Our dying Empire

Welcome to the Asylum | Chris Hedges – On the endemic political cynicism of dying empire:

When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet. Politicians, including presidents, appear on late night comedy shows to do gags and they campaign on issues such as creating a moon colony. “[A]t times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death. It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum.

Read the whole thing →

Political contributions to the death of our Empire: The “PRO-LIFE” Ryan-Republican-Romney budget proposal:

The House budget for fiscal year 2013 tasks congressional committees to “reduce lower-priority spending” to avert military cuts.

When they say “lower-priority spending”, they mean spending on programs that nourish children and provide safety netslike foster care or child abuse prevention.

Source: americanprogress.org

The Republican idea that the rich don’t have enough

JAMELLE BOUIE WRITES that Liberals can’t be complacent about the GOP’s embrace of the Ryan budget: The Only Reasonable Response Is Alarm. Here’s a longish snip:

The Ryan budget does a lot of things. It flattens the tax code and dramatically cuts taxes for high-income earners. It caps federal spending at 20 percent of gross domestic product, and it calls for higher military spending. It turns Medicaid into a block grant for the states, and gradually shifts Medicare to a private insurance plan.

Here’s what we know about these ideas. Over the next ten years, Ryan’s tax plan would cost the federal government $4.6 trillion in revenue on top of the $5 trillion it costs to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts. Ryan, in other words, would engineer an unprecedented financial windfall for the wealthiest Americans. Everyone else would have to pay for it.

His Medicaid plan would cut the program by $800 billion over the same period, and cause 14 million people (at least) to lose their health care coverage. His budget would cut food stamps by $133 billion over the next decade, and cut the Pell Grant program to nonexistence. Non-defense discretionary spending would all but vanish. Veterans’ health care, medical and scientific research, highways, education, national parks, food safety, clean air and clean water enforcement, and law enforcement would be on the chopping block, along with funds for low-income housing and other programs to assist the working poor.

This is neither compassionate nor an attempt at achieving “the ends of the welfare state through more private means and more efficient public means”—it’s a whole scale attack on the idea of social responsibility. Paul Ryan doesn’t call for new charity, and he doesn’t even attempt to provide incentives for these newly enriched rich people to give away their money. It’s simply Robin Hood in reverse; taking from everyone to give the most privileged. The methods might be new, but the idea—that the strongest, most powerful people deserve the spoils of civilization—is as old as human history. Paul Ryan is but one in a long line of people who have worked to enrich the wealthy at all costs.

This is the budget which Ryan claimed would be endorsed by the Pope.

Related: 

Truly John Boehner exemplifies the dignity, wisdom, and mental health of his Party


John Boehner Cries While Listening To Traditional Irish Music During St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon — Via Huffington Post

Steve Benen points out John Boehner’s response last Thursday to a question about President Obama’s reaction to budget negotiations:

Q: Last week the acting OMB director sent a letter to Congressional appropriators saying that basically the top line agreed to in the Budget Control Act, that the President would veto it if it’s not met.

BOEHNER: Blah blah blah blah blah, alright, so?

Q: Is that an official response?

BOEHNER: Yes.

The Speaker is breaking his word, he’s being called on it, and he doesn’t care.

Incidentally, in the exact same press briefing, Boehner complained that Obama’s efforts on student loan interest rates are beneath “the dignity” of the presidency.

No word yet on whether the Speaker believes “Blah blah blah blah blah” is beneath “the dignity” of his office.

Speaker of the House, ladies and gentlemen. Here’s a clip:


It’s as if the Ryan / Republican budget wasn’t a completely serious threat to 99% of Americans and a government shutdown the last thing any of us really wants.

When Jesus said “Go Galt!” and then changed His mind: Paul Ryan’s impressive flip flop

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the House budget committee, was scheduled yesterday to speak at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution. 90 faculty members and administrators sent him a letter about his budget:

“I am afraid that Chairman Ryan’s budget reflects the values of his favorite philosopher Ayn Rand rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Father Thomas Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown, in a press release Tuesday. “Survival of the fittest may be okay for Social Darwinists but not for followers of the gospel of compassion and love.”

The complaints seemed to resonate with Ryan. On Thursday, he went on record denouncing Ayn Rand, who believed altruism is evil, brushing off his well-documented obsession with her as a teenage romance.

Continue…

Did Paul Ryan JUST NOW discover Ayn Rand was an atheist – and a hateful, selfish, hypocritical one at that? Or did he just now discover what Jesus actually taught? Apparently so. This week, Paul Ryan’s did a big ol’ flip flop on his well-known, well-documented hero worship of Rand, as Catholic organizations, educators, and leaders started calling bullshit on Ryan for claiming to be a Christian AND a huge fan of Ayn Rand.

As one example, here’s what he said in 2005:

The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

Ryan also said

“…that virtually every national struggle our society faces can be boiled down to the Randian binary, “Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill … is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict–individualism versus collectivism.”

But here’s what he said THIS WEEK:

I reject her philosophy,” Ryan says firmly. “It’s an atheist philosophy. It reduces human interactions down to mere contracts and it is antithetical to my worldview. If somebody is going to try to paste a person’s view on epistemology to me, then give me Thomas Aquinas,” who believed that man needs divine help in the pursuit of knowledge. “Don’t give me Ayn Rand,” he says.

Say hello to the new and improved Paul Ryan! Ayn Rand isn’t politically expedient this week, so no more conflict of interest.

Note also that many tea partiers and rightwing bloggers, who would call themselves religious people, worship at the feet of Ayn Rand and Objectivism for political purposes.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the most xenophobic, mindlessly hateful bloggers for the right has named her site after Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged.”

So will Paul Ryan’s sudden philosophical conversion change his perspective with regard to his budget proposal? Not at all. He told a Christian tv show that his budget was practically endorsed by the Pope himself, who is down on debt:

James Salt, the executive director of Catholics United, which organized one of the protests outside the hall where Ryan was speaking, told gathered reporters that his group was there because “the dignity of the poor should be at the forefront of our minds.” Taking a dig at Ryan’s attempts to cast his budget as a boon for poor people, Salt noted, “If Paul Ryan knew what poverty was, he wouldn’t be giving this speech.” 

