Friday, February 27, 2009

Hooray! Combat Troops Home By 2010, ALL Troops Home By 2011

The New York Times:
President Obama declared Friday that the United States has now “begun the work of ending this war” in Iraq as he announced the withdrawal of most American forces by the summer of next year while leaving behind as many as 50,000 troops for more limited missions.

[...]

The “transitional force” he will leave behind will no longer participate in major combat missions but instead train and advise Iraqi security forces, hunt down terrorist cells and protect American civilian and military personnel working in Iraq. Mr. Obama promised that all of them will leave as well by December 2011 in accordance with a security agreement with Iraq negotiated by President George W. Bush before he left office last month.

At the same time, Mr. Obama vowed to continue the American commitment to building a new Iraqi society and to resettling millions of displaced Iraqis still away from home — elsewhere in their own nation or in neighboring countries. And he promised to escalate diplomatic involvement in the broader region, including new lines of communication with Iran and Syria.

A withdrawal done with dignity, honor and responsibility. A renewed emphasis on diplomacy, and an effective plan to protect our nation. Another campaign promised fulfilled, and a return to sensibility. Thank you, Mr. President!

Whatta Surprise! Jindal Lied

Piyush "Bobby" Jindal's story about rescue boats being held back during Katrina for lack of insurance has been revealed as a fabrication, and Jindal finally admitted that he lied:
Remember that story Bobby Jindal told in his big speech Tuesday night -- about how during Katrina, he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a local sheriff who was battling government red tape to try to rescue stranded victims?

Turns out it wasn't actually, you know, true.

In the last few days, first Daily Kos, and then TPMmuckraker, raised serious questions about the story, based in part on the fact that no news reports we could find place Jindal in the affected area at the specific time at issue.

Jindal had described being in the office of Sheriff Harry Lee "during Katrina," and hearing him yelling into the phone at a government bureaucrat who was refusing to let him send volunteer boats out to rescue stranded storm victims, because they didn't have the necessary permits. Jindal said he told Lee, "that's ridiculous," prompting Lee to tell the bureaucrat that the rescue effort would go ahead and he or she could arrest both Lee and Jindal.

But now, a Jindal spokeswoman has admitted to Politico that in reality, Jindal overheard Lee talking about the episode to someone else by phone "days later." The spokeswoman said she thought Lee, who died in 2007, was being interviewed about the incident at the time.
So the take-away story from his speech, the prime example of his message in rebuttal to President Obama's speech, was all a lie. He "overheard" it. He was nowhere near New Orleans. He tells this story to show us that "see? Government doesn't help anyone!" What he really told us what that Republicans lie, all the time, every time. There's your take-away.

Michele Bachmann Is A Stupid Bitch (Part 1,974 of a continuing series)

Talking Points Memo reports that Michelle Bachmann has now added Ebonics to her repertoire:
Michael Steele sure has an interesting idea for how to rebrand the Republican Party: Loudly announcing at CPAC that they messed up, and pledging to do better now.

"Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad," said Steele. "But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point."

[...]And check out this latest development in Steele's campaign to create a hip-hop image for the GOP. Michele Bachmann praised Steele's speech: "Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man."
Ta-Nehisi Coates has already declared war; speaking as an African-American resident of Minnesota, all I can say is, she's not my congresscritter!--I'm represented by Keith Ellison (thank GAWD!).

Can't somebody put her, Norm Coleman, and Ann Coulter all on the same rocket to nowhere? Please?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In the Lead for this Year's "Waste of Skin" Award--ANN COULTER!

The Coultergeist does it again! Not content to disparage, mock, and lie about President Obama, in her latest column Ann Coulter even turns her nastiness on Bobby Jindal:
Even Gov. Bobby Jindal, whom I suppose I should note was the first Indian-American to give the Republican response to a president's speech, began with an encomium to the first black president. (Wasn't Bobby great in "Slumdog Millionaire"?)
Jindal is one of her own, and she's this racist and nasty? What a sorry piece of work she is!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

WHAT Mag-Lev Train to Vegas?

I found the map, below, thanks to Rachel Maddow's show. It shows the proposed corridors for the high-speed rail program that President Obama mentioned last night, the program that has been funded with $8 billion in the stimulus package, and seems to be a favorite target of the Repugs. Take a look, and see if you can find any line going from "Disneyland to the Strip," because I sure as hell can't:

Specifics: Greg Palast On Why Bobby Jindal's Speech Sucked

Greg Palast, as always, knows the score:
[...] following Barack Obama's budget presentation to Congress, effectively the president's first State of the Union Address, the Republicans chose to give their party's response, the governor of the state that wanted to leave the Union, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal.

