So. Apparently, over the weekend, the GOP did just what Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) predicted. They “. . . figure(d) out they F*ck*n lost,” the government shutdown spin cycle and have executed an impressive grande jeté in the general direction of the debt ceiling.
Do not, however, expect that the change of focus to a far more damaging objective will, in any way, temper the illogical ignorance, silliness and breathtaking incompetence that Republicans brought to last week’s discussions, debates and posturings.
Nope. This is only Monday and we already have howlers ranging from Sen. Tom Coburn’s(R-OK) belief that there is “no such thing as a debt ceiling” to Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-FL) hallucinatory vision that not raising the US debt limit would “have a stabilizing effect on global markets.”
A lot of folks, on both sides of the political spectrum, have expressed some amount of surprise that House Republican leaders have come out so unequivocally and forcefully in support of President Obama’s plan to carry out a military strike against the Syrian regime for its use of chemical weapons on its own population.
I, myself, would like to go on record as not the least little bit surprised by that development. Let’s face it, it sucks to be a Republican in Obama’s second term. It’s one thing to keep a straight face for four years of birthers, conspiracy theories, socialism, creeping sharia and Agenda 21 if it’ll get you the cracker factory vote. But now, given the cyclical nature of government business, it’s time to act the fool all over again for very diminished returns.
For nine long months, Republicans have been biding their time, waiting for another chance to take a whack at the economy. That doesn’t mean they had a clue or anything approaching a consensus on how they would play it, nevertheless they were ready to rumble—nine whole days in September, to threaten a government shutdown. Then, round about the holidays, the BIG EVENT - debt limit, dundundun.
On August 1st, no one would have predicted that a punitive attack on Syria would zip to the top of the agenda. When Republicans went off to their home districts and summer vacations, they were all about defunding Obamacare, shutting down the government, defaulting on their debt and trying to forget their humiliating Farm Bill debacle.
If, as Mitch McConnell claimed at CPAC today, the Democrats’ 2016 “presidential ticket looks like a rerun of the Golden Girls,” given that the all-star lineup at CPAC 2013 includes in its cast Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor, Steven Crowder, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, Ron Johnson, Wayne LaPierre, Dana Loesch, Reince Preibus, Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Wayne Allyn Root, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Ben Shapiro, Allen West, the ghost of Andrew Breitbart, and Mitch himself, what rerun shows would best encapsulate:
(a) CPAC 2013?
(b) the Republicans’ prospective 2016 presidential ticket?
‘Speaker of the house’
Isn’t worth my spit!
And lifelong shit!
Cunning little brain
Thinks he’s quite a leader
But there’s not much there
What a cruel trick of nature
Landed us with such a louse.
God knows how we’ve lasted
Abiding with this bastard in the house!
My apologies to Herb Kretzmer, whose brilliant Les Miserables lyrics (English) should not be taken in vain, and to you, gentle Roasters, but since we’ve all been plunged into the misery of sequestration, I just couldn’t resist. [see the movie!]
We should though, I guess, take some comfort that, as mystified as “we the people” are by the behavior of our duly elected representatives, they are no more clear on what’s going on there.
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.
In addition to civic duty, I’m willing to admit that part of the reason that I voted for Barack Obama was revenge. That was the last small, petty bit of silliness that the Romney campaign dragged around to the must-win states that they didn’t win—an offhand remark from Obama: “Voting is the best revenge!” Naturally, because this is what a flailing campaign does, they tried to construe this as something other than the obvious point:
You vote against Romney and move on. Don’t hate—just win.
I’m not as chill as the President is. I like winning, and I like that we did. But I still have some bad feelings, so let me sum up more ways in which it is revenge, and not just because “living well is the best revenge.” (Which I will always hear in Ivana Trump’s voice, interestingly.)
You also vote because the bastards don’t want you to, and together we work on doing what we need to do. You look at the disenfranchisement, the long lines, the attempts to end early voting, the robocalls and leaflets that gave wrong election dates and the negative ads not designed to make people vote for a given candidate—but to make them give up their franchise in despair. You look at all that undemocratic fuckery and you have to vote. You have to try and change it. You have to believe that we can do better; but more than that, we have to do it together.
