Saturday, March 30, 2013
Conservatism in Action, How Big Corporations Are Unpatriotic
Many giant profitable U.S. corporations are increasingly abandoning America while draining it at the same time.
General Electric, for example, has paid no federal income taxes for a decade while becoming a net job exporter and fighting its hard-pressed workers who want collective bargaining through unions like the United Electrical Workers Union (UE). GE’s boss, Jeffrey Immelt, makes about $12,400 an hour on an 8-hour day, plus benefits and perks, presiding over this global corporate empire.
Telling by their behavior, these big companies think patriotism toward the country where they were created and prospered is for chumps. Their antennae point to places where taxes are very low, labor is wage slavery, independent unions are non-existent, governments have their hands out, and equal justice under the rule of law does not exist. China, for example, has fit that description for over 25 years.
Other than profiteering from selling Washington very expensive weapons of mass destruction, many multinational firms have little sense of true national security.
Did you know that about 80 percent of the ingredients in medicines Americans take now come from China and India where visits by FDA inspectors are infrequent and inadequate?
The lucrative U.S. drug industry – coddled with tax credits, free transfer of almost-ready-to-market drugs developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars via the National Institutes of Health – charges Americans the highest prices for drugs in the world and still wants more profits. Drug companies no longer produce many necessary medicines like penicillin in the U.S., preferring to pay slave wages abroad to import drugs back into the U.S.
Absence of patriotism has exposed our country to dependency on foreign suppliers for crucial medicines, and these foreign suppliers may not be so friendly in the future.
Giant U.S. companies are strip-mining America in numerous ways, starting with the corporate tax base. By shifting more of their profits abroad to “tax-haven” countries (like the Cayman Islands) through transfer pricing and other gimmicks, and by lobbying many other tax escapes through Congress, they can report record profits in the U.S. with diminishing tax payments. Yet they are benefitting from the public services, special privileges, and protection by our armed forces because they are U.S. corporations.
On March 27, 2013, the Washington Post reported that compared to forty years ago, big companies that “routinely cited U.S. federal tax expenses that were 25 to 50 percent of their worldwide profits,” are now reporting less than half that share. For instance, Proctor and Gamble was paying 40 percent of its total profits in taxes in 1969; today it pays 15 percent in federal taxes. Other corporations pay less or no federal income taxes.
Welcome to globalization. It induces dependency on instabilities in tiny Greece and Cyprus that shock stock investments by large domestic pension and mutual funds here in the U.S. Plus huge annual U.S. trade deficits, which signals the exporting of millions of jobs.
The corporate law firms for these big corporations were the architects of global trade agreements that make it easy and profitable to ship jobs and industries to fascist and communist regimes abroad while hollowing out U.S. communities and throwing their loyal American workers overboard. It’s not enough that large corporations are paying millions of American workers less than workers were paid in 1968, adjusted for inflation.
Corporate bosses can’t say they’re just keeping up with the competition; they muscled through the trade system that pulls down on our country’s relatively higher labor, consumer and environmental standards.
Corporate executives, when confronted with charges that show little respect for the country, its workers and its taxpayers who made possible their profits and subsidized their mismanagement, claim they must maximize their profits for their shareholders and their worker pension obligations.
Their shareholders? Is that why they’re stashing $1.7 trillion overseas in tax havens instead of paying dividends to their rightful shareholder-owners, which would stimulate our economy? Shareholders? Are those the people who have been stripped of their rights as owners and prohibited from even keeping a lid on staggeringly sky-high executive salaries ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 an hour or more, plus perks?
Why these corporate bosses can’t even abide one democratically-run shareholders’ meeting a year without gaveling down their owners and cutting time short. To get away from as many of their shareholder-owners as possible, AT&T is holding its annual meeting on April 26 in remote Cheyenne, Wyoming!
Pension obligations for their workers? The award-winning reporter for the Wall Street Journal Ellen E. Shultz demonstrates otherwise. In her gripping book Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers, she shows how by “exploiting loopholes, ambiguous regulations and new accounting rules,” companies deceptively tricked employees and turned their pension plans into piggy banks, tax shelters and profit centers.
Recently, I wrote to the CEOs of the 20 largest U.S. corporations, asking if they would stand up at their annual shareholders’ meetings and on behalf of their U.S. chartered corporation (not on behalf of their boards of directors), and pledge allegiance to the flag ending with those glorious words “with liberty and justice for all.” Nineteen of the CEOs have not yet replied. One, Chevron, declined the pledge request but said their patriotism was demonstrated creating jobs and sparking economic activity in the U.S.