Jindal told us that Barack Obama is a terrible President who passed a stimulus bill "larded with wasteful spending." Where's the lard? All week, Jindal has been screeching that Obama wants to require states like Louisiana to extend unemployment insurance to - get this - the unemployed! (Technically, the federal government would pay 100% of the cost of reforming Louisiana's and Mississippi's Scrooge-sized benefit requirements.)

Jindal, and some other Republican governors, notably Haley Barbour of Mississippi, are actually turning down millions in federal funds for their own state's unemployed out of fear that, four years from now, they may have to maintain full unemployment insurance like the rest of America.

Barbour's excuse, parroted by Jindal, is that the Obama payments to the unemployed of their states would mean, when the economy returns to expansion, that their state would have to increase unemployment insurance taxes and payments to the US average, scaring away new employers. "I mean, we want more jobs," says Barbour. Um, this is the Governor of MISSISSIPPI talking. Exactly what new "jobs" is he talking about? Is Microsoft is based in Gulfport? Is Genentech opening its new headquarters in Moss Point?

As an economist, I can tell you that the only industry Mississippi leads in is deep-fried chicken-dog manufacturing. I will admit that Louisiana and Mississippi can boast of growing employment at several casinos and cathouses spilling across what the locals charmingly call the "Coon-ass Riviera." Jindal's Louisiana is, after all, the state that solved its unemployment problem by sending its unemployed to Texas in FEMA trailers.

And it's true that Jindal's and Barbour's states do lead the nation in a few indicators. Like poverty: Mississippi has America's highest poverty rate. Louisiana is third worst in America.

And how about their commitment to education? Louisiana ranks 5th and Mississippi 2nd worst in school kids' math scores. As Randy Newman notes about the gulf states' education policies, "good ol' boys... from LSU, went in dumb, come out dumb, too."

Jindal himself is a product of a more advanced culture: His parents are Democrats. The Jindals are Hindus who come from the Punjab in India, a state known for its welfare safety net. Jindal, turning away from the successful example of his parents' politics and culture, has gone native, becoming a born-again Christian Republican who doesn't accept Darwinian evolution nor Keynesian economics. (I hear he may complete his redneck makeover next week by marrying his cousin at a tractor pull.)

For over a century, Louisiana and Mississippi have been trying to attract employers by changing their economy from one based on involuntary servitude to one based on voluntary servitude, selling their citizens to the lowest bidder. The results are blindingly visible: Mississippi and Louisiana, under the Barbour/Jindal Republican regime, maintain the lowest per-capita incomes in the nation (50th and 46th respectively). Mississippi and Louisiana infant mortality rates (1st and 3rd in deaths in the USA) would shame Costa Rica.

I wondered what the hell were they thinking, sending Jindal out there with a pre-prepared speech? What possessed the Repugs to make this mistake again, as they did several times during the general election, sending out their guy with a speech that bore only the faintest bit of relevance or connection to the President's prior speech? Maybe it's because they don't have anyone who can think on their feet the way the President can, or who's not associated with this shitstorm of troubles (i.e., the Congressional Republicans). So they ended up putting Jindal before the nation immediately after President Obama's speech, thereby making him "Gov. Buzzkill," as Keith Olberman called him.

Jindal, to be charitable, lacks President Obama's oratorical gifts. He was stiff, strident; he talked to the audience as if they were children, a marked contrast to Obama's ability to talk to Americans like adults. And his accent! As a friend put it, it sounded southern, with a bit of masala in the background. To be blunt, I thought Jindal sounded like an audience member at a Larry the Cable Guy show. Rachel Maddow nearly fell out of her chair on MSNBC after listening to his rebuttal speech! And, as Jeff Rosenberg put it, "if Bobby Jindal is the best the Republicans have, then they’re going to be out of power for a very long time."

But the specifics of Jindal's speech revealed the same old Republican way of distorted thinking: "government is the problem, tax cuts are the answer to everything, we can't trust the government," yadda yadda yadda. How 1980s of them. As the governor of a state that leads the nation in poverty, ignorance, infant mortality, federal aid to state and local governments per capita, and pollution, Jindal was a poor choice to give the Republican rebuttal to begin with. Add in Jindal's claims that he'll reject part of the stimulus, his membership in the wingnut branch of the Repugs, and you have a recipe for hypocrisy and disaster, as we saw last night. Hey, dude: if anyplace needs the help of the federal government, it's your state! Reagan is dead. And so is his so-called "revolution." Welcome to the mess you and your fellow Republicans made, Gov. Jindal, and welcome to the 21st Century.


Thanks also to the Rude Pundit.

