Archive for the ‘Picking sides’ category

Donald Trump: Fascist

October 27, 2016

I can’t think of another way to describe him after this* [Politico link]:

Donald Trump suggested canceling the election Thursday and granting himself the presidency.

“What a difference. You know, what a difference this is,” Trump said during a rally in Toledo, Ohio, after comparing his tax plan with Hillary Clinton’s.

“And just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump, right? What are we even having it for? What are we having it for?” he asked. “Her policies are so bad. Boy, do we have a big difference.”

Because that’s how he rolls, and how the party that nominated him would, if they could.

I got nuthin’ beyond that.

640px-joseph_mallord_william_turner_-_the_decline_of_the_carthaginian_empire_-_wga23169

Except perhaps this:  the Republican party is a wholly owned Trump subsidiary now. It must be destroyed, its walls pulled down, its proud towers cast down, its fields sown with salt.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est

*Actually, I’ve been using that label for the Cheeto-faced Ferret-heedit Shitgibbon for some time.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Image: J. W. M. Turner, The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire1817.

Gas Up Your Tumbrels

December 22, 2015

I think that this has already been discussed in a comment thread or two, but today (a) The New York Times reminded us that it can do essential, truly top-notch journalism and (b) exposed truly grotesque practices within a “justice” system that offers scant justice to anyone that doesn’t sport “Inc.” as a last name:

Encore and rival debt buyers are using the courts to sue consumers and collect debt, then preventing those same consumers from using the courts to challenge the companies’ tactics. Consumer lawyers said this strategy was the legal equivalent of debt collectors having their cake and eating it, too.

The use of arbitration by the companies is the latest frontier in a legal strategy orchestrated by corporations in recent years. By insertingarbitration clauses into the fine print of consumer contracts, they have found a way to block access to the courts and ban class-action lawsuits, the only realistic way to bring a case against a deep-pocketed corporation.

Their strategy traces to a pair of Supreme Court decisions in 2011 and 2013 that enshrined the use of class-action bans in arbitration clauses.

The result, The New York Times found in an investigation last month, is that banks, car dealers, online retailers, cellphone service providers and scores of other companies have insulated themselves from challenges to illegal or deceptive business practices. Once a class action was dismantled, court and arbitration records showed, few if any of the individual plaintiffs pursued arbitration.

Bottom feeders buy old debt.  They sue to collect.  Doesn’t matter if the debt is too old legally to collect.  Doesn’t matter if the sharks don’t have proper documentation. Doesn’t matter if they string up little old ladies by their big toes.  (Hyperbole alert).

Rembrandt_Christ_Driving_the_Money_Changers_from_the_Temple (1)

Crappy judges at the trial court level, insulated — guided — by crappy justices with robes, lifetime appointments, and no moral compasses whatsoever, make sure the Man gets his cash:

In the cases that The Times examined, judges routinely sided with debt collectors on forcing the disputes into arbitration.

In Mr. Cain’s case, Midland Funding, the unit of Encore Capital, persevered despite originally lacking a copy of a Citibank arbitration agreement they said he signed in 2003. Instead, the debt collector presented as evidence a Citibank contract that one of Encore’s lawyers signed when he opened an account.

In Mississippi, Midland Funding won a court judgment to compel Wanda Thompson to pay more than $4,700 on a debt that was too old to be collected under state law, court records show.

When Ms. Thompson filed a class-action suit on behalf of other state residents, Encore invoked an arbitration clause to have the lawsuit dismissed. Ms. Thompson’s lawyers argued that the company had clearly chosen court over arbitration when it sued her to collect the debt. By going to court, the lawyers said, Encore waived its right to compel arbitration.

Unpersuaded, the judge ruled that Encore’s lawsuit to collect the debt was separate from Ms. Thompson’s case accusing the company of violating the law.

I can’t put into words my revulsion for the people who steal from the weakest in our system, except to note that my loathing of those who enable these pen-armed robbers is far greater.  The GOP  hopes most people will be too scared of Syrians, gun-grabbers, and the Kenyan in the White House to notice who’s doing what to whom.  There’s an opening here for our side — and an obligation to take it.

Image:  Rembrandt van Rijn, Christ driving the money changers from the temple, 1626.

