Conservatism Has Pushed America Away From Being a Merit Based Culture

Starry Night Japan wallpaper

Starry Night Japan wallpaper

 

H/T to Mike for these links,  Bankers Explain How They Cannot Possibly Live On $1 Million Pay

Like many carbon-based lifeforms, you perhaps think that bankers are driven only by naked greed. But that is just because you don’t understand them: They actually have a deep psychological need for that money.

In a new article at the U.K. site eFinancialCareers, several bankers explain that they have legitimate reasons for needing more than one million British pounds (about $1.6 million) per year in pay — more money than most non-banking types could ever figure out how to spend. In a nutshell, it’s all about psychology.

[  ]…For one thing, taxes will quickly whittle a seven-figure income right down to the mid-six figures, perilously close to being within sight of the middle class. Then, an ex-Goldman banker points out, with the mere $600,000 in take-home pay remaining, bankers still need to “pay the mortgages on, and maintain houses, in the Hamptons and Manhattan, to put three children through private schools costing $40k a year each, and to pay living costs.”

Bankers might want to shed some of these costs by, say, sentencing their kids to rub elbows with the filthy Poors in public schools or owning just one house. But they are under constant social pressure to spend and spend some more, according to another ex-Goldmanite — who is now a psychotherapist, naturally.

I’m figuring that according to statistics most of the people that visit this blog are probably at the national median income – about $52k per year. Perhaps a few professionals – dentists, engineers, administrators, etc. who are in the  $64k to $125k range. Take a breath and try to get past the sheer cluelessness and ivory tower world view of these bankers. Look at the psychology. Their case is not that by merit of the work they, the value they provide society, the special value of their skills ( like not everyone can do fine assembly work with small electronics or watches. Not everyone can be a master carpenter, or forensic pathologist). Their value has been determined by other members of the club of bankers. Not based on merit, rather how much they think their class of people should get to maintain a certain lifestyle. Whatever that is, it is not capitalism. When someone gets a bag of salty fat laden chips with their food stamps, conservatives go ballistic over the undeserving getting the undeserved benefits. That particular issue being one of pennies and dimes. The upward distribution of unearned income, from capital created by working class Americans, the radical Right not only has no problem with, they think this is how a virtuous economy and culture should be structured. Are the bankers in the UK or the USA acting the way a patriot would act. Is this the way a patriot acts,  Global Super-Rich Stashing Up To $32 Trillion Offshore, Masking True Scale Of Inequality: Study

The global super-rich are stashing trillions of dollars offshore with the help of some of the world’s biggest banks, putting billions of dollars out of the taxman’s reach and masking wealth inequality’s true heights.

Wealthy people were hiding between $21 and $32 trillion in offshore jurisdictions around the world as of 2012, according to a 2012 study from the Tax Justice Network, an organization which aims to promote tax transparency. The study, highlighted by a recent Bloomberg News report, found that more than $12 trillion of that money was managed by 50 international banks, many of which received bailouts during the financial crisis, according to James Henry, the study’s author.

“There’s a lot more missing wealth in the world than we had known about from previous estimates,” Henry told The Huffington Post.

[  ]…The global super-rich are stashing trillions of dollars offshore with the help of some of the world’s biggest banks, putting billions of dollars out of the taxman’s reach and masking wealth inequality’s true heights.

Wealthy people were hiding between $21 and $32 trillion in offshore jurisdictions around the world as of 2012, according to a 2012 study from the Tax Justice Network, an organization which aims to promote tax transparency. The study, highlighted by a recent Bloomberg News report, found that more than $12 trillion of that money was managed by 50 international banks, many of which received bailouts during the financial crisis, according to James Henry, the study’s author.

“There’s a lot more missing wealth in the world than we had known about from previous estimates,” Henry told The Huffington Post.

The Tax Justice Network say the real scandal is that policy makers are not doing anything to shut down what is no less than mob style money laundering. Maybe elsewhere circumstances are different, but as we just saw with closing some gun safety background check loopholes, a minority party can shut down any legislation they like. With several senior Democrats retiring and a couple of those seas now in play for conservative nutbars, iit is very unlikely we’ll have a sixty seat filibuster proof majority in 2014 or 16. There were a couple of Senate Republicans on board with the background check legislation. It was very reasonable legislation that in no way interfered with a law abiding citizen buying a firearm for personal protection. It should have easily passed, but Obama liked it so, Toomey’s candor sheds light on post-policy party

So why did GOP senator put aside common sense and popular will? According to Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who co-authored the bipartisan measure, it wasn’t just about the gun lobby — some of his Republican colleagues didn’t want to “be seen helping the president.”

“In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it,” Toomey admitted on Tuesday in an interview with Digital First Media editors in the offices of the Times Herald newspaper in Norristown, Pa.

If Obama came out and said he liked puppies tomorrow, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) would claim that puppies were a commie plot.

Never assume that conservatives cannot reach the bottom of the scum pond, they always find a way to make moral corruption the new standard for behavior: DIRTY TRICKS: Mysterious Conservative Group Sending Out Push Polls In South Carolina Special Election

A mysterious conservative group has been placing highly-misleading phone calls to South Carolina voters, trying to dissuade them from voting for the Democrat in an upcoming congressional special election.

South Carolina has a reputation for dirty tricks, and next week’s special election between former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) and businesswoman Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) is no exception. One of the most popular tactics is known as “push polling,” whereby a group calls up voters under the guise of conducting a poll, only to ask questions that leave the voter with a highly-misleading impression about a certain candidate.

[  ]…The questions they did ask ranged from outlandish smears to thinly-veiled Republican talking points. Here are some of the issues SSI brought up in various iterations of the push poll, according to those ThinkProgress spoke with:

– “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she had had an abortion?”

– “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you a judge held her in contempt of court at her divorce proceedings?

– “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she had done jail time?”

– “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she was caught running up a charge account bill?”

– “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she supported the failed stimulus plan?”

– “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you unions contributed to her campaign?”

After about a half dozen of these questions, Wolford began to challenge the caller for asking such absurd questions. He apologized, telling her, “ma’am, I’m just paid to ask questions.” When Wolford asked who all he was calling, he demurred, saying he “just had to call the numbers they gave him.” She told ThinkProgress she suspects the calls were targeted towards Democratic women to try to discourage them from voting.

 

Bill Kristol and James O’Keefe Are Sleazy, But They’re Still Heroes of The Conservative Movement

Sheer Rock Face Monument Valley wallpaper

Sheer Rock Face Monument Valley wallpaper

The first two parts of this post are about specific issues, but also about the conservative movement’s inability to admit wrong, to have moral priorities and the media establishment’s tendency to never punish conservative “experts” for being repeatedly wrong. Fox Analysts Urge “Irresponsible” Obama To Do “Something,” But Won’t Say What

Bill Kristol (William Kristol) wants to go to war in Syria, but he won’t say what that war should look like. Appearing on Fox News Sunday to discuss reports of chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the Weekly Standard editor (and noted Iraq war hawk) attacked President Obama as “totally irresponsible” for indicating that he doesn’t want “to start another war,” saying: “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

[   ]…Kristol’s call for (non-specific) military action got a boost from Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume, who observed: “There’s something to be said for doing something. That if they cross a line, you’ve got to do something. Now whatever it is may not directly affect the chemical weapons use, but if it directly affects and harms the regime’s prospects in the war, that would at least be a consequence.”

According to Hume, doing “something” (whatever that is) wouldn’t be as difficult as people suspect. “This isn’t Mission: Impossible.”

