Monday, October 31, 2011

Herman Cain Plantation Master Would Reduce Women to Slave Status

Herman Cain Plantation Master Would Reduce Women to Slave Status

Today on Face The Nation, GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain claimed that Planned Parenthood wants to “kill black babies” and is part of an organized effort to commit “genocide” against the black community:

    BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay. I want to ask you, since we’re on the subject of abortion, it was at one point back there when the question of Planned Parenthood came up and you said that it was not Planned Parenthood, it was really planned genocide. Because you said Planned Parenthood was trying to put all these centers into the Black communities because they wanted to kill Black babies–

    CAIN (overlapping): Yes.

    SCHIEFFER: –before they were born. You still stand by that?

    CAIN: I still stand by that.

    SCHIEFFER: Do you have any proof that that was the objective of Planned Parenthood?

    CAIN: If people go back and look at the history and look at Margaret Sanger’s own words, that’s exactly where that came from. Look– look up the history. So if you go back and look up the history– secondly, look at where most of them were built. Seventy-five percent of those facilities were built in the Black community.

Both of Cain’s proof points are demonstrably false.

Cain’s statement about the location of Planned Parenthood clinics is wildly inaccuate. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute from January, “Fewer than one in 10 abortion clinics are located in predominantly African-American neighborhoods, or those in which the majority of residents are black.”

Politifact previously evaluated the Cain’s claim that Planned Parenthood was created to “kill black babies” and deemed it “a ridiculous, cynical play of the race card.”

In 2004 and 2006 Cain led a radical group that produced radio advertisements accusing Democrats of wanting to kill “black babies.” Cain himself provided the voiceovers for some of the ads.

Cain would have the government have absolute control over a woman's body and basic rights. His view of women is in fact much like that of the world's worse despotic regimes, such as Iran. Cain would make a good ayatollah.

Republican pundit Roger Simon: Being ‘a little bit racist’ helps in GOP primary

House GOP's "Job Creating" Spending Cuts Destroyed 370,000 Jobs

Why inequality in America is even worse than you thought - A new study shows economic and social conditions in the U.S. rank near the bottom of the developed nations

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Like Stalin and Hitler American Conservatives Are Creating Their Own Reality With Their Own "News" - The Franklin Center

Just Like Stalin and Hitler American Conservatives Are Creating Their Own Reality With Their Own "News" - The Franklin Center

As newsrooms across the country shave off staff due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration, The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, is rushing to fill the gap. The group has 43 state news websites, with writers in over 40 states. Its reporters have been given state house press credentials and its news articles are starting to appear in mainstream print newspapers in each state. Who funds Franklin and what is its agenda?

The websites started sprouting up in 2009. Some of these new sites go by the moniker "Reporter" as with the Franklin Center's Wisconsin Reporter that was launched in January as a website and wire-like service. Others have taken the shared name of "," or "Statehouse News." The websites all offer their content free to local press -- many of the news bureaus send out their articles to state editors every day. The sites also offer free national stories that media can receive daily by subscribing.

The websites are coordinated and funded by a new non-profit group that calls itself the "Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity." The Franklin Center told the Center for Media and Democracy that it does not disclose its funders, but some of its funding can been uncovered from foundation reports. Franklin acts as a hub that distributes funding that it receives from right-wing institutions such as the Wisconsin-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and the Chicago-based Sam Adams Alliance. The North Dakota and DC-based center works with reporters embedded in conservative think tanks and others who have their own news bureaus.

According to Media Transparency, a media watchdog group that was acquired by Media Matters Action Network in 2008, the Bradley Foundation's clear political agenda and network has allowed it to have extensive influence on public policy. The media group notes that while the Foundation's "targets range from affirmative action to social security, it has seen its greatest successes in the area of welfare 'reform' and attempts to privatize public education through the promotion of school vouchers." The Bradley Foundation gave the Franklin Center $190,500 last year.

The Franklin Center was launched with the help of Sam Adams Alliance, which calls itself "SAM." The CEO of SAM, Eric O'Keefe, has been featured at events funded by David Koch's right-wing group called "Americans for Prosperity" (AFP). As the Center for Media and Democracy/ has previously noted, O'Keefe frequently and positively profiles the Tea Party and attacks health care reform and other progressive ideas. He also helped launch the "American Majority" group which trains conservatives to run for office. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Club for Growth Wisconsin, which ran divisive ads in support of Scott Walker's radical overhaul of collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin workers. He previously worked for David Koch's AFP predecessor group named "Citizens for a Sound Economy," among other roles.

O'Keefe's latest enterprise, SAM, gets part of its funding from the State Policy Network (SPN), which is partially funded by The Claude R. Lambe Foundation. Charles Koch, one of the billionaire brothers who co-own Koch Industries, and his wife and children, along with long-time Koch employee Richard Fink, comprise the board of this foundation. SAM is named after Founding Father Sam Adams, one of the leaders in the Boston Tea Party tax protests.

In its first year, the Franklin Center had a budget of $2.9 million, much of it from O'Keefe's SAM.
"Franklin Center" Staffed by Right-Wing Activists

Many Franklin staffers have ties to conservative activist groups and the GOP. The Franklin Center’s president, Jason Stverak, is the former Regional Field Director for SAM, and former Executive Director of the North Dakota Republican Party.

In late July, Erik Telford, the Director of Membership Online Strategy for Koch's AFP, announced that he would take on the position of Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Outreach for the Franklin Center. He had worked at AFP for four and a half years. In his farewell letter, he minced no words in explaining the activist role he will play in his new position, "As I move on to a new challenge, I look forward to staying involved with AFP, but now in an even more important capacity: that of a member and grassroots activist."

The Franklin Center's Director of Donor Relations, Matt Hauck, is a former Associate at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. The center's Chief of Staff, Gwen Beattie, is the former Director of Development and Operations at America's Future Foundation, an organization committed to "identify and develop the next generation of conservative and libertarian leaders." The Franklin Center's 2009 IRS 990 form lists Rudie Martinson as director and secretary. He formerly worked as the assistant state director for North Dakota's chapter of Koch's Americans for Prosperity.

The Franklin Center was one of the sponsors of the Western Republican presidential candidate debate in Las Vegas this month, along with Americans for Prosperity and other right-wing groups.

Interestingly, unlike traditional journalistic outlets, the screening process for writing for websites like the Wisconsin Reporter asks applicants ideological questions. As the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based school and resource for journalists, has reported, Wisconsin Reporter applicants must answer questions like: “How do free markets help the poor?” and “Do higher taxes lead to balanced budgets?” Such queries likely have optimal answers to a group like the Wisconsin Reporter, just as some of its stories have been criticized for being results-oriented in ways that are consistent with its funders' world view.

Who wrote that news article you read today. Was it fact based or based on the preconceived views of a right-wing conservative "reporter" who shaped the narrative to fit the extreme views of the conservative Right.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Obama Should Call For Glass Steagall And A Breakup Of Big Banks

Obama Should Call For Glass Steagall And A Breakup Of Big Banks

Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected and big banks be broken up.

I’m kidding. But it would be a smart move — politically and economically.

Politically smart because Mitt Romney is almost sure to be the Republican nominee, and Romney is the poster child for the pump-and-dump mentality that’s infected the financial industry and continues to jeopardize the American economy.

