Should America Vote for Donald Trump Part 3

Intelligence officials write open letter exposing the dangers of a Trump presidency

Mr. Trump, with all due respect to you as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, you cannot credibly serve as commander in chief if you embrace Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader has repeatedly shown himself to be an adversary of the United States. Putin, during his long tenure, has repeatedly pursued policies that undermine U.S. interests and those of our allies and partners. He has steadily but systematically moved Russia from a fledgling democratic state to an authoritarian one. He is the last foreign leader you should be praising.

50 G.O.P. Officials Warn Donald Trump Would Put Nation’s Security ‘at Risk’

How Trump recreated his Foundation to take other people’s money and make it look like he was the virtuous donor

Trump’s failed Baja condo resort left buyers feeling betrayed and angry

In the end, nothing at all was built at Trump Ocean Resort, and Simms lost her money. As did about 250 other buyers, most of them from Southern California.

All told, two years of aggressive marketing yielded $32.5 million in buyer deposits, every bit of it spent by the time Trump and his partners abandoned the project in early 2009 as the global economy was reeling. Most of the buyers sued them for fraud.

Mike Pence might not be a throw-back mid-century fascist, he just has some beliefs in common with Nazi ideology

Ex-Benghazi investigator-intelligence officer (a Republican) says U.S. panel targeted Clinton. Yet every Conservative Trump supporting web sites has spun a false, frequently outrageous narrative about Benghazi. Throughout history when a political movement tells more lies than truths, manufactures narratives, spins like crazy, they always have a nefarious agenda.

IS THIS TRUMP’S BIGGEST FINANCIAL CON YET?
The Republican standard-bearer’s new economic plan may be his emptiest promise.

How Donald Trump Exploited Charity & Veterans for Personal Gain

 

 

Should America Vote for Trump Part 2

How Breitbart “News”, the white supremacists neo-fascists Trump supporters, conquered the media

To understand how truly bizarre this method of opining is, consider the following: Had polling showed that relatively few Trump supporters believe black people are lazy and criminally-inclined, if only a tiny minority of Trump supporters believed that Muslims should be banned from the country, if birtherism carried no real weight among them, would journalists decline to point this out as they excoriated her? Of course not. But the case against Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” is a triumph of style over substance, of clamorous white grievance over knowable facts.

This is what Andrew Breitbart, and his progeny, ultimately understood. What Shirley Sherrod did or did not do really didn’t matter. White racial grievance enjoys automatic credibility

Where Crazy Conservative Memes Are Invented (from 2002, but continues this election cycle).
The parallel universe of right-wing conspiracy e-mail smears.

Michael Mukasey, who is advising the Romney campaign although the Journal does not disclose that, claims Obama might release Omar Abdel Rahman, mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Mukasey readily admits to having no real evidence for such a preposterous scenario. So where do these lies get invented? Often they come from the conservative underground echo chamber.

If a genuine truth serum were ever invented and conservative “news” sites and politicians took it, they would literally have almost nothing to say. The Radical Right has been built on a platform of lies and conspiracy theories since the Holocaust deniers of the 1950s.

Trump’s campaign says he’s given ‘tens of millions’ to charity, but offers no details and no proof

In addition, The Post’s story found that the Trump Foundation appeared to have defied tax laws. In one case, it made an improper political donation to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi (R), which arrived around the time that Bondi’s office was considering fraud allegations against Trump University

Donald Trump gave an interview that should end his campaign, but his supporters love the lunacy. Trump knows nothing about monetary policy except he knows he wants to raise interests rate.

The Hillary Clinton email story is out of control

…In fact, Ms. Clinton’s emails have endured much more scrutiny than an ordinary person’s would have, and the criminal case against her was so thin that charging her would have been to treat her very differently. Ironically, even as the email issue consumed so much precious airtime, several pieces of news reported Wednesday should have taken some steam out of the story. First is a memo FBI Director James B. Comey sent to his staff explaining that the decision not to recommend charging Ms. Clinton was “not a cliff-hanger” and that people “chest-beating” and second-guessing the FBI do not know what they are talking about. Anyone who claims that Ms. Clinton should be in prison accuses, without evidence, the FBI of corruption or flagrant incompetence.

Some of Trump supporters claim to ordinary working class Americans who believe he will look out for them. That would mean that Trump would have to stop being Trump. He has been giving working class Americans the shaft for years,  What Atlantic City Workers Know About Trump

Moody’s: Trump’s plans would cost 3.5 million jobs

Should Americans Vote for Donald Trump Part 1

The fatal flaw in Trump’s Frankenstein economic plans

The second problem for Trump’s Frankenstein economics is that his seemingly contradictory proposals would be a disaster if they were enacted. Moody’s economic forecasting conducted a nonpartisan analysis of Trump’s proposals and concluded that they would lead to a loss of 3.5 million jobs. And they would cost the U.S. economy trillions of dollars of lost growth.

Former models for Donald Trump’s agency say they violated immigration rules and worked illegally

There is no Clinton email scandal, its all about the media trying to balance Trump’s daily insanities

Trump is $650 mill. in debt and part of his debt is carried by the Bank of China

Donald Trump made millions from Saudi Arabia, but trashes Hillary Clinton for Saudi donations to Clinton Foundation (the Saudis have also made donations to both Bush presidents for their libraries).

Voting Rights for Women Should Be Revoked According to How They Obtain Their Birth Control, Says Author of ‘Handbook for the Trump Revolution’

Who should America believe when it comes to Hillary Clinton’s email, the FBI or some unhinged Hillary haters.

