Monday, January 30, 2012

How anti-tax zealots fail to see the connection between reasonable taxes and the overall health of society

How anti-tax zealots fail to see the connection between reasonable taxes and the overall health of society

TAXES and regulation will occupy center stage in the presidential contest.

One debate, for example, will focus on whether tax cuts for the wealthiest families should expire as scheduled at year-end — an issue that could gain traction now that Mitt Romney, the possible Republican nominee, has disclosed that he and his wife paid an effective federal rate of just 13.9 percent on their huge 2010 income. And on the regulation side, there will be attempts to repeal rules like the recently adopted Environmental Protection Agency standards that limit highly toxic mercury emissions.

Surveys indicate that most voters now favor higher taxes on the rich. But many wealthy people are determined to hang on to their tax cuts, and because recent changes in campaign finance law have greatly increased their political leverage, they may prevail. If so, however, it could prove a hollow victory.

Beyond some point, there seems to be little gain in satisfaction from bolstering your private spending. When mansions grow to 15,000 square feet from 10,000, for instance, the primary effect is merely to raise the bar that defines an adequate home among the superwealthy.

By contrast, higher spending on many forms of public consumption would produce clear gains in satisfaction for the wealthy. It’s reasonable to assume, for example, that driving on well-maintained roads is safer and less stressful than driving on pothole-ridden ones.

But that raises an obvious question: If wealthy taxpayers would be happier to drive slightly less expensive vehicles on better roads, why are so many of them vehemently opposed to the higher taxes needed for improved infrastructure?

One possible explanation is that they suffer from a simple cognitive illusion when they think about how higher taxes would affect them.

If you pay higher taxes, you obviously have less money to spend on what you want. So the prospect of a tax increase naturally inclines people to think that they’ll be less able to satisfy their desires.

But once incomes rise beyond a modest absolute threshold, many of the things that people want are what economists call positional goods. These may be things that are inherently in short supply, like gorgeous waterfront property; or things whose value depends heavily on context, like precious stones or sure-footed sports cars. Because positional goods are in short supply, they go to the highest bidders. The tendency to overlook that fact distorts how people think about the effects of higher taxes.

The cognitive illusion occurs because most financial setbacks that people experience in life stem from events that affect them alone. They may suffer health emergencies, for instance, or problems at work. Marriages may fail, jewelry may be stolen, and floods may damage homes. In each case, the effect is to limit the ability to bid for positional goods.

Because an overwhelming majority of financial setbacks occur for such idiosyncratic reasons, it’s natural to think that the income decline from higher taxes would have similar effects. But a tax increase is different. It affects all participants in the bidding for positional goods. And because it leaves everyone with less to spend, it has essentially no effect on the outcomes of those contests. The same paintings and the same marina slips end up in the same hands as before.

Context shapes demand not just for the wealthy, but also for consumers further down the income scale. As Adam Smith observed more than two centuries ago, for example, a linen shirt is not, strictly speaking, a necessity of life. The wealthiest ancient Greeks, for example, lived satisfying lives without any linen at all. But Smith noted that in 18th-century Scotland, even the lowliest laborer couldn’t appear in public without shame unless he owned a linen shirt, “the want of which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty, which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad conduct.”

If what people feel they need depends on what others spend, the same cognitive illusion that affects wealthy Americans’ attitudes toward taxes creates a more general bias against government. Opponents of workplace safety regulation, for example, often denounce the lower wages made necessary by its cost. For families already struggling to make ends meet, that objection resonates.

But safety regulation requires an across-the-board decline in wages, which is much less painful than one that occurs in isolation. Once absolute incomes exceed a certain threshold, lower wages are easily tolerated when they don’t entail relative disadvantage. Additional safety, bought collectively, entails a less onerous sacrifice than it does when an individual buys it for himself.

The tax and regulatory issues in the coming election are clearly important. Millions of workers will retire over the next two decades, so spending cuts alone can’t eliminate deficits. We need additional revenue, too. And as population density increases, we can’t prevent dangerous environmental spillovers without intelligent regulation.

It would be one thing if lobbying against taxes and regulation brought wealthy Americans a world more to their liking. But if their goal is to buy a home with a more spectacular view, for example, they will be disappointed. There are only so many such homes to go around, and they’ll be bought by the very same people as before, since everyone will be bidding more.

So when the anti-tax wealthy make campaign contributions, they are buying only the deeper potholes and dirtier air that inevitably result when tax revenue is low. (reprinted here for educational purposes)

** People that hate taxes generally have an anti-American agenda. 1. They want a free ride( anti-tax conservatives like Grover Norquist for instance, formerly a far left socialist is a leech on society 2. They want all the infrastructure taxes pay for but do not want to pay their sahre. 3. They say if you want to pay higher taxes go ahead. Though they will continue to use what other tax payers paid for. 4. Right-wing conservative Republicans do not see the connection betwen paying for things like basic science resrch, their own health and the economic opportunites created by that research. 5. Low taxes equals poor education. No society in the history of the world has maintained its technological or economic edge by letting its public primary education and university system fall behind other nations. Another reason to say without doubt that anti-taxers are anti-America.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is it 2012 or 1968. You Can Hardly Tell By The Conservative Republican Candidates and Their Race Baiting

Is it 2012 or 1968. You Can Hardly Tell By The Conservative Republican Candidates and Their Race Baiting

It’s commonplace to note that Newt Gingrich’s dog-whistle appellation that Barack Obama is the “food stamp president” is both racist and politically cynical. But the stereotyping of black government dependency also serves the strategic end of discrediting the entire social safety net, which most Americans of all races depend on. Black people are subtly demonized, but whites and blacks alike will suffer.

Gingrich persists because it’s a dependable applause line, and because his political fortunes keep rising. Compare that to September, when Mitt Romney attacked then-candidate Rick Perry for calling Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.” Perry backtracked, insisting that he only wanted to bolster the program and ensure its solvency. But in his 2010 book “Fed Up,” Perry made his opposition to Social Security clear, calling it “a crumbling monument to the failure of the New Deal.” Scrapping entitlements is a core tenet of contemporary fiscal conservatism, but most of the time politicians only get away with attacking the most vulnerable ones: Medicaid, food stamps and welfare cash assistance, which are means-tested and thus associated with the black (read: undeserving) poor, although whites make up a far greater share of food stamp recipients. Government welfare programs with Teflon political defenses — Medicare and Social Security — are nearly universal entitlements and thus associated with “regular” (read: white) Americans.

“Ending welfare as we know it,” as Bill Clinton and congressional Republicans did in 1996, is one thing. “Ending Medicare,” Republicans were last year reminded, is something else altogether. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” declared a 2009 Tea Party town hall attendee who today might very well be an ardent supporter of Gingrich’s assault on food stamps. It is a political lesson that free-market fundamentalists have to relearn with some frequency. It was only 2005,  after all, when President George W. Bush launched his ill-fated proposal to privatize Social Security — a setback he later called his greatest failure.

Yet as more government programs of any sort are framed as pernicious, laissez-faire ideologues are again emboldened to get rid of everything.

