Democratic Forest Snow wallpaper – Conservatives Still Did Not Build It Or Invent It On Their Own

Democratic Forest Snow wallpaper

Democratic Forest Snow wallpaper.


It might happen enough to almost become a scientific law; how often Democrats are vindicated when the conservative smear machine manufactures scandals. Remember when Mitt ‘Values’ Romney and Fox News took one of President Obama’s speeches about how wealth is created in the USA, pretended words were play-dough and created a whole new speech out of their loathsome imaginations, “You Didn’t Build That”: How Fox News Crafted The GOP’s Convention Theme. The president said,

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

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.

For most Americans our life experience bears out these obvious observation.  Business, wealth, education, personal success and day to day social interactions – are all in the context of the community – writ large in terms of governance. This was amid one of the major themes of the 2012 election cycle – whether people achieve success in the U.S. in a vacuum or in the context of progressive public policy. It was not just the ignorant readers over at sites like Breitbart or Free Republic, that pander to and encourage squirrel brain thinking, we had featured editorials in Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ. Conservative  L. Gordon Crovitz decided to rewrite the history of the internet and computer technology. Which one has to concede takes a combination of brazenness and callowness in the internet age. There are so many people that were directly involved in those projects for the government, so many technology historians, so many vigilant tech geeks that any such revisionism was doomed. WSJ mangles history to argue government didn’t launch the Internet

Crovitz is right that Vinton Cerf, along with Bob Kahn, invented the TCP/IP protocol that is the foundation of the modern Internet. But he neglects to mention that Cerf’s early work on the protocol was funded by the US military through its DARPA program.

“Hyperlinks” are not the Internet, and Tim Berners-Lee didn’t invent them. Nor is the World Wide Web the Internet, although the Web has become such a popular Internet application that many people confuse the two. But more to the point, Berners-Lee was working at CERN, a research organization funded by European governments, when he invented the World Wide Web in the early 1990s.

So people do not build businesses on an isolated economic island and every day citizens like you and I contribute to innovation in science and technology via taxes and education. And more vindication via a venture capitalist writing at the LA Times, Venture capital didn’t build it: From railroads, highways to the Internet, it takes government to help drive innovation and economic growth

For more than three decades American venture capitalists have concentrated their activities and earned their returns in a very small number of industrial domains. In booms and in slumps, in bull markets and in bear markets, the information and communications technology and biomedical sectors together have consistently accounted for 80% of venture capital investment.Why has it been in the world of information technology and, secondarily, biomedicine that venture capitalists have been successful? In brief: Only in these sectors did the state invest at sufficient scale in scientific research and in its translation to working technology. In over 40 years as a working venture capitalist, I learned that my colleagues and I and the entrepreneurs whom we backed were all dancing on a platform constructed by the federal government.
[  ]…The scale of research and development funding was substantial. For 25 years through 1978, federal sources accounted for more than 50% of national R&D expenditures and exceeded the R&D expenditures of the other governments in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development combined. From microelectronics and semiconductor devices through computer hardware and software and on to the Internet, development of all of the components of digital information and communications technology reflected state policies for R&D and procurement.

There is a larger lesson here. Over some 250 years, economic growth has been driven by successive processes of trial and error and error and error: upstream exercises in research and invention, and downstream experiments in exploiting the new economic space opened by innovation. Each of these activities necessarily generates much waste along the way, such as dead-end research programs, useless inventions and failed commercial ventures. In between, the innovations that have repeatedly transformed the architecture of the market economy, from canals to the Internet, have required massive investments to construct networks whose value in use could not be imagined at the outset of deployment.

At every stage, the innovation economy depends on sources of funding decoupled from concern for economic return. As economists have long recognized, such funding will not be delivered by competitive markets. Only an active state in pursuit of politically legitimate missions — national development, national security, conquering disease — can play the required role.

This is a good recent example of the kind of yet to be determined market value he is talking about – Excessive Protein Synthesis Linked to Autistic-Like Behaviors, Neuroscientists Find. This is not a cure for autism or a drug to treat autism. Medical treatments and drugs have economic returns. It is fundamental research that opens the door for some kind of gene or drug therapy from which venture capitalists and private enterprise might profit from some day. Battleground America. One nation, under the gun and

3 Officers Wounded After Suspect Opens Fire At Gloucester Township Police Station. How could this happen. The NRA has assured everyone that crazed gunmen will not attack people who are armed.

This is a very good read on how the NRA used judicial activism to twist the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, So You Think You Know the Second Amendment?. These two articles are linked to in that post, Battleground America. One nation, under the gun and this pdf on Constitutional Originalism and the 2nd Amendment


Wacky Senator John McCain(R-AZ) has the political consistency of a roulette wheel,

Having succeeded in his smear campaign against UN Ambassador Susan Rice, John McCain has launched a second pre-emptive strike against another would-be Obama cabinet member, former Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. But this time McCain’s petty payback against a GOP colleague who supported Barack Obama for President in 2008 may run into tougher sledding. After all, thousands of Hagel’s fellow veterans signed petition in his support last week, followed up by a Washington Post op-ed signed by a bipartisan group of former national security advisers including Brent Scowcroft. And as it turns out, back in 2006 John McCain endorsed as his ideal Middle East peace envoy another prominent Republican who opposed the Iraq surge, encouraged negotiations with Iran and riled some hardline supporters of Israel. That “smartest guy I know” was the man many neoconservatives call James “F**k the Jews” Baker.

I’m not a big Hagel fan. There are two dozen Democrats more than qualified to run the Pentagon. I suspect he was picked in the Obama tradition of reaching out to conservatives. Yet I understand the frustration of the White House. No matter who they pick for whatever post, the radical Right smear merchants gear for another round of character assassination.

And a brief as possible update on the austerity bomb, Cliff movement? Probably not. Congress is headed back to D.C. After the Boehner (R-OH) fiasco don’t expect much. There is no reason for Democrats to cave – cross fingers and hope the White House sees that in terms of long range economic health of the country and the Obama legacy. Robert Reich is correct, Why Republicans Don’t Care What the Nation Thinks About Moral Consequences and the Fiscal Cliff

“Even if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cooperates by not mounting a filibuster and allows the Senate to pass a bill extending the Bush tax cuts to the first $250,000 of everyone’s income, Boehner may not bring it to the House floor.

On a Thursday conference call with House Republicans he assured conservatives he was “not interested” in allowing such a vote if most House Republicans would reject the bill, according to a source on the call.

Democrats are confident that even if the nation technically goes over the cliff January 1, Boehner will bring such a bill to the floor soon after January 3 — once House Republicans have re-elected him Speaker – and it will get passed.

But this assumes Boehner and the GOP will be any more swayed by public opinion than they are now.

Public opinion is already running strongly in favor of President Obama and the Democrats, and against the GOP. In the latest CNN/ORC poll, 48 percent say they’ll blame Republicans if no deal is reached while 37 percent blame Obama. Confidence in congressional Republicans is hovering at about 30 percent; Obama is enjoying the confidence of 46 percent. And over half of all Americans think the GOP is too extreme.

Yet Republicans haven’t budged. The fact is, they may not care a hoot about the opinions of most Americans.

That’s because the national party is in disarray. Boehner isn’t worried about a challenge to his leadership; no challenger has emerged. The real issue is neither he nor anyone else is in charge of the GOP. Romney’s loss, along with the erosion of their majority in the House and Democratic gains in the Senate, has left a vacuum at the top.

House Republicans don’t run nationally. They run only in their own districts — which, because of gerrymandering, are growing even more purely Republican.”

Not news, everyone knows that the demented most malevolent elements of conservatism have taken over the Republican Partay. Between gerrymandering and rigging elections they think they can stay in power. It will be interesting to see how voters respond to a party that only marches to the beat of the Ted Nugents and Rush Limbaughs in 2014.


Map Pittsburgh Pennsylvania 1902 – Just Another Day With Radicalized Republicans

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1902

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1902. Even on the larger image it is difficult to see, but the map legend highlights points of interests such as the post office, Fort Pitt blockhouse, the courthouse, and the Frick, Carnegie, and Park buildings and railroad stations. These old street view maps are usable. If you were in Pittsburgh in 1902 you could find your way around well enough to the major points of the city. Though they really shine as artistic renderings of the city.

President Obama is cutting his holiday vacation short to head back to Washington in hopes of working out a budget deal. Though I wish he wouldn’t it is the smart move to make politically. Unless one lives in the reality challenged world of Fox New’s hack Steve Doocy – who claimed that Obama never really cared about making a compromise deal. This attempt at compromise is just a lot of wasted jet fuel. As Steve Benen explains,

As of Friday, it sounded like Obama had all but given up on those ambitions, and is now eyeing a much smaller agreement.

To be sure, I suspect the president would still prefer a larger deal, such as the one Boehner abandoned a week ago, but last week helped reinforce a couple of important realizations. The first is that Boehner is a weak leader of a radicalized, directionless caucus. The second is that Republicans are so loath to compromise, a meaningful, bipartisan agreement with concessions from both sides is clearly impossible.

And with that in mind, Friday’s comments pointed to what might be called Plan C — lower rates on income up to $250,000, extended jobless aid, a cancellation of the sequester (or more likely, a postponement), and some kind of blueprint for additional action sometime in 2013.

It has always been the aim of that deeply radical and contarian caucus to not agree to anything that President Obama might sign. This is the important aspect of these budget talks for the public to keep in mind as many cross their fingers hoping for an agreement. There was never going to be one if conservatives could help it. If President Obama hand even started near what conservatives wanted they would have demanded even bigger tax and spending cuts. They were always Lucy with the football and Democrats were always Charlie Brown.

There is a video of American history expert Sarah Palin gloating at this link. Conservatives are however inadvertently, at least entertaining sometimes, Fox’s Self-Congratulation Over Benghazi Report Undermined By Report Itself

Fox News figures have tried to use an investigative panel’s recent report on the Benghazi attack to congratulate their network on its coverage of the attack. But the report actually debunks several incorrect and misleading narratives Fox pushed about Benghazi.

