Antique Map of Japan 1727 – There is No Fiscal Cliff Crisis, There is a Crisis of Spiteful Republicans Brats

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Antique Map of Japan c1727 by Engelbert Kaempfer. If the map looks a bit creative for a professional cartographer, you’re right.  Kaempfer (1651-1716) was a German naturalist and physician better known for his extensive cataloging of Japanese plants.

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Cover of Harper’s, August 1896 featuring Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer Detective.” Today is Mark Twain’s (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) birthday (November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910). I wanted to post some graphic celebrating Twain and figured that most of us certainly know what he looks like, especially in his senior years. There is even a video of him on YouTube that was made by Thomas Edison.

Acknowledging their flaws I still think the NYT is a good newspaper. Though here we have that generally good newspaper in conflict with a progressive writer who is also very good. The NYT’s take on the fiscal austerity bomb and President Obama,  G.O.P. Balks at White House Plan on Fiscal Crisis

 Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other social programs to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.

He did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but did not specify an amount or any details. And senior Republican aides familiar with the offer said those initial spending cuts might be outweighed by spending increases, including at least $50 billion in infrastructure spending, mortgage relief, an extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of automatic cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare.

 

And the WaPo is even running this story, Obama to GOP: I’m done negotiating with myself. What President Obama is offering is not the dream progressive budget. It is austerity lite. Though they include the kinds of cuts that most Democrats can live with. The big picture, Democrats as playing hard ball, may not be all that accurate. The Democratic brand is one of being reasonable. As opposed to Republicans who do not play hardball, but rather a combination of spitefulness and venality, just for the sake of it. Democratic branding has served Democrats well this cycle. It is exactly what the polls showed the majority of Americans wanted and voted accordingly. Though many on the Democratic base knows that this is a good selling point, we would generally like the president and Congressional Democrats to occasionally draw a line in the sand. So having heard this hard ball line and knowing that going into budget negations Democrats have already started with a pretty fiscally conservative tax policy, it is frustrating to read this piece by Robert Kuttner, Obama’s Fiscal Politics: Snatching Defeat out of the Jaws of Victory. When it comes to the fiscal cliff, the president is in a superb tactical position. Why is he making concessions before he has to?

Yesterday, the White House put out the word that the president was willing to be “flexible” on the question of tax rates for the very top bracket. Specifically, that means the president will accept the Republican idea of getting some of the needed revenue by closing loopholes rather than increasing rates.

The leak of the softening of the Obama bargaining position was first reported by Erskine Bowles—why does he keep turning up like a bad penny?—after meetings with insiders at the White House, and confirmed by administration officials.

This stance is bad policy and dumb tactically on several grounds.

First, rates on the top two brackets are currently 33 percent on incomes between $250,000 and $388,000, and 36 percent on incomes above that level. On January 1, they revert to the rates that were in effect before the Bush tax cuts—36 percent and 39.4 percent, respectively. If Obama agrees not to raise rates on the very top bracket, he has to get the revenue somewhere else—or cut spending that much more.

The very richest people are the ones who have made out like bandits, even in the recession. They can surely afford to pay higher taxes. The Republican position is to get the revenue some other way—by closing loopholes. But the idea of capping deductions or closing other loopholes will hit a lot of upper-middle-class people, and leave the super-rich with less of a tax hike.

So this is dubious policy. It’s also bad politics.

Obama has the Republicans in a superb tactical position. If Congress does nothing, rates rise January 1 for everyone. The Senate has already passed legislation keeping the current rates for the bottom 98 percent. All the Republican House has do to is concur, as Obama has requested. If they don’t, taxes rise for everyone. Why blur that bright line?

The president’s tough stance was working. Republican unity on the issue of no rate cuts for the rich was already beginning to crack.

I think Obama simply made Republicans an offer he knew they would refuse even though the loopholes idea was a part of Paul Ryan(R-WI) and Romney’s tax plan. Obama knows that while there are some loopholes that most Americans and Republicans would not mind seeing closed, conservatives in Congress will not let Obama get credit for closing them. If that seems childish, well that is the same game Republicans played when they held the debt ceiling hostage. They raised the debt ceiling 19 times during the Bush 43 era. Without debate. No grand speeches about how they and Bush were destroying the budget, pushing America to the brink of financial catastrophe, no crocodile tears about how much debt they were leaving your grandchildren. So while Bob’s concerns are worthy, they’re not indicative of the past behavior of conservatives. Who else but Mad Dog Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to prove the point, I Laffed Too

Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, says he “burst into laughter” Thursday when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner outlined the administration proposal for averting the fiscal cliff.  He wasn’t trying to embarrass Geithner, McConnell says, only responding candidly to his one-sided plan, explicit on tax increases, vague on spending cuts.

While the link is to a liberal blog, the story is from a conservative pundit who said about Mad Dog, “Well, here at least is a sign of sanity in the Republican leadership.” I’ll hold him to the assertion of sanity and take pure spite for the bonus points. McConnell only has one loyalty and that is to radical conservatism. The movement that would stuff the U.S. into a rickety duck-taped time machine and send us back to the Antebellum South of 1851. If there was no Lincoln Memorial and Obama proposed creating one, conservatives would be against just because Democrats were for it. You’ve heard the saying that life is like high school, for Republicans life is like a middle-school meeting of petulant bullies. Maybe the tide will turn here n the next couple of months. This is one fight Republicans cannot win. If they do not agree to Obama’s terms, the Bush/Obama tax cuts expire for everyone. Not even the Republican Cone of Incessant Noise will be able to deflect blame. While Obama did a good job of framing the tax cuts for millionaires argument during the election campaign, Republicans had long along handcuffed themselves to no tax increases for anyone under any circumstance. They, with lots of help from the media said that the debate was all about spending cuts – we had to have more austerity, you know, like France and Spain. Well the austerity ship is sinking everywhere and that would soon include Mitch and friends. It is not all about spending cuts, it is about too much austerity or not enough revenue, It’s Not a Fiscal Cliff, It’s an Austerity Crisis

Have you heard any concrete detailed counter plan from Republicans other then they are against whatever Obama proposes. Of Course not, Obama offers GOP an ambitious, progressive debt-reduction plan

Throughout the recent negotiations, Republicans have said they want entitlement cuts, but they won’t say which ones. Republicans have said they’ll accept new revenue, but they won’t say how or where the revenue would come from. Republicans have said they’ll make concessions on deductions, but they won’t say which ones. Republicans have said they expect deep spending cuts, but they’ve offered no specifics.

As of this morning, there’s one plan on the table, and it’s Obama’s. Boehner & Co. don’t like it? Fine. Where’s their competing plan?

Republicans desperately want the president to negotiate with himself — keep presenting increasingly conservative ideas until GOP leaders say they’re satisfied. Obama clearly isn’t willing to play that game anymore.