The Chicken-Hawk conservative experts are as brave about spending other people’s lives as they ever were. This is the gravely serious analysis Kristol gave the USA in 2003,

On March 17, 2003, on the eve of our invasion of Iraq, Bill Kristol wrote the following:

We are tempted to comment, in these last days before the war, on the U.N., and the French, and the Democrats. But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction. It will reveal the aspirations of the people of Iraq, and expose the truth about Saddam’s regime. It will produce whatever effects it will produce on neighboring countries and on the broader war on terror. We would note now that even the threat of war against Saddam seems to be encouraging stirrings toward political reform in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and a measure of cooperation in the war against al Qaeda from other governments in the region. It turns out it really is better to be respected and feared than to be thought to share, with exquisite sensitivity, other people’s pain. History and reality are about to weigh in, and we are inclined simply to let them render their verdicts.

Well, it’s been almost four years since Kristol penned those smug, taunting words, and I think it’s fair to say that history and reality have indeed weighed in. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Our invasion has destabilized the entire region (and not in a positive way) and has actually exacerbated the overall terrorist threat our country faces. We are no longer feared or respected, at least nowhere near the degree we were before the invasion. Over 3000 American soldiers have lost their lives (with many thousands more badly injured). Tens of thousands of Iraqis (perhaps hundreds of thousands) have been killed and millions more displaced. We’ve squandered billions of dollars, as well as our national credibility and mystique. And our armed forces are currently bogged down and stretched to the limit as they undertake the thankless task of policing an escalating civil war.

Kristol and his sycophants in the conservative movement have always tried to portray Kristol as their sober cleared eyed foreign policy expert. Kristol is not one to be content to always be wrong about one field of expertise. He has an equally shaky grasp of economics. Paul Krugman Lied and Made Paul Ryan Cry, Then The Economy Died,

The new line on the right is that the economy is now swooning because President Obama criticized Paul Ryan.

And here, via Nexis, is Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday:

Two months ago, the economy’s prospects looked better and President Obama’s political prospects looked better. Then he gave that speech on April 13th. It was at Georgetown, where he demagogically attacked the Paul Ryan budget and basically started employing the “Mediscare” tactics.

I don’t think it’s an accident that the people have lost confidence in the last two months. I actually think it’s hurt him politically.

Remember earlier this year he was going to compromise with Republicans, he was getting serious about the debt, he was pivoting to the center? I think that April 13 speech could be a moment where people look back and say, he went for a short-term political benefit, but hurt his prospects next year and hurt the economy.

David Frum rebuts:

I would myself lay much more emphasis on economic factors like: (i) the continuing destruction of American consumer wealth as housing prices deflate; (ii) the burden of rising oil prices; (iii) the collective decision of American consumers to increase their saving by 6 points of personal income – a laudable decision, but one that subtracts a lot of demand from the economy.

But if I were a believer in the business confidence theory, here’s the counter-question I’d put to Michael Barone:

Which is more likely to subtract from business confidence: a lame speech by the president – or a highly credible and sustained threat by the majority party in the House of Representatives to force a default on the debts, contracts, and other obligations of the United States?

Frum is also a conservative. While David racks up a fair share of wrongs, he comes out looking like Einstein  next to Kristol. Part two of there is no downside to being bonehead conservative, James O’Keefe’s New Gonzo Army. The Breitbart protégé is hunting for some like-minded compatriots.

And so, on a sunny April morning, here they are at a Citizen Watchdog Summit aimed at training them in the art of citizen journalism, an event sponsored by the conservative Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which was created with support from David and Charles Koch. After an opening address, a speaker asks for a little audience participation.

“How many of you are on Facebook?” About half the agents raise their hands.

“How many of you are on Twitter?” About a quarter raise their hands.

“How many of you have done online video?” Two hands rise up from the crowd.

This is a bit of a problem for O’Keefe, who, during his talk, informs the agents that the goal is to “start an information revolution,” not with “pitchforks or guns” but with media. “I think it’s about video. I’m a video guy.”

O’Keefe scored a big Con victory when Piers Morgan wanted to read a petition before signing it. That is an example of the “revolution.” O’Keefe pointed out to the crowd of seniors that he has a hard time traveling. Why? because he is on probation. And that is only for the one thing he was prosecuted for, not the sleazy behavior and serial lying. In the couple of instances where he has found someone not adhering to the letter of the law, they were ethical misconduct issues, not culture wide examples of rampant corruption. If it is hypocrisy he wants to expose, why have we never seen him pull one of gonzo video attacks on one of those red staters who are collecting unemployment insurance, or depend on Medicare or Social Security – my neighbors in other words. I’m not saying my conservative neighbors would smack this sleazeball, but they would tell him where he could put his gotcha video camera. he gets part of his financing from the Koch brothers. Why no gonzo video on all the govmint subsides the Kochs get – oil subsidies, cheap limber from publicly owned forests, police protection for their property, a govmint safety net for their ill or injured employees. And why is O’Keefe deceiving this retired conservatives by painting them a world view that is so distorted by zealotry it barely resembles the world real Americans live in. Honor has proven very disposable in O’Keefe World.

Notes on Fear and Terrorism in America

Santa Monica Pier wallpaper

Santa Monica Pier wallpaper

 

Future historians should consider the Bush-Cheney years as the Chicken-Little Era. Every day all conservatives did was tell America we were going to all die from a terrorist attack by radicalized Muslims. Actually they would just say Muslims. As though the world’s estimated 1.6 billion Muslims – the world’s second largest religion, were at world with the rest of the world. Back in 2010 the CIA estimated there were about 50 to 100, perhaps 500 Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. That is out of a population of 30 million. There are an estimated 25,000 members world-wide. The math says that less than 1% of the world’s Muslims are members. It doesn’t take many people to commit a few acts of terror and produce the desired results, fear and over reaction. Conservatives practically fall over themselves to live up to those expectations. It is reasonable to be concerned about terrorism or any organized form of violence. there is a point which reaches unjustified levels of paranoia. My anecdotal experience is that conservatives are easier to scare and quicker to reach a paranoid world view. That level of fear may not be much more than normal, humanity has a history of living in fear and has given itself reason for doing so. It may be that conservatives are only a few degrees more paranoid than the average, and that small degree is enough to produce behavior that thus far caused substantial loss of American and innocent foreign lives. It has also cost us in other ways. The Iraq war may end up costing $6 trillion. The US has become a surveillance state. I’m not sure how that could happen since the NRA says it cannot tolerant even modest regulation of fire arms because they need them to protect us from intrusions on the Constitution. Anyone seen the NRA lobbying or pulling guns on Congress over the more despicable parts of the Patriot Act. Of course not. The NRA is all about being armed to the teeth to defend us against their weird fantasies, not reality. It did not take long for the same Chicken-Little conservatives to exploit the religion of the Boston Marathon in the hopes of furthering their radical agenda, Tea Party Congressman Exploits Manhunt For Suspected Boston Bomber To Advance Weaker Gun Laws

A Tea Party Congressman has joined a growing list of conservatives are seizing on the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect to argue for looser gun laws. Appearing on The Blaze Thursday afternoon, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) suggested that the Bostonians on lock down need high capacity magazines to protect themselves from violence. Via Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch:

What hit me this morning when I heard the residents there around Boston and in the area where they thought someone might be were ordered to stay in their homes, businesses were ordered closed, public transportation was ordered closed. Let me ask you, if you’re sitting in your home and you know there are only two possibilities for people coming, one is law enforcement and the other is somebody who has already killed Americans and continues to do so, how many rounds do you want to be limited to in your magazine as you sit in your chair and wait?

There were about 192,000 licensed gun owners in Massachusetts in 2007. The number has gone up since than and went up with recent events. So despite 192,000 gun owners, the terrorist still managed to murder three people and maim or wound over a hundred others. These gun owners did not seem to join police and FBI in pursuit after the initial fire fight at Watertown. What stopped them. Common sense or letting the professionals do their job. The USA has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world and while it has been declining the last decade, we still have a pretty violent society. Though not so high that it warrants living in fear and staying at home all the time. Eight facts about terrorism in the United States

Your odds of dying in a terrorist attack are still far, far lower than dying from just about anything else.

Your odds of dying in a terrorist attack are still far, far lower than dying from just about anything else.

