exaggerated or distorted his views to make him appear more extreme than he is. If he wins the nomination, he will have several months to explain himself to an electorate in which extreme social liberals constitute a small minority. (emphasis mine)

Jimmy would be in the park park of being correct about Santourm’s voting record on contracpetion and women’s health issues. That is not the Santourm running for office today,

…but his website now includes a number of executive actions he would take to pare back the program. In October, he also spoke on the “dangers of contraception in this country,” and in the past has also called it “harmful to women.”

Despite the fact that even if we pare down Santorum’s potential support to just Catholics, most Catholics do not support Santorum, the conservative agenda or the American Bishop’s (More Catholics support contraception coverage than other Americans)views on providing contraception as part of their health insurance coverage. Taranto has taken up the bizarre meme on the far Right that Catholic individuals stop being individual human beings. They claim – Rick and Jimmy – that the church’s privileges trump the rights of individual U.S. citizens to have  the same unfettered access to health coverage as men. And let’s stop the ridiculous idea that Santorum is dispenser of official Catholic Church doctrine. Santorum rejects climate change as some kind of conspiracy – the Pope and official church doctrine says that climate change is real and should be addressed. Santorum is in violation of church edits. Santorum, Jimmy and the conservative agenda rejects any kind of aid to the poor, including food stamps. The Pope supports food assistance and anti-poverty programs. The Vatican accepts evolution as a proven fact. Conservative believe the earth and the rest of the universe sprung out of fairy dust a couple thousand years ago. If Santorum wants to reject the teachings of his church that is not only fine, but a right guaranteed him in the 1st Amendment, but let’s not pretend that Santorum has corned the market on  last word in morality religious values when it is obvious to anyone not partaking of the koservative kool-aid that he has not. Jimbo goes to to repeat this moldy piece of conservative idiocy,

The liberal left is disdainful, both culturally and ideologically, of Middle America, and that is why the Democratic Party keeps nominating meritocratic toffs like Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack Obama. (emphasis mine)

Such a crock. That is not a dog whistle it is yet another conservative calling on the worse kind of identity politics – the real foks, the real Americans live in this mythical place that liberals do not understand. Its hard to see from Taranto’s ivory tower at Murdoch’s yellow pages for hackery, but Democrats work in auto plants, steel mills, hospitals, in the Marines, on construction sites, own small businesses – they love their families, they work hard, they ain’t perfect but they try to live decent lives and do what is best for their country. America is free today because so many of them gave their lives in a real war worth fighting, WW II. After that war they built the biggest strongest economy in history – conservatives. through their economic polices have guaranteed that China will inherit that mantle. As long as conservatives like Jimbo refuse to acknowledge these simple facts is just another day in my belief that conservatism is the refuge of moral cowards. Jimbo cannot, conservatives cannot ever acknowledge basic truths because they would be left defenseless without their stock pile of sleazy lies, disinformation and denial of reality. Jimbo, Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Paul Ryan – the entire crop of conservative poltroons believe that people like the Koch brothers, Romney and other conservative leeches built the USA. They are in breathtakingly insulting denial about the obvious, that workers who made the products, provided the services and turned around and created the demand are the real heroes of the U.S. economy. And they have the gall to call liberal Democrats elitists.

Our Anti-Government Hypocricy

But this split between abstract beliefs and the concrete needs of daily life doesn’t just apply to government programs: It applies to government regulations as well. Last Thursday, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released a survey that revealed what Pew termed “Mixed Views of Government Regulation.” But “mixed,” in this case, means anti-regulatory in matters of ideology and pro-regulatory in practice. Asked whether they believed that government regulation of business was necessary to protect the public or that such regulation usually does more harm than good, just 40 percent answered that regulation was necessary, while 52 percent said it did more harm than good.

But then came the specifics. Pew asked whether federal regulations should be strengthened, kept as is, or reduced in particular areas. When it came to food production and packaging, 53 percent said strengthen, 36 percent said keep as is, and just 7 percent said reduce. In environmental safeguards, the breakdown was 50 percent strengthen, 36 percent keep as is, 17 percent reduce. In car safety and efficiency, the split was 45, 42, and 9 percent. In workplace safety and health, it was 41, 45, and 10 percent. And with prescription drugs, it was 39, 33, and 20 percent.

Pew then followed up by asking whether there were too few regulations on particular kinds of businesses, the right amount, or too many. For the oil and gas industry, 44 percent said too little, 14 percent the right amount, and 36 percent too much. For banks and financial institutions, it was 43 percent too little, 20 percent just right, and 30 percent too much. For the health insurance industry, the breakdown was 40,18, and 37.

For large corporations generally, it was 43 percent too little, 19 percent the right amount, and 31 percent too much.

On issue after issue the crazy leftists appear to represent mainstream America. yet we come against the I’m against gov’mint but keep your hands off my Social Security mentality. Most liberals are not pro regulation. That is the straw man argument used by conservative zealots. Also echoed by the lazy broadcast media who happily buys into conservative framing. Liberals are pro just enough regulation that consumers, investors and workers are not beaten up by the greed, fraud and irresponsibility of large corporations, Wall Street, toxic polluters and a health care industry whose costs are not constrained by the normal market forces constrain the costs of potatoes.

Upper class people more likely to cheat: study

“The increased unethical tendencies of upper-class individuals are driven, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed,” said Paul Piff, a doctoral student in psychology at UC Berkeley and lead author of the paper published today (Monday, Feb. 27) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Piff’s study is the latest in a series of UC Berkeley scholarly investigations into the relationship between socio-economic class and prosocial and antisocial emotions and behaviors, revealing new information about class differences during a time of rising economic tension.

“As these issues come to the fore, our research – and that by others – helps shed light on the role of inequality in shaping patterns of ethical conduct and selfish behavior, and points to certain ways in which these patterns might also be changed,” Piff said.

The government per se may not be able to ever rid us of this kind of behavior. Government can bring back the social contract that said we’ll tolerant some of this as long as you pay your fair share of the infrastructure. Conservatives want to scrape the social contract that builds and maintains that infrastructure. Without it there is no middle-class, there are just the crony capitalists and the serfdom.

Panoramic map of Stockholm Around 1870 CE

Heinrich Neuhaus (1833–87) was a German-born map maker and lithographer who worked in Sweden for many years. His largest and best-known work is this panoramic map of Stockholm, which he created in the 1870s using an oblique image in isometric perspective. The buildings on the map are depicted with remarkable accuracy. Neuhaus is reported to have said that in order to produce the map, he walked through every neighborhood of the city and sketched the exterior of its buildings and other structures. The map captures the rapid growth of Stockholm that was characteristic of major European cities in the second half of the 19th century. Neuhaus made maps in a similarly three-dimensional style of the Stockholm districts of Norrmalm, Sodermalm, and Ostermalm.

The work and detail that went into this street map are astounding. Someone once said that if it is not worth being obsessed about it is not worth doing. Neuhaus seemed to be obsessed.


The Air Ship Pennington 1891- Conservative Confidence Men Are the Zombies of Foreign Policy

Antique Illustration (wood engraving) of an Air Ship, “The Pennington”., 1891

Edward Joel Pennington (1858 in Moores Hill, Indiana – 1911 in Springfield, Massachusetts) was an inventor and promoter. He did invent  or draw up a plan, then patent a motorcycle design, but no working cycles were produced based on that patent. At one point he claimed to be running the biggest motor car company in the U.S. though he produced very few working motor cars. He also promoted airships and airship travel. He drew up plans and announced that he would produce an airship which would carry forty passengers and the craft would fly at 250 mph. Ultimately the only airship he ever produced was a model that was electrically powered and while large for a model at 10 yards (which he ordered from a model company). That model fell a little short in terms of speed as well, reaching a blistering  6 mph.An interesting article on Pennington from the NYT archives March 10, 1911 “End of Pennington, Erratic Promoter,” (pdf). Some more here, Edward Joel Pennington (1858 – 1911) The World’s First Automotive Charlatan.


Charlatans are a going concern and have been a part of U.S. history for years. They never completely go away because there is always someone to buy into what they’re selling. As much as the U.S. has a proud history of skepticism we also have a history of buying into easy answers, unfounded claims and being exploited by “confidence” men. Conservatism has no shortage of them. Listening to these conservative con artists helps explain the people who open those e-mails that promise easy weight loss, no money down mansions and making six figures a year working from your computer at home. They do not fade into the sunset because they have no shame themselves and like many people who buy into the claims of confidence men, people are loath to admit they are suckers. Conservatives even seem to take some perverse pride in believing and doubling down on the dubious claims. So it is no surprise that the neocons are back. Featured on Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ editorial page, Santorum Was Right About Iran—When It Was Unpopular  .

His opposition to tyranny abroad has been a constant in his political career. Even in the final days of his losing 2006 re-election campaign, Mr. Santorum never stopped calling for action against Iran and Syria.

[  ]…He foresaw that we would eventually have to confront the Iranian and Syrian regimes…

[  ]…Mr. Santorum believes things would be different if we were committed to defeating those enemies, and he is convinced that the region and the world would be far safer if there were regime change in Damascus and Tehran.

That’s why he has long called for support for the Iranian opposition and favors arming and training the Free Syrian Army to bring down the Assad regime. He advocates zeroing in on the foreign scientists—from Russia, for instance—who work on the mullahs’ nuclear-bomb program and declaring them enemy combatants.

Mr. Santorum hopes that American financial and moral support for the Iranian opposition will catalyze the simmering democratic revolution there, which in turn would likely tilt the balance of power in Syria once the regime in Tehran was no longer there to support Damascus. If that strategy fails, he said in Florida in January, he would go with the military option against Iran’s nuclear weapons project, in close cooperation with Israel.

Ledeen repeats a popular myth on conservative web sites that Iran is building missile silos in Venezuela with missiles capable of hitting the U.S. There have never been any intelligence reports confirming that rumor. A German newspaper ran that story and the Right – believing foreign media whenever it suits their agenda – has repeated it as though it were solid evidence. There is plenty of reason no tot believe anything Ledeen says. Like all the good little neocons and the conservative bloggers and pundits who repeated them ( no apologies to date to America and the families who suffered because of those lies,Ledeen promoted the invasion of Iraq in a National Review column,

It’s always reassuring to hear Brent Scowcroft attack one’s cherished convictions; it makes one cherish them all the more. . . .

So it’s good news when Scowcroft comes out against the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters. As usual, Scowcroft has it backwards: He’s still pushing Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdullah’s line that you’ve just got to deal with the Palestinian question. Blessedly, President Bush knows by now that the Palestinian question can only be addressed effectively once the war against Saddam and his ilk has been won. And then Scowcroft says “Saddam is a problem, but he’s not a problem because of terrorism.”

This is the head of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Commission? Doesn’t he read the newspapers? He doesn’t seem to realize that Saddam is actively supporting al Qaeda, and Abu Nidal, and Hezbollah.

However, nobody is perfect, and Scowcroft has managed to get one thing half right, even though he misdescribes it. He fears that if we attack Iraq “I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East. It could turn the whole region into a caldron and destroy the War on Terror.”

One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists.


Yet in 2006 Ledeen acted as though he never said anything that encouraged an unnecessary and costly war,

I do not feel “remorseful,” since I had and have no involvement with our Iraq policy. I opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place and I advocated—as I still do—support for political revolution in Iran as the logical and necessary first step in the war against the terror masters.

Yet today in the WSJ he is putting another war on the table if Iran does not do what a president Santorum tells them to do. President Obama has placed the same plus additional sanctions on Iran as the Bush administration.

Where does Ledeen get his informed opinions from. let’s just say that a Democrat that made the same screwy mistakes, made the same bogus claims and who used the sources Ledeen does, would be drummed out of Washington. It is the nature of conservatism to reward incompetence and malfeasance, Michael Ledeen’s “Wilderness of Mirrors”

Summary: In this post, I look at a series of columns Michael Ledeen has written using former Counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton (JJA) as a literary foil. In the earliest of these JJA columns, Ledeen basically uses the character of the noted paranoid JJA as an excuse to formulate his own baseless conspiracy theories. But of late, Ledeen has been using the device to excuse intelligence breaches he–or his very close allies–have been involved in. In this new formulation, Ledeen seems to be alluding to JJA as a way to boast of his own conspiracies to those in the know, while setting up straw man arguments to otherwise deny the conspiracy.