If you want to see the names Obama is being called for his plan just cruise by some conservative blogs. President Obama could have made life genuinely miserable for Republicans. He could have asked for a pony, a new coffee maker and lots of other cool stuff that would have been way outside anything conservatives would have considered. Instead he gave them the nice middle of the road plan and they still act like he pulled that lollipop out of their mouth. That is the story the media should be writing. Obama agreed to large cuts along with raising some revenue. It is not that difficult a story to tell.

The Time John McCain And Lindsey Graham Relayed Bad Intelligence On A Sunday Talk Show

Both men continued to pledge to block her nomination should she be appointed Secretary of State, with Senator McCain saying, “She’s not qualified,” while accusing Rice of deliberately “misleading the American people.” After meeting with Rice, Graham noted he was “more disturbed now than I was before,” adding her appearances on Sunday shows were “disconnected from reality.”

The episode, however, has clear echoes of McCain’s and Graham’s own moments of relaying bad intelligence on Sunday shows based on an inaccurate conclusion from the intelligence community.

In the 2003 lead-up to the Iraq War, McCain and Graham made appearances on Sunday talks shows such as Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and Face the Nation where they made the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and would not hesitate to use them.

Shameless liars and hypocrites, McCain and Graham are posters boys for the sunshine patriotism of the conservative movement. More here, Why Didn’t McCain and Graham Smear Bush or Reagan Over Their Embassy Attacks

Golden Autumn Path wallpaper – Republicans See All Fiscal Tax Issues As A Way To Sabotage American Values

fall, autumn, landscape, leaves

Golden Autumn Path wallpaper

 

I agree with the analysts who say we should not call the current budget negotiations the “fiscal cliff” ( I like Krugman’s description of it as an austerity bomb), but I can’t do much about other people calling it that. This is another issue that conservatives to have both ways – like chanting freedom and then listing all the freedoms that would flush. Cons in DC and on the net are warning of the most dire of consequences if President Obama and Democrats do not come to a “compromise”. Meaning as usual that if the austerity freaks do not get everything they want, Democrats did not compromise. While the usual suspects – Malkin, Redstate, Fox, The Washington Free Beacon are providing the echo, the noise machine’s messages still originate with the American Free Enterprise Institute, the Chamber of Chamber, David Koch’s Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks. The economic calamity message from the radical Right is meant to get the conservatives next door to provide what looks like populist support. Once again convincing some working class Americans to advocate against their own rational self interests. This is a tried and somewhat proven tactic on the Right’s part. The reason, or at least part of the reason it works in regards the debt ceiling and balancing the budget is that Democrats are citing the very real dire consequences. So amidst all that chattering what are relatively clear facts get lost and the working class Right gets snookered into helping the wealthy put another heads they win, tails they win, Some of America’s richest people are about to get even richer thanks to the fiscal cliff

The risk that the US government could raise taxes on dividends as part of a deal on the forthcoming “fiscal cliff” has finally forced corporate America to do something with its massive pile of cash. Here’s a look a the Smaug-worthy* hoard companies have been accumulating:

US Corporate Cash

And what will they do with this haul? Spend it on investment? Hah! They’re rushing to give some of it to shareholders. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times have taken note of the trend in recent days. The Journal writes:

The moves would send hundreds of millions of dollars back to shareholders before tax hikes that could kick in next year either automatically or as a result of negotiations between the White House and Congress.

And the FT reports that since the beginning of the fourth quarter, “a record 103 companies have announced they will pay special dividends before the end of the year, according to Markit. The data firm is forecasting that 123 companies will announce special fourth-quarter dividends, compared to the previous average of just 31.” This is similar to what happened during the fourth quarter of 2010 the last time that the so-called Bush tax cuts were about to expire.

With a ton of cash, there’s no reason companies shouldn’t be giving at least some of it back to shareholders. Especially if those shareholders are well, the controlling ones. The Journal rightly notes that some rich Americans stand to gain quite a bit from getting their cash now, thanks very much. For instance, Las Vegas Sands CEO—and well-known backer of Republican political candidates—Sheldon Adelson could collect about $1.2 billion from the $2.75 a share special dividend on his 52% ownership interest in the casino company, which said it would pay a new one-time dividend next month.

Some of America’s richest and laziest people are about to get even richer

We’ve been told over and over again the top 10% have to have low taxes so they’ll invest it and create jobs. They invest it in each other, they horde it and they spend very little on it in entrepreneurial enterprises. They’re sitting on so much cash that no honest argument can be made that tax rates are at levels that a disincentive to investment or job creation on their part. The Right has always claimed that we can cut spending to find our way to fiscal paradise. That was never true and untrue now more than ever, just ask anyone in Europe. The wealthy are whining because of greed. They just want your conservative neighbors to believe the fairy tale about them creating jobs if only they had a few dollars to spare, but big bad gov’mint is taking all their hard earned profits and buying stuff for the United Nations. The top 10% is going to win no matter how the tax cuts are finally settled. It is mind boggling to believe that someone with millions of dollars in assets is going to be really upset if they have to start paying the same marginal tax rates they did during the Clinton boom years. The real purpose of the tax cuts for the Right is to edge a little closer to not just gutting Medicare and other safety net programs, but to do away with the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency and anything else that protects the average citizen. Taxes will thus never be low enough until we reach the point where Monsanto can exercise its God given right to poison entire counties with impunity and the anti-rationalist can teach their children that humans were created out of space dust a couple thousand years ago with no competing science based narrative. I have read Democratic bloggers talk about their personal experiences trying to convince relatives of how dangerous the conservative movement is. That despite all the flag waving the last thing conservatives hold dear is the best interests of the country. Many Americans just find it hard to believe that a movement that talks so much about values has so little of them. Making the USA into a permanent Pottersville wasteland is hardly the dream of most Americans when you get the conversations down to specifics. If companies such as Walmart brought back have their exported jobs to the U.S. and paid their average retail workers a living wage they would still make billions. But money equals power for them and less power for the average citizen, and that’s the way they want it. Even if people have to die to keep it that way, Wal-Mart’s strategy of deniability for workers’ safety

The Bangladesh factory supplied clothing to a range of retailers, and officials who have toured the site said they found clothing with a Faded Glory label — a Wal-Mart brand. Wal-Mart says that the factory, which had received at least one bad report for its fire-safety provisions, was no longer authorized to make its clothing but one of the suppliers in the company’s very long supply chain had subcontracted the work there “in direct violation of our policies.”

If this were an isolated incident of Wal-Mart denying responsibility for the conditions under which the people who make and move its products labor, then the Bangladeshi disaster wouldn’t reflect quite so badly on the company. But the very essence of the Wal-Mart system is to employ thousands upon thousands of workers through contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, who are compelled by Wal-Mart’s market power and its demand for low prices to cut corners and skimp on safety. And because Wal-Mart isn’t the employer of record for these workers, the company can disavow responsibility for their conditions of work.

