Sunday, September 30, 2012

How Many Years After Reagan Did It Take the Rich To Publicly Brag About Cutting Benefits To the Poor? Jubilant Willard Mitty (And Poor US) Willy Mitty's REAL Agenda (And It Ain't What You Thought) Joy Harjo Weeps

Ann Romney Worries About Mitt’s ‘Mental Well-Being’ If He Wins

And we can depend on at least one of Ronald Reagan's scions to provide the necessary witty denouements (and, surprise!, a little common sense (I hear it skips a generation)).

Ron Reagan: Poll Truthers Smoking ‘Giant Crack Pipe’ in Fox News Green Room

By David Edwards

Friday, September 28, 2012

(Video from MSNBC’s Hardball, broadcast Sept. 28, 2012.)

Ron Reagan, the liberal son of former President Ronald Reagan, on Thursday said that the so-called ‘poll truthers’ at Fox News like Karl Rove and Dick Morris who deny any poll that says President Barack Obama is ahead were so out of touch that they must be smoking a crack pipe in the network’s green room.
During a Monday segment on Fox News, Morris had claimed that Romney was “in a very strong position” even though polls showed him down in all nine battleground states.

“I believe if the election were held today, I believe Romney would win by four or five points,” Morris explained. “I believe he would carry Florida, Ohio, Virginia. I believe he would carry Nevada. I believe he would carry Pennsylvania — Pennsylvania. And I believe he would be competitive in Michigan.”

“People need to understand that the polling this year is the worst it’s ever been,” he insisted. “Because this is the first election where if I tell you who’s going to vote, I can tell you how they’re going to vote. … And the models these folks are using are crazy. They assume a Democratic edge of six or seven points.”

On Thursday, MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked Reagan why Fox News would invite Morris on to slam even their own poll — which showed Obama leading Romney nationally, 48-43.

“You sometimes imagine that back in the Republican green room, there’s this giant crack pipe that they’re all hitting on constantly, hitting it hard,” Reagan joked.

“It’s time to say, ‘Don’t bogart that, Morris’ because I think he’s been on that pipe longer than most,” Matthews agreed.

“It’s true, he bought the pipe, I think,” Reagan added. “But let’s not give them too much credit here. The rank and file actually believes some of this nonsense.
They believe that evolution didn’t happen, global warming is a hoax, Obama is a Kenyan. But the people like Dick Morris — and Sean Hannity for that matter, who has spread a lot of this kind of propaganda — they know better than this and there is a method to their madness here.”
“They’re not delusional, they’re dishonest. They’re not crazy, they’re craven . . . What they’re trying to do here and accomplish here is to say in advance, if President Obama wins this election, it’s because the pollsters suppressed the Republican vote, it’s therefore an illegitimate election, he’s not really president. They’re setting the table for that.”

And, yes, what many of us in blogtopia have been saying for so long is finally being exposed as national (but hardly rational) truth.

Mitt Romney's Real Agenda

Tim Dickinson

Rolling Stone

If you want to understand Romney's game plan, just look at what Republicans have been doing in Congress

t was tempting to dismiss Mitt Romney's hard-right turn during the GOP primaries as calculated pandering. In the general election - as one of his top advisers famously suggested - Romney would simply shake the old Etch A Sketch and recast himself as the centrist who governed Massachusetts. But with the selection of vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, the shape-shifting Romney has locked into focus - cementing himself as the frontman for the far-right partisans responsible for Washington's gridlock.

There is no longer any ambiguity about the path that Romney would pursue as president, because it's the same trajectory charted by Ryan, the architect of the House GOP's reactionary agenda since the party's takeover in 2010. "Picking Ryan as vice president outlines the future of the next four or eight years of a Romney administration," GOP power broker Grover Norquist exulted in August.

"Ryan has outlined a plan that has support in the Republican House and Senate. You have a real sense of where Romney's going." In fact, Norquist told party activists back in February, the true direction of the GOP is being mapped out by congressional hardliners. All the Republicans need to realize their vision, he said, is a president "with enough working digits to handle a pen."
The GOP legislation awaiting Romney's signature isn't simply a return to the era of George W. Bush. From abortion rights and gun laws to tax giveaways and energy policy, it's far worse. Measures that have already sailed through the Republican House would roll back clean-air protections, gut both Medicare and Medicaid, lavish trillions in tax cuts on billionaires while raising taxes on the poor, and slash everything from college aid to veteran benefits. In fact, the tenets of Ryan Republicanism are so extreme that they even offend the pioneers of trickle-down economics. "Ryan takes out the ax and goes after programs for the poor - which is the last thing you ought to cut," says David Stockman, who served as Ronald Reagan's budget director. "It's ideology run amok."
And Romney has now adopted every letter of the Ryan agenda. Take it from Ed Gillespie, senior adviser to the campaign: "If the Ryan budget had come to his desk as president," Gillespie said of Romney, "he would have signed it, of course."
A look at the bills that Republicans have passed since they took control of the House in 2010 offers a clear blueprint of the agenda that a Romney administration would be primed to establish:
Fewer Jobs
Republicans in Congress have repeatedly put ideology before creating jobs. For more than a year, they've refused to put President Obama's jobs bill up for a vote, even though projections show it would create nearly 2 million jobs without adding a penny to the deficit. The reason? The $447 billion bill would be entirely paid for through a surtax on millionaires.
In addition, the Republicans' signature initiative last year - the debt-ceiling standoff - was a jobs-killer, applying the brakes to the economic recovery. From February through April 2011, the economy had been adding 200,000 jobs a month. But during the uncertainty created by the congressional impasse, job creation was cut in half for every month the standoff continued. And according to the Economic Policy Institute, the immediate spending cuts required by the debt-ceiling compromise are likely to shrink the economy by $43 billion this year, killing nearly 323,000 jobs.
What Ryan markets as his "Path to Prosperity" would make things even worse: The draconian cuts in his latest budget, according to the EPI, would put an additional drag on the economy, destroying another 4.1 million jobs by 2014.
God, Guns and Gay
The retrograde social agenda laid out in recent GOP legislation represents a full-scale assault on fundamental American rights. Last year, the House passed a bill that would broadly prohibit women from purchasing insurance plans that cover abortion. The so-called Protect Life Act would also allow hospitals to refuse a dying woman an abortion that would save her life. Ryan himself co-sponsored legislation that would have made it impossible for impoverished victims of rape and incest to receive abortions unless their assault met a narrow definition of "forcible rape." Under the bill's language, for instance, federal abortion coverage would be denied to a 12-year-old girl impregnated by a 40-year-old man, unless she could prove she fought back.
When they weren't trying to force women to birth babies for rapists, the GOP House was voting to make it easier for would-be criminals to carry concealed firearms. In the first major gun legislation passed after their colleague Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, the House sided with her attempted murderer, passing an NRA-backed measure that would have undercut state limits on concealed-carry permits. Under the legislation, authorities in a state that prohibits drunk people from carrying a hidden weapon, for instance, would be barred from arresting an armed inebriate if he had a permit from another state without such a restriction. The bill, said Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, would "make it easier for the Jared Loughners of the world to pack heat on our streets and in our communities."
The GOP's love of guns is rivaled only by its contempt for gay Americans - even those who take up arms in defense of their country. Unable to block the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Republicans in the House approved riders in the Defense appropriations bill to undermine the rights of gays in the armed forces. An amendment introduced by Rep. Todd Akin - Ryan's co-sponsor on "forcible rape" - sought to prohibit military facilities from being used to hold gay weddings, and to bar military chaplains from presiding over such ceremonies. Another House rider banned the military from offering medical, pension and death benefits to the spouses of gay soldiers.

