Map of the United States including Louisiana 1818 – The Conservative Cult and The Deficit

 Map of the United States including Louisiana 1818

 Map of the United States including Louisiana 1818. The Louisiana Purchase was completed in 1803, but much of that territory had not yet become states.

The U.S. has a revenue problem. From 2000 to 2008 conservatives spent a lot of money on the national credit card. It has been the historic custom for the U.S. to pay for it’s wars as they occurred. Republicans decided not to. With this debt and the concurrent interests accruing, the economy went in the dumpster. That was caused by people who had assured us for years they knew what they were doing and did not need to be regulated. Going into 2009 with a new president, he and a Democratic Congress did stop the economy from hemorrhaging jobs and GDP. We bailed out the smart serious know-it-alls on Wall Street. They and corporate America recovered quickly. Frequently returning to the same profit margins they had before the recession. Suddenly the national deficit became this big ugly monster that must be killed before it eats the country. The U.S. even had the luxury of watching Europe experiment with austerity measures and see them fail. Most of the debt we have now is the result of the Bush tax cuts and the recession. That is just a fact. Like your average cult member, conservatives are not having anything to do with these facts. Cultists are like that. By definition a cultists is someone who is not going to let facts get in the way of the dogma they chant over and over again. The Cult of Conservatism does put a little spin on it’s chant in that it is partly composed of unadulterated idiocy and part malevolence. For example, here we have Bill Wilson, president of the far Right cult called Americans for Limited Government. The Non-Existent Spending Cuts Wrought By The ‘Devastating’ Sequester

According to Obama, the sequester would represent “a huge blow to middle-class families and our economy as a whole.” Obama’s White House has also referred to the sequester as “devastating,” saying its cuts would “imperil our economy, our national security (and) vital programs that middle class families depend on.”

Sounds frightening – but is it true? Of course not. According to The Wall Street Journal ”federal domestic discretionary spending soared by 84 percent with some agencies doubling and tripling their budgets” during Barack Obama’s first two years in office. In fact the sequester would scale back just one of every six dollars in discretionary spending increases since 2008 – hardly a “huge blow.” Also, discretionary spending in 2008 was already tremendously inflated – having increased by more than 60 percent over the previous eight years.

In other words this isn’t even really a cut – “devastating” or otherwise – it’s a modest growth rate reduction following years of unnecessary, embarrassing and unsustainable excesses.

Whenever a far Right cult member cherry picks a couple weird figures one’s radar should start blipping.

Spending first. In 1981, when Reagan took office, the federal government spent 22.2 percent of GDP. That figure dropped steadily for the next two decades, and by the year 2000 spending was down to 18.2 percent of GDP. Expenditures went up after that, but the Office of Management and Budget estimates that by 2017, spending will once again be 22.2 percent of GDP, exactly the same as it was 30 years ago. In other words, spending hasn’t gone up at all.

If you do nothing but watch the evening news or cable news you would never guess that Democrats have cut spending. Or that Democrats have historically been better mangers of the economy than “small” government conservatives. Taxes are lower now than they were under Saint Ronnie. Tax revenue was 19.6 percent of GDP when Reagan took office, and it’s projected to be 19.2 percent of GDP in 2017. maybe raising the overall tax rates .4% would not pay off the deficit, but it might help. The problem with that is the cultists have formed a circle of hysteria around multimillionaires and corporations ( many of whom use loopholes to avoid taxes completely). On the other hand conservative dogma does allow for raising taxes on the working poor and cutting benefits for seniors. There is a never ending echo that says we just can’t afford these benefits. Well, what can we as a nation afford – for seniors to go wotihout food and medicien. For children to be malnurtioned. We definite cannot afford to make Pete Peterson and his pals pay one more penny in taxes or make super profitable corporations pay a living wage. Peterson is the money behind a group called the Fix the Debt Campaign. You know how these wise and wonderful folks knew so much about economics and yet caused the economy to have it’s biggest collapse in 80 years. Well OK, they screwed that up, but they have the answer to our debt problem. Cause massive job losses, funnel billions to fellow cult members in the defense industry, and cut Medicare and Social Security. What is really cool for cultists is when they can get someone famous at an influential newspaper to write about how things could be worked out in a “bipartisan” way if only Democrats would give Pete, Bill Wilson and Republicans everything they want, Woodward Misses The Mark

For the past 18 hours Republicans have been giddily waving around a new article by Bob Woodward as a smoking gun that proves sequestration should be replaced with spending cuts and spending cuts only — and that President Obama once conceded the point.

Here’s the key section, which certainly carries that implication.

[T]he final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection.

So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts. His call for a balanced approach is reasonable, and he makes a strong case that those in the top income brackets could and should pay more. But that was not the deal he made.

Woodward’s book about the debt limit crisis includes the fairly inconsequential detail that the idea of using sequestration (as opposed to other policy options) as an enforcement mechanism originated in the White House. Republicans, who voted for the Budget Control Act in overwhelming numbers, argue flimsily that this detail absolves them of all blame for the coming spending cuts, and have since tried to turn Woodward into a sort of grand arbiter of the debt limit fight.

But in this case Woodward is just dead wrong. Obama and Democrats have always insisted that a balanced mix of spending cuts and higher taxes replace sequestration.

So Democrats should be reasonable and let the the people whose economic theories have caused so much damage to the country, to have everything they ask for. You know, in the spirit of compromise.

Map of George Washington’s land at Mount Vernon – Brats in Congress, Whatever Democrats Are For, Conservatives Are Against

Map of George Washington’s land at Mount Vernon, Fairfax Coy., Virginia, as it was & as it is. Laid down from old maps made by G. Washington and from actual surveys. This map was published in 1859 by  W. Gillingham.

Silver-rimmed spactacles, worn by George Washington. Washington commenced to wear eye-glasses in the year 1778. This pair is said to have been used by him on the occasion of his reading his Newburg address. Presented by Captain Henry N. Marsh.

The Uniform worn by General George Washington when he resigned his commission at Annapolis. Dec. 23, 1783. (Smithsonian Institution).

And as the U.S. Archives explains, There is no such thing as Presidents Day. Or President’s Day.

“Before 1971, Washington’s Birthday was one of nine federal holidays celebrated on specific dates, which fell on different days of the week (the exception being Labor Day—the original Monday holiday).

Then came the tinkering of the Ninetieth Congress in 1968. Determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays, Congress voted to shift three existing holidays to Mondays and expanded the number further by creating one new Monday holiday.Washington’s Birthday was uprooted from its fixed February 22 date and transplanted to the third Monday in February, followed by Memorial Day being relocated from the last day in May to the last Monday in May.

When a new federal law was implemented in 1971, only two days separated Abraham Lincoln’s Friday birthday of February 12 from the Washington’s Birthday holiday that fell on February 15—the third Monday in February.

For advertisers, the Monday holiday change was the goose that laid the golden “promotional” egg. Using Labor Day marketing as a guide, three-day weekend sales were expanded to include the new Monday holidays. Once the “Uniform Monday Holiday Law” was implemented, it took just under a decade to build a head of national promotional sales steam.

 

 

Conservative bloggers will probably still call this shamnesty or some other supposedly clever name. If anything the President’s immigration proposal, besides resembling golden buy Marco Rubios’, is that the criteria to achieve citizenship are pretty high. And considering all the conservative talk of secession, one wonders if the average conservative zealot would go through this much effort to become a citizen, Marco Rubio is against administration’s Rubio-esque immigration plan

Under the proposal, any of the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants could apply for a “Lawful Protective Immigrant” visa, provided they pass a criminal background check, provide biometric information and pay a set of fees. If approved for the visa, they would be allowed to live and work in the United States for four years before reapplying. They could leave the country for short periods of time, and apply to have their spouses and children covered by the same provisional legal status. Immigrants could be disqualified from the program if they were convicted of a crime that led to a prison term of one year, or several crimes that led to at least 90 days in jail.

With this visa, immigrants could then apply for legal citizenship within eight years as long as they learn English, pay back taxes, avoid criminal offenses and learn the “history and government of the United States.” And from there, of course, legal residents can apply for full citizenship.

