Conservatives turned into modern art


Ron Paul:The Physical Impossibility of Liberty in the Mind of Someone Running for Executive Office, Damien Hirst
 
The Tumblr is called Post-Libertarian and it touts itself to be:

“A critical examination of conceptualist neodeconstructive theory within radical neoliberalism.”

Quite a mouthful. What I think they mean is “Here’s a collection of some amusing modern art détournement featuring some right wing weenies…”
 

Reagan and Thatcher: The Defense Hawks, Edward Hopper
 

Ted Cruz: “Cruz Diptych, Andy Warhol”
 

Ayn Rand: Fountainhead, Marcel Duchamp
 

Chris Christie: The Drowning Governor, Roy Lichtenstein
 
Via BuzzFeed

Written by Tara McGinley | Discussion
‘Sensational’ Sex Scandal said to have rocked UK Government

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The Mail on Sunday is more than a little coy about a story on its front cover today, which claims:

No.10 rocked by secret love affair: ‘Stunned’ PM holds crisis talks over fears tryst will ‘blow political agenda out of the water’

The paper refuses to give details of this “sensational love affair” for “legal reasons” but says it does not involve anyone serving in Cabinet. But the scandal is “dynamite,” and “If the affair is revealed, it is likely to cause as much public surprise as the disclosure of the relationship between [former Prime Minister] John Major and [politician] Edwina Currie, which was kept secret for nearly two decades until 2002.”

The MOS begins the story as follows:

David Cameron has held crisis talks at Downing Street after being told of allegations of a sensational love affair which has potentially significant political implications for him.

For legal reasons, The Mail on Sunday cannot disclose the identities of the people involved or any details of the relationship – even its duration – other than that they are middle-aged figures. The affair has now concluded.

But this newspaper can report that when aides told Mr Cameron the identities of the alleged lovers he was ‘stunned’, and, according to sources, ‘immediately realised the importance of the story’.

The Prime Minister and his aides also discussed the possible fallout should details of the affair become public – and how such disclosure could ‘blow out of the water’ any major political set pieces planned by No 10.

One senior source told this newspaper last night: ‘This revelation is dynamite. None of us could believe it when we first heard it. Then we just thought, “What a complete mess”.’

The source added that, apart from the political implications, the revelation had caused ‘great personal distress to innocent parties’.

It is understood that the Prime Minister was told of the relationship - which does not involve anyone serving in the Cabinet - within the past few weeks.

The whole story suggests more than it offers, and as many of the “Conservative faithful” want rid of David Cameron, it would appear the Mail on Sunday may have the whiff of something which may expedite this sooner rather than later.

At 16.00 BST, there has been no coverage of this story on any of the UK television news networks—BBC, ITV and Sky News.

Only the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian have given the story any coverage.

The Telegraph, contradicts one of MOS assertions, by quoting a government spokesperson who declares:

“There have been no crisis talks or meetings.”

As a topical aside, the Telegraph ran a story, a few years back, about a survey on who would have an affair with a Downing Street politician.

Meanwhile, Roy Greenslade in his Guardian blog, is at a loss to explain the who, what, when, where, why, of the story, and can only conclude:

Of course, it could be nothing more than journalistic hype, but I somehow doubt that. It’s not in the nature of the MoS editor, Geordie Greig.

So what’s it all about? What “legal reasons” prevent us from knowing more? Is there an injunction in place, an anonymised injunction possibly?

I have asked and, as yet, no answers. I would guess that the MoS’s lawyers have advised those in the know to say no more.

Whatever the nature of this “sensational” story, it would appear that it is one, which will run and run—until the “truth” is out, and the political agenda behind the headlines has been done.

Read the whole MOS story here.

Another tale of interest, is this one regarding a past 10 Downing Street scandal involving 2 non cabinet members, which led to calls for resignation.
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Glenda Jackson denounces ‘heinous’ Thatcherism in House of Commons tirade

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For a moment, I thought I was watching a film—perhaps a re-make of Peter Barnes’ The Ruling Class? You know the scene where a demented Jack Gurney, 14th Earl of Gurney (Peter O’Toole) gives an insane speech in favor of the death penalty to a parliamentary chamber that is received with the most rapturous applause from his decrepit audience, the literal-living dead—the rotten, skeletal, cobweb-covered corpses of the House of Lords?