In thrall to dirty-energy interests, House Republicans have held more than 300 votes to hamstring the EPA, roll back environmental protections and open up sensitive public land to drilling - offering polluters a virtual license to kill. "This is, without doubt, the most anti-environmental Congress in history," said Rep. Henry Waxman, the ranking Democrat on the House Energy Committee.
Under the Republicans, the House has voted to ban the EPA from placing limits on climate-warming pollution, to reverse new fuel standards projected to slash dependence on foreign oil and save Americans $1.7 trillion at the pump, and to end standards signed into law by President Bush that would phase out wasteful, high-wattage incandescent light bulbs. Even more reckless, the House voted to block limits on deadly mercury emissions - a move that federal scientists calculate would result in 20,000 premature deaths - and drop safeguards on cement manufacturing that would kill another 12,500 Americans and lead to thousands of avoidable heart attacks. 

The Federal Bailout That Saved Mitt Romney
In February, over the objections of the State Department, the House voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport toxic tar sands from Canada across the Midwest's largest and most vulnerable supply of drinking water. In that same vote, the House returned to the great dream of the Bush era, voting to permit the oil industry to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
In an even more sweeping move, the House passed a bill to block all new major regulations until the nation's unemployment rate falls to six percent - a measure that would choke off not only new environmental safeguards, but also the new limits on Wall Street recklessness required under Dodd-Frank. 

Bash Immigrants
In June, the house approved a raft of amendments blocking Obama's executive directives on immigration reform. The legislation would prevent the administration from prioritizing the deportation of violent criminals over law-abiding immigrants, and put Homeland Security back in the business of deporting the undocumented spouses of American citizens.
The House even found a way to merge its dirty-energy agenda with its anti-immigrant stance, passing a "border bill" that bars enforcement of 16 key environmental laws - including the Endangered Species Act - on federal land within 100 miles of the Mexican border. The bill is a sop to the Minuteman crowd, who don't want to contend with environmental rules as they erect electrified fences to keep out immigrants.
But the measure is so broadly written that it also applies to the Canadian border, opening up places like Glacier National Park in Montana to bulldozers. Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican from Montana, calls the bill "absolutely necessary" to secure his state from "drug dealers, human traffickers and terrorists."
In perhaps its most absurd gesture, the House GOP managed to weave together its hatred of immigrants and abortions, passing a rider that bans the government from providing abortions to immigrants in detention. The move is a brave solution in search of an actual problem: Federal agencies have never paid for such a procedure.
Enrich Billionaires
House Republicans have voted three times to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts - a move that would blow a $3.8 trillion hole in the budget over the next decade. In fact, the Ryan budget - twice approved by the House - goes even further, doling out another $2.5 trillion to the wealthiest Americans by reducing the tax rate on top earners from 35 to just 25 percent, lowering the corporate rate to 25 percent, and ending the alternative minimum tax, a safeguard against tax cheats.
Romney, in fact, wants to give away even more to the rich than Republicans in the House by permanently eliminating the estate tax - a proposal that alarms veterans of the first Bush administration.
"Given the vast amounts of wealth that have accumulated at the very, very, very top, it's an odd time to be eliminating this most progressive element of the tax system," says Michael Graetz, a former deputy assistant Treasury secretary under Bush.
Over a decade, Romney's gift to the nation's most fortunate families would allow their heirs to pocket at least $1 trillion (including up to $50 million for Mitt's own heirs).
How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich
Those without family fortunes, meanwhile, would see their taxes soar. Independent tax groups have concluded that the only way to replace the tax revenue lost by the proposed Ryan and Romney tax cuts would be to end tax breaks - like the one for home-mortgage interest - that directly benefit the middle class. And the poor would get the shaft: The Ryan budget slashes the Child Tax Credit, meaning that a single mother of two earning the minimum wage would watch her annual tax bill rise by more than $1,500.
Slash Government 2012-09-29
Under the Ryan blueprint approved by the House and voted for by 40 GOP senators, government spending on everything that's not Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – NASA, highways, education, you name it – would be cut in half by 2022 and nearly in half again by 2050, until it stands at just 3.5 percent of the economy. As the Congressional Budget Service notes, such spending levels would be unprecedented in modern times: Since World War II, the government's discretionary spending has never fallen below eight percent of GDP.
If signed into law by President Romney, the Ryan budget would slash spending on college tuition grants by 42 percent next year and kick 1 million students out of the program. It would also gut funding for public schools, food and drug safety, basic science research, law enforcement and low-income housing. The cuts to food stamps alone would total $134 billion over the next decade.
Ripping Ryan for trying to cloak his budget in Catholic doctrine, priests and faculty from Georgetown University wrote, "Your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ."
There is one place, however, where Republicans want to increase spending: Under the most recent Ryan budget, the Pentagon would receive an extra $29 billion a year, reversing Obama's modest efforts to slow the growth of defense spending. Where would the extra cash come from?
In May, the House approved a Ryan bill to replace automatic cuts to the Pentagon under the debt-ceiling agreement with $261 billion in cuts to the federal safety net. The measure would deny food stamps to 1.8 million Americans, leave 280,000 kids without school lunches and cut off health care to 300,000 poor children.
Destroy Health Care
Republicans in the House have voted more than 30 times to repeal Obamacare – a move that would deplete the Medicare trust fund eight years early, kick 6.6 million young adults off their parents' health insurance, cost seniors $700 more on average for prescription drugs, and make it legal once again for insurance companies to charge women more than men and to rescind policies when people get sick. At the same time, repealing Obamacare would provide a massive giveback to the rich, handing over nearly $400 billion in tax revenues to those who earn above $250,000 a year.
To further boost the profits of insurance companies, the House passed a Ryan plan to voucherize Medicare, subjecting seniors to the whims of the private market. In the first year alone, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the cost to seniors would more than double, to $12,500 – and taxpayers would not save a dime, as private insurers pocketed the money.
By 2050, as inflation took its toll, buying a policy as good as present-day Medicare would cost an 85-year-old more than $50,000. The Ryan plan would also eviscerate Medicaid by turning federal contributions to the program into lump-sum "block grants" that states can administer as they see fit.
The trouble is that the grants, like Medicare vouchers, won't keep pace with soaring health care costs. In the first decade alone, the plan would bilk states out of $810 billion and deny health care to 30 million poor children, disabled Americans and seniors.
The last time a Republican presidential candidate touted an agenda to cut spending, lower taxes, boost defense and balance the budget was Ronald Reagan in 1980. Like Romney and Ryan, Reagan didn't have an actual plan for his spending cuts – they were an accounting fantasy, openly joked about as the "magic asterisk." In the end, as promised, Reagan's tax cuts went through, and the Pentagon's budget soared. But the spending cuts never materialized – so Reagan wound up tripling the debt.
If it didn't work for Reagan, says his former budget director, it would be foolish to assume Romney and Ryan can do better. "The Republican record on spending control is so abysmally bad," Stockman says, "that at this point they don't have a leg to stand on." Indeed, the last GOP administration turned $5 trillion in projected surplus into $5 trillion of new debt.

