Sunday, September 30, 2012

Repackaging Mitt as a Compassionate Conservative? It’s Too Late

From Robert Reich  --  follow link to original

Repackaging Mitt as a Compassionate Conservative? It’s Too Late

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
“My heart aches for the people I’ve seen,” Mitt Romney said, on the second day of his Ohio bus tour. He’s now telling stories of economic hardship among the people he’s met.
Up until now, Romney’s stories on the campaign trail have been about business successes – people who started businesses in garages and grew their companies into global giants, entrepreneurs who succeeded because of grit and determination, millionaires who began poor. Horatio Alger updated.
Curiously absent from these narratives have been the stories of ordinary Americans caught in an economy over which they have no control. That is, most of us.
At least until now.
“I was yesterday with a woman who was emotional,” Romney recounts, “and she said, ‘Look, I’ve been out of work since May.’ She was in her 50s. She said, ‘I don’t see any prospects. Can you help me?’”
Could it be Romney is finally getting the message that many Americans need help through no fault of their own?
“There are so many people in our country that are hurting right now,” Romney says.  “I want to help them.”
Later in the day, Romney told NBC that because of his efforts as governor of Massachusetts, “one hundred percent of the kids in our state had health insurance. I don’t think there’s anything that shows more empathy and care about the people of this country than that kind of record.”
But the repackaging of Mitt as a compassionate conservative won’t work. The good citizens of Ohio — as elsewhere — have reason to be skeptical.
This is, after all, the same Mitt Romney who told his backers in Boca Raton that 47 percent of Americans are dependent on government and unwilling to take care of themselves.
It’s the same Romney who was against bailing out GM and Chrysler. One in eight jobs in Ohio is dependent on the automobile industry. Had GM and Chrysler gone under, unemployment in Ohio would be closer to the national average of 8.1 percent than the 7.2 percent it is today.   
This is the same Romney who has been against extending unemployment benefits. Or providing food stamps or housing benefits for families that have fallen into poverty. Or medical benefits. To the contrary, Romney wants to repeal Obamacare, turn Medicare into vouchers, and turn Medicaid over to cash-starved states.
This is the same Mitt Romney who doesn’t worry that Wall Street financiers — including his own Bain Capital — have put so much pressure on companies for short-term profits that they’re still laying off workers and reluctant to take on any more.
And the same Mitt who doesn’t want government to spend money repairing our crumbling infrastructure, rebuilding our schools, or rehiring police and firefighters and teachers.

Romney says he feels their pain but his policy prescriptions would create more pain.  
Mitt Romney’s real compassion is for people like himself, whom he believes are America’s “job creators.” He aims to cut taxes on the rich, in the belief that the rich create jobs — and the benefits of such a tax cut trickle down to everyone else.
Trickle-down economics is the core of Romney’s economics, and it’s bunk. George W. Bush cut taxes — mostly for the wealthy — and we ended up with fewer jobs, lower wages, and an economy that fell off a cliff in 2008.
In Ohio Romney is repeating his claim that, under his tax proposal, the rich would end up paying as much as before even at a lower tax rate because he’d limit their ability to manipulate the tax code. “Don’t be expecting a huge cut in taxes because I’m also going to be closing loopholes and deductions,” he promises.
But Romney still refuses to say which loopholes and deductions he’ll close. He doesn’t even mention the “carried interest” loophole that has allowed him and other private-equity managers to treat their incomes as capital gains, taxed at 15 percent.
What we’re seeing in Ohio isn’t a new Mitt Romney. It’s a newly-packaged Mitt Romney. The real Mitt Romney is the one we saw on the videotape last week. And no amount of re-taping can disguise the package’s true contents. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Hagee: Fasting and Prayer Ended the Civil War

This from "Right Wing Watch" - follow link to original

Hagee: Fasting and Prayer Ended the Civil War

Glenn Beck recently sat down with John Hagee, whom Beck called "a prophet of our times," to discuss the importance of prayer regarding the upcoming election, which both Beck and Hagee agreed was the most important election since the Civil War.
Not coincidentally, Hagee noted, it was Abraham Lincoln's declaration of a national day of fasting and prayer that was responsible for bringing that war to an end:
We'd like to point out that Lincoln issued this declaration on March 30, 1863 and Lee did not  have "the grace to surrender" for another two years, until April 9, 1865.

The Battle Of Antietam was Sept 17, 1862.  Gettysburg was July 1-3 1863.

It was guns, men, and the will to continue fighting that won the war.  It was not God  --  heck, I suspect the treasonous rebels of the confederacy thought "God" was on THEIR side  --  still the namby-pamby "mechanics" of the North beat the crap out of all the "Southern Gentlemen".

Please remember, it was a  "rich man's war and a poor man's fight".  Lots of rich slave holders, plantation owners who stood to gain the most DID NOT FIGHT.

Oh, I almost forgot, along with Grant, the person who should be looked upon as a SAINT,for helping save The Union is William Tecumseh Sherman and his GALLANT "march to the sea".

#43 -- 7th in Illinois

Old Plank Trail Community Bank, National Association, New Lenox, Illinois, Assumes All of the Deposits of First United Bank, Crete, Illinois

September 28, 2012
Media Contact:
David Barr (202) 898-6992

First United Bank, Crete, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Old Plank Trail Community Bank, National Association, New Lenox, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of First United Bank.
The five branches of First United Bank will reopen during normal business hours as branches of Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. Depositors of First United Bank will automatically become depositors of Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage up to applicable limits. Customers of First United Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. that it has completed systems changes to allow other Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. branches to process their accounts as well.
This evening and over the weekend, depositors of First United Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.
As of June 30, 2012, First United Bank had approximately $328.4 million in total assets and $316.9 million in total deposits. Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. will pay the FDIC a premium of 0.60 percent to assume all of the deposits of First United Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits, Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. agreed to purchase essentially all of the failed bank's assets.
The FDIC and Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. entered into a loss-share transaction on $172.7 million of First United Bank's assets. Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A. will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit:
Customers with questions about today's transaction should call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-823-5680. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., CDT; and thereafter from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., CDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at
The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $48.6 million. Compared to other alternatives, Old Plank Trail Community Bank, N.A.'s acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. First United Bank is the 43rd FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the seventh in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Waukegan Savings Bank, Waukegan, on August 3, 2012.

Faltering Chinese Demand Affecting a Broad Range of Industries

This from "Financial Armageddon" - have a nice read, then follow link to original

Faltering Chinese Demand Affecting a Broad Range of Industries

While sporting goods manufacturer Nike late yesterday blamed its disappointing results on weak Chinese demand for its apparel and other products, it's clear that faltering growth in that Asian nation is affecting a range of companies and industries. Here are just a few examples:

Fuel Oil

Shrinking demand for fuel oil in China for fuel oil in China weighed heavily on the Asian fuel oil market on Friday, while heavy arbitrage supply flows into Asia were expected to further depress prices.
Buying interest from China has been badly hit by slowing industrial and manufacturing activity. A key use of fuel oil in China is as a feedstock for small and medium sized refiners, who process the residual fuel for its gas oil, which is then sold of to industries for power generation.


China is unlikely to import diesel for domestic use for the rest of the year due to a slowing economy, industry sources say, putting pressure on Asian diesel margins as well as potentially reversing high prices for the fuel in the West.
The drop in imports of diesel, Asia's most widely consumed fuel, is the latest example of slowing industrial activity in China feeding through to demand for resources. Consumption of iron ore, steel and copper have all fallen in recent months.
The main output of Chinese refineries is typically diesel, but China normally starts buying at this time of the year on the spot market to meet peak demand from agriculture and for power generation. This year China is still exporting.


