The Republican Shutdown Only Cost The Country $24 Billion

Early Fall wallpaper

Early Fall wallpaper

Political wonks may wonder what the heck changed for the House especially, and the Senate to reach a deal on the debt ceiling. Jonathan Cohn has the go-to background article, Three Reasons That the Democrats Prevailed

But in a narrower political sense, this was one of those (relatively) rare Washington battles in which one side clearly prevailed. It was the Democrats. When this episode started, they said they were determined not to make major concessions simply because Republicans were threatening shutdown and default. Sure enough, here we are—with a new continuing resolution, a higher debt limit, and no major changes in law. Democrats achieved the policy outcome they had sought, while establishing a precedent for the future: No more negotiating while under such threats.

I don’t know that I would go as far as one analyst in comparing the damage to the tea bagger coalition as a battle where they were defeated and will be too frayed to do much damage in the next battle. It is more straight up and less dramatic. In politics you go into fights with some political capital. In the next fight – coming in January and February, the public knows that the tea bags will be pandering to the crazies – the Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins that live in mostly gerrymandered districts. Most Republicans are not going to let these freaks on the outer fringe of conservatism drag down the party even more than they already have. Unless House Republicans stage a successful mutiny and get rid of Boehner (R-OH) he will strike a deal with more practical minded members of hos party and Democrats.

2. Republican crazy brings people together. The Senate still has some conservative Democrats, of course—Joe Manchin of West Virginia comes quickly to mind. But the agenda has changed a lot since 2009 and 2010: Instead of trying to enact their own policies, in this episode, at least, Democrats were mostly trying to stop Republicans from passing theirs. And that wasn’t so hard, given the nature of Republican tactics. Polls showed repeatedly that, despite the public ambivalence about Obamacare, majorities did not support shutting down the government in order to undermine the law. And as the shutdown wore on, it became clear that Republicans, not Democrats, were taking the blame. It helped, too, that prominent Senate Republicans were openly critical of what Ted Cruz and his House Republican allies were trying to do.

If you go over to the dark side- sites like Hot Air and Breitbart they are certainly tribal minded. The crazy is their rallying flag. But they make the mistake of thinking that only works in one direction. The crazier they get the more Democrats and the endangered moderate Republicans stick together, and sound to the public like the voice of reason. I have no desire to see them tone down their worship of Ted Cruz (R-TX) or Rand Paul (R-KY). They can pack their clown car with all the freaks and conspiracy theories they like. There has never been a point in history in which the clowns have won in the long haul. Call Obamacare – a gift to the health care industry and pharmaceutical companies – the same thing as slavery and you just create more distrust of the tea bagger agenda. Tea Party’s Image Turns More Negative

Unfavorable Views of Tea Party Have Nearly Doubled Since 2010. The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49%) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30% have a favorable opinion.

One can only wonder what it is like to slowly swirl down the drain of history. The new tea bagger conservatism, being even more far Right than the conservatism of 2000 of 2008 comes with similar financial penalties for the country they claim to care about, S&P: The Shutdown Took $24 Billion Out Of The US Economy

The S&P has cut the annualized U.S. growth view closer to 2% from 3%, Bloomberg is reporting.

The ratings agency — which recognizes the Senate deal will be approved — says that the shutdown has taken $24 billion out of the economy and cut 0.6% off of yearly fourth quarter GDP growth.

In the last 13 years the Conservative Republican agenda has cost us trillions of dollars. Yet they endlessly grumble about poor kids getting food assistance. They must have read about the decadence of the late Roman Empire and seen that as a recipe rather than a warning.

Who is to blame for the government shutdown and budget crisis

Some of the conservative movement’s greatest minds on the government shutdown and blame shifting,

Sean Hannity ( Rush Limbaugh Jr.): Calls Shutdown “The Worst Of The Worst” Then Urges GOP Not To Compromise and Asks “Who Wants This?”. Sean’s triple somersault and back-flip answered below.

Jeff Duncan (R), South Carolina: “I believe Obamacare has shut down America, so I’d rather shut down the government than continue doing what we’re doing, which is penalizing businesses and families in this country.” Well the ACA has been initiated in parts over the last four years. The parts the public has seen and used, they like it so far. If Jeff, one of the dumbest to ever serve in Congress, who owes his constituents a refund for the $179k he is getting from tax payers, going to repeal the part that let’s young adults up to age 26 stay on their parents insurance or is he going to repeal the part that says people with preexisting conditions can no longer get insurance. Or maybe it wants the 30 million families now getting a discount to start paying higher premiums.

Marlin Stutzman (R), Indiana: “We aren’t going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.” Marlin had to hire a personal baby sitter to help him tie his shoes in the morning and clean his knuckles after a hard day of dragging them around. Marlin thinks American values come in a plastic bag in the freezer section at the local discount mart and he only buys them when they’re on sale.

