One of the BIG reasons that Republicans “Will Never Get Better” is their propensity for promoting nitwitty hacks who couldn’t hold their own in a high school debate club to positions of “thought leadership” in which they write “serious books,” post pseudo-intellectual op-eds for national publications and “win” fellowships to right-wing “think” tanks just like real people.
From those lofty perches, such bird-brains release their prodigious droppings into the idea stream from which the right-wingosphere drinks deeply. And so it goes . . .
One such avian diletante is Marc Thiessen whose bona fides include: a widely panned, book length apologia for the Bush administration’s propensity for torturing prisoners (Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack); a visiting “fellowship” at the American Enterprise Institute: and a regular gig hacking for the Washington Post, which appears to be helping Fred Hiatt immensely in his race to the bottom of the newspaper publishing heap.
Huh—for some reason, the Democratic president who won re-election—this first president since Eisenhower to win both his elections by 51% or more, wants to engage this fiscal cliff debate like a Democrat.
That’s because elections have consequences. Obama didn’t run on doing some big damn thing that wasn’t a part of his party’s platform, which has always been to protect entitlements. By derisively referring to the decision to restore the tax rates for the higher 2% earners to Clinton-era levels a “small ball”, Graham is not just engaging in an unfortunate double-entendre to imply that Obama’s figurative “balls” could be bigger, but is also reminding us that those rates that the Republicans want to make their line in the sand for the upper-income folks?
Ain’t no big. It’s what rich folks were paying before the Bush tax cuts went into effect and the economy was not doing poorly, then.
What Graham’s team is playing with, though, post-fiscal cliff issue, is a “big”. Not raising the debt ceiling is akin to saying we aren’t paying the bills. The lights get shut off and the phone doesn’t work. He’s talking government shut-down.
Seriously? We’re talking Clinton-era rates on the wealthy (who aren’t going to be hand-to-mouth if they pay a higher marginal rate, what?) vs actually shutting down the government, like Gingrich an’em did. How did they do in 1998? Exactly. What was it some Spanish dude said—those who don’t remember the past….?
I can’t talk enough about how disappointing Lindsey Graham is being. Really—you want someone to pay attention to you? Resign. Quit the damn Senate, go on a reality show or something. But this irresponsible talk is conduct unbecoming a respected Senator. He has got to know better than this.
But regarding the government shutdown/denying there is a debt ceiling mandate shit—glory days. Yeah, they’ll pass you by, glory days. In the wink of a young girl’s eye, glory days—glory days, amirite? Seriously GOP—get over it. Reagan will come back no more, and the Gingrich lies ready for the Green Room and dreaming. Your time is not yet and the stars aren’t right. Please to kindly not eat the American soul because you’re feeling all nostalgic.
The guy, above, is Dick Armey who’s spent decades as an inside-the-Beltway, Clinton-era Republican big deal emeritus until a freak lightening bolt on I-495, knocked him off his ass and, after a decade of political irrelevance, Armey was reborn as a grassroots activist.
Until recently, Armey held sway over the FreedomWorks TEA Party candidate factory where he juiced his retirement account with enormous consulting fees. Now that Armey has become irrelevant again, FreedomWorks has set him loose with a golden paraglider.
Nevertheless, old political pro that he is, Armey has a few “lessons-learned” for the Republican Party because he’s still a patriot at heart.
Armey shared his prescriptions on today’s broadcast of CBS This Morning (guess he’s been demoted from Sunday Morning to Monday Morning). According to Armey, the GOP’s biggest problem is “The stupidity, Stupid!” He went on to say that it’s the party’s job to support and train candidates (like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, perhaps) to keep their stupid thoughts to themselves in order to become stupid office-holders.
Now I could have told the GOP that for a lot less than $8 million but, evidently the problem is even bigger than I thought because the guy who’s delivering the message thinks this:
One of the things that we see as we look at Glenn Beck’s work that’s been fascinating to me, is we see a more true and accurate history of the United States, and we see it documented at levels of rigor that, in fact, one would expect out of Ph.D. dissertations — it is serious, scholarly work….[Liberal critics] don’t have to argue with Glenn Beck. They have to argue with his documentation and they can’t match that level of rigor.
