Monday, July 19, 2010

Last Call

Maybe the Blue Dogs aren't complete idiots.
The one Democratic member of Congress endorsed by the Tea Party Express formally rejected the endorsement on Monday, citing disgust with a satirical, racist letter penned by a spokesman for the group.

Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho) announced his rejection of the endorsement in a letter to the co-chair of the Tea Party Express on Monday -- roughly three months to the date after he became the sole Democrat to earn the group's backing. The congressman cited a fake letter (since removed from the web) that Tea Party Express spokesman Mark Williams wrote pretending to be a "Colored" person denouncing Abraham Lincoln for offering welfare to slaves.
The reprehensible blog post by your spokesman was clearly in poor taste. Whatever his reasons for writing it, his words reflect on all of those associated with the Tea Party movement. The proper response to his perceived slight on the issue of race was not to use inflammatory sarcasm. Rather, I would have expected your organization to instead highlight the Tea Party I know, the one with good, decent folks who care very much about the serious financial issues facing our nation and who themselves would find Mr. Williams' blog post distasteful.
Instead, the Tea Party Express has apparently decided to stand by Mr. Williams and support him in his own contention that he did nothing wrong. I cannot agree with that course of action. Since the Tea Party Express refuses to reject and rebuke Mr. Williams, I have no choice but to decline your endorsement.
I thank you very sincerely for your kind words about my work as a Congressman, and hope that your group can see the error of its ways.
A Tea Party endorsement for a Democrat is about as useful as a  Derek Jeter endorsement for a Boston pol, or teats on a boar, or a screen door on a submarine, or...well, you get the point.  Minnick's still a Dem.  He's not about to cross THAT big fat red line.

Not yet, anyway.

It Taxes The Imagination

Or in this case, it's imaginary Democratic tax increases from Republicanland. Exra Klein:
The new Republican line is that there's a “Democrat tax hike" on the way. And it's a big 'un: "An unprecedented $3.8 trillion increase" that will affect -- and this is their bold and underline, not mine -- "every American who pays income taxes!"
To understand what's going on here, you need to go back 10 years to the passage of the Bush tax cuts. In order to maximize the size of the cuts, Republicans had to minimize the influence of minority Democrats on the package. So they chose to run the bill through the reconciliation process.
But that posed some challenges. Budget reconciliation had never been used to increase the deficit. In fact, it specifically existed to decrease the deficit. That's why one of its rules was that you couldn't use it to increase the deficit outside the budget window. Republicans realized they could take that very literally: The budget window was 10 years. So if the tax cuts expired after 10 years, they wouldn't increase the deficit outside the budget window. They'd also have the added benefit of appearing less costly in the Congressional Budget Office's estimates, as the CBO duly scored them as expiring after 10 years, which kept the long-range budget picture from exploding.
In other words, ten years ago Bush and the Republicans actually did everything they accused Obama and the Democrats of doing on health care in order to get GOP tax cuts for the wealthy through reconciliation.  Then they waited, figuring the Democrats will now have to keep all the tax cuts or risk losing the American political landscape forever...or make massive spending cuts and do the same.

Pretty good plan.  After all, almost half of Americans now believed Obama signed the TARP bank bailout into law, not Bush.  If Americans can't remember who was President in 2008, what makes you think they remember who it was in 2001 that wrecked out economy with a deficit double whammy of trillions in tax cuts and trillions in Medicare drug spending?

Does anyone think the Village is going to correct the ignorance?  I didn't think so.


Things we cannot afford to pay for because of the deficit, according to Republicans:

Police Officers
Cities in general
Unemployment benefits
Broadband internet infrastructure

Things we have to pay for even if it increases the deficit, according to Republicans:

Tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year
Blowing things up in Iraq
Blowing things up in Afghanistan
"Accidentally" blowing stuff up in Pakistan
Apology/bribe money to Pakistan when we "accidentally" blow stuff up
Huge bloated Homeland Security apparatus

Class dismissed.  I have a headache now.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

It's a good thing Bill Clinton campaigned for Blanche Lincoln in Arkansas to give her that four point win over that nasty ol' progressive Bill Halter back in June.  Bill Halter of course being a Dirty F'ckin Hippie had no chance in hell to beat Republican John Boozman.

You know, not like Blanche Lincoln's much better chances against Boozman.
A new Talk Business Poll in Arkansas shows Rep. John Boozman (R) with a 25-point lead over Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) in the U.S. Senate race, 57% to 32%. 
Yep, good thing the Big Dog stopped those Dirty F'ckin Hippies from losing that Senate seat in Arkansas.

Welcome to Useful Idiot territory, Bill.

Irish Eyes Are Crying

Hey Emerald Isle, how's that austerity working out for you?
The Moody’s agency cut Ireland’s credit rating Monday, citing the country’s swelling national debt, the unpredictable cost of its bank-bailout plans and its weak growth prospects for the next three to five years.
Shares on the Irish Stock Exchange slumped after Dietmar Hornung, Moody’s lead analyst for Ireland, announced that the New York-based agency was dropping its credit-worthiness rating one notch to Aa2. Moody’s previously cut Ireland’s rating to Aa1 from the top grade, Aaa, in July 2009 as Ireland plunged into its worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
But but but but austerity fixes everything! Ireland's reducing its debt!  Irish workers tightened their belts and the Irish government did along with them and cut spending!

