Saturday, March 30, 2013

Really Cheating Our Children (The Owners (Right Wingers) Switch Confusing Arguments Again To Continue The International Financial Theft Game)



Cheating Our Children

By Paul Krugman

March 28, 2013 Comments

So, about that fiscal crisis — the one that would, any day now, turn us into Greece. Greece, I tell you: Never mind.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a remarkable change of position among the deficit scolds who have dominated economic policy debate for more than three years. It’s as if someone sent out a memo saying that the Chicken Little act, with its repeated warnings of a U.S. debt crisis that keeps not happening, has outlived its usefulness. Suddenly, the argument has changed: It’s not about the crisis next month; it’s about the long run, about not cheating our children. The deficit, we’re told, is really a moral issue.

There’s just one problem: The new argument is as bad as the old one. Yes, we are cheating our children, but the deficit has nothing to do with it.

Before I get there, a few words about the sudden switch in arguments.

There has, of course, been no explicit announcement of a change in position. But the signs are everywhere. Pundits who spent years trying to foster a sense of panic over the deficit have begun writing pieces lamenting the likelihood that there won’t be a crisis, after all.

Maybe it wasn’t that significant when President Obama declared that we don’t face any “immediate” debt crisis, but it did represent a change in tone from his previous deficit-hawk rhetoric. And it was startling, indeed, when John Boehner, the speaker of the House, said exactly the same thing a few days later.


What happened? Basically, the numbers refuse to cooperate: Interest rates remain stubbornly low, deficits are declining and even 10-year budget projections basically show a stable fiscal outlook rather than exploding debt.

So talk of a fiscal crisis has subsided. Yet the deficit scolds haven’t given up on their determination to bully the nation into slashing Social Security and Medicare. So they have a new line: We must bring down the deficit right away because it’s “generational warfare,” imposing a crippling burden on the next generation.

What’s wrong with this argument? For one thing, it involves a fundamental misunderstanding of what debt does to the economy.

Contrary to almost everything you read in the papers or see on TV, debt doesn’t directly make our nation poorer; it’s essentially money we owe to ourselves. Deficits would indirectly be making us poorer if they were either leading to big trade deficits, increasing our overseas borrowing, or crowding out investment, reducing future productive capacity. But they aren’t: Trade deficits are down, not up, while business investment has actually recovered fairly strongly from the slump. And the main reason businesses aren’t investing more is inadequate demand. They’re sitting on lots of cash, despite soaring profits, because there’s no reason to expand capacity when you aren’t selling enough to use the capacity you have. In fact, you can think of deficits mainly as a way to put some of that idle cash to use.

Yet there is, as I said, a lot of truth to the charge that we’re cheating our children. How? By neglecting public investment and failing to provide jobs.

You don’t have to be a civil engineer to realize that America needs more and better infrastructure, but the latest “report card” from the American Society of Civil Engineers — with its tally of deficient dams, bridges, and more, and its overall grade of D+ — still makes startling and depressing reading. And right now — with vast numbers of unemployed construction workers and vast amounts of cash sitting idle — would be a great time to rebuild our infrastructure. Yet public investment has actually plunged since the slump began.

Or what about investing in our young? We’re cutting back there, too, having laid off hundreds of thousands of schoolteachers and slashed the aid that used to make college affordable for children of less-affluent families.

Last but not least, think of the waste of human potential caused by high unemployment among younger Americans — for example, among recent college graduates who can’t start their careers and will probably never make up the lost ground.

And why are we shortchanging the future so dramatically and inexcusably? Blame the deficit scolds, who weep crocodile tears over the supposed burden of debt on the next generation, but whose constant inveighing against the risks of government borrowing, by undercutting political support for public investment and job creation, has done far more to cheat our children than deficits ever did.

Fiscal policy is, indeed, a moral issue, and we should be ashamed of what we’re doing to the next generation’s economic prospects. But our sin involves investing too little, not borrowing too much — and the deficit scolds, for all their claims to have our children’s interests at heart, are actually the bad guys in this story.

Friday, March 29, 2013

At the Very Top, Democrats Play the Same Big-money Game as the Right-wingers



Having been born in South Carolina and having witnessed from afar its gradual engulfment by the new Radical Republican (not conservative) red sea in the years following the onslaught of Reagan the Terrible's vandals (who were devastating everything in their path), it's always been interesting to me to note how the political game was/is being played there still (but under different names). And how truly poor most of South Carolina is now due to their misappropriation and dismantling of what had been the beginnings of progressivism taking place under the tutelage of Senator Fritz Hollings.

After all, when I grew up, there were no Republicans in SC except Uncle Strom and everybody knew he was a Dixiecrat (user of racial politics to ensure his political position) in his heart, whatever heart there was.

At the Very Top, Democrats Play the Same Big-money Game as the Right-wingers




Here’s a case study about how the South Carolina Democratic hierarchy heartily warrants that there will be no meaningful opposition from the state’s left for the multi-billion dollar crowd of multinational’s legislative wish lists and subsidies.

It’s a sneaky process, at least in the state of South Carolina. The Palmetto state is the reddest of red. Congressional Representative James Clyburn is the only Democrat of consequence. Clyburn is a wily old fox who plays high-end politics with the best of them. He got his daughter, Mignon, appointed to the FCC and 4 staff members have joined the Podesta Group which is the lobbying gold standard on behalf of the incredibly rich and enormously powerful.

Democrat John Podesta created the Podesta Group along with brother Tony back in 1988. John had been a major Washington player for years when he latched on to the Clinton campaign, rising to the post of Chief of Staff. He also co-chaired Barack Obama’s first term transition team. Podesta Group’s client list is a who’s who of American and global corporations. Podesta represents the likes of NPR while John presides over his progressive Center for American Progress just to even things out.

Against this backdrop, let me introduce you to the South Carolina State Democratic Convention’s upcoming May 4th ‘already decided’ election of a new State Chairman of the party. Clyburn and Podesta play key roles in assuaging any fears the power boys (and girls) may have about that election. The current Chairman, a legendary lawyer and Republican-basher, Dick Harpootlian, was Clyburn’s mentor and managed to get a Democratic Governor elected some years ago.

