Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Last Call

I leave you with a must-read from Dave Neiwert on right-wing populism, which is more accurately described as producerism, and what it means for the Palin/Beck Hoffman Effect on the GOP:
The kind of wingnuttery Beck is embracing -- and promoting -- is a product of the kind of politics that now has conservative America in its thrall: right-wing populism. And it's not just Beck -- it's Sarah Palin, the Tea Parties, and the broad mainstream of the American Right who are careering down this path.

Take this prime moment in yesterday's Beck show as an example. Beck -- being our Fearmonger in Chief, as usual, with handy chalkboard in hand -- told the audience that we have three potential economic outcomes facing the USA: Recession, Depression, or Collapse. In other words, Disaster, Doom, or Total Annihilation. It was, as always, an uplifting scenario. He also described how we normal folks respond at each step. Paying off our debts, building fruit cellars, that sort of thing.
Then he got to the third one:
Beck: The third one is Collapse. That's 'Get out of debt and save,' plus, 'Have a fruit cellar,' plus -- I like to call the "three G system" here for this -- it's, uh, God, Gold, and Guns.
Now personally, you might take God and put him as an umbrella over the whole thing. And then you got your gun and your gold down here too. But that's your choice.
"God, Gold and Guns" has quite the ring to it, doesn't it? And the thing about it is, it could stand in all three aspects as the Battle Cry of Right-Wing Populism -- not just now, but as we've known it for most of the past thirty years and more. Before Beck, there was the Posse Comitatus, and the militias, and the Ron Paul wing of the GOP -- all right-wing populists, and all focused largely on the mythology of right-wing "constitutionalism", whose three great appeals to the masses have revolved around embracing the notion of a "Christian nation," returning the U.S. to the gold standard, and defending gun rights.
And that's what it boils down to, God, Gold and Guns.  If you have all three, then you win...and those who don't lose by default.  Winger populism has always been the pursuit of all three, and more importantly the right to pursue all three without being contested.  That's what America has been reduced to in this worldview.

Do read the whole thing.

A Googleplex Of Fools

Considering Google has no problems censoring free speech in China, it seems to have rather dropped the ball on its search engine leading to a rather ugly racist image of Michelle Obama.
For most of the past week, when someone typed "Michelle Obama" in the popular search engine Google, one of the first images that came up was a picture of the American first lady altered to resemble a monkey.

On Wednesday morning, the racially offensive image appeared to have been removed from any Google Image searches for "Michelle Obama."

Google officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Google faced a firestorm of criticism over the episode. First, it banned the Web site that posted the photo, saying it could spread a malware virus. Then, when the image appeared on another Web site, Google let the photo stand. When a Google image search brought up the photo, an apologetic Google ad occasionally appeared above it.

The ad redirected users to a statement from Google which read, "Sometimes Google search results from the Internet can include disturbing content, even from innocuous queries. We assure you that the views expressed by such sites are not in any way endorsed by Google."

The California-based company then explained that search results rely on computer algorithms that take into account thousands of factors.

"The beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google, as well as the opinions of the general public, do not determine or impact our search results," it said.

The company said that the integrity of its search results is extremely important.

"Accordingly, we do not remove a page from our search results simply because its content is unpopular or because we receive complaints concerning it."
No, but you've got no problem removing pages from your search results if Chinese officials tell you to censor it.  Ugly racist stuff?  That's fine. Good call, Google.  Real classy.

Going Coup-Coup Again

And now El Rushbo is wondering whether or not the men a women of West Point should try that military coup thing when the President arrives there next week.
Limbaugh noted that President Obama will be delivering his upcoming speech on Afghanistan, from the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"My question is: Will they detain him?" said Limbaugh. "Hopefully."
It occurs to me that neither El Rushbo nor Glennsanity ever served in the military, and don't have a very high opinion of the sense of duty or honor of our troops.  And yet these two idiots get to spew their degrading, dangerous trash on a daily basis, all in the name of our military:

Limbaugh, hoping Obama is detained at West Point...

