Republicans Did Build It, On a Foundation of Cheap Lies

Highlights of the 2012 Republican National Convention. The quotes are from Andy Borowitz on Twitter and Bill Maher.

Like a lot of blog readers i like to find one or two articles that do a good summary of events. Something that gets down to the nuts and bolts. We have have a lot of sites to visit, work to do and so forth. So thankfully someone has put the RNC convention in a nutshell. This is just the first day of the convention and the falsehoods remain a running theme,

1. The “You didn’t build that” deception. By now, Obama’s rhetorical trip-up on the campaign trail is the stuff of legend, because in the construction of a series of sentences, Obama left an opening for Romney and his allies to suggest that the president meant something entirely different from what he said. At a campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., Obama said that a business owner’s success requires government investment in infrastructure such as roads and bridges. “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” he said — meaning, quite clearly, the roads and bridges. Republicans, however, pulled the quote from its context and ran with it. And Romney is determined to carry that ball to the finish line.

 

…2. The welfare lie. The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that it would consider providing waivers to states from the implementation of welfare-to-work requirement in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program if the states could demonstrate that they had a more effective means of helping welfare recipients find work. Romney has seized upon this announcement to claim that Obama is “gutting welfare reform” and eliminating the TANF work requirement — a blatant lie that has been reported as such by many news outlets.

…3. The “dependency” lie. The Republicans have found a useful corollary to the welfare lie in their invention of a Democratic dependency doctrine, which sells the false idea that Democrats deliberately seek to make people dependent on government benefits as a means of winning votes.

The most juvenile articulation of this steaming pile of prevarication was delivered by radio host and former actress Janine Turner, who followed up a Ben Franklin quote with this:

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Today Obama enables an entitlement society that says, “Give me liberty and gimme, gimme!”

…4. The immigration lie. Back in the primary campaign, Romney encouraged undocumented immigrants to “self-deport [8].” And after Obama announced that his administration would no longer deport undocumented immigrants who, as children, were brought to the United States by their parents, the Republican right cried foul.

…5. The government takeover lie. It’s an oldie but goody, the notion that any new program or regulation amounts to a “government takeover” of some aspect of the economy.

…6. The regulations lie. Another favorite myth of Romney and the Republicans is that Obama has burdened business with an unprecedented level of new regulation when, in fact, the George W. Bush administration issued more final rules in its first three years than has the Obama administration over the same length of time.

I snipped the highlights so those who would like to read the whole plus a bonus lie, will need to click over. So what is the theme of the RNC convention. make up utter falsehoods, spin facts, lie, more class warfare, fabricate a whole new alternate reality and run on that instead of the issues. In other crowds the convention has the same foundation of the conservative movement. I wish that were partisan hyperbole. Yet watching the convention is like watching a horror movie. Lots of special effects to create a narrative that has no bearing, no foundation in the real world. We’re all familiar with the deceptively edited video and quotes taken out of context for the “build it” lie. The Romney campaign has said they will not be corralled by fact checkers. Romney supporters must be god at swimming in the river of denial sense Obamacare is basically Romneycare and President Obama’s welfare reforms were something that Romney himself supported. The ridiculous statements by Janine Turner have been a theme of the conservative movement since Reagan’s imaginary welfare queen stump speech. Crowds ate it up, though no such woman ever existed. There are really only one federal program that offer income support. That is TANF. You know what Janine, the benefits from that program have gone down every year since it was enacted in 1996. Despite what Romney and his deceptive ad says you still have to work forty hours a week to get it. It is almost solely for low income women with children. The program is in fact for the children, but it is generally understood among sane adults that handing checks directly to a cold hungry 6 year old is not prudent. Those women can only collect TANF for five years their entire lifetime so there is no program that people are lined up for so they get benefits to live their entire lives dependent on gov’mint handouts. On the other hand there are very real dependents that leech off the production of the American worker. They’re called corporations and billionaires. Nothing produced in a free market country such as the U.S. exists without directly or indirectly being created by a worker. Workers create capital. The term grand bargain has been used to describe a couple different economic situations lately, but the orinal use of the term in America’s economic history was to describe the bargain between workers and business. of the value produced by workers, corporate executives and their share holders would take a good sized cut, but would pay workers a big enough share to afford the basics, plus some extras – a home, a car, their kid’s college education or special training , etc. Corporate America, with the help of conservatives and triangulating Democrats like the old Democratic Leadership Council broke that bargain. Not completely and not overnight, but pieces at a time over the years. Now Workers, at least half of America gets some crumbs that are trickled down, while people like Romney, the Koch brothers, Shledon Adelson, Bob Perry, CEO of Perry Homes, Wayne Hughes, owner and chairman of Public Storage Inc. and Fred Eshelman, CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development gorge themselves on the cake. Report: How CEO Compensation Is Fueling Inequality – CEOs were paid 231 times more than workers in 2011.

“CEOs have fared far better than the typical worker, the stock market and the U.S. economy as a whole since the late-1970s,” EPI President Lawrence Mishel said. “Compensation growth for executives and for top-tier financial-sector workers has fueled the enormous growth of incomes at the top.”

According to the new analysis from EPI, on average, CEOs were paid a staggering 231 times more than workers in 2011. In contrast, in 1965, CEOs were paid 20 times more than workers.

The analysis also shows that CEO compensation increased more than 725 percent from 1978 to 2011, while worker compensation only grew by 5.7 percent during the same period.

What is Janine’s, Fox news and the conservative movement in general’s fundamental beef? That some people are getting stuff they did not rightfully earn. I have heard the far Right argue, yea well, things have changed we live in a “knowledge” based economy. These super wealthy have a combination of special skills and knowledge that warrants massive compensation. Really? I have not meant any of the Right’s sugar daddies, but I have meet some wealthy executives. They have skills, but not skills worth 231 times the average worker. None of them are Einsteins. None of them sweat away in the hot sun on a July afternoon. None of them has an aching back from picking lettuce. Bill Gates, left ina room by himself for a year could not write the code currently used in Windows. The Kock’s used technology invented by people who just made a decent living, not billions. The Bulk of their products are fibers synthesized from petroleum, astro turf like floor covering and paper products. And they refine oil. These are not revolutionary leaders in technological breakthroughs, who if they died tomorrow America would suddenly grind to a halt. Neither are any of the other billionaires financing the conservative PACs and feeding conservatives like Janine the same line of crap from almost the moment they’re born. These conservative billionaires are legends in their own minds. In reality they are immoral scabs. With Paul Ryan’s worship of Ayn Rand in mind and her novel Atlas Shrugged. In the end that fantasy nove; the so-called producers have gone on strike to teach the mindless lazy masses to appreciate their betters. A special fantasy metal that never wears out also figures prominently in the story. The problem with this Randian conservative fantasy is very basic. Let’s say someone inevnts such a metal. Is he or she going to run the mill where its produced and all the machines. Is this capitalistic fantasy figure going to mine all the raw materials themselves. Are they going to drive the trucks, build the roads themselves, patrol the highways themselves to ensure their safety. Are they going to fly the planes and simultaneously direct the air traffic, oh and build the planes. By all means let us give credit to the Thomas Edisons, the Marie Curries, the Linus Paulings, Dr. Giuliana Tesoros and Philo Farnsworths credit and just compensation, but let’s not worship them like gods and treat workers like they were disposable ants. Or declare those workers parasites when the system they are not in charge of, is driven off the cliff by malevolent bankers and amoral investors. Why Rand Is Ryan’s Guru and Not Hayek

Judging from the convention conservatives cannot distinguish the real world from fantasy novels, Paul Ryan stands on a foundation of lies

And last night, Paul Ryan made painfully clear that he thinks we’re all profound idiots who’ll believe an endless string of lies, so long as they’re packaged well and presented with conviction. Jonathan Cohn suggested last night’s address may have been the “most dishonest convention speech” ever delivered, and I can’t think of a close second.

It was a truly breathtaking display of brazen dishonesty. Paul Ryan looked America in the eye and without a hint a shame, lied to our face.

Ryan lied about President Obama’s auto-industry rescue, blaming the administration for a plant closing orchestrated by President Bush. Ryan lied about Medicare, falsely accusing Obama of undermining the system. Ryan lied about the debt downgrade, falsely blaming the president for a downgrade caused by Ryan and congressional Republicans.

