Loathsome Ted

 Posted by on April 8, 2016 at 8:00 AM
Apr 082016


Ted Cruz provokes a round of Bronx cheers from natives with “New York values”

An AP/GFK poll released yesterday shows that presidential candidate Ted Cruz has a net unfavorable rating of 33%.  That’s 10 points less than Donald Drumpf (with whom he shares a mere 26%approval rating), and 20 points higher than Hillary Clinton (40% positive rating).  Drumpf and Clinton are two well-known commodities with substantial history and exposure.  Drumpf ‘s negatives are as much a feature as they are a bug of his strategy to appeal to the lesser angels of certain demographics he needs for a core constituency.  The Clintons spawned an entire cottage industry of conservative haters during the nineties, which waned after Bill Clinton left office.  Now that Hillary is running for president, it is back in full force.  In contrast, Cruz, with the exception of his success at shutting down the US government in 2013,  has been on the national stage for only a year since he announced his candidacy. What, then, makes him so loathsome?

When he tries to be personable, or God forfend, humorous, Cruz somehow comes across as creepy; or at least unauthentic. His reading of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham to his daughters on the Senate floor during his filibuster of Obamacare had all the charm of a dentist doing a root canal without anesthesia. With a face made for radio, we can chalk up Senator Sourpus’s electoral successes, not to the appeal of his personality, but to the professionals running his campaign.

His fellow Republican Senate colleagues find him even more loathsome than does the general public. In addition to calling Senate Leader Mitch McConnell a liar for bringing the Export-Import Bank back to life, he called him “a puppet for Democratic leaders and a foe of conservatives” for refusing to add a rider defunding Planned Parenthood in the 2016 budget bill. He pressed his attack on McConnell by forcing a procedural vote that was, in effect, a backdoor referendum on his leadership. McConnell, no shrinking violet when it comes to playing political hardball, blocked him from speaking on the Senate floor, cementing Cruz’s reputation as persona non grata on both sides of the aisle. (Karma alert: Cruz is now courting his estranged Senate colleagues for support in winning the GOP presidential nomination.)

All of which pales in comparison to Cruz’s success in actually shutting down the entire government in 2013 for not defuning Obamacare, Ted’s greatest achievement in the eyes of his loyal followers.

After dropping out of the presidential race, Cruz’s fellow Republican senator Lindsey Graham announced his support for Jeb Bush. When Jeb’s campaign cratered ($130 million dollars just doesn’t buy what it used to), and the field of contenders shrank from 17 to 3, poor Lindsey found himself hoisted on the horns of a dilemma: Who to support now?  Drumpf or Cruz? In late January, he announced his choice, lamenting:

It’s like being shot or poisoned. What does it really matter?

Graham put the disdain of his Senate colleagues into even greater relief when in February of this year he told the Washington Press Club Foundation’s 72nd Congressional Dinner crowd:

My party’s gone bat shit crazy…If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.

Good one, Lindsey. With a record of statements like that, one could be forgiven for assuming that you would support the only other candidate with a path to the nomination, Donald Drumpf. But so great is the GOP’s fear that Drumpf would lead it to utter ruin,* that a mere three weeks later, I see you steadying yourself with one hand on your fainting couch, clutching your pearls with the other, raising money for Cruz. Must really suck to be you.

In close, a question for Cruz: How’s that whole sneering “New York values”  dis of Drumpf working out fer ya?

Cruz rotten apple_big

Senator Sourpus really knows how to make an impression

*The same AP/GfK poll found that “two out of three people now have an unfavorable view of the party. The 67 percent negative rating is up from the 58 percent who viewed the GOP that way in October 2014. Just 30 percent of Americans now have a favorable view of the GOP…”


The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Part III

 Posted by on January 10, 2016 at 12:01 AM
Jan 102016

obamaguns dunning-kruger
A commentary video from the NRA claimed that President Obama stood in front of “the wrong people” when delivering a speech about gun violence before gun violence survivors, and that instead he should have stood before “the groups he is really helping: gang members, felons, and repeat offenders.” Media Matters


In Part II of the Dunning-Kruger effect, President George W. Bush was presented as an example of a leader who couldn’t recognize and accept his own limitations, and was thus easy to manipulate. His position as president of the United States (and his mediocre IQ) made him especially vulnerable to sophisticated Wag the Dog operations designed to portray him as the kind of competent, intelligent leader he wasn’t. The apparent strategy of his handlers was to keep him tightly scripted and out of the public eye as much as possible. To that end, George  spent 407 days out of his office during the first three years of his presidency, at either his fake ranch in Crawford, Texas, or the Bush family retreat at Kennebunkport, Maine. (Remember the fake turkey he presented to the troops in Iraq? Symbol: meet reality.) By contrast, President Barack Obama, spent some 125 days out of the office over a comparable length of time.

While work habits can tell us something about a president’s general cognitive approach to problem solving and crisis resolution, they are other data points worth considering. They include: staff choices, the ability to delegate, the degree to which they write their own speeches, and intellectual curiosity. (Hint: One of the nicknames Bush earned for himself was “Incurious George.”)
Poster Chiled for the Dunning-Kruger effect

What Me Worry?

Perhaps the most telling comparison are the two men’s respective psychological profiles. In 2004, Dr. Justin Frank wrote his classic book Bush on the Couch. I was quite intrigued by the original and look forward to reading the revised edition published in 2007, which among other things describes Bush’s “telling habits and coping strategies—from his persistent mangling of English to his tendency to ‘go blank’ in the midst of crisis.” Remember his deer-in-the-headlights look when an aide interrupted him to tell him that the World Trade center was burning while he was reading My Pet Goat to Florida school children?

I also look forward to reading Dr. Frank’s analysis of President Obama, Obama on the Couch, published in 2012, and comparing the two in a future post (or five). For now, a blurb relevant to our current discussion will have to suffice.

 “Dr. Frank argues that the President’s decisions are motivated by inner forces – in particular, he focuses on Obama’s overwhelming need to establish consensus, which can occasionally undermine his personal—and his party’s—objectives.”

In Dr. Frank’s own introduction, he notes that Obama’s passion to find common ground actually makes Tea Party types even crazier, which goes a long way towards explaining their vehement resistance to everything he proposes. What makes their fanatical opposition all the more remarkable is that it reaches its greatest intensity when it concerns an issue that they themselves supported in the past, some ten in total to this accounting at Electablog. These include: the individual mandate at the heart of both Obama Care and Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health  care plan; donor disclosure in campaign financing reform; clean energy measures; changes in Medicare to save $700 billion; creation of a deficit reduction commission; and background checks for gun purchasers. (For the latter, see also: Republicans-suddenly-turn-against-enforcing-existing-law-on-guns-because-Obama). In other word, they are incapable of taking Yes for an answer.

Obama and Dunning-Kruger: A Psychological Corollary

Being investigations into human behavior, cognitive studies are designed to be nonpartisan (maybe not always successfully so, but at least they try). A related corollary of the Dunning-Kruger findings that I believe President Obama is representative of can be found in the following observation:

The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others.

I once commented that if the young “Barry” Obama, growing up in Hawaii, had gone to a public school instead of the sheltered confines of a private school, he would have graduated a lot tougher, street smart kid. As such, he would have learned to better divine the malicious intent of others. I lived on Maui during the seventies when “Kill Haole Day” was an annual event celebrated in the public schools; when it was open-season on “heepies” like me. Hippies were perceived as weak, shiftless, nudist drug addicts who had taken over some favorite local beaches, and were thus fair game.(Imo, we were proxies for many otherwise justifiable local discontents, like the invasion of hotel industry that paid shit wages and, of course, high-end housing developers.)  I learned pretty quickly to recognize “the evil eye” and other signs of imminent danger, a cognitive skill that me daddy ironically called “native intelligence.” I can  think of a few times when a single “miscalibration” would have resulted in serious harm to my person.

During his early years in the White House, Obama was seemingly the last person to grok the fact that the Right Wing hated his guts and would do everything in their power to destroy him and his presidency, notwithstanding the obvious signs that were out there. Beginning with his inauguration, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell set out to derail Obama’s legislative agenda. This despite the  fact that the country was reeling from the economic catastrophe of the Great Recession,  a moldering shit sandwich that Bush left Obama in an Oval Office desk drawer. It took an extraordinary level of denial for Obama to have thought that the Rethugs would willingly compromise on policy differences and work for the better interests of the country; that his charm and intellectual acuity would win the day; that he could get the leopards to change their spots. It was only after the 2014 elections that he began disabusing himself of this near fatal cognitive “miscalibration.”

Really, all he had to do was pick up the phone and call “the first black president,” Bill Clinton, for an inkling of what was to come. (If the Clintons had procured  even a small royalty from the sales of books, videos, t-shirts, bumper stickers, etc., from the cottage industry that institutionalized “the politics of personal destruction,” Hillary could never have claimed that they left the White House “dead broke.” As if….)

