News Roundup for 10/27/11

Three Stooges
The Herman Cain campaign

-Headline of the Day-
"As Cain Promotes His Management Skills, Ex-Aides Tell of Campaign in Chaos."

I'd say that someone's going to get fired for this, but all these people have already been fired. Apparently, the Cain campaign goes through staffers like oats through a horse. Former staffers complain that Cain's campaign is disorganized and haphazard, with the campaign almost completely ignoring state offices -- or even supplying them. "It was like they were running for sophomore class president," said one. "We couldn’t even get our own e-mail addresses," said another.

The report tells us that "basic supplies, like signs and bumper stickers, were hard to find. In many cases, [staffers] have to buy their own."

Meanwhile, Cain's busy touring states that don't mean jack, electorally. Apparently, it's super-important that he sell his book, I'm Herman Cain! Now Shut the Fuck up!. "His book tour took him mainly through the South, where primaries will not be held until February at the earliest," we're told. At one fundraising event, Cain stood up big-dollar donors and didn't tell anyone were he'd gone or even that he had left. "I [called his phone and] said, 'I'll see you upstairs,'" a former staffer recalls. "He said, 'Well, I'm at the airport.'"

All in all, the campaign sounds more like a publicity stunt to sell I'm Herman Cain! Now Shut the Fuck up! than it does an actual presidential campaign.

And his interpersonal skills are sketchy, at best. A memo was sent out to campaign staffers about riding in the car with the Hermanator; "Do not speak to him unless you are spoken to."

"I found it odd," said one former staff member.

Really? I find it dickish. (New York Times)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, here's a message from the Republican Party. Yay!

Click for animation

Off the record, the Republican Party is pretty crazy, kids... (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"REPORT: House GOP’s ‘Job Creating’ Spending Cuts Destroyed 370,000 Jobs."

Oops! (ThinkProgress)

Fox News to GOP Candidates: 'No More Anti-Bailout Talk'

This video of Rick Perry being interviewed by Fox News' Neil Cavuto has been making the rounds, generally as evidence of how unprepared Perry is for anything in the neighborhood of a tough question. In the clip, Perry's regurgitating the typical GOP mumbo-jumbo about certainty and "investor confidence" being the most important thing for economic and job growth, while completely ignoring the indisputable fact that no one's going to invest in a business that has no customers. Supply and demand is set on its head, as always.

But of course the interesting part is when Perry starts ripping on the bailouts -- previously a fairly typical Republican line. And, until just a few weeks ago, a perfectly acceptable and politically correct one. But after the Occupy movement, it's apparently now verboten.

Yes, Perry's tiny little brain was incapable of processing what had just happened, so he just sat there silent, waiting for the interview to move on. I can't help but fill that silence with the sound of imaginary crickets chirping while rusty gears grind to a halt when I watch it.

But check that video again. Cavuto's crew had that clip loaded and ready to fire. It had previously been a matter of teabagger faith that the bailouts were bad, now it's practically the act of a Communist sympathizer to make that same argument. Cavuto's comment and the clip of Occupy Wall Street was a warning shot across Perry's bow. Perry's not likely to criticize the bailouts on Fox News again -- he obviously has no idea how to deal with the consequence.

Personally, it's my opinion that the bailouts were necessary, but avoidable. They should've come with a heavy price tag for the bailed out corporations and banks -- namely, trust-busting. "Too big to fail" is too big to exist, so these entities should've been broken up into smaller entities. Had this happened before the market crash, there would've been no need to bail them out. No company should get free federal existence insurance based solely on the chunk of the economy they control. Luckily, this is a mistake that can be corrected at any time. There is no window of opportunity here, just a great big, always-open door.

But, to go back to the clip, Cavuto and the people at Fox are no longer interested in the bailouts. When it was the Tea Party complaining about them, that was fine. The 'baggers believe what Fox tells them to believe, so anti-bailout talk need not be anti-corporate talk -- it's anti-Obama talk. Griping about the bailouts is fine, doing something real about them is another thing entirely. And doing something real is what the 99-percenters are demanding.

And that makes the corporate/conservative establishment -- of which Fox News is the press office -- extremely nervous.

[Gene Lyons, Salon:]

...The populist left, such as it is, has long had the dream of persuading working- and middle-class Americans to ignore the "tribal" differences that divide them -- regional, racial, religious and cultural -- to vote their shared economic self-interest.

Except during times of grave national danger -- the Great Depression, for example -- it's pretty much remained a dream... [T]he ongoing economic crisis created by Wall Street greed and recklessness makes it possible that a new movement taking aim at incestuous political and financial corruption in Washington might have a chance.

Breaking up "too-big-to-fail" banks like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, for example, might be an issue left and right could coalesce around...

If there's any such thing as an anti-inoculant, a sort of backwards vaccine that makes the subject more susceptible to the infection of anti-Wall Street sentiment, then the Tea Party's anti-bailout rhetoric would be it. Well aware of the risk of a spreading contagion, Fox is taking prophylactic measures. No more anti-bailout talk.

The GOP candidates have been warned.



News Roundup for 10/26/11

Mitt Romney, shown listing the many positions he's taken on the issues

-Headline of the day-
"Mitt Romney: Actually, I do support Ohio law."

Oh Mittens, you're so flippity-floppity.

Yesterday, Romney visited a GOP phonebank in Ohio, to boost the spirits of all the temps the state party had hired to pester people about the attempted repeal of a union-busting law by referendum. For the record, the Republican Party would be against the repeal, because then all the temps would probably unionize.

Anyway, while visiting this hive of feverish activity, Mittens was asked what he thought of the law. Romney instinctively sensed that someone was trying to pin him down on a position (a position, BTW, he's already been pinned down on) and pretty much refused to answer the question. Mittens wasn't at a phonebank that was doing get out the vote for the union-busting ballot measure to voice an opinion about it. He wasn't interested in "particular ballot issues," he said. And everyone wondered what the hell he was doing there then.

So this all became a big thing, with people on the right calling him a coward and people on the left calling him a scaredy-pants. Mitt was going to have to put a lid on this right pronto. While in Virginia today, he basically said, "Oh, you mean that ballot issue!"

"What I was referring to is I know there are other ballot questions there in Ohio and I wasn't taking a position on those," he said. "With regard to Question 2, which is the collective bargaining question, I am 110 percent behind Gov. Kasich in support of that."

Which, of course, brings us to this:

[Columbus Dispatch:]

Issue 2 is getting smashed by 25 points, 57 percent to 32 percent, in Quinnipiac’s latest poll. The survey by the Connecticut university, released two weeks before the election, is the final public poll planned on the controversial law, which is on hold until voters have their say.

Yeah, Romney just came out in favor of the least popular thing since the clap. Way to pick a winner, Mittens! (Politico)

-Competing visions-
Occupy Wall Street's counterpart isn't the Tea Party.

Click to view at Truthdig
Click to embiggen

It's a much more dangerous bunch of crazies. (Truthdig)

-Bonus HotD-
"Washington Post Illustrates Oakland Police Brutality With Cop Petting Kitty."

No, really. (Wonkette)

When Republicans Say They Can't Create Jobs, Maybe We Should Believe Them

If you cut government spending, it helps the economy, right?

