Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hope Springs Eternal: Romney Tries To Change Narrative With Paul Ryan; we are being led to believe that it is our duty, our fore-ordained condition to bend over and take it with no loving, and no Vaseline

Hope Springs Eternal: Romney Tries To Change Narrative With Paul Ryan


(I Am Serious As A Heart Attack…and I know this statement lacks eloquence of speech...but we are being led to believe that it is our duty, our fore-ordained condition to bend over and take it with no loving, and no Vaseline; The REAL QUESTION IS: “ Are Americans ready to off their dumbed-down, mind-numbed, asses and take the first step in their rehabilitation by accepting the truth, rejecting a severe state of denial, purging themselves of the media poisons they have come to believe as Gospel Truths, and as they start to think anew with ever clarified minds; realize they have been herded like sheep and hypnotized into repeating the message of the rich and powerful they have to abandon hope, dreams, their former life styles and accept the “The New Normal” of a 1930s-Like return to Hoover and Charles Dickens existence because they are not worthy of anything better, and preserve their former way of life means that the 1% just won’t be able to afford that 3rd Yacht this year and might even have to send the IRS some Tax Money…and you know that isn’t right…because they create jobs and should allowed to do any damn thing they want and keep every penny they make while we shoulder the burden of financing the nation’s government and its expenditures as a big ass kissing thank you to those corporate/financial cancers?  If you believe this then you really are either stupid or need to go into a serious 12 step program of rehabilitation.)

( The “REAL” Mitt Romney is a grossly out of touch corporate raider with a soul as compassionate as an accounting ledger. A man so committed to profit at any cost, he licks his lips thinking up schemes to avoid taxes the way most people lick their lips thinking about a plate of smokehouse honey barbecue ribs.)

(The Ryan budget: the budget is even a fraud in regards to its stated aim of deficit reduction. It actually adds 3.1 trillion dollars to the deficit. All the savings reaped from brazenly butchering programs used by middle and low-income Americans are squandered in giving nearly 5 trillion dollars in tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and corporations.)

Ryan has touched the “third rail of politics” — entitlement programs for seniors — and you don’t do that and survive. Only the severely deranged are prepared to consign the elderly to the economic dumpster or insure an earlier death because it cost a few bucks to keep them with us after they have served this society for most of their adult lives. Sorry don’t need you anymore…good bye…and good riddance!

If Mitt Romney believes choosing Paul Ryan to be his Republican vice presidential nominee will distract from the national scrutiny on his wealth and taxes. Willard has got another thing coming.

Last week, Mitt Romney raised the curtain on his choice for running mate to an electorate that's been waiting for weeks with bated breath. Strangely enough, delighting liberals and conservatives alike, Romney ever so gently slid the silver slipper on to the wanting toes of the next failed vice presidential nominee of the United States America.

Conservative golden boy and Wisconsin representative, Paul Ryan. Considering Romney’s announcement came just days after whining to Chuck Todd about Obama’s biting, and as polls show, effective campaign ads, the timing of the disclosure reeks of desperation.

View slideshow: Mitt Romney

The Romney campaign has thrown everything it could think of against the wall in hopes something would stick and distract the nation from the increasingly rising voices asking questions about the candidate's tenure at Bain and his refusal to release more than two years of tax returns.

 Initially there were a series of attack ads grossly taking the President’s words out of context or simply outright lying. Then came the VP tango; stoking speculation of the names on the vice presidential short list. With Romney’s precipitous slide in the polls and a failure to gain even modest traction on one of his core issues; Ryan became a polished bone tossed to divert the hordes of questioning press hounds.

Romney should have no illusions though. The VP distraction is political sugar and will be exceedingly short-lived. He seems to ignore the key point that his problem is not tactical. It’s positional.

He’s suffocating in the overarching and intersecting political narratives of the election; spearheaded from the top down by the Obama reelection campaign, and from the bottom up by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Narrative one. The unscrupulous methods some people employ to attain wealth. For example the rubble Bain left in its wake pursuing profits.

Narrative two. The immense advantage of tax loopholes accessible only to the highest incomes.