Recently, it was reported that―horror of horrors!Obama doesn’t watch enough cable news, and therefore doesn’t understand the nation’s concerns about  terrorism. Instead of spending critical time listening  to self-promoting, bloviating talk show hosts dedicated to the failure of his presidency (consequences to the country be damned), Obama prefers to listen to the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies for information about threats to the Commonwealth. These include dangers from ISIS/Daesh/ISIL, Russian military machinations, China’s growing power and influence, the national security implications of global climate changemass killings, the growing anti-government militia movement, etc., etc.

Some, like me, would consider eschewing the manufactured reality of the cable news media-industrial-complex a feature and not a bug, but what do we know.

Another corollary:

…highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence, they may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

One of the most frequent criticisms of Obama is that he is arrogant, aloof, detached, and, clench your cheeks,  professorial. He analyzes a problem, comes to a logical conclusion, and expects every one else to do likewise, once they’ve been presented the facts. But for those with a different point of view and a different agenda, No Drama Obama is out of touch, especially with the nation’s  feelings about terrorism. And according to two time presidential candidate and loser, Mitt Romney, out of touch with reality itself.

Gun Control: Obama’s Dunning-Kruger Breakaway Moment

Terrorism aside, the issue that has finally forced Obama to transcend his “miscalibrations” about the competency of others to realize their own stupidity is, tada―gun control.  His new, tougher attitude towards the gun lobby was on full display Thursday night at a “Guns in America” town hall meeting at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, hosted by CNN. Author of Idiot America Charlie Pierce has the coverage:

“Yeah, I meant what I said,” Obama said when asked about the op-ed by moderator Anderson Cooper. “And the reason I said that is this: The majority of people in this country are a lot more sensible than what you see in Washington.” Obama singled out the National Rifle Association as one of the “loudest, shrillest voices” against gun control and told the audience “[that] the way we break the deadlock on this issue is when the NRA doesn’t have a stranglehold on Congress in this debate.” To that end, the president said, “I want to throw my shoulders behind those who want to solve problems, and not those who want to get high scores from an interest group.”

It should be noted that the NRA chickened out when CNN invited them to attend the discussion. And that a new CNN poll shows that 67% of Americans support the gun control measures Obama announced this week. Pierce broadens his field of fire by taking the media to task for their enabling role in keeping the crazy going crazy:

Moreover, he was taking no guff from Cooper on the subject of why people believe nonsense about what his real plans are. Glory hallejujah, said I. Somebody finally is taking the Third Great Premise of Idiot America—Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.—seriously enough to refute it.

This is just beautiful. The president is telling members of his own party to man up and support mild gun safety measures of which nearly the entire country approves, and he’s telling the media to stop enabling crazy people simply because their madness is so sincere.

Certainty is the mother of sincerity. As Mark Twain observed:” It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” And a corollary from A Compendium of Wise Sayings From George Costanza, also applies: “It isn’t a lie, if you believe it.” Cue music from Fleetwood Mac: “Tell  me lies, tell me sweet little lies…”

In close, we must ask: When will individual members of the NRA realize they are being used as dupes by the gun industry to jack sales? They should be less concerned about Obama taking their guns away and more concerned about the NRA and Fux News taking away what’s left of their common sense.

Case in point:

    According to a Fux News host,  Obama used a raw onion to fake tears while talking about school kids dying

Next, in Part IV of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, we look at the new film The Big Short, for an example of how incompetency at the highest levels of government and industry is not only excused, but rewarded.

The State Of Ayn Rand

 Posted by on September 10, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Sep 102012

Original artwork here.

The body politic is organismal,* and like a human body, functions best as a whole. In a living organism, each cell is connected to each other, either directly or remotely through an electrical-chemical network of nerves and tissues. This collective intelligence represents a state of “we.” When an individual cell rebels from the “we state” and enters the “me state,”  we call that the Ayn Rand state, aka cancer.

No one better embodies this phenomenon better than the current GOP, most especially the two men at the top of 2012 ticket, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, a lifelong devotee of the Ayn Rand Cult, despite his recent, opportunistic denials. Mitt is estimated to be worth a quarter billion dollars, which puts him in the top .001% of wealthy Americans; while Ryan’s estimated net worth is $4.5 million, putting him in the top 5% (not bad for a man who’s entire professional career has been in the public sector.)

Notwithstanding that their personal wealth very much depended on the infrastructure provided by the commonwealth (including favorable tax laws), and notwithstanding that $10 trillion of the country’s $16 trillion debt was accrued during Republican administrations, R&R now want to reduce the debt through draconian budget cuts totaling some $5 trillion that would fall disproportionately on the middle class and the poor. Gee, that wouldn’t even cover the $6.8 trillion in expenditures that Ryan voted for before he voted against them.

In other words, they got theirs and the rest of us can just go fuck ourselves. What is it about the US Constitution’s preamble “We the people” and “promote the general Welfare” that these social Darwinists don’t comprehend?