Bobby Jindal's Rebuttal To President Obama's Speech

Two words: it sucked.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Not-State of the Union State of the Union Speech

Tonight, President Obama made the most masterful address of its kind that I've heard in a over forty years of studying politics. The President's quasi-official State of the Union speech (technically not official because the SOTU is mandated by the Constitution to occur in January, but an incoming president always makes a speech like tonight's) was powerful, thoughtful, and inspirational. The transcript of his speech and the details of his proposals you can and probably have already read elsewhere, and I won't go into it tonight. What I want to say, though, is how President Obama's address made me feel.

Obama talks to Americans like adults, intelligently and reasonably, and that's a tremendous relief after eight years of pious, inarticulate crap and mendacious evil from "the Decider," his master, and his minions. When I see this intelligent, highly educated and articulate African-American man address Congress as the Commander-in-Chief, it gives me a feeling of pride, honor, and accomplishment. And I confess to still getting a bit teary-eyed when I heard the Sergeant at Arms of the House announce "the President of the United States!", and this confident, elegant (to use Sean Penn's phrase) man walks into the room.

President Obama asks us to better ourselves, to better our country, and to remember the challenges in the past that Americans have overcome. I grew up in the shadows of Dallas, Memphis, and Khe Sahn. I came of age during Watergate. I've watched bad actors, bad boys, and an outright idiot inhabit the Oval Office. Not since JFK have I really felt patriotic, that deep down pride in one's nation, nor have I been able to speak of America with anything except a "yeah, but..." phraseology since I was a teenager. Many people of my generation, both black and white, knew exactly what Michelle Obama was talking about last year when she said that for the first time, she was proud of her country. Anyone with a brain and an awareness of what's happening in the world knew what she was talking about.

President Obama speaks to our better angels, our sense of compassion, community and purpose, our awareness of our shared responsibilities to each other. He's applying intelligence and empathy, with a sense of history and moral outrage, to our many and varied problems. They are numerous, those problems, afflicting both our nation and our planet. The wounds are deep and slow to heal. But for the first time in a long time, I have both pride and hope in and for my country. I'm beginning to understand what my parents were talking about when they spoke of FDR. I think that we do have a chance. And I know that Barack Obama was the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Fighting Mayor

I love watching progressives defy the wingnut commentators on tv, refusing to be cowed by their psycho-aggressive "interviewing" tactics, fighting back with the facts, and giving them some of their own back. Watch Mayor Virg Bernero of Lansing, MI show how it's done, as he opens a can of whoop-ass on Faux News talking head Greg Jarrett. Go get 'em, Mr. Mayor!


video

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Arrogance and Stupidity

"Ahh, arrogance and stupidity all in one package. How efficient of you!"

Watching the Republican governors bluster, preen, and posture this week reminded me of the above quote from one of my favorite TV shows, Babylon 5. Hayley Barbour of Mississippi won't take part of the stimulus, specifically the money for expanding unemployment insurance? What, Trent Lott's house has been rebuilt, so no one else in the whole benighted state needs help?? South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford says that we're “digging yet another hole for ourselves,” and that "he may not accept all of the $8 billion in stimulus money designated for his state." Huh? Business is booming in South Carolina, or does he just think that the Repug base will just eat up his insensitivity, while they feed their children clay sandwiches? And Bobby Jindal, the Great Brown Hope of the GOP, doesn't think that the best way to help the economy "is for the government to tax and borrow more money." Where the hell was he when Bush put the Iraq war on the nation's ChinaCharge account, borrowing trillions from the Chinese so W's administration could hide the real costs of the war from the American public?!

Our local Scrooge, Tim Pawlenty,has a problem with "increasing taxes in the middle of a deep, deep recession.” On the top 1%. In the face of a real-world unemployment rate of 13.9%. But let's cut spending by dropping from 84,000 people from state-subsidized health care, decreasing money for public transportation, and get that new stadium for the Vikings done with public money! And of course, the most transparent and hypocritical one of them all, Sarah Palin, the so-called "energy expert," first backed out of an energy conference at the National Governors Association, claiming prior obligations. Then, she criticized the recovery plan, saying through a PR flack that "You're going to have the Chinese and other foreign governments buying up more U.S. debt." Figured that out all by yourself, did you? And this is different from the Bush years, how?? Of course, she also lobbied to get some of that stimulus money, but as we've learned, hypocrisy is the name of the game with Caribou Barbie.

Now, other, saner Republican governors like Arnold Schwarznegger and Charlie Crist support the plan, or at least welcome the effort. So why doe these four oppose it so vociferously? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that all of them plan to run for president in 2012. Certainly they aren't worried about reelection!