Ryan lied about the Simpson-Bowles commission, falsely accusing Obama of walking away from debt reduction, and ignoring the fact that Ryan himself fought to ensure the Simpson-Bowles commission never even released a report. Ryan lied about his plans for the safety net, saying he intends to “protect the weak” when he budget plan intends to gut public investments that benefit the poor.

Ryan lied about the debt, saying Obama “has added more debt than any other president before him,” when the truth is, that was George W. Bush — who added over $5 trillion to the debt thanks in large part to congressional votes cast by Paul Ryan.

Ryan lied about the Recovery Act, calling the stimulus “a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst,” when reality shows the exact opposite. Ryan lied about small businesses, accusing Obama of raising their taxes, when he actually cut their taxes.

Paul Ryan, the man the media and Republicans celebrate as a bold truth-teller, told one lie after another, demonstrating a near-pathological disdain for honesty.

Ryan is a walking irony, a reported shining example of values. They’re just grotesque and sleazy values.

And the Black Helicopter report: The 5 Weirdest Bits in the 2012 GOP Platform

The UN is coming! The GOP platform treats the United Nations as a sinister force encroaching on American sovereignty. Though some of this is mere disagreement on policy, elements of the platform incorporate nods to conspiracy theories, like language that says the party “reject[s] the UN Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty, and we oppose any form of UN Global Tax.” As my colleague Stephanie Mencimer reported in 2010 [6], Agenda 21 is a two-decade-old toothless international commitment to sustainable development (“smart-growth communism”) that has roused the imaginations of tea partiers everywhere. Meanwhile, as Foreign Policy’s Joshua Keating notes [7], the UN does not have the authority to impose a “Global Tax.” I suppose that’s a great reason to oppose it!

This is the only two things one needs to understand about the U.N. and any policy or program it tries to implement. The U.S.A. is one of the five major powers on the Security Council. The U.S. can veto anything passed, even if by every single nation in the world. Our UN delegation cannot enter into treaties binding on the country without Congressional approval.

Night Blue City wallpaper

 

Mitt Romney Has Never Built Anything – Mitt Romney Just Destroys Things For a Living

Advertisements

” In respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man.”

Should a good journalist decide to start ask a dozen RNC convention delegates where Romney stands on women’s reproductive rights, they probably get a half-dozen different answers. This is just another area where Romney has taken just about every policy position. So if you’re a Republican voter, capable of the kind of cognitive discombobulation that conservatives have become infamous for, you just mentally cling to the position you liked the best to justify your vote. Romney campaign denies Romney’s claim that he supports health exception for abortion

Mitt Romney in an interview released by CBS News this afternoon:

My position has been clear throughout this campaign. I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest and the health and life of the mother.

That’s not true—Romney was against all abortion until last Monday, when he decided to support abortion in cases of rape, incest, or when the woman’s life was in danger. But he didn’t support abortion in cases “merely” involving health—that exception was entirely new. Never fear, though, Greg Sargent reports Romneyland has already walked that back.

But there is no shift, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul tells me. She emails:

“Gov. Romney’s position is clear: he opposes abortion except for cases of rape, incest and where the life of the mother is threatened.”

That means no health exception.

So now the question is which side is telling the truth: Mitt Romney … or his campaign?

And there lingers another important question. In the interview, Romney said that he believed the legality of abortion was a settled issue and shouldn’t be a political topic. “The Democrats try and make this a political issue every four years,” he said, “but this is a matter in the courts. It’s been settled for some time in the courts.”

This part of that post, “That’s not true—Romney was against all abortion until last Monday” is true only within the context of the beginning of this election cycle. In the past Romney was pro-choice – How Newly Pro-Life Romney Betrayed a “Dear, Close Family Relative”

Say what you will about the ultra-hardline reproductive politics of Todd Akin and Paul Ryan, but at least those two have always been true believers. Mitt Romney, not so much. As his former strategist Michael Murphy put it in 2005, “He’s been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly.” But Romney’s public transformation from an “unwavering” supporter of Roe v. Wade into a strong backer of the GOP’s all-out assault on women’s reproductive rights isn’t just rank opportunism. To accomplish that extremist makeover, Mitt Romney had to turn his back on a “dear, close family relative” who died 50 years ago of a then-illegal abortion.

If this tragic incident and the story Romney told about it to sell Massachusetts voters on his moderate pro-women’s reproductive rights credentials was not so moving and memorable in its original telling Romney could make the i flip-flopped because of carefully weighing new information. As it is, his sudden conversion and choice of Ryan ( shadow of Todd Akins) as his running mate, makes it all seem like very cynical pandering. If he’ll sell women down the river to win the presidency, he has the kind of morally corrupt world view that does not bode well for good governance. For those who have not already made up their minds who read Romney’s actual agenda, he is a member of the same ideological swamp as Todd Akins (see here, Paul Ryan claims rape is a “method of conception”) and here, Why Mitt Romney Is a Threat to Women’s Health

Gov. Romney would repeal the Affordable Care Act and take no-cost preventive care away from the 20.4 million nonelderly adult women who have already gained access to such care through the Affordable Care Act.

Family planning

Title X is our nation’s family-planning program. Title X clinics provided contraception to 4,683,290 women in 2008, which helped avert an estimated 973,000 unintended pregnancies. That same year there were 5,047,030 women under the age of 20 alone in need of contraceptive services and supplies. Every year Planned Parenthood provides contraception to 2.2 million patients. Contraception accounts for one-third of the services its health centers provide.

This hatred of contraception, which is  a symptom of the conservative campaign against women having dominion over their own bodies and reproductive choices has always created a contradiction for conservatives who say they want fewer abortions. One easy practical way to achieve a lower abortion rate and respect women as having the full rights of citizenship, is to make access to contraception and health care as easy as possible, not as difficult as possible.

Jonathan Chait notes an odd coincidence, Ryan Budget, Constitution Turn Out to Be Same

One of the odder mental pathologies that has emerged over the last few years on the American right is the belief that the Republican Party’s current preferred economic program is the sole legitimate claimant to the tradition of the U.S. Constitution. (“Current” is the key word here — the belief system leans heavily on the unstated premise that policies advocated by the party up until three years ago, like the individual mandate, are wildly unconstitutional.)

Washington Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti has a column in the Weekly Standard that offers an entertaining window into this form of madness. It begins with broad paeans to liberty and the Founding Fathers and so on. Then Continetti embarks on the task of establishing the vital role played by right-wing economic policy.

[   ]…And so, by the following paragraph, the reader is prepared for a full-on litany:

Here is what independence might look like: A responsible budget would tame the debt by addressing the unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare through a combination of increasing the retirement age, tying benefits to longevity and inflation, and introducing premium support. Medicaid would be block-granted. Its maintenance-of-effort regulations would be liberalized.

Of course! Even a cursory familiarity with the views of the Founding Fathers makes it perfectly clear that they wanted a national old-old pension system to cover those over the age of 67, not 65, and that the federal government should provide health insurance to the elderly only, via subsidizing private insurance vouchers rather than direct reimbursement of medical providers, which they would have regarded as utter tyranny.

As much admirable ideals as one can find in the writings of Founders such as Madison, Jefferson and Adams they provided for a government run by and for white males. Jefferson had regrets about that his entire life, but it was what it was. One of the very first issues to face the new U.S.A. was the Whiskey Rebellion – “in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington. Farmers who sold their grain in the form of whiskey had to pay a new tax which they strongly resented. The tax was a part of treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton’s program to pay off the national debt.” The modern conservative movement would be ready for pitchforks, tar and feathers to go after Washington. Not paying taxes has become the highest order of patriotism for the Right. An ideological rigidity not shared by THE Founding Father.

Paul Buchheit does the math. We could go the radical conservative route and punish the working poor and middle-class with more taxes, higher retirement ages for benefits, take away health care from low-income women, sell off all the national parks to the Koch brothers or we could get people like Sheldon Abelson to pay their fair share of taxes – Taxes Avoided by the Rich Could Pay Off the Deficit

2. Corporate tax avoidance is between $250 billion and $500 billion.

There are numerous examples of tax avoidance by the big companies, but the most outrageous fact may be that corporations decided to drastically cut their tax rates after the start of the recession. After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, they’ve paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes. Worse yet, it’s a $500 billion shortfall from the 35% statutory corporate tax rate.

