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by Cujo359

Progressive Idiocy: Did You Know That Mitt Romney’s Really Rich?

12:55 am in Uncategorized by Cujo359

Caption: Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. You may not have been aware of this, but he’s way richer than I am.

Image credit: Jessica Rinaldi/Wikimedia

Can we talk? I mean, really. Put down that glass of whatever, and try to find something to lean on, because I don’t want you to lose your equilibrium. There, that’s better.

I don’t give a crap how rich Mitt Romney is.

There, I said it. Pretty shocking, isn’t it? But there it is. I don’t care. Well, OK, I care a little. There are days when I think it would be just wonderful if the person in the White House had some earthly idea what most of us go through in our lives. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s been the case for a long, long time. I think the last time there was a President who actually had some idea what it was like to be a working stiff was when Ulysses Grant was in office.

Presidents are rich people. If for no other reason, we know that because they can afford to take off two years or more from whatever they are supposedly doing to run for office. They have to know a lot of rich folks so they can start advertising and setting up a campaign. Every President of modern times has done this, including the current one.

So I don’t care how rich Romney is. Every President is way richer than I am. They’re all way richer than you are. Do you think it really matters that Romney is richer than Barack Obama? Until they moved to DC, the Obamas lived in a house that almost none of us could afford.

Being rich doesn’t have to mean that you aren’t concerned about how everyone else lives. Teddy Roosevelt was rich; so was his cousin Franklin. Jack Kennedy was rich. Somehow, they all acquired some idea what it was like for everyday people, at least enough to implement policies that made our lives better. Being rich, or even talking about it a lot, doesn’t make you unable to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

It’s just more difficult.

Once you’re rich enough that you don’t have to work ever again, there’s really not much more that can separate you from the common man, except maybe being so rich that you can buy absolutely anything you want. I suppose Romney’s that rich, but it really doesn’t matter. His opponents, no matter if it’s Mister “I’m From A Steel Town” or Mister “I’m From A Big City With A Corrupt Government”, don’t have any idea what it’s like to have to worry about bills or whether the kids get those braces they need. They certainly have no idea what it’s like to wonder what happens when you get sick and can’t afford medical care.

Even Mister “Man From Hope” had to learn most of that from someone else.

So, I don’t care how rich Mitt Romney is. I don’t care how many times he talks about how many NASCAR team owners he knows, or why the Missuz needs two Cadillac SUVs, or why he can’t seem to stop reminding us how rich he is. Because, folks, they’re all rich. Most of them have absolutely no idea what it’s like to be you or me. That’s why they’re where they are. At least there’s one thing we can honestly tell ourselves that Mitt Romney has never lied about.

What I care about is that Romney’s economic policies look an awful lot like President Obama’s, as do his health care policies, his foreign policies, and his policies about just about anything else worth mentioning. That, and that they all suck at least as much as Obama’s policies.

Now you know the dark secret of my soul. I hope you can forgive me someday, even if you’ll never be able to respect me.

by Cujo359

The Rich And The Power To Demand

4:59 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

Caption: A rich kid who gets it. If there were more like her, we wouldn’t need protests.

Image credit: Buzz Feed

Two weeks or so ago, Expat, someone who often leaves interesting comments at my blog, wrote this regarding an article I’d written on the Occupy Wall Street protests:

The lower photo probably is the best depiction of the greater part of the upper class elite that I have ever met; conscientious, caring, secure in their person and most often generous in some form or another. These qualities are not those of the MOTU corporate CEO type pathologically driven psychopaths endeavoring to accumulate dynastic levels of wealth from their privileged positions of management.

Unfortunately the word wealth doesn’t distinguish between these types, and neither do those who rage against the rich.

Quote Of The Day [Oct. 12, 2011]: Comment by Expat

He was referring to the photo that leads this article, which is of an apparently wealthy young woman speaking out against the injustices that the Occupy people are protesting. That’s the original caption, and I daresay I still think it’s an accurate one. Whatever they may feel about this, I don’t see a great many of her fellow “one percenters” joining in on this.

