Blue Democratic City wallpaper – “We speak, we write, we advocate – and those in power turn deaf ears and blind eyes to our deepest aspirations.”

blue city skyline, city at night

Blue Democratic City wallpaper

 

I don’t usually bother to comment at news sites. When I have I try to be reasonable and fact based. If I feel like venting I can always do that here.  A couple of stories were so factless at The Hill over the last year I was moved twice to post a comment. Their stories generally have a Right-of-center slant. Their commenters run so far Right and are so angry your facts are going to get lost in the verbal jousting anyway. Both my comments were never posted so going unread became a moot point. So my surprise at this somewhat fair story about Democrats, the Super Committee and the budget talks – Democrats gain upper hand in deficit-reduction negotiations

Reid’s threat is yet another signal that Democrats are preparing for a supercommittee flop, and are largely comfortable with the cuts that would be triggered if there is no bipartisan agreement.

As Republican leaders vow that failure is “not an option,” Reid is growing increasingly pessimistic and already looking ahead to the consequences of missing next week’s Nov. 23 deadline.

That dynamic has Democrats saying they have the upper hand in the negotiations, with some liberals privately rooting for sequestration cuts to be triggered. Unless Republicans cave on tax increases, there is little reason for Democrats to strike a deal because sequestration does not call for structural reforms to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

Automatic cuts to Medicare would be capped at 2 percent and limited to insurance companies and healthcare providers while Social Security and Medicaid would be exempt.

The Defense Department is slated for $500 billion in cuts if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction does not produce an agreement with at least $1.2 trillion in spending reductions.

 

Unless The Hill is completely wrong – a possibility – Ezra Klein might be a head of himself – The Democrats’ peculiar negotiating strategy. If as Ezra claims Republicans think they can push negotiations to the last-minute and come out with a better deal, Reid seems determined that will not happen. The automatic cuts – not perfect by any means – would be a huge defeat for the hostage takers on the Right. Just looking at the polls most Americans are concerned about jobs than the deficit. They’re more concerned about major cuts to Social Security, medicare and Medicaid than they are a few billion to defense. If conservatives want to push their agenda in defiance of the polls look for historic losses in the House for those newly elected tea smokers.

Gingrich Was Paid ~$1.7M From GSEs

Wait, I thought this was all Barney Frank’s fault?

Newt Gingrich made between $1.6 million and $1.8 million in consulting fees from two contracts with mortgage company Freddie Mac, according to two people familiar with the arrangement.

The total amount is significantly larger than the $300,000 payment from Freddie Mac that Gingrich was asked about during a Republican presidential debate on Nov. 9 sponsored by CNBC, and more than was disclosed in the middle of congressional investigations into the housing industry collapse.

Here is the thing about not caring much about reality: If you are going to create a false narrative about the causes of an event, you must be aware of details, data and facts even if you don’t want to believe in them.

 

Gingrich, Bachmann, Perry, Cain and the rest are all on broad the working poor people, government, brown people and liberals caused the Great Recession train of delusions. Of course they are. They can’t admit that letting Wall Street act like gambling addicts on acid caused the loss of $17 trillion dollars of the nation’s wealth. In ConservoLala Land the private sector are angels incapable of wrong doing. This attitude also happens to be the same as people who belong to cults. Everything they worship must be perfect because to admit fallibility even once means a lot of the economic scripture they worship is a load of leprechaun toe-jam. Barry Ritholtz who wrote the excerpt from that blog post also wrote an article in the WaPo that everyone should print out and give to your wing-nut friends and relatives – What caused the financial crisis? The Big Lie goes viral.

Wall Street has its own version: Its Big Lie is that banks and investment houses are merely victims of the crash. You see, the entire boom and bust was caused by misguided government policies. It was not irresponsible lending or derivative or excess leverage or misguided compensation packages, but rather long-standing housing policies that were at fault.

Indeed, the arguments these folks make fail to withstand even casual scrutiny. But that has not stopped people who should know better from repeating them.

The Big Lie made a surprise appearance Tuesday when New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, responding to a question about Occupy Wall Street, stunned observers by exonerating Wall Street: “It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp.”

What made his comments so stunning is that he built Bloomberg Data Services on the notion that data are what matter most to investors. The terminals are found on nearly 400,000 trading desks around the world, at a cost of $1,500 a month. (Do the math — that’s over half a billion dollars a month.) Perhaps the fact that Wall Street was the source of his vast wealth biased him. But the key principle of the business that made the mayor a billionaire is that fund managers, economists, researchers and traders should ignore the squishy narrative and, instead, focus on facts. Yet he ignored his own principles to repeat statements he should have known were false.

Why are people trying to rewrite the history of the crisis? Some are simply trying to save face. Interest groups who advocate for deregulation of the finance sector would prefer that deregulation not receive any blame for the crisis.

Some stand to profit from the status quo: Banks present a systemic risk to the economy, and reducing that risk by lowering their leverage and increasing capital requirements also lowers profitability. Others are hired guns, doing the bidding of bosses on Wall Street.

They all suffer cognitive dissonance — the intellectual crisis that occurs when a failed belief system or philosophy is confronted with proof of its implausibility.

And what about those facts? To be clear, no single issue was the cause. Our economy is a complex and intricate system. What caused the crisis? Look:

*Fed Chair Alan Greenspan dropped rates to 1 percent — levels not seen for half a century — and kept them there for an unprecedentedly long period. This caused a spiral in anything priced in dollars (i.e., oil, gold) or credit (i.e., housing) or liquidity driven (i.e., stocks).

*Low rates meant asset managers could no longer get decent yields from municipal bonds or Treasurys. Instead, they turned to high-yield mortgage-backed securities. Nearly all of them failed to do adequate due diligence before buying them, did not understand these instruments or the risk involved. They violated one of the most important rules of investing: Know what you own.

*Fund managers made this error because they relied on the credit ratings agencies — Moody’s, S&P and Fitch. They had placed an AAA rating on these junk securities, claiming they were as safe as U.S. Treasurys.

• Derivatives had become a uniquely unregulated financial instrument. They are exempt from all oversight, counter-party disclosure, exchange listing requirements, state insurance supervision and, most important, reserve requirements. This allowed AIG to write $3 trillion in derivatives while reserving precisely zero dollars against future claims.

• The Securities and Exchange Commission changed the leverage rules for just five Wall Street banks in 2004. The “Bear Stearns exemption” replaced the 1977 net capitalization rule’s 12-to-1 leverage limit. In its place, it allowed unlimited leverage for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns. These banks ramped leverage to 20-, 30-, even 40-to-1. Extreme leverage leaves very little room for error. ( all emphasis mine).

 

Does anyone even remember what the tea baggers were so upset about. Part of their beef was health care reform. But in the beginning the biggest complaint  had been how reckless Wall Street had been and they shouldn’t have to pay for it. Of course once they were elected to office they did everything they could to be a golden shield for Wall Street. Now they are indistinguishable from the same old crones of far Right conservatism, even claiming that reforms to protect consumers and investors, and maybe prevent another Great Recession are bricks on the road to communism. No wonder they hate the OWS movement. OWS seems to have a lot more courage and deeper convictions even if some of their methods ain’t so great.

Since Newt appears to be gaining traction on Herman Cain’s decline he is getting a little more scrutiny. Newt Gingrich: His baggage has baggage. Ethics charges? Three marriages? Shutting down government? Orphanages for welfare kids?

For instance, he’s the only House speaker in American history to be disciplined by Congress for ethics violations.  In 1998, he paid a $300,000 fine after he was found to have been misusing his tax-exempt foundations for political gain.

OK, those have to be the two worst things, dumping his wife who had cancer for his mistress, and congressional ethics sanctions, right?

 

Whenever I watch political drams on TV or at the movies, as cynical as I might be at times I always have reservations about the petty acts of revenge perpetrated by the characters. In real life Newt’s revenge for President Clinton not letting him sit up front on Air Force One should be what I use as a barometer for what passes the petty vindictive test in drama. Herman Cain doesn’t eat “sissy” pizza. The GOP candidate measures a man in terms of sausage and pepperoni — and with lame, emasculating words

“The more toppings a man has on his pizza, I believe the more manly he is,” he explained. “Because the more manly man is not afraid of abundance. A manly man don’t want it piled high with vegetables! ” …. Cain then explained that a real man would dismiss any pizza contaminated with vegetables as “a sissy pizza.” Because Herman Cain’s penis isn’t having it!

Admit it, if you heard someone on a TV drama say that you’d groan, wondering where Hollywood is getting its script writers. The only reason I include this Hermantor meltdown of sausage laced lunacy is because it is these verbal hair balls are the most likely cause of Herman’s decline in the polls, not the real possibility he committed multiple sexual assaults.

Not word for word but I agree with Matthew Yglesias’s general sentiment – Getting Kicked Out Of Zuccotti Park Is Probably Good For Occupy Wall Street. Bill Moyer makes a good point – PBS host Moyers says government failing Americans

Q: The people behind the Occupy Wall Street protests and the tea party seem to present a similar message, even though they are quite different on a social and personal level. The tea party folks have had some political impact, while the Wall Street protesters have not yet. Do you see their movement ever gaining more traction?

A: I know a lot of tea partiers. I was out listening to them and talking to them. They had a half-truth. Why do I want to put more of my taxes into a government that was serving special interests? They understood that. The other side says we have to have a safety net. The two sides can’t get together. The populist movement (of the tea party) was taken over and co-opted by corporate interests. It’s hard to retain fiery indignation and independence when that happens. I don’t think Occupy Wall Street will have the influence they want unless they do what the tea party did and take over the nominating process. Unless they do, they will never have the satisfaction that they want and that the civil rights movement, say, had back in the 1950s and ’60s. These people are not going to have long-ranging effect unless they have a party to act on their interests. They need to become a political movement instead of a grievance committee.

OWS has thus far declined to identify with a political party. Put aside that small fraction who are anarchists, libertarian crack-pots, the far left and general malcontents – and you have the vast majority of OWS who seem to be progressives. They and conservatives hardly seem like a good match – Karl Rove and his right-wing millionaire posse Crossroads are using OWS to attack Democrats. There is a progressive caucus in the House. Trying to get progressives elected and expanding their power in the House would be the next logical and practical step. Robert Reich notes the irony of using a nationwide militarization of the police to shut-down democracy in action – Occupiers Occupied: The Hijacking of the First Amendment

A funny thing happened to the First Amendment on its way to the public forum. According to the Supreme Court, money is now speech and corporations are now people. But when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with the political consequences of this, they’re treated as public nuisances and evicted.

To pile on the irony the police are shutting down the best voice in America that represents them.