3. Tax haven losses range from $337 billion to $500 billion.

The Tax Justice Network estimated in 2011 that $337 billion is lost to the U.S. every year in tax haven abuse. It’s probably more. A recent report placed total hidden offshore assets at somewhere between $21 trillion and $32 trillion. Using the lesser $21 trillion figure, and considering that about 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals are Americans, and factoring in an annual 6% stock market gain based on historical records, the tax loss comes to $500 billion.

Conservative sugar-daddy Adelson is a good example of the wacky and yes, deeply un-American priorities of the far Right – GOP Casino Baron Sheldon Adelson Pledges $500,000 To Buy A Single House Seat

Sheldon Adelson, the multi-billionaire casino mogul who already spent at least $5 million to help keep Republicans in control of the House next year, reportedly pledged $500,000 to just one House candidate, New Jersey Republican candidate Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.

While half-a-million dollars sure sounds like a lot of money, it is chump change to Mr. Adelson. The casino czar’s net worth is just shy of $25 billion, or more than the gross domestic product of nearly two dozen nations put together. Indeed, Adelson is so rich that if he decided to give half a million dollars to every single Republican nominee for every House and Senate seat in the country, and to do so every single election cycle until his vast fortune ran out, he would have enough money to fund the GOP’s election machine for the next 186 years:

GOP Casino Baron Sheldon larger graphic

Conservative billionaires are happy to spend millions buying politicians and election rather than pay less than that on their fair share of taxes. Adelson has given about $9.9 million to the pro Romney PAC Restore Our Future, you know so he can get Paul Ryan’s proposed tax cuts. Does having extreme amounts f money rot the brain? Exxon Mobil paid $138 million in lobbying expenditures on a ten-year period. In 2009 they paid zero taxes and got a tax rebate of $156 million. It is paying more in lobbying than it is on taxes. Bank of America employees contributed $11 million to federal political campaigns from 2001 to 2010. They paid  $24 million for lobbying during the same period. BoA pocketed $4.4 billion in profits in 2010 while receiving a tax refund of $1.9 billion. According to Romney, Ryan, the Republican party and every radical conservative web site corporate America has such a terrible tax burden they cannot afford to hire workers. Maybe they could hire more workers if they paid less to lobbyists.

Marble statue of three suffragists by Adelaide Johnson in the Capitol crypt, Washington, D.C.

Subjects:
Anthony, Susan B.–(Susan Brownell),–1820-1906
Mott, Lucretia,–1793-1880
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady,–1815-1902

The first picket line – College day in the picket line. 1917 Feb. Women protesting for the right to vote.

“The more women at work the sooner we win! Women are needed also as […] See your local U.S. Employment Service.” WW II era poster from the U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943. Office of War Information. Bureau of Public Inquiries. 1943.

Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony.

Frederick Douglass was an antislavery advocate, but he was also an advocate for the right of women to vote,

Born into slavery in 1817 or 1818, Frederick Douglass (1817?-1895) became one of the most outspoken advocates of abolition and women’s rights in the 19th century. Believing that “Right is of no sex, truth is of no color,” Douglass urged an immediate end to slavery and supported Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other women’s rights activists in their crusade for woman suffrage.

“In respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man. We go farther, and express our conviction that all political rights which it is expedient for man to exercise, it is equally so for women. All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being, is equally true of woman; and if that government is only just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in making and administering the laws of the land. Our doctrine is, that “Right is of no sex.” ( Douglass speech to the First Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY. 1848)

 

Democratic Blue Globe wallpaper – The Republican Agenda Has Failed Repeatedly. Their Answer? Become Crazier And More Radical

Democratic Blue Globe wallpaper

 

Former Florida Republican  governor Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Obama is driving the radical Right crazy,  Former Gov. Charlie Crist: Here’s why I’m backing Barack Obama

As America prepares to pick our president for the next four years — and as Florida prepares once again to play a decisive role — I’m confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation. I applaud and share his vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility. It is a vision of the future proven right by our history.

We often remind ourselves to learn the lessons of the past, lest we risk repeating its mistakes. Yet nearly as often, our short-term memory fails us. Many have already forgotten how deep and daunting our shared crisis was in the winter of 2009, as President Obama was inaugurated. It was no ordinary challenge, and the president served as the nation’s calm through a historically turbulent storm.

The president’s response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them.

He knew we had to get people back to work as quickly as possible — but he also knew that the value of a recovery lies in its durability. Short-term healing had to be paired with an economy that would stay healthy over the long run. And he knew that happens best by investing in the right places.

President Obama invested in our children’s schools because he believes a good education is a necessity, not a luxury, if we’re going to create an economy built to last. He supported more than 400,000 K-12 teachers’ jobs, and he is making college more affordable and making student loans, like the ones he took out, easier to pay back.

He invested in our runways, railways and roads. President Obama knows a reliable infrastructure that helps move people to work and helps businesses move goods to market is a foundation of growth.

And the president invested in our retirement security by strengthening Medicare. The $716 billion in savings his opponents decry today extended the life of the program by nearly a decade and are making sure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted in excessive payments to insurance companies or fraud and abuse. His opponents would end the Medicare guarantee by creating a voucher that would raise seniors’ costs by thousands of dollars and bankrupt the program.

We have more work to do, more investments to make and more waste to cut. But only one candidate in this race has proven a willingness to navigate a realistic path to prosperity.

As Republicans gather in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney, Americans can expect to hear tales of how President Obama has failed to work with their party or turn the economy around.

But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.

The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.

The Bush-Cheney era, not just the president and vice president, but most conservatives in elected office pushed far Right. That failed. It was what one pundit called a colossal clusterf**k. They trashed the economy and made no rational plans for the nation’s future. What did conservatives learn from their colossal failure/ They needed to be further right and more radical. The conservative urban myth industry has grown bigger and more shrill. All to preserve the illusion that Republicans can be good leaders even though the last four have left disasters for someone else to clean up. They could not even confine themselves to trashing America, they spread the destruction to tens of thousands of miles away and spent the nation’s treasures, and lives to do so. Mitt Romney and Paul Romney are just Bush-Cheney on speed. If these conservatives were your children they’d keep knocking their heads against the wall. After telling them to stop a half dozen times – they’re hurting themselves and the wall – if they persisted you’d take them in for a mental check-up.  This article gets into some of the reasons why, having been proved wrong over and over again, conservatives cling more tenaciously than ever to a failed and fundamentally anti-American philosophy – The “backfire effect” – Why Do People Believe Stupid Stuff, Even When They’re Confronted With the Truth?

 

This is a devastating report by People For The American Way – Predatory Privatization: Exploiting Financial Hardship, Enriching the 1%, Undermining Democracy

Through privatization schemes that directly sell off assets that belong to the public, legislators enrich corporate interests at the expense of the long-term interests of the American people in assets their taxes have helped build. The privatization of the people’s assets is essentially permanent. Once buildings and lands are sold off to the private sector by a temporary legislative majority, those assets that may have taken years to build or maintain are lost forever to private, nondemocratic control.

The agenda of privatization schemers was manifest at last August’s American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in New Orleans where ALEC members urged that the government, meaning the people, should not own buildings but should sell them to the private sector, which could then lease the space back to the government at a profit. Their aim is to make the private sector the landlords of our public spaces to accrue more profit for the few while rendering “we the people” the tenants of corporations in the halls of our democracy. In 2009, the state of Arizona even mortgaged its own capitol complex to investors and turned the legislature itself into a tenant.

I know economics call be boring, but it is important to know that much of this privatization agenda is part and parcel of the conservative desire to turn the U.S. into a nation of rent seeking. The billionaires that compose the radical Right PACS are perfect examples. They bring very little to the national table in terms of innovation, values, goods or services – like Romney they exploit the power of money to make more money. Even the NYT’s David Brooks famously admitted that Romney had to sell himself to the public as someone who created value by trimming the fat from companies – in many cases the fat was jobs that were sent to Asia.

A study released last fall by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight found, for example, that in 33 of 35 occupations, the government paid billions more to hire contractors than it would have cost to have the same functions performed by government employees.

Some privatization efforts are windfalls that enrich major corporations or politically connected local businesses at the expense of taxpayers. Sometimes the cause is simply a mismatch between the resources and expertise of a public official and a major Wall Street firm.

