Lithograph of Great Lakes and Chicago – On Every Measure Democrats Beat Republicans on National Security

Lithograph of Great Lakes and LaSalle Str Chicago, Illinois. Around mid 1800s to 1872.

Buffalo & Chicago steam packet empire state: M. Hazard, Commander. [Currier & Ives between 1835 and 1856]. In the Chicago-Great lakes poster above, about center, is a picture of a “side wheeler”.

Intelligence office says it got Libya attack wrong, not White House

Extremists from groups linked to al Qaida struck the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack,” the top U.S. intelligence agency said Friday, as it took responsibility for the Obama administration’s initial claims that the deadly assault grew from a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video.

The unusual statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence appeared to have two goals: updating the public on the latest findings of the investigation into the assault, and shielding the White House from a political backlash over its original accounts.

“In the immediate aftermath (of the assault), there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo,” spokesman Sean Turner said in the statement. “We provided that initial assessment to executive branch officials and members of Congress, who used that information to discuss the attack publicly.”

[  ]…In his statement, Turner said that U.S. intelligence agencies’ understanding of what happened in Benghazi, Libya’s second largest city, has evolved as they’ve collected and analyzed information on the incident. “As we learned more about the attack, we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists,” he said.

“It remains unclear if any group or person exercised overall command and control of the attack, and if extremist group leaders directed their members to participate,” he said. “However, we do assess that some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to, al Qaida.”

Turner didn’t name a specific group. Other U.S. officials have said that they were focusing on the possible involvement of the North African affiliate of the terrorist network, al Qaida in the Maghreb, known as AQIM, and local Islamic militant groups.

The statement did not quiet the political backlash.

Shortly after it was issued, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., called for the resignation of Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who was the first senior official to detail the administration’s initial account that the attack was spontaneous during appearances on Sunday morning television talk shows.

King (R-NY) has a very relativistic moral compass when it comes to terrorism. King supports actual terrorism sometimes. His wishy washy moral bearings are typical of Republicans. If the AQIM attacks has occurred on Bush’s watch he and other conservatives would be claiming that just means they have that terrorists right where they want them, that by criticizing the president in a time of war they are being unpatriotic and undermining the war on terror, the criticism by conservative bloggers and politicians is telling the enemy that the U.S. is weak and will “cut and run”. As events and intelligence gathering evolve about any violent event, the facts frequently change. That conservatives would try to twist and exploit the news facts as they emerge is typical of the fetid morality of the conservative movement. They have never displayed much in the way of genuine concern or appropriate reactions to anything bad that happens within ten feet of a Democrat, one should not expect them to rise above it all and act like patriots intend of fevered nationalists out for blood.

What do the attacks on the Libyan Embassy compound mean. Conservatives are being comically absurd in their quest to shape the meaning. They claim this makes Obama weak on terrorism. This is from the same people who brought us the bloody war on terror. In which the deaths of Americans and innocent men, women and children reached historic heights from 2001 to 2008. Unless you listen to Glenn Greenwald who thinks Obama is  worse than Bush on inflicting civilian causalities (Glenn means well, but that is one of his weakest cases). Terrorist Attacks and Presidents

Terror attacks count by president

Terror fatalities by president

It is pretty clear that if one is willing to put partisan blindness aside – an impossible task for Republicans – Democrats hold a clear advantage on keeping Americans and innocent foreigners safe.

BUSH
(Not including Iraq and Aghanistan attacks, and abortion attacks)
1) September 11 (Domestic Islamic) – 2,992 fatalities
2) Karachi (Overseas Islamic) – 12 fatalities
3) Riyadh (Overseas Islamic) – 34 fatalities
4) Riyadh #2 (Overseas Islamic) – 22 fatalities
5) Riyadh #3 (Overseas Islamic) – 4 fatalities
6) Jeddah (Overseas Islamic) – 4 fatalities
7) Amman (Overseas Islamic) – 57 fatalities
8) Damascus (Overseas Islamic) – No fatalities
9) Athens (Overseas Islamic) – No fatalities
10) Algeria (Overseas Islamic) – 60 fatalities
11) LAX Shooting (Domestic Islamic) – 2 fatalities
12) Beltway Snipers (Domestic Islamic) – 10 fatalities
13) Anthrax (Domestic?) – 5 fatalities
14) Madrid (Overseas Islamic Allies) – 191 fatalities
15) London (Overseas Islamic Allies) – 56 fatalities
16) Chapel Hill SUV attack (Domestic Islamic) – No fatalities
17) Yemen (Overseas Islamic) – 16 fatalities
18) Mumbai, India (Overseas Islamic) – 190 fatalities

Bush did manipulate the country into Iraq, with some help from some Democrats and the media. So Bush and the conservative pundit warriors take take blame for these fatalities as well: 5,921 US military dead. 31,844 wounded in action, of which 13,954 were unable to return to duty within 72 hours. A conservative estimate of civilian Iraqi deaths is between 108,000 and 119,000. And let us remember the that Bush and Cheney were the great masterminds of terrorist fighting even if Bush did say,  “I don’t think you can win [the war on terror].” Mr. weak on terrorism, President Obama, certainly with the help of the Pentagon and CIA did kill Bin Laden, where as Bush Inc. lost Bin laden at Tora Bora. One of the reasons the CIA was able to relentlessly persue every Bin Laden lead during the Obama administration, is that the Obama White House resurrected the CIA’s Bin laden unit that Bush disbanded, July 4, 2006 – C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden.

President Obama and the team of intelligence experts he has put in place have done a remarkable job of tracking down and killing terrorists. The Terrorist Notches on Obama’s Belt

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) leader Anwar al-Awlaki as of today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is more at the link. It does not include bringing down Moammar Gaddafi. This is the same Moammar Gaddafi that Bush reached a diplomatic deal with. Actually Bush claimed credit for negotiations about WMD that had started during the Clinton administration. Republicans talk about national security the way teen punks talk about being tough in really bad 1950s teen exploitation movies. Look behind the curtain and they shouldn’t brag as much as they do, they just do not have the facts, the real outcomes to back them up. And just a reminder that Republican Robert Gates was SecDef until 2011. A name that conservatives in 2007 tossed around as a potential presidential candidate. If conservatives want to make the case that President Obama has done a terrible job, they also simultaneously make the case that one of their own is incompetent terrorist appeaser.

To casual observers it may seem like conservatives are maintaining a constant level of shrill paranoia, false and sleazy accusations and generally immoral behavior. It is not a scientific measurement, but comparing what I read at conservative blogs, conservative newspaper columns and listen to from conservative media, the spin on Benghazi, Libya is especially shrill,  as is the following story because they sense they are not going to have a huge win this election cycle. Nothing whines as loud as a conservative scorned at the ballot box. They think, within the nice safe bubble of the Republican echo chambers that all the trends, the “facts” are on their side and are panicked to find out that sane America disagrees. With ‘Dreams From My Real Father,’ Have Obama Haters Hit Rock Bottom?

After four years of invective, four years during which the right has called President Obama a traitor, a communist, a fraud, an affirmative-action case, a terrorist-sympathizer, and a tyrant, its shrillest voices have been reduced to the most primal insult of all. They are calling Obama’s mother a whore.

For a while now, pictures purporting to show Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, modeling in 1950s bondage and fetish porn have been floating around the darker corners of the Internet. Now, though, they’ve made their way into a pseudo-documentary, Joel Gilbert’s Dreams From My Real Father, which is being mailed to voters in swing states, promoted by several Tea Party groups and by at least one high-level Republican. At the same time, Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, Obama’s America—the first of all his works to hit the top spot on The New York Times bestseller list—has a chapter essentially calling Dunham a fat slut. If Obama is reelected, it’s hard to imagine where the right goes from here.

It’s tempting to ignore Dreams From My Real Father because it’s so preposterous. The movie claims that Obama’s actual father was the poet and left-wing activist Frank Marshall Davis, who Dunham met through her father, who was a CIA agent merely posing as a furniture salesman.

That stench in the air is desperation mixed with the moral decay that is the conservative movement. CNN Lets Dinesh D’Souza Peddle Conspiracy Theory That Obama Is “Anti-American”

Conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza appeared on CNN this morning to reinforce the message of his error-laden and factually inaccurate movie, 2016: Obama’s America, attacking President Obama as “anti-American” and claiming he has “embraced a Third World ideology.”

