Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bain Files: Tax Experts Find Shady, Possibly Illegal, Dealings In Documents Related To Romney's Bain Investments

Tax experts poring over leaked confidential documents from Boston-based Bain Capital in which Mitt Romney and his wife have invested millions of dollars have found the private equity firm used some head-shaking but perfectly legal tax-avoidance techniques as well as at least one that probably is outside the law. Bain manages $65 billion in assets.

Romney, who founded Bain in 1984 and remained with the firm until 1999 or 2001 or 2002, depending on whom you talk to, receives significant income from Bain as part of his retirement package. Some of the investments that are part of this package were created after he left the firm. His financial advisers have also invested additional money from his personal fortune, estimated at a quarter-billion dollars, in the Bain's highly complex instruments.

The 950 pages of documents were posted on line Thursday by the website They include audited financial statements, investor correspondence and other material that outsiders were not supposed to see. A Bain spokesman lamented their disclosure. The documents also contain some new details of Romney's investments. While some of Bain's investments are publicly known, others are not, and Romney has refused to discuss the underlying assets on his federally required public disclosure forms. Gawker did not say where or how it obtained the documents. It asked readers with expertise for help in decoding them.

One of those experts who stepped forward, according to the New York Times, is Victor Fleischer, a law professor at the University of Colorado. On his A Taxing Blog late Thursday, Fleischer wrote about the conversion of management fees into "carried interest" as a means of sharply reducing tax liabilities. That is something Romney did in at least one of the funds included in the documents, Bain Capital Fund VII. Romney has more than $1 million in Fund VII.

Private-equity firm managers get paid two ways, with fees and carried interest. The fees are what the firm charges companies it acquires for overhead, salaries and the like, usually two percent. These are taxed as regular income. When you make what these guys do, that's at the 35 percent rate. Carried interest, however, is taxed at the capital gains rate of 15 percent. So partners sometimes waive the fee, expecting to benefit from future profits. Fleischer:

There are many variations on the theme, but here’s how many deals worked: each year, before the annual management fee comes due, the fund manager waives the management fee in exchange for a priority allocation of future profits.  There is minimal economic risk involved; as long as the fund, at some point, has a profitable quarter, the managers get paid.  (If the managers don’t foresee any future profits, they won’t waive the fees, and they will take cash instead.)   In exchange for a minimal amount of economic risk, the tax benefit is enormous: the compensation is transformed from ordinary income (taxed at 35%) into capital gain (taxed at 15%).  Because the management fees for a large private equity fund can be ten or twenty million per year, the tax dodge can literally save millions in taxes every year. [...]

Unlike carried interest, which is unseemly but perfectly legal, Bain’s management fee conversions are not legal.  If challenged in court, Bain would lose. The Bain partners, in my opinion, misreported their income if they reported these converted fees as capital gain instead of ordinary income.

Bloomberg reported that "the documents also show how deeply embedded Bain has become in the offshore tax-haven world with funds organized in the Cayman Islands."

The entire purpose behind the offshore operations is to allow foreign investors to avoid paying taxes on profits produced by the companies Bain and other private-equity operations manage. During the 15 years Romney claims he was at Bain, the firm took $6.75 billion in return on $1.91 billion invested in some 150 companies, according to Thomson Reuters Corp.’s PeHUB.

A spokesman for the Romney campaign said the candidate and his wife have no control over where their assets are invested because they are held in a blind trust.

However, as Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post reported, if Bain "used improper tax-avoidance techniques, the Romneys would be required to amend their returns regardless of the blind nature of the investments."

That might include amendments because of another questionable technique:

[...] owning U.S. dividend-paying stocks in an offshore account and pretending, for accounting purposes, not to own the stock. Instead, the taxpayer tells the Internal Revenue Service that he owns a derivative product that is identical in every way to the stock—except it isn't the stock, so therefore no U.S. taxes are owed. It's called a "total return equity swap," because the buyer still gets the benefit—the "total return"—of owning the stock, or equity.

"This use of total return equity swaps, such as to avoid the U.S. dividend withholding tax, was very widespread for more than a decade, and may not be dead yet, although the IRS issued a shot-across-the-bow Notice concerning the practice in 2010," writes Daniel Shaviro, the Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation at New York University School of Law. "But taxpayers who engaged in it to avoid the dividend withholding tax were coming perilously close to committing tax fraud, in cases where the economic equivalence to direct ownership was too great."

