Black and White Sydney Skyline wallpaper – The Facts and Reason Do Not Support Romney’s Bain Narrative

Black and White Sydney Skyline wallpaper

Sydney Skyline wallpaper

Given their sleazy history, one in which they have to constantly invent new stories, it is to be expected that conservatives would not come up with a counter attack on Romney’s behalf. Thus this ridiculous story from Fortune magazine, Documents: Romney didn’t manage Bain funds. A reporter is being hand fed documents from Mittens’ friends that swear to goodness Mitt did not do any hands on management of Bain after 1999. Despite official documentation the same people who want us to believe what Mitt’s friends say also do not believe that President Obama was born in the U.S. The same Mitt Romney who refused to denounce Donald Trumps birtherism wants us to believe his buddies at Bain. Did Romney sign off on the daily petty cash receipts, order toilet paper for the executive washroom or sign every signal document that passed through Bain? No, probably not, but to pretend that he was as detached from Bain completely is farcical. Mitt Romney’s Own 2002 Testimony Undermines Bain Departure Claim

Mitt Romney’s repeated claim that he played no part in executive decision-making related to Bain Capital after 1999 is false, according to Romney’s own testimony in June 2002, in which he admitted to sitting on the board of the LifeLike Co., a dollmaker that was a Bain investment during the period.

Romney has consistently insisted that he was too busy organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics to take part in Bain business between 1999 and that event. But in the testimony, which was provided to The Huffington Post, Romney noted that he regularly traveled back to Massachusetts. “[T]here were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth,” he said.

Romney’s sworn testimony was given as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor.

Romney testified that he “remained on the board of the Staples Corporation and Marriott International, the LifeLike Corporation” at the time.

Yet in the Aug. 12, 2011, federal disclosure form filed as part of his presidential bid, he said, “Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.”

In an SEC filing by Bain in 2001 ( 3 years after Romney says he had nothing to do with Bain) it says,

As member of the Management Committee of each of BCIP and BCIP Trust, W. Mitt
Romney and Joshua Bekenstein may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power
with respect to the 1,376,377 shares and presently exercisable warrants to
purchase an additional 7,716 shares for a total of 1,384,093 shares or 2.9% of
Outstanding Shares held by BCIP and BCIP Trust.

Fortune might want to stop playing the loyal serfs for Mitt. As these and other SEC documents show Romney was in charge as sole owner of all Bain shares. In the document above he made a decision about how many voting shares there would be and their dispositive power. He also claims the right to purchase more shares. Also at the Fortune link is the Obama campaigns’ reply – good to see they are having some backbone,

After being informed of the Bain Capital documents, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt emailed over the following statement:

“Mitt Romney either misled the American people or misrepresented himself to the SEC.  Romney has said he had no authority or responsibility for managing Bain since 1999, but that has been proven false. Regardless of whether he was on the management committee for this particular deal, he remained  President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board and he was legally responsible for every investment and decision made by Bain.”

It stretches all reasonable doubt to claim that a company engaged in hundreds of millions of dollars in business transaction – for which Romney was legally responsible – was never ever discussed in e-mails, phone, letters or other legal documents. As a matter of fact they were. From a 2001 investigative report, Buyout Profits Keep Flowing to Romney

Though Mr. Romney left Bain in early 1999, he received a share of the corporate buyout and investment profits enjoyed by partners from all Bain deals through February 2009: four global buyout funds and 18 other funds, more than twice as many over all as Mr. Romney had a share of the year he left. He was also given the right to invest his own money alongside his former partners. Because some of the funds and deals covered by Mr. Romney’s agreement will not fully wind down for several years, Mr. Romney is still entitled to a share of some of Bain’s profits.

This is the Romney and conservative noise machine version of events. Romney is sitting at home in 2002 and gets a phone call from Bain. You did what, Mitt asks. You made deals totally without my knowledge in 4 global buyouts funds and 18 others. That is so cool. I am completely surprised, I had no idea. It would be so neat if we made money on those deals, but in the future if Fortune calls remember to tell them I was like so totally out of the loop.

But the family’s Bain holdings are still considerable: in his 2011 disclosure, Mr. Romney reported Bain assets between $12.4 million and $60.9 million, which provided between $1.5 million and $9.3 million in income. The blind trust for his wife, Ann, held at least another $10 million, generating income of at least $4.1 million. Because the campaign is required to provide only a minimum value for some Bain assets now held by Mrs. Romney, the total could be far more.

A spokesman for Bain declined to comment on the specifics of the arrangement, citing confidentiality agreements with Mr. Romney.

In regular households checks in the hundreds of dollars are scrutinized every month. In the Romney household apparently millions of dollars just flows into their accounts and they have no clue what so ever  how the money gets in there. To sum up, Romney says he left Bain in 1999. As the SEC filings show he was listed as owner and only stock holder in the years 1999 to 2002. By default that makes him responsible for what went on at Bain even if he was not involved in the daily minutia. Or if we assume that he somehow was 100% disengaged from any company operations, he cashed checks from Bain for doing nothing to earn them as companies were shuddered and jobs outsourced. The last sentence above seems odd since someone at Bain is how pushing documents on Fortune which would be confidential, right? Here are four companies that folded or downsized in the three year period after Romney claimed to have left Bain Capital:

– GS Industries – 750 Jobs Lost: In a series of ads earlier this year, the Obama campaign hit Romney over Bain Capital’s purchase of GS Industries, a steel company that closed its Kansas City plant and eliminated 750 jobs in February 2001. The Romney campaign responded by claiming that Romney had left Bain Capital well before 2001, and was therefore not tied to the collapse of the GS. Bain Capital and its executives, including Mitt Romney, earned at least $12 million on the initial investment.

– KB Toys – Up to 3,500 Jobs Lost: During the primary season, Newt Gingrich’s 30 minute documentary on Romney and Bain Capital spent a significant amount of time focused on KB Toys, a retail chain bought by Bain in 2000. At the time, the Romney campaign, with an assist from fact-checking groups like PolitiFact, pointed to the calendar. As these new filings show, Romney was still very much at Bain Capital when they purchased KB Toys, and profited mightily when the company took out crippling loans to pay Bain Capital an $83 million dividend.

– Dade International – 1,700 Jobs Lost: Months after Romney claims to have left the company, Bain Capital received a $242 million bounty for its stake in the medical supply company. Romney profited substantially from the deal. In 2002, Dade International filed for bankruptcy, costing more than 1,700 people their jobs. At the time, Romney was the 100 percent owner of Bain Capital, the new documents show.

–DDi Corporation – 275 Jobs Lost: In 1996, the circuit board manufacturer was bought by a group of investors, with Bain Capital in the lead, for more than $40 million. By December 1999, DDi closed a Colorado plant and fired 275 workers. Bain Capital, with Romney still listed as Chairman and CEO, then proceeded to take DDi public, raising $170 million during the company’s IPO in 2000. Over the next few months, Bain began selling off its stock, raising almost $100 million, more than doubling its investment. The stock plummeted shortly thereafter.

Over the next couple of months these are some possibilities – some reporter is going to start digging more into SEC filings and financials transactions with Romney’s signature with Freedom of Information requests. Someone is going to request e-mails for the period 1999 to 2002 – if they are not produced that will be just as damning. Some ex-executive with one of the companies that Bain and Romney slashed and burned for profit will come forward with documentation.