Michael Ledeen is regularly haunted by a crazy old ghost. Not just any ghost. He’s visited by the longtime head of US Counterintelligence, James Jesus Angleton (JJA), conjured up through an old ouija board he bought in New Orleans. Or at least that’s what Ledeen contrives in a series of columns.

He first used this device, I think, to give himself cover for exploiting current events to make great paranoid claims. Want to turn the Chandra Levy murder into a case of international espionage? Conjure JJA to tell you that Gary Condit was a double agent–blackmailed into trading intelligence in exchange for silence about his multiple affairs. When Levy threatened to expose her affair, she threatened to ruin the double agent arrangement. Want to use the DC Sniper case to drum up fear about Islamic terrorists? Have JJA explain to you that Mohammed’s attacks were done at the behest of an Islamic terrorist group who was actually probing US defenses. Want to exploit the anthrax attacks in your attempts to launch a war against Iraq? Make JJA explain how, contrary to all the evidence, the attacks were obviously a plot of Saddam’s.

As briefly as possible; Gary Condit was a congressman who was guilty of being an adulterer – and shame on him, but that is a very long way from being a murderer or spy. The DC sniper was never found to be tied to any terror groups. The anthrax attacks have also never been tied to any terrorist group, though they were acts of terror. One could call Ledeen and the legends of lesser conservative charlatans just another crazy uncle. I have relatives and friends who fit that description, they might be eccentric, stubborn and have some off the wall theories, but in no way are they dangerous loons like Michael Ledeen. Remember the infamous Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) that said Bin laden was planning to attack before 9-11 and Bush ignored. According to the guy who gets his insights from a ghostly CIA analyst, that was just some vague intell and Bush did not act because Richard Armitage discouraged him. Ledeen was firmly in the Bush Cult. Dear leader could do no wrong. In 2006 Ledeen made this claim, The NeoCon Motto: Never Lose Faith In Someone Who Tells You What You Want To Hear

In January, prominent neo-conservative Michael Ledeen (Karl Rove’s point man on foreign policy), writing for the National Review, reported that Osama Bin Laden had died last December:

And, according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried in Iran, where he had spent most of his time since the destruction of al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Ledeen does not explain why the Iranians – who are Persians and overwhelming Shiite Muslim, were gracious enough to bury an Arab Sunni Muslim who they hated. Ledeen seems to like some Iranians. The cleric class who are in power now did not seem to be too offensive to Ledeen when he worked to transfer arms to Iran during the Iran-Contra scandal. Ledeen was also the instigator of the conservative effort to implicate President Carter’s brother Billy in some crazy plot involving  Yasser Arafat and the PLO. here again one might be tempted to think Ledeen is crazy. The other option – with a lifetime of plots, scandals and shenanigans – is that Ledeen subscribes to being a loathsome human being who hates the Jeffersonian ideals that America stands for.

Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and Michael Ledeen.

With his history and connections with other neocons, the National Review and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), ledeen is clearly a member of the right-wing conservative establishment. Another blogger – sorry lost the link – brought up the plausible idea that Ledeen was covering the bases for the neocon establishment. They seem to lean Romney, but just in case Ledeen believes that little Ricky will do us he is told. It is true that one should not be distracted by Ledeen or Santorum in regards to the neocons hopes for a comeback. The Romney team is neck deep in the same old foreign policy cluster screw-ups –  Romney Gives Bush Neocons Another Chance

Apparently Mitt Romney thinks it’s a good idea to make all that’s old new again with bringing in a bunch of neoconservative war mongers to advise him on matters of national security. If Mitt Romney thinks running as George W. Bush 2.0 on national security issues with the mood of the country being what it is right now after all the money and lives that have been wasted with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, I’ve got to wonder what bubble this man is living in.

From The Washington Post — Mitt Romney taps foreign policy, national security advisers — here’s some of the list of those Romney has tapped to join his team:

Cofer Black, Vice President of Blackbird Technologies; Director of the CIA Counter-Terrorism Center (1999-2002); United States Department of State Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism (2002-2004)

Christopher Burnham, Vice Chairman of Deutsche Bank Asset Management; United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Management (2005-2006); United States Under Secretary of State for Management (2001-2005)

Michael Chertoff, Chairman of the Chertoff Group; United States Secretary of Homeland Security (2005-2009); Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (2003-2005)

Eliot Cohen, Director of the Strategic Studies Program at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University; Counselor to the United States Department of State (2007-2009); Defense Policy Advisory Board Member (2001-2009)

Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Board, American Action Network; Adviser to the Republican Jewish Coalition; United States Senator (R-MN) (2003-2009)

John Danilovich, Member of the Trilantic European Advisory Council; CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation (2005-2009); Ambassador to Brazil (2004-2005); Ambassador to Costa Rica (2001-2004)

Paula Dobriansky, Senior Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (2001-2009)

Eric Edelman, Visiting Scholar at School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University; Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (2005-2009); Principal Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs (2001-2003)

Michael Hayden, Principal of the Chertoff Group; Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2006-2009); Director of the National Security Agency (1999-2005)

[  ]…MADDOW: With the greatest American failure in American policy hung around their necks. With the Project for a New American Century, neocon, fantasy a punchline now, Mitt Romney as a presidential candidate has decided to embrace them.

Conservatives gave the U.S. the economic shaft – spending trillions, weakening regulations, not enforcing the ones we had, cutting taxes instead of paying for the trillions they spent on Iraq and Afghanistan so that billionaires could have even more unearned income – the economic zombies. Why is it outrageous to think they have learned nothing from Iraq. Core conservatives are foreign policy zombies as well. Perhaps not the Ron Paul conservaterians, but that still leaves a lot of conservatives who think that if we started a war with Iran we could get it right this time.

Santorum is feeling cocky these days, Santorum Unloads On “Occupier” Romney

Sen. Rick Santorum struck a sharper tone on the campaign trail today, criticizing Mitt Romney for questioning his conservative values and calling him an “Occupy Wall Street adherent.”

“It’s absolutely laughable to have a liberal governor of Massachusetts say that I am not a conservative,” Santorum said, attacking Romney’s tax plan. “We have a candidate for president who is campaigning as an Occupy Wall Street adherent.”

“He doesn’t understand how America works any more than Barack Obama understands how America works,” Santorum said, about Romney’s plan to cap wealthy individuals’ ability to deduct charitable contributions. ( this link is from a conservative slated media site, so judge the slant accordingly)

His holiness the former pope of K-Street Corruption, he and only he, in his magnificence understands how the USA works. Noting that while arrogance is rampant in politics, Santorum might be part of the mother lode of swelled head spores.

Blue Maze wallpaper – Conservatism is the business of deceit and malefaction, contrary to the ideals of the American people

Blue Maze wallpaper


Investor’s Business Daily is more or less the net version of Fox News. In other words they are in the business of disseminating deceit, fraud and not very entertaining fiction, and passing said hackery off as journalism. Fact checking sites like have done a fairly good job, but even with an agenda that aims for the truth regardless of who looks bad as a result even they screw up once in a while. If a site that wouldn’t know a fact if it swim up their pants and whistled Dixie is doing the fact checking you know they are going to strangle reality,  5 Biggest Whoppers In Obama’s Energy Speech

Fact: While production is up under Obama, this has nothing to do with his policies, but is the result of permits and private industry efforts that began long before Obama occupied the White House.

Obama has chosen almost always to limit production. He canceled leases on federal lands in Utah, suspended them in Montana, delayed them in Colorado and Utah, and canceled lease sales off the Virginia coast.

His administration also has been slow-walking permits in the Gulf of Mexico, approving far fewer while stretching out review times, according to the Greater New Orleans Gulf Permit Index. The Energy Dept. says Gulf oil output will be down 17% by the end of 2013, compared with the start of 2011. Swift Energy President Bruce Vincent is right to say Obama has “done nothing but restrict access and delay permitting.”

So production is up – true – but look at this other bits of cherry picked doggerel. The FACT is that oil companies have leased plenty of land under which are petroleum deposits, but have chosen not to use the leases, Drilling dilemma: Oil industry leases untapped

The oil industry isn’t drilling on leases for millions of acres of land that could be producing energy.

Yet despite claims from several lawmakers, it doesn’t appear this is part of a nefarious plan to drive up gas prices or reap huge profits by companies like Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500), BP (BP), Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) or Royal Dutch Shell (RDSA).

Experts say oil companies aren’t drilling on the land because it doesn’t make economic sense to do it.

During recent congressional hearings many Democrats cited a recent report from the Interior Department showing that over 70% of the offshore acres the industry has leased from the federal government are sitting idle.

Onshore, nearly 60%, or 22 million acres in total, aren’t producing any oil or gas.

They were responding to calls for more acres of the country to be opened up for oil and gas drilling.

“They have the drilling rights to an area of public land the size of Minnesota where they could and should be drilling,” Massachusetts Representative Ed Markey, a Democrat, said in a statement to CNNMoney. “But instead [they] are coming back and asking Congress to allow drill rigs off our beaches up and down the East Coast.”

When I was in high school we used to call people that told whoppers like IBD scumbags. Like Fox News, The Washington Times, The New York Post and hundreds of other conservative propaganda sites, have an agenda: say anything to demonize Democrats. If the 9th Commandment gets trashed in the process, well that is because the constant downpour of deception is the noble lie told in the greater cause of  conservative goals. How great, noble or American could those goals be if you have to bury them under a flood of bullsh*t. More,

Fact: Obama constantly refers to this statistic to buttress his claim that “we can’t drill our way to lower gas prices.” The argument goes that since the U.S. supply is limited, it won’t ever make a difference to world prices.

It’s bogus. New exploration and drilling technologies have uncovered vast amounts of recoverable oil.

In fact, the U.S. has a mind-boggling 1.4 trillion barrels of oil, enough to “fuel the present needs in the U.S. for around 250 years,” according to the Institute for Energy Research. The problem is the government has put most of this supply off limits.

“Because of the investments we’ve made, the use of clean, renewable energy in this country has nearly doubled.”

The Institute for Energy Research is a right-wing conservative group whose front page is currently claiming not building the XL Pipeline is costing billions – PER DAY. That is at least debatable. Others have argued the pipeline would cost the economy millions in environmental degradation, pose a threat to underground freshwater aquifers that millions of Americans and livestock depend on, and would cost millions in healthcare costs. Even the 1.4 trillion barrels of oil is deceptive. They make it sound as though if enough wells were drilled we could get every last drop. While new technology has made previously impossible deposits easier to get to, for practical reasons – like moving entire cities and suburbs – we will never get the every drop of petroleum in the ground no matter who is president. Even Transcanada has admitted the Keystone will increase the price of gas. Big Gov’mint is always to blame, only when its not, Spill, Baby, Spill: House Transportation Bill Is Another Giveaway to Big Oil

We’re already running more drill rigs than the rest of the world combined. As of last Friday, there were 2,008 drill rigs operating in the U.S. and 1,862 rigs operating in the rest of the world, according to industry statistics. In 2010, total U.S. production (onshore and offshore) was the highest it has been since 2003.  And the Obama administration’s latest five-year offshore leasing plan already makes more than 75% of recoverable offshore resources available for exploration and development.  Clearly, the number of acres available to be drilled is not the problem.

And despite decades of effort, oil shale has never been shown to be economically viable. In addition, it would consume huge amounts of western water in the Colorado River basin that is already facing predictions of severe and prolonged drought and which is relied upon by more than 25 million people in the southwest.

Oil companies are letting the vast majority of their leases sit idle. A Department of Interior report released last year found that more than 70 percent of the tens of millions of offshore acres under lease are inactive, neither producing nor currently subject to approved or pending exploration or development plans.  For onshore leases, 22 million out of a total of 38 million leased onshore acres sit idle.   Instead of opening more of our protected lands and oceans to be drilled, companies should be forced to use the leases they already have, or lose them.

