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The nightmare (free market) scenario the GOP faces: THEY’RE A VERY BAD INVESTMENT


 

I’ve got a great dirty trick you can play on a three-year-old kid. Kids learn how to talk from listening to their parents, see? This is a good one. So here’s what you do. So you have a three-year-old kid and you wanna pull a trick on ‘em, whenever you’re around them.. TALK WRONG.

So now it’s like his first day of school and he raises his hand: “May I mambo dogface to the banana patch?”

“Give that kid a special test. Get him out of here.”

—Steve Martin, A Wild and Crazy Guy, 1978

That classic Steve Martin joke came immediately to mind when I read Columbia University’s Lincoln Mitchell’s essay, “Is Fox Even Helping the Republicans Anymore?” this morning. That and “if you have to ask, then the answer is almost certainly ‘no.’” Fox News has become a liability to the GOP? Who’d have ever thunk it?

A few other things popped into my head as well when I read Mitchell’s article:

This has been a difficult election season for Fox News. Among the most enduring media images of the last few days of the election are Karl Rove late on election night angrily denying that Ohio, and thus the presidency, had gone to President Obama, and Dick Morris only a few days before the election confidently predicting a Romney landslide. Morris later tried to explain away his mistake after the election by claiming he had done it to create enthusiasm among Republican voters. The incidents involving Rove and Morris, both of whom work as both commentators on Fox and political consultants to conservative clients, are obviously embarrassing for Fox, but also raise the question of whether the network has outlived its value, even to the Republican Party.

Because Fox generally reports news based on partisan talking points and ideological certainty rather than focusing on pesky things like facts, information and events, it has, in the past, been effective in encouraging misperceptions about President Obama’s background, nurturing the growth and development of the Tea Party movement and covering economic policy by referring to any spending by the government as socialism. These things have helped mobilize and misinform the right wing base of the Republican Party. Similarly, during the Bush administration, Fox helped increase support for the Gulf War by repeating White House positions on weapons of mass destruction, almost without question.

“Ideological certainty” sure is a fun term to mull over these days, isn’t it? Especially in light of what happened on Election Day. Imagine having your entire naive “conservative” (and all that implies outside of the cult) worldview crushed just like that by the sheer force of math and changing demographics… not that I have much sympathy for dolts.
 

 
How would people who watch Fox News all the time ever hear—let alone be able to mentally process—something like “Herbert Hoover presided over a bigger spending increase than Obama has”? Or that “Obama won more popular votes than any Democratic candidate for president in history—except for himself in 2008”? I’ll tell you how they process it: “He stole the election!”

If you follow, like I do, the far reich blogosphere, it’s very plain to see that these people live in a cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs fantasyland, in an America that doesn’t even exist, hasn’t really existed for years, and that will never exist again short of a genocide that would kill tens of millions of people, and which, frankly, isn’t something I expect to see happening in North America anytime soon.
 

 
Even in the minds of GOP bigwigs, this Bizarro World/“mambo dogface to the banana patch” shit is looming large: Did you read former Reagan economic adviser Bruce Bartlett—the guy who coined the term “Reaganomics”—writing in The American Conservative on how even elite Republicans view The New York Times as if it is some far left samizdat? WTF??

Interestingly, a couple of days after the Suskind article appeared, I happened to be at a reception for some right-wing organization that many of my think tank friends were also attending. I assumed I would get a lot of grief for my comments in the Suskind article and was surprised when there was none at all.

Finally, I started asking people about it. Not one person had read it or cared in the slightest what the New York Times had to say about anything. They all viewed it as having as much credibility as Pravda and a similar political philosophy as well. Some were indignant that I would even suspect them of reading a left-wing rag such as the New York Times.

I was flabbergasted. Until that moment I had not realized how closed the right-wing mind had become. Even assuming that my friends’ view of the Times’ philosophy was correct, which it most certainly was not, why would they not want to know what their enemy was thinking? This was my first exposure to what has been called “epistemic closure” among conservatives—living in their own bubble where nonsensical ideas circulate with no contradiction.