No one doubts Ryan's determination to slash the social safety net: Of the $5.3 trillion in cuts he has proposed, nearly two-thirds come from programs for the poor. But when it comes time to eviscerate the rest of the federal budget, Stockman says – funding for things like drug enforcement and public schools – Congress will "never cut those programs that deeply." In short, the rich will get their tax cuts. The poor will be left destitute. But America will be driven even deeper into debt.
That, at heart, is the twisted beauty of the plan being championed by Ryan and Romney: The higher Republicans manage to drive up the debt, the more ammunition they have in their fight to slash federal spending for the needy.
And the more time they waste trumpeting their "fiscal discipline," the more the nation's infrastructure will continue to crumble around them. Squandering two full workweeks of the congressional calendar on votes to repeal Obamacare has cost taxpayers $48 million. That's nearly the same amount of money now needed to repair cracks in the Capitol itself – spending the House GOP has refused to authorize, out of anti-governmental spite. "If the House wants the dome to fall in," said Senate Appropriations chair Ben Nelson, "I hope it falls on their side." If the Republicans experience a crushing blow as a result of their hard-right agenda, of course, it won't be caused by the laws of physics – it will be delivered by the voters on Election Day.

To end with a moment of non-levity (but a funny fat cat cartoon!):

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"The 'Self-Made' Hallucination of America's Rich"

"The 'Self-Made' Hallucination of America's Rich"

by Sam Pizzigati

"Let's cut Mitt Romney some slack. Not every off-the-cuff comment he made at that now infamous, secretly taped $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton reveals an utterly shocking personal failing. Take, for instance, Mitt's remark that he has "inherited nothing." A variety of commentators have jumped on Romney for that. They've pointed out that Mitt, the son of a wealthy CEO, has enjoyed plenty of privilege — everything from an elite private school education to a rolodex full of rich family friends he could tap to start up his business career. On top of that, the struggling young Mitt had $1 million worth of stock his father threw his way to tide him over until the big paydays started arriving.

Not quite "nothing." But there's no reason to pick on Mitt either. Most deep pockets, not just Mitt, consider themselves "self-made." The best evidence of this predilection to claim "self-made" status? The annual September release of the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans.

Each year Forbes celebrates the billionaires who populate its 400 list as paragons of get-up-and-go. The latest list, according to Forbes itself, "instills confidence that the American dream is still very much alive." Of America's current 400 richest, says the magazine, 70 percent "made their fortunes entirely from scratch."

Forbes made the same observation last year, too, and most news outlets took that claim at face value. But United for a Fair Economy did not. The Boston-based group's analysts took the time to investigate the actual backgrounds of last year's Forbes 400. They released their findings on the same day Forbes released the new 2012 list. The basic conclusion from these findings: Forbes is spinning "a misleading tale of what it takes to become wealthy in America." Most of the Forbes 400, like Mitt, have benefitted from a level of privilege unknown to the vast majority of Americans. As commentator Jim Hightower has colorfully put it, most of our super rich were born on third base and think they hit a triple.
I met Joy Harjo when she read her poetry to a group of admirers at a literary event in Key West in the mid-90's. She is pure pleasure to talk and fool around with and is not misnamed.

Hope you agree.

The Poet: Joy Harjo,"A Map to the Next World"

"A Map to the Next World"
 "In the last days of the fourth world I wished to make a map
for those who would climb through the hole in the sky.
My only tools were the desires of humans as they emerged from the killing fields,
from the bedrooms and the kitchens.
For the soul is a wanderer with many hands and feet.

The map must be of sand and can't be read by ordinary light.
It must carry fire to the next tribal town, for renewal of spirit.

In the legend are instructions on the language of the land,
how it was we forgot to acknowledge the gift, as if we were not in it or of it.
Take note of the proliferation of supermarkets and malls, the altars of money.
They best describe the detour from grace.

Keep track of the errors of our forgetfulness; a fog steals our children while we sleep.
Flowers of rage spring up in the depression, the monsters are born there of nuclear anger.

Trees of ashes wave good-bye to good-bye and the map appears to disappear.

We no longer know the names of the birds here,
how to speak to them by their personal names.
Once we knew everything in this lush promise.

What I am telling you is real and is printed in a warning on the map.
Our forgetfulness stalks us, walks the earth behind us,
leaving a trail of paper diapers, needles and wasted blood.

An imperfect map will have to do little one.
The place of entry is the sea of your mother's blood,
your father's small death as he longs to know himself in another.

There is no exit.

The map can be interpreted through the wall of the intestine-
a spiral on the road of knowledge.

You will travel through the membrane of death,
smell cooking from the encampment where our relatives make a feast
of fresh deer meat and corn soup, in the Milky Way.
They have never left us; we abandoned them for science.

And when you take your next breath as we enter the fifth world there will be no X,
no guide book with words you can carry.

You will have to navigate by your mother's voice, renew the song she is singing.

Fresh courage glimmers from planets.
And lights the map printed with the blood of history,
a map you will have to know by your intention, by the language of suns.

When you emerge note the tracks of the monster slayers
where they entered the cities of artificial light and killed what was killing us.
You will see red cliffs. They are the heart, contain the ladder.
A white deer will come to greet you when the last human climbs from the destruction.
Remember the hole of our shame marking the act of abandoning our tribal grounds.

We were never perfect.
Yet, the journey we make together is perfect on this earth
who was once a star and made the same mistakes as humans.
We might make them again, she said.
Crucial to finding the way is this: there is no beginning or end.
You must make your own map."

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Solution To Massive Unemployment Problem? (Create A Money-Machine for Stupid People: Found A Fake Religion To Tout!) What Katie (And No One In Power?) Knew & Drones Counterproductive? Who Wants This?

From Chris Floyd we learn the obvious (again and again):

In the category of "the sky is blue," "fire is hot" and "the sun rises in the east," the Guardian reports on a new study showing that Washington's murderous drone killing campaign in Pakistan is "counterproductive."

The sarcasm above is not meant to cast aspersions on the report itself -- which is detailed, devastating, and very productive -- but on the prevailing mindset in the ruling circles of the West (the self-proclaimed "defenders of civilization") that makes such a study even necessary, much less 'controversial.'

For of course even the denizens of the many secret services and black-op armies and intelligence agencies that make up America's world-straddling security apparat have said, repeatedly, that Washington's policy of murdering, torturing, renditioning and indefinitely detaining innocent people all over the world -- day after day, week after week, year after year -- is in fact creating the very extremism and anti-Americanism the policy purports to combat.

Thus the new report, by the law  schools of New York University and Stanford (a famously if not notoriously conservative institution) should be, in a sane and rational world, a case of carrying coals to Newscastle or selling ice to the Inuit: an exercise in redunancy.

