What Conservatives Believe Versus The Real Economy

Morning Meadow wallpaper

Morning Meadow wallpaper

Even before I started this blog and the Bush-Cheney administration watching conservatives try to be populists was like watching ninety-nine clowns on acid try to fit into a VW Beetle. Something has changed about such mind boggling efforts on the part of the conservative movement. The disconnect between what they say, what they believe and reality has never been greater. Conservatives can try to be on the side of the working class and complain about the pace of job creation under President Obama, even though that goes against the conservative mantra that markets are perfect and will decide how many jobs will be created. Let’s assume that have the trolls on the internet who claim to be conservative small business owners, are actually what they claim. They complain about the lack of growth, or put another way the lack of demand. Yet they shift blame to Obama, not the market, not the salary level of the average worker who cannot afford anything other than the basic necessities. The base, the tea smoking immigrant hating nativists at the bottom seem blind to the fact that hiring is slow, but executive pay and corporate profits at at historic highs. The tea smoker base cannot seem to put two and two together; the corporate elite that crashed the economy with the help of the anti-regulation wave that started under Saint Ronnie Raygun is still stronger than ever because the same tea smoking base don’t want no more stink’n regulations that might help put some of the money the plutocrats are stealing from the economy back in the tea smoker’s pockets: Some Filthy Facts about the Rich

The 400 richest Americans made $200 billion in just one year. That’s equivalent to the combined total of the federal food stamp, education, and housing budgets.First of all, who are they? Mostly the 1%. But the top 2-5% have also done quite well, increasing their inflation-adjusted wealth by 75 percent from 1983 to 2009 while average wealth went down for 80 percent of American households. The rest of the top 20% have been prosperous, realizing a 32 percent gain in inflation-adjusted wealth since 1983. The facts to follow are primarily about the richest 1%, with occasional dips into the groups scrambling to make it to the top.

1. Accumulating almost all the wealth

As evidence of the extremes between the very rich and the rest of us, the average household net worth for the top 1% in 2009 was almost $14 million, while the average household net worth for the bottom 47% was almost ZERO. For nearly half of America, average debt is about the same as average asset ownership.

The extremes are just as filthy at the global level. The richest 300 persons on earth (about a third of them in the U.S.) have more money than the poorest 3 billion people. Out of all developed and undeveloped countries with at least a quarter-million adults, the U.S. has the 4th-highest degree of wealth inequality in the world, trailing only Russia, Ukraine, and Lebanon.

2. Creating their own wealth

In another alarming testament to wealth at the top, the richest 10% own almost 90 percent of stocks excluding pensions. Consider what that means. The stock market has historically risen three times faster than the GDP itself. Since the recession, as the U.S. economy has “recovered,” 62 percent of the gain was due to growth in the stock market, which surged as much in four years as it did during the “greatest bull market in history” from 1996 to 2000.

Many stock owners see a couple thousand dollars added to their fortunes every time they go online.

But that’s not enough for the very rich. Thanks in good part to the derivatives market, the world’s wealth has doubled in ten years, from $113 trillion to $223 trillion, and is expected to reach $330 trillion by 2017. The financial industry has figured out how to double or triple its buying power while most of the world has proportionately less.

3. Taking ALL the income gains

If the richest 1% had taken the same percentage of total U.S. income in 2006 as they did in 1980, they would have taken a trillion dollars less out of the economy. Instead they tripled their share of post-tax income. And then they captured ALL the income gains in the first two years of the post-recession recovery.

4. Donating a smaller share than the poorest Americans

Two dependable sources provide pretty much the same information. Barclays reported that those with earnings in the top 20% donated on average 1.3 percent of their income, whereas those in the bottom 20% donated 3.2 percent. And according to the New York Times, the nonprofit Independent Sector found that households earning less than $25,000 a year gave away an average of 4.2 percent of their incomes, while those with earnings of more than $75,000 gave away 2.7 percent.

