What I caught this morning from Balloon Juice gave me my schadenfreude fix for the day:
Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.
Federal agents in recent days contacted Steele’s sister, a spokesman for Steele said yesterday.
The recent allegations outlined four specific transactions. In addition to the payment to Steele’s sister, Fabian said that the candidate used money from his state campaign improperly; that Steele paid $75,000 from the state campaign to a law firm for work that was never performed; and that he or an aide transferred more than $500,000 in campaign cash from one bank to another without authorization.
The bank transfer was made against the explicit wishes of other Maryland Republicans
Now, the usual rule here is that It's OK If You Are Republican (I speeled this out), but remember, it’s often not okay if you are a Republican who is distrusted by the real wingnuts in the party (just ask Harriet Miers), as Steele is.
Now this is, of course, just an investigation, there's no criminal charges right off the bat. But guys like Daschle and Sansom can tell you, this doesn't ever look good. Guys like Blago, of course, are too crazy to care...
Meanwhile, some of the other things popping up on Balloon Juice, and indeed on all of the blogs I read, is the economic crisis we're in, how bad it's shaping up, and how the proposed Stimulus plan being pushed by Obama is doing in Congress (which, by the by, isn't doing very well). And indeed one thing keeps popping up on these blogs, a chart issued by House Speaker Pelosi's office:
You see anything? The blue line is the 1990 recession period and the number of months (30 months) it took to curve upward again. The longer deeper red line is the 2001 recession and how long it took THAT to curve upward (45 months!) again. That green line is the current recession we're in, how deep it's already gone compared to the other two. Makes you wonder just how deep and long the unemployment valley is going to be for this recession (are you kidding me? This much job loss in this short a time? This. Is. A Depression. Screaming is mandatory).
One of the things the proposed stimulus package is supposed to do is generate jobs: the spending portion of it, anyways. The tax cut portions are supposed to ease the financial burdens of the taxpayers, the middle class, the poor, etc. One of the other things about the proposed stimulus is that Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress are trying to make this stimulus a bipartisan effort, meaning they want the Republicans to provide input.
We're talking about a Republican Party that remains in thrall to the likes of Grover Norquist and the Club for Greed. The political party that nearly every time they've been in power since 1980 have tried for massive tax cuts as part of a Randian obsession with the Laffer Curve and Supply-Side/Trickle-Down economics. The political party that pushes all these cuts in revenue but then increases spending like they were drunken teenagers in possession of their parents' credit cards. The political party that causes massive government deficits, massive government waste, massive financial fraud. So what do the Republicans do when presented with an opportunity to aid and provide input on the stimulus bill?
They yell and scream for more tax cuts. They yell and scream about the "wasteful spending" that the Democrats are doing, mindless of the wasteful spending they themselves are responsible for. They insist on gutting out sections of the stimulus package that would go towards jobs, green eco projects, state funding that would aid a lot of deficit-threatened states (like Florida and Pennsylvania and California and oh about 40 others) in keeping existing jobs intact. Oh, and did I mention that yelling and screaming for more tax cuts? Multiply that by every GOP Senator and Congressperson, and then multiply it by every goddamn talking head on FOXnotthenews, ClulessNN, and the other media outlets, and then add six. And then bang your head against the wall because there's no way any sane person could understand why the Republicans are this out of touch with reality.
We've HAD massive tax cuts already. We've had 8 years of them. We've seen what tax cuts do for job growth (nada), we've seen what tax cuts do for wage increases (not a damn thing). Tax cuts didn't help the majority of Americans facing increasing health care costs, energy costs, and overall costs of living. Right now, this entire recession (DEPRESSION!) is tied into nearly every aspect of our economy: our purchasing power, our homes, products and services, our financial stability, our ability to start up new businesses and new projects... For all I know it's affecting our nation's ability to trade, to conduct commerce, to do a lot of things that makes our economic engine run. The one thing we can do, the one thing that ties in the most to all of this that we can create to stimulate (there's that word) the economy again is with job creation. With jobs, people earn money. With money, they buy things, they pay off debts. The things they buy, services and products, means other people are working. The engine revs up, power increasing to the wheels of industry. So we need jobs. A lot of them. We need to stop the growing unemployment placing huge drains on our nation's and our states' social services. But the private sector can't create these jobs, not right now: there is no sign that banks and financial institutions are putting out loans and funds that businesses need to start and grow. So it's up to the public sector, to the government, to do something about job creation.
And the Republicans don't see that. They don't want to talk about that. They view that type of spending as "Wasteful." All they want are more tax cuts. Permanent tax cuts. Tax cut this, and tax cut that. I swear to God, they won't take any other proposal seriously.
This comes again from Balloon Juice, from one of the primary guys there, John Cole, and it's been quoted all across the political blogs like it should be the Quote of the Year (or at least winner of Sullivan's award named after Yglesias):I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.
Because this is what the Republican Party is now: Insane. Forget the so-called "centrists" and self-declared "moderates" trying to compromise on the stimulus, who are basically gutting it of programs and funding that we're going to need dammit, because we've seen what's going to happen next in the Senate, same way it happened in the House: The Republicans are going to force the Dems to compromise, and then once the bill is on the floor for the vote the Republicans are all going to vote against the bill and claim victory because they forced the Dems to weaken the package into irrelevancy, and at the same time provide political cover for themselves if/when the stimulus fails by saying "Ooooh, we all voted against it. So vote for us in 2010 and we'll take you all back to the glory years of 2001-2008!"
I made a few links to entries in Obsidian Wings over the past few weeks, wondering where I could fit them in on my blog to highlight my concerns about the economy, and about how screwed up the Republicans are in dealing with the crisis at hand. I highly recommend you (yes, all 4 of you) bookmark Obsidian Wings and glance through it from day to day, it's one of the more worthy blogs I read. The links covered in some detail why tax cuts (and trickle-down) don't work, and why the Republicans are NOT acting in good faith about the economy. Go read 'em. And like me, you might weep.
Because despite the fact that they got thumped in the 2008 national elections, despite the fact that their golden calf Rush Limbaugh is polling unpopular compared to other conservative news outlets, despite the fact that they've had 8 years of tax cuts that didn't work, the Republicans are dictating what is happening with our nation's stimulus bill. This is not going to end well, for anyone...