Old School House Autumn wallpaper – The proposition that there are anti-capitalist Democrats is as much a myth as unicorns

Old School House Autumn wallpaper

 

Hannity and Carlson hype a 2007 Obama video and prove they’re having an ethnic nervous breakdown

I’m promoting a book that says we need to give most white people the benefit of the doubt: Most of us aren’t in revolt against multiracial America, or the president who heralded its arrival before many were ready.

But sadly, some white people are just that crazy, and Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are their Pied Pipers, leading them off a cliff.

Tuesday night they hyped a 2007 Barack Obama speech to a group of black ministers at Hampton University in Virginia, and they engaged in the most rancid racial fear-mongering I’ve seen in a long time. Hannity hailed the speech as “a glimpse into the mind of the real Barack Obama,” and he tried out his own black preacher voice for special effect. Carlson insisted Obama was preaching racial division to his black audience and sputtered, “This is not a dog whistle, this is a dog siren!”

He would know.

Mainly, their complaint came down to: How dare a black president (or at the time, presidential candidate) talk to a black audience about black poverty and suffering! And the legacy of slavery, and the endurance of racism! Has he no shame?

If we’re going to talk about dog whistles and coded language than let’s talk about the fact that Carlson and his fellow racist ran this same video with the same hype five years ago – RERUN: Fox, Carlson, Drudge Attacked Obama’s Hampton Speech Five Years Ago. Let’s talk about Matt Drudge’s  history of race baiting. Let’s talk about these same conservatives talking about a cadence change in then Senator Obama’s Hampton speech that supposedly he never uses. It is remarkable that it is Obama’s speech that they find offensive and not the dismal failure of a Republican administration to respond to an emergency. It is a scandal that these conservatives without the ethics of a pile cockroach dung find that speech more offensive than police gunning down New Orleans citizens in the street – 5 Ex-Officers Sentenced in Post-Katrina Shootings. America owes Carlson, Drudge, Hannity and Fox some gratitude for reminding everyone in the United States that conservatives have a difficult to impossible time distinguishing morality from immorality. The recent not very subtle racist dog whistle has not stopped with that reprehensible squad of Republican media icons,  Paul Ryan Fears the 30 Percent

Mitt Romney, in his infamous secretly recorded remarks, divided the American electorate into the lazy-entitled-non-taxpaying 47 percent who support President Obama, and everybody else. Ryan Grim has a speech by Paul Ryan using a different (and, from the right-wing perspective, more hopeful) division of 70-30:

“Seventy percent of Americans want the American dream. They believe in the American idea. Only 30 percent want their welfare state,” Ryan said. “Before too long, we could become a society where the net majority of Americans are takers, not makers.”

Romney’s 47 percent mashed together the proportion of Americans not owing federal income taxes with the proportion of Obama voters. Where does Ryan’s 30 percent come from?

The figure seems to have been concocted by Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks made the 70-30 case in The Battle, published two years ago, a book I reviewed. Like Romney’s 47 percent riff, the 70-30 argument is an attempt to apply to the Obama years an Ayn Rand–inspired analysis dividing society into virtuous makers and parasitic takers.

And this is from  Jonathan Chait’s review of The Battle,

In his general approach, Brooks is a prototypical member of the modern Republican elite. His ideology is rooted centrally in the class war, a struggle between what he calls “the makers” and “the takers.” He inhabits an imaginary world in which the former are being hounded nearly to extinction by the latter. “At some point,” he sorrowfully predicts, “the rich (as defined by the 30 percent) will pay all the income taxes in America. For the 30 percent coalition, this is fair and just.”

Brooks’s portrait of a world in which the rich are ruthlessly exploited in the name of absolute equality is long on hysterical rhetoric and very short on data. What little data Brooks presents is almost invariably wrong. “In America,” he declares, “the top 5 percent of earners bring in 37 percent of the income but pay 60 percent of the taxes.” This is false. The top 5 percent of income earners pay 38.5 percent of all taxes. And a system where the richest 5 percent earn 37 percent of the income and pay 38.5 percent of the taxes is not, I would submit, a draconian left-wing imposition.

Where does Brooks get this wildly wrong figure? The number he cites describes the share of federal income taxes paid for by the richest 5 percent. But the American tax system is a mix of regressive and progressive taxes. State and local taxes, as well as federal payroll taxes, tend to levy higher rates on the poor and middle class than on the rich. The income tax, which is steeply progressive, helps to tilt the balance of the burden back in the other direction. When conservatives portray the tax code as unfair to the rich, they usually cite just the income-tax burden, calculating that their audience will fail to notice that “income taxes” do not mean taxes as a whole. Brooks uses the term “taxes” when he means “income taxes.” He has fallen for his own ruse.

Brooks further claims that the oppression of the rich is getting worse. “From 1986 to 2006,” he complains, “the proportion of taxes that the top 1 percent of income earners paid grew from 26 percent to 40 percent.” A footnote points to a table compiled by the Tax Policy Center. I do not doubt the accuracy of the figure. But why are the very rich paying a higher share of the tax burden?

If you consult two other lines in the same Tax Policy Center table, you can see that the conclusion is the opposite of the one that Brooks draws. From 1986 to 2006, the highest-earning 1 percent of taxpayers went from collecting 11 percent of national income to collecting 22 percent of national income. Meanwhile, their average tax rate dropped from 33 percent to 23 percent. So: their tax rate fell sharply, but their share of income rose even more sharply, and the net result is that they have paid a higher share of the tax burden. This is Brooks’s evidence that the system has gotten too redistributive!

Conservatives from this cultish obsession with the idea that we should all be grateful for the leveraged buyout specialist like Bain/Romney, the vastly over compensated bankers and hedge fund managers because they create the value that we’ll call the Gross Domestic Product – the total value of the goods and services produced by the nation. The worship of the financial elite is tunnel vision at best. At the Romney and too big to fail banks level, sure money makes money, but where does the source of that money emanate – from someone framing a house, from someone building a car, from someone baking a cake, from someone discovering a new vaccine, from someone producing something of value. Without those people – the conservatives who see themselves as the god-like saviors and dispensers of the nation’s wealth have nothing. There have been big banks and high finance crooks for centuries, and credit does play a big role in a successful modern economy. Though we did not always have people who exploit and loot the system – like Bain – and then claim they performed an essential service to the country. The proposition that there are anti-capitalist Democrats is as much a myth as unicorns. Conservatives believe that myth the way they believe the earth is only a few hundred years old, that the Trail of Tears was to bring Christianity to American Indians and that real rape cannot result in pregnancy. From the first line on capitalism at Wikipedia, “Capitalism is an economic system that is based on private ownership of the means of production and the creation of goods or services for profit.” Sounds good. There might be some elected Democrat out there in some small town that does not believe in that system and that it is a basically sound idea in general. Brooks like every other conservatives misses a basic fact about government and the Great Recession – all the bail-outs were started by Republicans – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake, Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson ,  President Bush and VP Cheney. Paul Ryan voted for TARP and the automaker bail-outs. Even before the recession Bush 43 tried to jump start the economy with his own stimulus. When the savings and loans went belly up in the 1980s Saint Ronnie did not just go all Marxist and bail them out, he seized control of them. In the world of conservatives like Brooks and the hucksters at AEI all Republican farts smell like sweet roses, all Democratic farts smell like Marx. In ConWorld all economic problems can be solved with federal income tax cuts for the well off and deregulation. Neither of those things has ever proven to be effective at boosting the economy. About those offshore investments…

In some ways, Mitt Romney is a walking, talking self-refutation of his own economic agenda. The Republican presidential candidate believes if Washington uses tax policy to put more money in the hands of the very wealthy, those “job creators” will pump those gains right back into the Americans economy, benefiting everyone else as the capital trickles down.

Romney, meanwhile, is extremely wealthy, has benefited greatly from tax breaks, and sent much of his money overseas. It would appear Romney’s wallet has debunked Romney’s economic agenda.

So Romney asked himself what to do with all the money he saves paying a ridiculously low 13% tax rate. He did not answer himself with hire more Americans, invest millions in American jobs or infrastructure, his answer was move money to offshore accounts. Yet we’re to believe that when Romney gives the wealthy and multinational corporations yet another tax cut, they will not give the same answers to themselves that Romney did. In ConWorld there are rivers of crocodile tears because the terrible Democrats are keeping them from making money. Just in this morning, Taxes and Regulations Are Hurting Economic Recovery? Bank Profits Rebound To 2006 Levels, But Bankers Still Complain About Regulations

In the last four quarters, the six largest Wall Street banks have made $63 billion, the most they’ve made since 2006. Despite having pushed the nation to the brink of economic collapse, and after receiving billions of taxpayer dollars, the banks are back to where they were when the housing bubble inflating.

However, according to Bloomberg News, a return to sky-high profits isn’t enough for the banking industry, which reacted to the numbers by whining about regulation and “a backlash against bankers“:

Those billions of dollars in profits aren’t enough, according to interviews with more than a dozen bank executives and analysts. The lowest leverage in a decade, return on equity at a third of 2006 levels, higher capital requirements, shares trading below book value, declining bonuses, job cuts, the European sovereign-debt crisis and a backlash against bankers have damped the joys of profit, they said.

These six banks — Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley — “will have combined profits of $9.9 billion in the third quarter, $17.4 billion in the last three months of the year and $75.8 billion in 2013? according to estimates. “When the banks say, ‘We’re doing very well but not getting a return on our capital,’ it’s completely incomprehensible, and it’s angering to the average American,” said Michael Greenberger, a former regulator who now teaches at the University of Maryland’s law school.

That is not capitalism – it is a lot of things – exploitation, pigs at the trough, greed run amok, stealing from the economic output of the average American. We cannot and should not try to make everything absolutely equal and fair, that brings its own injustice, but clearly the pendulum of economic justice has swung way too far in favor of the insatiable pigs.

Missouri Senate Candidate Todd Akin is not an outlier in the G.O.P.

Tuesday morning, on a tip from American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal PAC that conducts opposition research on Republicans, I clipped and posted videos for Slate’s Double X blog demonstrating some of the paranoid flights of fancy and routine misogyny that have peppered Todd Akin’s speeches on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Akin, who is challenging Democrat Claire McCaskill for her Missouri Senate seat, became infamous after he said that, based on no science whatsoever, pregnancies rarely happen in the case of “legitimate rape.” That remark was hardly out of character; he is indeed every inch the misogynist and denier of reality that his comment suggests.

The videos prove that Akin is wholly the product of the movement conservatism that controls the Republican Party. While he may be a bit freer of tongue than many Republicans, his basic premises don’t differ from theirs: Feminism is evil. Reality can be denied if it conflicts with ideology. Conservatives are the real victims of this shifting, politically correct America, not the various groups of people they oppress and demonize.

Despite a few conservative pundits speaking out against Akins’ initial remarks about rape, the base and the Republican big bucks machine has rallied to his side.

Romnesia is “A potent myth is being used to justify economic capture by a parasitic class”

Old Explorer Map and Compass wallpaper

Occasionally I’m not going to list the daily graphic in the post title. Just assume that almost everyday I post there will be some kind of graphic – wallpaper, map, historical photograph etc.

By way of Mike Norman Economics an explanation of a new word that is defining this election cycle, Romnesia: The Ability of the Very Rich to Forget the Context in Which They Made Their Money

A potent myth is being used to justify economic capture by a parasitic class.

We could call it Romnesia: the ability of the very rich to forget the context in which they made their money. To forget their education, inheritance, family networks, contacts and introductions. To forget the workers whose labour enriched them. To forget the infrastructure and security, the educated workforce, the contracts, subsidies and bail-outs the government provided.

Every political system requires a justifying myth. The Soviet Union had Alexey Stakhanov, the miner reputed to have extracted 100 tonnes of coal in six hours. The United States had Richard Hunter, the hero of Horatio Alger’s rags-to-riches tales(1).

