Tuesday Mashup Part One (8/24/10)

August 24, 2010

  • 1) Interesting stuff from BoBo in the New York Times today (here – not necessarily good, mind you, just interesting)…

    …in general, the culture places less emphasis on the need to struggle against one’s own mental feebleness. Today’s culture is better in most ways, but in this way it is worse.

    The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.

    Uh, actually the question isn’t “uncomfortable” at all.

    In as much as the surge “worked,” it did so also because of the ethnic cleansing that preceded it and because of the Sunni Awakening, which basically went after al Qaeda operatives in concert with the fine work of our military (and as you might expect, I see no equivalency between this matter and that of Repugs who will never believe Obama is anything but a SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM SCARY MUSLIM!!!).

    And if BoBo needs more proof that Iraq can hardly be called a success, I give you this from one of Brooks’ former colleagues (and a highly unlikely source, I know).

    When that country has a government that actually functions and shares power between its perpetually warring (either politically or for real) factions (and can provide more than a few hours of electricity per day for residents of Baghdad), THEN Brooks can crow about how wonderful Mesopotamia supposedly is now.

  • 2) Next, I give you the latest from Tucker Carlson’s scribble page (here, on a bit of a similar theme)…

    Expect to hear a lot about how much the Iraq war cost in the days ahead from Democrats worried about voter wrath against their unprecedented spending excesses.

    The meme is simple: The economy is in a shambles because of Bush’s economic policies and his war in Iraq. As American Thinker’s Randall Hoven points out, that’s the message being peddled by lefties as diverse as former Clinton political strategist James Carville, economist Joseph Stiglitz, and The Nation’s Washington editor, Christopher Hayes.

    I’ll cut to the chase a bit here and tell you that the right-wing argument is that the “stim” costs more than the Iraq war, so Obama is more at fault for our deficit than Dubya.

    Yes, sadly, I’m serious.

    In response, I give you the following (here, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)…

    The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.

    In rather stark terms, Paul Krugman (h/t Atrios) tells us here that, if ever there was a time to borrow like crazy and create all kinds of “shovel ready” infrastructure projects, it is right now, with a 10-year Treasury rate of 2.53 percent.

    But of course, if we do that, the invisible bond vigilantes will descend from the planet Klorp in their spaceships, capture our women and children and enslave us in debt forever, so we won’t (and that explanation is only a shade stupider than what passes for conventional wisdom on this subject these days).

  • 3) Finally, this post from Forbes tells us the following (staying with the economy a bit)…

    No matter how many Obama economists say that stimulus has a positive multiplier, it’s simply not true. Stimulus spending does not stimulate. Because it takes resources from growing sectors of the economy and pushes them to shrinking sectors of the economy– it de-stimulates. It taxes and borrows from good business models to support bad business models.

    It’s simple math. Enlarging government means shrinking the private sector. History is clear: The larger the government share of GDP, the higher the unemployment rate.

    Well, for stimulus spending that supposedly did not “stimulate,” the CBO told us last May that it is projected to create a total of 3.7 million jobs (here – and yes, I know this is familiar territory).

    However, the reason I’m highlighting this story is to counter it with this Daily Kos post, which tells us the following…

    Businesses aren’t creating jobs, and they have no intention of doing so unless they see signs that consumers will again resume spending. Consumers won’t be spending as long as they have nothing or too little to spend. It’s a feedback loop. There is only one way to break it. It has to be the government. The government has to create jobs. Infrastructure. Clean energy. Mass transit. There are plenty of social goods for government to fund, and there are plenty of people who are willing and able to be trained and employed. It has to happen. And only the government can do it.

    I also wanted to highlight the Forbes story for this item…

    But before you think that we have slipped into pessimism, we expect growth to accelerate in the year ahead and we expect the unemployment rate to fall further.

    I think the true Repug “base” just tipped its hand here.

    Anyone who thinks that our august captains of industry in this country are merely impartial observers in our electoral process (particularly after the horrific Citizens United ruling, which opened the proverbial floodgates of corporate campaign donations) must also believe that those zany teabaggers are scholars of Constitutional law.

    They have a vested interest in seeing that the Democrats get trounced this fall (and here is the proof). Whether or not that happens (and let’s do all we can to make sure it doesn’t), they will do what is in their best interest regardless.

