Friday Reads

We’re closing in on a long weekend.   It’s Independence Day!  Do you know where your constitutional rights are?  The first amendment right to keep the government from institutionalizing one religious viewpoint appears to be under systematic assault these days by the Republican Party.  How can we stop candidates like Michelle Bachmann who create their own American history and distort our laws and civil rights in the process?  Here’s Jonathan Chait’s suggestion.

The Michele Bachmann surge (confirmed most recently by the latest PPP poll) suggests the question is not whether Bachmann is a legitimate contender for the Republican nomination but what it will take to stop her from winning. As I’ll explain, I do think Bachmann can be stopped. But the general advance of conservatism within the Republican Party over the last three decades has been a repeated pattern of the unthinkable becoming thinkable, and the trend has sharply accelerated over the last two years. Moderation simply lacks any legitimacy within the GOP. It exists, but — unlike the Democratic Party, where moderation is a frequent boast — it’s undertaken almost entirely in secret. Since Barack Obama’s inauguration, virtually every quarrel within the Republican Party between moderates and maximalist partisans has been resolved in favor of the latter. Bachmann has positioned herself as a mainstream, serious figure who has also outflanked the other as-yet announced candidates. They will have a hard time attacking her without seeming to attack conservatism itself.

So, what could defeat her? One thing could be the entry of another candidate who can match her conservatism while appearing more electable. Rick Perry is the leading candidate here. Paul Ryan would be another.

A second possibility is that Republican insiders could spill the beans on why she so freaks them out.

I have no idea why any of them think that Rick Perry or Paul Ryan are batshit crazy lite.  Maybe it’s because they aren’t vagina impaired or probably because they kiss up to cults instead of joining them.  But wait, Perry belongs to a similar religious cult and Ryan is in the Ayn Rand cult, so, we’re back to vajayjay of doom explanation.   Frankly, the entire party seems bat shit crazy these days. So, we’re still stuck between bat shit crazy and totally worthless.  (Sigh.)

Another stranger than truth bit of news these days is Steven Colbert and his “SuperPac”.  A “SuperPac is”a political group that can legally accept unlimited contributions from people, corporations, and unions to campaign for candidates and causes”.

Because Colbert’s group will not give any money directly to candidates — instead airing independent ads to support them — Colbert can take donations of any size.

He forced the FEC to make this decision by planning to operate as a real political group, not a parody.

“If we’d viewed this as a funny request, that would have been a lot easier,” Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a George W. Bush nominee, told Colbert at today’s hearing.

In the end, the commission voted 5-1 to approve Colbert’s PAC according to guidelines under consideration at today’s hearing.

Colbert had sought guidance from the FEC on how to handle air-time and help from Viacom, Comedy Central’s parent company — and this is the area in which his SuperPAC has forced precedents with implications for other media companies, like Fox News.

The FEC ruled today that Viacom can fund Colbert’s group, without limit, as long as it only helps out with ads that air during his show …

I’m wondering if this is giving Scalia, Thomas and the rest of the Neanderthal SCOTUS Beastie Boys nightime heart burn?  Whoops!  No hearts!! Some analysts believe that what Colbert is actually doing is exposing holes in campaign finance law.

“I think Colbert is trying to dramatize problems in the campaign finance world in the way that he dramatizes other things,” said longtime campaign finance reform advocate Fred Wertheimer, a longtime advocate for stricter campaign finance rules who is president of Democracy 21. “But nevertheless, the proposals here would potentially open gaping disclosure loopholes in the campaign finance laws.”

Wertheimer is so concerned about what Colbert is doing, in fact, that Democracy 21 has joined with the Campaign Legal Center, another advocacy group, to petition the FEC to reject his request because it could result in the “radical evisceration” of campaign finance rules.

If Colbert gets his way before the FEC, it could blur the lines between political money and media to an unprecedented extent.

For instance, it might enable Fox News pundit-politicians such as Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee to use the network’s resources to boost their own political committees, assert Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center in their FEC filing. It concludes: “Mr. Colbert’s ultimate goals here may be comedic, but the commission should not play the straight man at the expense of the law.”