...and Glenn Beck hoping that our troops commit war crimes.

Who hates the troops again, exactly?  Who has contempt for our rule of law and our traditions of honor and justice here? Who embarrasses the country with their actions and puts our troops in danger with their rhetoric again?

The Kroog Versus The Liquidity Trap

Paul Krugman runs the numbers on the Fed's projections for the next three years and comes up with some very grim news.

Which raises the question, why is anyone talking about an “exit strategy”? On the Fed’s own forecasts, the economy will remain seriously depressed three years from now.

If we apply the Rudebusch version of the Taylor rule to the mean Fed forecasts, I get the following for what the Fed funds rate should be:

End 2009: -6.3%
End 2010: -5.4%
End 2011: -3.3%
End 2012: -0.6%

Yep: three years from now, we’re still in a liquidity trap, with no reason to raise rates above zero and a continuing need for quantitative easing and fiscal expansion.
So we're stuck in a liquidity trap until 2012 or later.  We need a serious stimulus to get the economy going, because it's going to be dead for another three years at least.

There's a cheery thought, eh?  Now imagine if Obama decides the trick to fixing all of this is to balance the budget, cutting spending when we're already in a deflationary spiral?

Can you say Great Depression 2?

A Breath Of Fresh Air

President Obama is heading to Copenhagen next month with a promise to reduce carbon emissions by the numbers in the current House legislation.
At the international climate summit in Copenhagen next month, Mr. Obama will tell the delegates that the United States intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “in the range of” 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 83 percent by 2050, officials said, reflecting the targets specified by legislation that passed the House in June but is stalled in the Senate. Congress has never enacted legislation that includes firm emissions limits or ratified an international global warming agreement with binding targets.

Mr. Obama will travel to the United Nations talks to deliver the promise in hopes of spurring significant progress at the summit. He will appear on Dec. 9, near the beginning of the 12-day session, on his way to accept the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Dec. 10, officials said.

By making the pledge in an international forum, Mr. Obama is laying a bet that Congress will complete action on a climate bill next year with roughly the same targets and will be prepared to ratify an international agreement based on the commitment.

But White House officials acknowledged that those outcomes are uncertain. They will depend in large measure on whether the Democratic sponsors of the climate legislation can win enough votes to pass it and whether major developing nations, notably China and India, deliver credible emissions reduction pledges of their own.
It is indeed a hell of a pile of chips Obama is putting on the table there.  Once again this will come down to a filibuster fight in the Senate.  Republicans will continue to scream CARBON TAX and CLIMATEGATE and pretend that Jeebus will magically fix pollution.  In reality we're in serious trouble as it is.
At least Obama's doing something about it.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I'm sure the Palin camp will be attacking Glenn Beck as sexist any time now.

(h/t Rumpies)

[UPDATE 5:12 PM] And here's Beck telling America's troops not to re-enlist because Obama is Commander-In-Chief.

Somehow I think Glennsanity has just crossed the Wingnut Rubicon.

Tested And Found Wanting

Back on Monday I noted the RNC was considering a ten-point purity pledge where a Republican's voting record had to be a certain way or else: if the candidate failed three or more of the ten points, then they would get no national backing whatsoever.  I pointed out then that Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. all would have failed the test (in Reagan's case he would have failed it miserably.)  The RNC hasn't adopted the proposal yet, but the Think Progress guys note at least 40 GOP lawmakers would have failed at least one of those points based on their voting record.
Yesterday, Republican National Committee member Jim Bopp unveiled a resolution to deny funding of candidates who do not uphold right-wing conservative values. The resolution, termed a “purity test,” is being touted as a mechanism for actually avoiding the party schism that occurred in the NY-23 special election, when the Republican Party nominated a moderate who violated several of the resolution dictates.

