Don?t forget, tomorrow is primary election day in PA, and the guy in this clip needs our vote?
?and here?s a reminder about the cretins who want to hold sway over all?
?and given this item, I thought it would be a good idea to replay this campaign ad from 2000 that was unbelievably prescient about Dubya ? you really want to see ?The Ownership Society on Steroids? under Willard Mitt after November, people?...
?all of which put me in the mind to hear this tune again?
...and for more related "food for thought," press the button.
Global Economy Blues
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Horrifying undead thing Dick "dick" Cheney manifested himself in an explosion of flames and black oily smoke before college students today, seeking virgin blood in which to bathe (ha ha, no luck! Nobody from Hillsdale was on hand). While he was there[...]
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Here are some headlines you won't see after the government releases new figures on Social Security and Medicare later today:
"Social Security Trust Fund Even Larger Than It Was Last Year"
"Growing Wealth Inequity Will Lead to Social Security Imbalance Later This Century"
"For-Profit Healthcare Poses Threat to Medicare, Federal Deficit, and Overall Economy in Coming Decades"
"Public Consensus Grows For Taxing Wealthy to Restore Long-Term Entitlement Imbalance"
Instead here's what we've already seen:
"Aging workforce strains Social Security, Medicare"
That headline's completely wrong, and yet it's been repeated in dozens of different news outlets (sometimes with minor variations) as they run an improved, but still misleading, news story on Social Security and Medicare from Stephen Ohlemacher at the Associated Press.
Perhaps Trudy Lieberman's Columbia Journalism Review analysis of misleading Social Security reporting had some impact.
Whatever the reason, it's good to see that Ohlemacher's article acknowledges the role that our ongoing economic difficulties have had in slowing revenues for these programs, and that he quotes critics of the Social Security-cutting consensus (although with far less prominence than he does a little-known figure repeating right-wing talking points.)
Even the Washington Post, which is the nation's worst journalistic offender on these subjects, shifted the emphasis with their headline this time. Today they're running the AP article with the header "Social Security, Medicare strained by slow economic recovery, aging workforce."
That headline is 50 percent right?which is a 50 percent improvement.
Ohlemacher's article was occasioned by the latest report from the Trustees of the fund that handles Social Security and Medicare, which will be released today. He writes that "both programs (Social Security and Medicare) are on a path to become insolvent in the coming decades, unless Congress acts, according to the trustees."
Unfortunately the piece provides no context for the use of the term "insolvent," which most people associate with bankruptcy or running out of funds. As Sarah Kliff explains, nobody is suggesting that either of these programs will ever run out of funds. And when programs have ongoing sources of income, the temporary absence of a surplus isn't the same as "insolvency" as that term is commonly understood.
In fact the report will clearly state that Social Security's Trust Fund has grown to $2.7 trillion dollars, and that Social Security will be able to pay all its benefits in full for a quarter of a century. After that, if no changes are made, it will be able to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits without changes.
Nor is the "aging workforce" the cause for any of today's concerns, despite the millions of dollars in advocacy money meant to make us believe that it is. We've known about the baby boom ever since it ended in the 1960s, and it was fully addressed in past adjustments to the program. That's why the program was considered perfectly solvent for the foreseeable future after the Greenspan Commission raised the retirement age and made its other adjustments in the 1980s.
As economists like L. Josh Bivens have shown, the real problem is that there has been a sharp increase in income inequity in the last couple of decades. The payroll tax which finances Social Security was reconfigured to capture 90 percent of the nation's income, but because the richest among us are capturing more of our nation's wealth, that figure is now closer to 83 percent.
If that hadn't happened there would be no problem with Social Security at all. Understanding the nature of the problem helps us come up with a cure. If wealth inequity is the cause, shouldn't the solution also center on inequity?
Medicare, unlike Social Security, does have very serious long-term financial problems. Why? Because we're the only developed nation that insists in delivering its health care through a system of for-profit hospitals and other medical providers. The for-profit medical/industrial complex has exploded in size over the last few decades, and it's driving our runaway health care costs. The for-profit insurance system which serves most insured Americans under 65 has no incentive to resist for-profit medical care, and arguably even benefits from runaway costs.
The impact of for-profit care on Medicare's future can be inferred from this quote by economist David Blitzer: "The trends in Medicare are more modest than the cost increases we have seen in the private commercial sector." That's because Medicare, as a government program, is far more cost-efficient than the private health insurance system. (That difference makes a mockery of Republican proposals to end Medicare and replace it with a system of vouchers for private insurance.)