While CNN host Zoraida Sambolin pressed D’Souza to explain his accusations, she offered no pushback to D’Souza’s outlandish claims about Obama’s character nor did she point out the discredited claims contained in his movie.

If I had the time and artistic talent I’d draw a political cartoon of elected Democrats and candidates in this election cycle standing with their arms folded, looking forward, with frenzied Republicans throwing the kitchen sink, dirty socks and anything that can grab to throw at them.

Romnesia is “A potent myth is being used to justify economic capture by a parasitic class”

Old Explorer Map and Compass wallpaper

Occasionally I’m not going to list the daily graphic in the post title. Just assume that almost everyday I post there will be some kind of graphic – wallpaper, map, historical photograph etc.

By way of Mike Norman Economics an explanation of a new word that is defining this election cycle, Romnesia: The Ability of the Very Rich to Forget the Context in Which They Made Their Money

A potent myth is being used to justify economic capture by a parasitic class.

We could call it Romnesia: the ability of the very rich to forget the context in which they made their money. To forget their education, inheritance, family networks, contacts and introductions. To forget the workers whose labour enriched them. To forget the infrastructure and security, the educated workforce, the contracts, subsidies and bail-outs the government provided.

Every political system requires a justifying myth. The Soviet Union had Alexey Stakhanov, the miner reputed to have extracted 100 tonnes of coal in six hours. The United States had Richard Hunter, the hero of Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches tales(1).

Both stories contained a germ of truth. Stakhanov worked hard for a cause in which he believed, but his remarkable output was probably faked(2). When Alger wrote his novels, some poor people had become very rich in the United States. But the further from its ideals (productivity in the Soviet Union’s case, opportunity in the US) a system strays, the more fervently its justifying myths are propounded.

One of the things the notorious Romney video implied, a prejudice about how U.S. economic culture works, was that Romney would not be your president, but there was little reason for the 47% to work hard, because hey, you’re going nowhere fast. While getting as much education as possible and having a good work ethic still increase one’s chances of moving up the economic ladder, upward mobility is not what it used to be in the U.S. –

 But the reality is very different, according to a University of Michigan researcher who is studying inequality across generations around the world.

“Especially in the United States, people underestimate the extent to which your destiny is linked to your background. Research shows that it’s really a myth that the U.S. is a land of exceptional social mobility,” said Fabian Pfeffer, a sociologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research and the organizer of an international conference on inequality across multiple generations being held … in Ann Arbor.

Pfeffer’s own research illustrates this point based on data on two generations of families in the U.S. and a comparison of his findings to similar data from Germany and Sweden. … He found that parental wealth plays an important role in whether children move up or down the socioeconomic ladder in adulthood. And that parental wealth has an influence above and beyond the three factors that sociologists and economists have traditionally considered in research on social mobility—parental education, income, and occupation.

“Wealth not only fulfills a purchasing function, allowing families to buy homes in good neighborhoods and send their children to costly schools and colleges, for example, but it also has an insurance function, offering a sort of private safety net that gives children a very different set of choices as they enter the adult world,” Pfeffer said.

“Despite the widespread belief that the U.S. provides exceptional opportunities for upward mobility, these data show that parental wealth has an important role in shielding offspring from downward mobility and sustaining their upward mobility in the U.S…”

Recent findings show that children from low income families even have a biological disadvantage with genes affected by income. Obviously some people make in spite of these hurdles, but they are the exception, not the rule. Back to Romnesia,

The crudest exponent of Romnesia is the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart. “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she insists. “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain; do something to make more money yourselves – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socialising and more time working … Remember our roots, and create your own success.”(3)

Remembering her roots is what Rinehart fails to do. She forgot to add that if you want to become a millionaire – in her case a billionaire – it helps to inherit an iron ore mine and a fortune from your father, and to ride a spectacular commodities boom. Had she spent her life lying in bed and throwing darts at the wall, she would still be stupendously rich.

The rich lists are stuffed with people who either inherited their money or who made it through rent-seeking activities: by means other than innovation and productive effort. They’re a catalogue of speculators, property barons, dukes, IT monopolists, loansharks, bank chiefs, oil sheikhs, mining magnates, oligarchs and chief executives paid out of all proportion to any value they generate.

Looters, in short. The richest mining barons are those to whom governments sold natural resources for a song. Russian, Mexican and British oligarchs acquired underpriced public assets through privatisation, and now run a toll-booth economy(4). Bankers use incomprehensible instruments to fleece their clients and the taxpayer. But as rentiers capture the economy, the opposite story must be told.

Scarcely a Republican speech fails to reprise the Richard Hunter narrative, and almost all these rags-to-riches tales turn out to be bunkum. “Everything that Ann and I have,” Mitt Romney claims, “we earned the old-fashioned way”(5). Old-fashioned like Blackbeard perhaps. Two searing exposures in Rolling Stone magazine document the leveraged buyouts which destroyed viable companies, value and jobs(6), and the costly federal bail-out which saved Romney’s political skin(7).

Romney personifies economic parasitism. The financial sector has become a job-destroying, home-breaking, life-crushing machine, which impoverishes other people to enrich itself. The tighter its grip on politics, the more its representatives must tell the opposite story: of life-affirming enterprise, innovation and investment, of brave entrepreneurs making their fortunes out of nothing but grit and wit.

Let’s say that current poll trends continue. President Obama is reelected, Democrats have a small majority in the senate and Republicans mange to eck out a majority of House seats. Will that mean we’ll make any great strides in undoing forty years of the supply-side nightmare. NO, but we might make some incremental progress. We might have as many as three new Supreme Court Justices that will reconsider Citizen’s United, making it more difficult for billionaires to influence elections. Democrats and Obama were very successful with their pro middle-class legislative agenda in 2009. All of those victories for the middle-class is what pissed off the tea smokers. Go figure. There is nothing wring with incremental progress. I know we live in the age of the internet when news that happened two months ago is two years in internet time. But real progress has been historically slow. It was about 400 years as feudal lords and peasants system ended before than was such a thing as upward mobility. It was not until around 1850 that the average American could reasonably expect to have more education and material comforts than their parents. Even then it was not until the New Deal of the 1930s that America had the great expansion of the middle-class. One that most Americans now take for granted. That is they see the middle-class a something that has always been here during their lifetimes. It is assumed it appeared of its own accord and will somehow magically remain. It is taxes and the subsequent expenditures on education, scientific research, health care and other infrastructure that makes the middle-class possible. Once obtained we all have to work and think smart to keep it, but it can obviously be taken away by Wall Street parasites and their partners in crime, the political plutocrats.

I know that Romney is really ahead in the polls by 118% today and the liberal media is covering up that fact, but let’s just suppose he is behind and ask ourselves why. Sept 26, 2012 – Romney Campaign Now Says They Probably Won’t Do Their Tax Cuts After All. Sept 27, 2012 – Romney Campaign: No, We’re Not Backing Off Our Tax Plan. Having a clear and at least somewhat consistent message is a big part of what defines a political campaign in the public’s eyes. Imagine the mythical small town diner and two conservatives discussing Romney’s tax plan. Who is right the one arguing that Romney is going to cut taxes again for millionaires or the one that says Romney has abandoned that because the numbers do not add up for his plans to tackle the deficit.

I keep hearing/reading conservatives who are at a loss to explain why Romney-Ryan are not ahead in the polls by 10% or more. While part of the reason this has become the whine of the moment is the deafening affects of the conservative bubble of self delusion, the other part is that Romney is warmed over George W. Bush. The question conservatives should be asking themselves is how far behind they would be if they had to stop the politics of character assassination and run a public policy-truth based political campaign. With  the acknowledgement that Democrats are running at least a half counter-attack campaign. Over Labor Day weekend I only watched a few hours of TV. In that short time I saw half a dozen pro Romney attack ads – either from him or his PACs. Larry McCarthy, the Missing Link?

McCarthy, whom I profiled for the magazine, is best known for the notoriously race-baiting Willie Horton ad he made in 1988 that helped annihilate Michael Dukakis’s chances. Floyd Brown, a conservative Republican operative, described McCarthy to me as the Party’s “secret weapon.” The Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who has known McCarthy for years, went one step further, saying of McCarthy, “If you want an assassination, you hire one of the best marksmen in history.”