 

Bill Moyers keynote at Public Citizen’s 40th Anniversary Gala. Kind of long, but worth a listen to, at 77 years old, a veteran of the long war for social and economic justice. The quote used in the post title is from the video.

Brass Anchor and Old Map wallpaper – Tales of Modern Misanthropes

Brass Anchor and Old Map wallpaper

 

There was no way a sexual harassment scandal involving Herman Cain would benefit liberals. What with their victim-hood complex and that complex goes especially deep in Cain himself. “The Daily Show” takes on Ann Coulter’s race-baiting logic – Video at link.

Most by now are probably familiar with Ann Coulter’s declaration, when discussing the Herman Cain sexual harassment debacle earlier this week, that “our blacks are so much better than their blacks.” Most probably weren’t all that shocked to hear this sort of race-baiting from Coulter, who’s made a lucrative career dispensing right-wing vitriol. Most probably just ignored her uncouth remarks and moved on.

Coulter is like a one woman clown show. She has a terrible allergy to facts. Specializing in middle-school politics of who can think up the the most venal epitaphs to hurl. The most venal wins. Facts are not and never have been part of the equation. Their blacks are better? That is not a fact, but the rabid rantings of someone desperate for attention. Please someone give Coulter her warm bottle of pabulum before she starts choking on her own vitriol. Cain’s popularity and campaign contributions have gone up with the growth of the scandal. Part of that is because some believe Cain is a victim, while others simply believe it is alright to sexually harass women in the work place. So who would stand to benefit from a Cain scandal? Sure the village wing-nuts think Cain would demolish President Obama is a debate. That might be because thus far Cain has been debating the Tapioca Pudding brigade. Let’s back up and ask who originally broke the story of Cain’s background. Politico. A lot of people think Politico is just a political news site. It even publishes a little bit of liberal opinion. This is pretty much SOP for a Right leaning site that wants the appearance of impartiality. Frederick J. Ryan Jr. is CEO and president of Politico. He was formerly Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. James VandeHei is the executive editor and co-founder of Politico. He is married to a former staffer for Tom Delay (R-TX). There was and probably still is some speculation among conservative bloggers that someone in Rick Perry’s camp leaked the sexual harassment info – even Cain is pointing at Perry as the origin of the revelations. Which weakens Coulter and others claim that this is some liberal plot against “their blacks”. In response to the charges against Cain, Michelle Bachmann said – “This is the year when we can’t have any surprises with our candidate.” For whatever weird sociological reasons, as long as the scandal does not involve children ( as in Mark Foley(R-Fl) conservatives seem to actually benefit from sex scandals. When conservative Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for governor of California 16 women came forward with stories or sexual harassment and it did nothing to derail his campaign. Whether they are more important or not might be debatable, but the harassment stories are distracting scrutiny of Cain on other issues – Conservative Group Investigates Top Cain Aide

The conservative Americans for Prosperity is investigating their financial dealings with Prosperity USA, the group run by Cain chief of staff Mark Block that’s been accused of illegally helping get the Cain campaign off the ground, the Center for Public Integrity reports:

Levi Russell, a spokesman for AFP, told iWatch News , that “there were financial dealings with Prosperity USA and/or the Wisconsin Prosperity Network.” The latter group is another charity that Block helped set up in Wisconsin in 2008 to boost conservative causes. It’s not clear why AFP is reviewing the latter group except that Block founded it too.

Russell said AFP was trying to “find out the timing and the nature of the transactions.”

“We want to hold off (saying more) in light of potential legal ramifications,” Russell said. AFP is expected to complete its review late next week.

 

Like Politico, Americans for Prosperity is part of the conservative noise machine infrastructure. It is not like conservatives to make such timely moves that reflect negatively on one of their own, unless they would prefer another candidate.

While one can understand why the conservative corporate welfare club and millionaires would love Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan. Why would working class conservatives want their taxes to go up – Right-wing Sugar Daddy Rupert Murdoch’s Fox Distorts Impact Of Cain’s 9-9-9 Plan On Low-Income Taxpayers

PolitiFact: “A National Sales Tax” Like Cain’s “Would Raise the Relative Tax Burden On Low- And Middle-Income [Earners].” Sharockman also noted in his article, “Most economists agree that a national sales tax would raise the relative tax burden on low- and middle-income earning taxpayers.” From his PolitiFact article:

Cain’s national sales tax, in effect, would attempt to make up for the reduction of federal revenue by creating the 9 percent income tax. The national sales tax, which would help fund the federal government, would be on top of state and local sales taxes, which fund state and local government. In Florida, that would create a hypothetical tax rate of 15 percent in most parts of the state. In the Wall Street Journal, Cain said the national sales tax would be levied “on all new goods.” (A good question to ask would be whether services are exempted.) Most economists agree that a national sales tax would raise the relative tax burden on low- and middle-income earning taxpayers. “The main reason is that low- and middle-income households consume more of their income than high-income households do,” said William Gale, senior fellow for economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “Another way of saying that is high-income households save more of their income than low-income households do.” [PolitiFact, 9/26/11…

Conservatives who make under $40k per year would see their taxes go up substantially under Cain’s plan ( and Rick Perry’s as well).

Mitt Romney Moves To Embrace Paul Ryan Medicare Plan [UPDATE]. We’ve covered this territory before. The Ryan plan would give Medicare recipients vouchers. Vouchers that would lead to a large increase in out of pocket medical expenses for seniors and the disabled. The only thing Romney is changing – according to a spokesman – is that participating would be voluntary. Medicare would still end up being gutted. Only the wealthy would be able to afford the higher cost necessitated by the inability for Medicare to have the kind of cost control leverage it has now.

Let’s help Elizabeth Warren hold the banks accountable by signing the petition to reinstate Glass Steagall. Bringing back Steagall would be the end of the too big to fail banks. We’d have something closer to actual capitalism with more banks competing against each other for business. This is part of what progressives have been pushing for years. It is something that Sarah Palin does not understand Palin: Protesters want bailouts just like Wall Street fat cats

Failed Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin says protesters in the Occupy movement are looking for a handout just like “Wall Street fat cats.”

“I would like to know that my federal government understands a vision that believes in empowerment versus entitlement,” Palin told an audience the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Victory Dinner Thursday. “To see this struggle in action, look no further than the Occupy Wall Street movement that is going on.”

A polticeleb who makes millions off selling crap to the rubes getting self-righteous about who deserves what. All during a speech in which she praised the criminal governor of Florida who ripped off the government-tax payers for millions. Palin remains one of the most clueless people in America. She has had years to get up to speed on the most rudimentary facts and still a failure. She better love America, what other country rewards incompetence with millions of dollars. In this post about Elizabeth Warren, Palin could learn some basics about economics and how a complex free market economy works,  Elizabeth Warren really hit a nerve among conservatives with her winning message about the social contract and America’s economy.

Paul Ryan accused Warren of “telling Americans that they’re stuck in their current station in life, that they’re a victim of circumstances beyond their control, and that the government’s role is to help them cope with it.” When in fact Warren clearly explained that the economic crisis didn’t “just happen,” and that Americans aren’t “victims of circumstances beyond their control,” but of a financial sector that “broke the economy,” and politicians who were content to let it happen as long as they got a cut.

Worse yet, Ryan accused Warren of falling victim to the “fatal conceit of liberalism,” only to stumble over what sounds a lot like “the fatal conceit of conservatism.”

“Few tricks of the unsophisticated intellect are more curious than the naïve psychology of the business man, who ascribes his achievements to his own unaided efforts, in bland unconsciousness of a social order without whose continuous support and vigilant protection he would be as a lamb bleating in the desert,” wrote the great economic historian R.H. Tawney in 1926. He added pointedly that the arrogant assumption that marginal people’s “distress is a proof of demerit… has always been popular with the prosperous.”

Apparently that assumption is still popular in Republican debate audiences and among online commenters terrified of losing what little they have and desperately seeking targets that are easier to blame than the powerful interests that are actually taking them down.

For that matter, you’d think they would concur with the “common sense” of Thomas Paine — the patriot the right loves to co-opt.

No Known Restrictions: Thomas Paine by George Romney, 179? (LOC)

Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.

You might assume that a party that once upon a time called itself “The Party of Lincoln” would as honest as old Abe was about wealth and labor.

 

Republicans, a terribly misleading name for the misanthropes that call themselves Republicans these days, could learn something from Adam Smith, Thomas Paine and Abe Lincoln, but instead they listen to the flies buzzing around in their empty heads and mercenary hearts.

Fly Fishing wallpaper III – Conservatives Are Masters of Twaddle

Fly Fishing wallpaper III

 

There are many warning signs that you are about to read of conservative twaddle when it identifies the author of the article as a pround memebr of the the wing-nut welafer circuit. In this case a visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. The Hoover specializes in publishing verbal manure as though there was a shortage. They push it regularly without shame. Your average ten year old lemonade stand operator knows more about economics, but far less about insidious lies. Which brings us to Professor  Meltzer H. Meltzer writing at the Rupert Murdoch rag the WSJ, Four Reasons Keynesians Keep Getting It Wrong

Those who heaped high praise on Keynesian policies have grown silent as government spending has failed to bring an economic recovery. Except for a few diehards who want still more government spending, and those who make the unverifiable claim that the economy would have collapsed without it, most now recognize that more than a trillion dollars of spending by the Bush and Obama administrations has left the economy in a slump and unemployment hovering above 9%.

Why is the economic response to increased government spending so different from the response predicted by Keynesian models?

First, did this dipstick poser bother to look at any data on the recession. Why bother with facts when you have garbage to write. Democrats saved the economy from tanking even more. And let’s all conveniently forget that it was conservative polices that got us into this mess in the first place. Tax cuts that would pay for themselves? I have a truck load of fairy dust for sale for anyone who stills believes that.  And remember that three trillion dollar war Republicans put on your children’s credit card.

larger.

Meltzer is a Very Serious Person or advocate of austerity or give the middle-class the shaft while we wait for the economy to turn around. Guess what, austerity is not only not working but risks another recession. England has jumped on the Very Serious Person bandwagon and is sinking. Where as New Zealand and Australia have not and while they are not enjoying a new era of economic prosperity, at least they’re not losing ground.  The UK Fundamental Picture Supports a Weaker GBP vs AUD, NZD

The problem with the UK economy is tight fiscal policy as the government continues its austerity drive, along with increasing unemployment, high inflation and low wages, which are squeezing consumers’ purchasing power and weakening domestic demand.

The implication to consider from Mr. Fisher’s comments is that even the extra quantitative easing announced in early October may not be enough to change the momentum of the economy and if economic conditions do not improve more quantitative easing may be necessary. He also did say that if conditions improve the central bank could cut short its bond purchases. The former seems to be more likely than the latter and therefore the prospect of even more money printing by the central bank should weigh on the pound in the coming months.

And more here, The Crumbling Case for Austerity

Austerity doesn’t work:

The Crumbling Case for Cutting Spending to Stimulate the Economy, by Chad Stone, CBPP: Empirical support for the view that sharp, immediate cuts in government spending would be good for the U.S. economy was never strong, and it’s getting weaker.

The Economist is on the case, highlighting two new studies showing that austerity and growth don’t mix in the short term. …

The professor also throws out some of the same uncertainty/regulation drivel that has been pouring from the right-wing meme machine for the last year,

Third, Keynesian models totally ignore the negative effects of the stream of costly new regulations that pour out of the Obama bureaucracy. Who can guess the size of the cost increases required by these programs? ObamaCare is not the only source of this uncertainty, though it makes a large contribution.

Meltzer is one of the best examples around for ending tenure for professors. The only place that would would employ mindless charlatans like him are right-wing think-tanks. Obama Wrote 5% Fewer Rules Than Bush

Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg News.

If you figure in inflation Obama era regulations cost less than those of either Bush 41 or 43. Meltzer probably got his predictions for the cost of health care reform from a fortune teller at one of the conservative debates. The CBO estimates health care reform will save the government over a trillion dollars over the next ten years. And yes it is absolutely safe to completely disregard any statistics that come out of the Hoover Institute. Want to repeal health care reform, that will add about $230 billion to the federal deficit by 2021 and leave 30 million Americans without health insurance. There will be a bump in cost to some small business for about a year. After that small business will save money. Meltzer writes a load of pure crap. The WSJ publishes as an editorial, but even editorials must have some basis in fact. Note the lack of cries for Meltzer to be fired. Note the editor that let that propagandist crap be published still has a job.

In 2010 every tea smoking conservative wacko campaigned on a jobs creation platform. Every Republican congressional representative and every governor. How many jobs have these Super Conservatives created? Zero. Actually less than zero – House GOP’s “Job Creating” Spending Cuts Destroyed 370,000 Jobs. Its like a political cartoon come to life. You have Democrats on one side laying bricks and Republicans on the other side tearing them down – all the while shouting  they love America. You can’t recover from a recession if conservatives are going to do everything they can to make sure we don’t.

I won’t cheat and look up whether Rick perry is pro legalization of marijuana. From the looks of it, he does seem to eat a herbal laced brownie on occasion. Via HuffPo – Rick Perry’s Unusual Speech Performance (VIDEO)

If there is a contest among the conservative presidential candidates to see who can be the biggest buffoon they’re all running neck and neck.

Cain Smears Planned Parenthood: Accuses Group of ‘Genocide,’ Says Its Goal Is To ‘Kill Black Babies’

Today on Face The Nation, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain claimed that Planned Parenthood wants to “kill black babies” and is part of an organized effort to commit “genocide” against the black community:

[  ]…Cain’s statement about the location of Planned Parenthood clinics is wildly inaccuate. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute from January, “Fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, or those in which the majority of residents are black.”

Politifact previously evaluated the Cain’s claim that Planned Parenthood was created to “kill black babies” and deemed it “a ridiculous, cynical play of the race card.”

In 2004 and 2006 Cain led a radical group that produced radio advertisements accusing Democrats of wanting to kill “black babies.” Cain himself provided the voiceovers for some of the ads.

 

Cain finally got around to making a definitive statement about women’s health care rights. He is against them. Cain is against a woman being able to make her own decision about what to do in case of being impregnated during a rape, impregnated by her father or other relative or when her life is endangered by carrying a pregnancy any further. Cain is continuing his own much loved plantation theme. Cain believes that women should be treated the way they were before slaves were emancipated and clearly before sufferer. Cain, the plantation master as president. Since conservative keep fighting the Civil War, it would be another victory in pushing the entire union into the dream of being a backwards confederacy.

Roger Simon is a conservative – Roger Simon: Being ‘a little bit racist’ helps in GOP primary

Politico’s Roger Simon says that Republican presidential Rick Perry’s recent embrace of birtherism amounts to a racist “dog whistle.”

“It’s not a ‘fun’ issue to poke somebody on,” Simon told CNN’s Howard Kurtz Sunday. “It is more than a little bit racist. Not everyone who believes it is a racist. It grew out of the belief that a black man could not be legitimately elected to the president of the United States.”

He continued: “Now, why would Perry use that in the primaries instead of saving it for the general when he’s running against President Obama? Well, it’s because being extreme, perhaps, and a little bit racist, perhaps, gives you good bona fides in a Republican primary. It shows them that you are on the same side as they are.”

“So, it’s a bit of a dog whistle?” Kurtz asked.

“Absolutely,” Simon replied.

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper – The Flat Tax Lead Bandwagon and Other News

American landscapes, green, nature

Mountain Morning Light wallpaper

The conservative winds are changing regardless of what the latest straw polls show. Herman Cain has made one too many missteps and the conservative establishment has declared his campaign is just about over. This op-ed is from the web equivalent of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, The Daily Caller –  Cain: Rove attacks me to help Romney

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO says former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove is attacking him in an effort to help former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Washington Examiner reports.

Cain’s comments came after Rove, considered the principal architect of President George W. Bush’s political career, mapped out a list of recent Cain “gaffes” on a whiteboard during a Fox News Channel appearance Monday morning. “The whole effect of this is to not create an image, I think, of him being a flip-flopper,” said Rove. “I think it’s to create an image of being not up to the task.”

“It’s a good thing the voters are not looking at Karl Rove’s little whiteboard,” Cain told the Examiner’s Byron York Monday afternoon. “I believe it is a deliberate attempt to damage me because I am not — quote, unquote — the establishment choice. But why not go with the choice that the people seem to like?”

Rove and Fox may not be crazy about Romney, but make no mistake this is a shot to the heart of Cain’s momentum. Cain’s much inflated persona as the outsider wears a bit thin when you consider that most of his campaign organization is the Koch brothers. The Right has taken to describing the Koches as liberal’s boogeyman. They are not invisible and they do not hide under beds, the millions of dollars they spend through the Cato Institute, FreedonWorks and American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC) the Koches are a major force in the Anti-American conservative movement. They were and are major players in dismantling unions and workers rights. Forget about this meme that conservative voters are anti-establishment. That is the same old window dressing they used at the height of the tea nuts movement to shift blame for the economy and bungled foreign policy away from “true” conservationism. This analysis is spot on. If either one of the Koches started a run for president tomorrow it would shake up the race considerably.

Aging culture warriors on the Right love Rick Perry. He thinks all the batsh*t insane stuff Michelle Bachmann thinks, except he’s male. Perry has now jumped on the flat tax bandwagon. It hardly matters to the average conservative whether it is Cain or Perry’s flat tax, they will lower the taxes for millionaires and corporations and rise taxes on those with average incomes and below. Flat tax fits on a bumper sticker. Conservative pols have always preferred simple over smart or fair. Thinking hurts their pointed heads. For GOP Presidential Field, It’s Survival of the Flattest

As Steve Forbes learned in 1996 and 2000 and Herman Cain is learning now, the flat tax is a bad idea whose time never came. After all, the move to a single income tax rate for all earners inevitably shifts the tax burden from the rich to middle and lower income Americans. And if the rate is too low, the result is a hemorrhage of red ink from the U.S Treasury that quickly becomes an ocean of debt.

Nevertheless, in one form or another, the top tier of the 2012 GOP presidential stands poised to embrace this latest wildly regressive Republican windfall for the wealthy. Hoping to benefit from the hype surrounding Cain’s simple 9-9-9 plan, Texas Governor Rick Perry with Steve Forbes’ endorsement will announce his own flat tax proposal on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the resurrected Newt Gingrich has exhumed his own scheme in the guise of an “optional” 15 percent flat tax rate. And to confirm the growing flat tax popularity among his party’s primary voters, frontrunner Mitt Romney in typical fashion may be on the verge of reversing course.

If conservatives want to be the party of the perennially wacky Forbes let’s not try to discourage them. Forbes went down in flames. Perry and Cain will do likewise. Your conservative family making $40k a year and now pays no federal income taxes has no desire to start paying a minimum tax of Cain’s 9% or Perry’s 20%( as reported by the WSJ). Romney has not specified his flat tax rate yet and as the weeks progress and the feedback starts coming in I suspect it will be one of those flip-flop-flips which he backs off. Rick Perry: Standing Tall for the 1%

He’d allow multinationals to return the trillion dollars in profits that they have closeted abroad at a 5% tax rate, a truly shameless corporate giveaway. He’d lower corporate taxes to 20% immediately, while “phasing out” corporate loopholes – good luck with that.

Then he would blow a hole in Social Security, providing young workers with a choice for private accounts. Since under the current plan, young workers pay for the benefits their parents’ generation receives, this would starve Social Security of significant income just when the boomers are retiring. He does not say how he would replace what is likely to be a trillion dollar shortfall over the next thirty years.

But it will have to be by cutting benefits since he would put a lid on federal spending at 18% GDP (We currently spend about 24%, and it is impossible to imagine an effective government sustaining Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and bare bone essential services at less than 20%).

During the best of the Bush and total control of the federal government by conservatives spending was 20% of GDP. That is without a recession and spending with no compensating cuts ( its the the glorious borrow and spend years). We have trillions to pay in health are for vets of the two wars conservatives bungled. More of the baby boomers will be retiring. We still need infrastructure spending. A Rick Perry presidency looks as bleak as the landscape in The Book of Eli with no green zone left at the end to save us.

An unfortunate trend is to have a reflexive reaction to anything Obama proposes as dead on arrival. It might be cool in some circles, but not very productive – HARP II, Either A Huge Deal Or Not

The FHFA itself is actually not making any particularly grand claims on behalf of this initiative, and other people I’ve heard from in the government are likewise being very restrained and not promising any gigantic macroeconomic benefits.

Sarah Rosen Wartell, who leads the housing work at CAP, put out a statement observing that “some important details are still to come that will determine how much progress will be achieved.” Joe Gagnon goes really big, and says that if this is designed right we could get three to four million jobs out of it which obviously would be a huge effect. By contrast, Felix Salmon says he thinks this will do almost nothing. Personally, I have no idea who’s right about this. It can’t hurt to try, right?

If we split the difference between Joe and Felix that would mean 2 million jobs and quite a few people staying in their homes.

War By Other Means – Why it’s safe to ignore Republican criticism of Obama’s policy in Iraq.

This is getting all too predictable. President Obama announced that all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year, in compliance not only with his election pledge but also with the terms of a U.S.-Iraq treaty. In response, the Republicans moaned and hollered that Obama is playing politics with national security, or that he could have negotiated a better outcome, or that he’s surrendering to Iranian domination.

