Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Reply to "Facts on Taxes"

Over at The Constructive Curmudgeon, a highly tendentious post appeared in the last 24 hours entitled Facts on Taxes.

This is my rebuttal.

If the title of your post had been Opinions on Taxes, I would have not written this response. But you chose to call it Facts on Taxes. Can you please source the facts, with data and not the names of known partisans like Thomas Sowell?

I like to accompany the opinions I express on my blog with facts, as I did in a post called On The Fantasy That "Taxing Job Creators Is Wrong", which is my view on the myth that taxing "job creators" is wrong. Please read it, as it addressed the fallacies of your assumptions in this post.

Envy, by the way, has nothing to do with asking for the rich to pay a higher rate on some of their income. Progressive taxation is based on the assumption that it is fair for those who have more discretionary income to pay more than those whose income is barely sufficient to make ends meet. Not to mention the fact that the rich benefit more from public services and infrastructure more than low-income Americans, directly or indirectly.

Besides, for someone who believes in the "religion of the free-market", can't you see that a strong economy needs to leave more money in the pockets of those who are more likely to spend it--lower-income Americans--than in the pockets of those who are more likely to save it, or invest it--often outside of the United States?

Finally, if I hear one more time that "we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem", I am going to throw up. It's just a talking point, a clever but mendacious one for the most part.

Of course we have a spending problem, mostly driven by elective wars and the greed of mega-corporations in the oil, banking, and health services industries. But we also have a revenue problem, created by George W. Bush tax cuts which were supposed to have "sunset" by now, and have been extended by the outrageously weak and inept President Obama. Or did you miss the news that revenues are at their lowest point in at least 50 years, if not since the Great Depression, and that top tax rates are at their lowest point since Eisenhower (with the exception of one of the Reagan Years)?

Ironically, remember, that President Obama was accused by his opponents of being the most liberal Senator when he was running, a lie easily born-out by his first 30 months in the White House. He is a centrist at heart, and has been governing from right of center. Of course, in a country where politics is dominated by right-wing extremists, governing from right-of-center still makes you look a liberal extremist, I guess. But compare Obama's policies with FDR's, Johnson's, and even Carter's, and you will see that he is a pro-business, pro-establishment politician. Far from being the socialist populist he has been depicted as by most of the media, he is a corporate socialist.

Peace out.

Country [Club] First!

Rememeber the McCain/Palin campaign slogan? Country First? They almost had it right. It should have been "Country Club First", as easily visible in the Republican intransigence at closing loopholes and raising taxes on the richest Americans.

I have read somewhere that asking the rich to pay their fair share is actually envy (a sin, according to the Christian fundie who wrote it), masked as a cry for social justice. Well, well... is that the nutshell that American Christ-ies see in the debt ceiling "debate", Republican-style? That the elderly, the dispossessed, the jobless, the evicted, the sick in this country should be asked to pay their "fair" share by Republican leeches for the rich, instead of being "soooooo envious"? Or is the righteous exasperation of the trodden-upon being mistaken for envy by the deluded and by the peddler of the "American exceptionalism" delusion?

You should ask yourselves, because the answer is readily available. In fact, it is available in a very readable, astute, and acerbic post by Hunter on the Daily Kos. The guy tells it like it is on the wholly Republican debt ceiling debacle, and this is the paragraph that--best of all--captures the folly of the whole affair:
We're at this point because Republicans insist that the rich pay not one penny more in taxes, despite enjoying the lowest effective tax rates in modern U.S. history. Instead, Republicans demand cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Straight-up class warfare, though they will send for the fainting couch if you point that out.

And this is the apt closing:
This has been the worst display of governmental incompetence for a very, very long time, and that is saying something. If ever we needed an example of partisanship clearly and unambiguously taking precedence over the economic needs of the country, this would be the textbook example. Let's hope we still even have textbooks a year from now, though, because the one thing have been Republicans are being most unyielding on is the demand that we do all of this all over again within six months or a year or so, in order to let them extract even deeper cuts and even more asinine demands.

Crooks, the lot of them.

Read the rest of Hunter's post here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Republicans Playing Politics With The Future of America?

As Pat Garofalo points out at Think Progress, "when the Republicans held both chambers of Congress from 2003 to 2006, and had a Republican in the White House, they not only didn’t approve a balanced budget amendment, they never even held a vote on it."

