America By and For Corporate Greed

Give Your Good Books To Our Fighting Men

Give Your Good Books To Our Fighting Men. 1943. Kind of a trade-off in messaging, sexist, yet encourages reading and sharing. Courtesy UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library.

Map of St Petersburg 1724

Map of St Petersburg, 1724. By Johann Baptista Hohmann (20 March 1664 – 1 July 1724) was a German geographer and cartographer, who is more famous for his maps of the Americas. n 1716 Homann published his masterpiece Grosser Atlas ueber die ganze Welt (Grand Atlas of all the World).  This would have been St. Petersburg during the time of the czars (Tsars), quite a few years before the Russian Revolution (s) that began in 1905.

How Big Corporations Are Unpatriotic
by Ralph Nader  

Many giant profitable U.S. corporations are increasingly abandoning America while draining it at the same time.

General Electric, for example, has paid no federal income taxes for a decade while becoming a net job exporter and fighting its hard-pressed workers who want collective bargaining through unions like the United Electrical Workers Union (UE). GE’s boss, Jeffrey Immelt, makes about $12,400 an hour on an 8-hour day, plus benefits and perks, presiding over this global corporate empire.

Telling by their behavior, these big companies think patriotism toward the country where they were created and prospered is for chumps. Their antennae point to places where taxes are very low, labor is wage slavery, independent unions are non-existent, governments have their hands out, and equal justice under the rule of law does not exist. China, for example, has fit that description for over 25 years.

Other than profiteering from selling Washington very expensive weapons of mass destruction, many multinational firms have little sense of true national security.

Did you know that about 80 percent of the ingredients in medicines Americans take now come from China and India where visits by FDA inspectors are infrequent and inadequate?

The lucrative U.S. drug industry – coddled with tax credits, free transfer of almost-ready-to-market drugs developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars via the National Institutes of Health – charges Americans the highest prices for drugs in the world and still wants more profits. Drug companies no longer produce many necessary medicines like penicillin in the U.S., preferring to pay slave wages abroad to import drugs back into the U.S.

Absence of patriotism has exposed our country to dependency on foreign suppliers for crucial medicines, and these foreign suppliers may not be so friendly in the future.

Giant U.S. companies are strip-mining America in numerous ways, starting with the corporate tax base. By shifting more of their profits abroad to “tax-haven” countries (like the Cayman Islands) through transfer pricing and other gimmicks, and by lobbying many other tax escapes through Congress, they can report record profits in the U.S. with diminishing tax payments. Yet they are benefitting from the public services, special privileges, and protection by our armed forces because they are U.S. corporations.

On March 27, 2013, the Washington Post reported that compared to forty years ago, big companies that “routinely cited U.S. federal tax expenses that were 25 to 50 percent of their worldwide profits,” are now reporting less than half that share. For instance, Proctor and Gamble was paying 40 percent of its total profits in taxes in 1969; today it pays 15 percent in federal taxes. Other corporations pay less or no federal income taxes.

Welcome to globalization. It induces dependency on instabilities in tiny Greece and Cyprus that shock stock investments by large domestic pension and mutual funds here in the U.S. Plus huge annual U.S. trade deficits, which signals the exporting of millions of jobs.

The corporate law firms for these big corporations were the architects of global trade agreements that make it easy and profitable to ship jobs and industries to fascist and communist regimes abroad while hollowing out U.S. communities and throwing their loyal American workers overboard. It’s not enough that large corporations are paying millions of American workers less than workers were paid in 1968, adjusted for inflation.

Corporate bosses can’t say they’re just keeping up with the competition; they muscled through the trade system that pulls down on our country’s relatively higher labor, consumer and environmental standards.

Corporate executives, when confronted with charges that show little respect for the country, its workers and its taxpayers who made possible their profits and subsidized their mismanagement, claim they must maximize their profits for their shareholders and their worker pension obligations.

Their shareholders? Is that why they’re stashing $1.7 trillion overseas in tax havens instead of paying dividends to their rightful shareholder-owners, which would stimulate our economy? Shareholders? Are those the people who have been stripped of their rights as owners and prohibited from even keeping a lid on staggeringly sky-high executive salaries ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 an hour or more, plus perks?

Why these corporate bosses can’t even abide one democratically-run shareholders’ meeting a year without gaveling down their owners and cutting time short. To get away from as many of their shareholder-owners as possible, AT&T is holding its annual meeting on April 26 in remote Cheyenne, Wyoming!

Pension obligations for their workers? The award-winning reporter for the Wall Street Journal Ellen E. Shultz demonstrates otherwise. In her gripping book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, she shows how by “exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations and new accounting rules,” companies deceptively tricked employees and turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters and profit centers.

Recently, I wrote to the CEOs of the 20 largest U.S. corporations, asking if they would stand up at their annual shareholders’ meetings and on behalf of their U.S. chartered corporation (not on behalf of their boards of directors), and pledge allegiance to the flag ending with those glorious words “with liberty and justice for all.” Nineteen of the CEOs have not yet replied. One, Chevron, declined the pledge request but said their patriotism was demonstrated creating jobs and sparking economic activity in the U.S.