As if there weren't enough reason to demand that Romney show us his tax returns, the Bain documents show the kinds of things that such disclosure might shed some light on. And these are, of course, just what one website has been able to get its hands on.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Aug 24, 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Know Nothings Gather In Tampa

When Jack Kennedy was president, he hosted a state dinner for all of the living Nobel Prize winners. His toast to the guests, one of the best ever uttered at such an event, proclaimed, "This is the greatest collection of intellect ever to dine under this roof at one time, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

Just the opposite could be said now of the Republican Party delegates racing to Tampa before "Isaac" blows into town.

When the GOP convention is gaveled to order, America will see the largest collection of anti-knowledge know-nothings to gather under one roof since Pope Urban VIII and his Inquisition minions met to condemn Galilei Galileo for writing that the earth revolved around the sun.

The platform that Republicans will endorse, and the Gekko-Galt - wait, I mean the Romney-Ryan ticket will campaign on, may well be the most regressive in American politics since before the Civil War. It doesn't like uppity women, anything backed by science, Moslems of any sort, immigrants, investigating right wing terrorists and hate groups, students, anyone poor, children, the elderly, people who aren't in perfect health, and working stiffs.

It is as if a new Age of Unreason has consumed a once noble political party. Truly disturbing is that at least 40-percent of Americans who vote in November actually agree with what passes for bold ideas in the party that started with Lincoln and was given a voice by Teddy Roosevelt.

Worst Platform Ever?

On one page after another, the Republican platform is breathtaking not just in denying everything from science to common sense but in its entire dismissal of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Its desire to prohibit any pregnancy terminations for any reason, even to save the life or health of the mother, or because a woman was victimized by rape or incest, doesn't mean the party likes anyone talking about it. The party wants Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin out of the race not because of his comment about "legitimate rape" but because Akin spoke publicly in favor of the party's position To the GOP, the issue isn't that Akin is an idiot with a Neanderthal view of women's rights; it is that he is alienating women voters in Missouri, endangering Republican chances to take back control of the Senate.

In other words, the GOP doesn't want anyone to know what it will do once it gets 51 Senate seats: Overturn the Affordable Care Act, denying health care to nearly 50-million Americans.

The GOP platform also denies science, including well-established facts such as evolution, climate change and – for all anyone knows – gravity, because Republicans do not understand what the word "theory" means in scientific circles. In particular, the Republican Party is in favor of teaching creationism even though it is nonsense. Denying evolution is a throwback to the Scopes monkey trial. Republican legislators in Kentucky are aghast that to pass the College Boards and SAT tests, the state's students need to know about evolution.

The know-nothings also want to block the Dept. of Homeland Security from investigating right wing hate groups, even though these kooks have spawned more acts of domestic terrorism in the US over the last decade than all of the Moslems on earth.

This fact – which the GOP isn't fond of because "facts" have a liberal bias – doesn't stop the party from worrying about finding a Moslem hiding under every bed in America, just waiting to leap out and impose Sharia law on unsuspecting yokels. The party is now a refuge for politicians indulging in hate speech, from Mitt Romney's dog whistle comments to Michelle Bachmann and Joe Walsh's outright odious bigotry. (LINK

Tell Your Kids

When the convention takes over prime time television, have your kids watch. They should know what happened if Republicans are elected this fall – from Romney on down the ticket – and understand why the country they inherit once they're adults is in such rough shape.

People will be denied health care. The elderly will be seen begging on the streets because Medicare was eliminated and Social Security was handed over to Wall St. Climate change will be raging in full tilt boogey with everything from massive storms and major coastal erosion to the decline of agriculture and the rise of diseases such as West Nile virus. The air will be a mess because of America's unchecked carbon emissions and the water undrinkable as a result of wholesale fracking. Government takeover by moneyed and corporate interests – often the same thing – means that tomorrow's adults have rights and liberty in name only.

Hopefully, enough people who watch the GOP convention will see it as, to use Churchill's phrase, America's gathering storm.