But when corporate lobbyists try to destroy our right of trial by jury for wrongful injuries – misnamed tort reform – when they destroy our freedom of contract – through all that brazenly one-sided fine print – when they corrupt our constitutional elections with money and unaccountable power, when they commercialize our education and patent our genes, and outsource jobs to other countries, the question of arrogantly rejected patriotism better be front-and-center for discussion by the American people.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Anti-American Site Breitbart Spreading Lies About Puppets and Sequester
Right-wing media are claiming that the federal government spent money on research grants and other expenses for puppets during the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, despite the fact that the grants were all paid prior to the budget cuts.
On Wednesday, Breitbart.com attacked the administration for stopping tours of the White House as a result of budget cuts in a post titled "U.S. Spends $1.18 Million On Puppets Amid Sequester," and claimed the government could "cut federal 'puppet expenditures' to keep the people's house open." The website listed spending from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other sources, as federal spending on "puppets and puppetry-related expenses."
Fox Nation hyped the Breitbart.com post, labeling it a "report":
Fox & Friends joined in on Thursday when co-host Steve Doocy said: "1.18 million, that's how much the government has spent on puppets since 2009. That's enough to pay for more than a year's worth of White House tours."
However, the grants and contracts that Breitbart.com cited were all paid prior to 2013. A screenshot of the search terms used by Breitbart.com reveals the most recent grants were paid in fiscal year 2012, which ended on September 30, 2012. Sequestration took place on March 1, 2013, almost six months later.
Despite the claims of Fox News and Breitbart.com, these expenditures have nothing to do with the cancelation of White House tours. The spending cited by Breitbart.com did not come out of the budget of the Secret Service, which made the decision to stop providing security for the tours due to its own budget cuts under the sequester.
Fox nation is a proto-fascist cable program that espouses the Anti-American views of it's owner, the wacko Austrilaian billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Much of the time when Americans hear "news' from Fox, Breitbart, Drudge and other anti-American news outlets, it is carefully crafted propaganda approved by internationalist Murdoch.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Why Do Senate Republicans Hate Traditional American Judicial Values
Caitlin Halligan, facing a Republican filibuster, officially withdrew from consideration for a judgeship on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This is not surprising or unexpected. Halligan, who was nominated to fill the seat vacated by Chief Justice John Roberts, had seen her nomination languish since 2010. The successful filibuster that snuffed Halligan's nomination early this March represents another example of why real reform or (better yet) elimination of the filibuster is desperately needed.The anti-American view of Senate Republicans is startling in the light of someone who they did approve, Janice Rogers Brown. The Truth About Janice Rogers Brown
The filibustering of Halligan is striking, even in the context of an utterly dysfunctional Senate, for two reasons. First, Halligan is a mainstream nominee, with broad support for her credentials and temperament from across the political spectrum. And second, Obama is the first president in at least 50 years not to get a single nominee confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, despite a relatively large number of vacancies. Obama isn't packing the court or looking to staff it with radical liberals, and yet a minority in the Senate is preventing him from replacing a seat that has been vacant for seven years and counting.
What justifications did the Republicans offer for this extraordinary act of obstructionism? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell turned to one of the emptiest cliches in the modern Republican playbook. "In short, Ms. Halligan’s record of advocacy and her activist view of the judiciary lead me to conclude that she would bring that activism to the court," McConnell asserted. Repeating the word "activist" twice is a nice touch. "Judicial activism" is, of course, has become a completely vacuous tautology that means nothing more than "a judge whose decision I don't agree with." The frequent Republican use of the term has become particularly farcical given the nearly successful Republican campaign to strike down the centerpiece legislation of the Obama administration's first term based on egregiously flimsy ad hoc constitutional arguments. (McConnell, needless to say, disapproved of the Court's ultimate lack of activism.)
Anti-government: Brown has made it crystal clear that she does not believe in government involvement of any kind. She abhors the New Deal in its entirety and has said regarding Social Security that "Today's senior citizens blithely cannibalize their grandchildren because they have the right to get as much 'free' stuff as the political system will permit them to extract." Her anti-government, anti-regulation sentiments are particularly disturbing because she has been nominated to the D.C. Circuit of Appeals, which makes decisions on most federal administration and regulation cases such as those involving regulations set by agencies like the Social Security Administration, Federal Elections Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal Communications Commission, and those dealing with federal environmental and labor laws.
