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.

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America’s Shame, Conservative Supreme Court Justices Gut Voting Rights and Freedom

The Oztoticpac Lands Map

The Oztoticpac Lands Map, c1540. This is both a map and Mexican legal document concerning a lawsuit involving the estate of Don Carlos Ometochtli Chichimecatecotl, an Aztec lord and one of the many sons of Nezahualpilli, ruler of Texcoco. Don Carlos was charged with heresy and publicly executed by the Spanish authorities on November 30, 1539. An old political trick, still in use today. Though political hitmen do not tend to have their victims hanged, if someone has something the powers that be want, trump up some spurious charges to get rid of them. The outcome of that lawsuit is not known. The map-document is historically important as the lower left is a gloss of European fruit trees and grape vines grafted onto indigenous tree stock, the only such image of this agricultural technique known to exist in any Mexican indigenous pictorial document.

On Voting Rights, A Decision As Lamentable as Plessy or Dred Scott

Let’s be clear about what has just happened. Five unelected, life-tenured men this morning declared that overt racial discrimination in the nation’s voting practices is over and no longer needs all of the special federal protections it once did. They did so, without a trace of irony, by striking down as unconstitutionally outdated a key provision of a federal law that this past election cycle alone protected the franchise for tens of millions of minority citizens. And they did so on behalf of an unrepentant county in the Deep South whose officials complained about the curse of federal oversight even as they continued to this very day to enact and implement racially discriminatory voting laws.

In deciding Shelby County v. Holder, in striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the five conservative justices of the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, didn’t just rescue one recalcitrant Alabama jurisdiction from the clutches of racial justice and universal enfranchisement. By voiding the legislative formula that determines which jurisdictions must get federal “preclearance” for changes to voting laws, today’s ruling enables officials in virtually every Southern county, and in many other jurisdictions as well, to more conveniently impose restrictive new voting rules on minority citizens. And they will. That was the whole point of the lawsuit. Here is the link to the ruling.

In a 5-4 ruling over liberal dissent, the Supreme Court today declared “accomplished” a “mission” that has become more, not less, dire in the four years since the justices last revisited the subject. They have done so by focusing on voter turnout, which surely has changed for the better in the past fifty years, and by ignoring the other ruses now widely employed to suppress minority votes.

As expected there are some specious conservative rationale for bringing back part of Jim Crow; well now Congress can just go back and fix the law. This is a weird circular argument. The Voting Rights Act was the law that fixed disenfranchisement of some voters. Though mainly thought of as a civil rights laws concerning minority voters, the law also protected students and women voters. To go back and draft a new version of the same law is the legal equivalent of a hamster wheel. Repealing Section 4 places more burden on some voters, including African-Americans, Latinos, the elderly and women – women as a group frequently have name changes because of marriage. That means restrictive laws, enforced by people who like Jim Crow-lite are more likely to turn away a female voter because, hey, the name on your new license is different from the one on your voter registration. Conservatives may see some short term gains in like the 2014 mid-terms, but if Democrats run on it, and they will, those gains might be canceled out by a very motivated base of more progressive voters – The Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Decision Is a Poison Chalice for the GOP. Though Josh Green is right as far as he goes, he does not address changing demographics. Texas is going to be purple by 2016. Very good chance a good Democratic candidate can take Texas in 2016. Florida, a state that drifts between purple and blue is, after the Romney-Ryan plan to gut Medicare, pretty much a lock in 2016 for Democrats. Scott Walker and the Koch brothers better take lots of pictures to enjoy the memories because Wisconsin, with its working class American base will go back to its progressive roots. That leaves conservatives with an ever shrinking base of hardcore regressive southern conservatives. Recently someone said that Republicans were the party of the Confederacy. After which there was the usual round of faux outrage. The conservatives on the SCOTUS just made the Confederacy accusation all that much obvious than it already was. Since I don’t believe in crystal balls it is nice that the regressive conservatives in Texas did not make it necessary to put out some invalid predictions resulting from striking down Section 4. We know what will happen because it is already happening, Two Hours After The Supreme Court Gutted The Voting Rights Act, Texas AG Suppresses Minority Voters

Just two hours after the Supreme Court reasoned that discrimination is not rampant enough in Southern states to warrant restrictions under the Voting Rights Act, Texas is already advancing a voter ID law and a redistricting map blocked last year for discriminating against black and Latino residents. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued a statement declaring that both measures may go into effect immediately, now that there is no law stopping them from discriminating against minorities.

In 2012, the Justice Department blocked these measures under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Federal courts agreed that both the strict voter ID law and the redistricting map would disproportionately target the state’s fast-growing minority communities. Still, Texas filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court over the Voting Rights Act case complaining that the DOJ had used “abusive and heavy-handed tactics” to thwart the state’s attempts at voter suppression.

