Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The bullshit outrage machine

Republicans refuse to hold themselves to the standard they hold others to. Morally, their development stopped at age two.

I'm running for office, for Mitt's sake

Mitt's core value: whatever's good for Mitt. The business world trained him for that. He's used to lying for money.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

We need more Barney Franks

... especially if Newt Gingrich (R-stupid person's idea of a smart person) wins the Republican Presidential nomination.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why tax the lord of the manor when so many serfs love him?

Jon Kyl (R-vassaline) simply captures the Republican way: If you're not wealthy, they don't give a shit about you. I don't mean 1% wealthy, I mean 0.1% wealthy.

These men in the Republican Party are bad. They're not just sincerely mistaken. They want a society in which all rewards flow to those who already have more than enough. They think this is not only the efficient way to organize the economy, they think it's the moral way. And they're dead wrong on both counts.

They're the kind of people who have deserved revolutions. They're the kind of people who hold up The Road to Serfdom, unopened, and who fail to realize that they are advocating literal serfdom, rather than the figurative kind Hayek feared.

Missouri loves company

Alabama would rather be poor than brown. Again.

Alabama’s competitors certainly won’t waste any time. After the Tuscaloosa incident, the editorial page of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch invited Mercedes to Missouri. “We are the Show-Me State,” it said, “not the ‘Show me your papers’ state.”
Of course, the people who suffer from this sort of draconian response (to a real problem) are those who are already marginal, those for whom this exhausts their margin. Republican political consultants? They have life tenure, assuming they never think outside their ideological constraints.

The New York Times is off-base on one thing. Americans will fill jobs that pay a fair wage. If an economic habit - cheap food - requires penury of its workers, there's something wrong with the habit, not with the potential workers. A previous highly economical agricultural system - holding cotton-pickers in human bondage - didn't argue for the status quo.

Pay the workers better, and they'll show up for this back-breaking work.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wingnut emails are total bullshit

If you get a derogatory email about any Democrat or liberal, chances are good that its content is made up bullshit.

Will Americans be subjected to international gun-control laws under a new U.N. treaty signed by Hillary Rodham Clinton? Is the president honoring Jane Fonda as one of the “women of the century”? Was suspected Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan an adviserto the Obama administration?

Like the Medicare story, these claims are demonstrably false, too. Nevertheless, they are popular on the thriving underground e-mail circuit, a carnival of nonsense whose star attractions have included the canard that Obama is a secret Muslim and variations on the “birther” claims about his origins.
Normal people call this lying. Why are conservatives so eager to be taken in? For them, faith and obeisance to their tribe are more important than reality.

This is why many of them still believe that:
  • Darth and Duhbya were right to invade Iraq.
  • Global warming is a conspiracy of scientists who are too ideological to be paid off by fossil fuel industries but who are too greedy for picayune government research grants to give up their spartan labs.
  • The economy, which was just torched by the free market assholes at the top of the income and wealth distributions, only needs more transfer of income and wealth to the very same rich assholes and then everything will be hunky-dory for all of us.
  • President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist.
Information cannot argue with a closed mind.

The log in conservatives' eye

Republican economics is total bullshit

The puzzle remains why so many otherwise sane middle class Americans still shill for the wealthy, even the very, very wealthy who do nothing more than skim off the cream:

[W]ho are the 0.1 percent? Very few of them are Steve Jobs-type innovators; most of them are corporate bigwigs and financial wheeler-dealers. One recent analysis found that 43 percent of the super-elite are executives at nonfinancial companies, 18 percent are in finance and another 12 percent are lawyers or in real estate. And these are not, to put it mildly, professions in which there is a clear relationship between someone’s income and his economic contribution.

Executive pay, which has skyrocketed over the past generation, is famously set by boards of directors appointed by the very people whose pay they determine; poorly performing C.E.O.’s still get lavish paychecks, and even failed and fired executives often receive millions as they go out the door.

Meanwhile, the economic crisis showed that much of the apparent value created by modern finance was a mirage. As the Bank of England’s director for financial stability recently put it, seemingly high returns before the crisis simply reflected increased risk-taking — risk that was mostly borne not by the wheeler-dealers themselves but either by na├»ve investors or by taxpayers, who ended up holding the bag when it all went wrong. And as he waspishly noted, “If risk-making were a value-adding activity, Russian roulette players would contribute disproportionately to global welfare.”
They must watch a lot of stupidity-inducing Fox. A lot...

Friday, November 25, 2011

What John McCain means

When John McCain praises Jon Kyl as "a decent & principled man," he means that Kyl is not a bigger asshole than the usual run of unreasonable, unreasoning, and impossible-to-reason-with Republicans.

Uncle Duke monetizes chaos

The vulture feeding off a carcass fills a vital ecological niche.

