Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Most NFL Team Owners Are Right-wing Conservatives So It Figures That The Super Bowl Is Socialist

Most NFL Team Owners Are Right-wing Conservatives So It Figures That The Super Bowl Is Socialist

OK.  It’s the Patriots vs. the Giants.  Between now and Feb. 5th a zillion words will be written about who will win the Super Bowl and why and how and by what point spread. With permission of all you sports fans out there  I’d like to offer a few hundred words to raise another question about this upcoming football contest.

Is the Super Bowl a socialist enterprise?  Yes the language is provocative but not, I believe, inappropriate.  After all Indiana, the site of the next Super Bowl, is currently governed by those who insist government should play a minimal role, and the word they and their Republican counterparts around the country use in this election year to describe those who disagree is socialist.

I submit that the Super Bowl in Indianapolis is socialist from head to toe.

Start with the venue. Governments paid for over 80 percent of the new $750 million Lucas Oil Stadium.  The Colts chipped in about 15 percent, an investment they probably recouped in inflated asset value the day the stadium opened.   Governments are also covering the estimated $20 million a year in operating deficits.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg.  The NFL itself is a government creation.   

Back in 1961 Commissioner Pete Rozelle convinced Congress to grant anti-trust immunity to the NFL to allow it to negotiate with broad companies as a single entity. Its first contract with CBS proved so lucrative that each team had $332,000 in the bank at the beginning of the season, a sum that exceeded most team payrolls at the time. Flush with cash, team owners might have started a bidding war for players if a truly free market in labor prevailed.  

But having eliminated a free market externally in the broadcast marketplace, this new government sanctioned monopoly proceeded eliminated a free market internally ion the labor marketplace. The NFL imposed a rule allowing any team losing a free agent to another team to receive something of equal value from that team.  Few teams were willing to risk signing a high profile free agent only to see their own rosters depleted.  

Free agency came about only in 1993 after a jury ruled in favor of the players in a restraint of trade lawsuit brought by a group of players.   That verdict and the threat of a class action filed by Reggie White of the Philadelphia Eagles on behalf of all NFL players led the league to the bargaining table.  Yet the owners still refused to allow a completely free market by demanding and receiving a salary cap.

Back in 1961, to gain the support of all the owners, the NFL decided to distribute the revenue equally to all teams.  Nothing more socialist than that.  But this created a problem.  The Green Bay Packers were (and are) a non-profit team whose community ownership structure prevented it from blackmailing cities into giving it huge taxpayer subsidies by threatening to leave.  Equal revenue sharing could result in other communities opting for the Green Bay model.  The NFL quickly closed that door by amending its constitution.  Article V, Section 4, often called the “Green Bay Rule,” declares “charitable organizations and/or corporations not organized for profit and not now a member of the league may not hold membership in the National Football League.”

Some might justify the huge subsidies to football stadiums because of their purported equally huge positive local economic impact.  The evidence does not support that argument.  Numerous researchers have examined the question and in virtually every case found no statistically significant positive correlation between sport facility construction and economic development.  As for the Super Bowl itself, a study of six Super Bowls from 1979 to 1998 by economist Phil Porter found no increase in taxable sales in the host community compared to previous years without the game. Economists Robert Baade and Victor Matheson found that hosting the Super Bowl was associated with an increase in employment in host cities of a paltry 537 jobs.   

Not that any of this matters a whit to a true blue football fan.  I myself look forward to sitting back and enjoying a hard fought game.

But this is an election year. A year in which the role of government will be vigorously debated. The Super Bowl is a reflection of governments aggressively intervening, not on behalf of the poor or the consumer or the worker but on behalf of the 1/10th of 1%.  Eighteen of the 32 NFL teams are owned by billionaires.   Perhaps during the interminable commercials we might pause a moment and reflect on the fact that we are watching a truly socialist spectacle.

The NFL is operated much like America's biggest corporations, the profits are private enterprise, but the public has to pay for any losses. Why are at least a third of Americans so in love with the fake patriotism movement known as conservatism and the conservative view of what capitalism should look like..

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mitt Romney is The Face of Conservative Vulture Capitalism That Feeds Off Hard Working Americans

Mitt Romney is The Face of Conservative Vulture Capitalism That Feeds Off Hard Working Americans

ThinkProgress reported Wednesday that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has profited from thousands of Florida foreclosures through a Goldman Sachs investment fund. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) blasted Romney on the trail today for those investments, and re-upped those attacks in tonight’s CNN debate.

Romney attempted to explain away the investments, saying he didn’t control them because they were part of a blind trust:

    GINGRICH: Governor Romney has investments in Goldman Sachs, which is today foreclosing on Floridians. So maybe Governor Romney, in the spirit of openness, should tell us how much money he’s made off of how many households that have been foreclosed by his investments.

    ROMNEY: First of all, my investments are not made by me. My investments for the last 10 years have been in a blind trust, managed by a trustee. Secondly, the investments they’ve made, we’ve learned about this as we made our financial disclosure, have been made in mutual funds and bonds. I don’t own stock in either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. There are bonds the investor has held through mutual funds. And Mr. Speaker, I know that sounds like an enormous revelation, but have you checked your own investments? You also have investments through mutual funds that also invest in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Watch it:

Notably, Romney never denied the charge that he made money off of foreclosures. Later in the debate, Romney was asked about the $3 million he kept in a Swiss bank account before it was closed in 2010. Again, Romney attempted to brush aside the question, saying, “I have a trustee” who manages a blind trust.

Romney’s reliance on blind trusts is interesting, considering it was he who called them “a ruse” when running against former Sen. Ted Kennedy (D) in 1994. And as ABC News noted, the trusts are “not so blind,” since they have been noted on his financial disclosure forms. The trusts are also maintained by Romney’s personal lawyer and don’t meet federal standards for elected officials. Romney’s original investments into Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, meanwhile, were never in a blind trust.

Conservatives are always falsely claiming that Democrats are anti-capitalism ( conservatism is just another name for pathological liar), yet it is conservatives with their vulture capitalism, crony corporatism and worship of the financial elite that is weakening capitalism in the U.S. They can wrap their doubletalk in all the flags and Bibles they like, it still stinks.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Epitomizes The Conservative Movement's Desire to Have the Elite Rule and Kick The Middle-Class to The Curb

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Epitomizes The Conservative Movement's Desire to Have the Elite Rule and Kick The Middle-Class to The Curb

While volunteer after volunteer from each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties marched into the state’s election board to deposit over one million signatures for the recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Walker was no where to be found.

At the hour petitions were being deposited on January 17, Mother Jones revealed that Walker was scheduled to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in the heart of the New York’s financial district at 339 Park Avenue -- the towering headquarters for global financial giant CitiGroup. The $5,000 per couple fundraiser was hosted by none other than Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, former CEO of AIG.
Walker’s choice to be on Wall Street the day of the recall filing is so astounding, for many it goes far beyond the notion of a tin ear. "Walker could not have sent a clearer signal to Wall Street, that he is on the side of the 1 percent ready to do their bidding and take the heat," said Scot Ross of the Wisconsin group, One Wisconsin Now. Ross points to the data his group compiled to support his claim that Walker is constructing an economy that only the 1 percent could love.

Citigroup and AIG

No two institutions are more responsible for the economic collapse of America than CitiGroup and AIG.

Citi is the original too-big-to-fail bank. Citi’s merger with Travelers Group in 1998 blew apart the Glass-Steagall protections that had kept the U.S. financial system safe from major financial crises for 60 years.

Citi was a primary driver of the subprime mess. A top Citi official testified before Congress that the firm was betting that the housing market would go sour as early as 2006, yet it remained the nation’s top lender of subprime mortgages and continued to underwrite billions in subprime mortgage-backed securities. It hedged risk by taking out insurance in the form of credit default swaps with firms like AIG.