It’s a safe bet that, had Obama announced he was keeping 10,000 troops in Iraq for the indefinite future, most of the same Republicans would have moaned and hollered that he was breaking a promise to the American people, draining the Treasury, and boosting the chance of a terrorist attack by Muslims angered at our continued occupation.
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More than this, their complaints are unfounded, based on either ignorance or deliberate distortion.

First, it is crucial to note that this withdrawal and its timetable were set in a treaty called the Status of Forces Agreement, signed Nov. 17, 2008, not by Obama (who wasn’t president yet) but rather by George W. Bush. SOFAs, as they’re often abbreviated, are treaties—bearing the force of national and international law—that presidents sign with each country that hosts U.S. armed forces. They set the terms and conditions under which those forces can stay.

The SOFA with Iraq states, in Article 24: “All U.S. forces are to withdraw from all Iraqi territory, waters, and airspace no later than the 31st of December of 2011.” That’s as definitive as these things get.

Article 30 does allow for amendments to the treaty, but only in the event of the “formal written approval of both parties and in accordance with the constitutional procedures in both countries.” For the past few months, U.S. officials (including some former Bush officials called back to join the delegation) have tested the waters to see if Iraqi lawmakers would allow—or, more to the point, wanted—an amendment that would permit some of the current 40,000 American troops to stay on. Their conclusion: The Iraqis had no such desire, and not much need.

There is the argument violence will increase on US withdrawal. We’ve been withdrawing troops over the past two years and while there was an uptick for a while violence is down. fewer Iraqis and fewer US military are dying. We’ll still have 40,000 troops on the Kuwaiti border and a Naval carrier group off the coast. Iran talks a lot of smack but they have no desire to have their clock cleaned by US air and naval power.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and some others have suggested that the sticking point was over a clause giving U.S. troops immunity from Iraqi prosecution for alleged crimes. This is a standard feature of such treaties, including of the earlier arrangement with Iraq. It’s true that the Iraqis refused to grant the immunity. But there was no leeway to negotiate an exemption, because the main sticking point was, and is, that the Iraqis simply do not want American troops in their country anymore. One U.S. official in Iraq said in a phone interview, “Even our erstwhile friends [among Iraqi politicians] want us out by the end of the year. None of them lifted a finger to keep us.”

Do Obama’s Republican critics, who have made such a big deal of Iraq’s bourgeoning democracy, really think Obama should (or could) have disregarded the democratically elected parliament of a sovereign nation—a sovereign ally, at that—in order to keep U.S. troops on that nation’s soil, allegedly for its own interest (as defined by us, not by them)? We would then become nothing but an occupying power, sure to trigger an escalation of armed resistance and appear hypocritical in the extreme.

By The Lake Autumn wallpaper – Only The People Should Be Too Big To Fail

fall colors

By The Lake Autumn wallpaper

 

The NYT plays catch-up, Cries of Anti-Semitism, but Not at Zuccotti Park

Among the hodgepodge of signs that have sprouted in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, one man in jeans and a baseball cap has been carrying placards that shout their suggestions: “Google: Jewish Billionaires” and “Google: Zionists control Wall St.”

At the same time, among the sea of tarps under which protesters have been sleeping, a sukkah, a makeshift hut, was erected to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.

The Occupy Wall Street protests, now in their second month, have increasingly been criticized by a variety of groups, most of them politically conservative, for flashes of anti-Semitism. Among those calling attention to the issue have been the Republican National Committee, Rush Limbaugh and the columnist William Kristol.

But the protests have also, on occasion, had a distinctly Jewish flavor: The encampment has coincided with the busy Jewish holiday season and has witnessed, in its midst or on its edges, a crowded Kol Nidre service on Yom Kippur, festive dancing with a scroll on Simchat Torah on Thursday night, and the sukkah.

The right-wing Wall Street funded Emergency Committee for Israel seems to be hanging its entire case on finding a few nuts and having conservative freaks like Limbaugh supply the echo effect. Hoping yet another baseless meme will catch on.

Anti-illegal immigration bill stokes backlash in Alabama fields

Farmers fearing a labor shortage are protesting recent immigration laws they say are too harsh, forcing undocumented workers to flee to prevent deportation. They say US workers are unwilling to endure the rigorous conditions of farm work and that state legislators need to come up with solutions to prevent local agribusiness from going under.

More than 100 farmers and three state representatives in Alabama responded to the recent enactment of a slate of anti-illegal immigration laws by holding a public hearing this week in Oneonta, about 35 miles northeast of Birmingham. The farmers complained that they were already seeing laborers pack up and leave the state.

The new immigration laws will result in a $40 million hit to the state’s economy, with 10,000 illegal workers, each making about $5,000 a year, set to leave, according to a report released this week by the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research.

 

Sorry Alabama farmers conservatives are not doing sane or rational or subtle or compromise at the moment or for the foreseeable future. They have learned nothing from disastrous policies and laws. We could have a nice stream lined process where immigrant workers get a quick seasonable farm work permit and we could all just go about our business. That is just too adult and mature for conservatives. They have a point to make and if it costs you millions, well just suck it up. Funny how the conservative mind works. They have done everything they can to make sure Wall Street can continue to play casino with the nation’s wealth, but won’t let some poor workers make a few dollars. * There has been one conservative in Texas who has proposed a gust worker program, but that seems to be going nowhere.

This graph is ridiculous, but the format is the way it is because Herman Cain’s tax fantasy is so ridiculous, 9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph

In my previous post decrying the extreme redistribution of the tax burden from the wealthy to everyone else, I had to use two graphs to tell the story.  I couldn’t fit the increase in tax liabilities for the bottom 80% on the same graph that includes the over $1 million decrease in tax liability for the top 0.1%.

But my CBPP colleague Brian Highsmith could.  So here you have it: the change in tax liabilities, compared to current tax policy, under 9-9-9, for different income groups, in one incredibly unsettling graph.

9-9-9 in One (Really Long) Graph

 

 

The best way to see the full size is to click over to the story link. These long red lines are the tax cuts for the super rich. The blue increases are the tax increases for people with relatively modest incomes. There are a few comments by trolls at the link that display a stunning amount of malicious ignorance about wealth and where it comes from. The belief, akin to how cultists believe in their dogma, that the upper ten percent are the wealth creators and the rest of us should be thankful for their hard work is mind-boggling in its boneheadedness. Every dollar that Wall Street uses for collateral, bets on, uses to buy derivatives and packages CDOs originated with someone who did some labor to create something that created the value in the first place. All capital begins with labor. Everyone else is just hitching a ride. The 1%, but really the upper ten percent, use the capital created by the people who assemble the cars, mine the copper, roof the houses, program the software, collect the trash, empty the bed pans, invent the next drug, do the basic research for the next must have a gadget to accumulate their wealth. Anyone who does actual work for a living should recent the hell out of the kind of financial sector that has evolved over the last forty years.

We the people are the only ones who should be too big to fail

 

The Hermantor has covered every possible position on a woman’s right to have autonomy over her own body – Herman Cain: Another 180 Turn on Abortion. Herman’s latest is a federal ban on a woman’s right to be free. In addition, the desert of sorts is his proposal for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The SCOTUS has already ruled that women, being equal citizens and all, have the right to decide what to do with their uterus. Herman and Rick Perry see every uterus as the property of federal marshals. So a federal ban on women’s autonomy would be a job creator of sorts, we’ll need thousands of new marshals and prison guards to enforce this major expansion of government powers. Trying to pass a new Constitutional amendment on marriage might be a good idea, for moderate Americans anyway. The road to changing the Constitution is a long arduous one. Think of the millions of dollars the Right will waste on trying to get such an amendment ratified. Since the majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage the ratification process will be a black hole for the conservative donations that will not be spent on other issues.

Herman is also a Koch tea bagger – Not an Employee? Herman Cain Had Mailing and Email Addresses at Koch’s Americans For Prosperity HQ

Goodbye National Treasures, Ron Paul Calls For Federal Public Lands To Be ‘Sold Off To Private Owners’

Paul’s remarks fall in line with the attacks on public lands from conservative lawmakers and corporate front groups. For instance, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) has been waging war on public lands from his helm as chairman of the House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, while the Koch Brothers have funded pro-oil events across the West.

For more information, read Center for American Progress President John Podesta’s article on defending public lands or a report from CAP’s public lands team on how public land conservation creates jobs.

Most readers may already know this, but for those that don’t, our national parks, forests and marine sanctuaries are already exploited by private interests. The government allows timber companies like the Koch owned Georgia Pacific to cut trees on federal lands for pennies on the dollar of market value. A great if old example of corporate welfare. If we sell off forest to Georgia Pacific they will manage that land as well as they have land in the south – old growth forests are down to a few percent of what they were just fifty years ago. They get great short-term wind fall profits, but your children and grandchildren get the shaft. Libertarian Ron Paul has spent most of his adult life collecting a tax payer salary and benefits. He has amassed a nice fortune without breaking a sweat. In that entire time he has never issued one solid policy study based opinion about anything. He occasionally sounds good on not getting into expensive wars, but other than that he is a wacko. Pauls view of the Constitution would bring back Jim Crow, women’s bodies would be the defacto property of the state, American workers would enjoy the same wage protections as Asian sweat shop workers. Paul was one of the sponsors of the Marriage Protection Act in the House in 2004. Paul, like Cain and Perry are big government mad-hatters. They don’t think the government should protect your family from toxic chemicals but they do think the government should have the last word on your personal life.

 

Classic Jazz wallpaper – Conservatives and The Art of Voting Against Your Rational Self Interests

Classic Jazz wallpaper

 

Workers in the USA who are making less than $12 an hour probably don’t absolutely love their jobs. In cities such as Dallas, New York, San Francisco and Miami they’re just getting by. They are paying their payroll taxes – for their Medicare and Social Security. This is a group that needs those programs more than high income households because even the best savers are not going to have much when they retire. This is deep working class America. They also pay federal taxes when they buy gas and a few other things. They pay local fees ( frequently which are hidden taxes politicians with no guts vote for so they can clam they did not rise taxes). According to Republicans these people – the bottom 50% of all income earners and who frequently work far harder for their money than the Koch brothers or the Coors family ever will – are freeloaders who need to anti-up their share of the federal tax pie. Romney “Wants” Breaks for the Middle Class: Too Bad His Actual Plan Favors the Mega-Rich 

As part of his critique of Herman Cain’s absurd “9-9-9” tax plan, Mitt Romney said in last night’s debate, “I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families.”

It was a throw-away line, mentioned in passing. But it’s important to realize what Romney claims to “want” is not even close to what Romney actually intends to do.