[  ]…But the report determined there was “no evidence of any undue delays in decision making or denial of support from Washington or from the military combatant commanders,” and continued, “Quite the contrary: the safe evacuation of all U.S. government personnel from Benghazi twelve hours after the initial attack … was the result of exceptional U.S. government coordination and military response and helped save the lives of two severely wounded Americans.”

Fox also hyped its “exclusive” report that requests for military back-up during the attack were twice denied “by the CIA chain of command” — even though the CIA called Fox’s claims “inaccurate” at the time. But as The Huffington Post pointed out, the Benghazi report debunks that claim. Quoting from the report, Huffington Post wrote, “[A] ‘team leader’ at the annex had ‘decided on his own’ to delay leaving the facility briefly to see if local security elements would arrive with reinforcements. After ‘a brief delay,’ and determining that they would not, the team leader made the decision to move some units toward the compound, the report said.”

Should one decide to venture into the freaky world of conservative spin on Fox news or conservative web sites you’ll find that they were correct about Benghazi and about Fast and Furious ( even though they failed to acknowledge that much of that scandal came down to one agent – A Fortune investigation reveals that the ATF never intentionally allowed guns to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.) This two supposed scandals are good reasons on theory own to never sign up for that nebulous land of the sensible centrist preached from the Beltway and NYT neanderthals like Thomas Friedman. You cannot reach compromises with the morbidly unhinged.

Well, that problem is solved, After Newtown, Sales Boom for Kids’ Body Armor

Six months ago, Amendment II introduced a new line of backpacks, built with the company’s signature carbon nanotube armor, designed to keep kids safe in the event of school shootings. Since Friday’s massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school, sales have gone through the roof. “I can’t go into exact sales numbers, but basically we tripled our sales volume of backpacks that we typically do in a month—in one week,” Williams says.

One can hardly blame parents for trying to do something. While, who knows they just might save a few lives, one of the guns the Newtown murderer had was a Sig Sauer semi-automatic. Watch this video of rapid fire practice with a Sig. That is putting a lot of faith in backpack to think it will protect someone with a similar gun. And remember Wayne LaPierre and the NRA blaming everything, including video games Newtown, How The Gun Industry Profits From Violent Video Games

In a controversial diatribe on Friday, Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, blamed lax security, natural disasters, and, most of all, violent video games for the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT that claimed 27 lives. Despite the NRA’s public condemnation of violent entertainment, the New York Times explains, the gun industry is closely entwined with the gaming industry.

In one recent example of this relationship, the gaming company behind the Medal of Honor series launched a promotional website with links to the catalogs of two major gun manufacturers:

Links on the Medal of Honor site allowed visitors to click through on the Web sites of the game’s partners and peruse their catalogs.

“It was almost like a virtual showroom for guns,” said Ryan Smith, who contributes to the Gameological Society, an online gaming magazine. After Mr. Smith and other gaming enthusiasts criticized the site, Electronic Arts disabled the links, saying it had been unaware of them.

Gun manufacturers also grant video game companies licenses to depict real makes and models of weapons. Though these games are now taking heat from the gun lobby for encouraging violent behavior, they continue to serve as a valuable marketing tool for the industry.

I would still make the distinction that these games encourage people to buy guns – look how much fun it is to blow things away – but they don’t necessarily push people to the point of committing mass murder. According to this site, Medal of Honor has sold 1.2 million copies in North America ( Canada, USA, Mexico). Some studies have shown a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior in teens if played over a long period, but others have shown that the link is not that simple – they can in some circumstances increase cooperation ( which is probably why the military uses them). And there is that Harvard study that shows that the more guns that are around the greater the chances someone will use one to commit a crime.

And finnaly for today, when conservatives bully and eat their own, FreedomWorks tea party group nearly falls apart in fight between old and new guard

The day after Labor Day, just as campaign season was entering its final frenzy, FreedomWorks, the Washington-based tea party organization, went into free fall.

Richard K. Armey, the group’s chairman and a former House majority leader, walked into the group’s Capitol Hill offices with his wife, Susan, and an aide holstering a handgun at his waist. The aim was to seize control of the group and expel Armey’s enemies: The gun-wielding assistant escorted FreedomWorks’ top two employees off the premises, while Armey suspended several others who broke down in sobs at the news.

The coup lasted all of six days. By Sept. 10, Armey was gone — with a promise of $8 million — and the five ousted employees were back. The force behind their return was Richard J. Stephenson, a reclusive Illinois millionaire who has exerted increasing control over one of Washington’s most influential conservative grass-roots organizations.

Kind of obvious but Krugman still beat me to it, Protecting Freedom(Works)

The problem, clearly, is that despite its Tea Party status, FreedomWorks had failed to implement the security measures libertarians have been recommending for schools. If only the staff had been carrying concealed weapons, and those not armed had been trained to launch human wave attacks on gunmen, none of this would have happened, right?

Isn’t that what real Amerikcans do, shoot it out. Last man standing is the winner.

River Winter’s Icy Ledge wallpaper – For Conservatives Everyday is Bizarro World Day

River Winter's Icy Ledge wallpaper

River Winter’s Icy Ledge wallpaper

Summer fading, winter comes—
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children’s eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are,
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies’ looks,
In the pictyure story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?

Picture-books in Winter by Robert Louis Stevenson

I will probably never get over having to counter conservative arguments. The arguments they make are generally lacking in rational empirical proof, the kind of basic logic even most children seem to quickly grasp and as time goes by, proven wrong, all the inane rationalizations that follow. What conservatives feel or divine via visions in the night as the ultimate truth is almost always self evidently false. Sometimes in anger or despair humans have been known to say or write things which they later regret. In the Bizarro World of conservatism those things are published a newspaper columns and the propositions vigorously defended. The WaPo’s conservative columnist  George Will managed to have several columns make a worse columns list of 2012. His contempt for facts and logic seem as tough they will continue to haunt us into 2013, George Will: You Know Who Else Had High Voter Turnout?

George Will argues in his Washington Post column today that what he terms the Justice Department’s “drive to federalize voter registration” is an unnecessarily complex answer to “the non-problem of people choosing not to vote,” and that high voter turnout isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, citing the German elections of the early 1930s that resulted in Nazi dictatorship.

Describing “obvious reasons for non-voting,” he writes:

[T]he stakes of politics are agreeably low because constitutional rights and other essential elements of happiness are not menaced by elections. Those who think high voter turnout indicates civic health should note that in three German elections, 1932-33, turnout averaged more than 86 percent, reflecting the terrible stakes: The elections decided which mobs would rule the streets and who would inhabit concentration camps.

There’s a lot to unpack here, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Germany in the early 1930s was reeling from the global depression, increasingly bitter over the outcome of World War I and the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and overrun by extremist parties with their own paramilitary wings brawling in the streets and shooting at each other outside political rallies. Anti-Semitism was widespread, everyone hated the Weimar government, and nostalgia for the heady days of the Kaiser led most people to actually yearn for a dictatorship of some form. And in this toxic political environment, the Nazis managed to prevail over the other extremist groups — largely due to popular support, but also through conspiracy and outright intimidation.

None of that, however, is an argument against the high voter turnout as a sign of “civic health.” It’s an argument against war, depression, anti-Semitism, Nazis, Communists, and political violence. Will could just as easily have argued that representative government, or elections themselves, aren’t a sign of “civic health,” given how they were misused and perverted by Hitler and his associates.

Let’s reach dep down and get in touch with our base emotions – in other words think like a conservative. In this mind-set we are able to see that Will is trying to save democracy in the same way that Republicans  have tried to suppress voting.  Florida Republicans Admit Voter Suppression Was The Goal Of New Election Laws and conservatives in Arkansas, Montana, and New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Wisconsin and Missouri have all joined in to make it more difficult for Americans to participate in our democracy. Thus saving us, presumably, from becoming a fascist state. Only thing, when people stop participating in democracy, stop learning about the historical precedents and consequences of those actions, is when the extreme Right and extreme Left come to power.

This is from a Meet The Press of 12/26/12 transcript that included NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre,

WAYNE LAPIERRE: You know, look. I know there’s a media machine in this country that wants to blame guns every time something happens. I know there’s an anti-second amendment industry in this country. I know there are political (UNINTEL) for 20 years always try to say it’s because Americans own guns.

I’m telling you what I think will make people safe. And what every mom and dad will make them feel better when they drop their kid off at school in January, is if we have a police officer in that school, a good guy, that if some horrible monster tries to do something, they’ll be there to protect them.

Conservatives say that government is never the answer, except I guess when they have a uniform and a gun. An ex-Marine goes on a killing spree at the University of Texas, Former security guard charged in murder spree, New Jersey Police Officer Charged With Multiple Counts Of Attempted Homicide, The Culpeper Police Department fired an officer who is facing charges in the fatal shooting of a 54-year-old Culpeper woman, Ex-F.B.I. Agent Admits Slaying and Gets 16 Years, 2 ex-cops accused in murder plot. This has been one of the more glaring hypocrisies of the far Right for decades. Much of what they say about small gov’mint has a coded meaning. They generally have no problem with the surveillance state and treating every American as a suspect. They have no problem with authoritarian solutions to most domestic issues and of course all foreign policy issues can be solved with a bomb from the tax payers and gov’mint. And who is going to pay to have an armed watcher everywhere. And who is going to watch the watchers and hold them accountable. This is the conservative version of the Dr Seuss book The Butter Battle Book. We’ll have legally armed enforcers everywhere, citizens will all have guns, the firing starts and everyone thinks they’ll be able to differentiate the good shooters from the bad shooters, have the aim of a super agent from a spy thriller and wow the stories of the glories of guns that our children will tell. I can understand someone having a gun in their night stand drawer, most of us left of center can. People like LaPierre are making a joke of and creating animosity towards guns and such gun owners by acting like a gun crazed assbrick. It is doing far more to hurt the concept of sensible gun ownership than any liberal ever could.

The race begins when a Zook named Van Itch slingshots the Yooks’ “Tough-Tufted Prickly Snick-Berry Switch”, which could be used to give Zooks a twitch if they dared to come close to the wall, which was guarded by “the Zook-Watching Border Patrol”. The Yooks then develop a machine with three slingshots interlinked, called a “Triple-Sling Jigger”. This works once (Van Itch got scared and ran off), but the Zooks counterattack with their own creation: The “Jigger-Rock Snatchem”, a machine with three nets to fling the rocks fired from the Triple-Sling Jigger back at the Yooks’ side “just as fast as we catch ’em”.