Since high school is over we don’t call serial liars like IBD and the Institute for Energy Research scumbags – though we could since conservatives have given license to the reality based community to call them anything we want. They are conservatives.

The media likes to play populist once in a while. The morning news programs in particular. They seem like nice people ( they make high 6 figure salaries and some have million dollar contracts yet they cringe at a 20 cent bump in prices) and they might even mean well. Still, the fact is that they run daily reports on gas prices that make it sound like all someone in Washington has to do is wave their magic wand and say the magic word, and here we have $2.00 a gallon gas, What Reporters Are Getting Wrong About Gas Prices

In addition to the New York Times, reporters at CNN, Politico, ABC News, and the Associated Press have served as a vehicle for politicians to link the pipeline to rising gas prices. And of course, Fox News is making the claim outright on an almost hourly basis now. Fox anchor Bill Hemmer said on Monday: “So long as gasoline is getting higher, that’s all the Republicans have to say is ‘Keystone.'” And that’s from the purportedly “straight news” side of the network.

But does this narrative have any merit?

Ray Perryman, the economist hired by TransCanada to assess the economic benefits of the pipeline, told me that his analysis — the methodology of which has been questioned — points to an impact of “around 3.5-4 cents per gallon of gasoline at current prices” once the pipeline “was fully implemented and flowing reasonably close to capacity.” Moody’s economist Chris Lafakis estimates that when balancing out the different regional impacts, “the pipeline would lower US gas prices by 1.6 cents per gallon.”

For comparison, the U.S. average gasoline price has increased nearly 30 cents in the past two months. Perryman, a supporter of the pipeline, added: “I should also point out that a modest change of this nature will often be swamped by the day-to-day factors that impact market prices.”

Analysts say gas prices are currently rising due to expectations of global economic growth, concerns about Iranian threats to disrupt oil supply and an influx of speculators.



Conservative Mitt Romney also drinks the konservative komrade kool-aid – Romney Falsely Claims Obama ‘Has Not Created Any New Jobs’. This is actually pretty clever. When Obama took office the economy had been hemorrhaging a million jobs a month. While obviously we’re not down to 4% unemployment, Obama and Democrats stopped the hemorrhaging – New CBO Report Finds Up to Two Million People Still Owe Their Jobs to the Recovery Act

A new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report estimates that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) increased the number of people employed by between 300,000 and 2 million jobs in December.[1] In other words, between 300,000 and 2 million people employed in December owed their jobs to the Recovery Act. This estimate, by Congress’ non-partisan economic and budget analysts, is more comprehensive than the 200,000 jobs that ARRA recipients reported in January, CBO explains.

ARRA succeeded in its primary goal of protecting the economy during the worst of the recession. The CBO report finds that ARRA’s impact on jobs peaked in the third quarter of 2010, when up to 3.6 million people owed their jobs to the Recovery Act. Since then, the Act’s job impact has gradually declined as the economy recovers and certain provisions expire. More than 90 percent of ARRA funds were spent by December, according to CBO.

While the report focuses primarily on the fourth quarter of 2011, CBO also includes new projections of the Recovery Act’s jobs impact through 2012. It projects that in the current quarter (the first quarter of 2012), there are 200,000 to 1.5 million more people employed because of ARRA.

Remember that if Romney was president in 2009 he would have stopped the auto-company aid that saved GM, Chrysler and their associated suppliers over a million jobs. So a Romney would have been loyal to some pie in the sky fantasy about pure capitalism, yet tanked the economy.

No Comment From The Times On Columnist’s Mormon Jab

The New York Times offered no response tonight to inquiries about a columnist’s jab at a symbol of the Mormon religion during last night’s debate.

Charles Blow, an opinion columnist, tweeted his outrage at Mitt Romney’s preference for two-parent families.

“Let me just tell you this Mitt ‘Muddle Mouth’: I’m a single parent and my kids are *amazing*! Stick that in your magic underwear,” he wrote.

Mormon men and women wear “temple garments” beneath their clothes as a reminder of their religious commitments, a rough equivalent of Jews’ yarmulkes or tzitzit.

It’s difficult to imagine a Times writer making a similar joke about a Jewish politician.

Mr. Blow is an opinion columnist. His opinions – controversial or not – are how he makes a living. “It’s difficult to imagine a Times writer….” what making a joke. One which that web site and Romney were very quick to use to their advantage, trotting out the old canard about the liberal press out to get them. Let’s have a little context of the overall tone of political differences, just in the last seven days Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich – not as a joke – accused President Obama of supporting infanticide. E. J. Dionne’s most recent column – President Obama as an alien

They say that President Obama is a Muslim, but if he isn’t, he’s a secularist who is waging war on religion. On some days he’s a Nazi, but on most others he’s merely a socialist. His especially creative opponents see him as having a “Kenyan anti-colonial worldview,” while the less adventurous say that he’s an elitist who spent too much time in Cambridge, Hyde Park and other excessively academic precincts.

Whatever our president is, he is never allowed to be a garden-variety American who plays basketball and golf, has a remarkably old-fashioned family life and, in the manner we regularly recommend to our kids, got ahead by getting a good education.

Go to any of the popular conservative sites – especially the ones that have comments – Gateway Pundit, The Free Republic, Weasel Zippers, The Astute Bloggers, Newsbusters; there are thousands where you can find millions of comments accusing and name calling of which makes the magical underwear joke seem like the fantasy of political discourse. If that was the level of barbs the conservative movement usually leveled at their opponents I ‘d say they deserve a pat on the back for cleaning up their act. Instead we have the daily insane vitriol. Conservatives, mainstream conservatives, not some odd balls on the fringe of that movement, have fully embraced the politics of personal destruction. There does not seem to be much of anything off limits.

The story is about baby boomers, but it just as well be about Gen X, Y or millennials, America’s baby boomers entering a new era of  ‘work til you drop’

Like 78 million other U.S. Baby Boomers, Symons and her husband had the misfortune of approaching retirement age at a time when stock market crashes diminished their 401(k) nest eggs, companies began eliminating defined benefit pensions in record numbers and previously unimagined technical advances all but eliminated entire job descriptions from travel agent to telephone operator.

At the same time, companies began moving other jobs overseas, to be filled by people willing to work for far less and still able to connect to the U.S. market in real time.

“The paradigm has truly shifted. Now when you’re looking for a job you’re competing in a world where the competition isn’t just the guy down the street, but the guy sitting in a cafe in Hong Kong or Mumbai,” says Bill Vick, a Dallas-based executive recruiter who started in an effort to help Baby Boomers who want to stay in the workforce.

They seem to think there is some competition between baby boomers and the generations that follow because of a technical skills gap. I have doubts about how far that goes. The article does speak to how a generation at 18 or just leaving college can look ahead and tell themselves everything will be OK, the skills I have will always be needed and the economy won’t affect ME. That inability to see clearly what will happen 20 or 30 years down the road is a compelling reason for every generation to preserve the social safety net. Conservatives would like – and to some degree succeeded in turning the U.S. into a dog-eat-dog economy. They’re sure, just as they were sure about deregulating banks and financial investment firms – that doing away with basic safety net programs like Medicare will save the economy. Gutting the safety net will set us on the path to the land of gold plated unicorns and markets that never collapse. When rational people talk about the economy they are talking about real life, real history and real consequences, conservatives are talking about what they believe in much the same way a member of a cult talks about what they believe. Ever tried to talk a cult member into being rational?

In September of 1848, Frederick Douglass wrote a letter to his former slave master Thomas Auld. You can read the whole letter at the link. Yes we have banned slavery and the civil rights movement has made remarkable progress, yet it is amazing how the remnants of some attitudes in the 1800s are still with us,

  I will now bring this letter to a close, you shall hear from me again unless you let me hear from you. I intend to make use of you as a weapon with which to assail the system of slavery—as a means of concentrating public attention on the system, and deepening their horror of trafficking in the souls and bodies of men. I shall make use of you as a means of exposing the character of the American church and clergy—and as a means of bringing this guilty nation with yourself to repentance. In doing this I entertain no malice towards you personally. There is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily grant. Indeed, I should esteem it a privilege, to set you an example as to how mankind ought to treat each other.

I am your fellow man, but not your slave,


Cargo Ship wallpaper – Modern Magic Tricks, Conservative Republican alchemy transforms freedom into authoritarianism

Cargo Ship wallpaper. Technically a container ship, but that doesn’t have the hard boiled adventurous sound of the kind of sea faring my great grandfather ran off to be a part of when he was in his teens.

Kind of funny how this works. Right-Wing Watch finds the video of Rick Santorum pining for the days of women getting illegal and usually dangerous abortions, and calling mainstream Protestants evil. Liberal bloggers picks up the story and the mainstream media yawns. Matt Sludge, the conservative smear monger and racist picks it and, suddenly its news you can use – Conservatives Start To Sound The Alarm Over Rick Santorum’s Extremism

Drudge is generally seen as a friendly outlet for Romney, and the timing of the less-than-flattering story — coming just a week before the primaries in Arizona and Michigan — was dead-on for someone hoping to derail Santorum’s momentum.

Ed Kilgore noted that Drudge wasn’t the only generally pro-Romney conservative to call out Santorum for extremism Tuesday. Jennifer Rubin took Santorum to task for his comments about women in combat, women working outside the home and this weekend’s meltdown over Obama’s “theology”:

“In short, Santorum on social issues is not a conservative but a reactionary, seeking to obliterate the national consensus on a range of issues beyond gay marriage and abortion.”

[  ]…Conservative radio talker Laura Ingraham hosted Newt Gingrich on her show Tuesday, and spent much of the eight minute interview berating Santorum for causing the conversation to veer away from economic issues in favor of discussions of pre-natal testing.

[  ]…The case against Santorum’s extremism was made to the Republican intellectuals as well. Former Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administration official Peter Wehner issued a stern warning in the pages of Commentary.

“A wise observer told me years ago that for a politician to be seen as the aggressor in the culture wars is the quickest way to lose them,” the longtime veteran of conservative politics wrote. “That is something Rick Santorum should bear in mind as this race moves forward.”

One conservative blog commentor summed up the general reaction of the far Right saying he doesn’t care who Santorum offends, Rick is right and has the courage to speak the ‘truth”. Conservative pundits have been pushing a commentary on culture in the same price range for decades, so there is no reason to be shocked if your tendency is to think that the USA would be far better off if we were governed in a way that reflected the authoritarian theocracy of 15th century Europe. Women were property for the most part, certain chosen men ruled, moral authority was enforced at the end of a rope, in torture chambers and suspected heretics burned at the stake – see The Inquisition.  While they do not make too much of it anymore The Vatican still believes, doctrinally that all Protestants are heretics. All conservative fundamentalists hear is the echo of culture warriors like the late Jerry Falwell who once claimed “The Democratic Party is going to hell in a hand basket.” This from one of the most immoral sacrilegious demigods to grace the stage of American public life. Falwell also warned of the consequences of not destroying Bill and Hillary Clinton, send in those donations and buy the nefarious ‘Clinton Chronicles’ or “the Clintons, the radical homosexuals, anti-family feminists, Godless atheists, and the liberal media will have won.” While there has been progress it does seem like some days the radical insecure homophobes, the women haters, the sanctimonious hypocrites that ignore the Sermon on the Mount and the 24/7 conservative noise machine is winning. While they are not in fact winning they are making life as miserable as possible for as many American as they can. If I had to boil down why I am not a conservative in one short phrase it would be because conservatives are day in day out bereft of genuine morality. Sure they think they’re moral. Some short people think they’re tall. Some dumb people think they’re smart. Some lazy people think they work hard ( Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Bush 43, Ron Paul). There is in fact an on going multi-billion dollar industry(s) ( advertising, cosmetics, plastic surgery, sugar coated breakfast cereals, diet programs, self help books either religious or secular  – to name a few) that knows the depths of which people are capable of deluding themselves. No one is immune, it just happens that conservatives have a particular talent for self delusion. Didn’t everyone enjoy the one about financial deregulation and low taxes creating a thriving economy with full employment. That delusion was a hoot.

