News Roundup for 9/30/11

Girl with hula hoop
One of the many once-new things that have failed to go away

-Headline of the Day-
"Newt Gingrich: Marriage Equality 'Is A Temporary Aberration That Will Dissipate.'"

Newt Gingrich's strategy for staying relevant to the 2012 Republican Primary seems to involve saying increasingly stupid things. Of course, if that worked we'd still be talking about Michele Bachmann.

Anyway, Newt's breaking new ground in ways to protect marriage from the Homosexual Menace -- ignore gay marriage and it'll go away.

"I believe that marriage is between a man and woman," Gingrich said in Iowa today. "It has been for all of recorded history and I think this is a temporary aberration that will dissipate. I think that it is just fundamentally goes against everything we know."

The problem here is that you can apply this reasoning to a whole bunch of stuff that hasn't gone away -- butt floss swimsuits, hula hoops, and democracy are a few that leap immediately to mind.

"Given his own marital history," the report opines, "Gingrich's belief in the solvent nature of same-sex marriage is mildly amusing."

Wait, "mildly amusing?" It'e freakin' hilarious. (ThinkProgress)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, you know how we used to turn to FEMA in a natinal emergency? Well, that's all changed! Now we turn to...

Click for animation

I'll bet we could blow people up in another country without too much bother, though. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Huckabee looks again at Republican presidential bid."

Long story short, a group of "Republican and conservative activists" are saying, "Anyone but this bunch of clowns who are already running!" (Reuters)


The $16 Muffin and Other Beloved Zombie Lies

I'm not a creature of habit, but I try to be. Every night, I try to do the same thing, to make it easier to get to sleep. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are part of that. I watch them both, which begins the "go to bed" launch sequence. Obviously, this throws me off when there are reruns, but for the most part it works.

Zombie muffinSo last night I was watching TDS. The guest was Bill O'Reilly, who was hawking some book about the Lincoln assassination that a ghostwriter whipped up for him. Stewart called him out on his ridiculous "Obama's making it too expensive to be rich" argument and O'Reilly went straight to government spending. What about the $16 dollar muffin?

Stewart admitted that he hadn't heard about this $16 muffin thing, which isn't extremely surprising; it was one of those rightwing blogosphere "scandals" with the shelf-life of an unrefrigerated popsicle. Stewart probably missed it because he blinked.

Basically, the story worked like this; an audit from the Inspector General for the Department of Justice found that the Capitol Hilton in Washington overcharged a 2099 Justice Department Legal Training Conference -- which O'Reilly described as "a bunch of conferences for pinheads" -- for refreshments. The hotel was apparently given a budget and it exceeded it by the slimmest of amounts.

The "$16 muffin" came from a poorly itemized invoice and some quick, back-of-the-envelope accounting -- i.e., a bunch of other stuff was listed in a column marked "muffins." "So did DOJ really pay $16 for muffins?" Kevin Drum wrote at the time. "Of course not. In fact, it's obvious that someone quite carefully calculated the amount they were allowed to spend and then gave the hotel a budget. The hotel agreed, but for some reason decided to divide up the charges into just a few categories instead of writing a detailed invoice for every single piece of food they provided."

So how much did this overrun cost the taxpayers? Two cents per attendee -- or about ten and a half bucks total. It's an outrage, I tells ya! And never mind that this isn't actually a story about runaway government spending, so much as it is a cautionary tale about trusting the private sector to keep costs down. Hilton screwed this one up, not the DOJ. But since it's only ten bucks, who even cares? I'd be willing to bet that after all is said and done, the hotel will wind up swallowing the overrun, since it's really next to nothing.

Did O'Reilly know any of this? Maybe, maybe not. If we assume he wasn't lying when he said the story came from "a bunch of conferences for pinheads," then we can assume that O'Reilly didn't dig very deeply into the story in the first place. If his grasp of the story was so weak initially, it's possible that he never saw the debunking. This would be especially likely if he relied on his own employer to set the record straight.

This is nothing new for rightwing media. They rely on "scandal of the day" reporting to sustain their outrage, so of course most of these "scandals" turn out to be a big wad of nothing. But when that big wad of nothing is revealed to be a big wad of nothing, rightwing media news consumers never find out. Corrections and retractions are an endangered species in conservative news outlets and, in the wingnut blogosphere, they're almost completely extinct.

Take for example this Daily Caller piece from Matthew Boyle. In it, he claims that court records show the EPA plans to spend $21 billion to hire "230,000 new government workers to process all the extra paperwork." Needless to say, it's all crap. Media Matters has the full debunking, but I think I can encapsulate it thusly: Boyle is either an idiot or a liar.

Basically, he relies on court documents to make his claim. And these documents don't show plans to hire hundreds of thousands of new bureaucrats at a cost of tens of billions. What the documents show is that the EPA ruled out one method of monitoring greenhouse gases because it would require hundreds of thousands of new bureaucrats at a cost of tens of billions. Boyle grabbed some quotes about what the rejected method would cost, then ran with them as if they were the plan. Boyle has the story exactly backwards. He's just about as wrong as it's possible to be. I'm going to go ahead and call Matthew Boyle grossly incompetent, because it's a terrible thing to accuse someone of being a liar. And those are really the only two choices.

But of course this was another "scandal of the day" and everyone on the right was clawing their eyes out over it. Never mind that the EPA doesn't even have $21 billion to throw around -- it only has an $8.7 billion budget -- this was true, true, true as far as they were concerned.

And, as far as their readers know, it still is. There is no retraction or correction at Boyle's steaming pile of what he pretends is journalism. Follow the link and you get the story as it first appeared. A lot of wingnut bloggers and even organizations like Fox News and National Review linked to that story as a source. Anyone who follows those links will think they've confirmed the story's accuracy, when the story is 100% bass-ackward of the truth. Which goes a long way toward explaining why rightwingers tend to believe a bunch of stuff that everyone else knows isn't true.

Maybe Bill O'Reilly knows the truth about the $16 muffin and he's just using a debunked story to push his agenda, which would make him a liar. Or maybe he's just an incompetent hack who has no idea what the hell he's talking about and relies on rightwing media to get him his "facts." I don't know.

But I do know that it's a terrible thing to call someone a liar.



News Roundup for 9/28/11

-Headline of the day-
"Americans Dislike the Tea Party More Than Ever Before."

The Tea Party is that broad cross section of ordinary Americans that stretches all the way from the audience of Rush Limbaugh to the audience of Sean Hannity. Every day people, standing up for what they believe in, which is whatever they're told to believe in. These patriots have had to endure a lot, from listening to Breitbart speak, to being subjected to Michele Bachmann's unblinking stare. And now there's another hardship these average Americans must face -- the dislike of the average American.

A new poll shows that just "28 percent of Americans hold favorable views of the tea party, an all-time low in the 19 months that CNN/ORC pollsters have gauged Americans' feelings about the movement. At the same time, 53 percent of Americans think poorly of the tea party, an all-time high."

