Boston Night Skyline wallpaper – Conservatives See a Future America as a Violent Dystopia

Boston Night Skyline wallpaper

Boston Night Skyline wallpaper

I’m not sure how successful extreme Righty conservatives are being at shifting the conversation about some relatively modest gun safety regulation, including bringing back Bush 41’s assault weapon’s ban – not very according to this poll – though they do keep trying. Wing-Nut welfare recipient Gayle Trotter from the conservative Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) claims that women cannot make do with a pump action 12 gauge, a .38 magnum or a Clock ( the Right loved this recent report about awoman who managed to make do with a 38 to kill an intruder), they have to have some big assault weapons for personal safety. Nothing else will do,

At Senate Judiciary Hearing on gun violence, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) asked IWF’s Gayle Trotter, who also writes for The Daily Caller, if it would “disproportionately burden women” to ban assault rifles like the Bushmaster AR-15 used to slaughter 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Young women are speaking out as to why AR-15 weapons are their weapon of choice,” Trotter explained. “The guns are accurate. They have good handling. They’re light. They’re easy for women to hold.”

She added: “And most importantly, their appearance. An assault weapon in the hands of a young woman defending her babies in her home becomes a defense weapon, and the peace of mind that a woman has as she’s facing three, four, five violent attackers, intruders in her home, with her children screaming in the background, the peace of mind that she has knowing that she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened, violent criminals.”

“And if we ban these types of assault weapons, you are putting women at a great disadvantage, more so than men, because they do not have the same type of physical strength and opportunity to defend themselves in a hand-to-hand struggle. They’re not criminals, they’re moms, they’re young women. And they’re not used to violence confrontations.”

None of that sounds particularly reality based and she sure could have the last word on Republicans and Democrats who support bringing back the assault weapons ban, if she could site some empirical study that showed she was right. Trotter’s concerns for women seems to ebb and flow with the tides. She has previously urged legislators not to renew the Violence Against Women Act. No study in hand showing that women are always running into these five against one gun fights involving women versus outcomes with five armed men against one armed man, but is sure that women do not need the Violence Against Women Act because women are always lying about being assaulted to get all the goodies that come with filing false reports,

The law would also embolden “false accusers,” who would take “needed resources like shelters and legal aid … denying real victims of abuse access to these supports,” she wrote. Trotter and the forum characterized VAWA as “reckless demagoguery.”

Trotter seems to be a veritable gold fountain of inside information about all women and their fire power needs and their propensity to lie all the time about being raped. Think of all the money Congress could save by stopping the commission of all rational empirical studies and just giving Trotter a call. Though as dark and sinister as America’s future sounds via M’S Trotter, she is practically a beacon of good news compared to the violent dystopian future which Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sees in his crystal ball, Lindsey Graham: GOP-Forced Budget Cuts Will Mean Fewer Cops, So People Need To Arm Themselves

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who has been among the Senate’s most vocal backers of draconian budget cuts and has opposed increasing funds to put more police officers on the streets, said Wednesday that he will oppose gun violence prevention legislation because budget cuts will mean inadequate police forces to protect the public.

Graham told Baltimore Chief of Police James Johnson and former naval Captain Mark Kelly (husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords) that he planned to oppose the gun violence measures because people will need high-capacity magazines to compensate for the police response times these austerity measures will force..

So the good senator from South Carolina tacitly admits or at least thinks America’s future is filled with shoot-outs because of the legislation he voted against. A recent look at how professional law enforcement – supposedly professionally trained with guns and tactics have a difficult time hitting the bad guys – Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts – that does not speak well for people with no to minimal training, or even occasional retraining armed with the latest assault rifle with a large capacity clip. So wacky Lindsay Graham is going to have people with little to no training with semi-automatic assault weapons spraying their neighborhoods with bullets to keep safe. By all means have a safely stored gun for self protection, but why this crazed overzealous reaction to reasonable gun safety regulation coupled with the absolute certainty that cutting funds for law enforcement is a swell idea.

This is the kind of culturally regressive trash that Americans read about in history books, the ones that have not been watered down, and find embarrassing, Tennessee “Don’t Say Gay” bill would require teachers to out their students.

If you thought that you’d heard the last of Tennessee’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill after state lawmakers abandoned the legislation last year, think again.

It’s back. And it’s awful.

The measure still prohibits elementary and middle school teachers from discussing sexual activity that is not related to “natural human reproduction” or even acknowledging that homosexuality exists, but new language in the bill would require teachers to tell parents when students are — or might be — gay:

So this state can find funds to counsel out the gayness in kids, but not the funds for more police. Or after school programs proven to lower juvenile crime, or art and music programs which are known to improve academic performance. I came across this article just yesterday that reminds me of the less than agile mindset of Tennessee conservatives, “Pestilent stuff”: The New York Tribune’s Dime Novel War of 1884

The Tribune’s attack, “Dime Novel Work” (March 10, 1884) – available here – certainly begins arrestingly, and in a way that echoes contemporary terrors rather uncomfortably:

“The work of the dime novel is being performed with even more than usual success. The other day three boys robbed their parents and started off for the boundless West. More recently a lad in a Philadelphia public school drew a revolver on his teacher, and examination showed that seven other boys present were armed with revolvers and bowie-knives […] The class of literature which is mainly responsible for all this folly is distributed all over the country in immense quantities, and it is distinctly evil in its teachings and tendencies.”

Obviously it is not the ominous threat that gayness or suspicious of gayness that we should be on guard against it is cheap dime novels, tales of action and adventure that are ruining the minds of impressionable youth.

Conservatives are also obsessed with taxing the working poor and lower middle-class, ‘Fundamentally Unfair’: How States Tax The Richest 1 Percent At Half The Rate Of The Poor

When state, local, property, and sales taxes are taken into account, the poorest 20 percent of Americans pay an average effective tax rate of 11.1 percent, the report found. The middle 20 percent pays a 9.4 percent rate, while the rate for the top 1 percent is just 5.6 percent. The lack of progressive income taxes and an over-reliance on consumption taxes are the primary culprit, the report says.

In the 10 most regressive states, the poorest 20 percent pay a rate as much as six times as high as the rate for the richest 1 percent.

At what point can we conclude that conservatives are absolutely engaged in class warfare and they seem to hate working class Americans. Conservatives seem to see the wealthy as America’s royalty, and much like those who worshiped the old world European royalty, those who are closest to God by way of their wealth, should be protected from paying their fair share of the cost of a civilized society.

“Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.”
Reportedly said by Holmes in a speech in 1904. Alternately phrased as “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society, including the chance to insure”, Compania General De Tabacos De Filipinas v. Collector of Internal Revenue, 275 U.S. 87, 100, dissenting; opinion (21 November 1927). The first variation is quoted by the IRS above the entrance to their headquarters at 1111 Constitution Avenue.

