Here on Planet Earth.

The distance between the supporters of the shutdown and their “perspective” on public support and actual polling data could not be more stark. It may be that in this nation, threats to destroy the nation’s economy to gain political ends may be considered “going over the top” of what is reasonable. Certainly, I feel that way.

James Pilant

Ted Cruz Is Living On Another Planet – Yahoo Finance

Meanwhile, back on planet earth, the public hates the shutdown, Americans are 20 points more likely to blame Republicans for the shutdown than Obama, the Republican Party is scoring its worst poll numbers on record, Cruz\’s colleagues in the House and Senate hate him, and they\’re preparing to cave to the president by reopening the government and funding Obamacare.

Cruz is betting that his supporters are too stupid to notice that his strategy is failing and was doomed to fail. He\’s probably right.

Lots of people thought that when Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election after months of conservatives proclaiming that the polls were \”skewed\” and he was on course to win, the party\’s base might start to evaluate whether it misunderstood the world around it.

Remarkably, conservative delusion about facts on the ground is more intense than ever. The appetite for stories like the one Cruz is telling is unending, impervious to facts and sustainable no matter how far the Republican Party\’s poll numbers fall.

When constituencies become aggrieved minorities, seeing themselves as under attack by the establishment, they are vulnerable to hucksters like Cruz, because they disregard outside warnings and evidence that they are being had.

via Ted Cruz Is Living On Another Planet – Yahoo Finance.

From around the web.

From the web site, Attention Deficit Politics.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is defiant towards the needs of the American

people. Ignoring the fact that 48 million Americans were uninsured in

2012, ignoring the fact that Americans with health insurance were

footing the bill for the emergency room vists of the uninsured (by way

of high healthcare costs), he is defiant in an attempt to cloak the

universal health coverage (emergency room visits) formerly provided via

high health and insurance costs.

From the web site, Market Failure.

I would note that Mancur Olson would disagree with

the “strategic irrationality” viewpoint, seeing this as a collective

action problem.  Namely, political entrepreneurs like Ted Cruz see great

advantage from forcing a shutdown in terms of publicity, donations,

position within the party, and so on.  This is causing the entrepreneurs

to act in their own best interest, to the detriment of the party as a

whole.  In this story, the devolution of funding power from party

organizations to third-party funding like SuperPACs has destroyed the

coercive element necessary for the party to act in its own best

interest.  In a neat little irony, the GOP’s relentless attacks on

campaign finance ultimately hampered their ability to do pretty much

anything.  Let’s call this “group irrationality“.  Perhaps the Democrats should be glad that their superPAC infrastructure is so much less developed.


Ethics Bob has a book out!!

The Ethics Challenge

The newspapers (and our blog) are full of unethical politicians; the sports pages full of rule-breaking players and parents; the business news full of sleazy companies and greedy CEOs; the education pages full of students who cheat on exams.  What’s a person to think?
Perhaps you really do have to cheat to win.  Perhaps you need to shade the truth to get ahead.  Good people hear that “everybody does it,” and wonder.

The Ethics Challenge

It is a great pleasure for me to offer a plug for Ethics Bob’s book. Please go the web site (click the link above) and consider buying a copy.

James Pilant

This is a video from the same author –

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Four Impossible Budget Plans, Four Candidates

Four Fiscal Phonies –

Of course, Mr. Romney isn’t alone in his hypocrisy. In fact, all four significant Republican presidential candidates still standing are fiscal phonies. They issue apocalyptic warnings about the dangers of government debt and, in the name of deficit reduction, demand savage cuts in programs that protect the middle class and the poor. But then they propose squandering all the money thereby saved — and much, much more — on tax cuts for the rich.

And nobody should be surprised. It has been obvious all along, to anyone paying attention, that the politicians shouting loudest about deficits are actually using deficit hysteria as a cover story for their real agenda, which is top-down class warfare. To put it in Romneyesque terms, it’s all about finding an excuse to slash programs that help people who like to watch Nascar events, even while lavishing tax cuts on people who like to own Nascar teams.

Four Fiscal Phonies –

I never know whether I should write leading into the article quote or comment down here after it. I guess I’ll just hit or miss until I figure something out.

