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.

Conservatism Disregards Women’s Rights and Health

Tricycle Autumn wallpaper

Tricycle Autumn wallpaper

 

This headline almost says it all about the current priorities of the conservative movement: Texas Lawmakers Too Busy Targeting Abortion Providers to Deal With Exploding Fertilizer Plants. I say almost because when they’re not protecting the right of corporations to kill their employees, they’re lying about immigration reform, still stalling financial reform and advocating the foreign policies of the same brand that cost so many lives in Iraq. I’m around quite a few conservatives and in everyday conversation i hear them express regrets about the employment situation ( they have different solutions than I do, but at least we agree there is a problem). Some of the ones that like to go fishing are still complaining about the pollution in our lakes and rivers, but still vote for people who exacerbate those problems. They complain about traffic, but don’t want to pay the higher taxes to build new over passes. Of there complaints, one thing I seldom here is the urgent national need to have more control over women’s personal health care decisions: Scott Walker Quietly Signs Mandatory Ultrasound Bill Into Law / Rick Perry To Have His Comrades Return To Passing That Draconian Abortion Bill, Says: Wendy Davis Should Be ‘Proud’ That Her Mother Didn’t Abort Her. Conservatives get all choked up thinking about the destiny of a clump of cells in someone else’s body, but actual human beings and their well being do not seem to get much sympathy or respect.

Rick Perry and Scott Walker

Rick Perry(R) and Scott Walker(R)

 

Lemon Tea Splash wallpaper – Both Statistics and Humanity Have a Liberal Bias

summer, splash

Lemon Tea Splash wallpaper. The official beverage of the South.

 

I tend to like my statistics. For some reason they seem to have a liberal bias. Republicans have developed some systematic denials when to comes to facts and statistics. Some of that requires some mental tin-foil. If the facts are not in their favor they argue some supposedly grand principle – that is not what the Founders would do. Few Americans would return to the so-called “original intent”. Most of what we think of as democratic republic – the egalitarian spirit and most the freedoms we cherish would disappear. If the original intent, or their interpretation of it does not work, they also argue from studies they pay for that reach conclusions they like. Conservatives are also adept at taking anecdotal evidence, sometimes hearsay or just something someone told them once and turning that into justification for their stands on public policy that affect millions of Americans. Conservatives have ruined or are trying to ruin the real life narrative. One big example, going on four years now, individual Republicans swear their gun rights are threatened even as gun sales have been a boom industry. I can leave the house now and be back in forty-five minutes with enough guns and ammo for a small army. There are some real stories of real people suffering real hardship. Like statistics and facts, the real stories, the real anecdotes of hardship caused by conservatives are true. Something Wicked This Way Comes

A few days ago, while awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on the Obama health-care law, I called a few doctor friends around the country. I asked them if they could tell me about current patients whose health had been affected by a lack of insurance.

“This falls under the ‘too numerous to count’ section,” a New Jersey internist said. A vascular surgeon in Indianapolis told me about a man in his fifties who’d had a large abdominal aortic aneurysm. Doctors knew for months that it was in danger of rupturing, but, since he wasn’t insured, his local private hospital wouldn’t fix it. Finally, it indeed began to rupture. Rupture is an often fatal development, but the man—in pain, with the blood flow to his legs gone— made it to an emergency room. Then the hospital put him in an ambulance to Indiana University, arguing the patient’s condition was “too complex.” My friend got him through, but he’s very lucky to be alive.

Another friend, an oncologist in Marietta, Ohio, told me about three women in their forties and fifties he was treating for advanced cervical cancer. A pap smear would have caught their cancers far sooner. But since they didn’t have insurance, their cancers were only recognized when they caused profuse bleeding. Now they required radiation and chemotherapy if they were to have a chance of surviving.