Glenn Kessler of WaPo’s “fact checking” site is sticking with the Romney was clueless story even though it strains any reasonable assessment of Romney’s association with Bain in light of those SEC documents and the financial transaction that directly benefited Romney – One-Hundred-Thirty-Seven Pinocchios for Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, as He Tells Untruths About Mitt Romney. Glenn has dug himself a deep hole and has his back up so it is very unlikely he will publish a correction.

In other conservative versions of reality: Poor people and Fannie May caused the greatest recession since 1929 by intimidating banks into making bad loans. Or the truth being that the banks preyed on ordinary working class Americans, Wells Fargo Will Settle Mortgage Bias Charges

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest home mortgage lender, has agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that its independent brokers discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. If approved by a federal judge, it would be the second-largest residential fair-lending settlement in the department’s history.

An investigation by the department’s civil rights division found that mortgage brokers working with Wells Fargo had charged higher fees and rates to more than 30,000 minority borrowers across the country than they had to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk, according to a complaint filed on Thursday along with the proposed settlement.

Wells Fargo brokers also steered more than 4,000 minority borrowers into costlier subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit risk profiles had received regular loans, a Justice Department complaint found. The deal covers the subprime bubble years of 2004 to 2009.

Just one or two percentage points can mean paying thousands more over the lifetime of the loan.

Is Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) wacko?

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) raised eyebrows last week when he called the IRS “the new Gestapo.” Soon after, he issued a statement saying “the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message,” but in person, the governor didn’t sound especially apologetic.

[  ]….So, in the mind of the governor of Maine, the IRS reminds him of Nazis, then he’s sorry, then he’s comfortable saying the IRS is headed in the “direction” of Nazis and “killing a lot of people.”

It is tempting to say that LePage has just mentally lost it, joining in the ranks of regular fonts of Republican crazy like Allen West (R-FL). There is also the possibility that LePage is fully conscious of what he is saying. That would make him evil rather than crazy.

On this day in history: July 13, 1943: Alexander Schmorell, co-founder of White Rose anti-Nazi resistance group, was executed. 

Blue Trumpet wallpaper – Republicans Find New Definitions To Hide Romney’s Lack of Ethics

jazz, music

Blue Trumpet wallpaper

Bill Moyer was not the least bit hyperbolic when he recently compared the election cycle lies of Republicans to carpet bombing. As November edges closer they’re getting desperate and get used to it, they’re going to stay that way. Conservatives do not see a downside to lying. They told us deregulation would create a stronger banking industry and economy. We got too big to fail banks and a weaker economy. Conservatives blamed it all on low wage workers and Fannie May, while suddenly discovering the debts they ran up for eight years were not going to magically pay for themselves. At no time in that cycle of lies and the following catastrophe did the public really punish them. They lied about a sandbox of a country with 25 million people being a threat to our national security. Fathers, daughters, mothers and sons dies for those lies. A lot of people were pissed, but could bring themselves to believe that all the crap about WMD was about Republicans exploiting fear and patriotism for their political agenda. Making up more lies about Democrats, the economy, immigration, jobs, climate change, education, health care policy and Obama is light work in comparison. For American wordniks the past couple of weeks have been enlightening. We have learned that asking for identification at a Democratic fund-raiser is exactly the same thing as denying someone’s right to vote. “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” – George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3. Now that the public has gotten a sample of Mitt Romney’s values via his ghostly financial shenanigans, the thought police are changing the definition of some other words as well, Proof that the Right is FREAKING OUT over “Swiss Bank Account” attacks

Mitt Romney and his right-wing media allies appear to be going into full-panic mode over the Obama campaign’s increasingly successful efforts to define Romney as a hopelessly out-of-touch multimillionaire.

Obama is leading in swing states where the president’s campaign and pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA have run ads attacking Romney’s record as a corporate predator who put Americans out of work by sucking the life out of their companies and sending their jobs overseas.

[  ]…The substance (for want of a better term) of the Romney counter-slap is his claim that money from the American Recovery Act allegedly went to companies that employed some foreign workers.

In addition to the candidate’s pushback, at least one right-wing media outlet is trying to help Romney deflect criticism of his personal finances, including questions about his unreleased tax returns, and the vast sums of money he is reported to have hidden away in tax havens such as Bermuda and Switzerland.

The Weekly Standard is out with a report that it apparently hopes will expose Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz as a hypocrite for demanding that Romney come clean about his finances.  The website’s scoop: that the DNC chair has some of her own money invested in “Swiss Banks, Foreign Drug Companies, and the State Bank of India:”

But disclosure forms reveal that in 2010, Wasserman Schultz invested between $1,001-$15,000 in a 401k retirement fund run by Davis Financial Fund. As the fund discloses, it is invested in the Julius Baer Group Ltd. and the State Bank of India GDR Ltd., as well as other financial, insurance, bank institutions.

The report does not appear to be a satire. The Weekly Standard is seriously suggesting there is an equivalence between a few thousand dollars in a managed 401k and hundreds of millions of dollars shielded from U.S. taxes in Swiss bank accounts and offshore shell corporations.

This panicked, flailing reaction tells you everything need to know about the narrative Obama is crafting against Romney:  it’s working.

[  ]…Right on cue, the wingnut blogosphere is all, “Yeah, so THERE!!1!”

PJ Tatler:

If overseas investments are “toxic” for Romney, they’re also toxic for the Democrat Party chairman hand-picked for that role by President Barack Obama.

Daily Caller (Jim Treacher):

Overseas investments are bad except when they’re not. And one way to tell they’re okay is when they’re made by Democrats.

Oh, and DWS won’t release her tax returns, either. Again: she’s a Democrat. The same standard doesn’t apply to her. Duh.

Jammie Wearing Fools:

Nothing illegal, mind you, but considering the dogpile on Romney and anything investment or business overseas, the hypocrisy is delicious.

So we’re all citizens of Oceanian now. These conservative geniuses have generally wanted us all to know that when it comes to money and the language of money, they be know’n what they talk’n about. They are the pros from Dover. Mitt Romney is, in this fairy tale, also a financial genius, thus he always knows what he is doing. Correction, Romney knows exactly what he is doing down to the penny. That means that Romney knows he is maliciously and with forethought hiding money in a Swiss bank account and the Cayman Islands. Romney also has a 401k that somehow is worth millions of dollars – perhaps legal, but again shadowy to use a program designed for middle-class retirement funds. In the old dictionary, the one we were all using just a few hours ago, all those hidden foreign accounts was very different from having an investment group handle the specific investments of your 401k. Does everyone reading this know where every dollar of your 401k is invested. Probably not. At the end of the month do you tell your spouse or family that you hide your money in offshore bank accounts or that you put so many dollars into your 401k retirement. Hidden bank accounts versus the people who handle your 401k who have a diversity of investments. Hiding money versus investments. See how simple that is. If they were the same thing we would use the same WORDS to describe them. I’ve never spoken to the investment fund that invests my 401k and told them to hide some in the Caymans. Have the masters of Oceanian suddenly become dumbstruck. Next week they’ll be telling us that cargo ships and trucks are exactly the same thing because they both involve the transport of goods. Use the word truck whenever you would normally use ship and vice versa. Do the masters think America is stupid enough to fall for this latest barrage of crap. Sure they do. Look at what they have gotten away with in the past and never paid for.