In the case of the new electoral map, a panel of federal judges found that “substantial surgery” was done to predominantly black districts, cutting off representatives’ offices from their strongest fundraising bases. Meanwhile, white Congress members’ districts were either preserved or “redrawn to include particular country clubs and, in one case, the school belonging to the incumbent’s grandchildren.” The new map was also drawn in secret by white Republican representatives, without notifying their black and Latino peers. After the court blocked the map, the legislature approved small changes to appease Democratic lawmakers last week. Now that they are free to use the old maps, however, Gov. Rick Perry (R) could simply veto the new plan and use the more discriminatory maps.

The strict photo ID requirement blocked by the DOJ and a federal court would require Texans to show one of a very narrow list of acceptable photo IDs. Expired gun licenses from other states are considered valid, but Social Security cards and student IDs are not. If voters do not have an ID — as many minorities, seniors, and poor people do not — they must travel at their own expense, produce their birth certificate, and in many cases pay a fee to get an ID.

Thanks to the Supreme Court, the DOJ no longer has any power to block these laws, even with the backing of federal judges who found blatant discrimination. Under the remaining sections of the Voting Rights Act, individuals may sue to kill these measures, but only after they have gone into effect and disenfranchised countless Texans of color.

According to the 2010 Census, non-Hispanic whites have become a minority in Texas, down from 52.4 percent to 45.3 percent of the population. Latinos have accounted for 65 percent of the state’s population growth over the past decade. Projections show that the eligible voter pool will shift to roughly 44 percent white voters and 37 percent Hispanic voters by 2025. Faced with this demographic reality, conservatives have alternated between changing their messaging to appeal to Latino voters, who overwhelmingly supported Democrats in 2012, and making it harder for them to vote.

The examples roll in almost daily of why conservatives of color like Ben Carson ‘Racist’ white liberals want me on ‘the plantation’ and Herman Cain ‘I Left The Democrat Plantation A Long Time Ago’, are not just politically clueless, but malevolent denialists. They remind me of George W. Bush who read the Presidential Daily Brief that said Bin laden likely to attack and did nothing. Reality, decency and acting for the common good, just doesn’t penetrate the conservative mind. The movement itself suffers from a permanent case of cognitive dissonance.

Speaking of Texas. Not everyone there is a knuckle dragger,

The victory was the result of an extraordinary effort from Wendy Davis, a Democratic state senator from Fort Worth, who, in a back brace, filibustered the measure for nearly 11 hours — and would have kept going had Republicans not shut her down, saying her speech strayed from the chamber’s filibuster rules.

…As for the bill that Davis and her allies helped kill, GOP lawmakers in the state intended to ban all abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and close all but five of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas.

For proponents of reproductive rights, last night offered a genuinely inspirational moment, but it’s worth noting that this fight may soon have another round.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who’s eager to sign the sweeping new restrictions, may very well call state lawmakers back to work for another special session, at which point the same proposal will be considered once more.

Dewhurst hinted that this scenario is, in fact, quite likely. “It’s over. It’s been fun. But see you soon,” he said.

Regardless, I don’t think anyone will soon forget what we saw from Wendy Davis, or just how many people were eager to #StandWithWendy.

Davis tweeted her victory. Thus far she has 17,000 retweets. Way to go Wendy.

World Map with British Territories1786 – Conservatives Wrestle With Ethics and Lose

Antique World map with British Territories 1786

Antique World map with British Territories 1786. those territories are the light orange colored areas. The map doesn’t really give a proper perspective since in relation to land mass and the world’s oceans the territories seem small. This isn’t pick on the British day, I picked this map out from several possibility for today just because it was a little different from previously posted maps and because the border art work was so interesting. Though the map does fit in with a report from just this past autumn which found Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colourful history. That is 22 lucky ducks out of 200. They’ve never invaded Luxemburg for some reason.

If Howard Kurtz Is Down to Only One Job, Is He Still Howard Kurtz?

Why should the country’s best-known media reporter give a clear report on a media event involving him? He never worried about the ethics of working for two corporations that were supposed to be reporting on each other. The inherent corruption of what he did was a simple background fact, like the background fact of his dullness and mediocrity. There was a time when he had a platform that allowed him to command attention by breaking stories, before platforms proliferated and news breaks sped up; the news of his departure was broken by Dylan Byers at Politico. Latter-day Kurtz was boring except when he was laughable, and for a long time, none of that harmed him in the slightest.

It is tempting to nominate Kurtz as the poster boy for the seemingly incurable case of hackerness that permeates a media that jumps on bandwagons, panders, entertains, fires anyone marginally good and is so in love with its own power that it is falling behind Twitter ( which has it’s faults as well) is providing the news. But Kurtz is and always has been a self-important pimple among a field of self-important pimples. News readers, many with a very likeable persona, that were and are more concerned about offending people with actual news, so they don’t scare off advertisers, than practicing the profession of journalism. This is not an exclusively modern era problem. Some journalists have tried to live up to the title of the people’s watchdogs. Others care more about buying that expensive McMansion in Connecticut and hanging out at the right dinner parties. Kurtz was firmly entrenched in the dinner party beltway mentality and lifestyle. Where despite this recent shameless laziness and breach of ethics, he will stay.