Violence Against Women: Brown was the lone dissenter in opining that a jury should not be allowed to hear evidence of Battered Women's Syndrome. She also wrote a shocking dissent in 2003 regarding criminal charges against a man accused of raping a 17-year-old woman on a date. The woman had verbally expressed that she did not want to have sex several times throughout the night. Although she consented to kissing and fondling and at one point to sex, she asserted that she quickly changed her mind and continued to say no and struggle when the man forcibly penetrated her. The question before the court was whether criminal charges of forcible rape could be brought when a woman withdraws her consent and the man continues against her will. The California Supreme Court found that indeed criminal charges could be brought but Brown's dissenting opinion questioned whether the woman had protested enough and asked the question, "Is persistence the same thing as force?"
Objectivity: Brown participates in many invitation-only private "seminars" thrown by ultra-right wing organizations such as the Liberty Fund and the John M. Olin Foundation. Attending such events, and even making speeches at them, contributes to an appearance of impropriety at best and at worst may influence judges and affect the outcomes of cases.
To Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the evil opinions of Brown are not judicial activism. What country do Mitch and Judge Brown think they're living in? Iran perhaps.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Why does Paul Ryan (R-WI) Hate America, The Paul Ryan Budget’s Tax Cuts, Nearly $6 Trillion in Cost and No Plausible Way to Pay for It
The new budget from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan proposes a series of dramatic tax cuts that would cost nearly $6 trillion in lost federal revenue over the next decade (see Figure 1), and that would provide the lion’s share of their benefits to high-income households and corporations. But, despite its stated promise to the contrary, the budget does not include a plausible way to pay for it all.
The budget sets a goal of cutting the top individual tax rate to 25 percent (from 39.6 percent) and it would repeal the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is designed to ensure that high-income people pay at least a minimum level of tax. It would cut the corporate tax rate to 25 percent (from 35 percent) and greatly cut taxes on corporations’ foreign profits. It also would repeal all of the revenue-raising measures of health reform (i.e., the Affordable Care Act or ACA), which are designed to help offset the cost of that law’s health insurance coverage expansions.
Estimates from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC) show those tax cuts would cost the federal government nearly $6 trillion over the next decade, which exceeds the Ryan budget’s total spending cuts, exclusive of its interest savings. These tax cuts would provide extremely large new tax cuts to wealthy Americans, even as Chairman Ryan’s spending cuts would fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable individuals and families.
Chairman Ryan offers no proposals to offset the nearly $6 trillion in costs. He only links to a tax reform framework from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, which mentions “scaling back tax preferences that distort economic behavior” but provides no details on how to do so. The Ryan budget does not identify a single deduction, credit, exclusion, or other preference to narrow or close.
Nor is his vow to raise $6 trillion by scaling back tax expenditures plausible, given that the most costly of them, such as the mortgage interest deduction and deduction for charitable giving, tend to be the most politically popular. As a result, if policymakers were to cut taxes enough to meet Chairman Ryan’s goal, they would likely add to deficits, undercutting Chairman Ryan’s claim to balance the budget within a decade.
If, on the other hand, policymakers truly sought to offset the full $6 trillion in costs by scaling back tax expenditures, they could only do so by increasing taxes on households with incomes below $200,000. When the TPC analyzed a similar plan from Governor Romney — which would have cut the top income-tax rate from 35 to 28 percent — it found that even after dramatically scaling back tax expenditures for filers with incomes above $200,000, Romney’s plan would still have provided large net tax cuts to those households. To pay for these tax cuts without adding to the deficit, TPC estimated that families with children and with incomes below $200,000 would have faced tax increases of about $2,000 per family, on average.
The tax cuts that Chairman Ryan seeks are substantially larger than Governor Romney’s, with a goal of cutting the top rate from 39.6 to 25 percent. Without any cuts to tax expenditures, reaching the Ryan budget’s goal of a 25 percent top rate while abolishing the AMT and repealing the Affordable Care Act’s revenue-raising measures would result in tax cuts worth an average of about $330,000 a year to households with incomes of more than $1 million a year; the tax cuts for high-income filers would necessarily be larger under Ryan’s plan than under Romney’s. As explained below, even with the same dramatic scaling back of tax expenditures for filers with incomes above $200,000 that TPC examined in its Romney analysis — including entirely wiping out their deductions for mortgage interest and charitable giving — families with children that have incomes below $200,000 would have to face tax increases averaging more than $3,000 a year, if policymakers were to avoid increasing the deficit while reaching Chairman Ryan’s 25-percent top-tax-rate goal.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Freaky Pretend Patriot Rick Perry's $487 Million Corporate Slush Fund Doesn't Need Your Stinkin' Audit
Freaky Pretend Patriot Rick Perry's $487 Million Corporate Slush Fund Doesn't Need Your Stinkin' Audit
Watchdog groups have long argued that the Texas Enterprise Fund, a taxpayer-funded program that has awarded more than $487 million to big businesses that set up shop in the Lone Star State since 2004, is a slush fund that allows Gov. Rick Perry to reward allies and political donors. Despite the criticisms, the Texas State Auditor's Office hasn't examined the fund's finances in at least a decade. Now a bipartisan group of state senators is pushing a bill that would subject the Enterprise Fund to an independent state audit. But Perry's office won't explain whether the governor backs the idea. Besides, it says, the state's top three Republicans have everything under control.You'd be smiling like an insane jackass too if you could get away with Rick perry style corruption. people wonder why government doesn't work as well as it should. Just look at conservative Republicans like Perry who hide their politics as a scam leadership behind the flag, the Bible and lots of cash from his sleazbag cronies.