This all happened during the first of two separate terms he served as head of the state party. His last term produced nothing of substance other than name-calling and keeping his pricey law firm in the news. Having served on my County Democratic Executive Committee, I emailed the state party one day last year and asked for an audience with Harpootlian. I wanted to discuss the chairman’s possible role in a radio talk show that I might be hosting. I received no response so I called.

Amanda Loveday, a 27-year-old J-school grad from a Republican family and Executive Director of the state party informed me that Harpootlian simply didn’t have time to meet. I offered to drive the three-hour round trip from my rural upstate environs to the Columbia party headquarters. I pledged not take up more than 10 minutes of the chairman’s time. Loveday’s indifferent response; “If he’s in your part of the state, maybe he’ll have a few minutes.”

Had I been a Boeing big shot with the same request, Harpootlian and Loveday would have crawled on their bellies over barbwire to Boeing’s North Charleston facility (recipient of a billion dollars in state and local subsidies). And the meeting would have been 10 hours instead of 10 minutes had Boeing so desired.

Speaking of Boeing, that brings me to their prime lobbyist, Jaime Harrison, the next Chairman of the South Carolina State Democratic Party. At first blush, he’s a progressive’s dream. Harrison earned his Bachelors at Yale and his J.D. at the Georgetown University Law Center. He’s a pleasant looking, slick bald, 37-year-old African American who is “the former director of floor operations and counsel for former House Majority Whip, Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC).

Previously, Jaime served as executive director of the House Democratic Caucus. Jaime was named six times as one of Roll Call’s “Fabulous Fifty Movers and Shakers Behind the Scenes on Capitol Hill” and listed as one of The Hill’s “35 Stellar Staffers Under 35.” In 2010, The Root web magazine included Jaime on its list of 100 “emerging and established African-American leaders who are making extraordinary contributions.” He was also dubbed one of the “Top 40 lawyers under 40″ by the National Bar Association and Impact DC.”

All CV materials within quotes in the prior 2 paragraphs were taken from the Podesta Group site where young Harrison is a Principal, working with both Washington clients and those Global corporations with a presence in South Carolina. These would include such American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) stalwarts (past and present) as the American Chemistry Council, Blue Cross/Blue Shield (no South Carolina legislative health care decisions are made without counsel from Blue Cross), Bristol Myers-Squibb, Johnson and Johnson (once on the ALEC Corporate Board), Merck, GE, GM, Duke Energy, Walmart, the Nuclear Energy Institute and Wells Fargo bank. Several of the above named corporations dropped or suspended their ALEC memberships in 2012. Do they still communicate?

So let’s look at that list and some non-ALEC additions and see what Harrison would not touch lest he lose his lucrative Podesta “Principalship.” Boeing,of course. Then add at least 20 health care clients including Blue Cross/Blue Shield, all of them hate Obamacare, Medicaid and Medicare and any pharma or medical device regulations; OpenSecrets.org estimates that Covidien (a Dublin-based medical device company with a South Carolina presence has given the Podesta Group roughly $200 million in lobbying funds since ’98).

Did I mention, Podesta’s CEO, Kimberly Fritts was once Southern Political Director for the Republican National Committee?

Harrison also works closely with the right-wing U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its foundation, “Institute for a Competitive (read cheap) Workplace.” On the institute’s advisory board is John McKernan Jr. He’s Executive Chairman of Education Management Corporation, one of the largest private school providers in the nation. Chairman Harrison opposing state public school privatization? Doubtful.

No Environmental concerns will be addressed. Wouldn’t want to make Duke Energy or the American Chemistry Council unhappy. Aaron Mehta, writing for PublicIntegrity.org tracked the Podesta connection with the American Coalition for Clean Coal & Electricity a laughingly misnamed industry group that pressures legislators through Podesta lobbyists to forestall any responsible climate or anti-pollution bills.

Don’t expect any banking or financial regs either. The Investment Company Institute and Wells Fargo would look askance at such bills, not to mention client Credit Suisse, once fined $536 million for secretly doing business with some countries that hate our guts. ING insurance is another big Podesta client. Their banking division was hit with a $619 million penalty last year for money laundering.

Wage and union breaks with Walmart and Boeing (just announced planned layoffs of 800 mostly union workers in Everett, Washington facility) in the fold? ROTFLMAO!

There are at least a dozen other examples of hands-off issues that would impact the Podesta roster.
So what does this “perfect” party Chairman bring to the table? He just sent out a fancy, multicolor 5 ½ X 11″ mailer with “Jaime’s” plan for the SC Democratic Party. Stuff like “engaging” SC voters; “increasing accountability” and demonstrating “democratic principles.” Then there were 3 magic words; Build, Grow, Win. WT*? Anything for the poor and middle-class? Pro public education, environmental reform, pro-Obamacare? Nope!

For Corporate and huge money special interests, their ownership of state politics with no fear of Democratic Party interference is locked in and “Jaime” will probably be in DC most of the time anyway. Harrison has no competition. After he announced, two would-be competitors bowed out suddenly after spending all of 2012 appearing to be eager to run.

At the very top, Democrats play the same big-money game as the right-wingers.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Incomes of Bottom 90 Percent Grew $59 in 40 Years; Top 10% grew $116,071 (Why Are Billionaires Dumping US Stock?) FRAUD ALERT!



Just in case actual figures mean anything to anybody anymore (lolling in the lap of luxury as I know all you non-10%-ers are . . .).

Incomes of Bottom 90 Percent Grew $59 in 40 Years


During the same period, average income for the top 10 percent of Americans rose by $116,071

By Natasha Lennard

March 27, 2013


"Salon - Pulitzer Prize-winner David Cay Johnston has highlighted yet more statistics that illuminate the spike in income inequality in the U.S. in recent decades. Flagging Johnston’s analysis, HuffPo noted Monday, “Incomes for the bottom 90 percent of Americans only grew by $59 on average between 1966 and 2011 (when you adjust those incomes for inflation)… During the same period, the average income for the top 10 percent of Americans rose by $116,071.”

