Friday, August 31, 2012

Creatures of Hollywood

The Republican Party has long pretended to disdain Hollywood, alternately blaming it for the decline of American moral standards and filling children's heads with a communistic concern for the environment.

Republicans have decried frivolousness of Hollywood celebrities, implying that their party is too serious and substantial for fluff. But Republicans have elevated Ronald Reagan, a total creature of Hollywood, to godhood. Reagan, a former Democrat and union president, was apparently already suffering from Alzheimers in his first term when he told Yitzhak Shamir in 1983 that he helped free Jewish prisoners from concentration camps, though he never left Hollywood during WWII. He made a movie about it, so it must have been true.

Republicans love to rewrite Reagan's history. These days when they tell the story of his inauguration day they say that the Iranians released the hostages from the US embassy because Iran was afraid Reagan would nuke Tehran (which would have, of course, killed those same hostages). They neglect to mention that Reagan secretly exchanged seven hostages for hundreds of TOW missiles with the Iranians in 1985 and 1986 (Israel helped too), while at the same time publicly supporting Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war. They neglect to mention that after the 1983 bombing of Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 299 American and French servicemen, tough-guy Reagan pledged never to back down, but within a few months he ordered American forces out of Lebanon.

And though they disparage celebrity endorsements, Republicans constantly coo about John Voight, Ted Nugent, Clint Eastwood and Jenna Jameson's endorsements of Mitt Romney.

And the "special guest" at the Republican convention? Clint Eastwood, talking to an empty chair.

Starting in Reagan's first term the Republican Party completely dispensed with reality, replacing it with fanciful Hollywood scripts: supply-side economics is a Christmas fantasy in which Santa collects lower taxes but receives more revenue. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a Bob Hope Road pic that paid for themselves with the scads of oil money the Iraqis would repay us for liberating them. The global recession was a Mel Gibson conspiracy flick in which the entire world economy was intentionally destroyed by Barney Frank and several thousand black people who got adjustable-rate home loans they couldn't pay back.

The ethical basis for Paul Ryan's budget was created by Ayn Rand, a Russian emigre and Hollywood script writer. In the pre-Reagan age this atheist crusader against altruism and ardent supporter of abortion rights would have been roundly denounced by Republicans as a cold-hearted, selfish, self-serving bitch.

Finally, the selection of Mitt Romney himself is the ultimate Hollywood Republican script. Nobody, except maybe his family, actually wants Mitt Romney to be president. All the Republicans hate him because he's a closet liberal, he's the godfather of Obamacare, he's a Mormon, his dad was born in Mexico. You get the picture.

But Romney is the guy from central casting that looks like a leading man, so he beat out terribly flawed character actors like Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Ron Paul and Rick Perry. Now that the Romney script gone through several rewrites—from Mormon draft dodger in France, to heartless executive at Bain, to savior of the Olympic games, to moderate governor of Massachusetts—Republican script writers have finally retooled the robotic Romney character into a T1000 Terminator that can morph into any shape required to win the election.

But in their heart of hearts Republicans all know what happened to that T1000 at the end of that movie. And they expect Romney to tank in November like a bad sci-fi flick.

Open Mic Night

Well, the GOP convention has come to a close and it's time for the post mortem? What were the highlights? The lowlights? The good, the bad, and the ugly?

Mainly, I thought that it was not very well done. Compared to 2008, it really sucked. At least in that year, we saw good speeches that stayed on message with no real head scratchers. Sarah Palin may have been (and still is) not intelligent or competent but she gave a great speech and hadn't flopped yet.

This year, however, seemed like open mic night for 2016. Chris Christie's keynote address was awful. He didn't even mention Mitt Romney until the very end of his speech. And it didn't contain any of the colorful attitude that he has displayed previously in public. He looked too restrained. Several new stars (Kelly Ayotte, Rick Santorum, and even Paul Ryan) seemed to be there for their own purposes, not Mitt's.

Speaking of Ryan, he wasn't the only one lying his ass off this week. John Thune said

The big-government bureaucrats of the Obama administration have set their sights on our way of life. Instead of preserving family farms and ranches, President Obama’s policies are effectively regulating them out of business. His administration even proposed banning farm kids from doing basic chores!

Obama's also building an army of killer robots with the express purpose of stealing our luggage! The Washington Post has the truth on this (ahem) issue. 

Rob Portman also had this ditty

Then you have Barack Obama, who never started a business — never even worked in business.

Not true.

He worked briefly at Business International Corp. in New York after college, and then also was an associate and a partner at a law firm for 11 years.

Now, Paul Ryan's private sector experience is very minimal and has been a life long politician so I'm not sure why he brought this up.

And then there was the weird. First up, Clint Eastwood....WTF??!!?? I love the guy but perhaps he should have talked about how, as a senior, Mitt was going to help him with his benefits while the president wouldn't. Instead, we got the empty chair. I love Clint and all his films (even the ones with the monkey) but seeing an old man scold an empty chair pretty much sums up the demographic of the GOP in 2012.

Another weird one...I had no idea what Mike Huckabee was talking about when he ripped Deb Wasserman-Schultz. Her VOICE is irritating? Really? And then to follow it with "bless her heart"...good grief...

If there was any good to be found, I thought the Ron Paul folks really made it known that they are the future of the party when the geezers sail off into the sunset. Ann Romney's speech was great. Why isn't she running? Condi Rice brought a touch of class to the week that was sorely needed.

Otherwise, though, I thought it was terrible. The placing of the non white convention goers in the most prime camera spots was hilariously illustrative of how the GOP is really shitting themselves over their demographics problem. Time is indeed running out...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lyin' Ryan

Paul Ryan unleashed a giant load of wordy squirts last night that truly bring new meaning to breaking the ninth commandment. From

  • Accused President Obama’s health care law of funneling money away from Medicare “at the expense of the elderly.” In fact, Medicare’s chief actuary says the law “substantially improves” the system’s finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings. 
  • Accused Obama of doing “exactly nothing” about recommendations of a bipartisan deficit commission — which Ryan himself helped scuttle. 
  • Claimed the American people were “cut out” of stimulus spending. Actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers. 
  • Faulted Obama for failing to deliver a 2008 campaign promise to keep a Wisconsin plant open. It closed less than a month before Obama took office. 
  • Blamed Obama for the loss of a AAA credit rating for the U.S. Actually, Standard & Poor’s blamed the downgrade on the uncompromising stands of both Republicans and Democrats.

And this is they guy who the right thinks is thoughtful and intelligent?

Well, at least the "liberal" media has decided not to fall asleep on this one.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Language is funny. Sometimes words become euphemisms for their opposite. Case in point: special. Special used to mean exceptional or superior. For example, "Special Agent Fox Mulder." But now special has come to mean something completely different, particularly when pronounced that special way.

