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Oh My! CNBC’s Jim Cramer Goes Anti-Rick Santelli Over GOP Clown Debate

7:13 am in Economy, Republican party by Scarecrow

I don’t know what got into Jim Cramer.  Apparently, he must have thought the GOP Clown Car debate CNBC inflicted on its viewers involved a group of grown ups discussing serious economic and financial issue in a serious way.

Did he not know, before last night, that this group of GOP specimens includes some of the silliest, most clueless, confused, misinformed and/or intellectually challenged/dishonest bunch of charlatans ever assembled by a national political party?  Was he really surprised to learn these clowns perfectly reflect what the Republican Party has become, that they have nothing useful or even coherent to say about any of the nation’s real problems?

Europe is teetering on the edge of a financial collapse so serious it’s likely to cause a recession or worse there and drag the US back into it here.  Sounds like a serous topic, right?  And part of the reason is Europe’s leaders became enthralled with the same dishonest deficit/debt hysteria that afflicts the GOP and most of the Congressional Democrats, not to mention the President and his not-the-Chief of Staff corporate bagman.

Much like the US, Europe is burdened with incompetent political and economic leadership, epitomized there by a depressingly (literally) irresponsible European Central Bank. Collectively, they’re strangling their own economies in the absurd belief that if you punish and impoverish the debtors that buy your stuff, creditor nations that sell them that stuff will be just fine.

Sensible people understand the ECB’s abdication of its core responsibilities — e.g., lender of last resort in a financial crisis — will hasten collapse in Europe.  So naturally, half of the GOP’s clowns want to abolish the central bank here or “hurt” the Fed Chairman if he does something sensible to help the recovery, and the ones who know this is wrong are too cowardly to explain why that’s nuts.

It’s possible that Huntsman understands part of this — but he will never let on and it doesn’t matter for Mr. 1% anyway — and that Romney, in wandering between positions, misunderstands the rest but will take whatever position his audience needs to hear.  But it’s not credible that anyone else on that stage, including half of CNBC’s questioners — Rick Santelli! –  grasps what’s happening in Europe or here.

The GOP’s proposals are a mindless collection of talking points and pointless initiatives that at best would do nothing except give money to friends but collectively would make things worse.  In the meantime, their colleagues in Congress doggedly refuse to even debate even modest proposals that might actually help the unemployed and rescue homeowners and drowning states.

But this is not news.  We’ve known for some time that the GOP has become hopelessly corrupt, confused, corporatized, criminal and captured by teh stupid.  The one thing it’s definitely not is conservative.   It’s destructive of everything, and that means they’re dangerous. Even George Will knows this.

The Republican party should be abolished for the good of the country, and it’s astonishing that Jim Cramer is just discovering this.   Will Maria now admit it too?

Tea Party About to Learn Constitution Doesn’t Say What They Think It Says

10:44 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Beginning in January 2011, we’ll be sucked into the black hole of Tea Party Anti-Government Mythology, in which many of the things the US Constitution says will be ignored or misread out of existence.

As promised by some of its silliest adherents, the Tea Party has convinced the shamelessly pandering House Republican leadership to require a reading of the US Constitution at the beginning of Congress’ First Taliban Session. It’s to become a religious ritual:

“You can do the talk, but you have to do the walk,” said Clifford Atkin, a leader of the New Boston Tea Party in Woodbury, Conn., who likened the increased focus on the Constitution to a religious conversion.

Beth Mizell, who leads a loose affiliate of tea party activists in tiny Franklinton, La., has attended weekend classes on the Constitution that she compared to a church Bible study. She said she is heartened that Congress is taking these steps.

The ostensible purpose is to convey to the nation how serious their commitment is to passing legislation only if it is expressly authorized by a provision they understand and agree with and have not promised to repeal or ignore.