ABC news helps spread the new definition of investments and shadowy offshore banking with the help of the National Review Online, the Washington Free Beacon, Free Republic, Lucianne.com, Fire Andrea Mitchell and truth hater Michelle Malkin.

But, as ABC notes (in paragraphs not cited by most of the above linkers), the reference to Bermuda on Jarrett’s disclosure form appears to be utterly innocuous:

“This is a letter of credit disclosed in the liability section of the personal financial disclosure form, meaning it is a potential obligation, not an asset,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said in a statement….

Before the White House replied to us, we spoke to tax experts who said the filing could be completely innocuous. It appears that Jarrett borrowed money from JPMorgan Chase, which has a subsidiary in Bermuda — not unusual for insurance companies that want to lay off some of their risks. It doesn’t mean that Jarrett sought any sort of transaction from Bermuda, but rather that the bank could be using its Bermuda subsidiary on credit forms.

In other words, routine credit card statements can include references to Bermuda simply because insurance companies have subsidiaries there.

So there’s nothing here. But ABC still posted the story, knowing that the M.O. of the right is to distort stories like this in order to bamboozle the rubes.

If conservatives started acting honorably it means hell has indeed finally frozen over.

In addition to some new word definitions conservatives are continuing their dumping down of what being ethical means. Romney avoiding taxes like a modern Al Capone. Hey that cool,  Tax avoidance is not the American way

We still don’t know exactly why Mitt Romney set up a shell corporation in Bermuda, stashed cash in the Caymans, and opened a Swiss bank account. One running theory is that the Republican hoped to avoid paying U.S. taxes through offshore investments in notorious tax havens.

But today one of Romney’s allies stood up for him, arguing that even if Romney was trying to circumvent American tax laws, what’s so bad about that?

Mitt Romney shouldn’t be criticized for using off-shore tax havens because “it’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday. […]

Graham argued that Congress is responsible for tax avoidance because it has crafted such convoluted rules and said he was fine with Romney’s taking advantage of the loopholes.

“As long as it was legal, I’m OK with it,” Graham said. “I don’t blame anybody for using the tax code to their advantage.”

So, let me get this straight. So long as Romney didn’t commit any actual felonies, the American mainstream shouldn’t mind that they had to pay their tax bill, but Romney could use some creative accounting tricks, send his money to the Cayman Islands, and magically lower his own tax bill in ways average folks can’t.

And this is a defense? From one of Romney’s Republican allies?

It is a long-standing American tradition and tired joke, to take advantage of every deduction. Romney has taken that tradition, held it down and force-fed it steroids.

Comically Awful Survey Says 83 Percent Of Doctors Might Quit Over Obamacare

Did you know that American doctors are so incensed over Obamacare’s big-government communist socialism that more than eight in ten are going to quit doctoring? It’s true, according to a terribly conducted survey conducted by a shady right-wing group, reported credulously by the Daily Caller, and hyped by Matt Drudge and Fox News.

[  ]…The Doctor Patient Medical Association’s founder, Kathryn Serkes, is a long-time veteran of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a collection of crackpot malcontents that opposes mandatory vaccinations, wrongly believes undocumented immigrants spread leprosy, and dabbled in Vince Foster conspiracy theorism. The group itself is solidly conservative in its politics: it boasts membership in the National Tea Party Federation; describes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as “Destruction Of Our Medicine,” or DOOM; and published a sheet of talking points about the health law to help grassroots activists “beat back the White House spin machine!”

But what about this improbable survey indicating that more than 3/4 of doctors have considered hanging up the stethoscope rather than tolerate Obamacare? Well, the first thing to point out is that the survey didn’t actually ask about the Affordable Care Act. Here’s the question and the results as given by DPMA:

How do current changes in the medical system affect your desire to practice medicine?

I’m re-energized – 4.6%

Makes me think about quitting – 82.6%

Unsure/no opinion – 12.8%

Fox News and Drudge compete for little red stars from the masters of Oceanian.

Memo to Republicans… Entrepreneurship is Actually Declining Thanks to Policies Like Yours

So why are new, small businesses on the decline? Lynn and Khan look at all the usual suspects cited by others, and find no real explanation: taxes are actually lower than in the past, and regulatory compliance is actually easier; technology is as much boon as bane for small businesses. But one thing really has changed:

The single biggest factor driving down entrepreneurship is precisely the radical concentration of power we have seen not only in the banking industry but throughout the U.S. economy over the last thirty years. This revolutionary remaking of almost every economic activity in the nation was set in motion in 1981, when officials in the Reagan administration all but suspended traditional enforcement of America’s antimonopoly laws, a change in policy then adopted by every subsequent administration. Since then, regulators have done almost nothing to stop the great waves of mergers and acquisitions, with the result that control over most major economic activities is now more consolidated than at any time since the Gilded Age.

This concentration of economic power has not only exposed small businesses to the kind of “roll-up” operations pioneered by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, but has been especially powerful in the financial sector, drying up most sources of small business financing.

The conservative movement – ideological cousins of Giovanni Gentile, love to call everything and everyone who doesn’t drink the kool-aid a socialist. Yet who actually advocates healthy competition, liberals. Who wants to break up the too big to fail banks and who starts screaming at the very notion. Who advocates for monopolies and oligopolies day after day. It sure it not liberals and progressives. There is a name for the unhealthy relationship that conservatives have created between government and corporate America. It is not capitalism.

Marcus Belgrave – Body and Soul

Republicans Are The Ideological Descendants of 17th Century European Aristocracy

Bill Moyers Essay: The Cowardly Lions of ‘Free Speech’

Bill opens this week’s show by explaining how last week’s Supreme Court decision not to reconsider Citizens United exposes the hoax that Citizens United was ever about “free” speech. In reality, Bill says, it’s about carpet bombing elections “with all the tonnage your rich paymasters want to buy.”

 

In case you anyone missed it. Mandate Not the Only Health Tax Republicans Backed

Is the Affordable Care Act really “the largest tax increase in the history of the world,” as Rush Limbaugh so grandiloquently put it? No. It’s not even the largest tax increase in the history of this country.

Or of the past 50 years. Or 20. It’s not even the biggest tax increase scheduled to take effect in the very near future. (That’s the expiration of the George W. Bush tax cuts slated for New Year’s Day.)

Typically, we estimate taxes over 10 years. Contrary to the claims of Republicans such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who says the Affordable Care Act has “six years of benefits with 10 years of tax increases,” most of the law’s tax increases don’t kick in until the latter part of the decade. So a 10-year budget window can be misleading in the case of the Affordable Care Act.

Fortunately, in its 2010 Long-Term Budget Outlook, the Congressional Budget Office resolved this problem, estimating the size of the Affordable Care Act’s tax increase in the year 2020, by which point all the taxes will be fully in effect. So how big is it? One half of one percent of GDP. That’s about the size of Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax increase or George Bush’s 1991 tax increase, and much smaller than Ronald Reagan’s 1982 tax increase.

[  ]….In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain offered a similar plan: He proposed ending the unlimited employer deduction and instead giving every family a $5,000 tax credit and every individual a $2,500 tax credit.

