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)
News Roundup for 10/11/11
-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)
“Conservative Fundraiser Wants To ‘Clear K Street Of Protesters’ By Hitting ‘A Few With A Car.’”
Nathan Wurtzel is also a clown. (ThinkProgress)
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.
In 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.
A Washington Scheduling Conflict is Not the Most Important Story Ever
One of the things I like to do with what I think of as my “long form” posts is kill two or more birds with one stone. It’s often the case that when you look closely at an issue or story of the day, it relates to other stories and other issues. So many things are interconnected and politics (as much as politicians like to pretend otherwise) is a complex and faceted thing. It’s nearly always the case that you can grab a story and make it at least two stories; “Man, this is dumb — and the media sucks!” And yes, media suckage figures into this particular post.
So let’s begin with that. Yesterday, President Obama announced that he wanted to address a joint session of congress on September 7. This wasn’t going to work, there was a big Republican debate that night and we can’t have the president dominating that news cycle. Of course, House Speaker John Boehner didn’t put his refusal that way, but no one on Earth believes there was any other reason. The President pushed his case, but later dropped it. He’d address congress on the 8th.
OK, now here’s where we get to the “and the media sucks!” part; this is the big story today. A scheduling disagreement. Yes, the GOP looks petty and self-serving. “Remember, this is just about picking the date for the speech. It’s like arguing about the shape of the table before sitting down for negotiations. What possible chance is there for Washington to approve meaningful economic legislation if there’s a dramatic showdown over scheduling?” writes Steve Benen. “That’s a rhetorical question; the chances are zero.” But the bigger story — that President Obama is going to unveil a major jobs plan — is lost in the coverage of this minor palace intrigue.
Worse, it turns out we have a good idea what’s in the plan the President will outline and media’s ignoring this knowledge.
President Obama is either fed up with Congress or he’s testing his own administration’s mettle. Or both.
On Wednesday, Obama took a now-familiar path in adopting a program — this time a jobs and infrastructure effort — that can happen entirely within his domain. Obama directed several federal agencies to identify “high-impact, job-creating infrastructure projects” that can be expedited now, without congressional approval.
One week before he will make a major address to Congress on jobs, Obama is making sure they know he plans to move forward without them. The president has also directed the Education Department to come up with a “Plan B” updating the 2001 No Child Left Behind law in the absence of congressional action. The message to Congress is clear: Do your work or we’ll do it for you.
That’s right, we know the president plans to stand before congress and give them the middle finger with both hands, but the big story is that this middle-finger-giving had to be rescheduled. Barack Obama is finally telling congress, “lead, follow, or get out of the way,” but the earth-shatteringly important story — as far as the media is concerned — involves day-planners.
No doubt, the president will call on congress to do more, but it’s clear that things will move forward with or without them. Which, of course, almost certainly means without them. We’ll hear a lot from the GOP about how Obama is going off on another round of reckless new spending, but — from everything I’m seeing — this would merely be an expedited distribution of existing funds (i.e., it’s not new spending, it’s a rejiggering of agencies’ budgets). Republican complaints will be what they always are; reactionary BS. So expect the media to climb on board with that.
Meanwhile, Republicans’ big plan to create jobs involves tax cuts — which have been failing for a decade — and repealing regulations. Most of these regulations were in place during the Clinton administration, which means they were operational during the longest economic expansion of the 20th century. Clearly, these regulations aren’t extremely burdensome and they’re not the reason people are out of work. This isn’t about creating jobs, this is about an opportunistic attack on things Republicans don’t like while pretending to do something about jobs. And, if the legislation passes and then fails to dent unemployment — and fail it unquestionably would — then that’ll be Obama’s fault, because everything is Obama’s fault.
Man, this is dumb — and the media sucks.
