Oct 30, 2010 in Politics
Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing. – Oscar Wilde
Oct 30, 2010 in Politics
Oct 29, 2010 in Politics
Not that anybody will let this disturb their narratives:
As for future politics, Americans overwhelmingly trust the Dems on healthcare, favor the GOP on debt reduction (go figure) and split between the parties on creating jobs. But here’s the critical thing: a whopping 78 percent want the Republicans to compromise with Obama rather than stick to their positions in the next two years; 76 percent want the Dems to do the same; and a slightly lower percentage, but still overwhelming, wants Obama to compromise too: 69 percent.
In other words, this looks to me as if the public wants to force a deal by both sides to grapple with the long-term debt, the economy and healthcare. Now, who do they think is most likely to do that?
72 percent say that Obama will compromise; but only 46 percent say the Republicans will. I’d say that gives Obama clear edge in future politics, and helps explain why he remains more popular than anybody else in politics, has a solid 46 percent rating even in a deep recession and has higher favorables than anyone else.
Despite Obama’s ratings, which historically are higher than Reagan’s or Clinton’s at this point in their presidencies, it’s pretty clear that he’s gotten a lot of heat from the left to go with the unfounded fury on the right. As his sit-down with some prominent bloggers illustrated, Obama is showing that he can hold his own in a room with most anybody. It’s too bad that he’s waited until the final weeks of the election season for this kind of reach-out, but he’s always got to do that last-minute push thing. It’s his trademark, y’know. Worked really well in 2008. Got him Health Care Reform passed too. Maybe it’s done something to avert the worst. If the people just want to give the Republicans the House in order to make them actually responsible for what’s going on as well as the Democrats, then so be it, goddammit.
I, for one, am getting tired of their incessant mewling since Jan. 20th, 2009, the instant passing of the buck to Obama of Bush’s disaster, plain and simple. Devoid of anything resembling a solution, they’ve been free of the need to provide one. Everything that happens, no matter what, they hang on the Democrats and then puff each other up about how they’re fighting teh evil COMMUNISTS!!! But the public doesn’t really see it that way:
Only 8 percent blame Obama for the current economy. 30 percent blame Bush; 22 percent blame Wall Street; 13 percent blame Congress. They’re not as delusional as Fox News wants them to be.
Wow, only 8 percent of Americans are rightwing bloggers…
Oct 29, 2010 in teh gay
It’s time to accept that the world is changing.
WASHINGTON — An internal Pentagon study has found that most U.S. troops and their families don’t care whether gays are allowed to serve openly and think the policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” could be done away with, according to officials familiar with its findings.
When I think about freedom, I think about gay men and women who are in so many ways exiled from first-class citizenship.
Then I think about Republicans clamoring about paying some extra income tax if they’re too irresponsible to go sign up for low-cost health care insurance. Yet they scatter when I ask them if they would agree to foot all health care expenses, cash up front, the rest of their lives.
That’s why I find their talk disingenuous. Yes, I can agree that the government should keep its nose out of your business. I think the government should keep its nose out of your business, treat each citizen equally, enforce fairness, and provide some essential, basic services that every American needs and deserves.
Be useful or get the hell out, by all means.
Fortunately, freedom marches, and those marches are gonna have gay soldiers in them.
I’ve spent the last two years making a few observations which I find virtually incontestable. By that I mean I’ve found nobody who can seriously debate them, though anybody is welcome to try. Let’s make a list.
1. Obama has essentially done much of what he promised, on the surface, yet has made appalling compromises that have lessened the quality of his achievements. At the same time, he’s done more for Democrat causes than any Democratic president since Johnson. Nevertheless, the air taken out of Democrats’ sails was devastating, and most have had great difficulty getting excited about the good things the Obama administration has accomplished.
2. The “Tea Party” is the re-branding of the GOP base, trying to overcome the complete failure of the Republican politicians they all loved just a few years ago. In doing so, they have managed to avoid nearly all responsibility for the people they so desperately campaigned to elect in 2000, 2002, and 2004.
3. Perhaps it’s fair to say the base has gained complete control of the party, and while they adore most of what Bush/Cheney and the GOP did in the 00’s, they say they’re really different on spending and they really mean it this time, and that’s how they say they want to be judged.
4. They say their concern about spending is primarily reflected in our deficit problems. However, they oppose all tax increases and favor extending the tax cuts that got us into such deep deficits, so they clearly have different priorities. Their proposed spending cuts are largely cosmetic, and many of their candidates still declare military spending to be sacrosanct, so they don’t seem to be very serious about spending. Things like earmarks, the NEA, and defunding NPR get their energy up, little else. They talk about cashing in the last few dollars of the stimulus left over, and gutting the budget-friendly cost-controlling health care reform bill. So they can’t be taken very seriously on spending either.
5. By far their leaders and public faces have been folks who have capitalized on knowing next to nothing and holding extreme and unpopular views otherwise. They have mostly fled the press and anybody else threatening to practice journalism in their vicinity. People on the right who fancy themselves intellectuals rush to make excuses for them, yet we’re supposed to believe that somewhere out there there are serious Republican candidates with good ideas. One would think the GOP would try capitalizing on them, no? Alas, where such “serious” candidates aren’t pleading fealty to the crazy Fake Tea Party people, they’ve still failed to describe any real policy roadmaps that are themselves serious and reflect how to pick up the country’s ailing fortunes.
6. The congressional Republican leaders don’t seem to promise much more than to demand Obama do everything they want, do nothing he wants, start witch-hunt investigations and issue endless subpoenas, and do everything in their power to stop Obama in 2012. The contrast to Democrats who came into office in 2006 with bona fide war criminals in the White House yet backed down from impeachment investigations is palpable.
7. Republicans have claimed not that Obama’s policies didn’t go far enough, as Democrats and polls seem to disagree, but that they were actually really extreme and for all intents and purposes a Communist takeover of the nation’s industry. This description is supposed to describe a giant loan towards Wall Street that has mostly been paid back and may even profit, temporarily taking over GM’s debt obligations and returning it to healthy status, rolling back some of the deregulation of the past ten years that got us into economic trouble, and…yeah, that’s about it. Oh, and a stimulus that was 40% tax cuts along with about 20% emergency relief funds for Medicaid and other state programs. See a breakdown here. The actual direct spending was less than half of what many economists saw as necessary to breathe life back into the economy.
8. On that note, Obama entered office with the economy in freefall, and in two years has returned Wall Street to abundance. Unemployment and wages have stagnated, yet most serious analysis concludes the stimulus made this situation better, not worse. Low demand seems to be at the heart of our troubles, yet any measure aimed at helping the middle and lower class and increasing demand faces stiff opposition from the Republicans.
9. Speaking of stiff opposition, Republicans smashed all records for filibusters into splinters, turning measures into half-measures and stopping the rest. This follows their stated plans at the beginning of Obama’s term.
10. Oh, vague babbling about TEH CONSTITUTION aside, I’ve yet to hear any Constitutional complaints about the Obama administration that betray either any Constitutional misdeeds or knowledge about the Constitution from those yelling the loudest. Betraying the rightwing base’s nature, a lot of this has devolved into further horseshit about the First Amendment and the separation of church and state, from people who usually toss out the Ninth Amendment and complain about judicial activists “finding rights” that aren’t specifically enumerated in the Constitution, like privacy, marriage equality, women’s choice, etc. For those who don’t know, the Ninth Amendment literally forbids reading the Constitution as an exclusive list of rights.
11. Most attempts at taking down the Pseudo-tea-partiers formerly known as the GOP base only inflamed them further, perpetrating a view of themselves as victims. Refuting arguments was treated as counter-productive when it was easier to go back to the base and cite the attacks as further evidence of their martyrdom. The more devastatingly a candidate or somebody like Palin was punctured, the more credibility it gave them in the eyes of the base.
12. The House changing hands this fall is pretty consistent with electoral trends, with the President’s party losing seats. It’s not pretty in the House but potentially better than it could have been, and the Senate situation has improved dramatically, likely leaving Democrats in control.
13. Most populist claims of the GOP base have been followed by their continued insistence, as loyal Republicans, that Wall Street and the wealthy get everything they want. Appease the gods, and they will look kindly upon us!
Given all these things, I have a hard time believing most of the trumpet blaring going on in the rightwing media. Am I supposed to think that this is some great signal that, despite all these things I’ve seen, and despite my inability to find anybody who can seriously challenge me on my observations (Mike Thayer screaming BUT THEY SAID THE UNEMPLOYMENT WOULD BE EIGHT PERCENT and running away does not count), that I’m wrong, just because this election doesn’t go my way?
In logic, an argumentum ad populum (Latin: “appeal to the people”) is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or all people believe it; it alleges: “If many believe so, it is so.”
Furthermore, a Republican winning of the House doesn’t even translate into a clear statement of “what many believe.” To me, it looks like the Obama administration deflated the left with its compromises and occasional betrayals, taking it for granted, and the right responded to a President Barack Hussein Obama with a mandate to pass Health Care Reform as a fundamental threat to their existence, a sign of their ultimate irrelevance to where our nation was heading, and they exploded into a mass of craziness and blatant dishonesty, refusing to be daunted by anybody pointing out that they were largely full of shit and out of control.
This election stands to be a travesty of justice, ultimately. Despite the flaws of the Obama administration, it still came down to a choice of moving forward or backwards, and the electorate seems to be tainted by the right’s mania into retreating, even though there was nothing good behind them. For all the talk in the 00’s that Democrats had to do more than point out how terrible Republicans were to win elections, it seems that, once again, the rules don’t apply if you’re a Republican. They offered nothing and, regardless of everything I’ve said here, will see the upcoming results as vindication of their efforts, regardless of their likely failure to recapture the Senate.
Theories of reward and punishment certainly apply here, yet as a textbook case of what not to do. Neither Democrats nor Republicans will improve with the GOP grabbing the House. And that being the case, it is very difficult to see how the country can improve.
Oct 26, 2010 in Politics
I anxiously await the inevitable explanations from mouth-breathing right-wingers why this woman deserved to be curb-stomped.
I personally think that they relish this sort of violence just as long as it’s directed at non-tribal members. It’s why they can’t be trusted with power. As we saw with the passing of the Patriot Act they’ll gladly wipe their asses with the Constitution if it means getting a few blows in against their political enemies.
Oct 23, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives
I expect the Republicans will succeed in making “Do Exactly What We Say” the “compromise” position between “Doing Nothing” and “Doing What Obama Wants.”
Republicans aren’t interested in compromising with President Obama on major issues if they retake the House or Senate, a senior GOP lawmaker said.
“Look, the time to go along and get along is over,” said Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), the chairman of the House Republican Conference. “House Republicans know that. We’ve taken firm and principled stands against their big government plans throughout this Congress, and we’ve got, if the American people will send them, we’ve got a cavalry of men and women headed to Washington, D.C. that are going to stand with us.”
Pence said his party wouldn’t compromise on issues like spending or healthcare reform, two of the weightiest items on Congress’s agenda next year, when the Republicans could control one or both chambers.
Well, that should solve everything.
People who couldn’t see Helen Thomas or Rick Sanchez fired quickly enough are now screaming about free speech when Juan Williams gets fired.
Self-awareness is a liberal plot.
For the record, all three made statements that are somewhat defensible as rough yet honest talk among contentious Americans, but when you work for CNN or NPR, you should know you’re expected to be pretty lukewarm. What was especially admirable was NPR applying the same standard to anti-Muslim bigotry. Of course, at FOX that gets you a raise.
But don’t call them racist!
The person who really got screwed this last year was Octavia Nasr:
I wondered if these online pundits expressed similar outrage at CNN’s firing of Middle East editor Octavia Nasr for an offense that didn’t even occur on a major news outlet. CNN’s reason for terminating Nasr in July was for a now-deleted tweet that merely expressed sadness for the death of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a beloved Muslim leader in the Middle East whose death was mourned even by our own allies. Because Fadlallah had been reported to be a “spiritual leader”of Hezbollah by some sources, neo-conservatives accused Nasr of being a terrorist sympathizer despite the fact that her tweet didn’t include any support for Hezbollah actions or policies.
So how did conservative bloggers’ coverage of Nasr’s firing compare to Williams’? The conservative Hot Air said today that an “NPR opinion journalist had better not admit to having a normal human reaction about potential for terrorism nine years after 3,000 Americans got killed by radical Muslims on commercial air flights, or else.” This was, the blogger said, “an object lesson about the range of opinion tolerated by management.” But with the Nasr firing, this same blog asked whether “after having outed herself as a Hezbollah sympathizer,” CNN owed “its viewers and readers a complete accounting of their coverage in the Middle East and a complete explanation of Nasr’s role in it?”
There’s plenty more in the article, but will you be surprised by any of it? Yes, they try using NPR’s government funding against it, somehow, but that gets swatted down with facts. Go read it anyway, I’m just saying: Anybody could have seen this coming.
Oct 21, 2010 in Economy
But watch out, because you might lose your home anytime, even if you’ve been playing fair, if the bank says so (and it doesn’t have to prove anything). This is the America of two sets of rules:
We *know* that the rich will, on a personal level, get away with it — even if their company is “punished”, no-one who got rich by title fraud will be impoverished, there is almost no chance that anyone will go to jail, and if one or two *do* go to jail it will be a really, really nice place by jail standards.
Yet, even though legal title to the properties has been tangled and obscured, we know who is in actual possession: the people living in the houses. What is the downside of letting them continue to live there? They may not have a clear legal right to live there — but at the moment no-one else does, either. Unlike everyone else involved in the process, the residents have a direct, personal, and tangible interest in the properties, because they need a place to live.
What are the moral, legal, and social downsides to letting defaulting residents stay in possession? Why is it so important to punish them directly and tangibly, when the powerful people who set up this whole mess will never be directly punished?
Does the fact that we all know the faceless powerful will get away with it make us more determined to punish the powerless? Am I wrong to assume that they *will* get away with it — does one of you have a reason to think that anyone in the financial industry will actually end up hurting in a way that hurts?
The burden of proof for evicting somebody should be staggeringly high. Loans can be negotiated, principal can be negotiated, and kicking someone out should be the absolute last resort. But, folks, it isn’t, because in the end you’re just a financial unit, a number to be gamed like any other.
While perennial punching bags like blubonnet and Perry are debated endlessly at CPST, after my last epic shutdown of both assovertincups and DNW in one thread they just don’t want to talk to me anymore. In this thread on separation of church and state, after the gang effortlessly swats away Thomas Jefferson’s words, I cited James Madison’s reaffirmation of the separation of church and state and his interpretation of the Establishment clause (Madison even acknowledged that the chaplain in Congress was a violation). Crickets.
Eh, so it goes. If you can’t serve their agenda, they ain’t interested. And dismantling their arguments while remaining intellectually honest sure as hell doesn’t serve their agenda.
Oct 20, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives
So Joe Miller continues the anti-journalism crusade of the right when his goons handcuff a reporter for trying to ask him questions. I guess the press-fleeing tactics of Sarah Palin, Christine O’Donnell, Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, et al. just were too wussy. After all, the public isn’t crying outrage and is damn near on the verge of electing a few of these whack-jobs, so why not? This is so good:
The most shocking thing is that the right-wing media have harshly condemned the behavior of Miller and his staff. The Weekly Standard referred to the security personnel as “assailants.” Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller called them “thugs” who “roughed up” the reporter. Sean Hannity, of all people, noted, “By the way, I want to just – this is the part where you’re holding up your credentials. He’s obviously getting in your face. He’s being overly aggressive. And then, you know, you obviously have the right to walk on a street, don’t you?”
Wait one second. I’m getting confused in my old age. Those comments are actually from January 13, 2009 when Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack tripped over himself after Martha Coakley staffer Michael Meehan got in his face.
While it was clearly over the line to get in McCormack’s face, the wingnuttosphere quickly turned the incident into the My Lai Massacre. The Weekly Standard called Meehan an “assailant” while going with a misleading photo rather than the video, which shows…well, nothing, really. Daily Caller tried to bolster its daily readership of 13 people by going for over-the-top sensationalism, calling Meehan a “thug” who “roughed up” McCormack even though the reporter claimed nothing of the sort. Hannity suddenly discovered the concept of constitutional rights, patronizingly reminding us that McCormack has a 1st Amendment right to ask questions and wander down a public street.
Oddly enough, none of them have come to the defense of Alaska Dispatch reporter Tony Hopfinger. They are strangely silent on Hopfinger’s right to attend an event at a public grade school and ask questions and quite eager, parroting the official line from the Miller campaign, to depict Hopfinger as some sort of deranged maniac in thrall of his own bloodlust and looking for the most efficient way to behead Miller and consume his spleen.
It’s not really much of a surprise that this is what has transpired. The Me Party is this stunning trick that has allowed people who would ordinarily be ushered right off the public scene a chance to thrive and flourish. There are all sorts of reasons, of course, but the point is that they finally have a method by which they can bypass public accountability: reject any contact with actual journalists/journalism, find friendly Republican outlets who will ask no hard questions and even provide answers, and if anything bad gets out, it’s just a sign of how much the liberals in the media are out to get them.
That way it never matters that a) they know nothing b) they are corrupt c) their policies offer no solutions d) their positions are radical or e) as is the usual case, all of the above.
I mean, don’t wouldn’t you be okay being a politician if things could be that easy for you? Just let the Republicans know a few things, like a) You’re an evangelical Christian and b) you’re willing to convert your religious stridency into empty platitudes about the Constitution (no knowledge of Constitution required). Also, c) you’ll never truly challenge the status quo when push comes to shove.
I mean, c’mon. Christine O’Donnell was shocked that the First Amendment includes the text, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” And wingers are right there doing damage control. Look at “intellectual” Ramesh Ponnuru:
“Some bloggers and tv commentators have seized on remarks by Christine O’Donnell to suggest that she is unaware that the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion,” he writes. “I don’t think that’s right. What she denies is that the First Amendment requires ‘the separation of church and state.’”
Actual O’Donnell exchange:
“Let me just clarify,” O’Donnell pressed. “You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?”
“The government shall make no establishment of religion,” Coons said, summarizing the gist of the specific words in the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
“That’s in the First Amendment?” O’Donnell asked again, eliciting further laughter from the room.
Who could pass up this gig? You can say anything. And if somebody plays you back an audio recording of you saying it, they’re just twisting your words. If I wanted to be set for life, I’d go Shit-Tea Party tomorrow.
“After that debate my team and I we were literally high fiving each other thinking that we had exposed he doesn’t know the First Amendment, and then when we read the reports that said the opposite we were all like ‘what?'” – Christine O’Donnell
Self-awareness is a librul plot.
Instead of baselessly stabbing Nancy Pelosi, whose House passed nearly every bill liberals wanted or had even dreamed of, and running away from being a Democrat, supporters of Jack Conway act like Democrats and stands up for working class Americans:
Democrats were destined to lose seats this election, but many have been too weak to go out fighting. They want to go out looking more GOP-lite. Well, guess what, fuckers? Nobody respects you. Republicans just laugh and Democrats get further demoralized. I dunno, but any election result where Blanche Lincoln, who actually threatened to filibuster the health care reform bill over the public option, loses her job can’t be all bad.
Chickenshit Democrats lose when they win, and brave Democrats win even if they lose. I wish I could say that about Republicans, but people like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell have proven that self-confidence without merit has been accepted as credit for far too long. Democrats have good arguments to make against the Republicans and for themselves, so there’s no excuse for insufficient mettle.
p.s. Edited to reflect that Conway didn’t do the ad himself.
But reading some history the other day, I got to reading a bit more about the Boston Tea Party, a great moment in the American struggle for independence that has been co-opted by the GOP base, libertarians, and assorted people who aren’t very bright. Their common traits seem to be hatred towards Obama, being utterly unable to explain our economic troubles, and having absolutely no idea how to solve them. Big surprise, then, that even the Tea Party name is a disgraceful joke.
The Boston Tea Party was an act of protest against the British for allowing the British East India Company (?) to sell cheap tea in the colonies, undercutting local farmers and ruining the American economy. So the colonists banded together and dumped a shitload of British tea into the harbor, and the rest is history.
An obvious parallel today would be tossing shipments of cheap goods from China into the ocean. It would probably take a couple shiploads to punch the Chinese in the balls, but let’s put issues of scale aside.
So who’s the parallel to that? Sarah “Sell-out” Palin bitching about “death panels”? Rand Paul complaining about Medicare’s mere existence? Glenn “I see Nazis” Beck? No, it’s the dirty fucking hippies. The long haired folks that “real Americans” instinctively hate, protesting globalization outsourcing American jobs to overseas sweatshops. The Boston Tea Party was an act of protectionism.
Of course, the Tea Party was a tax protest as well, as the British government hit the colonies with extra taxes to help British East India tea even more. The colonists were outraged because they weren’t being taxed by their own representatives, as none would have consented to such a punitive tax. Of course, the Americans who call themselves Tea Party members are being taxed by their own government. Since that was the entire point, to be represented, and everybody gets a vote, the Tea Party’s claim is about as purely up-is-down as you can get.
Don’t hold your breath for a media personality, or at least one who can get a press-fleeing Tea Partier cornered, to ask them why they should be called the Tea Party. But even Fox, in a flattering article, notes the disparity of the comparison:
The Stamp Act? Now it’s the Wall Street bailout. The Tea Act? Now it’s the $787 billion stimulus package. The Quartering Act? Now it’s the pork-filled omnibus spending bill. The Boston Massacre? That would have to be the proposed $3.55 trillion 2010 budget, seen by tea partiers as a fiscal massacre.
Oh. The party of Wall Street is mad that Wall Street was rescued via being loaned a bunch of money, much of which is paid back or due to be. The ones exploiting the unemployment rate are mad it isn’t two percentage points higher. The party that exploded pork spending in the 00’s is now pissed about the tiny drop in the bucket that it contributes to our debt. And a budget composed mostly of pre-determined spending is compared to the slaughter of innocent human lives.
The obvious immediate fraudulence of their name leaves one with few choices. I really can’t stomach to call the GOP base Tea Party anything. I really can’t believe historians haven’t lodged a united protest against such reckless abuse of our national history, but so be it. Now, one could just point out that it’s mostly the GOP base, and that will do, but I’d say they should just be called the Me Party (wish the spelling matched better, but it rhymes).
The Me Party: I get to make up my own history. I don’t consent to be taxed by my own elected government, even though I vote. I don’t like presidents who don’t look like me, talk like me, or come from weird states like Hawaii. I shouldn’t have a penny of my money go towards somebody who doesn’t work as hard as me. I don’t want to listen to their circumstances. I shouldn’t be blamed for electing the people whose philosophy ruined our economy. I’m one of the good people, so you can vote for me without making me actually provide any solutions. You’ll just know it’ll be better, because I said so.
Of course, not exactly surprising that it’s the Boomers who have brought us this tempest of self-obsession. But I don’t wish to get bogged down in Boomer blame. Those who call themselves tea partiers shouldn’t also be allowed to bring down scorn upon innocent Boomers who rightly admonish their lack of seriousness.
They can’t even get their own name right, or the history they claim to revere. This just goes to show one that giving a rightwinger even the slightest benefit of the doubt always gets you in trouble.
Oct 15, 2010 in Economy
We now realize that foreclosures are happening in as sloppy, haphazard, and groundless a manner with which the subprime lending bubble blew up the country. And here we go again:
True to form, the Obama administration’s response has been to oppose any action that might upset the banks, like a temporary moratorium on foreclosures while some of the issues are resolved. Instead, it is asking the banks, very nicely, to behave better and clean up their act. I mean, that’s worked so well in the past, right?
The response from the right is, however, even worse. Republicans in Congress are lying low, but conservative commentators like those at The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page have come out dismissing the lack of proper documents as a triviality. In effect, they’re saying that if a bank says it owns your house, we should just take its word. To me, this evokes the days when noblemen felt free to take whatever they wanted, knowing that peasants had no standing in the courts. But then, I suspect that some people regard those as the good old days.
Toothless Democrats vs. Republicans actively aiding the country’s destruction…and about half the electorate digs the Republicans for having conviction. No doubt, in feudal days many serfs did admire the nobles.
Oct 13, 2010 in Journamalism
Nice people, probably, but they do such an impressive job of sealing themselves from what matters to most Americans:
Think about what it says about Richard Cohen that he knows the economy is terrible, that unemployment has been too high for too long — but what he’s really concerned about is Barack Obama’s “persona.” How out of touch do you have to be to repeatedly gloss over a terrible economy in favor of a lengthy discussion of presidential style points?
It’s the unemployment, stupid. Then Republicans say, “Obama’s policies made it worse!” when expert consensus says Obama’s policies helped, just not enough, and the elites spend their days with their usual stupid soap operas about presidential posing. God, how they quivered when Bush swaggered while ruining the country.
For another nauseating example of Beltway ass-headedness, Mark Halperin admits that Obama’s done some good, been blocked from doing more good, but that his biggest mistake was really directly attacking Republicans who say untrue things.
Obama, in the eyes of media elites like Halperin, is not allowed to fight back against his political opponents. Why? Because it’s unseemly. Apparently it’s not that unseemly when his opponents accuse him of being a racist and a Nazi and tyrant and a liar and a terrorist-sympathizer and foreign-born. It’s unseemly when Obama answers his critics. It’s unseemly when he defends himself.
One would think that the burden should rest on the people lying, but oh no, in the Beltway that wouldn’t be polite to point out that it’s the Republicans and the media who have failed America in the past two years, and that Democrats have at worst relented to the pressure. In the Beltway, Republicans get to say insane shit. If you attack them, you’re attacking poor “real Americans,” who have “real concerns.” Nobody can get a straight answer out of them, of course. But the emotion is real! And, of course, Americans on the left just don’t matter.
Everybody knew when Obama and the Democrats won in 2008 that we had an uphill struggle ahead of us. The Republicans were bitching from Jan 2009, of course, about how we weren’t already at the top. They knew that they could spend the next two years beating up on Democrats with little hope for a rebound. Most gobsmacking, it’s inarguably true that the recovery actually worked for the real Republican constituency, Corporate America. Republican philosophy would dictate that recovery for Wall Street means recovery for Main Street is right around the corner, but please. I say “Republican philosophy” to mean “recent campaign slogans.” They spend a lot of time bragging about their principles in order to mask the fact that they have few true principles that they could be openly public about.
I mean, one can expect Republicans to be continuously full of shit, but isn’t the job of our elite media to filter and distance themselves a little bit? Instead, it always sounds like a bunch of catty cheerleaders, pompous twits who are still sore Obama went to his daughter’s soccer match without letting the press tag along.
We get the media we deserve, I guess…
Oct 12, 2010 in Politics
A rising tide lifts all boats!
Pay on Wall Street is on pace to break a record high for a second consecutive year, according to a study conducted by The Wall Street Journal. About three dozen of the top publicly held securities and investment-services firms—which include banks, investment banks, hedge funds, money-management firms and securities exchanges—are set to pay $144 billion in compensation and benefits this year, a 4% increase from the $139 billion paid out in 2009, according to the survey. Compensation was expected to rise at 26 of the 35 firms.
It would have been socialism to not bail them out.
Oct 12, 2010 in Election crap
The House tried to do their jobs and should be treated a bit more nicely than the 41 Republican Senators who have done everything they could to bring the nation’s business to a halt during economically dangerous times:
With only a lame-duck session remaining, the House since January 2009 has passed 420 bills that have sat on the Senate shelf, according to an updated list provided to The Hill.
The gulf in productivity has led to an escalation in tensions between the chambers, culminating in a veritable staring contest last month over the expiring George W. Bush-era tax cuts.
House Democratic leaders have frequently griped at the disparity, and the caucus chairman, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), told The Hill last week that the slow pace of legislating in the Senate, where bills can be held up by the filibuster and other rules, “infuriates” members of the House.
Rank-and-file House Democrats said the lack of Senate action on legislation they had cast tough votes on had left them twisting in the wind before an increasingly agitated electorate. At the top of the list was the June 2009 cap-and-trade energy and climate bill, which passed the House by a slim margin but never made it to the Senate floor.
The gap in approved legislation increased by 48 in the three weeks Congress was in session in September, and by 130 since The Hill first reported on the disparity in February.
Okay, Republicans. Have your fun, but without 60 solid votes in the Senate, it’s all wanking. Have fun when that Tea Party rage gets turned back on you because you spent 2010-2012 compromising with Democrats to get anything done.
Oh, you Republican folks think Democrats shouldn’t filibuster everything like you did to them? Shove a copy of the filibuster-less Constitution up your asses and light it on fire.
Some Republicans are claiming they’d be open to defense cuts, but how far will they go? Bruce Bartlett tackles the usual wingers like Bill Kristol who have come out against defense cuts:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, originally appointed to his position by George W. Bush, has taken the lead on finding $100 billion in savings over the next five years. But the magnitude of our budgetary problems requires much deeper cuts. And as a recent Congressional Budget Office briefing makes clear, deep cuts are impossible without scaling back our defense commitments.
As the painful process of deficit reduction moves forward next year, many conservatives are going to scream that our national security is being fatally undermined. They will need to be reminded that excessive national debt also undermines our national security — especially when much of it is owned by foreigners like the Chinese. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently warned:
Our rising debt level poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways. It undermines our capacity to act in our own interests and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally … It is very troubling to me that we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny, but to have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years.
Is it good strategy to mortgage the earnings of future generations to keep a widespread standing army in 2010? To go broke maintaining a Cold War-fighting machine in a guerrilla war?
Anyway, go read the whole article. Reading an actual conservative take down the radical posers of the GOP is too sweet.
Oct 08, 2010 in Religion
I try not to rub my deeper thoughts in people’s faces, but this guy was talking some serious shit before this exchange:
Very Unpleasant Rightwinger: we are a clump of dna yet we have value. how is that?
ME: Who told you DNA was valueless? Without DNA, there’d be no Bible, no Jesus, and no myopic little assovertincups to cheerlead his rightwing buddies.
You aren’t really talking about value, you’re using the value each of us understands to be inherent in human life as a bargaining chip to establish your version of God. The classic line of reasoning goes something like this: Ah, look at the lovely children. You value them! But you think they are DNA, water and chemicals, thus you do not value them! I think they’re made of God’s tears, so I value them!
Well, what the hell makes God’s progeny so special…if they aren’t special? The rocks and trees and microbes are God’s progeny too, no?
Do you have any idea what matter really is? Do you realize you are mostly empty space? Do you realize that your sense of the physical is nothing more than a series of emergent patterns, fractally repeating? Relationships between particles that we still don’t understand, in a medium we still don’t understand. Values, compounding upon values. Truths, echoing through nature and manifesting in our brains, elegant patterns that we can only feel humble amidst.
The problem is most people are too scientifically illiterate to really get beyond their monkey-brained ways of seeing the world, and that you need stories about God and souls to put your true worth in understandable terms. They’re very true in a sense, just not literally in the way you see them.
Yet none of this fits in your little “GODLESS LIBRULS KILLING BABIES!” box. The truth is, you don’t value life much at all and will gladly condemn others to death to square your vision with the world. You guys sit in here and spend every day slagging on those who work to do good for the poor, and who try to use the instrument of government, democratically controlled, to help the less fortunate. You call them every name in the book, and then act self-righteous because you like to tell women what to do with their bodies. Yes, sometimes liberals can be guilty of doing arithmetic with human lives, but I’ve yet to see a one of you live above that standard. Even (you) will gladly let doctors and firemen stand by while innocents die, just to teach others a lesson about “responsibility.” The right-o-sphere concurs.
Okay, I was somewhat angry. This guy was a grade-A bonehead. The nicer way of putting things is that I can actually sit down in a church nowadays and mostly concentrate on what I have in common with the people around me, because really, my life has been about trying to find that glory in our lives, but my way. And I’ve come to the same conclusions that many religious people have come to: Literalism and fundamentalism aren’t fruitful to deep thought or even good conduct. They obscure man’s greater faculties and describe them as dangerous. Heretical accusations soon follow. Pious people should be treated with suspicion. Quiet ways can often teach best (though I only know how to practice this in life, not necessarily in blogging).
Just don’t tell me that I don’t value life, especially when I’m the guy heartsick that a generation is becoming terminally unemployable and I’m trying to urge my president to rise to the occasion. I’m trying to urge my nation to rise to the occasion, and to be the great people we are capable of being. When America is at its best, none of the others can compare. When America has come together to solve our collective problems, we’ve done great deeds and saved countless millions from poverty and death. This truly is one of those times again, and the government needs to intervene to create demand where the private market isn’t picking up the slack. It’s not only practical, but it’s deeply good. Telling me a good deed isn’t a good deed just because the government did it doesn’t wash. After all, who elects the government? To the extent that we can sway it towards beneficial actions, it must necessarily possess the same positive value. If government assistance helps a child, that is a pure good, undiluted. It matters not who feeds that child.
It’s much the same with the question of our value. It matters not to our worth because there may or may not be a sentient Deity out there. I am sentient. As awesome as I am, um, I know there are many others even more awesome. The awesomeness quotient of humanity is something any God should be respectful of. After all, how could God be a dullard and a moron to not be impressed by Shakespeare? A billion love poems scribbled in notebooks? The intricacy of the human voice? An amazing experiment in space-time properties that kept combining until intelligence arose. It is simply more than one person can fully absorb.
How do we not regard it as possible that this process is actually a form of intelligence itself? It is in many remarkable ways an ultimately rational universe. There is no action without an equal and opposite reaction. Apply a rough approximation of that to human nature and you can see the connections that bind our deepest personal metaphors to the primal forces of Nature itself.
Yes, I can get ornery but…
Sometimes, I must be a rock.
Oct 05, 2010 in Politics
A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.
The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning. Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay. The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck. This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn’t put it out. It wasn’t until that fire spread to a neighbor’s property, that anyone would respond. Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.
“I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” said Gene Cranick.
Because of that, not much is left of Cranick’s house. They called 911 several times, and initially the South Fulton Fire Department would not come. The Cranicks told 9-1-1 they would pay firefighters, whatever the cost, to stop the fire before it spread to their house. “When I called I told them that. My grandson had already called there and he thought that when I got here I could get something done, I couldn’t,” Paulette Cranick.
It was only when a neighbor’s field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn’t. We asked him why. He wouldn’t talk to us and called police to have us escorted off the property. Police never came but firefighters quickly left the scene. Meanwhile, the Cranick home continued to burn.
We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception. “Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” Mayor David Crocker said.
See? Now we just apply that to Health Care Reform. Republicans claim they hate the individual mandate (hint: It’s a Republican idea, it’s Obama they hate, but anyway), and that somebody should be free to not have health care insurance. So shouldn’t doctors be able to watch you die, brushing you off? “Sorry, no insurance, no treatment!”
No, of course not. We won’t accept that, so letting people run around without health insurance is allowing fraud. Unless somebody says they’re willing to sign a lifetime “DO NOT TREAT” opt-out contract, they’ve got nothing to say about an individual mandate.
Oct 05, 2010 in Welfare of the rich
Of course, Republican hate Grayson because he fights them with fire, but also because he did go to Congress to actually represent voters, the citizens who got caught up in Wall Street’s gambling binge. That’s why, because of Citizens United, moneyed interests can directly fund his opposition in complete secrecy.
Over the last half-century, the Republican Party has been, at times, a genuinely anti-government party and, at times, a politically successful party. But it’s never been both at the same time.
Oct 04, 2010 in Clueless Conservatives
Folks, if any of you can detect a whiff of content in this continuous mutual fluffing between Mark Levin and Sarah Palin, you need to go to the comments and explain. Immediately. “Liberals have forgotten the Constitution,” is certainly a rather bold claim, but has anybody actually heard Sarah Palin discuss the text of the Constitution? Of course not. She makes the claim, runs straight past backing it up, Mark Levin high fives her at the finish line and they walk away telling each other how great they are. Like two dunces shaking their head in disbelief that the teacher actually expects them to add all those numbers together.
I mean, I could be wrong. But I’ve not yet heard why, ever since Sarah Palin hit the scene, we should be listening to somebody who seems committed to the act of not knowing what she’s talking about.
Last I checked, these were some serious times. I’m sorry the captain is having a bit of trouble, having taken the wheel after the previous one hit the iceberg, but I’m not about to back a mutiny from some loudmouthed passenger who quit halfway through her one stint on a pontoon.
They don’t know anything, and we need people who know something. Saying the words, “common sense” over and over again is not a substitute for the real thing.
Riddle thee this:
Would Andrew be comfortable with a future Republican President — let’s say, just to pick a random example . . . . President Sarah Palin — having the power to order American citizens killed based solely on her unchecked accusation that they are somehow involved with or helping Al Qaeda Terrorists, while the targeted citizens have no recourse to any courts and she has no obligation to offer any evidence to justify the targeting?
I’m not immune to the fact that we’re talking about a likely active jihadi in another country waging war against us, but in the end it’s never really about whether or not we go after the guy. It’s always about the secrecy and lack of accountability that we imbue the President with, and the fact that power creeps. Always. It’s just a law of human nature we’ll never get around, and that knowledge is what informed the formation of this country as it fled the overreach of British power.
UPDATE: Sullivan provides a pretty compelling case that al-Awlaki’s targeting is a pretty routine and Constitutionally backed act of war, but like I said, that’s not really the point, and Sullivan seems to respect the fact that the way the Obama administration has dealt with the public on this issue isn’t acceptable. And I think Greenwald’s energy is partially derided from his practically solitary nature in staying vigilant on executive powers, whether the president be Republican or Democrat. The fact is that Republicans damn near transcend party when it comes to executive war powers, and will gladly leave Obama alone for his incredibly dangerous and aggressive war against Al Queda in Pakistan. They’ll mostly stay quiet on it, and babble about “making apologies” for U.S. GREATNESS!!! More Democrats care about civil liberties, but when a Democrat’s in office most focus on domestic policies and forgive whatever Democrat leaders do in making war.
It’s building. While people have had their fun looking at the trainwreck Tea Party candidates, the thought that they could actually get into office and tear down or freeze in its tracks all the progress Democrats hoped for in 2008 and earned since is getting people out of their chairs. As one billboard said, “I want my country back from Glenn Beck!” Of course, the media never finds liberals as sexy as crazy hopped-up rightwingers, so this event is getting minimal coverage. How many magazine covers has Glenn Greenwald appeared on this year vs. Sarah Palin?
Also, if you missed it, this speech from Obama is pretty goddamn spectacular.
Yeah, it’s not perfect, but you can only critique the man from the left. All Republican complaints about Obama are contrived shite they don’t even believe, and he kicks their asses so swiftly and surely it’s no wonder they hate him so.