Johnston offered a visual analogy for the disparity in a column for Tax Analysts last month:

The vast majority averaged a mere $59 more in 2011 than in 1966. For the top 10 percent, by the same measures, average income rose by $116,071 to $254,864, an increase of 84 percent over 1966.

Plot those numbers on a chart, with one inch for $59, and the top 10 percent’s line would extend more than 163 feet.

Now compare the vast majority’s $59 with the top 1 percent, and that line extends for 884 feet. The top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, whose 2011 average income of $23.7 million was $18.4 million more per taxpayer than in 1966, would require a line nearly five miles long.

(Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.)

Billionaires Dump US Stocks as Economist Warns of 90% Market Correction


Despite the 6.5% stock market rally over the last three months, a handful of billionaires are quietly dumping their American stocks . . . and fast.

Warren Buffett, who has been a cheerleader for U.S. stocks for quite some time, is dumping shares at an alarming rate. He recently complained of "disappointing performance" in dyed-in-the-wool American companies like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Kraft Foods. In the latest filing for Buffett's holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been drastically reducing his exposure to stocks that depend on consumer purchasing habits.

Berkshire sold roughly 19 million shares of Johnson & Johnson, and reduced his overall stake in "consumer product stocks" by 21%. Berkshire Hathaway also sold its entire stake in California-based computer parts supplier Intel.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

US At War With Syria? Truth About Cyprus and Why No One Speaks Out About America’s Oligarchs



(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)



Syrian rebels attend a training session conducted by US intelligence officers in Maaret Ikhwan, near Idlib, Syria. (photo: Muhammed Muheisen/AP)

William Boardman, Reader Supported News

"There were no official war bulletins about Syria from the White House last week, but the news is just as official as if there were: the United States is now in war in Syria."

Why Does No One Speak of America’s Oligarchs?


One of the striking elements of the demonization of Cyprus was how it was depicted as a willing tool of Russian money launderers and oligarchs. Never mind the fact, as we pointed out, that Cyprus is not a tax haven but a low-tax jurisdiction, and in stark contrast with the Caymans and Malta, has double-taxation treaties signed with 46 nations and has (now more likely had) with six more being ratified. Nor is it much of a tax secrecy jurisdiction, according to the Financial Secrecy Index. Confusingly, in the overall ranking, lower numbers are worse (Switzerland as number 1 is the baaadest) but in the secrecy score used to derive the rankings, higher is worse, with 100 being utterly opaque. The total rank is a function of  “badness” (secrecy score) and weight (amount of business done).

You’ll notice that all the countries ranked as worse than Cyprus have secrecy scores more unfavorable than it, with the exception of Germany, which is a mere 1 point out of 100 less bad, and the UK, which scores considerably lower (Nicholas Shaxson, author of Treasure Islands, would take issue with that reading, but he takes a more inclusive view of the boundaries of a financial services industry. For the UK, thus he not only includes the “state within a state” of the City of London, but also the UK’s secrecy jurisdictions, such as the Isle of Man, in his dim view of the UK as well as the US on secrecy). And even so, its greater volume of hidden activity gives it a much worse overall ranking. Of countries 21 tp 30, only 3 rank as less bad on secrecy: Canada, India, and South Korea.



And as far as how many oligarchs have deposits there, even the New York Times, in a story framed around a lawyer who sets up shell companies for Russian investors, mentions in passing at the end

Any dirty money flowing through Cyprus, however, is dwarfed by funds generated by legitimate businesses looking for easy and legal ways to avoid taxes. There are so many Russian companies registered in Cyprus for tax reasons that the tiny country now ranks as Russia’s biggest source of direct foreign investment, most of it from Russian nationals through vehicles registered in Cyprus.
And the oligarchs with meaningful involvement in Cyprus? The New York Times did find one, but he seems to be the exception rather than the rule. From Cyprus Mail:

“You must be out of your mind!” snapped tycoon Igor Zyuzin, main owner of New York-listed coal-to-steel group Mechel , as he dismissed a suggestion this week that the financial meltdown in Cyprus posed a risk to his interests.

His response is typical across the oligarch class of major corporations and super-rich individuals, reflecting the assessment of officials and bankers on the Mediterranean island who say the bulk of the billions of euros of Russian money in Cyprus comes from smaller firms and middle-class savers…

Sources in the wealth management, advisory and banking industry in Nicosia say Russia depositors are typically smaller savers and entrepreneurs. Fiona Mullen, a British economist in Cyprus, said Russians she encounters tend to be buying 300,000-euro homes, not the palaces favoured by oligarchs in London.
Now notice how much space I’ve devoted to showing that major parts of the conventional narrative about Cyprus are not all that they are cracked up to be. But see another implicit part of the story: that Russia’s oligarchs and “dirty money” are a distinctive national creation. Do you ever hear Carlos Slim or Rupert Murdoch or the Koch Brothers described as oligarchs? To dial the clock back a bit, how about Harold Geneen of ITT, which was widely known to conduct assassinations in Latin America if it couldn’t get its way by less thuggish means? (This is not mere rumor, I’ve had it confirmed by a former ITT executive).

The one way in which the Russians top rich do occupy a distinctive place is in the role that violence often played in their ascent. But violence is also a common feature in what reader Scott called the Land of the Dash Cam. Nevertheless, one of my colleagues who opened the Moscow office for Dun & Bradstreet and got it profitable in a year and a half bragged that she was probably the only person who sued a Russian oil company, won the case, collected the judgment, and lived to tell the tale, She also had an ex KGB officer as driver who filled her in on the finer points of murder, Russian style (for instance, to really cover your tracks, you need three people: A kills the person you want dead, B kills A, and C kills B. Type A is pretty cheap to hire, but finding the person for the B role is the expensive item, since he has to be skilled enough to kill a low level killer. Of course, C is not cheap either).

Nevertheless, Simon Johnson clearly described in his important 2009 Atlantic article, The Quiet Coup, that American was in the hands of oligarchs:

Every crisis is different, of course….But I must tell you, to IMF officials, all of these crises looked depressingly similar . . . .Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders.

