Friday, November 30, 2012

It’s Not a Fiscal Cliff, It’s an Austerity Crisis

It’s Not a Fiscal Cliff, It’s an Austerity Crisis

Washington is not known for the stunning clarity with which it frames and addresses tough issues. But has there ever been a debate so mired in confusion as the one around the so-called fiscal cliff?

The trouble starts with the term “fiscal cliff,” which misstates the nature of the problem and provides no hint of how to solve it. I prefer the term “austerity crisis,” which at least describes the real issue -- too much austerity, imposed too quickly. (This has the added advantage of sidestepping an increasingly inane discussion over whether the problem is really a “cliff,” “curb,” “slope” or perhaps a “bomb.”)

Here is the crux of it: Depending on what you throw into the pot, the sum of the expiring Bush tax cuts along with currently mandated spending cuts would equal somewhere between $500 billion and $700 billion in deficit reduction in 2013. That’s more than enough fiscal contraction to throw the U.S. into recession. The tax increases alone would reduce the average family’s take-home pay by more than 6 percent. Because everyone agrees that’s a bad thing, Congress could pass a law, tomorrow, preventing it. Done.

But Congress won’t pass that law. Although the problem may be too much austerity too quickly, most everyone in Washington is insisting that the solution should encompass much, much more. In theory, this crisis should be easily resolved: If you have too much austerity, lighten the load. The reason the austerity crisis has become so messy is that the connection between the problem and its solution has been severed.

Wrong Solutions

In fact, proposed solutions inevitably include four or even five distinct categories of policy. There are proposals to address the crisis itself -- to reduce the dangerous size and speed of the scheduled deficit reduction in 2013. There are proposals to replace the scheduled deficit reduction with a different set of deficit-reducing tax increases and spending cuts, to be phased in over a longer term. There are policies to redesign the tax code or reform certain entitlements. There’s the need to raise the debt limit, as the Treasury is expected to run out of borrowing authority in February. Finally, there are policies to increase the amount of short-term stimulus and boost infrastructure investment.

So while the proximate problem is too much austerity, too quickly, the solutions being offered address an array of other concerns. Meanwhile, amid these wide-ranging proposals, the conversation in Washington tends to focus exclusively on achieving deficit reduction -- even though the economic threat we face in January is too much deficit reduction.

A more sensible approach would deal directly with the problem at hand: the austerity crisis. And that could be defused fairly simply, without doing overly much to harm the deficit. The path would involve identifying policies that pack a big stimulus punch without significantly increasing the deficit. Such “mismatched” policies abound.

The liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that continuing the payroll-tax cut would create 1 million jobs in 2013 at a cost of about $115 billion. By contrast, maintaining the Bush tax cuts -- yes, all of them, including those on income less than $250,000 -- would create only 600,000 jobs while costing $202 billion. Adding to the appeal of the payroll- tax cut is that it’s designed to expire once the economy has strengthened. The Bush tax cuts, once renewed, will probably continue costing the Treasury year after year.

This is what the public sees - we have to make balancing the budget a top priority and we have to make massive spending cuts. You know why the public sees the fiscal "cliff" in that frame, because the media have become hand maidens for the radical Right conservatives. Conservatives do not want to admit that we have a revenue crisis, another way of saying austerity crisis - because that would point to one somewhat simple solution -raising revenue from taxes on people who have so much money they ponder how many McMansions they feel like owning or whether they should have the chauffeur wash the Mercedes seven days a week or just every week day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Values? That is When Wal-Mart Uses Layers of Foreign Contractors To Evade Responsibility

Values? That is When Wal-Mart Uses Layers of Foreign Contractors To Evade Responsibility

Bangladesh is half a world away from Bentonville, the Arkansas city where Wal-Mart is headquartered. This week, Wal-Mart surely wishes it were farther away than that.

Over the weekend, a horrific fire swept through a Bangladesh clothing factory, killing more than 100 workers, many of whose bodies were burnt so badly that they could not be identified. In its gruesome particulars — locked doors, no emergency exits, workers leaping to their deaths — the blaze seems a ghastly centennial reenactment of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire of 1911, when 146 workers similarly jumped to their deaths or were incinerated after they found the exit doors were locked.

The signal difference between the two fires is location. The Triangle building was located directly off New York’s Washington Square. Thousands watched the appalling spectacle of young workers leaping to the sidewalks 10 stories down; reporters and photographers were quickly on the scene. It’s not likely, however, that the Bangladesh disaster was witnessed by anyone from either the United States or Europe — the two markets for which the clothes made inside that factory were destined. For that, at least, Wal-Mart should consider itself fortunate.

The Bangladesh factory supplied clothing to a range of retailers, and officials who have toured the site said they found clothing with a Faded Glory label — a Wal-Mart brand. Wal-Mart says that the factory, which had received at least one bad report for its fire-safety provisions, was no longer authorized to make its clothing but one of the suppliers in the company’s very long supply chain had subcontracted the work there “in direct violation of our policies.”

If this were an isolated incident of Wal-Mart denying responsibility for the conditions under which the people who make and move its products labor, then the Bangladeshi disaster wouldn’t reflect quite so badly on the company. But the very essence of the Wal-Mart system is to employ thousands upon thousands of workers through contractors and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors, who are compelled by Wal-Mart’s market power and its demand for low prices to cut corners and skimp on safety. And because Wal-Mart isn’t the employer of record for these workers, the company can disavow responsibility for their conditions of work.

This system isn’t reserved just for workers in faraway lands: Tens of thousands of American workers labor under similar arrangements. Many are employed at little more than the minimum wage in the massive warehouses in the inland exurbs of Los Angeles, where Wal-Mart’s imports from Asia are trucked from the city’s harbor to be sorted and packaged and put on the trucks and trains that take them to Wal-Mart stores for a thousand miles around.