No Help Wanted signThat's what Republicans keep telling us, but it's hard to see how this can possibly be true. The economy is spending. Government spending is demand. Reduce demand and boost the economy? It makes no sense.

And now we have a real world example of how cutting government spending, as Republicans argue, builds a gangbusters economy. As always, reality has a liberal bias.

[Associated Press:]

Conservative Republicans have long clamored for government downsizing. They're starting to get it -- by default.

Crippled by plunging tax revenues, state and local governments have shed over a half million jobs since the recession began in December 2007. And, after adding jobs early in the downturn, the federal government is now cutting them as well.

States cut 49,000 jobs over the past year and localities 210,000, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics. There are 30,000 fewer federal workers now than a year ago -- including 5,300 Postal Service jobs canceled last month.

Cut spending, add to unemployment. "The public sector didn't start to lose jobs right away," says economist Heidi Shierholz of the Economic Policy Institute. "But then it did as the budget crunch really hit. State governments are not allowed to run deficits. So the private sector is expanding while the public sector is shedding jobs -- to the tune of 35,000 jobs a month."

So, as a consequence of reduced spending and congress's (read "Republicans'") failure to extend aid to the states, employment is treading water -- as the private sector hires, the public sector fires. And the result is a counterproductive feedback loop keeping job growth stagnant. Republicans often argue that public spending "crowds out" private investment, but even if this were true, it again suggests a feedback loop without growth -- cut government spending and private spending fills the void, but there's zero growth in overall spending. After all, X-X+X=X or stasis. This is a no-growth policy that accepts the current status quo as the absolute best America is capable of.

Republicans really have no plan to stimulate job growth or the economy. And why should they? The fashionable belief among the GOP deepthinkers -- especially among presidential candidates -- is that government doesn't create jobs. Logically speaking, this is the same as saying, "There's nothing we can do."

So it follows that the alternative jobs plan put out by a party that believes it can't possibly create jobs would be a joke. Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC took a look at the GOP's jobs plan and concluded that not only do nothing to help the economy, but the Balanced Budget Amendment provision they jammed in there would do a lot to hurt it.

"Without more detail on the Republican plan, we cannot offer a firm estimate of its economic impact in either the short or long run," they concluded. "However, if what we do know of JTGA [the GOP's "Jobs through Growth Act"] were enacted now, we would not materially change our forecasts for either economic growth or employment through 2013."

"If actually enforced in fiscal year (FY) 2012, a [Balanced Budget Amendment] would quickly destroy millions of jobs while creating enormous economic and social upheaval," they continued. "However, we believe no responsible policymaker would push the implementation of a BBA when the projected federal deficit is $1 trillion and the Fed is unable to offset much fiscal drag... A BBA would amplify cyclical swings in the economy. Furthermore, it likely would be abandoned or circumvented with the first recession after ratification, creating confusion and uncertainty over fiscal policy."

So the Republicans' "Jobs through Growth Act" should more honestly be titled the "Unemployment through Contraction Act." It's just a wishlist of items beloved by Republican dreamers over the years, with no real focus on job creation or economic growth. And why should they put forward a serious jobs plan? We've already established that they believe they can't create jobs and, of course, the thing doesn't have a hope in hell of ever becoming law anyway.

I guess the moral of this story is don't listen to the job creation advice of people who tell you they can't create jobs. Reducing spending is hurting our economy before our eyes and forecasters say that Republicans plans will only make everything much, much worse.

The Republican Party has been telling us over and over that they can't create jobs and the evidence suggests that they're absolutely right.



News Roundup for 10/25/11

Pat Robertson

Headline of the Day-
"Even Pat Robertson Thinks Republican Voters Are Too Extreme."

Yikes! Pat Robertson -- the man who said that Methodists and Presbyterians are the antichrist, who agreed with Jerry Falwell that "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the People For the American Way" were responsible for 9/11, who claimed that a massive earthquake was the Haitians' own damned fault for being Satan worshipers, and who said that Scotland was a "dark land" ruled by the Homosexual Menace -- thinks GOP voters are too extreme. And they better listen to him, because he could kick all of their asses -- he can leg press a literal ton!

"Those people in the Republican primary have got to lay off of this stuff," Pat said on his TV show, Drinking Paint for Jesus. "They’re forcing their leaders, the frontrunners, into positions that will mean they lose the general election. Now whether this did it to Cain I don’t know, but nevertheless, you appeal to the narrow base and they’ll applaud the daylights out of what you’re saying and then you hit the general election and they say ‘no way’ and then the Democrat, whoever it is, is going to just play these statements to the hilt. They’ve got to stop this! It’s just so counterproductive!"

"Well, if they want to lose, this is the game for losers," he went on.

It was a rare moment of clarity for Pat, who then slipped back into dementia and tried to filet an audience member, apparently believing he was hosting a cooking show. (Right Wing Watch, with video)

-Putting the 'geniuses' in 'evil geniuses'-
A can't-lose move by Koch & Koch.

Click to view at GoComics
Click for full comic

And that's just the first step. Next, they'll corner the market on vuvuzelas and giant street puppets. (GoComics)

-Bonus HotD-
"After Calling It ‘A Good Issue To Keep Alive,’ Perry Says Birther Conspiracy Is ‘One Of The Biggest Distractions.'"

Obvious conclusion: Perry's rapidly deteriorating basketcase of a campaign really needs a good distraction. (ThinkProgress, with video)

99-Percenters Winning the War of Popular Opinion

Wall Street protesters
It's inevitable that comparisons are drawn between the Tea Party and the Occupy movement, as much as people in both groups write off those comparisons. The media, after all, have their narratives and "everyone's freaked out about spending!" has seemingly changed overnight into "everyone wants to take on the wealthy!" So the media's natural reaction is to compare the two movements and see what, if anything, has changed.

But the Tea Party was never an actual movement, in the sense that it was the result of people demanding change. In fact, almost the exact opposite was true -- the people were the result of the "movement." The Tea Party was, is, and always will be a corporate PR stunt -- a guerilla ad campaign -- aimed at getting the rightwing talk radio/Fox News/wingnut blogosphere crowd (i.e., the gullible) out in public demanding that Republicans do what Republicans were already planning on doing.

The Occupy movement, on the other hand, seems to be the result of actual frustration with Washington. Republicans have been blocking everything and talking about "what the American people want," while totally ignoring polling that shows the American people want what the Republicans are blocking. Meanwhile, conservative and centrist Democrats -- including the Obama administration -- have often played along, watering down good legislation or compromising it out of existence. Where the Tea Party embodies manufactured outrage, the 99-percenters' is organic -- and justified.

We see this backed up in polling -- which should surprise no one. A United Technologies/National Journal poll finds "some 59 percent of adults either completely agree or mostly agree with the protesters, while 31 percent mostly disagree or completely disagree" with them. 68% support a tax on the wealthy to pay for the President's jobs plan and "nearly one-third of Republicans -- 31 percent -- completely or mostly agree" with the protesters' goals. Those are goals, by the way, that the media keeps telling everyone are a complete mystery. Apparently, the average voter finds them much less mysterious than the average TV pundit.

