Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

~~~

~~~

Healthcare vs

Healthcare vs
Torture

Sunday, July 31, 2011

WHY THE DEBT CEILING CRISIS BELONGS TO THE GOP AND ONLY THE GOP

Robert Schlesinger of US News and World Report explains why the debt ceiling crisis belongs to the GOP and ONLY the GOP:

Robert Schlesinger

"Both Sides Aren't To Blame for Debt Ceiling Crisis


There are many times when “Washington” falls down on the job, when “Congress” can’t do its job, and when “both sides” are to blame for whatever the failure of the moment is. Blaming both sides is easier than thinking, but it also has the virtue of sometimes being true. This is not one of those times. Let’s be very clear: The current debt ceiling crisis is the deliberate creation of the Republican Party, especially its Tea Party wing of fanatics.

[See editorial cartoons about the Tea Party.]

Let’s start from the beginning. Raising the debt ceiling is a routine legislative matter. The debt ceiling was raised 18 times under Ronald Reagan; nine times under George H. W. Bush; six times under Bill Clinton; and seven times under George W. Bush. Sometimes the opposition party will use the occasion to score some political points (as when then-Sen. Barack Obama voted against raising the ceiling in 2006). But that was just political theatre because heretofore everyone understood that the United States could not default on its legal obligations, be they money owed to owners of maturing bonds or to Social Security check recipients, military personnel serving around the world, or border security guards expecting to get paid, or any other of dozens of functions of government that have been legally authorized.

It’s worth underscoring this point: The debt ceiling isn’t about new spending. It’s not about a “blank check” as GOP talking points would have you believe. It’s about paying bills that are coming due for goods and services that Congress and the president have already acquired. It’s as if you called your credit card and utility companies and told them that you were very sorry but in the name of fiscal responsibility you just wouldn’t be paying your bills. That’s neither fiscally conservative nor fiscally responsible. I can actually remember a time when conservatives stood for things like fiscal and individual responsibility. [See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

But powered by an angry base that, frankly, doesn’t understand the issue and actively opposes the very notion of legislative compromise, the GOP decided to deliberately manufacture a crisis around raising the debt ceiling. It was, in the memorable words of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a “leverage moment,” to extract policy concessions from President Obama. But the GOP’s hostage wasn’t some esoteric or super liberal Obama initiative. It was a routine measure necessary for the continued healthy functioning of the economy.

But even starting from the negotiating positions of a clean debt ceiling increase versus a debt ceiling increased tied to huge spending cuts, the GOP has been recalcitrant as Democrats have moved steadily in their direction. As Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen notes:
  • Democrats asked Republicans to pass a clean bill, just as GOP leaders had supported many times in the past. Republicans said, “No.”
  • Democrats invited Republicans to Biden-led bipartisan talks. Republicans quit.
  • Democrats offered a $2.4 trillion debt-reduction package, 83% of which would come from spending cuts. Republicans said, “No.”
  • Democrats sought a Grand Bargain, with more than $4 trillion in savings. Republicans said, “No.”
  • Several Democrats offered some preliminary support for the “Gang of Six” blueprint. Republicans said, “No.”
  • Many more Democrats signaled support for the McConnell/Reid “Plan B.” Republicans said, “No.”
 The Republican solution was to pass the radical “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” Tea Party pipe dream plan. Then last night they were supposed to pass House Speaker John Boehner's plan which would have--wait for it--mandated that we go through this whole exercise again in six months. Because, apparently, the Tea Party is the only group in America that has enjoyed this experience.

Of course Boehner’s bill didn’t pass because House conservatives, apparently having convinced themselves that it stood some sort of chance of becoming law (it didn't), were unsatisfied with the size of their legislative victory. These people are worse than the annoying sports radio fan who calls in and asserts that the home team should trade a couple of utility infielders, a couple of marginal prospects, an aging reliever, and a bag of balls to the Mariners for reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez … and cash. The Tea Party is in fact the next caller, the one who blasts that fantastical trade scenario as giving up too much.

The GOP chaos would be funny but for the fact that while they get on the same page regarding a bill that is a nonstarter in the Senate, time is ticking down to a point where the United States is not going to be able to pay its bills.

It may be true that no one here can play this game, but right here and now all the of the errors are being made by the GOP side of the field." 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

THE WORLD WATCHES THE TEA PARTY DRAG AMERICA TO RUINATION

America, once the model of democracy for the world, has now become the reckless clown of the world, thanks to the extremists in the GOP.  Political morons like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and Alan West think that nothing disastrous will happen if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling.  They think that because they are ignorant fools who know nothing about governing--only how to grab headlines and squawk like the bird brains that they are.

Here are some excerpts from around the world on what we look like to other countries.  Nice going Tea Party ideologues.  You've sullied America's reputation as no other political extremist movement has besmirched it ever before in our history.

From Think Progress:

World Reacts To Debt Ceiling Debacle: ‘Irresponsible,’ ‘Worst Kind Of Absurd Theatrics,’ U.S. Politicians A ‘Laughing Stock’


Our guest blogger is Ken Sofer, special assistant with the National Security and International Policy team at the Center for American Progress.



Conservative German Die Welt: “[T]here are few signs of self-doubt or self-awareness in the U.S. … [The Tea Party movement] sees the other side as their enemy. Negotiations with the Democrats, whether it’s about appointing a judge or the insolvency of the United States, are only successful if the enemy is defeated. Compromise, they feel, is a sign of weakness and cowardice.”

