Posts Tagged Ronald Reagan
Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » ‘Group of Eight’ Plots to Undermine Americans on Immigration
Here we go again. When the 113th Congress convenes in January, legislators are determined to waste valuable time and energy in yet another futile effort to pass what they refer to as comprehensive immigration reform. Most Americans call it amnesty.
A so called “group of eight” has met to discuss amnesty details. They are Democrats Chuck Schumer (NY), Dick Durbin (IL), Michael Bennet (CO), Bob Menendez (NJ) and Republicans John McCain (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Mike Lee (UT) and Sen.-elect Jeff Flake (AZ). The Democrats are among Congress’ most liberal while the Republicans are notoriously aligned with the illegal alien lobby.
Speaking of the Hispanic lobby, it has been its usual vocal self post-election. Janet Murgia, National Council of La Raza president, said that when Hispanic voters went to the polls in November, they had immigration reform “in their hearts.” Other officials who represent like-minded groups promised massive pro-amnesty demonstrations and threatened to withhold future votes from congressional representatives who don’t play ball.
During the last decade, offended Americans have been subjected the same bullying dozens of times but to no avail. Alien demonstrations have been staged without success in Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington. Ethnic identity Capitol Hill organizations’ saber rattling, of which more is on the way, has netted them nothing.
In addition to American grassroots resistance, Murgia et al have a major problem to overcome. Pollsters learned that Romney would not have won even had he garnered historic levels of Hispanic voter support. In key swing states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida if 80 percent or more of the Latino vote had gone to Romney, it still wouldn’t have been enough to put him over the top.
Two things are clear. First, on immigration Republicans can’t move to the left of Democrats. Republican efforts to out- pander Democrats are doomed. Not only is it impossible but in the process, the Republican base is turned off. Graham, up for re-election in 2014 and trailing in the polls, will wake up to this once January rolls around.
Second, amnesty doesn’t resolve the immigration problem. Since the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which President Ronald Reagan promised would be the last amnesty, six more have passed. They include three in three separate years for aliens who qualified under Section 245 (i), two for refugees, one each for Haitians and Nicaraguans, and in 2000 one late amnesty for those who for various reasons resided in the U.S. in 1986 but didn’t apply for IRCA. Section 245 (i) allowed some aliens to adjust their status after paying a $1,000 fine.
Although many critics claim that long term immigration solutions must include amnesty, the reverse is true. The most effective tool to combat illegal immigration is mandatory E-Verify, which would guarantee that only Americans or legal immigrants get and keep jobs. Congress had an opportunity earlier this year to pass the Legal Workforce Act. After the House Judiciary Committee passed it, Speaker John Boehner kept it from getting to the floor for a full vote.
As for 2013, the probable scenario is that the Senate will narrowly approve a liberal, all encompassing amnesty that the House will kill. Nothing on Capitol Hill is more toxic than immigration. In the end, all the bluster inevitably leads nowhere.
- Obama’s Illegal Amnesty Continues (nationalreview.com)
- Threats undergird Hispanic demands, pressure on politicians (seeingredaz.wordpress.com)
- Immigration reform should boost all (politico.com)
- Rubio endorses pathway to citizenship (wnd.com)
- The Amnesty Delusion (nationalreview.com)
- Viewpoints: Immigration reform: The California lesson (sacbee.com)
- Republicans need to shut up and listen (jsonline.com)
- Robinson: Democrats need a smarter GOP (wickedlocal.com)
- Insights on Immigration: Is reform coming? (utsandiego.com)
- COLUMN – Is immigration reform compromise already dead? (hollandsentinel.com)
Increasing the Number of Republicans in Congress Means Billions More for the 1 Percent, Study Shows | Alternet
Increasing the Number of Republicans in Congress Means Billions More for the 1 Percent, Study Shows
There’s a direct correlation between the composition of Congress and the richest Americans’ share of pre-tax income.
October 16, 2012
L-R: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Speaker of the House John Boehner arrive at a remembrance ceremony for the victims of the attacks of September 11 at the US Capitol.
During the period between 1949 and 2008, a 1 percent increase in congressional seats held by Republicans (about five seats), has resulted in the top 1 percent of American households seeing their share of the nation’s income go up by about four-fifths of a percent, regardless of which party occupied the White House. That translates into about $6.6 billion in 2008 dollars being redistributed upward to those at the top.
That’s according to a new study co-authored by Thomas Volscho, a sociologist at the City University of New York, and Nathan Kelly, a political scientist at the University of Tennessee. The study appears in the October issue of American Sociological Review, which looks at the rise of the super-rich in the United States.
“The central finding of our study is that politics matters for the one percent,” Volscho told AlterNet. “That’s probably not news to a lot of people, but we found that the party of the president – whether Democrat or Republican – didn’t really matter as far as the one percent getting richer. But whether or not the Congress was Democrat or GOP did matter.”
The study looked only at pre-tax income, so it gauged the degree to which the rules of the “free-market” shape income inequality before any redistributive policies come into play. That’s where Congress plays a dominant role, explains Volscho. “The presidency is a very powerful position,” he noted. “The president impacts legislation – he signs bills, he has input into legislation and he proposes the budget every year – but the Congress can really shape how our labor laws are being enforced, who’s heading agencies, whether or not to launch investigations or hold congressional hearings into things like minimum wage laws or financial regulation, all these things that influence the market distribution of income.”
The study’s findings are confirmed by a quick look at the historical composition of Congress from 1949 through the 1970s. During that period, Republicans held a majority in the Senate in just one session and held the House in one session (both in the 83rd Congress in the mid-1950s). During that period, the top 1 percent of American households grabbed an average of 10 percent of the nation’s pre-tax income, and it was very consistent, regardless of who was in the White House.