But instead, sadly, the report, "Living Under Drones," is a very, very rare instance of speaking truth to the power that is waging a hideous campaign of terror -- there is no other word for it -- against innocent people all over the world.

The personal testimonies gathered by the researchers -- on the ground, in Pakistan -- are shattering ... at least for those who actually believe that these swarthy foreigner are actually human beings, with "hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions .. fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is." You can be sure -- you can be damned sure -- that the Nobel Peace Laureate in the White House has never and will never read these stories of the ones he is terrorizing, night and day. These testimonies will never appear beside the scraps of rumor, conjecture and brutal prejudice that constitute the "reports" he sees each Tuesday -- "Terror Tuesday" -- when he meets in the Oval Office with his death squad team to decide who will be assassinated that week.

The Guardian gives a good overview of the report.
Read on for the full story.

And on another favorite "oh why?" front:

Oh why can't we all get a job doing this fraudulent "good" (okayed by the IRS as religious) work? Oh, wait. We can, but it takes Tom Cruise-level balls. (Or would you believe, the exposed fraud L. Ron Hubbard-sized balls? And I have no idea what that means.)  Just ask Oprah and all those other Cruise-nonsense purveyors.

If only. (I mean, he's got a high school degree and all, so why possibly would he have a dating problem?)

Both men had humble beginnings. Cruise, who is 50, came from a broken family and was on his own by the age of 18. He joined Scientology in 1986, when he was 24, and he credits its study methods with helping him overcome dyslexia. He has gone on to make more than 30 films and reign as one of Hollywood’s top stars for nearly three decades. His films over the years have grossed almost $7 billion worldwide, and his last one, Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, brought in $700 million on its own. This year he was listed by Forbes as Hollywood’s highest-paid actor, with earnings of $75 million.

Miscavige, two years older and a couple of inches shorter than Cruise, began working with L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, as an assistant cameraman in 1977, when he was 17. Neither Cruise nor Miscavige attended college; Miscavige was a high-school dropout. By 1982, Miscavige was Hubbard’s top aide, and in 1987, the year after Hubbard’s death, he became the leader of the whole organization. Scientology has claimed to have eight million adherents around the world. Many question that figure, some putting it as low as 40,000.

In October 1993, during the first year of the Clinton administration, Scientology received its disputed status as a tax-exempt church. In the years leading up to that, thousands of Scientologists had sued the I.R.S., claiming discrimination after the government began to audit their tax returns. The organization employed the services of a former deputy assistant attorney general, Gerald Feffer, then a member of Washington’s well-connected Williams & Connolly law firm. Feffer’s wife, Monique Yingling, is still a top lawyer for Scientology.

Perhaps the most notable joint public appearance of Cruise and Miscavige occurred weeks after the opening in Madrid, when Miscavige conferred the organization’s Freedom Medal of Valor—an award created specially for Cruise—on the star at a black-tie ceremony outside London. Cruise appeared both in person and on a bizarre videotape—wearing a black turtleneck and extolling Scientology—that subsequently went up on the Internet.
What Katie Didn’t Know

Click here to see original photo.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Karl Rove's Long Game Isn't Over, It May Have Barely Begun

If it has seemed to be about anything other than the accumulation of wealth and power for decades, I have to admit that it's escaped my grasp.

The braying about "democracy," "personal choice," and "freedom" from those who immediately move to restrict each when given the power has never been particularly compelling to my understanding of what Empire builders really want (and pretend to have as their values and ultimate goals).

And I've said for over a decade that Karl Rove seemed to be accumulating the power that should be watched carefully by those who worry about the descent of the U.S. into unparalleled world domination. (Ray Dalio has a very sharp piece in The Business Insider on where this type of behavior leads.)

The father of the voter suppression movement, even before 2004, Rove began promoting a state-by-state campaign to require voter identification to stamp out voter fraud - a campaign that may bear fruit for the Republicans this year. In the 2004 election, with the help of Mark Hearne, national counsel to the Bush-Cheney campaign, Rove initiated aggressive efforts to require voter photo IDs and implement tougher registration procedures in the battleground states, particularly Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania all to prevent sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote, dead people voting, illegal aliens voting, and the like. According to his law firm's website, "Hearne traveled to every battleground state and oversaw more than 65 different lawsuits."
The problem, of course, is that voter fraud, as such, is all but nonexistent and the proposed laws are really designed to restrict voting by Latinos, the elderly, college students, the disabled, and the homeless - all of whom happen to lean Democratic. Accordingly, Democrats have called the GOP campaign Jim Crow 2.0 and Juan Crow.
One does not need to be a math genius to understand the calculus. As the subhead to one of Rove's Wall Street Journal columns explains, "even a small drop in the share of black voters could wipe out [Obama's] winning margin in North Carolina." Similarly, voter suppression efforts in heavily African-American precincts in, say, Cleveland can help swing the vital battleground state of Ohio into the GOP column. And, as goes Ohio, so goes the nation.

Karl Rove's Long Game

Craig Unger
Reader Supported News
25 September 12

ow that Mitt Romney and the Republicans are on the ropes, more than ever the fate of the 2012 presidential campaign - and Republican candidates throughout the country - is in the hands of Karl Rove and the billion dollar political machine he has put together in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
If that's surprising, in part it's because this is the same Karl Rove who barely escaped indictment in the Valerie Plame affair, and whose patron, George W. Bush left the White House with the lowest approval rating in history - 22 percent. Not to mention the fact that Rove's dream of establishing a permanent Republican majority ended in 2008 with the Democrats' political trifecta, winning the House, the Senate and the White House.
But, as I report in my new book Boss Rove: Inside Karl Rove's Secret Kingdom of Power, in 2010, Rove became unofficial party boss of the GOP and king of the Super PACs when he co-founded American Crossroads and its nonprofit sister group, Crossroads GPS, just after Citizens United.
During the primary season, he ensured Romney's nomination by regularly aiming barbs at Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and other Romney rivals from his perch as an analyst at Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. Even though he played the part of the enforcer, cracking down on the more rabid insurgent candidates, he managed to bring Tea Party billionaires such as Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers inside the Romney tent for the campaign, and, to a large extent, papered over the schism between Tea Partiers and the Bush-era GOP establishment embodied by Mr. Rove and former RNC chairmen Ed Gillespie and Haley Barbour.
Now, in view of the recent string of self-inflicted calamities that have struck Romney's camp, the Republicans need Rove and his Super PAC lucre more than ever.
But what's a party boss to do when his candidate is in trouble? Desperate times call for desperate measures - and to understand precisely what that means for the rest of the campaign, it's helpful to remember that Rove played a decisive role in the 2004 presidential campaign, and to look at what happened then.
The father of the voter suppression movement, even before 2004, Rove began promoting a state-by-state campaign to require voter identification to stamp out voter fraud - a campaign that may bear fruit for the Republicans this year.