This year, Mitt Romney’s health-care proposal — although it’s so vague it hardly merits the term — gestures toward the same idea: His website says he will “end tax discrimination against the individual purchase of insurance.”

All of these proposals, including the Affordable Care Act’s excise tax, work in fundamentally the same way, by imposing limits on what is now an unlimited deduction for employer- provided health insurance, thereby encouraging employers to offer cheaper health plans and provide more compensation to workers in the form of taxable wages.

So when Republicans call the Affordable Care Act “the largest tax increase in the history of the world,” they’re not only wrongly supersizing the tax, they’re also attacking a reform that they’ve long supported themselves, in somewhat different configurations.

Conservative Republicans lies are not only toxic, but they spread like a virus, hijacking the public discourse. All of those new “centrists” who think they have the answer to what they boil down to mere partisan bickering are either deeply naive or genuinely clueless. We’ll have partisan bickering when Republicans start basing their arguments on facts and show some  good old American sincerity. They switch position like a caveman. Which one gives them the best grip on their club is all that matters.

It does follow a certain chain of depravity that Romney supporters are as loathsome as the pretender they support, Our betters, fretting in the Hamptons

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

This “lady” would be considered a shareholder – someone on the outside collecting the free fall of capital gains income. If the shareholders are making the kinds of gains they were making (which is in fact not the case according to Romney) she might want to attend the occasional board meeting – Bank CEO Pay Grew By 12 Percent Last Year, While Worker Wages Near All-Time Lows. The workers or stakeholders, the people for whom rent and groceries are on the line might not be able to tell their story in the economics language of an Ivy League  professor what is wrong, but they know it is not that the wealthy are not doing well.

 

Retro Telephone wallpaper – Neat Trick, Republicans Have Convinced Many Americans To Vote Against Their Own Interests

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Retro Telephone wallpaper

Green Retro Dial Telephone wallpaper

Crooked Timber notes the significance of Republican Federal Judge Richard Posner, who recently said among other things calls crtics of Chief Justice Roberts “lunatics”. Posner dumps (on) Repubs

Posner is one of a small minority on the intellectual right who have responded to the economic crisis by changing their view of the world, rather than by finding more and more absurd defenses of the indefensible. There must be quite a few others who realise they have backed the wrong  horse, but have chosen to remain quiet rather than making an open break.

Second, the terms of his attack on the US Republican party are scathing by any standards, but particularly for a professor and Federal judge, talking about his own erstwhile allies. His discussion is peppered with terms like “goofy”, “crackpot” and “lunatic”. That’s a pretty fair description of the US right these days, but it’s still not commonly heard on NPR.

The far Right and Democrats both have the occasional internal critic and generally too much is made of it. Oh look one their own says they’re wrong. Certainly to be expected among liberals since they have the larger tent. In the U.S. Senate alone we have super moderates like Harry Reid (D-NV) and progressives like Al Franken(D-Minn), and  an assortment of ideological ranges between them. Posner was one of the ideological leaders. He spoke and conservatives listened. Not like the rank and file that cheer on the Ted Nugent-Sarah Palin just because of some knuckle dragging appeal. Conservatives listened to Posner because he had ideas and some justification for them – at least what passes for ideas in the conservative movement. Regardless of Posner or former Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman who also said he will not be attending the RNC convention or any convention until Republicans start addressing,” problem solving, inclusiveness, and a willingness to address the trust deficit,” there is a deeper issue at stake. While there are not many, there are a sizable minority of Republicans who feel the same way as Posner and Huntsman. Yet they cannot seem to do what would force change in their own party – form alliances with Democrats. It is not because Posner and Huntsman type conservatives cannot find plenty of common ground( Huntsman was an ambassador for the Obama administration) and there is probably little ideological light between say former Obama adviser Larry Summers and Posner. There seems to be some kind of psychological hurdle conservatives – even the few last remaining reasonable ones – that keep them from pushing for, including voting for Democrats and more moderate policies. There is some version of horse track psychology at work. They have always bet on the jockey with the red silks and always will regardless of how much pain they cause themselves. Now Posner and Huntsman are going to be fine in terms of their personal economics regardless, but it is amazing that so many median income conservatives have been convinced that billionaires, big multinational corporations and shadowy PACs have their best interests in mind. The half of the USA at the median income level and below are losing ground – have been for thirty years – even though Clinton slowed down the pace a bit. Some of them watch Fox News and read the right of center media and really believes the birther secret socialist nonsense. Others are willing to shoot themselves in the foot over single issues like abortion – why someone would sabotage their lives and their families by an obsession with what goes on in the uteruses of women they don’t even know has always impressed me as deeply strange. Still others see conservative leaders and pundits wrap insidious public policy in the flag and they actually buy that chicanery as patriotic. No wonder conservatives fight against education and for indoctrination at private “schools”. One of the biggest threats to right-wingerism is an informed and educated public.

Fanaticism is putting the agenda of conservatism before the best interests of the country, 5 Ways Republicans Have Sabotaged Job Growth

1. Filibustering the American Jobs Act. Last October, Senate Republicans killed a jobs bill proposed by President Obama that would have pumped $447 billion into the economy. Multiple economic analysts predicted the bill would add around two million jobs and hailed it as defense against a double-dip recession. The Congressional Budget Office also scored it as a net deficit reducer over ten years, and the American public supported the bill.

2. Stonewalling monetary stimulus. The Federal Reserve can do enormous good for a depressed economy through more aggressive monetary stimulus, and by tolerating a temporarily higher level of inflation. But with everything from Ron Paul’s anti-inflationary crusade to Rick Perry threatening to lynch Chairman Ben Bernanke, Republicans have browbeaten the Fed into not going down this path. Most damagingly, the GOP repeatedly held up President Obama’s nominations to the Federal Reserve Board during the critical months of the recession, leaving the board without the institutional clout it needed to help the economy.

3. Threatening a debt default. Even though the country didn’t actually hit its debt ceiling last summer, the Republican threat to default on the United States’ outstanding obligations was sufficient to spook financial markets and do real damage to the economy.

4. Cutting discretionary spending in the debt ceiling deal. The deal the GOP extracted as the price for avoiding default imposed around $900 billion in cuts over ten years. It included $30.5 billion in discretionary cuts in 2012 alone, costing the country 0.3 percent in economic growth and 323,000 jobs, according to estimates from the Economic Policy Institute. Starting in 2013, the deal will trigger another $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years.

5. Cutting discretionary spending in the budget deal. While not as cataclysmic as the debt ceiling brinksmanship, Republicans also threatened a shutdown of the government in early 2011 if cuts were not made to that year’s budget. The deal they struck with the White House cut $38 billion from food stamps, health, education, law enforcement, and low-income programs among others, while sparing defense almost entirely.

None of this – NONE – was because of honest concerns about deficit spending. We know that because Republicans voted for the Paul Ryan (R-WI) budget twice and that budget actually increased the deficit.

Via here this is Mittens saying that he inherited a bad economy as governor – from his Republican predecessor by the way, Gov. Romney on Poor Job Growth in Massachusetts: ‘To Suggest That Somehow the Day I Got Elected, Jobs Should Have Immediately Turned Around, Well, That Would Be Silly’

[When] Romney himself was running a government, in his case the state of Massachusetts, he was even more defensive about his lack of control of the employment picture than Obama is today. A new video unearthed by the liberal research group American Bridge shows Romney at a press conference in June 2006 admonishing reporters on disappointing jobs data. “You guys are bright enough to look at the numbers. I came in and the jobs had been just falling right off a cliff, I came in and they kept falling for 11 months,” he explains.