Sellers of imported iron ore cargoes to top buyer China cut prices for a third day on Tuesday as weak demand pushed the benchmark rate to a one-week low, as the near-term outlook for the steel market remained weak despite recent gains.
Iron ore has recovered from a near three-year low of $86.70 reached earlier this month, on hopes that China's approval of more than $150 billion worth of infrastructure projects would boost steel demand.
But the rebound has since been curtailed by signs end-user demand for steel in China, the world's biggest consumer and
producer, remains weak despite a recent spike in steel prices.
"Inquiries are very limited. It looks like most mills are done with restocking ahead of the holidays," said an iron ore trader in Shanghai.


SHANGHAI/DALIAN, China — A major Chinese steelmaker said on Thursday it has halted production at a loss-making plant and expressed doubt that government attempts to stimulate the slowing economy would revive demand in the world's biggest market for the metal.
With China's slowing growth sapping demand for new ships and construction, an industry official said more than a third of the country's iron ore mines were idle due to depressed prices, and the top steel producer also forecast lower output this year.


Slowing growth in China is taking a brutal toll on Appalachian coal mines and coal towns.
Appalachia has one of the world's richest deposits of high-grade coal used to make steel. Thanks to Chinese demand, the price for premium metallurgical coal, whose low-ash and low-sulfur content makes it ideal for steelmaking, hit a record $330 a metric ton in early 2011.
Now, the Chinese economy is slowing and so is its steel industry. That has sent the price of coal used for steelmaking down nearly 50% to $170 a metric ton. Those coal producers who counted on Chinese sales are reeling.
"When someone had coal to move, China was your big box store," said Ernie Thrasher, chief executive of XCoal Energy & Resources, a major U.S. marketer of such coal to Asia. This year, "the switch went off."

Specialty Minerals

BEIJING -- Prices of China's rare earth products dropped sharply over the past month as market demand remained weak amid the economic slowdown.
Data from Baichuan Information, a raw material information provider, showed that prices of several rare metals, including lanthanum oxide and praseodymium oxide, almost reached the year's lowest level in August despite a rebound starting in June.
The price of praseodymium-neodymium oxide, primarily used to make ceramics and magnetic materials, fell to around 360,000 yuan ($56,800) per ton in August, compared to the year's lowest of 340,000 yuan per ton in March, according to Baichuan Information.
The figure was also significantly down from the highest price level of 1.4 million yuan per ton recorded last year.
"Weak downstream demand is the major reason for the price slump," said Du Shuaibin, an analyst with Baichuan Information.


Truck and other commercial vehicle manufacturers are facing growing headwinds from the global economy as demand in Europe, China and Brazil fades and the outlook for the previously buoyant US market grows more uncertain.
Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has caused industrial customers to postpone big-ticket purchases of heavy trucks, while public budget cuts have hurt demand for buses.
Truck sales have also slowed in China and India, two of the world’s biggest commercial vehicles markets, while tougher emissions standards and the weaker economy have caused a lull in Brazil.


After months of enjoying rude health and record sales, the luxury car sector may finally be catching a cold, courtesy of falling demand in southern Europe and China.
Executives at the Paris Motor Show are clear that premium car sales are holding up a lot better than Europe’s embattled mass-market sector.
Still, the big double-digit growth rates in China they enjoyed in past months may be a thing of the past and premium vehicles are becoming a luxury that many southern Europeans can no longer afford.


Demand for diamonds is slowing in China, according to the distribution arm of mining company De Beers, the latest company in the luxury sector to suggest that the meteoric growth rates in the world's No. 2 economy are leveling off.
China jumped to become the world's second-largest diamond consumer last year, buying 10% of the world's production. The country ranks behind the U.S., which buys 38% of the world's diamonds.
"Last year, China grew over 20%. This year, it will be up around 10%," said Varda Shine, chief executive of the Diamond Trading Co., the De Beers subsidiary that distributes rough diamonds.

Household Fixtures

You know it’s going to be a bad year for China’s exporters when all manner of goods – including the kitchen sinks – are gathering dust in storerooms.
“Of course [the slowdown] is affecting us,” Du Huayao, the manager at Foshan Nanhai Bigao Sanitary Ware Co. Ltd., which makes bathroom and kitchen fixtures, said in a telephone interview from his factory in Guangdong province.
“Sales this year from the foreign market have dropped from one-third to two-thirds.”
Compounding Mr. Du’s woes is China’s slowing property market, which has pulled down his domestic sales as well. The company has already laid off 20 of its original 50 workers and has slowed production.

Raw logs and milled lumber

China’s economic slowdown is cutting down the number of logs exported from Pacific Northwest forests.
A new report from the U.S. Forest Service says 25 percent fewer logs were exported from Oregon, Washington, Northern California and Alaska during the first half of this year. That’s compared with the same period of 2011.
Forest Service research economist Xiaoping Zhou says China’s decreasing appetite for raw logs and milled lumber is a big reason for the drop.
“China’s economic slowdown has reduced that country’s demand for log and lumber imports,” Zhou said. “This is largely responsible for the overall decrease in West Coast exports.”

Isn't it FUN!!

Creedence Clearwater Revival-Suzie Q

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River

Europe’s Austerity Madness By PAUL KRUGMAN

Dr. Krugman speaks of European MADNESS.  Please follow link to original.

 So much for complacency. Just a few days ago, the conventional wisdom was that Europe finally had things under control. The European Central Bank, by promising to buy the bonds of troubled governments if necessary, had soothed markets. All that debtor nations had to do, the story went, was agree to more and deeper austerity — the condition for central bank loans — and all would be well.
But the purveyors of conventional wisdom forgot that people were involved. Suddenly, Spain and Greece are being racked by strikes and huge demonstrations. The public in these countries is, in effect, saying that it has reached its limit: With unemployment at Great Depression levels and with erstwhile middle-class workers reduced to picking through garbage in search of food, austerity has already gone too far. And this means that there may not be a deal after all.
Much commentary suggests that the citizens of Spain and Greece are just delaying the inevitable, protesting against sacrifices that must, in fact, be made. But the truth is that the protesters are right. More austerity serves no useful purpose; the truly irrational players here are the allegedly serious politicians and officials demanding ever more pain.
Consider Spain’s woes. What is the real economic problem? Basically, Spain is suffering the hangover from a huge housing bubble, which caused both an economic boom and a period of inflation that left Spanish industry uncompetitive with the rest of Europe. When the bubble burst, Spain was left with the difficult problem of regaining competitiveness, a painful process that will take years. Unless Spain leaves the euro — a step nobody wants to take — it is condemned to years of high unemployment.
But this arguably inevitable suffering is being greatly magnified by harsh spending cuts; and these spending cuts are a case of inflicting pain for the sake of inflicting pain.
First of all, Spain didn’t get into trouble because its government was profligate. On the contrary, on the eve of the crisis, Spain actually had a budget surplus and low debt. Large deficits emerged when the economy tanked, taking revenues with it, but, even so, Spain doesn’t appear to have all that high a debt burden.
It’s true that Spain is now having trouble borrowing to finance its deficits. That trouble is, however, mainly because of fears about the nation’s broader difficulties — not least the fear of political turmoil in the face of very high unemployment. And shaving a few points off the budget deficit won’t resolve those fears. In fact, research by the International Monetary Fund suggests that spending cuts in deeply depressed economies may actually reduce investor confidence because they accelerate the pace of economic decline.
In other words, the straight economics of the situation suggests that Spain doesn’t need more austerity. It shouldn’t throw a party, and, in fact, it probably has no alternative (short of euro exit) to a protracted period of hard times. But savage cuts to essential public services, to aid to the needy, and so on actually hurt the country’s prospects for successful adjustment.
Why, then, are there demands for ever more pain?
Part of the explanation is that in Europe, as in America, far too many Very Serious People have been taken in by the cult of austerity, by the belief that budget deficits, not mass unemployment, are the clear and present danger, and that deficit reduction will somehow solve a problem brought on by private sector excess.
Beyond that, a significant part of public opinion in Europe’s core — above all, in Germany — is deeply committed to a false view of the situation. Talk to German officials and they will portray the euro crisis as a morality play, a tale of countries that lived high and now face the inevitable reckoning. Never mind the fact that this isn’t at all what happened — and the equally inconvenient fact that German banks played a large role in inflating Spain’s housing bubble. Sin and its consequences is their story, and they’re sticking to it.
Worse yet, this is also what many German voters believe, largely because it’s what politicians have told them. And fear of a backlash from voters who believe, wrongly, that they’re being put on the hook for the consequences of southern European irresponsibility leaves German politicians unwilling to approve essential emergency lending to Spain and other troubled nations unless the borrowers are punished first.
Of course, that’s not the way these demands are portrayed. But that’s what it really comes down to. And it’s long past time to put an end to this cruel nonsense.
If Germany really wants to save the euro, it should let the European Central Bank do what’s necessary to rescue the debtor nations — and it should do so without demanding more pointless pain.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Romney: Emergency Room Health Care

This from "Time goes By  --  what it's really like to get older"  --  please follow link to original.

