Archive for February, 2010

“Welcome to Washington.”

Feb 28, 2010 in Journamalism

Steve Benen delivers a perfect anecdote describing Paul Krugman’s frustration on as the other guests prattled on about D.C. gossip for most of the show.

Look, I realize that not every discussion on a show like this is going to be substantive, sophisticated, and policy focused. Not every post I write for this site is going to highlight critically important issues, either. There’s nothing wrong with including heavier and lighter subjects in the same public affairs forum.

But this panel discussion covered exactly four subjects this morning: health care reform, Charlie Rangel’s ethics problem, David Paterson’s latest troubles, and the fate of the former White House social secretary (and where she’s from, what her clothes looked like, what her next job is likely to be, etc.), which hardly seems relevant to anyone who doesn’t actually attend social events at the White House.

In this same discussion, there was nothing about the jobs bill that passed the Senate this week, nothing about the incredibly important Zazi guilty plea this week (and the fact that it makes Republican talking points look ridiculous), nothing about Jim Bunning single-handedly delaying unemployment insurance for those who need it.

You know, at least with Huffington Post and the rest of the internet, you have so many stories to print and endless pages on which to print them. On televised politics shows meant to bring the talk of the capital to American living rooms, the three or four topics that get talked about in an hour take up a lot of broadcasting real estate. Devoting it to cocktail circuit irrelevancies does Americans interested in good government a disservice.

Hopey —> changey?

Feb 27, 2010 in Politics

Ben Nelson isn’t going to object to reconciliation?

Gosh, it’s almost like the argument that 51 Senators trumps 41 Senators feels defensible. Is he sure he doesn’t want to cower before Republicans a bit more?
I mean, arguing against reconciliation vs. the filibuster because it’s “procedural,” may be so instantly obvious a contradiction that there isn’t enough cover for the “centrists.” Our press would certainly like to join Mr. Nelson in trembling before The Republicans Who Will Say Mean But Bold Things, but that 7 1/2 hour summit was also such an obvious demonstration that the Republicans would accept no middle ground.

Is this Obama’s long game? He’s worn me out so many times, made me keep thinking he was just about to give it up, that he wasn’t fighting…but then he keeps coming back. Hell, he might demand a 12 hour summit next time. At some point, even Republicans have to start realizing they’re getting gamed. Boehner screaming, “It’s a trap!” wasn’t really an attack, it was too fearful. The Republican game is just this: NO. They’re left stalling until November, hoping that they can prevent a victory and then brag about it.

I dunno. I’m almost sure there’ll be another, “Ah, bloody hell…” moment coming soon, but I’m just as tired of being fooled by Obama’s long game. If he pulls this shit off and signs a bill before summer, it’ll be a pretty stiff lesson to the skeptics.

-hw

Just because I gave you money and you did what I wanted doesn’t mean anything!

Feb 27, 2010 in Disappointing Dems, ethics, Politics

Thus is summed up a 305 page report clearing five Democrats and two Republicans on ethics violations for steering federal contracts towards big donors. Yet observe:

In fiscal 2008 alone, the seven lawmakers sponsored $112 million worth of earmarks for clients of the PMA Group while accepting more than $350,000 in contributions from the firm’s lobbyists and its clients, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group.

A $350,000 investment returns $112 million dollars. How could anybody expect corruption to not occur? They could have spent $600,000, or six million, if they felt it would get better results. It’s practically printing money. And when you can move legislators with money, it’s not difficult to make the bribery legal, so these guys get off scott free.

Principle would expect Democrats to stand against this and fight corruption. Even if these seven were a mere statistical fluke, honorable men who simply held the positions that coincidentally led to piles of campaign cash, there’s work to be done here. But such a result is rather implausible. What’s plausible is that it happened, but it’s not different enough from what’s going on with every other politician who has to run without public financing.

Besides, do we really spend much time agonizing over whether mob bosses pay hit men to kill others, or whether they simply give money to men who kill the ones they hate?

-jb

Hot, isn’t it?

Feb 27, 2010 in Israel

Andrew Sullivan, who’s spent his whole life lovingly defending the right of Israel to exist, realizes what happens when you start disagreeing with Israel hawks. And he’s getting the flak from The New Republic.

Just when I was thinking Jonathan Chait was a pretty impressive guy, he goes and provides some cover for Leon Wieseltier’s baseless and almost campy accusation, suggesting there’s some actual substance there.

I think it’s like music sometimes. I used to listen to almost 75% rap…back in 1990. Not after 1993, when “hot” albums turned out to be lacking. The innovation had mostly transpired. Rap had stagnated. Like anybody who listened to 2 Live Crew, lowest common denominator wasn’t the issue, it was the music. Somewhere along the line the rap community had gone off in a different direction. Whereas I wanted awesome samples and dope-ass rhymin’, rap became about studio-produced pap with unmemorable rhymes and rhythms.

(Detractors: talk all the smack you want, then go back and listen to Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing or Straight Outta Compton, then realize you are wrong)

Andrew likes old school conservatives and can’t stand the racket these rightwingers are making nowadays. Obviously the racket will have its defenders, but he always has the upper hand in debate.

So they call him an anti-Semite. I’m pretty sure the “emotional” and “feelings as ideas” critiques are thinly veiled queer remarks, although Leon Wieseltier and Jonathan Chait would surely resent such an implication…

I’ve always engaged Israel hawks and come out just fine. Sometimes the anti-semite card has been played against me, but I shamed my accusers. I confound them, and leave them sputtering, because the truth is I’m a pretty big fan of Jewish people and I’m quite sure Israel would be an oasis in the desert if it weren’t for those pesky Palestinians living there. Really, if Hamas were building schools instead of bombing, life would probably improve. If Palestinians didn’t hate Jewish people so much, they’d start selling them property in their cities and provide goods and luxuries, get them to move in among them, assimilate, then claim their equal rights. Seriously, folks, Israel’s a western Democracy (for now), they can’t resist a real pursuit for equality.

