11/04/2012 archive

The Lies of Neoliberalism; Governments Don’t Create Jobs or Economic Growth by NY Brit Expat

It may be my masochism, but I actually watched the Presidential debates. I also regularly watch the news over here in the UK. Cameron and his cronies constantly spout this argument that governments cannot create economic growth. During the Presidential debates, Mitt Romney even went a step further; he argued that governments cannot create employment. The Tory argument is a bit more sophisticated, but both arguments have their roots in the fantasies of neoliberal economics of which both the Tories and the Republicans have adopted in its most fundamental form; their arguments also tie into the perspective of reduction of the central government budgets along the lines demanded by the IMF and the introduction of austerity measures to ensure these results. Except, and this is a big exception, neither of these governments have been forced to do so by the IMF.

Given that these statements are not only historically inaccurate, but bordering on the patently absurd, it never ceases to amaze me that challenge from the mainstream media is not forthcoming. Even more so, during the debate, President Obama did not respond to the absurd statement by Romney; in fact, he also raised budget deficit reduction which essentially means cutting state employment and social services. The Labour Party does not disagree with the Tories; they only say that austerity must be done more slowly and Ed Balls (the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer) has said at the Labour Party conference that, if elected, they had no intension of reversing the austerity measures forced upon the British populace by the Con-Dem government.  Essentially, all of the mainstream parties are singing the same tune; honestly, different tonalities of the same argument do not change the fact that the underlying tune is the same.


To someone that is living in the real world, in other words, someone that actually heard about the New Deal, that knows the role of government in ensuring economic growth during the post-war period in Europe, who knows damn well that state (or public) sector workers exist and that the government’s purchase of goods and services from the private sector and investment in the private sector help to ensure economic growth it makes me wonder if they think that we are extremely stupid.  

Pragmatic Centrism

The Left Wing Case Against Obama and Obama’s Next Term

by Ian Welsh

2012 November 3

The key thing to realize is that Obama is the President who normalized Bush’s Republic.  He normalized routine civil liberties violations, normalized anti-immigrant raids, normalized the eternal war on terror, pushed executive power even further than Bush with a unilateral war against the wishes of Congress in Libya and by arrogating for himself the right to kill any American.  He made sure the rich not only stayed rich, in the face of a financial collapse which he could have used to break their power, but has increased inequality significantly.  The wealth and wages of ordinary Americans have dropped, the portion of the country’s income going to the wealthy has increased, and the US is well on its way to becoming a corrupt petro-state.  Nothing is more hilarious than Mayor Bloomberg endorsing Obama because of climate change, when Obama has quite deliberately overseen a huge increase in hydrocarbon production and openly embraces so-called “clean” coal.   Obama may agree that Global Warming exists, and Romney may pretend that it doesn’t, but the policies of the two are functionally identical and the money Obama spent on renewables was so horribly misspent as to do nothing but discredit the industry.

The argument for “who cares” is simple enough.  Yes, Romney will be worse than Obama in certain respects, but if Obama is not in charge, then the Democrats are far more likely to oppose both civil liberties absuses and efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare.

Let me tell you how Obama’s second term will play out.

1) He will appoint a milquetoast “liberal” to the Supremes.  You’ll keep the remains of Roe vs. Wade, but he’ll keep doing things like overruling Plan B as an over the counter medicatin, because he doesn’t really believe that girls impregnated by their fathers have a right to an abortion.  And every case that enshrines oligarchy, like Citizens United or HCR, will go for oligarchy (you aren’t stupid enough to think that Roberts switched his vote for any reasons other than to give insurance companies their bailout and gut Medicaid, I hope.)

2) The economy will struggle along till he gets his grand bargain, then it will absolutely crater.  You’ve got a couple years of lousy but not awful economy at most, use it, because years 3 and 4 are going to be awful.

