Lemkin

Gone To Since 1984

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.

George Carlin

  • December 9, 2011 4:16 pm

    A Jobs Pipeline

    This kind of crap (linking the payroll tax cut extension to the Keystone XL pipeline) is precisely why we’d be better off as a nation if Obama had come to the Rose Garden back on Day Two and announced his immutable opposition to wind power, trains, mass transit of any kind, single payer health care, mortgage adjustments and cram-down, and massive civil and criminal penalties for the banksters in general and claw-back of Wall Street salaries specifically. Had he done so, odds are at least two or three of these items would have gotten done per “give us x or we destroy the country” showdowns. With a heavy heart he’d show up and sign the dreaded bill(s). By now he’d have a legislative record on par with the New Deal and the Great Society and would be hard pressed to find new things to “oppose.”

    We are in an era in which whatever the President is for, the GOP is against. If it angers the dirty fucking hippies, then so much the better. They don’t even hide it anymore. Here’s Ohio’s Representative Jim Jordan:

    “Frankly, the fact that the president doesn’t like [the Keystone XL project] makes me like it even more’’

    It is long past time to plan accordingly and make them pay political prices for this. Over and over again. Start picking the things they love the most and convert them into policy proposals that you can live with or even like. Come out for them. Propose the legislation. Force votes. Make ads about the inevitable “flip flop” in their districts. All 50 states. Lather, rinse, repeat.

  • October 7, 2011 4:37 pm

    "Fox wants to cut our salaries in half because it says it can’t afford to continue making [The Simpsons] under what it calls the existing business model. Fox hasn’t explained what kind of new business model it has formulated to keep the show on the air, but clearly the less money they have to pay us in salary, the more they’re able to afford to continue broadcasting the show. And to this I say, fine — if pay cuts are what it will take to keep the show on the air, then cut my pay. In fact, to make it as easy as possible for Fox to keep new episodes of “The Simpsons” coming, I’m willing to let them cut my salary not just 45% but more than 70% — down to half of what they said they would be willing to pay us. All I would ask in return is that I be allowed a small share of the eventual profits.

    My representatives broached this idea to Fox yesterday, asking the network how low a salary number I would have to accept to make a profit participation feasible. My representatives were told there was no such number. There were, the Fox people said, simply no circumstances under which the network would consider allowing me or any of the actors to share in the show’s success."

    Harry Shearer makes a fantastic point in his statement about the ongoing negotiations around the 24th (sigh) season of The Simpsons.
    I post this because it fairly precisely captures one of the core issues that’s grown quite pervasive in the country at the moment and is a key fact of current US society that the MSM categorically refuses to admit about the dirty fucking hippies, er, Occupy Wall Street folks.
    The voice talent on this show self-admittedly make good money under the current contract terms; however, it’s a fraction of what the folks “upstairs” make off the back end of the show, a back end to which they, the folks upstairs, have contributed nothing (or at most: vanishingly little).
    Faced with an entirely reasonable request that would a) keep the gravy train going —and— b) dramatically cut current salaries in exchange for a vanishingly small sliver of the real profits of the enterprise, they respond: “Nooo, I’d still prefer not.”
    I guess it’s very hard to hear anyone when you’re wearing a jacuzzi suit

  • August 31, 2011 1:43 pm

    "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 Benen reads 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.

  • August 11, 2011 10:43 am

    Cokie’s Law vs. Social Security

    Dean Baker at Beat the Press:

    … it was incredibly irresponsible for NPR to tell listeners in its top of the hour news segment that the market plunged because Standard and Poor’s downgrade of U.S. debt. NPR does not know this to be true and it certainly is not obviously the case.

    The market that should have been most immediately affected by the S&P downgrade was the U.S. bond market. However bond prices soared in the trading immediately following the downgrade and continued to rise through Wednesday. If there was greater fear that the U.S. would default because of the downgrade, then bond prices should have plunged as investors demanded a higher risk premium. This did not happen.