Page 11: On January 23, 2009, Clinton contacted former Secretary of State Colin Powell via e-mail to inquire about his use of a BlackBerry while he was Secretary of State (January 2001 to January 2005). In his e-mail reply, Powell warned Clinton that if it became “public” that Clinton had a BlackBerry, and she used it to “do business,” her e-mails could become “official record[s] and subject to the law.” Powell further advised Clinton, “Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.”

This is important. First, it makes clear that Hillary conversed with Colin Powell two days after becoming Secretary of State, not “a year later,” as Powell has claimed. Second, Powell essentially told her that he had just gone ahead and broken the law by “not using systems that captured the data.” Hillary, by contrast, chose instead to retain everything as the law required.

Labor Day, War Powers and Wages

Season Changes wallpaper

Season Changes wallpaper

We all know the rules. Since president Obama was elected for his first term, conservatives in typical knee-jerk reaction hate everything he likes, are against everything he is for. For almost eight years they loved war, they claimed freedom wasn’t free and if they had to lie your son, daughter, spouse to their deaths in some Middle-east sand pile, well it was for the good of the Republican Party and anyone who did not support their less than sane agenda was a terrorist loving hippie. NO, OBAMA ISN’T GOING TO WIN THE HOUSE VOTE

Free Republic directs me to this post by a popular right-wing blogger known as Soopermexican (the post is also at his blog):

Viral Facebook Post: ‘I Didn’t Join The Navy To Fight For Al Qaeda In Syria!’

… this post, reportedly from a U.S. Naval Chief Petty Officer, on Facebook for a conservative talk show has more than 5,000 ‘shares’ even though it’s only been online for four hours.

Us hippies warned everyone that invading Iraq would make Iran’s influence in the region stronger, and we were right. That did not stop  – let’s assume there is a real senior Chief involved – from supporting a war based on lies about WMD. Now he doesn’t support a limited military strike against a sociopath that actually used WMD. So he and this FaceBook posse of Koservative Keyboard Pacifists are on the side of the ACLU, ACLU Urges the President to Obtain Official Congressional Authorization Before Taking Military Action in Syria. I saw a poll from a couple of days ago that showed a majority of Americans do support a limited military strike, like using a cruise missile or perhaps a drone strike on Assad’s military. That is what the president is talking about, not boots on the ground. That is not an unreasonable response to the actions of Assad. If there is no consequence, he may be emboldened to take even more criminal actions. Though I agree with the ACLU, it would be best if we started a tradition of adhering to the Constitution before we started military actions against foreign powers. If Congress wants – with a conservative majority in the House big enough to stop any kind of military action – to give Assad a pass, well, that the way we’ll go. Though a few weeks or months from now when Bashar al-Assad ( Syria’s president, with help from Iran and Russia) launch another chemical attack, we should not hear any arm-chair quarterbacking from conservatives. But you know we will because conservatism is just another name for weasel-brats.

Fox’s Payne Distorts Argument Against Minimum Wage Increase

Neil Cavuto hosted Fox Business contributor Charles Payne on the August 28 edition of Fox News’ Your World with Neil Cavuto to discuss protests planned by fast-food workers, who are demanding higher pay and the right to unionize. Payne claimed during the segment that employers don’t owe a debt to their employees and mischaracterized the minimum wage increase as a sliding scale of pay:

PAYNE: Listen, I don’t begrudge anyone for trying to earn extra money, but what they’re essentially saying is that their salary should be doubled from where they are. It doesn’t match the skill set. Now, if we start to talk about this — and listen, it’s something that’s been echoed all day long with theme of the March on Washington — that somehow corporations owe a debt to people who work for them. So if Susan has two kids, she gets X amount of income, then she has another child, then the corporation should pay more money specifically because they owe her a debt and she had another kid — sort of the responsibility or the welfare state that’s been such a burden on America is now being thrusted, or attempted to be thrusted on the shoulders of corporate America.

This is the real world, not the LSD fueled fantasies of Fox News, Neil Cavuto and Charles Payne. McDonald’s paid CEO Don Thompson a compensation package worth $13.8 million this year. Everything over say $100k is money Thompson stole from the profits produced by the labor of front line employees. In no way, at no time will Thompson ever do anything, or have any ideas worth more than $75k a year. Thompson like the rest of the corporate plutocracy has made employees into serfs and made themselves into feudal lords. Their compensation has become completely unconnected to any value and work they bring to a company. They have the power to redistribute incredible sums of money from the working class to themselves. So they do. Until some of that power is take back by workers the welfare for the arrogant greedy plutocrats will continue.

From Civil War Balloons To The Patriot Act and Massive Data Mining

Professor Lowe in his balloon

Stereograph showing Professor Thaddeus S. Lowe observing the battle from his balloon “Intrepid” while soldiers in camp hold the balloon’s ropes in Fair Oaks, Virginia. Published: Hartford, Conn. : The War Photograph & Exhibition Co., No. 21 Linden Place, 1862 May 31. To me this photograph is both funny and a fascinating bit of history. Since I climbed trees as a kid I can appreciate the professor’s line of sight, he is at about tree top level. Why not pick a especially tall tree and get a young recruit to climb up. On the serious side he was establishing the importance of air power and technology, the ability to track adversary movement and intelligence gathering.

In case anyone missed it, some of the basics of the NSA’s surveillance program, What You Need To Know About The Government’s Massive Online Spying Program

PRISM appears to closely resemble the warrantless surveillance orders issues by President Bush after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks rather than a dragnet data collection operation, but the NSA has the capability to search through the company’s servers for whatever it likes. To collect data, analysts in Fort Meade key in search terms designed to produce an “at least 51 percent confidence in a target’s ‘foreignness.’”

