Red Lighthouse Storm Clouds wallpaper – The Real Nanny State is Run By The Greedy For The Benefit of Unpatriotic Plutocrats

Red Lighthouse Storm Clouds wallpaper

I read some time ago that NYT columnist make at least six figure salaries. Seeing that whether people agree with them or not Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd drive a lot of traffic to their site, they probably are above the columnist minimum. Even at the rock bottom of six figures that still leaves us with what is clearly pity or charity pay for Ross Douthat. By way of here – Don’t Eliminate the Link between Social Security Contributions and Benefits – Douthat writes,

But now Washington is in danger of practicing payroll-tax bipartisanship of a more destructive sort. While the White House and Congressional Republicans wrestle over where to set income tax rates and how and whether to cut spending, the payroll tax holiday has been orphaned. Lacking noisy champions and press attention, it’s in danger of expiring at the end of the year out of political indifference.

That outcome would be unfortunate. Payroll taxes are a relic of New Deal Machiavellianism: by taking a bite of every worker’s paycheck and promising postretirement returns, Franklin Roosevelt effectively disguised Social Security as a pay-as-you-go system, even though the program actually redistributes from rich to poor and young to old. That disguise has helped keep Social Security sacrosanct — hailed by Democrats because it protects the poor and backed by Republicans as a reward for steady work.

Payroll taxes for Social Security are there to assure the people that they have paid into an insurance or entitlement program – thus are entitled to benefits. FDR was very clever to do so. By disconnecting entitlement programs from general revenues Americans would see those benefits as insurance, which indeed they are – Social Security keeps millions of people out of poverty and allows millions more a life of dignity and relative comfort in their retirement years. Social Security was motivated by the Great Depression and the mature grown-ups admitting that our economic system has innate structural issues and by no fault of their own, many Americans can work hard all their lives and end up with nothing because of some knuckleheads on Wall Street and on the broads of America’s largest corporations – our shadow government. As the Economist View notes detaching Social Security or Medicare from their own unique funding will mean the end of those programs, which is just what social-Darwinist plutocrats like Douthat want – not for any practical reason, only for reason of blind zealotry.

Ross Douthat Argues that Social Security Would be Easier to Cut If It Were Changed from a Social Insurance Program to a Welfare Program, by Dean Baker: Ross Douthat argues convincingly that if we eliminated the link between contributions and benefits it would be much easier politically to cut Social Security. Of course he thinks ending the link would be a good idea for that reason, but his logic is certainly on the mark, people will more strongly protect benefits that they feel they have earned. …

The payroll tax certainly can cover the program’s expenses. In fact, had it not been for the upward redistribution of income over the last three decades, which nearly doubled the share of wage income going over the cap on taxable income, the projected 75-year shortfall would be about half of its current level.

Even with the current projected shortfall, if ordinary workers shared in projected productivity growth over the next three decades, a tax increase equal to 6 percent of their wage growth over this period would be sufficient to make the program fully solvent. The problem is clearly the policies that led to the upward redistribution of income…, not Social Security.

It is worth pointing out that when Douthat proposes “means-testing for wealthier beneficiaries,” his notion of wealthy means school teachers and firefighters, not Bill Gates and Mitt Romney. …

Douthat is so typical of the wild-eyed ideology of the far Right. They have no answers. They simply believe. They believe in dog-eat-dog social-Darwinist ideology of laissez -faire economics. If you don’t claw your way to a sizable savings for your retirement just go begging to the back door of your local church or die. If the part about wishing people dead sounds like hyperbole – a reminder of the conservative mind-set. The kind of pure and nightmarish capitalism that Douthat and other conservatives believe in does not provide for the elderly, the disabled or children. We all know the talking points since they have been beamed into every America’s head since birth – all of this helping people stuff should be voluntary and private. The first charity hospital for children was founded by Ben Franklin and used partly public funding from the Pennsylvania legislature. So we have never been a country that had a pure than pure laissez -faire attitude towards those American who do not get paid six figures in charity from the NYT to write pure hackery.

Dean baker makes an excellent point about how busy we have been redistributing the capital produced by labor to the top 10%. Since unions have been demonized as Marxist thugs and fair wages, a living wage, is devil talk, the average American workers is earning less than their fair share. That means they contribute less to entitlement insurance like Medicare and Social Security. Why Raises For Walmart Workers Are Good For Everyone

Chances are you missed this particular bargain on Black Friday: Agree to spend 15 cents more on every shopping trip, and Walmart, Target, and other large retailers will agree to pay their workers at least $25,000 a year.

