Friday, February 27, 2009

Buzzing Around Cuckooland

Daily BuzzFlash Minute for February 27, 2009:

Repuglicans are living in an imaginary “Leave It To Beaver” world! It shows where their growth and development were stunted and stopped; it shows how old-fashioned and delusional they really are! Their actions reveal they do not have a sense of reality!!! First they brought us everlasting preemptive war, then came “torture” and the shredding of the Constitution and then they sent the economy to hell -- and now they say they are the “Party of solutions”! Frankly they are a party filled with the insanity of deranged men and women who live in a fantasy world!!!! They are the Nest of Cuckoos!

97,913,200 reasons Bobby Jindal is our GOP Hypocrite of the Week

Bobby Jindal's made-up Katrina tale was just standard right-wing MO

Bobby Jindal's Fishy Katrina Story:

Bobby Jindal, darling of the "new" Grand Old Party, keeps taking hits after his disastrous national debut. [...]

The only problem with that story? It contradicts what Sheriff Lee said in a 2007 interview [...]

Today, Governor Jindal's office was forced to admit the story is not true [...]

Right. They didn't mean to insinuate the Governor was actually there. I mean, who are you going to believe....them or your lying ears (and the transcript)?

Further discussion can be found in turneresq's diary.

Reagan, Jindal and the moral lesson of Katrina:

Katrina was a call for an active, big government, competently executed, efficiently organized, run by experts who both understand the complicated nature emergency management and believe in their responsibility to do good works for the country. In the end, this is what the moral of the Katrina story is all about.

There was a time when Republicans, conservatives, and libertarians used to at least pay lip service to the notion that the federal government must respond energetically in a time of crisis. A natural disaster, like say a hurricane, would offer the perfect example of the right time for government action. This is in part what made Jindal's homily about the failure of government so ill conceived.

A small lie from a big liar:

Okay, admittedly this isn't the biggest deal: FOX News reporter Carl Cameron falsely claims that Bobby Jindal skipped the Conservative Political Action Conference because he had to attend to "state business," when in truth, Jindal was actually on vacation with his family in Florida -- at Disney World.

But it is a perfect example of how FOX lies about all things, big and small, to make the Republican Party look good.

GOP's 'Disneyland to Las Vegas' lie has deeper consequences

Jobless Angry at GOP Governors for Playing Politics over Unemployment Funds

Obama’s Energy Budget Begins To Repair Bush’s Toxic Legacy

Obama Budget Lays Groundwork For Reducing Health Care Costs

Obama Health Budget: It’s A Boat Load Of Money, But Good Health Reform Demands Even More:

Details are slowly leaking about the health care provisions in Obama’s budget and so far, the news sounds promising. The administration plans to set aside $634 billion over 10 years for reforming the health care system, lower costs and expand coverage.

Obama’s budget includes family planning funding protested by Republicans during stimulus debate.

Carl Rove condemns Obama's budget: 'This is going to do long-term fiscal damage':

I'm not sure any member of the Bush administration should be making this kind of speculative charge. Especially considering that their budget-making in fact did inflict long-term fiscal damage.

Matthews Slams Issa for Using the Term "Democrat Party"

Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Bizarro World: ‘Every Major Tax Cut In History Has Created More Revenue’

Rep. Hensarling: Recessions are just ‘a part of freedom.’:

This morning on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, a caller asked Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) how Republicans would solve the current economic crisis. He replied by insisting that the best cure was more tax cuts, and said that recessions are simply “part of freedom” ...

Limbaugh Responds To Sanford: The ‘Hell We Don’t’ Want Obama To Fail! Just Need ‘The Guts’ To Say So

McConnell: ‘Who wants to hang out with guys like Paul Krugman…when you can be with Rush Limbaugh!’

CPAC and the Dumbing Down of the Republican Party

Obama to nix so-called "conscience rule":

Remember Bush's little parting Christmas gift, in the form of issuing a rule that allowed health care workers to refuse to participate in treatments or procedures that would violate their "personal, moral or religious beliefs?" Remember that?

Well, it's a new day, folks:

Obama administration may rescind 'conscience rule'
Officials say the move seeks to clarify rules for health care workers

Talk about divide, confuse, conquer and destroy ... between the budget and this move, social conservatives and tax-cut freaks must be feeling like a whole hive of confused bees thwacked out of their comfort zone and buzzing around trying to figure out where to sting first.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jindahl to west coast: Drop Dead

From Bobby Jindahl's Republican rebuttal to the Obama speech last night:

While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a 'magnetic levitation' line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, and $140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.'

Now, granted some of this is just plain stupid. The government (like any public or private institution) needs certain resources and unless he is willing to provide us with some context like how many cars the government needs to carry out its duties, what kind of cars they are buying and what the market price is, and how old the cars they have now are and what kind of repair bills they are running up (not to mention the gas mileage of the old and the new cars), his assertion that $300 million for new cars is wasteful spending seems unsupported by any background information. He might be right, but if he is then he has to give us more information than just the price tag.

As for the high speed rail project, again we don't know the context. It certainly sounds wasteful, but for starters is the terminal actually at Disneyland, or is it simply someplace in the greater Los Angeles metro area? And if it is, how many people drive every day between Las Vegas and LA? It may be the best investment of funds we've ever seen, without any background information we don't know if it's wasteful or not.

But the real threat he makes is by attacking funding for volcano monitoring. The United States ranks third, behind Indonesia and Japan, for the number of active volcanoes. Over twenty are in areas where they represent a significant threat to people, and are being monitored. The metropolitan area most at risk is Portland, Oregon, which lives in the shadow of Mount Hood, which is active and erupts periodically. A Mount St. Helens-type blowup of Mount Hood (which is a distinct possibility and sooner or later is likely) could potentially incinerate or bury up to a million people in the Portland area. Now, granted life goes on in Portland but the idea that we should quit monitoring the volcano is asinine. Coming from a Governor who several times in his speech referred to Hurricane Katrina is obscene (Hey Guv, how about shutting down the National Hurricane Center? What do we spend on it every year? How about it, Guv?)

I live in northern Arizona, a region pretty much devoid of natural disasters, but I recognize as an American that I have a duty to pay taxes to help monitor natural disasters that may threaten people who live in regions that aren't as blessed that way as this one is.

Since I don't believe that Bobby Jindahl is stupid (willing to play politics with anything, yes, but stupid no) I have to conclude that this attack on volcano monitoring is a veiled threat against the citizens of Washington, Oregon and Northern California (the populated areas most endangered by volcanic explosions.) After all, the west coast now elects six Democratic Senators (out of six), a 44-23 Democratic split in the house, and has gone Democratic for President for the past five elections (past six for Washington and Oregon.) Last year the west coast handed Obama 73 electoral votes. So the clear message sent by his honing in on volcano monitoring (as opposed to tornados, hurricanes or other disasters that might affect people in red states) is "If you don't vote for us then drop dead." Literally.

Yeah, I know that there was recently a volcano threatening Anchorage, Alaska. Dang, maybe even Sarah Palin would have done a better job with this assignment than Jindahl.

Perish the thought.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Addresses Congress

Full text and video available at Huffington Post

What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Now, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that for too long, we have not always met these responsibilities - as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.
. . .

So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track. But it is just the first step. Because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.
. . .

And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world's.

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us - watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.

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Important: Lakoff's take on Obama, we should educate ourselves

Fivethirtyeight posted a special article written by George Lakoff and submitted to fivethirtyeight, entitled George Lakoff on the Obama Code.

Lakoff was the progressive who caught onto the way Republicans were winning the framing debate some years back and helped educate the left by explaining to us that we can't keep debating on their turf. A prime example of that is the term, "tax relief." Using the terms suggests that taxes are an affliction, so reducing them is always then a good thing. There are many other examples as well in which we stumble into their way of framing things (i.e. 'global warming controversy,' or 'war against terror.') It's like becoming the visiting team every time we debate with Republicans. That's not to say that we can't win a debate (sometimes the visiting team wins the game) but as long as we are debating using their language we are already starting at a disadvantage.

So Lakoff has analyzed the 'Obama code,' and discusses how we are likely to see things work, and the meaning of what Obama says, prior to tonight's speech. I won't repost the whole thing here (since Nate Silver is a guy I respect and he deserves credit for being selected by Lakoff as the outlet for this insightful article) but if you follow the link it's worth a read.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Republican Circus Circuit

The Strange Workings of the Neo-Cons Minds

Republicans: Evil, or Stupid?

The Hill, UPI uncritically reported false GOP claim that Dems steered recovery money to ACORN

The Republicans' Next $2.7 Trillion Lie

War Profiteers angry over Wall Street Bailout

Republican Governors: All Hat, No Cattle

At Least 22 Lawmakers Have Touted The Money From The Recovery Package They Voted Against

Former Bush administration officials are having trouble finding work.

Rick Santelli said the economy was healthy right before it crashed

McConnell Peddles Old GOP Lie About Small Business Taxes

Dear Rush Limbaugh, Why Are You Hell-Bent On Protecting A Radio Market That Limits Free Speech?

The dark circus of Limbaugh, Santelli and Keyes

10 Things You Can Do When You are Pi**ed off at RWTR Before the FD

On Capitol Hill, Money is the Root of All Hypocrisy

Generational Theft? Sorry, That Money's Already Been Stolen

America's Municipal Meltdown: It's Tough Times for Troubled Towns

10 Dirty Tricks Wall Street Con Artists Will Pull to Keep the Rip-offs Going

Krugman: Who Will Stop the Economic Pain?

Frank Rich: How Far Down the Economic Hole Are We Headed?

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Friday, February 20, 2009

And The Bleat Goes On

I thought unity was the solution?


Wait a second...

[RNC Chairman Michael] Steele said the national Republican leadership, with its emphasis on party discipline rather than developing a strong nationwide bench of candidates, put the party in the mess it now finds itself [...]

We've just had to suffer through a week of quotes from the GOP and national media about what a victory the stimulus battle was for Republicans because they were "united" in opposition. Now we have the Republican Party's head honcho saying that the GOP's problem has been, well, unity?

Michael Steele: Yo yo yo!

Holy shit this is funny.

Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an “off the hook” public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party's principles to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.” [...]

Under Mr. Steele's helm, the “old” may seem inappropriate in the Grand Old Party's affectionate nickname. He said he is putting a new public relations team into place to update the party's image.

“It will be avant garde, technically,” he said. “It will come to table with things that will surprise everyone - off the hook.”

Organize! Many Employers are Just Using the Recession to Stick it to Workers

Dave Lindorff:

Whatever the truth is about where this economy is heading, one thing is clear: employers are taking every opportunity to slash employment and, if they are unionized, to hammer unions for pay cuts, even when there is no justification for these actions.

Hypocrisy Alert: Republicans take credit for the stimulus plan after they voted against it.

John Amato:

There should also be a law passed that states if Republicans obstruct a bill they may not be allowed to take credit for it if it passes. I knew this was coming, didn't you? [...] I love the fact that Goober Graham is gladly taking the money:

– Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who also campaigned ardently against the bill, said he would nevertheless gladly accept its funds for his state. “You don’t want to be crazy here,” he said.

And Digby finds this nugget about the psycho right wing Govenors that may want to refuse some of the money. Stupidly, Clyburn , inserted a clause in the bill that says legislator's can override the Governor and accept the money. I know he was just looking out for the people in the states where Republicans are more interested in playing politics than helping their constituents.

How Drudge Pumps The Marc Morano Jokers

Brad Johnson:

Recently, the Wonk Room unmasked the fifty-two men who work with Marc Morano, the environmental communications director for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), to obfuscate the threat and deny the scientific consensus of man-made global warming. This core network of conspiracy theorists and right-wing media operatives generate stories for broadcast by the conservative media network, from Glenn Beck to George Will. But one other man is especially responsible for getting their work out — Matt Drudge.

Washington Post Defends George Will: The Editorial Page ‘Checks Facts To The Fullest Extent Possible’

Brad Johnson:

George Will’s recent “global cooling” column contained several demonstrable falsehoods. Despite waves of criticism, George Will and Post opinion editor Fred Hiatt have refused to respond or run corrections on Will’s “stunning, boneheaded, egregious errors.”

Now Issa cares about taking extra measures to preserve White House e-mails.

Matt Corley:

In a letter to White House Counsel Gregory Craig today, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, “called on President Obama to put in place a system that ensures all White House emails be preserved even if official business was done through private e- mail accounts.” This newfound interest in the use of outside e-mail accounts at the White House is ironic, considering his dismissal of such concerns when Democrats investigated the Bush administration’s use of RNC e-mail accounts...

Swiss Bank Will Open Files to U.S. Authorities

Susie Madrak:

Ah yes, the Swiss bank account. Truly, the end of an era. For decades, it was the banking tool of choice for those who were hiding income - for reasons as mundane as tax evasion, but also for more nefarious purposes, like money-laundering from illegal enterprises:

UBS, the largest bank in Switzerland, agreed on Wednesday to divulge the names of well-heeled Americans whom the authorities suspect of using offshore accounts at the bank to evade taxes. The bank admitted conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service and agreed to pay $780 million to settle a sweeping federal investigation into its activities.

It is unclear how many of its clients’ names UBS will divulge. Federal prosecutors have been examining about 19,000 accounts at the bank, but UBS ultimately may disclose the identities of only a few hundred customers.

But to some, turning over any names at all heralds the end of the secret Swiss bank account, whose traditions date to the Middle Ages.

Phil ‘mental recession’ Gramm attempts to resuscitate his reputation.

Pat Garofalo:

This month, Time released a list of the top 25 people to blame for the financial crisis. Second on the list (and leading its readers’ poll) is former Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX). Gramm advised Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) during the presidential campaign, famously referring to America as a “nation of whiners” in a “mental recession.” In the 90s, he also played an instrumental role in deregulating the financial sector. [...]

The Wonk Room has more.

The Phil Gramm Rehabilitation Tour Is Underway

Pat Garofalo, Wonk Room:

Today, Phil “mental recession” Gramm has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal disputing the notion that the deregulation he promoted while in the Senate had anything to do with the financial crisis.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GOP Tax Mantra: Same Old Song and Stance

R. J. Matson

Ending the Hidden Agenda Behind Tax Cuts

Joe Brewer, Perspective:
Something as simple as a metaphor can mean the difference between shared prosperity and widespread suffering.

It's time to tell the truth about tax cuts. This phrase dominates political discourse and is coughed out every time a conservative public figure opens his mouth. It is treated like the basis of sound reasoning, yet no one points out what should be obvious - that "tax relief" and "tax cuts" are just code words for destroying the capacity of government to serve the public. […]

Now is the time to nip their bankrupt idea about taxation in the bud. The way to do it is simple. Take their reasoning to its logical conclusion and see what happens if it is applied to the real world. We can test the conservative belief about taxation against our own and decide what's best by looking at the outcomes.

First, we'll need to be very clear about just what conservatives and progressives mean by taxation. Then we can apply these understandings to the world to see their consequences. (The insights that follow come from linguistic analysis of cognitive "frames" that shape political thought.)

Taxation as Conservatives Understand It

I've already alluded to an interesting metaphor that helps make sense of conservative thought about taxes, which I'll call Taxes Are a Burden to make it explicit. The understanding of taxation that follows from this metaphor can be seen in this story:

Hard-working Americans are in need of some tax relief. Years of mismanagement by tax-and-spend liberals have taken money out of the hands of working people and put it into bloated government programs that serve special interests. We need to cut taxes, return fiscal responsibility to government, and put money back in the hands of taxpayers who know best how to spend it.

This perspective is grounded in two beliefs: (1) The world is comprised of individuals; and (2) People are inherently bad and must learn right from wrong through self-discipline. I like to call this the "Me First" perspective because it assumes that people must help themselves before thinking about others. It can be summarized with the declaration, "You're on your own!" The Me First perspective assumes that any assistance from the community would be "coddling" or "spoiling" us. This claim is asserted as truth in the conservative worldview.

Taxation as Progressives Understand It

Progressives have a different understanding of taxation that can be expressed through a variety of metaphors: Taxes Are an Investment, Taxes Are Membership Dues, Taxes Are Pathways to Opportunity, Taxes Are Infrastructure and Taxes Are a Duty. (Read more about progressive taxation in "Progressive Taxation: Some Hidden Truths") Reasoning that emerges with these metaphors can be seen in this progressive story:

Our great nation was founded on a promise of protection and opportunity. Through our shared wealth, pooled together by taxation with representation, we have invested in the public infrastructure that makes possible the creation of new wealth. We have a sacred trust to keep this promise alive throughout our lifetimes, expand it as we are able, and pass it along to our children.

This perspective is grounded in the beliefs that (1) Individuals are influenced significantly by our communities; and (2) People are inherently good and benefit from cooperation with others. I like to call this the "People First" perspective because it assumes that people must help each other in order to enhance their ability to help themselves. It can be summarized with the declaration, "We're all in this together!" The People First perspective assumes that we are greater than the sum of our parts and that new opportunities emerge when we make wise investments with the common wealth we share. […]

The Hidden Agenda Exposed

The progress of our nation is being held hostage by a malicious metaphor. Treating taxation as nothing more than a burden is tantamount to declaring that citizenship is nothing more than getting all you can for yourself … everyone else be damned. Conservative elites have undermined the responsibilities we have to one another to advance their agenda. They are fully committed to crafting the world in their image, as we've seen all too clearly these last eight years and throughout the current debate about economic recovery under the Obama administration.

I say enough is enough. Let's call this tactic out for what it is. People are hurting in every corner of the land and they're looking for help where they haven't dared to look for quite some time - in the service of our representatives in the federal government. Conservatives will try to convince us that our hardships are caused by excessive government. The truth is that we are suffering under excessive conservative ideology of governance, which is a very different beast. They continue to claim that we can't get ahead because we're overtaxed. This claim is absurd! […]

What can we do to stop the conservative agenda? Call it out for what it is. When someone says, "People need tax relief," respond by letting them know that "We really need to invest in one another." Make it clear what the consequences of tax cuts really are - the destruction of our mechanisms for protecting and empowering one another. And let's stop taking their language for granted just because everyone is doing it. […]

The time is ripe for moving beyond the era of misguided individualism. Let's take the momentum we've built in the last few years and place the United States back on a course that resonates with our deeply held values - caring for one another, expanding freedoms to the marginalized, and recognizing that our shared prosperity is at the core of our success as a nation.

"Taxes, after all, are dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society." ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Republican one-page playbook

NIGHT BIRD'S FOUNTAIN got an exclusive interview with an anonymous Republican Senator, who agreed to the interview on the condition that we keep his name anonymous.

NBF: Thank you for coming today, Senator. Would you like some cookies?

S: Yes, thank you, and would you like some tax cuts?

NBF: No, thanks. President Obama faces some huge problems. Chief among them is the economy. I noticed that like almost all of your GOP colleagues you voted against the President's stimulus plan, even after it had been watered down in negotiations with a handful of Republican RINOs.

S: It didn't include enough tax cuts.

NBF: But by the end of the negotiations, almost 2/5 of the bill was tax cuts.

S: That's not enough.

NBF: But Obama won the election, shouldn't he get a chance to do what he feels is necessary to fix the economy?

S: Sure, and we are willing to work with him on ways to cut taxes.

NBF: Didn't tax cuts help get us into this mess? The economy prospered under the Clinton tax rates, but after Bush cut taxes in March 2001 companies built new factories overseas and outsourced millions of jobs, and the economy never did grow again after that as fast as it had under Clinton.

S: The problem was that after 2001, we didn't cut taxes enough. Bush's problem was that he wasn't aggressive enough, or he'd have pushed for another trillion in tax cuts the next year, and the year after that.

NBF: And then raise them again when the economy is stronger?

S: Of course not. When the economy is good then you need to cut taxes.

NBF: So when the economy is bad, we need tax cuts. But when it's good, as it was when Bush was running in 2000, you still need tax cuts?

S: Of course you do. It's sort of like breathing. You always need more tax cuts. Just repeat after me, "I need a tax cut... I need a tax cut..."

NBF: Cut it out! Let's change the subject and talk about terrorism. How should the Obama administration approach the issue of international terrorism?

S: With tax cuts.

NBF: How will tax cuts help?

S: They will just make things better, so much so that we won't care if terrorists attack again. We'll be able to afford our own private security guards.

NBF: You maybe, I'm sure that one would be a bit out of my price range.

S: Offer the security guard a tax cut, maybe you can get a cheap rate.

NBF: OK, let's talk about Iraq. George Bush completely lost his way after he started the war. How do you propose we get out of Iraq?

S: With tax cuts.

NBF: TAX CUTS?!? How will they help get us out of Iraq?

S: They will cause all the people of Iraq to stop fighting and start hugging each other because they will all realize that they want tax cuts too. Remember, they're still looking for an excuse to throw flowers at us since we got rid of Saddam for them. Tax cuts would be the perfect reason for them to express their gratitude.

NBF: So you are saying that tax cuts will fix Iraq. OK, what would you do about internet pornography?

S: Tax cuts.

NBF: (sigh). Senator, what would you do about steroids in baseball?

S: Cut taxes.

NBF: Pollution?

S: Tax Cuts.

NBF: Identity theft and stock fraud?

S: A capital gains tax cut.

NBF: Education and all the paperwork created by NCLB?

S: Tax cuts

NBF: The flu?

S: Tax cuts are the cure.

NBF: Gambling by NBA officials?

S: Tax cuts, for sure.

NBF: Orbiting space junk?

S: Tax cuts.

NBF: The peanut butter salmonella scandal?

S: They should have given the peanut company a tax cut.

NBF: OK. Let's remember some history. What do you think about the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln earlier this week?

S: He is overrated as a President. There would have been no need for the Civil War if he'd just passed a big tax cut when he became President.

NBF: Fine. REALLY Off-topic, I have a 2003 Dodge and it keeps squeaking at me when I turn left. Any idea on what I should do about it?

S: A tax cut, definitely would fix it.

NBF: Is there ANYTHING that you believe can't be cured by tax cuts?

S: Sure.

NBF: What is that?

S: Death. Wait-- if taxes aren't a sure thing then maybe death isn't either. On second thought, no there isn't anything that a tax cut won't cure.

NBF: OK. Good-bye Senator.

S: Good-bye. Oh, yeah, did I remember to talk about tax cuts?


Stimulus Bill Will Be Signed Today

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The House:

On February 13th, Congress passed the Conference Report of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1, to save and create jobs, get our economy moving again, and transform it for long-term growth and stability. The bill now goes to the President. This landmark legislation is the first dramatic new investment in the future since the creation of the interstate highway system a half century ago. On January 28, the House passed the initial American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, H.R. 1, working from priorities shared with President Obama.

The Senate:
U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 111th Congress - 1st Session

as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate

Vote Summary

Question: On the Conference Report (Conference Report )

Vote Number: 64 Vote Date: February 13, 2009, 05:29 PM

Required For Majority: 3/5 Vote Result: Conference Report Agreed to

Measure Number: H.R. 1 (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 )

Measure Title: A bill making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes.

Vote Counts: YEAs 60 NAYs 38 Not Voting 1

OpenCongress Summary:
This is the economic stimulus package that was passed by Congress on Feb. 13, 2009. The final version is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost $787 billion over the 2009-2019 period.

The two portions of the final agreed-upon bill text can be downloaded here in .pdf form (Div. A - appropriations and Div. B - tax provisions).

Countdown: Limbaugh excels at complaining

(At reading a .pdf, not so much.)
Feb. 16: Worst Persons: With the many items Republicans are complaining about regarding the stimulus bill, Rush Limbaugh has added the computer format to his list of belly aches. Watch in Countdown’s Worst Person in the World.


The Audacity Of Nope:
Rep. George Miller summed up disgust at Minority Leader Boehner (R-PermaTan) and the GOP strategy of just saying "no":
Today when this country cries out to help this economy, to help America's families who are unemployed, who are losing income, losing jobs, President Obama stepped forth with the American Recovery Act. The Republicans step forth with saying 'no.' It was reflective when Minority Leader John Boehner's instructions to his colleagues to oppose the bill, even as President Obama was traveling the Hill to meet with them and discuss this bill with them, they decided in advance of that meeting they would say 'no.' Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia has said that 'no' is going to be the Republican strategy on this economic crises. 'No' is going to be their strategy, he said. The Republican national spokesman of late, radio host Rush Limbaugh, added that 'no is the strategy by asserting on the air he wants President Obama to fail. Does he understand if President Obama fails, that the American families lose income, they lose their jobs, and the crises continues? And here we see the repeating of 'no'.

Good to know that the GOP is against any progress, any solutions...anything at all that might get us out of the mess we're in. Can you say disingenuous?

Limbaugh's remarks expose him for what he is:
It's all about politics.

Just more of the usual Washington struggle for power and glory.

Only it isn't. When you look at the state of the world economy, indeed in how much we have lost in just four months, the fact is we can't afford to wait four years to fix things. [...]

So whether he realizes it or not, when Limbaugh says he hopes Obama fails, he is hoping for an economic disaster of near-apocalyptic proportions.

In my book, that makes him a traitor to the American people, at least those who aren't in the top 1 percent.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

RINOs are still elephants at the end of the day.

President Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to reach out to Republicans.

He's also put actions behind those words. He kept George Bush's Defense Secretary, Bill Gates, on the job. He named Republican representative Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary (George Bush had a Democrat, Norman Mineta as Transportation Secretary, but Mineta was the only Democrat in the Bush cabinet, while with Gates, LaHood was Obama's second Republican.) He appointed another Republican, retired General James Jones, as his National Security Advisor.

Obama made the trek back to Capitol Hill to hold several meetings with only Republicans (something previous Presidents had not done, insisting that members of the opposition party, especially when they were in the minority, come to the White House instead for consultations and then accompanied by members of the majority party.)

He included billions of dollars worth of tax cuts in the stimulus proposal, despite angering some members of his own party.

He asked Republican Senator Judd Gregg to become the third Republican in his cabinet, as Commerce Secretary. After a bit more than a week as the presumptive appointee, Gregg withdrew his name.

Now, I don't blame a lot of Republicans for voting against the stimulus bill. If someone fundamentally disagrees with something for ideological reasons then they absolutely should vote against it. I understand that and I can respect that.

Rather, what has bothered me is a report on today not only saying that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell was disappointed with three RINOs who agreed to support a watered-down stimulus bill, but that apparently there was a plan afoot to vote as a bloc against the bill specifically and for the singular purpose of sticking Obama with a defeat.

What this says is that the GOP in Washington, rather than agreeing with the President that the voters expect everyone to work together to solve problems, are still playing partisan games. The only bullet they have left is a 41-Senator solid bloc sticking behind a filibuster, but instead of using it once or twice when it might prevail, the GOP leadership intends to force the issue more often, even if it is difficult to get all the rinos to hold the line with them.

As Democrats we should be careful though. First, let's get this straight-- a Rino is still a Republican, and is even less a friend of ours than, say, Joe Lieberman. They may be pursuadable on specific issues but if we had 60 Democrats in the Senate the whole question of how far to cut the stimulus would be moot, and we'd have gotten a better bill.

Second, Rinos are notoriously erratic and unpredictable. For example, the prototypical Rino, John McCain, was squarely against the stimulus bill. He might be pursuadable on issues like torture or immigration, on the other hand. But I don't like being in the position of having to depend on a John McCain or an Arlen Spectre or a Susan Collins to be the tie-breaking vote.

Third, as we saw on the stimulus bill, there is a price for support from Rinos. Maybe it is such an emergency that this price was necessary but it still may not achieve a big enough jolt to the economy, thanks to RINO's cutting things out of the bill and diluting it with more tax cuts.

In 2008, Nancy Pelosi's House, though increasing the Democratic margin by a modest number, crossed a key benchmark when the size of the majority outnumbered the number of 'Blue Dog' Democrats. That meant that the conservative caucus no longer can pull the entire House to the right by defining the center.

That doesn't mean that the congressional leadership should ignore the blue dogs, but they also no longer have to bend over for them, and they shouldn't. Listen, let them be involved, incorporate any good ideas they have. But don't let them hold the Democratic Congress hostage. Somewhat similarly, looking especially at the Senate, it would be good if we were able to ignore RINO's. Right now there is little choice-- even if Al Franken pulls out a win in Minnesota, Democrats will still need a vote from a Republican whenever Senator McConnell decides to try and filibuster (which seems to be on most votes.) Rinos may be the most likely ones to crossover, but if it's not such an emergency I hope our leadership remembers that in this election and last, it was Republican ideas that the American people rejected, not Democratic ones.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Judd Gregg Withdraws

Judd Gregg: Erratic, Yet Also Oh-So-Predictable

Dana Houle aka DHinMI:

Judd Gregg last week:

"I have recused myself from voting during the pendency of my nomination," Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican, told CNBC.

Earlier in the program he said he was "not really engaged in the stimulus bill," but that he did believe "we need one."

"We need a robust one," he added. "I think the one that's pending is in the range we need. I do believe it's a good idea to do it at two levels, which this bill basically does, which is immediate stimulus and long-term initiatives which actually improve our competitiveness and our productivity."

Got that? Judd Gregg publicly supporting the administration, the need for the stimulus bill, and that stimulus bill as the right solution for the economic problems facing the country. [...]

Judd Gregg today:

... it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me.

Gregg sought out the position. He knew the policies. He said he could accept and support them. He publicly supported the stimulus package. And now he's saying it had become apparent to him he couldn't do something that he had already agreed to do and in fact had done publicly. [...]

He's always been a rightwing Republican, and like those Republicans aligned with the right wing of their party, their allegiance to the right wing of their party is more powerful than their commit to look out for the good of all the country.

Gregg's statement

Judd Gregg withdraws as nominee for Commerce Secretary, says he won't run in 2010

New Hampshire Union Leader:
U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg abruptly pulled out as Commerce Secretary nominee Thursday and further surprised everyone by announcing he will not run for re-election in 2010.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Senate Passes Stimulus Bill

The Senate has passed H.R. 1 (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) in a 61 - 37 vote.

Measure Title: A bill making supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending September 30, 2009, and for other purposes.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Economic Stimulus: That WAS The Whole Point

Lesson To Be Learned From the Stimulus Wrangling: The GOP Will Be Known By That Which They Destroy.

Clearly, it's hard for Republicans to change. All those GOP Congresspeople watched the election returns, and they also heard Barack Obama's inaugural speech. That's when he pointed out to them, "the ground has shifted." He explained that Americans "have chosen ... unity of purpose over conflict and discord [and] ... the time has come to set aside childish things." President Obama offered to "extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." (Well, that line ostensibly was directed at foreign leaders. But many fists are still clenched in Washington.)

What Does The ‘Gang Of Moderates’ Gain By Slashing Education Funding In The Stimulus?:

This compromise entails making devastating cuts to the proposed education funding in the bill, a significant portion of which is aimed at low-income, disadvantaged students. A draft of their proposed cuts includes:

- 50 percent of Title I funding, which goes to disadvantaged students ($6.5 billion)

- 50 percent of Head Start funding, which goes to low-income families ($1 billion)

- 50 percent of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act funding ($6.75 billion)

- 100 percent of state education stabilization funding ($24 billion)

Update: The Nelson and Collins gang is also proposing cuts in funding for Food Stamps, firefighter and police hiring, and child nutrition.

New ‘Gang of Moderates’ cuts target women and children again:


Head Start, Education for the Disadvantaged, School improvement, Child Nutrition, Firefighters, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard, Prisons, COPS Hiring, Violence Against Women, NASA, NSF, Western Area Power Administration, CDC, Food Stamps

Senate Dems Compromise Away Best Parts of Recovery Plan:

In order to get the votes of two Republican (Maine's Susan Collins and Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter) and perhaps another (Mainer Olympia Snowe) that were needed to undermine the threat of a GOP filibuster, Reid surrendered $86 billion in proposed stimulus spending. In doing so, the Democrats agreed to cut not just fat but bone, and to warp the focus and intent of the legislation.

The Senate plan is dramatically more weighted than the House bill toward tax cuts (which account for more than 40 percent of the overall cost of the package). This is despite the fact that there is a growing consensus -- among even conservative economists and policy makers -- that tax cuts will do little or nothing to stimulate job creation in a country that lost almost 600,000 positions in January alone. [...]

The Senate's increased emphasis on tax cuts comes at the expense of the aggressive spending in key areas that might actually get a stalled economy moving.

Spending for school construction that would actually have put people to work -- while at the same time investing in the future -- has been slashed. (Almost $20 billion slated for school construction is gone.)

Money for Superfund cleanup, Head Start and Early Start child care, energy efficiency initiatives and historic preservation projects -- all of which create or maintain existing jobs -- has been cut.

Supplemental transportation funding has been hacked.

The House's proposal to help unemployed Americans maintain their health benefits has been chopped down.

Axed, as well, has been $90 million that was to have been allocated to plan for and manage a potential flu pandemic that economists and public health experts worry could shutter remaining businesses, bring the economy to a complete standstill and throw the country into a deep depression.

The bottom line is that, under the Senate plan:

* States will get less aid.

* Schools will get less help.

* Job creation programs will be less well funded.

* Preparations to combat potential public health disasters -- which could put the final nail in the economy's coffin -- will not be made.

In every sense, the Senate plan moves in the wrong direction.

At a time when smart economists are saying that a bigger, bolder stimulus plan is needed, Senate Democrats and a few moderate Republicans have agreed to a smaller, weaker initiative.

The Senate “centrists,” led by Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-NE), are cheering the fact that they’ve cut $86 billion in spending from the economy recovery package. “Spending for the states and education took the biggest hit, compared with the House bill. State fiscal stabilization funding was cut back $40 billion, school construction dropped $16 billion, and a proposed $3.5 billion line for higher education construction was zeroed out.”

Here's a list of what got cut by the Senate centrists.

The Nelson-Collins War On Green Jobs

Merrill Lynch Economist: Real Unemployment Rate is 13.9%:

When that amount of slack in employment is taken into account, Mr. Rosenberg found that the ‘real’ unemployment rate has actually climbed to 13.9%, an all-time high for the period he studied, and up from 13.5% in December and 11.2% a year ago.

Supporters Of $1.3 Trillion Bush Tax Cuts In 2001 Now Call $900 Billion Recovery Plan Billion ‘Too Much’:

Such objections are indeed ironic coming from some of the greatest advocates for President Bush’s $1.35 trillion tax cut package in 2001.

Unspinning the Right: the Rich Don't Really Bear Most of the Tax Burden:

Based on the cold facts of statistics and percentages, the poor are paying a greater share of their incomes.

Plunder and Blunder; How the 'Financial Experts' Keep Screwing You

John Cole: I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane.

Yup. It's literally impossible to be meaningfully and productively bipartisan with a party of crazies (Tom Coburn, Jim Inhofe, Jim DeMint, Jim Bunning--what's with all the crazy Jim's?), liars (Graham, Grassley, Thune, Chamblis), egomaniacs (McCain, Hatch, Kyl, Sessions) and idiots (pick 'em).

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Obama should pick Howard Dean for Secretary of Health and Human Services

Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Raul Grijalva are both pushing the same idea: Howard Dean as the new Secretary for Health and Human Services. Of course the position is now open following the withdrawl of Tom Daschle.

I can't think of a better choice. Dr. Dean was a practicing physician who has succeeded in providing health coverage for all kids in Vermont, and during his tenure at the DNC did an outstanding job of building our party.

Another argument in favor of Dean is that given the circumstances that led to Daschle's withdrawl the Obama administration can't afford another vetting mistake in making the pick. But Republicans have just spent the past five years digging dirt on Dean, so if there was any don't you think they'd have slung it by now? About all they've got is the 'Dean scream' geography lesson which is old news and irrelevant.

He's not all that popular with Rahm Emmanuel, to be sure, but then whose white house is it, anyway? Dean has certainly showed he is willing to submerge his own ego to help others succeed, and that he is a team player. Picking Howard Dean would help put to rest the rumors that got started earlier this month when Tim Kaine was announced as the new head of the DNC after Howard Dean was off building the party in American Samoa.

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Worst of Politicians: Same Old GOP Obstructionism

Dead Rattlesnakes Do Bite

Captain Jessie, BuzzFlash:

Well the republicans have gotten out front on Obama's stimulus plan and it appears the Senate will not be passing the bill. So what else is new?

When I was a kid, adult men told us that a dead rattlesnake could kill us if its fangs somehow scratched our skin. That scenario fits republicans to a tee. They may be dead, but they continue to be potent in obscure ways.

They are getting on camera as often as possible claiming that there is pork in the stimulus plan. Have the democrats pushed in front of news cameras to tell Americans that only 1% of all of the stimulus money is geared toward improvements that are not absolutely vital to the economy right now? No! They just let the obstructionists romp all over them. Now there is talk of the republicans adding an amendment to the bill to strike that 1%. Democrats with backbones need to beat the obstructionists to the punch and offer the amendment first.

Naked Republicans Display Their True Colors

George Gerber, Buzzflash:

It would be nice to look into the window of politics and see Democrats and Republicans walking the halls with their clothes on. However, since Barack Obama has taken office it appears the Republicans can be seen walking the halls naked. It is not a particularly pretty sight but it does make it easy to see their true colors once stripped of their clothing woven of lies and liars.

Why the GOP's Tax Gimmick for Homebuyers Won't Help One Bit

Let's apply a bit of common sense.

Joshua Holland, AlterNet:

And the GOP's approach is based on the theory that a "rising tide will lift all boats." A simple question: how's that theory been workin' out for ya?

Let's set aside the fact that those who are in a position to shop for a house right now are probably not the people who are suffering the most pain from the economic downturn. And let's set aside for a moment the fact that a tax credit passed now wouldn't have any impact on people's ability to buy a home in the short-term because they wouldn't see a dime until they filed their 2009 returns in 2010.

OK. Theoretically, if you could reinflate the bubble to some extent by increasing the number of people looking to buy, it'd help distressed homeowners, who would be able to refinance at lower rates or for longer terms, and it'd help lenders, who would have fewer "nonperforming" loans on their books. And it would help the financial industry unwind all those complex "toxic" mortgage-backed securities. In theory.

But nothing in that equation would change the fact that home prices were out of line with the fundamentals of the economy. It also wouldn't change the crucially important underlying issue: that American families are maxed out in terms of debt, have no savings, and all but the top ten percent haven't seen their real wages increase in 35 years. For these reasons (and I'm simplifying here), this approach: A) won't work, and B) even if it were to work, it would only kick the problem down the road a bit. After all, that which is unsustainable shall not be sustained. [...]

Again, common sense: trying to reinflate an artificially inflated bubble is a fool's errand. Or a Republican's errand -- same thing when it comes to economic policy.

'Are these folks serious?' Obama rips into stimulus-plan critics

David Neiwert, C and L (with video and transcript):

We can't delay, and we can't go back to the same, worn-out ideas that led us here in the first place. In the last few days we've seen proposals arise from some in Congress that you may not have read, but you'd be very familiar with, because you've been hearing them the last ten years -- maybe longer. They're rooted in the idea that tax cuts alone can solve all our problems, that government doesn't have a role to play, that half-measures and tinkering are somehow enough. That we can afford to ignore our most fundamental economic challenges -- the crushing cost of health care, the inadequate state of so many of our schools, our dangerous dependence on foreign oil.

So let me be clear: Those ideas have been tested, and they have failed. They have taken us from surpluses to an annual deficit of over a trillion dollars. And they have brought our economy to a halt. And that's precisely what the election we just had was all about. The American people have rendered their judgment. And now it is time to move forward, not back. Now is the time for action.

Obama Asks: ‘Are These Folks Serious?’

Brad Johnson, Think Progress (with video):

In a speech at the Department of Energy today, President Obama announced he was signing a memorandum to direct the department to issue new energy efficiency standards for common household appliances — something Secretary Steven Chu has highlighted in the past as a top priority. He also responded to critics who “ridiculed our notion that we should use part of the money to modernize the entire fleet of federal vehicles,” asking, “Are these folks serious?”

Obama pens stimulus op-ed in The Washington Post

Silent Patriot, C and L:

President Obama took to the pages of The Washington Post this morning to continue to make the case for his economic stimulus package.


By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression. Millions of jobs that Americans relied on just a year ago are gone; millions more of the nest eggs families worked so hard to build have vanished. People everywhere are worried about what tomorrow will bring.

What Americans expect from Washington is action that matches the urgency they feel in their daily lives -- action that's swift, bold and wise enough for us to climb out of this crisis.

Because each day we wait to begin the work of turning our economy around, more people lose their jobs, their savings and their homes. And if nothing is done, this recession might linger for years. Our economy will lose 5 million more jobs. Unemployment will approach double digits. Our nation will sink deeper into a crisis that, at some point, we may not be able to reverse.

President Obama finally sells the stimulus: "I reject the failed economic theories that got us to this point"

Silent Patriot, C and L:

Now, in the past few days I've heard criticisms that this plan is somehow wanting, and these criticisms echo the very same failed economic theories that led us into this crisis in the first place -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can ignore fundamental challenges like energy independence and the high cost of health care; that we can somehow deal with this in a piecemeal fashion and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.

I reject those theories. And so did the American people when they went to the polls in November and voted resoundingly for change. So I urge members of Congress to act without delay. No plan is perfect, and we should work to make it stronger.

Michael Steele: The new king of the GOP hypocrites

BuzzFlash, Honors:

It may seem like a cheap shot for BuzzFlash to name the new leader of the Republican party as our GOP hypocrite after only his first week in office, but Michael Steele's first speech as RNC chair was duplicitous enough that we couldn't help but call him out.

Last week, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Steele was elected the first black chairman of the Republican National Committee. For a party in crisis, it was again time to embrace the terminology of change. Without, of course, actually changing anything. [...]

In his acceptance speech, Steele spoke to the values of political innovation. He said that his ascendance shows that "the Republican party gets it."

"It's time for something completely different. And we're going to bring it to you," he promised.

Well, turns out that when Steele says "completely different," he means "absolutely the same."

Senate Republicans and the Stimulus: Playing Politics When the Economy Burns

Robert Reich, TPM:

Tomorrow's job report is likely to be awful. January's job losses could easily top half a million. We're deep into the most vicious of economic cycles: Consumers are slashing their spending because they're perilously in debt and worried about keeping their jobs. But as a result, businesses are facing shrinking sales of goods and services, so they're slashing payrolls, which of course makes consumers even more anxious and further reduces their spending power. Meanwhile, businesses are cutting way back on new investments in equipment, which hurts upstream suppliers, who are now slashing their payrolls. And so it goes, downward. The gap between what the economy could produce if it were running near full capacity and what it's now producing continues to widen. The shortfall is projected to be over a trillion dollars this year.

How do we get out of this downward plunge? [...]

When government spends to repair a highway or build a school or help pay for medical services, the money and the jobs stay here in America.

Finally, those who say cutting taxes on businesses is the best way to create or preserve jobs forget about the demand side. Even with a tax cut, businesses won't hire workers unless there are customers to buy what those workers produce. A government stimulus that creates jobs is a necessary precondition.

This isn't a matter of more or less government, however much Republicans and conservatives would like to wedge it in that old ideological box. The issue is how to revive the economy. When consumers and businesses can't or won't spend enough to keep the economy going, government has to be the spender of last resort. Period.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

GOP Political Games Are Not Okay

Republicans Clearly Are Willing to Let This Country Collapse if They Think it Will Win Them Elections

Doug Kreeger, AlterNet:

It is abundantly clear that the Republican leaders are going to do everything to prevent Obama and the Dems from doing anything constructive.

Grasping for relevance, out-of-touch lawmakers crafting stimulus just remembered we have a housing crisis

Meg White. BuzzFlash:

Republicans say tax cuts are key to getting people to buy houses. It's hard to tell the origination of this idea, however. The GOP plan for the stimulus package has been more tax cuts all along. Fearing looking antiquated, uncompassionate, greedy or all three, they've decided to inject some relevance.

Basically, they've changed their talking point from "It's tax cuts that stimulate the economy, not government spending!" to "We want to fix the root of the problem: housing. Democrats just want to spend money on pet projects!" But they're still selling the same magic solution.

Democrats are almost as politically-driven as the GOP in their recalculation. Hallucinating that the conservative talking points about pork-barrel spending were actually working on the American people, Dems decided to come to the rescue of the ailing housing market, too. Their plan intends to save current homeowners from the brink of foreclosure, something the Obama Administration planned to take on in a separate action.

This move is even less surprising, but perhaps also less callous than the Republicans'. [...]

It's less callous because it has less to do with partisan desires like the ones driving the tax cut cries from Republicans. People actually need assistance with their mortgages, and tax cuts won't stop foreclosure.

Denial As Political Strategy

Josh Marshall, TPM:

Behind all the back and forth over the Stimulus Bill is a simple fact: the debate in Washington is rapidly moving away from any recognition that the US economy -- and the global economy, for that matter -- is in free-fall. The range of outcomes stretches from severe recession to something closer to a replay of the Great Depression, though that label is perhaps better seen as a placeholder for 'catastrophic economic collapse' since the underlying place of the US economy in the world economy is very different from what it was in 1929. This reality was palpable in the political debate until as recently as a few weeks ago. But Republicans are using a strategy of conscious denial to push it off the stage.

It's the Stupid, Stupid

Josh Marshall, TPM:

I've been hollering for days about this or that Republican's picayune complaints about the Stimulus Bill -- either line items for minuscule dollar amounts or bogus complaints about spending items that demonstrably will create lots of jobs and improve the economy over the long term. [...]

Those jobs are needed in the short-term to prevent unemployment from getting out of hand and in the longer term to reshape the economy so that we're not dependent on recurrent bubbles to keep the economy afloat. This is an emergency jobs bill. And it costs a lot of money because we're in a deep crisis. But this basic point has disappeared almost entirely from the public debate.

ThinkProgress has admirably demonstrated that the cable networks continue to tip the scales in favor of Republicans by booking like twice or even three times as many Republicans as Democrats to discuss the Stimulus Bill. But that only tells us what we already know, which is that the Washington press establishment is still wired for Republicans. But there is a Democratic president. And he does have the bully pulpit. And he needs to make this argument, which he's not. Absent that, we can't be surprised and the Democrats are not in much of a position to complain if the vacuum is filled by a bunch of Republicans making statements that are either demonstrable nonsense or just lies.

Look at what people are talking about and you wouldn't get the sense that we're actually in the midst of a major economic crisis that will likely send unemployment well into double digits if nothing is done quickly -- and a crisis that is in large measure the result of the economic policies that the Boehners and Cantors and McConnells are telling us, all the evidence to the contrary, will now save us. Everyone who's taking this situation seriously realizes that spending is the pivotal part of what the government needs to do to stabilize the economy in the face of this crisis.

Message to D.C.: It's the Jobs, Stupid. Not Tinkering with Taxes.

Christine Bowman, BuzzFlash:

It's time we workers told everyone in Washington that the way to bail out America is to save and create more jobs. Period.

Washington, listen to this. Convince us workers that we will be getting a paycheck if you want us to be good consumers and help the American economy come back. You can also tell us how we can help. Convince us that Uncle Sam will have a plausible safety net for us -- most importantly, access to health care, Social Security benefits, new job training programs, educational help -- and we won't hold on to every discretionary penny we still have. We might even be ready to "buy American." [...]

While you're at it, you also could partner with unions that are willing to provide job training. Give grants to schools and colleges willing to prepare students to succeed in the globalized economy. Pay Americans today to build up America for tomorrow.

Or, you Washington "leaders" can tinker with tax rules and argue your ideological talkling points as the country sinks lower than a Mississippi swamp day by day and minute by minute.

Today the outrageous news is that GOP senators have decided to fight Obama on the nation's recovery bill. Although Keynesian economic theory says go big and fast, or you've lost the stimulus battle before the first shot is fired, the GOP seeks to reduce the package. They want to tinker with housing. That horse has long since left the barn. How would that get money flowing?

Michael Steele Continues Republican Lies: Not in the History of Mankind Has the Government Ever Created a Job

Heather, C and L (with video):

Michael Steele is completely clueless. Hey Steele, weren't you drawing a government pay check at one time? Maybe that didn't qualify as a job. I think the people working for the Post Office, Parks Department, IRS....etc., etc., etc. might disagree with you.

Joe the Plumber: ‘I don’t know if the American public deserve me.’

Amanda Terkel, Think Progress:

Yesterday, the ubiquitous Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher — aka “Joe the Plumber” and “Joe the War Correspondent” — became “Joe the Economist” when he went and spoke to a House GOP breakfast on the economic recovery package.

One thing that needs to be done, he said, is killing this stimulus package, because it’s just another example of “American government” — Republicans and Democrats — “kicking our butts left and right.” He also called it welfare.

Joe the Plumber now advising the GOP

SilentPatriot, C and L:

Sooo.... I guess the Republicans actually want to stay in the minority?

Painfully Stupid

Josh Marshall, TPM (with video):

Sen. Thune (R-SD) explains Republican thinking about the economic crisis ...

Country's on the precipice. And idiots like this are holding the floor.

D.L. Hughley: A Man Can Take Us To War and Lie and We Won't Do a Damn Thing About That

John Amato. C and L:
I had to tune out the Blago stuff after a while, but check out D.L. Hughley's take.

If This Were an M. Night Shyamalan Movie I'd Walk Out

LithiumCola, Daily Kos:

So, the idea seems to be that Washington Republicans are engaging in purely ideological shadowplay for the benefit, not of their constituents, but their party bosses. And the effect of this shadowplay will be to wipe out programs that have little appreciable effect on the cost of the stimulus, and that no one but Republican bosses would have bothered to complain about, except for the theatrical bellyaching. [...]

Now, I don't know about you, but I am confused. Why is anyone in their right mind considering sacrificing programs that no one really opposes, in order to get votes that aren't needed anyway, to please no one but the bosses of a regional party, who neither have nor want any reasonable arguments for sacrificing those programs in the first place?

It's Not Going to Be OK

Chris Hedges, Truthdig:

The economic crisis could plunge the U.S. into a long period of social instability. Our democracy is in peril; the threat of totalitarianism is real.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Duckworth For Assistant VA Secretary


Barack Obama and Tammy Duckworth place a wreath at
the Chicago Soldiers Memorial, November 11, 2008

Tammy Duckworth tapped for Assistant VA Secretary

Think Progress:
Today, the Obama administration announced that the President intends to nominate veteran Tammy Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth, who lost both her legs serving in the Iraq war, is currently director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and ran for the the House in the 2006 elections. From the Obama team’s press release:
As assistant secretary, Duckworth will direct VA’s public affairs, internal communications and intergovernmental relations. She also will oversee programs for homeless Veterans, consumer affairs and special rehabilitative events.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Party Of Zero: Clue Phone, Line One. Reality Calling.

Senate Republicans’ ‘Temporary and Targeted’ Tax Cuts Are Permanently Targeted To The Wealthy

Pat Garofalo:
Of course, there’s a contradiction here, in that McConnell extolled the virtues of targeted tax cuts for lower-income people, while Kyl ridiculed just that sort of cut. More importantly though, the only stimulus proposal that Senate Republicans have come forward with is Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) “American Option,” which as Ben Furnas noted earlier, is $3.1 trillion in permanent tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

If McConnell is really concerned about giving tax breaks to lower-income people then the following statistic — the average tax break for a corporate CEO and a minimum wage worker under the DeMint plan — should be troubling:

Romer responds to distortions of her research: GOP analysis is ‘flat wrong’ and ‘absolutely incorrect.'

Matt Corley:
Last week, House Republicans offered a tax-cut heavy alternative economic recovery plan that they claimed would create 6.2 million jobs. The conclusion was based on a distortion of past research done by Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer. Over the weekend, Berkeley economist Brad DeLong obtained Romer’s response to the GOP’s misuse of her work.
The Republican House analysis is flat wrong in its claim that the House Republican stimulus is more effective. No matter what your analytical assumptions, as long as they are consistent the plan the President supports would result in substantially greater job creation than the House Republican plan.
...A more recent analysis by Romer and Jared Bernstein concluded that government investment creates more jobs than tax cuts.

Republican Suicide Watch

P.M. Carpenter:
It may now well be America's favorite pastime: Republican Suicide Watch.

Its season is longer, its ramifications more profound and Lord knows its principal players are at least as amusing as any Super Bowl commercial. [...]

So when the party's new chairman, Michael Steele, announced last week to his fellow Republicans that his first task would be to address their "image" problem, was he sufficiently aware of just who his fellow Republicans are, and, with respect to the 2010 election, what they're up to?

Because these jokers are becoming political jokes, real fast -- and there's nothing more politically suicidal than that.

In the Face of Economic Disaster, Republicans Have No Ideas

Instead of trying to help figure the way out of our economic mess, Republicans are busy trying to get in the good graces of Rush Limbaugh.

Frank Rich, NYT:
The House stimulus bill is an inevitably imperfect hodgepodge-in-progress. Obama’s next move, a new plan to prevent the collapse of America’s banks, may prove more problematic still, especially given the subpar record of the new Treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, in warding off calamity while at the New York Fed. No one should expect the Republicans to give the new president carte blanche, fall blindly into lock step or be “post-partisan.” (Though that’s exactly what the G.O.P. demanded of Democrats with Bush: You were either with him or with the terrorists.)

But you might think that a loyal opposition would want to pitch in and play a serious role at a time of national peril. Not by singing “Kumbaya” but by collaborating on possible solutions and advancing a policy debate that many Americans’ lives depend on. [...]

The more disturbing problem is that the party has zero leaders and zero ideas. It is as AWOL in this disaster as the Bush administration was during Katrina.

If the country wasn’t suffering, the Republicans’ behavior would be a laugh riot. The House minority leader, John Boehner, from the economic wasteland of Ohio, declared on “Meet the Press” last Sunday that the G.O.P. didn’t want to be “the party of ‘No’” but “the party of better ideas, better solutions.” And what are those ideas, exactly? He said he’ll get back to us “over the coming months.” [...]

For its own contribution to this intellectual void, the Republican National Committee convened last week under a new banner, “Republican for a Reason.” Perhaps that unidentified reason will be determined by a panel of judges on a TV reality show. [...]

The Republicans do have one idea, of course, but it’s hardly fresh: more and bigger tax cuts, particularly for business and the well-off. That’s the sum of their “alternative” stimulus plan. [...]

We also now know conclusively that the larger Bush tax cuts, besides running up record deficits and exacerbating income inequality, were also at best a placebo on our road to ruin. [...]

The Republicans’ other preoccupation remains Rush Limbaugh, who is by default becoming their de facto leader. While most Americans are fearing fear itself, G.O.P. politicians are tripping over themselves in morbid terror of Rush.

These pratfalls commenced after Obama casually told some Republican congressmen (correctly) that they won’t “get things done” if they take their orders from Limbaugh. That’s all the stimulus the big man needed to go on a new bender of self-aggrandizement. He boasted that Obama is “more frightened” of him than he is of the Republican leaders in the House or Senate. He said of the new president, “I hope he fails.” [...]

“It’s up to me to hijack the Obama honeymoon,” Limbaugh soon gloated, “and I’ve done it.” In his dreams. He has hijacked what’s left of the Republican Party; the Obama honeymoon remains intact. The nightmare is that we have so irrelevant, clownish and childish an opposition party at a moment when America is in an all-hands-on-deck emergency that’s as trying as war. To paraphrase a dictum that has been variously attributed to two of our most storied leaders in times of great challenge, Thomas Paine and George Patton, the Republicans should either lead, follow or get out of the grown-ups’ way.

Ozymandias of Egypt

Percy Bysshe Shelley

I MET a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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