12 “Pants On Fire” Myths About ObamaCare

Yesterday the Tea Party Texan, Ted Cruz, wrapped up a 21 hour talk-athon during which he couldn’t articulate a single fact that might convince an open-minded person that ObamaCare is the nightmare that he alleges. Rather, he rambled aimlessly through Dr. Seuss recitations, White Castle burger recollections, and Nazi references.

The truth about the Affordable Care Act is something that Republicans are deathly afraid of – that it will be effective and popular – which is why they lie about it so often and so flagrantly.

What Cruz could not do in 21 hours, PolitiFact has summed up nicely in a few paragraphs. They posted an article that contains sixteen “myths” that have been promulgated by right-wing disinformers, complete with links to detailed explanations that expose the brazen dishonesty of the health care law’s opponents. Included are familiar lies like “the health care law rations care, like systems in Canada and Great Britain,” and that “Congress is exempt from Obamacare.” But it is notable that of the sixteen lies listed, twelve of them earned the worst award that PolitiFact gives, the “Pants On Fire” designation.

As a public service, I have created a handy infographic with the 12 worst lies about ObamaCare as documented by PolitiFact. Please share this with your Tea Party infected friends and family.

ObamaCare Myths

And please be Sure To “LIKE” News Corpse On Facebook

Let’s Get Ready To CRUMBLE: Glenn Beck Ducks WWE Challenge

Glenn Beck and professional wrestling. Who could have imagined a collision between these two disparate media phenomenons?

After all, one of them is perhaps the most notorious entertainment spectacle of the last fifty years and involves a highly choreographed production of television broadcasts that purport to be genuine, but are in fact as phony as Bigfoot’s Snake Oil Elixir. Nevertheless, it hooked a surprisingly large audience of gullible viewers starved for over-the-top melodrama and sweaty, wild-eyed brawls.

And the other one is professional wrestling.

Indeed, Glenn Beck’s Acute Paranoia Revue and Holy Huckster Sideshow seems like the perfect match up with pro wrestling. They are both so divinely cartoonish and dripping with cheap theatrics that it’s a wonder someone hadn’t thought of it sooner. But Sadly, it’s not to be.

Glenn Beck Wimped Out

After the WWE debuted a couple of characters modeled after Tea Party wackos, Beck bounded into the proverbial ring to slam the sham Teabaggers and the horse they rode in on. That horse, by the way, was the property of two-time Teapublican senate loser, and WWE’s owner, Linda McMahon. Clearly this is not an organization run by Obama functionaries or progressive rabble.

Dimwitted wrestler Jack Swagger and his hillbilly manager Zeb Colter were a pretty accurate representation of the rednecks who mindlessly spew patriotic jargon and blame all their failures on minorities. But Beck wasn’t having it. He declared that he was sick and tired of being miscast and wasn’t about to allow these twits to besmirch the image of his precious Tea Party. With classic WWE bravado Beck taunted his nemeses saying…

“I can take it from a lot of people. I really can. I can’t take it from the stupid wrestling people.”

You can almost imagine him center-ring, yelling that into a microphone hanging from the ceiling. This is the Beck who has called himself a rodeo clown and just last month said that he considers what he does to be “like circus performer art.” Having thrown down the gauntlet, the ball was now in the court of the wrestling duo. So Swagger and Colter struck back inviting Beck to appear on their show and defend the honor (such as it is) of “We the Teaple.” In a video challenge they said…

“You know, Glenn, many of your followers are WWE fans and they understand the difference between reality and entertainment. Are you so out of touch with your own audience, Glenn, or are you just a ‘stupid’ political commentator.”

They were obviously giving Beck’s fans more credit than they deserved with regard to their alleged understanding of reality. But they were also giving Beck a sterling opportunity to address the millions of WWE viewers (10 times more than any audience Beck ever had), and explain why Swagger’s character offended him. But rather than meet his opponents in the ring, Beck pulled the covers up over his head and tweeted that he is “currently booked doing anything else.”

It’s inevitable that big-mouths like Beck reveal themselves to be cowards. But this exceeds all boundaries of wimposity. Beck is trembling before fictional foes. It would be one thing if Beck was afraid to debate Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher, experienced communicators who have obvious intelligence and wit. But to shrink from facing off with a fake adversary on a scripted television farce demonstrates just how paper thin Beck’s veneer of bombast really is.

Fox News Ravaged By Free Market As Viewers Flee, Primetime Ratings Dive To Pre-9/11 Lows

Continuing a downward spiral that began last September during the Democratic National Convention, Fox News primetime ratings, in the key 25-54 year old demographic, have declined to numbers they haven’t seen since August of 2001. These are numbers that revert Fox back to the George Bush, pre-9/11 era when Fox was struggling for attention.

Cable News Ratings

9/11 was an integral part of the rise of Fox News. It was the catalyst that formed their America-first persona and thrust them into a role as cheerleaders rather than journalists.

These twelve year lows for their best known programs portend trouble for Fox as their audience tires of a schedule that hasn’t changed in more than a decade. Creaky old timers O’Reilly and Hannity have been in their time slots since the network launched in 1996. Worse yet for Fox, their slump is occurring at a time when MSNBC is soaring. For most of the time since last November’s election, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have been beating Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity in the demo. In addition to those victories, most of MSNBC’s programs are the top performers among 18-34 year olds, which means that they have a significant advantage with the next generation of television news consumers. MSNBC is also number one with African-American viewers, a status they have enjoyed for 36 consecutive months.

The graying Fox News is a phenomenon that is occurring with both their programs and their audience. While many of Fox’s shows held steady in total audience, they plunged in the younger demos. This was true across the board with primetime and all other dayparts, including their three hour morning block, Fox & Friends. Conversely, MSNBC’s audience was up in both the demo and total audience. The ratings story for MSNBC is no longer merely one of faster growth and higher percentage gains. They are now beating their Fox competition head-on in primetime and challenging them respectably in daytime.

For the most part it appears that MSNBC’s gains are coming from new, younger viewers. They certainly are not luring dissatisfied Fox viewers over to their channel. However, Fox now has to worry about a rebuilding CNN. Their new president Jeff Zucker is shaking up the roster with announcements of hirings and firings both in front of and behind the camera. Considering that the previous management at CNN was so inept and oblivious to the news marketplace, it is hard to believe that Zucker won’t produce some improvement. And with Fox viewers abandoning the network that has been lying to them so brazenly, CNN may start to look like a plausible alternative.

Of course, as the ratings race heats up, Fox may decide to stop standing around watching their lead disappear. They will need to take bold steps to keep up with the competition. While O’Reilly is still pulling in decent numbers, Hannity is ratings loser and an embarrassment in terms of credibility. He has to be the first to go. Greta Van Susteren’s claim to fame was as an O.J. Simpson groupie who has never risen out of the tabloid mold in which she was formed. Now that her best pal and frequent guest (55 times), Sarah Palin, has been dumped by Fox, Van Susteren would be wise to update her resume. The most likely candidate to fill one of those vacancies would be Megyn Kelly, who has emerged as Fox’s most stridently biased anchor in the daytime.

There are those at Fox who know that a big part of the explanation for their decline is that the audience at large is no longer interested in the vitriolic smear jobs that Fox has specialized in for most of the past decade. They just watched President Obama get reelected, along with Democratic gains in both houses of Congress, despite their fierce determination to kneecap the Democrats and prop up the flailing GOP. They did the best they could to install a Republican regime with a coordinated campaign of propaganda and hate speech, but they failed miserably even in races they were expected to win. So they are aware that the public has rejected their best arguments and lies.