There are plenty more, but we’ll end with Paul Broun(R), Georgia: “[The Democrats] need to look in the mirror, because they’re the ones to blame. They’re the ones that shut the government down.” We’ve all seen the TV shows and the movies where the hostage takers ask for ransom. Paul always blames the families for the death of the hostage because he feels very deeply, with great conviction, that if only the families would cooperate these kinds of tragedies would be averted. Hostage taker ( conservatives) are never to blame in Broun World. The people would voted for Broun subsidize his and his families health insurance, so they deserve to live in their circle of shameless hypocrisy.

Who is to blame? A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning

Shortly after President Obama started his second term, a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

“We felt very strongly at the start of this year that the House needed to use the power of the purse,” said one coalition member, Michael A. Needham, who runs Heritage Action for America, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation. “At least at Heritage Action, we felt very strongly from the start that this was a fight that we were going to pick.”

Last week the country witnessed the fallout from that strategy: a standoff that has shuttered much of the federal bureaucracy and unsettled the nation.

To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known.

I have heard conservatives try desperately to make the case that this is democracy at work – in between deflecting blame. No, it is not democracy at work, it is the government being hijacked by a radical minority. How have bills been passed and repealed for mos of this nation’s history? You vote them into law and the president signs that bill. Conservatives cannot get a bill passed that repeals or replaces the Affordable Care Act ( Obamacare). Having failed, they are now holding the economy hostage. Conservatives, who tend to live in an echo chamber anyway, say that the majority of the American people are on their side. That is both delusional and a lie. Many Americans are desperate for all the benefits of Obamacare to kick in. And while the exchanges did not get off to a perfect start – you know much like private sector customer service that has driven us all crazy at one time or another, interests in getting insurance is high.

Conservatives have also thrown in the usual shrill panic about the deficit – the deficit that is largely a legacy of conservative economic policy, has been coming down steadily under Obama’s presidency.

The Government Shutdown Is As Certain As The 2014 Downfall of Conservatives

Oak Meadow wallpaper

Oak Meadow wallpaper

NMMNB is not optimistic about the government shutdown crisis, Why Republicans are not going to get the blame they deserve.

The reason is that the mainstream political world is heavily invested in the notion that the GOP is a sane, rational, responsible party. We know this because every time the GOP has utterly failed as a party in the past few decades, it’s gotten a do-over almost immediately. Everyone in the political mainstream agrees that the GOP should get a mulligan every time it fails.

[  ]…George W. Bush disgraced himself in office; his party lost Congress in 2006 and the presidency in 2008. Again, not to worry: almost instantly, the GOP was rebranded, first as the party of “pizza summit” moderation (led by the digraced ex-president’s brother), then as the home of the tea party, which swept congressional, state, and local elections in 2010.

There is some unfortunate truths there. If our culture and political system worked the way it should, conservatives should constitute a tiny marginalized minority of the kind of true believers that no amount of reason can penetrate the tin foil. The Iraq debacle alone is cause for that. The financial collapse of 2007 was the culmination of 25 years of conservative supply side deregulation mania. The reason these calamities do not stick, at least one reason, is the powers of denial of the radical Right base. Iraq? Well Bush meant well and hey, he did kill a lot of Muslim even if the reasons were based on lies about WMD and conspiracy theories about a Muslim takeover of the world. Conservatives blamed the Great Recession on  one individual congressman and Fannie May. Nothing is ever their fault in the conservative river of denial, For a political movement that claims to be all about individual responsibility, they are amazingly adept at denying or talking responsibility for any wrong doing, for any disasters caused by their philosophy. Though as far as the impending and almost certain government shutdown, there is a bright spot. As Steve notes conservatives took a terrible beating in 2008. While they picked up the House in 2010 – largely through gerrymandering, they took a beating then as well. The independent voters and some  – lets call them Clinton conservatives – tend to have a throw the bums out attitude after a big screw-up like Iraq and the financial collapse, so while I would rather win another way, conservatives are setting up Democrats to win the House back in 2014. There is going to be a lot of economic pain between now and then – and it very much looks like those voters who swing elections, are going to punish conservatives, POLL: Voters Are ‘Unmoved’ By Government Shutdown Drama, Still Don’t Want To Delay Obamacare ( note the voice of Clinton conservatives)

Morning Consult’s results track with earlier research that has found that most Americans want to give the health reform law an opportunity to work. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and USA Today found that even when Americans don’t support Obamacare, they still want lawmakers to try to make it work rather than try to undermine it. And Morning Consult’s last tracking poll found that even Republicans don’t favor defunding the health law.

And if the government does end up being forced to shut down because of Republican brinkmanship over Obamacare, the majority of voters say they’ll put “a lot” of the blame on GOP lawmakers in Congress. According to the new poll, nearly eight in 10 independent voters say they’ll blame congressional Republicans for a shutdown.