Colbert’s PAC bit started as a parody of the PAC started by former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to lay the foundation for his presidential campaign. But after lawyers for Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom expressed reservations about Colbert using their corporate resources — in the form of his eponymous late-night faux news show — to promote the PAC, the bit morphed into a riff on how corporations like Viacom can spend cash on politics, thanks to the 2010 high court decision in a case called Citizens United v. FEC.

The Gawker’s John Cook has an interesting piece up on “Roger Ailes’ Secret Nixon-Era Blueprint for Fox News”.   He had me at “secret Nixon-Era” blueprint.  Nothing from Nixon people even shocks me any more.  Is there such a thing as group paranoia?

Republican media strategist Roger Ailes launched Fox News Channel in 1996, ostensibly as a “fair and balanced” counterpoint to what he regarded as the liberal establishment media. But according to a remarkable document buried deep within the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, the intellectual forerunner for Fox News was a nakedly partisan 1970 plot by Ailes and other Nixon aides to circumvent the “prejudices of network news” and deliver “pro-administration” stories to heartland television viewers.

The memo—called, simply enough, “A Plan For Putting the GOP on TV News”— is included in a 318-page cache of documents detailing Ailes’ work for both the Nixon and George H.W. Bush administrations that we obtained from the Nixon and Bush presidential libraries. Through his firms REA Productions and Ailes Communications, Inc., Ailes served as paid consultant to both presidents in the 1970s and 1990s, offering detailed and shrewd advice ranging from what ties to wear to how to keep the pressure up on Saddam Hussein in the run-up to the first Gulf War.

The documents—drawn mostly from the papers of Nixon chief of staff and felon H.R. Haldeman and Bush chief of staff John Sununu—reveal Ailes to be a tireless television producer and joyful propagandist. He was a forceful advocate for the power of television to shape the political narrative, and he reveled in the minutiae constructing political spectacles—stage-managing, for instance, the lighting of the White House Christmas tree with painstaking care. He frequently floated ideas for creating staged events and strategies for manipulating the mainstream media into favorable coverage, and used his contacts at the networks to sniff out the emergence of threatening narratives and offer advice on how to snuff them out—warning Bush, for example, to lay off the golf as war in the Middle East approached because journalists were starting to talk. There are also occasional references to dirty political tricks, as well as some positions that seem at odds with the Tea Party politics of present-day Fox News: Ailes supported government regulation of political campaign ads on television, including strict limits on spending. He also advised Nixon to address high school students, a move that caused his network to shriek about “indoctrination” when Obama did it more than 30 years later.

It’s a long strange read that’s just perfect for a celebration of America!

Well, one democratic senator has a job plan.  I wonder if any one will discuss it?

A bill to create construction jobs and fund new highway infrastructure. A clean-energy jobs program. Reforming the immigration system for high-skilled workers. And a variety of tax cuts and credits.

None are new ideas, but they’re all part of Senate Democrats’ jobs agenda Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) laid out in greater detail Thursday as he portrayed his party as proactively trying to spur economic growth and accused the GOP of deliberately trying to undermine the recovery for political gain.

“We have now been playing entirely on the Republicans‘ field for six months and the recovery has only slowed. We have seen enough to know that their approach is not working,” said Schumer, who heads policy and messaging for Senate Democrats, in a speech to the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

“And we need to start asking ourselves an uncomfortable question — are Republicans slowing down the recovery on purpose for political gain in 2012? … [N]ow it is becoming clear that insisting on a slash-and-burn approach may be part of this plan — it has a double benefit for Republicans: It is ideologically tidy and it undermines the economic recovery, which they think only helps them in 2012.”

Republicans have scoffed at that notion, arguing that Democrats’ solution to the broken economy is tax increases and a continuation of failed stimulus spending. This week, the GOP renewed its push for a constitutional amendment that would require the government to balance its budget each year.

I can’t believe the Republicans are trying that balanced budget crap again.  It’s absolutely the worst thing in the world to do and it’s one of the reasons that states’ economies have caused this recovery to be the worst on record.  They are actively making it worse by crippling state budgets and services.  A balanced budget amendment means that governments get to spend like crazy when tax revenues come in which is precisely when you don’t need it because it’s inflationary.  It also stops governments from deficit spending when they have to and should during a recession.  It causes governments to make recessions longer and more painful.  Just like now!  People like Mitch McConnell shouldn’t be making economic policy decisions based on faith-based Voodoo Economics.  He and other Republicans have basically made a living of telling people complete untruths about economic and financial theory.  Remember, even Ronald Reagan’s economic team has called all this stuff insanity!

Okay, one MORE economics story and then I’ll leave you to firecrackers, beer and the grill.  It’s not much of a surprise, but it’s an academic study that pretty much shows what we’ve thought for some time.

Economists at Northeastern University have found that the current economic recovery in the United States has been unusually skewed in favor of corporate profits and against increased wages for workers.

In their newly released study, the Northeastern economists found that since the recovery began in June 2009 following a deep 18-month recession, “corporate profits captured 88 percent of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1 percent” of that growth.

The study, “The ‘Jobless and Wageless Recovery’ From the Great Recession of 2007-2009,” said it was “unprecedented” for American workers to receive such a tiny share of national income growth during a recovery.

According to the study, between the second quarter of 2009, when the recovery began, and the fourth quarter of 2010, national income rose by $528 billion, with $464 billion of that growth going to pretax corporate profits, while just $7 billion went to aggregate wages and salaries, after accounting for inflation.

The share of income growth going to employee compensation was far lower than in the four other economic recoveries that have occurred over the last three decades, the study found.

“The lack of any net job growth in the current recovery combined with stagnant real hourly and weekly wages is responsible for this unique, devastating outcome,” wrote the report’s authors, Andrew Sum, Ishwar Khatiwada, Joseph McLaughlin and Sheila Palma.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average real hourly earnings for all employees actually declined by 1.1 percent from June 2009, when the recovery began, to May 2011, the month for which the most recent earnings numbers are available.

Yup, we’re all poorer and the one per cent is richer.  But then, you knew that!

So, here’s the firecrackers!   Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Prosser was videotaped by a news crew basically ripping a mic away from a reporter trying to ask him a question.  Be sure to go watch the video!

Grabbing the microphone – and the spotlight. Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser did both when FOX6’s Mike Lowe attempted to speak with him about the serious allegations of a physical altercation with Justice Anne Walsh Bradley on Thursday.

Six of Wisconsin’s Supreme Court Justices witnessed an alleged physical altercation between Prosser and Bradley in Bradley’s chambers on June 13th.

The basic story is that Prosser was upset about Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson’s decision to delay release of the high court’s opinion in the collective bargaining case.

The story was leaked, presumably by the Justices themselves, to both liberal and conservative publications. Both cited unnamed sources. But Bradley was quoted as saying Prosser placed her in a choke-hold. Prosser has since denied that.

On Thursday, when FOX’s Mike Lowe asked Justice Prosser about the alleged incident, he grabbed the FOX6 microphone and then gave it back. Prosser did not answer any of Mike Lowe’s questions.

You can watch his odd behavior as captured by the Fox News 6 reporter.  Four of the justices who witnessed the altercation refused to comment and said the matter was under review by the judicial commission and that the sheriff was investigating the situation too.  Prosser never said anything but the body language says a lot.

Hope your long weekend will go great and that you have a few minutes to spend with us!  I understand Wonk’s got a great Hillary post coming up for us tomorrow!   Our Secretary of State is out there putting the world’s women and children first again!  You’ll want to read it for sure!  I’ve stocked up on bacon wrapped filets, Abita Amber, and corn on the cob. Just a little fun down here on the bayou!

So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Well, the biggest news is the killing of Osama Bin Laden in a US operation.  The President announced the news on TV last night.  There were few details other than Bin Laden was killed in a US operation and was in Pakistan.  Spontaneous celebrations erupted across the U.S.  The entire statement can be read at NPR. The State Department has warned that there may be increased potential for violence against US citizens and a security alert has been announced for travelers.    WAPO is reporting that this was a Navy Seals operation that involved the CIA and Pakistani intelligence.

Obama said the operation took place in Abbottabad, a city of about 100,000 in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 100 miles north of Islamabad. Named for a British military officer who founded it as a military cantonment and summer retreat, it is the headquarters of a brigade of the Pakistan Army’s 2nd Division.

Bin Laden had long eluded U.S. forces throughout George W. Bush’s presidency, and the former president said Sunday that he congratulated Obama and the military and intelligence personnel who “devoted their lives to this mission.”

