Saturday, September 29, 2012

Republicans Have Abandoned All Pretense To Morality With Shameful 'Dreams From My Real Father'

Republicans Have Abandoned All Pretense To Morality With Shameful 'Dreams From My Real Father'

After four years of invective, four years during which the right has called President Obama a traitor, a communist, a fraud, an affirmative-action case, a terrorist-sympathizer, and a tyrant, its shrillest voices have been reduced to the most primal insult of all. They are calling Obama’s mother a whore.

For a while now, pictures purporting to show Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, modeling in 1950s bondage and fetish porn have been floating around the darker corners of the Internet. Now, though, they’ve made their way into a pseudo-documentary, Joel Gilbert’s Dreams From My Real Father, which is being mailed to voters in swing states, promoted by several Tea Party groups and by at least one high-level Republican. At the same time, Dinesh D’Souza’s latest book, Obama’s America—the first of all his works to hit the top spot on The New York Times bestseller list—has a chapter essentially calling Dunham a fat slut. If Obama is reelected, it’s hard to imagine where the right goes from here.

It’s tempting to ignore Dreams From My Real Father because it’s so preposterous. The movie claims that Obama’s actual father was the poet and left-wing activist Frank Marshall Davis, who Dunham met through her father, who was a CIA agent merely posing as a furniture salesman. “My election was not a sudden political phenomenon,” says the narrator, speaking as if he were Obama reading his autobiography. “It was the culmination of an American socialist movement that my real father, Frank Marshall Davis, nurtured in Chicago and Hawaii, and has been quietly infiltrating the U.S. economy, universities, and media for decades.”

Davis enjoyed taking nude photos of women, and the images said to be of Dunham, to which the director pays lascivious attention, are presented as evidence of their intimate relationship. “These photos were taken a few weeks before 1960, when Mom was about five weeks pregnant with me,” the narrator says. “Frank then sold the photos to men’s mail-order catalogs.”

What matters here is not that a lone crank made a vulgar conspiracy video, one that outdoes even birther propaganda in its lunacy and bad taste. It’s that the video is finding an audience on the right. Gilbert claims that more than a million copies of Dreams From My Real Father have been mailed to voters in Ohio, as well between 80,000 and 100,000 to voters in Nevada and 100,000 to voters in New Hampshire. “We’re putting plans in place, as of next week, to send out another 2 [million] or 3 million, just state by state,” he told me.

Newsbeast discusses President Obama’s early life and his reelection campaign.

Gilbert won’t say who is funding this distribution, and there’s no way to verify his numbers. Had he not made other right-wing documentaries in the past, I might suspect that the whole thing is a brilliant conceptual art project about the limits of anti-Obama credulity. But the fact is, people are reporting receiving the disc in the mail. Tea Party groups and conservative churches are screening it. It was shown at a right-wing film festival in Tampa during the Republican National Convention, and by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum Council in Missouri.

What would Republicans do without the politics of hysteria and character assassination. They might have to start actually standing up for something that resembles American values and ideals. And they can't do that because genuine democratic republicanism ( note the small r - Thomas Jefferson started the Democratic-Republicans Party - the beginnings of what has been shorted to the Democratic Party), because that political philosophy, is the opposite of what conservatism stands for.More here, CNN Lets Dinesh D'Souza Peddle Conspiracy Theory That Obama Is "Anti-American"

Noted White Lady Ann Coulter Explains the Black Experience to Whoopi Goldberg. I guess Coulter deserves some kind of kudos. She has not worked for a living during her adult life, yet make enough money to live in Palm beach and hang out at expensive night clubs. She better love America, what other country could she find so many rubes willing to finance her luxurious lifestyle in return for being no more than a bad insult comic.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or as some call him Scott Brown(R-MS) plans a career on the stage should his stint as a hand puppet for Mitch McConnell (R-KY) fall through -  Scott Brown Won't Release Client List While Demanding Elizabeth Warren's.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shaking With Paranoia, Conservatives Hire Expert Sleazy Character Assassin To Take Out Obama

Shaking With Paranoia, Conservatives Hire Sleazy Expert Character Assassin To Take Out Obama

On Tuesday, the New York Times ran a story about how synchronized the anti-Obama messages in unrelated television commercials seem to be, despite being aired by a variety of ostensibly independent, conservative political groups involved in the 2012 Presidential campaign. “To see many of the anti-Obama ads that have run on television recently, it would be easy to conclude that they were made in the same studios, by the same producers working for the same campaign,” Jeremy W. Peters wrote.

....Recent F.E.C. filings show that McCarthy’s tiny Washington, D.C.,-based firm, McCarthy Hennings Media Inc., has been simultaneously involved in producing anti-Obama ads for Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a nonprofit “social welfare” group masterminded by the Republican political operative Karl Rove; the separate nonprofit “social welfare” group Americans for Prosperity, co-founded and partly funded by the conservative industrialists Charles and David Koch; and Restore Our Future, the main pro-Romney Super PAC. The filings show that during August and the beginning of September, McCarthy’s firm is identified as the “media production” company for $21.8 million worth of ad buys by Americans for Prosperity, a $21.7 million worth of ad buys for Restore Our Future, and $7. 1 million worth of ad buys for Crossroads GPS. Cumulatively, as the Times reported, these outside ads have filled huge gaps for Romney’s campaign, not just supplementing his campaign’s ad buys but at times outspending them.

Romney and Ryan cannot win on health care policy, tax policy, foreign policy, education policy, care for veterans policy, environmental policy, science policy, internet freedom policy or much of any other policy that will make government effective for the majority of Americans. So what do they do, they flood the airwaves with batsh*t insane propaganda. Yes it is legal to do that. To win an election like that is not an American value. It is not a Christian value. It is the values of radical who believe in The Big Lie.

A Republican columnists at Politico named Roger Simon did what he thought was some clever satire about Romney being behind in the polls and Paul Ryan's likely resentment. Saying that Ryan's political future was tarnished by the "stench" of Romney. because it is so badly written, some people of course believed that Ryan did call Romney The Stench. While right-wing bloggers try to blame the "liberal" media, they have only their own camp to blame.  This is Simon's orginal post, Paul Ryan vs. The Stench. Republican pundits should stay away from satire, they don't do it well. Add that to the very long list of things for which they are incompetent.

Romney was wrong about there being 47%. It is more like 96% of Decent Americans who pay into and receive benefits from government, including millionaires.

Eric Bolling's Obama Conspiracy Theory Trifecta. America, please forgive Mr. Bolling, he is part of the Fox News attempt to give jobs to people are are too weird to get honest work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

William Jacobson of Cornell Commits Egregious Ethical Lapse in Smear Against Elizabeth Warren

William Jacobson of Cornell Commits Egregious Ethical Lapse in Smear Against Elizabeth Warren

At Legal In.sur.rec.tion, Professor Jacobson contends that Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Senate candidate, liberal firebrand, and Harvard law professor, has  engaged or appears to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the state of Massachusetts.  In support, Professor Jacobson points to numerous briefs either filed by Ms. Warren or with her listed as being “of counsel” in various federal courts around the country in which her office address is listed as being in Massachusetts.  As Ms. Warren is not, and does not appear to have ever been, licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, but instead appears to have been licensed only in New Jersey and/or Texas at all pertinent times, Professor Jacobson argues that Ms. Warren’s actions constituted the unauthorized practice of law in violation of Massachusetts law.