The trick will be to moderate their political biases in order to appeal to a broader audience without causing their loyalist legions to pull up stakes and camp out on Alex Jones’ web site plotting a restoration of the Confederacy from their bunkers. Spurned conservative extremists of the sort that form the foundation of the Fox audience are a vengeful lot. They primary long-serving GOP incumbents and replace them with crackpots who have no chance of winning. And that’s the sort of reaction they would have to any attempt by Fox to become less wingnutty. The Fox regulars would not only stop watching a more moderate Fox, they would turn against it with the force of a swarm of rabid squirrels deranged by disease and paranoia.

That leaves Fox in the impossible position of having to cater to their faithful fringe while reaching out to more rational viewers. It simply can’t be done and they would displease both. The only sensible course for Fox would be to accept a few seasons in the cellar as they regroup with a focus on responsible journalism. But that isn’t the style of the hardcore rightists in the Fox executive suites. Neither Rupert Murdoch nor Roger Ailes would be inclined to surrender the platform they built for wealthy elitists, captains of industry, Christian evangelists, and other power mad egomaniacs who are convinced that God has selected them to rule.

The good news is that their self-centered intransigence will insure that Fox continues to slide into obscurity and the people will have a better opportunity shape a more equitable society. Of course, the people would still have to overcome the rest of the media-corporate-government complex that has long been the biggest obstacle to a truly democratic nation. But it’s a start.

If [fill in the blank] Had Guns Hitler Would Have Married Gandhi On Matching Unicorns

The Reality-Challenged Case For Arming Everyone

The conservative congregation of gun worshipers is pulling out all the stops to prevent any dialogue on gun safety and common sense measures that might protect citizens from the sort of mass carnage that has shocked Americans recently in places like Newtown, Aurora, and Tuscon. With the help of right-wing media, notably Fox News, they are promulgating fear and hostility as a response to a political difference of opinion over how to make our communities safer.

Gun Nutz Problem Solver

They mantra from the right is that Obama is a tyrant who will abolish the Constitution and confiscate all guns. While there is not even an inkling of evidence that any of that is true, the terrifying specter of a dictatorial slave state is flushing through the veins of pseudo-patriots who pretend to revere America and the soldiers who defend it, but are adamant that they retain sufficient firepower to massacre them if necessary. That’s how they thank our heroes for their service.

In the rhetorical battle to preserve their alleged right to carry weapons of carnage into schools and bars and laundromats and baseball stadiums, the Gunnies are now declaring that every threatened or oppressed group of people would have been better off if they had been armed to the hilt and prepared to blow away their assailants. Reality is at variance with these apocryphal claims, but that doesn’t lessen their feverish insistence that a fire-with-fire response to every conflict will bring about a peaceful, secure society. Despite the obvious contradiction in that view, conservative mouthpieces are expressing remarkably similar themes that arrive at the same conclusion: If [fill in the blank] had guns the good guys would always win and violence would become a thing of the past (er, like the wild west?). It’s a Fox Nation style argument that dispenses with truth in favor of hyperbole and historical revisionism. For instance…

If Civil Rights Activists Had Guns…

Rush Limbaugh: “If a lot of African-Americans back in the ’60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed [to march at] Selma?”

This astonishingly blockheaded statement ignores the fact that the civil rights activists protesting segregation and discrimination in Selma, Alabama were devoted to peaceful change. They were led by Martin Luther King who was inspired by the non-violent methods practiced by Gandhi. It was a successful strategy that resulted in profound changes in both government and people’s hearts. In effect Limbaugh is expressing solidarity with the Black Panthers and suggesting that armed protesters shooting at southern sheriffs would have brought about a better result. However, the presence of guns would only have put everyone in greater danger, sapped the moral advantage of the protesters and produced more corpses all around. And Limbaugh would have been the first to condemn them for their reliance on violence.

If Slaves Had Guns…

Gun advocate Larry Ward: “If African Americans had been given the right to keep and bear arms from day one of the country’s founding, perhaps slavery might not have been a chapter in our history.”

Of course. If the slave traders had given each of their human “cargo” a musket along with their shackles they would have been able to kill off their prospective masters and enjoy life in the new world. I’m sure that Ward and the others propounding this theory would have been delighted to hear that armed slave rebellions had put folks like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in their graves before they ever got around to declaring independence from the British. Furthermore, the unorganized, disoriented, involuntary African immigrants would have had no problem dispatching the southern slave states that a civil war with the rest of the nation struggled with for years at horrendous human cost.

If Jews Had Guns…

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Fox News: “If the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had had the firepower and ammunition that the Nazis did, some of Poland might have stayed free and more persons would have survived the Holocaust.”

Once again, the dimwits on the right think that civilians of an oppressed minority would have managed to overcome a military power that held at bay most of the free world. Apparently Napolitano believes that the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had some superpowers that, were they armed, would have made them a more ominous opponent than the Americans, the Russians, the English, and the French combined.

If Schools Had Guns…

Ann Coulter: “Only one policy has reduced these mass shootings and the number of casualties, and that is concealed carry permits. If you want to reduce the number of dead, and the number of times this is going to happen in an area, you sort of sense this, because they so often happen at public schools.”

Something that the Gunnies seem all to willing to excise from the debate is the fact that prior incidents of shootings at schools occurred despite there being armed guards present. That was the case at Columbine. It was also the case at Virginia Tech where they had a whole armed police squad on campus. Despite their best intentions, guards cannot be everywhere at once. And they also are often at a disadvantage when confronted by an assailant with a military style arsenal and bullet-proof gear who gets the jump on them.

If Teachers Had Guns…

Pat Robertson: “The truth is, if teachers had guns in classes, these shooters wouldn’t come in because they would be afraid of getting shot themselves.”

The truth is, that teachers are frequently the first victims of school shootings. The time it would take them to retrieve a weapon from a place that is safe enough for it to be stored in a classroom full of students would be plenty of time for an assailant with an AR-15 to riddle them with bullets. Robertson also forgets that most of these assaults are perpetrated by people who end up taking their own lives, so it is ridiculous to regard them as being afraid of getting shot themselves. And the presence of others with weapons certainly didn’t deter the shooter at the Ft. Hood Army base in Texas, where he certainly had reason to believe that there were other armed persons in the vicinity.

The speculative query as to whether there would have been a different outcome in any of these situations if [fill in the blank] had guns is just plain lunacy. It would be dubious under any circumstances to pretend to predict what might have occurred in these after-the-fact scenarios, but the specific examples chosen by these Gunnies demonstrate how blinded they are by their prejudices and violent, video game fantasies. The speculation could go on indefinitely. What if the women suffragettes had guns? What if the students at Kent State had guns?

What if Jesus and his disciples had guns? Pontius Pilate might have been riddled with armor-piercing bullets. There would have been no crucifixion. In fact, the soldiers and pharisees who arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane would have been slaughtered. It was there that Jesus admonished his disciple Peter, who took up his sword to defend him, saying “He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.” That’s a lesson the sanctimonious gun evangelists still haven’t learned 2,000 years later.

A Very Merry Christmas For MSNBC – A Very Unhappy Holiday For Fox News

The Christmas Wars:
It has suddenly become clear why Fox News has been so fixated on inciting a “War on Christmas.” It must be because the Christmas season has been devastatingly cruel to Fox News. This year the Nielsen ratings left a smoldering lump of coal in Fox’s stocking despite all the pandering they did to Old St. Nick. Apparently Fox was very naughty. Santa doesn’t approve of lying and, perhaps, viewers are getting tired of it as well (see Fox News Fux Up: The 12 Worst Wrongs Of 2012).

MSNBC/Fox News Ratings

Maddow and O’Donnell Jingle Fox’s Bells:
For the month of December, two-thirds of the Fox News primetime lineup came in second to MSNBC (in the critical 25-54 year old demographic). The Rachel Maddow Show’s monthly average came in 4% above the formidable Fox fixture, Sean Hannity. Lawrence O’Donnell had an even better advantage of 11% over his weaker competition, Greta Van Susteren.