When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise . . . .


In its depth and suddenness, the U.S. economic and financial crisis is shockingly reminiscent of moments we have recently seen in emerging markets (and only in emerging markets): South Korea (1997), Malaysia (1998), Russia and Argentina (time and again) . . . . But there’s a deeper and more disturbing similarity: elite business interests—financiers, in the case of the U.S.—played a central role in creating the crisis, making ever-larger gambles, with the implicit backing of the government, until the inevitable collapse. More alarming, they are now using their influence to prevent precisely the sorts of reforms that are needed, and fast, to pull the economy out of its nosedive. The government seems helpless, or unwilling, to act against them.
Now Johnson carefully laid the bread crumbs, but so as not to violate the rules of power player discourse, pointedly switched from the banana republic term “oligarch” to the more genteel and encompassing label “elites” when talking about the US (“elites” goes beyond the controlling interests themselves to include their operatives as well as any independent opinion influencers). Yet despite his depiction of extensive parallels between the role played by oligarchs in emerging economies and the overwhelming influence of the financial elite in the US, there’s been a peculiar sanctimonious reluctance to apply the word oligarch to the members of America’s ruling class.

Some of that is that we Americans idolize our rich, and the richer the better. No one looks too hard at the fact many of our billionaires started out with a leg up, parlaying a moderate family fortune (for instance, in the case of Donald Trump) into a bigger one, or having one’s success depend on other forms of family help (Bill Gates’ mother having the connection to an IBM executive that enabled Gates to license MS-DOS to them).

But the fact that some people have advantages and are able to make the most of them, isn’t the reason to pin the “o” word on America’s top wealthy. It’s that, like Simon’s prototypical emerging market magnates, they increasingly dominate our society and are running it strictly for own self interest and devil take the rest of us. And the results on important metrics are worse than in Russia. The Gini coefficient is a widely-used measure of income inequality. The Gini coefficient is worse (higher) for the US than for Russia. Even though its rich have gotten richer and have pulled away from their lessers, the rest of the population has also done better:

In dollar terms, Russia’s GDP increased 7.5-fold over the last decade from around $200bn to $1.5 trillion; at the same time, nominal average wages increased 14-fold over the same period from $50 to around $700 a month.
And the latest statistics on the Gini coefficients (at least readily findable on the Web) are a few years stale. As we’ve written, the income gains in the US from 2009 to 2011 went entirely to the top 1%, which saw a 121% increase; the rest of the population suffered a small decline. That would increase the US Gini coefficient even further.

And on top of that, the cash hoarding habits of both poor and rich Russians, and the comparative difficulty that low and moderate Americans have in escaping the strong grip of the IRS may mean the Russian wealth inequality is lower than official figures indicate. The Telegraph again:

“The proportion of mattress-stuffed money among Russia’s poor is much higher than among America’s poor, as the US tax net is so much tighter,” says Liam Halligan, chief economist at Prosperity Capital Management. “That suggests US inequality is even worse relative to Russia than the numbers suggest.”
Now many readers may still recoil at the oligarch label being applied to America’s top wealthy, or Russians being much better at trickle-down economics that the plutocrats here who keep selling it despite overwhelming evidence that it isn’t operative here. But what about the celebrated John Paulson, who became a billionaire by not simply betting agains the housing market, but as we described in ECONNED, using CDOs that had the effect of pumping the bubble up bigger? Or the principals of Magnetar, whose CDO strategy played an even more direct role in extending the toxic phase of subprime lending beyond its sell by date? How about the Walton family, whose company is a welfare queen, with employees who depend on Medicare and emergency rooms for health care?

Some of the oligarch image is blunted here by the fact that the most visible members of the 1% and 0.1% are CEOs, who are increasingly chosen for their credibility with media. Their polished veneer and (in almost all cases) conventional credentials would seem to set them apart from the prototypical bad American plutocrat, the robber baron. After all, these are Peter Druckerized pinnacles of the managerial class, there by virtue of merit.

Anyone who has been inside Corporate America will tell you that merit is at most only one component in who gets ahead. As we pointed out in 2007:

Moreover, performance appraisal systems, which are the foundation for bonuses and other merit based pay, are hopelessly and intrinsically flawed. Carnegie Mellon professors Patrick D. Larkey and Jonathan P. Caulkins’ 1992 paper “All Above Average and Other Unintended Consequences of Performance Evaluation Systems,” discuss how, despite 100 years of effort, performance appraisal systems fail to achieve their intended results due to romanticized notions about how organizations work and difficulties in making comparative rankings of workers engaged in different tasks. For example, the article discussed the many ways a boss’s motivations and quirks could lead to misleading ratings.

Caulkins and Larkey’s analysis showed that the idea that organizations are or can be meritocracies is a myth. Yet people have a powerful need to believe that society and the institutions they belong to are fair. These factors explain not only why increasing income
Top executives have operated in a manner that is less obviously thuggish than the violent ways of some of Russia’s richest, but the hollowing out of labor and shortened job tenures have come with high costs across broad swathes of society. And the oligarchs that Johnson singled out, the elite that control the biggest financial firms, have become singularly, systematically predatory. We discussed long from in ECONNED the scale and nature of the looting that produced the global financial crisis.

And let us not forget that people are dying thanks to bank-related abuses, even though it’s not as direct or obvious as by assassinations. On the mortgage front alone, we’ve discussed for three years how many foreclosures are simply unwarranted, some created by servicers for their own profit, many of the others unjustified because it would have been better for everyone, the borrower, the mortgage investors, the broader community, for the borrower to get a modification, but the servicer put its own bottom line first and foreclosed.

There have been cases of suicides on the eve of foreclosures, and even a courtroom death that was attributed to the stress of fighting a dubious foreclosure. But in addition to these clear cases of death by bank, there are many more cases where the financial distress of a foreclosure leads to a later suicide, or the curtailment of spending on health measures that shorten lifespans. The major servicers have blood on their hands as much, likely much more, than the demonized Russian oligarchs, but everyone here is too polite to say so out loud.