The German mass-circulation Bild: “What America is currently exhibiting is the worst kind of absurd theatrics and the whole world is being held hostage… Most importantly, the Republicans have turned a dispute over a technicality into a religious war, which no longer has any relation to a reasonable dispute between the elected government and the opposition.”

French newspaper Le Monde:”The American politicians supposed to lead the most powerful nation in the world are becoming a laughing stock.”

Chinese state-owned newspaper Xinhua: “Given the United States’ status as the world’s largest economy and the issuer of the dominant international reserve currency, such political brinksmanship in Washington is dangerously irresponsible.”

The founding documents of many nations around the world take their inspiration from and quote the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But now, foreigners don’t seem to be too inspired watching the intransigent wing of one political party that controls one house of one branch of the federal government hold the entire U.S. hostage. American soft power has taken a self-inflicted hit as a result of the debt ceiling debate.
Even if Congress manages to forge a deal against the wishes of the Tea Party and deliver a bill to President Obama’s desk raising the debt ceiling before default, the damage to our international standing has already been done. Other nations won’t forget how some members of Congress were so careless to allow the international economy fall into another financial disaster in order to score a few political points."




DEBT CEILING HIKES BY RECENT PRESIDENTS:





A Letter for Blue Voters Living in a Red District

Cross-posted from The Swash Zone by (O)CT(O)PUS:

The following letter was written in response to a request by fellow blogger, Nance, of Mature Landscaping. Having received favorable reviews in cyberspace, I decided to make this letter available to anyone who lives in a red state or red district and wants to send a message to their local Tea Thug. Please feel free to copy it, modify it, and send to the Republican reprehensible of your choice:


Dear Representative Posey (R-FL),

You and your Tea Party colleagues seem to suffer from one fatal flaw: A callous disregard for one of our founding documents that clearly states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …”

How does your no compromise, hostage-taking approach to governance square with these words? It does not. Like a bad marriage to an abusive spouse who violates personal boundaries, you and your Tea Party Republicans fail to distinguish between YOURS, MINE, and OURS. The United States is not just YOUR country; it is also MY country. It spends not only YOUR tax money; it spends MY tax dollars too. A public debate without compromise and consensus is not my idea of “consent of the governed.” The key word in this debate should be ‘OURS,’ not ‘yours.’

I have paid into the Medicare and Social Security system my entire life. It is MY money, not yours. And I resent your support of legislation that will gut or eliminate MY benefits. Tantamount to THEFT, you have no right to dismantle the social safety net that generations of my forbearers struggled for ... and died for!

I resent paying higher marginal tax rates than your billionaire benefactors who refuse to pay their fair share of the burdens of civilization ... thus creating a wealth gap at MY expense.

I resent the credit worthiness of MY country being held hostage by a minority fringe group that have demonstrated more anger management pathology than common sense or common decency. When you took your oath of office, you promised to uphold the U.S. Constitution which clearly states:

"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

For some unfathomable reason, you think Grover Norquist’s No Tax Pledge holds more legal authority than your obligations as set forth in the U.S. Constitution.

I resent the atmosphere of character assassination, bullying, and fear engendered by you and other Tea Party Republicans who have defamed and vilified every good citizen with whom you disagree.

No, Mr. Posey, you have disrespected us, verbally abused us, and now threaten to steal from us. No longer do you deserve the consent of the governed. Most of all, you have defiled our democracy. At election time next year, I want a DIVORCE!

THE KRAUTHAMMER DOUBLE LIE:

From Andrew Sullivan's blog:

The Krauthammer Double Lie

"It's sitting right there in today's column. The first is this absurd notion:
Obama won a great victory in 2008 that he took as a mandate to transform America toward European-style social democracy.
Piffle. His record in office has been remarkably moderate.

From a stimulus loaded with tax cuts to an accession to leaving the Bush tax cuts in place in 2010, from winning the war on al Qaeda that Bush and Cheney were losing to managing the bank and auto company bailouts without losing vast amounts of public money, Obama is a moderate Republican. His health insurance plan is identical to one from the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, and to the right of Nixon and Clinton; his attempt at financial deregulation was modest and has been torn apart by lobbyists since. These truths are obscured in order to make this point:
Obama faces two massive problems — jobs and debt. They’re both the result of his spectacularly failed Keynesian gamble: massive spending that left us a stagnant economy with high and chronic unemployment — and a staggering debt burden.
This is so grotesque a lie it needs a correction. The vast bulk of the debt was inherited by Obama and created by the GOP under Bush and both parties before then; much of the rest is a function of a stimulus that prevented total collapse and the revenue implosion caused by the Great Recession. To pin the current unemployment rate and accumulated debt to Obama alone is so false, so misleading, so gratuitously disingenuous it belongs on Fox."

Friday, July 29, 2011

BOEHNER FAILS...

and so, here we are:

Joe Klein of Time explains:

"And so, here we are. Our nation’s economy and international reputation as the world’s presiding grownup has already been badly damaged. It is a self-inflicted wound of monumental stupidity. I am usually willing to acknowledge that Democrats can be as silly, and hidebound, as Republicans–but not this time. There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable, more than willing to accept cuts in some of their most valued programs. Given the chance, there was the likelihood that they would have surrendered their most powerful weapon in next year’s election–a Mediscare campaign–by agreeing to some necessary long-term reforms in that program. The President, remarkably, proposed raising the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67.

The Republicans have been willing to concede nothing. Their stand means higher interest rates, fewer jobs created and more destroyed, a general weakening of this country’s standing in the world. Osama bin Laden, if he were still alive, could not have come up with a more clever strategy for strangling our nation."