This was a stark difference from last year when Hannity comfortably led Maddow by 46% and Van Susteren outpaced O’Donnell by the same amount. Those leads have now completely evaporated. Only Bill O’Reilly has managed to keep his fat head above water, although his 69% December 2011 lead over Ed Schultz was cut nearly in half in 2012 to 40%.

December 2012 was an affirmation of the superior performance MSNBC has shown since the election in November. Maddow and O’Donnell have consistently defeated Hannity and Van Susteren since President Obama did the same thing to Mitt Romney. This can no longer be explained away by Fox defenders as mere depression on the part of conservative viewers who tuned out after an electoral spanking. That excuse may have made sense for a week or two, but not a full two months later with high profile news events like the “fiscal cliff,” new cabinet appointments, Benghazi hearings, the Petraeus scandal, and the Newtown school shooting dominating news coverage.

Happy New Year:
Fox may have to get used to coming in second, or maybe even third if CNN’s new president, Jeff Zucker, is able to get that network out of idle. And if MSNBC is smart they will start to firm up their schedule with new shows and dynamic personalities. For instance, they should quickly axe the Hardball rerun at 7:00pm, perhaps moving Schultz to that time slot. Then put in his place a leadin to Maddow that takes advantage of the smart brand of analysis and commentary that she and O’Donnell represent. That would tie up their primetime package and boost the network’s reputation generally, which would help draw viewers to other dayparts.

Unsolicited programming advice for MSNBC:
Poach comedian/pundit John Fugelsang from Current TV and pair him up with MSNBC contributor Joy-Ann Reid for a combo news and entertainment hybrid to launch the evening block. A news program that intelligently presents serious issues with a sense of humor could be a compelling option that would ease their audience into a deeper dialog as the night progresses.

[Update 1/4/13] MSNBC has reported their 2011/2012 year-over-year ratings and the numbers are starkly positive compared to their competition. They are up in most categories by double digits (for both total viewers and the 25-54 demo), while Fox News had only slight gains or declines. In fact, both O’Reilly and Hannity delivered their lowest demo performance since 2007. Both Maddow and Donnell were number one for the year in the 18-34 demo, giving them a head start on next generation of viewers.

Fox News Makes Shameful Attack On MSNBC’s Touré

In a Fox News op-ed, Dan Gainor, of the uber-conservative Media Research Center, hurled some disparaging and nearly incoherent insults at Touré, one of the hosts of MSNBC’s The Cycle.

Gainor took issue with a commentary Touré delivered (video below) about the GOP’s unfounded and politically-motivated attack on UN ambassador Susan Rice. Touré made some rather cogent points about the spectacle Rice’s critics, particularly Sen. John McCain, were making over a manufactured controversy. McCain and others seem feverishly obsessed with Amb. Rice’s comments on a number of Sunday news programs regarding Benghazi. Any fair observer would have to recognize that what Rice said was provided to her by intelligence authorities and was the best information available (or permitted to be disclosed) at the time. But fair observation is not the business that Gainor and the MRC are in.

Gainor’s tirade was topped with a headline that read “MSNBC Anchor Touré makes shameful attack on McCain.” What constitutes shamefulness to Gainor is hard to figure. His specific complaints were that Touré was playing the “race card” in his remarks. But Gainor’s examples were not the least bit focused on race. For instance, Gainor cited Touré saying that McCain…

“…gave us the horrible optics of he and Lindsey Graham as old, white, establishment folks wrongly and repeatedly attacking a much younger black woman moments after an election in which blacks and women went strongly blue.”

Gainor’s shallow grasp of the English language resulted in his interpreting that as a racial criticism of McCain. However, the rest of the English speaking world would notice that Touré was speaking about the “optics” of the criticism, not whether there was any actual racism involved. Touré was plainly addressing the potential harm for the Republican Party in being perceived as insensitive to racial and gender issues by repeatedly attacking minorities and women. That’s not an accusation of racism or sexism, it is an acknowledgement that the subjects of such attacks might be less likely to support those who make the attacks. That’s not only common sense, it is precisely what occurred on election day a couple of weeks ago. And to affirm how cognitively-challenged Gainor is, he added this as further evidence of Touré’s alleged race-baiting:

“Never one to ignore a chance to paint all Republicans as racist, he added one more dig: ‘Looks like the GOP is already laying the foundation for losing in 2016.’”

How is that one more “dig” that paints anyone as racist? If anything, it is one more affirmation that Touré was speaking only about political matters. Nevertheless, Gainor is determined to turn this into a “shameful” racial affair. With that purpose in mind Gainor reached back to a September column wherein Touré wrote “Part of my job when I speak about politics is to speak up for black people and say things black people need said.” If Gainor thinks that that is shameful, he needs an EKG EEG stat, because there is good reason to suspect that there is no brain activity going on his head. The reason that it is important to have diversity in the media is precisely because it provides perspectives that otherwise would not be represented. Our media is enhanced by the inclusion of minorities and women who say the things that these previously excluded members of society need said.

Notwithstanding the fact that Gainor’s tantrum over Touré’s commentary was ridiculous and he failed to identify anything remotely racial about it, Fox News is demonstrably racist and the evidence of that is in its coverage. While it may be too broad to say that Fox’s attacks on Amb. Rice alone constitute racism, take a look at some of the most prominent targets of Fox’s smear machine and ask yourself what they have in common:

Fox News Racism

That pretty much says it all. If Touré had wanted to make an issue of racism, he would have plenty of evidence.

[Reprise] The REAL Job Creators: Share This Infographic To Undo GOP Fallacy

With the presidential election behind us, the public discourse turns once again to more substantive matters, first of which is the fearful prospect of the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Setting aside the fact that the cliff itself is a figment of media imagination, it is nevertheless necessary for congress to address tax policy.

As the debate heats up in advance of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, conservatives are trotting out their tired rhetoric about the risk of allowing tax cuts for the rich to expire and the allegedly detrimental impact it would have on what they call job creators. However, they are deliberately distorting facts in order to benefit their wealthy patrons. Last year I published an analysis of the right-wing effort to confuse the issue along with an infographic that laid out the case for who the real job creators are. This seems like a good time to re-publish it and direct credit for creating jobs to those who actually deserve it.


Occupy Messaging: Who Are The Real Job Creators?

December 13, 2011

For too long now, right-wing propagandists like Frank Luntz have been manipulating language to distort the real issues that impact so many lives of American citizens. They engage in dishonest wordcraft that disguises their true meaning in order to shape public opinion and deceive voters. It’s time to counter that rhetorical offensive by restoring definitions that actually reflect reality.

One of the most recent and insidious examples of this practice is the conservative effort to replace references to “the rich” with the phrase “job creators.” It is of no interest to these hacks that no evidence exists to validate the claim. In fact, NPR’s congressional reporter, Tamara Keith, asked members of congress and representatives of conservative business groups to refer her to business people who could substantiate the assertion that tax cuts for the wealthy would induce them to increase hiring. They were unable to come up with a single name or example to affirm their half-baked theory. However, Keith found several examples of her own that utterly refuted it. This caused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to note that “Millionaire job creators are like unicorns. They are impossible to find and don’t exist.”

The agenda that Republicans have adopted has literally no popular constituency. Every poll taken on the subject reveals that majorities of Americans (including majorities of Republicans) favor increasing taxes on the rich. Even polls of the rich show that they believe that they are not presently sharing the sacrifice required to restore the nation’s economic health. An independent group of Patriotic Millionaires released a video beseeching Congress to raise their taxes.