"Every project must receive unanimous approval from the governor, lieutenant governor, and House speaker," says Lucy Nashed, a spokeswoman for Perry. "The Legislature reviews the state's incentive funds every two years, and has continued to see the value in reauthorizing them every biennium since their inception." Actually, lawmakers are not planning to give any more money to the fund in the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to the San Antonio Express-News. (There is still about $140 million left in the kitty.) And although Nashed says that Perry "will review any bill that makes it through the process and onto his desk," she wouldn't say whether he supports or opposes the bill that has been introduced.
Auditing experts say having three GOP officials sign off on the Enterprise Fund's projects is not comparable to an audit. "I'm not familiar with the fund, but that doesn't seem to qualify as internal auditing at all," says Roger Martin, vice president of the American Accounting Association. D. Scott Showalter, an accounting professor at North Carolina State University, adds that "public funds [require] a higher level of accountability. An independent audit appears reasonable."
Given the Texas Enterprise Fund's record, Perry and his allies may have reason to fear a higher level of accountability. In 2010, the Texas Observer found that since the fund's inception in 2003, 20 of the 55 Texas Enterprise Fund grant recipients had given money directly to Perry's campaign or the Republican Governor's Association. A look at awards since 2010 shows the practice of handing money to Perry donors continues, albeit on a smaller scale: About 15 percent of companies that have received money from the fund since 2010 donated to Perry's campaign, according to records maintained by the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics.
Perry maintains that the fund gives Texas a competitive edge and has brought more than 56,000 new jobs to the state and generated more than $14.7 billion in capital investment. But the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice found that by the end of 2010, companies getting cash from the fund were only creating about 37 percent of the number of jobs promised. The administration has lowered standards in the past so that companies could create fewer jobs than they had promised, and it has canceled contracts after criticism over companies such as Bank of America's Countrywide, which continued to be an Enterprise grantee as it collapsed and laid off thousands of workers nationwide.
"It doesn't have enough transparency, it doesn't have enough oversight, and it's essentially a slush fund run out of the back of the governor's office."
The Texas Enterprise Fund "doesn't have enough transparency, it doesn't have enough oversight, and it's essentially a slush fund run out of the back of the governor's office," argues Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a state watchdog group.
The Texas state auditor's office would not comment to Mother Jones on whether or not the fund has enough oversight. However, when it audited Perry's other pet corporate grant program, the $200 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund (which at the time, required the same unanimous approval by Perry and Co. as the Enterprise fund) in 2011, the state auditor found that this fund had no consistent process for awarding grants, did not stop advisory board members (who were appointed by Perry) from accepting compensation from grant recipients, didn't record its meetings, and did not submit the majority of its required annual reports between 2007 and 2009. Another fund, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, which was spearheaded by Perry and Lance Armstrong, saw eight cancer scientists (two of them Nobel laureates) resign in protest because it was putting political and commercial interests over scientific ones.
Fox News Continues Pushing Conspiracy Theory That Iraq Hid WMD In Other Countries. Should Fox News and their America hating agenda continue to have a broadcast license. If they hate America so much, why don't Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly , Sean Hannity and the rest move to Iran where they have "family" values enforced by the government.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
“Toxicity Map” of Brain May Help Protect Cognition for Cancer Patients
New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center is giving radiation oncologists who treat brain tumors a better understanding of how to preserve the brain's functions while still killing cancer.
Ann M. Peiffer, Ph.D., assistant professor of radiation oncology at Wake Forest Baptist, and colleagues looked at how radiation treatment to different brain areas impacts function to help protect cognition for patients during and after radiation therapy and beyond.