5. Making enough to feed 800 million people

India just approved a program to spend $4 billion a year to feed 800 million people. Half of Indian children under 5 are malnourished.

In 2012, three members of the Walton family each made over $4 billion just from stocks and other investments. So did Charles Koch, and David Koch, and Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett, and Larry Ellison, and Michael Bloomberg, and Jeff Bezos.

It’s not the obligation of any one of these individuals to feed the world. The disgrace is in the fact that our unregulated capitalist system allows such outrageous extremes to exist.

Here’s more to provoke outrage. The 400 richest Americans made $200 billion in just one year. That’s equivalent to the combined total of the federal food stamp, education, and housing budgets.

6. Taking two-thirds of a trillion dollars in subsidies

Even all that is not enough for the very rich. About two-thirds of nearly $1 trillion in individual “tax expenditures” (tax subsidies from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credits, capital gains, and loopholes) goes to the top quintile of taxpayers. An astounding 75 percent of dividend and capital gain subsidies go to the richest 1%.

And that doesn’t include business subsidies, like the $16.8 billion per year in agricultural benefits paid out to big companies and to wealthy individuals who happen to have farms in their portfolios. The filthiest fact, in terms of detestable extremes, is that much of Congress wants to cut the $4.35 a day food benefit to hungry Americans, almost half of them children, so that money can keep flowing to the top.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Written by Paul Buchheit.  

Autumn Old Truck Wallpaper – Congress is More Conservative and Corrupt Than Ever

Autumn Old Truck Wallpaper

Autumn Old Truck Wallpaper

2013, Congress is More Conservative Than Ever, But They Are The Best Congress Money Can Buy

Failed gun control legislation and a fertilizer plant explosion reveal how poisoned by big money our government is.
By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship. This piece originally appeared on BillMoyers.com.

If you want to see why the public approval rating of Congress is down in the sub-arctic range — an icy 15 percent by last count — all you have to do is take a quick look at how the House and Senate pay worship at the altar of corporations, banks and other special interests at the expense of public aspirations and need.

Traditionally, political scientists have taught their students that there are two schools of thought about how a legislator should get the job done. One is to vote yay or nay on a bill by following the will of his or her constituency, doing what they say they want. The other is to represent them as that legislator sees fit, acting in the best interest of the voters — whether they like it or not.

But our current Congress — as cranky and inert as an obnoxious old uncle who refuses to move from his easy chair — never went to either of those schools. Its members rarely have the voter in mind at all, unless, of course, that voter’s a cash-laden heavy hitter with the clout to keep an incumbent on the leash and comfortably in office.

How else to explain a Congress that still adamantly refuses to do anything, despite some 90 percent of the American public being in favor of background checks for gun purchases and a healthy majority favoring other gun control measures? Last week, they ignored the pleas of Newtown families and the siege of violence in Boston and yielded once again to the fanatical rants of Wayne LaPierre and the National Rifle Association. In just the first three months of this year, as it shoved back against the renewed push for controls, the NRA spent a record $800,000 keeping congressional members in line.

And how else to explain why corporate tax breaks have more than doubled in the last 25 years? Or why the Senate and House recently gutted the STOCK Act requiring disclosure of financial transactions by White House staff and members of Congress and their staffs and prohibiting them from insider trading? It was passed into law and signed by President Obama last year – an election year – with great self-congratulation from all involved. But fears allegedly arose that there might be security risks for some in the executive branch if their financial business was known. That concern was examined by the Columbia Journalism Review, which “consulted four cybersecurity experts from leading think tanks and private security consultancies. Each came to the same conclusion: that Congress’s rationale for scrapping the financial disclosure rules was bogus.” Nonetheless, the House and Senate leapt at the opportunity to eviscerate key sections of the STOCK Act when almost no one was watching. And the president signed it.