 Take Romney’s offshore tax havens for example. Or being able to use his dancing horse Rafalca for a 77,000 dollar tax write off.

Narrative three. The inherent unfairness of the economic policies instituted over the past 20 years that favor the rich at the expense of the middle class; exacerbating an already pernicious wealth disparity. One overt example being Romney’s 13.9 percent tax rate, while the rest of working America pays 35%.

Giving Ryan the nod is understandable. Romney endorsed Ryan’s budget and Democrats were going to bind the two together regardless. Choosing him however only reinforces the above narratives.

Let's not forget; Ryan is the same congressman who’s medicare dismantling budget inspired the infamous attack ad whereby a distressed grandmother is rolled up a steep ravine and dumped over the edge like a sack of potatoes.

Dark humor and hyperbole notwithstanding, the ad’s sharp teeth came from its kernel of truth juxtaposed against polls that consistently show the overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of party, are opposed to cutting medicare.

Completely oblivious to the polls and having no detectable trace of a heart; Ryan’s latest budget seeks to raise taxes on the poor and middle class while at the same time taking a hatchet to medicare, medicaid, social security, Pell grants, job training, and other low income programs under the guise of deficit reduction.

To add insult to injury, Romney has branded himself as a job creator, but the economic policy institute estimates the draconian austerity in his vice presidential nominee’s budget would actually cost 4.1 million jobs.

Not to mention the budget is even a fraud in regards to its stated aim of deficit reduction. It actually adds 3.1 trillion dollars to the deficit. All the savings reaped from brazenly butchering programs used by middle and low-income Americans are squandered in giving nearly 5 trillion dollars in tax breaks to millionaires, billionaires, and corporations.

Romney has a problem. A significant problem. His near religious penchant for secrecy has nursed a political vacuum that has allowed the Obama campaign to invest millions in filling that expanse with their own character portrait of the “real” Mitt Romney. A grossly out of touch corporate raider with a soul as compassionate as an accounting ledger. A man so committed to profit at any cost, he licks his lips thinking up schemes to avoid taxes the way most people lick their lips thinking about a plate of smokehouse honey barbecue ribs.

This wasn’t all the Obama campaign’s narration. Romney himself has given this theme the legs of a marathon runner.

He considers corporations to be people, seems perfectly oblivious to the path of destruction wrought by Bain, and is on record calling a budget “marvelous” that the Catholic church has branded as “morally indefensible”.

 If Romney genuinely believes choosing the architect of that immoral budget for the vice presidency will in any substantive way change themes of this election; he really is out of touch.

President Obama and Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick, Paul Ryan, have never seen eye to eye when it comes to policy, and now that the congressman from Wisconsin is on the GOP ticket, Mr. Obama is wasting no time in going after the Republicans’ popular budget man.

Mr. Obama started off a three-day swing through Iowa by road-testing his attacks on Mr. Ryan, a familiar foe and ideological opposite with whom he has tangled repeatedly over the years.

During a stop in Council Bluffs on Monday, Mr. Obama accused Mr. Ryan of opposing a major farm bill working its way through Congress and added a line to his stump speech focused on casting Mr. Ryan as the ideological leader of his party.

With farmers feeling the economic pinch of a severe drought, Mr. Obama highlighted Mr. Ryan’s recent vote to block the farm bill from advancing.

“I’m told Gov. Romney’s new running mate might be around Iowa these next few days, and he’s one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way,” Mr. Obama said.

Main Street's Financial Advisers Overwhelmingly Back Romney, But Almost Half Fear He'll Lose

The people who manage money, Main Street's financial advisers, are overwhelmingly voting for Mitt Romney in this year's election — but are far less certain he will win, according to an online poll by the Financial Services Institute.

Paul Ryan: Cruel, Not Courageous

A word of advice: If you’re announcing the most radical and reactionary Republican ticket in half a century, don’t do it on a ship named for the birthplace of progressivism, to Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”Paul Ryan is neither "courageous" "bold" or "politically gutsy" but is a rightwing idealogue with almost zero regard for the common good or the nation's most vulnerable.