As recently as November 2009, the New York Times reported that stigma around food stamps had faded; the program received strong bipartisan support as millions of newly impoverished Americans reached out for food assistance. But temporarily cautious politicians had only stashed the old playbook on the top shelf, and the revival of welfare queen demagoguery made for quick political results. Nationwide, state legislatures are moving to impose drug testing of welfare, and even unemployment insurance, recipients.

“If you go apply for a job today, you are generally going to be drug-tested,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said in October 2010. “The people that are working are paying the taxes for people on welfare. Shouldn’t the welfare people be held to the same standard?”

And and then came the push for cuts. Few noticed in April  2011 when House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., proposed cutting $127 billion from the food stamp program. The same went for the proposed dismantling of Medicaid, the healthcare entitlement for the nation’s poorest, which would be transformed into a block grant to the states with no coverage requirements.  Everyone was focused on Ryan’s audacious proposal to privatize Medicare, and conservative pundits were eager to sink the popular entitlement under the banner of pragmatic fiscal seriousness. “The Ryan budget,” David Brooks wrote at the time, “will put all future arguments in the proper context: The current welfare state is simply unsustainable and anybody who is serious, on left or right, has to have a new vision of the social contract.”

Republicans quickly backtracked. But the effort to dismantle the “poor black people” entitlements continues unabated. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett this month announced that people under 60 with more than $2,000 in savings or other assets — cars and homes generally excluded, savings very much included — will be barred from receiving food stamps. The move elicited widespread criticism from anti-hunger advocates but little concerted political resistance. Corbett’s administration also cut 88,000 Pennsylvania children from Medicaid.

But politicians have more trouble getting away with criticism of less stigmatized benefits. Corbett suggested on the campaign trail that “The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there.” Democrats pounced and he rushed to issue a clarification, though a  conservative think tank eagerly backed up his original position.

Unemployment benefits, however, are on the political cusp: Once somewhat invincible like Social Security and Medicare, some states have made cuts amid the campaign of stigmatization.  In South Carolina, state-funded jobless benefits were reduced from 26 to 20 weeks. Republican state Sen. Kevin Bryant blogged, “I’m disappointed that we have a significant segment of our society leeching [off] the system.” Arkansas, Missouri, Michigan and Florida have also reduced benefits. Yet it was just two months ago that Republicans suffered their greatest embarrassment of 2011 after nearly blocking the extension of unemployment benefits.

Welfare was “reformed” in 1996 because politicians, and many white Americans, were convinced  the program’s beneficiaries weren’t meritorious. Indeed, the entire history of  the American safety net is one of programs losing popularity as they are associated with poor black people. Initially blacks were largely excluded from New Deal welfare. It was when the War on Poverty broke down racial barriers that white public opinion turned against it. “Increasingly associated with Black mothers already stereotyped as lazy, irresponsible, and overly fertile,” writes Northwestern School of Law’s Dorothy Roberts, “it became increasingly burdened with behavior modification, work requirements, and reduced effective benefit levels.”

The same was true for public housing, which once received broad-based support. But in the 1950s, whites moved to segregated suburbs and blacks were left behind, and the projects became unpopular and underfunded. Housing benefits for upper-income Americans, like the mortgage interest rate deduction, are not, to be sure, subject to such negative stereotypes, and neither are the billions in federal and state dollars that have been spent on highways and federally subsidized mortgages for disproportionately white homeowners.

Or take public schools. If all of our children, black and white, rich and poor, were in one big system, that system would get ample support. But since many poorer students of color are segregated into separate, unequal and low-performing districts, policy solutions like charters and an obsession over standardized testing that would never pass muster in a wealthy district are advocated as pragmatic solutions.

Count yourself lucky that rich people still (for the meantime) breathe the same air as everyone else.

Rick Santorum has declared, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” (He now says that he said “blah” people.) On Social Security, Santorum is making what appears to be a safe argument for reform: cutting rich people out of the program. Right now, Social Security belongs to everyone. Cutting rich people out is the first step to making it a program for the poor. Making something a program for the poor — see food stamps, Medicaid and welfare — is the first step toward eliminating it. While crazy Newt Gingrich talks about black people and food stamps, Mitt Romney (whom Brooks, of course, calls “serious”) resurrects a big idea: privatize  Medicare. That, of course, is why conservatives so fear single-payer universal healthcare: They know that once we got it, we would never let them take it away.

If some whites reap some cold comfort from Gingrich’s performance, the racial hostility on display comes at a much higher cost to the American people as a whole. We have long since traded the possibility of a decent society for fear and resentment. So watch out for the next attack on “the food stamp president.” The entitlement they end might be your own.

*Conservatives keep saying - in the middle of the second worse recession in our history, of which they caused - that since markets are perfect all Americans have to do is get off their lazy arses and get a job, we don't need a safety net with programs like Medicare and unemployment insurance. In other words do not believe what you see, do not believe reality, believe what conservative propagandists tell you to believe.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Big government is more important than ever

Big government is more important than ever

Look back on 2011 and you’ll notice a destructive trail of extreme weather slashing through the year. In Texas, it was the driest year ever recorded. An epic drought there killed half a billion trees, touched off wildfires that burned four million acres, and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and buildings. The costs to agriculture, particularly the cotton and cattle businesses, are estimated at $5.2 billion — and keep in mind that, in a winter breaking all sorts of records for warmth, the Texas drought is not yet over.

In August, the East Coast had a close brush with calamity in the form of Hurricane Irene. Luckily, that storm had spent most of its energy by the time it hit land near New York City. Nonetheless, its rains did at least $7 billion worth of damage, putting it just below the $7.2 billion worth of chaos caused by Katrina back in 2005.

Across the planet the story was similar. Wildfires consumed large swaths of Chile. Colombia suffered its second year of endless rain, causing an estimated $2 billion in damage. In Brazil, the life-giving Amazon River was running low due to drought. Northern Mexico is still suffering from its worst drought in 70 years. Flooding in the Thai capital, Bangkok, killed over 500 and displaced or damaged the property of 12 million others, while ruining some of the world’s largest industrial parks. The World Bank estimates the damage in Thailand at a mind-boggling $45 billion, making it one of the most expensive disasters ever. And that’s just to start a 2011 extreme-weather list, not to end it.

Such calamities, devastating for those affected, have important implications for how we think about the role of government in our future. During natural disasters, society regularly turns to the state for help, which means such immediate crises are a much-needed reminder of just how important a functional big government turns out to be to our survival.

These days, big government gets big press attention — none of it anything but terrible. In the United States, especially in an election year, it’s become fashionable to beat up on the public sector and all things governmental (except the military). The Right does it nonstop. All their talking points disparage the role of an oversized federal government. Anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist famously set the tone for this assault. “I’m not in favor of abolishing the government,” he said. “I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.” He has managed to get 235 members of the House of Representatives and 41 members of the Senate to sign his “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” and thereby swear never, under any circumstances, to raise taxes.

