Saturday, July 30, 2011

How Does Obama Compare - Debt Ceiling History

Even After Proposed Hike, Reagan Increased Debt Ceiling Twice As Fast As Obama

Despite recent rhetoric from GOP lawmakers, Republican presidents have raised the statutory limit on U.S. debt by a much greater percentage than either of the two Democrats elected since 1981. According an analysis of historical data compiled on the statutory limit by the Office of Management and Budget, former President Ronald Reagan outstrips all other executives to date, increasing the debt ceiling by 199.5 percent during his eight years in office. He is followed by President George W. Bush, Jr. at a 90.2 percent increase over eight years and by President George H. Bush, Sr. at a 48.0 percent increase over only four years in office.

Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, on the other hand, have only raised the debt ceiling by 43.6 and 26.3 percent, respectively. It remains to be seen whether or not Congress will reach a compromise and pass legislation to increase the statutory limit again by the Aug. 2 deadline issued by the U.S. Treasury. Even if Congress does pass the proposed $2.4-trillion increase, Obama will still be looking at a total increase of 47.5 percent over his first term — less than half of the increase that Reagan oversaw during his first four years. See the OMB’s historical figures charted: see chart above.

More at this link - Infographic: Obama Bends Over Backwards for Conservatives on Debt CeilingSide-by-Side Comparison of Plans Shows President Is Willing to Compromise 

And no, President Obama is not spending like crazy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Voting is The Crown Jewel of American Democracy. No Wonder Republicans Are Attacking That Fundamental Right

Voting is The Crown Jewel of American Democracy. No Wonder Republicans Are Attacking That Fundamental Right

With only a week left before the United States of America could default on its debt, it’s easy to look at the federal government and wonder how we ever made it this far. Who would have guessed that a committed gang of extremists could bring down the economy? And yet, that’s where we find ourselves today, cornered by a manufactured crisis and running out of time. As Larry Sabato rightly tweeted over the weekend, “For anybody who teaches the American system and believes in it, this has been an extremely discouraging week.”

Unfortunately, the assault on our democracy is not confined to Congress or the standoff over the debt ceiling. It is also seeping into the states, where voting rights — the fundamental underpinning of any democracy — are being curbed and crippled.

In states across the country, Republican legislatures are pushing through laws that make it more difficult for Americans to vote. The most popular include new laws requiring voters to bring official identification to the polls. Estimates suggest that more than 1 in 10 Americans lack an eligible form of ID, and thus would be turned away at their polling location. Most are minorities and young people, the most loyal constituencies of the Democratic Party.

There are only two explanations for such action: Either Republican governors and state legislators are genuinely trying to protect the public from rampant voter fraud, or they are trying to disenfranchise the Americans most likely to vote against them. The latter would run so egregiously counter to democratic values — to American values — that one hopes the former was the motivation.

And yet, a close examination finds that voter fraud, in truth, is essentially nonexistent. A report from the Brennan Center for Justice found the incidence of voter fraud at rates such as 0.0003 percent in Missouri and 0.000009 percent in New York. “Voter impersonation is an illusion,” said Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center. “It almost never happens, and when it does, it is in numbers far too small to effect the outcome of even a close election.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) disagrees. He argues that voter fraud is a serious problem that requires serious action. But as proof, Kobach cites just “221 incidents of voter fraud” in Kansas since 1997, for an average of just 17 a year. As a Bloomberg editorial points out, “During that same period, Kansans cast more than 10 million votes in 16 statewide elections. Even if the fraud allegation were legitimate .?.?. the rate of fraud would be miniscule.”

The facts, however clear, did not deter the Kansas legislature from passing one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country. Neither have they deterred other states that have passed such laws this year, or dozens of others considering similar action.

That’s because the facts of voter fraud are, in reality, wholly irrelevant to the Republican push for stricter laws. Republicans aren’t concerned with preventing a problem that isn’t occurring. They are concerned with preserving their party’s position in power, and they are willing to disenfranchise millions of people to do so. No other explanation could possibly pass the smell test.

This is seen, as well, in the fact that a number of new restrictive voting policies wouldn’t prevent voter fraud, even if it were occurring. In Ohio, for example, a recently signed law to curb early voting won’t prevent voter impersonation; it will only make it more difficult for citizens to cast their ballot. Or take Florida’s new voter registration law, which is so burdensome that the non-partisan League of Women Voters is pulling out of Florida entirely, convinced that it cannot possibly register voters without facing legal liability. Volunteers would need to have “a secretary on one hand and a lawyer on the other hand as they registered voters,” said Deirdre MacNabb, president of the Florida League of Women Voters.

What’s worse is that these aren’t a series of independent actions being coincidentally taken throughout the country. This is very much a coordinated effort. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a corporate-funded organization that works with state legislators to draft model legislation. According to The Nation’s John Nichols, “Enacting burdensome photo ID or proof of citizenship requirements has long been an ALEC priority.” It’s not surprise then, that the Wisconsin state legislator who pushed for one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation is also ALEC’s Wisconsin chair.

I asked Alexander Keyssar, one of the country’s premier voting rights scholars, for some historical context. When was the last time an effort of this nature was so central to the agenda of an American political party? “What is so striking about the wave of legislation for ID laws is that we are witnessing for the first time in more than a century, a concerted, multi-state effort to make it more difficult for people to exercise their democratic rights,” he said. Keyssar, author of “The Right to Vote,” noted that “it is very reminiscent of what occurred in the North between 1875 and 1910 — the era of Jim Crow in the South — when a host of procedural obstacles were put in the way of immigrants trying to vote.”

Even in the face of such overwhelming evidence, there are still conservatives who audaciously claim that these restrictive laws are not intended to shrink the electorate. Defenders point to the fact that, in addition to young people and minorities, the elderly, who tend to vote for Republicans, are among the groups likely to lack an ID. True. But rather than exonerate Republicans, this information is even more damning. Take Texas for example: This year Texas passed a voter ID law, but wrote in a provision that explicitly exempts the elderly from complying with the law. The law also considers a concealed handgun license as an acceptable form of ID, but a university ID as insufficient.

That there is still a party in American politics willing to use disenfranchisement as a political tactic is gut-wrenching. Today, 46 years after President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act, it must be the job of the American people to fight back against the forces that are disfiguring their nation on behalf of their party. Our dignity and the destiny of our democracy depends on it.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is an editor at The Nation.
Depending on how old you are elections of the past 25 years have frequently been close - not 10 or 15 votes close but sometimes just a few hundred votes. Conservatives know that keeping a few thousand students from the polls would make the difference between losing or just squeaking by in some elections. Actual voter fraud is rare. We should only be passing laws that address real problems not making it harder for so many Americans to participate in democracy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Question Conservatives Can't Answer - Why Working Hard in America No Longer Pays, Welcome to Corrupted Capitalism

The Question Republicans Can't Answer - Why Working Hard in America No Longer Pays, Welcome to the Land of Corrupted Capitalism

The following fact was sent to numerous conservative pundits, politicians, and profitseekers:

    Based on Tax Foundation figures, the richest 1% has TRIPLED its share of America's income over the past 30 years. Much of the gain came from tax cuts and minimally taxed financial instruments. If their income had increased only at the pace of American productivity (80%), they would be taking about a TRILLION DOLLARS LESS out of our economy.