And for Obama’s part, he has to keep the faith with us that we put in him—and his victory speech is long on the promise that he will keep that faith. But here’s a thing he doesn’t have to worry about now—re-election. His mandate is that he did get re-elected this time. He has four more years. It’s all he’ll get. So this “why doesn’t he make a big friendly bipartisan gesture” talk I’m hearing?
Boehner and McConnell can fold that noise up into all sharp corners and sit on it until 2014. If they want to continue to be obstructionist, that’s fine—but the next referendum is on them. And voting is the best revenge.
Romney is telling voters that it’s a nice little country they’ve got there, and it would be a shame if something were to, you know, happen to it. Ryan told an evangelical group founded by uber-crook Ralph Reid that the president’s policies undermine “Judeo-Christian” values.
What other whoppers will they lob before the day is out? Perhaps we can gauge their desperation by how close they come to screeching about a Mandingo eating their baby…
I’ve been taking some time out from blogging in this last week or so before the Poll To End All Polls.
This was partly out of deference to the savage storms whose aftermath some of you folks are going to have a hard enough time living through without some anonymous smartarse from Scotland looking out his window and muttering, “60 m.p.h. winds and horizontal rain—barbie weather!”
It also took a while for Ms. YAFB to rev up on the runway at Glasgow airport through one canceled flight and eventually jet stateside to visit her own version of Republican Mom/Lefty Daughter Hell, with Thanksgiving and eventual escape a long, LONG way away when you’ve the prospect of no heating, phone, Internet, or lights. She’s now safely landed, picked her way over of the NY State relics of the storm and people’s livelihoods and dreams, and miraculously somehow managed to have power restored to her mom’s house within an hour of arriving, so some of our Brit can-do stiff upper lip has obviously rubbed off over the years. If you get a GOTV phonebank call from an excitable jetlagged woman with a faint Scottish burr, a tendency to profanity, and a pathological distaste for Mitt Romney, treat her kindly.
I’ve also been wary of reenacting the Guardian‘s infamous Clark County Project of 2004. This predictably disastrous experiment in transatlantic diplomacy rallied well-meaning lefty readers to write to undecideds in Ohio in the hopes of drumming some British common sense into them along the lines of “Quit voting for Bush, WTH are you thinking?!”, garnering reactions ranging from “Have you not noticed that Americans don’t give two shits what Europeans think of us?” through “Please be advised that I have forwarded this to the CIA and FBI,” to “KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ LIMEY HANDS OFF OUR ELECTION. HEY, SHITHEADS, REMEMBER THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR? REMEMBER THE WAR OF 1812? WE DIDN’T WANT YOU, OR YOUR POLITICS HERE, THAT’S WHY WE KICKED YOUR ASSES OUT. FOR THE 47% OF YOU WHO DON’T WANT PRESIDENT BUSH, I SAY THIS ... TOUGH SHIT!” and beyond.
Oh, I’ve still been keeping apace with what I can glean from various online resources, and from what I can see from that limited perspective, Mitt & Co. look like they’re resignedly scaling the first steps of the Kübler-Ross model. But a lot of what’s been cooked up in the way of late gamechangers from the Mittens camp and hangers-on is just desperate replays we already covered a month or more ago, like Fox news’s Benghazigate drive, all of which have been overshadowed by meteorology and President Obama opportunistically acting all presidential and competent and hanging out with his BFF Chris Christie. Indeed, other than a few flurries of stupidity that have leaked out from some public speeches, it looks like Romney and Ryan have largely been trying to keep their heads down, presumably for fear of forgetting which of the policy positions they once proclaimed they’re now abandoning because they’re running for election, for Pete’s sake.
