The National Security State, Terrorism and The Conservative Logic Hole

Blue Ocean Cliffs wallpaper

Blue Ocean Cliffs wallpaper

 

The last few days, staring with the news of the Bush Library opening and this new report from the WaPo is like having a waking nightmare that is on automatic shuffle. The main theme of the nightmare stays the same, the little details change. CIA pushed to add Boston bomber to terror watch list

The CIA pushed to have one of the suspected Boston Marathon bombers placed on a U.S. counterterrorism watch list more than a year before the attacks, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

Russian authorities contacted the CIA in the fall of 2011 and raised concerns that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed last week in a confrontation with police, was seen as an increasingly radical Islamist who could be planning to travel overseas.

The CIA request led the National Counterterrorism Center to add Tsarnaev’s name to a database known as the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment, or TIDE, that is used to feed information to other lists, including the FBI’s main terrorist screening database.

The CIA’s request came months after the FBI had closed a preliminary inquiry into Tsarnaev after getting a similar warning from Russian state security, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The disclosure of the CIA’s involvement suggests that the U.S. government may have had more reason than it has previously acknowledged to scrutinize Tsarnaev in the months leading up to the bombings in Boston. It also raises questions why U.S. authorities didn’t flag his return to the United States and investigate him further after a seven-month trip he took to Russia last year.

let’s get to the obvious thing first. The WaPo’s shoddy reporting. We already knew that the FBI had Tsarnaev on their watch-list. He was added to the TIDE list. In a quick scan of a few blogs, one suggested that we have reentered the space-time continuum of blame between the two agencies. That might be, but for those who are following the details, this confusion seems to be largely a problem of individual personnel not being briefed very well and the WaPo relying on what one person said instead of taking five minutes to check Lexus-Nexus. Unlike the rest of us reporters at the WaPo do not have to pay to use it.

“The system pinged when he was leaving the United States,” Napolitano said at a Senate hearing this week. “By the time he returned, all investigations had been closed.” The Washington Post notes that since the CIA became involved later, it’s possible Tsarnaev would have still been on the TIDE list when he reentered the country. “If Customs officials had alerted the FBI to his return, the bureau might have found reason to question him further in the months leading up to the attacks,” the paper reports.

However, that seems fairly unlikely. The CIA and FBI asked the Russians for more information on Tsarnaev several times, but got no response until the manhunt was on in Boston. Therefore, he was just a man two agencies had cleared on a list of hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists. A U.S. intelligence official noted Tsarnaev “did not come anywhere close to being a selectee” for the no-fly list. As for what would have happened if the FBI was aware of his return from Russia, the official said, “Probably nothing.”

Since we’re in time trvael mode let’s go back to the problems the FBI was having when our national security policy was to make everyone in the U.S. a potential terrorist. June 19, 2003, THREATS AND RESPONSES: LAW ENFORCEMENT; False Terrorism Tips to F.B.I. Uproot the Lives of Suspects

Federal agents, facing intense pressure to avoid another terrorist attack, have acted on information from tipsters with questionable backgrounds and motives, touching off needless scares and upending the lives of innocent suspects.

After a wave of criticism, Bush administration officials have been revising their policies for handling terrorist suspects. On Tuesday, President Bush issued guidelines restricting racial profiling in investigations to ”narrow” circumstances linked to stopping potential attacks.

In a report earlier this month, the Justice Department’s inspector general found that in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, many illegal immigrants with no connection to terrorism were detained under harsh conditions.
[  ]…With thousands of tips coming in every week, the F.B.I. was hard pressed in those early days merely to take in the information, officials said, especially since Justice Department orders were that no plausible tip was to be ignored.