And a question was posed:

    In what way do the richest 1% deserve these extraordinary gains?

This question was not posed in sarcasm. A factual answer is genuinely sought. It seems unlikely that 1% of the population worked three times harder than the rest of us, or contributed three times as much to American productivity. Money earned from tax cuts and minimally taxed financial instruments is not productive income. And while some big earners have developed innovative ideas and leading-edge businesses, it seems fair to say that taxpayer-funded research at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (the Internet), the National Institute of Health (pharmaceuticals), and the National Science Foundation (the Digital Library Initiative) has laid a half-century foundation for their idea-building.

So I asked anyone out there to explain, defend, or justify the fact that over 20% of our country's income (it was 7% in 1980) now goes to the richest 1% of Americans.

Very few responses were forthcoming. To his credit, renowned economist and writer Thomas Sowell took the time to respond. Unfortunately, his response relied upon classical economic theory: "Most people are paid voluntarily by others to whom they supply goods and/or services, and only to the extent that others value what is supplied enough to part with their own hard cash."

Mr. Sowell is also a believer in economic mobility, claiming that people often move from one earnings quintile to another over time. While there's some truth in this, Treasury Department figures show that nearly 9 out of 10 of those in the top 1% remained in the top quintile of earners over a ten year period.

A few other conservatives responded to my question, with varying degrees of coherence in their arguments. Reference was made to the "Pareto Efficiency," a situation in which an allocation of resources makes at least one individual better off without making any other individual worse off: the result is said to be a net improvement overall. But this does not address the resulting contribution to inequality, which is the main point.

Another respondent claimed: "What we found is that the rich did get richer over the last 30 years, but so did the middle class, the working class and the poorest."

But based on 1980 dollars and IRS data, this is how U.S. income has been redistributed since that time:

    Incomes for the top 1% have gone from $148,000 to $450,000
    Incomes for the next 9% have gone from $46,000 to $50,000
    Incomes for the next 40% have gone from $17,500 to $15,000
    Incomes for the bottom 50% have gone from $5,400 to $3,750

As it stands, the question remains unanswered. Maybe if we offer a prize...?

The very rich take the money of other rich people and use hedge funds to create vast wealth. Other wealthy Americans take a huge share of the value added to products and services by cheap labor to make far more money than any work or intellectual value they added. The first, but especially the second way of keeping wealth and making even more from the mere fact of being wealthy, is a kind of pimpdom. The very wealthy have become pimps who live off the work of others. How fair is it that of all the capital created by labor that the pimps take 75%. It is certainly not the kind of free market society that Republicans say we live in. It is a severely corrupted capitalism that punishes work and rewards wealth.

The chart above is related to this article - How the Deficit Got This Big 

Despite what antigovernment conservatives say, non-defense discretionary spending on areas like foreign aid, education and food safety was not a driving factor in creating the deficits. In fact, such spending, accounting for only 15 percent of the budget, has been basically flat as a share of the economy for decades. Cutting it simply will not fill the deficit hole.

The first graph shows the difference between budget projections and budget reality. In 2001, President George W. Bush inherited a surplus, with projections by the Congressional Budget Office for ever-increasing surpluses, assuming continuation of the good economy and President Bill Clinton’s policies. But every year starting in 2002, the budget fell into deficit.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Should The USA Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway's

Should The USA Worry About Right-Wing Terror Attacks Like Norway's

The Norwegian police on Saturday charged a 32-year-old man, whom they identified as a Christian fundamentalist with right-wing connections, over the bombing of a government center and a shooting attack on a nearby island that together left at least 91 people dead.

In my new book "Sex, Mom and God" I predicted just such an action. I predicted that right wing Christians will unleash terror here in America too. I predict that they will copy Islamic extremists, and may eventually even make common cause with them.

There is a growing movement in America that equates godliness with hatred of our government in fact hatred of our country as fallen and evil because we allow women choice, gays to marry, have a social safety net, and allow immigration from other cultures and non-white races.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the killer wrote:

    "Today's Protestant church is a joke," he wrote in an online post in 2009. "Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like minimalist shopping centres. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic."

It seems Anders Behring Breivik longed for a "pure" and ultra conservative religion. He was a man of religious conviction, no liberals with their jeans need apply! Liberals beware.

Norway is just a first taste of what will happen here on a larger scale.


There is a history to the far right, religious right extremism on the rise today, extremism so extreme that in its congressional manifestation it is risking the good faith and credit of the US in the debt calling fiasco. The Tea Party activists also want purity of doctrine.

My family was part of the far right/violent right's rise in the 1970s and 80s when we helped create the "pro-life" movement come into existence that in the end spawned the killers of abortion providers. These killers were literally doing what we'd called for.

The terror unleashed on Norway - and the terror now unleashed by the Tea Party through Congress as it holds our economy hostage to extremist "economic" theories that want to destroy our ability to function -- is the sort of white, Christian; far right terror America can expect more of.


Call this the ultimate "Tea Party" type "answer" to secularism, modernity, and above all our hated government. Call this the Christian Brotherhood. From far right congress people, to far right gun-toting terror in Norway and here at home, our own Western version of the Taliban is on the rise.

Foreigners, visitors from another planet and Americans living in a bubble of reasonable or educated people might not know this but the reality is that the debt ceiling confrontation is by, for and the result of America's evangelical Christian control of the Republican Party.

It is the ultimate expression of an alternate reality, one that has the mistrust of the US government as its bedrock "faith," second only to faith in Jesus.

To understand why an irrational self-defeating action like destroying the credit of the USA might seem like the right thing to do you have to understand two things: that the Republican Party is now the party of religious fanatics and that these fanatics -- people like Michele Bachmann -- don't want to work within our system, they want to bring it down along the lines of so-called Christian "Reconstruction." (See my book for a full account of what this is.)

In the scorched-earth era of the "health care reform debates" of 2009 and beyond, Evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren't the evil government. The right even decided that it was "normal" for the state to hand over its age-old public and patriotic duties to private companies -- even for military operations ("contractors"), prisons, health care, public transport, and all the rest.


The Religious Right/Far Right et al. favored private "facts," too.

They claimed that global warming wasn't real. They asserted this because scientists (those same agents of Satan who insisted that evolution was real) were the ones who said human actions were changing the climate. Worse, the government said so, too!

"Global warming is a left-wing plot to take away our freedom!"

"Amtrak must make a profit!"

There is an indirect but deadly connection between the "intellectual" fig-leaf providers/leaders like my late father and periodic upheavals like the loony American Right's sometimes-violent reaction to the election of Barack Obama, killings in Norway and what the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party is about to do to us in forcing a default on our loans, and thus destroying the US economy in a way bin Laden could only have dreamed of doing.

No, your average member of some moronic gun toting Michigan militia is not reading books by my late father Francis Schaeffer where he called for the overthrow of the government because of Roe v Wade and the legalization of abortion. Nor have they heard of people like Robert George. And the killer in Norway may or may not have read my father's books.

But Michele Bachmann is reading my father's books. And she was trained in far right Reconstructionist theory at the Oral Roberts law school by one of Dad's followers.

