Friday, November 4, 2011

Last Call

Your chart for the day, from TPM.

As noted previously, the deficit Super Committee is gridlocked largely because the GOP is unwilling to accept higher taxes on wealthy people as part of a compromise with Democrats that also cuts Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. But the parties also differ on the question of whether their recommendations should include any near term spending and/or tax cuts to give the weak economy a much-needed boost.

How much revenue will the plan of the GOP members of the Super Committee actually raise?

That huge red bar of course, which you can't see because it's freakin' zero, that's why.  God, I hate Republicans.

Here's a baby goat just because I need something to counteract all this stupid.

Cain Unable, Part 7

If El Rushbo said the sun was a liberal media trick, at least 50% of Republicans would choose to live in total darkness because our Founding Fathers wanted us to evolve "magically be granted by angels" echolocation because Real Americans don't need your dirty hippie sunlight, and that's why Benjamin Franklin invented sonar, dammit.

Fifty-five percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they do not regard the allegation of sexual misconduct as a serious matter. But while 22 percent of Cain’s own supporters call it serious, that jumps to 44 percent among those who aren’t backing Cain. Among Romney’s supporters it’s similar, at 49 percent.

As noted, it makes a difference. Among all leaned Republicans, 69 percent say the controversy surrounding Cain does not make a difference in their vote; 23 percent say it makes them less likely to support him. That “less likely” number, however, shrinks to 3 percent among those who see it as not serious — but swells to 52 percent of those who do see it as a serious matter.

As ABL keeps saying, the second we find out any of Cain's accusers are white, he's going to find out exactly what constitutes a "serious matter" among Republican voters.  Granted, that's just an exercise in asking which is more acceptable for Republicans, misogyny against women in general or racism against Cain himself.  So far, misogyny is winning handily.  That may change when we discover the identities of his accusers.

Everything You Need To Know About Iowa Republican Caucus Voters

The "but Republicans will never tax me, just those other people" scam is arguably the most successful example of wishful thinking and voting against your own self-interest that I've ever seen.  From the Des Moines Register:

Two-thirds of likely Iowa Republican caucusgoers earning less than $50,000 a year believe they personally would be better off or in the same situation under Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, The Des Moines Register’s new Iowa Poll shows.

Research-group reviews of the plan have found that most families making $100,000 or less would pay thousands of dollars more each year.

“The larger point is that people don’t really understand what the 9-9-9 plan actually is, and they’re assuming incorrectly that they may not pay one or any of these taxes,” said Joe Rosenberg, a research associate for the Tax Policy Center, a group based in Washington, D.C., that bills itself as a nonpartisan economic research institute.

That "incorrect assumption" is of course the entire point of the plan.  These are folks that expect the GOP to stick it to the "47% that pay no income tax" which of course would never, ever include any Real Americans voting in GOP primaries.  The cloud of ignorance that makes it so easy to lead the nation off a cliff is largely self-inflicted, and that's just how the GOP and their corporate masters like it.

More importantly, Iowa Republicans are honestly expecting the GOP's flotilla of flat tax nonsense to punish the Others, (you know, "welfare queens", "young bucks on the street corner", and "those people in the day labor parking lot") not any of them.  That's what the dog whistle semaphore is spelling out for them day after day on FOX and El Rushbo. They truly believe that the notion that a consumption tax would ever be levied against working-class Republican voters in the Heartland is nothing more than a cruel liberal media trick.

The rest of the flat tax supporters know full well they're being asked to pay higher taxes along with the Others but also think that the super rich will reward them for their suffering, like the Midwest is full of roaming packs of Job Creation Angels who will zoom out of the sky and tag the deserving like Oprah used to give away prizes to her audience.  ("You get a job and YOU get a job and YOU get a job and YOU ALL GET JOBS!"  Cue giant box of jobs.)  These celestial hiring managers of course only visit the worthy, so you'd better be able to take your suffering like a Real American.  They're counting on getting a little something from the guys up at the top the trickle pile and calling it rain.

The devil convincing the world he never existed, and all that.

Cracked Logic

Crack cocaine offenders will receive shorter prison sentences under more lenient federal sentencing guidelines that went into effect yesterday.

The United States Sentencing Commission, a government panel that recommends appropriate federal prison terms, estimated that the new guidelines would reduce the federal prison population by 3,800 in 15 years.

The new guidelines will reduce the average sentence for crack cocaine possession to 8 years 10 months from 10 years 1 month. At a sentencing commission hearing in Washington on Nov. 13, members will consider whether to apply the guidelines retroactively to an estimated 19,500 crack cocaine offenders who were sentenced under the earlier, stricter guidelines.

The changes to the original 1987 guidelines could also add impetus to three bills in the Senate, one sponsored by a Democrat and two by Republicans, that would reduce or eliminate mandatory minimums for simple drug possession.

What the hell? Crack is a dangerous drug that destroys lives, causes crime from junkies supporting their habit, and violent crime from people who are under the influence and out of reality. But there is no break for marijuana users? Marijuana is the #4 reason for arrests, and for a drug that is less mindbending than alchohol. If you want to clear prisons and put the focus where the danger is, turn marijuana only offenses out and let prosecution of the truly dangerous drugs go without interference.

I'm calling bullshit. There will be more about this by the weekend, where I will write a follow-up showing where the war on drugs has ran off the rails.

Google's New Look

Some people love it, some people hate it.  I'm the former, I adore the new Gmail and Reader design.  Reader could use a few more functions built in, but I also understand this is the first of many shifts towards a universal Google design.  I won't bash them for what is missing just yet, I figure they have until the end of the year to run some follow-up tweaks and improvements.  This is the beginning of the path of all Googleness having the look and feel of an umbrella design, much like all Microsoft products have emulated the Office design that has evolved from square corners and one color scheme.  Google is going all the way with this design.  The "ribbon" at the top that lets you move from one service to another is one of the most understated and successful things I have noticed.  Nobody else seemed to be impressed with it so maybe that's just me.  

Here is a screenshot of old and new, thanks to CNET:

Gmail is now elevated to freaking awesome.  I am able to easily navigate the page, and the functions that were built in all worked flawlessly.  My Chrome plug-in and mobile website experience is smooth and uncluttered.  I have always been a Gmail fan from the first time I used it.  At the rate I'm filling up my storage, I will be 103 before I have to purge my archives.  Give or take a year, and factoring in my love for kitten pictures multiplying by decade, subtracting my tolerance for "send this to 100 people or your firstborn will be hit by a bus THIS REALLY WORKS" taglines.  I already loved it, but the new rollout and feel is an improvement in my book, though I can see why it may not be for others.

Reader is a bit of a mess right now, only because the major change is the one thing you can't change yet. The title and teaser fonts are large and no amount of scaling makes this as efficient as the old design.  Rather than scrap what they have, a simple toggle giving choices for the main article section will be enough to fix this.  For someone who subscribes to a paper or two it's no problem.   I get about 2,000 RSS headlines a day, so color and the skim factor is important to me.  What has spared me the most is that I use a phone app to keep my feeds caught up through the day, so I haven't had to feel the change so much.  The new sharing capabilities are cool and shows this is going in a good direction.  I still prefer the new design to the old one overall, with the ability to control my feeds and sort them having become easier and the improvement in contrast.

Google+ was a nice test drive for this template, and I expect to see it used as a testing ground because it is made to be social and easy to track.  It would be helpful if Google was a bit more forthright about what we should expect, so we can give input before releases.  I've been around long enough to see chains of development so I am willing to wait to see what comes out.  But without a little customizing and promise of changes the design won't fly long term.  The good news is, Google is requesting feedback and seems determined to apply it.

Do you guys like it or not?  And why?

The Federal Election (Out Of) Commission

If you're wondering why all the Obama administration's efforts to combat Republican voter ID disenfranchisement laws are going through Eric Holder and the DoJ, it's because the Federal Election Commission has all but been eliminated by the GOP.

Public Citizen noted that partisan deadlock since 2008 had prevented the six member agency from enforcing the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and performing other essential duties.

“The FEC is broken,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist with Public Citizen. “The Republican bloc of commissioners – selected for the FEC by Sen. Mitch McConnell to stymie enforcement of our campaign finance laws – have done precisely that. Partisan deadlock is paralyzing the agency. President Obama needs to step in and appoint new commissioners who will take their charge of enforcing the law seriously and responsibly.”

From 2003 to 2007, there were a total of 39 split votes on enforcement actions, according to a report (PDF) by the group.

But from 2008 to 2010, the number of split votes jumped up to 70, even though the total number of votes was drastically less. The deadlocked votes led to dismissed complaints.

Historically, the agency deadlocked on fewer than 2 percent of its enforcement actions.

The FEC is also pursuing far fewer audits of the financial activity of candidates and committees than it had done so previously. The number of audits dropped from 242 between 2004 to 2007 to just 84 between 2008 to 2010.

Five of the commissioners terms have expired, but they continue to serve on the commission.

And they will never be replaced because any efforts to do so will be filibustered by the GOP.   The most effective weapon the GOP has remains the ability to assure that the federal government is completely dysfunctional, and the Village's assurance that both sides will be blamed for the government's failure to operate at even a basic level.

Feature, not a bug.  Forever and ever, amen.  Just give into the GOP's demands and expunge Democrats from our political system and all the pain will magically go away...

Holding Your Own Folks Hostage

In other news, Republicans will continue to assure that the economy will never improve until America capitulates and gives them unlimited political power for all eternity.

Senate Republicans Thursday blocked debate on yet another portion of President Obama’s jobs bill — one that would have provided $60 billion for funding transportation projects, and seeded a new infrastructure bank.

The vote was 51 - 49 with only 2 members of the Dem caucus — Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) — joining the GOP.

Naah, infrastructure might be used to justify the government existing.  We can't have that.  Not like we have a serious problem with infrastructure in this country or anything.  With tax cuts we can build bridges and roads out of Laffer Curves.  But Republicans do stand for something, you know.

Republicans countered with a bill that would provide highway funding, but cut $40 billion in discretionary funds for federal programs, and that included legislation called the REINS act, which would give Congress an effective veto over executive branch regulations like worker and environmental protections. 

"Sure thing Mr. Obama, you can have your bridges as soon as you sign away all your executive power to Congress." Seems like a great plan, sponsored of course by my own Senator Rand Paul and in the House by my own Representative, Geoff Davis.  Gosh, I do love Kentucky Republicans holding bridges in their own state hostage just as long as the President abdicates the power to do anything so that Republicans can filibuster it until the end of time.

Your hopelessly shattered federal government, destroyed by Republican fanatics, is a feature, not a bug.


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