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.

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*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
 

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.

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.

Willard

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.

OWS

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.

Heh.

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
 

The 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’s“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.

 

Birther Barf & Obama Derangement Syndrome

 Posted by on April 29, 2011 at 9:00 AM
Apr 292011
 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Goldie Taylor exposing the racism at the core of Trumper Birtherism on the Rachel Maddow Show*

[* Excuse the fracking fracking commercial.  I don't have to wonder how Rachel feels about being sponsored by Exxon.]

As should be apparent to anyone with half a brain, the whole Birther bs is code for: President Obama is illegitimate.

By which Birthers mean either he’s black;  he’s a liberal;  or he’s not the guy I voted for. Or more likely, a combination of all three.

For Category One, see Goldie Taylor above.

For Category Two, see President  Bill Clinton.

Clinton was considered a liberal by most voters (at least until he deregulated Wall Street, signed two ruinous trade agreements, and “ended welfare as we know it.” ) Like Obama, he faced attacks on his legitimacy from the first day he took office. Special prosecutor Ken Starr spent some $70 million of taxpayer money investigating Whitewater, Trooper Gate, Travel Gate, Mena drug smuggling, Hilary’s law firm’s billing practices, her commodity trades, Vince Foster‘s “murder” etc, etc. None of which panned out. (The only thing Clinton got nailed on was lying about a BJ from Monica Lewinsky, a late addition to Starr’s portfolio, as I recall.)

For  Category Three, see Denialist, defined in Caligastia’s Dictionary (with apologies to William Ambrose Bierce ) as:

Denialist, n.  A true believer in the value of democracy until  his or her favorite candidate loses.

Denialists swear that Obama could not have been elected without  a massive voter fraud engineered by George Soros and Acorn, enforced by a couple of creepy looking second generation Black Panther wannabes. [source:  Fux News]

The ferocity of the campaign against Obama, however, suggests that all three are but different adumbrations of a single gestalt; what Political Psychiatrists term Obama Derangement Syndrome. [DSM Vol X: Teh Crazy Appendix].  While the attacks against Clinton were largely conducted through the legal system, Obama’s squeaky clean background requires a different, more sophisticated propaganda strategy to undermine his credibility.

In today’s all-encompassing multi-mass-media environment, a successful propaganda campaign needs but a thin thread of facts around which to weave a false narrative. The more facts the better, of course, but they are secondary to the overarching  purpose– keeping a target audience in an agitated emotional state.

Emotions are far easier to manipulate than thoughts. And when one emotionally compelling narrative starts to unravel under the slow but ultimately dispositive light of truth (Mark Twain once observed that a lie can travel around the world before the truth can get its shoes on), it is a relatively simple matter to keep the lizard brain engaged by replacing it with another emotionally charged narrative. Note, however, that political pornography, like its sexual counterpart, require an ever increasing levels of stimulation to maintain its desired effect .

After smoldering in the back wood swamps of wingerworld for the last thirty months, Bitherim has suddenly blazed into a major media conflagration, dominating one news cycle after another. Obama finally had enough and Tuesday produced that most holy of Birther writs*, the long form version of his birth certificate. (Winger speculation is that it was timed to hurt the sales of Swift Boat architect James Corsi‘s new book “Where’s the Birth Certificate?” scheduled for release May 17.  Heh. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice…) On cue, the Rovians chambered another round, rushing to implement the next installment in the GODC (the Great Obama Delegitimization Campaign)– ‘Harvard Gate‘, trumpeted by the Trump Chump the very same day.

Speaking of whom, I was hoping that Obama would hold out releasing his birth certificate until Chumpie released his tax returns; or at least until he showed us his hairline. Happily, Jon Stewart has that latter angle ‘covered. See below. And I second his whispered emotion: “I pray this man runs for president.” I’d pay good money to see Trump debate Obama, or to watch his phantom private investigators get into a  bar fight with O.J. Simpson‘s PI’s on the Alternate Reality Channel.