Originally posted to Charley James on Thu Aug 23, 2012

Friday Funnies: Todd Akin, Mitt Romney, Republicans- So Much Stupid, So Little Time Edition

   Most of you probably think that I'm one of those Liberal assholes by the way that I constantly bash the Republican Party. I can bash that sorry assed group all day long because I was once an actual breathing member of the Republican Party. I bailed out when the younger George Bush was nominated to run for President, and I am glad that I did. When the best that the GOP can offer is George Bush, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and now Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan, the party is in trouble.The Republican Party has been on a steady decline ever since and it will only get worse with no-nothing tag-al-longs such as the Tea Party and their stupid ideas.  That being said:

Jay Leno: "Akin announced that he is staying in the race. Is that a surprise? A guy who that so little about a woman's body doesn't know when it's time to pull out."

At a campaign stop in Ohio, a group of senior citizens greeted Republican Vice President nominee Paul Ryan and yelled 'Good luck!' It’s good to see the cast of 'The Expendables 2' is everywhere this week."

"Welcome to "The Tonight Show" — or as Comcast calls us, "The Expendables." As you may have heard, our parent company has downsized "The Tonight Show." We've consistently been number one in the ratings, and if you know anything about our network, NBC, that kind of thing is frowned upon. And more bad news. It turns out now we've been taken over by Bain Capital."

Paul Ryan just released his tax returns for the last two years, and it turns out he and his wife had a combined income of over $323,000 last year. To which Mitt Romney said, 'See, I do reach out to poor people."

Jimmy Fallon: "It’s National Senior Citizen’s Day, which is not to be confused with National Senior Citizen’s Week — the Republican Convention in Florida."

Copyright © 2012 Universal Press Syndicate

Cagle Cartoons

Copyright © 2012 Creators Syndicate

Cagle Cartoons


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Meg Whitman: Mitt's Protege Having A Rough Day (And Year) At Hewlett Packard

    By  cassandracarolina                                     Source

Back in May, we learned that

A day after Mitt Romney aligned himself with the toxic Donald Trump in Las Vegas, the presidential hopeful is campaigning in California today — with a CEO who just announced plans to lay off 27,000 people.

Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is a longtime friend and political ally of Romney, whose ties to her date back to their time at Bain & Co.

Meg Whitman is more than just a "longtime friend and political ally"; she's Mitt's protege. Her high-end fundraiser in California raised some eyebrows, as your intrepid diarist described at the time.

Hewlett Packard's back in the news today as their stock price is tanking, big time. The morning business journals are describing this as a "historic loss".

Bloomberg noted that

Almost a year into her tenure at the helm of the largest personal computer maker, Whitman is boosting investment in research and development and revamping the PC, printer and enterprise-services units. Hewlett-Packard, which will discuss its 2013 outlook at an analyst meeting in October, is under pressure from rivals such as Apple Inc. in computing devices and International Business Machines Corp. among corporate clients.

“HP seems to have lost share in all of the key enterprise segments,” Abhey Lamba, an analyst at Mizuho Securities USA Inc. in New York, wrote in a research note after the results.

Meg's nearly-a-year tenure at the helm of Hewlett Packard has brought few smiles to the faces of their shareholders. Here's the sad little chart of HPQ's stock performance for the past year:

HPQ 1 year

Lest you think that Meg is simply swept up on a sea of bad economics, here's the chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average over the same period of time:

DJIA 1 year

Ouch. That's going to be tough to explain. But don't worry. Like any halfway decent CEO, Meg has a plan:

Whitman is cutting 27,000 jobs over two years and plans to invest in areas including security, cloud computing and data- analysis software. She’s also dismantling the acquisitions of Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Palm Inc., which were made by Mark Hurd, who was CEO from 2005 to 2010.

Like any good corporate plan, Meg's scheme involves (1) throwing a bunch of people into the volcano and (2) undoing the efforts of one's predecessor. Where do you suppose that Meg learned these killer strategies? Follow along below the corporate death spiral for the rest of the story...

Meg Whitman's biography suggests that she was destined for success:

Confident and bright, Whitman didn't shy away from her intelligence, and in 1974 she graduated from high school after just three years. Whitman then enrolled at Princeton University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in economics. She then took on the MBA program at Harvard Business School, graduating in 1979.