Last May a special-education teacher in Winona, Minnesota was charged with slapping a student. She has now pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault, resigned her job and will be on a year of non-supervised probation. What exactly happened?
According to a criminal complaint, a classroom aide told Winona Senior High School principal Kelly Halvorsen late last school year that [teacher Theresa] Kersting had slapped a 19-year-old male special-education student in early April after he grabbed Kersting’s glasses and threw them on the floor. Halvorsen subsequently contacted the Winona Police Department, which initiated an investigation. 
According to a police report, the boy is not verbal and was not able to give an account of the incident.
Huh? Why is someone who can't even talk in high school? He's "special."

Special-ed students cost almost twice as much as regular students: in 1999-2000 it was about $12,474 as compared to $6,556 for regular students, which amounted to $50 billion in the United States.

Don't get me wrong: I'm down with wheelchair-accessible schools, extra tutoring for dyslexic kids, ESL classes, free breakfast, whatever it takes to get the little buggers to learn. But "mainstreaming" kids who just don't have the mental capacity to learn at grade level is a waste of everyone's time and money, especially when these kids are extremely disruptive and require their own full-time classroom aide to constantly baby-sit them.

Special ed and the IDEA act used to be a favorite whipping boy in conservative circles, especially in the South, since it was aimed at the problems of disadvantaged minority children. But Sarah Palin's big splash with her Down Syndrome son Trig has muted conservative criticism.

Conservatives like Rick Santorum want to ban prenatal testing for such conditions and force women to bear children who have severe mental and physical deformities. They don't say, however, where people are supposed to get the money for the huge medical bills, the time for all the special care required, and the courage to deal with children who will never grow up, never have a job, never have children of their own, and will ultimately die young, often suffering excruciating pain their entire abbreviated lives.

But dumping these kids in public schools should not be the solution. Don't saddle taxpayers and the public education system with a problem that education can't solve.

I Wonder What Would Happen...

...if a supporter of Barack Obama or the president himself owned a boat and flew the flag of another country.

Seriously, Stuff Like This Is Still Happening?

What does it say about the Republican national convention that the following incident occurred there?
Two people were removed from the Republican National Convention Tuesday after they threw nuts at an African-American CNN camera operator and said, “This is how we feed animals.”
Sure, there are bad apples in every bushel. But when the party's candidate continues to make jokes about the president's birth certificate, and the Republican propaganda machine continues to lie about recent changes to welfare that the Obama administration allowed states to make in order to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness?

This is supposed to be the most tightly controlled party convention in the history of party conventions. Everyone is supposed to be on message that Mitt Romney is a human being that doesn't bleed greenbacks when he cuts himself shaving.

But some Republicans aren't having it. Ron Paul delegates are furious with the high-handed tyrannical  tactics the Romney people are using to prevent them from speaking. Some Paul supporters were so disgusted with the treatment they have received that some of them shouted, "Romney cannot beat Obama!" on the convention floor.

Was this just frustration with the lousy treatment the Oberst-Gruppenführer running the convention was giving them, or is it one of those accidentally-told-the-truth moments?

Four Biggies Out of Tampa has a new page up with four very blatant lies that have come out of Tampa so far this week. They are:

  • A misleading statistic about women’s job losses that has grown so stale it is now wholly false. 
  • More bogus claims about “raiding” Medicare and the doctor-patient relationship under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. 
  • A completely false claim that more than half of the younger generation is unemployed. (Actually, 86 percent who want work have it.) 
  • More false claims that Obama blocked the Keystone XL Pipeline. Construction has already begun on the southern leg of the project, and the company says it expects approval for the Canada-to-U.S. leg early next year.

It's pretty sad that they have to lie to such a great degree like this. Why don't they talk about their accomplishments?

If Karl Rove is Saying it...

...then Mitt Romney has a problem.

This is an issue that has hurt Romney because again it’s fed up people who already have an instinct and a suspicion about him [that] he’s a rich guy, [and] must be hiding something. But I’ve also been a little bit mystified about Romney’s response.

We all are as well, Karl.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Shovel To The Head Stunned

I didn't it was possible to cram so much truth into six minutes before!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Just Out of the Gate and Already Out of Gas

Last week Mitt Romney offered an energy plan that promised "energy independence." In reality it was just hot air:
The Romney energy plan, laid out in a 21-page white paper, relies heavily on creating deeper partnerships with Mexico and Canada. Mexico could use technical help to reverse its declining oil production, he said, and "Canada has oil sands. We're going to take advantage of those, and build that Keystone pipeline and work with Canada to make sure we have advantage of their great energy sources."
All told, that would dramatically boost oil and gas production, the candidate said. 
"I will set a national goal of ... North American energy independence by 2020."
So, let me get this straight: Romney's plan to make America "energy independent" relies completely on Canada and Mexico. Any plan based on a direct contradiction of its basic premise isn't a plan, but a big fat lie.

At its core this plan is doomed to abject failure because it focuses almost solely on gas and oil. These fossil fuels are global commodities. That means Canada and Mexico — and every American oil company — will be able sell their gas and oil to whoever offers the best price. And that means we can't be energy independent if China is willing to pay more for our (and Canada's) oil than Americans are. The Chinese will simply eat our lunch. Canadian and American oil companies will make out like bandits, but we won't be able to drive to work without paying an arm and a leg. That is, unless the government restricts or heavily taxes exports of oil. Which we know the Koch brothers won't let happen.

Thus, Romney's talk of "energy independence" by depending on fungible Canadian and Mexican commodities traded on world markets is either hopelessly uninformed about the basic economic laws of supply and demand, or mendacious and deceptive campaign rhetoric.

True energy independence can only come from energy resources that will last for centuries at minimum, that come directly from the United States, which cannot be diverted to foreign countries with deep pockets. Romney's plan fails on all counts: North American sources of oil will be depleted within my lifetime, they come mostly from Canada and Mexico, and booming Asian economies will be able to outbid us for them.

There are, however, energy resources that can provide true energy independence: wind, solar, hydroelectric, nuclear and to a lesser extent, coal. Other forms of energy (certain types of biofuels, but not corn-based ethanol) hold promise but can't be counted on yet.

To be truly independent we need to shift to renewable energy sources for basic electricity generation, long- and short-haul rail transportation and short-haul small vehicle transportation. We should hold non-renewables like coal in reserve for peak-demand power generation, and oil and natural gas for long-haul small-vehicle and air transportation. And as a bonus, we'd also cut down on air pollution, reducing the incidence of asthma, emphysema, heart disease and cancer, as well as reduce the effects of climate change.

This country needs a real energy plan, not Romney's marketing strategy for the oil and gas industry.

Family Values

As the convention in Tampa gets under way today, check out this story from CNN about how excited the industry of dance is that the GOP is coming to town. 

I guess they don't make as much money off of Democrats. What does that tell you?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Acceptable Collateral Damage?

On Friday Jeffrey Johnson shot a former co-worker to death on a New York street. Then he walked to the Empire State Building, still holding the gun, where police killed him. The police also shot nine other people on the street.