“And if you are going to suggest to me that somehow the day I got elected, somehow jobs should have immediately turned around, well that would be silly. It takes awhile to get things turned around. We were in a recession, we were losing jobs every month,” he added.

Krugman on Romney and the daily delusions of a guy so out of touch he could be calling in his campaign from Mars, Off and Out With Mitt Romney

Consider one of Mr. Romney’s most famous remarks: “Corporations are people, my friend.” When the audience jeered, he elaborated: “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People’s pockets.” This is undoubtedly true, once you take into account the pockets of, say, partners at Bain Capital (who, I hasten to add, are, indeed, people). But one of the main points of outsourcing is to ensure that as little as possible of what corporations earn goes into the pockets of the people who actually work for those corporations.

Why, for example, do many large companies now outsource cleaning and security to outside contractors? Surely the answer is, in large part, that outside contractors can hire cheap labor that isn’t represented by the union and can’t participate in the company health and retirement plans. And, sure enough, recent academic research finds that outsourced janitors and guards receive substantially lower wages and worse benefits than their in-house counterparts.

Just to be clear, outsourcing is only one source of the huge disconnect between a tiny elite and ordinary American workers, a disconnect that has been growing for more than 30 years. And Bain, in turn, was only one player in the growth of outsourcing. So Mitt Romney didn’t personally, single-handedly, destroy the middle-class society we used to have. He was, however, an enthusiastic and very well remunerated participant in the process of destruction; if Bain got involved with your company, one way or another, the odds were pretty good that even if your job survived you ended up with lower pay and diminished benefits.

There are many tools of a healthy economy which have been perverted by conservatism and triangulating Democrats that have gone along. One is the corporation. Say someone invents a machine for removing seeds from cotton. They could make one a month, sell it, than make another one. Or they could sell stock, rise capital, build a factory and make a lot of cotton gins. The inventor makes money, the cotton farmer makes more money, suppliers for bolts and wood make money, employees make money, shareholders make some money on their investment. Now we have corporations that take over other corporations – outsource, lay off people, cut salaries, charge exorbitant consultant fees ( like Bain did) or they just put on a fresh coat of paint, make a few changes that look good and sell off the new stripped down carcass for a profit. Little to no  innovation, morality, ethics or invention is required. It is the exploitation of a system. This is what conservatives think capitalism is. They’re doing more to damage the reputation of capitalism than all the imaginary socialists they see could ever do.

Mitt Romney and jobs

 

Voter fraud rampant? You’re more likely to report a UFO

People are 3,615 times more likely to report a UFO sighting than they are to commit in-person voter impersonation, according to national data.

The striking statistic has surfaced at the same time as the news that a new voter ID law in Pennsylvania could render nearly 10 percent of the state’s residents ineligible to vote in the presidential election this fall.

A quote from the Philly link,

House Republican leader Mike Turzai acknowledged the law’s political implications at a Republican State Committee meeting last month.

Voter ID – which is going to allow Gov. Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania – done,” Turzai told the crowd, which burst into applause, as he listed legislative accomplishments under GOP control.

Like convincing some working class Americans to vote against their own rational self interests based on obsessive cultural issues, voter ID laws are about disempowering average Americans. The more control the financial elite like Romney have, the more America looks like a conservative plutocratic fantasy come true.

 

Retro City Skyline wallpaper – What Republicans Consider Freedom, Normal Americans See As Tyranny

Retro City Skyline wallpaper

 

Why Are Conservatives Criminalizing Pregnant Women.

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death – they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

[   ]….Amanda Kimbrough is one of the women who have been ensnared as a result of the law being applied in a wholly different way. During her pregnancy her fetus was diagnosed with possible Down’s syndrome and doctors suggested she consider a termination, which Kimbrough declined as she is not in favour of abortion.

The baby was delivered by caesarean section prematurely in April 2008 and died 19 minutes after birth.

Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with “chemical endangerment” of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.

There have been amicus briefs filed on behalf of some of the women (In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law) explaining the obvious. If the state is going to prosecute drug addicts for continuing their pregnancies – that might end in a miscarriage or early infant death – just like pregnancies of non-addicts, it gives those young women an incentive to determinate their pregnancies earlier. So here we are the day after Independence Day – on which I spent a little time reading the same tiresome historical revisionism of conservative Republican zealots ( a sampling here) babbling on about freedom. Conservatives have some strange ideas about freedom. Some samples from just the last few days: In Letter, Texas Department of Health Accused by Ten Democratic Legislators of Subverting Democratic Process. Republicans legislators could not pass a bill so they are enacting a law via rules. Mitt Romney thinks freedom is hiding money in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. Fox News, which most people know is just a puppet for the radical Right thinks freedom is hiding the fact that its expert and impartial spokes-people are conservative fanatics. If the cause of conservatism is so virtuous why hide opinions behind fake news. A conservative Republican running for Congress (Chris Collins of Buffalo, N.Y) thinks freedom is telling the residents of New York that no one dies from breast or prostate cancer anymore – so we don’t need Obamacare. Fox’s Brit Hume thinks freedom is scaring seniors and the disabled with fake stories about cuts in Medicare. Republicans think freedom is fighting to keep the same deregulated casino style economy in place for Wall Street and banks so that we’re practically guaranteed another in a series of financial disasters. It was conservatives on the SCOTUS that decided to make elections – always corrupted by moneyed interests, up for sale for by a few dozen billionaires. Sen Scott Brown (R-MA) thinks freedom is stopping preventative care for seniors that would save lives and money. Rep. Joe Walsh(R-IL) thinks freedom is trashing an Iraq veteran’s service. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)  thinks freedom is calling the SCOTS and Obama names because of the mandate – even though he voted for a health care mandate in 1993. Conservative Republican governors think freedom is denying health care for millions of low-income Americans is freedom. In other words, America can only be free when you cannot afford health care. America can only be free when the poor, who deserve to die because they’re lazy, are dropping dead in the street and we’re giving no bid contracts to the corpse disposal units. American can only be free when billionaires no longer have to buy elections, they can just freely appoint whoever they want – so that America becomes the 16th century French monarchy of conservative wet dreams.

Founding fathers quotes you probably haven’t heard

James Madison:

There is an evil which ought to be guarded against in the indefinite accumulation of property from the capacity of holding it in perpetuity by … corporations. The power of all corporations ought to be limited in this respect. The growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.”

Most Americans do not mind some inequality – people like Romney making vast sums of money off the capital created by people who do actual work. Though in return most Americans want the privileged to live up to the social contract. To pay their share of the costs of infrastructure and institutions like community colleges so that we can have some of that upward mobility of legend. Digby had this piece from Benjamin Franklin as well,

Benjamin Franklin to Robert Morris
25 Dec. 1783 Writings 9:138

The Remissness of our People in Paying Taxes is highly blameable; the Unwillingness to pay them is still more so. I see, in some Resolutions of Town Meetings, a Remonstrance against giving Congress a Power to take, as they call it, the People’s Money out of their Pockets, tho’ only to pay the Interest and Principal of Debts duly contracted. They seem to mistake the Point. Money, justly due from the People, is their Creditors’ Money, and no longer the Money of the People, who, if they withold it, should be compell’d to pay by some Law.