But when corporate lobbyists try to destroy our right of trial by jury for wrongful injuries – misnamed tort reform – when they destroy our freedom of contract – through all that brazenly one-sided fine print – when they corrupt our constitutional elections with money and unaccountable power, when they commercialize our education and patent our genes, and outsource jobs to other countries, the question of arrogantly rejected patriotism better be front-and-center for discussion by the American people.

On occasion Nader has gone off the deep end in the past, but when it comes to talking about how corporate America is damaging the middle-class and democracy he still has some of that late 70s, early 1980s genuine egalitarianism going.

Black and White Lighthouse wallpaper – The DOMA Issue Brings Up The Conservative Antipathy Towards Individual Rights

Black and White Lighthouse wallpaper

Black and White Lighthouse wallpaper

Old Lighthouse wallpaper

Old Lighthouse wallpaper

 

Just because it is the SCOTUSBlog does not mean it is the last word, but it does carry a little more authority in terms of analysis than much of what is on the internets especially, Argument recap: DOMA is in trouble (FINAL UPDATE). This story is being tweeted and blog about quite a bit, but it does not say what some headline skimmers thinks it says, David von Drehle writes How Gay Marriage Won. The article documents some of the legal victories, but is also as much about, if not more about the cultural victories. Good article, worth saving for the historical documentation, but this part struck me,

True, most of the remaining states have passed laws or constitutional amendments reserving marriage for opposite-sex partners. And Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, declares that the fight to defend the traditional definition is only beginning. “Our opponents know this, which is why they are hoping the Supreme Court will cut short a debate they know they will ultimately lose if the political process and democracy are allowed to run their course,” he said.

The thoughts and let’s assume deeply held convictions of Mr. Brown are a great encapsulation of the way conservatives think a democratic republic such as ours works. In Conservoworld, if the majority thinks there is such a thing as witchcraft, that it is their belief witchcraft is harmful to society, well, let the witch burning begin. This is what President James Madison warned about in his concerns with the “tyranny of the majority”. Sure liberals belief you have to work at nudging people over to their side on issues, but they also believe that some rights are fundamental, as Madison did in the Bill of Rights. Anyone see anything in the Bill that says these basic liberties and protections are reserved just for heterosexuals or white males or fundamentalist Christians. No, of course not. Those rights were extended to all Americans. That is the way our democracy works. It is the conservative antagonism towards our basic principles of governance that makes the conservative movement such a malignancy. They are fighting for a way of governance and life that is opposed to small r republicanism. You only hear conservatives get passionate about Lockean individual liberty when they talk about the rights of corporations. That your rights as a consumer, an individual, as an investor, as a parent trying to raise a child that values something other than money – your rights should be surrendered for the sake of being pro business.

Do they hear the words that come out of their mouths, Fox’s Jon Scott: Defending “Traditional Marriage” Is Part Of The Fight Against Gun Violence

Fox News host Jon Scott looped the opposition to marriage equality into the fight against gun violence, claiming that conservatives are lined up in front of the Supreme Court “trying to defend traditional marriage” in part because gun violence is exacerbated by the institution’s decline.

On the March 27 edition of Happening Now, Scott hosted Fox News contributor Juan Williams to discuss the nexus between race, gun violence, and the family unit. Scott then tied the discussion to the debate over the Defense Of Marriage Act, saying that a rise in gun and gang violence and drug use was “why so many hundreds of conservatives are lined up outside the Supreme Court right now trying to defend traditional marriage, because they say marriage is an important building block to the society.”

So deny equality in marriage and people will stop buying guns. Sounds like the hippie conservative on acid appeal. And if marriage equals stability in society than that means Scott should want gays couples to get married to encourage said stability.

No, Breitbart.com Serial Liars, We Did Not Spend $1 Million On Puppets “Amid Sequester”

Right-wing media are claiming that the federal government spent money on research grants and other expenses for puppets during the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, despite the fact that the grants were all paid prior to the budget cuts.

On Wednesday, Breitbart.com attacked the administration for stopping tours of the White House as a result of budget cuts in a post titled “U.S. Spends $1.18 Million On Puppets Amid Sequester,” and claimed the government could “cut federal ‘puppet expenditures’ to keep the people’s house open.” The website listed spending from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other sources, as federal spending on “puppets and puppetry-related expenses.”

Fox Nation hyped the Breitbart.com post, labeling it a “report”:

Fox & Friends joined in on Thursday when co-host Steve Doocy said: “1.18 million, that’s how much the government has spent on puppets since 2009. That’s enough to pay for more than a year’s worth of White House tours.”