Even as NATO bombed Libya, the Americans offered to make Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi their client — and charge him a hefty consulting fee. Their price: a $10 million retainer before beginning negotiations with Colonel Qaddafi’s representatives.
And how is it that Republican Montana gubernatorial candidate Neil Livingstone is initially identified in the blandest terms as a "Washington terrorism expert"?

This sort of capitalist is loyal only to the almighty dollar. (Note: They're not all Republicans.)

Exhibit A, Darth Cheney

Anne Laurie on Balloon Juice:

[T]he Republican Party has not recently been stolen by a batch of half-witted bigots, xenophobes, authoritarians, and garden-variety grifters. They’ve had control of the GOP wheel for more than 40 years, at least since Nixon’s triumphant accession to the Oval Office with the help of many of these same fine Heritage Institute ‘statesmen’. They were bad people when they were interning during Watergate, they were bad people when they used Reagan as a figurehead to start the full-scale authoritarian takeover and banana-republic-style looting of our national treasury, and they remain Bad People in Charge even unto this very day.
It's just that the vicious racists who used to be Southern Democrats have joined their particular brand of reactionary wingnuttery to the GOP.

Margin of victory

When you're fighting a class war against freeloading workers, this has to warm the cockles of your heart:

The average Bush tax cut in 2011 for a taxpayer in the richest one percent is greater than the average income of the other 99 percent ($66,384 compared to $58,506).

Dangling modifier

Hope and change come in fitful bursts, followed by reaction and retrenchment. As it is with Occupy Wall Street, so it is in Bahrain:

Of all the uprisings in the Arab world, Bahrain managed to end the unrest, largely by using coercive force. Tensions between Sunnis and Shiites flared, and a country that was once one of the region’s most cosmopolitan is now one of its most divided.
and in Egypt:
[T]he military council began spelling out plans to carve out permanent political powers and protection from civilian oversight under the next constitution. Those efforts exploded after the government used force to clear a small protest camp from Tahrir Square last Saturday, amid mounting unrest across the country.
A few observations, not too taxing for those of you just in or headed for another tryptophan coma:
  • Our reporters know to cheer for the Arab spring protesters and against the Occupiers. Why is that?
  • Go back three centuries and substitute Protestant and Catholic for Sunni and Shiite, and you get Christian Europe with all it sectarian conflict - and the motivation for our separation of church and state.
  • A despotism's power grows out of the barrel of a gun - or the nozzle of a can of pepper spray.
  • Monarchy is never legitimate.
  • I'm a liberal, so it's not nearly as easy to scare me as your average Fox-watching conservamaton, but Islamist co-option of the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Arab spring scares me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Not called the authorities for nothing

I had thought of collecting the videos of police violence against the Occupy movement. Joshua Holland at AlterNet beat me to it. Beat. Ha.

There are sobering lessons to learn here:

  • The police choose violence to enforce order.
  • The police serve power, not the citizens.
  • The police don't give a shit about Constitutional rights, only about authority.
  • The police handle teabaggers much more gently than they handle Occupiers. Teabaggers can carry firearms without being beaten. Unthreatening Occupiers get attacked for their resolute non-violence.
  • The police are trying to provoke a violent response from protesters - and sometimes they succeed.
  • Power is restrained by ever-present video, not fully but often. A few cops are too stupid to realize their actions are going to wind up on YouTube. The rest mill around, unsure what to do.
  • The big media, who should be all over these videos because they're vivid TV, mostly aren't playing them and will never play them in the sort of heavy-handed rotation Fox uses when it can illustrate one of its spin points. (You can bet they'll loop - out of context - any protester violence).
  • Of course, we already knew that big media serve their corporate masters.
  • Net neutrality is essential to showing the world what's true. A corporate-controlled Internet would be a censored Internet - hey, those crummy little videos use too much of their precious bandwidth.
Can you imagine how different the Vietnam War protests would have been with guerrilla video? Or the coal country union wars?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Palace guard

Click image for full Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoon.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wall Street two-step

So often, a Democrat will be suspected of a crime, and wingnuts will appear to say, "Na na, what do you think now?" As if to say, see, you say Republicans should be locked up, but now it's one of yours!

My answer, which they routinely ignore, is that it's fine with me to prosecute guys like Jon Corzine, irrespective of the fact that he's a Democrat.

This disconnect between some wingers and me is that I don't have double standards for members of my tribe. Because they do, they expect me to.

They project every one of their own immoralities onto liberals. We've learned enough not to project our decencies onto them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Tiffany's of historians

If it looks like a bribe, it probably is. With Newt Gingrich (R-money-grubbing), who's spent his entire career in corrupt self-enrichment, that probability is even higher, approaching one. Freddie Mac paid him more than $1.6 million as a historian? You've got to be kidding me. Here's a guy who couldn't get tenure at a third-rate rural state college (for which I'm sure he blames liberals, but which I regard as proof the tenure system can work).