All Property, indeed, except the Savage’s temporary Cabin, his Bow, his Matchcoat, and other little Acquisitions, absolutely necessary for his Subsistence, seems to me to be the Creature of public Convention. Hence the Public has the Right of Regulating Descents, and all other Conveyances of Property, and even of limiting the Quantity and the Uses of it. All the Property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other Laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.

Maybe Elizabeth Warren is descended from Ben Franklin. Everyone has the right to the rewards of their labors. Though people like hedge fund managers or Sheldon Adelson can hardly be said to have labored – but no one makes that money in a vacuum. I still cannot get over the fact that Romney and Bain benefited not just from the infrastructure built by workers, but millions in government subsidies.

The Public Perception of the ACA, Romney’s Shadowy Finances and The New Gilded Age

Complaint by Some Members of the Dutch Reformed Church

In 1664, the Dutch colony of New Netherland ceased to exist when Governor Peter Stuyvesant was forced to surrender New Amsterdam–soon to be renamed New York–to an English fleet. Many residents of what became the British colonies of New York and New Jersey continued to speak Dutch and to worship in churches where services were conducted in Dutch. This pamphlet, published in New York in 1725, concerns a dispute within a Dutch Reformed congregation in Raritan, “in the Province of New Jersey, in North America, under the Crown of Great Britain,” involving the minister, Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen, and members of his congregation. Born in the Netherlands in 1691, Frelinghuysen studied theology and was ordained a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church at the age of 26. In 1720, he immigrated to New Jersey to establish a church for the Dutch settlements along the Raritan River in Somerset and Middlesex counties, New Jersey. Many of his sermons were published both in the original Dutch and in English translations.

Like so much of early American history conservatives like to paint what would become the U.S.A. in very simplistic terms, i.e. we were a Christian nation. We were a pluralistic nation frequently divided up into enclaves based on the beliefs of small groups of people. And of course native Americans practiced their religions.

Lou Gehrig in Tears After Ovation

The original caption reads;  7/4/39-New York:  Lou Gehrig, the “Iron Horse” of baseball, who was forced to the bency by amyotrophic lateral scherosis after playing 2,130 consecutive games, is touched by fans demonstration as he is acclaimed in a manner unrivaled in baseball history.  Upwards of 75,000 jammed Yankee Stadium to honor Lou.  He is shown here–handkerchief to his face, deeply moved by the ovation they gave him. July 4, 1939. Gehrig’s uniform number 4 was retired. The first time that honor ws ever bestowed on a major league player. In the movie The Pride of the Yankees, Lou was played by Gary Cooper. Contrary to the real speech in the photo, in the movie Cooper appeared alone when he made the now famous goodbye speech,” Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.”

Cockpit of DC 6 with U.S. flag

The Douglas DC-6 was originally designed for military transport duties from 1946 to 1958. It went through some retrofitting to compete in the commercial air carrier markets. Many are still in use today. Several are in use as freighters or fire fighting waterbombers in Canada.

They have surrogates trying to backpedal as I write this, but Mitt Romney sided with President Obama in claiming that the ACA mandate was not a new tax. Call it anything you like, Romney and his opponent say it is not a tax. It may end up looking like a payroll tax listed like Medicare or Social Security on paycheck stubs for those very few people who have a job, but do not get some kind of basic insurance from one of the insurance exchanges on their own. The mouth breathers are terribly upset and claim that if Romney does not start calling it a tax he might as well pack up and go home. They underestimate the public. If the public perceives they are getting value from a specific tax – like Medicare that either helps them or helps their parents, they support it. The Taxmegedgon language does not work all the time in all circumstances. Though it is fun to watch conservatives freak out at losing what they perceive as some kind of tactical advantage. Another plus the far Right thought they could wring out the SCOTUS decision was the ability to rally the base to repeal Obamacare. The country ain’t in no mood for another season of unhinged demagoguery: Polling shows Republicans fighting a losing battle on ACA repeal 

But perhaps the most problematic polling number for Republicans is this:

This poll fielded following the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the heart of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) finds a majority of Americans (56 percent) now say they would like to see the law’s detractors stop their efforts to block its implementation and move on to other national problems…

Solid majorities of voters of every political stripe say the decision won’t impact whether or not they vote this November – though Republicans are more likely than Democrats (31 percent compared to 18 percent) to say the result makes them more likely to turn out.

The economy and jobs are top of mind for voters this election, not the intricacies of healthcare law. But the Republicans have spent so much time inflaming their base by painting the Affordable Care Act as a Communist takeover, that they don’t have much choice but to make full repeal of the law a rallying cry through November. The more they talk about it, the more voters will see Republicans as unfocused on their principal concerns.

As a policy matter, the fight will really be over implementation of Medicaid expansion. But as a political matter, that too is a losing battle for Republicans. Bright red states where Romney is already assured of victory won’t have any problem with letting poor people die due to lack of access to healthcare, but that won’t fly well with more morally sane parts of the country where the election will be decided.

When you ask people if they would like to see the ACA repealed the split is about even. If you ask people about repealing individual provisions – like letting the kids stay on your policy until they’re 26, or repealing the preexisting conditions protections, people support those provisions. So chalk a partial win for the Republican noise machine in demonizing Obamacare, but they lose in the end on what the new reforms actually mean to American families. Back in the 1960s the initial passage of Medicare had similar divided support. Now it is one of those things that most Americans agree is a good program and an example of one of the things government can do well.

One could easily imagine the shrill cries of outrage if president Obama has a tax sheltering bank account in the Cayman Islands. An extensive investigative report from VF,  Where the Money Lives

The firm today has at least 138 funds organized in the Cayman Islands, and Romney himself has personal interests in at least 12, worth as much as $30 million, hidden behind controversial confidentiality disclaimers. Again, the Romney campaign insists he saves no tax by using them, but there is no way to check this.

[  ]…The media soon noticed Romney’s familiarity with foreign tax havens. A $3 million Swiss bank account appeared in the 2010 returns, then winked out of existence in 2011 after the trustee closed it, as if to remind us of George Romney’s warning that one or two tax returns can provide a misleading picture. Ed Kleinbard, a professor of tax law at the University of Southern California, says the Swiss account “has political but not tax-policy resonance,” since it—like many other Romney investments—constituted a bet against the U.S. dollar, an odd thing for a presidential candidate to do. The Obama campaign provided a helpful world map pointing to the tax havens Bermuda, Luxembourg, and the Cayman Islands, where Romney and his family have assets, each with the tagline “Value: not disclosed in tax returns.”

[  ]…Likewise, the Romneys were reported to have invested at least $1 million in Elliott Associates, L.P., a hedge fund specializing in “distressed assets.” Elliott buys up cheap debt, often at cents on the dollar, from lenders to deeply troubled nations such as Congo-Brazzaville, then attacks the debtor states with lawsuits to squeeze maximum repayment. Elliott is run by the secretive hedge-fund billionaire and G.O.P. super-donor Paul Singer, whom Fortune recently dubbed Mitt Romney’s “Hedge Fund Kingmaker.” (Singer has given $1 million to Romney’s super-pac Restore Our Future.)

