Friday, August 17, 2012

Prostitute City? (Tampa!), Reagan's Finance Guru Exposes Rmoney's, Finland Leaves Euro, and Ryan-Shel Adelson Ties Questioned

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BREAKING NEWS:   Finland Preparing End Of Euro, Deeply Suspicious of EU’s ‘Gang of Four’

Google Searches for "Paul Ryan Shirtless" Soar

Rmoney Scolds "Small-Minded" People Asking For His Tax Returns

Whiter Men Wanted?

While not advocating the break-up of the Euro-zone, Finland’s foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja told the Daily Telegraph this evening that “it is only a matter of time”. In a somewhat stunning show of truthiness, perhaps the first cracks in Europe’s Nash Equilibrium are starting to show through following Monti’s ‘threats’, Draghi’s ‘promises’, and Merkel’s ‘well, nothings’. The Finn continues, via Reuters, “Either the south or the north will break away because this currency strait-jacket is causing misery for millions and destroying Europe’s future.”
Finland, which has a veto that could be used to block any new bailout measures, has already stirred the pot unilaterally by demanding collateral from Greece and Spain, is quite clear in its view that Europe “is a total catastrophe” but adds that no-one wants to be first to get out of the Euro and take all the blame.
Insisting that the break-up of the Euro does not mean the end of the European Union, Tuomioja believes “it could make the EU function better,” but comments that he is deeply suspicious of the ‘gang of four’ – which includes Draghi – with regard his promises (especially ESM seniority) adding that he “does not trust these people.”
Source:   Zero Hedge

Watching Graham Greene's The Comedians (Liz, Dick, Alec, Peter, James Earl - you remember) and thinking about corruption and how it never veers, just the characters.

And from the campaign trail . . .

Paul Ryan Ready For Real People? Probably Not... But Tampa Should Be Fine

August 15, 2012

After having banned most Republican stars from the Tampa convention stage - from Palin, Bachmann, New(t) and Santorum to Ron Paul, who's retiring and practically begged Romney twice for a chance to say good-bye - the Romney campaign announced yesterday that Chris Christie will give the keynote and that Marco Rubio will introduce Mitt. A Koch brother is a delegate and will mingle with his subjects. This is shaping up to be a real snoozefest - although Tampa health officials are bracing for a possible outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases.
From our Down With Tyranny blogfriend we learn that some Democratic candidates are looking very good.
It's ironic that on the 77th anniversary of FDR signing the Social Security bill, 4 furiously anti-Social Security Republicans would cut themselves to ribbons, further helping the one staunch defender of Social Security in particular and working families in general, Tammy Baldwin. One of the most trusted political leaders in Wisconsin, state Senator Chris Larson, who helped organize the Wisconsin state Senate walkout, . . . told us that "Tammy Baldwin is the kind of progressive leader America needs more of. The Koch brothers and their allies are already trying to tear her down. Tammy is not afraid of the fight and she never has (been). She knows there are strong progressives ready to stand with her to ensure our democracy is for the people and never for sale." And that's why Blue America is getting behind Tammy's CheddarBomb today, something that Russ Feingold thought up originally but that progressives from around the country are helping out with now.
Tammy worked closely with Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) on behalf of ordinary working families. As head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, of which Tammy is a member, Raúl observed her commitment to progressive goals and principles - including when times were tough.
"You already know Tammy Baldwin shares the values that make our movement so great and so important," he told me this morning. "What you don't know is that she's as decent and straightforward as anyone you can find in Tucson. Her friendship, advice and hard work have been a great personal and professional example of how a member of Congress represents both her constituents and her own conscience.
I'm very proud of my friendship with Tammy. I'll miss her in the House of Representatives next year. But the Senate needs her more, and I couldn't be happier to support her on her way to a big win for all of us in November."
And, as usual, we hear from David Stockman, reformed financier (liar) for the Reagan Revolution. Yes, one of the original rayguns, but . . . wait . . . he's reformed (a lot like Dr. Paul Craig Roberts)! And comes to the rescue with his revealed truth (again). Which ought to give us renewed faith in Republicans (of some type, anyway), except . . .