Recent F.E.C. filings show that McCarthy’s tiny Washington, D.C.,-based firm, McCarthy Hennings Media Inc., has been simultaneously involved in producing anti-Obama ads for Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit “social welfare” group masterminded by the Republican political operative Karl Rove; the separate nonprofit “social welfare” group Americans for Prosperity, co-founded and partly funded by the conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch; and Restore Our Future, the main pro-Romney Super PAC. The filings show that during August and the beginning of September, McCarthy’s firm is identified as the “media production” company for $21.8 million worth of ad buys by Americans for Prosperity, a $21.7 million worth of ad buys for Restore Our Future, and $7. 1 million worth of ad buys for Crossroads GPS. Cumulatively, as the Times reported, these outside ads have filled huge gaps for Romney’s campaign, not just supplementing his campaign’s ad buys but at times outspending them.

Remember during the primaries when Newt Gingrich had his surge. That was partly Sheldon Adelson’s millions, but was also due to McCarthy Hennings Media Inc. Obviously Democrats did not knock out Newt. It was hit-man McCarthy. All of those ads I saw, with the only correct fact in them being that Barrack Obama is the President, came out of the Big Lie machine at McCarthy Hennings Media. If we had fact based, publicly financed presidential campaigns, Romney would be down to the hardcore wingers at 30%. The Right is playing the victim card about allegedly rigged polling even as they dominate every media. It could be you can only put so much lipstick on a pig and tell so may cowardly lies.

 

NEW ROMNEY VIDEO: In 1985, He Said Bain Would “Harvest” Companies for Profits

But this short clip offers a glimpse of Romney when he was at the start of his private equity career and saw businesses as targets of opportunity that could be harvested for the benefit of his investors, not as long-term job creators or participants in a larger community. His remarks were hardly surprising, but they did encapsulate the mindset of get-in/get-out private equity deal makers.

Black and White Sea Shell wallpaper – “whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot”

Black and White Sea Shell wallpaper

 

I could do a post on the conservative noise machine and their claim that Romney is really leading in the polls by 176%, but the pollster have a liberal bias. Then I decided to post about something more interesting and fact based. This is a devastating view of the Romney class of plutocrats from a conservative web site, Revolt of the Rich, Our financial elites are the new secessionists. By Mike Lofgren

I do not mean secession by physical withdrawal from the territory of the state, although that happens from time to time—for example, Erik Prince, who was born into a fortune, is related to the even bigger Amway fortune, and made yet another fortune as CEO of the mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater, moved his company (renamed Xe) to the United Arab Emirates in 2011. What I mean by secession is a withdrawal into enclaves, an internal immigration, whereby the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot.

Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension—and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?

Being in the country but not of it is what gives the contemporary American super-rich their quality of being abstracted and clueless. Perhaps that explains why Mitt Romney’s regular-guy anecdotes always seem a bit strained. I discussed this with a radio host who recounted a story about Robert Rubin, former secretary of the Treasury as well as an executive at Goldman Sachs and CitiGroup.

Conservationism’s krazy uncle Sheldon Adelson lives in the U.S. but most of his billions come from Asia. Romney of course has offshore accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. Sure most of the plutocrats live here, but they’re not really here when they live 20 stories up in multi-million dollar penthouse condos and security guarded gated communities. It is one of the reasons they are willing to pander to the conservative mullahs like Ralph Reed ( who was part of the web of Jack Abramoff’s corruption and is back in action to help Romney). Congress can pass all the legislation they like to restrict personal decisions about health – the elite will always be able to buy whatever medical service they want here or fly to where they can get it. Stephen Schwarzman is the hedge fund billionaire CEO of the Blackstone Group. He has billions. When he gets up in the morning he doesn’t have to worry about not having health insurance, whether he can get a second job to pay for his kid’s dental work or how he is going to get out from under an underwater mortgage. His every material needs can be met several times over. Yet he complains about working Americans who pay no federal income tax, “You have to have skin in the game. I’m not saying how much people should do. But we should all be part of the system.” Those people, what Schwarzman thinks of as the ungrateful peasants are the system. He and his cohorts think because they move vast sums of money around, make decisions that can and have crashed multiple economies, that they are the producers. That we would not survive without them. As Lincoln once said,”Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation.” Conservatism has come to stand against this progress, this view of the economic ties between labor and capital as a drag on the John Galts of industry, the producers like Romney and Schwarzman. Everyone else should be on one knee being grateful for these great men for moving money around. Money that at its root is a bet that labor can produce goods that will make the elites money. This is not solely an argument about wages, it is more generally about the social contract. The plutocrats who see themselves, amplified by media puppets like Fox News as exempt from contributing to the betterment of the nation via bridges, universities and government research. They have come to regard the public infrastructure with very little regard. Taken to its logical conclusion this secession from democracy and revival of a new kind of monarchism might last for a while just because they have convinced so many median income working class folks – especially in the South, to act against their own rational self interests. Romney and friends may not actually believe stuff like this, but they love and encourage it – Conservative Group Claims Obama Has ‘Communist Beliefs,’ Compares His Policies To Hitler’s

The mailer, a product of the Faith and Freedom coalition, is titled the “Voter Registration Confirmation Survey.” But its questions have little to do with registering to vote. Rather, the survey asks a host of leading inquries into how its members view the President’s record.

The options prompt the most extreme answers — with very few moderate or supportive possibilities:

As Mother Jones, who obtained the survey, points out, the Faith and Freedom coalition and particularly its head Ralph Reed are leading the effort to turn out Evangelical voters for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The group plans to spend over $10 million for this purpose.

Romney has praised Reed for his turnout efforts, saying, “Ralph Reed is doing a great job here with the Faith & Freedom Coalition. This is going to make a big impact across America and I appreciate the work you are doing here.” The Presidential candidate even gave Reed the ultimate honor of sharing a hotel with him during the convention.

Democratic bloggers and pundits could have it much easier. Just do what Republicans do, make stuff up and spit it out pretending that the bile constitutes some well-considered thought. In the real world the only Nazis are ones that side with conservatives – Neo-Nazi Minuteman ( who was running for sheriff as a Republican and supported by the state Republican Party) kills 4, himself in AZ.

 

Just in case anyone is interested in how to win an argument, just make up a position your opponent has never stood for, make the argument as wildly ridiculous as possible and proceed as though… I don’t know, was sitting  in an empty chair, Fox Wins Straw-Man Argument Against Taxing Millionaires At 100 Percent

Fox News is distorting President Obama’s economic agenda by pushing the straw-man argument that taxing the entirety of millionaires’ incomes would fund the government for less than three months. In fact, Obama has proposed no such thing, and this Republican talking point obscures the billions in revenue that would be generated from letting the Bush tax cuts expire for wealthy households.

[  ]…Steve Moore: “There Just Aren’t Enough Rich People, There Are Not Enough Millionaires And Billionaires To Pay The Bills.” Wall Street Journal editor and frequent Fox guest Steve Moore agreed with MacCallum’s straw-man argument and stated:

MOORE: Right, and that assumes that people would still work and still invest and you’d still have rich people if you took 100% of their money. But you’re right, there’s just, and the problem of course, Martha, is there just aren’t enough rich people, there are not enough millionaires and billionaires to pay the bills. [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 9/24/12]

…Elizabeth MacDonald: “Taxing Millionaires At 100% Would Now Run The Federal Government For Two And A Half To Three Months.”

Did anyone else just get a little misty eyed at the prospect of the persecuted wealthy who might be taxed at a 100% rate in Fox Fantasyland. The only real proposal on the table, goodness forbid, is to raise taxes on millionaires to the same rate they were during the Clinton administration. Obama has said he would keep the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250k. Yes, Obama is surely the clone of Hitler.

Cornell University law professor William Jacobson, who writes the ridiculous blog Legal In.sur.rec.tion, has jumped the proverbial shark in his smear of Massachusetts senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, No, Elizabeth Warren Did Not Engage in the Unauthorized Practice of Law

At Legal In.sur.rec.tion, Professor Jacobson contends that Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Senate candidate, liberal firebrand, and Harvard law professor, has  engaged or appears to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the state of Massachusetts.  In support, Professor Jacobson points to numerous briefs either filed by Ms. Warren or with her listed as being “of counsel” in various federal courts around the country in which her office address is listed as being in Massachusetts.