Like Goldman, Citi has been caught betting against its own customers. Citi’s $285 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) -- for fraudulently selling packages of mortgage-backed securities that they knew would fail -- was just tossed out by a federal judge who called it “is neither fair, nor reasonable, nor adequate, nor in the public interest.”

Today, Citi is considered by many to be a zombie bank, with billions in toxic assets and growing legal liability. Yet, Citi CEO Vikram Pandit hauled in $23 million in bonus money in 2011, giving  him plenty of pocket change to support pet politicians.

It was a surprise to see Hank Greenberg's name on the Walker invite (below). Greenberg was last seen fleeing down Wall Street with Elliot Spitzer hot on his heels, pursuing him for securities fraud and bid-rigging in 2005. AIG later settled federal and state charges for $1.6 billion, one of the largest fines in history. Greenberg, now the CEO of global finance firm CV Starr, and Co., settled the charges against him for $15 million.

All this took place, before that critical week in September of 2008 when the Lehman Brother’s and AIG collapse triggered a global economic meltdown. AIG had issued some $500 billion worth of credit default swaps it could not pay for when mortgage-backed securities went sour. In 2008, AIG was taken over by the U.S. government and bailed out by taxpayers to the tune of $68 billion. Most of that  money is still outstanding.

Right now, Walker can raise unlimited sums due to a quirk in Wisconsin’s recall law. How much he raised from Wall Street on January 17 is still unknown, although in his latest report, Walker raised 60 percent of his campaign war chest from out of state according to One Wisconsin Now. This included four eye-popping $250,000 contributions.

Citigroup's "Plutonomy" Memos

In his 2009 movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore unveiled two explosive memos written by Citi analyst in 2005 and 2006. The memos coin the term “plutonomy” and describe in glowing terms Citi's view of a U.S. economy entirely driven by the wealth and purchasing power of the 1 percent. The memos can be accessed here and offer a stunning glimpse into the cognition of Wall Street elite.

Plutocrats Drive the Economy: “The world is dividing into two blocs -- the plutonomies, where economic growth is powered by and largely consumed by the wealthy few, and the rest. Plutonomies have occurred before in sixteenth century Spain, in seventeenth century Holland, the Gilded Age and the Roaring Twenties in the U.S.”

The Future: “We project that the plutonomies will likely see even more income inequality, disproportionately feeding off a further rise in the profit share in their economies, capitalist-friendly governments, more technology-driven productivity, and globalization.” "Society and governments need to be amendable to disproportionately allow/encourage the few to retain the fatter profit share."

Forget about Main Street, Invest in the Plutocracy: “Since we think the plutonomy is here, is going to get stronger…” “It is a good time to switch out of stocks that sell to the masses and back to the plutonomy basket.”

While Henry Ford believed that the economy thrived when the people who made the cars could afford to buy them, the Citi plutocrats believe that growth is powered only by the super rich and that catering to their taste for imported baubles and bags should be the goal of every investor and policymaker.

Some believe Scott Walker got the memo.

In Wisconsin, a Budget Only a Plutocrat Could Love

If you believe that “the earth is being held up by the muscular arms of its entrepreneur plutocrats,” then the first thing you should do as governor is send them some money.

Massive tax breaks for the wealthy: With a series of bills, Walker delivered $2.3 billion dollars worth of tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo. He also gave them Health Savings Accounts and other perks for the wealthy that few Wisconsinites will be able to utilize.

Race to the bottom in wages: At the same time,  Wisconsin protesters believe that Walker decided to balance the state's budget on the back of the middle class. Walker’s first “budget repair bill” forced concessions from Wisconsin’s 380,000 public workers, who already made on average 8.2 percent less than private sector workers. Walker's collective bargaining bill amounts to an 11 percent cut in pay for workers making $25,000 a year, and 8.5 percent cut in pay for workers making $50,000 a year, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo.

Pounding the middle class: Walker’s budget bill made steep cuts in the state’s largest programs that aid the middle class: $749 million in direct cuts to schools; $848 million in cuts to Medicaid; $170 million in cuts in state aid to cities and counties. The  cuts in state aid contribute to the fact that Wisconsin now leads the country in public-sector job loss. The working poor were hammered as well, with $56 million in cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit program and cuts to BadgerCare, where Walker is threatening to deny 65,000 residents health care.

Rejection of federal funds: At the same time, Walker has turned down billions in federal assistance: $810 million for light rail (funds quickly snapped up by other governors); $23 million in broadband money (the first state in the nation to turn down broadband); $38 million for health care exchanges, and $11 million for health care for the poor.

The result of all these changes? Employment in Wisconsin dropped off a cliff the in the month of July, the month that the Walker budget kicked in. At the same time, employment nationally was on the uptick, as can be seen from these compelling graphs by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

One realtor put it this way: “Walker doesn’t get it. People don't want to move to 'Wississippi.' They want to move to a modern, pro-growth state where there will be jobs, modern infrastructure and opportunity. His policies are scaring off my customers.” A local economic think tank dubbed the issue "the price of extremism."


The Citigroup memos pose the question, how long will the electorate continue to endorse plutonomy?

“The rising wealth gap between the rich and poor will probably at some point lead to a political backlash,” opines the Citi analysts. “Whilst the rich are getting a greater share of the wealth, and the poor a lesser share, political enfranchisement remains as it was – one person one vote (in the plutonomies). At some point it is likely that labor will fight back against the rising profit share of the rich and there will be political backlash…”

Some might say that the residents of the state of Wisconsin have also gotten the memo. They did not just take out their anger and frustration with sustained street protests, frequently topping 100,000 last winter. They put their discontent into democratic action, petitioning for the redress of grievances in the unique way provided for by the Wisconsin Constitution.

They are refusing to be Citigroup's "plutoparticipants."

All the of Republican presidential candidates have a Scott Walker plan for the U.S. economy - the rich will get richer while everyone else loses ground. According to conservatives, if your common sense tells you that some how the systems is being abused to give most of the national pie to those at the top - who work the least - then you're a socialist. Maybe the Americans with common sense know a scam when they see one, and that's all conservatism is.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Newt Gingrich is a Living Saint That Would Never Lie About Obama and Food Stamps

Newt Gingrich is a Living Saint That Would Never Lie About Obama and Food Stamps

The former speaker made that claim Jan. 16 in a Republican debate in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and his campaign organization quickly inserted the snippet in a new 30-second TV ad that began running Jan. 18 in South Carolina.

Gingrich would have been correct to say the number now on food aid is historically high. The number stood at 46,224,722 persons as of October, the most recent month on record. And it's also true that the number has risen sharply since Obama took office.

But Gingrich goes too far to say Obama has put more on the rolls than other presidents. We asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition service for month-by-month figures going back to January 2001. And they show that under President George W. Bush the number of recipients rose by nearly 14.7 million. Nothing before comes close to that.

And under Obama, the increase so far has been 14.2 million. To be exact, the program has so far grown by 444,574 fewer recipients during Obama's time in office than during Bush's.

It's possible that when the figures for January 2012 are available they will show that the gain under Obama has matched or exceeded the gain under Bush. But not if the short-term trend continues. The number getting food stamps declined by 43,528 in October. And the economy has improved since then.

Obama's responsibility

Gingrich often cites the number of persons on food stamps to support his view that the U.S. is becoming an "entitlement society," increasingly dependent on government aid. And he has a point. One out of seven Americans is currently getting food stamps.

But Gingrich strains the facts when he accuses Obama of being responsible. The rise started long before Obama took office, and accelerated as the nation was plunging into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

The economic downturn began in December 2007. In the 12 months before Obama was sworn in, 4.4 million were added to the rolls, triple the 1.4 million added in 2007.