Bachmann says she got into politics because of reading my father's work. And she is one of his extremist followers.

Non-Evangelicals with far right agendas like Robert George (I'll introduce him to you in a moment) have cashed in on the Evangelicals' like Bachmann's willingness to lend their numbers and influence to one "moral" anti-American crusade after another, or rather I should say, to one political crusade after another masquerading as moral crusades.


For instance, conservative Roman Catholic Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George is an antiabortion, anti-Obama, anti-gay-rights, and anti-stem-cell-research "profamily" activist, and he has found ways to effectively carry on the far right Reconstructionist agenda while denying any formal connection to it and taking the intellectual high road.

Take George's brainchild: the "Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience."

This was published in 2009 as an anti-Obama manifesto, and many far right Evangelical leaders signed on.

The "Manhattan Declaration" reads:

    "We will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act . . . nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar's. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God's."

In case you've never heard of George, he's been a one-man "brain trust" for the Religious Right, Glenn Beck, and the Far Right of the Republican Party as well as for the ultraconservative wing of the Roman Catholic Church. Here's how the New York Times introduced him to its readers:

    "[Robert George] has parlayed a 13th-century Catholic philosophy [the natural law theory] into real political influence. Glenn Beck, the Fox News talker and a big George fan, likes to introduce him as "one of the biggest brains in America," or, on one broadcast, "Superman of the Earth." Karl Rove told me he considers George a rising star on the right and a leading voice in persuading President George W. Bush to restrict embryonic stem-cell research. . . . Newt Gingrich called him "an important and growing influence" on the conservative movement, especially on matters like abortion and marriage. "If there really is a vast right-wing conspiracy," the conservative Catholic journal Crisis concluded a few years ago, "its leaders probably meet in George's kitchen.""


It's a question of legitimacy and illegitimacy.

What the Religious Right, including the Religious Right's Roman Catholic and Protestant enablers, did was contribute to a climate in which the very legitimacy of our government--is questioned as part of religious faith itself.

The "Manhattan Declaration" called laws with which its signers disagreed "edicts," thereby conjuring up images of dictators handing down oppressive rules, rather than legitimately elected democratic bodies passing legislation. In other words, when the Right lost in the democratic process, "other means" to undermine the law were encouraged. This is the language of revolution, not democracy.

The Far Right intellectual enablers began by questioning abortion rights, gay rights, school prayer rulings, and so forth. What they ended up doing was to help foster a climate in which--in the eyes of a dangerous and growing (mostly white lower class undereducated gun-toting) minority--the very legitimacy of the U.S. government was called into question, sometimes in paranoid generalities, but often with ridiculous specificity: for instance, in the persistent lie that President Obama was not a citizen or was a Muslim or that the Federal Reserve and/or United Nations were somehow involved in a plot to "take away our freedoms" or that sensible gun control equaled "tyranny."


It was in the context of delegitimizing our government that actions by domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh became thinkable. In 1993 McVeigh told a reporter, "The government is continually growing bigger and more powerful and the people need to prepare to defend themselves against government control."

Change a word or two and his words could have been lifted from my father's 1981 book A Christian Manifesto, or for that matter a few decades later, from statements by the so-called Tea Party or those by Michele Bachmann, or Robert George or his follower Glenn Beck.

In my father's book he called for the overthrow of the US government unless non-violent ways were found to overturn Roe v Wade. He compared America to Nazi Germany.

Note the ominous rhetorical shadow Dad's book cast over a benighted and divided American future, a future that produced the climate of hate that eventually spawned the murder of abortion providers such as Dr. George Tiller in Wichita in 2009 and the threat of destroying America's credit in an effort to literally defund the USA.

Here's a bit from Manifesto on how the government was "taking away" our country and turning it over to Liberals, codenamed by Dad as "this total humanistic way of thinking":

"The law, and especially the courts, is the vehicle to force this total humanistic way of thinking upon the entire population..."

And this:

"Simply put, the Declaration of Independence states that the people, if they find that their basic rights are being systematically attacked by the state, have a duty to try and change that government, and if they cannot do so, to abolish it."

Then this:

"There does come a time when force, even physical force, is appropriate. . . . A true Christian in Hitler's Germany and in the occupied countries should have defied the false and counterfeit state. This brings us to a current issue that is crucial for the future of the church in the United States, the issue of abortion. . . . It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God's law it abrogates its authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation."

In other words, Dad's followers were told that (1) force is a legitimate weapon to use against an evil government; (2) America was like Hitler's Germany--because of legal abortion and of the forcing of "Humanism" on the population--and thus intrinsically evil; and (3) whatever would have been the "appropriate response" to stop Hitler was now appropriate to do here in America to stop our government, which Dad had just branded a "counterfeit state."


To understand the extremism coming from the right, the fact that there are members of Congress who seem to be genuinely mentally unhinged leading the charge on the debt ceiling, you need to understand that this hatred of all things government has theological roots that have nothing to do with facts.

Theology is -- by nature -- not about reason but about faith. If God's will is to be served then so be it if America is plunged into chaos! This debt ceiling fiasco is just another chapter in the "culture" wars.

The extreme language of Evangelical/"pro-life" rebellion has now been repackaged in the debt ceiling showdown. It is the language of religion pitted against facts.

And the anti-government charge is being led by people who are either true believers, thus unable to reason, or people catering to the true believers so that they can remain in the good books of the Tea Party, which is nothing more than the Evangelical far right repackaged and renamed.

Some people took the next step. The night of December 14, 2008, Bruce Turnidge was in handcuffs and sitting next to an FBI agent in Turnidge's farmhouse in Oregon. He was ranting about the "need" for militias and cursing the election of an African American president. Hours earlier, his son, Joshua, had been arrested for allegedly causing a fatal bomb explosion.

"Bruce started talking about the Second Amendment and citizens' rights to carry firearms," said George Chamberlin, the FBI agent. "Bruce talked at length that the government should fear the people and that the people should not fear the government."

In February 2010, a little more than a year after Obama's inauguration, Joseph Stack, a fifty-three-year-old software engineer, piloted a plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, and killed one man and injured several others.

Before killing himself, Stack posted an online suicide note railing against the federal government and expressing grievances similar to those Dad had enumerated.

A Facebook group celebrating Stack had thousands of members sign on almost instantly after he was "martyred for our freedoms," as one contributor called it. The site featured the Gadsden flag (the flag with the logo "Don't Tread On Me") and these words: "Finally an American man took a stand against our tyrannical government that no longer follows the constitution and turned its back on its founding fathers and the beliefs this country was founded on."

In March 2010 the so-called Hutaree Militia, a right-wing, biblically inspired fundamentalist group, was alleged to have hatched a plot to kill police officers. Members of this outfit had planned attacks on police officers as a way of acting out their hatred for the government as well as a way to launch the civil chaos "predicted" in so-called End Times biblical prophecies. The day the plotters were arrested, I checked their online homepage. Here's what I found as their mission statement (misspellings in the original post, which has since been taken down, as has the site):

"As Christians we all are a part of the Souls of the Body of Christ, the one true church of Christ. . . . This is the belief of the Hutaree soldier, as should the belief of all followers in Christ be."