Important reminder for the patriots

Austerity cuts for all of us will help pay for more tax cuts for the wealthy.

Do your part — vote Republican!

Morning Bunker Report: Wednesday 4.4.2012

THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS

A rousing rejection of Republican radicalism – This was, as advertised, an aggressive, unapologetic condemnation of the Paul Ryan/Mitt Romney budget agenda, and the ideology that led to its creation. Indeed, Obama practically mocked Republicans for having tested their trickle-down philosophy, failing spectacularly, and then becoming even more right wing as a consequence. “[Y]ou would think that after the results of this experiment in trickle-down economics, after the results were made painfully clear, that the proponents of this theory might show some humility, might moderate their views a bit. You’d think they’d say, you know what, maybe some rules and regulations are necessary to protect the economy and prevent people from being taken advantage of by insurance companies or credit card companies or mortgage lenders. Maybe, just maybe, at a time of growing debt and widening inequality, we should hold off on giving the wealthiest Americans another round of big tax cuts. Maybe when we know that most of today’s middle-class jobs require more than a high school degree, we shouldn’t gut education, or lay off thousands of teachers, or raise interest rates on college loans, or take away people’s financial aid. “But that’s exactly the opposite of what they’ve done. Instead of moderating their views even slightly, the Republicans running Congress right now have doubled down, and proposed a budget so far to the right it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal…” [...] Republican leaders issued some press releases, complaining that the president’s remarks were “tired” and “partisan.” None, however, could point to anything Obama got wrong in this speech. Watch video (full transcript here):

“I think he watches Mad Men and thinks it’s the evening news. He’s in a time warp.” – David Axelrod, interviewed on CBS This Morning, on Mitt Romney’s advocacy of “failed” economic policies of the past. (via)

Debbie Wasserman Schultz – 10 Powerful Women in DC | ELLE Magazine – She’s often seen on TV explaining why Democratic values like reproductive freedom and affordable health care matter, or she’s in front of the cameras fighting back, unflapped, when Republicans disagree. “After 20 years in office, I have the skin of an alligator,” she says. A breast-cancer survivor, she had seven surgeries in a year, including a double mastectomy, all scheduled during congressional breaks so she could keep her illness private until it was behind her. Last year she was tapped by President Obama to chair the Democratic National Committee. “It enables me to champion the things my constituents care about on a much bigger stage,” she says. Her contagiously tearful reading of the resignation letter of her best friend, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, on the House floor in January indicated the deep feeling beneath her alligator skin.

THE SHORT BUS: AKA THE REPUBLICAN (TEA)PARTY

According to the AP’s delegate count, Romney is still only about a halfway to clinching the 1,144 delegates needed to win the nomination.

Analysis: Romney’s focus shifts to fall fight — After his decisive victories in the Maryland, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia primaries, Romney fired back Tuesday night in a speech that didn’t mention any of his Republican rivals. “(Y)ears of flying around on Air Force One, surrounded by an adoring staff of true believers telling you what a great job you are doing — well, that might be enough to make you a little out of touch,” Romney said. || SAID THE QUARTER-BILLIONAIRE who owns a home in almost every state in our union, whose wife drives several Cadillacs, and who considers corporations to be people, isn’t concerned about the very poor, considers himself also  ‘unemployed’, tries to make $10,000 bets with people, and who likes to be able to ‘fire people.’ Excellent observation on what constitutes being ‘out of touch’, Mr. Ironic.

How Romney Begins to Answer the Religion Question — The simple fact is that a substantial portion of the people to whom he’s been pitching himself thinks his religion is not a long step removed from Scientology and the Church Of What’s Happening Now. He can’t get around that. And, it should be noted, Romney was more than merely an adherent to the doctrines of Mormonism. He was the functional equivalent of a Cardinal Archbishop of his church in Massachusetts. And the people with the doubts about him know that and, while many of them might actually sort of, like — shh! — agree that that whole interracial marriage thing might have been a pretty good idea, they’re still not sold on him as their idea of a Christian. And Romney’s problem is entirely within his own party. It is beyond unthinkable that the president and his campaign would play this card. The president’s not built that way, and there are no votes that the Democrats can gain from an attack like that. Which means that Romney’s got to thread a needle with the people he needs the most, and he has to keep doing it for the rest of the electoral year. Which means that he’s got to waste energy on an issue that does not confront his opposition in anything like the same way. The mechanism needs constant tinkering.

Still wondering if Fox “News” might be a legitimate news organization? WONDER NO MORE: Fox Senior VP: Fox Anchor Knows Obama Conspiracy Tweets Were “A Mistake”  — Heather Childers, a “straight news” anchor for the Fox News weekend program America’s News Headquarters and co-host of Fox & Friends First, tweeted this afternoon: “Thoughts? Did Obama Campaign Threaten Chelsea Clinton’s Life 2 Keep Parents Silent?” and linked to a blog post pushing a conspiracy involving the Obama campaign murdering, or threatening to murder, individuals to keep quiet questions about Obama’s eligibility.

THIS WOULD BE LIKE A CNN ANCHOR tweeting for “thoughts” on Bush/Cheney’s involvement in the planning and execution of 9/11. Except that imaginary tweet would actually be MORE legitimate than Childers’. — utmb

Arrest In Planned Parenthood Wisconsin Bombing– The man arrested in connection with the weekend bombing of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin is 50-year-old Francis Gerald Grady, a police official confirmed to TPM. Grand Chute, Wis., Police Chief Greg Peterson confirmed the man’s name after TPM tracked down information through the local jail. Peterson said it’s still too soon to know whether the man, who was arrested on a probation violation on Monday night, is the same person who bombed the clinic. However, Peterson said “there’s a strong link” between the man and the bombing, based on the information investigators have been able to establish so far. || Suspect Charged With 2 Federal Crimes In Wisconsin Planned Parenthood Bombing

It’s all fun and games until an unexpected firecracker goes off, someone screams, and it turns into the conclusion of a Tarantino film – Be advised if you plan on attending the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida this summer. You can’t bring your water gun to the designated protest zones, but your concealed pistol? That’s just fine, according to an article in the Tampa Bay Times.

So Grandpa and his big potty chair might have to move back in with you and your family…

Hey! at least the wealthy will get more money.

