Sunday, August 8, 2010

Last Call

If even the happy face CNBC guye Mark Haines are noticing that the Tea Party kool-aid is spiked, maybe there's a slim hope after all.
The strange inconsistency of the Tea Partiers reached new depths recently when Nevada's Sharron Angle, running against Harry Reid for the US Senate, sat for an interview with Fox News on Monday. She told her interviewer, when asked about her relationship with the press, "We needed the press to be our friend. We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer, so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported."

In his defense, the interviewer laughed and appeared incredulous, but never challenged her bizarre view of the press' role in a free society.

The Tea Partiers love to claim that they represent the "Real America." Yet, here is their favorite candidate in the Nevada Senate race advocating for some sort of docile, captive press. What would a "real American" like Thomas Jefferson think? Fortunately, Jefferson was a prolific letter writer, so we know. 

In a letter to Elbridge Gerry in 1799, he wrote: "I am ... for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents." 

Jefferson himself was the subject of much hostile press coverage that consisted largely of lies and gossip. He could legitimately complain about biased media coverage. But, for a real American, the principle was much more important than his own comfort. In a letter to Edward Carrington in 1787, Jefferson wrote, "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." And in Jefferson's day, many newspapers were just mouthpieces for political factions.

So, how do these people, who claim to revere the Founding Fathers and American values, so strongly support a candidate whose views about the press are so anti-American? Jefferson would find Sharron Angle appalling. 

Tea Partiers, if true to American values, should, too.
Of course, the TP will dismiss this as "more liberal media whining" but the fact of the matter is while yelling about "smaller government" people like Sharron Angle want that government to control as much as possible:  to control what we are allowed to say, to control where and how we worship, to control who we can or cannot marry, to control how we reproduce, to control when the Constitution applies.

You have "freedom" and "liberty" only as long as you agree with the Tea Party.  If you don't, well then to them you no longer count as American.  Your rights can and should be taken away from you and they reserve the right to do it.

Anyone who tells you they are giving you freedom hasn't mentioned the price tag.

We've Been Here Before

When the going gets tough, the not-so-tough get to scapegoating immigrants.
As Republican members of Congress press for changes to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, preventing automatic citizenship for babies born to illegal immigrants, opponents insist the debate is not really about babies. 
Instead, they say it is about politics and votes – not fixing the immigration system.

Still, the debate could resonate in Texas, where not only 1.5 million illegal immigrants are estimated to reside but at least 60,000 babies are added to their households annually.

Parkland Memorial Hospital delivers more of those babies than any other hospital in the state. Last year at Parkland, 11,071 babies were born to women who were noncitizens, about 74 percent of total deliveries. Most of these women are believed to be in the country illegally.

State Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, accused Republicans of using the births to generate an explosive election issue.

"They're pulling the pin on the immigration grenade," he said. "It's all about the November elections and continuing to use the immigration issue as a wedge to win votes this fall."

But to Republicans, the emerging national debate is long overdue, considering that millions of immigrants have been living illegally in this country for years.

"They're violating our law, and we're giving their children the benefit of U.S. citizenship," said state Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, whose 2009 bill in the Legislature would have challenged the birthright of immigrant children.

That bill died in committee, although Berman has vowed to file another version next year that would prohibit the state from issuing birth certificates to the children of "illegal aliens."

"I've checked the Congressional Record for when the 14th Amendment was written, and the author was quoted as saying that it did not apply to foreigners," he said. "There's no question in my mind about it."  
The Constitution doesn't apply to whom Republicans don't want it to apply to.  That's what they have been about for years:  Limiting rights as much as possible and saying "screw you" to those they don't like.  The Republicans have become the party of defending the white, moneyed, Christian people in this county.  The Constitution doesn't apply to "terrorists", Muslims, gays, and now Latinos.

Pretty soon it's not going to apply to any of us.  What's the GOP plan to fix the economy?  Blame brown people.

It's literally all they have.

Everything's Fine, We're Fine Here, How Are You?

I'm beginning to honestly think the Democrats' plan is to lose on purpose and put the Republicans in charge of Congress just in time for our economy to collapse.
The U.S. economy will improve slowly and another round of fiscal stimulus probably wouldn’t be effective, former Treasury secretaries Paul O’Neill and Robert Rubin said.