And CNN's not alone here. According to the report, "In a pair of Pew Research Center polls conducted in February 2010 and August 2011, disapproval of the tea party jumped from 18 percentage points; the percentage of those who said they liked the movement increased from 33 to 36 percent. Washington Post-ABC and Wall Street Journal-NBC polls also found declining support for the tea party from 2009 to 2010."

What's happening here is more than just familiarity breeding contempt; familiarity is breeding specific knowledge. When the TP first started, people were like, "They're unhappy? I'm unhappy too! Good for them..." But then they started to learn what the 'baggers were unhappy about and it was stuff like communists taking over and birth certificates and other crazy shit. People didn't like that so much. All the "Let's let the US go into default!" batshittery probably didn't help much either.

So keep doing what you're doing, 'baggers. It's working out great for all the people you think are your enemies. (Mother Jones)

-Comparing "scandals"-
A little perspective on a loan guarantee "scandal":

Click to embiggen

You're welcome. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Who Dares Tell The Tea Party They Smell Like Old Gorilla Masks?"

Why people don't like 'baggers, Exhibit A: they have no sense of humor, take themselves way to seriously, and never miss an opportunity to play the victim card. (Wonkette, with video)

Obama Jobs Plan Would Be Effective, So Of Course It Must Be Killed

Looks like President Obama's jobs plan is getting the thumbs-up from economists.


Obama announcing jobs planPresident Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan would help avoid a return to recession by maintaining growth and pushing down the unemployment rate next year, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

The legislation, submitted to Congress this month, would increase gross domestic product by 0.6 percent next year and add or keep 275,000 workers on payrolls, the median estimates in the survey of 34 economists showed. The program would also lower the jobless rate by 0.2 percentage point in 2012, economists said.

Economists in the survey are less optimistic than Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who has cited estimates for a 1.5 percent boost to gross domestic product. Even so, the program may bolster Obama’s re-election prospects by lowering a jobless rate that has stayed near 9 percent or more since April 2009.

If you want to understand Republican economic policies, that last sentence should tell you all you need to know. President Barack Obama must not be reelected. And if that means that America takes a hit, then so be it.

The problem with conservative economic policies is that they suffer from being complete BS. Even conservative economists recognize this fact and blatantly rewrite history and leave out data to get their arguments to work on paper. For Republicans, it's not what's best for America that's important, it's what's best for the party. On issues ranging from global warming to public health to economics, they embrace disaster. In some cases, they must knowingly embrace disaster, since the odds rule out universal idiocy among Republicans. Some in the GOP know they're heading straight for a cliff on this issue or that, but don't care.

For example, what do these surveyed economists think of GOP ideas? The answer is "not much."

A reduction in government spending, the end of the payroll-tax holiday and an expiration of extended unemployment benefits would cut GDP by 1.7 percent in 2012, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief U.S. economist Michael Feroli in New York. Instead, the Obama proposal makes up for that potential loss and may add a net 0.1 percent to the economy, he estimates.

All of this makes complete sense, by the way. Government doesn't just spend money; it's not shoveling dollars into a furnace where they disappear forever. Government buys things from people and it puts money into the pockets of the unemployed. Those people buy things and spend money. This is called demand. Cut spending, cut demand and -- as inevitably as sunrise -- the economy slows.

And what is Republican reasoning on deficits anyway? The argument is that deficits are a drag on the economy, but no one can quite manage to explain why. Do they really believe people get up in the morning and decide not to spend money because they're worried about deficits? "Yeah Gladys, it sure would be nice to get a new refrigerator and we can definitely afford to, but with this all this out-of-control spending in Washington..." On what planet would that conversation ever take place?

But what gets me the most -- and most clearly demonstrates Republicans' economic mendacity -- is how often their talking points switch gears. They beat people over the head with "We've gotta slash the deficit! We've gotta slash the deficit!" while everyone sane is asking how to help the economy. "Never mind the economy," they say. "We've got to slash the deficit or we'll end up like Greece."

"OK," the president says, "then let's raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations to decrease the deficit."

"How's that going to help the economy?" they answer. It's infuriating and about as serious as an Abbot and Costello routine.

Republicans will probably ignore this survey of economists. I doubt they'll spend much time rebutting it. It doesn't matter what works for America. What matters is what works for the GOP.

So far, denying reality has been working for them.



News Roundup for 9/27/11

Fantasy landscape with unicorns
Where perfect GOP candidates come from

-Headline of the Day-
"Five Things Conservative Voters Would Hate About Chris Christie."

Hey, remember Shelly Bachmann? She was totally going to be the president earlier this summer, when she was voted Queen of the Iowa State Fair. But it turned out that she was dumb and crazy, so that cost her a little bit of support, and then she ate a corndog and it was over.

So off all the Republican voters ran to Texican President Rick Perry -- he's got a gun! Yay! But he turned out to be dumb and not nearly crazy enough, so that cost him a little bit of support, and then Mitt Romney got all competent on his ass and he's looking like he might be done.

Now everyone's all fired up over former pizza delivery guy Herman Cain, but he's just Shelly Bachmann in drag, so he's going to be done soon.

Enter new shiny object, Gov. Chris Christie of the Garden State. Everybody loves Christie for the same reasons they loved Bachmann, Perry, and Cain; they don't know anything about him, so it's easy to pretend he stands for exactly the same crazy stuff that any given GOP voter stands for. Chris-Chris has said he isn't going to run, his buddies say he isn't going to run, his family says he isn't going to run -- which I guess means he might run.

Anyway, the nuts aren't going to like him because, like Perry, he's insufficiently insane. Turns out he wants to give illegal immigrants amnesty, take everyone's guns away, believes in global warming, supports an Obama education program (which is automatically communism), and -- worst of all -- doesn't hate Muslims. At all.

Turns out that the biggest drawback for a GOP presidential ca ndidate lie in not being imaginary. (New York Magazine)

-While we're on the subject...-
Jon Stewart elaborates.

So it's like that... (Comedy Central)

-Bonus HotD-
"Tony Perkins Says Christie's Anti-Bullying Position Will Be Problem For GOP."

See? Christie's against bullying and this is a problem.

This is what we're talking about. (ThinkProgress)

Does the Right Even Know What Intolerance Is?

Let me run something by you and see how you feel about it.

Poster for D.W. Griffith's film 'Intolerance'Frank Turek is a man whose contract was terminated by a major corporation when human resources found out he had written a book opposing mixed-race marriage. He is on the front lines of an emerging trend we are hearing about: people losing jobs or other economic opportunities because they have written, spoken, donated, or otherwise peacefully exercised their core civil rights on behalf of marriage as a union between two people of the same race.

Frank's day job is leadership seminars for Fortune 500 companies. He also runs a ministry and has written a book against miscegenation titled Correct, Not Politically Correct: How Mixed-Race Marriage Hurts Everyone.