Up Next: The General

April 30, 2013

So — we know what’s coming up next in Massachusetts: Ed Markey vs. Gabriel Gomez.  Markey’s a 36 year veteran in the House; Gomez is an alledgedly “pure” non politician with all the attributes the national Republican Party wants to see — Latino, a former Seal, private-equity “job creating” vampire.

We’ve seen how this can play out even in not-as-liberal-as-our-rep Massachusetts.  Remember Senator Coakley?

There are real, big differences this time of course.  No Obamacare debate, nor teabagger summer of 2o09.  We’ve seen the Republican party in its howling glory a lot in the last two and half years, and Massachusetts Democrats are profoundly committed to not seeing Scott Brown II play at any multiplexes next year.  Not to mention Ed Markey isn’t Martha Coakley, for which I’m grateful indeed.  But I’m deeply mindful of what about a dozen of us heading out to canvass for Markey on Sunday heard from this guy:

Dukakis crop

Mike Dukakis was a damn good governor, and he would have made a much better president than Bush the elder.  Dukakis is particularly admirable because, in the tradition of the good guys, he hasn’t dropped out of public life or public service just because he’s not running for anything anymore.  And boy does he know his home town.

I’d never met him before, and so after we chatted for a while, he asked me where in Brookline I live.  I’m on a truly minor one block long street which boasts a grand total of, I think, seven houses that actually have addresses on our road (we’ve got a couple more on the corners that the larger through streets claim).  I said the street name and started to explain where it was and he stopped me.  “I know them all,” he said, and I believe the man.

So what did he say?  He told us to get out and knock on every door — not just Sunday, but as much as we could before today, and then again, as much as we can, over and over again between now and June 25th, the day of the general election.  We’ve seen what happens when we don’t, he reminded us — and the he said not to pay any attention to the numbers.  “I’m the guy who was 40% ahead of Ed King with five weeks to go and lost that election.”  (Quoting from memory, backed up by this interview.)

The point is obvious, right?

Ed Markey is a hard core, old fashioned liberal.  The kind of senator we need right now, in ever greater numbers.  He’s going to start out with a substantial lead.  About three times as many Democrats as Republicans voted in this primary.  Markey’s vote total alone exceeds the GOP vote for all three of their candidates.  And he can lose.  If he doesn’t campaign better than Martha Coakley did, he may well lose.  He won’t, both because I think it is actually physically impossible to do a worse job in an election than Coakley did, and because he’s not stupid.  He’s not a charismatic guy at all, but he works and works and works.  Which is all good.

But there are no guarantees.

So my wife and I will be handing over a few more bucks, and we’ll be hitting the phones and knocking on doors.  The state party’s a lot smarter than it was when it let Brown blindside everyone three years ago, and the national party isn’t going to let this one slip either.  But if any of y’all are in the area, we could use your help.  Ask Mike Dukakis.  He’ll tell you.

Why Mitt Will Lose…Or Your Modern GOP In One Line Of Arithmetic

August 2, 2012

Ezra Klein sums up the entire GOP policy approach in one ‘graf:

The reason Romney’s plan doesn’t work is very simple. The size of the tax cut he’s proposing for the rich is larger than all of the tax expenditures that go to the rich put together. As such, it is mathematically impossible for him to keep his promise to make sure the top one percent keeps paying the same or more. [bold in the original]

You can’t get simpler than that.  Mitt Romney wants to cut his taxes so much that he has only two choices left for the rest of his budget:  raise taxes on everyone else and/or allow the deficit to balloon.

I know.  Facts have a liberal bias, and numbers are f**king commies.  This is the GOP reality folks; now we get to decide if we choose to live within it.

Not much else needs saying, really, and I see that the Obama campaign is already on this one like barnacles on Romney’s yacht.  Do read the rest of Klein’s post, by the way.  It lays out the full failure of the whole Romney tax fiasco with admirable clarity. (h/t GOS)

Image:  Paul Klee, Red Balloon, 1922

Sex vs. Money: Sex Makes The Front Page; Money Counts.