In addition, a recent CNN/ORC International poll found that the 99-percenters' view of Wall Street was shared by the vast majority of voters; 80% believe Wall Street execs are greedy, 77% believe they're overpayed, and 65% believe they're dishonest. When asked, "Overall, how much do you trust Wall Street bankers and brokers to do what is best for the economy -- a great deal, somewhat, a little, or not at all?" only 3% answered "a great deal," while 54% answered "not at all."

The only recent poll that shows anything but strong backing for the Occupy movement comes from the perfectly respectable Pew Center, which shows the public "divided" in its support for the movement.

About four-in-ten Americans say they support the Occupy Wall Street movement (39%), while nearly as many (35%) say they oppose the movement launched last month in New York’s financial district.

By contrast, more say they oppose the Tea Party movement than support it (44% vs. 32%), according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and The Washington Post, conducted Oct. 20-23 among 1,009 adults. One-in-ten (10%) say they support both, while 14% say they oppose both.

This is actually less of a departure from the other polls than it would seem, since "support for" and "in agreement with" are two very different things. History shows that it's more important that people agree with a movement than support it or approve of it. And even here, it's Republicans who throw the curve -- both Democrats and Independents support the 99-percenters more than they oppose them. It's only among GOP voters that opposition outweighs support. And it's only among GOP voters that most support -- rather than oppose -- the Tea Party.

And it pays to point out that all of this polling comes after what many -- myself included -- consider to be biased and unfair coverage of the 99-percenters. Even in the face of media opposition, the Occupy movement comes out on top. Imagine what it would be like if snarky journalists and pundits weren't out actively looking for uninformed protesters.

It's true that the Tea Party and the Occupy movement have been pigeonholed into a rivalry both by the media narrative and by the Tea Party's corporate leadership. But it's just as true that in this debate -- as forced and manufactured as it is -- the 99-percenters are winning.



News Roundup for 10/24/11

Bomb with burning fuse

-Headline of the Day-
"Chemical bomb tossed into Occupy Maine encampment."

If there's one thing we've learned from the Bush administration it's that bombs create smoking craters of liberty. And so it was that a fine American hero threw glorious freedom into the kitchen tent of the Occupy Maine protest.

According to the report, a patriot -- believed to be driving an "older model silver four-door sedan, possibly a Toyota or Nissan" -- tossed a bomb "into the camp's kitchen, a tarped area where food is cooked and served. Protest organizers said the explosion lifted a large table about a foot off the ground." Police describe the weapon as a "homemade bomb, which consisted of chemicals poured into a plastic Gatorade container [that] could have caused serious injury." Unfortunately, none of the godless hippie communists were injured.

"We are more motivated to keep doing what we're doing," said one protester. "They have heard us and we're making a difference."

Clearly, more bursting bombs of liberty are in order, so don't be surprised when you read about them. (Portland Press Herald)

-Bad news for Rupert-
The Supreme Court is expected to rule the Stolen Valor Act -- which makes it a crime to claim military honors you never received -- to be constitutional. The ramifications are staggering.

Click to embiggen

We can only hope. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Taxpayer Funded ‘Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ Tell Jewish Woman To Convert To Christianity Or Go To Hell."

Your tax dollars at work. Isn't mixing religion and government just freakin' great? (ThinkProgress)

The GOP's 'Punish Everything and Everyone' Mentality

I was tempted to write that an LA Times headline -- "Medical help for illegal immigrants could haunt Mitt Romney" -- demonstrates everything that's wrong with today's Republican Party. It hits a lot of the bullet-points; a lack of compassion or mercy, a complete absence of anything approximating common sense, and the belief that every problem can be solved by punishing someone.

The Massachusetts healthcare law that then-Gov. Mitt Romney signed in 2006 includes a program known as the Health Safety Net, which allows undocumented immigrants to get needed medical care along with others who lack insurance.

Uninsured, poor immigrants can walk into a health clinic or hospital in the state and get publicly subsidized care at virtually no cost to them, regardless of their immigration status.

The program, widely supported in Massachusetts, drew little attention when Romney signed the trailblazing healthcare law. But now it could prove problematic for the Republican presidential hopeful, who has been attacking Texas Gov. Rick Perry for supporting educational aid for children of undocumented immigrants in Texas.

So undocumented immigrants, including children, should be sick and uneducated. Because a sick and uneducated segment of the populace is just so damned good for a society.

If you think about it -- for even a minute -- these sorts of punishments offer no deterrent to illegal immigration. What they're escaping is crushing poverty and, in many cases, human rights abuses. There are plenty of stories about immigrant families -- native, documented, and undocumented -- packing up and leaving states with draconian anti-immigrant laws (that's going to work out great for the local economy, huh?), but I doubt the majority leave. Whatever crazy law you impose, it's still better than what they left. Unless you're willing to turn your state into a banana republic police state for undocumented immigrants, you're really not going to get anywhere. Unfortunately, the Republican base is more than willing to go that far -- on nearly every issue.

Think of the audience cheering Rick Perry for setting the record for executions in his state. Never mind that bragging about setting a record for executing prisoners is an admission of failure to prevent crime. When you have more criminals to punish every year, things are really going in the opposite direction of where you'd like.

And these are the oh-so Christian voters, for whom "mercy" is a curse word and forgiveness a sin. Jesus would've unhealed these immigrants and -- judging from the response to the Wall Street protests -- chased the moneychangers into the temple. With clasped hands and fervent prayers, they ask The Lord to give them the strength to hate the illegals and the gays and the feminists and the Muslims and that whole long list of subhumans as strongly as they've been commanded to. Their god is a cruel tyrant, when all is said and done, and they promise to govern the way this tyrant would want.

Is it any wonder I'm against them?

So no, that headline doesn't demonstrate everything that's wrong with the GOP. There's still the wishful thinking that passes for logic and allows them to dismiss plain, proven facts as liberal dogma -- global warming denial and creationism are both examples of this. As is their bass-ackward, supply-drives-demand brand of economics. But the main problem with modern conservatism is its absolute faith in the idea that every problem can be punished out of existence -- that if you just find the right person or group of people to slap silly, Utopia will be the result.

There's a saying; "When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." That's close to the GOP's problem right now, but not the root of it. The real problem is that the only tool Republicans seem to want is a hammer.



News Roundup for 10/21/11

Anthropomorphic pizza slice
Herman Cain

-Headline of the Day-
"Herman Cain Defends 9-9-9 By Dropping One Of The 9s."

Pizza guy Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan -- a 9% corporate income tax, 9% personal income tax, and 9% sales tax -- is the best tax plan ever devised by man. Let's look at the advantages here; it's simple, it's... Ummm... Well, it's simple. No more goofing around with tax forms looking for deductions that would bring your taxes down. It's freakin' awesome!

Still, Cain admitted that people at the low end of the economic scale wouldn't do so well under his awesome plan. So no more 9-9-9 for the dirt poor. For them, it's 9-0-9. No income taxes (just like things are now) and a new sales tax. You still pay more, but not as much more. Now shut up and stop being poor!

Of course, this doesn't address the other problems with the plan -- most notably, if you aren't wealthy, it sucks.

Still, any step away from 9-9-9 is a step in the right direction. (Talking Points Memo)

Ever wonder why people sympathize with Occupy Wall Street?