If Professor Jacobson’s analysis is correct, this is an extraordinarily serious charge for which Professor Warren should be held accountable both at the ballot box and before the appropriate ethics panel.  However, and with all due respect to Professor Jacobson, none of the facts alleged would constitute the unauthorized practice of law nor any other violation of relevant ethics rules.

In making his arguments, Professor Jacobson makes a fatal error by assuming that merely preparing legal briefs in (seemingly non-Massachusetts) federal cases or providing advice on federal law while located in Massachusetts and maintaining a primary office in Massachusetts constitutes the “practice of law in Massachusetts.”    Although he cites several cases for this proposition, these cases do not go nearly as far as Professor Jacobson assumes, as they each involve cases wholly within the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts courts, specifically Massachusetts real estate transactions and Massachusetts probate matters.

He further errs in deeming “on point” a 1976 case in which the Massachusetts state bar issued an ethics opinion prohibiting a law firm from listing a “Boston Office” address on its letterhead where the firm lacked any Massachusetts-admitted attorneys but instead sought to claim that a Massachusetts firm with which it had a relationship falling short of an “associate” or “partnership” relationship constituted its “Boston Office.”   This case, however, is not “on point,” as it is not an unauthorized practice of law case but is instead a misleading communications case in which the firm was prohibited from “holding itself out to the public” as having a Massachusetts office.  Jacobson incorrectly assumes that merely listing an office location in a court filing, rather than a communication “to the public” constitutes “holding oneself out to the public” as being licensed in the jurisdiction in which one’s office is located.

But most importantly, Professor Jacobson ignores Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 5.5(d), which states that:

    “A lawyer admitted in another United States jurisdiction, and not disbarred or suspended from practice in any jurisdiction, may provide legal services in this jurisdiction that…are services that the lawyer is authorized to provide by federal law or other law of this jurisdiction.”

The Official Comments to Rule 5.5(d) further elaborate to make explicit that 5.5(d) permits such an attorney to have even a “systematic and continuous presence in [Massachusetts] for the practice of law as well as provide legal services on a temporary basis.”

As the cases to which Professor Jacobson has drawn our attention are entirely cases from the federal courts, and indeed appear to be cases lying even outside the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts federal courts, and as there seems to be no allegation that Professor Warren was unauthorized to appear in those cases, the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct appear to explicitly exempt Professor Warren’s actions in those cases from the prohibitions on the unauthorized practice of law.

Although it is true that Rule 5.5(d) does “not authorize communications advertising legal services to prospective clients in [Massachusetts] by lawyers who are admitted to practice in other jurisdictions,” merely listing the location of one’s office in an official court filing in which one is properly authorized to appear cannot possibly be construed as a “communication advertising legal services.”   To hold otherwise would be to make Rule 5.5(d) meaningless since attorneys are typically required to list their office addresses in official court filings, and in fact I am aware of no authority that stands for the proposition that an official court filing may constitute an “advertisement for legal services” merely because it lists the attorney’s office address.

UPDATE 9/24 10:45 PM: Suggesting the same conclusion as my analysis here, please see this article from Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, which includes a quote from the General Counsel for the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers that also suggests there is no UPL issue here, albeit for reasons that do not even require going as far in the analysis as I have.

Jacobson seems to become both a semi-stalker of Warren and attack dog for the poor defenseless Scott Brown. In doing  so with such zeal that he has maliciously disregarded the truth, he may be guilty of libel - knowingly making false statements that smear someone character in a way that damages their reputation. Since Jacobson is in New York it might be incumbent on the New York Bar Association to open an inquiry into Jacobson's sleazy and unethical behavior. Cornell University should also consider taking appropriate action against Jacobson for scurrilous behavior that also reflects on the university.

Conservative Group Claims Obama Has ‘Communist Beliefs,’ Compares His Policies To Hitler’s
This  conveniently ignores the fact that real life Nazis are part of the Republican Party

Fox Wins Straw-Man Argument Against Taxing Millionaires At 100 Percent. Who does a wuss pick a fight with, a straw-man. That is why Republicans set up arguments that were never made and show everyone how right they were. Its the only way they can win. If they had to be truthful, ethical and argue with facts, they would lose. Very sad commentary on the integrity of the right-wing conservative movement.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In The Elizabeth Warren Debate With Scott Brown, Brown Made It Clear He Would Rather America have a Second Class Education System and Shoddy Bridges Then Raise Taxes on His Billionaire Buddies

In The Elizabeth Warren Debate With Scott Brown, Brown Made It Clear He Would Rather America have a Second Class Education System and Shoddy Bridges Then Raise Taxes on His Billionaire Buddies

Brown literally attacked Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic challenger, from start to finish.

Warren, unruffled and showing the confidence of a woman who has moved ahead of Brown in most recent polls, sometimes rolled her eyes or shook her head in disappointment. She made her points about economic injustice and Wall Street wrongdoing, about holding corporations to account and establishing far tax policies, about relieving the crushing burden of student-loan debt and about making sure that Mitt Romney and a Republican Senate do not fill the next vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. Brown could attack all he wanted, but the senator who joined fellow Republicans in trying to block President Obama's nomination of Elena Kagen to the high court could not change the reality that Warren was right when she said: “This really may be the race for the control of the Senate and the Supreme Court may hang in the balance."

Warren was smooth and effective, "explaining things" with the same confidence that Bill Clinton displayed in Charlotte. It wasn't always easy; as Brown interrupted at every opportunity -- to accrue Warren of lying about her heritage, of attacking asbestos victims, of starting Occupy Wall Street.

But Warren never sweated it. She knew she had the winning hand.

And she played it. Again and again.

In a very Democratic state that very much does not want Republicans to take control of the U.S. Senate, Warren kept emphasizing that -- for all Brown's talk of bipartisanship and moderation on abortion rights -- "It's not about Senator Brown's vote. It's about the votes of all the Republican senators."

Noting again and again that Brown had told Republican donors across the country that then needed to help him win so that Republicans would take charge of the chamber, Warren kept returning to a basic theme: "This is about control of a Senate."

That was a powerful message, and a correct one.

But the even more powerful message came when Warren declared mid-way through the debate: "This really is about who you want as commander in chief."

In a state that once elected Mitt Romney governor but that will never vote for him again, Warren drew the line of distinction that her opponent feared most -- and that Republican candidates in other states are coming to fear as the Romney campaign stumbles from candidate-created crisis to candidate-created "crisis."

"I support President Obama," she said.

Brown just gulped.

He knows he's got a problem. And that problem is named Mitt Romney.

On the eve of first debate by 2012 election season's most intense contest, a Massachusetts group made a simple request of Scott Brown.

Progress Massachusetts asked the senator to level with the voters about where exactly he stands with regard to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Does supposedly-moderate Brown think the country would be better served with the most extreme Republican ticket in the party's history assuming executive authority over the United States? And, if that is the case, how exactly will he help them to exercise that authority?

Basic questions. Easily answered.

Except by Scott Brown, whose debate performance Thursday night offered a striking example of how a career politician can talk out of both sides of his mouth without saying anything of consequence.

Brown kept trying to suggest that a handful of reasonably moderate votes made him a paragon of bipartisan virtue who should not be seen as a Republican.

In contrast, Warren, the Wall Street reformer and consumer champion who entered the Senate race with a real determination to change Washington -- even if it means standing up to her own party -- was clear and unequivocal.

"I want (President Obama) to stay on as commander in chief," she declared.

The contrast between Brown and Warren could not have been more stark.

But the real debate was and is between Brown and Brown.