By now, this viewpoint has taken on the aura of folk wisdom, as if the essence of democracy were to hate government. Even many on the Left now regularly dismiss government as nothing but oversized, wasteful, bureaucratic, corrupt and oppressive, without giving serious consideration to how essential it may be to our lives.

But don’t expect the present “consensus” to last. Global warming and the freaky, increasingly extreme weather that will accompany it is going to change all that. After all, there is only one institution that actually has the capacity to deal with multibillion-dollar natural disasters on an increasingly routine basis. Private security firms won’t help your flooded or tornado-struck town. Private insurance companies are systematically withdrawing coverage from vulnerable coastal areas. Voluntary community groups, churches, anarchist affinity groups — each may prove helpful in limited ways, but for better or worse, only government has the capital and capacity to deal with the catastrophic implications of climate change.

Consider Hurricane Irene: As it passed through the Northeast, states mobilized more than 100,000 National Guard troops. New York City opened 78 public emergency shelters prepared to house up to 70,000 people. In my home state, Vermont, where the storm devastated the landscape, destroying or damaging 200 bridges, more than 500 miles of road, and 100 miles of railroad, the National Guard airlifted in free food, water, diapers, baby formula, medicine and tarps to thousands of desperate Vermonters trapped in 13 stranded towns — all free of charge to the victims of the storm.

Having a democratic republic is based on liberal political theory - inspired by such people as Thomas Jefferson, John Locke and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly. From day one is was never the intention for people to go it alone against things as individuals that they did not have sufficient resources to handle. Though as a people, for the common good, our government through the action of the people - could help each other. Why do conservatives who say they care about families and private property think this basic building block of our nation is wrong.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Little Rick Santorum Hangs Out With Wacky Black Supremacist and Former Cult Member Who Thinks Democrats Are Nazis

Little Rick Santorum Hangs Out With Wacky Black Supremacist and Former Cult Member Who Thinks Democrats Are Nazis

In a state known for its questionable contributions to national politics, Rick Santorum is really bringing the heat. The GOP candidate tried to court South Florida African-Americans on Sunday by aligning himself with an outspoken pastor who fell from grace with fellow conservatives and a former cult member once charged in two grisly murders -- and who announced Sunday at a Santorum event that Democrats are akin to Nazis.

"The Democrats, they're the worst thing that ever happen to the black man," Michael the Black Man told a Santorum rally in Coral Springs. "They're the slave masters."

The activist born Maurice Woodside is no stranger to headlines as a current tea party-loving pirate radio host who regularly claims "one-third of the black women is the devil," famously disrupted an Obama campaign stop in protest of Oprah Winfrey's (alleged!) plot to destroy the earth through Barack Obama, and in 1990 escaped murder charges leveled at himself and other then-members of Miami's notorious Yahweh Ben Yahweh cult, whose leader was convicted of conspiring to kill white people as an initiation rite.

After the rally, Michael expounded on his view to the Daily Caller, again comparing Democrats to Nazis:

    "Republicans were the ones that freed the black man," he said..."Democrats were totally against us. They were the slave masters. Why in the hell would I vote -- not one good, righteous Jewish would ever vote for any German from the Nazi Party... And no black man under any condition should work with any white man that's a Democrat -- under no condition."

View Michael's intro at Santorum's Coral Springs rally below: at link.

Michael the Black Man wasn't Santorum's only controversial African-American ally of his Sunday stops in Florida. After the candidate's morning visit to his Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach, the Rev. O'Neal Dozier told the Palm Beach Post candidate Mitt Romney won't garner black votes as Mormons are racist:

    "Blacks are not going to vote for anyone of the Mormon faith," Dozier said. "The book of Mormon says the Negro skin is cursed."

Dozier, who has been an outspoken critic of homosexuality, Islam, and abortion, was removed from a Jeb Bush-appointed position on a Broward County judge-nominating commission and the campaign committee of former Gov. Charlie Crist after referring to Islam as a 'dangerous religion' and 'cult' in 2006. In 2004, he famously said homosexuality was "something so nasty and disgusting it makes God want to vomit." Though fellow conservatives Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Herman Cain have all distanced themselves from the controversial pastor, Santorum not only attended WCC on Sunday morning but spoke about the moment he "laid eyes on his wife" in a message from the pulpit that focused on family values.

    Dozier believes Santorum's sermon at the Worldwide Christian Center was a step toward making him the preferred choice of black conservative voters.

    "He came to a predominately black church, and he began his campaign at the most impoverished, HIV-invested area of South Florida," Dozier said. "That will be a big boost to blacks Americans. The conservative blacks want a man who is principled."
 Neither one of Santorim's friends seem to have read any news or followed any politics that occurred after 1929. There has been a major realignment of political parties since then. Conservative Republicans have become the regressive party that holds democratic republicanism in contempt. Democrats have largely become the party of Lincoln and progressiveness. Both parties used to have conservatives and liberals. Democrats had southern right-wing Dixiecrats and Republicans had liberals like Nelson Rockefeller. Both of these radical right-wing nuts definitely belong in the conservative movement - they have beliefs based on hate, ignorance and hate for the liberal democracy established by our Founders.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

How Conservatives Betrayed Jesus To Create a Corrupt Plutocratic Economy

How Conservatives Betrayed Jesus To Create a Corrupt Plutocratic Economy

In recent weeks Mitt Romney has become the poster child for unchecked capitalism, a role he seems to embrace with relish. Concerns about economic equality, he told Matt Lauer of NBC, were really about class warfare.

“When you have a president encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99 percent versus 1 percent,” he said, “you have opened up a whole new wave of approach in this country which is entirely inconsistent with the concept of one nation under God.”

Mr. Romney was on to something, though perhaps not what he intended. [ Holly Gressley)] (Photo: Holly Gressley)

The concept of “one nation under God” has a noble lineage, originating in Abraham Lincoln’s hope at Gettysburg that “this nation, under God, shall not perish from the earth.” After Lincoln, however, the phrase disappeared from political discourse for decades. But it re-emerged in the mid-20th century, under a much different guise: corporate leaders and conservative clergymen deployed it to discredit Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

During the Great Depression, the prestige of big business sank along with stock prices. Corporate leaders worked frantically to restore their public image and simultaneously roll back the “creeping socialism” of the welfare state. Notably, the American Liberty League, financed by corporations like DuPont and General Motors, made an aggressive case for capitalism. Most, however, dismissed its efforts as self-interested propaganda. (A Democratic Party official joked that the organization should have been called “the American Cellophane League” because “first, it’s a DuPont product and, second, you can see right through it.”)

Realizing that they needed to rely on others, these businessmen took a new tack: using generous financing to enlist sympathetic clergymen as their champions. After all, according to one tycoon, polls showed that, “of all the groups in America, ministers had more to do with molding public opinion” than any other.

The Rev. James W. Fifield, pastor of the elite First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, led the way in championing a new union of faith and free enterprise. “The blessings of capitalism come from God,” he wrote. “A system that provides so much for the common good and happiness must flourish under the favor of the Almighty.”