Then there’s the fertilizer plant in West, Texas, where last week, fire and explosion killed at least 15 — 11 of them first responders — and injured more than 200. The Reuters news service reported that the factory “had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Why wasn’t Homeland Security on top of this? For one thing, the company was required to tell the department — and didn’t. For another, budget cuts demanded by Congress mean there aren’t enough personnel available for spot inspections.

Same goes for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA. The plant hadn’t been inspected in nearly thirty years, and there are so few OSHA inspectors in Texas that it would take 98 years for them to take a look at each workplace in the state once. According to the non-partisan reform group Public Campaign, “Already only able to conduct 40,000 workplace inspections a year in a country with seven million worksites, OSHA will see its budget cut by an additional 8.2 percent this year on account of the sequester.”

Congress quietly acquiesces as the regulations meant for our safety are whittled away.

Twelve members of Congress want to make a bad situation even worse, sponsoring the industry-backed General Duty Clarification Act; its banal title hiding that, as reported by Tim Murphy at Mother Jones magazine, “The bill is designed to sap the Environmental Protection Agency of its powers to regulate safety and security at major chemical sites, as prescribed by the Clean Air Act.”

“‘We call that the Koch brothers bill,’ Greenpeace legislative director Rick Hind says, because the bill’s sponsor, GOP Rep. Mike Pompeo, represents the conservative megadonors’ home city of Wichita, Kansas. (The sponsor of the sister legislation in the senate, GOP Sen. Pat Roberts, represents the Kochs’ home state of Kansas.) The brothers have huge investments in fertilizer production, and Hind thinks they’ll ultimately get what they want, whether or not the bill becomes law.”

No coincidence, perhaps, that the sponsors of the House bill and Senator Roberts, Public Campaign reports, “have collectively taken over $670,000 from the chemical manufacturing industry over their careers.” Since 2011, the industry has spent $85.1 million lobbying.

Congress quietly acquiesces as the regulations meant for our safety are whittled away. The progressive website ThinkProgress notes that even though food related infections — which kill 3,000 and sicken 48 million Americans each year — rose last year, congressional and White House budget cuts may mean up to 600 fewer food inspectors at meat and poultry plants, leaving it up to the industry to police itself. That rot you’re smelling isn’t just some bad hamburger.

It’s true that ninety-two percent of Americans say, yes, reducing the deficit and spending cuts are important, but all on their own the people have figured out cuts that make more sense than anything Congress and its corporate puppeteers want to hear about. Mattea Kramer, research director at the National Priorities Project, says “a strong majority” — 73 percent of us — want a reduced reliance on fossil fuels, and fifty percent want something done about climate change. A carbon tax would help with both, and raise an estimated $125 billion every year. Response from Congress: crickets.

Fifty eight percent of the U.S., according to Gallup, wants “major cuts in military and defense spending,” the average American favoring a reduction of 18 percent. Good luck — the Pentagon and defense contractors already are bellowing about the puny 1.6 percent reduction called for in the new White House budget.

Mattea Kramer writes that Americans for Tax Fairness, a coalition of 280 organizations, has “identified 10-year budgetary savings of $2.8 trillion simply by limiting or eliminating a plethora of high-income and corporate tax loopholes.” Congress is busily revising the tax code as we speak but how many of those loopholes and other perks like credits and deductions do you bet will go away?

Not many if the lobbying industry has anything to do with it. The House Ways and Means Committee has eleven working groups considering rewrites and according to the congressional newspaper The Hill, they’re quietly meeting with lobbyists and other interests – “deep pocketed players” — all the time. Keep your eye on who’s donating to the re-election campaigns of each of those working group members as we move toward the midterms next year.

Over on the Senate side, The New York Times recently reported those seeking to cut taxes and hang onto their incentives as the code is revised have found one strategy that seems to work – hire firms that employ former aides to Democratic Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The Times analyzed lobbying files and found at least 28 of his ex-staffers “have lobbied on tax issues during the Obama administration – more than any other current member of Congress.”