Both stories contained a germ of truth. Stakhanov worked hard for a cause in which he believed, but his remarkable output was probably faked(2). When Alger wrote his novels, some poor people had become very rich in the United States. But the further from its ideals (productivity in the Soviet Union’s case, opportunity in the US) a system strays, the more fervently its justifying myths are propounded.

One of the things the notorious Romney video implied, a prejudice about how U.S. economic culture works, was that Romney would not be your president, but there was little reason for the 47% to work hard, because hey, you’re going nowhere fast. While getting as much education as possible and having a good work ethic still increase one’s chances of moving up the economic ladder, upward mobility is not what it used to be in the U.S. –

 But the reality is very different, according to a University of Michigan researcher who is studying inequality across generations around the world.

“Especially in the United States, people underestimate the extent to which your destiny is linked to your background. Research shows that it’s really a myth that the U.S. is a land of exceptional social mobility,” said Fabian Pfeffer, a sociologist at the U-M Institute for Social Research and the organizer of an international conference on inequality across multiple generations being held … in Ann Arbor.

Pfeffer’s own research illustrates this point based on data on two generations of families in the U.S. and a comparison of his findings to similar data from Germany and Sweden. … He found that parental wealth plays an important role in whether children move up or down the socioeconomic ladder in adulthood. And that parental wealth has an influence above and beyond the three factors that sociologists and economists have traditionally considered in research on social mobility—parental education, income, and occupation.

“Wealth not only fulfills a purchasing function, allowing families to buy homes in good neighborhoods and send their children to costly schools and colleges, for example, but it also has an insurance function, offering a sort of private safety net that gives children a very different set of choices as they enter the adult world,” Pfeffer said.

“Despite the widespread belief that the U.S. provides exceptional opportunities for upward mobility, these data show that parental wealth has an important role in shielding offspring from downward mobility and sustaining their upward mobility in the U.S…”

Recent findings show that children from low income families even have a biological disadvantage with genes affected by income. Obviously some people make in spite of these hurdles, but they are the exception, not the rule. Back to Romnesia,

The crudest exponent of Romnesia is the Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart. “There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she insists. “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain; do something to make more money yourselves – spend less time drinking, or smoking and socialising and more time working … Remember our roots, and create your own success.”(3)

Remembering her roots is what Rinehart fails to do. She forgot to add that if you want to become a millionaire – in her case a billionaire – it helps to inherit an iron ore mine and a fortune from your father, and to ride a spectacular commodities boom. Had she spent her life lying in bed and throwing darts at the wall, she would still be stupendously rich.

The rich lists are stuffed with people who either inherited their money or who made it through rent-seeking activities: by means other than innovation and productive effort. They’re a catalogue of speculators, property barons, dukes, IT monopolists, loansharks, bank chiefs, oil sheikhs, mining magnates, oligarchs and chief executives paid out of all proportion to any value they generate.

Looters, in short. The richest mining barons are those to whom governments sold natural resources for a song. Russian, Mexican and British oligarchs acquired underpriced public assets through privatisation, and now run a toll-booth economy(4). Bankers use incomprehensible instruments to fleece their clients and the taxpayer. But as rentiers capture the economy, the opposite story must be told.

Scarcely a Republican speech fails to reprise the Richard Hunter narrative, and almost all these rags-to-riches tales turn out to be bunkum. “Everything that Ann and I have,” Mitt Romney claims, “we earned the old-fashioned way”(5). Old-fashioned like Blackbeard perhaps. Two searing exposures in Rolling Stone magazine document the leveraged buyouts which destroyed viable companies, value and jobs(6), and the costly federal bail-out which saved Romney’s political skin(7).

Romney personifies economic parasitism. The financial sector has become a job-destroying, home-breaking, life-crushing machine, which impoverishes other people to enrich itself. The tighter its grip on politics, the more its representatives must tell the opposite story: of life-affirming enterprise, innovation and investment, of brave entrepreneurs making their fortunes out of nothing but grit and wit.

Let’s say that current poll trends continue. President Obama is reelected, Democrats have a small majority in the senate and Republicans mange to eck out a majority of House seats. Will that mean we’ll make any great strides in undoing forty years of the supply-side nightmare. NO, but we might make some incremental progress. We might have as many as three new Supreme Court Justices that will reconsider Citizen’s United, making it more difficult for billionaires to influence elections. Democrats and Obama were very successful with their pro middle-class legislative agenda in 2009. All of those victories for the middle-class is what pissed off the tea smokers. Go figure. There is nothing wring with incremental progress. I know we live in the age of the internet when news that happened two months ago is two years in internet time. But real progress has been historically slow. It was about 400 years as feudal lords and peasants system ended before than was such a thing as upward mobility. It was not until around 1850 that the average American could reasonably expect to have more education and material comforts than their parents. Even then it was not until the New Deal of the 1930s that America had the great expansion of the middle-class. One that most Americans now take for granted. That is they see the middle-class a something that has always been here during their lifetimes. It is assumed it appeared of its own accord and will somehow magically remain. It is taxes and the subsequent expenditures on education, scientific research, health care and other infrastructure that makes the middle-class possible. Once obtained we all have to work and think smart to keep it, but it can obviously be taken away by Wall Street parasites and their partners in crime, the political plutocrats.

I know that Romney is really ahead in the polls by 118% today and the liberal media is covering up that fact, but let’s just suppose he is behind and ask ourselves why. Sept 26, 2012 – Romney Campaign Now Says They Probably Won’t Do Their Tax Cuts After All. Sept 27, 2012 – Romney Campaign: No, We’re Not Backing Off Our Tax Plan. Having a clear and at least somewhat consistent message is a big part of what defines a political campaign in the public’s eyes. Imagine the mythical small town diner and two conservatives discussing Romney’s tax plan. Who is right the one arguing that Romney is going to cut taxes again for millionaires or the one that says Romney has abandoned that because the numbers do not add up for his plans to tackle the deficit.

I keep hearing/reading conservatives who are at a loss to explain why Romney-Ryan are not ahead in the polls by 10% or more. While part of the reason this has become the whine of the moment is the deafening affects of the conservative bubble of self delusion, the other part is that Romney is warmed over George W. Bush. The question conservatives should be asking themselves is how far behind they would be if they had to stop the politics of character assassination and run a public policy-truth based political campaign. With  the acknowledgement that Democrats are running at least a half counter-attack campaign. Over Labor Day weekend I only watched a few hours of TV. In that short time I saw half a dozen pro Romney attack ads – either from him or his PACs. Larry McCarthy, the Missing Link?

McCarthy, whom I profiled for the magazine, is best known for the notoriously race-baiting Willie Horton ad he made in 1988 that helped annihilate Michael Dukakis’s chances. Floyd Brown, a conservative Republican operative, described McCarthy to me as the Party’s “secret weapon.” The Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who has known McCarthy for years, went one step further, saying of McCarthy, “If you want an assassination, you hire one of the best marksmen in history.”

Recent F.E.C. filings show that McCarthy’s tiny Washington, D.C.,-based firm, McCarthy Hennings Media Inc., has been simultaneously involved in producing anti-Obama ads for Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit “social welfare” group masterminded by the Republican political operative Karl Rove; the separate nonprofit “social welfare” group Americans for Prosperity, co-founded and partly funded by the conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch; and Restore Our Future, the main pro-Romney Super PAC. The filings show that during August and the beginning of September, McCarthy’s firm is identified as the “media production” company for $21.8 million worth of ad buys by Americans for Prosperity, a $21.7 million worth of ad buys for Restore Our Future, and $7. 1 million worth of ad buys for Crossroads GPS. Cumulatively, as the Times reported, these outside ads have filled huge gaps for Romney’s campaign, not just supplementing his campaign’s ad buys but at times outspending them.

Remember during the primaries when Newt Gingrich had his surge. That was partly Sheldon Adelson’s millions, but was also due to McCarthy Hennings Media Inc. Obviously Democrats did not knock out Newt. It was hit-man McCarthy. All of those ads I saw, with the only correct fact in them being that Barrack Obama is the President, came out of the Big Lie machine at McCarthy Hennings Media. If we had fact based, publicly financed presidential campaigns, Romney would be down to the hardcore wingers at 30%. The Right is playing the victim card about allegedly rigged polling even as they dominate every media. It could be you can only put so much lipstick on a pig and tell so may cowardly lies.

 

NEW ROMNEY VIDEO: In 1985, He Said Bain Would “Harvest” Companies for Profits

But this short clip offers a glimpse of Romney when he was at the start of his private equity career and saw businesses as targets of opportunity that could be harvested for the benefit of his investors, not as long-term job creators or participants in a larger community. His remarks were hardly surprising, but they did encapsulate the mindset of get-in/get-out private equity deal makers.

Democratic Blue Globe wallpaper – The Republican Agenda Has Failed Repeatedly. Their Answer? Become Crazier And More Radical

Democratic Blue Globe wallpaper

 

Former Florida Republican  governor Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Obama is driving the radical Right crazy,  Former Gov. Charlie Crist: Here’s why I’m backing Barack Obama

As America prepares to pick our president for the next four years — and as Florida prepares once again to play a decisive role — I’m confident that President Barack Obama is the right leader for our state and the nation. I applaud and share his vision of a future built by a strong and confident middle class in an economy that gives us the opportunity to reap prosperity through hard work and personal responsibility. It is a vision of the future proven right by our history.

We often remind ourselves to learn the lessons of the past, lest we risk repeating its mistakes. Yet nearly as often, our short-term memory fails us. Many have already forgotten how deep and daunting our shared crisis was in the winter of 2009, as President Obama was inaugurated. It was no ordinary challenge, and the president served as the nation’s calm through a historically turbulent storm.

The president’s response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them.

He knew we had to get people back to work as quickly as possible — but he also knew that the value of a recovery lies in its durability. Short-term healing had to be paired with an economy that would stay healthy over the long run. And he knew that happens best by investing in the right places.

President Obama invested in our children’s schools because he believes a good education is a necessity, not a luxury, if we’re going to create an economy built to last. He supported more than 400,000 K-12 teachers’ jobs, and he is making college more affordable and making student loans, like the ones he took out, easier to pay back.

He invested in our runways, railways and roads. President Obama knows a reliable infrastructure that helps move people to work and helps businesses move goods to market is a foundation of growth.

And the president invested in our retirement security by strengthening Medicare. The $716 billion in savings his opponents decry today extended the life of the program by nearly a decade and are making sure taxpayer dollars aren’t wasted in excessive payments to insurance companies or fraud and abuse. His opponents would end the Medicare guarantee by creating a voucher that would raise seniors’ costs by thousands of dollars and bankrupt the program.

We have more work to do, more investments to make and more waste to cut. But only one candidate in this race has proven a willingness to navigate a realistic path to prosperity.

As Republicans gather in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney, Americans can expect to hear tales of how President Obama has failed to work with their party or turn the economy around.

But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they’ve proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.

The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.

The Bush-Cheney era, not just the president and vice president, but most conservatives in elected office pushed far Right. That failed. It was what one pundit called a colossal clusterf**k. They trashed the economy and made no rational plans for the nation’s future. What did conservatives learn from their colossal failure/ They needed to be further right and more radical. The conservative urban myth industry has grown bigger and more shrill. All to preserve the illusion that Republicans can be good leaders even though the last four have left disasters for someone else to clean up. They could not even confine themselves to trashing America, they spread the destruction to tens of thousands of miles away and spent the nation’s treasures, and lives to do so. Mitt Romney and Paul Romney are just Bush-Cheney on speed. If these conservatives were your children they’d keep knocking their heads against the wall. After telling them to stop a half dozen times – they’re hurting themselves and the wall – if they persisted you’d take them in for a mental check-up.  This article gets into some of the reasons why, having been proved wrong over and over again, conservatives cling more tenaciously than ever to a failed and fundamentally anti-American philosophy – The “backfire effect” – Why Do People Believe Stupid Stuff, Even When They’re Confronted With the Truth?