What Happens to Current Nursing Home Residents if the House Budget Resolution Becomes Law? – Under the proposed budget resolution passed by Republicans in the House of Representatives, nearly a million nursing home residents could immediately lose coverage for nursing home care. Further, all of the standards that govern nursing home care today could disappear.

I mean, if you’re Republican, this the way you want things. Right?

The psychological pathology of the Republican base

When the Ryan plan robs from the poor to give to the richwithout concealment and without apology — and when poor, working, and middle class conservatives support it anyway, what can you call it but chronic Obama Derangement Syndrome? Stockholm Syndrome? Unforgivably stupid?

Ryan’s Budget: tax cuts for the wealthy, austerity for the rest of us

Chairman Ryan’s budget proposes $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts (and about $200 billion in defense increases).  The $5.3 trillion in cuts includes $1.2 trillion in cuts to nondefense discretionary programs; this $1.2 trillion in cuts is beyond the cuts needed to comply with the strict funding caps that the Budget Control Act established.  Several hundred billion dollars of these additional cuts would very likely come from low-income programs.

Paul Krugman calls it fraudulent.

Pink Slime Economics and the Most Fraudulent Budget in US History

[...] And when I say fraudulent, I mean just that. The trouble with the budget devised by Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, isn’t just its almost inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid to the needy. Even aside from all that, the Ryan budget purports to reduce the deficit — but the alleged deficit reduction depends on the completely unsupported assertion that trillions of dollars in revenue can be found by closing tax loopholes.

And we’re talking about a lot of loophole-closing. As Howard Gleckman of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out, to make his numbers work Mr. Ryan would, by 2022, have to close enough loopholes to yield an extra $700 billion in revenue every year. That’s a lot of money, even in an economy as big as ours. So which specific loopholes has Mr. Ryan, who issued a 98-page manifesto on behalf of his budget, said he would close?

None. Not one. He has, however, categorically ruled out any move to close the major loophole that benefits the rich, namely the ultra-low tax rates on income from capital. (That’s the loophole that lets Mitt Romney pay only 14 percent of his income in taxes, a lower tax rate than that faced by many middle-class families.)

Read it all…

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities spells out what Priority #1 is for Paul Ryan and the Republicans in the House who passed his budget last Thursday: making the rich richer.

Tax cuts for the rich, forever and ever, Amen.

As noted, these regressive new tax cuts would come on top of the Bush tax cuts, which also were costly and provided disproportionate gains to the highest-income households.  Combined, the Bush and Ryan tax cuts would provide an annual windfall of nearly $400,000 apiece, on average, to people with incomes over $1 million (see Figure 3).  For these people, their tax cuts would be eight times the average total after-taxincomes of people in the middle 20 percent of the income scale.

The Bush tax cuts contributed significantly to the emergence of large deficits over the past decade and would prove even more unaffordable in coming decades if policymakers extended them.  Yet, instead of letting them expire as the economy recovers, the Ryan budget would “double down” by extending them and adding another round of costly, regressive tax cuts on top.

Here’s an important reminder to all the people who support the Republican Party’s outrageous and disgusting income redistribution scheme out of some weird desire to control other people’s lives:

Sunday morning’s 4 slightly interesting things

1) “MR ONE PERCENT”: YOUR 2012 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

Mitt Romney is a Scumbag — This is inexcusable: The Romney campaign suggested Friday that President Obama should release notes and transcripts from his meetings with world leaders to prove that he is not promising world leaders to change his position after November, in a statement to National Journal. […] You do not get to demand transcripts of the president’s conversations with the leaders of other nations. You do not get to decide the merits of their conversations. You cannot demand to know what the leaders of other nations are saying to the president. This is disgraceful, and if a Democratic candidate were demanding a Republican president share transcripts of his conversations with other world leaders, the resulting media shitfest would be unparalleled.

Greg Sargent wonders how Mitt Romney (and the Republican Party) can see the Paul Ryan Jump Off The Cliff economic plan as some kind of political prize: Nonpartisan observers say Ryan’s plans amount to a huge giveaway to the rich at the expense of exploding the deficit. Polls suggest that huge majorities favor preserving Medicare’s traditional function, and reject Ryan’s reforms. And yet the amount of influence Republicans have accorded to Ryan over the GOP’s fiscal policies, worldview, ideology, vision, priorities and direction is really kind of extraordinary. They’re going for it.

Dazed And Confused – They’re going for it Greg because they’re counting on your employers at Kaplan, Inc. and the other Village media outlets to sell the Ryan Plan as not only morally desirable but absolutely necessary economically over the next several months and well beyond.  It worked for the Bush tax cuts and Medicare drug benefit giveaway.  It worked for Afghanistan and especially Iraq.  Those cost us trillions but were sold as the right thing to do. The Ryan/Romney Austerity Plan will be no different.  It will be the reason why, should the GOP gain control of the Senate, that the filibuster will be done away with and the President will get a nice shiny austerity budget.  Selling that Romney will sign such a budget into law will be the big talking point. Meanwhile, austerity is destroying the EU and UK right now.  All indications are they are back into a recession with no real hope of getting out.  These guys want to make sure we’re next.

Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney: The Committee to End Medicare – These guys really believe that campaigning on a platform of turning Medicare into a voucher system is a stroke of political genius. Despite all evidence that it’s actually a political death wish, they are plowing forward undeterred. Purely on substantive grounds, it’s a terrible idea—but as they will learn in November, it’s also a political miscalculation of epic proportions. No wonder Democrats are so happy he endorsed Mitt Romney.

