Saturday, June 25, 2011

Republicans Care More about Beating Obama than They Do about Your Job

Ezra Klein likes to say that Mitch McConnell is the most honest man in Washington. In a recent post on bad debt ceiling arguments, Klein writes:

”I actually think it would be easier to pass a comprehensive plan,” he [McConnell] said. “Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill fixed Social Security in 1983. It’s lasted for a generation. Reagan carried 49 of 50 states the next year. They did it together. Reagan and O’Neill did tax reform in 1986, Bill Clinton and Republicans did welfare reform in 1996, and Bill Clinton and Republicans actually balanced the budget for a number of years in the late 1990s.” Aside from welfare reform, every single one of the deals McConnell mentions exchanged spending cuts for tax increases — the very deal McConnell has ruled out in this case.

Besides the obvious smug dishonesty of the turtle-necked Senate minority leader, there's a nugget there that reveals the bigger truth, which is that McConnell doesn't care what happens to the US economy as long as a Republican has a shot at beating Obama in 2012. To do that, Republicans have concluded, we will need another recession or worse.

Remember that McConnell said, "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." McConnell doesn't want the Republican priority to be to help people get jobs, or preserve the jobs we have, or help people keep their homes, or get us off the oil teat. He wants to beat Obama. Most important thing.

So, if you're wondering if we'll see a "comprehensive plan" come out of the debt ceiling hostage situation, go back to the first quote: "Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill fixed Social Security in 1983. It’s lasted for a generation. Reagan carried 49 of 50 states the next year." So, if the Republicans and Democrats reached some kind of "comprehensive plan," then, McConnell's reading of history suggests that Obama would win next year by a landslide. And he's already made it clear that the Republicans don't want that. Ergo, no comprehensive plan.

It's really quite simple. Republicans represent rich people. Rich people are richer now than they've ever been. They can survive another recession or even depression. They live in gated communities with private security, schools, etc. They really don't care about the rest of us. In my old labor union, we had a phrase to describe these greedy people: "I got mine. Fuck you."

And fuck us they will. Meanwhile some poor people, minorities, union members, and other folks who will be getting fucked still vote Republican because they believe the lies: Obama is coming for their guns, even rape and incest victims should be forced to give birth, we should all practice Biblical marriage, or some other theocratic bullshit. Bigots will vote for the Confederate Party, even it means the loss of their job and their home.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Republicans Who Never Worked Hard Want to Cut Social Security

Funny, you just don't see Democrats lining up to make cuts in Social Security, but a Growing Chorus Of Republicans Demand Social Security Cuts In Deficit Deal:

Add Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) to the list of Republican lawmakers unsatisfied with the party's reluctance to back Social Security cuts.

The longtime Senator, who will retire at the end of her term in 2012, called on both parties to include the program in debt ceiling talks on Tuesday in a speech at the Heritage Foundation. She's releasing her own legislation to spur talks, a bill that would raise the retirement age gradually to 69 and reduce benefits by trillions over the next several decades by pegging the annual cost-of-living- adjustment (COLA) to one percent below inflation every year.

I hear guys in my old union bad mouth "both parties" on Social Security, but it's really only Republicans who want to "save" the program by raising the retirement age and reducing the COLAs. But this isn't surprising. Al Gore wanted to protect Social Security in a "lock box", but he's fat. George W Bush wanted to give Social Security to Wall Street, and we see how that would have worked out.

But there's something bigger here: people who get paid a lot of money to sit on their asses are essentially saying to all the Americans who bust their asses for a living that they should have to keep up the back-breaking work for a few more years, and then get less money when they do retire. I say make Kay Bailey Hutchison work with a shovel or a hammer for a year and then see what she thinks about raising the retirement age.

