And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
Steve Benen notes the systematic nature of claiming “zero jobs” created from the stimulus despite the conclusion from the Congressional Budget Office that
“President Barack Obama’s stimulus package may have created or saved as many as 3.3 million jobs last quarter and lowered the unemployment rate by as much as 1.8 percentage points”
Let me make this as clear as I can: The Facts Do Not Matter. Unless and until Wolf Blitzer stops the debate and says “then how do you square that statement with the findings of the CBO and 99.9% of world economists who have all concluded…” we will make zero progress.
The modern GOP is entirely predicated on empty boilerplate, outright lies, and brazen platitudes specifically designed to play well for the low information, low attention voter. That is the essence of the Tea Klan: I want all the government services I prefer to be provided for free, everyone else can kindly go die in the streets; here is my entirely unsubstantiated “plan” to make that happen. The cheers at the notion that an under- or un-insured 30 year old in a coma should simply be allowed to die coupled with boos at any notion of immigration being a powerful and useful economic engine for the country say pretty much everything you need to know about the broader movement. God help us if these folks ever discover just how much of the “Texas Miracle” occurred at the hands of legal and illegal immigration into the state. Thus it should come as no surprise that the audience questions last night reflected this sort of poisonous vacuity relative to the actual state of affairs of numerous, seemingly straightforward issues facing the country.
By way of example, there was a long, multi-participant disquisition on how waste, fraud, and abuse totaling in the tens of millions and maybe even into THE BILLIONS could impact the deficit and debt of an approximately four trillion dollar budget. Not one candidate stepped in to even imply that these maximally estimated waste numbers were extraordinarily small potatoes in the context. And neither did Wolf Blitzer. So what was he doing there, exactly?
The same goes for Social Security. Interminable amount of discussion about a program that is largely self-funding and will not be a significant deficit driver for decades and need never drive the deficit should the government choose to make long-term, minor adjustments to the program. Cost growth within Medicare will have destroyed the federal government long before we ever have to think about Social Security as a threat to the solvency of the government. Did that merit a mention? Did Wolf hold anyone to account for that seeming incongruity?
The same goes for “Obamacare.” Each of the candidates begged for “market-based” private insurance solutions to health care delivery in this county. Precisely what, pray tell, do they think “Obamacare” is? Did Wolf bother to ask?
This is all before we even touch lengthy discussions of tax policies featuring 0% rates, 9% national sales taxes, and every other kind of pie-in-the-sky nonsense without even a whisper of how such a rate of collection could even partially pay for existing military budgets, much less everything else dread government does (but don’t cut my pet program!). Was any of this even tangentially addressed? Did anyone get asked what sort of total spending their wonderful tax plan would presage and how that would change federal priorities as we know them (assuming for the moment that the candidate pushing their idea got exactly what they were asking for)? Doesn’t that seem like the sort of thing a moderator should be doing, Wolf?
Of course not, because within our modern media construct the facts do not matter. The facts are the last thing they are concerned with. This was an event entirely predicated on and existing only to produce new sound and fury signifying nothing that will nonetheless be dissected and replayed purely from a horse-race perspective until the next one of these intellectual disasters transpires. It’s why they’re having 52 of them: to feed the mill. What, you thought it was to better understand the relevance and relative merits of the various platforms?
Until we in America force the broader media to start doing its job (by taking our eyes and ears elsewhere), we will continue to get exactly this kind of crap, which is precisely the sort of leadership such an electorate deserves. I wouldn’t hold your breath.
"As settings go, [addressing a joint session of Congress] is in the swing-for-the-fences category. Presidential speeches to joint sessions of Congress are not for routine issues. And if Obama intended to aim low with his plan, throwing out a few tax credits and warmed-over ideas, he would not pick this venue"
— Steve Benenreads the tea leaves on the venue choice for the upcoming Obama “jobs” speech.
I hope Steve realizes this is the very same spot the annual State of the Union address is given. Seems to me the admittedly august podium there in the House is precisely the place for warmed-over ideas presented in yawning succession and interspersed with meaningless boilerplate, all packaged amidst plenty of applause breaks that can be further analyzed by pundits and party faithful alike once even the boilerplate platitudes have been well and truly exhausted. Sound and fury signifying nothing.
I’m not sure what makes me sadder, that the administration’s key advisers and experts uniformly still think that “aiming low” will make any Obama policy acceptable to the House, that they will then use the “passable” argument as an excuse for their perennially low aim, or that they’ll then express surprise when even that meager proposal fails to get anywhere near passing (and probably won’t even be taken up by) the House. Then it’s straight into “you dirty fucking hippies out there on drugs just don’t understand that even this tepid package didn’t get taken up. We never could have gotten anywhere with the GigantorJobs 3000 Plan that you’ve all been screaming at us about” time… Newsflash, Axe: you won’t get anything taken up. Would you rather fail small or large? Appear to hide in your safe and comfortable yet utterly feckless defensive crouch —or— go down fighting the good fight and showing America that you actually give a shit? Sadly, I think we all know the answer currently sitting on the tip of all tongues belonging to crack Strategists for The Democrat who happen to be reading Lemkin right this very second.
It’s go big or go home time, Obama. If you don’t realize that by now then the country’s in even bigger trouble than it was before you took office. Start with the basics. Use your oratorical capability to explain in the simplest terms possible what you want to do, why that approach would be effective, how it has worked in the past, why you won’t be allowed to do it now, and how that situation can be changed in the very near future. And then hammer the GOP with that every day from now until November 2012. They are teeing it up for you, sir. Why not take a swing? Just this once.
Turns out getting Chris Christie to little league games is a National Security Issue:
Gov. Chris Christie arrived at his son’s baseball game this afternoon aboard a State Police helicopter […] the 55-foot long helicopter buzzed over trees in left field, circled the outfield and landed in an adjacent football field. Christie disembarked from the helicopter and got into a black car with tinted windows that drove him about a 100 yards to the baseball field.
I guess we should be happy the car didn’t take him to another, smaller chopper that could land on the dugout or somesuch.
As for the chopper, it’s one of two $12.5 million helicopters purchased for the state police. The intention was to use them for “homeland security duties and transporting critically injured patients.”
GOP: trusted on the economy and National Security. Who among us doesn’t rest assured that the GOP is always taking the common sense line on spending and the appropriate limits of government. Thank FSM that folks like Christie are out there on the ramparts, Defending Freedom with Our Tax Dollars.
Keep in mind, this is the guy the GOP Commentariat are begging to get into 2012. Need more helicopter fuel? Chris Christie suggests we cut Medicaid or dump infrastructure projects. These are, after all, the only reasonable, Serious Person approaches to funding the truly important things in life.
42 Republicans voted to filibuster Goodwin Liu’s judicial nomination today:
The Republicans who said they’d never filibuster a judicial nominee? They filibustered a judicial nominee. The Republican “moderates” who said they found these tactics distasteful? They filibustered Liu, too. When the dust cleared, how many GOP senators were willing to give this nominee an up-or-down vote? Just one: Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.
"Rove has spent his professional life engaged in political sleaze, so he’s accused Obama of adding “arsenic to the nation’s political well.” Rove ran a White House that embraced a “permanent campaign,” so he’s accused the Obama team of embracing a “permanent campaign.” Rove embraced the politics of fear, so he’s accused Obama of embracing the politics of fear. Rove relied on “pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted ” political events, so he’s accused Obama of relying on “pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted” political events. Rove looked at every policy issue “from a political perspective,” so he’s accused Obama of looking at every policy issue “from a political perspective.” Rove snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan, so he’s accused Obama of snubbing snubbed news outlets that he considered partisan. Rove had a habit of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons, so he’s accused Obama of burying bad news by releasing it late on Friday afternoons. Rove questioned the motives of those with whom he disagreed, so he’s accused Obama of questioning the motives of those with whom he disagrees."
— Steve Benen opines the being that is Karl Rove.
And it’s all true, but I’d say it’s also sadly beside the point. The real take-home on Rove isn’t so much that he’s a hypocrite or the political equivalent of sleaze incarnate, it’s that his shtick is treated so uncritically by the mainstream media. Yes, when you hear (and see) him “turned to” as some kind of a disinterested outsider (his chyron blurb usually says “Political Analyst”) on the subject of massive, anonymous campaign financing and how that’s affecting races across the country, and then have those ever-uncritical outlets then fail to mention that Rove, himself, is responsible for one of the largest and most powerful of these organizations, said organization dwarfing the contributions of the very US Chamber that he’s being asked about, well, that is journalistic malpractice. And it’s unsurprisingly coming from one of the “liberal” outlets.
And but so: The goal of Democratic messaging should be that there is no outlet Rove can be on, no microphone he can even approach, no studio he can inhabit without being regaled, and I mean regaled with questions he doesn’t want to answer or even have asked of him in public. That he can, does, and is a paid employee of the #1 cable news outlet shows you just how far The Democrat has to go in terms of messaging before any progress can even begin to be planned, much less realized.
And this is why they fail.
[Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)] said the problem in 1995 wasn’t the government shutdown under President Bill Clinton — which occurred after Republicans attached Medicare cuts and other items to spending bills — it was that Republicans blinked when they feared the polls were turning against them.
“We must not blink,” he said, noting that money cannot be spent without the House voting to pass it. “If the House says no, it’s no.”
Their new tea party backers won’t tolerate anything less than a full repeal of the health care law, he said.
“They will leave us if we go wobbly,” he said. “I am worried about that, but that’s why I think it’s got to be a blood oath.”
First off, what form of whistle-speak is this whole “not blinking” or “you can’t blink” thing? It comes up with alarming regularity and has the unmistakable ring of that ever popular, not-actually-in-the-Bible-but-definitely-coming-soon The Rapture (what, you think the Tea Klan’s most sophisticated eschatologists have actually read the Bible? Or know who Cotton Mather was? They haven’t, don’t, and won’t).
Secondly, and much more importantly, government shutdown will be Job One of any new GOP majority in the House. Carve it in stone. This will be immediately followed by repeated articles of impeachment (regardless of what the Senate does with said articles, should the Senate remain Democratic, of course), based on said shutdown: e.g., the GOP will shut the government down, then blame Obama for said shutdown’s effects, and then accuse him of “high crimes and misdemeanors” relating to the ontogeny of said shutdown (he made us do it, more in sadness than in anger! We are the Patriots here! And we mustn’t blink. Ever. No blinking.). Watch and see. Preferably without any blinking.
Q. Did Keynesian economics, the stimulus spending, work in the Depression of the ’30s?
A. No. And I think history has really proven that to be true. Most economists agree that the thing that really worked, which is a sad commentary, is the war.
Benen notes the foolishness of this, but dances by the real point (as I see it, anyway). Where was this series of follow-up questions:
Q. So, then, if we accept that WWII was solely responsible for the nation’s economic recovery, what exactly was it about the war that spurred the recovery?
Q. I see. So, where did that money come from. By which I mean: who was buying all the arms and so forth?
Q. So what you’re saying is that massive government stimulus, in this case, a government stimulus that happened to be directed at the construction and production of war materiel is what stimulated the economy and resulted in essentially full employment and a large scale recovery?
Q. Well then, I guess you can explain how this is in any way different from what you decry as Keynesian intervention, but simply on a more massive scale? And how you square that with your previous statements re: the New Deal did nothing?
But we don’t get this. Ever. Instead, the next question is this probing and incisive fastball:
Q. In Washington, you hear various Republican committees talk about trying to remake you or change you. How do you react to that?
I’d rate that right up there with
Q. Mr. Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?
Reporters are never prepared, or, alternatively, are prepared but too beholden to power and access to ever ask the appropriate follow-up. Even when getting an answer would mean making real news out of an otherwise milquetoast interview that maybe twelve people will look at. And it’s killing the country. Day by day, week by week, we’re tapping away on the flag way up in the rigging while the ship sinks below us.