As for enforcement, the proposal expands the E-Verify program for employers, and requires Homeland Security to collect regular data on the effectiveness of the program and its effect on the agricultural economy. It also calls for an expanded Border Control and adds 140 new immigration judges to process the flow of people who violate immigration laws.

No plan will please everyone. I can’t think of an issue that that does make conservative foam a littl at the mouth, but ethnocentrism has always been a hallmark of the far Right. Yet the biggest hurdle is the the height of the hurdles to citizenship, it is that this plan is a Democratic plan, or worse an Obama plan. Newt Gingrich has been known to occasionally blurt out the unvarnished truth about his side, this sums up the problem, Gingrich: Republicans Will Oppose Any Immigration Plan Backed By Obama Because They Hate Obama

“An Obama plan led and driven by Obama in this atmosphere with the level of hostility towards the president and the way he goads the hostility I think is very hard to imagine that bill, that his bill is going to pass the House,” Gingrich said. “I think that negotiated with a Senate immigration bill that has to have bipartisan support could actually get to the president’s desk.”

“Goad”? All President Obama has to do is make his usual civil and civic minded statement and the Right starts have seizures. If life is like high school one can imagine Obama at home, one of the most popular and respected kids in school, wondering to himself at the mean kids; their buttons are so easy to push. I say good morning and suddenly they’re against mornings. Back to Jamelle Bouie’s column for this sound bite from Rubio,

Despite these similarities, Rubio has come out against the administration’s proposal. “If actually proposed,” the senator said in a press release, “the President’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come.” Rubio accuses the White House of “failing to secure our borders,” creating a “special pathway” for those who broke the law, and doing nothing to address the “future flow” of immigrants.

Right now, without reform, illegal immigration into the U.S. is at historic lows, so how can it be that our borders are somehow more insecure now than 10 years ago.

Now this is semi-historic, the broadcast media confronting a conservative and one f their wunderkins at that, ABC confronts Paul Ryan for praising sequester before using it to slam Obama

ABC News host Jonathan Karl on Sunday suggested that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) was guilty of hypocrisy because he slammed President Barack Obama for the automatic spending cuts in the so-called sequester — even though congressman had personally praised it in the past.

“Don’t forget it was the president who proposed the sequester, it’s the president who designed the sequester,” Ryan told Karl, adding that he had concluded that Congress was not going to be able to avoid the automatic cuts because Democrats refused to accept Republicans’ proposal for “smarter cuts in other area of government.”

“Congressman, I’ve heard you say this, and this has been a talking point for Republicans for a long time,” Karl interrupted. “But let’s look at your own words, what you said right after the law putting this in place was passed in August of 2011. These are your words. You said, ‘What conservatives like me have been fighting for for years are statutory caps on spending, literally legal caps in law that says government agencies cannot spend over a set amount of money and if they breach that amount across the board sequester comes in to cut that spending. You can’t turn it out without a supermajority. We got that into law.’”

“Now, it sounds to me there like if you weren’t taking credit for the idea of the sequester, you were certainly suggesting it was a good idea,” Karl pointed out.

Republicans do this all the time. They agree to something. A few months pass and they pretend that never happened and what they are taking about how is tttotalllyyy different because…time has passed. Credit to Jonathan Karl for doing better than averge, but he should have nailed Ryan and House Republicans for voting twice to approve a Ryan budget with less cuts than Obama’s plan, that never approached balancing the budget in our life times. Though the Ryan plan, Ryan always being fearful of making millionaires pay even one more penny in taxes, gave senior citizens the shaft.

Another recent example of conservatives pretending that the things conservatives did or said in the past is some kind of never-land, Lindsey Graham: In letter, Hagel disavowed alleged Israel comment

“We will have a vote when we get back, and I am confident that Senator Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed,” McCain said.

Graham called Hagel “one of the most unqualified, radical choices for secretary of defense in a very long time.” But he nonetheless expressed openness to letting the Senate proceed to a vote on his confirmation, saying he gives Obama “great discretion.”

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said there isn’t any reason for Republicans to hold up up Hagel’s confirmation.

“It’s a grave concern,” McDonough said on ABC News’ “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “If you look at Chuck Hagel, decorated war veteran himself, war hero. Republican senator. Somebody who over the course of the last many years, either as a Republican senator or as the chairman of the president’s Intelligence Advisory Board, I’ve worked with very closely. This guy has one thing in mind, how do we protect the country.

Radical? Graham and Mccain betrayed the nation’s trust when they promulgated Iraq war lies,

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

“He is lying, Tim, when he says he doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction,” Lindsay Graham said on Meet the Press on March 2, 2003. “For 12 years now, we’ve been playing this game, trying to get this man to part with his weapons of mass destruction.”

Later, responding to a question from then-host Tim Russert about reports Saddam was destroying certain missiles to comply with the United Nations, Graham emphasized intelligence showing presence of chemical weapons.

…McCain, in a Feb. 16, 2003, appearance on Face the Nation, also made the case for the war based on intelligence showing weapons of mass destruction, even responding to a question that the CIA might not have been straightforward with weapons information as “a very reckless charge.”

“There’s not a doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein would give a weapon of mass destruction to a terrorist organization,” McCain said. He added, “They have common cause in trying to destroy the United States of America.”

McCain then said that should the United States decide to go in alone, the war would end quickly because of the weak Iraqi army, with the possibilities of Iraq firing a chemical weapon at Israel.

Both of these “radical” should be shoveling out the local animal shelter for their past treachery, not deciding who should be the nest secretary of defense. They both knew that that there was none, zero, nada evidence that Saddam had WMDs of any kind. Which is also the subject of a new documentary based on David Corn and Michael Isikoff book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War .

Winter Woods Snow wallpaper – Is The Ascendancy of Moderate Liberalism Making Republicans Dumber

Winter Woods Snow wallpaper

Winter Woods Snow wallpaper

 

 

As much as I appreciate a clever observation, I do prefer governance that moves things along in the best interests of the country. Since we’re not going to get the good governance, now, or when the Senate comes back from recess, me and everyone else will have to settle for the clever observation, Explaining the Farce of the Hagel Hearings

It’s easy to shake your head and laugh at the incredible things said by some of the nincompoops who occupy the GOP’s backbench in Congress, whether it’s Louie Gohmert ranting about “terror babies,” or Paul Broun (an actual doctor, for whose patients I fear) saying “All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell,” or any of a thousand things Michele Bachmann has said over the years. But as we laugh, we know these people don’t shape policy, so the damage they can do is limited. Not that the rest of the Republicans on Capitol Hill are a bunch of geniuses or anything, but most of those who have that golden combination of crazy and stupid are pretty far down in the pecking order.

But looking forward to the next four years, you have to wonder if Barack Obama is, through little fault of his own, making the entire Republican party dumber with each passing day. Fred Kaplan, a thoughtful journalist who reports on military affairs for Slate, watched Chuck Hagel’s confirmation hearings and can’t contain his disgust at how little the Republican senators serving on the Armed Services Committee seem to understand about things related to the armed services:

Not to sound like a Golden Age nostalgic, but there once was a time when the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee prided themselves on having an understanding of military matters. They disagreed in their conclusions and sometimes their premises. But most of them worked to educate themselves, at least to the point where they could debate the issues, or ask questions of a general without coming off like complete idiots. The sad thing about this new crop of senators—especially on the Republican side—is they don’t even try to learn anything; they don’t care if they look like complete idiots, in part because their core constituents don’t care if they do either.

Normal people, people who are just a little crazy as most of us are, are not show your ass like baboons crazy. Conservatives see no down side to showing their ass because the conservative base rewards such behavior. It would never occur to them that they lost two major election elections because, among other things, voters had a choice between the level headed black guy and the crazies, and decided that lunacy was not the best course for the country. While many conservative get down on one knee every time Dick Cheney releases a statement to Fox News to give thanks, the current stars of the conservative movement – Paul Broun, Ted Nugent and Ted Cruz are worshiped because their vision for the USA is to abandon everything in the Constitution except their bizarre interpretation of the 2nd Amenedment. I’m not a science fiction writer so I can’t really do that vision poetic justice – one where there is no 1st Amendment protections for freedom of religious conscience, only protection f far Right and corporate speech. No right to petition for grievances, a country where tea baggers can parade with racist signs, but occupiers can’t protest the injustices and greed of Wall Street. A place where a clump of cells has more legal protection than grown women. A conservative America where the 4th Amendment interferes with delivering instance justice. An unregulated America where citizens are thrown into private prisons for profit, while billionaires get away with poisoning working families. If you stand for economic and legal justice you’ll have the please of being branded an anti-Christ Marxist by the Broun-Cruz-Nugent crowd. Do they understand that by saying that anyone who stands up for good, for decency, for ethics is a Marxist, rather than the loyal opposition, they are giving Marxism an undeserved good name.