    And if that means a bit of a hiring uptick which ends up getting much more than offset by further gains in their wealth (which would tie neatly into the story line that even a modest Repug victory in Congress is a “miracle cure” for the economy), well, lah dee dah, lah dee dah….

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    Join The “Mosque-Keteers” In A Sing-Along!

    August 24, 2010

    Seriously, I’d love to know how much “Astro Turf” money is being spent on this operation (here – and actually, I think we have our thoroughly unsurprising answer here).

    Oh, and by the way, the guy wearing the head scarf, or whatever that is, is a guy named Kenny who is a Union carpenter working at Ground Zero (and as he tells us later, he most definitely is not a Muslim.)

    (Also, as far as I’m concerned, this bunch of protesters might as well be teabaggers, and here is a doozy of an item about that bunch.)


    Monday Mashup Part One (8/23/10)

    August 23, 2010

  • 1) Kudos to letter writer Rob Turbovsky of Holland, PA for writing a Letter to the Editor of the Bucks County Courier Times criticizing J.D. Mullane’s ridiculous blog (here).

    Of course, it would have meant a lot more if the paper had printed it before Mullane went on vacation, forcing him to respond (problematic as to whether or not he’ll do that when he returns).

  • 2) Also, Time’s Amy Sullivan reports the following about the “SCARY MUSLIM” rumors about President Obama (here)…

    Where is this confusion coming from? I asked (Alan Cooperman of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life) who suggested this explanation: “Part of what’s going on here may be that there’s been a relative–especially compared to the previous president–absence of information from the president himself and from the White House about his personal religion and his practice of his personal faith. In the relative vacuum of information, suggestions from the president’s critics have been able to gain more currency and uncertainty is rising.”

    In response, I give you the BS factory known as Marc Thiessen today (here)…

    The poll on Obama’s religious affiliation probably would have been a one-day story had the White House not launched a surprisingly aggressive defense of the president’s Christian bona fides. The White House immediately put out a statement declaring “President Obama is a committed Christian, and his faith is an important part of his daily life.” We soon learned from White House officials that the president reads a daily devotional on his BlackBerry each morning and that he dialed three Christian pastors to pray with him on his birthday. The White House even made one of those pastors, Joel Hunter, available to the media to discuss Obama’s Christian journey.

    Soo…the story is Obama’s fault because he didn’t say enough about his religion (probably because of the full plate of urgent issues left to him by his clueless predecessor…more on him shortly…that he thought he should devote his energy to instead), but it’s also Obama’s fault because of his “surprisingly aggressive defense.”

    Truly, our corporate media wants us to be stupid.

  • Update: And by the way, h/t to Atrios for this.

  • 3) Next, we have another item I was unable to get to last week from John Feehery at The Hill (here, about the upcoming elections)…

    That President Bush is making a comeback at the expense of President Obama in the 40 most vulnerable Democratic seats speaks volumes about where the collective head of the American people is now.

    Of course, Feehery is choosing to ignore the very real possibility that those voters who allegedly support Dubya more than Obama in those 40 Democratic seats would have done so regardless of anything Obama did.

    And as if it isn’t bad enough that a bought-and-paid-for GOP stooge like Feehery would say something like this, along comes someone a bit more legit like Howard Fineman of Newsweek (here)…

    To answer the billboard question of a year ago — Do You Miss Him Yet? — the answer about Bush remains “no.” But it’s less emphatic than it was a few months ago.

    I guess there’s a lot I could say in response, but I’ll merely link to this Media Matters post debunking yet again the “zombie lie” that a “Bush Bounce” is right around the corner.

    The people ruling our discourse working for the initials-for-names news organizations just loves them a whole big bunch of GOP sugar daddies, people. And none bigger than Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History.

  • 4) Finally, Joe Pitts continues to propagandize at The Daily Caller (here)…

    Over the past nine weeks the House has been in session, Republicans have offered more than $120 billion in cuts to wasteful government programs. These cuts could have paid for extensions of unemployment compensation, COBRA health insurance assistance and state Medicaid assistance — and there would have been tens of billions of dollars left that could have gone toward reducing the deficit.

    It’s really hilarious to read Pitts claim that he supports COBRA benefits considering that he voted against funding those benefits here.

    Continuing…

    All of these cuts were offered as part of the YouCut program, an effort to include the American people in the fight to cut government waste. Each week that Congress is in session, Republican Whip Eric Cantor hosts a poll on his website. The poll offers five different government programs that could be considered wasteful.

    Participants can vote for the cut they support by voting online or sending a text message from their phone. The cut receiving the most votes is offered as a motion on the House floor and every Member has to decide whether they support the program.

    What type of cuts have been winning polls so far?

    The winning cut in week six aimed to stop taxpayer support for union activities. Some federal employees currently spend their entire workweek on union activity. Federal employees should be doing the business of the people, and union membership fees should be used to compensate workers for performing union organizing and lobbying. It’s estimated that in a single year $120 million is spent paying federal employees who are doing union work.

    In response, the following should be noted from here (from a Fox site, surprisingly enough)…

    Another program is described as “Taxpayer Subsidized Union Activities” which, if eliminated, would save about $120 million a year by not paying federal workers who spend their time on union activities. Unions already are at a disadvantage in dealing with the federal government because they are not permitted to strike. Having as officers individuals who are federal employees and know exactly what goes on in the workplace is an important effort to level the playing field.

    The point, though, is not to challenge each of the programs selected for popular vote. It is probably easy to find, and describe, programs which might incur the wrath of the electorate and its budget paring. Ronald Reagan famously railed against a welfare queen – later found to be fictitious — as he argued against federal welfare programs.

    And Think Progress tells us here that YouCut ended up leading the Repugs to suggest shutting down a successful jobs program.

    Also, I believe the following should be noted (here)…

    Given the Republican Party’s history of fiscal recklessness, it’s no surprise that Eric Cantor and his House colleagues want to outsource responsibility to the conservative activists that will traffic his web site. But their fuzzy math doesn’t work. Even as the GOP and its Tea Party base calls for a balanced budget, they want the Treasury-draining Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to be made permanent.

    Of course, a balanced budget could theoretically still be achieved if the GOP and its Tea Party storm troopers were willing to make draconian budget cuts to the $3.8 trillion federal budget proposed by President Obama. But these faux fiscal conservatives won’t make the choices. We know this, because they told us so.

    A quick note on the basic math of the budget. President Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion budget for 2011 is forecast to produce a $1.3 trillion deficit (down from $1.6 trillion in 2010). National defense and Social Security each come in at $738 billion. Medicare totals $498 billion, while Medicaid and other health care services add $260 billion and $25 billion, respectively. Throw in the required $251 billion in required interest payments on the national debt, and those portions alone of Washington’s bill total over $2.5 trillion. Meanwhile, given that the Bush tax cuts accounted for half of the deficits during his tenure and more than half over the next decade, the Obama budget rightly calls for letting the Bush tax cuts expire for Americans earning over $250,000.

    The Perspectives post tells us more about how those zany teabaggers, who are alleged to be budget hawks, have “taken the big ticket items off table when it comes to budget cuts.”

    And “Republic” Party blowhard Pitts concludes with this…

    Our debt isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem.

    In response, please click here to support Lois Herr, Pitts’ Dem opponent in the PA-16 congressional race.


  • The Latest In The “War On Brains”

    August 22, 2010

    Whatever comes after us and thus ends up trying to learn from our history will probably have a belly laugh over the stupidity such as that noted in this segment.


    Some Musical “Mao-Practice” In Tribute To “Jacko”

    August 21, 2010

    Good enough to make me dust off my “little red book” (even though I have a feeling that that guy making the motion with his hands is going to give me nightmares)…

    Hopefully I’ll get back to posting soon, even though what passes for our political discourse is particularly stupid at the moment (though I guess this isn’t helping either, but a laugh now and then doesn’t hurt).


    This Week In Blackness

    August 19, 2010

    (And it isn’t even February – imagine that.)

    Yo, Dr. Laura, wassup! (h/t Daily Kos – potty mouth alert, by the way)


    Who’s In Charge Here?

    August 18, 2010

    We are, and it’s up to us to hold accountable anyone who thinks otherwise.


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