Friday, October 2, 2009

Last Call

Ezra Klein discovers that the death of the Democratic Party in the South and the rise of Contract With America II is just a tad premature.
But I asked the crack poll team at The Washington Post to send me favorability numbers for the Democratic and Republican parties in 1994 and now. My hunch was that Democrats are looking a bit like they were in 1994, but that Republicans are looking way, way worse. That their attacks on Democrats have worked, but that they've dragged themselves down as well. I wasn't prepared, however, for these numbers:


That comes from the CBS/NYT poll, which shows Democrats outperforming their January 1994 selves, while Republicans are wildly underperforming their '90s predecessors. The numbers, however, were surprising enough that I wanted to check them again. So this comes from The Washington Post's poll.


Politics is generally viewed as a zero-sum game: When one party gains, the other loses. But Republicans have pursued a strategy turning politics into a negative-sum game: Both parties lose. They have effectively harmed the Democrats' agenda but done so at great cost to their own favorability numbers.

In other words, yes the Democrats are hurting in the South. But the Republicans are hurting far more. People are just goddamn fed up with these preening jackasses, and the majority of Americans just want to get the country back on its feet so they can have a clean shot at improving it. The Republicans do not have an alternative. They don't have any real viable plans, because the Republican plans over the last 30 years have resulted directly in a huge meltdown of our economy. They don't have anything other than "Obama is a Socialist/Fascist/Kenyan Usurper/America-hating Hippie/Sekrit Mooslim Terr'ist/HE'S BLACK HIDE THE WOMENFOLK!" No way to improve unemployment. No way to solve health care. No way to fix global warming. No way to do anything other than to hate Obama.

That's it.

Even folks in the South aren't buying it anymore. Obama Derangement Syndrome is not a solution to America's problems. Not everything Obama is doing is a viable solution either, but he's made headway on at least laying the foundation, and he's making progress on a lot of things. I give him a hard time but can you imagine where we'd be right now under Old Man McCain and Moose Lady? Jesus.

America is so sick of these idiots. 2010 is going to be a damn hard lesson for one of the two parties.

Kroog Versus Helicopter Ben

Paul Krugman's not buying this whole "Now that the recession is over" garbage any more than I am.

Yes, the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration have pulled us “back from the brink” — the title of a new paper by Christina Romer, who leads the Council of Economic Advisers. She argues convincingly that expansionary policy saved us from a possible replay of the Great Depression.

But while not having another depression is a good thing, all indications are that unless the government does much more than is currently planned to help the economy recover, the job market — a market in which there are currently six times as many people seeking work as there are jobs on offer — will remain terrible for years to come.

Indeed, the administration’s own economic projection — a projection that takes into account the extra jobs the administration says its policies will create — is that the unemployment rate, which was below 5 percent just two years ago, will average 9.8 percent in 2010, 8.6 percent in 2011, and 7.7 percent in 2012.

This should not be considered an acceptable outlook. For one thing, it implies an enormous amount of suffering over the next few years. Moreover, unemployment that remains that high, that long, will cast long shadows over America’s future.

Anyone who thinks that we’re doing enough to create jobs should read a new report from John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute, which describes the “scarring” that’s likely to result from sustained high unemployment. Among other things, Mr. Irons points out that sustained unemployment on the scale now being predicted would lead to a huge rise in child poverty — and that there’s overwhelming evidence that children who grow up in poverty are alarmingly likely to lead blighted lives.

These human costs should be our main concern, but the dollars and cents implications are also dire. Projections by the Congressional Budget Office, for example, imply that over the period from 2010 to 2013 — that is, not counting the losses we’ve already suffered — the “output gap,” the difference between the amount the economy could have produced and the amount it actually produces, will be more than $2 trillion. That’s trillions of dollars of productive potential going to waste.

Wait. It gets worse. A new report from the International Monetary Fund shows that the kind of recession we’ve had, a recession caused by a financial crisis, often leads to long-term damage to a country’s growth prospects. “The path of output tends to be depressed substantially and persistently following banking crises.”

The same report, however, suggests that this isn’t inevitable: “We find that a stronger short-term fiscal policy response” — by which they mean a temporary increase in government spending — “is significantly associated with smaller medium-term output losses.”

So we should be doing much more than we are to promote economic recovery, not just because it would reduce our current pain, but also because it would improve our long-run prospects.
But of course that would mean spending government money and reforming the "free markets" that got us into this mess, neither of which Obama has shown much inclination to actually do.

Congress has even less inclination to do so. So yes, even the best case scenario right now is a generational malaise that will affect Americans for years to come. We will never regain our position as world economic superpower. It's only a matter of who will replace us and how quickly.