3) He will make a Grand Bargain.  Winning by only a small margin of the popular vote will help with this.  The rich will pay slightly more, but most of the money will come from cutting Social Security, Medicare and other such programs.  The Republicans will give him just enough votes to pass it, so that it will be the Democrats who have gutted SS and Medicare.

4) The Republicans will nominate a right wing crazy in 2016.  He will stand a good chance of winning, because the Democrats, having cut SS and Medicare will now stand for nothing other than “fear the Supreme Court!”  In fact, the Republicans will run as the defenders of SS and Medicare.

Because the Republican Congress is now extremely far right wing, in fact reactionary, when they get their President, they will be able to do almost anything they want.  And all they will need is the House and 51 votes in the Senate, because they will not play stupid games about the filibuster, they’ll pass under reconciliation or just do it with 51 votes and tell everyone to go fuck themselves.  There will be no nonsense about super-majorities.  HCR will, at that point, be removed or gutted.  The court decision making Medicaid optional, however, will remain the law of the land.

Reelecting Obama does mean a better economy for the next couple years.  It does mean that people who can afford health care with mandated issue, and who must have it to make the bridge to Medicare, will get that.  It means nothing else.  It will gut the Democratic coalition, it will make a reactionary right wing president far more likely, it will kick the restructuring of the economy which is needed down the road further, making it more difficult when, or rather if, it ever occurs.  It will make the Grand Compromise, meaning SS and Medicare cuts, far more possible than if Romney were in power and Democrats were opposing the bill.  And yes, poor women will still be able, at least theoretically, to get abortions (upper middle class women are always able to get them, since they can travel.)

Rant of the Week: Bill Maher

Bill Maher: New Rules 11/2/2012

On This Day In History November 4

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

November 4 is the 308th day of the year (309th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 57 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1922, British archaeologist Howard Carter and his workmen discover a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt.

The British Egyptologist Howard Carter (employed by Lord Carnarvon) discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb (since designated KV62) in the Valley of the Kings on November 4, 1922, near the entrance to the tomb of Ramesses VI, thereby setting off a renewed interest in all things Egyptian in the modern world. Carter contacted his patron, and on November 26 that year, both men became the first people to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb in over 3000 years. After many weeks of careful excavation, on February 16, 1923, Carter opened the inner chamber and first saw the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun. All of this was conveyed to the public by H. V. Morton, the only journalist allowed on the scene.

The first step to the stairs was found on November 4, 1922. The following day saw the exposure of a complete staircase. The end of November saw access to the Antechamber and the discovery of the Annex, and then the Burial Chamber and Treasury.

On November 29, the tomb was officially opened, and the first announcement and press conference followed the next day. The first item was removed from the tomb on December 27.

February 16, 1923 saw the official opening of the Burial Chamber, and April 5 saw the death of Lord Carnarvon.

On February 12, 1924, the granite lid of the sarcophagus was raised In April, Carter argued with the Antiquities Service, and left the excavation for the United States.

In January 1925, Carter resumed activities in the tomb, and on October 13, he removed the cover of the first sarcophagus; on October 23, he removed the cover of the second sarcophagus; on October 28, the team removed the cover of the final sarcophagus and exposed the mummy; and on November 11, the examination of the remains of Tutankhamun started.

Work started in the Treasury on October 24, 1926, and between October 30 and December 15, 1927, the Annex was emptied and examined.

On November 10, 1930, eight years after the discovery, the last objects were finally removed from the tomb of the long lost Pharaoh.

What do you mean “We”?

Why is the left defending Obama?

Matt Stoller, Salon

Saturday, Nov 3, 2012 10:00 AM EDT

The 2012 election is next Tuesday. We face a choice between Barack Obama, a candidate whose Presidency we can examine and evaluate, and Mitt Romney, who is a dangerous cipher. My argument – made last week in “Progressive Case Against Obama“, is that progressives should evaluate these risks honestly, with a clear-headed analysis of Obama’s track record.This piece sparked a massive debate that has had both Obama loyalists and Republicans resort to outlandish name-calling, evidently as a result of their unwillingness or inability to address the issues raised.