In the 2004 election, with the help of Mark Hearne, national counsel to the Bush-Cheney campaign, Rove initiated aggressive efforts to require voter photo IDs and implement tougher registration procedures in the battleground states, particularly Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania all to prevent sneaking into the polls to cast an illicit vote, dead people voting, illegal aliens voting, and the like. According to his law firm's website, "Hearne traveled to every battleground state and oversaw more than 65 different lawsuits."
The problem, of course, is that voter fraud, as such, is all but nonexistent and the proposed laws are really designed to restrict voting by Latinos, the elderly, college students, the disabled, and the homeless - all of whom happen to lean Democratic. Accordingly, Democrats have called the GOP campaign Jim Crow 2.0 and Juan Crow.
One does not need to be a math genius to understand the calculus. As the subhead to one of Rove's Wall Street Journal columns explains, "even a small drop in the share of black voters could wipe out [Obama's] winning margin in North Carolina." Similarly, voter suppression efforts in heavily African-American precincts in, say, Cleveland can help swing the vital battleground state of Ohio into the GOP column.
And, as goes Ohio, so goes the nation. According to the Center for American Progress, if all the bills were to be enacted (many of them face legislative and judicial battles), more than 10 percent of the electorate, 21 million Americans, lack voter IDs and might face disenfranchisement.
As the Rove-orchestrated Bush-Cheney campaign showed us in Ohio in 2004, many other elaborate techniques that can help shape the electorate to the liking of the Republicans. In 2004, pre-election 'caging' tactics designed to cast doubt on the addresses of registered voters, targeted African-Americans so their registrations could be challenged on Election Day. Flyers and phone calls provided Democrats with misleading information about when and where to vote.
Uneven distribution of voting machines ensured that voters in heavily Republican precincts could zip through voting lines while those living in Democratic neighborhoods had to wait up to eleven hours. The use of provisional ballots given to voters whose eligibility is in doubt was restricted, again disenfranchising tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of Democrats.
Similarly, as I recount in Boss Rove, there was widespread evidence of "cross-voting," an elaborate set of techniques by which punch card ballots can be awarded to the wrong candidate. There was also plenty of evidence (and) mention (of) malfeasance via electronic voting.
This time around, Rove has far more money to play with than he did in 2004. Already, his Super PACs are inundating battleground states with political ads.

As Romney has faltered, a considerable amount of funds have shifted to key Senate races in Ohio, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. But Rove's Super PACs cannot abandon Romney completely without endangering GOP down ballot candidates all over the country.
And in the end, Rove is neither omnipotent nor infallible. He cannot completely compensate for Romney's inadequacies or any gaffes he might make in the upcoming presidential debates. Indeed, the narrative of Romney as a multi-millionaire who doesn't care one whit about half the country may well be so deeply entrenched that even a billion dollar ad campaign can't overcome it.
In that case, it's worth remembering that Rove has an even higher concern than winning the White House.

Having long dreamed of replicating the achievement of Mark Hanna, the legendary political operator who put William McKinley in the White House and launched an era of Republican dominance, ultimately, he cares most about Karl Christian Rove and his fate as the permanent GOP party boss.
"He's playing a very long game," Republican operative Roger Stone told me. "He's playing for control of the party. That's where the power is. That's where the money is. Even if Romney loses, that's good for Karl, because he will still be in control."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Woz Exiting US for Australia (Can You Empathize?)

Not exactly hard to understand, is it?

Apple Co-Founder Wants to Be Australian Citizen


Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, would like to become an Australian citizen, The Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday, citing the rollout of Australia's national broadband network as one of the reasons for the move.

Steve Wozniak

The idea behind Australia's $38 billion National Broadband Network is to allow all Australians to have high-speed Internet access by 2021.

"It's one of the reasons why I actually like this country and want to become a citizen," the publication reported Wozniak as saying. "I live in a country where we don't have any regulation of telecommunications."

Wozniak told the Australian newspaper that his home in California was not connected to a broadband service, referring to the options available to him as a "monopoly."

Democracy Fatally Threatened? (Well, North American Democracy, Anyway) & One Good Reason Not To Vote for Obama? Freeloader Erskine Bowles Set To Run Treasury! (Into the Ground)

As we move ever closer to declaring outright war on Iran (and make no mistake about it, that's what the weasel words of "necessary air defense," "attacked American officials," and "protection of civilians" means in the Middle East when used by those not living there), even more middle-of-the-road liberals take a stand against the forces of impending darkness. The leftists have, of course, been screaming about it for years. (But who listens to them?)

And American democracy goes down the tubes once and for all.

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

Robert B. Reich

September 22, 2012

 It’s not just his giant income or the low tax rates he pays on it. And it’s not just the videotape of him berating almost half of America, or his endless gaffes, or his regressive budget policies.
It’s something that unites all of this, and connects it to the biggest underlying problem America faces — the unprecedented concentration of wealth and power at the very top that’s undermining our economy and destroying our democracy.
Romney just released his 2011 tax returns, showing he paid $1.9 million in taxes on more than $13 million of income last year — for an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. (He released his 2010 return in January, showing he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent.)
American has had hugely wealthy presidents before — think of Teddy Roosevelt and his distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt; or John F. Kennedy, beneficiary of father Joe’s fortune.
But here’s the difference. These men were champions of the working class and the poor, and were considered traitors to their own class. Teddy Roosevelt railed against the “malefactors of great wealth,” and he busted up the oil and railroad trusts.
FDR thundered against the “economic royalists,” raised taxes on the wealthy, and gave average working people the right to form unions — along with Social Security, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and a 40-hour workweek.
But Mitt Romney is not a traitor to his class. He is a sponsor of his class. He wants to cut their taxes by $3.7 trillion over the next decade, and hasn’t even specified what “loopholes” he’d close to make up for this gigantic giveaway.
And he wants to cut benefits that almost everyone else relies on — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and housing assistance.
He’s even a warrior for his class, telling his wealthy followers his job isn’t to worry about the “47 percent” of Americans who won’t vote for him, whom he calls “victims” and he berates for not paying federal incomes taxes and taking federal handouts.
(He mangles these facts, of course. Almost all working Americans pay federal taxes — and the federal taxes that have been rising fastest for most people are Social Security payroll taxes, which aren’t collected on a penny of income over $110,100.

Moreover, most of the “47 percent” whom he accuses of taking handouts are on Medicare or Social Security — the biggest “entitlement” programs — which, not incidentally, they paid into during their working lives.)
Money means power. Concentrated wealth at the top means extraordinary power at the top. The reason Romney pays a rate of only 14 percent on $13 million of income in 2011 — a lower rate than many in the middle class — is because he exploits a loophole that allows private equity managers to treat their income as capital gains, taxed at only 15 percent.
And that loophole exists solely because private equity and hedge fund managers have so much political clout — as a result of their huge fortunes and the money they’ve donated to political candidates — that neither party will remove it.
In other words, everything America is learning about Mitt Romney — his tax returns, his years at Bain Capital, the video of his speech to high-end donors in which he belittles half of America, his gaffes, the budget policies he promotes — repeat and reenforce the same underlying reality.  
So much wealth and power have accumulated at the top of America that our economy and our democracy are seriously threatened. Romney not only represents this problem. He is the living embodiment of it.
(Robert Bernard 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, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.)

Since Obama's appointment of Geithner and Summers as advisors in 2009, and then the arch-financier Erskine Bowles (as The People's representative) to the Catfood Is Good Enough For Old People Commission, I've had my doubts about the Democratic alternative for the lower classes. With Bowles' recent reemergence onto the scene, it becomes clear that the Rmoney Team isn't the only Money Team to fear. Julius Caesar was stabbed by some of his closest friends.