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Arizona Antelope Canyon wallpaper – The Conservative Cult of Plutocracy

Arizona Antelope Canyon wallpaper

Arizona Antelope Canyon wallpaper

 

I was reading a conservative business man’s column the other day and he was going on at length about how great capitalism was and how much wealth it has created for so many people. On general preferences for economic systems I prefer capitalism and for much of the reason he sighted. Though I’ve read far Right diatribes about economics and every other subject to know that much of what he was saying was Conservative code. The debate about capitalism has some similarities with the debate about gun safety. Democrats say they want to have some regulations in place to help prevent another financial meltdown. Conservatives create a straw man Democratic argument, claiming Democrats/liberals/progressives want to either move the country to full throttle Marxism or severely cripple the ability of business to make a profit. Democrats come out for some reasonable gun safety regulations and that becomes the Democrats are anti-gun straw man. When someone or a group of people does that time after time, issue after issue, it means they cannot muster good arguments against Democratic positions and that they are deeply afraid. The fear is often reflected to the overuse of slippery slope arguments – an assault weapons ban or limiting the size of ammo clips – becomes the first wave in total dismantlement of the 2nd Amendment. I do not have the freedom to own a modern Army artillery cannon, yet for some reason I do not feel that restriction on my personal armaments is a threat to my gun ownership. If financial regulation included in the Frank-Dodd bill, that conservatives hate is actually carried out millions of Americans can still invent, sale, buy and trade goods and services without some socialist comrade looking over their shoulder, though it does limit the amount of risky speculative financial transactions that some bank and savings and loan institutions can engage in. Gun safety measures and some sensible regulation of institutions that have the capacity to cripple the economy and put millions of people out of work is not tyranny, Marxism or liberalism gone wild, it is prudent and humane public policy. Liberals and progressives are not the biggest threat to capitalism, conservationism and it’s overly zealous embrace of crony capitalism is the real threat. The Extremist Cult of Capitalism. Paul Buchheit is a wonderful populist, but I would replace plutocracy or crony capitalism where he just says capitalism,

1. Extremes of Income

By sitting on their growing investments, the richest five Americans made almost $7 billion each in one year. That’s $3,500,000.00 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour.

Our unregulated capitalist financial system allows a few well-positioned individuals to divert billions of dollars from the needs of society. If the 400 richest Americans lumped together their investment profits from last year, the total would pay in-state tuition and fees for EVERY college student in the United States.

2. Extremes of Wealth

The combined net worth of the world’s 250 richest individuals is more than the total annual living expenses of almost half the world – three billion people.

Within our own borders the disparity is no less shocking. For every one dollar of assets owned by a single black or Hispanic woman, a member of the Forbes 400 has over forty million dollars. That’s equivalent to a can of soup versus a mansion, a yacht, and a private jet. Most of the Forbes 400 wealth has accrued from nonproductive capital gains. It’s little wonder that with the exception of Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon, the U.S. has the highest degree of wealth inequality in the world.

3. Extremes of Debt

Up until the 1970s U.S. households had virtually no debt. Now the total is $13 trillion, which averages out to $100,000 per American family.

Debt appears to be the only recourse for 21- to 35-year-olds, who have lost, on average, 68% of their median net worth since 1984, leaving each of them about $4,000.

4. Extremes of Health Care

A butler in black vest and tie passed the atrium waterfall and entered the $2,400 suite, where the linens were provided by the high-end bedding designer Frette of Italy and the bathroom glimmered with polished marble. Inside a senior financial executive awaited his ‘concierge’ doctor for private treatment.

He was waiting in the penthouse suite of the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

On the streets outside were some of the 26,000 Americans who will die this year because they are without health care. In 2010, 50 million Americans had no health insurance coverage.

5. Extremes of Justice

William James Rummel stole $80 with a credit card, then passed a bad check for $24, then refused to return $120 for a repair job gone bad. He got life in prison. Christopher Williams is facing over 80 years in prison for selling medical marijuana in Montana, a state which allows medical marijuana. Patricia Spottedcrow got 12 years for a $31 marijuana sale, and has seen her children only twice in the past two years. Numerous elderly Americans are in prison for life for non-violent marijuana offenses.

Banking giant HSBC, whose mission statement urges employees “to act with courageous integrity” in all they do, was described by a U.S. Senate report as having “exposed the U.S. financial system to ‘a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing'” in their dealings with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, which is considered the deadliest drug gang in the world.

HSBC received a fine equivalent to four weeks’ profits. The bank’s CEO said, “we are profoundly sorry.”

In the words of Bertrand Russell, “Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.”

What do conservatives see as the problem with the economy when they look around, taxes and spending are still too damn high. We got all them moochers out there collecting a thousand dollars a month in Social Security benefits and using Medicare for their health problems, Four years later, Paul Ryan(R-WI) wants more of the same

Ryan has time and time again demonstrated that he isn’t interested in paying down the national debt or in “reforms to protect and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid,” as he claimed on Saturday. He’s interested in turning Medicare into a voucher program and in slashing Medicaid’s budget by over a trillion dollars — his logic reminiscent of that infamous Vietnam era talking point “destroying the village in order to save it.” And speaking of bombs, Ryan has repeatedly refused to consider cutting one of the most draining and unnecessarily large parts of the budget: defense spending. He also refuses to consider forcing those with mountains of idle or otherwise unproductive cash to pay for these programs, and isn’t content with Democratic compromises thus far, refusing to appreciate the $2.2 trillion in cuts agreed to during the 112th Congress, because he’s cranky about the $620 billion in tax increases.

Moreover, he isn’t even right about the one thing that libertarian types are supposed to be intimately familiar with — the bond market. As I pointed out a few weeks ago, interest rates are about as low as they can be and aren’t expect to rise, and demand for U.S. Treasury bonds is robust. This suggests that the market has confidence in the U.S. government’s ability to honor its debts, and that federal borrowing isn’t “crowding out” private sector investment.

Who’s avoiding honest debate, Congressman Ryan?

The U.S. has reached modern historic levels of income inequality – Average Fortune 500 CEO Now Paid 380 Times As Much As The Average Worker – and Ryan is still complaining that we need to cut taxes because they are such a terrible burden on wealthy CEOs, whose compensation is often times not even linked to company performance. Even then,instead of rewarding workers who created the products and provided the services, thus the profits, are compensated far less than their CEO overlords.

The liberal overly critical review of the Obama-Clinton 60 Minutes interview, Steve Kroft’s ‘Softball’ Obama Interviews Diminish 60 Minutes

So far, that’s five questions, all of them easy, concerning events that happened four years ago, and focused on the interpersonal drama of those events. They elicited no new information, and were highly unlikely to elicit anything of substance. Did Kroft imagine for a moment that he’d get an honest answer to a question like, “What did Obama promise you when you agreed to be Secretary of State?” I’d call it amateur hour if I thought it was asked out of naivete; but Kroft is not naive.

His next four questions:

“Has she had much influence in this administration?”

“How would you characterize your relationship right now?”

“It’s one thing to have disagreements between cabinet people. I spent time with both of you in the 2008 campaign. That was a very tough, bitter race. And I’m going to spare you reading some of the things that you said about each other during that campaign. But how long did it take you to get over that? And when did it happen?”

“You said the staff took a little longer to ignore, to forget the campaign stuff. What about the spouses? Is that an impertinent question?”

These are the two most influential foreign policy officials in the United States. In the last four years they’ve presided over hugely consequential policies all over the planet, much of it cloaked in secrecy. How much influence has she had? Are you kidding me? I love that he subsequently asks not “What’s the reality of your relationship?” but “How would you characterize your relationship?” And the reflexive deference is embarrassing.

I don’t know that those questions merit outrage by a liberal fr his reasons or a conservative blogger who called it a media love fest. Some interviews are not confrontational. A counter way of seeing it is if Kroft had hammered them with accusatory questions and which would have had them both resort to boiler plate answers. Obama and Clinton are not naive freshmen, they have both just finished facing those accusatory questions and accusations for the last year. Once again Fox news or the Republican Propaganda Channel sums up why the Right saw it as a puff piece, Steve Doocy and Brian Kimeade are outraged Kroft did not try to verify conservative conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s concussion. And if we’re going with the 60 Minutes as in the bag for liberals, how does one explain, Bob Schieffer’s Powder Puff Interview with Romney and Ryan. Romney did not want to discuss his nefarious activities at Bain, so oh well, we’ll just skip that. Unless the interviewer asks a Democrat why they hate America, Jesus and guns – the interview is going to be labeled a liberal puff piece. Conservatives have found a way around that, they selectively edit quotes – Conservative Bernie Goldberg publishes badly doctored version of Rose/Brokaw interview as purported evidence of Brokaw’s bias in Obama interview and video – Fox Deceptively Crops 2008 Obama Speech.