Radiation treatment of organs with cancer is designed to give enough of a dose to be toxic to the cancer tumor with minimal impact to the surrounding tissue and avoid normal tissue death. For treatment of organs like the lung, kidney or liver, doctors know exactly how much radiation to give before organ function is affected.
However, the same isn't true for brain tissue, so the researchers worked to develop a "toxicity map" of the brain to preserve function. Peiffer said this is the first attempt to relate treatment dose to brain function, as opposed to brain tissue death. While avoiding normal tissue death is important, it doesn't necessarily help prevent the cognitive and functional problems associated with cancer treatments.
"The issue is the toxicity to the brain and its function, which is cognition or how you think, and these functions are affected at a much lower dose of radiation than what causes tissue death," Peiffer said.
The toxicity map was created by taking advantage of data from larger clinical trials held at Wake Forest Baptist. In one of those trials, 57 brain cancer survivors returned six months or more after their radiation treatment to determine whether Donepezil, a drug normally used to improve mental function for those with early Alzheimer 's disease, was effective at improving their cognition. Participants completed cognitive testing upon enrollment, and their scores provided the performance data for the toxicity map. The researchers then went back into the medical records to match participants to their individual radiation dose levels and MRIs taken prior to treatment, Peiffer said.
"By matching cognitive performance to these measurements, we determined which area of the brain and what dose influenced performance on the cognitive tasks," she said. "This gave us a preliminary look at what areas are important to consider for protecting cognition during our planning for radiation treatment."
Peiffer said by looking at the irradiation dose received by specific brain areas important to different cognitive functions, tolerance levels related to function can be established. The exposed amount of these critical brain areas were then related to outcomes of specific tests used to assess cognition or the ability of the patients to think and perform tasks, such as remembering a grocery list or what a drawing looked like, Peiffer said.
"As technology advances and we are able to spare increasing amounts of normal tissue and important functional structures during treatment, it is important to understand and be able to predict the threshold that we need to maintain to prevent treatment toxicities in function," Peiffer said.
Advances in cancer treatment have increased survivorship rates and the length of time individuals are able to live following treatment, Peiffer said, and quality of life becomes a very important issue for these patients. More research is necessary to validate these data, she said.
In other news, Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is caught in yet another lie. Why oh why does she hate American values.
Despite the Whitewash, We Now Know that the Bush Administration was Warned Before the War That Its Iraq Claims were Weak
Nothing Succeeds Like Failure for Iraq War Architects . Getting Americans and Iraqi children killed, does pay it seems.
Fox News America hating conservative pundit Eric Bolling lavished praise on George Bush for getting American killed for a lie.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Sleazebag Republican Zealots John Boehner Paul Ryan Admit They're Using Debt Fear Mongering To Cut Middle-Class Safety Net
Sleazebag Republican Zealots John Boehner Paul Ryan Admit They're Using Debt Fear Mongering To Cut Middle-Class Safety Net
I never thought I’d write these words, but here goes: thank you, John Boehner. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for finally admitting on national television that all the fiscal cliffs, sequestrations and budget battles you’ve created are, indeed, artificially fabricated by ideologues and self-interested politicians and not the result of some imminent crisis that’s out of our control.
America owes this debt of gratitude to Boehner after he finally came clean on yesterday’s edition of ABC’s “This Week” and admitted that “we do not have an immediate debt crisis.” (His admission was followed up by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, who quickly echoed much the same sentiment on CBS’ Face the Nation).
In offering up such a stunningly honest admission, the GOP leader has put himself on record as agreeing with President Obama, who has previously acknowledged that demonstrable reality. But the big news here isn’t just about the politics of a Republican House Speaker tacitly admitting they agree with a Democratic president. It is also about a bigger admission revealing the fact that the GOP’s fiscal alarmism is not merely some natural reaction to reality, but a calculated means to other ideological ends.
Before considering those ends, first remember that Boehner (like Obama) is correct on the facts.
As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, “Even if we do run deficits, federal debt as a share of GDP will be substantially less than it was at the end of World War II” and “it will also be substantially less than, say, debt in several European countries in the mid to late 1990s.” It is also lower than the 80 percent of GDP level that many economists say starts to put countries in a precarious position. Additionally, citing Congressional Budget Office data, the Center for American Progress notes that the long-term debt outlook is only dire because the projections simply assume without question that “future Congresses will enact huge new deficit-increasing tax cuts and spending hikes.”
“The debt outlook is bad (but) we’re not looking at something inconceivable, impossible to deal with,” writes Krugman. “We’re looking at debt levels that a number of advanced countries, the US included, have had in the past, and dealt with.”