In the last five years, the odds of an American being killed in a terrorist attack have been about 1 in 20 million (that’s including both domestic attacks and overseas attacks). As the chart above from the Economist shows, that’s considerably smaller than the risk of dying from many other things, from post-surgery complications to ordinary gun violence to lightning.

That said, terrorist attacks obviously loom much larger in our collective consciousness — not least because they’re designed to horrify. So, understandably, they get much more attention.

Note that your odds of being harmed by a friendly gun owner are much higher than being harmed by any kind of terrorist, rather it is a radicalized Muslim or some home grown conservative abortion fanatic. If conservatives were genuinely concerned about preserving the life and health of US citizens they’d stampede Congress demanding a public insurance program like Medicare for everyone. Funding science research that targets what has become known as superbugs – infections resistant to antibiotics will kill more people this year in the U.S. than any kind of terrorism.

Total terror attacks are on decline.

Bill Maher: Comparing violence of Islam to Christianity ‘liberal bullsh*t’ [VIDEO].

On HBO’s “Real Time” on Friday night, host Bill Maher entertained CSU-San Bernardino professor Brian Levin, director of the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism, who maintained that despite the events in recent days, religious extremism isn’t only a product of Islam.

But Maher took issue with that claim, calling it “liberal bullshit” and said there was no comparison.

“You know what, yeah, yeah,” Maher said. “You know what — that’s liberal bullshit right there … they’re not as dangerous. I mean there’s only one faith, for example, that kills you or wants to kill you if you draw a bad cartoon of the prophet. There’s only one faith that kills you or wants to kill you if you renounce the faith. An ex-Muslim is a very dangerous thing. Talk to Salman Rushdie after the show about Christian versus Islam. So you know, I’m just saying let’s keep it real.”

Besides playing up his alleged anti-political correctness to get publicity, the major thing that Bill is guilty of here is sloppy thinking. Certainly there are Muslims who are sociopaths. Most of them are not. That is fact, not a point of view. In the next category down are the Muslims who do need some liberalizing. They’re the ones who were and likely still are angry over some cartoons. I have zero sympathy for people offended by any kind of religious cartoon. I don’t know every liberal, neither does Bill, but most of them think of the cartoon nonsense the same way. Though I’ve read some liberals who would prefer that cartoonist not make religious themed cartoons so as not to offend any religion. They’re mistaken to feel that way in my opinion, but I understand where they’re coming from in terms of being sensitive to others beliefs. I grew up on Mark Twain. He was cranky, irreverent,  pro censorship for children, but not adults.

“You’re wrong about that and you’re wrong about your facts,” Maher said. “Now, obviously, most Muslim people are not terrorists. But ask most Muslim people in the world, if you insult the prophet, do you have what’s coming to you? It’s more than just a fringe element.”

It is fair and obvious that there are some violent Muslims. Again this is shoddy thinking on Bill’s part. there are also far radicalized conservative groups around the world. Membership in conservative militia groups spiked when Obama was elected president. Most of these groups have not carried out what we think of as terror attacks. Though remember that the Norway attacks were by a conservative killed 77 people. And that the fighting in the Middle-east is mostly about Muslim killing other Muslims. As this article notes more people were murdered in a terror attack in Iraq during the Boston marathon than the marathon bombings. It is not just Bill Maher – who had some good points to make and went too far. This is about critical thinking. About details that matter. At one point in history Protestants and Catholics were doing a very good job of murdering each other. Even up to modern era Northern Ireland. Maher said that no one could put on a play criticizing Muslims. He might be right about that, but it would not surprise me if Broadway producers were reluctant to put on an anti-Catholic play with child abuse and molestation as it’s central theme. Or a play about the Posse Comitatus paramilitary/Christian movement. Though if Bill could take off his blinders for a minute he might find there has been of anti-Muslim films made and distributed. What Bill is proud of, in an indirect way, and conservatives as well, though they are loath to follow their thoughts to conclusion, is that the U.S., Canada and western Europe have been largely secularized. Sure there are a lot of people that believe in some deity, but like American Catholics who have overwhelmingly embraced contraceptives, or American Muslims that hang on to bits of tradition, they largely think for themselves rather than go by strict interpretation of religious dogma.

High Speed Train II wallpaper – Conservatives and Dishonest Budget Negotiations

High Speed Train II wallpaper

High Speed Train II wallpaper

It was difficult to decide who to star with, the reasons for putting CPI and cuts to the safety net as a bargaining chip on the table again or Paul Krugman’s criticism. A coin toss decided to go with the administration’s reasoning first,  Obama Budget: Administration Explains Why It Started With A ‘Compromise Proposal’

President Barack Obama’s budget, which will be introduced on Wednesday, takes a political position that some of his base is bound to bemoan. Rather than present an outline of progressive priorities, the White House has chosen to stake claim to the middle ground, offering up a mix of modest tax hikes to go along with spending cuts and entitlement reforms that Democrats have long warned against.

The specifics are as follows:

The budget would reduce the deficit by $1.8 trillion over ten years — $600 billion of this reduction would come from revenue raisers, and $1.2 trillion would come from spending reductions and entitlement reforms;
It would change the benefit structure of Social Security (chained-CPI);
It would means test additional programs in Medicare;
All told, it would include $400 billion in health care savings (or cuts);
It would cut $200 billion from other areas, identified by The New York Times as “farm subsidies, federal employee retirement programs, the Postal Services and the unemployment compensation system;”
It would pay for expanded access to pre-K (an Obama priority) by increasing the tobacco tax;
It would set limits on tax-preferred retirement accounts for the wealthy, prohibiting individuals from putting more than $3 million in IRAs and other tax-preferred retirement accounts;
And it would stop people from collecting full disability benefits and unemployment benefits that cover the same period of time.

Looked at piece-by-piece, nothing in the above is all that surprising. President Obama has proposed these policies in various offers in the past. Most recently, they’ve been discussed as part of replacement options for the sequester.

Adults know that in the real world you do not always get everything you ask for and in the art of negotiation starting out with some tolerable compromises is usually not an unreasonable starting point for negotiations. Though for the last five years conservatives have made it clear that any proposal about anything must start far Right of center and move further Right during the negotiation process. Knowing this the administration has once again – probably – made the mistake of starting off giving away too much. A spokesperson from the White House says,

While this is not the president’s ideal deficit-reduction plan, and there are particular proposals in this plan — like the CPI change — that were key Republican requests and not the president’s preferred approach. This is a compromise proposal built on common ground, and the president felt it was important to make it clear that the offer still stands. The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth. That means that the things like CPI that Republican leaders have pushed hard for will only be accepted if congressional Republicans are willing to do more on revenues. This isn’t about political horsetrading; it’s about reducing the deficit in a balanced way that economists say is best for the economy and job creation. That’s why the president’s offer –- which will be reflected in his budget — isn’t a menu of options for them to choose from; it’s a cohesive package that reflects the kind of compromise we should be able to reach.

I’m aware and prominent liberal political commentators should be as well, that conservatives in the senate will us the filibuster to stop any budget that does not meet their every whim. Democrats are in the minority in the House. Just in political terms there is the awful business of facing that reality and still passing a  new budget – one that restores some of the spending from the sequester. And Krugman, Desperately Seeking “Serious” Approval

So what’s this about? The answer, I fear, is that Obama is still trying to win over the Serious People, by showing that he’s willing to do what they consider Serious — which just about always means sticking it to the poor and the middle class. The idea is that they will finally drop the false equivalence, and admit that he’s reasonable while the GOP is mean-spirited and crazy.

But it won’t happen. Watch the Washington Post editorial page over the next few days. I hereby predict that it will damn Obama with faint praise, saying that while it’s a small step in the right direction, of course it’s inadequate — and anyway, Obama is to blame for Republican intransigence, because he could make them accept a Grand Bargain that includes major revenue increases if only he would show Leadership (TM).