The AP article prominently features an alarmist quote from someone named Mary Johnson, who is described as a policy analyst for the "Senior Citizens League." "I don't know how to make it clear to the public," says Ms. Johnson, "but in my mind the sirens are going off."
The Senior Citizens' League does not present Ms. Johnson's professional qualifications on its website. And who is the Senior Citizens League? The only member of the organization with a national reputation is its apparent founder, former Republican Congressman David Funderburk. I hadn't heard of it before, but some quick Googling led to complaints like this one ("Notch octogenarians should beware of Social Security scam") and this one ("Got a letter requesting money from them. The letter is full of propaganda about Mexican immigrants taking away all social security benefits??!")
The League also fought against health reform which claims that it would create a "massive" Federal database that would make your medical records available to "millions of people" with "a complete lack of privacy and confidentiality" and would hit doctors and hospitals with "stiff penalties." That even earned a slap from PolitiFact, which has been known to defend conventionally-accepted misstatements on the subject of earned benefits. According to its website the League's been on the right side of at least one issue: that of cost-of-living adjustments. But it's surprising to see alarmist words from such a little-known group given such prominence in a piece of this kind.
The AP article also quotes people with more obvious credentials, including economist Blitzer and Eric Kingson, a professor of social work at Syracuse University who co-chairs the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. (Conflict alert: I'm affiliated with that organization.) But these more qualified individuals aren't given the prominent display of the less-well-known Ms. Johnson.
The simplest, and by far the most popular, solution to Social Security's future revenue gap is to lift the payroll tax cap. Such a move would end any future doubts about its ability to pay benefits, would be politically popular, and would harmonize with the wealth inequity that is the source of that future shortfall.
Yet this solution goes unmentioned until the end of the article, and then only as the position taken by "advocates": "Kingson and other advocates say Social Security could be shored up by simply increasing the amount of wages subject to Social Security taxes?an idea that most Republicans in Congress flatly oppose."
That makes it sound as if this were a matter of opinion, rather than one of fact, but it's not. Experts ranging from Ronald Reagan's Chief Actuary to economists with expertise in this area have confirmed that this would fully solve Social Security's long-term shortfall.
By contrast, consider the article's opening sentence: "An aging population and an economy that has been slow to rebound are straining the long-term finances of Social Security and Medicare." That sentence should have read "Growing wealth inequities and an economy slow to rebound ..." Near the end another sentence could have something like "The Senior Citizens League and other advocates say an aging workforce has contributed to the problem ..."
That would have been much more accurate. Unfortunately the AP reverses opinion and fact, presenting one as the other and vice versa. That will serve to reinforce widely-held (and, for the right, politically convenient) misconceptions about the program. Nevertheless, although it repeats far too many misconceptions and fails to provide the proper context, this article is an improvement from past misreporting on Social Security and Medicare.
We have a long way to go before we can be sure that our news outlets are giving people the facts and the context they need to understand what's happening to Medicare and a Social Security?and what it means for them.
(NOTE: The above originally said that the AP article didn't mention lifting the payroll tax cap at all. It did, but presented its effects as if that were merely a matter of opinion. We have rewritten that section of this piece accordingly.)
What we want to know is how much of a push a vice presidential candidate gives a presidential nominee relative to how he would do otherwise.
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A new chapter has been added to the shale gas industry's eco-terrorism, counterinsurgency and psychological operations saga.In March, NBC News investigative reporter Michael Isikoff revealed that many prominent U.S. public officials are on the payroll of[...]
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I wonder what happened to that liberal media bias we are always hearing about? Apparently the folks peddling it have been slacking off since that boring white guy with a zillion dollars -that he never worked a day for- is running against his Oness.
"NEW YORK -- During the past several months of the Republican primary campaign, presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney received a mix of positive and negative coverage, while President Barack Obama got "consistently negative" coverage, according to a new study from Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The PEJ study, which examined coverage from the period between Jan 2 and April 15, found that "Obama's negative coverage exceeded positive coverage in 14 or 15 weeks studied, while positive coverage outweighed negative coverage for Romney in six of the 15 weeks and was fairly evenly divided in four more."
While former House Speaker Newt Gingrich often railed against the "elite media" and former Sen. Rick Santorum famously called out a New York Times reporter, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, generally steered clear of media bashing. But as he pivots to the general election, Romney has begun taking jabs likely to play well with the Republican faithful.
On April 15, Romney told attendees at a closed-door fundraiser held in Palm Beach that most TV commentators "tend to be liberal." Two days later, Romney said in a Breitbart.com interview that "many in the media are inclined to do the president's bidding and I know that's an uphill battle we fight with the media generally." He also spoke of a "vast left wing conspiracy" against him." [Source]
Well someone needs to alert the "vast left wing" and fast, because it appears they haven't gotten the memo.
Of course, over at the news network for dummies, they are just flat out making up quotes to fit their narrative as they continue to cheer on their boy, Flipper.
"They say a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on, but having a top-rated cable news network on its side helps the lie out even more. TPM points out that Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy got creative with a President Obama quote, adding the words ?unlike some people? to the President?s ?I wasn?t born with a silver spoon in my mouth.?
It must be nice to be able to just "creative" a quote while you are a host on a cable N-E-W-S network. No wonder the average A-merry-can is so clueless.
Speaking of clueless, WTF was this guy, Michael Bullerdick, thinking? (Yes, that's really his name: Buller-dick) Dude gets a job with Essence Magazine and ends up clowning himself.
As is to be expected, some of you Negroes in A-merry-ca are not pleased:
"Essence Magazine?s editor-in-chief, Constance White, was forced to back pedal when one of her editors, Michael Bullerdick (pictured below), forgot that even a ?private? Facebook page (pictured below) can still end up embarrassing you in public.
SEE ALSO: Two Shows Present Black Women In Positive Light
Bullerdick, the infamous White guy hired at Essence as a Managing Editor last summer, has turned out to be the kind of Right Wing, Fox News watching, Tea Party attending, first Black president hating, extremist that we hear about in scary racist bedtime stories. Bullerdick isn?t just a man with a few conservative viewpoints, he?s the kind of Republican who is so angry at Black people and civil rights, that he puts it all over his Facebook page. I wouldn?t be surprised if Bullerdick owns one of those ?Don?t Re-nig? bumper stickers that are all the
rage among Right Wing nut jobs.
Bullerdick was busted after the website Journal-isms sent a screenshot of his page to the editor. On the page, Bullerdick attacked civil rights leader Al Sharpton as a ?Race Pimp?; went after President Barack Obama as a radical; and touted videos by the late Andrew Breitbart, who was responsible for getting former USDA official Shirley Sherrod fired; and attacking Attorney General Eric Holder. The commentary wasn?t just a matter of simple disagreement on policy, but was the kind of racial hatred that one would expect from the kind of Right Winger that even other Republicans might find embarrassing."
Yes, but why would you discriminate against Mr. Bullerdick just because he is white? Shouldn't the best person get the job regardless of his color?
How do you answer that Mr. Watkins?
"Let?s be clear: Bullerdick being White is not the issue, although one could argue that there are thousands of talented Black female journalists locked out of White organizations who would be quite qualified to speak to the Black female experience in America. What is most problematic is the fact that Bullerdick is a guy who identifies with the values and beliefs of those who work night and day to preserve our nation?s long-held commitment to racial inequality.
The union between Bullerdick and Essence Magazine was the kind of awkward arranged marriage that leaves the bride sobbing in the dressing room when she realizes she has no choice. One can also easily argue that this man has absolutely no respect for Essence Magazine, its readers or what the magazine represents to the black community. By showering his Facebook page with borderline racist, inflammatory rhetoric, while taking a paycheck from Essence, he is effectively saying, ?I don?t care what any of you people think.? [Source]
OK, I guess if you put it that way. Sorry Mr. Bullerdick, I think you might have to go.
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I'm not saying that CNN's Fareed Zakaria is wrong. But after all of these years of the West, via the IMF, forcing developing countries to decimate their budgets and thus their economies, at the expense of their people, now that the tough love medicine is hitting too close to home, suddenly it's time to revisit the notion that there's no such thing as too much, or ill-timed, austerity.
Fareed Zakaria at CNN:
Consider that data we started with. The U.S. economy, which received monetary and fiscal stimulus, will grow at well over 2% this year. European economies that have followed the path of cutting spending and raising taxes to reduce deficits are finding themselves in a downward spiral: cutting spending means laying off people, which means less demand for good and services, which means the economy shrinks, which - ironically - means lower tax revenues and thus larger budget deficits.
Take a look at Britain. Britain has followed a brave austerity plan, cutting government spending across the board and raising taxes. The result, British growth has stalled; the economy will grow barely 0.8% this year. And while its budget deficit was predicted to be under 13 billion dollars in February, it was in fact 24 billion dollars for that month alone.
After its austerity programs, Spain has hit 20% unemployment - 50% youth unemployment - and now has a much larger budget deficit than projected.
No, the "D" on President-in-waiting Willard Inc.'s
stylish headgear doesn't stand for "Democrat."
"[Last week's] Ohio speech was a perfect illustration of the way the Romney campaign is banking on amnesia, on the hope that voters don?t remember that Mr. Obama inherited an economy that was already in free fall."
-- Paul Krugman, in his NYT column today,
"The Amnesia Candidate"
Just to be clear that our Paul isn't asleep at the wheel, in his NYT column today, he follows up the question I've put in the title of this post, "Just how stupid does Mitt Romney think we are?," by noting: "If you?ve been following his campaign from the beginning, that?s a question you have probably asked many times."
Of course it hasn't been just the Willard Inc. 2012 Campaign Juggernaut that's been dedicated the proposition that Americans are dumber than dirt. It was the unifying theme of the whole Republican death march to a presidential nomination. Admittedly, many of the other candidates encouraged the feeling that they're just as stupid as the poor sumbitches they were trying to inveigle into supporting their know-nothing candidacies, whereas whatever else one may say about the Incorporated Willard, he does seem to have a working brain, one he simply chooses to use for obfuscatory purposes when he mounts the campaign stump.
Now Willard the Pretend Wingnut has finally been able to emerge as the Unitary Willard, candidate of all the sociopathic right-wing billionares, he has finally been able to advance into general-election campaign mode, free to target not those dregs of humanity who comprised the 2012 Republican presidential field but a Democratic president who goodness knows should be vulnerable to all sorts of attacks -- but none vaguely resembling those being leveled by the new phase of the newly tooled Willard-for-President Model of the Right-Wing Noise Machine. And while holding a candidate to his campaign promises is an utterly legitimate mode of campaign discourse, it's that much more loathsome when the discussion is built entirely on lies about the situation in 2008 and the situation in 2012.
Mr. Romney constantly talks about job losses under Mr. Obama. Yet all of the net job loss took place in the first few months of 2009, that is, before any of the new administration's policies had time to take effect. So the Ohio speech was a perfect illustration of the way the Romney campaign is banking on amnesia, on the hope that voters don't remember that Mr. Obama inherited an economy that was already in free fall.
How does the campaign deal with people who point out the awkward reality that all of the "Obama" job losses took place before any Obama policies had taken effect? The fallback argument -- which was rolled out when reporters asked about the factory closure -- is that even though Mr. Obama inherited a deeply troubled economy, he should have fixed it by now. . . .
I guess accusing Mr. Obama of not doing enough to promote recovery is a better argument than blaming him for the effects of Bush policies. However, it?s not much better, since Mr. Romney is essentially advocating a return to those very same Bush policies. And he?s hoping that you don?t remember how badly those policies worked.
For the Bush era didn?t just end in catastrophe; it started off badly, too. Yes, Mr. Obama?s jobs record has been disappointing ? but it has been unambiguously better than Mr. Bush?s over the comparable period of his administration.
has recovered almost all the ground lost in the administration's early months. That compares favorably with the Bush era: as of March 2004, private employment was still 2.4 million below its level when Mr. Bush took office.
Oh, and where have those mass layoffs of schoolteachers been taking place? Largely in states controlled by the G.O.P.: 70 percent of public job losses have been either in Texas or in states where Republicans recently took control.
Mr. Romney wants you to attribute all of the shortfalls in economic policy since 2009 (and some that happened in 2008) to the man in the White House, and forget both the role of Republican-controlled state governments and the fact that Mr. Obama has faced scorched-earth political opposition since his first day in office. Basically, the G.O.P. has blocked the administration's efforts to the maximum extent possible, then turned around and blamed the administration for not doing enough.
[A]m I saying that Mr. Obama did everything he could, and that everything would have been fine if he hadn't faced political opposition? By no means. Even given the political constraints, the administration did less than it could and should have in 2009, especially on housing. Furthermore, Mr. Obama was an active participant in Washington's destructive "pivot" away from jobs to a focus on deficit reduction.
And the administration has suffered repeatedly from complacency -- taking a few months of good news as an excuse to rest on its laurels rather than hammering home the need for more action. It did that in 2010, it did it in 2011, and to a certain extent it has been doing the same thing this year too. So there is a valid critique one can make of the administration's handling of the economy.
But that's not the critique Mr. Romney is making. Instead, he's basically attacking Mr. Obama for not acting as if George Bush had been given a third term. Are the American people -- and perhaps more to the point, the news media -- forgetful enough for that attack to work? I guess we'll find out.#
Click here to view this media (h/t Scarce)
Karma, as they say, is a bitch. After six incumbent terms, some senators start feeling a little ... shall we say entitled to their seat. Funny thing, though. That sense of entitlement doesn't sit well with the tea party, especially when you haven't spent any time cow-towing to their demands. And Orrin Hatch has attracted the ire of the tea party for allegedly showing "over and over that he is for expansive government and against economic freedom." So Dick Armey's little "grassroots" organization launched a massive campaign against Sen. Hatch. And they successfully prevented him from getting the 60 percent required (by just a single percentage point) to keep from having a run off in his primary with tea party candidate Dan Liljenquist.
Hatch is feeling a little miffed at these upstarts insinuating that he's not a real conservative (according to this site?whose methodology is a little obscure?he ranks at 77 percent conservative) and went to the conservatives' favorite outlet to complain about Freedomworks and the annoying requirement that he actually run for his seat:
Sen. Hatch joined Greta Van Susteren last night to discuss the potential, now realized, of a primary challenge against him, and Sen. Hatch had some nasty words for Freedomworks and its leader, Dick Armey.
?Freedomworks, the group of Dick Armey, is gunning for you,? Van Susteren informed Sen. Hatch, who seemed to mind only what he insisted were lies from the group. ?They take a few dozen of my votes out of the better of 12,000 votes that I?ve cast, distort those votes and lie about them, direct lie about them.? He argued they were only trying to raise money. ?They take someone like myself who everybody knows and they trash Orrin Hatch and they raise a lot of money from conservatives all over the country who think what they?re saying is true.? He concluded with a flourish, ?they?re not people I have very much respect for. I don?t have any respect for them, in fact.?
Well, that makes a bunch of us, Senator. I can't name a liberal in this country that has any respect for Freedomworks either. Van Susteren looks dumbfounded that someone like Hatch could be considered not conservative enough for the people of Utah. Hatch makes the distinction that these are not conservatives but radical libertarians gunning for him. Ironically, as Think Progress points out, Dick Armey himself was not all that much more radical than Hatch when he was in office:
Prior to joining FreedomWorks in 2003, chairman Dick Armey served nine terms in Congress. Six of those debt-limit votes took place between the time Armey was elected to the House in 1984 and his retirement at the beginning of 2003. Armey voted for at least five of those six:
$179.9 billion in December 1985 (House roll call #454, 99th Congress) $448 billion in September 1987 (House roll call #330, 100th Congress) $600 billion in March 1996 (House roll call #102, 104th Congress) $450 billion in July 1997 (House roll call #241, 105th Congress) $450 billion in June 2002 (House roll call #279, 107th Congress)
Before the 2002 debt limit increase (which passed by a 215 to 214 margin ? making Armey the deciding vote, arguably), Armey gave an impassioned floor speech urging colleagues to ?do what is good for America? and back the bill.
Ah ... so Armey is a proper conservative and Hatch?with a virtually identical voting record?is not? Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, apparently. Unfortunately, the lesson learned for these entrenched politicians is that if they want their cushy seats and perks of being a senator, they better move even more towards the radical right:
It?s another example of GOP political cannibalism. It?s not enough that the Republican party has destroyed itself with one power grab after another since the 2010 midterm elections, but now they are devouring members of their own party in an attempt by the extremist factions on the Right to do the bidding of their corporate masters. As a result, traditional moderate conservatives have increasingly embraced more extremist views and postions in a pathetic attempt to hold on to their office and all the power and privilege they?ve grown accustomed to over the years.
Like I said, karma's a bitch.
Tenth Amendment Center
Dear Mr. Sheriff,
It hurts the movement when one patriot maliciously attacks another. That's especially true when the attacking patriot publicly questions the abilities of his target's mother. That's what your respected Tenth Amendment Center colleague, E. Browning Bosley, did the other day when he tweeted:
@JC_Christian Your mama won't stop giving me head. I want her to stop because, frankly, I can get better.Now, I don't know if you know what he means by "head;" I had to look it up, myself. It's one of those filthy liberal things in which a man puts his little soldier into a not-man's mouth (like Klinton got himself impeached for doing) or when he puts his tongue inside a not-man's wootywoo--some claim it also involves licking the little sailor in the boat, but we all know there ain't no such thing.