Sometime, though, it's not what you know, but where you land in your journey to the top:

Whitman's job search eventually landed her at Bain & Company, a wildly successful business-consulting firm, where she worked with future Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

And the rest, as they say, is history. From Bain & Company, Meg went on to great things. It all started with meeting Mitt. As The Daily Beast described it in September of 2010, Mitt and Meg had that special chemistry right from the start:

Their relationship started in 1981 when Whitman went to work at the Romney co-founded management consulting firm, Bain & Co. She was a consultant and senior vice president and it was Romney who did the recruiting in those days. He actually interviewed her and it’s a story he likes to share when boasting about his former employee.

A campaign staffer for Romney and current Whitman aide recalls the story, “When he was interviewing Meg at Bain...they pride themselves on really putting the interviewee through a very difficult situation and making them rock back on their heels a little bit and Romney told this story ...when Meg came in...halfway through the interview he realized he was the one back on his heels and she was interviewing him.”

Meg did a great job wheeling and dealing at Bain & Company, enriching her mentor, Mitt Romney, and when she later ran for Governor of California, he supported her campaign with appearance, and in the favored mode of all Bainiacs, with large sums of

Back in the 1980s at Boston’s Bain & Co. business consulting firm, partner Mitt Romney mentored a promising young executive named Meg Whitman.

More than two decades later, when Whitman ran for governor of California, Romney and Bain gave her significant support.

Romney donated $25,900 – the maximum allowed by state law – and Bain executives pumped an additional $216,000 into Whitman’s losing campaign against Democrat Jerry Brown.

Now that the $500 Gucci loafer is on the other foot, Meg and other "Bain alumni" are returning the favor. Where the Bainiacs are concerned, money is the universal language of love, and nothing says devotion and gratitude like a six- or seven-figure check.

Still, you do have to wonder, what's Mitt thinking when his protege's business has become the poster child for massive layoffs? It doesn't look good, does it? Here's your wunderkind BFF, tossing 27,000 people into the volcano at the same time you're telling America that your private sector business experience qualifies you to lead the country out of a recession by creating millions of new jobs.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, Mitt. I know you're a busy guy what with all that Ryan-Akin-abortion stuff and a gathering storm headed for your convention in Tampa, so I've taken the liberty of drafting some suggestions on how you can get this Meg Whitman story off the front pages of the business section.

With your vast wealth, you might want to buy up some of that HPQ stock at this bargain-basement price. Or all of it. What the heck. Take them private. You and Meg have enough between you to do it, and that gets all those pesky Wall Street analysts off Hewlitt Packard's case. Then you can quietly carve up the company and sell it off to foreign investors.

Sure, there might be more job cuts, but really, they're more like job "transfers". Those HPQ people are always complaining about the cost of living in the Bay Area. There are plenty of nice countries in Asia and Latin America where the cost of living is much more reasonable.

Then again, since you're pressed for time (and since you don't really need any more scrutiny on your finances), you could do to Meg what you've done to your father and grandfather. Throw her under the bus. She's served her purpose, and now she's just an albatross around your neck. I'm sure women voters will understand. It's nothing personal... just business.

90 Million Voters Will Not Vote: 18 Reasons They Should, Part 2

By cwsmoke on Wednesday, August 22,2012    Original

    In my previous posting, 9 of the 18 reasons that you should get off of your ass and vote were covered. we complete this with the remaining 9 reasons to not let the Republican Party ( Romney/Ryan) and their Tea Party friends get in to the White House, the Senate, or the House.

10. The EPA will be disabled, removing carbon dioxide from its regulatory purview, effectively crippling the agency to regulate the root cause of global warming, and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts will be undone so that Romney and Ryan's big parasitic corporate contributors will get what they paid for to extract fossil fuels at the expense of everyone's health. The government, through the EPA has done numerous studies, reflecting the added health costs related to relaxing and/or eliminating the clean air and water restrictions which is probably the main reason that the big polluters (i.e. Koch Industries, one of the top ten polluters in the country) want to dismantle it.

11. Greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere will increase, not decrease, causing global warming to reach an irreversible tipping point. The Keystone X/L pipeline will be built, causing what leading climate scientist, James Hansen calls, 'game over' with regard to man's efforts to halt or ameliorate climate change due to the negative effects of developing, transporting, and refining the tar sands oil.

12. Wall Street 'too large to fail' banks will be completely deregulated (Dodd - Frank repealed - Glass - Stegall only a distant memory), opening the 'grand casino' to use investors' money (i.e. ultimately taxpayers money) for gambling on derivatives and other contrived investment instruments that will inevitably cause the economy to fail as it did in 2007-09.