After weeks of chasing conspiracy stories about the President and dropping the F-bomb numerous times in a speech,  Donald Trump becomes the arbiter of good taste calling the White House correspondent’s dinner “inappropriate”.  I guess he really does like jokes about his nasty hairdo after all.

At the event, Obama made light of Trump’s repeated calls for him to release his birth certificate, something he did Wednesday, and Meyers made fun of everything from his hair to his presidential ambition. Although Trump appeared unamused during Saturday’s dinner, he said he was honored “in a certain way” to be a focal point.

“I really knew what I was getting into last night. I had no idea it would be to that extent where, you know just joke after joke after joke,” the mogul said. “It was almost like, is there anyone else they can talk about?”

He also found the event “inappropriate in certain respects” and spent the evening thinking about how “the American people are really suffering and we’re all having a good time.”

And what was his assessment of Meyers’ comedic timing?

“His (Meyers) delivery was not good. He’s a stutterer and he really was having a hard time,” Trump said of the “Saturday Night Live” star.

Is any one else but me still offended by Trump calling Rosie O’Donnell a pig?   So, first misogyny and now attacks on disabilities. So, now Seth Meyer is a ‘stutterer’. Stay classy, The Donald!   Guess he can dish it out but he can’t take it!

Reagan Budget Director David Stockman once more calls for raising taxes to take care of Federal budget problems.  It’s been interesting to watch all these Republican officials come out and tell other Republicans to do the responsible thing.

Asked by Reuter’s Chrystia Freeland if the economy could “sustain” a tax increase, Stockman said “absolutely,” noting that the economy only recovered under Reagan once he raisedtaxes in 1982 after “cut[ting] taxes too much” the year before:

FREELAND: You worked for Ronald Reagan. Do you think the American economy — so you’re, like, a red-blooded capitalist — could it sustain higher taxes than it has now?

STOCKMAN: Absolutely. In 1982, we were looking at the jaws of the worst recession since the 1930s. We overdid it in 1981, cut taxes too much. We came back with a big deficit reduction plan in 1982. Unemployment’s at 10 percent, the economy is in dire shape, and we raise taxes by 1.2 percent of GDP, which would be $150 billion a year right now — not 10 years down the road — but right now

Here’s one of those ‘Only in Washington, D.C” stories from The Hill.  Here’s another example of no funding for a delegated task.

President Obama launched a task force last week to look into oil and gas price manipulation, but a spending bill he signed into law earlier this month would prevent the government’s top statistical agency from analyzing that very issue.

The fiscal year 2011 spending legislation – a product of tense negotiations between Republicans and Democrats – cuts the Energy Information Administration’s budget by 14 percent.

Michelle Bachmann Godwins.  She compared the federal debt levels to the holocaust.  Ever wonder if there’s any actual history classes in her past?  How on earth can you compare anything that trivial to the mass slaughter of innoncent people in such a systemic and horrific way?

Bachmann, careful to note that there was no direct analogy in today’s times to the Holocaust, still tied the loss of “economic liberty” that Americans face today to the systematic killing of six million European Jews.

“We are seeing eclipsed in front of our eyes a similar death and a similar taking away,” Bachmann said. “It is this disenfranchisement that I think we have to answer to.”

In a reference to the Obama administration’s new health care law, the likely presidential candidate and tea party favorite said creating new entitlement programs that “there was never any hope or chance of being able” to pay for was an exercise in “fantasy economics.”

“All of the problems we’re facing with debt are manmade problems. We created them. It’s called fantasy economics,” she told Republicans gathered at Southern New Hampshire University. “Fantasy economics only works in a fantasy world. It doesn’t work in reality.”

If any one would know about fantasy worlds, I suggest it would be Michele Bachmann.

Project Syndicate is one of my favorite sites these days and this is a very descriptive headline by Pimco’s CEO Mohamed El-Erian: Sleepwalking through America’s Unemployment Crisis.

Let us start with the facts:

·         At 8.8% almost three years after the onset of the global financial crisis, America’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly (and unusually) high;

·         Rather than reflecting job creation, much of the improvement in recent months (from 9.8% in November last year) is due to workers exiting the labor force, thus driving workforce participation to a multi-year low of 64.2%;

·         If part-time workers eager to work full time are included, almost one in six workers in America are either under- or unemployed;

·         More than six million workers have been unemployed for more than six months, and four million for over a year;

·         Unemployment among 16-19 year olds is at a staggering 24%;

·         With virtually no earned income and dwindling savings, the unemployed are least able to manage the current surge in gasoline and food prices, they are effectively shut off from credit, and many have mortgage debt that exceed the value of their homes.