Romney was CEO of Bain & Company – a private-equity fund that bought up companies, fired employees to save money and boost performance, and then resold the firms at a nice markups.

Romney also epitomizes the pump-and-dump culture of America’s super rich. To take one example, he recently purchased a $3 million mansion in La Jolla, California (in addition to his other homes) that he promptly razed in order build a brand new one.

What better way for Obama to distinguish himself from Romney than to condemn Wall Street’s antics in the wake of the bailout, and call for real reform?

Economically it would be smart for Obama to go after the Street right now because the Street’s lobbying muscle has reduced the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to a pale reflection of its former self. Dodd-Frank is rife with so many loopholes and exemptions that the largest Wall Street banks – larger by far then they were before the bailout – are back to many of their old tricks.

It’s impossible to know, for example, the exposure of the Street to European banks now in danger of going under. To stay afloat, Europe’s banks will be forced to sell mountains of assets – among them, derivatives originating on the Street – and may have to reneg on or delay some repayments on loans from Wall Street banks.

The Street says it’s not worried because these assets are insured. But remember AIG? The fact Morgan Stanley and other big U.S. banks are taking a beating in the market suggests investors don’t believe the Street. This itself proves financial reform hasn’t gone far enough.

If you want more evidence, consider the fancy footwork by Bank of America in recent days. Hit by a credit downgrade last month, BofA just moved its riskiest derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a retail subsidiary flush with insured deposits. That unit has a higher credit rating because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (that is, you and me and other taxpayers) are backing the deposits. Result: BofA improves its bottom line at the expense of American taxpayers.

Wasn’t this supposed to be illegal? Keeping risky assets away from insured deposits had been a key principle of U.S. regulation for decades before the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

The so-called “Volcker rule” was supposed to remedy that. But under pressure of Wall Street’s lobbyists, the rule – as officially proposed last week – has morphed into almost 300 pages of regulatory mumbo-jumbo, riddled with exemptions and loopholes.

It would have been far simpler simply to ban proprietary trading from the jump. Why should banks ever be permitted to use peoples’ bank deposits – insured by the federal government – to place risky bets on the banks’ own behalf? Bring back Glass-Steagall.

True, Glass-Steagall wouldn’t have prevented the fall of Lehman Brothers or the squeeze on other investment banks in 2007 and 2008. That’s why it’s also necessary to break up the big banks.

In the wake of the bailout, the biggest banks are bigger than ever. Twenty years ago the ten largest banks on the Street held 10 percent of America’s total bank assets. Now they hold over 70 percent. And the biggest four have a larger market share than ever – so large, in fact, they’ve almost surely been colluding. How else to explain their apparent coordination on charging debit card fees?

The banks aren’t even fulfilling their fiduciary duties to investors. Last summer, after Groupon selected Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Credit Suisse to underwrite its initial public offering, the trio valued it at a generous $30 billion. Subsequent accounting and disclosure problems showed this estimate to be absurdly high. Did the banks care? Not a wit. The higher the valuation, the fatter their fees.

Just last week Citigroup settled charges (without admitting or denying guilt) that it defrauded investors by selling them a package of mortgage-backed securities rife with mortgages it knew were likely to default, but didn’t disclose the hazard. It then bet against the package for its own benefit – earning fees of $34 million and net profits of at least $126 million. So what’s Citi paying to settle this outrage? A mere $285 million. Its CEO at time (Charles Prince) doesn’t pay a dime.

With Senate Republicans taking the position that they will filibuster any jobs rather than let Obama get any credit for improving the economy, there is little chance those same conservatives for bad government will suddenly decide to look out for the best interests of the average American worker. Democrats are also as indebted to Wall St as right-wing elitist conservative, but Democrats have been willing to push back against Wall Street's worse excesses.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Redistribution of Wealth - Exactly What Motivates the Occupy Movement

Exactly What Motivates the Occupy Movement

What are the Occupy Wall Street protesters angry about? The same things we’re all angry about. The only difference is the protestors turned their anger into public action. Occupy Wall Street lit the embers and the sparks are flying. Whether it turns into a genuine populist prairie fire depends on all of us. 

Now is not the time for wonky policy solutions, as the media meatheads are calling for. Rather, it’s time to air our grievances as loudly as possible, which is precisely what Wall Street and its minions fear the most. Here’s a brief list of why we should be angry and the charts to back it up.

1. The American Dream is imploding... 
(see chart above) - Conservatives say we're headed toward some kind of communist government. On the contrary we're headed back to an economy like the Antebellum south in which half the population are not slaves, but wage slaves. people getting paid barely enough to live on as just 10% of the population reaps all the rewards. Conservatives strongly support this kind of plantation or corporate socialism.)

The productivity/wage chart says it all. From 1947 until the mid-1970s real wages and productivity (economic output per worker hour) danced together. Both climbed year after year as did our real standard of living. If you’re old enough, you will remember seeing your parents doing just a bit better each year, year after year.  Then, our nation embarked on a grand economic experiment. Taxes were cut especially on the super-rich. Finance was deregulated and unions were crushed. Lo and behold, the two lines broke apart. Productivity continued to climb, but wages stalled and declined. So where did all that productivity money go? To the rich and to the super-rich, especially to those in finance.

2. Our wealth is gushing to the top 1 percent...

Actually the top tenth of one percent. Because of financial deregulation and tax cuts for the rich, the income gap is soaring. Here’s one of my favorite indicators that we compiled for The Looting of America. In 1970 the top 100 CEOs earned $45 for every $1 earned by the average worker. By 2006, the ratio climbed to an obscene 1,723 to one. (Not a misprint!)

3. Family income is declining while the top earners flourish...

As women entered the workforce, family income made up for some of the wage stagnation. But now even family incomes are in trouble. Meanwhile, the incomes of the richest families continue to rise. 

4. The super-rich are paying lower and lower tax rates...

To add financial insult to injury, the richest of the rich pay less and less each year as a percentage of their monstrous incomes. The top 400 taxpayers during the 1950s faced a 90 percent federal tax rate. By 1995 their effective tax rate – what they really paid after all deductions as a percent of all their income – fell to 30 percent. Now it’s barely 16 percent. 

5. Too much money in the hands of the few combined with financial deregulation crashed our economy...

When the rich become astronomically rich, they gamble with their excess money. And when Wall Street is deregulated, it creates financial casinos for the wealthy.  When those casinos inevitably crash, we pay to cover the losses. The 2008 financial crash caused eight million American workers to lose their jobs in a matter of months due to no fault of their own. The last time we had so much money in the hands of so few was 1929!
America is headed toward the kind of plutocracy that Europeans rebelled against hundreds of years ago. The royalty owned all the land. The peasants and serfs did all the work and the plutocrats kept most of the value of that work ( capital). Conservatism and libertarianism is leading most Americans back to being peasants answerable to our overlords. Is that what the Founders wanted for America. Is that why we fought two world wars.

Private Wall Street Companies Caused The Financial Crisis — Not Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Or The Community Reinvestment Act

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ABC News and conservative poopyheads sensationalizes government loans to electric car company

ABC News and conservative poopyheads sensationalizes government loans to electric car company

"A key question, experts and investigators say, is whether another Solyndra is in the offing," according to an ABC News story about an electric car manufacturer that got a federal loan guarantee but is building its cars in Finland.