The problem for their “solution” to reducing the debt and growing the economy can be summed up in one word, as Bill Clinton explained at the DNC convention: Arithmetic.

“The combination of stuff they’ve specified is not only impossible — it is impossible several times over,” said William G. Gale, the director of economic studies for the center-left Brookings Institution and a co-author of a definitive Tax Policy Center study on Mr. Romney’s plan, whose arithmetic the Obama campaign is citing.

In other words, you could close every tax loophole in sight, which collectively amounts to some $1 trillion, and still be $4 trillion short. So whose ox gets gored?

“Although Romney has not specified the tax expenditures he would eliminate, the ones that are most likely on the chopping block include: the mortgage interest deduction, charitable giving deduction, medical expense deduction, state and local tax deduction, child and childcare tax credits, education tax credits, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), exempting employer health insurance from being taxed as income, and the partial exemption of Social Security benefits.”


“These are extremely popular tax breaks, not just for the taxpayers who benefit directly from lower tax bills, but also from other parties who benefit indirectly such as charities and their constituents, or the home building industry,” according to the TPC study.”

Yesterday, on Meet The Press, Romney made a big show of telling David Gregory that, in all fairness, the rich are going to have some of their tax loopholes eliminated. You’d think that Gregory would have pointed out that, at the same time, they’d have their marginal rates reduced, resulting in a huge net tax cut, with the rest of us picking up the tab , about $2,000 per family:

But a recent analysis by the independent Tax Policy Center found that Romney’s plan would actually result in higher taxes for individuals and families earning less than $200,000 and $250,000 a year, respectively. At the same time, Romney’s tax plan would reduce the amount of taxes paid by high-income households, particularly those reporting earnings exceeding $1 million a year.

Even worse, Ryan’s tax plan would lower Romney marginal tax rate to less than 1%.

The Romney campaign’s greatest weakness, it’s lack of detail, is also it’s greatest strength, at least as it concerns undecided, low information voters. Up until now, the Rethugs have been able to count on the MSM to do what it does best: ignore fact checking Republican claims and confronting their lies.

Here’s hoping that worm has turned.


*From The Urantia Book:

Physical life is a process taking place not so much within the organism as between the organism and the environment. And every such process tends to create and establish organismal patterns of reaction to such an environment. And all such directive patterns are highly influential in goal choosing…

There is original endowment of adaptation in living things and beings. In every living plant or animal cell, in every living organism—material or spiritual—there is an insatiable craving for the attainment of ever-increasing perfection of environmental adjustment, organismal adaptation, and augmented life realization. These interminable efforts of all living things evidence the existence within them of an innate striving for perfection.

Open Wide, America…

 Posted by on September 6, 2012 at 6:06 AM
Sep 062012


So it’s like this.

The Greedy Obstructionist Party has nominated a “presidential candidate” who arrogantly refuses to release his taxes to the American people, and thus he foists himself on the very people he supposedly wants to serve.  It’s an unprecedented affront to the integrity and intelligence of the American electorate.

Or is it.

Week after week now, roughly half of the people polled in our electorate claim they will actually vote for a man who refuses to respect the honorable tradition of our presidential candidates to reveal their taxes to their fellow countrymen and women— a  tradition started by his own father.  Ann Romney infamously stated that it would just be giving more “ammunition” to the opposition to attack them;  She added, “All you people” already have enough information.

And she’s absolutely right.  They know they’re damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.   Assuming Romney never releases his taxes, ignoring such a basic qualifying bar for the highest office in our land, most sensible Americans would go to polls and bury him in his own hubris.  And if the Romneys were to disclose the real extent to which they store their ill-gotten corporate-raider wealth in other countries famous for their “legal” tax-sheltering devices, the American people would be obligated to go to the polls and punish them for it.  But such a principled outcome is far from guaranteed in today’s American electorate.

Although the several despicable Republican sponsored “voter I D” bills are utterly abhorrent to the lovers of democracy, they pale in comparison with another, more insidious and potentially disastrous downside to our nation’s sloppy and haphazard franchise— one which places the precious right of suffrage into the hands of an increasingly enormous number of ignorant, uneducated, socially backward and completely propagandized “citizens.”  You know them as as wingnuts, teabaggers, Birchers, RWNJs, and racists; and you know them as predominantly Republicans.

Representative government presupposes an intelligent, efficient, and universal electorate.  The character of such a government will always be determined by the character and caliber of those who compose it.  In fact, the very survival of our democracy depends on successful representative government; and that success is conditioned upon electing only those individuals who are technically trained, intellectually competent, socially loyal, and morally fit.  Does that sound like the rank and file of today’s Republican party, and their gaggle of fractious, obstructionist, scientifically backward, and sometimes overtly racist elected members?

