Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some Much-Needed Perspective

Unemployment up to 10.8%.  Presidential approval rating down to 35%.

Obama in November 2010?  Maybe.  But that's what Ronald Reagan was facing in November, 1982 during his first mid-term election.  Reagan of course went on to totally lose in 1984 to that Dukakis guy, right?

And yet Obama is supposedly the worst President we've ever had. Would Reagan have survived the age of FOX News?


Just sayin.

CNN Goes All Anarchist On Us

The one thing that Bush's massive mismanagement of our country has done for the Republicans is convince America that government cannot ever be trusted.  The Village insistence that the Dems are just as bad as the Republicans contributes to that as well.  A new CNN poll shows just how widespread the damage is.
A majority of Americans think the federal government poses a threat to rights of Americans, according to a new national poll.

Fifty-six percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday say they think the federal government's become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. Forty-four percent of those polled disagree.

The survey indicates a partisan divide on the question: only 37 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Independents and nearly 7 in 10 Republicans say the federal government poses a threat to the rights of Americans.
That's staggering.  56% of America believes the size of government itself is an immediate threat to Americans.  An immediate threat.  If that is true, if the majority of the American people honestly believe this is the case, then don't we have to rise up against the government itself?  Is that not the next step?

If you were looking for justification to do that, would this poll not validate that belief?  If you were looking to press violence against the government, would this not be the catalyst you would require in order to take action?

So why is CNN asking this particular question, equating the size of government itself with being an immediate threat to the "rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens?"  Is it not how a government is run, and not the size, that is the threat?

Not to socially responsible, "liberal" CNN.  Why not ask "Do you believe we should rebel against the notion of government itself?"  Yeah, anarchy!

Take power away from the government (who is accountable through elections) and give it to the corporations (who are not accountable through elections) because government is a threat to freedoms!

Gotta love corporate nihilism.

The True North, Strong And Free

Canada's women's hockey team celebrated an Olympic gold medal like any other team would celebrate:  they grab a few beers, smoke some stogies, and swipe the Zamboni.  Amanda Marcotte points out that some folks have a problem with this.
Oh, I’m sure people will swear up and down that men would get the same treatment.  And maybe they will....from here on out.  But let’s not fool ourselves here.  Some of the complaints are serious reaches, and not just when you express the idea that hockey players guzzling champagne (which is what the male winners of the Stanley Cup do as a tradition) is somehow an embarrassment to hockey’s image.  That they had to fend off complaints that this encouraged smoking is even sillier, but the mother of all concern troll complaints is that a player on the team was “underage” at 18, which is the drinking age in many parts of Canada.  That’s the sort of thing that screams “reach”, and the reaching is obviously due to the fact that a whole lot of people still have problems with female athletes, especially when they behave like athletes.

This tension seems pronounced when it comes to the Olympics, where a lot of properly feminine sports that involve costumes and the athletes starving themselves---like ice skating and gymnastics---are promoted heavily, and where women’s ski jump is still being kept out, with outdated arguments about ovary-jiggling being employed.  A lot of the Olympics organizers take the notion that the athletes are role models way too seriously, and when you start talking “role model” expectations and women, you’re going to start seeing a lot of sexist assumptions about ladylike behavior being employed.  Tracy Clark-Flory found at least one blogger using this incident to slam the very idea of women play “men’s” sports.  I wish hockey was that much of a threat to the patriarchy. 
Amanda absolutely has a point.  I seem to remember the USA men's hockey team trashed their hotel in 1998.  Nobody seemed to care then.  Frankly, having a celebration like this out on the ice, sharing the love in front of Vancouver's faithful, on home soil after winning a gold medal in the country's national sport?

Yeah, you get to swipe the Zamboni and chug a damn brew.  Lay off.  These athletes played hard, won big, and won it for the home country in the Olympics.  They've earned it.  Light it up, ladies.

Getting Biblical Out There

The 8.8 magnitude quake off the coast of Chile is bad enough with 122 confirmed dead so far, but the temblor has created tsunami warnings as far away from the epicenter as Hawaii.
It planned to sound civil defense sirens across the island state at 6 a.m. local time (11 a.m. EST) after the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami was generated that could cause damage along the coasts of all the Hawaiian islands,

"Get off the shore line. We are closing all the beaches and telling people to drive out of the area," said John Cummings, Oahu Civil Defense spokesman.

Buses will patrol beaches and take people to parks in a voluntary process expected to last five hours.
More than an hour before sirens were due to sound lines of cars snaked for blocks from gas stations in Honolulu.

"Urgent action should be taken to protect lives and property," the Warning Center said in a bulletin. "All shores are at risk no matter which direction they face."

The center has issued a Pacific-wide tsunami warning that included Hawaii and stretched across the ocean from South America to the Pacific Rim.

Geophysicist Victor Sardina said the Hawaii-based center was urging all countries included in the warning to take the threat very seriously.

"Everybody is under a warning because the wave, we know, is on its way. Everybody is at risk now," he said in a telephone interview.

The warning follows a huge earthquake in Chile that killed at least 82 people and triggered tsunamis up and down the coast of the earthquake-prone country.