Paul Ryan Endorses Romney – Ryan and Romney: A Marriage Made of Our Insane Times – Nevertheless, and god knoweth how, Ryan remains such a sufficient force in our politics that his endorsement of the Romneybot 2.0 on Friday is considered to be a big deal, even though — and, Lord knows, we realize we are repeating ourselves here — if the Romneybot had endorsed anything like zombie-eyed granny-starving early in his career, he wouldn’t have received 11 votes in Massachusetts and we might never have heard of him again…. [...] There was a time in his life, and I’m old enough to remember it, when Willard Romney wouldn’t have given 15 minutes consideration to this kind of supply-side fever-dreaming. The “Ryan budget” shoves the country’s wealth upwards, decimates the social safety net, relies on a new form of mathematics that seems to have been developed by Bighorn sheep, and doesn’t do any more toward reducing the deficit than it does toward re-aligning the teams in the American Football Conference. The Romney who produced the Massachusetts health-care reform — Thanks, Mitt! — wouldn’t recognize the Romney that is such a fan these days of zombie-eyed granny-starving. Paul Ryan’s career as a “budget guru” is as much a miracle of media smoke-and-mirrors as was Newt Gingrich’s long career as a Man Of Ideas, both of them pure products of a culture of media timidity that is unable to confront the fact that one of our two major political parties has gone barking mad. That is the party that is about to nominate Willard Romney. A man is known by the company he keeps.

2) THE 21st CENTURY REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEA 

Urban Outfitters President has donated $13,150 to Rick Santorum over the years – Still doesn’t sell sweater-vests. || Good reason to never shop Urban Outfitters again? Definitely. 

Fox News host urges viewers to ‘vote Republican’  – It’s no secret that Fox News leans to the right, but one host may have crossed the line on Friday when he actively encouraged viewers to “vote Republican” if they didn’t like big government. During an interview with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy seemed to endorse the congressman’s “Path to Prosperity” budget. “This really is kind of a campaign document because it draws a bright line between what the Republicans stand for and what the Democrats stand for,” he explained. “If you want big government, then the Democrats are your party.” Doocy added: “Whereas, if you want a party that’s making some hard choices, vote Republican.”

OinkbamaI try not to nutpick too much, but this is just too fucking funny: The game is to see how many comments in a foxnews.com article that has nothing to do with President Obama do you need to read before somebody says something bad about President Obama. I call it “how many comments in a foxnews.com article that has nothing to do with President Obama do you need to read before somebody says something bad about President Obama”. Not one article goes past 22 comments before they start bashing Obama. The best part is the names they make for Obama, such as “Oinkbama”.

Hewitt Award Nominee“In other words, [Obama]’s a racist hatemonger. Just to be clear. So much for hope and change. Hope is what he promised. Hate is what he’s delivering,”Glenn Reynolds. The post is given extra nutball juice from having been written at 3.18 am.
 

Michele Bachmann Thinks People ‘Choose’ To Not Have Health Insurance –  “[Health insurance is] still an opportunity that some people choose to engage in, but 40 million people do not. And the premise was made that people don’t buy insurance because they can’t afford it. That’s not true. There are people who just decide they want to roll the dice and take their chances that they won’t need insurance.  Bachmann’s assumption that 40 million people “choose” to not have health insurance downplays the plight that people can face trying to find affordable health insurance in the face of rising costs. For the past decade, the number of people uninsured has risen each year, and working families make up 80 percent of those who have no health insurance. And young adults make up the largest share of those who are uninsured. Instead of acknowledging this growing problem, Bachmann has attacked the Affordable Care Act, the very thing that could help slow these costs and expand access to health care.

3) SUNDAY REVIEW OF THE RIGHTWING BIBLE-THUMPERS AND THEIR IDEAS OF ‘CHRISTIANITY’

Pat Robertson says homosexuality is a result of “demonic possession” — On “The 700 Club” this week, viewers were shown a segment about a man who tried to “change” his sexuality by marrying a woman, but nevertheless kept having gay affairs. TV preacher Pat Robertson said of the story, “I think it is somehow related to demonic possession.” He wasn’t kidding. It’s the 21st century; I just thought I’d mention that. [re: quote in image: see video]

Suit alleges financial fraud at TBN ministry – The Trinity Broadcasting Network, which bills itself as the world’s largest Christian network, is embroiled in a legal battle involving allegations of massive financial fraud and lavish spending, including the purchase of a $100,000 motor home for family dogs. Brittany Koper, a former high-ranking TBN official and the granddaughter of its co-founder, Paul Crouch Sr., was fired by the network in September after discovering “illegal financial schemes” amounting to tens of millions of dollars, according to a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court. [...] The lawsuit alleges that Paul Crouch Sr. obtained a $50-million Global Express luxury jet for his personal use through a “sham loan,” and that TBN funds paid for a $100,000 motor home for dogs owned by his wife, Janice Crouch, a network director. [...] TBN directors received about $300,000 to $500,000 in meal expenses and the use of chauffeurs, and oversaw “fraudulent donation and kickback schemes involving third party ‘ministries’” the network controlled, the suit claims. The directors also misused funds to cover up sexual scandals, the suit claims. [image: wonkette]

4) ZIMMERMAN KILLING OF TRAYVON MARTIN

Bill Maher calls Zimmerman a big, fat fucking liar (VIDEO) – On Friday night’s “Real Time,” Bill Maher asked a pointed question based on the tape of Zimmerman at the police station after his alleged “fight” with Martin: “Aren’t we all convinced from that tape that this guy is a big, fat, fucking liar?” But Maher’s criticism wasn’t limited to Zimmerman and the people who have failed to bring him to justice. On the heels of his hilarious “new rules” segment, Maher went on to implicate liberal politicians in shooting deaths like Martin’s: We can go on and on about hoodies and the neighborhood watch guy who looks like Chaz Bono, but it’s not really a discussion until you save some blame for the liberal politicians who unconditionally surrendered in the fight for sensible gun laws. When are they going to stand their ground?

Trayvon Martin George Zimmerman 911 call analysis: Two forensic experts say it’s not George Zimmerman crying out for help – “I took all of the screams and put those together, and cut out everything else,” Owen says. The software compared that audio to Zimmerman’s voice. It returned a 48 percent match. Owen said to reach a positive match with audio of this quality, he’d expect higher than 90 percent. “As a result of that, you can say with reasonable scientific certainty that it’s not Zimmerman,” Owen says, stressing that he cannot confirm the voice as Trayvon’s, because he didn’t have a sample of the teen’s voice to compare. [...]  He relies instead on audio enhancement and human analysis based on forensic experience. After listening closely to the 911 tape on which the screams are heard, Primeau also has a strong opinion. “I believe that’s Trayvon Martin in the background, without a doubt,” Primeau says, stressing that the tone of the voice is a giveaway. “That’s a young man screaming.”