A colleague practicing family medicine in Las Vegas told me about his clinic’s cleaning lady, who came to him in desperation about her uninsured husband. He had a painful rectal fistula—a chronically draining infection. Surgery could cure the condition, but hospitals required him to pay for the procedure in advance, and, as unskilled laborers, the couple didn’t remotely have the money. He’d lived in misery for nine months so far. The couple had nowhere to turn. Neither did the doctor.

The litany of misery was as terrible as it was routine. An internist in my Ohio home town put me on the phone with an uninsured fifty-five-year-old tanning-salon owner who’d had a heart attack. She was now unable to pay the bills either for the cardiac stent that saved her or for the medications that she needs to prevent a second heart attack. Outside Philadelphia, there was a home-care nurse who’d lost her job when she developed partial paralysis as a result of a rare autoimmune complication from the flu shot that her employers required her to get. Then she lost the insurance that paid for the medications that had been reversing the condition.

Tens of millions of Americans don’t have access to basic care for prevention and treatment of illness. For decades, there’s been wide support for universal health care. Finally, with the passage of Obamacare, two years ago, we did something about it.

All of the people mentioned in this article would be helped by the Obama/Democrat expansion of Medicaid – part of the Affordable Care Act. Many Republican governors and legislators are already against it. Like the occasional conservative arguments their objections have a slight tint of truth. They claim that if they accept a few years down the road the states will be on the hook for that 10% gap – requiring budget cuts in education. The obvious problem with that excuse is provided by two conservative governors – Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Scott of Florida. In the middle of a recession they cut back public sector jobs – claiming they could not afford them. But both governors passed huge corporate tax breaks – when corporate profits are as strong as ever. They could just increase corporate state taxes to something reasonable – between tax breaks and subsides many corporations do not pay any taxes. Another consequence of rejecting the Medicaid expansion is that charity hospitals and any hospital that takes poor and uninsured in emergencies will be stuck with the bill. Someone – usually everyone who has insurance – is left with the tab. Ever heard of a game called Three-card Monte or three-card carney. It’s been shown in a lot of movies and TV shows. It’s a kind of confidence game in where the mark, is tricked into betting a sum of money, on the assumption that they can find the money card among three face-down playing cards. Republicans do that with money and costs. They always seem to find the money to justify more tax cuts, tax incentives and other giveaways ( corporate welfare). Yet a cleaning lady and her husband, nope, no help for the working poor. How come we have working poor anyway, isn’t our free market system perfect. A system where anyone that works can provide for their essential needs. Apparently it’s not perfect. Until it is maybe its time for less obsequious behavior towards the well off and a little for humanity for the struggling. Related to the games Republicans are playing with the poor and Medicaid – 89,000 Children in Pennsylvania Lose Medicaid.

Another conservative trope is that the U.S. provides such a luxurious safety net it encourages people not to work. The Sharp, Sudden Decline of America’s Middle Class, They had good, stable jobs – until the recession hit. Now they’re living out of their cars in parking lots.

The next thing welfare applicants must do is disclose every possession and conceivable source of income they have. “I can’t tell you how many people come to my office and say, ‘I couldn’t get food stamps because my car is worth too much,'” Kapp tells me. “OK, you have a car. But you’ve lost everything – your house, your job, your pride – and all you have left is that car and all of your belongings in it. And they say, ‘You still have too much. Lose it all.’ You have to have nothing, when you already have nothing.”

Janis Adkins hadn’t been back in Santa Barbara long before she needed to apply for government assistance. She had never asked for aid before. At the California Department of Social Services, she filled out the form for emergency food stamps.

“I didn’t wear my best clothes, but I wore a light blouse and jeans, and I guess I was just a little too dressed up,” she recalls. “Because the woman just looked at me and said, ‘Are you in a crisis? Your application says you’re in a crisis.’ I said, ‘I’m living in a van and I don’t have a job. I have a little bit of money, but it’s going to go fast.’ The woman said, ‘You have $500. You’re not in a crisis if you have $500.’ She said anything more than $50 was too much.”