Following the election of our first black president, the "politics" of the Evangelical, Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Mormon Far Right was not the politics of a loyal opposition, but rather the instigation of revolution, which was first and best expressed by Rush Limbaugh when even before President Obama took office he said, "I hope Obama fails."

To the old-fashioned conservative mantra "Big government doesn't work," the newly radicalized Evangelicals (and their Roman Catholic and Mormon cobelligerents) added "The U.S. government is evil!"

Among the great strengths of the USA is our belief in the rights guaranteed in the 1st Amendment - freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition for our grievances and freedom of religion. Like all freedoms those can and have been exploited by  far right conservatives to advance a radical anti-freedom agenda. The Rev. Pat Robertson once infamously said those freedoms are fine, but only when practiced by fundamentalist radicals like himself.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Republicans Say All Taxes are a Form of Confiscation. So What Is It Called When Corporate America's Sunshine Patriots Takes Most of The Capital Produced By Labor

Republicans Say All Taxes are a Form of Confiscation. So What Is It Called When Corporate America's Sunshine Patriots Takes Most of The Capital Produced By Labor

A quick perusal of Mt. Vernon's annual report reveals that its many corporate funders include the Ford Motor Company, Toyota, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Altria (formerly Philip Morris), Coca Cola, the American Gas Association, PricewaterhouseCoopers, M&T Bank, Stanley Black & Decker and BAE Systems -- the massive, British-based defense contractor that last year pled guilty to criminal charges related to bribery allegations and paid almost $450 million in penalties to the United States and Great Britain. (Wonder what the George Washington of slaughtered cherry tree and "I cannot tell a lie" fame would make of that?)

In fairness, they all have helped preserve a beautiful historic landmark, but as I looked at their names, I couldn't help but think that they and their big business colleagues could perform an even greater patriotic service to America by working to create more jobs.

Naive? Not really. After all, as of last week, as per the website Zero Hedge and data analysts Capital IQ, 29 public companies -- including Bank of America, JP Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, GE and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway -- each have more cash on hand than the US Treasury. And as Citigroup's Peter Orzag, former director of Obama's Office of Management and Budget wrote on July 13, we need to be "as bold as we can." Says he, "The right policy response is a combination of more aggressive attention to bolster the job market now and much more deficit reduction enacted now to take effect in a few years."

So why not make a sacrifice bigger than a nice hefty grant to Mount Vernon or the historic location of your choice and commit instead to finding employment for at least some of the 14.1 million out of work?  After all, the Republicans keep telling us these corporations and their rich executives and stockholders need every last one of their outlandish tax breaks -- because they're job creators!

Yeah, right. In May, when Fortune magazine released this year's list of America's top 500 companies, its editors wrote, "The Fortune 500 generated nearly $10.8 trillion in total revenues last year, up 10.5%. Total profits soared 81%. But guess who didn't benefit much from this giant wave of cash? Millions of U.S. workers stuck mired in a stagnant job market... we've rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans."

In June, a report from Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market Studies found that since the economic recovery began two years ago, "Corporate profits captured 88 percent of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than one percent." It goes on to declare, "The absence of any positive share of national income growth due to wages and salaries received by American workers during the current economic recovery is historically unprecedented. The lack of any net job growth in the current recovery combined with stagnant real hourly and weekly wages is responsible for this unique, devastating outcome."

The report concludes that in this jobless, wageless recovery, "The only major beneficiaries of the recovery have been corporate profits and the stock market and its shareholders."

A new study conducted for The New York Times by the executive compensation data firm Equilar found that the median pay for top executives at "200 big companies" last year was $10.8 million: "That works out to a 23 percent gain from 2009." The richest one percent makes almost 25 percent of the nation's income. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that the United States has the worst income inequality of the 24 industrialized nations that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- more horrendous, in fact, than Pakistan and Ethiopia.

And yet a recent headline on CNBC's website reads, "Firms Have Record $800 Billion of Cash But Still Won't Hire." Maybe they've never heard the Bible's exhortation that to whom much is given, much is expected, a sentiment well understood by George Washington, who gave up the life of a gentleman farmer -- twice -- to come to the aid of his fledgling nation.

Just a couple of days before Washington crossed the Delaware during that bleak Christmas of 1776, with real ice, wind and snow -- no soap suds -- Thomas Paine famously predicted that "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country." Today's corporate giants, blinded by greed, oblivious to the despair around them, are doing much the same. That can't last.

By the way, all those complaints about corporate tax rates and hanging on to their precious loopholes, subsidies and Bush tax cuts? The Center for Tax Justice, a nonprofit research and advocacy group, finds "the U.S. is already one of the least taxed countries for corporations in the developed world" -- as a percentage of GDP second only to, wait for it, Iceland. Up the revolution.

Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at Demos and president of the Writers Guild of America, East, is former senior writer of Bill Moyers Journal on PBS.

If socialism's core principle is a collective, a small group that owns everything. The U.S. economy has thus been formed into a corporate collective. We are all forced to participate in this collective by having most of the value we produce in goods and services siphoned off to pay for the decadent unearned income of our corporate pimps. What happened to making a good product, doing a good day's work and being rewarded in proportion to our contribution for that work. Some people call this the plutocracy. In some ways we're back to the monarchs and princes of the 15th century where the peasants break their backs and most of the fruits of our labor go to the king or prince.    

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flip-flop Republicans Were For Raising The Debt Ceiling Before They Were Against It

Flip-flop Republicans Were For Raising The Debt Ceiling Before They Were Against It

There was a time when House Republicans chose not to threaten the nation with default to get their agenda passed.
White House and congressional negotiators are currently in the process of striking a deficit reduction deal, as most Republicans in Congress are refusing to raise the federal debt ceiling without deep cuts to public investments and social insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare. By doing so, these Republicans are essentially holding the country hostage, threatening the United States with default unless Democrats agree to these cuts.

Yet these Republicans were not always demanding hostages in exchange for allowing the country to pay its own bills. In November of 2004, Congress voted in both the House and Senate to hike the U.S. debt limit by $800 billion, which raised the total ceiling to $8.1 trillion.

A ThinkProgress review of the votes in both the House and Senate finds that a whopping 130 congressional Republicans voted to hike the debt ceiling that November that remain in the U.S. Congress today (either in their same seats or by coming to the Senate). These members of Congress did not demand draconian cuts in public investment that would’ve driven up unemployment and threatened the economy in return.

Of course, there was one other difference between then and today. President George W. Bush was in the White House, and Republicans did not have an incentive to try to politically damage him by holding the debt ceiling hostage. In 2002, during another hike in the nation’s debt limit under Bush, his press secretary Ari Fleischer said it was important to raise the debt ceiling because it was not the time “to engage in activites that could in any way raise questions about the full faith and credit of the United States”:

    MR. FLEISCHER: The Senate passed, 68-29, a clean increase in the debt limit. The President praises the Senate’s action. The debt limit is a very important issue. This is not the time to play any — this is not the time to engage in any activities that could in any way raise questions about the full faith and credit of the United States. And the President urges the House to follow the Senate’s action on this matter.