This is a tragedy, of course. But it also exposes the fantasy is that guns provide "protection." Every time there's a shooting, like in a movie theater in Aurora, or a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, or a strip mall in Tucson, some gun-hawking numbskull insists that lives would have been saved if only more people carried concealed weapons. The shootings on Friday show exactly what would happen if more people were carrying guns: more innocent bloodshed. Or, as the NRA apparently believes, acceptable collateral damage.

The police are trained in the use of weapons in pressure situations. In this case the shooter was standing on the street in broad daylight with a gun (unlike the darkened smoke-filled theater in Colorado). Yet the cops hit nine other people on the street. And the shooter did not even fire at the police:
[Police Commissioner Raymond] Kelly added: “As far as shots being fired yesterday, we had a witness that said that Johnson fired at the police. But the final count of the shells, it appears that that is not the case.”
Why were so many innocent people hit in the crossfire? (Well, since the guy didn't fire at police, I guess it wasn't really crossfire.) Most rounds fired from pistols miss their target. Pistols are inaccurate even at relatively short range and accuracy is further reduced in pressure situations. Bullets often pass through their targets and hit others. Ricochets can give bullets multiple chances to hit innocent victims.

Which means it's almost certain that if others actually did have concealed weapons and brought them out, there would have been many more dead and wounded. There's no way to tell crazed gunmen from pistol-packing vigilantes after the shooting starts: untrained vigilantes would be even more likely than the police to hit unintended targets. And then  the cops, who may have had no idea who the original aggressor was, would start shooting at them. And then the vigilantes would return fire at the cops. And then you have a big pile of corpses in front of the Empire State Building. And the original shooter may simply escape in all the confusion, smoke and blood.

Now, I'm guessing that this happened because mass shootings are in the forefront of everyone's mind. The cops, hearing gunshots in a crowded place, automatically assumed this guy was nutso and trying to take out as many people as possible. But it looks like Johnson wanted only to kill his lone archnemesis. The police apparently used maximum force to stop him as soon as possible, assuming that he was about to start shooting everyone around him.

I'm not going to criticize the cops here because there's still not enough information to know exactly what happened, and what information they had at the time, or exactly what Johnson might have said or done. Eyewitnesses at the scene may have given the cops bad information. We don't know yet, and we may never know.

But the main point is that more guns in this situation could have made a bad situation into a total bloodbath. For that reason, cities like New York, Washington and Chicago should be able to make their own laws about who can have and use guns. Gun laws that make perfect sense in rural Texas and Montana make no sense whatsoever in crowded cities like New York. If you don't like big city gun laws, don't go to big cities.

We should register each gun sale with at least as much rigor as we register voters. And make gun owners take personal responsibility for what happens to the guns they buy.

It's perfectly reasonable for a Texas rancher to carry a pistol, but a gun owned by a New York housewife will almost never protect her. It will far more likely be used to commit suicide, shoot her or her estranged husband during a domestic spat, kill one of her children when they find it loaded and play with it, or be stolen while she's at work and used to rob a liquor store, or kill a cop.

Police in big cities have long fought against liberal concealed carry laws. That's because they know how unreliable guns are as protection, and they don't want to shoot the wrong guy in a already dangerous situation.

Or get shot in the back by some vigilante who thinks he's the second coming of Clint Eastwood.

Breaking Even

If 316,000 jobs are added between now and November 6th, the president will break even on jobs since he took office. Included in their 13 slide display on the basic facts of the Obama economy, CNN illustrates in a very plain and simple way, where the president stands on jobs.

Here's the math: 4.316 million jobs were lost in the first 13 months of Obama's presidency. Since he took office, 4 million net jobs have been added back.

Given that the job losses occurred during the first year of his presidency, it's obvious that he's done a great job cleaning up the mess that was left for him.

The slide show contains several key data points for those of you who truly want to gauge the president's performance and the effect on the economy that his policies have had.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Romney Says Big Business Is Doing Fine: He Should Know

This week at a campaign fund raiser in Minnesota Mitt Romney committed a classic gaffe. He accidentally told the truth:
"Big business is doing fine in many places," Romney said during a campaign fundraiser Thursday. "They get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation. They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses."
Mitt should know: he's been evading taxes by parking his money in Swiss and Cayman Island tax havens for years. When President Obama said that the private sector was doing fine earlier this summer Republicans howled like a troop of wounded baboons.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul tried to cover for her boss, saying Romney "has long said we need to simplify the tax code, close loopholes and create a more level playing field for American businesses."

But the simple fact is, Romney's campaign and the Super PACs that are carpetbombing the country with negative ads against President Obama are funded by Sheldon Adelson's Macau casinos and other big businesses that use those overseas tax havens to evade taxes that should pay for the US Defense Department, among other things.

Romney's tax proposal has been quite specific about lowering corporate and capital gains taxes, but he categorically refuses to say which loopholes he'd close. Independent analysis of his plan concluded the only possible way to make his budget numbers work was to eliminate the "loopholes" that middle-income earners use: mortgage interest deductions, employer health care deductions, deduction of state income and property taxes, municipal bonds, and so on.

Does anyone seriously believe Romney would bite Sheldon Adelson's hand after Adelson spends a hundred million bucks to put Romney in the White House? Get real...

Civil War?

Well, another one of those right wingers has gone a little funny in the head. 

Lubbock Country Judge Tom Head (no, I am not making up the name) said that President Obama will "try to give the sovereignty of the United States away to the United Nations. What do you think the public's going to do when that happens? We are talking civil unrest, civil disobedience, possibly, possibly civil war. ... I'm not talking just talking riots here and there. I'm talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms, get rid of the dictator. OK, what do you think he is going to do when that happens? He is going to call in the U.N. troops, personnel carriers, tanks and whatever."

I haven't heard a good mouth foam about the UN in a while so this was certainly a breath of fresh air. I wonder if he is one of Kevin Baker's regular commenters?

A Perfect Summation

Andy over at ElectoralVote has a great paragraph up about Mitt Romney's taxes. has published 950 pages of internal Bain Capital documents involving Mitt Romney's finances and investments. The information is extremely complex but shows that one of Romney's driving forces was (legal) tax avoidance at all costs through the use of exceedingly complex financial instruments (often in the Cayman Islands), use of the carried interest provision in the Internal Revenue Code, and other similar maneuvers. 

Even if all these things are legal, one can ask the question of whether a person who has apparently devoted much of his life to paying the absolute minimum tax possible by using every trick in the book is setting a good example for everyone else. The document dump also exposes the lengths to which the very wealthy will go to avoid paying taxes by using methods available only to the very wealthiest Americans. It also raises the question of whether the laws should be changed to prevent this kind of tax avoidance.

I couldn't have said it better myself!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

God Bless America

Despite the continued efforts to get the country to believe that our economic woes are the fault of the president, our middle class blames Congress, the finance sector, private corporations, the Bush Administration, and foreign competition before they blame the president...just as they should.