I missed the Mitt Romney and Barack Obama twin interviews on 60 Minutes last Sunday but these days we can rely on clips online to bring us the highlights. This one grabbed my attention

SCOTT PELLEY: Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the fifty million Americans who don't have it today?
MITT ROMNEY: Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance, people -- we -- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and -- and die. We -- we pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.
PELLEY: That's the most expensive way to do it.
ROMNEY: Well the...
PELLEY: In the emergency room.
ROMNEY: Diff -- different, again, different states have different ways of doing that. Some -- some provide that care through clinics. Some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state, we found a solution that worked for my state. But I wouldn't take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, “You've got to take the Massachusetts model."

Ronni here. That makes no sense – particularly it makes no fiscal sense, the kind Romney keeps harping that the nation needs. A couple of years ago, he said he was for a single-payer system so it's another of those Romney 180-degree flip-flops.
Most of us at this blog are old enough for Medicare and we know the comfort – the comfort all people in every other developed nation know – that our health care needs will generally be taken care of without pushing us into bankruptcy.
Everyone in the United States should have this peace of mind.

NFL Football Refs.

According to reports the incompetent replacement refs. who have both made a laughing stock of the NFL, and have been made a laughing stock of by various sports experts are to be no more.  It is reported that there has been a settlement.

I just don't understand. 

After all, the amount bei9ng fought over was claimed to be 3.3 MILLION $  --  this in a sport that grosses over 9 BILLION a year.  It's obvious the owners - also known as "THE BOSSES" - don't give a damn about the fans, the players, the "integrity of the game", or its future.  They have proven this time after time with their attitude on pensions for older retired players (AKA: "legends of the game"), and concussions that have led to early death and dementia for some true "legends of the game".

What really surprises me is  --  why didn't they hire some foreign refs?  They could have brought them in on H1B visas?  They could have worked for $50.00 per game.  After all, I'm sure they would be as competent as some of the H1B engineers being brought in to replace American workers.  I'm quite sure various "university" programs for "PhD's" in "sports officiating" would suddenly appear.  Perhaps some would also have a "holistic approach".  then again, we might be treated to a "post modern" approach.

Who knows what wonders would be revealed to us poor fans. 

Why not just set up a bunch of video cameras in every stadium  --  calls could be made by "highly trained" folks in various call centers  --  say, in the Philippines?

Heck, isn't that what has happened to other American jobs?

I also find it rather amazing how EVERYONE is so upset by this game  --  and no one seems to give a damn about teachers.  NFL officials, who work part time, make much more than most teachers.  All fans really give a damn about a "blown call" in A GAME, but are not willing to fund, or pay for their children's schools, or their teachers.

Oh yeah, according to some reports, LEGAL gambling on NFL football is down.  Less is being bet because of the uncertainty caused by these replacement refs.  No wonder there is a settlement.

BOYCOTT FOOTBALL  --  IT IS A DANGEROUS, NON-SPORT, where stupid people think THEY are also "masters of the universe".  The players are seen as nothing more than raw material, and the geniuses who own the teams seem to think anyone off the street can be a good official.  Typical arrogance on the part of people who have never done the job  they seem to  disrespect.

Typical examples of fat, rich, American "capitalists".

Delusions of Wonkhood

This from Dr. Krugman.  It's no wonder so many self styled "experts", "pundits" and "wonks" don't like him.  Anyway  --  please follow link to original.

Delusions of Wonkhood

Dave Weigel has some fun with credulous journalists who are sure that Paul Ryan must be a Very Serious Wonk because — wait for it — he uses PowerPoint. With pie charts!
This is really amazing.
Look, I know wonks. Ryan is not a wonk. Yes, he likes charts and slides. But he very clearly doesn’t know what his numbers actually mean. When the famous plan was unveiled, it was quite clear that he never even realized that the Heritage projection of his plan’s impact made a completely ridiculous assertion about what would happen to unemployment. Nor did he realize that his assumptions about discretionary spending would require cutting such spending — including defense! — to levels not seen since Calvin Coolidge.
One question one might ask is whether Ryan is aware that he isn’t actually a wonk, that he just plays one on TV. Maybe not; some of what he says suggests the Dunning-Kruger effect at work,: he may be so innumerate that he doesn’t realize that he has no idea what the numbers he throws around mean. And after all, why would he, given all the praise he’s received for putting up a line graph or pie chart here and there?
If the fate of the republic weren’t at stake, it would be funny — and painfully embarassing.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

No, GOP, It's Not Us; It's You:

This from "The Rude Pundit"  --  as always follow link to original.

Dear, sweet, Rudie sums it up rather well - using his usual well crafted phrases. 

No, GOP, It's Not Us; It's You:
Oh, boo, oh, hoo, the whiny bitches of the Republican party are weeping like desperate middle-aged closet queens who badly want to get ass-fucked by one of the ripped leather dudes in lower Chelsea but suppress it so much that they mix sadness, rage, and unfulfilled sexual urges into a miasma of tears and snot and gasping sobs of self-loathing. Which, of course, brings us to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

Regarding Mitt Romney's sinking chances of winning the election, Graham told reporters yesterday (and you should imagine Paul Lynde playing a Confederate general in a sketch on The Dinah Shore Show speaking this), "There's a reason no president has ever been reelected with an economy like this...It would tell me that it's more of a demographic race for president than it is a performance-based race. And that may be where we're at as a nation, and maybe where we are as a party, and we just don't know it."

So, according to Graham, the problem is there's too many non-white people voting. No, that's not an extreme interpretation. Graham himself said in August, "The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." But now Graham has taken it to another level; it's a polite way of saying, "The stupid niggers and spics are fucking up this nice country for the rest of us. And they're gonna reelect that nigger president."

Unlike Graham, other Republicans know that the problem ain't just demographics. Sure, that's always an issue, but you don't see Democrats saying, "Shit, if there were fewer white people, we'd be golden." You don't see them trying to actively suppress white people from voting. "Demographics" as an excuse is just so much self-pity. If you haven't cottoned to the fact that there's less white people as a percentage of the voting population, then you are a stegosaurus with one foot in the tar pit.

What other Republicans understand is that the problem is that they nominated an unlikeable jack-off who has all the compassion of a sack of shit, who is an awful candidate, who can't reasonably explain his plans, who constantly says things that demonstrate he gives less of a fuck about the average person than he does his manicure. Mitt Romney is losing because he's Mitt Romney, and even NASCAR fans see that.

Another way to look at this is that maybe people aren't as stupid as Republicans need them to be. Oh, sure, most of the population is a fickle bunch of assholes who are exactly as dumb as you think they are. But you don't have to be a New Yorker-reading dilettante to get that Republicans are a craven bunch of motherfuckers who are either trying to protect the rich or enforce their Christian extremist morality. You don't need to have a Rachel Maddow poster on your bedroom wall to get that it's Republicans who have blocked nearly everything the President and Democrats have tried to do for three years. You don't have to get Media Matters updates on Twitter to get that Mitt Romney's calculated emptiness is frightening.

