17 December, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

For those of you annoyed enough with Dems to consider swinging to the Cons instead, I have a few things for you to consider.  Such as, GOP priorities:
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) office is already slamming the new jobs bill proposed by Democrats, but, to its credit, the Whip's office is getting specific in its objections.

For example, Cantor pointed to several key provisions favored by Democrats that he considers worthy of criticism, including "extension of unemployment benefits through June of 2010;" "extension of COBRA subsidies through June of 2010;" and "extension of the refundable child tax credit to those with income less than $3,000."

Now, to be clear, Cantor isn't questioning the funding within these programs -- he hasn't, in other words, said that there's waste or abuse in COBRA subsidies -- he's criticizing the funding for the programs themselves.
Dave Weigel was surprised to see Cantor's admission.
Those are all pretty popular programs, and ones that voters would notice if they suddenly vanished. Attacking this stuff -- and implying that a Republican majority would cut off these benefits -- is something an opposition party can do, but something very hard to imagine a Republican congressional majority getting away with. See 1995 for evidence.

It's a surprisingly helpful preview of what the public could expect if Republicans reclaim the House majority in next year's midterms. When GOP leaders talk about "cutting spending," they usually pretty vague. Cantor is offering a reminder of what he and his colleagues will target: the safety net Americans rely on when they're most vulnerable.
Dems may be making a dog's breakfast of health care reform, but at least they're not all frothing insane fools who believe in robbing from the poor to feed the rich.

And don't tell me you're fool enough to believe the Cons have the answers to all our financial woes.  If you are, I have a chart you should look closely at:
Republican lawmakers and far-right activists have suddenly discovered, after eight years of dramatic fiscal irresponsibility, that they care deeply about deficit reduction again. Worse, they're absolutely convinced that President Obama and those free-spending Democrats are responsible, putting a terrible burden on future generations.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report today, analyzing the existing deficit in detail, and what factors created it. Here's hoping Republicans and Teabaggers are paying attention.
Some critics charge that the new policies pursued by President Obama and the 111th Congress generated the huge federal budget deficits that the nation now faces. In fact, the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the economic downturn together explain virtually the entire deficit over the next ten years.

The deficit for fiscal 2009 was $1.4 trillion and, at an estimated 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was the largest deficit relative to the size of the economy since the end of World War II. Under current policies, deficits will likely exceed $1 trillion in 2010 and 2011 and remain near that figure thereafter.
The events and policies that have pushed deficits to astronomical levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration's control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the Presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that began during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.

Do try to keep the above in mind when people are screaming "The deficit!  The deficit!  We're all doomed!" in your ear.  It ain't Dems who got us in to that mess, and it sure as shit ain't Cons who're gonna get us out.

And if you live in Florida's 22nd District and feel just mentally incompetent enough to consider voting for a Con despite all evidence that this is a bad fucking idea, consider who you'd be voting for:

Allen West, a Republican candidate for the swing seat of the 22nd Congressional District in Florida, is making a bold declaration against the party becoming more open to moderation.

"There are three words I hate to hear used. I hate big-tent. I hate inclusiveness. And I hate outreach," West told the Weekly Standard, in a new profile piece. "I think you stand on the principles that make you great, which transcend everybody in America, and people will come to it."

You may wonder what those principles that make him so much greater than everybody in America are.  They seem to have something to do with living the Jack Bauer dream:
West is a retired Army colonel, who was forced into his retirement after a 2003 incident in which he, as the Standard puts it, "conducted a harsh interrogation" on an Iraqi police officer, in which West fired his gun near the man's head.
Mind you, this is the Standard only able to downplay his conduct by calling it "harsh interrogation."  Consider the fact that it was ostensibly legal to waterboard prisoners, subject them to stress positions, sleep deprivation, and all manner of other acts of torture, and then consider the fact that this fucker got forced out for being too violent. Forgive me for thinking there might be a wee bit more to it than discharging a firearm next to a man's head, even though that's horrific enough (and if you don't think that's violent, ask my father about such experiences.  Just make sure you choose the ear he's not deaf in).