This is the point at which I’m supposed to say bring it on House conservatives. I’m not because the American people, regardless of politics have seen too much hard times. I do not have to hope conservatives will be punished at the polls because they certainly will be punished, even if it only by those thin margins created by the middle and the short term memory of the few remaining moderate Republicans. Ted Cruz and his tea smoking fans can gloat all they want the next few weeks, hey enjoy it while you can, because the party is over and you only have yourselves to blame.

Conservatism is a Synonym for Hostage Taker

 Cathedral Bridge wallpaper

 Cathedral Bridge wallpaper

I’ve suspected that Mitch McConnell (Repug-KY) was some kind of automated android made by the Koch brothers, for years. This android has been programmed to repeat the same doggerel over and over regardless of the facts:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared Tuesday that Republicans intend to use the debt limit as “leverage” to extract concessions from Democrats, setting up a direct confrontation with President Barack Obama, who has vowed that raising the debt limit is non-negotiable.

The bulk of the deficit was in fact run up by McConnell (R-KY) and his fellow kool-aid drinkers, and Obama has paid too much attention to bringing the deficit down in order to appease the radical right tea smokers and conservative Democrats. It is all the same old tiresome sky is falling BS. These are the conservative ransom demands,

We’ll refrain from deliberately sabotaging the global economy, Speaker John Boehner and the other leaders said, if President Obama allows more oil drilling on federal lands. And drops regulations on greenhouse gases. And builds the Keystone XL oil pipeline. And stops paying for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And makes it harder to sue for medical malpractice. And, of course, halts health care reform for a year.

The list would be laughable if the threat were not so serious. A failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause a default on government debt, shattering the world’s faith in Treasury bonds as an investment vehicle and almost certainly bringing on another economic downturn. Unlike a government shutdown, a default could leave the Treasury without enough money to pay Social Security benefits or the paychecks of troops.

The full effects remain unknown because no Congress has ever allowed the government to go over the brink before. The Government Accountability Office estimated that simply by threatening to default in 2011, Republicans cost taxpayers $1.3 billion in higher interest payments because of that uncertainty. The 10-year cost of those higher-interest bonds is $18.9 billion.

Conservatives are obviously not fiscally conservative in the vain of being prudent with the nations’ wealth and resources. On the contrary, they would rather sink the ship than act like reasonable representatives of the people’s interests. And no, in no way do far right conservatives represent the interests of the people. The Great Recession pulled back the curtain on the Right’s fake populism. They fought tooth and nail to protect the bankers who caused the financial collapse, fighting then and now against even modest financial reform.

How The Capital Created By American Families is Redistributed to Plutocratic Corporations

Add It Up: The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business

That’s over and above our payments to the big companies for energy and food and housing and health care and all our tech devices. It’s $6,000 that no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy.

The $6,000 figure is an average, which means that low-income families are paying less. But it also means that families (households) making over $72,000 are paying more than $6,000 to the corporations.

1. $870 for Direct Subsidies and Grants to Companies

The Cato Institute estimates that the U.S. federal government spends $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. That’s an average of $870 for each one of America’s 115 million families. Cato notes that this includes “cash payments to farmers and research funds to high-tech companies, as well as indirect subsidies, such as funding for overseas promotion of specific U.S. products and industries…It does not include tax preferences or trade restrictions.”

It does include payments to 374 individuals on the plush Upper East Side of New York City, and others who own farms, including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Ted Turner. Wealthy heir Mark Rockefeller received $342,000 to NOT farm, to allow his Idaho land to return to its natural state.

It also includes fossil fuel subsidies, which could be anywhere from $10 billion to $41 billion per year for research and development. Yet this may be substantially underestimated. The IMF reports U.S. fossil fuel subsidies of $502 billion, which would be almost $4,400 per U.S. family by taking into account “the effects of energy consumption on global warming [and] on public health through the adverse effects on local pollution.” According to Grist, even this is an underestimate.

2. $696 for Business Incentives at the State, County, and City Levels

The subsidies mentioned above are federal subsidies. A New York Times investigation found that states, counties and cities give up over $80 billion each year to companies, with beneficiaries coming from “virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains.”

$80 billion a year is $696 for every U.S. family. But the Times notes that “The cost of the awards is certainly far higher.”

3. $722 for Interest Rate Subsidies for Banks

According to the Huffington Post, the “U.S. Government Essentially Gives The Banks 3 Cents Of Every Tax Dollar.” They cite research that calculates a nearly 1 percent benefit to banks when they borrow, through bonds and customer deposits and other liabilities. This amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion, or about $722 from every American family.

The wealthiest five banks — JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs — account for three-quarters of the total subsidy. The Huffington Post article notes that without the taxpayer subsidy, those banks would not make a profit. In other words, “the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders.”

4. $350 for Retirement Fund Bank Fees

This was a tough one to calculate. Demos reports that over a lifetime, bank fees can “cost a median-income two-earner family nearly $155,000 and consume nearly one-third of their investment returns.” Fees are well over one percent a year.

