Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet the New Plan, Same as the Old Plan!

There's an old joke that makes the rounds of my Progressive friends that no matter what the problem facing the nation might be, the conservative answer is always "cut taxes."  Gun violence?  Cut taxes.  Explosion on an oil rig? Cut taxes.  Hurricane?  Cut taxes.

Humor, to be funny, must contain a nugget of truth, though in this case, the nugget is more of a boulder.

Roosevelt Institute Fellow and blogger Mike Konczal looks at the various policy promises & positions expressed by the GOP since 2004 and finds some remarkable similarities, regardless of the challenges facing the nation
But the same exact playbook is there in 2006, as it was in 2004 and 2008, and as it is 2012. Domestic oil production, school choice, trade agreements, cut spending and reduce taxes and regulations - it's been the conservative answer to times of deep economic stress, times of economic recovery, times of economic worries and times of economic panic. Which is another way of saying that the Republicans have no plan for how to actually deal with this specific crisis we face.
When your only tool is a hammer, you beat the shit out of the nation until it comes to heel, I suppose.  I'm only surprised that this model doesn't extend back further than 2004.

I peeked at W's 2000 nomination acceptance speech and it does indeed reference schools, spending cuts and tax reductions, but the bugaboo of regulation did not appear, nor did the silly concept of "energy independence."  Perhaps W learned something in his time as an oil executive that energy is a global market and the notion of independence is a fallacy.  I know it's a stretch, but perhaps.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This Blog Endorses Jill Stein For President

As you may have guessed from the recent livery switch from red to green, this blog endorses Green Party candidate Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala for President and Vice President respectively.

I'm not going to enumerate the litany of disappointments and outright betrayals of Progressive ideals President Obama has subjected us to, but they are sufficient for me to regret my endorsement of him and my vote for him in 2008 and to fully endorse Jill Stein for President.

Jill Stein is a real Progressive voice and would make an outstanding Commander-in-Chief.

What really sold me, though, was not this little commercial but rather her thoughtful Green New Deal position paper, a summary of which you can read below the fold.  In summary, the Green New Deal includes an Economic Bill of Rights similar to one proposed by FDR; an investment strategy for green businesses and technology; strong financial reform and re-regulation; and a re-invigorated democracy with a revocation of corporate personhood.

Ryan is Wrong... Again....

Matt Yglesias:
What I think is actually implausible here isn't anything Paul Ryan said about Janesville per se, it's his larger implication that following Paul Ryan's policy prescriptions would have boosted industrial production. Ryan is one of the few members of the House of Representatives who's actually articulated an idea that would have had a clear impact on this kind of situation, and it was a terrible idea—calling for an interest rate hike in October 2010. Had we followed his advice, domestic demand for automobiles and other consumer durables would have tumbled while the pricier dollar would have made American exports and import-competing manufactured goods less attractive. That would have been a double blow to industrial production, essentially ensuring more closed factories rather than fewer.
And Ryan is considered by most Republicans to be an economic heavyweight.  Well, I suppose that in Republican circles, "economic heavyweight" is a pretty low bar... There's not much competition.  To the rest of the economic community, he's an idiot.

Say It Ain't So, Mittens!

Back in 1990, Mitt Romney rode into Bain & Company to save the day.  It's part of the story he tells about himself and how he is the most awesome capitalist ever.  Unfortunately, like much of his life, it's a big freakin' lie.

In fact, government documents on the bailout obtained by Rolling Stone show that the legend crafted by Romney is basically a lie. The federal records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Romney's initial rescue attempt at Bain & Company was actually a disaster – leaving the firm so financially strapped that it had "no value as a going concern." Even worse, the federal bailout ultimately engineered by Romney screwed the FDIC – the bank insurance system backed by taxpayers – out of at least $10 million. And in an added insult, Romney rewarded top executives at Bain with hefty bonuses at the very moment that he was demanding his handout from the feds.

The Newsroom: Tea Party Taliban

This is so awesome.  Imagine a world where this was actually a news program???

Conservatives, Arise!

Be not afraid to throw off the shackles of your Dystopian Overlords!