Click to embiggen

Well there ya go then... (Truthdig)

-Bonus HotD-
"Michele Bachmann's New Hampshire Staff All Fleeing Like Hell."

The exodus is so big that you could truthfully say that Shelly doesn't actually have a New Hampshire campaign anymore. Bonus fun: a Bachmann appearance in San Francisco fails to attract even protesters.

She's totally gonna be president! (Wonkette)


News Roundup for 10/20/11

Was killed wrong

-Headline of the Day-
"The GOP's 'Thank America Last' crowd."

Moomer Qadaffy's dead. Yay! Everyone's celebrating, even the GOP. Tea Party darling Sen. Marco Rubio went on Fox News to give credit where credit was due.

"Today's not a day to point fingers," Marco said. "I'm glad it's all working out. Ultimately this is about the freedom and liberty of the Libyan people. But let's give credit where credit is due: it's the French and the British that led in this fight, and probably even led on the strike that led to Gadhafi's capture, and, or, you know, to his death."

"So, that's the first thing," he went on. "The second thing is, you know, I criticize the president, for, he did the right things, he just took too long to do it and didn't do enough of it."

Wait, I thought "today's not a day to point fingers." Oh well, whatever. What's really important is the flag-humping Marco offers thanks to the people who deserve it -- the French, who I guess 'baggers no longer hate.

"In the mind of this rising Republican star, the American military that helped drive Gadhafi's regime from power deserves no credit at all," writes Steve Benen. "Marco Rubio is comfortable crediting the French, but not American men and women in uniform."

Well yeah. If you start giving credit to the men and women in America's fighting forces, you're going to wind up having to give Obama credit -- and who wants that? It'd totally undermine Rubio's argument that Khaadoffi wasn't killed right.

Not to be left out in the cold with the troops, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham -- America's only conjoined twin senators -- issued a statement congratulating "British, French, and other allies, as well as our Arab partners, especially Qatar and the UAE" for Ghadfaffle's death. It was just too bad "this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower." Once again, Obama didn't kill Kgaqffk right, so no thanks for you, American fighting person. You won the war wrong!

So, to sum up the GOP's response to Ghqkkff's death: "Suck it, troops." (Political Animal)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
"Hey kids, Dogboy and Mr. Dan are back -- Yay! -- and they're in a cartoon coincidentally called...

Thanks for nuthin'!
Click for animation

Conservatives have weird ideas about gratitude. (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"Trump upset Gadhafi killed before U.S. got Libya's oil."

I mean, just because the oil's under their dirt doesn't mean it's the Libyans' oil. (Raw Story)

Gaddafi's American Friends

Gaddafi, Bush, McCain, LiebermanMuammar Gaddafi is dead. While the State Department and the White House haven't confirmed as of this writing, it's almost certain. You might remember that official confirmation from the US government took a while when Bin Laden was killed, as well. 100% certainty takes some time.

While everyone is saying that the dictator's death is a positive, it pays to remember that under the Bush administration, Muammar Gaddafi was officially rehabbed, taken off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and generally hailed as a good guy. This despite the fact that, prior to 9/11, the Lockerbie bombing of a Pan Am airliner resulted in the largest American civilian death toll from a terrorist attack.

Bush's reasoning for putting Gaddafi back on the good guys list was his agreement to dismantle his WMD program and renounce terrorism. Of course, his WMD program turned out to be underfunded and largely notional, rendering that part of the reasoning nonsensical. And renouncing terrorism is easy. You don't even have to actually quit. Especially when the US made no effort to prove anything. Libya would turn over a few terrorists for trial and that would be that.

The real reason for normalizing relations with Gaddafi was almost cartoonishly simple and stereotypically neocon. Libya has oil.

[Time, May 2006:]

...Gaddafi was looking hard for a way out of Libya's isolation, which was hurting its vital petroleum industry; in fact, U.S. oil companies were lobbying hard from the mid 1990s for a rehabilitation of Libya, in order to be there first in the upgrading of its aging oil infrastructure. As American and international sanctions were taking their toll and the stagnation was slowly killing Gadfhafi's regime, he offered a major gesture, turning Libyan intelligence agents over for trial in the downing of of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Oil companies moved right in. There's one kind of government that corporations really like and that's a dictatorship. It's a government with just one person to deal with. That person has the power to rewrite laws, remove regulations, provide cheap labor, and -- in every, single case -- can be bought. A corrupt, oil-rich dictatorship is like a sparkling diamond to corporations, just laying out there in the desert, waiting to be picked up.

Both before and after Bush added Gaddafi to his friends list, his biggest boosters were oil companies and their pet politicians. And, with an oil exec in the White House, they saw their big chance. "U.S. oil producers... rallied on behalf of Qaddafi, according to formerly secret State Department cables published this year by WikiLeaks and lobbying records," Bloomberg reported in June. "The six U.S. oil companies... and two U.S. units of foreign companies doing business in Libya, boosted lobbying expenditures 63 percent to $75.8 million in 2008, when they were pursuing the waiver for Libya, filings show." History shows they got what they paid for -- and more.

[Raw Story, August 2011:]

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) promised to help former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi obtain U.S. military hardware as one of the United States’ partners in the war on terror, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released Wednesday by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

The meeting, which took place just over a year ago on Aug. 14, 2009, included other influential Americans, such as Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Susan Collins (R-SC) and Senate Armed Services Committee staffer Richard Fontaine, the document explains.

McCain opened the meeting by characterizing Libya’s relationship with the U.S. as “excellent,” to which Liebermann added: “We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi.”

"Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends," the cable goes on. "The Senators recognized Libya’s cooperation on counterterrorism and conveyed that it was in the interest of both countries to make the relationship stronger."

Libya never used military weapons to fight terrorists. And everyone in that room knew he wouldn't. An unstable dictatorship, no matter how corrupt, was of no use to multinational corporations. Those weapons were to maintain Gaddafi's grip on power. And Gaddafi got more help than just weaponry.

[Raw Story, September 2011:]

Documents discovered by Al Jazeera reporter Jamal El Shayyal, who scoured the Gaddafi compound after rebels overran Tripoli, reveals that a former Bush administration official was advising the deposed leader as late as August 2 on what strategy he might take to remain in power.

One of the documents showed the minutes of a meeting with David Welch, the former assistant secretary of state from 2005-2008, who now works for government contractor Bechtel. During his time at the State Dept., Welch was instrumental in brokering the U.S.-Libya Comprehensive Claims Settlement Agreement, which restored diplomatic and commercial ties between the countries after 25 years on hiatus.

According to Shayyal, Welch was still advising Gaddafi as late as August 2, 2011, suggesting that the former dictator funnel information about Al Qaeda connections to the nation’s rebels through Israeli, Egyptian, Moroccan or Jordanian intelligence agencies to give it greater prestige in U.S. intelligence circles. He also reportedly told Gaddafi that if he would “step aside” from command of the Libyan government, he could potentially cling to some of his power.

Keep in mind that this was after the US began military action in Libya, making Welch's efforts on behalf of Gaddafi dangerously close to treason.

