Thursday, October 17, 2013

UnAmerican Tea Party’s Image Turns More Negative

UnAmerican Tea Party’s Image Turns More Negative
Unfavorable Views of Tea Party Have Nearly Doubled Since 2010. The Tea Party is less popular than ever, with even many Republicans now viewing the movement negatively. Overall, nearly half of the public (49%) has an unfavorable opinion of the Tea Party, while 30% have a favorable opinion.
Since far Right conservatives like the tea baggers have values and an agenda that is pretty much the same thing as the old Confederacy, no wonder normal people find them repulsive.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Truth About The UnAmerican Trucker Rally in Washington

The Truth About The UnAmerican Trucker Rally in Washington
In recent days, a series of planned anti-government rallies involving truckers protesting on the Capital Beltway has produced widespread press coverage and been given a publicity boost by Fox News and Glenn Beck. Though the organizers and participants have been presented by conservative media as salt-of-the-earth people with constitutional objections to President Obama and members of Congress, the event is actually being organized by a fringe conspiracy theorist. 

Zeeda Andrews -- a co-organizer of the effort who made October 8 appearances on Fox News and Glenn Beck's The Blaze to promote the event -- apparently thinks that President Obama and Osama bin Laden are somehow the same person; that Obama is a secret Muslim; that the Boston bombings were a "false flag"; that the CIA murdered Buzzfeed journalist Michael Hastings; and that the Department of Homeland Security is stockpiling ammunition in order to slaughter Americans.

On her Facebook page, Andrews identifies as a fan of two 9-11 conspiracy theory movies, a documentary that postulates that the government may be secretly injecting aluminum into the atmosphere to block the sun's rays, and a film based on the lectures of British conspiracy theorist David Icke, who believes a secret race of lizard people run the world. (Radio host Peter Santilli, who has appeared in press reports as a spokesperson for the event, is also a 9-11 conspiracy theorist. Santilli made news earlier this year when he suggested Hillary Clinton should be "shot in the vagina" for treason.) 

[  ]....Some lowlights:

In a comment posted to YouTube in mid-2013, Andrews encourages people to "do your research" and lays out her theory that "Osama Bin Laden is our President Obama," explaining that they "have same height, bone structure, hands and ears both are left handed":

The fact that these soldiers were set up to die in a no return operation is obvious they had knowledge that Obama didn't want leaked. This is the Seals that killed Osama Bin Laden. I don't believe this story. He is alive call me crazy but, Osama Bin Laden is our President Obama do your research. The CIA has been preparing for this since he was a boy. They have same height, bone structure, hands and ears both are left handed the Osama face was created by Hollywood. The fox is in the hen house.

In an April 18 post to Facebook, Andrews wrote that "False Flag describes the Boston bombing to a tee." In a comment on her photo, Andrews added, "A OP to destroy the American people gone bad":

On July 17, Andrews posted a picture of a sign declaring that the death of Buzzfeed journalist Michael Hastings "was not an accident." She captioned the photo "CIA murder":

Andrews' Facebook page includes numerous photos suggesting President Obama is a secret Muslim, including:

Among the movies Andrews "likes" on Facebook are 9-11 truther movies Loose Change and 9/11: Press for Truth, a movie about chemtrail conspiracies (the notion that long-lasting airplane contrails are actually chemicals sprayed into the atmosphere by the government) called What in the World Are They Spraying, and The Lion Sleeps No More, featuring lectures by David Icke, a British conspiracy theorist famous for his theory that a clan of lizard people secretly controls the world.

Other pages that Andrews "likes" on Facebook include the interests "Chemtrails," "9-11 Truth movement," and "Food storage," as well as a variety of pages related to the Founding Fathers.

In a July 30 post on Facebook, Andrews reprinted a fabricated news report (that apparently made the rounds on conspiracy message boards) alleging that Edward Snowden had revealed that the government is using a research station in Alaska to project "ultra-high-powered radio waves" that "operate at the same electronic frequency  as the truncus encephali, or brain stem, selectively inducing deaths seemingly by natural causes."

Most truckers are patriotic pro-labor Americans who would never participate in a rally by some ;plastic nutbars and their weirdo conspiracy theories ringleader.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Patriotic American Are Not on The Side of Crazy Conservatives Who Want to Shutdown Government

Patriotic American Are Not on The Side of Crazy Conservatives Who Want to Shutdown Government

As lawmakers attempt to pass a funding bill to keep the government operating past Monday, House Republicans won’t agree to avert a shutdown unless Obamacare is delayed for one year. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who has been pushing this anti-Obamacare strategy for weeks, claims this represents a “compromise.”

But the American public doesn’t necessarily agree. Even as the deadline for passing a continuing resolution draws near, the vast majority of Americans still don’t want Congress to delay or defund the health reform law, according to the results from a new tracking poll.

The Morning Consult group finds that just seven percent of voters support delaying or defunding Obamacare. On the other hand, 39 percent of voters want Congress to either let the law take effect or expand the law even further. Another 29 percent think that Congress should work on making improvements to Obamacare, but ultimately leave the law in place. By a two to one margin, the poll’s respondents said “the results from the 2012 presidential election represented a referendum on moving forward with the Affordable Care Act.”

In a memo regarding the new results, the Morning Consult group notes that voters have ultimately been “unmoved by three months of the defund argument.”

Morning Consult’s results track with earlier research that has found that most Americans want to give the health reform law an opportunity to work. A recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and USA Today found that even when Americans don’t support Obamacare, they still want lawmakers to try to make it work rather than try to undermine it. And Morning Consult’s last tracking poll found that even Republicans don’t favor defunding the health law.

And if the government does end up being forced to shut down because of Republican brinkmanship over Obamacare, the majority of voters say they’ll put “a lot” of the blame on GOP lawmakers in Congress. According to the new poll, nearly eight in 10 independent voters say they’ll blame congressional Republicans for a shutdown.

In an analysis of the new polling results, conservative health policy columnist Avik Roy acknowledges that Americans “don’t view the law in the apocalyptic terms that many conservatives do.” Even though Cruz — who recently conducted a fake filibuster to speak out against Obamacare for over 20 hours — claims that “the American people overwhelmingly reject Obamacare,” Roy notes that doesn’t mean the public actually supports shutting down the government in order to get rid of it.

Only parts of Obamacare or the ACA have been put into effect and millions of Americans are reaping the benefits for their families. Conservatives want to use blackmail and fiscal hostage taking to go against the will of the American people. Conservative do not and never have believed in government by and for the people. It is a freaky political philosophy partly based on mid 20th century fascism and partly on old world rule by monarchs and the elite. It is not an American political party.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Debt ceiling games, Republicans want to hold the country hostage to make the elite richer and workers even more powerless

 Debt ceiling games, Republicans want to hold the country hostage to make the elite richer and workers even more powerless
The House Republican position is that the debt ceiling — a threat to wreak economic havoc — is a legitimate bargaining chip in budget negotiations.

Party leaders at least understand that the debt ceiling must and will be increased, but hope to use the threat of defaulting on the national debt to extract some relatively modest concessions, if possible.

But some number of House Republicans — it’s unclear how many, but probably around 40 — don’t see it that way. They believe the debt limit — a statutory anomaly that should be abolished — should serve as a sort of tie-breaker in divided government that allows the legislature, or even one branch of it, to turn the presidency into an office of nominal leadership. To turn the president into a figurehead who has no choice but to accede to the legislative wishes of the party he or she defeated in the general election.

Why am I so confident they actually believe this?

Because they took a look at the outrageous list of demands the GOP leadership attached to the party’s debt limit increase proposal and said, “not good enough.”

Late Thursday afternoon, House GOP leaders acknowledged that their debt limit bill, which they haven’t even released yet, lacks the votes to pass. “We still have some challenges,” said Rep. Tom Cole R-Okla, a deputy whip and a John Boehner ally, according to The Hill. “We’ve got an awful lot of support, but clearly at this point we don’t have a final product that’s attracting the number that we need. Hopefully that’ll change, and I think it could.”