Reporter Eric Lipton writes, “… Many of those lobbyists have already saved their clients millions — in some cases, billions — of dollars after Mr. Baucus backed their requests to extend certain corporate tax perks, provisions that were adopted as part of the so-called fiscal cliff legislation in January.”

Senator Baucus’ spokesman was quick to say that his boss regularly rejects requests as well, but the fact is, he added, “Oftentimes good policy can indirectly benefit someone. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.”

Just so. Which is why, for example, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader who likes to complain about the current tax code’s four million words of red tape – seven times the length of War and Peace — will doubtless support tightening loopholes, right? A January report from Public Campaign Action Fund, found that, “Companies that lobbied against bringing jobs back to America and ending tax breaks for offshoring have given McConnell one million dollars to win his elections and look out for their interests.” In other words: don’t hold your breath.

No wonder the biggest newspaper in his native Kentucky said in a recent editorial that McConnell “has long ceased to serve the state, instead serving the corporate interests he counts on for contributions and leading obstruction that continues to plague Congress.”

Sadly, such is the way of Washington, home of the scheme and the fraud, where the unbreakable chain between money and governance weighs heavy and drags us ever deeper into a sinkhole of inaction and mediocrity.

Bill Moyers is managing editor of the new weekly public affairs program, “Moyers & Company,” airing on public television. Check local airtimes or comment at http://www.BillMoyers.com.

Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos and a senior writer of the new series, Moyers & Company, airing on public television.

Fantasy Summer wallpaper – Three Big Lies Perpetuated by the Plutocrats and Their Congressional Republican Minions

pool, Pacific Ocean, Maldive Islands

Fantasy Summer wallpaper

Three Big Lies Perpetuated by the Plutocrats and Their Congressional Republican Minions

1. Higher taxes on the rich will hurt small businesses and discourage job creators

A recent Treasury analysis found that only 2.5% of small businesses would face higher taxes from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

As for job creation, it’s not coming from the people with money. Over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, real estate, and personal business accounts. Angel investing (capital provided by affluent individuals for business start-ups) accounted for less than 1% of the investable assets of high net worth individuals in North America in 2011. The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey agreed that the very rich spend less than two percent of their money on new business startups.

The Wall Street Journal noted, in way of confirmation, that the extra wealth created by the Bush tax cuts led to the “worst track record for jobs in recorded history.”

Covered here and in various places before. Taxes will be low enough for conservatives when people starve rather than get food assistance. When grandma dies instead of getting Medicare. When millions of Americans die because conservatives have repealed health care reform (the ACA, New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage). Taxes will be low enough when the federal government cannot stop mining companies from putting 12 year olds back to work in mines. Taxes will be low enough when the gov’mint cannot stop the Koch brothers from poisoning your family. When cannot really say these things. These basic truths because gosh they sound so mean. What political movement would stand for such things. The broadcast media certainly is not going to call out Republicans on the substance of their agenda. Matt Lauer for example, seems like a nice guy and that is the problem, he and every other “news” host in the morning is more worried about being popular and getting ratings than calling a radical agenda, a radical agenda. This is an example of what happens when conservatives paint a target on your back, Thanks to Michele Bachmann(R-Minn.) Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin Gets Extra Police Protection. I’ve heard that HBO’s The Newsroom has its fans and critics, but imagine that kind of reporting on the morning infotainment shows or what is euphemistically called the evening news. Instead we have the watered down tripe of conservative bedwetter’s dreams. An ignorant citizenry is a good citizenry as far as Republicans are concerned.

2. Individual initiative is all you need for success.

President Obama was criticized for a speech which included these words: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own…when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

‘Together’ is the word that winner-take-all conservatives seem to forget. Even the richest and arguably most successful American, Bill Gates, owes most of his good fortune to the thousands of software and hardware designers who shaped the technological industry over a half-century or more. A careful analysis of his rise shows that he had luck, networking skills, and a timely sense of opportunism, even to the point of taking the work of competitors and adapting it as his own.