Gingrich "explains" this obvious influence-peddling gig:

“I offered them advice on precisely what they didn’t do,” he said at the debate. “My advice as a historian, when they walked in and said to me, ‘We are now making loans to people who have no credit history and have no record of paying back anything, but that’s what the government wants us to do.’ As I said to them at the time, this is a bubble. This is insane. This is impossible.”
What a load of bullshit! He even walked back the lie the next day:
“I have no idea what the dates were,” he said, according to the Web site. “I offered strategic advice over a period of time. I did no lobbying of any kind. And I’m very happy to offer people strategic advice if they come and ask my advice.”

He's simply manufacturing lies to cover his corpulent ass. It's a lot easier to give glib answers if you can just make shit up. Hired historians don't get to make policy recommendations. They don't even meet the leadership.

Gingrich claims Freddie Mac needed his strategic advice and, lo and behold, that advice perfectly anticipated today's Republican claim that private lenders making the bad "innovative" loans couldn't possibly be at fault - since the market is purr-fect - so it had to be 30-year-old anti-redlining law that caused the meltdown. Yet now he doesn't know whether he gave that advice before or after the meltdown.

Even beforehand, the advice would have been worthless in wingnut fantasy land. If the big bad government was really forcing bad loans, Freddie would have been fully aware of that fact - and of Newt's inability, as a historian, to change it. Unless of course he was lobbying...

Gringrich is a sociopathic pig grown fat at the right-wing hog trough. At least Michele Bachmann has principles.

A level playing field is too much to ask

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mayor Orwell

Michael Bloomberg (I-Wall Street) has cleared Zucotti Park with the following bullshit rationale:

“The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” the mayor said in the statement. “Ever since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with” because the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”
In other, less Orwellian words, the wrong people were availing themselves of the park. Further, they were using all of the park, and of course the terms of the law require using less than all of it. It's right there in black and white!

Plus, up is down.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Multiple guess

One of these candidates will be the Republican nominee. That alone should fill us all with existential dread.
Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/DailyKos cartoon.

If only this were hyperbole

The Republican Party has a fetish for crazy.  Hunter nails it on DailyKos:

Make no mistake here, I haven't ever forgiven you for Bush. Listening to that dimwit speak for five minutes should have convinced you what a mistake it would be to let that barely functioning manchild play with the entire free world like it was his personal Jenga game, and his first few public appearances were when you and I parted ways for-freaking-ever. But Perry, now? Rick Perry, who is the dumber version of George Bush? The less principled version? The less eloquent version? If that's who your leading pundits wanted in the race, if that's the be-all, end-all conservative savior (emphasis on the end-all, I guess), then who is it going to be after eight more years? A goddamn vase full of geraniums?

It makes you look bad. It makes you look dumb. It makes you look like, well, like a party so thoroughly detached from their mental capacities that they would actually look up to a guy like Rick Perry as being their brain trust.
I could have quoted any of a dozen other paragraphs. (But not geraniums - too gay - instead a barn full of tobacco.)

Ron Burgundy without his earpiece

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Karl Rove on an earwig to Duhbya is now even more plausible. But Rick Perry doesn't have Rove.

There is no deficit

Republicans gave it all to the rich. All of it. Not the slightly rich, the very very very rich. Trillions of dollars. They still have it, spoils of their completely successful class war against the rest of us.

The staggering economic inequality that has led Americans across the country to take to the streets in protest is no accident. It has been fueled to a large extent by the GOP's all-out war on behalf of the rich. Since Republicans rededicated themselves to slashing taxes for the wealthy in 1997, the average annual income of the 400 richest Americans has more than tripled, to $345 million – while their share of the tax burden has plunged by 40 percent. Today, a billionaire in the top 400 pays less than 17 percent of his income in taxes – five percentage points less than a bus driver earning $26,000 a year. "Most Americans got none of the growth of the preceding dozen years," says Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. "All the gains went to the top percentage points."
The rich didn't use it for anything the Republicans promised. They didn't create jobs. They didn't invest in anything hard, only in the Wall Street casino. They didn't even trickle it down on us.
The stimulus argument was lousy economics. The previous two decades, after all, had demonstrated that "trickle-down" tax cuts don't juice the economy – they create bubbles and balloon deficits. Proponents pointed to Reagan's original tax cut in 1981, claiming it had spurred economic growth. But that is nothing more than "urban legend," [David] Stockman says. The economy "did recover after 1982," he says, "but mainly because the Federal Reserve defeated inflation."
When money is involved, every single Republican legislative action for many years has had as its purpose the enrichment of the already rich. They want plutocracy.
The deal privileged gambling on stocks over working for a living: The tax rate the richest pay on their long-term capital gains was slashed by 25 percent, while their rate on dividends fell by almost 60 percent. The move not only fueled speculation of Wall Street, it further widened the considerable gap between rich and poor. "It was a very destructive combination to have a national economic policy that stimulated debt-financed capital gains and then taxed the windfall at the lowest rate imaginable," says Stockman. "That contributed, clearly, to the growing imbalance in household income and wealth."

