Monday, November 8, 2010

Last Call

Ezra Klein crushes one out of the park on Meg Whitman's $140 million failure to win California's gubernatorial race.

That sort of money could tip a half-dozen (or maybe a few dozen, depending on how good you are at this) close elections toward the candidate who thinks most like you -- and in the new, post-Citizens United era, no one will know it was you spending it. That will make a much bigger difference than taking office yourself. And then, when one of your candidates eventually becomes president, you can just get them to appoint you to the Cabinet position of your choice. And you'll probably have enough money left over to start a think tank or endow a research center or enlarge an existing institution devoted to pushing the issues you consider important. 

That's Meg's real failure.  She could have bought several House races instead.  Instead she blew $140 million on her own ego.  Epic evil corporate overlord fail.

The Only Way To Win Is To Change The Game

Because as Adam Serwer points out, Republicans win no matter what Obama does on the Bush tax cuts.

Republicans win if the Bush tax cuts get made permanent, and they win if the tax cuts expire. If its the former, Republicans get their preferred policy option. If it's the latter, they get to accuse Obama of raising taxes. The way the White House really loses politically is if the tax cuts simply expire, since even if the White House capitulates to Republicans on making all the tax cuts permanent the administration gets to claim they worked with Republicans to cut taxes.

But because Republicans win either way, they have no incentive to compromise, and can simply hold out for whatever they want. The more willing to negotiate the White House appears, the more likely Republicans are to move the goal posts. As with health-care reform, Republicans are left with the stronger negotiating position because they're willing to shoot the hostage. The deficit doesn't matter, and even preserving tax cuts for the wealthy comes second to the Republicans' primary goal, which is to destroy the president.

So yes, if the Bush tax cuts expire, they will hammer Obama for it until he's gone.  The only way Obama wins this game is to change the game completely, that is to continue his attacks by saying now that Republicans plan to shoot this hostage as Serwer puts it and are willing to raise taxes on 98% of America in order to keep tax cuts on the richest 2%.

That of course would mean Obama would have a different and more effective White House messaging shop, one that calls the GOP out on its economic extortion and does it repeatedly.

That of course is not going to happen.

Nancy Boy Feminists, Part 2

The pushback on Nancy Pelosi remaining in the House is getting very loud and very pushy.  Steve Benen:

Oddly enough, the usually-sharp editorial page of the New York Times seems to think the center-right Democrats have a point. After lauding Pelosi's tenure as Speaker, the NYT argues she has the wrong skill set for this other job.
Ms. Pelosi announced on Friday that she would seek the post of House minority leader. That job is not a good match for her abilities in maneuvering legislation and trading votes, since Democrats will no longer be passing bills in the House. What they need is what Ms. Pelosi has been unable to provide: a clear and convincing voice to help Americans understand that Democratic policies are not bankrupting the country, advancing socialism or destroying freedom.
If Ms. Pelosi had been a more persuasive communicator, she could have batted away the ludicrous caricature of her painted by Republicans across the country as some kind of fur-hatted commissar jamming her diktats down the public's throat. Both Ms. Pelosi and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, are inside players who seem to visibly shrink on camera when defending their policies, rarely connecting with the skeptical independent voters who raged so loudly on Tuesday.
I happen to think Pelosi would make a fine Minority Leader, but I'm willing to concede her detractors' argument isn't ridiculous. For one thing, in the wake of drastic losses, it's not unusual to expect a leadership shake-up. For another, the Times is right that Pelosi is a better legislator than communicator.

But there's one detail the editorial neglected to mention: Pelosi has already been House Minority Leader, and she proved herself pretty good at it. In fact, she was Minority Leader in 2006 -- the cycle Democrats took back the House majority.

Also, to be honest, the Republicans would made a ridiculous caricature out of any Democratic leader, it's what they do.  I like how the Republicans calling Nancy Pelosi a socialist dictator is once again put forth by the Village media unchallenged with the notion that instead of the media refusing to print junk like this, that it's Nancy Pelosi's job to convince the Village to brush off the attacks being repeated in the Village for the last two years.

Funny how all those oft-repeated attacks are Pelosi's own fault.


Apparently Sarah Palin is just now discovering that the United States has a "central banker", and that central banker (which is apparently called "The Federal Reserve") is a non-partisan entity designed to control monetary policy through "interest rates" and other means in order to affect inflation as a method of controlling the economy's throttle.

Professor Sarah Palin's Speechwriter (Ph.D. in Insert Your Own Moose Pun Here) seems to think the Fed messing with monetary supply and inflation is unheard of and nobody would ever do that.