 

This is a devastating report by People For The American Way – Predatory Privatization: Exploiting Financial Hardship, Enriching the 1%, Undermining Democracy

Through privatization schemes that directly sell off assets that belong to the public, legislators enrich corporate interests at the expense of the long-term interests of the American people in assets their taxes have helped build. The privatization of the people’s assets is essentially permanent. Once buildings and lands are sold off to the private sector by a temporary legislative majority, those assets that may have taken years to build or maintain are lost forever to private, nondemocratic control.

The agenda of privatization schemers was manifest at last August’s American Legislative Exchange Council meeting in New Orleans where ALEC members urged that the government, meaning the people, should not own buildings but should sell them to the private sector, which could then lease the space back to the government at a profit. Their aim is to make the private sector the landlords of our public spaces to accrue more profit for the few while rendering “we the people” the tenants of corporations in the halls of our democracy. In 2009, the state of Arizona even mortgaged its own capitol complex to investors and turned the legislature itself into a tenant.

I know economics call be boring, but it is important to know that much of this privatization agenda is part and parcel of the conservative desire to turn the U.S. into a nation of rent seeking. The billionaires that compose the radical Right PACS are perfect examples. They bring very little to the national table in terms of innovation, values, goods or services – like Romney they exploit the power of money to make more money. Even the NYT’s David Brooks famously admitted that Romney had to sell himself to the public as someone who created value by trimming the fat from companies – in many cases the fat was jobs that were sent to Asia.

A study released last fall by the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight found, for example, that in 33 of 35 occupations, the government paid billions more to hire contractors than it would have cost to have the same functions performed by government employees.

Some privatization efforts are windfalls that enrich major corporations or politically connected local businesses at the expense of taxpayers. Sometimes the cause is simply a mismatch between the resources and expertise of a public official and a major Wall Street firm.

“There’s a reason that there’s been so much enthusiasm in the finance community for privatization deals. You are dealing with a less savvy partner,” said David Johnson, a partner in a firm that advises struggling municipalities. “The bigger sucker is always the government.” Privatization can be good business, whether successful or not. When privatization plans fail and government steps back in, politically connected financiers brokers, and law firms can still walk away with millions of taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps worst of all, privatization can undermine good public policy and democratic decision making. Turning tax dollars and control of public services over to companies whose overriding incentive is to maximize profits can lead to long-term costs and sometimes devastating consequences.

In February, surveying the privatization push at the state level, economist Paul Krugman suggested that Madison, Wisconsin, in 2011 was similar to Baghdad in 2003, when Bush administration officials’ top priority was to “corporatize and privatize state-owned enterprises” and to “wean people from the idea the state supports everything.” Krugman notes that author Naomi Klein, in her book “Shock Doctrine,” put the Baghdad fiasco in a larger context in which “right-wing ideologues have exploited crises to push through an agenda that has nothing to do with resolving those crises, and everything to do with imposing their vision of a harsher, more unequal, less democratic society.” And such policies also put more profits in the hands of their political allies and election funders.

Like every other rent seeker Romney just cannot fathom why we should have public porperty, a public sphere, GOP Land Grab

To Romney and others in his party, all public assets look ripe for privatization

“Unless there’s a valid, and legitimate, and compelling governmental purpose, I don’t know why the government owns so much of this land,” Romney said while campaigning in Nevada earlier this year.

Elections are supposed to be, in part, a vehicle through which the people determine how the state will use its powers to allocate public and private wealth.

Sometimes the people’s will is thwarted. In 2001 and 2003, President George W. Bush–who received 500,000 fewer votes than Al Gore–and the Republican Congress cut taxes. According to the New York Times, between 2002 and 2009 these cuts reduced tax revenues by about $1.8 trillion. Those who benefited most from the cuts were the richest Americans. So in effect, America’s millionaires had hundreds of billions of dollars deposited, through the legislative process, into their pockets.

Another way resources will be redistributed–if the Republicans have their way–is the privatization of public assets.

Think of all the riches tied up in our public education system. At the Koch-funded Heartland Institute, President Joseph Bast said: “We see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling. In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime.”

We can argue about America’s education system all day, but how can anyone think that turning our schools into the ideological equivalent of Rush Limbaugh factories be good for our children. That would be dumping down primary education that is already watered down so it doesn’t teach much beyond arithmetic and reading.

An interesting find in the Bain document dump, Romney’s Management Fee Conversions

In the 2000s it became common for private equity fund managers to “convert” their management fees into carried interest.  There are many variations on the theme, but here’s how many deals worked: each year, before the annual management fee comes due, the fund manager waives the management fee in exchange for a priority allocation of future profits.  There is minimal economic risk involved; as long as the fund, at some point, has a profitable quarter, the managers get paid.  (If the managers don’t foresee any future profits, they won’t waive the fees, and they will take cash instead.)   In exchange for a minimal amount of economic risk, the tax benefit is enormous: the compensation is transformed from ordinary income (taxed at 35%) into capital gain (taxed at 15%).  Because the management fees for a large private equity fund can be ten or twenty million per year, the tax dodge can literally save millions in taxes every year.

The problem is that it is not legal.

That writer is an expert in corporate tax law so he may be on to something.

A very good write-up of Neil Armstrong at Boing Boing, Neil Armstrong 1930-2012: One Giant Loss for Mankind. From the end of the press release by his family,

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Neil Armstrong 1930-2012. Image credit NASA

Neil Armstrong On the Lunar Surface Image Credit NASA.

Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin’s panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface.

This link also has some interesting background info and a video, The Inspiration behind Neil Armstrong’s Immortal Words

 

Billiards wallpaper – Welcome to the Sleazy Hypocritical World of RNC Chairman Reince Priebus

Billiards wallpaper

David Krone, Harry Reid’s chief of staff, denounces GOP ‘cowards’

The war over Mitt Romney’s tax returns is getting more bitter by the moment, with a top aide to Senate Majority Harry Reid blasting Republicans as “cowards” and “henchmen” for their attacks on the Nevada Democrat.

“They’re a bunch of cowards, and they’re avoiding the issue,” said David Krone, Reid’s chief of staff, in an interview with POLITICO on Sunday night. “Lindsey Graham, Reince Priebus — they’re a bunch of henchmen for Romney, and they’re all reading off the same talking points. They couldn’t hold a candle to Harry Reid.”

Krone added: “What Harry Reid said is the fact of what he was told. To turn it around, all their childish rants this weekend about calling Reid a ‘liar’ and all that, it just shows you how scared they are that Harry Reid was telling the truth.”

Krone’s comments are the latest round in what has becoming an increasingly bitter — and personal fight — between Reid and Romney and Republicans over Reid’s assertion that Romney has not paid taxes for a decade.

Reid first made the charge in an interview with The Huffington Post on Tuesday, saying he was told this by an as-yet-unidentified investor in Bain Capital, the investment fund that Romney co-founded in 1984. Reid later repeated the claim on the Senate floor, infuriating the Romney campaign and GOP senators.

One of the reason I had not posted about what Sen. Reid (D-NV) said is that like most of the reality based community I like my documentation, my studies and charts. Some Democratic bloggers have torn into Reid for not following that tradition. What Reid is doing, whether one approves of the tactic or not is one on which so much of conservative electoral tactics are based. I linked to this video the other day in which a young woman says she “heard” that President Obama has sympathies with radical Muslim ( never mind that this is the president and national security team that has killed so many terrorists, included Bin Laden). Where did she get that impression? From the Republican disinformation machine – from Fox News to Limbaugh to conservative bloggers. No fact checking required, no documentation. Obama has produced a certified copy of his birth certificate, a record of live birth and the hospital where he was born has verified he was born in Hawaii – a third of Republicans still believe he was born outside the U.S. What has Reid done, say that someone told him, a Bain insider, a former business associate, that he did not think Romney had paid his proper taxes for years. Dirty or not Romney and his faux outraged apologists could make this all go away tomorrow by doing one simple thing, release Romney’s tax records for the last ten years. The complete records, not just snippets. Harry Reid is not dumb and he is not one to shoot from the hip. By provoking Romney and the tax records scandal,, Reid has put Republicans on the defensive. Conservative suck at defense. Thus we have the sleazy and desperate RNC chairman Reince Priebus attacking Harry Reid, businessman, grandfather and Mormon with he is a “dirty liar”. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) saying he cannot believe that Harry is ” make accusations that are absolutely unfounded, in my view, and quite frankly making things up to divert the campaign away from the real issues.” What documentation does Graham have to prove that Harry is wrong. In baseball this is called an unforced error. Lindsay and Priebus have both put themselves in the position of knowing, of having the facts. Yet here the nation waits to see those facts, those tax returns that prove that Reid at least used poor judgement in repeating something someone told him.

Is RNC Chairman Reince Priebus really the go-to guy to break bad on Reid or anyone? Reince is a well documented sleazeball, hypocrite and liar. RNC Chair Priebus Criticizes Obama For Cutting Medicare, Then Touts Paul Ryan’s Medicare Busting Budget. As most of us know Obamacare cuts cost and did away with government subsidies of gold plated – what are called Medicare gap plans – it does not cut Medicare. Reince lied. The facts are out there in legislation passed by Congress for anyone to read. Reince doesn’t care if the Ryan plan becomes law and by June of every year grandma and grandpa are down on the corner begging for money to pay for the gap left by Ryan’s notorious voucher plan.

Priebus is a conservative and like every two faced cowardly conservative he has the courage of his convictions, Meet Newly-Elected RNC Chair Reince Priebus

Priebus’s law firm sought funds from Obama’s stimulus package: Connecticut GOP chairman Chris Healy noted that Priebus’s Wisconsin law firm helped its clients obtain federal stimulus funds, citing the fact that Priebus’s name was attached to the “Stimulus and Economic Recovery Group.” Priebus immediately responded to the story, claiming he had never worked with his firm’s “Stimulus and Economic Recovery” group.

Just like Romney’s name was on all those SEC documents, but he had nothing to do with Bain.

Like all conservatives Preibus has high and thoroughly consistent values, While Demanding Weiner’s Resignation, RNC Chairman Refuses To Discuss Vitter Prostitution Scandal. Well, like other conservatives Preibus has values depending on the situation. They’re called relative values. values that shift more frequently than the tides.

Conservative Republicans pushed for and thoroughly gutted financial regulation and when they were in power from 2000 to 2008 they did not enforce what regulations we did have. Having pushed the economy into an open grave and throwing dirt in the face of the middle-class they stole $17 trillion in wealth from, they have been tossing peanuts from the gallery ever sense, On Three Year Anniversary Of Stimulus, GOP Goes Into High Gear Falsely Claiming It Failed

RNC CHAIRMAN REINCE PRIEBUS: “Three years ago today, President Obama signed his ‘Stimulus’ into law, and it’s clear, by Obama’s own standards, that his signature economic plan has been an abject failure.”

…As economists Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi wrote in their study “How the Great Recession was Brought to an End,” the effects of the stimulus were “very substantial, raising 2010 real GDP by about 3.4%, holding the unemployment rate about 1½ percentage points lower, and adding almost 2.7 million jobs to U.S. payrolls.”

Anyone ever need a bratty smart-ass to hurl garbage give Preibus a call, it is the one thing he has qualifications for.