For many years Frank Turek has done seminars for Cisco, among many other companies. A student who attended his class Googled his name, found out he opposed mixed-race marriage and said "I'm going to get Frank fired because he doesn't represent Cisco values." And this student succeeded.

A few weeks later Frank Turek was told by a Bank of America executive that his book opposing mixed-race marriage meant he would not be asked to do a seminar again at Bank of America.

Of course, Frank Turek is not -- to my knowledge anyway -- a racist. What I've posted above is a quote from a National Review interview with Maggie Gallagher. I've changed a few key words to make a point. Turek and Gallagher oppose same-sex marriage.

But let's continue to put it in terms of mixed-race marriage. Gallagher, the former President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), sat down with NR's Kathryn Jean Lopez to discuss her new project, the Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance. Continuing our parallel, it seems that people who are activists against mixed-race marriage have trouble keeping their jobs once their bosses find out.

It's hard to see that as a big problem, isn't it? Or, at least, a problem that isn't the activists' own damned fault. Calling a bigot a bigot isn't defamation, it's fact.

But of course, it's not race-based marriage equality we're talking about here, it's gender-based. What I'd hoped to demonstrate with my little thought experiment is how the intolerant just don't get the concept of intolerance. I mean, what's the argument here; that we need to be more tolerant of the bigoted? It's absurd. To flirt with Godwin, when a Nazi complains that no one likes him, not many people wonder why.

Yet it's an argument bigots hide behind all the time, second only to "Oh, don't be so PC." Someone says something hateful, you call them out for it, and they complain about the hypocrisy of "liberal tolerance." If you were really as "tolerant" as you say you are, you'd shut up and let them attack whoever they wanted to attack.

And think about the word "tolerance." It basically means "put up with." We're not asking a lot of the bigots here; they don't have to like it, they just have to put up with it. It's not like anyone's making them gay-marry anyone.

Now think about what they're asking us to tolerate; we're supposed to stand aside and shut up while they attack our friends, families, and co-workers. When we join in the fight on their behalf, Gallagher and other bigots lay down another familiar conservative defense -- the victim card.

"What keeps me going is that it’s just too the silly to take seriously the world being created for us, where we should be afraid to say these basic truths about human beings, sex, and the family, for fear of being labeled hateful or bigoted," Gallagher says in what I imagine are heroic tomes. "Without our consent they cannot win."

I'm going to go ahead and call BS on that one. We didn't get the consent of mixed-race marriage opponents and, as I seem to recall, they didn't win.

What a terrible blow to tolerance that was, huh?



News Roundup for 9/23/11

-Headline of the Day-
"This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, Affordable Care Act Edition."

Last night's Republican presidential debate started out with a lion taming act by Michele Bachmann, then things got under way. Rick Perry, to prove his dedication to the Second Amendment, shot John Huntsman dead. Rick Santorum came out of the closet. Ron Paul advocated a Flintstone Chewables-based monetary system. Mitt Romney promised that his first act as president would be to unilaterally declare Israel the 51st US state. All in all, it was quite a spectacle.

Everything I just described is about as true as most of the BS candidates slung on that stage last night. But one claim deserves special attention; that under the Affordable Care Act, Herman Cain would be dead.

See, The Hermanator is a cancer survivor. Under Obamacare, Herman's doctors wouldn't be able to do anything without checking with some pencil-pusher in Washington first. "If we had been under Obamacare and a bureaucrat was trying to tell me when I could get that CAT scan that would have delayed my treatment," he said. How true is this?

Do you really have to ask? Still this is exactly the sort of thing that the nutballs believe.

"Why do [Republican voters] believe that? Because people like Herman Cain keep telling them so," writes American Prospect's Paul Waldman. "I don't know whether Cain is an ignoramus or a liar, but it has to be at least one, maybe both."

"You might say, 'Well, nobody would be dumb enough to actually believe that,' but you'd be so, so, wrong," Waldman continues. The nuts hear things like this every minute of every day from every "news" outlet they choose to delude themselves with. So, when someone like Cain says something that seems so absurd and clownish to everyone else, all the 'baggers are nodding like freakin' bobblehead dolls.

And the rest of the media? Barely any better. Show me the "Herman Cain Lies His Lyin' Ass Off" headline from a mainstream outlet. Sure, an organization like the New York Times might bring it up, but not as news. That info is buried among their billion and one blogs that no one has time to read.

Oh wait, no it isn't.

Every GOP debate so far as been a bullshit festival. And do you know why the mainstream media won't bring up that fact? Because they suck. They don't give a fuck whether it's true or not, all they care about is how it'll play with the this demographic or that. "Truth" is for chumps. What's important is reporting how each candidate plans to win the election and --  if Johnny Ace Reporter is really, really lucky -- predicting who the winner will be before anyone gets a chance to even cast a damned vote.

What, you're waiting for a punchline? The whole freaking thing is a punchline. Or, at least, a joke. As Waldman puts it, "And that's why we can't have nice things." (American Prospect)

-Economics for dummies Republicans-
Is job creation demand-dependent or supply-dependent?

Click to embiggen

Hey GOP, it's easier than you're making it. (Reddit)

-Bonus HotD-
"Gov. Rick Scott Brags About Laying Off 15,000 Government Workers After Decrying Florida's High Unemployment."

Republicans suck at math is all I'm saying. (ThinkProgress)

GOP Supporters' Lynch Mob Mentality

Last night's Republican presidential debate was almost a rerun, in that the candidates repeated many of the lies they told last time around and in that the media's largely ignoring those lies. As always, the talking heads are all atwitter about who won, who lost, who got the best dig, who had the best applause line, etc. Who told the truth is unimportant, apparently.

And there was even the seemingly requisite offensive crowd reaction. Previous debates have featured applause at the death penalty's failure to prevent crimes in Texas (you don't set records for handing out punishments that actually work) and cheering on the death of the uninsured. And now there's this:

That's right, Stephen Hill, a gay soldier currently serving in Iraq got booed. Even some conservatives are getting a little queasy about the debate crowds, although in strictly typical paranoid terms.

[Ann Althouse:]

There's no real way to control the audience, other than to strictly limit who gets in, which will look repressive and cowardly. And who knows who is booing or applauding in this way that's harmful to the Republican cause? It could just as well be somebody who hates the GOP, trying to generate bad press and distract attention from what the candidates actually say.

The booing in that clip above comes from one very loud guy. Maybe he could be identified. I'd like to know whether he's on the Republican side or he's a dirty trickster. Am I being repressive to suggest that audience members at the next debate ought to pay attention in the future and
look when somebody boos or applauds in this way that is useful to Republican opponents?

I don't think so. I think it's similar to going to a protest and photographing people with offensive signs. Let's say someone who hates the Tea Party is thinking of going to a Tea Party rally and holding up a blatantly racist sign in the hope of stoking the belief that the Tea Party is a bunch of racists. If this prankster realizes he will be photographed (or confronted by the people he's hoping to hurt), he probably won't do it.