Christianity, in Mr. Fifield’s interpretation, closely resembled capitalism, as both were systems in which individuals rose or fell on their own. The welfare state, meanwhile, violated most of the Ten Commandments. It made a “false idol” of the federal government, encouraged Americans to covet their neighbors’ possessions, stole from the wealthy and, ultimately, bore false witness by promising what it could never deliver.

Throughout the 1930s and ’40s, Mr. Fifield and his allies advanced a new blend of conservative religion, economics and politics that one observer aptly anointed “Christian libertarianism.” Mr. Fifield distilled his ideology into a simple but powerful phrase — “freedom under God.” With ample support from corporate patrons and business lobbies like the United States Chamber of Commerce, his gospel of godly capitalism soon spread across the country through personal lectures, weekly radio broadcasts and a monthly magazine.

In 1951, the campaign culminated in a huge Fourth of July celebration of the theme. Former President Herbert C. Hoover and Gen. Douglas MacArthur headlined an organizing committee of conservative all-stars, including celebrities like Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan, but largely comprising business titans like Conrad Hilton, J. C. Penney, Harvey Firestone Jr. and J. Howard Pew.

In an extensive public relations campaign, they encouraged communities to commemorate Independence Day with “freedom under God” ceremonies, using full-page newspaper ads trumpeting the connection between faith and free enterprise. They also held a nationwide sermon contest on the theme, with clergymen competing for cash. Countless local events were promoted by a national “Freedom Under God” radio program, produced with the help of the filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, hosted by Jimmy Stewart and broadcast on CBS.

Ultimately, these organizers believed that they had made a lasting impression. “The very words ‘freedom under God’ have added to the vocabulary of freedom a new term,” they boasted. Soon the entire nation would think of itself as “under God.” Indeed, in 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower presided over the first presidential prayer breakfast on a “government under God” theme and worked to promote public religiosity in a variety of ways. In 1954, as this “under-God consciousness” swept the nation, Congress formally added the phrase to the Pledge of Allegiance.

In the end, Mr. Romney is correct to claim that complaints about economic inequality are inconsistent with the concept of “one nation under God.” But that’s only because the “1 percent” of an earlier era intended it that way.

What did these purveyors of the plutocracy, the people who got rich off the labor of millions accomplish? They have killed the American dream of upward mobility -  Harder for Americans to Rise From Lower Rungs

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Anti-American Godless Conservatism - Kansas Conservative Republican House Speaker ‘Prays’ That Obama’s ‘Children Be Fatherless And His Wife A Widow’

More Anti-American Godless Conservatism - Kansas Conservative Republican House Speaker ‘Prays’ That Obama’s ‘Children Be Fatherless And His Wife A Widow’

ThinkProgress reported last week that Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal (R) was forced to apologize to First Lady Michelle Obama after forwarding an email to fellow lawmakers that called her “Mrs. YoMama” and compared her to the Grinch.

Earlier that same week, the Lawrence Journal-World was sent another email that O’Neal had forwarded to House Republicans that referred to President Obama and a Bible verse that says “Let his days be few” and calls for his children to be without a father and his wife to be widowed.

Nick Sementelli at Faith in Public Life notes that Psalm 109, which is a prayer for the death of a leader, became a popular conservative meme after Obama’s election. The “tongue-in-cheek” prayer for the president was seen on bumper stickers. The relevant part of the psalm reads:

    Let his days be few; and let another take his office

    May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

    May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.

    May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

    May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.

O’Neal forwarded the prayer with his own message: “At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!”

O’Neal’s office refuses to apologize for the email, insisting that the message was only referring to Obama’s days in office. Sementelli notes the response of a Rockford Register Star columnist who explains why this excuse won’t do.

Speaking to a reader he writes, “You say that verse 8 of Psalm 109, as applied to President Obama, does not suggest a wish for his death. But the first five words of verse 8 are: ‘Let his days be few.’ And verse 9 says: ‘Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.’…You suggest yourself that scripture should not be ‘taken out of context.’ Well, the context of Psalm 109 is a wish for someone’s death.”
Conservative Republicans are not happy just be a group of anti-American fanatics who would like to end America as a democratic republic. They have moved on to perverting the Christian principles preached by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Conservatism: the movement of fake patriotism and sick twisted

Some good news this week - Obama Administration Comes Out Against SOPA And Protect IP

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Modern Conservatism Has Become So Anti-American They Would Not Elect Founding Fathers

Modern Conservatism Has Become So Anti-American They Would Not Elect Founding Fathers

To hear the Religious Right tell it, men like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were 18th-century versions of Jerry Falwell in powdered wigs and stockings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Unlike many of today’s candidates, the founders didn’t find it necessary to constantly wear religion on their sleeves. They considered faith a private affair. Contrast them to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (who says he wouldn’t vote for an atheist for president because non-believers lack the proper moral grounding to guide the American ship of state), Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who hosted a prayer rally and issued an infamous ad accusing President Barack Obama of waging a “war on religion”) and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (whose uber-Catholicism leads him to oppose not just abortion but birth control).

There was a time when Americans voted for candidates who were skeptical of core concepts of Christianity like the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus and the virgin birth. The question is, could any of them get elected today? The sad answer is probably not.

Here are five founding fathers whose views on religion would most likely doom them to defeat today:

1. George Washington. The father of our country was nominally an Anglican but seemed more at home with Deism. The language of the Deists sounds odd to today’s ears because it’s a theological system of thought that has fallen out of favor. Desists believed in God but didn’t necessarily see him as active in human affairs. The god of the Deists was a god of first cause. He set things in motion and then stepped back.

Washington often employed Deistic terms. His god was a “supreme architect” of the universe. Washington saw religion as necessary for good moral behavior but didn’t necessarily accept all Christian dogma. He seemed to have a special gripe against communion and would usually leave services before it was offered.

Washington was widely tolerant of other beliefs. He is the author of one of the great classics of religious liberty – the letter to Touro Synagogue (1790). In this letter, Washington assured America’s Jews that they would enjoy complete religious liberty in America; not mere toleration in an officially “Christian” nation. He outlines a vision of a multi-faith society where all are free.

“The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for giving to Mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation,” wrote Washington. “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection, should demean themselves as good citizens.”

Stories of Washington’s deep religiosity, such as tales of him praying in the snow at Valley Forge, can be ignored. They are pious legends invented after his death.

2. John Adams. The man who followed Washington in office was a Unitarian, although he was raised a Congregationalist and never officially left that church. Adams rejected belief in the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, core concepts of Christian dogma. In his personal writings, Adams makes it clear that he considered some Christian dogma to be incomprehensible.

In February 1756, Adams wrote in his diary about a discussion he had had with a man named Major Greene. Greene was a devout Christian who sought to persuade Adams to adopt conservative Christian views. The two argued over the divinity of Jesus and the Trinity. Questioned on the matter of Jesus’ divinity, Greene fell back on an old standby: some matters of theology are too complex and mysterious for we puny humans to understand.

Adams was not impressed. In his diary he wrote, “Thus mystery is made a convenient cover for absurdity.”