Playwright David Mamet jumped off the reasonable human being wagon years ago, but it does make for a colorful interview – 3 Major Flaws In Newsweek’s Red-Baiting Gun Rant

Mamet is apparently confusing the idea of background checks in general — which again, have existed for more than a decade at the federal level — with the debate to institute universal background checks. Under current law, the FBI checks are only conducted on purchases from licensed dealers, not sales from private sellers. President Obama has proposed closing that loophole and requiring a background check on every gun sale, presumably through the FBI.
2)     Mamet Thinks Assault Weapons Have Been Banned For 78 Years

Mamet falsely claims that any attempt to pass an assault weapons ban would only reiterate bans that already exist on such weapons. As with his discussion of background checks, Mamet appears entirely unfamiliar with the debate that is actually occurring over strengthening gun laws.

Newsweek still qualifies as the media. So why are they seeking out the most extreme and pitifully uniformed zealots to prove some kind of point.

Map The World at War1920 – Stand back, Conservative Judicial Activism at Work

Map The World At War 1920

Map The World At War 1920. Note the pink, it was Franc, Russia, the British Empire, Canada, Australia – well most of the world against Germany. Though they were minor players in military action even Japan, Belgium and Greece allied with the Allies or Entente Powers.

London Street Map of 1548

London Street Map of 1548. The 1540s were a turbulent time in England. The Dissolution of the Monasteries. While that was not THE start of a more secularized England or Europe it was part of the end of Papal influence and rule by proxy possessed by the Vatican over English government.  Henry VIII was given the authority to do take these actions when Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, which made Henry, now on his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, the Supreme Head of  the Church in England.     1545 saw the publication of Henry’s sixth and last wife Catherine Parr’s Prayers or Meditations. The first book ever published under the Queen’s own name. The decade closed out with Kett’s Rebellion. While Robert Kett owned some land himself, he sympathized with rebels who had started tearing down fences put up by very wealthy land owners. So it was their land to fence in as they please. The problem was that the land that belonged to the wealthy was not paid for, but the result of using land as a reward to those who either physically fought for or supported the king. Capitalistic notions of working hard and some day also owning vast swaths of land was not possible. By tradition much of the open pastures were used by small local farmers and sheep herders. That land was considered common land.  Thus fencing-off of common land by landlords for their exclusive use took away land poor peasants needed to graze their herds. This suddenly exclusive access left many peasants even poorer than they already were. The fencing produced inflation, mass unemployment and lower wages. This may sound familiar, one historian noted, they “could scarcely doubt that the state had been taken over by a breed of men whose policy was to rob the poor for the benefit of the rich”.

Court Rejects Obama Move to Fill Posts

In a ruling that called into question nearly two centuries of presidential “recess” appointments that bypass the Senate confirmation process, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday that President Obama violated the Constitution when he installed three officials on the National Labor Relations Board a year ago.

The ruling was a blow to the administration and a victory for Mr. Obama’s Republican critics — and a handful of liberal ones — who had accused him of improperly asserting that he could make the appointments under his executive powers. The administration had argued that the president could decide that senators were really on a lengthy recess even though the Senate considered itself to be meeting in “pro forma” sessions.

But the court went beyond the narrow dispute over pro forma sessions and issued a far more sweeping ruling than expected. Legal specialists said its reasoning would virtually eliminate the recess appointment power for all future presidents at a time when it has become increasingly difficult to win Senate confirmation for nominees.

Note the three Republican judges did not narrow their decision to this particular appointment with their legal argument hanging – by a thread – on the use of the Senate’s pro forma session ( pro forma is Latin, meaning, as a matter of form, and is a parliamentary procedure that usually only lasts a few minutes. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and senate Republicans used it to cover almost a month). The recess appointments were made because conservatives were using the silent filibuster to block any and all of President Obama’s appointments. Yes, Democrats have done this too, but only in cases where the appointee designate was especially unqualified or radical ( though they did let even Michael D. Brown (heck of a job Brownie), formerly a horse lawyer – that is not an invective, he was actually a horse lawyer become administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, because that is who Bush 43 wanted). President Obama should not have to face a silent filibuster for just about every appointment. To use such tactics all the time is constitutionally questionable,

With English constitutional antecedents, the term-of-art “by and with the Advice and Consent” gives the Senate power to advise only by voting ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ Contrary to conventional wisdom, the term “Advice” is not synonymous with senatorial selection “courtesy.” Rather, the term “Advice” should be read as conjoined with its companion term “Consent” to mean that the Senate advises the president by and with a confirmation vote. (The modern Senate’s role is thus fundamentally corrupted by procedures, holds, and filibusters which prevent up-or-down votes.)

Recess Appointments: No Restrictions

The president has “sole and independent” appointment authority; as Hamilton wrote, “[senators] cannot themselves choose – they can only ratify or reject the choice he may have made.”

But equally important, if the Senate can not or will not act, the Framers’ provided clause 3 of Article II, Section 2:

[T]he President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Constitutional Convention delegates agreed readily the federal government should always be fully staffed. Hamilton explained in Federalist 67 that the clause 3 instant commission option provides an “auxiliary method of appointment” required for vacancies “which it might be necessary for the public service to fill without delay.”

The recess alternative’s efficiencies and broad scope merit emphasis. The Framers could have limited the appointment’s duration and function. Instead, recess commissions last up to 24 months (half a presidential term) and recessed officials have the same authority as confirmed officers. The Framers could have established a minimum time length of a Senate recess required to trigger the Executive power. Instead, the president may sign commissions during a Senate break of any length. Theodore Roosevelt appointed 160 officials during a 1903 adjournment that lasted only minutes. In Evans v. Stephens (11th Circuit 2004), the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled:

The Constitution, on its face, does not establish a minimum time that an authorized break in the Senate must last to give legal force to the President’s appointment power under the Recess Appointments Clause.

Again, this is where the  three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit went way too far – some might call it judicial activism. They did not rule that maybe because this was a special circumstance in which there was a pro forma, abet abused fairy tale version of that procedure, the one appointment would need to be made during a regular recess to be a valid recess appointment. That is till very thin ground in light of the letter and spirit of previous court rulings, but we could all groan and just get on with the appeal. According to the Congressional Research Service report, President George W. Bush made more than 170 and President Bill Clinton made almost 140; President Obama made 28 between his inauguration and December 2011. So it is not as though President Obama has abused recess appointments, and goodness forbid that he play hardball with conservative obstructionists who claim that it is their ball park and they’ll only play by their rules. It is also not a simple matter of conservatives objecting to Richard Cordray to the CFPB( Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). Much like the debt ceiling it was another ideological hostage situation,

Moreover, Senate Republicans were opposed to the creation of the CFPB, intended to crack down on some of the shady business practices that helped lead to the Great Recession; and after its creation they were bent on making it as ineffective as possible.

Conservatives could not kill the CFPB because the Senate and House passed it into law with actual votes, not parliamentary tricks. They do not want more oversight of Wall Street because they really have adopted the bizarre belief that Wall Street had nothing to do with the financial collapse of 2008. That was all the fault of a nurse and her mechanic husband out in Des Moines who bought a house they couldn’t afford, master of the universe Barney Frank and radio waves from a martian space ship.

    For all the controversy surrounding these appointments, they were clearly constitutional if either of two things is true.  They were constitutional if, despite the pro forma sessions, the Senate was in recess from December 20 until January 23.  If that hiatus amounted to a “recess” for purposes of Article II, Section 2, then the President’s exercise of his appointment prerogative was permissible.  The appointments would also be constitutional, of course, if the three-day hiatus between January 3 and January 6 was a “recess” for constitutional purposes.  The President had plausible arguments either way.

If the appeals court opinion, were left in place or upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, it would mark a ground-breaking departure from the way presidents have used recess appointments.