Stories to Watch: 8/29/11
Put in a ceiling fan yesterday. It was a nightmare. If I were designing something to be installed by someone I hated, this is what I’d come up with. Seriously, it’s like it never occurred to any engineer at the manufacturer that someone would actually have to connect this thing to the ceiling. Now here’s the news…
Michele Bachmann’s campaign says she was kidding when she said God was sending earthquakes and hurricanes because he was mad at government spending. Let me make a couple of points here; one, jokes are generally supposed to be funny and, two, if she was kidding, what does it say about the candidate that no one could tell the difference Shelly the absurdist and Shelly the serious?
Labor economist Alan Krueger will replace Austan Goolsbee as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He sounds like the kind of guy America needs, which means confirmation is going to be a bitch. No sanity or realism allowed!
Here comes the racism again. Jack Cashill at the poorly named American Thinker takes a gander at a letter Barack Obama wrote in the Harvard Law Record and simply does not care for the writing. Conclusion, President Obama is an affirmative action case who never belonged at Harvard in the first place. Needless to say, Scott Johnson at Powerline concurs.
Here’s a fun game; let’s take a look at George W. Bush’s, Michele Bachmann’s, Rick Perry’s, and Sarah Palin’s college writings and see how they stack up. I’d bet the farm they’d be as stupid as you’d expect. And only one of those was an affirmative action case — George W. Bush, who scored a scholarship because his dad was a Yale graduate.
But we don’t call that “affirmative action for rich white guys,” we call that “legacy.”
Eric Cantor is still standing by his “no disaster relief without spending cuts” hostage scheme. Steve Benen nails it:
Let’s also not lose sight of the larger context here. As far as Eric Cantor is concerned, launching wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not need to be paid for. Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires do not need to be paid for. Bailing out Wall Street does not need to be paid for. But when American communities are struck by a natural disaster, all of a sudden, House Republicans discover a new standard: if Democrats want to help affected areas, the GOP has some demands that must be met.
Benen says Cantor’s stance is “morally reprehensible.” I say I wish Benen hadn’t gone so easy on him.
Gay terrorists wage jihad on poor Rick Santorum.
Joe Scarborough wonders if it’s a good idea to go marching off to war at the drop of a hat, without considering what the costs might be.
Rick Perry’s brain is like a “chicken pot pie,” in case you were wondering about that. Apparently, Republican voters really like that in a candidate.
Finally, Fox News’ Stuart Varney is really just an awful, awful person.
Stories to Watch: 8/28/11
Hurricane Irene downgrades to a tropical storm. The American death toll at this moment seems to be ten. Flooding, power outages, downed trees widespread. Just because it’s been downgraded, don’t think you’re out of the woods if you’re in the path. It’s still a very dangerous storm. Stay inside until authorities tell you it’s safe to come out. Lots of live power lines laying around out there. Now here’s [the rest of] the news…
The most brainless headline of the day: “Do We Really Need a National Weather Service?” — from Fox News, of course. The money shot: “It issues severe weather advisories and hijacks local radio and television stations to get the message out. It presumes that citizens do not pay attention to the weather and so it must force important, perhaps lifesaving, information upon them.”
Steve Benen feels the need to clarify, “This is not, by the way, a parody.”
It’s come to this; the right is now criticizing President Obama for competently handling Hurricane Irene. We also learn that Vice President Joe Biden was out golfing when he should’ve been stopping the hurricane. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Rick Perry is quickly learning how difficult it is to have things both ways.
What would Martin Luther King jr. think of Republican voter ID/disenfranchisement laws? I think we all know the answer to that. But just in case you can’t guess, civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis verifies that he’d be against it — strongly.
American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer was a dumbass again.
Finally, never, ever, ever, ever visit Drudge Report. I never do and I’m able to find news stories just fine. In the latest example of worthlessness, DR puts up a headline decrying Hurricane Irene as a “phony hurricane.” If you want to make yourself stupid, just drink. It’s more fun.
Rep. Paul Ryan Hides Behind a Paywall
What is that I smell; is it fear or blood in the water?
It will cost $15 to ask Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) a question in person during the August congressional recess.
The House Budget Committee chairman isn’t holding any face-to-face open-to-the-public town hall meetings during the recess, but like several of his colleagues he will speak only for residents willing to open their wallets.