Some highlights from little Ricky Sweater Vest: Agenda for the Dark Ages: GOP Frontrunner Rick Santorum’s 5 Most Extremist Themes

1. The end of the secular state. Santorum is a big proponent of the religious-right assertion, which he recently reiterated at the Conservative Political Action Conference, that the rights of American citizens come not from the U.S. Constitution or the laws of man, but from God. (To prove their point, they cite the Declaration of Independence, and the line that “men” are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”) Not just any God, mind you, but the authoritarian, patriarchal God of right-wing Christian theology. And Santorum has reserved for himself the role of theologian-in-chief, the arbiter of true religion, the messenger privy to the things God really wants — and the things Satan really wants, which, according to a 2008 speech he delivered at Ave Maria University in Florida, is the demise of the United States.

Right-wing fundamentalists – being the self sustaining islands of hard work and the chosen they claim to be – are and have been free to start their own theocracy somewhere. Just not here. We have a set of laws that prohibit such a thing. Were they to try by force – like the Civil War – they would once again be guilty of treason. In his, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” [1787-1788], President John Adams wrote:

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

“. . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.”

President James Madison wrote in “Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments

“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

“What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

When moderate Christians or those who have simply some deep personal beliefs not easily characterized want to practice their beliefs as they see fit the Founders had no problem with that. The Founders did not  and most Americans today do not want or need a self appointed mini-Pope like Santorum or any other conservative hypocrite twisting religion into some excuse for tyranny.

Not that this latest in conservative self appointed martyrdom is only between rational American and the kooks. It is another chapter in the conservative clown show – Donald Trump Assails Rick Santorum’s ‘Lobbyist’ Past In Michigan Robo-Call. The pin-up boy for unearned wealth and arrogance pointing out the unfairness of anything is always funny. Not as funny as the Right’s modern incarnation of Al Capone – Chris Christie: Rick Santorum’s Satan Comments Are Relevant

“I think the idea of the fighting against religion piece of this goes to more to Obamacare issue and the invasion of Obamacare into maybe some religious freedom issues.  I think that’s an interesting conversation and an important one to have in the context of overall Obamacare and what’s that going to mean for the country if it goes forward after the Supreme Court arguments this spring,” he said.

Christie  – an outspoken supporter for the former Massachusetts governor – partly blamed Romney’s lack of traction on the Republicans changing the rules from winner takes all to awarding delegates on a proportional basis.

A Romney apologist defending Romney by invoking ObamaCare which is modeled on Romneycare which was modeled on a plan by the wing-nuts at the Heritage Foundation. Scientists need t study this. Some of the neurons in Christie’s head are completely disconnected from the neurons in another part. They don’t speak to each other. That way Christie can look straight at the camera and seem as though he is darn sure that the word salad of contradictions he is regurgitating are perfectly consistent. Of course no one in that press room would dare pause to ask about how the contradiction makes sense.

It’s not pretty, but apropos of Santorum, Christie, Romney and their conservative sycophants, one of the best analysis I have read of the Right’s ability to hold contradictory thoughts in their head – A Conservative Explains Why Right-Wingers Have No Compassion

An understanding of their leaders, infrastructure and political goals is warranted. Max Blumenthal has done the work in his book “Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party.” Blumenthal investigates politicized fundamentalism and provides capsule bios of such movement luminaries as James Dobson, Tony Perkins, John Hagee and Ted Haggard. The reader will conclude that these authority figures and the flocks they command are driven by a binary, Manichean vision of life and a hunger for conflict. Their minds appear to have no more give and take than that of a terrier staring down a rat hole.

Blumenthal examines the childhoods of these religious-right celebrities and reveals a significant quotient of physical and mental abuse suffered at the hands of parents. His analysis of the obvious sadomasochistic element in Mel Gibson’s films – so lionized by the right wing – is enough to give one the creeps. But the book is by no means a uniformly depressing slog: the chapter titled “Satan in a Porsche,” about fundamentalist attempts to ban pornography, approaches slapstick.

According to the author, the inner life of fundamentalist true believers is the farthest thing from that of a stuffily proper Goody Two Shoes. They seem tormented by demons that those in the reality-based community scarcely experience. That may explain their extraordinary latitude in absolving their political and ecclesiastical heroes of their sins: while most of us might regard George W. Bush as a dry drunk resentful of his father, Newt Gingrich as a sociopathic serial adulterer and Ted Haggard as a pathetic specimen in terminal denial, their followers on the right apparently believe that the greater the sin, the more impressive the salvation – so long as the magic words are uttered and the penitent sinner is washed in the Blood of the Lamb. This explains why people like Gingrich can attend “values voter” forums and both he and the audience manage to keep straight faces. Far from being a purpose-driven life, the existence of many true believers is a crisis-driven life that seeks release, as Blumenthal asserts, in an “escape from freedom.”

An observer of the right-wing phenomenon must explain the paradox of followers who would escape from freedom even as they incessantly invoke the word freedom as if it were a mantra. But freedom so defined does not mean ordinary civil liberties like the prohibition of illegal government search and seizure, the right of due process, or the right not to be tortured. The hard right has never protested the de facto abrogation of much of the Bill of Rights during the last decade. In the right-wing id, freedom is the emotional release that a hostile and psychologically repressed person feels when he is finally able to lash out at the objects of his resentment. Freedom is his prerogative to rid himself of people who are different, or who unsettle him. Freedom is merging into a like-minded herd. Right-wing alchemy transforms freedom into authoritarianism.


Joe Wilder: Celebrating a jazz legend’s 89th birthday

Today, the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Jazz celebrate trumpeter Joe Wilder’s 89th birthday. Born in 1922 in Colwyn, Pennsylvania, Wilder’s passion for music began when, as a young boy, he saw his father play the tuba. Primarily known as a jazz musician, Wilder has performed in diverse entertainment settings such as in touring jazz bands, classical orchestras, and on popular television and radio programs. Today, the National Museum of American History honors Joe Wilder, a pioneer on and off the stage. “Harbor Lights”


California Crashing Surf wallpaper – Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism

American landscapes

California Crashing Surf wallpaper


A few bits of history for, well a made up holiday that lumps together the celebration of George Washington and Abe Lincoln. or as it is known in some quarters – early Spring sale day. I differ on some of the particulars, but I agree with Jonathan Bernstein that is a democratic republic such as ours, when the ideals if not actual practice of the new nation, was to be of deeply egalitarian in spirit, paying homage to politicians just ain’t right. As individuals people want to get together and celebrate this or that president or senator, by all means have at it. How about a liberty day or a celebration of the faceless millions who lived and did the best they could to be good citizens.

First up, on this day February 20, 1809, Supreme Court rules that power of federal government is greater than that of any individual state. Appointed by President John Adams Chief Justice John Marshall

Marshall, Ch. J., delivered the opinion of the court as follows:–With great attention, and with serious concern, the court has considered the return made by the judge for the district of Pennsylvania to the mandamus directing him to exercise the sentence pronounced by him in the case of Gideon Olmstead and others v. Rittenhouse’s Executrices, or to show cause for not so doing. The cause shown is an act of the legislature of Pennsylvania, passed subsequent to the rendition of his sentence. This act authorizes and requires the governor to demand, for the use of the state of Pennsylvania, the money which had been decreed to Gideon Olmstead and others; and which was in the hands of the executrices of David Rittenhouse; and in default of payment, to direct the attorney-general to institute a suit for the recovery thereof. This act further authorizes and requires the governor to use any further means he may think necessary for the protection of what it denominates “the just rights of the state,” and also to protect the persons and properties of the said executrices of David Rittenhouse, deceased, against any process whatever, issued out of any federal court, in consequence of their obedience to the requisition of the said act.

If the legislatures of the several states may, at will, annul the judgments of the courts of the United States, and destroy the rights acquired under those judgments, the constitution itself becomes a solemn mockery; and the nation is deprived of the means of enforcing its laws by the instrumentality of its own tribunals. So fatal a result must be deprecated by all; and the people of Pennsylvania, not less than the citizens of every other state, must feel a deep interest in resisting principles so destructive of the Union, and in averting consequences so fatal to themselves.

The rest of the judgement is at the link. Even though it had been years since the first lose Articles of Confederation had been annulled had been replaced by the U.S. Constitution in 1788, there was still a tendency for some states to act on certain matters that deprived the jurisdiction of the federal courts. This one involved a dispute between states. A matter that could not be rightfully decided solely by state level courts.

Since President’s Day started as a tribute in honor of George Washington, Title: His Excellency: George Washington Esq: L.L.D. Late Commander in Chief of the Armies of the U.S. of America and President of the Convention of 1787

In 1787, the confederation of the 13 American states was descending into disarray. The coffers were empty, New York and New Jersey were in a dispute over duties charged on goods crossing state lines, farmers in Massachusetts were rebelling, and Spain and Britain were encroaching on American territories in the west. The Federal Convention was called to address the problems of governing the young republic under the existing Articles of Confederation. The convention responded by framing the document that became the United States Constitution. The convention delegates elected George Washington, the hero of the Revolutionary War, to be the convention’s president. The artist Charles Willson Peale decided to use the convention to sell printed engravings of a new portrait of the general as part of his portrait series of the authors of the Revolution. Peale’s previous attempts to sell prints of the nation’s leaders had proved disappointing and this one fared no better. Although it was not a commercial success, this portrait is considered historically important. Depicting the leader of a nation in crisis, it is one of the few portraits of Washington that bears no trace of a smile.

Washington 1787 CE by Charles Willson Peale – larger

Despite the lack of a smile this is my favorite picture of Washington. Maybe because he seems more expressive and human than the famous painting (The Athenaeum) by Gilbert Stuart. In that painting – legend, myth or whatever – he does look as though he is in pain from his dentures.

Why Conservative Republicans Serial Liars Are Wrong About Bailing Out GM and Chrysler

Without government help, the Big Three will almost surely enter the kind of bankruptcy from which there is no exit. They could file for a Chapter 11 restructuring, but would most likely end up in a Chapter 7 liquidation. Their plants and other operations would be shut and their assets sold to pay creditors. Given the collapse in the financial system and resulting credit crunch, so-called “debtor in possession” or DIP financing would be all but impossible to get. Bankrupt firms need DIP financing to operate–to pay suppliers, finance inventories and meet payroll–while they restructure. It is risky for DIP creditors even in good times, but they do get first dibs on the bankrupt firms’ assets and can earn high rates and fees. But in a credit crunch such as we are experiencing now, nothing will convince creditors to take the risk. [Moody’s Analytics, 11/21/08]

Paul Krugman: Chapter 11 “Would Mean Wiping Out Probably Well Over A Million Jobs.” In 2008, Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote:

If the economy as a whole were in reasonably good shape and the credit markets were functioning, Chapter 11 would be the way to go. Under current circumstances, however, a default by GM would probably mean loss of ability to pay suppliers, which would mean liquidation — and that, in turn, would mean wiping out probably well over a million jobs at the worst possible moment. [New York Times, 11/16/08]

[  ]…That’s why many analysts and scholars believe GM would likely end up in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would entail total liquidation. The company would close its doors, immediately throwing more than 100,000 people out of work. And, according to experts, the damage would spread quickly. Automobile parts suppliers in the United States rely disproportionately on GM’s business to stay afloat. If GM shut down, many if not all of the suppliers would soon follow. Without parts, Chrysler, Ford, and eventually foreign-owned factories in the United States would have to cease operations. From Toledo to Tuscaloosa, the nation’s assembly lines could go silent, sending a chill through their local economies as the idled workers stopped spending money. [The New Republic, 12/3/08]

Isn’t the loss of a million jobs – probably more – what conservatives and rightie libertarians wanted. In write-ups and broadcast punditry, conservatives harp on and on about how saving the auto industry was all about saving the unions. Maybe one day in the slip of a tongue we’ll hear why conservatives were happy as fat little bed bugs at the idea of Detroit going down the tubes. Because it would have devastated the auto workers union. Conservatives cared more about destroying unions that they did about losing a million plus jobs. The conservative governors of Wisconsin, Kansas, Arizona and Florida all passed budgets that gave some kind f tax breaks to corporations that were making millions, yet used the shroud of austerity to weaken state employee unions and lay off workers. Those layoffs hurt businesses in those states far more than tax cuts aimed at the elite helped. Over and over again conservatives have the choice between doing what is best for the USA or following the conservative agenda. They always put agenda before country and working class families.