FaceBook and Google are both denying that they simply hand over any and all data or provide direct access to their servers at the mere request of government officials.

back when Bush was found to have enacted his very own massive surveillance program without telling Congress or going to the FISA Court for warrants, conservatives thought that was great. In their view any violation of the law was justified in the supposed cause of national security. One example from a far Right conservative site that is alleged to represent the height of conservative intellectual thought and constitutional expertise, called American Thinker, NSA surveillance and the contrapositive By Greg Richards

We can apply this to the NSA anti—terrorist wiretaps.  President Bush’s political opponents and some civil libertarians are upset that he approved wiretaps without a court order.  AT and other blogs have already demonstrated that doing so is (a) well within the letter of the law and (b) is in accord with practices of previous presidents.  But for those still not convinced, let’s try the contrapositive:

President Bush receives information from the NSA or the CIA or the FBI or some other source that a conversation is very likely to be carried on between a suspected terrorist and a foreign source.  Suppose the President does not approve this wiretap, or, what amounts to the same thing, suppose he applies to a FISA judge for a court order and the order is refused.  What does President Bush do then?

AT and Richards would gladly give Bush dictatorial powers, even though presidents take an oath to uphold the Constitution. Laws passed by Congress supersede presidential directives. That is case law. Period. See President Truman versus U.S. Steel as a prime example. Even in a war time emergency preferential power is not unlimited. At the time Bush violated the law, and was thus guilty of high crimes that merited impeachment, the patriot Act did have a spy first get a warrant later provision. The NSA or FBI could perfumer any surveillance they liked for 72 hours and then get a warrant. Conservatives back during the Bush years were very prone to using thriller spy novel scenarios to justify any trampling of the law by the executive branch. Something the Constitution was written to guard against. In our over two hundred years of assistance there have been very few years we were not engaged in some kind of combat somewhere. Which brings us to a history lesson from Michelle Malkin. Which is like taking lessons in how to make your marriage work from Rush Limbaugh, History lesson: The crucial differences between Bush and Obama’s NSA phone surveillance programs

It is certainly schadenfreudelicious to see Al Gore and assorted Democratic tools going bonkers over news of President Obama’s radically expanded phone call data collection program — which he, ahem, inherited from the Bush administration and has apparently now widened far beyond anything Bush ever enacted or proposed.

But unlike Gore and company, I am not going to engage in a full, NSA-bashing freakout. Some of us have not regressed completely to a 9/10 mentality.

I will instead provide you with a sober reflection on why I supported the Bush NSA’s work and why Obama’s NSA program raises far more troubling questions about domestic spying than his predecessor.

As longtime readers know, I supported the NSA’s post-9/11 efforts to collect and connect the jihad dots during the Bush years. When left-wing civil liberties absolutists were ready to hang Bush intel officials, I exposed the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t hypocrisy of Bush-bashers who condemned the administration for not doing enough to prevent the 9/11 jihadi attacks and then condemned it for doing too much. Bush defended himself ably at a press conference in December 2005 — refresh your memories here.

Malkin still cannot write, make an argument without using a straw man liberal. Malkin is also a great case against using the falsehoods she used before to justify her new argument. Bush’s program was ruled illegal because, as mentioned before, he thought being president was the same thing as being absolute ruler. Or as John Yoo argued, still a respected constitutional legal scholar on the far Right; if the president does it, it is legal. Liberals never argued – one or two obscure liberal bloggers don’t count – that Bush could not take full advantage of FISA, they generally argued that he could not break laws passed by Congress or violate the Constitution. The difference between the Bush program and the Obama program is that president Obama is not violating the law as far as we know, today. That is the history lesson. If anyone dislikes what President Obama is doing, and doing within laws passed by Congress that’s fine. By all means don’t like what you see as over reach on national security – and do something about it with my full support. Though do not forget that Congress – with almost all conservatives and quite a few Democrats passed the laws that allowed this president or any president to conduct this type of surveillance. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) makes a good poster boy for the faux outrage and shameless hypocrisy of pundits like Malkin and AT. here’s a history lesson, Author Of Patriot Act Now Seeks To Limit Government Surveillance

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), who helped draft the PATRIOT Act, is exploring options to narrow a provision of the law that allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to obtain telephonic metadata on nearly all Americans.

[  ]…Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the government to order businesses to turn over “the production of any tangible things” if it can prove that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the tangible things sought are “relevant to an authorized investigation .. to obtain foreign intelligence information… or to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.” The government has been obtaining metadata records from telephone companies for years and has used three-month secret warrants fromt the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) court since 2006. ( Malkin conveniently leaves out that what she is so outraged about and so vvvery different from a program started under Bush)

So the brilliant mastermind Jim Seensenbreener is now saying that the law he helped draft is so  vaguely worded that someone like the president might not keep within limits that Jimbo meant to include but forgot.

Then we have Congressional reps who are saying, yea well, he might be obeying the law, but President Obama has not kept us fully informed as to the details of the program. let’s say that Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) – a pretty decent guy – is not completely bullsh*ting everyone. And even if he is might have part of a point. Why hasn’t Congress kept it’s foot in the door and demanded regular reports on the details of PRISM or any other activities authorized by the FISA Court. This is the Congress we’re talking about,  Mad about NSA’s overreach? Blame Congress. There’s plenty of fault to go around, from Bush to Obama to NSA itself. But the legislative branch truly failed us

Did you notice the word I used in each of the other cases? The key word: law. As far as we know, everything that happened here was fully within the law. So if something was allowed that shouldn’t have been allowed, the problem is, in the first place, the laws. And that means Congress.