Reince Priebus Flat-Out Lied on Meet the Press (w/video). Even some liberals have forgotten the historically successful legislative accomplishments of the Obama administrations first year. Preibus knows better because he hates every single one of them from the Children’s Health Insurance Program Re-authorization Act –  Pub.L. 111-3 to the Tax Relief  Unemployment Insurance Re-authorization  and Job Creation Act of 2010 –  Pub.L. 111-312 and the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act –  Pub.L. 111-203.

Reince would be pro democracy and against tyranny right? They do not seem to know what those words mean, but Republicans say them a lot. So why has Reince been part of the systematic disenfranchisement of American voters. Going so far as to participate in vote caging, Priebus’ Republican National Committee: A Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Koch’s Americans for Prosperity?

As reported in November by Sarah Posner for the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute (and reprinted by AlterNet [5]), Americans for Prosperity was implicated, together with the Republican Party of Wisconsin, in a voter-caging scheme designed to challenge the votes of university students in Milwaukee, and voters in a largely African American assembly district in the city. With the election of Priebus last week to the helm of the national GOP, AlterNet decided to take a second look at the scheme, and found Priebus’ own chief counsel deeply involved, providing lists to Tea Party activists of voters targeted for purging from the rolls.

Priebus is to decency, honor and democracy what a flesh eating spore is to good health. He is the chairman of the RNC.

Preibus and Romney are two peas from the same pod, Why Does Mitt Romney Want To Restrict Voting Rights For More Than 900,000 Ohio Veterans?

Our guest blogger is Jon Soltz (@jonsoltz) is a two-tour Iraq veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.org.

When I read stories this weekend that said the Obama campaign was suing to restrict the voting rights of military in Ohio, my blood got boiling. Of course, Think Progress has already documented that story, inflamed by the Romney campaign, is patently false. In fact, the Obama campaign was suing to block an Ohio law which restricts a very successful early voting program in the state. The President’s campaign was trying to keep expanded voting rights in place for everyone, military included. So, why am I still so disturbed?

Because Mitt Romney, by supporting the Ohio law that would do away with three days of early voting for all but those covered under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voter Act (‘UOCAVA’), is supporting the restriction of voting rights for as many as 913,000 Ohio veterans. This includes military retirees with over 20 years of service and multiple deployments. In short, Mitt Romney supports efforts to make voting more difficult for the very people who have put their lives on the line after swearing an oath to uphold our Constitution and democracy.

Once you leave the military, you are no longer covered by UOCAVA. Your voting rights are the same as any civilian. That means the early voting law which Mitt Romney wants to undo, provided hundreds of thousands of Ohio veterans with more of an opportunity to vote. By all accounts, Ohio voters liked and used the early voting law. In 2008, nearly one-third of all ballots was cast under the early voting measures, surely many of them veterans.

Interestingly, the press reported that 15 military and veterans’ groups supported Romney’s position. That isn’t the case. Those groups actually petitioned the court to be involved in the case, because of their concerns that the end result, whatever it was, might hurt troops’ ability to vote. On Friday, the Obama Campaign actually signed a brief to the court that backed the petition of those groups – welcoming them into the case, because the Obama campaign says it wants to ensure that military voters aren’t kept from early voting. Now that we know the truth, I hope those groups will come out and fully support the President’s campaign, in court. Because if they don’t, the change in law will hurt so many who have served in uniform.

So, how is the law about to change? Under the previous statute, Ohioans were allowed to vote early, all the way up to election day. Under the new law that the Obama campaign is seeking to block, almost all Ohioans will not be able to vote early starting three days before the election – doing away with weekend voting, which was the easiest for those with a full time job, or multiple jobs.

For veterans, most of whom have full-time work, often in jobs they can’t leave during the day, that lessens their ability to vote.

We’ve already seen what a non-early-voting Ohio looks like. We saw it in 2004, when in many polling places had extremely long lines (especially in urban areas), and polling places were shut down before everyone in line had a chance to vote. Non-early voting, quite literally, resulted in the disenfranchisement of voters. That’s what Mitt Romney wants to go back to. That’s what he wants to subject nearly a million Ohio veterans to, after they wore the uniform, and swore their lives to uphold our Constitution, including the right to vote.

My question for Mitt Romney is simple: “Why won’t you join the Obama lawsuit in Ohio, and protect our veterans’ right to vote?”

Romney will not join in to do what is right for every voter, including veterans because he has sworn his ideological fidelity to the Reince Priebus wing of conservatism: why do the right thing when you can whip up some kool-aid addled outrage from the knuckle-draggers who Mitt is depending on to put him in the White House.

“Mitt Romney was attacking Obama about our failing education system. He has a point. We are graduating millions of people in this country who are so lacking in basic analytical skills, they are considering voting for Mitt Romney.” –Bill Maher

Bulletin: Alleged Sikh Temple Shooter Former Member of Skinhead Band. Skinhead is just another word for Neo-Nazi. And this just came in, FBI: Seeking second “person of interest” in Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting

Canal Street, New Orleans,1890s – The Moral Corruption of Conservative Republicans Seems To Have No Limits

Canal Street from the Clay Monument, New Orleans, 1890s

The street cars towards the center back were pulled by mule as the city was not yet capable
of supporting electric street cars. Electrification would occur around 1894. The long dark dresses of the women on the street must have been a challenge by way of keeping up appearances. While they’re difficult to see in the thumb-nail, there are plenty of road apples in the street. And can you imagine how the women and men – with long sleeve shirts, vests and jacket felt in the summer heat of New Orleans.

I bookmarked this and forgot about it. Since Romney and his apologists keep trying to paint a picture of Romney as a “successful” “capitalist” it is still current, Mitt Romney Is A Capitalist The Way A Bank Robber Is A Champion Of The Free Market

The phrase “private equity” conjures up images of venture capitalists pooling their funds and backing promising new ventures or contributing new equity and new management to companies in need of restructuring. But that is not how the game really works most of the time. Typically, private-equity companies borrow a ton of money, sometimes in collusion with incumbent management and sometimes in opposition to it, and take a company private. That is, the company’s shares are no longer publicly traded.

This maneuver has several advantages to the new owners. First, despite the picture of investors putting in equity, most of the money is usually borrowed. That produces a huge tax break, since the interest is tax-deductible. Second, the new owners can pay themselves large management fees as well as “special dividends.” Typically, they take out far more than they put in, by incurring debts carried on the books of the operating company.

For instance, when Bain masterminded a private-equity deal for HCA, one of America’s largest for-profit hospital chains (which has gone from private to public twice and which paid a multibillion-dollar fine for defrauding Medicare), Bain paid itself a management fee of $58 million, even though it had only put up 6.3 percent of the buyout fund.

Many Americans, I hope still a majority, think of capitalism as working hard and getting ahead based on merit. In the real world of the American workplace there are inequities – office poetics, favoritism and various forms of discrimination. Even with that in mind most of us like to think that it is a fair system that at most, could use a few tweaks. Romney and Bain always had part of their ventures underwritten by the American people. Romney, Fox News and various assclowns want us all to believe that people like Romney create profits solely through their own ingenuity, their own hard work without the help of anyone else. Based on the tax incentives and write-offs alone that is far from an accurate picture. Romney and the rest of the elite take risks? Putting up 6.3 % of the money, most of that borrowed is hardly the risk the average family takes when it makes a decision about what job to take or whether to move to another state to seek another job.

Then, there are three possible ways to cash in.  If the company turns out to be a success, like Staples (one of Bain’s big winners), the private-equity owners can take their legitimate share of the reward. But that turns out to be the exception. If the company, newly loaded up with debt, starts to falter, it can be broken up, with massive layoffs and cuts in health and pension benefits, and resold, usually at a profit for the private-equity owners.

Or the company can simply declare bankruptcy under Chapter 11 and shed its debts. Normally, shareholders think twice about incurring risks that could result in  bankruptcy, because one of the consequences is that the stock becomes worthless. But private-equity owners typically have already made their bundle on management fees and special dividend payouts, so even if the operating company goes bankrupt, they are still in the money.

Mitt Romney captain of capitalism or wealthy exploiter of the system. Fox News and columnists at the WSJ have taken to calling Romney and the top 1% producers and everyone else, takers. A more accurate picture would be weaselly con artists at the top make tons of unearned wealth, while the rest of America works for every penny.

Among the tales Kosman tells: Thomas H. Lee Partners buys Warner Music, the world’s fourth-biggest music company, and loads up the company with debt to finance the buyout and to pay itself $1.2 billion in dividends. One-third of the workforce is fired. CD&R, The Carlyle Group, and Merrill Lynch buy Hertz, the nation’s largest auto-rental company, putting up just $2.3 billion in cash out of a $15 billion deal. The private-equity owners quickly recoup more than half of their down payment by loading up the company with even more debt. Funds for rental operations are cut by 39 percent, and Hertz’s market share falls. In another example, Bain Capital, the company that made Mitt Romney rich, invests just $18.5 million in KB Toys, extracts $85 million in dividends, then takes the company into bankruptcy, stiffing employees, investors, and creditors.

Romney flunkies can jump up and down throwing a temper tantrum, yelling this is legal all day. That does not mean it is moral or reflects well on the character of someone who claims his character and job creation record are two of his biggest qualifications for president.

Speaking of character issues. There may have been a tendency for moderate minded Americans to think that Bush 43 and his Congressional pushed such a radical right-wing agenda that our fellow citizens would say never again. Yet the tea smokers ran to the right of Bush in 2010 and took control of the House of Representatives. I don’t know what the internet trolls, who insist there is no daylight between Democrats and Republicans, smoke but they need to stop. The conservative movement’s moral corruption seems to be bottomless. Romney To Release Misleadingly Edited Obama Video As An Ad, this link goes into better detail, CNN Facilitates Romney’s Deceptive Highly Edited Video Attack Ad Against Obama

In a July 19 article headlined, “Romney drives a truck through Obama’s ‘build that’ remark,” CNN.com reported on a new ad from the Mitt Romney campaign that attacked President Obama over his recent remarks about small businesses, without pointing out that the ad dishonestly edited Obama’s comments to portray him as anti-business.

Furthermore, here’s the way CNN described the Romney ad: ” ‘These Hands’ [is] about an owner in charge of a family business who challenges Obama’s claim that his family did not build their business on their own.” Again, CNN did not inform readers that Obama made no such claim in his remarks.

In the Romney campaign ad, Obama is heard saying:

If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be ’cause I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something: If you’ve got a business, that — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.

As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted, however, a big chunk of Obama’s words was removed from that excerpt, making it seem as if Obama said what he said there concurrently:

In the video, the speech is made to sound as if Obama continued straight from “let me tell you something” to “if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” But here are the words that Obama said between those two sentences that were cut out (the missing sentences are in bold):

Let me tell you something. There are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.

CNN reported none of this, instead sticking to the he said/she said style of journalism that has been so thoroughly criticized.

As others have noted this is Obama’s version of Elizabeth Warren’s view that fine, you built a business, you deserve credit and a nice chuck of the profits, but you did not create that business in a vacuum. A lot of infrastructure – fire protection, the navy, public universities, educated employes, sometimes tax write-offs, etc. were an ingredient to your success. As a matter of fact several host at Fox News used Elizabeth Warren’s argument and Obama’s, Fox Hosts Adopt Elizabeth Warren’s Argument That Rich Don’t Make It On Their Own

During a segment on wealthy Americans who renounce their citizenship to avoid paying taxes, Clayton Morris offered up this advice to such persons: “Get out of here. But the point is, you’ve made all this money on the backs of the infrastructure, taxpayers that got you there, the roads that taxpayers pay so you can drive back and forth to work to get rich on a regular basis, and now you’re going to leave so you’re not going to pay taxes.”

Alisyn Camerota added, “[A]re they just greedy? I mean, are they just — after this country allowed you the entrepreneurial spirit, the freedom to make all this money, now you’re going to leave it? I mean, that does send the message that you care more about your money than you do about your country.”