The warehouses are run by logistics companies with which Wal-Mart contracts, and most of the workers are employed by some of the 200-plus temporary employment companies that have sprung up in the area — even though many of the workers have worked in the same warehouses for close to a decade. Last year, the California Department of Industrial Relations, suspecting that many of these workers were being cheated, charged one logistics company that runs a warehouse for Wal-Mart with failing to provide its employees with pay stubs and other information on their pay rates. Wal-Mart itself was not cited. That’s the beauty of its chain of deniability.

A small band of these warehouse workers has been demonstrating for the past couple of months to bring attention to the bizarrely contingent nature of their employment and the abuses that flow from it. Their numbers were augmented Friday byactual Wal-Mart employees in stores around the nation, calling attention to the everyday low wages and absence of benefits that the vast majority of the company’s 1.4 million U.S. employees receive.

Other discount retailers — notably Costco and Trader Joe’s — pay their workers far more, train them more extensively, have much lower rates of turnover and much higher rates of sales per employee, according to a Harvard Business Review article by Zeynep Ton of the MIT Sloan School of Management. Costco is a very profitable business, but Wal-Mart maintains an even higher profit margin, which it achieves by underpaying its employees.

If Wal-Mart brought half their foreign contractor work back to America and paid employees at factories and at retail stores a living wage, they would still make billions in profits. What they are doing is doing their best to redistribute the fruits of labor to themselves and other wealthy investors. The radical anti-American conservative movement knows that this is the best way to weaken the economic and political will of the average American and make a lot of money doing it.

Fox says Thomas Ricks apologized for 'wing of the Republican party' comment; Ricks says no

9 Plutocracy Alert: Greedy CEOs Trying to Shred the Safety Net While Pigging Out on Corporate Welfare

There is nothing more harmful for the middle class than Republican Members of the House in districts that have been gerrymandered so that caricatures like Michele Bachmann (R-Homophobia) only fear in life is a primary challenge from an even more ridiculous Republican.

Fox News' Benghazi Madness Proves The Network Won't Change

Monday, November 26, 2012

Benghazi - The Conservative Mind is Wasted

The Bizarre Attacks on Susan Rice by The Radical Anti-American Conservative Movement

SINCE THE Senate is solely responsible for the confirmation of Cabinet officers, it’s not often that members of the House of Representatives jump into a debate about the nomination of a secretary of state — particularly before there has been a nomination. That’s one of the reasons a letter sent to President Obama this week by 97 House Republicans, challenging his potential choice of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice for the State Department job, is remarkable.

Another is blatant disregard of established facts. Drawn up by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), the letter alleges that “Ambassador Rice is widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the American public” about the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But as congressional testimony has established, Ms. Rice’s comments on several Sunday television talk shows on Sept. 16 were based on talking points drawn up by the intelligence community. She was acting as an administration spokeswoman; there was nothing either incompetent or deliberately misleading about the way she presented the information she was given.

Though the Benghazi attack involved clear failures of U.S. security, Republicans have concentrated on a dubious subsidiary issue: the alleged failure of the administration to publicly recognize quickly enough that the incident was “a terrorist attack.” In fact, Mr. Obama has acknowledged that “the information may not have always been right the first time.” But if there was a White House conspiracy to cover up the truth, Republicans have yet to produce any evidence of it — much less a connection to Ms. Rice, who had no involvement with the Benghazi attack other than those television appearances.

Nor was her account of what happened as far off the mark as Republicans claim. Though investigations are not complete, what has emerged so far suggests that the attack was staged by local jihadists, not ordered by the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Officials believe that it was inspired in part by demonstrations that took place that day in Cairo. That is not so far from Ms. Rice’s explanation that “this began as a spontaneous .?.?. response to what transpired in Cairo.” Republicans claim that Ms. Rice “propagated a falsehood” that the attacks were connected to an anti-Islam YouTube video. How then to explain the contemporaneous reports from Western news organizations quoting people at the burning consulate saying that they were angry about the video?

The oddity of the Republican response to what happened in Benghazi is partly this focus on half-baked conspiracy theories rather than on the real evidence of failures by the State Department, Pentagon and CIA in protecting the Benghazi mission. What’s even stranger is the singling out of Ms. Rice, a Rhodes scholar and seasoned policymaker who, whatever her failings, is no one’s fool.

Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy. You’d think that before launching their broadside, members of Congress would have taken care not to propagate any falsehoods of their own.
In addition to their multitude of sins against America and enlightened thought, we can add willful illiteracy to the list. And that is giving them some benefit of a doubt, since the other possibility is they really are as idiotic as they sound.

Paying Workers at Big Retailers Like Walmart Something Closer to a Living Wage is Good For Everyone

Paying Workers at Big Retailers Like Walmart Something Closer to a Living Wage is Good For Everyone

Chances are you missed this particular bargain on Black Friday: Agree to spend 15 cents more on every shopping trip, and Walmart, Target, and other large retailers will agree to pay their workers at least $25,000 a year.

Big box retailers aren't actually offering that deal, but a new study by the liberal think tank Demos argues that it would be a great bargain for us all if they did. Increasing the average wage at large retailers from $21,000 to $25,000 would probably cost you less than $20 a year at the register yet lift some 1.5 million people out of poverty (including your cashier), create 100,000 new jobs, and boost GDP by some $13.5 billion.

Demos argues that retailers would benefit, despite higher labor costs, because their low-wage employees could suddenly afford to buy more of the basic necessities that they scan and load into plastic bags every day.

If you are still wondering what's in it for you, however, then consider this tidbit from Sasha Abramsky:

    In 2004, a year in which Walmart reported $9.1 billion in profits, the retailer's California employees collected $86 million in public assistance, according to researchers at the University of California-Berkeley. Other studies have revealed widespread use of publicly funded health care by Walmart employees in numerous states. In 2004, Democratic staffers of the House education and workforce committee calculated that each 200-employee Walmart store costs taxpayers an average of more than $400,000 a year, based on entitlements ranging from energy-assistance grants to Medicaid to food stamps to WIC—the federal program that provides food to low-income women with children.