If Obama and Democrats can manage to get them appointed. His appointments to the feral courts, of judges not blinded by conservative zealotry, was supposed to be one of the consequences of the past election. For liberals who were/are disappointed in Democrat’s in regards the surveillance state holdover policies from the Bush administration or other issues, these court and to some degree, the administration appointments were supposed to be the consolation prize. While conservatives can take all the blame for administrative appointment backlog, part of the reason for Obama’s low rate of Court appointments is Obama, Obama Judicial Confirmation Statistics as of 01/03/2013

Information sources: Alliance for Justice; Federal Judicial Center; Senate Judiciary Committee

I’m going to hazard a guess that the White House doesn’t like far Right judicial activism. That being the case they might want to start filling some federal court vacancies.

Paul Krugman knocks down another conservative urban legend today, From Welfare Queens to Disabled Deadbeats

If you want to understand the trouble Republicans are in, one good place to start is with the obsession the right has lately developed with the rising disability rolls. The growing number of Americans receiving disability payments has, for many on the right, become a symbol of our economic and moral decay; we’re becoming a nation of malingerers.

As Jared Bernstein points out, there’s a factual problem here: a large part of the rise in the disability rolls reflects simple demographics, because aging baby boomers are a lot more likely to have real ailments than those same workers did when they were in their 20s and 30s. The Social Security Administration does a formal adjustment for this reality, and as Jared says, it looks like this:

Baby boom generation is aging thus more benefits are being paid out.

Republicans have priorities. They are not concerned that a hand full of people increase their wealth daily simply as a benefit have having wealth – that the combined net worth of the world’s 250 richest individuals is more than the total annual living expenses of almost half the world – three billion people. Republicans are deeply alarmed that some 72-year-old is getting a $25 a month cost of living increase in their Social Security benefits. They might take that money and buy bread or medicine, something crazy like that. The nation is going to hell in hand basket if we don’t stop that kind of lazy mooching immediately.

The sad tales of geniuses in Gun-land Worship continue, Run From My Bullets

Over the past week, six people have been shot at gun shows, the most recent victim being a gun dealer in Iowa who thought the gun he was showing was unloaded. Cops found another loaded gun at his table after he put a bullet in his palm.

Not a suggestion, but something for conservatives to ponder; instead of contributing to the latest campaign of faux outrage by Fox or Glenn Beck or that RNC mailer, check with the families of these victims to see if they could use some help with medical bills.

Why Do Paul Ryan and Other Conservatives Cling To Bizarre Beliefs Even Once They’re Confronted With The Truth

Democratic Country Road wallpaper

Democratic Country Road wallpaper

 

 

Like the ending to The Wizard of Oz, minus the fun factor, one of the curtains pulled back during the 2012 presidential campaign was that Paul Ryan’s(R-WI) economic credentials were about as honest as the guy who filed Al Capone’s tax returns. Back in August of 2012 some economists noted that Ryan’s numbers didn’t add up. The only thing Ryan was master of was the use of PowerPoint. You can fool some of the people all the time? In the case of House Republicans, 98% of them found a way for 2+2 to equal five with the shear force of belief. They voted for the for the Ryan magical math. Even thought his plan contained less deficit reduction than the Obama plan Republicans said they hated because there were not enough spending cuts. Ryan’s economic vision was based on one thing – lowering taxes by any means necessary for wealthy Americans and cop orations. Despite what so-called moderates like the NYT’s Ross Douthat said, Ryan was not flexible. He was not willing to juggle some revenue increases for spending cuts, and real deficit reduction. 2012 was the year Ryan was stripped of his twin masks of being a genuine economics wonk and a reasonable voice within the conservative movement. So Ryan loses the election, the curtain has exposed him as another voodoo economics pretender. He’s a human being and most of us have had issues in which we have made large ideological and emotional investments. It is difficult for even the most mature and wise to admit that we were wrong and make a change even when the evidence is so overwhelmingly against us. Though a mark of a mature adult and someone who is entrusted with acting in the best interests of their constituents and the country should have the courage and wisdom to acknowledge that maybe a change of course is appropriate at this point. Ryan is not one of those people, Paul Ryan Breaks Down Under Wonkterrogation

Paul Ryan’s great genius has not merely been that he has united conservative Republicans around a single vision – several Republicans have done this before – but that he has simultaneously persuaded moderates that he shares their beliefs as well. That is how Ryan has pitched himself to America not as a rightwing ideologue but as a thoughtful numbers guy.
[ ]…The conversation is worth close examination, because Ryan simply hurls up nonsensical rationales one after another, and finally offers his actual reason when he has run out of gibberish. Ryan begins by pledging his abiding fear of a “debt crisis,” but insists he won’t accept higher revenue, even in return for spending cuts. Ryan replies:

“They already got their revenues,” Ryan said. “So what, we’ll roll over and they get more revenues? That’s not how it works. In the spirit of bipartisan compromise, they’ve gotten revenue increases already. We’ve yet to get anything as a result of it. It used to be 3-1. Isn’t that what Erskine says? $3 of spending cuts to every dollar of tax increase. The president in his own budget last year claimed 2.5 to 1. We’d argue with whether they actually achieved that, but where’s the 3? Where’s the two-and-a-half? Where’s the $1.8 trillion in cuts?”

It is true – there was a $620 billion tax increase at the beginning of the year. On the other hand, there were $2.2 trillion in spending cuts in 2011. So you could just as easily say Republicans already got their spending cuts and there should be no more, right? Ryan replies:

“That was last session,” Ryan said. “We’re going forward now.”

In fact the $620 billion was also last session. In any case, notice how fast Ryan has flipped his logic. First he asserts that there can’t be more revenue because we already increased some revenue. When reminded that we cut spending even more, he says it’s “last session,” and irrelevant.

I have a friend with similar word crutches. If I said you got your spending cuts in that last round of negotiations, more than the cuts you ( and Ryan proposed) so how can you say you did not get your spending cuts, they’ll inevitably say.. well that’s irrelevant. It somehow becomes irrelevant, not because they did not get what they wanted, but because they got what they wanted and now they want more and do want want to consider those very recent concessions part of their new round of demands. In Ryan world every spending cut is agreed to only as a prelude to more spending cuts. When will the federal budget reach the heights of Ryan perfection? When Social Security is privatized and manged by the same hooligans that crashed the economy. We’ll only reach true Ryanism when Medicare is gutted and seniors and the disabled are selling pencils on street corners. We’ll all see the rainbow of Ryanland when they shut down all public prisons, public schools, publicly funded medical research, the EPA is defunded and let the Koch brothers dump their toxic waste in your backyard and the internet is controlled by corporations that can choke off connections to sites they don’t profit from. While at one point during the presidential campaign Ryan (R-WI) said that he had long given up his social-Darwinist beleifs re Ayn Rand, that was also a lie about his ideology. He is still a social-darwinist, still knows more about PowerPoint than economics and still could care less economic policies that maintain a thriving middle-class.

So Ryan having been confronted with facts. Shown that his argument does not make sense, especially if he is arguing that he is a compromiser and having lost his bid for the vice presidency, he is more entrenched than ever in false beliefs. This is typical of most conservatives. Liberals become frustrated because they think that since they have the facts on their side they win. On the contrary. Those people that lean conservatives will look at the truth and claim, well I sill believe the moon is made of blue-cheese anyway. And the more you argue with them, sometimes the more tenaciously they will cling to their beliefs, Why Do People Believe Stupid Stuff, Even When They’re Confronted With the Truth?

What should be evident from the studies on the backfire effect is you can never win an argument online. When you start to pull out facts and figures, hyperlinks and quotes, you are actually making the opponent feel as though they are even more sure of their position than before you started the debate. As they match your fervor, the same thing happens in your skull. The backfire effect pushes both of you deeper into your original beliefs.