Since the election of Ronald Reagan, the GOP has held majorities in the Senate in eight different congresses and in the House during six sessions. And during that period – again, regardless of which party held the White House — the richest 1 percent have seen their share of the nation’s income skyrocket. It reached 15.5 percent by the end of Reagan’s presidency and would peak at 23.5 percent in 2007, before the Wall Street crash.
The scholars also found that income inequality is driven by de-unionization, trade policy and changes in the tax code. They concluded that a 1 percentage point drop in income and capital gains taxes had the same effect on equality as a similar increase in Republican representation in Congress.
Using 2008 Gross Domestic Product, the scholars found that the effect of a 1 percentage point drop in private sector union membership results in the transfer of about $33.4 billion to the top 1 percent of households. “I kind of thought that labor unions would shape the wage distribution of income and not be so important [for the investor class],” says Volscho. “But they’re very important for the top 1 percent – as the private sector unions have fallen off a cliff in the United States, the top 1 percent have gotten much richer.”
“With a decrease in union membership, workers’ wage bargaining power diminishes and this can increase firms’ market value and their profitability,” wrote the scholars. “A higher market value often translates into higher stock prices and executive compensation, thereby shifting income toward the top.”
The study flies in the face of the commonly held belief that presidents manage the economy. As people like economist Dean Baker have been saying for some time, there is no naturally occuring “free market” – the rules of the game determine who wins, who loses and by how much, and those rules are shaped first and foremost by the legislative branch.
- Increasing the Number of Republicans in Congress Means Billions More for the 1 Percent, Study Shows (alternet.org)
- Report: While American Families Lost a Ton of Wealth in the Crash, Members of Congress Did Just Fine | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Republican strength in congress aids super-rich, president’s affiliation has no effect (eurekalert.org)
- GOP congress really does make the rich richer (salon.com)
- Why the Obscenely Wealthy Whine When They Have It So Good | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Obama to Congress in Weekly Address: Get Back in Town and Pass Some Bills | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- Paul Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ Is Really a Bad Trip on the Road to Economic Ruin | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- AlterNet Radio: More GOPers In Congress=More Inequality; Yes, the Stimulus Worked; Schneiderman Goes After JPMorgan (alternet.org)
- The Big, Fat Lie Behind Romney’s Absurd 47% Argument | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- No Longer an Urban Legend: New Study Confirms Congressional GOP Aids Nation’s Wealthiest (valkayec.wordpress.com)
Romney’s tongue-tied eloquence
By Fareed Zakaria, Published: September 26
As President Obama has surged in the polls, Republicans have been quick to identify the problem: Mitt Romney. Peggy Noonan eloquently voiced what many conservatives believe when she said that Romney’s campaign has been a “rolling calamity.” Others have been equally critical of his candidacy. And yet, shouldn’t it puzzle us that Romney is so “incompetent” (also from Noonan), given his deserved reputation for, well, competence? He founded one of this country’s most successful financial firms, turned around the flailing Salt Lake City Olympics and was a successful governor. How did he get so clumsy so fast?
In fact, the problem is not Romney but the new Republican Party. Given the direction in which it has moved and the pressures from its most extreme — yet most powerful — elements, any nominee would face the same challenge: Can you be a serious candidate for the general election while not outraging the Republican base?
Fox News anchor Brit Hume got specific in his critique, saying this month that “Romney’s got the presidential bearing down. . . . What he [hasn’t done is] dwell at length on the economic policies that he would put in place.” Why won’t Romney, an intelligent man, fluent in economics, explain his economic policy? Because any sensible answer would cause a firestorm in his party.
It is obvious that, with a deficit at 8 percent of gross domestic product, any solution to our budgetary problems has to involve both spending cuts and tax increases. Ronald Reagan agreed to tax increases when the deficit hit 4 percent of GDP; George H.W. Bush did so when the deficit was 3 percent of GDP. But today’s Republican Party is organized around the proposition that, no matter the circumstances, there must never be a tax increase of any kind. The Simpson-Bowles proposal calls for $1 of tax increases for every $3 of spending cuts. But every Republican presidential candidate — including Romney — pledged during the primaries that he or she would not accept $10 of spending cuts if that meant a dollar of tax increases.
So Romney could present a serious economic plan with numbers that make sense — and then face a revolt within his own party. His solution: to be utterly vague about how he would deal with the deficit. When pressed for details recently, he explained that “the devil’s in the details. The angel is in the vision.” He’s right. Were he to get specific, he would be committing ideological blasphemy. So instead he talks about freedom and capitalism.
Romney’s own inclinations are obvious. In 2002, he refused to take Grover Norquist’s “no tax” pledge, despite the fact that his Republican predecessor as Massachusetts governor had done so. But by 2006, the ground had shifted and he raced to become the first presidential candidate to commit to it.
This is not just a story of the rise of economic conservatives. The same pattern has emerged on immigration. On ABC’s “This Week” last Sunday, Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace urged Romney to reach out to Hispanics by reminding them of Obama’s poor record on immigration reform: “[W]hen George W. Bush . . . John McCain and Ted Kennedy were trying to get something done, Barack Obama was nowhere,” she noted. Except that the Republican Party is now so strongly opposed to those proposals — which included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants — that a co-sponsor of the bill, McCain, has renounced his own handiwork.
Romney has curried favor within the party by opposing the Dream Act, supporting Arizona’s harsh law under which police check people’s immigration status at will and proposing “self-deportation” as a way to get rid of undocumented immigrants. At Hispanic forums in recent weeks, Romney has said that he wants to solve the immigration issue permanently but has spoken about it in vague terms. As with the deficit, he has a plan — but it’s secret. There’s no point in letting the country — or his party — know it before Election Day.