If anyone else uses Clayton or Alisyn’s argument, you’re left-wing radical out to destroy America’s entrepreneurial spirit or a raging Marxist. Yet we know that most Americans work harder for 99% less money than Romney. When Romney runs this ad, I think it has started in some markets, it will be further confirmation that Romney can surpass George W. Bush and the tea smokers in the race to the bottom of the moral gutter. If what these pin-striped thieves, stooges, miscreants, charlatans, and two-faced parasites stand for passes for morality and patriotism, this country is in for a world of hurt. They may even manage to make the Great Recession look like the good old days.

Top tea partier demands Obama prove he doesn’t smoke crack and have gay sex

The president of Tea Party Nation declared on Thursday that if Mitt Romney is to release his tax returns, President Barack Obama should release medical records to prove he’s not a drug addict who smoked crack and had gay sex with a lifelong con-man.

Judson Phillips, whose for-profit group is better known to Tennessee as the “Tea Party Nation Corporation,” explained in an essay that also went out in a mass email to his followers that the American people must know whether the president had secret financial support in college due to his status as a “foreign student” — and dredged up a long-disproved story of Obama’s alleged encounter smoking crack and having sex with a gay prostitute.

“A man named Larry Sinclair claims that in 1999 he and Barack Obama had sex and then smoked crack cocaine,” Phillips wrote. “This is 1999, nine years before Obama would run for President. Crack cocaine is very addictive. It is very destructive. Addiction specialist will tell you that a crack addiction is very tough to break.”

He added: “Is Obama an addict?  Was he an addict in the past? These are all legitimate questions to ask about a man who has his hands on the nuclear trigger.

Dear Judson Phillips, as soon as you prove you do not have sex with animals in ally ways while drinking moonshine and shooting up heroin – which are rumors that deserve to be properly vetted, your concerns will be addressed. Isn’t this a fun game. Everyone gets to dig into the darkest part of their imagination, accuse others of being guilty of what you have imagined, and they are guilty until they can prove they’re innocent. Or maybe it is a sick tiresome game indicative of the depraved minds of fake patriots like Phillips, who has more in common with Muslim conservatives in Iran than Thomas Jefferson.

Louie Gohmert (R-TX): Aurora Shootings Result Of ‘Ongoing Attacks On Judeo-Christian Beliefs’. Which is kind of strange in light of this,James Holmes: From Quiet Kid To Accused Mass Killer, “His neighbors described him as a shy, Presbyterian churchgoing teen.” Let’s think like a conservative for a minute and draw the kind of cause and effect lines between events that Republicans draw. That means Presbyterians are a cult of murderers. Republicans do not do this once in a while – which would fall into the category of human flaws, they’re called attrition errors – Republicans  do them all the time about everything. Whooping cough disappear? Must have been because I buried that potato in the back yard under full moon. Not because the cough had run its course. And conservatives resent being called stupid.

 

 

Port Side Summer Sailing wallpaper – The Republican Party Is The Single Biggest Threat To Capitalism

Port Side Summer Sailing wallpaper

 

The Great Recession was a stick in the eye, a screaming naked nut in the highway median, the biggest garish neon sign in history saying that conservatives really really hate capitalism. That may sound shrill or hyperbolic, but anyone to the left of conservatives should get used to saying so. It is the truth. They and their policies – along with help from  some Democrats as usual, created the vulture economy, the crony capitalism society or the corporate collectivist society. An economy that makes sure wealth and the power that goes with it, is concentrated in the hands of 10% of the people. Where Marxism concentrated power in the hands of a government collective, Republicans have done much the same thing, except replacing the Marxist collective with a corporate one. On the surface it even looks to some people like we still live in a free market society. Capitalism or a free markets economy is good stuff. Well known historical experiments have tried to do better and been colossal failures. The text-book definition is something like an economic model where business creates products and services, and competes in selling goods and services. Workers are provide the labor which creates capital,  and have certain rights which employers should respect despite some unequal distribution of power. Workers are entitled to respect and dignity. That may seem simplistic, but workers literally struggled to have those rights for couple of thousand years. Government has a role to play in protecting both workers and business. David Brooks, the resident conservative intellectual at the NYT writes, The Capitalism Debate

Romney is going to have to define a vision of modern capitalism. He’s going to have to separate his vision from the scandals and excesses we’ve seen over the last few years. He needs to define the kind of capitalist he is and why the country needs his virtues.

Let’s face it, he’s not a heroic entrepreneur. He’s an efficiency expert. It has been the business of his life to take companies that were mediocre and sclerotic and try to make them efficient and dynamic. It has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer: take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them into shape.

That’s his selling point: rigor and productivity. If he can build a capitalist vision around that, he’ll thrive. If not, he’s a punching bag.

Brooks and Romney are continuing the conservative movement’s quest to redefine reality to fit the conservative vision. The immoral becomes the new morality. Greed, sleaze, cheating, short cuts, laziness –  become virtues. Brooks, Romney and Romney sycophants are in fact defining greed, sleazy business tactics and crony capitalism as the way things should be in the USA. These are the things we should stand for. If such redefining sounds impossible, thank back to the Bush 43 years in which that administration started counting fast food jobs as manufacturing jobs.  Suddenly its manufacturing job record did not look so bad. How is or has Romney practiced this corporate socialism, Romney’s Bain Yielded Private Gains, Socialized Losses

What’s clear from a review of the public record during his management of the private-equity firm Bain Capital from 1985 to 1999 is that Romney was fabulously successful in generating high returns for its investors. He did so, in large part, through heavy use of tax-deductible debt, usually to finance outsized dividends for the firm’s partners and investors. When some of the investments went bad, workers and creditors felt most of the pain. Romney privatized the gains and socialized the losses.

What’s less clear is how his skills are relevant to the job of overseeing the U.S. economy, strengthening competitiveness and looking out for the welfare of the general public, especially the middle class.

Thanks to leverage, 10 of roughly 67 major deals by Bain Capital during Romney’s watch produced about 70 percent of the firm’s profits. Four of those 10 deals, as well as others, later wound up in bankruptcy. It’s worth examining some of them to understand Romney’s investment style at Bain Capital.

In 1986, in one of its earliest deals, Bain Capital acquired Accuride Corp., a manufacturer of aluminum truck wheels. The purchase was 97.5 percent financed by debt, a high level of leverage under any circumstances. It was especially burdensome for a company that was exposed to aluminum-price volatility and cyclical automotive production.
Casino Capitalism

Forty-to-one leverage is casino capitalism that hugely magnifies gains and losses. Bain Capital wisely chose to flip the company fast: After 18 months, it sold Accuride, converting its $2.6 million sliver of equity into a $61 million capital gain. That deal, which yielded a 1,123 percent annualized return, was critical to Bain Capital’s early success and led the firm to keep maximizing the use of leverage.

In 1992, Bain Capital bought American Pad & Paper by financing 87 percent of the purchase price. In the next three years, Ampad borrowed to make acquisitions, repay existing debt and pay Bain Capital and its investors $60 million in dividends.

As a result, the company’s debt swelled from $11 million in 1993 to $444 million by 1995. The $14 million in annual interest expense on this debt dwarfed the company’s $4.7 million operating cash flow. The proceeds of an initial public offering in July 1996 were used to pay Bain Capital $48 million for part of its stake and to reduce the company’s debt to $270 million.

From 1993 to 1999, Bain Capital charged Ampad about $18 million in various fees. By 1999, the company’s debt was back up to $400 million. Unable to pay the interest costs and drained of cash paid to Bain Capital in fees and dividends, Ampad filed for bankruptcy the following year. Senior secured lenders got less than 50 cents on the dollar, unsecured lenders received two- tenths of a cent on the dollar, and several hundred jobs were lost. Bain Capital had reaped capital gains of $107 million on its $5.1 million investment.

Crony capitalist Mitt Romney

This is what Brooks calls whipping a company into shape. No valuable goods or services were produced. There was no net gain in jobs. There was no competing for who could produce the best of something. There was no income gain for the employees who became mere pawns in this little game. It was all about people with money and power exploiting the system to exploit the value created by labor for easy profits and socialized losses. Obviously some people think this is a great way, even a patriotic way to run an economy and a country. They feel so strongly about the virtues of corporate socialism, free market vulturism, that there is no name which opponents have not been called. I can understand the cynical self-absorbed Mitt Romneys of America thinking this is all great, but you have blue-collar Americans at anti-Obama rallies hoping that Romney and a conservative Congress can take us even deeper in the abyss of corporate collectivism. They do not care about outsourcing jobs, they do not care about the finer points of free trade, they do not care if the average workers loses even more economic and political power. They do not care that this shift in power is destroying the middle-class, leaving jobs for the extreme ends of the job spectrum – janitors and well trained specialists. They worship at the altar of Romneyism. Conservatives and Romney is no exception claim that too many Americans are lazy, yea that’s the problem. The big gov’mint is handing out all kinds of freebies. Pay no attention to the thieves in four thousand dollar suits, The Republican’s Social-Darwinist Budget Plan

So what’s the guiding principle here? Pure social Darwinism. Reward the rich and cut off the help to anyone who needs it.

Ryan says too many Americans rely on government benefits. “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency.”

Well, I have news for Paul Ryan. Almost 23 million able-bodied people still can’t find work. They’re not being lulled into dependency. They and their families could use some help. Even if the economy continues to generate new jobs at the rate it’s been going the last three months, we wouldn’t see normal rates of unemployment until 2017.

And most Americans who do have jobs continue to lose ground. New research by professors Emmanual Saez and Thomas Pikkety show that the average adjusted gross income of the bottom 90 percent was $29,840 in 2010 — down $127 from 2009 and down $4,842 from 2000 — and just slightly higher than it was forty-six years ago in 1966 (all figures adjusted for inflation).

They could use better schools, access to higher education, lower-cost health care, improved public transportation, and lots of other things Ryan and his colleagues are intent on removing.

Meanwhile, America’s rich continue to grow richer — and many of them (and their heirs) are being lulled into lives whose hardest task is summoning the help.

Ryan, Romney and Republicans have been creating this alternate version of reality for decades. That we live in a society that rewards able-bodied Americans for being lazy is as much a myth as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Who is the biggest recipient of welfare in the U.S. Who benefits most from taxes and infrastructure? Who is utterly reliant on government for their survival and historic levels of prosperity? Corporate America and the wealthy, Five Reasons the Super-Rich Need Government More Than the Rest of Us

Wealthy individuals and corporations want us to believe they’ve made it on their own, without the help of government or the American people. Billionaire financier Sanford Weill blustered, “We didn’t rely on somebody else to build what we built.” He was echoing the words of his famous predecessor, the formidable financier J. P. Morgan, who spouted, “I owe the public nothing.”

That’s the bull of Wall Street. There are at least five good reasons why the wealthiest Americans need government as much as the rest of us, and probably more.

1. Security

In his “People’s History,” Howard Zinn described colonial opposition to inequality in 1765: “A shoemaker named Ebenezer Macintosh led a mob in destroying the house of a rich Boston merchant named Andrew Oliver. Two weeks later, the crowd turned to the home of Thomas Hutchinson, symbol of the rich elite who ruled the colonies in the name of England. They smashed up his house with axes, drank the wine in his wine cellar, and looted the house of its furniture and other objects. A report by colony officials to England said that this was part of a larger scheme in which the houses of fifteen rich people were to be destroyed, as part of ‘a war of plunder, of general levelling and taking away the distinction of rich and poor.'”

That doesn’t happen much anymore. Of course, the super-rich aren’t taking any chances, with panic shelters and James Bond cars and personal surveillance drones. But the U.S. government will be helping them by spending $55 billion on Homeland Security next year, in addition to $673 billion for the military. The police, emergency services, and National Guard are trained to focus on crimes against wealth.