It is a shame that we cannot force all the conservative Republicans who think they have all the answers  – the right-wing pundits, the conservative bloggers and their commenters, Republican politicians and members of the wing-nut welfare circuit like Sarah Palin and Victor Davis Hanson to trade places with some of the people in that investigative piece for a couple of months. WaPo columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. recently wrote a column asking the heck happened to the average Republican’s sense of community and responsibility. I wonder if they have completely lost the ability to empathize with others. It seems they cannot honestly evaluate events outside their own experience and worse than that is they cannot honestly evaluate themselves and their lives. Every Republican I know has not gotten through life without some bad luck and some help. Yet most of them still have this distorted view of themselves as totally self-contained and self-sufficient cyborgs. One of the reason that facts, statistics and real life narratives do not get through to them is not because of politics it is because of something fundamental flaw in how they’re wired makes them incapable of connecting with humanity.

John Roberts Fails to Dictate Another Presidential Outcome, John Yoo Cries. Yoo is a poster child for Republican cognitive dissonance and their lack of humility. having never been right about anything. feeling that the torture policies of the Bush administration did not pose a threat to any of our captured troops. Yoo the great legal scholar who say there is no difference between the powers of a Medieval king and those of the President – which conservatives were fine with until Obama became president keeps trying to convince the public he is not a total loon. Of course Yoo and all the conservative bloggers linking to him believe that the SCOTUS ruling in favor of the ACA makes us, according to one blogger, “We are now subjects, no longer citizens.” These same legal experts and now claim to live in a totalitarian state of Health Care Reform had no objections with the SCOTUS selecting Bush to be president in 2000, making it legal for billionaires to buy elections or doing away with habeas corpus.  The CIA FactBook still lists Canada and Great Britain as liberal democracies and they both have public health care systems. I have yet to see any protesters in those countries asking the government to take their health care away so they can be “free”.

John Coltrane – Blue train

Twilight Jet in Flight wallpaper – As The Social Contract Crumples Republican Billionaires Cheer

Twilight Jet in Flight wallpaper

When the Village Beltway does not like something the logical reaction of the media is liberal crowd should be to shout bias. Except when the Village creates a meme that conservatives like. Than suddenly the Village is composed of good souls wise beyond their years, President Obama’s Speech Gets A Thumbs Down From Political Press Corps

Prior to President Barack Obama’s marathon 54 minute speech in Ohio today, the Obama campaign sent our several statements promising the speech would be a major address framing the campaign going forward. Despite the hype, the speech was mainly a rehash of themes and ideas from the president’s recent stump speeches and his remarks were widely panned as overly long by the political press corps.

[  ]…Before the speech was over, MSNBC’s Mike O’Brien begged the president to stop.

In terms of politics, this speech could have ended about 20 minutes ago. Drive your message, take your ball, go home.

Mike O’Brien (@mpoindc) June 14, 2012

On the air, MSNBC’s Jonathan Alter said it was “one of the worst speeches I’ve ever heard Barack Obama make.” He refused to back down.

Just cheerleading BO doesn’t help him. He needs a sharper, more cogent message with some memorable lines. I ain’t walking my criticism back

Jonathan Alter (@jonathanalter) June 14, 2012

ABC News reporter Devin Dwyer felt like we were all being lectured.

Obama speech in Ohio felt more lecture or courtroom arg than rally. He streamlined pitch, imbued urgency, said voters will break stalemate.

(@devindwyer) June 14, 2012

John Hayward of Human Events compared the speech to a filibuster.

This Obama speech is so long-winded it might be the first attempt to filibuster an election.

John Hayward (@Doc_0) June 14, 2012

Too long? Most speeches by politicians are too long. Nothing new? That’s because President Obama still has the same things to complain about and many of the same ideas. Conservatives have pulled every obstructionist trick to block job creation, to hold the debt ceiling hostage, to fight extension of unemployment benefits. All the while making the deeply bizarre, if not outright sadistic claim that since the economy crashed – the middle-class must have their safety net – Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid – gutted. What sacrifices do conservatives think the bankers and corporations who caused the crash should make? None, nada. Obama gave them their big compromise an extension of the Bush tax cuts to create jobs – we should have full employment by now if tax cuts were the holy grail of job creation that conservatives claim.