Have you ever noticed the peculiar tendency you have to let praise pass through you, but feel crushed by criticism? A thousand positive remarks can slip by unnoticed, but one “you suck” can linger in your head for days. One hypothesis as to why this and the backfire effect happens is that you spend much more time considering information you disagree with than you do information you accept. Information which lines up with what you already believe passes through the mind like a vapor, but when you come across something which threatens your beliefs, something which conflicts with your preconceived notions of how the world works, you seize up and take notice. Some psychologists speculate there is an evolutionary explanation. Your ancestors paid more attention and spent more time thinking about negative stimuli than positive because bad things required a response. Those who failed to address negative stimuli failed to keep breathing.

In a column published around the new Year, conservative columnist Ross Douthat wrote that to start off the New Year everyone should start reading the other side’s magazines, pundits and web sites. It struck me as funny because I visit conservative web sites, I probably read The National Review as much as Ross. I grew up on far Right ideology. In other words I give the other side more equal time than most conservatives give us. Read the comments at Free Republic, The Gateway Pundit, Hot Air and the Breitbart sites. These people live and breath in their echo chamber. They still believe that Hillary had something to do with Vince Foster’s death, they belive that annie may crashed the economy in 2007, they believe that president Obama went on some kind of apolgy tour, they have woven an intricate insane tale of events at Benghazi,  they believe that if billionaires had their taxes cut down to nothing the economy would thrive. Not that you can’t find Democrats with some wacky beliefs, it is that this deeply held dogma, this massive playbook of wackiness is what drives conservatism. Take away the pixie-dust economics of Paul Ryan and you have an empty suit who got a decent start in life with the help of Social Security death benefits. Take away the morally repugnant correlations that conservatives draw between cause and events, and you just have some bizarro world caricatures, not statesmen and thinkers.

Listeners and employees quit Georgia public broadcasting as mind-control conspiracy theorist takes

Georgia residents have begun canceling their donations to Georgia Public Broadcasting after a recent report revealed that a former Republican state senator — who believes the United Nations is planning to turn the U.S. into a communist dictatorship using mind control — is receiving a salary of $150,000 to run part of the network.

Not every member of the NRA, but that organization’s official position is that guns equal freedom. Does that mean they’ll be gathering up their militias and stopping Republicans from rigging the 2014 and 2016 elections. How Republicans Plan to Rig the Electoral College and Steal the White House

This Republican Plan would reallocate electoral votes so that a maximum of two electoral votes would go to the overall winner of several key blue states. The lion’s share of the state’s electors would then be allocated one by one to the presidential candidate who won each individual congressional district. (see Figure 1) Thus, in a blue state such as Michigan—which President Obama won by nearly 10 points in 2012—Gov. Romney would have received 9 of the state’s 16 electoral votes because he received more votes than the president did in nine of the state’s congressional districts. In other words, the Republican candidate would receive more than half of the state’s electoral votes despite being overwhelmingly defeated in the state as a whole.

Cashing in on gerrymandering

The Republican Plan does not just apply one set of rules in red states and another set of rules in blue states—it also takes advantage of profoundly gerrymandered congressional maps in order to stack the deck even more for Republican presidential candidates. In 2012 Democratic House candidates received nearly 1.4 million more votes than their Republican counterparts. Yet Republican candidates currently hold a 33-seat majority in the House, due in large part to the fact that Republican state legislatures controlled the redistricting process in several key states. Indeed, Republicans were so successful in their efforts to lock in their control of the House of Representatives through gerrymandering that Democratic House candidates would have needed to win the national popular vote by more than 7 percentage points in order to receive the barest majority in the House. Republicans aren’t particularly shy about touting the success of their gerrymanders either: The Republican State Leadership Committee released an extensive memo boasting about how they used gerrymanders to lock down GOP majorities in the House.

Guns do not preserve freedom and you do not need guns to take it away. The biggest threat to freedom is money, corruption and a morally bankrupt agenda.

This is probably the best report on the subject, but easy to get lost in the minutiae, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell Reach Filibuster Reform Deal [UPDATE]

The deal will address the filibuster on the motion to proceed by changing the amount of debate time that would follow a cloture vote from 30 hours to four, speeding up Senate business and allowing more legislation to reach the floor. But the deal still requires Democrats to muster 60 votes to invoke cloture on that motion, despite Reid’s earlier suggestion that he would bar a filibuster on that motion entirely.

Or This TP report condenses it all down – Three Winners And Three Losers In Today’s Filibuster Deal

Losers

Circuit Judges, Supreme Court Justices & Cabinet Officials: The senior most Senate-confirmed jobs — justices, court of appeals judges and the most powerful executive branch officials — are still subject to 30 hours of delay.
The Tea Party: The package reduces the number of opportunities to obstruct a bill that is supported by the Minority Leader and at least 7 Republicans, meaning that senators like Rand Paul (R-KY) or Mike Lee (R-UT) will have fewer chances to block progress on matters that everyone but a few Tea Party extremists support.
The Future: The most significant changes in this package — the reduced hours for nominees and the two free amendments for the minority — sunset in two years and thus will cease to exist in the 114th Congress unless reinstated.

These are really the only two wins,

District Judges: Currently, Senate rules allow the minority to force up to 30 hours of wasted time before a single nominee can be confirmed. Because Senate floor time is limited, this leads to many confirmations being delayed for months or killed entirely simply because the Majority Leader cannot afford to budget the time to move the nomination forward. The proposal reduces the amount of time that can be wasted while confirming a federal trial judge to 2 hours, significantly reducing the time cost of such confirmations.
Sub-Cabinet Officials: Meanwhile, the 30 hours of wasted time on sub-cabinet officials’ confirmation votes is reduced to 8 hours.

The 60 vote super majority is still in effect. Why 55 or 56 is not a super majority is a mystery. And the very worse part of what modern political watchers have come to think of as a filibuster is still with us – the silent filibuster. If you’re into old movies Mr. Smith Goes to Washington(1939) is a classic tribute to the everyman, a great and unabashedly liberal movie. In that movie Smith has to perform an actual filibuster, He has to stay on the floor and talk. Talk until your opponent literally gives up or you pass out from exhaustion. Now we have the silent filibuster. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) doesn’t like a bill or appointee to the federal appeals court, he sends word to Harry Reid (D-NV) to consider that bill or candidate filibustered. The bill is dead or the appointee is dead. This new deal does not include silent filibusters of federal appellate court of major cabinet appointments. That is also a terrible interpretation of the Senate’s constitutional role as a body that advises and consents.

What Conservatives Consider Mainstream and Where America Really Stands on The Issues

Black and White New York Panorama wallpaper

Black and White New York Panorama wallpaper

New York Panorama wallpaper

New York Panorama wallpaper

 

 

The conservative reaction to President Obama’s iaugural speech was all too predictable – full transcipt here. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)

“One thing is clear from the president’s speech: The era of liberalism is back. His unabashedly far-left-of-center inaugural speech certainly brings back memories of the Democratic Party in ages past,” he said. “If the president pursued that kind of agenda, obviously it’s not designed to bring us together, and certainly not designed to deal with the transcendent issue of our era, which is deficits and debt.”

Mitch is old school, believing as m any on the radical Right do, that simply using the word liberal is all the demonization required to damn any political thought, any agenda, any public policy. It still works, up to a point. The far Right used it leading up to the 2008 elections, frequently interlaced with anti-Christ, Muslim, the birth certificate weirdness as code for the “other” and of course, accusations of being a Marxist. It didn’t work then. It did not work for the first four years. Conservatives, never to be guilty of being old dogs capable of learning new tricks, kept to the same tiresome clown act during the 2012 campaign. While I would agree with other analysts that President’ Obama’s inaugural address was his most progressive speech since his stump speeches in 2007, the President’s speech represented the agenda of the majority of the American people. While many still find the term liberal a stigma, when it comes down to what they think about the issues, president Obama and Democrats are in step with the public. Mitch and his conservative comrades are more and more becoming embarrassing remnants of a dying movement whose “values” range from plastic and hypocritical, to antithetical to the values of most patriotic Americans. By ” transcendent issue of our era, which is deficits and debt” Mitch means the massive debt he voted for during the Bush administration while he and his party crashed the economy. This is the McConnell Unified Field Theory of the Universe – keep dragging out the same tired lies and blame the other guys for the conservative movement’s incompetence and malevolence.