Seen through this lens, the worker protests that erupted after Thanksgiving at Walmart locations around the country might end up being the best Black Friday specials of them all. Think of them as 2-for-1 coupons: Spend more on wages now, improve the economy AND save us all lots of tax money down the road—money that we can spend instead on more important things, like, well, parachutes for our cats.
 Big box retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy and even upscale retailers like Macy's have a  not so rare disease called near-sighted tunnel vision. They see quarterly profit statements and bonuses dancing like Christmas faeries, they do not see the USA as a community writ large and what is best for the community in the long run.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 - 10 Things Americans Can Be Thankful For

Thanksgiving 2012 - 10 Things Americans Can Be Thankful For

Following a long presidential campaign full of policy battles and disagreements, progressives have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. Here are 10 things we can all celebrate:

We are thankful for the millions of Americans serving our country at home and abroad. This includes 1.4 million Armed Services members, 80,000 AmeriCorps members, and 8,073 Peace Corps volunteers and trainees, 6 million teachers and public school employees, 1.1 million professional and volunteer firefighters, and 22 million total public employees.

We’re thankful for Obamacare. After surviving dozens of repeal votes in Congress, the Supreme Court, and a presidential election, the Affordable Care Act is on track to extending insurance coverage to 30 million Americans and lowering health care spending. Millions of seniors and young people have benefited from the law and inefficient insurers are distributing rebates to consumers.

We’re thankful for the social safety net. Nutrition assistance, welfare, unemployment compensation, Social Security, and other social programs keep millions of Americans out of poverty each year. Though the programs aren’t as robust as they could be, they help provide food, health care, and educational opportunity to America’s neediest families.

We’re thankful for historic progress against the War on Drugs. In passing laws to legalize and regulate marijuana in Washington and Colorado, supporters joined many local jurisdictions that have decriminalized some drug offenses in signaling their willingness to better tailor drug policy to public health and safety goals. Timed to the year when the film The House I Live In is opening new eyes to the War’s decimation of minority communities, the time is ripe to end the War that, since its declaration 40 years ago by President Richard Nixon, has cost the U.S. both money and lives while failing to curb drug use.

We’re thankful for the advocates who protected our right to vote. The past few years saw a raft of new voter suppression laws and tactics, but most of the worst laws were blocked at least temporarily by the courts or repealed by lawmakers. The challenge going forward will be to maintain these victories as litigation in several of these cases continues and the U.S. Supreme Court considers a challenge to the Voting Rights Act.

We’re thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, has been working on new rules to protect Americans from predatory lenders, bogus credit card deals, and shady mortgage peddlers. It has also won American consumers hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds for credit card scams.

We’re thankful for Occupy Wall Street. Since its street protests last year, Occupy Wall Street has kept busy with several important projects. Occupy Our Homes saved many Americans from unfair foreclosures, while Occupy Hurricane Sandy provided aid to victims of the superstorm that battered the northeast. Occupy’s latest project, the Rolling Jubilee, raised millions of dollars in order to buy and then abolish debt.

We’re thankful for the most diverse Congress in history. On Election Day, Americans ensured that the 113th Congress will contain the widest range yet of ethnicities, religious affiliations, and sexual orientations. The incoming freshman class contains 4 African Americans, 5 Asian Americans, 10 Latinos, 24 women, the first openly bisexual congresswoman, as well as the country’s first Buddhist senator and two Hindu representatives.

We’re thankful for religious freedom. The U.S. is a nation of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, non-believers, and religious and spiritual sects of all stripes. Unlike some other countries, the U.S. protects Americans’ freedom to practice the religion of their choice without fear of repercussion, suppression, or forced religious adherence.

We’re thankful for growing LGBT equality. The sweeping victories for LGBT equality and out candidates in this election demonstrated that this country is on track to providing full benefits and protections to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. While there is still work to be done, schools are becoming safer, families are becoming more secure, and visibility and awareness are helping to lower discrimination rates.

Conservatives are eating some well deserved crow for running for office n one of the most regressive anti-American platforms in modern U.S. history. They wanted to turn back the clock to the glory days of 1850. They declared war on women and pretty much everyone else except rich old white guys who hate everyone.

Dumb tweet of the day: Victoria Jackson’s GMO theory

Dumb tweet of the day: Victoria Jackson's GMO theory (Credit: Wikipedia/Jlamont)

    Victoria Jackson @vicjackshow

    My friend thinks GMO's, genetically modified food might be affecting hormone levels and making more men gay these days.

Fox's Andrea Tantaros Treats Food Stamps As A Diet Plan: "Do You Know How Fabulous I'd Look?"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Does The Conservative Mind Look Like? A Hostess Twinkie

What Does The Conservative Mind  Look Like? A Hostess Twinkie

Hostess Brands, the maker of sweet snacks like Twinkies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, will ask a bankruptcy judge today to approve a plan that will allow it to pay $1.75 million in bonuses to 19 of its executives. Hostess’ decision to file for bankruptcy came amid disputes with its union workers, who threatened a strike that Hostess said imperiled the company’s finances. The unions are now protesting Hostess’ request for the bonuses, though they are unlikely to prevail, CNN Money reports:

    Hostess Brands will ask a bankruptcy judge on Monday for approval to shut down the company and pay $1.75 million in executive bonuses.

    Unions representing workers at the maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread and Drake’s snacks are arguing against the bonuses. [...]

    Under the plan, bonuses ranging from $7,400 to $130,500 will be paid to 19 executives. The company argues the bonuses are below market rates for such payments.