Wait! You mean that the debt ceiling frenzy of the last few months is just political posturing to gain advantages for the people the Republican party truly represents, i.e. the super-rich? Get out of here!

The Job Creation Myth

Hello! I just stumbled across a post on the "job creators" myth on the blog of a radio personality from St. Louis: Paul Harris. The guy has the right ideas about job creators and he hosts a show on poker. How bad could he be?

Businessweek: Republican Leaders Voted for Debt They Blame on Obama

Via Joan McCarter of the Daily Kos:

Businessweek: Republican leaders voted for debt they blame on Obama.

No big news there: Republicans are behaving like the hypocrites they are. But look at the chart in McCarter's post. And memorize it. And print it. And show it to all the Republicans and Libertarians and Ayn Randers who will no doubt try to lecture on out-of-hand spending and the problem is not on the revenue side, and all like bullshit.

You should be tired. You should get mad. You should take to the streets, like they do in the rest of the world when they learn the politicians are playing games with their future. And you should rebel against this kind of hypocrisy and stomp it out. Or it will continue to grow like an incurable cancer in your lives.

Another Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President.

Stop pussyfooting: Raise the damn debt ceiling already. You are a constitutional scholar, so you should know that the Constitution of the United States says that the national debt shall not be questioned. And, in fact, it never was. Particularly, it never was questioned by your opponents, who are now posturing as the most principled financial sages when in fact they raised the debt ceiling over and over again without batting an eyelid for decades.

You, Mr. President, like to call yourself "the adult in the room". That may be so. But you are not behaving like the type of adult anyone should take as an example. You like to say that you are seeking compromise because the House is in the hands of your opposition. It is true now, but it was not when you negotiated health care reform from a losing position, after surrendering to every demand your opponents made of you, even when the Democratic Party held the majority in both chambers of Congress.

Mr. President: If your goal was to show that there is nothing Republicans will say yes to, you have proved your point. Enough already. Let the chips fall where they may but, for our sake, it's time to move on.

Be the man we thought we helped elect. For once. Please. Or the only good thing that I'll be able to say about your presidency is that at least you weren't McCain.


[Name withheld]

Monday, July 18, 2011

Here Are Your Job Creators

When Republicans say that we can't raise taxes on the rich because they are the job creators, they must be thinking of these two:
And remember, the idea is that not raising taxes is the key to job creation. It makes you laugh when you look at this.

And I am listening to Grover Norquist, the insufferable servant to the powerful who is saying that government should not raise taxes under any circumstances, including the debt ceiling deal proposed by the President, which says raise taxes one dollar for every four in spending cuts. Go to hell, Grover.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On The Fantasy That "Taxing Job Creators Is Wrong " (And Why, Poor Things, We Should Not Raise Taxes on Them)

The key to achieving success, motivational speakers and business leaders will tell you, is being able to envision the future you want to achieve for yourself. Everybody can start a successful company and contribute to the success of others by creating jobs and opportunities for them. All you have to do is dream big, think bigger, and pursue your goal with a singularity of intent. Such is the power of the myth of America, the land of opportunity, and so is born the myth of the "small-business job-creator" that Republicans mythicize. Perhaps it is so. Perhaps, and I don't for one believe it--Ayn Rand was right in dividing individuals into the equivalent of superhuman achievers, forces of nature that cannot and should not be messed with on the one hand and leeches on the other. But--and I don't know about you--I am starting to get beyond annoyed at hearing this little nugget of conservative PR: "This is the exactly the wrong time to raise taxes on 'job creators'."

The logic of this insidious, fallacious, and dishonest argument goes more or less like this: the economy is in deep trouble, unemployment is high, people need jobs, and raising taxes on those who are in a position to create jobs is plain dumb." Even at first blush there are so many things wrong with this mendacious line of thinking that one does not know where to begin rebutting it. But I'll try.

We'll start with 9/11. When 9/11 hit, the economy was already in a recession, or so Bush-friendly economists liked to point out. To be fair, it is not just Bush-friendly economists who agree with the basic idea that the economy was already in a period of downturn when Bush inherited the presidency, from Clinton and from the Supreme Court. So be it. So, enter George Dumbya. He almost immediately lowered taxes. On everyone, sure, but much more for the benefit of the wealthiest Americans. From here on, we'll refer to these wealthy Americans as "job creators", both to please conservatives and because living in a fantasy is sometime a necessary refuge from everyday life (particularly the type of live engineered by conservatives). It was supposed to be a temporary thing to help the country recover after 9/11, but you know how things go. Nothing in life is as permanent as the supposedly temporary.