Paul Ryan’s Bizarro America

Aug 14, 2012
You know the nation has gone off the rails when you want people to listen to the sensible voice of . . . David Stockman?
The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e., the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base.
Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends.
The crony capitalists of K Street already own more than enough Republican votes to stop that train before it leaves the station.
In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.
Of course, the op ed also contains old-school Reaganomic nonsense, like prattling about the “welfare state.” As PM Carpenter says:
Stockman is gun-shy, and it’s hard to fault him. He experienced firsthand his party’s embryonic descent into fiscal madness and he emerged from that mortifying encounter incubating irrational fears of all deficits and essentially all modern economic management.
He is the ideological equivalent of the old Trotskyites turned communist witch-hunters.
(Note to any wingnuts or baggers, tea or fire, who come by here — carpenter is not calling anyone a communist. It’s an analogy.) Michael Waldholz writes in Forbes,
Having covered U.S. economic policy as a reporter and editor for over three decades, where I had to rely on facts, documentation and experience based evidence – not wishful thinking — it is clear to me that the Ryan approach is hogwash. Hogwash topped with rhetorical whipped cream, but hogwash just the same.
And any prolonged conversation about solving Medicare that includes the Ryan plan is a distraction designed to burnish Romney/Ryan as staunch conservative capitalists. It is not a legitimate way forward.
I don’t agree with all of Waldholz’s ideas expressed in his column, either, but at least he sees that there is no substance to Ryan’s plan. But how do we get across to the people that Ryan is a fraud? And that Ryan’s “plan” is not even a bad idea, but merely a facade of an idea, with no serious thought behind it? Krugman writes:
So, let me clarify what I believe is really going on in the choice of Paul Ryan as VP nominee. It is not about satisfying the conservative base, which was motivated anyway by Obama-hatred; it is not about refocusing on the issues, because R&R are both determined to avoid providing any of the crucial specifics about their plans.
It is — as Jonathan Chait also seems to understand — about exploiting the gullibility and vanity of the news media, in much the same way that George W. Bush did in 2000.
Like Bush in 2000, Ryan has a completely undeserved reputation in the media as a bluff, honest guy, in Ryan’s case supplemented by a reputation as a serious policy wonk.
None of this has any basis in reality; Ryan’s much-touted plan, far from being a real solution, relies crucially on stuff that is just pulled out of thin air — huge revenue increases from closing unspecified loopholes, huge spending cuts achieved in ways not mentioned. See Matt Miller for more.
So whence comes the Ryan reputation? As I said in my last post, it’s because many commentators want to tell a story about US politics that makes them feel and look good — a story in which both parties are equally at fault in our national stalemate, and in which said commentators stand above the fray.
This story requires that there be good, honest, technically savvy conservative politicians, so that you can point to these politicians and say how much you admire them, even if you disagree with some of their ideas; after all, unless you lavish praise on some conservatives, you don’t come across as nobly even-handed.
So mainstream media is, for the most part, describing Ryan as an “intellectual” and a “wonk” who can crunch numbers to within an inch of their life, when in fact his famous budget could have been crafted by Mrs. Holbrook’s sixth grade remedial math class at PS 102.
Oh, and the business about Ryan being a regular middle-class guy from a small town in Wisconsin is a crock, too. See Charles Pierce, “The Ryan Family’s History of Fakery” and “The Paul Ryan Origin Story Is a Heaping Pile.”
Let us now go to two opposing views, one from Paul Nocera and the other from Digby. Nocera says that the stark difference between the policy proposals of Romney-Ryan and Obama-Biden “creates the potential for the country to have the debate, in a national election, that it needs to have about the size and role of the federal government.” Then he says:
Ryan’s budget plan would reduce the size of government from the current 24 percent of gross domestic product to around 20 percent of G.D.P. The ax would fall most heavily on programs for the poor.
As the opinion writer Matt Miller put it recently in The Washington Post, “Over time, Ryan’s ‘vision’ would decimate most federal activities beyond Social Security, Medicare and defense.”
Simply dismissing these ideas as crazy is a mistake. There are many people in the country who agree with Ryan — as they showed two years ago, when they elected 87 Republican freshmen, many of them Tea Party-backed political novices, to the House of Representatives, who went to Washington vowing to shrink the federal government.
Digby disagrees, saying:
This is cowardly writing, and Nocera knows it. What he actualy seems to be saying is, “Ryan’s ideas are screaming yellow bonkers, but a lot of people voted for them.”
In other words, Nocera’s saying that it’s not crazy to dismiss these crazy ideas – they are, after all, you know, nuts, as David Stockman trenchantly describes on the same page – but we should be aware that lots of people have voted for them and therefore we should pay attention to the ideas and discuss them.
I’m firmly in between these positions. I agree with Digby it’s a huge mistake to discuss Paul Ryan’s budget as if it were a serious policy proposal, because it isn’t. But if you read Nocera’s entire column, and put the quote above in context, I don’t think that is what he is proposing.
How I read it is that for year after year movement conservatives have won elections by running against the allegedly wasteful and bloated and too big federal government, and the too many pigs allegedly feeding at the entitlement trough. Then they get elected to Congress, where they spend like drunken sailors in ways that benefit their corporate sponsors.
But Ryan, he says, is a true believer who really would shrink government and drown it in the bathtub. And the debate we need to have with the American people is, Is this really want you want? Do you really want to live with the result, if this were actually done?
Have it out, once and for all. People, do you really want to break up the Medicare and Social Security programs, take food out of the mouths of poor babies, let our infrastructure rot and forest fires rage and meat go uninspected so that billionaires can get a bigger tax cut?
Is that really want you want? Because, whether you realize it or not, that’s what you keep voting for. And then you wonder why government is so bleeped up.
So, I don’t think we should merely dismiss Ryan’s plan as crazy. We need to clearly explain why it is crazy.
  1. c u n d gulag  •  Aug 14, 2012 @12:31 pm