Of course, that last paragraph makes absolutely no sense at all -- who would try to embarrass the Tea Party by not being photographed with a racist sign? -- but the broader point is that conservatives who manage to think beyond their own reactionary and defensive nature see trouble brewing down the road. Even the candidates see it. Talking Points Memo reports that in the post-debate spin-room, the candidates and GOP flacks realized their audience problem right away. According to their report, "The common response was variations on the word "unfortunate.'"

Outside the spin-room, the response was less muted. "You boo a soldier serving our country in Iraq -- you suck," tweeted Chris Barron, head of the conservative gay group GOProud. "Shame on the traitors who booed that soldier."

I'd ask Barron what the hell he expects from the homophobe party, but that's another post for another day. Suffice it to say that Barron is a mouse rooting for the cat and it's hard to feel extremely sorry for him, right though he may be in this case.

Anyone who thinks this is going to go away is deluding themselves. It's not, it's going to get worse. It's going to get McCain/Palin rally lynch mob worse. The Republican Party's spent literally years whipping up this hatred and fear and desperation. Now they seem surprised to learn they can't turn it on and off like a faucet.

And the bigger worry should be that if this begins to become problematic, it's only going to get worse. If the eventual GOP candidate begins to go down under the weight of their more insane supporters, those same supporters will react by becoming even more insane and offensive. Remember, it's the conservative way: if something isn't working, do more of it. Some will become worse in reaction to the bad press ("Ha! We've got the liberals freaked out now!"), some will put on their victim badges and see grand conspiracies, and some are just Republicans because they're dicks. The point is, when the candidate gets in trouble, the supporters are going to become more lunatic, more offensive, more hysterical.

I think three consecutive debates denotes a trend. An ugly trend. And I don't think Republicans are going to find this trend extremely helpful in the long run.



News Roundup for 9/22/11

Ralph Kramden from 'The Honeymooners'
Mitt Romney

-Headline of the Day-
"Hundred Millionaire Mitt Romney Tells Crowd He, Too, Is Middle Class."

Mittens Romney knows a thing or two about class warfare -- mostly because he's made most of his money waging it.

But that's not what's important now. What's important is that you know he's just your average middle-class Joe, who happens to have like a gazillion dollars. How does he pull this off? It's math, dummy!

See, at a town hall event, Mittens chewed on a wheat stalk and stuck his thumbs in the bib of his overalls. He told his fellow hayseeds that he favors a tax policy that will help "those who have been hurt by the Obama economy."

Who's that? Mittens helpfully defined it; "And that's the middle class," Romney continued. "It's not those in the low end; it's certainly not those in the very high end. It's for the great middle class -- the 80 to 90 percent of us in this country." So, if you're not the 5 or 10 richest percentile or the 5 or 10 poorest percentile, you're freakin' Ward Cleaver and Fred Flintstone all rolled up into one neat middle class package. The guy who works at the 7-11? Middle class. Fella who works at a factory? Middle class. The rock star in the last video you watched? Most likely just middle class.

So poor Mittens is just like everyone else, just barely squeaking by on his somewhere-in-the-neighborhood-of-a-quarter-billion dollars. He gets into his Learjet one leg at a time, just like everybody else. (Wonkette)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, have you heard about this whole big Solyndra loan guarantee thing? It's basically where this one solar energy company acted just like the nuclear energy industry and it's the worst thing ever -- I guess because no reactors are involved or something.

Anyway, it proves this whole "green energy" stuff is just a bunch of hooey and we should just stick with what's working for us.

Click for animation

Next thing you know, they'll be saying we can get free energy from the wind! Crazy treehuggers... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"McCotter drops out of race for GOP presidential nomination."

Wait, who? (Detroit News)

GOP Disaster Relief Hostage Scheme Backfires

It's all but official; the House Republican Caucus is in a state of leaderless chaos.

[The Hill:]

Houses destroyed by IreneThe House stunned Republican leaders Wednesday by rejecting a temporary spending bill that would have funded the government through Nov. 18.

The vote failed, 195-230, after Democrats pulled their support for the bill and Republican leaders were forced to scramble for enough votes entirely within their own ranks. Four dozen conservatives voted against the bill because it left spending levels for 2012 higher than the cap set in the House GOP budget.

The defeat hands leverage to congressional Democrats in a dispute over federal disaster funding. Democratic leaders objected to a GOP provision cutting funding from a Department of Energy manufacturing loan program to offset additional money for disaster relief.

The House and Senate must pass a spending bill by Sept. 30 to keep the government running into the next fiscal year. Both chambers are scheduled to be out on recess next week.

The piece goes on to describe this as a "stinging loss for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who pitched the measure to his conference as the lowest spending number they could get." By now, he should know he's not going to get anywhere with the tea-drunk nuts with a reality-based appeal.


The pressure from an angry Speaker John Boehner didn't work -- he even threatened to strip committee assignments. Four dozen Republicans -- mostly conservatives -- wanted more cuts, and they just said no, creating an uncomfortable scene on the House floor as the funding bill failed on a 195-230 vote. Democrats showed a rare moment of unity in overwhelmingly opposing the continuing resolution, which would keep the government funded through Nov. 18.

Now, to prevent a government shutdown, Republicans will have to rewrite the bill and figure out how to get the votes.

Keep in mind, this is all over disaster relief funding. People and communities may suffer, because the 'bagger caucus -- for reasons that are difficult to explain -- don't want vehicles to get better gas mileage. Or something. It's never extremely clear with these nuts. I'm not even sure they know what they want. But now we have eight days until a government shutdown -- over a loan program for the production of fuel-efficient vehicles that's responsible for as many as 39,000 jobs and disaster relief for people who, in the words of Ron Paul, "do dumb things" like live in places where there's high probably of an eventual natural disaster (for the record, that's pretty much anywhere).

At least Boehner had a clue as to what this would mean; disaster for the GOP. According to Republican Rep. Bobby Schilling, Boehner put the vote in terms of electoral politics. "Boehner just broke it down pretty simple," Schilling told The Hill. "He goes, 'I know there are some of you out here who don't want to vote for this thing, but if you don't, you think this is a big number? Wait until you see what we get back, and we're not in the driver's seat then.'" In other words, "If you think this is a lot of money, hand control of the House back to Democrats and see what happens."

The clock is ticking. The House teabagger club has just eight days to accept reality or there will be a government shutdown. Frankly, it's hard to see that happening. Which means that John Boehner's only other real option is to cut the nuts loose and strike a deal that puts Democrats on board -- which means that an already brewing Tea Party revolt becomes just that much more likely.

Nice corner you've painted us all into there, John.



News Roundup for 9/21/11

Tea party nutjob
Surprisingly, people like this got healthcare reform all wrong

-Headline of the Day-
"In U.S., Significantly Fewer 18- to 25-Year-Olds Uninsured."

Remember that whole healthcare socialism thing that was going to destroy America? Turns out it doing a really lousy job of destroying America. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that a million more people between ages of 18 and 26 are insured now, but they're the government so they probably lie.