The senator has objected to the Republican platform of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, decrying the document's extreme and inflexible language on social issues "a mistake." The senator has distanced himself from his party's vice presidential nominee, noting that he voted twice to block Senate consideration of Ryan's signature proposal, the "Roadmap for America's Future." And the senator has noisily rejected Romney's dismissal of 47 percent of Americans as a "dependent" class that Republicans should not bother with, saying "That's not the way I view the world."

Yet, Brown still wants to have it both ways. He wants conservative backers of the Romney-Ryan ticket to think he's with them. He wants moderate and liberal independents, and even some Democrats, to see him as a renegade Republican who has not taste for the ticker.

That's political gimmickry, and Progress Massachusetts executive director Michael Fogelberg -- a veteran Massachusetts activist with decades of experience as a tenant organizer and consumer and environmental campaigner -- called him on it.

In a letter delivered to Brown, Fogelberg wrote: "The Republican nominee for President - your endorsed candidate - has said in no uncertain terms that he believes that nearly half of America believes that they are "victims" who do not "care for their lives."  Mr. Romney cannot credibly serve as the Commander in Chief of our nation when he so clearly has such contempt for half of our nation's population."

"As such," Fogelberg continued, "Senator Brown, I urge you to immediately, and in no uncertain terms, rescind your endorsement of Mitt Romney for President.  Failure to do so is tantamount to an endorsement of Mr. Romney's reprehensible and divisive remarks.  Any half-measure, such as a mere Tweet criticizing the comments, would be seen as a cynical political ploy."

But Brown's entire career has been a cynical political ploy. He's got to keep the conservative money flowing. So it is hard to imagine that he will renounce Romney, and he certainly is not going to oppose his Republican caucus when it comes to organizing the Senate

Elizabeth Warren would have won the debate on points.

Scott Brown as just an average guy? Scott Brown as an independent? Scott is hoping what conservative radicals always hope, that no one pays attention to what they actually do. When Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says jump, Brown asks how high. If he doesn't brown doesn't get access to right-wing money from the Koch brothers and Karl Roves club of billionaires. Elizabeth Warren scares the heck out of conservatives who are used to bought and paid for special interests. Warren will look out for average Americans, and that is something Republicans like Brown and his clone Mitt Romney just cannot stand.

How Romney Packed The Univision Forum

Romney's "Charity" to the Church is Just More Corporate Greed and Tax Evasion

Understanding the Federal Tax Debate

You know Mitt Romney is out of touch when he criticizes President Obama's call to let the Bush tax cuts expire for only the top two percent of earners as a "massive tax increase" for "on families, job creators, and small businesses," while proposing an average $264,000 annual windfall for the top 0.1%.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Is John Hinderaker America's Sleaziest and Most Dishonest Republican Blogger

Is John Hinderaker America's Sleaziest and Most Dishonest Republican Blogger. JH churns out a litany of disinformation for the cause of social-Darwinism, turning back the clock of social and economic progress, bizarre takes on reality that are along the lines of an acid tripping paranoid on former Time Magazine blog of the year. He writes in a post fancifully called Is Barack Obama America’s Most Dishonest Politician?
A lot of politicians are dishonest, but Barack Obama may be in a league by himself. He appeared on the David Letterman show last night, and Letterman asked him about the national debt (somewhat surprisingly). Obama’s answer was a masterpiece of prevarication. He described how the debt originated, and claimed, falsely, that he inherited a $1 trillion deficit. In fact, this country had never run a deficit anywhere near $1 trillion until FY 2009, the first year of the Obama administration.

Call me a dreamer, but I tend to think when a blogger regulatory dispenses political analysis they would have a grasp of basic facts. Fiscal year 2009 was the Bush budget and the deficit that year - a legacy of the Bush years was $1.2 trillion according to the Congressional Budget Office. One realizes that John's audience is composed of zombies who eat whatever putrid lies Johnny boy feds them, but what if, you know, someone who is not brain dead or high on the konservative kool-aid checks his facts and his childish exaggerations. One assumes he has no concept of leaving a legacy of honor and integrity. These virtues mere excess baggage in the anti-American cause of radical conservatism.(insert name of almost any Republican pundit here)...Falsely Claims Obama "Created A Gigantic Deficit"

In Fact, Experts Attribute Deficit To Bush-Era Tax Cuts, Wars, Economic Downturn

CBO Projected $1.2T Deficit In January 2009 Based On Spending Bush Authorized; Actual Deficit Was $1.4T. In a January 7, 2009, report, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected, based on spending authorized under the Bush administration, that the federal deficit in FY2009 would total $1.2 trillion. According to the CBO, the actual federal deficit for FY2009, which began during the Bush's last year in office, was $1.4 trillion. [CBO, January 2009 and January 2010]

CAP: "Single Most Important [Cause Of The Deficit] Is The Legacy Of President George W. Bush's Legislative Agenda." In an August 2009 analysis, the Center for American Progress (CAP) concluded that about two-thirds of the then-projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 could be attributed to either Bush's policies or the economic downturn:

Deficit Chart - at top.

The report explained:

    As for the deficit's cause, the single most important factor is the legacy of President George W. Bush's legislative agenda. Overall, changes in federal law during the Bush administration are responsible for 40 percent of the short-term fiscal problem. For example, we estimate that the tax cuts passed during the Bush presidency are reducing government revenue collections by $231 billion in 2009. Also, because of the additions to the federal debt due to Bush administration policies, the government will be paying $218 billion more in interest payments in 2009.

    Had President Bush not cut taxes while simultaneously prosecuting two foreign wars and adopting other programs without paying for them, the current deficit would be only 4.7 percent of gross domestic product this year, instead of the eye-catching 11.2 percent--despite the weak economy and the costly efforts taken to restore it. In 2010, the deficit would be 3.2 percent instead of 9.6 percent.

    The weak economy also plays a major role in the deficit picture. The failure of Bush economic policies--fiscal irresponsibility, regulatory indifference, fueling of an asset and credit bubble, a failure to focus on jobs and incomes, and inaction as the economy started slipping--contributed mightily to the nation's current economic situation. When the economy contracts, tax revenues decline and outlays increase for programs designed to keep people from falling deep into poverty (with the tax impact much larger than the spending impact). All told, the weak economy is responsible for 20 percent of the fiscal problems we face in 2009 and 2010.

    President Obama's policies have also contributed to the federal deficit--but only 16 percent of the projected budget deterioration for 2009 and 2010 are attributable to those policies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designed to help bring the economy out of the recession is, by far, the largest single additional public spending under this administration. [CAP, 8/25/09]

CBPP: "[V]irtually The Entire Deficit Over The Next Ten Years" Due To Bush Policies, Economic Downturn." The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) published an analysis of federal deficits in December 2009, which was most recently updated on June 28, 2010, titled, "Critics Still Wrong on What's Driving Deficits in Coming Years: Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers." The report noted:

    Some critics continue to assert that President George W. Bush's policies bear little responsibility for the deficits the nation faces over the coming decade -- that, instead, the new policies of President Barack Obama and the 111th Congress are to blame. Most recently, a Heritage Foundation paper downplayed the role of Bush-era policies (for more on that paper, see p. 4). Nevertheless, the fact remains: Together with the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

The report also graphed the effects of Bush's policies and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the deficit. From the report:

[CBPP, updated 6/28/10, emphasis in original]

Harvard Business Review Group Director: "[T]he Giant Deficit Is Mainly The Result Of The Collapse In Tax Receipts Brought On By The Recession." In an October 2010 post on his Reuters blog, Justin Fox, editorial director of the Harvard Business Review Group, analyzed the deficit and concluded that it was "mainly the result of the collapse in tax receipts brought on by the recession":

    The Treasury Department reported on Oct. 15 that the deficit in fiscal 2010, which ended Sept. 30, was $1.294 trillion. That's less than FY 2009's $1.416 trillion, but it's still really really big. Why is it so big, though? Is it because of all that stimulus and bailout spending? Or is something else going on?