As president, Adams signed the famous Treaty of Tripoli, which boldly stated, “[T]he government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion….”

3. Thomas Jefferson. It’s almost impossible to define Jefferson’s subtle religious views in a few words. As he once put it, “I am a sect by myself, as far as I know.” But one thing is clear: His skepticism of traditional Christianity is well established. Our third president did not believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, original sin and other core Christian doctrines. He was hostile to many conservative Christian clerics, whom he believed had perverted the teachings of that faith.

Jefferson once famously observed to Adams, “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.”

Although not an orthodox Christian, Jefferson admired Jesus as a moral teacher. In one of his most unusual acts, Jefferson edited the New Testament, cutting away the stories of miracles and divinity and leaving behind a very human Jesus, whose teachings Jefferson found “sublime.” This “Jefferson Bible” is a remarkable document – and it would ensure his political defeat today. (Imagine the TV commercials the Religious Right would run: Thomas Jefferson hates Jesus! He mutilates Bibles!)

Jefferson was confident that a coolly rational form of religion would take root in the fertile intellectual soil of America. He once predicted that just about everyone would become Unitarian. (Despite his many talents, the man was no prophet.)

Jefferson took political stands that would infuriate today’s Religious Right and ensure that they would work to defeat him. He refused to issue proclamations calling for days of prayer and fasting, saying that such religious duties were no part of the chief executive’s job. His assertion that the First Amendment erects a “wall of separation between church and state” still rankles the Religious Right today.

4. James Madison. Jefferson’s close ally would be similarly unelectable today. Madison is perhaps the most enigmatic of all the founders when it comes to religion. To this day, scholars still debate his religious views.

Nominally Anglican, Madison, some of his biographers believe, was really a Deist. He went through a period of enthusiasm for Christianity as a young man, but this seems to have faded. Unlike many of today’s politicians, who eagerly wear religion on their sleeves and brag about the ways their faith will guide their policy decisions, Madison was notoriously reluctant to talk publicly about his religious beliefs.

Madison was perhaps the strictest church-state separationist among the founders, taking stands that make the ACLU look like a bunch of pikers. He opposed government-paid chaplains in Congress and in the military. As president, Madison rejected a proposed census because it involved counting people by profession. For the government to count the clergy, Madison said, would violate the First Amendment.

Madison, who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, also opposed government-issued prayer proclamations. He issued a few during the War of 1812 at the insistence of Congress but later concluded that his actions had been unconstitutional. As president, he vetoed legislation granting federal land to a church and a plan to have a church in Washington care for the poor through a largely symbolic charter. In both cases, he cited the First Amendment.

One can hear the commercials now: "James Madison is an anti-religious fanatic. He even opposes prayer proclamations during time of war."

5. Thomas Paine. Paine never held elective office, but he played an important role as a pamphleteer whose stirring words helped rally Americans to independence. Washington ordered that Paine’s pamphlet “The American Crisis” be read aloud to the Continental Army as a morale booster on Dec. 23, 1776. “Common Sense” was similarly popular with the people. These seminal documents were crucial to winning over the public to the side of independence.

So Paine’s a hero, right? He was also a radical Deist whose later work, The Age of Reason, still infuriates fundamentalists. In the tome, Paine attacked institutionalized religion and all of the major tenets of Christianity. He rejected prophecies and miracles and called on readers to embrace reason. The Bible, Paine asserted, can in no way be infallible. He called the god of the Old Testament “wicked” and the entire Bible “the pretended word of God.” (There go the Red States!)

What can we learn from this? Americans have the right to reject candidates for any reason, including their religious beliefs. But they ought to think twice before tossing someone aside just because he or she is skeptical of orthodox Christianity. After all, that description includes some of our nation’s greatest leaders.

Modern conservatives running for office under the name Republican, are a joke and affront to individual liberty. Modern conservatism hails the rights of corporations - legally compelling us all to think of them as people - talk about Stalinistic reality being foisted on the public. Modern conservatives say the are pro freedom yet would have the nation live under 15th century pr-Enlightenment fundamentalism that is antithetical to liberty. Conservatives should be honest and confess to the American public that they are the right-wing authoritatrian party who are against reason, science, indivual rights, freedom of the press ( again like Stalin, Hitler or Mao), hate women, do not think non-whites are fully American, and are war mongers who get sadistic pleasure from sending Americans off to die for lies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mitt Romney is The Best Darn Plutocrat Money Can Buy

Mitt Romney is The Best Darn Plutocrat Money Can Buy

Mitt Romney's $12 Million Mystery Super-PAC Man
Meet Carl Forti, the publicity-loathing mastermind helping the Republican front-runner and conservative groups raise millions in dark money.

Republican strategist Carl Forti has been described, variously, as "Karl Rove's Karl Rove" (Politico), "one of the smartest people in politics you've never heard of" (Karl Rove), and "the Alexander the Great of the Republican independent expenditure world" (Republican operative Bradley Blakeman). You can add one more to the list: President Obama and the Democrats' worst nightmare in 2012. A pioneer in the post-Citizens United world of super-PACs and dark money, Forti is one of the lead architects of the GOP's outside-spending strategy and an operative who has for years tested the boundaries of campaign finance law.

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Forti first waded into the outside-money wars while working for the National Republican Congressional Committee. During the 2006 election cycle, he managed an $82 million independent-expenditure campaign—the largest in the committee's history. Through the Black Rock Group, the strategic communications firm he cofounded, Forti has gone on to advise an all-star roster of conservative outside-spending groups, including the 60 Plus Association (the "conservative AARP") and Americans for Job Security. Forti is also the political director of American Crossroads and advocacy director of Crossroads GPS, the Rove-inspired outfits that reported spending nearly $39 million together during the midterms. The groups have already begun running ads bashing Obama and vulnerable Democrats and plan to dump $240 million into 2012 races.

Most recently, Forti helped launch Restore Our Future, a pro-Mitt Romney super-PAC that raised $12 million in the first half of 2011. "I don't know of anybody who's got as important of a role with the major outside organizations, both in 2010 and in 2012," says the group's treasurer, Charles Spies.

Like Spies, Forti is an alum of Romney's 2008 presidential campaign. As the campaign's national political director, Forti masterminded Romney's 11 primary and caucus wins. After the former Massachusetts governor dropped out, Forti moved on to Freedom's Watch, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group bankrolled by right-wing casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. Founded with the goal of spending as much as $200 million to counter labor unions and progressive heavyweights like, the group ran ads defending George W. Bush's foreign policy and supporting Republican congressional candidates. In the end, internal squabbling, a bloated infrastructure, and Adelson's discontent with the group's leadership doomed Freedom's Watch. It shut down in December 2008—but its legacy lived on, in the form of the gaping loophole it helped create in campaign finance law.

During the 2008 campaign, the group, with Forti spearheading its issue advocacy campaigns, ran a series of ads attacking Louisiana Democratic House candidate Don Cazayoux. Up until that point, organizations like Freedom's Watch typically revealed the donors behind such ads in their filings with the Federal Election Commission. Yet Freedom's Watch tried something different: It simply left that section blank. In a move that dismayed campaign finance reformers, the FEC's three Republican commissioners, prompted by a complaint about Freedom's Watch filed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, ruled that outside-spending groups don't have to reveal their donors unless those donors earmark their contributions for specific ads. The move upended years of precedent. "It was a deliberate effort to weaken the rules, and it worked," says Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

During the next election cycle, Forti hatched an audacious plan to circumvent campaign spending rules. Under the law at that time, individuals were free to spend as much as they pleased on TV ads, mailers, and other political messaging without filing as a political action committee. But once a group of individuals pooled their money and coordinated their spending, they became subject to contribution limits. Forti proposed a plan intended to evade contribution rules while also implementing a coordinated strategy. Black Rock would be used as a middleman, crafting a comprehensive game plan and then advising individual donors on how and where to spend their money.

The FEC ultimately declined to give its blessing to the plan, but the episode underscored Forti's penchant for pushing the boundaries of campaign finance law. "He's one of the guys, through Black Rock and others, who apparently sees his role as being always out there trying to figure out where the loophole is and how to use it to his party's or favorite candidate's benefit," says Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center.

It's perhaps not surprising that Forti, who has worked so diligently to keep political donors in the shadows, detests publicity and fiercely guards his privacy. He declined to be interviewed for this story, telling me in a brief phone conversation that he had a strict no-profile policy and would discourage his colleagues from speaking with me as well. "I've always tried to stay behind the scenes," he told me, "and I intend to keep it that way."
Andy Kroll

Romney and other conservatives who claim to have Biblical inspired family values might remember that passage about reaping what you sow - Galatians 6: 7-8. Conservatives wanted the Citizens United ruling - passed by an extreme right-wing court to open the door to unlimited money from secret organizations. Now the conservatives who are dead set against Romney can eat the mud they made.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ron Paul is as American as Pie. If You Like Toxic Right-Wing Conservative Pie

Ron Paul(R-TX) is as American as Pie. If You Like Toxic Right-Wing Conservative Pie

Bucking the turbulent highs and lows [1] felt by his competition, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) [2], the libertarian's favorite in the GOP presidential field, continues his slow and steady rise [3]. The final poll before Iowa's caucuses on Tuesday, released by the Des Moines Register [4] on Saturday, showed Paul with 22 percent of support, just two percentage points behind front-runner Mitt Romney. Paul's extensive field operation [5] in Iowa and loyal supporters [6] have set him up for a strong showing on Tuesday—a surprise victory even—that could rattle the fight for the nomination. There's just one problem Paul can't shake off [7]: his newsletters.

Published as far back as the late 1970s, under various mastheads [8] bearing Paul's name (Ron Paul Political Report, Ron Paul’s Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Survival Report), the newsletters are, at times, virulently racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, and conspiratorial [9]. They dogged Paul's 2008 campaign and threaten to do the same this time around, especially if the Texas congressman wins in Iowa. Paul and his staff's scattershot responses to questions about the newsletters haven't helped. Paul defended [10] the newsletters in 1996, then said [11] he didn't write them in 2001. A campaign spokesman said in 2008 that Paul didn't write "most of the incendiary stuff," and last month, Paul personally disavowed them while pleading ignorance. "I never read that stuff; I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written," he told CNN [12]. However, the newsletters, many of which The New Republic has published [13] on its website after reporting extensively on them in 2008, variously list Paul as "editor" or "editor and publisher."

Here are 10 of the most extreme statements found in Paul's newsletters [emphasis added]:

1) How to Gun Down an "Urban Youth"

From the Ron Paul Political Report, October 1992 [14] (PDF), under the subtitle "Blast 'Em?":

    "If you live in a major city, you've probably heard about the newest threat to your life and limb, and your family: carjacking.

    "It's the hip-hop thing to do among the urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos. The youth simply walk up to a car they like, pull a gun, tell the family to get out, steal their jewelry and wallets, and take the car to wreck. Such actions have ballooned in recent months.


    "What can you do? More and more Americans are carrying a gun in the car. An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible. Such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately (through the classifieds, for example.)"

2) Malicious Gays Spreading AIDS

From the Ron Paul Survival Report, September 1994 [15] (PDF):

    "At the recent world AIDS conference in Japan, researchers admitted what I have long told you: there is no prospect of a cure or vaccine for AIDS. For one thing, the virus keeps mutating. A drug that might work today won't work tomorrow. Researchers also admitted that they had been lying about the incidence of heterosexual AIDS to increase funding for homosexual programs.

    "Those who don't commit sodomy, who don't get a blood transfusion, and who don't swap needles, are virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay."

3) The Government Created AIDS

From the Ron Paul Political Report, January 1988 [16] (PDF), under the sub-title "AIDS: Something Else We Can Thank Government For?":

    "Dr. [William C.] Douglass believes that AIDS is a deliberately engineered hybrid of these two animal viruses cultured in human tissue, and he blames World Health Organization experimentation at Ft. Detrick, Maryland.


    "'I have always said,' notes Dr. Douglass [in Health Freedom News, an "anti-government medicine" publication], 'and our forefathers told us this, that the greatest threat to the people is always government. Not foreign governments, but our own government.'"

4) Renaming New York City "Rapetown," "Zooville," or "Welfaria"

From the Ron Paul Political Report, October 1990 [17] (PDF):

    "A mob of black demonstrators, led by the 'Rev.' Al Sharpton, occupied and closed the Statue of Liberty recently, demanding that New York be renamed Martin Luther King City 'to reclaim it for our people.'

    "Hmmm. I hate to agree with the Rev. Al, but maybe a name change is in order. Welfaria? Zooville? Rapetown? Dirtburg? Lazyopolis?

    "But Al, the Statue of Liberty? Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house."

5) Israeli Mossad Behind 1993 World Trade Center Bombing

From the Ron Paul Survival Report, April 1993 [18] (PDF):

    "It was only a few days after the World Trade Center bombing before Mohammed A. Salameh was arrested. Is he guilty? Who knows? Some people think this a frameup by anti-Arab interests. Recall that shortly after the Kennedy assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended and accusations were made. We're still sorting that one out. From my point of view, it's hard to believe the perpetrators could be as stupid as the authorities maintain.

    We now know what one homemade bomb can do to a large city—one billion dollars of damage. Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little. The cities have become centers of violence, whether through the daily and routine terrorism of crime, political bomb terrorism, or the terrorism of mob behavior as in Los Angeles."

6) Welfare Checks Ended the 1992 Los Angeles Riots

From the Ron Paul Political Newsletter, June 1992 [19] (PDF):

    "Order was only restored in LA when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began…What if the checks had never arrived? No doubt the blacks would have fully privatized the welfare state through continued looting. But they were paid off and the violence subsided."

7) Nearly All Black Men in DC Are "Semi-Criminal or Entirely Criminal"

From a 1992 [20] newsletter:

    "[O]pinion polls consistently show only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, and the end of welfare and affirmative action."