Now that he's gone, expect a lot of people on the right to publicly cheer Muammar Gaddafi's death. But remember that many of these people had previously argued that he was the best friend they had in the world.



News Roundup for 10/19/11

Man in giant foam cowboy hat
Rick Perry

-Headline of the Day-
"POLL: The Third Most Common Word Used To Describe Rick Perry Is IDIOT."

Noted Josh Brolin impersonator and Texican President Rick Perry got some bad news in a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll -- people don't think much of him. The poll asked respondents to tell them "the one word that comes to mind" when a top GOP candidate's name was mentioned. For Rick, the top choices were "Texas," "No," and "idiot/idiotic." So things aren't going so well there.

Mitt Romney did a little better with "Mormon," "healthcare/Romneycare," and "flip-flop/flip-flopper." In my opinion, "flip-flopper" may be bad, but "idiot" is worse. It's an unscientific analysis, I'll admit.

Finally, Herman Cain did pretty well. He's "9-9-9," "businessman," and "interesting." Of course, there's no way of knowing whether they associate "9-9-9" with "crazyassed," as I do. Still, if you take the first two as neutral, "interesting" sounds kind of positive.

Of course, this poll was taken on the 13th, before last night's debate where everyone piled on Mittens and the Hermanator looked like an idiot -- so things might've changed by now. You never know.

But one thing's for sure; Rick Perry's probably out for good as the "I'm not Romney, who we all hate!" candidate. Right now, that's Herman. So we should totally get excited about the Cain ticket, until Herman finally explodes and Mittens becomes the nominee -- just like we all know will happen.

That's what you like about this whole GOP nominating process this cycle; the nail-biting suspense. (Business Insider)

-And while we're on that subject-

Click to embiggen

"Interesting," indeed. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"GOP debate crowd cheers idea that jobless are to blame for their plight."

Or "Return of the Psychopathic Republican Debate Audience." (Plum Line)

One Way in Which Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party Should be Different

OccupyWallStreet protesters
Catching up after my one day vacation from blogging yesterday, I noticed two items that are somewhat related getting a lot of attention. The first was a comparison by President Obama of the Tea Party and the Occupy protesters, the other was a poll of the Occupy crowd at Zucotti Park.

First things first; there seems to be some debate over whether Obama's assessment is accurate. But that debate seems to be over the headline ABC News chose to give its post on the web -- "Obama: Occupy Wall Street 'Not That Different' From Tea Party Protests." Left and right seem to bristle at the comparison, but if you bother to look at what the President actually said, it's hard to see any way to call him wrong.

"I understand the frustrations being expressed in those protests," Obama told ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper in the interview to air this evening on ABC News "Nightline" from Jamestown, N.C.

"In some ways, they're not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party. Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren't looking out for them," he said.

Duh, right?

The second item (and I'll tie these together in a bit, so bear with me) comes from the Wall Street Journal and Tea Party-friendly pollster Douglas Schoen. Schoen's reporting on his polling is hopelessly biased, so just go ahead and disregard that. Just go straight to the numbers themselves.

For the most part, the demographics are unsurprising; young to youngish, mostly Democrat or unaffiliated, mostly Obama voters (although most now disapprove). Some surprises are that about half have never participated in any political action before and that the majority (53%) are employed. Schoen puts them this way:

Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn't represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.

The part about being "an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth" is some of the purest BS you'll ever see in your life. "[W]hen he asked the protesters what they'd like the Occupy Wall Street movement to achieve, just 4 percent said 'radical redistribution of wealth,' which tied for last on the list of answers given," writes Judd Legum. "There is no mention of 'radical redistribution of wealth' anywhere else in the poll."

That 98% of people occupying a park the city keeps trying to kick them out of "would support civil disobedience to achieve their goal" elicits my second "duh" of this post.

And a significant minority "would support violence to advance their agenda?" Yeah, that's got Tea Party written all over it.

[Greg Sargent, June 2010:]

Here's another one that could be tough for Sharron Angle to explain away: In an interview in January, Angle appeared to float the possibility of armed insurrection if "this Congress keeps going the way it is."

I'm not kidding. In an interview she gave to a right-wing talk show host, Angle approvingly quoted Thomas Jefferson saying it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years -- and said that if Congress keeps it up, people may find themselves resorting to "Second Amendment remedies."

For the record, the definition of armed insurrection would be the use of violence to advance an agenda. Not enough? Here's a paragraph from Josh Horwitz, Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, written in August of 2009:

[O]n August 7, an anti-health care reform protester in New Mexico named Scott Oskay Tweeted to his hundreds of followers to bring their licensed concealed handguns to town hall meetings, adding, "If ACORN/SEIU attends these townhalls for disruption, stop being peaceful, and hurt them. Badly." The following day, it was reported that several Tea Partiers brought handguns into a town hall organized by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) in Memphis, Tennessee. Additionally, an attendee at a meet and greet with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in a supermarket dropped a handgun, leading her staff to call the police. Most recently, a man was filmed openly carrying a handgun outside of President Obama's town hall meeting in New Hampshire. He held a sign that read, "IT IS TIME TO WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY!" a reference to the following Thomas Jefferson quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

My point here isn't that violence is the way to go or that the minority of OWS protesters who say they'd be OK with it are somehow justified by the Tea Party's embrace of violent rhetoric. What I'm saying is that the oh-so shocked tones taken by people like Schoen ring as hollow as they do hypocritical. When you've got Senate candidates talking about armed revolution, you've got problems of your own.

And it's here that the Tea Party and the 99-percenters are similar, outside the broad comparison the President made. We've both got our would-be violent nutjobs. Let's handle it better than the Tea Party has and not embrace them in a big bear hug.



Corporate Parasites and the Failure of 'Trickle Down Economics'

If you want one clear message coming from the Occupy Wall Street crowd and the 99-percenters, you can boil all they're saying down into one argument; Reaganomics has failed and should die. After decades of bending over backwards to make sure that helped the wealthy become as wealthy as humanly possible, we see no real positive results. "Trickle down" economics is really the economics of scavenging -- if the wealthy have a big feast, they'll leave a lot of crumbs. And, as we shift the role of government away from helping people to helping business, even the holes left by cutting spending benefit corporations. Remember that after Bill Clinton ended Aid to Families with Dependent Children, the only real positive impact the reforms had were for the financial industry. A whole new market opened up and payday loan outfits sprouted up all over the nation like mushrooms, charging usurious rates to people with nowhere else to go. And of course, poverty is at an all-time high.

If this is a successful economic model, I think I'd prefer the old "failures" of New Deal liberals, thanks.

Still, all that wealth is sitting up there, just waiting to trickle down. We've sent pots and pots of money up the economic ladder all these years with pretty much nothing to show for it -- except this:

Chart showing runaway growth in income disparity
Chart courtesy of Mother Jones

It's at this point that any semblance of reason gets tossed out the window. See, we're starting to run out of pots of money to send up the ladder, all that income is just jammed up up there, and clearly something needs to be done. I know, let's send up more pots of money! Maybe that'll jiggle it all loose and once it trickles down, it'll all work out great.

So Republicans and Blue Dogs are looking under every rock they can find (except the Sacred Rocks at the Pentagon) for more pots of money. Then it hits them; Social Security and Medicare. Let's cut the payouts from funds people have paid into all their lives and then we can afford to send more pots of money up the ladder.

Now think about the "reasoning" here; the idea is that all this money at the top will eventually trickle down and benefit everyone. So the proposition is that we take money from you, send it up the ladder, and then it'll come back down to you eventually. If you're like me, you're seeing a stupid and unnecessary step here. How about everyone just keeps their money and we can skip that whole "send it up the ladder" part?

Is anyone arguing that you'll get back more than you send up the ladder? Well, everyone's talking about sacrifice, so the answer is plainly no. What's being proposed is that the government takes money from you to pay off a debt incurred from sending pots and pots of money up the ladder. You don't get squat out of it. In fact, if you make too much noise about it, they may just raise your taxes to pay for the tax breaks they've already given to the people at the top of the ladder.

And this is at the root of all the complaints, from consolidation of corporate power to Citizens United to unemployment to financial corruption to bailouts. Everything for the 1%, at the expense of the 99%. The people at the very top of the economic ladder have become parasitic and the parasite is controlling the host.

So there's your one clear message; supply-side economics is a failure. The detailed solution? Stop doing it.

This is all much easier than you're making it, punditry.



News Roundup for 10/14/11

Bela Lugosi as Dracula
George Soros (Reuters file photo)

-Headline of the Day-
"Reuters's Dizzying Changes to Its Soros-Occupy Wall Street Story."

Yesterday, Reuters posted a story about how it looked like shadowy gazillionare and source of all evil George Soros was behind all of this Occupy Wall Street business. Their evidence? Soros once gave money to a group that gave money to a group involved with OWS -- so that sounds super-solid already, right?

And it turns out that Soros gave money to the group that gave money back in 2009 and 2007 -- long before OWS was anybody's idea for anything. At this point, the reporting hinges on "if you squint real hard and drink a lot of vodka and ignore the fact that time exists, it kind of looks like maybe its possible that George Soros had maybe something to do with all this. Maybe."

So not everyone was sold on this and people started pointing out that this was really shitty reporting. At this point, Reuters changed the story to "Soros: not a funder of Wall Street protests." No, really. Apparently good reporting now involves the process of elimination. Look for the big, widely distributed story that Lexx Luthor isn't behind this thing either.

But the fixed story is not the only version that Reuters is distributing -- they also feature the unfixed story, in case that's what you like better.

So, if you live in the real world, then you can learn that George Soros has been ruled out as the mastermind behind the 99-percenters. If you're a Tea Party nutjob who blames George Soros every time it rains, then the uncorrected version is the one for you.

And through it all, the story has been updated and rewritten to death, when the most obvious solution would be a retraction. "Reuters cannot -- must not -- get a reputation as a right-wing media outlet," writes Reuters' own blogger Felix Salmon. "We have to report the news as impartially as we can. In this case, there was no story, and nothing to report. Inventing a tenuous and intellectually-dishonest link between Soros and OWS might get us traffic from Matt Drudge -- but that’s traffic which, frankly, we don’t particularly value or care for."

If that's the case, maybe leaving an uncorrected version of the story up for wingnut blogs to link to isn't the wisest decision ever. (Atlantic Wire)

-Wall Street reconsiders this "too big to fail" stuff-

Click to embiggen

Why do citizens have a monopoly on the citizenry? (DailyKos)

-Bonus HotD-
"Moody's Economist Says GOP Jobs Bill Would 'Likely Push The Economy Back Into Recession.'"

Which is weird, because that's exactly what it did when it was called "Bush's economic plan." (ThinkProgress)


News Roundup for 10/13/11

'Bedtime for Bonzo' movie poster
History's greatest president (and two Hollywood actors)

-Headline of the Day-
"Rep. Bachmann Hits Cain On Taxes: 'I Want To Adopt The Reagan Tax Plan.'"

Shelly Bachmann must've heard that Herman Cain got his economic plan from a video game, because she's totally against it. She has a better plan, she says, from one of the "great economists that I admire, Ronald Reagan." Note to Shelly: Reagan was an actor in monkey movies, not an economist. But close enough, right?

Anyway, here's her plan; take the current tax rates and raise them (Reagan's rates were higher than they are today), then freak out over the huge deficits these tax rates create and raise them again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Make sure that at least one of these tax hikes is called "the biggest tax increase ever enacted during peacetime."

Then enjoy a new golden age as your economy suffers through a recession and the president's approval rating hits 35%. To make it all extra-Reagany, throw in a massive market crash so severe that will forever be remembered as "Black Monday." Obviously, you're going to want to schedule that one for an actual Monday.

You know, looking at this, it seems like less of an economic plan and more of a way for a sad and forgotten former-frontrunner to drop Reagan's name at every opportunity. (Media Matters, with video)

-Cartoon time with Mark Fiore-
Hey kids, have you heard about the 99-percenters and this Occupy Everystreet business? Well, it turns out they've found a spokesperson!

Click for animation

Freakin' hippie FDR! Go back to San Francisco and smoke pot, you commie! (MarkFiore.com)

-Bonus HotD-
"John McCain's ideas will save billions and billions of jobs."

That's literally what McCain argues, that eliminating regulations would increase employment, because they're currently "costing businesses billions and billions of jobs."

I think Mr. Cranky needs a nap. (Plum Line)

The GOP's Idea of 'Tax Fairness'

If anyone needs any more evidence that the Tea Party are a bunch of chumps, here you go; the Tea Party -- which many say stands for "Taxed Enough Already" -- supports a political party that openly argues for raising most of their taxes.

[Talking Points Memo:]

tax formsYou can almost always count on Republican presidential candidates to be united in their opposition to more taxes for the rich. But this time around, the 2012 field is standing lockstep behind a less traditional idea: the middle class pays too little in taxes.

Thanks to a strange convergence of conservative ideological trends since President Obama’s election, Republicans now are expected to protest the entire bottom half of taxpayers’ contributions as too stingy even while they proclaim Americans are “Taxed Enough Already.” And they’ve yet to figure out a policy that will satisfy both complaints at once.

In recent months, nearly every major Republican candidate has name-checked a popular statistic that 47% of Americans who file taxes paid no income tax in 2009. Given the GOP’s anti-tax zeal you’d think they’d be celebrating. Nope!

Keep in mind, this is the same side of the aisle that argues that taxation is theft. So, by their own reasoning, they're now arguing that government needs to steal from more people than it already does.

Republicans often argue that liberals are too governed by emotions. We saw it during the invasion of Iraq, when compassion and mercy were dismissed in favor of cold, hard facts -- which turned out not to be facts at all. We saw in it in fights over Supreme Court nominations, where "empathy" became a dirty word. But this new tax argument is based entirely on emotion. The arguments aren't based on economics, which would dictate the less money a person has, the more they should be allowed to keep and spend as a consumer. The arguments are based on a misplaced sense of "fairness," where even those incapable of shouldering the burden should be asked to help shoulder the burden.

But it's a petty "fairness" -- like demanding the wounded help row the lifeboats. After all, here millionaires are rowing like chumps and all the wounded are doing is bleeding, which doesn't help anyone.

Of course, this is the entire logic of the We are the 53% blog. Look at all these wounded people we've talked into rowing (of course, a large percentage of them aren't actually rowing, but never mind that), now quit complaining and grab an oar. It's also an argument that the status quo is the way things should be, that people should have to work three jobs and lose their homes and deal with cancer treatments they can't pay for. This argument in defense of capitalism as they see it is the worst possible argument they could come up with, but "shut up and suffer quietly like everyone else!" is an appeal to emotion, not logic.

Things shouldn't get better, things should get worse, until everyone is just as crushed as they feel (or, more likely, as they pretend to feel). That's only fair.

But the argument is also BS. Erick Erickson, the founder of the 53-percenter blog -- who claims he has to work three jobs just to get by -- is not struggling, by any means. Nor are any of the Republican candidates complaining that the middle class doesn't pull its own weight. These people -- every, single one of them -- live a life of relative ease that the rest of us will likely never know.

Another argument based on this phony fairness is that the wealthy did more to earn their money than anyone else -- "I'm rich because I've worked harder. I deserve to keep it, not help pay for someone who didn't work as hard as I did." If Erick Erickson has ever worked harder than a guy who blew out his back on a loading dock and now collects disability, I'll eat my hat. But I'm sure it's a terrible chore to sit up nights thinking of idiotic things to say on CNN. You bricklayers out there have it easy.

I guess what I'm getting at is that the real driving emotion here is greed. Fairness is just a beard. They want you to pay more, not so that all things are more equal and egalitarian, but so that they can pay less. There are people out there making choices between food, medicine, and rent and these clowns are arguing that we throw taxes in there, too.

Not because they want to hold onto their money, mind you. But because it's only fair.



News Roundup for 10/12/11

Picketers at Topeka city hall
Republican Utopia

-Headline of the Day-
"Facing Cuts, a City Repeals Its Domestic Violence Law."

Ever feel like committing a crime against your significant other? Then Topeka, Kansas is the place for you!

Yes, through the magic of Republican budget cuts, Topeka is now a paradise for alcoholic wife-beaters and emotionally unbalanced rage-freaks. Remember, that government that governs best governs least!

See, it works like this; Topeka doesn't have any money. The county doesn't have any money. And the district attorney's office doesn't have any money. So domestic violence cases get handed off every which way and the City Council finally had enough and voted to repeal the city's statute against domestic violence.

The reasoning was that, if domestic violence cases weren't covered under city statutes, then someone else would have to prosecute under state law. It's drastic, sure, but city leaders believe it beats the status quo. According to the report, "Eighteen people have been arrested on domestic violence charges since September and released without charges because no agency is accepting new cases." Whether Topeka's gambit will work or just make matters worse is unclear.

"To have public officials pointing fingers while victims of domestic violence are trying to figure out who will protect them is just stunning," said Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

So keep voting for all those tax- and budget-cutting Republicans, Kansas. Because if this proves anything, it's that you can totally pay for government with nothing but happy thoughts and rainbows. Don't let facts or math dissuade you. Those were created by Satan and liberals. (New York Times)

-Does this explain Republicans, too?-

Click to embiggen

I think it just might. (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

--Bonus HotD-
"Rick Perry Off By Only Two Centuries On Dates Of The American Revolution."

It's probably some kind of record for him. (ThinkProgress)

White House Begins to Acknowledge Reality that GOP is Sabotaging Recovery

McConnellWe need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, "Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job."... The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president...Our single biggest political goal is to give our nominee for president the maximum opportunity to be successful.
-Republican Senate minority leader Mich McConnell, in an interview during the 2010 elections.

Mitch McConnell said that?!?... He admitted that on the record?!? That is embarrassing. Can I just say for the record -- that is pathetic."
-Former GOP congressman and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

It was embarrassing and pathetic. One election cycle had not yet come and gone and here was the GOP's top guy in the Senate, already working on the next. I can't think of a better example of the Republican Party's "permanent campaign" mode than McConnell's admission. It would be two years before the next election and, rather than focusing of governing, McConnell was concentrating on the 2012 presidential campaign. Want a recipe for disaster? There you go.

But of course the White House, being all post-partisan and above such trifling matters as political reality, pretty much ignored McConnell's confession. They would continue to reach across the aisle to try to work with Republicans and would continue to have their hand slapped back. Like a gambling addict plugging a slot machine, the president seemed trapped by his own losing streak and the belief that if he kept feeding the machine silver dollars, it would have to pay off eventually. Ok, so this time bipartisanship didn't work, but if he walked away, he was walking away from the one time -- perhaps the very next pull on that lever -- that it would.

Maybe it was the debt-limit fight that proved to Barack Obama that the machine he was playing was either rigged or broken. Or maybe there was some sort of Oval Office intervention. But the White House seems to have come to grips with reality; Republicans are only concerned about the elections and, since this is true, they have an actual disincentive to work with the president to solve real world problems for Americans.

The shift in tone comes from a fundraising letter from the Obama/Biden reelection team. Finally, a recognition of reality.

The U.S. Senate is supposed to vote on the American Jobs Act as early as tonight.

It's a bill that will put people to work immediately, and it contains proposals that members of both parties have said in the past that they'd support.

But Senate Republicans want to block it. Not because they have a plan that creates jobs right now -- not one Republican, in Congress or in the presidential race, does. They only have a political plan.

Their strategy is to suffocate the economy for the sake of what they think will be a political victory. They think that the more folks see Washington taking no action to create jobs, the better their chances in the next election. So they're doing everything in their power to make sure nothing gets done.

And, of course, Mitch McConnell managed to do just that last night -- make sure nothing gets done. The filibuster is so worn out by this Senate that many people believe that the Constitution mandates 60 votes to pass anything in that chamber. Finally, the White House gets it; these aren't people you work with, these are people you have to work around. They have absolutely no interest in doing anything other than winning elections, just as McConnell promised just about two years ago.

"I'd still like to see Obama say this directly," writes Kevin Drum. "After all, he really doesn't need to worry about bipartisan comity anymore since Republicans have made it crystal clear that they aren't voting for any of his proposals no matter how nice he plays. So why not just tell the truth?"

Good question. Everyone's convinced that the White House is going to take a page from Harry Truman and run against a do-nothing congress; why not point out why they're doing nothing and what it means to the American people? Republicans have put voters' real-world problems on hold for two years, just to win an election. They've left the wreckage of the Bush economy to smolder, because they think it makes the president look bad. If they're more interested in campaigning than in governing, do you really want to give one of them the keys to the White House?

Someone has to point out the obvious: that the GOP as it stands today is completely unfit to govern anything larger and more complex than a Ronald Reagan fan club. Their idea of a brilliant election strategy translates into incompetent governance and we just can't afford any more of it.

At the very least, since an election forces it, we can finally expect the president to become partisan.



News Roundup for 10/11/11

100% dumb

-Headline of the Day-
"About those '53 percent.'"

You might've heard that some "conservative activists" [read "paid corporate whores"] have put together a site they call We are the 53%. Erick Erickson is one of the brainiacs behind this thing and, since he's a clown, it's all very stupid. Basically, it's a way to make fun of another blog -- We are the 99% -- where people share stories about how they're either barely getting by or are not getting by at all. This seems the obvious thing to do, because these 99-percenter stories are all from people who've been wrongfully evicted or developed cancer or had their jobs shipped overseas or had their better-paid spouse die on them. Since conservatives are assholes, they're going to kick these people when they're down. And get a good chuckle out of it at the same time.