In that same report the FBI acknowledge that tipping the FBI off that someone was potential terror suspect became a way for people to take revenge on people they did not like, such as ex-spouses and anyone who looked like they were from the middle-east. Then and now how does the FBI or CIA determine who to watch on an almost continuous basis. That is a lot of resources and manpower focused on someone that might do something. That apparently has not stopped what has become one of the most enormous bureaucracies in the U.S. government from trying to watch everyone, all the time. What happens when you have thousands of people and billions of dollars chasing every tip and every ghost of a suspect, July 19, 2010 – A hidden world, growing beyond control

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation’s other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

This is one of the reason to be both concerned and laugh at what national security has become. Because so much of the funding is simply bundled for national security, the details of how it is spent are known to hand full of people and they can only tell Congress in secret meetings about the specifics of how it was spent. basically two lone wackos just went off one day. How is it that anyone can see that coming and take legal action. The FBI could do what they did after 9-11 and simply take people off the street. That will work until someone who thinks abortion is murder, or women should not be allowed to take contraceptives, or someone who thinks vaccines are part of a nefarious government plot, or someone thinks Obama must be taken out because he heard Obama does not have a real birth certificate….is put in a cell without the right to counsel. Why didn’t the FBI pick up on signals from this guy, just because he is white, male and likely list his religion as Christian, Illinois shootings: Suspect helped wounded girl after killing 5

After he shot his way into a home in the small town of Manchester, police say Rick Odell Smith gunned down a great-grandmother, a young couple and three young children. Then he did something that puzzled authorities.

He scooped up one of the children, a 6-year-old girl who was still alive, and carried her to a neighbor’s home. Then he jumped into his white Chevy Lumina and sped off. Police caught up with him hours later and he died in a gunfight with officers.

So a Caucasian male murders one more person than the Boston marathon terrorists: it is not called terrorism. There is no call to stop letting whites immigrate to the U.S. There is no blame game by politicians. There is no wacky conspiracy theories from Glenn Beck – Beck: ‘If You Want to Continue to Discredit Me, You Will Only Discredit Yourself’. Somehow, and being anti-science and anti-rationalism it makes sense, conservatives have come to belive that if you’re murdered by a non-Chritian you’re more dead and your death matters more if you’re murdered by a while male Christian. Another trip down memory lane when conservatives were complaining about national security overreach, “You Don’t Have Any Civil Liberties If You’re Dead” (2010)

Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it. So it is with the uproar from disingenuous conservatives trying to capitalize on the public outcry over the TSA’s airport body scans and aggressive pat-downs. While Charles Krauthammer now spouts “don’t touch my junk” and Rush Limbaugh declares, “Keep your hands off my tea bag, Mr. President,” five years ago the right-wing echo chamber applauded President Bush’s regime of illegal domestic surveillance by the NSA. After all, they insisted then, you don’t have civil liberties when you’re dead.

That stunning defense of anti-terrorism over-reach became a Republican staple in December 2005. After the New York Times revealed the Bush administration’s campaign of warrantless wiretapping, Senator John Cornyn debuted the now famous GOP talking point. The former Texas Supreme Court Justice announced:

“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.”

(With no sense of irony, Cornyn in August 2009 accused President Obama of instituting a “data collection program” in support of health care reform.)

Soon, Republican leaders were singing from the same hymnal. On February 3rd, 2006, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who has stonewalled the Phase II investigation into the misuses of pre-Iraq war intelligence, similarly claimed:

“You really don’t have any civil liberties if you’re dead.”

Just days later, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) joined his colleagues in blessing President Bush’s unilateral abrogation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Constitution. The failed federal judge insisted that in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, anything goes:

“Over 3,000 Americans have no civil rights because they are no longer with us.”

Of course, Republicans aren’t merely seizing on the TSA passenger imbroglio to embarrass President Obama. As it turns out, the dust-up is another chance for Republicans to further some of their most cherished goals.

Like more, not fewer, violations of Americans’ civil liberties. While Florida Congressman John Mica is pushing for U.S. airports to turn passenger security over to private contractors, Representatives Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have called for profiling of passengers. “Sure, profiling is okay,” Hoekstra explained, adding, “You know, you do it everywhere in life – it only makes sense.”

Charles Krauthammer couldn’t agree more. Krauthammer is only too willing to sacrifice other peoples’ rights in order to keep the government out of his junkyard:

“The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.”

So much for the threat from terror babies.