13. Unemployment will increase by roughly 4.1 million Americans in the first two years that the Romney/Ryan budget is implemented, according to Ethan Pollack at The Economic Policy Institute. Romney's claim that his budget will provide 12 million new jobs and cut the unemployment rate to 6.2% have been labelled “a fantasy” and “a mathematical impossibility” by Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman and Ezra Klein (with similar comments regarding Paul Ryan's budget).

14. Social Security will be privatized, implementing David Koch's plan when he ran for Vice President in 1980 of which Willard Romney and Paul Ryan are major proponents (as was G.W. Bush in 2005), giving the Wall Street casino control of YOUR retirement savings. Hat tip to cc  ( previous link) for his excellent diary.

15. More minorities, poor people and undocumented immigrants will be locked up, as they currently are in many red states, using the phony war on drugs as a Republican rationalization to support their 'prisons for profit' agenda.

16. Groups like ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) will be reinvigorated, writing legislation without transparency, in secret, directly by corporations for corporations, circumventing the democratic, legislative process.

17. Everything that isn't nailed down (and many things that are) will be 'profitized/privatized.' What many people don't understand is that, in general, public work projects cost more and are of higher quality than private sector projects due to higher construction standards. So, when special interests 'privatize' public projects, they are buying 'on the cheap.' In Wisconsin, for example, the Koch brothers with Governor Walker's help are taking advantage of a bad economy to line their own pockets.

18. Voter suppression and new Jim Crow laws will be passed to keep minorities from voting and thereby 'threatening' white folks.

If even half of the 90 million recalcitrant voters simply vote, there will be an end to ALL this Republican BS. Your vote DOES count because the Republicans are counting on you not to vote. I have intentionally left off comparisons between the parties, focusing instead on Republican policies because I consider them the most aggregious (my personal bias). These are just a few of the negative consequences of electing Romney and Ryan.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

90M Registered Voters Will Not Vote: 18 Reasons They Should

   This is a long read so it will be presented in two parts. This first part will list the first 9 reasons that you should vote,

    By cwsmoke on Wednesday, August 22,2012    Original

There are 90 million registered voters, who are not going to vote in this November's national elections for one reason or another. Some are fed up with the current two party system. Some think that politics has become too dirty, and they don't want to be involved. Some say that all the candidates are the same, some say that their vote doesn't mean anything, and some think that politics doesn't concern or affect them. This diary is for all of you because your vote does count, and the political party that gains power in this, perhaps the most important election in your lifetimes, will influence YOUR life for decades to come. The list that I compiled demonstrates in detail exactly how each of your lives will be changed if the Republicans, and Willard Romney gain power.

But first a bit of background.

For those of you who think that politics doesn't matter in your lives I have one point to make. We all get old. There is currently no way around it. If you live in America, and you get old, there are two government programs that will affect your life in ways that you can't yet imagine, particularly if you are under 40, unless, of course, you have relatives who are getting old. The first program is Medicare, and this program is currently fiscally sound until 2024 thanks in large part to the recent passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). By implementing about $716 billion in cost savings (over a ten year period) and redistributing the money to cover free preventive care and to close the donut hole, where seniors paid premium prices out of pocket for their prescriptions, the Obama administration has extended the solvency of Medicare until the year 2024. Without the Affordable Care Act Medicare will be insolvent by 2016 during Romney's first term. Both political parties agree that Medicare needs to be 'strengthened', but the method of 'strengthening' the program is in dispute (quotes for 'strengthening' because the Republican idea of 'strengthening' is synonymous with 'destroying.').

The second large government program that will affect your lives is Social Security, a contract between the people and their government whereby you pay into your retirement account (with your employer matching your contribution), and the government guarantees that your retirement income is secure (with interest). Social Security is the most successful government program ever, and it does not contribute one penny to the national debt. In fact, the Social Security Trust Fund currently has a surplus of $2.7 trillion. The program just celebrated its 77th anniversary, and with very minor tweaking (raising the salary cap from $106,000 to $250,000) will be solvent for another 75 years.