Rubin, who served under Democratic President Bill Clinton, said the U.S. is “going to have slow and bumpy growth,” during a taped interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” aired today. A “major second stimulus” might create more uncertainty and undermine confidence, he said.
Companies concerned about demand won’t expand facilities or hire new employees until sales have improved, said O’Neill, who was Treasury secretary under Republican President George W. Bush. “We are moving forward at a pretty gradual pace,” he said. “But I don’t think things are terrible.”
The world’s largest economy may be cooling in the second half of the year as a scarcity of jobs limits consumer spending. At the same time, concern about the surging fiscal deficit has prompted President Barack Obama to urge lawmakers to let the Bush administration tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire this year.
While Rubin backed Obama’s stance, O’Neill reiterated that he strongly opposed the Bush tax cuts of 2003 and said the president and U.S. lawmakers need to focus on overhauling the entire tax system rather than on the expiring cuts. 
Atrios sums it up:
Oh, wait, demand is a problem. So the solution is nothing to help demand.

Got it.
Playing to lose is all I can think of.  9.5% unemployment and 16 million Americans out of work is just fine with O'Neill apparently.  Another stimulus will ruin "confidence" while continued deflation will...what?  Make people want to buy more?

We're done, folks.  Enjoy the ride down, because the elevator cable just got cut.

Broken Plan

Frank Rich points out that Obama Trumanizing the election and breaking it down to a rational choice between Bush policies and Obama policies may not be the best idea when you're counting on the American public to vote with cool logic over hot rhetoric.
Betting on amnesia is almost always a winning, not a losing, wager in America. Angry demonstrators at health care town-hall meetings didn’t remember that Medicare is a government program, and fewer and fewer voters of both parties recall that the widely loathed TARP was a Bush administration creation supported by the G.O.P. Congressional leadership. So many Republicans don’t know Obama is a natural citizen — 41 percent in a poll last week — that we must (charitably) assume some of them have forgotten that Hawaii was granted statehood. The G.O.P. chairman is sufficiently afflicted with amnesia that he matter-of-factly regaled an audience with the counterfactual observation that the war in Afghanistan, Bush’s immediate response to 9/11, began under Obama.

The president is also wrong when he says that every single current G.O.P. idea is a Bush idea. Many are not. And those that are not are far more radical.

A political campaign built on Obama’s faulty premises cannot stand — or win. The polls remain as intractable as the 9.5 percent unemployment rate no matter how insistently the Democrats pummel Bush. To add to Democratic panic, there’s their “enthusiasm gap” with the Tea-Party-infused G.O.P., and the Rangel-Waters double bill coming this fall to a cable channel near you. Some Democrats took solace in one recent poll finding that if Republican economic ideas were branded as “Bush” ideas, the pendulum would swing a whopping 49 percentage points in their favor. But even in that feel-good survey, only a quarter of the respondents were worried that a G.O.P. Congress would actually bring back Bush policies.
Not only is Rich right, he hits upon the only real solution to the election conundrum.
Given this spectacle, Obama and the Democrats are, if anything, flattering the current G.O.P. by accusing it of being a carbon copy of Bush. But even if the Democrats sharpen their attack, they are doomed to fall short if they don’t address the cancer in the American heart — joblessness. This requires stunning emergency action right now, August recess be damned. Instead we get the Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, offering the thin statistical gruel that job growth has returned “at an earlier stage of this recovery than in the last two recoveries.”

The tragically tone-deaf Geithner is on his latest happy-days-are-almost-here-again tour. He made that point in multiple television appearances as well as in a Times Op-Ed page article in which he vowed to “do more” to give workers “the skills they need to re-enter the 21st-century economy.” On the same day his essay appeared last week, The Times ran a front-page report on “99ers,” the growing band of desperate jobless Americans who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits. The 99er featured in Michael Luo’s article, a 49-year-old unemployed corporate worker named Alexandra Jarrin, is a late-in-life college graduate and onetime business school student who owes $92,000, as she put it, “for an education which is basically worthless.” She’s on the verge of homelessness not because she lacks the skills she needs to re-enter the 21st-century economy. She and countless others like her, skilled and unskilled, lack jobs, period.