However, the grants and contracts that Breitbart.com cited were all paid prior to 2013. A screenshot of the search terms used by Breitbart.com reveals the most recent grants were paid in fiscal year 2012, which ended on September 30, 2012. Sequestration took place on March 1, 2013, almost six months later.

So the complaint here, from the anti-science crowd, is that President Obama needs to immediately create a time-machine and go back, twist the arm of every Republican in Congress, forcing them to unvote for the sequester they voted for. Of course all the Brietbart commenters joined in with the usual shrill outrage. One assumes because none of them know how to read a calender or tell time. They are definitely in the right bubble of disinformation over there.

The tired, beaten and raged story of conservatives and the relationship between tax cuts and jobs: if only taxes were cut even more, business could afford to hire more people. Yet another pin in that hot air balloon, Post analysis of Dow 30 firms shows declining tax burden as a share of profits.

Most of the 30 companies listed on the country’s most famous stock index, the Dow Jones industrial average, have seen a dramatically smaller percentage of their profits go to U.S. coffers over the past 40 years.

…A Washington Post analysis of data compiled by Capital IQ found that in the late 1960s and early 1970s, companies in the current Dow 30 routinely cited U.S. federal tax expenses that were up to half of their worldwide profits. Now, most are reporting less than half that amount.

The reason? The slow but steady transformation of the American multinational after years of globalization. Companies now enjoy an unprecedented ability to move their capital around the world, and the corporate tax code has not kept up with the changes.

Across industries, virtually every major U.S. firm has seen the rate of its tax contributions plummet, at least according to publicly available financial statements.

Procter & Gamble, the consumer products giant, reported a U.S. federal tax expense that was 40 percent of its total profits in 1969; that figure was down to 14 percent in 2011.

The maker of Otis elevators and Black Hawk helicopters,
United Technologies, reported a tax expense in 1969 that was 47 percent of profits. In 2012, that figure was 5.8 percent.

Walt Disney cited a tax figure that was 40 percent of its profits in 1969; in 2012, it had dropped by nearly half to 21 percent.

Oil companies and too big too fail banks like JP Morgan have stayed about the same in terms of taxes.

Italian Hills Spring wallpaper – Republicans Come Up Short On Economic And Constitutional Values

Italian Hills Spring wallpaper

Italian Hills Spring wallpaper

I have heard otherwise pretty sensible people repeat the now firmly entrenched myth that the federal budget is like your household budget. A testament of sorts to the power of repeating an untruth for long enough. Why the federal budget can’t be managed like a household budget

The Romney campaign said it. Paul Ryan claimed it, as recently as a little more than a week ago. It’s not, you can all but hear them saying, that we want grandma eating cat food when she’s 90, but gosh damn it, we need to restore some integrity to our federal finances. After all, you, John and Jane Q. Voter, reconcile your family accounts regularly and can’t spend a penny more than what is coming in. Why should those big spenders in Washington, DC get away with doing something you mere Americans cannot?

“Every family in America has to balance their budget,” recently thundered Speaker of the House John Boehner.

I guess that’s why an online poll last year found 69% of us never reconcile our checkbook and another 10% rarely bother.

So what can be the appeal of this less than truthful analogy? The sad truth is it is a product of our profound financial ignorance.

It makes a nice argument crutch to make the comparison even though people generally tend to just trust their memeory and the bank. The same people who, after eight years of “spending like a drunk sailor” as one senator from Arizona once put it, suddenly discovered they were vastly overdrawn. So in a recession no less, they decided that mending their fences should take priority over infrastructure and job creation.

Now, of course you could say a certain percentage of government spending is also a long-term investment. Just look at the economic stimulus plan enacted by the Obama administration. Not only does issuing debt and using it to build bridges and educate children offer an economic stimulus in the short term, it also boosts our prospects in the long run, as these investments ultimately improve our productivity for years to come.

Yet this nation of current and former mortgage holders doesn’t believe it. Internal Republican party polling obtained by the online publication Politico revealed that a majority of voters believe balancing the federal budget would “significantly increase economic growth and create millions of American jobs.”

Been to Great Britain lately? Greece? Italy? That austerity thing is working out just great for them. The more they cut, the worse the hole their economies face. That’s why Britain is likely entering its third recession in less than five years.

These are the facts. They are pesky things. Remember that recent blog post I did or the column by Ezra Klein about Republican strategist and pundit Mike Murphy. When confronted with the facts about how austerity has failed everywhere, Republicans just go into denial mode. As important as fact denial in the conservative mental bunker, beliefs are as important if not more so. Given a choice between the historical record and what conservatives hold as a belief, the belief wins. Given a choice between a study showing there is no connection between low taxes for the wealthy and job growth, the conservative will still go with their agenda. So what if the conservative agenda is ultimately a break on progress, bad for the nation morally and ultimately bad for the economic prospects of 90% of American workers. The conservative mind is only interested in seeing the fulfillment of its agenda.