In among all this, I’ve been marveling at what a total damp squib Ryan’s been on the stump, given the rapturous welcome that greeted his pick as the HAWTNESS on the ticket. Last I looked, even Free Republic was back to revolting against the Yoke of Mittness. With just a few longer-form interviews as support from his running mate, Mitt’s been driven to serve as his own attack dog throughout, slinging zingers and recycled lies from his windy vantage point on the roof, and ostentatiously dispatching stocks of his own hot Groundhog Day fudge to the needy in New Jersey and points west where echoes from his denunciation of FEMA are drowning out his recent sudden change of heart. If I compared being attacked by Ryan or Romney to being savaged by a dead sheep, I’d not only risk angering flyover country, I’d be underestimating the viciousness of zombie sheep (not to mention ripping off one Denis Healey).
It’s probably been a frustrating few months for Ryan, doomed to beta male groupie status and hampered by a near total lack of charisma in trying to shake off the utter rout that was his VP debate performance. He’s been seeking succor by doodling on napkins what the future might hold if his prayers are answered and he finally escapes the deadend daily drudgery of serving as the Republican Party’s fiscal boy wonder among the grizzled congressional rabble, as the gloriously named Trip Gabriel at the NYT managed to shake out of nameless gabby “aides” yesterday:
... if the Republican ticket prevails, Mr. Ryan plans to come back roaring, establishing an activist vice presidency that he said would look like Dick Cheney’s under President George W. Bush.
Now THAT’s what I call a lede! They’re going to be hiring White House caterers, by the sound of it:
Mr. Ryan would dedicate most evenings to dinners with senators and House members of both parties, aides said, as he steps into the role Mr. Romney promised: architect of a Romney administration’s drive to enact a budget that shrinks the government and overhauls programs like Medicare.
In Lundtspeak, of course, “shrink” translates as “render totally inoperable and thus irrelevant” and the “overhaul” is likely to resemble my babyhood tendency not to consider any toy truly played with till I’d reverse-engineered it into a messy pile of component parts destined for the trash. But where did that Dick Cheney comparison come from? Are we in HuffPo headline territory here?
(H/T: Political Carnival)
Kid Malarkey believes in traditional values, and what could be more traditional than a Republican VP candidate with a slush fund? Paul Ryan seems to have given it a novel twist by using his congressional reelection bid as a means to funnel resources to the Romney campaign. The famed budget-slashing Randian whiz kid blew through seventy-five thousand dollars of his House reelection money at the four day Republican National Convention, where he had a total staff of…five. What, besides beer and brats, could the Wisconsin Slasher have bought in Tampa for that amazing amount of money? Hotel rooms—lots of them, particularly in the Romney campaign’s hotel, where the Ryan House campaign wasn’t staying.
In case the blurring of funds between Kid Malarkey’s house and VP bids doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s enough for Ryan’s campaign director, Kevin Seifert, to turn into John Lovitz while talking to the Observer’s investigative reporter:
And so Kid Malarkey went into the soup kitchen, and lo, though he washed lasagna pans, yet still was his apron as white as snow, and the Liebrul Media did mock. And the director of the soup kitchen did reprove Kid Malarkey and his advance people for lo they eschewed the proper channels. At which the disciples raised a great hue and cry, for nobody dast mock Kid Malarkey. And the donors frowned on the soup kitchen, and their hearts were hardened, and they did close their checkbooks. And the hungry people did marvel, for lo, Kid Malarkey had turned soup into whine.
Mitt Romney is selling himself to the American electorate as the consummate Chief Executive Officer, uniquely gifted with all of the right stuff to turn the ailing US economy around, in a hurry, because—Bain Capital! my friends—where Romney allegedly resurrected struggling companies and created jobs.
David Stockman, a Reagan administration budget director, recently called “Foul!” on that particular bit of Romney-myth. Stockman provided a pretty scathing Op-Ed, in The Daily Beast, of Romney’s qualifications, or lack thereof, to administer the US budget. According to Stockman, Romney’s success at Bain Capital is simply evidence of how our financial system is rigged for those who know how to play it. (More about that, in a minute.)
According to Stockman:
Mitt Romney was not a businessman. He was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped, and stripped businesses.