Another aspect of conservatism that while tiresome from a long time bloggers’s point of view, can be interesting as well, is the conservative base’s perception that they and the Conservative movement are some brand of populism. Whether it is Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Florida Criminal in-Chief Rick Scott or conservative radio pundits, they are all captives of crony corporatism. The Grand Old Jurassic Party

The Republican Party is a presidential election away from extinction. If it can’t win the 2016 contest, and unless it has bolstered its congressional presence beyond the benefits of gerrymandered redistricting—which is to say not only retaking the Senate but polling more votes than the opposition nationally—the party will die. It will die not for reasons of “branding” or marketing or electoral cosmetics but because the party is at odds with the inevitable American trajectory in the direction of liberty, and with its own nature; paradoxically the party of Abraham Lincoln, which once saved the Union and which gives such passionate lip service to constitutionality, has come to embody the values of the Confederacy in its hostility to constitutional federalism and the civil bonds that the founding document codifies. The Republican Party will vanish not because of what its says but because of what it believes, not because of how it presents itself but because of who it is when it thinks no one is looking.

I remember reading similar columns in 2009, only to see the tea party – the nation taking it’s first steps out of a calamitous economic meltdown, an unpaid for three trillion dollar war based on lies, the most morally corrupt administration since Andrew Jackson win the 2014 mid-terms because of unhinged anti-immigrant fever and a story book of evil myths about health care reform. Conservatives can hang on for years as the do as much damage as possible movement. They haven’t had an actual idea – one that would work anyway- ironically since health care reform.

Sometime in the last 30 years, however, the party became a flack to corporate culture at the expense of either freedom or individualism, and as the country grows more economically oligarchic, the Republican Party that best reflects that oligarchy loses political credibility with the public.

What the current party shares in its collective psychosis with the party of the ’60s is its yearning for martyrdom. If it’s true that what hold on power the GOP still has lies in congressional districts more and more resembling outliers—a power that will die off as figuratively as the constituents of those districts die off literally—it’s also true that many in the party are gripped by the death wish that thrills all martyrs and leaves them moist for self-annihilation.

Obama’s ‘Preschool for All’ Plan is a Handout to Lazy Toddlers

And of course, President Obama only supports pre-school for all so that he can breed a bunch of l’il Obamabots who will support him in 15 years, which might make sense in a world where President Obama can run for president again in 2036, but which is — spoiler alert! – not the world we live in:

VARNEY: Look what the president is doing here, it’s a repeat performance of his campaign, which is you raise taxes on the rich and you offer all kinds of free stuff to people who will vote for you in the future. Free preschool education for 4-year-olds, it’s free, here it is. Hand out the goodies.

Varney has a lot in common with a toddler, without the innocence of course. He is right that people follow certain political courses of action because, we hope anyway, they act in their own rational self interests. Conservatives vote for conservative and their point of view because of the corporate nanny state. This is where a disproportionate amount of the nation’s GDP goes into the pockets of people who the hardest thing they’ll do all day is walk to the executive washroom. Top 1% Got 93% of Income Growth as Rich-Poor Gap Widened .And $21 million payday for Goldman Sachs CEO. And Facebook Paid No Corporate Income Tax Last Year, After Making More Than $1 Billion In Profits. While Varney and I differ in our politics the differences between us are far more fundamental. He believes in a reality fabricated from the pocket lent of the Koch brothers.

Lots of coverage of the Russian meteor, but maybe some of you missed this great satellite photo, Satellite Sees Russian Meteor Explosion from Space

The meteor which exploded over the Urals of central Russia was seen by Meteosat-9, at the edge of the satellite view. Hundreds of people were reportedly injured as the meteor’s massive sonic boom caused widespread damage. Image taken Feb. 15, 2013, 3:15 UTC. CREDIT: EUMETSAT

And a reminder that there are conservatives everywhere, Despite advances in scientific knowledge, many of us still want random events and misfortunes to have a deeper significance

Like all random events and misfortunes, we want these things to mean something. The Russian fringe politician, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, rushed to the microphones to claim that the shower of stones that broke windows with their sonic boom, injuring 400 people, was a dastardly test of a new American weapon.

Dorner case shows folly of arming oneself to combat government

In one recent column, I reprinted some words from a guy who wrote several years ago: “Guns are not for hunting. When will you people figure that out? Guns are for hunting down politicians when they steal your rights away through tyranny. Hello!…

“You can’t protect your freedom when the government has more guns than the people.”

[ ]…”When that redistributionist Marxist [deleted] Obama decides to take away decent people’s homes and businesses and give them to the black criminal gangbangers, the garbage illegal aliens [deleted] and the rest of the low information welfare/food stamp crowd who voted for him, we who have our guns can meet them at the door, loaded and ready.”

And there are many like Bryan, who asked: “What if the German Jews had been well armed” against Hitler?

My answer: They would have been slaughtered by the Nazi Panzer divisions.

The French and Poles were well armed. How’d that work out?

But, insisted Tom, “throughout world history, superior armies with superior fire power have been defeated by well-motivated forces with little more than small arms.”

OK, enough. Suffice that too many people think that private citizens should be sufficiently armed to take on not only the local police, but the Army, the Navy, the Marines and even the Air Force.

They hang onto the words in the 2nd Amendment about the people’s right to bear arms “being necessary to the security of a free state,” but ignore the part about the militia being “well regulated.”

Remember the recent wacky outbursts from Tactical Response CEO James Yeager who threatened to ‘Start Killing People’ if the govmint started doing crazy stuff like better background checks or banning the kinds of assault weapons used in Newtown. Does he really think that if the LAPD came for him he’d fight it out and win. Remember Timothy McViegh and Terry Nichols, the conservative anti-government bombers of Oklahoma City. When the govmint came for them that was the end of the stort despite their military training, guns and bombs. Or remember conservative religious zelaot David Koresh and the Branch Davidans. Conservatives blame all deaths on the FBI, but Koresh stared the fire that burned all those children to death. maybe the government could have handled things better, but at the end of the day when the govmint comes for you, all the ammo and high powered weaponry in the world will not save you. Life is not the movies. If state police or federal officials want to question or arrest you, start a legal fund, not a shoot out.

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

Map The World At War 1920

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

London Street Map of 1548

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

Court Rejects Obama Move to Fill Posts

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

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

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

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

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

Recess Appointments: No Restrictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twilight City wallpaper – Conservatives Can’t Handle Honest Debate

Twilight City wallpaper

Twilight City wallpaper

 

Another good find by Mike,
Till there be property there can be no government, the very end of which is to secure wealth and to defend the rich from the poor (Adam Smith 1978: 15).

The limitation of governmental powers, of governmental action, means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations (Theodore Roosevelt 1912).

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics (Plutarch).

Abstract(pdf): This article addresses the political meaning of

President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 declaration that “government is the problem.” Whereas historically the state had been used by elites to extract as much surplus as possible from producers, with democratization of the franchise, the state became the sole instrument that could limit, or even potentially end, the extraction of workers’ surplus. Once control of the state is in principle democratized by the ballot box, the fortunes of the elite depend solely upon controlling ideology. In 1955, Simon Kuznets offered the highly influential conjecture that while rising inequality characterizes early economic development, advanced development promises greater equality. However, rising inequality in most wealthy countries over the past four decades has challenged this hypothesis. What those who embraced Kuznets’ conjecture failed to recognize is the dynamics by which the rich, with their far greater command over resources, education, and status, inevitably regain control over ideology and thereby the state. Over the course of history, only the very severe crisis of the 1930s discredited their ideology and led to a sustained period of rising equality. However, by 1980 they had regained ideological ascendancy. This article examines how this struggle over ideology has unfolded in the U.S. since the democratization of the franchise in the late nineteenth century. It concludes with reflections on whether the current crisis holds promise of again de-legitimating the elites’ hold on power and ushering in another period of rising equality.