Let it not be said that I have not given the radical Right it’s say in it’s own words:

Charles Krauthammer Suggests Opposing Cuts To Social Security, Medicare, And Medicaid Is Part Of Obama’s “Liberal Agenda.” During Fox News’ coverage of Obama’s inauguration, Fox contributor Charles Krauthammer suggested Obama’s speech about supporting federal benefits, and expanding green energy and civil rights was an “ode to big government” and an outline of his “liberal agenda.” Krauthammer later claimed that Obama’s speech was evidence that the president wants to “change the ideological trajectory of the country.” [Fox News, 1/21/13 via FoxNews.com]

The majority of Americans support all those programs. They keep millions of Americans not just out of extreme poverty, but alive. Chuck lives on winger welafre churning out factually challenged bullsh*t for the kool-aid drinkers.

Peter Johnson Jr. Suggested Obama Gave A “Hard-Left Manifesto” By Pointing To “Phantom Arguments” In Terms Of Civil Rights And Global Warming. Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. appeared on Fox & Friends to attack the issues raised during Obama’s second inaugural address as a “hard-left manifesto.” Johnson went on to claim that political moderates would react to the speech by asking ” ‘is this president in touch with the realities of America?’ “

Johnson appears to be the one utterly out of touch with both humanity and the American people. The majority of Americans support action against human induced climate change and support equal rights for gay couples. Historically Johnson and the conservative movement can be proud to say they are in fact on the side of Stalin and Hitler. Both extremists were anti-environment and anti-gay. That comparison is not, unlike that of zealots like Wayne LaPierre, factually wrong hyperbole, it is historical fact. If McConnell, Kruthhammer and Johnson want America’s values to be the same of history’s most notorious despots I suppose they’re free to do so. Though they go too far when they claim their values are American values.

I’m not crazy about how Wonkette covers political issues – especially since Anna Marie Cox left, but they do nail the headline on this one, How Did It Take Five Whole Weeks To Blame These Shootings On Welfare Mom Fraud? Though TP has a better write-up, House Republican Leader Blames Gun Violence On ‘Welfare Moms’

CONSTITUENT: My question is regarding the guns and is Washington at all aware of the psychotropic drugs that these children are taking? I guarantee it 100 percent that’s our big problem. […]

LANKFORD: I agree with that. I think there’s a bunch of issues that, quite frankly, most liberals are afraid to talk about. […] Where are we on all those psychiatric drugs? We’ve overmedicated kids. Quite frankly some of the overmedication of kids are because welfare moms want to get additional benefits and if they can put them on SSI through maintenance drugs, they can also put them on Social Security disability and get a separate check. That is wrong on every single level. Not only is it fraudulent to the government, but it also tells a kid with great potential, “don’t try because you’re disabled.”

I can hope that Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) and his supporters never have jury trial and the bar for burden of proof  of their guilt is as low as the bar for what they believe to be their truth. In 2011 9.8 million Americans received Social Security disability benefits. The Inspector General’s Office only found enough suspicion of possible fraud for for benefits in 4,600 cases. That means, if all of those cases were fraud that .047 percent of Americans who collected disability committed fraud. Financial Crimes Report to the Public Fiscal Years 2010-2011

Securities and Commodities Fraud

General Overview

The continued uncertainty and volatility of today’s financial markets could be measured by the Dow Jones Industrial Average movement from 12,681 on July 22, 2011, to 10,655 on October 3, 2011. As a result of such tumultuous markets, the FBI witnessed a steady rise in securities and commodities frauds as investors sought alternative investment opportunities. With the development of new schemes and trends—such as securities market manipulation via cyber intrusion, the increase in commodities fraud, the continued rise of Ponzi schemes, and foreign-based reverse merger market manipulation schemes—securities and commodities fraud is on the rise. Since 2008, securities and commodities fraud investigations have increased by 52 percent, and the FBI currently has over 1,800 pending investigations. During this period, the losses associated with these types of schemes have increased to billions of dollars. The losses are associated with depreciative market value of businesses, reduced or nonexistent return on investments, and legal and investigative costs. The victims of securities and commodities frauds include individual investors, financial institutions, public and private companies, government entities, pension funds, and retirement funds.

Combine that with fraud in the private health care sector,

Through FY 2011, 2,690 cases investigated by the FBI resulted in 1,676 informations/indictments and 736 convictions of HCF criminals. It should be noted that numerous cases are pending plea agreements and trials. The following notable statistical accomplishments are reflective in FY 2011 for HCF: $1.2 billion in restitutions; $1 billion in fines; $96 million in seizures; $320 million in civil restitution; and over $1 billion in civil settlements.

Mortgage Fraud by Private Lenders
With elevated levels of mortgage fraud, the FBI has continued to dedicate significant resources to the threat. The FBI has increased the number of agents who investigate mortgage fraud cases from 120 special agents in FY 2007 to 325 special agents in FY 2011. FBI pending mortgage fraud cases have increased from 1,199 in FY 2007 to 2,691 in FY 2011, with a peak of 3,129 in FY 2010

If regulations for private business were as tight as though for public funds like Social Security, we’d have both less private business fraud and more prosecutions.

Where are the reports that show a definitive empirical connection between single moms, Social Security and gun violence. There are none. There are reports that show that moderate gun regulation decreases the number of guns that fall into the hands of criminals. And that guns in the home increase the chance of violent death. The far Right will blame anything other than guns for gun deaths – video games, movies, Social Security, being a single mother. Yet very modest gun safety proposals morph magically into complete gun confiscation and hysteria directed at anything to distract from guns as at least a factor to be considered.

This is a good article that takes a fair look at the Right’s panacea, more guns will equal more safety, Your Brain in a Shootout: Guns, Fear and Flawed Instincts

But the research on actual gunfights, the kind that happen not in a politician’s head but in fluorescent-lit stairwells and strip-mall restaurants around America, reveals something surprising. Winning a gunfight without shooting innocent people typically requires realistic, expensive training and a special kind of person, a fact that has been strangely absent in all the back-and-forth about assault-weapon bans and the Second Amendment.

In the New York City police department, for example, officers involved in gunfights typically hit their intended targets only 18% of the time, according to a Rand study. When they fired 16 times at an armed man outside the Empire State Building last summer, they hit nine bystanders and left 10 bullet holes in the suspect—a better-than-average hit ratio. In most cases, officers involved in shootings experience a kaleidoscope of sensory distortions including tunnel vision and a loss of hearing. Afterward, they are sometimes surprised to learn that they have fired their weapons at all.

“Real gun battles are not Call of Duty,” says Ryan Millbern, who responded to an active-shooter incident and an armed bank robbery among other calls during his decade as a police officer in Colorado

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Guns have place in thinking about personal safety, but they are not the cure-all some people believe.

It Is Possible For President Obama to Be Both Pragmatist and Transformative

Blue Cloudscape wallpaper

Blue Cloudscape wallpaper

 

 

I’m fairly certain that Slate’s Jacob Weisberg is a left of center political analyst. So I found it remarkable in a column written a year or so ago that he pleaded for compromise on Medicare because, he argued Medicare paid a 100% of seniors medical expense – it actually ranges from 70 to 75% with the rest paid out of pocket or by Medicaid. He has written some good columns since then. Bloggers are pundits and sometimes analysts and even those of us on the same side do not always agree on every detail, yet Weisberg seems to have a dark side, a tendency to embrace Beltway cynicism that is on full display in this column of President Obama’s second term, The Agenda. How the president can move beyond reactionary liberalism in his second term.

