Friday, June 29, 2012

How a Brutal Strain of Conservative Republican Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America

How a Brutal Strain of Conservative Republican Aristocrats Have Come to Rule America

It's been said that the rich are different than you and me. What most Americans don't know is that they're also quite different from each other, and that which faction is currently running the show ultimately makes a vast difference in the kind of country we are.

Right now, a lot of our problems stem directly from the fact that the wrong sort has finally gotten the upper hand; a particularly brutal and anti-democratic strain of American aristocrat that the other elites have mostly managed to keep away from the levers of power since the Revolution. Worse: this bunch has set a very ugly tone that's corrupted how people with power and money behave in every corner of our culture. Here's what happened, and how it happened, and what it means for America now.

North versus South: Two Definitions of Liberty

Michael Lind first called out the existence of this conflict in his 2006 book, Made In Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics. He argued that much of American history has been characterized by a struggle between two historical factions among the American elite -- and that the election of George W. Bush was a definitive sign that the wrong side was winning.

For most of our history, American economics, culture and politics have been dominated by a New England-based Yankee aristocracy that was rooted in Puritan communitarian values, educated at the Ivies and marinated in an ethic of noblesse oblige (the conviction that those who possess wealth and power are morally bound to use it for the betterment of society). While they've done their share of damage to the notion of democracy in the name of profit (as all financial elites inevitably do), this group has, for the most part, tempered its predatory instincts with a code that valued mass education and human rights; held up public service as both a duty and an honor; and imbued them with the belief that once you made your nut, you had a moral duty to do something positive with it for the betterment of mankind. Your own legacy depended on this.

Among the presidents, this strain gave us both Roosevelts, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, and Poppy Bush -- nerdy, wonky intellectuals who, for all their faults, at least took the business of good government seriously. Among financial elites, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet still both partake strongly of this traditional view of wealth as power to be used for good. Even if we don't like their specific choices, the core impulse to improve the world is a good one -- and one that's been conspicuously absent in other aristocratic cultures.

Which brings us to that other great historical American nobility -- the plantation aristocracy of the lowland South, which has been notable throughout its 400-year history for its utter lack of civic interest, its hostility to the very ideas of democracy and human rights, its love of hierarchy, its fear of technology and progress, its reliance on brutality and violence to maintain “order,” and its outright celebration of inequality as an order divinely ordained by God.

As described by Colin Woodard in American Nations: The Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, the elites of the Deep South are descended mainly from the owners of sugar, rum and cotton plantations from Barbados -- the younger sons of the British nobility who'd farmed up the Caribbean islands, and then came ashore to the southern coasts seeking more land. Woodward described the culture they created in the crescent stretching from Charleston, SC around to New Orleans this way:

    It was a near-carbon copy of the West Indian slave state these Barbadians had left behind, a place notorious even then for its inhumanity....From the outset, Deep Southern culture was based on radical disparities in wealth and power, with a tiny elite commanding total obedience and enforcing it with state-sponsored terror. Its expansionist ambitions would put it on a collision course with its Yankee rivals, triggering military, social, and political conflicts that continue to plague the United States to this day.

David Hackett Fischer, whose Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways In America informs both Lind's and Woodard's work, described just how deeply undemocratic the Southern aristocracy was, and still is. He documents how these elites have always feared and opposed universal literacy, public schools and libraries, and a free press. (Lind adds that they have historically been profoundly anti-technology as well, far preferring solutions that involve finding more serfs and throwing them at a problem whenever possible. Why buy a bulldozer when 150 convicts on a chain gang can grade your road instead?) Unlike the Puritan elites, who wore their wealth modestly and dedicated themselves to the common good, Southern elites sank their money into ostentatious homes and clothing and the pursuit of pleasure -- including lavish parties, games of fortune, predatory sexual conquests, and blood sports involving ritualized animal abuse spectacles.

But perhaps the most destructive piece of the Southern elites' worldview is the extremely anti-democratic way it defined the very idea of liberty. In Yankee Puritan culture, both liberty and authority resided mostly with the community, and not so much with individuals. Communities had both the freedom and the duty to govern themselves as they wished (through town meetings and so on), to invest in their collective good, and to favor or punish individuals whose behavior enhanced or threatened the whole (historically, through community rewards such as elevation to positions of public authority and trust; or community punishments like shaming, shunning or banishing).

Individuals were expected to balance their personal needs and desires against the greater good of the collective -- and, occasionally, to make sacrifices for the betterment of everyone. (This is why the Puritan wealthy tended to dutifully pay their taxes, tithe in their churches and donate generously to create hospitals, parks and universities.) In return, the community had a solemn and inescapable moral duty to care for its sick, educate its young and provide for its needy -- the kind of support that maximizes each person's liberty to live in dignity and achieve his or her potential. A Yankee community that failed to provide such support brought shame upon itself. To this day, our progressive politics are deeply informed by this Puritan view of ordered liberty.

In the old South, on the other hand, the degree of liberty you enjoyed was a direct function of your God-given place in the social hierarchy. The higher your status, the more authority you had, and the more "liberty" you could exercise -- which meant, in practical terms, that you had the right to take more "liberties" with the lives, rights and property of other people. Like an English lord unfettered from the Magna Carta, nobody had the authority to tell a Southern gentleman what to do with resources under his control. In this model, that's what liberty is. If you don't have the freedom to rape, beat, torture, kill, enslave, or exploit your underlings (including your wife and children) with impunity -- or abuse the land, or enforce rules on others that you will never have to answer to yourself -- then you can't really call yourself a free man.

When a Southern conservative talks about "losing his liberty," the loss of this absolute domination over the people and property under his control -- and, worse, the loss of status and the resulting risk of being held accountable for laws that he was once exempt from -- is what he's really talking about. In this view, freedom is a zero-sum game. Anything that gives more freedom and rights to lower-status people can't help but put serious limits on the freedom of the upper classes to use those people as they please. It cannot be any other way. So they find Yankee-style rights expansions absolutely intolerable, to the point where they're willing to fight and die to preserve their divine right to rule.

Not everyone in the South believes in reliving the Southern Plantation culture - replacing slaves with wage slaves who have no power. By way of relatively small majorities the radical conservatives just happen to get their way. With the exception of Texas most southern states have a disproportionate amount of federal representation because everyone gets two senators - conservatives are thus over represented in Congress. Wherever conservatives are from - the east, west or south they share a dream of an America where there are no morals restraining anything that will generate a profit or more profits. That is why they hate labor laws that protect workers and environmental laws that protect your family's health. They hate science and education because they do not want anyone reading about their rights or learning about rationalism and The Enlightenment. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Their Political Witch Hunt of Attorney General Holder Republicans Show Contempt for America

In Their Political Witch Hunt of Attorney General Holder Republicans Show Contempt for America

Congress is on track to find Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. Given how contemptuous most Americans are of Congress -- only 17 percent approve, an all-time low -- this week's mostly party line vote will be the political equivalent of the congressional pot calling the attorney general kettle, well, black.

Here's what's really going on.

The dispute between the House Oversight Committee and the Department of Justice, coming to an absurd boil, has an inverse relationship between ferocity and substance.