So the next time you hear some GOP flunky whining about the plight of the rich whose only desire is to be unburdened from the shackles of what are the lowest taxes in decades, remember that they have not, and cannot, certify any claim that lower taxes will spur hiring. In fact, the evidence is all to the contrary. And whenever possible, we need to recapture the phrase “job creators” and use it in a manner that is more in line with reality. Here is a handy, shareable chart that illustrates who the real job creators are:

(click to view larger)
Job Creators


Some conservatives are beginning to admit that lavishing benefits on those who are already wealthy does nothing to stimulate the economy. Bill Kristol recently said that “It won’t kill the country if Republicans raise taxes a little bit on millionaires.” Ben Stein, with some apparent reluctance, told Gretchen Carlson that “With all due respect to Fox…” “We’re going to have to raise taxes on very, very rich people.”

This is the beginning of the wall crumbling down. The right knows that they cannot continue to be seen as only fighting for the welfare of the rich. They know that they have already lost this argument and that now it is only a matter of finding a way to concede without losing face (or Tea Party support).

Greetings From Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts Misery

Mitt Romney has been running a campaign focused almost entirely on negative attacks against President Obama. He relentlessly misrepresents Obama’s record and public statements in a frantic effort to diminish the President, while avoiding any discussion of his own questionable qualifications for office. And there is good reason for Romney to want to run from his record. His resume contains only two items to persuade the American people to vote for him:

The first item is his tenure as the CEO of Bain Capital, an investment firm that specialized in leveraging struggling companies by downsizing their workforce (he likes firing people), drowning them in debt, and then draining those assets to enrich Bain shareholders prior to shutting the companies down. Not exactly the skill set for a nation that hopes to stick around for a while.

The second item is his reign as governor of Massachusetts. Remember that? He almost never speaks of it. And the reason why is conveniently illustrated in this handy, shareable infographic:

Massachusetts Misery

So a governor who presided over nearly the worst job creation in the nation (here’s an InfoGraphic of The Real Job Creators), raised taxes on the middle class, and left a billion dollar deficit for his successor, now tells the country that his business experience is the backbone of his candidacy. But that experience didn’t do much good for the people of Massachusetts.

The truth is, based on Romney’s experience, the failure of his administration in Massachusetts was entirely predictable. He has pretty good credentials as a corporate raider and an investment manager if you are looking to hire someone who is skilled at extracting profits from companies headed toward bankruptcy. But if you are looking for a leader with expertise in growing the economy with a long-term perspective on creating wealth for a broad range of citizens (not just the 1%), then Romney’s background is not only irrelevant, it is a contra-indicator for success.

Voting for Mitt Romney for president would be like hiring an arsonist to put out a fire.

A Pictorial History Of Gas Prices As Presented By Fox News

For most of the first half of this year Fox News has relentlessly lambasted President Obama for rising gas prices. The narrative from Fox was that the increase was entirely the fault of the President, despite the fact that experts attributed the rise to lower international demand, political volatility in the Middle East, and other strictly market-based events.

Now that gas prices have fallen significantly, failing to reach the outrageous predictions of Fox News analysts, Fox has largely ignored the issue. So it seems like a good time to offer a quick pictorial reminder of how Fox frames their brazenly biased reporting.

Fox News Gas Prices

Dishonest as always, Fox News is feverishly striving to demonize Obama and canonize Romney. If Fox continues to act as a surrogate for the GOP they should lose their broadcast license. They are not a news enterprise, they are the the PR arm of the Republican Party.

The Punisher: Mitt Romney Laughably Says Obama Is Intent On Punishing People

A few days ago President Obama delivered a speech in which he reminded his audience that everyone who succeeds in America has done so with the help of other Americans. We are all mutually dependent on the resources and civic projects that keep this country humming. The President made the point that even he was a beneficiary of the social and economic collective advancement that’s historically been a part of our nation’s framework. He noted that “Somebody gave me an education. I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn’t. But somebody gave us a chance.” However, in the past few decades, something changed in our country. As Dylan Ratigan says in his book Greedy Bastards

“[S]omething has gone wrong in America. For the last few decades, the rising tide has been lifting only the yachts. Almost anywhere you look, if you just open your eyes, you will see ordinary, hardworking people struggling. Not far away you’ll find a few greedy bastards making out like bandits. What defines greedy bastards? It’s not merely that they’re rich. [...] Greedy bastards have given up on creating value for others and instead get their money by rigging the game so that they can steal from the rest of us.”

That’s the heart, and what passes for the soul of Mitt Romney, who somehow extracted an interpretation of the President’s words that led to the absurd criticism that, “This is a president more intent on punishing people than he is on building our economy.” However, when even a cursory examination of the facts is made, it’s clear that it is Romney who is The Punisher. His policies, if enacted, will punish a broad spectrum of Americans from almost every possible constituent group. For instance…

1. WOMEN:
Despite telling representatives of Planned Parenthood that he supported Roe v. Wade when he was running for governor of Massachusetts, he now says that he believes that life begins at conception and that the historic Supreme Court ruling should be overturned. And while the health care plan he implemented as governor included coverage for abortions and contraception, he is now fervently opposed to such coverage. He has also expressed his opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Act that Obama signed in order to assist women seeking equal pay and relief from workplace discrimination.

2. THE POOR:
Earlier this year Romney famously declared that he is “not concerned about the very poor [because] We have a safety net there.” Clearly Romney has never had to avail himself of the services provided to those reliant on the safety net, or he might be a little more concerned. He might also not have developed a tax plan that would further cut taxes for the wealthy while raising them for lower income citizens.

3. WORKERS:
Once again, Romney let his true feeling be known when he gushed that he “like[s] being able to fire people.” That being the case, it is no wonder that he regards unions as impediments to his goals. He blames unions for many of the nation’s economic problems and promised a policy to forbid union preferences in federal contracting beginning on his inauguration day.

4. GAYS AND LESBIANS:
Romney is adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and open homosexuality in the armed services. This is another position that conflicts his record in Massachusetts where in 1994 he campaigned for a senate seat saying that he would be even an stronger advocate of gay rights than Ted Kennedy.

5. AUTO COMPANIES/EMPLOYEES:
Romney considers Michigan, where his father was once governor, one of his many home states. Nevertheless, he was so against a stimulus package for the auto industry that he publicly stated his preference that they should be allowed to go bankrupt. The stimulus was provided by the Obama administration and today GM has retaken its position as the number one car manufacturer in the world. And that was achieved with no help from Romney who even traveled around the country giving speeches that disparaged the company’s products, particularly the Chevy Volt which now receives high praise from industry experts and consumers.

6. LATINOS:
Romney has staked out an extremist position on immigration that will not endear him to Latinos. He has called Arizona’s SB1070, a law that nearly criminalizes being brown-skinned, “a model for the nation.” Romney opposes the DREAM Act that would establish residency for immigrants who came to the United States as children and then served in the military or completed college. But a Romney administration would expect these, and all immigrants, to self-deport.

7. SENIORS:
If you are 65 years old, or ever expect to be, Romney is intent on making your golden years somewhat less shiny. He advocates raising the retirement age to eligible for Social Security benefits. He supports moving funds into private accounts that would fluctuate with the uncertainties of the stock market. And he has proposed tying increases to the Consumer Price Index rather than the Wage Index, which would significantly undercut the purchasing power of seniors dependent on a fixed income.

8. ANYONE WHO CARES ABOUT CIVIL LIBERTIES:
For anyone concerned about the rights granted by Supreme Court decisions, Romney carries a frighteningly extreme portfolio. He has said that would nominate judges like Roberts, Alito, and Scalia to the bench. But even more disturbing, he recently brought on Robert Bork as his new top legal adviser. Bork was the man behind the “Saturday Night Massacre” where two Justice Department leaders resigned rather than fire the Special Prosecutor investigating Watergate. It was Bork who stayed and carried out Nixon’s orders. Bork also once called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 “a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”

9. RESIDENTS OF EARTH:
Three words: Drill baby drill. Romney is a staunch advocate of exploiting fossil fuels on land and at sea. He is a critic of off-shore oil bans and a supporter the KeystoneXL pipeline that risks contaminating ground water in order to enrich refineries who intend to ship the oil products overseas. Although he has said that he believes that global warming exists and the it may be caused by human activity, he is opposed to addressing the problem with regulations that he believes would impair economic growth. Because economic growth is more important than having a planet on which to grow.