December 20, 2011

So another Republican “family values” stalwart turns up gay as a goose. (h/t yuriwho at GOS)

My first reaction was that the seemingly endless GOP of sexual-bigotry-fail is becoming regular enough to resemble how I remember the what the DJ back home in the Bay Area  said about the weather for six months at a time:  “Coastal fog, extending inland night and morning, clearing by midday.”*  And then the announcer would continue,  “Oh, and you can tell its spring:  Mr. and Mr. Joe and James Doe called in this A.M. to report the first sighting of a Republican politician up in the Castro in full seasonal plumage:  chaps, suspenders and not much else.”

OK — I made that last part up, but you get the idea.

Which is to say that I’ve almost completely stopped paying attention to GOP “family values” guys’ same-sex stumbles.  Mayor Greg Davis (R) of Southaven, Miss is certainly in a heap of trouble, all of it of his own making.  The hypocrisy involved is nauseating, but surplus to requirements.  The actual governance of those involved so often contains more than ample evidence of the gap between rhetoric and action that one’s outrage circuits should trip long before we get to the queston of where the parties of the second part place their genitals.

I can’t say I’m entirely immune to the joys of schadenfreude, though.  When those most determined to crush the everyday happiness of others get caught, I do chortle a bit.  It’s not kind, I know:  all sorts of folks get hurt by the toxic collision of the closet and ambitions at odds with one’s self.  But still, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t break out a malicious grin.

This latest case, though, reminds me why that’s such a treacherously easy response.  There’s a reason I don’t care about politician’s sex  lives.  It lies hidden in plain sight in this fact in the report on Mayor Davis:

Greg Davis, the Republican mayor of Southaven, Miss., is embroiled in a spending scandal after state auditors requested receipts for $170,000 (U.S.) in improper charges he made to the city.

That’s the nub of the story.  Mississippi state officials found that Davis stole a ton of money from a town of fewer than 50,000 people.

That his spending spree included “a $67 charge at a store called Priape, which bills itself as “Canada’s premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop,”  is hardly the point.  Rather, it is that this politician used his power to rob the citizens he allegedly served.  His friends and those from whom he derived power got to share in some fine meals. (Davis is reported to be a good tipper, which I suppose is a mark in his favor, even if it was OPM that fueled his generosity.)  There was  mention of pineapple mojitos — an aesthetic error I might forgive in a friend, but not here.

And, oh yeah, one register slip for some sex toy that set him (or rather Southaven) back about .04% of the total he misappropriated.

Politicians of all parties get caught up in this sort of thievery, of course; it’s only the gay/family values thing that is distinctively a trope for the modern GOP.  But I’ll go all partisan and mean here and say that the belief that government exists not to govern, but to transfer wealth from public to private hands is clearly a GOP crusade these days.

So if simple corruption knows no party — and it doesn’t, I’ll say again — this case reminds me that the legal corruption of our politics these days does make that distinction.  Democrats are hardly blameless — not when you look at the inadequacy of the assignment of risk and loss in the banking and housing crisis, for example. But their sins are venial to the mortal ones with which the Republican party seems bent on for just one example, raising middle class taxes to preserve the tax advantages of the rich.

So, yeah, I’m still grinning about the petard explosion that has lifted the miserable Mayor Davis off the deck.  But it’s a distraction, and as such more useful to the GOP than to those fighting to reclaim even a sliver of public space from those who would rob my son of what his father enjoyed as if by right.

*I swear.  I thought the scene in L.A. Story where the Steve Martin character pre-records the weather report was, in fact, industry practice in my part of the world.  Boston, as they say, is different.

Image:  John James Audubon, American Robin c. 1832.

Sanity in Texas!

August 30, 2011

Dallas, even! Home of Mark Cuban

Now, Cuban’s politics are generally a bit bonkers, to put it excessively kindly — he is, (wait for it) a Randian, seemingly of the high-functioning sort, and endorsed Michael Bloomberg in the 2008 election (sic!)  This time around, he’s signed on to one of those centrist third party rich-guys’ playgrounds so beloved of Thomas Friedman.

At the same time, he isn’t frothing at the mouth about the current President.  He complains that the Obama administration has been insufficiently transparent, which may be true, but would be a low-on-my-list concern given what’s happening in, you know, reality.

But, even if Cuban were born at night, it wasn’t last night.  None of the GOPsters running impress him, he says, because “all of them are just spouting ‘doctrine'”….

That’s one word for it, but at least he noticed.