At first, Republicans demanded every document on the misguided Fast and Furious "gun walking" investigation. Nine months later, they abandoned that tactic and requested only correspondence about how the Justice Department first reacted to congressional oversight. The Department accommodated more and more of their requests. That is, the parties were seemingly on the verge of striking a deal.

Then it exploded. Why? Politics, of course

As Republicans narrowed their requests for information from the Department, they moved farther away from their role of reforming policies that led to failed plan and closer to a more political question of whether the Department was massaging or manipulating facts.

Just read the committee transcripts. There was little discussion about how the Department should be protecting the border from gun and drug violence, how the law should be enforced or how prosecutions and agents ought to conduct themselves. If they did, they would be fulfilling their oversight role and improving national policy.

Instead, they raised the ante on what certain key officials at the Department of Justice and the White House may have said to each other about how to talk to Congress about what were already acknowledged as mistakes.

A legitimate and far-reaching inquiry into how best to protect the American people devolved into the kind of crass political theater that the American people despise.

There are four reasons this fight became so aggressive and acrimonious:

    First, Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa announced his intention to move to contempt at The National Rifle Association's annual convention, To the already locked down and secured audience, Issa declared that the Obama Justice Department views the tragic death of a border agent as an excuse for more gun laws.
    Second, returning the favor, the NRA announced that it intended to "score" the contempt vote in Issa's committee, signaling they would put their muscle - votes and money -- behind this attack on the the Department. The defenders of the Department's position on documents -- lawyers, constitutional scholars, a smattering of interest groups -- are a political cricket next to the NRA's gorilla.
    Third, every hour of every day that Attorney General Holder is preparing fastidiously for nine hearings on the Hill at which Fast and Furious is in play, he is not out in the country talking about protecting the United States and about achievements on behalf of the American people. This is the most devious and insidious misuse of oversight authority and the right wing -- from their own viewpoint -- are kicking ass in this respect.
    Fourth, this coordinated attack is really about the priorities of Attorney General Holder and President Obama. The conservatives on the Committee are furious that Holder has not rolled over as access to voting is restricted across the country, which has a devastating and disproportionate effect on minority voters. They are furious at his lawsuits against Arizona and other states with newly draconian anti-immigrant laws. They are furious that he sued Sheriff Arpaio, that his Civil Rights Division aggressively prosecutes hate crimes and policy brutality, that the Environmental and Natural Resources Division is alive again and that the Anti-Trust Division says 'no' to some business mergers and deals.

Simply put, the right wing has been at Holder's throat from the very beginning, which is odd, given that Holder is the most qualified person in decades to be attorney general, having been an attorney at DOJ, a judge, U.S. attorney, and deputy attorney general. No one has ever had more experience with and devotion to the Department of Justice than Eric Holder.

Unfortunately, because of a political mismatch, this battle's messaging is lopsided. Conservatives wrap themselves in the honor of a tragically slain border agent and the completely fabricated but nonetheless compelling stench of "cover-up," while the administration finds itself in the muck talking about documents and something called "the deliberative process privilege." It is easy to see why the politics are irresistible for the GOP.

We are likely, but not guaranteed, to see a contempt vote on the floor of the House of Representatives this week. The vote will greatly satisfy Rush Limbaugh and the membership of the NRA. It may cause the White House to make its institutional and political interests the priority and leave the attorney general to take a hit like this. It will cause countless progressives, and much of black and Latino America, to wonder why the first contempt citation to make it through the House will be directed at the first black attorney general. It will lead to more cynicism about the true nature of Congress and whose interests it serves.

A 17 percent favorability rating means never having to say you're sorry.

Imagine these events were taking place in a court of law instead of Congress and the court of public perception - Republicans would be found pants down with no evidence. As it is they can toss around all the ginned up conspiracy theories they like. The NRA says it is all about some secret desire to tighten gun control. Guess how many gun related laws have been presented by Democrats or suggested by President Obama? ZERO. Government is broken and it will remain that way as long as there are conservatives in Congress. Republicans are in Congress to make sure government is not by and for the people.

The NRA does gone bonkers - NRA Acts Like Finger Pointing Punks, Says Obama's Routine Executive Privilege Claim Proves Our Crazy Fast And Furious Conspiracy Theory.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Elizabeth Warren Vindicated as Fox News Use Argument That Rich Don't Make It On Their Own

Elizabeth Warren Vindicated as Fox News Use Argument That Rich Don't Make It On Their Own

Last fall, right-wing pundits at Fox News and elsewhere savaged Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts, after video circulated of the former Obama administration official explaining that because business moguls take advantage of infrastructure and education funded by taxes, "[t]here is nobody in this country who got rich on his own." This morning, an unlikely group offered up comments strikingly similar to Warren's: the hosts of Fox & Friends Sunday.

During a segment on wealthy Americans who renounce their citizenship to avoid paying taxes, Clayton Morris offered up this advice to such persons: "Get out of here. But the point is, you've made all this money on the backs of the infrastructure, taxpayers that got you there, the roads that taxpayers pay so you can drive back and forth to work to get rich on a regular basis, and now you're going to leave so you're not going to pay taxes."

Alisyn Camerota added, "[A]re they just greedy? I mean, are they just -- after this country allowed you the entrepreneurial spirit, the freedom to make all this money, now you're going to leave it? I mean, that does send the message that you care more about your money than you do about your country."

Compare their comments to those Warren made during a campaign stop in August while pushing back against claims that asking the wealthy to pay more in taxes is "class warfare":

    WARREN: There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there -- good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this because of the work the rest of us did. Now look. You built a factory, and it turned into something terrific or a great idea -- God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

There are some differences, of course. Fox & Friends being what it is, the segment concludes with the hosts determining that "the answer" is to "be part of the solution" by "stay[ing] here and... fight[ting] for better tax laws," followed by a series of jokes about European toilets. But both make the case that the private sector success of the wealthy is driven by government investments funded by the public. Fox, of course, has long been a chief promoter of the very claims of "class warfare" Warren criticized.

In October, Fox News' Andrew Napolitano responded to Warren's comments by labeling her a "crazy lady." Reason magazine editor in chief Matt Welch called them "the best advertisement I've seen in a long time for limiting the size and scope of government" and "terrifying." Other right-wing commenters termed her remarks "dunderheaded" "piffle" that made her sound like a "guileless, fevered Marxist."

It remains to be seen whether the right will similarly target the "Marxist[s]" on Fox & Friends' curvy couch.

The least Fox News could do is send Warren a check for co-opting her speech. But like your average conservatives, the Fox News propaganda channel tends to take what it wants, earning it or creating something themselves would just be too much work.

It's Not About the Damn Ponies

It's true that Romney makes most of his annual income off of dividends and capital gains he earns by investing his fortune. But he made $374,327.62 in 2010 on speaker's fees alone. That's a figure, by the way, that Romney characterized as "not very much" money. Kathleen Parker thinks people are just hating on the Romneys' success out of some kind of pony-envy, but we're really appalled about something completely different. We're appalled that he wants to cut way back on programs to help the poor and middle-class survive and advance in our society at the same time that he wants to hand out a $250,000 annual income tax break to millionaires. Over a four-year presidential term, that would be a million dollar tax break to everyone who made a million dollars a year for those four years. You can't make a proposal like that when you are worth a quarter of a billion dollars and then complain about the budget deficit and call for massive cuts in social spending, and then think you'll be above criticism.