Maybe they just have not stumbled across it yet, but this little video of Rick Santorum wishing for the days of back-ally abortions and spreading some urban myth about the elderly fleeing the Netherlands because of massive government euthanasia jumps the shark. Rick must be a graduate of the Sarah Palin just say anything that your addled brain can come up school of politics – Obama “Is Manipulating The Domestic Supply Of Energy,” Leaving Us “Enslaved To Foreign Countries And Their Sources Of Energy”. Palin must have been in her cave hibernating when we had eight years of the Bush administration and six years of a super conservative Congress, and yet no energy policy. Oh, that’s right she was probably out shopping with that Alaska state revenue sharing check.

Pat Buchanan was one the wing-nut welafre circuits biggest welafre queens. He babbled on about Holocaust denial, that  gay folks were out to get everyone, that women should be seen and not heard. Except the lack of a big red clown nose he was an obvious and mindless clown of anti-American talking points. He helped the right of center broadcast media bring in viewers – appealing to fear and anger – the base emotions that conservatives always appeal to. Now at least for one outlet the welfare checks and the pity for poor Pat party is over – Pat Buchanan is Not a First Amendment Martyr

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the publication of Buchanan’s latest book, Suicide of a Superpower, in which he laments all the societal changes that irk angry old white men across our land, like uppity blacks and the invasion of the brown horde from south of the border (you can read some of the more colorful quotes here). This is just the latest in a long history of extreme and, many would argue, hateful rhetoric from Buchanan, which includes a variety of sexist, racist and anti-gay statements, not to mention some rather complimentary stuff about Hitler and flirtations with Holocaust denial (see here for more on that). So it wasn’t like Buchanan, in a momentary brain fart, blurted out something he’d rather take back, and for which he could easily be forgiven. This was about a pattern of appalling spoken and written statements over many years.

Buchanan has enjoyed a lucrative career as a pundit for the last couple of decades because he’s articulate and passionate, and his abominable opinions make for good TV. He does indeed say things other people are afraid to say, not so much because he has courage others lack, but because those things are, well, awful. He has every right to speak his mind in any way he likes, but no one has a First Amendment right to a slot on the MSNBC payroll. Furthermore, he’s not being “blacklisted,” he got fired from one corporation. Blacklisting is a decision by a group of employers meant to ensure that you can’t get work anywhere. When screenwriters got blacklisted from Hollywood studios in the ’50s, it meant that they couldn’t ply their trade anywhere in the industry. Pat Buchanan’s voice isn’t being silenced.

How far we have fallen – from the days of Washington when Jefferson and Hamilton battled it out in the newspapers to today when our political pundits consist of ass pimples like Buchanan, Limbaugh, Palin, Ann Coulter and thousands of their clones. None of our first four presidents could get elected today because none of them would past the right-wing conservative litmus tests on religion, the first amendment, state’s rights and the power of Congress to regulate.

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. – George Washington

I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.

A blogger or two is venturing to suggest that this may be the end of little Ricky Santorum’s surge,

Kyle Mantyla of People for the American Way’s indispensable Right Wing Watch has come up with an audiotape of a Rick Santorum address to the students of the conservative Catholic Ave Maria University in Florida, delivered in 2008. It’s an altogether remarkable speech depicting Rick as a leader in a “spiritual war” against Satan for control of America. Much of its involves the usual right-wing stuff about the conquest of academia (outside bastions like Ave Maria) by the forces of moral relativism, but then there is this Santorum assessment of mainline Protestantism:

[O]nce the colleges fell and those who were being educated in our institutions, the next was the church. Now you’d say, ‘wait, the Catholic Church’? No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic, sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.

Even though I know better I sometimes underestimate the conservative Republican ability to deflect and deny. They have political minds with a series of trap doors in which facts, spin and distortions get tossed around like an out of control pinball machine. It is not just Evangelicals, but Pentecostals, fundamentalist Baptists, regressive Mormons and assorted others who would agree with little Ricky in general, if not the specifics. Apparently the history in right-wing conservative circles is not chock full of reality – never has been. There are certainly lots of moments, events and people in U.S. history of which Americans can take pride. Yet, if we lift off that haze of nostalgia we know better. From day one we had slavery and denied women the vote. The south decided to commit treason rather than do the descent thing – citing God and the Bible as justification for slavery. As Santorum and conservative Republicans continue to invoke their twisted dogma as the road map for the U.S.A. this might be a good time to remember that one of America’s most famous traitors did the same in 1861. In his inaugural speech defending the South and its commitment to slavery Davis said,

It is joyous in the midst of perilous times to look around upon a people united in heart, where one purpose of high resolve animates and actuates the whole; where the sacrifices to be made are not weighed in the balance against honor and right and liberty and equality. Obstacles may retard, but they cannot long prevent, the progress of a movement sanctified by its justice and sustained by a virtuous people. Reverently let us invoke the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which by his blessing they were able to vindicate, establish, and transmit to their posterity. With the continuance of his favor ever gratefully acknowledged, we may hopefully look forward to success, to peace, and to prosperity.

Forget the Democrat and Republican labels – modern Republicans like to forget there has been a realignment of the political parties in the last 150 years – the conservative Davis sounds just like Santorum, Romney, Gingrich or any other modern conservative. They have a dystopian vision for America just as Davis did and conservatives still wrap up that dark vision in God and the flag. They should be ashamed of themselves, but one has to have a fully aware and working conscience to feel shame.

Civil rights demonstrators link hands and sing during a protest at the Dallas Country Courthouse in Selma, Alabama. Later, Sheriff Jim Clark ordered deputies to arrest the protesters.February 3, 1965. © Bettmann/CORBIS. Conservative are always echoing the deep yearning to return to some great past of America. Is this what they mean. A hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation Americans still fighting for their right to have an equal place at the table.

Wobblies Marching in Manhattan. Women of the Industrial Workers of the World march to Madison Square Garden in support of the Patterson Silk Strike of 1913. Manhattan, New York, New York, USA  © Bettmann/CORBIS. Conservatives dream of going back to a time where women knew their place – it obviously was not in 1913. Conservatives think America is in a “shambles” because women do not stay at home, barefoot and pregnant – with no access to birth control. Not even conservative women or Catholic women believe that. The vast majority use contraception. The women in this picture were marching for something we take for granted to day – an 8 hour workday and descent working conditions. The strike was eventually busted, but their ideas, their demands lived on and became the norm. This is part of what scares conservatives – real ideas and real progress. When conservatives hate these hard fight fundamental aspects of American life they show their true fidelity – it is not to the U.S.A., the country founded on ideals, it is to a country that lives only on right-wing hate radio, in Rick Santorum’s sick concept of morality, in the conservative love of torture, crony capitalism and trumped up wars that kill our children.

Whether the guy that had plans to blow something up in Washington D.C. was the real deal or just another deadender that did not have a clue is arguable. One thing you can rely on since his last name was not Smith or Jones, is for the usual bed wetters on the Right to claim this proves all non-white non-Christian fundamentalists are evil. Fine lets play that game – Kansas Man With Truck Covered In Anti-Immigrant Stickers Arrested At State Capitol With Explosives . Which – using our patented tin-foil wrapped Conservative logic means that all ethnocentric conservative kooks are out to destroy America. This guy did not have any help from the FBI.

Bill Moyers makes a few good points in this column – Freedom of and From Religion

The president did something agile and wise the other day. And something quite important to the health of our politics. He reached up and snuffed out what some folks wanted to make into a cosmic battle between good and evil. No, said the president, we’re not going to turn the argument over contraception into Armageddon, this is an honest difference between Americans, and I’ll not see it escalated into a holy war. So instead of the government requiring Catholic hospitals and other faith-based institutions to provide employees with health coverage involving contraceptives, the insurance companies will offer that coverage, and offer it free.

The Catholic bishops had cast the president’s intended policy as an infringement on their religious freedom; they hold birth control to be a mortal sin, and were incensed that the government might coerce them to treat it otherwise. The president in effect said: No quarrel there; no one’s going to force you to violate your doctrine. But Catholics are also Americans, and if an individual Catholic worker wants coverage, she should have access to it — just like any other American citizen. Under the new plan, she will. She can go directly to the insurer, and the religious institution is off the hook.

Why aren’t conservatives happy about the way this was handled. because conservatives do not, never have believed in your right to freedom to believe as you wish in the faith of your choice. Originally James Madison had written the 1st Amendment to read freedom of conscience rather than freedom of religion. Perhaps it is too bad he rewrote that passage. Freedom of conscience more accurately portrays the average American’s thought about religion and morality. In the speech from Jefferson Davis from which I quoted, it is a fact that the Bible says slavery is OK as long as the slave does not belong to a neighboring nation. Americans overwhelmingly rejected that strict interpretation of Bible given rights and followed their conscience instead. To day we have conservatives still taking the Davis view – that government is here is shove their beliefs down everyone else’s throat and failure to do so is not a compromise they can tolerarte. They have been consistent in their hatred of freedom of religion. Believing in THEIR wacky concept of freedom of religion is a throwback to the attitudes of the corrupt Holy Roman Empire. Which is what Thomas Jefferson was referring to when he wrote, “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government,” and, “In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.”


I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s. — Mark Twain in Eruption

Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven….The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.– Mark Twain “The Lowest Animal”

Nearly Black and White City Coliseum wallpaper – If Conservatives Really Believed in the Constitution They Would Seize Being Conservatives

Los Angeles, U.S. cities

Nearly Black and White City Coliseum wallpaper


This is like over 24 hour old news, but it contains some major hypocrisies or delusions  which conservatives keep repeating and claiming they believe – Jonathan Bernstein writes, Catch of the Day

To Rachel Maddow. The liberal talk show host went off on a diatribe against Politifact after it rated “Mostly True” a claim by Marco Rubio that “The majority of Americans are conservatives.”

There are a few ways to look at this. Politifact concentrated on self-identification polling, which shows far more American self-identify as conservative than as liberal, and decided that the plurality lead for “conservative” in those polls is at least close to Rubio’s “majority” claim. At a narrowly literal level — and that’s not a crazy level for Politifact to use in many cases — that’s not an unreasonable position. And yet the political difference between a nation in which a group makes up over 50% of the electorate and one in which that group is at around 40% is quite significant.

One could look at it another way, which is to get beyond self-identification to go to whether people believe in conservative concepts or not. But then it gets very tricky, as can be seen easily in from the speech Politifact was fact-checking. Rubio actually said: The majority of Americans are conservatives — they believe in things like the Constitution. I know that’s weird to some people…” Politifact ignored that context of Rubio’s comment, turning it into a narrow question of self-identification. But that’s not actually what Rubio was saying. He’s making a political claim that believing in the Constitution makes one a conservative. But that’s, on the surface false — virtually all Americans, liberals included, believe in the Constitution. Or it’s false in a different way: if Rubio is going to say that believing in the Constitution means believing in a particular interpretation of the Constitution, then those who do so may all be conservatives, but now we’re talking about a very small group of Americans who are well-versed in the controversies about Constitutional interpretation.