In fact, there’s no real ambiguity here. The apparent Republican frontrunner has already said he wants to see middle-class taxes go up right away, having endorsed an increase in payroll taxes in 2012. Romney has also backed higher federal income taxes on lower- and middle-income earners for the foreseeable future. He’s been surprisingly explicit on this, recently telling voters, “I think it’s a real problem when you have half of Americans, almost half of Americans, that are not paying income tax.”

Of course, those who aren’t paying income taxes include a fairly narrow group of people: lower- and middle-income workers who fall below the tax threshold; the unemployed; students, and retirees. Romney thinks it’s a “real problem” that they’re not paying federal income taxes — and it’s a problem he intends to fix by raising their taxes.

But, the former governor says, that’s only part of the picture. Sure, Romney will raise middle-class income taxes, but he also intends to give the middle class a capital-gains tax break.

Under Romney’s plan, those making less than $200,000 a year would see their capital gains taxes eliminated entirely. And what’s wrong with that? Pat Garofalo explained:

Romney may think he focused his tax cut on the middle-class, but according to a ThinkProgress analysis of Tax Policy Center data, nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less annually would get literally nothing from Romney’s tax cut, due to the simple fact that most of those households have no capital gains income

To be exact, 73.9 percent of the households upon which Romney “focused” his tax cut will see zero benefit from it. […]

For families making between $40,000 and $50,000 annually, Romney’s tax cut comes out to a whopping $216 per year. Meanwhile, the payroll tax cut enacted by the Obama administration in 2011, which Romney derided as a “temporary little Band-Aid,” gave those same households a tax cut of $800 to $1,000.

Romney also, incidentally, wants massive tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.

“I want to reduce taxes on middle-income families”? What Romney “wants” is irrelevant.

To be sure, there are some who might argue that middle-class taxes should go up, and it’s a subject worthy of debate. The problem here is that Romney just isn’t telling the truth about his own agenda. If he intends to raise middle-class taxes, and his own plan suggests that he does, Romney should prepared to defend his agenda.

 

If most Americans want Medicare and Social Security to remain solvent it is probably inevitable that we do away with the current payroll tax cuts. In Romney’s formula people who my grandmother used to say lived from hand to mouth, or pay check to pay check, just trying to keep their head above water will have to kick in some minimum federal income tax. All the while the richest Americans get yet another cut on their capital gains. Who are the capital gains people – mostly the 1%. They get a huge amount of their income from capital gains, thus a lower effective tax rate than, you know who, Warren Buffet’s secretary. No matter how badly the tax cut our way to economic nirvana plan fails, conservatives are going to stick with it. There is very obviously no evidence that cutting capital gains to historic lows creates jobs. They do make people with lots of money richer. In America, money is political speech and political power. So Romney’s plan is the continued dis-empowerment of the 99%.

This connection between taxes, political power and dis-empowerment of the non-wealthy is enough to make most Americans pause. If we have a free market merit based economy how come so many Americans are working so hard ( or want to work, but cannot find employment) and we’re not getting ahead. How or why is this unwholesome and un-meritocracy system allowed to continue. As much power as the wealthy and their network of think tanks and lobbyist are they only have so many votes. Except they’re counting on a large minority of voters, working class voters, to vote against their own best interests in some Faustian bargain – How Christian Fundamentalists Disempower Themselves and Help Empower the Top 1% to Exploit the 99%

Evangelical fundamentalism helped empower the top 1 percent. Note I didn’t say religion per se, but religious fundamentalism.

Why? Because without the fundamentalists and their “values” issues, many in the lower 99 percent could not have been convinced to vote against their (our) economic self-interest; in other words, vote for Republicans who only serve billionaires.

Wall Street is a great target for long-overdue protest, but so are the centers of religious power that are the gatekeepers of Republican Party “values” voters that make the continuing economic exploitation possible.

Fundamentalist religion — evangelical and Roman Catholic alike — has delegitimized the US government and thus undercut its ability to tax, spend and regulate.

The fundamentalists have replaced economic and political justice with a bogus (and hate-driven) “morality” litmus tests of spurious red herring “issues” from abortion to school prayer and gay rights. The result has been that the masses of lower middle-class and poor Americans who should be voting for Democrats and thus their own economic interests, have been persuaded to vote against their own class and self interest.

This trick of political sleight of hand has been achieved by this process:

Declare the US government agents of evil because “the government” has allowed legal abortion, gay rights, etc.
Declare that therefore “government is the problem,” not the solution.
The government is the source of all evwww.amazon.com/Sex-Mom-God-Strange-Politics/dp/0306819287/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0il, thus anyone the government wants to regulate is being picked on by satanic forces. The US government is always the bad guy.
Good, God-fearing folks will always vote for less government and less regulation because “the government” is evil.
So unregulated corporations, banks and Wall Street are always right and represent “freedom” while government is always wrong and represents “tyranny.”

All the GOP presidential candidates are exploiting this phenomenon. Herman Cain, a puppet of the Koch brothers said without shame, without having clue from inside his bubble of elitism that the OWS movement should be protesting in front of the White House, not America’s financial centers. Certainly Washington shares some of the blame – if we had not had thirty years of financial deregulation by Washington – the Wall Street meltdown might never have happened. We still might have had a housing bubble but not one so severe – the severity was caused by Wall Street as well – Private Wall Street Companies Caused The Financial Crisis — Not Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Or The Community Reinvestment Act . How do you get people to vote in their own rational best interests. I’ve always wondered about the cultural wing-nuts and abortion. By national budget standards investments in education about both abstinence and birth control, at least a two year degree from a community college and a job that pays a living wage all bring down the abortion rate. Yet the very same culturally conservative vote to increase abortions when they vote to cut programs those programs. Want a lower crime rate, don’t build more prisons, invest in education.

After Confusing Himself, Cain Decides That Rape Victims Should Be Forced To Carry Pregnancies To Term. The conservative tenet that women should be incubators for rapists and child molesters hasn’t quite worn out my outrage quotient. This perverse, immoral unfathomable attitude toward women, toward another human being is something out of some dystopian dictatorship or horror movie.

The Republican Bickersons

That was fun tonight. Attack, defend, attack and attack some more. Texas Gov. Rick Perry had some problems in tonight’s Republican presidential debate, as he’s had before — do we really want to “defund the United Nations”? — but he was a real presence this time, and I thought he put some life back into his campaign.

Former Gov. Mitt Romney found himself on the defensive as he never has been before. His health-care plan in Massachusetts finally got a real going-over, with Sen. Rick Santorum leading the way. Santorum was an important player throughout the discussion, and this has to give him a bump — in attention, if not in the polls.

For the most part, Romney was fluid and fluent, as is his habit. But I thought the particularly bitter exchange he had with Perry, over whether Romney had hired an illegal immigrant, hurt Romney more than Perry. There was petulance and perhaps a trace of arrogance in the way Romney kept badgering Perry. “It’s been a tough couple of debates for Rick” and “You have a problem with letting people finish speaking” are Romney lines that will get played over and over, and I don’t think they came off well. In truth, neither Romney nor Perry looked great when they went into junkyard-dog mode, but it may be a net win for Perry, because he put himself on the same level as Romney. But on the question of Mormonism and the religious faith of politicians, Romney’s answer was very good, while Perry’s response at times came close to incoherence.

 

It’s not difficult to imagine the Perry prep team over the last couple weeks. It’s the political version of Rocky. His team told Perry that it had to land some solid punches or he was down for the count. This is no time to be a gentleman. Romney’s support might not win any prizes for enthusiasm, but his supporters have not been easy to sway either. As feisty as everyone was when you have all those punches being thrown, it tends to distract so much people aren’t sure who won. So they just stay with the leanings they had before the fight started.

Antique World Map c1713 – All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem

Antique World Map (copper engraving), Pieter van der Aa, c.1713. The illustrations make the map a work of fine art in addition to being an amazing example of 18th century map making.

All protest movements are vulnerable to being infiltrated, their message co-opted by outside agitators and the small number of weirdos who joy in, used to discredit everyone. The Right – you know those people who manipulated the nation into a three trillion-dollar quagmire in Iraq, all the while hiding behind the flag and nationalism, bankrupting the nation and using government the way organized crime uses goons, are engaging in all three tactics. Wingnuts’ Photo Fail

Wingnuts have been circulating this photo, claiming it’s from Occupy Wall Street. One woman who claims to work/have worked at the New York Stock Exchange posted it on her Facebook page and where it was shared over 1000 times wrote this as the caption:

This is the NO-CLASS Wall Street occupiers. They are rutting in the street. They are defecating in the street. This is what the democratic party is applauding and embracing? America is in trouble; When morality is willingly being usurped by corruption; Freedom sold for limitation and servitude; Honor traded for degradation, a society can not survive.

Fail. It’s from a 2007 Portland, Oregon anti-war demonstration.

The right-wing fraudster thinks freedom is letting Wall Street steal $17 trillion dollars from the American people and pleading with them to continue as usual, please abuse us some more. Masochism has always been a not too subtle feature of the conservative mindset. OWS: The provocateurs have arrived!

Well, we predicted that the provocateurs would hit Occupy Wall Street, and we should have predicted the methodology. In an obvious ploy, the bad guys sent out a few guys with anti-Semitic signs. On cue — with a telling immediacy — Breitbart’s site picked up on this, and charged the whole movement with anti-Semitism. Also see NewsBusters, which is pushing the major media to parrot their line.

A transparent ploy? To you and to me, perhaps. But not to many other Americans.

How can I be certain that the anti-Semitic sign-holders are agents? Well, I can’t be certain about all of them. But…come on. At least one of these clowns is the biggest, most obvious plant I’ve seen outside the Muir Woods. The reliably vile Pam Geller has the story here (quoting CBS News):

“Blame the Jews.”

That’s the message one Wall Street protester was trying to spread in Lower Manhattan to anyone that would listen.

A new video posted to YouTube shows the protester loudly and aggressively proclaiming “the Jews control Wall Street.”

In the nearly 6-minute video, the man is seen standing in Zuccotti Park ranting against Israel and Jews while holding a sign reading “Hitler’s Bankers – Wall St.”

The protestor, who would not give his name to those gathered around him, is also seen arguing with members of the public who took offense to his choice of words.

A number of others also ask the protester if Fox News had paid him to stand and display his sign to which he responded: “[expletive] Fox News, that’s [expletive]. [Expletive] Jew made that up.”

He’s nameless, he’s with no-one, and — like the fool on the hill — nobody seems to like him. He shows up with a cameraman just to get his mug plastered all over YouTube, and of course the resultant video immediately goes viral. Classic provocateur profile. The whole thing is being pushed by an out-of-nowhere Republican front group which calls itself the Emergency Committee for Israel.

The picture of this one guy anti-Semite poster boy is at the link. It came to my attention over the weekend that the American Nazi Party has Tweeted some support for OWC. That too has been taken as PROOF the OWC is antisemitic. Te little problem with that are the anti-Obama tweets from the ANP which associate Obama with said “Jewish bankers”,

  1. ANP14 American Nazi Party
    The Jewish Goldman Sachs is the most politically connected corporation in the world, it was also Obama’s largest campaign donor. #fail
    7 Oct

Anyone who has a Twitter account can search the ANP’s tweets for similar lines of attack.

If the Right is going to try to hijack Martin Luther King Jr. the least they could do is find, I don’t know, some supporting evidence on which to hang their thesis, From Malkin’s Hot Air – Obama: MLK Jr. would have supported Occupy Wall Street

MLK Jr. might at times have used rhetoric later in his life that suggests he would be sympathetic to the OWS protesters’ redistributive aims, but my best guess is he’d also have a few exhortations for them.

It was in poor taste for the president to make a divisive claim in his dedication of a memorial of a man who aimed to unite.

What Malkin stand-in Tina Korbe does is standard operating procedure. For today and at their convenience they take a few excerpts from other conservative wing-nuts, highly interpretative pieces that suit the attack of the day, and presto, they got their average reader rube who has all the historical knowledge of a dung beetle. It just so happens that MLK Jr. lead, not the first OWS protests, but one among many in America’s history in the 1960s – Poor People’s Campaign: A Dream Unfulfilled

In early 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders planned a Poor People’s Campaign in Washington, D.C., for the spring. The group planned to demand that President Lyndon Johnson and Congress help the poor get jobs, health care and decent homes.

Campaign organizers intended the campaign to be a peaceful gathering of poor people from communities across the nation. They would march through the capital and visit various federal agencies in hopes of getting Congress to pass substantial anti-poverty legislation. They planned to stay until some action was taken.

But weeks before the march was to take place, King was assassinated. His widow, Coretta, and a cadre of black ministers, including the Revs. Ralph Abernathy and Jesse Jackson, decided they would pick up where King had left off and that the Poor People’s March on Washington would go forward.

Thousands of people participated in the march on May 12, 1968.

“We come with an appeal to open the doors of America to the almost 50 million Americans who have not been given a fair share of America’s wealth and opportunity, and we will stay until we get it,” Abernathy said as he led the way for demonstrators.

Whiskey Fire also unloads some more much deserved scorn on the zombies at Hot Air –  Look at That Distracting Thing. A reminder that we have been redistributing wealth in America for some time, from the people who work the hardest to the people who work the least:

The conservative wealth distribution plan is going swimmingly

 

Iraq Veteran Questions NYPD Violence Against OWC

On Saturday, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators occupied Times Squares when thousands flooded the iconic location to protest economic inequities. After a number of demonstrators refused to leave the streets there, police responded with heavy-handed tactics to arrest them. Now, video has emerged of an apparent U.S. military veteran speaking out against these police tactics. The man, who identified himself as Sgt. Shamar Thomas, explained that he spent fourteen months in Iraq and that his parents served in the military as well. “This is not a warzone. It doesn’t make you tough to hurt these people!” protested Thomas to police officers. “There is no honor in that.” The crowd gave the man a hearty applause.

I tend to think well of law enforcement in general. I have friends and relatives in law enforcement. perhaps because of that I find some of the incredibly heavy-handed tactics being used by uniformed street officers all that much more frustrating. I’m sure they’ve encountered some jerks among the protesters but for the most part the OWC are looking out for the rights of union workers like the police. America’s ‘Primal Scream’

Three factoids underscore that inequality:

The 400 wealthiest Americans have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

The top 1 percent of Americans possess more wealth than the entire bottom 90 percent.

In the Bush expansion from 2002 to 2007, 65 percent of economic gains went to the richest 1 percent.

As my Times colleague Catherine Rampell noted a few days ago, in 1981, the average salary in the securities industry in New York City was twice the average in other private sector jobs. At last count, in 2010, it was 5.5 times as much. (In case you want to gnash your teeth, the average is now $361,330.)

More broadly, there’s a growing sense that lopsided outcomes are a result of tycoons’ manipulating the system, lobbying for loopholes and getting away with murder. Of the 100 highest-paid chief executives in the United States in 2010, 25 took home more pay than their company paid in federal corporate income taxes, according to the Institute for Policy Studies.

What conservatives, tea baggers, the 53 percent or whatever they’re calling themselves this week want everyone to believe, hell their entire knuckle dragging political philosophy depends on it – is to buy into the deeply bizarre possibility that  one to ten percent of Americas are working so darn hard they deserve to own 70% of the wealth. To buy into that you don’t just have to drink the kool-aid, you’re getting it intravenously and in daily supply side kool-aid enemas.

Illegal immigration is just that – rule of law and all. That said tis a wee bit of an overreaction for people, basically coming here to pick lettuce and wash dishes, to be preemptively electrocuted – On Taxes and Fences, Cain Stumbles a Bit

Herman Cain found out how tricky being in the national spotlight is on Sunday as he was pushed to admit that his signature economic plan, 9-9-9, would result in increased taxes for some people.

[  ]…The Republican presidential candidate also sought to back away from fiery comments he had made just hours earlier, saying he was only joking about killing people trying to cross the border from Mexico with an electrified fence. And he said that the American people need to “get a sense of humor.”

Yea America when are you going to start laughing about electrocuting poor Mexicans, what’s wrong with you. Maybe we’ll all get to appreciated the electrocuting poor people jokes right after we start to appreciate right-wing rape jokes – and shame on you Glenn Reynolds, not that Glenn is capable of feeling shame at the appropriate times.

 Why Is Darrell Issa (R-CA) Pretending He Knows Nothing About Bush Era Fast and Furious Gun Walking Program and all the documents he was sent by Attorney General Holder. The Right has been pushing this Fast and Furious crap as a way to bring down Holder and embarrass Obama for months. I hope they keep it up because Issa is going to end up hanging by his own petard. We’ll get to the stage where Issa will have to put up or shut-up. Issa will need a time machine to make the put up part possible.

Tea Party co-founder expresses support for Occupy Wall Street

One of the original founders of the Tea Party movement has told RT.com that he believes Occupy Wall Street is not only comparable to the earliest states of the movement he helped launch but can learn from its mistakes.

“The problem with protests and the political process is that it is very easy, no matter how big the protest is, for the politicians to simply wait until the people go home,” financial blogger Karl Denninger observed. “And then they can ignore you.”

“Well, Occupy Wall Street was a little different,” he continued. “And back in 2008, I wrote that when we will actually see change is when the people come, they set up camp, and they refuse to go home. That appears to be happening now.”

 

 

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Ye Old Sea Cliff Fortress wallpaper – Conservative Economics and Self-flagellation

night, landscape, ocean coast,

Ye Old Sea Cliff Fortress wallpaper

 

Today is mostly a collection of news quickies.

Let’s all keep telling ourselves that conservatives are not trying to sabotage the economy for political gain just to exercise our power of denial muscle: Economist: Senate GOP jobs plan wouldn’t help economy in short term, and could even hurt

The GOP unveiling of the plan was widely treated as major news, and Republicans are challenging Obama to respond to their plan — a challenge that’s also garnering widespread coverage.

But an economist I spoke to just now said there isn’t enough information in the plan to evaluate whether it could even achieve its goals as Republicans themselves have defined them. He said it won’t help the economy in the short term, and could even make matters worse.

“I don’t have enough detail to evaluate how many jobs this would create,” Gus Faucher, the director of macroeconomics at Moody’s Analytics, told me. “I could say, `My plan is to do nothing, and it will create five million jobs.’ And it could work, particularly if I don’t say over what time period.”

Moody’s recently estimated that Obama’s jobs plan, if passed, would add two percentage points to economic growth next year, add 1.9 million jobs, and cut unemployment by a full percentage point. By contrast, the Senate GOP plan isn’t designed to help the economy in the short term, Faucher said.

The Republican jobs plan, and it is being very generous to call it a plan, is really just a reiteration of extreme right-wing talking points that we can all repeat in out sleep at this point. Do way with taxes, Medicare, worker safety regulations, food safety regulations, pollution laws that saves tens of thousands of American lives, kill financial regulation, let women die on hospital floors, trade agreements that kill American jobs and we’ll all be living in paradise living off honey and t-bone streak.

Yet another conservative myth shattered – Over Regulation is not responsible for high unemployment.

Even Business Week and the fact checker at the WaPo think Hermanator Cain’s financial IQ could use a large infusion of facts. Cain’s Sales Tax Would Hurt Consumer Spending ’For Some Years’ and Herman Cain’s 999 plan: a misleading pitch

Right now, nearly half of taxpayers don’t pay income taxes, but they do pay their share of payroll taxes, which amounts to 7.65 percent of wage income (though much of it is capped at $107,000). Cain would also eliminate the earned-income tax credit, which is intended to lift working Americans out of poverty. Many of these workers currently receive tax refunds.

[  ]…Bruce Bartlett, a former Reagan administration official who now calls himself an independent, also offered a critical examination this week on the New York Times Economix blog. He (as did Kleinbard) noted that the business tax allows for no deduction for wages, which he said  “is likely to raise the cost of employing workers, even with abolition of the employers’ share of the payroll tax.”

Cain, in his television appearances, glosses over such details.

Difficult to believe, but Cain worked as a mathematician while in was in the military. This is how he explained the extra burden of his 9% sales tax( that would be on top of any sales taxes you’re paying now),

Cain: I’m going to use $50,000 a year, since that’s approximately what the median income is for a family in this country. [For a] family of four, $50,000 a year. Under the current system, based upon standard deductions and standard exemptions, they’re going to pay $10,200 in taxes. Under the 9-9-9 plan, the middle 9, they’re going to pay $4,500. That leaves $5,700 to apply to that milk and bread in terms of the taxes. You have to go through the numbers of each individual situation.

Well the people who are currently not paying federal income taxes or not paying much because of deductions such as the mortgage deduction or earned income credit would be paying that 9% sales tax and they would not be paying it out of what they saved in income taxes because they would no longer have their itemized deductions. It is also at least partly a shell game to say that most people will come out ahead because they can take their income tax savings, tun around and pay their sales taxes with what was savings five minutes ago. Herman is no more a loon than Bachmann, Perry, Gingrich or Santorum, but he is no less loony either. Cain also made this reality defying statement in the same NPR interview:

One of the reasons that I believe that this happened(speaking about the Iranian assassination plot), Scott, is that this president is perceived is weak, and weakness invites attack. I happen to believe that that’s why they attempted to do something like this to thumb their nose at the American people, to thumb that nose at the United States of America because this president is perceived as weak.