Anyhoo, as I said, it's all very stupid. Many of the people on the site claiming to be the 53% (i.e., people who pay income tax) clearly aren't, but aren't smart enough to figure that out. In other cases, they're chumps who are getting fucked ("I work 60 hours a week on a salary that pays me for 45 hours"), but think it's somehow "unamerican" to try to do anything to get unfucked. These are deeply, deeply dumb people.

But, as I said, Erick-Erick is a clown, so a big part of the fun comes from his story of hardship (he's a professional pundit and a CNN contributor); "I work three jobs. I have a house I can’t sell. My family insurance costs are outrageous. But I don’t blame Wall Street. Suck it up you whiners. I am the 53% subsidizing you so you can hang out on Wall Street and complain."

To which Steve Benen responds that this is all crap. It's "rather foolish" to argue Erick-Erick works three jobs and, even if he did, it'd be even crazier to say it was because he has to. Not blaming Wall Street for a weak housing market caused by securitized debt in the form of "toxic assets" is even crazier. And, of course, his "family insurance costs" are something Erick-Erick literally gets paid to keep high, by virtue of being a professional opponent of healthcare reform. In short, Erick-Erick is -- as I keep saying over and over -- a freakin' clown. At this point, saying he's a hack would be giving him too much credit.

What Benen doesn't point out -- and I'm surprised he doesn't -- is that Erik-Erik and all these bobbleheads on his site just spent the last three years bitching about the economy. But now that someone comes along and places the blame where it belongs... Why, there's nothing wrong with the economy! Everything's great! Stop whining! (this "reasoning" is rampant on the right; see my handy infographic here)

"If there are any actual 'whiners' in this scenario," Benen asks, "shouldn't the label go to millionaires who shudder at the idea of paying Clinton-era tax rates?"

Yes. Yes it should. Quit your bitching, Erick-Erick, and pull your goddam weight. (Political Animal)

-Why the wingnuts don't love Mittens-

Click to embiggen

And let's not even get started on their whole "save Medicare from being slashed by Obamacare/slash Medicare!" thing. (McClatchy)

-Bonus HotD-
"Conservative Fundraiser Wants To 'Clear K Street Of Protesters' By Hitting 'A Few With A Car.'"

Nathan Wurtzel is also a clown. (ThinkProgress)


News Roundup for 10/10/11

Little girl holds 'We are the 99-percent' sign
Getting someplace

-Headline of the Day-
"Poll: Half the country has heard about the Occupy Wall Street protests."

CNN is out with a good news/bad news poll. The good news is "roughly half" (51%) of the people CNN polled were aware of the Occupy Wall Street protests and the bad news is that, of them, 54% don't have an opinion about them either way. But the bad news breaks down further as good bad news for the 99-percenters and bad bad news for the people backing the suits. CNN reports that "27% say they agree with the movement's overall position on the financial system and social change, with 19% saying disagree with Occupy Wall Street on those issues."

In better news for the 99-percenters, Occupy Wall Street is winning the internet by an extremely wide margin. "Those who use social media were more likely to support the goals of the movement, with a full third of those respondents saying they agreed with the group's overall position," reports The Hill. "Only 14 percent of social media users said they did not support the protesters."

It's a start. Occupy Facebook! (CNN)

-GOP consistency on display-

Click to embiggen

No comment needed, I guess. (DailyKos)

-Bonus HotD-
"Almost Twice As Many People Have Heard of Occupy Wall Street As Rick Perry."

Or, "Fun With Mix-and-Match Polling." (Wonkette)

The Republican Attack on Democracy

The Republican war on voting actually serves two purposes. The most obvious is in preventing people from exercising their most fundamental right as an American, while the second is to create yet another culture war wedge issue. Hordes of illegal aliens are voting, they argue -- without evidence. In other cases, people vote twice or in the wrong district, in order to elect their candidates. The problem with this scenario is that the one high-profile case I can think of involved someone who would most definitely not vote dem. Still, it fosters the divisive "us-vs-them" hysteria that Republicans love so.

The New York Times editorial board points out just how phantasmagorical the idea of widespread voter fraud really is.

Woman votingIn Kansas, the secretary of state, Kris Kobach (who also wrote Arizona’s notorious anti-immigrant law), pushed for an ID law on the basis of a list of 221 reported instances of voter fraud in Kansas since 1997. Even if that were true, it would be an infinitesimal percentage of the votes cast during that period, but it is not true.

When The Wichita Eagle looked into the local cases on the list, the newspaper found that almost all were honest mistakes: a parent trying to vote for a student away at college, or signatures on mail-in ballots that didn’t precisely match those on file. In one case of supposed “fraud,” a confused non-citizen was asked at the motor vehicles bureau whether she wanted to fill out a voter registration form, and did so not realizing she was ineligible to vote.

Some of the desperate Republican attempts to keep college students from voting are almost comical in their transparent partisanship. No college ID card in Wisconsin meets the state’s new stringent requirements (as lawmakers knew full well), so the elections board proposed that colleges add stickers to the cards with expiration dates and signatures. Republican lawmakers protested that the stickers would lead to -- yes, voter fraud.

And Wisconsin Republicans have the oddest rationale for their actions. When confronted with all the facts showing that there is no widespread voter fraud and their own inability come up with just one case where fraud changed the election results, they say it doesn't matter. What's important is that people have "faith in elections." Even if there isn't any widespread fraud, people believe there is (wonder where they got that idea?). And it's important -- for reasons that aren't immediately obvious or even logical -- that we address those imaginary concerns. Never mind that it's going to cost the state $7.5 million to assure everyone that there aren't monsters hiding under their bed. It's important that people feel good about elections, even if the concerns they have are fantasy-based.

Add to this the fact that -- as I've pointed out before -- people have a lot more reason to blame Republicans for casting doubt on elections and you start to see an extremely pointless endeavor from any perspective other than just suppressing the vote. Voter ID has been called a solution in search of a problem. In fact, a problem exists -- elections riddled with corruption and a lack of transparency -- but Republicans don't want to deal with that, because it works to their advantage.

Meanwhile, the Brennan Center for Justice has released a report showing that new voting restrictions nationwide "could make it significantly harder for more than five million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012." Five million legitimate votes are a lot to sacrifice to salve a paranoid populace's fear of a non-existent crisis of voter fraud. Republicans argue that citizens shouldn't have to worry about their votes being "cancelled out" by illegitimate voters -- apparently, by making sure that many have no votes to cancel out.

"It’s arguably the nation’s most important political scandal," writes Steve Benen, "and most of the country has never heard a word about it." I couldn't agree more. There are few things more unamerican than taking votes away from legitimate voters. They may wear those stupid little lapel pins and pledge allegiance and wave the flag, but Republicans -- in this instance at least -- can be shown to have no respect for American values. Worse, by undoing democracy, they take away the very foundation of the American political system -- a "government of the people, by the people, for the people."

A Republican came up with that phrase. How far that party has strayed.