    To find out, I created a fantasy world. I figured out how fast federal spending and revenue grew over the last business cycle, from 2000 through 2007, and calculated where we'd be today if those growth rates had continued through 2010. I was originally motivated to do this for a commentary that's supposed to air tomorrow night on Nightly Business Report. But I'm thinking there's not a huge overlap between Felix Salmon readers and Nightly Business Report viewers, so I'll go ahead and share what I learned.

    In my no-financial-crisis, no-bailout, no-recession, no-stimulus scenario, spending kept growing at 6.22% a year, and revenue kept growing at 3.45%. You can see from the difference between the two numbers that this was an unsustainable path. But it clearly could have been sustained for a few more years.

    Where would it have left us in fiscal 2010? With $2.843 trillion in federal revenue and $3.270 trillion in spending, leaving a deficit of $427 billion. The actual revenue and spending totals for 2010 were $2.162 trillion and $3.456 trillion. So spending was $186 billion higher than if we'd stuck to the trend, and revenue was $681 billion lower. In other words, the giant deficit is mainly the result of the collapse in tax receipts brought on by the recession, not the increase in spending. Nice to know, huh? [Justin Fox,, 10/25/10, emphasis added]

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mitt Romney's 47% World View is Dangerous and Hypocritical

Mitt Romney's 47% World View is Dangerous and Hypocritical

Will Moocherpalooza have an impact on the presidential campaign? It might. Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their allies have been decrying the “entitlement society” and supposedly low number of Americans paying federal taxes for some time now. But the specific language and circumstances of Romney’s comments at a May fundraiser, first reported in Mother Jones on Monday, may capture the attention of average Americans in a way those previous speeches and writings did not.

The episode may also undermine Romney’s support among members of a Republican elite that was already wary of him. Politically speaking, the most significant op-ed on Tuesday wasn’t the even-keeled critique of Romney by David Brooks, a conservative who cares about ideas. It was the more caustic and, apparently, more exasperated blast from Bill Kristol, a conservative who cares about winning elections. That’s going to resonate with the surrogates, strategists, and financiers whose support Romney desperately needs to remain competitive.

But, in the long run, whether this episode affects perceptions of Romney may matter less than whether it affects perceptions of government.

Romney’s argument is actually an amalgam of two separate, although related, claims that you hear all the time in conservative circles. The first is about who pays taxes and, more important, who does not. Romney pointed out that, today, 47 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income taxes. But Romney neglected to point out that most people still pay federal payroll taxes and state taxes, both of which are regressive. And most of the people who don’t pay income taxes now either paid them in the past or will pay them in the future. Romney really has no excuse for making this argument; critics, among them my valiant and persistent colleague Timothy Noah, have been pointing out these omissions for months. (And that's not to mention the fact that Romney himself pays relatively little in taxes, since he relies heavily on investment income that is subject to lower rates and can be easily sheltered.)

The other claim might seem the more defensible of the two: It’s the argument that many more people have become dependent on government programs, placing unsustainable claims on the federal treasury and reducing incentives to work. A seminal text for this argument is “A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic,” an essay by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute. Its key piece of evidence is the observation that, since 1960, “government transfers to individuals” have risen sharply. According to Eberstadt,

    What is monumentally new about the American state today is the vast and colossal empire of entitlement payments that it protects, manages, and finances. Within living memory, the government of the United States has become an entitlements machine. As a day-to-day operation, the U.S. government devotes more attention and resources to the public transfers of money, goods, and services to individual citizens than to any other objective: and for the federal government, these amounts outpace those spent for all other ends combined.

Mark Schmitt, a regular contributor to TNR and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, wrote an elegant critique of Eberstadt’s argument. So did Lane Kenworthy, a sociologist at the University of Arizona. As they note, Eberstadt is correct when he says that the entitlement state has expanded significantly in the last 50 years. But that increase reflects two factors more than anything else: Health care and old people. (Relatively speaking, the cost of low income programs outside of health care is actually declining.) In 1965, with the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid, the federal government assumed responsibility for financing medical care for the elderly, as well as the poor and disabled. It also boosted Social Security payments to provide more of the elderly with adequate incomes. The aging of the population and rising cost of medical care have made these propositions significantly more expensive over time. 

Are the people who benefit from these programs today takers rather than makers? Hardly. Most of these people contributed what they could towards he cost of these programs, via payroll taxes, during their working years. If they don’t contribute now—and, remember, the majority of them still contribute something, since Medicare has both cost-sharing and premiums—it’s because they are no longer capable of doing so. They’re too old or disabled to work, and their fixed incomes leave them relatively poor. As Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reminded me recently, median income for Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries is about $25,000.

The growth of these programs has placed significant new demands on the federal budget. That’s why there should be, and has been, a vibrant debate about how to make the programs sustainable, whether by reducing the money they send out or increasing the money they take in. The growth of other, more narrowly tailored programs (like welfare) has also contributed to the fiscal strain, although far less significantly. That’s why there should be, and has been, an equally vibrant debate about who is eligible for these particular programs and under what conditions they should get them. More nuanced conservatives, among them Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Ramesh Ponnuru, have been part of these discussions for some time.

But the fact that the entitlement state has grown shouldn’t, by itself, alarm us. It’s actually a sign of progress, because it’s a reminder that the government has stepped in to do what the market would not. We saw, in the years before Social Security, what the world looks like when seniors don’t have adequate pensions. And we saw, in the years before Medicare and Medicaid and (now) the Affordable Care Act, what the world looks like when people can’t afford to pay their medical bills. It was not pretty. But the price for addressing those failures was the creation of some massive government programs. They cost a lot of money, yes, but we all benefit from them at some point, as Schmitt noted in his essay: “Most of us, other than the permanently disabled, are givers and takers to government, because that's what it is to be part of a community or a nation.”

It also happens that in what has been called the "The Submerged State" - the part of government subsidies done largely through the tax code and other programs, Romney is one of the 47% who apparently, according to his words, needs to learn how to be independent. Two examples: Mitt Romney Benefited From Government Bailout: Report and Romney’s 'Crony Capitalism': Bain's Big Government Subsidies. In other words Romney and Bain are massive corporate welfare queens. So is every millionaire that buys a mansion whose mortgage is subsidized by tax incentives that we all pay for. Romney and his mindless followers have surely drunk the kool-aid. They live in a world totally detached from reality and guess what, they refuse to take responsibility for their lives and the damage their sick world view is having on the USA.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Myth Busters: President Obama and Appeasement

Myth Busters: President Obama and Appeasement

The Bizarre Meme That 'Appeasement' Caused the Libya Attack

There is no better example of the obliviousness to reality that characterizes current conservative attacks on Obama's foreign policy.

Professor Paul Rahe is a nice man who teaches history at Hillsdale College. Here's what he wrote about the attack on our embassy in Libya and the murder of four people, including the American ambassador:

    The American people cannot be allowed to discover that Barack Obama's policy of appeasement has persuaded our enemies that we are weak and feckless and has elicited aggression on their part. Nor can they be allowed to learn that Hillary Clinton and our minions have been grossly negligent with regard to the security of our embassies, consulates, and other installations in the larger Muslim world. Instead, we must ignore the spirit of the First Amendment and vent our wrath on an inept Coptic Christian immigrant from Egypt.