Perhaps I need to rethink some of the themes of my posts. The people of this country aren't buying the bullshit that is being spewed about Barack Obama so why do I need to discuss it?

Argument over.

Finally An Answer!

There seems to be very little if nothing we can talk about when it comes to Mitt Romney. We can't talk about his taxes (even though he wants to change the rest of ours). We can't talk about his time at Bain (even though he is using it as a reason as to why he'd be able to turn our economy around). We can't talk about the Ryan Budget (even though he chose Paul Ryan to be his VP).

So what can we talk about?

Ah, got it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Conservative Case for Abortion

In recent years conservatives have proclaimed themselves to be a party of ideology. They have set up dozens of "think tanks" where they pay academics to justify selfishness and greed with policies like supply-side economics, denying climate change, and eliminating taxes on capital gains.

It's been reported that Republicans will again include in their party platform a constitutional ban on abortion with no exceptions. But this is completely arbitrary. After all, conservatives claim they believe all life is sacred, yet they favor the death penalty, limiting appeals in capital cases, summary execution of suspected terrorists, proactive wars with collateral damage (i.e., children killed by American bombardment), and Stand Your Ground laws that give people license to kill anyone they feel threatened by.

Conservatives could just as easily support abortion as they oppose it. So I will now present the conservative case for abortion, using the same sort of logic and rationalizations that conservative think tanks use to justify their other positions on killing, along with a smattering of religious and folk wisdom in the spirit of Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh. 

Fair warning: these arguments may well revolt you.

Number 1 Think Tank Argument:

The government has no right to tell a woman what to do with her body. A woman's person is completely inviolable, even more so than a man's home in the Castle Doctrine. Natural Law dictates that a person has total responsibility for and dominion over their own bodies, and an unborn fetus, which derived all matter and nourishment for growth from the mother, is essentially another bodily organ, like an extra spleen, until such time as it becomes an independent and sentient human being capable of survival outside the womb. As such, an abortion is just another medical procedure, like removing a benign tumor.

Number 1 Limbaugh Argument:

The government ain't gonna tell your woman she can't have an abortion. You're gonna tell her what to do. If you don't want her to have that baby, she ain't gonna have that baby. She probably got pregnant to trap you anyhow. If you're gonna be on the hook for child support, you're gonna decide whether she has it or not.

Robertson arguments:

Because Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, all men are born with original sin. Aborted children are guilty as sin, by definition. Any argument that unborn children are "innocent victims" is inherently flawed.

The Bible says unborn children do not count as real persons, nor do they have any significant value:

According to Exodus 21:12-13, killing another man is punishable by death or exile: "Death is the punishment for murder. But if you did not intend to kill someone, and I, the Lord, let it happen anyway, you may run for safety to a place that I have set aside." But the penalty for killing an unborn child is a mere fine, as indicated in Exodus 21:22: "If men, while fighting, do damage to a woman with child, causing the loss of the child, but no other evil comes to her, the man will have to make payment up to the amount fixed by her husband, in agreement with the decision of the judges." Since the husband decides the worth of a fetus, the husband can decide whether the wife will have an abortion.

"And if it be from a month old even unto five years old, then thy estimation shall be of the male five shekels of silver, and for the female thy estimation shall be three shekels of silver." -- Leviticus 27:6. Newborns and fetuses are worth nothing.

"Number the children of Levi after the house of their fathers, by their families: every male from a month old and upward shalt thou number them. And Moses numbered them according to the word of the LORD." -- Numbers 3:15-16. Newborns and fetuses don't count.

Original Intent:

If the Framers of the Constitution intended that the unborn have rights, they would have included it in the Constitution. Just as it's wrong to invent new rights for gays out of thin air, something the Framers would never have agreed to, it's wrong to invent new rights for the unborn, who aren't even living, breathing real people capable of independent thought or existence. After all, if a slave was counted as 3/5 of a person, an unborn fetus is obviously zero.

There's no question that abortion should be allowed in the case of rape, if not required: a rapist can't be rewarded by allowing the child of his evil act to be born. And the child born of that evil seed will probably be evil as well: like father, like son.

Furthermore, the rapist's child is occupying a woman's womb where another man's child could be hosted. This represents a large lost opportunity cost, since the market price of a surrogate mother can run into six figures. The rapist is therefore literally stealing a small fortune should his bastard be allowed to come to term.
Personal Responsibility:

If people can't afford to provide for a child, they've got to do what's right and get rid of it. Putting their unwanted bastard up for adoption is pointless as well: it'll turn out to be a loser like its folks.


Stand Your Ground laws allow you to pursue and kill someone who has stolen something from you, even if the thief is fleeing and you're completely safe. Since it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise a child, an unwanted child is like a thief who just keeps stealing from you for 18 years, presenting a grave threat to your economic livelihood. Since that unborn thief doesn't even count as a person, the government has no business telling you that you can't get rid of it.


Women are 14 times more likely to die from childbirth than they are from abortion. It makes far more sense to abort an unwanted child than to chance death, serious injury or economic ruin. Why risk making a woman's children orphans and her husband a widower out of a cockamamie liberal concern for the non-existent rights of a non-person?

Welfare Reform:

People on welfare are a tremendous drain on the economy, sucking the life out of hard-working taxpayers. These welfare queens have oodles of kids and the rest of us are on the hook to pay for them. Kicking them off welfare isn't good enough: their kids will wind up in school, at least for a few years while they drag down the performance of non-welfare kids, and after that they'll drop out and become drug dealers, or get pregnant and go on welfare, repeating the cycle.

Therefore, in line with states' rights and in the interest of reducing costs, states should be able to use Medicaid funds to provide welfare recipients with free abortions so that the rest of us don't have to pay for the consequences of their fun. In addition states should be able to use Medicaid funds to incent welfare recipients to have abortions. Spending a few bucks up front will save hundreds of billions of dollars in the long run: most of those welfare queens would jump at an extra hundred bucks for their crack habit. Plus, it'll reduce the number of Democrat voters.

Finally, activist judges and the federal government should stop interfering with states who are trying to balance budgets. They should allow states to resume sterilizing women with multiple children on welfare, a practice which meddlesome Northerners forced Southern states to stop in the 1970s.

Yes, these arguments are shallow and hateful. But that's what conservative think tanks do for a living: rationalize the irrational and justify the unjustifiable.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

He's Not The Only One

Todd Akin isn't the only one who lives in some bizarro universe in which women can't get pregnant from rape. Representative Steve King from Iowa:

KMEG 14 - News, Weather, Sports for Sioux City and Siouxland |

He hasn't heard of statutory rape or incest? The United Way must be making things up, I guess. 
These people should not be allowed to run anything. Ever.

The Republicans' Akin Heart

Swarms of Republicans are now calling for Todd Akin to withdraw from the Senate race in Missouri. Akin is drawing fire for comment he made on a television show about pregnancy resulting from rape:
From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.
Republicans are worried that Akin will lose his race against Claire McCaskill, reducing the chance of a Republican takeover in the Senate, and that his continued presence will allow the Democrats to characterize him and other Republicans as continuing the war on women. Worse, they're afraid that this may influence the attitudes of women in general, possibly costing the Romney/Ryan ticket the election.