Of course one has to have some initiative to start a business, but no one has ever done so without the kind of modern civilization made possible by the wealthy paying their share of the burden. A Fox news host recently made the argument, wow, the rich pay forty percent of the taxes. So what. They should be paying more. A millionaire whose income comes mostly from capital gains has a tax rate of 15%. That is lower than a Wisconsin teacher who makes $40k a year. There is a third myth, but let me insert this poll first, The Hill Poll: Majority of voters blame president for bad economy

Two-thirds of likely voters say the weak economy is Washington’s fault, and more blame President Obama than anybody else, according to a new poll for The Hill.

It found that 66 percent believe paltry job growth and slow economic recovery is the result of bad policy. Thirty-four percent say Obama is the most to blame, followed by 23 percent who say Congress is the culprit. Twenty percent point the finger at Wall Street, and 18 percent cite former President George W. Bush.

[  ]…While voters feel Obama carries a greater portion of the blame than others, the poll found almost 6-in-10 are unhappy with the actions of Republicans in Congress who have challenged the president on an array of policy initiatives.

Fifty-seven percent of voters said congressional Republicans have impeded the recovery with their policies, and only 30 percent overall believe the GOP has done the right things to boost the economy. ( Obama also has more confidence among independents, bad news for Mittens)

The thing is that Wall Street, corporate America, the bankers are enjoying a full economic recovery. The jobs just are not there and Republicans in the House, where they have a majority will not vote for an job creation bills – they have voted to repeal the ACA 33 times. Even though Democrats have a slight majority in the Senate, Republicans threaten to filibuster everything so again, no jobs bills – there is a very slim chance of Democrats in the Senate getting a super majority of 60, thus killing the parliamentary obstruction of Republicans.

3. A booming stock market is good for all of us

The news reports would have us believe that happy days are here again when the stock market goes up. But as the market rises, most Americans are getting a smaller slice of the pie.

In a recent Newsweek article, author Daniel Gross gushed that “The stock market has doubled since March 2009, while corporate profits and exports have surged to records.”

But the richest 10% of Americans own over 80% of the stock market. What Mr. Gross referred to as the “democratization of the stock market” is actually, as demonstrated by economist Edward Wolff, a distribution of financial wealth among just the richest 5% of Americans, those earning an average of $500,000 per year.

Think of the US economy as a value producing machine. Labor goes in and capital comes out. When the plutocrats divide up that capital they’re trickling down on the American labor force, and conservatives like it that way. I did a recent post on the subject of who were the real capitalists, but this one has a lot more statistics and charts, Democrats Crush Republicans as Capitalists in the White House

From the internet rag known non-ironically, as Hot Air (Michelle Malkin and her posse), Flashback: Obama praised welfare work requirements his administration just gutted. posted at 4:01 pm on July 20, 2012 by Rob Bluey

During his run for the presidency in 2008, Barack Obama praised the work requirements that were the centerpiece of welfare reform — the very requirements his administration just gutted last week.

[  ]…Obama’s administration last Thursday gutted the work requirements that were part of reforms to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in 1996. The welfare reform law became a signature accomplishment for President Bill Clinton and the Republican-led Congress.

Bob is too lazy to do his research or he is lying. Anyway it good that they bring up the subject at all. It is an embarrassment  to the internet trolls and Fox News who spread the urban myth about federal giveaways where people can live in luxury at government expense. TANF has a forty hour work week requirement. You can only collect it for a total of five years out of your entire lifetime. You literally cannot own anything to get it. If you still live in a house and drive a twenty year old beater, you’re most likely disqualified. Another factoid that ruins this Obama is giving free tax payer stuff away narrative is that the changes in TANF are good for the states, business, the unemployed and even right-wing hero Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi likes it, Stimulus Jobs on State’s Bill in Mississippi

“I applied for everything, found nothing,” said Ms. Bolton, 37.