     "Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the 'criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal...[W]e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, [but] it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings, and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers."

8) Even Music Triggers "Black Rage"

From the Ron Paul Political Report, July 1992 [21] (PDF):

    "The liberals want to keep white America from taking action against black crime and welfare…Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set off black rage, it seems."

9) "Race War," "Federal-Homosexual Cover-up on AIDS," the "Israeli Lobby"

From Ron Paul newsletter solicitation, 1993 [22] (PDF), in which Paul describes his political newsletter:

    "I've been told not to talk, but these stooges don't scare me. Threats or no threats, I've laid bare the coming race war in our big cities. The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my thinking as a physician helps me see through this one.) The Bohemian Grove—perverted, pagan playground of the powerful. Skull & Bones: the demonic fraternity that includes George Bush and leftist Senator John Kerry, Congress's Mr. New Money. The Israeli lobby, which plays Congress like a cheap harmonica. And the Soviet-style 'smartcard' the Justice Department has in mind for you."

10) Attack of the AK-47-Wielding IRS Agents

From Ron Paul newsletter solicitation, 1993 [22] (PDF):

    "Next year, or next month, the New Money could wipe you out—destroy everything you've worked for and saved for—and leave your family destitute.

    "It could happen any time. And I don't mind telling you I'm scared. For myself, for my family, for my friends, for my country.

    "We've seen a lot of financial tyrannies from Washington in this century. This one could take the cake. And popping out of the cake, with a big Surprise!, will be an IRS agent with an AK-47."

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Attention United States of America, Learn How to Make Money From The Captain of Capitalism, Mitt Romney

Attention United States of America, Learn How to Make Money From The Captain of Capitalism, Mitt Romney

A Missouri steel company in which former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) Bain Capital was the majority shareholder went bankrupt, laid off more than 750 workers, and had to turn to the federal government for a bailout of its pension funds in 2001, according to a special report from Reuters.

Romney, whose time as CEO of Bain Capital has been a centerpiece of his campaign, as he has criticized President Obama for not having experience in the “real economy,” opposed both the 2008 bank bailouts under President George W. Bush and Obama’s rescue of the auto industry. But when Kansas City’s Worldwide Grinding Systems went belly-up less than a decade after Bain became its majority stakeholder, the company, which had been in operation since 1888, had to turn to a federal insurance agency to bailout its pension program in large part because Bain had “saddled” it with “such a heavy debt load”:

    Less than a decade later, the mill was padlocked and some 750 people lost their jobs. Workers were denied the severance pay and health insurance they’d been promised, and their pension benefits were cut by as much as $400 (258 pounds) a month.

    What’s more, a federal government insurance agency had to pony up $44 million to bail out the company’s underfunded pension plan. Nevertheless, Bain profited on the deal, receiving $12 million on its $8 million initial investment and at least $4.5 million in consulting fees.

While Romney’s firm benefited from a federal bailout, he has been a vocal critic of such bailouts while on the campaign trail. At different times, Romney both supported and derided the federal bank bailouts, but he most recently referred to the Troubled Asset Relief Program as a “slush fund” that “should be shut down.” When Obama proposed bailing out the auto industry in 2009, a rescue that was ultimately successful, Romney famously criticized the plan in a New York Times editorial titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”

And while Bain drove Worldwide Grinding Systems into bankruptcy, it didn’t share in the misery. According to Reuters, Bain made at least $12 million from the invesment, and added another $9,000 a year from the company via management consulting fees. Meanwhile, by 1995, the company was carrying debt that amounted to 10 times more than its annual operating income. Six years later, it was bankrupt. “Romney cost me lots and lots of sleepless nights and lots and lots of money,” Ed Stanger, who worked at the plant for more than 30 years, told Reuters.

The Kansas City steel mill isn’t the only chink in Romney’s “job creator” armor. American Pad and Paper (AMPAD), acquired by Bain in 1992, closed two plants, laid off hundreds of workers, and eventually went into bankruptcy. Several companies owned by Bain laid off thousands of workers, even as Bain made handsome profits from its investments — and boosted those profits by abusing offshore tax havens in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Though he left Bain more than a decade ago, Romney is still making millions a year from the firm thanks to a lucrative retirement package. His campaign, meanwhile, finally admitted that its claims that Bain created 100,000 jobs under Romney’s leadership were bogus.

Like your average conservative Mittens considers greed, malfeasance, taking from workers and giving it to the rich ( redistributing income) the kind of capitalism that made America. It is actually the kind of perverse cronyism that is destroying America, one company at a time. Conservatism is the cancer eating away at America and its values, all the while wrapped up in what conservatives laughingly call patriotism. Like capitalism, conservative have some deeply disturbed perverse ideas about what constitutes being a patriot.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why Anti-American Conservatives Hate American Cities

Why Anti-American Conservatives Hate American Cities

The Republican presidential primary has covered significant ground. Against a backdrop of Iowan cornfields, candidates have debated socialism, capitalism, immigration and American exceptionalism, and have even touched on the finer points of Shariah law and the Federalist Papers. One thing you don’t hear about is America’s cities and the ongoing, and growing, urban crisis.

There are some oblique references, like Newt Gingrich’s suggestion that child labor laws be modified so that poor children can work as school janitors. “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods,” mused Gingrich, “have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works … They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it’s illegal.”

Gingrich’s comment is a surviving dog-whistle politics that include new state laws to drug-test those on public assistance and the ongoing effort to cut food stamps (and Gingrich did call Obama the “food stamp president”). The specter of the black ghetto still scripts urban dwellers as villains (often as thieves robbing the citizen either directly, or as in this Rick Santorum comment, indirectly: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money”). But unlike the era of Ronald Reagan’s welfare queen, today cities are more ignored than attacked. And this goes well beyond Iowa.

“The core of the Republican constituency in metropolitan America are the growing, racially and economically exclusive ‘outer suburbs’ whose privileged status Republicans seek to protect at all costs,” says former mayor of Albuquerque David Rusk, now a consultant. He cited New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as an exemplar of the trend.

Today’s Republican candidates are rarely city-dwellers.

Gingrich owns a Northern Virginia cul-de-sac mansionette that “tends toward the ornate” and includes a master bath entirely covered in mirrors, according to a recent New York Times article on candidate homes. Rick Perry moved into a high-end gated community in exurban Austin, Texas, while the governor’s mansion was under construction. Michele Bachmann lives in a McMansion with a builder’s description that “reads like a synonym finder for nouveau suburban glory, touting the home’s arched stone entry, hand-scraped walnut plank flooring, and a fully paneled library with see-through fireplace.”

Romney rose to the pinnacle of Massachusetts politics from the leafy and high-end Boston suburb of Belmont, where he had a bathroom with “vaulted ceilings and a soaking tub some might mistake for a lap pool,” a residence “heavy on cream-colored upholstery crowded with pillows. The curtains are pleated so precisely you might think they were styled by Mr. Romney’s barber.” The house, until recently one of four owned by Romney, has now been sold.