Read that last sentence again. That would describe Fox News perfectly, a place where nonsensical ideas circulate with no contradiction. EVER, or else they cut your mic. A black hole of intelligence that’s sucking the GOP faithful into a place of foolishness from which they can never return.

Back to Mitchell:

Over the last several years, this has been very helpful to the Republican Party, but during 2012, particularly in recent months, this has begun to change. Fox has now become a problem for the Republican Party because it keeps a far right base mobilized and angry making it hard for the party to move to the center, or increase its appeal as it must do to remain electorally competitive. For example, Bill O’Reilly’s explanation of why the Obama was reelected may, in fact, resonate, with the older and heavily white viewership of Fox, but it is precisely the wrong public message and messenger for the Party.

Precisely, it was the sort of grumpy old white senior citizens who reliably vote in the Republican primaries—and get their “informations” from Fox News—who forced Mitt Romney to contort himself into positions that made him an unpalatable shit-dipped pretzel to non-white, non-old, non-idiotic Americans and therefore patently un-electable.

I got yer manifest destiny right here: Romney scored the “reliable low IQ buffoon” vote, that’s for sure, and for many of us, that alone was a good enough reason to vote against him. How will the “big tent” Republicans go about courting that surefire base of the Tea party / “Moran” / covert (or overt) racist / Christian home-schooled creationist conservative bloc in elections to come without alienating absolutely everyone else?
 

 
Talk about a difficult dance step with both of your shoes tied together and nailed to the floor. Is it even possible to pull off such a doomed political tango moving forward in history? It’s a stupid uphill battle to wage to begin with. Why bother trying to swim against this kind of historical and demographic current? Why hitch your wagon to some horses who require oxygen tanks and twice daily insulin shots? It doesn’t make any sense.

Any aspiring young politician with half a brain would be a fool to think he’d be the BMOC by joining the party of people with no brains at all (Scott Brown, I’m looking at your short political career. Still glad you pledged Phi Kappa Dipshit?). Whereas, the Democrats, or at least some of them, seem more like the folks with one eye in the kingdom of the blind (I exempt Florida’s Alan Grayson from this assessment), the Republicans just seem like mean-spirited know-nothing buffoons, country blumpkins (that’s not a typo) and Jeebus freaks who belong in carnival sideshows, not voting booths. Where do you go from there when your baseline members consist of the country’s most irritating assholes and blowhards under the same “big tent”? (Think of the GOP not as a political party, but a party party. Who wants to party with the Republicans? They’ve got John Rocker signing autographs!)

And listen to the hilarious “conciliatory” noises that even the likes of Sean Hannity are starting to spout about immigration reform (he’s “evolved”—not a word typically associated with Hannity, is it?). A little late, buddy, don’t cha think? How do you solve a problem like, uh, Maria, at this late stage of the game, genius? YOU don’t. You try to fuck off with some tiny shred of dignity left! (If you care about what Sean Hannity “thinks” about immigration reform, I truly fucking pity you and anyone you come into contact with on a regular basis).

Moreover, while Fox helps the Republican Party when it slants its news coverage to the right, it damages the Party when its news coverage becomes too shoddy. A network that cannot get election night right because one of its star pundits simply refuses to accept defeat offers very little reason for potential viewers to watch it. Similarly a network whose pundits are so off in their election predictions will ultimately marginalize itself completely, as Fox is beginning to do.

Fox News “offers very little reason for potential viewers to watch it.” As Glenn Beck likes to say “Well, duh!”

If the information a news organization brings to the public is wrong and is demonstrated—easily—to be incorrect, then what is the value proposition? Fox News fills not-so-bright people’s heads with comforting bullshit and it serves to get them riled up and angry with… non-facts. It tells dum-dums, not “the news,” but what they want to hear. Study after study has shown that Fox News fans are the least informed people in America—indeed they are the very opposite of informed, as they tend to actually know less than they would had they watched no TV news at all.

There is clearly very little of nutritional value to get out of Fox News. It’s like eating Cheetos all the damned day and believing that you are consuming a futuristic health food (like Tang and Gatorade) even as you weigh 500 lbs and have to be lifted by a crane into your electric scooter.
 