It is remarkable to see the level to which Obama defenders have sunk. Let’s start with a basic problem – why is Obama in a tight race? Mitt Romney is more caricature than candidate, a horrifically cartoonish plutocrat whose campaign is staffed by people that allow secret tapings of obviously offensive statements. The Republican base finds Romney uninspiring, and Romney has been unable to provide one good reason to choose him except that he is not the incumbent. Yet, Barack Obama is in a dog fight with this clown. Why? It isn’t because a few critics are writing articles in places like Salon. The answer, if you look at the data, is that Barack Obama has been a terrible President and an enemy to progressives. Unemployment is high. American household income since the recovery started in 2009 has dropped 5%. Poverty has increased substantially. Home equity – the main store of wealth for the middle class – has dropped by $5-7 trillion, in contrast to the increase in financial asset values held by Obama’s friends and donors. And this was done explicitly through Obama’s policies.

Obama came into office with a massive mandate, overwhelming control of Congress, hundreds of billions of TARP money to play with, the ability to prosecute Wall Street executives and break their power, and the opportunity for a massive stimulus. Most importantly, the country was willing to follow – the public believed his calls for change. Yet, instead of restructuring the economy and doing obvious things like hardening infrastructure against global warming, he entrenched oligarchy. This was explicit. Obama broke a whole series of campaign promises that would have helped the middle class. These promises would have reduced household debt, raised the minimum wage, stopped outsourcing, and protected workers. He broke these promises for a reason – Barack Obama uses his power for what he believes in, and Barack Obama is a conservative technocrat. Obama sided with Wall Street. He probably made the foreclosure crisis worse with a series of programs designed to help banks but marketed to help homeowners. These were his policies, they reflected the views of his most valued advisors like Robert Rubin and his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Moreover, he’s proud of this record – the only mistake he cites in his first term is inadequately communicating how effective he has been, focusing too much on getting the policy right.

And the result is inequality in income gains that is higher than that under George W. Bush. Most of Obama’s defenders refuse to acknowledge Obama’s role in this policy mess. He deserves credit for the auto bailout, but when it comes to the bank bailouts, hey he’s just one man. What could we possibly expect? Yet, reelecting this man to a Presidency that is hamstrung by the system is the most important thing in the world. In other words, just as they’ve been arguing for years, Obama is both entirely powerless and utterly essential.

In other words, as Glen Ford put it, Obama is not necessarily the lesser of two evils, he may be the “more effective evil“. He puts the left to sleep (whether by defunding progressive groups or allowing the destruction of Occupy encampments), and the left is where the resistance to imperial tendencies currently resides. It is this problem, of how to organize large groups of people into a political force for justice, that should concern us. Otherwise, under Bush or Obama, inequality would continue to increase. And with this, I’d bring us to the argument I made about leverage points, most notably, that policy leverage is apparent during a crisis.

Consider that there is a crisis right now, in the Frankenstorm, Sandy. Parts of lower Manhattan are still without power, and much of the Eastern seaboard will never be the same. Late night comedians, NBC, and even Businessweek are jumping up and down and screaming that this catastrophic storm is a result of climate change. Yet, on Monday, no major environmental groups except Bill McKibben’s 350.org featured Sandy on its home page. These groups, from the Sierra Club to the Environmental Defense Fund – focused instead on the safety of chemicals, saving the Osprey, voting for Obama, or other such problems. As Brad Johnson noted, almost every left-wing journalist or advocate was equivocating as to whether climate change was the cause. This is the moment of leverage, when an organized advocacy space should have been arguing for a massive emergency mitigation and adaptation efforts. Tens of billions of dollars will flow into the Northeast, this money could be used for rebuilding unsustainable Con Ed, or for powering the New York with entirely renewable and robust energy. Instead, the right-wing, including Democrats like MSNBC contributor Ed Rendell, are working to undermine environmental, labor rules in the reconstruction while privatizing rebuilt infrastructure.