As the Washington Post reports, two laws in particular. The Protect America Act of 2007 passed the Senate 60-28; Democrats split with 17 voting in favor and 28 against, while Republicans were unanimous in support. In the House, Democrats opposed it by a wide 41-181 margin, while Republicans vote for it 186-2. However, Democrats can’t simply pass the blame; they had majorities in both chambers and could have brought different measures to the floor. And then the next year the FISA Amendments bill had a similar partisan breakdown, although with a bit more Democratic support. The latter was then extended last year. This time, a majority of Senate Democrats voted for it, with only 20 dissenting, and they were joined by three Republicans; in the House, most Democrats still opposed it, while all but seven Republicans voted yes.

Of course, if Democrats had really wanted to change the law, they could have done so during the 111thCongress early in Barack Obama’s presidency, but they did not.

The point isn’t so much which party in Congress is responsible; it’s that both parties have more than enough responsibility to go around. Republicans simply flat-out favored pretty much a blank check, with only a handful of exceptions; Democrats were legitimately split, but overall failed to draft good laws. Give those Democrats who did oppose surveillance, along with the tiny GOP civil liberties caucus, the credit they deserve – but overall, this policy happened because Congress wanted it to happen.

One of the worse kinds of framing that the media does, and too many Democratic voters go along with is the if four conservatives do it and two Democrats, both sides do it and both sides are just as bad. Numbers matter. Not thinking everything the president does is legal just because he is president matters. Not everyone is guilty – the champions of civil liberties are still most left of center, the party that at least stays within the law is Democratic, not conservative. If Congress changes the law and severely curtails surveillance by any government agency, this president will at least abide the law. Though let’s step back and take a breath. Clearly conservatives are being dishonest and disingenuous – they should shrub their archives from the Bush years if they do not want to end up looking ridiculous – oh, its too late. There will be lots of noise, more congressional hearings, and nothing to very lintel will change because America decided 12 years ago to trade liberty for some imagined security. These screen captures below are from a satire Twitter account, but the tweets are real,

Nothing to Hide'

Nothing to Hide1

Nothing to Hide

Nothing to Hide 2

Those people are ridiculous. They should be taking a serious interests, beyond seat-of-the-pants notions about privacy, before they tell the world how naive they are. Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’.

On the surface, it seems easy to dismiss the nothing-to-hide argument. Everybody probably has something to hide from somebody. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn declared, “Everyone is guilty of something or has something to conceal. All one has to do is look hard enough to find what it is.” Likewise, in Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s novella “Traps,” which involves a seemingly innocent man put on trial by a group of retired lawyers in a mock-trial game, the man inquires what his crime shall be. “An altogether minor matter,” replies the prosecutor. “A crime can always be found.”

One can usually think of something that even the most open person would want to hide. As a commenter to my blog post noted, “If you have nothing to hide, then that quite literally means you are willing to let me photograph you naked? And I get full rights to that photograph—so I can show it to your neighbors?” The Canadian privacy expert David Flaherty expresses a similar idea when he argues: “There is no sentient human being in the Western world who has little or no regard for his or her personal privacy; those who would attempt such claims cannot withstand even a few minutes’ questioning about intimate aspects of their lives without capitulating to the intrusiveness of certain subject matters.

Maybe, fingers crossed, everyone will thoughtfully consider changing the Patriot Act ( the most ironic name for legislation since Bush’s Clear Skies Initiative) and reign in the worse excesses. Obama is right when he says we have to have some compromise between privacy and security, but some of us think that compromise may have drifted too far into compromising our civil rights and spending too much on massive, and mostly worthless data mining.

The Bush’s, Conservatism and Historical Revisionism

U.S.M. steam ship Baltic.

U.S.M. steam ship Baltic. The Baltic was a U.S. mail ship. This print was done c1852 by N. Currier.

George W. Bush’s brother Jeb, former governor of Florida has some good poll numbers. Not long ago the Bush name was synonymous with epic failure. We’re a sentimental country that is also hammered everyday about how great and perfect conservatism is. So it was to be expected to some degree that Bush 43 numbers would go up. Those inexorably connected with Jeb’s suddenly looking like a contender for prez in 2016. Yes Jeb has said in the past there is no way he’ll run, but when someone with a Bush-sized ego thinks he can win and his millionaire friends are ready to back him, the infamous Bush ego wins out over any reticence. At that same link, Steve notes the reaction of the WaPo,

 But on fiscal issues, Bush draws criticism from both left and right. Tea party Republicans regard him as a reckless spender.

Even though the same poll shows ex-president Bush with a 93% approval rating among conservatives. The WaPo seems to think there is some movement out there called the Tea Party that is not joined at the hip and knee with the radical conservative movement. This tendency by the WaPo not to get it’s political reality straight and the conservative movement not to acknowledge and take responsibility for it’s disastrous failures is both funny and dangerous. This reinvention of the Bush 43 legacy is not a new tendency among conservatives. From Sarah Palin’s mangling of Paul Revere’s famous ride to Jonah Goldberg’s grandiose rewriting of the fascist movement, communism, conservatism and liberalism, butchering history is a large part of what drives conservatism. Conservatives suffer from the blow-back of their own drivel. By tuning into far Right radio, watching Fox News, subscribing to wacky Glenn beck newsletters – they constantly assure themselves they have done nothing wrong, while simultaneously selling the latest conspiracy theory about the United nation and American sovereignty. So telling themselves that Bush 43 did not lie and manipulate over 4000 Americans to their deaths and crashing the economy, is small potatoes for people who are emotionally, politically and physiologically trained to not accept responsibility for the malevolent crap they do to America. Meet the revisionist George W. Bush — pretty much the same as the old George W. Bush

“As time goes by Bush will benefit from the comparison with Obama,” Victor Davis Hanson of Stanford’s Hoover Institution predicted. “If Obama had been a Bill Clinton-like figure he would have made Bush look like the caricature his opponents have suggested. But Obama has been a great gift for Bush – he’s as polarizing a figure as Bush was.”

