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The dirty game of politics played by gangsters with degrees cloaked in Brooks Brothers proper!

Archive for January 8th, 2012

This Month’s Flavor: Santorum Under Glass!

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The Grating Santorum By 

 

RICK SANTORUM was locking down the youth vote.

The man who fondly recalls nuns rapping his knuckles with rulers did some verbal knuckle-rapping of his own on Thursday with students at a forum in Concord hosted by New England College.

Not satisfied with mentioning homosexuality in the same breath as bestiality and pedophilia, as he did in 2003, Santorum tried to win over the kids by equating homosexuality with polygamy.

Even for Santorum, it was a masterpiece of antediluvian abrasiveness — slapping gays and Mormons at the same time.

When 17-year-old Rhiannon Pyle, visiting with her civics class from Newburyport, Mass., pressed Santorum on how he could believe that all men are created equal and still object to two men in love marrying, he began nonsensically frothing.

“So if everybody has the right to be happy, so if you’re not happy unless you’re married to five other people, is that O.K.?” he said, adding, “Well, what about three men?”

The grating Santorum was their worst nightmare of a bad teacher. He merely got booed; he’s lucky the kids didn’t TP his car or soap the windows.

In a campaign where W. is an unmentionable, Santorum is an unexpected revival of Bushian uncompassionate conservatism.

He got more scattered boos on Friday at a library in Keene and a private high school in Dublin. In Keene, he was asked if he would protect gay rights, since gays are “children of God” too.

“Serving in the military is not an unalienable right, it’s a privilege, you’re selected,” replied the candidate, who wants to restore “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He also called marriage “a privilege, not a right,” for the purpose is procreation.

Rick Perry baits gays because it’s good politics; Santorum sincerely means it. His political philosophy is infused with his über-Catholicism but lacks humanity.

At the Dublin event, 16-year-old Jessica Scharf asked Santorum how her handicapped brother could be cared for without help from the federal government. He replied, as The Times’s Katharine Q. Seelye reported, that he and his wife “bear the cost” of a handicapped daughter; he said family, friends, neighbors and the church could help, and that caring for someone would knit them closer. Scharf told Seelye later that such a group was not equipped to handle her brother, who has multiple handicaps.

New Hampshire’s feisty voters don’t seem as enraptured with Santorum’s rigid conservatism and sweater vests as evangelical voters in Iowa were. Many are pushing back on the wacky worldview of Senator Slash, as Santorum was once known for his vicious attacks on Bill Clinton and other Democrats.

He bashes President Obama as a European-style socialist and preaches fiscal conservatism. Yet in the Senate, he made sure dollars from the socialistic Medicare program went to Puerto Rico on behalf of a hometown firm — United Health Services — that later gave him nearly $400,000 in director’s fees and stock options.

He was among the pay-for-play Republicans who tried to strong-arm lobbyists and say that if you wanted to have influence you had to cough up campaign money.

While Karen Santorum was home-schooling their seven children in Virginia, Santorum soaked the Pennsylvania taxpayers to the tune of $100,000 by enrolling the children in a Pennsylvania cyber charter school.

The preface to Mrs. Santorum’s 2003 book of moral parables teaching children good manners was written by Joe Paterno, who warns against “a decline of civility and a coarsening of society.” And he knows how that goes.

In his 2005 book, “It Takes a Family,” Santorum goes off on “radical feminists” poisoning society: “What happened in America so that mothers and fathers who leave their children in the care of someone else — or worse yet, home alone after school between three and six in the afternoon — find themselves more affirmed by society?”

In Iowa, he tossed out a line about food stamps that NPR reported this way: “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money.” He later told CNN that he was “pretty confident” that he didn’t say “black.” The only alternative, watching the video clip, is that he said “blah.” He doesn’t want to make blah people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money?

Santorum’s hot politics of aggrievement have competed with Mitt Romney’s cold politics of convenience. But soon Santorum will be gone and Mittens will reign as the calculating consultant type, unpersuasive in premium denim mom jeans, his hair slicked and gray, a lead in a ’50s B movie.