The center estimates the first tsunami, which is a series of several waves in succession, will hit Hawaii at 11:19 a.m. Hawaii time (4:19 p.m. EST) in the town of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, with waves in Honolulu at 11:52 a.m.

Sardina said the Hawaiian islands could expect waves of six feet (two meters) in some places. Other estimates have been higher but he could not confirm those were likely.
Not cool.  Already there's reports of massive tsunami damage among some Pacific islands.  More on this as it develops.

Pass The Damn Bill, Part 6

Obama's looking to move forward on Pass The Damn Bill in the next few days.
The White House will announce next week -- "probably closer to Wednesday" -- the president's preferred path forward for getting health care legislation passed, spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Friday.

"The President will take into account what he heard yesterday, work through with the team some ideas and make an announcement next week about the way forward," Gibbs said.

Gibbs declined to get into specifics. But the widespread assumption on Capitol Hill is that Obama will address specific changes that he wants made to the Senate's version of the legislation (beyond the proposals he set forth in his own outline this week) and that he will encourage Congress to pass those changes using reconciliation, a procedure that precludes a filibuster.

One of the issues that could be addressed is the exemption of Floridians from cuts that the health care bill makes to Medicare Advantage. The president acknowledged during Thursday's summit that the carve-out didn't make much political or policy sense. And on Friday, Gibbs suggested Obama would want it gone.

"I think again, the president outlined a series of proposals based on good ideas from Democrats and Republicans in the past and I think you will likely see him take issues they agreed on yesterday and add them into a proposal going forward," Gibbs said.

Beyond that, Gibbs refused to budge. "I'm going to let the president make a decision and announce that decision as the best path forward," he said.
So if I read this correctly, the President favors incorporating even more Republican demands into the health care bill in exchange for...what?  What are the Democrats getting out of this, exactly?  What are the American people getting out of this, exactly?

Amazing.  This has been going on for a year now and we're still at the point where the Republicans are making the demands and the Democrats like Obama are saying "OK, will this work?  This is your idea on how to make this better."   The Republicans then say "No, we hate it, start completely over."

Just incredible.

Pass the damn bill already.  The Republicans are rendered irrelevant by their own actions.

Kyl And Bunning Do A Job On Thousands

Not only is my GOP Sen. Jim Bunning blocking federal unemployment benefit extensions because he believes they're too expensive, his buddy Sen. Jon Kyl is blocking them for a different reason:  he's holding the unemployed hostage to get a massive estate tax cut for the rich.
Well, it seems like at least one Republican is not, in fact, going to ensure that unemployed workers keep their benefits without first trying to cut taxes for the heirs of multi-millionaires:
On Wednesday, a top Republican leader said a deal on the bill would depend on working out the fate of the expired estate tax…Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said that Republicans will block consideration of the new bill unless they get “a path forward fairly soon” on the estate tax.
“I will insist on an agreement on how to proceed [on the estate tax], if we’re going to have unanimous consent on how to proceed with any of these subsequent bills,” said Kyl.

This is a fairly shocking admission of priorities. 1.1 million workers are scheduled to have their unemployment benefits expire in the next month, with 2.7 million on track to lose them by April, while unemployment is still at 9.7 percent and there are six unemployed workers for every job opening. 6.3 million Americans have been unemployed for six months or longer, which is the most since the government began keeping track in 1948 and “more than double the toll in the next-worst period, in the early 1980s.” Yet Kyl is willing to hold unemployment benefits hostage in order to fashion a tax cut for heirs of the very wealthiest estates.

Due to a Bush-era budgeting gimmick, the estate tax is currently expired, but it is set to come back in 2011 at the Clinton-era level, which Kyl has an intense interest in preventing. His proposal to slash the estate tax rate and increase its exemption would cost $250 billion over ten years, with 99 percent of the benefit going to the heirs of multi-millionaires. Under 2009 law, only 0.2 percent of estates are subject to the estate tax at all.

And it’s partially Kyl’s fault that the expiration happened at all. Back in December, Democrats tried to put in place a temporary extension that would have prevented the tax’s expiration. But Kyl, along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), blocked it in order to advocate for repealing the tax entirely.
Let's review.  Jim Bunning is throwing the unemployed under the bus in the name of fiscal responsibility.  Jon Kyl is throwing the unemployed under the bus for a tax cut for the kids of the wealthiest Americans, one that would cost the government far more than the unemployment benefits.

Kyl and Bunning are actually blaming each other at this point.  Bunning is mad that Kyl is adding another quarter of a trillion bucks to the national debt, and Kyl is mad at Bunning that he's not pushing for tax cuts for the super-rich (not a whole lot of them in Kentucky.)

Yes, that's right:  two Republican Senators are arguing with each other about what constitutes a proper reason to hold a million plus unemployed Americans hostage for political reasons.

These are the people you're going to throw the Dems out for because they're not progressive enough.  Really?

[UPDATE 8:57 AMBob Cesca reminds me that Jim Bunning's maneuver shut down the Highway Trust Fund as well (that's where the money was coming from.)   The Department of Transportation is now shut down until for 30 days minimum.  4,000 people just lost their jobs.

Bunning's willing to bet every one of those 4,000 people are Democrats, so they don't matter.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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