The Economist is generally right-of-center. They did not with approval that President Obama had points that should appeal to centrist voters ( though they got snarky about the length of the speech as well), Barack Obama and the economy

Though he addressed a partisan crowd, Mr Obama’s speech was pitched to the centre. Indeed, he seemed keen to steal some of Mr Romney’s thunder among independents by characterising himself as a tax-cutting, business-friendly, lightly-regulating, paragon of fiscal responsibility. “I don’t believe the government is the answer to all our problems”, Mr Obama said. “I don’t believe every regulation is smart or that every tax dollar is spent wisely. I don’t believe that we should be in the business of helping people who refuse to help themselves.” Mr Obama even touted his own record of fiscal conservatism: “Over the last three years I’ve cut taxes for the typical working family by $3,600. I’ve cut taxes for small businesses 18 times. I have approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.” Jack Kemp lives!( the spelling is British English)

This is where most liberal to centrist voters are. I have never read a major Democratic politician or pundit that loves regulation for its own sake. We need some – that nuclear accident in Japan (Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster) was a devastating reminder that regulatory safety standards of the nuclear energy industry pay off both in terms of public safety ( family values) and in terms of economics (the cost to individuals and business of the Fukushima disaster are estimated upwards of $59 billion). E coli, Salmonella outbreaks in the U.S. have become a pretty regular occurrence. In 2010 is was estimated they cost the public about $3.13 billion a year and caused about 476 deaths. So the food processing and restaurant industries can complain about regulation all day, but who wants to see the cost in lives and dollars without the regulation we have. Conservatives do with the regulation issue what they do with most issues, they over simplify to the extreme and demonize anyone who disagrees. We need some reasonable regulation. Regulations can and do save the economy and businesses money. Despite all their whining the tea baggers have seen their federal and state taxes go down to the lowest level since the 1950s. So sure the far Right is tired of hearing this fact because it takes the wind out of this fantasy they have about draconian levels of taxation.

There’s your “framed choice”. Whereas Mr Romney offers a return to the devil-take-the-hindmost, trickle-down policies that put us in this economic pickle, Mr Obama offers an economy revitalised by a growing middle-class and smart government spending. “This has to be our north star,” Mr Obama averred, “an economy that’s built not from the top down but from a growing middle class; that provides ladders of opportunities for folks who aren’t yet in the middle class.” Not down from the top, but out from the middle. That’s the pith of Mr Obama’s pitch.

Had Mr Obama stopped there, instead of droning on for another quarter-hour, it would have been a strong speech that communicated in clear terms the contrast he needs voters to keep in mind.

That is actually high praise considering the biases of the source. Even The Economist can see that Romney is Bush 3.0 or Bush plus an even deeper war on the middle-class. If you liked Scott Walker(R-WI) and Rick Scott (R-FL) economics – beating up on workers, most of whom were making a modest living in order to give even more tax cuts to corporations swimming in cash, you’ll love Romney. Though America as the land of opportunity will become a quaint old memory – hey remember when you could work 40 hours a week and afford a decent place to live, and send your kid to college, those were the good old days.Romney is good for something. Listen to his stump speeches – too long and lacking reality – and you’ll save the money you would have spent on watching a science fiction movie about time travel and how the hapless antagonist screwed up and erased eight years from human history – Romney’s Big Lie on the Economy Now Bigger than Ever

If nothing else, you have to admire Mitt Romney’s persistence. After he formally announced his candidacy a year ago by declaring when President Obama “took office, the economy was in recession, and he made it worse, and he made it last longer,” fact checkers quickly demolished Romney’s obvious falsehood. But despite his subsequent denial just days later that “I didn’t say that things are worse,” Governor Romney has never stopped regurgitating some version of his “Obama made the economy worse” lie.