[  ]…In making his arguments, Professor Jacobson makes a fatal error by assuming that merely preparing legal briefs in (seemingly non-Massachusetts) federal cases or providing advice on federal law while located in Massachusetts and maintaining a primary office in Massachusetts constitutes the “practice of law in Massachusetts.”    Although he cites several cases for this proposition, these cases do not go nearly as far as Professor Jacobson assumes, as they each involve cases wholly within the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts courts, specifically Massachusetts real estate transactions and Massachusetts probate matters.

He further errs in deeming “on point” a 1976 case in which the Massachusetts state bar issued an ethics opinion prohibiting a law firm from listing a “Boston Office” address on its letterhead where the firm lacked any Massachusetts-admitted attorneys but instead sought to claim that a Massachusetts firm with which it had a relationship falling short of an “associate” or “partnership” relationship constituted its “Boston Office.”   This case, however, is not “on point,” as it is not an unauthorized practice of law case but is instead a misleading communications case in which the firm was prohibited from “holding itself out to the public” as having a Massachusetts office.  Jacobson incorrectly assumes that merely listing an office location in a court filing, rather than a communication “to the public” constitutes “holding oneself out to the public” as being licensed in the jurisdiction in which one’s office is located.

But most importantly, Professor Jacobson ignores Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5(d), which states that:

“A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that…are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.”

The Official Comments to Rule 5.5(d) further elaborate to make explicit that 5.5(d) permits such an attorney to have even a “systematic and continuous presence in [Massachusetts] for the practice of law as well as provide legal services on a temporary basis.”

And further, more astute legal minds than Jacobson here, Does Elizabeth Warren Have a Law License Problem?

UPDATE (2:30 PM): There’s additional discussion of possible defenses over at the National Review Online (gavel bang: commenter). As one NRO reader notes, “The post indicates that this is a federal case. You do not need to be licensed to practice law in Massachusetts to practice law in federal courts located in Massachusetts or anywhere else. Federal courts decide who can practice before them, and individual states can’t tell federal courts that an attorney cannot practice before them.”

I’m not sure of the exact points at which this becomes not just a simple case of a partisan voicing an opinion and has reached the point of legal defamation. Defamation, in this instance by Jacobson, libel by written statement on the web that is a false claim or statement of fact about another person that harms his or her reputation. Being an attorney Jacobson is well aware of the malicious falsehood of his bizarre statements against Warren, so he cannot plead ignorance. I wonder at what point Cornell University and New York Bar Association ethics inquiries kick in. It is from his standing at that university and his professional credentials on which he is resting the authority of his statements – see who I am, my opinion carries extra weight. I cannot imagine that the university is too pleased at hearing about the professors sleazy ethics.

Currier & Ives Hues of autumn on the Racquet River – Mitt Romney’s Tax Reurns and Conservative Spin Show a Movement Out of Touch With Most Americans

Hues of autumn on the Racquet River by Currier & Ives. Published between 1856 and 1907. Hand colored as all Currier & Ives lithographs were. They had a small army of colorists, mostly women. They would work in an assembly line like manner with each colorists adding blues, greens, browns and so forth until it was finished. Currier & Ives work has grown on me over the years. Overly idealized in some ways, but that is the way our memory works looking back on special times and events in our lives.

American railroad scene. Snow bound. Lith. By Currier & Ives, 1872. Anyone watching Hell on Wheels. That would be a more accurate description of the eastern leg of U.S. railroad expansion. This lithograph looks almost like a scene from The Polar Express. It might well have been a relief to work in the snow rather the heat of the summer. Earning about $35 a month ( for white laborers) they would have all been part of the class of Americans who Romney views with such disdain. This is a very rough approximation: $35 a month is 1870 would be about $412 today.

John Podhoretz (New York Post) is a major movement conservative intellectual. One should thus read him prepared for some bias. Though even for him, he might have thrown back a little too much of the Republican Rube Juice in defending Romney’s tax returns, Romney the giver

We learned yesterday that last year Mitt Romney paid $1.9 million in taxes on an income of $14 million — and gave $4 million to charity.

We’re all supposed to bow our heads and beg forgiveness at this point for suggesting that Romney is anything, but a stellar tax payer. Romney paid a tax rate of less than 14%. The money rolls in from those ever so scary investments we here millionaires will stop making if they are taxed even 5% higher – to build thing like schools and aircraft carriers.

With open arms: Mitt Romney has given $7 million to charity the last two years, while paying $5 million in taxes.

But the release of these tax records leaves no doubt about one thing: Mitt Romney is an extraordinarily, remarkably, astonishingly generous man. A good man. Maybe even a great man.

Only a conservative with the steel trap intellect of Podhoretz could see Romney as generous. Mitt gives most of his money to the Mormon Church and to a foundation that Mitt himself started. While he is free to do that t hardly makes him a great man. The Mormon Church also gets tax breaks, but it operates much like a corporation: The Vast Majority Of Mitt Romney’s Charitable Donations In The Past Two Years Have Gone To The Mormon Church

In 2010, Mitt Romney took $3 million in charitable deductions on his tax return, against adjusted gross income of $22 million.

$1.5 million was a direct cash donation to the LDS Church
$1.5 million was a stock donation to the Romney’s private foundation, which is called the Tyler Foundation. The Tyler Foundation, in turn, gave away $647,500 in 2010, of which $145,000 went to the church. (The Tyler Foundation is controlled by the Romneys, so any money the Tyler Foundation gives away is effectively money the Romneys are giving away)

In 2010, therefore, Romney gave third parties (other than his foundation) a total of $2.1 million, with a total of $1.7 million going to the church. 78% of Romney’s donations in 2010, therefore, went to the church.

In 2009, meanwhile, Romney’s private foundation gave away a total of $631,000. This was comprised of four gifts:

The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints ($600,000)
My Sister’s Keeper ($5,000)
The Becket Fund ($25,000)
Mass General Hospital Cancer Center ($1,000)

In 2009, therefore, 95% of the money Romney’s foundation gave away went to the church.

(Interestingly, the Becket Fund, the second-largest recipient of Romney’s donations in 2009, is also a religious organization. It promotes “religious liberty.”)

Admittedly my bias about what constitutes charity, but the only charity I see on that list is the $1000 to a hospital. More Corporate Greed and Tax Evasion

Those are a few of the conclusions that can be drawn from an analysis of the church’s finances by Reuters and University of Tampa sociologist Ryan Cragun.

Relying heavily on church records in countries that require far more disclosure than the United States, Cragun and Reuters estimate that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brings in some $7 billion annually in tithes and other donations.

It owns about $35 billion worth of temples and meeting houses around the world, and controls farms, ranches, shopping malls and other commercial ventures worth many billions more.

So Romney is giving huge sums of money to a church which runs commercial ventures and has no obligatin to pay taxes on them. Sounds perfect.

“Most of the revenue of the religion is from the U.S., and a large percentage comes from an elite cadre of wealthy donors, like Mitt Romney,” said Cragun. ” is a religion that appeals to economically successful men by rewarding their financial acuity with respect and positions of prestige within the religion.”

The church is full of successful businessmen, including chemical billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., the father of the former presidential candidate, J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr. and his hotel-owning family, and even entertainer Donny Osmond.
[…]
The Mormon church has no hospitals and only a handful of primary schools. Its university system is limited to widely respected Brigham Young, which has campuses in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii, and LDS Business College. Seminaries and institutes for high school students and single adults offer religious studies for hundreds of thousands.

It counts more than 55,000 in its missionary forces, primarily youths focused on converting new members but also seniors who volunteer for its non-profits, such as the Polynesian Cultural Center, which bills itself as Hawaii’s No. 1 tourist attraction, and for-profit businesses owned by the church.

The church has plowed resources into a multi-billion-dollar global network of for-profit enterprises: it is the largest rancher in the United States, a church official told Nebraska’s Lincoln Journal Star in 2004, with other ranches and farms in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Great Britain, according to financial documents reviewed by Reuters.

Ranching and farm industry sources say they are well-run operations.

It also has a small media empire, an investment fund, and is developing a mall across from its Salt Lake City headquarters, which it calls an attempt to help revitalize the city rather than to make money.