The House proposal (at least as originally conceived) is a grab bag of GOP goodies, most of which were bullet points in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign platform. But it lacks the most controversial elements of the GOP agenda — Medicare privatization, Medicaid devolution — and as such doesn’t cut enough spending for some of the most hardline conservatives in the House Republican conference. It also doesn’t include any abortion restrictions.

As such, Boehner and his leadership team can’t whip up 217 Republicans (the current threshold for passage) to back it, and since zero Democrats will support their crazy plan, it’s dead. At least as currently written.

Now I obviously think this whole approach is nuts. But at least in its current form you can construe the plan as a weird starting point from which Republicans will ultimately begin dialing back demands and, in the end, come up empty handed, or at most with minor concessions, in exchange for increasing the debt limit.

But for those 20, 40, 60, however many Republicans, this isn’t how the debt limit should be wielded. The demand should be the totality of the party platform, with no room for negotiation. Or at the very least the party shouldn’t signal willingness to negotiate by leaving major priorities off the table.

When your House majority is 233 members, 20 is enough to threaten your Speakership. As such, instead of telling the hardliners to take a hike, GOP leaders are going to negotiate with them, in the hope of altering the debt limit plan in a way that achieves a Republican-only majority for passage. As loudly as they’re insisting that President Obama should negotiate with him, they don’t have a workable position of their own from which to negotiate. They could quite easily if they were willing to work with Democrats. But John Boehner isn’t ready to lead yet.

Does that mean we’re doomed to default on the debt? I don’t think so. Boehner might not be ready to lead, but he’s also not ready to destroy the economy. The middle way between those two seemingly incompatible “priorities” is to “fight” to the bitter end, but accede to reality at the last possible minute.

That’s what he’s doing right now in the ongoing effort to fund the government, which is set to shut down at the end of Monday. It’s a performance he’ll likely repeat over the next three weeks ahead of the debt limit deadline. Unless he can’t appease the hardliners enough to pass a crazy GOP debt limit bill. In that case, he’ll have to go hat in hand to Democrats for help directly — a recognition that he doesn’t even have the semblance of a governing majority, and that his hardliners are more or less done with him.

Maybe then he’ll accept reality and pick the “leadership” option.

Conservative shadow money from weirdo UnAmerican outfits like the Free Enterprise Institute ( they hate the free market, but love crony corporatism) and the Chamber of Commerce ( the voice of lazy millionaires and companies that have been shipping jobs to Asia for decades)  is pushing for a government shutdown, hoping that it will all be blamed on Democrats.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Conservative Republican Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) Has Serious Delusions

Conservative Republican Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) Has Serious Delusions 

The Congressman who once encouraged House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to attack Obamacare’s 10 percent tax on tanning bed services as racist against white people sought to compare the GOP’s latest push to defund the health care law to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.

“It only takes one with passion — look at Rosa Parks, Lech Walesa, Martin Luther King,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) told the New York Times on Thursday. “People with passion that speak up, they’ll have people follow them because they believe the same way, and smart leadership listens to that.”

Though King is best remembered for his work on racial integration, he was also strong champion for the labor movement, fighting against economic inequality and for equal access to health care for all. As he said during a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights in 1966, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

The GOP’s push to defund and ultimately repeal the health care law would leave millions of uninsured Americans without access to health care coverage and would disproportionately impact the African American community. Blacks are 8 percent more likely to lack health insurance than whites, and a recent study found that the health care law could cut that differential in half.

Like the rest of the plastic patriots who call themselves tea bagger conservatives, Yoho does not feel that the American people have the right and the freedom to join together to provide health insurance for ourselves. he and other tea baggers do believe that men, women, children, the elderly and disabled do have the right to die and stop being a burden on Congress critters like Yoho who makes $179,000 dollars a year and his health insurance is subsidized by the American people. Yoho is a social-Darwinist, the UnAmerican political philosophy that fueled the fascist movements of the mid 20th century. The ACA or Obamacare is helping millions of American families.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fox News Nutty Conservatives Continue War on Women

Fox News Nutty Conservatives Continue War on Women

Fox News medical contributor Dr. David Samadi falsely claimed that he had only been "complimenting" women on their higher use of preventive health services than men when responding to criticism of his earlier call for higher health insurance premiums for women.

In an August 27 appearance on Fox & Friends, Samadi argued that women should pay more than men for health insurance because "they are using the [health care] system a lot more than we are, so they go through a lot of preventive screening, they give birth, they have the whole mammogram, pap smears." He also cited the fact that "women live longer" and that "women have the breasts, they have the ovaries, they have the uterus," while men "only have the prostate," as evidence for why women should pay more for insurance. After his appearance, Samadi was intensely criticized for his comments.

A week later, on the September 3 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade invited Samadi "to clear up" his previous statements about the difference in medical costs between men and women. Samadi misleadingly characterized his earlier comments as a "compliment" to women:  

    SAMADI: One of the things I said is women are excellent -- and this was a compliment to them. Is that they are very proactive and they go get screened. In my practice it's the women that bring men to our practice because they just -- men don't go get checked. So just like the mammogram, when U.S. task force said women, we don't want you to get mammograms, they went after, they fought for it, and they went ahead with mammograms. With men, when they said no PSAs, everybody said OK. Sound good to me, I'm gonna go watch my sports.

Samadi's explanation of his August 27 comments whitewashes his more outlandish points. Marie Claire blogger Maura Brannigan noted the ridiculousness of Samadi's decision to count the number of diagnosable body parts in determining appropriate health coverage costs, and Slate's Amanda Marcotte highlighted Samadi's evidence-free defense of his claim that women deserve to pay more for childbirth:

    As Gretchen Carlson couldn't help but point out in reference to childbirth costs, starting a pregnancy takes two people, but bringing it to fruition only takes one. Samadi didn't really have a good rejoinder to that. "Not always," he said, creating one of those situations where you really wish a follow-up question was asked. Was he suggesting that the ridiculously small number of pregnancies created in single or lesbian women by sperm donors was justification enough to spare men the responsibility of sharing childbirth costs?

Experts have previously noted that women face discrimination in purchasing health insurance, and will continue to until the Affordable Care Act's provision banning the practice known as "gender rating" comes into effect in January, 2014. As the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) has noted, women "are charged more for health coverage simply because they are women." According to the NWLC, in the individual market, 92 percent of the best-selling healthcare plans charge different rates for men and women of the same age, and as a result, women pay an overall $1 billion more per year. This difference holds true even of plans that do not cover gender-specific care for women, like maternity care. From the NWLC:

    Furthermore, our research shows a wide variation in the differences women are charged both within and across states--even with maternity care excluded. For example, one plan examined in Arkansas charges 25-year-old women 81% more than men for coverage while a similar plan in the same state only charges women 10% more for coverage than men. Neither plan covers maternity care. It's hard to justify or explain that variation.

Conservatives continue to paint women as either being too concerned about preventative medicine or the gender that requires too much medical maintenance. That is even though there is no evidence to support any of their lame brain theories. Conservatives feel like if they sit around and jawbone an issue for a while they have come to an informed opinion. Which is like a physicist looking at the stars for a hour or so and claiming to have all the answers about the galaxy we live in, no empirical studies required.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day: Why Does Fox News Hate American Workers

Labor Day: Why Does Fox News Hate American Workers

Fox's Charles Payne attempted to discredit fast-food workers' planned attempt to organize for union representation and a higher minimum wage by falsely claiming workers are arguing for a sliding scale of extra income. 

Neil Cavuto hosted Fox Business contributor Charles Payne on the August 28 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto to discuss protests planned by fast-food workers, who are demanding higher pay and the right to unionize. Payne claimed during the segment that employers don't owe a debt to their employees and mischaracterized the minimum wage increase as a sliding scale of pay:

    PAYNE: Listen, I don't begrudge anyone for trying to earn extra money, but what they're essentially saying is that their salary should be doubled from where they are. It doesn't match the skill set. Now, if we start to talk about this -- and listen, it's something that's been echoed all day long with theme of the March on Washington -- that somehow corporations owe a debt to people who work for them. So if Susan has two kids, she gets X amount of income, then she has another child, then the corporation should pay more money specifically because they owe her a debt and she had another kid -- sort of the responsibility or the welfare state that's been such a burden on America is now being thrusted, or attempted to be thrusted on the shoulders of corporate America.