So now Republicans are falling over themselves to distance themselves from what Akin said. But many of them have been advancing this very idea. For example, Paul Ryan co-sponsored legislation in 2011 that would strengthen federal prohibitions on abortion funding, redefining rape so that only "forcible rape" (Akin's "legitimate rape") would be exempt. That is, if you go out on a date with a guy and he rapes  you, or a coworker rapes you in the office, or your brother rapes you at home, tough luck: you've got to bear the scumbag's child.

Republicans thought they had put the war on women behind them. The public's memory is fleeting, and the all-male Congressional hearing on birth control was months ago, as were Rush Limbaugh's despicable comments about Sandra Fluke, the elections in which states tried to define human life as beginning at conception, effectively outlawing all abortion, and so on.

But now Akin has committed the unpardonable sin of saying out loud what so many Republicans believe in their heart of hearts: that women who get raped deserve it, that they should suffer the consequences for tempting men, and all women should pay the price for Eve eating the apple and bringing all this sin down upon mankind.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Generosity Gap

A new study claims that religious people and Republican-leaning states give more money to charity than the non-religious. Like most such studies there are some picky details that undermine the entire gist of the report.

The study found:
The most generous state was Utah, where residents gave 10.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity. Next were Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina. The least generous was New Hampshire, at 2.5 percent, followed by Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Hmm... 10.6%. Why does 10% sound so familiar?
In Mormon teachings, for instance, Latter Day Saints are required to pay a 10% tithe to remain church members in good standing, which helps explain the high giving rate in heavily-Mormon Utah.
In other words, the people who contribute the most to "charity" are actually giving their money to their church, which threatens them with eternal damnation if they don't fork over the cash. This is like the bad old days when the Catholic Church offered "indulgences" to the wealthy, in which their "pardoner" would hold their soul hostage for the sins they had confessed, exchanging cash to avoid harsh penance.

Giving money to a church isn't charity. It's primarily an insurance plan for your immortal soul. It's also a fee-for-service arrangement that pays for the minister to act as an adviser and weekly stand-up comic. It's mostly used to pay for mortgages, building maintenance, operating expenses, and salaries, and sometimes subsidizes day care and education for church members. In large church organizations the local franchises send money off to headquarters to maintain the central hierarchy in the style to which it is accustomed and round up more customers ("missions"). Appeals for money for actual charitable works, such as the "poor box" and assistance for natural disasters, are made separately from the normally expected donations.

In other words, churches are and always have been big businesses. The ascendance of brazen money-grubbing televangelists is simply the logical extension of the model.

The article doesn't have enough detail to know for sure, but the numbers in Utah suggest that charitable giving is pretty much the same across the country, if you discount contributions to churches, or at least the portion that used for hierarchical overhead and services provided directly back to customers.

So it doesn't seem that the unchurched and Democrats are any less generous. In addition:
Alan Wolfe, a political science professor at Boston College, said it's wrong to link a state's religious makeup with its generosity. People in less religious states are giving in a different way by being more willing to pay higher taxes so the government can equitably distribute superior benefits, Wolfe said. And the distribution is based purely on need, rather than religious affiliation or other variables, said Wolfe, also head of the college's Boisi Center for Religion and Public Life.
People who live states with higher taxes fund the support infrastructure for better education, better roads and public welfare. That helps all people regardless of race, color or creed. Doesn't that seem more generous?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wrong on Wind, Right on Ethanol

In a recent opinion piece George Will blurted out the following as if it were the most elementary truth you learn in grade school:
This may seem a minor matter, as well as an obvious and easy decision for a conservative. The wind tax credit is, after all, industrial policy, the government picking winners and losers in defiance of market signals — industrial policy always is a refusal to heed the market’s rejection of that which the government singles out for favoritism.
This is a completely fatuous proclamation, ignorant of history. The federal government has always picked winners and losers when setting industrial policy.

When the government wanted to expand westward it picked winners and losers by granting railroads rights of way that ran roughshod over anyone who happened to be in their way.

When the federal government built the freeway system it picked winners and losers by building a transportation system for the trucking industry, completely undermining the rail system that it has subsidized only decades before and giving automobile and oil companies huge market opportunities.

Oil companies reap huge subsidies from the government, thousands of times greater than the subsidies that wind power receives.

But what about Will's infamous "market signals?" The market has been sending signals about the price of oil for decades. In the Seventies the Arab oil embargo sent a huge shock through the American economy, and allowed the Japanese to gain entry into the American automobile market and almost crush Detroit. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait sent a signal strong enough for us to start a war. Every time Iran says boo about the Straits of Hormuz the price of oil spikes.

Every year or two there's another massive oil spill, sending another market signal. This summer's drought and the high price of corn sends another market signal: the warming climate, caused by excess CO2 from burning fossil fuel, will increase the cost of food and reduce yields.

Will is right about one thing: not all subsidies are equal. But instead of worshiping at the altar of the market, he should pay some attention to the sciences of geology, agronomy and physics. He lumps together the wind tax credit and subsidies for the production of ethanol, which is usually made from corn. He's dead wrong on wind, but right on ethanol.

Geology: there's only a finite amount of oil, and it's going to run out in our lifetimes, especially as Asia and Africa begin to demand the lifestyle Americans enjoy. Its price fluctuates wildly and constantly, and because it mostly comes from countries antagonistic to the United States (the Middle East, Venezuela, Russia), it's critical to ensure that we have other sources of energy.

Agronomy: corn-based ethanol is just about the worst form of fuel possible. It's made from a foodstuff, so every bushel of corn turned into ethanol is a bushel of corn that people and livestock can't eat. Corn requires massive amounts of water and often requires more energy (usually from oil) for cultivation, fertilizer, transport, and so on, than it produces as ethanol.

Physics: once the infrastructure in place wind power is essentially free. The wind will still be blowing strong across North Dakota long after the oil boom there busts and the derricks fall silent.

The government has to be responsible for setting industrial policy for the long term, because multinational corporations have no concern about the future of the United States. They only care about profits in the next quarter and whether the stock price gains will garner the CEO his bonus. Wind power subsidies are ridiculously cheap compared to the amount of money the government spends subsidizing the oil and automobile industries with the highway system alone.

The only reason to oppose wind power subsidies is to hammer political opponents who support them. Wind power isn't some distant pipe dream. The United States has about 48,000 megawatts of installed capacity. That powers tens of millions of homes.

Wind: it's the conservative choice.

See, This Is What Happens...

The first term Senator from Missouri, Claire McCaskill, was pretty much toast this fall. Even with the nomination of the extremely conservative Todd Akin, she was likely going to lose the election.

Funny things always happen, though, when you have a far right wing candidate...things like them opening their mouths and talking. 

First of all, from what I understand from doctors [pregnancy from rape] is really rare…If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.