Since Romney Raised the Issue of Freeloaders, What Is Erskine Bowles?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Since we seem destined to have a national debate on the topic of government freeloaders in the wake of the Romney fundraising video, it might be worth asking how we think about someone getting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for sitting on a corporate board for which they did little obvious work.
Erskine Bowles, a possible future Treasury Secretary, is of course the poster child for such people.
Mr. Bowles has earned millions of dollars sitting on corporate boards over the last decade.
The stock prices of the companies on whose boards he sat have mostly plummeted.
Since 2003 the Erskine Bowles stock index has lost more than one third of its value.
By comparison, the S&P 500 has risen by more than 50 percent. If Mr. Bowles was trying to serve shareholders, he has not done a very good job.
If people think that this is a private matter, with Mr. Bowles just ripping off shareholders while Governor Romney's freeloaders are ripping off taxpayers, think again. One of the companies on whose board Mr. Bowles sat, General Motors, went bankrupt with substantial costs to the government.
Another, Morgan Stanley, would have gone bankrupt without extraordinary assistance from the Fed and Treasury, which continues to this day in the form of implicit too big to fail insurance.
So, if we want to have a debate about people who freeload on the rest of the country, we should have folks like Erskine Bowles at center stage.
Of course he is in a much higher income bracket than the folks who get Social Security or unemployment insurance from the government, but that fact should not be allowed to color the debate.


Why Wasn't Erskine Bowles Means Tested and Drug Tested?
- written by Last Mover, September 18, 2012

It seems this would be routine under the Romney plan to root out freeloaders like himself whose "success" depends on welfare from the government in the form of enabled market power designed to shield them from competition in free markets they preach for everyone else, along with ordinary welfare handouts like tax loopholes.

Another useful test would be a lie detector test to identify those declaring themselves as "victims" to qualify for government largesse.

Line up the upper 1%, strap them in the chair and ask these two questions:

Are you or have you every been a member of the Rent Seeking, Bailout Seeking, Subsidy Seeking Party?

Does your economic survival depend on victims of this party?

- written by bmz, September 18, 2012

"Of course he is in a much higher income bracket than the folks who get Social Security" Oh really? I'll bet you dollars to donuts that my "social security" marginal income tax rate blows his off the board. I am 71 years of age, and am self-employed part time. My AGI is ~$55,000/yr. At that income, I must pay, in addition to my regular tax, a tax on 85% of my SS benefits( for every marginal dollar of income, I pay a tax on $1.85). My total marginal income tax rate is: 25% X 1.85 = 46.3% +12.4%(self-employment tax) +7.5%(state income tax) = 66.2% total marginal income tax rate.

- written by urban legend, September 18, 2012

I'll bet Bowles is one of the DC VSPs who are all hearts for high-stakes testing for teachers -- but not high-stakes quantitative evaluation of performance for himself. I'm sure he has lots of explanations for his horrid performance that are a lot less convincing than having to "add value" teaching low-income inner-city kids with few back-up resources.

I love the Erskine Bowles Stock Index. Obama should be hit over the head with it at every opportunity so he can see the political damage such an appointment will cause.

Romney Family Welfare Freeloaders

- written by Thomas Dooley, September 20, 2012

Wikipedia reports that "The (Romney) family subsisted with other Mormon refugees on government relief in El Paso, Texas…" after Mitt's foreign born Dad, George, was chased out of Mexico with the rest of the Mormons by the Mexican Revolution.

This means that while it's absolutely crazy to believe that anywhere near 47% of Americans are on welfare at any one time it isn't crazy to name Romney's own family as an example of welfare freeloaders who once existed on government relief.

What the hell is wrong with Mitt? Hard times do happen to people and they sometimes need help. That happen to his own family, to his very own father, grandfather and grandmother and his own aunts and uncles.

The United States plunged to its lowest ever ranking on the Economic Freedom of the World report, dropping from second place out of 144 nations in 2000 to a humiliating 18th in this year's annual survey.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio appeared on CNBC and warned of potential social unrest and what it could mean.

Containment of a Nuclear-Capable Iran is Not an Option 
Senate Reaffirms US Commitment to Stop Iran from Obtaining Nukes
By The Associated Press
The Senate has overwhelmingly approved a resolution that reaffirms US efforts to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and says containment of a nuclear-capable Iran is not an option.

War With Iran
An Impeachment Warning to Obama

Must Watch Video
This bi-partisan resolution, reasserts the power of Congress to declare war, and states that any President who circumvents Congress, unless the United States is attacked, will face an article of impeachment.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chaos, Controlled, Purposive Chaos Rules, U.S. Citizens Die Needlessly, and MSM Promotes Wingnuts Wildly (Or Is That Wild Wingnuts?) Again and Again

September 22, 2012

Shocker Stat of the Day:  Life Expectancy Decreases by 4 Years Among Poor White People in the U.S.

By Kathleen Geier

Yesterday, the New York Times reported on an alarming new study: researchers have documented that the least educated white Americans are experiencing sharp declines in life expectancy. Between 1990 and 2008, white women without a high school diploma lost a full five years of their lives, while their male counterparts lost three years.
Experts say that declines in life expectancy in developed countries are exceedingly rare, and that in the U.S., decreases on this scale “have not been seen in the U.S. since the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918.” Even during the Great Depression, which wrought economic devastation and severe psychic trauma for millions of Americans, average life expectancy was on the increase.

What are the reasons for the disturbing drop in life expectancy among poor white folks, and in particular for the unusually large magnitude of the decline? According to the Times, researchers are baffled: one expert said, “There’s this enormous issue of why … It’s very puzzling and we don’t have a great explanation.” 

Undoubtedly, the increasing numbers of low-income Americans without health insurance is a major contributor factor. Researchers also say that lifestyle factors such as smoking, which has increased among low-income white women, play a role; poor folks tend to engage in more risky health behaviors than their more affluent counterparts.

I will offer an alternative hypothesis, one which is not explicitly identified in the Times article: inequality. In the U.S., the period between 1990 and 2008, which is a period that saw such steep declines in life expectancy for the least well-off white people, is also a period during which economic inequality soared.
Moreover, there is a compelling body of research that suggests that inequality itself — quite apart from low incomes, or lack of health insurance — is associated with more negative health outcomes for those at the bottom of the heap. One of the most famous series of studies of the social determinants of health, Britain’s Whitehall Studies, had as their subjects British civil servants, all of whom health insurance and (presumably) decent enough jobs. Intriguingly, these studies

found a strong association between grade levels of civil servant employment and mortality rates from a range of causes. Men in the lowest grade (messengers, doorkeepers, etc.) had a mortality rate three times higher than that of men in the highest grade (administrators).
The Whitehall studies found that while workers in the lower grades were more likely to be at risk for coronary heart disease due to factors such as higher rates of smoking, higher blood pressure, etc., even after controlling for those confounding factors, these workers still experienced significantly higher mortality rates.
So what was behind such disparate health incomes among high-status and low-status workers? Researchers pointed the finger at inequality, hypothesizing that various psychosocial factors associated with inequality — such as the higher levels of stress at work and at home experienced by the lower tier workers, as well as their lower levels of self-esteem — were behind the dramatic differences in mortality rates.