But workers aren't demanding a sliding scale of income. They're organizing for fair representation at work and a single minimum wage increase. As Ezra Klein explained: "most workers have less power to negotiate raises than they did a generation ago":

    The problem is severe enough that it earned a mention at the beginning of President Obama's 2013 State of the Union address. "We gather here knowing that there are millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded," he said. "Our economy is adding jobs - but too many people still can't find full-time employment. Corporate profits have rocketed to all-time highs - but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged."

    There are many explanations for why labor's share of income is falling. Globalization, automation, skills-based technological change and the decline of unions all play a part. But in the end, all these explanations end up saying the same thing: Most workers have less power to negotiate raises than they did a generation ago. And that's truest for those who making the least money and holding the fewest skills.

The workers' planned action is, according to the Boston Globe, the latest in a series of protests by low-wage workers that first gained attention last November and gathered momentum after summer fast-food strikes across the country's largest cities:

    The fast-food employees' uprising has been gaining momentum since a few hundred workers staged a one-day strike in New York in November, followed by demonstrations in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and several major Midwestern cities this summer.

    Their movement is part of a mounting wave of actions by low-wage-workers, including picketing at more than 1,000 Walmart stores on Black Friday last November and an appeal by airport contract workers for better working conditions.

Beyond increasing their at-work negotiating power, fast-food workers are organizing to pull themselves and their families above the federal poverty line. The Los Angeles Times noted that low-wage workers across the country "are struggling to provide basic necessities for themselves and their families" and raising the minimum wage would, according to a study by the Restaurant Opportunity Centers United, have a dramatic effect on pulling the working poor out of poverty:

    The study, by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a national organization focusing on racial equity in the restaurant industry, discovered that nearly 58 percent-- or roughly 6 million -- of the 10.4 million U.S. workers living below the federal poverty level in 2011 would be pulled out by such an increase. (Proposed legislation introduced to Congress earlier this year by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) called for just that.)

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines the working poor as those who either had jobs, or were looking for at least half the year and still fell below the poverty line.

    The federal minimum wage -- currently set at $7.25 -- was last increased in 2009.

American workers are subsidized the salaries of executives making hundreds of thousands to multimillion dollar salaries. Those workers make the salaries of those executives possible. They make the corporate profits which are paid to share holders possible. people making less than a living wage are supporting the very wealthy. In the mean time some of those employees are forced to collect federal food assistance to survive, which middle-class tax payers subsidize. We don't practice capitalism in the USA we practice a type of corrupt cronyism with the rich living off the work of the working poor.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

America Hating Radical Rafael Cruz Goes On The Road Using God To Cover His Lies About Obamacare

America Hating Radical Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Goes On The Road using God To Cover His Lies About Obamacare
In a fiery speech about defunding President Barack Obama’s health care reform law on Thursday, Rafael Cruz, the father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), told a crowd that “they may take our lives,” but “they cannot take our honor.”

At a town hall in Wilmington, Delaware sponsored by Heritage Action, Rafael Cruz joined anti-Obamacare crusader Jim DeMint, who has launched a nine-city tour to rally Americans against the law.

“We can be complacent no more, we can be silent no more!” the Texas pastor exclaimed. “You know, we have seen our lives under attack. Our quality of life is being eroded more and more and more as our liberties are taken away. As regulations and more taxation, we are seeing our lives being destroyed.”

The Cruz family has long been an anti-American radical family spreading lies to advance their proto-fascist agenda. The fact is that Obamacare or the Affordable care Act will help and is helping millions of Americans with their healthcare costs which have been rising about 14 percent a year for the twenty years. It is a private market solution, that might well not be perfect, but the utterly dishonorable Cruz is spreading the same lies Sarah Pail and other Anti-American zealots have been spreading for years. Taxes? Cruz is not just lying, he is being just plain old evil - wrapping lies in fake patriotism and the Bible is evil. Taxes are at historic lows, the lowest since the 1950s. Cruz senior and junior have no honor, no integrity, no ethics, no sense of American values, yet being a combination of delusional and venal they just keep running their mouths.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Lazy, Pro Dog Fighting Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Who Sponges $179 Thousand a Year From Tax Payers Goes Full Nutbar

 The Lazy, Pro Dog Fighting Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Who Sponges $179 Thousand a Year From Tax Payers Goes Full Nutbar

The trick to fixing the toughest job market since the Great Depression is to send jobless Americans to bed without supper, according to Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Speaking in Charleston, South Carolina on Monday, after arguing that there are over 100 million Americans not even trying to find work, King said, “If you had six kids and a third of your kids would say, ‘I’m not doing the chores, mom… If any of them say I refuse, I’m not gonna participate, I’m not gonna contribute to the American GDP, pretty soon those kids would be on the ‘you get to eat after you do the work,’ not just in hopes that you might one day do the work.” After a brief diversion into immigration reform, King added, “I wanna see more Americans step up.”

But the unemployed, unlike the shiftless children King imagines them to be, seek jobs against huge obstacles. There are currently three job seekers for every job opening in the country — and that is the lowest that ratio has been in years. The severity of the Great Recession has made long-term unemployment far more common than in previous economic downturns, and being unemployed for nine months has the same impact on your odds of getting hired as losing four full years of experience from a résumé. The longer a person’s jobless stint, the worse her odds of ending it become. Millions of the people King disparaged as lazy brats on Monday night have gone back to school in hopes of bettering their job prospects, have retired early after failing to find work, or been looking for jobs for three years without success.

If the analogy is new, the core belief is not. King famously said in 2011 that America has become “a nation of slackers” due to social safety net programs. That view is broadly shared within the conservative media and conservative political movement. Earlier this summer, other congressional Republicans justified their support for food stamp cuts through an erroneous citation of the Bible which they claimed instructs the faithful not to feed anyone who doesn’t work. Last year, presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a private gathering of supporters that half the country is so dependent on government, “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

King may also qualify as one of dumbest nutbars in Congress or he is lying. King wants everyone to blame the jobless for not having a job, not blame corporate America for not hiring and not paying a living wage when it does hire people. King is a conman, a grifter, a peddler of snake-oil who wants everyone to see the illsion of people riding high on the hog of government benefits, when it is the policies of conservatism that caused the economy to crash and has created the worse income inequality since the days of feudal lords and serfs.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why Does Conservative Radical Laura Ingraham Hate Black Americans and American Values

Why Does Conservative Radical Laura Ingraham Hate Black Americans and American Values
Conservative radio host and Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham attacked the speakers at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, at one point using the sound of a gunshot to cut off a sound bite of civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) -- a man whose skull was infamously fractured by a state trooper on "Bloody Sunday" in Selma, AL, in 1965. Ingraham used the speech's anniversary to race-bait about black-on-white crime statistics and hosted Pat Buchanan to bemoan the idea that minorities face any higher level of adversity in America 50 years later.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC over the weekend to commemorate and recreate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington, an event originally dedicated to calling for civil and economic rights for African Americans. CBS News reported that the 50th anniversary event -- part of a week-long build-up to Wednesday's anniversary -- "was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Martin Luther King III and the NAACP, featured a roster of speakers, including King, Sharpton, Attorney General Eric Holder, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. They spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where 50 years ago this month King delivered his famous 'I Have A Dream' speech."

On her August 26 radio broadcast, Ingraham criticized the event and its speakers, saying the goal "was to co-opt the legacy of Martin Luther King into a modern-day liberal agenda," and scoffing at the topics speakers supposedly discussed: "From gay marriage, to immigration -- amnesty, was thrown in for good measure. We talked about the Voting Rights Act."