This is part of the reason, if not the biggest reason that the Citizens Untied decision was so despised by moderate minded Americans. Money buys speech. It buys legislation. It buys politicians. And far more free speech than the average person has access to. Much of the conservative movements on going anger management issues has to do with their perception that they are powerless against overwhelming echoes of liberalism. While they see liberalism as code speak in everything that comes out of Hollywood, every front page news story, what America generally gets is watered down corporate media. NBC, ABC and the rest have parent corporations with a vested interests in maintaining the status quo of inequality – even PBS, which is better is far from unbiased in favor of conservatives. The more power Jane and John Doe has, the less power corporations have. The tax debate or the framing of the deficit and jobs in terms of high taxes, rather than low revenues has been reported on extensively in the last four years. Yet with all the research and the published reports, conservatives are either convinced the tax burden is THE major barrier to growth and like Romney, repeat the lie because the more money concentrated in the lands of lazy plutocrats, the more power they have.

We all know by now that some issues and words are just triggers for Republican temper tantrums. We say less more sugar please, Republicans scream about the liberal plot to force people to add vinegar to their coffee. Liberals said there were no WMD in Iraq, conservatives just screamed louder that there were. Some of the conservative pundits could not bear the embarrassment of such a momentous and obvious lie so they switched to the he might have them some day so your husband or daughter has to die now just in case. Guns are another trigger. Lou Dobbs’ Paranoid Theory: Obama Will Seize Guns, Remove Bill Of Rights

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs pushed the extreme conspiracy theory that President Obama wants to destroy the Second Amendment as a first step in eliminating the entire Bill of Rights. But Obama has consistently voiced his support for the Second Amendment, including during the Monday press conference that Dobbs referenced on his show.

During his program, Dobbs aired a partial clip of Obama saying at the press conference, “The issue here is not whether or not we believe in the Second Amendment. The issue is: Are there some sensible steps that we can take to make sure that somebody like the individual in Newtown can’t walk into a school — ”

Dobbs responded by claiming that Obama is “so committed to constraining or dismissing outright our Second Amendment rights, it makes you wonder why he’s not ridding the Constitution of the First Amendment as well.” He later said, “You’ve got to wonder why the president doesn’t double down in his assault on the Constitution, taking on not only the Second, but the First Amendment, the Fourth, the Fourteenth.” Dobbs then suggested that the reason Obama has “begun with the Second Amendment” is because “[w]ithout our rights under the Second Amendment, removing the rest of our Bill of Rights would be a lot easier.”

Lou Dobbs and other conservative spinmeisters listen to what President Obama actually said, “I think that those of us who look at this problem have repeatedly said that responsible gun owners, people who have a gun for protection, for hunting, for sportsmanship, they don’t have anything to worry about.” He also said that he believes we can reduce gun violence “in a sensible way that comports with the Second Amendment.” The words go through the Conservative Word and and Meaning Confabulator, and come out as a ban against guns and an assault on the entire Bill of Rights. Making English the official national language has been a conservative obsession for years. That might be a good idea, Conservatives would be forced to learn and understand American English. Of course some day there might there be some kind of miracle in the way of epiphanies, and conservatives might take making rational reality based arguments about public policy out for a test drive. Though I’m not betting on it. These are the executive orders that are supposedly an attack on the Bill of Rights, 1. Making background checks universal. 2. Improving state reporting of criminals and the mentally ill. 6. Funding police officers. 7. Strengthening gun tracking on guns used for crimes. There are three things that President Obama and most Americans want that will have to pass a House with a conservative majority, which some analysts already see as doomed: 3. Banning assault weapons. 4. Capping magazine clip capacity at 10 bullets. And a complete purge of armour piercing or what some call ‘cop killer” bullets. Their sale in currently against the law, but he wants to make possession of bullets bought when they were legal, against the law, Even though most of the public favors the executive orders ( Poll: NRA households support background checks) the assault weapons ban, conservatives might be willing to go berserk and risk reelection if they oppose such modest gun safety changes.

Some interesting history behind the language of the 2nd Amendment. The main impetus was not fear of gov’mint tyranny or even foreign invasion, but slavery, The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery

Sally E. Haden, in her book Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas, notes that, “Although eligibility for the Militia seemed all-encompassing, not every middle-aged white male Virginian or Carolinian became a slave patroller.” There were exemptions so “men in critical professions” like judges, legislators and students could stay at their work. Generally, though, she documents how most southern men between ages 18 and 45 – including physicians and ministers – had to serve on slave patrol in the militia at one time or another in their lives.

And slave rebellions were keeping the slave patrols busy.

By the time the Constitution was ratified, hundreds of substantial slave uprisings had occurred across the South. Blacks outnumbered whites in large areas, and the state militias were used to both prevent and to put down slave uprisings. As Dr. Bogus points out, slavery can only exist in the context of a police state, and the enforcement of that police state was the explicit job of the militias.

Conservatives keep linking freedom with unrestricted gun regulation. You have to have guns to preserve liberty. Conservatives have done fairly well in taking away freedom just using money and gerrymandering without firing a shot, Republicans Brag They Won House Majority Because Of Gerrymandering

History buffs might enjoy this, Excerpt: ‘The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin’ by Benjamin Franklin

In our house there lodg’d a young woman, a milliner, who, I think, had a shop in the Cloisters. She had been genteelly bred, was sensible and lively, and of most pleasing conversation. Ralph read plays to her in the evenings, they grew intimate, she took another lodging, and he followed her. They liv’d together some time; but, he being still out of business, and her income not sufficient to maintain them with her child, he took a resolution of going from London, to try for a country school, which he thought himself well qualified to undertake, as he wrote an excellent hand, and was a master of arithmetic and accounts. This, however, he deemed a business below him, and confident of future better fortune, when he should be unwilling to have it known that he once was so meanly employed, he changed his name, and did me the honour to assume mine; for I soon after had a letter from him, acquainting me that he was settled in a small village (in Berkshire, I think it was, where he taught reading and writing to ten or a dozen boys, at sixpence each per week), recommending Mrs. T—— to my care, and desiring me to write to him, directing for Mr. Franklin, schoolmaster, at such a place.

Suspension Bridge at Night wallpaper – Republican Opinions On Obama’s Cabinet Would Matter If Republicans Had American Values

Suspension Bridge at Night wallpaper

Suspension Bridge at Night wallpaper

 

In light of the fact that the powerful lobbying group for Israel, AIPAC and the Anti-Defamation league don’t have a problem with Chuck Hagel becoming SecDef. And even Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister approves of Hagel, conservative opposition is running out of pearls to clutch.  So long to gumming up the nest Obama administration nominee Jacob Lew, as Treasury Secretary. But Lew has some heavy baggage, he is linked to that Obama dude, Treasury Nominee Jack Lew Linked to Barack Obama

President Obama has formally decided to nominate Jack Lew, his chief of staff, for Treasury secretary. Republicans are already complaining about Lew, reports Politico’s Manu Raju. Lew’s disqualification, according to numerous Republicans quoted in the story, is that he doesn’t agree with Republicans on public policy issues. The quotes are sort of amazing:

Johanns said it’s also about policy, saying a Lew choice would be “controversial.”

“I just think there are economic policies in this administration that haven’t been well received, and Jack Lew is in the middle of that,” he said.

“We’ve got to have a person who has credibility with the leaders of the American and world economy, someone who has credibility with the Congress, and I would feel like Mr. Lew’s nomination would be a mistake,” Sessions said.

Obama can’t have a Treasury secretary who agrees with Obama’s policy agenda!

The sudden gang-up on Lew is doubly amazing since, until approximately today, he was a figure of high repute within Washington. Lew’s image was that of sobriety and willingness to bargain. That was the thrust of a 2011 Washington Post profile of Lew (Republican Dave Camp quote: “You feel like you’re reaching him when you talk to him. I think he gets the art of the possible”). It was also the thrust of this 2011 Politico profile (Eric Cantor — yes, Eric Cantor! — quote: “He was always very polite and respectful in his tone and someone who I can tell is very committed to his principles”).