Even as it blamed unions for the bankruptcy and the 18,500 job losses that will ensue, Hostess already gave its executives pay raises earlier this year. The salary of the company’s chief executive tripled from $750,000 to roughly $2.5 million, and at least nine other executives received pay raises ranging from $90,000 to $400,000. Those raises came just months after Hostess originally filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Hostess is hardly the only company that has compensated its executives during bankruptcy or times of financial instability. Failed financial firm MF Global gave CEO Jon Corzine an $8 million pay package after it filed for bankruptcy, and Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit received a $6.7 million pay package when he resigned, despite Citi’s 88 percent profit loss during his final quarter. And Hostess isn’t alone in giving executives massive raises while asking for concessions from union workers either: construction giant Caterpillar rewarded its CEO with a 60 percent pay raise, paying him $17 million, even as it forced a pay and pension freeze on its union workforce.

Republicans get really pissed off when someone uses food stamps because their job does not pay enough to cover the basic costs of living, but they're happy to protect the elite privileges of the plutocratic executives who have systematically sent American jobs offshore, weakened unions and created a wage structure for workers that people can barely live on. That's not your grandfather's capitalism that is the capitalism of overlords over the serfs. They have to start calling people names like "Statists" and "Marxists" to distract attention from their fundamentally immoral and Anti-American shenanigans.

Is Anti-American proto-fascist Ann Coulter's book about "lies" a self-indictment?

Former Murdoch Aides to Be Charged With Bribery. Rupert Murdoch, an Australian wing-nut, is one of the patron saints of conservatism. Conservatives will do anything Rupert tells them to. So how is it that Conservatives can say they have Americans values when they worship a foreigner like a god.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Republicans Hate American Workers and Think Freedom Means The Right To Treat Them Like Wage Slaves

Republicans Hate American Workers and Think Freedom Means The Right To Treat Them Like Wage Slaves

Getting tired of eating at Chick-Fil-A every day to express your hatred of liberals? Well, now you have a couple more options. You can chow down at Applebee's, where the CEO of their New York franchises went on TV to declare that he won't be doing more hiring because of the costs Obamacare would impose. Or you can head over to Papa John's, whose CEO, John Schnatter, has said that Obamacare could add as much as—brace yourself—10 cents to the cost of a pizza, and since obviously customers would never tolerate such price gouging, he'll just have to cut back employees' hours.

In our new era of corporate political activism, we're goin to be seeing a lot more of this kind of thing. So let's make sure we all understand exactly what it is these chieftains are complaining about: They don't want to give their employees health insurance. That's it. They'd prefer to talk about "regulation" in some general sense, so you might get the impression that Obamacare is making them needlessly remodel their bathrooms or something, but the provision in question mandates that health coverage be offered in any company that has over 50 employees.

And there's something else to keep in mind: Nearly all companies with over 50 employees already offer health coverage to their employees, even though this provision of Obamacare doesn't take effect until January 2014. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 98 percent of companies with over 200 employees offer coverage, as do 94 percent of companies with between 50 and 199 employees. That means when you see some CEO come out and decry the costs of Obamacare, the person you're looking at is one of the jerks, the guy who treats his employees like crap and is angry that the law is going to force him to be a little more humane.

There's a strong argument to be made that we should decouple health insurance from employment altogether. Making people depend on their employers for their health care is an artifact of history (unions began demanding health benefits during World War II, when they couldn't negotiate for pay increases because the government had instituted a wage freeze), not something that came about because it was a particularly rational way to get people insured. But as long as we're sticking with a largely employer-based system, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that I'd be more than happy to pay an extra 10 cents for my pizza if it meant knowing that the workers who made it are insured.
No one lives forever. Between the time you start your working lifee and the time you die, Conservatives think it is a fun game to cheat workers out of their fair share of wages and benefits, so that Republicans can win the game. What game? The creepiest most greedy slug who dies with the most toys wins. When you start hearing that simple fact on broadcast media, that will be the day the media became fair and not conservative.

Republicans skip Benghazi hearing; complain about lack of information on Benghazi

The Mind-blowing Hypocrisy of John McCain(R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC): WMD Lie is Good, Repeating Intelligence is Bad

Who's to Blame for the Hostess Bankruptcy: Wall Street, Unions, or Carbs?

Even Conservative Republican Admits CIA Approved U.N. Ambassador’s Talking Points On Libya

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Mind-blowing Hypocrisy of John McCain(R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC): WMD Lie is Good, Repeating Intelligence is Bad

The Mind-blowing Hypocrisy of John McCain(R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC): WMD Lie is Good, Repeating Intelligence is Bad

Hypocrisy alert: John McCain supported Condoleeza Rice who misled the public on WMD, causing thousands to die, but now attacks Susan Rice.

Remember when Condoleezza Rice misled the public about Iraq’s WMDs and over 4,000 Americans died? John McCain doesn’t seem to. McCain is trying to sell the idea that Susan Rice appearing on TV to tell the American people what the intelligence community had ascertained about Libya on September 18 was wrong. She should have chosen not to speak on the subject without more certainty, he and Lindsay Graham claim.

Yet, Susan Rice’s statement made it clear that things were not certain. Here, once again, is her statement to the media on September 18 (emphasis mine):

RICE: Well, first of all, Chris, we are obviously investigating this very closely. The FBI has a lead in this investigation. The information, the best information and the best assessment we have today is that in fact this was not a preplanned, premeditated attack… Obviously, we will wait for the results of the investigation and we don’t want to jump to conclusions before then. But I do think it’s important for the American people to know our best current assessment.

Later, when the intelligence community updated their information, we learned that perhaps things didn’t go down as they first thought. Here’s a shocker for Republicans: Now there are reports saying that it might have had something to do with the video after all. The lesson here is that it takes time to gather the information. The Obama administration wanted to give the public the information it had on that date in September, and they continued to update us as they learned more. You can’t know what you don’t know yet. This is not hard to understand.

What is hard to understand is that as National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice made a public case for the Iraq war based on what was misleading information. John McCain later supported her confirmation as Secretary of State in 2005 and said that anyone who questioned her integrity did so for political reasons. McCain lectured, “We can disagree on policy and we disagree on a lot of things, but I think it is very clear that Condoleezza Rice is a person of integrity. And yes, I see this, some lingering bitterness over a very tough campaign.” Oh, do tell, Senator.

Back in 2002, Bush officials made the rounds on TV to claim that Iraq was accumulating high-strength aluminum tubes. Condoleezza Rice said the tubes “are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.” Rice told CNN, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
 Conservatives cannot make up their minds. They want to portray President Obama - head of the administration that finally caught Bin laden, as incompetent, yet they also want everyone to think he has super powers that allow him to see through mountains and walls 10,000 miles away.

Jerome Corsi's final straw

Back in April, after ABC News quoted Jerome Corsi as an authority in an article on so-called "birth tourism," Media Matters' Todd Gregory pointed out how low ABC had sunk:

    Jerome Corsi is the guy who co-wrote Unfit for Command, a book so infamously inaccurate that it helped spawn the term "swiftboating" as a description of a political smear campaign.

    That alone should tell you everything you need to know about Corsi, but there are so many other reasons he's not a credible figure. There's the birtherism. The appearance on a "pro-White" radio show. The bigoted comments on Free Republic. The promotion of laughable conspiracy theories about global government and the "North American Union." The failed Obama smear book.

What has Corsi done since? Well, there's this:

Yeah, that's Corsi at the WorldNetDaily Convention last weekend, saying President Obama has engaged in "identity theft" because he has "stolen the identity of a natural born citizen" by "using someone else's Social Security number."

He also called for Obama to "renounce Lucifer." Seriously.
 Who knows, it is possible that Corsi is evil incarnate. What other kind of being would regulate so much evil and still claim to have American values.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

When Republicans Commit Sexual Indiscretions, Other Republicans See another Obama Conspiracy

When Republicans Commit Sexual Indiscretions, Other Republicans See another Obama Conspiracy

Former CIA Director David Petraeus’ resignation last Friday has prompted the right to speculate that Petraeus’ abrupt departure was somehow designed by the Obama administration to prevent Petraeus from testifying before Congress on Libya or that the White House held news of the affair over his head to say the attack was sparked by an anti-Islam video.

Fox News’ Eric Bolling provided an example of the logic behind this latter theory:

    BOLLING: A lot of people are scratching their heads as to why Gen. Petraeus blamed the ['Innocence of Muslims'] video three days after the September 11th attacks. Two days after he blamed the video, Susan Rice went out there, and since then, subsequent to all of this, we found out that as of day one, the Obama administration, intel community, everyone knew it wasn’t the video. They knew it was a terrorist attack. But why would Gen. Petraeus do it? Was there something being held over his head where they said ‘Hey General, go out there and say video because otherwise we are going to blow this thing wide open.’ That’s one theory.

Both the House and Senate are slated to hold closed-door hearings on the intelligence failures before and during the attack in Benghazi. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) seems to buy the explanation that Petraeus was forced out before he could speak under oath. “It’s so suspicious,” he told Fox’s Sean Hannity last night, adding, “It’s not a coincidence to me. He is probably the one that knows most about what happened or didn’t happen in Benghazi.”

Fox’s Gretchen Carlson piled on this morning on Fox and Friends. “I’m wondering if he did come to testify, and that was under oath, that he would have to stick to that story, that it was the videotape?” she asked.

Watch Fox’s conspiracy-peddling here:

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has already said that there is “no link between Petraeus’ resignation and Benghazi.

And evidence so far indicates that Petraeus turned in his letter of resignation to President Obama of his own free will — on the advice of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper — because of an extra-maritial affair rather than anything related to Libya.

A newly uncovered speech by Petraeus’ alleged mistress Paula Broadwell on Oct. 26 also provided ammunition to the conspiracy theorists. In her speech, Broadwell appears to reveal new information about Benghazi, casually mentioning that the CIA had detained several Libyan nationals in the annex that served as its base in the city, possibly prompting the attack that lead to the deaths of four Americans. Such a claim had yet to be reported anywhere in the news media. A CIA spokesperson roundly denied the claim, as it no longer possess detention authority under Executive Order.

Meanwhile, the right is also trotting out another theory that the White House forced Petraeus out to prevent any possible bid by the former general at the presidency in 2016. Fox News analyst Ralph Peters advanced both of theories last night talking to Bill O’Reilly, saying the White House is “lying” about the Petraeus affair because of Benghazi and Obama is trying to prevent Petraeus’ rise to the presidency.
The first wave of right-wing clueless theories said that this was all mean to keep Petraeus from testify, but it turns out he will testify. Petraeus has already resigned so e could use the opportunity to actually bash the White House if he liked. That is the thing about Republicans and their serial lies and myths - they start to crumble at the slightest close examination.

Wackadoos at work, Fox's Kilmeade Fearmongers About Greece-Style Riots In America: Should We "Put Our Extra Money Into Tear Gas?"

Monday, November 12, 2012

House Republican Leader Fails To Understand His Idolatry for Millionaires Lost Conservatives The Election

House Republican Leader Fails To Understand His Idolatry for Millionaires Lost Conservatives The Election
Bernie Sanders rebuts the ludicrous argument that Americans gave Republicans a mandate to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy:

    Well, I think the objective facts disagree with that assertion. The Democrats gained two seats in the Senate, did better than anyone dreamed. The Democrats gained more votes in the House, gained a few seats in the House. President Obama won a resounding electoral college victory and won the popular vote, I think by two and a half million votes. [Note: It's actually 3.3 million as of now.]

    To suggest the Republicans did well in this election makes no sense at all.

    President Obama was very clear. He spoke about this all of the time: if reelected, he is not going to extend tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires. He was reelected. Many of us ran on a similar program. We were reelected.