It’s late in the game of 2012, now.  Our only hope, as Bill Clinton says, is “arithmetic.”  The number of voters who have this nation’s best interests in mind, the number of voters who simply demand to first know that a presidential candidate is at least financially and thus morally fit to be our president— must far outnumber those who do not— and send Willard Romney to the political trash heap of history.

Rope & Change: The Birth Of A Nation

 Posted by on August 30, 2012 at 9:40 AM
Aug 302012

Rope and Change

This blatantly racist image, found here, reinvigorates for another generation the most potent and enduring symbol of American racism: The lynched Black Man.

Faced with a failing campaign to make the election a referendum on President Obama‘s handling of the economy (without bothering to offering any concrete policies of his own), the Romney Brain Trust has switched to an attack oriented strategy designed to keep the animal spirits of the Republican base base Republicans aroused.

The He’s a nice guy but he’s in over his head theme has been, to use Romnian phraseology, “retroactively retired.” Here’s how The New York times described the shift last Saturday:

TAMPA, Fla. — Mitt Romney is heading into his nominating convention with his advisers convinced he needs a more combative footing against President Obama in order to appeal to white, working-class voters and to persuade them that he is the best answer to their economic frustrations.

Romney himself initiated the new strategy by tipping his toe into the birther cesspool that same day, making a ‘little joke’ about his own birth certificate:

“No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that I was born and raised.”

You could almost hear The Trumpster guffawing in delight as he vigorously patted himself on the back, accepting Romney’s implicit acknowledgment that he was right all along to keep the Birther issue percolating.

Much has been said about the overt and covert appeals to racism that the Rethugs have resorted to, now and in past campaigns. One need only go back as far as Ronald Reagan’s campaign in 1976, with his Cadillac driving “welfare queen” from Chicago’s South Side— read black woman— to see the pattern. In 1988, Poppy Bush played the black rapist/brute stereotype card against Michael Dukakis in the infamous Willie Horton ad. During the 2000 GOP primary, Karl Rove launched a whisper campaign against John McCain alleging that he had fathered a black child out of wedlock.  And in the current campaign, a right wing billionaire’s plan to spend $10 million smearing President Obama over his pastoral relationship with the  Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was ditched at the last moment when The New York Times blew the whistle.

One expects occasional  displays of overt racism from rank and file Republicans, such as was reported by David Shuster from the GOP national convention in Tampa Tuesday where  “two attendees…were ejected after throwing nuts at a black CNN camerawoman and saying, “This is how we feed the animals.” But to see it infecting the very top echelons of the party, especially during presidential campaigns, is all the more disturbing.

Speaking of the GOP convention, it really should come as no surprise that its entire theme is built on a tripod of lies. The first is the “We Built THAT” canard, based on a single Obama utterance twisted out of all context in which the referent  “that” clearly applied to the subject in his previous sentence, i.e. the role government plays in providing the crucial infrastructure that makes private enterprise possible— roads, bridges, electrical power transmission, sewers, airports, police and fire protection, the internet, etc., etc. , and not to small business in general. Need we point out the irony that it was government that provided some $139 million to build the very convention center housing the present GOPer convention? Don’t expect any acknowledgment of that rather inconvenient truth.

The second lie concerns Paul Ryan‘s mercurial plans for Medicare, which initially called for privatizing it, and then for “saving”it through an ill-defined voucher/coupon scheme. If the Rovians can succeed in portraying Ryan and the Republicans as the saviors of Medicare when they have historically been its most vociferous foes then we will have surely fallen into an Orwellian universe where up is down and war is peace.

But it is the third lie that concerns us here: the proven lie that Obama is gutting the Clinton era welfare to work program.  As the Rovian narrative goes, all those lazy, shiftless unemployed, disabled, and disadvantaged individuals and families owe their unworthy existence to the safety net of government assistance programs. In the social Darwinist world of Ryan/Randian economics, we need no longer endure these demon spawn of Reagan’s universally despised black welfare queen. For them, it’s sink or swim. After all, why should hard working middle class taxpayers be forced to foot the bill for the greatest inequity in societal wealth since the last Gilded Age? Meanwhile, their uber rich political compatriots are living large off their tax free foreign accounts, at a level that would make the Robber Barons of yesteryear blush.

The GOP propaganda meisters are well aware that cultivating a sense of resentment and victimhood among the working class is much easier to accomplish during the kind of hard economic times that prevail today (brought to you courtesy of the previous Republican dominated government that took a Clinton government surplus and turned it into a crushing trillion dollar deficit). The fact that blue collar white men are an essential GOP constituency explains their dogged determination to press the work to welfare lie, despite it being debunked by every neutral fact checker out there, including the Republican co-author [Ron Haskins] of the original bill.