If the war on drugs can’t stop Glenn Beck from getting high, what use is it, Glenn Beck: There’s A “Very Good Chance” The Houston Airport Shooting Was A “Setup” Like “The Burning Of The Reichstag” . Beck too is a journalist. A man who had fired a gun inside a ticketing area at Houston’s largest airport was killed after being confronted by a law enforcement official . Yep, Beck has nailed this one. The super secret society of gun safety advocates have a ring of suicidal nuts on call to sacrifice themselves for background checks. Beck is probably an expert on the Reichstag fire down to the number of matches used, but for those who are not, The Reichstag Fire

On February 27, 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down due to arson. The government falsely portrayed the fire as part of a Communist effort to overthrow the state.

Using emergency constitutional powers, Adolf Hitler’s cabinet had issued a Decree for the Protection of the German People on February 4, 1933. This decree placed constraints on the press and authorized the police to ban political meetings and marches, effectively hindering electoral campaigning. A temporary measure, it was followed by a more dramatic and permanent suspension of civil rights following the February 27 burning of the parliament building.

Though the origins of the fire are still unclear, in a propaganda maneuver, the coalition government (Nazis and the German Nationalist People’s Party) blamed the Communists. They exploited the Reichstag fire to secure President von Hindenburg’s approval for an emergency decree, the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State of February 28. Popularly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, the regulations suspended the right to assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and other constitutional protections, including all restraints on police investigations.

Justified on the false premise that the Communists were planning an uprising to overthrow the state, the Reichstag Fire Decree permitted the regime to arrest and incarcerate political opponents without specific charge, dissolve political organizations, and to suppress publications. It also gave the central government the authority to overrule state and local laws and overthrow state and local governments.

Beck is currently syndicated on radio, newspapers and has his own cable network. One which he is trying to force everyone to pay for, whether they want to watch Beck’s conspiracy channel or not.

Another conservative who thinks ethics is an obscure concept only practiced by the ancient Greeks, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: Obama is president because he’s approved by ‘elites’,

“You pick your person, any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person will be picked apart,” he added. “You can pick anybody, don’t pick me, pick anyone who has decided not to go along with it; there’s a price to pay. So, I always assumed it would be somebody the media had to agree with.”

So s SCOTUS justice makes it plain that he is hostile to the president, thus any legal issues on which he disagrees with the president. So much for the open-mindedness and fairness with which Thomas approached the law. Even if he did meditate himself into fairness mode for court decisions why express such open hostility and compromise his own ethics. ” any black person who says something that is not the prescribed things that they expect from a black person.” Is that supposed to be a joke. Thomas’s sacred conservative movement has vilified Obama and his race, going back to his 2008 run for president. Has Thomas read any of the news reports of the inflammatory language used against president Obama. The elites?  Would those be the 47% of the public that Thomas ideological brother Mitt Romney did not want to bother with. Thomas has set up the public relations fail-safe. If you agree with him, you’re a good American and a good Black American. If not, he is being victimized and the critic has been brainwashed. In Thomas World you cannot have an honest disagreement with him. This mental midget only became a justice because he would carry water for the conservative establishment and because of conservative identity politics. Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics

Antique map of Southeast Asia 1590 – Keep Calm and Carry On

Antique map of Asia Abraham Ortelius c1590

Antique map of Asia c1590 by Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598).  1590 was the year of the Battle of Ivry where French King Henri IV and the Huguenots beat the Catholic League.

Negaunee, Michigan 1871

Negaunee, Michigan 1871. One of those maps that is not to scale, but the perspective and artistry make it so appealing. 1871 was the year of the Great Michigan Fires. The exact causes of multiple large forest fires are uncertain, but especially high winds that year helped spread the fires.

This debate has been ragging – abet generally civilly for a couple days – Researchers Finally Replicated Reinhart-Rogoff, and There Are Serious Problems. Reinhart-Rogoff did mange to show that an economy could be grown with austerity – IF you massage the numbers. R and R finally respond, but hedge on the facts, agin. people are generally pretty forgiving when you make a mistake, get out in front of that mistake and apolgize or even hedge and say you see where there might be a problem and we’ll get back with some new information later. R and R had their chance at said public generosity as Paul Krugman notes, Reinhart-Rogoff, Continued

What Herndon et al did was find that the R-R results on the relationship between debt and growth were partly the result of a coding error, partly the result of some very odd choices about which data to exclude and how to weight the data that remained. The effect of fixing these lapses was to raise the estimated mean growth of highly indebted countries by more than 2 percentage points.

So how do R-R respond?