“There’s a reason that there’s been so much enthusiasm in the finance community for privatization deals. You are dealing with a less savvy partner,” said David Johnson, a partner in a firm that advises struggling municipalities. “The bigger sucker is always the government.” Privatization can be good business, whether successful or not. When privatization plans fail and government steps back in, politically connected financiers brokers, and law firms can still walk away with millions of taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps worst of all, privatization can undermine good public policy and democratic decision making. Turning tax dollars and control of public services over to companies whose overriding incentive is to maximize profits can lead to long-term costs and sometimes devastating consequences.

In February, surveying the privatization push at the state level, economist Paul Krugman suggested that Madison, Wisconsin, in 2011 was similar to Baghdad in 2003, when Bush administration officials’ top priority was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.” Krugman notes that author Naomi Klein, in her book “Shock Doctrine,” put the Baghdad fiasco in a larger context in which “right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.” And such policies also put more profits in the hands of their political allies and election funders.

Like every other rent seeker Romney just cannot fathom why we should have public porperty, a public sphere, GOP Land Grab

To Romney and others in his party, all public assets look ripe for privatization

“Unless there’s a valid, and legitimate, and compelling governmental purpose, I don’t know why the government owns so much of this land,” Romney said while campaigning in Nevada earlier this year.

Elections are supposed to be, in part, a vehicle through which the people determine how the state will use its powers to allocate public and private wealth.

Sometimes the people’s will is thwarted. In 2001 and 2003, President George W. Bush–who received 500,000 fewer votes than Al Gore–and the Republican Congress cut taxes. According to the New York Times, between 2002 and 2009 these cuts reduced tax revenues by about $1.8 trillion. Those who benefited most from the cuts were the richest Americans. So in effect, America’s millionaires had hundreds of billions of dollars deposited, through the legislative process, into their pockets.

Another way resources will be redistributed–if the Republicans have their way–is the privatization of public assets.

Think of all the riches tied up in our public education system. At the Koch-funded Heartland Institute, President Joseph Bast said: “We see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling. In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime.”

We can argue about America’s education system all day, but how can anyone think that turning our schools into the ideological equivalent of Rush Limbaugh factories be good for our children. That would be dumping down primary education that is already watered down so it doesn’t teach much beyond arithmetic and reading.

An interesting find in the Bain document dump, Romney’s Management Fee Conversions

In the 2000s it became common for private equity fund managers to “convert” their management fees into carried interest.  There are many variations on the theme, but here’s how many deals worked: each year, before the annual management fee comes due, the fund manager waives the management fee in exchange for a priority allocation of future profits.  There is minimal economic risk involved; as long as the fund, at some point, has a profitable quarter, the managers get paid.  (If the managers don’t foresee any future profits, they won’t waive the fees, and they will take cash instead.)   In exchange for a minimal amount of economic risk, the tax benefit is enormous: the compensation is transformed from ordinary income (taxed at 35%) into capital gain (taxed at 15%).  Because the management fees for a large private equity fund can be ten or twenty million per year, the tax dodge can literally save millions in taxes every year.

The problem is that it is not legal.

That writer is an expert in corporate tax law so he may be on to something.

A very good write-up of Neil Armstrong at Boing Boing, Neil Armstrong 1930-2012: One Giant Loss for Mankind. From the end of the press release by his family,

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012. Image credit NASA

Neil Armstrong On the Lunar Surface Image Credit NASA.

Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin’s panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface.

This link also has some interesting background info and a video, The Inspiration behind Neil Armstrong’s Immortal Words

 

Fox News and The Republican National Committee Vindicate President Obama’s Build It Speech

Old Stone Lighthouse wallpaper

 

Recently Fox News of all places, and joined by the Republican Party, Mitt Romney and Romney’s PAC ads have joined in to vindicate President Obama’s speech that has become known as the Build it speech. First what the President actually said,

 If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help.  There was a great teacher somewhere in your life.  Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive.  Somebody invested in roads and bridges.  If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that.  Somebody else made that happen.  The Internet didn’t get invented on its own.  Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.  There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own.  I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service.  That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

Even though some readers may consider the wording awkward it is clear when he say “that” he is referring to roads and bridges – the infrastructure that allows business to transport goods and customers to buy goods and services. There have been attempts to undermine the whole speech with the counter argument that we do not “do things together”. The latter is just as absurd as twisting the build it remarks wildly out of context. We first have Fox News arguing that yep, gov’mint needs to get in there and do something, You Didn’t Build That: Fox News & The Bridge To Grandma’s House

Fox News’ campaign to pretend President Obama insulted American ingenuity when he told voters no one individual built the “unbelievable American system” of roads and bridges, public schools and the Internet, ran into a roadblock today when they reported on the bridge to grandma’s house.

Bob and Connie Bushner have been embroiled in a lawsuit with Ozark County, MO officials over replacing a bridge to their property that washed away in 2010. According to the Ozark County Times, the county has maintained the bridge on and off for years, even though the bridge resides on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Bushners, the only residents at the end of the bridge, appeared on Fox & Friends to explain their struggles with the county over replacing that bridge. According to Connie Bushner, the family has been forced to pilot their grandchildren across the creek on an ATV in order to visit. “It’s treacherous,” she said.

Gretchen Carlson was aghast: “It seems crazy that you are stranded in your own home.”

But curiously, she concluded the segment by reporting, “It seems like it’s a mess, because the county claims the bridge is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Army Corps claims that it’s the county. In the meantime you guys remain stranded.”

Another thing stranded here is logical consistency.

Shouldn’t Carlson be hopping mad that the government would be asked to rebuild a bridge?

After all, Fox News has been stoking outrage for weeks that President Obama insulted business owners by saying they didn’t build the roads and bridges that help them bring goods to market and that bring customers to their stores.

The outrage Fox spent so much time and energy manufacturing takes center stage at the GOP convention next week, with the cynical theme “We Built It.”

Granted, taxpayers built and own the NHL stadium that will host the convention, redesigned Tampa’s highways and byways that convention goers will use to get to that publicly funded stadium, and will foot the bill for the security that will keep those convention-goers safe.

Never mind all that. “You Didn’t Build That” is a Fox News/GOP brand.

Just don’t tell grandma.

I have some sympathy for the Bushners. I went through that phase where I thought how nice it would be to have a rural cabin with all the peace and quiet. Though it is clear in their case that in order to afford easy access to and from their home they need the resources of the local or federal government. Now if Fox and conservatives have the genuine conviction that no American ever needs gov’mint help than, under that blanket of ideological conviction the Bushners need to start building their own bridge. Right after the build it speech Romney started running some  dishonest ads that were carefully edited deceptive video that had President Obama saying that business owners do not build their businesses. Who did Romney have in the ads? Businesses – that also happen to be extreme partisan conservatives – that relied heavily on government contracts. That should be enough dishonesty and hypocrisy to make anyone with a conscience reconsider putting words in the president’s mouth or deceptively editing video, an oh, making sure that featured speakers at the RNC convention are monuments to the complete and utter self sufficiency fantasy-land of conservative rhetoric: How She “Built It”: Fox’s RNC Theme Undercut By Key Speaker’s Business Success

On the day that the GOP convention will tout Fox-fueled myth “We Built It” as its primary theme, Delaware Lt. Gov. candidate and small business owner Sher Valenzuela is slated to deliver a speech about small business issues. But contrary to the evening’s theme, Valenzuela’s company, First State Manufacturing, has received millions of dollars in federal loans and contracts. Valenzuela has not only attributed her success in part to this outside assistance, but urged other small business owners to follow the same strategy of seeking government funds.

M’s Valenzuela and the brain trusts that picked her should get some kind of bronze Build It award for utter cognitive dissonance. Not only does she owe the government for the start up funds for her business ( a SMA loan), but she also does presentations, complete with slide show on how to get government loans and contracts – it can be viewed at the link. At this juncture if you put this all on in a screenplay people would think they were watching some outlandish satire adapted from the Daily Show or Saturday Night Live brought to the local cineplex. All of this must be some kind of absurd comedy unfolding, not real life events. Who would believe that people say and do these things, than act as though they are still stone cold right about what they believe. Just in today, Who Built That? Fox Hypes Romney Op-Ed That Touts Businesses Receiving Government Money

Fox News host Brian Kilmeade called an op-ed written by Mitt Romney touting lessons learned from his experience investing in companies at Bain Capital “brilliantly written.” But unmentioned by Fox is the fact that many of the companies Romney touted have benefitted from government largesse.