We shouldn’t be playing around with inflation. It’s not for nothing Reagan called it “as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber, and as deadly as a hit man.” The Fed’s pump priming addiction has got our small businesses running scared, and our allies worried. The German finance minister called the Fed’s proposals “clueless.” When Germany, a country that knows a thing or two about the dangers of inflation, warns us to think again, maybe it’s time for Chairman Bernanke to cease and desist. We don’t want temporary, artificial economic growth bought at the expense of permanently higher inflation which will erode the value of our incomes and our savings. We want a stable dollar combined with real economic reform. It’s the only way we can get our economy back on the right track.

That loud murmur you're hearing is a thousand economists all going "Ho boy" at the exact same time.  Look, that's like saying, literally, that the Fed shouldn't do anything because the Weimar Republic existed at some point in the past.  You can't say "banks won't lend" and then say "But they have no incentive to because of government interference" when the cost of lending is dirt cheap.

Finally, the difference between Sarah Palin's opinions on Helicopter Ben and mine is, I freely admit it's just my opinion and that I'm a blogger.  Sarah Palin on the other hand is most likely running for President.  Somebody doing that should have policy positions better than "The Fed is the government and government is bad!" while running for government and having been elected to government.

Just saying.

Also, there is the little matter of Palin having no friggin' clue what the hell she's talking about on this subject.  if she really thought the issue was important, she'd stop treating it as a campaign talking point.

New Feature: StupidiSightings!

The Stupid are everywhere. This is a call to action for readers to submit their own sightings of The Stupid, so we can expose the ridiculous together! Whether it is local government, recent events or just a rant you've stewed on for months, send your submissions to the official Facebook page. Impress Zandar and he will reprint your article. Find something awful enough, and it will qualify for the Hall of Shame.

Gold Rush, Part 18

Gold crossed $1,400 an ounce on the way up today and shows no real sign of slowing down, nearly twice as much as it was at this point two years ago, it was trading around $745 in November 2008.

Just saying.  People have been awfully worried about inflation here.  Meanwhile our core inflation rate continues to match Japan's descent into deflationary fun as our core inflation is now 1% and falling.


Somebody's sure making a mint off this little scheme.

The Haunted Manchin, Part 2

Republicans are trying to flip WV Democratic Senator-elect Joe Manchin with the promise of committee assignments and good ol' fashioned pork.

Republicans are trying to lure Sen.-elect Joe Manchin (R-WV) across the aisle to become a Republican, Fox News reports.

"Aside from his pick of committee assignments (likely the Energy and Natural Resources Committee), Manchin might get support for one of his pet projects -- a plant to convert coal to diesel fuel that has stalled under Democratic leadership in Washington."

The reason: "Republicans believe Manchin is particularly susceptible to the overture because he is up for reelection in 2012 and will have to be on the ticket with President Obama, who is direly unpopular in West Virginia."

Sure.  And the Tea Party absolutely promises not to primary Manchin and won't attack him as a RINO, just like they did with Arlen Specter.  My guess is if they are seriously making a play for Manchin, Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson should be checking their emails as well to see what exciting offers they might have won from the Republicans.

Make those pork lists now, boys.  I'm sure the Tea Party will totally forgive you on the whole earmark pork thing too.

A Rubio Slipper

Senator-elect Marco Rubio of Florida is already slipping in and out of his Tea Party guise and has gone from his victory speech announcing that last Tuesday's vote was not a victory for the GOP to this week where he reveals he's just another Senator with an (R) after his name.

Rubio has already made it clear that he will not be a rogue senator. One day after the election, he declared his support for the GOP establishment when he said he looked forward to serving under Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. He didn't mention Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, viewed as the more ideologically pure conservative and alternative power center, who championed Rubio's campaign early on.

Two days later, McConnell tapped Rubio to deliver the weekly GOP address.

Rubio, 39, struck a pragmatic tone at the post-election news conference held in Miami, saying Republicans and Democrats have to work together to tackle big, immediate problems like the national debt and the war in Afghanistan. He did not launch salvos at President Barack Obama, as he usually does, and said he would reach out to Florida's Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

``Early on in the primary, a conservative group of passionate, well-intentioned people coincided with his beliefs and somehow he got this tea party label, which I don't think is totally representative,'' said Republican fundraiser Jorge Arrizurieta.

``Did he embrace and receive the support of the tea party? Absolutely,'' Arrizurieta said. ``But will he move away from being a real Republican candidate? No way.''

As mistermix at Balloon Juice points out, 

He got the Tea Party label by accepting Tea Party endorsements and telling Tea Party members that he looks forward to going to Washington and fighting for them:

Funny how that works.  Marco Rubio?  Tea Party poster boy?  Not me.  And you're going to see more and more GOP folks dump the Tea Party like a bad date, especially in the chummy Senate.

Lord Of The Ringers: The Return Of The Keith

Via Balloon Juice, I see Keith Olbermann has apparently been put in the time out corner long enough.