When I was thirty years old, I simply knew that I would make so much money that Social Security wouldn't affect my life, one way or the other. Well, I did make a ton of money, and I also lost a ton of money. And guess what!?! That Social Security check every month like clockwork makes a much bigger difference than I ever thought it would. As for Medicare, I am extremely healthy. I eat super foods and avoid processed foods and refined sugar. I surf and mountain trail run every day, weather permitting, and the weather generally does cooperate here in sunny Hawaii. I haven't been sick one day since I began the alkaline diet six year ago (crosses fingers), so I haven't had to utilize my Medicare, yet. Social Security makes an automatic deduction each month to cover my Medicare insurance, so I am covered if I ever need it, and I know that I will at some point because I have watched my family age, some gracefully, some not. The point that I am making is that my healthcare is assured for the rest of my life without my doing anything except to (attempt to) stay healthy.

Which brings me to why your vote this November is the most important vote in your life...Republicans since Ronald Reagan have been pushing the country to the right, and now the party of Eisenhower serves the rich and powerful exclusively, leaving the poor and middle class to fend for themselves. That's their philosophy. They're proud of it. And this election cycle they are attempting to consolidate the impressive gains that they made under G.W. Bush, making America a corporatocracy, a functioning oligarchy, where the rich rule to the detriment of everyone else.

Disclaimer: Romney has said that he and Ryan agree nearly 100% on their respective budgets, but the Romney/Ryan budget intentionally lacks specifics, so I have extrapolated the findings of reputable, mostly non-partisan organizations to compose this list. If we wait for Romney to 'explain' or fill out the details of his budget plan, it will be November, and we, the voters will still be waiting...

Most of the time the damage done by Republicans isn't readily apparent, but this election is different. Republican policies will change your life dramatically. Your vote does count. Please use it, so that the following does NOT happen:

Some unpleasant things to contemplate if Romney/Ryan win in November:

1. If you are currently under 55, when you apply for Medicare, you will be given a voucher that will be insufficient to cover YOUR health insurance costs. YOUR out of pocket expenses for health insurance will cost up to an additional $6400 in your first year (as opposed to the roughly $1200 paid by current seniors). YOU will also be shopping for health insurance in the private insurance market each and every year until the year that you die. How many octagenarians (80 year olds) and older do you know who can handle everyday finances?

2. When the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is repealed, you will be subject to the whims and avarice of the health insurance industry when you encounter pre-existing conditions, lifetime coverage caps, and unwarranted price increases. Your children over 18 will no longer be covered on your health insurance. If you are currently on Medicare, the donut hole for prescription drugs will return, and your free preventive care (colonoscopies, mamograms, and annual checkups) will be discontinued, causing more expense for seniors already on Medicare. In addition, Federal Medicaid funds will be cut by 40% (or more), when the Romney/Ryan budget is enacted, curtailing care to the poor AND seniors, who are receiving hospice care. (MEDICARE DOES NOT PAY FOR NURSING HOME CARE, except as applied to your annual deductible.). Did you know that good nursing home care costs roughly $15,000 per month?

3. Roe v Wade will be overturned by an ultra-conservative Supreme Court, outlawing abortions and most likely also contraception because Romney/Ryan and the Republicans will continue moving our courts further to the right, and the current Republican controlled House has passed numerous bills to that effect. The religious right (an integral part of the Republican base) will emerge (with government sanction, wink, wink) to (attempt to) force their brand of pseudo-Christianity on the rest of us, including our military where they are already firmly entrenched. Our children's textbooks will be rewritten to revise history and demonize science, substituting creationism for Darwin's theory of evolution. (See the Texas textbook controversy where the religious right took over the school boards.) Also thanks to blue aardvark for this excellent diary further expanding our knowledge of the anti-abortion sentiment demonstrated by Paul Ryan and the 112th Congress.