Oh, and wanna bet that Republicans soon start running ads saying that Obama wants to cut your Social Security?

The part that should drive everyone crazy – anyone who cares about seniors, the disabled and children anyway – is the implication that the deficit or the national debt is somehow connected to Social Security. No the administration does not say that, but by always including it as part of budget negotiations it is something many Americans believe. As Krugman and others note, we should be increasing benefits. Those benefits are not giveaways to lazy moochers. Because pensions and personal savings plans (IRAs) are not the great panacea that everyone thought they would be back in the early 90s, people need more to pay for basic living expenses. Society doesn’t loose anything. That money is not given to someone and it disappears into the Great Lazy Moocher Void. People pay rent and buy stuff with it. It goes back into the economy. Unlike Mitt Romney’s money and quite a few bankers, that money does not get hidden away in offshore tax havens – Offshore tax havens ($32 trillion hidden) rocked by bank account leaks $32 trillion (€25 trillion).

Dear Dr. Ben Carson, current darling of cultural conservatives, this is one of your comrades, Judge Who Sent Racist, Anti-Obama Email Will Retire From Bench

Last year, former Chief Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal district court in Montana, admitted to sending a racist email forward comparing President Obama’s conception to sex with a dog:

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’”

In the wake of this email, and the serious questions it raised about whether Judge Cebull is capable of handling politically charged cases or cases alleging racism with professionalism and neutrality, a judicial council overseeing Cebull opened a formal misconduct hearing into his actions at Cebull’s request. Late last year, Cebull announced that he would take senior status, a type of partial retirement for judges. Late last week, he upgraded this to a full retirement from the bench — effective May 3rd.

 

Cardboard World Map wallpaper – Paul Ryan (R-WI) and His Mercenary Budget have Risen From The Dead

Cardboard World Map wallpaper

Cardboard World Map wallpaper

 

Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a zombie. In party hooked on tax and spending cuts as economic magic, Ryan is the master of the pack mentality. he and his fellow zombies have decided to ignore the world-wide failure of austerity policies, to ignore the fact that tax cuts are not tied to economic growth and that spending cuts to entitlement programs are the key to eternal life and free donuts. Paul Ryan pretends he didn’t lose

1. Ryan’s budget is far-right plan with magic asterisks: Instead of paying any attention to the results of the 2012 elections, Ryan is right back where he was before — pitching a far-right plan predicated on scrapping Medicare, slashing public investments, and giving the wealthy massive tax cuts. That’s not what the American mainstream wants? Ryan doesn’t give a damn. As has been the case, he pays for the tax cuts with smoke and mirrors, promising new revenue from “reforms” that only he can see.

Remember the deal they Congress just worked out to avoid the fiscal cliff where taxes were raised back to the same level they were during the Clinton years on household incomes over $350k a year. Well Ryan’s plan relies on that increase in revenue. Talk about hypocrisy. One thing that no one seems to be able to control, and it is predominantly a private sector issue, is the cost of health care. It is a private part of the economy, but it is not really subject to capitalistic competition. Ever heard of a doctor having a sale on flu shots or appendectomies. Obamacare introduces some incentives to bring down costs. So with our Ryan zombie thinking caps on, what do we do? We repeal Obamacare. Though let’s not complain, let’s thank Ryan for increasing the number of House seats to be occupied by Democrats in 2014.

Ryan’s budget makes Democrats very happy: With Democrats hoping for significant gains in the 2014 midterms, they’ll need a potent weapon to use against Republican incumbents. Had Ryan moderated his budget plan and left Medicare alone, Democrats would need to look elsewhere for rhetorical ammunition. Instead, the Wisconsin congressman has done the DCCC a big favor.

Yet another awkward moment for Republicans where they play lap-dog for billionaires and big banks, while they stab current and future senior citizens in the back. Republicans have been playing Chicken-Little with the budget deficit ever since they lost in 2012. Pick your far Right conservative website from The national Review to Hot Air to Breitbart – the country is going to be utterly destroyed by the Debt Monster – you know, the one they created from 2000 to 2008. Well, the deficit has declined as p percent of GDP every year since 2009. That monster only lives under the beds of conservative Chicken-Littles. Dwindling Deficit Disorder

But after peaking in 2009 at $1.4 trillion, the deficit began coming down. The Congressional Budget Office expects the deficit for fiscal 2013 (which began in October and is almost half over) to be $845 billion. That may still sound like a big number, but given the state of the economy it really isn’t.

Bear in mind that the budget doesn’t have to be balanced to put us on a fiscally sustainable path; all we need is a deficit small enough that debt grows more slowly than the economy. To take the classic example, America never did pay off the debt from World War II — in fact, our debt doubled in the 30 years that followed the war. But debt as a percentage of G.D.P. fell by three-quarters over the same period.

It is Krugamn’s constant hammering of this very basic history and arithmetic that has made him a big target for conservative smear merchants, Conservative News Site Breitbart.com Duped By Fake Story That Paul Krugman Declared Bankruptcy. Now is a good time to remember that these same miscreants of alternative journalism are the same ones that are selling the Benghazi conspiracy theories, the Obama is coming after your guns conspiracy theory and now a classic, the Fast and Furious conspiracy theory. If a conservative told me it was sunrise I’d look over mu shoulder to check first. If conservatives devoted as much time to something constructive to help the USA live up to its ideals as they do pushing sewage down America’s throat, we could easily solve this country’s problems.

Since November of last year Republicans have written a cornucopia of editorials about where the conservative movement should go, how it should change to win over voters – they literally have lost the popular vote for every presidential election since Bush 41’s first term in the 1980s. One of the things they were going to do was better outreach to minorities, Conservative Political Action Conference Joined at The Hip With White-Nationalist American Renaissance

For the past week, the American Conservative Union, which founded and is the primary organizer of CPAC, has showcased on its website an article from its newsletter, the Conservative Battleline, headlined “Debating Liberal Tactics” and written by Robert Weissberg. The ACU identifies Weissberg as a professor from Cornell and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and the author of 11 books. What it doesn’t mention is that Weissberg has long been affiliated with a pseudo-think tank called the New Century Foundation. This foundation publishes a magazine called American Renaissance and hosts conferences under the same name, promoting the theory of “scientific racism” and providing a forum in which Klan members, neo-Nazis, and David Duke followers can mix it up with the intellectuals of the white-nationalist movement.

In the tsunami of politics things could change next month, but for right now, Democrats are looking better and better in 2014, and beyond. So Republicans might want to save to spend more money on gerrymandering, they’re going to need it.

Cobblestone Street wallpaper – The Shallowness of Conservatism

Cobblestone Street wallpaper

Cobblestone Street wallpaper

 

Matthew Cooper is a good guy, but one of those generally anti-drone liberals and thus I disagree with him about some of the details in this piece. He does nail Rand the conservative hypocrisy on violating civil rights and generally trampling over the Constitution anytime they feel like it. Republicans are still very much the party of Cheney, Bush 43 and John Yoo, Rand Paul and Washington’s Night of Hypocrisy

And therein lies the first part of the hypocrisy. Republican senators who had embraced Cheneyism–enhanced interrogation, Guantanamo, rendition, military tribunals–last night evinced a touching, tender sympathy for civil liberties and due process. Conservative bloggers were quick to say there was no hypocrisy: Cheney-era policies were about enemy combatants, foreigners with fewer if any rights, as opposed to American citizens.

I could go Greenwald here and say that Rand deserves some kind of credit, but he was jousting with ghosts. Eric Holder’s Two-Sentence Response to Rand Paul’s 13-Hour Filibuster

Dear Senator Paul: It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.