Time to double check. Gallup called up about 90,000 people and found, sure enough, the numbers between 18 and 26 are on the rise. "The provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows children up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' plans appears to be having an immediate effect on the number of Americans who report they have health insurance," they report. "Since it went into effect in September 2010, the percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds who report being uninsured has significantly declined by four percentage points."

So what's the rightwing, teabagger, super-uber-patriot response to this news?

Silence. See, when something proves them wrong, it's like it never even happened. (Gallup)

-How to get things done in Washington-
Turns out, it is possible.

Click to embiggen

Turns out the term "rarer than hens' teeth" is only a slight exaggeration. (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

-Bonus HotD-
"Poll: Two-thirds of Americans want taxes raised on the rich."

If this is "class warfare," then one side is seriously outgunned. (Raw Story)

Santorum is Busy Doing the Opposite of Fixing His 'Google Problem'

Let's be clear here; Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum will never, not in a million years, ever become the President of the United States. This is partly because Santorum's politics of hate are quickly becoming an anachronism and partly because the man is just dumber than a sack of hammers. The former reason is well-documented, while he's currently busy demonstrating the latter.


A Google search for Santorum has generated some inappropriate results since gay columnist Dan Savage organized an online campaign to link graphic sexual terms to the socially conservative senator's name.

Now, the Republican presidential candidate says he's convinced Google could do something to remedy the issue, if the company wanted to.

"I suspect if something was up there like that about Joe Biden, they'd get rid of it," Santorum said. "If you're a responsible business, you don't let things like that happen in your business that have an impact on the country."

He continued: "To have a business allow that type of filth to be purveyed through their website or through their system is something that they say they can't handle but I suspect that's not true."

Ah, the plaintive and familiar cry of the rightwing victim.

Can Google do anything about Santorum's "Google problem?" Not anything that would make any sense. Santorum's problem isn't with Google, Santorum's problem is with all the people who define his name as "the frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex." Google's search results are the result of a search algorithm that looks at things like relevant keywords, inbound links, and the popularity of the site. Santorum's problem isn't with Google, Santorum's problem is that he isn't really very well-liked. It's also the result of something called the "Streisand effect.

Basically, the Streisand effect works this way; the harder you try to remove information from the internet or the media, the more widely available that information will become. Why? Because your attempted removal of said information becomes news. News gets reported. Blogs pick it up. People talk about it on Twitter and Facebook. Put simply, by trying to remove the information, you get everyone to talk about the information. It's human nature. Without Santorum's attempt to clean up all the santorum everyone's left around the internet, the words "frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" would never have appeared on websites like legal scholar Jonathan Turley's blog, for example. And websites that are too squeamish to spell out the definition themselves just link to the very site that's the problem -- SpreadingSantorum.com, which is currently Google's top result for the query "Santorum" -- and increasing that site's standing as the top result. In fact, it's probably the sites that are too gun-shy to use the phrase "frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex" that do more damage to Santorum's cause than the sites that do. All those inbound links really count for a lot.

If Google were to do Rick a favor and fix his problem for him, it would involve rewriting an algorithm that's helped make them a $175 billion company -- and worse, rewriting it in a way that would make it less accurate -- so I'm guessing that's pretty high on their list of things they're never going to do.

Rick's best option here would've been to simply shut up and hope that the transient, fad-like nature of the internet meme would kick in, allowing the whole thing to blow over. But that would be the strategy of a smarter man than Rick Santorum; which is why he'll never, not in a million years, ever become the President of the United States.



News Roundup for 9/20/11

David Brooks chased by muppet
America's Second Least Useful Pundit, After Bill Kristol

-Headline of the Day-
"Yup, moderates and independents support taxing the rich."

If there's one hobby you might consider taking up, it's David Brooks avoidance. The New York Times columnist and TV talking head suffers from a really bad case of High Broderism that dictates that the only wise course for a politician -- especially a Democratic politician -- is straight down the center line of the interstate.

In his latest reality-challenged column, Brooks becomes very sad that President Obama has chosen a lane with his deficit reduction and job creation plans. "In his remarks Monday the president didn't try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures," Brooks complains. "He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives."

See, when the chips are down, moderates always side with conservatives. Is there any evidence of this? Not especially, but don't try to tell David Brooks that. It's heresy in his Church of the Almighty Middle.

And don't try to point out reality either. It's not going to sink in. If Brooks hasn't wised up by now, he's never going to. But that doesn't stop Greg Sargent from giving it the old college try.

"[A]s it happens, strong majorities of moderates and independents support tax hikes on the wealthy as the best way to close the deficit," he points out and provides big poll numbers to prove it. Will taxing the wealthy "enrage" moderates? No. How do we know that? Because someone asked them!

Note to Dave: mindreading acts are unnecessary in a world where polling exists.

Seriously, the best first step you can take in understanding American politics well would be to swear to remain forever in ignorance of what David Brooks thinks. (Plum Line)

-Economics 101-
When you really think about Republican economic talking points, they don't make a whole lot of sense.

Click to embiggen

Which would explain why a lot of people don't really think about them. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"American Family Association Freaks Out Over Ice Cream Named After Testicles."

This is a real thing. (Wonkette)

Not the "Greatest Country in the World," But Getting There

Lt. Ross weds Dan SwezyIs the United States the greatest country in the world? Not if you look at the facts. Our infant mortality rate is worse than forty other nations, we rank in the middle of all nations in terms of income inequality, and we compare poorly with the rest of the world when it comes to people living in poverty. "America is the greatest nation in the world" is something you're supposed to say if asked, maybe even believe, but by most measures it simply isn't true.

Which is why progressives exist. People on the right like to point to progressives' skepticism about this whole "greatest country in the world" stuff to paint us as America-haters. This is poor logic. The person who loves something is the person who's willing to do the work to fix it when it starts falling behind. Leaving everything be and hoping for the best is laziness, not love. Progress means there's always room for improvement, while conservatism believes that everything is fine the way it is -- in fact, it's the belief that things are worse than they used to be. Which explains why they're all busy trying to undo the 20th century.

And it explains why real progress toward real liberty sticks in their craw. As Don't Ask, Don't Tell ends today, it's important to mark a milestone of American progress toward being the greatest country in the world.

[Associated Press:]

Just as the formal repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy took effect, Navy Lt. Gary Ross and his partner were married before a small group of family and friends.

The two men, who'd been together 11 years, decided to marry in Vermont in part because the state is in the Eastern time zone.

That way, they were able to recite their vows at the stroke of midnight - at the first possible moment after the ban ended.

"I think it was a beautiful ceremony. The emotions really hit me... but it's finally official," Ross said early Tuesday.

The end of DADT and a gay marriage? The world stubbornly refused to end.

Michele Bachmann has said that, if elected president, she would reinstate DADT. In fact, at a GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire, only Ron Paul and -- surprisingly -- Herman Cain said they wouldn't support reinstating the ban.

A lot of this is just pandering to their base, of course. Change can be a little frightening and no one is more fear-responsive than the hardcore rightwing nut. And no one is more reactionary than the conservative politician. When they see fear in the eyes of their audiences, they exploit it. Is that any way to become the greatest country in the world?

The point here is that change is good. It makes us a better people. And if it means abandoning old values, it says more about those archaic values than it does about the change that brought about that abandonment. It used to be considered immoral for a black man to marry a white woman, now it's considered immoral to oppose that marriage on the basis of race. Has America become better or worse since that particular "value" was left behind?

If we accept that the changes that have come before us have been good, by what measure can you argue that change from here on out becomes bad? It's completely arbitrary and illogical. We aren't a perfect society and, until we are, we will always need to improve -- both as a people and a nation. Progress or stagnation are our choices.

There's a word for people who ignore problems in those they love and pretend everything is perfect -- enablers. It's the people who recognize imperfections and failings and try to help correct them who demonstrate a more nurturing love.

Maybe neither group loves more, but one loves better.



News Roundup for 9/19/11

Obama on the beach
Barack Obama's possible future

-Headline of the Day-
"Why Obama should withdraw."

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman fills his column-quota for the week with a piece that pretends to explain why President Obama shouldn't seek reelection, but doesn't exactly explain why President Obama shouldn't seek reelection. The gist is basically that a second term is going to be a big pain in the butt for this president -- "a bog of frustration, exhaustion and embarrassment" -- so he should save himself the bother and let Hillary Clinton run instead.

And that's pretty much it. If Obama bails, it'll be Clinton "who has the unenviable job of reviving the economy, balancing the budget, getting out of Afghanistan and grappling with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Obama, meanwhile, will be on a Hawaiian beach, wrestling the cap off a Corona."

I'm not really sure that avoiding hard work is the best reason not to run for reelection. And the less said about my opinion of Corona, the better. But hey, you know; deadline's coming up, web traffic's been a bit slow... Why not put up an intentionally controversial post -- bonus, one you don't have to put a lot of thought into -- and rake in that sweet, sweet controversy traffic? Ka-ching!

Next up from Chapman, how John Boehner can avoid yardwork by resigning as House Speaker. (Chicago Tribune)

-What's in a name?-
Cartoonist Ted Ralls explains the most important thing in considering a bill.

Click to embiggen

Kind of like Bush's "Clear Skies Act." (GoComics.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Donald Trump Likes This 'Jim Perry' Guy He Met."

The Donald had dinner with Texas Gov. Jim Perry, who impressed him very much. So remember all you GOP voters, if you're out there voting and you see "Rick Perry" on the ballot, it's a typo. Do your patriotic duty and write in "Jim Perry" or the terrorists have won. (Wonkette, with video)

Generals in the Class War Decry Class Warfare

It's not class warfare. It's math.
-President Barack Obama

ObamaThat quote was from the president's speech announcing a plan to reduce the deficit. Included in the plan is a choice -- either close tax loopholes that allow the rich and corporations to dodge their fair share of the tax burden or end the high end Bush tax cuts which, as the president rightly pointed out, were intended to be temporary anyway. In fact, when Bush asked congress to make them permanent after the fact, congress refused.

There's no reason that Obama couldn't have demanded both the closure of the loopholes and the end to the bottom heavy tax structure -- none other than Barack Obama being Barack Obama and leading with a concession. But that's another post. This post is about the claims by Republicans that asking the wealthy to pay their fair share is "class warfare."

[Los Angeles Times:]

Top congressional Republicans on Sunday accused President Obama of trying to incite class warfare with his proposal for a new tax on millionaires and said they would not support the measure because it would hurt economic growth.

"Class warfare … may make for really good politics, but it makes for rotten economics," House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said on "Fox News Sunday." "We don't need a system that seeks to prey on people's fear, envy and anxiety. We need a system that creates jobs and innovation and removes these barriers for entrepreneurs to go out and rehire people."

The strong opposition by Republicans means the millionaire tax proposal is unlikely to pass Congress. But it promises to become a highly charged centerpiece in the battle over deficit reduction and job creation that will be a focus of the 2012 elections.

It takes a lot of guts for Paul Ryan, whose own budget-balancing plan would rob everyone's Medicare fund to finance further tax breaks for the rich, to try to play the "class warfare" card. You want class warfare? Ryan's plan is class warfare.

And are those high-end tax giveaways as necessary as Republicans say? Of course not. Everything they say the tax cuts will do are already failing to materialize. When Bush asked for them, they were the GOP's flavor of stimulus, meant to reinvigorate the economy and create jobs. The result? George W. Bush had the worst record of job creation of any president since the Great Depression. This is what the Republicans argue is going to work for sure -- this time. Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!

By removing "these barriers for entrepreneurs to go out and rehire people," Ryan means gutting regulations. Most of the regulations Republicans want to target have been in place during good times and bad, so the idea that they're holding America back is ridiculous on its face. If you do something crazy, like ask business owners if regulations and taxes are killing them, they say no. Like anyone who has to live outside the Republican Ivory Tower, where failed theories and wishful thinking count as Gospel, business owners know that the problem is weak demand, not hocus-pocus about "uncertainty" and burdensome government regulations. If no one's buying, no one's hiring. It really is just that simple.

Further, by attacking the deficit the way the GOP wants to, you reduce demand, not increase it. Republicans like to talk about how the rich pay most of the taxes -- regardless of how much they pay as a percentage of their income -- but they don't acknowledge that the vast, vast majority of economic activity in the United States comes from everyone else. If you're actually taking things away from the not-so-very wealthy to pay for tax cuts that benefit the oh-so-very wealthy, the economy will never improve. People spending money is the economy -- the entire economy -- and tax cuts that benefit only the wealthy at the expense of everyone else do nothing but increase deficits. This isn't even a matter of debate anymore, it's proven. All the Bush tax cuts did was blow a hole in our budget and fail to create jobs or stimulate the economy. In fact, by the end of the Bush administration, we were in the worst economic situation of any since the Great Depression. In Republican circles, I guess that's what passes for resounding success.

So "class warfare?" Republicans have been waging for a decade and all their victories have been Pyrrhic. Only a tiny handful are better off because of them and everyone else is screwed. If the GOP thinks class warfare is such an awful, scandalous thing, there's an easy remedy.

They can stop waging it.



News Roundup for 9/16/11

Wilting Jack O'Lantern
Rupert Murdoch

-Headline of the Day-
"News Corp. Ex-Employee Said Contacted in U.S."

Crikey! Things may get very bad for a certain Australian gazillionaire very quickly -- or, as they say down under, "Rupert Murdoch could find himself in a tin of Alice's biscuits right spot Roger Winkly." Something like that anyway.

It seems the feds would like to have a word with "a former [News Corp.] employee of a U.S. unit who claims knowledge of illegal activity at the company." The said former employee, one Robert Emmel, a former account director at News America Marketing In-Store LLC, has firsthand knowledge of "hacking and possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."