There is another SHOCKING reason that conservatives would oppose Lew. He is actually a numbers wonk. He knows math and economics and stuff like that, unlike Mr. PowerPoint Paul Ryan (R-WI) who passes for a knowledgeable wonk among conservatives who went eight years without paying the bills. Trusted Aide to Obama Faces Test in Budget Showdown

But Mr. Lew’s last go-round with Republicans, the debt ceiling talks in the summer of 2011, ended uncharacteristically badly. Mr. Lew, still the budget director at the time, irked Speaker John A. Boehner and his staff, who viewed him as an uncompromising know-it-all. Mr. Lew’s defenders call it an aberration.

“I think it’s because Jack knows the numbers, and they couldn’t pull a fast one,” said David Plouffe, Mr. Obama’s chief political adviser.

As long as unemployment is over 4.5% we do not have a debt problem. Let’s say that we did, well Republicans built that. As to all the hand wringing over the debt ceiling and let’s teach those..cough..cough..undisciplined mad spending liberals a lesson; well no surprise it is more about the conservative agenda than genuine concerns about America’s fiscal well being. They raised the debt ceiling seven times from 2002 to 2008.

One of the strange things about opposition to Lew and Hagel is that while Lew is fairly progressive, both he and Hagel are to the Right of Sen. John Kerry. And there is very little opposition to Kerry as SecState.

Despite the concerted efforts by conservative media to convince the public other wise, Democrats and the White House have bought into austerity-lite and done more than Congressional Republicans or the last Republican President to reduce the deficit. This is from a very long new report from American Progress, The Deficit Reduction We Have Achieved So Far

So where does all this deficit reduction leave us? Since the start of fiscal year 2011, Congress and the president have cut about $1.5 trillion in programmatic spending, raised about $630 billion in new revenue, and generated about $300 billion in interest savings, for a combined total of more than $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction. The result is a substantial cut in how much publicly held debt the country is expected to hold 10 years from now. Instead of reaching nearly 93 percent of GDP, debt is now projected to total about 83 percent of GDP—fully 10 points lower. And while that won’t be enough to finally put the budget onto sustainable footing, it is a massive improvement. In fact, it’s about two-thirds of the way toward stabilizing the debt-to-GDP ratio.

It’s been a bumpy few fiscal years. But don’t let all the twists and turns obscure the simple fact that we actually have accomplished a significant amount of deficit reduction along the way. Three-quarters of that deficit reduction has been achieved through spending cuts totaling $1.8 trillion, with only one-quarter coming from revenue increases.

If Obama is building FEMA camps to imprison conservatives who don’t agree with him, he must be using his own money.

I KNOW A WAY TO GET (CERTAIN) GUNS BANNED

It’s generally assumed that the gun lobby and its many supporters in legislatures and the general public will never, ever support any restriction on the sale or possession of any gun under any circumstances. But I know how that could change. I realized what would bring about the change while reading this Victor Davis Hanson column — which isn’t about guns at all, and barely mentions them.

(Hanson)..Take former vice president Al Gore. He has made a fortune of nearly a billion dollars warning against global warming — supposedly shrinking glaciers, declining polar-bear populations, and the like — while simultaneously offering timely remedies from his own green corporations, all reminiscent of the methodology of Roman millionaire Marcus Licinius Crassus, who profited from fires and putting them out. Now Nobel laureate Gore has sold his interest in a failing cable-television station for about $100 million — and to the anti-American Al-Jazeera, which is owned by the fossil-fuel-rich royal family of Qatar. Gore rushed to close the deal before the first of the year to avoid the very capital-gains tax hikes that he has advocated for others less well off. That’s a liberal trifecta: enhancing a fossil-fuel consortium, attempting to beat tax hikes, and empowering an anti-American and anti-Semitic media conglomerate run by an authoritarian despot — all from a former vice president of the United States who crusades for ending our reliance on fossil fuels and for raising taxes on the wealthy….

Imagine if every fedora’d Brooklyn hipster packed heat. Imagine if this were also true of Hollywood celebrities. Imagine if the hip in Hollywood and elsewhere actually changed the gun market — demanding, and paying big bucks for, beautifully crafted, appallingly lethal “artisanal” guns. Imagine if these became the accoutrements no liberal wanted to be seen without — imagine if they showed up in every paparazzi photo ,and in every Vanity Fair portrait photo by Annie Leibovitz. Imagine if cheap knockoffs of those guns became all the rage among The Kids.

I’ll have to unpack this in pieces. Few liberals are advocating the complete ban of guns and those who might be will never get any traction. Sensible limits on the types of guns, magazine size etc. the gun fetishists always portray as the straw man liberal who wants to take away their guns, all of them. NMMNB is being a little facetious, but he might be on to something. Let’s have liberal gun giveaways – to the poor, those scary people of color and especially women. Let’s raise money to buy all liberals plenty of ammo, extended magazine clips, designer personal carry holsters and  free flak vest for the kids. Let’s make it mandatory that everyone under 18 to wear a flak vest when out in public. That is certainly no more an onerous burden than putting an armed law enforcement officer on every corner and in every school, and it would be cheaper.

Unpacking the rest. I wish Gore had sold to a domestic buyer. Sometimes appearances matter, even when they’re appearances obscured by the xenophobia of two-faced weirdos like Victor Davis Hanson. No one of the Right should be lecturing anyone in foreign media when a rabid far Right conservative named Rupert Murdoch has so much influence, direct influence through media and personal contact with elected officials – on U.S. politics. The accusations of elitism and what individuals do with their money? Davis must be off his meds again. He just supported a guy who kept huge bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman islands, and directly outsourced jobs to Asia. This is the way it works in the never-ending hypocrisy the Right shovels out about anyone to the left of Eva Braun. When conservatives are wealthy, they are industrious captains of commerce. When Democrats are wealthy they are elitist. When Democrats make modest incomes they are Marxists, when conservatives have modest incomes they are the salt of the earth. That is not simply jaw dropping hypocrisy, that is the thinking of dangerous zealots who have an agenda mired in jack boots and delusions, not fidelity to small r republican principles. Conservatism is one big apparatus for the growth of plutocracy, yet they churn out shallow knee jerk column after column bemoaning America’s cultural decline. Are their low income and middle-class voters who support them. Sure there are. In the same way the plutocrats of the early 20th century convinced some Americans to use brick bats and guns against laborers who wanted to unionize. There will probably always be Americans who work against and vote against their own rational self interests and the best interests of the country in favor of voting for the wage slave plantation.

Ben Franklin and gun control

Ben Franklin and gun control

A Good Catch, 1892 by William De La Montagne Cary – Conservatives Are To Good Governance what Cheez Whez is To Good Nutrition

   A Good Catch, 1892 by William De La Montagne

A Good Catch, 1892 by William De La Montagne Cary. William de la Montagne Cary (1840-1922) was born in Tappan, New York, most of William de la Montagne Cary’s early life was spent in Greenwich Village.  As a teenager he contributed illustrations to such magazine’s as Harper’s Weekly, Leslie’s, and Appleton’s.  He worked in oil, watercolor, pen and ink, black and white wash, and in later years did some seventy wood engraving illustrations several best-selling books. He also did etchings on copper plates for Currier and Ives.

The Resounding Sea, 1886 by Thomas Moran

The Resounding Sea, 1886 by Thomas Moran. A dramatic rendering of a lifeboat in a storm rowing away from a distressed ship.  Thomas Moran (1837 – 1926) was an immigrant from Bolton, England. He became both a great American print maker and painter who belonged to the Hudson River School art movement in New York whose work often featured the Rocky Mountains. He is probably best known for his western landscapes, especially Yellowstone,  like his contemporaries Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Hill.

Just a thumbnail from this site – Below the Boat, that does incredible laser cut maps of underwater contours.
Conservative pundit Jennifer Rubin writing at WaPo does the mind of an eight year old. She has thought it over and is sure that she can wedge an elephant sized sack of turds through the dog entrance in the kitchen door, throw a table-cloth over it and the parents will never notice, Topsy-turvy Hagel politics

President Obama wants to get credit for bipartisanship, so he picks a Republican defense secretary who will garner few if any Republican votes.