These votes also prove that these Republicans, when faced with the default of their country, are willing to vote to raise the debt ceiling; this indicates that it is perhaps unnecessary to strike any sort of deficit reduction deal at all to win their votes. If Republicans and Democrats want to strike a grand bargain on deficit reduction, they can certainly do that in the context of the budget appropriations process rather than holding the debt limit hostage.
The current crop of fanatical conservatives had a choice to make. They could join in and help President Obama pull the country out of the recession they caused or they could act on their hatred of the president and do everything they could to make him look bad, even if it means making the recession they started even worse. They chose to further cripple the economy. Republicans are hoping to avoid blame for taking the country hostage because they claim taxes are too high and the gov'mint is spending too much. Taxes are the lowest they have been since 1950. Government spending as a percent of GDP ( the standard measure) was above average in 2009, but has come down to the same average yearly spending of the last fifteen years. We have a revenue problem in other words.

Rick Perry Doubled Texas’ Debt, Then Balanced Budget Through Accounting Gimmicks

Cowardly Proto-facist Rep. Allen West(R) Unloads On ‘Vile, Unprofessional, and Despicable’ Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

James O'Keefe's Latest 'Terrorist' Medicaid Sting Goes After Woman For Following Law

The victimhood myths of Palin fans - The reaction of her devoted fans to a blog post about poor attendance at a screening of "The Undefeated" is telling

Monday, July 18, 2011

Conservative Republican Games Are a Danger to The Country

Conservative Republican Games Are a Danger to The Country by  Robert Reich

I’ve spent enough of my life in Washington to take its theatrics with as much seriousness as a Seinfeld episode. A large portion of what passes for policy debate isn’t at all — it’s play-acting for various constituencies. The actors know they’re acting, as do their protagonists on the other side who are busily putting on their own plays for their own audiences.

Typically, though, back stage is different. When the costumes and grease paint come off, compromises are made, deals put together, legislation hammered out. Then at show time the players announce the results – spinning them to make it seem they’ve kept to their parts.

At least that’s the standard playbook.

But this time there’s no back stage. The kids in the GOP have trashed it. The GOP’s experienced actors – House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McDonnell – have been upstaged by juveniles like Eric Cantor and Michele Bachmann, who don’t know the difference between playacting and governing. They’re in league with tea party fanatics who hate government so much they’re willing to destroy the full faith and credit of the United States. Washington has gone from theater to reality TV – a game of hi-jinks chicken that could end in a crash.

So now the GOP’s experienced actors are trying to retake the stage. They’ve set a vote Tuesday for a so-called “cut, cap, and balance” plan – featuring an immediate $100 billion-plus cut from next year’s budget and a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget.

The plan would be a disaster for the nation, of course – a cut of that magnitude when the economy is still struggling to get out of recession would plunge it back in, and a balanced-budget amendment would make it impossible to counteract future recessions with extra spending and tax cuts.

But, hey, it’s all for show. The GOP’s adults know the President would veto their cuts and they couldn’t possibly muster the two-thirds of the Senate and House needed to override the veto. Nor, obviously, do they have the two-thirds necessary to pass a constitutional amendment.

The point is to give the kids more votes they can wave in the direction of their tea party constituents. It’s hoped that the “cut, cap, and balance” plan — along with Mitch McConnell’s proposed Republican vote disapproving the President’s move to raise the debt ceiling (which the President will then veto) — will be enough to get the juveniles to raise the debt ceiling before the August 2 deadline.

“The cut, cap and balance plan that the House will vote on next week is a solid plan for moving forward,” John Boehner told reporters Friday. Translated: I hope this will be enough playacting to get their votes on the debt ceiling.

But even if it’s enough, the bigger problem remains: There’s still no back stage where the real work of governing this country can occur. At best, the vote to raise the debt ceiling kicks the can down the road only until the end of 2012. By then, if we don’t elect adults, the kids will be in charge.

Republicans caused one Great Recession by letting Wall Street run wild with the nation's wealth. All the while they put two wars and everything else on the credit card for someone else to take care of. Now they're going to cause another financial meltdown. Why? Because they can. Because Republicans truly hate democratic republic style government. They have wanted a kind of soft authoritarianism in which corporations and wacky religious zealots run the country.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If Obama is a Socialist Then Reagan Was The Biggest Marxist Ever

Why Do Republicans Claim Obama is Redistributing Income When Taxes Are Lower Now Than Under Reagan

President Obama met with House Republicans today(06-01-2011) at the White House to discuss ways to move forward on negotiations regarding the nation’s debt ceiling and the budget. During the discussion, talk evidently turned to taxes, and when Obama noted that taxes today are lower than they were under President Reagan, the GOP, according to The Hill, “engaged in a lot of ‘eye-rolling’“:

    Republicans attending a White House meeting on Wednesday didn’t take kindly to President Obama telling them tax rates were higher during the Reagan administration. GOP members engaged in a lot of “eye-rolling,” according to a member who was on hand to hear Obama, who invited House Republicans to the White House for discussions on the debt ceiling. [...]

    “[The President] made a comment like the tax rate is the lightest, even more than (under former President) Reagan,” Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) told The Hill following the meeting. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) joked that during the meeting, “We learned we had the lowest tax rates in history … lower than Reagan!”

That House Republicans find this preposterous is symptomatic of the hold Reagan mythology has over them. After all, for seven of Reagan’s eight years in office, the top tax rate was higher than the current 35 percent. In six of those years, it was 50 percent or more. And every year that Regan was in office, the bottom tax bracket was higher than the current ten percent.

For a family of four, the “average income tax rate under Reagan in 1983 was 11.06 percent. Under Clinton in 1992, it was 9.18 percent. And under Obama in 2010, it was 4.68 percent.” During Reagan’s time, income tax revenue ranged from 7.8 to 9.4 percent of GDP. Last year, it was 6.2 percent and is not projected to climb back to 9 percent until 2016. In fact, in 2009, Americans paid their lowest taxes in 60 years.

Republicans are very fond of saying that the U.S. has “a spending problem, not a revenue problem.” But the truth is that revenue has plunged due to the recession and to continued misguided tax cuts, and revenue needs to be raised to eventually bring the budget into balance. And Reagan knew that taxes were an important part of the budget equation. After all, he “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years.

The rants, articles, blog posts and so forth are all over the internet: President Obama is a Kenyan Marxist who is redistributing income from high taxes on hard working Americans to lazy socialists. If that is true and our measure of Marxism is high taxes than Reagan was a much bigger Marxist than Obama. Reagan raised taxes 7 times including the biggest peace time increase in modern history. Thus Reagan was a Marxist. Bush 41 raised taxes once - he's a Marxist too obviously. Obama has cut small business taxes 16 times.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Republicans Myths Exposed - Higher Income Taxes on The Wealthy Hurt Job Creation

Republicans Myths Exposed - Higher Income Taxes on The Wealthy Hurt Job Creation. Not True!

Last week we pointed out that even though conservatives seem obsessed with the top income tax rate, overall economic growth was actually stronger during periods of higher tax rates. But maybe we missed the point. Maybe what conservatives are really concerned about is job growth, not overall economic growth. Maybe they have some convoluted argument about how the tax rate for rich people is incredibly important for creating jobs.