Why Do Senate Republicans Hate Traditional American Judicial Values

Caitlin Halligan, facing a Republican filibuster, officially withdrew from consideration for a judgeship on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is not surprising or unexpected. Halligan, who was nominated to fill the seat vacated by Chief Justice John Roberts, had seen her nomination languish since 2010. The successful filibuster that snuffed Halligan’s nomination early this March represents another example of why real reform or (better yet) elimination of the filibuster is desperately needed.

The filibustering of Halligan is striking, even in the context of an utterly dysfunctional Senate, for two reasons. First, Halligan is a mainstream nominee, with broad support for her credentials and temperament from across the political spectrum. And second, Obama is the first president in at least 50 years not to get a single nominee confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, despite a relatively large number of vacancies. Obama isn’t packing the court or looking to staff it with radical liberals, and yet a minority in the Senate is preventing him from replacing a seat that has been vacant for seven years and counting.

Scott points out that Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made sure that he referred to Halligan as a judicial activist, twice. Truly a head spinner. This from the guy who supported the judicial activism of the SCOTUS in the Citizens United case and supported Janice Rogers Brown for the Circuit Court. Janice might be one of the most radical far Right judicial activist to ever serve on a federal bench, Bush Nominee to to D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

Brown has exhibited hostility to protections against discrimination. For instance, she has argued that victims of age discrimination should not have the right to sue under common law, that the state Fair Employment and Housing Commission did not have the authority to award damages to housing discrimination victims, that victims of disability discrimination are not entitled to raise past instances of discrimination that occurred, and that verbal conduct that creates a hostile work environment does not constitute employment discrimination.

Janice does represent conservative legal radicalism. She believes, as does the conservative movement, that those in power – corporations, state government should have the freedom to take away your freedom. In these Orwellian circle logic when victims of discrimination or harassment seek legal remedies, they are interfering with the freedom and rights of those in power to abuse others, because hey, that is how the conservative constitution works.

In a case involving a company sued for making false statements about the conditions in its overseas factories, Brown argued that the court should expand the contexts in which corporations could make false or misleading representations with no legal ramifications. In another case, she argued that the court should restrict the ability of investors to sue corporations that provide fraudulent financial reports.

For a movement that uses the word values so much, a look at the context, at how they apply those “values,” consistently comes up short on the accountability that forms the backbone of any values worth having.

Heart Shaped World Map 1536

Heart Shaped World Map 1536

Heart Shaped World Map 1536. As far as map fame goes, this one is somewhat famous. The heart shape lends the image to a variety of causes, beliefs and general artistic appreciation. It was created by cartographer and mathematician Oronce Fine ( Orontius Finnaeus or Finaeus; Italian: Oronzio Fineo)(1494-1555).

Other than Peggy Noonan, who has suddenly decided to be a weird version of Paul Krugman and other economists who think that job creation should take priority over balancing the budget, most conservatives are pro European-style austerity. That austerity even has the same self defeating math, The Ryan Budget’s Tax Cuts: Nearly $6 Trillion in Cost and No Plausible Way to Pay for It. New Tax Policy Center Estimates Show $5.7 Trillion Revenue Loss

The new budget from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes a series of dramatic tax cuts that would cost nearly $6 trillion in lost federal revenue over the next decade (see Figure 1), and that would provide the lion’s share of their benefits to high-income households and corporations.  But, despite its stated promise to the contrary, the budget does not include a plausible way to pay for it all.

Ryan budget plan

Ryan budget plan

But the very serious zombies of conservatism have put on their blinders. Ryan’s budget has two super important things going for it. It cuts taxes for the wealthy. It is not an Obama-Democratic budget. Thank you, good night and drive home safely. Those are the only things America needs to know. For dessert conservatives get to chip away at the Marxist safety net, known to rational Americans as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr

STARR, BELLE. “A wild western amazon. The noted Belle Starr is arrested on the border of Indian Territory and being released on bail vanishes on horseback.” Wood engraving in The National Police Gazette (1886 May 22), p. 16. The NPG published a lot of tabloid style journalism. Belle or Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr (February 5, 1848 – February 3, 1889) was not much of a heroine, though she was far from the most evil person around at the time. In a recent post I mentioned Judge Roy Bean who went from rowdy drunk and part-time criminal, to highly eccentric man of the law. Belle was somewhat a creature of her time. Fine upstanding men in business and politics stole far more than she and her gang ever did. I kind of like the legend and the illustration. Though from what i understand a horse would never run with all four legs flung out in that position. Eadweard Muybridge did show that horses sometimes have all four legs off the ground, but if the front legs were extended the back legs would have been under the horse and vice versa.

Republicans Prove, “It is impossible to make a man understand something if his livelihood depends on not understanding it.”

