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Member since: Fri May 8, 2009, 12:59 AM
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New Yorker - Justice Roberts Defends the Embattled Rich

The billionaire sponsored pity party for the filthy rich continues.


Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, in which the Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on campaign donations, offers a novel twist in the conservative contemplation of what Nazis have to do with the way the rich are viewed in America. In January, Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, worried about a progressive Kristallnacht; Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot, said, of economic populism, “If you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.” Roberts, to his credit, avoided claiming the mantle of Hitler’s victims for wealthy campaign donors. He suggests, though, that the rich are, likewise, outcasts: “Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” he writes:

If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades—despite the profound offense such spectacles cause—it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.

* * *

Roberts’s other argument is a little sad: “That same donor, meanwhile, could have spent unlimited funds on independent expenditures on behalf of Smith.” In other words, aggregate limits wouldn’t foster corruption, because using money to influence a campaign is much easier with the sort of independent expenditures that Citizens United makes possible.

* * *

But then Roberts relies on a very narrow measure of corruption: “Ingratiation and access … are not corruption,” he writes, quoting Citizens United. (There are a number of citations of Citizens United in this decision.) The argument of McCutcheon, in effect, is that a political party itself cannot, by definition, be corrupted: “There is a clear, administrable line between money beyond the base limits funneled in an identifiable way to a candidate—for which the candidate feels obligated—and money within the base limits given widely to a candidate’s party—for which the candidate, like all other members of the party, feels grateful.” The gratitude may only be for a place of safety where donors, assailed by the popular opinion of bitter, poorer people, can find a little bit of solace.

GOP candidates kiss up to billionaire Sheldon Adelson

Of course, the United Supreme Court, engaged in an odd bit of fact-finding by an appellate court that there is no evidence that the campaign finance limits at issue will serve to reduce the risk of corruption. Talk about legislating from the bench. An appellate court can simply disregard factual and legislative findings and substitute its policy perogatives for those of the elected legislative body because the Supreme Court thinks that campaign finance limits in question are not a panacea against corruption.


When Sheldon Adelson, the world’s eighth-richest person, according to Forbes, let it be known that he was looking for a Republican candidate to back in the 2016 presidential race, these four men rushed to Las Vegas over the weekend to see if they could arrange a quickie marriage in Sin City between their political ambitions and Adelson’s $39.9 billion fortune.

Adelson was hosting the Republican Jewish Coalition at his Venetian hotel and gambling complex, and the would-be candidates paraded themselves before the group, hoping to catch the 80-year-old casino mogul’s eye. Everybody knows that, behind closed doors, politicians often sell themselves to the highest bidder; this time, they were doing it in public, as if vending their wares at a live auction.

As The Post’s Philip Rucker reported, Kasich, the Ohio governor, kept addressing his speech to “Sheldon,” as if he were having a private tete-a-tete with the mega-donor (Adelson and his wife spent more than $93 million on the 2012 elections) and not speaking to a roomful of people.

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In addition to Adelson, two of the world’s other top-10 billionaires, David and Charles Koch (combined net worth: $81 billion) are pouring tens of millions into the 2014 midterm elections in an effort to swing the Senate to Republican control. These and other wealthy people, their political contributions unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, are buying the U.S. political system in much the same way Russian oligarchs have acquired theirs. (Super-rich liberals such as Tom Steyer are spending some of their fortunes to help Democrats, but they are pikers by comparison.) Spending by super PACs, a preferred vehicle of billionaires, will surpass spending by all candidates combined this year, predicts Kantar Media, which tracks political advertising.

Creationists Demand Airtime On Neil deGrasse Tyson's 'Cosmos'

This story just further illustrates how corporate and uninformative our media has become. With the advent of false equivalency being substituted for an objective and unbiased goal in media, we now have creationists demanding equal time to push superstition on a level playing field with science.


Creationist groups have made yet another complaint about Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey."

Since the show debuted on FOX this month, creationists have not kept quiet about the science documentary series. What's the problem now?

While some have shunned the reboot of Carl Sagan's 1980 PBS series altogether, other creationists now have made a request: equal airtime.

Appearing on "The Janet Mefferd Show" on Thursday, Danny Faulkner of Answers In Genesis voiced his complaints about "Cosmos" and how the 13-episode series has described scientific theories, such as evolution, but has failed to shed light on dissenting creationist viewpoints. He said:

Tyson recently addressed providing balance when it comes to discussing science. In an interview with CNN, the astronomer criticized the media for giving "equal time" to those who oppose widely accepted scientific theories.

"I think the media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but doesn't really apply in science. The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view, and then you can be viewed as balanced," Tyson said, adding, "you don't talk about the spherical earth with NASA and then say let's give equal time to the flat-earthers

"Where are the positive stories about Obamacare?"

Here is a great story documenting some of the corporate censorship that is going on as the news media bends over backwards to help their corporate sponsors elect right wing Republicans.


If there were fairness in this world, Rita Rizzo would be a media star.

Rizzo, 60, owns a management consulting firm for nonprofit groups and government offices in Akron, Ohio, with her husband, Lou Vincent, 64. Vincent, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, has gone without health insurance for 10 years. "We got 30 denial letters," Rizzo told me last week.

Three years ago, Rizzo got a hip replacement. Her own insurance premiums were going to rise by $500 a month, to about $800, so she chose instead to triple her deductible to $6,000 to keep the increase to a mere $150 a month.

The couple used a $5,000 tax-deductible health savings account to cover her out-of-pocket expenses; Vincent's medication, which ran to $178 a month; and his blood work-ups, at $2,400 a year.

In December, Rizzo signed up for Obamacare. She now has a policy that covers her and Vincent together, including all his meds and lab work, for $379 a month, with a $2,000 family deductible.

* * *

But you haven't heard Rizzo's story unless you tuned in to NBC Nightly News on New Year's Day or scanned a piece by Politico about a week later. In the meantime, the airwaves and news columns have been filled to overflowing with horrific tales from consumers blaming Obamacare for huge premium increases, lost access to doctors and technical frustrations — many of these concerns false or the product of misunderstanding or unfamiliarity with the law.

"What killed the liberal radio star?" - Answer: Corporate Sponsor Boycott

This is a pretty good piece, but it does ignore the elephant in the room that corporate sponsors have often boycotted progressive media. A few years ago, a confidential ABC was disclosed that showed several sponsors specifically boycotting progressive shows. Conversely, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh get a significant amount of money from corporate sponsors and the 1 percent who are eager to support the spread of these viewpoints.


Next week, when WWRL 1600 AM flips its format from progressive talk to Spanish-language music and talk, New York will have no left-leaning commercial talk station for the first time in decades — an ironic development just as an unabashedly liberal mayor and City Council are set to take office.

It’s not as if liberal voices will vanish — noncommercial stations like WBAI and WNYC are still alive and kicking — but they can’t replace the local flavor and crackling energy of commercial radio, where shows move more quickly to accommodate the ads.

The changeover at WWRL comes as a personal blow: I was the morning drivetime host at the station from June 2008 through October 2010. Sad to say, the steady elimination of progressive radio from the airwaves is part of a nationwide crisis facing commercial radio.

In Los Angeles, the last remaining all-liberal talk station, KTLK, will do an about-face and start airing only conservative talkers on Jan. 1. Ditto for KNEW in San Francisco. Last November, progressive stations in Portland, Ore., and Seattle switched to all-sports formats.

The Search Is On for the GOP's Super-PAC Sugar Daddy

Gone are the days where you a million dollar contribution from George Soros was considered huge. Nowadays, if you score the support of a Koch Brother or Sheldon Adelson, you can have one donor singlehandedly make your campaign viable. They do not even have to contribute to you. They can just throw a hundred million in attack ads against Democrats generally.


The race for a 2016 super-PAC sugar daddy is on.

"If I were running, I would think: Who is likely to want to fund a super PAC?" said Roy Bailey, a Dallas Republican who served as national finance chairman of Rudy Giuliani's 2008 presidential run. "A lot of people are financially capable. But who likes to play the sport? And who would be able to do it? I'd be all over 'em."

The rise of super PACs has amplified and accelerated the quadrennial donor chase. Candidates now know a single billionaire can make or break their fortunes—as they saw in 2012, when mega-donors Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess propped up the candidacies of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

"You may want to just wear logos if you're running for president: 'sponsored by so-and-so.' I mean it's going to get to be like NASCAR where everybody should put logos on your suit," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who, of course, has a super PAC dedicated to reelecting him this year.

Obamacare ‘Bailout’ Actually Saves $8 Billion: CBO

Source: Yahoo Finance

Republicans filed out of a closed-door strategy session today without a final decision on how to approach the coming debate over raising the debt ceiling, according to The Washington Post. But a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office Tuesday morning may help make the decision for them.

Many congressional Republicans believe that they should not raise the nation’s borrowing limit unless President Obama agrees to give them something in return. Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline or a repeal of the so-called risk corridors in the Affordable Care Act are the two items topping their potential wish list. The CBO report might shift the balance between those options because it projects that the risk corridor program, which Republicans have insistently characterized as a bailout of the insurance industry, will probably generate a net profit for the federal government.

The risk corridors are a temporary measure to protect insurers from unexpectedly large losses in the first few years of the health care law’s implementation. Companies that incur costs from medical claims that are significantly higher than expected would be compensated by the government, and those with costs that are significantly below expectations would have to pay back part of that windfall, also to the government.

A joint analysis by the CBO and Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation found that in the coming years, the government will pay out an estimated $8 billion to insurers as part of the risk corridor program. That will be offset, however, by an estimated $16 billion paid back to the government by health insurers. The CBO had previously projected that the risk corridors would have no net impact on the budget.

Read more: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/obamacare-bailout-actually-saves-8-194100056.html

In addition to Republican lies about the ACA costing 2 million jobs, the so-called "bailout" talking point is also full of lies. The very same CBO report that Republicans cite note that the repeal of the risk corridor provisions that Republicans call a bailout would increase the deficit by $8 billion. Sadly, since Republicans would rather the ACA fail than help people, they probably see this as a good result. Increase misery for political effect sort of like a Christie created traffic jam.

Wall Street Journal: Okay, Obama Isn’t Hitler, But He’s Pretty Hitler-y

The fact that WSJ seriously attempts to defend Perkins' comparison of President Obama's attacks on income inequality with Adolph Hitler just underscores just how removed from the norm the one percent are.


Tom Perkins’s letter to The Wall Street Journal last week, in which he compared liberal attacks on the one percent to the Holocaust, was an anthropologically useful document that displayed the deranged persecution complex that afflicts large segments of America’s superrich in the Obama era. Lest you think Perkins is merely one slightly addled old man, who has slipped into a Howard Hughes–esque cosseted stupor, today the Journal devotes an editorial to defending him.

The Journal concedes that Perkins’s chosen metaphor may have gone a tad too far (“The comparison was unfortunate, yet provocative”). But, the Journal's editors argue, the fact that so many people disagreed with it proves the basic thrust of his argument: “The vituperation is making our friend's point about liberal intolerance — maybe better than he did.” Liberals are mocking wildly rich people who compare their plight to the victims of the Holocaust, and even if this mockery does not currently rise to the level of persecution of the Holocaust itself, really the spirit of the thing is about the same.

The editorial proceeds to defend its thesis by rattling off a list of terrible things that have happened to one percenters in the Obama era. The actual policy agenda that harms the rich — the restoration of Clinton-era tax rates for incomes over $400,000 a year, higher investment taxes to help fund Obamacare, regulation of Wall Street — is curiously absent from the list. Instead the Journal wanders through a farrago of partisan fever dreams.

* * *
The Journal’s editorial underscores that the widespread mockery of Perkins, far from piling on a bewildered plutocrat, actually understates the broader problem. Perkins’s letter provided a peek into the fantasy world of the right-wing one percent, in which fantasies of an incipient Hitler-esque terror are just slightly beyond the norm. The Journal editorial defines persecution of the one percent as the existence of public disagreement. Liberals are mocking Perkins, therefore Perkins is basically right. For Perkins to be wrong — for the rich to enjoy the level of deference the Journal deems appropriate — a billionaire could compare his plight to the victims of the Holocaust and nobody would make fun of him at all.

Why Do the Super-Rich Keep Comparing Obama to Hitler?

The amazing thing is the WSJ's demand that President Obama defend the rich and denounce any attacks on income inequality.


So don't kid yourself. Today, they're coming for Bentleys. Tomorrow, they'll come for Aston Martins. The time to speak out is now.

Others have. Buyout-king (and actual-billionaire) Steven Schwarzman has said that Obama's plan to tax the income of venture capitalists, hedge fund and private equity mangers like everybody else's, and not as capital gains, is like Hitler invading Poland. And hedge funder (another actual billionaire) Leon Cooperman has pointed out that you know who else came to power amidst an economic crisis. And no, he wasn't talking about Ronald Reagan.

* * *
Here's the scariest part for the 1 percent: Obama won't rein in the un-American class hatred he's unleashed. People didn't used to dislike the "rich." They used to want to be rich. But then Obama scapegoated Wall Street for the financial crisis it caused by calling bankers "fat cats"—and suddenly people were angry about the bailouts and being unemployed. It didn't make any sense. Now, Obama could have tried to explain it all, and at least one Wall Streeter asked him to:

The president had won plaudits for his speech on race during the last campaign, the guest noted. It was a soaring address that acknowledged white resentment and urged national unity. What if Obama gave a similarly healing speech about class and inequality? What if he urged an end to attacks on the rich?

Obama refused.

President Obama Has Issued Fewer Executive Orders Than Any President in Over 100 Years

The cable media has been blaring the right wing talking points about President Obama going wild with Executive Orders, but meanwhile in the real word, the fact is that he has issued few such orders:


With President Obama now contemplating up to nineteen executive orders to combat gun violence, conservatives have started to flip out in characteristic form. Kentucky senator Rand Paul has accused Obama of acting "like a king or a monarch." South Carolina congressman Jeff Duncan declared last week, "We live in a republic, not a dictatorship." Mike Huckabee proclaimed that the White House has "nothing but contempt for the Constitution" and seeks to "trump ... the checks and balances of power in which no branch could act unilaterally." Texas congressman Steve Stockman has already threatened impeachment.

Obviously, gun rights are a pretty sensitive issue for many people, but a little perspective is in order. First of all, President Obama has no intention of banning assault weapons, or any other kind of gun, through executive order. Instead, according to the Times, he's considering some pretty mundane tweaks that would seem to leave the "right to bear arms" fully intact:

Actions the president could take on his own are likely to include imposing new limits on guns imported from overseas, compelling federal agencies to improve sharing of mental health records and directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence, according to those briefed on the effort.

If it's the use of executive orders in particular that's getting critics all riled up, though, then it's worth noting that Obama has used this lever of presidential power less frequently than every other president in modern times.

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