So, hey, Lindsey Graham, no need to get down with the darkies. You'd just look pathetic doing so. No, what the Republicans need to do is take a long look in the mirror and say, "Wow, we really are unmitigated dickheads." Or you need to admit, "Yeah, we are simply the party of the greedy and the crazy, and we don't know how to change that. Time to give up."

It's the first step back to some self-respect. Or you could just keep blaming those different than you. It's worked before for you guys

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ann Romney Responds to Campaign Criticism: Leave Mitt Alone!

Then again: 

No Need

No need for me to post ANYTHING  --  just go read "the news" from any number of "reputable" sources  --  assume they ALL have an agenda  --  sit back and laugh.  Once again, as it usually is, the jokes on us. 

By the way  --  "they" are NOT "laughing with us", they are "laughing at us".  We, the 99%, the 47%, ARE THE JOKE.

Our "peerless leaders", the "masters of the universe", the "VSP's" (Very Serious People) KNOW we are the joke. 

What always amazes me is that we so badly want to believe all the crap sent our way.  We are so worried about losing our last crust of bread that we WANT to believe all the rich bastards that use us, abuse us, and HATE US.

Go around the net, read some left wing stuff, read some stuff that supports THE PEOPLE, begin to understand how so many who claim to be your "friend" are your sworn enemy.

Then, sit back, eat a reasonable meal, have a little drink, and LAUGH.

I'm 73  --  I won't be around for the worst of it  --  y'all, have a good time, remember you are ALL in this together, and there are a crapload more of US than THEM.  Good luck.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Disdain for Workers By PAUL KRUGMAN

Prof. Krugman's latest column  --  follow link to original

By now everyone knows how Mitt Romney, speaking to donors in Boca Raton, washed his hands of almost half the country — the 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes — declaring, “My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” By now, also, many people are aware that the great bulk of the 47 percent are hardly moochers; most are working families who pay payroll taxes, and elderly or disabled Americans make up a majority of the rest.
But here’s the question: Should we imagine that Mr. Romney and his party would think better of the 47 percent on learning that the great majority of them actually are or were hard workers, who very much have taken personal responsibility for their lives? And the answer is no.
For the fact is that the modern Republican Party just doesn’t have much respect for people who work for other people, no matter how faithfully and well they do their jobs. All the party’s affection is reserved for “job creators,” a k a employers and investors. Leading figures in the party find it hard even to pretend to have any regard for ordinary working families — who, it goes without saying, make up the vast majority of Americans.
Am I exaggerating? Consider the Twitter message sent out by Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader, on Labor Day — a holiday that specifically celebrates America’s workers. Here’s what it said, in its entirety: “Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success.” Yes, on a day set aside to honor workers, all Mr. Cantor could bring himself to do was praise their bosses.
Lest you think that this was just a personal slip, consider Mr. Romney’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. What did he have to say about American workers? Actually, nothing: the words “worker” or “workers” never passed his lips. This was in strong contrast to President Obama’s convention speech a week later, which put a lot of emphasis on workers — especially, of course, but not only, workers who benefited from the auto bailout.
And when Mr. Romney waxed rhapsodic about the opportunities America offered to immigrants, he declared that they came in pursuit of “freedom to build a business.” What about those who came here not to found businesses, but simply to make an honest living? Not worth mentioning.
Needless to say, the G.O.P.’s disdain for workers goes deeper than rhetoric. It’s deeply embedded in the party’s policy priorities. Mr. Romney’s remarks spoke to a widespread belief on the right that taxes on working Americans are, if anything, too low. Indeed, The Wall Street Journal famously described low-income workers whose wages fall below the income-tax threshold as “lucky duckies.”
What really needs cutting, the right believes, are taxes on corporate profits, capital gains, dividends, and very high salaries — that is, taxes that fall on investors and executives, not ordinary workers. This despite the fact that people who derive their income from investments, not wages — people like, say, Willard Mitt Romney — already pay remarkably little in taxes.
Where does this disdain for workers come from? Some of it, obviously, reflects the influence of money in politics: big-money donors, like the ones Mr. Romney was speaking to when he went off on half the nation, don’t live paycheck to paycheck. But it also reflects the extent to which the G.O.P. has been taken over by an Ayn Rand-type vision of society, in which a handful of heroic businessmen are responsible for all economic good, while the rest of us are just along for the ride.
In the eyes of those who share this vision, the wealthy deserve special treatment, and not just in the form of low taxes. They must also receive respect, indeed deference, at all times. That’s why even the slightest hint from the president that the rich might not be all that — that, say, some bankers may have behaved badly, or that even “job creators” depend on government-built infrastructure — elicits frantic cries that Mr. Obama is a socialist.
Now, such sentiments aren’t new; “Atlas Shrugged” was, after all, published in 1957. In the past, however, even Republican politicians who privately shared the elite’s contempt for the masses knew enough to keep it to themselves and managed to fake some appreciation for ordinary workers. At this point, however, the party’s contempt for the working class is apparently too complete, too pervasive to hide.
The point is that what people are now calling the Boca Moment wasn’t some trivial gaffe. It was a window into the true attitudes of what has become a party of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy, a party that considers the rest of us unworthy of even a pretense of respect.

no banks eaten

7:34 PM CDT  --  so far no new banks failed.  Something is going right  --  dontcha think??
This from Eschaton  --  please follow link to original

Bullshit Mountain

Good Daily Show segment. I like the inclusion of Craig T. Nelson saying, "I've been on food stamps and welfare, did anybody help me out? No." Because I think that quote really gets to the true core of bullshit mountain. One can never be quite sure how much conservatives believe their own bullshit, but my longstanding theory is that they believe there's some secret super generous welfare system that only black people have access to. When they had hard times, got their government handouts, their government handouts sucked. But the blahs are out there buying their t-bones and driving their cadillacs, so they must be getting the really good welfare. Nobody helped poor Craig out, because the food stamps and and welfare sucked. They don't understand that this is because food stamps and welfare do suck.


Sarah Silverman | Let My People Vote 2012 - Get Nana A Gun

This not safe for work video brought to you by Sarah Silverman

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Niall Ferguson Advocates Fascism and Newsweek Legitmates His Views

From "Naked Capitalism.  Follow link to original.

Read it and weep  --  then do not ever read "Newsweek" again.