I guess if you’re like Podhertz, who like his conservative brethren who thought Dubya and Dick Cheney were a divine gift to America’s foreign policy, you have a very very low threshold for what constitutes greatness. I’m not going to make anymore fun of Podhertz today. The guy is probably in terrible pain from all the blisters on his knees. This is a very good post with lots of links within for those looking for documentation, You Know Mitt Romney is Out of Touch When

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he tells his guests in the Hamptons that “I spend a lot of time worrying about those that are poor” after previously declaring, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.”

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when repeatedly makes false charges about welfare policy while never mentioning his father was “on welfare relief for the first years of his life.”

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when one of his Hamptons donors explains “the common person” and “the lower income” voter “don’t understand what’s going on.”

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch he expresses his disdain for those common people who wear polyester and plastic rain ponchos, while praising his friends who own NASCAR and NFL teams.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he criticizes President Obama’s call to let the Bush tax cuts expire for only the top two percent of earners as a “massive tax increase” for “on families, job creators, and small businesses,” while proposing an average $264,000 annual windfall for the top 0.1%.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when his tax cut proposal supposedly focused on “the people in the middle” could save his own family tens of millions of dollars and his billionaire backers billions more by ending the estate tax.

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when his surrogate Haley Barbour says Mitt’s tax returns don’t “amount to diddly,” the same expression he used to describe slavery after his state of Mississippi omitted mention of it in its Confederate Heritage Month declaration.

There are at least two constituencies in the conservative movement. Romney and Podhertz belong to the legion watch is really in charge of the Republican agenda. They make sure that the wealthy and powerful stay that way regardless of merit. The other part  is most of Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin’s crowd. They’re the ones you’re likely to encounter on internet forums blaming the recession on Fannie May, spreading the urban conspiracy theories about Democratic politicians being part of some U.N. plot to take everyone’s guns. This latter group is very sure it runs things. On the contrary, Romney, Karl Rove, Bill Kristol, the Koch brothers throw those people a bone in the platform, promise to keep a boot in the face of women, organized labor, people of color and anyone else who gets uppity. If they have to get sleazy and underhanded about it. If they have to break the letter and spirit of the law to do so, they will,  Voting Wrongs 

The Republicans’ plan is that if they can’t buy the 2012 election they will steal it.

The plan, long in the making and now well into its execution, is to raise great gobs of money—in newly limitless amounts—so that they and their allies could outspend the president’s forces; and they would also place obstacles in the way of large swaths of citizens who traditionally support the Democrats and want to exercise their right to vote. The plan would disproportionately affect blacks, who were guaranteed the right to vote in 1870 by the Fifteenth Amendment; but then that right was negated by southern state legislatures; and after people marched, were beaten, and died in the civil rights movement, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now various state legislatures are coming up with new ways to try once again to nullify that right.

[   ]….Eight states have already passed Voter ID laws—requiring a state-approved document with a photograph in order to register or vote, a form of identification that an estimated 11 percent or over 21 million of American citizens do not possess. But these laws are just part of an array of restrictions adopted to keep Democrats from voting. Some use other means to make registration difficult, or put strict limits on the number of days before the election that votes can be cast , or cut back the hours that polling places can stay open.

In the aftermath of the 2004 election, which was characterized in Ohio by lines at voting places in black districts so long as to discourage voters, Ohio Democratic officials made voting times more flexible; after the Republicans took over the state they set out to reverse that.

Iowa, Florida, and Colorado tried to purge the voting rolls of suspected unqualified voters, but their lists turned out to be wildly inaccurate.

While I’m sure conservatives will say so, Elizabeth Drew is no wild eyed lefty. She is a serious journalist who has been covering politics  a long time. James Fellows points out some other articles  written about, what amounts to Jim Crow-Lite laws, Meet the Pontius Pilate of Voting Rights: Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court and Voting: Right or Privilege? By Garrett Epps. The Constitution mentions “the right to vote” five times. Judges, and voter ID law proponents, don’t seem to be getting the hint.

This is handy post to have in any arguments with friends about who is a moocher and who is carrying their fair share of taxes – Understanding the Federal Tax Debate

People are much less likely to owe income taxes at the end or the beginning of their careers.  Many non-income taxpayers are age 55 and over and have paid considerable income taxes during their younger, working years.  Others are students under age 25 who will pay income taxes when they complete their education and enter the full-time workforce.

Romney and Ryan are being sold to the American electorate as the two brights guys, the brainy wonks who have all the answers inside their pointed heads. If that is the case why do they have a completely upside down view of who the producers are and who the leaches are. Without American workers there is no economy. The wealthy can start all the businesses they care to, but could luck running them without workers.

 

Republicans Cannot Get Past Being The Party of The Elite and For The Elite

Grass, Sky and Globe wallpaper

 

It is important to see past the outrage over Romney’s 17th century aristocrat view of half of America. It is not just the Romney world view it is a world view that has been a hallmark of conservatism since the mid 1850s. Forget the Democrats and Republicans labels – there used to be liberals and conservatives in both parties. In the 1850s through the Civil War, the Jim Crow era and up until the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s the plantation owners and later the “decent business” community were the victims of the workers. This narrative of our country and culture is bizarre at one level, supplying endless fodder for political satire. On another level is has been the anchor around the necks of most Americans. Up until the Great Depression there were a few very wealthy men at the top, a small middle-class of mostly merchants and the rest of the country, proudly individualistic, but poor, made do the best they could. During this time, up to the present the elite at the top have always held a grudge against workers. With every increase in worker rights – safety regulation, minimum wage, work breaks and time for lunch, workers compensation for the injured – the elite has felt that the people who made their wealth possible were not grateful enough. Were not differential enough to their social and economic superiors. Paul Krugman gets into that here, Disdain for Workers

For the fact is that the modern Republican Party just doesn’t have much respect for people who work for other people, no matter how faithfully and well they do their jobs. All the party’s affection is reserved for “job creators,” a k a employers and investors. Leading figures in the party find it hard even to pretend to have any regard for ordinary working families — who, it goes without saying, make up the vast majority of Americans.

[  ]…Needless to say, the G.O.P.’s disdain for workers goes deeper than rhetoric. It’s deeply embedded in the party’s policy priorities. Mr. Romney’s remarks spoke to a widespread belief on the right that taxes on working Americans are, if anything, too low. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal famously described low-income workers whose wages fall below the income-tax threshold as “lucky duckies.”

That low income workers have it so good because their wages are so low they don’t have the tax burden of the wealthy. That is a lie in two ways. Those that live below the median income level pay a higher percentage of their income in various taxes than the wealthy. Wealth allows one to do less work or work that is less arduous. When people talk about winning the lottery they talk about how much easier that money will make their lives. You never hear a “hard working” CEO offer to trade places with a roofer for a few weeks. One day on a hot roof laying new shingles would probably kill Romney.  The wealthy push buttons and move money around, nurses do work. The roofers and nurses are what Romney and his cabal of friends think of as the little people who owe Romney a debt for being a mover and shaker in the world of finance. That Romney buys this world view, having lived in a bubble his whole life, is not unexpected. That so many house holds who make below around the median is one of the weirdest and upside down aspects of American culture.

But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride.

In the eyes of those who share this vision, the wealthy deserve special treatment, and not just in the form of low taxes. They must also receive respect, indeed deference, at all times. That’s why even the slightest hint from the president that the rich might not be all that — that, say, some bankers may have behaved badly, or that even “job creators” depend on government-built infrastructure — elicits frantic cries that Mr. Obama is a socialist.

Now, such sentiments aren’t new; “Atlas Shrugged” was, after all, published in 1957. In the past, however, even Republican politicians who privately shared the elite’s contempt for the masses knew enough to keep it to themselves and managed to fake some appreciation for ordinary workers. At this point, however, the party’s contempt for the working class is apparently too complete, too pervasive to hide.

The point is that what people are now calling the Boca Moment wasn’t some trivial gaffe. It was a window into the true attitudes of what has become a party of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy, a party that considers the rest of us unworthy of even a pretense of respect.

I do feel obligated that some Americans with some education, work and luck manage to achieve the dream and still have some humility – ‘Tax Me More’ Says Wealthy Entrepreneur. We know that low taxes do not create jobs. The argument, despite the constant stream of bogus conservative numbers on taxes and deficits, is not about taxes, it is about this blind zealotry to gut the social safety net, gut education and create an economic class structure where the uppity workers know their place. Romney and the rest of the conservative sugar daddies club probably have no idea the resentments they have tapped into, which will never be forgotten, among their base of white high school graduates hourly wage earners. What working class whites really think about dependency and redistribution

On “dependency,” the study finds that large numbers of working class whites (46 percent) have received Social Security or disability payments over the last two years; more than a fifth have received food stamps; 19% have received unemployment.