So yes, we should start dealing with the long-term debt in a pragmatic and sober way, but we shouldn’t pretend it is some sort of imminent crisis worthy of draconian austerity measures.
If we could somehow do that, then there would be plenty of gradual steps that could be taken right now – steps that deal with the debt in measured ways that do the least harm to the overall economy.
Conservatives have taken to saying the debt is a way to spend your children's future. Well, they could have paid for their spending as they passed spending bill after spending bill from 2000 to 2008. They didn't because they knew that even the appearance of debt would give them an opportunity to attack programs like Medicare, Social Security and Veterans benefits, which they consider communist programs.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Senators Destroy Creepy Ted Cruz(R-TX) Argument Against The Assault Weapons Ban
A third measure to reform gun violence prevention passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday along party lines, but not without bitter opposition from Republicans, who claimed that such a ban would violate the Second Amendment and analogized restrictions on guns to censoring books under the First Amendment.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) battered Democrats with questions about whether they would support restrictions on the First or Fourth Amendments he claimed were similar to those an assault weapons ban would impose on the Second:
I pose to the senator from California [Sen. Diane Feinstein], would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment, namely, would she consider it constitutional for congress to specify that the first amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?
But Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) obliterated his argument by noting the analogous actual restrictions on the actual First Amendment:
In reference to the question my colleague from Texas asked, would you limit books? Would you name specific books? Yeah. It’s constitutional within the ambit of the First Amendment to eliminate child pornography. And we have lots of laws that are very explicit about that. Very explicit. That are constitutional, that have been upheld as constitutional. Similarly, you can’t falsely scream fire in a crowded theater. Similarly, we have libel laws. Every one of these is an impingement on the sacred First Amendment, upheld as constitutional. There are reasonable limits on each amendment, and I think it is anomalous, to put it kindly, for either side to interpret one amendment so expansively and another amendment so narrowly that it just doesn’t add up because your interpretation of the Constitution should be consistent.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) then dealt the final blow with a direct comparison between First and Second Amendment restrictions both intended to protect public safety:
It is hard to imagine that it would be a violation of the First Amendment for somebody to yell fire in a crowded theater but it’s not a violation of the Second Amendment to prevent somebody from bringing a hundred-round magazine into a crowded theater in a Aurora, Colorado.
Why the over the top flame throwing by conservative wackos? Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) is trying to pass a reasonable gun safety bill - that allows Americans to have guns like a semi-automatic hand gun in their home to defend themselves, it will not restrict traditional hunting rifles - and she is a gun owner. Conservatives have taken the super extreme position that there can be NO regulation of big ammo magazines and assault weapons.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Republicans Want America To Have The Same Values as 17th Century Witch Burners
The right-wing Family Research Council — which uses its advocacy muscle to try to block comprehensive sexual health programs in public schools — is now going a step further, suggesting the young Americans who have premarital sex should be punished because they don’t deserve the right to engage in sexual intercourse.
According to senior FRC fellow Pat Fagan, the Supreme Court’s “first assault on marriage” was a 1972 case that overturned a state law banning unmarried people from purchasing birth control. Fagan claims that court decision effectively sanctioned premarital sex, “brushing aside thousands and thousands of years of wisdom, tradition, [and] culture.” Appearing on a radio show with Tony Perkins, the head of the organization, Fagan asserted that “society never gave young people that right,” and instead has an obligation to stop, punish, and shame that type of sexual behavior:
FAGAN: The court decided that single people have the right to contraceptives. What’s that got to do with marriage? Everything, because what the Supreme Court essentially said is single people have the right to engage in sexual intercourse. Well, societies have always forbidden that, there were laws against it. [...]
It’s not the contraception, everybody thinks it’s about contraception, but what this court case said was young people have the right to engage in sex outside of marriage. Society never gave young people that right, functioning societies don’t do that, they stop it, they punish it, they corral people, they shame people, they do whatever. The institution for the expression of sexuality is marriage and all societies always shepherded young people there, what the Supreme Court said was forget that shepherding, you can’t block that, that’s not to be done.
In fact, a full 80 percent of unmarried evangelical Christians report that they are having sex. Despite the emphasis on abstinence within the evangelical community — a misguided approach to sexuality that typically shames young adults about their bodies, ignores the existence of the LGBT community, and fails to equip adolescents with the resources they need to effectively manage their sexual health — it’s clear that premarital sex is the norm, not something that threatens the very fabric of modern society.