As for Ann Romney's horse, Ms. Parker doesn't get into the specifics for a good reason. Apparently, the Romneys formed a corporation to deal with this horse, and they declared a $77,000 loss in 2010 for that corporation. If the corporation ever makes any money by, for example, breeding this Olympic-performing horse, they can write off those losses. And you thought the Olympics were about amateur sports!

Romney says our taxes - the lowest they have been in fifty years - are too high. Yet here we are subsidizing Romney's expensive hobby. Mitt and Ann are welfare queens, simple as that.

If they gave Olympic Gold Medals for lying, Mitt Romney would have a mansion full of them. Character does matter. Romney says he is a man of character and morals. When can the American people start to see some of that character and morality? After the election will be too late.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weirdo Liar of the Week, Scott Brown (R-MA) Doesn't See Dead People, but He Says He has Met With Kings And Queens

Weirdo Liar of the Week, Scott Brown (R-MA) Doesn't See Dead People, but He Says Met With Kings And Queens Before

Sen. Scott Brown's (R-M.A.) spokesman insisted Thursday that Brown misspoke when he made the odd comment that he's been in "secret meetings with kings and queens and prime ministers."

But it turns out that the Massachusetts Democratic Party -- which has been following Brown with video camera-armed trackers -- has recorded him uttering the same phrase at least five times before.

They have assembled those comments in the below video, set to the tune of Abba's "Dancing Queen." It's not subtle, interweaving photos of Elvis and the late Queen singer Freddy Mercury into footage of Brown saying kings and queens at events around the Bay State.

 No wonder brown uses tax payer subsidized health insurance. His meds probably costs a lot.

President Obama Was Right - The Private Sector is Doing Fine

President Obama Was Right - The Private Sector is Doing Fine - Corporate Profits Just Hit An All-Time High, Wages Just Hit An All-Time Low

In case you needed more confirmation that the priorities of US companies and the US economy are screwed up, here are three charts for you.

1) Corporate profit margins just hit an all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. (And some people are still saying that companies are suffering from "too much regulation" and "too many taxes." Maybe little companies are, but big ones certainly aren't).

Corporate profits are climbing yet private sector not adding jobs

2) Fewer Americans are working than at any time in the past three decades. One reason corporations are so profitable is that they don't employ as many Americans as they used to.

Right-Wing Media Side With Pro-Romney Forces In Wash. Post's Internal Bain Capital Dispute. Romney and Bain sent jobs, from companies they raided and sent them to Asia and Mexico. That is a fact and no amount of conservative Republican word games will change that fact. The reason conservative propagandists like Fox News, Hot Air and The Blaze are so outraged is that this fact about Romney screws with their lame attempts to portray Romney as someone who can relate to the middle-class.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What is Darrell Issa (R-CA) Hiding In His Fast and Furious Witch Hunt

Darrell Issa Shows Contemptible Disregard for the Constitution

He failed to build a credible case or a credible coalition for his initiative. After a day of increasingly ridiculous posturing, Issa secured the contempt citation he sought. But is came on a straight party-line vote that rendered the decision all but meaningless.

The chairman's heavy-handed style invoted the reproach that the contempt vote was "nothing more than a political witch hunt," as People for the American Way president Michael Keegan termed it.

“To be sure, Congress has a legitimate interest in investigating Operation Fast and Furious, but Chairman Issa and Republican majority on the Committee appear to be more interested in scoring political points than in getting to the bottom of what happened," argued Keegan, who added that, “The hoops the Committee is demanding the Attorney General jump through illustrate that these contempt hearings are as partisan as they are extreme. Over the course of this ‘investigation,’ the Committee has ordered the A.G. to produce documents whose confidentiality is protected by federal law, has refused to subpoena Bush Administration officials to testify about their knowledge of the operation during their time in office, has refused to allow public testimony from officials whose testimony counters Issa’s partisan narrative, and has repeatedly rejected the A.G.’s efforts to accommodate the committee, making compliance all but impossible."

Issa's actions undermined not just his own credibility but any sense that he and his allies might be acting in defense of -- or with any regard for -- the Constitution.

As TPro has already noted Issa has no case. he also seems to be following a political agenda rather than uncovering any new facts. Throughout his "investigation" he has refused to follow the trail back to a conservative Republican administration. fast and Furious does sound like it was a boneheaded idea, but it was an idea and action that started before Holder even took office.

New NSA docs contradict 9/11 claims - “I don’t think the Bush administration would want to see these released," an expert tells Salon. Conservative Republicans lied and thousands died. If Issa is concerned about justice how about prosecuting Bush and former administration officials for treason.

Middle class could face higher taxes under Mitt Romney - Republican plan, analysis finds

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Republican Weenie of the Day, Scott Brown (R-MA)

Republican Weenie of the Day, Scott Brown (R-MA)

Senator Scott Brown said he will accept a debate at the ­Edward M. Kennedy Institute but only on the condition that Vicki Kennedy stay neutral in the election and that MSNBC not be included as a broadcast partner.

The Brown campaign said in a press release that it would agree to allow former NBC ­anchor Tom Brokaw to moderate.

Elizabeth Warren has already accepted the Sept. 27 debate, but Brown had previously not committed. The candidates are jointly committed to two other televised debates so far, one in the Boston market and a second one in Western Massachusetts.

....Brown has agreed to two ­radio debates, including one moderated by Dan Rea, a conservative-leaning talk show host, and another hosted by Margery Eagan, a Boston Herald columnist, and Jim Braude, a Democrat and former Cambridge city councilor.

Brown is a afraid that at some point he will have to honestly answer some tough questions, instead of being tossed fuzz balls by spineless conservative puppets like Dan Rea. Once again brown is inadvertently sending the public a message about his character and courage - he admits he is a weenie, that he has plenty to hide and has no respect for the democratic process.

Conservative Republican Economic Policies Are a Threat to American Democracy

Conservative Republican Economic Policies Are a Threat to American Democracy

We certainly should worry about how the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans isn't paying its fair share of the cost of running the country. But we should be just as worried about how people at the other end are doing.

It's not just about the continuing wave of foreclosures. Millions of people are stuck in low-wage jobs that don't pay enough to make ends meet. And millions more live on incomes so low that it's hard to imagine how they survive.

Low-wage work is a pandemic. A third of our population ekes by on less than $36,000 for a family of three. That's 103 million people living on less than twice the poverty line, but most of them technically aren't poor or don't consider themselves poor. Yet they struggle every month to make ends meet and are one medical emergency or protracted illness away from bankruptcy.

Why so much low-wage work? Because over the past 40 years, well-paying industrial jobs disappeared, unions lost much of their clout, the minimum wage stagnated, and the field of competition in many areas became globalized.

The result: half of U.S. jobs now pay $34,000 or less a year. A quarter of U.S. jobs pay less than $22,000, the poverty line for a family of four. And the wages for those jobs have been stuck for four decades. Today, they pay only 7 percent more than they did in 1973.

Most families cope by having both parents work, but the rising number of single moms means that millions of households have just one possible worker. It's no wonder that 42 percent of single-mother families with children under 18 are poor.