Confucius said that the beginning of wisdom was learning to call things by their proper names. The time is long past to kid ourselves about the nature of the ruling class in America and start describing it accurately, as an oligarchy.
Read more here.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Morality Brigade Has None



(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)


As if this is news.

Bob Reich places it in context for us.

Conservative moralists don't want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don't give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.

Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that's essential to both our democracy and economy.

Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called "Citizen's United," the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were "people" under the First Amendment.

A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government. Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson - seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.

They didn't entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.

The Morality Brigade


By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

26 March 13


e're still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America.
In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court's 1973 decision in "Roe v. Wade," which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.

Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.

The morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they're born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

Despite the Supreme Court's willingness to consider the constitutionality of California's ban, no one should assume a majority of the justices will strike it down. The Court could just as easily decide the issue is up to the states, or strike down California's law while allowing other states to continue their bans.
 
Conservative moralists don't want women to have control over their bodies or same-sex couples to marry, but they don't give a hoot about billionaires taking over our democracy for personal gain or big bankers taking over our economy.
 
Yet these violations of public morality are far more dangerous to our society because they undermine the public trust that's essential to both our democracy and economy.
 
Three years ago, at the behest of a right-wing group called "Citizen's United," the Supreme Court opened the floodgates to big money in politics by deciding corporations were "people" under the First Amendment.
 
A record $12 billion was spent on election campaigns in 2012, affecting all levels of government. Much of it came from billionaires like the Koch brothers and casino-magnate Sheldon Adelson - seeking fewer regulations, lower taxes, and weaker trade unions.
 
They didn't entirely succeed but the billionaires established a beachhead for the midterm elections of 2014 and beyond.
 
Yet where is the morality brigade when it comes to these moves to take over our democracy?
 
Among the worst violators of public morality have been executives and traders on Wall Street.
 
Last week, JPMorgan Chase, the nation's biggest bank, was found to have misled its shareholders and the public about its $6 billion "London Whale" losses in 2012.
 
This is the same JPMorgan that's lead the charge against the Dodd-Frank Act, designed to protect the public from another Wall Street meltdown and taxpayer-funded bailout.

Lobbyists for the giant banks have been systematically taking the teeth out of Dodd-Frank, leaving nothing but the gums.
 
The so-called "Volcker Rule," intended to prevent the banks from making risky bets with federally-insured commercial deposits - itself a watered-down version of the old Glass-Steagall Act - still hasn't seen the light of day.
 
Last week, Republicans and Democrats on the House Agriculture Committee passed bills to weaken Dodd-Frank - expanding exemptions and allowing banks that do their derivative trading in other countries (i.e., JPMorgan) to avoid the new rules altogether.
 
Meanwhile, House Republicans voted to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act in its entirety, as part of their budget plan.
And still no major Wall Street executives have been held accountable for the wild betting that led to the near meltdown in 2008. Attorney General Eric Holder says the big banks are too big to prosecute.

Why doesn't the morality brigade complain about the rampant greed on the Street that's already brought the economy to its knees, wiping out the savings of millions of Americans and subjecting countless others to joblessness and insecurity - and seems set on doing it again?

What people do in their bedrooms shouldn't be the public's business. Women should have rights over their own bodies. Same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

But what powerful people do in their boardrooms is the public's business. Our democracy needs to be protected from the depredations of big money. Our economy needs to be guarded against the excesses of too-big-to-fail banks.


(Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest is an e-book, "Beyond Outrage." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.)

Scott Ritter Was Right (And Almost All the Knowledgeable Commentators Wrong)



(If throwing a contribution Pottersville2's way won't break your budget in these difficult financial times, I really need it, and would wholeheartedly appreciate it. Anything you can afford will make a huge difference in this blog's lifetime.)


Scott Ritter was one of my heroes during the rush to judgment on the necessity to attack Iraq.

He's still one of the smartest guys around on these issues and events, and The New York Times has almost apologized to him.

Almost.

Ritter’s opponents on Iraq still aren’t willing to grant that he knew something they didn’t. The way they see it, Ritter, whose position on W.M.D.’s swung significantly after he left the country in 1998, was like the stopped clock that finally managed to tell the correct time. “Oh, no, he wasn’t pres­cient, I can’t agree with that,” said Richard Butler, who was Ritter’s boss under the United Nations in Iraq. “When he was the ‘Alpha Dog’ inspector,” Butler said, referring to Ritter’s own description of his aggressive tactics, “then by God, there were more weapons there, and we had to go find them — a contention for which he had inadequate evidence. When he became a peacenik, then it was all complete B.S., start to finish, and there were no weapons of mass destruction. And that also was a contention for which he had inadequate evidence.”

History will record, though, that Ritter was right, while those who showed him nothing but contempt were flat wrong. While he wasn’t the only one saying that the war’s pretense was false or that its aftermath could be calamitous, Ritter was almost certainly the most determined dissenter and the one with the most on-the-ground intelligence. And if his views on Hussein’s regime careened from one extreme to the other, at least he demonstrated a capacity to evolve in his thinking — something few policy makers or commentators showed themselves able to do at the time. No doubt his very existence continues to discomfit those who insisted on Hussein’s lethality, and whose explanation for why they were wrong — that the intelligence was fabricated, essentially — has always been undercut by the fact that Ritter was never taken in.

I asked him if the war in Iraq, which in a matter of weeks would effectively end, had turned out as he thought it would, or if it could have been worse. He considered the question.

“It could have been worse,” he said finally. “We could have won. We could have felt empowered to move on to Syria and Iran, and then we would have been totally screwed.

“But if we’re just going to get into the realm of reality,” Ritter went on, “how much worse do you want it? We’re bankrupt, morally and fiscally, because of this war. The United States is the laughingstock of the world.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

People Start Revolt Against Disaster Capitalism Coups? No More Safe US Airports: We Are Soooo Screwed (FAA To Close 149 Air Traffic Towers Under Cuts)





Pro-Democracy Movement Rises Against 'Disaster Capitalism' in Detroit


As new 'emergency manager' Kevin Orr takes over in 'bloodless coup,' community plans revolt

- Jon Queally


 

James Rhodes, center, 57, of Detroit, and others cheer as a speaker condemns the city's 'emergency manager' Kevyn Orr scheduled to begin his tenure on Monday. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News) 

Community and pro-democracy activists in Detroit have no intention of rolling over and playing dead for Kevyn Orr, the city's new 'emergency manager' appointed by Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, who will begin his contract to run the city as a one-person government on Monday.