Black and White Gear Spring wallpaper

Black and White Gear Spring wallpaper

Moss Green Gear Spring wallpaper

Moss Green Gear Spring wallpaper

 

A new study finds that politicians think that voters are far more conservative than they really are

Ezra Klein highlighted an interesting recent story in which Republican strategist Mike Murphy said that the GOP would only negotiate with President Obama on budget matters after Obama made two key concessions: means testing of Medicare and limiting the growth of Social Security expenditures over time. Funny thing is, Obama has already offered these two precise concessions. Murphy responded to this new information in an interesting, but entirely predictable, way: he dismissed Obama’s concessions as false, and he said that the GOP doesn’t trust him anyway. In other words, a political elite had a specific worldview, he was offered evidence that contradicted the worldview, so he chose to dismiss the evidence in favor of his worldview.

….Why might politicians think voters are more conservative than they actually are? It could be that their views are shaped by political media reports. State legislative candidates rarely have great polling operations, and if they perceive public opinion to fall halfway between whatever Fox says and whatever CNN says, they’re going to come in somewhere to the right of the population median. Politicians may also be estimating that those who will actually turn out to vote will be somewhat more conservative than their constituents as a whole.

Before I get to the specific examples from that Ezra Klein column, I’ve had similar experiences in everyday conversation and on this blog. I kind of expect that people only half listen to what others are saying or what they hear coming from a TV. We’re somewhat overwhelmed with information of all kinds. I’ve read that to some degree our brains automatically filter out some of the noise just so it can function. Though it is perplexing that I should have the new information problem with this blog. Back in 2008 I did a post in journalist/writer/poet Frank Marshall and the urban myths being spread by the radical Right to use Marshall to smear then Sen. Obama (D-Ill). I see I’m getting quite a few clicks from a forum so I go over to see how they’re suing the link. A conservative had used it as a gotcha – see Marshall was an Anti-Christ anarchist commie. Did she read the post and not understand it, or did she read it and like Murphy, see the words as saying what she wanted them to say. Either way she presented the facts to other conservatives who did not want to have their myths shattered. No group of people is immune from this phenomenon, but conservatives seem to live in this bubble of alternate reality more often than moderate minded Americans. Ezra, along with Jonathan Chait , does such a great job of relating what happened with Republican strategist and pundit Mike Murphy that, if nothing else I want to preserve some of it on this blog. Though more important than catching a college educated, politically savvy conservative  freaking out when cornered, is the fact that President Obama can never concede enough to Republican demands to make them agree to a deal. We’ll get a sequester deal eventually, but it will be the result of re-election fears by conservatives, not because Republicans suddenly decided to be even marginally reasonable human beings. This is why Obama can’t make a deal with Republicans 

File this under “Jonathan Chait is right.”

My column this weekend is about the almost comically poor lines of communication between the White House and the Hill. The opening anecdote was drawn from a background briefing I attended with a respected Republican legislator who thought it would be a gamechanger for President Obama to say he’d be open to chained CPI — a policy that cuts Social Security benefits — as part of a budget deal.

The only problem? Obama has said he’s open to chained CPI as part of a budget deal. And this isn’t one of those times where the admission was in private, and we’re going off of news reports. It’s right there on his Web site. It’s literally in bold type. But key GOP legislators have no idea Obama’s made that concession.

The question my column left open was whether improving the lines of communication would actually change anything. Chait’s view is no, it wouldn’t. He begins by quoting Upton Sinclair’s famous line: “It is impossible to make a man understand something if his livelihood depends on not understanding it.” Chait continues:

If Obama could get hold of Klein’s mystery legislator and inform him of his budget offer, it almost certainly wouldn’t make a difference. He would come up with something – the cuts aren’t real, or the taxes are awful, or they can’t trust Obama to carry them out, or something.

What happened next on Twitter proved Chait’s point in every particular.

Mike Murphy is one of the top political consultants in the Republican Party. He’s been a top strategist for Mitt Romney, John McCain, Jeb Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger and many other Republicans. He’s also, as his client list would suggest, from the party’s more pragmatic, even moderate, wing. Over the past few years, as he’s transitioned into doing more punditry, he’s emerged as an invaluable guide to what reasonable Republicans think of the rightward lurch in the GOP.

On Feb. 13, Murphy wrote in Time that “six magic words can unlock the door to the votes inside the Republican fortress: Some beneficiaries pay more and chained CPI, budgetary code for slightly lowering benefit increases over time.” The only problem? Obama has said all these words, as John Harwood of the New York Times quickly pointed out:

Murphy responded by suggesting that sure, Obama has called for more means-testing in Medicare, but he’s not put chained CPI — CCPI, if you’re hamstrung by Twitter’s 140-character limit — on the board:

Obama never refused chained CPI as part of a cliff deal. In fact, he did the opposite: He endorsed it as part of a cliff deal, and he’s kept endorsing it, as his sequestration plan clearly says, since the cliff deal fell apart. This was quickly pointed out to Murphy on Twitter, at which point, he promptly proved Chait’s thesis correct:

So faced with several tweets showing that he was wrong about Obama and CCPI, what does Murphy do. Murphy calls chained CPI “a gimmick,”. Murphy also claimed that even if Obama agreed to such a deal, Obama cannot be trusted. So we’re already several planets removed from reality. Corned Murphy resorts to the kind of thing you’d expect to hear from around a middle-school locker. “A few tweets later, Murphy gave his bottom-line view, which is that if Obama wants a deal, he needs to drop all of his demands and just agree to what the GOP wants to do..” Murphy, Beltway Republicans and their fiends in the media can same the country a lot of eye strain and ear aches by just admitting that Murphy has nicely summed up the real situation. When America votes for a conservative who runs as a moderate – like “compassionate” conservative Bush 43, what America will really get it full blown wingnuttery. When America votes for a moderate Democrats – who is some respects is to the Right of Saint Ronnie, America should still get what the radical Right wants. I bet I have readers who have dealt with tired, impatient, crying four- year-olds who are far more reasonable than Murphy and his clones.

Freaky Former Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Perry’s $487 Million Corporate Slush Fund Doesn’t Need Your Stinkin’ Audit. The Texas governor doesn’t agree that his corporate-handout fund needs an audit—because he and two other GOP pols already monitor it. Big government haters might find out that Perry and his cronies in the Texas political, and business community are cheating tax payers with great efficiency.

Fox News Continues Pushing Conspiracy Theory That Iraq Hid WMD In Other Countries

Fox News suggested that an attack in Syria might have involved chemical weapons from Iraq, pushing a conspiracy theory that Saddam Hussein hid WMD in other countries prior to the Iraq war. Fox made a similar claim just two days ago.

….The ISG also concluded that after 1995, Iraq “abandoned its existing [biological warfare] program in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad’s ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions.” The report stated that Iraq appeared to have destroyed its undeclared stocks of biological warfare-related weapons in 1991 and 1992.

A 2005 Associated Press report stated that intelligence officials said they found no evidence “indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere.”

As far as conservative hysteria goes I kind of liked the old WMD theories. They had the benefit, especially for conservatives like Murphy, of having some plausibility. Who read through the whole pdf of that ISG report. The WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin claimed to have read that Inspector General report on the DOJ and either she cannot read or has political dyslexia.

Tin can tourists

Tin can tourists. Washington, D.C. Between 1921 and 1922. Before there were RVs or SUVs people packed everything – tents, pots, pans, food, blankets on cars and hit the road for vacations. A nice blog post on the history of tin can tourists in this blog post,  Tin can tourists

  Automobiles were barely on the road before people started driving them hundreds of miles to warmer climes.  Never mind the constant breakdowns.  Never mind having to drive through rivers and swamps because there weren’t any bridges.  Never mind the lack of filling stations.  These people  wanted sun and did what they had to in order to get it.

 

In Conservative World Corporate Corruption Is Patriotic, Buying A Soda, The Depth of Moral Depravity

Gold Pocketwatch wallpaper

Gold Pocket Watch wallpaper

Black and White Pocket Watch wallpaper

Black and White Pocket Watch wallpaper

The other day I wrote that no one reads the WaPo’s Charles Lane. I wonder if he read that post. Today he panders to the long held conservative notion that the poor are live the high life off food stamps and tax payers are giving away millions. You know, like this is just one conservative example of govmint handouts, that if stopped, would solve all our budget issues. I know the answer to Chuck’s question, Why should food stamps pay for junk food? Apparently Chuck does not. If one of my co-workers or neighbors don’t know the answer, that would not be good either, but none of them are “journalist” who get paid for their opinion. On the contray, they look to sources like the WaPo for well researched information. Charles seems to have gottten all his talking points from some far Right newsletter,

What really caught my attention, though, were the photographs that showed what some SNAP recipients bought with their government-funded debit cards: Cheetos Puffs, a one-ounce handful of which contains 10 grams of fat; a box containing two dozen 12-ounce cans of Fanta Orange soda, each of which contains 44 grams of sugar; a carton of six-ounceCapri Sun drink pouches, each of which contains 16 grams of sugar.

In short, this immense nutrition program pays for a lot of stuff that is the opposite of nutritious.

[  ]…I blame Congress for not updating SNAP to reflect nutritional common sense — and the terrible epidemics of obesity, hypertension and diabetes, which disproportionately affect low-income Americans but increase the entire country’s health-care bill. ( This is actually pretty clever just blaming the entire House since that is an easy whipping post)

Brent Baker at the perennially sleazy conservative web site Newsbuster picks up the framing – well everyone is one food stamps because Obama tanked the economy ( sorry Brent the historical revisionism only works for kool-aid drinkers – Economic Downturn and Legacy of Bush Policies Continue to Drive Large Deficits). Brent is practically a font of moderation compared to the poor are always evil and to blame pundits at the conservative Weasel Zippers, “WaPo Shocked To Find Food Stamp Recipients Using Their Welfare Benefits To Buy Junk Food, Soda…” Charles does explain that the SNAP program ( what everyone calls food stamps) does allow people to buy Cheetos and soft drinks. Congress is partly to blame, but the real culprit is the lobbying and money from the food industry – or processed food industry and banks, Food Stamps, Follow the Money: Are Corporations Profiting from Hungry Americans?

