Let them filibuster

by lestro

Tonight, President Obama will take to the airwaves for his first “primetime” press conference as president. He will speak from Elk Hart, Ind., a particularly hard-hit area of a state that’s been particularly hard-hit by the ongoing economic crisis/recession.

The president will, presumably, make the case as to why the massive stimulus package, currently being held up in Congress by a bankrupt minority with no ideas, should be passed.

Here’s hoping the president dares the Republicans, whose only idea to stimulate the economy is the same bullshit battle cry of tax cuts they have been pushing for decades (despite no indication that tax cuts have EVER spurred the economy or created jobs), to filibuster the bill.  I hope he makes those bastards stand up there and explain themselves before a nation that everyday sees news reports about continuing job losses, underwhelming earnings reports and giant corporate bailouts.

Let the Republicans in the Senate explain how tax cuts create jobs, despite never having worked before; or how Obama’s tax cuts aren’t big enough despite the fact that are technically larger than anything Bush did; or how they oppose giving money to the states to prevent the states from having to cut back on essential services and jobs; or why they are opposed to spending, even though the spending creates jobs by rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Let them explain why their 42-person  minority thinks it is speaking for America, especially since the presidents approval rating hovers above 60 percent while theirs, well, doesn’t.

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Am I missing the joke?

by lestro

I mean, this is funny and all, but I don’t get it:

“As a black, Roman Catholic conservative from Washington D.C. and Maryland, I know how to lose elections,” said Michael S. Steele today in Virginia. His audience, a gathering of House Republicans, knows all too well, too. But now, he said, as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, “I’m in the business of winning elections.”

He somehow thinks that joining the RNC as its leader puts him in the business of winning elections? Haven’t they gotten HOUSED in the past couple of major election cycles? Like, beaten so badly people are wondering if the Republicans can come back?

How is that the business of winning elections?

Then again, swinging bullshit like this, maybe Steele is in the right place:

“Now my mom was a sharecropper’s daughter, with a fifth grade education,” he said. Referring to Democrats, he went on, “If my mom knew how to balance the budget, I’m sure the rest of the folks out here on the other side should know how to do that as well.”

Because any idiot can tell you the last president to balance a budget was Clinton and that the two largest periods EVER in debt growth and deficit spending occurred during the reign of George W. Bush and his hero, Ronnie Reagan, who also left the country floundering toward a recession thanks to spending money like drunken monkeys and cutting revenues at the same time.

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The President said it

by lestro

and I hope they hold him to it.

Yesterday in his interview with Matt Lauer (which was actually quite an enjoyable pre-Super Bowl interview, with questions ranging from domestic and foreign policy to the game to family and back again; though still no word on the dog…), President Obama made a point of saying the stimulus package must be, well, a stimulus package and nothing more:

But Obama acknowledged Republicans’ concerns and said he was eager to incorporate their suggestions “because they had some good ideas,” adding “we’re going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now.”

A few pork-ish items have already been pulled from the House bill, though that didn’t stop every single Republican from refusing bipartisanship (which has been the Republican way for about a decade now) and casting a lockstep ideological vote that only emphasizes the hypocrisy they now face, considering their last eight years.

More remains to be pulled from the bill, which is currently approaching $900 billion. But not one Republican? 

That’s not to say that the items the Dems are trying to stuff in aren’t important, just that they should be discussed elsewhere than in this particular piece of legislation.

Democrats need to be grown-ups and make this bill about the economy.

Republicans just need to grow up and learn to compromise and to back off ideas that have done nothing but fail for 30 years (i.e., tax cuts and obstructionism)…

America the purple

by twit

via Mark Newman, Department of Physics and Center for the Study of Complex Systems, University of Michigan, “a cartogram, a map in which the sizes of states are rescaled according to their population.”

Here is what the normal [county-level election returns] map looks like if you [use red, blue, and shades of purple in between to indicate percentages of votes]:

And here’s what the cartogram looks like:

As this map makes clear, large portions of the country are quite evenly divided, appearing in various shades of purple, although a number of strongly Democratic (blue) areas are visible too, mostly in the larger cities. There are also some strongly Republican areas, but most of them have relatively small populations and hence appear quite small on this map.

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It’s easier to be happy when you are rich and ignore reality

by lestro

That’s our lesson today kids, brought to you by the letter “R”

The pollsters were in the field asking about happiness this month, a period when economic news was gloomy for everybody and presidential campaign news seemed especially baleful for Republicans. Yet they found 37 percent of Republicans are “very happy,” compared with 25 percent of Democrats; 51 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of Democrats are “pretty happy”; and 9 percent of Republicans are “not too happy,” compared with 20 percent of Democrats.

The partisan happiness gap — unbroken for nearly four decades — is impervious to electoral ups and downs. It has something to do with worldview.

Right, because a world view in which you refuse to let facts get in the way of belief is like the Land of Make Believe (plus, the party leader is an obvious puppet…) where everything goes your way and reality never gets in the way of a good story.

But seriously, says Lehane, if Republicans are more happy, it’s because they care less.

“The typical Republican is happy coming home to a 62-inch television, pulling out a fine bottle of cognac or Scotch, putting his feet on the table and enjoying the fruits of his labor, but not caring what’s going on in the world outside their living room . . . and their gated community.”

Government-funded researchers identified the happiness gap in 1972. Since then, the Democrats have been comparatively more bummed out not just during the tenures of GOP presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush and Bush. They were noticeably less joyful than Republicans even during the GOP fiasco of Watergate, and during the Democratic Carter and Clinton administrations.

Not to mention the money. It’s a lot easier to be happy when you are loaded.

What’s the Republicans’ secret to feeling groovy?

“They have more money,” Paul Taylor, director of the Pew Social & Demographic Trends project, writes in the new report. “They have more friends. They are more religious. They are healthier. They are more likely to be married. They like their communities better. They like their jobs more. They are more satisfied with their family life. They like the weather better.”

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The exorcism of voodoo economics

by lestro

Why do Republicans seem to think that they best know how to run the economy when every indicator says otherwise?

The stark contrast between the whiz-bang Clinton years and the dreary Bush years is familiar because it is so recent. But while it is extreme, it is not atypical. Data for the whole period from 1948 to 2007, during which Republicans occupied the White House for 34 years and Democrats for 26, show average annual growth of real gross national product of 1.64 percent per capita under Republican presidents versus 2.78 percent under Democrats.

That 1.14-point difference, if maintained for eight years, would yield 9.33 percent more income per person, which is a lot more than almost anyone can expect from a tax cut.

But it’s not just growth. The whole idea of “trickle down” (or as George H.W. Bush famously dubbed it, “voodoo economics”) has been proven a sham both in practice and now on paper:

Professor Bartels unearths a stunning statistical regularity: Over the entire 60-year period, income inequality trended substantially upward under Republican presidents but slightly downward under Democrats, thus accounting for the widening income gaps over all.

Or in more basic terms:

It shows that when Democrats were in the White House, lower-income families experienced slightly faster income growth than higher-income families — which means that incomes were equalizing.

In stark contrast, it also shows much faster income growth for the better-off when Republicans were in the White House — thus widening the gap in income.

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on God’s vote

by lestro

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and again after Hurricane Katrina, the right-wing evangelical fundamentalist establishment leaders said – both times – that each one was the result of God’s wrath  because of the acceptance of homosexuals as human beings.

Then they attacked the center and left for “blaming America first” for the September 11 attacks, when non-Republicans the country over said, “whoa, whoa, whoa.  Why did they attack us?  They say it’s because of our foreign policy? hmm. maybe we should look at that…” (by the way, the President immediately and quietly met a handful of Al Qaida’s demands, like, say, pulling troops out of Saudi Arabia…)

They won a presidential election doing that.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, most people realized that it could not be blamed on Democrats (though I am sure they tried to find a way…), but it didn’t stop the right wing from blaming the gays and the loose morals of the left.

They lost the Senate and the House doing that.

But really, if God does control the weather (and why wouldn’t he, really? After all, if he is omnipotent enough to answer that prayer about a winning season for the Red Sox or help you find your car keys, certainly he’s omnipotent enough to wing a few storms around), I don’t think he is voting Republican this year.

Twice this year, hurricanes have completely disrupted major McCain events, but the weather has completely favored Obama events.

Think about it. Back in July, on Obama’s World Tour, while he was speaking on a gorgeous day in Berlin, John McCain had to cancel his big photo op and front page grab on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico because a hurricane rolled through.

Now, after Obama held an outdoor rally in front of 84,000 people on a beautiful summer night in Denver, all the talk is about Hurricane Gustav and its potential Category 5 impact on the Louisiana coast almost three years to the day that Katrina laid bare once and for all the incompetence of the Bush Administration.

I mean, I may not be one to believe that an all-powerful being gets His jollies punishing those He is supposed to love and favor.

But if I did, I would certainly not find it surprising at all that the God who teaches “love thy neighbor” (and built his name on forgiveness and opposes adultery and divorce and talks about “thou shalt not kill” and the “meek” inheriting the earth and all that) would be trying to slow the run of a warmongering lifelong military man who sings ‘bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb iran’ and divorced the seriously injured wife that waited for him while he was a POW for a woman he calls a cunt.

Because as near as I can tell from the Bible, He hates those things.