Called a "bloodless coup" by some, the appointment of an 'emergency financial manager' (EFM) will allow Orr to take full control over the city's resources now that the city council and school board have been stripped of their governing powers.

Justified as a tool to 'bring the city back from the financial brink' by its proponents, critics of Orr's position say the whole reason for the emergency manager is to further gut the city by carving off public assets to the highest private bidder.

“Over a decade of experimentation has shown that the emergency manager model is undemocratic and it hasn’t worked," said John Philo, director of the Sugar Law Center, which has taken legal action against Michigan’s emergency management model. "The stated goal is to balance the books and the emergency manager model fails to deliver that in the long term. What it does do is force privatization of public resources and guts the public sector unions. But that hollows out your tax base and the city continues in a downward spiral."
"The people of a city need to decide how to get out of a financial mess and how to prioritize necessary sacrifices," he continued. "Do they want to sell a park or eliminate a tax break for some business? These are policy choices that residents, not technocrats, should decide.”
From the New York Times:

The Republican governor’s decision to install an emergency manager for the Democratic-controlled city had been widely expected for months. Still, the reality of a state takeover of its largest city has left many here shocked and visibly nervous about the future.
At the City Council’s last meeting before the takeover, some residents vented their anger, while Council members wondered aloud if they would have any statutory powers at all once Mr. Orr took office.
“I am angry, like so many thousands of other residents of Detroit,” said Kathy Montgomery, 64. “Angry that our governor and mayor decided we need an emergency manager. We must oppose them.”

The emergency-manager law gives Mr. Orr extraordinary powers to reshape the city, including eliminating Council members’ salaries.
“I don’t know what kind of role we can have,” said Brenda Jones, one of nine City Council members. “I feel that we are just sitting here as a symbolic symbol right now.”
Mayor Dave Bing, who chose at the final hour not to oppose Mr. Orr’s appointment, will not publicly discuss what happens next. At a news conference on Friday on new police initiatives, he declined to answer questions about Mr. Orr.
But on Saturday, angry Detroit residents vowed to resist.
"We've waited long enough. We need action around the law because it's anti-democratic," said the Rev. Charles William II, pastor at Historic King Solomon Baptist Church where hundreds of Detroit residents gathered on Saturday to mark their disgust and plan their next move.
"We fought too hard. We marched too long. Too much blood (has) been shed for us to turn around," the Reverend said.
As the Detroit News reports:

At least 500 residents attended the meeting at the church, where they were encouraged to engage in protests and civil disobedience to voice their anger and disgust over Orr's appointment earlier this month.

The National Action Network has been mounting protests in the run-up to Orr's first day on the job, which marks the beginning of the state takeover of City Hall. Gov. Rick Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing and Orr have said they want to notch some early victories to help convince Detroiters that an emergency manager is the best option to get the financially troubled city back on track.
But the residents attending the church meeting Saturday couldn't have disagreed more.
"If it (the emergency manager law) happened anywhere else than in Detroit, this would have stopped years ago," said Gwendolyn Peoples, who attended the meeting with her daughter and granddaughter. "Emergency managers do not work. They are supported by big banks and by big business to steal public services."
On Monday a group will be busing to Cleveland to protest outside of the law firm Jones Day, where Orr was a partner. Buses are scheduled to leave at 8 a.m. Monday from Eastern Market.
Another group plans to meet in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue near the City County Building at 11 a.m. Monday to protest Orr's appointment.
Other protests were also planned, including more freeway protests like those earlier this month where slow-moving traffic clogged I-94 during rush hour.
And the Detroit Free Press adds:

The speeches focused extensively on how the appointment of an emergency financial manager circumvents democratic principles.
The Rev. David Bullock of Change Agent Consortium, a social justice activist group with an office in Detroit, said he was there to "stir the pot."
"For the Christians, it's Holy Week," he said referring to the week leading to Easter. "For the emergency manager, it's hell week."
Bullock told the crowd that an emergency financial manager is not there to protect the city's assets but actually to take away control from Detroiters. Orr has indicated that "everything is on the table" as he looks to stabilize the city's finances.
"Don't sell your birthright," Bullock told the crowd.
Calling the EFM scheme a "bloodless coup," political activst Greg Bowen—who helped lead the fight against the state law which allowed for such city takeovers—was unequivocal in his condemnation of Orr and what his tenure represents:

No invading army of Communists is at the door. No terrorist insurrection has occurred. No horde of barbarians is at the gate. Yet more and more of our fellow Michigan citizens fall under the growing shadow of one-person rule with an emergency financial manager.
Generations to follow will look back on this time in amazement. They will wonder how democratically elected governors could create laws to strip other people of their own locally, democratically elected governments. They will scratch their heads in disbelief.
How can a democratically elected ruling party ignore the will of their own constituents, who voted to successfully repeal the Emergency Manager Law, and revive it weeks later? How is it possible that an elected body can vote to affirm the idea that one person should rule a community?
Looking at the rising resistance and the demands put on the city and its people by the crisis, Shea Howell — a community activist and professor at Michigan's Oakland University — describes the positive aspects of the situation even as she called it a moment of anguish "beyond words":

As the [EFM] moves into the corridors of city hall, we need to deepen our relationships on the corners and sidewalks in our neighborhoods, block clubs and places of worship. We need to create opportunities to educate one another, to share ideas, strategies, and tactics for improving our daily life in the places where we live, walk, work, and pray.
We need to remember that the bus boycott grew out of a community of people that had long practiced democratic actions without any right to vote. They built churches, colleges, hospitals, schools, businesses, civic associations, and recreational centers. They developed strategies to call upon the U.S. government to live up to its highest ideals.
This history can guide us as we develop new democratic forms to create real participatory power, flowing from people making our own decisions about how we will live.
And in conclusion, Howell writes: "The only solution to this assault on our city is for each of us to take responsibility for recreating community life, based on respect for one another and the earth that sustains us.