Ingraham ran through a list of African-American crime rates before hosting Pat Buchanan, a prominent racist with white nationalist ties. Buchanan dismissed the idea that minorities suffer any disadvantages in contemporary America, calling the idea "absurd" because "black folks excel and are hugely popular figures in everything from sports to entertainment to athletics to politics. Everywhere you go ... So the progress has been enormous."

At one point during her broadcast, Ingraham began playing a clip of Lewis' speech from the 50th anniversary rally, before interrupting the playback of his comments with the sound of a loud gunshot.

Ingraham's use of a gunshot sound effect to cut off a prominent civil rights leader is troubling given the shroud of violence that surrounded the civil rights movement of the 1960s and '70s, when civil rights activists were literally silenced by assassins' bullets. Martin Luther King, whose famous "I Have A Dream" speech is celebrated today, was shot and killed by an assassin at the age of 39.

The use of violent sound effects adjacent to Lewis' comments is particularly jarring, because Lewis himself was the victim of violence as a result of his support for civil rights. Lewis, who was the youngest speaker at the original March on Washington event, helped lead a march in Selma in an effort to secure equal voting rights for minorities. The march became infamous for the violence perpetrated upon the activists by the Alabama State Police -- Lewis suffered a fractured skull at the hands of state police officers.

Why didn't the American values hating Ingrham ask about the white crime rate or why men commit most violent crimes. Why didn't she wonder about why southern whites collect the most government benefits. One reason the speakers did not discuss anything but civil rights at the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, is because they kept on topic. Why doesn't the Miss America pageant discuss particle physics. maybe because that s not what the pageant is about. Why doesn't the anti-American conservative movement discuss why they are doing everything in their power to end American ideals of democracy, justice, economic justice, the right to privacy and the right of women to be full citizens with full human rights. Why doesn't Ingrahm discuss how she was part of the lie machine that got over 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq for no good reason except it was supposed to make conservatives look good on national security.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

It Is a Shame That Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is an UnAmerican White Supremacist

It Is a Shame That Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) is an UnAmerican White Supremacist

At a meet and greet fundraiser last week, Maine’s Republican Governor Paul LePage told a room full of supporters that President Obama “hates white people.”

The comments, which were picked up by the Portland Press Herald, came during a speech from the governor at a private fundraiser in Belgrade, ME. Donors from across the state were invited to meet LePage and the state’s new party chairman Rick Bennett.

The speech was not recorded, but the paper managed to get confirmation from a couple of attendees:

    Two Republican lawmakers confirmed the comment when asked directly by a Press Herald reporter, but asked that their names be withheld for fear of political retribution. Each said LePage talked about how Obama could have been the best president ever if he highlighted his biracial heritage. But, LePage said, the president hasn’t done that because he hates white people.

    “Yeah, he said it,” said one lawmaker. “It was one little thing from a speech, but I think most people there thought it was totally inappropriate.”

The statement is reminiscent of equally inflammatory comments made by conservative shock jocks like Glenn Beck and Rush Lumbaugh.

The governor’s senior political adviser Brent Littlefield eventually released a statement after the remark began to circulate in the state media, saying that any insinuation that LePage was a racist seemed “farfetched.” According to the Press Herald, the statement also cited LePage’s past involvement in Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration events, though neglected to mention the instance in which the governor declined an invitation to participate in a similar event from the NAACP and told the civil rights organization to “kiss my butt.”

Since assuming office in 2011, LePage has left a trail of controversy in his wake. Last year, he likened the IRS to “the new gestapo,” (IRS facts) warning that the agency would one day be in the business of “killing lots of people.” He denounced the most recent Democratic budget by making an anal rape joke, vowed to repeal Maine’s child labor laws, and blacklisted three of the state’s biggest newspapers after they published a report excoriating his administration for undermining the state’s environmental protections.

LePage uses language in the wink and nod doublespeak of white supremacists. Every piece of pro American legislation that President Obama has signed into law helps Americans and American families of all races, greed and religions. Lepage is practicing the identity politics of the radical anti-American Right. Like most of the conservative movement Lepage has nothing but contempt for American families and American values like honor and common decency.

Monday, August 19, 2013

If Conservative Republicans Love America Why Did They Crash The Economy

If Conservative Republicans Love America Why Did They Crash The Economy

The onset of the recent financial crisis in late 2007 created an intellectual crisis for conservatives, who had been touting for decades the benefits of a hands-off approach to financial market regulation. As the crisis quickly spiraled out of control, it quickly became apparent that the massive credit bubble of the mid-2000s, followed by the inevitable bust that culminated with the financial markets freeze in the fall of 2008, occurred predominantly among those parts of the financial system that were least regulated, or where regulations existed but were largely unenforced.

Predictably, many conservatives sought to blame the bogeymen they always blamed. In March of 2008, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) blamed loans “to the minorities, to the poor, to the young” as causing foreclosures. Not long after, conservative commentator Michele Malkin went so far as to claim that illegal immigration caused the crisis.

This tendency to shift blame to minorities and poor people for the financial crisis soon developed into a well-honed narrative on the right. Swiftly and repeatedly many conservatives blamed affordable housing policies—particularly the affordable housing goals in place for the two government sponsored mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act that applies to regulated lenders such as banks and thrifts—for the massive financial crisis that occurred. This despite the fact that as recently as 2006 prominent conservatives, including FCIC Republican member and American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Peter Wallison, were arguing that Fannie and Freddie needed to do more lending to low-income communities and minorities.

Last week, the Republican minority on the congressionally created Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission continued this tradition of willful blindness, issuing their own self-described nine-page "primer" on the financial crisis—one that attempts to lay the blame once again on Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Community Reinvestment Act. The picture they paint is reflective of a mindset they displayed last week when all four Republican members tried to ban the phrases "Wall Street," "shadow banking," "interconnection," and "deregulation" from the final report.

These terms are important to understanding what happened in the 2000s. But equally damning is this—the minority members of the FCIC got their facts wrong, their time frames jumbled, and their selection of relevant facts skewed to reflect their libertarian biases. The ideological imperative to blame the government, and more importantly to avoid the culpability of laissez faire economics, have overridden all other considerations, including those of actually looking at the facts.

As the FCIC staff reports released so far in the run up to the final report have demonstrated, the primary fuel of the financial crisis was a hands-off approach to regulation. This ideologically driven lack of regulatory oversight allowed tremendous growth of the "shadow banking system," a largely unregulated web of complex financial transactions that essentially served the same functions as the existing banking system—attracting short-term funds from those seeking safe, liquid investments and using these to finance long-term loans, particularly residential mortgages—but without government oversight to ensure that these activities were being done safely and soundly.

As the FCIC staff reports demonstrate fairly conclusively, it was the shadow banking system’s unregulated private securitization of mortgages that caused the financial crisis, not affordable housing policies. The FCIC staff has done an excellent job of compiling the facts, and we encourage you to check out the FCIC’s comprehensive reports to date. In our view, below are their most persuasive arguments,
Look at the market share

The market activities of the relevant parties clearly show the problem with the argument made by the minority FCIC members. The market shares of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and CRA-regulated lending institutions dropped tremendously during the housing bubble. Meanwhile, the market share of private mortgage securitization, which the FCIC majority largely blames for the crisis, and which the FCIC minority completely ignores, grew in lockstep with the rise of the housing bubble.

The relative market share of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped fairly dramatically during the 2000s bubble, from a high of 57 percent of all new mortgage originations in 2003, down to 37 percent at the height of the bubble in 2005 and 2006. Notably, this decline occurred contemporaneously with the unsupported rise in housing prices and the deterioration in underwriting standards that virtually all observers blame for the collapse of the housing markets.

Similarly, the market share of financial institutions for which CRA applied has been steadily declining since 1977, when CRA was passed. CRA-regulated institutions, primarily banks and thrifts, accounted for only 28 percent of all mortgages originated in 2006 (the height of the bubble), a significant decline from their share in the late 1990s and early 2000s. As with Fannie and Freddie, this market share drop occurred in lockstep with the rise of the housing bubble.