Our research found that at least three powerful industry sectors benefit from SNAP:

1) major food manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Mars; 2) leading food retailers such as Walmart and Kroger; and 3) large banks, such as J.P. Morgan Chase, which contract with states to help administer SNAP benefits.

Each of these sectors has a critical stake in debates over SNAP, as evidenced by lobbying reports, along with important data being kept secret.

Key findings about corporate lobbying on SNAP:

• Powerful food industry lobbying groups
teamed up to oppose health-oriented
improvements to SNAP

• The food industry also joined forces with
anti-hunger groups to lobby against SNAP
improvements

• Companies such as Cargill, PepsiCo, and
Kroger lobbied Congress on SNAP, while
also donating money to America’s top anti-
hunger organizations

• At least nine states have proposed bills
to make health-oriented improvements to
SNAP, but none have passed, in part due to
opposition from the food industry

• Coca-Cola, the Corn Refiners of America,
and Kraft Foods all lobbied against a Florida
bill that aimed to disallow SNAP purchases
for soda and junk food

• In one year, nine Walmart Supercenters in
Massachusetts together received more than
$33 million in SNAP dollars—over four times
the SNAP money spent at farmers markets
nationwide

• In two years, Walmart received about
half of the one billion dollars in SNAP
expenditures in Oklahoma

• One Walmart Supercenter in Tulsa,
Oklahoma received $15.2 million while
another (also in Tulsa) took in close to $9
million in SNAP spending.

In other words Congress  – Democrats and some Republican cross over votes, would easily pass a bill restricting the kinds of foods people collected SNAP benefits could buy, but money talks. The Supreme Court made that clear when they gave corporations person-hood and the Citizens United decision. Charles, Newsbusters and the Weasel guy are not going to blame corporate America, certainly not the Walton family for making huge profits from government programs. These ever so concerned conservatives are not going to admit tacitly or otherwise that America’s largest corporations are corrupt to the core and that conservative Constitutional ideology has made it safe and legal for this material and moral corruption to continue. Nope, let’s blame poor people. The working poor frequently end up relying on some kind of assistance because Wal-Mart, Target and other large retailers do not pay their employees a living wage. And of course Michele Bachmann is wrong about the administrative costs of SNAP. I can’t remember the last time she was right about anything or if she and her husband have stopped collecting govmint subsides. In ConWorld it is fine for wealthy individuals and corporations to collect government paychecks, for government to protect crony corporatism, for corporations to cheat their employees out of billions of dollars, to not offer health insurance or a retirement plan, but it is of the gravest concern that someone buy a can of soda with their food stamps – that is just the deep end of moral depravity. Conservative framing remains the same. Here are some wonky facts and figures about SNAP, it is a very efficient program for getting food to the poor.

Obama’s Gun Reform Package Loses One Major Provision, Another In Danger

“I have said time and time again that I want people to have the ability to vote on assault weapons, mental health, safety in schools, federal trafficking, clips, everything. But I cannot do that until I get a bill on the floor,” Reid said. “My job is to find one of those that I can bring to the floor, or two of them, [that] at least have been through the committee, and that I can get 60 votes to proceed to that. We cannot have votes on everything unless I get something on the floor. It’s a legislative impossibility.”

He argued that he felt for Feinstein, who became a staunch gun-control advocate when she discovered the bodies of gay rights activist Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone after they were gunned down at City Hall in 1978.

“Dianne has worked so hard on this,” Reid said. “[I] understand, going back to the day she found the mayor dead in his office having been killed, how strongly she feels about that. I know that. But right now, her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. That’s not 60. I have to get something on the floor.”

“I’m not going to try to put something on the floor that won’t succeed,” Reid added. “I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there.”

I’ve already seen misguided liberals blame Reid and Obama. They make strange bedfellows with that rag the New York Daily News. Reid either has the votes or he doesn’t. Why go through the time wasting theater of bringing a vote – with a certain Republicans filibuster it anyway – when the votes just aren’t there. I’m not bashing liberals, it just seems that it another one of those occasions where some people are not getting the basics on how legislation works and then lashing out.

Paul Waldman’s eloquent take on the anniversary of the Iraq debacle, Conceived in Delusion, Sold in Deception

On March 19, two weeks from now, it will be ten years since the United States military commenced the invasion of Iraq. Even though some details are fading from memory, one bit that sticks in my mind—those final days before the war and its dramatic countdown, the 48 hours George W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein and his sons to get themselves out of the country. It was a fitting end to the pre-war campaign, some theatricality to lend an extra bit of drama to a conflict conceived in delusion and sold in deception. This anniversary is a good time to remind ourselves of what happened then and how so many of the people who continue to shape our public debate behaved.