[  ]….Many Americans might react with a shrug to the idea of shady foreign money such as Robert Maxwell’s being invested here. But, says Rebecca Wilkins, of the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Citizens for Tax Justice, “It is shocking that a presidential candidate should think that is O.K.”

Some of this financial wrangling may be legal – and that is giving Mittens a very large benefit of a doubt, but is it ethical.

It’s time for the Wacky shenanigans of the Allen West(R-FL) Show

There seems to be a bit of pattern to how Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) conducts himself. Periodically, the unhinged Republican lawmaker will say something ridiculous, which is soon followed by a period in which West revels in the attention. Then he’ll send out a fundraising letter celebrating his notoriety, before enjoying a little quiet time.

West will, invariably, then start the cycle over again.

It’s been a while since the Floridian’s latest outburst, so I suppose we were due for garbage like this.

The Republican congressman was speaking an event in his district, where West explained his deranged perspective on President Obama: “He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning, and having that title of American. He’d rather you be his slave.”

It’s worth noting that (a) President Obama is not trying to enslave the population; and (b) as Maddow Blog has noted before, Allen West is a little too fond of slave metaphors.

Like many media spectacles the Deranged West Show is long on hyperbole, tired exaggerations and lots of sleaze. West is currently on the public’s payroll. We support him and his family via his Congressional salary. he also has kindly given his military retirement benefits before being thrown out of the military for acting like a sadistic coward in a combat zone. If anyone or any movement is trying to turn America into the new Confederacy with a plantation style economy it is West and his comrades, 8 Ways America’s Headed Back to the Robber-Baron Era

1. Unregulated Corporate Capitalism Creates Economic Collapse

In the late 19th century, corrupt railroad capitalists created the Panic of 1873 and Panic of 1893 through lying about their business activities, buying off politicians and siphoning off capital into their own pockets. Railroad corporations set up phony corporations that allowed them to embezzle money from the railroad into their bank accounts. When exposed, the entire economy collapsed as banks failed around the country. The Panic of 1893 lasted five years, created 25% unemployment, and was the worst economic crisis in American history before the Great Depression.

In the early 21st century, the poorly regulated financial industry plunged the nation into the longest economic downturn since the Depression. Like in the Gilded Age, none of the culprits have served a day in prison.

2. Union Busting

In the Gilded Age, business used the power of the state to crush labor unions. President Hayes called in the Army to break the Great Railroad Strike of 1877; President Cleveland did the same against the Pullman strikers in 1894.

Today’s corporations don’t have to use such blunt force to destroy unions, but like in the past, they convince the government to do their bidding. Whether it is holding up FAA renewal in order to make it harder for airline employees to unionize, Republican members of the National Labor Relations Board leaking material on cases to Republican insiders, or governors Scott Walker and John Kasich seeking to bust their states’ public sector unions, not since before the Great Depression has the government attacked unions with such force.

3. Income Inequality

Today, we have the highest levels of income inequality since the 1920s and the gap is widening to late 19th century levels with great speed. In those days, individuals like John D. Rockefeller had more money than the federal government, while the majority of Americans lived in squalor, poverty and disease.

In the Progressive Era, we started creating laws like the federal income tax, child labor laws and workers’ compensation to begin giving workers a fair share of the pie. For decades, labor fought to increase their share and by the 1970s, had turned much of the working class into the middle class. Today, that middle class is under attack by a new generation of plutocrats who wish to recreate the massive fortunes of the Gilded Age.

4. Open Purchase of Elections

In 1890, copper magnate William Clark paid Montana lawmakers $140,000 to elect him to the U.S. Senate. While most plutocrats did not share Clark’s interest in being politicians, they ensured their lackeys would serve in office, often by offering corporate stock to politicians. Disgusted by this corruption, America in the Progressive Era of the early 20th century created a number of reforms, including the 17th Amendment that created direct elections of senators, as well as a 1912 Montana state law limiting corporate expenditures in politics.

Beginning with the Citizens United decision and continuing with the recent overturning of that 1912 law, the Supreme Court has allowed corporations and wealthy plutocrats to buy elections openly once again.

5. Supreme Court Partisanship

In the Gilded Age, the Supreme Court interpreted laws not as to the intent of the lawmakers, but to promote business interests. It refused to enforce the 14th Amendment to stop segregation, but it did create the idea that a corporation was a person with rights. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 was intended to moderate monopolies; the Supreme Court only enforced it against unions since organized labor “unfairly restrained trade.”

Today’s Supreme Court has resorted to this aggressively partisan stance. The Court is fine with the open flouting of the 4th Amendment, allowing strip searches of middle-school girls if they’re suspected to be carrying drugs, but creates a grotesque expansion of the 14th Amendment in the Citizens United decision. Meanwhile, Antonin Scalia just took the opportunity in a Supreme Court dissent to lambast his colleagues for striking down much of the Arizona anti-immigration law by approvingly citing 19th-century laws in the South that limited the movement of African Americans.

If Rep. West is capable of making a cogent argument with clear evidence that supports his bizarre remarks I have never heard them. Until he does he is just another conservative Republican flame thrower. One for whom it seems impossible to tap down the insanity long enough to provide actual evidence of his accusations. We can all be thankful he is not a judge trying criminal cases. Murderers would go free, innocent people convicted and the justice system turned into a circus. I would ask the people of Florida’s 22nd district to do one thing. To force West to undergo and make public a psychiatric examination before anyone votes for him again.

The black helicopters are coming, the black helicopters are coming – Limbaugh Falsely Claims IRS Is Hiring “16,000 New Agents” To Implement Health Care Reform . They’re also going to spray your entire family with fluoride and contaminate their precious bodily fluids.

Why Does Scott Brown (R-MA) Hate Retired Americans?

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have announced that over 14 million American seniors are getting special treatment under the affordable health care law, otherwise known as Obamacare. This special treatment is in the form of preventive benefits under Medicare.

The section of the law that I am referring to allows the elderly to receive an annual checkup, without paying a co-pay or deductible along with other preventive services, like cancer screening and mammograms. This all without an out-of-pocket cost to our senior citizens.

“These free preventive services are helping people in Medicare stay healthy and lower their health care costs,” acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement.

So before Sen. Scott Brown sides with the radical right and votes to repeal this law, perhaps Brown should read the bill also. By Brown voting to repeal, this benefit along with many others, like closing of the doughnut hole, will be ultimately detrimental to our elderly.

Preventive care holds down costs. Yet another example of Republicans taking positions on public policy based on the obscure ideological goals of conservatism rather than what is best for America.

Lemon Tea Splash wallpaper – Both Statistics and Humanity Have a Liberal Bias

summer, splash

Lemon Tea Splash wallpaper. The official beverage of the South.

 

I tend to like my statistics. For some reason they seem to have a liberal bias. Republicans have developed some systematic denials when to comes to facts and statistics. Some of that requires some mental tin-foil. If the facts are not in their favor they argue some supposedly grand principle – that is not what the Founders would do. Few Americans would return to the so-called “original intent”. Most of what we think of as democratic republic – the egalitarian spirit and most the freedoms we cherish would disappear. If the original intent, or their interpretation of it does not work, they also argue from studies they pay for that reach conclusions they like. Conservatives are also adept at taking anecdotal evidence, sometimes hearsay or just something someone told them once and turning that into justification for their stands on public policy that affect millions of Americans. Conservatives have ruined or are trying to ruin the real life narrative. One big example, going on four years now, individual Republicans swear their gun rights are threatened even as gun sales have been a boom industry. I can leave the house now and be back in forty-five minutes with enough guns and ammo for a small army. There are some real stories of real people suffering real hardship. Like statistics and facts, the real stories, the real anecdotes of hardship caused by conservatives are true. Something Wicked This Way Comes

A few days ago, while awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama health-care law, I called a few doctor friends around the country. I asked them if they could tell me about current patients whose health had been affected by a lack of insurance.