For as long as I can remember and add it what I know of past escapades by the conservative via research on the conservative movement – television reports, books, newspaper articles and opinion columns, direct mail ( still important even in the age of the internet), phone bank appeals and pranks by Republicans – they have made demonizing the very words liberal and liberalism a major part of their disinformation campaign for decades. If you frame the question simply in terms of conservative versus liberal in terms of self identification, many people, even though they largely support liberal public policy, identify as conservative. The general trends of public beliefs are amazing and frustrating. There was the recent investigative piece by the NYT that looked at conservatives who use, depend on and yet feel embarrassed about using public programs that they need to get them through hard times. With that recent example in mind of the kind of mental juggling and denial of which individual conservatives are capable we have one of the new generation of conservatives, one of the future wunderkins of right-wing nuttery say that a conservative is someone who believes in the U.S. Constitution. I could easily do a 48 hour blogging marathon listing all the ways in conservatives have betrayed the Constitution in just the last 12 years. They have used the flag as fish wrap for their anti-Constitutional actions, as is their standard operating procedure. Just because the average kool-aid drinking conservative sycophant feels those things have been constitutional does not make it so. Since I can’t do the marathon, let’s just go with two examples. One has shaped recent news and the other is recent, though part of a trend.

Citizens United was a SOTUS decision concerning campaign finance law made in January 2010.  Ari Berman, The Politics of the Super Rich

At a time when it’s become a cliché to say that Occupy Wall Street has changed the nation’s political conversation — drawing long overdue attention to the struggles of the 99% — electoral politics and the 2012 presidential election have become almost exclusively defined by the 1%. Or, to be more precise, the .0000063%. Those are the 196 individual donors who have provided nearly 80% of the money raised by super PACs in 2011 by giving $100,000 or more each.

These political action committees, spawned by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United decision in January 2010, can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, or unions for the purpose of supporting or opposing a political candidate. In theory, super PACs are legally prohibited from coordinating directly with a candidate, though in practice they’re just a murkier extension of political campaigns, performing all the functions of a traditional campaign without any of the corresponding accountability.

If 2008 was the year of the small donor, when many political pundits (myself included) predicted that the fusion of grassroots organizing and cyber-activism would transform how campaigns were run, then 2012 is “the year of the big donor,” when a candidate is only as good as the amount of money in his super PAC. “In this campaign, every candidate needs his own billionaires,” wrote Jane Mayer of The New Yorker.

“This really is the selling of America,” claims former presidential candidate and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean. “We’ve been sold out by five justices thanks to the Citizens United decision.” In truth, our democracy was sold to the highest bidder long ago, but in the 2012 election the explosion of super PACs has shifted the public’s focus to the staggering inequality in our political system, just as the Occupy movement shined a light on the gross inequity of the economy. The two, of course, go hand in hand.

“We’re going to beat money power with people power,” Newt Gingrich said after losing to Mitt Romney in Florida as January ended.  The walking embodiment of the lobbying-industrial complex, Gingrich made that statement even though his candidacy is being propped up by a super PAC funded by two $5 million donations from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.  It might have been more amusing if the GOP presidential primary weren’t a case study of a contest long on money and short on participation.

The Wesleyan Media Project recently reported a 1600% increase in interest-group-sponsored TV ads in this cycle as compared to the 2008 primaries. Florida has proven the battle royal of the super PACs thus far.  There, the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, outspent the pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, five to one.  In the last week of the campaign alone, Romney and his allies ran 13,000 TV ads in Florida, compared to only 200 for Gingrich. Ninety-two percent of the ads were negative in nature, with two-thirds attacking Gingrich, who, ironically enough, had been a fervent advocate of the Citizens United decision.

With the exception of Ron Paul’s underdog candidacy and Rick Santorum’s upset victory in Iowa — where he spent almost no money but visited all of the state’s 99 counties — the Republican candidates and their allied super PACs have all but abandoned retail campaigning and grassroots politicking.  They have chosen instead to spend their war chests on TV.

The results can already be seen in the first primaries and caucuses: an onslaught of money and a demobilized electorate. It’s undoubtedly no coincidence that, when compared with 2008, turnout was down 25% in Florida, and that, this time around, fewer Republicans have shown up in every state that’s voted so far, except for South Carolina. According to political scientists Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar, negative TV ads contribute to “a political implosion of apathy and withdrawal.” New York Times columnist Tim Egan has labeled the post-Citizens United era “your democracy on meth.”

The .01 Percent Primary

More than 300 super PACs are now registered with the Federal Election Commission. The one financed by the greatest number of small donors belongs to Stephen Colbert, who’s turned his TV show into a brilliant commentary on the deformed super PAC landscape. Colbert’s satirical super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, has raised $1 million from 31,595 people, including 1,600 people who gave $1 each. Consider this a rare show of people power in 2012.

Otherwise the super PACs on both sides of the aisle are financed by the 1% of the 1%. Romney’s Restore Our Future Super PAC, founded by the general counsel of his 2008 campaign, has led the herd, raising $30 million, 98% from donors who gave $25,000 or more. Ten million dollars came from just 10 donors who gave $1 million each. These included three hedge-fund managers and Houston Republican Bob Perry, the main funder behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, whose scurrilous ads did such an effective job of destroying John Kerry’s electoral prospects. Sixty-five percent of the funds that poured into Romney’s super PAC in the second half of 2011 came from the finance, insurance and real estate sector, otherwise known as the people who brought you the economic meltdown of 2007-2008.

Romney’s campaign has raised twice as much as his super PAC, which is more than you can say for Rick Santorum, whose super PAC — Red, White & Blue — has raised and spent more than the candidate himself. Forty percent of the $2 million that has so far gone into Red, White & Blue came from just one man, Foster Friess, a conservative hedge-fund billionaire and Christian evangelical from Wyoming.

In the wake of Santorum’s upset victories in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri on February 7th, Friess told the New York Times that he’d recruited $1 million for Santorum’s super PAC from another (unnamed) donor and upped his own giving, though he wouldn’t say by how much. We won’t find out until the next campaign disclosure filing in three months, by which time the GOP primary will almost certainly be decided.

For now, Gingrich’s sugar daddy Adelson has pledged to stay with his flagging campaign, but he’s also signaled that if the former Speaker of the House goes down, he’ll be ready to donate even more super PAC money to a Romney presidential bid. And keep in mind that there’s nothing in the post-Citizens United law to stop a donor like Adelson, hell-bent on preventing the Obama administration from standing in the way of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, from giving $100 million, or for that matter, however much he likes.

Before Citizens United, the maximum amount one person could give to a candidate was $2,500; for a political action committee, $5,000; for a political party committee, $30,800. Now, the sky’s the limit for a super PAC, and even more disturbingly, any donor can give an unlimited contribution to a 501c4 — outfits defined by the IRS as “civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare,” and to make matters worse, that contribution will remain eternally secret.  In this way, American politics is descending further into the darkness, with 501c4s quickly gaining influence as “shadow super PACs.”

A recent analysis by the Washington Post found that, at a cost of $24 million, 40% of the TV ads in the presidential race so far came from these tax-exempt “social welfare” groups. The Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads, a leading conservative super PAC attacking Democratic candidates and the Obama administration, also runs a 501c4 called Crossroads GPS. It’s raised twice as much money as its sister group, all from donations whose sources will remain hidden from American voters. Serving as a secret slush fund for billionaires evidently now qualifies as social welfare.

It has been said  – by conservatives of course – that they are Constitutional fundamentalists – if a law, a concept of law is not explicitly spelled out in the Constitution than they’re against it. Conservatives see no implicit intent in the context of individual amendments, several amendments take together – say like the 4,5 and 66th amendments to gather do not, in the minds of conservatives like right-wing icon Robert Bork, add up to a right to privacy. So little wonder that conservatives see no implicit rights in the Constitution as a whole. They do not see it as a document that advocates both in substance and tone, an egalitarian approach to political campaign fiance law or any other law for that matter. As with most of conservative dogma there is an obvious flaw in their now institutionalized interpretation of campaign finance law by way of Citizens United. If, like Rubio, you are a strict constructionists about the Constitution, where is that passage which say that corporations are people and thus have all the rights as an individual citizen. When it is noted that conservative is not a real political system of beliefs, but rather more a movement based on ultra nationalism, that is not hyperbole. There is no close examination no such thing as conservatism or conservative political theory in the way that there are literally libraries full of liberal political theory. One of the reason conservatives have all their think tanks, PACs, organizations media outlets churning out disinformation on what seems like a 24/7 basis, is that it does not really stand for anything. Rad through some of the bigger right-wing conservative sites and blogs. One of the most overwhelming and sad facts about them is how substanceless they are – even the supposed ground breaking sites run by Andrew Brietbart – they all feature constant appeals to fear – someone or something is out to destroy the American way of life. They are filled with spin – everything a non-conservative does it twisted into the hollow outrage of the day. They claim to stand for capitalism and the right of the individual to achieve their potential – at the same time they worship the elite and policies hat benefit the elite at the expense of everyone elses’ ability to achieve middle-class status no matter how hard they work.

As we all know or are told repeatedly from cradle to grave – conservatives are all about freedom. It is general thought that the crown jewel or corner stone of said freedom is the right to vote, or in modern terms with suffrage in mind – one person, one vote. The constitution does give states some leeway in how they carry out procedural matters and local representations. Though again there is a clear enough implication to non-conservatives that the Constitution considers legally elected representatives to have certain powers and right to office until removed legally by those same voters. Michigan’s Hostile Takeover

When the city of Pontiac, Michigan, shut down its fire department last Christmas Eve, city councilman Kermit Williams learned about it in the morning paper. “Nobody reports to me anymore,” Williams says. “It just gets reported in the press.” This was just the latest in a series of radical changes in the city, where elected officials such as Williams have been replaced by a single person with unprecedented control over the city’s operation and budget.

Gov. Rick Snyder put Louis Schimmel in charge of Pontiac last September, invoking Public Act 4, a recent law that lets the governor name appointees to take over financially troubled cities and enact drastic austerity measures. Under the law, passed last March, these emergency managers can nullify labor contracts, privatize public services, sell off city property, and even dismiss elected officials.

Schimmel got to work quickly, firing the city clerk, city attorney, and director of public works and outsourcing several city departments. City fire fighters were told that they would be fired if their department was not absorbed by Waterford Township’s. Schimmel has proposed putting nearly every city property up for sale, including city hall, the police station, fire stations, water-pumping stations, the library, the golf course, and two cemeteries.

Williams and his six colleagues on city council have been stripped of their salary and official powers. “Nearly the whole city has been privatized,” he laments.

Michigan’s emergency-manager law is the centerpiece of the fiscal program enacted by state Republicans after they took over the Legislature and governor’s mansion in early 2011. The law’s supporters say it allows for a more efficient and nimble response to the budget crisis confronting local governments in the wake of the housing crash and near collapse of the auto industry. Critics are seeking to block and repeal what they call an illegal power grab meant to usurp local governments and break up public-sector unions.

“We haven’t seen anything this severe anywhere else in the country,” says Charles Monaco, a spokesman for the Progressive States Network, a New York-based advocacy group. “There’s been nothing in other states where a budget measure overturns the democratic vote.” Williams says emergency managers are able to enact draconian policies that would cost most city officials their jobs: “They couldn’t get elected if they tried.”

Benton Harbor, Ecorse, and Flint are also currently under emergency management. In Flint, the emergency manager has promised to restructure collective bargaining agreements with the city’s police and firefighters unions. Benton Harbor’s emergency manager banned elected officials from appearing at city meetings without his consent. Detroit, which is facing a more than $150 million budget shortfall, could be next: Mayor Dave Bing has proposed laying off 1,000 city workers and wrung concessions from public-sector unions in hopes of preventing Gov. Snyder from appointing an emergency manager.

Schimmel has pursued the most aggressive turnaround plan in the state. He says he’s simply doing what elected officials have been unable to do: execute a plan for balancing the city’s books quickly and efficiently. He’s not there yet: The city of 60,000 is projecting a $9 million deficit for 2012. “One thing we can’t do is print money,” Schimmel says. “We’re always chasing the dropping knife, fixing something here and losing revenue somewhere else.”