So that position simply cannot be reconciled with any anti-Semitism. There isn’t an ounce of it in my bones. And my philosophy seeks to assiduously scrub every trace of bias, whether Palestinian or Israeli, which leaves me pissing off both sides at times. I’m so zoned out on it all, just approaching it like an alien observing one group of humans interacting with another.

Andrew will be fine. The good thing about reason is that you can feel confidence in your ideas, a sense of security. “It’s okay, I’m covered by Logic.” His positions are purely centrist, in a good way, and virtually everybody except TNR and the rightwingers they’re enabling who knows Andrew knows it’s a laughable claim. Most American Jews, especially, understand and would hardly disagree with much of what Andrew says. On top of that, most Israelis who aren’t Likudniks know it too. And those who aren’t quietly dreaming of ethnic cleansing.

-hw

Medicare Fraud 101

Feb 26, 2010 in Politics

It’s always good any time Republicans like Mike Pence start harping about Medicare fraud to keep in mind that one of their biggest supporters, Rick Scott, was CEO of a company that paid the highest fines in history for billions of dollars worth of Medicare fraud.

The effort has alarmed many Democrats and liberal health-care advocates, who are pushing back with attacks highlighting Scott’s ouster as head of the Columbia/HCA health-care company amid a fraud investigation in the 1990s. The firm eventually pleaded guilty to charges that it overbilled state and federal health plans, paying a record $1.7 billion in fines…

Scott, 56, seems unfazed by such criticism, emphasizing that he was never charged with any wrongdoing and that other health-care companies were also fined for overbilling problems. A lawyer with no formal medical training, Scott built Columbia/HCA into the largest U.S. health-care company before he was ousted by the board of directors in 1997. He was also once a partner in the Texas Rangers with George W. Bush. Scott now runs an investment firm and owns, among other things, a chain of walk-in urgent-care clinics in Florida called Solantic.

-mg

I still have no idea why people think Rush Limbaugh is a racist.

Feb 26, 2010 in Racism

Holy crap.

I just really can’t imagine speaking to black people with this much contempt, but preaching it to millions on the air?

Is this the jiu-jitsu moment for Obama?

Feb 26, 2010 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives, Health Care

Holy smokes. He’s allowed the Republicans to get behind the summit idea and got them in front of the camera again. Niiice judo flip.

If it was Obama’s intention to make clear to the public that the Republicans simply were not going to play ball at all, no matter what, then it qualifies as a cast-iron success.

Which suggest that Obama has learned the central method to handling rightwing talking points: Stick Republicans in a room and watch them sweat. Make them look for a retort. Exhaust their lines. Undermine their paradigms.

Look, folks, the only real critique of Obama is from the left. The GOP’s new star fiscal conservative is Paul Ryan, who voted for Medicare Part D. It’s rhetorical posturing that will translate into a party-line vote for the next Republican President.

The critique from the right is simply too staggered with money and propaganda to take seriously. America has to move forward.

As the Bush advisor said, “We’ll make history and you’ll be trying to analyze it, and just when you figured it out, we’ll make history again!”

And how can one do worse than Bush?

This article suggests Democrats may finally be convinced they’ve earned the political cover. Will that be true? There’s a bizarre reverse effect where the longer this goes on, the worse it becomes for Democrats to turn on the bill. Though they keep trying…

-hw

Tort reform: The silver bullet.

Feb 25, 2010 in Politics

Except that it isn’t.

One thing the issue of tort reform does do is give Republicans another opportunity to use trial lawyers as a punching bag. Whoops, I mean trIALlawyers. See, it all depends upon how you say it. If you say it without emphasizing the word “trIAL” it loses maximum impact. Anyway, it’s familiar territory for Republicans because they used it extensively to attack John Edwards who, incidentally, was also regarded as an effete lady boy, another favorite jeer fat, impotent old men like Limbaugh use to hector librulz. (I’m guessing those insinuations aren’t working so well now that it’s common knowledge that he knocked up some camerawoman.) If it weren’t for trIAL lawyers, Big Government wouldn’t have robbed us of our constitutional right to bear lawn darts, eat lead paint or lose the ability to hold a job after a quack doctor blinded or maimed us permanently. Valerie Lakey’s mistake was getting disemboweled by a faulty swimming pool pump. John Edward’s mistake was representing her in court.

Attack of the Republican Elitists!

Feb 25, 2010 in Politics

Jeb Bush criticizes Sarah Palin’s lack of intellectual curiosity.

Bill O’Reilly says that she needs to go to college.

Why can’t they just let Sarah be Sarah?

Democrats, listen up:

Feb 24, 2010 in Disappointing Dems, Economy

These guys are telling you how to do something right and get re-elected for it:

Marvin Bohn, (pictured at right) a 57-year-old former executive chef in Ohio, is another American who wants to work for his money. He’s been getting unemployment checks since June 2008.

“You keep wondering what’s gone wrong. Is there something wrong with you? You apply for jobs you’re overqualified for and you don’t get ’em, and you get chided for making too much on unemployment.”
Story continues below

By contrast, a government job sounds good to him. “Instead of receiving the unemployment checks, even if it’s a fill-in job, it’d be doing good,” he said. “I would be very happy to do that.”

Christopher Hardin of Valdese, N.C., (pictured at right) said he, too, would jump at the opportunity to work rather than put up with the indignity of a futile job search in return for unemployment benefits. “Being 55, I haven’t been able to find any work,” said Hardin, whose most recent job was loading and unloading trucks for an auction house. “I apply for jobs all the time. I don’t get any return email or phone calls.”

Of course. People like to look at the classifieds, see a good job with decent pay, apply, and get hired. Americans work. These guys are sitting around waiting for somebody to put them to use. Of course…

Blackburn, Hardin and Bohn — and however many other Americans want the government to put them back to work, too — don’t have many champions on Capitol Hill or in the White House.