If a morally acceptable American conservatism is ever to extricate itself from a pseudo-scientific inverted Marxist economic theory, it must grasp that order, tradition, and stability are not coterminous with an uncritical worship of the Almighty Dollar, nor with obeisance to the demands of the wealthy. Conservatives need to think about the world they want: do they really desire a social Darwinist dystopia? 
The objective of the predatory super-rich and their political handmaidens is to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves. Those super-rich, in turn, aim to create a “tollbooth” economy, whereby more and more of our highways, bridges, libraries, parks, and beaches are possessed by private oligarchs who will extract a toll from the rest of us. Was this the vision of the Founders? Was this why they believed governments were instituted among men—that the very sinews of the state should be possessed by the wealthy in the same manner that kingdoms of the Old World were the personal property of the monarch?
What's remarkable is this was penned not by some wild-eyed Marxist, but by a former Republican congressional staffer who watched his colleagues assist in the dismantling and fire-sale of America in the 1990s to the new outsourcing oligarchs.

It's a must-read article from the author of The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted.

Zach and I Have Fans!

And by "fans" I mean stark raving lunatics who act like celebrity stalkers.

This email is in response to the comment thread on this post at Blogging Blue and refers to a much earlier thread from this post where I allegedly "spammed" her (i.e. magically made her comments disappear through some WordPress spam sorcery).  Of course, I didn't have access to do anything at Blogging Blue except write and edit my own posts and manage comments on my own posts.  I had no access to the spam functionality.  But whatever.

Please enjoy the ramblings of an unhinged mind.  Meet "Monica."

I, for some reason, went to read BB for the first time in a long time.  I was drawn to the thread by Lisa Mux and began reading the comments.  Again, Phil goes off the deep end, and you come to his defense.  Chris didn't say anything so terrible to Phil to deserve the comments Phil wrote, but yet, you call Chris the "jackass"...which by the way is so damn "civil" on your part.   
What got my attention the most is where you comment about how "you don't care".  You don't, do you?  That is something I learned awfully abruptly.  You are quite selfish with the people who think they are friends with you.  You are very quick to "moderate" and prevent others from voicing their opinions when it's about you or Phil.  It's almost as if he has something on you.  You never defended anyone the way you defend Phil.  It's very odd.  Someone likened me to Hitler and said I was no better than the person who wrote that horrible email to you, and you didn't say a word in my defense.  That was very telling to me.  It's not that I needed you defend me but if you knew better you could have easily said that comparison was unfair or wrong.  But, you said nothing.  I figured either you agreed with the comparison or you are a really lousy friend.  Like I said, it was very telling of your character, and I can understand better others' criticisms of you.     
I can't help but wonder what it was that broke yours and Chris' friendship up.  I say "friendship" but in reality it probably wan't even that.  It seems you befriend people and are nice to them until you have no more use for them...or until they disagree with you.  It's too bad.  I can't help but wonder how many people you have hurt acting like that.   
I still believe Phil spammed me.  Although, there is another possibility.  Maybe you were lurking and spammed me.  You seem to defend Phil at all cost and maybe, just maybe, you were the one.  You were right there the second I posted something publicly about being spammed.  Almost as if you were expecting something.  In any case, you really handled the whole situation badly and my original point was lost.  Maybe that was the point of the spamming.  Who knows.  It appears you and Phil both have very big egos and can't handle anyone pointing out your hypocrisy, which you two were both big hypocrites about the sexism.  It's okay for you two to be sexist or make sexist wise cracks, but not okay for a republican.  How ridiculous.  You are ridiculous.    
[vitriol directed at uninvolved third parties removed] 
It's fun to be a blogger!

Sometimes the Irony is Extra Ironic: Non-Persons Sign Personhood Petition

The Colorado "personhood" amendment fails due to a high-volume of non-persons signing the ballot initiative...

