Stories to Watch: 10/28/11
What a day. Just crisis after crisis. Everything seems to be squared away now and I’m about to put my loaf of sourdough in the oven. Hoping for a quiet night. This one’s going to be pretty short. Now here’s the news…
You know that guy who’s smoking in that weird Herman Cain ad? Yeah, that’s Cain’s campaign manager Mark Block and he’s one unsavory guy. According to AP, “Block has been accused of voter suppression and was banned from running Wisconsin political campaigns for three years to settle accusations he coordinated a judge’s re-election campaign with a special interest group.” He’s also a tax dodger and a drunk driver.
Mittens Romney flips again on global warming; “we don’t know what’s causing climate change.” Sorry Mitt, but we do.
George Will is a lot less than impressed with Mittens — while all but verifying he’s the best thing they’ve got.
In a sign of how far the debate has shifted, Rep. Paul Ryan writes that the GOP is worried about the “safety net for the poor” — in a fundraising email to the base. Forget the blatant hypocrisy here and consider what that means; the GOP base is the 99% and the GOP knows it.
Scott Olsen, the vet who was the victim of the Oakland police riot, has suffered brain damage and can’t speak, but is expected to eventually make a full recovery.
Finally, Egyptians march in support of Occupy Oakland.
Oh for fuck’s sake.
Herman Cain in an interview with an Israeli newspaper said pushes by the “so-called Palestinian people” for statehood and an Iranian assassination plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States are evidence that President Obama is perceived as weak in the Middle East.
“I think that the so-called Palestinian people have this urge for unilateral recognition because they see this president as weak,” Cain said during an interview with Israel Hayom. “I haven’t seen all the facts but I think this whole assassination attempt was another example of seeing this president as weak, in that regard. So, weakness invites attack and I think that he has projected a sense of weakness.”
Apparently, Obama is much, much stronger than GWB ever was, since Bush projected such weakness that 3,000 people died in a terrorist attack on 9/11.
But “so-called Palestinian people?” Really? What’s the implication here, that they aren’t Palestinian or that they aren’t people?
When Republicans Say They Can’t Create Jobs, Maybe We Should Believe Them
If you cut government spending, it helps the economy, right?
That’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.
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.
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.
Stories to Watch: 10/22/11
I’m going to take another whack at sourdough bread. This time, I’ll knead it after it comes out of the bread machine and divide it into two loaves so it’s not in the oven for as long (the crusts have been a little too crusty, even for sourdough). We’ll see how that works out. Now here’s the news…
The UPenn campus paper publishes Eric Cantor’s speech on income inequality. You know, the one he cancelled after it became clear the audience wouldn’t be sycophantic? Here’s a fun game: use your browser to search for the words “income” and “inequality” in the text. It’s very instructive.
Steve Benen reviews Cantor’s undelivered speech; “After having read it, it seems Cantor probably made a wise choice canceling at the last minute.” The speech in a nutshell; “Trickle down economics will work this time. I swear!” Anyone who’d give this steaming pile of a speech deserves to be heckled.
Unfortunately for Eric, he doesn’t actually have to be there to be protested.
The new conservative spin; President Obama won the war in Iraq wrong.
Proof that global warming denial is an article of faith, not a scientific position; after a Koch-funded study led by a climate skeptic confirms anthropogenic global warming, the deniers are still denying.
Electric car companies are using federal money to create jobs in America. Needless to say, it’s the worst thing ever.
Finally, Karl Rove’s super-secret American Crossroads PAC warns the GOP that Obama’s “tax the rich” rhetoric is working; “our poll found that 64% favor raising taxes on people with incomes above $200,000.”
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…
Click for animation
Conservatives have weird ideas about gratitude. (MarkFiore.com)
“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)
Stories to Watch: 10/12/11
Looks like our autumn heat wave is finally over. I grilled burger in the drizzle last night, but damn it, I grilled burgers. Now here’s the news…
Herman Cain opens up a strong lead over Mitt Romney in a Public Policy Polling poll, with Rick Perry falling behind — yes, it’s true — Newt Gringrich. Bonus fun; the poll also finds that about 40% of GOP voters are still birthers. The crazy never ends with these people.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll contradicts PPP, with Mittens in the lead, while somebody called Evolving Strategies has Cain, Perry, and Romney leading Obama. Don’t get too excited about any of this; recall that a recent Pew poll showed that more than half can’t even name a GOP candidate off the top of their heads.
Matt Taibbi has some good advice for Occupy Wall Street. My favorite, demanding a round of good old-fashioned trust busting. Too big to fail = too big to exist.
The idea that Republicans are deliberately trying to sabotage the economy is beginning to look like the Democratic Party line.
President Obama’s Jobs Bill is extremely popular, complete with raising taxes on the wealthy.
Chuck Schumer’s not-so-awful plan to take on the GOP in ‘12; run against the Tea Party, who are becoming less popular every day.
More trouble in the UK for Rupert.
Warren Buffet puts his money where his mouth is.
Finally, New Hampshire ponders a December primary. How about we keep these things to the same year as the elections, OK? This is just getting stupid.
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.
President 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
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 candidate lies in not being imaginary. (New York Magazine)
-While we’re on the subject…-
Jon Stewart elaborates.
So it’s like that… (Comedy Central)
“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)
Stories to Watch: 9/23/11
Short one today, got something I need to finish up quick. Now here’s the news…
File this one in the “Still hope for humanity” file: the extra-crispy rightwing Weekly Standard is freaked out by how insane GOP candidates sound at debates. They quote an email from “a bright young conservative” they received while the latest horsecrap party was going on last night: “I’m watching my first GOP debate… and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”
Not even Shelly Malkin can bring herself to make excuses for just how poorly Rick Perry did at that crazy people debate. Seriously, it was bad.
Rick Santorum is very disappointed in the people who booed a gay soldier last night. Not even Rick is proud of Rick’s positions anymore. Even National Review’s Jim Geraghty was
shocked mildly annoyed at the level of disrespect.
Who’d’a thunk it? Turns out that Senate Republicans aren’t nearly as insane and politically suicidal as their House counterparts.
Finally, Morgan Freeman states the obvious.