Cue the quotes:

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH): “What some are suggesting is that we take this money from people who would invest in our economy and create jobs and give it to the government. The fact is you can't tax the very people that we expect to invest in the economy and create jobs.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: “With over 20 million people who are unemployed or who have stopped looking for work, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes on job-creators, entrepreneurs, and small business owners across America.”

John Boehner, again: “A tax hike would wreak havoc not only on our economy’s ability to create private-sector jobs, but also on our ability to tackle the national debt.”

Apparently, conservatives believe that a key driver of overall job growth is the tax rate that rich people pay on their last dollar of income. They argue that these very rich people are the ones who “create” the jobs and therefore taxing them at even slightly higher rates will make them less likely to invest, expand their businesses, and hire more people. That sounds plausible, but it turns out to be completely baseless.

In fact, they are just as wrong about this as they are about the relationship between marginal tax rates and overall economic growth. In the past 60 years, job growth has actually been greater in years when the top income tax rate was much higher than it is now.

For instance, in years when the top marginal rate was more than 90 percent, the average annual growth in total payroll employment was 2 percent. In years when the top marginal rate was 35 percent or less—which it is now—employment grew by an average of just 0.4 percent.

And there’s no cherry-picking here. Pick any threshold. When the marginal tax rate was 50 percent or above, annual employment growth averaged 2.3 percent, and when the rate was under 50, growth was half that.

In fact, if you ranked each year since 1950 by overall job growth, the top five years would all boast marginal tax rates at 70 percent or higher. The top 10 years would share marginal tax rates at 50 percent or higher. The two worst years, on the other hand, were 2008 and 2009, when the top marginal tax rate was 35 percent. In the 13 years that the top marginal tax rate has been at its current level or lower, only one year even cracks the top 20 in overall job creation.

We showed last week that lower rates are not associated with faster overall economic growth—just the opposite, in fact. And now we know that lower rates don’t coincide with higher job growth, either. So where is the evidence that the lower marginal tax rates spur job creation? It’s certainly not present in the past 60 years of American history.

It’s worth keeping this in mind the next time a conservative lawmaker claims that raising the rates for the wealthy would “destroy jobs.”

No one likes taxes, but they are the cost we pay for a modern industrialized society. Businesses and individuals all use what taxes pay for - roads, bridges, the military, fire trucks, educating the work force that employers hire, street lights, science research, student loans to medical students, health care for poor grandmas. Conservatives say they are responsible citizens, but the fact they do not want to pay for the services that make a free market economy possible, makes them irresponsible jerks.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

If The U.S. is Really a Free Market Economy How Come Only The Rich Get Richer

Income Gaps Between Very Rich and Everyone Else More Than Tripled In Last Three Decades, New Data Show

The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007 (the period for which these data are available), according to data the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued last week. Taken together with prior research, the new data suggest greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928.

While the recession that began in December 2007 likely reduced the income of the wealthiest Americans substantially and may thereby shrink the income gap between rich and poor households, a similar development that occurred around the bursting of the bubble and the 2001 recession turned out to be just a speed bump. Incomes at the top more than made up the lost ground from 2003 to 2005.

The new CBO data — the most comprehensive data available on changes in incomes and taxes for different income groups — also show the following:

    In 2007, the share of after-tax income going to the top 1 percent hit its highest level (17.1 percent) since 1979, while the share going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level during this period (14.1 percent).
    Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1 percent rose by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation — an increase in income of $973,100 per household — compared to increases of 25 percent ($11,200 per household) for the middle fifth of households and 16 percent ($2,400 per household) for the bottom fifth (see Figure 1).
    If all groups’ after-tax incomes had grown at the same percentage rate over the 1979-2007 period, middle-income households would have received an additional $13,042 in 2007 and families in the bottom fifth would have received an additional $6,010.
    In 2007, the average household in the top 1 percent had an income of $1.3 million, up $88,800 just from the prior year; this $88,800 gain is well above the total 2007 income of the average middle-income household ($55,300). [1]

Income Gains at Top Have Outpaced All Other Groups Since 1979

The gap in income between the wealthiest Americans and all others has grown strikingly in recent decades, the CBO data show. In 1979, when the data begin, the average after-tax incomes of the top 1 percent of households were 7.9 times higher than those of the middle fifth of households. By 2007, top incomes were 23.9 times higher than those of the middle fifth — a more than tripling of the income gap.

The gap between the top 1 percent and the poorest fifth of Americans widened even more sharply. In 1979, the incomes of the top 1 percent were 22.7 times higher than those of the bottom fifth. By 2007, top incomes were 74.6 times higher than those at the bottom — more than tripling the rich-poor gap in 28 years --

The CBO figures show that the nation’s income has grown substantially since 1979; if this growth had been shared more broadly, most groups would have seen much larger gains. For the nation as a whole, after-tax household income increased 55 percent from 1979 to 2007, adjusted for inflation. If all groups’ incomes had grown by 55 percent, the average income of the bottom fifth of households would have been $23,710 in 2007 (rather than $17,700) and the average income of the middle fifth would have been $68,342 (rather than $55,300).

Instead, the wealthiest households reaped a sharply growing share of the nation’s income, while the share going to middle- and lower-income households shrank  ..

Pre-Tax Income Inequality Also Growing Rapidly

The bulk of the increase in after-tax income inequality since 1979 reflects changes in pre-tax incomes. The incomes of the top 1 percent rose 141 percent from 1979 to 2007 before taxes are considered, the CBO data show. The top 1 percent’s share of before-tax income (like its share of after-tax income) more than doubled from 1979 to 2007, from 9.3 percent to 19.4 percent.

By 2007, the top 1 percent had before-tax incomes that were 24 times higher than those of the middle fifth of Americans — a share that had nearly tripled since 1979.

The rapidly rising pre-tax incomes of the wealthy help to explain the notable rise in the percentage of total tax revenue collected from these households. CBO’s data show that the share of total federal taxes paid by the top 1 percent of households rose from 25.5 percent in 2000 to 28.1 percent in 2007, the second-highest share since 1979 (only 2006 was higher).

The increase in the share of taxes paid by the wealthy is often cited erroneously as evidence that their tax burden is rising. In reality, the effective federal tax rate for the top 1 percent of households — the percentage of their income that they pay in federal taxes — declined from 33.0 percent of income in 2000 to 29.5 percent in 2007.

The top 1 percent paid a growing share of total taxes chiefly because they received a growing share of total before-tax income: 19.4 percent in 2007, compared to 17.8 percent in 2000. Indeed, the effective tax rate of the top 1 percent of households was lower in 2007 than in any year since 1990, demonstrating beyond a doubt that their tax burdens were decreased, not increased.

Bush-Era Tax Cuts Have Exacerbated Income Gaps

Legislation enacted under the Bush Administration provided taxpayers with about $1.7 trillion in tax cuts through 2008. Because high-income households received by far the largest tax cuts — not only in dollar terms but also as a percentage of income — the tax cuts have increased the concentration of after-tax income at the top of the spectrum.

The CBO data do not provide a direct measure of the impact of these tax policy changes because they also reflect the effects of changes in household incomes and other factors that influence tax payments. However, estimates by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center that consider only the impact of the tax policy changes demonstrate that the tax cuts have widened income inequality. 