Brian Kilmeade thinks sliced white bread is brilliant. If you took the number of times that Kilmeade has said “I don’t get it” on their morning show over the last ten years, you’d have at least an hour worth of what he considers deep insights. He is as bright as rape specialist Todd Akins.

In his op-ed, Romney stated that during his days at Bain Capital, he learned that “A good idea is not enough for a business to succeed. It requires a talented team, a good business plan and capital to execute it.” Romney then proceeded to list several companies that he invested in at Bain. But many of those companies have relied on government funds or special tax breaks as part of their business model:

Steel Dynamics. The Los Angeles Times reported that when Bain made its investments in Indiana-based Steel Dynamics, state and county officials “pledged $37 million in subsidies and grants for the $385-million plant project.” The Times also reported: “The county also levied a new income tax to finance infrastructure improvements to benefit the steel mill over the heated objections of some county residents.” Furthermore, Steel Dynamics had also successfully petitioned the federal government to levy tariffs on a foreign competitor in 2000.

Staples. Staples directly relies on government money for part of its revenue. Indeed, it has programs to woo state, local, and federal agencies to buy products from Staples. It even has a separate website dedicated to providing customer service to its federal government clients.

Bright Horizons. Bright Horizons has a number of federal contracts to run daycare centers around the country on behalf of federal agencies. It also runs daycare centers on behalf of Cook County, IL.

In a poll that came out late yesterday or this morning that gives President Obama the edge on likability. I can understand that. I disagree with him on some things, but there is little denying that he is a decent likeable guy. Yet potential voters give the guy with Swiss bank accounts and a career that entailed nothing but crony vulture capitalism the edge on economics. Romney knows how to game the system to make himself and a few investors very wealthy. Is he going to stripe down America, sell off part of it, than dump the country for a profit. That is what he knows how to do. In no way does that translate into governing a country. We a democratic republic, not a office supply company. Americans should be insulted and deeply concerned that he and his supporters see the USA as just another opportunity to offshore jobs, cut what they see as waste (seniors, low skilled labor, the working poor, the struggling middle-class, students unsure of whether their college loans will pay off, the disabled) and America as some inefficient machine that needs to be whipped into shape. of course conservatives – the same ones that hated him during the primaries – have drunk the kool-aid and they are probably the ones who lick up every lie Romney tells, Romney’s Lying Machine or how to run a morally corrupt campaign,

I’ve been struck by the baldness of Romney’s repetitive lies about Obama — that Obama ended the work requirement under welfare, for example, or that Obama’s Affordable Care Act cuts $716 billion from Medicare benefits.

The mainstream media along with a half-dozen independent fact-checking organizations and sites have called Romney on these whoppers, but to no avail. He keeps making these assertions.

Every campaign is guilty of exaggerations, embellishments, distortions, and half-truths. But this is another thing altogether. I’ve been directly involved in seven presidential campaigns, and I don’t recall a presidential candidate lying with such audacity, over and over again. Why does he do it, and how can he get away with it?

The obvious answer is such lies are effective. Polls show voters are starting to believe them, especially in swing states where they’re being repeated constantly in media spots financed by Romney’s super PAC or ancillary PACs and so-called “social welfare” organizations (political fronts disguised as charities, such as Karl Rove and the Koch brothers have set up).

Romney’s lying machine is extraordinarily well financed. By August, according to Jane Mayer in her recent New Yorker article, at least 33 billionaires had each donated a quarter of a million dollars or more to groups aiming to defeat Obama – with most of it flooding into attack ads in swing states.

I wonder if swing voters have pondered this situation and its irrationality. We have billionaires  – people with a thousand million dollars – complaining that the country is going to hell in hand basket. Of course they are humans and can suffer physical pain like everyone else, but other than that how are they suffering. They could have a few more million if Paul Ryan gets his way and gives them another tax cut. To buy what then, that they cannot buy now? What they seem to be aiming for is a plantation style USA. One where they have all the economic and political power. They’re like heroin addicts, only instead of drugs, they will never have enough money, and the power that goes with it. It is the opposite of Paul Ryan’s hero John Galt. In the real world the everyday American workers who are the producers become the servants of the real life Galts who never do any actual work. Corporate Profits Rebound But Household Income Falls In Wake Of Great Recession.

Corporate profits are at record levels, reaching an all-time high of 11 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in July. But instead of re-investing that cash into jobs that will help the economy recover, corporations are sitting on cash — the members of the Standard and Poor’s 500 held $800 billion in cash in June 2011.

How can wackos like the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Mitt Romney the 33 billionaires and all the conservative pundits look at information like that and conclude, yep Democrats are turning America into a Marxist wasteland.

E pluribus unum wallpaper – When It Comes To Women and Rape All Republicans Share The Same Immoral Agenda

E pluribus unum wallpaper. E pluribus unum  is from the Latin,  “Out of many, one”. For about the first 175 years it was the de facto motto of the United States.

 

To review, Rep. Todd Akin (R) the conservative candidate for Senate in Missouri  told a local Missouri station in an interview that “legitimate rape” does not lead to pregnancy.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare,” Akin said in an interview with KTVI-TV that caused a furor online Sunday afternoon after being posted on TPM. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Akin’s comments came during a discussion of his hardline stand against permitting legal abortions for rape victims. “I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child,” he said.

McCaskill quickly rebuked him — “As a woman & former prosecutor who handled 100s of rape cases, I’m stunned by Rep. Akin’s comments about victims this AM,” she tweeted — and Republican operatives on Twitter joined in the chorus decrying his remarks and speculating that he would need to be pulled from the race if the GOP wanted to continue to have any shot at taking her seat. Akin, who had been leading in polls, issued a lengthy statement explaining that he “misspoke.”

It may sound like snark but it is incredibly dishonest of the Republican Party and their cabal of commentators to scream for Akin to quite the race. Akin has said or done nothing wrong in the framework of what the conservative movement stands for and the goals of is agenda. As many have already heard, Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Akins (R-MO) co-sponsored  H.R. 3 .

Last year, Akin joined with GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as two of the original co-sponsors of the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” a bill which, among other things, introduced the country to the bizarre term “forcible rape.”

Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions. Yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. Because the primary target of Akin and Ryan’s effort are Medicaid recipients — patients who are unlikely to be able to afford an abortion absent Medicaid funding — the likely impact of this bill would have been forcing many rape survivors to carry their rapist’s baby to term. Michelle Goldberg explains who Akin and Ryan would likely target:

Under H.R. 3, only victims of “forcible rape” would qualify for federally funded abortions. Victims of statutory rape—say, a 13-year-old girl impregnated by a 30-year-old man—would be on their own. So would victims of incest if they’re over 18. And while “forcible rape” isn’t defined in the criminal code, the addition of the adjective seems certain to exclude acts of rape that don’t involve overt violence—say, cases where a woman is drugged or has a limited mental capacity. “It’s basically putting more restrictions on what was defined historically as rape,” says Keenan.

Although a version of this bill passed the GOP-controlled House, the “forcible rape” language was eventually removed due to widespread public outcry.

And just in the news today, Ryan Refuses To Say Abortions Should Be Available To Women Who Are Raped. Mitt Romney has condemned Akins, yet CNN Reports Republican Party Platform Will Include No Exception For Rape, ‘Legitimate’ Or Otherwise. This is Romney’s platform, the agenda on which his campaign rests. Akin’s has offered up yet another strange non-apology in the annals of strange apologies from conservatives,

“I feel just as strongly as ever that my background and ability will be a big asset in replacing [Sen.] Clare McCaskill and putting some sanity back in our government. I’m not a quitter, and my belief is we’re going to take this thing forward, and by the grace of God we’re going to win this race.”

Most of the Republicans in the presidential primaries said God told them to run. Now we have Akins claiming that a man who believes that women should be used as incubators for the babies of rapists thinks God is on his side. The real motivation for the clearly false outrage on behalf of Romney, Ryan and others is over the fact that Akins so openly and bluntly stated what they believe – and have believed for years ( a good history of the bizarre way conservatives view rape and women’s rights here – THE MAINSTREAM CONSERVATIVE ROOTS OF TODD AKIN’S PREGNANCY THEORY (sorry not my caps). They’re not outraged over the substance, they’re outraged at letting an unvarnished version of what they believe out into the world. Todd Akins (R-MO) has had his defenders. Defenders in the sense – with friends like these who needs enemies – Second CNN Contributor Scrambles To Deflect Criticism From GOP Rep. Akin’s “Legitimate Rape”

CNN contributor Erick Erickson jumped to deflect criticism from Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) after Akin said that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancies. In his response, Erickson used a discredited criticism of President Obama.