So Chuck doesn’t pass the far Right litmus test of being a true Republican thus Obama’s gesture of bipartisanship doesn’t count. None of us should see Chuck, look at his record or current party affiliation, just listen to the delusional final judgement of the holier than thou Rubin. Rubin also works part-time guarding the gates of true conservatism. Which is a lot like a country club from the 1950s.

He walks away from a politically loyal African American woman for secretary of state (whose nomination would open up his political liabilities) but goes forward with a white, Republican man (whose nomination puts gobs of Senate Republicans in an untenable spot).

So Rubin drags in President Obama dropping the Susan Rice nomination for Secretary of State, the same Rice, Rubin and the conservative noise machine smeared relentlessly, even though because of the current state of the filibuster, Rice’s nomination was dead on arrival. One can envision a Rubin presidency in which she spends four years doing nothing but head banging symbolic acts for the entertainment of her political adversaries. When liberals claim that conservatives are to good governance what Cheez Whez is to good nutrition, Rubin’s thinking is a fairly good text-book example.

Rubin can also spare America the bullsh*t about Hagel being anti-Israel, and thus anti-semitic. They still have a lot of anti-Semitism on the Right. Conservative had no problem with endorsing James “F**k the Jews” Baker – who was against the Iraq surge and encouraged negotiations with Iran. Ironic or just bizarre, the purest conservative in the world, Rubin used liberal arguments against Rice from Mother Jones. Rubin is typical of conservatism at this point. They don’t like something and they’ll grasp at anything, throw anything, because they don’t like it. Good arguments can be made against Hagel. On the other hand Juan Cole of all people has ten reason he thinks Hagel would be a good SOD. Any Obama nominees faces the specter of conservative obstructionism in the Senate. To me Hagel hardly seems worth spending the political capital. He is qualified, but not exceptionally so. Obama and Senate Democrats could probably find an actual Democrat – say like retired General Wesley Clark ( former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO) or a dozen other retired military Democrats. I’ll let Josh Marshall do the predictions, Crack Pipe

Will Republicans uniformly oppose a former member of their own caucus when the issues at stake are complaints that look comical when held up to the light of day? One who was one of the top foreign policy Republicans in the Senate? I doubt it.

Will Democratic senators deny a reelected President Obama his choice for one of the top four cabinet positions when he is quite popular and the expansion of their caucus is due in significant measure to his popularity? Please. Chuck Schumer will oppose the President? Not likely.

So I look forward to Republican crocodile tears on gay rights — seemingly in large part over something Hagel said in the 90s in support of the Senate Republican caucus’s efforts to pillory an openly gay nominee. And yes, perhaps it really will pave the way for a LGBT upsurge of support for Richard Grinnell for President in 2016. But I doubt it.

Otherwise, assuming President Obama nominates him tomorrow, get ready for a Hagel Pentagon.

If I was to take a kitchen table guess about Rubin and the far Right’s real motivations and objections it is all about the dynamics of  Chuck H-type Republicans having no problem working with the Marxist No Birth Certificate radical anti-Christ in the White House. If conservatives like Robert M. Gates and Chuck Hagel are happy to work with this president and Democrats, gee that must mean Obama is in reality, a pretty moderate guy. The last thing the Right wants is for even more Americans, including many conservatives to think Obama is a decent man with a moderate agenda.

 

Republicans still look forward to slapping the hostage around, some bruises and black-eyes, no big deal, GOP Rep: ‘It’s About Time’ We Had Another Government Shut Down

Appearing on CBS’ Face the Nation this morning, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) enthusiastically called for a government shut down:

SALMON: I was here during the government shutdown in 1995. It was a divided government. we had a Democrat [sic] President of the United States. We had a Republican Congress. And I believe that that government shutdown actually gave us the impetus, as we went forward, to push toward some real serious compromise. I think it drove Bill Clinton in a different direction, a very bipartisan direction. In fact, we passed welfare reform for the first time ever, and we cut the welfare ranks in the last decade and a half by over 50%. These are good things. We also balanced the budget for the first time in 40 years in 1997, 1998, 1999. And when I left we had an over $230 billion surplus. This was with a Democrat [sic] president, A Republican —

HOST: You think that’s a good idea?

SALMON: Yes, I do. I really do. I think it’s about time!

(The six day shut-down, just six days, during the Clinton administration cost $800 million)

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) explains the basic and immediate effects, “If you’re going to fully pay Social Security, Medicare, our troops and interest on the debt, you don’t have anyone at border, anyone doing food inspections, anyone in the FAA towers. America would come to a grinding halt,”. Conservatives like Salmon and Pat Toomey(R-PA) do not care as long as they act in the best interests of the conservative movement, since to them “USA” is just a slogan.

Black and White Clock wallpaper – Republicans Deviously Frame the Deficit To Include All of The Safety Net

Black and White Clock wallpaper

Black and White Clock wallpaper

Blue Desk Clock wallpaper

Blue Desk Clock wallpaper

 

This is a good rant from Dean baker about the possibility of, depending on how you look at chained CPI and the coming debt ceiling negotiations, cuts to Social Security, Leave It Alone; It’s Irrelevant to the Deficit

While the promotion of budget hysteria is one of the largest industries in Washington, the most important and widely ignored fact about the budget situation is that we have large deficits today because the collapse of the housing bubble sank the economy. This is not a debatable point.

The budget deficit was just 1.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2007. Before the collapse of the housing bubble the deficit was projected to remain low for the next decade and the debt-to-G.D.P. ratio was actually falling. This would have been the case even if the Bush tax cuts were allowed to continue.

When the bubble burst and the economy plummeted, tax collections fell. We also spent more on unemployment insurance and other benefits for unemployed workers. And we had further tax cuts and stimulus spending to try to boost the economy. The automatic and deliberate steps taken to counter the downturn fully explain the large deficits we have seen the last five years.

Record low interest rates on government bonds demonstrate that the current deficits are not a real problem. But even if they were, it is difficult to see how cutting Social Security could to be part of the solution. Under the law Social Security is not supposed to be part of the budget. It is an entirely separate program financed on its own.

Let’s put aside the speculations about debt ceiling talks and what is up for cuts for a moment. Baker tackles two common myths – perpetuated by conservatives like the far-Right Heritage Foundation. The first myth is that President Obama has gone on some kind of wild spending spree, thus driven up the debt. As the chart above – I could draw this thing in my sleep at this point – shows, it is a combination of conservative spending from 2000-2008, the unpaid for wars, the housing bubble, the recession that started on Bush’s watch  and tax cuts that are driving 60% of the deficit. The second myth and this one will not die today, it is as common as Birtherism among conservatives – that some how Social Security is a driver of the deficit. That is not true. A few facts to know about Social Security

Social Security is a fifth of the U.S. budget …
http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=1258
Social Security: Another 20 percent of the budget, or $731 billion, paid for Social Security, which provided retirement benefits averaging $1,229 per month to 35.6 million retired workers in December 2011. Social Security also provided benefits to 2.9 million spouses and children of retired workers, 6.3 million surviving children and spouses of deceased workers, and 10.6 million disabled workers and their eligible dependents in December 2011.

… but it is not driving the deficit …

Social Security and the Federal Deficit: Not cause and effect

Social Security can only spend what it receives in tax revenues and has accumulated in its trust fund from past surpluses and interest earnings. It cannot add to the deficit if the trust fund is exhausted because the law prohibits it from borrowing (if current revenues and savings in the trust fund are not sufficient to pay promised benefits, these have to be cut). Though modest changes will be needed to put Social Security in balance over the 75-year planning period, the projected shortfall is less than 1% of gross domestic product (GDP). …

There is burrowing, but it only goes one way. The government borrows from the trust fund to help finance day to day government operations. Which is part of conservative Social Security myths part II, subsection B, that there is no such thing as the Social Security Trust Fund. let me back up for a moment and look at the first deficit and spending nonsense. It is ironic how wealthy conservatives, and liberals for that matter, can manipulate the tax code down to the penny and yet, those same conservative use some weird martian math to make the case for Obama’s alleged out of control spending. Steve notes some math challenged spin from Politico, Understanding the ‘debt problem’

President Barack Obama won’t be able to enjoy much of a victory lap from his win over congressional Republicans on the fiscal cliff fight.