This was the only way I could make sense of what I was watching, as the British House of Commons gathered at a specially convened session to eulogize the evil dead—Margaret Thatcher.

By turn, all three leaders (Cameron, Clegg, Miliband) of the main electoral parties (Conservative, Liberal, Labour) praised the politician whose policies callously attacked the poorest, the weakest and least able, destroyed families, communities and industries, divided a country, and created mass unemployment for generations of Brits.

The vile stench of greed, hypocrisy and fear was almost palpable, as each bland politician paid homage to evils of Thatcher and Thatcherism.

I suffered through more than 3 years of unemployment during the Thatcher era—and know first hand, the evil Thatcherism inflicted on the UK. And yet today the faceless, forgettable MPs came to sing her highest praises.

Thank goodness then, to Glenda Jackson, the former actress-turned-politician (MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, London), who did not follow the sheep, but stood up and told the British Parliament the truth about Margaret Thatcher and her evil policies.

“There was a heinous social, economic and spiritual damage wreaked upon this country, upon my constituency and my constituents.”

“I tremble to think what the death rate for pensioners would have been this week if that version of Thatcherism had been fully up and running this year.”

“By far the most dramatic and heinous demonstration of Thatcherism was not only in London but across the whole country in metropolitan areas, where every single shop doorway, every single night, became the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom for the homeless.”

Ms. Jackson went on to explain how Thatcherism promoted the vices of greed and selfishness as virtues.

“That everything I had been taught was a as vice, and I still regard them as vices, under Thatcherism was a virtue.”

“Greed, selfishness, no care for the weaker. Sharp elbows and sharp knees, this was the way forward.”

“People saw the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

“What concerns me is that I am beginning to see possibly the re-emergence of that total traducing of what I regard as the basic spiritual nature of this country—where we do care about society, where we do believe in communities, where we do not leave people to walk by on the other side.”

If only more Members of Parliament, these so-called elected representatives of the people, were as honest and as courageous as Glenda Jackson was today, then there would be genuine hope for a better tomorrow.
 

 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Shameless Tory Lies?: A spoonful of Twaddle helps the Clap-trap go down

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It was George Orwell who explained that “Political language. . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Well, there’s certainly been a lot of wind expelled by the Conservatives this week in their lap dog press.

The Daily Twaddle-graph has been putting about a bogus claim that two-thirds of British millionaires have become tax exiles because of the last Labour government’s introduction of a 50% tax on salaries over £150,000.

The paper quotes Tory MP, Harriet Baldwin who claims the 50p tax led to a “cull” of millionaires and has cost up to £7billion in lost revenue.

Since most of us have never heard of Ms. Baldwin, let me explain who she is: “the backbencher with blond hair and a brown nose,” who once presented “a magnificent display of oleaginous toadying” during prime minister’s questions when she inquired of Mr. Cameron, ‘Can I praise the prime minister’s staunch support …?’

Ms. Baldwin’s tax claims are loosely based on figures released by the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs, which apparently reveal a disparity between the number of millionaires paying tax on their incomes.

The figures show that more than 16,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million for the 2009-10 tax year.

But after the previous Labour government introduced the new 50 pence in the pound top rate of income tax shortly before the 2010 General Election, only 6,000 people declared an annual income of more than £1 million.

This figure has now risen to 10,000 after current Chancellor George Osborne announced in his budget speech in March 2012, there will be a reduction in the top tax rate to 45 pence commencing in April 2013.

Sniffing the whiff of a story, the Conservatives seized on this information to claim that “increasing the highest rate of tax actually led to a loss in revenues for the Government.” As the Daily Telegraph reported:

It is believed that rich Britons moved abroad or took steps to avoid paying the new levy by reducing their taxable incomes.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, announced in the Budget earlier this year that the 50p top rate will be reduced to 45p from next April.