However, as Media Matters points out, the article includes, but sort of buries, the information that the U.S. government loan guarantee was for work that's being done here:

    Henrik Fisker said the U.S. money has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that went to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive.

That's been done in consultation with the Energy Department, which made the loans and which issued a statement saying:

    Fisker’s loan has two parts. In the first part, Fisker used $169 million to support the engineers who developed the tools, equipment and manufacturing processes for Fisker’s first vehicle, the Fisker Karma. That work was done Fisker’s U.S. facilities, including its headquarters in Irvine, California which has 700 employees and plans to continue hiring. While the vehicles themselves are being assembled in Fisker’s existing overseas facility, the Department’s funding was only used for the U.S. operations. The money could not be, and was not, spent on overseas operations. The Karma also relies on an extensive network of hundreds of suppliers in more than a dozen U.S. states.

    The larger portion of the loan -- $359 million – is supporting the production of Fisker’s Nina vehicles. Fisker is using this funding to bring a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware back to life and employing more than 2,500 workers. Fisker was attracted to this site in part by the opportunity to rehire some of the trained, dedicated workers who lost their jobs when that plant closed.

It would be far better, of course, if the 500 jobs that are currently in Finland were in the United States right now. But the government money that Fisker received appears to have gone to support research and manufacturing in the U.S., as it was supposed to. And Fisker appears to be on the path to create substantially more jobs here. The development of an electric car industry with government support is a story worth reporting, but ABC's Solyndra-centric framing and attention-grabbing headline are misleading.

Fisker is an on the edge of innovation company. Can they make high to medium high end luxury cars that will appeal to people who now drive Mercedes and BMWs and the answer seems to be yes. Which is probably the big reason conservatives are hoping they fail.

Herman Cain’s ‘Model’ SCOTUS Justice Is An Ethical Trainwreck, Thinks Child Labor Laws Are Unconstitutional

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Democracy Under Attack By Conservative Republicans -The Year of Voter Suppression

Democracy Under Attack By Conservative Republicans -The Year of Voter Suppression

From new photo ID requirements to permanently disenfranchising citizens with past felony convictions to ending same-day registration, many states have introduced bills and passed legislation this year that will put in place obstacles that make it significantly harder for millions of people to vote in 2012. Five million, in fact, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, an institute that focuses on issues such as voting rights and campaign reform.

In a report on the voting law changes the authors, Wendy R. Weiser and Lawrence Norden, write:

    Ahead of the 2012 elections, a wave of legislation tightening restrictions on voting has suddenly swept across the country. More than five million Americans could be affected by the new rules already put in place this year—a number larger than the margin of victory in two of the last three presidential elections.

As writer Ari Berman points out in this video, these changes are coming “just in time for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.” While those leading the charge for voter suppression laws cry foul on charges of intentional disenfranchisement, claiming the moral high ground as warriors against voter fraud, Berman points out in a recent Rolling Stone article, “A major probe by the Justice Department between 2002 and 2007 failed to prosecute a single person for going to the polls and impersonating an eligible voter, which the anti-fraud laws are supposedly designed to stop.” He continues:

    Out of the 300 million votes cast in that period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for voter fraud – and many of the cases involved immigrants and former felons who were simply unaware of their ineligibility. A much-hyped investigation in Wisconsin, meanwhile, led to the prosecution of only .0007 percent of the local electorate for alleged voter fraud. "Our democracy is under siege from an enemy so small it could be hiding anywhere," joked Stephen Colbert.

Writing for Al Jazeera, Heather Digby Parton gives some historical context to this current state of affairs, arguing that, against the interests of the wealthy and privileged, voting rights for all Americans “was one of the great American democratic accomplishments of the 20th century.”

    In the United States, there has always been tension about the franchise, going all the way back to the beginning of the Republic. Aristocrats were afraid of it for the simple reason that it would mean the government might have to represent and defend people whose interests interfere with their own interests: to maintain their wealth and pass it down to their heirs.

    Whenever you give the vote to poor people and others who need government's protections against the predations of privilege, you are endangering that arrangement - and the privileged fight back. Conservatives are traditionally their soldiers in that battle….[Today] conservatives have been able to leverage racial resentment and a sort of perverted populism to help their wealthy benefactors keep their money.

The Brennan Center for Justice report looks to be “the first full accounting and analysis of this year's voting cutbacks” and seeing them all together—along with their possible consequences on future elections—is sobering, to say the least. It begs us to keep in mind what Utne Reader associate editor Danielle Magnuson wrote in an earlier post on this topic: “voting for our leaders is not a privilege but a sacred right. A disenfranchised person’s vote has the same weight as that of a wealthy and powerful person—and that’s the way it should remain.” Unfortunately, many in charge around the country seem to disagree.

Where is the outrage that many students, seniors and Americans of color are the most adversely affected by these right-wing conservative laws to discourage voting, thus participation in our democracy. You certainly will not hear any outrage from conservatives who have never had much respect for small r- republicanism - the concern for the individual and their rights. Conservatives, like every despotic movement in history thinks political power is best left in the hands of the ruling elite. 

Record number of deportations still not enough for anti-immigration zealots. The Obama administration kicked out 400,000 people this year, satisfying no one and winning no support for reform

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why Are Those Ordinary Working Class OWS Protesters So Upset?

Why Are Those Ordinary Working Class OWS Protesters So Upset? by Glenn Greenwald

I’m preparing for my book tour and book release beginning next week, on October 25 (details for which I’ll post shortly). But in thinking about the book’s main argument in relation to the OWS protests, one point that I think becomes clear is that growing wealth and income inequality, by itself, would not spark massive protests if there were a perception that the top 1% (more accurately thought of as the top .1%) had acquired their gains honestly and legitimately. Americans in particular have been inculcated for decades with the belief that even substantial outcome inequality is acceptable (even desirable) provided that it is the by-product of fairly applied rules. What makes this inequality so infuriating (aside from the human suffering it is generating) is precisely that it is illegitimate: it is caused and bolstered by decisively unfair application of laws and rules, by undemocratic control of the political process by the nation’s oligarchs, and by a full-scale shield of immunity that allows them — and only them — to engage in the most egregious corruption and even criminality without any consequence (other than a further entrenching of their prerogatives and ill-gotten gains).

Anyone who expressed difficulty seeing or understanding what motivates these protests revealed many things about themselves. None is flattering.

The rest at the link. Do some of the protesters seem to go too far. Think of it this way. You have a family composed of pretty good folks, but some of them get a little too upset or too emotional or dress funny or whatever their eccentricity is, that doesn't mean they are bad people or that they're wrong. The same is true for the OWS protesters. Don't fall for that old special interests.powers that be trick of letting a few eccentric apples define the greater whole.

    Republican Jobs Plan? Same As It Ever Was

That the Senate Republicans' ersatz plan is a merely a repackaging of a years-old Republican wish list is apparent from the description on John McCain's web site. It's not merely a litany of existing GOP legislation; the call for upper class tax cuts, cutting federal regulations and tort reform could have come straight out of George W. Bush's 2000 campaign playbook. And the demands for steep spending cuts, a balanced budget amendment, 25% tax rates for individuals and corporations and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act are just a copy and paste from the Republicans' Ryan budget, the GOP "Pledge to America", the Tea Party "Contract from America" and other recent conservative manifestoes mercifully consigned to the dustbin of history.