The Democrats have already retreated from immigration and energy reform. If they can’t make the case to Americans like Alexandra Jarrin that they offer more hope for a job than a radical conservative movement poised to tear down what remains of the safety net, they deserve to lose.
And there it is. Unless Obama and the Democrats take strong action over the recess to fix jobs now, the GOP will win. It really is a simple as that.

The Mask Slips Again

John Cole flags this Rep. Peter King quote confirming why Republicans are ignoring the Prop 8 ruling:
King, the Long Island congressman, said that in terms of social issues, the raging controversy over the Arizona border laws is providing more than enough ammunition for Republicans in key districts.

The Arizona immigration law is there, there’s no reason to be raising an issue of gay rights” as a wedge, he said.
Hating the gay helped get Bush re-elected in 2004 but 2006 and 2008 were disasters for the Republicans as a result.  Now hating the brown is more than enough, it covers what they need to win in 2010.  2012 and onwards will be a disaster for them, but all Republicans care about now is making Americans hate people enough now so they can get back in power.

The rest is just frosting.

The Kroog Versus Rep. Paul Ryan Yet Again

Pro Tip:  if you're going to publicly pick a fight with a Nobel laureate economist about economics, bring your A game.  GOP Rep. Paul Ryan fails this simple test as he calls Paul Krugman out, only to get smacked down a second time in a few paragraphs.
Notice that Ryan does not address the issue of the zero nominal growth assumption, and how that assumption — not entitlement reforms — is the key to his alleged spending cuts by 2020.

I also see that Ryan is perpetuating the runaround on revenue estimates. If you read either this article or his original response to the Tax Policy Center, you could easily get the impression that nobody would do a revenue estimate, that CBO said it was JCT’s job, and JCT balked. Even Nate Silver has fallen for this. But read the original response carefully:
The Tax Policy Center analysis covers a 10-year period, but the Roadmap is a long-term plan with spending and revenue projections covering 75 years. As such, the analysis is not consistent with the long-term horizon of the plan. Staff originally asked CBO to do a long-term analysis of both the tax and spending provisions in the Roadmap. However, CBO declined to do a revenue analysis of the tax plan, citing that it did not want to infringe on the traditional jurisdiction of the JCT. JCT, however, does not have the capability at this time to provide longer-term revenue estimates (i.e. beyond 10 years) [my emphasis]. Given these functional constraints for an official analysis, staff relied on its original work with the Treasury Department and other tax experts to formulate a reasonable expected path for long-term revenues given the tax policies in the Roadmap combined with the economic growth projections available at the time.
In other words, Ryan could have gotten JCT to do a 10-year estimate; it just wouldn’t go beyond that. And he chose not to get that 10-year estimate. So it was Ryan’s choice not to have any independent estimate of the 10-year revenue effects.

And bear in mind that the Tax Policy Center critique was five months ago. If Ryan disagreed with the center’s estimates, he could have gone back to the JCT to get a different set of estimates. He never did.

By the way, if you look at the artful way his excuses are constructed — giving the false impression that he couldn’t get a revenue score for love nor money — how is that not flimflam?

Finally, why is Ryan denying that he proposes dismantling Medicare as we know it? Replacing the system with vouchers surely fits that description.
Ooooops.  Maybe Krugman's  characterization of Ryan as a "flimflam man" was impolitic, but it was accurate as hell.  Ryan then makes the classic mistake of doubling down on his own erroneous assumptions and expecting the Wingers/Reasonoids/McMegan to back him up on this.  The fact that it only takes Krugman about 300 words to completely win his argument shows you just how weak Ryan's position was.

Like most Republican policy positions, if you dig under the surface you find the same moldering Reaganomics idiocy from 30 years ago where tax cuts "fix" everything and only add to the deficit while transferring wealth up the ladder.  We need to have a serious debate about the economic direction of this country, but if Paul Ryan is considered a leading light when he's so wrong that even Paul Krugman has to come up to the guy and call him out, then one side -- the Republicans -- has nothing to say in that debate other than "no no no no no no" like a petulant child.

We need better.
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