Do we really want to trust someone this ignorant with the task of running our country?

He Built It And He Had Help

James C. Roumell, one of those wealthy job creators, has a brilliant piece in The Washington Post which pretty much puts the last nail in the coffin on all the mouth foaming about President Obama's recent comment on having help to build a business. He also breaks a few myths about Detroit but I'll leave the denizens of Bill Whittle to continue to live in their fictional world on that subject.

First, let's find out a little about Mr. Roumell.

Today, I own a small business, an asset management firm with $300 million in assets. Last year we launched the Roumell Opportunistic Value Fund (RAMSX) and hired three more people. We’re growing and creating jobs.

Sounds like someone Mitt Romney would like to cozy up to as an example of what's great about America. But wait!

I suppose I could pound my chest and take credit for my journey from Detroit to Chevy Chase, from working class to professional. I could say I built it myself. But this wouldn’t be true.

Aw, snap. Well, fuck this guy. He's a collectivist!

It gets worse.

I went to college with the help of Pell Grants and government loans. Twenty years ago I met Claiborne Pell and was able to thank the former Democratic senator from Rhode Island for introducing the Higher Education Act of 1965, which allowed me to go to college. 

My business has been made possible by the Investment Company Act of 1940 and the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. These laws created practices and transparency that enabled a financial services industry to emerge. After the stock market collapse of 1929, the public rightly did not trust Wall Street and needed assurances that the industry would operate within a reliable set of rules.

A collectivist and a statist. Is he even an American?

Since Mr. Roumell is an investor, doesn't that mean he is a victim of Barack Obama's policies that have created uncertainty in the marketplace?


Nothing in terms of “regulations” or “business uncertainty” has stopped me from investing capital for a return. In fact, the stability that government involvement brought to the capital markets over the past three years, evidenced by a 100 percent increase in the Standard and Poor’s 500-stock index since March 2009, probably enabled my business to survive. The federal government’s back-stopping of money market funds in the fall of 2008 ended, effectively in one day, what was turning into a 1930s-style bank run.

I thought the government was supposed to just let the free market do its thing. Otherwise, it always makes things worse, right? Oh, and on Friday, the S&P closed at 1418.16, near a four year high. 

Mr. Roumell closes with two simple facts.

The countries that spend the least on government as a percentage of their economy (gross domestic product) are countries with little business success. Haiti, Bangladesh and Afghanistan spend 16, 13 and 9 percent of their GDP, respectively. Our federal government has spent around 20 percent of GDP since World War II. Europe typically spends slightly over 50 percent, so we’re a long way off even after factoring in an additional 15 percent for state and local government spending.


And to those people who still can't understand President Obama's comment?

I did work harder, and perhaps more imaginatively, than many colleagues. But does that mean I built it myself? Does it diminish my success to be grateful for the public investments that so clearly contributed to my success? Every successful person knows, and will admit if he is honest, that luck played a role in his good fortune.

Why is it so difficult for the right to admit this?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Managing Fantasies Indeed

Last in line asked me yesterday if I wanted to go see Dinesh D'Souza's new film about the president. I told him that I would pass (even if he paid for it) and here's the reason why: I'm not going to be a party to the continued population of a fictional world.

The record of the last decade or so suggests that the party these days is animated by two main goals. First, it seeks unchallengeable, absolute power. Its modus operandi for achieving that goal has been to use institutional power—the power of corporations, courts and legislatures—to acquire more institutional power. A recent case is the drive in Republican-dominated states around the country to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as the poor and minorities, by legislating onerous requirements for voting.

The other goal has been a less familiar one. More and more, Republicans have exhibited a strong desire to take up residence in an imaginary world, an alternate reality—one in which global warming is found to be a fraud perpetrated by the world’s top scientists, Obama turns out to have been born in Kenya and is a Muslim (and a socialist), budgets can be slashed without social pain, firing government employees reduces unemployment, tax cuts for the wealthy replenish government coffers, and so forth. Perhaps it seems odd to identify such an objective as a political goal, but past ideological movements of the left as well as the right offer many examples of the power of such a longing.

There is nothing more dangerous than a very large group of people who refuse to admit error and continue anyway with their meglomaniacal fantasies.

Worse, they seem to slip effortlessly into what I've been calling recently, "Heading Off At The Pass" syndrome. A severely debilitating avoidance reaction, this can take many forms (rest assured, I will be talking about them quite a bit between now and the election). An excellent example of this is Kevin Baker's continued use of the phrase "Do it again, only harder." His complaint is that liberal and progressive ideas have failed and that's why we have all these problems. Liberals want to do more to try to make up for their "failures."

In reality, (not the fictional world in which Kevin, his ilk, and what is now the GOP reside) however, those policies have worked.  Since Social Security first started we've seen our country grow into a massive power in the world. We had massive debt, deficits, high taxes, big government and socialized medicine while we essentially became the financial and cultural hegemenon of the world. We defeated the Nazis, the Communists, and are about to defeat Islamic extremism all with our free market ideals, capitalism, and democracy.

There's no need do any of it again or harder. We've already won.

And by "we," I mean all of us. Of course, people on the right wont't accept this because they can't stand losing an ideological argument (in typical adolescent form). They will have you believe our world is going to end any minute. In a certain sense, THEIR world has ended, in their eyes, because they have been proven wrong.  Their enemy is the truth so they have to invent fiction. Since there is never a shortage of fearful and ignorant people, they have power and here's where the danger comes in.

As the very famous and accurate phrase goes, we hate in others what we fear in ourselves. Yet, it was THEIR policies of deregulation and free market fundamentalism that brought us to the tough economic spot we are in right now. THEY are the ones that want to "Do it again, only harder" because they simply can't stand being wrong or admitting fault.

This is the Romney-Ryan ticket in a nutshell. It's a fantasy world filled with promises of giving failed policies another shot because somehow it was the fault of liberals that they didn't work the first time. I've said this many times and I guess I have to say it again.

The party who champions individual responsibility claims none of it.

Something Doesn't Add Up

I just have to say, given the challenges that America faces — 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty — the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small-minded.

  • Small-minded is Mitt Romney's insistence on keeping his tax returns secret, in comparison to his father's release of 12 years of tax returns. Most other presidential candidates in the last 40 years have released five to 30 years.
  • Small-minded is Mitt Romney's insistence on tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, even as we were fighting two wars, and recovering from a recession that has hit the poor and middle class especially hard, while corporations have been wallowing in cash.
  • Small-minded is the Republican fascination with the personal lives of gay people, and their insistence on dictating who they can marry.
  • Small-minded is the majority of Republicans who insist that Obama's Hawaii birth certificate is false, that Obama is a Muslim, that Obama is a anti-colonialist born in Kenya. Apparently, 64% of Republicans are latched on to this fantasy (and still think Saddam had WMDs).