Our hens raided the container garden during their free-range jaunt yesterday:
I never participate in the garden threads because my husband does every bit of the gardening around here. I couldn’t even grow a Chia pet or keep an air fern alive.
Anne Laurie’s early morning open thread featured the image of commenter Hitchhiker’s lovely cat in front of a Christmas tree. But instead of going, “Awwwww,” I went, “Sweet mother of fuck! It’s almost Christmas, and I haven’t done a damn thing!”
My fake tree and all the decorations are still in the shed. I haven’t ordered the Christmas dinner prime rib yet. We haven’t even quite wrapped up our kitchen renovations (although it’s mostly done – we lack cabinet toe-kicks and the backsplash only at this point), and our dining room still sports a bare concrete slab as we haven’t gotten around to laying the tile. Oh, and I haven’t bought the first present yet.
Why? Well, the home renovations have become a convenient excuse for being slobs. Why bother dusting or sweeping when there’s 70s-era glue on the walls where we ripped out the old laminate backsplash and bare concrete underfoot? We’ve actually enjoyed the respite.
As for the lack of Christmas spirit, it just doesn’t seem Christmas-y yet, partly because it’s been so warm. I’m a native Floridian, so warm Decembers aren’t a foreign or unwelcome concept to me. But it does seem unusual to get this far towards the solstice without once having to put on a pair of socks or rifle the closet for a jacket. There have been a few flannel-shirt-over-the-tee-shirt days, but I haven’t had to bust out the woolies. Nonetheless, there is work to be done.
Romneys Spread Loser Stink
Speaking of indolent people, Mitt and Ann Romney are continuing their loser tour. Noted fans of “sport,” the Romneys took in the Pacquiao-Marquez boxing match last night:
I don’t follow boxing, but I think Pacquiao was favored to beat Marquez. That was before Romney visited Pacquiao in his dressing room, exuding a giant cloud of loser dust:
“Hello Manny. I ran for president. I lost,” Romney told the fighter, according to Pacquiao publicist Fred Sternburg.
Then this happened:
“LAS VEGAS — Manny Pacquiao never saw it coming. He never saw the punch that snapped his head back Saturday and dropped him to the canvas and left him sprawled there momentarily, face down, while his wife sobbed uncontrollably and the packed crowd at MGM’s Grand Garden Arena rose to its feet in shock.
With that, a rivalry known for its lack of a definitive triumph suddenly had the most definitive ending of them all.”
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hope Mitt and Ann Romney decide to pay the Notre Dame locker room a visit prior to the BCS title game.
Speaking of Losers
Remember the group One Million 51,700 [homophobic] Moms (OMM)? No? Me neither, but this spring, they failed spectacularly in a bid to get Ellen Degeneres fired as JC Penney spokesperson. After that effort flopped, OMM director Monica Cole announced that the breeder klatch was “moving on.”
But a JC Penney commercial featuring Ellen and several Christmas elves attracted their ire again last week.
It wasn’t that Ellen groped a female elf in the ad or anything. It’s just that everyone knows she’s a lesbian, and think of the chiiiiildren!
Because the commercial that occasioned the protest was so innocuous, onlookers found the OMM action confusing. (Pro tip: When you have to explain why you’re taking umbrage, you’re not successfully inciting it.) So OMM declared that the group is “moving on.” Again. Maybe someday they actually will.
So I see Charlie Crist made it official. Color me unsurprised. Crist wasn’t a terrible governor. Unlike the evil rat-bastard who succeeded him, Crist actually viewed voting as a right even for non-Republicans and expanded ballot access during his tenure, measures that were rolled back by the aforementioned rat-bastard.
Crist was on the non-lunatic side during the shameful Terri Schiavo circus. He sided with teachers against the bill backed by edu-corp vultures like his former boss Jeb(!). And of course, Crist campaigned hard for Obama and might have actually made a difference in the squeaker outcome here in Florida.
Would Crist be a huge improvement over current Governor Voldemort should he choose to run against The Dark Lord in 2014? Well, yes. As far as we know, Crist doesn’t store his fragmented soul in a series of hidden Horcruxes, and he’s never delivered a State of the State address in Parseltongue.
But does anyone doubt for a second that if Crist had beaten Rubio in the GOP primary and become Republican Senator Crist, he would have been campaigning his ass off for Romney this year? Of course he would have. He’s not really a Democrat; he’s an opportunist.
Scott is less popular in Florida than citrus canker, so it seems like this would be an ideal opportunity to run an actual, honest-to-god Democrat for the state’s top office. But given the state of the Florida Democratic Party, Crist is probably the best we can hope for. I’ll damn sure vote for him if it comes to that.
Three middle-aged-to-elderly white conservative men recently discussed ways to broaden the GOP’s appeal. Here’s a key insight from their confab:
I see that the way we will get the Hispanics and the other groups, the Asians, as part of the Republican Coalition is to get them first part of the great American Coalition. Make them think of themselves, not make but, persuade them to think of themselves primarily as Americans.
Oh. Ma. Ga. I don’t think they can hear themselves, friends. Bless their hearts.
“First Lady Michelle Obama seemed excited over the abundant greenery, saying in her holiday address, ‘We have 54 trees in the White House—54. That’s a lot of trees.’ “
Prompting the usual suspects to enter melt down mode. Not only, does the White House have 54 trees, notes Winebox Annie Althouse but the first lady “decorously” refrained from CALLING THEM CHRISTMAS TREES! Double play! Dig at the big spending, lobster eating Michelle Obama and a gratuitous “war on Christmas” jab for good measure.
Yes, the Obama’s are going to let the country slide over the fiscal cliff. They’ll be riding all those Christmas trees while the rest of us just try to grab a branch or two. It’s always fauxrage day over something in Wingnut Land.
Well. We’re not quite a month beyond Republican Obamageddon: The Sequel and it would appear that the GOP’s lip-quivering, angst-y period of brutal self-assessment has been completed, in record time, and—guess what? no changes are necessary, there’s nothing wrong with Republicans, it’s the rest of the world that’s fked up.
That’s right. They’re going full gonzo doubledown and as Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo predicts: “There Will Be Hilarity . . .”
Roger that. There already is . . .
For example, we’ve had the week-long Willard “Mitt” Romney National Pity Party including a tear-stained piece in the Washington Post describing a haggard Mitt riding his bike aimlessly through the quiet streets of La Jolla, while Ann stays inside weeping in private. Evidently, she won’t even budge to hop on her dancing horse (Rafalca, likewise, is said to be sulking in her stall, seriously off her feed).
We have photos of Mitt pumping his own gas, for Pete’s sake, without any Secret Service to take a bullet for him and, then, there’s the sad, sad Cratchitt-y tale of the Romney’s Boston Market Thanksgiving dinner. (Actually, I would have taken the Romney’s for Chick-Fil-A folks . . .)
Noam Scheiber at TNR relates the sad but true story of how Mitt and his advisers relied on the results of flawed internal polling almost exclusively in the waning days of the campaign to confidently predict that Romney would win by a comfortable margin.
Scheiber charts out the predicted outcomes in swing states from the internal polls, which were composed of 2 day averages taken over the weekend before the election, compared to the actual results in those states. The contrast is head shaking. The polls underestimated Obama’s vote totals from 2 points to as many as 7 points in these states, all of which were won by Obama and not, as the campaign expected, by Romney.
It really begs the question of whether they ever even wondered why their poll results were so out of line compared to other polls being taken over the same periods by independent sources. The differences appear to be misguided assumptions about the demographic make-up of voters who would turn out combined with a belief that Romney was experiencing a surge of momentum in several of the states (helped on, no doubt, by all the people clapping hard for it to be true).
But before you schedule the fireworks display and invite all your big donors to fly their private jets in and help celebrate (to the extent that the airport was apparently in danger of running out of plutocrat jet parking spots) and decide to forego the concession speech, wouldn’t you want to, you know, nail down your figures a little more? Take a hard look at the assumptions and reconcile them to the assumptions being made by the pollsters who weren’t projecting a Romney landslide? Question things just a leeetle bit more? So poor Tagg didn’t have to melt down and Egg didn’t need to cry? No stiff upper lips for the gob smacked after all.