Hanson is the Nurse Ratchet of historians. The dreary soft monotone of quiet insanity.

Third, the performance of Bush’s economic team in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis probably deserves more credit than it gets. Despite being a wildly unpopular lame-duck president, Bush still was able to implement a series of international moves (convening the G-20 rather than the G-8) and domestic moves (TARP, the auto bailout) that prevented the crisis from metastasizing into another Great Depression.

All that said, however, there are some cold hard facts that cannot be erased. George W. Bush helmed a war of choice that proved, in the end, to impose powerful constraints (though perhaps not system-changing) for American foreign policy. He pursued his foreign policy aims in such a way as to dramatically lower U.S. standing abroad. He was at the helm when all of the pressures that triggered the 2008 financial crisis were building up and did next to nothing to stop them. And five years later, the GOP is still wrestling with the negative aspects of his political legacy.

I’ve already mentioned two of the worse legacies of Bush and the conservative movement ( you grandchildren will be paying for Iraq and the Great Recession. A few other highlights: Halliburton corruption (no bid contracts, lost billions in government funds), the  Abu Ghraib Prison Torture that cost American lives, 9/11 Intelligence Failures ( Bush infamous failure to act on a Presidential Daily Brief that said Bin Laden likely to attack),  HHS Deceptive Ad Campaign, exposing the name of a CIA NOC agent who was also an expert on Iraq WMD, the Justice Department scandals, and the Bush administration again endangering the troops and the civilian Iraqis they said they were there to save by appointing Republican cronies to rebuild Iraq. Can the conservative movement whitewash these, and dozens of other egregious acts of criminal malevolence and negligence. As Palin would say, you betcha. It is what they do.

Some other news: 20 Forgotten George W. Bush – Dick Cheney Scandals

You probably know that the campaign to rehabilitate the image of the 43d president of the United States has been launched with the opening of his presidential library.

How Conservative Media Reacted To Senate Republicans Blocking Modest New Gun Safety Laws

How Greed Is Dismembering America

The plastic patriot Konservative Koch Brothers’ Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat, the best govmint billionaires can buy.

High Speed Train II wallpaper – Conservatives and Dishonest Budget Negotiations

High Speed Train II wallpaper

High Speed Train II wallpaper

It was difficult to decide who to star with, the reasons for putting CPI and cuts to the safety net as a bargaining chip on the table again or Paul Krugman’s criticism. A coin toss decided to go with the administration’s reasoning first,  Obama Budget: Administration Explains Why It Started With A ‘Compromise Proposal’

President Barack Obama’s budget, which will be introduced on Wednesday, takes a political position that some of his base is bound to bemoan. Rather than present an outline of progressive priorities, the White House has chosen to stake claim to the middle ground, offering up a mix of modest tax hikes to go along with spending cuts and entitlement reforms that Democrats have long warned against.

The specifics are as follows:

The budget would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over ten years — $600 billion of this reduction would come from revenue raisers, and $1.2 trillion would come from spending reductions and entitlement reforms;
It would change the benefit structure of Social Security (chained-CPI);
It would means test additional programs in Medicare;
All told, it would include $400 billion in health care savings (or cuts);
It would cut $200 billion from other areas, identified by The New York Times as “farm subsidies, federal employee retirement programs, the Postal Services and the unemployment compensation system;”
It would pay for expanded access to pre-K (an Obama priority) by increasing the tobacco tax;
It would set limits on tax-preferred retirement accounts for the wealthy, prohibiting individuals from putting more than $3 million in IRAs and other tax-preferred retirement accounts;
And it would stop people from collecting full disability benefits and unemployment benefits that cover the same period of time.

Looked at piece-by-piece, nothing in the above is all that surprising. President Obama has proposed these policies in various offers in the past. Most recently, they’ve been discussed as part of replacement options for the sequester.

Adults know that in the real world you do not always get everything you ask for and in the art of negotiation starting out with some tolerable compromises is usually not an unreasonable starting point for negotiations. Though for the last five years conservatives have made it clear that any proposal about anything must start far Right of center and move further Right during the negotiation process. Knowing this the administration has once again – probably – made the mistake of starting off giving away too much. A spokesperson from the White House says,

While this is not the president’s ideal deficit-reduction plan, and there are particular proposals in this plan — like the CPI change — that were key Republican requests and not the president’s preferred approach. This is a compromise proposal built on common ground, and the president felt it was important to make it clear that the offer still stands. The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth. That means that the things like CPI that Republican leaders have pushed hard for will only be accepted if congressional Republicans are willing to do more on revenues. This isn’t about political horsetrading; it’s about reducing the deficit in a balanced way that economists say is best for the economy and job creation. That’s why the president’s offer –- which will be reflected in his budget — isn’t a menu of options for them to choose from; it’s a cohesive package that reflects the kind of compromise we should be able to reach.

I’m aware and prominent liberal political commentators should be as well, that conservatives in the senate will us the filibuster to stop any budget that does not meet their every whim. Democrats are in the minority in the House. Just in political terms there is the awful business of facing that reality and still passing a  new budget – one that restores some of the spending from the sequester. And Krugman, Desperately Seeking “Serious” Approval

So what’s this about? The answer, I fear, is that Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he’s willing to do what they consider Serious — which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he’s reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy.

But it won’t happen. Watch the Washington Post editorial page over the next few days. I hereby predict that it will damn Obama with faint praise, saying that while it’s a small step in the right direction, of course it’s inadequate — and anyway, Obama is to blame for Republican intransigence, because he could make them accept a Grand Bargain that includes major revenue increases if only he would show Leadership (TM).