We’re not talking about a company that is forced to do what it does to make a fair profit. We’re talking about a company and a nation wide mentality when if they can make a hundred million doing things this way, hey, they can make even more if they export more jobs and give more workers the shaft. They’ll scream anti-American Marxist at anyone who criticizes them. I remember reading about Marx and the standard for being a Marxist has found a new definition according the current Republican Partay – anyone who believes in reason and decency. I think these figures are a little low because I have read other papers that say people tend to lie about their virtues or lack of them, Wall Street Professionals Admit: Yes, Lots of Us Are Corrupt

Is Wall Street corrupt? Responses vary depending on whom you ask. But ask the folks who work in the financial services industry and you’ll get a surprisingly clear answer: “Yes.”

A recent survey of 500 financial services professionals, conducted by market researcher Populus at the behest of law firm Labaton Sucharow, turned up some surprisingly candid results from the folks surveyed. For example:

39% of financial industry insiders surveyed “reported that their competitors are likely to have engaged in illegal or unethical activity in order to be successful.”
And this was more than just suspicion. “26% of respondents indicated that they had observed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace.”
Nearly one in four “believed that financial services professionals may need to engage in unethical or illegal conduct in order to be successful.
Nearly one in three said they themselves felt “pressured by bonus or compensation plans to violate the law or engage in unethical conduct.

Add in the ones who say they would engage in corrupt activity if pressured to by their company and you have almost half of Wall Street either engaged in criminal activity or willing to under the right circumstances. And even some irony for dessert,

All of a sudden, the epidemic of mortgage fraud, the Bank of America (BAC)-Merrill Lynch bonus debacle, the Madoff scandal — all of it starts to make sense. Suddenly, you start to understand why Goldman Sachs (GS) CFO David Viniar, when asked earlier this week whether decreased profitability at his firm was a cue to cut costs after he had just noted that Goldman was paying out 44% of all corporate revenue as compensation for his employees, responded simply that “we aren’t going to cut our way to prosperity.”

Another moving holiday story of sacrifices  by the hardest working people in America.

It pays to be rich, it does not pay so much for work. Or at least does not value work like the old fashioned values conservatives pretend to believe in,

American workers more productive than ever and getting less of the rewards

Red Lighthouse Storm Clouds wallpaper – The Real Nanny State is Run By The Greedy For The Benefit of Unpatriotic Plutocrats

Red Lighthouse Storm Clouds wallpaper

I read some time ago that NYT columnist make at least six figure salaries. Seeing that whether people agree with them or not Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd drive a lot of traffic to their site, they probably are above the columnist minimum. Even at the rock bottom of six figures that still leaves us with what is clearly pity or charity pay for Ross Douthat. By way of here – Don’t Eliminate the Link between Social Security Contributions and Benefits – Douthat writes,

But now Washington is in danger of practicing payroll-tax bipartisanship of a more destructive sort. While the White House and Congressional Republicans wrestle over where to set income tax rates and how and whether to cut spending, the payroll tax holiday has been orphaned. Lacking noisy champions and press attention, it’s in danger of expiring at the end of the year out of political indifference.

That outcome would be unfortunate. Payroll taxes are a relic of New Deal Machiavellianism: by taking a bite of every worker’s paycheck and promising postretirement returns, Franklin Roosevelt effectively disguised Social Security as a pay-as-you-go system, even though the program actually redistributes from rich to poor and young to old. That disguise has helped keep Social Security sacrosanct — hailed by Democrats because it protects the poor and backed by Republicans as a reward for steady work.

Payroll taxes for Social Security are there to assure the people that they have paid into an insurance or entitlement program – thus are entitled to benefits. FDR was very clever to do so. By disconnecting entitlement programs from general revenues Americans would see those benefits as insurance, which indeed they are – Social Security keeps millions of people out of poverty and allows millions more a life of dignity and relative comfort in their retirement years. Social Security was motivated by the Great Depression and the mature grown-ups admitting that our economic system has innate structural issues and by no fault of their own, many Americans can work hard all their lives and end up with nothing because of some knuckleheads on Wall Street and on the broads of America’s largest corporations – our shadow government. As the Economist View notes detaching Social Security or Medicare from their own unique funding will mean the end of those programs, which is just what social-Darwinist plutocrats like Douthat want – not for any practical reason, only for reason of blind zealotry.

Ross Douthat Argues that Social Security Would be Easier to Cut If It Were Changed from a Social Insurance Program to a Welfare Program, by Dean Baker: Ross Douthat argues convincingly that if we eliminated the link between contributions and benefits it would be much easier politically to cut Social Security. Of course he thinks ending the link would be a good idea for that reason, but his logic is certainly on the mark, people will more strongly protect benefits that they feel they have earned. …

The payroll tax certainly can cover the program’s expenses. In fact, had it not been for the upward redistribution of income over the last three decades, which nearly doubled the share of wage income going over the cap on taxable income, the projected 75-year shortfall would be about half of its current level.

Even with the current projected shortfall, if ordinary workers shared in projected productivity growth over the next three decades, a tax increase equal to 6 percent of their wage growth over this period would be sufficient to make the program fully solvent. The problem is clearly the policies that led to the upward redistribution of income…, not Social Security.

It is worth pointing out that when Douthat proposes “means-testing for wealthier beneficiaries,” his notion of wealthy means school teachers and firefighters, not Bill Gates and Mitt Romney. …

Douthat is so typical of the wild-eyed ideology of the far Right. They have no answers. They simply believe. They believe in dog-eat-dog social-Darwinist ideology of laissez -faire economics. If you don’t claw your way to a sizable savings for your retirement just go begging to the back door of your local church or die. If the part about wishing people dead sounds like hyperbole – a reminder of the conservative mind-set. The kind of pure and nightmarish capitalism that Douthat and other conservatives believe in does not provide for the elderly, the disabled or children. We all know the talking points since they have been beamed into every America’s head since birth – all of this helping people stuff should be voluntary and private. The first charity hospital for children was founded by Ben Franklin and used partly public funding from the Pennsylvania legislature. So we have never been a country that had a pure than pure laissez -faire attitude towards those American who do not get paid six figures in charity from the NYT to write pure hackery.

Dean baker makes an excellent point about how busy we have been redistributing the capital produced by labor to the top 10%. Since unions have been demonized as Marxist thugs and fair wages, a living wage, is devil talk, the average American workers is earning less than their fair share. That means they contribute less to entitlement insurance like Medicare and Social Security. Why Raises For Walmart Workers Are Good For Everyone

Chances are you missed this particular bargain on Black Friday: Agree to spend 15 cents more on every shopping trip, and Walmart, Target, and other large retailers will agree to pay their workers at least $25,000 a year.

Big box retailers aren’t actually offering that deal, but a new study by the liberal think tank Demos argues that it would be a great bargain for us all if they did. Increasing the average wage at large retailers from $21,000 to $25,000 would probably cost you less than $20 a year at the register yet lift some 1.5 million people out of poverty (including your cashier), create 100,000 new jobs, and boost GDP by some $13.5 billion.