So profiling and trashing every American’s constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties is OK, but limiting the size of gun magazines is too intrusive. Profiling prevents Americans from being killed? Tell that to those five people murdered in Illinois. Or the families in Newtown. Remember that Adam Lanza’s mother was a conservative gun collector who thought civilization was going to crumple. And in every forum on the internet the gun fetishists claim that no gun safety laws will ever prevent a murder, but throwing all olive skinned, possibly middle-eastern “looking” folks in preventative detention will. It all sounds like something out of a very surreal graphic novel, but it is the reality we all live in. Just in time to prove my point, O’Reilly Demands To Know Why Obama Didn’t Condemn Islam Immediately After Boston Bombing

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly chose on Tuesday night to slam President Obama for failing to condemn Islam in the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombings and claimed that American Muslims aren’t doing enough to stand up against jihad.

During his “Talking Point Commentary” segment, O’Reilly called the President “seriously wrong” for urging the country on Friday to not to jump to conclusions about the bombing suspects’ motivations.

“It’s all about motivation and it’s all about a specific group of people,” O’Reilly declared, referring to Muslims. He then went on to say that suspected Dzhokar Tsarnaev and his deceased brother Tamerlan were definitively jihadists, stating that “only radical Islam allows terror murder.”

April is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombings by two white Christian conservatives. Maybe Obama didn’t condemn all of Islam for the same reason Bill Clinton did not use Oklahoma City to condemn conservationism and right-wing Christians. Maybe to do so is a tad too sweeping an indictment. O’Reilly is a good example of the kind of lazy knee jerk thinking which permeates the conservative movement. They always get caught on the absurdity, the contradictions, the lack of facts and the hypocrisy. Yet, like mindless zombies they don’t skip a beat they keep clawing at the wall. O’Reilly makes millions for being wrong, for spreading deeply unAmericans values, for twisting and distorting the simplest bits of information. There is no incentive for him to become less morally corrupt. Malignity pays.

Bonus links: Bush’s Library Dedication Reminds America Of 50 Reasons George W. Bush Should have Been Tried For Sedition.

STUDY: Media Overlooked Keystone XL Risks Even After Arkansas Spill

Spruce Snow wallpaper – Yet Another Report Debunks Republican Tax Myths

Spruce Covered in Winter Snow wallpaper

 

One of conservatism’s most cherished myths is that the lower taxes are on the wealthy the more that trickles down to the middle-class and working poor. So any empirical data that shows Voodoo Economics Chapter 1, Verse 1, is false is offensive to the cult of conservatism. There will be no heresy on the subject. Republicans who have bathed in the waters of Trickle on America economics are not called heretics, though that is what they mean, they call them statists or socialists, or Glenn Beck calls them progressives as he hisses. So no wonder that Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his senate Politburo tried to censor a report showing that Trickle on America tax policy just made the rich richer. Nonpartisan Tax Report Withdrawn After G.O.P. Protest

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording. ( link is a pdf of report. It may not last long)

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

Republicans did not say whether they had asked the research service, a nonpartisan arm of the Library of Congress, to take the report out of circulation, but they were clear that they protested its tone and findings.

Mad Dog McConnell, after throwing a temper tantrum has claimed the CRS withdrew the report all on its own. Which is like the sidewalk madman that screams in your face and your walking to the other side of the street was strictly a voluntary act on your part. Why The GOP Muzzled The Library of Congress’s Research Agency