Why does Romney even have a chance at winning. Two reason. One is lots of money. The other is the narrative that the media either enforces or thinks it is rude to point out is a falsehood.  Conservative Republican Super PACs Buying Democracy Like Its French Champagne

*Down in North Carolina, Republican congressional candidate George Holding received a handsome Super PAC that includes $100,000 each from an aunt and uncle and a quarter of a million from a bunch of his cousins. Yes, nothing says family like a great big, homemade batch of campaign contributions.

* Look at the Wisconsin recall campaign of Republican Governor Scott Walker. At least fourteen billionaires rushed to the support of the corporate right’s favorite union basher. He outraised his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by nearly eight to one. Most of his money came from out of state. More than sixty million dollars were spent, $45 million of it for Walker alone.

*Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks contributed more than half a million dollars on Scott Walker’s behalf. Her late husband built ABC Supply, America’s largest wholesale distributor of roofing, windows and siding.  Fearful the United States might become “a socialistic ideological nation,” she’s an ardent foe of unions and, in her words, “taxing job creators.” True to her aversion to taxes, she paid none in 2010, despite being worth, according to Forbes magazine, about $2.8 billion dollars.

*Then there’s casino king Sheldon Adelson, who gave Scott Walker’s cause $250,000. That’s a drop in the old champagne bucket compared to the $21 million Adelson’s family gave to the Super PAC that kept Newt Gingrich in the race long after the formaldehyde had been ordered.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Adelson did not long mourn Gingrich’s passing, and has now given at least $10 million to the Restore Our Future Super PAC supporting Romney. By all accounts, what he expects in return is that his candidate hold unions at bay and swear that Israel can do no wrong. ( Adelson has since said that he will be giving $100 million or more to Romney – whatever it takes to get rid of Obama).

*And that’s how the wealthy one percent does its dirty business. They are, by the way, as we were reminded by CNN’s Charles Riley in his report, “Can 46 Rich Dudes Buy an Election?” almost all men, mostly white, “and so far, the vast majority of their contributions have been made to conservative groups.”  They want to own this election.  So if there are any of you left out there with millions to burn, better buy your candidate now, while supplies last.

As it looks as though Obama will be outspent by the 1% and their PACs, conservatives are complaining about this, “Obama bemoans ‘people hurting out there’ at Sarah Jessica Parker’s $40,000-per-person fundraiser.”  There are some wealthy people who care about their fellow Americans – conservative call those kinds of wealthy capitalists – out of touch elites. Conservative do this because they have no shame when it comes to hypocrisy and lies.

The other reason Romney has a chance is the message. Despite MoveOn, Media Matters and labor unions to some extent, the conservative noise machine stills rules – It’s no accident that Americans widely underestimate inequality. The rich prefer it that way

In a recent study respondents on average thought that the top fifth of the population had just short of 60 percent of the wealth, when in truth that group holds approximately 85 percent of the wealth. (Interestingly, respondents described an ideal wealth distribution as one in which the top 20 percent hold just over 30 percent of the wealth. Americans recognize that some inequality is inevitable, and perhaps even desirable if one is to provide incentives; but the level of inequality in American society is well beyond that level.)

Not only do Americans misperceive the level of inequality; they underestimate the changes that have been going on. Only 42 percent of Americans believe that inequality has increased in the past ten years, when in fact the increase has been tectonic. Misperceptions are evident, too, in views about social mobility. Several studies have confirmed that perceptions of social mobility are overly optimistic.