Pearson Cross, a political science professor at the University of Louisiana, can see the truth:
“These are people jockeying for the next round of president, vice president and cabinet for Republican administrations…. [T]hey’ve understood the symbolic importance of saying no to what appears to be expanding federal government and deficits and social programs that their constituents, frankly, wouldn’t necessarily care for...[...}...It’s a bit disingenuous to say, ‘Well, we may not take it,’ when in fact we need it desperately."
Considering that the Repugs only won the voters from their base in 2008, massively losing with Democrats and Independents on both the national and state levels, it seems that once again their basic math skills are in question. Do they understand that most people support and need this plan? Or are they so wedded to a discredited political philosophy that they don't understand that their pandering won't lead to a winning majority for themselves in their state houses or in their own reelections?

And if their math skills are so poor, then why listen to their opinions about the $787 billion economic recovery plan? They don't have enough fingers & toes together to count that high!

Friday, February 20, 2009

"You Guys Know It Doesn't Work With Just Any Black Guy, Right?"

SNL's Seth Meyers' comment during his broadcast on January 31st now sounds prophetic. The Repugs just don't get it. Michael Steele, what the hell are you talking about, with your ideas of bringing an "'off the hook' public relations offensive...by applying the party's principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings”? Did you get a good look at your party? Did you see all those old white guys in cowboy hats here at the Excel Center last fall? Are you so dazzled by being the newest spook sitting at the door that you forgot who you worked for? The Republican party is brain-dead, bereft of new ideas, out of touch with the day-to-day lives of most Americans, and you think that rebranding yourselves will win you votes?

Who the fuck do you think you're kidding?

And the rest of the Repugs, they're as clueless and shameless as they come. We've got now, what, a half-dozen GOP members of Congress who voted against the stimulus bill, but now are bragging to their constituents that they brought home the bacon for them? The Party of No transformed into the Party of "Gimme!"

The Repugs just don't get it. Having one of the thirty-six black Republicans as their national chairman doesn't make them relevant, and an "off the hook" PR assault won't change the fact that their beliefs and policies are what got us into this mess in the first place, and it takes more than a spook sitting by the door to make us believe that the Repugs have changed.

Really, how stupid do they think we are?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Michele Bachmann, The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Minnesota's own batshit crazy congresscritter, Michele Bachmann, demonstrated signs of her fast-deteriorating mental condition yesterday on local radio station KLTK. Bachmann, infamous for her now-legendary rant on Hardball last fall, wherein she called for a media investigation of President Barack Obama and several members of Congress for their "anti-American views", totally lost her mind on Chris Baker's show, claiming, amongst other things, that:
* ACORN is "under federal indictment for voter fraud," but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN "$5 billion." (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn't mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)

* many members of Congress have "a real aversion to capitalism."

* the stimulus bill includes a measure to create a "rationing board" for health care, and after the bill becomes law, "your doctor will no longer be able to make your healthcare decisions with you."

* the recovery package is part of a Democratic conspiracy to "direct" funding away from Republican districts, so Democratic districts can "suck up" all federal funds. Bachmann doesn't think this will work because, as she put it, "We're running out of rich people in this country."

* the "Community-Organizer-in-Chief" is also orchestrating a conspiracy involving the Census Bureau, which the president will use to redraw congressional lines to keep Democrats in power for up to "40 years." When the host said he was confused, noting that congressional district lines are drawn at the state level, Bachmann said Obama's non-existent plan is an "anti-constitutional move."

Like many Republicans, Bachmann has gone beyond factual reporting and is now pulling these ideas directly out of her ass. I'm beginning to think that the Republican caucus in Washington, and indeed, around the country, consists of pod people, mindless aliens with no connection to life as we know it on planet Earth. The citizens of MN-06 are right to be ashamed of their so-called representative in Congress. Indeed, the humor generated by Bachmann's delusions is exceeded only by the embarrassment she causes for the state of Minnesota. She needs to be recalled.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Aerosmith Tells Eric Cantor To Fuck Off

I guess they're pissed about wingnuts using their song. Maybe the House Repugs should try Lawrence Welk next time?

Railroaded, Or Just Plain Lying?

Seems that Michigan Rep. Candice S. Miller (R-Mich.) was lying through her teeth when she said that the economic recovery plan had "earmarked $8 billion for a rail system from Las Vegas to Los Angeles." Whatta surprise!

Stupid Elephant, Whining Is For Kids!