Oh, and wanna bet that Republicans soon start running ads saying that Obama wants to cut your Social Security?

The part that should drive everyone crazy – anyone who cares about seniors, the disabled and children anyway – is the implication that the deficit or the national debt is somehow connected to Social Security. No the administration does not say that, but by always including it as part of budget negotiations it is something many Americans believe. As Krugman and others note, we should be increasing benefits. Those benefits are not giveaways to lazy moochers. Because pensions and personal savings plans (IRAs) are not the great panacea that everyone thought they would be back in the early 90s, people need more to pay for basic living expenses. Society doesn’t loose anything. That money is not given to someone and it disappears into the Great Lazy Moocher Void. People pay rent and buy stuff with it. It goes back into the economy. Unlike Mitt Romney’s money and quite a few bankers, that money does not get hidden away in offshore tax havens – Offshore tax havens ($32 trillion hidden) rocked by bank account leaks $32 trillion (€25 trillion).

Dear Dr. Ben Carson, current darling of cultural conservatives, this is one of your comrades, Judge Who Sent Racist, Anti-Obama Email Will Retire From Bench

Last year, former Chief Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal district court in Montana, admitted to sending a racist email forward comparing President Obama’s conception to sex with a dog:

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”

In the wake of this email, and the serious questions it raised about whether Judge Cebull is capable of handling politically charged cases or cases alleging racism with professionalism and neutrality, a judicial council overseeing Cebull opened a formal misconduct hearing into his actions at Cebull’s request. Late last year, Cebull announced that he would take senior status, a type of partial retirement for judges. Late last week, he upgraded this to a full retirement from the bench — effective May 3rd.

 

Western Night Sky and Stars wallpaper – Will Republicans Get Some Sequester Sanity

Western Night Sky and Stars wallpaper

Western Night Sky and Stars wallpaper

Will A Government Shutdown Threat Determine The Winner Of The Sequestration Fight?

But one option, which has piqued White House interest, according to two Democratic sources, would extend funding for federal agencies at current levels, and yet preserve sequestration, such that the cuts taking effect at the end of the week carry forward, possibly through the spring and summer.

That would insulate Republicans from allowing their intransigence over replacing sequestration to escalate into responsibility for a government shutdown, and thus represent a partial victory. Congressional Democrats and the White House would have to content themselves with the hope that public and interest group opposition to sequestration would build over time, and Republicans would ultimately agree to supplant it with legislation that includes higher taxes later in the year.

While they are not completely separated, it is true that Congress could pass a spending bill that would keep the government operating at pretty much current levels as a side deal – pushing the sequester down the road. Brian Beutler seems to think that Democrats could claim a partial victory with that kind of deal. probably true and ordinarily I would say that conservatives could put enough spin on such a deal to claim that fought as hard as they could, yada yada and we’ll fight for more cuts – to programs we don’t like – not fair all around cuts, another day. Though with that little stunt the other day where House conservatives cheered Boehner (R-OH) says two things. Republicans in general do not care if the cuts go into effect. Check the comment sections at places like Hot Air, Free Republic and others. These people actually believe the cuts can be made and will be painless. It also says that conservatives in the House, and most of the Senate have lost some faith in the conservative spin machine. This is just a sound bite that Corker could claim he never said tomorrow, but if he and half a dozen conservative Senators, plus some Republicans House members who have districts that rely on gov’mint jobs, feel the same way, that compromise interim spending bill might happen,

“It’s fine with me,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told reporters in response to a question from TPM on Tuesday. “I’d like to give [Obama] the flexibility — I don’t think he wants it — to manage through this a little bit better, but from my perspective it’s fine that we go through September.”

September isn’t arbitrary. It’s the end of the fiscal year. At that point, sequestration morphs from indiscriminate spending cuts into reduced overall government spending, with precise allocations for various programs and agencies falling to Congressional appropriators. The intentionally cumbersome sequestration turn into a more generalized kind of austerity.

Corker is certainly a paid kool-aid drinking member of the conservative clown posse. If he is willing to be sane for a few months, who knows, the sequester debacle might be avoided.

This is what I mean by lack of confidence in their ability to spin the sequester to conservative advantage. Sure the base eats this stuff up, but this too lame to make any converts. They’re going with the President Obama is being mean to us theme of counter-attack. If that mean president is going to hurt our feelings we’re not going to compromise,

The Hill, Republicans warn Obama has ‘poisoned’ relations with campaign-style attacks,

President Obama’s public shaming of congressional Republicans to act on a range of issues may be winning at the polls — but it risks alienating the people needed to reach bipartisan compromise.

… The public opinion push seems to be working politically — Obama leads congressional Republicans in approval ratings by a wide margin. He has kept those issues in the spotlight and polls show the public currently blames the GOP for the looming sequester and sides with Obama on gun control and immigration.

But to get anything accomplished Obama will need to convince the few remaining centrist Republicans to vote with him — and a public lobbying campaign could infuriate the many members not facing tough elections..

Oh dear! Obama risks “infuriating” Republicans!!!!!!!

Uppity Obama sure does risk “infuriating” Republicans a lot:

March 19, 2008, Outside the Beltway, Obama’s Speech: Poisoning the Well

Sept 10, 2009, National Review, Obama Poisoning the Well

April 13, 2011, Paul Ryan rips Obama’s speech: “Rather than building bridges, he’s poisoning wells”

June 15, 2011, Debt commission co-chair: Obama is ‘poisoning the well’

June 29, 2011, Happy Hour: Poisoning the Bipartisan Well

April 2, 2012, National Review, Poisoning the Well

Jun 18, 2012, National Review, Poisoning the Well

October 16, 2012, Rubio: Obama ‘poisoned the well’ for reform on ‘humanitarian’ immigration crisis

Just For Fun – More Poisoning

April 1, 2009, Limbaugh: Obama May Give Gordon Brown “Anal Poisoning”

September 18, 2012, Has Obama been little by little poisoning this county with his lies?