    Mrs. Holbrook’s sixth grade remedial math class at PS 102 OBJECTS, your Honor!

    Just because they’re in remedial math class doesn’t mean they’re stupid, like Congressman Ryan.

    You can fix a kid needing help with math.

    But you can’t fix stupid. Or, lying for that matter, either.

    What I’m hoping for, is that Obama and the Democrats see this, once and for all, as THE ground upon which to have the economic battle, instead of creeping ever further into enemy territory, and talking about “Grand Bargains.”

    The only “Grand Bargain” the Conservatives want, is one in which only one side can haggle – the one with the money.

    Democrats selling-out Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid in any way, won’t be looked upon as some “Only Nixon could go to China” moment. It will be looked upon as ‘Only feckless, reckless, and worthless assholes could do something stupid like that.’

    That, and why bother having Democrats at all if you’re not willing to stand-up for the very programs that your party created, and the other party has wanted to destroy before the ink was even dry after the signing?

    You don’t see too many Conservatives wanting to sell-out tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, do you?

    Think there might be a reason for that?

    Why would you even think of selling-out the 99% to the top 1%, Democrats?
    Especially the bottom half of that 99%?

    I hope that the next 2+ months wipes away any thoughts of making some “Grand Bargain.”

    Otherwise, why bother even having this election?

    Either way, the top 1% will win.

    And maybe that’s where all of this was headed, one way or the other, ever since the middle class got too comfortable, and too powerful, after WWII, and the Conservative backlash began in the late 60′s.

    Sure seems that way sometimes…

    Lynne  •  Aug 14, 2012 @4:24 pm

    1. Mr. Gulag, I disagree about Ryan being stupid. I don’t think he is. He merely cannot relate to other human beings, more or less like Romney. There is no human connection there; it’s all about proving his personal theory of politics and the economy, a la Ayn Rand. I have to add that I have run into men like this more often than I like to say – all hung up about proving their particular obsessions, even when they don’t make sense.

    2. c u n d gulag  •  Aug 14, 2012 @5:31 pm
      Point taken.
      You are right.
      HE’S not stupid – his ideas are.
      And THAT makes him doubly as dangerous!
 Funny how all those "brilliant" (at least media-designated as brilliant, anyway) Rethug candidates are on the take from slave-enriched Sheldon Adelson, isn't it? And what a sweetheart he is!