What caught my eye in that interview, though, wasn’t the horse-race stuff, nor his transparent (and justified) pleasure in his Dallas Mavericks’ defeat of “the Evil Empire,” Miami. (Pat Riley = Sauron — works for me.)

Rather, here’s the guy who became the supermodel-on-the-wall of every dot-com geek when in 1999, he sold his company, Broadcast.com, with all of its mighty $13.5 million in quarterly revenue sales, to Yahoo, in exchange for $6.5 billion in stock.  And then he took the necessary next step, turning a ton of that stock into cash fast.

So, lucky, good, and filthy rich.  And he wants to pay his share to the country in which his success could occur:

Cuban did say he agrees with Warren Buffett’s recent assertion that the wealthiest Americans should pay more taxes.

“He’s right,” Cuban said. “Not only should we pay more taxes . . . there should not be a differentiation between capital gains and regular income.”

Well yeah.  More of this please — backed by lobbying money to defend the principle.

Image:  Francisco de Goya, Las Gigantillas, 1791-1792

August 4, 2011

So, just to follow up last night’s post, here’s my first attempt to be heard on what might come of the Catfood Commission redux the new joint Congressional committee on debt reduction:

Dear Senator Reid,

I write to ask you to commit to appointing as members of the so-called “Super Congress” committee on debt reduction only Democrats committed to revenue raising and tax reform as an essential, non-negotiable part of the deal.

We’ve already heard from your counterparts in the GOP:  they will appoint only those who oppose any tax revenue in the final package.  That’s both bad (disastrous) policy and bad politics for any Democrat.  We need to counter with strength the other side’s scorched-earth approach to every political dispute.  Right now, that means a committee composed of people who will not give on what both our country and our party desperately needs:  powerful voices defending the idea that when our country needs help, everyone, including (especially) the richest and most fortunate among us must rise to the occasion.

Don’t treat this as business as it used to be usual, where you could sit down with your counterparts and cut a reasonably equitable deal.  If the events of the last few weeks have taught us anything, it’s that those days are gone.

Act accordingly, or the country and our political fortunes as Democrats in 2012 will suffer terribly.

I don’t say it’s great prose, but of course, anyone who wants to grab any of it is more than welcome.  Reid’s contact page is here.  The GOS’s piece on this, from which I got that contact, is here.

Volume counts, both in decibels and amount.  So in your copious spare time, write the notes — to your own senators (Democrats on this issue, of course), representatives, the leadership, the White House, your local newspapers and so on.

A last thought:  several commenters in the thread from last night expressed some variation on the “it-doesn’t-matter because either the two parties are functionally the same, or the Democrats must necessarily cave/lose” theme.

Maybe so, but if ever there was a self-fulfilling prediction, that is one.

Image:  Gerard von Honthorst, Solon and Croesus, 1624.

Won’t Get Fooled Again…and Again.

August 3, 2011

As readers of this blog know all too well, the debt ceiling “cuts” just passed are, for the most part, much less than meets the eye, particularly in the immediate future.  But, of course, the debt isn’t the issue and never was.*

No. Not even in a little bit.

Rather, all of the last month or so was a set up for this:

Thousands of Tea Party movement activists are expected to descend this month on town hall meetings across key battleground states as part of an intensifying campaign ahead of the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Their priority is a plan to slash Medicare costs proposed by House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which could gain momentum now that a debt-limit deal between President Barack Obama and Congress has made potential Medicare cuts a centerpiece of the deficit debate.

A new congressional committee charged with finding $1.5 trillion in spending cuts by November 23 is expected to focus on Medicare, and the program would see automatic cuts if the committee failed to reach agreement, or if Congress did not approve its recommendations by December 23. Market values of companies that depend on Medicare spending fell more than 10 percent in a sell-off on Wall Street after the agreement.

“The August town halls are going to be, potentially, a referendum on Democrats who don’t care and Republicans who’ve dared to offer real policy solutions, particularly on things like entitlements,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, the small-government advocacy group organizing the initiative.

Freedom works is, of course, this grass-roots organization.

Which means that one can readily translate the phrase, “real policy solutions” as “transfer payments from most of America to the richest few.”