September 19, 2012, Rush Limbaugh: Obama Gets ‘Fawning Anal Poisoning’ From Letterman

Do you get the feeling that The Hill, Outside the Beltway, the National Review and Limbaugh, all got the same text message with the same sound bite to repeat until your ears bleed. Whatever the topic is, rainbows, ponies or baseball, for reasons I don’t want to know about, Limbaugh will include reference to the human anus.

While Corker might represent a glimmer of reasonableness, not so much with Mad Mitch,

Congressional leaders went to the White House on Friday in a last-ditch effort to avert the automatic “sequester” budget cuts that will soon go into effect. After the meeting, Republican leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) emerged to reemphasize that the GOP will not consider any new revenues in a deal to avert the sequester.

Boehner said, “the discussion about revenue, in my view, is over.” And McConnell added, “I want to make clear that any solutions will be done through the regular order, with input from both sides of the aisle in public debate…I will not be part of any back-room deal and I will absolutely not agree to increase taxes.”

As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted, this position is absurd, and akin to Democrats demanding that 100 percent of future deficit reduction be achieved through tax hikes. As this chart shows, nearly three-quarters of deficit reduction that has been achieved since 2011 has been through spending cuts

President Obama and Democrats have made historic cuts in spending.

An interim spending bill would not have to include revenue increases. Though McConnell is taking the predictable conservative line, America’s wealthiest plutocrats must be protected even if it means a lot of working class Americans are furloughed or the economy starts to ease back into a recession.

Here is some of the kinds of really cool things that cause conservatives to cheer a government shut down, The 32 Dumbest And Most Devastating Sequester Cuts

$20 million cut from the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Programs
$10 million cut from the World Trade Center Health Program Fund
$168 million cut from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
$75 million cut from the Aging and Disability Services Programs

$928 million cut from FEMA’s disaster relief money
$6 million cut from Emergency Food and Shelter
$70 million cut from the Agricultural Disaster Relief Fund at USDA
$61 million cut from the Hazardous Substance Superfund at EPA
$125 million cut from the Wildland Fire Management
$53 million cut from Salaries and Expenses at the Food Safety and Inspection Service

$512 million cut from Customs and Border Protection
$17 million cut from Automation Modernization, Customs and Border Protection
$20 million cut from Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology

$79 million cut from Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance ( did someone say Benghazi redux)

Woodward, The Sequester and Conservative Thugs

Teton Range Spring wallpaper

Teton Range Spring wallpaper

 

For those who have been watching episodes of House of Cards you know that what started Francis Underwood’s ( Kevin Spacy) vendetta against the president was being passed over for Secretary of State. One of the first things he did was smear the Secretary designate with an old editorial. One the designate did not even write. He had some help from a reporter with a fictional Washington newspaper. It was fictional, and maybe a little simplistic, but a good illustration of how a chorus of sound bites can drive a story. The smear itself was e relatively insignificant. Much like the full time nonstop conservative smear machine. So it goes with Bob Woodward. Bob takes something, a tiny morsel of a sound bite. Then with the help of all the conservative blogs, far Right radio and Fox News make that sound bite sound like the Chicago mob-dictator-monsters at the White House have decided to wage a war on the freedom of the press ( ironic considering conservatives consider all news just a matter of opinion via the conservative media doctrine of Rupert Murdoch). Most of the time when these fake scandals occur regarding a Democrat, wait a minute, and the other shoe, the one that contains the truth, will drop. Bob Woodward, with the shrill echo of every drooling conservative, said that White House aide Gene Sperling threatened him with this frightening re-frame in an e-mail, “I think you will regret staking out that claim. ” It sounds make for a good soundbite to use. The very kind the Francis Underwoods of the Washington Beltway and the conservative media love. Though unlike the teevee, some of us do not and will not let soundbites be used unanswered by the Underwoods. Politico got a hold of Woodward’s e-mail exchange and in the context of the exchange that soundbite, that juicy gotcha goes down the toilet with the rest of conservative bile and lunacy, Bob Woodward Has Now Picked the Most and Least Important Fights With a POTUS

At this point, you’re asking, “Why is Conor telling us about this banal give-and-take between a reporter and a nameless aide?” Well, dear reader, on the basis of that email, Woodward is now running around claiming that he was being threatened by the White House. “I mean, it makes me very uncomfortable to have the White House telling reporters, you’re going to regret doing something that you believe in,” he told CNN. Elsewhere he added, “Suppose there’s a young reporter who’s only had a couple of years’ — or 10 years’ — experience and the White House is sending him an email saying, ‘You’re going to regret this. You know, tremble, tremble.”

[ ]…UPDATE: Politico says it has the allegedly threatening email, and it makes Woodward’s account of events look even more dubious.

White House aide Gene Sperling:

I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start.

The rest at Politico, with what it says was Woodward’s response:

Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved.