 
Fox News imbicilizes its viewership. Its viewership IS the Republican base and probably comprises the greater part of its primary voters. According to Bruce Bartlett, it’s also the leadership…

Another thing that came to mind reading Mitchell’s essay was Paul Krugman’s withering quip about Newt Gingrich being “a stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.” Ouch, but it’s just so very, very true. If your mind is tiny, Newt’s must seem vast, but that doesn’t say much about the price of tea in China, just what passes for “brainy” to a group of people as dumb as a cows. Gingrich, like Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, is merely a self-confident idiot. and yet these bozos are the very ones they pass off as the smart guys because they’re louder, more emphatically blusterous and in the case of Gingrich, just flat-out fuckin’ meaner.
 

 

One of the bigger challenges facing the Republican Party is that they are perceived as the, to phrase it nicely, less smart of the two major parties. The anti-science perspective, unwillingness to speak out against absurd sounding conspiracy theories, and even the attacks on Nate Silver, presumably because Silver did somewhat sophisticated math, have contributed to this and are damaging the party. It is no coincidence that the Obama campaign had a more sophisticated targeting and turnout operation and better statistical modeling. A party that refuses to take a firm stand in support of evolution or recognizing climate change is not going to draw too many people with advanced statistical training as advisors and consultants.

Don’t forget world-class computer programmers and developers.

Fox contributes to that environment by creating a climate where partisan rantings of people like Dick Morris are indulged while criticism by serious people like Tom Ricks is shut down and attacked. There is no inevitable link between conservatism and stupidity, but one could be forgiven for coming to that conclusion while watching Fox News. As it is currently constructed, Fox News is going to bring in almost no swing voters in the coming years. It will more likely continue to repel them through poor analysis and rants that strike the precise tone the party should be trying to avoid.

BAM. The toxic ménage à trois of the GOP, Fox News and the dumbest old coots in America means that they are perceived from the outside as being synonymous, and so herein lies the FAR BIGGER problem for the Republican party: Its very base, the braying Tea party dumbasses who they have so assiduously courted and pandered to, has made the Republican Party itself look like a BAD INVESTMENT. They can’t win lumbered with the imbecilic hordes of Fox News viewers, but they sure cannot win without them, either. What to do?

Tee-hee! This is yet another particularly vexing Catch 22 that I don’t think the GOP counted on. It goes far beyond their demographic problems and presents a much, much more immediate Wiley E. Coyote looking down to see that he’s already in very big trouble sort of crisis.

It’s also not something that I think is obvious to them—yet: Smart businessmen don’t tend to throw good money after bad. They certainly don’t keep doing it forever. Why would the people who have traditionally given money to the Republicans be foolish enough to do that again in 2016?

I think even the fucking US Chamber of Commerce got the message this time, don’t you? How could they have missed it?
 

 
Mitchell concluded by offering a final compelling reason for what I’m seeing as the “bad investment” aspect of the unholy trinity of Fox News, the GOP and the dumbest Americans:

It is in the interest of the Democrats, not the Republicans, for there to be a loud, extremist, heavily white faction in the Republican Party, constantly pushing that party rightward. One of the reasons Mitt Romney was so unable to pivot back to the center was due to the drumbeat at Fox which contributing to forcing him to the right during the primary season. Even after the primary season, when Fox became a big supporter for Romney, the rift between official editorial position and the political feelings of Fox viewers and hosts, was clear.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, while this is bad politics, it is good business for Fox. By positioning itself as the place where angry Republicans can go for their rhetorical red meat, Fox guarantees itself a sizable viewership, so the incentive for Fox to keep doing what it is doing is substantial, as is the potential damage to the Republican Party.

Good business for Fox News, but bad business for rich supporters of the Republican Party.