Big box retailers aren’t actually offering that deal, but a new study by the liberal think tank Demos argues that it would be a great bargain for us all if they did. Increasing the average wage at large retailers from $21,000 to $25,000 would probably cost you less than $20 a year at the register yet lift some 1.5 million people out of poverty (including your cashier), create 100,000 new jobs, and boost GDP by some $13.5 billion.

Demos argues that retailers would benefit, despite higher labor costs, because their low-wage employees could suddenly afford to buy more of the basic necessities that they scan and load into plastic bags every day.

If you are still wondering what’s in it for you, however, then consider this tidbit from Sasha Abramsky:

In 2004, a year in which Walmart reported $9.1 billion in profits, the retailer’s California employees collected $86 million in public assistance, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley. Other studies have revealed widespread use of publicly funded health care by Walmart employees in numerous states. In 2004, Democratic staffers of the House education and workforce committee calculated that each 200-employee Walmart store costs taxpayers an average of more than $400,000 a year, based on entitlements ranging from energy-assistance grants to Medicaid to food stamps to WIC—the federal program that provides food to low-income women with children.

The economic challenges facing America and labor are framed as everyone being either lucky stiff because the Walton family was good enough to bestow a job on you, even if you cannot live on what they pay. The truth is just the opposite. The Waltons, the Romneys. the Kochs, the Sheldon Adelsons, The Papa Johns are all leaching off the labor of the American workers. The six heirs to the Walmart fortune ( the Walton’s own Walmart, Walgreens and Sam’s Clubs among other business interests) are worth $115 billion dollars. They owe part of their fortune to the ridiculously low tax rates on capital gains. The other part comes from taking the pie and leaving workers – the people who did the actual work of creating their fortune – the crumbs. Every single person on Fortune’s most wealthy people in America list are thieves. They’re entitled to a healthy share of their profits, but not to the kind of massive unearned wealth they have accumulated on the backs of people making $8 to $20 an hour. It would be great f this was just a simple argument about rights and wrongs, fair and unfair. It is those things, but it is also about average folks versus people who have a deranged sense of entitlement to unearned wealth, Fiorina: ‘It is not fair’ that public workers are ‘so rich’

Carly Fiorina, who reportedly stood to receive more than $42 million after being ousted at HP in 2005, says that public workers should receive less benefits because “it is not fair” that unions are “so rich.”

During a Sunday panel segment on NBC, MSNBC host Al Sharpton asserted that Congress must agree to raise taxes on the wealthy before cutting spending.

“This is about fairness,” he explained. “Why do we need to need to deal with the tax on the rich first? Because we must ensure Americans we are dealing with fairness. We keep talking about shared sacrifice, there was not shared wealth and shared prosperity. So, you’re asking people that didn’t enjoy the good times to share in paying for the tab that they never enjoyed.”

“Let us accept Rev. Al’s point and the president’s point about fairness,” Fiorina replied. “But equally, it is not fair that public employee union pensions and benefits are so rich now that cities and states are going bankrupt and college tuition is going up 25 and 30 percent or police and firefighters are being cut. There’s a lot that isn’t fair right now.”

During Fiorina tenure as the CEO of HP, at least 18,000 workers were laid off after the company’s disastrous merger with Compaq.

Fiorina failed. She lost millions. By the rules of her own conservatism she should have been out on the street looking for a job. She left HP with a golden parachute of $20 million. She could live to be 300 years old and never earn that kind of money. There are people smarter than her teaching calculus or programming at your local community college. Part of our economy is attached at the hip to a work hard just to survive capitalist system and the other part is connected to a welfare nanny state for the ruling plutocrats like Fiorina whose hobbies include whining about how much teachers and firefighters make. Like Romney, Fiorina was born into the upper middle-class. Privileged, and like Old World royalty they think they the elite who deserve everything they siphoned off the hard work of others.

WW II Poster Loose Talk Costs Lives – To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is to play with mighty fires

Keep mum Loose talk costs lives. WW II poster, Works Projects Administration Art Project, [between 1941 and 1943]. “Poster suggesting careless communication may be harmful to the war effort, showing a train blowing up.”