It still pays to work in American, it beats starving to death. On the other hand does working and taking home a check mean you'll gradually improve your lot in life. The odds are against you. In contrast if you're wealthy doing not much pays off quite well. Sure people who seat behind a desk all day like hedge fund mangers and corporate CEOs will complain they work a 12 hour day. 12 hours behind a desk reading reports and e-mails, than going to a couple meetings a day is hardly comparable to putting out fires or roofing a house or providing nursing care to a few dozen patients.

And if Obama is such a big socialist than how come he has done nothing about the disparity between the pay of the rich versus the average citizen.

Michele Bachmann government tax collector.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Fake Patriots of the Republican Party Have Jettisoned Reason in Favor of Wacky Beliefs

The Fake Patriots of the Republican Party Have Jettisoned Reason in Favor of Wacky Beliefs

In Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain makes a stinging observation on the overtly religious. “Faith is when you believe something you know ain’t true.” This is a perfect description of the religious asylum that is now the Republican Party and the tortured gospel they are spreading all over the country. Virtually the entire barnyard of their presidential candidates are preaching a mix of born again religious revivalism and brutal 19th century industrial capitalism, that they “know ain’t even remotely true.”

By and large these are not genetically stupid people. But the political trash talking they feel obligated to serve up to the Tea Party Gods--Rush Limbaugh and the inquisitors at Fox--has degenerated into a competition of who can do the best impression of an absolute lunatic. Rick Perry is preaching virtual secession from the union, while holding prayer vigils for God to solve our problems. By what twisted logic does contempt for the federal government and even secession equate to patriotism? Someone please show me where the founding fathers advocated prayer as the vehicle for solving a national debt crisis?

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have flip flopped on virtually every position they ever espoused so that their insanity titers can match Michelle Bachmann's. I’ve met with Jon Huntsman on more than one occasion regarding environmental issues in Utah. He was a reasonable moderate Republican as my state’s governor and appeared on TV ads three years ago exhorting the entire country to act on the climate crisis. He did that because he respected the warnings of our climate scientists. Now he says we can't deal with global warming in a depressed economy. He knows perfectly well that those same scientists are warning that if we don’t act on it right now, we condemn our children to a brutal, dangerous and likely unlivable world. Newt Gingrich? He appeared on national TV ads with Nancy Pelosi saying that he agreed on the urgency to deal with the climate crisis. Now he looks like a Keystone Cop, tripping over his own feet in full speed reverse.

Sarah Palin? Oh, never mind. Rick Santorum? According to him the world’s scientists are all in on a conspiracy with Al Gore. Really Rick? That conspiracy would have to have started in 1824 when the greenhouse gas phenomenon was first described by the French scientist Joseph Fourier. It would have to have involved scores of scientists in the 1800s like John Tyndall of the Royal Institute of Great Britain, George Marsh, the founder of the Smithsonian Institute, and hundreds of scientists in the 1900s like 1903 Nobel Prize winner Svante Arrhenius. The conspiracy would now have to involve virtually the entire world’s scientific community. That makes sense to you, Rick? Really?

Almost as irritating is the chorus sung over and over by Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and 99% of Republican Congressmen proudly declaring their Huckleberry Finn type faith that an unfettered free market is the only way to create to millions of new jobs. “Stop choking businesses with excessive regulations!” they chant. All businesses, all regulations. Really, Mitch? Never mind that it was precisely the elimination of, inadequacy of, or lack of enforcement of federal regulation that allowed Wall St. to drag the economy to the edge of the apocalypse and the very reason why there are no jobs. Never mind that it was poor regulation and free market cost cutting that brought us the Deep Water Horizon, Kalamazoo River, and now Yellowstone River oil spills. 1,800 oil spills have occurred in this country in the last five years totaling 16 million gallons of oil contaminating our land and water. And Mitt, you want regulators to get off the backs of the oil companies? Really?

Never mind that it was inadequate federal oversight and greedy, unfettered capitalism on steroids that allowed Massey Energy to commit manslaughter on 29 coal miners last year. Hey, Eric just what jobs are created by paring down our already bare bones federal food inspection? Will even more outbreaks of e-coli and salmonella in peanut butter, spinach, eggs, cantaloupe, sprouts and hamburger be counted as just collateral blessings from unleashing the free market? We certainly don’t want to pay for inspection of imported sea food from Japan because a little radioactivity in your tuna fish and scallops would probably just make it taste a little more crunchy.

Hey Newt, what jobs will be created by eviscerating the EPA and their enforcement of the Clean Air Act besides morticians and health care providers? Michelle, so you’re comfortable with eliminating money for bridge inspectors from the National Transportation Safety Board because the one that collapsed in your home state in 2007 only killed 13 people, and that’s a small price to pay for that warm, orgasmic tingle only the free market can give?

Lets certainly get regulators off the backs of the pharmaceutical industry because other than the millions of people who have been killed or injured by Phen-Fen, Vioxx, Avandia, Bextra, Cylert, Baycol, Palladone, Trasylol, Tylenol, Darvocet, Heparin and all the drugs now made with ingredients from China without any real standards or controls--i.e. most of them--there's no reason to think an unregulated free market won’t work out just fine. Really, Sarah? So if defective and tainted drugs weed out the weak among us, that’s just the beauty of the Ayn Rand/Milton Friedman world view?

The entire middle class is struggling with unemployment, under employment, mounting debt, lost pensions, mortgages foreclosed or underwater, and you want to undo even the pathetic protections of the 2010 Consumer Protection Act and put Elizabeth Warren’s head on a platter? Really, Speaker Boehner? That’s the job elixir the middle class so desperately need?

As with most religions the Church of Unfettered Capitalism doesn’t have to make sense in order to thrive. But it does need preachers at the pulpit exhorting us to “believe in things that we know ain’t true” and the Republican Party can't get enough of them. Huckleberry Finn would be so proud.
Brian Moench

Dr. Brian Moench is President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Conservatism doesn't have the kind of historical roots liberalism has - like Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, Adam Smith and James Mill to name a few of the better know liberal thinkers. Conservatism is no more than some cobbled together pieces of old European monarchism, proto-fascism, throw in some corrupted bits of the Old Testament. Modern conservatism has never worked in practice. Start with Richard Nixon up to Reagan and both Bushes. They keep moving further and further away from the Democratic ideals that makes America work and moved ever more to the hard Right. In each stage they have claimed that Nixon or Reagan or Bush 43 failed because they were not pure enough. You know who frequently makes the same argument? Communists. Kind of ironic that conservatives embrace all the authoritarianism of communism yet claim the mantle of the party of freedom. They area sad and pathetic group at best.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Texas Governor Rick Perry Discovered to Be Just Another Right-wing Conservative Pathological Liar

Texas Governor Rick Perry Discovered to Be Just Another Right-wing Conservative Pathological Liar - Rick Perry Doubled Texas’ Debt, Then Balanced Budget Through Accounting Gimmicks

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Republican lawmakers completely failed to keep their promise not to “kick the can” down the road when it came to solving the largest budget shortfall in the state’s history. That’s according to a new Associated Press report, which concludes that Perry and the GOP legislature largely balanced the state’s budget through flimsy accounting gimmicks that do nothing to secure Texas’ financial footing.