"In loving community, we can build a new democracy that cannot be stolen."

FAA to Close 149 Air Traffic Towers Under Cuts


Mar 22, 2013

By JASON KEYSER


(AP) In this March 9, 2010 photo, an American Eagle flight waits for release from the air traffic...
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CHICAGO (AP) - Under orders to trim hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget, the Federal Aviation Administration on Friday released a final list of 149 air traffic control towers that it will close at small airports around the country starting early next month. 
The closures will not force any of those airports to shut down, but pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. Those procedures are familiar to all pilots.
 

Since a preliminary list of facilities was released a month ago, the FAA plan has raised wide-ranging concerns, including worries about the effect on safety and the potential financial consequences for communities that rely on airports to help attract businesses and tourists.

 
"We will work with the airports and the operators to ensure the procedures are in place to maintain the high level of safety at non-towered airports," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement.

Airlines have yet to say whether they will continue offering service to airports that lose tower staff. The trade group Airlines for America said its member carriers have no plans to cancel or suspend flights as a result of the closures.

The FAA is being forced to trim $637 million for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. The agency said it had no choice but to subject most of its 47,000 employees, including tower controllers, to periodic furloughs and to close air traffic facilities at small airports with lighter traffic. The changes are part of the across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, which went into effect March 1.



The airports targeted for tower shutdowns have fewer than 150,000 total flight operations per year. Of those, fewer than 10,000 are commercial flights by passenger airlines.



Airport directors, pilots and others in the aviation sector have argued that stripping away an extra layer of safety during the most critical stages of flight will elevate risks and at the very least slow years of progress that made the U.S. aviation network the safest in the world.



One of the facilities on the closure list is at Ogden-Hinckley Airport in Utah, where air traffic controllers keep planes safely separated from the F-16s screaming in and out of nearby Hill Air Force Base and flights using Salt Lake City International Airport.

(AP) In this Feb. 25, 2013 file photo, a twin-engine airplane flies past the air traffic control...
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"There's going to be problems," said Ogden airport Manager Royal Eccles. "There will be safety concerns and ramification because of it." Opponents of the closures are also warning of possible disruptions to medical transport flights and flight schools training the next generation of pilots.

 
The 149 air traffic facilities slated to begin closing on April 7 are all staffed by contract employees who are not FAA staffers. There were 65 other facilities staffed by FAA employees on the preliminary list of towers that could be closed. A final decision on their closure will require further review, the FAA said.
The agency is also still considering eliminating overnight shifts at 72 additional air traffic facilities, including some at major airports like Chicago's Midway International and General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee. There was no word Friday on when that decision will come.

 
The targeted towers are located in nearly every state.

 

(AP) In this Nov. 26, 2012 photo, the air traffic control tower is seen at Southern Illinois Airport in...
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Hundreds of small airports around the country routinely operate without controllers. Pilots flying there are trained to watch for other aircraft and announce their position over the radio during approaches, landings and takeoffs. But the overall air system's safety is built on redundancy. Taking away the controller's extra set of eyes is like removing stop signs or traffic lights from city intersections and forcing drivers to be more vigilant and cautious, said Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.
 

 
"That's what the pilot is going to have to do now," said Rinaldi, whose group represents nearly 15,000 FAA-employed controllers as well as some staff at privately run contract towers. "A pilot is now going to have that extra duty of making sure that everybody seems to be doing the right thing on a crowded" radio frequency.

 
Some aviation experts say overnight shifts should have been eliminated regardless of the sequester at facilities that don't see enough traffic to justify the expense. The budget cuts being forced on the FAA could provide the agency with political cover to make some of those changes.
 

 
"There's a tendency over time to have Congress direct more money to small airports than would probably be economically justified," explained Robert Poole, an aviation analyst at the Reason Foundation think tank.

(AP) In this Dec. 9, 2009 photo, an Air Choice One flight taxis past the control tower after landing at...
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He said his own initial review of the list released Friday showed that many of the towers are at airports with few or no scheduled passenger flights, suggesting there will be little effect on airline service. Rinaldi acknowledged that "just maybe there are some that don't warrant" air traffic control services.
"But I would bet the vast majority of them do," he said.

 
In Dallas' northern suburbs, local officials plan to put up the $315,000 needed to keep the tower open for the next six months at Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, said airport Director Kenneth Wiegand.
That will drive the airport into a deeper operating deficit, but it is worth it to keep the dozens of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the area happy and the local economy healthy, Wiegand explained.

 

(AP) A Cessna aircraft is parked near by the air traffic control tower at the Collin County Regional...
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"These businesses aren't going to fly a $70 million airplane into an airport that doesn't have positive control," he said. "They don't want to mix it up with the smaller aircraft." In New Mexico, officials in the state capital of Santa Fe said they were concerned about the impact on tourism.

 
In just the past few years, the mountain community has won back commercial jet service. For now, Mayor David Coss remains optimistic the airlines will continue to fly in, adding that the city cannot afford to pick up the $60,000 a month cost of operating the tower without federal funds.

 
"None of them have indicated otherwise," he said. "Our airport manager has contacted all of them, and they have all said they didn't have any change in plans right now."
---
Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City and Jeri Clausing in Albuquerque, N.M., contributed to this report.

 
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FAA statement on tower closures with list of affected airports: 
www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId14414


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fuck Them! (Or Not) It's Only Fair



Well, considering their past actions, you can't say they don't know what they want.

And are not shy about letting US know.

You'd wouldn't be surprised if they actually took up arms and led the new Crusade against their own countrymen, er, -women. Except, of course, this is the antiwar (chicken hawk) group. They are always against wars they have to fight in personally.

GOP will never reach women

(Credit: AP/Christian Gooden)

GOP Will Never Reach Women


The party's latest "autopsy" on its election defeat fails to address the misogyny of the Republican platform

By Andrea Flynn

Next New Deal

On Monday, the GOP released a report detailing its “Growth and Opportunity Project,” a new initiative that explores reasons for the party’s November defeat and posits strategies for winning future elections. If it wasn’t evident before, it is now abundantly clear that the Republican establishment officially attributes its November loss to a failure in style, not substance.