Cooper and other liberals have been too quick to give credit for what was nothing more than a Rand Paul commercial that was testing the waters for a presidential run. There was far more ego than legal principle involved. What would have gotten my respect was a sincere attempt by Rand to form a coalition of conservatives with similar concerns – across the broad – when, where and under what circumstances is using drones constitutional, we need to close Gitmo and move the known combatants to max security prisons – letting the others be given a trial and sentence or let go. They could rein in the Patriot Act and the ever expanding surveillance state. Rand and his comrades ( if he has any – McCain(R-AZ) and Graham(R-SC) slam Paul on Senate floor) could team up with some Democrats and write the rules and correct the wrongs. I remember a little art history from school. We compared how a street scene looked before and after artist started using perspective. Things really look different – a different reality so to speak seen with perspective. Maybe Rand would be a possible defection on really narrowing down executive power when it comes to drone strikes. While that would be great and is how politics is played, he is a disaster on constitutional principles and his record is shamelessly hypocritical, Sen. Paul’s Filibuster Highlights Sham Filibuster used to Kill Halligan Nomination

Paul’s action was far different than the Republican obstructionists’ baseless and practically silent filibuster of Caitlin Halligan to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

…Halligan, however, was blocked by senators who on the whole probably spoke less than two hours about Halligan. And their objections were incredibly lame. She’s received the ABA’s highest ranking for qualification and exceedingly strong support in the legal community, both conservatives and progressives.

Republican senators have been obstructing the judicial nominations process ever since Obama first took office. The president was not able to appoint a judge to the D.C. Circuit during his first term because of Republicans’ obstinacy. There is simply a great desire among the Senate Republicans to keep as many vacancies open, especially on the powerful D.C. Circuit, for as long as possible. These obstructionists are beholden to a base that coddles the superrich and riles up a shrinking group, albeit loud and still influential, obsessed with keeping the courts packed with right-wing ideologues.

I am going to be generous and lave out Rand and his dad’s ugly civil rights views, but Rand Paul  Praises Horrendous Supreme Court Decision, Would Let Employers Ruthlessly Exploit Workers. I’m not especially fond of libertarians or Republican-Libertarians like Rand Paul or Paul Ryan. They talk about freedom a lot. Yet they truly and deeply believe, as does the rest of the conservative movement, that when workers show up for work they should not have any rights or much in the way of rights. Bargaining for better working conditions, fair wages, health benefits, vacation, sick leave – how dare workers have rights like that when the conservative overloads have been so generous as to give them a job. Their concept of freedom is to turn over the job of dishing out tyranny to corporate America – the evil side of the same coin that says the state collective should micro manage business and workers. Because , apparently tyranny is freedom when it done by the wealthy and powerful crony capitalists. The Koch brothers are Rand Paul’s and Paul Ryan’s heroes. These are guys that make plastic turf and paper towels. They’re the real life John Galts. One of those beliefs that would be hysterical if they did not actually believe in that load of bull and use it as a political philosophy to steal billions from American workers. How Long Will Voters Let Conservative Republicans Put the Rich Before Everyone Else?

In addition to the various cuts in services, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 750,000 jobs will be lost by the end of the year and the GDP will slow down by 0.6%. But, hey, Wall Street had a bumper day on Tuesday, so who really cares about a few hundred thousand job losses or if the poor get poorer?

…In the past 30 years the wealth of the top 1% has more than tripled, meanwhile 15% of the country are now living in abject poverty, up from 13.8% in 2008 and real median household incomes declined 1.5% in 2011, the second consecutive annual drop.

So the old cliche about the rich getting richer while the poor (and middle class) get poorer is alive and kicking. If anyone fails to see the link between this reality and the policies promoted by the Republican party that protect the rich and punish the poor, then I guess you should just keep voting republican and you will keep getting more of the same.

Certainly the Democrats have made mistakes along the way in the various debt ceiling and budgetary showdowns, and President Obama may have ceded too much ground here and there. But it’s not easy to negotiate effectively when you have a congress that is run by a party who are so irresponsible they are willing to shut down the government and let children go hungry unless they get their way.

I’ll bring up my Republican friends and family again. They would say and have said, they do care. There seems to be a mental disconnect. They see themselves as decent people, yet they’ll pull the lever that sentences their fellow Americans to stagnation at best, and a  relentless painful life at worse. They really do feel  – and feel is the operative word – they’re not much for studies and statistics – that if you let people go without a hand up they’ll fix things some how. No one is getting rich off Social Security or food stamps. The only people getting a free ride are people like Mitt Romney’s kids, who will get through life without ever doing an honest day’s work. If you don’t live an a velvet economic bubble you probably know some lazy low income folks. I do. I also know a lot of people that make an OK living, they show up for work and do as little as possible. I have known way too many people with college educations that were helped by mom and dad, and the government, with executive titles that would not know what work or competence was if if it flew up their ass and whistled Dixie. While imperfect, as humans tend to be, most of the average folks I know make a living, are competent, decent and do not understand why conservatives are punishing them for not being lucky or born rich – The War On Entitlements. They know the game is rigged. They know if they make a mistake, or have an accident, they’re screwed. Yet someone will be there to bail out the dukes and lords.

Happy Valetines Day wallpaper – Did Phil Bronstein Give Navy SEAL The Shaft To Juice Up His Story

Happy Valentines Day wallpaper

Happy Valentine’s Day wallpaper

 

I’m not sure what got into Phil Bronstein when he wrote this piece for Esquire, The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden… Is Screwed. From the title alone Bronstein has decided on an agenda. On reading this lengthy piece one can see what could have been good journalism, instead of bits of good journalism sprinkled in between a point of view that seethes with more anger from Bronstien, than the Shooter, who is the subject of the profile. The Shooter is a hero, he and his team are prominent, and rightfully so, figures of history.

“No one who fights for this country overseas should ever have to fight for a job,” Barack Obama said last Veterans’ Day, “or a roof over their head, or the care that they have earned when they come home.”

But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:

Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.

First of all The Shooter and everyone else on his team is entitled to some health care benefits, according the military newspaper Stars and Stripes, Esquire article wrongly claims SEAL who killed Bin Laden is denied healthcare

Except the claim about health care is wrong. And no servicemember who does less than 20 years gets a pension, unless he has to medically retire.

Like every combat veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the former SEAL, who is identified in the story only as “the Shooter”, is automatically eligible for five years of free healthcare through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But the story doesn’t mention that.

The writer, Phil Bronstein, who heads up the Center for Investigative Reporting, stands by the story. He said the assertion that the government gave the SEAL “nothing” in terms of health care is both fair and accurate, because the SEAL didn’t know the VA benefits existed.

“No one ever told him that this is available,” Bronstein said.

He said there wasn’t space in the article to explain that the former SEAL’s lack of healthcare was driven by an ignorance of the benefits to which he is entitled.

There wasn’t space? Bronstein would have saved space by not writing a lie and Esquire would not have taken a serious ding to it’s journalistic reputation if their copy editor had done some basic fact checking. The Shooter would have to apply to the Veterans health care system just like when a private sector individual reaches 64 and is eligible for Medicare, they are not automatically enrolled, they have to apply. While it is a shame that someone who serves 16 years is not entitled to, say, a partial retirement package, those are the rules and he, like every enlistee knows that going in ( currently one must serve a minimum of 20 years to qualify for a retirement pension – lots of details here).  Of course he is having a tough transition. Special Forces generally only give you one skill set that one can use in the private sector and that is private security. A field he said he did not want to get into. If he wanted to get a civil service job he and the other team members would be entitled to Veterans Preference – that is where all things considered a qualified vet would get the job over a qualified non-veteran. There is a government an affiliated web site to help vets transition to civilian jobs. I could write another paragraph on the resources available to vets, but I think readers get the point. The transition is not easy. Many of the vets from Afghanistan and Iraq suffer some from various emotional and physical illments. Some just have a diffuclt time tranistioning from military to civilian life in an economic recovery that is going slower than any of us would like. Though I have some experience with this because so many of my relatives are or were military, there is no excuse for Bronstein to take an obviously personal stake in this story, explitictly and tacitly protesting what he says are a lack of resorces, claiming to be a friend to the Shooter, yet did not thinkl or bother to take a lousy thiry minutes on the web to check out the resources available to this guy – both health care and otherwise. That would have ruined Phil’s agenda – hey I found some resources for health care, employment and counseling – oh sh*t now I’ll have to find another angle for this story. There might be a rainbow at the end of Bronstein’s journalistic malfeasance. That someone in the Department of Veterans Affairs personally contacts the Shooter and at least explain all the options available to him.