MSNBC's Contessa Brewer gets it:




"The problem is, and I had a Republican strategist on with me earlier today, he's like, 'Well, we didn't get invited into the Committee meetings, we got shut out, we didn't have a chance to read the bill, we want to vote on a bill that we've actually read.' Do you think at this point, I mean, the Republicans are just misinterpreting bipartisanship? Anybody who's been at a meeting knows, you go into a meeting, everybody can sit around and brainstorm and share ideas, but just because you offer up ideas doesn't mean that yours get picked."

Duhhhh.....Hey, Repugs--how does 25 seats in the Senate sound? Just about right for 2010? Keep it up!


Tip o' the hat to BarbinMD at DailyKos

Monday, February 16, 2009

Some Of Us Aren't Stupid

I've been watching President Obama get his economic recovery bill more or less exactly as he asked for, while my tv has been full of Republicans wooing the talking heads for the last few weeks, complaining about the lack of "bipartisanship" and now crowing about how they made a stand. It's all been getting on my nerves. What do they think "bipartisanship" is, anyway? Just because you get a seat at the table, it doesn't mean that anyone has to actually accept any of your lousy ideas!

Then today, a friend directed me to Frank Rich's column in today's Times:
Just as in the presidential campaign, Obama has once again outwitted the punditocracy and the opposition. The same crowd that said he was a wimpy hope-monger who could never beat Hillary or get white votes was played for fools again.
Yeah, I thought so, too. I learned during the campaign to not doubt Obama, and he came through again, getting a stimulus package about when he wanted it, with about the amount of money he wanted. The Republicans look like the party of "No!", and the average American is starting to see through their rhetoric ever more clearly. So what the hell are the Repugs celebrating about?

Beats the hell outta me. They're becoming more and more irrelevant to the needs and dreams of average Americans, and need I remind you that even using Rent-A-Negro©, last summer's Repug convention could only muster 36 black faces? They're looking less and less like the country and more like a country club, as America becomes a diverse nation.

As the GOP blusters and whines, are they making any progress towards a compelling, alternate vision for America? I don't see any signs of it. What I do see is a scared, out of touch group of old white men, afraid of change and bemoaning their loss of power. Too bad they're not smart enough to figure out just exactly why they're the minority party now.

I watched to Bill Maher last night on Larry King, and he had a cogent remark about the GOP: "They looked to the future and they found radio." The Repugs are so far removed from the mainstream that they're already comparing their situation to 1994, when they took over Congress. Eric Cantor thinks he's Newt Gingrich--ohh, puh-leese! But I hope they keep drinking their own kool-aid into the midterm elections in 2010. It'll be a slaughter.

And btw, what in hell was a shill from townhall.com doing on MSNBC this morning? I nearly lost my breakfast!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Are We Stimulated Yet?

I've been busy doing things that make me money (i.e., drumming up new business, making proposals to prospective clients, fixing computers), rather than things that I enjoy but don't make me a cent (e.g., blogging), so I've been quiet for a few days here. That doesn't mean, however, that I've neither been watching the news nor lack an opinion on it. *LOL*

We've got a stimulus package! Bigger than the House version, and almost exactly what President Obama asked for. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi became the Matt Yglesias' hero of the week and the staunchest defender of America's public education system, by preserving school renovation funding.

UPDATE:
The stimulus bill passed in the House, with no Republican support whatsoever. Accompanied with lies of how they were "frozen out" by the Democrats. Look, idiots, listening to your ideas isn't the same as enacting them, and if you were in the room when the compromise was decided, then you weren't "frozen out". Good G-d, how these Repugs lie. I can't stand these rightwing bastards!

I'm beginning to agree with Paul Krugman that the bill isn't enough, but at this point, something is better than nothing. Another economic package will certainly be needed before Labor Day, I'm guessing. Why the Obama Administration made "bipartisanship" more important than an effective relief plan is beyond me. And what did President Obama get for his efforts?--The Repubs spit in his face! What with Judd Gregg suddenly realizing that he was a wingnut hypocrite "fiscal conservative" and backing out of the Commerce secretary job that he lobbied for, with the contempt shown by House Republicans, and with the lies told by Congressional Rethugs about the stimulus in particular, and the economic picture in general ("FDR caused the Great Depression" and suchlike bullshit), Obama would be well advised to abandon any further attempts at bipartisanship. As Rachel Maddow said, "they're just not into you, Mr. President."

Still, as I learned during the general election, Obama is a master strategist. More than once, I doubted an Obama decision during the campaign, only to be proven wrong, to my surprise and delight. The Republicans have been driving the media message for the last few weeks, but they also now look like "the Party of No" (thanks again, Rachel!). As recent polls show, 59% of Americans now support the stimulus, up seven points from last week. Obama needs to push harder in the media for agenda, and his recent town halls are a much-needed step in the right direction.