10. DOGS:
Just ask Seamus, the poor Irish Setter who was forced to ride in a cage on the roof of the family station wagon while on a 600 mile road trip.

Mitt Romney has a resume and an agenda that promises pain for average Americans. He would increase the financial burdens of the poor, reduce the protection of agencies that monitor everything from Wall Street to toxins in foods. He respects only wealth and, consequently, has assembled a program that could be called Trickle-Down on Steroids. Yet he has the audacity to accuse President Obama of wanting to punish people simply because the President’s plan asks billionaires to pay a few percentage points more on their wildly extravagant income.

Romney thinks it’s punishment to return to the tax rates of the 90s when the economy was booming, but he can’t comprehend the punishment of millions of families losing their homes, thousands of students losing their grants, innumerable sick people unable to get necessary treatment, or communities across the nation being exploited by greedy corporations and politicians like Romney. In Romney’s world it is better to protect one American millionaire than a million Americans. It’s the code of the Greedy Bastards.

Mitt Romney - The Punisher

The Top 5 Tax Myths Of The GOP Spin Machine

As this election year commences with the media focused on the Republican Clown Car Primary, the American people are are being barraged by ludicrous campaign stunts, dumbfounding debate performances, and the usual mix of dishonesty and hatred that the GOP has fine-tuned for decades.

For the most part, the caterwauling of Republicans has drowned out any rebuttal by Democrats and the press seem content to deliver just one side of the political argument. For instance, the GOP (Greedy One Percent) continue to peddle their Millionaire Relief Act proposals to reform the tax code so that the rich control even more of the nation’s wealth than they do currently.

Fortunately, the folks at the Center for Tax Justice have complied a list of the Top 5 Tax Myths to watch out for this election season. For convenience and shareability I created this handy InfoGraphic to separate fact from affliction:

Tax Fantasyland

For however long the GOP primaries are dragged out, progressives are going to have to try harder to get their voices heard above the clutter. Hopefully communicating in creative ways will help to achieve that goal.

The Decadence Index: How The Wealth Gap Is Hastening The Fall Of The American Empire

If there is anything that history teaches us about empires, it is that they are temporary and often fall of their own decaying weight. Ancient Rome is notorious for a descent that was widely speculated to have been driven by a massive class disparity. The aristocratic patricians devolved into a morass of immorality and obscene opulence. Meanwhile, the other 99% of the empire’s subjects were burdened by lives of oppressive labor or slavery.

The parallels to contemporary American class division are striking. We have our own aristocracy that arisen to a place of privilege and power, while working families are working harder for less, if they’re fortunate enough to be working at all. The 400 richest Americans control more wealth than the bottom 150 million of their fellow citizens – combined. And they exploit the power that comes with that wealth to further enrich themselves. Between 1979 and 2007, average after-tax incomes for the top 1% rose by 281%, compared to a 16% rise for the bottom 20%. The Roman elites would have felt right at home.

There is one difference, however. An historical study published by the Cambridge University Press looked at the Roman economy and calculated the measurement used by the CIA to rank the wealth gap of the nations of the world. What it found was that the United States actually ranks lower on income inequality than Ancient Rome.

Let that sink in for a moment. History’s most conspicuously ostentatious society of Bacchanalian excess had a less severe chasm between its rich and poor subjects than contemporary America. That astonishing fact led me to wonder where the U.S. stands when compared to its modern counterparts. So I consulted the CIA World Factbook and ranked the twenty richest nations by the index that represents income inequality. What I found was that the U.S. ranks 18th out of twenty. I call it The Decadence Index, and countries like Iran, Russia, and India are all less decadent than the United States in terms of economic disparity.

Click to enlarge
Decadence Index

The CIA collects this sort of data because it can be useful in predicting where civil unrest might flare up in the world. So what does that say about the stability of our social structure going forward? It certainly explains the Occupy movement. The question now is what are we going to do about it?

The solutions are not all that difficult to comprehend. Those who have benefited so lavishly by exploiting the system for their own enrichment should now be required to share a fair portion of the sacrifice necessary to restore economic health and balance. It’s not rocket science. Malcolm Gladwell offers a compelling explanation as he demolishes the rightist fable that taxes on the wealthy impede economic growth:

If we want to raise our position on the Decadence Index above that of the Ancient Romans (or the Russians or the French, for that matter), we need to reject the reckless and insensitive agenda of the right-wing patricians whose sole purpose is the accumulation of wealth and power. These patrons of plutocracy unabashedly advocate cutting, even eliminating, taxes on themselves, the rich, and intensifying the tax burden on everyone else. They falsely portray themselves as “job creators,” but this InfoGraphic shows who The Real Job Creators are. They pretend to fret over a class war that they themselves are waging. And because they know that the people overwhelmingly support the principles of economic fairness and justice, these conservative elites are conspiring to suppress the votes of average Americans, particularly seniors, minorities, students, and low-income voters.

Make no mistake, this is a coordinated campaign financed and managed by shadowy, but powerful, business and political entities like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Their mission was aided by the Supreme Court’s odious decision in the Citizens United case that opened the floodgates of corporate money into the electoral process. And, of course, they have the propaganda power of Fox News to advance their greedy, magisterial interests. But the people are fighting back against ludicrous notions like “Corporate Personhood,” and the Upper Crusters are afraid. Even Republican strategist Frank Luntz is admitting as much:

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

So keep up the fight because Corporations Are Not People. Here are some ways to contribute and participate:

Move To Amend is organizing a national action on January 20, 2012, to oppose and reverse Citizens United: Occupy the Courts!
Public Citizen is organizing a national action on January 21, 2012 to oppose and reverse Corporate Personhood: Occupy the Corporations!

Get up. Get involved. Get mad. And get to work.

Occupy Messaging: Who Are The Real Job Creators?

For too long now, right-wing propagandists like Frank Luntz have been manipulating language to distort the real issues that impact so many lives of American citizens. They engage in dishonest wordcraft that disguises their true meaning in order to shape public opinion and deceive voters. It’s time to counter that rhetorical offensive by restoring definitions that actually reflect reality.

One of the most recent and insidious examples of this practice is the conservative effort to replace references to “the rich” with the phrase “job creators.” It is of no interest to these hacks that no evidence exists to validate the claim. In fact, NPR’s congressional reporter, Tamara Keith, asked members of congress and representatives of conservative business groups to refer her to business people who could substantiate the assertion that tax cuts for the wealthy would induce them to increase hiring. They were unable to come up with a single name or example to affirm their half-baked theory. However, Keith found several examples of her own that utterly refuted it. This caused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to note that “Millionaire job creators are like unicorns. They are impossible to find and don’t exist.”

The agenda that Republicans have adopted has literally no popular constituency. Every poll taken on the subject reveals that majorities of Americans (including majorities of Republicans) favor increasing taxes on the rich. Even polls of the rich show that they believe that they are not presently sharing the sacrifice required to restore the nation’s economic health. An independent group of Patriotic Millionaires released a video beseeching Congress to raise their taxes.

So the next time you hear some GOP flunky whining about the plight of the rich whose only desire is to be unburdened from the shackles of what are the lowest taxes in decades, remember that they have not, and cannot, certify any claim that lower taxes will spur hiring. In fact, the evidence is all to the contrary. And whenever possible, we need to recapture the phrase “job creators” and use it in a manner that is more in line with reality. Here is a handy, shareable chart that illustrates who the real job creators are:

(click to view larger)
Job Creators

[Addendum] President Obama asked these questions in his economic address last month:

Are you going to cut taxes for the middle class and those who are trying to get into the middle class? Or are you going to protect massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, many of whom don’t even want those tax breaks?

