Friday, March 29, 2013

Obama Endless War On Social Insurance Continues

This time in his own budget:

WASHINGTON—The White House is strongly considering including limits on entitlement benefits in its fiscal 2014 budget—a proposal it first offered Republicans in December. The move would be aimed in part at keeping alive bipartisan talks on a major budget deal.

Such a proposal could include steps that make many Democrats queasy, such as reductions in future Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security payments, but also items resisted by Republicans, such as higher taxes through limits on tax breaks, people close to the White House said.

These measures would come as President Barack Obama continues his courtship of the Senate GOP in an effort to thaw tax-and-spending talks. The White House's delayed annual budget is scheduled to be released April 10, the same day Mr. Obama plans to dine with a group of Senate Republicans to discuss the budget and other issues.

Including entitlement curbs would be notable, as Republicans often have criticized the White House for offering such steps in private negotiations but never fully embracing them as part of an official budget plan.

People close to the White House believe a proposal to slow the growth rate of such benefits would use a variant of the Consumer Price Index to measure inflation. The new inflation indicator would cut overall spending by $130 billion, according to White House projections, and raise $100 billion in tax revenue by slowing the growth of tax brackets. The White House earlier called for an additional $800 billion or so in cuts on top of those resulting from the inflation adjustments.

"We and all of the groups engaged on this are starting to feel it may well be in the budget," said Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president at AARP, an advocacy group for seniors that opposes such changes.
Nothing we don't know here, it's just that Obama is getting very open about his burning desire to cut social security and Medicare. This is soulless policy and really dumb politics, but they just seem firmly committed to doing anything posible to cut social security and/or medicare.

Using your political capital to push benefits cuts for programs that the elderly and poor need to live is the work of a moral monster. We should be screaming this at the top of our lungs until Obama stops putting pushing these cuts.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Meanwhile, President Obama and the Republicans Are Hurting Our Economy On Purpose

I wonder if it will take the first crappy jobs report for the media to point out the real, and completely unnecessary damage that the Sequestration cuts are doing to our economy:
But outside of Washington DC, sequestration is already causing real problems for regular people, and Democrats are engaged in a counteroffensive — highlighting the day-in, day-out problems sequestration is causing outside of the capital.

Last week, Democratic sources provided TPM with dozens of print and television news stories documenting the impact of sequestration in the states. Below are a representative example.

From the Cronkite News: “An Arizona school superintendent said Monday that her district has already cut 40 positions because of automatic federal spending reductions and will recommend cutting 65 more and closing three schools next year to save money.”

In South Bend, Ind.,, “A $30 million dollar construction project … is delayed because of the sequester budget cuts.”

The Charlotte Observer notes, “Closing the control tower at Concord Regional Airport could cost the city hundreds of charter flights from NASCAR teams and other businesses, local officials said Wednesday after learning that the tower’s federal funding is being eliminated. … Concord officials said they were notified Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration that funding would be cut off soon.”

The Dayton Daily News learned: “Furloughed Air Force civilian workers would cost Ohio’s economy $111.1 million in lost wages through September.”

In Las Vegas, “More than 220 local FAA workers received notices that they will have to take some unpaid days off.”

And on Fort Drum in Waterstown, NY, “civilian employees on post will be forced to take one day off per week without pay.”

It’s not surprising that the news coverage of sequestration in Washington has been tinctured by partisan skirmishes over unpopular or politically motivated cuts. But outside the capital the public isn’t experiencing sequestration solely as a political issue — and the consequences of indiscriminate cuts may eventually force lawmakers to address the policy rather than distract the public from the real harm it’s causing.
This is your millionth reminder that President Obama proposed sequestration as something terrible to force people to agree to a deal that cut our social insurance. There has been no deal to cut social insurance (thankfully), but we are currently hurting the economy as a result of Obama's lust for social insurance cuts. Heckuva job!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Still Fighting the Good, Bigoted Fight!