So, as much as it pains me, I'll continue to give Obama credit for his attempts at bipartisanship, and give him time to develop his message and his plans.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Thank God For a SMART President!

Just finished watching President Obama's news conference, and a few talking heads afterwards. I cannot properly express my joy at hearing a thoughtful, informed, and intelligent man speak to me as my president. The very idea that we again have a president who can answer questions in more than soundbites (indeed, one answer was clocked at over seven minutes long!) gives me hope for the future.

And, oh yeah: Michael Steele is still an idiot.

Screw Bipartisanship, I Want To Save The Economy!

Paul Krugman writes:
What do you call someone who eliminates hundreds of thousands of American jobs, deprives millions of adequate health care and nutrition, undermines schools, but offers a $15,000 bonus to affluent people who flip their houses?

A proud centrist. For that is what the senators who ended up calling the tune on the stimulus bill just accomplished.

Even if the original Obama plan — around $800 billion in stimulus, with a substantial fraction of that total given over to ineffective tax cuts — had been enacted, it wouldn’t have been enough to fill the looming hole in the U.S. economy, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will amount to $2.9 trillion over the next three years.

This is bipartisanship? It feels like being screwed to me. What good is getting the other side to agree, when the other side can't tell it's ass from a hole in the ground? What good is "centrism" when it still leaves you in that handbasket, heading straight for hell? And what do we need bipartisanship for, anyway? Didn't we win the election?

The Repugs today bragged that they patterned their resistance to the economic stimulus bill on the insurgency tactics of the Taliban, they've acknowledged in the last few weeks that they've been taking their marching orders from that fat fool Rush Limbaugh, and their adherence to the failed and discredited theory that tax cuts and supply-side economics can make a healthy economy, should be enough for any reasonable person to conclude that these jokers are in it only for themselves.

President Obama is speaking live in a few minutes. I think it's time for him to say again, as he did in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, "ENOUGH!" Harry Reid should grow a pair, and dare the Republicans to filibuster a new bill, one that restores the educational aid and support for the states. It's time to call these Repug obstructionists out for what they are: assholes.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mika's A Clueless Idiot, But Then Again, So Is Joe Scarborough

I don't watch MSNBC's Morning Joe, the sole program on their schedule that I can't stand. It's the channel's defense against being called "the Obama Network", and co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski are typical closet wingnuts: they sound sensible, until you actually listen to what they're saying. Then your brain starts burning from all the rightwing nonsense. They provide "balance", though, I guess. But until Faux News gives Keith Olbermann airtime, I'll gladly keep missing their show.

This morning the hapless pair, with the assistance of wingnut supreme Pat Buchanan, tried to take on Nobel laureate Paul Krugman about the economic stimulus plan. Mazel tov! It's a long video, but worth watching. Krugman begins taking them to school at 4:30.

Pennies

The Rude Pundit asks:
How about just a minute or two of perspective?
Amount to bailout AIG - at least $85 billion
Amount to bailout Citibank - at least $45 billion
Amount to bailout Bank of America - at least $45 billion, with guarantees on $118 billion in loans
Amount the Bush administration overpaid for bailed-out bank assets - $78 billion

Proposed cuts to President Obama's economic stimulus bill (currently being debated by 20 "centrist" senators):
$1.1 billion to Head Start
$24.8 billion to states for budget shortfalls in education programs
$15 billion to states for additional education funding
$2 billion to Child Care Development Block Grants
$150 million to funding for programs in the Violence Against Women Act

Oh, and, hell, let's just throw this in:
Amount of just two years of George W. Bush's tax cuts: roughly $500 billion (adjusting for interest). Two-thirds of that came from tax cuts on the top 20% of wage earners.
(Note: this leaves out the cost of operations in Iraq because, well, does it need to be said?)

Education funding is seed money for better paying jobs and a larger tax base. Assistance for families to help with child care has a direct impact on the ability of people to work. And, really, even talking about cutting $150 million in a bill like this is like saying, "If I stop putting nickels in the gumball machine, I'll be able to buy that car."
"Nickels in the gumball machine." That's what we're talking about here. Besides the fact that education, the welfare of children, help for working families, and preventing violence against women aren't just laudatory goals, but vital to the smooth functioning, ethics, self-image, and future of any human society, besides the fact that any so-called "Christian"--as these Republican assholes claim to be-- has an obligation to help those less fortunate (and so does any other human being, at least in my book), besides the fact that that these are programs that will help stimulate the economy, which is what this bill is all about...it's not that damn much money, especially compared to the sinkhole that is Iraq.

What this is really about is, as the Rude Pundit correctly identifies, is class warfare. The evidence is clear: the Republican party is the tool of the wealthy, the greedy, and the selfish. The are ideologically opposed to helping people who make less than $250,000 a year. They are politically committed to widening the gap between rich and poor. In a classic Pavlovian response to this any every fiscal problem, they consistently offer tax cuts, tax cuts which help the wealthy, and offer nothing or less than nothing--middle-class tax increases in their latest scheme, for example--for average working Americans. The Republican party looks at the economic recovery bill not as a mean to get more Americans back to work, but as a political ploy by the Democrats to strengthen and widen the voters loyalty to their party, and the party's way to create a "permanent" Democratic majority in Congress. In other words, they're still robbing the poor to give to the rich, still obstructing economic, social, and political progress in this country, and still playing partisan games with America's future.

The Repugs complain about "wasteful spending." I submit that the only wasteful spending I can find is their paychecks. Cut them off at the knees.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lies, Damned Lies, and Republicans

The last two days have seen a torrent of bullshit coming from the Repugs. First, "Dick" Cheney tries to ring that old "fear, fear, fear!" bell at us, saying that if we stop torturing people, "a 9/11-type event where the terrorists are armed with something much more dangerous than an airline ticket and a box cutter – a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind" will happen. And we'll all DIE! And monkeys will fly out of his ass. Utter nonsense, that--the terrorist threat, that is; the monkeys, I'm not so sure about. But then, as if that wasn't enough to send my bullshit detector into overload, then the Senate Republicans start lying about the economic recovery bill, stalling passage of this vital legislation.

Frankly, I've had it with the Repubs. Fuck 'em all. If they can't see that the same old, tired ideas of tax cuts and nothing else doesn't work, hasn't worked, and is what got us into the mess in the first place, then they need to go. It's time for the Democrats to fight for every bill, every piece of legislation coming from the Obama administration, and to hell with the minority Repugs. They want to filibuster in the Senate? OK, then Harry Reid should tell them "Go ahead! And bring a catheter. I dare ya!" The House Republicans want to pretend to cooperate, then give us not one vote in support? Great!--then Nancy Pelosi should tell them to kindly fuck off, on anything that they propose! They want to lie about the details of this or other bills? Fine, then President Obama should expose their lies to the nation from the bully pulpit. It's time to drive the Rethugs into the proverbial sea, letting them go the way of the Whigs and the Know-Nothings.

President Obama finally got on message today, blasting the opposition for their devotion to the failed ideas of the past. Speaking at at Democratic retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia today, Obama had this to say:
Look, I value the constructive criticism and healthy debate that is a foundation of American democracy. I don’t think any of us have cornered the market on wisdom, or that good ideas are the province of any party. The American people know that our challenges are great. They’re not expecting Democratic solutions or Republican solutions – they want American solutions. And I have said that to those who have criticized the plan.

But what I have also said is – don’t come to table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped create this crisis.

We’re not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that in eight short years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin. We can’t embrace the losing formula that offers more tax cuts as the only answer to every problem we face, while ignoring critical challenges like our addiction to foreign oil, the soaring cost of health care, failing schools and crumbling bridges, roads and levees. I don’t care whether you’re driving a hybrid or an SUV – if you’re headed for a cliff, you have to change direction.
Yes! It's time for a change, time to turn away from the idiocy and greed that got us into this mess, and if the Repubs don't want to wise up, then to hell with them.

President Obama, it's seemed to me, has the classic problem that most highly-intelligent people have: realizing that the great majority of humans are just as fucking stupid as they seem to be. He really wanted a bipartisan effort on this economic recovery, and what did he get for it?--a slap in the face from House Republicans, lies about his efforts on the floor of the Senate, lies on Faux News about his plan, and stonewalling opposition from the Rethugs, in general. But today, he seemed to finally get it: fuck 'em. If they won't stop posturing, lying, and playing political games, then go directly to the people, go to his party, and run right over their lying asses. The Repugs aren't smart enough to get it. They aren't smart enough to see that their ideas haven't worked (and never did). They aren't smart enough to understand that something has to be done now, not later.

So fuck 'em. Give 'em hell, Mr. President! And don't stop until you get everything done that you need to do.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Greg Palast: "Obama is a two-faced liar. Aw-RIGHT! "--and a Call to Action

The always-enlightening Greg Palast writes:
Republicans are right. President Barack Obama treated them like dirt, didn't give a damn what they thought about his stimulus package, loaded it with a bunch of programs that will last for years and will never leave the budget, is giving away money disguised as "tax refunds," and is sneaking in huge changes in policy, from schools to health care, using the pretext of an economic emergency.