Of course, if you think you've heard this story before, that's because you have.

It has been these very same conservative economic prescriptions which lead to the great recession. Conservatives are now telling America that if you bang your heads against the wall one more time, this time the results will be different. If tax cuts alone lead to economic heaven we'd all be swimming in gold by now.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The 53 Percent Are Just Lazy Delusional Conservatives Who Believe They Alone Pay For Everything

The 53 Percent Are Just Lazy Delusional Conservatives Who Believe They Alone Pay For Everything

A new NBC/ Wall Street Journal poll finds that among those with an opinion, twice as many Americans support the Occupy Wall Street Movement than oppose it. The movement -- with its defining message of standing with the 99 percent of Americans who don't have lobbyists working for them – appears to have tapped into a deep vein of discontent among working people whose economic security has been savaged by decades of upward redistribution of the nation's wealth.

The right, in keeping with its habitual knee-jerk defense of the privileged, has tried, with little success so far, to push back on that message. And its response offers us a microcosmic view of everything that's wrong with conservative discourse these days.

Their answer – or one of them – is a Tumblr account called We Are the 53%, an unimaginitive take-off of Occupy Wall Street's We Are the 99%. And here's what makes it such a perfect representation of modern conservatism: it's based on an egregious lie spun by the movement's leaders, and it puts those who are sufficiently gullible – or ignorant – to believe that lie in a position of fighting hard against their own economic interests.

The site is the brain-child of Erick Erickson, a toxic right-wing idiot hired by CNN in a futile attempt to deflect conservative charges of “liberal bias.” Erickson says he works three jobs – as others have noted, these include blogger, cable news pundit and talk-radio host – and his own entry notes that he can't sell his house and faces sky-high health insurance costs. “Suck it up you whiners,” he then adds, “I am the 53% subsidizing you so you can hang out on Wall Street and complain.”

The lie Erickson offers is simple. The 53% refers to a popular and wholly dishonest right-wing talking-point: that only 53 percent of American families pay taxes.

That's based on the fact that after 3 decades of stagnant wages -- and a series of changes to the tax code that were quite popular with Republicans -- about half of the population doesn't pay federal income taxes (it's actually 49 percent, so it should be called We Are the 51%, but when you're as wrong as Erickson, you might as well go all-in).

But federal income taxes represent just 22.7 percent of the government's revenues – it's a small piece of the pie. Payroll taxes also provide about a fifth of government revenues, so it would be like saying that hedge fund managers pay zero taxes because they don't pay that one type of tax (they do, however, get a sweet deal compared to the rest of us).

The reality is that when you consider all taxes, everyone making between $20,000 and $500,000 per year – the vast majority of the population – pay a tax rate of between 35 and 45.6 percent of their incomes, according to a study by Boston University economists Laurence J. Kotlikoff and David Rapson. So Erickson, and those who buy his pitch, are subsidizing nobody.

Many hard-working Americans pay no federal income taxes. According to an analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CPBB), 70 percent of those who fall beneath the income cut-off have jobs. A “traditional” family of four can earn up to $51,000 per year and not pay federal income taxes.

CPBB also notes that many of these families have long paid federal income taxes. The low current figure “is an anomaly that reflects the unique circumstances” of this dismal economy, a time “when the recession greatly swelled the number of Americans with low incomes and when temporary tax cuts created by the 2009 Recovery Act — including the 'Making Work Pay' tax credit and an exclusion from tax of the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits — were in effect.”

Another 17 percent are seniors who busted their tails during their working year, paid their taxes and are now collecting Social Security. The remaining 13 percent are students, disabled people and the unemployed. To suggest that all of these Americans are “leeches” being “subsidized” by the 51 percent who are doing well enough to pay federal income taxes right now is simply loathesome.

But it's also tragic. As Gawker's Max Read put it, what makes Erickson's project “so heartbreaking isn't that its contributors are enormous jerks—it's that so many of them could just as easily be writing in to We Are the 99 Percent.”

BLOCKQUOTE: Like the guy on the left, who can "barely afford" his rent. Or the "former marine" in the center who hasn't had "4 consecutive days off in 4 years." The phrase "I don't have health insurance" pops up frequently on "We Are the 53%," but not as a cry for help or an indictment of a broken system. Here, it's a badge of pride.

The 53% seems to be composed of the same tea baggers who were screaming Obama and the government to keep their hands off their Medicare - you know that socialized government health care program. They don't know anything, will not listen and thus there will be no honest debates.

The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America

NYPD Arrests Woman For Closing Her Citibank Account (VIDEO)

California Medical Assn. calls for legalization of marijuana

Fannie-Backwards - How did Gretchen Morgenson, one of America's best financial reporters, get the story of Fannie Mae's role in the financial collapse so wrong?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lying Republican Scumbag of The Week - Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) Lied About When and What He Knew About Fast and Furious

Lying Republican Scumbag of The Week -  Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) Lied About When and What He Knew About Fast and Furious

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said this week that he was "never" briefed about what was going on in Operation Fast and Furious and that ATF agents who ran an April 2010 briefing he attended "never mentioned 'Fast and Furious' by name."

That contradicts contemporaneous documents prepared for that meeting as well as the claims of officials familiar with the briefing, who say Fast and Furious was, in fact, discussed in detail. Still, Issa's office says staffers at the meeting don't recall Fast and Furious coming up and say they weren't given the briefing materials.

An official with knowledge of the meeting told TPM that Fast and Furious was one of "several cases that were briefed in great detail" at Issa's April 2010 briefing. The official specifically said that the names of the operations were mentioned in the briefing, which was run by former ATF Director Ken Melson.

"Specifically with regard to this investigation, what was briefed was the number of weapons that had been purchased, the types of weapons, caliber, the amount of cash that had been spent by the traffickers, the different techniques that ATF was using to investigate and the different techniques that ATF was using to further the investigation," the official told TPM.

The official told TPM that ATF briefers talked about straw purchasers, the fact that guns had gone to Mexico and been recovered in Mexico, coordination efforts between ATF and Mexico in the case and the volume of weapons that were being purchased by individuals during the briefing Issa attended.

Documents prepared by ATF officials for Issa's briefing back up that narrative, detailing specific developments in Operation Fast and Furious.

....That officials in Washington differ in their recollections of an 18-month-old briefing wouldn't be entirely surprising, or indeed always news. In fact, TPM obtained some of the documents about the meeting back in June (before the Washington Post published their own account in which a source familiar with the session said Issa was briefed on everything he'd "been screaming about") but at the time elected not to publish a story about them because at the time the dispute was about the facts of the case, not the content of the meeting.

The proto-fascist conservative blogs and pundits from Michelle Malkin to Fox News have been lying, twisting and fabricating nonsense about Fast and Furious, and Attorney General Eric Holder for months. It has simply been the fanatcal right-wing attempts to crucify another Obama administration official. As usual conservatism continues to be the enemy within. Conservatives constitute a Fifth column of anti-American zealots who hide their perverse values behind the flag and frequently the Bible - they have no shame.The almost comic irony here is that the deeply corrupt Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is House Oversight Committee Chairman.