Demos argues that retailers would benefit, despite higher labor costs, because their low-wage employees could suddenly afford to buy more of the basic necessities that they scan and load into plastic bags every day.

If you are still wondering what’s in it for you, however, then consider this tidbit from Sasha Abramsky:

In 2004, a year in which Walmart reported $9.1 billion in profits, the retailer’s California employees collected $86 million in public assistance, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley. Other studies have revealed widespread use of publicly funded health care by Walmart employees in numerous states. In 2004, Democratic staffers of the House education and workforce committee calculated that each 200-employee Walmart store costs taxpayers an average of more than $400,000 a year, based on entitlements ranging from energy-assistance grants to Medicaid to food stamps to WIC—the federal program that provides food to low-income women with children.

The economic challenges facing America and labor are framed as everyone being either lucky stiff because the Walton family was good enough to bestow a job on you, even if you cannot live on what they pay. The truth is just the opposite. The Waltons, the Romneys. the Kochs, the Sheldon Adelsons, The Papa Johns are all leaching off the labor of the American workers. The six heirs to the Walmart fortune ( the Walton’s own Walmart, Walgreens and Sam’s Clubs among other business interests) are worth $115 billion dollars. They owe part of their fortune to the ridiculously low tax rates on capital gains. The other part comes from taking the pie and leaving workers – the people who did the actual work of creating their fortune – the crumbs. Every single person on Fortune’s most wealthy people in America list are thieves. They’re entitled to a healthy share of their profits, but not to the kind of massive unearned wealth they have accumulated on the backs of people making $8 to $20 an hour. It would be great f this was just a simple argument about rights and wrongs, fair and unfair. It is those things, but it is also about average folks versus people who have a deranged sense of entitlement to unearned wealth, Fiorina: ‘It is not fair’ that public workers are ‘so rich’

Carly Fiorina, who reportedly stood to receive more than $42 million after being ousted at HP in 2005, says that public workers should receive less benefits because “it is not fair” that unions are “so rich.”

During a Sunday panel segment on NBC, MSNBC host Al Sharpton asserted that Congress must agree to raise taxes on the wealthy before cutting spending.

“This is about fairness,” he explained. “Why do we need to need to deal with the tax on the rich first? Because we must ensure Americans we are dealing with fairness. We keep talking about shared sacrifice, there was not shared wealth and shared prosperity. So, you’re asking people that didn’t enjoy the good times to share in paying for the tab that they never enjoyed.”

“Let us accept Rev. Al’s point and the president’s point about fairness,” Fiorina replied. “But equally, it is not fair that public employee union pensions and benefits are so rich now that cities and states are going bankrupt and college tuition is going up 25 and 30 percent or police and firefighters are being cut. There’s a lot that isn’t fair right now.”

During Fiorina tenure as the CEO of HP, at least 18,000 workers were laid off after the company’s disastrous merger with Compaq.

Fiorina failed. She lost millions. By the rules of her own conservatism she should have been out on the street looking for a job. She left HP with a golden parachute of $20 million. She could live to be 300 years old and never earn that kind of money. There are people smarter than her teaching calculus or programming at your local community college. Part of our economy is attached at the hip to a work hard just to survive capitalist system and the other part is connected to a welfare nanny state for the ruling plutocrats like Fiorina whose hobbies include whining about how much teachers and firefighters make. Like Romney, Fiorina was born into the upper middle-class. Privileged, and like Old World royalty they think they the elite who deserve everything they siphoned off the hard work of others.

Calls for Secession are Bad Law, and Bad Policy – And Unfair to The Decent Americans That Live in Those States

I’m taking a semi-day off, though I’ll leave you with this very good post from the ASC Blog. It is easy to answer yet another round of conservative talk of secession with cynical responses like good bye and good luck with that. The problem is that  in many cases the state is either mostly blue, trending blue or has a sizable minority from 40% or so of the population that is either not conservative or the last of those legendary creatures known as moderate Republicans. It would certainly be great if we could set aside some land, say equal to the size of North Dakota and let every far Right conservative move there, write their own constitution, make their own tax laws, do away with all regulation, have zero laws to protect workers, have no minimum wage, make women either  three-fifths a person or as Ann Coulter has suggested take away women’s right to vote all together, have private law enforcement, private only education and prisons. Let them have the dystopian wunderland they dream of. It probably wouldn’t take long for even the elite secessionist like the Koch brothers, the Walton(Wal-Mart) family and the rest to beg to again be part of the union. Calls for Secession are Bad Law, and Bad Policy

Within days of President Obama’s re-election, dozens of states petitioned the White House for permission to secede from the union, and ever feisty Texans have led the way. One local politician made headlines for calling for an “amicable divorce” between the United States and the Lone Star State, and a petition for Texas’ secession has received over 100,000 signatures. The White House has said it will offer a response to the chorus of calls to secede, but the administration’s answer should be brief: secession is neither constitutional nor would it be good policy if it were.

In a thoughtful post for the National Constitution Center, Lyle Denniston explains that talk of secession “is a pipe dream, constitutionally speaking.” “If the Civil War did not settle it on the battlefield,” he writes, “the U.S. Supreme Court put it completely to rest constitutionally” in a case involving Texas, appropriately enough. Decided by the Supreme Court in 1869, White v. Texas addressed the sale of U.S. treasury bonds by the state of Texas in order to fund its rebellion during the Civil War. Finding the state’s ordinances supporting secession to be “absolutely null,” the Court held that secession could be accomplished only through “revolution or through consent of the States”:

The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States. When, therefore, Texas became one of the United States, she entered into an indissoluble relation. All the obligations of perpetual union, and all the guaranties of republican government in the Union, attached at once to the State. The act which consummated her admission into the Union was something more than a compact; it was the incorporation of a new member into the political body. And it was final.

Texas politicians, including Governor Rick Perry, regularly invoke the specter of secession when talking about Texas’ unique history as a one-time independent nation. However, as Slate’s Jeff Turrentine explains, Texas’ “so-called ‘right’ to secede is no more than a politically emboldening myth, the boastful residue of the decade it spent as a sovereign nation.” While the former republic may have other legal ways of causing havoc with the federal government, even Texas concedes it has no legal authority to “unilaterally withdraw” from the United States.

History and law suggests that secession would only be possible with the consent of the country as a whole. The dissolution of the United States would require, at minimum, congressional approval, and the first difficulty that presents is “a matter of arithmetic,” according to constitutional law scholar Michael Dorf. The Constitution is predictably silent on the matter of the legislative process of secession, and there is no mechanism in place for determining how Congress could proceed on the matter. Would only the non-seceding members of Congress control the vote?  Would Congress need to approve any secession plan by a majority or super-majority? More likely, a pathway to secession would require the painstaking process of amending the Constitution, but even then, secession would present a number of practical challenges.