“This falls under the ‘too numerous to count’ section,” a New Jersey internist said. A vascular surgeon in Indianapolis told me about a man in his fifties who’d had a large abdominal aortic aneurysm. Doctors knew for months that it was in danger of rupturing, but, since he wasn’t insured, his local private hospital wouldn’t fix it. Finally, it indeed began to rupture. Rupture is an often fatal development, but the man—in pain, with the blood flow to his legs gone— made it to an emergency room. Then the hospital put him in an ambulance to Indiana University, arguing the patient’s condition was “too complex.” My friend got him through, but he’s very lucky to be alive.

Another friend, an oncologist in Marietta, Ohio, told me about three women in their forties and fifties he was treating for advanced cervical cancer. A pap smear would have caught their cancers far sooner. But since they didn’t have insurance, their cancers were only recognized when they caused profuse bleeding. Now they required radiation and chemotherapy if they were to have a chance of surviving.

A colleague practicing family medicine in Las Vegas told me about his clinic’s cleaning lady, who came to him in desperation about her uninsured husband. He had a painful rectal fistula—a chronically draining infection. Surgery could cure the condition, but hospitals required him to pay for the procedure in advance, and, as unskilled laborers, the couple didn’t remotely have the money. He’d lived in misery for nine months so far. The couple had nowhere to turn. Neither did the doctor.

The litany of misery was as terrible as it was routine. An internist in my Ohio home town put me on the phone with an uninsured fifty-five-year-old tanning-salon owner who’d had a heart attack. She was now unable to pay the bills either for the cardiac stent that saved her or for the medications that she needs to prevent a second heart attack. Outside Philadelphia, there was a home-care nurse who’d lost her job when she developed partial paralysis as a result of a rare autoimmune complication from the flu shot that her employers required her to get. Then she lost the insurance that paid for the medications that had been reversing the condition.

Tens of millions of Americans don’t have access to basic care for prevention and treatment of illness. For decades, there’s been wide support for universal health care. Finally, with the passage of Obamacare, two years ago, we did something about it.

All of the people mentioned in this article would be helped by the Obama/Democrat expansion of Medicaid – part of the Affordable Care Act. Many Republican governors and legislators are already against it. Like the occasional conservative arguments their objections have a slight tint of truth. They claim that if they accept a few years down the road the states will be on the hook for that 10% gap – requiring budget cuts in education. The obvious problem with that excuse is provided by two conservative governors – Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida. In the middle of a recession they cut back public sector jobs – claiming they could not afford them. But both governors passed huge corporate tax breaks – when corporate profits are as strong as ever. They could just increase corporate state taxes to something reasonable – between tax breaks and subsides many corporations do not pay any taxes. Another consequence of rejecting the Medicaid expansion is that charity hospitals and any hospital that takes poor and uninsured in emergencies will be stuck with the bill. Someone – usually everyone who has insurance – is left with the tab. Ever heard of a game called Three-card Monte or three-card carney. It’s been shown in a lot of movies and TV shows. It’s a kind of confidence game in where the mark, is tricked into betting a sum of money, on the assumption that they can find the money card among three face-down playing cards. Republicans do that with money and costs. They always seem to find the money to justify more tax cuts, tax incentives and other giveaways ( corporate welfare). Yet a cleaning lady and her husband, nope, no help for the working poor. How come we have working poor anyway, isn’t our free market system perfect. A system where anyone that works can provide for their essential needs. Apparently it’s not perfect. Until it is maybe its time for less obsequious behavior towards the well off and a little for humanity for the struggling. Related to the games Republicans are playing with the poor and Medicaid – 89,000 Children in Pennsylvania Lose Medicaid.

Another conservative trope is that the U.S. provides such a luxurious safety net it encourages people not to work. The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America’s Middle Class, They had good, stable jobs – until the recession hit. Now they’re living out of their cars in parking lots.

The next thing welfare applicants must do is disclose every possession and conceivable source of income they have. “I can’t tell you how many people come to my office and say, ‘I couldn’t get food stamps because my car is worth too much,'” Kapp tells me. “OK, you have a car. But you’ve lost everything – your house, your job, your pride – and all you have left is that car and all of your belongings in it. And they say, ‘You still have too much. Lose it all.’ You have to have nothing, when you already have nothing.”

Janis Adkins hadn’t been back in Santa Barbara long before she needed to apply for government assistance. She had never asked for aid before. At the California Department of Social Services, she filled out the form for emergency food stamps.

“I didn’t wear my best clothes, but I wore a light blouse and jeans, and I guess I was just a little too dressed up,” she recalls. “Because the woman just looked at me and said, ‘Are you in a crisis? Your application says you’re in a crisis.’ I said, ‘I’m living in a van and I don’t have a job. I have a little bit of money, but it’s going to go fast.’ The woman said, ‘You have $500. You’re not in a crisis if you have $500.’ She said anything more than $50 was too much.”

It is a shame that we cannot force all the conservative Republicans who think they have all the answers  – the right-wing pundits, the conservative bloggers and their commenters, Republican politicians and members of the wing-nut welfare circuit like Sarah Palin and Victor Davis Hanson to trade places with some of the people in that investigative piece for a couple of months. WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. recently wrote a column asking the heck happened to the average Republican’s sense of community and responsibility. I wonder if they have completely lost the ability to empathize with others. It seems they cannot honestly evaluate events outside their own experience and worse than that is they cannot honestly evaluate themselves and their lives. Every Republican I know has not gotten through life without some bad luck and some help. Yet most of them still have this distorted view of themselves as totally self-contained and self-sufficient cyborgs. One of the reason that facts, statistics and real life narratives do not get through to them is not because of politics it is because of something fundamental flaw in how they’re wired makes them incapable of connecting with humanity.

John Roberts Fails to Dictate Another Presidential Outcome, John Yoo Cries. Yoo is a poster child for Republican cognitive dissonance and their lack of humility. having never been right about anything. feeling that the torture policies of the Bush administration did not pose a threat to any of our captured troops. Yoo the great legal scholar who say there is no difference between the powers of a Medieval king and those of the President – which conservatives were fine with until Obama became president keeps trying to convince the public he is not a total loon. Of course Yoo and all the conservative bloggers linking to him believe that the SCOTUS ruling in favor of the ACA makes us, according to one blogger, “We are now subjects, no longer citizens.” These same legal experts and now claim to live in a totalitarian state of Health Care Reform had no objections with the SCOTUS selecting Bush to be president in 2000, making it legal for billionaires to buy elections or doing away with habeas corpus.  The CIA FactBook still lists Canada and Great Britain as liberal democracies and they both have public health care systems. I have yet to see any protesters in those countries asking the government to take their health care away so they can be “free”.

John Coltrane – Blue train