First, they argue that another measure — median growth — isn’t that different from the Herndon et al results. But that is, first of all, an apples-and-oranges comparison — the fact is that when you compare the results head to head, R-R looks very off. Something went very wrong, and pointing to your other results isn’t a good defense.

Second, they say that they like to emphasize the median results, which are much milder than the mean results; but what everyone using their work likes to cite is the strong result, and if R-R have made a major effort to disabuse people of the notion that debt has huge negative effects on growth, I haven’t noticed it.

…So this is really disappointing; they’re basically evading the critique. And that’s a terrible thing when so much is at stake.

Even if austerity worked at one or points in this or that country’s economic history there could be other factors  – very economically healthy nations helping with their debt is one thing. Recent history, the past six years, show that every country that has tried austerity – pointing a massive emphasis on paying down the debt, sometimes cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy, have sunk back into recession.

Pervert Mark Sanford (R-SC) due in court over allegation he trespassed at ex-wife’s house

According to the suit, Jenny Sanford allegedly caught the former governor and current congressional candidate on Feb. 3 using his cell phone for a flashlight as he left the house through a rear door. Court records also said McRackan enclosed a February 2011 letter sent to both Mark Sanford and local police warning him not to trespass on the property.

Mark Sanford won a runoff election on April 2 and is now facing a May 7 election against Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch for the congressional seat representing the state’s 1st district. He was forced out of office in 2009 after his affair with Argentinian journalist Maria Belen Chapur was revealed.

The conservative base in S.C. were the same family values hypocrites that let him stay in office so long after the affair was discovered. They’ll vote for him if he is caught beating the family dog. Though Sanford needs moderates and independents to win, so say goodbye to your great comeback Mr. Sanford.

You can buy tea baggers, but for how long, Tea Party DOA: Only Dozens Attended Washington DC Tax Day Protests

On Freedom Works’ website, they announced that 1,000s were expected to their “New Fair Deal” protest at the U.S. Capitol on Tax Day (April 15th), which would be the “next phase of the Freedom Movement.” They hyped it as their “Get Out the Vote” machine. They had a slew of Republican representatives speaking as bait.

[  ]…Apparently Freedom Works/Tea Party has surrendered the pretense of being separate from the Republican Party. That’s probably for the best, since Matt Kibbe is the president and CEO of Freedom Works, and he is a former staffer for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Freedom Works runs “boot camps” for supporters of Republican candidates. Back when Freedom Works was “Citizens for a Sound Economy”, they used to trick people into signing up as members by selling them insurance policies that required their membership.

[  ]…Still, only “dozens” attended. Perhaps now the Tea Party can go back to being what it once was, long before it got co-opted by the greedy corporatists behind Freedom Works, who find their most natural habitat within the Republican Party. It’s too bad the Tea Party wasn’t what it claimed to be, because we could use a real movement to cut the puppet strings with which big money and big business operate our legislators.

This is not to say the tea baggers and their sugar daddies the Koch brothers still don’t have a lot of pull in the Republican Partay. When you watch Rand Paul (R-KY) or Paul Ryan (R-WI) speak on TV look for the puppet strings.

April 16 Updates on Aftermath of Boston Marathon Explosions. As more pictures and video are collected it would seem they will contribute quite a bit to catching the perpetrator. With so many surveillance cameras in public places, so many people with video cameras and cell phone cameras, I wonder how someone can even consider the idea that they’ll get away with something like this.

The Worst Conservative Reactions To The Boston Bombings. No rest for those who not only want to score political points, but do not mind looking like morbid fanatics while doing so.

In case anyone missed this great post by Bruce Schneier, The Boston Marathon Bombing: Keep Calm and Carry On.

Antique World Map 1587 – The Conservative National Association of Scholars Does a Smear Job on Bowdoin

Antique World Map 1587

Antique World Map 1587

1587 was the year  Queen Elizabeth I of England signs a death warrant for her very own cousin Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary was implicated in a plot to murder Elizabeth, but how much trouble would it have been to banish her to some country castle under house arrest for life.

1587 was also the year the English colony in North America, of Roanoke Island of North Carolina was re-established. It was also the year the first Filipinos in North America landed in Morro Bay, near San Luis Obispo, California.

Radio set ownership by state in 1930

Radio set ownership by state in 1930. This theme map is courtesy the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration U.S. Census Bureau. Sad that so much of the south and south-east was disconnected from the most powerful news and entertainment media of the era.

This editorial is awful. It lacks all the things that occupy the basis of it’s complaints, certain standards of intellectual honesty and fairness, using a well known radical Right organization’s “report” as the basis for what could only be categorized as an alternate version of reality, The Golf Shot Heard Round the Academic World. The tale of a teed-off philanthropist and the head of Bowdoin College, where identity politics runs wild.

It sounds like the setup for a bad joke: What did the Wall Street type say to the college president on the golf course? Well, we don’t know exactly—but it has launched a saga with weighty implications for American intellectual and civic life.