Yet the study also finds that three quarters of working class whites believe poor people have become too dependent on government assistance. There’s obviously overlap there, which bears out what some have already pointed out — many of these voters simply won’t think Romney’s comments about the freeloading 47 percent, or about government “dependency” in general, are about them.

The elitist Republican leaders are not talking about me phenomenon has come up previously. This relatively recent article is one example – Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It. This is where psychology runs head first into the wall of political ideology and denial. Even though I have personal experience with this phenomenon from Republican relatives it still amazes me. These people whine about some nanny state talking point they heard on Fox News, but touch their Medicare, their VA benefits, the student loans they got for their kids and you might lose a hand. Its not their benefits they think are out of hand, it is those people, the people over there somewhere – the nebulous lazy undeserving other who is ruining it for us – the deserving. There is very little fraud involved with the social safety net – private sector corporations and banks are nowhere close to being able to make that claim. There is good news,

But the findings on “redistribution” are also revealing. White working class voters want to soak the rich, and they agree with key aspects of Obama’s views about capitalism and inequality.

Nearly two thirds of working class whites want to hike taxes on those over $1 million. More than half say one of our biggest problems is that we “don’t give everyone an equal chance in life.” Seventy-eight percent of them blame America’s economic problems on corporations moving jobs overseas and 69 percent on Wall Street making risky decisions.

In fairness, 69 percent also blame government regulation and 64 percent blame Obama’s policies. But as Molly Ball notes, there is clearly a strong strain of economic populism and a powerful skepticism about unfettered capitalism among them.

When one of these working class voters does something wrong at work they take the responsibility, pay the price, sometimes with the loss of that job. When one of Romney’s pals screws up they get a bail-out. America needed stimulus after conservative economic polices drove the economy off a cliff, Republicans objected after they had spent hundreds of billions to rebuild Iraq from their shock and awe. Now, the very same free spending conservatives like Paul Ryan express their daily faux outrage on the people added to the food stamp roles. Conservatives only start to care, or pretend they care about American workers when they can use it as an election issue. Just this week Republicans who whine about the lack of jobs killed another jobs bill, Veterans’ Jobs Bill Blocked in the Senate.

 

Romney and Conservatives Are Paving The Road To Serfdom With Their 47% Lie

Autumn Colors Lake Reflections wallpaper

 

Last Thursday, September 13, a few bloggers, both Democratic and conservative were saying that Romney’s were claiming that Mitt Romney’s egregious exploitation of the deaths of an American diplomat and two Marines was the end of the Romney campaign. As Mitt Romney told nearly half of America that they were leaches, there was a similar round of hand wringing from some Democrats and conservatives. Both of these events and the subsequent reactions remind me of a blog post I read before the 2004 election. I don not remember him, but the post got a fair amount of attention at the time. he was not a political blogger per se but was occasionally posting some of his personal observations. he noted that his grandmother was going to vote for Bush. Even by the end of his first term Bush 43 has rung up quite a list of scandals, criminal negligence, sleazy exploitation of a national tragedy, various acts of corruption and general malfeasance in governance. The blogger went on to very politely and diplomatically explain some of those things to his beloved grandmother, to no avail. The post was a nice combination of humor and a look at the personal psychology of voting, and partisanship. In his summary he noted that short of a hundred witnesses and video tape of Bush having relations on the White House lawn with farm animals his grandmother and people that thought like her were going to vote for Bush regardless of how many reasons that Bush was hurting the country. It is also the reason that Romney, who conservatives were never in love with, in the way they were with Reagan and Bush 43 ( until the second year of his second term anyway when his disapproval ratings reached an historic 62%), will probably shed some voters, but is still in the running. What Romney said in that video is not new in terms of what the conservative movement believes is sociology-economic gospel, which is why he has doubled down on what he said, simply claiming that he could have been more eloquent about how he said it:

“There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” Romney is heard saying on the video. He also said the 47 percent did not pay taxes.

The video gave the Obama campaign a chance to return to a popular theme – that the multi-millionaire Romney is an out-of-touch elitist.

“It’s not elegantly stated. Let me put it that way,” Romney said in response.

“I’m sure I could state it more clearly and in a more effective way than I did in a setting like that,” he told the news conference in California.

However, Romney stuck by his video-taped remarks, saying it was a message that he would continue to carry in the run-up to the Nov. 6 presidential election.

“Frankly, my discussion about lowering taxes isn’t as attractive to them and therefore I’m not likely to draw them into my campaign as those in the middle,” Romney said.

“This is really more about the political process of winning the election and of course I want to help all Americans have a bright and prosperous future and I’m convinced that the president’s approach has not done that and will not do that.”

The reason the 47% world view is outrageous is that it is wrong on the facts and the thinking behind it is a cancer eating away at American democracy and capitalism. Romney has clearly stated the conservative movement’s dogma that those in modest economic circumstances belong there. They belong there because they are not deserving, they are not virtuous enough or working hard enough. The wealthy – people such as Romney, Shedlon Adelson, the Koch brothers, the billionaires that contribute to American Crossraods PAC, Frank VanderSloot, Bob Perry, Wayne Hughes, Fred Eshelman and Robert Mercer believe that something akin to divine providence made them very wealthy and just as importantly, deserving of that wealth over others. They are the ruling class because the rules of social-Darwinism are at work. Half of America is struggling because they lack some magical ingredient. There is no use trying to get everyone a good education and not the guarantee, but the opportunity for a reasonable degree of financial success because nature has divided the deserving from the undeserving and any attempts by bleeding heart liberals to undue what nature intended is a kind of economic and social blasphemy. That is not how conservatives state their case of course. Even the most die hard white high school graduate Rush Limbaugh acolyte likes to think if they play by the rules, they’ll get ahead. The people who really run the conservative movement – some included in that list of the right-wing elite – could care less if  Billy Joe Bob climbs the economic ladder or is able to afford to send his kids to the state university. We’ll All Be Moochers Someday. Yay!

Romney’s argument is actually an amalgam of two separate, although related, claims that you hear all the time in conservative circles. The first is about who pays taxes and, more important, who does not. Romney pointed out that, today, 47 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes. But Romney neglected to point out that most people still pay federal payroll taxes and state taxes, both of which are regressive. And most of the people who don’t pay income taxes now either paid them in the past or will pay them in the future.

[  ]…The other claim might seem the more defensible of the two: It’s the argument that many more people have become dependent on government programs, placing unsustainable claims on the federal treasury and reducing incentives to work. A seminal text for this argument is “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic,” an essay by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. Its key piece of evidence is the observation that, since 1960, “government transfers to individuals” have risen sharply. According to Eberstadt,

What is monumentally new about the American state today is the vast and colossal empire of entitlement payments that it protects, manages, and finances. Within living memory, the government of the United States has become an entitlements machine. As a day-to-day operation, the U.S. government devotes more attention and resources to the public transfers of money, goods, and services to individual citizens than to any other objective: and for the federal government, these amounts outpace those spent for all other ends combined.

Just as over the course of sxity years or more conservatives made the term liberal into a profanity, they have also done the same thing with entitlements. They’re called entitlements because people pay into the safety net – than having reached the terms of the means testing like old age or severe disabilities – people collect those entitlements. Entitlements is a good word describing a reasonable remedy for poverty that killed millions of Americans up until FDR’s New Deal. He made Social Security an insurance program that Americans paid into, because – his thinking at the time anyway – was that no one could argue against collecting benefits they had paid for. It was and still is a brilliant free market answer to social-economic problems that the private sector have no clue or interest in solving. Conservatives – the shakers and movers of the conservative movement like the ironically named Free Enterprise Institute – hate these programs because they interfere with nature punishing the undeserving – the serfs, the modern wage class, the dirty undeserving underclass. They see the economy and our culture as one where the overlords at the top should collect the vast majority of rewards and the peasants should get the crumbs they overlords are kind enough to let trickle down. This is from one of the links Jonathan Cohn’s listed as a rebuttal to AEI, We’re all dependent on government, and it has long been thus

Nicholas Eberstadt’s “A Nation of Takers” argues that too many Americans have become dependent on government benefits. Over the past half-century, he notes, the share who receive a government cash transfer and/or public health insurance — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment compensation, and so on — has grown steadily. The United States, according to Eberstadt, is now “on the verge of a symbolic threshold: the point at which more than half of all American households receive, and accept, transfer benefits from the government.”

Eberstadt doesn’t contend that this has weakened our economy. His concern is moral. He believes reliance on government for help is undermining Americans’ “fierce and principled independence,” our “proud self-reliance.”

In Eberstadt’s way of seeing things, we are either givers or takers — taxpayers or benefit recipients. This is mistaken. Every American who doesn’t live entirely off the grid pays some taxes.

I use the not politically correct term s like overloads and wage slaves where as Eberstadt using framing like “fierce and principled independence,” our “proud self-reliance.” Eberstadt and his brethren of conservative social-Drawinism are very clever to use this framing. Americans – with our justifiable pride in trying to be as independent as possible, our goal not to be a burden on our families and society – are easy marks for arguments based on self blame and guilt. I and most of you reading this have worked with the lazy and incompetent so we know that a job is no guarantee that someone is a genuine producer. Certainly many of the bosses we have worked for from middle managers to corporate jet using executives are some of the laziest scoundrels in the country. That is reality. Not the pure merit based lala-land that AEI sells to the gullible, including why Romney is wealthy and why the brick laying, house painting, fire fighting class are ungrateful riff-raff,

Growth of government spending is not, for the most part, a consequence of rent-seeking special interests or narrow-minded bureaucrats looking to expand their turf. It’s a product of affluence. As people and nations get richer, they tend to be willing to allocate more money for insurance (protection against risks) and for fairness (extension of opportunity and security to those who are less fortunate). Rather than lamenting an imagined shift from self-reliance to dependence, or claiming that we can’t afford more security and fairness, the American right would do better to focus its energy and creativity on devising alternative ways of pursuing these goals. Government doesn’t always do things best; and even when it does, there almost always is room for improvement. Nicholas Eberstadt’s essay is emblematic of the backward-looking orientation that has dominated America’s right for the past three decades. It’s an orientation that in my view has long since outlived its usefulness. The country will benefit when more smart minds on that side of the spectrum turn their gaze forward.

There are also some good points here, The Theory of the Moocher Class by Mark Schmitt

The conservative narrative of the “entitlement society” ignores the fact that most Americans are both givers and takers.

As David Brooks points out, Mitt Romney’s remarks describing 47 percent of the population as, in effect, moochers who would vote for Obama because they got government benefits were not “off the cuff,” as he described them today. There is a carefully developed theory behind his words, which has seen expression in previous Romney speeches, such as one last December in which he described Obama’s vision as an “entitlement society” in which “everyone receives the same rewards,” but in which “we’ll all be poor.”

The lab where this theory that we’re headed toward a radical egalitarian state is being developed is the American Enterprise Institute, the oldest of the conservative think tanks and one that, much like Romney, has forsaken the traditional business-minded conservatism of, say, the first President Bush, for hard conservatism in which everything is a grand showdown of incompatible worldviews.

Every dollar every millionaire ever made can be traced back to someone doing some actual work or providing a service. The very wealthy just play with money. They bet that companies wage slaves will produce a top selling product. If they win the bet they get more money taxed at a lower rate than the woman who assembled the product or the guy who supervised the loading dock.

Another part of this conservative movement Big Lie is who is befitting from gov’mint the most. I’m talking about government actually redistributing capital, not entitlement insurance that working Americans pay for one way or another or at one time or another,

It’s also worth noting that most members of the “Nation of Takers” probably don’t think of ourselves as “takers.” In her important recent book, The Submerged State, Suzanne Mettler of Cornell looked at data asking people whether they had ever benefited from a government social program. While most participants in the classic, older transfer programs were aware that they had benefited from programs, most of the newer programs, especially those delivered through the tax code, were invisible to a majority of their beneficiaries. (Even 45 percent of Social Security recipients said they had never used a government program, which may reflect the belief that they are receiving benefits they’ve paid for.)

While many on the left latched onto this data as evidence that Americans, especially conservatives, are hypocrites who revel in public benefits while maintaining an anti-government stance, there’s really much more to it than that. Delivering benefits through “submerged state” programs has broken any kind of connection between citizens and the benefits we receive. We can’t have a clear debate about whether we’re a “Nation of Takers” or whether these benefits are essential to maintaining the promise of a middle class country if most of us don’t even know the role that government plays in our lives.

Conservatives and liberals built the submerged state together, often sharing a preference for delivering benefits through the tax code. But a concerted effort to reduce the long-term budget deficit, with tax reform at the center of it, creates an opportunity to surface submerged programs and replace them with far more efficient, visible, direct programs. When the public is fully aware of the benefits it’s receiving, it’s possible that voters will recoil in shock at the degree of their dependency, or perhaps they will regain a healthy respect for the role of government in providing some of the security that helps them take full advantage of their capacities and opportunities.

It’s disappointing that Romney shows no interest in either drawing out the submerged state or in the bipartisan project (of which his health reform in Massachusetts was a part) of smoothing the path to economic success for families. Instead, he just sees half the country as people who can’t be convinced “that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” That’s a very strange view of this country and a tragic development in modern conservatism.

Just two examples of what mark is talking about and they include Mr. Take Responsibility for Himself, Mitt Romney Benefited From Government Bailout: Report

Ultimately, Romney managed to convince Bain’s creditors to take a steep discount on Bain debt, using a threat to pay Bain executives big bonuses that would have stripped it of the cash it had left, leaving creditors with next to nothing, according to Rolling Stone.

One of those creditors was the FDIC, which had taken over a bank that loaned money to Bain. The FDIC ended up collecting about $14 million of the $30 million Bain owed it, according to the magazine. Taxpayers didn’t foot the bill for this, FDIC banks did, but RS points out that those costs were in turn probably absorbed by bank customers in the form of higher fees.

You and I, the people who just cannot learn to take responsibility for ourselves paid for Romney’s financial shenanigans. Being an upstanding straight talking guy I’m sure Mittens will be sending our refunds and an apology any day now. Romney’s ‘Crony Capitalism’: Bain’s Big Government Subsidies

But a closer look at Bain’s record under Romney reveals that the company relied on the very government subsidies that Romney and Tea Party conservatives routinely denounce as “crony capitalism.” The Los Angeles Times ran a big story yesterday about Bain’s investment in Steel Dynamics, which received $37 million in subsidies and grants to build a new plant in DeKalb County, Indiana. An analyst at the Cato Institute called it “corporate welfare.”

Romney has recently pointed to Steel Dynamics as one of his success stories at Bain, including in a new ad, which contributed to the 100,000 net jobs he’s claimed to have created at the firm (an incorrect figure he’s subsequently had to walk back). He never mentions that government subsidies played a major role in ensuring that success.

Phil Mattera, research director for Good Jobs First, provides a few more examples of the government subsidies Bain received during Romney’s tenure at his blog, Dirt Diggers Digest.

GS Industries. In 1996 American Iron Reduction LLC, a joint venture of GS Industries (which had been taken private by Bain in 1993) and Birmingham Steel, sought some $20 million in tax breaks in connection with its plan to build a plant in Louisiana’s St. James Parish (Baton Rouge Advocate, April 6, 1996). As the United Steelworkers union noted recently, GS Industries later applied for a federal loan guarantee, but before the deal could be implemented the company went bankrupt.

Sealy. A year after the 1997 buyout of this leading mattress company by Bain and other private equity firms, Sealy received $600,000 from state and local authorities in North Carolina to move its corporate offices, a research center and a manufacturing plant from Ohio (Greensboro News & Record, March 31, 1998). In 2004 Bain and its partners sold Sealy to another private equity group.

What Bush did, with Paul Ryan’s help, what Romney is doing, what the conservative movement is doing is undermining faith in our nation. By their actions they’re destroying faith that the free market really rewards work and they’re destroying the idea that government and people who really care about good governance can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Conservatives have it backwards, American workers are carrying the wealthy parasites on their backs. There is nothing patriotic about that.

City Buildings and Clouds wallpaper – Republicans Seem To Lack Courage and Direction

cyan sky, skyline, modern acrhitecture

City Buildings and Clouds wallpaper

 

In 1983 Ronnie Reagan sent some military -mostly marines to Beirut. 241 members of the U.S. military were murdered by a suicide bomber. Reagan immediately withdrew all military from what was intended as some kind of peace keeping force. In 2008 a U.S. sniper shot a Quran, angering Iraqis and the Iraqi government, George W. Bush spokesperson said, “He apologized for that in the sense that he said that we take it very seriously,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “We are concerned about the reaction. We wanted them to know that the president knew that this was wrong.”
After right-wing nutbar Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin , likened the battle against Islamic militants to a Christian struggle against Satan and said at evangelical gatherings that a militant Muslim militia leader in Somalia worshiped an ”idol” and not ”a real God.” Dubya offered this “appeasement’, ”didn’t reflect my opinion,” adding, ”Look, it just doesn’t reflect what the government thinks.” Yes folks, its time to play, Its OK When Republicans Apologize and Appease, and Everything Democrats Do Is To Be Construed As an Apology and Appeasement, The Bizarre Meme That ‘Appeasement’ Caused the Libya Attack

Professor Paul Rahe is a nice man who teaches history at Hillsdale College. Here’s what he wrote about the attack on our embassy in Libya and the murder of four people, including the American ambassador:

The American people cannot be allowed to discover that Barack Obama’s policy of appeasement has persuaded our enemies that we are weak and feckless and has elicited aggression on their part. Nor can they be allowed to learn that Hillary Clinton and our minions have been grossly negligent with regard to the security of our embassies, consulates, and other installations in the larger Muslim world. Instead, we must ignore the spirit of the First Amendment and vent our wrath on an inept Coptic Christian immigrant from Egypt.

So let me get this straight. President Bush cuts a deal with Moammar Gadhafi, in which the dictator forswears weapons of mass destruction, and is thereafter treated as a friend of the United States. President Obama takes office. The Libyan dictator threatens to massacre his own people. In response, Obama orders the U.S. military to play the lead roll in bombing Libya, helping rebel forces to oust and kill Gadhafi. Every last person in Libya knows that this happened.

And you assert, as if it’s self-evident, that the Libyans attacked our embassy because of Obama’s “policy of appeasement.” What possible sense does that make? In Libya, none, and it doesn’t make sense elsewhere either. Obama surged troops into Afghanistan before beginning the present withdrawal with bipartisan support in Congress and from American voters.

Obama escalated a drone campaign that has spread to half a dozen countries, ordered a raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, and helped to engage in a cyber-attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. He ordered a special forces raid on pirates that rescued hostages. All told, the various drone strikes that Obama has ordered have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.

Throughout modern history – or whoever took the first photograph of a protest, protests have been easy fodder for campaigns of disinformation and spin. It is one of the reasons I’m not crazy about them as a modern tool for change. If some Democrats – all wearing white shirts and ties, carrying U.S. flags stood in silence for ten minutes to protest the Jim Crow-lite voting laws that several conservative state legislation have passed, the conservative freak machine would spin it as an ugly violent protest and the direct cause of someone fifty miles away having a bad case of gout. Conservatives have no shame about the boldest of lies, so drawing ridiculous, utterly unproven connections between cause and effect, would hardly cause a blip on their broken down morality meter.

Liz Cheney Claims Obama Has “Abandoned” Czechoslovakia (Which Hasn’t Existed Since The Early ’90s). The only reason I’m posting this is because of a Democratic blogger who still hates Obama because they were Hillary supporters. Before Romney picked Ryan as his running mate, said Democratic blogger cited Liz as the perfect choice because of her foreign policy credentials. What makes this blow-up ( not a simple gaffe) so amazing is that John McCain ( dufus Republican senator from Arizona) made the same blow-up in 2008.

Consumers and investors should be suspicious of the ramifications of a Romney administration with a conservative Congress, Killing Dodd-Frank Softly

The tactic has worked. An analysis by the law firm Davis Polk on the bill’s two-year anniversary in July found that just 30 percent of the nearly 400 regulations had been finalized. Thirty-five percent had not even reached the “proposed stage”—a point where the agency has published a draft, open to the public for comment.

Much like the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s other signature achievement in domestic policy, the fate of Dodd-Frank largely hinges on Obama’s re-election. Both pieces of legislation overhauled a major sector of the U.S. economy, but didn’t go into immediate effect all at once. In the case of Dodd-Frank, it was left to federal regulators scattered across several agencies to hash out the details. There was a logic to this: Regulators are the ones who have the intricate knowledge needed to tweak the complex financial system. Plus, explicit regulations written into the bill could have bogged it down in the legislative muck. But leaving the details to the regulators carried risks. Rules would be made outside the public eye, favoring the interests of the banks’ massive lobbying arms. And it would delay the start of enforcement.

Congress tasked the regulators with finalizing the bulk of Dodd-Frank’s rules within one year of its passage in July 2010. Instead, more than a year past that deadline, a raft of delays has left great swaths of the bill unenforced.

This summer, Public Citizen found that most regulatory agencies had not met the deadlines stipulated in the bill. The consumer advocate organization found that the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) missed over 90 percent of its specified deadlines. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) wasn’t much better, missing 87 percent of its due dates. Overall, federal agencies hadn’t met the mandated date for nearly 80 percent of the Dobb-Frank rules.

“We’ve been too slow,” says Bart Chilton, one of five commissioners atop the CFTC. “It’s not like there is one individual that’s messed things up and not done their share of the work. I’m frustrated, disappointed, and think we should have done better.”

In May, Chilton gave a speech before Americans for Financial Reform, an umbrella group for consumer-advocacy organizations, in which he detailed a four-step strategy that industries use to derail regulations. He called it “quadrakill.” The first two steps take place on Capitol Hill. Initially, the industries work their connections to block a bill from becoming law. If that fails, they turn to the appropriations process, attempting to starve regulators of the funds needed to enforce new rules. This tactic has been particularly harmful for Chilton’s agency; Dodd-Frank envisioned a newly robust CFTC workforce, but Republicans in the House have choked off the funds needed to properly expand the bureau. If the first two methods don’t work for industries looking to blunt regulations, the third step is to intercede once a restriction is embedded in a law but not yet enforced—precisely what the Wall Street-friendly members of Congress were trying to accomplish in their letter to Cordray. They argue with the regulators, cajoling them to dilute the strength of the regulation and delay it ad infinitum. And then, if all else fails, they turn to the courts to tie everything up one last time with lawsuits.

Republicans are working to make it possible to have another financial meltdown. They’re fine with that because it benefits their true constituency, the 1%. The conservatives who work for a living, making modest incomes? Well that is where the noise machine – Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity and so forth come in. They keep the rubes focused by plots by the U.N. to supersede U.S. sovereignty, the birther conspiracy, perverse arguments over what constitutes real versus unreal rape, the alleged war on Christianity by liberals, the plot to remove “in God We Trust” from U.S. currency and dozens of other kooky social issues and urban myths.

In case anyone missed it, low taxes are not the panacea for economic growth, Do Tax Cuts Lead to Economic Growth?

The main economic argument for tax cuts is simple enough. In the short term, they put money in people’s pockets. Longer term, people will presumably work harder if they keep more of the next dollar they earn. They will work more hours or expand their small business. This argument dominates the political debate.

But tax cuts have other effects that receive less attention — and that can slow economic growth. Somebody who cares about hitting a specific income target, like $1 million, might work less hard after receiving a tax cut. And all else equal, tax cuts increase the deficit, as Mr. Bush’s did, which creates other economic problems.

When the top marginal rate was 70 percent or higher, as it was from 1940 to 1980, tax cuts really could make a big difference, notes Donald Marron, director of the highly regarded Tax Policy Center and another former Bush administration official. When the top rate is 35 percent, as it is today, a tax cut packs much less economic punch.

“At the level of taxes we’ve been at the last couple decades and the magnitude of the changes we’ve had, it’s hard to make the argument that tax rates have a big effect on economic growth,” Mr. Marron said. Similarly, a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that, over the past 65 years, changes in the top tax rate “do not appear correlated with economic growth.”

One of the reasons that Romney is probably never going to show his tax returns is that he is not paying anything close to top marginal rates. He has manipulated his income to look as though it is all or vastly, investment income, thus paying at most %15.

 

Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.
John F. Kennedy