(Young person who opposes gay marriage, about to say something stupid)

I found this article on the a group of youngish emo morons who have dedicated their life to oppressing gay people pretty hilarious. A few choice quotes:
“The primary challenge that our side faces right now is the intense social pressure,” said Joseph Backholm, 34, the executive director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. “To the extent that the other side is able to frame this as a vote for gay people to be happy, it will be challenging for us.”
Boy, if that's the problem, I'm guessing it will be challenging then! Telling people they don't have the same human rights as everyone else tends to make them unhappy!

To put it another way, opponents of same-sex marriage say they must argue in favor of traditional marriage, not against gay people or gay rights. “It’s really a broader defense of marriage and a stronger marriage culture,” said Will Haun, 26, a lawyer and member of the Federalist Society.
We plan on fighting for a "stronger marriage culture" by preventing people who love each other from getting married. Good plan!
“Proponents of same-sex marriage have done a fantastic job of telling the story of same-sex marriage through music and television and film,” said Eric Teetsel, 29, the executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, which describes itself as a movement of Christians for life, marriage and religious freedom. “I think it’s really a case where once they hear the other side of the issue, and really think about it deeply, we’re going to win a lot of those folks back.”
Human beings have done a good job being human beings, showing other human beings that they too, are in fact human beings. Our plan is to tell the other side of the issue: that they are not human beings.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finding Freedom In Your Own Land

Obama spoke in Israel yesterday, and it was mostly awful. One line in particular stood out, when he's describing the history of Israel:
It’s a story about finding freedom in your own land. 

This is less about Obama (any president would have said what he said), and more about how oblivious our country is about America's relationship with Israel. What makes it so offensive isn't even the text, it's that it won't get special attention in the write up of this speech. I'm sure some speech writer threw it in there as a boiler plate line about freedom and didn't even think twice about those words.

"Finding freedom in your own land"

Israel is currently colonizing Palestinians and taking their freedom ON THEIR OWN LAND.

As Lewis Black is known to say: un-fucking-believable.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An Actual Congressman Said This

Twitter is the greatest:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

10 Years Later

Hundreds of thousands are dead because of the evil fucking people who dreamt up and sold the American people on the Iraq war.

But let's also not forget how many of our elites willingly cheered it on for the absolute dumbest of reasons:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You Can't Take The Racism Out Of Racists

While Republicans endlessly try to "re-brand", this isn't draw poker where you trade in the cards you don't want. There is no way to re-brand as a less racist, misogynistic and bigoted party when your base is filled with racists, misogynists and bigots. Case and Point: A CPAC session that was actually titled: “Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”. Talking Points Memo has the painful recap:
A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.
. . .
But then questions and answers began. And things went off the rails.

Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”

Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.

“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.

At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting. Organizers calmed things down by asking everyone to “take the debate outside after the presentation.”

Brown, who took offense at the suggestion modern Democrats were descendants of the KKK, tried to ask a question later once things finally calmed down. She was booed and screamed at by audience members.

“Let someone else speak!” one attendee in Revolutionary War garb shouted.

“You’re not welcome!” a white-haired older woman yelled.

Eventually she asked a question. It was about whether Republicans should call out racist ads.

Attendees interviewed by TPM afterwards expressed outrage at the way the event turned out. Not at Terry and Heimbach — they were mad at Brown.
I've made this point before, but the Republican party will "evolve" on controversial issues like slavery when a large portion of their base is dead. I honestly think a lot of Republican politicians aren't racists or bigots, but there is a very real risk of losing your job and future in the party if you try to condemn this garbage. And while you'd like to think they'd want to be on the right side of history, most of them just care about keeping their jobs. The party will probably be forced to change eventually, but in the mean time it's gonna get real ugly.

Monday, March 18, 2013

They Want The Rich To Get Richer

This really is the only policy goal the Republicans have. This chart of the effects of the Ryan Budget:

Sometimes it really is that simple.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Legacy of Hugo Chavez

I've wanted to write something longer on Chavez since his death, but I just haven't had the time. For now, Chris Hayes did a few really great segments on him that are important watching.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

No Grand Bargain, So the Economy Gets it!

As a result of the joint Republican/Obama push for austerity, we will finally be hurting the economy at the federal level rather than simply at the state and local level. Dean Baker:

Looking beyond this report, though, there is not much reason for optimism. Housing construction is rising, but from a very low base. It had fallen back to just 2.0% of GDP, so even a 20% growth rate would add just 0.4 percentage points to GDP growth. The most recent data on investment shows a sharp drop, albeit after three months of good growth. We will be fortunate if this category grows at more than a 10% annual rate in 2013.