However, the Economic Policy Institute notes that the average middle-quintile retirement account is $34,981. A conservative one percent annual management fee translates to about $350 per family. This, again, is an average; many families have no retirement account. But many families pay much more than 1% in annual fees.

5. $1,268 for Overpriced Medications

According to Dean Baker, “government granted patent monopolies raise the price of prescription drugs by close to $270 billion a year compared to the free market price.” This represents an astonishing annual cost of over $2,000 to an average American family.

OECD figures on pharmaceutical expenditures reveal that Americans spend almost twice the OECD average on drugs, an additional $460 per capita. This translates to $1,268 per household.

6. $870 for Corporate Tax Subsidies

We’ve heard a lot about tax avoidance and tax breaks for the super-rich. With regard to corporations alone, the Tax Foundation has concluded that their “special tax provisions” cost taxpayers over $100 billion per year, or $870 per family. Corporate benefits include items such as Graduated Corporate Income, Inventory Property Sales, Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, Accelerated Depreciation, and Deferred taxes.

Once again, it may be even worse. Citizens for Tax Justice cite a Government Accountability Office report that calculated a loss to the Treasury of $181 billion from corporate tax expenditures. That would be almost $1,600 per family.

7. $1,231 for Revenue Losses from Corporate Tax Havens

U.S. PIRG recently reported that the average 2012 taxpayer paid an extra $1,026 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost from offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals. With 138 million taxpayers (1.2 per household), that comes to $1,231 per household.

Much More Than an Insult

Overall, American families are paying an annual $6,000 subsidy to corporations that have doubled their profits and cut their taxes in half in ten years while cutting 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and adding almost as many jobs overseas.

This is more than an insult. It’s a devastating attack on the livelihoods of tens of millions of American families. And Congress just lets it happen.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License by
Paul Buchheit   

Paul is a bright guy and maybe this time they have some solid numbers, but i generally do not trust any statistics from CATO. They are a Right-leaning libertarian think tank.

Conservatives are going to play the coming fight over the debt ceiling a few ways. One is that it is Obama’s fault for not compromising – and we all know that conservatives define compromise as giving them everything they want or they’ll throw another temper tantrumn. One other angle is that they really do not want a shut0-down, but Democrats are giving them no choice, that would also be a lie since the conservative money machine wants a shut-down, The Money Behind the Shutdown Crisis

Good ammunition in those arguments with Obamascare cons who swear the world is about to end, Obamacare explained. With maps! The curve the ACA was designed to bend is already bending

The Corporate Elite Are Redistributing Income To Themselves and Giving Americans The Shaft

Panorama View of Cumberland, Maryland 1906

Panorama View of Cumberland, Maryland 1906.  

Located on the Potomac River in the western part of the state, Cumberland was an important transportation hub early in the nation’s history.

In 1906 Teddy Roosevelt, the “trust buster” was president ( he would never get the tea bagger vote). It was the year of the Great San Francisco earthquake, the year Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was published and Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act ( something else that conservatives would defeat if up for a vote today).

Fighting Back Against Wretched Wages

OFTEN relegated to the background, America’s low-wage workers have been making considerable noise lately by deploying an unusual weapon — one-day strikes — to make their message heard: they’re sick and tired of earning just $8, $9, $10 an hour.

Their anger has been stoked by what they see as a glaring disconnect: their wages have flatlined, while median pay for chief executives at the nation’s top corporations jumped 16 percent last year, averaging a princely $15.1 million, according to Equilar, an executive compensation analysis firm.

Conservatives, most libertarians and some centrist Democrats have been saying for years that the reason we have to keep wages low is to be competitive – competitive to whom, Asia. That is and has been a race to the bottom for half of the U.S. The truth is slight more complicated, but not so much so that even your kool-aid drinking conservative neighbors can understand. By shipping jobs overseas and using that leverage to put downward pressure on wages, all the while taking away much of organized labor’s power, corporate dreams have come true. Corporate America is making record profits – that means they could be paying people a living wage and keeping jobs in the U.S. rather than do that, these corporations are putting massive sums of money in executive pockets and shareholders. Sure some of the middle-class gets some of that via their mutual funds – but most Americans do not benefit from this capital redistribution from workers to the wealthy. This is a good recent example of how the very wealthy are redistributing capital to themselves, A Pension Deficit Disorder: The Massive CEO Retirement Funds and Underfunded Worker Pensions at Firms Pushing Social Security Cuts

A major player in the national debt debate, the “Fix the Debt” campaign, is arguing that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are necessary to avoid economic disaster. Meanwhile, the corporations leading this campaign are contributing to Americans’ retirement insecurity by funneling enormous sums into their CEO retirement accounts while underfunding their employee pension funds.