Jon Stewart unveils the Trump Egometer, its highest setting being Chumpie’s image on a piece of toast

 

*POSTSCRIPT:  Birther industry profiteers like Alex Jones are keeping hope (and site traffic) alive by screaming from the rooftops that the Certificate released by Obama is a ‘chopped fake.  Here’s an alternative explanation from the web site of that noted commie-librul-Obama apologist rag,  National Review.

The Reagan-Palin Hybrid

 Posted by on February 10, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Feb 102011
 

Updating the ancient Greek myth of the Chimera

The New York Times weighs in on presidential wannabe Sarah Palin‘s commemoration of what would have been the 100th birthday of conservative icon, Ronald Reagan:

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Sarah Palin opened a weekend centennial celebration to Ronald Reagan by declaring that the United States was lurching toward a “road to ruin,” a nation so beleaguered by debt and out-of-control government spending that an urgent change in direction was needed in Washington….

Except she forgot to mention that if deficits and government spending is a runaway train, then it was her beloved Ronnie Boy who was the engineer that drove the train off the rails through a combination of tax cuts, dramatic increases in defense spending, and foreign policy blunders.

…Ms. Palin entered the room only for her speech and left immediately after.

As Cenk Uygur would say: Of course… The last thing her handlers wanted was for her to engage in an unscripted dialog with people who know that Africa isn’t a country, and who know what newspapers and magazines they read. This wasn’t a Fux News television studio she was performing in.

But back to Saint Ronnie’s vaunted legacy that today’s Teabaggers are so eager to identify themselves with.  Mark Sumner over at The Big Orange asks us to remember the Real Ronald Reagan:

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of our 40th president amid glowing plaudits, folksy reminiscence, and an abundance of praise, it’s important to remember one thing: the election of Ronald Reagan is the central and enduring tragedy of our age…

The general acceptance of the ideas behind Reagan, and the movement of those ideas from the radical fringe into the mainstream of American politics, has shaped a world in which fantasies are accepted as givens; a world in which positions that are not only unproved, but disproved, are seen as foundations to build on. These ideas have destabilized our economy, accelerated the destruction of our environment, and set back the advancement of human rights. They, and the man who delivered them into our living rooms, are now so coated in mythology and media adoration that we accept them not just as American, but as America, despite the fact that these ideas – the conservative daydream — represent the single greatest threat to the continued progress of our nation and our world.

The primary message that the “Great Communicator” spread in soothing tones and often high-minded words borrowed from the Puritans, was that the enemy of the middle class was not the wealthy, but the poor….

Like that mythical Cadillac driving Welfare Queen who…

… has eighty names, thirty addresses, twelve Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names. Her tax-free cash income is over $150,000.

Reagan’s welfare queen also featured one more important number: she was 99.9% imaginary. However, Reagan managed to sell this ugly fantasy not as a description of an individual criminal, but as a condemnation of a class of people. The conservative class warfare that Bill Buckley and the boys had nodded about in the steam rooms of exclusive clubs, became the accepted wisdom in the taprooms of Peoria. What was holding back the middle class was not executives and speculators pocketing millions, it was poor mothers getting a few hundred a year in food assistance. Americans became convinced – and still are convinced – that some vast pool of “urban poor” was draining the wealth of the nation.

ThinkProgress.org has compiled a top ten list of the greatest of the Reagan Myths, introducing it as follows:

But Reagan was not the man conservatives claim he was. This image of Reagan as a conservative superhero is myth, created to unite the various factions of the right behind a common leader. In reality, Reagan was no conservative ideologue or flawless commander-in-chief. Reagan regularly strayed from conservative dogma — he raised taxes eleven times as president while tripling the deficit — and he often ended up on the wrong side of history, like when he vetoed an Anti-Apartheid bill.

1. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. As governor of California, Reagan “signed into law the largest tax increase in the history of any state up till then.” Meanwhile, state spending nearly doubled. As president, Reagan “raised taxes in seven of his eight years in office,” including four times in just two years….

2. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. During the Reagan years, the debt increased to nearly $3 trillion, “roughly three times as much as the first 80 years of the century had done altogether.”… Reagan enacted a major tax cut his first year in office and government revenue dropped off precipitously. Despite the conservative myth that tax cuts somehow increase revenue, the government went deeper into debt and Reagan had to raise taxes just a year after he enacted his tax cut. Despite ten more tax hikes on everything from gasoline to corporate income, Reagan was never able to get the deficit under control.

3. Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Unemployment jumped to 10.8 percent after Reagan enacted his much-touted tax cut, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level. Meanwhile, income inequality exploded…

4. Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously… He promised to cut government agencies like the Department of Energy and Education but ended up adding one of the largest — the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which today has a budget of nearly $90 billion and close to 300,000 employees. He also hiked defense spending by over $100 billion a year to a level not seen since the height of the Vietnam war.

5. Reagan did little to fight for a woman’s right to choose

6. Reagan was a “bellicose peacenik.” He wrote in his memoirs that “[m]y dream…became a world free of nuclear weapons.” “This vision stemmed from the president’s belief that the biblical account of Armageddon prophesied nuclear war — and that apocalypse could be averted if everyone, especially the Soviets, eliminated nuclear weapons,” the Washington Monthly noted…

7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants

8. Reagan illegally funneled weapons to Iran

9. Reagan vetoed a comprehensive anti-Apartheid act. which placed sanctions on South Africa and cut off all American trade with the country. Reagan’s veto was overridden by the Republican-controlled Senate…

10. Reagan helped create the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden

I would include another one: Reagan cut and ran from Lebanon after the greatest act of post-WW2 terrorism ever visited on the American people– the suicide bombing by Hizbollah of the Marine barracks at the Beirut Airport that killed 241 Marines.

Methinks that if Reagan were alive today and wanted to run for president, he wouldn’t make it past the first batch of Republican primaries. The Teabaggers would eat him alive with a record like that, if only they could distinguish myth from reality…

Back to the hypocrisy of Sister Sarah. Palin recently canceled a speech to The Sharon K Pacheco Foundation, a non-profit group from Colorado dedicated to raising money for military families adversely affected by the wars Mama Grizzly so fearlessly supports. As she explained on her Facebook page:

“Due to an onslaught of personal attacks against Governor Palin and others associated with her appearance, it is with deep sadness and disappointment that, in the best interest of all, we cancel the event for safety concerns.”

But as Digby notes:

The announcement also states that no direct threats had been made against anyone, but said that the “increase in negative rhetoric against the former Alaska governor” after the Tucson shooting “raises concern for her safety and the safety of others despite the call for civility in America.”

The Post points out that May 2 is also the date of a NBC/Politico 2012 Republican presidential candidates debate, to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

What better way to obscure her crass opportunism and hypocrisy than by playing the patented Poor Sarah victim card?

Reagan was my governor for eight years, my president for another eight.  He did more than any single person to set this country on its present course of self-destruction.  The two Bushes certainly played their parts, as did Clinton‘s sell-out to Wall Street.  Should Sarah Palin becomes president of the United States, I will interpret that as judgment from The Most Highs that the great US experiment in representational democracy has failed. Miserably.

When Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government the Founders had hammered out in Philadelphia in 1787, he replied:

“A republic, if you can keep it.”

I’m not feeling so good about that “if” right now.  The plutocrats are winning, bolstered by the consequences of The Supremes’  Citizens United ruling, a malignant virus that has only just begun to infect our body politic.  Teabaggers continue to mistake the disease for the cure, a triumph of the modern Reich Wing propaganda machine that has brought to fruition the ancient prescription of those who habitually seek unjust power over their fellows:

First they sell you the disease, then they sell you the cure.