I believe that inequality-related stressors are likely to be the determining factors in declining American life expectancies, as well. I’m surprised, in fact, that the Times article did not specifically identify inequality as a causal factor, because the health risks associated with economic inequality are well-established in the scientific literature.
For decades, the United States has been making a series of political choices that has distributed wealth and power upwards and left working Americans not only poorer and sicker, but also feeling far more burdened and distressed, and experiencing far less security and control over their lives.
The consequences of these choices have been devastating, and absent a dramatic reversal in our political course, they are likely to get even worse. Where inequality is concerned, Republicans have their foot on the accelerator, while the best the Democrats seem to be able to do is to (temporarily) put their foot on the brake.

We are on a trajectory all right, and it’s not a good one.
RepublicanPointOfView on September 22, 2012 9:34 AM:
So what!
We republicans will still argue that the eligibility ages for social security and medicare should be raised.

Anonymous on September 22, 2012 10:10 AM:
If the white folks have jobs at all, they're always on the brink of losing them, both, or all three of them.
Most of those jobs don't have benefits.
If they don't, and buy health care, that cost has escalated dramatically.
If they had any savings, they're gone/Pensions, sold out from under them.
If they had a home, the value has gone down in the past 4 years.
If they have children, the cost of higher education has skyrocketed.

On top of that, hating on "The Other" people is very stressful.

They drink more.
Take take drugs, legal and illegal.

All of that stress, the lack of cheap, quality health care, and little time to go to doctors if they wanted to, and little or no hope for the future, adds up to shorter lifespans.

Of course, the fact that they voted against their best interests, causing some, if not most of those problems, will never occur to them.

And many of them will go out on November 6th, and vote the straight Republican ticket, possibly shortening the lifespans of the rest of us, as well.
White folks - there is no better proof than this study, that shows that racism kills - not just the ones you want to see killed, but yourselves.

Anonymous on September 22, 2012 10:32 AM:
Ta-Nahisi Coates: We are all welfare queens now. 

Bob on September 22, 2012 1:33 PM:
I can't say I'm surprised. Poverty is increasing. 40% of the nation needs help in one way or another or doesn't have health insurance. It's not just the Republicans, who by their own admission don't care about this 47%, but also Democrats who are all-too willing to suck up to the Gods of the Market by dropping the public option. Health care may not be a Constitutionally-mandated "right" -- but the Right to Life, Liberty, etc. does include the word "life" and only an idiot thinks that life can be maintained without healthcare. That's why were 20-something-th in life expectancy. Even Mexico takes care of all its people. What a country we live in.

The following is lifted in full from my mentor Driftglass. (Because he's just that good.)

Read it and weep for your country's future.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Morning Comin' Down

Hey look, it's David Brooks!

Hey look, it's Bay Buchanan!

Hey look, it's Joe Scarborough!

Hey look, it's Ann Fucking Coulter!  On a major network political teevee show!  For the third time this year!
Hey look, it's me dying a little more inside!

Honestly, you don't have to worry about "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" anymore.  For the third time this year -- without apology or explanation -- George Robert Stephanopoulos has used his position as the anchor of one America's most highly rated political talk shows to put slandering wingnut welfare gorgon Ann Coulter on the public airwaves.  Sadly, Mr.  Stephanopoulos did not put her on camera as a cautionary tale or object of derision. Instead, he presented her to America once again as a "Conservative pundit" cloaked in all the credibility his name and network could lend her, and thus -- like any other thrice-convicted public masturbator -- forfeits his right to be taken seriously about anything.

In other words, The Gingrich Rules were in full effect.

Regular readers know the drill (from me in June, 2012):

...If your idea of biting-into-aluminum thrill-seeking is peeping through the curtains of a post-apocalyptic abattoir-cum-knocking shop after closing time to see what sorts of slithery, unnatural things clamber up from the basement in the gloaming hours, then the Mouse Circus was the place for you Sunday for one reason:  Ann Coulter.

Ms. Coulter makes her way in the world by plying her one, very specific skill: scuttling from one microphone to the next, wrapping herself around it like a hagged-out "Alien" face-hugger, ramming her screechy, Conservative ovipositor into her audience's ears and laying her loathsome eggs in their skulls.

And most of the time, there she remains...skittering around and around the wingnut welfare circuit over and over again from Hate Radio to Fox teevee, with an annual stop at Regnery press feeding trough to extrude books like "Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America", "Godless: The Church of Liberalism", "Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism" and so after day offering the same gnarly, bile-soaked handjobs to the same imbeciles in the back alleys on the wrong side of town...

...until the day comes -- as it inevitably does -- when the big, air-conditioned, network teevee limo sighs to a stop next to her, pops the door open and offers her another chance to take her freakshow uptown.

Usually such Sunday morning outreaches to the mutant hellbeast community are done by David Gregory, but  at least once a year, George Stephanopolous steps up to pay down the vig on whatever unholy debt the mutant hellbeast community is holding over his head.

... And speaking of "Meet the Press", for sheer train-wreck theatricality, it would be hard to beat Bay Buchanan's dead doll-eye-stare, obsessive raptor-talon-flexing and (literally) panting rage as she bulldozed a straight line right off the edge of the world, because it was three wholly different ki(n)ds of fun.
First, the idea of Pat Buchanan's batshit sister being decanted and rolled out  as a paid Romney troll on America's most highly-rated network political talk show is just hilarious in and of itself.  Second, actually watching her mental stick-shift lock up and leave her unable to present any dimension except "snarling, snapping lunatic liar" was Big Fun too. And third, it was Very Big Fun indeed to see the look on David Brooks' face as the constraints of the format forced him to treat Ms. Buchanan's unhinged Bag Lady MacBeth performance with a kind of horrified, congealed collegiality instead of the way I imagine he usually deals with such raving unpleasantness: by flicking a quarter at it and sprinting for his car.

Which, in a way, made Sunday's "Meet the Press" a perfect specimen for future generations to study when they try to understand why the United States had a complete nervous breakdown during the last few decades of the 20th Century and the first few decades of the 21st:

Bay Buchanan on "Meet the Press" arguing with Joe Scarborough and David Brooks about how Conservatives don't get enough time on teevee.
The best comedy ever, and as it's Jon Stewart, it's waaay beyond that.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Funniest Economist On the Scene Today, Why QE3 Will Only Jumpstart Those Already Jumping On Your Pocketbook, & Romney Releases Scoundrel Tax Return Records

Funniest economist on the scene today? (Or just too intelligent and courageous for words?)

Okay, there are several others.

But this guy has my vote for being the best. Par excellence.

And if you don't take the time to listen to this, you probably aren't wise enough to survive the coming really bad times (in the U.S. - not in the countries where the U.S. corporations have relocated to, of course).

And, yes, capitalism, without an FDR to save it, has pushed itself over the cliff. And a true Left would have had a shot this time as well.

Wanna try once more?

Okay. I lied.

Not that kind of funny.

But a pretty good joke on the ignorant, don't you think?

