Posts tagged politics
Posts tagged politics
THE LIBERAL MEDIA.
Another fun/sad fact from this: Trivial news on campaign “strategy” has dominated the media coverage over actual policies by 6:1.
Mitch McConnell kind of looks like a nerdy turtle.
In the twelve hapless years of the present millennium, we have looked on as three great bubbles of consensus vanity have inflated and burst, each with consequences more dire than the last.
First there was the “New Economy,” a millennial fever dream predicated on the twin ideas of a people’s stock market and an eternal silicon prosperity; it collapsed eventually under the weight of its own fatuousness.
Second was the war in Iraq, an endeavor whose launch depended for its success on the turpitude of virtually every class of elite in Washington, particularly the tough-minded men of the media; an enterprise that destroyed the country it aimed to save and that helped to bankrupt our nation as well.
And then, Wall Street blew up the global economy. Empowered by bank deregulation and regulatory capture, Wall Street enlisted those tough-minded men of the media again to sell the world on the idea that financial innovations were making the global economy more stable by the minute. Central banks puffed an asset bubble like the world had never seen before, even if every journalist worth his byline was obliged to deny its existence until it was too late.
These episodes were costly and even disastrous, and after each one had run its course and duly exploded, I expected some sort of day of reckoning for their promoters. And, indeed, the last two disasters combined to force the Republican Party from its stranglehold on American government—for a time.
But what rankles now is our failure, after each of these disasters, to come to terms with how we were played. Each separate catastrophe should have been followed by a wave of apologies and resignations; taken together—and given that a good percentage of the pundit corps signed on to two or even three of these idiotic storylines—themy mandated mass firings in the newsrooms and op-ed pages of the nation. Quicker than you could say “Ahmed Chalabi,” an entire generation of newsroom fools should have lost their jobs.
But that’s not what happened. Plenty of journalists have been pushed out of late, but the ones responsible for deluding the public are not among them. Neocon extraordinaire Bill Kristol won a berth at the New York Times (before losing it again), Charles Krauthammer is still the thinking conservative’s favorite, George Will drones crankily on, Thomas Friedman remains our leading dispenser of nonsense neologisms, and Niall Ferguson wipes his feet on a welcome mat that will never wear out. The day Larry Kudlow apologizes for slagging bubble-doubters as part of a sinister left-wing trick is the day the world will start spinning in reverse. Standard & Poor’s first leads the parade of folly (triple-A’s for everyone!), then decides to downgrade U.S. government debt, and is taken seriously in both endeavors. And the prospect of Fox News or CNBC apologizing for their role in puffing war bubbles and financial bubbles is no better than a punch line: what they do is the opposite, launching new movements that stamp their crumbled fables “true” by popular demand. [++]
Who Owns Washington?
In the wake of Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy in 2008, many were left wondering how the financial sector had become so integral to the world economy that its collapse could bring the economy to its knees. Writing for Mother Jones in 2010, Kevin Drum explores how the financial lobby grew into the most powerful lobby in Washington, and how that power persists even today:
This is a story about politics. It’s about how Congress and the president and the Federal Reserve were persuaded to let all this happen in the first place. In other words, it’s about the finance lobby—the people who, as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) put it last April, even after nearly destroying the world are “still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they frankly own the place.”
But it’s also about something even bigger. It’s about the way that lobby—with the eager support of a resurgent conservative movement and a handful of powerful backers—was able to fundamentally change the way we think about the world. Call it a virus. Call it a meme. Call it the power of a big idea. Whatever you call it, for three decades they had us convinced that the success of the financial sector should be measured not by how well it provides financial services to actual consumers and corporations, but by how effectively financial firms make money for themselves. It sounds crazy when you put it that way, but stripped to its bones, that’s what they pulled off.
Two years later and still painfully spot-on.
We think of lawmakers having one job: making laws. But there’s a second job most lawmakers have to do. And it’s a big job.
“I think most Americans would be shocked — not surprised, but shocked — if they knew how much time a United States senator spends raising money,” says Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin. “And how much time we spend talking about raising money, and thinking about raising money, and planning to raise money.”
And this second job — the raising-money job — doesn’t happen in the nice congressional offices, with the rugs on the floor and landscape paintings on the wall. That would be against the rules.
So senators and congressmen go across the street to private rooms in nongovernmental buildings, where they make call after call, asking people for money.
In other words, most of our lawmakers are moonlighting as telemarketers.
The fundraising never stops, because everyone needs money to run for re-election. In the House, the candidate with more money wins in 9 out of 10 races, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics. In the Senate, it’s 8 out of 10.
It’s not uncommon for congressmen to average three or four hours moonlighting as telemarketers. One lawmaker told me if it was the end of the quarter and he really needed to make his numbers, he’d be there all day long.
There’s not always time to do both jobs. And often, the fundraising wins out over the lawmaking.
So… set amount of money for every candidate (that polls high enough) and that’s all they get to spend on an election?
House Republicans have passed the Paul Ryan budget resolution, a sweeping plan that slashes long-term mandatory spending, goes under the discretionary spending targets set by the debt limit deal, cuts taxes for the rich and corporations, changes Medicare to a voucher program, eliminates Pell grants for hundreds of thousands of students, and generally authorizes just about every conservative wet dream you can name. And after all that, Ryan’s budget doesn’t even balance until 2040, because it’s nearly impossible to do so without anything on the revenue side.
The vote was relatively close, with the budget passing 228-191. Ten Republicans voted against the budget resolution, up from four last year. Here they are:
Walter Jones (NC), Jimmy Duncan (TN), Tim Huelskamp (KS), Chris Gibson (NY), Justin Amash (MI), Todd Platts (PA), Ed Whitfield (KY), David McKinley (WV), Denny Rehberg (MT), Joe Barton (TX).
Not too many of those votes are because the budget wasn’t conservative enough: that explains Huelskamp, Amash and maybe Barton. The others face tough re-election battles, or in the case of Rehberg are running for Senate in Montana. Walter Jones is just idiosyncratic. But I agree with Dave Weigel, 10 Republicans out of 238 isn’t that many, considering they’ve opened themselves up yet again to charges of ending Medicare as we know it (regardless of what Politifact says).
Rick Santorum seems to catch himself right before calling President Barack Obama a nigger at about 15 seconds into the video.
Glen Coco at Vice has the scoop:
This is presidential candidate Rick Santorum (holy shit does that look scary written down) delivering a speech in Janesville, Wisconsin a couple of days ago. And, as you can see in the above video, it seems like he might have been on the verge of calling Obama a “nigger”… Santorum’s rolling out the racist gaffes about once a quarter so far in 2012, after this slip of the tongue back in January. (He was actually saying “blah people”, guys! Duhhh.)
Wow. I’m really not sure how he could walk this back, but honestly, with today’s GOP migrating backwards in time, I’m not sure he needs to walk it back.
And that is so very depressing.
Georgians who lose their jobs next year could see fewer unemployment checks under a bill passed by the state Senate. Supporters say it will help re-pay $700 million Georgia borrowed from the federal government to cover unemployment reserves.
The bill would cut the amount of benefits jobless workers receive by as much as half. And it would mandate a one-week waiting period before workers start collecting benefits.
“For more than a decade, Georgia basically cut unemployment insurance taxes that employers were paying, even when times were good,” Richie said in an interview in December. “And in fact in the period from 2000 to 2003 virtually all employers paid no unemployment insurance tax.”
As a result, she says the state depleted more than half of a $2 billion reserve. The fund would have had more money if the state had then followed through with planned increases in the unemployment insurance taxes companies pay.
“It’s just important to understand we don’t have a spending problem in the state when it comes to unemployment insurance,” she said. “We have a revenue problem.”
As You Like It, Act II, Sc. 7
(Source: , via sarahlee310)
Who uses the death penalty worldwide. It’s a lovely club we’re in.
Dems To GOP: No Cover From Us On Medicare Privatization Plan - When House Republicans unveil[ed] their 2012 budget on Tuesday, they are expected to include a Medicare privatization plan endorsed by one Democrat — Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). That, Republicans will claim, proves their controversial overhaul proposal has bipartisan support. Leading Democrats say they won’t let the GOP get away with it. “We don’t see a difference in principle between the original Ryan plan and the so-called Wyden-Ryan plan,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) a party surrogate on health care issues, told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “It’s equally bad or only marginally different but still would end Medicare as we know it.”