The campaign to sell America on an invasion of Iraq was probably the most comprehensive and dishonest propaganda effort our country has seen in the last century. As we discuss it over the next few weeks, those who continue to hold that it was a good idea—akin to saying to this day that the Titanic was unsinkable—will claim that though there was certainly bad intelligence, the Bush administration did not actually lie about Iraq, that their intentions were good and they forthrightly made their case to protect America.

Don’t let them get away with it, not for a second. The truth is that they planned and executed a campaign designed to muddle heads and bring terror to hearts, one so shameless we may never see its like again (if only the plan for war itself had been constructed with such care).

Paul is usually worth the read so click over for the rest. A classic back grounder on the Bush administration’s propaganda leading up to the invasion, Despite the Whitewash, We Now Know that the Bush Administration was Warned Before the War That Its Iraq Claims were Weak.

Top Republicans Confess They’re Using Deficit As a Hammer

The national capital, Washington, D.C. Sketched from nature by Adolph Sachse, 1883-1884.

The national capital, Washington, D.C.” Sketched from nature by Adolph Sachse, 1883-1884. This is a wonderful color map on its own, but the included commercial ads are a great addition. On the left are some ads that include breweries, a brick maker, an auctioneer, real estate agents, lawyers and insurance agencies. On the right are a ‘Swiss” laundry, a millinery, a soap works, a patent agent, and Uroscopia – a medical office. The last is the “diagnostic examination” of urine. Which qualifies as my something new learned everyday.

I think it was back in 2001 that Eric Alterman made the observation that in addition to some conspiracy theories being true, the conspiracies in which conservatives were involved were relatively easy to see and document. Though in some cases you might have to put the pieces together and ignore the thick layer of  faux patriotic wrapping. And so it is that both those things are true about the deficit and why having a deficit serves the radical conservative agenda,  Republicans: We’ve been lying all along

America owes this debt of gratitude to Boehner after he finally came clean on yesterday’s edition of ABC’s “This Week” and admitted that “we do not have an immediate debt crisis.” (His admission was followed up by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who quickly echoed much the same sentiment on CBS’ Face the Nation).

In offering up such a stunningly honest admission, the GOP leader has put himself on record as agreeing with President Obama, who has previously acknowledged that demonstrable reality. But the big news here isn’t just about the politics of a Republican House Speaker tacitly admitting they agree with a Democratic president. It is also about a bigger admission revealing the fact that the GOP’s fiscal alarmism is not merely some natural reaction to reality, but a calculated means to other ideological ends.

Before considering those ends, first remember that Boehner (like Obama) is correct on the facts.

As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, “Even if we do run deficits, federal debt as a share of GDP will be substantially less than it was at the end of World War II” and “it will also be substantially less than, say, debt in several European countries in the mid to late 1990s.” It is also lower than the 80 percent of GDP level that many economists say starts to put countries in a precarious position. Additionally, citing Congressional Budget Office data, the Center for American Progress notes that the long-term debt outlook is only dire because the projections simply assume without question that “future Congresses will enact huge new deficit-increasing tax cuts and spending hikes.”

Thus programs like Social Security, which as David, Krugman and anyone who can do basic arithmetic can tell you, has nothing to do with the deficit. In reality, if you want to see a one horrendous economic crisis, shut down Social Security tomorrow. In 2009 SocSec paid out about $675.5 billion. The recipients didn’t put that money under their mattress, they paid rent, bought groceries and shoes. Imagine taking $676 billion out of the retail economy. And who are among the endless stream of people claiming that the social safety net – what conservatives like to call the nanny state – people like billionaire Pete Peterson. I’m not sure what Peterson’s problem is. He seems to believe that the safety net is like a rabid dog that is ready to bounce on all his cash – leaving him trying to scrape by on half a billion. Remember in the 2004 election cycle when presidential candidate John McCain’s economic advisory Phil Gramm said that the recession was all a “mental’ thing and we were a nation of “whiners”. There was some truth to that. We have some very wealthy people, corporations and banks complaining about how hard they have it. Now if someone making $9 an hour whines, they must have good reason. When the 10% of the nation who own 74% of the nation’s wealth have nothing to do but cry and whine about how tough things are, that is absurd. Yet for the most part, especially on broadcast and cable news, their voices – through pundit proxies – are the voices America hears. I’m not sure how – maybe the collective noise of bloggers, the few good newspapers that are left and maybe even some Main Str. conservatives see the disconnect when Sarah Palin makes millions as a professional demonizer, yet gets up at CPAC and complains about how tough she has it, the message seems to be getting through, Republicans: People see us as ‘scary,’ ‘narrow minded,’ and ‘out of touch’. Though the strange thing about their own research is that they did not bother with finding out what public policy stances they should change in order to get back in sync with at least some normal Americans.

Note to CNN and other right-of-center news outlets; rape victims do not ruin people’s lives, rapists do that to themselves when they make a decision to act like human scum. Candy Crowley Oozes Sympathy for Steubenville Rapists.