Niall Ferguson Advocates Fascism and Newsweek Legitmates His Views

Well, if you had any doubts about where this country is headed, this should seal it. Fascism is now being pushed by legitimate news venues as sound economic policy.
And please, don’t try the argument that the article is not as awful as the cover. That image will be in grocery stores all over America for a full week. How many people will read that headline? This is powerful messaging, a PR wet dream. No matter what you think of Ferguson’s sophistry in the article proper, the choice of Newsweek to dignify it by placing it on its cover and depicting a failed authoritarian experiment as a success is telling.
Students of the 1930s know that English and European aristocrats were typically pro-Hitler because he brought stability to Germany and looked to be a bulwark against the advance of Communism. Il Duce was seen as more grandiose and buffoon-like but similarly useful. As William Manchester wrote at the close of the second volume of his biography of Churchill:
Because their possessions were great, the appeasers has much to lose should the red flag fly over Westiminster. That is why they had felt threatened by the hunger riots of 1932. It was also the driver of their exorbitant fear and distrust of the new Russia. They had seen a strong Germany as a buffer against Bolshevism, had thought their security would be strengthened if they sidled up with the fierce, virile Third Reich. Nazi coarseness, anti-Semitism, the Reich’s dark underside, were rationalized; time, they assured one another, would blur the jagged edges of Nazi Germany. So with their eyes opened, they sought accommodation with a criminal regime, turned a blind eye to its inequities, ignored its frequent resort to murder and torture, submitted to extortion, and having sold out all who had sought to stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and keep the bridge against the new barbarism, led England herself into the cold, damp shadow of the gallows, friendless save for the demoralized republic across the Channel.
It is a sick irony that Ferguson, a long-time enthusiast for English and American imperialism, and in particular, the need for America to be a more aggressive empire to promote democracy, is now praising an authoritarian regime that helped bring Britain to its knees.
In ECONNED, we noted:
In other words, “free markets” ideology, with its libertarian idealism, has in fact produced Mussolini-style corporatism. And until we learn to call the resulting looting by its proper name, it is certain to continue.
But rather than see the crisis and the resulting high unemployment as a failure of “free markets” ideology, its boosters are recommending more of the same. And the worst is that Mussolini was an abject failure. Dennis Mack Smith’s Mussolini is a high regarded account. One Amazon reviewer provides a terse summary of his conclusions:
>Mack Smith is also the author of seminal biographies of Cavour, and Mazzini, as well as the author of a leading textbook on modern Italy. No other biographer of the man possesses his knowledge. His bibliography contains more than a thousand items of memoirs, biographies, newspapers, articles, diaries and monographs. He has sixty-eight pages of tiny notes. On every page there is someting damning and disreputable. Mussolini was not as vicious and cruel a man as Hitler: he was more of a thug than a psychopath. Yet he was capable of being very cruel, and half the population of Cyraenica, Libya were killed in the course of suppressing a rebellion. When the rebel leader was captured and executed, “Italians were told that this heroic and noble man was a cruel, cowardly and corrupt barbarian whose death brought joy to the whole Arab population.”
This is chillingly similar to what took place in Pinochet’s Chile, where “free market” reforms led to a debt fueled boom and a plutocratic land grab, yet was widely and falsely presented as a success in the US as neoliberals pushed their deregulation ideology. Again, from ECONNED:
The bubble worsened as banks gave low-interest-rate foreign currency loans, knowing full well the borrowers in their own industrial group would default. when the peso fell. But it permitted them to use the proceeds to seize more assets at preferential prices, thanks to artificially cheap borrowing and the eventual subsidy of default.
And the export boom, the other engine of growth, was, contrary to stateside propaganda, not the result of “free market” reforms either. The Pinochet regime did not reverse the Allende land reforms and return farms to their former owners. Instead, it practiced what amounted to industrial policy and gave the farms to middle-class entrepreneurs, who built fruit and wine businesses that became successful exporters. The other major export was copper, which remained in government hands.
And even in this growth period, the gains were concentrated among the wealthy. Unemployment rose to 16% and the distribution of income became
more regressive. The Catholic Church’s soup kitchens became a vital stopgap.32 The bust came in late 1981. Banks, on the verge of collapse thanks to dodgy loans, cut lending. GDP contracted sharply in 1982 and 1983. Manufacturing output fell by 28% and unemployment rose to 20%.
The neoliberal regime suddenly resorted to Keynesian backpedaling to quell violent protests. The state seized a majority of the banks and implemented
tougher banking laws. Pinochet restored the minimum wage, the rights of unions to bargain, and launched a program to create 500,000 jobs.
And most troubling was the authoritariasm. ECONNED again:
Given a choice, most people would put civil liberties—freedom of speech, the right to vote and belong to political organizations, the right to due process with an independent judiciary— at a higher priority than economic prerogatives. Not being at risk of being seized in the middle of the night and sent to a gulag, or worse, is worth quite a lot to most people. Pinochet shuttered the congress, eliminated political parties, unions, and professional groups. He also implemented a curfew, with everyone required to stay at home after 8:00 P.M. Roughly 4,000 citizens were murdered,
with more driven into exile. Methods of torture included gang rape, the pulling out of nails and teeth, and electrical shocks to the genitals.
Yet Friedman and his followers put their vaunted “free markets” over personal liberty in claiming Pinochet as their own. As historian Eduardo Galeano
described neoliberal reforms, “People went to prison so prices could be free.”
The propaganda barrage is moving from boosting the incoherent and internally contradictory “free market” paradigm to open advocacy of brutal authoritarianism as the remedy to its failure. I have always thought it would be terrible to live in, say, France in the 1930s, to see the march of Fascism, and be unable to stop it. Ferguson and his allies are advocating a repeat of that dark period.

From Robert Reich

This video is significant in two ways.

First are the distortions. Romney says 47 percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes. That’s literally true, except it’s misleading because it includes every retiree who hasn’t enough income to pay income taxes (most retirees), every poor and lower-income person who doesn’t have enough income to pay, and a few multi-millionaires (perhaps like Romney himself — we don’t know because he won’t release his tax returns), who don’t pay because of tax loopholes and tax-avoidance schemes. Moreover, just about all working Americans, regardless of income, pay federal payroll taxes. Everyone pays state and local sales taxes. And so on.
Romney also distorts reality by purposely mixing “entitlements” with “a sense of entitlement,” and lumps in all recipients of Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits into his 47 percent. Even though these programs are considered “entitlement” spending, their recipients are not undeserving; they don’t consider themselves entitled to handouts. They’ve paid into these insurance plans through their payroll taxes.

But the the most important revelation here isn’t Romney’s witting distortions. It’s his indignant condemnation of almost half the American electorate. A president is supposed to represent all of America, not just the 51 percent who elect him, and have a modicum of sympathy for the less fortunate among us.

Yet here is the real Mitt Romney — a fabulously wealthy financier, presumably speaking to other wealthy people (note the waiters scurrying about), with a passion we haven’t before seen in him — saying it isn’t his “job” to worry about Americans who he describes as “irresponsible,” who fail to take care of themselves, and whose neediness is presumably their own fault.
Some of us thought Romney was without core or principle, an empty suit that would say anything to be elected. But here, evidently, is the real Mitt — a man whose core principle is clearly on display, and articulated with deep conviction: social Darwinism — survival of the richest, the hell with those who need a helping hand.
In a subsequent news conference he attempted to make it sound as if he was talking here about political strategy, not social conviction. Watch and see for yourself.

Veterans' bill voted down by GOP as Senate Democrats proclaim 'new low' Democrats fall two votes short of passing bill that would help unemployed veterans amid accusations GOP played politics

This from "The Guardian" - please follow link to original.

Gosh, all those republicans who wear flag pins usually end up proving they really don't give a damn about our veterans.  They don't give a damn about anyone but the rich and the richer.

More proof.