And it's a complete and total lie that beggaring the middle class to stimulate the wealthy provides any benefits whatsoever to the economy as a whole or to the beggared - and buggered - middle class.
As with the offshore profits, the banks used the money to line the pockets of executives and investors – while doing little to speed the recovery of Main Street. "We gave an enormous subsidy to these financial institutions, and they have not returned it to the American people," said Warren. "The administration could have said, 'All right, take this and multiply it throughout the economy.' But Paulson never made that a condition of taking the money."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Securitization Excuse Confabulator

We live in a nation where financial crimes are not punished enough to deter them in the slightest:

So to recap: a unit of Citigroup, having repeatedly violated the same laws and having repeatedly violated the SEC’s own cease-and-desist orders and injunctions, is dragged into court one more time for committing a massive fraud.

And what does the SEC do? It doesn’t even bring up Citi’s history of ignoring the SEC’s own order, slaps the bank with a fractional fine, refuses to target any individuals, allows the bank to walk away without an admission of wrongdoing, and puts a cherry on the top by describing the $160 million heist not as a crime, but as unintentional negligence.
And it's not as though Citigroup is the only home of thoroughly institutionalized fraud. All of its competing syndicates do it too:
According to a New York Times analysis, nearly all of the biggest financial companies — Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America among them — have settled fraud cases by promising that they would never again violate an antifraud law, only to have the S.E.C. conclude they did it again a few years later.
Time to turn this over to the Organized Crime Task Force and pursue a few juicy RICO cases.

(h/t John Cole at Balloon Juice)

My hypocrisy knows no bounds

I'm employed, yet I support unemployment benefits.

I'm white, yet I support civil rights for minorities.

I'm a man, yet I support civil rights for women.

I'm not pregnant, yet I support abortion rights.

I'm not hungry, yet I support food stamps.

I'm not retired, yet I support Social Security and Medicare.

I'm not stupid, yet I support education.

I'm an atheist, yet I support freedom of religion.

What a hypocrite!

Seriously?  Conservatives claim Elizabeth Warren is a hypocrite because she has achieved wealth but still advocates for the middle class?!?

“I don’t begrudge her own personal wealth. I begrudge her hypocrisy of trying to play the demagogue against those who have achieved and who have created wealth,” said Rick Manning of the conservative group Americans for Limited Government.

You'd think they would be celebrating her. Instead, they've gone fucking soft in the head and believe they're permitted to redefine words however they choose to score points with their ignoramus base.

They're not so much post-modern as they have all the ethics of the advertising industry and, like it, are paid to repeat lies so long and so often that they start to sound plausible to the weak-minded.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lying for money

I hear the big lie repeated by weak-minded bullshit-suckers.  This big lie:

Wall Street has its own version: Its Big Lie is that banks and investment houses are merely victims of the crash. You see, the entire boom and bust was caused by misguided government policies. It was not irresponsible lending or derivative or excess leverage or misguided compensation packages, but rather long-standing housing policies that were at fault.

Indeed, the arguments these folks make fail to withstand even casual scrutiny. But that has not stopped people who should know better from repeating them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Situational ethics

Click image for full Rob Tornoe/Media Matters cartoon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Why not the worst?

Charles Pierce channels my anger:

By any conventional measure, and entirely through their own fault, the Republicans have produced a field of candidates so utterly comical, so completely devoid of conventional political merit, that the field itself is a strong evidence for the elimination of the Republican party. ... This isn't a primary campaign field. It's a condo-board election at the Hell Country Estates. ...

[T]he Democratic party has failed utterly in its duty to the country to force the Republicans to regain their sanity or die as a political entity. It has failed utterly even to try. What we see now in the Republican primary field is a result of that failure. It's bad enough that the Republicans will pay no price for embarrassing themselves this way.

Ain't socialism if there's killin' involved

Deposit, no return

Click image for full Paul Fell/Artizans Syndicate cartoon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Yet wingnuts think class jealousy is the problem

The wealthy say that spongers, moochers, and leeches are stealing their rightfully huge share of the GDP. Here's the truth: Unless you're in the top 1%, your share of the GDP hasn't gone up. After taxes.

I guess we now know who the spongers, moochers, and leeches really are. In my dreams.

What the graphs don't say: The bottom 80% did see income some growth, but nearly all of it came from the meteoric rise of two-income households.

By the way, don't forget where these quintiles divide.