19 October, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

Whelp.  They're not stinting on stoopid today.  I rather wish they would, because my cast woke me up early this morning babbling away and they still haven't shut up.  They've just kind of lowered the volume a bit whilst I take care of the cantina.

Such is the terrible travail of a political blogger and SF writer with a day job.  Argh.

Let's get on with it, then.  I'm starting big.  No warming up the Smack-o-Matic on small fry, no - we're going to apply it cold to the bare butt of the Original King of Irony:
Karl Rove is just outraged that the White House would snub a news outlet it considers partisan. He complained incessantly about the Obama team's disdain for Fox News this morning.
"The administration is making a mistake for itself," Rove continued. "But more importantly, it is demeaning the office of the president by taking the president and moving him from a person who wants to be talking to everybody and communicating through every available channel the same, if you oppose me, you question me, if you are too tough on me, by gosh, me and my people are not going to come on, we are going to penalize you. That is just wrong, fundamentally wrong."
Now, one can debate whether the White House's decision to treat Fox News like a partisan propaganda outlet is wise or not. I believe it's the right call. But putting that aside, let's pause to appreciate the comical irony of Rove's whining.

It was, after all, George W. Bush who became the first modern president to refuse literally every interview request from the New York Times over the span of nine years. The NYT's Sheryl Gay Stolberg explained about a year ago, "[Bush] White House officials are quite open about the fact that we have not gotten an interview because they don't like our coverage."


Rove ran a White House that embraced a "permanent campaign," so he's accused the Obama team of embracing a "permanent campaign." Rove embraced the politics of fear, so he's accused Obama of embracing the politics of fear. Rove relied on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted " political events, so he's accused Obama of relying on "pre-packaged, organized, controlled, scripted" political events. Rove looked at every policy issue "from a political perspective," so he's accused Obama of looking at every policy issue "from a political perspective."

It's hard to launch political attacks that are ironic, hypocritical, and examples of projection, all at the same time, but Rove is a rare talent.
Thank you, Steve Benen.  That vigorous action has left the Smack-o-Matic nicely warmed up for application to the rest o' the burning stoopid.

Here's a candidate, courtesy of Mike's Blog Roundup.  Just remember, kiddies - IOKIYAR:
The Democrats and their international leftist allies want America made subservient to the agenda of global redistribution and control,” Steele wrote. “And truly patriotic Americans like you and our Republican Party are the only thing standing in their way.

This is about as extremist as it gets, and this guy is the Chairman of the RNC. It's so incendiary it's almost comical, but it's meant to be serious. This isn't some off-the-ranch flamethrower -- it's what the formal leader of the GOP is putting in writing. It's insane and no one even notices anymore.

That's because the GOP is the biggest bunch of batshit insane fucktards walking the political landscape in this country today.  Well, walking the halls of power, anyway - plenty of batshit insane fucktards in politics, but you usually don't see quite this concentration of them infesting the whole of a major political party.

And Michael Steele, frankly, is one of the biggest assclowns to ever head the RNC, which is saying something.

Still, just because we expect them to be such fuckwits doesn't mean we should let them get away with it without comment.  My comment is this: shove it up your ass, you hypocritical, paranoid con artists.

Moving on, then.  How about an inapt comparison or two?

As a rule, the right should probably try to steer clear of Martin Luther King comparisons. I don't think they're especially good at it.

This week, for example, National Review's Andy McCarthy said Rush Limbaugh treats people "in the Martin Luther King aspiration that the content of one's character is what matters, not the color of one's skin." I think he was serious.

He probably was.  So was JC Watts, the dumbshit who compared Tom Coburn to MLK.  Yes, you read that right.  Tom Fucking Coburn.  Tom "Get your Political Science from CNN" Coburn.  Tom "Cut Grandma's Funding" Coburn.  Tom "Fuck the Metro" Coburn.  Tom "We Can't Help You" Coburn.  Do I need to go on?  I didn't think so.

Let us, now that the Smack-o-Matic's nicely warmed up, turn our attention to the fuckers in the financial sector.  Wanna see a magic trick?  Goldman Sachs pulled a doozy:
Dylan Ratigan explains how Goldman Sachs managed to make $3 billion in three months investing our tax dollars sent to keep them afloat with no strings attached.