SPEAKER BOEHNER'S FAILURE:

A bloody nose for Boehner as he fails to collect enough support for vote on Republican plan for debt crisis








Thursday, July 28, 2011

Republican Representative Joe Walsh: Major Arsehole

You've seen this loud mouth on Chris Matthew's show, "Hardball" and on other cable news stations.  He's loud, he pushes the Tea Party agenda, and he's a galloping hypocrite who doesn't take care of his own family while haranging cable news audiences about fiscal responsibility.  IOW, a major Republican arsehole:

"Fiscal Prudence Screamer Joe Walsh Sued For $100,000 in Child Support

Screeching famewhore Joe Walsh is a Tea Party congressman who is always thrilled to go on the teevee to blow snot about the fiscal irresponsibility of the Obama administration and not so much thrilled about the actual governing process. He is, like Michele Bachmann, mostly notable for being one of the loudest members of the zombie army of hillbilly barbie dolls elected by Teabaggers to perform the ignorant fantasies of disgruntled racist white constituents in front of cameras by yelling about the gubamint in half-baked sentences.

He is, however, pretty light on actual legislative accomplishments (which means zero). So is it much surprise that Walsh is accused of serially avoiding paying child support to his ex-wife and three kids to the tune of $117,000? Well here is Joe’s problem with that, he just does not like people asking for a “social safety net.” It is time to reform dependent offspring entitlements!
From an investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times:
Freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh, a tax-bashing Tea Party champion who sharply lectures President Barack Obama and other Democrats on fiscal responsibility, owes more than $100,000 in child support to his ex-wife and three children, according to documents his ex-wife filed in their divorce case in December.
'I won’t place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money!' Walsh says directly into the camera in his viral video lecturing Obama on the need to get the nation’s finances in order.
Walsh starts the video by saying, 'President Obama, quit lying. Have you no shame, sir? In three short years, you’ve bankrupted this country.'
 In court documents, after his ex-wife, Laura Walsh, asked a judge to suspend his driver’s license until he paid his child support, Joe Walsh asks his ex-wife’s lawyer: 'Have you no decency?' ”

Time to start charging for those interviews, Joe! [Chicago Sun-Times]"

h/t Wonkette

A perfect example of GOP grandstanding hypocrisy and cable news whoring.

He is the face of the Tea Party--he along with Michele Bachmann and the loser, Sarah Palin and her narcissistic self-aggrandizing film that nobody spent money to see.

They're loud, they're everywhere, and they're hypocrites.

GET OVER IT. THIS IS WHO OBAMA IS.

Weary of this brinkmanship and stalemate over the debt ceiling?  Is everyone watching the markets tank as the know-nothing Tea Party freshman insist on ideology over compromise?  Will someone please tell Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin to shut up already with their ignorant statements about not raising the debt ceiling?  Frustrated with President Obama and how he's handling the crisis?

Well...



JAMES WARREN SAYS:  "Get over it.  This is who Obama is."

"As President Obama is pilloried by the left, including by bloggers and editorial writers, for supposedly selling them out during debt ceiling negotiations, a reality check is desperately needed.

Get over it, guys and gals, and remember whom you're fuming over: a deal-making community organizer.

Recognize this man? In a showdown with ideological enemies, he fashioned compromises which made some Democratic allies apoplectic. Republicans weren't happy, either, with what he wrought but grudgingly realized there were few alternatives.

[skip]
Throughout he exhibited a preternatural calm, always seeking some common ground among disparate interests as if compromise was a goal in and of itself, not any diminution of principle as some Democrats thought.

[skip]
And, as you watch him, be reminded of his informative pre-law school days as a community organizer in Chicago. Recall how they inspired both Rudy Giuliani and Sarah Palin to openly mock the term 'community organizer' at the 2008 Republican National Convention, with the former New York mayor unable to contain derisive giggling as he openly wondered what the term stood for.


Then, as now, he was also about seeking resolutions, not just bashing the rich. It was intellectual empiricism and street-wise practicality all at play. It was about doing a deal and moving on."


A sane Republican writes a letter to Speaker Boehneer:

"Dear Speaker Boehner,

As a Republican, I have followed your handling of the debt ceiling negotiations, and the future of the federal budget, with mounting concern. You appear to be engaged in a game of partisan brinksmanship with our nation’s financial future. Now is not the time for scoring political points or playing to the fantasies of the anti-government libertarian zealots within our Party.

Your handling of the debt ceiling negotiations, and the prior budget proposals advanced in Representative Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” makes it clear that the GOP is more concerned with protecting the interests of America’s most wealthy citizens, even to the detriment of the rest of us, and to the common good. For example, it is farcical to frame the debt and the deficit as merely problems of spending — they are, in fact, issues created by both expenditures and revenues. Nor is taking an axe to the federal government an acceptable solution — traditionally, we conservatives have been in favor of a limited government, not an eviscerated one. In the end, we simply have to pay for the services we expect government to provide. As such, a discussion of raising additional revenue — taxes — must be a part of any long-term solution.
Effective tax rates for all income brackets in America are at or near historically low levels. Our corporations benefit from one of the lowest effective rates of taxation in the industrialized world. And yet, under your leadership, Congressional Republicans have dug in their heals and — for the most part — refused to consider closing tax loopholes for big business or, most importantly, raising income tax rates for the wealthiest Americans.

Such a solution, coupled with spending reductions and entitlement reform, is just and equitable. It recognizes two fundamental realities: first, that corporate profits have increased during the present “recovery” even as wages, and hiring, have not. Second, that the top 1% of income earners in America have amassed an increasing share of our nation’s wealth over the past several decades while wages for most Americans have stagnated or declined.

