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George Will On Tim Pawlenty’s Move: Does America Need A No-Fly Zone?

6:13 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

RAF Personnel Prepare Tornado Aircraft Ahead of Enforcing Libya No Fly Zone

RAF Personnel Prepare Tornado Aircraft Ahead of Enforcing Libya No Fly Zone by Defence Images, on Flickr"


The conservative mind is a terrible thing . . . Today, George Will tells Tim Pawlenty this is Pawlenty’s chance to move, and all it takes is a modest tweaking of his message.

The stars are aligned, Will tells us, because incumbent Presidents don’t do well when the unemployment rate is still stuck above 8 percent. Well, except for that FDR fellow who actually put millions of people back to work and only screwed up when he listened to deficit hysterics and WaPo-like media scolds.

Any President who wastes his time and risks the nation’s future arguing with Tea-GOP zombies over how much to reduce the debt through cuts in programs vital to the elderly, children, workers and the middle class doesn’t deserve to be re-elected. At a time when interest rates are historically low, it’s foolish not to be borrowing more, both to invest in the future and to help those suffering in the present. As the economists keep saying this is exactly the time to be pulling investments and spending forward from the future and pushing taxes back.

But how does the jobless problem make Tim Pawlenty the solution? Will doesn’t say, because the man doesn’t have a clue. He and his party opposed sensible stimulus policies and would rather tank US credit than help the economy and unemployed, even though the economic signs tells us the recovery is flat at best and could easily get worse. As Krugman notes, by some measures, we’re in an extended depression now.

What does Pawlenty, or for that matter, any Republican Presidential wannabe offer the unemployed? Nothing. The Tea-GOP zombies have not simply ignored 14 million unemployed and probably 25 million if you count the underemployed or those who’ve just given up. They want to punish them by blocking extended benefits and repealing their rights to engage in collective action and threatening to dismantle every element of the safety net.

The President can’t seem to hire or retain any advisers who will champion a meaningful jobs program, but the Tea-GOP zombies have been vicious in refusing even to consider government efforts to help the unemployed.
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ABC This Week’s Elites to Wisconsin Workers: “We Won, So Screw You All”

9:10 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

ABC’s This Week didn’t even make a pretense of being fair and balanced, let alone honest, because the truth probably frightens them. In covering the historic labor protests in Wisconsin, ABC stacked it’s panel with the elitist right wing propagandist George Will (left unchecked by his nemesis fact-checker, Paul Krugman), a Tea-GOP freshman from Florida, and a senior ABC reporter apparently okay with deficit hysteria, all arrayed against “labor Democrat” Donna Brazile.

Even the usually sensible host Amanpour wondered if the President’s mild statement about an “assault” on public employees went too far. Heavens, pass the smelling salts!

Ms. Brazile thus got barely one chance in four to push back on the rest of the elitist panel’s defense of why it’s absolutely essential that states balance their budgets on the backs of public employees immediately after Wisconsin’s Governor and the elitists Obama/Congress just gave corporations and the wealthiest Americans massive tax gifts.

So while Brazile was able to note that banksters and their elite friends had caused the near depression that tanked families and state budgets and caused over 400,000 state employees to lose their jobs, she didn’t have enough moments to point our that income equality in America is worse than Egypt, that the richest 1 percent get nearly a quarter of America’s wealth and income and that the wealthiest 10 percent capture more than half.

The ABC panel couldn’t recall that banksters were bailed out with trillions, that they reaped record bonuses, then record profits but face no significant tax on their reckless transactions. Also lost from memory are that Obama and Congress just handed the richest Americans hundreds of billions with promises of trillions more, that hedge fund managers face far lower tax rates for their billion dollar paydays or that many corporations, including those to whom Governor Walker just gave $100 million in tax breaks, pay no taxes at all. And if you don’t know what $1 billion will buy you, see Dave Johnson’s 9 pictures that expose this country’s obscene division of wealth.