Day after day, year after year conservatives show utter contempt for many values, especially the truth. In matters of character and leadership how can a political movement based on a foundations of lies, smears, distortions and myths be trusted. When a political movement lies this much it historically means they are sleaze bags of one sort or the other.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mitt Romney, Bain and Right-Wing Death Squads

Romney tapped El Salvador's wealthy families, including one linked to right-wing death squads 

A significant portion of the seed money that created Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, was provided by wealthy oligarchs from El Salvador, including members of a family with a relative who allegedly financed rightist groups that used death squads during the country’s bloody civil war in the 1980s

Bain, the source of Romney’s fabulous personal wealth, has been the subject of recent attacks in the Republican primary over allegations that Romney and the firm behaved like, in Rick Perry’s words, “vulture capitalists.”One TV spot denounced Romney for relying on “foreign seed money from Latin America” but did not say where the money came from. In fact, Romney recruited as investors wealthy Central Americans who were seeking a safe haven for their capital during a tumultuous and violent period in the region.

Like so much about Bain, which is known for secrecy and has been dubbed a “black box,” all the names of the investors who put up the money for the initial fund in 1984 are not known. Much of what we do know was first reported by the Boston Globe in 1994 when Romney ran for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy.

In 1984, Romney had been tapped by his boss at Bain & Co, a consulting firm, to create a spin-off venture capital fund, Bain Capital.

A Costa Rica-born Bain official named Harry Strachan invited friends and former clients in Central America to a presentation about the fund with Romney in Miami. The group was impressed and “signed up for 20% of the fund,” according to Strachan’s memoir. That was about $6.5 million, according to the Globe. Bain partners themselves were putting up half the money, according to Strachan. Thus the Central American investors had contributed 40 percent of the outside capital.

Back in 1984, wealthy Salvadoran families were looking for safe investments as violence and upheaval engulfed the country. The war, which pitted leftist guerrillas against a right-wing government backed by the Reagan administration, ultimately left over 70,000 people dead in the tiny nation before a peace deal was brokered by the United Nations in 1992. The vast majority of violence, a UN truth commission later found, was committed by rightist death squads and the military, which received U.S. training and $6 billion in military and economic aid. The Reagan administration feared that El Salvador could become a foothold for Communists in Central America.

The notorious death squads were financed by members of the Salvadoran oligarchy and had close links to the country’s military. The death squads kidnapped, tortured, and killed suspected leftists in urban areas fueling an insurgency that retreated to rural areas and waged war on the government from the countryside. The war, which lasted 12 years, triggered an exodus that brought more than 1 million Salvadorans to the United States.

There is no evidence that any of Bain Capital’s original investors were involved in these sorts of activities. But the identities of some of the investors remain secret, and there are family names that raise questions.

Four members of the de Sola family were among the original Bain investors, or “limited partners” in the company, the Globe reported. Their relative and “one-time business partner,” Orlando de Sola, was an important figure in El Salvador. A well-known right-wing coffee grower with an (in his words) “authoritarian” vision for the country, de Sola spent time living in Miami but was also a founding member of the right-wing Arena party, lead by a U.S.-trained former intelligence officer named Roberto D’Aubuisson.

Craig Pyes, an investigative reporter then with the Albuquerque Journal, wrote a series on the rightist death squads based on extensive on-the-ground reporting in El Salvador in the early 1980s with Laurie Becklund of the Los Angeles Times, while the death squads were still active.

Pyes, who has since won two Pulitzer Prizes and is now a private investigator in California, says that no one has produced any proof that de Sola directly funded death squads.

“However,” Pyes says, “he was in the inner circle of the group around D’Aubuisson at the time that D’Aubuisson was well known to be involved in the death squads. De Sola’s name appears in a December 1983 FBI cable as one of 29 people suspected by State Department officials of furnishing funds and weapons to Salvadoran death squads.”

De Sola’s name also turned up in a notebook, seized from an aide to D’Aubuisson named Saravia, that detailed the finances of D’Aubuisson’s terrorist network, according to Pyes.

The Saravia notebook, reviewed by U.S. officials, listed weapons purchases, payments, and what appear to be descriptions of violent plots by rightists, including the assassination of El Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980. Asked about the notebook by the New York Times in the late 1980s, de Sola denied that he had ever helped finance political violence. De Sola could not be reached for comment for this story.

Romney, for his part, who was much more accessible to the press in 1994, told the Globe that year that “we investigated the individuals’ integrity and looked for any obvious signs of illegal activity and problems in their background, and found none. We did not investigate in-laws and relatives.” He also said that Bain had checked the names of the Bain investors with the U.S. government. Given the policy of the Reagan administration at the time, though, it’s not clear going to the government would have been the most effective vetting mechanism.

It’s impossible to fully explore the backgrounds of the original Bain investors because we don’t know all their identities, including the names of the four members of the de Sola family mentioned by the Globe. Neither the Romney camp, Bain Capital, nor Strachan — the Bain executive who recruited the Central Americans — responded to requests for comment.

During his first presidential bid in 2007, Romney more than once touted the Central American investors in Bain while trying to woo Hispanic voters. 

Romney has learned from the Bush family, never leave your bloody fingerprints on anything. Romney and his apologists can always claim he was once or twice removed from actual murderous thugs so everything is just peachy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What Liberal Media - CBS Echoes Right-Wing Talking Points Runs Error-Ridden Report On "New Solyndras"

What Liberal Media - CBS Echoes Right-Wing Talking Points Runs Error-Ridden Report On "New Solyndras"

In a misleading segment painting a skewed picture of the Department of Energy's clean tech investments, CBS News' new morning show purported to reveal 11 "New Solyndras" -- companies CBS said "are having trouble" or "have filed for bankruptcy" after receiving federal assistance. But CBS only identified 7 companies and included some that did not actually get federal funds.

CBS Fails In Attempt To Identify "New Solyndras"

CBS Provides Faulty List Of "New Solyndras." From the January 13 edition of CBS News' This Morning, which debuted this week:

    CHARLIE ROSE, CO-HOST: A CBS News investigation has found a pattern of the government pouring your tax dollars into clean energy. Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson is here with the story that you will only see on CBS This Morning.


    SHARYL ATTKISSON, CORRESPONDENT: We counted 12 clean energy companies that are having trouble after collectively being approved for more than $6.5 billion in federal assistance. Five have filed for bankruptcy: the junk bond-rated Beacon, Evergreen Solar, Spectra Watt, AES subsidiary Eastern Energy, and Solyndra. Others are also struggling with potential problems. [CBS News, This Morning, 1/13/12]

In addition to Solyndra, CBS named 7 not 11 companies during the report: Beacon Power, Evergreen Solar, Spectra Watt, AES, Nevada Geothermal, SunPower, and First Solar. CBS then misrepresented the facts about most of these companies. Throughout the segment, the on-screen text stated "New Solyndras: Taxpayer Money To 11 Troubled Companies."

Right-Wing Media Repeated The Flawed CBS Report. [Fox Nation, 1/13/12] [Human Events, 1/13/12] [Hot Air, 1/13/12] [Newsbusters, 1/13/12]
CBS Report Filled With Errors And Misleading Omissions

AES Coal Power Subsidiary Went Bankrupt -- Not The Project Funded By DOE. The Associated Press reported on January 3 that AES Eastern Energy, a subsidiary of the huge global power company AES Corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. AP noted:

    AES Corp., based in Arlington, Va., said the bankruptcy wouldn't impact its bottom line in 2011 and didn't revise its profit estimates for the year. It will report its fourth-quarter and full-year financial results in February.

    AES Eastern Energy operates four coal-fired power plants that were acquired from New York State Electric & Gas in 1999. Its business has struggled with low profit margins because of the high cost of coal and a decline in power prices. [Associated Press, 1/3/12]

    Loan Guarantee Went To A Separate Subsidiary Of AES For An Energy Storage System. The $17.1 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy went to AES Energy Storage LLC, a subsidiary of AES Corp, to "support the construction of a 20 megawatt (MW) energy storage system using advanced lithium-ion batteries" in Johnson City, New York.  [Department of Energy, 12/23/10]

NRG Energy -- Not SunPower -- Is Responsible For The Loan. CBS reported that "Sunpower landed a $1.2 billion loan guarantee last fall ... On its last financial statement, SunPower owed more than it was worth." In fact, NRG Energy, Inc. bought the project, the California Valley Solar Ranch, shortly before the DOE loan guarantee was finalized. The Contra Costa Times reported that NRG is responsible for paying back the loan:

    Industry analysts say San Jose-based SunPower is struggling but nowhere near bankruptcy, and they describe the loan guarantee as low-risk for taxpayers. More significantly, Carlsbad-based NRG Energy, not SunPower, is on the hook to repay the loan, according to company representatives. NRG bought the project before the federal backing came through, although SunPower will design and build the solar farm in San Luis Obispo County. [Contra Costa Times, 10/18/11]

    Risk To Taxpayers Is Low Because The Solar Project Already Has A Buyer. The Contra Costa Times article further noted that "Pacific, Gas and Electric Co. signed a long-term fixed-price contract to buy the power" from the project. The article quoted independent energy analyst Daniel Ries, who stated: "The risk to taxpayers is very low ... This loan guarantee is for a specific project using known technology that has a cash flow to pay off the debt." [Contra Costa Times, 10/18/11]

First Solar Also Sold DOE-Backed Projects To Other Companies. CBS stated that "First Solar was the biggest S&P 500 loser in 2011, and its CEO was cut loose, even as taxpayers were forced to back a whopping $3 billion in company loans." In fact, First Solar sold those three projects "to NRG Energy, Exelon and NextEra Energy Resources and project partner GE Energy Financial Services," according to Electric Utility Week, which also stated that "The sale of the projects that recently received over $3 billion in loan guarantees from DOE means the utilities are on the hook to repay the loans." [Electric Utility Week, 10/24/11, via Nexis]

    The Projects Are Low Risk. As Dow Jones reported, "All those facilities have power purchase agreements with California utilities, which are required to use renewable power generation for one-third of the electricity they sell by 2020, as part of the state's 2006 plan to combat climate change." [Dow Jones Newswires, 12/7/11]

Evergreen Solar Received No Federal Money. Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar filed for bankruptcy in August 2011. But Evergreen Solar did not receive a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. Evergreen did receive $43 million in assistance from the Massachusetts government, but according to the New York Times, the company received no federal money. [Media Matters, 1/15/11]

Spectra Watt Did Not Receive A Loan Guarantee, But A Small Grant. In 2009, SpectraWatt was selected to receive a $500,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) PV Technology Pre-Incubator program, not a loan guarantee like Solyndra. SpectraWatt later filed for bankruptcy. [Spectra Watt, 6/17/09]

Boston Globe: Beacon Power Selling Plant To "Quickly Pay Off" DOE Loan Guarantee. In an article titled, "As federal funds dry up, Beacon Power still has reason for hope," The Boston Globe reported:

    Beacon, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, recently agreed to sell a first-of-its-kind energy storage plant in Stephentown, N.Y., to quickly pay off a $39.1 million loan balance it owes the US Department of Energy. The sale will leave Beacon Power with its technology and manufacturing capabilities, analysts said, but also with a question that many alternative energy firms may face as deep federal budget cuts loom as early as next year. Can the company attract enough private capital to stay afloat? [Boston Globe, 11/27/11]

Default Rate For Loan Guarantee Program Is Much Less Than What Government Budgeted For Losses. Bloomberg reported that the government "planned for defaults of as much as 12.85 percent" for the loan guarantee program, and that as of now, the default rate "is less than 3.6 percent. CBS did not mention this fact. [Bloomberg News, 11/10/11]

Most Of The Loans Guarantees Have Almost No Risk Of Default. To date CBS has not covered a Bloomberg Government analysis of the Department of Energy's 1705 loan guarantee program, which found that 87 percent of the value of all the 1705 loan guarantees (18 of the 28 projects) went to power generation projects, as opposed to manufacturing projects like Solyndra's factory. The flawed CBS report mentioned several of these projects among the purported "New Solyndras." The DOE required generation projects to secure a buyer before receiving a loan guarantee -- ensuring stable revenue and significantly reducing the risk of the investment. In fact, Shayle Kann, a solar power market expert at GTM Research, has said that these projects have almost no risk of default. [Media Matters, 12/6/11]

CBS Featured Pundit Misrepresenting Steven Chu's Background, Role. CBS apparently only interviewed conservative economist Peter Morici for the report. Morici said: "Tasking a Nobel price mathematician to make investments for the U.S. government is like asking the manager of the New York Yankees to be the general in charge of America's troops in Afghanistan. It's that absurd." [CBS, This Morning, 1/13/12]

    Chu Won The Nobel Prize For Physics, Not Math. Chu won the Nobel Prize in Physics and was "the Director of the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where he led the lab in pursuit of alternative and renewable energy technologies." [Department of Energy, accessed 1/13/12]
    Actual Head Of The Loan Guarantee Office Was Former Venture Capitalist. Politico reported that Jonathan Silver, who was the head of the DOE loan programs office, was previously "was a managing director of Core Capital Partners, a early-stage investor in alternative energy technology, advanced manufacturing, telecommunications and software, which he co-founded in 1999." [Politico, 10/6/11]

CBS Forwards Claim That Solyndra Loan Was "Politically Motivated"

CBS Advances Claim That Solyndra "Was A Politically Motivated Investment." In her report, Attkisson stated that Solyndra "received a half billion in tax dollars and became a political lightning rod, Republicans claiming it was a politically motivated investment." [CBS News, This Morning, 1/13/12]

The Hill: "GOP Probe ... Has Not Uncovered Evidence" That The Loan "Showed Political Favoritism." The Hill reported:

    But the GOP probe -- which has uncovered about 185,000 pages of documents -- has not uncovered evidence that the decision to issue the loan guarantee or the early 2011 decision to restructure its terms showed political favoritism. [The Hill, 1/13/12]

NYT: "No Evidence Has Emerged That Political Favoritism Played A Role" In Solyndra Loan. The New York Times reported:

    While no evidence has emerged that political favoritism played a role in what administration officials assert were merit-based decisions, Solyndra drew plenty of high-level attention. [New York Times, 9/23/11, via Grist]

Politico: Solyndra Had "Close Ties To Both Political Parties." Politico reported:

    In fact, Solyndra's top brass, its board and its paid lobbyists bring close ties to both political parties.

    President and CEO Brian Harrison is a registered Republican. Billionaire George Kaiser, an Obama campaign bundler, was one of the venture capitalists who poured private funding into the clean technology startup.

    And another venture capital firm, Madrone Capital Partners, which is tied to the GOP-leaning Walton family, was one of 10 firms that helped Solyndra raise about $144 million in November 2008.
    In Washington, Victoria Sanville, one of the company's two in-house lobbyists, had previously worked for four House Republicans: Sam Graves of Missouri, Peter Roskam of Illinois, John Sweeney of New York and George Gekas of Pennsylvania.

    When it comes to campaign contributions, Solyndra officials gave much more to Democrats while still giving money to some Republicans, according to a POLITICO analysis of donation data compiled by OpenSecrets.org. [Politico, 9/14/11]

Bush Admin. Chose Solyndra As A Finalist For A Loan Guarantee. The Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and expanded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. At a congressional hearing, Jonathan Silver, then-Executive Director of Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office, testified that the Bush administration selected Solyndra as one of 16 out of 143 submissions to move forward in the process. [Media Matters, 9/19/11]

Its another day and conservatives, withe help of the conservative leaning media lie to sell their anti-American/anti-progress agenda to America. They have to lie because that is what cowards do. If they had any guts conservatives would be progressives.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Conservative Welfare Queen Mitt Romney no stranger to tax breaks, subsidies

Conservative Welfare Queen Mitt Romney no stranger to tax breaks, subsidies

As Mitt Romney defends his record running a private equity firm, he frequently points to a fast-growing Indiana steel company, financed in part by Bain Capital, that now employs 6,000 workers.

What Romney doesn't mention is that Steel Dynamics also received generous tax breaks and other subsidies provided by the state of Indiana and the residents of DeKalb County, where the company's first mill was built.

The story of Bain and Steel Dynamics illustrates how Romney, during his business career, made avid use of public-private partnerships, something that many conservatives consider to be "corporate welfare." It is a commitment that carried over into his term as governor of Massachusetts, when he offered similar incentives to lure businesses to his state.

Yet as he seeks the GOP presidential nomination, he emphasizes government's adverse effects on economic growth.

"Fundamentally, what happens in America that creates jobs is not government. It has its role. But by and large, it gets in the way of creating jobs," he said during a debate Saturday sponsored by ABC News and Yahoo.

Bain Capital began looking at investing in the steel start-up in late 1993. At the time, Steel Dynamics was weighing where to locate its first plant, based in part on which region offered the best tax incentives. In June 1994, Bain put $18.2 million into Steel Dynamics, making it the largest domestic equity holder. It sold its stake five years later for $104 million, a return of more than $85 million.
As Bain made its investment, the state and county pledged $37 million in subsidies and grants for the $385-million plant project. The county also levied a new income tax to finance infrastructure improvements to benefit the steel mill over the heated objections of some county residents.

"I'm very pro-business, but I'm not pro-business-welfare," said DeKalb County resident Suzanne Beaman, 58, who fought the incentives. Steel Dynamics "would have done fine without our tax dollars, I have no doubt."

Another steel company in which Bain invested, GS Industries, went bankrupt in 2001, causing more than 700 workers to lose their jobs, health insurance and a part of their pensions. Before going under, the company paid large dividends to Bain partners and expanded its Kansas City plant with the help of tax subsidies. It also sought a $50-million federal loan guarantee.

"This is corporate welfare," said Tad DeHaven, a budget analyst with the Washington-based Cato Institute, which encourages free-market economic policies. DeHaven, who is familiar with corporate tax subsidies in Indiana and other states, called the incentives Steel Dynamics received "an example of the government stepping into the marketplace, picking winners and losers, providing profits to business owners and leaving taxpayers stuck with the bill."

On Thursday, Romney acknowledged that government can help spur private enterprise.

"When I was governor of our state, we competed aggressively to get companies to move to our state and provide benefits to them if they were to decide to bring manufacturing jobs, for instance," he said during a campaign stop in Greer, S.C. "That's the nature of competition between states. I'm happy with competition and do believe in free enterprise."

The outline of the tax subsidies to Steel Dynamics was initially provided to the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau by American Bridge 21st Century, a pro-Democratic "super PAC." The details emerged during a week in which Romney has repeatedly cited Steel Dynamics as an example of his successful job creation while he was head of Bain Capital.

Launched as a start-up at a time when many American steel mills were foundering, Steel Dynamics is the fifth-largest producer of carbon steel products in the country, generating $6.3 billion in revenue in 2010.

Government support was a key ingredient to getting it off the ground.

When local officials in DeKalb County learned that three veteran steel mill executives were starting the company in 1993 and looking for a home for their new mini-mill, they pulled out all the stops. "These people don't just drive by and choose accidentally to be your neighbor," said Jack Bercaw, a Butler businessman who was co-chairman of the recruitment drive.

The county promised $23.4 million in property tax abatements and tax increment finance bonds, as well as a new income tax to generate economic development funds. The latter was required by the state, which shelled out another $13.6 million in tax credits, energy grants, workforce training and funds for roads.

A new quarter-percent tax on DeKalb County residents financed infrastructure improvements such as roads and railroad exchanges that benefited Steel Dynamics, Bercaw said. The county also created a new redevelopment commission and redevelopment authority to oversee the activity.

Steel Dynamics executives did not respond to requests for comment. But in a 1994 interview with a trade journal, then-Chief Executive Keith Busse said the $4.4 million the company initially received in state tax credits, in particular, helped persuade Steel Dynamics to locate in Indiana. Busse told a business panel that same year, however, that he was opposed to the new income tax levied by DeKalb County, according to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

David Stickler, an investor and advisor specializing in the steel industry who engineered the original financing package that launched Steel Dynamics, said the $37 million in grants and subsidies was not only a financial boost, but also helped persuade larger lenders to sign on.
"What I've found is that the senior lending banks, especially lenders from overseas, take great comfort in the fact that the local and state government entities are showing a willingness to partner on the project," Stickler said.

Boston-based Bain became involved with Steel Dynamics about two months after the company formed in 1993. At that point, the management team had already sought incentive packages from the state and county. Stickler said Bain executives were well-briefed on the proposed deal and noted that they were particularly thorough in examining the intricacies of the deals' structure.

"They lifted up every rock, they stress-tested every financial scenario," Stickler said. "Before they put their money into a transaction, they wanted to know that as many of the risks have been mitigated as possible."

A spokesman for Bain said Thursday that the private equity firm "has had a 28-year track record of growing great companies, including partnering with the management team to help to launch and grow Steel Dynamics. We are extremely proud of the work our employees have done throughout our history to build our businesses and improve their operations."

In DeKalb County, the tax incentives rankled some local residents, who protested the deal at county government meetings.

Tim Heffley, then a Democratic county commissioner, was opposed to the new tax but was outvoted. "I was just against any company getting handouts from the government, corporate welfare," said Heffley, who nevertheless praised Steel Dynamics as a good company that has brought jobs to the region.

Nearly two decades later, some are still smarting about the subsidies.

America is being sold the BIG Lie by conservatives. In election years or when a Democrat holds an office conservative think they have some kind of moral right to have, conservative preach the gospel of super pure capitalism. yet time and again conservatives lie. The capitalism they practice is never pure. They get help from influential friends, state and federal government. America should demand that conservatives stop the Big Lies. While we all get to read the eventual truth and feel some vindication that at least these raging hypocrites were exposed, millions of Americans have lost their jobs because of conservative economic policies.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mitt Romney the “vulture capitalist” and the Rest of the Republican Clowns Who Have Presidential Fantasies

Mitt Romney the “vulture capitalist” and the Rest of the Republican Clowns Who Have Presidential Fantasies

“I say third place is a ticket to ride, ladies and gentleman! Hello, South Carolina!” Jon Huntsman shouted to a room of people in New Hampshire. He repeated the ticket-to-ride phrase a few times; assuming that there was some reason for it, beyond a fondness for the Beatles, one has to ask: Who is issuing these tickets, for what conceivable reason, and what is the fare? In Huntsman’s case, the stationmaster may have been relatively easy to spot: his father, whose money might make many things possible, was in the audience. But why spend it; why, at this point, keep going?

When the New Hampshire results came in, with Mitt Romney winning—he got about thirty-nine per cent of the vote—commentators offered two immediate, somewhat contradictory conclusions: the outcome could hardly be better for Romney, and nobody else was leaving the race. Everyone got a ticket to South Carolina. Perhaps New Hampshire’s transformative powers have been exaggerated, and the primary is now so early that most voters aren’t even awake yet. Or Romney’s victories may simply seem less compelling to his opponents than his liabilities; this week has brought a sustained, and arguably belated, interrogation of Romney’s history at Bain Capital. (Alex Koppelman has more on that.) Perhaps none of the not-Romneys want to leave before he’s got the worst of it.

There is a why-not quality to the attacks on Romney, from Newt Gingrich’s involvement in the airing of an anti-Bain documentary to Rick Perry’s characterization of Romney as a “vulture capitalist.” (“That almost sounds like Occupy Wall Street, not someone who is governing the state of Texas as a conservative,” Sean Hannity said to Perry.) One suspects that the “vulture capitalist” line resonates because it serves, for many, not only as a description of Romney’s career but of his personality. It captures something about him—the way he seems to embody the least attractive qualities of both the animal and the automaton. Listening to Romney, one sometimes feels trapped in a science-fiction story that has been written to explore the question of whether robots can lie, or be greedy.

And yet the possibility of a Mitt implosion doesn’t seem like enough of an explanation for why so many improbable candidates are still in it. Most generously, there may be sound, or at least plausible, ideological or tactical reasons to stay: Ron Paul can influence the Party platform, Huntsman can set himself up for 2016. (Last night, Huntsman got seventeen per cent of the vote.) There also seems to be a strong strain of irrationality, though. What we’ve learned after the first caucus and primary is that the casting of actual votes is not enough to dispel the fundamental oddness of this race. It is a contest in which the sitting governor of Texas has become a figure of ridicule, while a Congressman from Texas who has, for years, almost defined the term fringe, has become a collector of delegates: Ron Paul was the second-place finisher in New Hampshire, and a strong one, with about a quarter of the votes. Perry got about one per cent. According to exit polls, Paul was first among young voters.

Is what’s keeping at least some of the candidates in the race—or “the hunt,” as Huntsman called it—not the illusion of victory but the sheer joy of knocking things down? Grown men don’t have as many opportunities as they might to act like toddlers. This isn’t a train going to South Carolina or to anywhere in particular. It’s a set of careening bumper cars. The question, and not just for the Republican Party, is when it becomes a demolition derby. Also, one of the few points to emerge clearly in the debates this past weekend was that the candidates really don’t like each other. (Santorum, who ended up with nine per cent of the vote, would have done well to hide that a little better.) Grudges are great motivators.

Does any of that explain why almost all of the six remaining candidates sounded improbably pleased with how they’d done? Ron Paul was unfakeably gleeful. “I still have to chuckle when they describe you and me as dangerous,” he told his supporters, even though the sound he made was more like a happy cackle. He glowed; for a man who hates government, Paul managed, for a moment, to make politics look fun. And maybe it is fun; there are the balloons to consider, and the cold pizza, and the adulation. (That feeling passed as soon as Santorum began speaking.) Gingrich, with nine per cent of the vote, made politics sound beside the point. Before invoking Thomas Edison, he brought up an eminently practical question the candidates were asked in a debate over the weekend, about whether their vision of no government included doing away with a program that helped low-income people afford heating oil in the winter. He dismissed the premise—Washington thinking. Why not just create whole new energy sources? Gingrich talks as if he’s running for the job of alchemist in chief.

Or maybe Newt is just thinking about money. He wouldn’t be alone. Money, in this case, is a shorthand for a whole set of factors that keep candidates in: the money that they might make more easily for themselves, now that more people know who they are (speech-selling, book-writing, Fox News anchoring); and the money that, thanks to Super PACs, they don’t have to work particularly hard to raise.

Conservatives felt no shame at sending over 4,000 Americans to their deaths based on a pack of lies. Conservatives felt no shame at wrecking the economy. Conservative fell no shame in doing everything they can to keep the economy from recovering just to make Democrats look bad. So why feel shame in staying in a political race - in which PACs play a large role, but conservatives are taking millions from gullible Main Street conservatives - the same gullible rubes who also bought the lies about Iraq, think liberals somehow caused the economic collapse. OK wait a minute, maybe these rubes should keep sending their money to clowns who will just screw them over again. Politics has turned into some kind of sick game in which conservative Americans appear to like being treated like trash.

Monday, January 9, 2012

How Conservative Republican Budget Decisions Are Putting Americans out of Work and Increasing the Risk of a Second Recession

How Conservative Republican Budget Decisions Are Putting Americans out of Work and Increasing the Risk of a Second Recession

Most of the nearly 14 million people across our country who are currently unemployed can blame their situation on the inability of Congress and the White House to sufficiently cushion the economy from the financial crisis that began in 2007. But a growing number of unemployed Americans today are the victims of actions taken by the current Congress aimed deliberately at eliminating jobs.

Even worse, many of these jobs are ones that will have to be performed at some point in the next several years and taxpayers will eventually pay the bill. Delaying the work not only sucks jobs out of the weak economy but also in many instances costs the government more money and over time, and serves to increase rather than decrease the public debt. This report examines some of the job-elimination efforts by the current Congress and the growing impact this is having on individuals, families, and communities around the country.

Saving these jobs does not require us to ignore our country’s long-term deficit problems. While nearly all economists believe we should decisively reduce the amount we are scheduled to borrow over the next decade, a large majority of those same economists believe that the spending cuts and revenue increases necessary to reduce the deficits should be agreed to now but not executed until there is substantial steam in the economic recovery. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently warned the Joint Economic Committee, it is important to “avoid fiscal actions that could impede the ongoing economic recovery, putting in place a credible plan for reducing future deficits over the longer term does not preclude attending to the implications of fiscal choices for the recovery in the near term.” That is advice that the new majority party in the House of Representatives has been unwilling to take.

To get a clear picture of the efforts by the current Congress to eliminate jobs requires only a visit to the House Appropriations Committee official web site and an examination of a table entitled “FY 2011 CONTINUING RESOLUTION REDUCTIONS.” The table lists a little more than 250 programs that the committee claims to have cut by a total of $45 billion in fiscal year 2011, which ended in October. Not all of the claimed cuts actually reduced either spending or jobs; they claim, for example, to have cut $6 billion from the Decennial Census despite the fact that virtually no one expected a Decennial Census in 2011. But there are significant job losses associated with most of the document. While many discussions of potential job losses from reductions in government spending seem abstract and theoretical, these cuts are clearly resulting in real pink slips being delivered to real people.

Indeed, the magnitude of the job cuts in the budget legislation adopted last spring—as demonstrated by the committee’s listing of 250 spending cuts—is so great that it is difficult to keep track of the human dimension. For that reason, I have focused on three program areas which were singled out by this Congress for particularly deep reductions:

    Federal support for local law enforcement
    Environmental cleanup of nuclear weapons production facilities
    The Federal Buildings Fund of the General Services Administration

Estimates of the number of jobs directly lost by these cuts run upwards to 60,000. The jobs losses that are a direct result of those actions will have a secondary impact on a wide array of businesses ranging from automobile producers to local restaurants and dry cleaning establishments, causing the disappearance of a significant number of additional jobs.

Similar stories could be told about many other budget cuts made in this bill—cuts that resulted in further job losses—but that would require many more pages and exhaust the patience of most readers. All of the various 250 program reductions in the FY 2011 continuing resolution probably eliminated more 370,000 jobs. The three areas selected for discussion in this paper are in my judgment neither the worst cuts made by the committee from a policy standpoint nor the best. But without a doubt they demonstrate the consequences of slashing government spending in a weak economy.
Let's pretend for a moment that conservatives do not hate America and are more loyal to the anti-American movement known as conservatism than they are to the country. If an intelligent alien were to visit earth and look around it would sure look like conservatives hated America and American families.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Vote Rick Santorum Because America Can Never Get Enough Conservative Corruption

Vote Rick Santorum Because America Can Never Get Enough Conservative Corruption

Rick Santorum has received, and courted, plenty of comparisons with Mike Huckabee since his near-victory in the Iowa Caucuses, but not all of them have been earned. Yes, like Huckabee in 2008, Santorum has been heavily dependent on grassroots campaigning, with direct appeals to evangelical voters, and a veneer of folksy, blue-collar economic populism. But the comparison ought to stop there. What Santorum cannot match is Huckabee’s status as a genuine Washington outsider, someone untainted by the corrupt dealings inside the beltway. Indeed, Santorum’s record shows him to be deeply connected to the ethically unsavory and legally dubious world of DC influence-peddling.

Since losing his Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2006, Santorum has used his connections to land a series of highly-paid jobs. Consol Energy, a natural gas company specializing in “hydrofracking” and the fifth-largest donor to his 2006 campaign, paid him $142,000 for consulting work. He also earned $395,000 sitting on the board of United Health Services (UHS), a for-profit hospital chain whose CEO made contributions to his Senate campaigns and which stood to benefit from a big hike in Medicare payments Santorum proposed in 2003. (Incidentally, the Department of Justice sued UHS for Medicare and Medicaid fraud during Santorum’s four-year tenure on its board.) Santorum also earned paychecks from a religious advocacy group, a lobbying firm, and a think tank. For pushing legislation benefitting UHS and several other companies, one ethics group named Santorum to its “most corrupt Senators” list.

Santorum has made his post-Senate career doing the sort of quasi-lobbying that helped sink Newt Gingrich’s campaign in Iowa. But in fact, while still in office, he was a central actor in an even more sordid venture: The K Street Project. Started in 1989 by GOP strategist Grover Norquist and brought to prominence by former House majority leader Tom DeLay in 1995, the K Street Project was a highly organized effort to funnel Republican Congressional staffers into jobs at lobbying firms, trade organizations, and corporations, while attempting to block Democrats from those same posts. From 2001 until 2006, Santorum was the Project’s point man for the Senate, while House Majority Whip Roy Blunt manned the House side.

In 2006, the K Street Project was effectively forced to shut down amid public outcry; the following year, an ethics reform law made such outfits illegal. But in its heyday, it helped create an unprecedented revolving door between the White House, Congress and K Street, blurring distinctions between Republican policy and corporate welfare. As Elizabeth Drew put it in a 2005 New York Review of Books piece, “Democratic lobbyists have been pushed out of their jobs as a result; business associations who hire Democrats for prominent positions have been subject to retribution. They are told that they won’t be able to see the people on Capitol Hill they want to see.” Nicholas Confessore, in a groundbreaking 2003 Washington Monthly expose of the Project, detailed the goal bluntly: “First, move the party to K Street. Then move the government there, too.”

At the center of all this was Santorum. According to Confessore, Santorum conducted weekly breakfasts with lobbyists, and occasionally Congressmen and White House staff, during which he attempted to match Republican Hill staffers with K Street job openings. As Confessore put it, “Every week, the lobbyists present pass around a list of the jobs available and discuss whom to support. Santorum's responsibility is to make sure each one is filled by a loyal Republican—a Senator's chief of staff, for instance, or a top White House aide, or another lobbyist whose reliability has been demonstrated.” The group refused to meet with Democrats, and threatened sanctions against lobbies that did.

Revolving door tactics, until then de facto lobbying policy, were formalized and transformed into a “pay to play” system by the K Street Project. In 2003, after the top post at The Motion Picture Association of America went to a Democrat instead of a Republican, House Republicans reneged on an impending tax break, hitting the movie industry with a $1.5 billion bill. After the Democrat was chosen, Roll Call reported that “Santorum has begun discussing what the consequences are for the movie industry.” (Santorum, though he often denies his involvement in the K Street Project, more or less confirmed his involvement in the MPAA flap.) Later that year, the Washington Post revealed that the House Financial Services Committee pressured a consortium of mutual funds to oust a top lobbyist who was a Democrat in exchange for relaxing a pending investigation. After the smoke cleared, she was replaced by a Republican.

Whether the K Street Project was truly successful is up for debate. Confessore and Drew’s reports portray intimidated and marginalized Democratic lobbyists. According to a 2003 Washington Post story, a Republican National Committee official boasted that 33 of 36 top lobbying jobs had recently gone to Republicans. Former lobbyist Patrick Griffin, now an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University, told me that the project embodied the brazen crudeness of “DeLayism,” but also suggested that most lobbying firms and corporations were not “stupid” enough to purge Democratic staff and risk alienating much of the Hill.

What is clear is how much Santorum’s legacy is entangled with the two most corrupt political figures of the last decade: DeLay, and Jack Abramoff, who was said to have been involved in the Project. (Abramoff reportedly attended Santorum’s very first meeting, though Abramoff denied involvement and Santorum said in 2001 he couldn’t remember if he had.) Abramoff’s recent assertion that he “owned” politicians by dangling the promise of highly-paid lobbying gigs in front of powerful Hill staffers, though hyperbolic, is a fairly apt description of the K Street Project’s goals.

Gosh another conservative presidency run like organized crime. It will be like the good old days of the Bush administration or the Reagan administration. Conservatives have absolutely excelled at convincing much of the public that their anti-democracy, anti-constitution, anti-freedom, anti-American values policies are patriotic. Until those Americans wake up and smell the truth we can count on criminals in brooks Brothers suits like Rick Santorum to keep coming back from the dead like the anti-American zombies they are. 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Meet America Hating Spend and Borrow Conservative Rick Santorum

Meet America Hating Spend and Borrow Conservative Rick Santorum

Conventional wisdom holds that former Senator Rick Santorum, co-winner of the Iowa caucus, is indisputably conservative enough for the Republican base. “Santorum fits the mold of a tried-and-true conservative who has rarely compromised,” writes Aaron Blake of the Washington Post.

In fact, Santorum is a throwback to the Bush era: a big-spending, big-government conservative. He has had the good fortune to have lost re-election in 2006 and not been around to vote in favor of TARP, but time and again he voted for costly schemes that expanded the national debt. Many of the attacks that damaged Newt Gingrich could have been made against Santorum if he had been polling well enough to invite them.

Santorum voted for Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind and the Iraq War. This is no way to shrink the government or balance the budget, especially when you simultaneously propose to cut taxes and increase defense spending.

Santorum’s own nephew put it best in his endorsement of Ron Paul. “If you want another big-government politician who supports the status quo to run our country, you should vote for my uncle, Rick Santorum.... My uncle’s interventionist policies, both domestic and foreign, stem from his irrational fear of freedom not working,” wrote John Garver, a college student. “When Republicans were spending so much money under President Bush, my uncle was right there along with them as a senator. The reason we have so much debt is not only because of Democrats, but also because of big-spending Republicans like my Uncle Rick.”

So if conservatives and Republicans were really moved to protest big government during the Bush years, then Santorum might have a problem. Luckily for Santorum, most conservatives only oppose deficit spending when it’s done by Democrats. As David Weigel reports for Slate from Iowa, “Tea Partiers did not demand much economic libertarianism from their GOP. Sixty-four percent of caucus-goers called themselves ‘Tea Party supporters,’ and 30 percent of them backed Rick Santorum—a social conservative who proudly defended his earmarks.”

Indeed, when Santorum started to rise in the polls last week Rick Perry hit him with an ad attacking his penchant for pork-barrel spending. It didn’t pierce Santorum’s bubble. Nor did Rand Paul’s dubbing Santorum a big government conservative on the campaign trail in Iowa.

Actual Tea Party activists and conservative opinion writers are aware of these contradictions. Jane Aitken, the founder of the New Hampshire Tea Party, endorsed Ron Paul on Tuesday. Aitken tells The Nation that Santorum’s big spending tendencies and his belligerent foreign policy concern her. “I don't like Santorum's record that much.... He's way too hawkish. We need to be vigilant over countries like Iran, but we must not appear to be the aggressors ever.”

James Poulos of the conservative Daily Caller writes, “The Bush years proved beyond question how difficult it is to cabin off ‘good’ interventions in the minute details of our moral lives from ‘bad’ interventions in our finances, our health care, our education, and other similarly sweeping areas.” David Boaz of the libertarian Cato Institute complains that in 2006 Santorum campaigned on earmarks he delivered for Pennsylvania and articulated a big government ideology. “[Santorum] declared himself against individualism, against libertarianism, against ‘this whole idea of personal autonomy…this idea that people should be left alone.’?”

But will critiques of Santorum from the well-informed activists and opinion-makers infiltrate the mass of Republican voters? Their reassessment of Jon Huntsman never caught on with rank-and-file conservatives. When it comes to average voters, the GOP may still be the unprincipled party of George W. Bush.

It must be one of te most mentally taxing occupations in the world being a rabid conservative. They have to juggle all those contradictions, lies, and not lehast of all the fact that allowed to run rampant conservatism would end the United States of America and our democratic republican form of government.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Rupert Murdoch's Anti-American Fox News Declared War on Blue Collar and Middle-Class Workers in 2011

Rupert Murdoch's Anti-American Fox News Declared War on Blue Collar and Middle-Class Workers in 2011

In 2011, as President Obama and congressional Democrats pushed for increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Fox ramped up its defense of the rich while accusing Obama of attempting to incite a class war. Along the way, Fox relentlessly attacked poor and unemployed Americans, union workers who fought back against attempts by Republicans to strip their right to collectively bargain, and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been highlighting increasing income inequality in America. Here, Media Matters looks back at Fox's year of class warfare.

"We Should Be Supporting" The "Mega-Wealthy": Fox Fiercely Defended The Rich

Throughout 2011, Fox figures obsessively defended the wealthy against any possible tax increases proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats -- even claiming that the rich should pay less in taxes while the poor should pay more. Some Fox figures claimed that "most Americans say" that "patriotism is paying less taxes," while others claimed that those making $200,000 a year are not rich and that increasing their taxes would be unfair.

Laura Ingraham Complained That Raising The Tax Rate For The Wealthy Is "Demoniz[ing] The Rich." On the April 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham referred to a plan to raise the taxes of the wealthiest Americans as a plan that "demoni[zes] the rich." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/12/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Regular Jonathan Hoenig on Cashin' In: "Wealthy Earners Should Pay Even Less. The Poor Should Pay Much More" In Taxes. On the March 5 edition of Fox News' Cashin' In, Fox News regular Jonathan Hoenig said: "Wealthy earners should pay even less. The poor should pay much more" in taxes. [Fox News, Cashin' In, 3/5/11, via Media Matters]

Peter Johnson Jr.: "Most Americans Say" That "Patriotism Is Paying Less Taxes." On the April 18 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said: "What we have on this tax day is a White House that says, 'If you don't pay more taxes, then you're not being patriotic.' There's a lot of other Americans, and most Americans, who say the opposite: that patriotism is paying less taxes." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11, via Media Matters]

Kilmeade On Taxes: "We Should Be Supporting" The "Mega-Wealthy," Not "Punish[ing] Them." On the July 22 edition of Fox & Friends, guest Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said that "we can't ... continue to cut taxes for the mega-wealthy in this country when we have a debt and deficit problem." Co-host Brian Kilmeade replied: "The mega-wealthy are paying the majority of taxes for the entire nation, and they're the ones who are going to bring us out of this. You would think, rather than punish them, we should be supporting them." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/22/11]

Fox Continued To Claim That $200,000 Per Year Income Is Not Rich. On the April 21 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson suggested that people making $200,000 a year in income are not rich, saying of Obama's plan to let tax cuts for the wealthy expire: "It's not just billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg who may pay more taxes. ... It's the people making $200,000 and above. There's a huge disparity between that and the billionaires." Carlson's comment followed many similar remarks Fox News anchors made in 2010, when they repeatedly claimed someone making $200,000 or $250,000 per year is "not rich." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/21/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Used "Misleading" Statistic To Claim The Number Of Millionaires Is Decreasing And That Obama's "Plan To Redistribute The Wealth Is Working." On the August 18 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney used a Wall Street Journal editorial to claim that "[t]he number of millionaires, of people making the million dollars a year, [is] down very, very sharply." The August 20 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday echoed this claim and suggested it showed that Obama's "plan to redistribute the wealth is working."

    In Fact, Economists, Experts Called WSJ Editorial "Misleading" For Using A "Narrower Measure Of Worth." Economists and experts contacted by Media Matters said the Journal's definition of "millionaire" was "misleading" because it was based on households' income, rather than using the more traditional measure of wealth or investible assets. Both the Tax Policy Center and the Center for Economic and Policy Research have pointed out that in fact the wealth of the wealthiest Americans has increased dramatically in the past few decades. [Media Matters, 8/18/11; Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 8/20/11, via Media Matters]

Poor and unemployed Americans were not spared from vicious attacks from Fox in 2011. Fox figures suggested that unemployed Americans are lazy, while the poor were scolded for not being suitably "ashamed" for their poverty and for lacking a "richness in spirit." Fox also seized on a Heritage Foundation report about the ownership of appliances among the poor to downplay the hardships faced by Americans in poverty.

John Stossel: People Affected By Government Shutdown "Shouldn't Be Getting Those Handouts Anyway." On the April 6 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, while talking about a possible government shutdown, Fox Business host John Stossel claimed that "most of us" wouldn't notice a shutdown and that those "who would notice shouldn't be getting those handouts anyway." [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4/6/11, via Media Matters]

Ben Stein Claimed That "A Lot Of" The Unemployed "Would Not Prefer To Go To Work." On the April 30 broadcast of Fox News' Cavuto on Business, Stein said that "a lot of" unemployed Americans "would not prefer to go to work." [Fox Business, Cavuto on Business, 4/30/11, via Media Matters]

Fox Business Scolded Poor People For Not Being "Ashamed" Enough By Their Poverty. During the May 19 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Varney attacked anti-poverty programs as evidence that the U.S. now has an "entitlement mentality." Fox contributor Charles Payne then scolded people in poverty for not being "embarrassed" about needing public assistance:

This attitude goes all the way back to the radical Calvinists who believed that any bad luck that came your way was completely your fault. Get run over bu an oxcart and can't plow your fields, oh well that means God must mean for you and your family to suffer or even starve to death. These are not the egalitarian principles on which the U.S. was founded. We are not supposed to see the masses of people, our fellow citizens as just so much disposable trash the way Medieval kings and modern conservatives and their propagandists at Fox see the American people.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Conservatives, Especially Those Who Don't like Romney, Can Rejoice in Becoming Victims of Their Own Propaganda

Conservatives, Especially Those Who Don't like Romney, Can Rejoice in Becoming Victims of Their Own Propaganda

"This is politics," Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney declared Dec. 21, dismissing calls for him to condemn ads attacking former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that were run by an independent group supporting Romney's candidacy.

The ads were part of an unprecedented $3.3 million negative campaign of television spots and direct mail by Restore Our Future, an independent expenditure-only committee or super PAC, which blunted Gingrich's rise and may very well be the main ingredient in an Iowa victory for Romney next Tuesday.

Never before have the Iowa caucuses seen such a campaign by any group other than a candidate committee. And with days to go before Iowans cast their votes, the new political landscape is coming into sharper focus.

Fully aware of the bazooka he had in his back pocket, Romney on Friday jetted off to New Hampshire to campaign for the primary election there, casually planning a return to the Hawkeye State on Saturday afternoon. Calm and assured that his campaign would keep on going past Iowa, he put an op-ed in the State newspaper in South Carolina and spent the morning taking shots at President Barack Obama in a variety of interviews. Opponents were left grappling for third place in Tuesday night's vote.

Gingrich, the target of the pro-Romney super PAC's ammo, was left in a more fetal state. "I can't do modern politics," the former speaker said at one campaign stop. At another, he broke down in tears, as he described memories of his mother.

The 2012 Iowa caucus is, increasingly, not about the individuals running. Campaign finance observers have warned repeatedly that independent groups, enabled by the Supreme Court's January 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission to raise and spend unlimited sums, would alter the balance of campaigns, once run primarily by candidate committees and party organizations. So far, those warnings are looking prescient.

As evidenced in Iowa, campaigns now operate as political parties of one. Candidates with enough financing can lay their own groundwork for voter mobilization efforts and remain positive, while a supportive super PAC runs negative ads beating off opponents. Voter mobilization and opponent attacks were roles traditionally reserved for the party organizations in the general election, but thanks to Citizens United and the birth of super PACs, each individual candidate can now operate in this fashion.

Conservatives who support Santorum, Gingrich, Huntsman or Paul don't really stand a chance because Romney and his "friends" can out spend everyone. I can't say that i have too much sympathy since the right-wing judicial activists on the Supreme Court made this all possible with the Citizens Untied decision. Conservatives are reaping what they sow.