Secession can be portrayed as a simple, logical solution to frustration with the federal government, but untangling the complex relationship between a state and the federal government would not be easy. For a conservative state like Texas, the end result would be more government, not less. In a thought experiment, NPR considered what an independent Texas would look like. Even with the world’s fifteenth largest economy, sovereign Texas would be bled dry as it established new government departments to handle foreign affairs, aviation, and nuclear regulation. It is true that Texas residents pay more in federal taxes than they receive in benefits, but the state still received almost $44 billion in federal aid in 2010. Further, national defense spending helped to buoy the Texas economy during the Great Recession and the economic impact of military payroll in the state is more than $77 billion. Large percentages of state aid to the poor across the country is currently subsidized by the federal government, and independent, individual states would be forced to addresshow they would handle Medicare and Social Security benefits and “all the expenses Washington used to take care of — things like maintaining interstate highways, inspecting meat and checking passports.”

It is likely no one rushing to petition the White House to secede has seriously considered these sorts of questions. Indeed, talk of secession likely has everything to do with “slumping stock market[s] and accompanying pessimism” than any real desire to form a new nation.  Even as America has become increasingly polarized and partisan, the political environment remains far removed from the one that precipitated the Civil War. Few Americans today feel enough affinity for their states to have any strong commitment to establishing them as independent nations, argues conservative legal scholar Ilya Somin. Expressing support for secession on a petition and rising up in arms to demand it are two very different things, and even in Texas, support for secession is no more popular than in Rhode Island: a 2009 Rasmussen Reports survey concluded that 75 percent of Texans would oppose seceding.

Despite the attention these secession petitions have received, only a fifth of Americans consistently support leaving the union. This number has remained constant no matter the president or party in power, and it should come as no surprise that the majority of Americans continue to see the innumerable legal and practical benefits of a strong united country.

It is hardly surprising that some of the more vocal advocates of secession are organizations such as the Neo-Nazi site Stormfront and the Klan.

Vintage Santa Claus Cards and a Holiday wallpaper

Vintage Santa Claus and night sky

Vintage Santa Claus with sleigh and toys. This is about the size of a traditional holiday card.

Vintage Santa Claus with Little Christmas Tree

 

Vintage Santa Claus postage stamp, wallpaper size

 

Blue Holiday Star wallpaper

 

This is a wonderful list, 10 Things Progressive Americans Can be Thankful For

Following a long presidential campaign full of policy battles and disagreements, progressives have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Here are 10 things we can all celebrate:

We are thankful for the millions of Americans serving our country at home and abroad. This includes 1.4 million Armed Services members, 80,000 AmeriCorps members, and 8,073 Peace Corps volunteers and trainees, 6 million teachers and public school employees, 1.1 million professional and volunteer firefighters, and 22 million total public employees.

We’re thankful for Obamacare. After surviving dozens of repeal votes in Congress, the Supreme Court, and a presidential election, the Affordable Care Act is on track to extending insurance coverage to 30 million Americans and lowering health care spending. Millions of seniors and young people have benefited from the law and inefficient insurers are distributing rebates to consumers.

We’re thankful for the social safety net. Nutrition assistance, welfare, unemployment compensation, Social Security, and other social programs keep millions of Americans out of poverty each year. Though the programs aren’t as robust as they could be, they help provide food, health care, and educational opportunity to America’s neediest families.

We’re thankful for historic progress against the War on Drugs. In passing laws to legalize and regulate marijuana in Washington and Colorado, supporters joined many local jurisdictions that have decriminalized some drug offenses in signaling their willingness to better tailor drug policy to public health and safety goals. Timed to the year when the film The House I Live In is opening new eyes to the War’s decimation of minority communities, the time is ripe to end the War that, since its declaration 40 years ago by President Richard Nixon, has cost the U.S. both money and lives while failing to curb drug use.

We’re thankful for the advocates who protected our right to vote. The past few years saw a raft of new voter suppression laws and tactics, but most of the worst laws were blocked at least temporarily by the courts or repealed by lawmakers. The challenge going forward will be to maintain these victories as litigation in several of these cases continues and the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to the Voting Rights Act.

We’re thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, has been working on new rules to protect Americans from predatory lenders, bogus credit card deals, and shady mortgage peddlers. It has also won American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds for credit card scams.

We’re thankful for Occupy Wall Street. Since its street protests last year, Occupy Wall Street has kept busy with several important projects. Occupy Our Homes saved many Americans from unfair foreclosures, while Occupy Hurricane Sandy provided aid to victims of the superstorm that battered the northeast. Occupy’s latest project, the Rolling Jubilee, raised millions of dollars in order to buy and then abolish debt.

We’re thankful for the most diverse Congress in history. On Election Day, Americans ensured that the 113th Congress will contain the widest range yet of ethnicities, religious affiliations, and sexual orientations. The incoming freshman class contains 4 African Americans, 5 Asian Americans, 10 Latinos, 24 women, the first openly bisexual congresswoman, as well as the country’s first Buddhist senator and two Hindu representatives.

We’re thankful for religious freedom. The U.S. is a nation of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, non-believers, and religious and spiritual sects of all stripes. Unlike some other countries, the U.S. protects Americans’ freedom to practice the religion of their choice without fear of repercussion, suppression, or forced religious adherence.

We’re thankful for growing LGBT equality. The sweeping victories for LGBT equality and out candidates in this election demonstrated that this country is on track to providing full benefits and protections to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. While there is still work to be done, schools are becoming safer, families are becoming more secure, and visibility and awareness are helping to lower discrimination rates.

Knowing that there are that segment of progressives who can find fault in every step forward or clamor about how much more there is to achieve, try to relax once in a while and relish even the smallest of victories.

Fox’s Andrea Tantaros Treats Food Stamps As A Diet Plan: “Do You Know How Fabulous I’d Look?”

On the eve of Thanksgiving, Fox News pundit Andrea Tantaros mockingly dismissed the plight of hungry Americans, claiming that she would “look fabulous” if she were forced to live on a food stamp diet.

Tantaros’ vapid commentary came in response to Newark, New Jersey, Mayor Cory Booker’s pledge to accept the food-stamp challenge and try to subsist on $133 for food per month for an extended period of time, just as food stamp recipients in New Jersey do.

The insensitivity from Fox News is their normal, it is the decided conviction to be a news organization, yet clueless about the country you live in and how millions of your fellow citizens struggle. And they struggle not just with trying to keep their head above water, but with the societal stigma that goes hand in hand with low-income. Tantaros would never stop to ponder the fact that so many Americans can work a forty to fifty hour week, and after they pay rent, utilities and phone bills, they cannot afford enough food because the company they work for has a business model they does not pay a living wage.

Right Wing Invents New Bengahzi Conspiracy Theory: Top U.S. Intel Official Is A Liar

The Republicans’ new focus of attack in the faux “Benghazi-gate” scandal is Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper, claiming that he lied about the source of changes to talking points on the Benghazi attack given to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

Yesterday, a DNI spokesperson debunked accusations made by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other Republicans that the White House changed Rice’s Benghazi talking points, saying that it was the intelligence community that made the “substantive” changes to the talking points. Moreover, former CIA head David Petraeus and other top intelligence officials have said there was no politicization of the process and that the talking points were not altered to minimize the role of extremists but to reflect the best intelligence at the time.