In the face of such facts that ought to have millions of us in the streets, none of ABC’s elitists thought it worth wondering why public school teachers or any of America’s labor class should be asked to contribute a dime to Gov. Walker’s partly self-inflicted deficit, let alone make major salary concessions (which they’ve offered) or give up collective bargaining rights.

The set up to this elitist “I can’t hear you!” session was a report from ABCs Bob Woodruff in which he gave prominent coverage to a relatively tiny group of Tea-bots and their leader. The leader’s main argument for stripping employees of their collective bargaining rights was “we won, you lost,” which he repeatedly screamed at the protesters as he walked through the huge crowds surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Mr. Tea-bot’s message, echoed by George Will and endorsed by Amanpour was simple: This is about power, and we won, so we can do anything we want to screw you, including stripping you of rights that are fundamental in allocating wealth and privilege in a democratic society. No one noticed that this principle — that government should have the right to strip citizens of economic and political rights — is the direct opposite of the individual rights premise the Tea-Party falsely claims to support.

Woodruff had to follow the Tea-bot around, because the story had begun with a high school teacher who found himself a leader when public employees and their tens of thousands of allies showed up every day last week. That’s the biggest story in America, right now, but Woodruff couldn’t tell it straight. The idea that large numbers of ordinary Americans might be disgusted when their right wing government tries to disempower them and spontaneously gather by the tens of thousands to protest the Beltway’s core beliefs about the distribution of wealth is not something an elitist network can handle.

So Woodruff played it safe and hid from us what any third grade math student would have noticed. This was just dueling demonstrations, he said. Here’s Bob talking to group A’s leader, here’s Bob talking to group B’s leader. Here’s a cropped picture of some people in one group, here’s some in the other group. But for heaven’s sake, never show or explain that there were an estimated 10,000, then 30,000, and by Saturday, between 55,000 to 70,000 protesters in Madison alone, opposing Governor Walker’s rights-stripping plans, but only a mere 1,000 or less on the other side who had been rounded up and bused in courtesy of one of Koch Industry’s front groups.

Koch is one of America’s largest oil/gas resources conglomerates and a major contributor to the Walker campaign. These were the equivalent of Mubarak’s paid thugs trying to provoke violence.

As Think Progress and others have reported, one of Koch’s front groups, Americans for Prosperity, is a major funder of the Tea Party; it helps organize and pay for “grass roots” Tea Party events.

Koch is also the founder of a right wing front group called American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), through which Koch and other corporations fund right wing think tanks and literally buy studies and op-eds in support of legislation for right wing state legislators. Among ALEC’s priorities, in addition to bills like Arizona’s to use the state police to bust undocumented workers, is to bust unions, both public and private. So it’s largely Koch/ALEC’s water that Wisconsin’s Governor Walker, as well as the right wing governors in Ohio, New Jersey, and Florida, are carrying.

One of ALEC’s hacks appeared with the inept Judy Woodruff on PBS News Hour last week. His role was to make certain that the American Federation of Teachers rep who tried to explain why the Wisconsin protests were important was forced to answer propaganda manufactured by ALEC. All of that should have been debunked before hand by PBS. But as usual, PBS didn’t bother to tell us who ALEC is, or who fronts them, and as usual with Judy’s “reporting,” that interview left viewers more misinformed than they were before.

We are overwhelmed in this fight if it’s fought in the elite media. But as Egypt showed us, the real numbers in the street are the counterbalance. If you’re in/near Wisconsin, or any of the other states where solidarity or related demonstrations are scheduled, go.

ABC This Week Panel: We’re in Crisis. Time for Tea-GOPers to “Grow Up”

8:41 am in Government, Legislature, Politics by Scarecrow

Oh my. If Amy Walters, George Will, and Major Garrett agree that Tea Party Republicans need to grow up before they wreck the US economy, maybe there’s hope . . . but not much. Follow the logic if you can:

First, Will opened by noting the Federal Government had bailed out Wall Street and the automakers, but now it faces the prospect of several states, including California (world’s 8th largest economy) declaring bankruptcy.