Not if you do things Mitt Romney Style I guess. Which brings me to the central point. What a bullet we dodged! Someone who is so ready to believe in the complete veracity of their polls when all the other polls are saying “no, no” (well, not all, exactly; Faux News was still out there, but still) wouldn’t even have to try and fake the WMD stuff to take us to war with Iran. He’d just send the troops in with that smirk on his face.
Well, a Speaker’s work is never done. While less important members of Congress get to lamely splash around in the shallow end of the Lame Duck session, sober serious men of import have things to do. So it is that Speaker John Boehner has spent the last few days consulting his personnel binders, astrological charts and donor lists to determine who’s been naughty/who’s been nice and who wins the Chairs of the Various House Committees. And, at last, the list of winners for the 113th Congress’ House Lobbyist Windfall Sweepstakes have been announced. And guess what? everyone on the list just happened to turn out to be Caucasian with a prominent Y-chromosome!
Yep, Speaker Boehner consulted his collection of White Dude Binders and found the perfect match for every House Chairmanship. What’re the odds they’d all be WHITE MALES?? Way to go, GOP! That ought to be a base broadener.
Boehner’s picks are pretty unremarkable except for a few boners (erm, pardon the pun) like appointing climate change skeptic, Lamar Smith (R-TX) to head up the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. (Maybe he got confused because Smith is a Christian Scientist?)
Another “notable” on Boehner’s short list is Paul Ryan to do an encore as Budget Committee Chair despite the fact that Ryan needed a special waiver because his term-limit was up. Guess it’s just unimaginable to have budget committee without Boy Blunder at the helm? Maybe a Special Extraconstitutional Proclamation naming Ryan Committee Chair for Life?
So Roasters, hoist yourselves another hearty holiday draught of Schadenfreude 2012 and drink deeply! mid-term elections will be here before we know it.
There, now. That’s over—the annual American Festival of Family Dysfunction that we like to call “Thanksgiving.” The day when American families of all sizes and backgrounds come together, whether they like it or not, to reaffirm their understanding that democracy, even at the lowest common denominator—the Family Unit—is a colorfully messy and overwrought business that leads to gorging and pathological excesses.
Our national holiday for giving thanks has necessarily turned into a four day Jamboree of Capitalism and Retail Mania signifying just how damned exceptional Americans truly are. Here’s hoping that all of you Thankful drank hearty, ate huge American over-sized portions of traditional-food-that-is-bad-for-you-unless-you’re-a-cowboy-or-farm-hand-or Michael Phelps-who-burns-12K-calories/day and are now prepared for the traditional Black Friday hangover cure of standing in long lines in the fresh air outside Big Box stores, for the opportunity to scarf up retailer-rigged bargains on junk from China (just don’t cross that Walmart picket line).
One of the less talked about benefits of Thanksgiving reunions is, of course, the chance to catch-up with that notorious experiment-in-genetics-gone-horribly-wrong that every family harbors (come on, admit it) and usually welcomes back to its bosom ONCE per year. This is the relative who shows up with a battery-operated dancing roast turkey on his/her head, an already opened litre of vodka in a brown bag and who arrives demented and/or drunk or gets there remarkably quickly. This is also the guest who is not too lily-livered to broach the subjects of politics, religion, race, queers or family history hot buttons to get the conversational ball rolling.
Trust me, this is all going somewhere relevant, because the very first thing that I read this morning, Black Friday 2012, was a bit about Crazy Uncle Pat Robertson admitting he got a few things wrong about this years predictions after his January Summit Meeting with The Lord. My first reaction to reading that item was “how long will this monstrous chucklehead receive national media attention for his racist, bigoted, xenophobic chats with God and his Magic 8 Ball?
Well, I guess Republicans just plain have a hard time curbing those GOP talking points, bless their hearts . . . even when opening their pieholes means still more embarrassment for the GOP. Evidently, Sen Rob Portman (R-OH) is not buying into the “better branding for tired out ideology” school of Republican Resuscitation.
You’ll probably remember Portman in his most recent role as the Obama Stand-In for the Rmoney Master-Debater Club. You may have forgotten by now, however, that Portman served several useful purposes during the George W. Bush administration, including Budget Director (2006-2007) for the administration which presided over turning a surplus into a record-breaking deficit. Let’s not forget that Dubya was the only President in US history profligate enough to pass an unfunded Medicare Advantage bill, two tax cuts and start two wars at the same time, yelling “deficits don’t matter” all the while.
One might expect that a “serious” person with world-class fiscal silliness like that on his resume might take a seat and be quiet for a while when the subject turns to the economy. But one would be underestimating the arrogance and puffery of the GOP which refuses to retire the nonsense about tax cuts for the wealthy creating jobs . . . or the foolishness about generating revenue through tax reform.
But noooooo . . . Portman campaigned for Romney and was considered for the Vice Presidency of an administration that promised to continue and reinforce those voodoo economic policies without bothering to share with the electorate how they expected to make it work after 30 years of documented failure. Portman probably considers himself a serious contender for 2016 and he’s still a standard-bearer for that failed Romney message:
I saw Nancy Pelosi’s comments … saying you can’t get enough revenues through the itemized deductions and closing loopholes. That’s just not accurate. I mean, it’s just not accurate. You can.
You can get more revenue if you wanted to. So I don’t know where her math is coming from. It sounds to me like it’s more just a matter of Democrat dogma that they want to be sure that people’s tax rates go up.
The problem with that is, it’s going to result in more lost jobs at a time when we’ve already lost too many.
Portman is probably referring to the idea that Romney floated, late in the campaign, to cap deductions. But from Obama’s perspective, the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts is one thing and the subsequent negotiations over reducing the deficit are another. Obama comes off the election with a strong hand to play on raising tax rates on the top 2%—NOW.
Howard Gleckman, of The Tax Policy Center, explains how capping deductions might work and why it might not work for Obama:
The politics of this would still be very tough. For instance, a deduction cap would hammer charities and they are already gearing up to fight it. TPC estimates that revenues would be cut by one-third if charitable gifts are excluded from a $50,000 deduction cap.
I’m not even sure these changes would get lawmakers all the way there. But they show a compromise is possible. There are ways, crude as they are, to hike taxes on the wealthy without raising their rates as much as Obama would like.
Still, there is another important issue to keep in mind. A cap would only fill the hole left by preserving the low rates now enjoyed by the wealthy. Thus, revenues from such deduction limits would no longer be available to help reduce the long-term deficit—a job that would then be more heavily weighted to spending cuts. And that may be the real reason why Obama is reluctant to use this tool in the short run.
Meanwhile, smart people who are sincere about job creation know that the thing that drives job creation is demand for goods and services. Smart people who are interested in long-term fiscal policy and “lessons learned from history” know that concentration of wealth always results in economic contraction.
It’s starting to really shape up that the criticism of the Obama Administration regarding the attack on the consulate at Benghazi is a lot of outrage about….the Obama Administration even existing. I was astonished that then-Republican candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney, chose to opportunistically seize on the deaths of four Americans because it was the sort of flail a losing campaign with a candidate who neither seemed to know or care to understand much about foreign policy might launch. Astonished that no one called it off—not astonished that it occured. The point being—I could remember exactly that sort of fail-flail occuring with a candidate who attempted to grandstand on an issue—the economy, which was not his known strong point, in exactly the same point in his campaign;
The candidate was Senator John McCain, and the event was the nonsensical suspension of his campaign and the further subsequent flail of calling together a group of his peers to try and hash out a plan. From then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson’s version of the events:
It was brilliant political theater that was about to degenerate into farce. Skipping protocol, the president turned to McCain to offer him a chance to respond: “I think it’s fair that I give you the chance to speak next.”
But McCain demurred. “I’ll wait my turn,” he said. It was an incredible moment, in every sense. This was supposed to be McCain’s meeting—he’d called it, not the president, who had simply accommodated the Republican candidate’s wishes. Now it looked as if McCain had no plan at all—his idea had been to suspend his campaign and summon us all to this meeting. It was not a strategy, it was a political gambit, and the Democrats had matched it with one of their own.
Finally, raising his voice over the din, Obama said loudly, “I’d like to hear what Senator McCain has to say, since we haven’t heard from him yet.”