The withdrawal is, nonetheless, outrageous. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told the Times that the CRS report wasn’t just criticized by Republican senators; it was also criticized by what the Times (in a paraphrase) calls “people outside of Congress.” I wish the Times had taken the opportunity to say who these “people outside of Congress” are. You can probably guess. There’s the conservative Heritage Foundation. And there’s the Tax Foundation, a conservative nonprofit (not to be confused with the Tax Policy Center, which is non-ideological and nonpartisan but has nonetheless been vilified by the right for pointing out that Mitt Romney’s proposed tax cut benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class). The author of the CRS study, Thomas Hungerford, has written many excellent studies on themes directly or indirectly related to income distribution, and that’s made him a conservative target for some time. This past April, Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (a prominent income-inequality denialist and Romney adviser doomed never to live down his co-authorship, shortly before the dot-com bust, of a book titled Dow 36,000) testified before Congress’s  Joint Economic Committee that a different Hungerford report was “radically at odds with the literature. I relish academic debate, and think that authors serve a valuable service when they challenge research. But a CRS report that is supposed to inform about the consensus of the literature that veers so far from that activity is a disservice to Congress, and the taxpayers.” When Hassett cites “the literature” he means “the literature acceptable to AEI hacks and their Republican allies in Congress,” or what Jacob Weisberg has felicitously labelled “the Conintern.”

What’s the matter with the CRS report? Well, it calls the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts,” which is somehow deemed partisan but in fact is merely explanatory. The Bush tax cuts were tax cuts passed when George W. Bush was president. Bush proposed them, pushed them through Congress, and signed them into law. Even Republicans call the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts.” The CRS report also stands accused of making reference to “tax cuts for the rich.” This is unacceptably hurtful, I suppose, to a group that any sensitive person would know to call the “special-incomed.” As it happens, though, my PDF search of the CRS report reveals that nowhere does the phrase “tax cuts for the rich” appear. The word “rich” does appear here and there, but always in a neutral context, such as, “Under both definitions of the top of the income distribution (i.e., the rich) the income shares were relatively stable until the late 1970s and then started to rise.”

As Timothy Noah notes there is really no shocking news in the report. It is simply another report in a long history of reports that show the top tax rates for the top 1% have steadily declined over the past five decades – under Democrats and conservatives. Despite those ever lower tax rates, there has been no real benefit to the country in terms of improved or better maintained infrastructure, better education, lower post secondary education costs, a bigger space program, or more investment in technology or scientific research – or narrowing the wage inequality gap. In all these areas of public policy, thus national progress, we have fallen behind. Conservatives decided in 2008 that they really really cared about the deficit. If that were true they would have paid for their spending from 2000 to 2008. Currently they would tap into new revenue streams – like having a minimum tax for millionaires and rising the capital gains tax to 30%. Instead they use some math that would shame a 6th grader, propose gutting Medicare and rising the age for Social Security again ( even though the only people living appreciably longer are the wealthy, not the working class Americans who really need those programs they have invested in over the course of their working life). Sites like World Nut Daily and of course Fox News display big headlines about the billions spent on Medicare. Just the sticker shock is supposed to scare people. What should scare people is America’s seniors and disabled living off baloney and Romain noodles, not being able to afford their meds.

Romney’s Tax Secrecy: Did He Get Away With It? The short answer is yes because most of the media gets tried of a story and likes to move on.

3. Did Romney really get away with something? On one level, the answer clearly seems to be yes: Romney has managed to get through an entire campaign for president without having to give up the basic information his predecessors did, information that could have been seriously damaging to his prospects, and now finds himself a lucky break or two from the White House. But the strategists are quick to argue that this elusiveness came at a cost. Romney’s secretiveness about his taxes, they say, was a major element of the unflattering frame the Obama campaign managed to construct around him for most of the campaign, of a self-interested plutocrat who was not to be trusted. “He paid a price,” Jordan said. “When these issues were front and center, as he was becoming known to the American public, this oddness, this secrecy, this penchant did help to shape his image in significant ways….The image of him as being secretive and behaving in sort of unprecedentedly plutocratic ways has sunk in.” Again, Devine agrees. “He’s gotten away with it, but it’s hurt him,” he said. He noted that Obama’s stubborn polling lead in Ohio is almost surely due in part to effective attacks over on the summer on Bain Capital and the few things that have emerged about Romney’s taxes, including his accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, which were so memorably targeted in this ad. “In terms of getting away with it,” concludes Devine,“it’s only something can get away with if…you’ve won the election.”