Next, Will disagreed with Amy Walters that the message from the elections was voters’ hope that everyone in D.C. could just get along and solve the country’s problems. The correct message, Will insisted, was that voters wanted the Tea-GOPs to “throw sand in the gears” and “make it stop.”

Finally, Will, Walters and Garrett agreed that John Boehner would have a problem getting his new Tea-troops to understand that sovereign nations shouldn’t needlessly default on their debt, which Will said would happen if Congress refused to raise the debt ceiling. He and Walters then repeated the theme that previous “no” votes on raising the ceiling were tolerated only because they weren’t the majority, but we’d have a serious financial crisis if there weren’t enough adults to override the crazies. My, my. Where have we heard that before?

In a rational, humane and grownup world, the US would, consistent with the view that the US Constitution was created to “form a more perfect union . . . ensure domestic tranquility . . . promote the general welfare . . .” be working hard to develop a plan to fund essential services that states could not afford to carry during a major economic downturn.

There would be sufficient federal funds to pick up the entire increase in unemployment insurance and Medicaid and other safety-net programs that explode when recessions occur and collapse state tax revenues.

There would be sufficient funding to keep states and local districts from laying off teachers, firemen, police, sanitation, health and other essential workers which states and cities struggle to fund when their own tax revenues collapse.

There would be funding to keep essential programs functioning, to keep infrastructure from collapsing, to keep parks and other civic amenities from deteriorating at a huge, irretrievable loss to their communities.

And these efforts would be linked to programs to put the unemployed back to work, doing all the things that state and local communities need done to keep things going now and to build the foundation for the next generation.

We’re in a national crisis playing out at the state and local level. We need a national crisis response that can only be led and funded at the federal level. That’s what the federal government is for. And that’s the agenda for the next Congress. It would require they become adults.

But to summarize the bipartisan Beltway view, while one of the most dangerous but solvable crises facing the country is the impending bankruptcy of several US states and the collapse of services in communities all over the country — welcome to Ireland and Greece — the Tea-GOP Party coming to power doesn’t have the slightest inclination to allow the federal government to respond but would prefer to “stop it, to throw sand in the gears.” And while this brings several US states crashing to the ground, the same Tea-GOPers think it’s fine to crash the US fiscal and financial system.

Where’s Richard Clarke? “US Taliban planning to attack America.” You’ve been warned.

George Will: A Mind Is a Terrible Thing . . .

9:22 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

The conservative mind is a wonderous thing to behold, especially when it’s the Washington Post’s best mind, George Will.

In a column that starts out ranting about how voracious is the payroll tax that virtually every worker must pay, George Will takes only two paragraphs to forget what he just wrote and proceeds to share goofy GOPer Dave Camp’s lament that so many people have such low incomes that they’re not subject to income tax. Ah, if we could only tax the poor, because, you know, there are now so many more of them. What could be simpler?

Hence, Will and Camp agree, we have this terrible moral hazard in which people don’t have “skin in the game” to hold government accountable, forgetting these same people still pay this supposedly voracious payroll tax that captures more of their income as it goes up and even though they also pay property taxes, gasoline taxes, general sales taxes and a dozen other fees and charges that contribute to government and public infrastructure, including feeding parking meters and paying bridge and highway tolls.

Never mind that workers likely don’t mind paying a payroll tax — the polls confirm they’d even support exposing more of their (and Will’s) incomes to that tax — when it’s explained to them this is their savings that they will get back with interest via Social Security, unless people like Dave Camp and his new friends Simpson, Obama & Bowles steal it from them. Now there’s a moral hazard.

Government accountability sounds like a good idea; we should try it. So I suppose we should mention that the bipartisan conservative majority that rules the country has now fully accepted an entire decade of fraudulent, criminal conduct by banks, loan shark “education” institutions (go Kaplan!), health insurers and medical providers, mass polluters, corporations making and Congresspeople accepting bribes and wholesale Constitutional violations by the executive branch, and we can’t seem to indict anyone who was responsible. Please pay the fines. But for heaven’s sake, let’s fix the tax system to make government accountable.