Santorum thinks he’s a bold color and Romney’s a pastel. But the whole Republican field seems ensconced in a black-and-white ’50s diorama. It’s like they’re running for president of Leave It to Beaverland.

As Tony Soprano told Meadow, “Out there it’s the 1990s, but in this house, it’s 1954.”

© 2012, agentleman.

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January 8th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

GOP: We’re Guilty As Sin

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Fannie and Freddie-Another GOP Big Lie By 

 

There have been many lies promulgated regarding the meltdown in the real estate market, the subsequent Wall Street crash, and the seemingly unending unemployment crisis gripping the country some three years later.

But none of the lies reach the level of intensity surrounding the GOP lie that basically states that Fannie Mae / Freddie Mac created the crisis.

Methodology

As always, the GOP has marketed this lie with propagandist efficiency.

  1. They started with a theory that has a modicum of plausibility.
  2. They found a co-conspirator with a background that suggests that he / she’s an “expert”
  3. Out of the region on one’s body where the sun never shines, he / she makes up pertinent “data.”
  4. He / she writes articles in sympathetic publications, repeating the made-up numbers endlessly (or so it seems anyway).
  5. Congressmen who can use this made-up data pick up the mantra and invite you to testify at hearings.
  6. He / she is chosen for a similarly related investigative panel.
  7. Any other panel members who reject the theory are deemed to have done so for “political” reasons.
  8. Soon, the echo chamber created by the repetitive droning of this “data” drowns out dissenting views and the GOP congressmen/women, even presidential candidates, begin repeating the Big Lie.

Implementation

What is described above is exactly the method and result achieved by Peter Wallison, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a former member of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission utilized to create the  myth that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac caused the real estate bubble and the subsequent crisis in the U.S. economy.

Wallison then recruited a partner, another A.E.I. scholar, Edward Pinto, a former chief credit officer for Fannie Mae, albeit a very long time. Pinto claims that as of June 2008, 20+ million “risky” mortgages had been issued — most of them were on Fannie and Freddie’s books.

Of course his definition of “risky” is so panoptic that it includes mortgages with extremely low default rates as well as those with default rates nearing 30 percent.

Naturally the “30-percenter” mortgages were the ones created by the subprime lenders and Wall Street.
Pinto’s numbers are the Big Lie’s primary data point.

So, who’s to blame for this particular web of lies?

Perpetrators

The most accurate starting place would be the Republicans in Congress, who’s primary purpose has been to deflect the blame, for purposes of eliminating Fannie and Freddie. Add Rupert Murdoch’s, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, which recently published one of Wallison’s articles which loaned credence to the Fannie / Freddie Big Lie. A day later,  The Journal making essentially the same point, repeated the assertion. After all, repetition is all-important to spreading any lie to the inattentive, easily convinced masses.

Wallison’s argument is that the government’s effort to encourage homeownership among low and moderate income Americans is what led to the crisis. Fannie and Freddie, which were required by law to meet certain “affordable housing mandates,” were the primary instruments of that government policy; their need to meet those mandates, says Wallison, is what caused them to dive so heavily into those “risky” mortgages and in essence dragged along the rest of the mortgage industry into the subprime market.

The S.E.C., however, charges that the executives were motivated to begin buying subprime mortgages because they were trying to reclaim lost market share, and thus maximize their bonuses.

As Karen Shaw Petrou, Managing Partner of Federal Financial Analytics, puts it: “The S.E.C.’s facts paint a picture in which it wasn’t high-minded government mandates that did [Fannie and Freddie] wrong, but rather the monomaniacal focus of top management on market share.”

Fallout

These facts clearly show that Fannie and Freddie got into riskier mortgages only after the damage had been already started and, yes, in doing so made it worse, but was hardly the CAUSE.

In fact, they were rapidly becoming irrelevant in the most profitable segment of the market — subprime. Lenders felt that they could not afford to let such an opportunity pass them by.

Three years after the financial crisis, it would seem that a true investigative effort regarding the role of government in housing would be in the U.S.’s best interest.

But in order to have that debate, wouldn’t we need a clear understanding of what role the government’s affordable-housing goals did or did not actually play in the real estate bubble, and how did so many “knowledgeable” people in and out of government not see what was happening, despite the fact that many of the “small” economists clearly were reading the red flags and being dismissed out-of-hand as “anti-capitalists”, “anti-profit”, or downright “anti-american”?

Well …. who’s looking stupid is clearly big stakes for the political parties and their constituents.

That’s where I’d focus … not where the slight-o-hand lies were first perpetrated upon us. As I’ve stated before, isn’t this the inarticulate, albeit highly appropriate theme that OWS is trying their best to bring to the forefront?

Could this why the GOP is so profoundly dismissive of the entire movement in general, and Mr. Gingrich in particular?

I know one thing for sure … we need some straight damn answers once and for all … BEFORE the 2012 elections.

hgold


© 2012, agentleman.

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January 8th, 2012 at 10:36 am

Church And State: They Shall Be As One, Amen!

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The Devil and Rick Santorum: Dilemmas of a Holy Owned Subsidiary By Thomas Ferguson

Election night in Iowa was a heavenly moment for Rick Santorum. As he marveled over the late breaking tidal wave of support that in just weeks had swept him from nowhere into a virtual tie with Mitt Romney for first place in the state’s Republican caucuses, the former Pennsylvania Senator gushed to supporters about the secret of his campaign’s success: “I’ve survived the challenges so far by the daily grace that comes from God. . . . I offer a public thanks to God.’’

But it was not God who saved Rick Santorum. He survived Iowa rather like a blind mole rat might someday outlive a nuclear exchange – by simply burrowing underground while Romney’s Super Pac incinerated Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, and while Perry tried to demolish Ron Paul, whom he considered a more dangerous rival. In a state where 60% of those attending the 2008 GOP caucuses described themselves as “born again” or evangelicals, Santorum was the only ultra-conservative left for resigned evangelical leaders to swing behind.

Now, as the wall of Super Money comes down on him like a ton of gold bricks, Santorum is likely fated, like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Perry himself, to flame out after a brief moment of glory and go back to working with the energy and health care enterprises that helped make him a millionaire after leaving the Senate.

But this leaves a larger question: Why does this curious “shooting star” pattern of flare ups and flame outs distinguish the quest of hopefuls for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination? The answer lies in the party’s tricky long-term strategy to steer ordinary voters into focusing on wedge issues rather than the economic policies. The party establishment wants Romney, but its voters have been so thoroughly trained to focus on gays and abortion that they cannot sit still behind a candidate who concentrates on business and economic growth.

A Party Built for the 1 Percent

Beginning in the Nixon era, and then with ever greater determination and force after Reagan, GOP leaders have carefully built out a very special party structure. But at what should by all rights be a moment of easy triumph, thanks to the combination of the Great Recession and the Obama administration’s repeated economic policy blunders, the GOP is on the verge of chaos. The carefully elaborated structure of primaries, group appeals, and elaborately layered leadership structures is coming apart. Republican leaders now find themselves superlatively prepared to fight exactly the wrong war.

Their dilemma is easy to understand, if one tears oneself away from media talking heads and the endless election chatter that now fills the US press. As perhaps most painstakingly documented by Larry Bartels, in his ‘Unequal Democracy,’ Republican policies are stunningly orientated toward making the richest Americans richer and they have consistently done exactly that, by comparison with Democratic regimes.

This is not to say the Democrats do not also cater to segments of the rich – Bartels, like nearly everyone else writing about American politics, jumped too quickly to the conclusion that the partisan differences he detected followed immediately from the direct influence of mass constituencies rather than the choices different blocs of investors made as they appealed to different segments of the electorate while competing to control the parties. But as far as it goes, his point is true and important.

To summarize and retranslate into the language of my investment theory of political parties: Republicans historically secure the incomes of upper income Americans, whatever else they do. By contrast, Democrats typically compete by offering something – and these days, not much at all – to more of the 99%, even as they go whole hog for financial deregulation amid a raft of money from Vampire Squids, telecom monopolists, and other dark forces.

Republican leaders from Nixon, through Reagan, Gingrich, and the Bushes all understood their situation. They knew that to win consistently, they needed to do two things.  First, they had to discourage as many poorer Americans from voting as possible. A succession of Republican administrations, sometimes abetted by conservative Democrats, have worked overtime at this. Once centered on punitive registration requirements, such efforts nowadays focus more on state measures to curtail early voting and, especially, add demands for photo ids.

No less important were the implications for GOP campaigns and political rhetoric. Once GOP leaders got past bromides about encouraging economic growth, to have any chance of appealing to the normal Americans their policies were first to squeeze, and over a generation, to impoverish, the party needed to change the subject from economics when campaigning. Fast.

Wedge Issues: the Weapon That Backfired

Thus it was that Republican leaders tried out one wedge issue after another, looking for anything that would stick. Nixon, Helms, and nearly the whole party played the race card for a long time; some still do. In the eighties, conservative Republicans built alliances with evangelicals and attacked gays. Many also attacked immigrants, while, of course, virtually everyone talked up defense, national security, and guns 24/7. After 9/11, with much help from Fox News and the other networks, they kept Americans on high alert for low reasons, to the point that Republicans in Oklahoma and other states sometimes run against the threat of Islamic law with a straight face. The party also looked with benign neglect at the rise of a libertarian right, though Ron Paul’s current challenge is a bit more than the party establishment, which lives and dies by the Federal Reserve and the Department of Defense, bargained for.

This brings us to the conflicts that are now chewing up the GOP. Most Americans, if they think about electorates at all, probably think of the American voting universe as a natural fact, akin to the tides or the moon. But as Walter Dean Burnham and I have never stopped emphasizing, that is not true. Electorates are like Japanese gardens. They have to be cultivated over long periods if they are to flourish. A host of rules, institutional practices, and careful appeals mobilize some blocs and demobilize others, including decisions about where to spend money to encourage turnout or make sure enough voting machines are available.

In 2012, history has dealt the GOP a hand it hadn’t counted on. The Democrats should be hopelessly vulnerable on the economy just now. The Obama administration’s failure to stimulate the economy sufficiently and address the mortgage problem, along with its single-minded focus on rescuing the financial sector, has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many Americans on both the left and the right. The opportunity for the Republicans is so huge that that the GOP establishment can almost taste it. As Haley Barbour, a former chair of the Republican National Committee who is also one of the most closely connected of all Republican leaders to big business observed recently, “If the 2012 election is about President Obama’s policies and the negative results of those policies, he won’t be reelected; so if I were campaigning, I’d talk about how his policies have made economic growth and job creation harder.”

So the party establishment rallied quickly behind Mitt Romney, though he is the first choice of comparatively few and mistrusted still by many.

The establishment’s problem, however, is that the electorate it so laboriously built over the last generation still has all those wedge issues on their minds. This doesn’t mean they don’t think also about economic issues – the Iowa polls, for example, show plainly that they do. But many GOP voters are in the party now because of the earlier recruiting efforts and habits that reflected their other deep interests. They aren’t going away. Nor are they going to stop caring about those issues, whether the GOP establishment likes it or not.

So the Republican leaders have a problem. A huge percentage – in Iowa it was three quarters – of the electorate that it presides over doesn’t want to follow its lead. In 1953, after riots broke out in the self-styled worker’s paradise of East Germany, Bertolt Brecht famously suggested that the government should dissolve the people and go find another one. That prospect is not open to the GOP establishment. It will need them in the general election, especially if the economy were to improve. So all it can do right now is to unroll its mighty bankroll and bulldoze through its opponents, hoping that none of those being squashed defects to some third party.

But it might just take divine intervention to make this strategy work.

© 2012, agentleman.

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Written by agentleman

January 8th, 2012 at 5:10 am

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