Let’s envision this imaginary Democratic candidate: he dodged the draft ( well, got deferments for some thin reasons), used leveraged buyouts to cut American jobs and outsource them, used government tax breaks and loans to make himself wealthy, told everyone he was a self-made entrepreneur, kept money in multiple offshore banks, used some very creative accounting to have an IRA account worth over million, set up his own charity to which he donated and took the tax deductions, told 533 documented lies in 30 days. That Democrat would have been bulldozed and buried by the conservative media a year ago. His decaying corpse would be getting nada in the polls. Yet, here we have a Republican with just that record and he is at least competitive. Romentum seems to be largely a construct of the Romney campaign, echoed by the right-wing noise machine. He is actually trying to buy the election in Pennsylvania with a media blitz. Ditto for Ohio. He has lost ground in Virginia and Florida. The noise machines’ answer to all of this is to try to tie President Obama to some kind of negligence in regards the terrorist attacks in Libya. The picture is messy, but the evidence suggests that is probably largely due to the CIA letting out new information in bits and pieces, C.I.A. Played Major Role Fighting Militants in Libya Attack

Security officers from the C.I.A. played a pivotal role in combating militants who attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, deploying a rescue party from a secret base in the city, sending reinforcements from Tripoli, and organizing an armed Libyan military convoy to escort the surviving Americans to hastily chartered planes that whisked them out of the country, senior intelligence officials said Thursday.

The account given by the senior officials, who did not want to be identified, provided the most detailed description to date of the C.I.A.’s role in Benghazi, a covert presence that appears to have been much more significant than publicly disclosed.

Within 25 minutes of being alerted to the attack against the diplomatic mission, half a dozen C.I.A. officers raced there from their base about a mile away, enlisting the help of a handful of Libyan militia fighters as they went. Arriving at the mission about 25 minutes after that, the C.I.A. officers joined State Department security agents in a futile search through heavy smoke and enemy fire for Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens before evacuating the mission’s personnel to the apparent safety of their base, which American officials have called an annex to the mission. Mr. Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the attack.

The entire episode was over in no more than eight hours. The deaths seemed to have taken place within the first hour- the first wave of the attack. So conservatives who want to drop all of this in Obama’s lap have two expectations of the readers they want to buy into their account: that Obama is Superman and did not use his super powers to squash the attack immediately or he is an incompetent commander-in-chief. This is from the same people who thought that George W. Bush was a great leader when he landed on an aircraft carrier and declared ‘mission accomplished’ after which over 4000 Americans died in a needless war. It is not that conservative propagandists are wrong about Libya – and pumping it into a scandal (Hidden Tapes & Secret Emails: Right Wing Now Throwing Kitchen Sink At Obama On Benghazi, Libya) directly connected to the White House, it is about the credibility of conservative pundits and pols who have a cowardly brazen record of shoving disinformation down America’s throat. Four Star General debunks claims of Obama lies and dereliction in Benghazi-gate

The Benghazi arm chair generals on Fox News like Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly cannot be too happy today with the comments made by retired Four-Star General Jack Keane yesterday regarding “Benghazi-gate” and the laying of blame on President Obama. Being interviewed by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News, General Jack Keane basically debunked the theory that more could have been done to conduct a timely rescue mission at the U.S. consulate in Libya or that the President somehow screwed up or was incompetent. Here are some of the General’s direct quotes:

“The consulate was stormed”.
“There was no gunships in the region”.
“There was nothing that could have prevented it”.
“It was over in about an hour”.
“Forces got there as soon as possible”.
“To politicize this is very hurtful”.

General Keane is already catching a lot of flack and criticism from those on the right and the Romney supporters for his comments. Even for the Obama-haters it is disrespectful and despicable to call an experienced Four Star General a liar who is covering for the White House and the Commander in Chief a liar and a coward. It’s rather ironic for those who would politicize this tragedy to call the President a coward, when it was Mitt Romney who was the draft dodger – ahem! a draft deferment- while his peers were getting shot and killed in Vietnam.