Meanwhile, our safety net is in tatters at a time when 20.5 million people have incomes that amount to less than $9,500 a year. That's half the poverty line, which is currently pegged at $19,090 for a family of three. This number grew by almost 8 million between 2000 and 2010. Why? Cash assistance for the mothers and children who need it in many states has been scratched.

Many politicians still crow about the supposed "success" of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the threadbare national welfare program that replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children during the Clinton administration.

At last count, Wyoming has a total of 617 people enrolled in its TANF program. The kids it covers comprise just 4 percent of the children in the state's poor families. Twenty-five states now provide less than 20 percent of their poor children with this kind of support.

Nationwide, the percentage of kids covered by these benefits has declined to 27 percent from 68 percent before President Bill Clinton and the GOP-controlled Congress "reformed" the welfare system. As a result, we have 6 million people whose only income is from food stamps. Food stamps provide an income of a third of the poverty line — about $6,000 for a family of three. This is the most urgent problem we face.

Rep. Paul Ryan and his House Republican colleagues want to make matters worse. They're touting a budget that would slash virtually every program that helps low-income people. Their rationale: we're helping too much.

But the House Republicans evidently think we're not helping the rich enough — their budget proposes massive new tax cuts for the wealthy. Robin Hood would turn over in this grave.

Seeing that work produces a decent income and that our people are prepared for the jobs of the future is cost-effective and will benefit corporate bottom lines. But there's an even more fundamental reason to act. The concentration of power and wealth at the top and the sense of political exclusion and impossibility at the bottom threaten a new order that's antithetical to the animating ideals of our country. Poverty and inequality are threatening our democracy.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

Peter Edelman teaches at Georgetown University Law Center and co-directs the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy.
Even as we ever so slowly pull out of the economic crash caused by conservative Republicans, greedy bankers and arrogant Wall Street billionaires the people who are finding work are, on average, working for lower wages.

Government can be good and as efficient as the private sector - see chart above that measures citizens satisfaction.

The "Liberal Media" Continue To Hammer Obama

Experts Say Romney’s Defense Plan Doesn’t Add Up

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Facts About Conservative Republican Fairy Tales: State and Local Government Workers

Facts About Conservative Republican Fairy Tales: State and Local Government Workers 

This brief report presents some basic facts about state and local employees:  the jobs they perform, how many there are, how their pay compares with pay in the private sector, and how much states and localities — mainly school districts, cities, and counties — spend on pay and benefits.

Who Are Public Employees?

By far the largest share of state and local government workers are the nearly 7 million teachers, aides, and support staff working in the nation’s elementary, middle, and high schools.  (See Figure 1).  Other prominent categories of state and local employment are protective services (including police officers, fire fighters, and correctional officers), higher education, health care (including nurses and other workers at public hospitals and clinics), and transportation (including road maintenance workers and bus drivers).
How Has the Number of Public Employees Changed Over Time?

Over the last 30 years, the number of state and local workers grew modestly relative to the overall population, from about 59 per 1,000 in 1980 to 65 per 1,000 in 2008 before declining to 61 per 1,000 in 2011.  (See Figure 2).  All of that growth has been in education workers and reflects demographic changes and policy initiatives, such as efforts to reduce class sizes and better help children with special needs.  Over the same period the number of non-education workers remained about the same relative to the overall population until declining somewhat after 2008.   Since August 2008, the total number of state and local government employees has declined by 662,000.

How Do Their Pay and Benefits Compare to Those of Private-Sector Workers?

Studies find that public workers are paid 4 to 11 percent less than private-sector workers with similar education, job tenure, and other characteristics.[1]   This wage disadvantage is greatest for higher-wage public workers.  The typical middle-wage worker earns about 4 percent less in the public sector than the private sector.[2]  Low-wage state and local workers, by contrast, receive a small wage premium.  (See Figure 3.)

While the average pay for all public employees exceeds that of all private workers, this reflects the fact that public-sector jobs are much more likely to require higher education; teaching positions require a college or master’s degree, for example.  State and local employees are twice as likely as private-sector workers to have a college or advanced degree.[3]

Public-sector workers also earn less than their private-sector counterparts when one counts both their wages and benefits such as pensions and health insurance.  Benefits are typically more generous and secure for public employees than for most private-sector workers, but factoring in the value of these benefits does not eliminate the gap between state and local employees and their counterparts in comparable private-sector jobs.[4]  

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, widely recognized as an authoritative source on retirement income issues, recently found that total compensation for public-sector workers — including the value of benefits — is 4 percent less than that of comparable private-sector workers.[5]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sleaze Bags of the Week - Conservative Republican Super PACs Buying Democracy Like Its French Champagne

I love screwing over seniors and the disabled. My plan would gut that Marxist program called Medicare

Sleaze Bags of the Week - Conservative Republican Super PACs Buying Democracy Like Its French Champagne

If you’re visiting a candidate this summer and looking for a thoughtful Super PAC donors have money to spare, but it's democracy they're burning to the gift, might we suggest a nice Super PAC? Thanks to the Supreme Court and Citizens United, they’re all the rage among the mega-wealthy. All it takes is a little paperwork and a wad of cash and presto, you can have, as The Washington Post describes it, a “highly customized, highly personalized” political action committee.

It’s easy -- Super PACs come in all amounts and party affiliations. You don’t have to spend millions, although a gift that size certainly won’t be turned aside.  Cable TV tycoon Marc Nathanson got a Super PAC for his friend, longtime Democratic Congressman Howard Berman from California, and all it cost was $100,000. Down in North Carolina, Republican congressional candidate George Holding received a handsome Super PAC that includes $100,000 each from an aunt and uncle and a quarter of a million from a bunch of his cousins. Yes, nothing says family like a great big, homemade batch of campaign contributions.

You can start a Super PAC on your own or contribute to one that already exists. Super PACs are available for every kind of race – presidential, congressional or statewide. But there are other ways you can help buy an election. Look at the Wisconsin recall campaign of Republican Governor Scott Walker. At least fourteen billionaires rushed to the support of the corporate right’s favorite union basher. He outraised his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, by nearly eight to one. Most of his money came from out of state. More than sixty million dollars were spent, $45 million of it for Walker alone.

Here are just a few of the satisfied buyers:

Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks contributed more than half a million dollars on Scott Walker’s behalf. Her late husband built ABC Supply, America’s largest wholesale distributor of roofing, windows and siding.  Fearful the United States might become “a socialistic ideological nation,” she’s an ardent foe of unions and, in her words, “taxing job creators.” True to her aversion to taxes, she paid none in 2010, despite being worth, according to Forbes magazine, about $2.8 billion dollars.  

Before he launched his crusade against the collective bargaining rights of working people, Governor Walker had a conversation with Diane Hendricks, in which she asked, “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions… and become a right to work [state]? What can we do to help you?”

Walker replied, “We`re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is, we`re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”

And so he did.

Walker also hauled in checks for nearly half a million from the Texas oligarch Bob Perry. He made his fortune in the home building business and is best known nationally for contributing four and a half million to the Swift Boat campaign that smeared the Vietnam War record of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry back in 2004.