In the Book of Genesis, God famously asked, “Cain, where is your brother Abel?” This question still resonates today — it reminds us of our duty to care for the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the most marginalized elements in society. Does the Republican Party no longer see any role for government in providing for these groups? That certainly seems to be the case given the spending cuts proposed by Congressman Ryan. While some entitlement reform is necessary, the cuts in Rep. Ryan’s plan amounted to a repudiation of our collective responsibilities towards our fellow citizens. Speaker Boehner, do Congressional Republicans know where their brother Abel is today?

Every American understands that sacrifices are necessary. But sacrifices demand a balancing of benefits and burdens. Is it right and just that those Americans who have benefited the most from the economic growth over the past 30 years and from the recovery should see their burdens lightened in this time of fiscal crisis while those who have benefited the least — average Americans who have seen their jobs outsourced overseas, their wages stagnate or decline, their benefits reduced — are told to carry an additional share? I think the answer is obvious: it is not.

The debt, the deficit, the budget — these are grave matters of huge importance for the future of our nation. The pain created by addressing these issues cannot be disproportionately placed upon the poor, the elderly, and the middle class. Spending cuts and entitlement reform must be coupled with proposals to raise additional revenue and to create a more equitable balancing of the burdens created by the need for budgetary retrenchment and fiscal austerity. The rich can, and must, be asked to make additional sacrifices.

And remember, a political party that ignores the interests of the middle class, that eschews any notion of economic justice or responsibility for the common good, and that imperils the soundness of the public credit in dealing with these issues, faces a problematic future indeed.

Michael Stafford
Republicans for Responsible Reform"

h/t The Pragmatic Progressive Forum

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

THANKS

Pamela D. Hart and I share a birthday today. 

Happy birthday to Pam. 

To Bugs Bunny,  Charlotte Corday, and me.



This poem by the American poet, W.S. Merwin, sums up how I feel today, even if it is quite bleak:

Thanks

by
W. S. Merwin

Listen
with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SPEAKER BOEHNER BLAMES PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR WANTING TO COMPROMISE AND SOLVE DEBT CEILING CRISIS

Boehner is angry that the president and the American people want Congress to act like rational adults. 

Boehner blames Mr. Obama for the mess he and the Tea Party extremists have made and for the threat of financial ruination he and the Tea Party have placed in front of the American people.

Americans aren't buying Boehner's nonsense.  They've seen the president offer an unprecedented deal and seen that deal rejected.  The American people are on Mr. Obama's side in this debate.


BOEHNER BLAMES OBAMA, but let's talk about blame:

The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling



This chart is based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Its significance is not partisan (who's "to blame" for the deficit) but intellectual. It demonstrates the utter incoherence of being very concerned about a structural federal deficit but ruling out of consideration the policy that was largest single contributor to that deficit, namely the Bush-era tax cuts.

 ROBERT KUTTNER explains how this could play out:


"Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as the great contrived national debt crisis enters its final week.

First, the Republicans are starting to lose whatever credibility they had with the broad public, as regular people finally start focusing on this story. The economic stakes are very high, President Obama was willing to give them most of the loaf, and they still wouldn't make a deal.

Second, no matter what the White House and Speaker Boehner claim, there is no way to do a big complex budget agreement between now and next week. The details are far too complex. Even the Gang of Six proposal was nothing more than broad outlines.

Third, as this drama goes down to the wire, and financial markets begin to contemplate the possibility that the United States will actually default on its debts, the pressure on the Republicans by their Wall Street allies will only grow.

At some point this week, stock and bond markets will begin to start swooning, and the usual wise guys will begin making high-risk bets at the expense of financial stability as a whole. Credit rating agencies, which should be accorded zero credibility after their role in causing the financial collapse by blessing junk sub-prime securities as Triple-A, could start downgrading the debt of the United States.

And then things will get really interesting. The President of the United States will be revealed to be holding more of the cards -- if he has the nerve to start playing his hand well (for a change)."

REPUBLICANS REFUSE TO MAKE A DEAL--ANY DEAL UNLESS IT'S THEIR DEAL.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

[SANE] REPUBLICANS FOR OBAMA

 



We've known for a long time that extremists have taken over the Republican Party and have turned Americans off.

Their intransigence on the debt ceiling crisis is a scandal, and has further sullied whatever credibility they had as a party and the phoney claim that they have America's best interest as their number one priority. 

They've lost the narrative on the debt ceiling, and they've exposed themselves as crazies who would drag America to ruination in order to preserve tax breaks for billionaires.

No sane Republican that I know supports Michele Bachmann's or Rick Perry's doomed presidential hopes.  But the bottom feeders continue to believe that the unelectables will somehow restore America to the greatness that was ours during George W. Bush's administration.

Our friend and fellow blogger, Sue, published some of the comments from "Republicans for Obama" at her blog.   Here are some blog entries and links that will give you an idea of what the saner members of the GOP are thinking:


The President Puts it in Writing

"I'm 100% positive that nutjobs from various walks of conservativedom will continue to tell themselves that the President refuses to put his offer into writing, but here it is. It's not the hundreds of pages legislation that's currently being hashed out between the leaders of the House and Senate, but it's where the President stands on the deficit issue."

The Arrogance" of Serving While Black...A Rant

"I don't think anyone was under some illusion that the election of Barack Obama actually meant the end of racism in America. I'm pretty sure that the President knew it better than anyone.  After all, he saw it every day, from the moment he announced his candidacy. To some degree, he saw it within his own party during the primaries. And he saw it in all ugliness during the general election. For half of this country, he was "That One". No matter how big and clear his victory was. No matter how smart he is. No matter how decent he is. No matter what a true patriot he is."


It's Not Too Late to Compromise

"Oh, Republican leadership. I don't know who does your polling or who you go to for advice, but right now you're on the wrong side of the tide. You stood up for the uber-rich, only to find out that "job creators" maybe aren't as popular as they once were (you know, when some were actually creating jobs)."

Friday, July 22, 2011

How Can We NOT Love Obama

 I'm posting this to tick off the righties who lurk here.


 Stephen Marche, writing last week in Esquire:



"Before the fall brings us down, before the election season begins in earnest with all its nastiness and vulgarity, before the next batch of stupid scandals and gaffes, before Sarah Palin tries to convert her movie into reality and Joe Biden resumes his imitation of an embarrassing uncle and Newt and Callista Gingrich creep us all out, can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph. Whatever happens this fall or next, the summer of 2011 is the summer of Obama.


Due to the specific nature of his political calculus, possibly not a single person in the United States — not even Obama himself — agrees with all of his policies. But even if you disagree with him, even if you hate him, even if you are his enemy, at this point you must admire him. The turning point came that glorious week in the spring when, in the space of a few days, he released his long-form birth certificate, humiliated Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and assassinated Osama bin Laden. The effortlessness of that political triptych — three linked masterpieces demonstrating his total command over intellectual argument, low comedy, and the spectacle of political violence — was so overwhelmingly impressive that it made political geniuses of the recent past like Reagan and Clinton seem ham-fisted. Formed in the fire of other people’s wars, other people’s financial crises, Obama stepped out of Bush’s shadow that week, almost three years after taking over the presidency.

But even that string of successes cannot fully explain the immensity of his appeal right now. Reagan was able to call upon the classic American mythology of frontiersmen and astronauts and movie stars; Obama has accessed a much wider narrative matrix: He’s mixed and matched Jay-Z with geek with Hawaiian with Kansan with product of Middle America with product of a broken home with local Chicago churchgoer with internationally renowned memoirist with assassin. “I am large, I contain multitudes,” Walt Whitman wrote, and Obama lives that lyrical prophecy. Christopher Booker’s 2004 book The Seven Basic Plots, a wide-ranging study from the Epic of Gilgamesh on and a surprisingly convincing explanation for why we crave narrative, reduced all stories to a few plots, each with its own kind of hero. Amazingly, Barack Obama fulfills the role of hero in each of these ancient story forms.

While Obama’s story is ancient, it is also utterly contemporary, perfectly of the moment. His gift — and it is a gift that makes him emblematic — is that he inhabits all these roles without being limited by them. He has managed, miraculously, to remain something of an outsider while being the president of the United States of America, the most inside man in the world. He’s African-American, but he’s not African-American. He’s from Chicago, but he’s from Hawaii. One month he’s bailing out the banks, the next he’s keeping Gitmo open. He pushes health-care reform through with an unimpeachable heave of will then extends the tax cuts. He walks smiling through the newly opened White House garden on his way to announce renewed efforts at oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, his “balanced” approach to the economy has led to a slower recovery than other industrialized nations and the war in Libya has been half-assed at best, which is exactly what war cannot be. For two years, he seemed disingenuous and defensive, pushed into roles that his predecessors had scripted, alternately playing savior then monster. But no more. We can finally see who he is, we can finally understand the reality: In 2011, it is possible to be a levelheaded, warmhearted, cold-blooded killer who can crack a joke and write a book for his daughters. It is possible to be many things at once. And even more miraculous, it is possible for that man to be the president of the United States. Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a “world-historical soul,” an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be.

We love Obama — even those who claim to despise him — because deep in our hearts and all over our lives, we’re the same way — both inside and outside our jobs, our races, our cities, our countries, ourselves. With great artists, often the most irritating feature of their work is the source of their talent. Obama’s gift is the same as his curse: He’s somehow managed to be like the rest of us, only infinitely more so.

h/t The Only Adult in the Room

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MICHELE BACHMAN, SARAH PALIN AND CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS MOCK THIER IDOL: THE LATE PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN

Here's Ronald Reagan talking about the debt ceiling in 1987, saying EXACTLY what President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have been saying for months.

This is a good example of how crazy the GOP has become.  It mocks the person they claim was the greatest president of the last 30 years:  Ronald Reagan.

People like Bachmann, Palin, and Cantor obviously know nothing about governing like an adult nor what their party's hero said about raising the debt ceiling (HINT:  It's the same as what President Obama is saying.)

The GOP has become so disconnected from reality, it now mocks President Reagan's words.

Ronald Reagan’s September 26, 1987 radio address,

"Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility – two things that set us apart from much of the world."

Michele Bachmann claims NOTHING bad will happen if we do not raise the debt ceiling, and Palin has agreed with her idiocy.   Neither of these two Tea Baggers knows what they're talking about, yet the GOP is embracing Bachmann and may very well nominate her to represent it.  And it should.  Who better to be the symbol of everything that is obscenely insane about today's GOP.


NEW YORK TIMES CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST, DAVID BROOKS, EXPLAINS THE GOP

Brooks analyzes the Congressional Republicans and why they failed to make a deal:


"...Republicans will come to regret this missed opportunity. So let us pause to identify the people who decided not to seize the chance to usher in the largest cut in the size of government in American history. They fall into a few categories:
 

The Beltway Bandits. American conservatism now has a rich network of Washington interest groups adept at arousing elderly donors and attracting rich lobbying contracts. For example, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform has been instrumental in every recent G.O.P. setback. He was a Newt Gingrich strategist in the 1990s, a major Jack Abramoff companion in the 2000s and he enforced the no-compromise orthodoxy that binds the party today.

Norquist is the Zelig of Republican catastrophe. His method is always the same. He enforces rigid ultimatums that make governance, or even thinking, impossible.
 

The Big Government Blowhards. The talk-radio jocks are not in the business of promoting conservative governance. They are in the business of building an audience by stroking the pleasure centers of their listeners.

They mostly give pseudo Crispin’s Day speeches to battalions of the like-minded from the safety of the conservative ghetto. To keep audience share, they need to portray politics as a cataclysmic, Manichaean struggle. A series of compromises that steadily advance conservative aims would muddy their story lines and be death to their ratings.
 
The Show Horses. Republicans now have a group of political celebrities who are marvelously uninterested in actually producing results. Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann produce tweets, not laws. They have created a climate in which purity is prized over practicality.
 

The Permanent Campaigners. For many legislators, the purpose of being in Congress is not to pass laws. It’s to create clear contrasts you can take into the next election campaign. It’s not to take responsibility for the state of the country and make it better. It’s to pass responsibility onto the other party and force them to take as many difficult votes as possible.


All of these groups share the same mentality. They do not see politics as the art of the possible. They do not believe in seizing opportunities to make steady, messy progress toward conservative goals. They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.


Fortunately, there are still practical conservatives in the G.O.P., who believe in results, who believe in intelligent compromise. If people someday decide the events of the past weeks have been a debacle, then practical conservatives may regain control."

Americans should never forget that during the time of fiscal crisis, the GOP swore their allegiance to some right wing purist instead of the Constitution.  This is the party that swears fealty to the Constitution as a badge of honor; and then when the time came to live up to that oath, they showed where their real loyalty resided.

Meanwhile, the country has more confidence in President Obama's approach to the economy and debt than it does in the Republican Party.  

But the GOP hasn't a clue why this is so.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pledge Scams as Ambush Politics (And Why the No Tax Pledge Violates the U.S. Constitution)

By Octopus

Two pledge scams have been in the news lately: The so-called Family Pledge (covered by Nameless Cynic in this post, The American Taliban) and Grover Norquist’s so-called No Tax Pledge. Although seemingly unrelated, these pledges share at least one trait in common: To bully public officials and hold them hostage. More to the point, pledge scams are a form of ambush politics designed to preclude any reasonable debate on any subject by coercing compliance without forethought as to implications, impacts, or alternative solutions.

The No-Tax Pledge represents a case in point. As a Damocles sword wielded by nihilists over the heads of GOP chumps, it is the singular cause of gridlock in the current debt default debate. Here is what a debt default will mean:
  • A downgrade in the credit worthiness of the nation;
  • Interest rate increases on home mortgages, auto loans, student loans, and credit cards;
  • Worldwide turmoil in bond and equity markets;
  • Steep losses in the value of homes and retirement accounts;
  • Interruptions in Medicare, Social Security and VA disbursements;
  • And a crippling double-dip recession.
In other words, it is not just GOP stooges who are being held hostage; it is the American economy and We, The People … all on account of an anti-tax lunatic fringe wielding The Pledge to play brinksmanship at our expense.  When these GOP stooges took their oaths of office, they also pledged to uphold the U.S. Constitution, which requires them among other things to honor the nation's debts. Does this mean Grover Norquist holds more authority than the U.S. Constitution?  In allowing themselves to be suckered, the GOP have turned themselves into fools as well as hypocrites.  And they have no one else to blame but themselves!

It reminds me of a nursery rhyme I once read to my kids …

HOW THE GOP LOST THE DEBT CEILING DEBATE


July 18, 2011 7:04 AM

Poll: 71% shun GOP handling of debt crisis

No one is looking particularly good in this crisis, but the GOP is looking particularly bad.

Conservative New York Times columnist, Russ Douthat explains:

"Obama has been playing the reasonability card so successfully because his opponents won’t (or can’t) play one of their own.

It’s not that Republicans needed to tug their forelock and go along with whatever grand bargain the White House whipped up. But to win the endgame, they needed something they were willing to concede, something they could tout in public as an example of meeting the Democrats partway.

Their inability to make even symbolic concessions has turned a winning hand into a losing one. A majority of Americans want to close the deficit primarily with spending cuts — which is to say, they’re primed to side with conservatives in the debt-ceiling debate. But in trying to turn that “primarily” into a “completely,” the right has squandered this advantage. By 48 percent to 34 percent, a Quinnipiac poll found last week, Americans will blame Republicans if debt-ceiling gridlock precipitates an economic crisis.

In the end, the threat of such a backlash will probably impel Republicans to make some kind of concession anyway, if they don’t admit that’s what they’re doing. (The maneuver that Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid are working on, for instance, would reportedly cut spending by $1.5 trillion and then let the president extend the debt ceiling on his own, effectively shaving about $500 billion off the spending cuts that Republicans were originally seeking.)

By backing into a compromise and shrouding it in procedural gimmickry, Republican legislators may hope to throw the Tea Party’s watchdogs off the scent. But both the politics and the substance of such a deal would probably be worse for conservatives than the kind of bargain that might have been available otherwise — if more Republicans had only recognized that sometimes a well-chosen concession can be the better part of valor. "

And this:

"Time magazine's Joe Klein said this weekend that President Obama "is winning" the debt ceiling debate.

Klein told his fellow panelists on the syndicated 'Chris Matthews Show,' "He is coming across as the most reasonable guy in a crazy city...When he says things like 'Eat your peas,' that's language Americans can understand."