Asked during a local television interview whether he would keep abortion legal in the case of rape, Akin said:

AKIN: First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work, or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.

Akin has subsequently said: “In reviewing my off-the-cuff remarks, it’s clear that I misspoke in this interview and it does not reflect the deep empathy I hold for the thousands of women who are raped and abused every year.”

Erickson responded to Akin’s comments by writing:

Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, made an inarticulate and rather dumb statement about rape and abortion on television in Missouri.  He subsequently clarified his remarks. Congressman Akin, like many devout Christians, does not believe in a rape exception for abortion.

Erickson later added that he’d “take Todd Akin’s inarticulate remarks over an infanticide supporter any day of the week”:

Todd Akin was inarticulate. Some are now accusing him of being pro-rape. The people horrid by Todd Akin’s remarks are, I’m sure, thrilled to have a President who defended infanticide. I’ll take Todd Akin’s inarticulate remarks over an infanticide supporter any day of the week.

I’m not going to spend too much time parsing this grotesque word salad that Erickson thinks passes for a rebuttal and his lame deflection to a myth regarding president Obama’s service as an Illinois state senator. Many devout Christians, Jews and good folks from various religions support a women’s right to have dominion over her own body, especially in cases of rape, incest and medical issues that make pregnancy medically problematic for the woman. Conservatives, such as the perennially arrogant Erickson do not own Christianity.

Mike Huckabee also chimed in to Todd Akins (R-MO) defense with this stunner, Huckabee to Akin: ‘Horrible’ rapes created some extraordinary people

The former Arkansas governor and onetime GOP presidential contender suggested a couple of cases in which he suggested that rapes, though “horrible tragedies,” had produced admirable human beings.

“Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,” Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: “I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”

Huckabee left the seminary in 1976 to become director of communications for the fiery televangelist Robison, who once declared he was “sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals and the perverts and the liberals and the leftists and the communists coming out of the closet.” Robison called on “God’s people to come out of the closet” and re-take control of America.

I wish I could wash my brain of the number of times I have heard similar Republican rationales for treating women and their wombs as though they were petri dishes. In this bizarre Huckabeeian logic be thankful your house burned down and killed your dog, you can build a new house and get a new dog. Ya see folks everything has a silver lining. Be happy that mugger knocked out your teeth, now you can get dentures and never have to worry about cavities. In this upside down world all terrible tragedies are good because some good may come of it, so bring on some more tragedy. This philosophy fits in with the Republican tendency to see themselves as beleaguered martyrs. Like most Americans I believe in trying to make the best of bad situations, but like so many good things the concept can be carried to sick twisted extremes.

If you’re going to keep selling the same snake-oil to voters Rep. Akins (R-MO) should take lessons from Scott Brown (R-MS). brown seems to have had some success in conning the voters of Massachusetts into believing he is a nice guy, a moderate guy/ Like George Bush he even runs around in a work jackets and a truck – see I’m a stand-up guy, not a two-faced opportunist who drinks the same kool-aid as Todd Akins, Two Faced Scott Brown (R-MS) Supports Todd Akin’s Agenda Even As He Calls On Akin To Quit

As Rep. Todd Akin’s despicable comments on “legitimate rape” rightfully provoke outrage, the Massachusetts Democratic Party reminds voters that Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown has given thousands of dollars to other Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate who would redefine rape as “forcible rape” and threaten women’s rights if, with Brown, they gain control of the U.S. Senate.

Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan also supports the bill.

Brown’s PAC, SCOTTPAC, has made campaign contributions to four House members, including three U.S. Senate candidates, after they cosponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

Scott Brown is supporting a Vice Presidential nominee and three of his fellow senate candidates who want to redefine rape, excluding protections to victims of violent sexual assaults. Brown donated to current Senate candidates Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT), and Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND), as well as Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA). The Republican nominee for Vice President, Paul Ryan, also cosponsored the bill.

…Scott Brown has made campaign contributions to the following supporters of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act that would redefine rape:

Scott Brown’s PAC contributed $5,000 to Jeff Flake for US Senate Inc[OpenSecrets.org, Accessed 8/20/12]

Scott Brown’s PAC contributed $10,000 to Montanans for Rehberg [OpenSecrets.org, Accessed 8/20/12]

Scott Brown’s PAC contributed $5,000 to Berg for Senate [OpenSecrets.org, Accessed 8/20/12]

Scott Brown’s PAC contributed $10,000 to Denham for Congress [OpenSecrets.org, Accessed 8/20/12]

Brown – the moderate – has also joined his fellow Senate conservatives in blocking any jobs bills, including – Dem Jobs Bill For Teachers, Firefighters…….Republicans block Bring Jobs Home Act, protecting companies that outsource jobs…..Republicans Obstruct Third Jobs Measure in Senate….and Brown supports Romney’s Tax Plan Which May Cost U.S. As Many As 800,000 Jobs: Report.

This is the party and agenda of Romney, Ryan, Akins, Erickson, Huckabee and Brown – Eight staggering Conservative Republican comments on rape and women

7. When women sign up for the military to hang out with aggressive dudes, they are asking to be raped. Notoriously anti-woman Fox News talking-head Liz Trotta wondered of enlisted women who were assaulted, “What did they expect?” She also blasted feminist calls for infrastructure and support to help the increasing number of women in this position. And refused to apologize.

8. Santorum and Huckabee are all about rape victims taking one for team “Life.” Let’s not forget our Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee, respectively, think rape victims should “make the best” of it and see the unwanted child as a gift and sometimes cool people are conceived in rape.

 

Krugman has a good blog post up today on the relentless Medicare –  Mediscare campaign of Romney-Ryan ( which many down ticket conservatives have adopted as talking points) – Understanding Medicare “Cuts”

Jackie Calmes has a very good piece about those Medicare “cuts” Romney promises to repeal. As she emphasizes, all of these involve reductions in payments to insurance companies and health providers, rather than reductions in patient benefits. So what are we talking about?

Sarah Kliff had a good summary. Most of the proposed savings come from reducing overpayments to Medicare Advantage and reducing reimbursement rates to hospitals.

What should you know about these changes?

Medicare Advantage is a 15-year failed experiment in privatization. Running Medicare through private insurance companies was supposed to save money through the magic of the marketplace; in reality, private insurers, with their extra overhead, have never been able to compete on a level playing field with conventional Medicare. But Congress refused to take no for an answer, and kept the program alive by paying the insurers substantially more than the costs per patient of regular Medicare. All the ACA does is end this overpayment.

City Plan For Philadelphia, Pennsylvania1776 – Paul Ryan Is As Morally Corrupt As Mitt Romney

City Plan For Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1776

1776 was a big year for the City of Brotherly Love.  The delegates to the Continental Congress started the Declaration of Independence. That sounds awkward since we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, but the Declaration was not completed until August. Even then Philadelphia was an American melting pot with native Indians, English, a large German population ( very resistant to adopting English as their official language), African-Americans and some Scottish-Irish settlers. The Pennsylvania territory was the third largest concentration of settlers in America at the time. Philadelphia is estimated to have had a total population of about 30,000. Today’s population is an estimated 1.6 million.

Hudson and East Rivers Chart as of 1812. This year was the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

 

Today in August 18,1920: 19th Amendment is ratified guaranteeing women the right to vote.

 

Rep. Ryan’s Undeserved Reputation for Fiscal Responsibility – His Votes in Congress Added $6.8 Trillion to Our Nation’s Federal Deficits

The reputation of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as a fiscal hawk is at odds with his record of supporting nearly every single budget-busting law of the past decade. Since 2001 he has voted for at least 65 separate pieces of deficit- and debt-increasing legislation, with the total tab for all those votes a whopping $6.8 trillion in cumulative deficits.

Rep. Ryan has served as a member of the House of Representatives since 1998. That year the budget was in surplus and stayed that way for the next three years. But with the start of the George W. Bush administration came the return of the red ink. In January 2001, before any Bush administration policies had been passed, the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, was projecting budget surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion over following decade. Instead, we got cumulative deficits totaling $6.1 trillion, an $11.7 trillion difference. CBO estimates that laws passed by Congress and signed by Presidents Bush and Barack Obama are responsible for $8.5 trillion of that difference. Rep. Ryan cast his vote for about 80 percent of that $8.5 trillion.