O'Reilly Promotes Bogus Soros Connection To Denigrate The 99 Percent Movement

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why Have OWS protesters been attacked? Who Really Owns The NYPD? Turns Out It's Not Such A Rhetorical Question

Why Have OWS protesters been attacked? Who Really Owns The NYPD? Turns Out It's Not Such A Rhetorical Question

I wrote last week about the multi-million dollar contribution to the NYPD from JPChase, but it turns out the corporate influence goes much deeper than that. Pam Martens, an activist who successfully sued the NYPD after her arrest for handing out leaflets about corruption at Citibank, tells us a lot of things we didn't know about the relationship between the NYPD and Wall Street, and it's jawdropping information:

    If you’re a Wall Street behemoth, there are endless opportunities to privatize profits and socialize losses beyond collecting trillions of dollars in bailouts from taxpayers. One of the ingenious methods that has remained below the public’s radar was started by the Rudy Giuliani administration in New York City in 1998. It’s called the Paid Detail Unit and it allows the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly charged with crimes, to order up a flank of New York’s finest with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on rye.

    The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.

    New York City gets a 10 percent administrative fee on top of the $37 per hour paid to the police. The City’s 2011 budget called for $1,184,000 in Paid Detail fees, meaning private corporations were paying wages of $11.8 million to police participating in the Paid Detail Unit. The program has more than doubled in revenue to the city since 2002.

    The taxpayer has paid for the training of the rent-a-cop, his uniform and gun, and will pick up the legal tab for lawsuits stemming from the police personnel following illegal instructions from its corporate master. Lawsuits have already sprung up from the program.

Apparently the city doesn't bother to insure the NYPD for liability, saying it's cheaper to shell out for settlements. (Here's a guy who was strong-armed by those private detail cops for daring to attempt to use the bathroom during a 9/11 tribute at a Yankees game. Wonder how much that cost the city? In the past decade, the NYPD has paid almost a billion dollars in legal settlements.)

    When the program was first rolled out, one insightful member of the NYPD posted the following on a forum: “… regarding the officer working for, and being paid by, some of the richest people and organizations in the City, if not the world, enforcing the mandates of the private employer, and in effect, allowing the officer to become the Praetorian Guard of the elite of the City. And now corruption is no longer a problem. Who are they kidding?”

    [...] When the infamously mismanaged Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers, collapsed on September 15, 2008, its bankruptcy filings in 2009 showed it owed money to 21 members of the NYPD’s Paid Detail Unit. (A phone call and email request to the NYPD for information on which Wall Street firms participate in the program were not responded to. The police unions appear to have only scant information about the program.)

    Other Wall Street firms that are known to have used the Paid Detail include Goldman Sachs, the World Financial Center complex which houses financial firms, and the New York Stock Exchange.

    [...] On September 8, 2004, Robert Britz, then President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of the New York Stock Exchange, testified as follows to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services:

    “…we have implemented new hiring standards requiring former law enforcement or military backgrounds for the security staff…We have established a 24-hour NYPD Paid Detail monitoring the perimeter of the data centers…We have implemented traffic control and vehicle screening at the checkpoints. We have installed fixed protective planters and movable vehicle barriers.”

    Military backgrounds; paid NYPD 24-7; checkpoints; vehicle barriers? It might be insightful to recall that the New York Stock Exchange originally traded stocks with a handshake under a Buttonwood tree in the open air on Wall Street.

    In his testimony, the NYSE executive Britz states that “we” did this or that while describing functions that clearly belong to the City of New York. The New York Stock Exchange at that time had not yet gone public and was owned by those who had purchased seats on the exchange – primarily, the largest firms on Wall Street. Did the NYSE simply give itself police powers to barricade streets and set up checkpoints with rented cops? How about clubbing protesters on the sidewalk?

    [...] Police Commissioner Ray Kelly may also have a soft spot for Wall Street. He was formerly Senior Managing Director of Global Corporate Security at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., the Wall Street firm that collapsed into the arms of JPMorgan in March of 2008.

    There has also been a bizarre revolving door between the Wall Street millionaires and the NYPD at times. One of the most puzzling career moves was made by Stephen L. Hammerman. He left a hefty compensation package as Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2002 to work as Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters for the NYPD from 2002 to 2004. That move had everyone on Wall Street scratching their head at the time. Merrill collapsed into the arms of Bank of America on September 15, 2008, the same date that Lehman went under.

    Wall Street is not the only sector renting cops in Manhattan. Department stores, parks, commercial banks and landmarks like Rockefeller Center, Jacob Javits Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral have also participated in the Paid Detail Unit, according to insiders. But Wall Street is the only sector that runs a private justice system where its crimes are herded off to secret arbitration tribunals, has sucked on the public teat to the tune of trillions of dollars, escaped prosecution for the financial collapse, and can put an armed municipal force on the sidewalk to intimidate public protestors seeking a realignment of their democracy.

    We may be learning a lot more in the future about the tactics Wall Street and the NYPD have deployed against the Occupy Wall Street protestors. The highly regarded Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has filed a class action lawsuit over the approximately 700 arrests made on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1. The formal complaint and related information is available at the organization’s web site,

    The organization was founded by Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. The Washington Post has called them “the constitutional sheriffs for a new protest generation.”

    The suit names Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, the City of New York, 30 unnamed members of the NYPD, and, provocatively, 10 unnamed law enforcement officers not employed by the NYPD:

        Defendants JOHN or JANE DOES 31 - 40 are unidentified law enforcement officials, officers or agents who, although not employed by the NYPD, did engage in joint action with the NYPD and its officials, officers and agents to cause the mass false arrest of the plaintiff class.

    I contacted Martens for clarification. She said the attorneys seem to believe the FBI and/or Secret Service may have had a presence in or around the protest. Martens has also filed a "sunshine" request under NY state laws to see how many of the 30 NYPD referenced in the lawsuit were working for Wall Street that day.

Most cops are decent hard working Americans, but this would not be the first time that wealthy private interests have paid the police to be on their side. The irony will come when the NYPD union goes on strike and they need the support of these same protesters.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why Steve Jobs Was A Good Capitalist and Wall Street Are Bad Capitalists

Steve Jobs, Occupy Wall Street, and the Capitalist Ideal

The Occupy Wall Street movement has reopened a fundamental debate about capitalism and the role of government, and the death of Steve Jobs clarifies some of the questions at stake. For the right, Jobs and Apple serve as the handiest metaphor for the genius of the private sector (and the failure of government). Mitt Romney likes to wave around his iPhone, a metaphor for capitalism, and accuse President Obama of employing a “pay phone strategy,” a metaphor for government.

National Review deputy managing editor Kevin Williamson likewise counterposes the brilliance of Apple with the ugliness of government:

    I was down at the Occupy Wall Street protest today, and never has the divide between the iPhone world and the politics world been so clear: I saw a bunch of people very well-served by their computers and telephones (very often Apple products) but undeniably shortchanged by our government-run cartel education system. And the tragedy for them — and for us — is that they will spend their energy trying to expand the sphere of the ineffective, hidebound, rent-seeking, unproductive political world, giving the Barney Franks and Tom DeLays an even stronger whip hand over the Steve Jobses and Henry Fords. And they — and we — will be poorer for it.
    And to the kids camped out down on Wall Street: Look at the phone in your hand. Look at the rat-infested subway. Visit the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, then visit a housing project in the South Bronx. Which world do you want to live in?

