Sunday, August 28, 2011

How fast are they working?

I'm collecting clips, quotes, and miscellaneous tidbits from various and sundry right-wing revisionists about how the hurricane Irene preparations, evacuations, and states of emergency were over-the-top, unnecessary, and wasteful. Specifically, if anyone has seen examples of fox news or their friends trying to paint reasonable foresight as media "hype", scaremongering tactics, etc.

I have collected around 15 examples, and will be putting them in a video, but if you've seen anything especially interesting, especially in local news, please let me know in comments, or share/PM them to me on my YouTube channel bushonomics.

I knew that, because the Obama administration and various governors actually took Irene's potential seriously--announcing states of emergency early for example--that our friends over at fox would do everything they could to paint preparedness as stupidity and precaution as silliness.

This is of course an attempt to paint Obama as just as ineffectual as Bush was before/during/after Katrina's aftermath. This of course is a steamng pile of bull feces. If enough of us point out that it is better to be safe than sorry, we might (slightly) diffuse this particular effort at revisionism.

Thank you for your help.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Lady Marcus and his closet full of BS

As I understand things, Marcus Bachmann believes that gay men should only be allowed to marry females... Although he doesn't bother to specify whether the females in question must themselves be not-gay.

This is a small step along a progression that we've been seeing in the right wing for over a decade:

- Marriage is only between members of the opposite sex.

- The whole point of marriage is to produce children. Gay couples cannot do that.

- Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, just like one chooses to eat only organic foods, or opts to develop one's career before starting a family, or other such elective life choices.

- If we allowed gays to marry, they would indoctrinate their children into the "gay lifestyle."

- Marriage is between *one* man and *one* woman.

Every single one of these talking points derives from a biblical proclamation made over 2500 years ago. For people that wear their evangelical stripes with pride, it isn't surprising that they don't acknowledge that Jesus said exactly zero about homosexuality. They'll quote new testament verses that vaguely support the notion that Jesus' arrival on the scene signaled a selective continuation of various old testament laws, but not others.

Their mental gymnastics would make Mary Lou Retton hand in her medals:

What of the old testament dietary rules? Nah, that's not what Jesus was on about.

What about unclean vs clean animals? Nope, not that either.

What about animal sacrifice as a method of worshipping god? Nope.

What about polygamy? Nope - somehow, without saying shit about it, EVER, Jesus clearly mandated that monogamy was the sole acceptable option.

Anything on the rule that women weren't to speak in the temples? Nope - that's ok.

How about the rule that if a man's brother were killed in battle, the surviving brother must take his former sister-in-law as his wife? Of COURSE not.

What about the rule against homosexual behavior?

Hey you abominations, OBVIOUSLY this was Jesus' intention, and it was what he specifically implied when he said that he came not to undo the old covenant, but instead to fulfill it.

Well, unlike slave ownership and the mandate that a woman must be stoned to death if it is determined that she married after losing her virginity, it appears that anti-homosexual attitudes were silently sanctioned by the son of god, even though he never brought them up, and represents yet another instance of evangelicals forcing their selective biblical interpretations on the public they purport to serve, under a Constituton they swear to god to defend and uphold.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Grover Norquist's Pledge Losing Adherents

In the last few weeks we have seen two Republicans, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE) and Rep. Charles Boustany (LA), break away from their adherence to the Norquist no-tax pledge. Citing the need to be flexible in their search for a compromise, they both acknowledged that the pledge is too constraining. Others, such as Sen. Tom Coburn (OK), have clashed publicly with Norquist over ideological differences in the interpretation of what, exactly, a "tax increase" is.

I don't think much of anyone who pledges not to do ANYTHING that might possibly be interpreted as a tax increase, and it is nice to see several defectors here. Apart from the dozens of polls that all show overwhelming support for a deal that includes some sort of increased revenues, there is also the common sense aspect: don't set out on a cross-country road trip with only enough gas to get halfway, and promise you won't purchase any more fuel but instead will drive more slowly, and therefore somehow complete the journey.

Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform in many ways represent the most dogmatic of the supply-siders, and their influence on Capitol Hill is substantial. When a group is willing to risk a United States credit default in order to hold to their viewpoint, and enough of Congress sides with them that it grinds an ordinarily straightforward process to a halt, that group is dangerous to the economy.

I am pleased to see these defections, and I encourage anyone who has a spare minute to contact any of the signatories of this blockheaded pledge and let them know how you feel.

Don't forget to CC Grover when you do.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Governor" Palin? How about "Mayor"?

Do you think that if a governor chooses to end his or her term early, they should still have the privilege of being addressed as "Governor" such-and-such?

I realize that the tradition, generally speaking, is to retain the highest title one has held in government. Or at least to be referred to as "former (office title)" blah blah. In the case of the President (both current and former), there is even a special song that can only be played in certain contexts.

But if an officeholder elects to cut their term short, voluntarily, with no mitigating medical issues, for example, should they retain their former title? I'm not talking about a person who finishes a term (think Gerald Ford); nor am I thinking about a person who has become unable to serve for one reason or another.  Some offices are often left voluntarily and with honor, such as life-term judgeships.