With an indefinite term and a city salary of $150,000, Schimmel doesn’t answer to anyone but the governor, at whose pleasure he serves. The city council can no longer make decisions but still calls meetings, which are routinely packed with angry residents. Asked by radio station WJR if the emergency-manager law hands power over to a “dictator,” Schimmel sighed, “I guess I’m the tyrant in Pontiac, then, if that’s the way it is.”

Emergency managers aren’t new in Michigan, which has been in dire financial straits for decades. Public Act 4 (officially titled the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act) beefed up a 1990 law that brought in state-appointed managers to several cities in the 2000s, without much success at stemming the flow of population, jobs, and tax revenue. Pontiac has been under some form of state-appointed management since 2009. Schimmel’s predecessor laid off dozens of police officers, hired the county sheriff to patrol the city, and dismissed Mayor Leon Jukowski (whom Schimmel has rehired as a consultant paid at half his previous $104,000 salary). During that time, Pontiac’s credit rating had dropped from B to triple-C. “They aren’t creating revenue,” Williams says of the managers. “You can’t just cut your way out of a deficit.”

Pontiac is not Schimmel’s first clean-up job. In 2000, he was named the emergency manager of Hamtramck, where he served for six years. In 1986, a judge appointed him to oversee Ecorse’s finances after the city landed in state receivership; he stepped in and privatized city services. Today, the city is back in debt, and back under state management. Schimmel concedes that the privatization strategy can backfire, but he blames inept local government. “If you don’t have an overseer of the contractor, privatization can be much more expensive than in-house services,” he explains.

Schimmel is also a former adjunct scholar and director of municipal finance at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank that shares his enthusiasm for privatizing public services. The center has received funding from the foundations of conservative billionaire Charles Koch, the Walton family, and Dick DeVos, the former CEO of Amway who ran as a Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2006.

So conservatives are not big on respecting the freedom of voters to decide who to represent them and run their government. It also seems there is another monumental hole in what could laughably be called conservative philosophy. In every federal election cycle conservatives try to run on the don’t let them Washington D.C. polticans run your lives – the more local control the better. yet here we have the state executive removing the very local governance the people voted for. Those appointed managers are selling or trying to sell off public property and services. I’m not against privatizing as an ideological issue if someone does a cost-benefit analysis and tax payers do indeed come out ahead both in terms of costs cutting or getting good quality privatized services in return – with the caveat that those private service providers are also responsive to the people. Thus far privatization is not the magic cure all conservative and right-wing libertarians claim – The privatization trap – From schools to prisons, outsourcing government’s works typically ends with cronyism, waste and unaccountability. I know from the daily conservative noise machine that liberals and progressives don’t know nuttin’ bout private enterprise, but lets take a brief look at the general concept. The way many local government services or federal as well, are provided is by hiring employees directly. A very short chain. Employer and employee. Let’s privatize and solve all our problems. Yo have the local government, the new middle-man, the private corporation that provides police or road maintenance and you have the tax payer or customer. In Realityville the second scenario adds another layer of bureaucracy and costs. In addition to making accountability for non-service or bad service more difficult – the people are not voters anymore, they’re just customers with complaints. One way to cut costs in that plan is to pay your employees low wages and no benefits. This has the effect of making what were or almost were middle-class jobs, jobs of the working poor. Conservatives do go on and on about responsibility. Anyone who lived through the Regan or Bush years knows that in practice conservatives and conservative policies are wormholes down which responsibility and accountability disappears.

What’s actually public about these responsibilities disappears from the conversation. Privatization assumes that cost quantifying solutions are more fundamental to government than any discussion of ethics or values. The move away from democratic accountability is particularly worrisome because in many of these fields, the ultimate motivator of private markets, the profit motive, is in direct conflict with the public administration. The basic values, concepts and institutions of liberal democracy — political participation, elections, equal distribution of individual liberties, checks on concentrated power — do not work towards economic competitiveness.

The ideology that the government is just one among many providers of goods and services is a seductive one in this age of markets. But the government isn’t simply just another agent in the market, and firms that are empowered to carry out the role of the state can be as abusive as the worst bureaucracy.

We need new arguments for the government, with all its strengths and weaknesses, to be allowed to do its jobs knowing that it won’t always be perfect. The alternative is government by cronyism, delegated marketplace winners exploiting what works about markets with none of the normal checks we expect on a functioning democracy.


Antique Map of Europe 1596 – The conservative movement cannot survive on its record, its history, its substance. It can only survive on the foundation of the never ending big lie


Antique Map of Europe 1596


That conservatives and conservatism has allied itself with the perpetual lie is not news or even shocking. One interesting justification for the reliance on the big lie is that while many conservative Republicans know they are lying or that their candidates is a unrepentant serial liar, is that there’s is a just cause. Lies told for the cause are noble lies. They’re a small sin that must be used over and over again in order to bring America to the sick twisted deliverance of conservatism. A movement that is antithetical to having a democratic republic. Someone once said that you can chose to be a conservative or a patriot. That is not an insult it is true. Mark Twain once described the kind of “patriotism” in which conservatives believe, “Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood of his hands and works for “the universal brotherhood of man”- with his mouth.” I have no doubt that after more than half a century of wrapping up every dangerous, counter productive, bloody, intolerant, ethnocentric, misogynistic, paranoid thought and public policy in the flag – many rank and file conservative Republican believe they are patriots, in the good sense of the word. Like legends in children’s books, just because children believe them does not make them true. Or put another way, 1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. Conservatism is the unique ability not to put away bizarre beliefs, to put away abject fear, to put away childish views of the world. Conservatism is the refusal to even grow up and deal with the world in adult terms.  Conservatives see nation and government as a role playing game where the aristocracy, the chosen few rightfully rule – thus the unhinged resentment at President Obama’s election and his daring to actually govern the country. It explains the reason that the only good compromise on policy is one where far Right conservatives get everything they want – the aristocracy always feels they have some divine right to have anything and everything their way regardless of how deeply those policies hurt the majority of the people. The USA was founded on liberal political theory. Liberals, progressives and even Republican-lite Democrats can trace their beliefs back to Jefferson, Madison ( the most ardent advocate of the separation of church ad state among the Founders), John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, Voltaire, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, John Keynes and John Stuart Mill among many others. Conservatism or conservative political theory has no real roots in history. Conservatives frequently refer to Edmund Burke as their philosophical guiding light. Burke did speak in favor of democracy for the 13 original colonies, but in general he thought that democracy was not an appropriate form of government. First it was his claim that government should only, could only be governed by the educated elite – a matter of societal position by way of royal titles and thus money in his day, not the common people. He thought that ordinary citizens were consumed by the shifting winds of their passions. Far too unstable to govern. It is true that throughout history that mob mentality has played a role in the general mood and desires of the masses. Burke never considered that a government could have a foundation that guaranteed certain inalienable rights regardless of the shifting winds of public opinion. Burke was consumed by paranoia that cherished traditions and establishment practice of religion might be undermined by popular thought. If those traditions included women, the poor, working class rough necks as to be discriminated against than that was the price paid for maintaining the privileges and status of the nation’s elite.

Thus conservatism standing for nothing or not much, having a twisted view of love of country, a sick take on democracy and utter contempt for any facts or people that might get in their way we have Mitt Romney packing as many falsehoods as possible into this childish and ridiculous editorial, Romney op-ed: Taxpayers should get GM shares’ proceeds

Three years ago, in the midst of an economic crisis, a newly elected President Barack Obama stepped in with a bailout for the auto industry.

This is a well known part of the public record – George W. Bush: Auto bailout was mine!

“I didn’t want there to be 21 percent unemployment,” Bush told the 22,000 attendees. “Sometimes circumstances get in the way of philosophy.”

“I said, ‘No depression.’”

In his memoir he said the move was “the only option” to avert immediate bankruptcy of Chrysler and GM and the loss of a million jobs and $150 billion in tax revenues.

This is the House vote totals on the Detroit rescue, The crucial vote was 263-171, passing by a comfortable bipartisan margin. Most Democrats voted in favor (172 yeas to 63 nays), while a slighter majority of Republicans voted against (91 yeas to 108 nays). The Senate was stalled in voting for the rescue bill so Bush just made it part of the TARP bail-out which Republicans had already voted in favor. As far as facts go, there are conservative finger prints all over that bill. GM and Chrysler are both making profits. Romney say that a bankruptcy would have been the best way to go. If he cared about facts he would know that GM was reorganized under a government guided bankruptcy – i.e. Chap 11. GM came out of bankruptcy and was re-listed on the NYSE on November 18, 2010, setting the record for the largest IPO in US history with a value of $20.1 billion. The U.S. and Canadian governments both held shares – that would be because the government or tax payers should own a stake as collateral in a company to which they have loaned funds. Maybe Romney and Bain gives out unsecured loans all the time. That is generally considered an irresponsible way to do business. In suspect Romney and other conservatives critics of the rescue know that, but once again when the truth does nor serve their agenda it gets blind folded and tossed in a ditch.

GM and Chrysler have largely repaid their loans. Since the bail-out did stop two large employers and hundreds of parts suppliers from going out of business – those keeping thousands of people employed, on net it the Detroit bail-out was the right thing to do. From a study (pdf) that examined the economic and jobs benefits from saving GM and Chrysler,

Supply Chain Shakeout
U.S. automakers cannot make a car or truck without access to an extensive network of more than 1,700 suppliers. While many are very large suppliers (referred to as Tier 1 suppliers in the auto business), there are hundreds of smaller companies that make up the Tier 2 and 3 supplier base.
Together, these suppliers provide the estimated 8,000-12,000 parts that make up to two-thirds of the value of today’s motor vehicles. See Appendix D for a graphic example of the diversity of part manufacturers for a typical 2010 Ford Mustang.

The auto parts industry employs more than 686,000 direct workers, generates $388 billion in
economic activity, and produces more than two-thirds of the value of automobiles.25 About one quarter of the parts makers are in Michigan, over one-third are located in other Great Lakes states, and nearly one-third have production facilities in Southern states, mirroring the shift in auto production to the South as shown on the map in Figure 1.26

*as part of the bail-out the UAW agreed not to strike until 2015 and gave up millions in wage and benefits. Even though Ford did not participate in the loan program they received similar UAW concessions.

part of the conservative faux outrage over Detroit is that it is dishonest and disingenuous. We hear nothing about how Ronald Reagan did not just bail-out the savings and loans industry during the 1980s, he seized ownership of them. Of the two economic events, the Detroit bail-out versus the Reagan’s S&L bail-out, which is closer to being government over reach or socialism. Reagan’s seizure, based on the facts. here we are again. Detroit failed for a combination of reasons that reached a perfect storm. A far Right conservative president bails them out. The next president steps in to try and clean up the mess left by the other guy and the other party whose deregulation fanaticism helped cause the events that lead to the Detroit auto industry problems. Conservatives blame it all on the guy trying to clean up their mess. So much for adult-like acceptance of the consequences for one’s behavior. Nope, conservatives use their disaster as a gudgeon against Democrats. The subject of a recent post here, Republicans undiscover fire

However, just because it’s possible to unearth grizzled examples of ugliness doesn’t mean that the current season is not unique. Uniquely dangerous. And what makes it dangerous is the pretense that we’re still in that fantasyland were ideas arm wrestle for history’s approval. In fact, that time is long past. It’s not even that what’s now coming from the right consists of 100% emotional, fear-based appeals without a factual basis. In 2012, a campaign of suggestive fear-mongering seems almost quaint.

It’s that the Republicans have staked out a position that requires that they lie, 24/7, 365. Not shade the facts their way. Not put their own spin on the situation. Lie. Big, sloppy, and constantly.

The lies go beyond instantly dismissible claims like President Obama being the “food stamp president” (why you have to go back one whole administration to discover that more people joined the food stamp ranks under Bush than Obama, but then the Republicans don’t seem to remember Bush in any case).  The blatant lies extend through every aspect of the Republican platform, such as it is. The simple reason is that the Republicans have no ideas left, at least no ideas that have not been tested and proven to be failures again, and again, and again.