Progressives are obsessed with reelecting Obama instead of governing, so there is silence in response to a massive leverage point (except on CNBC, where the anchors are screaming for more refining capacity in response to Sandy). We the people need to protest and demand the solutions that might have a chance at saving our civilization from the many Sandy’s to come. Indeed, global warming fueled Hurricane Katrina killed 3000 people, and we did nothing except allow the privatization of the New Orleans school system. But as we see now, this is not just because of George Bush, it is because our theory of change, of looking to right-wing politicians entrenched in the Democratic Party as an answer, was an utter failure. It is the politics of self-delusion, and catastrophe. Voting third party is a way of indicating, to yourself and your community, that you will not be party to this game any more. Voting third party is a way of showing, to yourself and your community, that you consider Barack Obama an opponent, and that you oppose his policy. This is a profound admission, and it creates the space for real opposition, for real resistance.

Well, you know, so many of them have web infrastructure in New York and are experiencing service disruptions until after the election.

After 35,000 hours what’s a mere 170 or so between “friends?”

(h/t Naked Capitalism)

F1 2012: Yas Marina


Vettel thrown out of qualifying


11/4/12, 16:18

Stewards stripped the 25-year-old of third place on the grid after post-qualifying checks on Saturday showed there was an insufficient quantity of fuel in the car for sampling purposes.

Red Bull’s decision to start from the pitlane – rather than the back of the grid – means it will be able to make some changes to Vettel’s car’s set-up ahead of the race, and the driver himself remained positive.

So, what will this change?  Umm… virtually nothing.

It will be irony or divine justice to see Vettel race from the back, but he’s done that before and as Schumacher (who’s underqualified all season) has shown us what’s likely to happen is he’ll cut through the field until he gets to the Force India cars at least and probably all the way until he starts mixing it up with Lotus (who may have a new primary sponsor next season) and Mercedes.

Then it will will be a matter of how much car he’s used up, pits, and accidents/breakdowns as to whether he  finishes 6th or higher which is all he and Red Bull will need to continue their march of dominance.

Part of that is the track.  What idiot thinks that Monaco with its low speeds and complete lack of passing opportunities is a good model?  The answer to that question is Hermann Tilke who’s designed or re-designed 15 of the 20 current tracks and made them uniformly boring and slow.

Even notorious safety Nazi Jackie Stewart hates him.

But Bernie and Hermann don’t really care about racing per se, it’s all about the bottom line which is not filling infield with ordinary Red Barrel-swilling football hooligan red necks.

I’m fed up with being treated like sheep. What’s the point of going abroad if you’re just another tourist carted around in buses surrounded by sweaty mindless oafs from Kettering and Coventry in their cloth caps and their cardigans and their transistor radios and their Sunday Mirrors, complaining about the tea – “Oh they don’t make it properly here, do they, not like at home” – and stopping at Majorcan bodegas selling fish and chips and Watney’s Red Barrel and calamaris and two veg and sitting in their cotton frocks squirting Timothy White’s suncream all over their puffy raw swollen purulent flesh ‘cos they ‘overdid it on the first day.’ and being herded into endless Hotel Miramars and Bellvueses and Continentals with their modern international luxury roomettes and draught Red Barrel and swimming pools full of fat German businessmen pretending they’re acrobats forming pyramids and frightening the children and barging into queues and if you’re not at your table spot on seven you miss the bowl of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, the first item on the menu of International Cuisine, and every Thursday night the hotel has a bloody cabaret in the bar, featuring a tiny emaciated dago with nine-inch hips and some bloated fat tart with her hair brylcreemed down and a big arse presenting Flamenco for Foreigners and then some adenoidal typists from Birmingham with flabby white legs and diarrhoea trying to pick up hairy bandy-legged wop waiters called Manuel and once a week there’s an excursion to the local Roman Ruins to buy cherryade and melted ice cream and bleeding Watney’s Red Barrel and one evening you visit the so called typical restaurant with local colour and atmosphere and you sit next to a party from Rhyl who keep singing ‘Torremolinos, torremolinos’ and complaining about the food – “It’s so greasy here, isn’t it?” – and you get cornered by some drunken greengrocer from Luton with an Instamatic camera and Dr. Scholl sandals and last Tuesday’s Daily Express and he drones on and on and on about how Mr. Smith should be running this country and how many languages Enoch Powell can speak and then he throws up over the Cuba Libres and sending tinted postcards of places they don’t realise they haven’t even visited to “All at number 22, weather wonderful, our room is marked with an ‘X’. Food very greasy but we’ve found a charming little local place hidden away in the back streets where they serve Watney’s Red Barrel and cheese and onion crisps and the accordionist plays ‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner’.”