In contrast, the market share of private mortgage securitization, a pillar of the “shadow banking system” that was not backed by the federal government and not regulated for safety and soundness in the way that Fannie, Freddie, and regulated banks and thrifts were, rose sharply and contemporaneously with the rise of the housing bubble. In 2002, the share of mortgages originated by private securitization was just over 10 percent of the total market. Over the next four years, this share grew rapidly, accounting for nearly 40 percent of all mortgage originations by 2006. As a percentage of all mortgage-backed securities, private securitization grew from 23 percent in 2003 to 56 percent in 2006.
Look at the default rates

Equally conclusive are the default rates of mortgages originated for these various lending channels. If the conservative view was correct, one would expect to see mortgages originated for Fannie and Freddie securitization, as well as those originated for purposes of CRA, to default at higher rates, since these were the loans directly subject to affordable housing policies. In fact, we see quite the opposite, as these loans have performed exponentially better than those originated for private securitization, which the FCIC Republicans ignore.

Mortgages originated for private securitization defaulted at much higher rates than those originated for Fannie and Freddie securitization, even when controlling for all other factors (such as the fact that Fannie and Freddie securitized virtually no subprime loans). Overall, private securitization mortgages defaulted at more than six times the rate of those originated for Fannie and Freddie securitization.

Similarly, mortgages originated for CRA purposes have performed at much higher rates than loans originated for private securitization, going into foreclosure 60 percent less often than loans originated by independent mortgage companies that were key to providing the mortgages needed to supply private securitization.

But even if these facts didn’t exist, the FCIC Republican narrative fails miserably in explaining the financial crisis. To illustrate why it fails, let’s perform a simple thought experiment our colleague Matthew Yglesias has suggested: Let us suppose that the GOP’s argument is correct, and that government affordable housing policies were 100 percent responsible for the housing bubble and the flood of unsustainable mortgages that were originated during the 2000s.

How could the FCIC Republican argument possibly explain the analogous housing and financial bubbles that occurred contemporaneously in other countries such as Iceland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Denmark, which did not have Fannie or Freddie Mac or CRA? The FCIC majority argument has a plausible and compelling explanation for the global credit bubble—that an unregulated and overleveraged shadow banking system systematically underpriced credit risk. The FCIC Republican minority has no explanation for these contemporaneous bubble-bust cycles that occurred in other countries.

Or consider that a virtually identical bubble occurred in the U.S. commercial real estate mortgage market. There is no government policy FCIC Republicans can point to that encouraged lenders to loosen underwriting standards for malls or office buildings. (see graph at link)

Commercial versus residential real estate

What’s more, this commercial real estate had a large exposure to private securitization, as did credit card debt, student loans, and auto loans, all of which experienced bubble-bust cycles that were similar to that which happened in residential real estate. (see graph)

Asset-backed securities issuance

Moreover, the FCIC minority narrative fails to explain the huge private-sector demand for subprime and Alt-A mortgages, or the mortgage-backed securities created out of these mortgages. The crux of the FCIC Republican argument is the affordable housing goals and CRA created the demand for risky subprime and Alt-A mortgages, which in turn created the huge demand for the private mortgage-backed securities that led to the 2000s housing bubble.

But this ignores the huge existing demand for private mortgage-backed securities. Even after Fannie and Freddie plunged into the market for these mortgage-backed securities, they never accounted for more than a fraction of the demand for these securities. (see graph)

Fannie and Freddie accounted for a fraction of the demand for private mortgage-backed securities issued between 1998 and 2007

Instead, the common thread was under-regulation at every level of the financial system leading to a general real estate bubble. The bursting of the bubble first in the subprime home mortgage market was a symptom of just how little consumer protection was left, as federal regulators told state authorities who tried to stop more abusive mortgage companies to stand down due to federal preemption doctrines.

Minorities were one group that banks took the most advantage of.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Thoughtful Patriotic Americans Do Not Support Crony Corporate Fracking

Thoughtful Patriotic Americans Do Not Support Crony Corporate Fracking
We are well into summer 2013, and in the West temperatures are high, wildfires are raging, and droughts are in effect in many states. Mora County, NM bans fracking, June 2013.

One state that has been hit particularly hard is New Mexico.  Nearly 90 percent of the state is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions, and the Rio Grande is now often referred to as the “Rio Sand.”  This is why a recent headline in the Albuquerque Journal titled “NM Farmers Selling Water to Oil and Gas Developers” makes absolutely no sense.  In fact, it reflects the sheer folly and arrogance of humankind.

The paper reported that some farmers in New Mexico, who have been impacted by the drought, have been selling water to the oil and gas industry for fracking (hydraulic fracturing refers to the process by which fluid is injected into wells under high pressure to create cracks and fissures in rock formations that improve the production of these wells).  Some are even pumping precious water from aquifers to sell to frackers.

A New Mexican water official said “The oil and gas industry is requiring a lot of water and our concern is the effect it’s having on our aquifer,” he added. “We are concerned about losing water that can’t be recovered. Hopefully, we will get through this drought and everyone will be intact.”

On top of the insanity of desperate farmers selling water for fracking is the number of people still moving to arid places, and the impact on the environment.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times – “New Mexico is the Driest of the Dry” – noted that “As Western cities continue their march into wildlands, the growing desert and the sprawling suburbs are on a collision course.”  At least in New Mexico the population is barely growing, but there is the ever constant push for more and more unsustainable development.

Facts on Fracking and Water

The Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization, reported in its 2012 study Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction that “The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) reports that fracturing shale gas wells requires between 2.3 million and 3.8 million gallons of water per well.  An additional 40,000 – 1,000,000 gallons is required to drill the well.”  The authors also found that “New data, however, suggest that the water requirements for fracking shale gas wells might be both much larger and more variable than is reported by the U.S. EPA.”

Lastly, the Pacific Institute study also noted that “Water for hydraulic fracturing is typically withdrawn from one location or watershed over several days. Additionally, in some cases, the water is taken from “remote, often environmentally sensitive headwater areas”, where even small withdrawals can have a significant impact on the flow regime.”

Business as Usual or a Move to Clean Energy?

The farmers mustn’t be faulted for trying to survive in a tough business and climate conditions.  Those who can and should be faulted are those pushing business as usual.  The evidence that society must get off fossil fuels is too great to be ignored.   The oil and gas industry are certainly guilty, as are their lobbyists and political supporters, and of course, climate change deniers.

But consumers who continue to ignore the call to invest in clean energy play a huge role too.  When enough people demand sustainable energy options and are willing to pay the price for dirty fuel (such as a carbon or gas tax), more decision-makers will listen.

The fracking companies will take what they want and leave.  Business as usual is too high of a price to pay.  We won’t get off natural gas and other fossil fuels until we prioritize and invest in clean energy.  Additionally, arid regions will need to stabilize population growth and end sprawl. 

Joe Romm of Climate Progress stated it well when he wrote “You’d think state officials would see the value for farmers and residents in sustainable consumption given where the climate is headed.”  This applies to communities not just in New Mexico, but everywhere.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Suzanne York is Senior Writer with the Institute for Population Studies, where she writes the blog She is a contributing author to Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples' Resistance to Globalization (Sierra Club Books).

Fracking is all about a hand full of already very wealthy people getting even wealthier. As usual they warp their message in free enterprise, dire warnings of higher fuel prices ( like they're not going to rise them anyway), the flag and even God. These greedy plutocrats are as shameless as they are greedy.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Sleaziest Anti-American Things Conservatives Have Said This Week

The Sleaziest Anti-American Things Conservatives Have Said This Week
1. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL): Obama’s tax on tanning beds is racist

You may have heard about the frantic, delusional attempts in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to block, prevent, defund, wage war on and just outright deny the reality of Obamacare. These might be comical if they were not actually hurting real people who are suffering, and in some case dying because of lack of health care.

Rep. Ted Yoho probably thought he came up with a real smart argument this week when he went after a provision in Obamacare which places a 10 percent tax on tanning beds. ‘Das racist,’ he said, because dark people don’t need to tan. Here’s a little reality check for Mr. Yoho, as pointed out by Jamelle Bouie in The Daily Beast. Nobody needs to tan. Sitting under the ultraviolet light of tanning beds is bad for you.

