Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney's Veep Choice: Paul Ryan, Koch Ally and 'Right-Wing Social Engineer'

And after Obama capitulates to his Wall St puppeteers, Romney's puppeteers--the Kochs--pick his VP running-mate for him...Paul Ryan. It can get plenty worse, though it doesn't seem possible.--jef

Gay or not gay?

In making the risky choice of picking Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney seals the deal on the Koch brothers' takeover of the Republican Party.
August 10, 2012
 |   By Adele M. Stan

It's official: The Republican Party is now officially a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch brothers. How else to explain Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's pick of Rep. Paul Ryan, Wis., as his running mate. Yes, that Paul Ryan -- chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the infamous Ryan roadmap budget plan, which promises to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system, and yank health care from millions of children whose parents happen to be poor. And that's just the beginning. In addition to a raft of cuts, the Ryan plan would end the Earned Income Tax Credit, which millions of parents count on.

It's a plan that even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich deemed too "radical." Asked by NBC's David Gregory to respond to Ryan's proposal, Gingrich famously said [3] (video):
"I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate."

(Of course that was before Gingrich walked back [4] those remarks, apparently reminded by some savvy operative that he might not want to anger the Kochs, to whom Ryan, 42, is something of a youthful ward, having been the beneficiary of years of support from the Koch-founded Americans For Prosperity.)

In case anyone should miss the point that Ryan is a very Kochy guy, Romney is doing his big reveal of Ryan this morning aboard the U.S.S. Wisconsin, a decommisioned ship docked in the all-important swing state of Virginia. However important Virginia is to the electoral math, Wisconsin is a symbolic icon for the Tea Party. It's not only Ryan's home state; it's the poster state of right-wing triumph, the place where Gov. Scott Walker successfully fended off a recall attempt by progressives in response to a bill he rammed through the state legislature that all but ended collective bargaining for the state's public employees. Much of the credit for Wisconsin's right turn goes to Americans For Prosperity, which boasts a particularly aggressive Wisconsin chapter, which began building a network of activists there in 2005.

Ryan's association with the group goes back almost that far. In 2008, he was granted [5] the Wisconsin AFP chapter's "Defending the American Dream" award, handed to him by a young county executive who served as emcee for those festivities -- a guy named Scott Walker. Since then, he has made countless appearances on the group's behalf, at anti-health-care reform rallies on Capitol Hill, on conference town halls across the country and at Americans For Prosperity and Americans For Prosperity Foundation events. (Just enter Ryan's name into the search engine on the Amerians For Prosperity Web site, and you'll come up with eight pages [6] of citations.) In fact, Ryan was due to speak at last week's conference sponsored by the AFP Foundation in Washington, D.C., forcing increased speculation about his running-mate prospects when he failed to show [7].

For Romney, the pluses in picking Ryan are these: the Tea Partiers, who are less than wild about Mittens, really love them some Paul Ryan -- as does David Koch, who will be seated as a Romney delegate at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Koch and his brother, Charles, are major donors, not only to political candidates, but to a range of right-wing think tanks and groups [8]. In the post-Citizens United world, those donations add up to millions in political advertisements by all manner of non-profit groups. Already, Americans For Prosperity has made a $27 million air-time buy [9] for running anti-Obama ads.

Romney already owes some of his success in the primary season to Koch's favorite politicians in Wisconsin. Remember Rick Santorum? Right-wing base types -- Christian evangelicals and Tea Partiers -- just loved him. He was giving Romney a whole lotta agita during the primaries -- first stealing Romney's reported win in the Iowa caucuses back from the Mittster in a recount, and nearly besting Romney in Michigan, where Romney grew up.

In the weeks leading up to the Wisconsin primary, Santorum was running double-digits ahead of Romney. But then Paul Ryan endorsed Romney [10], and so did the Koch-bought U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. When Ryan began campaigning with Romney in the final days of the campaign, the crowds at Romney events seemed to swell. While conventional wisdom holds that endorsements don't amount to a hill of beans, conventional wisdom had an epic #FAIL on Wisconsin's primary night, when 60 percent of those responding in exit polls [10] said that Romney's endorsers influenced their vote. (Romney also won the endorsements of a number of Americans For Prosperity-backed state legislators.)

But Romney's Ryan pick is not without its minuses, the largest one being running with a guy who has promised to end Medicare and replace it with something else entirely that could wind up costing seniors big-time. Don't be fooled by the fact that Ryan calls his voucher-health-care system for seniors "Medicare". That's just a trick -- like an employer who promises you dental coverage that amounts to a coupon for a discount on a visit to your favorite dentist.

Of course, photos of the children who would lose health-care under the Ryan plan would probably not play well for Romney, either. Democracy Corps, the polling outfit run by Stan Greenberg and James Carville, found the Ryan budget to be a drag on Romney's prospects for moving swing voters into his column. (Greenberg refers to the key Obama coalition of unmarried women, youth, and minority voters as the "Rising American Electorate.") From their latest memo [11], issued in July:

The Ryan budget’s impact on the most vulnerable is powerful among key swing voters, including unmarried women, who shifted a net 10 points toward Obama, the Rising American Electorate (net 3-point shift), and independents (net 9-point shift). Even conservatives were swayed, shifting a net 13 points toward Obama.
Among those who heard an even split of facts about the Ryan budget – including ones about cuts to programs aimed to help mostly lower and working class families – the shift is even more pronounced. With this group of voters, Obama leads Romney by 9 points, 52 to 43 percent, the largest margin of any of the groups in our experiment. It’s clear that focusing on what the Ryan budget does to the most vulnerable Americans can pay dividends for Obama.

Looks like the Koch brothers are going to have to throw a whole lot of money at this thing to make it work for them. But we know they've got plenty of that.

Obama Surrenders to Goldman Sachs

The Justice Department will not prosecute the investment bank for mortgage fraud.
August 10, 2012 | By Andrew Leonard

Rarely does one see a more perfect illustration of the Obama administration’s tortured relationship with Wall Street.

On August 9, the Justice Department and the SEC both announced [3] the end of investigations into potential criminal behavior related to Goldman’s handling of mortgage-backed securities in the runup to the financial crisis. That same day, the Center for Responsive Politics reported [4] that Goldman employees had switched from giving 75 percent of their campaign donations to Democratic candidates in 2008 to giving 70 percent of of their donations to Republicans in 2012.

That’s called having your mortgage fraud [5] cake and eating it too.

Whether motivated by sheer pique at Obama’s mildly derogatory comments about “fat cat” bankers, or annoyed by his calls to raise their taxes back to the perilous heights of the Clinton years, or simply incensed at Dodd-Frank’s potential inroads against Goldman’s profit machine, the much-put upon employees of the world’s most famous investment bank are giving Democrats the cold shoulder. And at the very same time, a Democratic administration is sending up the white flag of surrender, acknowledging that it simply can’t bring Wall Street to account for its misdeeds before and during the financial crisis.

And misdeeds there were. The 635-page Levin-Coburn report [6] on the financial crisis released in April 2011 makes that clear beyond any reasonable doubt. Goldman knew that the mortgage-backed securities it was packaging together were crap, sought out suckers to sell the trash too, and cashed in by betting that the products they were packaging and selling off would implode in value. Sure, everyone on Wall Street was engaged in the same games — the big difference with Goldman was that they were much, much better at it, and got out while the getting was still good.

Unfortunately, what seems clearly obvious to the normal person does not appear to translate into a slam-dunk court case, in the judgment of Department of Justice prosecutors faced with the daunting prospect of tackling the best-money-can-buy legal defense sure to be marshaled by Goldman. There’s surely a nugget of truth there — Wall Street did a very effective job in the 80s and 90s of ensuring that the rules governing their behavior were as lax as possible. But it still feels pusillanimous. And the cowardice completes a circle — because one of the key reasons why Goldman’s campaign contributions are now flowing to Romney is his promise to repeal the Obama administration’s primary effort to prevent future financial sector misbehavior — Dodd-Frank.


Last Friday’s Jobs Report: More Lies From “our” Big Brother

by Paul Craig Roberts
August 4, 2012
In his report on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest jobs and unemployment report, statistician John Williams ( writes:  

“The July employment and unemployment numbers published today, August 3rd, were worthless and likely misleading. . . . Suspecting at one time that the jobs numbers were being rigged against him by his own Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), President Richard M. Nixon proposed a new approach to reporting the numbers.  Although the proposed changes never were implemented, several decades later the BLS adopted reporting methods that were somewhat parallel to the late president’s thinking.”

I will spare the readers an explanation of Williams’ account of the manipulation that is occurring as it is too arcane for the general reader.

Instead, Let’s just apply common sense. According to the BLS, there were 163,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs created in July. This figure is about 13,000 more jobs than is needed to keep pace with population growth. Therefore, the unemployment rate should have declined fractionally. Instead, the unemployment rate (U3) rose from 8.2% to 8.3%.

In case you missed the point: new jobs--a net figure--rose and so did the unemployment rate!
Moreover, the alternative, but much less reported, jobs report from the Household Survey found that the economy lost 195,000 jobs in July. 

The government that lies to you about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, about Iraq’s al Qaeda connections, about the Taliban in Afghanistan, about Osama bin Laden, about Libya and Gadhafi, about Iranian nukes, about Syria, about Pakistan, about Yemen and Somalia, about Bradley Manning, about Julian Assange and Wikileaks, indeed about everything under the sun, also lies to you about jobs, unemployment, economic recovery, GDP growth, 9/11, the “terrorist threat,” everything.

Try to find anything that the government has said over the past 6 presidential terms that is not a lie.

Other than some minor insignificant detail, “your” government has been consistently lying to you about everything of importance.

“Your” government lies to you, because “your” government has an agenda that it most certainly will not tell you about, because if you knew what it is, you would revolt.

Putting down the revolt would divert the government from its agenda. It would also alert the rest of the world to the fact that the US government has an undeclared agenda of world domination, despite the costs to the American people and every other people. World War III looms. 

Nuclear annihilation is the necessary outcome of the neoconservatives’ drive for US world hegemony. Syria can fall, and Iran can fall, but Russia and China are unlikely to accept their reduction to puppet state status. As both are nuclear armed and as the crazed criminals in charge of the US government are wallowing in hubris, nuclear war seems inevitable.

The world’s most mortal enemy is Washington. If Washington prevails, the world will be dead or in slavery to Washington, including all american subjects, whether Democrats or Republicans.

Don’t let it ever be said that your enemy, whatever your country, has not been identified.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Reagan, and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate.