Romney and Republicans Embrace The Failed European Economic Model For America

Steel Arch Bridge Niagara 1898. The steamboat is the small, but majestic Maid of the Mist. I have no desire to return to those good ol days, but it would seem more like you were going on an actual adventure when stepping on to an old steamboat than piling into to the air-conditioned, DVD player equipped, leather cushioned SUV of today.

Distributing surplus commodities, St. Johns, Ariz. 1940. This is one of Russel Lee’s famous Depression era color photographs. It is interesting to me for a few reasons. One is that there are a lot of radical Right myths about FDR and The Greta depression on the net. One of them is that FDR purposely destroyed tons of edible food in order to prolong the Depression and dependence on government assistance. The two others is that poverty tends to have a black face in modern culture wars and this giving away commodities to poor whites took place in a state now largely run by people who claim they are and have always been utterly self-sufficient. Self sufficiency is a goal that most people strive for, but everyone needs a little help sometime during their lives. There should not be such a stigma attached to that basic fact of life.

Republican and Retired General Colin Powell endorses President Obama

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday endorsed President Barack Obama for reelection, arguing the president has improved the poor economy he inherited and sharply criticizing Mitt Romney’s foreign policy’s positions a “moving target.”

“I voted for him in 2008, and I plan to stick with him in 2012,” Powell said of Obama on CBS’s “This Morning.” “I’ll be voting for he and for Vice President Joe Biden next month.”

One of the most coveted endorsements remaining in the 2012 presidential race, Powell said Obama walked into a horrendous economic situation and has begun to turn it around.

“I think, generally, we’ve come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude,” said Powell, who served as George W. Bush’s secretary of state. “It doesn’t mean all our problems are solved.”

While Powell, a Republican, said that he had the “utmost respect” for Romney, he charged that the former Massachusetts governor hasn’t outlined how he would pay for increased defense spending or for his proposed across-the-board tax cut.

Powell had even harsher words for Romney’s foreign policy, questioning his changing stances on withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The governor who was speaking on Monday night at the debate was saying things that were quite different from what he said earlier,” Powell said.

“I’m not quite sure which Governor Romney we would be getting with respect to foreign policy,” he added. “I don’t sense he’s thought through these issues as thoroughly as he should have. He gets advice from his campaign staff that he then has to modify as he goes along.”

While in the Bush administration, Powell regularly clashed with neoconservatives, some of whom are now advising Romney. Powell said he has “trouble with” some of Romney’s “very strong neoconservative views.”

While Powell has endorsed the Democratic presidential candidate in back-to-back elections, he said he remains a Republican.

“I think I’m a Republican of more moderate mold and that’s something of a dying breed, I’m sorry to say,” Powell said.

Powell stills carries a lot of weight with conservative leaning and moderate conservatives. Though his moderate credentials are questionable. He just seems moderate when compared to the extreme far Right positions of a party that jumps when Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers say jump. Most Republicans have become utter sycophants of the smiley faced plutocrats whose visions for America resembles more that of a 17th century monarchy than an enlightened democratic republic. I’m not going into everything that is wrong and boneheaded about conservatism in its modern incarnation today, but the Romney-Ryan agenda exemplifies an aspect of conservatism that is leading to its eventual demise, Conservatives used to care about community. What happened?

To secure his standing as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney has disowned every sliver of moderation in his record. He’s moved to the right on tax cuts and twisted himself into a pretzel over the health-care plan he championed in Massachusetts — because conservatives are no longer allowed to acknowledge that government can improve citizens’ lives.

Romney is simply following the lead of Republicans in Congress who have abandoned American conservatism’s most attractive features: prudence, caution and a sense that change should be gradual. But most important, conservatism used to care passionately about fostering community, and it no longer does. This commitment now lies buried beneath slogans that lift up the heroic and disconnected individual — or the “job creator” — with little concern for the rest.

The Romney’s of America’s business community cannot even lay legitimate claim to being job creators – unless one means creating jobs in China or India. Because of shipping costs they do not even save that much money per unit of whatever. What they accomplish is making wealthy investors even richer and simultaneously dis-empowering labor in the U.S.

True, conservatives continue to preach the importance of the family as a communal unit. But for Nisbet and many other conservatives of his era, the movement was about something larger. It “insisted upon the primacy of society to the individual — historically, logically and ethically.”

Because of the depth of our commitment to individual liberty, Americans never fully adopted this all-encompassing view of community. But we never fully rejected it, either. And therein lies the genius of the American tradition: We were born with a divided political heart. From the beginning, we have been torn by a deep but healthy tension between individualism and community. We are communitarian individualists or individualistic communitarians, but we have rarely been comfortable with being all one or all the other.

The highlighted text is a subtle but important distinction – liberals love individualism, but acknowledged that is a concept that can go a bridge too far. Conservatives do not in fact live in a bubble of self-reliance but they pretend and insist that they do. As another pundit recently wrote conservatives have lost all perspective all the context of the complex ingredients that went into making their wealth, or even just providing them with a pretty job, and the comfortable lifestyle that goes with it. It’s the make-believe theory of economics, they just believe and that makes it so. They may not literally click their ruby slippers together, but they do inside their mental cocoons. Nick Kristof has a preview of a Republican-Romney economy. Having listened to conservatives describe anything European as a model for the road to serfdom for years, these quotes are jaw dropping – Romney’s Economic Model

In the last few years, Germany and Britain, in particular, have implemented precisely the policies that Romney favors, and they have been richly praised by Republicans here as a result. Yet these days those economies seem, to use a German technical term, kaput.

Is Europe a fair comparison? Well, Republicans seem to think so, because they came up with it. In the last few years, they’ve repeatedly cited Republican-style austerity in places like Germany and Britain as a model for America.

Let’s dial back the time machine and listen up:

Europe is already setting an example for the U.S.,” Representative Kenny Marchant, a Texas Republican, said in 2010. (You know things are bad when a Texas Republican is calling for Americans to study at the feet of those socialist Europeans.)

The same year, Karl Rove praised European austerity as a model for America and approvingly quoted the leader of the European Central Bank as saying: “The idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect.”

Representative Steve King of Iowa, another Republican, praised Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany for preaching austerity and said: “It ought to hit home to our president of the United States. It ought to hit all of us here in this country.”

“The president should learn a lesson from the ‘German Miracle,’ ” Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina, a Republican, urged on the House floor in July 2011.

Also in 2011, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, denounced Obama’s economic management and said: “We need a budget with a bold vision — like those unveiled in Britain and New Jersey.”

O.K. Let’s see how that’s working out.

New Jersey isn’t overseas, but since Sessions and many other Republicans have hailed it as a shining model of austerity, let’s start there. New Jersey ranked 47th in economic growth last year. When Gov. Chris Christie took office in 2010 and began to impose austerity measures, New Jersey ranked 35th in its unemployment rate; now it ranks 48th.

Senator Sessions, do we really aspire for the same in America as a whole?

Everyone knows that Greece made the grand austerity bargain and who knows when their economy will recover. Spain has had farmers and workers who just months ago were struggling, but getting by, now they’re literally starving. Greece austerity has given rise to radical political movements that is typical historically, getting a foot in the door by blame shifting and massive amounts of xenophobia – remind you of any political movements here in the U.S.

All this is exactly what economic textbooks predicted. Since Keynes, it’s been understood that, in a downturn, governments should go into deficit to stimulate demand; that’s how we got out of the Great Depression. And recent European data and I.M.F. analyses underscore that austerity in the middle of a downturn not only doesn’t help but leads to even higher ratios of debt to economic output.

So, yes, Republicans have a legitimate point about the long-term need to curb deficits and entitlement growth. But, no, it isn’t reasonable for Republicans to advocate austerity in the middle of a downturn. On that, they’re empirically wrong.

I generally don’t like The Economist – they flirt with a disturbing brand of quasi-libertarian-conservative economics, but when they have looked around at the available choices in the past they have picked both Democratic and conservative presidents. As I write this they have not made an endorsement this years, but they’re not crazy about Romney, The Economist Pounds Romney on the Economy

Two weeks ago, The Economist surveyed several hundred academic and business economists as to which White House hopeful would be a better steward of the economy. The results were clear, especially among the professional economists of the National Bureau of Economic Research:

Our main finding should hearten Mr Obama. By a large margin they rate his overall economic plan more highly than Mr Romney’s, credit him with a better grasp of economics, and think him more likely to appoint a good economic team.

That outcome shouldn’t have as a surprise to the editors. Like the Republican leaders who called President Obama’s rescue of the U.S. auto industry “the road to socialism” and “the leading edge of the Obama administration’s war on capitalism,” The Economist opposed the bailout that ultimately saved over a million American jobs. But in April 2010, the magazine acknowledged its error, proclaiming, “An apology is due to Barack Obama: his takeover of GM could have gone horribly wrong, but it has not.” And when candidate Romney earlier this year penned an op-ed echoing his jaw-dropping boast that “I’ll take a lot of credit” for the salvation of Chrysler and GM, The Economist was having none of it…

ConWorld urban conspirators are still tooting their bizarre claims about Libya and a cover-up, About Those Shocking, World-Changing New Libya E-Mails

The next bend in the Libya story — sorry, Libya scandal — began last night, when CBS News and other organizations scooped a series of e-mails from the State Department, on 9/11. At 4:05 p.m., State e-mails that the Benghazi consulate is “under attack.” At 4:54, the “firing has stopped.” At 6:07 p.m., “Ansar al-Sharia [has claimed] responsibility” for the attack.

Allahpundit explains why this is should be so disturbing.

The White House had plenty of reason to suspect more was going on than a protest that got out of hand, even from the very beginning. But that would meddle with one of O’s strongest reelection narratives, i.e. the president who demolished Al Qaeda (read this for a stark illustration of how certain key supporters are helping him out with that), so we didn’t hear about it until Eli Lake and CNN and Reuters all but dragged it out of him.

One problem. In the same story that breaks the news and gives readers the e-mails, CBS News prints an unaired answer that Obama gave Steve Kroft on September 12. It was his first interview after the attacks.

You’re right that this is not a situation that was — exactly the same as what happened in Egypt and my suspicion is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.

The next day, Obama was in Colorado, where he addressed the killings in Libya.

A couple of days ago, for four Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Libya… So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished.

Obama didn’t pretend that this was merely “a protest that got out of hand.” The trouble, when we look back at the timeline, is that reporters didn’t really glom onto the Libya story for a few days. When they did, by the Sunday shows and September 19, you had administration spokespeople soft-peddling the “target Americans from the start” story.

Before that, though, if you followed the story, you knew that Ansar al-Sharia took credit for the attacks, and that Obama was calling them “acts of terror.” This is the oddity of the story we now call “Benghazigate.”

The entire “scandal” rests on when President Obama started calling the attack an act of terrorism. He is on tape with CBS calling in a likely act of terror almost immediately. Even if he had waited a few days to get more clarification about minute details, so what. Allahpundit  and other contributors at Malkin’s Hot Air still owe America an apology for all the lies they told their readers about Iraq.

Remember reality TV star Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) who complained about how hard it was to get by on his $175k per year salary. he has not been taking any smart pills since then, Reality TV has-been (and congressman) Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI)  would totally love Planned Parenthood except …

A reminder: What Planned Parenthood actually does
You know how Republicans are always saying things like “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that,” mostly because Republicans are deeply stupid and think The Onion is a real news source, and Planned Parenthood really did a build a 900,000-square-foot $8 billion abortionplex with taxpayer money? Come for the abortion, stay for the disco and sushi!

What Planned Parenthood actually does is irrelevant because, as Sen. Jon Kyl taught us, Republican talking points about Planned Parenthood are not intended to be factual statements. They’re more like … oh, what’s the word? … bullshit.

Like, for example, this fecal gem from Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Real World, Season 6), in his debate with Pat Kreitlow:

In regard to Planned Parenthood – ya know, listen – Planned Parenthood offers a lot of checkups and procedures for women. I think a lot of that care is really good, especially for folks who can’t afford it. But the contention that comes around Planned Parenthood is that they are the largest abortion provider in the country, and so they are able to take taxpayer funds to then in essence, use for abortion. And I think this issue could be solved completely if Planned Parenthood would stop doing abortions. There would be no issue with funding on Planned Parenthood. So I think it’s a pretty easy issue to resolve to make sure women get care and coverage for procedures that they need, and I think it’s an important part of our society.

Oh, if only Planned Parenthood would stop doing that thing it doesn’t actually do—using taxpayer dollars for abortion—Duffy and his fellow Republicans would totes love it! And stop trying to defund it every five seconds. Goal Thermometer

But, alas. Since Planned Parenthood doesn’t use taxpayer funds for abortion, on account of how Republicans can’t stop passing bills that say Planned Parenthood isn’t allowed to use taxpayer funds for abortion, Republicans like Duffy have no choice but to pretend Planned Parenthood does that anyway and then be righteously indignant about Planned Parenthood doing that thing it doesn’t actually do.

Conservatives are ridiculous enough when they get around to discussing real issues, they’re even more ridiculous when they start making up issues to have an argument about so they can whip up support to do something about something that is not happening. Like China drilling for oil off the coast of Florida. Sean might want to have his brain checked for bed bugs.

Colbert Deconstructs Fox’s Endless Libya Scandal-Mongering

Fox’s coverage of the September 11 attack on the American consulate in Benghazi has increasingly been prone to extreme paranoia, excluding key evidence, and plain misinformation. Last night on his show, Stephen Colbert examined how Fox has been covering the Benghazi attack and why the network may be covering it that way.

Video at link.