No sirree.  It’s all about fat greasy .001 percenters taking their clients to an air-conditioned suite where they can watch any kind of satellite TV they want as long as it’s not that god-awful screaming race outside and mix with coked up semi-celebrities and D-Listers who now ply their fading fame as high priced whores while discretely vomiting bulemic Chardonnay and indifferently prepared crudites soaked in curdled sour cream that may once have been placed next to a jar labeled caviar but which was really salmon roe on the peons and serfs below while they scam their next Pozi scheme on a bunch of brown rag heads who’ve accidentally been born with money and try to ignore the stone faced ‘personal security experts’ with automatic weapons who escort them back and forth to the hotel through the rabble so they don’t suffer a puncture on their armored SUV from inconvenient bone fragments or IEDs.

Singing ‘Torremolinos, torremolinos.’

Not Just a Race for the Rich: Welcome to the F1 FanZone

By BRAD SPURGEON, The New York Times

November 3, 2012, 7:00 pm

The two elements of the FanZone that really fired my excitement were the activities themselves and the business model. The business model is, in a word, brilliant.

“A lot of the people in this part of the world cannot afford to buy tickets for the race, especially for a family,” said Boutagy in an interview. (Tickets for good seats can run 400 euros, or more than $500, though some venues, like the Canadian Grand Prix, are cheaper.) “It all started with the fact that people here weren’t really educated in Formula One. Now people know what it is.

“It is really a family oriented event, and it’s all free,” he said of the FanZone. “Any other sport has this: FIFA Fan Fest, NFL, NHL.”

Indeed. For a sport that is often criticized as elite, costly, not for the average family’s enjoyment – and not fan-friendly – the F1 FanZone operates entirely on sponsorship. The gates are open to anyone, and all the attractions are free. Boutagy’s company consists only of four people, and when he runs an event, he hires local staff – more than 30 of them – to run the rides and deal with the public. He makes his money and runs the event entirely with money from Formula One sponsors, such as Pirelli Tires or Vodafone, and with local sponsors.

People are not really educated in Formula One.  There’s so much to learn and it’s all so complicated.

Welcome to the United States.  We’re exceptional.

Interactive Tracks

Yas Marina

Official Sites

Pretty tables soon.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Joining Chris are Sasha Issenberg (@sissenberg), author of “The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns,” Slate.com columnist and Washington correspondent for Monocle; Evan Wolfson (@evanwolfson), founder and president of Freedom to Marry; Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFERChoice.org; Kim Barker (@Kim_Barker), reporter for ProPublica.org; Katrina vanden Heuvel (@katrinanation), editor and publisher of The Nation magazine; Joy Reid (@TheReidReport), MSNBC contributor, managing editor of TheGrio.com; Josh Barro (@jbarro), Bloomberg View columnist; Bob Herbert (@BobHerbert), Demos.org distinguished senior fellow; and Suman Raghunathan, director of policy and strategic partnerships for the non-partisan Progressive States Network.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: This Sunday’s guests are White House senior adviser David Plouffe and Romney campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie.

The roundtable gives its final take before Election Day, including their own election predictions, with ABC News’ George Will, Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, and Ronald Brownstein of National Journal.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Two panels will break down what to expect from the campaigns over the next three days. On the first panel roundtable gives its final take before Election Day, including their own election predictions, with ABC News’ George Will, Cokie Roberts, Donna Brazile, Matthew Dowd, and Ronald Brownstein of National Journal.

Then on the second panel guests Anna Greenberg, Leslie Sanchez, Stuart Rothenberg, Larry Sabato, and Anthony Salvanto take a look at the numbers behind a 2012 victory.

The Chris Matthews Show: This Week’s Guests

Gloria Borger, CNN Senior Political Analyst; John Heilemann, New York Magazine

National Political Correspondent; Howard Fineman, The Huffington Post Senior Political Editor and Joy Reid The Grio/ MSNBC

Meet the Press with David Gregory: On MTP this Sunday are  White House Senior Adviser and architect of President Obama’s 2008 campaign, David Plouffe and House Majority Leader and representative from key battleground state Virginia, Rep. Eric Cantor (R).

The roundtable guests are  Mayor Cory Booker(D-Newark); MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough; GOP strategist Mike Murphy; TODAY co-host Savannah Guthrie; and NBC Special Correspondent, Tom Brokaw.  

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests are former White House Chief of Staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the key Romney adviser, Ohio Senator Rob Portman.

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, and PBS’ Gwen Ifill join in discussing the presidential campaign and the down ballot races

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Close Army Ties of China’s New Leader Could Test the U.S.


On one of his many visits abroad in recent years, Xi Jinping, the presumptive new leader of China, met in 2009 with local Chinese residents in Mexico City, where in a relaxed atmosphere he indirectly criticized the United States.

“There are a few foreigners, with full bellies, who have nothing better to do than try to point fingers at our country,” Mr. Xi said, according to a tape broadcast on Hong Kong television.  “China does not export revolution, hunger, poverty nor does China cause you any headaches. Just what else do you want?”

Mr. Xi is set to be elevated to the top post of the Chinese Communist Party at the 18th Party Congress scheduled to begin here on Nov. 8 – only two days after the American election. He will take the helm of a more confident China than the United States has ever known.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Fears grow over pace of reform as China ushers in new leaders

Steering EU-Asian ties through the debt crisis

Mediators to push Mali Islamists to cut al-Qaeda ties

Zetas cartel occupies Mexico state of Coahuila

How tourism cursed tomb of King Tut

What We Now Know

Up with Chris Hayes host, Chris Hayes (@chrishayes) discusses what we have learned this week with his guests John Nichols (@NicholsUprising), Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine, associate editor of The Capital Times (Madison, WI); Michael Moynihan (@mcmoynihan), cultural news editor for Newsweek and The Daily Beast; Betsey Stevenson (@BetseyStevenson), columnist for Bloomberg View, assistant professor of business and public policy at The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and former chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor (2010-2011); and Esther Armah (@estherarmah), host of WBAI-FM’s “Wake Up Call.”

Bro: House candidate Bentivolio ‘mentally unbalanced’

by Kate Nocera at Politico

The brother of Kerry Bentivolio says the Michigan congressional candidate, who’s favored to win on Tuesday, is “mentally unbalanced” and could end up in jail.

“I’ve never met anyone in my life who is conniving and dishonest as this guy,” Phillip Bentivolio said, according to the Michigan Information and Research Service   (subscription required). “He’s my brother so it’s hard to talk about this, but I believe that if he gets elected, he’ll eventually serve time in prison.” [..]

Kerry Bentivolio is a Santa Claus impersonator and reindeer farmer. He made headlines after old court documents surfaced quoting him saying he had a “problem figuring out which one I really am, Santa Claus or Kerry Bentivolio.”  He’s running against Democrat Syad Taj.

Democrats Press Rivals to Give Source of Akin Ad Funds

by Kathleen Hunter and Greg Giroux at Bloomberg Businessweek

The Republican campaign committee announced it wouldn’t spend money to support Akin after he said Aug. 19 that “legitimate rape” rarely results in pregnancy. Akin is trying to defeat first-term Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, and Republican leaders abandoned his campaign after his remark about rape. [..]