    Jerusalem, Mount of Olives during a snowy winter circa 1915.

Jerusalem, Mount of Olives during a snowy winter circa 1915. It is a wee bit more populated these days.

Winter at Eagle River wallpaper – Republicans Stunned at Specter of Economic Reality

Winter at Eagle River wallpaper

Winter at Eagle River wallpaper


The humiliation of John Boehner. He’s powerless, and his own party continues to make him look like a fool. Maybe he’ll just walk away. I’m not saying that Boehner has not been humiliated, it is just that the conservative threshold for humiliation is more distorted than your average main Street American. This past group of Republicans presidential candidates was a clown car of conservatism. It was remarkably similar to the conservative clown car of candidates in 2008. If you do a Google search for the term conservative clown car you’re get a lot of results from conservative clown blogs. Only their beef was not that these Republicans were not too wacky, it was they were not radical enough. Maybe not your next door neighbor conservatives who really buys into the plastic patriotism sold by Limbaugh and Coulter, but the movement conservatives who run the Republican Partay have made it their goal to destroy everything associated with the New Deal and The Great Society ( Medicare, public education, food assistance, regulating toxic waste, civil rights) for over forty years. People like that do have possess the sense of shame necessary to feel humiliated. The biggest current proof of that is that no Republican faction in the House is calling for Boehner to resign or clamoring for the Speaker position for themselves.

Exactly where Plan B fit into Boehner’s overall strategy was a matter of some debate, but he pressed hard for it and confidently predicted he had the 218 votes needed to pass it. So now we know that not only does Boehner not have sufficient support among Republicans to pass a potential compromise with Obama, he also doesn’t have the support to pass his own plan.

It’s tough to be mindless zealot. The Republican plan has always been to oppose anything Democrats are for. If Democrats liked puppies, Republicans were against puppies. Now they have to change gears or all of the Bush/Obama tax rates return to their 1990s level. In order to stop that they have to agree to a compromise. Compromise or raise everyone’s taxes? The Republican reaction is to act like lab arts running into a maze wall. They just can’t turn away from the wall. They have always run into the wall and always gotten most of what they wanted. So the humiliation is just a side show. They’re dazed and confused that their usual conservative agenda first, America last mentality, is not working. Digby and Matthew Yglesias join in the call for going over the cliff. I hope the President is listening. It would be the best possible outcome for the country and it might just snap conservatives out of their standing coma.

Construction at the moveable dam Chippewa County, Michigan, 1901-02

Lake Superior Power Company, construction at the moveable dam Chippewa County, Michigan, 1901-02. These are the type of American workers Republicans call “terrorists”. Fair wages? Taking breaks to get warm and have some coffee? That’s just Marxist commie statist thinking.

 Wisconsin’s Scott Walker(R) Trusts Teachers with Guns, But Not Collective Bargaining

Giving guns to teachers should be “part of the discussion,” he said [3] on December 19. Walker refused to endorse an assault weapons ban or other limits on the types of guns or ammunition that can be sold.

Teachers Need Guns, Not Unions?

Walker’s infamous Act 10 legislation drastically curtailed the collective bargaining rights of most public employees in the state, prompting months of historic protests and a recall effort. The governor justified the harsh legislation — which he never mentioned during the campaign that installed him in office — largely by demonizing unionized teachers [4] as overpaid and underperforming.

The six teachers killed in the Newtown massacre, all members of an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union chapter, have been widely praised [5] for their heroism, with many shot while trying to shield their students.

According to polls most Americans want some modest reasonable gun control. Not to take away the gun you keep in the bed side table in case of a home invasion, but like bringing back the assault weapons ban Bush 41 signed into law. While conservatives have extraordinary skills when it comes to twisting themselves into irrational knots, they are truly out doing themselves over even talk of modest regulations, NRA Blames Everything Except Guns: Outdated Video Games, Hurricanes, And Corporate Media Led To Newtown

In a news conference repeatedly interrupted by protesters blaming the NRA for “killing our kids,” LaPierre shoveled out blame far and wide, going after reporters for glorifying killers like Adam Lanza, violent movies, video games, and music videos. He tore into gun safety advocates for exploiting the tragedy for “political gain,” targeted President Obama for underfunding police initiatives in schools, and said that the media demonized “local gun owners” and spread “misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next violence is a new cycle away.” “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization,” he said.

Only gun owners and gun lobbyists — who have spent years easing gun regulations across the country — were spared any responsibility.

Guns do not kill people but video games do. Some liberals will jump on the violent culture bandwagon, but there has never been any proof that adults who watch violent movies and play action oriented games are prone to commit violent acts. And obviously an animate object cannot make anyone do anything, but where there are guns readily available the homicide rate goes up. I cannot find the link now, but one pundit said that this is going to take time. We as a nation have escalated gun possession and gun use as a a way to deal with problems over the last few decades. A little like nuclear arms escalation staring in the 1950s it will take a while for the paranoia and the personal firearms race to trend backwards. On the same day that Waynie Boy made his pathetic speech, 4 dead in Blair Co. shooting; 3 troopers injured. According to Wayne and every other conservative on the net, if everyone was armed we’d all be safe. Than why do armed people keep attacking armed law enforcement officers.

Conservatives frequently live in this bubble of the evils of modernity. An ideological trait they share with fundamentalist Muslims. While only a history buff, from my reading people did not start murdering people with the invention of TV, movies, video games, the contraceptive pill, slick glossy magazines, women’s suffrage or the internet. Humanity has always had a tendency towards violence, semi-automatic weapons just make that tendency easier.

Top Conservative Cat @TeaPartyCat

Per the NRA, Florida GOP to expand Stand Your Ground to allow “shooting anyone who you think may have been exposed to harmful video games.”

These are some Tweets from Republican David Frum. Not even Frum can buy into the twisted logic that putting an armed person everywhere will stop gun murders,

We need a federal agent at every cancer hospital
View summary
1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every marriage proposal
View summary
1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every gun range.
View media
1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every teen birthday party

We need a federal agent at every country & western concert
View summary
1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every Hallowe’en party

Workers clearing snow in Washington D.C. between 1909 and 1920

Workers clearing snow in Washington D.C. between 1909 and 1920. This is another example of the kind of Americans that Michelle Malkin, Scott Walker the Koch brothers and Republican bloggers call thugs.

This a great column and I generally don’t like end of the year lists. Just a few highlights, The 50 Worst Columns of 2012

George Will in The Washington Post on why voting for a black President is racist To many, Barack Obama’s election back in 2008 was a sign of progress on racial equality. But the way George Will sees it, MLK’s dream will come true only when voters feel empowered to reject black candidates. “The nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure—thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him—seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president,” Will writes, urging voters to take a stand for diversity by voting a black guy out of office and a white guy in.

[  ]…Megan McArdle at The Daily Beast on teaching kids to run toward the shooter There was little anyone could do to make sense of last week’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. But Megan McArdle—desperate to draw any lesson from the senselessness, no matter how crazy—made this horrifying, counter-intuitive suggestion: “If we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.” Nope. We’re not even going to try to snark on this. Just … dear god. You too, Charlotte Allen. What the hell.

[  ]…Ross Douthat in The New York Times on babies Hey, women, did you know that if you’re not in labor right now you’re literally destroying America? And, men, every time you use a condom you’re pounding one more nail into the coffin of the American dream. Considering the declining birth rate in the U.S., Ross Douthat is disgusted by “a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.” Sacrifices like doing the deed before birth control existed.

[   ]…Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review on Susan Rice It’s a great time to be a black woman, argues a white man named Victor Davis Hanson. “In the nexus of elite universities and Democratic politics,” Hanson writes about the Susan Rice confirmation holdup, “being black, female, and elite is far more advantageous that being white, male, and poor.” Right. Because we have so few white guys in politics, while the number of black female Senators can be counted on no hands.

This is not what Hanson means, but there is something to be said for the forgotten working poor white males. They are the forgotten minority. Conservative encourage and exploit what they perceive as their decline. These white males are treading water, not because of conservative trade and economic policies have kept them struggling and near powerless, but because….. evil liberals… progressives…women….unions. So they cling to the Glenn Beck conspiracy theories about the UN and commie around every corner, and have nightmares about someone buying candy bars with food stamps rather than see the reality about who is really giving them the shaft.

Green Scottish Hills wallpaper – No Deals on Fiscal Cliff, Wait Until January Mr President

Green Scottish Hills wallpaper

Green Scottish Hills wallpaper


Gun related issues aside this week has been largely about learning a new term, at least for non-wonks. President Obama is taking a lot of heat for, in the words of some Democratic analysts, willingness to cut Social Security benefits. there is some honest disagreement on whether or not that is truly the case. What he has offered to do is connect future increases in Social Security benefits to ‘chained CPI‘.

Making such a change also means paying out less in Social Security benefits over time — something liberal Democrats can’t stomach. Imagine, for example, a person born in 1935 who retired to full benefits at age 65 in 2000. People in that position had an average initial monthly benefit of $1,435, or $17,220 a year, according to the Social Security Administration. Under the cost-of-living-adjustment formula and 2012 inflation, that benefit would be up to $1,986 a month in 2013, or $23,832 a year. But if payouts were adjusted using chained CPI, the sum would be around $1,880 a month, or $22,560 a year — a cut of more than 5 percent and more as the years go by.

As for taxes, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has calculated that most Americans would pay a little more than $100 more per year. Families making between $30,000 and $40,000 a year would see the biggest increases — almost six times that faced by millionaires — but that’s because upper-income Americans are already in the top bracket and not being pushed into higher marginal rates because of changing bracket thresholds.

All told, chained CPI would lead to a larger across-the-board cut in Social Security benefits and a 0.19 percent income surtax, according to experts.

This makes for an odd situation since some of the more respected Democratic leaning wonks like the economists at American Progress and at the CBPP do not think chained CPI is bad if implemented correctly. That said Robert Kuttner, a very good economics analysts thinks chained CPI is a bad deal and does not hold back, Social Security and the Obama Cave-In. CBPP might be correct and then only if Congress incorporates this very precise language – a good piece here on all the tiny pieces that would have to work together to make a deal invlving the CPI to be less painful to those who can least afford it – The progressive case for the chained CPI . Knowing Republicans they are not likely to agree to anything that will benefit low to average income seniors, you know, because they have no “skin” in the game. So that makes two hurdles. The most important aspect of it is that a deal that includes chained CPi just isn’t necessary. I suspect, given Obama’s history of having a deep affinity for reaching out, that he has offered this part of the deal so that Republicans can save face. Boehner is particular can say see, we got some cuts in those gov’mint hand-outs to all those lazy leeching seniors. 8 Deficit Reducers That Are More Ethical—And More Effective—Than the ‘Chained CPI’

Independent estimates say that the “chained CPI” will slash Social Security benefits by $122 billion over the next ten years. Here are eight solutions that will save more money—and really will reduce the deficit—without compromising either our ethics or our sense of fairness:

1. Close multiple loopholes in the capital gains law: $174.2 billion. (1.42x)

Lawmakers could save nearly one and a half times as much money as they’ll get from stripping seniors, the disabled, veterans, and children of their benefits—1.42 times as much, to be precise—by closing capital gains loopholes.

They include the “carried interest” loophole, which taxes hedge fund managers’ service fees at the low “investors’” rate; the ‘blended rate,’ which taxes some quick derivatives trades as if they were long-term investments; the ability to ‘gift’ capital gains to avoid taxation; a dodge for bartering capital gains; and the ability to ‘defer’ gains to future years.

Conservatives, including Mitt Romney during his campaign, claimed they would raise revenues by closing loopholes in the tax code. here is another chance to embarrass them. They will not agree to cuts  to the capital gains nanny state. These are people who make money off the work of others. If they were all kidnapped by Martians tomorrow we’d all be better off.

2. Refuse to compromise on the President’s $250,000 figure for increased taxation: $183 billion ( these figures are new revenue) (1.5x)

[  ]…3. Reduce the budget for US overseas military bases by 20 percent: $200 billion. (1.6x)

The United States maintains 702 military ‘installations’ in 63 foreign countries (it has 4,471 bases altogether), according to the Defense Department’s annual budget statement.

4. Allow the government to negotiate with drug companies: $220 billion. (1.8x)

Current law specifically forbids the government from using its negotiating power to obtain lower rates for Medicare prescriptions—even though much of the research behind the drugs involved was performed at government expense.

6. Enact Rep. Jan Schakowsky’s ‘Fairness in Taxation Act’ for very high earners: $872.5 billion. (7.15x)

7. Eliminate corporate tax loopholes: $1.24 trillion (10x)

8. Create a financial transactions tax for high-volume Wall Street trading: $1.8 trillion (14.75x)

And here’s our grand prize winner: A financial transaction tax like the one they’ve imposed in the United Kingdom. The UK tax rate is tiny—0.25 percent of each transaction, levied on both parties—but the overall impact is substantial.

Not only would this tax bring in substantial revenue, it would also discourage the massive volume of ultra-high-speed computer-driven transactions that have turned the stock market into both an imperceptible ‘black box’ and a real-time mega-casino operating in nanoseconds.

This new sources of revenue would be painless. Billionaires will not stop investing. No millionaires will be suddenly forced to go dumpster diving. America will not rot in the bowels of Marxist hell. But millions of Americans who have worked hard all their lives and deserve a decent standard of living will not have to sacrifice anymore than they do already. Democrats should fight for the above and wait until January, House Republicans Again Show Why We Need to Wait Until January for a Deal. As usual the very serious people are acting like mindless zombie clowns.

When it comes to economic issues conservatives call upon some clown like Arthur Laffer. When the focus is on issues related to gun violence they turn to a clown named John Lott. Why is the discredited John Lott used as an authoritative source on gun violence?

After Mass Shooting In Aurora, Lott Denied The Fact That America Has The Highest Rate Of Gun Deaths In The Civilized World. Appearing on CNN in the wake of the mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, CO, Lott rejected host Piers Morgan’s assertion that “America has the worst incidents of gun murders of any of what they call the civilized world.” Lott told Morgan that “factually, it’s not true.” In reality, a 2003 Harvard School of Public Health study revealed that the firearm homicide rate in the United States is 19.5 times higher than the average rate found in other high-income nations. [CNN, Piers Morgan Tonight, 7/24/12, via Media Matters]

If he cannot, or more likely, will not, get such a basic fact correct, that says a lot about the rest of his “research”. And remember conservatives are not freaking out over some proposal to ban guns – though that myth has been on conservative web sites for years. Most of the proposals are about sensible restrictions on certain types of guns and the size of ammo magazines.

A conservative web site called P.J. Tatler is outraged, Disgraceful: Obama Invokes Newtown Massacre to Pressure Republicans to Go Along with His Tax Hikes

During his press conference today, called to announce his new gun control task force, President Obama invoked the Newtown massacre to apply pressure on congressional Republicans in the fiscal cliff standoff.

OBAMA: If this past week has done anything it should give us some perspective. I-I-I-If there’s one thing we should have, after this week, it should be a sense of perspective about what’s important. And I would like to think that members of that caucus would say to themselves “You know what, I disagree with the president on some things. We wish the other guy had won. We’re gonna fight him on a whole range of issues over the next four years. We think his philosophy is all screwed up. But right now, what the country needs is for us to compromise, get a deficit reduction deal in place, make sure middle class taxes don’t go up, make sure that we’re laying the foundations for growth, give certainty to businesses large and small, not put ourselves through some sort of self-inflicted crisis every six months, allow ourselves time to focus on things like preventing the tragedy in Newtown from happening again, focus on issues like energy and immigration reform, all the things that will make a determination as to whether our country grows over the next four years, ten years, 20 years, and if we could just pull back from the immediate political battles, if ya peel off the partisan war paint, then we should be able to get something done.”

I think, I think the Speaker would like to get that done. But an environment needs to be created not just among House Republicans but among Senate Republicans that says the campaign is over and let’s see if we can do what’s right for the country, at least for the next month! And then, we can re-engage in all the other battles that they’ll wanna fight.

This has to be one of the lowest moments of a very low presidency


Republicans really seem to think a 3% tax tax increase on the wealthiest people in the U.S. is the end of the world. Now they are outraged that the president should use a genuine tragedy to draw parallels about what should invoke outrage. Oh yea, this is truly a low point said the wackos who lied and over four thousand Americans died. Too bad we can’t tax false outrage, Republican bombast alone could balance the budget in months.

Antique Double Hemisphere World Map c1780 – Are Conservatives Concerned About American Tragedies or Always Happy To Exploit Them

Antique Double Hemisphere World Map c1780

Antique Double Hemisphere World Map c1780. Created by Samuel Dunn (died 1794), who was a British mathematician and amateur astronomer. Note in the top center are celestial maps and at the bottom center is a map of the moon’s surface. There is also a good map on his Wikipedia page.

Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men; Will You Help Us Keep that Promise

Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men; Will You Help Us Keep that Promise”. This is a recruiting – Around 1915  –  poster from Australia for what they called at the time, The Great War, now referred to as WW I. Australia would suffer about 62,000 casualties from the war.

Remember Scarborough! Enlist Now

“Remember Scarborough! Enlist Now”. Almost a recruiting poster from WW I – created in 1915. Scarborough, Hartlepool, and Whitby were small English coastal towns. On December 16, 1914, a German naval force of battle cruisers bombarded Scarborough, an defended town without any gun placements. The Germans were hoping to draw out the numerically superior British naval fleet out into the North Sea, where it would be vulnerable to German minefields and submarine attack. The Germans claimed they though the town did have gun placements. 122 civilians were killed and another 443 wounded. Military service was voluntary at the time and recruiters hoped to appeal to public anger at the Scarborough attacks to encourage enlistment. The heroic figure is Britannia carrying the British flag. In the background – difficult to see in the thumbnail, is a burning town.

So many conservatives are having what appears to be mental breakdowns at the mere thought that there might be some tiny bit of gun regulation – closing the gun show loophole, limits on magazine size for semi-automatics – are two of the modest proposals I have seen floated around by Democrats and a few conservatives. I cannot cover them all so I’ll go with the King of Konservatism, Rush Limbaugh. We’re Living the Collapse of Our Culture

RUSH:  Oh, no, no, no, no.  It’s very frustrating because we’re now immersed in many circumstances and situations where the last thing that anybody wants to hear are facts.  The last thing anybody wants to contemplate is the real truth about something.  Instead, everybody wants to live in illusions and advanced political agendas.

[  ]….So much to say about this, and I sit here in full knowledge that were I to open up and share with you my genuine, real thoughts about what’s going on in this country, I’d be brought up on charges.  I think we’re looking at all the wrong places to solve all of these problems.

Remember, folks, during the presidential campaign, I said, “Twenty-five years ago we were warning about what was going to happen if X kept happening and Y kept happening and if we didn’t stop Z.”  Well, now, we’re there.  We’re no longer talking about what will happen unless we do something about it.  We’re living it.  We’re living the collapse.  We’re living the implosion of our culture and our society.  Politically, morally, religiously, you name it, and it all stems from the fact that no one is allowed to have values.  Values are judgmental.  You have no right to impose values on people.

So we’ve gotten to the point where nothing is really wrong.  There are just explanations for it.  And in practically every instance, the explanation and the proposed cure is nothing more than the advancement of a particular political belief or ideology.  In this case, liberalism.