There does seem to be some push back between the Sate Department and the CIA. I’ve ready some theories about this and let’s just say they’re armchair theories for now. Most of us know how Washington works. If you’re completely honest you’ll get buried. If you let out more than one version of a story, varying just a word or two, you’ll be nailed for the biggest cover-up since Watergate. I would like The Daily Beast to survive as a media outlet, but they’re doomed if they think this piece by Eli Lake ( who used to work for the conservative rag The Washington Times) is news, Two U.S. officials tell Eli Lake the State Dept. never requested military backup the night of the attack.

The only security backup that did arrive that evening were former special-operations soldiers under the command of the CIA—one from the nearby annex and another Quick Reaction Force from Tripoli. On Friday, Fox News reported that requests from CIA officers for air support on the evening of the attacks were rejected. (The Daily Beast was not able to confirm that those requests were made, though no U.S. official contacted for this story directly refuted the claim either.)

Lake resorts to the theory or pure conjecture that military assistance would have stopped the last part of the attack – which was the mortar attack that killed a SEAL  ( who might have been there working for the CIA). That sounds like a discussion you could have over beers at the kitchen table and everyone puts in their two cents worth. We’re all entitled to our little theories and what if’s. that is not the same thing as fact based reporting. Think back to the initial breaking of the story. In that flurry of media reports we were all told there was no military response. We were likely told that because the CIA did not want anyone to know they were there. That leaves gaps for the Republican keyboard commandos to drive a truck through.

Republicans are a threat to American workers, grandparents and national security

Black and White Cloudy Night New York wallpaper

 

Five Practical Reasons Not To Vote Republican. Politics are practical for some of us. For many it is a form of endless hysteria, a set of dangerous myths wrapped in red, white and blue, the rantings of a drug addicted lunatic on radio, false indignation, urban myths, character assassination or resentment over pennies instead of resentment over hard scramble lives that don not need to be that way. So appeals to practicality seem out of place, a soft spoken plea in an era where we actually have very wealthy people complaining about how difficult times are for them. Apparently some may be ready to fire all their employees or move out.

1. Economic Darwinism — Republicans want the Poor to Pay

Paul Ryan’s proposed budget would take about a half-trillion dollars a year from programs that support the poor.

[  ]…The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), another vital program that serves 50 million “food insecure” Americans, would be cut by $16 billion under the House version of the Farm Bill. The average recipient currently gets $4.30 a day for food.

Republicans also voted to end the Child Tax Credit, and favor a tax plan that would eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Almost from day one of the Wall Street meltdown conservatives have used the recession to declare war on the working poor. Only about 2% of Americans are chronically poor. The rest are near destitute for a while, get some kind of job and stop getting assistance. So those at the bottom of the economic ladder do pay their way the vast majority of their life times. If our free market system was perfect we would not need much of a safety net for the poor, but its not perfect. While the tea smokers complained about bailing out Wall Street you sure don’t here any conservative running for office this election cycle talk about how when they are elected they’re going to go after the people who siphoned off $15 trillion dollars or more of the nation’s wealth and are still living in their McMansions despite their bad decisions. In ConWorld workers have to be punished for being workers, while the wealthy are rewarded simply for being wealthy.

2. Payroll Tax — Republicans want the Middle Class to Pay

Encouraged by the steady Republican demand for lower corporate tax rates, big business has effected a stunning shift in taxpaying responsibility over the years, from corporate income tax to worker payroll tax. For every dollar of payroll tax paid in the 1950s, corporations paid three dollars. Now it’s 22 cents.

It’s gotten worse in recent years, as corporations decided to drastically cut their tax rates after the start of the recession. After paying an average of 22.5% from 1987 to 2008, they’ve paid an annual rate of 10% since. This represents a sudden $250 billion annual loss in taxes.

Republicans claim that almost half of Americans don’t pay taxes. But when payroll and state and local taxes are considered, middle-income Americans pay at about the same rate as the highest earners. Only about 17% of households paid no federal income tax or payroll tax in 2009. And average workers get little help from people who make most of the money. Because of the $110,000 cutoff for payroll tax deductions, the richest 10% of Americans save $150 billion a year in taxes.

