Monday, July 25, 2011

Republicans Won't Vote to Cover the Debt they Voted for

Ezra says:

Raise the debt limit by $1.9 trillion. This is the amount by which the debt limit would have to be raised to implement the House Republican budget through 2012. Those who voted for this budget, which includes all but five members of the Republican caucus, explicitly endorsed policies that would produce this amount of additional debt. So there should be no dispute about having to raise the debt limit accordingly.

That's right. All but five of the current House Republicans voted for a budget that causes almost $2 trillion in debt, but they won't vote to pay for that debt.

I am so sick of the "both sides do it" bullshit. There is only one side that is refusing to raise the debt that they actually approved. Only one side is being so childish that they would sink the freaking boat rather than make one single billionaire get his hands wet by bailing out the water.

The fact that more white people are identifying as Republicans now, when Republicans are really showing off their stupid, just proves that it's racism that's driving the Republican hatred of Obama. What else could be driving white people (not minorities) to self-identify with a party that votes for debt then refuses to cover it, that denies global warming and evolution, that starts trillion dollar wars based on lies, and thinks anyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to burn in hell for eternity?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bachmann's Headaches

I think Michele Bachmann will be the GOP nominee. She will likely get Palin's endorsement. She can raise serious money from the tea bagees. And she's as far right as the rest of the Republican base, therefore a natural fit. The only thing that can stop her would be a bunch of evangelical nutcases and genocidal maniacs holding their noses and voting for the rich Mormon because they think he has a better chance of beating Obama.

But I don't think that having migraines means she shouldn't be president. And if a bunch of knuckle draggers in the GOP can ignore their own arguments about Obama's lack of executive experience, then by all means they should nominate the woman.

But the fact that she does get migraines got me to thinking. If there is a God, maybe he/she/it is talking to her. Maybe the migraines are a sign that she's got all this God stuff wrong. Maybe God is trying to tell Bachmann, by giving her such painful headaches, that she shouldn't be such a bigot.

Just a thought.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ken Go Predicted this Years Ago

A long time ago, at the beginning of the Bush era (the age of irresponsibility), my old friend Ken Go, a southern California mortgage broker, told me that a frighteningly large chunk of consumer spending was being fed by home equity. He said when this stopped, it would be disastrous for the economy.

How the Bursting of the Consumer Bubble Continues to Hold the Economy Back -

"Earlier this year, Charles M. Holley Jr., the chief financial officer of Wal-Mart, said that his company had noticed consumers were often buying smaller packages toward the end of the month, just before many households receive their next paychecks. “You see customers that are running out of money at the end of the month,” Mr. Holley said.

In past years, many of those customers could have relied on debt, often a home-equity line of credit or a credit card, to tide them over. Debt soared in the late 1980s, 1990s and the last decade, which allowed spending to grow faster than incomes and helped cushion every recession in that period."

I haven't asked Ken what he's been seeing in his crystal ball lately, but I'm sure it's not good. My guess is that a lot of demand is building up in the system as cars and refrigerators get old and need replacing, but who knows how long we could go before that demand starts seeing its way back into the system. I certainly don't see it happening until people who are upside down on their mortgages get right-side-up again.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Last 11 Years of Republican History

Disenfranchise voters. Steal election. Deficits don't matter. Deregulate everything. Ignore terrorism. Bullhorn promise. Tora Bora. Eliminate Surplus. War of lies. Eliminate middle class. War crimes. The rich get much richer. Ignore Bin Laden. Heck of a job. Financial disaster. Little Depression. Millions of foreclosures. Children left behind. Blame Obama.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Bachmann's Dog Whistle Politics: Concern Trolling Black People

Michele Bachmann jumped at the chance to sign Bob Vander Plaats's Marriage Vow, which includes this ear piercing statement:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA's first African-American President.

Any time a Republican talks about slavery, you should pay close attention. And, what's up with singling out Obama for the time frame reference? Has the rate of single parent black families gone up since Obama became president? According to the Annie E Casey foundation's Kid's Count, 67% of African American children lived in a single parent household in 2009.  In 2008, under President Bush, it was 65%. Not a really big difference, so why mention Obama? Maybe Vander Plaats has some of these suddenly politically involved people working for him:

Some Neo-Nazis have also quietly been joining national campaigns and offices to start sharpening their political teeth, he claims.  “We have people working with the most recent incoming class of freshmen in the House,” says Culpepper. “And they don’t even know it.”