But of course, these are the serious people in this discussion.  Just ask them:

“The Ryan plan is the only one out there so far, and what we need is an adult conversation with all politicians talking about the real issues,” [said Kibbe]

Yeah:  like those adult conversations that attended the discussion of health care last time around.

Also, note the big lie at the heart of this claim:  (a) that the Ryan is a “policy solution” despite the fact that it neither saves any real money on either the budget nor in health care spending society-wide  (as opposed to federal spending on health care);  (b) that it is the only plan out there; and (c) that it has anything to do with fiscal prudence.

Not exactly, as Jon Chait writes at the link above,

…this more modest deficit reduction would mask a very large redistribution of wealth–and not the kind Republicans always accuse Democrats of trying. The tax cuts, which include reductions in the top rate, would overwhelmingly benefit the rich. The spending cuts, which include a huge reduction in Medicaid spending, would primarily affect the poor.

So calling the House Republican plan a deficit reduction scheme is a very misleading description of its likely effect for the first decade. You’re better off calling it a regressive redistribution plan that happens, as a side effect, to reduce deficits by a small amount. Or you can just call it “flimflam,” like Paul Krugman did.

And, of course, that’s what has always been the goal:  to repeal the New Deal, and transfer to the kind of folks funding Greedhead Freedom Works all the wealth thus no longer wasted on the undeserving poor, the middle class, and, hell, just about everybody.

So: our job is to show up, and shout — in person, in letters to the editor, and in communication to our representatives, relevant committee chairs and the White House:  no tax cuts in any deal.  Tax reform as a 1-1 or better fix for the deficit reduction to which we are now, sadly and prematurely, committee;  and touch neither Medicare/Medicaid nor Social Security.

We need to say it over and over again:  cost controls as part of a Medicare reform package are fine (as Krugman himself argued for in the first round of Ryan nonsense).  Amazingly, that’s just what happens to be one of the major ideas within the one truly serious policy plan out there on this subject, the health care reform package already passed.  It’s why IPAB exists, for one thing, and it’s why, as David Leonhardt pointed out, President Obama and his allies constructed a health care approach that turns on taxation of the rich to cover the cost of a program vital to the middle class and the poor.**

I urge everyone who has raced to conclude that Obama is no better than the GOP alternatives to go back to that Leonhardt piece and remember why that’s simply bullsh*t.

Obama, for all his errors and his damnably frustrating inability to make the bully pulpit ring, believes in the New Deal.  He grasps the importance of economic equity not simply as a matter of justice, but as a hard pragmatic necessity if we are to create a sustainably wealthy society.  He has defended the importance of government and governance in the maintenance of truly civil society.  Your modern GOP does not accept any of that.

I remember trying and failing to talk Naderite friends out of their “the two parties are the same” nonsense in 2000.  We cannot survive doing that to ourselves in 2012.  And, just to get started, this summer we’ve got to shout down those who shout to sell out our parents, our children, our communities and ourselves to fund the mansions of the rootless rich.

*except for the truly credulous.

**BTW — one of the best pieces of media news of the last several years is that Leonhardt will take over the Washington bureau of The New York Times as of this fall.  He’s in the Village but not of it, and if he leads the Washington coverage of the Times as well as he’s performed on his own economic beat, that’s a very good thing.

Image Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Schlemihls [A Loser] in the loneliness of the room, before 1938

In the Integer-Based Community

June 21, 2011

I’ll give that unnamed Bush staffer credit.*  It is possible to create an alternate reality — if only for a time — given the willing complicity of all those watching (and transmitting) the useful fantasies of the powerful.  Just look at the success the Koch brothers’ subsidiary political arm, aka the GOP et al. have had in persuading so many that wealth transfers to the rich are the solution to all ills.

Hence the significance Bruce Bartlett’s entry today in The New York Times Economix Blog, in which the former Reagan, Bush I, Ron Paul and Jack Kemp policy advisor writes that, in essence, the entire Republican presidential field is lying about taxes to the American people.

He doesn’t quite put it that way — but he comes pretty close:

For years, Republicans have [said] …over and over again that taxes in the United States are exceptionally high and the primary obstacle to growth, and that a huge tax cut would do more to raise growth than any other policy.