While an upward revision to the fourth quarter GDP data turned a negative 0.1% into a positive 0.1%, the economy still only grew at a 1.6% annual rate in the second half of 2012. Apart from the uptick in construction, there are few good reasons to expect much of an acceleration from this growth rate. And contrary-wise, the ending of the payroll tax cut will pull more than $100bn a year out of the economy. The impact of this tax increase was just being felt when the February jobs survey was taken in the middle of the month.

The other big hit to the economy will be from the sequester, which will pull roughly $80bn in federal spending out of the economy. The forecasts from the Congressional Budget Office and others show the sequester slowing growth by 0.5-0.6 percentage points. The economy has not even begun to feel the impact of these cuts, most of which will not start to make their effects felt until April.
In short, we have an economy that had been growing at a not-very-healthy pace through the second half of 2012 – and which is virtually certain to be slowed by contractionary fiscal policy through the rest of 2013. Unless there is a rapid reversal of policy, the 7.7% unemployment rate is likely to represent a low we may not see again for some time.

While the economy is not likely to fall into a recession and send the unemployment rate soaring, the economy is not growing fast enough to meet the need for jobs from a growing labor force. As a result, unemployment will be going in the wrong direction for the rest of the year.
This probably a good time to remind people that part of the reason the the sequester was created as a way to force people create a "grand bargain" that would cut social security and medicare. Don't listen to me, listen to Obama economic adviser Gene Spearling's own email to Bob Woodward:

I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.
My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.
With the economy in it's current state, the Obama Administration was devising ways to force congress to either cut our social insurance programs or hurt the economy. While I'm glad that Republicans unwillingness to make a deal has once again defeated Obama's unending efforts to cut our social insurance, we are now hurting the economy for absolutely by choice, and for no reason. There really aren't words for how stupid this is.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bobby Jindal Is Unironically Funny

When RB texted me that Bobby Jindal made a funny speech, I was fairly skeptical. However, this is actually pretty damn hilarious by politician standards. Some highlights:

They say this is a place where you can come and tell jokes about the President…poke fun at yourself…set political ambition aside and just generally say anything you want.

Kind of like the Romney campaign.
. . .
Actually…after my infamous State of the Union response in 2009, I appreciate this opportunity to try to be funny on purpose.

I think my performance that night would have been better if I had just taken a 10-minute sip of water, interrupted by 30 seconds of speaking.
. . .
You all don’t know this…but the President and I had the exact same campaign slogan years ago.

But unfortunately UPS sued both of us and made us stop using it…you remember our slogan– ‘what can brown do for you?’

Speaking of brown, I was hoping to see my good friend John Boehner here.
. . .
When I first went to congress, I would always get asked by friends –“hey, have you met my friend congressman so and so.”

So I of course responded – I don’t know, all white people look alike to me.
After a while…I found a better answer.

I would simply say…um…let me think…is he a middle aged white guy, slightly balding, a little thick around the middle?”

They would always say – “yep, that’s him”…Worked every time.
. . .
I was actually hoping to see my good friend John McCain here tonight.

In 2008, John talked to me about the Vice Presidency. I told John not to consider me or even vet me for VP.

I wasn’t ready for the job and I was afraid he might do something crazy…glad we avoided that.
. . .
I had a meeting with a man earlier today who says that his name is Reince Priebus and he insists that he is Chairman of the Republican Party.

Hard to imagine a better name than “Reince Priebus” to connect with the working class people and show that we aren’t one-percenters.

At least I had the political foresight at the age of 4 to change my name to Bobby.
. . .
I see Mark Sanford is running for office again. Sanford was so committed to outsourcing that he even shipped his wife’s job overseas.. . .
I ran into Joe Biden earlier today. I don’t think he recognized me though. He asked me to go get him a Slurpee.
. . .
You know, a lot of people warned me that if I voted for Mitt Romney, a Wall Street robber baron who hid his money in secretive Grand Cayman bank accounts would end up running the U.S. Treasury.

