Stories to Watch: 10/25/11
Meatloaf tonight. It’s what I do when I can’t think of anything else to make. But that’s OK, I like meatloaf. Now here’s the news…
Mitt Romney avoids offering an opinion of the repeal of Ohio’s union-busting law — while visiting a phone bank making calls on behalf of the law. Finger in the wind.
DNC chair Rep. Debbie Wassserman Schultz on Rick Perry’s tax plan: “My reaction to Rick Perry’s new/old plan is that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Robbing from the poor to give to the rich hasn’t been working so far, but this time for sure!
Elizabeth Warren v. Scott Brown just became a proxy war for Occupy Wall Street v. Wall Street. Guess who’s on whose side?
The Congressional Budget Office confirms that the rich have been making plenty of money.
Rick Santorum is busy confirming everyone’s preconception of him as a ridiculous bigot and national embarrassment.
Americans’ approval of congress is at a whopping 9%. I think Gaddafi enjoyed more support among Libyans.
Finally, it’s a race to collect
bribes donations in the Scott Walker recall in Wisconsin.
Stories to Watch: 10/8/11
I think I’m going to try another loaf of sourdough this weekend. I’ll feed the starter tonight, before I go to bed, then get started in the morning. I’m going to use the bread machine to mix the dough and then hand knead it. My bread hasn’t been bad, just really dense — a little lighter than a bagel. It was awesome for grilled sandwiches, though. We’ll see how this other method works out. Now here’s the news…
On top of everything else, Rick Perry now has a “pastor problem.” In an introduction for Perry at the Values Voters Summit, Robert Jeffress — a Perry backer — launched into a rant that painted Planned Parenthood as a “slaughterhouse for the unborn” and Mitt Romney as a member of the “cult” of Mormonism.
Of course, as is always the case with endorsements from religious right whackjobs, Team Perry should’ve seen this coming from a million miles away. Jeffress has a history of making bigoted statements, at one point asserting that Muslims, Jews, Mormons, and gays are all going to hell. In the future, GOP candidates, do a little research before having one of these lunatics speak for you. Maybe do something crazy like look them up on — *gasp* — lefty blogs and news sources, where everything rightwing isn’t automatically perfect and wonderful and covered with several thousand coats of whitewash. Any staffer who ever says, “WorldNetDaily and Andy Brietbart like him and that’s good enough for me!” should be fired. And probably pantsed.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, President Obama’s crazy socialist tax-and-spendathon of a jobs bill would cut the deficit and “have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years.” Clearly, it must be stopped or the
Republicans are republic is doomed.
The Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the US credit rating is now meaningless.
Steve Jobs: The Motion Picture.
Matt Yglesias helps gas up the 99-percenter bandwagon, with chart porn that shows different people living in different economic realities. Long story short, if you don’t think there’s a problem, it has a lot more to do with your social circles than it does with the real world.
Proving that Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD are just being assholes, another city — Philadelphia — “rolls out the welcome mat" for Occupy/99% protesters and has no problems. For future reference, if you start beating up protesters, other people are just going to show up to protest that, too. This is what’s known among people capable of rational thought as “counterproductive.”
Finally, Michele Bachmann is a perfect illustration of why you don’t want to be the early frontrunner — there’s no place to go but down, down, down. And that’s a sad place. Although, given who it’s happening to, it’s also hilarious.
GOP Debate a Trip Through Conservative Fantasyland
At last night’s Republican presidential debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry summed up very nicely nearly everything that’s wrong with today’s Republican Party:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry clung to his skepticism of climate change science in Wednesday’s Republican presidential debate when he was asked if he believes man-made climate change is happening.
"The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet to me is just nonsense," Perry said. "Just because you have a group of scientists who stood up and said here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell," he said.
It’s perfect. It’s got everything. It’s got poor Rick Perry being victimized — just like Galileo — for scientific dissent. It lacks a single fact to back up the argument. And it displays economic flateartherism (developing new markets and new technologies would be bad for the economy? Really?). It’s got a bass-ackward take on history worthy of Michele Bachmann (Galileo’s case wasn’t that of a hyper-religious know-nothing against scientists, it was a scientist against hyper-religious know-nothings like Perry). And it’s a fine example of believing whatever in the hell you want to believe, inconvenient facts or logic be damned.
Of course, there’s really no reason to single Perry out, other than to use the perfection of his wrongheadedness as an example of what passes for his party’s brightest minds these days. The night was filled with unicorns and leprechauns and other fables beloved by the GOP. In a piece this morning, the New York Times fact-checks the debaters at the GOP debate and finds a largely fact-free event. It turns out that Republicans live in a world where Barack Obama is blocking offshore drilling and nuclear plants, where global warming is a hoax (despite verifiable increases in global temperature over the years), where Social Security is a “Ponzi scheme,” where healthcare reform is killing jobs, where up is down and right is left and all your crazy, rightwing dreams come true, true, true if you just wish hard enough.
Another example; this time, Matt Yglesias breaks down Michele Bachmann’s claim that the Congressional Budget Office found that healthcare reform eliminates jobs:
In fact, what the CBO said was that “the law would have a ‘small’ impact on the overall labor force because it might cause some workers to reduce their hours or retire earlier.”