Here’s what we do know: One day in the summer of 2010, Barry Mills, the president of Bowdoin College, a respected liberal-arts school in Brunswick, Maine, met investor and philanthropist Thomas Klingenstein for a round of golf about an hour north of campus. College presidents spend many of their waking hours talking to potential donors. In this case, the two men spoke about college life—especially “diversity”—and the conversation made such an impression on President Mills that he cited it weeks later in his convocation address to Bowdoin’s freshman class. That’s where the dispute begins.

In his address, President Mills described the golf outing and said he had been interrupted in the middle of a swing by a fellow golfer’s announcement: “I would never support Bowdoin—you are a ridiculous liberal school that brings all the wrong students to campus for all the wrong reasons,” said the other golfer, in Mr. Mills’s telling. During Mr. Mills’s next swing, he recalled, the man blasted Bowdoin’s “misplaced and misguided diversity efforts.” At the end of the round, the college president told the students, “I walked off the course in despair.”

Word of the speech soon got to Mr. Klingenstein. Even though he hadn’t been named in the Mills account, Mr. Klingenstein took to the pages of the Claremont Review of Books to call it nonsense: “He didn’t like my views, so he turned me into a backswing interrupting, Bowdoin-hating boor who wants to return to the segregated days of Jim Crow.”

The campus of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine

The real story, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, was that “I explained my disapproval of ‘diversity’ as it generally has been implemented on college campuses: too much celebration of racial and ethnic difference,” coupled with “not enough celebration of our common American identity.”

For this, wrote Mr. Klingenstein, Bowdoin’s president insinuated that he was a racist.

Whenever the Right kicks into nose high intellectual mode they try to sound like P. G. Wodehouse, but always end up sounding like the most boring speaker at a casket sales convention. The crack about ethnic diversity is well known code for racism. That conservatives keep framing inclusiveness as some kind of liberal plot instead of part of just plain American ideals is the key to cracking a not very clever code. So Thomas Klingenstein sets about to get revenge for being called out on his wacky world view. He signs up the  National Association of Scholars to do a “study” of Bowdoin College. Which is like having a arsonist do a study of fire fighters and fire prevention safety.

Perhaps so. But he’d have a stronger case if, for example, his colleague Marc Hetherington hadn’t written the same year in Bowdoin’s newspaper that liberal professors outnumber conservatives because conservatives don’t “place the same emphasis on the accumulation of knowledge that liberals do.”

In publishing these and other gems, Mr. Klingenstein and the National Association of Scholars hope to encourage alumni and trustees to push aggressively for reforms. They don’t call for the kind of conservative affirmative action seen at the University of Colorado, which recently created a visiting professorship exclusively for right-wingers. Rather, Mr. Klingenstein and the NAS want schools nationwide to stop “silent discrimination against conservatives.” Good luck.

In case you’re wondering, Bowdoin’s official statement on this week’s report amounted to little more than a shrug. A serious response would begin with inviting Mr. Klingenstein to campus for a public debate with President Mills.

For the ironically named “National Association of Scholars ” to find too many liberals in a college that is too liberal is like about as astonishing as finding dust under your bed. If your organization and mindset are about as far Right as Eva Braun then everyone seems like a liberal. This is from a report on the NAS from People for the American Way, Buying a Movement

Conservative University Programs and Academic Associations
In order to secure a lasting victory in the battle for America’s future, right-wing foundations are aware that they must not only control contemporary public debate, but also foster the next generation of conservative scholars, journalists, government employees, legislators and activists. To this end, Bradley, Olin, Scaife, Smith Richardson and others funnel millions of dollars into conservative university programs, university chairs, lecture circuits and right-wing student publications, and promote conservative research in the media to legitimize their positions. They have created and continue to support networks of conservative professors, such as the National Association of Scholars and the Madison Center for Educational Affairs, whose “Collegiate Network” links  conservative student papers. According to the founder of the Center for Campus Organizing, a clearinghouse of information for progressive students, roughly $20 million is pumped into the campus right on an annual basis; almost one fifth of this comes from a handful of right-wing foundations.

In the words of one journalist, these conservative foundations have, “by strategically leveraging their resources…engineered the rise of a right-wing intelligentsia that has come to wield enormous influence in national policy debates.”

The University of Chicago was authorized $3.7 million by the Bradley Foundation for its Bradley Fellows program between 1990-1992.

The Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University, devoted to the study of
“the self-ordering market, free trade, free migration,”received $2 million from the Koch Family between 1986 and 1990.

Harvard University received more than $6.2 million from the Olin Foundation
between 1993 and 1997 to set up various conservative law, business, economics and
strategic studies programs.

The National Association of Scholars (N.A.S.), a network of conservative university professors dedicated to combating perceived “liberal bias” on college campuses, received $125,000 from Olin in 1994; Bradley granted $378,400 between 1990-92 and authorized a two-year, $150,000 grant in 1994; the Scaife foundations have contributed more than $400,000 in recent years; and the Adolph Coors, J.M. and Smith Richardson foundations are also regular contributors.

