Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The joy of se...

Secession:

The events include a “secession ball” in the former slave port of Charleston (“a joyous night of music, dancing, food and drink,” says the invitation)...
One of the secessionists:
“We’re celebrating that those 170 people risked their lives and fortunes to stand for what they believed in, which is self-government,” [Jeff Antley, a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Confederate Heritage Trust,] said. “Many people in the South still believe that is a just and honorable cause. Do I believe they were right in what they did? Absolutely,” he said, noting that he spoke for himself and not any organization. “There’s no shame or regret over the action those men took.”
Self-government for white people. And this asshole can't even bring himself to regret what secession brought! He calls it a just and honorable cause! To keep other humans in bondage...

For some reason out of thin air, these words echo:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.
Homage to treason is not treason, but no one should forget that the Confederate defenders of slavery committed high treason and brought incredible pain and suffering on their nation, black and white.

Update (12/2): Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes the Confederates to the neo-Confederates.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Right-wing lies

You can't trust conservatives. You can't trust their good faith. You can't trust their motives. You certainly can't trust their facts.

Rush Limbaugh tells his followers that half of Americans pay no federal taxes at all:

The bottom 50% is paying a tiny bit of the taxes, so you can't give them much of a tax cut by definition. Yet these are the people to whom the Democrats claim to want to give tax cuts. Remember this the next time you hear the "tax cuts for the rich" business. Understand that the so-called rich are about the only ones paying taxes anymore.
His dittoheads repeat this lie everywhere. Anytime taxation comes up, it's poor little rich boys with their terrible burdens.

Here's the truth: Everyone pays federal payroll taxes. Total taxation - federal, state, and local - is somewhat progressive, but all income levels pay around 20% of their income in taxes.


Conservatives lie about this - intentionally ignoring all taxes besides income taxes - because they only want to cut progressive taxes. Because their goal is to help the wealthy, nothing else.

Everyone else at Fox

John Bolton is thinking about running for President. Not of his condo association. Not of the Anti-North Korea Association. No, of the United States!

I mean, shit, why doesn't he just announce to the world, "I'm so vain, self-centered, and totally ignorant of politics and human relations that I'm willing to say out loud my furiously egotistical fantasy."

Sotto voce: But everyone else at Fox is running. And I'm smarter than all of them.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Twitterverse

Click image for full Garry Trudeau/Doonesbury cartoon.

Coal in the stocking

Click image for full MStreeter/Savannah Morning News cartoon.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just say no

Click image for full Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal cartoon.

Somewhere a king is weeping

Click image for full Clay Bennett/Chattanooga Times Free Press cartoon.

Fooled you twice, America

Click image for full Tim Eagan/Press Democrat cartoon.

Put money in the purse

Middlesex County Sheriff Jimmy DiPaola (D-double dip) dead by his own hand! I've met him, and he was the image of a glad-handing old pol. I didn't trust him.

He had recently justified my mistrust by trying to double dip and collect both a pension and his salary from the same office. Although technically legal, this was clearly wrong and an intolerable raid on the public treasury.

DiPaola, when caught by the Boston Globe, found his conscience and announced his retirement. But he was also under investigation by the Ethics Commission, and his suicide, absent some mental illness nowhere yet in evidence, amounts to a guilty plea.

While killing himself is not at all exculpatory, it does say that at least he's not the sociopath that Tom DeLay is. At the very least, his vanity in the face of prospective conviction, complete disgrace, and prison made life no longer livable.

Many years ago, a cousin of mine shot himself to death after yet another screw-up. I always thought that he could not stand to make one more promise to clean up, a promise he himself perhaps could no longer still believe. Suicide as an act of both vanity and conscience seemed to be his only remaining manly choice.

It's likely that not only vanity but also DiPaola's conscience did in fact prick him in a stinging way that he could not tolerate. His death may not matter to the public, but it's important to remember that it is a tragedy for people who loved him.

Those of us left behind don't agree with their choice, no matter its motivation.

Pointless point

If Kate Mara would run for office, could we stop seeing so much of Caribou Barbie? Or would Mara have to be equally ditzy?

Yeah, I'm aware that this little theme of mine is pointless.

Click image for ShareAlike licensing details, which also apply to this post.

Update: Link to imdb.com for those who missed her in "We are Marshall".