The room went silent and all eyes shifted to McCain, who sat quietly in his chair, holding a single note card. He glanced at it quickly and proceeded to make a few general points. He said that many members had legitimate concerns and that I had begun to head in the right direction on executive pay and oversight. He mentioned that Boehner was trying to move his caucus the best he could and that we ought to give him the space to do that. He added he had confidence the consensus could be reached quickly.
As he spoke, I could see Obama chuckling.
McCain had nothing, then, and got called on it, just like Mitt Romney had nothing when, during the second debate, he stepped into the trap (“Please proceed, Governor”) that invited the moderator to actually perform an act of journalism and check the factual record, acknowledging that Obama from day one did consider the Benghazi assault an act of terror.
How is it then, that right after Mitt Romney’s notable shellacking in the election, that Senator John McCain decides to jump on the Benghazi bandwagon with both feet, so eager to publically smear Obama that he calls a potential nominee for Hillary Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State “none too bright” whilst he is literally blowing off a briefing to potentially get the kind of answers that he was seeking?
How does one shriveled human actually contain so much bitterness? I don’t even know. In his wake, the wingnuts who were in mid-flock are caught spouting gibberish by journalists who smell a rat.
This leaves me with the happy thought, espoused by Booman, that just like this was a non-story, maybe this means John McCain is finally persona non grata. I, too, have longed for the time when McCain inserted his platinum card to draw from the old Bank of American Trust, and finds it declined (hell, he should get a bill with penalties for being well and truly overdrawn). But I treat this non-story as a bloggable event in much the way a doctor is interested in symptoms—“He thrusts his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghosts.” I’d like to see the symptoms abate—and yet, I am watchful in the event that the screamers on the right will try to actually get their “Watergate-style” hearings—facts be damned! They see the ghosts.
They need them. Or they would have to face the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration’s greatest success is in not really being fuck-ups.
If Eric Cantor stabbed David Petraeus in the back in an attempt to embarrass President Obama, it would not be the first time that he stuck it to a fellow Republican. During last year’s debt ceiling negotiations, Cantor bucked Boehner’s authority as Speaker of the House. Eric Cantor is a false-friend worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy or a mafia movie. Part of me thinks that he might be engaged in a deep-cover Alinskyite plot to undermine the GOP from within (and then I come to my senses). It would be fun to spread this rumor in order to undermine Cantor, the man who single handedly prevented David Petraeus from rebuilding the Republican Party and taking it to victory (bonus hilarity at the link- d00d thinks Scott Brown should run in a 2013 special election if John Kerry becomes Secretary of State).
Let me open this by saying that I have nothing in particular against Charles Krauthammer. Indeed, I have a lot of respect for his career achievements—the man has racked up most of the “serious journalist” credentials that any writer can. But, Mr. K is human and, as such, subject to emotion and occasional error and, apparently, the results of the 2012 Presidential Election were shocking enough to derail even a “serious man” like Charles Krauthammer.
Krauthammer’s first foray into the post-election “light” was to reassure Republicans that they had gotten nothing wrong outside of subtlety, perhaps, and that their candidate, Mr Willard Romney was a generally swell fellow who would have made a generally swell Chief Executive. Seriously? Mr. K has also hastened to reassure the GOP that President Obama’s win means nothing, in the grand scheme of things. Obama has no mandate, he has no plan and he’ll be over before they know it. SNAP!
Close on the heels of that nugget of political “good advice,” came Mr Krauthammer’s rather patronizing opinion that Hispanics are just a big happy crowd of wanna-be-Republicans in brown-face who will follow you anywhere if you shout “Amnesty” at them. The basis for Mr. Krauthammer’s estimation that Hispanics are “natural Republicans” is that they are hardworking, family oriented people with “traditional” values, unlike the rest of us. His conceit is that the Republican Party holds the moral high ground in the country and therefore should be the tent that “all the best people” flock to.
One might expect that Krauthammer could have worked out most of his Obama-animus with those screeds and exited with a portion of dignity still intact, but he wasn’t finished with Obama by a long shot, because his nose for a “BIG story” led him right to the Petraeus Affair—and his absurd little conspiracy theory about how the Obama administration blackmailed and then sacrificed the god-like Petraeus to cover up Obama’s “incompetent” handling of the Benghazi attack.