I was going to post that great poster anyway, it just happens to be appropriate for the WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin’s public breakdown. YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN PETARD, RIGHT-WINGERS

This is a full-blown scandal…. The scandal has now enveloped the Oval Office and will define his second term, if not resolved satisfactorily.

I’ll go as far as conceding that the Conservative Book of Blow-up Dolls Version of History will forever contain a chapter in which the Republican history of Benghazi looks nothing like the reality. Even Conservative Republican Nitwit Peter King (R-NY)  Admits CIA Approved U.N. Ambassador’s Talking Points On Libya.

After leaving the closed-door hearing, King spoke with reporters for several minutes about Petraeus’ statements. Rice’s television appearances were among the topics discussed, leading King to indicate that while Petraeus did not personally write Rice’s talking points, the CIA did approve them:

Q: Did he say why it was taken out of the talking points that [the attack] was Al Qaeda affiliated?

KING: He didn’t know.

Q: He didn’t know? What do you mean he didn’t know?

KING: They were not involved — it was done, the process was completed and they said, “Ok go with those talking points.” Again it’s interagency — I got the impression that 7, 8, 9 different agencies.

Q: Did he give you the impression that he was upset it was taken out?

KING: No.

Q: You said the CIA said “OK” to the revised report –

KING: No, well, they said in that, after it goes through the process, they OK’d it to go. Yeah, they said “Okay for it to go.”

Rice has been hit by Republicans for weeks for indicating that the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi stemmed from a spontaneous protest related to an anti-Islamic video. However, as Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) has pointed out, the talking points used by Rice were the same unclassified points given to both the administration and Congress by the intelligence community.

So Rubin the conservative circle of derangement has decided that they’ll keep the “scandal’ going by jumping up and own, feigning outrage and pointing fingers, to hell with any substantive arguments. The Mind-blowing Hypocrisy of John McCain(R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC): WMD Lie is Good, Repeating Intelligence is Bad. If the politics and the repercussions operated the way physics operates, cause and consequences, McCain and Graham would have been forced to find honest work years ago. Though Republican voters, like Republican politicians have a fetish about rewarding failure. Mccain has proven over and over again that shooting first and aiming later is his standard operating procedure. The television networks seem to agree since I cannot turn on the TV without seeing the media get McCain’s must have opinion. he is a stellar example of the hypocrisy of conservatives who think government should operate like the private sector. If someone as consistently and repeatedly as incompetent as Mccain worked for me, yes I would have taken great satisfaction in firing him. Remember when he wanted to declare war on Russia and the conservative punditry backed him up, McCain: Georgia conflict is the ‘first serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.’

Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Colorado yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that recent Russian aggression in Georgia is the “first…serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War.” McCain seemingly ignored the Gulf War, 9/11, and the Iraq War, to name a few:

My friends, we have reached a crisis, the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War. This is an act of aggression.

Watch it:

In July, McCain said Iraq was the “first major conflict since 9/11,” leaving out Afghanistan.

McCain famously declared, ‘Today We Are All Georgians‘ . That empty saber rattling did not help Georgia. In the mean time how many economic or other sanctions against Russia has McCain voted for or sponsored. Zero.

President told within 72 hours Benghazi attack linked to al-Qaida extremists

Based on electronic intercepts and human intelligence on the ground, the early briefings after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya identified possible organizers and participants. Most were believed to be from a local Libyan militia group called Ansar al-Sharia that is sympathetic to al-Qaida, the official said, while a handful of others was linked to a direct al-Qaida affiliate in North Africa known as AQIM.

Those briefings also raised the possibility that the attackers may have been inspired both by spontaneous protests across the globe on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and by a desire to seek vengeance for the U.S. killing last summer of a Libyan-born leader of al-Qaida named Abu Yaya al-Libi, the officials said, speaking only on condition of anonymity because they were discussing intelligence matters.

The details from the CIA and Pentagon assessments of the killing of Ambassador Chris Stephens were far more specific, more detailed and more current than the unclassified talking points that UN Ambassador Susan Rice and other officials used five days after the attack to suggest to Americans that an unruly mob angry over an anti-Islamic video was to blame, officials said.