In Texas, Bob Perry is known for his cozy relationship with the state’s Supreme Court.  He once gave money to every one of its nine elected judges.  And guess what?  Those same nine judges later overturned an $800,000 judgment against his building company for faulty construction.  Bob the Builder, who’s naturally eager for help in the cause of tort reform -- that is, making it hard for everyday people to sue corporations like his for malfeasance -- has so far given four million to the pro-Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future, and millions to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC.

Then there’s casino king Sheldon Adelson, who gave Scott Walker’s cause $250,000. That’s a drop in the old champagne bucket compared to the $21 million Adelson’s family gave to the Super PAC that kept Newt Gingrich in the race long after the formaldehyde had been ordered.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Adelson did not long mourn Gingrich’s passing, and has now given at least $10 million to the Restore Our Future Super PAC supporting Romney. By all accounts, what he expects in return is that his candidate hold unions at bay and swear that Israel can do no wrong.

Next up on Scott Walker’s list of beneficent plutocrats: Rich DeVos, owner of the Orlando Magic basketball team and co-founder of the home products giant Amway, which, thanks to Republican leaders in Congress, once shared in a $19 million tax break after a million-dollar DeVos contribution to the Republican Party.  He’s a long-time member of the secretive Council for National Policy, a who’s who of right-wing luminaries.

Let’s not forget cowboy billionaire and born again Christian, Foster Friess, Rick Santorum’s moneyman, who told us about the good ol’ days when womenwould “use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly.”And Louis Moore Bacon, the billionaire founder of the hedge fund Moore Capital – which in 2010 was fined $25 million for attempted commodities manipulation. A big backer of Romney, he, too came to Walker’s aid in Wisconsin.

So did Dallas oil and gas wildcatter Trevor Rees-Jones, who’s given millions to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, in anticipation of another administration as friendly to taxpayer subsidies for big oil as the Rove-Bush White House. Last year, Rees-Jones’ company, Chief Oil, and a partner sold to Chevron nearly a quarter million acres in northeast America’s Marcellus Shale – the epicenter of the raging controversy over fracking. Estimated price: one billion dollars.

We could go on and name more, but you get the picture. These are the people who are helping to fund what the journalist Joe Hagan describes as a “tsunami of slime.” Even as they and their chosen candidates are afforded respectability in the value-free world of plutocracy, they can hide the fingerprints they leave on the bleeding corpse of democracy in part because each Super PAC comes with that extra special something every politician craves: plausible deniability. When one of their ads says something nasty and deceitful about an opponent – when it slanders and lies – the pol can shrug and say: “Not my doing. It’s the Super Pac that’s slinging the mud, not me.”

And that’s how the wealthy one percent does its dirty business. They are, by the way, as we were reminded by CNN’s Charles Riley in his report, “Can 46 Rich Dudes Buy an Election?” almost all men, mostly white, “and so far, the vast majority of their contributions have been made to conservative groups.”  They want to own this election.  So if there are any of you left out there with millions to burn, better buy your candidate now, while supplies last.

by Bill Moyers. Reprinted for educational purposes.

Since that column was written Sheldon Adelson has said he plans to give -not $10 million to Romney, but a $100 million. Democracy has always been tainted by money. It has simply become worse then ever, a nightmare of perverted democracy. Conservatives Republicans have no conscience or moral qualms about it because winning is everything, If they have to win down and dirty, they will. Conservative Republicans have given lip service to morals for decades, but they never actually live up to their moralizing.

TV Media Ignore Romney's Clean Energy Contradictions. Admittedly it will take a little more than money to become president. Romney is going to lie about everything all the time.

Romney's Big Lie on the Economy Now Bigger than Ever 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mitt Hypocrite - Romney Bashes Stimulus, Then Fundraises In Home Of Stimulus Recipient

Romney Bashes Stimulus, Then Fundraises In Home Of Stimulus Recipient

Mitt Romney spent this morning in Florida trashing the stimulus, saying the Obama administration “borrowed almost a trillion dollars but used it to protect government.”

But just hours after the speech, Romney boarded a plane to Tennessee to fundraise with a beneficiary of Obama’s stimulus funds.

Romney will spend Tuesday night at a $10,000-a-head fundraiser at the house of Orrin H Ingram II, Chairman of the Ingram Barge Company — which received $130,000 in federal stimulus money. Ingram Barge Company is a private company, not a government entity.

Romney has a record of saying one thing and doing another when it comes to the stimulus. He once even attacked the stimulus at a college that took stimulus funds.

Romney, never having done an honest day's work in his life considers himself a "success". No wonder he says the stimulus did not work, but will take funds from a business that benefited from the stimulus. Inside Romney's head is a full-time fairy tale machine that makes everything make sense to Romney and his supporters, yet seems like what it is to normal Americans - the insular world of a true elitist where no one has ever told hum he is wrong.

Fox's Karl Rove Accuses Obama Campaign Of Attempting To Buy The Election

On Sean Hannity's radio show today, Fox contributor Karl Rove said that the Obama campaign will attempt to win the election by "trying to take their wallet and buying it."

Karl Rove, of course, is the co-founder of a large Republican Super PAC. In an interview with Reuters in April, Rove said he intended to spend $300 million through his Super PAC during the 2012 election cycle: [emphasis added]

    This year, thanks to the American Crossroads "Super PAC" organization that he co-founded, Rove will have vast resources to fertilize Romney's campaign: a massive wallet, one of the loudest megaphones in conservative media, and close ties to Romney's campaign.

Karl Rove has the usual Conservative Republican standards - toss out all honor, all truth, all integrity, all genuine patriotism - what matters is the radical anti-American agenda of conservatism.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Despite The Media Narrative, Obama Was Right About Private Sector

Why President Obama was right even if his choice of words was not perfect. The Private sector is doing well and the public sector is under assault, thus slowing the recovery, America’s Hidden Austerity Program

Why is the recovery from this recession different from recoveries from past recessions? In the previous two recessions, it took 32 months for nonfarm employment to reattain its June 1990 peak, and 48 months for it to reattain its January 2001 peak. Assuming the economy keeps adding nonfarm employment at the current rate, it will have taken 88 months to reattain its January 2008 peak. The explanation most often heard is that “financial crises are different”: after a debt crisis, shaken consumers are reluctant to spend and shaken firms are reluctant to hire, slowing private-sector job growth even after the recession has bottomed out.

There is some truth in this, but it is not the whole story. In fact, while the latest recession was particularly deep, the recovery in private-sector employment, once it finally started, has not been particularly slow by recent historical standards. In the 27 months since the start of the current employment recovery, the private sector has added 4.3 million jobs, fewer than the 5.0 million it added in the 27 months after February 1992 but not many fewer than the 4.5 million it added in the equivalent period after August 2003.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

But there is something historically different about this recession and its aftermath: in the past, local government employment has been almost recession-proof. This time it’s not. Going back as long as the data have been collected (1955), with the one exception of the 1981 recession, local government employment continued to grow almost every month regardless of what the economy threw at it. But since the latest recession began, local government employment has fallen by 3 percent, and is still falling. In the equivalent period following the 1990 and 2001 recessions, local government employment grew 7.7 and 5.2 percent. Even following the 1981 recession, by this stage local government employment was up by 1.4 percent.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Who is losing these local government jobs? In 1981 it was mostly teachers. Now, the losses are shared by teachers and other local government workers alike.