I’m going to repeat myself, but it has been a few months since I last used this analogy. The USA produces GDP. That is capital created by people doing work – creating products, selling products and providing services. The GDP is like a pie. At the end of the work day the top fifth take a the largest part of the pie. They leave the small chunk that is left to be divided up by the people who did the actual work and created the capital. They can do that for a variety of reasons. One is the steady decline in labor rights over the last half century. The other is that we were -especially just post WW II a trusting and ethically based economy – business and factory owners felt morally obligated to pay their employees a true living wage (I do not mean to paint a picture of paradise – there were other issues like gender and racial discrimination). Still the basic cultural bargain was in place. Now employers and their puppets like Scott Walker try to pay as little as possible for labor and ship jobs to Asia. They are not about creating jobs or opportunity or a future. They are all about maximizing their wealth and power. They have trashed the social contract. You can work like crazy. You can work smart. Doesn’t matter, the culture of work has become a game of social Darwinism. Where the game in rigged in their favor. Most Americans will never be compensated in wages, benefits or in social obligations like maintaining affordable public universities or protecting our natural resources. Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to live up to their potential because the people at the top of the ladder do not want them to succeed.

Footprints in Desert Sand wallpaper – On second anniversary of the Affordable Care Act benefits of reform go unrecognized and faces flimsy legal challenges

Footprints in Desert Sand wallpaper

 

With the help SCOTUS rulings that bestow person-hood on corporations, conservatives at the state level have been trying – with some success to create a bizarre legal reality. One in which a clump of cells and corporations are persons with the same Constitutionally guaranteed rights as an individual citizen, yet make women three-fifths a person ( It’s fine if an individual carrying those cells wants to think of them as human, but that is different from imposing that legal view on everyone). How did we get to this point. making person-hood began at conception is bound for legal challenges. Many Democrats in Congress would like to see a bill that would once and for all spell out the fact that corporations are not people and such interpretations of the Constitution are an example of conservative judicial activism. In short the federal courts are important. When conservatives accuse non-conservative judges of being judicial activists who engage in overreach by bypassing the will of legislators, that is close to pure projection. Combined with call the ref. Conservatives decided decades ago to get out in front of these judicial versus legislation issues decades ago – mostly as a reaction to New Deal legislation. probably the most well-known piece of judicial activism coming out of the conservative Robert’s SCOTUS is Citizens United. On the other hand the Robert’s court is not immune to legal precedent as they showed in their ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld where the court found the Bush administration did not have authority to set up particular military commissions without congressional authorization, because they did not comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention. So in trying to guess how the SCOTUS will rule on the Affordable care Act ( health care reform, ObamaRomneycare) is tricky. As the Citizens decision showed, the conservatives on the court can be blatantly political, It’s Not About the Law, Stupid Forget precedent. Ignore Scalia’s musings. Next week’s health care argument before the Supreme Court is all about optics, politics, and public opinion.

And the fact that the Obama administration rushed the case to the Supreme Court in an election year is all the evidence you need to understand that they remain confident in their prospects. The law is a completely valid exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause power, and all the conservative longing for the good old days of the pre-New Deal courts won’t put us back in those days as if by magic. Nor does it amount to much of an argument.

So that brings us to the really interesting question: Will the Court’s five conservatives strike it down regardless? That’s what we’re really talking about next week and that has almost nothing to do with law and everything to do with optics, politics, and public opinion. That means that Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in the Raich medicinal marijuana case, and Chief Justice John Roberts’ and Anthony Kennedy’s opinions in Comstock only get us so far. Despite the fact that reading the entrails of those opinions suggest that they’d contribute to an easy fifth, sixth, and seventh vote to uphold the individual mandate as a legitimate exercise of Congressional power, the real question isn’t whether those Justices will be bound by 70 years of precedent or their own prior writings on federal power. The only question is whether they will ignore it all to deprive the Obama of one of his signature accomplishments.

Professor Randy Barnett, the intellectual power behind the entire health care challenge, wrote recently that Justice Scalia could break from his previous opinions—freeing him to strike down the Affordable Care Act—“without breaking a sweat.” I suspect that’s right.

If that’s true, we should stop fussing about old precedents. These old milestones of jurisprudence aren’t what will give Scalia pause. What matters is whether the five conservative justices are so intent in striking down Obama’shealthcare law that they would risk a chilly and divisive 5-4 dip back into the waters of Bush v. Gore and Citizens United.