Key findings:

* The 71 Fix the Debt CEOs who lead publicly held companies have amassed an average of $9 million in their company retirement funds. A dozen have more than $20 million in their accounts. If each of them converted their assets to an annuity when they turned 65, they would receive a monthly check for at least $110,000 for life.
* The Fix the Debt CEO with the largest pension fund is Honeywell’s David Cote, a long-time advocate of Social Security cuts. His $78 million nest egg is enough to provide a $428,000 check every month after he turns 65.
* Forty-one of the 71 companies offer employee pension funds. Of these, only two have sufficient assets in their funds to meet expected obligations. The rest have combined deficits of $103 billion, or about $2.5 billion on average. General Electric has the largest deficit in its worker pension fund, with $22 billion.

Although they have not remedied their own internal pension fund debts, the Fix the Debt CEOs say they have the solution for our national debt problems, which would include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

In some cases, the Fix the Debt member corporations could eliminate their pension fund deficits with cash they currently have on hand. GE, for example, has more than $85 billion in liquid assets, according to their most recent 10-K report — enough to easily wipe out their $22 billion pension deficit. But rather than fixing their own internal debts, these CEOs have embarked on an aggressive effort to persuade policymakers and the public that savings from Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are essential to addressing the country‘s financial challenges. While these CEOs have offered few details on how they would cut costs with these reforms, it would likely be by limiting access to these programs paid for by all working Americans and by yet again raising the retirement age.

The corporate elite tell the public we have to pay sub-living standard wages or we’ll have to rise prices. What they could do is make reasonable salaries – say in the $85k to $125k range. I just suggested some heresy – hey this is America and corporate executives have to make millions or they won’t work. Fine, quite and lets usher is a new generation of hard working ethical executives they care about workers and America. Some conservatives bloggers have linked to this story – Exclusive: Signs of declining economic security, saying this is the result of Obama’s policies. They cannot put two and two together. Corporate profits at at all time highs and wages at all time lows. These companies could hire, they could pay more, but they are hoarding the money for themselves. Not exactly secret information, so conservatives continue to be the worse informed people on the planet. Read the comments on this post – if we made proof of general economic knowledge a requirement for voting, these people would not be allowed to vote. In one crazy-funny comment, one commenter goes off on how the communists are to blame. There is a very similar cognitive dissonance between what the Conservative base thinks about ” free enterprise” corporate America and what they thought about Bush and Iraq. They could not, and still cannot bring themselves to believe that the Bush administration betrayed America and they can’t believe these flag waving, “free enterprise” talking American businesses have betrayed America for more wealth than they will ever need and certainly never earned.

Conservativism Is Like An Amusement Ride Without The Fun

Country Highway wallpaper

Country Highway wallpaper

This report is from June of this year, Charles Koch launching Wichita campaign about economic freedom, government overreach. A clueless elitist billionaire sounding off about how rough life is for him and  other crony capitalists who count the money they make off the backs of people who do real work and have real ideas. They call themselves libertarians because they’re not honest or honorable enough to call themselves what they really are, proto-fascists. This is another concrete reason why the Kochs and their acolytes are against regulation, manipulation plus greed pays very well,  How Goldman Made $5 Billion By Manipulating Aluminum Inventories (and Copper is Up Next).

Since there does not seem to be any kind of recording thus far ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has some wriggle room to back-track his reported assertion, Report: Scalia Approaches Godwin’s Law on Judicial Activism

Scalia opened his talk with a reference to the Holocaust, which happened to occur in a society that was, at the time, “the most advanced country in the world.” One of the many mistakes that Germany made in the 1930s was that judges began to interpret the law in ways that reflected “the spirit of the age.” When judges accept this sort of moral authority, as Scalia claims they’re doing now in the U.S., they get themselves and society into trouble.

Scalia calls himself an “originalist,” which he defined this weekend as believing that “texts should be read to mean what they were understood to mean when they were adopted.” His pretty well-known frozen-in-amber take on constitutional interpretation pits him against anyone, including his fellow Supreme Court justices, who would read the Constitution in the context of changing times and societies.

Scalia ruled that Congress does not have the right to regulate campaign financing in Citizens United, based on the concept that corporations and corporate-like entities such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads have the same rights as human citizens. That bit of judicial activism cannot be found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution. Just a couple good points here,

One, you profess a belief in originalism and for what is contained within the Constitution.  Judicial review is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution and the concept was alien to the common law concept of parliamentary supremacy.  It was only with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Marbury v. Madison, more than a decade after the ratification of the Constitution that judicial review was established as a power of the courts.  Therefore, on what basis do assert your power of judicial review?
Two, you state that every right that you hold to exist as a matter of law can be found within the words of the Constitution and that judges engage in ‘judicial activism’ when they find rights other than those specifically listed.  How do you reconcile this view with the plain words of the Ninth Amendment, which states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