The economy didn’t just crash under a Republican president, it crashed under Republican policies. It crashed with low taxes. It crashed with deregulated markets. It crashed with huge restrictions on union activity. It crashed with massive cuts in environmental regulations. It crashed with lowered trade barriers. It crashed with big fat Pentagon spending.

They got what they wanted. They got CEOs with no limits on their wealth. They got banks with no limits on their “creativity.” They got trade agreements that guaranteed manufacturing could be moved to the dirtiest, cheapest, most desperate source available. They got massive cuts in capital gains taxes and equally large boosts in the wealth they could pass along in estates. They got everything they said would make us all wealthy. They got record oil and gas drilling. They got record giveaways of public land. They got everything they said would create jobs. They got the middle class to shoulder more, more, more of the burden so that those beautiful job creators would be free to work their magic.

They can’t say the economy crashed because taxes went up, because they didn’t. They can’t say that the economy crashed because there was a raft of new regulation, because there wasn’t. They can’t blame it on “union thugs” or Saul Alinsky or the guy who writes Happy Holidays cards at Hallmark. They can’t blame it on a president who was elected when the world was already in free fall. Only, of course they do. They say it because they have no choice. (emphasis mine)

The conservative movement cannot survive on its record, its history, its substance. It can only survive on the foundation of the never ending big lie.

Black and White Glass Chess wallpaper – No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent

Black and White Glass Chess wallpaper


Members Of Congress Benefit From Contraception Coverage, But Seek To Limit Access For Women

Republicans in Congress have gone to war over the administration’s new rule requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to women. Despite the fact that the regulation already excludes more than 335,000 entities, Republicans have introduced legislation seeking to expand the conscience clause protection to exclude even more religiously affiliated institutions from the requirement. The move, which is opposed by women’s groups, would significantly restrict access to affordable birth control by allowing Catholic colleges, universities, or hospitals to deny contraception coverage. As a result, these women would have to spend up to $600 a year buying birth control without the help of insurance.

Tp has this mostly correct, but the weird thing about the contraceptive policy of which the Obama administration is accused of creating an entirely new legal precedent is that is the same policy in place during the Bush administration – which neither Bush or the largely same Congressional Republicans and conservative spokespersons and pundits said nothing about. If you’re a moderate Methodist or Catholic or whatever denomination, or if you’re not particularly religious and work for a Catholic college or hospital, conservatives now claim – along with U.S. bishops, that your civil rights should be suborned to Vatican City doctrine. Furthermore, that the U.S. government should help the Vatican enforce its policy on those employees – the opposite of the religious freedoms conservatives say they stand for.

But interestingly, members of Congress who seek to limit the availability of affordable birth control all enjoy contraception insurance as part of the government managed Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB). Members first approved the so-called “contraception equity” provision in 1998, through the FY 1999 Omnibus Supplemental Appropriations Act, H.R. 4328, PL 105-277, and have passed the measure ever since. The language “ensures that federal employees participating in FEHBP have insurance coverage of FDA-approved prescription contraceptives and related services.”

A ThinkProgress analysis reveals that 12 members of Congress who approved the conference report for the 1999 omnibus bill have signed on as co-sponsors of the current GOP-led measure to limit women’s access to contraception by changing the Obama administration’s rule.

[  ]…An official at the Office of Personnel Management, which administrates the program, has confirmed to ThinkProgress that all FEHB plans provide coverage for contraception, meaning that every single member of Congress opposing Obama’s rule now has the birth control coverage they’re seeking to deny to others.

This goes back to the same arguments conservatives in Congress were making against ObamaCare. Government assisted health insurance is good for them, but should not be allowed for the general public. if memory serves exactly one conservative House – realizing this was true – refused his insurance benefits – at least he said he did.

Conservatives react to women’s right to full spectrum of health care services

Bishops, Republicans Get Served

Like my colleague Scott Lemieux, I was a little worried when the Obama administration announced that it would present a compromise on its recent decision to require full contraceptive coverage from employers, including those with religious affiliations, like Catholic hospitals and schools. It’s not as if the public is opposed to the decision—as I noted yesterday, 55 percent of Americans agree that “employers should be required to provide their employees with health-care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” This includes 58 percent of Catholics and 52 percent of Catholic voters. Anything that moved away from the administration’s prior commitment to full coverage for women would be a capitulation to a small minority of politically charged religious authorities.

As it turns out, the administration was serious about its commitment to women’s health care and refrained from making serious concessions. According to the revised policy, employees will still receive contraceptive coverage at no extra cost, directly provided by the insurance company, instead of the employer. What’s more, it guarantees that employees can receive their contraception without interference from employers or insurers. In other words, this allows Catholic hospitals and other organizations to maintain their distance from birth control, while still providing birth-control coverage for women. Indeed, as Scott points out, Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Hospital Association, announced that she was “very pleased” with the agreement.

Conservatives have latched on to the free part. Again, for people who claim to be thoroughly informed on public policy issues, have suddenly discovered that insurance companies have been providing contraception benefits for years. Insurance companies are capitalistic enterprises so why would they give away contraception (depending on circumstances some insured may have a co-pay – that is my understanding)? Individual circumstances can vary a lot, but on average an uncomplicated pregnancy costs $9,000. A pregnancy with an uncomplicated cesarean section is approximately $15,000. With related costs, that do not have to include the most stylish baby clothes or newest baby related equipment like cribs, strollers – the first year can easily run up to $20,000. A years worth of birth control pills costs an insurance company a lot less than a pregnancy. If you think insurance companies should be able to maximize profits, than birth control is a cheap investment. I’ve read a few right-wing bloggers who are either blissfully ignorant of insurance company practices or intentionally leave out that information – that includes discussions by the talking heads at Fox News. Well, isn’t the costs of that medication passed on to other people who do not use birth control. Sure you can make that case just as you can make the case that any cost incurred by insurance companies are passed on to policy holders. It is a risk pool. We have the philosophical gibberish of insurance theory which states that insurance is the business of transferring risks or partial risks of a person or entity to the insurance company. In this perfect, on paper model, you pay only for the risks that you present. There are statistical problems with that  paper theory. Humans and nature are not predictable. On paper we could start an insurance company that only insures people who do not use oral contraceptives, swear they will not have sex. Let’s assume – stats say otherwise – that these people have a very low pregnancy rate. We charge them for health insurance based on that. That is our risk pool – where our premium payments come from and where our payouts go to. What happens when a percentage of them do get pregnant. We have to pay out of the risk pool that was calculated on them not doing so. Our great and wise plan to make a profit went out the window by only selling insurance to people who told us they would behave one way and behaved another. We could go back to a statically realistic pool of insured. One that includes everyone. This is the insurance risk model based on the real world, not a textbook definition of what insurance is, or should be based on conservative or libertarian perfect markets. Which do not and have never existed. In the real world people who are we really going to get carried away differentiating women that could possibly get pregnant from women who have gone through menopause or from men who cannot get pregnant – or women who swear they will not get pregnant because that is what they believe. Again shifting pools of insured too much is unrealistic. Men have all sorts of issues related to their reproductive and urinary-genital health. That ranges from prostate enlargement to bladder infections to kidney stones to fertility to impotence. Insurance companies that insured only men would end up with an analogous risk pool as an insurance company that only insured women. I’ve read a conservative make the argument that if insurance companies could just be allowed to insure say people who ate healthy and exercised, thus excluding those who did not, the great liberal plot to limit insurance companies profits would finally end. Insurance companies do charge a little more for people known to be at higher risks. That is balanced by the fact that people have unknown  or unpredictable risks. It might be that those in the health conscious pool are also statistically more prone to have oncogenes or hereditary mental heath diseases. Who knows. We could start another insurance pool that only included people least likely to have health problems. A very small pool in the real world – everyone who lives long enough has health issues. Profits would be lowered simply by the size of the new special pool. Spreading out risks over a variety of people still seems the best way to maximize profits. If conservatives who write on the web or shoot off their traps on AM radio really knew anything about how insurance markets work, instead of a definition they read in a dictionary, they’d know that.

Insurance companies can take a hit on insuring the chronically ill. That is an interesting debate – based on balancing profits with the morality of letting the very ill just die. It is a distinctly different subject than contraception related insurance.

Romney won the relatively meaningless CPAC straw poll. Mr Sweater Vest says there is something funny go’in on – Rick Santorum Says Romney Rigged Straw Poll

Liberals and progressives may not say it enough, but they believe that able-bodied adults should work. Take an interests in and pride in their work. Besides the obvious reasons for earning a living there is a lot of personal and moral satisfaction from doing a good job, even if your boss is a jerk. Though being adults and not having the contempt for the reality of human experience that plagues conservatism, we also know that life, despite our best efforts to be independent and not have to rely too much on others, is not fair. While that might not be as high brow as some political theorists put it, it is what liberals and progressives believe. Like the inevitability of health problems, bad luck hits us all. Unless one is fortunate enough to have a big bank account or parents that do ( Romney, the Koch brothers, Rand Paul) we all end up needing help eventually. In the U.S. admitting that simple fact of our assistance is called various things by the far Right – belief in unlimited welfare to communism. Since conservatives are pretty much in control of the national narrative, people still feel stigmatized by the fact that they might need a little help. We Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It

Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

This reminds me of the Matt Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone about the tea baggers – we want all these government programs to stop, except the ones that pay us. Conservatives collect government benefits, but hey they feel bad about it. Or as Jesse Singal points out they are collect them and are completely ignorant that those are part of a program run by the government for the common good,

Last year Cornell political scientist Suzanne Mettler found that many Americans who receive government assistance aren’t aware of that fact — 44.1% of Social Security recipients, for example, said that they don’t receive a government benefit.

Henry Farrell summed up the ramifications of this quite nicely:

Mettler’s basic argument is that because the US welfare state is ‘submerged’ and sliced up among a variety of different programs, many of which operate indirectly rather than directly, it is mostly invisible to US citizens. This has obvious political consequences – ‘government social programs’ are equated to ‘welfare’ and stigmatized. The fact that nearly half of Social Security recipients do not believe that they have benefited from a government social program, and that the same is true of some 40% of G.I. Bill beneficiaries and Medicare recipients is a rather extraordinary one.

Personal anecdotal experience is not a great way to measure public behavior. That said it has been my experience that people are very much in denial about their gov’mint benefits coming from the government. I have a relative who had to have some very expensive medical treatment to save their life. It was all paid for by Medicare and another program related to veterans benefits as is the medication they take til this very day. And yes they complain about people getting government handouts like the ones they received. First, these programs are not handouts. We all pay into them or they are part of our total compensation package during our working lives. That is in fact why they are called entitlements. You paid into them so you are entitled to them. I have no problem at all with Mr. Gulbranson receiving his benefits. What is maddening is that he wants them for himself, but doesn’t think they’re there for everyone. With every vote he and my relative weaken those programs.

One thing the article get terribly wrong is that they ascribe our current fiscal deficit to rising befits, but not revenue. It is a little more complex than that. Raising revenue is a problem – the intransigence of conservative against a lousy 4% tax increase on the wealthy. The other wrinkle in why revenue is down is the economy lost trillions in the financial collapse. Wall Street is back to making historic profits regardless of whether they actually earn that or as one conservative put it – “each is equally free to realize his own potential”. I guess guys in four thousand dollar suits work real hard, while brick layers, janitors, teachers and nurses are not realizing their potential.

So we’ll all just try to rise awareness that we need a safety net because markets like people are not perfect. You can work and save in America for fifty years and have it all wiped out overnight. Conservatives say that in all and every circumstance that is your fault and your problem. John Donne once wrote, “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main..” Despite the obvious reality of that, conservatives believe otherwise and want a public policy based on a dystopian vision of what the United States of America should be.

John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address

On the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, the JFK Presidential Library and Museum, a unit of the National Archives, displays the original documents related to one of the most famous speeches in American history.  Handwritten notes, drafts and JFK’s reading copy of the speech illustrate its evolution.  Museum Curator Stacey Bredhoff walks us through the documents along with excerpts of JFK himself delivering remarks