[  ]…Given that line up of future cases, the five conservatives may want to keep their powder dry for now. I think they will. Poll released this week by the American Bar Association agrees, saying that most courtwatchers (85 percent) believe Obamacare will survive. And why is that? Not just the fact that—as I’ve said at the outset—the law is constitutional, well within the boundaries of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority. It’s because for the court to strike it down, the justices would have to pick a fight that wasn’t theirs in the first place.

One of the very specific reason that the ACA may get a pass from the SCOTUS that Dahlia Lithwick does not mention is Medicare. Sure it fine for Congressional conservatives to toss around gutting Medicare, making it into a kind of partial allowance for medical for 48 million Americans. The conservative base that thinks sharing your dessert is socialism hate Medicare. They droll over the graphs which show the growing costs of Medicare – when what we’re really talking about is the health care industry, which unlike most of the free market is resistant to cost containment. Do the conservatives on the court really want to undo Medicare? Because if they vote down the ACA they will have once again – as they did in Citizens – ignore legal precedent and wonder if they want to leave a conservative legal legacy which threw 48 million Americans into the financial and medical abyss. If Medicare Is OK, Obamacare Should Be Too

So why is the Affordable Care Act such an unconscionable infringement of liberty, while those two other, more revered programs are not? Some critics have suggested the Affordable Care Act is fundamentally unfair, because it effectively requires relatively healthy people to subsidize relatively unhealthy people. But that is true of Medicare and Social Security, too. The whole point of any social insurance is to ameliorate the impact of sheer chance on life—whether it’s being born with the wrong genes, growing up in the wrong neighborhood, or coming into contact with the wrong physical threats. Social insurance programs redistribute funds from the lucky to the unlucky, on the very sensible theory that any one of us could end up unlucky (and, at one point or another in our lives, probably will).(emphasis mine)

A truer distinction is that Medicare and Social Security are real government programs: The bureaucracies that run Medicare and Social Security actually distribute the benefits, in the form of checks or payments to health care providers. The Affordable Care Act is a more privatized system, in which private insurance companies are the direct financiers of benefits for many people. But even that distinction is blurrier than it might seem. Medicare has long offered beneficiaries the option of enrolling in private insurance plans, rather than the government-run program. And today about a quarter of all beneficiaries do just that. Those companies operate under close government supervision and regulation, it’s true. But so will the companies offering insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Probably will is an understatement. Unless you’re run over by a bus or some similar tragedy everyone will have to have health care eventually. Many liberals and progressives do not like mandates. I think their arguments tend to be more honest and hinge on the connection between individual civil liberties and government compulsion. That is a good point. Though in the real world, beyond political theory, none of us live in a bubble – as much as conservatives try to and libertarians dream. Our circumstances affect others and combined all those individuals with their need for health care affects society and the economy. While the riled up conservative base cheers at a Republicans debate for someone without health insurance to die, when millions of Americans start to die alone in their apartments or ally ways, when the lines to hospital emergency rooms stretch down the block. That will be picture on the poster defining what conservatism did to grandpa and those disabled children. Charities and private donations will pick up the slack? I’ve been hearing that looniness for years. Funny how American charitable organizations, corporations and private individuals have not managed to make much of a dent in our health care needs. Certainly nothing is stopping the Koch brothers or the parade of conservative sugar daddies and think tanks from starting a private tax-deductible organization that will – just for starters take care of those on Medicare. They could start even smaller and take care of the 20% gap in costs that Medicare recipients have to pay for out-of-pocket or buy supplemental insurance for.

Former James O’Keefe ‘Accomplice’ Reveals ‘Barn Incident’ And Harassment Complaint

Last week, we reported that Nadia Naffe, self-described “accomplice” to conservative activist James O’Keefe , had begun publishing a multi-part tell-all series of posts to her blog. Thursday morning, Naffe published the second part, which details her version of the events that led her to file a criminal harassment complaint against O’Keefe in November, and which includes documents related to a sexual harassment settlement between O’Keefe and “CNN Sex Boat Caper” whistleblower Izzy Santa. O’Keefe filed suit against Naffe on Wednesday to obtain an injunction against publication of those documents, and of emails that O’Keefe claims she stole from his computer.