These and many other facts speak to an unpleasant and unusual reality for the United States. The country now has an unemployment problem that is large in magnitude and increasingly structural in nature. The consequences are multifaceted, involving immediate personal anguish, rising social and political tensions, economic losses, and budgetary pressures.

This is much more than a problem for the here and now. High and intractable unemployment has serious negative long-term consequences that threaten to become exponentially worse. This is a crisis.

So, there’s some headlines to think about!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

updated for this thread:  NationalJournal.com has some information on “The Secret Team that Killed Obama” that you  may want to check out. There’s also a timeline or tick tock for Bin Laden’s life.

From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, the modified MH-60 helicopters made their way to the garrison suburb of Abbottabad, about 30 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard were Navy SEALs, flown across the border from Afghanistan, along with tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers.

After bursts of fire over 40 minutes, 22 people were killed or captured. One of the dead was Osama bin Laden, done in by a double tap — boom, boom — to the left side of his face. His body was aboard the choppers that made the trip back. One had experienced mechanical failure and was destroyed by U.S. forces, military and White House officials tell National Journal.

Were it not for this high-value target, it might have been a routine mission for the specially trained and highly mythologized SEAL Team Six, officially called the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, but known even to the locals at their home base Dam Neck in Virginia as just DevGru.


Tea Party Astroturf: More Apparent than Ever and Blatantly Hypocritical

Have you been wondering why we seem to have such a concerted effort in all kinds of states to take down unions, women’s rights, attack public workers, bankrupt the state with excessive tax cuts for business and the wealthy and other basically overwhelming policy attacks?  Thought much about the Teabots recently?  Well, here’s some interesting information on the little grass roots that got played big time.  Not only is the tea party representing the interests of the rich, it’s also representing the interests of the rich taking  lots of money from the state and federal government that they purport to hate.  ABC’s Good Morning America has found some really interesting things on Tea Party Darlings on the Dole. Many of the biggest political icons in the movement are big abusers of government largess.

ABC’s senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl reported “the Tea Party movement is all about slashing federal spending, but at least five House members with Tea Party connections have themselves collected more than $100,000 each in federal farm subsidies, totalling more than $8 million since 1995.”

The subsidies are included in a report out Thursday by the Environmental Working Group. “We need a better system,” said Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Tennessee Republican whose family farm has received more than $3 million in subsidies, with more than $100,000 going directly to the Congressman himself. Asked directly if he’d refuse to take any further subsidies, he dodged the question. Others said the farm subsidies–totalling $16 billion–need to cut if not eliminated.

We’ve also learned that future presidential wannabe Michelle Bachman’s husband’s Christian “counseling” services

Watch the video by following this linked picture to ABC.

receives state funds in the scam to ungay, gay people.  Talk about an appalling breach in the establishment clause!

Bachmann and Associates, Inc., a counseling center that receives state funds and is owned by Rep. Michele Bachmann and her husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, uses counseling methods steeped in fundamentalist Christianity, raising questions about its use of taxpayer money.

Founded in 2003, Bachmann’s clinic has taken in nearly $30,000 in state funds since 2007. Dr. Bachmann has said publicly that God heals people at his clinic and that Jesus Christ is the “Almighty Counselor.”

“We are distinctly a Christian counseling agency here in the Twin Cities,” he told KKMS radio in 2008. “We have 27 Christian counselors, Christ-centered, very strong in our understanding of who the Almighty Counselor is, and as we rely on God’s word and the Almighty Counselor, we have the opportunity to change people’s lives.”

He continued, “God heals people and if we give opportunity, if we are a willing vessel and we go according to what God’s word is, it works.”

The clinic applied for and received Rule 29 and Rule 31 licensing from the state in 2003. The rules allow the clinic to receive state money to treat low-income Minnesotans for mental health and chemical dependency problems. The clinic has earned $27,564 in state payments since 2007 — and likely received more, since the Minnesota Transparency and Accountability Project’s online data only goes back to 2007. Bachmann and Associates took $1,419 in public money in 2007, $13,140 in 2008, $12,493 in 2009 and $512 so far in 2010, according to the transparency project.