Well, the meat of the matter is that we have four president candidates for one party. Everyone of them is worried sick about the deficit and believes it will destroy the nation and do it quick. (I can provide you with quotes running down the page in an almost infinite pattern.) Everyone of them has a budget plan. And everyone of these budget plans would make the deficit worse. All of them insanely propose dropping taxes on the 1/10 of 1/% who have done so much to make the United States the envy of every ruthless malefactor of great wealth on the globe.

So, let me get this, the deficit is a serious problem but not serious enough to raise taxes, in fact, it’s not bad enough to make cutting taxes a problem.

Our political speech seems to have arrived at a high level of incoherence.

We’ve got to do better than this. We have to have people with some grasp of facts or, just at least, be able to count.

James Pilant

I’m adding a little note here defending Social Security from the deficit hawks who also want to cut taxes. JP

Social Security Didn’t Create the Deficit

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Rick Santorum Journeys to a Fortified Refuge of the 1%

The wealthy have their own schools and their own police, and so on and so on. It’s kinda’ like living in a South American country where the wealthy elites never have to see or interact with the smelly peons. Oh wait a minute, it’s exactly like that. It’s just that the peons are still laboring under the illusion that they are viewed as something besides overweight, lazy, unworthy burdens. It must be nice in there. By the way, to attend Santorum little event, you had to pay $2,500 a head.

Some people are more equal than others.

James Pilant

Santorum woos the wealthy in exclusive North Texas enclave | McClatchy

Santorum, who is competing with Mitt Romney for front-runner status in the GOP race, spoke to a group of supporters during a private fundraiser in the gated community of Vaquero, one of the most high-end neighborhoods in the country.

(From later in the article)

Police cars were parked near the security-patrolled Westlake enclave as a steady stream of vehicles entered the neighborhood, home to residents such as conservative political commentator Glenn Beck, Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton, BNSF Railway CEO Matthew Rose and pro golfer Ben Crane. Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, formerly a Ranger, owns a home there that he is leasing out to New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.

Santorum woos the wealthy in exclusive North Texas enclave | McClatchy

See how the top .001% live

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Ethics Bob has some Choice Words about Mitt Romney

English: Governor Mitt Romney of MA
Image via Wikipedia

Mitt Romney: Liar, liar, pants on fire. Said he didn’t care about poor people, now brushes it off as “I misspoke” « Ethics Bob

(Here’s a representative paragraph. jp)

But appearing so heartless can be costly to a Presidential candidate. So Romney tried to lie his way out of it, saying he misspoke. But he didn’t misspeak. Misspeaking is when I call my granddaughter by her sister’s name. Misspeaking is when John McCain tells a Romney gathering that he’s confident that President Obama will cure the nation’s ills. Misspeaking is not saying something, then when challenged explaining what you said. He didn’t misspeak.

Mitt Romney: Liar, liar, pants on fire. Said he didn’t care about poor people, now brushes it off as “I misspoke” « Ethics Bob

Ethics Bob is holding Romney to the standard of truth.

I also found Romney’s original statement much more credible than his later correction. The conviction that he worked hard and others have not making them unworthy is part of his make up. Otherwise his overwhelming sense of entitlement would make no sense to him.

I do not believe that the struggles and the pain of American workers and the middle class have any relevance to him. His devotion is only to the comically titled, “job creators.”

James Pilant

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Rick Perry Discovers Populism?

This is startling. Okay, maybe shocking is a better word. I prefer my candidates to be consistent. It makes writing about them simple. The things I said yesterday are accurate today. Columns just write themselves.

But look at this. He sorta, kinda joins my side of the argument. I thought that in all of thinking down the most casual, simple basic thoughts that we had nothing in common. My world is shaken.

Now I have faith that he will never utter such things again. But what if I’m wrong and he’s actually changing? That’ll rattle me good. Is that even possible?

Well, let’s see how the vultures and the Republican stalwarts react.

I bet they’re more surprised than me.