Other current racist stereotypes include the characterization of Obama as “exotic” and “foreign,” an “anti-colonialist” obsessed with importing and imposing “European style socialism” on independent, freedom loving Americans. Obama’s nefarious goal?  To secure even more dole dependent minority voters who can be expected to vote uncritically for the Democratic Party.

Then there’s The Angry Black Man stereotype, enshrined in the title of right winger Dinsesh D’Souza‘s 2010 book, The Roots of Obama’s Rage.  Perhaps the most twisted slur of all is the charge that Obama is the real racist, a meme begun by Glenn Beck who characterized him as “a guy who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.

All of which reminds me of the most prominent, racist film in movie history, D.W. Griffith‘s blockbuster 1915 silent film, The Birth of A Nation, hailed by many movie critics as the greatest film of all time. (To be fair, Griffith spent the rest of life apologizing for and trying to atone for  his naive racism after it was brought to his attention.)  One can find the roots of many contemporary GOP racist propaganda ploys in this meticulously crafted paen to American exceptionalism, which among other things, casts the Klu Klux Klan as the saviors of American virtue.

The Birth Of A Nation

Reminiscent of Obama’s mixed racial heritage, one of the film’s antagonists is an ambitious half-white, half-black politician by the name of  Silas Lynch. Scenes with contemporary resonance include those that embody social issues like mixed-race marriages; and political issues like voter suppression, but with a twist: Continue reading »

CPAC 2012 Clown Show

 Posted by on February 11, 2012 at 7:31 PM
Feb 112012

Occupy CPAC featured a Fat Cat Rethug Strangling Working Man balloon

The bat (shit crazy) signal shone brightly over D.C. this weekend, drawing an A-List of wingnuts to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convention like moths to a flame. Our past coverage of the Wingnut Woodstock can be found here , here, here, here, and here.

Last year, Coultergeist told the CPAC audience that if they didn’t run Chris Christie, Mittens would be the nominee and Obama would win. Ah, what a difference a year, and a lousy field of contenders, makes.  This year, she ate a ton of roadkill as she announced she is now backing Mittens. But she just couldn’t help herself, stepping on her endorsement by then telling filthy jokes about Bill Clinton ejaculating all over the Constitution. Classy as always, Anne.

Coultergeist bemoaning a Romney nomination at CPAC last year

This year featured the usual suspects, including the leading Three Stooges thus far in the GOP delegate count: Willard Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum. The other contender, Ron  Paul, despite winning the previous two CPAC straw polls, didn’t attend, choosing to campaign in Maine instead, perhaps because this year the method of the voting was changed to an all electronic voting scheme, removing his major advantage– warm bodies and paper ballots.  It seems to have worked, as Romney won this year’s poll.

The Frothy One

Holding up one of the Rethugs’ favorite straw man and shaking it vigorously before the crowd, Santorum promised:

“We will no longer abandon and apologize for the policies and principles that made this country great for a hollow victory in November.”

Excuse me, but when have conservatives ever apologized for anything? It simply isn’t in their nature. (There is good neurological evidence for this, but that ‘s fodder for another day.)

Foster Fries, the 3/4 billionaire who until this week had almost single-handedly kept Santorum’s campaign alive through donations to his Super Pac, introduced Santorum. But first he told a pretty good joke:

“A conservative, a moderate, and a liberal walk into a bar. The bartender says “Howdy, Mitt.”

I see a devastating Dem commercial in the making, should Romney be the GOPer nominee.


Mittens continued his brown nosing attempts to convince the wingers that he is really one of them, using the word “conservative” 26 times.  At one point he went so far as to say:

“But I was a severely Republican conservative governor.”

Whatever that means. Apparently, Willard still hasn’t grokked the archival function of video tape. In the clip below,  he tells a Massachusetts audience in 2002:

“My views are moderate and progressive.”

Romney calls himself a liberal and progressive

Mittens also squeaked  out a tentative win in the unofficial Maine caucus Saturday. But it wasn’t all good news for the GOPer Ken Doll. A new PPP poll shows Santorum now leading Romney nationally by 15 points (Gingrich by 21, Paul by 25).

The Newtster

Gingrich added fuel to the fire of the growing Rethug meme:  Obama is waging  a war against religion. (What else would you expect from a secret Muslim with a Kenyan, anti-colonial world view?)   Referring to the Administration’s new and subsequently revised mandate that insurance companies, not religious institutions, cover women’s reproductive services (a preventative regime that is cheaper in the long run), Gingrich boldly declared:

“I’ll repeal Obama’s act of religious bigotry!”