Ryan Visitin' Uncle Sheldon Today

Today Paul Ryan is kissing the ring of Organized Crime figure Sheldon Adelson at his casino in Las Vegas, the Venetian. Although no one expects Adelson to lure Ryan into the same kind of honey trap he caught House Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon in, Ryan should be steering clear of this kind of character.
Adelson makes most of his billions not from his Las Vegas gambling empire, but from his shady dealings in Red China. Ryan has enough ethical problems of his own without being seen with a pimp and whore-monger like Adelson. But, at this point Republicans must figure it's just not avoidable.
Adelson is the Daddy Warbucks of the GOP. He's doled out more dark, dirty cash to Mitt Romney and to the Republican Party - not to mention an unprecedented $5 million each to Boehner and Cantor - than anyone else... in history.
He owns them - with his pro-outsourcing/anti-labor/pro-wars-in-the-Middle East policy agenda. Because the slobbish avatar of greed and divisiveness is also very litigious, media outlets are extremely careful of writing about his career as a criminal chieftain.
Yesterday's NY Times, however, ran a tip-toe-around his pimp business in a new report by Michael Luo and Edward Wong. It starts with an explanation of one of Adelson's many "fixers" in Beijing. (Keep in mind, Adelson owns hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling debts at his casino from Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who gets top security briefings the Chinese government and the People’s Liberation Army are very interested in.)
When Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, needed something done in China, he often turned to his company’s “chief Beijing representative,” a mysterious businessman named Yang Saixin. Mr. Yang arranged meetings for Mr. Adelson with senior Chinese officials, acted as a frontman on several ambitious projects for Mr. Adelson’s company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and intervened on the Sands’s behalf with Chinese regulators.
Mr. Yang even had his daughter take Mr. Adelson’s wife, Miriam, shopping when she was in Beijing. “Adelson and I had a good relationship,” Mr. Yang said in a recent interview in Hong Kong. “He should thank me.”
Mr. Yang joined the Sands in 2007 as the company worked to protect its interests in Macau, where its gambling revenues were mushrooming, and pressed ahead with plans for a resort in mainland China.
Boasting of ties to the People’s Liberation Army and China’s state security apparatus, Mr. Yang was hired for his guanxi, that mixture of relationships and favors that is critical to opening doors in China, according to former executives.
But today, Mr. Yang, along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau, according to people with knowledge of the inquiries.
The investigations are unfolding as Mr. Adelson has become an increasing presence in this year’s presidential election, contributing at least $35 million to Republican groups. On Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, is to appear at a fund-raiser at the Sands’s Venetian casino in Las Vegas; Mr. Adelson is likely to attend, according to a person close to him.
In the political arena, Mr. Adelson is perhaps best known as a hawkish defender of Israel. But whatever the outcome of the inquiries involving his businesses in China, an examination of those activities suggests a keen interest in Washington’s China policy and highlights the degree to which politics and profits are often intertwined for Mr. Adelson.
The Sands has faced a conundrum in China as a casino company whose fortunes are heavily dependent on its operations in a country where gambling is illegal, except in Macau.
The company relies on the good will of Chinese officials, who mete out approvals and have the power to curtail the flow of mainland visitors. As a result, Mr. Adelson has sought to use financial clout and connections to exert political influence at the highest levels of government.
On the front lines of those efforts was Mr. Yang, who was paid a $30,000-a-month retainer by the company before he was fired in 2009, he said.
At times, he acted as Mr. Adelson’s personal guide to the Chinese establishment. Among the dignitaries he took Mr. Adelson to see was Wan Jifei, a leading international trade official whose father had been vice premier.
That led to a lunch with other trade officials at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.
The Sands later hired Mr. Wan’s daughter, Bao Bao, a socialite and jewelry designer, to do public relations. And the trade agency Mr. Wan ran became a partner in the Sands’s biggest venture, the Adelson Center for U.S.-China Enterprise.Bribery, state secrets, millions of dollars unaccounted for... this is what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan (not to mention Cantor and Boehner) have enmeshed themselves in my embracing the Mafioso slob from Vegas.
"What became of any missing money and whether any of it wound up in the hands of Chinese officials," explains the Times, "are among the questions being examined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission." 
And these are on top of the investigations going on about Adelson's involvement in the prostitution business - an open secret in Macau - and about huge bribes to Chinese officials and Adelson's involvement with Chinese organized crime. No one was ever charged with any crimes when Adelson bribed Tom DeLay on behalf of China while DeLay was still running the House of Representatives and could do China's bidding in return for Adelson's cash.
Chinese leaders at the time were worried about a pending House resolution condemning the country’s bid for the 2008 Olympic Games because of its human rights record. According to Mr. Weidner’s deposition in the Suen case, Mr. Adelson promised Beijing’s mayor he would do what he could.
Mr. Adelson called his friend Tom DeLay, then the House majority whip, catching him at a Fourth of July barbecue. Mr. DeLay said he would check on the resolution’s status. Several hours later, Mr. DeLay called and told Mr. Adelson he was in luck. The resolution was stuck behind a series of other bills. “So you tell your mayor, it can be assured that this bill will never see the light of day,” Mr. DeLay said, according to Mr. Weidner.
The next morning, the Sands executives met with Qian Qichen, a Chinese vice premier, at the Purple Light Pavilion, where the government’s leaders greet foreign dignitaries. Mr. Qian suggested he would ensure a limitless supply of gamblers to Macau. In May 2004, the Sands Macau became the first foreign-owned casino in the enclave. On opening day, a mob estimated at 20,000 pushed over crowd-control barriers, ripping doors off their hinges.
In its first year, the casino’s profits exceeded its entire $265 million cost. ... The Sands pursued a strategy of engaging with Beijing. It stepped up participation in China-related programs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and hired Myron Brilliant, its senior vice president for international affairs, as a consultant. He suggested establishing a trade center, to help American businesses pursue opportunities in China. Not only could the center funnel convention traffic to Macau, it could foster better relations with Chinese officials.
It goes on and on and on. And Adelson will pay any amount to stay out of prison. And he's counting on a Romney Administration and a Republican Congress to make sure of that.


TONY said...

"Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan" is an anagram of "My Ultimate Ayn Rand Porn" it seems.

Suzan said...

Thanks for the comment, Tony.

Who knew that Ms. Rand would provide the final act for the white-man boogaloo?

Love ya,