So, there's the GOP's shining example of a man qualified for public office, a man who is not even fit to wear the uniform.  And as if that isn't bad enough, they've got Michael Steele following us around the intertoobz:
This week, the RNC unveiled a new link-shortening tool -- called GOP.am -- that also caused some trouble for the party. (thanks to reader H.H. for the tip)
Possibly the first branded URL shortener, GOP.am was designed by the RNC's new media consultants, Political Media, to work somewhat like bit.ly, in that it shortens URLs so that they can be more easily exchanged through short messaging services like Twitter. Google launched its own URL shortener Monday afternoon, and Facebook now has one, too.
But unlike bit.ly, GOP.am includes a toolbar at the top of the screen that follows users as they click through to see whatever pages the links go to. It also sports an animation of RNC chairman Michael Steele walking around on the lower right as if he's showing off the website -- particularly awkward when that website is the alt.com bondage site.
Yes, it wasn't long after the Republican National Committee launched its link-shortening tool before the fairly obvious misuse of the tool became common. As Wired noted, "Pranksters almost immediately began using the service to link to controversial or ironically intended websites, such as the official site of the American Communist Party, a bondage website and a webpage advertising a sex toy in the likeness of Barack Obama. GOP.am apparently started blocking such links at some point Tuesday morning, and the GOP.am homepage was taken offline."

These fuckers can't even figure out how to run a half-assed website, and they're asking us to put them back in charge of the country again less than a year after breaking it.  The mind boggles.

And while Steele stalks us on the intertoobz, a top GOP official in Arizona's busy stalking women IRL:

The executive director of the Arizona GOP used a Republican voter database to stalk a female grad student, the woman has alleged in a criminal complaint.

The complaint, filed last month with the local sheriff's office and reported by the Huffington Post, alleges that Brett Mecum "is using Voter Vault to stalk." That's the sophisticated voter-targeting program that the GOP uses to turn its supporters out to the polls.

The woman charges that on August 29, she was having a party at home to celebrate her acceptance into an East Coast graduate school, when Mecum showed up uninvited. According to the affidavit, which HuffPo has posted:

I did not invite Brett Mecum. He is rather creepy and intimidating around women. I did not want to expose my guests to that kind of individual. I was shocked to see him show up at my party. He had never been to my house, and I had never told him where I lived. I asked him how he found my address, and he responded "I looked it up on Voter Vault, I called a staffer to look it up for me there."
The woman, whose name was redacted from the complaint, said she felt threatened, and appeared to charge that other women have similarly been stalked.

I am concerned for my safety and the safety of other women who have either been or might be stalked by him using Voter Vault. Like me, they were likely threatened by him if they report his harassment and are afraid to come forward.
On that score, HuffPo's Dawn Teo reports:

I have been speaking with local Republican women who approached me with disturbing stories of unwanted sexual advances, persistent harassment, and intimidation by Mecum and some of Mecum's friends.
Did his colleagues react with horror?  Did they denounce the alleged behavior?  Did they at least, even if they defended their belief in Mecum's innocence, say the right things about how such behavior would be totally and completely beyond the pale?

Silly people.  These are ConsOf course they didn't:

Here's what party chair Randy Pullen, who is also the treasurer of the Republican National Committee, told an Arizona political site about the claim that Mecum had used Voter Vault to find the woman's address:

The Republican National Committee owns Voter Vault ... It's a private list. We own the list. We can do what we want with the list, quite frankly.
It's a felony to use a voter registration database for anything other than official purposes. In Arizona, it can get you a couple years of prison time, according to The Huffington Post.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a beautiful example of Con entitlement thinking.

And the sociopathic tendencies don't stop there.  Sheriff Joe's on a tear.  First, he's not impressed with lawsuits and questions of common decency - he's gonna force whatever he wants on those inmates:
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, run by the controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, released a “news brief” this week announcing that it will be forcing the system’s 8,000 inmates to listen to “Christmas music” during the holiday season, even though the Arpaio has faced six lawsuits over the issue in the past two years. From the statement (written in Christmas-themed red and green fonts):

Arpaio's Christmas Order

Arpaio claims that “[h]oliday music from all countries and faiths” will be represented in the play list, but he repeatedly refers to “Christmas music,” which of course excludes many faiths. According to ABC News, Arpaio said that “for agnostics,” he would “mix in the singing Chipmunks” — who also presumably sing Christmas carols. “We can’t say ‘Merry Christmas’ in the U.S., in the world anymore,” said Arpaio, fulling joining in the War on Christmas. “What are we coming to? I am saying it. I am singing it. It’s gonna be in this jail, and that’s the way the ball bounces.”

If this drives the prisoners to riot this holiday season, I think everybody will understand and empathize. 

As if that's not enough, Arpaio's also busy siccing his goons on local judges who don't agree with him.  Proper little dictator, he thinks he is.  Arizona: time to take out the trash.  I'm sure that you can make a saner choice than Sheriff Joe.  Get this bastard out of power and in jail where he belongs, please.

Sociopaths and economic disaster makers and Teabaggers, oh, my.  Welcome to today's GOP.

No matter how much the Dems piss me off, I'll still be happy to vote for them.  Or, at least, their primary opponents.  The alternative just doesn't bear thinking about.

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