    So I think Mr. Boehner has got to understand they lost, and let the wishes of the majority of the people in this country prevail.

Rep. Boehner (R-OH) is the House Republican Speaker. One of, if not the most important campaign issue that tripped up Romney and conservatives was that America had a choice between making the working poor and middle-class pay for the recession that conservatives started to fiance continued tax cuts and even more tax cuts for millionaires. Conservatives have decided that once again elections do n ot matter. Boehner and the rest of the Republican Cult have declared undying idolatry of the Koch brothers and the president of Exxon. Everyone knows there is no talking reason with a cultist.

Fox News Sunday Guests Debunk Laura Ingraham's Whopper That Obama Refused To "Compromise On Pretty Much Any Issue" . When Republicans say the word compromise it is always code for not give conservatives hostage takers everything they asked for.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Republican Florida Secretary of State Rick Detzner Has No Regrets, Won’t Say He’s Sorry For Massive Voting Lines

Republican Florida Secretary of State Rick Detzner Has No Regrets, Won’t Say He’s Sorry For Massive Voting Lines

In an interview with CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield earlier today, Florida’s Republican Secretary of State Rick Detzner tried to defend his states dysfunctional election process, which led voters waiting up to six hours in line just to cast their vote. Indeed, as Banfield told Detzner, she spoke to many voters who “tried twice to vote early,” but had to abandon those attempts due to long lines, only to wait another three hours to vote on election day. Yet Detzner appeared completely without remorse for the widespread barriers to voting he presided over.

In what was perhaps the most significant exchange, Banfield asked whether Detzner regrets a Florida law rolling back the number of days when voters could cast an early ballot. Detzner was unremorseful:

    BANFIELD: Look, you all decided, with a Republican legislature to cut the early voting days from 14 to 8. For whatever reason you did that, do you regret making that choice, so that all of those people who didn’t get to the polls early stuck themselves in line and wound up waiting so long that many people walked away and were disenfranchised?

    DETZNER: Well, let me point out that, while the days were cut, the number of hours were not. We still maintained 96 hours of voting, and it created greater flexibility for the supervisors. Uh, for the first time ever voters could vote during the day for 12 hours during the day, and I can tell you I heard feedback from voters going into election day that they liked the opportunity to vote either in the morning before work or after work. And frankly, I think the turnout is a good representation of the fact that people liked the voting hours and the flexibility that the supervisors had.

Watch it:

There is something truly absurd about Detzner’s claim that the fact that people did not decide to give up their most fundamental right somehow reflects their satisfaction with a massive failure of governance. It should go without saying that when someone has to wait six hours to cast a ballot, their government failed them, and no amount of spin can defend a decision not to make more opportunities to vote available. As Florida’s former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist said last Sunday, Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) refusal to extend early voting is “unconscionable” and “the only thing that makes any sense as to why this is happening and being done is voter suppression.”

Crist is almost undoubtedly correct. The Obama campaign made early voting a key prong of their turnout strategy, and many low-income voters who tend to vote Democratic are disenfranchised without early voting because they lack the job flexibility to cast a ballot on election day.

Republicans try to prevent average working Americans from voting. They see that as a value. When called to explain, they take the point of view of an elitist European plutocrat. They smile, proud to call that having values. Conservatives clearly do not care if the letter or spirit of the law is carried out. They are proud to call that point of view American values. It seems that conservatives have been confused being malevolent with having values.

Anti-American Fox News caster Brian Kilmeade On Voters Approving Of Obama's Response To Sandy: America Is "The Shallowest Country In The History Of Man". Brian makes a nice 6 figure a year salary for doing nothing but hating America for a living. No wonder he supports conservatism and it's twisted concept of patriotism.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The fake Republican civil war: Conservative Freak Herman Cain calls for third party

GOP civil war: Herman Cain calls for third party - In the wake of Mitt Romney's loss, Republicans find themselves at civil war
It’s been less than 24 hours since the polls closed and already the first shots in an emerging civil war within the conservative movement are being fired. Right-leaning pundits have been taking turns beating up on Mitt Romney and blaming him for the loss last night. Donald Trump just tweeted, “Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle. Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money.” And GOP leaders are already taking to the barricades on either side of the divide, which basically comes down to this question: Were Romney and the GOP too conservative or not conservative enough?

Steve Schmidt, a top Republican strategist who ran John McCain’s 2008 campaign, invoked the term on MSNBC this morning. “When I talk about a civil war in the Republican Party, what I mean is, it’s time for Republican elected leaders to stand up and to repudiate this nonsense [of the extreme right wing], and to repudiate it directly,” he said.

But on the other side of the fight, Herman Cain, the former presidential candidate who still has a robust following via his popular talk radio program and speaking tours, today suggested the most clear step to open civil war: secession. Appearing on Bryan Fischer’s radio program this afternoon, Cain called for a large faction of Republican Party leaders to desert the party and form a third, more conservative party.

“I never thought that I would say this, and this is the first time publicly that I’ve said it: We need a third party to save this country. Not Ron Paul and the Ron Paulites. No. We need a legitimate third party to challenge the current system that we have, because I don’t believe that the Republican Party … has the ability to rebrand itself,” Cain said.

Fischer, a social conservative leader, noted that he predicted this summer that if Mitt Romney loses, evangelical conservatives would start a third party. “If Barack Obama wins this election the Republican Party as we know it is finished, it is dead, it is toast,” Fischer said in September at the Values Voter Summit in Washington.

Rush Limabugh, two months ago, echoed the sentiment. ”If Obama wins, let me tell you what it’s the end of: the Republican Party. There’s gonna be a third party that’s gonna be oriented toward conservatism,” he said.

“It is more viable today than it has ever been,” Cain told Fischer today of a third party.

After the GOP’s crushing 2008 loss, there was lots of talk about a new third party. When the Tea Party emerged, this talk almost became a reality. Instead, the conservative activists opted for a hostile takeover of the GOP. It’s still very unlikely that Cain or anyone else could start a viable third party, but his comments underscore the cleavage within the conservative movement in the wake of the defeat last night.

The Limbaughs and Hermanator Cains already run the Republican party. Romney ran largely to the extreme right to get these conservative freaks to the polls. McCain did the same thing. Before 2008, McCain was what passed for a moderate, he ran to the radical Right, picked a psycho conservative running mate and lost. When he lost we heard the same hand wringing we're hearing now. Conservatism will always stand for social-Darwinism - where in all government programs are socialism and it is better to let the disabled, the elderly and working poor suffer or die than have any programs that fill in the gap that our economic system cannot seem to handle, or wants to handle on its own.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Anti-American Fox News Poised To Manufacture Another Bogus New Black Panther Controversy

Anti-American Fox News Poised To Manufacture Another Bogus New Black Panther Controversy

Fox appears poised to manufacture a scandal involving the New Black Panther Party appearing at a polling station in Philadelphia.

On Election Day 2008, two members of the New Black Panther Party appeared outside a polling station in Philadelphia, with one of them carrying a club. The Department of Justice (DOJ) under then-President George W. Bush brought a civil voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party and several of its members over the incident. After President Obama took office, the DOJ decided to pursue the case against the defendant carrying the club but dropped the lawsuit against the other defendants.

Fox and other right-wing media outlets obsessed about DOJ's decision to drop some of the claims, saying that DOJ was corrupt and refused to pursue charges against African Americans. The story never added up and was dismissed by a broad and bipartisan group of media and political figures.

Ultimately, DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility investigated the allegations against DOJ attorneys and determined that Justice Department attorneys "did not commit professional misconduct or exercise poor judgment, but rather acted appropriately, in the exercise of their supervisory duties in connection with the dismissal of the three defendants in the NBPP case." The investigation also found no evidence that decision-makers at DOJ "were influenced by the race of the defendants, or any considerations other than an assessment of the evidence and the applicable law."

But Fox appears ready to go through the same cycle again, highlighting a reported member of the New Black Panther Party who reportedly showed up outside the doors of a polling station and was shown on video opening a door for someone going inside. Co-host Steve Doocy stated that "the organization claims they are monitoring the 2012 election, but some critics say that it looks like intimidation like in 2008."
This is just a continuation of the conservative Republican Southern strategy - the scary black folks are gonna take over if white conservatives don't wake up and smell the imaginary controversy.

Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. That’s why Barack Obama is heading back to the White House

Wall Street Employees Think Banker Pay Would Increase Under Romney. Conservatism has never been shy about rewarding failure and corruption.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Romney's Economic Plan Relies on Magic, Not Math

Romney's Economic Plan Relies on Magic, Not Math

Joseph Stiglitz has a decent résumé. He won the Nobel Prize in economics and served as chairman of Bill Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers before being named chief economist of the World Bank. His C.V. , however, pales before his passionate commitment to pushing for economic policies that help the poor and powerless — inside and out of the United States. For Stiglitz, economics and social justice can’t be separated.

Since the election of Barack Obama, Stiglitz has also been something of a thorn in the side of the current administration, consistently critiquing the White House for falling short. He wasted no time in pointing out that Obama’s stimulus was too weak and his housing policy woefully ineffective — and he’s been particularly biting on the topic of Obama’s subservience to banking interests. But with Election Day fast approaching, it’s always useful to look at what the other guys would do, instead. Stiglitz took some time out to explain to Salon why, when the topic is economy, there’s really no choice for progressives in this election.

What’s at stake in this election for the U.S. economy?

Quite a lot. First, there’s what we call the macro-economy. The budget cuts that Romney/Ryan propose will certainly slow growth. If the European downturn continues that could tip us into a recession. The cuts certainly won’t provide the kind of stimulus that Obama’s jobs bill, for instance, pushes. Romney’s plan is based on magic: Just because he gets elected, the economy is supposed to take off. There is no evidence that anything like that would happen. Quite the contrary — I think the opposite would happen. The business community would see the cutbacks coming and that would itself cause a slowdown in the economy.

So that’s the macroeconomy. Secondly, the Romney/Ryan budget promises to spend more on the military while cutting taxes and cutting the deficit, and that means only one thing. If you look at the arithmetic, it means less investment in infrastructure, R&D, education … it just can’t add up any other way. And that means we’ll be growing more slowly in the future.

The irony is that these two things — lower growth now and lower growth in the future — means that our debt-to-GDP ratio won’t improve, it will get worse. So even if you were foolish enough to think that the debt-to-GDP ratio is the main determinant of future prosperity — which it’s not — the Romney agenda will fail.

And although I don’t like what’s called “presidential economics,” where you look solely at what happens under a particular presidential regime, the fact is that Romney has many of the same economic advisers that Bush did. Those economic advisers essentially doubled the debt in eight years. And that was in a period of relatively high growth. Why would we think that wouldn’t happen again? I don’t see any reason for that. Particularly when the global environment is more adverse.

And then the third part has to do with what kind of society we will be. If Romney wins, we will become a more divided society, a more unfair society. And that in turn will bring greater inequality, and will also undermine our growth.

Your most recent book is titled “The Price of Inequality.” Conservatives are pushing back, however, at the very idea that inequality is growing. One of Romney’s advisers just published an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal declaring, basically, that because everybody has a cellphone and an HDTV now, we’re better off than we were 10 years ago.

A lot of people living in shacks in South Africa also have cellphones and TVs, but that doesn’t mean they have an adequate standard of living — adequate nutrition or access to adequate healthcare, adequate life expectancies …

In any case, when we measure inequality we take into account the fact that the prices of some things go down while the prices of other things go up. That’s what we call “real income” — adjusting for those prices. And median household real income today is lower than it was 15 years ago.