To be kind to Vander Plaats, I suppose his group is simply trying to state, in stark terms, how bad it is that so many black children have to grow up with only one parent these days. It's so bad, in fact, that it should be compared to the "disasterous impact" of slavery. Sure, it's hyperbole, but they're trying to use "facts" to make a point. Since Republicans aren't used to working with real facts, I will try to help them out.

First of all, the footnote to that dog whistle sends one off to an Institute for American Values publication, The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans. Since no page number is given, I looked at all references to slavery and could only find data referring to 1880. So, right off the bat, it seems Vander Plaat has done what Republicans love to do: he made shit up.

Also, consider the source. The Institute for American Values was founded by David Blankenhorn, who made the news just the other day with this gem that many Mormons will just love:

David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values in New York, said polygamy was more in line with core values than same-sex marriage. At least polygamists, he said, were faithful to the concept of a union between man and woman.

How is marrying many women faithful to the concept of a union between a man and a woman (singular)? Maybe because regular sex with different women is less icky to him than gay sex. Of course, the Bible has all kinds of fun marriage types that are approved by God, and polygamy is one of them.

Next, it seems that Vander Plaats completely ignored the question of mixed race children of slaves, of which there were many.

The Southern author Mary Chesnut wrote in her famous A Diary from Dixie of the Civil War-era about the hypocrisy of a woman's recognizing white men's children among the slaves in every household but her own. Fanny Kemble, the British actress who married an American slaveholder, wrote about her observations of slavery as well, including the way white men used slave women and left their mixed-race children enslaved.

It's obvious that, since the master and father of this slave didn't live in the slave housing with the mother, this child was not living with both parents.

Actual facts about slavery put the Vander Plaats quote in some context. Since it seems that what he and Presidential candidates Bachmann and Rick Santorum believe is that children are better off with two parents in the house: so much better off, in fact, that a child born a slave in 1860 would be better off (because she had two parents) than a child born today who is living with only one parent. So, here are a few facts about slave children that will make it obvious to anyone what a huge dog whistle this is (note that just a few days ago, I predicted Bachmann would start blowing the dog whistles):

Most infants were weaned within three or four months.
Half of all slave babies died in the first year of life--twice the rate for white babies.
The average birth weight of slave infants was less than 5.5 pounds.
Children entered the labor force as early as 3 or 4. Some were taken into the master's house to be servants while others were assigned to special children's gangs called "trash gangs," which swept yards, cleared drying cornstalks from fields, chopped cotton, carried water to field hands, weeded, picked cotton, fed work animals, and drove cows to pasture.
By age 7, over 40 percent of the boys and half the girls had entered the work force. At about 11, boys began to transfer to adult field jobs.
Nearly a third of slave laborers were children...
Diarrhea, dysentery, whooping cough, and respiratory diseases as well as worms pushed the infant and early childhood death rate of slaves to twice that experienced by white infants and children.

So, things really sucked for slave children in 1860, but, hey, they were living with both parents! Yay! Ponies and glitter! On a side note, the current Republican Governor of Maine might like the child labor practices of that day, and Bachmann's dislike of the minimum wage law certainly seems like a hearkening back to the day when the job creators weren't hampered by pesky regulations regarding the welfare of the workers.

Anyone aware of the southern strategy will know damn well what Vander Plaats and Bachmann are up to here. Remember what Lee Attwater said:

You start out in 1954 by saying, "Nigger, nigger, nigger." By 1968, you can't say "nigger" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "Nigger, nigger."

Lee Attwater's boss in the Reagan administration, Ed Rollins, is Michele Bachmann's campaign manager. So, it's not much of a stretch to realize that when they "sit around saying" black children had a better chance of having two parents when they were slaves, they're not being very abstract at all.

Monday, July 04, 2011

A Radical Republican Didn't Want Future Congresses Defaulting on Our Debt

Yglesias, in asking who our political heroes are, suggested the Radical Republicans of the 1860's and 70's deserve a little more mention. So I found it interesting that, when I was reading Jack Balkan's piece about how section 4 of the 14th Amendment came to be, I came across this quote from Senator Benjamin Wade, a Radical Republican from the Reconstruction Era:

[The proposed amendment] puts the debt incurred in the civil war on our part under the guardianship of the Constitution of the United States, so that a Congress cannot repudiate it. I believe that to do this wil give great confidence to capitalists and will be of incalculable pecuniary benefit to the United States, for I have no doubt that every man who has property in the public funds will feel safer when he sees that the national debt is withdrawn from the power of a Congress to repudiate it and placed under the guardianship of the Constitution than he would feel if it were left at loose ends and subject to the varying majorities which may arise in Congress.

Now, today's radical Republicans (who are really quite the opposite of the ones from the 1860's) love to talk about the original intent of those who wrote the Constitution. Of course, they will not look into the intent of Sen. Wade, because it suggests that their little temper tantrum in regards to the debt ceiling is unconstitutional. Of course, today's Republicans aren't big fans of the 14th Amendment in general (e.g., Rand Paul, who has promised to filibuster the debt ceiling bill), so I'm sure they'll either ignore this inconvenient fact, or just lie about it.

Balkan lays the whole thing right in their modern laps:

Like most inquiries into original understanding, this one does not resolve many of the most interesting questions. What it does suggest is an important structural principle. The threat of defaulting on government obligations is a powerful weapon, especially in a complex, interconnected world economy. Devoted partisans can use it to disrupt government, to roil ordinary politics, to undermine policies they do not like, even to seek political revenge. Section Four was placed in the Constitution to remove this weapon from ordinary politics.

Because sending this thing to Anthony Kennedy to decide would be too much for Wall Street to bear, I figure the Democrats will cave to Republican hostage taking and pay the ransom (trillions in cuts to the middle class and poor, while the rich get richer).  What a shame that we're not on better financial footing right now, because this is one constitutional showdown that really should happen. Either we're good for our debt, or we're not, and leaving that up to the whim of people who, like Michele Bachman, have a tenuous grasp of history and economics at best, is just stupid.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

John Jay was a Founding Father against Slavery

Michele Bachmann should look up John Jay. But she won't. He was one of our founding fathers who, along with Hamilton, advocated for a strong, centralized federal government. He co-wrote the federalist papers. So, apparently, the Republican rule of Never Praise a Big Government Liberal is in effect here, although Bachmann's example of an anti-slavery founder (even though he wasn't a founder), John Quincy Adams, isn't exactly someone modern conservatives would like:

He supported internal improvements (roads, ports and canals), a national university, and federal support for the arts and sciences. He favored a high tariff to encourage the building of factories, and restricted land sales to slow the movement west. Opposition from the states' rights faction quickly killed the proposals.

Bachmann's statement that the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery is, of course, wrong. The majority of the FF's voted to continue slavery, as we see enshrined in the Constitution's three-fifths clause. John Jay didn't sign the Declaration of Independence and didn't attend the constitutional convention. But he was a founding father. And he was against slavery.

Jay was a leader against slavery after 1777, when he drafted a state law to abolish slavery; it failed as did a second attempt in 1785.[63] Jay was the founder and president of the New York Manumission Society, in 1785, which organized boycotts against newspapers and merchants in the slave trade and provided legal counsel for free blacks claimed as slaves.[64] The Society helped enact the gradual emancipation of slaves in New York in 1799, which Jay signed into law as governor.

The interesting point here is that Bachmann could easily put this to rest with a little research, but instead just makes shit up. That makes her a typical Republican.

This is, of course, the obligatory slavery bashing from a member of the Confederate Party who is desperate to sound like she's not a racist. Now that she's assured us that she's against actually owning people, I suspect this means there's going to be a tirade of tall tales to come regarding Kenyan anti-colonialism, welfare queens, affirmative action, hate crime legislation, and assorted Willie Hortonisms. This bumbling bullshit from Bachmann is the equivalent of her saying, "I'm not a racist, but..."

Then she will proceed to blow the dog whistles as loudly as she can, while cleaning up in the heavily Evangelical southern primaries (where she will not mention slavery, of course). If she can keep raising money as well as she has been, she will be the GOP nominee. And, having gotten that whole opposition to slavery thing out of the way already (lest anyone doubt that she detests that which the Bible says is OK), she will be free to advocate more prisons, harsher federal sentencing laws, cuts in social programs for the poor, union-busting, pro-corporate deregulation and privatization schemes, and a whole host of other GOP greatest hits that got us where we are today: a country of prisoners and wage slaves.

“It's really an extension of what they've always been trying to do since slavery—to find a way to get the cheapest labor legal or illegal so they can make the most profit possible,” argued Mr. Muhammad.

“Literally, if we took away the minimum wage — if conceivably it was gone — we could potentially virtually wipe out unemployment completely because we would be able to offer jobs at whatever level.”

Of course, if she did get elected, followed the dictates of the corporate overlords, and got rid of the minimum wage, she may have to rethink that whole opposition to slavery thing.