So let me get this straight. President Bush cuts a deal with Moammar Gadhafi, in which the dictator forswears weapons of mass destruction, and is thereafter treated as a friend of the United States. President Obama takes office. The Libyan dictator threatens to massacre his own people. In response, Obama orders the U.S. military to play the lead roll in bombing Libya, helping rebel forces to oust and kill Gadhafi. Every last person in Libya knows that this happened.

And you assert, as if it's self-evident, that the Libyans attacked our embassy because of Obama's "policy of appeasement." What possible sense does that make? In Libya, none, and it doesn't make sense elsewhere either. Obama surged troops into Afghanistan before beginning the present withdrawal with bipartisan support in Congress and from American voters.

Obama escalated a drone campaign that has spread to half a dozen countries, ordered a raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, and helped to engage in a cyber-attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. He ordered a special forces raid on pirates that rescued hostages. All told, the various drone strikes that Obama has ordered have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.

Perhaps you have critiques of this record.

I certainly do!

To call it appeasement is to traffic in fantasies. But Rahe is hardly alone in doing it. It's a widespread meme on the right. And for a slightly different species of unreality, here's Victor Davis Hanson:

    At the very least, the Obama administration needs to drop the politically-correct euphemisms, stop the Cairo-speech banalities, and remind its diplomatic team that radical Islam's hatred of the West is not placated by loud American outreach, soaring mytho-history about Islam, or the particular politics, race, pedigree, or charisma of the occupant of the White House, but that Islamic expressions of that hatred most surely are predicated on the degree to which America appears diffident, apologetic, and unsure--or confident, occasionally dangerous, and unpredictable.

I don't know how the people of Libya judge America's confidence. But again, given our recent intervention in their civil war, after previously cutting a deal with their dictator, it's a fair bet that Libyans of all people regard as as "occasionally dangerous" and "unpredictable." When it comes to foreign policy, the conservative movement is running against a president of their own creation.
Victor Davis Hanson a hack on the payroll of wing-nut welfare at several "think tanks" has a record of supporting every failed policy of the neocons. Having no humility, lacking the intellect and maturity required for insight, Hanson keeps rolling the same stinking boulder up the same stinking hill no matter how many times it crushed him on the roll back down. As an historian ( that is a kind of joke, no one thinks Hanson is a real historian excpet some brain damaged conservative geeks) Hanson shows a remarkable ability to learn abosutely nothing from history. There are certainly hate filled radical Muslims. Out of the world's 1.1 billion those radicals represent perhaps 1%. Since most serial killers are white males by Hanson's logic we should declare war on white males as well as all Muslims.

Romney And Bain Boosted Agriculture Giant Monsanto In Spite Of Toxic Past

K.T. McFarland, Fox News Security Analyst, Repeats Myth That Obama Went On "An Apology Tour". This meme has been around since the first month Obama was in office. You'll note that at no time has any of these conservative Republican freaks ever produced a transcript - a full one - not an edited one - in which Obama apologizes for America. It never happened. If Republicans have values how come they never show them. Do they keep their values in a secret place, maybe the safe where Rush Limbaugh keeps his drugs and divorce papers.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Why Do Republicans Hate American Farmers and Love High Food Prices

Conservative wackos like to portray Obama as a Muslim, but some Muslim protesters see him as a tool for Israel

Why Do Republicans Hate American Farmers and Love High Food Prices

The 2012 Farm Bill is still languishing in the House, with GOP leadership in the chamber intentionally preventing action on the legislation for political reasons. According to the New York Times, “House leaders declined to take up either [the Senate or the House] version of the legislation. They are not eager to force their members to take a vote that would be difficult for some of them, nor would they wish to pass a measure largely with Democrats’ votes right before an election.”

But without a new five-year Farm Bill or at least a temporary extension of current legislation, the Department of Agriculture may be forced to shutter almost all of its operations.

The Farm Bill serves as a mass funding mechanism for the USDA — it provides funding for roughly 90 percent of the Department’s operations, meaning those operations may have to shut down if the Farm Bill isn’t renewed. According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Commission, the effect of even a temporary shutdown could be long-lasting:

    USDA would be forced to occupy a multiple-month holding pattern, temporarily stopping many services and programs. Program administration involves a certain amount of planning and preparation, stakeholder input, rulemaking, and outreach. Even if program opportunities aren’t announced until later in the year, the preparation work that leads up to announcements takes time and certainty. Programs can’t simply be “turned off” and then “turned on” again with the expectation that program delivery and administration will not suffer.

The programs that the NSAC believe would be affected include “all the major programs for beginning and minority farmers, farmers markets, organic agriculture, renewable energy, and rural economic development” and new enrollment in the “the Wetland Reserve, Grassland Reserve, and Conservation Reserve Programs.” USDA programs funded by the Farm Bill are critical to addressing the crippling drought that has spread over four-fifths of the United States. The USDA also takes a lead role in shutting down brutal factory farms and administers the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), a cost-effective food assistance program for needy families.

This isn’t to say that the House bill is necessarily worth passing in its current form — the House version contains, among other things, deep cuts to critical food stamp programs. But failure to pass at least a stopgap necessary to keep USDA could have dangerous consequences.
Conservatives either live in gated communities of McMansions are have a gated community mentality. They just cannot connect to the basic needs of working class Americans like farmers. They haven't been able to relate to regular folks since at least before Herbert Hoover.

Anti-American Republican Media Dubiously Accuse Hillary Clinton Of Ignoring Warnings Of Embassy Violence 

Romney’s Jaw-Dropping Incoherence On The Safety of American Embassies

Now, Romney has pounced on a well-meaning – though ultimately unsuccessful – effort by the U.S. embassy staff in Cairo to tamp down anger caused by an incendiary anti-Muslim video that appeared designed to elicit the kind of violent rage that is now sweeping the Middle East.

Seemingly without regard for the delicate circumstances, Romney issued a statement that transformed the embassy’s criticism of the video into an expression of sympathy by the Obama administration for the protesters who attacked U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and, fatally, in Libya. However, to make his point stick, Romney had to reverse the actual chronology of events.

Like his multiple statements about what he would do with health care, Romney later reversed himself and agreed with everything Pres. Obama said. Mitt has always been a flake, and now it seems the pressure of running for office on a platform that is a rehash of the Bush years is getting to him.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

As Mitt Romney Throws Himself Under The Bus On Libya, Republican Pundits Rush to Blame The Media

As Mitt Romney Throws Himself Under The Bus On Libya, Republican Pundits Rush to Blame The Media

Right-wing pundits jumped to blame "the media" after Mitt Romney was criticized for his statement and remarks following the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Yet foreign policy experts and even conservative officials and media figures have been critical of Romney's statement and subsequent remarks.
Following Embassy Violence, Romney Issued Statement Accusing Obama Of "Disgraceful" Response To Attacks

NY Times: U.S. Ambassador And Three Staff Killed In Attack On U.S. Consulate In Benghazi; U.S. Embassy In Cairo Also Attacked. From The New York Times:

    Islamist militants armed with antiaircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a lightly defended United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, late Tuesday, killing the American ambassador and three members of his staff and raising fresh questions about the radicalization of countries swept up in the Arab Spring.