A News Corp. spokesperson is blowing this off as trivial, but keep in mind that distortion is what News Corp. employees do. (Bloomberg)

-Mad Tea Party-
The Tea Party came to shake this up in Washington!

Click to embiggen

Boy, did they ever... (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Perry's Problem: Move To The Right On Social Security, Move To The Bottom In The General Election."

Rick Perry's numbers have been dropping like a stone since his Social Security views started getting coverage.

Seems people like socialism a lot more than Republicans think. (Talking Points Memo)

Hot Water for Scott Walker

FBI sealAn unpopular governor, facing a near-certain recall election in the spring, gets caught up in an ongoing political corruption scandal. How do you think that scenario might turn out?

We may get a chance to find out, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stands at the edge of an FBI probe. What the feds are investigating is unclear at this point, but it's almost certainly more serious than the original complaint.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Last year, a John Doe investigation began in Milwaukee County involving a staffer to then-Milwaukee County executive Walker. The staffer, Darlene Wink, was accused of using county resources to leave anonymous pro-Walker comments on political websites. Illegal, yes -- but not the biggest deal ever. Wink resigned. But the feds seized Wink's computer as evidence to build the case.

And it was at that point that the investigation seems to have widened.

Whatever was on Wink's hard drive seems to have led investigators to Walker's old Milwaukee County exec chief of staff Tim Russell. Authorities seized his computer and cell phone.

And now this:

[Talking Points Memo:]

The FBI on Wednesday raided the Madison home of a former aide to Gov. Scott Walker, as part of an ongoing investigation.

The home of Cynthia A. Archer was raided Wednesday morning, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Archer had previously been a top aide to Walker when he was Milwaukee County Executive. She has owned her Madison home since 1988, rented it out during her years working for Walker in Milwaukee County, and then moved back when he became governor.

There is currently an ongoing investigation into whether county employees engaged in political activity for Walker when he was the executive.

Walker himself has lawyered-up, which -- to be fair -- isn't a sign of anything, really. At least, nothing other than a recognition of the seriousness of the situation. But in politics, appearances mean a lot. Worse, the investigation is clearly growing.

"It's worth emphasizing that the allegations, according to local media accounts, are focused on potential misdeeds committed before Walker became governor," writes Steve Benen, "the accusations focus on whether county staffers did political work for Walker when they were supposed to be doing official work for the public -- but the controversy can still do some real damage."

Polling shows that most Wisconsinites oppose a recall election -- by the slimmest of margins -- but that, were a recall to be held, the race would be a toss-up. Throw in a big corruption case and I think we can all see which way things would lean. And, of course, Wisconsin Democrats are more aggressive than their Washington counterparts, so they're not letting the opportunity to ding Walker slide.

"The news of a criminal investigation involving aides to Scott Walker is disturbing," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said in a statement. "During his time as Milwaukee County Executive, Walker played fast and loose with ethics and created a pay-to-play culture of secrecy and deceit. The people of Wisconsin need assurance that this has not carried over to his term as governor. We look forward to the day when Walker himself gives a full explanation of his role in today's raids."

Even if he manages to stay only within the orbit of this investigation in a legal sens, the gravity of the situation could pull Scott Walker down in a political sense.



News Roundup for 9/15/11

Chimp in cowboy hat
Texas Gov. Rick Perry

-Headline of the day-
"Rick Perry Supported by Republicans in Poll Showing Plurality Reject Views."

If you still need convincing that Republicans have lost their damned minds since Obama was elected, here ya go: Republicans want Rick Perry to be their nominee, even though everyone else thinks what he stands for sucks.

Those are the findings of a poll of voters about the 2012 presidential election. According to the report, "The Texas governor is the preferred choice of 26 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in a Bloomberg National Poll conducted Sept. 9-12. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney places second at 22 percent, while all of the other Republican candidates get less than 10 percent." That's because Perry's the "electable" one.

"You have to look at the campaigns that are resonating with the public," explains GOP voter Rex Hammond. "At this point, it appears that Romney's and Perry's campaigns are." Of course, Republican voters are off in Lala Land on all this, being glued to Fox News and completely unaware of what's happening all around them.

See, Perry is not resonating with the public. "Perry trails President Barack Obama among the poll's entire sample, 49 percent to 40 percent, about twice the deficit for Romney," the report goes on. "Perry also confronts negative reactions from Americans disinclined to vote for a candidate expressing the skepticism he has about the viability of Social Security, evolution science and whether humans contribute to climate change."

"Science is an integral part of our culture," says independent voter Danyelle Lowers. "To have such a general disregard for the sciences is rather terrifying."

But hey, if GOP voters can ignore science, then they can certainly ignore reality. (Bloomberg)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, it's Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann! They're here to teach you all about history and stuff -- Yay!

Fillin' in
Click for animation

Cut them some slack. They want to be presidents, not elementary school teachers. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Bioethicist Bets Bachmann $10,000 She Can't Find Anyone Who Became 'Retarded' From HPV Vaccine."

And no, Shelly. You can't count yourself. (ThinkProgress)

Louie Gohmert's Brainless and Typically Republican Jobs Plan

By now, it should be obvious to even the most casual observer that Rep. Louie Gohmert is not burdened with the curse of genius. In fact, while there may be a lot of competition for the title of Dumbest Member of Congress, Gohmert is definitely a frontrunner. This is the guy who came up with the ridiculous "terror babies" conspiracy theory, who argued that President Obama was in league with the Muslim Brotherhood, and that passage of hate crimes legislation would lead to Nazism, legalization of necrophilia, pedophilia, and bestiality. This is one underachieving mind.

So it should come as no surprise that he has idiotic ideas about what will and won't create jobs. In a headline-chasing maneuver, Gohmert filed a bill titled the "American Jobs Act" before Democrats filed the President's bill by the same name. So now dems can't pass Obama's bill -- unless they change the name to something like "American Employment Act" or the "Jobs for America Act." That should really set them back about thirty seconds. What a crippling blow from a procedural grandmaster.

But it's not Gohmert's pointless poaching of the title that's so demonstrative of his idiocy -- although it's not a bad one. It's his bill itself. Two whole pages legislation is all it takes to get America back to work, according to Gohmert. And it's what's in this simplistic legislation that shows the true depth of Representative Gohmert's intellectual capacity.

[The Hill:]

The Texan lawmaker's measure would eliminate the 35 percent corporate tax to spur job creation in the private sector.

Gohmert says that he's talked with CEOs of corporations, who moved their companies to China because "the number one reason, every time was the 35 percent corporate tax; China has 17 percent corporate tax -- if you move a big corporation (to China)," then they can reinvest money into the company.

That's right, a 100% free ride for corporations. Of course, this is stupid.


The two-page bill changes the tax code to replace any mention of the current "35 percent" tax rate with "0 percent." Corporations are already sitting on trillions in cash, so cutting their taxes would likely do very little to help the economy, but would balloon the deficit by depriving the government of about $300 billion in revenues annually. As the CBO found, cutting taxes on businesses "typically does not create an incentive for them to spend more on labor or to produce more, because production depends on the ability to sell output."

So lowering taxes won't create jobs, because demand does not depend on supply. Imagine my shock at this discovery.

"Nothing's more pathetic than the GOP doing the bidding for corporate America while pretending to be on the side of the little guy," a senior House Democratic aide told The Hill. "Republicans who want to put more money in the pockets of billionaire CEOs instead of helping to put people to work is just wrong."

Think we've reached the bottom of Gohmert's idiocy? Sorry, but it is bottomless. Gohmert has also been pushing an argument argument that shows he doesn't even understand what job creation is. A provision in the Obama plan calls for an end to discrimination against the unemployed, which is actually becoming a real problem. Gohmert thinks the ban would be the worst thing ever.

"We have created in this bill a newly protected class, not on race, creed, color, sex -- not even sexual orientation, this is a new one," he recently told Sean Hannity. "It's not religion, it's a prohibition of discrimination in employment on the basis of an individual's status as unemployed. By golly, if you apply for a job and you're unemployed and you feel like you got discriminated against and not hired because you were unemployed, see a lawyer. You've got a claim under this bill."

Here's the thing; if you hire someone who's already employed, you've created zero jobs. I mean come on, it's freakin' simple math. If the number of unemployed stays the same, you haven't created a job, you've just given someone a different job. It's not the same thing at all. Yet here he is, defending the so-called "job creators" from actually having to do something crazy like create jobs. The unemployment discrimination ban in Obama's plan should be a no-brainer -- which goes along way toward explaining why the brainless Louie Gohmert is against it.

But how far away from the rest of his caucus is Gohmert on this? Not very. This is all just rightwing economic flateartherism taken to it's logical extreme. If Republican economics works, then Gohmert's plan should really work. Cut taxes, employment skyrockets. Never mind that a decade of experience is telling us right now that this isn't true at all. And it should create jobs by allowing employers to continue to avoid creating jobs. Because we don't want any of those burdensome, job-killing regulations.

Yes, it's stupid. Yes, it's backwards. Yes, it ignores realities, factual data, recently history, basic math, simple logic, and common sense. And that's why it's just so damned Republican.



News Roundup for 9/13/11

Noted hypocritical lunatic Shelly Malkin

-Headline of the Day-
"A few more words about Koward Krugman."

Michelle Malkin is really pissed off at Paul Krugman. You might remember that Krugman wrote a 9/11 anniversary post about how the right has snatched up 9/11 for personal and political gain. Of course, they have, but that's beside the point -- it's poor manners to point that out and Shelly will not have it. Such things simply are not done.

So she goes off on a tirade of grievance, following the rest of the rightwing blogosphere in failing to address Krugman's argument in any way. It's all bluster and outrage and oh-my-god-it's-the-worst-thing-ever, but no actual rebuttal to the claim that wingnuts have taken 9/11 as their own political totem -- mostly because there is no possible rebuttal. They clearly have.

Anyhoo, you're here for the fun, not Shelly Malkin's failure to debate while pretending to debate. Don't worry, it's coming. See, Malkin calls Krugman "Koward Krugman" because, for this 9/11 rant of his, he turned off the comments to his blog.

Here's a fun game; go to Shelly's login page and try to register to comment. Guess what? You can't do it. She turned off registration in 2005 and only rarely opens it up to new commenters. And, when you are able to register, your comments damned well better be along the lines of "OH MY GOD, YOU'RE SO AWESOME!!" or you'll be banned right pronto.

So Krugman shut comments down for a day, while Shelly's been allowing only the most fawning commenters for six freakin' years.

I'm sorry, who's the koward again? (Michelle Malkin)

-True patriots go splat-
Tom Toles takes on the right's love for austerity.

Click to embiggen

Don't worry, it'll spur good old American innovation; i.e., you'll figure out how to fly before you hit the ground. (Washington Post)

-Bonus HotD-
"Fox News Cold Freaking Out Over Obama’s Use of Crappy Paper Clip."

No, really. (Wonkette, with video)

Thanks to the Media, Voter are the Big Losers in Last Night's GOP Debate

In politics, our journalists believe, it is better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It's better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere, thoughtful or humane. Savviness is what journalists admire in others. Savvy is what they themselves dearly wish to be. (And to be unsavvy is far worse than being wrong.)
-Jay Rosen, Why Political Coverage is Broken

Candidates at GOP debate
It was just weeks ago -- August 26th -- that press critic Jay Rosen gave the speech that quote was taken from. Rosen's criticism of the news media, boiled down quite a bit, was that political journalists place more emphasis on political strategizing than they do on the real world ramifications of the policies. That reporters value "savviness" above truth. And that this wrongheaded approach to political coverage hurts us all by causing people to know more about political wrangling than outcomes or consequences.

There is no better example of this than the coverage of last night's GOP debate in Tampa last night. All the coverage is about who won, who got in the best shot, who had the best zinger, what this means to the candidates going forward, and who's gained the most supporters from it. What is barely being covered -- and, in many outlets, not covered at all -- is the fact that the candidates at the debate were lying. Shamelessly, continuously lying.

PolitiFact followed the debate with fact-checks of key statements made by the candidates. Of those statements, only one rated "true" and one "mostly true"-- both were when Mitt Romney pointed out that Rick Perry was lying about his past stance on Social Security. So even those few true statements were lie-related. The rest of the statements ranged from "half true" to "pants on fire."

This isn't just "horse race coverage," where a political contest is reported like a sporting event. This is something else entirely and much worse. To extend the metaphor, this is covering a game while neglecting to mention that every player is constantly cheating.

And why? Because truth doesn't matter. That's what savvy political insiders know. Is Rick Perry's "message" on Social Security hurting or helping him with voters? That's what matters. Is that message 100% certifiable BS? Who cares? Voters don't know if things are true or not, so it doesn't matter. What matters is how it'll play in Iowa or New Hampshire. That's what savvy political insiders like Washington reporters and TV talking heads know.

"[President Obama] had $800 billion worth of stimulus in the first round of stimulus," Rick Perry said last night. "It created zero jobs, $400-plus billion dollars in this package. And I can do the math on that one. Half of zero jobs is going to be zero jobs." Is it true? Of course not. PolitiFact rated it as a "pants on fire" lie. But that's not important. What's important is whether that helped him win the debate -- how does it play with the soccer moms?

Apparently, it's not the journalist's responsibility to report the factual data, it's the journalist's responsibility to repeat what politicians say and analyze its effect on the political game. And people wonder why we live in a world where people seem to think they can believe whatever they want to believe. There is no objective truth in political reporting, just sound bites and empty analysis that should be of interest to only a handful of political players.

And the truth? Well, if you give a hot damn about the truth, then you're just not a savvy political insider.