I see Jack Lew is here tonight.  Good thing that job went to you instead, Jack.

Speaking of cabinet secretaries. Mr. President, while it was a nice bipartisan gesture, I still think it was a bad idea to have Romney’s pollsters prepare Chuck Hagel for his confirmation hearing…
Not bad, although slightly disappointing we didn't get a volcano monitoring reference.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Abolish the Senate

Crappily recreated from this amazing New York Times graphic.

These Senators represent 1/4th of the population:

These Senators represent the same number of people:

Abolishing the Senate is the greatest reform we can take, and it should be a long term goal of the progressive  movement.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Quote of the Year Nominee

Fraudster James O'Keeffe, after being successfully being sued for $100,000 by a former ACORN employee:
"Sadly, this is the cost of exposing the truth."
You really can't wish enough bankruptcy educing lawsuits on this racist piece of shit.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Rebirth of the Radical Right Under Obama

This is scary, but sadly not unexpected: (via digby)

While the more mainstream anti-government Tea Party movement faded from view as the GOP co-opted it in the past few years, the action has moved to the fringes, where the number of radical right-wing Patriot groups reached an all time high in 2012, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. What’s more, it’s the fourth year in a row that the record has been broken.

Conspiracy-minded Patriot groups first entered the public consciousness in the 1990s with the rise of the milita movement, and then the Oklahoma City Bombing. Now, the SPLC is warning government officials that they see eerie similarities between the current era and that leading up to the bombing.

“As in the period before the Oklahoma City bombing, we now are seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns,” the group’s president, Richard Cohen, wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

The number of Patriot groups peaked after the bombing in 1996 at 858, before falling off steeply and remaining low under George W. Bush. However, since the election of Barack Obama, the number of groups tracked by the SPLC has skyrocketed and continued to climb.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Segregated Busses: Happening in 2013, in Israel

Israel taking policy cues from Plessy vs. Ferguson, apparently:
Today, Israeli bus company Afikim will begin operating a “Palestinian-only” bus service to transport Palestinian workers to central Israel. Previously, Palestinians holding permits to work in Israel would use Israeli buses to travel to work there. Now Palestinians who try to use the Israeli buses will be requested to use the Palestinian bus instead. Although the Israeli Ministry of Transport cites overcrowding as the official reason for instituting segregated buses, a source from inside the ministry told Yedioth Ahronot that the decision was prompted by complaints from Israeli settlers that Palestinian riders could pose a security threat to other passengers.

Though many are outraged over the Jim Crow-like segregation, this is only the tip of an apartheid iceberg in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. To begin with, the Palestinians who are being asked to take the segregated buses are the privileged few with permits to work in the state of Israel. Most Palestinians living in the West Bank are not even able to travel to Israel on a segregated bus; their only options are to find work in the West Bank, which can be very difficult, or to sneak in and illegally work in Israel, which is low-paying and can result in arrest and imprisonment if they are caught.
In addition, segregation between Israeli and Palestinian passengers on public transportation is hardly new. In Jerusalem, the “Central” bus station operates buses connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, Haifa, the Dead Sea and several Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank. These buses do not have to stop at checkpoints—as the passengers are Israeli citizens, soldiers and settlers. Some of these buses—the settler buses—are heavily subsidized by the Israeli government, and thus often travel the city half empty. It's easy for these buses to have a set schedule. The bus station itself is indoors, air-conditioned and even equipped with a Kosher McDonalds.

But to travel from Jerusalem to a Palestinian city in the West Bank, buses leave from the Nablus Road Bus Station, the Palestinian bus station tucked behind the Old City of Jerusalem. These buses connect Jerusalem to Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem and several other smaller Palestinian towns and villages. They have to pass through checkpoints, often forcing passengers to disembark completely while Israeli soldiers check their identification to make sure that they are not where they are not supposed to be. None of the buses are subsidized by the Israeli government—and therefore can only leave once they are completely full, often brimming with passengers standing in the aisles. It's next to impossible for the buses to have a set schedule. The Nablus Road station itself is outdoors, unkempt and chaotic.
Your daily reminder that Israel is allowed to do all of this because of the unconditional support it receives from the United States.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Years After Deficit Pivot, Obama's Austerity is Here

I'll start by apologizing that I haven't been writing about this enough. At first I wasn't writing about it because I was positive these cuts wouldn't hit (and I'm still positive the defense side of the cuts won't actually go through), but I should have done more to make people aware of how dumb this whole project is regardless.