I do not remember a time when Limbaugh and conservatives were not saying these were the end times, liberals are to blame, feminists are to blame, unions are to blame. In this transcript he also includes mental health professionals and supporters of good mental health. I tempted to write some throw-away line about hardly blaming Limbaugh for this tiresome rant of the kind that has made him a millionaire. Yet speaking of responsibility and accountability and other multiple syllable words that conservatives struggle to say or define; his assertions are unsupported, as usual by anything resembling a fact. Conservatives just don’t do evidence based arguments. They say whatever it is often. Sometimes they say it loud. Repetition and volume do not magically make things true. Limbaugh has made a career out of having one schtick and he sticks to it. His listeners don’t care if he sticks to the facts. He is their golden calf and you don’t question anything when you join up with the Ditto head army of adopters. If every year you predict the end of American culture, the end of the country, well, who knows one day you might be right. A bankruptcy inducing strategy for roulette, but it turns out to pay very well in conservative Lala Land. Yep back in the day the when the USA was ruled by manly white racist, those were the days we need to get back to,

Limbaugh praised former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond for calling a gay soldier “not normal”: “He’s not encumbered by being politically correct…. If you want to know what America used to be–and a lot of people wish it still were–then you listen to Strom Thurmond.” (TV show, 9/1/93, transcript archived on Nexis) In the America that “used to be,” Thurmond was one of the country’s leading racists, running for president in 1948 on the Dixiecrat ticket, with a platform that opposed federal anti-lynching laws and boasted the slogan, “Segregation Forever!”

** Limbaugh admitted to Newsday’s Richard Gehr (10/8/90) that as a DJ in Pittsburgh in the 1970s he had once dismissed a black caller by saying, “Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.”

This might be news to many people, but Limbaugh is both an expert economist and a math wiz,

New Math

LIMBAUGH: Comparing spending on entitlements to military spending: “Social Security alone would make three military budgets.” (radio, 12/13/95)

REALITY: In 1995, according to the Office for Management and Budget, the U.S. spent $291 billion on the military. Three times $291 billion is $873 billion. Social Security in 1995, according to OMB, cost $362 billion.

When He Was a Boy…

LIMBAUGH: Limbaugh enumerated some of the changes the world has seen since the birth of his 104-year-old grandfather: “When he was born–I mean, we look at things that have happened since he was born. Electricity’s been invented, the automobile was invented, the mule as a means of plowing the field vanished.” (TV, 12/27/95)

REALITY: Limbaugh was combining two of his worst subjects: science and history. The first commercial use of electricity, the telegraph, began in 1843–almost 50 years before Limbaugh’s grandfather was born in 1891. Edison invented his electric light bulb in 1879, and 1881 saw the first practical electric railway (Electrical Construction & Maintenance, 5/91). The first steam- powered automobile was invented in 1769, while gasoline-powered models were introduced in 1885 (Automotive Engineering, 6/90).

5. James Madison

LIMBAUGH: Quotes James Madison: “We have staked the future upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

FAIR: “We didn’t find anything in our files remotely like the sentiment expressed in the extract you sent to us,’ David B. Matter, associate editor of The Madison Papers, told the Kansas City Star (1/16/94). In addition, the idea is entirely inconsistent with everything we know about Madison’s views on religion and government.'”

It is not uncommon for people to look at the past through rose colored glasses, Limbaugh seems get his history from crystal balls and acid trip like hallucinations. The Madison he is trying to wrangle into a conservative corner was a complex man and wrote quite a bit about religion including,

  • The civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and the devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the State (Letter to Robert Walsh, Mar. 2, 1819).
  • Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and & Gov’t in the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history (Detached Memoranda, circa 1820).

According to Limbaugh, who is certain that liberalism is to blame for everything from diaper rash to the next mass murder, conservatives did nothing wrong in a little treasonous episode called the Iran-Contra scandal,

Reinterpreting his false claim that no one had been indicted in the Iran-Contra scandal, Limbaugh declared: “I obviously misspoke when I said there were no indictments — I clearly meant to say there were no convictions, a point I have made on many occasions.”

Limbaugh did not “misspeak”: He had argued at length (TV, 1/19/94) that none of the 14 Iran-contra indictments ever happened. And his fallback position is equally false: Most of the 14 were either convicted or plead guilty, including many felonies. That’s why Limbaugh was already backpedaling in his rebuttal: There were “no convictions on the substantive points,” he claimed — citing Ed Meese as his expert.

One of the more stellar moments of Konservative Kulture at work was that Admiral John Poindexter was one of those convicted felons. Conservatives, being the grand and noble guardians of cultural norms – like not rewarding convicted felons – appointed this convicted felon who betrayed the U.S. to director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office during the Bush 43 administration. Letting no treachery go unrewarded is one way to push American culture into the sewer.

Perhaps Limbaugh is not having a breakdown, but just just another shrill chapter in the failed history of conservatism. One to exploit his followers to pay the rent on his Palm Beach mansion.

Here are some more conservatives setting a great example of how to be moral upstanding Americans, Conservative Group, Club for Growth,Tells Republicans To Hold Hurricane Sandy Relief Package Hostage.

The blame liberalism crowd(Tea Party Group Blames Connecticut Shooting On Teachers, Unions, And Sex) also has to explain – and I’m sure they have some explanation stored between their confederate flags and right-wing manifestos – for the mind control that includes Conservatives among those serial killers and mass murderers – like Holocaust Museum killer James Von Bruun, Glenn Beck fan Byron Williams, cop killer Richard Poplawski who was afraid that President Obama was going to ban all guns, Maine dirty bomber James Trafton, anti-government nutbar Joseph Stack and of course no one has gotten any ideas about using guns to solve political differences from Sharon Angle*, Michele Bachmann, Bernard Goldberg or other conservatives who have suggested something in the ball park of, “If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies*.” Are conservatives such as Limbaugh really concerned about cultural calamity or are they actively hoping and working for it so they can recreate some weird cyborg nation that is half Medieval Europe and half Antebellum south.

The Good Old Days: Myth vs. Reality

By 1830, a skilled worker or experienced machinist earned as much as $1.25 a day. However, jobs that paid that well were uncommon. An average worker could expect to earn between fifty and seventy-five cents a day. A woman lucky enough to find a paying job earned far less than a man. Her standard wage was anywhere from half to two-thirds less than her male counterpart.

Unions were almost unheard of. Where they existed they were considered, by factory owners and industrialists, to be “un-American.” When horse-car drivers in New York City demanded that their traditional 16-hour work day be reduced to only 12 hours, their demands were branded as “communistic” by state assemblyman Teddy Roosevelt. When strikes did occur, they were often put down by troops and militiamen.

Child labor

Children often worked the same long hours as their parents. By 1900 there were nearly two million children under fifteen years of age working in factories across the nation. Child labor was in great demand by employers who considered children to be a bargain. Kids were paid between $1.50 and $2.50 a week for up to 84 hours of work. (Two or three cents an hour was considered low pay, even by the standards of the day.)

Safety in the workplace

In the days before government regulations and the union movement, the place where you worked could easily become the place where you died. President Harrison observed in 1892 that, “American workmen are subjected to peril of life and limb as great as a soldier in time of war.”

During the 1890s it was estimated that nearly a million workers were killed or injured each year in the work place. Power shafts and belts to drive the machines were open and unprotected. Factories were dimly lighted and the workers’ machines and equipment were not equipped with the safety devices now required by law. The rule of thumb,for those lucky enough to still have one, was, “if you take the job – you assume the risk.”

Railroads were especially dangerous places to work. In 1900 alone, more than 2,600 rail workers lost their lives in rail accidents and more than 41,000 were maimed or injured. Between 1898 and 1900 American railroads lost as many workers to accidents as the entire British Army did in its three-year Boer War.

Workers’ compensation was unknown. Disabled workers received no pay, benefits, or social security. During this same period, the wealthiest men in America were the owners of railroads. Railroad Barons amassed fortunes ranging into the billions of dollars.

Industry and energy

In the early 1800s people and animals were the number one and two sources of energy. In that order. Machinery was relatively uncommon and the amount of work a person could complete in a work day was almost entirely dependent upon strength and personal endurance. As the century progressed, there was a noticeable decline in wood cover around America’s growing communities. Racing TrainsBy 1860 most of the firewood used in Boston, Massachusetts was being hauled by ship from Maine. Energy was expensive in terms of human labor and cash. Getting enough fuel to last the winter was a year-round chore for rural folks. A miscalculation in the amount of wood collected could mean, at worst, freezing to death and at best, a long miserable winter. In the industrialized north, water power was the source of energy for mills. By the 1830s, five to ten horse power was typical for a country mill and twenty-five to fifty horse power was standard for a large city mill.

Mills often had to shut down for extended periods in the summer and winter months because water power was not available due to droughts or frozen ponds and rivers. Clocks in many mills were tied to the water wheel. The slower the flow of water – the longer the work day. It was a practice called “mill time” that came to an end when towns and churches installed clock towers on the commons.

The standard of living

While life may have been cheap for the industrialists, the cost of living was high for the workers. Looking at the ads in old newspapers, we are often struck by seemingly low prices of goods and groceries. Some typical prices at the turn of the last century were:
“Good Old Days” Prices           Modern Price Equivalents
Butter …….. 19 cents a pound
Bacon ……… 10 cents a pound
Fowl ………. 12 cents a pound
Eggs ………. 15 cents a dozen
Shoes …… $2.50 a pair
Flour …… $6.50 a barrel
Fire Wood .. $3.00 a cord

In today’s dollars:

Butter ……… $36.48 a pound
Bacon ………. $19.20 a pound
Fowl ……….. $23.04 a pound
Eggs ……….. $28.80 a dozen
Shoes ……… $480.00 a pair
Flour ……. $1,248.00 a barrel
Fire Wood ….. $576.00 a cord

When “Old Days” prices are translated into the numbers of hours worked and then charged against today’s typical wage of $12.00 an hour, a different picture emerges. For example: butter at 19 cents a pound meant that an average worker making 75 cents a day on a 12 hour shift had to work just over three hours for his pound of butter. If it took as many hours to earn a pound of butter today as it did in the 1800s, butter would sell for about $36.48 a pound. Hardly a bargain.

Hard times

Without the safety-net of unemployment insurance, food stamps, or other state or federal service programs, folks of the 1800s were pretty much at the mercy of their employer and the whims of a changing American economy.

In the early days, when a man lost his job, he faced the very real prospect of watching himself and his family starve to death. To a large extent, employers realized this and had a steady, if not willing, pool of people ready to work at any price.

In 1887 America experienced a depression that saw nearly three million workers loose their jobs. Many families lost their homes or were thrown out of their city tenements. Thousands of homeless families lived on the streets of major cities.

Between 1893-98, another economic crisis swept the country throwing nearly four million workers off their jobs. Almost one in five workers was jobless.