….Rep. Ryan also voted numerous times to increase nondefense spending. Of course, the most well-known of these votes was on Medicare Part D, which added over $270 billion in unpaid-for spending. But there are many lesser-known examples. In 2002 he voted for an agriculture bill that added $80 billion to the deficit. He voted for changes to military retirement in 2003 that cost $20 billion in added spending. And he voted for increased borrowing authority for flood insurance that increased federal spending by $17 billion.

Medicare Part D was a very good and very public display of how conservatives are like corrupt kids in a candy store when they holds the spending reigns. While most Americans thought a drug benefits for seniors and the disabled was past due, conservatives managed to make it both a gift to their friends in the pharmaceutical industry and not pay for their spending. The other most obvious example for Ryan and Republicans of the Bush era was Iraq and Afghanistan. In both instances like the responsible brats they are, they left the bill to be paid by someone else down the line. They know the public gets into a throw everyone out mood every other election cycle. By that time the bills have not only increased, but just like any credit, the interests must be paid as well.

All told, Rep. Ryan voted in favor of increasing federal spending by $3.2 trillion—all without offsetting the costs. Combined with his support for $2.4 trillion in tax cuts, Ryan’s votes contributed to adding trillions of dollars to the national debt, which itself led to more spending as the interest payments on that debt grew. Put it all together, and Rep. Ryan voted for over $6.8 trillion worth of cumulative deficits over the past 11 years.

But…but…but look at the deficit now, its all Obama’s fault. No, not really. To pay off the debts left by Paul Ryan and his pals you need revenue. Government revenue in relation to GDP is, like taxes, the lowest they have been in decades. Conservatives want everyone to believe we can run a civilized nation with a necessarily large intense infrastructure without paying for it. Which is like a candidate promising free donuts, caviar and unicorns for everyone and you don’t have to pay for it, except for those cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, medical research, preparing for climate change and so on and on. As everyone knows at this point, quite a few adult age Americans believe, deeply and angrily, that they can have it all without paying for it. Thus they buy the new improved Republican snake oil the next election cycle, forgetting how it did not work the last go round.

Rep. Paul Ryan(R-WI) has jumped on the Fox News Bandwagon of Denial. He is just going to pretend that the whole financial meltdown happened after President Obama was elected. This is just another way of Ryan saying that he thinks the USA is filled with morons who he has such contempt for he will not even bother with a plausible lie, Ryan criticizes Obama on ’08 GM plant closure from before he took office. If he can get away with glowing neon red lies, Ryan’s moral standards permit that, Paul Ryan denied he sought stimulus funds – Questioned, he acknowledges his requests

After seeking millions of dollars from a stimulus spending program he had publicly opposed as wasteful, GOP vice presidential candidate and congressman Paul Ryan repeatedly denied making the requests, first on a Boston radio station in 2010 and again Wednesday in a television interview.

Audio from 2010 provided Thursday by WBZ indicates that Ryan, responding to a caller, said that he would not vote against something and “then write to the government to ask them to send us money.” He added: “I did not request any stimulus money.”

He repeated that response this week in an interview with Cincinnati’s WCPO-TV. “No, I never asked for stimulus,” he said, adding, “I don’t recall.”

But Thursday evening, Ryan acknowledged having sent the letters above his signature. “After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled. This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that.”

…“Those are different than getting assistance for a company in the district and getting $20 million,” he said.

But Ellis said a bigger question is why Ryan signed the letters if he didn’t know what they were requesting and why.

One would hope that lawmakers are engaged when they are asking the federal government for money,” he said. “Due diligence is required on something they are affixing their signature to.”

Use your imagination to speculate how low, how corrupt, how immoral, how seedy, how tawdry conservatives can be, and they will always sink lower than your imagination. Anti-Obama Navy SEAL leader: I’m a Birther

President Barack Obama is a socialist, was raised by communists, and wasn’t born in the United States, according to the former Navy SEAL who founded the group Special Operations Speaks (SOS), which aims to portray Obama as anti-military in this election season.

…”I have to admit that I’m a Birther,” said SOS founder Larry Bailey, a retired 27-year veteran of the Navy SEALs, in an interview. “If there were a jury of 12 good men and women and the evidence were placed before them, there would be absolutely no question Barack Obama was not born where he said he was and is not who he says he is.”

Well Larry, try to keep up, its not 2007 anymore. There have been several court cases brought by birther and they have lost everyone. The Supreme Court including the extreme Right Justice Scalia refused to hear a birther case because it lacked merit. I’m related to an actual SEAL and  the conservatives Larry represents do nothing but bring shame on them.

I thought Vice President Biden’s recent comments about conservatives trying to put American workers in chains was a fair description of conservative economic policies that are destroying much of the middle-class and creating a plutocratic cabal of wage slave masters at the top. Apparently the right’s allergy to anything resembling honest descriptions of their agenda had their feelings hurt, so they went ballistic over a false report of the smiley-faced fascists at The Daily Caller and The Drudge Report, Conservative Republican Media Falsely Claim Obama Donor Received Taxpayer Loan

Fox & Friends, the Daily Caller, and the Drudge Report are falsely charging that a businessman that has supported President Obama and Vice President Biden is receiving a taxpayer-financed loan to expand his business overseas. In fact, the loan comes from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which does not use taxpayer funds, and exists for the purpose of helping “U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets” overseas.

The Daily Caller charged:

In late July, John Hynansky — a longtime friend of Vice President Joe Biden, and a major donor to Biden’s campaigns as well as President Barack Obama’s — was awarded a $20 million taxpayer loan to build a foreign-car dealership in Ukraine.

Drudge highlighted this false claim with the headline, “Biden’s ‘good friend’ receives $20M federal loan to open luxury car dealership — in Ukraine.” And Fox News also hyped this claim with co-host Gretchen Carlson saying: “Talk about friends in high places. A major donor to President Obama’s campaign getting $20 million in taxpayer money to build a luxury car dealership in the Ukraine.”

However, the claim that this loan uses taxpayer money is false. The Overseas Private Investment Corporation states that it is “the U.S. Government’s development finance institution” and “helps U.S. businesses gain footholds in emerging markets.” While it receives administrative funding from Congress, OPIC “operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers” and has actually reduced the federal budget deficit for 34 consecutive years:

Are OPIC services U.S. taxpayer-funded?

OPIC operates on a self-sustaining basis at no net cost to American taxpayers. In fact, it generated net income of $269 million in Fiscal Year 2011, helping to reduce the federal budget deficit for the 34th consecutive year.

Indeed, during the early 1980s, OPIC returned the taxpayer money used to start up the agency to President Reagan. At the time, Reagan praised OPIC for helping advance the cause of economic freedom in the world.

The Daily Caller, Fox, and Drudge also highlight Hynansky’s political contributions and relationship to Biden, but at no point do they present evidence that these donations or his friendship with Biden had any effect on his loan application.

Mustard Flowers Field wallpaper – Romney’s Unethical MediScare: No, “ObamaCare” Doesn’t Cut Medicare, It Strengthens Benefits And Cuts Costs

Mustard Flowers Field wallpaper

 

Some of you might want to skip today’s post since it is just a wonkier repeat of the last post about the Romney-Ryan-Medicare disinformation campaign. Getting the facts straight about Medicare are not just about Medicare. With new ads by Romney, Super PACs backing Romney and Republicans down ticket doing imitation ads that use the Romney attack ( the $700 billion dollar lie), conservatives are hoping for a couple of things. They hope to blunt the valid criticisms of Romney-Ryan plans that would gut Medicare as we know it. White seniors in particular tend to lean Republican by about ten percentage points. Republicans are very afraid that if voters start to see that Obama and Democrats are telling the truth about Medicare that could peel off a few percent of that senior vote. While Obama is currently ahead in polls, picking up just two or three percent more of the senior vote would mean the end of the Romney campaign. Between the bought and paid for TV pundits for Romney, the radio shills for Romney, the blogs and newspaper columnists the noise level of the far Right propaganda machine is at record levels. They’re afraid. Very afraid. The facts are not on their side. They hope to create enough confusion that they at least limit the damage. With Ryan on the ticket conservatives may have gotten their ideological hero of the moment, but in addition to threatening their chances at the presidency they have likely lost any chance they had of retaking the Senate and it is just barely possible they may lose their majority in the House. The latter depends on how well local Democrats are able to counter the $700 billion lie. Medicare Scare Ad Makes False Claim of Cuts for Seniors

“There are no reductions in the Medicare benefits promised in law,” said Gail Wilensky, who served as administrator of the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare under President George H.W. Bush and is a senior fellow at Project Hope, a health-research organization in Virginia. In a June 28 post FactCheck.org similarly concluded that the ACA “stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won’t be reduced.”