But that is precisely the kind of audacity congressman-turned-vice presidential-nominee Paul Ryan brings to the flailing Romney campaign. Courage! Vision! And that hair! (Within minutes of the announcement, @VPRyansCowlick boasted dozens of follicle-fixated followers.)

Ryan is the rare Washington pseudo-wonk described by serious people of both parties in the adulatory terms typically reserved for battlefield heroics. “Courageous.” “Politically gutsy.” Author of “the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal” — wait for it — “in our lifetimes.” He is Jimmy Stewart, if Mr. Smith had spent less time establishing a boys’ camp and more time pretending to pay down the debt, one food stamp at a time.

Therein lies the rub. Ryan’s budget isn’t courageous — it’s just cruel. Three-fifths of the cuts he wants would hit those with low incomes, while those who have the most would continue getting more. It’s no wonder the former altar boy has had his knuckles rapped by a group of nuns for peddling a budget that “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good.”

... however courageous you consider a congressman for actually revealing his policy preferences, Ryan’s blueprint — now the blueprint for the entire Republican Party — is profoundly uncourageous in its implications for the vast majority of the country.

Ryan’s claim to courage — beating up on the poor notwithstanding — lies in his supposed willingness to tackle tough fiscal issues without obfuscation or sugar-coating. This would be admirable – if it were not utter nonsense

He preaches the need for austerity while refusing to touch defense spending. 

He doesn’t specify which tax loopholes would be eliminated to pay for massive tax cuts. 

He voted against stimulus to help the whole country, but for the auto bailout to help his own congressional district.

Still, it’s true that on pages 44-47 of Ryan’s so-called “Path to Prosperity” plan, you can read exactly what he intends to do with Medicare. Pages 50-54 explain his plans for tax reform. 

There are giant gimmicks and plenty is left unsaid, of course. But, yes, technically it is a plan, outlined in black and white and illustrated with colorful graphs and charts.

Is that courageous? Not on the level of, say, our returning veterans, for whom Ryan’s budget would slash support by 13 percent. No, he is remarkable only because — unlike the man at the top of the ticket, who is a shameless cipher — Ryan isn’t hiding the ball

Instead, he’s hitting struggling Americans in the face with it.

But however courageous you consider a congressman for actually revealing his policy preferences, Ryan’s blueprint — now the blueprint for the entire Republican Party — is profoundly uncourageous in its implications for the vast majority of the country.

Under Ryan’s plan, the wealthiest 1 percent would get a massive tax break. 

Meanwhile, Medicare would be privatized, leaving seniors with vouchers that could never keep up with rising health-care costs. It would slash programs helping struggling families stay afloat, such as food stamps and housing assistance, by nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade. Education and employment training — vital to our nation’s future — would be cut by a third. 

Ryan, whose great-grandfather founded a large road construction company, would spend 25 percent less than President Obama rebuilding our deteriorating infrastructure. 

And since gutting Medicaid and Medicare isn’t enough, he would also repeal the president’s health-care law, leaving tens of millions of people uninsured.

Cue the fanfare.

Recently, voters in focus groups refused to believe anyone would propose such a vicious plan. 

Back when the GOP retained a modicum of humanity, even many Republicans were shocked by how far Ryan went. In polls, people of both parties recoil from his proposal to end Medicare as we know it.

It is a plan, as the recently departed Gore Vidal said of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that so influenced Ryan, “nearly perfect in its immorality.” Ryan’s extremism bleeds into social issues. 

He saluted the troops on the deck of the USS Wisconsin, but voted against repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He has repeatedly voted for defunding Planned Parenthood and letting hospitals refuse emergency abortion care, even when a mother’s life is in danger. 

The right to love whom you want or to make decisions about your own body are not, apparently, among the rights that Ryan believes “nature and God” gave us.

In short, beneath that Ken doll head of hair, behind the carefully cultivated image of a brave pseudo-policy wonk, lies a cruel ideologue. And it’s Ryan’s GOP now.