Personally, I want to live in a world in which it is possible to ride the subway down to the Apple Store. Preferably without stepping over the bodies of people dying of easily treatable diseases for lack of insurance.

Is that such a difficult concept? Apparently it is. The liberal vision of modified capitalism has always been flanked on both sides by a right and a left that agree that capitalism is indivisible. The socialists and the free market absolutists agree that it’s all or nothing — if you object to the worst features of capitalism, you object to all of capitalism, and we must keep it all or scrap it.

It’s currently an open question whether Occupy Wall Street will ultimately take the form of an anti-capitalist movement. There is a long, grim history of left-wing movements being hijacked by their most radical elements, which are usually the most organized and fanatical. For one example of this hijacking, take a gander at this “collective statement” from the protestors in Zuccotti Park. It’s filled with Marxist drivel. (“They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. … They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media. … They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.”) The point is that corporations are responsible for all the world's ills, and the only conclusion is that we must do away with them all.

On the other hand, the intellectual influences most apparent in the movement are those of advocates of regulated capitalism, like Joe Stiglitz. There is a reason the movement is called “Occupy Wall Street,” not “Occupy Main Street” or “Occupy Silicon Valley.” It is no doubt because most of the participants, or sympathizers, understand that Wall Street is not the same thing as free enterprise — that it is one element that, unlike Apple, poses a unique threat to the functioning of the free marketplace.

If you define the problem as “corporations,” then you lose the capacity to make these distinctions. For an example of this same analytic trap on the right, return to another bit from Williamson’s National Review essay:

    The beauty of capitalism — the beauty of the iPhone world as opposed to the world of politics — is that that question does not matter one little bit. Whatever drove Jobs, it drove him to create superior products, better stuff at better prices. Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates. Those who talk about the horror of putting profits over people make no sense at all. The phrase is without intellectual content. Perhaps you do not think that Apple, or Goldman Sachs, or a professional sports enterprise, or an internet pornographer actually creates much social value; but markets are very democratic — everybody gets to decide for himself what he values.

Hold it right there. You see what he did? He made capitalism indivisible again. We were nodding our heads at the way Apple and sports teams and Internet porn fulfills the basic free-market model, offering consumers a wanted good for the market-supplied price, and Williamson snuck Goldman Sachs onto the list. The whole liberal argument is that Goldman Sachs is not like those other things. It is not a case of one person selling a gadget to another person, with nobody else impacted. It creates externalities. One person sells a financial product to another person, and soon we have systemic risk affecting hundreds of millions of people who are not party to the transaction.

That is why we have millions of jobless, and millions more struggling to survive. There are measures to address that problem, which would also allow corporations to reap enormous profits. Will Occupy Wall Street, as a movement, understand this?

 There are many reasons Wall Street bankrupted the country. One of them is because they are modeled on the crony capitalism model that makes conservatives and right-wing libertarians drool at the mouth. Wall Street did not pause to do what was right or moral, they acted like conservatives and right-wing libertarians, only asking themselves if what they were doing with the nations' wealth would make them richer.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Despite Insisting Wisconsin Was ‘Broke,’ Gov. Scott Walker Spent $60,000 On iPads

Despite Insisting Wisconsin Was ‘Broke,’ Gov. Scott Walker Spent $60,000 On iPads

Despite Insisting State Was ‘Broke,’ Gov. Scott Walker Spent $60,000 On iPads | Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) infamously used his state’s budget gap as pretext to strip collective bargaining rights from public sector workers, insisting that “Wisconsin is broke” and thus extraordinarily measures were required. But the state is apparently not that broke, as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. just dropped “about $60,000? on brand new iPads for every person on their staff, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Actually, they bought more than enough, purchasing 73 tablets for only 63 employees (they say the are in the middle of hiring more people). The agency is a public-private hybrid, but a spokesperson said the iPads were purchased with state dollars.

Sure, like 99% of conservatives Walker is a raging lying hypocrites. The larger point is that like most conservatives Walker has nothing but contempt for common decency and good governance.

If anyone was curious about the poster you can buy it here - It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - by Tom Whalen

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Are Conservative Republicans Out to Ban Birth Control

Are Conservative Republicans Out to Ban Birth Control

First they came for abortion, but I didn’t care because abortion was for sluts. Then they came for sex ed, but I didn’t care because the kids can learn all they need to know at home. Then they came for birth control, but… Wait a minute! Birth control? They’re coming for birth control? I need that! For nearly a decade prochoicers have been warning that abortion foes were gearing up to go after contraception, but the possibility of losing birth control was too far-out for most people to take seriously. And you know prochoicers—they’re always crying wolf. Well, wake up, sleepyheads, it’s happening.

After the Senate rejected a House attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, Republican Representative Cliff Stearns, chair of the energy and commerce subcommittee, demanded that PP turn over reams of documents going back twenty years. The official purpose was to see if PP’s abortion services, which cannot receive federal funds, are sufficiently segregated from its contraceptive and other health services, which do receive federal dollars. Since Republicans believe this separation is impossible—money is fungible, and all that, except when it goes to a church for supposedly nonsectarian social services—who knows what Stearns and Co. will decide counts as evidence?

Meanwhile, House Republicans continue their attempts to ban federal support for PP, this time through a draft bill on agency funding that would also completely defund Title X, the government’s main family-planning program. Title X, which provides family planning services to more than 5 million mostly low-income people each year, has nothing to do with abortion, which kind of proves that the “fungibility” issue is just a fig leaf. (Bill supporter and Tea Party Caucus member Denny Rehberg, a Montana Republican who opposes raising taxes on the wealthy—did I mention that he’s the twenty-fourth-richest member of Congress?—claims that zeroing out birth control funds for poor women is necessary to lower the deficit. Because what could be cheaper than babies?)

As is so often the case in the war on abortion, the most damaging action is in the states. GOP-led governments have voted to cut or eliminate PP funding in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas and New Jersey. Yes, New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie, hero of Republicans who also happen to be sane, eliminated the state’s $7.5 million budget for family planning. And yes, Texas, where Governor Rick “N-wordhead” Perry slashed family planning funds from $111.5 million to $37.9 million. Meanwhile, since you can always find money for the things you really want, he boosted aid to antichoice crisis pregnancy centers to $8.3 million.

Federal judges have forced North Carolina, Kansas and Indiana to drop their plans, and the federal government is picking up the tab in New Hampshire. Poor women in New Jersey, Wisconsin and Texas are out of luck. You can see which way the tides are running. Note the geographic diversity: defunding contraception isn’t just a Bible Belt specialty anymore.

Speaking of the Bible Belt, Mississippians will be voting next month on Ballot Initiative #26, which would amend the state Constitution by redefining “person” to “include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof.” If passed, the amendment would ban all abortion, possibly even to save the woman’s life. It could also ban?in vitro fertilization and the most popular and effective methods of birth control: some forms of the Pill and the IUD, as well as the morning-after pill. Never mind that as many as half of all fertilized eggs never implant in the womb (implantation is the actual medical definition of pregnancy, although you’d never know it these days). Hold on, blastocysts! In a few short weeks, you may be Mississippians, bona fide citizens of the state with the highest rate of unplanned pregnancy in the country. Whether from conviction or fear or a little bit of both, plenty of state Democratic politicians support #26 .