And ignoring the reality that teens are having sex has had serious consequences across the country. The states that push ineffective abstinence-only health classes have higher rates of teen pregnancy, higher rates of STDs, and higher concentrations of HIV infections. Even the evangelical community itself has started to realize that denying teens sexual health resources isn’t working, and has begun to move in the direction of supporting contraception and sex education.
Conservatives should be embarrassed to ever utter the word freedom. If given the power they would have the government entwined into every aspect of every American's personal life. Our jails would be filled with people who committed the awful crime of having sex. Sure we'd all like for everyone to make responsible personal decisions, but enacting laws and public policy that mirror the fundamentalist tyranny of the 17th century is not the way to accomplish that.
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Conservative Political Action Conference Joined at The Hip With White-Nationalist American Renaissance
Conservative Political Action Conference Joined at The Hip With White-Nationalist American Renaissance
On Tuesday, the Hill published a story noting that the organizers of the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the preeminent national confab for politicians and activists of the right, are responding to the last November's election by using the event to "showcase the movement's 'diversity.'" Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Sarah Palin will be headlining, but 20 percent of the panelists this year will be African American, according to CPAC bean counters. And the CPACers proudly point to the prominent role of Latinos and women on various panels. Yet the CPAC organizers have neglected one important task as they attempt to appeal to minorities: staying away from white nationalists.
For the past week, the American Conservative Union, which founded and is the primary organizer of CPAC, has showcased on its website an article from its newsletter, the Conservative Battleline, headlined "Debating Liberal Tactics" and written by Robert Weissberg. The ACU identifies Weissberg as a professor from Cornell and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign and the author of 11 books. What it doesn't mention is that Weissberg has long been affiliated with a pseudo-think tank called the New Century Foundation. This foundation publishes a magazine called American Renaissance and hosts conferences under the same name, promoting the theory of "scientific racism" and providing a forum in which Klan members, neo-Nazis, and David Duke followers can mix it up with the intellectuals of the white-nationalist movement. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes the foundation's founder and American Renaissance editor, Jared Taylor, as a "courtly" white supremacist, who once wrote in American Renaissance, "Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization—any kind of civilization—disappears."
Weissberg has been writing for Taylor's magazine for years and has spoken at American Renaissance conferences.
But remember back in November of 2012 after the elections, Republicans said they needed to reevaluate their appeal to minorities. Apparently that reevaluation means keeping old white supremacist friends around.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Don’t Cut Social Security, Expand It
I'm always struck when people talk about Social Security as "just" an insurance program, when it's in fact the most important retirement-saving vehicle. The chart below, adapted from a 2012 paper by Boston College Professor Alicia Munnell, shows the financial situation of a "typical" pre-retirement household. These are the mean holdings of a household in the middle net worth decile among households headed by people age 55 to 64.
Friday, March 8, 2013
How Long Will Voters Let Conservative Republicans Put the Rich Before Everyone Else
We are nearly a week into the dreaded sequester and already there is reason to believe that the spending cuts that were designed to be so draconian and unpalatable that even the Republican party could not stomach them are here to stay.
Despite there being widespread consensus that these cuts will be extremely damaging to the economy and that they may ultimately even increase our debt load rather than lower it, the party that pushed us over this particular fiscal cliff is refusing to budge an inch. The only question that now remains is why, and for how long more, ordinary Americans will let them get away with it.
Balancing the budget and reducing the deficit are noble goals, but when a party who claims to be all about balanced budgets, shifts the entire burden of achieving one onto the poorest and neediest in our society, while doing everything in their power to protect the pocket books of the wealthy, I would be inclined to distrust their motives. All the evidence points to the fact that our most vulnerable citizens are the ones who will be hit the hardest by the sequester cuts (more on that in a moment). Yet the GOP are already making moves to reduce the impact of the cuts on the military, while they look for even more ways to cut welfare spending that will hurt the poor.
On Monday, congressional Republicans put forth a bill ostensibly designed to prevent a government shut down at the end of the month. This is welcome news in so far as I don't think any of us could stomach another round of the kind of school yard bullying that now passes for governance in the house of representatives.
But the Republican bill, which was authored by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, has come under criticism for incorporating several measures that would ease the pain of the sequester cuts on military spending, while doing nothing whatsoever to counteract the damage the cuts will inflict on domestic programs that our poorest citizens rely on. Meanwhile, both senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and house majority leader John Boehner have made it clear that any talk of revenue increases, even closing tax loopholes that only benefit the super rich, are out of the question.