In the cities, business interests keep the police focused on the homeless and unemployed. And on drug users. A “Broken Windows” mentality, which promotes quick fixes of minor damage to discourage large-scale destruction, is being applied to human beings. Wealthy Americans can rest better at night knowing that the police are “stopping and frisking” in the streets of the poor neighborhoods.

2. Laws and Deregulations

The wealthiest Americans are the main beneficiaries of tax laws, property rights, zoning rules, patent and copyright provisions, trade pacts, antitrust legislation, and contract regulations. Tax loopholes allow them to store over $1 trillion in assets overseas.

Their companies benefit, despite any publicly voiced objections to regulatory agencies, from SBA and SEC guidelines that generally favor business, and from FDA and USDA quality control measures that minimize consumer complaints and product recalls.

The growing numbers of financial industry executives have profited from 30 years of deregulation, most notably the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Lobbying by the financial industry has prolonged the absurdity of a zero sales tax on financial transactions.

Big advantages accrue for multinational corporations from trade agreements like NAFTA, with international disputes resolved by the business-friendly World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and World Trade Organization. Federal judicial law protects our biggest companies from foreign infringement. The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership would put governments around the world at the mercy of corporate decision-makers.

The euphemistically named JOBS Act further empowers business, exempting startups from regulatory accounting requirements.

There are even anti-antitrust measures, such as the licensing rules that allow the American Medical Association to restrict the number of doctors in the U.S., thereby keeping doctor salaries artificially high. Can’t have a free market if it hurts business.

3. Research and Infrastructure

A publicly supported communications infrastructure allows the richest 10% of Americans to manipulate their 80% share of the stock market. CEOs rely on roads and seaports and airports to ship their products, the FAA and TSA and Coast Guard and Department of Transportation to safeguard them, a nationwide energy grid to power their factories, and communications towers and satellites to conduct online business. Private jets use 16 percent of air traffic control resources while paying only 3% of the bill.

Perhaps most important to business, even as it focuses on short-term profits, is the long-term basic research that is largely conducted with government money. Especially for the tech industry. Taxpayer-funded research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the Internet) and the National Science Foundation (the Digital Library Initiative) has laid a half-century foundation for technological product development. Well into the 1980s, as companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft and Oracle and Cisco profited from the fastest-growing product revolution in American history, the U.S. Government was still providing half the research funds. Even today 60% of university research is government-supported.

Public schools have helped to train the chemists, physicists, chip designers, programmers, engineers, production line workers, market analysts, and testers who create modern technological devices. They, in turn, can’t succeed without public layers of medical support and security. All of them contribute to the final product.

As the super-rich ride in their military-designed armored cars to a financial center globally connected by public fiber optics networks to make a trade guided by publicly funded data mining and artificial intelligence software, they might stop and re-think the old Horatio Alger myth.

4. Subsidies

The traditional image of ‘welfare’ pales in comparison to corporate welfare and millionaire welfare. Whereas over 90% of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families goes to the elderly, the disabled, or working households, most of the annual $1.3 trillion in “tax expenditures” (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, and loopholes) goes to the top quintile of taxpayers. One estimate is $250 billion a year just to the richest 1%.

Senator Tom Coburn’s website reports that mortgage interest and rental expense deductions alone return almost $100 billion a year to millionaires. (Americans that make $30k a year subsidize mansions for millionaires. Your kid’s college costs more because some people just have to have four bathrooms)

The most profitable corporations get the biggest subsidies. The Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in financial assistance to financial institutions and corporations. According to Citizens for Tax Justice, 280 profitable Fortune 500 companies, which together paid only half of the maximum 35 percent corporate tax rate, received $223 billion in tax subsidies.

Even the conservative Cato Institute admitted that the U.S. federal government spent $92 billion on corporate welfare during fiscal year 2006. Recipients included Boeing, Xerox, IBM, Motorola, Dow Chemical, and General Electric.

In agriculture, most of the funding for commodity programs goes to large agribusiness corporations such as Archer Daniels Midland. For the oil industry, estimates of subsidy payments range from $10 to $50 billion per year.

5. Disaster Costs

Exxon spokesperson Ken Cohen once said: “Any claim we don’t pay taxes is absurd…ExxonMobil is a leading U.S. taxpayer.” Added Chevron CEO John Watson: “The oil and gas industry pays its fair share in taxes” But SEC documents show that Exxon paid 2% in U.S. federal taxes from 2008 to 2010, Chevron 4.8%.

As if to double up on the insult, the petroleum industry readily takes public money for oil spills. Cleanups cost much more than the fines imposed on the companies. Government costs can run into the billions, or even tens of billions, of dollars.

Another disaster-prone industry is finance, from which came the encouraging words of Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein: “Everybody should be, frankly, happy…the financial system led us into the crisis and it will lead us out.”

Estimates for bailout funds from the Treasury and the Federal Reserve range between $3 trillion and $5 trillion. That’s enough to pay off both the deficit and next year’s entitlement costs. All because of the irresponsibility of the super-salaried CEOs of our most profitable corporations.

 

Where is that old old fashioned free market capitalism at work. The wealthy are taking few risks and as we all know when they fail they get a bail-out so the rest of us do not go down the toilet. What did Obama get for basically continuing the policies that Republicans voted for with TARP, Wall Street is now giving most of its cash to Romney. Mostly because Obama hurt their feelings and the very modest Frank-Dodd reforms might be enforced in Obama’s second term. Real capitalist know that something really awful might happen if the big banks were broken up, they would have to compete and no one wants that, or at least no conservative wants that. So which political movement is closer, based on what they actually do, to practicing some kind of collectivism? Republican by a mile.

A couple of Democratic bloggers have made the case that all this Bain stuff does not matter with most voters. Certainly the radical right made up its mind before the Republican primaries were even finished. Short of video of Romney beating a disabled man in a wheel chair with a bat ( though even that will not change the mind of many far right conservatives) changes in the polls will come in small degrees and they are changing, CHART: Americans’ Interest In Bain Capital Spikes On Google, Twitter

But independent polling finds otherwise. A Washington Post/ABC News poll found last week that voters in eight battleground states saw Romney’s business experience negatively. “Compared with February, more people in the eight states identified as ‘toss­ups’ by The Washington Post now say Romney did more to cut than create jobs in the United States when he worked as a corporate investor before entering politics,” according to the Post. “And twice as many swing-state voters consider Romney’s work in buying and restructuring companies a reason to oppose, rather than to support, his candidacy.”

A June 26 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 33 percent of swing-state voters see Romney’s business experience negatively versus just 18 percent who see it as an asset.

 

When they’re running against Romney even conservatives can smell the moral corruption, John McCain (R-AZ) directly attacked Romney over Bain, arguing that “as head of his investment company he presided over the acquisition of companies that laid off thousands of workers.” “The idea that you’ve got private equity companies that come in and take companies apart so they can make profits and have people lose their jobs, that’s not what the Republican Party’s about.” — Rick Perry(R) [New York Times, 1/12/12]

The Hypocrisy Report: Democrats Mock GOP For Protecting Own Health Care In Repeal Vote

Democrats are mocking Republicans in the House of Representatives for voting to repeal the health care reform law and keep their own enhanced medical care.

When Congress passed the health care law, it required members of Congress to get their insurance on exchanges with the rest of the public. But in voting to repeal that law, Republicans and a handful of Democrats were also voting to go back to the old system where the lawmakers get a sweeter deal than most of the rest of the country.

They also voted against a Democratic motion that said members of Congress who support repealing the health care law must also repeal the good stuff they get, such as lifetime care and insurance regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Democrats tried to demonstrate how Republicans distanced themselves from voting to protect their own deal by capturing a slew of GOP members on video saying they didn’t vote to protect their own care, as seen below. The clip features a number of Republicans in tight races this year, as well as GOP budget guru, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

“House Republicans refuse to admit they voted to give themselves taxpayer funded lifetime guaranteed health care instead of having the same health care as their constituents,” said Jesse Ferguson, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, referring to the fact that members of Congress are eligible for retirement benefits after just five years.

“House Republicans didn’t just vote to protect insurance company campaign donor profits this time, they’re even helping themselves to lifetime taxpayer-funded government health care and now they need to be honest with their constituents and admit it,” Ferguson said.

 

And to top that off. Tea bagger conservatives were going to return old the old plastic roots of conservatism, Seven Tea Party Freshmen Spent More Than $100,000 In Taxpayer Money On Personal Cars. A special shout-out to Sean Duffy (R-WI) who had previously whined about getting by on his $174,000 a year congressional salary. Anyone have a photo of someone twisting Duffy’s arm forcing him to run for Congress or using taxpayer funds for a new car?

Antique World Map of Continents and Oceans – After Years of Producing Economic Calamity, Republicans Hope For Another Chance

Antique World Map of Continents and Oceans,1700 CE. This was done by English mathematician and clergyman Edward Wells (1667-1727).

 

Of course Republicans have been trying to shift blame for their management of the economy from 2000 to 2008 on Democrats. Conservatives despite all the shrill noise to contrary have never been big on accepting responsibility. There hubris tends to be a big hurdle to having enough humility for Republican politicians and pundits to accept responsibility. Not to let them off the hook, but the conservatives next door, your neighbors and co-workers just have a difficult time assimilating reality. They watch Fox and they are assured that all the wacky stuff the pundits put out is true. Cutting through all the sub-divisions of conservative Republicans is the belief that some how Obama is responsible for the slow recovery. That narrative is running parallel to the narrative of conservative governors who claim they are making steady progress in their states. So we have to believe two competing conservative narratives. The country is doing so badly only a new president can turn things around and the part of the country that has conservative governors is going great so reelect them. Romney has noticed and asked that Republican governors stop touting any economic positives because it is hurting his campaign – Discussing The Economic Recovery Will Hurt My Election Chances. Some liberals have expressed disappointment in Obama as well. They might want to back up and consider, along with your average Main Street conservative, the measures conservatives have taken to weaken and stall the economic recovery.  Economists Agree Romney’s Plan Would Spark a New Recession

The private sector of the U.S. economy has added jobs for the past 27 months in a row, corporate profits have hit an all-time high, and the U.S. auto industry is back, with manufacturers consistently adding jobs for the longest period since the mid-1990s. Still, as President Barack Obama has said, “we are still not creating (jobs) as fast as we want.” And the biggest hurdle to swifter job creation is the embrace of austerity by Republicans in Congress who refuse to implement measures that would boost employment—a position supported by their presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

This austerity has real—negative—economic consequences. Increasingly, economists are pointing to austerity as a key reason for too-slow job creation. Despite considerable warnings from economic experts that government spending is critical to creating jobs, conservative leaders in Congress are inflicting these austerity programs on us at the federal, state, and local level. According to Yale economists Ben Polak and Peter Schott:

Without this hidden austerity program, the economy would look very different. If state and local governments had followed the pattern of the previous two recessions, they would have added 1.4 million to 1.9 million jobs and overall unemployment would be 7.0 to 7.3 percent instead of 8.2 percent.

Even though austerity is not good for the U.S. economy, this is exactly the economic policy promoted by Romney. His ideologically driven agenda would continue the failed supply-side policies of President George W. Bush by giving even more tax breaks to the rich—a policy that has not generated strong and sustained economic growth—while slashing investments in our middle class and America’s future competitiveness, such as education, public safety, basic research and development, and infrastructure upgrades. Romney’s plan for spending cuts is deliberately vague, but it is clear that it will require drastic cuts to programs that support.