Would #26 really ban the Pill? Personhood USA president Keith Mason is cagey: “Certainly women, my wife included, would want to know if the pills they’re taking would kill a unique human individual,” he told NPR. Of course, there’s nothing to prevent women, his wife included, from switching to diaphragms or prayer if they suspect their contraception makes their wombs inhospitable to four-celled Mississippians. You don’t need a law to let Jesus pick your birth control. But letting women decide? That would be so… prochoice.

Coloradans rejected personhood amendments in 2008 and 2010, but Mississippi could be the charm. Either way, Personhood USA says it plans to have similar amendments on the ballot in half the states by 2012. So add that to the Catholic Bishops’ ongoing fight against the decision to have the Affordable Care Act provide contraception with no co-pays—it’s not enough that religious organizations can deny this lifesaving boon to their employees; the bishops want all women to be deprived. And don’t forget threats to require parental consent for teens to get birth control or treatment for STDs. Such a measure was proposed in Arizona in 2010 and in Maine in the spring—both failed. But that legislators are even entertaining the thought is cause for alarm.

Back on Earth, unplanned pregnancies have risen from 47 to 49 percent of all pregnancies. Apparently the anticontraception crowd won’t be happy until it’s 100 percent.

by Katha Pollitt. Reprinted for educational purposes.

And so it goes. The late Supreme Court Justice William Douglas warned that our freedoms would not be taken from us overnight, but slowly, in pieces at a time. Funny how the argument over women's health issue is framed. Only by giving control of women's bodies to the government can they truly be free - and this from the laughable small government movement called conservatism.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top 5 Reasons Why The Occupy Wall Street Protests Might Work To Make The Lives of Every American Better

Top 5 Reasons Why The Occupy Wall Street Protests Might Work To Make The Lives of Every American Better

2011: Demonstrators stage civil disobedience protests against corporate control of America. 1773: Protester boards an East India Trading Company ship, dumps tea.
In recent years, the Boston Tea Party has been associated with a right-wing movement that supports policies favoring powerful corporations and the wealthy. As ThinkProgress has reported, lobbyists and Republican front groups have driven the current manifestation of the Tea Party to push for giveaways to oil companies and big businesses.

However, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations picking up momentum across the country better embody the values of the original Boston Tea Party. In the late 18th century, the British government became deeply entwined with the interests of the East India Trading Company, a massive conglomerate that counted British aristocracy as shareholders. Americans, upset with a government that used the colonies to enrich the East India Trading Company, donned Native American costumes and boarded the ships belonging to the company and destroyed the company’s tea. In the last two weeks, as protesters have gathered from New York to Los Angeles to protest corporate domination over American politics, a true Tea Party movement may be brewing:

    1.) The Original Boston Tea Party Was A Civil Disobedience Action Against A Private Corporation. In 1773, agitators blocked the importation of tea by East India Trading Company ships across the country. In Boston harbor, a band of protesters led by Samuel Adams boarded the corporation’s ships and dumped the tea into the harbor. No East India Trading Company employees were harmed, but the destruction of the company’s tea is estimated to be worth up to $2 million in today’s money. The Occupy Wall Street protests have targeted big banks like Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, as well as multinational corporations like GE with sit-ins and peaceful rallies.

    2.) The Original Boston Tea Party Feared That Corporate Greed Would Destroy America. As Professor Benjamin Carp has argued, colonists perceived the East India Trading Company as a “fearsome monopolistic company that was going to rob them blind and pave the way maybe for their enslavement.” A popular pamphlet called The Alarm agitated for a revolt against the East India Trading Company by warning that the British corporation would devastate America just as it had devastated South Asian colonies: “Their Conduct in Asia, for some Years past, has given simple Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights, Liberties, or Lives of Men. [...] And these not being sufficient to glut their Avarice, they have, by the most unparalleled Barbarities, Extortions, and Monopolies, stripped the miserable Inhabitants of their Property, and reduced whole Provinces to Indigence and Ruin.”

    3.) The Original Boston Tea Party Believed Government Necessary To Protect Against Corporate Excess. Smithsonian historian Barbara Smith has noted that Samuel Adams believed that oppression could occur when governments are too weak. As Adams explained in a Boston newspaper, government should exist “to protect the people and promote their prosperity.” Patriots behind the Tea Party revolt believed “rough economic equality was necessary to maintaining liberty,” says Smith. Occupy Wall Street protesters demand a country that invests in education, infrastructure, and jobs.

    4.) The Original Boston Tea Party Was Sparked By A Corporate Tax Cut For A British Corporation. The Tea Act, a law by the British Parliament exempting tea imported by the East India Trading Company from taxes and allowing the corporation to directly ship its tea to the colonies for sale, is credited with setting off the Boston Tea Party. The law was perceived as an effort by the British to bailout the East India Trading Company by shutting off competition from American shippers. George R.T. Hewes, one of the patriots who boarded the East India Trading Company ships and dumped the tea, told a biographer that the East India Trading Company had twisted the laws so “it was no longer the small vessels of private merchants, who went to vend tea for their own account in the ports of the colonies, but, on the contrary, ships of an enormous burthen, that transported immense quantities of this commodity.” Occupy Wall Street demands the end of corporate tax loopholes as well as the enactment of higher taxes on billionaires and millionaires.

    5.) The Original Boston Tea Party Wanted A Stronger Democracy. There is a common misconception that the Boston Tea Party was simply a revolt against taxation. The truth is much more nuanced, and there were many factors behind the opposition to the East India Company and the British government. Although the colonists resented taxes levied by a distant British Parliament, in the years preceding the Tea Party, the Massachusetts colony had levied taxes several times to pay for local services. The issue at hand was representation and government accountable to the needs of the American people. Patrick Henry and other patriots organized the revolutionary effort by claiming that legitimate laws and taxes could only be passed by legislatures elected by Americans. According to historian Benjamin Carp, the protesters in Boston perceived that the British government’s actions were set by the East India Trading Company. “As Americans learned more about the provisions of the new East India Company laws, they realized that Parliament would sooner lend a hand to the Company than the colonies,” wrote Carp.

Progressive political movements, from Martin Luther King to Mahatma Gandhi, have drawn on the original American Boston Tea Party for inspiring civil disobedience against oppression. Indeed, the very first Boston Tea Party was truly radical and faced scorn from elites and conservatives of the era.

Wall Street is the truly powerful. The protesters are just average Americans who have worked hard or want a job to work hard. While there are obviously historical precedents for the common people overcoming the entrenched establishment for economic and social justice, the odds are against the OccupyWallStreet folks. These deep pocked financial interests are what one writer called the "powers that be". No one with so much power has ever given it up easily.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) Exemplifies Obama Derangement Syndrome, Prefers Serial Killers Over President Obama

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) Exemplifies Obama Derangement Syndrome, Prefers Serial Killers Over President Obama

Bachmann To Man Who Would Vote For Serial Killer Over Obama: ‘Thank You For Saying That’ | The Los Angeles Times reports that presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) recently thanked a caller on a radio show who said he’d rather vote for infamous serial killer Charles Manson over President Obama. “Hey, thank you for saying that,” she replied. The slip-up is just the latest in a series of blunders that have hobbled Bachmann’s campaign and sent her poll numbers spiraling downwards. Interestingly, this is not even the first serial killer-related gaffe Bachmann has been caught up in. In June, she told Fox News, “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.” The John Wayne from Waterloo is John Wayne Gacy, the notorious serial killer who murdered 33 teenage boys and young men.
Most of us are partisans, but darn. While I have a low opinion of George W. Bush I would grant that he was not as bad as a serial murderer.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why Are the Republican Governors of America Saying Such Dumb Things?

Why Are the Republican Governors of America Saying Such Dumb Things?

Miriam "Ma" Ferguson was the first woman governor of Texas. Like my own dear ma, she both hailed from Bell County, deep in the heart of the state, and graduated from Mary Hardin-Baylor College (now the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the fine town of Belton, Texas, long may they wave). [Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage. (Robert F. Bukaty | AP)] Maine Republican Gov. Paul LePage. (Robert F. Bukaty | AP)

"Ma" Ferguson first was elected in 1924, just a few years after the impeachment and conviction of her husband, Governor James Edward "Pa" Ferguson, who was charged with the "misapplication" of public funds and banned from holding further office. During her campaign, "Ma" promised, "You’ll have two governors for the price of one," a pledge that may have seemed more like a threat to those Texans inclined toward a greater civic-mindedness.

Contrary to current Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry, who relishes his role as capital punishment’s Lord High Executioner, "Ma" was famous for passing out pardons. In her administration they were as common as cow chips, with some 4000 issued during her two non-consecutive terms. "Ma" claimed they were to relieve overcrowding in the prisons; others believed that many of those in custody were freed only after making pay-offs to "Pa." Those allegations helped lead to the creation of the independent Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

But I digress. Another reason that "Ma" Ferguson will go down in the history books -- the funnier ones, at least -- is the apocryphal tale that when an early attempt was made to legislate the teaching of Spanish in Texas public schools, "Ma" refused, saying that if English was good enough for the Sweet Baby Jesus, it was good enough for the schoolchildren of Texas.

Obviously, this was neither the first or last ludicrous thing that ever has been said by a state governor: a mere glance at the foolishness uttered by the several seeking – or contemplating seeking -- the GOP presidential nod reveal a race as much to the bottom of the rhetorical barrel as it is to the White House. But this week, several governors not seeking the Oval Office also revealed an uncanny gift for the goofy.

According to the Associated Press, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that forthwith, state employees are to answer official phones with a cheery, "It’s a great day in South Carolina!"

Gee whiz, that should solve everything! As AP noted,"“Never mind the state’s 11.1 percent jobless rate and the fact that one in five residents are on Medicaid." Great day indeed. Presumably, Governor Sunshine plans to accompany the next set of her state’s unemployment figures with a chorus of "We’re in the Money."

Then there’s Maine Governor Paul LePage. You may remember that in March, just a couple of months after this Tea Party favorite took office, he ordered an 11-panel mural depicting the history of unions in the state removed from the walls of Maine’s Department of Labor, claiming that it was "not in keeping with the state’s pro-business goals." While Maine’s arts community – a lively, activist group if ever there was – and others rose in protest, the governor’s story kept changing.

As described by Matt Schlobohm, executive director of the Maine AFL-CIO, "At first it was an anonymous letter citing a business person's concerns about feeling like they're in a North Korean dictatorship; then it was too anti-business, too one-sided; and now seven months later the governor has a new explanation for this. And he just keeps embarrassing us and himself in the process."

That new explanation popped up this week when NBC News’ Brian Williams asked LePage, "What do you have against organized labor?" The governor replied, "I have absolutely nothing AGAINST organized labor... My objection to the mural is simply where the money came from. The money was taken out of the unemployment insurance fund, which is dedicated to provide benefits to unemployed workers. They robbed that account to build a mural. And until they pay for it, it stays hidden."

Funny how this has never come up before now. And according to the Portland Press Herald and Alan Pyke of the progressive website Media Matters, "LePage's new line accusing the department of 'robbing' the jobless to pay for a painting is smarter politically than his clearly stated original reasoning, but state officials say that 'nobody lost any benefits to which they were entitled' according to the Press Herald. Furthermore, the federal Department of Labor actually demanded that Maine return the money used to buy the mural if it is not going to be displayed any longer...

"The Press Herald also points out that LePage's new rationale doesn't square with the case his attorneys are making in fighting lawsuits over the mural. Those attorneys 'have said the governor's actions are protected because they represented his political views.'"

As Maine goes, so goes North Carolina. On Tuesday, that state’s governor, Bev Perdue, suggested -- "My point was one of sarcasm," she now says -- that next year’s congressional elections be put on hold so that members of the House of Representatives can stay focused on economic recovery rather than reelection.

"I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years," she told a Rotary Club meeting in Cary, NC, "and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help the country recover." This set off a firestorm of criticism, and not only from state Republicans, the Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh.

As the Raleigh News & Observer reported, "When Perdue is off script, it is often an adventure;" in this case an adventure stunning in its unconstitutionality. And yet, in the manner of the proverbial stopped clock that’s right twice a day, there’s the kernel of an idea embedded in her unfortunate, off-the-cuff comments.

Perdue herself said at the beginning of her remarks, "You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on things." One way to do so, dimly related to her line of reasoning, indeed would require amending the Constitution.

Harold Meyerson writes in the current issue of The American Prospect magazine (published by Demos, where I’m a writing fellow), that a reform "that would create a more representative government would be to change the timing of elections and the terms of congressional office... If House members were given four-year terms coterminous with the president’s, they would be answerable to the same larger electorate. This, of course, would also be true of senators. These wouldn’t be parliamentary elections -- the candidates for president, senator, and representative would still be elected separately -- but at least our elected officials would all derive their power from the identical and most broadly representative electorate."

The same day as Governor Perdue’s oratory malfunction, USA Today had some other suggestions for reform: "Perhaps the most significant would change the way congressional lines are drawn, making more districts competitive and increasing the odds that centrist candidates could prevail. Revising the rules for Senate filibusters could prevent a few senators from routinely blocking action supported by a majority.

"And changing the congressional calendar could encourage legislators to build personal relationships with colleagues from the other party." Matt Bennett, of the centrist think tank Third Way, told the paper, "Much of the blame for the disconnect between the parties goes to the congressional calendar, where you have members scurrying home (to districts) on Wednesday nights or certainly by Thursday nights. They're not around on the weekends, and the demands of fundraising means they are separated from each other the minute the votes are over. They don't interact at all."

Luckily, no amount of reform will ever rid us of governors who, like kids, say the darndest things. And even if they miraculously did become error-free Solons of the republic, we’ll always have members of the House of Representatives to fill the gap. Why, just the other day, the website Talking Point Memo reported, "Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) told an audience in Illinois that he was ashamed of his state for not allowing concealed handguns, warning that they were the 'last line of defense' if Americans need to revolt against their government."

Never mind the statehouse. There’s gold up there on Capitol Hill. Comedy gold.

How do these wackos get away with their anti-American agenda. They wrap their right-wing ideology in red, white and blue and talk about God. Than they proceed to do the most Unamerican and Unchristian things. They'll stop when the American people stop putting up with being conned by conservatives who hide their anti-Americanism behind fake patriotism.