It’s a very difficult thing to convince someone that they’re stupid, however, it’s utterly infuriating when someone lets you know that they think you’re stupid and you suspect they might be right (I’d imagine, it’s not like this has ever happened to me). Faced with that uncomfortable power dynamic, stupid people tend to huff and puff and dig in their heels even harder when it comes to something that threatens them. As the Republican electorate gets older and has less and less influence, the growing realization that the rest of us think they’re knobs will see the thrashing displays of abject crazy get ratcheted up to levels of lunacy not yet seen, but that will just seem more and more silly, shrill and impotent as time goes on. For the Republicans, it used to be that automatically having the coalition of the stupid in their back pocket was a winning strategy. Today that’s why they’re losing and yet they can’t exactly cut them loose, either.
 

 
So the upshot of all of this is that GOP can’t really compete on a national level anymore, and if this isn’t an entirely 100% watertight truth (although the demographics sure seem to back it up) it’s still true enough.

If they were a sports team would you bet on them?

And ask yourself, even if you were stinking rich would you knowingly invest in a losing (hell, DOOMED) team?

As that notion sinks in, and becomes fully baked into the popular “loser” perception of the GOP, will the 1% continue to financially support the Republican party?

I think it’s pretty clear that the answer is gonna be NO.

(What this portends for the Democrats and one party rule in America is something beyond the scope of this already overlong post).
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.30.2012
04:50 pm
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Abbie birthday Hoffman: ‘Growing Up In America’
11.30.2012
01:14 am
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Something from the DM archives on the occasion of Abbie Hoffman’s birthday:

In Growing Up In America, Morley Markson revisits his 1969 documentary on Sixties’ political activists Breathing Together:Revolution Of The Electric Family with the original subjects of that film to get the perspective of age and hindsight.

Reflecting the past through the present, forming a kind of Möbius strip of history, we watch as they watch themselves: Jerry Rubin’s transformation from firebrand radical to Capitalist cliche, the evolution and assassination of Fred Hampton (through the eyes of his mother) and the self-actualization, occasional self-doubt and battered integrity of Abbie Hoffman, William Kunstler, Timothy Leary, former Black Panther Field Marshall and expatriate Don Cox, Allen Ginsberg, and MC5 manager and White Panther founder John Sinclair. This is a fascinating glimpse at lives that mattered and still do.

It’s hard to believe that with the exception of John Sinclair and director Markson all of these men are dead. Are these the last of a dying breed?

While Growing Up In America is a vital and significant document, its failure to include some women activists in the mix is a glaring oversight. Bernardine Dohrn, Angela Davis, Shulamith Firestone and Diane di Prima are just a few of the women who were formidable forces in the cultural and political upheaval during the Sixties and any one of them would have provided a much needed woman’s point of view to the film. Once again, we’re confronted with the sad fact that the Sixties counter-culture was mostly a boy’s club.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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11.30.2012
01:14 am
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Shameless Tory Lies?: A spoonful of Twaddle helps the Clap-trap go down
11.29.2012
11:07 am
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a_spoonful_twaddle_alan_rogerson
 
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.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.29.2012
11:07 am
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Yuck: Carly Fiorina sure is a nauseating human being


“Quote, unquote ‘working people’”

Failed 2010 Republican Senate candidate and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (“19th Worst CEO of All Time”) is a confirmed failure in both business and politics—an extremely notable failure at that—and yet for some inexplicable reason, her “success” at nearly destroying HP saw Fiorina gifted with a $42 million “golden parachute” severance package when they fired her. (She claims $21 million, conveniently forgetting the other half). Hell, I’d be willing to run HP into the dust for the bargain price of $500,000, less, even, how’s about you?).

Portfolio magazine described Fiorina as “a consummate self-promoter” (A job creator!) who “paid herself handsome bonuses and perks while laying off thousands of employees to cut costs.” 18,000 people to give you a nice round number.

So why does NBC News keep booking her as an “expert” on Meet the Press? What are Carly Fiorina’s qualifications to have her opinions on the so-called “fiscal cliff” taken seriously? How is Fiorina’s “expertise” measured when SHE, of ALL PEOPLE, makes a statement like this one:

“It is not fair that public employee union pensions and benefits are so rich now that cities and states are going bankrupt, and college tuition is going up 20 and 30%… There is a lot that isn’t fair right now.”

