Saturday, May 14, 2011

Last Call

The Kroog makes the case for Obama resisting the Republican blackmail on the debt ceiling, but doesn't see a way out of not defaulting.

In that case, however, what should Obama do? My answer is that despite all that, he must not let himself be blackmailed.

Partly that’s because once he gives in the first time, the blackmail will never stop. Once the crazies know that they can get whatever they want by threatening to blow up the economy, they’ll just keep demanding more and more. Obama just can’t let that dynamic get started without setting up an even worse crash down the road.

Plus, the hard right may claim that it’s worried about deficits, but it’s actually deeply fiscally irresponsible. Realistically, the Ryan plan would sharply increase the deficit — because its spending cuts are in many cases impossible, and its supposed revenue neutrality is a sham. So giving in to the right would be just as much a signal of banana-republic-hood as a temporary default.

This is going to be very ugly. But I don’t think there’s any way to avoid taking it all the way to the edge, and possibly over it.

And he's right.  The Tea Party has made it clear that any Republican who votes for raising the debt ceiling for any reason will be the first up against the wall come primary season.  I was convinced that the Powers That Be would never allow the Republicans to wreck the treasury bond market.  But it looks like they're now more than happy to do so if it means finishing the transfer of the rest of the country's wealth to the top 1%.

And here's the problem:  we are a banana republic.  We have a higher instance of income inequality than two-thirds of the countries on earth, ranking us with Cameroon and Uganda.  America has worse income inequality than countries like Greece, Ireland, or Spain.  It's higher than India or Kenya.  Hell, it's higher than Tunisia, Ivory Coast, or Egypt.  Double hell, we have a far more unequal income distribution than Iran or China.

And now Republicans are convincing us that our economy is unsustainable.  The only reason it is is because we refuse to make the wealthy pay taxes on their wealth OR their income.  We lowered both on the wealthy almost ten years ago.  What happened to our economy as a result?  The Gini index for the US is higher now than it was during the Great Depression.

Think about that.  We live in the New Gilded Age.  The wealthiest Americans live lives we can't even dream of.  The other 300 million of us?  We exist to put money in their pockets.  And now the Republicans are convincing us that the only solution is that we have to make crushing cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security or else the country will collapse.

These are the same people who said cutting taxes would be a rising tide that lifted all boats.  Instead we got the worst financial crisis in generations.  So why would we believe the Republicans now?  Because FOX News tells us to?

Think about that.

Huckabee Or Not To Huckabee, That Is The Question, Part 2

Nope.  I was wrong.  He's not running.  The one guy that actually could have survived the primary and beaten Obama (granted, he had the best chance of the various snowballs in hell) is not going to run after all.


Huckabee Or Not To Huckabee, That Is The Question

The Huckster will be announcing whether or not he makes another run at the brass ring tonight on his FOX News show.  Emails sent out suggest he's going to go for it.

Although Huckabee did not tip his hand as to his final decision, an email obtained by Time's Mark Halperin asked his friends: "Please be patient if I don't respond immediately to an email because I expect that once I pull the trigger Saturday night, things will get even crazier, as if that's possible."

The former Arkansas governor frequently leads in national polls of Republican primary voters and, with Haley Barbour not running, would be the only candidate with a strong claim to the Southern voters that form the backbone of the party. Despite being significantly outspent in 2008, he won an upset victory in the Iowa caucuses and won large shares of the vote in a number of other states, including South Carolina.

Huckabee's top advisor, Ed Rollins, told ABC News that he does not believe he Huckabee will enter the race. But he added that "if he announced tomorrow night, on Monday I could push the button and the campaign would start to unfold."

In his e-mail, Huckabee said that he had only come to his final decision, whatever it may be, at the last minute.

LeBron Huckabee?  Really?   He's not fooling anyone of course he's going to run.  All he has to do is keep his mouth shut until the competition self-immolates, and he wins by default.  Of course that won't be hard with Newt Gingrich immediately blowing himself up by calling Obama "the most successful food stamp President ever" competing with Ron Paul for the title of "biggest racist asshole in the Republican Party".  Mitt will get zapped for MassCare, and that pretty much leaves Huckabee by default.

Scary thought, huh?

New tag, The Huckster.

I'm Sorry Citizen That Is Above Your Security Clearance

As I mentioned Friday, Google Blogger blew the hell up and tons of us lost everything between Wednesday afternoon and Friday morning.  Google restored nearly all of it, and the blog here is back to normal.