Where Tom DeLay is going

The likelihood of convicted felon Tom DeLay ever spending even one night in the big house is, I fear, low. It's not that I don't fervently wish for him to lose his undeserved freedom and multi-thousand-dollar suits in favor of an orange coverall with "PRISONER" stencilled across both front and back.

DeLay is one of those comic book villains I'd most like to see imprisoned. He's a political good fella who mistakes his self-righteousness for actual righteousness.

DeLay will appeal. He claims to have spent $8 million on his defense, but you can be sure that not a cent of it came out of his own pocket. He will take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. And the conservative majority is primed to declare Texas's century-old prohibition on corporate contributions unconstitutional. After all, corporations are people too! What about their feelings!

At that point, the money laundering conviction is moot, and mooting it makes the conspiracy conviction moot, too.

On the steps of the Supreme Court, in front of the door that's no longer open to the public, DeLay will smugly announce his exoneration. He'll forever attack his prosecution as a political persecution, and the media will dutifully print his bullshit.

So, in anticipation of disappointment, let's review what DeLay did that brought upon him the force of the legal system:

  • After the 2000 federal census, Texas redistricted its Congressional seats in a way that didn't provide for as many Republican-friendly seats as DeLay wanted.
  • DeLay planned to take over the Texas lege (homage to Molly Ivins!) and re-redistrict purely for partisan Republican advantage - even though this had never been done before.
  • To do this, he raised $190,000 dollars from corporate sources.
  • But he had a problem: Texas law forbade spending this money on legislative races.
  • No problemo! Wash the money through the RNC.
  • He also had to overcome Texas Democrats' procedural attempts to prevent another bite at the redistricting apple.
  • To do this, DeLay involved federal national security agencies to track down the Democrats.
  • GOP win! A six-vote swing to the Republicans in Congress...
Tom DeLay was certain that the law did not apply to him. He still is. He never will accept the rules that constrain the rest of us. Those are for the little people.

Follies

On Fox, Karl Rove - no doubt trying to make peace between the Bushists and the teabaggers - says something kinda, sorta complimentary about Sarah Palin. She's supposedly smart to take her book tour into Iowa. Smart? It's completely basic Presidential politics, nothing wrong with it, but nothing newsworthy either.

Yet CNN reports this non-story, this piece of internal Republican politics on their sole-purpose propaganda channel. Because they looove Sarah Palin, at least her picture.

The more she whines about the attention, the more they put her every dingbat tweet out to the public. But! She's wearing leather with lots of zippers!

Psst, is there a bondage angle? CNN could merely ask the question and keep Palin in the ticker for three or four more days with the back and forth. (Palin: "I took a fashion tip from Danica Patrick, but the eastern egghead elite lamestream vegan media doesn't get NASCAR or the natural beauty of animal products.") Ooh, what a schweet dream!

This is the news coverage we deserve. Unfortunately.

Duhbya's boom

Don't you remember the incredible boom in GDP and entrepreneurship that Duhbya's tax cuts brought about?

Neither do I.

The tax cuts didn't create a huge surge of jobs either. And they didn't increase tax revenue.

More Bushist bullshit promises made and forgotten.

Yet the Republican Party continues to make exactly the same promises and the media thinks they're plausible.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Profits don't create jobs

The quarter completed at the end of September was the best quarter ever for American corporations.

American businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Commerce Department report released Tuesday. That is the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track over 60 years ago, at least in nominal or noninflation-adjusted terms.
Record profits are partly due to productivity gains and barely perceptible employment growth. In fact, the lack of new hiring is one reason for the profits. Employees are doing more with less, and the benefits are flowing upward to executives and the wealthy.

As I argued in "Investment doesn't create jobs", the reason there's hardly any hiring is that there's not enough demand for goods and services that would require and reward hiring.

If there were demand, then profits could be invested and thus help unemployment. Until there is demand, not so much.

Only the government is in a position to close the demand gap. But Republicans will not permit it. Their prescription: Suffer while your betters enjoy the fruits of your labor - if you're lucky enough to still have a job.

Electric sheep

Unless you need to be touched, choose the scanner.