TGIF morning’s 4 sort of interesting things

1) BYE  SANTORUM

Here’s a slip you’d NEVER make unless you’re thinking the word, or unless you use the word a lot in private conversations…

WATCH VIDEO below:

2) YOUR 2012 GOP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: MITT ROMNEY

Because why should the wealthy have to pay the same rates as the rest of us? Romney Campaign Gripes About The ‘Tax Problem’ Created By Romney’s $100 Million IRA — Wall Street Journal the “tax problem” created by Romney’s massive $100 million retirement account: In any case, swelling the IRA to the size Mr. Romney’s reached has “created a tax problem” for the former Massachusetts governor, said a Romney campaign official. Tax-law changes since Mr. Romney’s Bain tenure mean that long-term capital gains in regular accounts now are taxed at 15%. But IRA gains are taxed at ordinary-income rates upon withdrawal, which for Mr. Romney, under current law, would be 35%. “Who wants to have $100 million in an IRA?” said the campaign official. || NOTE: Romney’s own tax plan would alleviate his “problem” by implementing a 20 percent reduction in the top income tax rate. Even before he rolled out the second version of his tax plan, which took his absurd tax cuts for the rich even further, Romney’s tax plan would have cut his own taxes nearly in half.

Exclusive: Paul Ryan Will Endorse Romney — Ryan is appearing on the show of top Wisconsin talk radio host, Charlie Sykes, Friday morning, and Republicans speculated after BuzzFeed reported the endorsement Thursday night that the formal announcement could come Friday morning. The move is also timed to end the Republican contest, coming after another major conservative leader, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, backed Romney. It badly undercuts Santorum’s case that he can rally a conservative opposition to the moderate frontrunner, and is likely to further squeeze the money and political support Santorum has sought to command. The apparent cost of Ryan’s endorsement was Romney’s backing earlier this month for Ryan’s 2013 budget plan, which would cut the top marginal tax rate while reducing spending on Medicare and Medicaid, and shifting the federal health program for the elderly to a private voucher system.

Romney endorsements – FEEL the excitement! — Florida Senator Marco Rubio endorsed Mitt Romney for president yesterday, but you wouldn’t know it if you were listening to him today wherein he said this: “There are a lot of other people out there that some of us wish had run for president — but they didn’t… I think Mitt Romney would be a fine president, and he’d be way better than the guy who’s there right now.” That’s quite a non-endorsement endorsement. “I wish someone else would have run, but they didn’t, so I guess I’m stuck endorsing this guy.” || NOTE: in case anyone dreams that Marco Rubio is proof that the GOP loves, loves, loves (!) Hispanics / Latinos, and Rubio’ll bring those voters into the ‘big’ tent, never forget what the rightwing base-nuts actually THINK about Hispanics / Latinos: Breitbart.com: If You’re Hispanic, You’re Definitely Not ‘White’

3) REPUBLICAN PARTY OF TEA IN THE 21ST CENTURY

GOP Thwarts Repeal Of Big Oil Subsidies — Even though the major oil companies are turning in world record quarterly profits, today the GOP members of the Senate thwarted a bill to repeal their massive multi-billion dollar tax subsidies. Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown of Massachusetts, today foiled President Obama’s plan to strip $24 billion in tax subsidies from the country’s largest oil companies, potentially fueling an election-year issue among voters disgruntled by escalating gas prices. The 51-47 vote was mostly along party lines. Most Democrats, including Senator John Kerry, voted in favor of eliminating the subsidies but fell far short of the 60 votes needed to withstand a filibuster. […] It’s a win-win for the GOP. They get to pocket millions in Super PAC campaign dough via Big Oil donations AND they get to scream about the high price of gasoline. UPDATE: Think Progress points out: “The 47 senators voting against the bill have received $23,582,500 in career contributions from oil and gas.”

“Republicans could have easily taken the stand of defending the Stand Your Ground laws. They could have said they welcomed an investigation and believed that the investigation would show the truth. But they didn’t do that. Instead, the went after the victim and portrayed him as someone who probably had it coming. This is all we need to know about Republicans and how they approach matters of race. When given an opportunity, they didn’t hesitate for a second to smear a dead kid.” A comment on the article How The Right Deals With A Problem Like Trayvon Martin [image: liberalsarecool]

Missouri Republicans Embrace Birtherism, Pass Bill Requiring Proof Of Citizenship — HB 1046 was introduced by state Rep. Lyle Rowland (R). He explained why he felt the bill was necessary to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Rowland, a Republican from Cedarcreek, said he sponsored the bill because he doesn’t think there is enough vetting in the current process, which primarily relies on political parties to verify whether candidates meet all requirements. “This would just provide us with the verifying evidence,” Rowland said. Rowland and other Republicans deny that the bill is in response to charges that President Obama is not a citizen, but state Democrats are unconvinced, calling the timing questionable. “There is a large amount of people out there who don’t think our president if a U.S. citizen,” said Rep. Jacob Hummel (D).

4) APOCALYPTIC POTENTIAL (VOTE!)

Ezra Klein: Forecast: Republicans to take Senate in 2012 — Alan Abramowitz projects Republicans will keep the House and win back the Senate in 2012. More on his model here. If Obama is reelected, I’m not sure how much this matters: As Republicans are likely to control the House either way, anything that passes will require their agreement whether or not they also control the Senate. The real takeaway is that if Mitt Romney wins, he’s very likely to have a Republican House and a Republican Senate. And you can make major changes to the tax code, not to mention Medicare and Medicaid, through the 51-vote budget reconciliation process. || NOTE: IMAGINE THIS DEBACLE PASSING AS LAW:

  • House Republicans Pass Paul Ryan’s Radical Budget – The House of Representatives today passed the radical Republican 2013 budget, authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), by a vote of 228-191. The budget would gut the social safety net, but give so much in tax cuts to the rich and corporations that it would still increase the national debt. 10 Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting no.

Thursday morning’s 4 slightly interesting things

1) FOOT IN MOUTH ROMNEY

Romney Laughingly Recalls Father’s Layoffs — From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: At the outset of the call, Romney said he has some connections to Wisconsin. “One of most humorous I think relates to my father. You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors … They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” said Romney. “And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign.” Romney said he recalled a parade in which the school band marching with his father’s campaign only knew the Wisconsin fight song, not the Michigan song. “So every time they would start playing ‘On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin,’ my dad’s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they didn’t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,” said Romney, laughing.