Since the announcement, the number of people declaring annual incomes of more than £1 million has risen to 10,000.

However, the number of million-pound earners is still far below the level recorded even at the height of the recession and financial crisis.

Last night, Harriet Baldwin, the Conservative MP who uncovered the latest figures, said: “Labour’s ideological tax hike led to a tax cull of millionaires. Far from raising funds, it actually cost the UK £7 billion in lost tax revenue.

“Labour now needs to admit that their policies resulted in millionaires paying less tax and come clean about whether they would reintroduce this failed policy if they were in power.”

This is a case of 2 + 2 = 5.

Which is something we may come to expect from Harriett Baldwin who, as a novice MP, has previously been corrected on her spurious claims about workless households.

But it’s not just Baldwin, the Daily Telegraph has to take a good part of the blame for printing such a “bizarre”, “bogus” and misleading story.

As Richard Murphy, at Tax Research, points out that although there was indeed 16,000 millionaires in 2009-2010, and only 6,000 a year later, this is because:

...£18 billion of income was ‘forestalled’ from 2010-11 unto 2009-10 to avoid the 50p income tax rate. That meant income was simply shifted from the later year into the earlier year to get round the additional tax charge.

In round sums the above data shows those earning more than £150,000 paid tax of £33 billion in 2010-11, implying taxable income of about £88 billion, based on the data (not all will be taxed at 50%, of course).
The previous year the income of those earning over £150,000 was about £121 billion.

Forestalling would explain maybe £18 billion of this change. Even the Treasury agreed that. But remember that means an adjustment is needed to both years. In other words 2009-10 was overstated by £18 billion. It should have been £103 billion as a result. And 2010-11 was understated by £18 billion. It should have been £106 billion after the forestalling effect was removed.

So there was actually an increase in income in 2010-11 for those earning over £150,000 but for a massive and one off exercise in tax avoidance. And there was no impact at all of people leaving the country.

And the Telegraph story is utterly bogus.

The Tory government was aware of this forestalling on the £18 billion of income, and as far back as March 2012, Faisal Islam explained this in his his report on George Osborne’s budget speech for Channel 4 News:

Here’s an amazing fact. Apart from the leap in the personal tax allowance, what was the largest annual tax cut today? Expected tax avoidance this year.

In fact you may have missed the mini fiscal stimulus at the heart of this Budget. There will be a £3bn fiscal loosening over the next year, followed by a £3bn tightening in the following years. What may be surprising is that this is almost entirely caused by £2.4bn of tax avoidance from Britain’s rich this year, that is then unwound in later years. Yes, this is the OBR’s expectation in this financial year that the rich will not pay out £6.5bn of dividends and bonuses in this tax year, but shift it into April 2013 when it attracts the 45p tax rate. Perfectly legal.

This follows on from that truly amazing staistic that I revealed on Channel 4 News on Monday. The Chancellor confirmed in his speech that Britain’s rich moved a staggering £16bn of dividends and bonuses. The HMRC report says £16-£18bn. My report on Monday put this “forestalling” at £18-20bn.

So the fact remains that the decision on the 50p rate was made on the basis of one year’s highly distorted data. Now the chancellor’s take on this was that avoidance at this level shows that the tax didn’t work. But what he didn’t say was that the forestalling effect was a one-off. The HMRC report does try to strip out the impact of forestalling and analyse other “behavioural impacts”.

Harriet Baldwin’s comments are not only misleading they are actually false.

There has been no “cull” of millionaires.

Two-thirds of British millionaires have not become “tax exiles.”

It is in fact - shock horror - Harriet’s party, the Conservatives who are helping Britain’s millionaires avoid tax, by allowing them to forestall until the 45p tax rate arrives in 2013.

This means the any lost tax is solely down to the forestalling of taxes due on £18-£20 billion.

So, it the Tories’ “policies resulted in millionaires paying less tax” NOT Labour’s 50p tax rate.

Worse, while the Tories allow their rich chums to forestall on paying the correct rate on tax, they are brutally cutting financial support to essential welfare services.