Bain’s billions of profits were not rewards for capitalist creation; they were mainly windfalls collected from gambling in markets that were rigged to rise.
This is not earth-shattering news, President Obama’s team has pressed hard on Romney’s Bain years throughout the campaign. The story here is not so much what’s being said but who’s saying it. Stockman was budget director for President Reagan until he resigned, in 1985, over the administrations runaway deficit spending. He was a managing director at Salomon Brothers and has some personal experience in private equity and leveraged buyouts so, his not a purist and he knows whereof he speaks.
Romney’s real talent, according to Stockman, lies in:
. . . his 15 years raising debt in prodigious amounts on Wall Street so that Bain could purchase the pots and pans and castoffs of corporate America, leverage them to the hilt, gussy them up as reborn “roll-ups,” and then deliver them back to Wall Street for resale—the faster the better.
Stockman then goes on to explain that such financial manipulations would hardly be worthwhile in an honest free market economy because it doesn’t create any economic value. But it works exceedingly well in the rigged economy that we have created:
- a regime of crony capitalism—where the tax code heavily favors debt and capital gains, and the central bank purposefully enables rampant speculation by propping up the price of financial assets and battering down the cost of leveraged finance.
Stockman then does a deep-dive substantiating his claims, that is definitely worth the long-read. But, for my purpose, Stockman’s conclusion, stated above, fits perfectly with the conclusions that many are coming to regarding the financial wizardry of Mitt Romney, and how he—and his running-mate might run our economy, if elected.
As the dust settles slowly from the VP debate, the election trundles on regardless, the polls take their own sweet time to give any clear indication of WTF is going on, and Paul Ryan fans feverishly adapt to the abject drubbing their idol took by collapsing onto the crowded fainting couches of denial, Philip Klein at The Washington Examiner twangs his readers’ last nerves by pointing out a quirk of the Constitution:
It might be hard to believe after his assault on Mitt Romney in last night’s debate, but there’s a scenario under which Joe Biden could serve as Mitt Romney’s vice president.
As noted in an earlier post, there are plausible scenarios under which next month’s election could result in a 269–269 electoral vote tie, which would send the presidential election over to the House of Representatives. Such an outcome would favor Romney over President Obama, according to an analysis by the Washington Examiner.
But in such a case, it would fall on the Senate to choose the vice president, with each Senator getting a vote. Given that it’s quite possible (arguably likely) that Democrats will retain control of the Senate, it means that they could vote for Biden to remain on as VP, even if the House elects Romney as president.
In theory, if the election outcome is a 50-50 Senate, Biden could be the tie-breaking vote for himself. This would allow him to remain on as VP and for the Democrats to retain effective control of the Senate. It would also usher in the Romney-Biden administration.
Clear some space around Treacher if you do, since Klein caps his musings with:
If the House ends up deadlocked in choosing a president, then the candidate the Senate chooses as vice president would be sworn in as commander in chief. In other words, this scenario could produce a President Biden.
So far, today, Joe Biden is taking a lot of undeserved heat from conservatives, over his debate etiquette—poor Mr. Ryan came armed with his Mr. Serious pomp and circumstance, his note-taking utensils and gallons of H2O, ready to take his rightful place at the grown-ups table. And then he opened his mouth . . .
And, of course Joe laughed—Paul Ryan was laughable, it is simply absurd that any American political party would consider a candidate like Paul Ryan a viable contender for its highest office. And no, I didn’t just, make a mistake. I know that Paul Ryan is only running for vice-president but candidates for V-POTUS are always only a heart attack, a plane crash or an assassin’s bullet away from becoming President.
It is an irresponsible voter that dismisses vice-presidential candidates as less-important walk-ons who can get by with flyweight qualifications and make it up with on-the-job training. Just as it is an irresponsible political party that fields a two-dimensional vice-presidential candidate to serve as window dressing to round out the slate’s appeal to the base (but then, again, this is the same party that put up Sarah Palin, so . . . ).