Your move, Bob Woodward. Hint: Follow the drones. ( all emphasis mine)

So this is Woodward’s response to what he said on CNN was a serious threat against him as an upstanding member of the constitutionally protested press. We have seen confrontations between the press and people in the public eye – politicians, judges, celebrities and private citizens. The press gets a fair share of shouting matches, epitaphs, hurt feelings. It goes with the territory. Politicians get into heated exchanges with each other. Dick Cheney dropping the F-bomb with go down in infamy. Now we have Woodward, a Washington insider. Someone who has has been granted special access to presidents ever since those heady Watergate days. He has a new book to sell. He is churning up the waters as much as possible, not because his feelings were hurt, but because he is the MAN. He gets what he wants and whoever is in the White House is supposed to hand it all over with proper deference to someone who sees himself as the legendary Superman of journalism. I’m not saying Woodward and everything he has ever written is evil. I wish it were that simple. It is aggravating that he is capable of doing good work, yet, with age and living so many years in the Beltway bubble he has made the cliched mistake of beginning to see himself as the infallible legend. At that same Atlantic link Conor also gets into Woodwards very specific military tactics-foreign policy advice. Now we all know that if Woodward were being so bombastically arrogant against one specific aircraft carrier that Bob thought should be some place that Bush did not, the nutbars of the conservative media would be yelling for his head o a plate. I did find a conservative columnist at the yellow rag Daily Caller who writes, Bob Woodward trolled us (and we got played)

Make no mistake. This was no accident. As Politico reported last night,

“Woodward repeated the last sentence, making clear he saw it as a veiled threat. “ ‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”

But today, things look different. P0litico has posted the exclusive email from Gene Sperling to Woodward. It begins, “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today.”

(Frightening, I know!)

Sperling’s email eventually does say, “I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.” But this is clearly not a veiled threat of retaliation, but rather a warning that the reporter was about to get the story wrong.

When Woodward tells of being warned he would “regret” challenging Obama, it sounds ominous. But if Politico’s reporting today is correct, it seems much more innocuous than that.

As that new e-mail ripples through the internets and sinks into the brain cavities of conservative bloggers like Breitbart and Drudge, the tide will likely turn to Woodward used us, we got played by the liberal media. So another day in which conservative ethics, or lack of, hangs them by their own petard. More here, Woodward’s Dubious Intimidation Claim Trumpeted By Right-Wing Echo Chamber. And this piece gets more into the lie that matters, the on going efforts by the far Right to blame President Obama for the sequester they voted for, Sequester Blame Game, Conservatives Ignore Obama’s Long-Standing Offer To Avert Sequestration With Revenue And Cuts

Fox News hosts cited a widely criticized Bob Woodward column to falsely claim President Obama’s proposal to avert looming government spending cuts — known as sequestration — “moved the goalposts” because it offsets some of the cuts with new revenue. In fact, the administration’s proposal to avert the sequestration has always included a balanced deficit reduction plan that included additional revenues.

…White House: “President Will Demand That The Committee Pursue A Balanced Deficit Reduction Package … With Revenue-Raising Tax Reform.” A 2011 fact sheet produced by the White House after an agreement to reduce deficits was first reached in mid-2011 described how the sequestration was intended as an “enforcement mechanism” to ensure deficit reduction of $1.2 trillion in the event that Congress failed to agree on a plan to reduce the deficit by at least an equivalent amount. The fact sheet makes clear that the president was committed to reducing the deficit in part by generating additional revenue. From the fact sheet’s section on the debt deal’s mechanics:
Enforcement mechanism established to force all parties – Republican and Democrat – to agree to balanced deficit reduction. If Committee fails, enforcement mechanism will trigger spending reductions beginning in 2013 – split 50/50 between domestic and defense spending. Enforcement protects Social Security, Medicare beneficiaries, and low-income programs from any cuts.

[…]

The Deal Sets the Stage for Balanced Deficit Reduction, Consistent with the President’s Values: The deal is designed to achieve balanced deficit reduction, consistent with the values the President articulated in his April Fiscal Framework. The discretionary savings are spread between both domestic and defense spending. And the President will demand that the Committee pursue a balanced deficit reduction package, where any entitlement reforms are coupled with revenue-raising tax reform that asks for the most fortunate Americans to sacrifice. [WhiteHouse.gov, via Business Insider, 7/31/11]

As others have already noted, note the key words – deficit reduction, balanced deficit reduction. There is no passage that says the sequester will consist entirely of spending cuts that will be decided by conservatives.

E.J. Dionne makes a good point. Let the voting began on the sequester. If conservatives have the votes they’ll get what they want. If not maybe Democrats can put together enough votes. But let the voting start. This is especially pointed at the Senate and Mad Turtle Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who has never been fond of democracy, Ending the permanent crisis

In the Senate, ditch the unconstitutional abuse of the filibuster and let a plan pass by simple-majority vote. Misuse of the filibuster is a central cause of Washington’s contorted policymaking. Let’s end the permanent budget crisis by governing ourselves though the majorities that every sane democracy uses.

The air of establishment Washington is filled with talk that Obama must “lead.” But Obama cannot force the House Republican majority to act if it doesn’t want to. He is (fortunately) not a dictator.

What Obama can do is expose the cause of this madness, which is the dysfunction of the Republican Party.

Journalists don’t like saying this because it sounds partisan. But the truth is the truth, whether it sounds partisan or not.

And a staunch conservative has succinctly explained why this problem really is a Republican problem. In an admirably candid interview Monday with Ezra Klein on MSNBC, Ben Domenech, a conservative blogger, said the new tea party Republicans in the House don’t want their leadership to sit down with Obama to talk because “they have their doubts about the ability of Republicans to negotiate any better situation.”

If Obama is the anti-Christ/Chicago thug/ the reincarnation of Stalin and Hitler rolled into one, why can’t he do something as simple as get Republicans to vote on legislation. One would think an all powerful dictator could stop Mitch from stopping any and all legislation and judicial appointments simply by putting his feet up on is desk and saying nah, don’t like that. That is not even one iota of an exaggeration. We just had an election, Republicans lost. The people decided what they wanted – Mitch and his posse are the ones acting like thugs.