For example, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has proposed reducing the top statutory income tax rate on individuals to 25 percent and abolishing the taxation of interest, dividends and capital gains. The Tax Policy Center estimates that this plan would reduce federal revenues by $8 trillion over the next decade.

Governor Pawlenty contends that unprecedented growth will result — to such an extent that there will actually be no revenue loss at all.

I am not picking on Governor Pawlenty; all of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination support similar policies, and not one has criticized him for making outlandish claims.

Yup — that’s as card-carrying a conservative (per commenter wvng below) stalwart as you can get, stating as fact (which it is) that the fundamental Republican position on tax policy is “outlandish.”

__

Now this is, or ought to be obvious.

Bartlett here is actually responding to critics of an earlier post in which he made the following points:

The economic importance of statutory tax rates is blown far out of proportion by Republicans looking for ways to make taxes look high when they are quite low. And they almost never note that the statutory tax rate applies only to the last dollar earned or that the effective tax rate is substantially lower even for the richest taxpayers and largest corporations because of tax exclusions, deductions, credits and the 15 percent top rate on dividends and capital gains.

The many adjustments to income permitted by the tax code, plus alternative tax rates on the largest sources of income of the wealthy, explain why the average federal income tax rate on the 400 richest people in America was 18.11 percent in 2008, according to the Internal Revenue Service, down from 26.38 percent when these data were first calculated in 1992. Among the top 400, 7.5 percent had an average tax rate of less than 10 percent, 25 percent paid between 10 and 15 percent, and 28 percent paid between 15 and 20 percent.

The truth of the matter is that federal taxes in the United States are very low. There is no reason to believe that reducing them further will do anything to raise growth or reduce unemployment.

Remember, this is just propaganda from  your typical liberal conservative economist with longstanding ties to reliably anti-tax members of the Republican party.  Also, note, that along the way in that post Bartlett called out the conservative punditocracy as, again, liars:

Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal recently asserted that Democrats were trying to raise the top income tax rate to 62 percent from 35 percent. But most of the difference between these two rates is the payroll tax and state taxes that are already in existence. The rest consists largely of assuming tax increases that no one has formally proposed and that would be politically impossible to enact at the present time.

Ryan Chittum, in Columbia Journalism Review, responded with a commentary that called the Moore analysis “deeply disingenuous.”

Nevertheless, one routinely hears variations of the Moore argument from conservative commentators. By contrast, one almost never hears that total revenues are at their lowest level in two or three generations as a share of G.D.P. or that corporate tax revenues as a share of G.D.P. are the lowest among all major countries.

This is what apparantly appalled Bartlett’s readers, and this is what prompted him to … well, not defend himself, but to double down on the key point:

A typical middle-class family, on the other hand, is paying less in federal taxes than it has since 1967. Its marginal rate is also down substantially since it peaked in 1982 at 31.7 percent. The well-to-do family, too, has seen its average and marginal tax rates decline substantially.

Of course, these data do not prove that taxes are not too high. That is a subjective judgment related to issues of fairness and the value that people assign to the government benefits they receive in return. Many in the Tea Party talk as if the value of government is zero; consequently, they would probably complain about any tax level above zero.

Nevertheless, it is clear that federal taxes have not been rising and are, at least in historical terms, lower for most taxpayers than they have been since the 1960s.

There is a famous line from the history of mathematics:  “God made the integers.  All else is the work of man.”

That quote has had plenty of glosses, but let me appropriate it here to describe what Bartlett has just done.  We have real numbers about taxes.  We know what they are, and Bartlett in both of the cited posts provides handy historical references to allow any reader to trace the trajectory of those numbers.  They are facts, chunks of experience quantified, and they have autonomy:  Moore’s claim that a 35% rate is really a 62% rate is not a matter of interpretation; it’s just wrong.

But, of course — as Moore’s sin illustrates — what we do with such numbers,  the calculations we perform, the conclusions we draw from them, the interpretations we derive or force on them, why, all those are down to us.  It’s no god’s nor FSM’s fault when we turn the actual knowledge we have into fashion accessories cloaking choices too ugly to pass unadorned.

That’s what Bartlett, seemingly now irrevocably committed to the reality — or perhaps, better —  the integer-based community, is actually saying here.  To reiterate:  a leading conservative policy thinker and economist has just demonstrated that the entire Republican presidential field is talking nonsense about fundamental economic policy.  The implication couldn’t be more clear:  if these views gain direct power over US policy, WASF, even more than usual.