“Risk for melanoma increases by 75 percent when people begin tanning before the age of 35, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer [3].

...2. Rick Santorum: Liberals Make It Uncomfortable to Shower at the YMCA

Okay, pay attention here, because this is one of those convoluted arguments that only the deranged ultra-Conservative brain can produce. For those of a more progressive and logical ilk, it’ll be a real mind bender. Former, and perhaps future, Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently told a group of anti-abortion students (misleadingly called Students for Life) that liberals who support abortion rights “make it uncomfortable” for them to shower at the YMCA.

Here’s the background: The Town Lake Branch of the YMCA in Austin did in fact ban the “pro-life” group, who had come to town to support Texas’ severe abortion-restricting legislation, from using their facilities because the group was blatantly proselytizing, disrupting other members, and generally using the YMCA as a forum to express their political views. Some YMCA staff even said the group was intimidating the people who worked there.

Santorum flipped this all around by telling the “Right-to-Life” students that this was a leftist plot.  “Because they live it. They’re passionate. They’re willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company.

3. 3. Rep. Louie Gohmert: Brags about having ‘duct-taped’ a defendant’s head, then later in the week manages to blend his Islamaphobia with his anti-Latino racism.

With some extra time on his hands, Tea Partier Louis Gohmert enjoyed stepping in it at least twice this week.

First, on Fox News on Tuesday, he regaled host Sean Hannity with a delightful little memory from his days as a judge in criminal court in Texas.  “I had one guy that was particularly out of line, and I warned him three times and then we duct-taped his head,” Gohmert told Hannity. “And we didn’t hear from him until it was his turn to talk.”

“That’s when you were a judge?” Hannity wondered. Even he was a little taken aback.

“That’s when I was a judge in felony court,” Gohmert replied. “Gave him three warnings, made the record and then wrapped him up.”

4. Rep. Steve King: Global Warming is more of a religion than a science.

You have to hand it to Tea Partier Steve King. Once he commits to a totally wrong-headed offensive or just vile point of view, he does not back down. When he said a lot of the children of undocumented immigrants were drug mules, with “cantaloupe calves” a couple of weeks ago, the fact that even conservatives in his party rebuked him just made him dig in even further. So it was this week, when, back at home in Iowa, the Congressman decided to spout off ignorantly about climate change. Global warming, he said, is more of a religion than a science, he told the audience at an event for the right-wing, climate-change-denying group Americans for Prosperity.

This is a perfect example of that opposite world, doublespeak, black is white, up is down, lies are truth type of rhetoric that the right wing has perfected. Because, of course, scientific is exactly what climate change is, at least all the scientists seem to think so, and denying climate change is, well, the opposite of science.

The next day, still in home state Iowa, he elaborated on his theme, which evolved into more of a “let’s look at the bright side” of our warming climate, however unscientific that theory might be. For Iowans, he pointed out, there could be more corn. Rising sea levels would mean more rain, more rain means more corn. Simple. Never mind that NASA studies show that, both droughts and rainfall would increase to dangerous proportions with a warming planet. People need to focus on the “positive aspects of global warming,” Pollyanna King said. “I spent a lot of my life cold, it felt pretty good to get warmed up.”

Doesn’t everyone feel much better now?

5. Mike Huckabee: For your weekly dose of Islamophobia

The closing of U.S. embassies in the Middle East due to possibly trumped up terrorism threats gave Fox News host and former presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee the opportunity to unleash, or should we say “uncork” his Islamophobic views — which are voluminous.

“Can someone explain to me why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called ‘holiest days’?” he asked, rhetorically, of course, since it is his radio show. “You know, if you’ve kept up with the Middle East, you know that the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday.”

“So the Muslims will go to the mosque, and they will have their day of prayer, and they come out of there like uncorked animals — throwing rocks and burning cars.”

Just to be clear that he is not prejudiced against all Muslims, Huckabee did say not all of them are violent, but he is a serious student of the Islamic faith and habits, and through this serious study and observation, he has learned “that the most likely times for them to erupt in some type of terrorist activity, violent storming of an embassy, is on their holy days.”

Christians, on the other hand, he points out, never riot on Christmas or Easter.

“Now, my point is — I mean do you ever say ‘Oh boy, it’s Christmas! Oh my gosh, these Christians are going to come out of that Christmas Eve service and they are going to Walmart, and they are going to so rip that place apart, because you know what happens when they go in there and pray about Jesus. And they get out of there and they go straight to the mall, and they just, I mean they set fire to the place.’ I mean, when Christians get out of their Christmas services, about the worst thing they do is commit the sin of gluttony when they go to some Christmas dinner, be it at a restaurant or someone’s home.” Huckabee ranted.

Apparently, he has never seen the riotous, mob-like behavior of so-called Christians on Black Friday, the holiest day in American capitalist Christendom.

6. Pat Robertson’s Sanity is In Grave Doubt

Speaking of Christians, and how they aren’t at all crazy or prone to violent outbursts…

We know, we know, it is not exactly news that Pat Robertson may be a little loony. But before we get to this week’s shenanigans, let’s review some of the accomplishments of the right-wing preacher/host of the 700 Club: predicting the end of the world in 1982, calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez and arguing that most recent natural disasters and terrorist attacks result from our sinful ways, translation, approval of gay marriage. Last week, he advised a caller to burn down the house, since it was clearly possessed by demons.

But, as most people know, one of the true marks of “crazy” is not being able to differentiate between reality and, well, non-reality. In that vein, Robertson has said in the past that lusting after a woman is the same as adultery (the assumption is that you are a man, if you are a woman, then it’s not just adultery, it’s going to cause a tornado). This week, he said, murdering someone in a video game is the same as murdering someone in reality. Here’s the exact quote: "If you murder someone in cyber-space, in a sense you're performing the act whether you like it or not."

One would think we could all find some common ground on religious extremism. There is some of that going in the world - and has been for a couple thousand years. These conservatives feel their right to be the American Taliban is fine, but it is wrong when radicals of other religions do it. The radical anti-American conservative movement has always been ethnocentric, immigrants just make easy targets - one of the many problems with their radical hateful ethnocentric attitudes is that many of them were immigrant at one time or their great grand parents were. Many Americans pray that Pat Robertson's god only exist in his wacky head, because who wants to believe there is a god so stupid and mean, and if you live a good life, you have to spend eternity with this stupid hateful deity. Pat has probably turned more people off of religion than any other single person in America. He makes all of Christianity sound like a moronic cult.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Tea Party is Still Composed of The Delusional, The Hysterical and Conspiratorial Fantasists

The tea baggers, the tea smoking wackados, the plastic patriots are still around and still delusional - see the comments in this thread. Not much has changed since Maria Armoudian and Matt Taibbi's research report in 2010, The Tea Party is Still Composed of The Delusional, The Hysterical and Conspiratorial Fantasists

MA: And the rhetoric that you find that has been used over and over from politicians. Sarah Palin’s approach, you said, was right out of the playbook of Richard Nixon.

MT: Right. This is the whole silent majority idea is playing on this kind of Southern white resentment, this idea that, “we obey the law, we pay taxes, we work and somehow it’s all these other people that are reaping the benefits, these people who don’t want to work, these people who are immigrants, and they want to come and steal our social services.” That’s the same kind of idea, the silent majority. Hillary Clinton used some of the same rhetoric in her campaign as well, the “forgotten people” that she talked about. This rhetoric is very useful in getting people to not focus on what happened on Wall Street. It was creating resentment between white middle-class people. And lower-income minorities and the rich New Yorkers were never in the picture anywhere.

MA: How does the Tea Party fit in with your overall assessment of our economic disasters?