And of course there is the general conservative tendency to bend or rewrite history. The rise of Nazism in Germany has been well documented, its roots in the consequences and reaction to the Treaty of Versailles, a nationalism and nativism making antisemitism a large part of the appeal of Nazism.  Once Hitler became chancellor (prime minister) he and the Nazi party tried to destroy any possible rivals to his position, rearmed Germany, and launched a campaign of violence against the Jews. He became the dictator by burning the Reichstag building and blaming the communists. The general public, or enough of them anyway were worked up into a state of fear and hysteria allowing Hitler to suspend civil rights. No court rulings required. With a Nazi majority in the Reichstag, Hitler was then able to pass The Enabling Act, which gave him complete legislative and executive power for four years. Any regular court rulings Hitler did not like were ignored, not that at the time, there were any. Hitler established his own court so that he could carry out his agenda with the gaze of what appeared to be legal proceedings, The People’s Court,

The People’s Court (German: Volksgerichtshof) was a Sondergericht, a special court, established in 1934 by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who had been dissatisfied with the outcome of the Reichstag Fire Trial (all but one of the accused were acquitted). The “People’s Court” was set up outside the operations of the constitutional frame of law. The court had jurisdiction over a rather broad array of “political offenses,” which included crimes like black marketeering, work slowdowns, defeatism and treason against the Third Reich. These crimes were viewed by the court as Wehrkraftzersetzung (“disintegration of defensive capability”) and were accordingly punished severely. The death penalty was meted out in numerous cases in this court.

The Court handed down an enormous number of death sentences under Judge-President Roland Freisler, including those that followed the July 20 Plot to kill Hitler. Many of those found guilty by the Court died in the Plötzensee prison. The proceedings of the court were often even less than show trials in that some cases, such as that of Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans Scholl and fellow White Rose activists concluded in less than an hour, without evidence being presented or arguments made by either side.

Just my take, I would resist the temptation to call Scalia crazy. Since we do not have actual clinical evidence for that. Though we can assume, with what he has reportedly said on this and other occasions, that he is a malevolent zealot who has dishonored the nation’s highest court.

Quite a few years back a formerly Republican judge noted that conservatives had too often decided to take political and constitutional positions and than scurried around trying to find rationale for them. That continues to this day and seems to be getting worse.

Food, Work and The Deep Moral Corruption of Conservatism

Japanese World Map

Japanese World Map, created between 1850-1900. The map is from a woodcut engraving and shows an enormous archipelago representing Japan at the center of the world. The interesting characters drawn in the insets are of a Russian soldier. The inset texts have a very brief history of each country.

House Republicans cheer as they pass farm bill without food stamps or a future, which is like the time they cheered for death for anyone who did not have health insurance. It is certainly the same as cheering for misery.

House Republicans cheered as they passed their special farm-not-food farm bill by the skin of their teeth Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t clear in the immediate run-up to the vote if Republicans would have the votes, and then Democrats forced repeated procedural votes as a protest against the Republican leadership’s decision to separate the farm subsidies part of the traditional farm bill from funding for nutrition programs.

The way forward is murky for the bill, since the Senate already passed a farm bill including both farms and food and isn’t likely to agree to strip out the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program in conference…

..In other words, that what they passed won’t pass the Senate or get the president’s signature is not the issue. This is about John Boehner, and his need to show he could get the House Republicans he ostensibly leads to pass something, anything, to make up for his farm bill failure last month. And he barely got it through: The 216-208 vote was only good enough for passage because some Republicans were absent.

In the bizarre alternate reality in which conservatives live, money to feed hungry people is money down a endless void. Be fore we proceed to see how food assistance is both good for the country in terms of economics and American ideals like humanitarianism, this bit from the far Right Heritage Foundation, Food Stamps Don’t Stimulate Economic Growth

The number of Americans on food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is at historic highs, but some on the left—like Paul Krugman—think that’s not such a bad thing because, as they argue, food stamps “stimulate” the economy:

We desperately needed (and still need) public policies to promote higher spending on a temporary basis.… [E]ach dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. [gross domestic product] by about $1.70—which means, by the way, that much of the money laid out to help families in need actually comes right back to the government in the form of higher revenue.

Others on the left have made similar statements about SNAP stimulus. What’s the problem with this argument?

First, food stamps are intended to serve as a temporary safety net for those who face economic hardship, not as an economic stimulus. To justify food stamps as a stimulus to raise government revenue ignores the long-term economic consequences of welfare spending.

Maybe I’m giving them too much credit, but I think that is a pretty clever. She does not in anyway rebut the food stamp argument directly, she suddenly shifts, to a yea but it adds to the total national debt in the long term argument. That is not true either, but it gives the typical Fox News viewer or Breitbart reader the kind of mental rationale they need to repeat it to the point of nausea. First, just the numbers that would relate to being a drain on taxpayers,

When the money goes to people, they spend it and stimulate the economy on the order of $1.5 to 1.7 for every dollar spent. This means that the $78 billion spent on food stamps in 2011 led to $115 billion in overall economic activity.