Are you going to ask a few hundred thousand people who have done very, very well to do their fair share? Or are you going to raise taxes for hundreds of millions of people across the country – 160 million Americans?

Are you willing to fight as hard for middle-class families as you do for those who are most fortunate?

What’s it going to be?

Frank Luntz, The Fox News Word Doctor, Is Scared To Death Of #Occupy Wall Street

Frank Luntz has been helping to distort the language of Republicans for decades. His specialty is developing dishonest phrases to replace accurate descriptions of social and political issues when the accurate descriptions produce negative impressions of conservatives and their unpopular agenda. And now…..

Frank Luntz Is Scared

Luntz created the term “death tax” as a substitute for “estate tax,” reasoning that it would be easier to steer low-information voters away from a tax on dying than a tax on people who own estates. He also supplied the term “government-run” to replace “public option” during the health care debate after determining that focus groups responded less favorably to the label that implied falsely that government would get between you and your doctor.

It is common to observe Luntz’s fabrications getting adopted by conservative politicians and media. He is a frequent presence on Fox News and has been cited as their main source for right-leaning rhetoric. He serves the same purpose for political clients, and in that role he just spoke at the Republican Governors Association to deliver an ominous warning:

“I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.”

Luntz is right to be afraid. The Occupy movement has taken hold of the American Dream and reminded citizens that they have a right to be heard on important issues that impact their lives. It has revealed that the American people are overwhelmingly supportive of the goals of the Occupiers. It has reasserted the Constitutional and patriotic practice of free speech and the redress of grievances. These are principles that Luntz and his rightist patrons simply cannot abide.

Consequently, Luntz went to work to shape a new batch of linguistic contortions with which to befuddle naive FoxPods. The fruit of his fear is striking evidence of the success of the Occupy movement. Below are the specific suggestions Luntz gave to the GOP governors for what to say, and not to say, when talking about the Occupy movement. Pay attention, because these words and arguments are what will soon be cascading from the mouths of pundits and politicians on Fox News and other ring-wing media:

Out: Capitalism / In: Economic Freedom or Free Market
Luntz has concluded that, while Americans still prefer capitalism to socialism, any mention of it will stir thoughts of the misdeeds of Wall Street and bankers. Indeed, capitalism has suffered a PR setback in recent years and even ranks below progressivism in national polls. In a nod to the effectiveness of the Occupiers, Luntz now believes that to be seen as defending Wall Street is “a problem.” So the GOP can’t even admit that it favors capitalism for fear of losing support.

Out: Tax the Rich / In: Take from the Rich
Every poll shows that the country is in favor of making the wealthy pay their fair share. Even polls of millionaires reveal that they think their own taxes should be higher. So Luntz proposes a tweak in the hopes of producing language that sounds more sympathetic. Remove the “sym” and you have something more like the truth.

Out: Middle-Class / In: Hardworking Taxpayers
The right has obviously lost any appeal to all but the most fortunate in society. Luntz recognizes that there is little to gain by courting the middle-class so he has invented a new term that he believes people can relate to without actually defining it. The problem is that taxpayers that actually do work hard won’t be fooled by this rouse into thinking they are members of the One-Percent whose lives of leisure are supported by GOP policies.

Out: Jobs / In: Careers
This may be the most brazen deceit on the list. Luntz asked his audience of Republican governors whether they wanted a job or a career. After few hands were raised for the former, and many for the latter, Luntz summed up asking, “So why are we talking about jobs?” He should try asking his questions in the parking lot of a Target Store rather than to sitting governors and their staff. He might get a different response and may even learn why so many Americans are talking about jobs.

Out: Government Spending / In: Waste
This is a transparent effort to associate anything having to do with government as wasteful and unnecessary. I assume he means to disparage government spending on things like Social Security, interstate highways, veteran’s benefits, law enforcement, public schools, child services, water, air, and food safety, and national security, which is, by far, the largest chunk of the federal budget. By all means, let’s stop wasting money.

Out: Compromise / In: Cooperate
In today’s Republican party compromise is seen as weakness. Luntz asserts that it amounts to “selling out [your] principles.” He also admits that cooperation means the same thing, but doesn’t have the sting of compromise. The GOP may not have been using Luntz’s phrasing, but they have definitely been acting on the concept. This session of Congress has had more filibusters than any in history as Republicans refuse to compromise. The fact that they are more committed to the failure of this administration than they are to the success of the nation has been apparent to the public, which is why Luntz and the GOP have to resort to this sort of word play.

Out: Umm… / In: I get It
Here Luntz is just offering his version of a patronizing statement to mollify an angry electorate. Luntz told his audience of governors, “Here are three words for you all: ‘I get it.’ I get that you’re angry. I get that you’ve seen inequality. I get that you want to fix the system.” Unfortunately for Luntz & Co. the electorate knows that’s a lie. They know that Republicans don’t really get it and neither do they have any solutions.

Out: Entrepreneur / In: Job Creator
I think this must have something to do with sounding too French. Republicans have a long record of pretending to support entrepreneurship, but Luntz must have detected a derogatory connotation that wasn’t there previously. He must also have detected a problem with the word “innovator” because he also advises against its use. However, the GOP has already been using “job creator” as a substitute for “rich,” so they will be forced to find a new label for the one-percent. How about “the One-Percent?”

Out: Sacrifice / In: In This Together
The logic behind this twist is that is that the word “sacrifice” allegedly evokes a negative feeling that is shared by all. The problem with that logic is that the rich have not yet been asked to sacrifice anything. So, in reality, Luntz just wants to excise the word because it only applies to the subset of Americans who are already suffering and to whom the GOP are least likely to appeal. Raising the specter of sacrifice only dredges up harsh feeling amongst the middle-class…I mean hard working Americans…when juxtaposed with the rich…I mean job creators.

Shared Sacrifice

Out: Wall Street / In: Washington
This capsulizes the whole problem for Luntz and the right. He knows that Wall Street is correctly seen as the perpetrator of much of the country’s current ills. He knows that associating with Big Finance will sink the prospects of any politician. And he knows that success for the Upper-Crusters he represents depends on fingering another villain. Ironically, the villains he suggests are the very people and institutions that he represents in DC. If he is going to mount a “blame Washington” campaign it has to include the Republican denizens of the capital who, more than anyone else, handed over control of the economy to the Wall Street hoodlums who promptly shattered it.

With the collapse of the Tea Party, the financial elite are girding for a fight. A recently disclosed memo revealed a scheme to launch a propaganda campaign against the Occupy movement to be funded by $850,000 from the American Bankers Association. The lobbyists behind this effort include former staff members of House Speaker John Boehner. The ties between the Banksters and political power brokers are as strong as ever.

The inescapable truth that emerges from Luntz’s presentation is that the Occupy movement has been a phenomenal success. In a little over two months it has captured the imagination of a weary populace who now see a path to redemption. It has flipped the national conversation from one of a phony debt crisis to one focused squarely on economic inequities and the abuse of corporate power in the political arena. And now it has resulted in one of the most satisfying accomplishments of all: It has Fox News’ Word Doctor, and likely all of his clients and colleagues, scared to death. Hopefully they will be just scared enough to start doing the right thing for the 99% of Americans who have had to wait too long for the restoration of fairness and justice.

[Here is an infographic version of the content of this article suitable for sharing on Facebook, Twitter, etc.]

Sarah Palin’s Top 10 Reasons To Support Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a bona fide phenomenon that, in two short months, has grown to levels no one could have predicted. And despite the inability of the media to discern the goals of the OWS protesters, their agenda could not be more apparent. The movement’s core convictions revolve around the abuse and corruption of politics by the wealthy and corporations, and the economic inequities that have virtually vaporized America’s middle class.