Democratic leaders, increasingly worried that members of their party will get swept out of office in the November elections, are desperate to do something about job creation. But the packages they are seriously considering are a mishmash of ineffective or inefficient measures, distinguished only by their political safety.

Yeah, because they’re awesome that way. Start out compromising with Republicans before you even get into the ring, and then act helpless when they pull you further to the right than you wanted to go.

ACT: Win. SIT AROUND AND GET YOUR THROATS CUT BY PROCEDURE: Go down in infamy as the cowardly Democrats who fell down when the country needed them.

Republicans have overextended their bullshit. It’s been a year and they haven’t cleaned up their act at all. Though if this is Obama’s ground game for November, it might be a good time to start kicking it in. Reconcile, attach a jobs bill to the defense bill, issue an executive order, but above all get people working again, like we did once before. Guys, Roosevelt got elected four times.

-hw

They don’t make the government like they used to.

Feb 24, 2010 in Politics

What we are constantly told we can’t have, we once had.

The Great Depression did not begin with predatory mortgage lending, but economic conditions predictably led to a foreclosure crisis. More than 250,000 families lost their homes to foreclosure in 1932. And every day brought a thousand new foreclosures in the early months of 1933.

As part of its initial legislative barrage on the economic crisis, the Roosevelt administration created the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (“HOLC”) in June of 1933, just three months after entering office. The HOLC purchased distressed mortgages from banks, and then negotiated new, more affordable mortgages with the homeowner. Before it ran out of capital in 1935, the HOLC purchased a little more than one million mortgages, or about one in six of the urban home mortgages. (There was a similar program for farm mortgages).

Homeowners applied to the HOLC to buy their mortgage, so the HOLC was able to pick and choose salvageable mortgages. HOLC mortgages required less equity than banks required (20 percent instead of 35 percent) and had lower interest rates (five percent instead of eight percent). The HOLC was indulgent of late or missed payments, and patiently worked with struggling borrowers to prevent default. Still, times were hard and almost 20 percent of HOLC’s mortgages ended in foreclosure.

When the last mortgage was paid off in 1951, the HOLC had turned a slight profit. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., wrote that the HOLC “averted the threatened collapse of the real estate market and enabled financial institutions to return to the mortgage-lending business. … Most important of all, by enabling thousands of Americans to save their homes, it strengthened their stake both in the existing order and in the New Deal. Probably no single measure consolidated so much middle-class support for the Administration.”

Geithner and the elitist Republicans who would block such a measure today can go to Hell.

-hw

Terrorism the Tea Party can get behind.

Feb 23, 2010 in Politics

My money is still on Limbaugh but it didn’t take these ghouls long before Dilbert’s last plane ride became a symbol of protest.

The way they see it, “he did the ultimate flipping of the bird to the man,” said JJ MacNab, a Maryland-based insurance analyst who is writing a book about tax protesters. “He stuck it to the man, and they love that.”

It is not surprising Stack would be portrayed as a hero on fringe Web sites such as stormfront.org, a forum for white supremacists. But admirers also are expressing their appreciation on mainstream sites such as Facebook, where a fan page supporting some of the things he said in his six-page manifesto had more than 2,000 members Monday.

Thank Allah that Stack wasn’t a Muslim or this story would have played out a lot differently. Has anyone heard of Stack being described as a suicide bomber? Has the liberal media been condemned as terrorist sympathizers for not condemning him fast enough? Has the president been accused of going soft on the enemy for not responding to the attack publicly? How many hours of air time has Fox News devoted to delving into the past of Stack and asking the administration why he wasn’t stopped before he decided to martyr himself?

-mg

“He should have focused on the economy.”

Feb 23, 2010 in Beltway-itis, Clueless Conservatives

Yglesias stops and takes a look at this never-quite-explained meme:

Are there any centrist Democrats or moderate Republicans who are going to claim that had Obama backed off on health care they would have voted for substantial additional short-term stimulus measures? Do any sources at the Federal Reserve think that had Obama not attempted health reform that Ben Bernanke would have implemented a more expansionary agenda? As far as I know, the answer to both of those questions is “no” so nothing was actually traded off when Obama decided to focus on health care. But even though everyone in the media is very interested in second-guessing Obama these days, nobody seems interested in looking in to these issues.

Obama and the Democrats were certainly a bit busy this past year. After all, Republicans managed to filibuster 80% of the bills Congress tried passing. Of course, I would have wanted a robust public works bill last year, but that would have been filibustered also. So what exactly are people talking about? As usual, so much noise, so few solutions.

-hw

Let’s start a pool.

Feb 23, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives

How many tea party folks liked Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story?

I got ten on “7-10%.” Given that 70% will probably refuse to watch it outright, I’d advise you to shoot low.

If you actually watch it, though, it nails all the things that are making them unhappy, but since teabaggers are mostly just Republicans, all they can come up with for a solution is, “Uh, no, just lower taxes CAPITALISM RULES OBAMAISTEHSOCIALIST!!!”

-hw

But I thought it would be okay…

Feb 22, 2010 in War Crimes

Greenwald sums up the DOJ report on Yoo/Bybee et al:

That Bush officials have to cling to the harsh condemnations of Margolis as “vindication” reveals just how wretched and lawless their conduct was. Essentially, the current posture of the U.S. to the world is this:

Yes, we implemented a worldwide torture regime that we justified with lawyers’ memoranda that were false, wrong, shoddy, lawless, sloppy and extremist, but because those lawyers were such warped radicals, they probably believed what they were saying at the time, so we’re going to declare that we had the right to do what we did and are shielded from all consequences, even though we’ve signed treaties agreeing to prosecute anyone who authorizes torture and constantly demand that other nations prosecute their own torturers. Besides, we have important things to do and so we want to Look Forward, not Backward.

I guess we hanged war criminals because they lacked sufficient conviction? Ah, well. Our system is completely gamed.

-hw

How dare the president defy Rush Limbaugh.

Feb 22, 2010 in Politics

Picked up on this Limbaugh quote from a certain Iowa blogger who trolls this site periodically:

“This health care plan is being prepared in defiance. This health care plan is being revived to ram it down your throat and my throat and everybody’s throats to show us who’s boss.” – Rush Limbaugh

In case you’re wondering, that’s all the actual blog post consists of, just a quote from Rush Limbaugh. Aside from the dumb simplicity, it answers the question definitely as to who does all the thinking for these guys. From his doughy ass to their mealy mouths. But the quote is a good example of what drives Republicans. Any action by government seen as going against their tribal desires is described as an act of defiance regardless of who holds the majority. More than that, it’s often characterized as an act of treason by craven usurpers.

Health care reform deserves a simple up or down vote because voters knew in 2006 and 2008 that the Democratic party intended to enact real reform. Democrats campaigned on health care reform during both elections and it’s been a part of the party platform for years. They didn’t elect Democrats in huge majorities to sit on their hands and bide the wishes of Republican lawmakers whose only desire is to see Obama fail. They haven’t even pretended to be interested in suggesting any meaningful ideas that would help solve our countries health care issues. Jim DeMint expressed this sentiment clearly when he stated that health care reform would be Obama’s Waterloo. That’s not bipartisanship. That’s simple obstructionism. And every bill that has been proposed over the past year has been a dilution of a compromise and still Republicans are ready to rely on a procedural trick to block any and all efforts.

There’s a billboard in Cedar Rapids that says “How’s That Hope and Change Working Out For Ya?” Not bad for the person that can afford to erect politically charged billboards on the highway I would guess. But what bitter, well-heeled Republican advertisers fail to understand is this; voters aren’t upset because Obama is defying the will of conservatives and the center they unscrupulously lay claim to. They’re upset because he hasn’t repudiated Republicans and stomped on their heads enough.

-mg

They know what they know.

Feb 21, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives

The New Rules are good, but wait til Maher makes the comparison between the Tea Partiers and cults :

In a recent poll almost ninety percent of Tea Baggers said that they thought taxes had either gone up or stayed the same under Obama. Only two percent thought they went down. But the reality is taxes have gone down for ninety five percent of working families taxes went down.

Think about that. Only two percent of the people in a “movement” about taxes named after a tax revolt have the slightest idea what’s going on…with taxes.

Transcription from Crooks & Liars, though I swear I had the idea to blog this clip before I saw it there.

As one strips away the claimed motivations of the teabaggers, the list of possible explanations just grows darker and uglier.

-hw

If you keep killing terrorists we can’t torture them!

Feb 20, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives, Torture, War Crimes

I personally care about the innocents killed in Obama’s drone attacks, but rightwingers don’t, so his steady success rate in whacking terrorists and Taliban leaders (the two are not the same) is painting them into a corner on a stepladder:

“That doesn’t mean I think they are not illegitimate,” he added. “No, we have every right to kill the other side’s warriors. But at what cost? When we do not have an effective detention policy the only option we have is to kill them before we can detain them. And if we don’t detain them, we don’t know what they know and what they are up to.”

And the only way we can know what they know according to the right, despite all evidence, is torture.

Marc Thiessen’s attempt to justify torture as something consistent with Catholic doctrine, which specifically forbids torture, has been sparking a firestorm, on the Daily Dish and, shockingly, at National Review, where a writer named Mike Potemra has broken from the pack and admitted what anybody who wasn’t mainlining Republican doctrine already knew, that waterboarding is torture (the Washington Post’s shark-jumping addition of Thiessen to its op-ed page has been a story unto itself). Andrew Sullivan guides Potemra toward the obvious:

If an American merely suspected of being a spy were captured in Iran, if he were then shackled in a stress position for hours on end, if he were tied to a post in a yard in freezing conditions and regularly doused with cold water and beaten (as happened under Stanley McChrystal’s Camp Nama in Iraq), if he were slammed against a ply-wood wall repeatedly by a collar around his neck, if he were strapped to a waterboard and nearly drowned 183 times, and then confessed that he was indeed a spy, and was planning to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, would the New York Times say he was subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques” and that his confession roved that those techniques worked? Would National Review? Would Dick Cheney?

Look, Bush/Cheney introduced and legitimized torture, and it’s become part of the Republican Party’s plank. Intellectual honesty just doesn’t fit into their calculus anymore. It’s a pretty natural result of the rightwinger’s authoritarian lust for power and control. “Six of one, half dozen of the other!” so-called-centrists need to step off the balancing beam to Hell.

-hw

Happy Friday!

Feb 19, 2010 in Politics

WBC Tries to Protest at Twitter from Ed Hunsinger on Vimeo.

Oooh, burn!

Feb 19, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives

Sarah Palin’s comical quest to attack anybody who seems liberal making retard jokes (but not Republicans like Rush Limbaugh) is some serious weak sauce:

My name is Andrea Fay Friedman. I was born with Down syndrome. I played the role of Ellen on the “Extra Large Medium” episode of Family Guy that was broadcast on Valentine’s day. Although they gave me red hair on the show, I am really a blonde. I also wore a red wig for my role in ” Smudge” but I was a blonde in “Life Goes On”. I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line “I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska” was very funny. I think the word is “sarcasm”.

In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.


-Ms. Friedman

See, liberals understand that even people with Down’s Syndrome are smarter than Sarah Palin. Sarah has always used Trig as a political prop and this is nothing more than profitable concern-trolling from her. And it takes a special kind of retard not to see that: A Republican.

-hw

Holy smokes.

Feb 19, 2010 in Culture

g-speak overview 1828121108 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

I am glued to the brilliance of human invention.

-jb

Sounds like Dilbert’s tax scam got busted.

Feb 18, 2010 in Straight-up madness, Stupidity, WTF?

When I read this part of Joseph Stack’s rambling farewell letter the alarm bells went off:

Some friends introduced me to a group of people who were having ‘tax code’ readings and discussions. In particular, zeroed in on a section relating to the wonderful “exemptions” that make institutions like the vulgar, corrupt Catholic Church so incredibly wealthy. We carefully studied the law (with the help of some of the “best”, high-paid, experienced tax lawyers in the business), and then began to do exactly what the “big boys” were doing (except that we weren’t steeling from our congregation or lying to the government about our massive profits in the name of God). We took a great deal of care to make it all visible, following all of the rules, exactly the way the law said it was to be done.

I’ve had my share of dodgy friends in the past so I’ve heard dozens of stories that start out with some sort of variation of “all I was trying to do was…” in defense of something that turned out to be at best unscrupulous behavior. At worst it was a recounting of an unhappy run-in with the law. Maybe I’m cynical but the above passage has the right amount of opacity and derision to indicate that there’s more to the story than just Stack getting hosed by the IRS for having innocent ambitions.

Tragically, they always gotta try and take somebody out with them.

Feb 18, 2010 in Politics

Any bets on who will be the first to blame this on Obama and turn this nut into an anti-government hero? I’m guessing Limbaugh since the field of competition for craziest right-wing media crazy is pretty crowded and simply deriding apostates as liberals and liars doesn’t cut the ratings mustard these days. You really gotta go full-metal paranoid to make it into the headlines.

Must be nice.

Feb 18, 2010 in Politics

Having your own cable news network devoted to your party.

Spend Spend Spend

Feb 18, 2010 in Politics

GOP Senators top the list for congressional earmarks.

What Republicans don’t want you to know about your health insurance premiums:

Feb 18, 2010 in Health Care

They’ve skyrocketed in the past ten years and they’re going nuclear soon:

California officials say 700,000 households face increases averaging 25 percent overall and as high as 39 percent for some.

The HHS report found that those numbers are in line with increases sought by insurers in other states – at a time of robust profit growth for the companies and a lack of competition in most states.

For example, Anthem in Maine was denied an 18.5 percent increase last year and is now requesting that state regulators approve a 23 percent rise. Maine is home to Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, Republican moderates whose support Obama would like to have for his health care legislation.

Michigan’s Blue Cross Blue Shield plan requested approval for premium increases of 56 percent in 2009. And in the state of Washington, rates for some individual health plans increased by up to 40 percent until regulators cracked down.

Other states cited in the report were Connecticut, Oregon and Rhode Island.

I don’t know, do you think it could be the Republican plan to try getting back in office so they can pass essentially the same thing as the Democratic health care reform bill and take the credit? That if they actually had the power they crave so much, they’d be able to look at it and say, “Oh, wait, it’s already completely compromised to please us”? It’s already Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan with some cost control seed programs, so if he’s elected it shouldn’t be a big maneuver for him, should it?

Any way you come at it, the plane is diving into the mountain, and Republicans are fighting over how to properly fasten our seat belts. It’s already spooked several Democrats, including Diane Feinstein, into supporting the reconciliation deal with the House and getting reform efforts going.

Of course, watch those expected premium increases come along and then tune into BeckPalinLimbaughbots to hear how it’s all Obama’s fault. They got millions to make off the destruction of the middle class.

-hw

Got anti-incumbent fever?

Feb 17, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives

Get rid of these two dumb bastards. I’m sorry, but if you’ve heard anything from these guys that didn’t sound like Forrest Gump on acid, you might be high on something yourself.

The best line these guys have been able to come up with is that Obama wasn’t televising health care deliberations, and now that he’s happily obliged, they’re busy stammering and whining about “traps” and now they swear it’s a jobs summit they want televised.

Until they don’t, I guess. Of course, it’s just another football to pull away as soon as Democrats try to kick it. Anybody who thinks otherwise at this point is either blinkered or naive.

It’s been tough times for most people in this country, and I’ve only recently managed to pull myself out of a financial tailspin (contrary to popular rumor, liberals are quite good at pulling themselves up by their bootstraps…for a good example, check out Barack Obama’s life story, then contrast it with George W. Bush). Yet the only perceptible thought going on in the heads of Boehner, Cantor, or any other Republican politician has been, “If I just keep screaming NO and blocking anything Democrats try, people will be so pissed they’ll throw out more Democrats than Republicans, and then-”

Nothing exists past that point. These guys got nothing. They only know they want more Republicans in office. Who even knows why any more? Like I said, have any of you actually listened to these weak sauce fools speak lately? Any liberal worth their salt is a bit raw over Obama’s centrism, for which he gets no recognition, but he’s worth more than every Republican in Congress put together, and that’s as simple as it gets.

2010: Clear out the Republican roadblockers. Give the Democrats a chance to actually pass a bill without 40+ Republicans constipating the process like the miserable clump of compressed turds they’ve been. Nothing else makes a lick of sense, and it’s gonna take more than “I HATE INCUMBENTS!!!” to fix what ails this country. I mean, if any of you can tell me of doctors who deal with a gall bladder by replacing the heart, lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys, by all means. But things don’t work that way. Wake up, folks!

-hw

Tea Party shocker!

Feb 17, 2010 in Racism

Rich, old, white, Republican men dislike Barack Obama. In other words, real Americans.

Because Republicans and Democrats are all the same anyway, right?

Feb 17, 2010 in teh gay

Why elections matter.

Graduating a sophomore.

Feb 17, 2010 in Education

Can anybody explain why their junior and senior years were really that necessary? I’m sure it was a fantastic time for Johnny Football Hero but for most of us we couldn’t wait for it to be over so we could finally get out of town and go to college.

An improving unemployment picture.

Feb 17, 2010 in Politics

I’m glad to see the administration getting it’s act together and pushing information like this out there. The Obama team’s reluctance to utilize their OFA channels to stay on top of messaging has been disappointing to say the least. When you cut taxes for 95% of the country and only 12% believe that you have they’ve only got themselves to blame because Republicans certainly aren’t going to make the case for you.

The first day of the rest of my life.

Feb 15, 2010 in Britpop, Music, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Synth pop gets a BBC documentary.

How RUDE of Maddow to point out Aaron Schock’s blatant hypocrisy!

Feb 14, 2010 in Beltway-itis, Clueless Conservatives, Journamalism, Librulz, Media, Outstanding Democrats

This is the type of behavior that gets you called “rude” and “shrill” by Republicans. Maddow pointed out that Schock was taking credit for stimulus dollars locally that he publicly derided in DC.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The chances that David Gregory would have called out Rep. Schock on this type of hypocrisy is precisely zero. As he’s stated before, it’s not a journalists job to raise scrutiny over the claims of politicians. That’s why it’s always enjoyable to see an actual liberal on a Sunday morning talk show who isn’t deathly afraid of being thought of as unreasonable by David Broder.

Monster truck rallies and “state’s rights” advocacy.

Feb 14, 2010 in Politics

A recent monster truck rally at the Five Season’s Center in Cedar Rapids was covered by the local Gazette newspaper with this photo featured on the front page. Predictably, the comments section atracted the usual “it doesn’t mean what you think it means!” rationalizers. As one commenter correctly pointed out, the Confederate flag means exactly what it’s intended to invoke; the belief that state’s should have the right to legalize human bondage.

Maybe if rightwingers could demonstrate basic science skills, they’d be taken seriously?

Feb 13, 2010 in Politics

Anybody talking about the snowstorms disproving global warming is either a huckster or a fool, plain and simple.  Either they know the science and are trying to spread propaganda to counter it, or they simply don’t know the science. Help me out on a third option if you can think of one…

-hw

Frog jumps out of water.

Feb 13, 2010 in Politics

A Republican Senator breaks from the pack.

GOP Sen. Bob Corker said he “absolutely” would be willing to buck his party to pass a bill cracking down on financial market abuses and creating new rules to prevent firms from becoming “too big to fail.”

The Tennessean, who is in the middle of his first Senate term, and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd of Connecticut, announced Thursday that they would negotiate the wide-ranging legislation. The move came after Dodd reached an impasse with the panel’s top Republican.

Corker, in an interview to run on C-SPAN on Sunday, suggested the regulatory overhaul discussions on Capitol Hill have not always been in good faith. “Do you want to get to ‘yes’ or do you want to get to ‘no’ as quickly as possible?” Corker said, suggesting he believes he and Dodd can craft legislation that receives “overwhelming” support from members of both parties.

Even if this is only for an instant, it’s an important event. Republicans are going to have a hard time in November if Democrats actually choose to campaign against them on the issues. Being devoted servants of Wall Street in today’s times isn’t an easy sell. There’s gonna be a whole mess of double talk.

-hw

Meme zombies.

Feb 12, 2010 in Politics

Morally and intellectually barren Limbaugh continues to blame the mortgage crisis on the CRA. How long before the staggering corpses start shambling onto right-wing blogs again?

(Oh, and pointing out that blaming the CRA is an obvious racist dog-whistle is actually worse than blaming the mortgage crisis on black people, btw. Thanks.)

The people say go forward.

Feb 11, 2010 in Politics

What are Democrats in the house waiting for, again?  Passing the Senate health care reform bill is morally right, popular, and political gold.  Everybody knows it’s a significant step forward in coverage and patient safety, especially the Republicans trying to prevent it from happening.

How’s everybody doing tonight?  My name is Henry Whistler and it’s time to party.  And I’m proud to join the ultimate blog for Iowans who like to party.  I’ve butted heads with both Mike and JB, literally, because life in small town Iowa is so boring people have nothing else to do but hit each other.  Talking about the weather gets old.

-Henry Whistler

Endless circles.

Feb 10, 2010 in Stupidity

The GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because…

p.s. …the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because the GOP adores and loves Sarah Palin and sees her as their leading presidential candidate because Democrats constantly lampoon and make fun of how stupid she is because…

It’s always about the hate.

Feb 10, 2010 in teh gay

What was never hidden was found out: The Prop 8 trial judge is gay.

Of course, a gay judge would be biased, but a straight one wouldn’t be, right?

Or he’d just be biased in “the right direction,” which the anti-gay crusaders need since they’re blatantly flailing to make their case on anything resembling evidence or reason. Since the whole point of Prop 8 and anti-gay-marriage activists is that homosexuality is evil and sinful, a loss will simply confirm all their beliefs, to them. The opinions of homosexuals are of zero concern to them, as gays are “corrupted.”

In any case, his actual record as a judge has nothing to do with it.

-jb

English pop stars have difficulty stopping the awesome.

Feb 10, 2010 in Music, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

I thought Pulp’s last album was a pleasant farewell that betrayed the great group’s diminishing steam after twenty-plus years together, but Jarvis’ solo career feels completely vital and alive. If it weren’t for the grey in his beard, who’d know he’d aged a day?

-jb

And nobody’s lives changed.

Feb 10, 2010 in teh gay

Gay marriage ceasing to become an issue of interest for Iowans.

It fills us with great pride that our home state is a leader on this issue and has conquered the fear. People are realizing that if you’re not gay, it really has nothing to do with you. And (ZOMG WHAT ABOUT) the children are doing just fine. This kind of live and let live mentality is what I learned growing up in Iowa (though we spent no shortage of time in school calling each other fags, but so goes it with kids…if there’s less of that in the future, then children stand to benefit).

Hat tip to Sullivan for the news.

-jb

Assertions, assertions…

Feb 08, 2010 in Health Care

Say whatever you want about Fareed Zakaria, the man can generally lay pretense to being well informed. Then he writes something like this:

True, the Republican Party has decided to be utterly uncooperative (although on health care Obama never really reached out to them with serious compromises).

Great job paying attention, Zakaria. When’s the vote on single payer scheduled again? How’s that public option compromise doing?

-jb

I hate to keep stealing Sullivan’s links…

Feb 08, 2010 in Politics

But this is essential reading for any person who likes the Tea Party rhetoric who isn’t just a party-line Republican:

So please, for your own sake, for your family’s sake and the sake of your children, stop. Stop demanding that problems not get fixed. Stop demanding that you keep getting screwed. Stay angry — you should be angry — but start directing that anger toward the system that’s screwing you over and taking money out of your pocket. Start directing that anger toward fixing problems instead of toward making sure they never get fixed. Instead of demanding that Congress oppose health care reform so that you never, ever, get another pay raise, start demanding that they pass health care reform, as soon as possible. Because until they do, you’re just going to keep on getting screwed.

And it’s going to be that much worse knowing that you brought this on yourself — that you demanded it.

It never ceases to amaze me how absurd and irrational life can be. The recession is making people angry, but the loudest segment has no understanding of what caused it, and no desire to do anything to make it better. Bush and Republican de-regulation theology led to a financial Hiroshima, but they’re angry at Obama. The stimulus was one-third tax cuts and was responsible for putting American growth back in the positive, but the teabaggers have convinced themselves that it mostly went to waste. American taxpayers were asked to pay a lot less during the Bush years, while Bush put everything on the credit card. Meanwhile the cost of everything else, from college to health care, skyrocketed, but we’re told that we’re, “Taxed Enough Already!!!”

Meanwhile, Republicans and “centrist” Dems in D.C. are busy making sure that Wall Street is protected and that no serious job bill gets off the ground. The cost controls in the HCR bill are seed programs that will take years to significantly germinate, appeasing entrenched interests (they may agree that change needs to happen, but making them seed programs slows the process and allows for adaptation). Mortgage readjustments have been squashed and withered. Bonuses continue to flow unabated among those who got us in this mess in the first place. At every juncture, it seems that lobbyists end up dictating what happens.

And who’s there to get their backs? Republicans. Who are the angry people yammering about deficits and unemployment telling us to vote for? Republicans.

The two things just don’t fit together. Never have, but this is the ultimate refutation.

As I mentioned before, there isn’t a populist or problem-solving bone in the Tea Party. Sarah Palin gives a $100K speech filled with empty platitudes while the Tea Party Convention ended up being about the cultural stuff. Sullivan:

They want their country back. That’s what they tell us. I watched a CNN segment where one woman explicitly described Obama as Satan’s agent. And the biggest applause of the Palin speech was her reference to children with special needs, her brilliant way of telling the base that she is a real pro-lifer and not a fake one. That’s why she hauls little Trig everywhere she goes. He’s a pro-life prop. A special needs child would be kept at home, cared for intently, and out of the limelight.

This is about Christianism, permanent war against Islam, rounding up illegals (did you hear Tancredo?) and a culture war against the cities and “unreal Americans”. Unreal means not Christianist.

It’s the GOP base, period. Bush’s credit card presidency didn’t bother them at all. There are no policy proposals that will satisfy them. They just want Sarah Palin signing the bills, someone they personally identify with more.

Here’s a hint though, folks: People like Obama more than Palin. And always will. Republicans can keep liking her harder to piss off the liberal commie homos, but it’s not going to make her more likable or impressive to those of us who aren’t expecting the Rapture in the next twenty years. She’s a celebrity, fine, but whose fault is it that she thinks she can be President someday? Who has got the brass gonads to break it to her gently? Just say, “Oh, you’d make a good governor, Sarah! Oops, I mean, Fox News personality…” Everybody else looks at her and sees a bumbling fool. Oh, yeah, she’s common American for you: She’s that nice lady mayor who ran up a bunch of city debt and then had to quit being Governor because it was too boring.

Those of us who are actually concerned about getting something real done in D.C. have one real option: keep voting for solid mainstream Democrats who are supporting reform. The Republicans haven’t changed and never will. They’re a 41% block of permanent corporate power over how our country operates. The “centrist” Dems are just craven politicians who cave the instant Republicans raise their hackles. If you’ve got a filibustering Republican in office, you had best think about getting him/her out as soon as possible. The old policies are still hampering us because the old policymakers are still holding the reins.

And you, our everyday normal American, are the last one they give a damn about. You’ll be unemployed and foreclosed, and you’ll get a nugget of wisdom about the “invisible hand of the free market” when you’re on your last dollar. Then where will you go?

-jb

GOP sailing pretty far out to sea.

Feb 07, 2010 in Politics

If Reagan were alive today, would he serve as a moderating influence on the GOP, or would he be singing with the choir while ignoring his record? Whatever the case, his actual governing record wouldn’t pass the Republican purity test:

And what were those principles, exactly? No. 1—according to the resolution—was “smaller government, smaller national debt, lower deficits and lower taxes.” Let’s take those from the top. Smaller government: Federal employment grew by 61,000 during Reagan’s presidency—in part because Reagan created a whole new cabinet department, the department of veterans affairs. (Under Bill Clinton, by contrast, federal employment dropped by 373,000). Smaller deficits and debt: Both nearly tripled on Reagan’s watch. Lower taxes: Although Reagan muscled through a major tax cut in 1981, he followed up by raising taxes in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1986. In 1983, in fact, he not only raised payroll taxes; he raised them to pay for Social Security and Medicare. Let’s put this in language today’s tea-baggers can understand: Reagan raised taxes to pay for government-run health care.

Then there’s plank number five: Reaganite candidates must “oppos[e] amnesty for illegal immigrants.” Really? Because if you look up the word “amnesty” in Black’s Law Dictionary, you’ll find a reference to the 1986 bill that Reagan signed, which ended up granting amnesty to 2.7 million illegal immigrants.

Then there’s foreign policy. Plank number six demands that candidates back the surges in Iraq and Afghanistan. But what did Reagan do in his biggest confrontation with jihadist terror? When Hezbollah murdered 241 U.S. servicemen in Beirut in 1983, the Gipper didn’t surge; he withdrew the remaining American troops, and fast. Plank number 7 calls for “effective [read military] action to eliminate” Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs. But Reagan condemned Israel’s 1981 preventive strike against an Iraqi nuclear reactor. And plank number nine requires steadfast opposition to abortion. Yet two of Reagan’s three Supreme Court nominees voted to uphold Roe v. Wade. Turns out this Reagan guy wasn’t really that Reaganite after all.

Serves as a fairly useful reminder while Republicans are busy screeching about how radical and leftist Obama is. What they end up doing is making being a radical leftist sound like a pretty good thing.

-jb

Pork forever.

Feb 07, 2010 in Politics

I’m not reflexively opposed to pork. It’s a tiny, tiny slice of the pie, and John McCain’s campaign promise to balance the deficit by slashing pork was simply sad and funny. One state’s pork is another state’s well-targeted economic stimulus, so it’s hardly evident that eliminating pork would have a net positive effect.

That said, Richard Shelby, Republican of Alabama, is holding the Senate hostage on (yes, I’m going to join the bandwagon and add some emphasis here) all, all, ALL of Obama’s nominees, totaling seventy, until he gets two pork projects for Alabama. Yep, one Senator can do this. Yes, all standards have flown out the window.

This comes after Obama pointed out to the House Republicans in last week’s historic public trouncing that cutting spending can be difficult when every representative has their pet projects.

I’m pretty sure this wins the Blagojevich/Duke Cunningham award for 2010. So far, anyway. There’s an election approaching…but how can Republicans reconcile this kind of behavior with asking voters to believe a word they say about fiscal responsibility?

I think it’s simply become irrefutable that Republicans aren’t ready to govern nowadays. We’ve been stonewalled enough by the Republican minority as it is, but if they signal that they’re going to make every single Republican Senator a one-person blockade, electing any Republican who’s betrothed to the tea partiers is unsafe.

-jb

Rahm’s apology.

Feb 07, 2010 in Politics

They’d be embarrassed if they actually cared.

Feb 07, 2010 in Politics

Palin reads the answers to questions off of her hand:

Now we know how she made it through college.

It does sum up rather nicely the depth of conservative thought; one word bullet points written on your hand.

-mg

More disgusting liberal condescension.

Feb 07, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives, Journamalism, Librulz

This is one of my favorite demonstrations of what Gerard Alexander would refer to as “liberal condescension”. Daniel Ellsberg eviscerating the Very Serious ideas of great conservative thinker William Kristol.

Isn’t it a tragedy that liberals like Ellsberg arrogantly brushed aside the sage advice of this wise and humble man? Perhaps someday in a more civilized and intellectually honest future, conservative greats like Kristol, Krauthammer, Broder, Kaplan, Kagan, Vandehei, Barnes and Hanson can have a platform from which to speak freely.

-mg

If only conservative voices could be heard.

Feb 05, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy

Ah, those arrogant liberals are at it again! Looking down their noses at real Americans and trying to force their political correctness on all of us. It’s as if they think we’re fucking retards!

Gerard Alexander affirms
what all conservatives have internalized in their heart of hearts already: that conservatives and their ideas are reflexively maligned because elitism and condescention are innate, unique qualities possessed by liberals. You’ll never go broke if you’re getting paid to tell right-wingers that they’re being victimized and imposed upon by Volvo drivers who think that they’re smarter than them. It’s their bread and butter.

This condescension is part of a liberal tradition that for generations has impoverished American debates over the economy, society and the functions of government — and threatens to do so again today, when dialogue would be more valuable than ever.

Because, you see, conservative ideas weren’t able to make it to the surface over the past eight years because they were drowned in a sea of domineering liberal discourse.

These four liberal narratives not only justify the dismissal of conservative thinking as biased or irrelevant — they insist on it. By no means do all liberals adhere to them, but they are mainstream in left-of-center thinking. Indeed, when the president met with House Republicans in Baltimore recently, he assured them that he considers their ideas, but he then rejected their motives in virtually the same breath.

This works if you ignore the fact that Obama responded to their proposed ideas using logic and reason. The president didn’t stand up in front of them at the House Issues Conference for an hour and a half and merely reject their motives. During that time Republicans got exactly what Alexander is suggesting they didn’t receive; a reasoned debate over their suggestions for fixing a broken economy. Not only that but it was face to face on live television on their own turf. I don’t know how much more open and accommodating to Republican suggestions the president could have been.

Like a lot of right-wing think tank groomed intellectuals, it doesn’t matter to Alexander whether “conservative” ideas can be refuted by sound reasoning or logic. We need to implement them anyway because they’re “conservative” and if we don’t we’re condescending ideologues who refuse to take them seriously. Here’s a fresh, new idea; instead of spending your time whining about how arrogant liberals don’t respect you why don’t you concentrate on developing more cohesive arguments.

-mg

This is one of my favorite demonstrations of what Gerard Alexander would refer to as “liberal condescension”. Daniel Ellsberg eviscerating the Very Serious ideas of great conservative thinker William Kristol.

Isn’t it a tragedy that liberals routinely brush aside the sage advice of this wise and humble man? Perhaps someday in a more civilized future, conservative greats like Kristol, Krauthammer, Broder, Kaplan and Hanson can have a platform from which to speak freely and have their ideas heard.