Fair? Who is Carly Fiorina to decide what’s fair or not? How fucking fair is it that an individual rewarded with $42 million for being a total fuck up (during her tenure at HP, the company’s stock lost half its value) is on NBC News whining and pontificating about public union employees? Someone who fired 18,000 workers as she ground a major American corporation into the curb? Yeah, let’s canvass her opinion on the direction the country needs to take!

Hell, Carly Fiorina is so clueless that she even ran as a Republican in CALIFORNIA! I mean, what’s up with that? (Endorsed by Sarah Palin, Fiorina lost by 10 points!) If she’s any kind of expert on anything beside failing upwards then I’m Sean Hannity.

And for the record, 7 of 10 public union employees—like cops—retire on a pension of around $30k a year. Just sayin…

Via AmericaBlog:

So tell me who is really part of the moocher class that corporate CEOs and 1%-ers keep talking about? Are they the people asking for basic healthcare or the people who have enough money to build moats and personal golf courses around their mansions? Another tip off sign of a moocher is that no matter how much they have, it’s not enough and they want more of your money.

Damn if these Republicans don’t always want stuff.

Tee-hee. I’m SO sick of hearing about this fiscal cliff nonsense, but ESPECIALLY from the likes of Carly Fiorina. If they try to cut Social Security or Medicare benefits, there will (finally) be riots in this country (which is why I don’t think anything is going to happen on that front, just “talk”). They need to dump the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 (it’s at least a start) and GUT THE PERPETUAL WAR MACHINE and hey, presto, no more fiscal cliff… Obviously, if they cut back on the war toys, America would be swimming in money.

This morning an email arrived from the Senate’s sole openly socialist member—and I think, a great American—Bernie Sanders of Vermont:

At a time when the wealthiest people in our country are doing phenomenally well, we must eliminate the Bush tax cuts favoring the top 2 percent.

At a time when corporate profits are soaring, we must end the absurd tax policy that allows about one-quarter of large, profitable corporations to pay nothing in federal income taxes.

At a time when the federal treasury is losing over $100 billion annually because the wealthy and large corporations are stashing their money in tax havens in the Cayman Islands and elsewhere, we must pass real tax reform that ends this outrage.

At a time when we spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on defense, we must cut defense spending.  There is also waste in other governmental agencies which must be eliminated.

This kinda sounds like a better plan than cutting pensions and healthcare benefits for older Americans.

And to Carly Fiorina, why don’t you have some dignity and fuck off. No one, but no one, wants to hear your opinions. NO ONE CARES what you think about the lives of ordinary working men and women and the direction American needs to go in. Go count your mountain of money away from the cameras, safe from the moochers in your gated mansion, stop embarrassing yourself and get off my tee-vee.
 

 
Thank you Steven Otero!

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.28.2012
11:08 am
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The Republicans are way, way, more screwed than they thought!


 
New York’s Jonathan Chait has written persuasively on several occasions in the past year about the rather obvious fear and desperation—but not, paranoia, a distinction I think he too kindly makes, but no matter—of Republicans and the importance to the conservative right to win big in 2012, for the reason that it might be their very last chance to win nationally before rapidly changing racial demographics in the American electorate make that all but impossible.

The Republican Party is way, way more fucked than they dared suspect. New findings from Pew Research Survey’s close analysis of the youth vote in the 2012 elections strongly suggests the GOP’s worst nightmare: The rise of an increasingly liberal young electorate that cuts across racial boundaries. They’re even losing the younger white people!

Chait writes:

Among the 2012 electorate, more voters identified themselves as conservative (35 percent) than liberal (25 percent), and more said the government is already doing too much that should be left to the private sector (51 percent) than asserted that the government ought to be doing more to solve problems (44 percent). But this is not the case with younger voters. By a 59 percent to 37 percent margin, voters under 30 say the government should do more to solve problems. More remarkably, 33 percent of voters under 30 identified themselves as liberal, as against 26 percent who called themselves conservative.