Despite O’Keefe’s history he is part of the team/ crowd/ whatever, that still manages all the Breitbart Big sites. One of Brietbart’s legacy was to take the any lie is fine, any smear that is remotely plausible, any dirty trick culture of conservatism and add some steroids.

The Mittens Etch-a-Sketch Disaster is interesting, but let’s not forget about the deeply weird wing of conservatism that is keeping Santorum in the race. Rick Santorum: ‘The Issue In This Race Is Not The Economy’

“The issue in this race is not the economy,” he said.

His statement was part of a longer monologue about why Obama’s health care overhaul is a symbol of government overreach, and that Americans’ freedoms are eroding.

“The reason the economy is an issue in this race is because we have a government that is oppressing its people and taking away their freedom, and the economy is suffering as a result,” Santorum said.

Conservatives are always standing up for freedom – like the freedom to become financially ruined by bad health and health care costs. The freedom for your family to have no hope. The freedom to die and to paraphrase Scrooge, decrease the surplus population. The freedom for working class Americans to have the wealth they create redistributed to the top 10%. This is what Santorum thinks is a terrible injustice on the 2nd anniversary of Obamacare, Benefits of health care reform haven’t been fully recognized

While much of the important changes of the ACA — including the insurance exchange, premium assistance for individuals and Medicaid expansion — won’t go into effect until 2014, we now have two years of data to assess the impact of the parts of the reform that have already been implemented. Here is what we know today about the beneficial impact of the ACA.

Last year about 86 million Americans took advantage of the new law’s prevention benefits — no deductibles or co-payments — on procedures such as mammograms, bone mass measurements, PAP tests, pediatric visits, cancer screenings, immunizations and colonoscopies.

Approximately 3.6 million seniors on Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their medicine last year and premiums on Medicare Advantage policies have fallen by 7 percent this year.

Over 2.5 million more young adults up to 26 years of age are now covered under their parents’ health insurance thus reducing premiums and dramatically lowering the number of uninsured in this age bracket.

Approximately 7 million low-income children, whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase health insurance on their own, will continue to be eligible for the successful Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through Sept. 30, 2019. CHIP provides these children with affordable, comprehensive, high-quality health coverage.

Tens of thousands of Americans who were previously uninsured because of medical conditions now have affordable health insurance through the Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plans administrated by the states or federal government.

Hundreds of thousands of businesses with less than 25 employees have reduced their health care costs due to the small business health insurance tax credits.

Tens of thousands of Americans each year are not having their health insurance policies cancelled because they have reached previously allowed lifetime limits.

All these benefits of the Affordable Care Act were accomplished with little impact on health care cost. According to a recent report by Medicare actuaries, all health care spending increased by 3.9 percent in 2010 (latest data available) with only 0.1 percent a result of the ACA.

Yet a recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 14 percent of Americans understand that they have benefited from the ACA while about 66 percent said that the law hasn’t affected them and 21 percent claimed that the ACA has had a negative effect on them.

Obviously there is a disconnect between how the ACA has benefited the public and perception. There are two explanations for this.

First, the ACA benefits are not being attributed to the law. There is no note accompanying the receiving of the benefits that gives credit to the ACA, something supporters should have required in the law.

Second, opponents of the ACA have been loud and relentless with misinformation and disparaging commenting. There is no other explanation for 21 percent believing that they have been harmed.

The ACA continues to roll out with a few bumps in the road. But in spite of the critics, the benefits of this historic and vital health care reform will continue to grow.

Frank Knapp is president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce. Sue Berkowitz is director of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

Conservatives think corporations are people. Conservatives think women are not people. Conservatives think that legislation which was long past due that has saved lives and money is tyranny. In other words there is not much difference between how conservatives see the world and a 17th century mythic with brain damage.