Some other news notes:
Ex-Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh insists he’s not trying to stop paying child support

After insisting he wasn’t a “deadbeat dad” throughout his failed campaign for re-election, ex-U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh is still dogged by questions about child support.

Walsh, a flame-throwing Tea Party Republican who was trying to land a radio deal and last week announced he was forming a new conservative SuperPAC, filed court papers seeking to end his obligation to pay $2,134 per month in child support.

But once again, Walsh insists he’s no deadbeat.

Both he and his attorney say that since he is no longer employed as a congressman, they want to “modify” the previous agreement so that he pays 20 percent of his current salary.

Walsh is not currently employed and has no salary. But that could change, he said.

“I’m working on it,” he said.

While Walsh was making $179 a year as a flame throwing do nothing on Capitol Hill he could not seem to find the child support money. Now that is is out trying to get a job on the pandering to mouth breathers circuit, he cannot or will not pay child support. That kid is going to graduate from college by the time Walsh finishes making excuses.

Why Does Fox’s Conservative Propagandist Megyn Kelly Keep Shoving False Information Down Viewer’s Throats

Kelly touted a Fox News poll on the popularity of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as well as future stimulus spending. According to the poll, the public perception is that the stimulus did not work. And although Kelly noted that Democrats like President Obama and Nancy Pelosi have argued that federal stimulus spending was responsible for the creation of three million jobs, she failed to point out that this isn’t just the opinion of political partisans — it’s the opinion of most economists. A 2010 Wall Street Journal poll of economists showed that 70% of economists agreed that the stimulus was good for the U.S. economy.

Only on Fox News would you ever see someone claim that sense a majority of their viewers believe something that makes it true or not. So if Fox News viewers do not believe in the Theory of Gravity, the Theory of Relativity or that invisible gases make it possible for life to exist on this planet, those things must not be true. Fox News, where everyone is entitled to their own reality.

Texas Congressman Invites Ted Nugent, Who Threatened The President’s Life, To The State Of The Union. Well, because Nugent is a man freak of his word, we know that he must be a zombie at the inauguration, since he did say,

Nugent called President Obama a criminal and denounced his “vile, evil America-hating administration” which is “wiping its ass with the Constitution.” Taking it a step further, he said that “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

If I liked the kind of reality television where you tune in every week to watch a grown man have a mental breakdown, Nugent might be interesting.

Joe Scarborough, a former conservative congress critter has been trying to recover from being a conservative for a long time. He might be a loss cause, Wow, Joe Scarborough Doesn’t Understand Economics at All

On virtually every single fact here, though, Scarborough is wrong. Let’s begin Scarborough’s rant:

It’s breathtaking. And this is the position that liberals have put themselves in. This is where they’re moving. And this is why I think the Democratic Party, for the first time in a very long time, is in fear of overreaching and making the same mistakes that Republicans made in the past and making Eric Cantor actually look like the voice of moderation as he did in that Meet the Press clip when he said we can’t just keep going back to raising more taxes and raising more taxes. I’ll tell you, Democrats are about to step into a real mess if they’re not careful. Nancy Pelosi saying we don’t have a spending problem, when the federal government is breaking records every year with the explosive growth of spending in every category.

Now, when Pelosi said it’s inaccurate to say “We have a spending problem,” she did not say that she could never support any spending cuts. She was responding to Republican statements immediately preceding her, attempting to define the budget deficit as entirely a spending problem, a common rhetorical tic that ignores the collapse in tax revenue since 2000. Here is what Pelosi actually said:

So, it is almost a false wrong [sic] to say we have a spending problem. We have a deficit problem that we have to address. Right now, we have low interest on the national debt and it’s a good time for us to act to lower the deficit.

Meanwhile, is the federal government “breaking records every year with the explosive growth of spending in every category”? Federal spending did spike in 2009 — because of the, you know, massive economic crisis — but has been falling steadily since.

Obama cut small business taxes 17 times. Income taxes are the lowest they’ve been since 1950. Scarborough does not actually exist. He is a morsel that has been completely consumed by the Village  Messaging Monster. It is 100% myth that low taxes are even related to job growth. The only mistake Democrats are making is buying into Austerity-Lite.

Rocky Mountain Clouds wallpaper – If Only Republicans Were as Good at Governing as They Are At Making Cowardly Threats

Rocky Mountain Clouds wallpaper

Rocky Mountain Clouds wallpaper

 

This from RollCall, which leans right-of-center – House GOP Leaders Consider Four-Year Debt Limit Deal – So this could be a true account of proposals in the pipe-line or not. Part of it, if true could be a way to signal the base to start getting used to the idea of compromise.

With the administration’s debt ceiling deadline fast approaching, House Republican leaders are considering a four-year debt limit increase that would take the issue off the table for the rest of President Barack Obama’s presidency.

The plan would, however, come at no easy price for Obama, who pledged as recently as Monday morning not to negotiate with Republicans on a debt ceiling hike. Republicans would demand major tax and entitlement changes — the latter of which has been anathema to many Democrats — and they could also ask for movement on the sequester and an expiring continuing resolution that must be dealt with in the next three months.

The idea was one of many brought up over Sunday and Monday, as Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and his leadership team and staff held a strategy session in Warrenton, Va.

“We have an opportunity to inject years of certainty while doing some fundamental tax reform and entitlement reform,” said Rep. Steve Southerland II of Florida, the sophomore class leadership representative, who was at the meeting.

In addition to the four-year plan, ideas for extending the debt ceiling ranged from a one- or two-year increase to one that would last only 30 or 60 days.

Still, the ultimate decision on which path to take will not be forged until the rank and file have their say at the full conference retreat, which starts Wednesday in Williamsburg, Va. It is a function of the decentralized power that Boehner holds: He sets the agenda, but it is up to his conference whether to accept it.

If President Obama sticks to his recent declarations – “They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy,” Mr. Obama vowed in the East Room.” That being the case, knowing that House Democrats especially are against any cuts in entitlements like Social Security and the Democratic base generally very opposed to such cuts, the 4 year deal sounds like it is dead before it starts. Many of these same Republicans, like Paul Ryan (R-WI) voted to bail out Wall Street and the auto makers, but now think grandpa and disabled children should pay for an anemic economy. Not that what I hope has much affect on the political decisions made in Democratic circles, much less conservatives ones, but at this point I somewhat hope that House Republicans in the tea bagger zone will carry through on their threats. I tend to think they will wuss out. If there is something cheaper in America than Republican opinion, it is Republican threats. While I wish it were not the case, but in many ways everyone is already gearing up, taking stock of the repercussions of their votes on a range of issues in anticipation of the 2014 mid-terms. Who knows, certainly Boehner (R-OH), who was there is 1996, is aware of the consequences should recalcitrant tea baggers decide to push the nation off the cliff. In 1996 Republicans shut down government

Clinton’s trump card was the veto. Under the Constitution, Congress must muster a two-thirds majority to overcome a presidential veto. So Gingrich had loudly proclaimed that he had a tool to confront the veto: the government shutdown.

“He can run the parts of the government that are left, or he can run no government,” Gingrich told Time magazine reporters six months before the first shutdown. “Which of the two of us do you think worries more about the government not showing up?”

That was the first mistake the Republicans made: They appeared to be too eager for a confrontation, while Clinton constantly emphasized he was willing to compromise within reason. Then Gingrich told reporters he stopped funding the government in part because Clinton made him exit from the rear of Air Force One when they returned from attending the funeral of slain Israeli leader Yitzhak Rabin. That comment just made Republicans appear petty.