MT: I wrote Griftopia really as a crime book about what happened on Wall Street in the last ten or fifteen years. But the politics are an element of the crime, and there had to be a mechanism through which they could get ordinary people to not pay attention to what was going on. To me, the Tea Party was an example of exactly how that works. I see it as a phenomenon where Wall Street has found a way to convince ordinary people to back their political agenda and their deregulatory aims, under the rubric of “we’re going to get the government off our backs,” and it’s really, in the end, it’s just going to be off their backs, but ordinary people believe in it.

MA: People say they don’t want government and yet they still want all the services that government does. But they somehow don’t connect the dots, it seems.

MT: Right, they somehow want their food to be clean; they don’t want to drink poisoned water; they want to have cops to protect them from burglars, but they’re very attracted to this whole idea that the government causes all of our problems. As I travel around the country, most of the Tea Party people I talk to -- a lot of them are small business owners. They have hardware stores or restaurants, and they see regulation as an ADA inspector or a health inspector coming to bother them and ring them up with little fines here and there. That’s their experience with government regulation. And so when they think about JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs and regulating those banks, to them it’s the same thing. They have no idea that regulation for these big companies is really a law enforcement problem, that it’s not this little niggling health inspector type of business.

MA: I think the best description of the Tea Party that I have heard in a long time was when you said, they’re not crazy or necessarily always wrong, but they’re an anachronism, fighting a 1960s battle in a world run by 21st-century crooks.

MT: Right, the Tea Party is really geared up to fight the Johnson-era forced desegregation battle – busing or HUD housing. I was in Westchester County in New York where HUD was forcing this small, mostly white town to accept a low-income housing project. This is the kind of stuff that turns the Tea Party on, this whole idea of the interventionist government, activist judges. And yeah, there are some of those issues that are still extant, that are still being played out.

MA: But they’re small in comparison to the big problems that we’re facing.

MT: Yeah, this space age global financial thing dwarfs all of those issues in magnitude, and they just don’t get it. And there is no politician that’s speaking to them about it, which is the really depressing part.

MA: And overall, mass media have not really done a very good job of explaining this.

MT: Right, I think that part of the problem is that the people who cover this stuff for a living, the financial press, are geared toward a specific audience. That audience is people who are in the business. They have gotten out of the habit, if they were ever in it, of explaining any of it. And to draw on the ESPN analogy, its kind of ESPN is not for people who don’t understand sports. They don’t pause to explain the rules of football to you every two minutes. They assume you know what they’re talking about, and that’s exactly how the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times operate. That’s why I think they were flat-footed a bit when the crisis happened because they didn’t have the tools to explain all this to everybody else.

MA: Another key point you have been making is that while political systems can be really problematic, it sometimes takes a guy at the top to help make this kind of mess. You identify Alan Greenspan as that person. You wrote, “His rise to the top is one of the great scams of our time.” How do you see this as the “perfect prism” through which to see American politics.

MT: Alan Greenspan’s personality embodies the kind of contradiction in American politics. On the one hand we have this propaganda about how government has no place in the economy whatsoever: “There should be no regulation; the government’s only rule is armed forces and the police.” You hear all this talk in the Tea Party now about strict constitutionalists, that the government [should] abolish every department except for the army. Greenspan believed that on the surface, but at the same time that he was preaching this objectivist proto-capitalist religion, he was building a massive welfare state for Wall Street. It is a complete contradiction -- “Get the government off our backs,” but also, “Let’s make the government into a permanent insurance policy for rich people.” All of those contradictions were in his personality.

MA: You connect him to the philosopher/author, Ayn Rand. Talk about her role in his philosophical development.

MT: She was this great novelist who wrote all these very ponderous long novels like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. The general theme of all of them was that there were two classes of people: the producers and the parasites. In her books, the producers were the great industrial figures who actually created businesses and commercial empires, and everybody was somehow feeding off of them. You were either making something, or you were a parasite. That ethos is still very much alive; it’s part of the Tea Party rhetoric. They talk about “water carriers and water drinkers” and split the world up into those two categories. Greenspan actually spent a lot of time with Rand, they had these little tea parties at her house, and he was under her tutelage. He was one of her protégés who directly carried the flame for her religion. But it was ironic that he ended up being the chief regulator of the economy that had been an anathema to everything that she believed, being a government regulator. Yet he somehow did it and didn’t feel contradicted about it.

MA: She doubted his commitment to her philosophy at a certain point too, according to your account, calling him a social climber.

MT: In the end she famously said, “I think Alan basically is a social climber.” He had already flirted with government by that time. He had gone to work for Nixon’s transition team. Although he tried to be loyal, in the end she turned against him and said some very bad things about him.

MA: Ultimately, you make Greenspan sound inept, not necessarily a bad guy, and that’s what led to the disasters under his watch.

MT: I think the most important thing with Greenspan as it pertains to the current problem is his attitude towards derivatives. He became the Fed chairman at the very beginning of the age of derivatives. This was right before the ‘87 stock crash, which was caused by derivatives. They were these computerized instruments that were pegged to derivative transactions. He completely missed the significance of that. In the early ‘90s, there was a series of disasters, including the Orange County disaster, that were caused by a variety of these instruments such as the interest rate swaps and foreign exchange swaps. Greenspan never understood this stuff. He thought that they were just tools for creating more liquidity, and he persistently went before Congress and said that we do not need more regulation of these instruments. Later on in the year 2000, he became a pivotal figure in affirmatively deregulating these forever in a law called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act. He was very much the driving force behind that, which then led to the mortgage crisis. That’s where derivatives really blew up and where we saw these collateralized debt obligations and other fancy devices that were created to disguise crappy sub-prime mortgages as AAA-rated debt. But he actually thought that they were harmless instruments that banks could use to make a little bit more money. He didn’t see the catastrophic potential.

MA: You’ve said that every country has scam artists; but only in a dying country, only at the low end of the most distressed third world, are people like that part of the power structure. Do you really mean that?

MT: I lived in Russia for ten years, and one of the things that attracts me to this Wall Street story was that it reminded me of what I had seen in Russia. In the former Soviet Union, I saw this incredible pessimism. There was no belief in the future because there was so much instability that people who had the ability to take anything, steal anything were doing it. They wanted to get the money and get out of the country as quickly as possible. They might steal the money from the government and buy a villa in France. That was the modus operandi in those years. That’s how I see the financial services industry in America with the mortgage scam.

It’s the same mindset, whether it was the guys at companies like Countrywide who were pushing people into bad loans when they qualified for good ones, or the banks who were immediately taking these loans and selling them off to pension funds and insurance companies knowing that they were going to explode, or the hedge fund guys who were intentionally creating masses of crappy loans to dump off on other people, or the ratings agencies who were rating stuff that they knew was crap. Then at the very top you had companies like Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank that were basically getting the taxpayer to buy this stuff through the bailouts, knowing that it was severely over-valued. It was the “let’s get what all we can right now before it all blows up” mindset that you see in a third world country.

MA: You say that there’s another half -- the outsourcing through foreign sovereign wealth funds. What are these funds, and how are they connected to all of this?

MT: This is an ancillary part of the story. A sovereign wealth fund is basically like a giant hedge fund that is government owned, and they’re particularly popular in the oil producing countries of the Middle East. You have a country like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, for instance, that gets a lot of revenue from oil, and they put the excess cash in this giant fund that looks for investment opportunities around the world to grow itself bigger. My friend who works at one of these foreign funds called me and said, “I was in a meeting, and a bunch of guys from an American investment bank showed up with a slide projector and tried to sell me and my bosses the Pennsylvania Turnpike. They sat down, showed us all these pictures and said, ‘look the toll booths are in good shape the roads are paved and you should buy this thing.’” And they did try. The State of Pennsylvania shopped the Pennsylvania Turnpike for a period of time. They ended up not doing that deal, but there are cities and states all around the country that are doing these deals.

MA: So they are selling parts of the highways? What else?