© 2012 The Washinton Post

Paul Ryan was regarded as a bold pick to energize the Conservative base, but don't believe the hype. According to a report by Politico, the Paul Ryan pick has Republican operatives enraged and believing that Mitt Romney just cost Conservatives the White House. Not only that, by picking someone who's outspoken about ending Medicare as we know it, Republicans have put keeping and taking majorities in Congress in danger as well as Republican Members of Congress will be unable to run away from their Paul Ryan budget vote. 

As one unnamed Republican source was quoted as saying, "This is the day the music died." Then again, $3 billion in outside corporate cash funneled in this election to defeat President Obama can certainly keep the music playing for a few more tracks.

And one more thing – a quick correction to yesterday's news, which cited numbers from the Economic Policy Institute that Paul Ryan's budget will kill more than 8 million jobs through 2014.

That actual number is more than 4 million – with the unemployment rate expected to rise to 11.9 percent if the Ryan plan is enacted. Still! – bad news for our economy.

The Extremely Dangerous Roots Of Occupy Wall Street (As Perceived By Rush Limbaugh)

The 64-Gazillion-Dollar Question


A Top Authority On Poverty Has Changed His Mind About The Urgency Of Fighting Inequality.

Peter Edelman has battled poverty for nearly half a century — first as a top aide to Senator Robert Kennedy, later as a state and federal official, and currently as a key figure at a widely respected law and public policy center in Washington.(Neil Moralee/Flickr)

Over his years in and out of government, Edelman has probably earned as much respect as anyone in our nation's public policy community. Back in 1996, he did something few high-ranking federal officials ever do. He resigned in protest when President Bill Clinton signed a law that Edelman could not support in good conscience.

Edelman, then an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, publicly warned that the "welfare reform" that Clinton signed into law would be devastating for the nation's most vulnerable children. 

He turned out to be right. The number of children living in deep poverty — kids in families making under half the official poverty threshold — rose 70 percent from 1995 to 2005, and 30 percent more by 2010.

America's elected leaders didn't listen to Edelman in 1996. Now they have another chance. Edelman, currently a co-director at the Georgetown University Law Center, has just released a new book  — So Rich, So Poor — that aims "to look anew at why it is so hard to end American poverty."

You get the feeling from this candid new book that Edelman would be astonished if our elected leaders actually paid attention to his poverty-fighting prescriptions. So Rich, So Poor seems to address a different audience: the millions of decent Americans, from across the political spectrum, who share his outrage about our continuing deep poverty.

These Americans have a special reason for paying close attention to Edelman's new book. The author, one of the nation's most committed experts on poverty, has changed his mind — not about poverty and the poor, but about wealth and the rich.

"I used to believe," Edelman writes in his new book, "that the debate over wealth distribution should be conducted separately from the poverty debate, in order to minimize the attacks on antipoverty advocates for engaging in 'class warfare.' But now we literally cannot afford to separate the two issues."

Why? The "economic and political power of those at the top," Edelman explains, is "making it virtually impossible to find the resources to do more at the bottom."

Figuring out how we can achieve a more equal distribution of income and wealth has become, Edelman advises, "the 64-gazillion-dollar question."

"The only way we will improve the lot of the poor, stabilize the middle class, and protect our democracy," he notes, "is by requiring the rich to pay more of the cost of governing the country that enables their huge accretion of wealth."

What about those antipoverty activists and analysts who still yearn to keep poverty — the absence of wealth — separate from the concentration of wealth? Many of these folks, Edelman notes, argue that the rich as a group have no reason to oppose efforts to help end poverty.

Edelman's response? "More than anything else," he observes, the wealthy "want low taxes," and they know the taxes on their sky-high incomes will rise if government ever starts spending money to really help people in need.

"The wealth and income of the top 1 percent grows at the expense of everyone else," Edelman sums up in So Rich, So Poor. "Money breeds power, and power breeds more money. It is a truly vicious cycle."

Only average Americans have the wherewithal to end this cycle. Middle- and low-income Americans need to join in common cause. If they don't, Edelman bluntly adds, "we are cooked."