What all this suggests is that we may soon see a political landscape that will appear from the perspective of today and virtually all of American history as unrecognizably liberal. Democrats today must amass huge majorities of moderate voters in order to overcome conservatives’ numerical advantage over liberals. They must carefully wrap any proposal for activist government within the strictures of limited government, which is why Bill Clinton declared the era of big government to be over, and Obama has promised not to raise taxes for 99 percent of Americans. It’s entirely possible that, by the time today’s twentysomethings have reached middle age, these sorts of limits will cease to apply.

Obviously, such a future hinges on the generational patterns of the last two election cycles persisting. But, as another Pew survey showed, generational patterns to tend to be sticky. It’s not the case that voters start out liberal and move rightward. Americans form a voting pattern early in their life and tend to hold to it. That isn’t to say something couldn’t shake these voters loose from their attachment to the liberal worldview. Republicans fervently (and plausibly) hoped the Great Recession would be that thing; having voted for Obama and borne the brunt of mass unemployment, once-idealistic voters would stare at the faded Obama posters on their wall and accept the Republican analysis that failed Big Government policies have brought about their misery.

But young voters haven’t drawn this conclusion — or not many of them have, at any rate. So either something else is going to have to happen to disrupt the liberalism of the rising youth cohort, or else the Republican Party itself will have to change in ways far more dramatic than any of its leading lights seem prepared to contemplate.

I personally don’t expect to see much of a reversal of fortune for Republicans. They’re a party of silly old men, “morans,” racists, idiots, jingoists and religious fanatics and to many people, this is ALL that their shit-for-brains “semiotic” stands for. How do you go about rebranding the very gestalt of American political stupidity to make it more attractive to young, liberally inclined voters?

I don’t think you can do this. How would that even work?

And which one of these mentally deficient special interest bozo groups that constitute the modern day Republican party will be the first to embrace abortion rights, universal healthcare, gay marriage, Blacks and Latinos, living wages, equal pay for women and the separation of church and state?

It would be like turning on Fox News and all of a sudden Sean Hannity had grown a fucking brain or that Bill O’Reilly woke up wondering if maybe—just maybe, I said—he’s been wrong all of these years? About almost everything?

That ain’t gonna happen…

I’ll leave you with this tasty morsel of Republican idiocy: Rick Santorum is back and he’s got a new cause: Opposing the disabled.

I’m sure this will be a winning issue for Santorum and the GOP moving forward. If at first you don’t succeed, um… pick on the cripples, I guess.

That’s moral leadership, Republican style!
 

 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.27.2012
02:41 pm
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God rubs Mitt Romney’s nose in karmic dogshit


 
Irony of ironies or just a cosmic coincidence?

Mitt Romney’s share of the popular vote in the 2012 presidential race, when all is said and done, will probably be recorded as 47 percent. Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman has noted that President Obama has actually expanded his portion of the popular vote to 50.8 percent, while Romney has fallen to 47.49 percent, which accounting for rounding down puts his percentage at the magic number of government dependent moochers that he himself estimated, at a secretly taped bigwig fundraiser, would never vote for him.

Via The Washington Post:

By virtue of rounding, Romney’s share of the popular vote will be recorded here and elsewhere as 47 percent, so long as it doesn’t rise above 47.5 percent again.

That seems unlikely. Wasserman projects that Romney’s vote share will actually head more toward 47 percent flat — 47.1 percent or 47.2 percent — because many of the outstanding ballots in the presidential race come from California and New York, which both voted for Obama by a large margin.

And Obama’s popular vote margin, in the end, is likely to be 51 percent to 47 percent.

In actual fact, Obama’s margin of victory is bigger than the elections margins seen by George W. Bush (both the 2000 and 2004 elections), Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Richard Nixon when he ran against Hubert Humphrey in 1968. All had smaller electoral margins than Obama.

Imagine if the Democrats had run a white guy at the top of the ticket in 2012 and some of the “racist” voters—who knows what percentage they represent—didn’t automatically give Romney their support? What would the GOP vs. Democrat tally been in that theoretical instance?