White House to Romney: Cold War over — White House spokesman Josh Earnest rejected accusations by Romney, the Republican Party frontrunnner to challenge the Democratic president, that Obama had nothing to show for his overtures to repair relations with Russia. “You don’t have to be a foreign policy expert to know that the Cold War ended 20 years ago and that the greatest threat that the president has been fighting on behalf of the American people is the threat posed by al-Qaeda. The irony is that Russia, particularly in the cases of North Korea and Iran, (has) worked very well with the international community to isolate those two regimes and to seek a diplomatic solution to hold those two regimes accountable for living up to their international obligations,” Earnest said.

2) HEAD UP ASS SANTORUM

Santorum tells young man not to use pink bowling ball ‘on camera’ – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Wednesday told a young man not to use a pink ball at a bowling alley in Wisconsin. “You’re not gonna use the pink ball. We’re not gonna let you do that. Not on camera,” he said, according to Reuters reporter Sam Youngman. “Friends don’t let friends use pink balls,” he added. Santorum was bowling with the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse College Republicans. Wisconsin holds its presidential primary next Tuesday.

3) THE GOP’S NEW CLASS WARFARE SCHEME (SAME AS THE OLD SCHEME)

Cantor Proposal for 20 Percent Business Tax Deduction Would Provide Windfall for Wealthy, Not Create Jobs — Though billed as a measure to create jobs by aiding small businesses, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) proposal for a 20 percent tax deduction in 2012 for businesses with fewer than 500 employees would benefit many high-income taxpayers — including many affluent doctors, lawyers, and stockbrokers — while failing to generate the promised economic benefits. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center estimates that nearly half — 49 percent — of the $46 billion tax cut that the measure would provide would go to people with incomes over $1 million a year. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) rated this general approach as one of the least cost-effective ways that policymakers were considering to encourage growth or create jobs in a weak economy. For one thing, the tax benefits would flow disproportionately to high-income people who would spend a relatively small share of their additional income; thus, CBO estimated that the deduction would generate just 0 to 20 cents in economic growth for every dollar in budgetary cost. For another, firms would receive this tax break whether they hired new workers or not; thus, CBO estimated that in 2012 it would create one job or fewer per $1 million of budgetary cost.

The House Republican Budget Would Eliminate Pell Grants For More Than One Million Students — More than 1 million students would lose Pell grants entirely over the next 10 years under Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, according to an analysis that the national reform organization Education Trust provided to The Huffington Post. And by the looks of it, the Ryan budget, which is slated to hit the House floor this week, would hit the poorest kids hardest. [...] The budget would cut Pell grant eligibility for students who attend classes on a less-than-halftime schedule — which usually means low-income students who need to work their way through college. And it gets worse. Sixty percent of students who receive Pell grants also take out loans — twice the rate for college students overall — so they might be doubly hit by the Ryan cuts: In addition to receiving less Pell money, they would have to start paying interest on their loans while still in school.

4) TRAYVON MARTIN MURDER

Funeral director saw no signs of fight on Trayvon’s hands – “As for his hands and knuckles, I didn’t see any evidence he had been fighting anybody,” Kurtz said. Citing police sources, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Zimmerman told investigators Martin punched him and slammed his head into the ground repeatedly before he fired the shot that killed the unarmed 17-year-old. He claimed he shot Martin in self-defense, and he has not been charged in the case at this point. While Kurtz is not a forensics expert, the funeral director said he has handled the bodies of many homicide victims in his career. This case in particular affected him as he learned more about what happened to Trayvon Martin and how the case was handled. “I think the police investigation was the most unprofessional one I’ve ever seen in my lifetime,” Kurtz said.

Surveillance video shows no blood or bruises on George Zimmerman  – The video shows Zimmerman arriving at the Sanford Police Department in a police cruiser. […] The initial police report noted that Zimmerman was covered in grass, and was bleeding from the back of the head and nose. Zimmerman’s lawyer has also said that his nose was broken in the incident. But the surveillance video shows no blood or bruises on him. It is unclear whether the medical attention Zimmerman reportedly received would have stopped him from bleeding. The lead homicide investigator on the Trayvon Martin case recommended George Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter, but was denied. Chris Serino, the Sanford investigator, filed an affidavit on the night of crime saying he was unconvinced of Zimmerman’s account. However, the state attorney’s office told Serino not to press charges against Zimmerman because there wasn’t enough evidence against him. WATCH VIDEO:

Trayvon Martin: The 5 Key Unanswered Questions — While media coverage of the case has been intense, there are several key questions that have yet to be answered about the case. Here are five of the most important: 1. What was the purported “conflict” that required the initial prosecutor to step down? 2. Why did the prosecutor ignore the recommendations of the lead homicide investigator? 3. Why did then-Police Chief Bill Lee make public statements directly contradicting the official recommendations of the police department? 4. Who leaked Trayvon Martin’s school records? 5. Why was Trayvon Martin’s body tagged as a John Doe? Special prosecutor Angela Corey has promised to release additional information about the case once she makes a decision about whether to charge Zimmerman, something that could happen at any time.

Trayvon Martin Case: Department of Justice to investigate entire Sanford police – He said that so many people complained at Monday night’s city commission meeting about Sanford officers, the city asked the Department of Justice to step in. “I am now in the process of talking with the Department of Justice and instituting a mechanism whereby citizens that have concerns or complaints about the Sanford Police Department can have their concerns heard and investigated by an independent agency,” Bonaparte said. WFTV found the investigations could pave the way for a long relationship with federal officials. After complaints surfaced in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, the Department of Justice found a pattern of civil rights abuse. Then, it completely took over the departments and entered into “consent decrees” to improve them. The Department of Justice took over the department in LA for eight years and in Pittsburgh for four.