And since nobody's buying anything, Ireland is now crashing into a deflationary spiral.  That'll be us pretty damn soon if this path continues.  Ireland has done exactly what the deficit hawks want us to do, and as a result their economy is imploding.

But Very Serious People want us to cut the deficit in the middle of a recession.

Marco Rubio's Straw Maddow Argument

A strange ad out from Marco Rubio in Florida that basically says he's completely and 100% right on his GOP boilerplate economic plan because "Rachel Maddow says it's wrong."

No really, that's his entire argument.
Florida GOP Senate candidate Marco Rubio is out with a new web video laying out the argument that his recently released "12 simple ideas to grow the economy and create jobs" are smart simply because MSNBC host Rachel Maddow disagrees with them.

"How can you know the plan is right?" text reads in the video. "Rachel Maddow thinks it's wrong."

The ad then highlights a few staples of Marco Rubio's economic platform:
Marco Rubio Supports:
Extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.
Cutting taxes for American businesses.
Ending double taxation.
Repealing and replacing Obamacare.
The video concludes with the implication that if you "think Marco's ideas are wrong," you should just go ahead and watch Rachel Maddow. If you agree with Rubio however, you can donate to his campaign.
How did Rachel Maddow end up the bogeyman in 2010?  Rubio's got nothing better to do than to run against a TV news host?  Hey Waffles, you writing political ads for people?

No wonder Rubio's losing.

The Kroog Versus The Unbearable Lightness Of Midterms

Paul Krugman lays out the next six months.
The best way for Mr. Obama to have avoided an electoral setback this fall would have been enacting a stimulus that matched the scale of the economic crisis. Obviously, he didn’t do that. Maybe he couldn’t have passed an adequate-sized plan, but the fact is that he didn’t even try. True, senior economic officials reportedly downplayed the need for a really big effort, in effect overruling their staff; but it’s also clear that political advisers believed that a smaller package would get more friendly headlines, and that the administration would look better if it won its first big Congressional test.
In short, it looks as if the administration itself was taken in by the pundit delusion, focusing on how its policies would play in the news rather than on their actual impact on the economy.
Republicans, by the way, seem less susceptible to this delusion. Since Mr. Obama took office, they have engaged in relentless obstruction, obviously unworried about how their actions would look or be reported. And it’s working: by blocking Democratic efforts to alleviate the economy’s woes, the G.O.P. is helping its chances of a big victory in November.
Can Mr. Obama do anything in the time that remains? Midterm elections, where turnout is crucial, aren’t quite like presidential elections, where the economy is all. Mr. Obama’s best hope at this point is to close the “enthusiasm gap” by taking strong stands that motivate Democrats to come out and vote. But I don’t expect to see that happen.
What I expect, instead, if and when the midterms go badly, is that the usual suspects will say that it was because Mr. Obama was too liberal — when his real mistake was doing too little to create jobs. 
Not much to say here, other than Kroog's pretty much got the right of it.  The only question is how close the GOP will come to taking back the House and Senate.  Obama decided his constituency was the Village, not the American people.  As a result he did what the Village wanted, not what the country needed.  There's a difference, of course...but the result is all the same.

In the end, the Villagers exist to turn on a Democratic President.  Why Obama didn't know better, well perhaps it was because he was surrounded by Villagers.  In the end of course Obama made his own bed, and now we're all getting thrown out of it.

The True Name Theory Of Legislation

AKA the Ezra Klein Rule
You can't pass what you can't say.
More specifically:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid played dumb last week when a reporter asked him if the energy and climate bill headed to the floor would come with a “cap” on greenhouse gas emissions.
“I don’t use that,” the Nevada Democrat replied. “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.”
If you can't say cap and trade, no cap and trade bill will pass.  So, as Ezra says, there will be no cap and trade bill.  If you're searching for a new phrase to call the bill, your influence over the bill is dead.  That works both ways (see Republicans trying to call heath care reform "Obamacare" and the financial regulation bill "The Permanent Bailout Authority") but if Dems are floundering for a new thing to call Cap and Trade, well that's dead too.

Harry Dresden said it best:  There's power in something's true name.

National Insecurity Apparatus

Hey, Tea Party smaller government guys?  Where were you when the Republicans were demanding all this after 9/11 -- and getting all of it?
"There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that - not just for the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], but for any individual, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defense - is a challenge," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an interview with The Post last week.

In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials - called Super Users - have the ability to even know about all the department's activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation's most sensitive work.

"I'm not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything" was how one Super User put it. The other recounted that for his initial briefing, he was escorted into a tiny, dark room, seated at a small table and told he couldn't take notes. Program after program began flashing on a screen, he said, until he yelled ''Stop!" in frustration.