All of this tax avoidance may be legal but it hardly sits with Cameron’s view of “Big Society”, and his hopes to make “poverty history.” Well he’s certainly a long way from ever achieving this fantasy, when he supports tax cuts for the rich and welfare cuts for the poor.

Let’s not forget as the Guardian has pointed out, Cameron has already sanctioned a series of £20 billion welfare cuts by 2014 that will, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies:

...throw 80,000 children back into poverty each year, or 300,000 over the lifetime of the parliament. The Department for Work and Pensions puts the number of children currently in poverty at 27%, or 3.6 million children, two thirds of them living in working families; by 2020 it will be 4.2 million.

...

The IMF global outlook reported [in October] that for every pound that is cut, GDP will contract by up to £1.70. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation says the annual cost to the UK’s GDP of child poverty is £25bn, while only £200m will be saved by limiting child benefit to two children. If it sounds like madness, it is.

If the Tory press has to stoop to publishing “bizarre” and “bogus” stories to convince the public that the Rich should not be taxed, then the Conservatives are not only morally bankrupt, they are NOT fit to govern any country. And that’s the real story the Daily Telegraph should have published.
 
Illustration (and inspiration for headline) by Alan Rogerson.

You can see and buy more of Alan’s excellent work at his site Baggelboy.
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Boos sound out at Olympic Stadium: As UK Chancellor makes an appearance

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British Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne had no place to hide when the boos rang out around the Olympic Stadium today in London. It’s allegedly the first time boos have been heard inside the stadium, which says much about the loathing for the ghastly Osborne and the current Con-Dem Government. As Channel 4 News reported:

‘The first boos of the day ring out in the Olympic Stadium for George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was presenting medals at the 400m T38 victory ceremony.’

Surprisingly, there was cheers for former Labour PM Gordon Brown, which suggests the public do have short memories.
 

 
Via Channel 4 News
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
‘Stop raping people!’: Andrew Breitbart (finally) loses his mind in public


 
After you watch Andrew Breitbart absolutely lose his goddamn shit, screaming his head off at Occupy protesters raising some hell at CPAC (telling them to “behave” and “stop raping people”) you will no longer wonder if he’s sane or not, because the answer is in his eyes. His crazy fucking eyes.

Can you imagine how he acts at home, in private?!?!? Yikes!
 

 
Via Little Green Footballs

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Terrible conservative ‘comic’ inadvertently explains the Republican brain to the rest of us

 
Hey smell this, it smells like shit…

Get a whiff of the action at yesterday’s CPAC event in Washington, DC where Brad Stine, truly one of the worst comics I’ve ever had the misfortune to listen to, speaks openly about “natural selection” to a bunch of wild and crazy Republicans. I do hope that some of them take his advice about not wearing seat-belts, I must say. It’s the patriotic duty of every conservative to protest having to wear seat-belts and use baby seats! Don’t do what that Obama tells you to do! Boycott motorcycle helmets, too, conservatives!

Stine, who looks like Gérard Depardieu’s less pretty younger brother, isn’t even a shitty version of Denis Leary and, of course, Denis Leary totally sucks. Even this audience seems rather chilly to Stine’s “talents.” If you are a glutton for punishment, you can watch his entire set here. You won’t laugh with Stine, but you will laugh at him..

If you think this is bad—and trust me, you will—then you have to see the Conservative dating advice seminar that took place at CPAC. Look at those guys! What misfortune in their lives made them such monumental plonkers? They all look like they were birthed in the same lab, then issued blue blazers, grey slacks and Bass Weejuns along with a lifetime subscription to the National Review and raised in Plato’s Cave with a TV that only got Fox News!
 

 
Via Right Wing Watch

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Why Conservatives and Liberals see the world differently


 
How absolutely grand it is to have a great American institution like Bill Moyers back on our television airways? After reading about Moyer’s reasons for returning to the public sphere—he feels compelled to re-enter the national conversation at what he believes to be a dark and critical juncture in American civic life—I had been greatly anticipating Moyers & Company. So far, the series has not disappointed, with a discussion on crony capitalism with Reagan’s budget director David Stockman and ace financial journalist Gretchen Morgenson, and a conversation on “winner-takes-all” politics with Yale professor Jacob Hacker and Berkeley’s Paul Pierson. We’ve only got him for two more years—Moyers will retire again when he turns 80—but it’s great to see him back conducting these meaty, intelligent and engaged conversations. Moyers & Company is among the very best programming that PBS has to offer.

On the most recent show, Moyers interviewed University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who many DM readers might be familiar with from his 2008 TED talk on the moral values that liberals and conservatives hold the most highly and how this influences their politics, and from his book The Happiness Hypothesis.

In his upcoming book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion Professor Haidt aims to explain what it means when the other side “doesn’t get it” to both sides. He makes some terrifically good points during his interview with Moyers, especially when it comes to explaining how “group think” and “the hive mind” work on both extremes of the political spectrum in America (and in other countries, too).

As you can see in this piece, Haidt’s research is fascinating indeed, but I found that some of his premises and conclusions were extremely unsatisfying. Some seemed downright counter-intuitive. Unhelpful. Don’t get me wrong, I think this entire interview is worthwhile, thought-provoking—even essential—viewing no matter which bit of the political spectrum you might fall on yourself, but the more or less false assumption that seems to be at the heart of Haidt’s work—that both sides have come to their positions through equally intellectually defensible routes—made my face scrunch up in in an expression that some might describe as a look of “liberal condescension.”

You could say that “Well, isn’t that just what he’s talking about? You’re a socialist, so of course you’d see it that way!” but even if that’s true, let me offer up Exhibit A in a lazy, half-hearted—yet utterly definitive—argument-ending rebuttal: Orly Taitz, WorldNetDaily and the whole birther phenomenon.

How is it “balanced” to give obviously unbalanced people the benefit of the doubt? What would even be the point of that exercise? What purpose would it serve to a social scientist? If someone’s political positions can’t be reconciled with actual facts, then their political opinions are absolutely worthless.

Try having a rational political discussion with a LaRouchie sometime! It can’t be done.

People who have difficulty grasping the complexity of the world they live in should not be seen as coming to the table as equals with people who are not as intellectually challenged! This seems self-evident, does it not? The birther phenomenon among Republican voters was never some fringe faction within the greater GOP. It still isn’t.

It would be a waste of time to try to catalog every instance of ill-informed right-wingers who can’t spell “moron,” vehemently protest policies that would actually benefit their own lives, and who think that every single word in the Bible is the infallible utterance of God himself, but at least in this interview (his book isn’t out yet) Haidt fails to demonstrate why stupidity, superstition and flagrant lies about established historical facts deserve intellectual parity alongside of opinions borne of widely accepted science, common sense and a commonly shared national history, as opposed to the made-up one the Reichwing subscribes to.

The age-old trusim of “There are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle” is no longer the case when you’re having a “philosophical disagreement” with a Drudge Report reader or Fox News fan who lives in their own private Bizzaro World where there is no difference between facts and Rush Limbaugh’s opinon . Internet comments that invoke conspiracy theories about Frances Piven, ACORN, the Tides Foundation, George Soros, Saul Alinsky, Van Jones or that comically conflate “Socialism” with “National Socialism” are dead-giveaways of a stunted intelligence on the other end of the keyboard. Teabaggers who want to pressure school textbook publishers to remove any mention of the Founding Fathers being slaveholders or Christianists who argue that Creationism is as equally valid as Darwin’s evolutionary theories should not be in a position to influence policy and yet in many parts of the country this is exactly what is happening, to the detriment of the school systems, the intellectual growth of the students who will be ill-prepared for higher education, etc. Does Haidt truly feel that these people who deny history and science itself came to their positions honestly and rationally? And if he doesn’t feel that way, wouldn’t that admission require a caveat so huge as to at least partially invalidate much of his take-away?

I’m intrigued by what his research has found, I’m far less impressed by how he interprets it.