To say that the president has yet to develop a broad, coherent vision of government is not the same as saying he lacks an agenda. Obama’s second-term program has already begun to emerge: gun control, immigration reform, and protecting the core of the federal safety net—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. But this agenda comes largely as a response to events and political opportunity: gun control because of the Sandy Hook shootings, immigration because of the rising power of Latinos, a defense of entitlements against the House Republican Jacobins.
With such a defensive agenda, however, Obama and the Democrats face a long-term hazard. The danger is slipping into a purely reactionary liberalism—one that stands for spending on programs that please powerful constituencies rather than for basic principles.

The obstacle that prevents liberals from thinking more ambitiously about government’s role is the swelling cost of entitlement spending, which is turning the Democrats into the party of transfer payments and taking any new ideas that cost money off the table.

That is not even thinly disguised Simpson-Bowles Catfood commission mentality. Since health care costs are not like the costs of potatoes and subject to market forces – when was the last time you saw a Sunday newspaper coupon for 10% off a bag of costly medical services, Medicare costs are going to go up. Weisberg, apparently a captive of the austerity mindset just can’t see through the Beltway fog. Instead of cutting benefits, which is another way of saying that seniors and the disabled will have to accommodate more pain, more misery and a higher death rate – something that Weisberg found morally objectionable when Republican cheered for social-Darwinism – employers like the big retail and fast food chains could pay their employees a living wage. They in turn would contribute more into the entitlement insurance they will need one day. And we could also increase the co-pay for richer recipients of Medicare. That is not reactionary. It is reactionary to force hardship on the nation’s most vulnerable – much as the old Russian Czars did to the poor in Russia. Rather than cost billionaires a few million. Jacob did mention something that all of us care about, except for the particulars obviously,

By continuing in this mode for another four years, he stands to leave a legacy as a fine decision-maker and manager in troubled times. Unless he raises his sights, however, he is unlikely to live up to his promise as a transformational leader.

A lot can change in four years. While Obama has been the frustrating pragmatist at times, Democrats, the Democratic base is a rough crowd. The pundits, bloggers, analysts and visionaries are difficult to please because they set their sights so high and tend towards impatience. Obama is part pragmatist and part transformational. His legislative accomplishments are in fact, unsurpassed. They look smaller only in comparison to the Democratic bases wish list. There is room for improvement as Gleen Greewald and The Nation will be happy to tell you, but also a rough road ahead. The number one mission of the House Republican majority and the Senate minority’s use of the filibuster means baby steps, not leaps. There will be accomplishments, especially if Democrats can overcome the Republican gerrymandering advantage and take the House in 2014. Barack Obama, Student of Power

And if the last few weeks are any indication, the Obama of the second term could be a much tougher character. He probably won’t be as tough as many of his liberal supporters would like, but he seems to have fundamentally changed his perspective on how to deal with the opposition. Whether because he was disabused of some naïve notions about his power to persuade or because he has simply made a strategic shift (more likely the latter), Republicans are likely to be even less pleased with him than they have been up until now.

We shouldn’t overstate this—Obama isn’t suddenly turning into a cold-blooded Machiavellian, seeking only to crush his enemies and see them driven before him. But he acting as though he has come to realize that bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake has no particular value, and negotiating with yourself only leaves you with less when all is said and done.

Look, for instance, at how he handled his new effort to address gun violence. As E.J. Dionne has observed, instead of trying to guess what Republicans might want and including some of those guesses in his proposal, Obama simply said, Here is what I want, now we can start negotiating. It’s true that his proposals could have gone farther (he could, for instance, have proposed that everyone who wants a gun should pass a safety test and get a license), but there wasn’t that attempt we’ve seen so often from him of trying to bring in Republicans by making concessions from the start.

Let’s not forget how many times Obama played that guessing game in his first term. He wanted Republican support for his stimulus package, so it was written so a full third of the money would be distributed in the form of tax cuts. How many Republicans voted for it? Zero in the House, and two (the Maine moderates) in the Senate. On health care reform, he not only made a conservative idea the centerpiece of his proposal (the individual mandate, which had its origins at the Heritage Foundation), but spent a year in meetings and speeches and conclaves and events practically begging Republicans to join him. How many voted for the Affordable Care Act in the end? Zero in the House, zero in the Senate.

While melodrama of debt ceiling conservative pearl clutchers is not over, they seem to have taken Obama at his word – this is what I am prepared to do, take it or leave it. With Newt Gingrich emitting the occasional sound bite and Boehner (R-OH) being a veteran of the Republican 1996 debt ceiling humiliation, conservatives seem headed toward avoiding the worse in order to save their own skin if nothing else. Many Republican voters agree with the President’s new gun safety regulations, whether they can make themselves heard over the shrill victim-hood of the gun fetishists is another matter. There might be enough support there to bring back Bush 41’s assault weapon’s ban.

Five Injured in Accidental Shootings at Gun Shows on “Gun Appreciation Day” and Kid Kills 5 in Family with Assault Rifle in New Mexico, Planned Slaughter at WalMart. Unlike some other issues where we can gloat a little at a conservative getting their comeuppance we don’t get that pleasure here. The medical costs of the five accident victims will be outrageous. Some if not all of them look like they’ll miss some work, so there is the lost income, the medical bills and the physical pain and maybe lifetime disability. The murdered family had a closet full of guns. They did not keep them locked. This kid had a history of emotional issues. If they saw a fire moving towards their house they would have taken precautions, but for some reason ignored a potential disaster under their nose. Another terrible tragedy that might have been avoided with just a tiny shift in attitude towards guns.

Death doesn’t take vacations, it just takes advantage of unhinged and unfounded fears of some sensible changes to make more money, Major Gun Company Begins Asking Customers to Fight Obama’s Proposed Reforms

The threat of gun control has been integral to the soaring profits of gun companies in recent years, since NRA-stoked fears of gun confiscation have sent a record number of Americans to the stores to purchase weapons. As Business Week noted, “Since Obama’s inauguration the [Ruger’s] stock price has risen more than 400 percent, making it a better investment than gold, which is up 113 percent.”

It appears that Phil Mickelson is the Gerard Depardieu of golf, Golfer Phil Mickelson May Call It Quits Due To Climbing Tax Rates

Q. Moving to Canada?

PHIL MICKELSON: I’m not sure what exactly, you know, I’m going to do yet. I’ll probably talk about it more in depth next week. I’m not going to jump the gun, but there are going to be some. There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn’t work for me right now. So I’m going to have to make some changes.

To be honest, it’s hard to blame Mickelson – who has compiled a net worth approaching $180 million by repeatedly striking a tiny white ball until it falls into a hole — for putting all options on the table, which according to some, include the possibility of prematurely shutting down his career to avoid his rising tax burden. Let’s take a look at what Mickelson is up against in 2013:

For starters, courtesy of President Obama’s re-election and the subsequent fiscal cliff negotiations, Mickelson will experience an increase in his top tax rate on ordinary income from 35% to 39.6%, and an increase in his top rate on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends from 15% to 20%. Clearly, when faced with tax hikes of that magnitude, it stops making economic sense for Mickelson to continue to swing a metal stick up to 70 times a day in exchange for the $48 million he earns on an annual basis.

But it gets worse. Thanks to the expiration of the temporary 2% reduction in the payroll tax rate on the first $113,700 of self-employment income, Mickelson will have to fork over an extra $2,274 in tax during 2013, an additional burden that makes it hard to justify briskly walking as many as five miles per day, four days a week. In long pants, nonetheless.

What is it like to live in a complete cocoon of elitist entitlement. Is he going to have to sell his car elevator to one of the Romney kids.