The 100-page report details the party’s inability to effectively communicate its policies and priorities to women, immigrants, young people, and people of color. It largely ignores the possibility that what motivated the majority of American voters, and in particular women, to give President Obama a second term was an aversion to the GOP’s outdated vision for the nation.

Acknowledging that Obama won the single women’s vote by a “whopping 36 percent,” the report’s authors suggest ways the party can be more inclusive of this critical voting bloc:

Making a better effort to listen to female voters; fighting against the Democratic rhetoric against the “so-called War on Women”; doing a better job communicating the GOP’s policies and employing female spokespeople to do it; and using Women’s History Month to “remind voters of the Republican’s Party historical role in advancing the women’s rights movement.”
I’m glad they specified “historical” role in advancing the women’s rights movement, given that their current role seems squarely focused on rolling back women’s rights. It’s encouraging that GOP strategists in Washington want to spend more time listening to women voters, but there is no indication that Republican lawmakers will respond to that feedback. As Rachel Maddow said on her program this week, while Beltway leaders are “preaching about how to appear more reasonable to the women folk among us,” Republican governance has become a competition – a race – “to see who can get the most extreme the fastest.”

And a race it is.

This week Andrew Jenkins of RH Reality Check reported on some of the most recent Republican efforts to chip away at women’s access to care:

Arkansas just passed a bill banning abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, while South Dakota just passed a bill to expand its 72-hour waiting period, which was already one of the longest in the country, in a state with only one abortion clinic. The North Dakota Senate just approved a ban on abortions after six-weeks of pregnancy, the most restrictive in the country. And in Kansas, a state House committee just passed a 70-page bill that defines life at fertilization and requires that physicians lie to their patients.
That’s not all.

Republicans in Texas remain hard at work leading national efforts in steamrolling access to women’s health care. Previous budget cuts and funding restrictions have already closed more than 50 clinics and are making it more difficult, if not impossible, for nearly 200,000 women to access care. Last week the Texas Senate Education Committee moved a bill forward that would ban Planned Parenthood and other organizations from providing sexuality education in schools, and the governor recently promised to advance a 20-week abortion ban.

In Wisconsin, four Planned Parenthood clinics closed as a result of a GOP-led ban that prevents the organization and other clinics from receiving state funds. In Oklahoma, a major Planned Parenthood facility closed after the state’s department of health cut off funding through the WIC program, forcing low-income women to go elsewhere to obtain vouchers for themselves and their children. Last month, Republicans in Michigan introduced a bill that would require women to get a vaginal ultrasound at least two hours before obtaining an abortion.

Mississippi is about to close its only abortion clinic thanks to a requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at a local hospital (and local hospitals’ refusal to grant those privileges) – a move the Republican governor has applauded as being the first step in ending abortion in that state.

Earlier this year, a Republican (female!) representative in New Mexico proposed legislation that would have allowed for women who terminated pregnancies resulting from rape to be charged with a felony for tampering with evidence. (She promptly rescinded and then proposed a new bill that would instead charge abortion providers with facilitating the destruction of evidence.)


The new GOP report also suggested that Republicans “talk about people and families, not just numbers and statistics.” In releasing his 2014 budget proposal last week, Paul Ryan certainly provided an interesting perspective into how the GOP proposes taking care of women and families.

According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Ryan budget includes significant reductions for “child care and Head Start, K-12 education and Pell grants, job training, civil rights enforcement, women’s preventive health care, domestic violence prevention and more.”

It would dismantle Medicaid, Medicare, and the food stamp program. It would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), denying nearly 15 million women access to affordable health insurance and Medicaid and forcing women to pay more for prescription drugs, including family planning. A s NWLC pointed out, repealing the ACA would “allow insurance companies to continue charging women higher premiums than men, deny coverage to women with so-called pre-existing conditions like domestic violence, and refuse to cover maternity care.”

The ACA is certainly providing fertile ground for GOP lawmakers to show how much they care about women. Twenty states now restrict abortion coverage in health insurance plans that will be offered through the insurance exchanges, and 18 states restrict abortion coverage in insurance plans for public employees. Nearly all of those states are Republican-led.

Additionally, 14 Republican governors have reported they will not participate in the Medicaid expansion programs that are a critical part of the ACA, denying access to a broad range of health services to millions of women.

On top of all this, 22 Republican Senators and 138 Republican members of the House voted last month against the Violence Against Women Act, a critical piece of legislation that provides assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence.

In their report, the GOP strategists recommended developing training programs in messaging, communications, and recruiting that address the best ways to communicate with women. “Our candidates, spokespeople and staff need to use language that addresses concerns that are on women’s minds in order to let them know we are fighting for them,” they state.

Given the abovementioned pieces of legislation, the GOP will be hard-pressed to convince women the party is fighting for them. It’s patronizing to think that using different language, new messaging, and female spokespersons will convince women to support a party that is so clearly working against their best interests.

Women are smart enough to know that a party that calls itself home to lawmakers relentlessly fighting to chip away at family planning and abortion access, food stamps, affordable health care, education, civil rights, and a social safety net providing tenuous stability to millions of marginalized individua ls is not a party committed to truly understanding or addressing their priorities.

Maybe next year the GOP will attempt a more earnest effort at celebrating Women’s History Month. Although, by that time, their state leaders might have alienated half the women in the country, and it will be too late.

(Andrea Flynn is a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. She researches and writes about access to reproductive health care in the United States. More Andrea Flynn.)

My thanks to my buddy Tony at Wolves in the City for the graphic below (click on the link for full enrapturement). You're right, Tony, it explains everything . . . and we just keep racing toward those churches.

For false comfort. You'd almost have to think that they were funded by the really connected guys. You know. The ones conniving the international financial/terror gambits. With superb legerdemain.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VkesSwzFGpM/UU8cGltNV3I/AAAAAAAAYTo/FiaKPijy80M/s1600/VENN.JPG