Making it harder for people who want jobs to find them, and making people less inclined to want to work, both reduce aggregate employment. But they’re very different things. Policies that work by altering the size of the labor force are totally different from policies that work by changing the share of the labor force that has job opportunities. If we halted payment of all Social Security benefits tomorrow, then the number of senior citizens in the labor force would skyrocket and overall employment would almost certainly shoot up. But would we be helping unemployed people that way? No. If anything we’d be making it harder for the people currently looking for work to find any. Bachmann’s complaint about the ACA [Affordable Care Act] is just this policy in reverse. Some people who might otherwise prefer to work part-time are currently working full-time in order to get health insurance benefits. Some people who might otherwise prefer to retire are currently working full-time in order to get health insurance benefits. A universal health care insurance will change that. Which is to say that a universal health insurance system will make their lives better and make it easier for them to do what they want.
Long story short, Michele Bachmann would pull people out of retirement in order to pump up employment numbers — but without doing anything to help the jobless. Once again, you’re faced with the question that arises so often when you’re discussing Republicans; is Michele Bachmann lying or just stupid? In other words, is she twisting the CBO’s findings to fit her political agenda or is she just not understanding the findings at all? Given that it’s Bachmann we’re talking about here, the answer may forever remain a mystery — either explanation fits.
Which brings me to one of the Republicans’ favorite victim cards; elitist snobbery. Liberals call conservatives dumb because we’re fancypants coastal elitists who look down our noses at plain-spoken folks from the heartland. My response to that? You’re a whiner and, if your not a member of that class represented by the GOP candidates, a chump.
One; I live in a middle class neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin. Everyone on that stage last night is rich, lives in a mansion, and has probably joined a country club. I’m not the elite here, they are.
Two; we call Republicans dumb because they say dumb things. I didn’t make Rick Perry compare himself to Galileo, I didn’t force Michele Bachmann to conclude that something projected to reduce joblessness would increase it. I didn’t make Mitt Romney get President Obama’s energy record completely wrong. They did that. They said those dumb things and they were all unforced errors. You should thank me for cutting them some slack by concluding they’re dumb — because the only other explanation is that they’re being deliberately dishonest and not just demonstrably mistaken.
So who won the Republican debate last night? Who cares? Seriously, the whole thing turned out to be a contest to see who was the least fit to be president. It was a ritual of demonstration of ideological purity, not a debate at all. It was a game show that might as well have been titled Who Agrees With Eric Cantor Most? and the prize is the adoration of millions of chumps, eager to be fooled into believing you give a damn about them.
If anyone wants to be called the winner of that, then welcome to it.
On the Front Lines of the Republican War on Math
Before we get started here, I just want to say that the next person who says that Egypt and Mubarak are important for stability in the region gets to shut up. Is Egypt looking real stable to you right now? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Here at home, where things are a little more stable, the only major skirmish right now is the Republican War on Math. If there’s one thing that Americans can count on, it’s that the GOP will remain unswayed by fact for quite some time. With the rise of the Tea Party on the right, we see an anti-fact movement taking hold of the party. From the raising of the flag at Iowa Jamma to the Soviet Union being brought down by Sputnik, in the hands of Republicans, facts become irrelevant things. Want Thomas Jefferson — who actually wrote the divinity of Christ out of the Bible — to be the most Christian man ever? Done. Need the American Civil War to be about anything other than slavery? You got it. Give them a little while and the right will be blaming FDR for America’s humiliating loss in WWII.
So it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the Republican relationship with arithmetic is a rocky one. Numbers are, after all, one of the highest forms of truth. So, since no fact is immune to revision and twisting, numbers have found themselves in the GOP’s
crosshairs surveyor’s marks.
The latest salvo in the Republican War on Math comes in the form of an attack on the concepts of addition and subtraction. See, it turns out that Republicans want them to be the same thing. In this case, if you add to the deficit, you act surprised that you haven’t reduced the deficit. Observe:
The day of President Obama’s inauguration, the federal budget deficit left by the Republican administration was $1.3 trillion. After some additional economy-saving measures were added to the mix, the 2009 deficit reached $1.4 trillion. Last year, things improved slightly, and the deficit fell to $1.29 trillion.
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office warned lawmakers that the budget picture was poised to get worse again, projecting a $1.5 trillion deficit this year.
Summarizing the thoughts of many, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) told Roll Call, “I think everyone is in a collective state of shock right now over the CBO numbers.”
Yes, how completely surprising. After all, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that continuing Bush’s tax cuts for top earners would increase the deficit. So Republicans bullied Obama into continuing those tax cuts. Now it turns out the deficit will increase. How did that happen? I can see how that would come as a tremendous shock to Sen. Kirk. Who could’ve foreseen such an unfortuitous turn of events? If only we had some sort of agency that, you know, dealt with budget numbers coming out of Congress. Some sort of Office of Congressional Budgets or Budgets of Congress Office or something that could warn us that these things would happen. Oh well, if wishes were horses…
"It’s unclear to me why Republicans aren’t confronted with hysterical laughter when they claim credibility on fiscal issues," writes Benen. "This is a party that inherited a massive surplus a decade ago, when we were actually paying off our debt. The GOP proceeded to squander the surplus, add $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years, and then demand Democrats clean up their mess."
That’s because Democrats are good with numbers and facts and all those things the Founders clearly had no time for. Republicans? Why they’re Idea People. Big Idea People, with big, big dreams. And they aren’t going to let little things like provable facts and clearly predictable consequences stand in their way. That’s for the Poindexters with their slide-rules and whatever those giant watch things with all the buttons are for… Whaddya call ‘em? “Calculators,” yeah. Those Poindexters with their calculators and sums and operators and decimal points. Elitist snobs, if you ask Republicans.
So, the War on Math isn’t going so well. Turns out addition and subtraction are two entirely different things. Republicans can either play by math’s rules or make up their own.
Of course, they make up their own, so the War on Math isn’t going very well.