Anyway, at the end of George Dumbya's eight years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue the net job creation (1st term in office vs. last term in office) amounted to 3 million, give or take a few heads. That's meager, particularly at a time when taxes were the lowest since Ronald Reagan's last year in office. Compare that figure with the 23 million jobs created under 8 years of Bill Clinton. Now add to that the fact that during the same time that jobs grew by 3 million (or +2.3% in term of payroll expansion) the population grew by 22 million, or 7.7%, and you will see that job creation did even remotely keep up with population expansion. (Under Clinton the population grew more rapidly, by 25.2 million or 8.9%, but roughly one job was created for each new arrival).

When George Dumbya left office, he left Obama a country in shambles. (Be it known that I think President Obama did a horrid job during the first 2.5 years in office.) Taxes under the new president remained untouched for the first 2.5 years, and yet joblessness continued to grow, from 7.8% when he came into office, to the current 9.2%.

To recap: taxes have remained at their lowest than at any time since Reagan's last year in office for the last 10 years or so, but the unemployment rate has continued to rise--from 4.2% when Bush came into office to 9.2% under Obama at present. Aside from the not tiny but conveniently overlooked fact (by conservatives) that most of this rise in unemployment came under George Dumbya (4.2% when he arrived, 7.8% when he left eight years later = +3.6%), where are the jobs that the job creators should have created under the most favorable tax treatment of them in 30 years? It seems that the correlation between low individual tax rates and job creation is dogmatic at best.

But, you will say, the economy is not doing well, so Obama should actually lower taxes. Really? How low is low enough for jobs to magically start appearing? There is only one thing that's worse than making the same mistake over and over again and expecting different results: doubling up on the same mistake.

But, you might also add in a desperate attempt to save the conservative day, corporate income taxes are very high. You would say that because you probably heard that corporate taxes in the United States are among the highest in the industrialized world. Of course, the fact that you heard it does not means that it is true; it is simply a consequence of the existence of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the Republican party. Simply hearing/saying it though doeth not truth make.

Consider, if you will, the fact that Citizens for Tax Justice estimated that only Icelandic companies pay lower income taxes than U.S. companies [pdf reader required] (for the 28 OECD countries for which data are available). Also, check out this list of 15 tax escape artists, compiled by The Daily Beast. Only the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Republican congressmen/women, and Joe the Plumber could say with a straight face that taxes are killing American jobs.

What in fact is killing good American jobs is the fact that the policies promoted by Congress after Congress make it easy, even rewarding, for American companies to export capital, and the jobs that go with it, overseas. What is killing good American jobs is the fact that conservatives have been waging an all-out war on unions and the middle-class ever since Ronald Reagan took office and that there is no countervailing force to the power of corporations. The United States have by and large stopped making added-value products, and they are no longer competitive against the rising competition of places like China and India, to name but two where labor is a slave-based commodity. The one thing that is not killing jobs is the effective tax rate that corporations pay, thanks to the loopholes that they themselves have written into the tax code only to cheat us out of what we should reasonably be able to expect from in return for all the legally-sanctioned tax breaks they have already been granted.

So what could a good government do to reverse the death spiral in which the American economy and labor market seem trapped?

To begin with, the last thing it should do is listen to the deficit hawks who say that we should cut spending and have balanced budgets without raising taxes. The exact opposite is true. Sure, in a strong economy we could in theory leave all in the hands of the so-called free-market (another expression as void of practical meaning as job creators). But what about the economy we currently "enjoy", as opposed to the economy we are asked to fantasize about? The economy we have is one in which everyone knows someone who is unemployed, as opposed to the fictional economy where Joe the Plumber, the plumber without a plumbing license, can talk about the business he is trying to protect from Obama's socialism as if it existed anywhere in the real world instead of being a figment of his closed, ignorant, and fevered mind?

In an economic situation such as our present one, you should learn to recognize the government as the buyer of last resort. When no one wants to buy or spend money, when corporations have more incentive in investing outside of the United States, the government could and should stimulate the economy by thinking big, by building big things, renewing infrastructure, public education, transportation routes and systems, that sort of thing. Instead, the power to think big has been squeezed out of the minds of our leaders to such an extent that they are incapable of simply following the successful steps laid out by their predecessors in the successful New Deal and Great Society eras.