Factory owners faced with diminishing profits often cut wages. When workers refused wage cuts or attempted to unionize, the factories simply shut down. Lockouts usually ended after workers pledged to the owners that they would not form a union.


After a hard day at work, in the fields or factory, most people returned home, ate whatever dinner was ready, and collapsed until the start of the next work day. Folks who wished to stay up and socialize or finish chores often did so in dim, candle lit rooms.

By the standards of yesterday, our homes blaze with the brilliance of day. A twenty-five watt bulb burns with the light of more than 200 candles. An average family room today has about 175 watts of light – or the equivalent of more than 1,400 candles.


Horses were common forms of transportation and their pollutants were everywhere. The early street sweepers and sanitation men who were hired to keep the streets clean were not just picking up gum wrappers. In twelve months a city with 15,000 horses produces enough manure to cover an acre of ground to the depth of 175 feet. That amount of waste, when mixed with summer rains and the hot August sun turned large cities like Boston, New York, and Chicago into the worst kind of steam baths imaginable.

Civil Rights

Racial and religious minorities were at the mercy of the times. In 1836 a school for black children was burned to the ground by an angry white mob in Canton, Connecticut. Slavery was the law of the land until it was ended by the civil war and a constitutional amendment.

Between 1882 and 1903, more than 3,300 people were lynched across the United States. Lynching of blacks alone totaled 2,060. Guilt or innocence made little difference to a mob driven by a blood lust. Lynching went far beyond simple hanging and often include anything from boiling the victim alive, castration, and torture to burning at the stake.

Discrimination in the workplace was rampant. Blacks, Jews, and Catholics were not allowed to work at many jobs. The law of the land did not protect minorities in the good old days.


As cities became industrialized, the air was modernized. Smoke stacks were considered a sign of progress and large industrialized cities had hundreds, if not thousands, of them. Clouds of pollutants –- sulfur, ammonia, and coal dust – settled on laundry, lungs, and gardens. Tanneries with their slaughter houses, bone boiling, and manure added their own unique flavor to the air around them.

Government regulations to protect citizens and the environment were nonexistent. Business resisted then, as much as it does today, any attempt to make it clean up its act. Pollution was accepted as the necessary price of progress.


Food in the good old days wasn’t always that good. Reports abound of stores selling food products that were adulterated or mixed with questionable ingredients. Without refrigeration, butter was often rancid. If not rancid, it might contain a mixture of casein and water. If butter was in short supply, a local concoction of calcium, gypsum, gelatin, lard and mashed potatoes might be offered to the consumer. Sometimes bleach was added to produce the creamy appearance of real butter.

In the days before the Food and Drug Administration the rule was definitely “buyer beware.” Coffee might be anything from coffee to a high priced blend of roasted peas, beans, chicory, and rye. Some bakers were known to add large amounts of alum to flour in addition to an unknown quality of roaches, bugs and other insects.

Before the days of refrigeration, store-bought meat was a real adventure. In the slums of the larger cities, the poor could buy their meat from second-hand meat stores places that specialized in collecting and re-selling other people’s table scraps.


In the slums of large cities and rural towns, the poor lived lives of utter despair. If you were poor, life tended to be harsh and short. Disease and starvation were grim realities. In the 1830s the first “poor farms” were established in smaller communities.

In the early days of the 1800s, the poor were viewed as a community problem and were often assisted by the town and some private charities. As the poor migrated to large cities in search of work, and their numbers grew, charities were overwhelmed by sheer numbers. By 1880, an estimated 100,000 homeless children wandered the streets and back alleys of New York City.

Life and Death

A child born in the 1800s had a 40 percent chance of dying before they could grow to adulthood. Disease and high infant mortality were facts of life and epidemics were common. Hundreds of thousands died each year from cholera, small pox, yellow fever, influenza and other common diseases. Antibiotic drugs and vaccinations were not yet discovered.

Stormy Weather wallpaper – Republicans Weaken America With Financial Shenanigans and Shifty Arguments

Stormy Weather wallpaper, lightning storm, nature

Stormy Weather wallpaper

Before moving on to some other news let’s revisit this part of Paul Krugman’s last column, The G.O.P.’s Existential Crisis

Since the 1970s, the Republican Party has fallen increasingly under the influence of radical ideologues, whose goal is nothing less than the elimination of the welfare state — that is, the whole legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. From the beginning, however, these ideologues have had a big problem: The programs they want to kill are very popular. Americans may nod their heads when you attack big government in the abstract, but they strongly support Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid. So what’s a radical to do?

The answer, for a long time, has involved two strategies. One is “starve the beast,” the idea of using tax cuts to reduce government revenue, then using the resulting lack of funds to force cuts in popular social programs. Whenever you see some Republican politician piously denouncing federal red ink, always remember that, for decades, the G.O.P. has seen budget deficits as a feature, not a bug.


The observation that Republicans purposely, with malicious intent run deficits when they have the power to do so runs against all the conventional, all the ranting from conservatives politicians and pundits and the echo chamber the media is happy to supply. Your conservative cousin and  neighbor would call you a crazy Leftist conspiracy nut for suggesting such a thing. Conservatives are the fiscally responsible party, the partay’ of values and would never run some kind of fiscal scam on the American people. This is a nice catch from Tom at Mike’s Economics, “Starve the Beast”

David Stockman admitted this back in 1985, as reported by Tom Wicker in “Stockman leaks ‘real’ reasons for budget deficit.”

…it now appears that the deficit was created by Reagan to do away with Democratic social programs dating back to the New Deal.

Who says so? David Stockman, the departing budget director, at second hand, and Friedrich von Hayek directly….

Republicans have malciously run up deficits


Stockman was Saint Ronnie’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Unfortunate Google only has this stored on some kind of Flash paper. So here we are 25 years later and what are conservatives do? Using the deficit, which they are largely responsible for – and ironically the Wall Street crash of 2007, which they voted to bail-out – to argue for slashing the safety net and anything else within slashing distance. If Republicans had raised revenue to pay for every dollar they spent from 2001 to 2009, the budget deficit would hardly be worth all the drama.

Ron Fournier is a hack who used to work for AP and somehow wrangled a job at the National Journal where he continues to be a hack. Fournier is worse in some ways than conservative pundits. He tries to fly under the radar as a straight up journalist, when in fact he does what he can to pander to Karl Rove and Company. This post-election analysis is a good example, Obama Victory Comes With No Mandate

Barack Obama won a second term but no mandate. Thanks in part to his own small-bore and brutish campaign, victory guarantees the president nothing more than the headache of building consensus in a gridlocked capital on behalf of a polarized public.

If the president begins his second term under any delusion that voters rubber-stamped his agenda on Tuesday night, he is doomed to fail.

Mandates are rarely won on election night. They are earned after Inauguration Day by leaders who spend their political capital wisely, taking advantage of events without overreaching. Obama is capable—as evidenced by his first-term success with health care reform. But mandate-building requires humility, a trait not easily associated with him.

“The mandate is a myth,” said John Altman, associate professor of political science at York College of Pennsylvania. “But even if there was such a thing as a mandate, this clearly isn’t an election that would produce one.”

He pointed to Obama’s small margin of victory and the fact that U.S. voters are divided deeply by race, gender, spirituality, and party affiliation. You can’t claim to be carrying out the will of the people when the populous has little shared will.

Fournier and his hackish friend Altman belong in the post-election analysis Hall of Sore Partisan Losers, Three lessons from the near-final popular vote

More than five weeks after election day, almost all the presidential votes have been counted. Here’s what the near-final tally reveals:

The election really wasn’t close.

On election night, President Obama’s victory margin seemed fairly narrow – just slightly more than 2 percentage points. White House aides anxiously waited to see if Obama would surpass the 2.46-percentage-point margin by which President George W. Bush defeated Sen. John F. Kerry in 2004.

They needn’t have worried. In the weeks since the election, as states have completed their counts, Obama’s margin has grown steadily. From just over 2 percentage points, it now stands at nearly 4. Rather than worry about the Bush-Kerry precedent, White House aides now brag that Obama seems all but certain to achieve a mark hit by only five others in U.S. history – winning the presidency twice with 51% or more of the popular vote.

As of Friday, Obama had 50.97% of the vote to Mitt Romney’s 47.3% with 47 states having certified  their final count, according to the statistics compiled assiduously by David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.

Most of the nation’s remaining uncounted ballots, perhaps as many as 413,000, Wasserman estimated, are in heavily Democratic New York, where officials have until next week to finish their tabulations. The other two states yet to certify a final count are West Virginia, which Romney carried, and Hawaii, which went heavily for its native son, the president. Once all those get tossed into the mix, Obama’s margin almost surely will rise slightly, allowing him to claim the 51% mark without rounding up.

These results go hand in hand with Democrats taking back some seats in the House and a wider majority in the Senate.

Newton shooting victims via the front page of the NYT

Newton shooting victims via the front page of the NYT

At this point many readers are probably overwhelmed with sadness and news reports, but I did want to highlight some of the better essays and reports I’ve read, Children Were All Shot Multiple Times With a Semiautomatic, Officials Say and A Mother, a Gun Enthusiast and the First Victim. I’ve mentioned in some older posts that I am a gun owner. I believe in the right to own a gun. Those against reasonable screening and restrictions are not simply gun owners, they ‘re gun fetishists. One pundit called them gun worshipers for the reverence they have towards guns – the NRA crowd. Paul Waldman knocks down all the silly and dangerous arguments being made by the gun worshipers, Ten Arguments Gun Advocates Make, and Why They’re Wrong

3. If only everybody around was armed, an ordinary civilian could take out a mass killer before he got too far.

If that were true, then how come it never happens? The truth is that in a chaotic situation, even highly trained police officers often kill bystanders. The idea that some accountant who spent a few hours at the range would suddenly turn into Jason Bourne and take out the killer without doing more harm than good has no basis in reality.

That is one that has been echoed a lot. MJ has a list of major mass murders done with guns. many of these were situations where there were trained and armed security near by. There were armed security at the Oikos University murders and there was armed security at the scene of Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ) shooting, and there were armed MPs around when  Nidal Malik Hasan went on a murder rampage  at the Fort Hood army base in Texas. More Guns, More Mass Shootings—Coincidence?

