Aug 31, 2011 in Politics
Archive for August, 2011
Aug 30, 2011 in Politics
At least Anthony Weiner only showed his namesake. This guy sticks his spread cheeks on Grindr hunting for some sin.
Have we reached tipping point yet? Shouldn’t homophobic politicians and anti-gay bullies be presumed to be gay until they get caught up in a straight sex scandal?
I mean, ideally nobody would care if Roberto Arrango were gay, except other dudes like him: men who can’t accept their sexuality, who try to eradicate it from society but whoops, their efforts don’t make the desire go away. So they hate harder, but sooner or later they’re dangling their chocolate starfish on gay dating sites or public restrooms or at the massage parlor. When do they stop? When they get caught. Or when society calls their bluff.
Aug 30, 2011 in Politics
And another homophobic Republican politician is caught soliciting gay sex.
So Rick Perry doesn’t just squash investigations into innocent men who were executed, he also tried gambling with the lives of teachers. Well, golly…
According to the notes, which were authenticated by a meeting participant, the Perry administration wanted to help Wall Street investors gamble on how long retired Texas teachers would live. Perry was promising the state big money in exchange for helping Swiss banking giant UBS set up a business of teacher death speculation.
All they had to do was convince retirees to let UBS buy life insurance policies on them. When the retirees died, those policies would pay out benefits to Wall Street speculators, and the state, supposedly, would get paid for arranging the bets. The families of the deceased former teachers would get nothing.
What’s weird is that this is all money that would have to come from life insurance companies…and exactly how much are they willing to bleed before they put a stop to such shenanigans? Sooner or later, either the insurance companies or the state will realize that they are getting the splintered end, and they’ll want out. No? Then someone please explain the math to me, because finance people sure are wonderful at putting numbers on a piece of paper and telling you that’s real money.
I think Obama would have a pretty easy time against Perry. He’s likely to seduce the base by being proudly ignorant and extreme, along with being so very manly and handsome (all the queer gay-hating Republicans get their hearts aflutter, I’m sure), but he’s got an atrocious record and he makes Dubya look like a Mensa member. He’s not going to reassure the country that he’ll be better for them than grown-up actual compromiser (much to the chagrin of people who thought electing a Democratic president with huge majorities in Congress would mean a Democratic agenda would be followed). At least he ought to jerk a few liberals out of their BOTH PARTIES ARE THE SAME stupor that enables their constant susceptibility to getting punked.
So who wants to roll some dice on which teachers die first?
Aug 23, 2011 in Politics
Two things that come to mind:
1. The Teapublicans are crazy.
2. The Teapublicans are, unsurprisingly, wrong.
It seems that Republicans believe that they can prevent Obama from doing a thing, even a payroll tax cut that benefits lesser earners, and then be thought of as an alternative batter if we think Obama hasn’t done the best job.
It’s firefighters vs arsonists. People thought they could register economic anger by electing the Teapublicans, and they got a war on women and a kamikaze attack on the US economy.
They have discredited themselves, and they didn’t have much credit to start with. It’s a no-brainer that the country would benefit far more under Obama than any of these unrepentant extremists and panderers.
I love how Republicans claim that despite all their efforts at obstruction, Obama and the Democrats got everything they wanted. I respond that non-crazy people who watched the news know that Democrats didn’t get even close to everything they wanted. Hello, public option, anybody? The ACA itself was a damned compromise as it was. Why should we listen to people telling us we got our Christmas list? It only works if you exclude the voices of the left entirely.
And yet they inevitably shift the goalposts and argue sure, but Democrats PRETTY MUCH got what they wanted and IT WAS SO MUCH. Once again, the stimulus was one-third tax cuts, and had a 4x multiplier I cited earlier.
You don’t hand they keys back to the drunk after you stick them in the back seat and they proceed to choke you while you’re driving everybody home.
Aug 22, 2011 in Politics
Reality has a liberal bias:
The bad news in the 2000s was bad news about earnings. Whether the price of oil went up, down, or sideways, the typical American worker had less money to spend on everything in 2007 than seven years earlier.
The main depressant of those incomes was a factor unmentioned in the Journal editorial: healthcare costs. Through the 2000s, the cost of labor to employers rose briskly: an average of 25% per hour as I pointed out in my 2007 book, Comeback. But because healthcare costs doubled over the decade, none of that increase in the money paid by employers filtered through to employees.
So why doesn’t the Journal acknowledge that rather large fact?
The Bush years, despite the WSJ’s efforts to whitewash them, were years of continuing decline for America. Things are bad now, but they’ve been going bad for over a decade. People were productive and gains were made, but suddenly everything started costing more, and Frum lightly dismisses the fact that paying for gas actually is a huge pain for working people who drive every day. Those public-transportation-using Beltway elites!
Yet Frum is right, healthcare costs were one of the biggest bricks in the face, a complete sapper that made it harder for business to meet the costs of insuring workers (and please shareholders gambling in the world’s biggest casino, Wall Street). Millions more were priced out of buying it for themselves (oh, they might offer you a “Please, Sir, don’t bankrupt me!” catastrophic insurance plan for a couple hundred a month). Life didn’t get better for much of anyone beyond the ultra-rich.
So we’re not trying to halt some decline that just happened suddenly in 2008, we’re trying to reverse a decade of erosion for the middle class. If only we were up to it.
Aug 21, 2011 in Politics
Count me as somebody who didn’t expect to be reading that headline anytime soon, but it’s looking like Obama’s Libya intervention wasn’t a wrong decision.
Lessee, under Obama that’s several successful Muslim rebellions and one dead Osama bin Laden, minus way, way too many civilian deaths from lethal albeit effective drone strikes. It’s not in the liberal character to run around yelling about our leader’s military prowess, but if a Democrat had Bush’s record and a Republican had Obama’s, it would “prove” that Republicans were better at fighting the War on Terror than Democrats (only stupid Democrats would have invaded Iraq without a plan and found no WMDs, such would be unimaginable with a strong fierce Republican in office!). Obama is likely to end Afghanistan when he said he would in his second term, I only regret that he is unlikely to remove America from the Mideast entirely, as we should. How about some austerity in playing war chess on the global map?
Obama’s lucky this is playing out on a fairly brisk schedule, but perhaps, like with bin Laden, President Obama knew when to roll the dice.
UPDATE: It seems the standard Republican tack is to either pretend Obama had nothing to do with the Libya operation or cry a pile of crocodile tears over the possibility that we could have sped things up a few months (because six months to overthrow a 42-year dictator is clearly unacceptable).
Because this article, like the hundreds before and after, will change nothing. In this case of Drug War madness, having an amount of marijuana that wouldn’t even merit criminal charges will get your kids taken away. But then there’s the real kicker:
Over all, the rate of marijuana use among whites is twice as high as among blacks and Hispanics in the city, the data show, but defense lawyers said these cases were rarely if ever filed against white parents.
The law is one thing, but the unequal enforcement creates one law for whites and another for non-whites. It’s a Jim Crow Drug War, my friends, and if you can’t address that when you discuss drug policy, you aren’t even talking about drug policy.
Aug 19, 2011 in Politics
We know Republicans will say anything bad is Obama’s fault, but let’s check in on reality:
The markets are tanking. Again. And it’s in part because they expect us to screw up. Again.
That, at least, is what J.P. Morgan is saying. Part of what’s driving the market down is that the company announced that it was cutting its global growth forecasts by a full percentage point for 2011 and 2012. Why? I’ll let them explain:
There are three main reasons for our downgrade. First, the recent incoming data, especially in the US and the euro area, have been disappointing, suggesting less momentum into 2H11 and pushing down full-year 2011 estimates. Second, recent policy errors – especially Europe’s slow and insufficient response to the sovereign crisis and the drama around lifting the US debt ceiling – have weighed down on financial markets and eroded business and consumer confidence. A negative feedback loop between weak growth and soggy asset markets now appears to be in the making in Europe and the US. This should be aggravated by the prospect of fiscal tightening in the US and Europe.
In other words: Growth is weak and policymakers are hurting rather than helping. The debt-ceiling debate hurt. The dithering response to the euro zone’s debt crisis hurt. And the expected austerity in both the United States and Europe is going to hurt even more. J.P. Morgan notes that one reason they think the United States might tip back into recession is that in the first quarter of 2012, there will be “an automatic tightening fiscal policy if, as our US team currently assumes, this year’s fiscal stimulus measures will expire.”
The business community knows full well that the stimulus drying up is going to make things worse. Yet over in Republican Land, they will happily insist that the stimulus made things worse BECAUSE YOU KNOW THE OBAMA PEOPLE SAID IT WOULD BRING UNEMPLOYMENT DOWN TO 8 INSTEAD OF 9 BUT IT’S 10 DON’T YOU SEE!!!?!?!
Reality says the recession Bush handed off to Obama was worse than predicted, but that the stimulus still shaved a couple points off of unemployment and contributed greatly to growth and GDP.
But 2012 is on the horizon so Republicans are going to say what they’re going to say, because they’re stuck otherwise. What are they going to do, not run? Run and tell the truth, that their policies are hurting the economy, and they’ve prevented Obama from doing more by any means necessary?
Hell, no. The way they think, lying until November 2012 is the only choice they have, because no matter what the facts say, they’re the “real” Americans.
Aug 18, 2011 in Politics
This has already been mentioned extensively by Teh Librulz but reading about this was so inspiring I had to comment:
A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Huffington Post with three separate federal agencies reveals that on at least 16 separate occasions, Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid. A large chunk of those requests were for funds set aside through President Obama’s stimulus program, which Bachmann once labeled “fantasy economics.” Bachmann made two more of those requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, an institution that she has suggested she would eliminate if she were in the White House.
Taken as a whole, the letters underscore what Bachmann’s critics describe as a glaring distance between her campaign oratory and her actual conduct as a lawmaker. Combined with previous revelations that Bachmann personally relied on a federally subsidized home loan while her husband’s business benefited from Medicaid payments, it appears that one of the Tea Party’s most cherished members has demonstrated that the government does, in fact, play a constructive role — at least in her life and district.
Teabaggers can easily wave off inconvenient information because solving problems isn’t what got them in the game in the first place. As long as That Man is in the White House the disparities between what they advocate vocally and what they actually do is of least concern and remember, it’s only soshulizum when someone else benefits. Take for example the mastermind behind the Texas Economic Miracle:
Gov. Rick Perry used federal stimulus money to pay 97 percent of Texas’s budget shortfall in fiscal 2010–which is funny, because Perry spent a lot of time talking about just how terrible the stimulus was. In fact, Texas was the state that relied most heavily on stimulus funds, CNN’s Tami Luhby reports.
“Even as Perry requested the Recovery Act money, he railed against it,” Luhby writes. “On the very same day he asked for the funds, he set up a petition titled ‘No Government Bailouts.’” It called on Americans to express their anger at irresponsible spending.
That’s your Tea Party in a nutshell.
It was June ’08 the last time we saw numbers comparable to Limbaugh/Hannity’s bullshit claim. Apparently the Great Recession started after Bush left!
Hannity and Limbaugh may have blocked out eight years of spectacular Republican failures, but Obama took office when the nation was in freefall. Arguably no president in American history started his first day with a list like this: the Great Recession, two deadly wars, a jobs crisis, a massive deficit and budget mess, crushing debt, a health care system in shambles, a climate crisis, an ineffective energy policy, an equally ineffective immigration policy, a housing crisis, the U.S. auto industry on the verge of collapse, a mess at Gitmo, a severely tarnished global reputation, an executive branch damaged by corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement, and an angry, deeply divided electorate.
It was, by most measures, the worst national conditions ever faced by a newly-elected president.
Hannity and Limbaugh want their minions to believe Bush bequeathed a healthy, prosperous nation. That’s insane.
That’s money in the bank for those assholes, but what about the idiots who listen to them and believe it?
Aug 16, 2011 in Health Care
Another one of those links to information that Republicans can never acknowledge. Turns out that Medicare reining in costs, and ACA looks like the culprit!
Zeke Emanuel, an oncologist and former special adviser for health policy to White House Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag, is certain that this is what is happening. When I spoke to him last week, Emanuel, said: “This is not mere chance: this is directly related to the initiation of health care reform.” It is not the result of reform, Emmanuel emphasized. The reform measures that will rein in Medicare inflation have not yet been implemented. But, he explained, providers are “anticipating the Affordable Care Act kicking in.” They can’t wait until the end of 2013: “They have to act today. Everywhere I go,” Emanuel, added, “medical schools and hospitals are asking me, ‘How can we cut our costs by 10 to 15 percent?’
One of the least touted features of the Affordable Care Act is that it implements several seed programs for cost controls…in fact, it features most of the cost controls anybody can imagine, sans the Republican plan of simply scrapping Medicare and offering fixed vouchers. It’s widely understood that fee-for-service, that wonderful method of charging you for every aspirin, racks up huge costs quickly, and that organizations like Kaiser Permanente (which insures my family) are showing the way ahead with salaried doctors and incentives for good care.
Fortunately, those in the medical industry are supportive of the Affordable Care Act, and being rather smart people they understand where the future is headed. Thus the initiative being taken in getting healthcare spending under control while maintaining standards of care.
Aug 16, 2011 in Politics
I guess if you promise cap-and-trade, and Republicans kill it, you broke your promise?
No, that really is the reason:
The possibility of passing cap-and-trade legislation ended for the foreseeable future when the Republican Party took control of the House of Representatives after the 2010 midterm election.
Okay then! Guess we better elect some Republicans to solve that problem???
Aug 13, 2011 in Politics
Gay-bashing Republicans really do need their own discreet, gay-dating website where they can avoid embarrassment.
Aug 13, 2011 in Politics
These liberal obstructionists would be called terrorists. Not just maybe once in a private off the record meeting with the VP — but on the record and all the time. Since these liberal freshmen would seem to have the same economic goals for the U.S. as Osama bin Laden — that would be pointed out repeatedly. They’d be accused of treason. Their loyalty would be questioned: “Are they upholding the Constitution or their pledge?” There would be calls to deport them.
People would tell them to leave the country and go wreck some other economy. They’d be dubbed a hoard of Neros fiddling with their pledges while Rome burned.
If liberals were doing to their country what extremist tea party Republicans are doing to theirs — it would be called unpatriotic. A whole tsunami of sound bites would sweep the country calling for the sabotage to stop.
Liberal dissent is akin to a security breach but conservative economic calamity is given a pass. We’ve treated the tea party like they are our country’s kooky, graying, drunken uncle at Thanksgiving dinner spouting some non sequiturs he picked up on AM radio.
Yeah, mean old Democrats electing a guy who ran on reforming health care who then turned around and reformed healthcare. Dirty swindlers! But America elects the Tea Party and they go after Planned Parenthood, leave the military budget alone, and blow a hole in the side of the US economy with their debt ceiling hostage situation.
It’s just time to recognize that no matter how scruffy and sweet Crazy Uncle is inside, his crazy views have to be set aside if we’re going to properly govern this great and powerful nation. We simply have to do better.
Aug 13, 2011 in Politics
For its modest size, the stimulus was a success, every dollar multiplying by four.
1. The economy is still basically functioning, which wasn’t guaranteed before the stimulus. Unemployment numbers are way too high, hard-working people are being given the shaft, law students can’t get a job, yes, but for the overwhelming majority of Americans life hasn’t really changed all that much (the stimulus and unemployment benefits have helped soften the rocks at the bottom of the valley). We should absolutely be doing better, and economy-sabotaging Republican politicians certainly haven’t helped. But consider just how far things really can fall, and what that chart suggests continued decline would have been. Life in America would not be recognizable. That’s the world Republicans want you to live in, so you’ll stop being such a lazy sissypants and work harder. Important concession here:
Of course, this whole analysis depends on the assumption that without the stimulus, the economy would have continued to decline at the same rate. We don’t know that for a fact, and that has always been the obvious weakness in Holtz-Eakin’s approach. It’s possible that the economic collapse could have slowed down all on its own. But it is also possible that the decline could have accelerated rapidly into a second Great Depression.
Do you ever see Republicans really grilled about the alternative world they propose? The world where John McCain repealed TARP and Sarah Palin rallied America to put its nose to the grindstone and drill offshore? They have the advantage of sitting back and sniping (and making things up constantly), but they aren’t passive players in American government, and we saw with the attempted forced default of the United States by the Tea (Republican) Party that they are quite willing to unleash that world on us, even now. It seems to one that they really are advocating a Depression to sort out What’s Wrong with America.
2. There’s a simple theory about government spending that those on the right, including the Tea Party, accept without question when it relates to our military: Unlike communism, the government is doing little more than engaging in business with the public. The government hires people to do a job most of us generally agree should be done (deliver mail, build roads, repair bridges, maintain a solid and sensible defense force). To the average American, a job is a job. Republican politicians earn their paychecks, which they then use to pay for their lovely homes and nice suits, and those dollars get put into the private market just as fast as if they came from a private employer. Are Republicans who pour concrete supposed to turn down government sidewalk contracts?
The question answers itself.
Look at the graph again. Where would you rather be in the 4th quarter of 2009, at the top of it or the bottom?
Unfortunately, as Gregory Mankiw accidentally admitted, that stimulus is about used up, and the two lines are going to start moving closer together. And while Obama would love nothing more than to roll out some Bill Clinton-style job programs that provide numerous jolts to the economy, it’s become accepted knowledge that the Republicans will not allow a jobs bill through that costs a penny. Ask yourself another no-brainer: Is Obama president, or dictator? If you answer president, then you also probably know we have three branches of government. Republicans, only controlling the House, have openly demonstrated their willingness and power to bring the country to its knees through unprecedented Congressional stunts and inaction.
It’s a simple lesson, America. If you want Obama to do something good for the country (like saving GM, preventing another economic catastrophe), then you’ve got to give him the foot soldiers. And if there’s anything we should have learned from the past three years, it’s that not only should the Republicans not be trusted with the House, but they don’t even deserve 40 in the Senate (although expect single-Senator holds to skyrocket when Republicans have no other procedural tricks).
Until then, people who wonder why the economy isn’t getting better faster should probably stop acting so confused.
Who are you voting for in 2012? The firefighter or the arsonist?
Aug 12, 2011 in Politics
While it’s entertaining watching Michele Bachman brag she would have torpedoed the US economy by forcing a default and then claiming we should elect her crazy ass over Obama, here’s a helpful reminder of just how good Obama has been for the country.
Borrowing money and spending to create jobs is fine if you’re building $8 billion aircraft carriers.
Aug 05, 2011 in Politics
Ugh. McCardle is in full blown denial over Medicare Part D.
I understand she gets paid for this. Any tri-corner hat wearing malcontent could write what she does. Oftentimes they do it for free.
Aug 04, 2011 in Economy
It’s amazing what happens when you stop caring what LimbaughPalinBeckAiles thinks of you. Frum:
Two years ago, Commerce estimated the decline of the US economy at -0.5% in the third quarter of 2008 and -3.8% in the fourth quarter. It now puts the damage at -3.7% and -8.9%: Great Depression territory.
Those estimates make intuitive sense as we assess the real-world effect of the crisis: the jobs lost, the homes foreclosed, the retirements shattered. When people tell me that I’ve changed my mind too much about too many things over the past four years, I can only point to the devastation wrought by this crisis and wonder: How closed must your thinking be if it isn’t affected by a disaster of such magnitude? And in fact, almost all of our thinking has been somehow affected: hence the drift of so many conservatives away from what used to be the mainstream market-oriented Washington Consensus toward Austrian economics and Ron Paul style hard-money libertarianism. The ground they and I used to occupy stands increasingly empty.
If I can’t follow where most of my friends have gone, it is because I keep hearing (a) question:
Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Wall Street Journal editorial page between 2000 and 2011, and someone in the same period who read only the collected columns of Paul Krugman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of the current economic crisis? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?
I know Very Serious People are supposed to sniff at Krugman and his numbers for saying things that the corporate media don’t want to hear, but he’s been right about things for quite a long time now, so Frum doesn’t exactly get a birthday cake for arriving at this moment, but it’s a good sign. A little late, though, as our fantastic great awesome austerity bill sends the markets tumbling…
Somedays you just have to go check the comments section on Michele Malkin’s blog to get a load of the runaway insanity. WTF is up with this?
I PRAY for the day I see (Obama) GO DOWN hard!! I want him in cuffs. I want him in an orange jump suit and living in Sheriff Joe’s tents. I want him to ADMIT he hates this country and has been a traitor all his life. I want to hear that from his lying blue lips. That is my dream. SOME of that will happen. I truly believe that.
I’m looking for a science journal where I can publish my theory that anybody who calls Barack Obama “Barry Soetero” is an asshole. It’s pretty scientific.
Wall Street and the Tea Party…what a relationship. Wall Street loves that the Tea Party wants to keep its taxes low and cut up all that troublesome regulation that makes them play fair, but then the Tea Party runs around doing shit like opposing TARP, holding the nation’s credit rating hostage and threatening a new recession, and choking off that government spigot that keeps the economy limping along (as opposed to crawling along, or rotting in a ditch along). What to do?
Ladies and gentlemen, some of you know a bit about dysfunctional, torrid love affairs where one day it’s epic bed parties and the next it’s dodging cutlery. *faraway stare*
So anyway, big surprise, Wall Street is now shitting its pants that spending is going to dip.
For months they sat around cheering on the tea partiers and declaring solemnly that the federal budget was just like a household budget and we needed “real action” on the debt in order to build confidence in the economy. Then, suddenly, when they got it, they realized that what they really wanted wasn’t dumb slogans but actual policies that would help spur the recovery. And that means looser monetary policy and fiscal stimulus.
So which is it? Has Wall Street really been sitting idly by during the whole debt ceiling debacle and has only now realized what it really means? Can they really be so steeped in the Fox News fantasyland that it never occurred to them until now that cutting federal spending during an economic downturn wasn’t really a great idea? Seriously?
Aug 03, 2011 in Politics
40 Democratic Senators committed to making sure the Bush tax cuts expire in their entirety, thus plugging the hole on the biggest cause of the deficit’s troubles by returning the country to the tax rates of the nineties. The Tea Party got their spending cut on the backs of the most vulnerable and defense cuts are likely to be protected at all costs, so…
Is it really so strange?
Two charts, same point: When Republicans don’t want to hear the truth, that choice makes them liars.
These charts render 90% of Tea Party babble into its original form, pure political horseshit:
Beware following up a Republican who screws everything up for everybody, because if they can do that, you can sure as shit bet they’ll try to pin the blame on you, even if you’re the one trying to fix the problem they created.
Free market, here’s your chance to do something good:
It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition to the bill.
Lofgren said the data retention requirements are easily avoided because they only apply to “commercial” providers. Criminals would simply go to libraries or Starbucks coffeehouses and use the Web anonymously, she said, while law-abiding Americans would have their activities recorded.
To make it politically difficult to oppose, proponents of the data retention requirements dubbed the bill the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, even though the mandatory logs would be accessible to police investigating any crime and perhaps attorneys litigating civil disputes in divorce, insurance fraud, and other cases as well.
“The bill is mislabeled,” said Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the panel. “This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It’s creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes.”
Not just crimes but civil lawsuits? Do you want a divorce lawyer rifling through your web surfing? Subpoenas for web chats?
Supporters of the measure characterized it as something that would aid law enforcement in investigating Internet crimes. Not enacting it “would keep our law enforcement officials in the dark ages,” said its primary sponsor, House Judiciary chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).
Just think how much escapes them because we don’t have listening devices in our homes. It’s interesting how every technological advance in invading the privacy of citizens must be enacted, lest we be accused of passively letting people do bad things.
Here’s how the free market has been working: Unlimited bribery of public officials is free speech. But your actual private speech on the Internet must be regulated, recorded, and reprimanded.