"I wasn't remembering any of it," he said.
850,000 plus people with top secret or higher security clearance, all redundantly not finding Osama Bin Laden and putting 5 year olds on flight watch lists.  All this new security stuff created by your friend George W. Bush here.  The right hand not only has no idea what the left hand is doing, it can't find the left hand because there are a couple hundred of them all doing slightly different things, and none of them know the full picture.

Now here's some government that I agree needs to be made smaller.  You know, so we can afford unemployment and roads and schools.

Do read through that WaPo special report on our national insecurity apparatus.

Crystal Balling It

Doug J at Balloon Juice ponders what happens if the GOP takes over the House, a government shutdown...or worse?
The government shutdown was a political failure for Republicans—it did no damage to Clinton, who sailed to victory in 1996. The trouble with a government shutdown, from the Republican perspective, is that it generates too many stories about people who couldn’t visit public parks that week and that it focuses attention on actual budgetary details; it’s a battle fought on reality-based turf, and that terrain is not favorable to Republicans.

Endless investigations are another story. While Republicans did suffer losses in 1998, the fact that they won the White House in 2000 means that impeachment must be viewed as something of a political success. Moreover, modern Republicans excel at destroying their opponents personally, and personal destruction was the end goal of the various investigations of Clinton.

There are those who say that Republicans won’t be able to do this with Obama, because there is nothing significant to investigate. I would ask them to remember that Gingrich-era Republicans took 140 hours of testimony about the Clinton’s Christmas card list.

Here’s how it plays out, I think…if Republicans take the House, they’ll launch endless, pointless investigations of Obama. At least some of these will have a nasty, racial tinge, a la the New Black Panther Party stuff. Establishment media will take all of these investigations very seriously and start hankering for a president who “can bring the country together”. This sets the stage for a Republican nominee who is a uniter, not a divider (who knows if the GOP will succeed in nominating a candidate who can dupe Villagers into buying this line—EDIT: I think Villagers will buy it from John Thune or Mitch Daniels, they won’t but it from Sarah Palin, with the other possible nominees, I’m not sure one way or the other).
I disagree with him partially.  Impeachment wasn't a success, the whole Florida fiasco was something else and it wasn't Clinton on the ballot.  I actually think we'll see both a government shutdown AND impeachment in the next two years if the GOP gets the House back.  Americans have stopped giving a damn altogether about infrastructure in this country.  They've stopped caring about schools and stopped caring about roads and stopped caring about maintenance altogether and as a result, the vocal Teabagger minority is absolutely trying to shut the government down.

So yeah, you thought it was bad before, America?  Put the Republicans back in charge. Obama Derangement Syndrome every day of the week, all you can eat poutrage, and the economy will burn, burn, burn.

Running The Numbers

Nate Silver's latest Senate update is here, and it's not good news for the Dems.
The model gives Republicans a 17 percent chance of taking over the Senate if Charlie Crist caucuses with them, up significantly from 6 percent three weeks ago. If Crist does not caucus with them, their chances of a takeover are 12 percent. However, the model does not account for the contingency that someone like Joe Lieberman or Ben Nelson could decide to switch parties, which makes their chances slightly better than we suggest here.

Democrats' chances of gaining a net of one or more seat and re-claiming a 60-seat majority are 7 percent, down from 12 percent three weeks ago. If they could persuade Charlie Crist to caucus with them, however, their chances would improve to 10 percent.
That's the bad news.  The somewhat better news?
Rasmussen now accounts for ~55% of the raw polling data we use in our Senate model. We have lots of ways to counteract this, but still --
So yeah, depending on Nate's model's corrections, control of the Senate may or may not be in play.  But Nate's numbers on a 59-41 Congress right now have a better chance of the GOP picking up ten seats and getting to 51 than the Dems picking up one seat and getting to 60.  If everything goes the GOP's way in Nate's chart, it's entirely possible that Charlie Crist could decide which party controls the Senate. 

Food for thought.

We're Disinclined To Acquiesce To Your Request

Mitch McConnell was on the Sunday shows yesterday proudly telling America that the GOP really doesn't have any other plans other than to say NO to everything.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, McConnell ticked off a litany of Democratic agenda items that his party has opposed.

“Look, what we are proud to say no to, and I think what the public wants us to say no to, are things like the government running banks, insurance companies, car companies, nationalizing the student loan business, taking over our health care,” McConnell told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

McConnell also pointed to the recently passed financial regulatory reform bill, the growth of the federal workforce, action by the Federal Communications Commission to assert authority over the internet, and the possibility that the National Labor Relations Board will change the law regarding how unions can be formed.

“Yes, we are opposed - let me make it clear, we are absolutely opposed to all of those things, and proudly so,” McConnell said.

But the GOP leader quickly added that his party agrees with the president on other issues and is willing to work on passing some legislation the president says he wants.
Like what, Mitch?  Unemployment benefits for Kentucky that you and all the other Republicans keep voting against?  Kentucky unemployment has been hovering between 10% and 12% for the last 18 months, and you think the deficit is more important?

You know they told me back in 2008 that if I voted for the Democrats, they wouldn't have any solutions to the problems, but the Republicans did.   Those GOP solutions appear to be saying no and watching the country burn while doing it.

Good plan, huh?


Related Posts with Thumbnails