Republicans and their policies – with help from a few democrats as usual – caused the Great Recession. Once President Obama was elected they saw that as a golden political opportunity. They would pull every political trick, take advantage of every Senate parliamentary maneuver, to stall job creation and to make the recession less painful for American families. Let’s say that some terrorists had caused the USA to lose trillions in GDP and then did everything they could to keep the country from an economic recovery – causing immeasurable hardship for millions of American families. But foreign terrorists did not do that. Republicans did. If conservatives manage to convince enough people, as they did in the 2010 mid-terms, that they are the answer to the problems they largely created and exacerbated, it should not surprise anyone. For whatever reasons Republicans seem almost immune from the consequences of economic terrorism. They can heap as much abuse on the USA as they like and a good deal of the public says thank you, may I have some more abuse please. While they would rush to hang a foreign terrorist who had done this much damage. Conservatives have taken the great recession, held it up to the light, said see this, this is why the working and middle-class have to make sacrifices in programs like Medicare and Social Security. Let’s not make the bankers pay for what they did, the poor things, they’re ” job creators”. The consequences of Romneynomics?

The result would bring more austerity and less growth. According to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “by 2022, if the [federal] budget had to be balanced while taxes were cut,” which is Romney’s goal, “the proposals would require cutting entitlement and discretionary programs other than Social Security and core defense by more than half.” Specifically, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that Romney’s proposals would deplete Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by $3.4 trillion over the next 10 years. In addition, the nonpartisan think tank says that, under Romney’s plan, compensation payments for disabled veterans would be cut by one-quarter, and 13 million people struggling to put food on the table for their families would be kicked off the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

That last block quote is an appeal to morality. To the best values of human nature. An appeal to decency. That argument will never work on the conservative movement. They in fact cherish, applaud and take pride in the philosophy of nihilism, misery and death. In a recent interview Republican Michelle Malkin showed her genuine core feelings about those Americans who do real work for a living,

    … in the interview, Malkin slammed President Obama’s supporters. “Romney types, of course, are the ones who sign the front of the paycheck, and the Obama types are the one who have spent their entire lives signing the back of them,” she said.

Malkin is responding to an unimpeachably factual statement made to Charlie Rose in a recently released interview clip:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: … if you’re the head of a large private-equity firm or hedge fund, your job is to make money. It’s not to create jobs. It’s not even to create a successful business. It’s to make sure you are maximizing returns for your investor. Now, that’s appropriate. That’s part of the American way. That’s part of the system. But that doesn’t necessarily make you qualified to think about the economy as a whole….

Malkin adds [  ]……. I think that there’s an underlying contempt for the profit motive that drives this economy, that somehow only [makes air quotes] “successful” businesses are those that avoid evil things like cost-cutting, which, of course, is what Romney is under — attacked by by this tape.

As usual Malkin, like any conservative pundit on wing-nut welfare does not produce proof of Obama’s anti-capitalism polices. Malkin only trades in the unsupported assertion. They feel their opinions, they say it, it magically becomes reality. Never mind that conservative economic policies have made work pay less and just having wealth pay more,  CEO Pay Increased 127 Times Faster Than Worker Pay Over Last 30 Years. Conservatives have trended this way for fifty years, but what we are seeing now is that Republicans have become complete captives of the wealthy crazy elite. Federal taxes are the lowest they have been since the 1950s, Obama has given small business 17 tax cuts. Still not good enough. One of the reason conservatives think they will never be low enough is that we still have a safety net. As long as we have food assistance, unemployment insurance and Medicare, taxes will be too high in the mind of conservatives. Government is here exclusively to build missiles ( missiles are necessary,but let’s have a weird fetish about them) not for providing things like minimal sustenance for the disabled. Government should not be protecting your family from food poisoning or bad drugs, we can all just go buy our own chemistry sets.

For the most part we already have a Romney economy,

Consider: in 1928 the richest 1 percent of Americans received 23.9 percent of the nation’s total income. After that, the share going to the richest 1 percent steadily declined. New Deal reforms, followed by World War II, the GI Bill and the Great Society expanded the circle of prosperity. By the late 1970s the top 1 percent raked in only 8 to 9 percent of America’s total annual income. But after that, inequality began to widen again, and income reconcentrated at the top. By 2007 the richest 1 percent were back to where they were in 1928—with 23.5 percent of the total.

Each of America’s two biggest economic crashes occurred in the year immediately following these twin peaks—in 1929 and 2008. This is no mere coincidence. When most of the gains from economic growth go to a small sliver of Americans at the top, the rest don’t have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing. America’s median wage, adjusted for inflation, has barely budged for decades. Between 2000 and 2007 it actually dropped. Under these circumstances the only way the middle class can boost its purchasing power is to borrow, as it did with gusto.

Part of the issue with how Malkin and Romney see how the economy should work is what we value as a nation. Conservatives feel that wealth should be rewarded. Not because wealth concentrated in the hands of the top 10% produces people who just sign the back of a paycheck, but because conservatives believe this is how destiny should work. Workers should act like grateful wage slaves and the elite – who by nature of their unearned wealth – are the truly blessed, virtuous and entitled. You know who else thought like that. The monarchists of Medieval Europe. We should all conveniently forget that progressive economic policies produced the greatest expansion of the middle-class in history. So if you’re an American worker – who wants your share of the capital you produce you just a socialist, not a capitalist who is getting the shaft from the plutocrats.

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” – Abraham Lincoln

Romney may have committed felony lying about role with Bain

Oh but it gets worse. As Factcheck.org so graciously pointed out, if Mitt Romney lied in any federal forms about the extent of his role with Bain, Romney may have committed a felony.  From Factcheck.org:

If the Obama campaign is correct [that Romney remained at Bain past 1999], then Romney is guilty of lying on official federal disclosure forms, committing a felony. But we don’t see evidence of that.

Here’s what Romney has said:

Mitt Romney Public Financial Disclosure Report, Aug. 11, 2011: Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.

Romney’s signature appears on the line that states: “I certify that statements I have made on this form and all attached schedules are true, complete and correct to the best of my knowledge.”

Making false statements to the federal government is a serious crime (under 18 USC 1001) carrying possible fines and up to five years in federal prison.

 

This came in today, Romney Adviser: Romney Not Responsible For Bain Because He ‘Retired Retroactively’. If the whole run to be the crooked CEO of American does not work out maybe Romney and friends could start a franchise selling unicorns.

Romney is also specified as being on “As member of the Management Committee of each of BCIP and BCIP Trust” in other SEC filings done in 2001, three years after supposedly having zero say in Bain operations.

Black and White Sydney Skyline wallpaper – The Facts and Reason Do Not Support Romney’s Bain Narrative

Black and White Sydney Skyline wallpaper

Sydney Skyline wallpaper

Given their sleazy history, one in which they have to constantly invent new stories, it is to be expected that conservatives would not come up with a counter attack on Romney’s behalf. Thus this ridiculous story from Fortune magazine, Documents: Romney didn’t manage Bain funds. A reporter is being hand fed documents from Mittens’ friends that swear to goodness Mitt did not do any hands on management of Bain after 1999. Despite official documentation the same people who want us to believe what Mitt’s friends say also do not believe that President Obama was born in the U.S. The same Mitt Romney who refused to denounce Donald Trumps birtherism wants us to believe his buddies at Bain. Did Romney sign off on the daily petty cash receipts, order toilet paper for the executive washroom or sign every signal document that passed through Bain? No, probably not, but to pretend that he was as detached from Bain completely is farcical. Mitt Romney’s Own 2002 Testimony Undermines Bain Departure Claim

Mitt Romney’s repeated claim that he played no part in executive decision-making related to Bain Capital after 1999 is false, according to Romney’s own testimony in June 2002, in which he admitted to sitting on the board of the LifeLike Co., a dollmaker that was a Bain investment during the period.

Romney has consistently insisted that he was too busy organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics to take part in Bain business between 1999 and that event. But in the testimony, which was provided to The Huffington Post, Romney noted that he regularly traveled back to Massachusetts. “[T]here were a number of social trips and business trips that brought me back to Massachusetts, board meetings, Thanksgiving and so forth,” he said.

Romney’s sworn testimony was given as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor.

Romney testified that he “remained on the board of the Staples Corporation and Marriott International, the LifeLike Corporation” at the time.

Yet in the Aug. 12, 2011, federal disclosure form filed as part of his presidential bid, he said, “Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.”

In an SEC filing by Bain in 2001 ( 3 years after Romney says he had nothing to do with Bain) it says,

As member of the Management Committee of each of BCIP and BCIP Trust, W. Mitt
Romney and Joshua Bekenstein may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power
with respect to the 1,376,377 shares and presently exercisable warrants to
purchase an additional 7,716 shares for a total of 1,384,093 shares or 2.9% of
Outstanding Shares held by BCIP and BCIP Trust.

Fortune might want to stop playing the loyal serfs for Mitt. As these and other SEC documents show Romney was in charge as sole owner of all Bain shares. In the document above he made a decision about how many voting shares there would be and their dispositive power. He also claims the right to purchase more shares. Also at the Fortune link is the Obama campaigns’ reply – good to see they are having some backbone,

After being informed of the Bain Capital documents, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt emailed over the following statement:

“Mitt Romney either misled the American people or misrepresented himself to the SEC.  Romney has said he had no authority or responsibility for managing Bain since 1999, but that has been proven false. Regardless of whether he was on the management committee for this particular deal, he remained  President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board and he was legally responsible for every investment and decision made by Bain.”

It stretches all reasonable doubt to claim that a company engaged in hundreds of millions of dollars in business transaction – for which Romney was legally responsible – was never ever discussed in e-mails, phone, letters or other legal documents. As a matter of fact they were. From a 2001 investigative report, Buyout Profits Keep Flowing to Romney

Though Mr. Romney left Bain in early 1999, he received a share of the corporate buyout and investment profits enjoyed by partners from all Bain deals through February 2009: four global buyout funds and 18 other funds, more than twice as many over all as Mr. Romney had a share of the year he left. He was also given the right to invest his own money alongside his former partners. Because some of the funds and deals covered by Mr. Romney’s agreement will not fully wind down for several years, Mr. Romney is still entitled to a share of some of Bain’s profits.

This is the Romney and conservative noise machine version of events. Romney is sitting at home in 2002 and gets a phone call from Bain. You did what, Mitt asks. You made deals totally without my knowledge in 4 global buyouts funds and 18 others. That is so cool. I am completely surprised, I had no idea. It would be so neat if we made money on those deals, but in the future if Fortune calls remember to tell them I was like so totally out of the loop.

But the family’s Bain holdings are still considerable: in his 2011 disclosure, Mr. Romney reported Bain assets between $12.4 million and $60.9 million, which provided between $1.5 million and $9.3 million in income. The blind trust for his wife, Ann, held at least another $10 million, generating income of at least $4.1 million. Because the campaign is required to provide only a minimum value for some Bain assets now held by Mrs. Romney, the total could be far more.

A spokesman for Bain declined to comment on the specifics of the arrangement, citing confidentiality agreements with Mr. Romney.

In regular households checks in the hundreds of dollars are scrutinized every month. In the Romney household apparently millions of dollars just flows into their accounts and they have no clue what so ever  how the money gets in there. To sum up, Romney says he left Bain in 1999. As the SEC filings show he was listed as owner and only stock holder in the years 1999 to 2002. By default that makes him responsible for what went on at Bain even if he was not involved in the daily minutia. Or if we assume that he somehow was 100% disengaged from any company operations, he cashed checks from Bain for doing nothing to earn them as companies were shuddered and jobs outsourced. The last sentence above seems odd since someone at Bain is how pushing documents on Fortune which would be confidential, right? Here are four companies that folded or downsized in the three year period after Romney claimed to have left Bain Capital:

– GS Industries – 750 Jobs Lost: In a series of ads earlier this year, the Obama campaign hit Romney over Bain Capital’s purchase of GS Industries, a steel company that closed its Kansas City plant and eliminated 750 jobs in February 2001. The Romney campaign responded by claiming that Romney had left Bain Capital well before 2001, and was therefore not tied to the collapse of the GS. Bain Capital and its executives, including Mitt Romney, earned at least $12 million on the initial investment.