But to clinch that a mind is a terrible thing to waste on a conservative columnist, Will neglects to mention that the payroll tax that negates the moral hazard and puts real skin in the game was just cut by a third, at Republican insistence — with all of Camp’s friends voting Yah!, and replaced with . . . nothing. Or more accurately, it will be replaced by a Ben Bernanke helicopter drop that will be confused with the dreaded deficit spending, so that the electronic ledgers at the SS Trust Fund don’t miss a cent — and Dave Camp’s Party thought that was just swell.

Or perhaps some merely thought making an outfight gift of a cool $100 billion with a trillion more to follow to the richest folks, many of whom just tanked the economy and are still looting the country, is how you make taxes simpler and government more accountable. As the incoming GOP Chair of the banking committee reminds us, it’s his job to service the bankers, so he will. Mindless.

John Chandley

George Will Proves Krugman’s Point on the Axis of Depression

10:16 pm in Economy, Media by Scarecrow

[Monty Python video from Paul Krugman's post, Austerity in Action.]

In Thursday’s Washington Post column, George Will attacks the Federal Reserves’ latest “quantitative easing,” lamenting that the Fed is required to care about human suffering caused by massive unemployment. Will cites Rep. Paul Ryan, but he’s also following such economic sages as Sarah Palin, Mike Pence, and Bob Corker. It’s all part of the latest coordinated conservative attack on the Fed’s dual statutory mandate to pursue full employment as well as price stability and moderate interest rates.

As Mark Thoma, Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, Martin Wolf et al have explained, the Fed has traditionally used its authority to move interest rates to help control inflation, and hence to dampen excessive growth or spur anemic growth; each of these then affects employment. The only difference now is that with short term interest rates near zero, the Fed’s usual tools for affecting interest rates are at their limit. So the same concept — via purchasing government bonds — is being used now to help lower longer-term rates.

But of course, if the latest “quantitative easing” effort succeeds (many observers doubt it will go far enough), it would improve the economy and lower unemployment. And what’s wrong with that? Will won’t answer that; he sneers at a former Fed official for “regulating society’s reservoir of self esteem.”

Mishkin said “the rationale for maximizing employment is fairly obvious”: “The alternative situation – high unemployment – is associated with human misery, including lower living standards and increases in poverty as well as social pathologies such as loss of self-esteem, a higher incidence of divorce, increased rates of violent crime, and even suicide.”

One wonders what it is that conservatives find so objectionable about government efforts aimed at reducing human suffering. But no matter, the GOP is now intellectually and morally handcuffed by small government zealots, except that part of government needed to shield corporations, wage wars and enforce economic order. They can’t stand the idea that a fundamental government purpose, not just the Federal Reserve’s mandates, might have something to do with promoting the general economic welfare, rather than simply advancing the narrow interests of banksters, creditors and other masters of commerce.

Paul Krugman, who suggested the video above, concludes the GOP belongs in an “axis of depression” along with China and Germany. The latter two are condemning Ben Bernanke, because the Fed’s buying US Treasuries could, among other things, push down the dollar’s value against their currencies. That could improve US exports at the expense of those economies dependent on supporting large trade surpluses with the US.

But why, Krugman asks, is the GOP aligned with Germany and China whose self-interested trade policies are hurting US exports and increasing US unemployment? The reasons are both “odd” and “incoherent.”

The odd: on Monday, a somewhat strange group of Republican figures . . . released an open letter to the Fed warning that its policies “risk currency debasement and inflation.” These concerns were echoed in a letter the top four Republicans in Congress sent Mr. Bernanke on Wednesday. Neither letter explained why we should fear inflation when the reality is that inflation keeps hitting record lows.

And about dollar debasement: leaving aside the fact that a weaker dollar actually helps U.S. manufacturing, where were these people during the previous administration? The dollar slid steadily through most of the Bush years, a decline that dwarfs the recent downtick. Why weren’t there similar letters demanding that Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman at the time, tighten policy?

Meanwhile, the incoherent: Two Republicans, Mike Pence in the House and Bob Corker in the Senate, have called on the Fed to abandon all efforts to achieve full employment and focus solely on price stability. Why? Because unemployment remains so high. No, I don’t understand the logic either.

So what’s really motivating the G.O.P. attack on the Fed? . . . [T]he budget expert Stan Collender predicted it all. Back in August, he warned Mr. Bernanke that “with Republican policy makers seeing economic hardship as the path to election glory,” they would be “opposed to any actions taken by the Federal Reserve that would make the economy better.” In short, their real fear is not that Fed actions will be harmful, it is that they might succeed. . . .

China and Germany want America to stay uncompetitive; Republicans want the economy to stay weak as long as there’s a Democrat in the White House.

So what’s the GOP’s response to America’s unemployed? And why isn’t the GOP’s handcuff-the-Fed gang required to register as lobbyists of foreign governments?

Konczal/Rortybomb, Survey of 30 conservative economists
NYT, Fed Officials brief Congress, bolster defense of QE
Martin Wolf/Financial Times, The Fed is right to turn on the tap

George Will: I’m Rich and Covered, So the Rest of You Don’t Need Health Reform

10:03 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Shorter George Will to Arianna Huffington: "Oh, calm down, you silly girl; Americans are happy with their health insurance, so stop whining."

Nothing patronizing there. Nope. Move along.

Earth to ABC’s favorite recipient of media welfare, George Will:

The percentage of people with employer-based insurance is declining rapidly; it’s now below 59 percent, and those still covered are getting less coverage and being forced to accept more of the risks pushed onto them by insurers struggling to meet Wall Street’s demands for lower medical loss ratios (aka, less coverage, more profits).

As the employer-based coverage shrinks, it pushes people once covered at work into the highly concentrated individual "markets." There, the insurers’ death spiral is forcing massive increases in premiums for the sick (see Anthem BC/BS) and inducing those who are young/well now to drop coverage in a bet they won’t also get sick, thus driving up premiums more, etc, etc.

The very concept of private "health insurance" is failing, and the only thing saving some of its victims is the expansion of public insurance programs like SCHIP and Medicaid, which the reform bills would extend.

Every trend line says America’s private insurance system is imploding, leaving tens of millions at risk and killing/bankrupting thousands. But the willfully misinformed and misinforming George Will says we’re all happy, not to worry, because, you know, he’s well off and can afford his insurance.

And the reason he’s okay (and hence the country must be fine, since he presumes to speak for the common man) is because the beltway media feel compelled to hire, sustain and overpay a fact-challenged conservative hack because that’s what they do.

Related links to follow:

Kaiser, Employer Health Benefits 2009 Annual Survey
EPI, Employer-sponsored health insurance erosion continues, will likely accelerate through 2009
Commonwealth Fund, Trends in Underinsurance and the Affordability of Employer Health Coverage 2004-2007
Wonk Room, Medicaid program sees highest one-year increase in 40 years
Paul Krugman, California Death Spiral (Anthem)
CAP, Map of Health Insurance Competition (Concentration)
Crooks and Liars, Wendell Potter on Medical Loss Ratios
Seminal Archives, Paul Krugman on Republican health care logic: the Great Forgetting meets the Great Disingenuousness

Do ABC This Week’s George Will and Other Panelists Support Murder If It Works?

10:46 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

I don’t know how else to interpret this.

Under George Will’s logic, which relies on Fred Hiatt’s moral framework, if it could be established by an independent commission that the dissemination of Will’s immoral utilitarian views on torture could be discouraged, thus reducing the use of torture and the incidence of people being murdered through torture, by hiring someone to kidnap, torture and even assassinate George Will and other like-minded pundits who publicly propagated such views, it would be the moral thing to do.

How did it happen that it’s regarded as acceptable among America’s "serious" pundit class to argue that cruelty, torture, murder are all okay, if you can convince Sandra Day O’Connor they "worked"?

And the next question for Will and friends should be, "given what you said, what should a patriot do?"