"Most people are unaware about the fact that there is significant radiation exposure associated with air travel because they are well above the Earth's atmosphere," said Robert J. Barish, a radiological and health physicist in New York City. "You'd get as much radiation in a whole-body scanner as you'd get in two minutes at 30,000 feet."
Of course, if you'd never wear a bathing suit in public, you may have concerns not related to the health impact of being scanned. But then you'd probably be Amish, so that would be moot.

The steady erosion of any privacy at all - and what if anything to do about it - is another question altogether.

Pelham 123

Republicans promise they'll hold hostages in April. They're fighting total war, while Democrats still think everything is negotiable.

The fact is that one of our two great political parties has made it clear that it has no interest in making America governable, unless it’s doing the governing. And that party now controls one house of Congress, which means that the country will not, in fact, be governable without that party’s cooperation — cooperation that won’t be forthcoming.
The Senate Democrats need to find unexpired statutes of limitations and hold hearings on the Bushist abuses that compete with the House Republican kangaroo courts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let them eat cake

Republican House Labor Committee chair John Kline (R-oligarchy)...

Kline also supports extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. So in his world, $830 billion to finance tax cuts for the wealthy is fine, but $12.5 billion to extend unemployment benefits for three months is too expensive.
You could extend unemployment benefits forever at the same cost as making the plutocrats' tax cut permanent. Forever.

But that's not what liberals are asking. We want to extend benefits only so long as there's a large imbalance between available jobs and the unemployed. Now? There's record long-term unemployment not seen since before unemployment insurance existed - the Great Depression:

Investment doesn't create jobs

Republicans, conservatives, the national media, and every business sycophant in the world is telling us we need to abate taxes on investment to create jobs. They're either idiots or they're bullshitting us.

Investment doesn't create jobs. (Wha?!?! Socialist!)

Imagine you have a pile of money, credit, assets, couple of $100,000 cars. You're a member of the oligarchy, bless your vast unshared wallet. Schweet, huh?

Millions of people around you are unemployed. Well, they aren't exactly around you. You have gated communities to prevent that. Not just one gated community - it would be so unutterably boring to live in only one palatial mansion.

But you've read in the business press that one in ten people are unemployed (good news! no wage inflation! the stock market should go up!), and maybe you've even read a bit deeper into the report and learned that U6 shows more than one worker in six is not working and wants to, or not working full-time and wants to, or would want to work if there were any jobs available.

You as an oligarch believe that your taxes should be as close to zero as your lobbyists can get them. A fat subsidy, even, would be your due as a Galtian superman of industry. You sure as hell are not willing to extend unemployment benefits to the slackers, spongers, and freeloaders who haven't been able to find work (or rich parents, the way you did).

Instead, you're looking for an opportunity to put your assets into production, some investment that will produce goods or services that people will snap up like hotcakes at premium prices.

Now start some really difficult imagining: You start a factory to produce widgets that no one can afford. Because you want to give people good jobs to build things. Because you're the most generous guy in the world, who just wants to see the free market solve every resource allocation problem. And what's your personal interest if it's not the "free" market?

Huh!? You'd spend your money to create make-work jobs, but you wouldn't spend your money through taxation to extend benefits? How does that make sense?

Wait, who said anything about make-work jobs? Aren't those all in the public sector? Well, mostly, yes. The private sector doesn't do make-work jobs (except for a very few no doubt deserving scions of oligarchs). Which is the reason you don't build a make-work factory just because you can and it would be accounted as investment.

This is the problem with the theory of investment trickling down into jobs: There's no market filled with eager customers. No one - besides you and your fellow oligarchs - has any money to buy your hypothetical goods and services. Why the hell would you build a factory to make something that no one can buy? Until there's demand, there's no need for investment, and there's no reason for it.

Your answer is: Hell, no, I'm not parting with my money just to lose it.

So, like your bankers, you sit on your capital eating bon-bons, telling the help - who can't afford to argue and so nod their apparent approval - that all those lazy moochers who aren't your servants should just get off their asses and take a few risks the way you did (when you applied to Yale listing all the relatives who made you a double ne plus ultra legacy).

Demand for goods and services creates jobs. In a recession as deep as this one, where idle excess capacity is rife, investment follows demand to create businesses that then have to staff up. Until there's demand, though, you as an oligarch can ride out the economic stagnation. Only the public sector can fill the demand gap, and because of Republican and conservative Democratic opposition, it hasn't and now it can't.

So everyone but you and yours is left to suffer. And you don't give a shit.

You lucky oligarch bastard.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Accountable to no one


"When I failed as Speaker of the House, my ego was only this big. Spending as much time on Fox as I've spent since then has hugely fertilized it, and I will no longer take questions from anyone who might ask a hard one." Or something close to that...

The next penis bomber

When we fly, we have to take off our shoes because of the Shoe Bomber.

When we fly, we have to show our junk or let it be felt up by the TSA because of the penis bomber.

Memo to al Qaeda: Please don't put a charger up some moron's ass, as in Man on Fire, and send him onto a plane. (As if please ever worked...)

The terrorists sometimes get more effect from not blowing up a plane.

Update (11/24): Patrick Smith of Salon has two more examples:

The scanners are also the latest turn in what is an unwinnable arms race. First came Sept. 11 and suddenly pointy objects are contraband. Then came Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber," and TSA decreed that all passengers must remove their shoes. Next we had the London liquid bombers, and suddenly your shampoo and toothpaste are consigned to 3-ounce containers. Then came the Christmas Day underwear bomber, and as a result we're being body-scanned and groped.

Pressure of his enormous ego

Donald Trump claims a groundswell of pressure for him to throw his toupee into the ring for President. From his own massive ego or from a chorus of sycophants who work for him?

I don't care. Why does CNN? Is Trump a big stock-holder? Why would anyone care about his opinion?

Deadbeats

America's banking system is a cesspool of complete corruption.

  • Mortgage originators wrote not just a few but many fraudulent mortgages.
  • Mortgage originators knew they'd built a house of cards and continued to add to it.
  • Banks fraudulently packaged bad mortgages as securities.
  • Banks took vig off investment profits and pushed losses onto their customers.
  • Banks pushed mortgage originators to write even more bad mortgages.
  • Banks fraudulently sold securities.
  • Private rating agencies fraudulently risk-rated securities.
  • Banks illegally transferred securities, sometimes more than once.
  • Banks have failed to maintain clear chains of title.
  • Banks have foreclosed on properties they don't own or can't prove they own.
  • And on people who are current with their payments.
  • Banks have broken into houses they don't own and changed the locks.
  • Banks have created perjury factories to sign affidavits blindly or to attest to the authenticity of plainly fraudulent documents.
  • Banks have taken multiple tries to get their fraudulent lies right.
  • Banks have seen the profit potential in the foreclosure crisis they created, and they're profiting from it.
  • Courts have utterly failed to seek justice, particularly in the Republican-dominated state of Florida.
  • When banks have failed, bankers have raided their assets.
  • When banks have failed, other banks have demanded FDIC reimbursement of their losses, even though they can't prove their claims.
All of this fraud took place because of willful forgetting of the lessons of financial misconduct that did so much damage culminating in the Great Depression. Bluntly: You can't trust bankers with banking. They will screw the economy for their own personal fortunes every goddamn time.

In fact, they're already lobbying heavily to leave failed institutions in place so it's easy to defraud us all again immediately. The moguls in this bullshit paper economy have no shame at all. You think poor people feel entitled? Pikers!

Many victims of banker fraud accept it meekly. They haven't let themselves be driven around the bend by the outrageous stacking of the deck in favor of malevolent, immoral institutions. I would expect some to be unstable enough and armed enough and angry enough to find the home of one of the people in the whole vast chain of fraud and burn it to the fucking ground. I'm not advocating that; I'm just surprised it hasn't happened.

It's a mark of the unmerited success of the Randian Republican narrative that those who have been defrauded still think they're the deadbeats. They've absorbed the bullshit narrative of the right that our economy magically gives everyone exactly what they deserve, so the rich must deserve their bailed out fortunes and the defrauded must deserve to have next to nothing - and to pay for those bail outs from that next to nothing.

It beggars belief that Ayn Rand's superman producers are so obviously stinking crooks and the real deadbeats. They didn't produce anything but successful fraud. And we're not supposed to tax them because that would discourage their hard work and innovation!

It's pretty obvious that financial innovation has been a synonym for fraud. It's pretty obvious that lots of employees of financial institutions should go to jail for their frauds. Yet there's no groundswell of justified anger, and it would certainly be more justified than the petulant, fact-free ranting of the teabaggers.

I would have thought that someone would be talking about egalitarian revolution by now. But no, the wingnut media machine is still blaming the victims.

(h/t to many liberal blogs, especially Eschaton)

Partisan dialog

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stop pussyfooting and name names

Nicholas Kristof gets it right:

I see members of Congress in my own country who argue that it would be financially reckless to extend unemployment benefits during a terrible recession, yet they insist on granting $370,000 tax breaks to the richest Americans. I don’t know if that makes us a banana republic or a hedge fund republic, but it’s not healthy in any republic.
But - "members of Congress"? Sure, there must be a bipartisan consensus to stick our heads up our asses. Kristof does say that Republicans are pushing tax cuts for the wealthy, but he only says it once.

He needs to make it crystal clear: Liberal Democrats want to help you. Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats want to help wealthy people who don't need help.

Why truth is more important than civility

Republicans can only win if they lie. But they can only lie successfully if no one names them liars.

When one side breaks the social contract, and the other side makes a virtue of never calling them out on it, the liar always wins. When it becomes "uncivil" to call out liars, lying becomes free.
Al Franken knows this, and he knows the wrath of the wingnuts when resisted by truth, especially truth told by mocking the hero of the right-wing lie, large or small, Rush Limbaugh.

I have been telling friends for more than a decade that we Democrats must destroy the credibility of Republicans ourselves. The media is too cowed - and bought off - to do it. After twenty-five years, we should have learned that.

The only way for Democrats to win is for us to say bluntly and consistently when confronted with a lie: That's a lie and you're a liar if you repeat that.

And we need to follow up by connecting the dots:
You can't trust Republicans to tell you the true facts. You can't trust Republicans to interpret facts in good faith. You can't trust Republicans to have your interests at heart. The Republican Party exists for the purpose of fooling you into helping the wealthy take an ever-larger slice of the pie, while telling you how lucky you are to be getting the stale crumbs.
Over and over and over and over again until the message sinks into members of a culture besotted by bullshit.

The stupidity industry

It used to be limited to professional wrestling and the National Enquirer segment of supermarket tabloids. But conservatives needed the stupidity industry to grow and they had proof in its small early success that spackling over the face of propaganda with entertainment would work, so they made it happen.

Now Republicans believe whatever is politically convenient, and damn the facts.

A few years ago, Republican voters, by and large, believed what the mainstream believed when it came to climate science. Then their party, its candidates, and its media outlets told these voters to stop believing the facts -- and rank-and-file Republicans did as they were told.

Stacking the deck

Does it ever seem that there are no longer any consequences for financial misbehavior?

"On Judge Levine's first week on the job, nearly twenty years ago, he came into my office and stated that he had promised Wendy Gramm, then Chairwoman of the Commission, that we would never rule in a complainant's favor," Painter wrote. "A review of his rulings will confirm that he fulfilled his vow," Painter wrote.

Painter continued: "Judge Levine, in the cynical guise of enforcing the rules, forces pro se complainants to run a hostile procedural gauntlet until they lose hope, and either withdraw their complaint or settle for a pittance, regardless of the merits of the case."

Oh, sure, Painter must be some disgruntled liberal. But:
Levine was the subject of a story 10 years ago in the Wall Street Journal, which said that except in a handful of cases in which defunct firms failed to defend themselves, Levine had never ruled in favor of an investor.
The Republican Party is a criminal conspiracy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Message to the President

Listen, and understand. The GOP is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.
Get it?

Do you think if the White House received a deluge of postcards and emails with this message that it might sink in that the Republicans don't give a shit about agreeing to anything?
Obama [tried] to find common ground with political adversaries who made a pretty explicit decision not to work toward good policy solutions in the first years of the Obama presidency but to do anything and everything to oppose his policy initiatives so as to make him look weak. Hence the bizarre spectacle of Republican congressmen and senators opposing policies they had previously supported: decrying policies intended to stabilize the financial system that many of them had signed on to when they were initiated by Republican president George Bush; opposing even incremental parts of the healthcare reform package that they had previously advocated; trying to stop Democrats from extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed (yes, the hard-hurting people Rush supposedly wants to liberate from Big Government intervention), opposing even minimal cap-and-trade policies designed to rein in greenhouse gas emissions; and so on.
Gird up for the fight, Barack. It's all they've left you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Data catches up to hypothesis

More than three years ago, I hypothesized (Ivy for guessed) that one reason we Americans find ourselves in such a perverse and unbalanced political culture is the fact that, post-Watergate, Democrats have had to raise money from lots of rich people with special interests, not just from a small number of ideological liberals (such as George Soros).

[I]t was campaign finance reform that led Democrats to discard social class as a weapon and unifying principle.
Hypothesizing is easy. Any blogger in an armchair can do.

Now, according to Frank Rich, academics Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, in Winner-Take-All Politics, have confirmed at least part of this hypothesis with actual hard-won data:
America’s ever-widening income inequality was not an inevitable by-product of the modern megacorporation, or of globalization, or of the advent of the new tech-driven economy, or of a growing education gap. (Yes, the very rich often have fancy degrees, but so do those in many income levels below them.) Inequality is instead the result of specific policies, including tax policies, championed by Washington Democrats and Republicans alike as they conducted a bidding war for high-rolling donors in election after election.
Of course, in the aftermath of Citizens United v. FEC, we're in the worst possible situation. Self-interested corporations (after all, that's their job) are barely restricted if at all, while individual contributors who might be able to counter the corporations are still prohibited from it.

Don't look for the Supreme Court to do anything about it. At least six of the Supremes - Stephen Breyer is the crossover - are firmly corporatist.

Someone else's fault

Duhbya is completely consistent in his obdurate refusal to accept responsibility for anything:

[Bush] said he ordered American forces to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with the assumption that allied forces would help make up the difference in Afghanistan.

"What happened in Afghanistan was that our NATO allies, some of them, turned out not to be willing to fight," Bush said.
Loosely translated: We weren't willing to fight, so it's their fault that they weren't.

And the wingnut blogosphere is trying to make Barack Obama out to be a narcissist. Is there even one psychological projection they have the introspection to avoid? (No, of course not.)

Limousine radicals

Click image for full Barry Blitt/New York Times illustration.

I'll have more on Frank Rich's column in the morning.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You won't be disappointed

Expect the worst from the Republicans.

[T]he White House should imagine Republicans being as reckless, irresponsible, ignorant, ill-tempered and child-like as humanly possible -- and then expect that to happen, because it probably will.
Why would they change what worked so well for them? Have they appeared at any time in the past 18 years to be motivated by anything besides power or constrained by conscience or fellow-feeling?

(h/t Atrios)

Punishing the innocent

President Obama retains the Wall St.-driven bias to help the thoroughly corrupt and incompetent banking sector as if they were deserving. I don't understand why. It has been bad economic policy (though better than the Republican Congressional caucuses' do-nothing rhetoric), and it has been bad politics.

Moral merit, of course, is not the first criterion. The health of the economy at large is what matters first.

Punishing the guilty is not as important as saving the blameless (or the less blameworthy, anyway). If bailouts save the economy for all of us, we have to hold our noses and bail.

Instead, we've had punishment for the innocent (stimulus inadequate for the deserving unemployed - most of them) and amnesty for the guilty (a banking system built on fraudulent practices throughout the life cycle of mortgages that have gone essentially unaddressed).

And the 112th Congress will give us even less of both justice and value, since it's dominated by doctrinaire anti-government Republicans.

Welfare for the deserving

Click image for full G.B. Trudeau/Doonesbury cartoon.

Cure-all

Click image for full Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe cartoon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A tale of two parties

Why is one-party Democratic government in Massachusetts for the past four years and the next four years much better than the long years of one-party Republican government (2003 to 2007) during Duhbya's maladministration?

That's easy. They're Democrats, which automatically makes them better. They actually believe in governing.

But... Power is dangerous even for Democrats. There's no lack of evidence that some Democrats are corruptible.

So why is unified Democratic government better than unified Republican government? The Massachusetts House Republican Minority Leader Bradley Jones:

On the Democratic side, there’s so many different opinions.
Unified Democratic government is better because Democrats are not sufficiently unified to become dictatorial. Republicans are simply far too doctrinally similar to tolerate the internecine conflicts that keep Democrats a party of dissent even when they're in power together.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Trafficking in lies

I happened on this compendium of wingnut lies about President Barack Obama.

In our debased media culture, as filled with bullshit as Pakistan's with secret right-wing "knowledge" and conspiracy theories, conservatives are so credulous and incapable of critical thinking that they will believe anything bad about their domestic political adversaries. Anything. It doesn't matter if a rumor calls on them to believe that the duly elected President of the United States, who by all appearances is a tepid centrist, wants to destroy the very political system that chose him for the top office!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Learn how to win at politics

David Axelrod may be an expert at electoral politics, but he's a naif at the politics of government. In the debate over extending the Bush income tax cuts, there are not merely two options, cave to the constant Republican desire to further advantage rich people or do nothing.

There is the third way (heh): Hammer Republicans every goddamn day for holding the middle class extension hostage. Go on TV as often as possible and say:

Our tax cut is for 100% of the population, yet the Republicans want even more for those who make more than a quarter million dollars a year.
Say:
Even the most wealthy people in America will get the same tax cut as everyone else on their first quarter million dollars of income. That's not enough for the Republicans. I guess they know who butters their bread.
Say:
Democrats are ready to pass the law to give Americans the hundreds of extra dollars that we all deserve. Republicans think that 98% of you don't deserve anything at all unless their wealthy friends get huge handouts above and beyond what you'll get. We Democrats don't believe in Republican welfare for the rich.
Democrats are way too damn conciliatory. Yes, we want to get things done. Yes, what we want matters and needs to be done. But our lily-livered Washington representatives need to learn how to fight back against the vicious kleptocracy of Republican defense of established wealth and power.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Recounting past tales

Where is all the conservative bloviating about election theft in Minnesota this cycle? Oh, right, their guy, Tom Emmer, is behind this time, behind by almost 9,000 votes.

When Al Franken and Norm Coleman were nip and tuck, Minnesota wingnuts screamed that Franken and the DFL were stealing the election. No amount of transparency in the recount - not even posting every single contested ballot on line - could allay their hysteria.

Now, however? The Republican-desired recount is not a mugging at all. In fact, important GOP officials still can't stop fighting the battle of 2008, even as they follow the Democrats' example to keep recounting in 2010:

State GOP chairman Tony Sutton jumped in: "We are not going to get rolled this time."
Sutton is morally stunted. He can't even apply the golden rule, can't see his opponents as justified in the Senatorial recount, all the while having totally signed onto this recount even though it is much less plausible that it might change the Election Day outcome.

Oh, and this time, Tim Pawlenty (R-me, choose me!) expects to remain governor for the duration of any recount. And maybe during any lawsuit filed by Emmer, too. So that he can govern in a term to which he was not elected with the now-Republican state legislature at his side.
"I don't think there's any downside to keeping this recount going on as long as possible," said a high-level Republican operative who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "If we keep the process going, there are opportunities for us in the upcoming legislative session."
I've said it before, but it bears repeating:
  • Democrats want to count (and recount, if necessary) the votes and let that determine the winner.
  • Republicans want to win and the hell with the will of the people.
Republicans think elections are casino games, they are the house, and they should win all ties. And all races anywhere close to a tie. Maybe even all races that they just imagine they should win.

And the hell with democracy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gimme, gimme, gimme


Click image for full Pat Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune cartoon.

Auditioning a replacement

Click image for full Jen Sorensen/C-VILLE Weekly cartoon.

Jason Lives

Click image for full Clay Bennett/Chattanooga Times Free Press cartoon.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Reality bites

Why would Republicans even consider saying yes when no has worked so well? When so many extremists from their hard right wing were elected on a platform of HELL NO by wingnuts who might settle for more obstruction if they can't refight the Civil War?

Republican Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, who is expected to become the new House majority leader in January, questioned on "Fox News Sunday" whether there was any benefit to compromising with President Barack Obama.

The question was not whether Obama was willing to work with Republicans, as he stated last week, but, "Are we willing to work with him?" Cantor asked.

"I mean, first and foremost, we're not going to be willing to work with him on the expansive liberal agenda he's been about," Cantor said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told the CBS program "Face the Nation" that agreement exists on some specific provisions, but he refused to signal any willingness to compromise.

Big media, for its part, will no doubt continue to expect President Obama to compromise without any corresponding expectation of the GOP.

CNN will continue to screw up the most basic facts about, for example, the debate over keeping the rich from paying progressive taxes:
Obama wants to extend the lower tax rates for income above below $200,000 a year for individuals and $250,000 a year for families, saying that means 98 percent of Americans won't be subject to a de facto tax increase.
Yes, they printed it without the strike-through.

And Mitch McConnell will prove over and over and over again that Republicans only pretend to care about the deficit when caring about it hurts those of us who are non-rich:

McConnell, however, made clear that Republicans believe no one should have their tax rates return to the higher levels of the 1990s.

"We don't have a revenue problem; we have a spending problem," McConnell said, repeating a line parroted by Republicans on other shows.
Note of course the thoroughly Republican framing: no one should pay more (never mind the trillions saved by the rich and the corresponding crumbs the rest of us get).

And big media will never, ever notice that Republicans are hysterically hypocritical on deficits. Noticing the bullshit is against the rules of the reigning kleptocracy.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Department of Redundancy Department

Jay Aykroyd of Eschaton has already linked to this, but Tom's a friend of mine, so I'm linking to it too. Lots of intelligence in the comments thread, as well. One of my favorites:

@Martin:

But they were Founders! They were without flaw, like Jesus.

It’s funny how a common theme of the history of the period is how Washington had to channel an administration and cabinet of geniuses (including Adams, Hamilton and Jefferson) who all held very divergent views of how the country should be run. But somehow, people like the Tea Party People or Antonin Mad Dog Scalia all like to push some phoney idea of near universal Original Intent held by the Perfect Founders.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Suspension of disbelief



Only possible rejoinder to Rachel Maddow: IOKIYAR!

Will she be next?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Banking stimulus

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Truthout cartoon.

Wicked busy

Normal posting should resume soon. I've been wicked busy - as we say in the blessedly true blue state of Massachusetts - and I'm still tired and scattered from the Democratic Party GOTV effort over the past four days. (Yes, the coordinated campaign wanted Friday too, which would have been a fifth day. I just couldn't give it to them.)

I did work 35 hours over two days, and I blasted through election day on one hour of sleep, which is undignified for someone my age. I only bonked once, in the early afternoon when I needed to improvise past the breakdown of computerized turf generation, and my sleep-deprived brain balked. But we cut down the door lists manually and, by mid-afternoon, had most of our lists back out in the hands of volunteers to call and canvass voters who hadn't cast their ballots yet.

It was worth it. We won here with Rep. Jim McGovern and Gov. Deval Patrick against the standard Republican extremist Marty Lamb (buh-bye) and a stealthier, more corporate (and admittedly sane) Charlie Baker, while Democrats all across the middle of the country got whacked. Nearly all the local Democratic legislators won re-election too.

So I can exhale with satisfaction, not just relief, that this election is finally in the books.

Collecting lawn signs from around town tonight required no thinking, just a little animal navigation, and that was an enjoyable relief.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Republican Lieberman

Lisa Murkowski (R-inheritance) will likely remain the Republican Senator from Alaska. She will now become the scold of the GOP, à la Joe Lieberman's self-appointed role in the Democratic Party. She'll appear on Olbermann and say, "Well, Keith, I have to agree with you on that." She'll vote for President Obama's next Supreme Court nominee. And the Republicans will leave her in her preferred committee assignments.

Are you kidding me?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Who owns you?

The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has been permitting biotechnology corporations to patent genes they find in nature. Think about that. You might have a unique gene for immunity to cancer, and a corporation could harvest it, isolate it, and own it.

Oh, they don't claim that you would owe them licensing fees. Yet.

Amid the reports of persistently widespread political desire to return to the Dark Ages - or at least to the Robber Baron Era - there's a small piece of good news: The Obama administration has stated in federal court that the PTO should not hold this bizarre position.

Biased observation

On the campaign trail in the early hours this morning, I saw yet again that conservatives are churlish. Not all of them of course - like John Stuart Mill on Conservatives and stupidity, I'm far from tarring conservatives as universally churlish.

But if you meet someone on the campaign trail who gives you the finger or who speaks harshly to you, it's almost always a conservative. And the teabaggers are the worst. Civility is a virtue that they wish to be practiced by the other side.

In 2010, there's more bile and anger around than at any time since the last time the right wing organized massive resistance.