There are about 16.4 trillion reasons why.

The staggering national debt — up about 60 percent from the $10 trillion Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009 — is the single biggest blemish on Obama’s record, even if the rapid descent into red began under President George W. Bush. (Glenn Thrush and Reid Epstein’s Politico piece on President Obama’s “debt problem”)

[  ]…First, when there’s a global economic crash, and the government needs to invest to rescue the economy, large deficits are good, not bad, especially when borrowing is cheap and easy. Had the president focused on reducing the $1.3 trillion deficit he inherited from Bush/Cheney, instead of job creation and economic growth, the recession would have intensified, and yet, too many reports simply accept it as a given that higher deficits are worthy of condemnation.

Second, under Obama, as the economy started to improve, the deficit started to shrink anyway. Though the political establishment usually ignores these details, the deficit is $300 billion smaller now than when the president took office — marking the fastest deficit reduction since the end of World War II.

Third, Obama keeps pushing massive debt-reduction proposals on the table, as well as all kinds of policies that shrink the deficit (health care reform, cap and trade, Dream Act), but Republicans have opposed all of them.

As always we cannot have an honest discussion about how much deficits matter and when they matter because conservatives really do not care about deficit spending. We had deficit spending under Saint Ronnie, Bush 41 and Bush 43. If a conservative becomes president in 2016, we’ll have deficit spending. They run up deficits for the very purpose of creating this fake crisis where, gee sorry – the David Brooks line – but we just have to let seniors, vets, the disabled and low-income earners live in a ditch or die or whatever because look at the deficits…uh..conservatives ran up, we cannot afford a safety net anymore . That is not political science, it is a social pathology hiding behind the carnival tent of Conservatism. case in point. The fiscal cliff deal included a revenue giveaway to corporations totaling $9.4 billion dollars. That would pay for a third of the$27 billion emergency spending bill for Superstorm Sandy House Republicans might pass ( the Senate had approved a $60 billion relief package. The remainder may be approved eventually. Republicans in the House are still wrangling over the Sandy bill – When House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pulled his support of a massive Sandy aid bill, Republicans reacted: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the move “disgraceful”).

Other than that few days where we heard the President might consider linking future Social Security cost of living increases to chained CPI I have not heard anything else, but some people are already concerned, The Democrats’ Coming Civil War

Just as Republicans were so divided over taxes – from failing to pass their own “Plan B” bill last week, to their leaders splitting votes on last night’s legislative package – Democrats are about to endure an emotional debate about one of their own bedrock principles: the protection of programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

With the accord reached last night failing to address these programs, Republicans have said they’ll threaten to deny a debt ceiling increase in February — which would prevent the government from paying its bills, exacting a government shutdown and global economic consequences in the process — as leverage to advance their policy interests. In addition, with sequestration cuts set to hit in two months, there’s an additional, built-in point of negotiation between the parties.

The biggest reform Republicans have vowed to push for in these upcoming standoffs is so-called “entitlement reform,” a.k.a. “deficit reduction,” a.k.a., cutting social insurance and benefits for those in need.

That writer means well, but again let’s get this straight. Republicans are linking the debt ceiling to safety net programs, but  Social Security is not fiscally linked. Only a very small part of Medicare, under 3% of Medicare financing comes out of general funds. It is not the biggest driver of the debt. Even when we reach the point where there are more Medicare recipients than workers contributing to Medicare ( a known demographic trend), the total cost will still reach a maximum of GDP of  6.2% by 2080 ( currently it is 3.6%).  The coming battle will be framed by Republicans as one big all encompassing deficit that includes separate issues. Though he is probably correct in being concerned about what the White House will give away. This statement by Obama is technically correct. It is more overall health care costs rather than just Medicare that are to blame,

But we are continuing to chip away at this problem, step by step. Last year I signed into law $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction. Tonight’s agreement further reduces the deficit by raising $620 billion in revenue from the wealthiest households in America. And there will be more deficit reduction as Congress decides what to do about the automatic spending cuts that we have now delayed for two months.

I want to make this point: As I’ve demonstrated throughout the past several weeks, I am very open to compromise. I agree with Democrats and Republicans that the aging population and the rising cost of health care makes Medicare the biggest contributor to our deficit.  I believe we’ve got to find ways to reform that program without hurting seniors who count on it to survive. And I believe that there’s further unnecessary spending in government that we can eliminate.

But we can’t simply cut our way to prosperity. Cutting spending has to go hand-in-hand with further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans. And we can’t keep cutting things like basic research and new technology and still expect to succeed in a 21st century economy. So we’re going to have to continue to move forward in deficit reduction, but we have to do it in a balanced way, making sure that we are growing even as we get a handle on our spending.

Now, one last point I want to make — while I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed. Let me repeat: We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. If Congress refuses to give the United States government the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic — far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff.

Probably a matter of perspective. BuzzFeed sees the civil war and I just see the possibility. No one pundit or blogger did it, but it was probably the collective voices of all of us that pushed the White House away from using Medicare and Social Security in the fiscal cliff deal. So ringing alarms now is not a bad thing. Some more in that vain in this editorial at the NYT, For Obama, a Victory That Also Holds Risks.

For President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress, the fiscal deal reached this week is full of small victories that further their largest policy aims. Above all, it takes another step toward Mr. Obama’s goal of orienting federal policy more toward the middle class and the poor, at the expense of the rich.

Yet the deal, which the Senate and the House have passed and Mr. Obama is expected to sign soon, also represents a substantial risk for the president.

 

This is a rare day. I agree with that yellow rag The Washington Times, David Gregory walks free while Iraq vet was jailed. The strange aspect of this David Gregory controversy is that the far Right thinks liberals care about what happens to Gregory one way or the other. That is not the case. Gregory is just another Beltway villager entrenched in the right of center conventional wisdom. After the Newtown murders he got a little caught up in the outrage, most people did.

 

Times Square 1908 – Like Most Things in Life The Fiscal Cliff Deal Ain’t Perfect

New Years Eve at Times Square New York City 2013.

Times Square, New York, N.Y. 1908

Times Square, New York, N.Y. 1908. I don’t yearn for some foggy misremembered good old days, with  the exception of the huge losses in our natural heritage; forests, trees, cleaner rivers and oceans. Traffic congestion would have been much easier to deal with in 1908, but the cars were awful contraptions and it took forever to take a long trip. Anyway, 2013 and 1908 makes interesting contrasts.

Times Square New York on a rainy day, 1943

Times Square New York on a rainy day, 1943. The film The Human Comedy was apparently playing at the Astor theater that year. It was a comedy/drama starring Mickey Rooney, “Teenager Homer Macauley stays at home in small-town Ithaca to support his family, while his older brother Marcus prepares to go to war.” While Disney’s Saludos Amigos was playing at the Globe, in glorious technicolor.

Piles of snow on Broadway, New York c1905

Piles of snow on Broadway, New York c1905. I like the hatter sign that says they only have summer straw hats in stock, but will add some ear flaps for free.

Suzy Khimm has a nice cheat sheet on the details of the austerity or fiscal cliff deal. The Senate voted 89 to 9 for approval,

— Tax rates will permanently rise to Clinton-era levels for families with income above $450,000 and individuals above $400,000. All income below the threshold will permanently be taxed at Bush-era rates.

— The tax on capital gains and dividends will be permanently set at 20 percent for those with income above the $450,000/$400,000 threshold. It will remain at 15 percent for everyone else. (Clinton-era rates were 20 percent for capital gains and taxed dividends as ordinary income, with a top rate of 39.6 percent.)

— The estate tax will be set at 40 percent for those at the $450,000/$400,000 threshold, with a $5 million exemption. That threshold will be indexed to inflation, as a concession to Republicans and some Democrats in rural areas like Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mt.).

— The sequester will be delayed for two months. Half of the delay will be offset by discretionary cuts, split between defense and non-defense. The other half will be offset by revenue raised by the voluntary transfer of traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs, which would tax retirement savings when they’re moved over.

— The pay freeze on members of Congress and all other federal civilian employees, which Obama had lifted this week, will be re-imposed, .

— The 2009 expansion of tax breaks for low-income Americans: the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit will be extended for five years.

— The Alternative Minimum Tax will be permanently patched to avoid raising taxes on the middle-class.

— The deal will not address the debt-ceiling, and the payroll tax holiday will be allowed to expire.

— Two limits on tax exemptions and deductions for higher-income Americans will be reimposed: Personal Exemption Phaseout (PEP) will be set at $250,000 and the itemized deduction limitation (Pease) kicks in at $300,000.

—The full package of temporary business tax breaks — benefiting everything from R&D and wind energy to race-car track owners — will be extended for another year.

— Scheduled cuts to doctors under Medicare would be avoided for a year through spending cuts that haven’t been specified.

— Federal unemployment insurance will be extended for another year, benefiting those unemployed for longer than 26 weeks. This $30 billion provision won’t be offset.

— A nine-month farm bill fix will be attached to the deal, Sen. Debbie Stabenow told reporters, averting the newly dubbed milk cliff.

This does not mean these tax rates/spending/spending cuts and other assorted provisions are law. The House must vote on the package. Those on the Democratic side of the debate who thinks this deal sucks may have new friends in the House tea baggers who could scuttle the whole deal. Greg Sargent makes the case that this is a good deal considering certain considerations. That might be why so many Senate Democrats got on board,

A White House ally spells out an alternative interpretation. Dems don’t necessarily believe going over the cliff will give them all that much more leverage in the talks next year. It’s been widely argued (by me and many others) that if we do go over the cliff, Dems can simply move to pass the Obama Tax Cuts For The Middle Class, forcing House Republicans to go along. But some Dems question whether House Republicans will feel the need to follow this script. Rather, the thinking goes, if Dems do that next year, the House GOP leadership can pass its own bill cutting taxes on all income up to, say, $500,000 or $600,000.

If the idea is that it’s easier for Republicans to support continuing tax cuts just on some income levels after they’ve all expired, such a bill (with $500,000 or $600,000 as the threshold) could pass the House. What’s more, some Congressional Democrats may feel like they have to support such a bill, too. And the worry is that if this is then kicked over to the Senate, then some Senate Dems may feel tempted to support it or at least negotiate around it, which could divide Senate Dems. After all, some of them have already voiced support for putting the income threshold at $500,000 or $1 million.

And so, the idea is that it’s better to lock in a deal on rates now, at, say, $450,000, extend unemployment benefits, and pocket those gains and continue the fight next year. Raising the income threshold is obviously not desirable, but Dems will have broken the decades-long GOP opposition to raising tax rates on the rich, pocketed hundreds of billions in revenues, made the tax code more progressive, and extended unemployment benefits — all without agreeing to any spending cuts yet.

In so doing, will Dems squander their leverage next year? I and others have argued that they would. But the alternate interpretation is that Republicans, even next year, after a cliff dive, won’t have their options as limited as we might hope — they might not have to support the $250,000 threshold, after all. And Dems may still retain leverage in another way, even with the rates locked in by a deal this year. Republicans will use the debt ceiling to extract spending cuts, but Dems might counter by demanding more revenues via tax reform that closes loopholes and deductions for the wealthy.

Like Greg I am not endorsing this reasoning only that it was rational decision considering the possible unforeseen consequences down the road. I see negotiating a little differently than the White House. In no way do I think this was a sell-out ( Bernie Saunders (I-VT) perhaps the most progressive senator in the Senate, voted for the package, though progressive Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) did not) only that they should have started out with a proposal that included starting the repeal of the Bush tax cuts at $125k, say starting at a one percent increase scaling upward until those rate equaled the Clinton rates at $200k for individuals, and I would have never put any Medicare cuts on the table. Though this package has not become law it is a red-letter day when you can get 42 conservatives to vote for a tax increase, while also extending spending without any offset in cuts ( some spending cuts have been sequestered for two months).

Since I heard the news late last night I’ve had some time to settle into the details, immediate consequences and some reason to be concerned about that semester and the renewal of the debt ceiling. So it’s always good to visit our friendly, clam and somewhat reassuring liberal uncle Paul Krugman. There always seems to be that person in the family or group of friends that knows whether you really got a good deal, Krugman is the nation’s go to guy on fiscal deals,

The bad news is that the deal falls short on making up for the revenue lost due to the Bush tax cuts. Here, though, it’s important to put the numbers in perspective. Obama wasn’t going to let all the Bush tax cuts go away in any case; only the high-end cuts were on the table. Getting all of those ended would have yielded something like $800 billion; he actually got around $600 billion. How big a difference does that make?

Well, the CBO estimates cumulative potential GDP over the next decade at $208 trillion.So the difference between what Obama got and what he arguably should have gotten is around 0.1 percent of potential GDP. That’s not crucial, to say the least.

And on the principle of the thing, you could say that Democrats held their ground on the essentials — no cuts in benefits — while Republicans have just voted for a tax increase for the first time in decades.

So why the bad taste in progressives’ mouths? It has less to do with where Obama ended up than with how he got there. He kept drawing lines in the sand, then erasing them and retreating to a new position. And his evident desire to have a deal before hitting the essentially innocuous fiscal cliff bodes very badly for the confrontation looming in a few weeks over the debt ceiling.

If Obama stands his ground in that confrontation, this deal won’t look bad in retrospect. If he doesn’t, yesterday will be seen as the day he began throwing away his presidency and the hopes of everyone who supported him.

For another perspective try Robert Reich who thinks Democrats and Obama got rolled. Lousy Deal on the Edge of the Cliff

The deal emerging from the Senate is a lousy one. Let me count the ways:

1. Republicans haven’t conceded anything on the debt ceiling, so over the next two months – as the Treasury runs out of tricks to avoid a default – Republicans are likely to do exactly what they did before, which is to hold their votes on raising the ceiling hostage to major cuts in programs for the poor and in Medicare and Social Security.

2. The deal makes tax cuts for the rich permanent (extending the Bush tax cuts for incomes up to $400,000 if filing singly and $450,000 if jointly) while extending refundable tax credits for the poor (child tax credit, enlarged EITC, and tuition tax credit) for only five years. There’s absolutely no justification for this asymmetry.

The two things Uncle Paul and Uncle Robert have in common is the fear that no doubt many of us have. That President Obama, who drew a line in the sand on the $200k/250k threshold, negotiated that away. While we can acknowledge he got unemployment benefits for it and a reasonable tax increase on investment income for the top 10%. he has still given the impression he will not negotiate as hard as he could. If he lets Mad Dog McConnell(R-KY) hold the budget hostage over the debt ceiling to get spending cuts, it is not like we should have all voted for Mr. 47%, but Obama will leave a legacy, a financial burden on the middle-class and working poor that could last fifty years. It should be noted that the Obama payroll tax cut was allowed to expire. Those were tax cuts for working Americans who Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann  think do not have “skin” in the game. As some might remember that tax cut was passed as part of the original stimulus in 2009. The cut gave the average family (2 adults and one child) an extra $80 dollars a month. Though it also meant that much less was paying for their Social Security and Medicare entitlements. In the long run it is probably best that those families swallow that small loss in income so they’ll have those benefits when they need them.

This should make everyone smile, if not feel better. David Brooks doesn’t like the deal, Another Fiscal Flop

Over the course of the 20th century, America built its welfare state. It was, by and large, a great achievement, expanding opportunity and security for millions. Unfortunately, as the population aged and health care costs surged, it became unaffordable.

On a fairly regular basis conservatives develop a new catch phrase and repeat it to the point of nausea. Buy the new whole grain bread, it contains 5% more saw dust than the old bread. Brooks puts in the new phrase, practically a chant at this point, it became unaffordable, we just cannot afford health care for seniors anymore, maybe we could rustle enough Social Security to buy a sleeping bag for seniors so they’ll be warm living under the bridge, but otherwise tough luck, too bad. Some conservatives – Bush 43, Hank Paulson, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and scores of others found hundreds of billions to bail out Wall Street. They found a trillion and counting to invade and rebuild Iraq. Brooks is selling that obnoxious failed medicine called austerity. It is literally not working anywhere in the world. Countries that are practicing the more extreme version of it are dragging down the world economy. Brooks makes a six figure salary for foisting this load of rotten garbage on America. He better damn well love this country. He is making a great living as a know-nothing conman.