That finally changed when the two were hired by a paper-napkin factory here last month, placing them in the vanguard of a new approach that Mississippi and a growing number of states are taking to get people working again. Their salaries will initially be paid by the State of Mississippi, which is tapping into a relatively small pot of welfare money in last year’s stimulus package that can be used to subsidize jobs directly.

Now they are being trained on the machines here at the Hattiesburg Paper Company, learning to turn mammoth rolls of paper into folded dinner napkins and toilet paper. The general manager, Steve Swiggum, said the state’s offer to subsidize the salaries helped push the company to accelerate its hiring.

[  ]…If the idea of subsidized jobs is seen as liberal in some circles, it seems to have bipartisan appeal at the state level. Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, one of the nation’s most prominent Republicans, said he saw the state’s program as being in the spirit of the welfare overhaul.

“It’s welfare to work,” he said.

The state can spend up to $43 million on the program, which officials estimate could create as many as 3,500 jobs — the equivalent of several factory openings, but only a small dent in the problem for a state that had 133,000 unemployed residents in December. Only a few dozen workers have been hired since the program began last month after receiving federal approval.

Mississippi’s decision to pay for jobs in the private sector means that the public is paying to create jobs that will provide little public benefit. But Mr. Barbour said he believed it to be the best way to improve the economy.

The last program similar to this one was signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon, ended during the Reagan administration.  That one did go on for too long and became abused toward the end, but it did put people to work. Again, the amount of money involved is a drop in the bucket compared to the subsidies, tax breaks and giveaways to big business.

Preview: Chris Hedges on Capitalism’s ‘Sacrifice Zones’

BILL MOYERS: Fit this all together for me. What does the suffering of the Native American on the Pine Ridge Reservation have to do with the unemployed coal miner in West Virginia have to do with the inner-city African-American in Camden have to do with the single man working for m– minimum wage or less in Immokalee, Florida? What ties that all together?

CHRIS HEDGES: Greed. It’s greed over human life. And it’s the willingness on the part of people who seek personal enrichment to destroy other human beings. That’s a common thread. And I think when you use the word “complicit,” it’s true. We — in that biblical term — we forgot our neighbor. And because we forgot our neighbor in Pine Ridge, because we forgot our neighbor in Camden, in Southern West Virginia, in the produce fields, these forces have now turned on us. They went first, and we’re next.

Black and White Little City Harbor wallpaper – Conservatives Do Care About The Environment, Debates Were Recycled Garbage

bay lights, harbor at night

Black and White Little City Harbor wallpaper

The NYT, Politico and every other news outlet is describing the conservative debates in Iowa as some kind of clash of gladiators. All I saw as some people with no ideas, corrupt values, neck-deep in hypocrisy throw powder puffs at each other. if anyone forces you to listen to this crop of wretches, thieves, self-righteous miscreants, government subsidy queens, gay hating bigots and hoodlums in designer clothes, you would have a good case for filing a compliant based on mental torture. Want to know what economic plans they stand for? Look up the history of Europe’s most despotic monarchs. We must keep America’s kings, queens, princes, dukes and duchesses in their hollowed halls other wise they will stop throwing crumbs to the masses. Some of the coded language is interesting – 8 From G.O.P. Trade Attacks at Iowa Debate

The simmering animosity that has been building among some contenders broke into full view during the two-hour debate, with Representative Michele Bachmann defending her legislative accomplishments, her economic ideas and her experience to serve as president. She batted away the criticism, smiling at times and swinging at others, trying to prove she could take the heat.

The Reality: “A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Huffington Post with three separate federal agencies reveals that on at least 16 separate occasions, Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid.”

At one point, Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, raised his hand for attention and asked moderators to be included. When he finally was given his turn, he went after nearly all of his rivals, accusing Mrs. Bachmann of “showmanship, not leadership” by opposing raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Strange times when an off the wall nutter like Rick is the voice of fiscal sanity.