Not that it matters much, anymore, really: The Republicans are gonna be so fucked in 2016, even in the red states, by the rising percentage of Latino voters—just a 1% demographic change in that direction is HUGE in US electoral terms—and well, it’s going to happen. There is nothing they can do about it.

And it’s going to be fun to watch.

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.27.2012
10:53 am
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Who the hell is Grover Norquist?
11.26.2012
07:14 pm
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The not so magical powers anti-tax activist Grover Norquist wields—or at least did wield—over the Republican Party gets satirized by painter Michael D’Antuono who depicted Norquist as a Wizard of Oz-like charlatan:

“He is the lobbyist whose Svengali-like control over the GOP has forbidden them to end the Bush tax cuts for the rich, creating unprecedented gridlock and putting them in a very ‘uncompromising position’ negotiating the fiscal cliff.”

Why do (did?) the Republicans all fear crossing this asshole, anyway? He’s not even rich!

If you don’t know who this guy is, watch this infuriating 60 Minutes story about Norquist and his stranglehold on the GOP from last year.
 

 
Via Buzzfeed

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.26.2012
07:14 pm
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Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine
11.26.2012
11:54 am
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What a great title, right?

Just in time for the Aztec calendar to run out (and let’s not forget Christmas, of course) comes Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine, a collection of Mick Farren’s primal ‘up against the wall, motherfucker’ style of rock and roll polemics. One man’s literary life spent railing against the machine lives between these covers. The hidden history of the twentieth century and beyond. He was there and you weren’t. Listen up, children!

Within these pages you’ll meet the likes of Frank Zappa, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry and Gore Vidal, and steam open correspondence between the author and Pete Townshend. And, much more importantly, you’re about to go one-on-one with a world-class raconteur… If this kind of mess-around seems like your cup of meat, then prepare your relaxant of choice, kick back and dig in. The greasy ’oodlums are at your door.”

—Charles Shaar Murray (from his foreword)

About the Author:
Mick Farren was born on a wet night at the end of World War II. During his long, occasionally hallucinatory, and sometimes hell-raising career, he has published twenty-two novels (including The DNA Cowboys Trilogy). He has also published more than a dozen non-fiction works on topics that range from music to drugs to conspiracy theory (including Give The Anarchist A Cigarette). An unreconstructed rock & roller, he continues to function as a recording artist and songwriter. He has also made detours into anarcho-agitprop like editing the underground newspaper IT, and defending both his liberty and the comic book Nasty Tales through a protracted obscenity trail at the Old Bailey.

He was part of what is now called (by some) the NME golden age, during which time he helped explain punk to people who still thought Rick Wakeman had merit. As a lyricist, Mick’s words have been sung by Metallica, Motorhead, Hawkwind, Brother Wayne Kramer, the Royal Crown Revue, and the Pink Fairies.

Publisher Headpress are offering a very limited stamped, numbered and signed deluxe edition hardback of Elvis Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine, only available from their website, and for the special price of £28 until December 3. There’s also an unsigned hardback edition selling £20, but I sez get yours autographed. Why regret not getting it signed?

And just in case you were wondering, here is a list of the drugs found in Elvis’‘s body when he died, included in the book as a piece of found poetry:

Codeine—at a concentration ten times higher than the toxic level

Morphine—possible metabolite of codeine

Methaqualone—Quaalude, above toxic level

Diazepam—Valium

Diazepam metabolite

Ethinamate—Valmid

Ethchlorvynol—Placidyl

Amobarbital—Amytal

Pentobarbital—Nembutal

Pentobarbital—Carbrital

Meperidine—Demerol

Phenyltoloxamine—Sinutab (a decongestant)

Below, Mick Farren talks about the underground press in London with John Peel in 1967.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.26.2012
11:54 am
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Andrew W.K.: Rocker/Actor/Partier/Professional Awesome Dude, now Cultural Ambassador to Bahrain
11.26.2012
08:16 am
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Andrew W.K.
What could possibly go wrong?