That $37 billion is how tax payers get their money back, grocery stores make money and pay some taxes, food suppliers and farmers make money and pay some taxes. Oh, and of course this $37 billion helps people keep and create jobs. And frankly I don’t care about that and no one with a conscience should. Even if the program came out even $78 billion spent to $78 billion in economic activity, people need to eat. Conservatives do not seem to have much in the way of moral qualms about people going hungry, but most Americans do. Some more numbers and some stuff about people who conservatives think should just drop dead,

Advocates for the poor consider such cuts unconscionable. Food stamps, they argue, are far from lavish. Only those with incomes of 130% of the poverty level or less are eligible for them. The amount each person receives depends on their income, assets and family size, but the average benefit is $133 a month and the maximum, for an individual with no income at all, is $200. Those sums are due to fall soon, when a temporary boost expires. Even the current package is meagre. Melissa Nieves, a recipient in New York, says she compares costs at five different supermarkets, assiduously collects coupons, eats mainly cheap, starchy foods, and still runs out of money a week or ten days before the end of the month.

That average comes out to about $4.43 a day. According to conservatives and their brilliant insights into the human psyche, that kind of cash is what makes people lazy and want to live off gov-mint giveaways. So here we have a issue with a political movement that is not so much about politics as about the mental state of someone who wants misery for another human being who they see as the disgusting other. A few more numbers and humans,

The majority of SNAP recipients are children or elderly–and many work. A report released in November 2012 by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service shows that 45 percent of SNAP recipients were under 18 years of age and nearly 9 percent were age 60 or older. What’s more, more than 40 percent of SNAP recipients lived in a household with earnings.

So 54% of SNAP recipients are at a place in life where they have no boot straps to pull themselves up with. This should be embarrassing to conservatives who worship the absolute god-like perfection of the free market: how can that 40% work 40 or more hours a week and still not earn enough not to qualify for food assistance. Spoiler alert, I have part of the answer to that mystery: employers like Walmart, Target, McDonalds, Applesees, Sears. Taco Bell, Amazon and most retail grocery chains do not pay most of their employees a living wage, but they all have executive management that takes home millions – far more than they earned, deserve or need for a comfortable life. The same people Republican governors have cut taxes for and the same executives that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan wanted yet another tax cut. And like a dovetail joint those tax cuts for people who rob from their employees to give to themselves we have the deep wisdom of the Koch brothers, Billionaire Koch Brother Says Eliminating The Minimum Wage Will Help The Poor.

The Kansas ad does not specifically mention the minimum wage, but it does claim that Americans earning $34,000 a year should count themselves as lucky, because that puts them in the top 1 percent of the world. “That is the power of economic freedom,” the ad concluded. Meanwhile, Charles and David Koch are the ones comfortably in the 1 percent, with a net worth of about 1 million times that figure. Watch the ad:

The ad cites a report from the Koch-funded Fraser Institute showing that “The United States used to be a world leader in economic freedom but our ranking fell. And it’s projected to decline even further.” (That same Fraser report interestingly ranks Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Chile ahead of the U.S. Those places all have government-run health care, which the Kochs adamantly oppose.)

The Kochs were sent to elite colleges by their wealthy dad, from who they also inherited a large fortune. They did some really innovative stuff like buy some paper mills, some companies they make artificial carpeting synthesized from petroleum products. Most of their money now comes from their money. When you’re that rich and reach a certain threshold of wealth, your money by way of very safe investments and interests pays back huge sums of money. Listening to them give advice how how to get out of a low wage job is to listen to someone who is truly clueless. Someone who has never achieved anything on their own because they started out life, not a step up the ladder, but on top of the ladder charging fees to anyone who wanted to get on. The picture at this link says basically the same thing Lincoln said about labor being superior to capital, People like the Kochs, Romneys, Gold-Sachs, Bank of America, the Walton family, the Coors family, Sheldon Adelson take our ideas, they take our labor, they take our talent, they frequently take our health, they take our jobs during a takeover or export them to Asia, then turn around and call us the takers. It is close to the Antebellum plantation owners calling the slaves ungrateful for all the opportunities they provided.

Just another day of fake values conservatism and political puppet shows

Calm Harbor wallpaper

Calm Harbor wallpaper

I’m not sure what to make of this, it is a combination of surreal and free public relations for Marco Rubio’s (R-Fl) 2016 presidential run, Senate, 68 to 32, Passes Overhaul for Immigration

The strong 68-to-32 vote in the often polarized Senate tossed the issue into the House, where the Republican leadership has said that it will not take up the Senate measure and is instead focused on much narrower legislation that would not provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million unauthorized immigrants in the country. Party leaders hope that the Senate action will put pressure on the House.