A couple more items from this report by ABC News – Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty Take Gloves Off At Iowa Debate

“I’m not going to eat Barack Obama’s dog food,” Romney said, referring to the debt agreement, which raises the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. “What he served up is not what I would have as president of the United States.”

Actually that would be John Boehner’s (R-OH) “dog food” – whatever that means, since Boehner the Speaker of the House claimed he got 98% of what he wanted.  Everyone knows there would have been no debt ceiling issue at all if there was a Republican president dealing with a Republican House. That whole cooked up crisis was all about spite and malice, not what was good for the country. It certainly wasn’t about ideological consistency as Reagan and Bush both had the debt ceiling raised multiple times with very little debate. What would Romney have done if challenged, let the economy take a bigger nose dive. He has never shown a tendency to political suicide so that means he’s just tossing peanuts from the grandstands.

It wasn’t just Bachmann and Pawlenty who clashed. Rep. Ron Paul and former Senator Rick Santorum got into a lengthy back and forth regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions, with Paul arguing that Iran doesn’t pose a threat to America’s safety.

“Iran is not Iceland, Ron” Santorum chided. “Anyone who suggests Iran is not a threat to the Middle East is not seeing the world very clearly.”

Ron Paul has a very tenuous grasp on sanity. Though I have to give him credit for not wetting himself over the trumped-up national security threats of his fellow conservatives.

And the last word goes to Romney,

“If you spend your life in the private sector and you understand how jobs come and how they go,” Romney said, “you understand that what President Obama has done is the exact opposite of what needs to be done.”

If there was a national contest for the poster child of clueless corporate handmaiden Romney would easily make the finals. Stephen Colbert explains: Corporations and context

“You see, Romney made a Mittload of cash using what’s known as a leveraged buyout. He’d buy a company with ‘money borrowed against their assets, groomed them to be sold off and in the interim collect huge management fees.’ Once Mitt had control of the company, he’d cut frivolous spending like ‘jobs,’ ‘workers,’ ‘employees,’ and ‘jobs.’ […]

“Because Mitt Romney knows just how to trim the fat. He rescued businesses like Dade Behring, Stage Stories, American Pad and Paper, and GS Industries, then his company sold them for a profit of $578 million after which all of those firms declared bankruptcy. Which sounds bad, but don’t worry, almost no one worked there anymore.

“Besides, a businessman can’t be weighed down with a bleeding heart. As one former Bain employee put it, ‘It was very clinical…. Like a doctor. When the patient is dead, you just move on to the next patient.’”

[   ]…Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — and it did. Frank Rich recently explained, “In [his 1994 Senate] campaign, Romney was stalked by a ‘Truth Squad’ of striking workers from a Marion, Indiana, paper plant who had lost jobs, wages, health care, and pensions after Ampad, a Bain subsidiary, took control. Ampad eventually went bankrupt, but Bain walked away with $100 million for its $5 million investment. It was an all-too-typical Romney story.”