Keith Olbermann will return to the air on Tuesday after being suspended without pay for two shows (this past Friday and the upcoming episode on Monday).

The host of MSNBC's "Countdown" was given an indefinite suspension last week after his boss, network president Phil Griffin, discovered that Olbermann had made political contributions without seeking prior approval, as per NBC News policy.

A network spokesman released the following via email:
After several days of deliberation and discussion, I have determined that suspending Keith through and including Monday night's program is an appropriate punishment for his violation of our policy. We look forward to having him back on the air Tuesday night.
Earlier on Sunday, Olbermann broke his silence via Twitter, telling his followers "Greetings From Exile!" and thanking people for their support. 

I'm sure Keith will have some sort of special comment or something to say about it, just as Rachel Maddow did.  Again, I've stayed out of the Olber-mess because it was all kabuki anyway, and I'm far more interested in why he was really suspended in the first place, since I absolutely do not buy the excuse give by MSNBC's Phil Griffin.  Publicity stunt to rally the faithful after Tuesday's election?  Olbermann keyed Phil's car in the parking garage?  A memento mori moment from the evil overlords reining Keith in?  Contract dispute for the cash money?  I don't know.

Good to have him back, however.

2010 Disappointing Year For Women

2010 has been a great disappointment for women who were hoping for change.

Jennifer Lawless brings up an excellent point regarding successful women in politics. 2010 was a disappointment for many women who were hoping to see successful groundbreakers make way for women to come. Instead, women have lost ground in government, at least among Democrats.


"For the first time in 30 years, the number of women serving in the U.S. House of Representatives will likely decrease," Lawless writes. That can be filed under Not Good, which is between Oh Crap and Why Bother in the Bon's cabinet.

Meanwhile, a new surge of people are protesting the amount of pay women make compared to their male counterparts. Obama was outspoken about this while campaigning but has fallen short of major improvement. Some estimate that women earn 77% as much as men in the same jobs and equivalent experience. There is some haggling and debate about the figure, but that avoids the point that even a far smaller percentage is still unacceptable.

Black Hole

This Yahoo News story about 72% of African-American children being born out of wedlock in 2008 is bad enough (and it's not just African-Americans who have seen a massive increase in this statistic):

The black community's 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent.

N ow don't get me wrong, this is something of a problem across the American spectrum.  It's the reaction to the story over at Outside the Beltway that to me is just staggering.  Here are some of the comments

Except no one wants to confront the REASON for this illegitimacy :

Feminism, that lobbies for government subsidies of unwed motherhood.


The obvious isn’t obvious or even correct. The percentage of blacks born to unwed mothers has gone up even though abortions are legal and we teach sex education and contraception in our schools. Not only has it not worked, it’s actually made things worse. It’s impossible to look at the statistics and suggest anything else. You can’t substitute medical procedures and condoms and pills for traditional morality. We’ve tried that for more than 40 years and it’s been a total failure.

And more:

Perhaps we should start vigorously enforcing statuatory rape laws as a deterent. 

What a stupid idea. No wonder conservatives are such useful idiots for feminists.

The answer is to fight FEMINISM, not make ‘statutory rape’ laws even more absurd than they already are.

And here's my favorite:

We’re closely approaching Liberal Utopia. A whole race bred specifically to dependent upon political largesse of their Democratic Party benefactors for survival. Up next: hispanics.

Now, I know this is the standard wingnut reaction to stories like this.  African-Americans are too stupid to know that Liberals are keeping them on the plantation, we're all stupid immoral criminals anyway, the government subsidizes welfare queens, feminism created the two-income household and cut wages in half, all of it complete bull but these out-of-wedlock numbers keep going up.

The racism I reject out of hand based on the increase across the board in out of wedlock birth rates over the last 30 years for all races.

Maybe it's because as Matt Osborne pointed out last night, wages have remained steady since 1970 while productivity has more than doubled?  It seems to me that if wages kept pace with the increase in productivity like they did through the 50's and 60's, we wouldn't be having a number of social issues right now.

But for 40 years now wages have been stagnant while America is almost three times as productive as it was then, even with the addition of women to the workplace over that period of time.  So it's not women entering the job marketplace that caused wages to stagnate, rather stagnate wages forcing them to work.

Meanwhile taxation is as low as it has been in the modern era.  Many corporations have a tax burden of next to nothing or actually zero.  The top marginal tax rate has fallen even from when Reagan was President.  It's not taxes or the government causing the issue or globalization, we continue to remain the most productive country on Earth.

It just continues to appall me that people blame everything but the corporations who are profiting off of our sweat and not giving back.  It's not the government creating serfdom, your fealty has been sworn to Wall Street, folks.


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