Most of the details affirming al-Qaida links were edited or excluded from the unclassified talking points used by Rice in appearances on news programs the weekend after the attack, officials confirmed Friday. Multiple agencies were involved in excising information, doing so because it revealed sources and methods, dealt with classified intercepts or involved information that was not yet fully confirmed, the officials said.

“There were multiple agencies involved, not for political reasons, but because of intelligence concerns,” one official explained.

So just like they thought nothing of revealing the identity of a CIA NOC agent who specialized in WMDs, conservatives think it is right to expose overseas intelligence to terrorists. Maybe we should have an full on 9-11 like hearing and call up some conservative pundits to testify.

Boardwalk and fishing pier, Asbury Park, N.J. Published: between 1900 and 1906. Difficult to see in the small pic, but apparently the pier was integrated at the time.

This is a bend over backwards attempt to be fair, Who’s to Blame for the Hostess Bankruptcy: Wall Street, Unions, or Carbs? It does mention that Hostess did not have the brightest executive management in the world. Who were determined to milk the company for as much as they could regardless of how it affected the company’s chances of surviving. Hostess Blames Union For Bankruptcy After Tripling CEO’s Pay. We live in an economy and culture where failure is rewarded with 300% raises.

African American men and boys, three-quarter length portrait, dressed for church, 1899 or 1900. The photographer is unknown, but this photo among hundreds of others became part of W. E. B.  Du Bois (February 23, 1868 – August 27, 1963. The African-American sociologist, historian and civil rights activist) collection. “To stimulate wildly weak and untrained minds is to play with mighty fires.” W. E. B. Du Bois

Why do conservative Republicans hate the USA, American Family Association’s Fischer says 9/11 terrorists were ‘agents of God’s wrath’

The religious far-right, ladies and gentlemen. Or as we call them, the American Taliban:

As he traditionally does at the beginning of every radio program, Bryan Fischer dedicated the opening segment yesterday to a reading and discussion from the Bible. In this case, he was reading from Isaiah 10 in which the prophet explains that God had sent the Assyrians to invade Israel as judgment, which prompted Fischer to declare that the same  thing happened to America as “the jihadists on 9/11 were the agents of God’s wrath in order to get our attention as a people.”

I’m trying to imagine the reaction if any non-far-right figure suggested the 9/11 attackers were just doing God’s work. Think they’d be burnt at the stake?

Fischer and so many other conservatives seem to have a special pipeline to hearing God’s literal voice. I wonder if they started recording those conversations, the voices we hear wouldn’t sound just like the person making these horrendously self serving and sacrilegious statements.

I’m have not been a feckless cheerleader about it, but I have told people who have asked that the best way to get ahead is to get as much education as possible ( formal education, training, other learning opportunities) and work hard. Knowing that while that advice will not steer people wrong, it has increasing become a false promise, Walmart’s Internal Compensation Documents Reveal Systematic Limit On Advancement

Two years ago, when she started working at the deli counter of a Walmart in Illinois, Lisa hoped that her job would amount to the beginning of a career, one that would pay enough to cover her bills and enable her to stay current on her student loan debt.

But despite one raise since, Lisa, who asked that only her first name be used, now earns just $9.10 an hour, or about $13,000 a year on part-time hours. Seven months pregnant, she recently filed for bankruptcy. With no alternatives at hand, Walmart now seems like a dead-end to poverty, she says.

“I don’t have underwear without holes in them,” she said. “Everyone at work wears T-shirts that are threadbare. I have just enough to eat and get gas to make it to work for the next two weeks.”

Lisa’s experience sheds light on why a group claiming to represent tens of thousands of Walmart workers nationwide is planning strikes and other labor actions at as many as 1,000 stores next week on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The actions are intended to protest what the group says are meager wages.

The company website declares that “a job at Walmart opens the door to a better life” and “the chance to grow and build a career.” But interviews with 31 hourly workers and one former store manager reveal lives beset by paychecks too small to handle the bills, difficult to manage part-time schedules with hours subject to constant change, and little reason to hope for career advancement. Citing fear of losing their jobs, most spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The employees and many of their customers who are not making great wages are what makes Wal-Mart such a wealthy corporations. yet they too suffer from a severe disconnect with the context in which they accumulate that wealth, Walmart Heirs Have As Much Wealth As Bottom 40 Percent Of Americans Combined. Another way to look at it is that the Waltons pay themselves more there the combined salaries of all their employees.