Thus far President Obama and the U.S. military under his leadership have killed several high level terrorist that the Bush administration had not during two terms in office. The 9-11 attacks happened on Bush’s watch. Multiple terror attacks happened during the Bush presidency in Europe and Asia. Yet Herman, using his super duper CEO mind concludes, and he, by his public statements wants the world to think, Obama is “weak”. Could someone check Herman’s back and see if the puppet strings are attached to Dick Cheney’s hand.

Rick Perry defends his wife’s claim that he’s been ‘brutalized’ for his faith. Mrs Perry does get one thing right in yet another us true believe’n white right-wing Christianists are poor little victims card; the Right have been the most brutal critics. This all or mostly because of Perry’s stance on in-state tuition for immigrants. In the land of Wingnuttia xenophobia wins out.

As we all know conservative are the grand pooh pahs of Christian values, foreign policy and how to prosecute teenage girls for having miscarriages. So the giant conservative wart known as Rush Limbaugh must be right when he claims – Obama Invades Uganda, Targets Christians

Now, up until today, most Americans have never heard of the combat Lord’s Resistance Army.  And here we are at war with them.  Have you ever heard of Lord’s Resistance Army, Dawn?  How about you, Brian?  Snerdley, have you?  You never heard of Lord’s Resistance Army?  Well, proves my contention, most Americans have never heard of it, and here we are at war with them.  Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians.  It means God.  I was only kidding.  Lord’s Resistance Army are Christians.  They are fighting the Muslims in Sudan.  And Obama has sent troops, United States troops to remove them from the battlefield, which means kill them.  That’s what the lingo means, “to help regional forces remove from the battlefield,” meaning capture or kill.

So that’s a new war, a hundred troops to wipe out Christians in Sudan, Uganda, and — (interruption) no, I’m not kidding.  Jacob Tapper just reported it.

President Obama explains his sending military advisers to central Africa – Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate Regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army. Max Fisher provides some insight into the reasoning behind sending advisers and why Limbaugh has aligned himself with a child rapist, slaver, child murderer, mass murderer and war criminal who claims he rules in the name of the Ten Commandments – Why Is Obama Sending Troops Against the Lord’s Resistance Army?

Part insurgency and part cult, the Lord’s Resistance Army has waged a 20-year campaign of terror across Uganda, where it originally formed in opposition to the government there, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Sudan. It raids villages, massacres for no other purpose than bloodlust, enslaves child soldiers and child sex slaves, drugs its captives to make them more violent, all in an apparently endless mission that has destroyed countless villages and killed thousands of civilians, transforming one of the world’s least governed spaces into one of its most dangerous.

A 2009 U.S. law authorizing financial support to Uganda against the LRA cites studies finding the LRA had abducted 66,000 children and displaced two million civilians. Last year, Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth — no hawk — called on Obama to use U.S. military force against the Lord’s Resistance Army. Roth cited the group’s overwhelming humanitarian toll, its small size, and (unlike, for example, the Taliban) its extreme unpopularity among the populations it terrorizes.

More on the LRA and their leader Joseph Kony – Girl Soldiers – The cost of survival in Northern Uganda

“A person who believes in God cannot kill, cannot rape people, cannot burn their house … cutting their ears, cutting their necks,” Lucy says. Kony “is a devil, not God.”

“When you first arrive [after being abducted by the rebels], they put all the girls together. Then they call the officers so they can pick who they want for a wife. Even if you are very young. I was given to a very big man. He was blind on one side. So maybe he didn’t see that I was very young.”

[  ]…“They told me to lie down, and they said, ‘You pick: Do you want life or death?,’” she recounts. “Then they brought a boy near me and killed him using a panga. They cut him here (her finger slices her neck), here (waist), here (legs) … Then they told me, ‘Have you seen what has happened with that boy?’ I started crying. ‘You are crying!’ Then, they started beating me.”

She chose “life,” which meant that for 2.5 years she was forced to have sex with her husband twice a week, each time crying and each time being beat for her tears. She would sometimes be denied food for up to five days and almost just as long without water—when deprived water, soldiers would make her drink someone else’s urine. She was only required to fight in the field once, but was forced several times a week to pillage villages to gather food and clothing.
Kony was set to sign a peace agreement in April of this year, officially putting an end to a war that left nearly 2 million people homeless, 80 percent of who were women and children. But he never showed. The LRA still managed to stay in the headlines, however, when they orchestrated over 300 abductions in Congo, Sudan and Central African Republic.

 

So all that means nothing to “Christian”, foreign policy expert, fake patriot, serial liar and drug addict Limbaugh. Kony is anti-Muslim and that is all that matters.

The conservative blog American Power, it should go without saying, also considers itself experts on foreign policy and U.S. history. They write about the military advisers – Obama Administration to Deploy Military Advisors to Uganda

Well, it’s certainly fits the progressive rationale for foreign military intervention: human rights. But 100 “advisers”? Sounds like how the Kennedy administration sent advisers to Vietnam and we ended up with 500,000 troops in country by the end of 1965.

That ragged bit of insight is the sum of their wisdom. First it was president Eisenhower who first sent military advisers to Vietnam. While the public was told at the time there would be no American military intervention it has since become well known that US Air Force pilots flew to support the French during Operation Castor in November 1953. Even if he had managed to use the correct president and got the details correct drawing direct parallels is stretching reality. We’re sending 100 advisers to a country being terrorized by one brutal psycho. What came to be 16,000 advisers in Vietnam were our forward eyes on what many thought was the advance of Soviet communism across Asia with the material support of the Chinese. Central Africa, if we play it right could be another victory in the proper application of U.S. power such as Libya, to some degree Egypt, the Balkans and saving the Kurds after Desert Storm. We actually have small contingents of troops in about a dozen countries right now. They might be preventing the next wave of mass murders. It might be inconsistent to pick our battles, but there is nothing wrong with picking the right ones where we help local civilians. Battles that at least during the Obama administration, has been at minimal cost, either financially or in military casualties.

The 53 Percent Take on the 99 Percent

A number of publications including Slate and the Washington Post have already pointed out that the other 47 percent don’t pay taxes because they are simply too poor. Slate’s Suzy Khimm summarizes neatly:

About half of households within that 47 percent do not end up paying federal income tax because they qualify for enough breaks to cancel their tax obligations out. Of that group, 44 percent are claiming tax benefits for the elderly, like an exemption for Social Security payments. And 30.4 percent are claiming credits for “children and the working poor,” like the child-care tax credit… When combined, it’s all enough to cancel out their income tax requirements… The other half of households are just too poor to pay them.

But Think Progress takes their analysis a step further, looking into the claims of hardship made by Erickson:

The three jobs Erickson wants you to believe he scrapes by on include occasional paid opinion blogging at RedState.com, a lucrative television contract with CNN, and a radio gig that paid the previous host $165,183 a year…The house Erickson can’t sell? Bibb County, Georgia records reveal that Erickson just bought a new $374,900 house in February of this year, and owns another that, according to an estimate by the website Zillow, might be worth slightly less than the amount he paid for it in 2001. And it’s likely that Erickson’s CNN job alone provides him with a personal driver and covered travel expenses when he needs to appear on the show.

Interestingly, many of the claims made in the We Are the 53% blog echo those made in the We Are the 99 Percent blog: “got laid off”, “slept in my car because I couldn’t afford housing”, “after a mildly successful career, I lost everything in 2009”.

It’s not that the 53 percent people haven’t suffered, these pictures seem to say. It’s that having clawed their way out of crisis, they now see virtue in their suffering. One commenter on Think Progress site summarized the mindset:

Look at me. I ran through a field of bear traps and only had to gnaw off one limb. Builds character.

Poor ol Erick Erickson

Besides misdirected resentment at the working poor and believing in all that Glenn Beck -Fannie May-Barnie Frank bull, the 53% seem to have an unhealthy obsession with self  flagellation. What most workers have come to know as hallmarks of modern civilization: a fair wage, a forty hour week, over time pay, worker’s compensation, week ends off, fire exits that are not locked down, health care benefits – are all things the 53% think are signs that we’ve turned into a nation of spoiled brats. I remember seeing a Monty Python sketch on late night TV where several of the troop played the I had it worse than you game. It went something like – I got up in the morning, ate a hand full of dirt, walked ten miles in eight foot snow drifts and worked a 23 hour day in a dark mine digging coal with my bare hands. Than the next guy would one up him on the hardship he endured. This is the game the 53% are playing. Only their version of the skit isn’t funny.

This might be what I was thinking of, Monty Python – Four Yorkshiremen

Part of the dialogue:

… “Oooooh, we used to dream of living in a corridor. It would have been a palace to us. We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish [heap]. We got woken up every morning to having a load of rotting fish dumped all over us. House? Uh!”
“Oh, when I said house I meant a hole in the ground covered by a piece of twig. It was a house to us.”
“We were evicted from our hole in the ground. We had to go and live in the lake!”
“You were lucky to have a lake! There were a hundred and fifty of us living in a small shoebox in the middle of the road.”
“Cardboard box?” …

Farm Country Field wallpaper – Conservatives Weave a Ragged History of Being Contrary

midwest landscape, wheat, fall colors,

Farm Country Field wallpaper

 

On any given day politics and politicians, regardless of political leanings, have a unique ability to elicit a what the heck moment. President Obama make the cut for today’s moment by way of comparison with conservatives Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Ronald Reagan, Steve Forbes, Bob Dole, Pat Buchanan and the notoriously corrupt Phil Gramm ( former Texas senator). The time Republicans embraced the Buffett Rule
It wasn’t long ago that top Republicans were appalled by the idea of giving super-rich investors a big tax break. Steve Kornacki writes something of a second part to an Ezra Klein post from a few months ago – Obama revealed: A moderate Republican. Obama and Congressional Democrats have implemented or tried to implement several public policy initiatives that conservatives supported….before Obama was president.

What does feel different, though, is how often we’ve heard Obama-era Republicans frantically sound the alarm over ideas that they themselves once embraced. The rendering of the individual healthcare mandate, a concept with deep conservative roots and one that numerous GOP member of Congress actively pushed for in the mid-1990s, as a jobs- and freedom-killing abomination is a good example of this.

Another, as it turns out, involves tax fairness. The outcry from the right over Obama’s renewed insistence that the wealthiest Americans assume a slightly higher tax burden has been fierce and unrelenting.

[  ]…Case in point: Reagan’s campaign for tax reform in the mid-’80s, during which he blasted “crazy” and “unproductive” tax loopholes that “allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.” A clip of the Gipper making that argument has been circulating online since last week.

[  ]…Forbes launched a lavish advertising campaign decrying the IRS and touting his own plan’s simplicity (you’d be able to do your taxes on a postcard!) while promising that it would unleash torrential economic growth. The idea, and Forbes, caught on. He began moving up in polling and attracting serious press coverage (like the Newsweek cover story that you see at the top of this piece). By January, he’d actually taken the lead in New Hampshire and had become a legitimate threat to win the nomination.