“The Dream Continues: Photographs of Martin Luther King Murals by Camilo José Vergara”. The picture below is just from my collection.

Statue of Dr Martin Luther King Jr in the Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama

Statue of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in the Kelly Ingram Park, Birmingham, Alabama. “Kelly Ingram Park (formerly West Park) was a staging ground for civil rights demonstrations in the 1960s. It is located adjacent to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the 16th Street Baptist Church.”

Map Madison Wisconsin in1867 – Republicans Have Redacted Ninety-Nine Percent of the Constitution

 

Map Madison Wisconsin in1867

Map Madison Wisconsin in1867. Perspective map not drawn to scale. the legend on this beautiful map lists notable sites such as the capitol building, the German Catholic Church, the Soldiers Orphan Home and the local “lunatic asylum”.

Tombstone Arizona Mines Map1881

Tombstone Arizona Mines Map1881. I just liked this quirky map so much I had to post it today. I have a copy twice this large and you still cannot read the small print of the individual mines. Yet it is an a nicely done piece of historic art if nothing else. a Mr. Frank S. Ingoldsby put a lot of thought and consciousness attention to detail. Though the beauty of the map does obscure the terrible legacy of what many of those mines, pretty much unregulated, left as their environmental legacy on the land and local water supply.

 

 

Bill Maher continues to be an equal oportunity offender, though this says more about the blatant hypocrisy of a certain political partay and the fact that they are clueless to that hypocrisy,

During the last segment of Bill Maher’s show on Friday, he criticized both gun owners and liberals who appeared not to care that the majority of our civil liberties have been compromised as they duke it out over gun control.

“New rule: someone has to tell America’s gun nuts to stop wetting their amy surplus pants about losing the Second Amendment. It’s not your Second Amendment rights that are under attack — it’s all the other ones,” he began.

He went on to say that last month, the Senate voted to reauthorize a program that can “collect data on any American citizen and hold onto it forever. They can look at your emails, your texts, your Skypes, and not a peep out the crowd that’s always bitching about what the framers intended. In fact, the answer from almost everyone seems to be, ‘Oh what the hell, the airport screeners have already seen my ass anyway.’”

“Call me old school, but I don’t want the feds googling what I’m googling. It’s bad enough when Netflix pries into my private life. ‘You watched the Walking Dead and Zombieland. You might also like this interview with John McCain.’”

“Doesn’t anyone care that this is the new normal? I guess not, because gun nuts don’t care and neither do liberals,” he said, reminding liberals that they accused Bush of “wiping his ass with the constitution” for the warrantless wiretapping program but seem to have no problem’s with Obama doing the same thing.

“The only thing that still has bipartisan support in Washington is not giving a shit about privacy,” he said.

He also said that while gun owners feel that guns protect them more than laws or courts. “They think that’s what prevents the government from going too far. Without guns, Obama would become an emperor and force everyone to gay marry, but he can’t because a guy in Kentucky named Skeeter has a .22.”

But while they were buying guns, “that’s when we lost all the stuff in the Bill of Rights, about trials and juries and warrants” and that there is “nothing left for the guns to protect.”

There is some Democratic hypocrisy and I appreciate the humor pointing that out, though I would include the the circumstances of that hypocrisy. During the 2008 and 2012 elections there were political choices on the table. In neither case Obama versus McCain or Obama versus Romney would liberals get everything on their wish list. We were adults. We looked at the candidates, we checked off the list of pluses and minuses and voted accordingly. Certainly the recent renewal of domestic surveillance provisions in the Orwellian named Patriot Act contains some repugnant legislation. That does not mean they are not on the list of things that the Democratic base is working on and would like to see revised. In comparison, the people who think guns equals rights, that think semi-automatics with large magazines and guarantees of freedom are one and the same, have no problem with the tyrannical government talking away a big chunk of their civil liberties. If guns are not their to protect your first, fourth, freedom from cruel or unusual punishment, freedom from fines without due process, the right of habeas corpus or the right to an independent judiciary, than the only right conservative gun fetishists care about is the right to have an urban assault weapon to protect themselves from overly aggressive deer. This is a wonderful post that puts things in proper moral perspective, As gun biz was hiring 13,000 people a year, its product was being used to kill more than twice that.

Note that Republicans who shed tears over the prospects of not having a 13 shot mag for their 9mms have no problem with Republicans laying financial Russian-roulette for the nation’s economy, The Republican Debt Ceiling Gambit Is Unconstitutional

House Republicans are backing away from their threat to plunge the United States into a catastrophic budget default and will instead pursue the somewhat less reckless strategy of passing a three-month increase in the debt limit. According to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), the bill will also contain a provision cutting off congressional pay unless both houses meet a particular milestone: “If the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay.”

Before Cantor gets too excited about this plan, however, he may want to familiarize himself with the Twenty-Seventh Amendment to the Constitution:

No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

There is no election between now and three-months from now, so no law that would cut off congressional pay can take effect then. The Constitution is very clear on this point. Indeed, Republicans should have discovered this fact when House members read the Constitution aloud on the House floor last Tuesday.

To be sure, it is good news that House Republicans appear to be realizing that they can no longer hold the fate of the entire world economy hostage to their narrow agenda. But they aren’t allowed to violate the Constitution either.
Update

Buzzfeed’s John Stanton reports that Republicans claim their “no budget, no pay” provision is constitutional because “it doesn’t change the level of pay but withholds it” until a subsequent date. This claim, however, is not consistent with the text of the Twenty-Seventh Amendment. The Constitution forbids laws “varying the compensation” of members of Congress, not just laws that change the amount of their pay. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, the verb “vary” means “to make a partial change in : make different in some attribute or characteristic.” Changing the timing of congressional pay makes a change in some attribute or characteristic of how members are compensated.

Maybe we could start an exchange program. Conservatives turn in their assault weapons and get a free copy of the constitution the rest of us read, the one with all the amendments.

 

 

I’m going to try not to do much in the way of loner posts about this apparently growing phenomenon, but i will mention stories as they develop, Sandy Hook truther won’t quit
Florida professor James Tracy tells Alex Jones’ radio show that like 9/11, Newtown was “a drill that went live” VIDEO

Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy is standing by his controversial views on the Sandy Hook massacre, saying in a radio interview today that “crisis actors” may have been used to “embellish” the shooting, just as they did in 9/11.

[WATCH] Actor Danny Glover tells students 2nd Amendment was created to protect slavery. It’s all faux outrage in the comments. Glover is crazy, doesn’t know history, etc. No one bothered to look past the garbage history that conservatives regularly swallow from the Limbaughs, Drudges and Gleen Becks. Slavery might not have been the only reason for the way the 2nd amercement was worded, but preserving slavery was a large part of it.

Ralph Nader has developed some quirks I don’t care for over the last 10 years, but he can still do some math, Open Letter to Mark Duke, CEO of Walmart: Take the Lead on Raising Minimum Wage

Walmart has about one million workers, give or take, in the U.S. who are making less per hour, adjusted for inflation, than workers made in 1968. This is remarkable for another reason – today’s Walmart worker, due to automation and other efficiencies, does the work of two Walmart workers from 40 years ago. A federal minimum wage, inflation-adjusted from 1968, would be $10.50 today. The present federal minimum wage is $7.25 – the lowest in major Western countries. In Western Europe and Ontario, where you have operations, you must currently adhere to minimum wages of $10.50 or more.

[  ]…Raising your workers’ wages to a $10.50 minimum would cost your company less than $2 billion (deductible) on U.S. sales of more than $313 billion. Fewer Walmart workers would have to go on varieties of government relief. Some of that $2 billion would go to social security, and Medicare with more going back into purchases at Walmart.

If America’s CEOs in general would act like moral patriotic Americans it would solve a lot of problems including Medicare funding and boosting the economy by increasing the buying power of millions of workers.