But back to Romney's tax returns: something just doesn't add up. In 2010 and 2011 Romney made $42.5 million, or $21 million a year. Estimates of Romney's wealth are between $190 and $250 million. Now, he's been "retired" since 1999, which means that he's quite probable that he's been making in the ballpark of $20 million a year for the last 12 years.

If you multiply $20 million times 12 years, you get $240 million, or Romney's current worth. What happened to the money that Romney made during the 20 or so years he worked at Bain and other jobs?

Unless Romney's got an incredibly profligate lifestyle, or made a lot of really terrible investments, there seems to be a lot of missing money. It looks like Romney's got a ton of money socked away in places we don't know about.

This is why we need to see Romney's tax returns for the last 10 years, if not 20 years. Something just does not smell right here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mitt Comes Clean

So Governor Romney has come clean and said that he looked through his taxes and paid around 13 percent every year for the last 10 years. Harry Reid's response? Prove it.

I'm trying to figure out why he would make any sort of comment at all if he's not going to release his other returns which he says he won't. He did say he would release 2011 but the deadline for that is Oct 15, 2012 (I guess he got an extension). That also makes no sense as it is right before the election. And, what if the returns do come out and Harry Reid is right or partially right? Then Mitt would be caught in a lie.

With the white board weirdness yesterday, their campaign plan seems haphazard bordering on the bizarre. Why aren't they out there talking more about Paul Ryan, who clearly has energized the crowds and the base?

Oh, Really?

Here is a link with all the letters in PDF format.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


A Billboard In Minneapolis

By A Landslide

On pretty much every political and social site out there, it won't take you long to see a reference to Barack Obama as the Goldman Sachs president. In 2008, he received around 10 million dollars in contributions compared to McCain who got around 7 million dollars so there was cause to call him this back then.

But after Dodd-Frank and his continued call for actually enforcing regulations on the financial sector, the party's over for the president. As of last June, Mitt Romney has raked in 37 million dollars from the financial sector compared to Obama's paltry 5 million dollars. 

So, if you are one of those folks falling all over themselves to look for a "Wall Street" candidate, it's Mitt Romney by a landslide. And please join us in the year 2012 and stop being childishly dishonest.

From Russia, Without Love

Ayn Rand is back in the news now that Rand acolyte Paul Ryan has been chosen as Mitt Romney's running mate. I found this link to an Ayn Rand interview on the Tonight Show from 1967. Hearing her speak is entertaining because she sounds exactly the way you would expect a Soviet spy to sound.

The usual slam on Ayn Rand is that her Objectivist philosophy is a selfish adolescent power fantasy. And there's good reason for that. The Russian Revolution took place when Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum (Rand's birth name) was 12 years old. It completely shattered her world and scarred her for life. Objectivism was literally born in the mind of an teen-aged girl whose father's pharmacy was confiscated when the Bolsheviks came to power.

Her family were non-practicing Jews. She decided in high school that she was an atheist, no doubt under the influence of the Soviet school system. Rand went to Petrograd State University and was purged with other bourgeois students, but managed to get a degree due to the intervention of visiting foreign scientists. She went to the United States in 1925 and eventually became a Hollywood screenwriter.

Rand believed that reason is the primary human attribute. She rejected absolutely any form of religion, and believed the very concept of altruism was incompatible with human life and happiness.

Ironically, this flies in the face of reason. Altruism is essential for human and animal communities to survive and grow, and even for the evolution of life itself. Since Rand's death there's been a great deal of research into altruistic behavior in other species, which exists even in bacterial colonies. There may even be an altruism gene. Without altruism, the only nations that could field an army and wage wars would be pirate states that conquered other countries for profit, and doled out the spoils of war to soldiers. Otherwise, why risk your life to defend your country? Let the addle-brained fools who believe in God and an afterlife get themselves killed on the field of battle. Better to stay home and get rich selling weapons to the government.

And, of course, altruism is the very basis of Christianity ("Christ died for our sins"). 

At its core Rand's philosophy is a childish refutation of Soviet Russia's revolution. Objectivism is Bizarro communism: the exact opposite of communism in every respect except its embrace of pseudo-rationality and rejection of religion. Rand's philosophy epitomizes what communists portray capitalists as: supremely selfish, narcissistic, profit-seeking automata.

The problem with Objectivism is that it is inherently weak and cannot work for large groups. It glorifies selfishness instead of loyalty and steadfastness. If there is no altruism, there is no love, no trust. All alliances are fleeting conveniences, to be abandoned instantly when reason indicates selfish gain is to be had. Life for objectivists is one long Machiavellian pissing contest.

Objectivism is so preposterous that it must be the product of a Hollywood screenwriter. Which, in fact, it is.

The cynic in me says that Ayn Rand is just the L. Ron Hubbard of capitalism. But it makes me wonder: was Ayn Rand really a Soviet mole sent to Hollywood to sabotage the West with a form of capitalism that was so toxic and self-destructive that it would collapse under the sheer weight of its selfishness?

Может быть, товарищ. Может быть...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Taking One for the Team

Early next year fiscal Armageddon is scheduled to take place when the budget is sequestered -- which means automatic spending cuts to everything. Conservatives have been screaming bloody murder about how this will gut the Defense Department, claiming that the budget will be "slashed by more than $600 billion."

Turns out this claim is false.
The oft-repeated higher figure of $600 billion is actually the total in projected deficit reduction that the government would get by cutting $492 billion from the military. The extra $108 billion in projected savings would come via interest payments the government wouldn't have to make. Since the government would be spending less, it could borrow less and thus save on interest. [...]
Both a Congressional Budget Office report and the head of the Office of Management and Budget concur that the proper figure for the cuts is $492 billion, or about $55 billion annually over nine years.
Now the Defense Department's budget is $550 billion, so a $55 billion annual cut could easily be achieved by cutting a few junkets by DoD honchos, shutting down a few useless bases and eliminating a few worthless weapons systems that are sops to powerful congressmen funneling earmarks to their districts. In addition, the war in Afghanistan is drawing down, so defense spending just doesn't need to maintain its current levels.

Depending on how you want to count, the United States spends as much as the next 10 or 12 countries on defense. Yes, we are in a special situation, and we do have a larger responsibility to ourselves and the rest of the world for defense. But defense is just another government program, and is quite prone to overcharging and outright deception by private contractors to whom most of the defense budget flows. As someone who's worked in the industry I've seen firsthand how it works.

This whole problem could be solved if all those patriotic defense contractors pitched in and cut their prices by 10%. It would best for them in the long run to avoid having to make hard choices about which programs to cut, wouldn't it?

As Republican keep telling us, it's about time the people sucking on the government teat took one for the team.

Stop Them From Selling Their Potion

Yeah, Not So Much

Remember all that business about how voter fraud was rampant and every state needed to pass laws to stop this awful law breaking.

Yeah, not so much. 

The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000.

10? Good grief, someone call the CDC. This epidemic is out of control!!!

With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voters.

Well, now I can see why this was such a concern and why we now need photo ID's.