These issues have unprecedented support from a broad swath of the American people. More than 70% support raising taxes on the rich. More than 70% oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare. And both of those include majorities of Republicans and Independents. Even a majority of our nation’s millionaires support these positions. Support for these principles is so universal that the only rebuttal opponents can muster are juvenile comments about socialism or hygiene.

For these reasons, perhaps it should not be surprising that Sarah Palin has jumped on the bandwagon. Her star has been fading rapidly since she stopped pretending to be a candidate for president. And while the press used to chase after her tour bus like whimpering puppies, the only attention she gets today is from her most devoted disciples and her boss, Rupert Murdoch, and the entities he controls such as Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.

It is in the pages of the latter that Palin has published a critique of the political-financial complex that is driving the nation to ruin. Her title for the op-ed is “How Congress Occupied Wall Street.” Many of her laments mirror the philosophy of the Occupy movement. While there is some obvious hypocrisy embedded in some of her remarks, it is still notable that these perspectives are being expressed by someone like Palin and published by an enterprise like the Wall Street Journal. Following are ten points that were extracted from Palin’s article that inadvertently endorse the principles of Occupy Wall Street.

1) How do politicians who arrive in Washington, D.C. as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires?
Good question. Do you suppose it has something to do with the unholy relationships between members of Congress and their wealthy benefactors? If anyone can answer this question it’s Palin, who has personal knowledge of how to earn millions by exploiting political opportunity.

2) The corruption [is] an entire system of public servants feathering their own nests.
Indeed. Although it may be a stretch to refer to a political Mafia who shakedown constituents and accept bribes from special interests as public “servants.” And once again, Palin’s personal experience with nest feathering is invaluable.

3) The moment you threaten to strip politicians of their legal graft, they’ll moan that they can’t govern effectively without it.
What politicians refer to as contributions and earmarks are what citizens regard as graft. And while the politicians make a lot of noise about cleaning up Washington, they have no genuine interest in doing so.

4) [T]heir idea of reform is to limit the right of “We the people” to exercise our freedom of speech in the political process.
It is unclear what Palin is referring to here because she has not exactly been forced into silence, much to America’s dismay. But 26 journalists covering OWS have been arrested so far. What’s more, the GOP is working at the state level to suppress voting for millions of citizens, primarily seniors, students, and minorities.

5) [T]he only solution to entrenched corruption is sudden and relentless reform.
Could Palin have come up with a phrase that better describes OWS? When protesters occupied Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan it was a spontaneous response to an untenable situation. And the fact that they planted themselves in the park, and other sites across the country, demonstrates just how relentless this movement intends to be.

6) We need reform that provides real transparency.
Welcome to the club, Sarah. Progressives have been arguing for more openness by government and public agencies for years. And a major component of the OWS agenda is the reversal of the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court that permits corporations and others to bankroll political initiatives without revealing their identity.

7) We need equality under the law.
Absolutely! Equality and fairness and a sense of shared sacrifice. It is time for the wealthy, who have benefited more from their position of privilege than anyone else, to be treated equally under the law. No more special treatment. Palin should give this more than lip service.

8) No more sweetheart land deals with campaign contributors.
This is just another method of funneling bribes into the pockets of politicians and it must stop. Including the land deals where politicians advocate on behalf of contributors to get oil leases in protected wild spaces in Alaska.

9) [N]o transitioning into a lobbying career after leaving office. No more revolving door, ever.
Here is another plank of the progressive platform that has been beaten down by entrenched politicos every time it was proposed.

10) This call for real reform must transcend political parties. The grass-roots movements of the right and the left should embrace this.
Amen!

Now, is Sarah Palin actually getting behind Occupy Wall Street? Of course not. She undoubtedly considers them unclean, unfocused, and un-American. But the positions she appears to advocate here could be interpreted as aligned with the goals of OWS, even if it is entirely accidental on her part. Perhaps she deliberately plagiarized the platform in a desperate attempt to steal some of its popularity for herself. There is a delicious irony in that Palin has published this piece in Murdoch’s paper. You could say that these ideas have Occupied the Wall Street Journal, albeit from a back entrance.

[Share this infographic on Facebook]
Sarah Palin OWS

The GOP War On Voting Is In Full Swing

Rolling Stone just published an enlightening, albeit disturbing, article detailing the coordinated effort on the part of the Republican Party to roll back voting rights for millions of Americans. With the help of the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC], the billionaire Koch brothers, and other rightist allies, the GOP has already succeeded in passing legislation that inhibits and/or prohibits voting by students, seniors, minorities, and the poor.

GOP War On Voting

The article goes into great depth describing the GOP assault on democracy and the potential for disenfranchisement and electoral chaos. Some groups, including the ACLU, are challenging the new laws in court. But if these laws can’t be overturned in time for 2012, citizens will need to more aggressively pursue registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns than ever before.

The movement to Block the Vote has become such a critical part of the Republican agenda that they are casting aside the pretense of voter fraud as a justification for their efforts. They were never able to provide evidence of that anyway. Now, Matthew Vadum, a conservative columnist associated with WorldNetDaily, American Spectator, and BigGovernment, wrote an article for the ultra-conservative American Thinker provocatively titled, “Registering the Poor to Vote is Un-American.” Here’s an excerpt:

“Registering [the poor] to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country — which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote. [...] Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn’t about helping the poor. It’s about helping the poor to help themselves to others’ money.”

When the right is this comfortable openly expressing their hostility toward both democracy and working-class Americans, either the wheels are about to come off that wagon, or we have an epic battle on our hands. It’s all out in the open now. The conservative view is one that would permit only landowners (and preferably just the male, white ones) to vote. Any American that does not represent the elite class is somehow invested in the nation’s ruin and is only concerned with narrow, self-interests. And of course, the rich are never so selfish. They never vote for their own interests. All they want is what’s best for everyone, even the little people who shouldn’t be allowed to vote. Whatever would we do without these benevolent guardians of virtue watching over us and voting on our behalf? And if you think it’s just wackos like Vadum saying these things…..

John Stossel (Fox News): “Let’s stop saying everyone should vote.”
Rush Limbaugh: “If people cannot even feed and clothe themselves, should they be allowed to vote?”
Judson Phillips (Tea Party Nation): “If you’re not a property owner, I’m sorry, but property owners have a little bit more of a vested stake in the community than not property owners do.”
Steve Doocy (Fox News): “With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?”

It’s hard to imagine a more repulsive philosophy. These are the same people that align themselves with the Founding Fathers and a return to Constitutional rule. These are the same people that have deceived a small, gullible segment of the electorate, that calls itself the Tea Party, and has manipulated them into advocating policies that are harmful to themselves. And these are the same people who now want to take away the most fundamental right of every American – the right to vote.

Whatever we do, we cannot permit this cynical agenda to succeed. This is a fight that will determine the outcome of every other fight we undertake. It is imperative that real patriots commit themselves to ensuring that everyone who wants to vote has an opportunity to do so. The more people who participate in the electoral process, the more representative our political institutions will be. And it’s about time that they represent the people and not corporations and wealthy special interests.

[This Just In] Sen. Dick Durbin will hold a hearing September 8, on the “New State Voting Laws – Barriers to the Ballot?”

Some additional resources:
ThinkProgress
People for the American Way

And then there’s this:

Small Government – Small Hearts: The GOP Response To Hurricane Irene

There is a storm advancing on the east coast of the United States of historic proportions. Hurricane Irene has resulted in the first ever mandatory evacuation of New York City due to a natural disaster. It is expected to cause billions of dollars of damage from North Carolina to Maine, but the human toll will not be known until the storm has passed. And the response by Republican leaders typically expresses their disdain for the unfortunates who not are a part of their elitist, country club caste.

Small Government

The GOP has long had an obsession with dismantling government. Grover Norquist famously stated that he wanted to “reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” More recently, Eric Cantor, the Republican Leader of the House, said that he would only support federal disaster aid if the expense was offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. In effect, he is holding emergency relief hostage to partisan deficit reduction.