McCain appeared to accept the new information but wondered why Clapper and other DNI officials did not provide this information during closed door hearings last week. And now that all their earlier attacks on Rice have fell apart, Republicans and conservative media figures are directing their attacks at Clapper, a George W. Bush appointee:

– BILL O’REILLY: Now it’s James Clapper, President Obama’s national security guy who is saying, “Oh, it’s me. I sent Rice out there and I took out all the al Qaeda stuff.” I’m not buying it. None of this adds up. … All right so there’s a lot of lying going on here.

What would have been shocking is if the conservative conspiracy nutbars has said we were wrong for exploiting those deaths and apologize.

President Obama and Secretary of Sate Clinton continue their successful foreign policy accomplishments. So of course conservatives are bitter. At no other time will you see them lavish praise on a Muslim – they do know that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is a Muslim and a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, right? When it suddenly dawns on them, conservatives will find a way of walking back their praise. The zombies are simultaneously claiming the ceasefire was too weighted in the favor of Hamas. So they have all their angles of attack covered.

What or how will John McCain(R-AZ) go down in history, as a footnote, as the strange little man ( I mean that is the sense of integrity, not physical stature, that picked a mindless ideologue as his presidential running mate) John McCain Rewrites His Epitaph. So some level, even from someone at the bottom of his class, McCain realizes that he is just another Dan Qualye. So he is going to fling pooh at whatever he can, McCain Officially Admits He Was Wrong on Benghazi Without Admitting It.

As unrepentantly arrogant as ever, Televangelist Pat Robertson Admits he Blew Election Prediction he Received from God

Intellectual conservatives? Isn’t that an oxymoron. Anyway Commentary editor John Podhoretz offers up a great example of conservative thought projection in this piece by Jonathan Chait, John Podhoretz Has Awkward Postelection Epiphany

This may be a jarring message for Podhoretz’s devoted readers, whom Podhoretz spent months assuring that Obama was flailing about and headed for near-certain defeat. Obama was politically incompetent (“what we’ve seen so far is a reminder that the skills required to mount an insurgent campaign with a charismatic unknown aren’t those needed to mount a re-election effort featuring an incumbent with a problematic record”). On top of this he was weighed down by a terrible economy. Romney was in much better condition than the polls showed, Obama in deep, deep trouble. “Without a stark turnaround in his fortunes,” observed Podhoretz, he might lose [North Carolina] by 10 points this November.”

Romney was the candidate running a brilliant campaign. To the preelection Podhoretz, it was obvious that the ads attacking Romney’s biography would fail. (“Obama team must know that they can’t prevail solely with a negative assault on Mitt Romney.”) Obama’s campaign was in the midst of a “smoke screen of self-delusion,” pathetically unaware of their own coming demise:

Because they don’t only sell the snake oil, they drink it themselves. They buy their own propaganda; they believe the hype.

The astonishing turnabout in the evaluation of Obama’s campaign, from delusional nincompoops to the most terrifyingly efficient campaign apparatus in history, helps Podhoretz reach his desired conclusion, that Obama’s victory owed nothing at all to his policy platform. Obama’s campaign, he tells us now, was “bereft of ideas” and offered “no second-term governing agenda whatsoever.”

The mass of propaganda that constitutes the conservative movement is so large you wouldn’t need a surgeon to remove it, a hammer and chisel would be required. Even this conservative is shocked by the lies other conservatives tell just about taxes alone. They’ve spun enough myths about  Bengahzi to fill a book and that is not over yet. The books about the lies they told about Iraq and the war on terror would fill a small library. Podhoretz and his minions can call him an intellectual if they like, but it was my impression they truly enlightened thinkers do not live in a hermetically sealed bubble of delusions.

Black and White Rocky Sea Coast wallpaper – Republicans Should Learn What Virtues Are Before Preaching To Others

Black and White Rocky Sea Coast wallpaper

 

As we get pass the post election analysis by the far Right – calling it analysis is generous – I was going to let all the general noise about president Obama being re-elected because he promised to give more stuff to the undeserving leeches a pass. Than conservative columnists Ross Douthat tried to sneak yet another makers versus takers column under the radar, by questioning the makers/takers dynamic as a political strategy and ending up writing the same garbage in slightly coded language, The Liberal Gloat ( linked to by hundreds of conservative sites with an ahem brother).

Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

Those must be some nice big designer blinders Ross wears. They manage to block his view of the connection between economics – good wages and health care benefits to be exact – and the stability of home life. Hispanics and recent immigrants work longer hours with lower pay than most Americans. And why wrap up government support in Hispanics, and not in red versus blue. Douthat, like all well-trained conservatives are using some none too subtle framing. He knows or should know that red states have a higher illegitimate birth rate than blue states, and red states get more government dollars than they pay into the system. That is the bottom up view. The top down view sees wealthy conservatives reaping rewards that far exceed anything they provide in terms of economic, intellectual or cultural value. This recent report is a timely example, Hostess To Pay $1.75 Million In Executive Bonuses After Blaming Unions For Bankruptcy. yes Hostess needs to adjust its business model for a culture where moms and dads are giving their kids fruit juice and organic peanut butter for snacks. That still does not account for a business model that says the people who sit behind a desk all day should reap the largest share of the cupcake that took thousands of workers to make and distribute. Ross, also like his brethren in the church of conservative hypocrisy likes to say that America is all about rugged individualism right up to the point where they need to make a some lame argument about the deterioration of our culture. Since he uses the community as culture argument in this case, how about the social contract being ripped to shreds by the plutocratic class that has taken the nation’s capital and shifted most of the rewards to the plutocratic class.

Ross wants us to believe that the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson are working over 200% harder than the guy who polishes the floors of their luxury condominiums. The statistics tell us that if you pay those guys more, they’re marriages are more successful on average, their children less likely to have illegitimate children and are more likely to pursue some education pass high school and to earn about the same or a little more than their parents. Ross is another conservative wearing $400 shoes telling America their problem is not enough of you are pulling yourself up by boot straps that are broken because the Mitt Romneys either sent your job to Asia or is paying you just enough to survive, not to thrive.

While I’m tempted to say that Republicans just give up that crap about people voting for Democrats because of all the wonderful gov’mint giveaways, no just keep on believing the  same tiresome tropes. What did Romney and Ryan run on? More government handouts for millionaires who have been whining about how hard they have it. Both Republicans promised millionaires yet another tax cut. Why, so they could put more gold in the safe deposit box. Because that is what millionaires do with tax cuts – they DO NOT create jobs, Ten Numbers the Rich Would Like Fudged

1. Only THREE PERCENT of the very rich are entrepreneurs.

According to both Marketwatch and economist Edward Wolff, over 90 percent of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), personal business accounts, the stock market, and real estate. Only 3.6 percent of taxpayers in the top .1% were classified as entrepreneurs based on 2004 tax returns. A 2009 Kauffman Foundation study found that the great majority of entrepreneurs come from middle-class backgrounds, with less than 1 percent of all entrepreneurs coming from very rich or very poor backgrounds.

2. Only FOUR OUT OF 150 countries have more wealth inequality than us.

In a world listing compiled by a reputable research team (which nevertheless prompted double-checking), the U.S. has greater wealth inequality than every measured country in the world except for Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark, and Switzerland.

3. An amount equal to ONE-HALF the GDP is held untaxed overseas by rich Americans.

The Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden offshore, untaxed. With Americans making up 40% of the world’s Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, that’s $8 to $12 trillion in U.S. money stashed in far-off hiding places.

Based on a historical stock market return of 6%, up to $750 billion of income is lost to the U.S. every year, resulting in a tax loss of about $260 billion.

4. Corporations stopped paying HALF OF THEIR TAXES after the recession.

After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, corporations have paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.

U.S. corporations have shown a pattern of tax reluctance for more than 50 years, despite building their businesses with American research and infrastructure. They’ve passed the responsibility on to their workers. For every dollar of workers’ payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.

The wealthy would rather sit back and collect interests than create jobs. If they can make the same or more money by basically doing nothing they will and do.

Perhaps for the first time in his life Allen West will have to find a job where he is not sucking down tax payer’s money faster than Donald Trump or Rush Limbaugh can find another trophy wife, Florida Rep. Allen West(R) concedes. Now he’ll have plenty of time to form a posse and go looking for those commies hiding behind every tree in Washington.

I do not think it amazing that the Fast and Furious and Benghazi conspiracy theories have only worked in the fetid swamps of ConWorld. Democrats, on every platform that was available to us made it clear that mud was not going to stick. The Swiftboat attacks were the pinnacle of fifty years of conservatives lies and demonizing, against a decorated war hero at that. lesson learned. If Conservatives repeated the lies, half-truths and bizarre distortions ten times, we repeated the truth twelve. Reflecting on this election’s failed attempts at the same deeply immoral tactics, what have the freaks of conservatism learned? Obama got inside their pointed heads with his zen master powers of mind control and gosh, they sure didn’t see that coming, How The Conservative Media Lost The Election. The plan was to unmask Obama. It didn’t work.

And with the Republican Party now in full-throttle soul-searching mode, many in the conservative blogosphere are turning introspective as well.

“I think the right media may have erred,” Dan Riehl, a contributor to Breitbart News and longtime proprietor of Riehl World News, told BuzzFeed a week after the election. “I think we let Obama get into our heads and we wound up campaigning against him, rather than for the things we believe in.”

“It was a trap,” he added. “And one I can’t say I didn’t fall into.”

In hindsight, Riehl questioned the wisdom of devoting so much energy to combing through the president’s early life for signs of radicalism — a process that yielded few true exposés, but rather a handful of scraps that bloggers tried to spin into scandals. For example, in March, Breitbart News reported that Obama attended a 1998 production of a play about left-wing Chicago activist Saul Alinsky. The story, which was presented as a major scoop on the site, included this memorable lede:

In The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama claims that he worried after 9/11 that his name, so similar to that of Osama bin Laden, might harm his political career.

But Obama was not always so worried about misspellings and radical resemblances. He may even have cultivated them as he cast himself as Chicago’s radical champion.

“I just don’t know that America cared,” Riehl now says of this story genre. “The guy had already been elected, and our message was that Barack Obama’s a socialist that wants to control your life. I’m not arguing that he isn’t, but is that a message people want to hear?”

I probably read more conservative commentary and studies than most conservatives. What is it exactly that conservatives believe in is still something of a mystery. They’re always for low taxes. In other words they’re against paying their fair share of the cost of having a civilization. Riehl and Douthat think freedom is not free, but they think civilization is. For over half a century conservatives have staked out sole proprietorship of Family Values Inc. The war on family values is about as real as Bill O’Reilly’s war on Christmas. The biggest threat to American families is the social-Darwinism preached by conservatives as though it were the same thing as the waters of salvation. In Republispeak the quasi-religious and the far right economics of dog-eat-dog are joined at the hip and the mouth.

“My impression from the outside was that the target of the vetting effort was always the mainstream media, not really the president,” said Ben Domenech, a conservative blogger and cofounder of the long-running conservative blog RedState.com.

Domenech said conservative coverage of Obama’s first term drifted “too often toward entertainment and mockery, and too little toward the critical and hard work of investigation.”

“I think it’s a bit disappointing that the major scandals during Obama’s administration thus far have all been broken by mainstream media entities, not journalists on the right,” he added.

Wait one gull darn minute. Does Ben mean to say that conservatives – his site will tell you repeatedly that  they are smarter, have the best polices, are more articulate, have a better work ethic and are just plain better human beings than anyone on the planet, spent too much time mocking and not enough time on issues. This is where Riehl’s excuses comes in handy – Obama got inside their heads and made them all his bytches. They ain’t learned nuttin. They ain’t gonna learn nuttin. That would require an epiphany, the kind of soul searching and neuron use the conservative movement has proven it is singularly incapable of having. While Google has struggled with it, Republicans might want to adopt a slogan, like do no evil. Just having a worthwhile goal in the first step to recovery for kool-aid addicts.

WW II Poster Loose Talk Costs Lives – To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is to play with mighty fires

Keep mum Loose talk costs lives. WW II poster, Works Projects Administration Art Project, [between 1941 and 1943]. “Poster suggesting careless communication may be harmful to the war effort, showing a train blowing up.”

I was going to post that great poster anyway, it just happens to be appropriate for the WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin’s public breakdown. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN PETARD, RIGHT-WINGERS

This is a full-blown scandal…. The scandal has now enveloped the Oval Office and will define his second term, if not resolved satisfactorily.

I’ll go as far as conceding that the Conservative Book of Blow-up Dolls Version of History will forever contain a chapter in which the Republican history of Benghazi looks nothing like the reality. Even Conservative Republican Nitwit Peter King (R-NY)  Admits CIA Approved U.N. Ambassador’s Talking Points On Libya.

After leaving the closed-door hearing, King spoke with reporters for several minutes about Petraeus’ statements. Rice’s television appearances were among the topics discussed, leading King to indicate that while Petraeus did not personally write Rice’s talking points, the CIA did approve them:

Q: Did he say why it was taken out of the talking points that [the attack] was Al Qaeda affiliated?

KING: He didn’t know.

Q: He didn’t know? What do you mean he didn’t know?

KING: They were not involved — it was done, the process was completed and they said, “Ok go with those talking points.” Again it’s interagency — I got the impression that 7, 8, 9 different agencies.

Q: Did he give you the impression that he was upset it was taken out?

KING: No.

Q: You said the CIA said “OK” to the revised report –

KING: No, well, they said in that, after it goes through the process, they OK’d it to go. Yeah, they said “Okay for it to go.”