Romney made a classic gaffe about corporations and persondom. I understood what he meant, but he and his handlers might want to make sure he expresses those thoughts in a way that is more digestible in the future. He was giving the crowd the same tired old conservative bromide that corporations are entities that create jobs. David Dayen at Firedoglake makes a good case that the most dangerous part of Romney’s speech was his take on Social Security – Romney’s Social Security Views More Dangerous Than His “Corporations Are People” Quip. I agree but that is still only part of a monumental problem with conservatism and with many centrist Democrats. Worse in terms of overcoming a false and dangerous political message is that a good portion of the public buys into the notion that we better stand back, let corporations do whatever they like and give them whatever they want because they create jobs. Corporations are generally a few people and a small stack of paper. Those people are be brilliant or devious or both, but they are not going to make a single dollar without the labor to make the product or provide the service. Once labor is in place they must have demand. Unless they only make $80k sports cars they are going to need a working public to buy what they provide. In short corporations are a three-way partnership between the person or persons who created them, labor and their customers. Labor can create and sell things without the Romneys or Trumps. The elitists, on the other hand can do very little without labor and customers. The most essential part of the partnership is labor and other laborers (labor is anyone who is non-management and usually anyone up to middle-management, and professionals like dentists) who are customers. Romney and millions of other Americans really feel that no sacrifice is too great to prop up the corporate part of the triangle. The least valuable part. It’s a myth that looms as one of the American economy’s biggest zombies. Shift the priorities to labor and consumers, and corporations will make reasonable profits and we’ll have an economy that does not have too big to fail corporations, and is much more stable in the long haul. Obama started out with a somewhat Keynesian plan that put an emphasis on creating jobs. Now Republicans who are playing at working class populism have taken away all the Keynesian tolls to create jobs. Bachmann and Palin have both said, incredulously, that taxes and regulations are stopping job creation. Taxes are the lowest they have been in sixty years. Regulations are certainly no more onerous than the same regulations were during the Bush or Clinton era. So non-kool-aid drinkers know those prescriptions are worthless.

This is not posted as an excuse for British rioters ( there is no excuse for hurting innocents the way rioters have), but some long-term issues are in play. The elite do not terrorize a society by taking to the street. They are much more devious than that – The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom

I cannot accept that this is the case. Indeed, I believe that the criminality in our streets cannot be dissociated from the moral disintegration in the highest ranks of modern British society. The last two decades have seen a terrifying decline in standards among the British governing elite. It has become acceptable for our politicians to lie and to cheat. An almost universal culture of selfishness and greed has grown up.

[  ]…Our politicians – standing sanctimoniously on their hind legs in the Commons yesterday – are just as bad. They have shown themselves prepared to ignore common decency and, in some cases, to break the law. David Cameron is happy to have some of the worst offenders in his Cabinet. Take the example of Francis Maude, who is charged with tackling public sector waste – which trade unions say is a euphemism for waging war on low-paid workers. Yet Mr Maude made tens of thousands of pounds by breaching the spirit, though not the law, surrounding MPs’ allowances.

A great deal has been made over the past few days of the greed of the rioters for consumer goods, not least by Rotherham MP Denis MacShane who accurately remarked, “What the looters wanted was for a few minutes to enter the world of Sloane Street consumption.” This from a man who notoriously claimed £5,900 for eight laptops. Of course, as an MP he obtained these laptops legally through his expenses.

Yesterday, the veteran Labour MP Gerald Kaufman asked the Prime Minister to consider how these rioters can be “reclaimed” by society. Yes, this is indeed the same Gerald Kaufman who submitted a claim for three months’ expenses totalling £14,301.60, which included £8,865 for a Bang & Olufsen television.

Or take the Salford MP Hazel Blears, who has been loudly calling for draconian action against the looters. I find it very hard to make any kind of ethical distinction between Blears’s expense cheating and tax avoidance, and the straight robbery carried out by the looters.

The Prime Minister showed no sign that he understood that something stank about yesterday’s Commons debate. He spoke of morality, but only as something which applies to the very poor: “We will restore a stronger sense of morality and responsibility – in every town, in every street and in every estate.” He appeared not to grasp that this should apply to the rich and powerful as well.

He leaves out Tony Blair who lied Britain into Bush’s Iraq quagmire. Blair left office, wrote a book, got a huge advance, did the talk show circuit and now lives a comfortable life most of Great Britain could only dream of. Lie your fellow citizens to their deaths and be rewarded. Spend your country’s treasures on foreign policy debacles and retire in leisure. The rioters should stop their abhorrent behavior immediately. That stills leaves Britain’s elite to explain why their immoral behavior and corruption is making the U.K. a better culture.

Rick Perry Says Social Security And Medicare Are Unconstitutional – Perry did not use the gun in the photo to shoot himself in the foot. He did that with his mouth.

Fact checking the GOP debate in Iowa. Facts and conservatives remains strangers that pass in the night.