To be precise, according to LifeNews, “The amendment fell 3,859 signatures short of the requirement and will not be on the November ballot.” 
That may not sound bad, but in reality it is much worse: You see, 86,105 signatures were required. They “got” 106,119, which is more than enough – if they are valid. 
Which the state determined more than enough of them were not. 
The State of Colorado rejected 23,873 signatures as invalid. By my math, that is 21 percent of the signatures. 
That’s a lot of dishonesty or incompetence or I don’t know what. When the Colorado Personhood Coalition writes “Thanks to all who took part in this tremendous effort” are they thanking all those who put in extra time faking signatures? Of course, we don’t know yet why they were rejected but the Personhood folks think they can get them back.
A 21% reject rate?  Hilarious.

Do you know what the rejection rate was for the recall Scott Walker signatures in Wisconsin?


Conservative ends always justify conservative means.  Lying, cheating and stealing... It's all in the name of Christ.  I'm sure he'd be so proud.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Because Rape is No Big Deal, Right?

Actual dialog between an actual reporter from AP and an actual Tea Party politician seeking to unseat Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Jr.

MARK SCOLFORO, ASSOCIATED PRESS: How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?
TOM SMITH: I lived something similar to that with my own family. She chose life, and I commend her for that. She knew my views. But, fortunately for me, I didn’t have to.. she chose they way I thought. No don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t rape.
SCOLFORO: Similar how?
TOM SMITH: Uh, having a baby out of wedlock.
SCOLFORO: That’s similar to rape?
TOM SMITH: No, no, no, but… put yourself in a father’s situation, yes. It is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.
 How can men like Tom Smith look their mothers, wives and daughters in the eye?

Deconstructing Mitt

The audacity.  The chutzpah.  It's positively breathtaking...
By making debt the centerpiece of his campaign, Romney was making a calculated bluff of historic dimensions – placing a massive all-in bet on the rank incompetence of the American press corps. The result has been a brilliant comedy: A man makes a $250 million fortune loading up companies with debt and then extracting million-dollar fees from those same companies, in exchange for the generous service of telling them who needs to be fired in order to finance the debt payments he saddled them with in the first place. That same man then runs for president riding an image of children roasting on flames of debt, choosing as his running mate perhaps the only politician in America more pompous and self-righteous on the subject of the evils of borrowed money than the candidate himself. If Romney pulls off this whopper, you'll have to tip your hat to him: No one in history has ever successfully run for president riding this big of a lie. It's almost enough to make you think he really is qualified for the White House.

Matt Taibbi is a scrumptious blend of George Orwell, Hunter S. Thompson, Will Rogers and Edward R. Murrow.  And he is the most important journalist working today.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Christian Theocrats Love Hurricanes Too!

They see the storm as a sign from God Dog that the whole Mormon thing might be a big mistake.
“Heaven sent a hurricane to hold off Gov. Romney’s coronation, so today we’re urging pro-life GOP delegates to abstain from any voting on Romney’s nomination until all GOP financial support for Todd Akin is reinstated and details of Romney’s income tax returns in connection with Bain’s Stericycle investment have been made public,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said.
Yes, because Todd Akin is the model Republican!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ireland's Fightin' President!

The Education of a Tea Party Blowhard, or, as Mr. Higgins puts it, a "wanker whipping up fear..."

Speaking of Regulatory Capture...

Yes indeedy!
Not even trying to fool anyone anymore, the Romney campaign has admitted that their energy policy was written by the oil and gas industry.

Regulatory Capture at the SEC: A Prime Example

Many economists, on both the left and right, have bemoaned the capture of the SEC by the very institutions the SEC was designed to regulate.  Rarely, though, is there such clear evidence of this capture as was on display this week.

...Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro had to cancel an Aug. 29 vote on sensible new rules to make money-market mutual funds safer. Although Schapiro had the support of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and leading conservative economists, she knew that three of the five commissioners would oppose her. This came after an intensive and often-misleading campaign by the $2.6 trillion money-fund industry to gloss over the inherent instability of the funds. 
Among those swayed by the lobbying was Luis Aguilar, a Democratic commissioner (the other is Elisse Walter) who usually sides with Schapiro. Aguilar, a former general counsel of Invesco, one of the country’s major sponsors of money-market funds, met 11 times with industry lobbyists this year. Among his concerns was that additional rules might lead investors to funnel cash into shadowy, unregulated funds. 
This incidentally is a claim of the Investment Company Institute, a mutual-fund lobbying group, which never offered persuasive evidence to back up the assertion. Enough had already been done, the ICI argued, citing modest changes made in 2010 requiring the funds to hold investments that could be quickly converted into cash.
The ICI's lobbying was successful and, for the money market fund managers, a victory.  For the rest of us?  Not so much.
If the ICI and its backers want an industry that can still act as a tripwire for financial panic, they should be congratulated. For the investing public, former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt say it all: The SEC’s inability to act is “a national disgrace.”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

King Midas Misunderstood

In response to the efforts by the GOP to add a return to the gold standard to their 2012 Convention Platform, I think it's useful to reflect on an article Paul Krugman penned back in 1996.
The legend of King Midas has been generally misunderstood. Most people think the curse that turned everything the old miser touched into gold, leaving him unable to eat or drink, was a lesson in the perils of avarice. But Midas' true sin was his failure to understand monetary economics. What the gods were really telling him is that gold is just a metal. If it sometimes seems to be more, that is only because society has found it convenient to use gold as a medium of exchange--a bridge between other, truly desirable, objects. There are other possible mediums of exchange, and it is silly to imagine that this pretty, but only moderately useful, substance has some irreplaceable significance.
 I find it an ongoing source of amusement that the gold bugs don't get this simple idea: gold is only valuable because we agree that it's valuable.  It has some marginal industrial uses, but beyond that, and making pretty baubles, it's pretty useless.  It's heavy, hard to move around.  Compare the cost of moving $1BN worth of gold versus $1BN worth of dollars in electronic form and you'll get what I mean, $1BN of gold weighs about 37,000 pounds or around 19 tons.  Even in a gold reserve system, you eventually have to move the gold around.  From a value store perspective, you can achieve the same result using dollars, yen or very small rocks.  We just have to agree on it.

BREAKING: Actual Wisconsin Voter Fraud Revealed!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, an actual, documented case of voter fraud right here in Wisconsin!  The shameful story, reported by Madison ABC affiliate WKOW, tells the shocking story of a non-resident voting in a Wisconsin election!  The horror!

Oh, and did I mention it was Wisconsin State Representative Robin Vos's wife who cast the fraudulent ballot?  The Robin Vos who co-sponsored the bill.  That Robin Vos.

MADISON (WKOW) -- The wife of a prominent state lawmaker cast a vote in Wisconsin's April presidential primary election, even though she was a resident of Idaho at the time. 
Wisconsin Government Accountability Board records show Samantha Vos voted in the state's April 3 election. Vos is the wife of Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the co-chair of the state's powerful Joint Finance Committee. 
But records from Canyon County, Idaho show Samantha Vos swore under oath April 19 she was a resident of that state since early March. Vos' declaration came as she filed for legal separation from her husband. 
Wisconsin law requires 28 days of continuous residency prior to voting. 
Attempts by 27 News to reach Samantha Vos have been unsuccessful. 
Through a spokesperson, Rep. Vos declined comment, other than to note the casting of the vote was his wife's matter.
Rarely is ironic irony quite so ironic...  A special tip-o-the-hat to Scoop!

Understanding David Clarke

Charlie Pierce helps me understand Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke a little bit better.

I've known local sheriffs, liked a few, and voted for more than that. I am not prepared to hand over all governmental authority to guys who ran because the field for Register Of Probate looked too tough.
That explains a lot...

The Failure of Medicare Advantage

Paul Krugman calls a spade a spade.
Medicare Advantage is a 15-year failed experiment in privatization. Running Medicare through private insurance companies was supposed to save money through the magic of the marketplace; in reality, private insurers, with their extra overhead, have never been able to compete on a level playing field with conventional Medicare. But Congress refused to take no for an answer, and kept the program alive by paying the insurers substantially more than the costs per patient of regular Medicare. All the ACA does is end this overpayment.
So the Romney/Ryan plan to convert all of Medicare to this scam system will surely work, right?  Right?