Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Call

There's very little room for misinterpretation of Jon Chait's latest NY Mag piece, if you go by the title:

How Obama Tried to Sell Out Liberalism in 2011

So, yeah.  For those of you keeping all hands and arms inside the boat on this, the short version is Chait completely buys this weekend's Kaplan Special on the President being at total fault in the debt ceiling debate last year for not rejecting the GOP out of hand and just using his Green Lantern ring to create a deal and tell the GOP take it or else.  When it became clear the GOP wouldn't accept any deal short of 100% of what they wanted, it was the height of liberal idiocy to continue down the path of good faith.  This constitutes, let's see here, that "Obama’s disastrous weakness in the summer of 2011 went further toward undermining liberalism than anybody previously knew".

Chait argues that President Obama wanting a deal -- any deal, mind you -- led him to treat the GOP as good faith partners when they were clearly not.  Republicans, he goes on to say, were going to screw POTUS and the country no matter what Obama did.  This is where Chait's argument turns into purist whining:  There was nothing President Obama could have done that would have changed the outcome of the GOP screwing us over (indeed, the GOP is now signaling that it will simply ignore the debt deal), and at the same time he didn't do enough to change the outcome.  It's just meaningless stupidity, brought about by the "liberal" Washington Post unloading this hit piece on the President, and Chait absolutely takes the bait, re-fighting the same arguments we had in 2010 and 2011 about "but if Obama had done THIS and LISTENED TO HOW SMART I AM..." five minutes after saying there was nothing he could have done.

There's nothing productive about this civil war re-enactment other than Chait scratching his own "Tell Obama what to do" itch that so many of our professional pundit class seem to suffer from.  But generating that itch was the entire point of the Kaplan piece.  Chait performed admirably, attacking the President from the left.  After all, attacks from the right aren't working too well, since the wingers keep putting most of their ammo into their own feet.  Whenever the left is winning, we have to be demoralized into our own worst enemies, and we're damn good at it.

It keeps pissing me off that we're really going to go through the same self-flagellation over this when we should be concentrating on taking back the House, keeping the Senate, and not losing the White House to any of the GOP dipsticks.  Instead, we're just going to bash ourselves in the gonads until the GOP crawls across the finish line.  Awesome.  Thanks, Jon.

Ryan Rhymes With Lyin'

GOP Rep. Paul Ryan today introduces this year's version of the "Austerity For Thee But Not For Me" plan, with all sorts of crazy promises and the elimination of the American social contract with the federal government.

On the critical issues of health security and tax reform, our budget draws a clear distinction between serious reformers and those who stand in the way of the growing bipartisan consensus for principled solutions.

Our budget's Medicare reforms make no changes for those in or near retirement. For those who will retire a decade from now, our plan provides guaranteed coverage options financed by a premium-support payment. And this year, our budget adds even more choices for seniors, including a traditional fee-for-service Medicare option.

We also introduce a competitive-bidding process to determine the growth of government's financial contribution to Medicare. Forcing health plans to compete against each other is the best way to achieve high-quality coverage at the lowest cost, and implementing these reforms in Medicare can have the effect of lowering health-care costs for everyone. This is the key to increasing access and affordability while preventing government debt from threatening the health security of seniors and the economic security of all Americans.

Our budget also spurs economic growth with bold tax reform—eliminating complexity for individuals and families and boosting competitiveness for American job creators. Led by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, our budget consolidates the current six individual income tax brackets into just two brackets of 10% and 25%.

We propose to reduce the corporate tax rate of 35%, which will soon be the highest rate in the developed world, to a much more competitive 25%. Our budget also shifts to a "territorial" tax system to end the practice of hitting businesses with extra taxes when they invest profits earned abroad in jobs and factories here at home. 

So, massive revenue loss from income and corporate taxes...in the trillions, mind you...means even larger cuts in social programs, education, health care, infrastructure, and everything else.  The plan magically eliminates the national debt by 2050 because "tax cuts will create unprecedented growth."  States also get block grants to run basically everything, and states have to balance their budgets.  So unless you believe that 90% of Medicaid dollars are wasted, you can kiss that goodbye too.

Best part about state block grants?  The end of the era of red states getting $2 or more for every federal tax dollar they submit.  That's the first thing block grants will kill and state politicians know it.  They'll get far, far less in block grants and told to make do.   For millions of Americans, that means they'll be on their own with no help.  The poverty will be massive.

Paul Ryan's austerity plan is going on right now in Britain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Ireland, and many other European countries, which are in or about to enter deep recessions in 2012 with no way out.  If Ryan and the GOP get control of the country in November, we'll follow them down the hole into a lost generation of economic disaster.  That's a guarantee. 

Best part?  Ryan claims his plan will eliminate the national debt by 2050.  That's a complete and utter lie.

But the House budget’s entire claim to deficit reduction is built on the foundation of those fantasy revenue levels. Without them, the debt goes up, not down. In fact, with all the House budget’s tax cuts properly accounted for, revenue would average just 15.3 percent of GDP from 2013 through 2022, not 18.3 percent. The result: deficits would never drop below 4.4 percent of GDP, and would rise to more than 5 percent of GDP by 2022.

Key word there:  Never.  We would never reach a balanced budget under the Ryan Plan.  Let me reiterate:  We would never reach a balanced budget under the Ryan Plan, let alone run enough of a surplus to pay off the national debt.  When Ryan says he would reduce the national debt to zero by 2050, he is lying to you.  He is lying to you because he thinks you are a gullible moron and will not question his numbers.

The national debt, measured as a share of GDP, would never decline, surpassing 80 percent by 2014, and 90 percent by 2022. By comparison, President Barack Obama’s budget proposal, released in February, would stabilize the debt by 2015, and bring it down to 76 percent by 2022.

So not only is he lying, but his plan is actually worse than the President's plan, which is supposedly going to bankrupt us with too high of a debt to GDP ratio.

New overdue tag:  Austerity Stupidity.

Burying The Needle

So the woman behind the awful anti-Obama bumper sticker that reads "Don't Re-Nig 2012" has decided that it's not racist because she says so. It's the other several million of you who are wrong, so LOL case closed. Forbes' Roger Friedman investigates:

Exclusive: Paula Smith of Hinesville, Georgia has a company called Stickatude.com. And they’re selling their own version of an anti-Obama bumper sticker that reads “Don’t Re-Nig 2012.” Ms. Smith told me in a telephone conversation on Saturday afternoon that the bumper sticker has been in their inventory since June 2010, but just in the last few days it’s started selling. The price is $3. Ms. Smith insisted that the bumper sticker is not racist. I asked her about the “N” word, for which “nig” is the shortened version. “According to the dictionary [the N word] does not mean black. It means a low down, lazy, sorry, low down person. That’s what the N word means.”

OK then, well since you've decided that the N-word is no longer racist, I've decided that you're pretty much an awful excuse for a human being. That was easy.

She continues, because of course whenever you ask a white person about selling bumper stickers alluding to calling the President the N-word, you have to continue, it's in the White Privilege Handbook.

“I just want someone that’s going to help the United States and not give it other countries all the time. And stop giving the immigrants the benefits that most Americans inside their own states can’t even get because they’re giving it others who don’t even live here as an American.

“I do find it amazing and entertaining that one of our stickers has become a racist thing,” Ms. Smith told me. I asked her if she thought the “N” Word was a bad word? “No,” she said, ” because I don’t use it. I have kids here around me that are black kids. I call them my own kids. I’ve helped black families…to guide them in the right direction. Paintball is one of these things. We like to laugh and have a good time. That’s our way of life.”

Really, what's so awful about it anyway? You people are too sensitive to things like this. In a country where being black and walking down the street with a bag of Skittles and some ice tea gets you shot in the chest and your killer gets to claim self-defense because he feared for his life...because, well, you're black, how can anyone possibly think there's still racism going on? We've got the Supreme Court ready to take out the supports on race-based college admissions after all and hey, the President's black. So what's the big deal, right?

Why would anyone complain about things like that, when black people have it so darn good, anyhow? Sheesh. Look, Paula, you don't get to laugh this off and decide that because you don't think it's racist that it's not offensive. You don't get to do that. It's not only racist, not only wildly offensive, but your whole "I help black kids so I'm absolved!" thing is pretty much the epitome of privilege assumption. No. No way, no how. Just no. You buried the needle on that.

Oh, and it's March. Still technically winter. We've got seven and a half more months of this to go, too, and we're already at "Don't Re-Nig." Just get to FOX News in blackface already, will you?

This Just In... Lindsay Lohan Makes A Good Decision

Ah, the power of sobriety.  According to TMZ, it seems Lindsay Lohan has shown some solid skills in making decisions.  She 1) decided to listen to people who care about her and 2) stay indoors for two silly little weeks until her probation is up.

She promised to do things like this over the past few years, but inevitably did something nutty and dangerous that brought her right back on the radar.  I think she finally realized she had no chances left, and decided to show a little maturity and restraint.  I mean, what is two weeks in the scope of a lifetime?  The smarter, safer Lohan sees it now.

She might actually make it this time.  If she doesn't, I think it's safe to say she will never get it.  Either way, she's used up all her good luck and wiggle room.

Good Deed?

We'll never know.  Two little girls should be thankful every day that we will never know.

Rodney Peterson at the very least showed a lapse in judgment when he offered two young girls a ride.  He pulled up to them and asked how far they had to walk.  The girls waved him on, and the encounter ended.

The girls called police and reported the man who offered them a ride home.  This I can understand.  We tell kids not to break the Stranger Danger rules no matter what, so the call made sense.  I would expect my nieces to do the same, including making note of the plate number just in case.