Oh, wait. Here's why.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Placing the Blame Where It Belongs

There's an interesting article from Bruce Bartlett, a policy advisor to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, in the New York Times.

In "Blaming Obama for George W. Bush's Policies," Bartlett points out that it was Bush's tax cuts, Bush's wars in the Middle East, and Bush's Medicare Part D that turned the $236 billion surplus Bill Clinton bequeathed to Bush into a $1.3 trillion deficit in 2009. And it was Dick Cheney, Bush's VP, who said that deficits don't matter.

Bartlett then likens the $787 billion stimulus package that Obama managed to push through Congress to an inadequate dose of medicine. Obama's advisors (and economists like Paul Krugman) said this was too small. It was like a tuberculosis patient taking only half the antibiotics: the disease is suppressed, but not cured. That's why there aren't more jobs: consumers don't have enough cash on hand to increase demand for products, so businesses can't hire more people to increase production.

Bartlett ends his piece with:
But it was Republican policies during the Bush administration that brought on the sickness and Republicans in Congress who have denied the economy an adequate dosage of the cure. Now they want to implicitly blame President Obama for causing the recession and the failure of stimulus to fix the problem, asserting that fiscal stimulus is per se ineffective.
There is a word for this: chutzpah.
There's another word for it: sabotage. Republicans have done everything they can to keep the economy in the tank to gain partisan advantage in the 2012 election.

Now Paul Ryan, the apostle of Ayn Rand, has been anointed to deliver the ultimatum of economic blackmail: give the wealthy gigantic tax cuts or they'll tank the economy again.

They Like Him But...

Nearly all of my conservative friends are overjoyed at the pick of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's VP. I'm still trying to figure out why Mittens picked someone to fire up the base. With all of them foaming at the mouth about making President Obama a one term president, was he really worried that they wouldn't turn out and vote for him?

These same conservative friends of mine cry foul when I point out facts about Congressmen Ryan. They think I'm lying when I say he has never really worked in the private sector. They think I'm lying when I say that he has been a career politician. They really get pissed when I demonstrate how he used Social Security benefits to pull himself up by his bootstraps.

How pissed will they be when they read this? 

In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices. And it couldn’t pass even if Republicans were to take the presidency and both houses of Congress. Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have no plan to take on Wall Street, the Fed, the military-industrial complex, social insurance or the nation’s fiscal calamity and no plan to revive capitalist prosperity — just empty sermons.

That's not some raging liberal writing here. That's David Stockman, Ronald Reagan's OMB guy from 1981-1985. In true propeller head fashion, Stockman breaks down the numbers of the Ryan Budget and shows it for all it is...a plan that won't reduce the debt or the deficit.

Folks, here are the facts about The Great Thinker's plans. His Road Map didn't see a balanced budget until the 2060s and added 60 trillion dollars to the national debt. His revised plan was at least a little better with a balanced budget in the 2030s and 14 trillion dollars to the debt. I challenge anyone to take a hard look at these plans and check the numbers.

So what does his plan actually do? Here's an excellent primer from The Christian Science Monitor.

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's True

Here's a photo that has been making the rounds lately...

Is it true? As we say in Minnesota, "You betcha!"

When Paul Ryan's dad died suddenly of a heart attack when the VP pick was 16, he used the Social Security death benefits to pay for college. Once again, I find it enormously frustrating that someone on the right shits all over the nice place in which he lives simply because he read Ayn Rand and is on an adolescent power trip.

Oh, and I also don't want to hear any more bitching about the "liberal media" after this piece in the New York Times. 

His self-reliance followed him to summer camp, where as a counselor he canoed and hiked, and into young adulthood, where he took up deer hunting, a fact noted in his engagement notice in 2000 in The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Ryan is an avid hunter and fisherman,” the paper reported, “who does his own skinning and butchering and makes his own Polish sausage and bratwurst.”

Self reliance aided by...someone else...and something else...Social Security. In fact, isn't Paul Ryan a living example of what President Obama meant by not doing everything on your own?

Ryan Plan Reduces Taxes on 1% to 1%

Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's pick for vice president, wants to make Harry Reid an honest man. His tax plan would eliminate taxes on wealthy people like Mitt Romney:
In his 2010 “Roadmap for America’s Future,” Ryan proposed eliminating taxes on corporate income, estates, dividends, interest and capital gains. He would simplify the individual income tax system into a two-rate structure topping out at 25 percent and impose what is effectively an 8.5 percent value-added tax.
Under Ryan's tax plan Romney would pay less than 1% in taxes because so little of his income is earned; most of Romney's income is in dividends, interest and capital gains. He earned a paltry $593,996 in 2010, while making $21.9 million dollars and paying only 13.9% in taxes. This is because the Bush tax cuts include a 15% capital gains tax rate, which means rich guys like Romney can loaf around and do nothing while people who actually have to bust their asses doing real work pay up to 35%.

Talk about picking winners and losers.

Poor people who currently pay no taxes would pay drastically more with a VAT tax, which is a sales tax on everything.

Middle-class workers would see the price of everything they buy go up almost 10% because of the VAT, and their net taxes would actually go up because loopholes like the home interest deduction would have to be eliminated in order for the Ryan plan to work at all. That's because, even though corporations are people, my friends, they would pay no taxes under Ryan's plan, and someone has to pay for the gigantic military budget increases Romney is promising.

Meanwhile, rich people could simply rearrange some deck chairs with their fund managers to pay zero tax.

And that's why porn star Jenna Jameson endorsed Mitt Romney from the stage of a strip club, saying "When you're rich, you want a Republican in office."

Yes, Please

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sometimes The Bible Is Wrong

Who was it again who was telling me that conservative Christians were nothing like Islamic fundamentalism? just-dave? Some TSM commenters?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Yes. Yes, It Can

The Veep

Today, Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan to be his vice president. Here are my initial thoughts.

By choosing Ryan, Romney has shown that he is essentially going to be a piss boy for the hard right. As Grover Norquist noted, all they really need is a guy to sign his name. I can't think of a more perfect way to illustrate a Romney presidency.

The "Ryan Budget" will now get an immense amount of scrutiny and I think that's a great thing. As is usually the case with the right, they thump their chest and issue loud declarations about how things like this will save us all before any serious analysis is done. Their emotions and beliefs kick in and they stop thinking. Well, now we get to critically examine the plan which means you can be certain his ideas for Medicare are going to be ripped to shreds.

How is Paul Ryan going to run as a Washington outsider? He's a 7 term congressmen. It will be interesting to see how that plays with the Tea Party crowd as he has never worked in the private sector.

And I'm still wondering why conservatives love Ryan so least the Christian ones. As a card carrying member of the Rand Cult, that isn't really congruent. I want someone to ask him why he uses her as an ideological center-a woman who despises Christianity (and all religion for that matter) and is pro abortion.

People say the VP choice never really matters. Certainly that wasn't the CSS with Sarah Palin. I think the choice of Ryan will matter very, very much and perhaps moreso than Palin. How will this all play out?