it wasn’t gamesmanship, it was a matter of great national business

by lestro

We can keep telling ourselves that all we want, but once again, John Boehner pulled one over on President Obama and Obama rolled right the fuck over for it without even asking why…

There was in fact one roll call vote Wednesday night: “Authorizing the use of the Capitol Grounds for the District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run.”

Well thank fucking christ we put off a talk by the President of the United States on the single most important topic facing the nation right now so that we could make sure that the Special Olympics torchrun can go on.  That must be something they had to pass immediately, right?  So important it couldn’t wait.  It has to be, like this weekend, right?

Quick!  To the bill summary!

Authorizes the use of the Capitol grounds for the 26th Annual District of Columbia Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run on September 30, 2011.

Hm.  That, uh, doesn’t seem all that important.  Perhaps there was something more that prevented the House from having the leader of the free world in to talk about the nation’s struggling economy and what to do about it…

The House did do a little more business than give its nod to the torch run (which will begin from the west terrace of the Capitol and continue along the grounds). Members discussed trade and unemployment and gave hearty congratulations to the girls all-stars team from North Carolina, which has made the Little League World Series. The House met at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, and adjourned at 9:36 p.m.

Oh.  Then I suppose the President of the United States can wait…

Language is Important

by lestro

You’d think the guy who as a candidate ran such a successful media campaign based around the words ‘change’ and ‘hope’ would recognize the importance of language and phrasing, but sometimes I wonder about this guy.

For example, I am reading over the text of the president’s labor day speech from yesterday and this jumped out at me:

And everywhere I went while I was running for this office, I met folks who felt their economic security slipping away, men and women who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat.  And that was even before the economic crisis hit, and that just made things even harder.

The problem is not that it isn’t true, the problem is that it makes it sound as though the ‘economic crisis’ hit on his watch, when the FACT is that it did not.

By telling people that when he was a candidate times were hard, but that’s nothing compared to what happened since, he is essentially telling people “no, you are not better off than you were when I was elected.”

and that is NO way to keep the White House.

I mean, I agree with much of what he said – and a lot of it is good, important stuff – but if I were him, I would still be constantly reminding people that he is still trying to clean up someone else’s mess, instead of essentially telling them – reminding them “yeah, it’s only gotten worse since you gave me the keys…”

The public generally still blames the Republicans – especially President Bush – for the current mess, yet the Republicans are still pushing the exact same plans that got us into this mess as the solutions to get us out.

That’s Dumb.

But what’s even Dumber is that the president doesn’t seem to be trying to counter them by saying things like “and that was before we recognized the depth of economic troubles were were in” or “when I started running for office I met people who felt security slipping away, and by the time I took office, things were even harder thanks to the economic policies of the right wing…”

I mean give me something here, Mr. President.  Don’t just roll over and take it.

It’s like the president has Stockholm Syndrome or something.

maybe someday we’ll elect a democrat

by lestro

We did?  Who?

Certainly you can’t mean President Obama:

President Obama abruptly pulled back proposed new national smog standards Friday morning, overruling the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to compel states and communities nationwide to reduce local air pollution in the coming years or face federal penalties.

The move represented a win for the business community, which had lobbied to postpone new restrictions on ground-level ozone — known as smog — until 2013 in light of the economic downturn. It also raised questions about the fate of several other air quality regulations the EPA is preparing to finalize this year.

Well there has to be a good reason, right?  Surely it can’t be that same old bullshit about how investing in the environment has to wait for financial reasons, especially at a time when corporate profits are literally at record highs, right? Let’s go right to the source, the White House press release:

At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.

goddammit.

Ozone, for the record, is a greenhouse gas (which means that even if you don’t believe in such things it traps heat in atmosphere, warming the planet) that is the principal component in smog formation. It harms lungs, causes respiratory distress and is linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature death.

And how can you be sure this is a terrible, terrible move?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) identified several of these regulations as targets for a regulatory rollback the House will vote on this month, and House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel hailed Obama’s decision Friday as “a good first step.”

“If you’re serious about a jobs agenda, the last thing you want to be doing is adding tens of billions of dollars in costs every year,” said Upton, who added that under stricter smog standards communities in his district and across the nation “will lose these jobs, and they will never come back.”

But maybe I am overreacting.  I admit, it happens.  I am a hot head sometimes.  Maybe I am seeing this wrong.

“Obama utterly caved,” said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity, an advocacy group.

Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said, “It’s unfortunate that the administration is siding with big oil over the health of children, seniors, and the infirm.”

Nope, I’m dead on.  So let’s be very clear, this is the Democratic president once again choosing business interests over people.

According to the EPA, depending on what standard it adopted, the compliance costs for industry could range from $19 billion to $90 billion a year by 2020. The tougher standard would yield health benefits worth $13 billion to $100 billion, the agency said.

Did you catch that?  The health benefits would save us more money than this would cost industry (which, again, is seeing record profits again this year).

Now let’s take a look at the 2008 Democratic Platform, the one that got Obama elected with a huge majority and gave him supermajorities in both houses of Congress:

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an inauspicious start

by lestro

The three-day Labor Day weekend is here again (thank you, Liberals), with its annual reminder of the last gasp at summer with its barbecues and parades and even a free day off for those of us who have spent the best months of the year trapped in windowless rooms.

But along with signifying the end of summer, Labor Day weekend traditionally signifies the beginning of the Political Season. It is the final, downhill push for candidates running in November’s general election and now that (the theory goes) people are back from the annual physical and mental break summer provides us, they are ready to pay attention again.

This year, as in 2007 and 2003, the Political Season also includes the final primary pushes as we head into January’s Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Also this year, the Political Season means a return to the ridiculous arguments and stalling tactics that have dominated the politics in this country since President Obama was elected and the opposition literally made their top priority not fixing the problems they caused, but instead doing everything they can to make Obama a one-term president, even if it means further tanking the economy and/or keeping the country in the ditch they so recklessly drove us into (to borrow one of the president’s metaphors that really is very apt).

The top issue? Once again, it’s the economy, stupid.

More specifically, it’s jobs. There don’t seem to be any. In fact, today’s jobs report shows the US job market absolutely stagnating. They say it is the worst showing in nearly a year.

And “seem” is, in fact, the right word.

When you look past the headline, once again the private sector added jobs, just not enough to counteract the public sector jobs that had to be cut, due to the cuts-only method of budgeting demanded by one party (which happens to be a party that ran up this ridiculous debt situation with two unfunded wars, giant tax cuts for the wealthy that did exactly the opposite of what they promised they would do, and the largest unfunded government program expansion in history). The results were also a bit skewed by 45,000 workers on strike when the count was done; workers that are technically employed, but not on that day, which took an additional 45,000 jobs off the books, inflating the jobless numbers for August…

But let’s be very clear about this: The Republican party is directly responsible for those 20,000 or so government employees being out work. They are literally increasing the unemployment rate and slashing services even as they do everything they can to force more people onto the state’s dole. This is their plan: keep slashing government at a faster rate than the economy can add jobs, which makes it look as though the President is failing.

It’s genius because, of course, the President gets the blame because no one pays attention to anything except the headline.

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Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  […]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

How to beat a recession

by lestro

As the rest of the country struggles with high unemployment and stagnant job creation, Texas has surged ahead.  Rick Perry has found a way to beat the system.  He has figured it out.  How’d he do it?

Simple: Rick Perry created more government jobs.

With a young and fast-growing population, a large and expanding military presence and an influx of federal stimulus money, the number of government jobs in Texas has grown at more than double the rate of private-sector employment during Perry’s tenure.

The disparity has grown sharper since the national recession hit. Between December 2007 and last June, private-sector employment in Texas declined by 0.6 percent while public-sector jobs increased by 6.4 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Overall, government employees account for about one-sixth of the workforce in Texas.

Which of course, stands in direct contrast to exactly what he says on the stump, in speeches that tout his ability to create jobs.

“The fact is, government doesn’t create jobs, otherwise the last 21 / years of stimulus would have worked,” Perry said this month in a speech to the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Government can only create the environment that allows the private sector to create jobs. The single most important contributor to our jobs-friendly climate here in Texas is our low tax burden, because we know dollars do far more to create jobs and prosperity in the people’s hands than they do in the government’s.”

Given that we know that the Republicans need to perpetuate a recession in order to have something to hang on Obama and have therefore been literally doing everything they can think of to keep us in this rut (including laying off large enough numbers of government workers to counteract any positive response the president’s attempts at stimulus might have made), this is something the right better hope the general electorate never, ever learns.

Thankfully, no one in the Obama administration will even attempt to point this out. Because they don’t want to be associated with government jobs either.

Go team.

How to perpetuate a recession

by lestro

Let’s say you are a political party interested not in, you know, fixing the problems in the country, but instead states its goal as “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Now, let’s say the recession in which you’ve mired the country might be starting to recede before the next election, so the main negative you were going to try and saddle the president with was diminishing, meaning you’d actually have to come up with an idea or two on which to run instead of the trotting out the same bankrupt ideology that got us into this mess.

Let’s say things are starting to turn around on the employment front and considering your campaign is going to be about how the president hasn’t yet fixed the economy you destroyed.

What do you do in order to make the president look ineffective?

Well, first, you do everything you can to block any and all economic recovery efforts that are not the same policies that killed it in the first place, demanding instead that in order to get out of this, we have to KEEP DIGGING.

Then, to ensure that the numbers stay bad, you purposefully and willfully lay off thousands and thousands of workers across the country by slashing government spending and forcing them to shed jobs, meaning all of those people who were productive contributors to the economy are now all on the public dole and therefore only making the deficits bigger by demanding the service you just cut.

Voila! instant continuing recession! even if private sector hiring is up 1.7 percent in the past year..

I have been thinking about this for a month or so now, but today, there were numbers that absolutely prove I was right.

Dig this graph:

That’s a tough hole to dig out of.

And if I were president, especially one running for re-election at a time when the top concern is jobs, I would be goddamn sure to point these things out.

Unless, of course, I didn’t want to win anyway.