Cat, Errm, Moose Fighting

McCain's former campaign manager: Sarah Palin as president would be "catastrophic".
That famous infighting of the core McCain campaign versus Sarah Palin is still continuing, with former McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt openly saying at the Atlantic's "First Draft of History" symposium that it would be "catastrophic" if Palin were to win the Republican nomination in 2012.

Schmidt said:"Most politicians of prominence write a book. My honest view is that she would not be a winning candidate for president and if she was the results would be...catastrophic. It's fairly inconceivable she could be elected."

El Rushbo has now officially disowned "McCain and his people" as a result.

Gosh, I'm all torn up over grown people screaming at everyone but themselves, wondering why the bigoted, misogynistic, insular, ignorant racists in the GOP are having a hard time winning elections in 2009.

Next Time On Emergency 911

As Steve Benen points out, the Republican fallback position on getting sick is "Just go to the emergency room."
Zaid Jilani reports on one of the more ridiculous recent comments I've heard about health care reform.

One of the most radical opponents of health care reform is Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). He has said that a public option would "kill people." Last Tuesday, Broun was confronted by a constituent at a health care town hall who explained that he has gone into debt because he can't afford insurance for his major depressive disorder. In response to his constituent's story, Broun said that "people who have depression, who have chronic diseases in this country ... can always get care in this country by going to the emergency room."

Now, I was glad to see the crowd boo in response to Broun's answer. It represents a fairly twisted view of medical treatment, and the fact that Broun considers himself a leading GOP voice on health care makes his remarks all the more ridiculous.

Indeed, does Broun, who claims to be a physician by trade, understand that those dealing with major depressive disorders can't just stop by the E.R.?

But in the larger context, Republican officials' reliance on emergency rooms as a safety net is in desperate need of re-evaluation.

And while Steve is certainly correct, my big issue is Broun's treatment of depression and other serious mental illnesses as something you just need to wait to go to the emergency room for when it gets bad.

Now, maybe it's because my parents have both been in the mental health field for about five decades between them, but depression, mania, anxiety disorders, and other mental illnesses are serious issues that should not be taken lightly and relegated to "emergency room only" status.

The Air Let Out Of The Windy City

Chicago in fact was the first city eliminated by the IOC in today's vote. No 2016 games here.
Chicago was eliminated in the first ballot of voting for the 2016 Olympics on Friday, a stunning defeat for the city that was expected to be one of the two finalists. Not even the presence of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama — nor a long list of celebrities — was enough to help the United States’ third-largest city.

Chicago had seemed to pick up momentum in the last few days, with many International Olympic Committee members seemingly charmed by Mrs. Obama. But when IOC president Jacques Rogge announced the results of the first vote, Chicago’s name was announced.

Tokyo was the next city eliminated, leaving Madrid and Rio de Janeiro as the remaining cities eligible as IOC voting continued.
Well, it's all a moot point now. Would have been nice, too.

Still, good luck to Madrid and Rio. My money's on the first South American Olympics. And yes, it's a direct snub to the United States. You think the world's still a little mad at us after the last eight years?

[UPDATE 11:52 PM] Why are Wingnuts so happy with America's failures, anyway? You'd think they were treating this as Obama's personal disaster in some sort of deranged projection scheme...

[UPDATE 1:04 PM] Politico's Ben Smith: "The White House staked, and lost, some prestige on that one."

If Obama had not gone to Copenhagen, we would instead be talking about how Obama's refusal to put in a personal appearance like the other world leaders was the reason why Chicago lost.

[UPDATE 1:39 PM] And Rio is the winner. Congrats to Brazil's delegation.

But the biggest asshole so far in this? Dan Riehl, who opines that if McCain/Palin would have won, America's delegation to Copenhagen would have been full of "advocates who truly are proud of America and like her just the way she's been."

Yep. Dirty F'ckin America-hating hippie Liberals like the Obamas cost Chicago the Olympics, apparently.

God, I hate Wingnuts.


263K jobs lost in September, far more than the 180K economists were expecting, and more than were lost in August. Unemployment rate up to 9.8%.

The U-6 numbers have now hit 17.0%. The actual number of unemployed and underemployed is closer to 20%. States like Michigan continue to race towards 25%. There will be no fast recovery, period.

And 2010 will only be worse.

Harry Says Yes

After yesterday's less than enthusiastic defense of the public option, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now promising a public option will be included in any bill sent to the President's desk.
"We are going to have a public option before this bill goes to the president's desk," Reid said in a conference call with constituents, referring to some kind of government plan.

"I believe the public option is so vitally important to create a level playing field and prevent the insurance companies from taking advantage of us," he said.
Well that is much better. But can the Democrats deliver?

Because if they don't, the voters will let them know in 2010, count on it.


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