Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Last Call

And the other shoe falls:  Republicans plan to gut Medicaid by turning it into block grants and making states deal with the painful cuts, they play to gut Medicare by turning it into a voucher program and make seniors deal with the painful cuts, and now they plan to privatize Social Security and make everyone else deal with the painful cuts.

Introduced by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who also chairs the House's campaign efforts at the NRCC, the "Savings Account For Every American Act" would allow people to immediately opt out of Social Security in favor of a private "S.A.F.E." account. Eventually the program would expand to let employers send their matching contribution to workers' Social Security to a "S.A.F.E." account as well.

"Our nation's Social Security Trust Fund is depleting at an alarming rate, and failure to implement immediate reforms endangers the ability of Americans to plan for their retirement with the options and certainty they deserve," Sessions said of the plan, according to The Hill. "To simply maintain the status quo would weaken American competitiveness by adding more unsustainable debt and insolvent entitlements to our economy when we can least afford it."

Yes, let's solve the problem of the "rapidly depleting" Social Security trust fund (which is perfectly fine, by the way) by having Americans stop paying into the trust fund and then put their money in the stock market.   That worked out great for everyone's 401(k) over the last five years or so, didn't it?  Now imagine if everyone with a SAFE account lost half their value in another stock market crash, and had precisely nothing to fall back on because Social Security would have been shut down due to everyone pulling their money out now for SAFE accounts?

And even if you scream "the trust fund is a fraud!" look at the proposed solution by the GOP: let's put America's Social Security money into the hands of the same Wall Street tycoons that caused the dot-com bubble, the housing depression, and two recessions in the last 12 years.  The same folks we had to, as taxpayers, spend trillions to bail out...and let's reward them by giving them more of your money to use at the Big Casino tables, eh?

Anyone who thinks Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid is welfare is insaneYou've been paying thousands of tax dollars into those programs all your working life.  Now Republicans want to say "Sorry, you're not going to get anything back from that.  We think that's welfare, so we're screwing you out of your money and breaking our promise to you.  But hey, why don't you give your money in Goldman Sachs?  What could possibly go wrong?"

Republicans say "Well you can't trust the government...but you can trust the government when we say you should give your Social Security money to Wall Street!"  Keep that in mind when they tell lies about Democrats being the ones destroying the social safety net.

Does anyone buy that hogwash?  Republicans certainly think you're stupid enough to do exactly that.  But don't pay any attention to issues like this...quick, Anthony Weiner tweeted his junk!

Economy Of Words

Meanwhile, the latest WaPo/ABC poll shows the shine has worn off for the President zapping Bin Laden,the economy is still an anvil around Obama's neck, and that the GOP still is having serious problems competing.

Fifty-nine percent, a new high, gave Obama negative marks for his handling of the economy, up from 55 percent a month earlier.

Obama's approval rating on the deficit issue hit a new low of 33 percent, down 6 points since April.
The state of the economy poses a huge challenge for the president, whose re-election in 2012 may depend on his ability to convince voters that his economic policies have been successful.

The survey reflects a broadly pessimistic public mood as high gasoline prices, sliding home values and high unemployment numbers raised concerns about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery, The Washington Post said.

Eighty-nine percent of Americans say the economy is in bad shape; 57 percent say the recovery has not started and 66 percent said the United States was seriously on the wrong track.

Forty-five percent said they trust congressional Republicans over Obama to handle the economy, up 11 points since March.

The poll shows Obama leading five out of six potential Republican presidential rivals but in a dead heat with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Among all Americans, Obama and Romney are tied at 47 percent each. Among registered voters, Romney is ahead 49 percent to 46 percent.

Well, if only Romney is ahead of Obama at this point, and there's no way Romney survives the primaries, then things are going to be better for the President.   But with the 2012 elections some 17 months off, a lot can happen.  Republicans won't pass anything through the House that will improve the economy, and that's exactly what the GOP plan continues to be.  Do nothing to help the nation's unemployed and then blame Obama.

So far, it's working.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 14

And this is why I said Democrats had to stand firm on the idea of demanding a clean debt ceiling vote:  Republicans want to have another debt ceiling fight this time next year when they can do a lot more political damage.

A Republican demand that an increase in the U.S. debt limit be matched by spending reductions may do more than force painful cuts. It could mean another vote on the borrowing cap at the height of the 2012 election campaign.

With hopes fading for a grand bargain to rein in the debt, Vice President Joe Biden said he thinks a bipartisan group of lawmakers he’s leading in talks can agree on a $1 trillion deficit-reduction package to win enough votes to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August. Yet unless he can get Republicans to agree to raise the debt ceiling beyond that, it won’t be enough to get past the election, budget experts say.

“Nobody has put enough savings on the table to justify lifting the debt limit by $2-or-$3 trillion, which is what we have to do,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan Washington group that examines fiscal policy.

“I don’t know whether they have thought through the consequences of making this dollar-for-dollar deal,” Joe Minarik, senior vice president at the nonpartisan Committee for Economic Development and a former chief economist in the White House budget office, said of the Republicans. “They’ll have to make multiple, politically difficult votes, and the financial markets could be in a continued unsettled state.” 

That's exactly what Republicans want, to keep the debt ceiling circus in the news as often as possible for as long as possible, each time demanding more and more concessions from President Obama and the Democrats.  This is why you don't negotiate with terrorists, because they will use the same tactics again and again, upping the stakes each time and knowing they will get what they want.

If the Dems are dense enough to fall for this, 2012 is going to be a nightmare.  As long as they let the Republicans control the narrative, we'll never deal with issues of import, just an endless series of manufactured crises that the Dems always lose.  The only way to win is to no play their game, fellas.  You think Dems would have learned this by now.

Self-Inflicted Weiner Damage

It's pretty amazing how quickly even the blogs on our side are washing their hands of Anthony Weiner.  Mistermix at Balloon Juice:

As we watch Nancy Pelosi and Steve Israel beat the Wenis into a bloody pulp, consider this: Weiner’s district is a D+5 District in Brooklyn and Queens. It was previously represented by Schumer and Ferraro (in her prime, before she was reduced to ugly PUMA racism). Though it’s mainly white and older, it has an above-average percentage of college-educated residents, a much higher-than-average percentage (40%) of foreign-born residents, and whole bunch of traditionally Democratic Jewish voters.

In other words, NY-9 has been an incubator for quality Democratic politicians, and if Weiner quits at the end of his term, it’s pretty likely that another quality Democrat, hopefully with a little better Twitter-fu, will take his place. This isn’t NY-29, where Eric Massa’s extraordinary two-cycle race garnered an against-all-odds win in a tough R+5 district, and Massa’s resignation almost guaranteed a turnover. A Republican hasn’t represented NY-9 since 1923, so it’s pretty easy for leadership to push Weiner under the bus without thinking twice.

Right.  Because it's been so effing easy to find outspoken, passionate advocates with a spine on the Democratic side.  We'll just get another one, New York is apparently pregnant with them.

Look, I've had my problems with Weiner before, mainly on his eagerness to go after the President on Israel whenever possible.  But on the balance of the whole I'd rather have Anthony Weiner in the House than say, Heath Shuler or any number of his Blue Dog pals.  The situation in Washington  for progressives won't improve if we drop actual working, advocating, effective legislators because they don't meet the puritanical standards of the DC political press corps.

Weiner did lie.  I'm angry at the guy, I spent more than a few columns defending the guy and I feel like something of a fool for doing so.  I learned a major lesson.  I hope he has too.  That's a big, huge mark on his record and he will have to face the voters on that.

But if we let Weiner go under and say "We'll find somebody else in the future" then why should anyone in the House on the donks side stick their necks out and make noise about anything when they not only know the GOP will target them, but that they also know that we won't support them, either?

That's exactly what the right wants:  pliable, scared Democrats that believe they can't count on their base to back them up.  Why should they be "fierce advocates" of anything in that case?

And it's not like the other side hasn't done much worse and gotten away scot free, without even the heartfelt apologies that Weiner made in his too long press breakdown.  If only tweeted junk pictures were involved in Darrel Issa's case.

Weiner was targeted, and the GOP figures we'll do their dirty work for them.  Hell, guys like Ed Schultz are glad to comply.

So let's get all emo about Weiner while the GOP plans to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, our environment, science, and our economy in order to obtain and maintain political power.  Time to find some goddamn perspective, people.

Moose? What Moose?

When hyperbole and stupidity meet, you will find Sarah Palin.  She has mumbled her way through enough interviews lately and exposed her lack of knowledge about the country she seemingly intends to lead.  The whole peek-a-boo with the press is the latest in her disgusting attempt to get attention.  She's like a teenager, jumping up and down and waving her arms to people will look.

The funny thing is, at least one person won't play along.  Shep Smith said it best:

"We didn't even cover Palin's publicity tour on our newscast, because I looked for the word news in there somewhere and I couldn't find it."

I cannot say it often or loudly enough.  Sarah Palin is a menace.  She is not smart, she has no idea when to shut her mouth, she is nothing more than a cheerleader hired to knock out some publicity stunts.  She is, in fact, a bleating sheep with nothing to contribute but recycled ideas and rhetoric she can't defend because she doesn't really understand what she is saying.  She is an empty vessel seeking fame, when she lacks basic knowledge of how this country operates, what is required in a leader (you know, not resigning when something more fun comes along) and acts like a spoiled child when called on her crap. 

I look forward to the day she is given her due smackdown and released back into the wild.  That is one grizzly I would gladly see disappear.

The Camera Doesn't Lie

A West Palm Beach couple who filmed Monday morning’s deadly officer-involved shooting on South Beach has accused officers of intimidation, destroying evidence and twisting the facts in the chaos surrounding the Memorial Day shootings – a charge that police officials say they know nothing about.
Meanwhile, a South Carolina man charged with DUI in a second officer-involved shooting that morning says he is innocent.
On Thursday, The Miami Herald spoke to the couple that saw the end of the 4 a.m. police chase on Collins Avenue, then watched and filmed from just a few feet away as a dozen officers fired their guns repeatedly into Raymond Herisse’s blue Hyundai. They say the only reason they were able to show the video to a reporter is because they hid a memory card after police allegedly pointed guns at their heads, threw them to the ground and smashed the cell phone that took the video.

It's easy to get overexcited during a scene like this, but police are trained to remain calm.  They are also trained to recognize a citizen's rights, and are sort of supposed to uphold those.  I'm sympathetic to the fact that some criminals force a strong hand.  However, I'm not blind to the fact that this sort of behavior is uncalled for and is a gross abuse of authority.  After watching them shoot several rounds, it had to be terrifying to have a gun pointed at their head, something the police didn't deny.   

Your Political Cartoon Of The Moment

The Miami Herald's Jim Morin on Moosemania Historical Revision Bus Tour 2011:

Ain't that the damn truth.

Wouldn't You Like To Be A. Weiner Too

And it's not even a couple of hours before Anthony Weiner gets Manic Progressive'd in the back.  Ed Schultz in the parlor with the candlestick as he calls on Weiner to resign.

He then goes on to discuss with Rev. Al Sharpton of all people how Weiner has failed the Dems and needs to resign now (but run again in 2012 and let the voters decide). Hey Ed?  Coming from a guy who just got off of getting a second chance?  Methinks the host doth protest too much on this one.  Ed Schultz?  Not helping one iota.

If being an idiot is grounds for resignation from Congress, the place would be empty.

The Badger Awakens, Part 8

Just how terrified is the Wisconsin GOP of the growing recall effort of six Republican state senators there?  This terrified:

Yesterday, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel uncovered a new dirty trick that some Wisconsin Republican leaders are encouraging among their members. In a letter obtained by the paper, Dan Feyen, the chairman of the 6th Congressional District Republican Party, instructs his “fellow conservatives” to run spoiler candidates in the primaries for Democratic candidates. Referencing the recall election of Sen. Randy Hopper (R), Feyen argues that a primary would allow an extra month until the general election, which would give Republicans time to organize.

In a separate letter, Feyen also advocates for running a spoiler candidate in the Democratic primary that will decide a nominee to run against Sen. Luther Olsen (R). Here’s a screenshot of one of the letters, where Feyen is encouraging conservatives to support John Buckstaff for a “protest candidacy”.

Yep, that's right:  the Wisconsin GOP is now resorting to muddying the waters in the recall elections by throwing all their weight behind running fake Democrats in the recall primaries in order to get their Republicans replaced with...more Republicans.

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel notes that Buckstaff has a “has a long history of giving modest amounts to Republican candidates, including Walker and Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. He even gave $575 to Hopper’s campaign in 2008.” In a conversation with the paper, Feyen said that his efforts are actually being coordinated by the “RPW” — the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

The revelations about Feyen’s letters come on top of a leaked recording of GOP officials in La Crosse discussing how to get a “spoiler candidate in the recall election tentatively scheduled for Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke.”

Pretty sad stuff, really.  But it shows you how seriously the Wisconsin GOP is taking this recall effort, the lengths they will go to in order to maintain power there, and most of all the depths of the utter contempt that they hold Wisconsin voters in.

Yes, Wisconsin Republicans think Democrats are stupid enough to vote for a Republican-backed candidate in the Democratic primaries if they just lie and pander enough...


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