James Pilant

Perry Says Romney and Bain Capital are Vultures

Rick Perry (from the Governors Web Site)

During a town hall event in Fort Mill, S.C, the Texas governor amplified an attack on Romney that’s being made by a super PAC which supports former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The Super PAC’s film “When Mitt Romney Came to Town” accuses the Republican frontrunner of “looting” companies during his time as the head of Bain Capital.

“I will suggest they’re just vultures,” Perry told supporters, according to Politico. “They’re vultures that are sitting out there on the tree limb, waiting for a company to get sick. And then they swoop in, they eat the carcass, they leave with that and they leave the skeleton.”

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Is there Hope for the 99%, Can Individuals Still Make a Difference in a Nation Dominated by the 1%?

I had the pleasure of reading the article quoted below. It’s written by Erica K. in Open Salon. It’s entitled –

Requiem for the Jerry Springer Nation

(An excerpt from the article) –

Then came the Occupy movement, people from all walks of life banding together for a common cause, with good intentions, fighting for the least of their brothers and sisters, not the wealthiest and slimiest. It filled me and many with hope, and others with disdain, but it was something. A something that spread from Wall Street across the nation and into other parts of the world. Something is better than nothing.

I, too, have wondered if change was possible. Sometimes, the Obama’s servitude to the great economic interests particularly financial institutions, has driven me to rage. The Democratic and Republican seem interested in the 99% only the most unusual circumstance. Generally speaking, either party can be counted on to be obedient to corporate money.

So, the current political situation is hopeless. It is virtually impossible in most states to find a candidate who has any degree of fidelity to the middle class, the people that actually make America work.

I am a member of the 99%, and I know what to do. It’s been done many times before.

We take over a political party. I don’t care which one.

History shows successful takeovers by Progressives at the turn of the Twentieth century and the liberals in the 1930’s.

Please understand, you don’t influence politicians by editorials and tough words in meetings, you beat them in elections. They have to be humiliated, vilified, driven from electoral politics.

No prisoners.

When some Democratic says the phrase, “What I’m doing is tough for you, but think what the Republicans would do.” That person is an enemy. You dry up his money. You pound him with criticism and ridicule at every turn, and then you beat him at the polls. You knock him down so that he never enters politics again. Every time, a candidate who believes wholeheartedly in defending and restoring the middle class wins, you win. Every time a compromising, corporate dependent candidate with some generally sympathetic views wins, you have suffered a humiliating defeat. If you compromise, you will be sold. Corporate contributions demand that result and they get that result.

For more than three decades, Liberals, Progressives and Unions have voted for the more liberal of the candidates in lock step. The result is that those candidates can ignore their interests moving to the right year by year to pander to corporate interests. Time after time, I hear the phrases, “We have to settle for what we can get, we have to face reality, we can only do what’s possible.” These are the words of compromise and slow, agonizing defeat. And for thirty years, the nation has moved to the right.

The left got what it deserved for its compromised: millions of jobs shifted overseas, workers rights stomped into insignificance, financial interest freed to speculate with public money, tax breaks and subsidies for countless industries, and, last but certainly not least, well organized, well financed attacks on Social Security.  This has been the result of compromising, of settling for what was “possible.”

The Republicans openly declare their fealty to the one percent and the Democrats are so toothless, weak and doctrineless that voting is almost pointless.

Occupy Wall Street has brought me hope. Maybe there is chance that this country can be run by its citizens, not as an oligarchy but as a democracy.

James Pilant

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Super PACs Worry Even Republicans

The United States Supreme Court.

Image via Wikipedia


Super PAC Disclosure Requirements Hot Topic Of Conversation Among GOP Candidates

“What is happening now is what I predicted,” McCain told CBS. “The United States Supreme Court — in what I think is one of the worst decisions in history — struck down the restrictions in the so-called McCain-Feingold Law, and a lot of people don’t agree with that, but I predicted when the United States Supreme Court, with their absolute ignorance of what happens in politics, struck down that law, that there would be a flood of money into campaigns, not transparent, unaccounted for, and this is exactly what is happening.”

Super PAC Disclosure Requirements Hot Topic Of Conversation Among GOP Candidates

There is probably an advantage for many Republicans in the lack of limits of corporate campaign contribution. However, with the destruction of Newt Gringrich in the Iowa caucuses after a pummeling by a Super PAC sympathetic to Romney, there is some concern in the ranks of the party, as you can see from the article linked to above.

That we should at least know who is funding these Monster Super PACs would seem to be simple intelligence. Otherwise, we have licensed the wealthy to do advertising hit jobs on any candidate they wish with no accountability whatever. Of course, our Supreme Court composed of members whose connection with the 99% is tenuous at best, may find political hit jobs to be a legitimate form of political speech since that is one way in which corporations and the rich like to communicate.

James Pilant

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PBS is a Worthy Investment

paula kerger

Image by kthread via Flickr

Paula Kerger, PBS Chief, Calls For Views To Oppose Mitt Romney’s Stance Towards TV Funding

PBS chief Paula Kerger said Wednesday that she recognizes the United States has to make tough budget decisions but defended PBS as an effective public-private partnership.

Paula Kerger, PBS Chief, Calls For Views To Oppose Mitt Romney’s Stance Towards TV Funding

Watching regular television is a depressing experience. A constant barrage of ads designed to magnify every insecurity to sell products. I tend to believe modern television viewing exacerbates psychological problems.

But we in the United States have an alternative. We can watch public broadcasting. We can be enlightened. Our children can watch television without a constant barrage of sugar cereal ads and pleas to buy the latest toys.

I use some of their shows like Frontline for my classes. They deal with subjects with a great deal of documentary skill. I enjoy the History Channel and the like but sometimes their work is more a hash of history cliches than well assembled stories.

Some of the best viewing experiences of my life have been PBS programs. That’s where I learned about Kurosawa and Goddard. I absorbed a lot of history and learned to think outside the intellectual limits of rural Oklahoma.

There are those that believe that the free market produces the best possible outcome. They haven’t watched “Two and a Half Men,” a weekly half hour about a libertine whose impulses are out of control, a neurotic brother with a son so dumb, you wish the father has satisfied his fatherly urges by getting a pet. The show features discussion of unusual sex acts, fart jokes and a parade of easy women. Thus, the free market in action; a show aimed at a horny 14 year old.

Once this is published, someone is going to write me about the poor souls who do not watch public television and argue that they shouldn’t bear a burden of taxation for what interests me.

Yes, let’s excuse people from paying property taxes for schools because they don’t have any children. or pay for roads, police, firemen, soldiers they don’t use unless there’s war, etc.

Having a country in which there is a certain degree of belief in scientific beliefs, some investigative reporting and knowledge of common cultural and historical heritage is also a worthy goal.

That there are many people who have a philosophy of “if I can’t figure out how much money it’s worth, it’s a pointless activity,” is a sign of a declining civilization gradually descending into a third world status of ignorance.

While there is art, culture and literature, there is still some hope that the experiences of Americans will be respected, the we might be able to live lives of significance, and there might be a common cultural heritage of something more than fart jokes and quotations of corporate quarterly profits.

James Pilant

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Ethics Bob Takes on the Topic of the Wall Street Protests

I consider Ethics Bob to be a buddy. We often write about the same topics. Here is his take on the wall street protests.

James Pilant

From Ethics Bob,

Ethics Bob

entitled –

 Take “Occupy Wall Street” complaints seriously, don’t use force to disperse them

Americans pay attention when a lot of people turn out. And so there’s lots of attention for “Occupy Wall Street,” or OWS for short. Thousands of people, mostly of the Millennial generation (born since 1982) are camping out in Zuccotti Park, just two blocks from Wall Street’s New York Stock Exchange.

The Right doesn’t like OWS: “I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare,” Mitt Romney opines. “Growing mobs,” snarls Eric Cantor. “Anti-American,” Larry Kudlow charges. “The beginning of totalitarianism,” warns Ann Coulter.

OWS comprises lots of people, diverse in temperament, opinion, and goals, but they are engaging in old-fashioned American protest, this one against corporate greed, social inequality, and joblessness.

Some dismiss them as incoherent, but that’s a mistake. They’re angry about the way our society has moved away from the American dream and toward greater and greater inequality. Like them or not, OWS is a growing force. Our country needs to take their complaint seriously. They may be as consequential as Tahrir Square. Or more. Or maybe not.

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