Republicans have voted down legislation that would have established a $1bn jobs programme to put unemployed veterans back to work as firefighters, police officers and in public work projects.
They objected to the cost of the bill, which they said violates spending limits agreed to last year in Congress.
Democrats and veterans groups say its cost are fully offset.
The bill, which had bipartisan support in the Senate and would have given priority to post-9/11 veterans whose employment prospects are three points below the national average, fell two votes short of the majority of 60 needed to waive Republican objections.
After the vote, at midday on Wednesday, Patty Murray, chairman of the Senate veterans affairs committee, accused Senate Republicans of "shocking and shameful" obstructive politics.
She said: "At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed, Republicans should have been able, for just this once, to put aside the politics of obstruction and to help these men and women provide for their families.
"It's unbelievable that even after more than a decade of war many Republicans still will not acknowledge that the treatment of our veterans is a cost of war. Today they voted down a fully paid-for bill that included bipartisan ideas to put veterans in jobs that will allow them to serve their communities. Jobs that would have helped provide veterans with the self-esteem that is so critical to their successful transition home."
Murray said the bill had been extensively rewritten to include amendments by Republicans – eight of the 12 provisions in the bill were Republican-originated ideas. She even incorporated most of the provisions of a competing Republican bill but to no avail.
Democratic senator Bill Nelson of Florida, the bill's lead sponsor, said: "[With] a need so great as unemployed veterans, this is not the time to draw a technical line on the budget."
Republicans said they agreed with the sentiment to help veterans but said the bill was flawed.
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the federal government already had six job-training programs for veterans and there was no way to monitor how well they were working. He said that the way forward was not to increase debt.
"We ought to do nothing now that makes the problem worse for our kids and grandkids," Coburn told the Associated Press.
Supporters modeled their proposal partly after the Civilian Conservation Corp used during the Great Depression to employ people to build parks and build dams.
A handful of Republicans joined with Democrats in voting to waive the objection to the bill: senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine's Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. The Democrats needed a vote of 60 to go forward with the bill but the final vote was 58 to 40.
"After everything our veterans have done for us, the least we can do is make sure they are afforded every opportunity to thrive here at home," Heller said.
Minutes before the vote, Murray gave an impassioned speech from the floor, asking for unity to pass the bill which she said "should not be killed by procedural games".
The vote, postponed from last week because of Republican opposition, is the latest in a series of delays which have hampered the bill's progress. Members of the House are preparing to leave Washington to campaign on their re-election.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America described the vote as a "huge disappointment".
Ramsay Sulayman, of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said he was saddened to see "a very small group of people that are standing for principle to block the bill from even coming to a vote" on an issue like veteran jobs, which has seen a strong spirit of bipartisan support.
"That's what we object to. If people say 'We don't like the bill' and stand up and get up and vote and go on the record ... that is different. It's sad to see a few people holding a bill to hostage."
The jobs bill is based on a proposal in President Barack Obama's state of the union address in January.
Harry Reid, the majority leader of the Senate, said the bill had met "one Republican stall tactic after another", in a post to his Twitter account last week. He said the tactics marked a "new low" for Republicans.
Jeff Sessions, the Senate Budge Committee ranking member, said he objected to the bill on the grounds it would increase the veterans affairs department budget and would blow though the spending cap lawmakers agreed last year.
Democrats argue the bills costs are already covered by plans to collect more than half a billion in unpaid taxes over the next five years, according to the Washington Examiner.
The bill was held up in the Senate last week after filibustering by Rand Paul, the Republican Senator for Kentucky, to gain support for a Pakistani doctor who helped locate Osama Bin Laden.
Paul has promised to block Senate action until the doctor, Shakil Afridi, is released from jail. The Pakistani government has said it will not release him. Paul has also called on the Obama administration to cut foreign aid to Pakistan until Afridi is released.
Unemployment for the newest generation of veterans, post 9/11, rose to 10.9% in August, a stark contrast to the nation's unemployment rate of 8.1% in the same month. Veterans commonly find work after service in federal, state and local government jobs, a vulnerable sector in the current economy.
Younger veterans are especially vulnerable to unemployment after deployment. Around 20% of 18-24-year-old veterans are unemployed.

A Visit To "Some Assembly Required"

It's time to go to Some Assembly Required.  Please follow link to original  --  read the rest.

Memo for the Mitten: Over 7,000 millionaires paid no income taxes in 2011, 22,000 making over half a million a year also skated. Are they part of the 47%?

Spain is Greece Writ Large: Spain's private debt exceeds 300% of GDP, its banks are sitting on paper from a housing bubble many times worse than the US experienced, Spain is bankrupt and its banks suffered €70 billion in withdrawals in August. Spain is next.

Recurring Item: The government lied to us. Bush, in this instance. Lied about torturing people. Golly, gee.

Point of Order: There are 1.6 billion Muslims; a couple of thousand of them didn't like the movie. Get a grip.

Progress Report: The German austerity elixir has so far reduced Greek GDP by 20%, with a 25% reduction expected by 2014. The turnaround will happen at some date thereafter, as the beneficial effects of mass starvation kick in. .

Help Wanted: In the US today, there are not enough jobs to go around and most of the ones we have do not pay enough. Because of this, there are not enough customers with enough money to create sufficient demand to make a dent in the problem. How would lowering taxes on the rich (or on corporations, for that mater) help solve this dilemma? Both already have too much money. And research suggests that lowering taxes has no discernible effect on productivity. What lowering taxes does is increase the concentration of wealth at the top, which hasn't, and won't, solve the employment problem. 

Hurt by Protests, Chick-fil-A Will Stop Funding Anti-Gay Groups

This from "Alternet" about "Chick-fil-A".

Please follow link to original.

I've never eaten there, and I NEVER will.  They have been anti-gay for too many years, and one self serving press release will not make the chicken go down any better.  There are SCORES of anti-LGBT, anti freethinker, anti anything other than their form of Christianity companies out there.  when you discover one  --  boycott it, even if no one else does.

By the way, we all know one way around this is for various and sundry Chick-fil-A employees and executives to make "personal" donations to the very same anti-LGBT groups.  That way, the company is no longer involved, but nothing changes.

BOYCOTT Chick-fil-A

Hurt by Protests, Chick-fil-A Will Stop Funding Anti-Gay Groups

The boycotts and vociferous protests of Chick-fil-A's anti-gay stance appears to have worked. An Illinois-based gay rights organization has announced that the company will no longer fund anti-gay organizations, according to Boston Spirit magazine.
The furor over Chick-fil-A's anti-gay stance was sparked by their president's harsh anti-gay marriage stance. "I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Dan Cathy said.
Here's the full statement from the gay rights group The Civil Rights Agenda:
In a letter addressed to Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno and signed by Chick-fil-A’s Senior Director of Real Estate, it states, “The WinShape Foundations is now taking a much closer look at the organizations it considers helping, and in that process will remain true to its stated philosophy of not supporting organizations with political agendas.” In meetings the company executives clarified that they will no longer give to anti-gay organizations, such as Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.Also, according to TCRA, senior management has sent an internal memo to franchisees and stakeholders that stated that, as a company, they will “treat every person with honor, dignity and respect-regardless of their beliefs, race, creed, sexual orientation and gender,” and that their “intent is not to engage in political or social debates.” This statement was placed into an official company document called “Chick-fil-A: Who We Are.”
“We are very pleased with this outcome and thank Alderman Moreno for his work on this issue,” said Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda. “I think the most important part of this outcome is that Chick-fil-A has ceased their donations to anti-gay groups in 2011 and going forward. With some of the groups that they were donating to being classified as hate groups, and others actively trying to halt the movement toward full civil rights for LGBT people, Chick-fil-A has taken a big step forward. We are encouraged by their willingness to serve all people and ensure their profits are not used to fight against a minority community that is still trying to gain full and equal civil rights.”
“Although we are encouraged by their internal statement, we still would like for the company to adopt an anti-discrimination policy at the corporate level,” said Rick Garcia, policy advisor for The Civil Rights Agenda. “It is one thing for a company to say they respect everyone they serve and employ, it is quite another for them to put that into their policies and demand that all employees adhere to that behavior. As we have heard from gay employees that work for Chick-fil-A, there is a culture of discrimination within the company and we would like to ensure that employees can speak out and call attention to those practices without fear of reprisal. It takes time to change the culture of any institution and steps like a corporate policy ensure that progress is made.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

We Are All Welfare Queens Now By Ta-Nehisi Coates

This from "The Atlantic" by  Ta-Nehisi Coates.  

Please follow link to original.

Thinking some more on Mitt Romney's high-handed claim that one in two Americans will vote for Obama simply to better ensure their own sloth, I was reminded of Lee Atwater's famous explanation of the Southern Strategy:

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968 you can't say "nigger" -- that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me -- because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

The process Atwater is describing really stretches back to 1790 (sorry if I am on repeat here) when Congress restricted citizenship to white people. Progress has meant a series of fights first over direct and indirect components of citizenship (voting, serving in public office, serving in the Army, serving on juries etc.) and less explicit tactics to curtail access to them.

I think what's often missed in analyzing these tactics is how they, themselves, are evidence of progress and the liberal dream of equal citizenship before the law. It's true that for a century after the Civil War, the South effectively erased the black vote. But there was an actual black vote that had to be militated against, and in the North that vote held some sway. It's worth critiquing how the machine manipulated the black vote in Chicago, but it's also worth noting there was a black vote present, people exercising their own wills and prerogatives.