    Fighters involved in the assault, which was spearheaded by a Islamist brigade formed during last year's uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, said in interviews during the battle that they were moved to attack the mission by anger over a 14-minute, American-made video that depicted the Prophet Muhammad, Islam's founder, as a villainous, homosexual and child-molesting buffoon. Their attack followed by just a few hours the storming of the compound surrounding the United States Embassy in Cairo by an unarmed mob protesting the same video. On Wednesday, new crowds of protesters gathered outside the United States Embassies in Tunis and in Cairo. [The New York Times, 9/12/12]

Romney Statement: "It's Disgraceful" That The Obama Administration "Sympathize[d] With Those Who Waged The Attacks." Romney issued a statement on the evening of September 11 that read, in part: "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." [, 9/12/12]

Romney: Obama Administration "Clearly Sent Mixed Messages To The World" With Embassy Statement That Was "Akin To Apology." Referring to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo before the attacks took place, Romney said, during a September 12 press conference, in response to a reporter's question:

    ROMNEY: It's their administration. Their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth, but also from the words that come from his ambassadors from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department.

    They clearly - they clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was - was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a - a severe miscalculation. [, 9/12/12]

For more on both the U.S. embassy's statement and Romney's remarks, see here.
Right-Wing Media Claim "The Media Went After Romney" ...

Fox's Bolling: "The Media Went After Romney."  During the September 12 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling suggested that "the media went after Romney":

    BOLLING: [T]he media went after Romney for saying it too early, going after Obama too early -- should he not be going after Obama. Then President Obama, after Romney made the statement, then President Obama condemned the killing. So Mitt Romney didn't have President Obama condemning the killing prior to making the statement, so of course he has all the right in the world to say really, we're going to apologize -- when you read it yesterday, I thought we're apologizing to Muslims, and they're killing our people.

    GREG GUTFELD (co-host): It's insidious. [Fox News, The Five, 9/12/12]

Ann Coulter: "The Media Is Screaming Bloody Murder" Over Romney's Statement. During the September 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity, conservative author Ann Coulter said, "You know that Romney's statement was devastating to President Obama because the media is screaming bloody murder. If he hadn't struck gold with that, they wouldn't all be doing this. But that's their response to everything Romney says." [Fox News, Hannity, 9/12/12]

Michelle Malkin: "We Have The Feckless, Lap-Dog Media Who Is Conspiring To Make This About Romney Instead Of About Obama." Later during the Hannity broadcast, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin said of Romney's statement: "[W]e have this feckless, lap-dog media who is conspiring to make this about Romney instead of about Obama." [Fox News, Hannity, 9/12/12]

Rush Limbaugh: "The Media" Are "Trying To Make All Of This About Romney."  During the September 12 edition of Rush Limbaugh's program, Limbaugh claimed that what "the media" are "trying to do is make all of this about Romney." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 9/12/12]
... But Fail To Note Romney's Response Was Criticized By Foreign Policy Experts ...

VOA: Former Defense Department Official Korb Said He Is "Appalled" By Romney's Comments. From a September 12 Voice of America article about Romney's criticism of Obama following the embassy attacks:

    The Romney comments also provoked a strong reaction from some foreign policy experts.

    Lawrence Korb is a former Defense Department official who is now with the Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning policy research group in Washington.

    "Well, I should say that I'm appalled, but not surprised because I think the Romney campaign is desperate to try and close the gap on foreign policy, which had been a traditional Republican strength in the elections but it is not this time," Korb said. [Voice of America, 9/12/12]

Former Ambassador And NATO Representative Burns: "I Was Frankly Very Disappointed And Dismayed To See Gov. Romney Inject Politics Into This Very Difficult Situation." During an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Nicholas Burns, who served in State Departments under President George W. Bush and President Clinton, said:

    BURNS: This is a tragic day for our country and our foreign service. Four outstanding Americans have been killed. And I was frankly very disappointed and dismayed to see Governor Romney inject politics into this very difficult situation, where our embassies are under attack, where there's been a big misunderstanding in the Middle East, apparently, about an American film, where we're trying to preserve the lives of our diplomats -- this is no time for politics.

    I watched Secretary Clinton's statement this morning, and I read President Obama's statement, and I've looked at the statement that you've just referred to issued 24 hours ago by our embassy in Cairo. In no way, shape, or form is the U.S. government or the Obama administration apologizing for terrorists or sympathizing with them. What I heard from the president and Secretary Clinton was a very definite rejection of terrorism and, of course, our government's going to call on the Egyptian and Libyan governments to apprehend these people and to put them on trial. So I just think that Governor Romney has, in a very unwise way, injected himself into a situation where he clearly doesn't have all the facts. [MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell Reports, 9/12/12]

... And Was Challenged By Conservative Political And Media Figures -- Including Fox's Bill O'Reilly

Bill O'Reilly: "I'm Not Sure [Romney] Is Correct On That. The Embassy Was Trying To Head Off The Violence" With Statement. During the September 12 edition of Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly played video of Romney's remarks from his September 12 press conference and said, "I'm not sure the governor is correct on that. The embassy was trying to head off the violence" with their statement. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 9/12/12]

Former McCain Adviser: Pointing Out "That We Reject Vile Attacks On Muslims...Does Not Constitute Sympathy For The People Besieging Our Embassy As Gov. Romney Alleged." Longtime John McCain adviser Mark Salter responded to Romney's remarks on the embassy's statement on the website RealClearPolitics:

    [T]here is nothing wrong in principle with making clear to people, who have yet to embrace the categorical right to free speech, that Americans and their government deplore the deplorable, that we reject vile attacks on Muslims as vigorously as we reject vile anti-Semitic attacks.

    To do so does not constitute sympathy for the people besieging our embassy, as Gov. Romney alleged. Nor is at an apology for America, as some Obama critics have claimed. It's an expression of our decency. [RealClearPolitics, 9/12/12]

Noonan: Romney Isn't "Doing Himself Any Favors," "When Hot Things Happen, Cool Words -- Or No Words -- Is The Way To Go." Former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan commented on Romney's remarks on Fox News, a Wall Street Journal blog reported:

    Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan who writes a column for The Wall Street Journal's opinion pages, said on Fox News that he had opened himself up to accusations that he was "trying to exploit things politically."

    "I belong to the old school of thinking in times of great drama and heightened crisis, and at times when something violent is happening to your people, I always think discretion is the better way to go," she said. "I don't feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors.... When hot things happen, cool words- or no words- is the way to go." [Washington Wire, The Wall Street Journal, 9/12/12]

Frum: "The Romney Campaign's Attempt To Score Political Points On The Killing Of American Diplomats Was A Dismal Business In Every Respect." The Journal blog also reported that David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, was also critical of Romney's comments:

    Conservative writer David Frum wrote on Wednesday, "Politicians must pander, it goes with the job. But they mustn't leave their fingerprints all over their pandering. The Romney campaign's attempt to score political points on the killing of American diplomats was a dismal business in every respect." [Washington Wire, The Wall Street Journal, 9/12/12]

President Obama summed up Romney's problem well when he said that Romney seems to shoot first and take aim later. There does not seem to be a limit to the exploitation of tragedy, of death to most of the conservative movement. never make the mistake that someday Republicans will act like real Americans and stop acting like pond scum, because the vast majority of them never will.

Behind Romney’s Decision to Attack Obama on Libya

"While American diplomats were dying in the field, Romney pops up with an egregious attempt to politicize the deaths with a flat out lie."