The question, which so far answers itself, is whether or not the media as a whole, and not just some (albeit prominent) blog-contributor, will pick up on this theme, and present the choice in 2012 as that between destructive fantasy and reality.

I live in hope, but not in expectation.

Bartlett himself demonstrates why.  This is the very last line of his post:

Those who assert that taxes are rising or are at confiscatory levels simply do not know what they are talking about.

That may be true of some — but people like Pawlenty or Romney or Gingrich, any of them, really, have no such excuse.  Pawlenty governed a state for two terms.  Romney, we are told, is a smart money man.  You get the point.  They do know what they are talking about, and they choose to divorce themselves from the facts.

These are not potential Presidents.

Factio Grandaeva Delenda Est.

*Said to be Karl Rove.

Images:  Vincent van Gogh, The Corridor at the Asylum, 1889.

Martina Schettina, Fibonacci’s Dream, 2008.

Time to Go Viral: Mark Twain Was Right/Eight False “Facts” On Which To Fight This Election

October 24, 2010

Via Digby, I came across Dave Johnson’s essential piece, “Eight False Things  The Public “Knows” Prior to Election Day.”

Here’s the link, and here’s the core of the post:

1) President Obama tripled the deficit.
Reality: Bush’s last budget had a $1.416 trillion deficit. Obama’s first budgetreduced that to $1.29 trillion.

2) President Obama raised taxes, which hurt the economy.
Reality: Obama cut taxes. 40% of the “stimulus” was wasted on tax cuts which only create debt, which is why it was so much less effective than it could have been.

3) President Obama bailed out the banks.
Reality: While many people conflate the “stimulus” with the bank bailouts, the bank bailouts were requested by President Bush and his Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson. (Paulson also wanted the bailouts to be “non-reviewable by any court or any agency.”) The bailouts passed and began before the 2008 election of President Obama.

4) The stimulus didn’t work.
Reality: The stimulus worked, but was not enough. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus raised employment by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

5) Businesses will hire if they get tax cuts.
Reality: A business hires the right number of employees to meet demand. Having extra cash does not cause a business to hire, but a business that has a demand for what it does will find the money to hire. Businesses want customers, not tax cuts.

6) Health care reform costs $1 trillion.
Reality: The health care reform reduces government deficits by $138 billion.

7) Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, is “going broke,” people live longer, fewer workers per retiree, etc.
Reality: Social Security has run a surplus since it began, has a trust fund in the trillions, is completely sound for at least 25 more years and cannot legally borrow so cannot contribute to the deficit (compare that to the military budget!) Life expectancy is only longer because fewer babies die; people who reach 65 live about the same number of years as they used to.

8) Government spending takes money out of the economy.
Reality: Government is We, the People and the money it spends is on We, the People. Many people do not know that it is government that builds the roads, airports, ports, courts, schools and other things that are the soil in which business thrives. Many people think that all government spending is on “welfare” and “foreign aid” when that is only a small part of the government’s budget.

This stuff really matters.

Yes it does.  I stole as much as I did of Johnson’s work because it matters so very much.  Go to his place to read the whole thing.  Then steal it too.  Let’s make this thing go as viral as we can in the nine days we have left.  I’m just sick of this election turning on lies; I’m sick of our country being bought and sold on the cheap.  Time to hit the bad guys every way we can — the high road, with facts like these…and Aqua Buddha too, over and over again….

So:  I’m going to twitter this, I’m going to stick the reference in every open thread of the blogs I visit that I can, and I urge those of you with the stomach for the comment threads on the other side of the fence to post it there too.  Post it in comment threads at MSM newspapers, at the CNN sites and so on.  Maybe we can get someone who hasn’t quite lost their mind to the other side to read it, and vote accordingly.

BTW:  for those who aren’t up on your Mark Twain aphorisms/cliches, the reference in the title is to this quote:

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble.  It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.

That quote alone would make him the patron saint of much of what this blog is about — so in homage, this image:

Just a bit of homage, ya know.  Not bad for a man of 48.  I should look so good….

Image:  Mark Twain shirtless, c. 1883.