    The most obvious alternative explanation for the plunge in the market is the risk that the euro could break up as the debt crisis spread from relatively countries like Greece and Ireland, to the euro zone giants, Spain and Italy. The prospect of a euro zone break-up raises a real risk of a Lehman-type freeze up of the world financial system. It is far more plausible that this prospect led to the plunge in the stock market than the downgrade by one of three major credit rating agencies.

    This point is important because many political actors, including National Public Radio, are trying to use the debt downgrade as an argument for cutting Social Security and Medicare. Their argument will be furthered if they can claim that the downgrade had enormous consequences for the stock market, since so many people involved in political debates (i.e. columnists, policy wonks, reporters, congressional staffers) have substantial amounts of money invested in the stock market.

    This is exactly right. All this nonsense about S&P’s downgrade “causing” movement in the US stock market (which, as far as the MSM is concerned, is entirely comprised of the Dow Jones index) is wrong. Foolish, even. This has been reported occasionally, and NPR and other political actors are at least slightly tempering the “S&P caused it!” meme.

    But it won’t matter. The facts do not matter. Cokie’s Law, the ironclad rule that anything, any information be it merely incorrect or proven to be an outright lie or pure fabrication, once “out there” must be reported as though it is fact. Period. Therefore, as weeks and months pass, the core narrative becomes:

    "S&P downgrade caused massive loss of wealth in DJI; therefore Social Security and Medicare must be cut; elimination is the GOP’s preferred outcome, therefore the "sensible center" is merely devastating cuts followed on every few years with more "sensible" cuts until we reach said elimination. This is the only Serious Position possible on the issue when one considers the facts of the S&P downgrade and its devastating impact on the Dow. Why, some say that as much as $1T in wealth evaporated. We simply must act to cut Social Security. Everyone knows it is the problem here.”

    There will be nothing else. No other opinion will be allowed, and if directly challenged by the reality of the situation, reporters and pundits will characterize the truth as simply one other fringe “opinion” that the dirty fucking hippies are pushing again, and no better or worse than the obvious fallacy that was created by them simply because said fallacy has been widely reported. When (and if) directly challenged on the ontogeny of said MSM-created fallacy, they will elect to “leave it there,” declare it “complicated,” or, in the case of Cokie herself, sputter about it being “out there.” You heard it here first.

  • August 9, 2011 11:17 am

    S&GOP

    Ezra Klein:

    My hunch is that S&P was making a political argument and felt the need to cast it as deficit arithmetic. Then, when their arithmetic proved wrong, they were left looking foolish. As it stands, you actually can’t coherently merge the first and second versions of S&P’s explanation of the downgrade. That should tell you something about how rigorous their framework is, even if doesn’t obviate the still-legitimate points they made about our political system.

    I think Ezra is fundamentally right here. The problem is this: if S&P set out to make a political point, they did so in such a fumbling manner that the political message, the most important part, was utterly lost. The MSM has a fundamental inability to report on something negative relative to a single party. Obama offered at least four debt ceiling deals, including several that had previously been GOP deals. How was this reported? “Both parties unwilling to compromise; President unwilling to lead and/or deal”
    S&P issues a report castigating GOP intransigence on revenues. Reported: “political system unable to deal with current crisis.”

    If S&P truly intended to make a political point, the report itself needed to be called “The GOP’s Willful Destruction of The American Century” or “Political Nihilism and Today’s GOP: A Downgrade Story” and furthermore needed to be told through colorful pictures and in fewer than 50 words. There’s no way in hell a company like S&P is going to do this; they are fundamentally incapable of really making the political point that they seem to have set out to make, as such moves soon prove to be bad for business. (And don’t think for a moment the GOP will forget this slight. There will be GOP initiated investigations, damaging ones, into S&P at the first available opportunity). Therefore: you don’t do it at all unless you can back it up with hard numbers such that the conclusions are inescapable. Which they also couldn’t do. But that national embarrassment is a whole other post.
    Assuming for the moment that they went there and made the political point utterly and inescapably explicit, even then, it would be hard to get the MSM to report it as such. They’d dodge with a “it’s all very complicated” or “let’s leave it there” or simply book only conservative guests and allow them to talk as long as they want to without challenge or correction. Above all else, they’d avoid any mention of what was actually written in the report. You know: pretty much what’s happened in the last several days.

    Naturally, this all has to transpire alongside the slow-motion European financial collapse and its effect on global markets. Typically “USA über alles" reporting over-stresses the influence, if any, of the downgrade on global events. "Post hoc, ergo procter hoc motherfucker” may as well go on the Times masthead. People are stampeding for Treasuries!!! It must be the downgrade of that instrument’s backing that is causing them to do this!!! (Had the downgrade not occurred, at least FOXnews and maybe the broader media would have blamed the collapse in value on the Presidential birthday BBQ’s failure to durably impact jobs creation). The MSM response? Get some folks on to scream “I blame the Democrat and the dirty fucking hippies for this historic downgrade of the United States and the similarly timed collapse of the global markets. The only response is to slash the social safety net, cut taxes, and increase defense spending. Or a mandatory National Week of Constant Prayer. Whichever.” What other rational approach is even possible?”

    This is why we fail.

  • May 17, 2011 3:22 pm

    "The national debate over economic policy is way off track and the stakes are as high as can be. In every important area of economic and social policy—health care, fiscal policy (deficits, debt, taxes), public investment, retirement security, climate change, education, job growth, income distribution—there’s so much misinformation, so many false assertions, that it is impossible for anyone paying attention to evaluate the choices with which they’re faced.

    […]

    Democrats lately seemed to be trapped in a position that amounts to: “sure, we have to cut and shrink—just not as much as the other guys want.”"

    Jared Bernstein, former White House staffer, on why he left Biden’s office. Thusly does the Overton Window move ever rightward. Bernstein claims he’s come outside to “widen the debate,” but I just don’t see how that’s possible without better Democrats and a major media outlet at one’s behest.
    But: welcome to the forever drug addled world of dirty hippie blogs, my friend.

  • April 19, 2011 10:17 am

    Confessions of a Climate Convert

    Forget all the road to Damascus stuff in the piece, this is what I find important:

    I’d argue that conservatives and libertarians should strongly support regulation to reduce carbon pollution, since pollution by one entity invariably infringes upon the rights of others (including property rights), and no entity has a constitutional right to pollute. It does not put America on the road to serfdom to suggest that the federal government has a compelling interest in protecting the country from ecological damage. If anything, it puts America on the road to common sense.

    Exactly right. This is how Democrats should be messaging on this issue. It removes the ever-present and undeniable impulse in the MSM to punch the dirty fucking hippies whenever possible, the nigh irresistible impulse to note that it “snowed today,” and the much beloved “well, Al Gore sure is fat” gambit and frames the debate in terms even libertarians can understand.

    Part Two of said strategy needs to incorporate the notion that even if we’re 100% wrong these measures will be good for the country and likely even of existential importance relative to our industrial and economic standing in the world. Getting off our oil addiction is, plain and simple, a good idea, no matter what you think the output carbon of our oil economy is doing. We’re going to be getting off of oil sooner or later, may as well start now and be the arbiter or at least one of the arbiters of the post-oil economy. Furthermore, if you want America “making things” again, the most likely and highest value target for said industry is in the post-oil transition. Not only can you sell such technology to the developed world, the whole of the developing world will be knocking at your door as well.
    There is not enough reserve oil in American hands to measurably move the global market, even if we could extract it all tonight. There just isn’t. We wouldn’t even make an appreciable impact on our own rate of import were we to employ all of our oil; even that small but measurable impact would only last for a year or two. We may hold 1-2% of proven world reserves. Period. We cannot and will not ever produce our way off of foreign oil. It is simply not possible given current or projected usage. And, oh by the way, there isn’t enough global capacity either, though only the US military seems willing to admit it publicly.
    The time to start dealing with both the implicit misconception (Drill baby drill!) and the overriding and much more important harsh reality is right now, not 20 years from now when our oil addiction and its impacts is both (still) utterly undeniable and but it is also too late to do anything about it.

  • April 15, 2011 10:41 am

    On Dana Milbank

    First they came for the welfare mothers, but I did not speak out, because I was a member of Skull & Bones.

    Then they came for middle-class manufacturing unions, but I did not speak out, because I had to get to a party at Marty Peretz’s.

    Then they came for the upper middle class people who didn’t have columns in the Washington Post, but I did not speak out, because Dennis Kucinich is short.

    And then they came for me…and I was STILL so fucking stupid that I spent my time making fun of the House Progressive Caucus.

  • January 21, 2011 1:47 pm

    "They don’t want civility. They want silence from the Republicans. And the sitting together being kissy-kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans, and also to show — to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the U.S. House now. Then when people stand up to — what the Democrats are going to be doing when Barack Obama spews out all his venom, then, um, if they’re scattered throughout all the Republicans, then it won’t be as noticeable as if we’re sitting apart. So it is a ruse and I’m not in favor of it and I’m talking about it and I hope other members of the Republican conference in the House will not take the bait."

    Paul Broun (R, GA), truly reveling in the new era of civility. Spewing venom is a good thing in Georgia, right? Jus some ole time plain folk talk. To the dirty fucking hippies in the audience: Broun’s onto you! Hide your stash! It’s a trap!

  • December 29, 2010 10:27 am
    Several of The Big Lies put to, er, lie in one graph.

A) “No jobs have been created in the Obama administration, stimulus or otherwise,” unless, that is, you count all those jobs that have been created. Fewer than necessary to be sure, but indisputably there are jobs being created and tasks done in exchange for money.

B) “Government has exploded in the Obama administration” unless, of course, you exclude temporary census workers or set utterly arbitrary start/end dates to capture peak census-hiring (but not their subsequent and prompt return to zero). In fact, line 3 clearly shows government has indeed gotten smaller (as measured by employment) under Obama. This also holds as a percent of GDP, but that’s another graph.

C) “Government-funded jobs aren’t ‘jobs’ at all,” until you start to think about that line being parallel to the private jobs line, and where that, collectively, would put the overall employment line relative to population growth.
I mean, if you’re going to do crazy things like employ people by funding and then building infrastructure projects until the economy recovers, and then count those people as actually employed, well, then I think we know you’re a dirty fucking hippy who needs to shut the fuck up and worry a lot more about the bond vigilantes who are going to show up any day now to get 10-year bond interest rates up way, way above 2%, you can be sure. So there. Any. Day. Now.

    Several of The Big Lies put to, er, lie in one graph.

    A) “No jobs have been created in the Obama administration, stimulus or otherwise,” unless, that is, you count all those jobs that have been created. Fewer than necessary to be sure, but indisputably there are jobs being created and tasks done in exchange for money.

    B) “Government has exploded in the Obama administration” unless, of course, you exclude temporary census workers or set utterly arbitrary start/end dates to capture peak census-hiring (but not their subsequent and prompt return to zero). In fact, line 3 clearly shows government has indeed gotten smaller (as measured by employment) under Obama. This also holds as a percent of GDP, but that’s another graph.

    C) “Government-funded jobs aren’t ‘jobs’ at all,” until you start to think about that line being parallel to the private jobs line, and where that, collectively, would put the overall employment line relative to population growth.
    I mean, if you’re going to do crazy things like employ people by funding and then building infrastructure projects until the economy recovers, and then count those people as actually employed, well, then I think we know you’re a dirty fucking hippy who needs to shut the fuck up and worry a lot more about the bond vigilantes who are going to show up any day now to get 10-year bond interest rates up way, way above 2%, you can be sure. So there. Any. Day. Now.