3. Job Shrinkage — Republicans want Young People to Pay

The jobs that exist for young Americans are paying much less than just a few years ago. During and after the recession, according to the National Employment Law Project, low-wage jobs ($7.69 to $13.83 per hour) dropped by 21 percent, and then grew back at a 58 percent rate. Mid-wage jobs ($13.84 to $21.13 per hour) dropped by 60 percent and grew back at a 22 percent rate. In other words, the median wage is falling fast.

Unemployment for workers under 25 stands at 16.4 percent, twice the national average. Half of recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed.

Yet Republicans killed a jobs bill that was supported by two-thirds of the public.

An academic study of employment data over 64 years found that an average of two million jobs per year were created under Democratic presidents, compared to one million under Republican presidents. Similar results were reported by the Bloomberg Government Barometer.

4. Retirement Planning — Republicans want the Seniors to Pay

There’s a common misconception in our country that most seniors are financially secure. Actually, Census data reveals that elderly people experience greater inequality than any other population group, with the poorest one-fifth receiving just 5.5% of the group’s total resources, while the wealthiest one-fifth receives 46%.

The senior wealth gap is further evidenced by data during the great 30-year surge in inequality. The average over-60 wealth was five times greater than the median in 1995, as would be expected with a small percentage of ultra-high-net-worth individuals and a great majority of low-wealth people. Further confirmation comes from 2004 Harvard data that shows rising inequality within all age groups, including the elderly. Indeed, an MIT study found that about 46% of U.S. senior citizens have less than $10,000 in financial assets when they die.

For the vast majority of seniors, Social Security has been life-sustaining, accounting for 55% of their annual income. Because of this successful and popular program, the senior poverty rate has dropped from 50% to 10%, and due to life-long contributions from working Americans the program has a $2.7 trillion surplus while contributing nothing to the deficit. Yet Republicans want to undo it.

5. Public Fire Sale — Republicans want Society to Pay

The common good is threatened by the Republican disdain for public resources. Drilling and mining and pipeline construction continues on public lands, and the House of Representatives has voted over 100 times since 2011 to subsidize the oil and gas industry while weakening environmental, public health, and safety requirements. The “land grab” is pitting corporate muscle against citizens’ rights.

Sadly, most of America envisions a new era of energy independence that increases our world-leading consumption of energy while depending on a proliferation of dirty technologies to extract it. Threats of methane emissions, water pollution, and earthquake activity don’t deter the fossil fuel enthusiasts.

It gets worse. Republicans are eager to sell public land. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” proposes to sell millions of acres of “unneeded federal land” and billions of dollars worth of federal assets. His running mate Mitt Romney admits that he doesn’t know “what the purpose is” of public lands.

That brings us to the heart of the reasons not to vote Republican. Their reckless belief in the free market, and their dependency on corporatization and privatization to run the country, means that middle-class Americans keep paying for the fabulously wealthy people at the top who think they deserve everything they’ve taken from society.

There are some things which can be privatized, but for others the costs far outweigh the benefits – 5 Curses of Privatization That Will Be Haunting Us For a Long Time. Essential public needs are fast becoming the newest products on the market — with the benefits only going to those who buy them. At least in comment sections on the internet the conservative trolls have either never worked for a corporation or their meds are too strong. Corporations are monolithic monsters in many ways. The corporate culture of America is mired in inefficiencies, greed and inept management. I know because I live  and work in the real world. Like everyone else I have to deal with people like telecoms, internet service providers and utility companies among other industries as a customer. Sometimes things go smoothly, but there are also the nightmares of customer service. You hand over national parks to these people and think that some magic will occur that will make corporations better stewards of America’s natural heritage? Step away from the kool-aid. Corporate executives frequently make it to the top, not because they are great at what they do, but because they were the best manipulators, ass kissers or had the right connections.

Memo to Joe Biden about debate with Ryan

Emphasize these points: Ryan’s budget turns Medicare into vouchers. It includes the same $716 billion of savings Romney last week accused the President of cutting out of Medicare – but instead of getting it from providers he gets it from the elderly.