4. The Supreme Court will almost assuredly become ultra-conservative for the forseeable future, inevitably granting corporations more rights (Citizens United v FEC) while they take away YOURS. (Did you know that on the political spectrum, there is Communism on the far left and fascism on the far right, where corporations become the government and run the show? - The definition of fascism.) Visualize a horizontal line with Communism at the far left and fascism at the far right. In the current political climate what we currently call liberal and progressive is at the center of the line, while Democrats and 'moderates' are right of center about one quarter of the way toward fascism. The current Republican Party leadership is right of center about three quarters of the way toward fascism with the radical fringe already well entrenched at the right end of the line in fascism. During the 1950s and 1960s, on a similar horizontal line Democrats, liberals and progressives were left of center about one quarter to one third toward Communism, moderates from both parties were at the center, and Republicans like Barry Goldwater were right of center about one quarter to one third toward fascism with the discredited ultra right wing John Birch Society at the far right end of the line, seeing Communist conspiracies behind every door while straddling fascism. With the current horizontal line today there is no balance. Everyone is either at the center or to the right of center. The American people rejected The John Birch Society in the sixties, partly because the last war against fascism was still visible in our rearview mirror, and partly because the J.B.S. were bat shit crazy, but now the J.B.S. is in charge of the Republican Party. Consider which direction the country will move if these people take control.

5. If you earn less than $200,000 annually, your Federal taxes will inevitably increase between $1000-2000 when the Romney/Ryan budget is implemented.

6. Corporate welfare (currently at $92 billion annually) will increase while the social safety net (currently at $59 billion annually) will be demolished to pay for the additional tax breaks for the rich. Food stamps that currently support 47 million Americans, federal aid to education, and food programs to feed poor children will be severely cut (if not eliminated altogether). Imagine what it would be like if government used tax revenue to benefit the people, not the corporations.

7.  There will be another war, probably in the Middle East and probably with Iran (because Romney's neocon foreign policy advisors like John Bolton, who was the U.N. Ambassador during the G.W. Bush administration, are pressing for action in support of Israel as this is being written).

8. The Defense Budget that is already larger than the next seventeen countries combined will be increased to support Defense Contractors and war profiteers like Halliburton and Xe.

9. You will commute and travel on crumbling highways and unsafe bridges because infrastructure expenditures have been cut to the bone so that millionaires and billionaires (like Romney, Ryan, members of Congress, and their billionaire 'dark money' contributors) can have more tax cuts.

Monday, August 20, 2012

With Ryan Pick, GOP Watches Congressional Hopes Go Up In Flames

August 13, 2012  By Deborah Montesano

Republicans have been pretty cocky about their chances of gaining control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives this election cycle–until Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, that is.

Republican strategists are speaking out about the danger posed by his pick, as long as they aren’t quoted by name. One anonymously told The Hill, “There are a lot races that are close to the line we’re not going to win now because they’re going to battle out who’s going to kill grandma first, ObamaCare or Paul Ryan’s budget. It could put the Senate out of reach. In the House, it puts a bunch of races in play that would have otherwise been safe.”

Democrats, however, aren’t shy about attaching their names to very similar predictions. Rep. Steve Israel of New York said, “Congressman Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are a match made in millionaires’ heaven, but they’ll be a nightmare for seniors who’ve earned their Medicare benefits.” The President also lost no time in stating his own perspective: “[Ryan's plan] would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health-care costs to seniors.”

How serious a problem is this for the GOP?  Polls consistently show that Americans are resistant to major cuts or alterations to Medicare, as well as to Social Security. If there are changes to be made, most want them as modest as possible. Republicans are now trying to reframe the proposals contained within the Ryan budget, which would drastically overhaul the programs. In introducing Ryan as his pick, Mitt Romney literally told the crowd, “We will preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security.”

But Democrats aren’t going to let them get away with that lie. When the GOP initially voted on Ryan’s budget, nonpartisan analyst Charlie Cook wrote, “From a political standpoint, Medicare reform is very dangerous territory. House Republicans are not just pushing the envelope–they are soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it.” Now’s the time for Democrats to flick the match out of GOP hands and let the public see how quickly their envelope bursts into flames.

God-fearing America? Not So Much

    A recent poll of an international audience by Gallop International says that the United States doesn’t make the top 10 of the largest religious populations.

   Gallop asked one question to 51,927 people in 57 countries:

    “ Irrespective of whether you attend a place of worship or not, would you say you are a religious person, not a religious person or a convinced atheist?”

    Worldwide results:

  59% of the world thinks of themselves as religious;

  23% say that they are not religious;

  13% think of themselves as convinced atheist, and 5% did not know or would not answer.

   The United States ranked only at 34th as a very religious country.

   60% think of themselves as religious compared to 73% in 2005;

   30% say they are not religious;

   5% say they are convinced atheist compared to only 1% in 2005;

   5% did not know or would not answer.

    ( The Godless and the God-fearing )

      Tampa Bay Times