What is the Sequester?

These are 80+ billion dollars of cuts spread evenly between defense and non defense stuff that the government does.

Why the fuck are we cutting spending when the Economy still sucks?

Because people are really, really stupid. Over the past 3 years since Obama decided that he was President of cutting the deficit and abdicated his more traditional role of not trying to ruin the economy, there have been a series of high stakes negotiations where Obama and congressional republicans fight about who wants to cut government spending more. Each time they attempt a so called "grand bargain" where Republicans insist on a deal with only cuts to government spending, while Obama counters with a package of cuts mixed with a small tax increase on rich people and a cut to social security and/or medicare. Even when they reach a deal that is insanely tilted towards Republicans and is accepted by their leaders, the right wing of their caucus always rejects it because of some combination of not wanting to raise taxes on rich people and not wanting to be seen making a deal with the Kenyan Muslim. The most likely outcome of these deals is usually some last minute agreement to create a commission on how to cut government or lots of big sounding cuts that won't happen for the next 10 years (or at all). Until now the argument has been among all the right thinking liberals that "yes, Obama is advocating hurting the economy, but he doesn't really mean it and he's putting the Republicans in a bad political position with their own issue." Well, those days are over, and starting today, those cuts will actually begin harming economy.

But cutting government spending hurts the economy and taxing the rich doesn't help it... so EVEN HIS PROPOSAL doesn't help the economy at all. Why is he doing this?

He either:
1) Sees a political advantage in proving he cares about the deficit and is just taking it really really far
2) Thinks we need to cut government spending/social insurance.

So he's being really dumb either way?

Exactly! It's really hard to quantify how dumb this is, no matter what you want to believe about Obama's intentions. If he thinks he can prove he cares more about the deficit more than the people who "care about the deficit", then he clearly doesn't understand that NO ONE actually cares about the budget deficit. The people who claim to care about the size of the deficit actually just care about getting rid of social security/medicare/anything that helps poor people and they will never be satisfied. There is no end game for them. They will advocate "cutting the deficit" until it doesn't exist, at which point their advocacy translates into giving free money to rich people (see the Clinton Surplus/Bush Tax cuts).

So if these cuts go through, what happens?

It hurts the economy, and we may go into a recession again.

What is the likely end game at this point?

Right now it looks like the sequester cuts are going to happen for the next months, and then they will probably be wrapped up in negotiations over the Budget (which could shut down the government) and the Debt ceiling (which could crash the world economy). At this point it's really anyone's guess what the outcome is, but with both parties arguing for austerity and austerity already being implemented, my guess is that the deal will include some amount of austerity?

Will anything noticeable happen when cuts go into effect this next month?

Probably not. It seems like the various agencies will be able to juggle cuts for the next month or so, giving the  public the worst of all understandings as far as what's going on. The cuts will happen, and then there won't be noticeable changes, until later when there are noticeable changes, and by then the cuts will most likely have been baked into some sort of deal over the budget.

Are we really about to cut federal spending in a bad economy? How can this be happening?

There will always be nihilist morons who argue for these cuts no matter who is effected and what gets cut. The problem here is a president who as taken a slightly different version the conservative argument and made it the left flank of the public debate. For three years, we have had a shitty economy and a president telling the public he's trying to make it worse at absolutely every opportunity. While his words didn't cause austerity, he placed the country in a position where we have a choice between two varying types of austerity as the medicine for our economic troubles. By agreeing with the Republican psychopaths who pretend that is a major economic problem over and over and over and over he has single-handedly made countless Americans dumber. There really aren't enough expletives to describe this irresponsible and morally repugnant course of action. Republicans have shown a willingness to collapse the world economy with their actions, and to prove how reasonable he is President Obama has decided he's willing to send us into into another recession.

Fuck these people. We deserve better than a debate between two different ways of hurting the economy.