– KB Toys – Up to 3,500 Jobs Lost: During the primary season, Newt Gingrich’s 30 minute documentary on Romney and Bain Capital spent a significant amount of time focused on KB Toys, a retail chain bought by Bain in 2000. At the time, the Romney campaign, with an assist from fact-checking groups like PolitiFact, pointed to the calendar. As these new filings show, Romney was still very much at Bain Capital when they purchased KB Toys, and profited mightily when the company took out crippling loans to pay Bain Capital an $83 million dividend.

– Dade International – 1,700 Jobs Lost: Months after Romney claims to have left the company, Bain Capital received a $242 million bounty for its stake in the medical supply company. Romney profited substantially from the deal. In 2002, Dade International filed for bankruptcy, costing more than 1,700 people their jobs. At the time, Romney was the 100 percent owner of Bain Capital, the new documents show.

–DDi Corporation – 275 Jobs Lost: In 1996, the circuit board manufacturer was bought by a group of investors, with Bain Capital in the lead, for more than $40 million. By December 1999, DDi closed a Colorado plant and fired 275 workers. Bain Capital, with Romney still listed as Chairman and CEO, then proceeded to take DDi public, raising $170 million during the company’s IPO in 2000. Over the next few months, Bain began selling off its stock, raising almost $100 million, more than doubling its investment. The stock plummeted shortly thereafter.

Over the next couple of months these are some possibilities – some reporter is going to start digging more into SEC filings and financials transactions with Romney’s signature with Freedom of Information requests. Someone is going to request e-mails for the period 1999 to 2002 – if they are not produced that will be just as damning. Some ex-executive with one of the companies that Bain and Romney slashed and burned for profit will come forward with documentation.

Glenn Kessler of WaPo’s “fact checking” site is sticking with the Romney was clueless story even though it strains any reasonable assessment of Romney’s association with Bain in light of those SEC documents and the financial transaction that directly benefited Romney – One-Hundred-Thirty-Seven Pinocchios for Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post, as He Tells Untruths About Mitt Romney. Glenn has dug himself a deep hole and has his back up so it is very unlikely he will publish a correction.

In other conservative versions of reality: Poor people and Fannie May caused the greatest recession since 1929 by intimidating banks into making bad loans. Or the truth being that the banks preyed on ordinary working class Americans, Wells Fargo Will Settle Mortgage Bias Charges

Wells Fargo, the nation’s largest home mortgage lender, has agreed to pay at least $175 million to settle accusations that its independent brokers discriminated against black and Hispanic borrowers during the housing boom, the Justice Department announced on Thursday. If approved by a federal judge, it would be the second-largest residential fair-lending settlement in the department’s history.

An investigation by the department’s civil rights division found that mortgage brokers working with Wells Fargo had charged higher fees and rates to more than 30,000 minority borrowers across the country than they had to white borrowers who posed the same credit risk, according to a complaint filed on Thursday along with the proposed settlement.

Wells Fargo brokers also steered more than 4,000 minority borrowers into costlier subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit risk profiles had received regular loans, a Justice Department complaint found. The deal covers the subprime bubble years of 2004 to 2009.

Just one or two percentage points can mean paying thousands more over the lifetime of the loan.

Is Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) wacko?

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) raised eyebrows last week when he called the IRS “the new Gestapo.” Soon after, he issued a statement saying “the use of the word Gestapo has clouded my message,” but in person, the governor didn’t sound especially apologetic.

[  ]….So, in the mind of the governor of Maine, the IRS reminds him of Nazis, then he’s sorry, then he’s comfortable saying the IRS is headed in the “direction” of Nazis and “killing a lot of people.”

It is tempting to say that LePage has just mentally lost it, joining in the ranks of regular fonts of Republican crazy like Allen West (R-FL). There is also the possibility that LePage is fully conscious of what he is saying. That would make him evil rather than crazy.

On this day in history: July 13, 1943: Alexander Schmorell, co-founder of White Rose anti-Nazi resistance group, was executed. 

Antique Celestial Chart 1730 – The Republican Myth That Productivity is Rewarded

Antique Celestial Chart 1730. Listed on the side are the longitudes and latitudes of the constellations. The mythical figures give it an artistic look, but the precision of the measurements are an indication of the embrace of the scientific method.

Four Books on the Nature and Virtues of Plants and Animals for Medicinal Purposes in New Spain

Description

Francisco Hernández de Toledo (1514–87) was a court physician, who in 1570 was ordered by King Philip II of Spain to embark on a scientific mission to New Spain (as Mexico was then called) to study the medicinal plants of the New World. For seven years Hernández traveled throughout the country, collecting specimens and gathering information on how plants were used by indigenous physicians. He returned to Spain in 1577 with 16 volumes of notes and with numerous illustrations made by three indigenous painters who assisted him in his work. Hernández died in 1587 without seeing his work published. His editor, Recchi, also died, in 1595, without being able to finish the work. Quatro libros de la naturaleza y virtudes de las plantas y animales que estan receuidos en el uso de la medicina en la Nueva España (Four books on the nature and virtues of plants and animals for medicinal purposes in New Spain) is a Spanish translation of the original Latin of Hernández. It was made by Francisco Ximenez, a friar and nurse at the Convent of San Domingo de Mexico, and published in Mexico in 1615. Because none of the handwritten copies that Hernández left in Mexico survived, Ximenez used a copy of Recchi’s summary for this edition. Ximenez added some personal observations and removed the illustrations. The translation and new observations as to pharmaceutical methods, doses, and preparations showed an advance in knowledge over the original findings of Hernández, but they were not part of the broader European scientific revolution, which generally bypassed the Spanish science of the day.

Such a shame that the original illustrations have been lost. Up until that time no scientific work has so thoroughly detailed the plant life of the New World and possible medicinal properties.

President Obama Was Right – The Private Sector is Doing Fine, Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low

1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from “too much regulation” and “too many taxes.” Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren’t).

Corporate profits as Percent of GDP

2) Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades. One reason corporations are so profitable is that they don’t employ as many Americans as they used to.

3) Wages as a percent of the economy are at an all-time low. This is both cause and effect. One reason companies are so profitable is that they’re paying employees less than they ever have as a share of GDP. And that, in turn, is one reason the economy is so weak: Those “wages” are other companies’ revenue.

If the White House and Congress are full of socialists, that must mean that socialism is good for corporate profits. Or conservatives are intellectually incapable of defending the plutocratic we have and yelling socialists like the boy who cried wolf is just a way to distract attention from reality. Wealthiest Americans Dramatically Increase Income

A huge share of US economic growth during the past 30 years has gone to the top one-hundredth of 1 percent of the wealthiest Americans, who now make an average of $27 million per household, according to new Mother Jones analysis of varied governmental and academic data. In contrast, the average income for the bottom 90% of the US population is $31,244.

Mother Jones analysis shows a more than 400% jump in income between the bottom 90% and top 1-10%, who average $164,467. This figure increases by about nine times to almost $1.14 million for the top 2%, and then almost triples to about $3.24 million for the top 0.1 to 0.01%, before again increasing almost nine times for the very top of the US economic stratosphere.

If you read some conservative Republican pundits on the net, when writing about how the economy should work, they have taken to using buzzwords along the line of – we have an economy that rewards people who try to live up to their potential. Obviously not true. Worker productivity is high, yet wages have either stagnated or gone done. The bottom 75% of workers are working to their potential, but most of the rewards for that work are being redistributed upwards. Taxes and regulation, the allegedly two big barriers to corporate success are obviously not holding down corporate profits.

Mitt Romney and the conservative Republican version of capitalism is not capitalism. Its legalized vampirism. That should be insulting enough for the average American, but they rub salt in the wound when they claim that what they’re doing is virtuous and all-American. Companies’ Ills Did Not Harm Romney’s Firm

Cambridge Industries, an automotive plastics supplier whose losses had been building for three consecutive years, finally filed for bankruptcy in May 2000 under a mountain of debt that had ballooned to more than $300 million.

Yet Bain Capital, the private equity firm that controlled the Michigan-based company, continued to religiously collect its $950,000-a-year “advisory fee” in quarterly installments, even to the very end, according to court documents.

In all, Bain garnered more than $10 million in fees from Cambridge over five years, including a $2.25 million payment just for buying the company, according to bankruptcy records and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, Bain’s investors saw their $16 million investment in Cambridge wiped out.

That Bain was able to reap revenue from Cambridge, even as it foundered, was hardly unusual.

The private equity firm, co-founded and run by Mitt Romney, held a majority stake in more than 40 United States-based companies from its inception in 1984 to early 1999, when Mr. Romney left Bain to lead the Salt Lake City Olympics. Of those companies, at least seven eventually filed for bankruptcy while Bain remained involved, or shortly afterward, according to a review by The New York Times. In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money.

I have never meet or heard of a Democrat to whom moral values were not important. Conservatives, despite their regularly recurring lapses in the area of fidelity and personal behavior, seem to think what goes on in people’s bedrooms is the beginning and end of morality. What a normal, fairly rational American would describe as a kind of theft, cheating, con-game, unearned rewards, merit-less income, a swindle, a scheme – conservative Republicans consider virtue. Conservatives have catapulted past putting lipstick on a pig to making grand theft a noble aspiration. They think because they use spread sheets, lawyers, accountants, bankers and complicated financial instruments to perpetrate their crimes, that makes it legitimate commerce.

Samuel Wurzelbacher(Joe The Plumber) Defends Campaign Ad Tying Holocaust To Gun Control

Earlier this week, Samuel Wurzelbacher — known to most as Joe the Plumber — posted a campaign ad on YouTube that sought to blame gun control laws for human atrocities, including the Armenian genocide of the early 1900s and the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II.

Amazingly, Wurzelbacher kept digging. Yesterday in an interview with the Toledo Blade, Wurzelbacher defended the ad by denying he ever mentioned the Holocaust:

“All I said was gun control was implemented, and then governments proceeded to violate human rights,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “Nowhere did I mention the Holocaust or was I even talking about it.”

Apparently, Wurzelbacher can’t find any references–explicit or otherwise–to the Holocaust in the lines “In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, 6 million Jews and 7 million others, unable to defend themselves, were exterminated.” Worse, he goes on to blame “the liberal media” for pointing out the obvious–and deeply offensive–Holocaust reference.

His campaign spokesman Phil Christofanelli told the paper that the story was “generated by left-wing liberal blogs and picked up by the ‘sympathetic liberal media.’” Jewish groups were swift to condemn the ad, as were Democrats and the overwhelming majority of viewers on YouTube. As of publication, the ad has been viewed almost 50,000 times and most of the feedback has been negative. ( When you repeat what someone said on video verbatim that makes you a liberal)

You know what might be the craziest possibility here. That Sam does not think the the Holocaust, and the massive imprisonments and deaths between 1939 and 1945 were the same thing. As recounted elsewhere conservatives have a dreadful and bizarre knowledge of history. I’m a gun owner. While I think some people – those who are disabled, the elderly, single women or men should consider buying and learning to use a hand gun to protect against home invasions if nothing else ( it is an important decision, not to be taken lightly. Children die from mishandling their parents hidden guns all the time.), that does not mean that guns possess some kind of magic. They will not save you in all circumstances. If 80% of your neighbors own guns and become political fanatics the odds of shooting your way out of that situation are slim.

Republican Jerry Sandusky Found Guilty On 45 Counts. I mention that he is a Republican, not because it means that all Republicans are sexual predators, but as a reminder that Republicans give us the daily sanctimonious bullsh*t that they walk on water and are the only good Americans. Though I doubt this will slow the river of self righteous doggerel.