Right-wing icon Ron Paul goes even further. In an interview with NBC News he essentially advocated repealing a century of progress in critical response to national tragedies saying, literally, that “We should be like 1900.”

Paul cited as an example the response to a devastating hurricane in Galveston, TX, in 1900. It is still the worst natural disaster in U.S. history, taking the lives of between 10,000 and 12,000 people. Paul proudly boasted that the community did not require federal aid to rebuild the city. That, however, is patently false. Galveston did request and receive federal aid, without which it could not have rebuilt. Glenn Beck also falsely cited Galveston in an attempt to argue that the federal government’s role in disaster relief was unnecessary.

The modern Republican Party is making a predictable progression from George Bush’s phony “compassionate conservatism” to the heartlessness of the Tea Pity Party. At this foreboding time, when American lives and property are at risk, we should take care to remember the results of the anti-federalist policies that produced the cataclysm of Katrina and resolve to never allow that to happen again.

The Superiority Of The Super Committee: Women And Minorities Snubbed

The brand new Congressional Super Committee that is charged with pulling America’s butt out of a fiscal fire is sorely underrepresented by major groups of the American people. In addition to the disturbing associations that members of the committee have with wealthy campaign contributors, they are also notably homogenous in terms of race and gender.

Republicans appointed an entirely white male panel of members. At least the Democrats included one woman, one African-American, and one Hispanic. Still, that ratio is a long way from proportional representation.

When large groups of citizens are excluded from participating in the democratic process, the result is bad policy, uneven playing fields, and a disheartened and/or outraged electorate. Take for example the representation of women in American political life (or rather, lack thereof) that has produced a legislative War on Women:

War on Women

These inequities are generally unaddressed by the media. Unless that changes there will be continued division and a failure to resolve the most pressing issues of our time. We need to include everyone in the effort to right the nation’s course. And we must not be afraid to embrace the fight for progressivism, civil rights, feminism, and liberty and justice for all.

Rick Perry’s Pay-to-Play Scam

The media is all atwitter today after Texas governor Rick Perry threw his cowboy hat into the ring and announced his campaign for the Republican nomination for president. However, if there were any integrity in the press, Perry’s campaign wouldn’t last a week.

Rick Perry is an ill-informed, incompetent, political extremist, who barely graduated from Texas A&M University (with a D average) and has suggested that Texas should secede from the union. He supports discrimination against gays and lesbians. He doesn’t believe in either evolution or global warming. He admits that he has no solutions for the nation’s problems other than prayer. And just today he reiterated his position that Social Security a “Ponzi scheme.”

But the the big problem for Perry is his brazen corruption as governor of Texas. The Dallas Morning News conducted an investigation last year that revealed Perry’s conversion of the state house into a pay-to-play scheme that filled his campaign coffers, and the pockets of his contributors, with cash.

Rick Perry - Pay-to-Play
Click here to view larger

Apparently, the way to get Texas taxpayers to finance your business venture is to payoff the governor. Then the state whines about not having funds for education, health care, and other social services. The Wall Street Journal called this scheme “Rick Perry’s Crony Capitalism.” When the conservative Wall Street Journal finds your shady dealings repugnant, you have crossed line that most people didn’t even know existed. This is the sort of scandal that would torpedo a campaign that wasn’t propped up by Tea Party fanatics and Fox News.

As Perry rolls out his campaign he is already asserting that he can bring to Washington the same sort of “success” that he brought to Texas. That should frighten most Americans. Upon closer examination, the alleged miracle of the Texas economy is a myth based on false premises and peculiarities exclusive to Texas. Paul Krugman’s column in the New York Times illustrates just how little the nation can learn, or benefit from, Texas’ program of “depressing wages and dismantling regulation.”

“What Texas shows is that a state offering cheap labor and, less important, weak regulation can attract jobs from other states. I believe that the appropriate response to this insight is ‘Well, duh.’ The point is that arguing from this experience that depressing wages and dismantling regulation in America as a whole would create more jobs — which is, whatever Mr. Perry may say, what Perrynomics amounts to in practice — involves a fallacy of composition: every state can’t lure jobs away from every other state.”

What’s more, Texas is now facing a projected 2012 budget deficit of 31.5% of its general fund. That makes it the third worst state deficit in the country. Even California is doing better. [Note: Texas trails only Nevada and New Jersey, both of which have Republican governors]

It is also worth noting that a recent poll showed President Obama beating Perry IN TEXAS!

“…the poll shows Perry trailing President Obama in heavily Republican Texas, which last voted Democratic for president in 1976, when Jimmy Carter was the South’s favorite son. Obama leads 47%-45%, even though Obama’s net approval rating is underwater at 42%-55%.”

So the question is: Why is anyone taking seriously the campaign of a governor who has driven his state into ruin; who has one of the the highest percentages of minimum wage jobs; who has one of the lowest rates of health care coverage; and who is demonstrably corrupt? How long will it take for the press to catch on that Perry is an evangelical huckster with no substantive record of achievement? He’s Elmer Gantry with a government job and gets his snake oil straight from the well.

Why Is Anyone Listening To The #@$%*#& Tea Party?

What is so hard about this? Congress is struggling to fashion a compromise agreement on a bill to raise the debt ceiling. The Republicans are insisting on attaching unrelated provisions to the bill to satisfy the tantrums of Tea Party-affiliated members who are demanding deficit reduction that imposes severe spending cuts but permits no revenue raising through tax reform and the elimination of loopholes.

But who is being represented by the advocates of spending cuts, which include cuts to critical programs like Medicaid? Who is being represented by the opponents of increased revenues achieved by asking corporations and the rich to share in the sacrifice required to bring our nation back to economic health?

The truth is that no one but a few extremist right-wingers are represented by the positions to which the GOP has lashed itself. Here’s the proof:

Debt Solutions

It is almost unheard of to get 72% of Americans to agree on any politically contentious issue. Yet here we have 72% of the country agreeing that the rich are not presently paying their fair share, and that Medicaid should not be cut. And isn’t just a bunch of socialist lefties. This includes majorities of both Independents and Republicans. Let the significance of that sink in. It is not just a fair number of Republicans, it is a MAJORITY of Republicans.

So for whom is House Speaker Boehner fighting? For whom is Senate Minority Leader McConnell fighting? It obviously is not their GOP constituents. In fact, they are betraying their constituents and putting the whole nation at risk in order to pacify a cabal of small-minded, short-sighted, ill-informed, intransigent malcontents known as the Tea Party.

Of course, there is really no such thing as the Tea Party. There are no Tea Party candidates; no Tea Party policies; no registered Tea Party voters. It is nothing more than a radical faction of the GOP that has canonized the Founding Fathers and debased the Constitution with simplistic misinterpretations and ritual recital.

With poll results like those above, it is unfathomable that Republicans in congress give such a wide berth to their tea-besotted cousins. And the same goes for the media. When news networks placate TeaPublicans by employing them to provide commentary and analysis for that point of view, they are, in effect, giving ultra-conservative Republicans an additional voice that they do not provide to progressive Democrats.

It is clear that the Tea Baggers are wildly out of touch with the mainstream of America and they should not be afforded the special treatment they receive. They are merely an annoyingly squeaky wheel with no popular support. They degrade the debate with their stubborn attachment to dubious dogma. Even the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page declared that “Republicans are not looking like adults to whom voters can entrust the government.” Actually, they aren’t even looking like children:

Regardless of how the debt ceiling debate shakes out, the media, as well as our congressional representatives, need to recognize that the Tea Party is unworthy of the outsized consideration they receive. They haven’t earned it and they don’t deserve. And catering to their hysterics is counterproductive and worse, destructive. With the abundance of evidence that they are a poorly attended party that is located far beyond the boundaries of common sense, the question remains…..

Why Is Anyone Listening To The #@$%*#& Tea Party?