The Republican Party has imposed a new kind of political correctness on its leaders. They cannot speak certain words (taxes) or speculate about certain ideas (immigration amnesty) because these are forbidden. Romney has tried to run a campaign while not running afoul of his party’s strictures. As a result, he has twisted himself into a pretzel, speaking vacuously, avoiding specifics and refusing to provide any serious plans for the most important issues of the day. That’s a straitjacket that even Peggy Noonan’s eloquence cannot get him out of.
- A Letter from Ann Romney : The New Yorker (mbcalyn.com)
- Noonan: Romney running ‘incompetent’ campaign – POLITICO.com (mbcalyn.com)
- “Romney’s tongue-tied eloquence.” (althouse.blogspot.com)
- Peggy Noonan Claims Republicans Privately Thanked Her For Slamming The Romney Campaign (mediaite.com)
- Andrew C (✓): Romney Critics on Right – How the Thought Leaders Created Mitt in the First Place – Esquire (esquire.com)
- Peggy Noonan On Romney Camp: ‘Incompetent’ Was Polite, I Really Meant ‘Rolling Calamity’ (mediaite.com)
- Chris Wallace Dismisses Peggy Noonan, David Frum As ‘New York City’s Idea Of Conservatives’ (mediaite.com)
- Addressing ‘the stench’ (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- Before acrimony, Mitt Romney sought prose from Peggy Noonan’s now-poison pen (boston.com)
- How the Thought Leaders Created Mitt in the First Place (esquire.com)
Ivan Bial: Trickle down didn’t work before. Why now, Willard?
September 5, 2012
When President Reagan took office the U.S. was a creditor nation, when he left office we were a debtor nation.
When President G. W. Bush took office we had a surplus, and a robust economy, when he left office the debit bulged into the trillions, unemployment skyrocketed. Think about this he tricked us into the war in Iraq when we should have gone into Afghanistan, both wars were not paid for, the Medicare prescription drug plan also unpaid for, leave no child behind, unpaid for and several other debit busting unpaid for programs.
What do President Reagan, President G. W. Bush and Gov. Romney have in common? The three believe in “Trickle Down” Economics and no restrictions on financial institutions.
Willard while you want to reward your wealthy friends and PAC contributors with increased tax breaks; you increase the tax burden on seniors, the middle class and cripple the poor.
Willard, while a one term governor, your drove unemployment up, making Massachusetts the 47 state in unemployment claims. You created the model for the Affordable Healthcare Act, supported woman’s rights, increased spending for schools, which now you run away from, and you claim you balanced the budget when you had no choice since it’s a Massachusetts constitutional requirement. Fact is your poll numbers were so poor you did ran away from a second term rather than face an embarrassing defeat.
Willard we tried “Trickle Down” and no restrictions on financial institutions. IT DOES NOT WORK.
- Miami Dolphins News You May Have Missed – 8/27/12 (thephinsider.com)
- Broward mom jailed in baseball attack on son (miamiherald.com)
- The Smirking Sociopath: Romney Finds Sick Joy in Using Libya to Attack Obama (politicususa.com)
- The Manufacturing of Willard Romney, Human, Is Here (esquire.com)
- Miami Dolphins News You May Have Missed – 8/24/12 (thephinsider.com)
- Miami Dolphins News You May Have Missed – 7/7/12 (thephinsider.com)
- Man Accused Of Having Sex With Dog, Stabbing It To Death (miami.cbslocal.com)
- Romney campaign steps on Gov. Scott’s jobs message (tampabay.com)
- Zinfandel finds an elegant balance (sfgate.com)
- Lost ID lands Florida teen in jail again (upi.com)
License to Lie
George F. Will, the so-called “thinking man’s” conservative, has just given Republicans permission to lie, and to do so shamelessly, promiscuously — perhaps even extravagantly. He does so using the right wing’s rhetorical weapon of choice: Projection.
In a Washington Post column last weekend, George Will provides political covering fire for the outright falsehoods Mitt Romney has been telling about President Obama’s record on welfare that has Republican “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough declaring himself “stunned” at the level of their mendacity.
For days now, and in both paid advertisements and during appearances on the stump, Romney has been insisting Obama took the work requirement out of welfare.
“We value work; our society celebrates hard work; we look to a government to make it easier for jobs to be created and people to go to work,” Romney piously intones on the campaign trail. “We do not look for a government that tries to find ways to provide for people who are not willing to work. And so I’m gonna put work back into welfare and make sure able-bodied people can get jobs.”
Three cheers for Romney! goes the crowd. The problem is, as Alex MacGillis reports in the New Republic, none of this is true. Romney’s claims, he says, are “utterly, totally false — as any number of fact-checkers have established.”
The truth is, as MacGillis says, that a handful of states (including some governed by Republicans) asked the Obama administration for greater flexibility in meeting the government’s welfare work requirements. The administration agreed, provided the strategies used by the states increasedwork participation rates 20% or more.
Scarborough, a former Gingrich-era Republican Congressman from Florida, said he’s been looking into the issue for more than a week now, trying to figure out what Romney’s talking about. And he’s finally come to the conclusion that Romney’s claim is “completely false. It’s just completely false. And I’m pretty stunned.”
But that hasn’t caused Romney to pull his dishonest ad or stop lying about Obama’s record on the stump — since he’s engaged in an obvious attempt to repeat the success Ronald Reagan had with white working class voters when he campaigned against Democrats using the equally fallacious idea of “welfare queens.”