This will be a delicate undertaking, requiring the utmost care in selective reading and limited understanding, followed up by required reeducation seminars conducted by Cardinal Scalia. Any stray logic, misplaced feelings of empathy, or, God forbid, commitment to the public welfare constitute a threat to the enterprise. Nor will the new Taliban tolerate any inadvertent dwelling on something as clear as the First Amendment, emphatic as the Fourth or morally compelling as the 5th and 14th Amendments.

No, understanding these provisions would force painful reevaluations of much of the so-called anti-terrorism legislation of this decade. Why, they might realize the Constitution does not sanction many provisions of the Military Commission Act, funding for Gitmo and CIA black sites, engaging in unlawful wars, or enabling massive electronic surveillance without just cause. Can you imagine the Tea Party repealing the most tyrannical provisions of the Patriot Act?

But a lesson in civil liberties is not the new priests’ goal. Our Tea Party patriots hope to expose to their countrymen that the Constitution does not permit a mandate to buy private health insurance; in Scalia’s Court, they may succeed. But they will have missed the point, again.

What will likely not occur to them is that one of the difficult problems they’ve been elected to solve is how to provide humane, medically appropriate health care to everyone and provide a just means to collect the money and allocate it fairly to providers. Those are really hard problems when you start from where we are, but it’s not the Constitution that stands in the way of solving them.

Fortunately, every other advanced country has solved this on a far more affordable and universal scale. So in a sane world, Congress’ job would be to figure out why we remain so confused about this and to stop listening to those who keep us locked in a corrupt, inhumane system with 50 million uninsured. They might then realize that some parts of a solution set will likely require most people, with whatever exceptions seem fair, to do something they might not otherwise do for themselves, such as, e.g., pay their taxes to support Medicare for all. That’s not a constitutional problem, because we already do it for everyone over 65.

The Founders did not write the Constitution to make solving the nation’s problems impossible. They designed a framework in which problems like providing humane, universal care and a host of other national issues can be solved. How do we provide work at decent wages for everyone who needs/wants a job? How do we use fiscal/monetary policies to encourage growth and allocate wealth fairly? How do we provide a financial system that doesn’t loot the country? How do we provide sustainable commerce, industry and livelihoods that don’t destroy our own planet? So, far, not a single representative of the Tea/Republican Party has said an intelligent word on any these topics. They don’t know what their job is.

The notion of having a capable national government committed to “provide for the general welfare” is not an alien doctrine; it’s the purpose of the Constitution, the one that made America “exceptional” at the time. That’s why this foundational principle is in the Preamble. Yet this core principle somehow escapes those calling themselves the “defenders of the Constitution.”

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Terms like we, union, Justice, common, general welfare, ourselves . . . leap out at you.

The Republican House Leadership would do well if it simply read the Constitution’s Preamble every day, and then set to work on how to use the Constitution to solve the nation’s problems. Where’s your jobs program, Speaker Boehner?

Liz Warren Tells Only Half the Story

8:53 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

At FDL News, David Dayen covers an article on Elizabeth Warren in which she argues, correctly, that if the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau had been up and running years ago, much of the banking/mortgage fraud could/would have been prevented.

That’s fine as far as it goes. But there’s something missing from the polite Ms. Warren’s telling.

I’d very much like to believe that if a relatively new and still energetic Consumer Financial Protection agency had been around a few years back, and if it had been led by a relentless consumer champion like Liz Warren, it would have flagged and likely limited much of the massive fraud committed by banks, mortgage lenders, servicers and securities bundlers, provided . . .

. . . provided it wasn’t interfered with by more powerful regulators whose job it was to stop fraudulent banking and lending practices instead of interfere with legitimate investigations by those with authority, including state regulators.

It is a pernicious myth, perpetuated by those in charge at the time (many still here), that the federal government was powerless to stop the financial crisis and all the fraud and looting that attended it. There was plenty of authority, but the people in charge chose to look the other way.