Here's another one.

Pretty fun Saturday, what?

The Circulating Money Supply: Why QE3 Won’t Jumpstart the Economy — and What Would

Ellen Brown

Global Research, September 21, 2012
The economy could use a good dose of “aggregate demand”—new spending money in the pockets of consumers — but QE3 won’t do it.  Neither will it trigger the dreaded hyperinflation.  In fact, it won’t do much at all.  There are better alternatives.
The Fed’s announcement on September 13, 2012, that it was embarking on a third round of quantitative easing has brought the “sound money” crew out in force, pumping out articles with frighting titles such as “QE3 Will Unleash’ Economic Horror’ On The Human Race.”  The Fed calls QE an asset swap, swapping Fed-created dollars for other assets on the banks’ balance sheets.  But critics call it “reckless money printing” and say it will inevitably produce hyperinflation.  Too much money will be chasing too few goods, forcing prices up and the value of the dollar down.
All this hyperventilating could have been avoided by taking a closer look at how QE works.  The money created by the Fed will go straight into bank reserve accounts, and banks can’t lend their reserves.  The money just sits there, drawing a bit of interest.  The Fed’s plan is to buy mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from the banks, but according to the Washington Post, this is not expected to be of much help to homeowners either.

Why QE3 Won’t Expand the Circulating Money Supply

In its third round of QE, the Fed says it will buy $40 billion in MBS every month for an indefinite period.  To do this, it will essentially create money from nothing, paying for its purchases by crediting the reserve accounts of the banks from which it buys them.  The banks will get the dollars and the Fed will get the MBS.  But the banks’ balance sheets will remain the same, and the circulating money supply will remain the same.
When the Fed engages in QE, it takes away something on the asset side of the bank’s balance sheet (government securities or mortgage-backed securities) and replaces it with electronically-generated dollars.  These dollars are held in the banks’ reserve accounts at the Fed.  They are “excess reserves,” which cannot be spent or lent into the economy by the banks.  They can only be lent to other banks that need reserves, or used to obtain other assets (new loans, bonds, etc.).  As Australian economist Steve Keen explains:
[R]eserves are there for settlement of accounts between banks, and for the government’s interface with the private banking sector, but not for lending from.  Banks themselves may . . . swap those assets for other forms of assets that are income-yielding, but they are not able to lend from them.
This was also explained by Prof. Scott Fullwiler, when he argued a year ago for another form of QE — the minting of some trillion dollar coins by the Treasury (he called it “QE3 Treasury Style”).  He explained why the increase in reserve balances in QE is not inflationary:
Banks can’t “do” anything with all the extra reserve balances.  Loans create deposits—reserve balances don’t finance lending or add any “fuel” to the economy.  Banks don’t lend reserve balances except in the federal funds market, and in that case the Fed always provides sufficient quantities to keep the federal funds rate at its . . . interest rate target. Widespread belief that reserve balances add “fuel” to bank lending is flawed, as I explained here over two years ago.
Since November 2008, when QE1 was first implemented, the monetary base (money created by the Fed and the government) has indeed gone up.  But the circulating money supply, M2, has not increased any faster than in the previous decade, and loans have actually gone down.
Quantitative easing has had beneficial effects on the stock market, but these have been temporary and are evidently psychological: people THINK the money supply will inflate, providing more money to invest, inflating stock prices, so investors jump in and buy.  The psychological effect eventually wears off, requiring a new round of QE to keep the game going.
That is what happened with QE1 and QE2.  They did not reduce unemployment, the alleged target; but they also did not drive up the overall price level.  The rate of price inflation has actually been lower after QE than before the program began.
Why, Then, Is the Fed Bothering to Engage in QE3?
If the Fed is doing no more than swapping bank assets, what is the point of this whole exercise?  The Fed’s professed justification is that by buying mortgage-backed securities, it will lower interest rates for homeowners and other long-term buyers.  As explained in Reuters:
Massive buying of any asset tends to push up the prices, and because of the way the bond market works, rising prices force yields [or interest rates] down. Because the Fed is buying mortgage-backed bonds, the purchases act to directly lower the cost of borrowing to buy a home. In addition, some investors, put off by the rising price of the bonds that the Fed is buying, turn to other assets, like corporate bonds – which, in turn, pushes up corporate bond prices and lowers those yields, making it cheaper for companies to borrow – and spend.
Those are the professed objectives, but politics may also play a role.  QE drives up the stock market in anticipation of an increase in the amount of money available to invest, a good political move before an election.
Commodities (oil, food and precious metals) also go up, since “hot money” floods into them.  Again, this is evidently because investors EXPECT inflation to drive commodities up, and because lowered interest rates on other investments prompt investors to look elsewhere.  There is also evidence that commodities are going up because some major market players are colluding to manipulate the price, a criminal enterprise.
The Fed does bear some responsibility for the rise in commodity prices, since it has created an expectation of inflation with QE, and it has kept interest rates low.  But the price rise has not been from flooding the economy with money.  If dollars were flooding economy, housing and wages (the largest components of the price level) would have shot up as well.  But they have remained low, and overall price increases have remained within the Fed’s 2% target range.  (See chart above.)
Some Possibilities That Might Be More Effective at Stimulating the Economy
An injection of money into the pockets of consumers would actually be good for the economy, but QE3 won’t do it.  The Fed could give production and employment a bigger boost by using its lender-of-last-resort status in more direct ways than the current version of QE.
It could make the very-low-interest loans given to banks available to state and municipal governments, or to students, or to homeowners.  It could rip up the $1.7 trillion in government securities that it already holds, lowering the national debt by that amount (as suggested a year ago by Ron Paul).  Or it could buy up a trillion dollars’ worth of securitized student debt and rip those securities up.  These moves might require some tweaking of the Federal Reserve Act, but Congress has done it before to serve the banks.
Another possibility would be the sort of “quantitative easing” first proposed by Ben Bernanke in 2002, before he was chairman of the Fed—just drop hundred dollar bills from helicopters.  (This is roughly similar to the Social Credit solution proposed by C. H. Douglas in the 1920s.)  As Martin Hutchinson observed in Money Morning:
With a U.S. population of 310 million, $31 billion per month, dropped from helicopters, would have given every American man, woman and child an extra crisp new $100 bill per month.
Yes, it would produce an extra $31 billion per month on the nominal Federal budget deficit, but the Fed would have printed the new bills, so there would have been no additional strain on the nation’s finances.
It would be much better than a new social program, because there would have been no bureaucracy involved, just bill printing and helicopter fuel.
The money would nearly all have been spent, increasing consumption by perhaps $300 billion annually, creating perhaps 3 million jobs, and reducing unemployment by almost 2%.
None of these moves would drive the economy into hyperinflation.  According to the Fed’s figures, as of July 2010, the money supply was actually $4 trillion LESS than it was in 2008.  That means that as of that date, $4 trillion more needed to be pumped into the money supply just to get the economy back to where it was before the banking crisis hit.
As the psychological boost from QE3 wears off and the “fiscal cliff” looms, perhaps Congress and the Fed will consider some of these more direct approaches to relieving the economy’s intractable doldrums.

(Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute.  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are,, and
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