Maybe someone should point out to Gingrich and his fellow clowns that, as Sam Stein wrote:

“…roughly 14 percent of all birth control prescriptions are written for reasons other than contraception, including ovarian cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, and endometrial cancer.”

It should go without saying that preventing unwanted births is the best single way to cut down on abortions, supposedly the holy grail of conservative social activism.  But grokking that obvious fact seems to be  just too much cognitive dissonance for “the party of life” to resolve.


Outside the convention, the Occupy folks made their presence known. Conservative flogger Andrew Breitbart just couldn’t help himself, taking his flaming id to the streets long enough to  yell maniacally at the occupiers:

“You are freaks and animals….Filthy, filthy freaks!”

Andrew Bretibart proves once again what a classless dick he is

During his turn at the podium, Breitbart said: “Newt was a proxy,” and described Gingrich as “damaged goods” because of the commercial he shot with Nancy Pelosi promoting cap and trade legislation to deal with climate change, a point we made a year ago in The Newtie and Nancy Show.

Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi aglow in the spirit of bipartianship

The convention ended with a frenzied oration by none other than the half-baked Alaskan governor and failed vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. TPM describes the euphoria thusly:

Amid wild cheers as she took the stage, audience members joined to serenade her with a cacophonous “Happy Birthday” for her 48th that day. She proceeded with a culture war jeremiad reminiscent of her 2008 convention speech that slammed elites, liberals, and especially the city in which she delivered her speech, Washington, DC…

“This is the playground of for the government rich,” she said.”They are hoping you work really hard to keep it going.”

Even for a party that’s made anti-Washington sentiment its number one talking point, It was an especially provocative passage given that two of the current GOP presidential frontrunners, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, have had post-Congress careers working for special interests in Washington.


Sarah Baracuda bares her teeth to the delight of the CPAC crowd

While conservative icon Ronald Reagan received his usual adulation, one has to wonder whether if he were running for reelection today, he would even have made it past the Iowa straw poll.  A Republican president who raised  taxes 11 times, gave amnesty to 3 million aliens, cut and run from Beirut after 241 American servicemen were killed by a suicide bomber, and negotiated an arms reduction treaty with The Evil Empire would more likely be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail than nominated by a party taken hostage by its extremist wing.

The most extreme of the Freshman Teabagger Congressmen, Rep. Allan West (Rethug-Fla,) probably summed up the philosophy of the CPAC crowd best when he proclaimed:

“We also realize that the public good is a misnomer, created by our liberal friends. It is not the public good that matters, it is the personal good.”

There you have it, the moral theme of the 2012 election: The Party of Me versus The Party of We.

To quote the great Dr. King:

We shall overcome…some day.

Meth Lab In The Basement

 Posted by on November 7, 2011 at 4:11 PM
Nov 072011

Wall St Meth LabThe Wall Street Banksters are looking forward to a sequel…

The reasons for The Great Financial Collapse of 2008 are well documented. There are over two dozen books in print (see partial list below), not to mention a raft of scholarly journal entries, print media articles, and an unending stream of web posts identifying greed, deregulation, and lax enforcement as the main culprits.

Nonetheless, it appears that the Rethugs’s 2012 election strategy is to push the narrative that it was government over-regulation that was responsible for our current economic malaise.  Salvation, in their through-line, lies in rolling back what little protections remain.

The villain in the piece:  the relatively weak Dodd-Frank Bill, which can only be vanquished if the Rethugs succeed in grabbing both houses of Congress and the White house.  Since they already control what is supposed to be the check and balance on the legislative and executive branches, the US Supreme Court, this equates to a complete governmental takeover.  So much for a balance of powers.

At the center of the Rehtug narrative is The Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which was designed to address inequalities resulting from the red lining of economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.  Somehow, the desire to level the playing field and bring the dream of home ownership to a larger segment of hard working and otherwise qualified Americans forced the poor beleaguered Wall Street Banksters to make toxic, subprime loans that later blew up in everybody’s faces.

Not surprisingly, this confuses catalyst with causality. It’s like blaming the cigarette for a fire that destroys a house of rotten timbers and a meth lab in the basement.