More to the point, as tactics aimed at suppressing black citizenship become more abstract, they also have the side-effect of enveloping non-blacks. Atwater's point that the policies of the Southern Strategy hurt blacks more than whites is well taken. But some whites were hurt too. This is different than the explicit racism of slavery and segregation. During slavery white Southerners never worried about disenfranchising blacks. After slavery they needed poll taxes and the force of white terrorism. After white terrorism was routed and the poll tax outlawed, they targeted the voting process itself. But at each level what you see is more non-black people being swept into the pool of victims and the pool expanding.

You can paint a similar history of the welfare state, which was first secured by assuring racist white Democrats that the pariah of black America would be cut out of it. When such machinations became untenable, the strategy became to claim the welfare state mainly benefited blacks. And as that has become untenable, the strategy has become to target the welfare state itself, with no obvious mention of color. At each interval the ostensible pariah grows, until one in two Americans are members of the pariah class.

In all this you can see the insidious and lovely foresight of integration which, at its root, posits an end to whiteness as any kind of organizing political force. I would not say we are there. But when the party of white populism finds itself writing off half the country, we are really close.

Note To Mitt Romney by The Rude Pundit

This from "The Rude Pundit"  --  follow link to original (and ORIGINAL it is).  It's very well said, "blow an elephant", eh?

Note to Mitt Romney: Everyone Is Dependent on the Government, You Dumb Fuck:
Good on Mitt Romney for not backing down from the purity of his dickishness. What you get in that secret video released by Mother Jones wherein Romney speaks to a mansion full of rich cocks, cunts, and assholes back in May is undiluted, free and loose Mitt. He said, and he affirmed at his press conference yesterday, that 47% of people are government-dependent, clinging to Barack Obama for fear that Romney will deny them food.

It's not it was "not elegantly stated," as he said yesterday. It's that he has made this his position in the election. And, fuck, it really seems that we've finally discovered a belief, a real and honest belief, that Romney has: "It's us versus them. And we can write off most of them." Here's something else Romney said that didn't get as much play: "[Y]ou and I, we spend our day with Republicans. We spend our days with people who agree with us." He was talking about how to convince the disappointed Obama voter to join with him, but could you easily spend your day with people who agree with you, even if you tried? How narrow must your world be in order to have such a myopic view of human relationships?

What's most aggravating about Romney's dismissal of the 47% as those "who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it," and, horror of horrors, pay no federal income taxes (which is actually true because of policies put into effect by Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes) isn't the stunning elitism. Oh, sure, it's pretty damned insulting to necessary voting blocs because, in order to reach 47%, he has to include all senior citizens and a good number of ignorant Obama haters on food stamps, the kind of people who watch this story on Fox "news" and nod that Romney is just a victim of the liberal media. However, the aggravating part is how fucking stupid Romney is in his bifurcation of the population.

See, we're all dependent on the government, you dumb fuck, so blinded by your elitism that you can't see that every place in this country, everybody doing everything is dependent on the government. Some depend on the government for food, others depend on the government to make their businesses possible. It's not two sides of the same coin. It's the same side of the same fucking coin, a coin, by the way, that was made by the government.

Follow the money, motherfuckers: Let's not even deal with roads that get us to work or regulations that make our food at least somewhat safe to eat. Let's take Republicans' beloved defense spending. How many millions of Americans are dependent on the government simply through defense contracts? Way fucking more than you think. Because let's go beyond soldiers and weapons manufacturers and subcontractors and sub-subcontractors. Let's go right to Mitt Romney's cold fucking heart: Staples. Yeah, fuckin' Staples, the company that was funded by Bain Capital and that Romney uses as a glowing example of his business prowess, which somehow, through some kind of right-wing magic, translates into being able to choose Supreme Court justices.

Staples is a major government contractor, providing pencils to those who would push them on paper pads procured through Staples. During the Obama administration, Staples has received over $13 million in contracts just from the Defense Department. Oh, and you want another kick in the nuts? "During the second quarter of 2011, the company received a $21 million cash tax refund." Drop in the bucket for a corporation that grossed over $5 billion during the second quarter of this year? Perhaps, but it affects the bottom line, which affects hiring and dividend payouts to investors like, you know, Mitt Romney.

Holy shit, what's left, huh? What remains to be said about Mitt Romney? In just two weeks, we've learned that he has no clue about how to lead on foreign policy (something that was reconfirmed by another part of the video) and that he simply doesn't give a shit about nearly half the nation. How much more degraded can this most dickish man be, an undoing of amazing proportions simply because no one apparently ever told him that he was just too much of a tool to be president?

Oh, wait. There's this: The video was taken at the house of hedge fund manager Mark Leder in Boca Raton, Florida. Leder made his fortune with his firm, Sun Capital, investing in companies that were failing and attempting to turn them around. Like, hey, look, a paper company, just like Romney's Bain Capital did. Yeah, according to the August 5, 2001 Palm Beach Post, "International Paper closed the plant in February and laid off the mill's 800 workers. Sun Capital renamed the plant Smart Papers and opened a few days later, rehiring 550 workers at wages that were 25 percent lower than their previous pay." Jobs saved? Sure (although it was more like half the workers hired back). Profit made? You bet, motherfuckers. And then they ran the Hamilton, Ohio company into the ground. It's closed now.

One other thing: Leder is also somewhat famous for being another one of those private equity bros who flaunt their wealth. He's not Mormon, so he doesn't have to waste his money on prancing horses or multiple cloned sons. Leder has sex parties in the Hamptons: "[G]uests cavorted nude in a pool and performed sex acts, while scantily clad Russian women danced on platforms. Dancers at the party also twirled flaming torches to booming beats." It's awesome that Romney doesn't care whose jizz-stained hands he shakes, as long as those hands are providing hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign cash. Seriously, at this point, Romney may as well admit that he'd blow an elephant for the entertainment of wealthy donors in order to become president.

By the way, you know why there's still beaches in the Hamptons and Boca Raton? That'd be because of work done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stave off erosion.  Yeah, the government. Or, as it's also known, us and them.

Michael Hudson on How Finance Capital Leads to Debt Servitude

This is an excerpt of a fairly long post on "Naked Capitalism"  --  please follow link to original and read the rest.

Michael Hudson on How Finance Capital Leads to Debt Servitude

This edited transcript is expanded from a live phone interview with Michael Hudson by Dimitris Yannopoulos for Athens News. It summarizes some of the major themes from Hudson’s new book, The Bubble and Beyond: Fictitious Capital, Debt Deflation and Global Crisis, which is available on Amazon.
Q: How has the financial system evolved into the form of economic servitude that you call “debt peonage” in your book, implying a negation of democracy as well as free-market capitalism as classically understood?
A: The original hope of banking and finance capitalism in the 19th century was that banks would make productive loans to finance industry. The aim was for banks to do something new, that no economy had done in the past: make loans not merely to ship and market goods once they were produced, but to finance new capital investment by manufacturers and producers, as well as by the public sector to build infrastructure. The idea was for these investments to create profits out of which to pay the interest and the principal back to the lenders.
This was defined as productive lending. Nothing like it occurred in antiquity or in the post-feudal period. Investment always had been self-financed out of savings. Banks only entered the picture when it came to shipping and trading what had been produced.
As matters have turned out, banking has allied itself with real estate, mineral extraction, oil, gas and monopolies instead of with industry. So instead of getting a share of the profits, it has focused on lending against economic rent. This technical term is defined as unearned income. It is obtained by charging prices in excess of cost value. Economic rent has no counterpart in the cost of putting means of production in place. And land has no cost; it is provided by nature. The only “cost” is the price of buying the right to charge rent on it. This economic rent is created by special legal privilege or ownership rights to install tollbooths on roads, education systems and other basic needs. Owners aim to charge as they can, without regard for how this affects overall growth and balance.
Banks have the privilege of creating credit and charging for access to it. Most bank credit is extended to buy property or rent-seeking privileges already in place. Banks rarely are set up to evaluate new capital investment. Their time frame is notoriously short-term. It takes time to develop production facilities, mount a sales campaign and develop markets for new goods. It is easier simply to buy a privilege to extract charges without producing anything at all. This is what property rights are, along with special privileges such as charging interest without making a tangible investment. So banks back the kind of economy that makes money without new capital investment. The easiest way to do this is to make loans for real estate at increasingly debt-leveraged, bank-inflated prices. They call this a post-industrial “service” economy. It is simply a rentier tollbooth economy.
Classical economists from the Physiocrats down through the Progressive Era a century ago explained why land rent, subsoil natural resource rent and monopoly rent should have been the source of tax for cities, states and nations. That is the essence of classical economics. But instead of supporting productive industry by extending credit to increase tangible capital investment, the banking system has extended credit mainly (about 80 percent in the United States and most English-speaking countries) to buy real estate and load it down with debt. The result is that rental income is used to pay interest to the banks rather than to pay taxes. This forces governments to tax wages, profits and sales. That increases the cost of living and doing business, on top of the interest charge.
In search of this loan market, banks have come to back untaxing real estate and deregulating monopolies, so that their economic rent can be paid to the banks as interest by customers eager buy these rights – and charge even higher rents or raise prices even further without making a new capital investment of their own. Instead of financing industry, U.S. banks don’t make loans for what can be produced in the future. They make loans against collateral already in place – including entire companies with high-interest “junk” bonds. The target company is obliged to pay the debt that the corporate raider takes on. The raider then is “free” to downsize and outsource the work force, squeeze the budget and hope to come out with a capital gain after paying off the banks and bondholders. The process is more extractive than productive.
This is the basic problem with the Anglo-American-Dutch banking system. Instead of extending loans to create new factories to employ people, new means of production, bankers look at what can be pledged as collateral on which they can foreclose.
Stock markets were supposed to supply “equity investment” capital. But they have been turned into a vehicle for debt-financed leverage buyouts (LBOs). Raiders borrow money much like landlords borrow to buy a rental property and bleed it. This turns corporate cash flow into interest. Governments permit this to be tax-deductible, so this encouragement of debt financing over equity worsens their fiscal position. It forces them into debt to bondholders. So the process becomes a deteriorating financial spiral.
Q: When did this process get out of hand?
A: The turning point was in 1980, when the Reagan Administration was elected in the United States, right after Margaret Thatcher led Britain’s Conservatives into office and began the big privatization sell-offs at enormous, unprecedented commissions that made the financial sector richer than ever before. Drexel Burnham led the practice of turning the stock market into a vehicle for banks to emulate their real estate loan departments by creating credit for corporate raiders to take over companies, load them down with debt and extract profits to pay out as interest. This was done by downsizing the labor force, shifting over to non-union labor, and where possible, renegotiating employee pensions downward or simply grabbing the pension funds or Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) to pay creditors. So corporate finance became destructive instead of productive.
This sort of banking has concentrated wealth, and used it to privatize and buy control of governments and their regulatory agencies. Banks have lobbied to keep interest tax-deductible so as to favor corporate financing by issuing bonds and taking out loans instead of issuing stocks. Bank lobbyists back the political campaigns of lawmakers committed to deregulating the banking industry and its major clients (real estate, natural resources and monopolies). It even has taken over the Justice Department and the courts, so that financial fraud in America has been decriminalized, as there is no regulation of outright criminal behavior. This is especially true of the largest banks such as Citibank and Bank of America where the fraud tends to be concentrated, as my colleague William Black at the University of Missouri at Kansas City has shown.
Q: How do they get off the hook?
A: Nearly every large Wall Street bank has paid large sums of money to settle criminal fraud cases with the U.S. legal authorities, without admitting criminal liability for their huge gains. So no banker has gone to jail. The banks have paid the fines, not the managers who have paid themselves enormous salaries, bonuses and stock options for writing junk mortgages and operating in a manner that would have sent them to jail back in the 1980s. That’s when S&L fraudsters were sent to jail for doing what commercial bankers much higher up on the social pyramid have done over the past decade.
The top executives know that if they are convicted of billions of dollars of fraud, their banks will pay a fraction of this amount, not themselves. They know that the jig is nearly up, so they are giving themselves enormous bonuses and running. The Treasury argues that if it fines the banks to recover the full amount of the fraud, they’ll be driven under – and the government will have to bail them out. In effect it would be paying the fine to itself. So it does nothing, except receive more campaign contributions from Wall Street for being so passive.
Q: Is the so-called “financialization” of the economy an outcome of deregulating banking and finance?
A: Financialization is an appropriate term because it means the surplus is used for financial purposes and not spent on the real economy. It began by taking over the real estate and insurance sectors, prompting national income economists to lump together what they call the FIRE sectors (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate). It also should include the legal sector, because most law these days is corporate law that condones, protects or even facilitates financial fraud and monopolies. Finance has expanded to absorb the entire economic surplus in the form of debt service to the banks. This leaves it unavailable for capital investment to increase output or consumption.
Q: Isn’t this also because the profits for financial investment in asset bubbles are much higher than profits in manufacturing?
A: There’s a problem in terminology here, between technical economic jargon and popular understanding. Classical economists were careful to define the term “profit” to mean an economic gain made by investing in plant and equipment (capital) and employing labor to produce goods and services to sell at a markup. Profits were a return on tangible capital investment and current expenses on labor, raw materials and other inputs.
This is not how the financial sector makes its gains. Its interest, fees, commissions and penalties are the result of built-in, standardized legal privileges. Economists call these returns “economic rents.” Unlike profits, they are independent of the cost of production. Their “cost” consists of buying privileges, not of making tangible capital investment. The same is true of the other major element financial returns: asset-price (“capital”) gains.
A privilege is literally a “private law” (from the Latin legis, law), a monopoly right. The main privilege is to create bank credit and take deposits that are insured by governments, ultimately by public debt and the right to tax. These financial returns have an entirely different dynamic from commercial and industrial profits. They are made off the economy, not part of the economy’s physical and technological growth and capital formation. They are an overhead charge paid out of profits and wages.
In these respects, financial returns and profits are quite different dynamics. When a company is bought out on credit, the profits end up being paid out as interest rather than reinvested to expand production and employment. Financialized companies are treated much as absentee-owned commercial real estate: Buyers pledge the rent (in this case, the corporate profits) to the creditor who lends the credit for the purchase. Buyers may even pay depreciation (tax-deductible cash flow) to the banks and bondholders – hoping to squeeze out a capital gain or sell of the company’s parts for more than the whole is worth. Low-return divisions are closed down or sold off. The basic dynamic is shrinkage.
Paying out profit as interest leaves no reportable earnings. Interest is deemed a “cost of doing business.” But it is not a cost of production. It is financial overhead. And since the 1980s, growth in this overhead has absorbed and even outstripped the rise in productivity. Instead of living standards rising, the economic surplus has taken the form of a return to the FIRE sector, mainly the financial sector – commercial banks, investment banks, mortgage packagers and brokers, and so forth. Real estate owners gained during the bubble years as property prices rose faster than the bank debt that was inflating them. But the reckless junk mortgage lending and outright fraud led to a collapse of new lending after September 2008, leaving a residue of negative equity, bankruptcy, foreclosures and abandonments in its wake.
Companies that pay out all their cash flow as interest do not pay income taxes on this diversion of revenue, because interest is a tax-deductible expense. As for the financial engineers at the top – the class that has replaced industrial engineers – they aim to get rich not by earning profits, but by capital gains. These are taxed at much lower rates. So the financialized tax system encourages speculation rather than profit-making direct investment.
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