And that is where George Will comes in. In his Sunday column, Will accuses Obama of running a campaign that is “sociopathic – indifferent to the truth.” His only proof is an advertisement put together by a Super PAC on Obama’s behalf about steelworker Joe Soptic whose wife died of cancer after being laid off from her job and losing health care coverage. In the ad, Soptic seems to blame Romney and Bain Capital for her death.
Will calls the ad “meretricious about every important particular,” whose production reflects a President who has “sunk into such unhinged smarminess” that there is “nothing he won’t say about Romney because he has nothing to say for himself.”
Therefore, says Will, Romney is free to choose a running mate whose positions may be extreme but “whose seriousness about large problems and ideas” contrasts favorably with a President who has become “silly and small.”
Will’s larger aim is to tell Republicans they need not be intimidated by charges they are pants-on-fire liars since, as Will insists, President Obama is one too.
Now, I’ve seen the ad. And its inference that Romney was either directly or indirectly to blame for the woman’s death makes me uncomfortable as well. Its charge is a bit of a stretch and so is probably deserving of the one (out of four) “Pinocchio” rating it got from the Washington Post’s fact-checkers. But “sociopathic?” “Meretricious?” “Unhinged smarminess?”
There is a tone of desperation in Will’s over-the-top characterization of this example of negative advertising, which, it should be said, is made possible by Will’s support for the unlimited and untraceable corporate campaign spending permitted by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United.
Will also provides additional support for my thesis that political extremists manufacture extremism on the other side in order to mainstream their own extremism.
To the Barry Goldwater-supporting Will there was nothing extreme at all in Goldwater’s declaration during the Republican Party’s National Convention at San Francisco’s Cow Palace in 1964 that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” and “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
As proof, Will cites the “echo” of Goldwater’s words in those written by Martin Luther King Jr. 15 months earlier, in King’s famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, when the civil rights leader said: “You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love? Was not Amos an extremist for justice? Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel? Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”
I suppose Will is right that Goldwater’s position is identical to that of King’s if you consider that both men used the word “extremism” or some variant thereof - Goldwater twice and King six times. But I’ll let you decide if the two men’ politics were in any way the same.
Will’s rhetorical shell game reminds me of something Walter Lippmann once said in his very first book, A Preface to Politics, written almost 100 years ago, when Lippmann said debating was “such a wretched amusement” and most partisanship “degrading.”
That’s because the trick in politics, said Lippmann, is “to argue from the opponent’s language, never from his insight. You take him literally, you pick up his sentences and you show what nonsense they are. You do not try to weigh what you see against what he sees; you contrast what you see with what he says. So debating becomes a way of confirming your own prejudices; it is never, never in any debate I have suffered through, a search for understanding from the angles of two differing insights.”
And that’s what Will is doing here, merely twisting words, which is another way of saying Will is engaged in sophistry.
Now, it would not ordinarily be smart politics in an election year to resurrect the memory of the last Republican presidential candidate to get buried under the rubble of an electoral college landslide. But as we are learning from the Ryan/Romney campaign’s summer offensive against President Obama on the radioactive topic of ending Medicare as we know it, this seems to be the season when conservatives are determined to make a virtue of their vices.
Like most Republican-supporting professionals, I suspect Will thought Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan to be his running mate was a huge, even reckless, gamble given Ryan’s reputation as the guy who wants to end Medicare as we know it.
Since most Republican candidates are running away from the Ryan plan as fast as their consultants can push them, the only way to address this liability, some Republicans have decided, is to blame Obama for the very same thing.
The toxicity of the Republican Party’s positions on Medicare, Social Security, tax cuts for the rich, and now the harsh reality of rape is also why Michael Tomasky (among others) says “Republicans, by definition, have to lie.”
Tomasky says that the distinguishing fact of the Romney-Ryan campaign thus far “is the extent to which it is built on outright lies in a desperate attempt to avoid honest debate at all costs.”
When Romney first picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate there was talk in the press of a coming “big debate on big issues.” But so far, says Tomasky, “the Romney-Ryan strategy is the farthest thing in the world from a Big Debate. Instead, they muddy the waters as much as possible and lie as much as possible, and hope the press doesn’t call them on it and hope voters buy it.”
And the most blatant lie, says Tomasky, is Romney’s “four Pinocchio” claim that President Obama has ended work requirements for welfare, which he has not. Not even close.
“This is not normal,” says Tomasky. It’s normal is to stretch the truth as the Obama campaign did in trying to connect Romney with Bain-related layoffs that happened after Romney left in 2002. “That’s your basic reach,” and the Obama campaign has been called on it, “but it’s not a total lie,” says Tomasky. “But the Romney welfare ads have no grain of truth at all.”
Will’s Washington Post colleague, Matt Miller, also calls Paul Ryan a fraud whose “audacious and revealing” dishonesties need to be exposed.
As an example, Miller dissects Ryan’s recent interview with Brit Hume “because it shows the brand of disingenuousness we’re dealing with.”
When Ryan was asked by the Fox News host to explain with a straight face how he could criticize President Obama for making the very same $719 billion savings in Medicare over the next decade that Ryan incorporates in his own budget, Ryan muttered and sputtered before insisting the two plans were entirely different. Obama’s plan, Ryan said, was the only one that used Medicare savings for “Obamacare.”
Well, yes, I guess that’s technically true. But then it is also true that Ryan’s budget is the only plan that comes with a blue cover — or that uses its Medicare “savings” on tax cuts for the rich.
When the questioning turned to spending generally, Miller noticed that Hume grew progressively impatient with Ryan’s evasions as he repeatedly dodged Hume’s efforts to nail down the Republican’s presumptive Veep nominee on exactly when his budget envisions being in balance.
“Not until the 2030s, Ryan finally admits, looking uncomfortable,” writes Miller. “But then he quickly adds, making a face, that’s only under the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring rules, implying that they’re silly constraints every Fox News viewer would agree are ridiculous (instead of sensible rules meant to credit politicians only for policy proposals that are real).”
Miller says he is “harping” on Ryan’s undeserved reputation as a fiscal hawk “because it’s impossible to overstate how central the unjustified label of ‘fiscal conservative’ is to the Ryan brand and the GOP’s strategy.”
Democrats “can’t afford to let Ryan/Romney’s phony image as superior fiscal stewards survive,” says Miller. “And Hume’s interview shows how swiftly this charade can be exposed if Democrats and the press zero in on simple questions like Hume’s.”
The New York Time’s Paul Krugman agrees, calling Ryan “an unserious man” whose fiscal plan “is and always has been a con game.”
Adding up the numbers, Krugman says Ryan is proposing $4.3 trillion in tax cuts that are only partially offset by around $1.7 trillion in spending cuts – with tax cuts disproportionately favoring the richest of the rich while spending cuts come at the expense of low-income families. But the overall effect, says Krugman, would be to increase the deficit by about $2.5 trillion.
“Yet Mr. Ryan claims to be a deficit hawk? What’s the basis for that claim?” wonders Krugman.
The answer, he says, is basically “a triumph of style over substance,” with the outstanding question being “whether Ryan’s undeserved reputation for honesty and fiscal responsibility can survive his participation in a deeply dishonest and irresponsible presidential campaign.”
George Will has an answer for that, too.
In a campaign practically defined by mendacity, me thinks George Will doth protest too much about the President’s alleged fibs and exaggerations. Indeed, Will’s outrage seems conveniently calculated to give the Republican ticket a blank check to deceive by inoculating Republicans against all future charges that their policies are outside the mainstream or that their campaign on their policies’ behalf a farce.
Even Will seems to admit as much when he urges readers to remember the Soptic ad “when you hear, ad nauseam, that Ryan is directly, and Romney now is derivatively, an extremist” for their positions on Medicare, tax hikes on the richest Americans and much else.
And this from the guy who on the very same day says scientists warning of climate change are causing “apocalypse fatigue — boredom from being repeatedly told the end is nigh.”
- Daily Kos: Republicans: Our welfare ad is a lie. And it works. So we’re sticking with it (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney’s fact-checking flip-flop – Salon.com (mbcalyn.com)
- The Big Lie, by @DavidOAtkins (digbysblog.blogspot.com)
- Tampa Defines the Charlotte Imperative (themoderatevoice.com)
- The GOP convention was a bust (salon.com)
- New Donk Ad, Lies Again About The Middle Class (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Romney aide: We won’t let our ads be dictated by facts (kaystreet.wordpress.com)
- Joe Scarborough Slams Mitt Romney Welfare Ads: ‘It’s Just Completely False’ (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Calif. Democrat sorry for ‘big lie’ remark (content.usatoday.com)
- Ten Big Lies Paul Ryan Keeps Repeating That the Corporate Media Refuses to Push Back On | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
Best They Could Get Accepts Republican Nomination
TAMPA, FL—Addressing thousands of faithful GOP supporters at the Republican National Convention Thursday evening, the best they could get right now formally accepted the party’s nomination for the presidency of the United States.
“It is a great honor to stand before you all today and accept your nomination for president,” the only real viable alternative they had, given the options, told the assembled GOP delegates at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. “Together, we will take America in a new direction. Together, we will win the White House.”
With Thursday night’s speech, the by no means perfect choice what are you gonna do finally reached the end of a difficult nomination process, having beaten a field of challengers in the primaries that included they’d have to be crazy, not a chance, and the absolute worst-case scenario.
“You have given me a solemn responsibility, one that I do not take lightly,” said the honest to God strongest game plan the Republicans could come up with after four whole years of trying. “It has been an extraordinary journey to this point, and I believe this is only the beginning.”
After accepting the nomination, the lesser of several evils thanked those in attendance, adding that it was a great honor to have the much more exciting possibility, actually, although probably better for 2016, as a running mate.
What they’re just going to have to live with because it isn’t like Ronald Reagan is walking on to that stage anytime soon then went on to offer a hopeful vision for the future.
“It is true that our country has fallen on hard times,” the only halfway decent alternative around if one is being brutally frank—and, at this point, why not be brutally frank—said in the nationally televised speech. “But a brighter future lies ahead.”
Promising to solve the country’s economic woes and restore strong values to the White House, the admittedly safe bet that didn’t exactly set the world on fire in 2008, isn’t exactly setting the world on fire now, and probably never will be what die-hard conservatives, or even moderate Republicans for that matter, really want in their deepest heart of hearts blasted President Obama for “four years of failed ideas and failed policies.”
“It’s time for a change,” the perhaps inevitably uninspiring fall-back plan of a rudderless party attempting to redefine its political identity amidst a rapidly changing political landscape announced. “I will not let you down.”
“Thank you, and God bless America,” concluded the only way they were going to raise this kind of money, anyway, so they can’t complain too much.
- RNC Builds Levee Out Of Poor People To Protect Convention Site | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- GOP Convention To Feature Strong Lineup Of Conservative Women Listeners | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Republicans Condemn Akin’s Comments As Blemish On Party’s Otherwise Spotless Women’s Rights Record | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Clint Eastwood Gives Bizarre Speech | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source | American Voices (mbcalyn.com)
- Things That Shouldn’t Be Said In Modern Society To Be Said At Least 1,400 Times At RNC | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Hurricane Could Strike RNC | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source | American Voices (mbcalyn.com)
- Paul Ryan Wondering If He Should Have Told Romney About This Guy He’s Dating | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Supreme Court Upholds Bill Of Rights In 5-4 Decision | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Romney Stares Uncomprehendingly At $1 Bill | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
- Pregnant Woman Relieved To Learn Her Rape Was Illegitimate | The Onion – America’s Finest News Source (mbcalyn.com)
Low Favorability Trails Romney Up to the Convention Dais
Mitt Romney accepts the Republican nomination for president this week with the lowest personal popularity of any major-party nominee in polls dating to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, a difficulty for Romney that’s persisted throughout this election cycle.
Forty percent of registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll see Romney favorably overall, while 51 percent rate him unfavorably — 11 points underwater in this basic measure, with a majority unfavorable score for just the second time in polls since last fall.
Barack Obama does better in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, but hardly well — 50-47 percent in favorable vs. unfavorable views among registered voters, essentially the same as his 2012 average in ABC/Post polls. On this, as on other measures, as hard as they’ve campaigned, views of the two hardly have budged.
Romney’s favorability rating is the lowest of any major-party nominee at roughly the time of his convention in available data back to 1984; indeed he’s the first, at this stage of the campaign, to be rated more unfavorably than favorably by a significant margin. On the other hand, Obama’s net favorable rating is substantially lower than the four previous incumbents’ (Reagan, both Bushes and Bill Clinton) at this point.
One previous candidate in this period had a favorability rating as low as Obama’s and went on to win the presidency — George H.W. Bush in 1988. (Bush’s unfavorability rating was lower than Obama’s, with more undecided.) None has won with favorability as low as Romney’s, increasing the pressure for him to develop more of a personal connection with the electorate, perhaps starting with his acceptance speech Thursday night.
Favorability is a broader concept than simple likeability, a measure in which Obama far surpasses Romney; it also reflects empathy, a sense that the candidate understands the problems of average Americans — an attribute on which Obama also leads, but more narrowly. Analysis of ABC/Post data this week shows that when likeability and empathy are tested together, empathy is a far more powerful predictor of vote choices.
GROUPS — Romney has particular challenges in some groups: His 34 percent favorability rating among women who are registered to vote is down by 9 percentage points from May, with particular weakness among unmarried women, a core Democratic group.
Romney is seen favorably by just 35 percent of independents who are registered to vote, numerically a low since March (albeit not significantly different from its level earlier this month). Obama’s favorability rating among independents is 9 points higher than Romney’s; nonetheless in a separate ABC/Post poll released Monday the two were about even among independents in vote preference, 47-43 percent, Romney-Obama, indicating that favorability is one factor in candidate support, but not in and of itself determinative.
Romney’s rating also is notably low, just 21 percent favorable, among adults who say they’re not registered to vote — a sentiment that would explain a focus on voter registration by the Obama camp in the two months ahead.
Romney does far better in his core ideological support groups, but with shortfalls compared with Obama. Romney is seen favorably by 69 percent of conservative voters; Obama, by 81 percent of liberals. And Obama’s rating among moderates, 61 percent favorable, far exceeds Romney’s in this group, 29 percent.
A variety of factors may inform these ratings; both candidates likely are low on favorability not solely because of their own doing, but because the public is in a sour mood, pinched by the long-running economic downturn. Nonetheless, while they focus in the weeks ahead on winning voters’ minds, a few hearts wouldn’t hurt.
- Poll: Mitt Romney badly trails President Obama among Hispanic voters (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- CBS poll: Obama only up 1, 46/45, among registered voters (conservativeread.com)
- Poll dancing – 08.27.12 (theblaze.com)
- Romney up 1 in new WaPo/ABC poll, 47/46 (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Romney’s Popularity Stays Low, Obama’s is Better, but with Challenges (abcnews.go.com)
- The Empathy Vote? (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- No, The Race Is Not Tied (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan not altering race, poll shows (newsday.com)
- AP-GfK poll shows White House race still tight (kansascity.com)
- Poll raises question: How is this election even close? (humanevents.com)
Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class | Alternet
TEA PARTY AND THE RIGHT
Teaching People to Hate Their Own Govt. Is at the Core of the Project to Destroy the Middle Class
How would you teach the middle class to hate their own government using a strategy that takes into consideration the political climate of the United States of thirty years ago?
August 21, 2012
The following is an excerpt from Dennis Marker’s new book15 Steps to Corporate Feudalism, published this year. In the text below, Marker shares one of the steps he sees as central to the destruction of the middle class since Ronald Reagan took over.
Your goal for this step is to figure out how to teach the middle class to hate their own government using a strategy that takes into consideration the political climate of the United States of thirty years ago.
Teaching the middle class to hate their government was an essential part of the plan to implement Corporate Feudalism. A middle class cannot exist without a strong government. This is because only a government has the power to stand up to the giant corporations of today’s world, or the powerful individuals and private armies of earlier times. It is the government that enforces the laws to protect the middle class from those who would like to become their economic rulers. That is why prior to the Industrial Revolution and the creation of the middle class all economies were run according to some version of the feudal system. If you want to put an end to the middle class and replace it with a feudal republic, you would need to change people’s perception of their government.
Obviously a government does not have to be on the side of its people, as can be seen by the existence of countless dictatorships and oligarchies throughout the world. Even the corporatocracy that currently exists in the United States falls far short of being on the side of its middle class. But US history shows that a government committed to serving its citizens can, in fact, help create and maintain a healthy middle class even in the face of powerful corporations whose only interest is maximizing their own power and profits.
It is like the story in old westerns of a big bad landowner who takes what he wants when he wants it, ruthlessly terrorizing a town without a strong sheriff. Any individual who tries to stop the landowner is beaten into submission or killed. The situation continues until the town finds a strong enough sheriff to regain control over the landowner and his gang. This is the Old West version of the feudal system. In westerns, the feudal lord comes first and the sheriff comes later. But in the United States of thirty years ago, the government was the strong sheriff keeping the late-twentieth-century feudal lords from taking what they wanted. As long as the government was supported by its citizens—particularly its middle class—no one could ride into town and steal what belonged to the people. But if the government were weakened or destroyed, a different situation would arise. The intent of the plan for Corporate Feudalism was to convince the middle class to fire their sheriff. And that’s just what happened.
Thirty years ago at the onset of the Reagan Revolution, the middle class basically appreciated and respected their government and believed that living in the United States was good for the middle class. They took their status for granted. The connection between what was good about the United States and its government was clear to the American public. For the most part, people believed the government was on their side and largely responsible for the high standard of living they enjoyed. Their government built the roads that made transportation easy. Their government made the laws and regulations that kept US workers safe at their jobs. Their government ensured that their food was safe. The labor strife that had empowered the middle class was now decades old, and the Vietnam War had ended, although not well. In many ways the United States of thirty years ago was a happy place, and most people understood their government’s role in keeping it that way. While there were problems, including the energy crisis, they seemed manageable. Not everyone was happy with everything the government did, of course, but there was general agreement that the US government was the best government anywhere.
Then the US government found itself in the crosshairs of the brand-new Reagan Revolution with no way to understand why it was under attack and no way to defend itself. For thirty years, it took blow after blow. Now, while still standing, that government is very different from what it was when Reagan took office. It is much weaker, no longer able to offer the protections or provide the services the middle class took for granted thirty years ago—the same kinds of services that many European democracies have continued to provide for their citizens during the period of US economic and social decline. And in its weakened state the US government has lost the support of the very citizens who depended on it the most, the middle class.
How did this happen? When Ronald Reagan got to Washington, he set out to convince the middle class that their government was their enemy, using his considerable powers of persuasion. The basic message of Reagan and the conservatives was that everyone would be better off if the federal government just disappeared. They were smart enough not to say this directly, however. Instead, they just landed one body blow after another without openly expressing their desire to destroy the government.
For example, Reagan attacked government workers, contending they were lazy, they wasted taxpayer money, and they involved themselves in issues they knew nothing about, like regulating large businesses and corporations. Within the first few years of Reagan’s election, the morale of the federal workforce plummeted as these employees saw their image shift from being considered public servants trying to make life in the United States better for everyone to being seen as lazy, despised bureaucrats wasting taxpayer money. Far from being a place where committed public servants worked to help the public, Washington, DC, became known as the place where crooks, thieves, and lazy workers stole taxpayer money for foolish purposes or their own personal benefit.
While federal workers had unions to protect their jobs, they did not have high-priced lobbyists and media consultants to safeguard their image. The unions representing federal workers came under the same harsh attack as the workers themselves, but the attacks went largely unanswered. The nation’s first movie star president had intentionally created this negative image of government workers, and he was convincing.
Following Reagan, other conservatives continued to lead the charge against the government, often using the same language the Reagan administration had employed. Few found language more effective than the Reagan one-liner, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” but they didn’t need to. The leap from John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” to Reagan’s cynical and supposedly frightening “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” had been successfully made.
In addition to waging a full-scale campaign against the government and its employees, the Reagan administration also implemented another practice that was equally destructive to the image of government—filling government positions with people who hated government, a practice that continues to this day. For those seeking to change the United States from a middle-class democracy to a corporate feudal republic, there are three major advantages to this practice. First, you give government jobs to your conservative friends and cronies. Second, you keep dedicated public servants who want to see government succeed out of government. Third, and most importantly, you have a cadre of conservative ideologues working inside the government to sabotage and destroy the government at every turn.
The advantages for conservatives of sabotaging and destroying the government are almost limitless. Looking at a few examples from George W. Bush’s administration shows why. Thirty years ago the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a government agency committed to protecting the public by monitoring the safety of toys and other products, made a positive difference in people’s lives. However, during George W. Bush’s administration conservatives who filled many of the civil service positions and all of the politically appointed slots did not believe the government should be in the business of helping to protect the public, and they did everything in their power to avoid carrying out their responsibilities. When Congress tried to give the CPSC more money to do a better job of regulating products imported from China, for example, the Bush-appointed agency head refused. She said they had plenty of money to do their job, although in reality they weren’t doing their job at all. Then reports started coming in about unsafe toys originating in China. People were outraged, as they should have been, and blamed the government. By failing to do their jobs, the conservatives were encouraging people to give up on their own government, which was exactly what conservatives wanted.
Thirty years ago, in an effort to make their point, conservatives often exaggerated the examples of government corruption and waste, but during George W. Bush’s administration scandals involving everything from toys to military contracting became the norm. And who were the perpetrators of most of these crimes against the United States and its taxpayers? They were government-hating conservatives working inside the government, placed there for this very reason. Each time one of these conservatives was caught in another scandal, the American public’s view of government deteriorated a little more. If you believe in a government that helps its citizens, this seems bad. But if you believe that the best government is no government this seems great, so the people who wanted to establish Corporate Feudalism couldn’t have been happier.
That was the plan used by Corporate Feudalists to convince millions of middle-class people to hate their own government. Did you think of a more effective way to accomplish this goal? Or do you believe the plan that was used was the most effective one available?
- The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace Paul Ryan’s Cruelty | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- The Betrayal of the American Dream – A Once Vibrant Middle Class Is Now on the Brink | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- “Deregulation And Worker’s Bargaining Power”: New Insight Into The Decline Of The Middle Class (mykeystrokes.com)
- What a shrinking middle class portends for our future (blogs.ajc.com)
- Picket Fences Are Long Gone (personalliberty.com)
- Obama Years Have Been Brutal For Middle Class – Income Minus $4,019 Downsizing Amertica (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Shrinking Income for America’s Middle Class – Pew Research (247wallst.com)
- Here’s What’s Actually Killing The Economy… The Decline Of The Middle Class (businessinsider.com)
- Pew Study: The Economy is lagging because the middle class is broke (finance.yahoo.com)
- Eroding middle class falls to 51%, survey finds – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)
The rise of the ‘Drawbridge Republicans’
By Matt Miller, Published: August 21
As Republicans head toward next week’s convention something extraordinary has come into view now that their ticket is complete.
Mitt Romney came from wealth and went on to build his own quarter-of-a-billion dollarfortune. Paul Ryan, who has never worked a day in the private sector (outside a few months in the family firm) reports a net worth of as much as $7 million, thanks to trusts and inheritances from his and his wife’s family.
Wealthy political candidates are nothing new, of course. But we’ve never had two wealthy candidates on a national ticket whose top priority is to reduce already low taxes on the well-to-do while raising taxes on everyone else — even as they propose to slash programs that serve the poor, or that (like college aid) create chances for the lowly born to rise.
Call them the Drawbridge Republicans. As the moniker implies, these are wealthy Republicans who have no qualms about pulling up the drawbridge behind them. Such sentiments used to be reserved for the political fringe. The most prominent example was Steve Forbes, whose twin obsessions during his vanity presidential runs in 1996 and 2000 — marginal tax rates and inflation — were precisely what you’d expect from an heir in a cocoon.
(In case you were wondering, Ronald Reagan wasn’t a Drawbridge because he entered office when marginal rates, at 70 percent, were truly damaging to the economy. But as GOP business leaders now tell me privately, the Clinton-era top rate of 39.6 percent, let alone today’s 35 percent, are hardly a barrier to work or investment).
Most rich Republicans who champion regressive tax plans find it necessary to at least pretend they’re doing something to help average folks. John McCain, who’s lived large for decades thanks to his wife’s inheritance, famously had trouble keeping track of how many homes he owned — but McCain also tried bravely to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. George W. Bush campaigned as a “compassionate conservative,” and touted education initiatives that made this claim plausible.
Today’s Drawbridge Republicans can’t be bothered. Yes, when their political back is to the wall — as Romney’s increasingly is — they’ll slap together a page of bullet points and dub it “a plan for the middle class.” But this is only under duress. The rest of the time they seem blissfully unaware of how off-key they sound. As the humorist Andy Borowitz tweeted the other day, “As a general matter, it’s a bad idea to talk about austerity if you just had a horse lose in the Olympics.”
Contrast conservative Prime Minister (and heir) David Cameron’s decision to defer his plans to lower the top 50 percent marginal rate in the UK. “When you’re taking the country through difficult times and difficult decisions,” Cameron said, “you’ve got to take the country with you. That means permanently trying to make the argument that what you’re doing is fair and seen to be fair.” As his spokesman added: “We need to ask those with the broadest shoulders to contribute the most.”
Now that’s a conservative ruling class with a conscience! Can anyone imagine Romney and Ryan saying the same?
The interesting question concerns psychology. Drawbridge Republicans are flesh and blood human beings peddling indefensible priorities. How do they manage it and still feel good about themselves? One possibility is that they’re simply missing the genes for empathy and self-awareness. (Steve Forbes always did seem a bit like a bubble boy whose inheritance left him impervious).
But for today’s GOP ticket that explanation feels off. Romney, for all his awkwardness, campaigned and governed in a liberal state, and he enacted a pioneering universal health care law that’s helped many of modest means achieve health security. Ryan is equally mysterious — the boy-next-door who pays lip service to “upward mobility” yet seems to have no notion his plans would likely produce what liberal analyst Robert Greenstein calls“the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history.”
My hunch is that extreme forms of rationalization and other defense mechanisms help Drawbridge Republicans cope with the cognitive dissonance. The growth of partisan media makes it easy to tune out disquieting dissenting views.
Whatever lies behind it, the rise of the Drawbridge Republicans makes the stakes of this election even higher. If Romney and Ryan actually win on their Drawbridge agenda, the United States will have crossed a scary new Rubicon for a supposedly advanced democracy. For years, whenever I’ve heard people criticize “limousine liberals,” I’ve always thought, well, at least that’s better than being a “limousine jerk.” Now it turns out that’s exactly what a Drawbridge Republican is.
- Matt Miller: The rise of the ‘Drawbridge Republicans’ – The Washington Post (easyjjgrand3.newsvine.com)
- “Drawbridge Republicans” (the Worms May Be Turning) (balloon-juice.com)
- Kemp Roth Reagan Miller (businessinsider.com)
- MSNBC Contrib Explains ‘Drawbridge Republicans,’ Mitt Romney’s ‘Deep, Psychological Confusion’ (mediaite.com)
- Mitt Romney’s wrong – lower tax rates for the rich don’t lead to growth, says Eliot Spitzer (current.com)
- Romney and Ryan: The Right Kind of “Welfare Queens” (ourfuture.org)
- Unhappy returns – Romney, his taxes and why you keep finding blood in your underwear (danielboshea.wordpress.com)
- Economists Risk Labeling as Political Hacks (bloomberg.com)
- Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: No Ryan bounce in NBC-WSJ poll; Akin tells Romney to stuff it (dailykos.com)
- “Wishful Thinking About Tax Rates” (economistsview.typepad.com)