The source of the funds hasn’t been disclosed. NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh declined to comment on whether the national Republican campaign organization provided money to the state party to help pay for the ads. Akin on the same day spent $300,000 of his campaign money on new ads.

The Artwork That Infuriated Big Coal

by Michelle Nijhuis at Slate

Carbon Sink: What Goes Around Comes Around” was installed on the U.W. campus in late 2011. Funded by an anonymous donor and by the state Cultural Trust Fund, it consisted of a 36-foot-wide circle of logs from beetle-killed trees, arranged in a whirlpool pattern around a pile of coal. Drury hoped the sculpture would be left in place until it disintegrated, and the director of the campus art museum said there were “no plans to uninstall it.” It was, Drury said, intended to inspire a conversation.

In May 2012, however, just after most students left campus, Carbon Sink quietly disappeared.

When University of Wyoming graduate Joe Riis inquired about the fate of Carbon Sink, a university vice-president told him that it had been removed due to water damage. But emails recently obtained by Irina Zhorov, an enterprising reporter at Wyoming Public Media, tell a different story. After the university announced the installation of Carbon Sink, Marion Loomis, the president of the Wyoming Mining Association, wrote to a university official and asked: “What kind of crap is this?” Both industry representatives and state legislators weighed in on the sculpture, some threatening the university’s funding in no uncertain terms.

Damn Those Stinking Facts

The Report the GOP doesn’t want to be seen: “All the hues of a banana republic”

The Congressional Research Service has withdrawn an economic report that found no correlation between top tax rates and economic growth, a central tenet of conservative economic theory, after Senate Republicans raised concerns about the paper’s findings and wording.

The decision, made in late September against the advice of the agency’s economic team leadership, drew almost no notice at the time. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, cited the study a week and a half after it was withdrawn in a speech on tax policy at the National Press Club.

But it could actually draw new attention to the report, which questions the premise that lowering the top marginal tax rate stimulates economic growth and job creation.

“This has hues of a banana republic,” Mr. Schumer said. “They didn’t like a report, and instead of rebutting it, they had them take it down.”

The GOP was upset that the report confirmed what most of us already know: Tax cuts for the wealthy have no effect on the economy and don’t create jobs. But, hey if you don’t like the facts them bury them. Writing at The Maddow Blog, Steve Benen explained that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted the report be withdrawn because people outside of Congress concerns about the report. Those concerns were raised by conservatives from think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation who oppose tax increases on the one percent.

It’s important to understand that the Congressional Research Service, generally recognized as Congress’ own think tank, has a well-deserved reputation for non-partisanship. The CRS is counted on to provide lawmakers with the most reliable and accurate information available, and the notion that partisan lawmakers can pressure, censor, and possibly even intimidate independent researchers is simply unacceptable.

In other words, we just can’t have public offices’ scholarship being stifled because Republicans find reality politically inconvenient. Our system of government isn’t supposed to work this way.

Nor as Benen continues is the first time a report has been stifled by Republicans because it was politically inconvenient and didn’t fit their policy agenda.

This was consistently one of the more offensive hallmarks of the Bush/Cheney era. In 2005, for example, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism. Reality proved problematic, so rather than addressing the problem, the Republican administration decided to hide the reality.

Soon after, the Bush administration was discouraged by data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings.

When Bush’s Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.

The Bush administration worked from a strange assumption: if we get rid of the data pointing to a problem, maybe the problem won’t look so bad. It redefined ridiculous governing, but it seemed to make Republicans feel better to bury their heads in the sand. If a report tells you something you don’t want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report.

“If a report tells you something you don’t want to hear, the obvious move is to get rid of the report”, yeah, that works.

Taxes and the Economy: An Economic Analysis of the Top Tax Rates since 1945

CRS Report: Top Tax Rates

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