17 April, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Been out exploring the wonders of Seattle in the sun. Sorry I'm late getting back, my darlings.

Let's start out with a picture:

So, this week, Bartlett went with a different approach, comparing the current U.S. tax structure with recent generations.

The exercise is straightforward enough. Bartlett identified the "effective federal income tax rate -- taxes paid as a share of income -- for a family with the median income. The median is the exact middle of the income distribution -- half of families are above and half are below. It's as close as we can get, statistically, to the typical American family."

He found that the median family, in the most recent year available, "paid 5.91% of its income to the federal government in the form of income taxes." In 1981, the median family paid double, and current rates are "well below the rate that prevailed from the 1950s through the 1990s."

What's more, the 2009 numbers are almost certainly lower than 2007, thanks to Obama's middle-class tax cut.

Given all of this, Bartlett draws the right conclusion about the "Tea Party" events this week, where Tea Baggers complained bitterly about a crushing tax burden: "I believe this was largely a partisan exercise designed to improve the fortunes of the Republican Party, not an expression of genuine concern about taxes or our nation's fiscal future. People should remember that while they have the right to their opinion, they are not entitled to be taken seriously."

That's right. Those teabaggers who are whining about their oh-so-heavy tax burden are playing revolutionaries over a bloody 6% tax rate.

I'll let you all come up with your own description of them. I plump for "dumbfucks" myself.

So, Texas governor Rick Perry is bleating about secession. Looks like the State Department temporarily granted his wish:
Right-wing politicians, such as Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, have recently been flirting with the idea of Texas seceding in protest of President Obama’s economic policies. Some in the State Department, however, apparently believe that Texas is indeed its own nation. Al Kamen reports:

Texas has once again become an independent country! The State Department, listing the countries Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has visited and the frequent-flier miles she’s piled up (more than 50,000 so far), notes that she’s taken trips to Europe, the Netherlands, Mexico, the Middle East, Asia and Texas.

The site provides a breakdown of “trips by country” and includes Texas along with France, Germany, Japan, China and so on.
Careful what you wish for, Perry...

Yesterday, the Obama administration revealed several Bush torture memos. Today, anonymous Bush administration officials prove they're still living in the past:

There’s a growing blogospheric campaign underway to pressure journalists to stop letting government officials spin or dissemble under cover of anonymity — and the latest to take a hit for the practice is Politico’s Mike Allen.

Allen’s article today on Obama’s release of the torture memos features three paragraphs of criticism of the decision from an anonymous “former top official” under Bush — prompting sharp criticism from Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald.

But Allen defended the decision in an email to me, conceding it was “not ideal” but better than including no reaction at all from the Bush camp.

The anonymous Bush official blasted Obama’s decision as “damaging,” claimed torture techniques “work” and asked whether Obama still thinks we’re at war with terrorists.
Faux News whistles the same ol' tune:

As if on cue, Fox News hosts and personalities attacked Obama for releasing the memos while at the same time, defended the use of torture. “It’s not a dark chapter in our history. It’s a successful one,” Charles Krauthammer proclaimed. Conceding that waterboarding is torture, Krauthammer said that it should be used anyway in the so-called “ticking time-bomb” scenario and against “high-level al-Qaeda.” Many of his Fox colleagues have since piled on:

BILL KRISTOL: This is a pander to the left. I think it’s really pathetic for an American president to do that, and to disavow, in effect, the good faith efforts of a previous administration to protect us in ways that I think were entirely appropriate.

MEGYN KELLY: Will the release of these documents hurt our troops on the ground now, or could they put our national security in jeopardy?

GRETCHEN CARLSON: You don’t go into these techniques just willy-nilly. … There was a reason behind all of this. There was a philosophy in the way that they handled these things.

The Fox and Friends had fun with the release this morning as well. Steve Doocy claimed that torture “worked” and “saved lives.”
The more things change, the more Cons stay the same. Which includes playing multiple victim cards for all they're worth:

This week's flap over a DHS report on potentially dangerous right-wing extremists is the best example of this, at least since the manufactured controversy over President Obama "apologizing" for American "arrogance." Which was the best manufactured controversy since the administration's plan to "cut" military spending. Which was the best since Obama "bowed." Which was the best since the "outrage" over the president using a teleprompter. Which was the best since conservatives bristled after seeing the president chuckle during a "60 Minutes" interview.

Consider this take from Oliver North, chatting with Sean Hannity about the DHS report last night:

"[H]ere's what's really disturbing about [the DHS report]. One is the intrusion into political thought in America that vilifies those of us who have subscribed to any of those, or guys like you and me that subscribe to all of them.

"Second of all, it's a twisted idea. They're saying that right-wing extremism is the number one threat to American safety and security. That means that if you're a Hamas organizer or a Hezbollah recruiter or a Somali terrorist trying to recruit suicide terrorists, you're lower on the totem pole in terms of scrutiny than a regular American citizen concerned about these things, to include, outrageously enough, American veterans who they think are a target for being radicalized."

This is so obviously ridiculous, it's a challenge counting all the errors. The DHS report doesn't "vilify" conservatives, unless North is prepared to argue that he and Hannity have embraced a extremist, borderline-violent ideology. The department isn't singling out people like North and Hannity; it prepared a similar report about left-wing radicals (curious that no one seems worked about that one).

When North complains about what "they're saying," he's referring to the Obama administration, which is also wrong, since the report in question was initiated and prepared by Bush administration officials. No one in any position of authority has ever said, in any context, that "right-wing extremism is the number one threat to American safety and security." And the only reason officials believe veterans might be "a target for being radicalized" because veterans are often a target for being radicalized.

Poor lying fucktards. They're soooo unfairly treated by those evil libruls appointed by the Bush administration who weren't even aiming at regular ol' Cons in that report. But Pat Robertson knows who to blame for this. It's all a conspiracy by teh icky gays:

Televangelist Pat Robertson went even further on the 700 Club yesterday. Not only did he echo the belief that the report was produced by liberal DHS officials, but he claimed that their “sexual orientation is somewhat in question.” He offered no proof for his remark:

ROBERTSON: It shows somebody down in the bowels of that organization is either a convinced left winger or somebody whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question. But it’s that kind of thing, somebody who doesn’t think that we should have abortion on demand, is labeled a terrorist! It’s outrageous!

Crooks and Liars also points out that Robertson urged his viewers to “jam up” the homeland security phone lines by calling in to complain.


Note that Robertson, the man who is criticizing the notion that there are right-wing extremists, once called for the assassination of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.
Ladies and gentlemen, our mainstream right wing. No wonder they think that report was targeting them directly. It certainly doesn't take much of a stretch of their formidable imaginations.

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