Ryan, who took substantial criticism from his southeast Wisconsin constituents in April after he introduced the Republicans’ budget proposal, isn’t the only member of congress whose August recess town hall-style meetings are strictly pay-per-view.
That’s right, Paul Ryan is hiding behind a paywall — along with Reps. Ben Quayle of Arizona and Chip Cravaack of Minnesota. Basically, the idea is this; the events are fundraisers, so it costs you a ticket price to get in. Obviously, the hope is that this will be a disincentive to critics, since they have to throw money in the Reps campaign war chests to voice their concerns.
“And what about those voters who don’t want to pony up just to talk to their member of Congress or can’t afford a ticket? They’re out of luck,” explains Steve Benen. “Try sending a letter that will be read by an office assistant who will gladly send you a nice form letter in response.”
When Democrats began cancelling their town halls in 2009, because of disruptive protesters from the nascent Tea Party — then known only as “town hall mobs” — then-Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele accused Democrats of “hiding from the American people.” So we should expect that Ryan, Quayle, and Cravaack will receive criticism just as sharp from GOP leadership, right?
Ok, probably not. Republicans do not adore the hobgoblin of a foolish consistency. In fact, a Ryan spokesperson has washed his boss’s hands of the whole thing. It’s not his fault. Nothing he can do. According to the report, the spokesperson said Ryan had absolutely nothing to do with “the Whitnall Park Rotary Club’s decision to charge $15 for admission— a fee that will pay for the catered lunch of meat and potatoes the group will provide.”
Nothing, that is, except not really scheduling any other public events. HAnd, given the way the market tanked after Ryan and company’s default-denialism, he probably owes his constituents a free ham sandwich at least. Or at least an explanation.
But they’ll have a tough time getting it. Ryan says he’ll still be taking “business tours” — presumably of friendly businesses for photo ops. He’ll also still be having office hours, where I’m absolutely sure he’ll be happy to meet with an angry unemployed autoworker in between corporate lobbyists. And, as Benen pointed out, you can always write and get a canned response that almost certainly won’t answer your questions or concerns. What’s important isn’t that Rep. Paul Ryan face his constituents and explain his actions, what’s important is that there aren’t any YouTube videos of angry voters telling Ryan exactly what they think. There’s reelection next November to think about, after all.
Stories to Watch: 8/10/11
I had a cable guy come out and install a new box. Worked great for a bit, then the cable sputtered and died, cutting in and out with greater frequency until it finally went out altogether. I called the company and they told me it wasn’t the new box, it’s an area-wide outage. What are the odds? At least I get my internet through the phone company. Now here’s the news…
Polling on the new “super-committee” on deficit reduction, CNN has good news, bad news, and (arguably) good news within the bad news. The good news is that 63% want to increase taxes on the wealthy, the bad news is that 57% want “major cuts in domestic spending.” The good news within the bad news is that people obviously have no idea what domestic spending actually is. “Nearly two-thirds say no to major changes to Social Security and Medicare,” we’re told. So the good news within the bad news is that the deep cuts in domestic spending everyone wants are impossible — which is good, because they would be stupid. Through the process of elimination, soak the rich it is.
Polling the same issue, Gallup finds that everyone wants compromise — except the ‘baggers.
Senate party leaders have announced their picks for the super-committee and one of Harry Reid’s choices is characteristically idiotic. Fake dem Max Baucus will sit on the committee, making certain that conservatives have most of the votes on the Senate side. Was Joe Lieberman busy? Can’t anybody here play this game? (For a differing opinion, check Steve Benen — but I’m pretty sure liberals will wind up cursing Baucus before all is said and done).
The word of the day on Wall Stree is “Yikes!”
RNC head Reince Priebus says that the GOP’s poll numbers are nosediving because people don’t like Obama. No, really.
Finally, John Nichols calls BS on GOP triumphalism over the recall elections last night. You don’t lose two senate seats to a recall and get to declare yourselves the winner. The Democratic Party of Wisconsin agrees.