Way to go, Mr. O! Mr. Down-and-Dirty Chicago pol. Street-fightin' man. Covering over his break-you-face power play with a "we're all post-partisan friends" BS.

And it's about time.

Frankly, I was worried about this guy. Obama's appointing Clinton-droids to the Cabinet, bloated incompetents like Larry Summers as "Economics Czar," made me fear for my country, that we'd gotten another Democrat who wished he were a Republican.

Then came Obama's money bomb. The House bill included $125 billion for schools (TRIPLING federal spending on education - yes!), expanding insurance coverage to the unemployed, making the most progressive change in the tax code in four decades by creating a $500 credit against social security payroll deductions, and so on.

It's as if Obama dug up Ronald Reagan's carcass and put a stake through The Gipper's anti-government heart. Aw-RIGHT!
Finally we have a president who believes that government can be a positive force in people's lives, a president who believes that the transformative powers of government can and should be used to help its citizens, a president who's "a Democrat from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party," as Paul Wellstone used to say. The Repugs say that the Democrats won't listen to their ideas; i.e., the Democrats won't lie down and play dead while the Republicans continue to shit in our faces. Awwww, poor babies! Go choke on your silver spoons.

We have majorities in both chambers, but with the wingnuts in the House telling President Obama to step off, and the wingnuts in the Senate just waiting to hang up the important legislation for the economic recovery, we all need to call our senators and remind them that this plan needs to pass. Over at the Campaign for America's Future, Bernie Horn is calling on all good progressives to call their Senators and remind them that they support President Obama's economic recovery plan:
The word on the street here in Washington is that the right is killing us with phone calls to Congress on the Obama economic recovery plan. One congressperson said the calls are running 100 to 1 against it.

The legislation is now on the Senate floor. If senators perceive that Americans side with Obama in this fight—which several polls say they are—that will strengthen the power of progressives in the debate and we’ll get a good bill. If, on the other hand, senators are only feeling the heat from conservatives, then our advocates will be weakened and we’ll get a lousy bill. That’s just the way things go on Capitol Hill.

Those who worked for the election of Barack Obama and are currently sitting on the sidelines waiting to see how his economic recovery bill turns out—it’s time to stop waiting. Stand up and fight!

That means pick up the telephone and call 202-224-3121 (or use the toll-free service at 866-544-7573). Ask the Capitol operator to transfer you to one of your state’s U.S. senators. When you’re connected, say you’re calling to urge your senator to “support the Obama economic recovery plan and oppose all conservative amendments.” Call back and repeat for your other senator. Then contact everyone you know and urge them to do the same.
To all my readers outside Minnesota, get on the phone and call!

Here in Minnesota, however, we only have one senator at the moment (thanks to that whining snake-in-the-grass Norm Coleman, may a rabid wolverine shit on his new & unpaid-for kitchen floor): Amy Klobuchar, who already supports the Obama plan; but she needs to hear from us, too. The wingnuts are already calling her, between making multiple posts in the Star Tribune comments section and changing their pajama bottoms, so we need to let her hear from the side of the angels. Amy's number in D.C. is 202-224-3244, or toll-free 888-224-9043; her local office's number is 612-727-5220. Let her know that the people of Minnesota support the Obama plan!

Remember what's at stake here. Bernie Horn, again, breaks it down for us:
* $142 billion for a middle-class tax cut
* $47 billion to extend unemployment benefits
* $16 billion to expand food stamps
* $17 billion in one-time payments to low-income Americans
* $26 billion to expand access to health care
* $87 billion to help states pay for Medicaid
* $24 billion to modernized health information technology
* $46 billion to fix bridges and roads
* $80 billion to improve public education
* $19 billion for school construction
* $14 billion to make college more affordable
* $32 billion for clean energy

There's much more. All together, the Obama plan will create or save 3 to 4 million jobs and keep our nation’s economy from sliding into a lengthy and severe recession.
President Obama needs our support. Let's hit those phones, people!

Where's Joe Pesci When You Need Him?

Been reading the latest news on the MN Senate election trial:
The Coleman team appears to be laying out a continued strategy of casting doubt on the legitimacy of the Minnesota election result by pointing to a fundamental underlying idea of this dispute: The margin of error is simply too big in a race this close.

"Is there some point at which the margin of error is just too wide compared to the difference in votes to determine who truly won?" Coleman lawyer John Rock asked Ramsey County (St. Paul) elections director Joe Mansky. Mansky replied that there is absolutely such a point, with accuracy topping out at over 99.99%.

Nate Silver thinks that Coleman is headed that way, too. This is ridiculous! Norm, it's time to go. Give it up. You're making an ass of yourself.