Leading up to the final votes, which the senators cast at their desks to mark the import of the moment, members of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight,” who drafted the framework of the legislation, took to the Senate floor to make a final argument for the measure. Among them was Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who is one of his party’s leading Hispanic voices. When Mr. Rubio finished, the other senators in the group surrounded him on the floor, patting him on the back and offering words of encouragement. “Good job,” one said. “I’m proud of you,” another offered.

I’ll admit that my initial thought was this is meaningless. On reconsideration I can see the political gears at work. It does make the House ( with a fair sized conservative majority) look like regressive cave dwellers. In the short run, illegal immigrants whose situation deserves some humanitarian consideration, still get the shaft, but long term – the 2014 mid-terms and beyond, this is an issue that will rev up the Democratic base. Even though the Senate version of reform is destined for the trash, it also gives Rubio and McCain (R-AZ) political cover. Come election, they can claim that they tried. For conservative senator who have a large Latino constituency, this was political theater put on for the sake of appearances. Last but not least, it was a awful bill, filled with poison pills, Historic Immigration Overhaul Clears Senate, but a Hostile House Awaits

The Senate’s final vote, with 14 Republicans joining all Democrats, was the result of dozens of lawmakers accepting things that they would normally reject for the sake of passing a comprehensive bill. Democrats still fret that the bill’s massive influx of troops and drones on the border, requested by Republicans, will create militarized zones and hurt local communities. Republicans fear that the path to citizenship, requested by Democrats, will encourage more illegal immigration in the future.

In that sense, the bill’s passage also marks a rare example where lawmakers compromised on a tough issue at a time when the political differences of both parties are so stark.

The moment isn’t lost on the GOP-controlled House, where Republicans are deeply divided on whether to give undocumented immigrants any type of legal status. At least half of them are solid ‘no’ votes on anything approaching the Senate proposal. Many think illegal immigrants should not become citizens under the procedures set forth in the Senate bill. The House members are working their way through a series of smaller measures that they hope can compete with the Senate bill.

House Republicans are unmoved by the sense of urgency projected by immigration reform advocates. “The bottom line is it’s been since 1986 that there was legislation related to immigration reform. I don’t know what a couple more months is going to hurt,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chairs the House Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Subcommittee.

Drones and troops? Once again conservatives can find money for drones, tax cuts for the wealthy, and excessive, expensive and burdensome use of the military, but not money for food assistance or education. With our current laws, regulations and border security, illegal immigration is down and seems to have leveled off. So the weird notion that reform will encourage illegal immigration is not justified anymore than the wacky use of drones. Gowdy is correct in a backwards kind of way, there is no urgency in terms of stopping illegal immigration, this hysteria over illegal immigrants is the kind of rabid historical nativism that has driven the far Right for decades. We have far more pressing issues facing the country, yet somehow not finding a way for a seventeen year old who has been here since she was five is a hot button issue.

Rick Perry Attacks Wendy Davis: ‘She Was A Teenage Mother Herself’

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) directly attacked state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) during a speech at the National Right To Life conference on Thursday, arguing that the state senator who filibustered for 13 hours to defeat an omnibus anti-abortion bill should have learned from her own life experiences as a single mother to value “every life.”

“Who are we to say that children born into the worst of circumstances can’t grow to live successful lives?” Perry asked, before suggesting that Davis’ own struggles should have turned her against abortion..

[  ]…Perry’s policies are actually likely to encourage more unintended teen pregnancies. After the Texas governor defunded Planned Parenthood and slashed family planning funding, dozens of women’s health clinics in the state were forced to close. Studies from the state’s health department and the New England Journal of Medicine have both projected that fewer women in Texas now have access to birth control, and more of them will accidentally get pregnant.
Update

Davis responds:

Sen. @WendyDavisTexas: “Rick Perry’s statement is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds.” #sb5 #txlege

If one wants to see Perry’s concern for life as genuine than logically and in terms of morality, those concerns must extend beyond birth. Perry, nor any conservative, governs with an eye towards actually respecting life. It is odd, among other things, that Perry sees life solely in terms of one biological point of view – a mass of cells constitutes a being in all circumstances. A point of view that he and many conservatives would use to use the heavy hand of government to decide what health choices for every woman in every circumstance. That is not what Perry or any government official is morally, politically or philosophically capable of doing. Perry and the ironically named National Right To Life see themselves as demi-gods, having both the medical and moral authority to hand out the exact same judgement in every situation. That is not respect for life, that is rampant arrogance and moral disregard for the actual pregnant human being. I did not have to look far for the other hypocrisy here. The rabid Right’s contempt for life outside the womb and for the women who do decide to give birth, Schlafly: Latinos aren’t Republicans because of ‘illegitimate’ babies and handouts. Schlafly has never had much respect for facts or American values. Red state whites with a high school education are getting most of what she considers hand-outs. And so it goes. Just another day of fake values conservatism and political puppet shows.