State government is much less important than local because it is a much smaller share of total nonfarm employment: 4 percent versus 10 percent. Nevertheless, a similar story can be told there. This far into each recession since 1955, state government employment had grown. Since the start of the latest recession, state government employment is still down 1.2 percent.

Without this hidden austerity program, the economy would look very different. If state and local governments had followed the pattern of the previous two recessions, they would have added 1.4 million to 1.9 million jobs and overall unemployment would be 7.0 to 7.3 percent instead of 8.2 percent.

This post is just pissing in the wind. The Conservative Republican media has already written its narrative and turned a poor choice of words into what they see as one of the biggest gaffes ever. The private sector has been growing. Corporate profits are still high. Executive pay is still very high. At the same time public sector employees are being laid off. Some teachers and police can find other work, but those are specialty skills. If you trained to be a teacher that does not translate into easily find a job in engineering or programming, and the same is true for police and firefighters.

Stimulus funds are still creating some jobs- FTA Deputy Administrator McMillan Joins Missouri and Illinois Officials to Kick Off Eads Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

The Crazy Anti-Americans at National Review Cling To Fantasy That Obama Is A Secret Radical

In The World of Shadowy Campaign Cash, Mitt Romney, Who has The Values of a Thug, Rules

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Scott Brown(R-MA)'s Email Revelations Make Him The Corrupt Puppet of the Week

Scott Brown(R-MA)'s Email Revelations Make Him The Corrupt Puppet of the Week

In Massachusetts' closely-watched U.S. Senate race, incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R) frequently boasts that he was "the tie-breaking vote on Wall Street reform." There are a few problems with the claim, including the fact that when a bill passes 59 to 39, no one cast the "tie-breaking vote."

But the point of the claim is that Brown wants voters to perceive him as someone who's willing to challenge the financial industry, and who won't do Wall Street's bidding. What the campaign claims don't include, however, is the fine print.

    Senator Scott Brown has trumpeted his role in casting the deciding vote in favor of the 2010 Wall Street overhaul, but records show that after he voted for the law, he worked to shield banks and other financial institutions from some of its tough provisions.

    E-mails between Brown's legislative director and US Treasury Department officials show that Brown advocated for a loose interpretation of the law so that banks could more easily engage in high-risk investments.

    While the law, known as Dodd-Frank, sets broad parameters for how the financial industry must behave, the interpretation of the law, and the rules that follow, will govern Wall Street's daily business.

Brown, who has benefited from the remarkable generosity of Wall Street donors, took a particular interest in the Volcker rule, which the Massachusetts Republican weakened in the Senate before the vote, and then urged the Treasury Department to loosely enforce after the reform package became law, urging regulators to interpret the rule "broadly and to offer banks some leeway to invest in hedge funds and private equity funds."

Simon Johnson, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and now a professor at MIT, told the Boston Globe the positions outlined in Brown's e-mails amount to a "significant loosening of the regulations and absolutely serving the interests of people who do not want to have meaningful reform.'' Johnson added, "This is a treatise on how to gut the thing."

Pat Garofalo recently added, "According to the Center for Responsive Politics, employees from the securities and investment industries have given more money to Brown than those of any other industry. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase, which just lost billions of dollars on the sort of trading that the Volcker Rule was originally meant to curtail, are amongst his top ten donors."

Bank robbers and other thieves should fellow Scott Brown's example. he and his Wall Street pals are responsible for stealing trillions in assets from the middle-class. Brown thinks he should be rewarded with another term so he can help special interests steal some more. They don't use a gun to steal, they use influence pedaling.

Mitt Romney's Pants Are on Fire. Does America Want a Sleazy Serial Liar As President

Mitt Romney's Pants Are on Fire. Does America Want a Sleazy Serial Liar As President

Yesterday, Mitt Romney gave a big speech in which he accused Obama of lighting a “prairie fire of debt.” It’s a good line, and it has received widespread media coverage.

Romney’s speech has already been dissected by Jonathan Chait and Steve Benen. They note that it’s entirely at odds with conventional understanding of how deficits work, and utterly disconnected from context, rendering it almost unquantifiably misleading.

But I wanted to make another point. If you scan through all the media attention Romney’s speech received, you are hard-pressed to find any news accounts that tell readers the following rather relevant points:

1) Nonpartisan experts believe Romney’s plans would increase the deficit far more than Obama’s would.

2) George W. Bush’s policies arguably are more responsible for increasing the deficit than Obama's are.

Oh, sure, many of the news accounts contain the Obama campaign’s response to Romney’s speech; the Obama campaign put out a widely-reprinted statement arguing that Romney’s plans would increase the deficit and that he’d return to policies that created it in the first place.

But this shouldn’t be a matter of partisan opinion. On the first point, independent experts think an actual set of facts exists that can be used to determine what the impact of Romney’s policies on the deficit would be. And according to those experts, based on what we know now, Romney’s policies would explode the deficit far more than Obama’s would.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has taken a close look at this question. It has determined that relative to current policy — that is, if you keep the Bush tax cuts in place, as Romney wants to do — Romney’s tax cutting plans would increase the deficit by nearly $5 trillion over 10 years. That’s on top of keeping the Bush tax cuts for the rich. Romney has promised to close various loopholes to pay for his tax cuts, but he hasn’t specified which ones. Until he does, the Tax Policy Center concludes, his plan would cost $5 trillion — which would be added, yes, to the deficit.

By contrast, Obama’s plans would not increase the deficit by anything close to that amount. Relative to current policy, the Tax Policy Center has found, Obama’s plan would reduce the deficit by approximately $2 trillion over the next decade. Now, under Obama, the deficit would still increase. That’s because current policy means we’re forgoing the $4.5 trillion in revenues we’d gain if we let all the Bush tax cuts expire. But neither candidate is going to do that. Obama, however, would end the Bush tax cuts for the rich and bring in revenues through a variety of other tax increases. Bottom line: relative to current policy, Obama’s plan would reduce the deficit by bringing in $180 billion or more in revenues a year, or approximately $2 trillion over 10 years; Romeny’s plan would increase the deficit by nearly $500 billion a year — $5 trillion over ten years.

The Tax Policy Center’s Roberton Williams summed it up perfectly in a quote to me:

    “The bottom line is that whatever baseline you use, until Romney makes good on his promise to pay for his tax cuts, he would increase the deficit far more than Obama would.”

On the second point, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has determined that the policies put in place under Bush are the main driver of the deficits that are projected over the next decade.

Yet anti-American PACs like American Crossroads are running ads complaining about the deficit. They support a Romney presidency and the Romney/Paul Ryan (R-WI) economic plan which will increase the deficit and mean severe cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Obama's debt bad, conservative Republican debt is good. Its the Bush 43 presidency redux. Tell the Big Lie and repeat constantly.

Another thing the current pro-Romney ads are claiming is that Romney is a job creator. We have been through this round of lies already and the Romney as job creator myth will continue. Only the numbers will never add up. If Romney practiced accounting the way he figures his jobs record he would be arrested for fraud, but since he is a conservative he gets away with pants on fire lies. The ads are only using the jobs that some companies added, but they do not count the number of jobs lost. In a rare moment of candor - Romney Camp Admits That Its Bain Job Creation Number Is Bogus

Mitt Romney, last night’s Iowa caucus winner, has been on the campaign trail claiming that the private equity firm he ran, known as Bain Capital, was responsible for creating loads of jobs. Romney responded to criticism about his time at Bain by saying, “I’m very happy in my former life; we helped create over 100,000 new jobs.”

