Browsing the blog archives for December, 2011.


When Freedom Is Dictatorship

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Obama Administration

Really, what is it about wingnuts? They love to march around with slogans about “liberty” and “freedom” on their T-shirts, but give ‘em half an inch and they take a mile of everyone else’s freedom.

I thought about that the other day when I read that Scott Walker is trying to use a conservative judge to have Wisconsin’s recall law declared unconstitutional. This is how many totalitarian governments start, you know; not with tanks in the street but with people in power quietly rigging the system to keep their power. And the loyalty oath thing in Virginia is just creepy. But, hey … it’s all in the interest of “smaller government,” right?

Cough.

Steve Benen writes that the payroll tax cut is unlikely to be extended beyond March. He says this because the Republicans named to the “conference committee” are on record as being hostile to middle-class tax cuts.

Kyl, for example, was instrumental in sabotaging the super-committee process, and was described by Democratic negotiators as “walking napalm.” Crapo and Barrasso, meanwhile, are two far-right senators who’ve never demonstrated any willingness to accept concessions on anything.

What’s more, note that the House GOP leadership has already announced its conferees, most of whom have already said they don’t want a payroll-cut extension no matter what concessions Democrats are willing to make.

Very likely the plan is to blame Obama an the Dems for not cooperating on the tax cuts. And we’ll see what the Dems do about that. Will the American people continue to reward the bad behavior of Republicans in order to punish Democrats for not standing up to Republicans?

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Today’s Facts & Follies

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Obama Administration

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has found a friendly judge to hear his argument that recalling him is unconstitutional.

‘Americans between the ages of 18-29 narrowly have a negative perception of capitalism (46 positive, 47 negative), but are positive towards socialism by a 49/43 margin.”

Rick Santurum’s simple plan to eliminate poverty. Simple: Finish high school and get married, and your financial problems are over. Um, Rick, this may have worked for you, but not everyone is eligible for wingnut welfare.

Steve Kornacki, The GOP versus Ron Paul.

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Obama Derangement Syndrome and Other Pathologies

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Obama Administration

Glenn Greenwald has an article at the Guardian that is being roundly dissed for its implication that Ron Paul is a stronger supporter of civil liberties than President Obama. Yeah, he really does imply that, toward the end.

Angry Black Lady is all over that, as is Tom Hilton and Matt Osborne. I have nothing else to add.

An editorial in the New York Times asks,

When will the Internal Revenue Service crack down on the secret political money already flooding the 2012 campaign from partisan operatives ludicrously claiming to be “social welfare” activists under the tax law?

Offshoot groups created by partisan gurus — Karl Rove pioneered the practice — claim the 501(c)(4) status as do-gooders that allows them to keep the names of their donors secret, unlike traditional political operations. Democrats are hard at this secret megamoney race, too, with Obama campaign veterans politicking as the supposedly independent and socially minded Priorities USA.

The need for the I.R.S. to curb this abuse is vital, especially with the Federal Election Commission paralyzed by its Republican members.

An interview of Tom Franks at Salon is worth reading.

What Moves Republican Crowds in Iowa? Nothing good.

IMO Peta should leave Manhattan horse-drawn carriage owners alone and go after real abuse and neglect of horses.

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The Wingnut Year in Review

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Some more good articles — Brian Beutler, “The GOP’s Year Of Living Dangerously: What Did Its Hardline Strategy Produce?” and Ezra Klein, “Newt Gingrich’s health-care problem — and the Republican Party’s.”

You probably heard that Newt missed getting on the Virginia primary ballot. Turns out one of his campaign workers turned in too many phony signatures.

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Stuff to Read

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Obama Administration

Charles Pierce dissects Mittens

Oh noes! Another debt ceiling hike!

“They might as well rename the ‘Iowa Republican Caucus’ to the ‘Abortion and Gay-Hating Referendum‘”

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The Wealth Gap

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Obama Administration, Republican Party

Puck, 1879; Library of Congress

[The child in the lower left-hand corner is saying to an official, "If you don't remove these people from the streets on the score of Charity, do it for Decency's sake."]

Thomas Edsall writes that Mitt Romney is running against entitlements.