The Madison Center for Educational Affairs, formerly the Institute for Educational Affairs, founded by Irving Kristol and former Treasury Secretary William Simon (current president of the Olin Foundation) to finance right-wing research and conservative student publications, received $100,000 grants from the Olin, Scaife, J.M. and Smith Richardson foundations. Its “Collegiate Network” of conservative student newspapers was signed over to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), in 1996. Founded by William F. Buckley in 1953, ISI works, in its own words, to “battle the radicals and P.C. types on the campuses.” It receives regular funding from the Bradley, DeVos, Lilly, Olin, Murdock and Scaife foundations. In addition to funding conservative programs, particularly in the fields of business administration, economics, law and history, foundations also channel money into organizations that monitor academic output and propagate neoconservative and right-wing agendas in the academic community. In 1978, former Treasury Secretary William Simon and neoconservative ideologue Irving Kristol founded the Institute for Educational Affairs (I.E.A.). Its purpose is to seek out promising Ph.D. candidates and undergraduate leaders, help them to establish themselves through grants and fellowships and then help them get jobs with activist organizations, research projects, student publications, federal agencies, or leading periodicals. I.E.A. received start-up grants of $100,000 from the Olin, Scaife, J.M. and Smith Richardson foundations, as well as substantial contributions from Coca-Cola, Dow Chemical, Ford Motor Co., General Electric, K-Mart, Mobil and Nestle corporations.

The NAS follows the conservative playbook, make it seem as though they are the ones who are the poor beleaguered victims of discrimination, outgunned, out spent facing the massive infrastructure of liberal indoctrination. It is also usually the case these radical far Right organizations are projecting and have the reality backwards. As the full report from PFTAW shows, liberal organizations might give as much as a tenth of what the very well organized far Right gives to advancing it’s agenda on college campuses. There is no progressive organization that controls student newspapers in the well coordinated and authoritative control with which the IEA controls conservative newspapers.  Campus conservatives probably think they’re getting the latest deep thoughts from their conservative college peers. Instead they are getting a very well organized campaign of the meme of the moment from some oak paned office a thousand miles away. It is true that most college professors lean moderate to liberal on cultural issues. There is no reason to  make excuses for a group of the nation’s smartest citizens being pro liberalism, the philosophy on which America was founded – Jefferson and Madison were liberal thinkers, not conservatives. Don’t take my word for it. Go over and look up the National Review editorials that hold  Edmund Burke as their intellectual champion – a man who argued that democracy might be fine for the new nation of the United States, but Europe should stick with the tried and true rule of despotic monarchs (see this classic essay:  What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It? ). Maybe Bowdoin is an outlier in terms of balance, but the college and university system overall is not all liberals all the time, Data Comes to the Culture Wars

A more appropriate title for this book might be Are Professors Liberal? The answer, Gross’s large-scale survey data tell us, is a little more than liberals would like to admit and a lot less than conservatives would have us believe. His survey research indicates that in simple terms of party affiliation, 51 percent of American professors identify as Democrats, versus 35 percent of the voting-age American public. A significant one-third of faculty identify as independents (though they are twice as likely to lean Democratic as they are to lean Republican). Unsurprisingly, political orientation is differentiated somewhat by disciplines, with those in the humanities and a number of the social sciences, including sociology and psychology, tracking more to the left, and those in disciplines such as economics, law, and engineering tracking more to the right. Despite the prominence of claims that the university is awash in tenured radicals, only 8 percent of the professoriate identifies as “radical.” The “gotcha” factor with such a number is mitigated by the fact that 8 percent of American faculty members are distinctly un-radical business professors, and business is currently the most popular major in American universities.

…One standard explanation for why parts of the academy skew moderately left appeals unsurprisingly to liberals. Smart people who are capable of sustained, rational analysis often chose to pursue this analysis for a living as professors; with the same tools they cut through the intellectual fog surrounding conservative political arguments and moral commitments. A different explanation—and one that has traction among critics on the right—is that higher education is awash in prejudice against conservative students and faculty, who either are deterred from or systematically chased out of the profession. Then there’s an argument that has traction on both sides: Liberal intellectuals, better educated than they are paid, jealously police their cultural capital within the academy in the absence of any tangible financial capital. While recognizing the intellectual coherence and historical plausibility of all three theories, Gross points to his survey and historical research suggesting that they are bedeviled by fuzzy causality and “explanatory overreach.”

Those on the center-left part of the political scale, in discussions around the water-cooler or in internet forums – should never ever apologize for most academics being liberal to moderate. These people as a group are very bright. They have done their homework and decided that America’s founding liberal traditions and ideals are the best course for the U.S. The radical Right disagrees and thinks America should be an authoritarian plutocracy with a strong weird fundamentalist bent. Why is it  fair to have more of the authoritarian American Taliban in our schools. Liberals are in no way obligated to be tolerate of right-wing intolerance and ant-intellectualism. As far as their poor little voices not being heard, the WSJ and the NAS must be delusional. I’m inundated with radical conservatism every day. It is on television all the time, on radio , on the net and they own innumerable newspapers like the WSJ.