The government could and should also disincentivize the pernicious but consolidated practice of American companies that follow profits anywhere profits can be pursued, regardless of the methods used and the damage requisite in reaping them. It could also raise taxes a bit and--yes--redistribute it (!) to those who could pump it back into the economy by simply purchasing life's necessities that they currently cannot afford.

A fair government could also punish, instead of rewarding them, those who gamble with other people's money because they know that when their Ponzi scheme comes to light they can can get away with a slap on the wrists and a bailout. It could, in my dream world at least, bolster the middle-class confidence by decreasing the eligibility age for Medicare, instead of increasing it; that move alone might help people to leave a job they are currently hanging on to only because they need to make it to age 65, opening job opportunities for those who are currently relying on public money to outlast the doldrums. It could, ideally, assure the nation that no changes are going to be made to the benefit structure of Social Security until the last wasted penny has been cut from the D.O.D., or until the last cent has been recovered from the tax cheats that game the system to pay no income tax on epochal profits.

That, and not the mythical faculties of job creators, is something worth fantasizing about. Why, if you can dream about it, you might even be able to make it come true.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mowing Down Everything That Stands In The Way Of Unreason

Republicans and their corporate overlords have a pretty clear agenda: to mow down everything that stands in the way of their unreasonable claims and policies.

Scientist overwhelmingly agree that humans influence the climate? Defund science.

Public schools teach curricula that include evolution but not creationism and it's younger sibling, intelligent design? Defund public schools.

Research shows that the risk of unwanted pregnancy in sexually active young women is to make cheap contraceptives available? Defund Planned Parenthood and sex education.

The list of such examples is endless.

The goal of the Republican Party and of its funders is to remove all obstacles to unfettered corporate domination of our lives, to create an endless reservoir of easily replaceable and uneducated laborers (hence the drive to push the cost of tuition up and to eliminate public education as we know it), to destroy critical thinking, to establish a social climate which makes it easier to control individuals by making them live in fear of real and imaginary threats, and to control people's sexuality, which--as Orwell understood--is the primitive seed and the last bastion of individual freedom.

It does not come as a surprise, then, that the great Republican minds that control the House of Representatives--in particular those that inhabit the House Appropriation Committee--have devised yet another scheme to demolish science that stands in the way of their goal. As the Huffington Post reports
The House Appropriations Committee is set to put the final touches on a funding bill Wednesday that proposes to slash the government's data collection arm by 25 percent -- a cut that economists and statistics experts say could end up costing taxpayers and businesses billions.

"It's essentially turning out the lights as economic policymakers are trying to do their work," said Andrew Reamer, a George Washington University professor who focuses on economics and U.S. competitiveness.

[...] the cuts in question target the Commerce Department's Census Bureau -- recently one of the bogeyman of the right. The cuts would take effect in October, leaving the bureau little time even to plan to mitigate the impacts.


"[The cuts] would have major, permanent impacts on the nation's economic and demographic statistics," the bureau said, according to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), a member and past chair of the House Joint Economic Committee.

If numbers, real numbers, stand in the way of your plan, just stop collecting them, or weaken our ability to collect them and analyze them meaningfully. Then your opponents will have nothing on which they can base their criticism of your policies, because it will no longer be a case of what you say versus facts; it will be a case of he says, she says. Absent hard data, factual findings and scientific analysis truth will cease to have any meaning. That is what Republicans understand and what they have been working to achieve since at least the Reagan presidency. It's just a fact, and if they have their way, they'll make it disappear, too.

An Open Letter to President Obama

Mr. President:

I am a 46 year-old male who understands that if a couple of Presidents like you should succeed you, I will not retire at 65, nor probably at 70. Most likely, I will not retire in the United States; if I have enough to retire on anywhere else, I will have to leave, my money with me.

If you are really thinking of raising the eligibility age for Medicare and of cutting Social Security Benefits in your desire to be re-elected or to appear as an adult who is capable of striking political compromise with unrelenting opponents, then know this: you are a traitor.

If you think that traitor is too strong a word, please consider this: In doing what you propose, why even in simply proposing it, you are betraying the promise that past generations have made to future ones, that they would get what they had been promised, when they were due to get it.

Worse, you are choosing to cut benefits (because a delayed benefit or a smaller benefit are cuts) instead of going to get the money we'd need to keep things intact where you should be looking for it: reducing the size and the budget of the military, which are ridiculously bloated; going after corporations who export not only profits (to tropical tax havens), but American jobs (read "lives); taxing the truly rich at rates that would be higher than they have been since President Clinton left office, but still lower than the rates the rich have paid, even for most of the Reagan presidency. Those, may I suggest, are a few things that a progressive President would have fought for. Instead, you are ready to sacrifice the futures of people who have already sacrificed much and have little left to look forward but the hope of relative tranquility in retirement. In essence, you are saying to them that seniors have it too good, and that delaying their life-saving benefits for two years would be a step in the right direction.

If that is not betrayal, Mr. President, I don't know what is.

Moreover, the message you are sending to those who would vote for you or any other Democrat is this: Why bother? If electing a Democrat means that things will get worse just a little slower than under a Republican, and not better, than you are giving your party's potential electors a good reason not to bother. In fact, perhaps it would be better if the country went to hell faster, under a series of Republicans. That way we'll find out quicker where rock bottom is, and what will happen when we hit it.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Planned Parenthood Defunded in New Hampshire

Another state has joined the long string of states who have decided to defund Planned Parenthood. It's New Hampshire this time. But that is not the news. This is:
Councilor Raymond Wieczorek of Manchester added that he opposed funding for birth control and condoms altogether. "If they want to have a good time, why not let them pay for it?" he told the Concord Monitor last week. [via Huffington Post]

The councilman's comments are insensitive, sexist, and plainly dumb.

"If THEY want to have a good time..."? Let's remind the Councilman that no abortion can follow lesbian intercourse. Once we have established that, let's then remind the councilman that in the type of intercourse he presumably prefers a man (at least) has to be involved. Sure, the councilman could possibly have meant that both the man and the woman who have unprotected sex are equally to blame. Call it a hunch, though: I will venture that when the councilman said "they" he was only thinking of the female half of the couple.

If you are a woman, or if you are a man who has a mother, sister or daughter, know this: defunding Planned Parenthood hits the poor the most, and does not only defund abortion; it also defunds access to cheap contraception, pap smears, STD testing, psychological assistance to women. That's why saying "If they want to have fun..." is not only sexist, it's also dumb. Councilman Wieczorek and the others on the New Hampshire Executive Council who voted to cancel the state's contract with Planned Parenthood did not simply defund "fun", they also defunded health care. Which is par for the course for socially conservative men and women in this country and for the Republicans who choose to put corporate health ahead of human health on a daily basis.

Note to Republican voters: the percentage of Planned Parenthood's work devoted to abortion services is 3%. The other 97% is not. If you agree with the New Hampshire Executive Concil's decision not on fiscal grounds, but on moral grounds, then could you please consider the greater good of the other people you are hurting? Oh, I forgot, you are Republicans. Never mind.

What Do You Call 288 People Who Work Tirelessly Against 98% Of Americans?

Congressional Republicans AND the President of the United States, that's what you call them. Funny how during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Republicans liked to call then Senator Obama the most liberal guy in the U.S. Senate. You know, a socialist.

But now, as the Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports, it turns out that Obama offered to raise Medicare eligibility age as part of grand debt deal. No, your eyes are not failing you.

Two years ago, this guy had the opportunity to lower the Medicare eligibility age when health care reform was on the table. Economist after economist after health care expert indicated that lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 55 would have done more to lower health care costs in the country than the bill that actually made it into law. Many went so far as saying that Medicare For All would have been the best way to address the health care crisis that this country faced and is still facing. But the President, or Traitor-in-Chief, as I will from now on refer to him, gave the negotiating platform away to prove how liberal he was, presumably.

Two years later, and he still has not stopped betraying the people who put all their faith in him after eight years of nation-wrecking at the ends of George W. Doofus and Dick(head) Chain-him (and waterboard him, too, while you're at it). Not only did Obama blow the best chance this country has ever had for aligning itself with the likes of Germany and Japan, the countries that the best generation had reduced to rubble but 66 years ago or so, in providing decent, sure, and affordable health care to everyone; he apparently decided that seniors have it too good, and that delaying their life-saving benefits for two years would be a step in the right direction. Balancing the budget on the back of seniors? Good move, genius.

We do not need a Republican president in 2012. We need a Democrat with balls, a spine, and a heart for the little guy. Primary challenge, anyone?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What Do You Call 287 People Who Work Tirelessly Against 98% Of Americans?

Congressional Republicans, that's what you call them.

They will stop at nothing in order to preserve privileges for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, particularly for the top 1%, and even more so for the top 0.01%.

They will slash aid to the poor, to students, to most wage earners, and they will seek to destroy what's left of the unions, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, government oversight, public safety, health care, public transportation, environmental protections, education, you name it. They will protect at all costs the "right" of PhRMA, Big Oil, hedge fund managers, CEOs, big agribusiness, defense contractors, and transnational corporations to get away with paying less taxes than anyone in the world except for Iceland and Norway, to own tax-sheltered private jets and to conceal their income in tropical tax havens.

They will use anything they can in pursuit of their goals, aided and abetted by the criminally spineless or stupid president du jour, by the stupidity of almost half the electorate, which includes a stupefyingly high number hypocritical rubes, ignorant dupes, and ready-to-be-raptured imbeciles, and by too many incompetent, uninquisitive, or sympathetic media figures. Not to mention the many idiots on the other side of the political spectrum who believe that in order to get elected they have to move further to the right, instead of to the left.

It's a pretty vicious cycle, which is made possible to a large degree by timid Democrats like our current president, who fail to see that they are playing into the Republican devils' hands every time they refuse to act boldly. Tinkering at the edges of a failing system, they are doomed to fail and sink us deeper. As they do, the public is made more pliable to the Republican sirens who say that the only way out of the mess is to further cut taxes for the richest 1% of the population, the so called job-creators. When no jobs are created, and things get worse after a new cycle of Republican rule, Democrats get another stab at fixing things, except that they are apparently incapable of learning from their previous failures and they end up repeating the same mistakes and fail again. When they get clobbered in the next election cycle, the lesson they learn is not that they did not act boldly enough, but that they did not become move enough to the right. With every iteration of this vicious cycle, the political balance swings further to the right, the conquests of the New Deal and the Great Society are further eroded, and things get inevitably worse.

Meanwhile, other nations are not waiting for Americans to catch on to the Republican scheme and leave them gasping for air in the dust(bin) of history.

It is amazing that most people on the right believe that the New World Order is a liberal scheme conceived by the Buffets and the Soroses of the world, when in fact it is thriving thanks to the efforts of people like Grover Norquist, the Bushes, the Boehners, the Cantors, the Thomases, the Roberts and the Scalias of the world, with the help of traitors to the Democratic cause like Blanche Lincoln and Max Baucus, to name just two shameful examples. Their goal is to transform as much of the laboring world into an endless reservoir of modern slaves who toil their lives away for the benefit of the new slaveholders (corporations), only to be replaced by new blood when the old has been spilled.

287 (give or take a few) is the number of actors it takes to keep a nation in yoke for the benefit of "the chosen ones". You may call them Republicans, saint patrons of the oligarchs, or The Commission, as you like. They redistribute wealth to the top, the robber baron way, all the while decrying the dangers of socialism and statism. And a complicit electorate, at least a good half of the electorate, blesses their efforts year in, year out.

Republican Voters Are Enablers Of Their Own (And Everybody Else's) Misery

I think the title of this post encapsulates the jist of yesterday's final New Rule on Bill Maher's Real Time in the title of the post.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Obama Is A Timid Right-Leaning Centrist Fool

The jobs report for June is out, and it's not good. Meanwhile the President continues to be a timid fool about how to boost employment. What we need is a national jobs program to rebuild infrastructure and help consumer spending. Many authoritative economists had warned him that he should have focused on boosting employment by initiating a recovery program centered around rebuilding and renewing America's crumbling infrastructure, But no, the timid fool has let Republican hijack the spotlight away from job creation and move it to the budget, the debt ceiling, and mounting deficits. So government jobs have actually declined in the 2 1/2 years Obama has been president.

I am not even sure he means well any more. He is just another centrist fool in a long string of foolish presidents. Makes Nixon and Carter look like progressive giants.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Surprise, Surprise? Nah!

President Obama and Congressional Democrats tried to pass (minor) health insurance reform for health care reform. Anyone who followed things closely could have told you that it was, for the most part, a sham, a scheme aimed at giving the impression of taking action when in fact the goal was to leave things as they were and, if possible, to expand the revenues of a powerful industry. Mission accomplished, for the industry at least. For Americans? Who are we kidding?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

The Lone Tree Declaration Dissected

The Constructive Curmudgeon re-posted The Lone Tree Declaration, which is a conservative manifesto "released in conjunction with the upcoming Western Conservative Summit, sponsored by Colorado Christian University."

1. In our adherence to the self-evident truths of the American Founding, we are conservatives.

2. In our debt to the civilizational heritage of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and Philadelphia, we are Westerners.

3. In our concern for the mounting threat to liberty, seeing freedom in the balance, we convene with solemn purpose at this Summit.

4. We seek a conservative renewal for our country through civic action that puts principle above party, resists the corruption of power, bridges intramural disagreements or rivalries, and protects an open public square centered on the nation’s Judeo-Christian core.

5. We commit ourselves unswervingly to a political and social order that upholds individual freedom and personal responsibility, limited government and the rule of law, free enterprise and private property, traditional family values and sanctity of life, compassion for the poor and voluntarism in service to others, natural law and morality, strong defense and secure borders, all in keeping with the original intent of the Constitution.

6. We reject, and will resist, the socialist temptation, transnational progressivism, secular utopian illusions, appeasement, disarmament, or capitulation to jihad and sharia.

Since I live just a few miles from Lone Tree, I feel I have a stake in this. Though the Declaration, which has a thinly-veiled undercurrent of xenophobia, is obviously not representative of the views of all Coloradans (or Lone-Tree-ers), it nonetheless will get the endorsement of many, particularly many who are easily swayed by declarations which appeal to the limbic system more than to the cerebral cortex. I thought of sending the following response to the blog where I found the Declaration, but then I thought I'd rather post here instead. So here's the point-by-point response.

1) It will be news to the liberals in this country that adhering to the allegedly (and hazily-defined or undefined) "self-evident truths of the American Founding" leads to conservatism.

2) It will be news, and unflattering news at that, to the Native-Americans, the Asians, Africans, the millions of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and many more, that "we" are Westerners.

3) You probably have to be a signatory of the Declaration to see freedom in the balance and liberty under a mounting threat. (And then again it might be, but not at the hands of foreigners and "Islamofascists"; rather at the end of the Supreme Court Justices who found for the plaintiff in Citizens United v. FEC, or who ruled that a class action suit brought against Walmart by 1.6 million women had no standing because the class lacked the element of sufficient commonality)

4) That's commendable, but what exactly does putting "principle above party" mean? Is it the same principle that allows transnational corporations to ship jobs out of the United States at the expense of Americans, for the glory of corporate profits? Methinks "principle" needs defining.

5) The unswerving commitment to "a political and social order that upholds individual freedom and personal responsibility" is also commendable, but it should not be at the top of the list (in order of appearance), otherwise it looks like a sneaky act of bait and switch: Traditional family values and the sanctity of life should be mentioned at the top, as they obviously trump the individual freedom and personal responsibility of individuals in the LGBT community, or those of incestuously raped or life-endangered girls and women who would presumably be forced to carry their pregnancies to term if the Lone Tree Declaration happened to be the founding manifesto for law of the land. The unswerving commitment to free enterprise and private property, for example, is mentioned ahead of compassion for the poor, which is obviously the right ranking for conservatives, seeing how supposedly compassionate conservatives prioritize budgets: Tax breaks for everybody who doesn't need any more money and crackers and catsup for the poor; you know, "vegetables" in the diet. Or no subsidies for heating oil. It took America to popularize the concept of free-enterprise, and American conservatives to give the concept a bad name.

6. 4 out of 6 items in this list appear desirable to me. The non-desirable ones are appeasement and capitulation to jihad and sharia. In fact, one should never appease those who seek to establish a religiously inspired form of government, no matter which religion.

Corporate Tax Whiners

You know the meme that corporations are overtaxed, that the tax rates on corporations in the United States is one of the highest in the world, and that cutting all kind of taxes (corporate, capital gains, and individual taxes on millionaires and billionaires) would create jobs? Well, it's a meme, as I said. But don't believe me: Check out Marie Diamond's article at Think Progress.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

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