Maybe then she could use her calloused hands to sign on to a deal that removes the income cap on Social Security taxes (income over $107,000 a year is not taxed).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reading Can Expand Your Mind: Idiocracy Edition

Hunter, as usual, is worth the read:

I am more bothered by the notion of conservative legislators that we as a nation do not need to make progress than by any specific successes or failures in actually progressing. The conservative plan for the end of readily available oil is either to ignore it or demand we drill the remaining stuff out faster: there is no plan B. The conservative plan for creating jobs is not "tax cuts", because we now have all lived through an unimpeachable real-world demonstration that those tax cuts didn't create any damn jobs, but to tell us all that we need to suck it up and expect nothing better. The plan for health care is to have less health care. The plan for our infrastructure is to not have a plan, because that costs money. There is no vision of a future America that does anything any better than we do right now: instead, there is an active hunger to do each thing slightly worse.

It seems that the gated communities think the food trucks will brave what's left of future America to keep their grocery store shelves full, the way fuel trucks wind through Pakistan and Afghanistan today. It seems the gated communities think people will continue to put up with the kind of Randian fantasy world the "conservatives" have planned: hatred, violence, and austerity for all but the gated community dwellers.

Are any of us surprised? No, not really. The 1980's gave us a nice big helping of the same, under the label greed is good. Now we're just doubling down, saying no – greed is literally good. And as corollary, poverty is immoral. And as further corollary, helping people who are in poverty is Wrong. All of this is fine and good and espoused by people who declare themselves to be the bestest kind of Christians, and wear prominent crosses, and argue that the black fellow in the White House does not really love Jesus.
This long brewing conservative contempt for the poor is now boiling over, with poor people who hate abortion or black people or hippies lining up to get in on the punch fest, oblivious to the fact that they, too, are being punched. And when they finally stagger back to their corner and demand to be cut so they can see, they will not see past their hatred, not even to save themselves from the corporate masters and beltway elites whose rush into the global economy means that America matters even less, despite hollow claims of exceptionalism from the likes of Sarah Palin, et al.

That is, until the gated community dwellers (with their private schools, police, and fire departments) realize that they have to live somewhere that has roads and bridges leading to them, if only to get food to their grocery stores. Oh, and farms, they'll need those. And plenty of poor people to cut their hair, clean their toilets, mow their yards, teach their kids creationism and Exxon/Mobile approved science... And those poor people will need some bare minimum to survive on, you know, because the Bible says you should be good to your slaves. Or something.

And, in this recession, it accelerates. And the laws get changed so that the rich have more power, and the poor have less. And the very serious financial gurus declare that the rich need their losses to be financed by the rest of us, but the rest of us will be getting no such help from the rich. Tax cuts for them; belt-tightening for everyone else.
And a large part of the population laps this up, and dresses up in revolutionary war garb, and waves flags, and celebrates every damn bit of it. Then they take buses provided by the lobbyists arguing for the rich to go to conferences sponsored by lobbyists for the rich, where they all vow to take their country back, learn how to edit videotape, and feel patriotic as all get out.

As long as there are enough people willing to be herded into supporting the rich, this will continue. Frightening proportions of Americans believe all kinds of right wing lies: that the earth is not warming, that the universe is 6000 years old, that homosexuality is a choice, that Saddam Hussein attacked us on 9-11, and that forcing women to give birth is sound medical policy. How much harder can it be to convince them that tax cuts for the rich increase revenue and create jobs? How hard can it be to convince them that some country is a threat, so we need start a war?

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."—HG Wells

It all comes down to ignorance, which is why Republicans want to gut Public Education. People who are aware of things like history, science, and facts are the most dangerous to a plutocracy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Death in the Streets

Ezra Klein has a great piece on smart cuts to Medicaid. He apparently thinks that Republicans will get on board because:

"Shifting costs won’t work because we’re too decent a nation to let these people die in the streets."

A quick search shows me that an astoundingly large number of homeless people die in the US every year. I'm sure some of them have some sort of health coverage, but still, death in the streets is actually pretty common.

It's just that one political party would like to do something smart to stop it, and the other thinks the planet is getting colder and the universe is 6000 years old.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are People Who Use the Bible to Defend Bigotry also Pro-slavery?

Slavery and the Bible: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ. Eph.6:5"

And that's the New Testament!

Our New York State Senator, James L. Seward, is against gay marriage. Like most bigots, I assume he uses the Bible as his defense for discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation. Since Senator Seward wants to use the Bible as a basis for our laws, I'm anxious to hear his forthcoming defense of slavery.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The "Both Parties Suck" Mentality is Really Bad for Workers

Those who say both parties suck should note that only one US Political Party supports the right of workers to organize into unions. In fact, the other, i.e. the Republican Party, is actively taking away the right of people to collectively bargain for a good wage, easing child labor laws, and even ranting about the evils of a minimum wage.

Remember the Battle of Blair Mountain and all the other struggles workers went through in this country when you go to the ballot box.

The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the biggest civil uprisings in the United States history and the largest armed insurrection since the American Civil War.[1] For five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, between 10,000 and 15,000 coal miners confronted an army of police and strikebreakers backed by coal operators during a struggle by the miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. Their struggle ended only after approximately one million rounds were fired,[2] and the United States Army intervened by presidential order.

People fought and died for American Workers to have rights like 8 hour days, weekends, minimum wages, and unions. The least any of us can do, but especially union members, is to remember those people who fought for our rights against powerful corporations, and to vote for the people most likely to make sure we retain those rights.

Of course, there are a lot of other reasons to vote for Democrats, not the least of which is that we tend to have at least a basic understanding and respect for science. But most of all, just look at what George Bush did. Seriously. The Republicans had their chance, they ran things the way they wanted, and it was a disaster of epic proportions. GW Bush is the modern Hoover, and here we are in a Great Recession started by GOP ideology. It doesn't work. Tax cuts for the rich don't create jobs (in fact, George Bush had the worst job creation record since Hoover). Deregulation and privatization create corruption and legalized theft. Pollution increases health care costs.

Democrats, for all their faults, did not cause our current troubles. Republicans did.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Republicans are Stubborn: James Arness Edition

RIP: James Arness.

Held the record for the longest continuous role portrayed by a single actor (20 years) on prime-time television (for Marshal Matt Dillon on the CBS western "Gunsmoke" (1955)), until Kelsey Grammer (Dr. Frasier Crane on "Cheers" (1982) and "Frasier" (1993)) tied the record in 2004 (at 20 years).

Why is it that the two actors who've played the same character on TV the longest are both Republicans?

James Arness "...had the pleasure of knowing Ronald Reagan before he became Governor of California." Before becoming governor of California, Ronald Reagan was President of the Screen Actors Guild.

Side note: I once listened to Kelsey Grammer bad mouth unions while I was placing a mic on him, and my reply was, "Well, we can't all be rich Republicans."

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Flaming Feces: Romney Lies about the Bush Economy

Republicans don't care about facts. One of the important facts of economics is that a lot of economic indicators, like unemployment and food stamp use, are lagging indicators. That means they get bad AFTER an economic disaster.

What Romney calls the Obama Economy is really what's left of the failed Republican experiment in supply-side bullshit undertaken during the Bush Administration, in which we had massive tax cuts for the rich that were supposed to create jobs that resulted in an economy shedding jobs to the tune of 750,000 per month when Obama took over.

Furthermore, the debt, which Romney and his magic underwear are trying to also blame on Obama, was mostly created by the Bush tax cuts, two unpaid for wars, and a Medicare prescription drug benefit the total cost of which the Bushies lied about, and for which we have not paid.

That's a lot of failure under Bush that Romney, of course, wants to put in a paper bag, light on fire, and place on Obama's doorstep. So, there's Obama, stomping out the shit fire, and Romney sitting back saying it's Obama's shit, when it's really George W. Bush's.