This list of donors and Board of Advisors of the National Association of Scholars, is a veritable who’s who of radical plastic patriots,

Major Right Wing Donors:

Sarah Scaife Foundation
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc
Castle Rock Foundation
John M. Olin Foundation

NAS’s Board of Advisors:

John H. Bunzel, Hoover Institution
Edwin J. Delattre, American Enterprise Institute
Chester E. Finn, Fordham Foundation
Gertrude Himmelfarb, Independent Women’s Forum
Paul Hollander, National Review, Front Page Magazine
Harry V. Jaffa, Claremont Institute
Donald Kagan, Project for the New American Century
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, UN Ambassador under President Reagan, American Enterprise Institute
Irving Kristol, American Enterprise Institute
Richard D. Lamm, American Reform Party
Leslie Lenkowsky, National Review
Seymour Martin Lipset, Hoover Institution
Christina Hoff Sommers, Independent Women’s Forum
Shelby Steele, Hoover Institution, Manhattan Institute
Stephan Thernstrom, Manhattan Institute
James Q. Wilson, Manhattan Institute

Remember a little thing called the invasion of Iraq that would be a cakewalk. It is no coincidence that these people were also part of the chorus of lies and disinformation that got hundreds of thousands of people killed and may ultimately cost the U.S. $6 trillion dollars. Organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute, Claremont Institute and Hoover pushed the conservative economic and deregulation policies that lead to the Great recession of 2007.

 

America By and For Corporate Greed

Give Your Good Books To Our Fighting Men

Give Your Good Books To Our Fighting Men. 1943. Kind of a trade-off in messaging, sexist, yet encourages reading and sharing. Courtesy UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library.

Map of St Petersburg 1724

Map of St Petersburg, 1724. By Johann Baptista Hohmann (20 March 1664 – 1 July 1724) was a German geographer and cartographer, who is more famous for his maps of the Americas. n 1716 Homann published his masterpiece Grosser Atlas ueber die ganze Welt (Grand Atlas of all the World).  This would have been St. Petersburg during the time of the czars (Tsars), quite a few years before the Russian Revolution (s) that began in 1905.

How Big Corporations Are Unpatriotic
by Ralph Nader  

Many giant profitable U.S. corporations are increasingly abandoning America while draining it at the same time.

General Electric, for example, has paid no federal income taxes for a decade while becoming a net job exporter and fighting its hard-pressed workers who want collective bargaining through unions like the United Electrical Workers Union (UE). GE’s boss, Jeffrey Immelt, makes about $12,400 an hour on an 8-hour day, plus benefits and perks, presiding over this global corporate empire.

Telling by their behavior, these big companies think patriotism toward the country where they were created and prospered is for chumps. Their antennae point to places where taxes are very low, labor is wage slavery, independent unions are non-existent, governments have their hands out, and equal justice under the rule of law does not exist. China, for example, has fit that description for over 25 years.

Other than profiteering from selling Washington very expensive weapons of mass destruction, many multinational firms have little sense of true national security.

Did you know that about 80 percent of the ingredients in medicines Americans take now come from China and India where visits by FDA inspectors are infrequent and inadequate?

The lucrative U.S. drug industry – coddled with tax credits, free transfer of almost-ready-to-market drugs developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars via the National Institutes of Health – charges Americans the highest prices for drugs in the world and still wants more profits. Drug companies no longer produce many necessary medicines like penicillin in the U.S., preferring to pay slave wages abroad to import drugs back into the U.S.

Absence of patriotism has exposed our country to dependency on foreign suppliers for crucial medicines, and these foreign suppliers may not be so friendly in the future.

Giant U.S. companies are strip-mining America in numerous ways, starting with the corporate tax base. By shifting more of their profits abroad to “tax-haven” countries (like the Cayman Islands) through transfer pricing and other gimmicks, and by lobbying many other tax escapes through Congress, they can report record profits in the U.S. with diminishing tax payments. Yet they are benefitting from the public services, special privileges, and protection by our armed forces because they are U.S. corporations.

On March 27, 2013, the Washington Post reported that compared to forty years ago, big companies that “routinely cited U.S. federal tax expenses that were 25 to 50 percent of their worldwide profits,” are now reporting less than half that share. For instance, Proctor and Gamble was paying 40 percent of its total profits in taxes in 1969; today it pays 15 percent in federal taxes. Other corporations pay less or no federal income taxes.

Welcome to globalization. It induces dependency on instabilities in tiny Greece and Cyprus that shock stock investments by large domestic pension and mutual funds here in the U.S. Plus huge annual U.S. trade deficits, which signals the exporting of millions of jobs.