For more you can read his entry at the Huffington Post Goldman Sachs' Black Magic, Here's How They Did It.

Goldman at the apex of the crisis is delivered this money -- which they then use to borrow against at $20 or $30 for every $1. Which at 30x equals $2.1 trillion in available capital.

As one of the only banks in the world with money at the time, Goldman Sachs was able to buy billions in distressed assets around the world at record low prices -- only to watch $23.7 trillion in US taxpayer money be deployed during the past year to re-inflate the asset's values that Goldman had purchased with our tax money.

The question is not why did we bail out the banks.

The question is why did we give the banks billions of our money so they could then buy assets by the trillions with our money and they keep the profits?
Excellent question, is it not?

Meanwhile, Moody's turned a few tricks of its own - and turned out anyone who complained:

The next time some bobblehead starts talking about how this crisis "is about people living beyond their means", remind them of this latest proof that the financial services industry was thoroughly and aggressively corrupt, and that was a much bigger problem:

WASHINGTON -- As the housing market collapsed in late 2007, Moody's Investors Service, whose investment ratings were widely trusted, responded by purging analysts and executives who warned of trouble and promoting those who helped Wall Street plunge the country into its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. 

A McClatchy investigation has found that Moody's punished executives who questioned why the company was risking its reputation by putting its profits ahead of providing trustworthy ratings for investment offerings.

Instead, Moody's promoted executives who headed its "structured finance" division, which assisted Wall Street in packaging loans into securities for sale to investors. It also stacked its compliance department with the people who awarded the highest ratings to pools of mortgages that soon were downgraded to junk. Such products have another name now: "toxic assets."
I could go on, but it's rather too depressing.  Instead, we shall just compare and contrast here.  On the one hand, we have the Obama administration's reaction to such nefarious bullshit:
Is there really nothing more the White House can do about this? Seems like pretty weak tea to tell them to "think about it." Here's hoping there's some arm-twisting going on behind the scenes:
In the wake of reports that Goldman Sachs is set to pay a record 23 billion in bonuses this year, the President’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod told me this morning that he thinks big banks dishing out bonuses to their employees is “offensive” and advises banks to “think through what they are doing.”

“They ought to think through what they are doing and they ought to understand that a year ago a lot of these institutions were teetering on the brink and the United States government and taxpayers came to their defense. They have responsibilities and they ought to meet those responsibilities.”

Well, that'll show 'em!

On the other hand, here's how Britain's handling matters:
Here's the reaction over in Britain to news about the banking sector's recent return to outsize profitability:
Ministers are drawing up plans for a tax raid on Britain’s banks worth hundreds of millions of pounds, The Sunday Telegraph has learned.

The radical move, being considered as a way of forcing banks to pay a price for the taxpayer-funded bail-out of the financial system, could include a one-off “windfall” tax on profits.

....Last night, in his weekly podcast , Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, said his government would be “taking extensive action to reform the whole culture of the financial sector”.

I do hope Prime Minister Brown can sit President Obama down for some schooling soon.  It's desperately needed.

And for those who might be thinking that a different political party, oh, say, one that starts with an R, would be any more adept at spanking the banks and whipping the country's finances into shape, allow me to disabuse you of some very stupid notions:

It's always been rather amusing to hear Republicans suggest they have the moral high ground on fiscal issues like the federal budget deficit. The modern deficit problems began in earnest under Reagan/Bush. Clinton eliminated the Republican deficits altogether, and handed off a huge surplus to his GOP successor. Bush, we now know, was "the most fiscally irresponsible president in the history of the republic."

But now that the deficit for the just-completed fiscal year was $1.4 trillion, the GOP has decided it cares about deficit reduction again. Indeed, they're hoping to see President Obama blamed for the mess he inherited.

Yesterday, A.L. had a good idea. Let's say the GOP was handed the reins of government immediately, and could do as they pleased. What would they do to lower the deficit? Party leaders have said tax increases of any kind are out of the question, so if Republicans have any intention of moving the budget back towards balance, they'll have to do the opposite of what they did when they were the governing party: find a way to cut spending. A lot.
One idea that some Republicans have suggested (safe from their position in the minority) is to cancel the rest of the stimulus bill. The near universal consensus among economists, however, is that stimulus spending in the coming year will be crucial. Moreover, the states, including most red ones, are very much counting on this money. I find it hard to believe that the GOP -- even with a larger majority -- could garner anywhere near enough votes to cancel the stimulus bill.
Moreover, doing so would only improve the deficit numbers for one year (after that, the stimulus spending is done). Even if it didn't harm the economy, it would do nothing whatsoever to improve the long term deficit numbers. [...]
[T]he largest source of potential spending cuts is in the defense budget, but the GOP has always been fiercely opposed to any cuts in defense spending, and it's hard to see that changing any time soon. [...]
So that leaves us with entitlement spending. Would the GOP make major cuts to Medicare? It's possible, but they are currently opposing efforts to rein in wasteful Medicare spending and promising to protect seniors from any cuts whatsoever. It seems highly unlikely that the GOP would make any real effort to reduce spending on Medicare.
So what about Social Security? Well, for starters, Social Security is a much smaller program than Medicare, so even drastic cuts would not make much of a dent in the overall spending picture. Moreover, the last time the GOP tried to "reform" Social Security (by converting it into 401k-style individual accounts), their plan involved massive up front transition costs that were to be paid for by borrowing. In other words, if they passed Bush-style Social Security reform, it would massively inflate both the deficit and the debt, both in the short term and long term.
So what does that leave us with? Not much.

I'd just add one thing to A.L.'s analysis. In June, in a story that was largely overlooked, the White House asked GOP lawmakers to come up with some recommended budget cuts. Republicans had spent months saying how much they'd like to trim from the budget, so the president invited them to submit their ideas in writing. The GOP caucus came up with a "bold" plan that would cut federal spending by about $5 billion a year for five years -- far less than the White House plan to reduce spending.

We'd be better off handing the reins to a bunch of kindergarten flunk-outs.

And as for expecting them to do a better job at health care reform, well, we're talking about people who don't even understand there's an actual problem:
It looks like David Gregory is reading C&L and many other blogs because I've been saying that for the cost of the wars, America would have health care bought and paid for. David Gregory finally asked a Republican the same question. This clip also shows that republicans are living in a land far, far from reality if they actually go on TV and say Americans aren't dying because they have no health care.

David writes: Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) told NBC's David Gregory that the war in Afghanistan is a "necessity" but health care reform is not as important.

"And is it a necessity to tackle the fact that there are more and more Americans who die because they don't have access to health insurance?" asked Gregory.

Kyl disagreed with the premise of the question. "I'm not sure that it's a fact that more and more people die because they don't have health insurance. But because they don't have health insurance, the care is not delivered in the best and most efficient way," said Kyl.

Talking Points Memo notes that it is indeed a fact that Americans die from a lack of health insurance.
I imagine Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) -- of "Republicans want you to die quickly" fame -- might have a field day with this one.
And for the record, a highly-publicized Harvard study released last month said that 45,000 deaths are linked to lack of health insurance coverage each year -- and that uninsured, working-age Americans have a 40 percent higher death risk than their privately-insured counterparts.

Arizona's Shame strikes again.  Please, please, my dear home state, I beg you - kick this moron out at the earliest possible opportunity.

And take it from a former Con - all the GOP knows is how to throw tantrums:
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA), who until late April of this year was a lifelong Republican, castigated his former party this morning on Fox News. Specter ripped the GOP for refusing to be a good-faith negotiator in the health care debate:
On the Republican side, it’s no, no, no. A party of obstructionism. … You have responsible Republicans who had been in the Senate — like Howard Baker, Bob Dole, or Bill Frist — who say Republicans ought to cooperate. Well, they’re not cooperating.
And they never will.

Incidentally, by the way, Specter also said, "I think the public option is gaining momentum," and he's going to fight for it.  Two things to remember for elections, then, my darlings: Cons are never an option, and primaries can work wonders.

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