Ann Althouse wasn't so lucky.  As annoying as I find her, her blog is completely gone right now, and nobody deserves that kind of horrible luck.  As an IT professional for a Fortune 500 company, I understand the problems of rolling out upgrades in an enterprise environment and watching them completely foul things up, then having to roll things back.  Data gets damaged and has to be restored, and it takes a while...I know, it's my job to deal with things like that.  Google is working to restore her blog.  It happens and it sucks, but if anybody on Earth would have good data recovery/disaster recovery protocols, it's freaking Google.

That's not the point.  The point is Althouse believes this was deliberate.

You know, I'm beginning to suspect that there's some behind-the-scenes campaign to report my blog as abusive. People who hate/fear the Althouse blog could make a loud noise to Google.

Moe Lane at Redstate declares it's now the new Right Wing Poutrage Of The Weekend.

Well, isn’t this interesting: apparently Blogger/Google has decided to remove Ann Althouse’s blog.  They’re also being neither particularly helpful in either explaining why, nor sounding particularly sympathetic that it’s been taken down, either.

Wonder if this has anything to do with Ann’s objective (and thus, anti-administration) coverage of the Wisconsin protests?  I certainly hope that it has nothing to do with that…

See, now it was deliberate.  No mention of the massive crash that took down all blogs for 30 hours.  Instapotatohead goes from there:

THE FOLKS AT GOOGLE don’t quite seem to understand the Althouse blog. Hey, guys, it’s not a spam blog. It’s been in the New York Times and everything. You should put it back up.

UPDATE: A reader emails with a link to a Save Ann Althouse’s Blog Facebook page.

See, now it was deliberate because "Google thought it was a spam blog".   And now the Right Wing Noise Machine has gone fully automatic into "Google: Evil, Incompetent, Or Both?"...

...which was promptly foiled by Althouse's blog coming back in one piece later on Friday.   So now law professor Althouse and law professor Instapotatohead are getting together and wondering if she should sue the pants off Google and of course Instapotatohead says "Go for it!  Connect Four!"

And so, yet another RWNJ meme is born.  Only the interference of these brave legal eagles stopped Google from secretly killing Althouse's blog.  Conservatives have defeated Obama's techno-thug minions at Google with Real Ultimate Power or something.  I'm sure the campaign to go Galt and abandon Blogger and "put them out of business" is already underway...

Paranoia is awesome.  And the right?  Man, they are swimming in it.  Ann Althouse is the single most important voice in conservative blogging ever, so of course Google would mastermind a huge system outage to provide cover to remove her blog by "accident" because she's SO GODDAMN POWERFUL.  She's been mentioned in the NY Times.

Hey wait, I've been mentioned in the NY Times.  Holy hell, I'm part of this conspiracy!  AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Playing With Fire, Getting Co-Burned

The role of Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn in the John Ensign scandal may be the most interesting part of the story.  As I explained yesterday, Ensign ran for the hills and resigned barely ahead of the release of the ethics report that recommended his expulsion from the US Senate.  But, as Rachel Maddow explains, Coburn is still in the Senate even after doing crazy nonsense like this:

Sen. Coburn denied vehemently on a number of occasions that he played any role in this when the scandal broke.  Then he turned state's evidence against Ensign and cooperated with the FBI and the ethics investigation.  He swore that as an ordained minister and doctor (he's a OB/GYN) that he would never talk about "privileged" information.  Then he spilled his guts to the Feds.

And he admitted to the Feds that he was the negotiator between Ensign and the Hamptons, negotiating how much money it would take to make the Hamptons go away.

So my question is this:  Why is Sen. Tom Coburn still senator?  If you're an Oklahoman, is this the guy you want representing your state?

Keep an eye on Coburn.  That's the real battle.

And Now We'll Hear From The Landed Gentry

Well it took a while, but I've finally found someone who I hate more than my senator, Rand Paul.

His goddamn father.

Ron, like his son, said that his statement about the Civil Rights Act has nothing to do with the law's intentions -- i.e. ending institutionalized discrimination in a wide swath of American life, including in the public accommodations where African Americans were denied service at the height of the Jim Crow era. Paul said he would vote against the law because it imposed unfair rules on what private business owners can and can't do on their own property. Essentially, they should be free to discriminate if they wish, Paul says, however distasteful that may be.

I believe that property rights should be protected. Your right to be on TV is protected by property rights because somebody owns that station. I can't walk into your station. So right of freedom of speech is protected by property. The right of your church is protected by property. So people should honor and protect it. This gimmick, Chris, it's off the wall when you say I'm for property rights and states rights therefore I'm a racist. That's just outlandish.
Paul added that any talk of the segregated South that the Civil Rights Act aimed to reform is too old to be relevant anyway, saying the specter of Whites Only signs is "ancient history."

Besides, Paul says that the Jim Crow laws would have ended without the Civil Rights Act anyway, a view held by many libertarians who believe the free markets solve social problems.

Such an eerily clinical dismissal of the struggle of minorities in this country.   The problem is not that Ron Paul is for property rights.  It's that he's for property rights trumping civil rights, free speech rights, and pretty much the entire Bill of Rights as well.

But as awful as that is, it's Ron Paul presuming to tell me that the trials and tribulations throughout history of black folk like myself make him too damn uncomfortable and that he wants me to just get over it already that really seals the deal for me.  Oh, and that I should be enlightened enough to accept that the right to be a racist supersedes my right not to put up with racist assholes, should I be on the piece of property the racist asshole in question owns.

Well, this blog is my intellectual property, so Ron Paul shouldn't have too much of a problem with me calling him a racist asshole on my own blog.  Except you know, he's too busy going on the teevee and saying he's not a racist for promoting the idea that it's okay to be racist.

But the best part is if the entire rest of the known universe says "Ron Paul, you're a racist asshole" then we are enslaving Ron Paul because we're impinging on his right to be a racist asshole (who is magically not a racist because SHUT UP THAT'S WHY.  Oy.)

I've said before that Ron Paul is 30% makes sense and 70% crazy asshole.  Forget the 30%.  He's just a crazy asshole.  Start the clown car.

Me?  I'm carrying around a square yard of turf from now on so I can unroll it, stand on it, declare it my property, and then tell any Paultards in earshot that I win all arguments because my property rights defeat anything else they have.

New tag:  Ron Paul Has A Blimp.

A Nation Of Octogenarian Welfare Queens

That's what former Reagan OMB John Cogan believes Social Security and Medicare have created in America:  a country of senior-citizen millionaire welfare queens driving Cadillacs at 20 MPH and really, really old bucks gumming T-bone steaks. His solution to this horrible socialism?  The Ryan Unicorn Plan, of course.  But Cogan's screed reveals the deeper pathology of the conservative mind...

To fix Social Security, Congress should start by limiting the increase in benefits of future retirees to the rate of inflation. Congress should then gradually raise Social Security's normal retirement age. Congress should also allow younger workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes—and create more incentives for them to invest their earnings—in safe, broadly-diversified, stock and bond funds. This would allow younger workers to become millionaires through their own hard work and thrift.
To fix Medicare, we must move away from the current system of fee-for-services and low copayments. First and foremost, copayments should be increased significantly. Medicare recipients need to have more skin in the game if they are to become cost-conscious medical consumers.

The higher copayments can be offset by reducing Medicare premiums and offering more Medicare health plan choices. Rep. Paul Ryan's proposal—to provide fixed annual grants to enable Medicare recipients to buy an affordable private insurance plan—is a fiscally sound way to achieve this outcome. Competition among providers, not government-administered prices and government boards of experts to determine coverage, is the best way to ensure high quality and reasonably priced health care. 

So that's the first half of the plan:  privatize Social Security, cut future benefits, and jack up the retirement age to 70, 72, 75 and then  privatize Medicare, cut benefits, and jack up co-payments.  No more guarantees, seniors.  You're on your own.  Death panels?  more like Death giant committees.  But that's standard, boilerplate Conservative stuff.  Pay attention to the reasons why Cogan says we need to cut off seniors:

Many of the million-dollar couples believe they rightfully deserve the benefits they have been promised. They have, after all, spent all of their working years paying into Social Security and Medicare. And true enough, the typical 66-year old couple and their employers, on their behalf, have contributed nearly $500,000 in payroll taxes (in today's dollars) toward these benefits during their working careers.

But regardless of how much they have contributed, the hard reality is that the federal government has already spent it. No matter how deserving they are, it is younger generations of workers who have to come up with the money.

So today's seniors need to consider how they want the script for "The Millionaire" sequel to be written: There's a knock at the door. We now know that on the other side there's a check for a million dollars. When the door opens, do we really want to see our children, under the commanding gaze of Uncle Sam, presenting us with that check?

The shame and guilt of being on welfare, that's the weapon of choice here.  Cogan wants you to feel awful that the benefits the government promised you when it took taxes out of your paycheck for 45 years might actually get paid back, because if you take them, you hate America's children.  Conservatives are rushing to attach as much stigma as possible to Social Security and Medicare as evil welfare that "Real Americans" would never take.

Seniors and especially baby boomers heading into retirement, like people my parents' age, are the new Welfare Queens.  And the Republicans have declared all out war on them, in an effort to split the country and have us at each other's throats while they loot the country with more tax breaks for the richest Americans.  They hope you're stupid enough not to notice.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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