If two words can capture the extraordinary redistribution of wealth from workers to the wealthy over the past forty years, the flagrant shamelessness of contemporary conspicuous consumption, the privatization of what used to be public privileges and the wanton destruction of our atmosphere that is rapidly leading toward the extinction of nearly all non-human life on earth, all covered in a hypocritical pretense of pious environmental virtue ... those two words are Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic, billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism venture, is charging $200,000 a seat for a few minutes of weightlessness and a view from outer space. The firm has so far taken in $70 million in deposits from 536 passengers, according to an August 1 report from Reuters.

Call me old-fashioned, but I personally find it morally offensive that some people can afford to spend $200,000 on a three-minute experience when others can't afford food.

Food first, luxury yachts second and $200,000 suborbital flights last. That's my motto.

The explosion in private wealth, however, means that more than a few people can afford those $200,000 flights. A study paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration (that is, by you and me) concluded that more than 1,000 people a year would likely purchase suborbital space tours.

The study projects that 80 percent of demand for suborbital flights would come from wealthy individuals interested in space tourism, while business, research and government together would account for just 20 percent.

Across the world there are now 11 million high-net-worth individuals each with over $1 million in liquid assets, according to consulting firm Capgemini.

There are also about 2.8 billion people living on less than $2 a day, according to the most recent United Nations Millennium Development Goals report.

With the help of Virgin Galactic and other space tourism providers, the 11 million at the top can literally look down on the 2.8 billion at the bottom. As one "future astronaut" is actually quoted as saying in Virgin Galactic's online brochure:

"There are over 6 billion people on Earth. To be 1 of 6 astronauts in space looking down on them will be a very special thing."

I'm sure it will be.

At least it will be a very green special experience - or so claims Virgin Galactic. In various publications, they compare the carbon footprint of a space voyage roughly to that of a business-class flight from New York to London. Their best estimate is that each flight will generate roughly 0.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per passenger.

Of course, Virgin's New Mexico spaceport will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certified by the US Green Building Council. That is to say, the desert lair that millionaires fly to in their personal jets in order to catch their personal space flights will have remarkably efficient heating and cooling systems. Three cheers for the environment.

Low carbon footprints and fancy environmental certifications are the latest vogue in environmental legerdemain. A tar sands oil refinery could get LEED certification if it had good insulation and waterless urinals.

It's true that the solid fuel rockets used by Virgin Galactic produce relatively little carbon dioxide. Instead of carbon dioxide, they produce black soot.
In the lower atmosphere, soot is washed to the ground when it rains. In the stratosphere, it accumulates.

The stratospheric soot associated with space tourism would have a global warming effect 140,000 times that of the associated carbon dioxide emissions, according to a simulation study published in Geophysical Review Letters.

A space tourism industry of 1000 flights per year "could increase polar surface temperatures by 1° Celsius and reduce polar sea ice by 5-15 percent," according to a summary of the study published in Nature.

Space used to be a shared endeavor. When Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, he took one giant leap for mankind. We might question the wisdom of accelerating global warming in order to explore the moon, but at least in some symbolic sense we did it together.

Now we can do it alone. In its online brochure, Virgin Galactic invites you to "see your world turn upside down."

"One of Virgin Galactic's primary objectives is to end the exclusivity that has been attached to manned space travel, by designing a vehicle which can fly almost anyone to space and back safely" for $200,000.

I think I've just seen my world turn upside down.

This crisis is not going away. Officially begun late in 2007, nearly five years later, no end is in sight. Trillions in government-funded bailouts and interventions failed to do the trick. The private sector's hyped resilience disappeared. "Recoveries" proved weak, uneven and short-lived. The president who rode the crisis into power risks being ridden out by its persistence.

It Is Difficult To Imagine And Impossible To Count All The Costs Of This Persistence.

Consider, just for examples, (1) damaged physical and mental health of the unemployed, (2) rising anxiety about increasingly insecure jobs and benefits, (3) strained and destroyed relationships, (4) interrupted or aborted educations and (5) lost skills and job connections. Consider, too, the gross inefficiencies (tens of millions of unemployed alongside trillions in unused raw materials, tools, equipment, offices, factories and stores; millions of empty homes alongside millions of people rendered homeless by the crisis).

Five major reasons shape this crisis's persistence.