There is no evidence indicating that arming Americans further will help prevent mass shootings or reduce the carnage, says Dr. Stephen Hargarten, a leading expert on emergency medicine and gun violence at the Medical College of Wisconsin. To the contrary, there appears to be a relationship between the proliferation of firearms and a rise in mass shootings: By our count, there have been two per year on average since 1982. Yet 25 of the 62 cases we examined have occurred since 2006. This year alone there have already been seven mass shootings [3]—and a record number of casualties, with more than 140 people injured and killed.

Armed civilians attempting to intervene are actually more likely to increase the bloodshed, says Hargarten, “given that civilian shooters are less likely to hit their targets than police in these circumstances.” A chaotic scene in August at the Empire State Building put this starkly into perspective when New York City police officers confronting a gunman wounded nine innocent bystanders [4].

If trained law enforcement, who also have experience dealing with the stress of situations involving armed perpetrators can’t get it right, why does anyone think they’ll be better shots or exercise better judgement is such situations. Which brings us to some of the more bizarre arguments, rationalizations and finger pointing made by conservatives. “Assrocket” John Hinderaker at Power Line is a lawyer in real life. he’s no rocket scientist, but he is able to read, write and tie his own shoes. So when he writes crap like this it is not out of ineptitude. No these words are the product of evil,

 Within the realm of constitutional options, the most practical remedy I can think of would be to require that a certain number of teachers or administrators in each school be trained in the use of firearms and armed at all times. That would probably deter most school shooters. It is curious, but true, that even those killers who do not intend to survive their crimes never seem to open fire in the presence of another armed person. No one tries to shoot up a biker bar.

Actually biker bars have been the scenes of shootings, just not as many fatalities at one time. And as Mike notes, if crazed gunmen are going to challenge the police in shoot-outs, what makes Assrocket think a crazed gunman will not challenge an armed vice-principle,

Yeah, right. The 42 cops killed this year in America by gunfire? And the 67 killed last year? And the 59 killed the year before?

And then there is Mike Huckabee who thinks the parents of the Newton victims sent their kids off to an evil school, with no teachings in positive values or responsibility, Huckabee Says Connecticut School Massacre Occurred Because We ‘Removed God From Our Schools’. Mike is an ordained minister. Apparently being a venal pig does not disqualify one from getting such certification.

Evening Light and Snow wallpaper – What’s Wrong With Republicans? A Fatal Case of Zombism

Evening Light and Snow wallpaper

Evening Light and Snow wallpaper


There’s A Way To Close The Deficit Without Raising Taxes Or Cutting Spending

Earlier today, John Boehner showed a chart projecting a gigantic budget deficit if current spending plans are in place.

It’s well established that the primary future driver of spending is going to be Medicare, ergo everyone wants to figure out how to reduce the cost of Medicare (either by privatization, reduced benefits, or some other fix to healthcare inflation).

But there’s a simple way to get deficit reduction that doesn’t involve Medicare: Lower the unemployment rate.

[  ]….This chart has been floating around for awhile, and at least I, personally, didn’t think much of it the first time I across it. There is an element of tautology to it. When the economy improves, unemployment goes down, and deficit/GDP shrinks, as tax revenue goes up. When the reverse happens, deficits rise. Duh, right?

But not so fast…

The post-2009 period is associated with a virtually unprecedented pursuit of government spending and deficits (as far as the eye can see!). Not only did the deficit go up because tax revenue collapsed, but Obama announced a historic stimulus the likes of which weren’t seen since the New Deal.

And yet! The relationship holds. Even when the government purposely spends like crazy to increase the debt and fight the weak economy, deficits/GDP have shrunk alongside unemployment. There is a big gap between the red and blue lines, perhaps in part because the downturn was so severe, but the clear lesson is that spending to reduce unemployment does have the effect of reducing deficits as a share of total GDP.

No tax increase at all is probably not a good idea in the long run, even if they are only modest income tax increase on the top 10% and an increase in taxes on capital gains. It is not all about Medicare, we need some infrastructure improvements and to make a larger investment in scientific research. Though just as important is the need to end the race to the bottom. The race corporate America, with the help of the radical Right, to have a permanent under-class of American workers. Wal-Mart, Apple and Darden Inc ( Applebees) are among corporations that are making record profits, yet many of their employees are not making a living wage – Corporate profits hit record as wages get squeezed. Not only would these workers thus contribute more to the safety net that they will need sooner or later, they will also rely less on programs like food assistance. Yet we’re dealing with John Boehner (R-OH) and his charts and the Koch brothers and their freakish zeal to make every worker in America wage slave.

Graphic via

The Walton family, with a net equal to the bottom 40% of American workers – about $89.5 billion – are the real welfare cheats. Every working American is subsidizing their business. McDonald’s pays workers an average of $8.25 hr and their CEO makes $8.7 million a year. So an average employee makes about $17.1 thousand a year. Their CEO makes as much as 509 workers. CEO pay has become completely disconnected from any rational values. An elite class of people with money and political power equal to those massive paychecks have decided to break the social contract with their employees. And as the Wal-Mart chart shows they are also passing off the cost to everyone else. The conservative movement keeps claiming that it is the social safety net or union wages that are holding back growth. A lie so ridiculous that no one with basic reading and math skills should believe. Yet the Republican Speaker of the House is very serious about selling the plantation dream to the public. If we can just race to the bottom, through some convoluted logic, America will then and only then, truly prosper. Conservatives even use magic to sell this dark dystopian dream to the public. Look at the one or two union guys being mean. Look at the woman using her food stamps to buy candy. This constant highlight of the petty is to distract people while conservatives steal billions from working Americans and their children. These corporate Robin Hohhs who steal from workers to give to each other are deeply afraid of their workers organizing and having any kind of power – Why Most Walmart and Fast Food Workers Didn’t Strike.

Fox News revealed selective editing of punched Fox News Thug Steven Crowder  contributor
Video of Steven Crowder getting punched is being used as evidence of union thuggery, but who got hit first? VIDEO. Of course violence is wrong. So with that I have done the required disclaimer for stories like this. Everyone has probably seen the Michigan video that Crowder has posted on the net. One major problem with that is that video is it does not show the union protester on the ground, before he gets up and punches Crowder. How did that protester start a fight from the prone position. Someone mentioned this on Tweeter ( sorry I do not remember who caught it first to give proper credit). How about what happened is that Crowder made threatening gestures and words towards the protester and the protester “stood his ground”. If conservatives want to love stand your ground laws and mentality, than they can suffer the consequences when it backfires. Let’s say that this was as Crowder described. One guy committed assault and battery; in reality aggravated assault. One guy out of thousands of protesters. So if one Republican picks his nose in an elevator that means all Republicans pick their noses in elevators. If those are the rules, if that is the logic we’re using, conservatives are in much deeper mud than America’s unions. Virginia GOP Official Calls Union Members ‘Terrorists’

Union workers who were protesting the passage of so-called “right-to-work” laws outside the state capitol in Lansing, Michigan are “terrorists,” according to a former high-ranking official in the Republican Party of Virginia who now serves in a county-level elected office.

Shawn Kenney, who formerly served as the communications director for the state GOP and is now the chairman of the Fluvanna Co. Board of Supervisors, posted an entry on his blog titled, “We Don’t Negotiate With (Union) Terrorists.” The post features a video of a brief fight that occurred outside the Michigan state capitol. Before the video, Kenney writes: “…and these people are terrorists.”

[  ]….Another former Republican Party of Virginia official wrote on the same blog this week that by passing “right-to-work,” Michigan had “finally unshackle[d] itself from slavery.”

Maybe we should thank these two clowns, they have given anyone license to call them any names they like. “Slavery”? Sure. Everyone’s dictionary defines slavery as the right to make workers into powerless wage slaves who better not get too uppity and ask for a living wage and health insurance. How dare unions ask for fair compensation, benefits or decent working conditions. That infringes on the right of conservatives to treat people like dirt. As usual these freaks are projecting their agenda on decent Americans seeking simple economic justice. Krugman seems to understand Mr. Kenney’s pain, The G.O.P.’s Existential Crisis

No, what we’re having is a political crisis, born of the fact that one of our two great political parties has reached the end of a 30-year road. The modern Republican Party’s grand, radical agenda lies in ruins — but the party doesn’t know how to deal with that failure, and it retains enough power to do immense damage as it strikes out in frustration.

Krugman, myself and other Democratic bloggers have described Republicans as zombies. That is what we’re seeing. If they can eat your brains they will. They lost the election, so that leaves them trying to eat fingers. It is all they know and all they will ever know. They’re not any more or less venal now than they were in 2010 or 2000.

Since the 1970s, the Republican Party has fallen increasingly under the influence of radical ideologues, whose goal is nothing less than the elimination of the welfare state — that is, the whole legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. From the beginning, however, these ideologues have had a big problem: The programs they want to kill are very popular. Americans may nod their heads when you attack big government in the abstract, but they strongly support Social Security, Medicare, and even Medicaid. So what’s a radical to do?

The answer, for a long time, has involved two strategies. One is “starve the beast,” the idea of using tax cuts to reduce government revenue, then using the resulting lack of funds to force cuts in popular social programs. Whenever you see some Republican politician piously denouncing federal red ink, always remember that, for decades, the G.O.P. has seen budget deficits as a feature, not a bug.

Arguably more important in conservative thinking, however, was the notion that the G.O.P. could exploit other sources of strength — white resentment, working-class dislike of social change, tough talk on national security — to build overwhelming political dominance, at which point the dismantling of the welfare state could proceed freely.

From just after 2000, after Bush has spent the surplus left by Bill Clinton, conservatives spent like crazy, They whined, but there was no holding up spending bills for grand bargains, no lines drawn in exchange for new revenue to offset their new spending. Dick Cheney famously said that deficits did not matter. He and every conservative were suddenly out of the closet Keynesians, when we didn’t need Keynes. Now that we need Keynes, conservatives are back in the closet. They have no convictions. They just hate the democratic republic model of government. They hate fairness. They hate workers. They hate science. They hate justice. They hate education. That is the only real Republican conviction, hate.

Currier and Ives sleigh ride 1853 – Anti-Union Republicans Have a Lot in Common With Chinese Communists

Currier and Ives sleigh ride 1853

Currier and Ives sleigh ride, 1853. The original title for this picture was simply “The road, winter”.