Rice has been hit by Republicans for weeks for indicating that the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi stemmed from a spontaneous protest related to an anti-Islamic video. However, as Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) has pointed out, the talking points used by Rice were the same unclassified points given to both the administration and Congress by the intelligence community.

So Rubin the conservative circle of derangement has decided that they’ll keep the “scandal’ going by jumping up and own, feigning outrage and pointing fingers, to hell with any substantive arguments. The Mind-blowing Hypocrisy of John McCain(R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC): WMD Lie is Good, Repeating Intelligence is Bad. If the politics and the repercussions operated the way physics operates, cause and consequences, McCain and Graham would have been forced to find honest work years ago. Though Republican voters, like Republican politicians have a fetish about rewarding failure. Mccain has proven over and over again that shooting first and aiming later is his standard operating procedure. The television networks seem to agree since I cannot turn on the TV without seeing the media get McCain’s must have opinion. he is a stellar example of the hypocrisy of conservatives who think government should operate like the private sector. If someone as consistently and repeatedly as incompetent as Mccain worked for me, yes I would have taken great satisfaction in firing him. Remember when he wanted to declare war on Russia and the conservative punditry backed him up, McCain: Georgia conflict is the ‘first serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.’

Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Colorado yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that recent Russian aggression in Georgia is the “first…serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.” McCain seemingly ignored the Gulf War, 9/11, and the Iraq War, to name a few:

My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression.

Watch it:

In July, McCain said Iraq was the “first major conflict since 9/11,” leaving out Afghanistan.

McCain famously declared, ‘Today We Are All Georgians‘ . That empty saber rattling did not help Georgia. In the mean time how many economic or other sanctions against Russia has McCain voted for or sponsored. Zero.

President told within 72 hours Benghazi attack linked to al-Qaida extremists

Based on electronic intercepts and human intelligence on the ground, the early briefings after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya identified possible organizers and participants. Most were believed to be from a local Libyan militia group called Ansar al-Sharia that is sympathetic to al-Qaida, the official said, while a handful of others was linked to a direct al-Qaida affiliate in North Africa known as AQIM.

Those briefings also raised the possibility that the attackers may have been inspired both by spontaneous protests across the globe on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and by a desire to seek vengeance for the U.S. killing last summer of a Libyan-born leader of al-Qaida named Abu Yaya al-Libi, the officials said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing intelligence matters.

The details from the CIA and Pentagon assessments of the killing of Ambassador Chris Stephens were far more specific, more detailed and more current than the unclassified talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used five days after the attack to suggest to Americans that an unruly mob angry over an anti-Islamic video was to blame, officials said.

Most of the details affirming al-Qaida links were edited or excluded from the unclassified talking points used by Rice in appearances on news programs the weekend after the attack, officials confirmed Friday. Multiple agencies were involved in excising information, doing so because it revealed sources and methods, dealt with classified intercepts or involved information that was not yet fully confirmed, the officials said.

“There were multiple agencies involved, not for political reasons, but because of intelligence concerns,” one official explained.

So just like they thought nothing of revealing the identity of a CIA NOC agent who specialized in WMDs, conservatives think it is right to expose overseas intelligence to terrorists. Maybe we should have an full on 9-11 like hearing and call up some conservative pundits to testify.

Boardwalk and fishing pier, Asbury Park, N.J. Published: between 1900 and 1906. Difficult to see in the small pic, but apparently the pier was integrated at the time.

This is a bend over backwards attempt to be fair, Who’s to Blame for the Hostess Bankruptcy: Wall Street, Unions, or Carbs? It does mention that Hostess did not have the brightest executive management in the world. Who were determined to milk the company for as much as they could regardless of how it affected the company’s chances of surviving. Hostess Blames Union For Bankruptcy After Tripling CEO’s Pay. We live in an economy and culture where failure is rewarded with 300% raises.

African American men and boys, three-quarter length portrait, dressed for church, 1899 or 1900. The photographer is unknown, but this photo among hundreds of others became part of W. E. B.  Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963. The African-American sociologist, historian and civil rights activist) collection. “To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is to play with mighty fires.” W. E. B. Du Bois

Why do conservative Republicans hate the USA, American Family Association’s Fischer says 9/11 terrorists were ‘agents of God’s wrath’

The religious far-right, ladies and gentlemen. Or as we call them, the American Taliban:

As he traditionally does at the beginning of every radio program, Bryan Fischer dedicated the opening segment yesterday to a reading and discussion from the Bible. In this case, he was reading from Isaiah 10 in which the prophet explains that God had sent the Assyrians to invade Israel as judgment, which prompted Fischer to declare that the same  thing happened to America as “the jihadists on 9/11 were the agents of God’s wrath in order to get our attention as a people.”

I’m trying to imagine the reaction if any non-far-right figure suggested the 9/11 attackers were just doing God’s work. Think they’d be burnt at the stake?

Fischer and so many other conservatives seem to have a special pipeline to hearing God’s literal voice. I wonder if they started recording those conversations, the voices we hear wouldn’t sound just like the person making these horrendously self serving and sacrilegious statements.

I’m have not been a feckless cheerleader about it, but I have told people who have asked that the best way to get ahead is to get as much education as possible ( formal education, training, other learning opportunities) and work hard. Knowing that while that advice will not steer people wrong, it has increasing become a false promise, Walmart’s Internal Compensation Documents Reveal Systematic Limit On Advancement

Two years ago, when she started working at the deli counter of a Walmart in Illinois, Lisa hoped that her job would amount to the beginning of a career, one that would pay enough to cover her bills and enable her to stay current on her student loan debt.

But despite one raise since, Lisa, who asked that only her first name be used, now earns just $9.10 an hour, or about $13,000 a year on part-time hours. Seven months pregnant, she recently filed for bankruptcy. With no alternatives at hand, Walmart now seems like a dead-end to poverty, she says.

“I don’t have underwear without holes in them,” she said. “Everyone at work wears T-shirts that are threadbare. I have just enough to eat and get gas to make it to work for the next two weeks.”

Lisa’s experience sheds light on why a group claiming to represent tens of thousands of Walmart workers nationwide is planning strikes and other labor actions at as many as 1,000 stores next week on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The actions are intended to protest what the group says are meager wages.

The company website declares that “a job at Walmart opens the door to a better life” and “the chance to grow and build a career.” But interviews with 31 hourly workers and one former store manager reveal lives beset by paychecks too small to handle the bills, difficult to manage part-time schedules with hours subject to constant change, and little reason to hope for career advancement. Citing fear of losing their jobs, most spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The employees and many of their customers who are not making great wages are what makes Wal-Mart such a wealthy corporations. yet they too suffer from a severe disconnect with the context in which they accumulate that wealth, Walmart Heirs Have As Much Wealth As Bottom 40 Percent Of Americans Combined. Another way to look at it is that the Waltons pay themselves more there the combined salaries of all their employees.