The corporate law firms for these big corporations were the architects of global trade agreements that make it easy and profitable to ship jobs and industries to fascist and communist regimes abroad while hollowing out U.S. communities and throwing their loyal American workers overboard. It’s not enough that large corporations are paying millions of American workers less than workers were paid in 1968, adjusted for inflation.

Corporate bosses can’t say they’re just keeping up with the competition; they muscled through the trade system that pulls down on our country’s relatively higher labor, consumer and environmental standards.

Corporate executives, when confronted with charges that show little respect for the country, its workers and its taxpayers who made possible their profits and subsidized their mismanagement, claim they must maximize their profits for their shareholders and their worker pension obligations.

Their shareholders? Is that why they’re stashing $1.7 trillion overseas in tax havens instead of paying dividends to their rightful shareholder-owners, which would stimulate our economy? Shareholders? Are those the people who have been stripped of their rights as owners and prohibited from even keeping a lid on staggeringly sky-high executive salaries ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 an hour or more, plus perks?

Why these corporate bosses can’t even abide one democratically-run shareholders’ meeting a year without gaveling down their owners and cutting time short. To get away from as many of their shareholder-owners as possible, AT&T is holding its annual meeting on April 26 in remote Cheyenne, Wyoming!

Pension obligations for their workers? The award-winning reporter for the Wall Street Journal Ellen E. Shultz demonstrates otherwise. In her gripping book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, she shows how by “exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations and new accounting rules,” companies deceptively tricked employees and turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters and profit centers.

Recently, I wrote to the CEOs of the 20 largest U.S. corporations, asking if they would stand up at their annual shareholders’ meetings and on behalf of their U.S. chartered corporation (not on behalf of their boards of directors), and pledge allegiance to the flag ending with those glorious words “with liberty and justice for all.” Nineteen of the CEOs have not yet replied. One, Chevron, declined the pledge request but said their patriotism was demonstrated creating jobs and sparking economic activity in the U.S.

But when corporate lobbyists try to destroy our right of trial by jury for wrongful injuries – misnamed tort reform – when they destroy our freedom of contract – through all that brazenly one-sided fine print – when they corrupt our constitutional elections with money and unaccountable power, when they commercialize our education and patent our genes, and outsource jobs to other countries, the question of arrogantly rejected patriotism better be front-and-center for discussion by the American people.

On occasion Nader has gone off the deep end in the past, but when it comes to talking about how corporate America is damaging the middle-class and democracy he still has some of that late 70s, early 1980s genuine egalitarianism going.

Heart Shaped World Map 1536

Heart Shaped World Map 1536

Heart Shaped World Map 1536. As far as map fame goes, this one is somewhat famous. The heart shape lends the image to a variety of causes, beliefs and general artistic appreciation. It was created by cartographer and mathematician Oronce Fine ( Orontius Finnaeus or Finaeus; Italian: Oronzio Fineo)(1494-1555).

Other than Peggy Noonan, who has suddenly decided to be a weird version of Paul Krugman and other economists who think that job creation should take priority over balancing the budget, most conservatives are pro European-style austerity. That austerity even has the same self defeating math, The Ryan Budget’s Tax Cuts: Nearly $6 Trillion in Cost and No Plausible Way to Pay for It. New Tax Policy Center Estimates Show $5.7 Trillion Revenue Loss

The new budget from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes a series of dramatic tax cuts that would cost nearly $6 trillion in lost federal revenue over the next decade (see Figure 1), and that would provide the lion’s share of their benefits to high-income households and corporations.  But, despite its stated promise to the contrary, the budget does not include a plausible way to pay for it all.

Ryan budget plan

Ryan budget plan

But the very serious zombies of conservatism have put on their blinders. Ryan’s budget has two super important things going for it. It cuts taxes for the wealthy. It is not an Obama-Democratic budget. Thank you, good night and drive home safely. Those are the only things America needs to know. For dessert conservatives get to chip away at the Marxist safety net, known to rational Americans as Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.

Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr

STARR, BELLE. “A wild western amazon. The noted Belle Starr is arrested on the border of Indian Territory and being released on bail vanishes on horseback.” Wood engraving in The National Police Gazette (1886 May 22), p. 16. The NPG published a lot of tabloid style journalism. Belle or Myra Maybelle Shirley Reed Starr (February 5, 1848 – February 3, 1889) was not much of a heroine, though she was far from the most evil person around at the time. In a recent post I mentioned Judge Roy Bean who went from rowdy drunk and part-time criminal, to highly eccentric man of the law. Belle was somewhat a creature of her time. Fine upstanding men in business and politics stole far more than she and her gang ever did. I kind of like the legend and the illustration. Though from what i understand a horse would never run with all four legs flung out in that position. Eadweard Muybridge did show that horses sometimes have all four legs off the ground, but if the front legs were extended the back legs would have been under the horse and vice versa.