Which is when his fellow candidates started paying a lot more attention to him and to his flat tax plan. The attacks that they launched are notable in that they ran counter to just about everything the GOP now says about taxation and the wealthy and “class warfare.”

Take Gramm, who was positioning himself as the “pure” conservative in the race and offering a flat tax of his own. But there was a difference: His plan would still tax capital gains income, while Forbes’ wouldn’t. Gramm decried this as a politically suicidal giveaway to the rich, one that would sentence Forbes to a landslide November defeat if the GOP were to nominate him.

“There’s no doubt about the fact you could buy every ad on the Super Bowl,” Gramm said, “and you could never convince the American people that you ought to have a 17 percent tax on wages and salaries, but much of investment income should go untaxed.”

[  ]…What’s notable in looking back, though, is that Gramm, Alexander and Dole were all essentially endorsing the Buffett Rule. But just 15 years later, that position is now regarded as heresy in the GOP.

[   ]…Just consider the case of Buchanan, who remains a prominent voice in politics today.  On the McLaughlin Group recently, he asserted that the Buffett Rule is “rooted in the philosophy of envy.” He could have added, but didn’t, that it’s also rooted in the Buchanan ’96 campaign platform, because back then he savaged the Forbes plan, claiming that it was “worked up by the boys at the yacht basin.” And he introduced his own version of the Buffett Rule. “David Rockefeller,” Buchanan declared, “could move to Florida and pay less in taxes than the guy who’s serving him drinks.”

No exactly the same, but certainly on the same flat tax page is Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan. It would worsen the deficit, but we all that conservatives don’t really care about the deficit as much as they do making sure right-wing sugar daddies do not pay taxes on their capital gains – America is still waiting for those low capital gains taxes to trickle down. While some years ago I heard a fairly good liberal argument for a flat consumption tax, no one has ever figured out a way to make it non-regressive. That 52% of the population that makes under $52k a year would be paying a huge share of taxes, way out of proportion to their earnings. Cain, Gramm and Forbes don’t care because, well they’re very wealthy. Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda outlet Fox News frequently floats the flat tax promise of nirvana.

If I said that there is a rumor President Obama might be challenged in the primaries by a candidate who is pro-choice, supported reasonable gun control like background checks for felons, was pro campaign finance reform, pro gay rights, pro immigration reform like the Bush bipartisan bill that Michelle Malkin called “shamesty” and was pro health care reform. Many readers would at least take an honest look at that candidate. That candidate would be Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts. Mitt’s flip-flop-flips probably scare progressives as much as they do the Perry-Cain-Bachmann crowd, but if Mitt got into office and returned to his roots so to speak, he’d be more liberal than Obama. Today’s polls have Mitt and Herman leading in among right-wing voters. Herman is probably an outlier ( I’ll get to more of that in a moment), but how or what are conservative voters telling themselves about Romney. One thing Romney does do well and is consistent about, is pandering. Sure Mitt truly drinks the conservative economic kool-aid, but other than that he is willing to take any position that gets him into office. He is this election cycles vanity candidate. Where does Cain fit in. First a little armchair analysis of Cain’s thinking and Cain’s supposed conversion moment by We are respectable negroes, The Pain of Herman Cain: How a Chance Encounter at an African American Barbershop Helped to Create a Black Conservative 

Perhaps it is my love of theoretical physics and chaos theory. Or maybe I have watched the Star Trek TNG episode “Tapestry” too many times, but I wonder how that one moment impacted Herman Cain’s future political attitudes and life trajectory? Would Herman Cain have become a different person, one who is an upright and proud Morehouse man, and not a professional racism denier and enabler of white supremacy, if one of the brothers had given his woolly head a proper cut?

These conservative conversion stories are a dime a dozen…they were going down that dark path to Medicare and other atrocities perpetrated by liberals.. when duh, they saw the bright light of self obsessed greed, unhinged nationalism and trickle down economics. The kind of greed and self-absorption that supposedly was the key to making America great – Not the Constitution, the Civil War and emancipation, not the suffrage movement or 60s civil rights or the New Deal. I am always reminded of paleo wing-nut Norman Podhoretz and his encounters with black youth while he was growing up. What did I learn after reading that story – if some girls had assaulted Norman when he was young he would have grown up to be gay. If green people had assaulted him he would have grown up hating Martians. In Herman’s case it was all about a hair-cut. As to why Cain is doing well in conservative polls, Herman Cain, the Polls and What Race Has to Do With It

A few days ago on WRRN’s Richard French Live, however, former NY1 political anchor Dominic Carter and former Connecticut congressman Rob Simmons, a Republican, got down to it, musing that Cain’s appeal to white conservatives is related in large part to the Bradley Effect—the phenomenon of white people who, for fear of appearing racist, tell pollsters they’re going to vote for a black candidate but actually vote white (named after LA mayor Tom Bradley, who lost the 1982 gubernatorial race after polls showed him far ahead). French admitted he was relieved his guests brought up the Bradley Effect, so he didn’t have to.

I understand the feeling. In an age when even the most rabid birthers and mosque molesters fly into a rage at the suggestion they might be bigots, it’s become impolitic to state the obvious: that a lot of Tea Party types are crazy for Cain because he shields them against charges of racism. As the current hard-right favorite, Cain is proof of widespread Tea Party colorblindness, writes conservative pundit Ron Christie.

Some conservatives even want extra credit for favoring a “real black man,” as Cain calls himself, over someone like Obama. Laura Ingraham (who wrote in her Barack Obama “diary” that Michelle Obama eats baby-back ribs at every meal) clumsily endorsed that notion last week when she said that Cain “would be the first black president, when you measure it by—because he doesn’t—does he have a white mother, white father, grandparents? No, right?”

Cain’s candidacy can be used as a weapon as easily as a shield.

 

Throw in the obvious that Cain has been spouting his right-wing agitprop for 25 years and he is a reliable echo of well worn right-wing talking points. A good recent example – Herman Cain Defends Remarks On Racism, Occupy Wall Street (VIDEO)

Herman Cain on Monday defended comments about racism he’d made over the weekend.

“I don’t have a lot of patience for people who want to blame racism on the fact that some people don’t make in America,” he said on ‘The Sean Hannity Show’.

The GOP candidate claimed that his business and academic achievements were “walking proof ” that racial discrimination doesn’t hold people back.

His remarks backed up a similar complaint he made on Sunday’s ‘Face The Nation’.

“I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way,” he had said.

Cain also attacked Occupy Wall Street protesters for blaming banks rather than the president.

“I believe this a coordinated effort of the unions and Obama supports to distract the American people from the real problem which is the failed policies of the Obama administration,” he said.

 

You have to love how Cain uses the triple somersault of economic denial – Obama was not president when Wall Street gambled away almost $17 trillion dollars of the nations wealth.

I would be happy to admit that Cain is some small percentage of correct about people using racism as an excuse. People similarly use religious discrimination, gender discrimination, height discrimination and dozens if not hundreds of other reasons not to get their ass in gear and stop blaming others for their failures. Cain’s problem, like every other conservative is they take the very small percentage of people who wrongly use those claims to tarnish everyone. That is the very essence of racism, misogyny and other forms of discrimination – like being overweight. The fact is that there are  about five applicants for every job opening might explain why people are having problems finding jobs. The recession has hit black Americans especially hard – Black unemployment: Highest in 27 years. Older while males are having a tougher time than the past getting back on their feet – Older white males hurt more by this recession, but statistically they are still doing better than their black counterparts. Statistically the only group doing relatively well is older women – Big winners right now in the job market: older white women. The reasons for the last statistic is  related to who is hiring. Jobs have opened up in temporary and retail positions that pay lower wages. And in employment areas where women have traditionally done well like healthcare and education, there has been either some hiring or better retention. Cain should listen to Tavis Smiley’s fact based views instead of  the Koch brothers and knucklehead AM radio wing-nuts, Poverty ambassadors blast Herman Cain’s views on racism

“There are disparities in this country in every [socioeconomic] factor that we follow.  In every aspect of our human endeavors in this country there is a racial disparity element that’s a part of it. It’s almost silly to respond to [Cain] because the evidence is so overwhelming,” Smiley said in the interview with CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux.

“There’s disparity in healthcare. There’s disparity economically.”

Cain, Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich, Ron Paul and Romney all believe in these myths – 5 Conservative Economic Myths Occupy Wall St. Is Helping Bust

2. Rich people are “job creators.”

This is the old “trickle-down” idea — that if you give enough money to the already-rich eventually some of that money will trickle down to the rest of us. This is also called the “getting peed on” theory of economics.

The basis of this thinking comes from the theories of Ayn Rand, who argued that society consists of “producers” and “parasites.” Rand’s fundamentally anti-democratic ideology says that democracy is a form of “collectivism” in which people who don’t want to work and produce use their numbers to steal from a gifted few who are the “producers” of goods and services. Rand’s followers claim that wealthy people are rich because they “produce.” The rest of us are “parasites” who “take money” from the productive rich, by taxing them. This revenue is “redistributed” to the parasites to pay for our “entitlements.”

They say that if wealthy people have more money they will use that money to start businesses and hire people. But anyone with a real business will tell you that people coming in the door and buying things is what creates jobs. In a real economy, people wanting to buy things – demand – is what causes businesses to form and people to be hired.

History – and a quick look around us today – shows that when all the money goes to a few at the top demand from the rest of us dries up and everything breaks down.  Taxing the people at the top and reinvesting the money into the democratic society is fundamental to keeping things going.

Annie Lowrey has a related article up today, another myth buster –  Why Small Businesses Aren’t Innovative. Everyone says small businesses are dynamic, market-shaking, job creators. But new evidence suggests that’s not true.

The researchers attempt to figure that out by surveying entrepreneurs, asking why they decided to start their own companies and what they hope to achieve. The bottom line? “Few small businesses intend to bring a new idea to market,” they write. “Instead, most intend to provide an existing service to an existing customer base.” And a relatively small proportion of small businesses have aspirations to get any bigger, either.

Indeed, the new business owners responding to the survey were lawyers, plumbers, doctors, shopkeepers, real estate agents, and the like—common village professionals. Fewer than half started a business because they “had a good business idea.” Many chose to start a business for “non-pecuniary” benefits, like being your own boss and keeping flexible hours.

The bulk of small businesses being created, in short, are not particularly innovative ones.

 

It is not that no one is out there “innovating” only that the innovators are a pretty small slice of the small business pie. So when it comes to public policy it is important to distinguish between tomorrow’s Steve Jobs and a doughnut franchise operator. The latter is hoping that people do not change their habits. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, only they are not the ones who are going to pay the wages that spur a lot of new demand.