Thursday, April 14, 2011

Last Call

Two questions for Tea Party conservatives:

1) How's that "We're going to cut $100 billion from this year's budget!" hopey changey thing working out for you guys?

2)  Based on your answer to #1 there, do you actually believe Jim DeMint is going to filibuster the debt ceiling?

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said on the conservative Laura Ingraham Show he is considering filibustering an upcoming vote to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit if it doesn't contain other fiscal reforms.

Asked if that would serve as the GOP's "Waterloo" in the 2012 elections, the senator replied, "If it is, then let it be."

Granted, Demint has no choice but to say things like this.  But will he follow through?

Grand Old Misogyny, Still

So the FY 2011 budget deal passed both the House and the Senate, and even though the Republicans tried to sneak in measures that would defund Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Care Act., those measures were defeated in the Senate.

Both measures were defeated along strict party lines, meaning that yes, once again all Senate Republicans went on record to defund health care for women, including "moderates" like Scott Brown and both the ladies from Maine, Collins and Snowe, as well as Texas's Kay Bailey Hutchinson.  Independent Lisa Murkowski came out in favor of Planned Parenthood.

But it goes to show you that Republicans, even Republican women, are quite the misogynists.  Somebody explain again to me how the GOP is the party of feminism and women's rights, I could use a good laugh.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I was listening to POTUS radio on Sirius/XM this afternoon, only to hear CNN's Gloria Borger complain that the President had gone "Clark Kent" by staying out of the budget fight, then proceeded to "undermine his own message" by being a "partisan flamethrower", and that Real America wanted to hear what he had in common with the Republicans by saying which provisions of the Ryan Unicorn Plan he was going to adopt, and really this was nothing more than a 2012 campaign speech yesterday.

Can we elect a better media?

Barry The Lead

The best a jury could come up with against Barry Bonds was an obstruction of justice charge...and that's it.

The decision from the eight women and four men who listened to testimony during the 12-day trial turned out to be a mixed and muddled verdict on the slugger that left more questions than answers.
U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on the three charges that Bonds made false statements when he told a grand jury in December 2003 that he never knowingly received steroids and human growth hormone from trainer Greg Anderson and that he allowed only doctors to inject him.

Defense lawyers will try to persuade Illston or the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to toss out the lone conviction. Federal prosecutors must decide whether it is worth the time and expense to try Bonds for a second time on the deadlocked charges.

Less than two miles from the ballpark where he broke Hank Aaron's career home run record in August 2007, Bonds walked out of the Phillip Burton Federal Building on a sunny, windy afternoon and looked on as his lead lawyer, Allen Ruby, held a sidewalk news conference. Ruby instructed Bonds not to comment because the case wasn't over.

Impeccably dressed in black suit and purple necktie, with a few days of stubble on his chin, Bonds flashed a victory sign to a few fans.

"Are you celebrating tonight?" one asked.

"There's nothing to celebrate," he replied.

I doubt Bonds will spend any time in prison, frankly.  Federal prosecutors went after America's Home Run King, it's true.  If only prosecutors had, I don't know, spent that $55 million dollars trying to go after yet another black athlete on, I don't know, trying to nail Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan, I'd have a bit more sympathy for them.   There's also the question of whether or not if Bonds was a white athlete, would we even be having this trial in the first place.

The government has spent far more prosecuting Barry here than anyone in the financial crisis, which cost America $13 trillion in wealth.  Which one do you think federal prosecutors should be spending time on?

That's Huffed Up

A blogger and union activist has filed a lawsuit against AOL and the Huffington Post for not paying freelance bloggers.

The suit claims the company unfairly pocketed more than $100 million from its unpaid bloggers when AOL Inc. bought the influential news website in February, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The suit, filed in a Manhattan federal court, comes two months after Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the website, sold it to AOL for $315 million.

Of that price, at least $105 million was the estimated value of the website's unpaid writings, which should now be given to the bloggers, the lawsuit says.

With the growth of the Internet and online publishing, it's natural for skirmishes like this to occur while we redefine rights and rates.  They don't stand a chance, but they wouldn't even if they were completely in the right.

Towel Thieves Beware

In another display of how technology is changing our lives, hotels are now experimenting with washable RFID scanners in linens and robes.  Customers who pay by credit card and walk out with the stolen merchandise can be billed for it.  Eventually, this is going to be how all shopping will take place.  No more lines at Wal-Mart, no more old-fashioned cash transactions.  What I'd like to know is how they are going to protect the public from hackers and thieves (not the robe-stealing kind).  Also, what will be done for mistakes, for they are sure to happen.

Birthers Get A Trump Card, Part 6

...where the state legislature is working on a bill to basically throw Obama off the state ballot in 2012.

Legislation that requires presidential candidates to prove they are natural-born American citizens before their names can appear on the Arizona ballot was approved by the state Senate on Wednesday.

The bill, H.B. 2177, requires presidential candidates to submit a certified copy of their birth certificate that includes their date and place of birth, the names of their mother and father, and the name of the hospital they were born at. 

The Arizona Senate passed the bill in a party-line vote of 20 to 9, with Republicans backing the bill. It now heads to the state's House of Representatives for approval.

The bill was sponsored by State Rep. Carl Seel, who recently met with billionaire real estate mogul and potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to discuss the legislation.

Hey look, The Donald again.  So what's the long game here?   Dave Weigel explains:

That's for every candidate, so only Donald Trump can qualify for the ballot as of right now. This has been written so that Barack Obama's certificate of live birth, which does not include the name of the hospital and attending physician, does not count

In other words, if this becomes law in Arizona, President Obama cannot be on the ballot in 2012 in that state.  That would more or less become a Constitutional nightmare even if Obama won the general election and the electoral college, because he would not be eligible for the office of President according to Arizona law.  But hey, if enough states pass birther laws and Obama's unable to be on the ballot in those states, we're going to have a hell of a problem here.

That's what the GOP is trying to do, kick the President off the ballot over this birther idiocy and hand the Presidency to whatever GOP schlemiel gets the nomination.

So no, I'm no longer laughing at Donald Trump and the birther idiots anymore.  These guys are seriously trying to destroy the country here.

Obama's Speech: The Morning After

Best analysis (video) of the last 12 hours or so:  Lawrence O' Donnell.

Best analysis (print) I'll go with Will Bunch.

Let's look at the strategy, starting with the 2011 budget battle that nearly resulted in a government shutdown last Friday night. It certainly looked like Obama and the Democrats were had in that deal by giving up $39 billion in short term cuts when it had seemed like House Speaker John Boehner had been willing to settle for just $33 billion. But as the details leaked out, it appeared that the cuts in the final deal were relatively inconsequential, even as Obama gained some political credit a) for his role in averting an unpopular shutdown and b) establishing some cred with moderate voters (who aren't going to sweat the details) as a Democrat willing to make spending cuts. Now, increasingly, it's the right-wing pundits -- joined by presidential hopefuls like Tim Pawlenty -- who say that they were the ones who got duped in the deal. You know what?...they're probably right, for once. (Note: To those angry that the cuts include dollars that might never have been spent anyway, I call that common sense. When you have to balance your household budget, do you drop the cable channels you don't watch anyway, or do you stop buying food?)

Now, on the long-term spending that Obama addressed in his speech today, it clearly was wise to let the Republicans go first. Undoubtedly, the path that the president proposed is the common sense way to balance the budget: By ending the historically over-the-top tax cuts for the rich and addressing related loopholes, by looking for cuts in our bloated and inefficient defense budget, and in seeking to reform Medicare by reducing the actual health care costs rather than just shifting the bill to the poor and the elderly and making a bunch of insurance CEOs even richer (at Ryan's low. low tax rate, of course.) It sounds good on paper -- but it sounds even better when you compare it to the unseriousness of the Paul Ryan proposal, which isn't even really a debt reduction proposal as much as yet another cost-shifting scheme away from the rich and onto the backs of the middle class.

That contrast is what really gave Obama's speech its energy.

I couldn't agree more with both men.  O'Donnell is completely correct when he said the entire point of the Bush administration was dismantling the Clinton surplus in order to create a massive budget crisis.  Bush succeeded more than any Republican's wildest dreams.  He destroyed our economy, period.  We went from a surplus to a complete budgetary disaster followed by a near financial collapse and a recession that continues today for a vast, vast majority of America.   That was, as O'Donnell says, the plan all along.

The plan was simply to force a crisis that Republicans would say proved that the social safety net was unaffordable...unaffordable due to Republicans slashing taxes on the wealthy and corporations, robbing the country of the revenue needed to pay for the promises we made to the other 95% of us.  They have succeeded completely in manufacturing this crisis and yes, they did it with the help of some Democrats.  Not all, but a great many.

What matters now is how we choose to fix the problem.  We've known the Republican answer for a generation:  dismantle Medicare, dismantle Medicaid, and abandon our promise to America's elderly and the poor, to throw the least of us to the vagaries of "fend for yourself like the rest of us do."  The other option, actually look at the fact the only growth in this country has been in the net worth accounts of the richest Americans and adjust their share of the burden, instead of the Republican plan to reward those who need the least at the expense of those who need the most.

Obama laid out a path to fix that.  And yes, I understand the war between spending into a recession and making cuts in one has been lost by the Keynesian forces.  I understand the debate has shifted to how much and who will bear the burden of the last ten years financially.  I understand the Republicans have scored a huge victory in that alone.  I understand that we are still owned wholly by the corporations. Obama's speech changed nothing on that regard.

But what we can change we'd better goddamn fight for, or even that will be taken from us.

Circular Firebagger Squad

Today's Joy Reid piece on anti-Obama liberals is especially prescient in the wake of the President's speech yesterday, but the greater point is that the firebaggers are not Obama's base, which is what the more pernicious elements of the media want you to think.  Kudos to Reid for pointing out the truth:  the firebaggers are fringe.

Polls show that more than 80 percent of self-described liberals and more than two-thirds of Democrats consistently approve of President Barack Obama’s job performance. But ask the Beltway media, and you’ll find that Obama is losing his base.

Perhaps that depends on what the meaning of “base” is.

If it’s African Americans or Hispanics or young voters, Obama still polls quite well. It’s unlikely that those groups will flock in 2012 to a Republican nominee invariably saddled with the birther, “throw grandma (and her Medicare) from the train, sate the rich, bust the unions and make the women have babies” madness that has overtaken the GOP.

But when cable news outlets or political writers go looking for “Obamacans,” they invariably turn to a rather elite group of liberals and progressive libertarians who, to put it mildly, are not high on the president.

To be honest, some of them never have been.

The argument over what and who is the "base" of the Democratic Party is largely irrelevant if your meaning of "base" is "I think the Democrats should do what I want them to do and I won't accept anything else."  Yes, I get frustrated on Obama's record on civil liberties and failure to do much of anything about the financial crisis...and then I gain a measure of perspective by seeing what the Republicans want to do to the country if they are placed back in charge and given a one-party rule scenario.  Obama's screw-ups frustrate me.  The Republicans in charge frighten me to the core of my being.  I will support Obama, thank you.

And that brings me to Reid's salient point:  Americans down in the trenches, who are not on TV, who are not making big bank, who are not writing magazine and major newspaper op-eds, understand this.  Do we wish things were better?  Hell yes.  Do we say "Well the guy's not perfect, so let's not bother to care or to vote?"  Well you know some of us did in 2010, and look where that got us.  If we repeat that same pattern will we hand the Senate and White House to the GOP as well?

Exactly how does that help the progressive cause, or the middle class?  How does pretending that Obama has near mystical power over the political reality of Washington and the Village help?  It doesn't...but that was never the point, was it?

If your "valid criticism" of the President leads to a long-term campaign of finding common cause with the Republican fringe, then ladies and gentlemen, you are the problem.


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