The Wall Street meth factory has traditionally made its greatest profits from bubbles they help create.  After two decades of accelerated deregulation under Clinton and the Bushes, the table was set for the biggest fattened calf of them all— real estate.  (The prior bubble was of course the dot.com craze that went nova in 2000.  And if the Rethugs regain power,  the next big pile of equity they’ll  try to plunder is the $2.6 trillion in US Treasuries sitting in the Social Security account. )

Coupled with a host of lucrative, unregulated derivative instruments like credit default swaps that could ONLY be applied to riskier loans (e.g., negatively amortized POARMs and hybrid adjustables designed to become so expensive that they would have to be replaced with even more lucrative fee generating loans); leveraged up to 30x to 40x the actual amount of the banksters’ own speculative cash;  excessive amounts of executive compensation, aided by off-budget accounting gimmicks that hid their companies actual liabilities;  the Bush Administration’s handcuffing of the SEC, which could have otherwise constrained the private ratings agencies from rubber stamping subprime securities as Triple A—  all were toxic ingredients of the strange brew that blew down the walls and the roof off the world’s economic house.

The argument that it was unqualified first time home buyers signing on to subprime loans that tanked the market ignores the fact that the majority of those loans— between 55 and 61%— were sold to existing home owners either wanting to move up the ladder, or to individuals re-financing their existing loans.
(The latter was responsible for driving a consumption based economy that is no longer possible, guaranteeing high levels of unemployment and an anemic GDP no matter who occupies the White House in 2013.)

As the WSJ reported at the time:

An analysis for The Wall Street Journal of more than $2.5 trillion in subprime loans made since 2000 shows that as the number of subprime loans mushroomed, an increasing proportion of them went to people with credit scores high enough to often qualify for conventional loans with far better terms.

In 2005, the peak year of the subprime boom, the study says that borrowers with such credit scores got more than half— 55%— of all subprime mortgages that were ultimately packaged into securities for sale to investors, as most subprime loans are. The study by First American Loan Performance, a San Francisco research firm, says the proportion rose even higher by the end of 2006, to 61%.

The figure was just 41% in 2000, according to the study. Even a significant number of borrowers with top-notch credit signed up for expensive subprime loans, the firm’s analysis found… The surprisingly high number of subprime loans among more credit-worthy borrowers shows how far such mortgages have spread into the economy— including middle-class and wealthy communities where they once were scarce.

They also affirm that thousands of borrowers took out loans— perhaps foolishly— with little or no documentation, or no down payment, or without the income to qualify for a conventional loan of the size they wanted.

The analysis also raises pointed questions about the practices of major mortgage lenders. Many borrowers whose credit scores might have qualified them for more conventional loans say they were pushed into risky subprime loans. They say lenders or brokers aggressively marketed the loans, offering easier and faster approvals— and playing down or hiding the onerous price paid over the long haul in higher interest rates or stricter repayment terms.

The motivation for steering unwary home buyers and home owners into these kind of loans is obvious:  higher fees for the mortgage originators and a lucrative derivatives market that could only exist if there was a big pool of loans to bet on.  Wall Street created the world’s largest gambling casino using peoples investment in their biggest asset, their homes, as their betting chips.  Now we’re all the poorer for it.

So, while governmental policies designed to eliminate decades of discriminatory red lining may have played a part in The Crash, refusing to account for all the other components not only obfuscates how we got here, but makes possible a future crash that could make this one look like small potatoes.

To this forty year reader of The Urantia Papers, all this is just so much warmed-over, laissez-faire, Luciferian libertarianism.  License disguised in the habiliments of liberty.  Self-assertion and the needs of the one superseding the needs and rights of the many. Social Darwinism versus social justice.

Well, fuck’em.  I’ve cast my lot with the overarching universe ethic—  the greatest good for the greatest number, which, on a personal, moral level, translates into the golden rule.  I’m willing to turn the other cheek if it means helping an errant brother see the light.  But eventually you run out of cheeks.  Free will is what it is.  There is, God be praised, an end point to iniquity.  As The Urantia Papers put it:

The Memory of Mercy must show that the saving credit established by the Sons of God has been fully and faithfully paid out in the loving ministry of the patient personalities of the Third Source and Center. But when mercy is exhausted, when the “memory” thereof testifies to its depletion, then does justice prevail and righteousness decree. For mercy is not to be thrust upon those who despise it;  mercy is not a gift to be trampled under foot by the persistent rebels of time…

Now, back to the future.


 Books about the 2008 Crash

Robert Scheer’s The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.

Matt Taibbi‘s  A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History”.

Nomi Prins‘  Other People’s Money: The Corporate Mugging of America.

And her “It Takes a Pillage: An Epic Tale of Power, Deceit, and Untold Trillions.

Michael W. Hudson‘s The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America—and Spawned a Global Crisis

George Soros The Crash of 2008 and What it Means: The New Paradigm for Financial Markets .

Andrew Sorkin’“Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves.

Kevin PhillipsBad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism.

And leading up to the Crash,

William Black‘s The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry.