At a forum on education policy on Tuesday morning, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched into an unexpected explanation of why big money should be kept out of our political system: I just think that the most important aspect in being able to have a productive relationship between the teachers’ unions and the districts in [...]
Lady Republicans will take away your rights,
but at least they'll feel sorta bad about it.Oh, what have we here? Why, it's another Republican who thinks if you say "women" a lot, you can totally wrap up the lady vote.
Linda McMahon, Senate candidate in Connecticut, may be a Republican, and she may be opposed to women having access to basic health care, but that doesn't mean she's opposed to women having access to health care, says her campaign:
?McMahon is pro-choice, supports women?s reproductive health issues, and believes that all women should be able to use and have access to birth control,? the Republican campaign said in a statement.Well, that sure is big of her, isn't it? Just one teeny tiny little problem with that:
McMahon has publicly expressed her support, albeit somewhat tepidly, for an amendment introduced earlier this year by Missouri Republican Roy Blunt in the Senate. That measure would have given not just religious organizations but all employers the ability to opt out of paying for contraception as part of their health care plans. The employer exemption died along party lines in the Senate.Shorter McMahon: I totally would have voted to let employers deny basic health care to women, but I sure woulda felt bad about it so vote for me, ladies!
"I said I would have reluctantly supported it," McMahon said. "This is not a question about contraception. This is about separation of church and state. I just think that was an overreach and an overstep by government."
Hell of a strategy to try to get those women to believe she's not just another typical anti-woman Republican, isn't it?
Contrast McMahon's "reluctant" support of allowing the Catholic Church to veto women's health care with her Democratic opponent, Chris Murphy:
"I respect the wishes of the Catholic Church, but when they operate hospitals that are being run with more than 50 percent of taxpayer dollars, I think they should afford basic health care protections to all of their employees," Murphy said. "I think it's a different story if it's a church or a religious school where you're employing only members of your religious organization."
"Somebody's got to explain to Linda McMahon that there's only two buttons next to your desk," Murphy said. "There's a green button and a red button. You can't have it both ways. It is unbelievable that a candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut could be running on a platform of ending insurance coverage for birth control for millions of women in this country."
Unbelievable is right. But that's today's Republican Party for you, isn't it? Let's send a real advocate for women to the Senate, one whose support for basic health care isn't "reluctant."
According to a new survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, most Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare doubt the program’s ability to support their health coverage by the time they turn 65. Eighty percent of respondents reported that they doubted they will be able to afford healthcare when they are on Medicare, [...]
We can now say with some degree of certainty that foreclosure mitigation plans, as conceived for the crisis years, didn’t work. All we have to do is look at the money allocated for the programs relative to the money paid out. Three and a half[...]
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When Mitt Romney linked the "Lower 47" who do not pay federal income taxes and are "dependent" on government with those who "do not take responsibility for their own lives," he was not only confessing an unfamiliarity with the American people (including his own Republican base) that was appalling for someone who's been running for president these past six years, he was also exhibiting a plutocratic, Master Class worldview that has not been this overt and unapologetic since the Gilded Age.
To listen to Romney declaim on the relationship between the individual and the state at his $50,000-a-plate Boca Raton fundraiser last May, you almost expected him at any moment to blurt out his loathing for "the masses" so as to keep faith with his robber baron antecedents.
The Progressive Movement at the turn of the 20th century was a massive reaction, led by such reformers as Teddy Roosevelt (who've since been run out of the Tea Party Republican Party), to correct the imbalance between human rights and property rights that distinguished a period in our history when a small plutocratic elite managed to segregate itself from the rest of society after fattening their fortunes on that collectivist government stimulus program known as the Civil War.
And as the imperatives of protecting those fortunes against democratic control grew more urgent, so too did the intemperateness of those doctrines used by plutocrats to justify and preserve their ill-won fortunes.
Among them were ideas about the absolute "sanctity" of private property and contracts that were embraced by the reactionary Supreme Court of this era to strike down the federal income tax, to declare workplace safety regulations unconstitutional and to treat labor unions as criminal syndicates. Prevalent, too, were the survival-of-the-fittest ideas of doctrinaires like Herbert Spencer, whose conception of "freedom" was so severe it disqualified government from even protecting patients against injury from quacks on grounds of caveat emptor.
For people who know their history, it's been unsettling to hear echoes of these long-discredited nostrums from more than a century ago expressed by current Republican leaders like the Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, who says the 1964 Civil Rights Act was wrong to make it against the law for owners of private property - whether motels, hotels, restaurants, theaters or other "public" accommodations - to refuse service to patrons based on race, religion or other invidious distinctions.
What's mine is mine and no one can tell me what I can do with it, least of all the government, is the attitude of Rand Paul and others who think like him - including, when you hear him talk about corporations as being "people too" or when he denigrates those dependent on government as not being worth his time, the man running for President of the United States on the Republican ticket.
But the dirty little secret the Top 1% don't want you to know is that no one is more dependent on government than the property-owning rich. I am not talking here about the myriad waivers, subsidies, deductions, no-bid contracts and other forms of "corporate welfare" to which the wealthy regularly indulge. I am talking about the basis upon which they stand atop the American social pyramid -- the nature and origin of "private" property itself.
Private property is not a naturally occurring phenomenon. There is no such thing as private property in the jungle, or that place called the State of Nature out of which humans pulled themselves when they came together to form governments for their mutual protection and convenience.
Before there were states, whatever private property there was consisted of what the strongest and most ruthless were able to grab for themselves and protect against trespassers by building high castle walls around it which they defended using mercenaries called knights.
But the idea of "property" that we comprehend today - especially the intangible kind based on paper agreements or good ideas - is entirely a creation of the modern state and its ability to confer certain "rights" the "owner" is entitled to exercise and which others are compelled to honor and observe through the agency of government.
The idea that we should "let the market decide" by keeping government out of our economic arrangements entirely makes no more logical sense than when Tea Party Republicans disrupted congressional town hall forums to demand the government "keep its damned hands off my Medicare." That is because markets, like property, are creatures of the state and could not exist without the rules and regulations the state creates to define and govern them.
Perhaps "a solitary man cast ashore on an undiscovered island could be said to have freedom without law," writes Walter Lippmann in The Good Society. But to think there is any aspect of work or private property that has ever been unregulated by law, or that there are two fields of social activity - "one of anarchy and one of law" - is an error so obvious as to seem "grotesque," he says.
Every transaction you can think of involving buyers and sellers, workers and employers, owners of property and those who wish to dispossess them of that property implicates the state at every point and tests the state's willingness "to enforce certain rights and to protect certain immunities," says Lippmann.
Giving capitalism its due, Lippmann said it was no coincidence that the century which followed the "intensified application" of free market principles was also "the greatest century of human emancipation" in world history, where serfdom and chattel slavery, the subjugation of women, legalized class privileges and other injustices "were outlawed in the human conscience and in a very substantial degree abolished in fact."
But to therefore propose there exists some hypothetical "realm of freedom where men worked, bought and sold goods, made contracts and owned property" without any recourse to government or its ability to right wrongs was to imagine a society in which its members were forever consigned to be "helpless apologists for all the abuses and miseries" that might accompany such a laissez faire capitalist regime.
When people assumed the law was silent and that private property was part of some "natural, God-given order" instead of a man-made one constructed out of the raw material of law, they were left with a philosophy of governing so feeble that it could only offer a Hobbesian Choice between "joyous acceptance of intolerable conditions and injustice or stoic resignation."
Yet, far from defending certain Natural laws, or "laws of the market," said Lippmann, what apologists for unregulated capitalism were really defending were the "self-regarding innovations introduced by the successful and powerful classes in society."
And when you listen to conservatives today it quickly becomes apparent that those functions which facilitate the ability of private property owners to make a profit pretty much exhaust the list of government powers conservatives are willing to accept as legitimate, whether it is the power of the police to protect property here at home, or the strength of a military to protect markets overseas, or the ability of state and federal courts staffed by right-thinking judges to privilege capital over labor.
The genius of the American Republic, however, as writers like E.J. Dionne, Jr. have written is the fusion Americans have managed to achieve between individualism and community.
From the beginning, says Dionne, Americans have been "communitarian individualists or individualistic communitarians" without being fully comfortable with either. Instead, he says, America's deepest traditions concern the balance and interplay "between the public and the private spheres, between government and the marketplace, and between our love of individualism and our quest for community."
And nowhere is this creative balance between individual rights and community responsibilities more in evidence than how we think about, and treat, private property.
It is this tradition that conservatives who claim to represent American values have broken faith with in their single-minded obsession with lower taxes, fewer regulations, less government -- and little else.
I am already barricading myself against the avalanche of abuse I expect to get from conservatives who will charge that what I am about to say indelibly marks me as a "socialist." But I find I am in agreement with the great 18th century legal theorist, William Blackstone, when he said the only justification for "private" property" is as a "public" good.
There is nothing inherently "sacred" about private property, said Blackstone, nor is there any "absolute" right to ownership since at the end of the day "the earth and all things therein are the general property of all mankind, exclusive of other beings, from the immediate gift of the creator."
The purpose for laws that give everything "capable of ownership a legal and determinate owner," said Blackstone, is not to satisfy the greed of acquisitive men but to promote "the grand ends of civil society."
As a community, in other words, we allow portions of our natural estate to be "owned" by particular individuals so that "the earth may be enjoyed most fully" by everyone, Lippmann says.
The grounds for honoring "private" property, then, are utilitarian not metaphysical or theological as so many conservatives insist. And Blackstone's insistence that the ultimate title to any piece of land or natural resource does not lie with the nominal "owner" per se but with all mankind "as a corporate community" is surely what the philosopher John Rawls meant in his magisterial A Theory of Justice when he said the only acceptable justification for inequality of conditions is that the least well-off gain in the bargain and become less poor the more the rich become richer.
That was the original justification, in fact, for a supply-side, trickle-down economics that promised general benefits for all provided we give massive tax cuts to a few.
But the rich backed out of this bargain once it became clear the actual returns of supply-side economics were not so good for the bottom 47% -- or even the middle class. It was at that point Ayn Rand and her ideas about the morality of capitalism, the virtues of selfishness, the superiority of Job Creators and the idea that taxes were theft and government itself an organized conspiracy began to enjoy their literary renaissance on the Right.
Rand's ideas of a government-enforced right to "absolute private property" inevitably produced grave damage to the owner's neighbors and descendants, as Lippmann observed.
Owners unconstrained by law ruined the soil, said Lippmann, they burned and cut forests, they polluted streams and killed wildlife, they cornered markets and formed monopolies, they held land and resources out of use (just as corporations are doing now when they sit on $2 trillion in un-invested cash) and they exploited the "feeble bargaining power of wage earners," just as Republicans are doing when they dismantle worker unions.
And because laissez faire conservatives privileged property rights over human rights they had no practical remedy for these "intolerable evils," as Lippmann called them, because "they had lost the tradition that property is the creation of the law for social purposes."
Today, the Top 1% earn one-quarter of all national income and control 42% of all financial wealth while the top 5% own nearly 70% of all US assets. So, the next time you hear Mitt Romney or some other representative of the property-owning class talk disdainfully about those who are "dependent on government," ask yourself if these people have a clue where their property comes from or who among us is really the most reliant on the state.
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Even "unskewed" polling can't make this guy likable.Romney:
I know something about polls, and you can ask questions and get any answer you want.Oh yeah? Prove it!
Find us a poll that shows that people like you.
Scott Brown staffers mock Elizabeth Warren with tomahawk chops and Indian war chant. [...]
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President Barack Obama, followed by Chaplain Colonel J. Wesley Smith and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, walks towards the podium during the transfer of remains ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 14, 2012, marking the return to[...]
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Paul Ryan on packers game: “give me a break! it is time to get the real refs.”— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) September 25, 2012“The integrity of the game is at stake here.” – Rush LimbaughTHE PACKERS game last night and the[...]
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CALLING FORMER President Bill Clinton “… tireless, passionate advocate…”, President Obama said he was “grateful for your friendship… a great treasure for all of us.” Obama’s speech focused on human[...]
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