But then it gets weird.  Even if Peterson's motives were good, I don't trust a man whose Creep-O-Meter would include offering two 13-year-old girls a ride anywhere.  However, he has since been charged with disorderly conduct.  While not very bright, what he did wasn't a crime.  He accepted their no and went on, at least by the original account.

Something doesn't seem to be adding up.  There seems to be a lot wrong, but nothing illegal.  Then again, I'm not a lawyer.  What do you guys think?  Illegal or just really dumb?

The Freedom To Get Canned Over An Orange Shirt

You know what "At-Will" employment or "Right-to-Work" employment means?  It means that you have zero protections in that state as an employee.  It means unless the reason is strictly prohibited by state law, you can be fired for any reason.  Any.  Reason.  At All.  Like, say, wearing an orange shirt.

They weren't wearing sagging pants or revealing clothing. But dressing in an orange shirt is apparently enough to get fired at one Florida law firm, where 14 workers were unceremoniously let go last Friday.

In an interview with the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, several of the fired workers say they wore the matching colors so they would be identified as a group when heading out for a happy hour event after work. They say the executive who fired them initially accused them of wearing the matching color as a form of protest against management.

Orange is widely considered to be one of the most visible colors to the human eye. Orange vests are worn by most hunters as a safety precaution and by school crossing guards. Most prisoners are required to wear orange jump suits.

The color orange is arguably Florida's defining color. The self-described "Sunshine State" is widely known for its orange juice exports.

The law offices of Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A. offered "no comment" to Sun-Sentinel reporter Doreen Hemlock, but four ex-employees tell the paper they were simply wearing their orange shirts to celebrate "pay day" and the upcoming Friday group happy hour.

Nope.  Fired.  All of them.  On the spot.  No redress of grievances possible, no recourse under the law, no anything.  Out the door and gone because they showed enough esprit de corps at the workplace to wear the same color shirt. And under Florida law, and laws just like it in 22 other states, too bad.  All of them gone, no questions asked.  It doesn't matter.

We are told this is "freedom" for employers, and that without this "freedom" then workers would surely suffer as job creators would go elsewhere, to other right-to-work states or to other countries.  Without the ability to summarily fire you for anything short of blatant discrimination codified into law (which is something that becomes 100% the burden of the employee to prove, in all 23 states), why you wouldn't have a job at all.

So consider yourself lucky if you live in any southern state, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, the Dakotas, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona, Utah or Nevada and have a job.  It's only because your employer can fire you for your shirt color that the job creators are even bothering with you.

Back to work, peon.

The Nose Knows...No Decency

BooMan discovers our Liberal Media is on the case, in this case Final Arbiter Of All, WaPo fact checker Glenn Kessler, is making sure that President Obama's dead mother isn't able to pull a fast one on the Post's stalwart readership.

Your mother lies dying in the hospital, unable to work because of her Stage 3 uterine and ovarian cancer. While her medical procedures are largely covered by her health insurance plan, there is a large deductible and several hundred dollars of unpaid expenses each month. The insurance company is not honoring her disability insurance because a doctor had written in her medical file that she suspected uterine cancer a couple of months before she started her job. However, your mother claims that that information was not shared with her. And, in any case, it was only a suspicion. Your mother asks you to take over the job of fighting the insurance company. That is what happened to Barack Obama and his mother. And that is what just earned the president three pinocchios from the Washington Post.

Why has the president been lying about his mother's death? Well, according to the Washington Post he has been deliberately suggesting that his mother was denied funds for her medical care from her health insurance, not her disability insurance. This is supposedly a big distinction.

The president has a strong recollection of watching his mother fight with an insurance company about covering the cost of her health care because of her supposedly pre-existing condition. He thinks this is a terrible injustice and not a way to die with dignity. It inspires him to fight so that other people will not face the same or similar situations.

But it turns out to be insincere political posturing because his mother's "pre-existing condition" only prevented her from receiving the money she needed to pay her deductible and the fees not covered by her health insurance. That this is an example of an insurance company going to whatever lengths it can to deny payment is supposedly irrelevant or misleading. 

Misleading enough to earn a three pinnochio shaming from Headmaster Kessler for the naughty, naughty President.  Look, I understand Kessler's contempt for the President.  A fair amount of the Village has it because the first African-American president is a tabula rasa of extraordinary magnitude, a first among firsts.  Those who shape reality in Washington have long given up gently trying to create the Obama they want Obama to be and have moved to "application of 20-pound sledgehammer" mode, thus the absolutely silly prospect that the death of the President's late mother is a three-noser fib.

Awesome.  They despise him.  And when I say "they" I mean "progressives" too like Taylor Marsh, who openly compares the President's story of his mom to Mike Daisey, the man who lied about Apple's China labor problem.

A lot of people have never forgiven Barack Obama for the crime of being elected in 2008.  Not all of the people who want to convict him in 2012 are Republicans, either.


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