In the end, after weeks of turmoil, the Republicans meekly gave up and eventually cut a deal with Clinton that was not much different than what they could have gotten before the shutdown.

Clinton used the episode as the springboard for his successful reelection campaign, and he humiliated Republicans for it during his 1996 State of the Union speech. He singled out for praise a man seated next to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton — Social Security Administration worker Richard Dean, who had survived the Oklahoma City bombing and rescued three people from the devastated Murrah Federal Building.

As Republicans stood and applauded Dean’s heroism, Clinton pulled out the knife, recounting how Dean was forced out of his office during the first shutdown and had to work without pay in the second one. “Never, ever, shut the federal government down again,” the president scolded.

After that, Clinton never lagged in the polls again.

Later in the 96 elections, Republicans lost 9 House seats. So please tea baggers don’t wuss out like you usually do. Go for it. As James Fellows wrote the other day the debt ceiling is not about new spending, it is about paying bills that conservatives and Democrats have already agreed to. It is Republicans who are using the debt ceiling as leverage to get unrelated concessions.

Remember the NRA said that guns don’t kill people, video games and movies kill people. As we all know if the NRA says it, it must be gospel. So why is the NRA and gun manufactures paying to have guns featured in video games for children. The age limit for one of these games is 4 years old.

14 Ways Obama Can Push Gun Control Without Congress. Forget the House of Representatives. Here’s what the White House can do right now.

1. Actually appoint a full-time ATF director: Most of the executive branch’s gun control powers require a functioning Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives—something that’s not possible without anyone to run it. The ATF hasn’t had a permanent director for six years, as a result of a deliberate reorganizing [3] shuffle that gave the Senate veto power over new appointees. Instead, it’s had a series of part-time directors. The current interim director, Todd Jones, commutes [4] to Washington from Minnesota, where he works as a US Attorney.

2. Actually prosecute people who try to buy guns illegally: Finally, some common ground. In the same press release in which it blasted the administration’s push for gun control, the NRA reiterated [5] its support for the “enforcement of existing laws against violent offenders to reduce crime.” It sounds straightforward, but it’s not what usually happens. In 2009, about 71,000 people who were legally prohibited from purchasing guns tried to obtain them anyway. Just 0.1 percent were prosecuted.

[  ]…4. Background checks for gun dealers’ employees: According to a survey by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, 74 percent [6] of NRA members support mandatory background checks for all gun purchases. But what about people who work for gun dealers? Federal law prohibits gun dealers from employing people who couldn’t pass a background check. But FBI regulations prohibit dealers from checking. The fix: Let the ATF process background check requests on the retailers’ behalf.

These are very basic legal restrictions that President Obama could put in place by way of executive order. One of the best is bringing back the Bush 43 importation of assault weapons like the one used at Sandy Hook. That MJ list includes 14 executive orders, in this report from the NYT they list 19. I’m not a fan of executive orders. They have become the toll by which the executive branch, regardless of president, has expanded executive powers for decades. Though as long as they’re a fact of life, might as well use them for good. Much like the debt ceiling wussies it would be great if this delusional conservative would follow through, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) threatened to file articles of impeachment if President Obama uses an executive order to try to reduce gun violence. Contrary to Stockman’s copy of the Constitution, the highly redacted version that conservatives have reduced to fit on a plastic sealed card they keep in their wallet, the president does have the right to make some non-legislative initiatives to deal with gun violence. We know this from history and a Republican president named Bush, Executive action on gun policy

Eric Boehlert highlighted over the weekend this story from 1989.

The Bush Administration declared a permanent ban today on almost all foreign-made semiautomatic assault rifles. Imports of the weapons have been suspended since spring.

    The permanent ban affects all but 7 of the 50 models included in the spring suspension. It does not affect the far larger number of virtually identical weapons manufactured domestically, nor does it affect foreign-made semiautomatic weapons already in the United States.

The fact that Bush/Quayle administration issued an executive order on guns, within its legal authority, did not mean the then-president had seized authoritarian power in a bloodless coup. The NRA didn’t like it, but Bush had the authority and he used it.

So can we stop pretending perfectly legal executive orders are evidence of creeping tyranny?

Like the examples in Sunday’s post, conservative paranoia is a profit-making machine. Sure it is bad for the country, but it is good to fatten some far Right bank accounts, Klayman Prepares for Armed Revolt; Barber Predicts ‘Second Civil War’

Judicial Watch founder Larry Klayman is once again calling for a revolution in his WorldNetDaily column, telling readers to “pray that Obama and Biden and the likes of Pelosi and Reid are so stupid as to carry through with their threats, so that the masses will finally be provoked to rise up as they did in colonial times.”

He called Vice President Biden’s gun task force recommendations, which haven’t even been released yet, “a declaration of war against the American people and our way of life” and hopes they “will in the end serve to be their own undoing and result in our liberation from their evil clutches.”

[  ]…The always-amusing Matt Barber of Liberty Counsel even predicted a “second civil war” under Obama, and asserted that liberals celebrate school shootings and argued that the National Education Association is to blame for the Sandy Hook massacre.

They could call themselves the Cowardly Keyboard Brigade. They’ve been making these threats about a new Civil War for years. Guess how Barber has made living, as public employee and as a soldier. That govmint he hates so much has paid for his housing, groceries and health care for years. An armed revolt is exactly what he and his wussie brethren need to do so the tax payers don’t have to support him anymore. Klayman and Barber can’t handle the truth about the sensible moderate regulations that are being proposed, that is why they lie so much, Nine Conservative Media Myths About Proposals To Strengthen Gun Laws.

Speaking of honest work, Indiana GOP Lets Glenn Beck Set Legislative Agenda: Introduces Bill To Fight U.N. Conspiracy Theory

You’d be forgiven for having not heard of Agenda 21. Developed at a summit in Brazil in 1992 with support from President George H.W. Bush, Agenda 21 is a series of non-binding UN recommendations for ensuring that economic growth does not undermine the environment. The agreement aims to encourage “international cooperation to accelerate sustainable development in developing countries” through voluntary actions by UN member-states. You can read the full, innocuous text here.

But right-wing Republicans have somehow come to believe that Agenda 21 contains a secret, nefarious plot to destroy American life and society as we know it, birthing a cottage industry devoted to spreading misinformation about the UN proposal. The most recent evidence of this movement’s reach is a proposal by two Indiana lawmakers to ban the implementation of any Agenda 21-inspired initiatives in the state. The Republican state legislators, Rep. Tim Neese and Sen. Dennis Kruse, proposed laws prohibiting the implementation of Agenda-21 inside Indiana. Neese worried that the document — which has no legal power to reshape American law — was a “mandate” that threatened his freedom:

Glenn Beck Agenda 21

More along these lines here, The Return Of Right-Wing Pro-Gun Insurrectionism (This Time Featuring Hitler). Glenn beck is worth well into the tens of millions. If he started making arguments based n facts and reality he’d have to settle for his current fortune or get a real job, doing real work. That thought probably keeps him awake at night; what if there is some kind of miracle, a national epiphany of reality based thinking, oh the horror.

Winter at Eagle River wallpaper – Republicans Stunned at Specter of Economic Reality

Winter at Eagle River wallpaper

Winter at Eagle River wallpaper

 

The humiliation of John Boehner. He’s powerless, and his own party continues to make him look like a fool. Maybe he’ll just walk away. I’m not saying that Boehner has not been humiliated, it is just that the conservative threshold for humiliation is more distorted than your average main Street American. This past group of Republicans presidential candidates was a clown car of conservatism. It was remarkably similar to the conservative clown car of candidates in 2008. If you do a Google search for the term conservative clown car you’re get a lot of results from conservative clown blogs. Only their beef was not that these Republicans were not too wacky, it was they were not radical enough. Maybe not your next door neighbor conservatives who really buys into the plastic patriotism sold by Limbaugh and Coulter, but the movement conservatives who run the Republican Partay have made it their goal to destroy everything associated with the New Deal and The Great Society ( Medicare, public education, food assistance, regulating toxic waste, civil rights) for over forty years. People like that do have possess the sense of shame necessary to feel humiliated. The biggest current proof of that is that no Republican faction in the House is calling for Boehner to resign or clamoring for the Speaker position for themselves.