It turns Medicaid over to cash-starved states, with even less federal contribution. This will hurt the poor as well as middle-class elderly in nursing homes.

Over 60 percent of its savings come out of programs for lower-income Americans – like Pell grants and food stamps.

Yet it gives huge tax cuts to the top 1 percent – some $4.7 trillion over the next decade. (This is the same top 1 percent, you might add, who have reaped 93 percent of the gains from the recovery, whose stock portfolios have regained everything they lost and more, and who are now taking home a larger share of total income than at any time in the last eighty years and paying the lowest taxes than at any time since before World War II.)

As a result it doesn’t reduce the federal debt at all. In fact, it worsens it.

On top of all this, Ryan is on record – as is Romney – for wanting to repeal both ObamaCare (taking coverage away from 30 million Americans) and the Dodd-Frank law (thereby giving cover to Wall Street).

Your challenge will be get this across firmly and clearly, with an appropriate degree of indignation – on a medium that rewards style over substance, glibness over detail, and optimistic happy talk over grim reality.

My suggestion: Be cheerfully aggressive. Take Ryan on directly and sharply but do so with a smile. Force him to take responsibility for the regressiveness of his budget and the radicalism of his ideology.

Prepare your closing carefully (unlike the President seemed to have done last week), and tell America the unvarnished truth: Romney and Ryan plan to do a reverse Robin Hood at a time in our nation’s history when the rich have never had it so good while the rest haven’t been as economically insecure since the Great Depression.

Ryan, like Romney, is determined to defend every penny of people who are completely disconnected from the context of how they made their money. Conservatives are willfully blind to all the complexities of a modern economy. They have a Ayn Rand cartoon character view of how capital is created. They’re the saints of wealth at the top of the mountain who got their all on their own. And to make Barack Obama or any Democrat the demon determined to drag them down is laughable. Increasing taxes to what they were under the Clinton administration is no where near the end of prosperity or capitalism. The only reason that morons like Ryan get elected is that sadly, many voters are even dumber or more gullible them he is.

This is not some hot off the presses story that is going to change many minds, but just another tell-tale part of the Romney trail. How when it comes down to the choice between the values he says he has and money, Mitt always goes with the cash. Mitt Romney Lined His Pockets Pimping Big Tobacco In Russia

Which brings me back to my original question: Is there a moral question involved when profits depend on promoting a product clearly proven to cause health problems and which is banned from one’s own religion?

It’s not an easy question to me. If Romney were not Mormon, he would still have to wrestle with whether it was a good idea to introduce products into an emerging market which only harmed people. There’s no question now that tobacco does harm and there was no question then. So even without the Mormon ban on tobacco, how is pimping tobacco products in Russia a moral and right thing to do?

One last bit. It seems that House Republicans lead by the sleazy Darrell Issa (R), in their unhinged zeal to pin blame for the embassy attack in Libya, may have exposed the CIA to some blow back, Letting us in on a secret

Through their outbursts, cryptic language and boneheaded questioning of State Department officials, the committee members left little doubt that one of the two compounds at which the Americans were killed, described by the administration as a “consulate” and a nearby “annex,” was a CIA base. They did this, helpfully, in a televised public hearing.

…The Republican lawmakers, in their outbursts, alternated between scolding the State Department officials for hiding behind classified material and blaming them for disclosing information that should have been classified. But the lawmakers created the situation by ordering a public hearing on a matter that belonged behind closed doors.

Republicans were aiming to embarrass the Obama administration over State Department security lapses. But they inadvertently caused a different picture to emerge than the one that has been publicly known: that the victims may have been let down not by the State Department but by the CIA. If the CIA was playing such a major role in these events, which was the unmistakable impression left by Wednesday’s hearing, having a televised probe of the matter was absurd.

The chairman, attempting to close his can of worms, finally suggested that “the entire committee have a classified briefing as to any and all other assets that were not drawn upon but could have been drawn upon” in Benghazi.

Good idea. Too bad he didn’t think of that before putting the CIA on C-SPAN.

Republicans are a threat to grandpa and national security. That is not news, they been like this for years and have no plans to change.