MT: In Chicago, it’s the parking meters. They sold 75 years worth of parking meter revenue for the City of Chicago. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is at least a 26 percent owner in the Chicago parking meters now. Now there are no parking holidays in the city of Chicago. You have to pay meters on Lincoln’s birthday, on Christmas, Thanksgiving. If you’re an alderman and you want to have a street fair or something like that, you basically have to pay an exorbitant fee to the investors in order to have the right to hold a fair in your own neighborhoods. That’s happening all over the country. There are dozens of these deals going through.
The tea baggers are still using the general term for their bogieman "big government". One of the problems with that is that more and more of the economy is being privatized, especially at the state level - in return ordinary working American are paying more and getting less in return. Their high taxes protests are just plain silly or delusional sense taxes are at the lowest in decades. The biggest growth in government is in fact being propelled by state tea baggers legislators who are literally putting government in control of the most personal decisions individual citizens make. Several commenters at that thread claim liberals don't like facts. How would these tea baggers know sense they do not seem to have the cognitive skills required to recognize a fact.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Americans Wonder if Virginia Republican Lieutenant Governor Nominee E.W. Jackson is a Nazi Sympathizer

  Americans Wonder if Virginia Republican Lieutenant Governor Nominee E.W. Jackson is a Nazi Sympathizer

In a local radio interview this morning, Virginia Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson said the Democratic Party is “anti-God” and that Christians should leave it.

Jackson has said in the past that he thinks believing in God and voting Democratic are fundamentally incompatible, so WLEE host Jack Gravely asked if he still believes it. Gravely explained that he’s a Christian and tends to vote Democratic, just like his parents and family. Jackson didn’t back down.

“You are saying for us, we’re all wrong, leave that party. And all I’m saying to you is, if you said it before, you still have to believe it, why did you say it?” Gravely asked. “Oh, oh, oh I do believe it,” Jackson responded.

He continued: “I said it because I believe that the Democrat Party has become an anti-God party, I think it’s an anti-life party, I think it’s an anti-family party. And these are all things I think Christians hold to very dearly.”
Many Americans may find these expressions of radical ideology and religion by conservative Republican E. W. Jackson both disturbing and familiar. They 're disturbing because E.W. seems to think he has been appointed the entry guard into Christendom. Where did Jackson get the last word, the holy authority to determine who is a actual Christian. E.W. Jackson, who subscribes to far Right anti-American conservatism also seems to betray his ideological roots.

"My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

    -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942)

E.W. Jackson has simply replaced the Jew in Hitler's speech with Democrat. Countries that have followed the political leadership of freakish zealots like Jackson have done very well. E.W. has all the ideological hallmarks of a proto-fascist.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Six Ways The UnAmerican Conservative Movement is Pushing America To Become The Old Confederacy

1. The latest House budget. There is no single federal budget bill, but a series [14] of bills for combinations of different agencies. In 2013, House Appropriations Committee has been approving budgets that present some of the most draconian cuts seen [15] in a generation. This week saw the panel pass a budget [16] bill cutting the Environmental Protection Agency by 34 percent, including cuts to clean water programs by 60 percent. It gave the White House a quarter of what it sought for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and cut National Park funds by 10 percent and cuts national arts and humanities funding in half.

Earlier Committee budgets cut [17] in half funding for Community Development Block Grants, which is what cities use for housing and anti-poverty efforts. On Thursday, the Committee was expected to release its proposals for health, labor and education. A GOP staffer told [17] the New York Times that education grants to poor students will be cut by 16 percent, and the overall Labor Department will be cut by 13 percent.

This slash-and-burn spree goes beyond the so-called sequester for the current fiscal year ending on September 30, where every federal agency essentially swallowed a 5 percent across-the-boards cut. As Appropriations Committee Democratic Spokesman Dennis explained, the House GOP is continuing the “sequester” but taking the bulk of the funds from programs that they have long opposed: safety nets, environment, poverty, and a spectrum of agencies regulating business. 

The Times said [15] Congress has not faced such a big budget battle since 1995, when the House GOP tried to close the departments of Energy, Education and Commerce—and ended up shutting down the federal government for 28 days.

2. Holding Obamacare hostage. The October 1 implementation date for individuals to start enrolling in Obamacare (the first day of the 2014 federal fiscal year) has become another line in the sand for surly Republicans. Despite passage [18] in 2010, a Supreme Court decision upholding most of it, a presidential election where the healthcare reform was an issue and voters re-elected Obama, top Senate Republicans are now saying that they will not pass any budget bill that includes funding to implement the law. (American families love the benefits they deserve from Obamacare)

The Senate’s top GOP leadership and other senators have signed [17] a letter declaring, “The law cannot be implemented as written.” Whether this is just posturing—as single senators cannot block bills unless they have a majority—remains to be seen. It certainly signals to the House that there will be Senate support to gut funding for the law, which is consistent with the House Republican strategy of eviscerating programs and agencies they oppose.

The GOP’s intransigence needs to be seen against the backdrop of last week’s supposedly bipartisan deal [19] to approve a handful of Obama’s top agency heads. It hardly matters if these agencies have Senate-approved leaders if the GOP’s game plan is to defund and destroy these agencies’ effectiveness.   

3. Stonewalling federal judgeships. This summer’s budget battles only add to the already toxic atmosphere in Washington. Senate’s Republicans have also abused their power by delaying the appointment of federal judges nominated [20] by the White House. The American Bar Association’s president recently wrote an editorial [21] complaining about the large number of federal judge vacancies, calling it a worsening “emergency.”

The public doesn’t fully appreciate how powerful judges are. But senators do, knowing that they serve for life and will decide cases involving business and constitutional issues for a very long time. The Senate’s Republicans keep stonewalling, even though Obama’s appointments tend to be centrists [22]. They are not reflexively libertarian and pro-corporate like the current U.S. Supreme Court majority—or the activist attorneys behind the new rightwing propaganda machine profiled [13] by Mother Jones. This is yet another way in which intransigent Republicans are acting as if Obama did not win re-election.

4. Stopping immigration reform. The GOP, and especially the House majority, knows [23] their power will be diluted if more immigrants become citizens and vote. They also know that many industries rely on low wages for immigrant laborers, including people that [24] pay more in taxes than they receive in government services. But the House GOP will not take up a Senate immigration bill with amnesty and a decade-long path to citizenship. Even Fox News contributor, Republican Juan Williams, has derided [23] House GOP leaders as racist. He should not be surprised, because today’s Republicans are bent on retaining their power by any means, instead of persuading voters in open and fair elections.

5. The attack on voting rights. The game plan here is as old as Reconstruction: block your opponents from voting. After the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, Shelby v. Holder, gutting [25] the Voting Rights Act’s toughest provision that blocked racially discriminatory voting laws from taking effect, GOP-led states—North Carolina [26] this week and Texas [27] previously—have put forth bills to re-segregate voting and elections.

What North Carolina Republicans are pushing through their legislature this week is on par [28] with what Ohio’s GOP Secretary of State Ken Blackwell did before 2004, when his state re-elected President George W. Bush. Rick Hasen, a University of California law professor, wrote [29], “The bill is a nightmare for voting rights advocates: not only does it include a strict voter ID law and provision shortening early voting and eliminating same-day voter registration for early voting, it is a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote.”

The Shelby decision gives the GOP room to plot redistricting scenarios to lock in safe seats in Congress and locally because the Justice Department’s threatened pushback is on untested [12] legal grounds. Texas Republicans quickly said [8] they would revise district lines, instead of waiting for the 2020 Census, as well as toughen state voter ID laws. These discriminatory steps in key states, coupled with the House GOP’s anti-immigrant bias, underscore the party’s defiant obsession with preserving its political power.

6. The attack on election regulators. Part of the attack on voting is an attack on election officials who were genuinely non-partisan, like North Carolina State Board of Election’s longtime director, Gary Bartlett. He was ousted [30] earlier this year after two decades on the job after a new Republican governor reconstituted the state BOE. Bartlett had spent years making [31] North Carolina’s election rules arguably the most progressive in the South. But the North Carolina GOP is also trying to end public financing for judicial elections, another successful anti-corruption program.
Why are conservatives going to all this trouble when they could just move to Iran or China where they already have repressive governments they do not respect basic human rights or democracy.