First is the exhausted purchasing power of the US working class. Capitalist employers raised profits by replacing workers with computers since the 1970s and by relocating production jobs to lower wages abroad. Later, they likewise exported white-collar and service jobs.

The previous century's history of steadily rising real wages ended and thereby threatened the rising consumption which had created ever more jobs in capitalism's virtuous cycle.

Starting in the 1970s, that cycle turned and became vicious instead. Real wages stopped rising as jobs dried up. For a while, rising workers' debts papered over the vicious cycle.

But eventually, the combination of rising debts and stagnating wages exhausted the working class' purchasing power. Today, workers' real wages continue to stagnate or fall and they cannot sustain more debt.

Since big business, the banks, the Fed, Republicans and Democrats have done nothing to deal with the basic real wages problem in the US economy, the crisis persists.

Second, large nonfinancial corporations, in their competitive rush to low-wage investments in China and elsewhere, have created yet again excessive capacity to produce creating more pressure on already-depressed US workers' real wages.

They cannot sell all their automobiles, electronics, and so on. So, they reduce hiring - which only worsens their selling problems.

They accumulate hoards of cash for which they cannot find profitably productive outlets.

They blame politicians - yet, make sure those politicians say and do nothing about the wage problem or the irrationality and social irresponsibility of those corporation's self-defeating capacity-building investments. So, the crisis persists.

Third, large financial corporations took bailouts and used them to become even bigger than before 2007, to water down new regulations provoked by the crisis, to lend to over-indebted governments and to find new speculations.

Finance is riding a 40-year wave of growth as debts became the way workers, corporations and governments do most of their business (from buying groceries with credit cards to borrowing to pay for college to exploding national debts).

Financial companies handle all this debt (they issue the credit cards, buy the government debt  etc.) and profit from every step in every loan and loan-based speculation.

Financial companies also collect the wealth concentrated in the top 1 percent and invest it for them.

They compete for those wealthy clients by promising ever better returns that require them to take rising risks.

That helped to generate the financial part of the current capitalist crisis. Nothing is being done to deal with the underlying problem of proliferating debt-dependence and its vast economic and social costs. Finance remains a major cause for crisis persistence.

Fourth, corruption and dysfunction, impossible to disentangle, afflict US politics more than ever.

They preclude any serious economic intervention other than massive bailouts for the well-connected (i.e. well-paying) big business patrons of politics. Thin rationales based on "trickle-down economics" cover those bailouts.

Endless "inducements, incentives, jaw-boning," and other appeals to big business (to hire, lend, invest, or otherwise stimulate the economy) sustain the fiction of government activity while business ignores, mocks or abuses them. The obvious alternatives - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's (FDR) creation of the Social Security, unemployment compensation and massive federal hiring systems during the last comparable capitalist crisis - are treated by political leaders as if they never happened.

These leaders offer no argument for rejecting an FDR-type alternative now - nor do they admit their policies' failures to end or reverse the crisis. So, the crisis persists.

Fifth, no domestic opposition nor external alternative model is sufficiently strong to compel or frighten political and business leaders to end or at least significantly reduce the mass burdens imposed by this crisis.

In the 1930s, FDR intervened in large part because of domestic pressures exerted by the intertwined forces of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, socialist and communist parties that had successfully organized millions into labor unions and many thousands into the parties' ranks.

The other cause of his interventions was fear concerning the USSR, a concrete alternative that avoided the Great Depression while "taking care" of its people in ways that attracted attention and support among US workers and intellectuals. After the World War, the business community led sustained campaigns to undo exactly those causes of FDR's interventions.

Big business mobilized its political allies and subordinates to encircle, intimidate and undermine the USSR militarily, to use anti-communism against the socialist and communist parties and to direct endless assaults against the legal protections and ideological supports for labor unions.

The success of those campaigns yields the current situation. No opposition yet exists (the Occupy movement is a first step) comparable to what was achieved in the 1930s and early 1940s.

Having first destroyed its working class' defensive organizations, US capitalism now can and does impose on that class the immense social costs of its latest extreme periodic convulsion. Hence, the crisis persists and becomes a central economic and political issue of our time.

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