For instance, in World of Warcraft, doing certain cool things earns you different titles like Battlemaster or Light of Dawn. Players can choose which title to display, or they can display no title at all.  Nice to have that flexibility.

Are ex-officeholders able to cycle through their titles like WoW characters? "No, Tom, tonight you may refer to me as Battlemaster Palin."  Or, "No, Megyn, I prefer to be called Twilight Vanquisher Palin."

I propose that if you ever run into Sarah Palin, you should use HER alternate title: Mayor.

I can hear it now...

"Mayor Palin! Mayor Palin! Can you tell us how you've managed to learn so little about American history during your PAC-funded bus tours, in spite of being at the historical locations themselves, having plenty of time to explore and learn, and of course having access to all the best tour guides and support?"

[And yet when she appears on a remote interview, she's almost always in front of some huge lake with lots of pine trees and snow in the background - hate to break it to ya, Mayor, but that's not what Chicago looks like]

Of course, this would be a breach of etiquette, and you probably wouldn't get invited back to any press conferences.  Nonetheless, allow me to draw a more precise comparison.  A friend of mine refers to his stepfather as "Dad" and his biological father as "the guy who ran out on my mom when I was 9 to live with some underwear model in Reno."

Perhaps referring to Sarah Palin as Mayor would emphasize the fact that we won't let it be forgotten that she abandoned an office of trust in order to shill for Rupert Murdoch, sell books, and take pointless "vacations" at the expense of her PAC.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wisconsin Recall Elections: Dems 2, Reps 4

The Democrats didn't do as well as they had hoped in yesterday's series of State Senate recall elections, winning 2 of the 6 races, and dropping the Republican majority in the State Senate to only 1.  A variety of factors were at play here, so it is difficult to paint this as black and white defeat for Democrats, as Fox Nation is already doing.

The amount of money that flowed into the state just for these recall elections was a staggering $30 million, compared with a total of $3 million or so spent on all state elections in Wisconsin last year.  In addition, recall votes, at least in my experience, tend to be tilted toward the incumbent (the "give 'em a second chance" rule) unless they've done a really bad job in the eyes of most voters.  Remember that each of these recall elections required the collection of around 15,000 signatures, so if a group is determined to get a recall vote on a ballot, it's not that difficult to do so.  There are two more recall elections coming up next week, in which two Democrats are being challenged.

The expected recall process for Governor Scott Walker is already getting cranked up.  Wisconsin law doesn't allow recall elections unless the incumbent being recalled has served for more than one year, so the recallers have to wait until January 2012 for their attempt.  Statewide, recall advocates will need to collect roughly 500,000 signatures in order for that to happen, and based on the amount of activity in the current process, I have the feeling they'll get it done.

Wisconsin Recall Elections

Wow! What a nailbiter this evening has been.

Looks like Democrats will be looking at one last race in order to claim a simple majority in the Wisconsin State Senate.

Many observers are looking to these recall elections as a predictor of the national races in 2012.  However, it is difficult to say how applicable the Wisconsin results will be, due to the enormous financial difference between these recall campaigns and the 2010 election season.

According to campaign finance watchdog groups in Wisconsin, the total spending on the recall elections has been approximately 10 times as much as the 2010 campaign spending across all races in the state.  It is obvious that people, including big donors, are focusing on these recalls, but whether such a huge financial focus will actually skew the results is anyone's guess.

In the short-term, we'll be talking about the individual races, their respective spending, the actions of the recalled candidates and why they got booted out.  In the medium-term, the focus will shift to an expected recall challenge to Gov. Scott Walker.  In the long-term, if Walker, too, is booted out, that will send a strong message to the national campaigns next year.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bachmann: Queen of Rage?

Like many people who at least try to use their sense of reason from time to time, I don't like the vast majority of Michele Bachmann's positions, political & social views, hypocrisies, past statements about everything from US history to gay marriage (the list goes on)...

However, I do need to take objection to the following Newsweek cover:

This is exactly the type of thing that fuels the so-called "left-wing mainstream media hates conservatives" talking point that many of our friends on the right like to invoke every single time someone objects to something or someone conservative.

The Newsweek article itself shows some bias, but it comes across much more as a fact-finding and fact-checking document than a "time to bash another conservative" hatchet job.

However, people at magazine stands will see only the cover, and the Fox propaganda machine is already rallying forces to cry foul and do their exaggerated outrage routine about this.  In this particular case, though, I'll have to agree with them to an extent.  Calling her the "Queen of Rage" is, to me, irresponsible.  Making her sound like she's Harvey Beale or something just doesn't help, and it definitely provides fodder for the other side to use to distract people from the irrational positions she holds.

I'm looking forward to whether The Daily Show will have a segment about this.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

After the Day of Prayer and Fasting

Hallelujah, rattle your drawers and swing low, sweet chariot, comin' for to bring Texas rain.

Texas Governor Rick Perry called for prayers in order to ask for relief from a significant drought, the worst in Texas in over 100 years.  There were a few protesters here and there, but by and large the prayers were offered up without too many problems, and the level of participation was pretty good, according to organizers.

Of course, that was back in April 2011, when Gov. Perry called for and held a 3-day long prayer vigil to ask the gods for rain.  And because prayer always works, the drought ended, crops are booming, and everything is completely fine.  Thank gods for that!

Hah, just kidding.  Unfortunately, that 3-day vigil back in April appears to have had essentially no effect whatsoever, because the drought is still going strong.  Obviously Gov. Perry admitted it was a failure, because he felt compelled to set up another Pray for Rain thing, which drew 30,000 or so yesterday at Reliant Stadium.

This time, instead of doing a three-day Pray for Rain thing, they set up a one-day Pray and Fast for Rain and Our Economy thing.  People who seemed to be in trances dancing in the aisles, lots of arms raised in supplication, some fairly in-tune singing, and of course long lines at the food vendors in the stadium there.  I don't know about you, but I can't pray seriously without a beer and a loaded chili dog in my gullet.

Based on the record thus far, the score is Natural Processes 1, Pray for Rain things 0.

Give Gov. Perry some credit, though: it was a clever move to include economic recovery in the list of intentions, as it will be much easier to blame any minor improvement on yesterday's Pray & Fast for Rain thing.  It was doubly clever to keep the drought petitions local and economic petitions national, since Perry is one of the worst CEO's of Texas in history, and therefore that state is highly unlikely to hear any good economic news.

Anyway, gods as a group have a longstanding reputation for answering only really really VAGUE prayers.  The more specific you are, the more likely you'll get ignored; the more vague you are, the easier it is to take credit for anything you want.

This case won't be any different.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mr. Cantor, meet Mr. Arithmetic

Eric Cantor is of the opinion that any extension of unemployment benefits should be offset with equal cuts, usually targeting other social safety net programs.

Considering that unemployment benefits are the only form of government stimulus which directly affect people in an immediate economic crisis, and considering that the economic benefit they generate is almost twice the outlay, it seems a little stupid to fight them in ts way.

Many times, someone who is unemployed also qualifies for one or several different programs, such as AFDC, WIC, or food stamps. Making cuts in these programs in order to extend unemployment benefits doesn't give additional solace to the struggling unemployed person, because the extension gets used up when their other sources of assistance dry up or are otherwise eliminated.

For the majority of unemployed people in a recession, the issue isn't that they like living on their social safety net in lieu of getting a job. The issue is that a recessionary environment, among other things, means that the supply of jobs is much smaller than the corresponding demand.

This isn't a question of paying people not to work, unlike various farm subsidies, for example. This is an issue of basic arithmetic. At LEAST, if you're going to play the "no spending without equal cutting" card, don't routinely suggest making cuts from the same class of spending as you'd like to increase.

Your time will be better spent looking for ways to streamline agencies, eliminate waste, etc.

Of course, this is all assuming that revenues aren't in the picture. Cantor says that eliminating the Bush tax cuts will cause fewer jobs to be created. The studies show that using some of the revenue from those cuts to provide unemployment extensions as a bridge while the economy recovers is one of the most efficient uses of a stimulus dollar.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

After all the shenanigans, FAA is left out

I understand how exhausted members of Congress must be after having spent so much time and energy dealing with the whole debt ceiling/preserve stupid tax cuts process.

However, it would have been nice to see them link up their post-deal "it's all about jobs" rhetoric with simple action to keep the FAA in business.

With Congress in recess, there are currently some 4,000 FAA workers who have been furloughed, airport inspectors are working for no pay, and various projects are on hold, throwing roughly 70,000 airport construction workers into unemployment.

Well done, Congress. I think this is actually one issue where the majority of the blame can be evenly divided among everyone on the Hill, in spite of certain specific people who played a larger role in the process of inaction.

Reality will always win

Just a quick note to any ideologues who believe that a balanced budget amendment makes any sense: it doesn't. And here is why:

Requiring a balanced budget attempts to defy the reality that shit happens. What do you balanced budget enthusiasts propose to do when there is a major natural disaster? An earthquake a la Japan that cripples a region, affects local and regional economics, etc? How about if the US is attacked again? How about another major oil spill?

Assuming that you are willing to help, willing to earmark special funds and programs to help those communities recover and rebuild (and unfortunately that might be pretty far-fetched for many teatowelheads), where do you get that money? Do you propose maintaining massive rainy day funds? Or will you make a dollar-for-dollar tradeoff? Say, $1 billion to help out the victims of an earthquake in southern California, but $1 billion stripped from education funding?

The reality is that a truly balanced approach will take into account revenues as well as cuts and/or streamlining. Just so we are clear, "revenue" means "tax increases" and/or "closing of loopholes".

It amazes me that polls show that the citizens are tired of watching Congress work SO hard to keep irresponsible, unneeded, and regressive tax cuts in place while simultaneously threatening social safety net, quality of education, infrastructure, and a whole host of other projects which truly are investments in the future.