All of the clinic’s counselors identify as Christians. Among them is Marian E. Eckhardt, a licensed psychologist. Her mission statement says, “I believe that through knowledge, faith and dependency on God and His revealed truths one receives the strength and love to truly fulfill their life’s purpose.”

Saul Selby, the clinic’s drug and alcohol counselor, is also an ordained minister. Selby writes that he seeks to “help individuals and couples experience wholeness and healing through the application of biblical principles and the Love of Christ.”

Debra Kullberg, an associate marriage and family therapist, is also a licensed member of the clergy. “Jesus as the Son of God is the Savior, Healer, and intimate Lover of my soul,” she says in a statement on the clinic’s website. “He invites those He calls to join Him on a personal journey to the Cross. Our entire being is healed and restored (body, soul, and spirit) as we surrender ‘our way’ for ‘His way.’”

Watchdog groups say that the state’s arrangement with Bachmann and Associates is problematic.

Here’s some more of those tea party icons and their lives propped up with farm subsidies.

While the majority of American farmers receive no government money at all, at least 23 current members of congress or their families have received government money for their farms — combining for more than $12 million since 1995 according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group.

The biggest recipient was Rep. Stephen Fincher, a Republican from Frog Jump, Tenn.

While the self-described Tea Party patriot lists his occupation as “farmer” and “gospel singer” in the Congressional Directory, he doesn’t mention that his family has received more than $3 million in farm subsidies from 1995 to 2009, according to the Environmental Working Group.

According to an article last year in Salon, Michelle Bachmann, Charles Grassley, and Sam Brownbeck all get subsidies from the federal government to prop up their businesses.

No one would agree to stop taking subsidies — which is sensible, because if the money’s available, why not take it — but more amusingly some of these Tea Partiers wouldn’t even explicitly say they’d vote to end the subsidies, which are almost universally acknowledged as wasteful spending by experts across the ideological spectrum. Rep. Vicky Hartzler just said “everything should be on the table” and she was open to “starting the discussion,” which is just how lawmakers talk when they refuse to admit that they won’t vote for something they should vote for.

“Anti-government Republicans take lots of free government money” is basically an evergreen story. Chuck Grassley, Sam Brownback, and Michele Bachmann have also benefited from wasteful farm subsidies, even though they all hate the socialism so much. It’s enough to make you sympathize with libertarians, until you watch John Stossel talk about seasteading or something.

Here’s the scoop from TruthDig on how Michelle Bachman’s family basically makes a living from take federal money.

Bachmann, of Minnesota, has spent much of this year agitating against health care reform, whipping up the so-called tea-baggers with stories of death panels and rationed health care. She has called for a revolution against what she sees as Barack Obama’s attempted socialist takeover of America, saying presidential policy is “reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom.”

But data compiled from federal records by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that tracks the recipients of agricultural subsidies in the United States, shows that Bachmann has an inner Marxist that is perfectly at ease with profiting from taxpayer largesse. According to the organization’s records, Bachmann’s family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann’s recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn. Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized—or “socialized”—businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls. These subsidies are at the heart of America’s bizarre planned agricultural economy and as far away from Michele Bachmann’s free-market dream world as Cuba’s free medical system. If American farms such as hers were forced to compete in the global free market, they would collapse.

However, Bachmann doesn’t think other Americans should benefit from such protection and assistance. She voted against every foreclosure relief bill aimed at helping average homeowners (despite the fact that her district had the highest foreclosure rate in Minnesota), saying that bailing out homeowners would be “rewarding the irresponsible while punishing those who have been playing by the rules.” That’s right, the subsidy queen wants the rest of us to be responsible.

It continually amazes me that so many people appear to be vulnerable to the message that  it’s government workers or poor people that benefit from government programs when so many statistics show that most of the largess from federal programs and subsidies go to those that are solidly upper middle class.  What really kills me is that the same people that are waging wars on working people, women, children, and the poor for taking the tax payers’ hard earned cash are the same ones that are really living off the government teat.  My guess is that many corporations–like GE–and individuals–like the Bachmanns–would be scraping around for other forms of incomes if it wasn’t for the funds they receive from the governments they so love to hate.  Hypocrisy this huge should hurt.