I get that Haidt’s thesis must be presented in a manner which bends over backwards not to appear partisan, but when it’s been shown that a statistically significant percentage of lower IQ children tend to gravitate towards political conservatism in adulthood (read “Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice” at Live Science) I feel like Haidt might missing the boat entirely: What if the REAL revelation at the heart of his research is that there’s an unbridgeable IQ stratification in America due to our shitty public schools, and the malign influence of the churches and talk radio/Fox News that may have already rendered this country basically ungovernable. (Jonathan Haidt regularly asks his audiences to raise their hands to indicate if they self-identify as “liberal” or “conservative” and notes that when he’s speaking to an audience of academics, that over 90% tend to call themselves “liberals”—is this merely a coincidence? I should think not!).

I respect what Haidt is attempting to do with his research, but ultimately, watching this, I saw so many flaws in his assumptions and methodology (at least as he explains it here, which I suspect is adequate) that I can’t help feeling that someone else is going to come along later and take up some of the more valid points of his work, discard the less impressive parts and get it right. He’s on to something in a big way, but I have deep reservations with much of what he concludes.

Still, as I was saying before, this is some must-see TV. Most thinking people will find something of value here, for sure. If this is a topic that interests you, it’s a fascinating discussion.
 

 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg warned of riots if Tories elected in 2010

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Respected journalist and broadcaster, Andrew Neil posted an interesting tweet regarding comments made by the UK’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

Neil points out that last year, Liberal-Democrat Clegg warned of riots if the Conservatives were elected, and wonders if Clegg “ever thought he’d be in government with them when they happened?”
 

 
With thanks to Andrew Neil
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Liberal vs. Conservative: Politics reflected in brain structure

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Of course, it’s something many of us have suspected all along, but a new study published yesterday in Current Biology reveals that the differences in our political views are tied to differences in brain structure.

The next time you look at a Republican and wonder in astonishment at how small-minded, unscientific, inflexible and sometimes scarily racist their belief systems often are, well, wonder no more: They can’t help themselves…!

And the way you wince at them? It goes both ways, mate. Might be hard-coded into your gray matter as well. No wonder Conservatives find Liberals so infuriatingly condescending…

From Science Daily:

Individuals who call themselves liberal tend to have larger anterior cingulate cortexes, while those who call themselves conservative have larger amygdalas. Based on what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with reports showing a greater ability of liberals to cope with conflicting information and a greater ability of conservatives to recognize a threat, the researchers say.

“Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” said Ryota Kanai of the University College London. “Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure.”

Kanai said his study was prompted by reports from others showing greater anterior cingulate cortex response to conflicting information among liberals. “That was the first neuroscientific evidence for biological differences between liberals and conservatives,” he explained.

There had also been many prior psychological reports showing that conservatives are more sensitive to threat or anxiety in the face of uncertainty, while liberals tend to be more open to new experiences. Kanai’s team suspected that such fundamental differences in personality might show up in the brain.

And, indeed, that’s exactly what they found. Kanai says they can’t yet say for sure which came first. It’s possible that brain structure isn’t set in early life, but rather can be shaped over time by our experiences. And, of course, some people have been known to change their views over the course of a lifetime.

So there IS hope for Glenn Beck?

Here’s more on this from TIME’s blog:

This is not the first attempt to locate the biological roots of party affiliation. In an October 2010 study, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, and Harvard University identified a “liberal gene” — a variant called DRD4-7R, which affects the neurotransmitter dopamine — that has been linked with a personality type driven to seek out new experiences.

Another study from the University of Nebraska found that liberals and conservatives had different reactions to “gaze cues” — whether they tended to look in the same direction as a face on their computer screen. Liberals were more likely than conservatives to follow another person’s gaze, suggesting that people who lean right value autonomy more; alternative explanations suggest that liberals might be more empathetic, or that conservatives are less trusting of others.

The thing this study doesn’t explain is why progressive women are so much hotter than Republican women!

(runs away)

Another explanation for Tea baggers?
 

Written by Richard Metzger | Discussion