Exactly where Plan B fit into Boehner’s overall strategy was a matter of some debate, but he pressed hard for it and confidently predicted he had the 218 votes needed to pass it. So now we know that not only does Boehner not have sufficient support among Republicans to pass a potential compromise with Obama, he also doesn’t have the support to pass his own plan.

It’s tough to be mindless zealot. The Republican plan has always been to oppose anything Democrats are for. If Democrats liked puppies, Republicans were against puppies. Now they have to change gears or all of the Bush/Obama tax rates return to their 1990s level. In order to stop that they have to agree to a compromise. Compromise or raise everyone’s taxes? The Republican reaction is to act like lab arts running into a maze wall. They just can’t turn away from the wall. They have always run into the wall and always gotten most of what they wanted. So the humiliation is just a side show. They’re dazed and confused that their usual conservative agenda first, America last mentality, is not working. Digby and Matthew Yglesias join in the call for going over the cliff. I hope the President is listening. It would be the best possible outcome for the country and it might just snap conservatives out of their standing coma.

Construction at the moveable dam Chippewa County, Michigan, 1901-02

Lake Superior Power Company, construction at the moveable dam Chippewa County, Michigan, 1901-02. These are the type of American workers Republicans call “terrorists”. Fair wages? Taking breaks to get warm and have some coffee? That’s just Marxist commie statist thinking.

 Wisconsin’s Scott Walker(R) Trusts Teachers with Guns, But Not Collective Bargaining

Giving guns to teachers should be “part of the discussion,” he said [3] on December 19. Walker refused to endorse an assault weapons ban or other limits on the types of guns or ammunition that can be sold.

Teachers Need Guns, Not Unions?

Walker’s infamous Act 10 legislation drastically curtailed the collective bargaining rights of most public employees in the state, prompting months of historic protests and a recall effort. The governor justified the harsh legislation — which he never mentioned during the campaign that installed him in office — largely by demonizing unionized teachers [4] as overpaid and underperforming.

The six teachers killed in the Newtown massacre, all members of an American Federation of Teachers (AFT) union chapter, have been widely praised [5] for their heroism, with many shot while trying to shield their students.

According to polls most Americans want some modest reasonable gun control. Not to take away the gun you keep in the bed side table in case of a home invasion, but like bringing back the assault weapons ban Bush 41 signed into law. While conservatives have extraordinary skills when it comes to twisting themselves into irrational knots, they are truly out doing themselves over even talk of modest regulations, NRA Blames Everything Except Guns: Outdated Video Games, Hurricanes, And Corporate Media Led To Newtown

In a news conference repeatedly interrupted by protesters blaming the NRA for “killing our kids,” LaPierre shoveled out blame far and wide, going after reporters for glorifying killers like Adam Lanza, violent movies, video games, and music videos. He tore into gun safety advocates for exploiting the tragedy for “political gain,” targeted President Obama for underfunding police initiatives in schools, and said that the media demonized “local gun owners” and spread “misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action and all but guarantee that the next violence is a new cycle away.” “Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of man-made disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization,” he said.

Only gun owners and gun lobbyists — who have spent years easing gun regulations across the country — were spared any responsibility.

Guns do not kill people but video games do. Some liberals will jump on the violent culture bandwagon, but there has never been any proof that adults who watch violent movies and play action oriented games are prone to commit violent acts. And obviously an animate object cannot make anyone do anything, but where there are guns readily available the homicide rate goes up. I cannot find the link now, but one pundit said that this is going to take time. We as a nation have escalated gun possession and gun use as a a way to deal with problems over the last few decades. A little like nuclear arms escalation staring in the 1950s it will take a while for the paranoia and the personal firearms race to trend backwards. On the same day that Waynie Boy made his pathetic speech, 4 dead in Blair Co. shooting; 3 troopers injured. According to Wayne and every other conservative on the net, if everyone was armed we’d all be safe. Than why do armed people keep attacking armed law enforcement officers.

Conservatives frequently live in this bubble of the evils of modernity. An ideological trait they share with fundamentalist Muslims. While only a history buff, from my reading people did not start murdering people with the invention of TV, movies, video games, the contraceptive pill, slick glossy magazines, women’s suffrage or the internet. Humanity has always had a tendency towards violence, semi-automatic weapons just make that tendency easier.

Top Conservative Cat @TeaPartyCat

Per the NRA, Florida GOP to expand Stand Your Ground to allow “shooting anyone who you think may have been exposed to harmful video games.”

These are some Tweets from Republican David Frum. Not even Frum can buy into the twisted logic that putting an armed person everywhere will stop gun murders,

We need a federal agent at every cancer hospital http://www.wlwt.com/Cancer-Patient-Shot-On-University-Hospital-Campus/-/9838586/10427550/-/t6q0ep/-/index.html
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1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every marriage proposal http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/22/robert-allen-kleman-fired_n_906873.html
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1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every gun range. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vPnMbLr5nc
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1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every teen birthday party http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/Shooting-At-Texas-Teens-Birthday-Party-Leaves-One-Dead-182667771.html

We need a federal agent at every country & western concert http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/11366575/
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1h davidfrum davidfrum ?@davidfrum

We need a federal agent at every Hallowe’en party http://article.wn.com

Workers clearing snow in Washington D.C. between 1909 and 1920

Workers clearing snow in Washington D.C. between 1909 and 1920. This is another example of the kind of Americans that Michelle Malkin, Scott Walker the Koch brothers and Republican bloggers call thugs.

This a great column and I generally don’t like end of the year lists. Just a few highlights, The 50 Worst Columns of 2012

George Will in The Washington Post on why voting for a black President is racist To many, Barack Obama’s election back in 2008 was a sign of progress on racial equality. But the way George Will sees it, MLK’s dream will come true only when voters feel empowered to reject black candidates. “The nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure—thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him—seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president,” Will writes, urging voters to take a stand for diversity by voting a black guy out of office and a white guy in.

[  ]…Megan McArdle at The Daily Beast on teaching kids to run toward the shooter There was little anyone could do to make sense of last week’s tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. But Megan McArdle—desperate to draw any lesson from the senselessness, no matter how crazy—made this horrifying, counter-intuitive suggestion: “If we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.” Nope. We’re not even going to try to snark on this. Just … dear god. You too, Charlotte Allen. What the hell.

[  ]…Ross Douthat in The New York Times on babies Hey, women, did you know that if you’re not in labor right now you’re literally destroying America? And, men, every time you use a condom you’re pounding one more nail into the coffin of the American dream. Considering the declining birth rate in the U.S., Ross Douthat is disgusted by “a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.” Sacrifices like doing the deed before birth control existed.

[   ]…Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review on Susan Rice It’s a great time to be a black woman, argues a white man named Victor Davis Hanson. “In the nexus of elite universities and Democratic politics,” Hanson writes about the Susan Rice confirmation holdup, “being black, female, and elite is far more advantageous that being white, male, and poor.” Right. Because we have so few white guys in politics, while the number of black female Senators can be counted on no hands.

This is not what Hanson means, but there is something to be said for the forgotten working poor white males. They are the forgotten minority. Conservative encourage and exploit what they perceive as their decline. These white males are treading water, not because of conservative trade and economic policies have kept them struggling and near powerless, but because….. evil liberals… progressives…women….unions. So they cling to the Glenn Beck conspiracy theories about the UN and commie around every corner, and have nightmares about someone buying candy bars with food stamps rather than see the reality about who is really giving them the shaft.