23 January, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

I'm sitting in my comfy gliding rocking chair here at home, but that's not the only thing lending to my peace and contentment today. There's also the fact that I'm watching the GOP set itself up for a third catastrophic fail in 2010. It is a cold day in Seattle, but my heart is warm.

I do believe I see now the reason why Cons are so adamantly against any and all gun control. It's because they want plenty of options and ammunition available when they shoot themselves in the foot:

The National Republican Congressional Committee has an "issues" page, which includes the "Economy" on its list. (It's seventh on the page, behind Social Security and Border Security.) The page tells readers, "Thanks to Republican economic policies, the U.S. economy is robust and job creation is strong."

After clicking "read more," we learn all about the NRCC's message on the economy.

Thanks to Republican economic policies, the U.S. economy is robust and job creation is strong.

Republican tax cuts are creating jobs and continuing to strengthen the economy, yet there is still more to do so that every American who wants a job can find one.

The NRCC's site also explains that if we stray from Republican economic ideas, we will "set back our economy."


The DCCC, meanwhile, is having quite a bit of fun with all of this: "I'm sure the millions of Americans struggling to make ends meet in this 'robust' economy are overflowing with gratitude for those Republican economic policies that got us into this mess."

Absolutely priceless.

And so was the NRCC's response. First, it was "our site is under construction," which is pretty rich considering a) the economy is one of the top issues on Americans' minds, so you'd think that maybe that would be a construction priority, and b) "the site was updated as late as yesterday, with…a discussion of Pelosi’s economic policies." Epic fucking fail.

They've since taken it down. So here's a screen shot for posterity:

I wonder how long it will be before this ends up on Fail Blog?

Speaking of fail, Rep. Cantor apparently needs help understanding large numbers:

Today, President Obama held a White House meeting with congressional leaders from both parties to discuss his Recovery and Reinvestment plan. Afterward, Republicans made it clear they were not looking to compromise. Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) circled the cable news shows to mock the plan’s infrastructure spending, fixating on — and lying about — one particular and modest proposal to revitalize the crumbling National Mall, which he falsely claimed would receive more stimulus funds than would small businesses:

When you’re seeing four times as much money spent on grass in Washington — that is actually lawn grass in Washington — than you do to help small businesses, that has your priorities backwards. [MSNBC]

– If you look at the bill that passed the ways and means committee yesterday, for every dollar spent to help small businesses, four dollars is being spent to help upkeep the grass on the lawns of Washington. Again, what does that have to do with a stimulus bill? [Fox News]

Let's do have a look:

Ah. I think I see the problem here. Rep. Cantor is apparently having a hard time understanding that taller columns signify more money. He seems to have latched on to that $20,000 figure without realizing it's in millions. So allow me to translate this for Mr. Cantor: that means small businesses are getting 20 billion dollars in tax cuts. This is on top of the fact that $880 million is more than $200 million, numbnuts.

I hope that clears things up for him.

Cons may want to think thrice before they throw more fits over the stimulus package. For one thing, even conservative Americans loves them some infrastructure spending:
Republican pollster Frank Luntz has been doing similar tests of public opinion, and has found similar results: Americans really care about infrastructure.


Consider this: A near unanimous 94% of Americans are concerned about our nation's infrastructure. And this concern cuts across all regions of the country and across urban, suburban and rural communities.

Fully 84% of the public wants more money spent by the federal government -- and 83% wants more spent by state governments -- to improve America's infrastructure.

How strong is the support? Luntz found that Americans are prepared to pay (cue scary music) higher taxes for more infrastructure investment. Luntz was further shocked to find that three out of four Republicans would accept such a trade off.

Second, the economic news is worse than ever:

I don't know that you could rationally argue anything as a "strong sector" of the economy at this point:

SAN FRANCISCO — Not even high-tech is immune from the economic meltdown.

Despite predictions — wishful thinking? — by some financial analysts that it would remain relatively unscathed, Silicon Valley and the rest of the industry buckled under distressing news Thursday.

Microsoft (MSFT) announced 5,000 layoffs — its biggest cutback ever — and Sony (SNE) said it will report an operating loss for the first time in 14 years: $1.65 billion. A day earlier, Intel said it will close several older factories, displacing 5,000 to 6,000 workers.

It is sobering news for the tech industry, which had resisted the gravitational pull of the tottering economy over the past year as consumers continued to snap up laptops and iPhones.

Not anymore. In the span of several weeks, orders for both business and consumer tech products have cratered, and technology companies began shedding workers.

Third, their obstructionist ways are presenting a deliciously broad target:

One thing that the success of Obama’s agenda will depend on is the help of outside groups that will raise big money to drive his message and to blitz the opposition with TV ads.

I’ve just learned that an ad campaign blitzing a half dozen GOP Senators will be launched in the middle of next week by one such outside group, Americans United For Change, which will air ads for at least four days pressuring the Senators to back Obama’s stimulus package.

The ads will reflect the aggressive style of the group’s chief, Brad Woodhouse, a well-known and hard-edged operative who helped drive the Democratic National Committee’s message during the 2008 election.

“The ads will say, `Senator, you have a stark choice. Are you going to play politics as usual and embrace the failed policies of the past, or will you support the Obama plan?’” says a Democratic operative involved in the project. “Mentioning the Obama plan is central because his approval rating is at 70% or more. In our polling, he is a dominant messenger.”

Fourth, they're opening the way for Obama to ignore them by making ridiculous demands from a position of no power:

Barack Obama has prioritized bipartisan support for an economic stimulus package. But as predicted, it's very difficult to pass a meaningful, effective bill that draws support from congressional Republicans. The president made concessions from the outset -- offering tax cuts to garner GOP backing -- and wouldn't you know it, Republicans aren't satisfied.

Just days after taking office vowing to end the political era of "petty grievances," President Obama ran into mounting GOP opposition yesterday to an economic stimulus plan that he had hoped would receive broad bipartisan support.

Republicans accused Democrats of abandoning the new president's pledge, ignoring his call for bipartisan comity and shutting them out of the process by writing the $850 billion legislation. [...]

Republicans have a long list of grievances. Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who gave Vice President Biden a 17-page list of spending requests, said he opposes the proposed increase in funding for Pell Grants for college students because it would do little to spur short-term economic growth. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) said the plan lacks enough "fast-acting tax relief," such as a temporary halt to payroll taxes and more relief for businesses. Sen. John Thune (S.D.) said the nearly $1 trillion price tag would add too much to a federal deficit that is already predicted to top $1.2 trillion for 2009.

Republicans believe they have not been treated as equal partners in the process, and that conservative ideas aren't being taken seriously. Newsflash: they're right. What Republicans seem to be missing here is that they shouldn't be treated as equal partners -- they're a small congressional minority whose economic ideas helped create the mess Democrats are now trying to clean up.

We're left with the same dynamic that's existed from the beginning of the process: the Obama administration can pursue a better bill that passes with 60 votes, or a weaker bill that passes with 80. The priority should obviously be the quality of the package.

And fifth, they fucking lost:

Jonathan Weisman reports on today's bipartisan stimulus meeting at the White House:

Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”

And that's it. As Steve Benen notes (my emphasis):

In context, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) told the president that the Democratic plan to give a tax credit to those who don't pay income taxes isn't a tax cut, but rather, a check. Obama responded that this was a common point of debate during the presidential campaign -- McCain/Palin called Obama's plan "welfare" -- and voters were not swayed by Republican arguments. "I won," Obama told lawmakers.

So, Obama wasn't throwing too sharp an elbow, but it was nevertheless a not-so-subtle reminder to the minority party. There are two sides to this debate, and one of them has the backing of the American electorate, and was endorsed after a national campaign based on a specific policy platform. Hint to Kyl: it's not your side.

It's good to see that Obama understands that. He's serious about this bipartisan stuff, but not so much that he'll go to utterly ridiculous lengths to satisfy the party that lost two fucking elections in a row.

And if Cons continue to live up to the General Obstruction Party moniker, if they dig in their heels and whine and scream and try to drag the country further down into their mud, they'll keep losing. And losing. And losing. Credibility, arguments, political battles, elections, you name it, they will fucking well lose it.

I've focused on the economic aspects of their inanity today. That is, alas, only a small slice of the enormous bullshit pie of abject dumbfuckery they are engaging in today. I'll have a whole nother post on the theme of national security later. But for now, I just want to leave you with this delight to savor. Think of it as a dinner mint:

With several Senate Republicans recently announcing their retirement, the GOP leadership would presumably encourage all of their remaining incumbents to seek re-election. Apparently, however, there is an exception.

One of the more fascinating campaigns in recent years was Sen. Jim Bunning's (R) re-election fight in Kentucky in 2004. While political observers routinely joke about politicians who are "crazy" or have "lost it," Bunning was one of those rare candidates who actually, literally, seemed to be suffering the effects of dementia. He would fail to show up for campaign events, he skipped a debate he agreed to participate in, and he lied about using a teleprompter in a different debate in which he wasn't supposed to use one. He insisted on traveling with a special police escort, at taxpayer expense, for fear of a terrorist attack.


Four years later, Kentucky Republicans and the NRSC are looking ahead to the 2010 cycle. A growing number of Republicans would love to see Bunning quietly go away.

Some Republicans are privately urging Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) to step down at the end of his term amid growing concerns that he can't win reelection in 2010.

According to two GOP sources, leading Republican fundraisers in Kentucky are hesitant to raise money for Bunning and have told him he should not seek a third term.

"They want him to realize he's had a good run but that it's time to move on. These people want to win, and they realize he could easily lose this seat," said one leading Kentucky Republican operative who requested anonymity to speak candidly.


Expect the pressure on Bunning to retire to get pretty intense. Republicans are already in a state of semi-panic over 2010.

They've certainly got plenty to panic about. And the beauty of it is, they brought it all on themselves.

Update: Speaking of "they brought it on themselves:"

Scott Lilly makes a sharp but important point about congressional conservatives fretting that the stimulus plan isn’t sufficiently fast-acting:

It is unfortunate that government cannot turn on the spigots of job creation more rapidly, and that the damage already done to households and businesses cannot be repaired more quickly. Those were facts that Rep. Lewis and his House Republican colleagues should have weighed more thoughtfully when they blocked a smaller stimulus package in September. Had it been passed and implemented then, money would now be flowing and the precipitous drops in monthly employment that we are now enduring might have been significantly softened.

I shall have enormous fun reminding Cons of this every time they whine about the size, scope and speed of the stimulus.


Cujo359 said...

Glad I stopped by. Hey, the economy's great. Let's all get jobs!

Ummm, all kidding aside, let's hope that Obama really does decide not to let the Republicans get away with these shenanigans. He certainly has the political capital right now. A bit of that capital can be used to expose just how obstructionist the GOP have been.

Anonymous said...

Another good'un Dana. This is part of my 'Democracy is Evil' argument. You see those dumb fucks in the local bar? The ones who will believe the "4x$ on the Mall" arguement, and won't listen to explanation? They are allowed to vote. I don't care how people vote (well I do) as long as they can explain it with well thought out reason. "Because Bill O said" isn't a reason