When a group of Romney backers ran an ad making the same claim, they were unable to back up the number with data. And as it turns out, the Romney camp can’t either, as it admitted that the statistic is nothing but cherry-picked job growth from a few companies that did well after they were bought by Bain:

    [Romney spokesman Eric] Fehrnstrom says the 100,000 figure stems from the growth in jobs from three companies that Romney helped to start or grow while at Bain Capital: Staples (a gain of 89,000 jobs), The Sports Authority (15,000 jobs), and Domino’s (7,900 jobs).

    This tally obviously does not include job losses from other companies with which Bain Capital was involved — and are based on current employment figures, not the period when Romney worked at Bain. (Indeed, Romney made his comments in response to a former employee of American Pad & Paper Co. who says he lost his job after Bain Capital took it private.)

Bain Capital has been responsible for thousands of layoffs at companies it bankrupted, such as American Pad & Paper, Dade International, and LIVE Entertainment, which Romney’s stat completely leaves out. He’s also taking credit for jobs created long after he left the firm to launch his political career. To sum it up, the stat Romney uses is incredibly dishonest, like much of his jobs rhetoric.

Only in conservative LalaLand could Romney be thought of as a "success". When the rich rob the middle-class to make money that is a kind of theft, not success.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thank Your Conservative Republican Neighbors For Killing America The Land of Opportunity

Thank Your Conservative Republican Neighbors For Killing America The Land of Opportunity

America likes to think of itself as a land of opportunity, and others view it in much the same light. But, while we can all think of examples of Americans who rose to the top on their own, what really matters are the statistics: to what extent do an individual’s life chances depend on the income and education of his or her parents?

Nowadays, these numbers show that the American dream is a myth. There is less equality of opportunity in the United States today than there is in Europe – or, indeed, in any advanced industrial country for which there are data.

This is one of the reasons that America has the highest level of inequality of any of the advanced countries – and its gap with the rest has been widening. In the “recovery” of 2009-2010, the top 1% of US income earners captured 93% of the income growth. Other inequality indicators – like wealth, health, and life expectancy – are as bad or even worse. The clear trend is one of concentration of income and wealth at the top, the hollowing out of the middle, and increasing poverty at the bottom.

It would be one thing if the high incomes of those at the top were the result of greater contributions to society, but the Great Recession showed otherwise: even bankers who had led the global economy, as well as their own firms, to the brink of ruin, received outsize bonuses.

A closer look at those at the top reveals a disproportionate role for rent-seeking: some have obtained their wealth by exercising monopoly power; others are CEOs who have taken advantage of deficiencies in corporate governance to extract for themselves an excessive share of corporate earnings; and still others have used political connections to benefit from government munificence – either excessively high prices for what the government buys (drugs), or excessively low prices for what the government sells (mineral rights).

Likewise, part of the wealth of those in finance comes from exploiting the poor, through predatory lending and abusive credit-card practices. Those at the top, in such cases, are enriched at the direct expense of those at the bottom.

It might not be so bad if there were even a grain of truth to trickle-down economics – the quaint notion that everyone benefits from enriching those at the top. But most Americans today are worse off – with lower real (inflation-adjusted) incomes – than they were in 1997, a decade and a half ago. All of the benefits of growth have gone to the top.

America has become a country not “with justice for all,” but rather with favoritism for the rich and justice for those who can afford it – so evident in the foreclosure crisis, in which the big banks believed that they were too big not only to fail, but also to be held accountable.

Defenders of America’s inequality argue that the poor and those in the middle shouldn’t complain. While they may be getting a smaller share of the pie than they did in the past, the pie is growing so much, thanks to the contributions of the rich and superrich, that the size of their slice is actually larger. The evidence, again, flatly contradicts this. Indeed, America grew far faster in the decades after World War II, when it was growing together, than it has since 1980, when it began growing apart.

Conservative Republicans seem to be stuck in permanent adolescent mode with a wild crush on the super rich kids. That is not politics, that is some kind of deep-seated physiological problem. Conservatives are concerned that some poor kid and his mother might be getting some apple juice they do not deserve, but could care less that billionaires - 1% of so of the population - are sucking up three fifths of the nation's productivity.

Romney's (non) military record faces new scrutiny. Just call Mitt, Mr. Deferment.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker(R) Has Terrible Economic Record. Anti-American Fox News Spins The Numbers For Their Friend Scott

Wisconsin Gov Scott Walker(R) Has Terrible Economic Record. Anti-American Fox News Spins The Numbers For Their Friend Scott

Bill O'Reilly Touted Walker's Economic Record. In his Talking Points Memo segment, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly highlighted the drop in Wisconsin's unemployment rate, saying that Walker "has a pretty good story to tell." O'Reilly continued: "When he took office in January 2011, Wisconsin unemployment stood at 7.7 percent. Now it's down to 6.7 percent, according to the last reading in April." [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 6/4/12]

....Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin's Job Numbers During Walker's First 13 Months In Office Was The "Worst Among The 50 States." In March, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel compared job gains and losses among all 50 states between December 2010 and January 2011 and found Wisconsin's performance under Walker to be the "worst among the 50 states":

    In Gov. Walker's first 13 months (using December 2010 as the baseline), the state lost 8,500 non-farm jobs. That was worst among the 50 states.  Only four other states experienced a net decrease in that time. The chart below shows where other Midwestern states rank and shows the top state for job growth, Texas:

    Journal Sentinel 50 States Job Situation 2011

    If you take the most recent 12 months -- January 2011 to January 2012 - the state lost 12,500 non-farm jobs, also worst in the nation, a fact Democrats have seized on. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/15/12]

Wisconsin's Economic Recovery Under Walker Has Lagged Behind Surrounding States

Economic Policy Institute: Under Walker, "Wisconsin Is Lagging With Employment" Compared To Surrounding Midwest States. An Economic Policy Institute analysis of BLS data shows that in the year since Walker took office in January 2011, "Wisconsin stands out in the region, lagging with employment significantly lower -- by 0.5 percent -- in Jan. 2012 than a year earlier":

EPI Midwest Job Trends 2011

[Economic Policy Institute, 3/16/12]

Journal Sentinel: Under Walker, Wisconsin "Has Lagged Substantially Behind The National Pace In Private Sector Job Growth." A chart from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows that in the year since Walker took office, Wisconsin "has lagged substantially behind the national pace in private-sector job growth":

Why do Scott Walker and Fox News hate America and our ideals?

Conservative Republicans Want to Rise Taxes for Low Income Americans and Lower Taxes Again for Millionaires

Conservative Republicans Want to Rise Taxes for Low Income Americans and Lower Taxes Again for Millionaires

An oft-repeated Republican talking point is that close to half of all federal income tax filers have no tax liability. Prominent Republicans often imply that these people ought to be paying federal income taxes — and that they don’t is a major cause of the budget deficit.