So it seems that the poor are on track to take the hit for the Republican party's apparent zeal to reign in government spending, at least on programs they don't care for. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities outlined what this will mean for low income families and children. They estimated that up to 775,000 mothers and children will be turned away from the WIC Nutrition program by the end of the fiscal year; over 100,000 low income families will lose their housing assistance; 3.8 million long term unemployed people will see an 11% reduction in their weekly benefits and over 70,000 poor children will no longer benefit from the vital preschool program known as Head Start. War veterans, children with disabilities and elderly people living alone will also be made to feel the pain.
In addition to the various cuts in services, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 750,000 jobs will be lost by the end of the year and the GDP will slow down by 0.6%. But, hey, Wall Street had a bumper day on Tuesday, so who really cares about a few hundred thousand job losses or if the poor get poorer?
Actually, we should all be deeply concerned about the long-term implications of the trickle down poverty policies that the Republican party has grown so fond of. It's no secret that inequality has been steadily rising in America for the past few decades, but I don't think most Americans are aware of the full extent of it. Mother Jones has put together a very illuminating video, based on income inequality charts that is worth a look to understand just how big the wealth gap has grown. The top 1% in this country now own 40% of the wealth while the bottom 80% only own 7% between us.
In the past 30 years the wealth of the top 1% has more than tripled, meanwhile 15% of the country are now living in abject poverty, up from 13.8% in 2008 and real median household incomes declined 1.5% in 2011, the second consecutive annual drop.
So the old cliche about the rich getting richer while the poor (and middle class) get poorer is alive and kicking. If anyone fails to see the link between this reality and the policies promoted by the Republican party that protect the rich and punish the poor, then I guess you should just keep voting republican and you will keep getting more of the same.
Time to start thinking about the 2014 med-term elections. Do voters want an America for and by the people or for wealthy plutocrats who are leaching off the labor of the average American worker.
Conservative James O’Keefe To Pay $100,000 for journalistic malpractice.
Monday, March 4, 2013
Why Do Republicans Hate Americans With Mental Illness
Among the vulnerable populations Friday's automatic cuts affect, the mentally ill will be among the hardest hit.
If you've been reading The New York Times, The Washington Post and hearing statements by Republicans denouncing the sequester "hype," you may have been lulled into thinking that it won't be so bad after all. The country has apparently reacted with a "collective yawn" to the $85 billion across-the-board cuts that began last Friday, the Associated Press proclaims. "The sword of Damocles turns out to be made of Styrofoam," the Times reports.
But the sword feels much sharper for families, advocates, and local officials who rely on government funding to treat and care for those with mental illness. Starting April 1, cuts to the Mental Health Block Grant program alone will deprive over 373,000 seriously mentally ill and seriously emotional disturbed children of services, according to a White House fact sheet. Experts also say that nearly 9,000 homeless people with serious mental illness won't receive the outreach and social-work assistance offered by PATH, a vital federally funded program that helps 90,000 people a year to transition to permanent housing. The big picture for the crisis: Disoriented, suffering people may end up jailed, or resort to suicide because the wait for treatment is too long. "We know fewer people will get services and more people will end up in the forensic [justice] system and on the street," says Debbie Plotnick, senior director of state policy for Mental Health America (MHA), a mental-health advocacy group.
While the sequester cuts are projected to harm the beneficiaries and employees of a broad array of programs, the mentally ill are perhaps our most vulnerable citizens. All flat cuts aren't created equal; a furlough for a Reston, Virginia, Defense Department worker doesn't have the same consequences as it does for a young man with severe bipolar disorder waiting an extra month to see a psychiatrist.
But hey that is what freedom is right? Using economic means to make people suffer. Let the mentally ill survive or die is the conservative creed. Pretty much the same think Stalin, Hitler and Mao believed.
Saturday, March 2, 2013
|Republican serial liars say government spending cuts are the route to deficit reduction, but Obama's cuts are reducing debt at record levels.|
Congressional leaders went to the White House on Friday in a last-ditch effort to avert the automatic “sequester” budget cuts that will soon go into effect.
After the meeting, Republican leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Boehner (R-OH) emerged to reemphasize that the GOP will not consider any new revenues in a deal to avert the sequester.
Boehner said, “the discussion about revenue, in my view, is over.” And McConnell added, “I want to make clear that any solutions will be done through the regular order, with input from both sides of the aisle in public debate…I will not be part of any back-room deal and I will absolutely not agree to increase taxes.”
As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent noted, this position is absurd, and akin to Democrats demanding that 100 percent of future deficit reduction be achieved through tax hikes. As this chart shows, nearly three-quarters of deficit reduction that has been achieved since 2011 has been through spending cuts: