Thursday, February 12, 2009

A request to President Obama Feb.12, 2009

Mr. President:

I am writing to offer my condolences that NH Senator Judd Gregg has withdrawn his name today for nomination to the post of your Secretary of Commerce.

I am also writing to offer my resume and my name for the post of Secretary of Commerce.

I have many years of experience handling government statistics, patent requests, and census materials as a librarian, so I am well aware of the output that the Commerce Department creates. I also am aware of the department's focus on promoting "job creation and improved living standards for all Americans." As someone currently unemployed, I know all too well the importance of job creation and this nation's need for improved living standards.

I would also like to point out that, unlike your last two attempts at filling the spot of Secretary of Commerce, I am NOT going to bail on you. I'm not going to be the focus of a federal investigation like Mr. Richardson, and I'm not going to renounce your stimulus package as part of a GOP herd mentality like Mr. Gregg. I am going to go full throttle on the nomination process, Mr. President sir, because DAMMIT I need this job dude!

And if you have any concerns about any legal improprieties... I have 3 traffic violations, one for an expired license tag, one for not fully stopping at a stop sign (there was oncoming traffic, the cop was just sitting there waiting for any excuse to issue tickets! Damn quotas!), and one for speeding on Memorial Day last year (okay, I fully own up on that one, caught dead to rights). That's it. Clean as a whistle.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience for my resume, college transcripts, and copy of my self-published collection of short stories (Library of Congress won't take PoDs). Thank you, good day, and God Bless the United States!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Proof the Republican Party is Screwed Up and Doomed

Linkage here to an article by Sullivan, but check out the polling numbers regarding the stimulus:

Meanwhile over on Balloon Juice I see this:

The country will “pay dearly” if it executes the president’s stimulus plans, Sen. Richard Shelby says.

“Everybody on the street in America understands that,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee. “This is not the right road to go. We’ll pay dearly.”

Dear Sen. Shelby: 31 percent is NOT EVERYBODY. Don't drag me and 62 percent of this country into your (wrong) side of the argument.

Sullivan in his article has a point: The Republicans "are feeling better about themselves is that they managed to turn this debate into one about ideology in a vacuum. That's how they governed for many years; it's what they know; and since they have no shame, they feel no need to square their newfound fiscal conservatism in a depression with their record of massive spending and borrowing in a boom."

The Republican leadership truly exists inside this hermetically-sealed echo chamber of theirs, where all they know is getting onto the talking head shows on FOX, CNN, MSNBC and elsewhere, spout their BS, hang out with like-minded media hosts and their handlers, and never ever really recognize just what the hell is actually happening outside of that damn Beltway mentality of theirs. They say "everybody knows" when in fact that's just another unverifible strawman they're pointing at: that Gallup poll shows 62 percent siding with Obama, 48 percent siding with the Democratic Congress. 31 percent with the Republicans? They've capped out to that 1/3 of the electorate, which points to just their GOP Far Right base supporting them. JUST THEIR BASE. No one else is buying the GOP BS.

This is where I think Sullivan is getting it wrong: "The gerrymandering of the past decade also means the Republican rump is secure - with 31 percent approval - even when resisting adequate fiscal stimulus in a deflationary spiral." The gerrymandering of districts isn't going to protect the GOP in Congress, or even at the state level. Republican representation in the House is already lopsided: The Dems hold a 37 seat advantage there. Who thinks 2 more years of possible job losses and economic collapse is going to drive more voters towards an obstructionist Republican Party that caused this economic crisis in the first place? And will be held responsible (re-read that Gallup Poll: people are not favoring the Republicans right now because they know what that party is doing is wrong!) if the Republicans succeed in wreaking this stimulus or any other economic platform Obama tries to pass?
And that's the House. The Senate isn't gerrymandered. And as this economy collapses, more states will feel the hurt, more angry voters will rise up. And they're not gonna blame Obama and the Democrats (again, the Gallup poll is showing the voters side with them) who are trying to pass these bills: they're gonna blame the vote-blockers.
And that's the federal level. At the state level the Republicans have got be scared sh-tless. A lot of states are facing massive deficits: Florida and California are two prime examples. States will feel the economic pinch more because 1) a lot of states have constitutional requirements to balance their budgets at some point, meaning they either cut services or raise taxes or a balance of both; 2) a lot of states have restrictions on how they can raise taxes... if ever; and 3) the Republicans and the "centrists" in the Senate just cut billions of dollars that were going to the states for deficit relief. The state-level Republicans are about to face the consequences of decades of pushing anti-tax policies to appease their Club for Greed overlords: an inability to respond to a nationwide economic disaster because they've had to cut back truckloads of social services in order to budget-balance against massive revenue shortfalls. I'm surprised we're not hearing about Gov. Crist getting on the phone to yell at the Republican Senators "DAMMIT WE NEED THAT $40 BILLION!" Do you think voters at the state level are going to favor Republicans when it comes time to vote for governorships and state leges? Do you think voters are going to forget that it was Republicans who cut back on schools, on health care, on jobs programs, on transit, on everything just so the Republicans could save their precious tax cuts?

The Republican Party is truly doomed, because they don't care. Their leadership are all stuck in the television sound booths, mouthing off platitudes and lies that they already believe and reinforce on each other, and they don't see outside of their windowed little world of theirs. They're not going to win in 2010 like they think they will if they succeed in torpedoing this stimulus or any other stim package. Who is going to keep buying their b-llsh-t when there's no one left with any money to buy it?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

More Schadenfreude, More Insanity

For my political fix, I circle about 8 or 10 blogs for regular viewing: Sullivan, Balloon Juice, Obsidian Wings, Yglesias, Atrios. Moderate Voice, NeoMugWump, Charging RINO (dude, update more), and Hullaballoo. I also read some of the more extreme sites like Daily Kos and My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, although for both I usually catch myself shouting "Lighten up, Francis!" at the monitor for each. And for the guys at Vast Right Wing, sorry but I don't wanna livechat American Idol...

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...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

More moments of Schadenfreude 2009

Schadenfreude: It's one (am I speeling it right, btw?) of my favorite words - esoteric being the other - and while I do cringe at myself for taking such delight in the misfortune of others I try to take comfort from the knowledge that the ones suffering totally f-cking deserve what they're getting (hence the huge glee I had with Blago, which shows no sign of ending any time soon).

To wit:
  • Here at home, with the decline and fall of a rising GOP power, now-former State Speaker Ray "Quid Pro" Sansom. Who started off his Speakership with a brand-new part-time job that was never advertised and paid $110k per for a small college that just happened to receive $35 million in state money in the previous budget thanks to Sansom. Who had a private meeting with that school's trustees, only for it later revealed to have violated the state's Sunshine laws requiring such meetings be public, and also revealed that no notes were taken during said meeting with a comical attempt after-the-fact of someone writing up notes for said meeting. Who had a hand in getting a $6 million training air field facility for that school set up in the exact size shape and color that a business buddy of Sansom's wanted for years at that locale. Sansom tried to weasel his way out of the growing scandals by "recusing himself" from Speakership duties, but it was only temporary and it was clearly obvious that he was hoping for the dust to settle before reclaiming the Speakership while no one was noticing. His own party had to force the issue and ousted him from the top spot, although he's still a sitting Representative awaiting the pending criminal investigations. Maybe he and Blagojevich can work the casino town in Missouri as a comedy duo, you know like Abbott and Costello, only dumber.
  • Back in DC, where former Senate leader Tom "Taxes? What Taxes" Daschle was forced to drop from his nomination for Health and Human Services Secretary cabinet spot. It had a lot to do with the fact he had, after his fall from the Senate office in 2002, gotten a cushy job with a limo driver from a friend or twelve. The job and driver actually weren't the problem: Daschle's failure to realize he still has to pay taxes on them to teh IRS was, and the $146k bill that hadn't been paid until this January was the kind of thing that p-sses off a lot of the middle and lower class Americans out there. While I don't want to stand with the crowd of Republicans who are crowing over this example of Obama Fail (And It Only Took Two Weeks is the new label on Balloon Juice), I still side with Jon Stewart on this: PAY YOUR F-CKING TAXES!
  • And now, with the CEOs of the various banks, investment firms, and other financial institutions who all had driven their corporations into bankruptcy, and had and are still coming to the government with their hands out like street beggars. Obama's made it clear that from now on, CEOs looking to the taxpayers to bail them out of their own stupidity and greed will have to take a massive pay cut and work for $500k a year without additional benefits. And with this, I definitely stand with Obama: "We all need to take responsibility...And this includes executives at major financial firms who turned to the American people, hat in hand, when they were in trouble, even as they paid themselves their customary lavish bonuses. As I said last week, that's the height of irresponsibility. That's shameful. And that's exactly the kind of disregard for the costs and consequences of their actions that brought about this crisis: a culture of narrow self-interest and short-term gain at the expense of everything else." I was never a fan of golden parachutes, even when they came at the expense of companies being driven into the ground by fast-buck con artists posing as genius CEOs.
More schadenfreude acomin, you think? Well, the year is young...