A moon-light sleigh-ride

A moon-light sleigh-ride. While not in color I thought this was a beautiful rendering of a sleigh ride. It was originally published by Wellstood, W., & Co. as just a decorative art print. The exact date is unknown, though pro baby around the turn of the 20th century. Wellstood published some other art prints in a similar style in the 1890s.

The far Right has been demagoguing unions for decades. Back in the 1910s and 20s, there was a socialist element within some union organizing. part of America’s heritage. We’re talking about the era of the Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York, where unsafe working conditions -locked doors and exits – 146 garment workers burned to death. Strong oppression tends to inflame strong reactions. For the most part American unions have never advocated socialism, and certainly not communism. The conservative movement likes to use accusations of associations with the far Left as a gudgeon. In the real world the far Left has hated unions. Unions interfere with the power of the state. Hitler took away union powers and Stalin made them powerless – in the old Soviet Union they existed in name only (Stalinist Laws to Tighten “Labor Discipline,” 1938-1940). While the Right’s second favorite history hack Jonah Goldberg tried to meld communism, fascism and liberalism all into one political movement and failed miserably, it certainly can be said that the far Right and the far Left are two forms of totalitarianism, or in some cases, at least authoritarianism.Thus there are parallels between conservatism’s hatred of unions – the average worker having any self empowerment and authoritarianism. The Lansing-Beijing connection

“China has a problem: rising inequality. The gap between profits and wages is soaring. Although elements of the government have sought to boost workers’ incomes, they have been thwarted by major companies and banks “that don’t want to give more profit to the country and let the government distribute it,” Qi Jingmei, a research fellow for a government think tank, told the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, if China permitted the establishment of unions, wages would rise. But for fundamentally political reasons — independent unions would undermine the Communist Party’s authority — unions are out of the question.

Meanwhile, the United States also has a problem of a rising gap between profits and wages. The stagnation of wages has become an accepted fact across the political spectrum; conservative columnists such as Michael Gerson and David Brooks have acknowledged that workers’ incomes seem to be stuck.

What conservatives haven’t acknowledged, and what even most liberal commentators fail to appreciate, is how central the collapse of collective bargaining is to American workers’ inability to win themselves a raise. Yes, globalizing and mechanizing jobs has cut into the livelihoods of millions of U.S. workers, but that is far from the whole story. Roughly 100 million of the nation’s 143 million employed workers have jobs that can’t be shipped abroad, that aren’t in competition with steel workers in Sao Paolo or iPod assemblers in Shenzhen. Sales clerks, waiters, librarians and carpenters all utilize technology in their jobs, but not to the point that they’ve become dispensable.

Yet while they can’t be dispensed with, neither can they bargain for a raise. Today fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are union members. That figure may shrink a little more with new “right to work” laws in Michigan — the propagandistic term for statutes that allow workers to benefit from union contracts without having to pay union dues.Defenders of right-to-work laws argue that they improve a state’s economy by creating more jobs. But an exhaustive study by economist Lonnie K. Stevans of Hofstra University found that states that have enacted such laws reported no increase in business start-ups or rates of employment. Wages and personal income are lower in those states than in those without such laws, Stevans concluded, though proprietors’ incomes are higher. In short, right-to-work laws simply redistribute income from workers to owners.” ( as many of you probably already know, WordPress has been buggy for some time now – thus some strange things like lack of block quotes)

As Harold Myerson notes and its certainly obvious to the radical Right, this union busting is not about helping anyone get a job, better pay or even about helping businesses. It is about undermining one of the major organizing platforms of the Democratic Party. While Republicans do not have anything like 100% support from police or firefighters unions, they generally can expect a fair amount of support from those groups ( who knows why – another example of people voting against their rational self interests). It appears then that police and firefighters unions escaped the Republican axe in Michigan. Republicans did not go after those unions ( they represent only about 2% of union membership in Michigan), partly for obvious  political reasons and partly because they would have had a protracted battle changing the state’s constitution.

One police captain told a reporter that he though what Republicans were doing to labor unions was wrong. Conservatives are pulling out the usual arsenal of talking heads and propaganda to win the national debate. Myths And Facts About “Right-To-Work” Laws

“On Fox, Dobbs And Mallory Factor Describe States Without Right-To-Work Laws As “Forced-Union” States. During the December 10 edition of Fox Business’ Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs and his guest, anti-union activist Mallory Factor, were highly critical of states that do not have right-to-work laws, repeatedly calling them “forced-union” states. Graphic from the show:

[Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 12/10/12]
FACT: Workers In States Without Right-To-Work Laws Are Not Forced Into Unions

Economist Dean Baker: “Workers At Any Workplace Always Have The Option As To Whether Or Not To Join A Union.” In a 2011 post for the Center for Economic and Policy Research, economist Dean Baker pointed out that workers always have a choice whether to work for a union, whether or not their state has passed right-to-work laws:

“Right to work” is a great name from the standpoint of proponents, just like the term “death tax” is effective for opponents of the estate tax, but it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. It is widely believed that in the absence of right-to-work laws workers can be forced to join a union. This is not true. Workers at any workplace always have the option as to whether or not to join a union.

Right-to-work laws prohibit contracts that require that all the workers who benefit from union representation to pay for union representation. In states without right-to-work laws unions often sign contracts that require that all the workers in a bargaining unit pay a representation fee to the union that represents the bargaining unit. [Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2/28/11]

Maine Center For Economic Policy: “Right-To-Work Laws Are Essentially Unfair” And “Not Needed To Protect Nonunion Workers.” The Maine Center for Economic Policy similarly found that right-to-work laws are not fair because nonunion employees in a unionized workplace would have a “free ride” and the laws are “not needed to protect nonunion workers” because federal laws already protect workers from being forced into joining a union:

Right-to-work laws are essentially unfair. If Maine passed a right-to-work law, nonunion employees in a unionized workplace would have a “free ride.” They would receive the benefits of union representation, in terms of job protections, wages and benefits, without paying for any of the costs.


A right-to-work law is not needed to protect nonunion workers. Several federal laws already protect the rights of nonunion employees in unionized workplaces, such as the NLRB vs. General Motors Supreme Court decision in 1963, and the Communication Workers vs. Beck decision of 1988. Under federal labor law, workers cannot be legally required to join a union as part of a collective bargaining contract. [Maine Center for Economic Policy, 2/19/11]

Center For American Progress: “Right-To-Work Has Nothing To Do With People Being Forced To Be Union Members.” The Center for American Progress report titled “Right-to-Work 101″ explained that federal laws already guarantee that no worker can be forced to join a union…”

Some anti-worker conservatives will claim the fee, where a worker benefits from a labor contract, is the same thing as being forced to join. “In states where the law exists, “right-to-work” makes it illegal for workers and employers to negotiate a contract requiring everyone who benefits from a union contract to pay their fair share of the costs of administering it. Right-to-work has nothing to do with people being forced to be union members.

Federal law already guarantees that no one can be forced to be a member of a union, or to pay any amount of dues or fees to a political or social cause they don’t support. What right-to-work laws do is allow some workers to receive a free ride, getting the advantages of a union contract — such as higher wages and benefits and protection against arbitrary discipline — without paying any fee associated with negotiating on these matters.

That’s because the union must represent all workers with the same due diligence regardless of whether they join the union or pay it dues or other fees and a union contract must cover all workers, again regardless of their membership in or financial support for the union. In states without right-to-work laws, workers covered by a union contract can refuse union membership and pay a fee covering only the costs of workplace bargaining rather than the full cost of dues. [Center for American Progress Action Fund, 2/2/12]”

Not to put a gloss on a law that is clearly terrible, not just for unions, but non-union employees that benefit from being in the same industry as union workers (non-union auto workers in the U.S. make almost as much as union workers because of the upward pressure unions put on wages. Why work for say a non-union Toyota plant for lousy wages when you could work for union wages at a Ford plant). But I think this going after workers and their unions is going to backfire the same way that the conservative movement’s attack on women’s rights backfired. Most of the American public think issues like access to contraception was a settled issue. Access to health that was was equal to mens was a settled issue. That what constituted rape as opposed to Todd Akin’s “forceable rape” was a settled issue. When conservatives decided to shake that hornets nest of issues, the public went to the polls in November, fired up about the attack on basic rights of individual citizens.

Since Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and his conservative co-conspirators the right to mug workers law into affect there have been protests. What does the Right do, They try to provoke labor protesters into fights. And blame unions for any violence or property damage. Things have not changed much since the days of the Colorado Labor wars when mine owners sent the National Guard and Pinkerton agents ( paid thugs) to attack labor union members.

Historian J. Bernard Hogg, who wrote “Public Reaction to Pinkertonism and the Labor Question,” observed:

Much of the hard feeling toward the Pinkertons was engendered by the fact that not infrequently detectives worked their way into high positions in the union and then revealed the intentions of the organization to the employer.[118]

A second and similar function of the detective was to work his way into the union during strikes. From this advantageous position information could be secured against the leaders; and if arrest and conviction followed, the strike would be broken…

A detective will join the ranks of the strikers and at once become an ardent champion of their cause. He is next found committing an aggravated assault upon some man or woman who has remained at work, thereby bringing down upon the heads of the officers and members of the assembly or union directly interested, the condemnation of all honest people, and aiding very materially to demoralize the organization and break their ranks. He is always on hand in the strikers’ meeting to introduce some extremely radical measure to burn the mill or wreck a train, and when the meeting has adjourned he is ever ready to furnish the Associated Press with a full account of the proposed action, and the country is told that a “prominent and highly respected member” of the strikers’ organization has just revealed a most daring plot to destroy life and property, but dare not become known in connection with the exposure for fear of his life![119]

There is a new version of this going on in Michigan. The Koch brothers have agents there provoking violence and pointing fingers at the unions. In one scuffle the union protesters pulled back one member who got a little out of control. A collapsed tent occupied by the Koch agents seems to be the Right’s big gotcha. Only it not clear how the tent came down.


Some of the nation’s leading executives drop opposition to boosting taxes on wealthiest Americans. How good of them not to fight against that unreasonable 3% increase.