While Romney’s father, George Romney, served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Nixon’s administration, the candidate has said nothing in particular about cities. As with so many other things, Romney once had a different opinion. According to the New Republic, he was a devotee of smart growth during his years in the governor’s mansion — transit-oriented development and anti-sprawl measures included. “We don’t want to become like Houston,” said Romney. “Not that there’s anything wrong with Texas.”

The neglect of the cities can be traced back a half-century to the apogee of mid-20th-century American liberalism. In the 1950s and 1960s, the captains of municipal state, flush with federal funds and armed with great confidence in modern planning and architecture, bulldozed miles of “blighted” neighborhoods (often non-white) and rammed highways through the centers of many American cities. The feverish remaking of the cities was a desperate attempt to compete against the suburbs and woo back the middle class, which had departed thanks to the federal dollars propping up millions of (whites only) mortgages and miles of highways. Tragically, it was the liberal federal government’s funding of suburban homes and highways, and bulldozer-heavy urban renewal programs, that paved the way for Nixon and Reagan’s abandonment. Black people and the left were suspicious, the rising conservative tide was contemptuous, and politicians changed the subject. So, then, went the neighborhood.

It was from these very suburbs that modern conservatism arose, then proceeded to wage war on the city. In 1964, Orange County suburbanites reaping the benefits of government-financed defense jobs mobilized against fair housing legislation, and for their Sun Belt champion, Barry Goldwater. Nixon’s more successful 1968 silent majority was a suburban one, legitimating the postwar success “earned” by white elites. He promised protection against school busing, and promised that they were not, like George Wallace’s rural poor disciples, bigots. Just because suburban conservatives had backed off from de jure segregation doesn’t mean they wouldn’t attack urban blacks: take, again, Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen.” Save for Buffalo congressman, H.W. Bush HUD secretary, and 1996 vice-presidential nominee Jack Kemp, cities would get little Republican attention. In the two decades since the Los Angeles riots, urban issues are more often ignored. Concerns and paranoias now seem more abstract or diffuse: Shariah law, or the Mexican day laborer in the parking lot of your local Home Depot.

On the policy level, Reagan’s 1980s cutbacks were followed by modest and private-sector-focused initiatives under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The programs, dubbed “enterprise zones” under Bush and “empowerment zones” under Clinton, were a clear repudiation of the direct government intervention that characterized Roosevelt’s New Deal and Johnson’s Great Society. Whether prompted by resignation or opportunism, urban policy now caters to business-minded solutions: tax abatements and special service districts to encourage downtown development, and a fervent belief that young “creative class” professionals (think Portland, Ore., as national role model) and tourism (think Baltimore’s Inner Harbor) could serve as the foundation for a new urban economy.

“Republicans saw little gain by reaching out to minority voters (the quixotic efforts of GOP maverick Jack Kemp excepted) and Democrats feared that if they put too much effort into solving urban problems,” says University of Pennsylvania historian Thomas Sugrue, “they would reinforce their image as the party of ‘special interests.’”

President Obama has encouraged smart growth and regional cooperation between cities and suburbs, but the efforts have been fiscally and politically modest, and far from high-profile. One promising initiative has HUD, the Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency participating in a tri-agency Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which Rusk calls “an important initiative in re-orienting federal ‘urban policy’” toward metro-wide solutions. But he criticizes the Obama administration for being “much too cautious in setting their requirements” and called the $100-50 million in annual funding “a pittance compared with the $145 billion that the three federal agencies give out in annual grants-in-aid to state and local governments.”

One reason that cities don’t figure in today’s campaigns is simply because fewer people live in them: America is now a primarily suburban nation. But America’s suburban majority, which has also diminished urban clout in Congress and statehouses, distracts from something bigger and more important. As older suburbs decline and lose population to further sprawl, the line between urban and suburban issues blurs. The American electoral system obscures the shared conditions facing cities and older post-World War II suburbs.

“If the U.S. had a popular vote election, candidates would focus on saturating the major metropolitan media markets, a race to collect 51 percent of the votes by adding up the biggest population centers,” says George Washington University historian Christopher Klemek, author of “The Transatlantic Collapse of Urban Renewal.” “We wouldn’t be talking about swing states; in fact, we wouldn’t be talking about states at all. Cities — or at least the broad, decentralized (sometimes tri-state) metropolitan urbanized regions that most Americans now inhabit — would be at the center of the campaigns.”

Yet the political debate is dominated by the exurbs, the pell-mell ribbons of home and office development that snake along the nation’s highways. While the original postwar suburbs were built for well-to-do commuters to the city, today’s exurbanites commute from gated home to office park.

The folksy country patter of politicians is of course about the aberrational power that we have bestowed on the microstates of Iowa and New Hampshire. But the affectations continue well through the general election. It is not so much about the countryside at all, but rather an appeal to the constantly fleeing, new-home-buying, SUV-driving denizen of the exurb, the newest home of a deeply held, though deeply hypocritical, American pastoralism. While the suburban dream was anti-urban, the exurban mind-set is simply non-urban. At least, that is, in mind-set. The frontier spirit masks a deep interdependence.

“Cities and metropolitan areas are the engines of our economy,” says Robert Puentes, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metro Program. “The top 100 metropolitan areas alone claim only 12 percent of our land mass but harbor more than 65 percent of our population, 74 percent of our most educated citizens, 77 percent of our knowledge economy jobs, and 84 percent of our most recent immigrants. They also generate 75 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.”

Rick Perry, for all of his thickly lacquered rural charm, in reality rules over one of the nation’s largest metropolitan conglomerates. “Growth in Texas,” Ryan Avent notes in “The Atlantic Cities,” “has really been about growth in its biggest cities,” Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Texas is the most urbanized state per capita.

Those cities have labor forces that are powered by immigrants. But on the campaign trail, the perception that cities are harboring Mexicans is a great liability. Gingrich has declared that he will block federal funding to any “sanctuary city.” Romney has gone after bleeding-heart municipalities since 2007 when he ran ads criticizing Rudy Giuliani’s tenure in New York. In response, Giuliani noted that Cambridge, Mass., Somerville, Mass., and Orleans, Mass., had declared themselves sanctuaries. Cities, by virtue of progressive leadership or brown skin, still have the power to attract conservative opprobrium. Think about what Republicans mean to convey when they say “San Francisco.”

American cities also receive attention when a candidate visits New York to raise money or eat bad pizza with Donald Trump. Yet much of Manhattan — like San Francisco — is thoroughly gentrified, and the deepening and unresolved problems of urban poverty and violence are kept well out of sight. The same goes for Washington, D.C., where a rapid influx of young and party-going policymakers has demographically transformed neighborhoods where shootings once dubbed my home city “Murder Capital of the World” and prompted our NBA team, the Washington Bullets, to change its name to the deflating “Wizards.” The emergence of the city as playground for the young and well-to-do masks the fact that for poor and working class city-dwellers, nothing much has changed. This is just as true now that many live in the suburbs. But you won’t hear it from any Republican presidential candidate.