[  ]….In Missouri, an ad sponsored by Crossroads that’s run 858 times says Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill voted for Medicare cuts that could slash benefits for the program’s enrollees.

The ACA or Obamacare actually strengthened Medicare finances.

How Obama and Democrats Helped Save Medicare. While part of a much longer analysis this chart comes from this mercifully short summary, Health Reform Strengthens Medicare, Doesn’t “Rob” It

The 2010 health reform law (the Affordable Care Act, or ACA) has significantly improved Medicare’s long-term financial outlook, as we have previously pointed out.  Recent claims that health reform “robs Medicare” and does not “shore up Medicare’s finances” are flatly false, as the recent report of the program’s trustees shows.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the ACA will reduce Medicare’s projected spending by $716 billion over the 2013-2023 period.  As John McDonough of Harvard’s School of Public Health explains:  “None of these reductions were financed by cuts to Medicare enrollees’ eligibility or benefits; benefits were improved in the ACA.  Cuts were focused on hospitals, health insurers, home health, and other providers.”

The words cut, cuts, savings, and costs are getting the Republican doublespeak treatment. Romney and all the ads say Obama cut $700 from Medicare. What Democrats did was cut waste, increased incentives for cost savings and built-in incentives for insurers and health care providers to be careful about cost overruns. If you are one to believe the river of conservative bilge pumped out everyday, you might be tempted to think, well saving money and increasing efficiency, isn’t that what conservatives say they stand for. According to Romney and  his surrogates, apparently not.

Because those cost savings aspects in Medicare are tied into Obamacare, for Romney to just return that $700 billion as he promises in his ads, he would have to get both Houses of Congress to repeal Obamacare and the changes to Medicare. Let’s say that Romney has those kinds of dictatorial powers. That means he would in fact add $700 billion to the cost of Medicare.

The trustees also find that the HI trust fund will remain solvent — that is, able to pay 100 percent of the costs of the hospital insurance coverage that Medicare provides — through 2024.  If health reform were fully repealed, however, as the House of Representatives has voted to do, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that the Medicare hospital insurance program would become insolvent eight years earlier, in 2016.

What I’ve written thus far is the foundation of the issue. Romney is lying. Ryan is lying. Republicans down ticket, scared to death of Ryan’s radical plans and the effect on the senior vote are lying. I wonder about the Medicare conservative propaganda campaign in the larger framework of Republicans as the so-called party of values. It is not just Medicare, Social Security ( which Ryan and Romney have proposed privatizing and handing over to the professional thieves on Wall Street), Iraq, tax cuts creating jobs and ordinary working Americans should not have any labor rights. If you could cast some kind of birthday wish come true like the Jim Carrey character in Liar Liar, the conservative movement could not exist. The conservative movement rarely plays it straight with the American public. There are some exceptions. They really do hate government which is why they have no interest in or make any effort to better the governance of the nation or states. If they fail in their governance they don’t really lose – it’s see, government is bad. Except that is a lie as well. Romney used two businesses that rely on government contracts to stay in business in the deceptive editing of President Obama’s business speech. The Paul Ryan family built its fortune on tax payer funded projects. Romney received government subsides to make his fortune. Some of Romney’s first backers when he started Bain were associated with right-wing death squads in Latin America. Values? What values.

ABC news does an awkward fact check, again using the word ‘cuts’, FACT CHECK: Obama, Ryan, Romney Backed Medicare Cuts

One way or another, Barack Obama, Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney all have supported the $700 billion in cuts to Medicare spending now in place under the Affordable Care Act.

But you wouldn’t know that by listening to the current debate.

The Romney-Ryan campaign in its latest TV ad assails Obama for approving the cuts in 2010. “Obama has cut $716 billion dollars from Medicare,” says the narrator. “The money you paid for your guaranteed health care…is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you.”

Voters might be left with the impression that Romney and Ryan have both opposed the cuts. The truth is that Ryan himself endorses them in his signature budget plan – the same plan Romney has said he would sign as president if it reached his desk.

Those Medicare savings -achieved through reduced provider reimbursements and curbed waste, fraud and abuse, not benefit cuts – appear in the House Republicans’ FY 2013 budget, which Ryan authored.

His plan would in part repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act — except the reductions in Medicare spending now at the center of debate, according to analysts with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Where Romney and Ryan find shelter for their new line of attack is in what they claim they’d do with the savings.  As the ad suggests, they don’t want the money to underwrite Obamacare, but for deficit reduction or other spending instead.

ABC lets them off the hook for the purely mythical savings of Obamacare repeal. That alone would add $230 billion to the deficit. Not to mention the millions of Americans that would suddenly lose their health care insurance because of the repeal of discrimination against preexisting conditions. Plus the added $700 billion in cost that Romney would add to the Medicare program and we’re darn close to Romney-Ryan costing the nation a little less than a trillion dollars. I’ve lost a lot of confidence in Politifact the last year, but since I have already verified the facts through other sources, kudos to them for getting this one mostly right, Ryan’s plan includes $700 billion in Medicare “cuts,” says Stephanie Cutter

Ryan’s idea is to eventually move Medicare toward private insurance companies by giving people a set amount to buy their own health insurance plans. The new system would be for people who are under age 55 now, and it would give them voucher-like credits to buy traditional fee-for-service Medicare or competing private insurance plans. (The credits are sometimes called “premium support.”)

Though House Republicans voted overwhelmingly for Ryan’s plan, polling shows public opinion is mixed, with older voters the most wary of the plan.

The Republican response to attacks on the Ryan plan has been to attack back, saying President Barack Obama has cut “$700 billion” out of Medicare. And the Democratic response to that: Well, Paul Ryan cuts that amount, too!

For this check, we’re looking specifically at what Obama campaign spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said on Face the Nation when debating Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom.

“You know, I heard Mitt Romney deride the $700 billion cuts in Medicare that the president achieved through health care reform,” Cutter said. “You know what those cuts are? It’s taking subsidies away from insurance companies, taking rebates away from prescription drug company. Is that what Mitt Romney wants to protect? And interestingly enough Paul Ryan protected those cuts in his budget.”

It is part of the Congressional Record(pdf) that Republicans in the House voted for Ryan the serial liar’s plan to gut Medicare.

Well, there are cuts and then there are CUTS. Neither Obama nor his health care law literally “cut” a dollar from the Medicare program’s budget.

Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to reduce the growth of Medicare costs. At the time the law was passed, those reductions amounted to $500 billion over the next 10 years.

What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.

Medicare Advantage was a kind of good idea. It was what is called a Medicare gap plan, paying for most of any cost that exceeded someone’s basic Medicare plan. The problem was that tax payers subsidized it and the private sector exploited the hell out of it. Seniors can still buy Medicare gap plans, they’re just no longer subsidized.

This is a good info-graphic from TPro that shows the absurdity of the Romney-Ryan attacks. Everything You Need To Know About Romney’s Dishonesty On Medicare

This week, the Romney/Ryan campaign has twisted itself into a pretzel attacking President Obama for “stealing” $716 billion from Medicare, while trying to explain why Paul Ryan included the savings in his FY 2013 budget.

The infographic below offers a rundown of the campaign’s contortions from Sunday’s proclamations that Romney would have signed the Ryan budget and its Medicare cuts into law, to Romney’s announcement on Tuesday that he would restore the Medicare savings that both Ryan and Obama supported:

The changing rhetoric also presents serious policy problems. Romney’s implied policy of steering clear of Medicare reductions would greatly complicate his goal of reducing all federal spending from 24 percent of the GDP to 20 percent by 2016, which would require unsustainable cuts to other government programs. His specific promise to restore the $716 billion will also backfire and shorten the life of the Medicare trust fund “toward the end of what would be his first term in office.” The campaign has not yet specified how it would extend its solvency.

full size