Just as bad, these complicit federal regulators aggressively stopped efforts by states to investigate and halt the fraudulent practices. In early hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, they interviewed numerous witnesses, including States’ Attorneys General and securities regulators from Texas, Illinois and other states who were empowered to investigate and stop fraud and began their own investigations. Several state officials and experts testified that their efforts were repeatedly stymied by federal bank regulators who, although willing to do nothing themselves to stop the rampant crime wave, insisted that states were preempted from even conducting their own investigations.

It is simply not true that there was no government defense against the massive fraud perpetrated by banks, mortgage originators and lenders, loan servicers, foreclosure mill law firms, and Wall Street securities/trusts marketers. All the authority the feds and states needed existed then to stop the reckless crime wave that eventually tanked the financial sector and has since victimized millions.

Federal regulators at the Federal Reserve, Treasury and OCC were complicit throughout. They chose not to do their jobs, and they’re just as guilty as the looters that still populate the nation’s financial sectors from top to bottom.

Yes, bring on the CFPB and put Liz in charge. We need its energy and new blood. But we also need to clear out the incumbent crooks who will do everything they can to tie her hands.

And don’t forget, that complicity permeates much of Congress and the entire Republican Party, whose representatives on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission recently issued their own minority report that ignores all of this history. And they’re insisting the Commission’s final report ban any references to “Wall Street,” “shadow banking,” “interconnection,” “deregulation” and other terms that might reveal an entire political ideology’s complicity in the largest, most egregious looting ever perpetrated.

Republicans Get Their Groove Back — Promise to Head for Same Ole Ditch

1:14 pm in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is ecstatic because he believes Republicans "got our groove back." He’s right, of course.

In the past week or so, Republican leaders have uniformly reaffirmed every destructive governing instinct ever uttered by their most irresponsible loudmouths:

– They want to deregulate Wall Street, again, by repealing even the modest oversight provisions of the financial regulation bill.

– They want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy (nevermind the deficits); but they’ll impose every spending cut they can on domestic programs for the non-wealthy, claiming we can’t afford them.

– They would weaken and/or dismantle the safety net for the middle class, by cutting or deferring benefits for Social Security, hacking Medicare eligibility and benefits, defunding unemployment insurance and ending COBRA subsidies.

– They would repeal the worthwhile parts of the Republican-designed Obama/Romney Care, especially the parts that benefit those eligible for Medicaid and seek to regulate insurers.

– They’ll impose a moratorium on new regulations and repeal recent health, safety and environmental regulations; then they’ll make sure off-shore oil drilling is overseen only via industry self-regulation.

– They’ll embrace austerity for workers, the middle class, the poor, while leaving military spending essentially unchecked; they would accelerate efforts to outsource to private, legally unaccountable corporations more and more of the lucrative contracts serving military occupations and other essential government functions.

For a short while after their well deserved 2006 and 2008 electoral drubbings, a few Republican pundits wondered out loud whether tanking the economy, doubling unemployment, unleashing a crime wave on Wall Street, starting and losing two wars and destroying the rule of law along with essential freedoms in the Bill of Rights might have been really bad politics, not to mention really terrible policies.

But they’re over that momentary bout with doubt now. With the help of political geniuses in the White House who did everything they could to resurrect the GOP’s image as the party of good ideas, the Republicans are back to openly advocating every insane policy and using every despicable political tactic permissible under America’s corrupt political system.

There’s probably no stopping them now; a vanishing hope would require a thorough turnover of the Democratic Party Leadership and cleaning out the White House stables. History tells us we only get that after a preventable but catastrophic loss.

So yes, the GOP has got their groove back, and it’s groovier than ever. They’re offering the same policies and direction only worse for the economy, the climate and the country. They’re heading for the same ditch, only deeper. They offer the same leaders, only they’re even more irresponsible and making even more insane statements, and they’re driven by the same rabid core supporters whipped into ignorant, racist fury by some of the most cynical media and political manipulators in the business.

We’re on our way into a black hole, and there are no theories on whether there’s a way back out. Good luck with that, America.

John Chandley

Paul Krugman, Republican economics: Redo That Voodoo