You’ve made the negative case for how the economy will suffer if Romney is elected. Is there a positive case to be made for Obama? You’ve been one of the people on the left most critical of Obama’s efforts on the economy. Why should progressives vote for him now?

I think the main reason, quite honestly, to vote for him is that if he loses there could be a major step backward in every aspect. Not the least important of which is the importance of the Supreme Court, which would affect inequality of political power, as with the Citizens United case. The Court will also rule on basic human rights, gender rights, discrimination, things I think progressives should care a lot about.

But in terms of the economy, while I’ve been critical, there still has been progress in an awful lot of areas. Less progress than there should have been, less progress than was promised, but progress all the same.

Where do you see that progress?

Healthcare. Access to healthcare for everybody is an important step. It wasn’t the kind of deep reform that one would have liked where you would have done something about the pharmaceutical industry and health insurance industry and so forth, but it did result in increased access and that was terribly important. In education, getting the banks out of student loans saved $80 billion over 10 years. That’s a big deal. So while the housing program …

I was about to ask, what have been your biggest disappointments?

Housing policy has been a big disappointment. But compared to Bush, who didn’t do anything, and the Republicans, who haven’t proposed anything — Romney has been totally silent on the issue — at least Obama did something. So I am disappointed, but it represents a small step forward rather than zero. And I am worried that under Romney we will go back to the kind of deregulatory environment where we allow the banks to exploit our homeowners once again.

Looking ahead, are there things Obama could do that would represent a real step forward, rather than just consolidate what has already been achieved, or simply prevent going backward?

There aren’t many magic bullets, but let me talk about a couple things. Obviously, more progressive taxation — getting rid of the distortionary provisions in corporate welfare, special treatment of capital gains, carried interest — would make our economy more efficient and less unequal.
Conservatives seem to think if they try the same failed policies over and over again with different faces those regressive policies will magically work eventually.

How Fox News Created a New Culture of Idiots. Just a caution that this article makes some good points about how Fox has dumped down the news, but there is some strong language.

Last-Minute Ohio Directive Could Trash Legal Votes And Swing The Election

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republicans Try To Censor Report That Shows No Connection Between Low Taxes For Millionaires and Economic Growth

Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republicans Try To Censor Report That Shows No Connection Between Low Taxes For Millionaires and Economic Growth

The New York Times reports that on September 28 the Library of Congress's nonpartisan Congressional Research Service withdrew, under pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky., and other Senate Republicans, a widely-circulated study concluding that since 1945 tax cuts have had no measurable impact on economic growth. I have cited the study repeatedly since its September 14 release, and so have many other journalists and academics within what Karl Rove once scornfully called the “reality-based community.” The withdrawal won’t have any impact on the report’s availability, except perhaps that more people will read it now. That's because CRS reports are never released to the public anyway. (Its Web site is useless unless you're looking for a job there.) They’re released to members of Congress. Then the interesting ones trickle out onto nongovernmental Web sites or those of individual senators or representatives. McConnell can tell the New York Times all he wants to take down its copy of the report, but he probably won't bother, because it’s public information and it has no conceivable relevance to national security.

The withdrawal is, nonetheless, outrageous. McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told the Times that the CRS report wasn’t just criticized by Republican senators; it was also criticized by what the Times (in a paraphrase) calls “people outside of Congress.” I wish the Times had taken the opportunity to say who these “people outside of Congress” are. You can probably guess. There’s the conservative Heritage Foundation. And there’s the Tax Foundation, a conservative nonprofit (not to be confused with the Tax Policy Center, which is non-ideological and nonpartisan but has nonetheless been vilified by the right for pointing out that Mitt Romney’s proposed tax cut benefited the rich at the expense of the middle class). The author of the CRS study, Thomas Hungerford, has written many excellent studies on themes directly or indirectly related to income distribution, and that’s made him a conservative target for some time. This past April, Kevin Hassett of the conservative American Enterprise Institute (a prominent income-inequality denialist and Romney adviser doomed never to live down his co-authorship, shortly before the dot-com bust, of a book titled Dow 36,000) testified before Congress’s  Joint Economic Committee that a different Hungerford report was “radically at odds with the literature. I relish academic debate, and think that authors serve a valuable service when they challenge research. But a CRS report that is supposed to inform about the consensus of the literature that veers so far from that activity is a disservice to Congress, and the taxpayers.” When Hassett cites “the literature” he means “the literature acceptable to AEI hacks and their Republican allies in Congress,” or what Jacob Weisberg has felicitously labelled “the Conintern.”

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What’s the matter with the CRS report? Well, it calls the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts,” which is somehow deemed partisan but in fact is merely explanatory. The Bush tax cuts were tax cuts passed when George W. Bush was president. Bush proposed them, pushed them through Congress, and signed them into law. Even Republicans call the Bush tax cuts “the Bush tax cuts.” The CRS report also stands accused of making reference to “tax cuts for the rich.” This is unacceptably hurtful, I suppose, to a group that any sensitive person would know to call the “special-incomed.” As it happens, though, my PDF search of the CRS report reveals that nowhere does the phrase “tax cuts for the rich” appear. The word “rich” does appear here and there, but always in a neutral context, such as, “Under both definitions of the top of the income distribution (i.e., the rich) the income shares were relatively stable until the late 1970s and then started to rise.”

I'm not sure why Mitch and his gang of lying sleazebags thinks this report is so special. The reports have been showing for years that the wealthy just squirrel away their wealth when the taxes on their unearned income are low -  15 Things Conservative Republicans Do Not Want You to Know About Taxes and the Debt. The nation's infrastructure gets beaten down, we spend less on science research, and on education and the environment. The general quality of life goes down because the wealthy are allowed to be piggish with the total GDP produced by the nation.This is a link to the report to download - for as long as the link is good anyway.

Romney’s Tax Secrecy: Did He Get Away With It?

Bill Clinton Cites Economist Republican Kenneth Rogoff To Argue Obama Needs Four More Years