Last year, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the ranking Republican on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, declared that taxes on the rich should not be raised until the poor are taxed. “I think many taxpayers are skeptical that the answer to our fiscal problems is for them to sacrifice more, when almost half of all households are not paying any income taxes,” Mr. Hatch said.

In April, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House majority leader, said it was “unfair” that 45 percent of people don’t pay any federal income taxes. Asked if he wanted to increase taxes on these people, he replied, “You’ve got to discuss that issue.”

In May, Richard Mourdock, the Republican Senate nominee in Indiana, likened the current split between taxpayers and nontaxpayers to the pre-Civil War division of the nation between slave and free. Consciously using Abraham Lincoln’s famous “house divided” terminology from 1858, Mr. Mourdock said, “When 47 percent are paying no income taxes — they do pay Social Security, but they are not paying income taxes — and 53 percent are carrying the load, we are a house divided.”

In a McClatchy-Marist College poll in early November, 71 percent of Republicans said they believed the poor should not be exempt from income taxes and only 26 percent said they thought the poor should not have to pay them.

This is ironic, because two of the measures most responsible for the rise in the number of nontaxpayers are the earned income tax credit and the child credit — both Republican initiatives. Together they account for 30 percent of the nontaxpaying population, according to the Tax Policy Center.

Once upon a time, Republicans were more concerned about the number of rich people with no income tax liability.

On Jan. 17, 1969, just days before Richard Nixon’s inauguration, the departing treasury secretary, Joseph Barr, disclosed that in 1967, 155 Americans with an income of more than $200,000 had no income tax liability, including 21 with an income above $1 million.

This was considered such a scandal that Nixon sent a tax package drafted by the Johnson administration to Congress with his endorsement. When the Tax Reform Act of 1969 was enacted, including a minimum tax to force rich people to pay something, he praised that provision.

As Nixon said in his signing statement:

    A large number of high-income persons who have paid little or no federal income taxes will now bear a fairer share of the tax burden through enactment of a minimum income tax comparable to the proposal that I submitted to the Congress, which closes the loopholes that permitted much of this tax avoidance.

Ronald Reagan defended his tax reform proposal on the grounds that it would reduce the number of nontaxpaying rich people. In a June 6, 1985, speech, he said:

    We’re going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that have allowed some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share. In theory, some of those loopholes were understandable, but in practice they sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary, and that’s crazy. It’s time we stopped it.

Among the specific measures Reagan supported to increase tax fairness was an increase in the tax on capital gains to 28 percent from 20 percent.

From Bruce Bartlett held senior policy roles in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and served on the staffs of Representatives Jack Kemp and Ron Paul. Bartlest is partially wrong on one point - the earned income credit - mostly aimed at low income families - was a bi-partisan effort. remember when every once in a while Washington would do something good and bi-partisan. Conservatism has become a joke. It ran up massive deficits and as Dick Cheney explained - "deficits don't matter". Then that Democratic guy became president and suddenly deficits became urgent. Only conservative busted the economy - not a good time to focus on deficits. A time when sane people would focus on rising revenue from the people that can most afford it - the very wealthy.

The knuckle draggers at Breitbarf are trying to recycle the Bill Ayers meme against Obama. Not able to find any actual damning evidence they just make things up - because having all the integrity of a cockroach is a conservative value - Bombshell Exclusive: Professor Did Not See Barack Obama at Bill Ayers’ House!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sleaze Bag of the Week - Scott Brown (R-MA) is Getting Desperate and Dirty with Sexist Attack On Warren

Sleaze Bag of the Week - Scott Brown (R-MA) is Getting Desperate
and Dirty with Sexist Attack On Warren

In my latest column, “Dems' war FOR women,” I suggested that a power-hungry politics and rightist extremism has led Republicans into attacks on programs vital for women and against pay equity for women. These attacks at times veer into personal campaigns against the women themselves. Witness the many efforts against Hillary Clinton over the years and now, in Massachusetts, witness the slander against Elizabeth Warren by Scott Brown.

In a recent column suggesting that Warren is the great voice of workers, consumers and men and women who are the backbone of the nation I did suggest that Scott Brown was decent. It did not take long for Brown to prove me wrong about that. His dishonest and scandalous attacks against Elizabeth Warren put to shame Brown's argument that he is some sort of "bipartisan" "reasonable man.”

In the end, Scott Brown is just another politician, a handsome and charming guy who will ultimately do anything to win when he fears he could lose.

First Brown implied that Warren was a Harvard elitist. Presumably Brown would attack John F. Kennedy for the same reason. Now Brown suggests that Elizabeth Warren is not really qualified to teach at Harvard. Huh? Brown's using the old Karl Rove-style "dog whistle" attack, suggesting Warren just maybe got the Harvard job because of affirmative action.

What sexist garbage it is that Scott Brown is trying to sell?

Elizabeth Warren got the Harvard job because she was supremely qualified, as are most women who are attacked in this way.

Elizabeth Warren is outstanding by any and all measures at Harvard, admired by her peers and respected by her students.

What is special about Elizabeth is that given her enormous talents she could have sold out like so many others, and made her fortune with any law firm or investment bank, but did not. Instead:

She has fought for women and men who are workers and consumers, fought for economic fairness and financial integrity, fought for lower credit card rates and against banks that charge Mafia-like rates, fought for homeowners against banks that would foreclose upon them (which is why many of those banks hate Warren and support Brown).

If you like the banks, vote for Brown. If you like the consumers, vote for Warren.

Warren has fought in support of active-duty military troops, in support of America's military families, and against those who cheat and abuse our military families and vets (who desperately favor Brown).

Warren has fought for the middle class, for the poor, for the workers and military families and consumers of Massachusetts.

No, Sen. Brown, Elizabeth Warren is not some woman who got a job through affirmative action. She is partially Native American but she has achieved much in life not because of her gender or heritage as you, Sen. Brown, and your great ally, Karl Rove, would suggest, but because of her talent, ability, integrity and hard work.

Elizabeth Warren could have made tens of millions of dollars selling out to greed, as so many of Scott Brown's campaign donors have, but instead, she is one of the most courageous fighters on behalf of workers and consumers and veterans who has ever served in public life in Washington or anywhere else.

Shame on you, Scott Brown.

Thank goodness there are still good people like Elizabeth Warren who are still willing to serve in public life in a system too often dominated by charmers who use dirty politics to support those who cheat the workers and consumers and vets Elizabeth Warren has used her God-given talents fighting for throughout her career.

Many Americans were wondering just who Scott Brown is, he has so many faces it is hard to keep up. Now desperate that he might lose the election to someone who is genuinely concerned with working families, brown has shown his real face. he is a petty pathetic little wing-nut conservative in the pocket of special interests and he cannot compete with a woman of substance and the kind of integrity America needs in Washington. What is Elizabeth Warren's big unforgivable crime? her parents told her she was part Native-American.Conservatives, you know those people who lied us into a 3 trillion dolar war and bankrupted the country wants an election decided on what might be slight exaggerations from someone's parents. Conservatives are once again taking Americans for fools. Let us hope for the future of this great country that this time conservative smears do not work.

11 Ways Mitt Romney Shows He is a Clueless Rich-Guy

The Austerity Agenda is just an excuse to give working class Americans the shaft.