Honestly, I kind of missed the Andrew W.K. boat, but since high school I have always been around a certain subset of ultra-nice party dudes who have followed his career religiously. The guy is seriously enthusiastic and genuinely positive, so his appointment as Cultural Ambassador to politically contentious Bahrain is less of a non sequitur than it might seem. From his website:

This is a tremendous invitation. I’m very thankful to the Department of State for giving me the opportunity to visit a place I’ve never been before. And I feel very privileged and humbled by the chance to represent the United States of America and show the good people of Bahrain the power of positive partying. I can hardly wait for this adventure!

While I doubt W.K. can offer much counsel or insight into the political uprising that’s been underway in Bahrain since early 2011, a guy that humble and engaged with people probably couldn’t hurt. He has pledged to “promote partying and world peace,” and who could argue with that?
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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11.26.2012
08:16 am
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Members Only: A Look at London’s Private Clubs, from 1965
11.22.2012
06:34 pm
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members_only
 
This short film on Member’s Only Gentlemen’s Clubs and London Club Life from 1965, may look dated and even slightly quaint, capturing a world of seedy Anthony Powell characters in run-down, thread-bare, drafty rooms, but in very real terms, little has changed.

The Old Boy’s Network of privilege and power is still very much alive, and the British Establishment is probably now stronger than it has been in decades. Look at the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee, or the sofa jingoism of the Olympics, or this week with the failure of the Church of England to vote in favor of Women Bishops, and now today, the appointment of Lord Tony Hall as the new Director General of the BBC.

Hall was chosen by Lord Christopher Patten, whose previous choice for DG had been the hapless “incurious” George Entwistle, the man who was forced to resign after 54 days in office. Now Patten has appointed Hall - without an interview - as the new DG.

Hall is a successful ex-BBC man, who currently runs the Royal Opera House. He may be a decent and honorable man, he may kiss dogs and pat babies, and help old age pensioners across the street, but he is a BBC man, steeped in the arcane and out-dated traditions of a Corporation that is out-of-touch with the reality of life in Britain. His appointment is rather like voting for a Mitt Romney rather than a Barack Obama, it’s a wishful return to an illusory past, rather than moving forward into the present century. Even some of the effusive praise on twitter harks back to an older time - this from broadcaster David Dimbleby:

‘A brilliant choice. It feels like being in the Royal Navy when they were told, “Winston is back!”’

It’s strange that a previous era of strife, hardship, bigotry and division should be seen as commendable. Earlier this year, the up-market Daily Telegraph (of all broadsheets) reported on the analysis of “the make-up of the Lords found that 45 per cent of peers also had a London club such as the Garrick Club, Carlton Club or White’s.”

The [analysis], published in the journal Sociology, also showed the enduring power of Eton and Oxbridge, with around one in 10 of all members of the Lords educated at the Berkshire school whose past pupils also include David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

Dr Matthew Bond, a sociologist at London South Bank University, who conducted the study, said that it showed that, despite reforms, the Lords continued to be dominated by those with “vested interests in traditional status structures”.

He said it showed that: “The persistent hold of the British establishment on the political imagination is not without reason.”
...

Those who went to school at Eton showed a particular propensity to join such clubs, the study found, while they were also popular among this with a background in the military, civil service and the church.

“These groups – hereditaries, males, Old Etonians, Tories and, to a lesser extent, business people – have vested interests in traditional status structures,” said Dr Bond.

“In their social characteristics they also closely mirror popular conceptions of an establishment which have featured in popular discussions of the British power structure since the 50s.

“If they do not have a monopoly over elite positions, they at least have a formidable presence.”

This “formidable presence” is what links Tony Blair’s working-class father’s move from Glaswegian Communism to middle-England Toryism, with Eton-educated David Cameron belief that elitism in education will mend Britain’s so-called “broken society.” This “formidable presence” isn’t tradition - it is the maintenance of an out-dated, misogynistic, divisive and malfunctioning Establishment.

Members Only is a fine snap shot of club life in the 1960s, which moves from gentlemen’s clubs to casinos and then onto the bohemian hang outs, such as the Colony Room (look out for the legendary Muriel Belcher) and jazz clubs, where a young Annie Ross performs.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.22.2012
06:34 pm
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