From the LATimes:

Is Obama winning the debt-limit fight?

July 13, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau

"Has President Obama seized the upper hand in the debt-limit debate? Mark Salter, for years a top advisor to Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said Wednesday that he has, that Obama has “outmaneuvered” congressional Republicans by appearing more daring on fiscal reforms -- and that the GOP had best find another strategy."

And from a comment by CDM at Sue's blog, "Hello...Mr. President Are You Listening:

NUMBER OF TIMES REPUBLICANS VOTED TO INCREASE DEBT CEILING:

1997: 55
2002: 31
2003: 50
2004: 50
2006: 51
2007: 26
2008: 34
2008: 33
Then Obama was elected.
2009: 2
2009: 1
2010: 0
 

This debt ceiling intransigence is nothing more than political hackery on the GOP's part.  The GOP is willing to create a devastating crisis here in the US and in the world to fulfill their stated goal:  To make Mr. Obama a one-term president.  The GOP is not acting like a responsible political party, they're acting like a political mafia:  "Nice country ya got here; be a shame if somethin' bad happened to it--unless you give us everything we want."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

TODAY'S REPUBLICAN PARTY: "Economically Illiterate and Disgracefully Cynical"

Conservative publication, "The Economist," attacks the reckless Republicans.


"The Economist, it must be noted, is a pro-private-sector, anti-big-government publication. For more than a century, the paper has extolled the virtues of free enterprise and free-market capitalism and railed against government bureaucracy, fiscal irresponsibility, and stifling regulation.

The Economist should be the Republican Party's closest ally when it comes to getting the US back on track. And yet, thanks to the Republicans' extreme stance with respect to tax increases and their recklessness and self-interest with respect to the debt-ceiling, the paper has turned against them."

More here on the story:

"The Economist points out that the Republicans original strong stance on the debt-ceiling did force President Obama to do something he should have done a long time ago: Acknowledge America's debt-and-deficit crisis and put forth a long-term plan to address it.

In response to the Republicans' resistance, the President floated a plan that might save $2 trillion over the next decade. And he has since floated one that might save $4 trillion.

Assuming the economy continues to recover, these savings would be a strong start in getting the country back on track--and the Republicans deserve credit and plaudits for forcing the President to propose them.

But far from declaring victory and then doing the right thing for the country, the Republicans are continuing to behave like dogmatic lunatics -- insisting that, no matter what, no deficit reduction plan include any tax increases.

This, the Economist rightly observes, is "economically illiterate and disgracefully cynical."

We've been observing for a long, long time that the above characterization by "The Economist" exactly describes the modern GOP and its lunatic base, The Tea Party.

More here:

Finally, Someone Is Talking Sense On Our Huge Debt And Deficit Problem -- President Obama
"Finally, someone in Washington DC is taking a sensible approach to the US's massive debt and deficit crisis:

President Obama.

The Republicans continue to stick to their ludicrous plan to fix our problems by slashing spending immediately and raising no additional revenue. Over the long haul, spending does need to be cut, but slashing it suddenly will deliver a hammer blow to an already frail economy. The country will plunge back into recession, unemployment will soar, and--importantly from a budget perspective--government revenues will drop. The latter outcome, which we're seeing in Greece, the UK, and other countries that have tried "austerity" as a solution, will defeat the whole purpose of trying to balance the budget by cutting spending. (Translation: It sounds sensible and prudent, but it won't work.)"





Standard & Poors Tells GOP To Grow Up And Accept Obama’s Offer

Has the GOP gotten the message yet?  It doesn't appear so. Let's try again.  Message to GOP:

YOU'VE LOST THE DEBATE!  America sees the GOP as a party of reckless pols who put ideology before country.

President Obama is still The Only Adult in the Room.

You've lost, GOP.  The country does NOT trust you.  You're too cynical and economically illiterate to be trusted with governing.



Friday, July 15, 2011

THE REPUBLICANS' DEBT CEILING

UPDATE ON DEBT CEILING BELOW.

Reposted from The Swash Zone by the estimable (O)CT(O)PUS:


By Octopus

First, let’s dispense with an outrageous lie. The current debt under discussion is REPUBLICAN DEBT authorized by Congress and signed into law by former President George W. Bush. The debt in question covers bills that have come due … from two unfunded wars, from unfunded tax cuts and tax loopholes that have benefited the wealthy and ravaged the middle class, from gross mismanagement of the nation’s economy under Republican supply side bullshit.

Over two years ago, I tried to make a point under this post, Lets Go Viral, dated April 17, 2009. I find this date especially curious. On April 17, 2009, President Obama was a newly elected president scarcely 3 months in office. From the beginning, as you can see from my original post, the Tea Thug Party was already organized and marching to the orders of Rush Limbaugh who said, “I hope he fails” – uttered on January 16, 2009 - four days BEFORE President Obama took the oath of office.

My point: Even from the beginning, the Republicans were hell-bent on sabotaging the Obama presidency. For the two years and three months that have elapsed since my original post, Obama has been battered and abused with non-stop vitriol, defamation, outright racism, and endless filibusters from far right wing Republicans (who have transformed their party into a proto-fascist movement that places political ambition above the national interest).

Two years and three months ago, the national debt stood at eleven trillion dollars, nine trillion of which was amassed under Republican administrations – representing 82% of total debt. As of this month, July 14, 2011, the national debt stands at fourteen trillion dollars, of which nine trillion was amassed under Republican administrations – representing 64% of total debt. Yet, the Republicans continue to repeat the same dishonest trope about tax-and-spend liberals. Despite the $750 Billion TARP bailout started under Bush, and the $730 Billion economic stimulus bill to prevent economic collapse, Republicans remain the all-time champions of deficit spending:

64% OF OUR NATIONAL DEBT
WAS SPENT BY REPUBLICANS
(AS OF BASTILLE DAY 2011)

Lets dispense with outrageous lie number two: Last night on MSNBC news, Judson Phillips, founder of the Tea Party Nation, said rich people deserve to have tax breaks because it is rich people who create jobs.

Total bullshit. Rich people do not create jobs, never have and never will. Producers will hire only when there is demand for their goods and services. No consumer spending means no business confidence means no job growth. It is as simple as that, unless you are Judson Phillips, a self-styled spokesperson for corporate proto-fascists. When you impoverish the poor and the middle class, you have choked the engine that drives business expansion.  Consumers create jobs when they create demand for goods and services, always have and always will.

Last year, Tea Thug Republicans ran on a platform of jobs, jobs, jobs. Since the new legislative session in January, Democrats have sponsored seven jobs bills, as follows (source):

  • A bill to end government contracts that reward corporations for shipping American jobs overseas.
  • The Build America Bonds Act – a bill that leverages public dollars to strengthen private sector investment in schools, hospitals, and transit projects.
  • The American Jobs Matter Act – a bill that would give preference in federal contracts to U.S. manufacturers that create jobs at home.
  • The National Manufacturing Strategy Act, which calls on the President to develop plans and policies to help American manufacturers compete and grow in the global trading environment.
  • The Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing Technology Act – a research and investment bill to help ensure that the cars of the future are built in America.
  • The Currency Reform Fair Trade Act - provides our government with tools to address unfair currency manipulation. According to estimates, the bill would have created over 1 million manufacturing jobs by leveling the international playing field for American workers and companies.
  • A bill to promote jobs and innovation at home by offering incentives to patent holders who pledge to develop and manufacture innovative new products in the United States.

All of the aforementioned bills were voted down by Republicans. How many job creation bills have the Republican introduced since January? NONE, NADA, ZIP.   Their idea of shrinking the deficit is sabotaging the country.  For what?  Their stinking political ambition!

UPDATE ON DEBT CEILING REPOSTED FROM "THE FEILD NEGRO'S" BLOG:

"Eric Cantor said O got angry and stormed out of the debt ceiling talks.(Because we all know that you Negroes-even the half ones-can't keep your tempers in check.)

"The President lost his temper and abruptly ended the meeting by walking out of the room." Ahhhh, poor Eric. The mean black man walked out on you? Well stop
interrupting him when he is trying to talk next time.

Anyway, it so happens that
Cantor's account of what happened isn't even true.
(A republiclown lying. So what else is new?) "... a Democrat offered a different view to the
Los Angeles Times: “Left abruptly is perfectly fair," said the official. "But the meeting was over—in no sense did he walk out on it." Hmmm, I wonder who I am going to believe? I will give you a hint; it ain't the people who got us into this mess in the first place. "

Thursday, July 14, 2011

POLLS, GOALS, AND A**HOLES

Meh.  Polls.   But since some people believe they matter, here they are:

A new poll finds that more Americans trust President Obama over Republicans on the economy.

Forty-five percent of Americans favor Obama’s “approach to trimming the nation’s debt” and, if a debt deal is not reached, 48 percent would blame congressional Republicans over the president.

GOALS:

So what's all this brinksmanship in the debt ceiling about?  I think we know.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said a while back that the Republicans' goal was to make President Obama a one term president.

McConnell didn't say JOBS! for American workers was the goal!  He didn't say working to solve our economic impasse was the goal.  He didn't say raising the debt ceiling on George W. Bush's debt was the goal.  He didn't say protecting America's future was the goal.  Nope.  Defeating Mr. Obama--a purely political indulgence in a time of dire economic stress  is what this GOPer said is the most important issue before his party.  Remember this when you read about GOP intransigence during the negotiations on the debt limit.  The GOP is willing to see America lose its bond rating and every other financial rating in their pursuit of gaining the White House in 2012.  They said it, and they mean it.

What sort of political party would  gamble with America's economic well-being to achieve a political advantage?  I know what sort.    The sort that would endanger the lives of the weak, the poor, and the helpless, while protecting the interests of the very rich and the very powerful.  IOW, the sort of people that traditionally headed the governments of banana republics.

Lastly, we have a**holes. 

Where to begin?  Oh.  I know.  Let's start with Governor Good Hair of the Messy State of Texas.  Why messy?  Because of this:

Despite Perry’s Tough Budget Talk, Texas’ Debt Growing Faster Than The Nation’s

For all his talk of fiscal conservationism on the national stage, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) hasn’t been so parsimonious at home, where his state is racking up debt at a faster rate than the national government and in greater amounts than most other states. Perry regularly attacks President Obama for engaging in “too much spending” and running up too much debt, but as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mitchell Schnurman writes today, Texas’ refusal to raise taxes has led to its own debt ballooning faster than Washington’s:
From 2001 to 2010, state debt alone grew from $13.4 billion to $37.8 billion, according to the Texas Bond Review Board. That’s an increase of 281 percent. Over the same time, the national debt rose almost 234 percent. [...]
Still, the trend is undeniable. While Texas lawmakers have refused to raise taxes — and often criticize Washington for borrowing and spending — the state has been paying for much of its expansion with borrowed money.
This is a GOPer who is entertaining the idea of running for president.  I don't know who's the bigger a**hole, Perry or the people encouraging him to run. 

Please feel free to add to my list in the comments:  Polls, Goals, and A**holes.