The self-professed fiscal conservatives resorted to tactics like delaying a $2.3 billion payment to schools by one day to technically push it into the next fiscal year and keep it off the books of this budget. They also “found” $800 million by ordering the state’s accountants to forecast a faster increase in land values to show more property tax income:

    Gov. Rick Perry signed a budget that was balanced only through accounting maneuvers, rewriting school funding laws, ignoring a growing population and delaying payments on bills coming due in 2013.

    It accomplishes, however, what the Republican majority wanted most: It did not raise taxes, took little from the Rainy Day Fund and shifted any future deficits onto the next Legislature.

The new budget also preposterously assumes there will be no growth in the number of school children in Texas, even though it is one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. Experts predict this trick alone will shortchange school districts by $2 billion.

Texas lawmakers had to close an enormous $27 billion budget deficit this year. Amazingly, only about a third of it was caused by the economic downturn. The state has had a chronic shortage of revenue after years of slashing property and business taxes and creating numerous tax breaks and exemptions. Conservative governors have slashed state services to the bone, so there was no more fat to cut from the budget.

As governor for over a decade, Perry’s “fiscal conservatism” has doubled the state’s debt from $13.7 billion in 2001 to $34.08 billion in 2009. He’s refused to raise taxes on the wealthy and brags about not dipping into the state’s substantial Rainy Day Fund. (However, Perry’s fellow Texas Republicans claim Perry has appropriated nearly all the money in the Rainy Day Fund, and have asked him to stop claiming that he preserved it.)

Democrats have fought back against the GOP claim that it was truly a balanced budget. “It’s all smoke and mirrors and misdirection,” said state Rep. Garnett Coleman (D).

Conservatism is ultimately an anti-American philosophy composed of smoke and mirrors. That is why conservatives are so quick to wrap their garbage in the flag and the Bible, to deflect any serious analysis and criticism of their bone headed public policy. They so many Americans with average to modest incomes continue to support the smoke and mirrors is truly strange. It is as though they loath themselves and want to be punished.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Republicans Destroying Democracy Step by Step - Undermining Voting Rights

Ohio's Anti-American RepublicansWeaken Election Law By Allowing Poll Workers To Refuse To Inform Voters Where They Can Vote

Last week, the GOP-led House passed an election law overhaul without the highly restrictive voter ID provision. However, the House tweaked the bill to weaken a law mandating poll workers to direct voters in the wrong precinct to their correct voting location. Under the new language, a poll worker need not direct a voter to where they are eligible, adding that “it is the duty of the individual casting the ballot to ensure that the individual is casting that ballot in the correct precinct.”

Allowing poll workers to refuse to help those who are legitimately confused about where they should vote opens the door for increased voter suppression. As state Sen. Nina Turner (D) pointed out, “Voting in the wrong precinct led to over 14,000 registered voters statewide to lose their vote in 2008.” Rating the statement “true,” Politifact reports:

    [T]he second most common reason the ballot was not counted was because while the person was properly registered to vote in Ohio, they cast the ballot in the wrong county or precinct. In all, 14,335 such ballots were not counted for this reason, according to the Brunner report.

    Of those 14,000-plus ballots, 3,423 were cast in Cuyahoga County, home to Turner’s district and by far the county with the most uncounted provisional ballots during the November 2008 elections due to wrong place filings.

As the Cleveland Plain Dealer pointed out, mixing up precincts “most often occurs” in “urban and impoverished areas of the state,” leading Turner to sarcastically suggest of Republicans, “I guess the loss of votes for some doesn’t matter.” The bill now heads to Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) for signature.
The only votes the elitist fascist-lite Republicans seem to care about are the votes of billionaires like the Koch brothers, racists, xenophobes, fundamentalist thugs who have more in common with the Taliban than Thomas Jefferson, anti-environment wackos, arrogant yuppie frat boys and corporate robber barons.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Who Has Glenn Beck Used for Authoritative Sources - a rabid anti-Semite, a conspiracy nut and an Historian Who Thinks Slave Owners Were The Real Victims

Who Has Glenn Beck Used for Authoritative Sources - a rabid anti-Semite, a conspiracy nut and an Historian Who Thinks Slave Owners Were The Real Victims

During his time at Fox News, Glenn Beck regularly turned to disreputable sources to back-up his wild and unfounded conspiracy theories. Here are five of Beck's least credible sources.

5. Mahathir Mohamad. As part of his long-running smear campaign against George Soros, Beck said that "many, including the Malaysian prime minister, believe it was billionaire speculator George Soros who helped trigger the [Southeast Asian] economic meltdown" in 1997, a reference to former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's false and anti-Semitic claim that Soros was part of a Jewish "agenda" to collapse Southeast Asian currencies. In an October 10, 1997, report from the Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian (excerpted by BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, accessed via Nexis), Mahathir was quoted as saying: "We do not want to say that this is a plot by the Jews, but in reality it is a Jew who triggered the currency plunge, and coincidentally Soros is a Jew. It is also a coincidence that the Malaysians are mostly Muslim." Matahir later met with Soros and disavowed his allegation, saying: "Mr Soros said he was not involved in the devaluation of the Malaysian currency and that other people were involved. And I have accepted that." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 10/5/10]

4. G. Edward Griffin. Beck has repeatedly used his Fox News program to present G. Edward Griffin as a credible authority on the Federal Reserve. But Griffin has an extensive history of promoting wild conspiracy theories, including 9-11 conspiracy theories, the notion that HIV does not exist, and the claim that cancer is a dietary deficiency that can be cured with "an essential food compound." [Media Matters, 3/26/11]

3. Joel Richardson. Beck has hosted author Joel Richardson to discuss religious and social issues. Richardson has a long history of antagonism toward Islam, having written in his book The Islamic Antichrist that Islam will be the "primary vehicle" "used by Satan to fulfill the prophecies of the Bible." He agreed with Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who planned to burn Qurans, that "Islam is of the devil," and wrote a column headlined "What Obama and the Antichrist have in common." [Media Matters, 2/17/11]

2. Eustace Mullins. Beck promoted Eustace Mullins' book Secrets of the Federal Reserve as a resource on the history of the Fed. Mullins was a 9-11 truther who has been described as an "anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist" and a "nationally known white supremacist"; the Anti-Defamation League called the book Beck promoted "a re-hash of Mullins' anti-Semitic theories about the origins of the Federal Reserve." [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 9/22/10]

1. W. Cleon Skousen. Beck has frequently touted the work of fringe anti-communist activist W. Cleon Skousen. A promoter of New World Order conspiracy theories, Skousen claimed that there "exists a relatively small but powerful group which has succeeded in acquiring a choke-hold on the affairs of practically the entire human race." Skousen also published an American history book, The Making Of America, which presented a "story of slavery in America" that cast slaveowners as the "worst victims of the system." Skousen was a staunch defender of the John Birch Society. In a September 2009 article, Alexander Zaitchick wrote that Skousen "aligned himself" with John Birch Society founder Robert Welch's accusation that Eisenhower was a "dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy." [Media Matters, 9/30/09]

No wonder Beck and his obsequious followers don't know anything about U.S. history, culture, science, literature or politics. Instead of searching for the truth the members of Beckistan and their messiah look for sources that validate their fantasy filled world view rather than the truth.