Mitt Romney wants to stigmatize most “safety net” spending – the array of social insurance programs from Medicare to food stamps to unemployment compensation to free school lunches — as a form of welfare that is “cultivating government dependence.”

Of course, Republicans have been running against “welfare” forever. It’s been a particularly effective strategy for them since the 1960s, when they began to paint “welfare” as a transfer of money from middle-class whites to impoverished blacks. At the time, the white middle class was enjoying the fruits of almost four decades of the New Deal; the economy was sweet, and upward mobility (for them) a given.

So, overlooking the way government programs had improved the standard of living of a generation of whites, whites told themselves that those people were moochers who didn’t work hard enough. And since then the white middle class has more or less stood aside and allowed the malefactors of great wealth to dismantle the government programs that had made the white middle-class lifestyle of the 1960s possible.

The question is, how long will this scam continue to work?

Polls conducted since 1972 by the General Social Survey show that by margins of two to one, voters consistently say too little is spent on the poor, on education, on health care, on drug treatment — the list is long.

However,

The 2-to-1 level of support found for spending on the poor for health care and other social services disappears when voters are asked specifically about welfare, according to the General Social Survey; when that word is used, voters by a better than 2-to-1 margin, 49.3 percent to 21 percent, say that “too much” is spent. In other words, a politician can either use the phrase “spending to help the poor” or the words “welfare” and “entitlement” to describe the government programs to alleviate hardship and therefore produce antithetical reactions in the public.

And, not surprisingly, a lot of the antipathy against “welfare” still is being driven by whites, who are far more likely than Americans of other races to say that too much is spent on welfare. And the word “entitlement” rankles many people, because it suggests that some undeserving underclass thinks it is “entitled” to something for nothing.

Romney argues that “entitlements” smother opportunity. Historically, programs that have given people a hand up actually have created opportunity, since people who have some education, some food in their stomachs and a permanent address are more likely to get and keep jobs and even start businesses than those who don’t. Extreme poverty can push people down so far that just surviving from day to day is a challenge, and climbing up nearly impossible.

The question is, how much of the white middle class is still clueless enough to assume the poverty bell could never toll for them? As opposed to, say, the number who realize a lost job or a catastrophic medical bill could cost them everything they have? As it appears more and more likely Mittens will be the GOP nominee, I guess we’ll see.

There is speculation the whole political class is growing out of touch with the peasants. See Growing wealth widens distance between lawmakers and constituents: “The growing disparity between the representatives and the represented means that there is a greater distance between the economic experience of Americans and those of lawmakers.”

The nature of political campaigning pretty much ensures that anyone elected to a high political office has to have some connection to wealth, and a growing percentage of Congress critters are people who have always lived in what we might call “comfortable circumstances.” As Kevin Drum says, Mr. Smith ain’t goin’ to Washington.

I’ve said before that Americans can be bamboozled about foreign policy, but they do eventually catch on when the issues touch on their personal experiences. I don’t think the remote and patrician Romney will be all that marketable next year. But I could be wrong.

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No More Animal Videos, I Promise

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Obama Administration

Just stuff to read –

See “John Boehner: the latest Tea Party stooge ” by Gary Younge:

The Republican party’s internal division and public humiliation this week felt like a moment that was such a long time coming it seemed as though it would never arrive. But the ramifications are not limited to Congress. The very mayhem that has been evident in Washington DC this week has been playing out in Iowa and New Hampshire these past few months, and will continue through the coming presidential year. Adrenalin could keep the Tea Party going only so long outside the fetid ecosystem of Fox News, talk radio and the internet, before reality intervened and forced some kind of reckoning. They can’t have everything they want, and won’t take the considerable amount they can get. So they cast around from crisis to crisis and candidate to candidate exploding with rage and imploding with contradictions until there’s very little left but the venom.

See also Ezra Klein, “‘No Labels’ Stops Whining.”

Update: I’m not posting this, notice. I’m just linking to it. It doesn’t count.

Paul Krugman, “Springtime for Toxics

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I Can Take It If You Can

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Obama Administration

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Merry Merriment

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Obama Administration

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Follow the Money

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Wingnuts Being Wingnuts

Wingnut welfare.

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