FACT CHECK: Romney Misstates Facts On Attacks

Why Mitt Romney's Vileness Matters

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why Does millionaire hedge-fund manager, the Anti-American Robert Mercer and his pal Republican House candidate radical Randy Altschuler Hate America

Why Does millionaire hedge-fund manager, the Anti-American Robert Mercer and his pal Republican House candidate radical Randy Altschuler Hate America

Robert Mercer, the millionaire hedge-fund manager has been a consistent funder of right wing causes. In recent years, the co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies has bankrolled an Islamaphobic effort to stop a Muslim Community Center in New York City, given $1 million each to the pro-Mitt Romney Restore Our Future super PAC and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, and spent $200,000 on ads against Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), an advocate for more regulation of hedge funds. Now, public disclosure forms reveal he is the main benefactor for a new super PAC helping to elect New York Republican House candidate Randy Altschuler.

Prosperity First Inc. registered in April as a super PAC and reported on its July quarterly report that it had raised $635,500 in its first three months in operation. Of that, a whopping $500,000 came from Mercer. Until this weekend, it was unclear what Prosperity First would do with the money. Friday, the group reported its first $273,472 independent expenditure — an ad supporting Altschuler. This expenditure — the vast majority of which was funded by Mercer — is in addition to a pair of $2,500 contributions directly from the hedge-fund millionaire to Altschuler’s official campaign. In the post-Citizens United world, wealthy donors like Mercer can legally circumvent the legal limits and attempt to buy elections for their favorite candidates.

Why would Mercer spend so much to elect this candidate? After narrowly losing in 2010, Altschuler is again challenging Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY). One key difference between the two candidates is their view on Wall Street regulation: Bishop voted for the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009 (commonly known as Dodd-Frank), while Altschuler blasted the law as a “flawed piece of legislation” that would “kill jobs and shrink tax revenues for New York State.” Renaissance Technologies did not much like the bill’s regulations for hedge funds — the company has spent over $1 million since the start of 2010 on federal lobbying including a significant focus on Dodd-Frank’s hedge-fund provisions.

Altschuler promises that if elected, he would “roll out the red carpet” for businesses like Renaissance Technologies, instead of “red tape.” He says he will make the elimination of what he calls “job-killing government regulations” a priority. Altschuler’s let-business-do-whatever-it-wants approach would probably be good for the bottom line for hedge-fund millionaires like Mercer — though they would likely not be so good for consumers anxious to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial sector meltdown. For a person who earns $125 million in one year, the Supreme Court’s effective elimination of campaign finance limits may have made buying a House seat — or several — a legal and doable proposition.

The USA lost about $17 trillion dollars in wealth from 2007 to 2008 thanks to anti-American sleazebags like Mercer and Altschuler. If they hate America so much, if things are so terrible here for millionaires, they can afford to move to anywhere they like.

What Liberal Media? The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin Helps Spread Romney's Sleazy Lies

What Liberal Media? The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin Helps Spread Romney's Sleazy Lies

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is facing a torrent of criticism from Democrats, tax analysts, and even a stray conservative or two over the lack of specifics in his tax proposals. But as per usual, there is one person who's standing by Romney, ready to fabricate any excuse she can in defense of the GOP candidate: Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, who is defending Romney's lack of detail by arguing (falsely) that President Obama doesn't have a tax plan.

Romney finds himself in this situation after both he and running mate Paul Ryan appeared on Sunday morning news shows and repeatedly declined to identify the tax loopholes they'd close to pay for the steep tax cuts their plan would put in place.

Rubin, who recalibrates her opinion on the specificity of Romney's tax plan depending on how it better serves Romney's interest, argues today that Romney's level of detail is less important than Obama's alleged failure to release a tax plan:

    The media have accused Romney of being nonspecific about his tax plan. (At least he has both an individual and corporate one; the president does not.) He explained: "I can tell you that people at the high end, high-income taxpayers, are going to have fewer deductions and exemptions. Those -- those numbers are going to come down. Otherwise, they'd get a tax break. And I want to make sure people understand, despite what the Democrats said at their convention. I am not reducing taxes on high-income taxpayers. I'm bringing down the rate of taxation, but also bringing down deductions and exemptions at the high end so the revenues stay the same, the taxes people pay stay the same. Middle-income people are going to get a break."

    This won't fly with the media (the same people who never ask Obama where his tax plan is or where his entitlement reform plans are), which will continue to press him for details.

For the moment, let's set aside the spectacle of someone with a Washington Post byline criticizing the media for wanting too much detail. The assertion that President Obama has not released a tax plan is flatly untrue.

It's right here, as part of the president's FY 2013 budget proposal. The Tax Policy Center has a whole section of its website devoted to the tax provisions contained therein. You can critique Obama's plan, disagree with it, argue that it has insufficient detail, but you can't say it doesn't exist.

With regard to corporate taxes specifically, the president released a plan in February for overhauling the corporate tax code, which one can read here. It calls for cutting the corporate tax rate and closing specific loopholes and tax expenditures (for instance, taxing carried interest as income and ending "last in, first out" accounting).

This is after all the election cycle where the masks have come off the radical conservative movement - they hate facts, they hate fact checkers - they're running on winks and secret handshakes. Its like a club that speaks in a secret language only they know and understand. "Just trust" them, they'll get around to some details about how they're going to increase spending yet cut tax revenue to pay for it when they are elected. We had that before, it was called the Bush presidency. The one that took a budget surplus, ran up the biggest debt in history, cut taxes for millionaires and crashed the economy. M's Rubin is not just a boot licking liar, she is a dangerous ideologue for the cult of conservatism.

Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a serious wonk who knows his stuff as long as you do not start to use any analytical tools, like arithmetic.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The US Chamber of Commerce's Multimillion-Dollar Attack Plan To Get Plutocrat Mitt Romney and Other Anti-American Radicals Elected

The US Chamber of Commerce's Multimillion-Dollar Attack Plan To Get Plutocrat Mitt Romney and Other Anti-American Radicals Elected

“Obamacare will be a nightmare for Florida seniors,” a grim voiceover announces. “Did Bill Nelson consider the consequences when he cast a deciding vote for Obamacare?”President of the US Chamber of Commerce Tom Donohue.

“Tell Jon Tester: the Washington way isn’t the solution,” another intones. “We need less government and lower taxes.”

“Sherrod,” a third asks, referring to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, “what planet are you on?”

If you live in a state where a competitive race could help tip the balance in the Senate this fall, you’ve almost certainly seen ads like these, laden with menacing theme music, light on the facts and funded by the US Chamber of Commerce. The nation’s largest business lobby is showcasing bold ambitions this year in an effort to build on gains made in the 2010 midterms, when at least $33 million of Chamber advertising helped push the nation dramatically rightward. The group began placing ads in swing districts as early as November 2011. Since then, it has rolled out a campaign aimed at influencing at least fifty House and eight Senate races, and according to Politico it has set a goal of $100 million in spending for this electoral cycle.

Watchdog groups believe the strategy in 2012 is similar to that of 2010: the Chamber goes into a district, blitzes it with attack ads to soften up the opposition and then steps back to let other deep-pocket groups come in. The intent is to force Democrats to play defense across the board, thus spreading their resources thin. According to the liberal online publication ThinkProgress, twenty of the twenty-one ads the Chamber released in May were hostile to Democratic candidates.

“The Chamber has spent about $600,000 attacking me,” Tester, the farmer turned Democratic Montana senator, told me in April. “I’ve got a great small-business record. I’ve carried bills the US Chamber has advocated for in the past. [But] they see Montana as a state that they can pick up. They’re dishonest, painting me as something I’m not. They’re trying to paint me as Wall Street, as somebody who’s ‘gone DC.’ It’s about as crazy as anybody can get.”

The organization is maintaining its longstanding policy of not officially taking sides in presidential elections. But even though it has not directly funded anti-Obama or pro-Romney ads, that doesn’t mean its leaders wouldn’t dearly love to oust Obama. Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, says the Chamber hopes to influence the presidential election indirectly—by shaping the contours of the public debate in the months leading up to election day and by bringing conservative voters to the polls.

It is also reportedly coordinating with the top conservative Super PACs to craft a unified message and spending strategy. US Chamber Watch has documented a series of meetings between the Chamber’s counsel and GOP strategists dating back to 2009, when they conceived the notion of creating American Crossroads, the Super PAC headed by Karl Rove. Since then, the watchdog group believes, the Chamber has been holding regular meetings with Crossroads, which claims that it will be able to bring $300 million to the 2012 election fight, and with Koch brothers–backed organizations (including Americans for Prosperity), which have bandied about the figure of $400 million as their target. Further evidence of cross-pollination: Chamber strategist Scott Reed previously worked for the GOP, and former Chamber counsel Steven Law is president of Crossroads GPS, the Rove-affiliated 501(c)(4) “social welfare organization.”

According to the Washington Post, the key players in this alliance have been meeting every couple of weeks to strategize. In May, Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei reported in Politico that the Chamber, Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity and the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund had joined together in a pledge to raise an unprecedented $1 billion to influence the upcoming elections.

Compared to these figures, the $100 million that the Chamber hopes to spend could seem almost paltry. But to view it as such would be a huge mistake—for if recent years have proven anything about the role of money in the country’s politics, it’s that a group with a sizable budget for carefully targeted advertising can exert outsize influence on election day.

All of this adds up to a ton of bad news for the country’s democratic system. Pay-to-play makes it that much harder for ordinary people to get a fair hearing. It wrecks the notion of good governance, and it undermines the idea that the public interest can be well represented by the state and its elected officials.

And yet there are signs that the Chamber has overplayed its hand. Historically, the organization has been careful to camouflage its right-wing economic agenda, claiming it simply champions a “common sense” approach to the country’s problems. But these days the Chamber is struggling to tame the Tea Party beast it helped to unleash, whose destabilizing extremism was on display during last year’s debt ceiling debate. And the Chamber is facing increased scrutiny into its questionable spending of charitable funds for political purposes as well as its alleged misuse of money ponied up by anonymous donors. The Citizens United ruling gave corporations a free pass to influence elections, but with the flood of money has come heightened attention to the organizations that are bundling and spending it, often playing fast and loose with established federal election requirements. That puts the Chamber in an unwelcome—and possibly damaging—spotlight.

* * *

The Chamber has been developing a carefully structured political strategy since the early 1970s, when Lewis Powell (who would later become a US Supreme Court justice) penned a famous memo advising the group on how to tackle what he believed to be the growing anti-business environment in the United States. To reclaim influence over the political and regulatory processes, and to shape public opinion in corporate America’s favor, he urged a more aggressive lobbying effort and called for the creation of a network of think tanks and research groups that could promote pro-business messages.

In recent years, as Powell’s suggestions have taken root, the Chamber has served as a sort of clearinghouse for megacorporations that want to shape policy without leaving any fingerprints. During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, for example, AHIP (the industry group representing health insurance companies) donated more than $100 million to the Chamber of Commerce, according to National Journal. The anonymity of the process allowed insurers to claim they were cooperating with the Obama administration’s attempts to improve efficiency, rein in costs and expand access, while in reality their dollars were hard at work drumming up opposition to reform.

Other donors have contributed money with the understanding that it would be used to push for their own priorities: an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, rollback of any number of environmental or financial regulations. Alan Grayson, a progressive Florida Congressman defeated in his 2010 re-election bid, says the general consensus among his Democratic colleagues is that the Chamber has become “a means for individual corporate entities to launder their sewer money,” giving donations in exchange for verbal commitments to advance favored policies.

The Chamber has been particularly tough on the markedly mild Dodd-Frank financial reforms. In early 2012, the group issued a “report card” for the bill, handing out a C- for its impact on US competitiveness and a C for its attempts to regulate the notorious derivatives markets. The report also expressed concern that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established as part of Dodd-Frank, “could limit access to credit in the marketplace for consumers and small businesses.”

So rigid have the Chamber’s positions become that last year it backed the Regulatory Accountability Act, a House bill that would impose an endless series of reviews before any new regulations could kick in. It also supported the REINS Act (for “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny”), which aims to prevent new regulations from being enacted unless they’re passed by both houses of Congress with no amendments—“which means never,” as Weissman dryly notes. It even opposes aggressive enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which allows companies that engage in bribery overseas to be prosecuted in the United States.

To advance its far-right agenda, the Chamber relies on a language of doublespeak, one that preaches American-as-apple-pie values while advocating policies that are anything but commonsensical and fair. Healthcare reform is thus mislabeled as a “job killer,” while the evisceration of safety-net programs like Social Security and Medicare becomes “entitlement reform.” In the aftermath of a fiscal collapse largely caused by lax regulations and obscene risk-taking by too-big-to-fail banks, such measures as strengthening regulations and restoring progressive taxation ought to be considered common-sense proposals. Yet the Chamber has repeatedly stymied such reforms, claiming they’re harmful to America’s economic well-being and arguing that cutting taxes and regulations even further is the way to restore the country’s fiscal health. The implicit assumption behind its language—analyzed by Occidental College politics professor Peter Dreier in his Cry Wolf Project—is that any attempt to make businesses pay their fair share is by definition “anti-business” and therefore “anti-American.”

* * *

The US Chamber of Commerce has been a dominant partisan player in Washington for years, with hundreds of state and local chapters reinforcing its message around the country. But the national group has noticeably stepped up its political game since 2008. In the two years following Obama’s election, the Chamber spent about $300 million lobbying for conservative legislation and against the regulatory, social welfare and tax reforms proposed by Democrats. When the 2010 midterms came around, it played a decisive role. According to several reports, the organization pumped $32.1 million into Congressional elections that year. The Chamber-backed candidate won in thirty-eight of fifty-nine races (64 percent), helping to secure the GOP House majority and significantly weakening the Democrats’ hold over the Senate. Chamber campaigns targeting judicial figures who opposed tort reform were also instrumental in defeating several progressive judges in their re-election efforts that year.

US Chamber Watch estimates that 93 percent of the money the Chamber spent on the 2010 midterm elections went to help elect Republican candidates, including major GOP Senate candidates such as Marco Rubio (Florida), Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Mark Kirk (Illinois). All told, election watchdog groups estimate the Chamber spent more in its lobbying efforts throughout 2010 than the next five largest lobbying outlays combined.

A lot of Americans are probably feeling pretty good after the Democratic Convention. Democrats seem to at least understand most of the problems we face and have plans to continue, the steady, if slow, progress toward fixing the economic train wreck Republicans left in 2008. The Chamber and Mitt Romney will have us go back to 1850 - a nation with a hand full of super wealthy authoritarians wielding power for and by the super rich. Anyone who thinks elections cannot be bought is not paying attention - the same people and groups mentioned in that research article bought the House for the most radical anti-American conservatives they could dig up in 2010.

Another angle Republicans are working is the modern version of Jim-Crow laws, keeping seniors and non-white from voting - Civil Rights Icon John Lewis: GOP Voter Suppression Laws Are ‘Not Right,’ ‘Not Fair,’ ‘Not Just’

Why has brazen lying become intrinsic to GOP strategy? Because the party’s actual agenda is so unpopular, so unworkable and so dangerous.