(3/23) TGIF morning’s 6 potentially interesting things

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA / DEMOCRATS

FLASHBACK: Karl Rove: “I Think President Obama Needs To Be Complimented” For Bin Laden Raid - In a Wall Street Journal op-ed this morning, Karl Rove attacked the documentary released by President Obama’s reelection campaign and dismissed “the killing of Osama bin Laden,” writing: “Mr. Obama did what virtually any commander in chief would have done in the same situation. Even President Bill Clinton says in the film ‘that’s the call I would have made.’ For this to be portrayed as the epic achievement of the first term tells you how bare the White House cupboards are. [...] “Clinton [actually] said: “He took the harder and the more honorable path. When I saw what had happened, I thought to myself, ‘I hope that’s the call I would have made.’ ” [...] On May 2, 2011, the day after Bin Laden’s death was announced, Rove appeared on Fox & Friends and said “I think President Obama needs to be complimented on his handling of this operation.”

America’s Dad: (Video) Obama to heckler: “Show me some courtesy” - With a grin on his face, Mr. Obama said he would be happy to read the book and added, “show me some courtesy.” The president motioned to Secret Service to get the book from the man. According to CBS News White House producer Jeff Goldman, the man was not escorted out but did quiet down.

Check it out … at an event last week, a deaf man signs “I’m proud of you” at President Obama and Obama signs back “thank you.”

2) MITT “ETCH A SKETCH” ROMNEY

Mitt Romney lands prize on Hill visit Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who backed Romney in 2008 but has remained on the sidelines this year as the former Massachusetts governor labors to win the nomination, said it’s time the rest of the field consider bowing to the inevitable. “We all need to look at this presidential primary and encourage the candidates to do a little self-reflection here on what’s good for our country,” DeMint told reporters after a morning sit-down with the front-runner. “The sooner we can make a decision, the sooner we can focus on the real problem, which is [President Barack] Obama.” Saying he expects the prolonged and often heated presidential battle to end “pretty soon,” DeMint added: “There’s no need to drag this to a convention if it’s pretty clear who our nominee is.” Without mentioning Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum by name, DeMint said that “the best thing they can do is maybe look at kind of throwing their support behind the one who might be our nominee. And that’s beginning to look like Romney.” [image: triplestandard]

Mitt Romney’s Astonishing Lack of Small Donors - According to renowned rocket scientist Karl Rove, President Obama has a “money problem” because he isn’t bringing in enough large donors. That may be a problem if not for the fact that a clear majority of President Obama’s campaign, or nearly 60 percent, is being funded by people like you and I who donate much smaller amounts in mass numbers. [...] FEC filings on Tuesday showed Romney’s campaign has so far raised $7.5 million from small donors, which comprises only 10 percent of his fundraising. [...] the re-election campaign of President Barack Obama has brought in about $71.1 million in unitemized contributions, 59 percent of the money the campaign has raised so far.

As Governor, Mitt Romney Raised A Gas Tax By 400% - Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been attacking President Obama for the high price of gas prices… [...] But during his time as Governor, Romney actually increased the price of gasoline directly himself according to this 2010 News report from the Boston Fox affiliate. In 2003 Romney increased fees on gas by two cents a gallon to pay for environmental clean ups of leaking underground gas station fuel tanks. The fee increased the clean-up tax on drivers by 400% and hit consumers directly at the pump. The fund, which was originally only half-a-cent, was created in 1992 to aid gas station owners with clean-ups. Two weeks after raising that tax, Romney eliminated the fund for gas station clean-ups entirely but kept the two cent increase. The money raised by Romney’s tax increase now goes directly into Commonwealth’s coffers for legislators to spend as they please.

Does Romney not realize he’s making a Democratic argument? - After winning the Illinois primary on Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s victory speech featured an unexpected argument. The former governor was trying to argue that “government” stands in the way of American progress, which led to this observation: “We once built the interstate highway system and the Hoover Dam. Today, we can’t even build a pipeline.”

In case you were wondering why Mitt Romney voluntarily injected George W. Bush into the 2012 campaign yesterday, here’s your answer…

3) RICK SANTORUM

Santorum: Might As Well Have Obama Over Romney - Santorum reiterated an argument he has made before: The former Massachusetts governor is not conservative enough to offer voters a clear choice in the fall election and that only he can provide that contrast. “You win by giving people a choice,” Santorum said during a campaign stop in Texas. “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there.” Santorum added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.”

Santorum Up Big in Louisiana - A new Public Policy Polling survey finds Rick Santorum is headed for a commanding win in Louisiana on Saturday. He leads Mitt Romney, 42% to 28%, followed by Newt Gingrich at 18%, Ron Paul at 8% and Buddy Roemer at 2%. ||| OR NOT?

4) REPUBLICAN WAR ON WOMEN

HERO! Richard Hanna, GOP Congressman, Tells Women To Give Their Money To Democrats - As the only Republican Congressman at a rally for the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) gave women an unexpected piece of advice: Give your money to Democrats. “I think these are very precarious times for women, it seems. So many of your rights are under assault,” he told the crowd of mostly women. “I’ll tell you this: Contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it. And you need to send your own message. You need to remind people that you vote, you matter, and that they can’t succeed without your help. [...]If equality had been enshrined in the Constitution for these past 40 years, I wonder if we would still be hearing today from right-wing presidential contenders that women should not serve in combat, that women should think twice before they seek to work outside of the house, that women should not use birth control, and that women who do are called names that are not fit to repeat here.”

Kay Bailey Hutchison Claims Republicans Don’t Want to Restrict Access to Contraception After Voting for Blunt Amendment - If you’re a Republican and you would like to come on the air and repeat one talking point after another virtually unchallenged, this Thursday, Chuck Todd once again showed us he’s happy to oblige you. Todd allowed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to get away with a series of lies right off the bat, like pretending increasing domestic oil drilling will have any major impact in lowering the price of gasline (it won’t), or that Republicans have some sort of “principled” stance on energy production, unless you consider always doing the bidding of the oil companies “principled.” Todd then asked Hutchison about the Republicans “war on women” and he allows her to get away with claiming that Republicans don’t want to restrict women’s access to contraception after she just voted for the Blunt amendment. Heaven forbid he might have reminded her of that during the interview. She finished up with giving a half hearted defense of Planned Parenthood, saying she disagreed with Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to turn down the state’s Medicaid funding. It would have been nice if she’d bothered to say something when the House Republicans were seeking to defund it last year.

5) REPUBLICAN WAR ON THE 99% / PROTECTING THE ONE PERCENT

Harold Simmons On Obama: ‘That Socialist’ - The reclusive, super-wealthy Republican donor Harold Simmons sat down for an interview with the Wall Street Journal in which he explained why he decided to donate $18 million to conservative super PACs. To put it bluntly: he despises and fears President Barack Obama. “Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist, Obama,” Simmons told the Journal (subscription required), in what is the piece’s most provocative quote. “Obama is the most dangerous American alive … because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country.” [...] The 80-year-old Texan takes his political advice from Karl Rove. And at another point in the interview, he insisted that if more campaign commercials had been run tying then-Sen. Obama to Bill Ayers, “we” — as in conservatives — “could have killed Obama.” By this, he is speaking metaphorically, though the impression is left that those very ads will be featured more prominently in 2012.

Analysis: House GOP Budget Gives $187,000 Tax Cut To Every Millionaire - Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would give away $3 trillion in tax breaks to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Roughly $2 trillion of those breaks are aimed at the rich, thanks to the repeal of multiple taxes that primarily affect the rich and the dropping of the top marginal tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. Ryan insisted those breaks won’t blow holes in the federal budget, first by claiming a level of revenue that borders on pure fantasy, and second by promising to close tax loopholes. Even in the unlikely scenario that the GOP managed to close every tax loophole available to the wealthy, each millionaire would pay an average of $187,000 less under Ryan’s plan than they would under current law (which assumes an end to the Bush tax cuts)…

GOP Threatens Transportation Funding Shutdown That Could Jeopardize 1.9 Million Jobs - House Republicans last night rejected the Senate’s bipartisan transportation reauthorization bill and said they would instead adopt a short-term resolution that would maintain current funding levels for 90 days. With just 10 days until the current short-term authorization plan expires, that means House Republicans have made possible a transportation shutdown that could force more than 1.9 million workers off the job. [...] The bill would also create roughly 1 million new jobs, according to Democratic estimates, bringing the total number of jobs in jeopardy to nearly 3 million, [Sen. Barbara] Boxer (D-CA) told the Washington Post: “The clock is ticking on the shutdown of our transportation programs,” said Boxer, who was floor leader in crafting bipartisan support for the Senate bill. “We’re talking about almost 3 million jobs, and the House is playing games. This is a jobs bill — make no mistake about it.” [See this link for explanation of image above]

6) MISC

HHS: Health reform to provide coverage for 13 million uninsured women - Even though millions more women will have insurance coverage, an estimated 14.7 million women will remain uninsured. In addition, insurance companies will no longer be able to charge higher rates due to gender once a provision of the health care reform law takes effect in 2014. The National Women’s Law Center released a report Monday morning that found health insurance companies have charged women $1 billion more than men for the same premium coverage. Even with maternity coverage excluded, nearly a third of the plans analyzed charged 25 and 40-year-old women were at least 30 percent more than men for the same coverage. Because of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for plans to cover essential health benefits, an estimated 8.7 million more women will gain maternity coverage starting in 2014. [image: BarackObama.com/health-care]

Poll: Too much religion talk - Almost four in 10 Americans say there is “too much” talk of religion and prayer by politicians — an all-time high since the question was first asked more than 10 years ago, according to a new poll. Thirty-eight percent of those polled said there’s too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders, while 30 percent said there’s too little of it, a survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found. [...] The poll also found that more than half of Americans, 54 percent, think churches should stay out of politics, while 40 percent said religious institutions should express views on social and political questions.

U.S. has more rigs operating than the rest of the world combined, domestic production highest in 8 years

“I guess there’s some empty spots where we’re not drilling. We’re not at the National Mall. We’re not drilling at your house.” — President Obama

Facts and reality do not support blaming the President for rising gas prices (or blaming any president for that matter). And facts especially don’t support the Republican chant of “Drill, Baby, Drill” as some kind of solution to our domestic price at the pump.

AP Fact Check: In 36 Years Of Data, Not A Shred Of Evidence That Drilling Reduces Gas Prices

The Associated Press reports that an analysis of 36 years of Energy Information Administration data shows “no statistical correlation” between domestic oil production and gas prices.

AP writes:

U.S. oil production is back to the same level it was in March 2003, when gas cost $2.10 per gallon when adjusted for inflation. But that’s not what prices are now.

That’s because oil is a global commodity and U.S. production has only a tiny influence on supply. Factors far beyond the control of a nation or a president dictate the price of gasoline.

Domestic oil production is at its highest level in eight years. According to the AP, if drilling dictated gas prices, they should already be at the $2 Republicans promise. However, gas prices fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including speculation and tensions in the Middle East. 

There’s one simple reason that Republicans are fighting so hard for more domestic oil production, while attempting to pawn it off to the public as something that could lower gas prices: more profit for Big Oil, which in turn means more campaign contributions for themselves.

Rather than focus on actual solutions to rising gas prices, Republican committee members advocated for more drilling, a policy which would increase big oil profits but does not decrease gas prices. 

[...] So why are Republicans continuing to advocate for more drilling as a panacea to high gas prices?  Perhaps because 88 percent of all political contributions from oil and gas companies go to Republicans.  The Natural Resources Committee itself takes an astounding amount of campaign money from oil and gas, as seen in this chart that ThinkProgress put together in November 2011.

[...] Additionally, the facts show that under the Obama administration, we are drilling more in America than everywhere else in the world combined.  As of March 16th, there were 1,984 rotary rigs operating in the U.S., while only 1,721 in the rest of the worldThe number of oil drilling rigs in the U.S. hit a record in February, and have quadrupled over the last three years.

The Republicans even have Big Oil covered in their 2013 Budget proposal:

Yet it appears that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) proposed FY 2013 budget resolution would retain a decade’s worth of oil tax breaks worth $40 billion. And his budget would cut billions of dollars from investments to develop alternative fuels and clean energy technologies that would serve as substitutes for oil and help protect middle-class families from volatile energy prices as well as create jobs. In short, the Ryan budget compounds the cost of high oil and gasoline prices on the middle class.

But, unsurprisingly, what’s Fox “News” telling it’s viewers?

No, we’re not surprised.
via: ThinkProgress