As the Hotline has noted, the resolution, if adopted, would boot key Republican candidates running for the Senate next year. National Republicans recruited Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE) to run for the Senate, even though they have bucked conservative orthodoxy in the past.
The real problem?  The Wingers like Red State's Dipstick Dipstickson don't think the purity pledge goes far enough.
Compare this to the Contract With America in 1994. That document had ten items that were substantive policy positions heavily poll tested and vetted to make sure something like 70% of the American public agreed with each one. Each statement was popular and therefore did not put candidates in awkward positions with voters, as some of the presently suggested issues do. And while there was no enforcement mechanism there either, there did not have to be — every issue was poll tested, mother approved, and voter supported.
Not so with this. And because this, unlike the Contract With America, might affect funding and seals of approval in the primary process, this becomes far more troublesome.

I would encourage the conservative members of the RNC to let conservatives sort out who is and is not a conservative, as opposed to letting any Dede sign up with no intention of ever living up to the pledge. Besides, the Republican Platform specifically says the GOP is opposed to government bailouts of industry, something the GOP, with a Republican President, pushed through Congress in 2008. If the GOP cannot live up to its own platform adopted at a national convention, it sure as heck won’t live up to any pledge put forward by a group of RNC committeemen.

Actions are far more important than words. We should leave it at that.
They won't, of course.  The civil war continues to rage.  The Party of Reagan is eating itself alive.  Saint Ronaldus would have been kicked out of the party for being a California liberal in 2009.

A Wise Man's Advice For Some Thanksgiving Turkeys

While helping ZandarDad with the holiday bird this morning, we got to talking about politics, Obama, and what the President needs to do, as often happens whenever I come to North Carolina to visit the folks.

"And you can quote me on this in your blog," he said.  "What Obama needs to do is be true to himself and just be a liberal.  If Clinton hadn't screwed around with Monica Lewinski, he would have gone down as one of the best President we've ever had because at least he was true to himself, he was a moderate and governed like one."

"I'd argue that Clinton was being true to himself when he fooled around, Pop," I answered.  "They were going to attack Obama as a liberal no matter what he did."

So with his hands in the giblets, he says, "Well, if Obama was true to himself and was a liberal, and acted like it, he'd get a lot more done.  He should have done that in the first place, he would have been better off.  He needs to to say to the Republicans 'OK, I tried it your way, you refused to work with me, so if you thought I was a liberal before, you're going to be really sorry now and you're going to wish you worked with me."

And of course ZandarDad is correct.  He understands the situation well.  The middle may not agree with you, but they will respect you if you stay true to yourself.

At this point, after a year of the Republicans blocking everything the Dems have tried to do, Obama needs to go for broke.

Govern like you got a pair, Barry.  Triangulation only got Clinton impeached.

Handicapping The Race

Nate Silver crunches the numbers on how bad Obama's approval rating would have to be in order for Sarah Palin to actually win in 2012.
It would be foolish, however, to come to any conclusions based on this evidence, since we're still talking about only five data points, most of which are not very relevant. Most incumbent elections are not very close -- the incumbent either cruises to victory or gets crushed -- and so there just aren't that many instructive cases in the range that we care about, which practically speaking means when the President's approval rating is somewhere in the 40s.

A better approach might be to look at Obama's polling against Sarah Palin. There have been 11 Palin versus Obama polls that have come out this year -- 8 by Public Policy Polling and one each from Rasmussen, Clarus, and Marist. Those polls showed Obama approval ranging from 49 percent to 55 percent -- not far from Dowd's sweet spot -- but Obama defeating Palin by margins ranging from 6 points to 23.

(More numbers after the jump...)

If It's Thursday...Or Not

Weekly jobs claim numbers are out early due to Thanksgiving this week, and they are notable for the fact that only 466K new claims were filed last week.  That's a significant improvement and it might mean that things are starting to get slightly better, but only if the jobless claim number keeps going down.  Then again, it could mean people are giving up on filing jobless claims this time of year too.  We have seen a steady 12 week improvement in the moving 4-week average.  It's now 496K, and I've said that we have to get under 500K to show any signs of improvement.

How long that will keep up, I'm not sure.  We're beginning to see the stimulus really kick in for job creation, and we'd still be in the 600K+ range each week without it.  It does mean the stimulus is creating jobs.

Just not a lot of them.


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