Read the rest of this entry →

by Cujo359

Mr. Wonderful Spurned Us Again

1:20 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

There is so much about Greg Sargent’s account of a conference call between the Obama Administration’s spokesperson David Axelrod and some progressive bloggers that epitomizes the relationship between Democratic Party leaders and progressives these days:

"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We’re the girl you’ll take under the bleachers but you won’t be seen with in the light of day."

Axelrod didn’t engage on "hippie punching," but he said he agreed with the blogger. "To the extent that we shouldn’t get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn’t agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can’t afford that. There are big things at stake here."

Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point — that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don’t make our jobs harder," she said.

"Right back at’cha. Right back at’cha," Axelrod replied, a bit testily, an apparent reference to blogospheric criticism of the administration.

Liberal Blogger Directly Confronts David Axelrod, Accuses White House Of "Hippie Punching"

You know, this lament just screams out for some sappy country music. Cue the Dixie Chicks:

There, that’s better.

The first rather obvious conclusion is that the Obama Administration clearly is not really interested in communicating with progressives. Of course, many have realized this for a long time. Any communication has been about what progressives can do for the Obama Administration, not the other way around. In that context, Axelrod’s response was clearly more of the same.

The second is that the Obama Administration clearly doesn’t expect criticism from its friends. That’s not what real friendship is, because friends never agree on everything, for one thing, and it’s sometimes the role of a friend to give someone the bad news about what he’s done to himself. The Obama Administration doesn’t want progressives to be their friends. They want us to be their bitches.

Which brings us to the final point – how interesting Madrak’s metaphor of the girl who lets herself be taken under the bleachers is in this context. That sort of thing strikes me as OK, as long as it’s clearly understood that it’s a quickie and that’s all it’s going to be (though the expression "no glove, no love" comes to mind.) But when Mr. Wonderful comes around later asking to borrow $50, and oh, yeah, maybe he can squeeze you into his schedule next week while the Homecoming Queen is out of town, then you have a decision to make. You can either say "Sure baby, whatever you want", or you can tell the asshole that if he wants $50 then he can mow your lawn for the next few weeks, and don’t forget to trim around the roses. People with their self-respect intact tend toward the latter response.

And therein lies the progressives’ problem. No one at that conference call stood up and said "if you want our help, you will accomplish ..", and then went on to listing some things that Obama promised to do during the campaign but hasn’t yet lifted a finger on. They just acted like they wanted to please, but didn’t quite think they were up to the job.

Which, I suppose, is among the reasons they’re all on the A list of bloggers and I can’t average 100 visits a day. Clearly, I don’t understand how that big time political stuff works.

When progressives have enough self-respect to tell Mr. Wonderful to do something useful or take his act elsewhere, progressives will finally have real power. At this rate, I think that day will come about the same time that Satan is bobsledding to the office.

Yes, I’ve written this before, lots of times. It’s pretty clear that none of those A listers has been paying attention. So, I’ll make this simple, because they clearly are really busy people: If you’re not willing to stand up for yourself, then you’re not going to get jack from people like Barack Obama.

So, try to fit a little bit of self-respect into your schedule.

by Cujo359

The Census In A Table

2:16 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

In researching the article on the floods in Pakistan, I happened upon the chart at the U.S. Census’ website of changes to the population and the distribution of U.S. Representatives thanks to the recent census.

In a nutshell, the states that are losing representation are, with the number lost in parantheses:

  • Illinois (1)
  • Iowa (1)
  • Louisiana (1)
  • Massachusetts (1)
  • Michigan (1)
  • New Jersey (1)
  • New York (1)
  • Ohio (2)
  • Pennsylvania (1)

Those gaining seats are:

  • Arizona (1)
  • Florida (1)
  • Georgia (1)
  • Nevada (1)
  • South Carolina (1)
  • Texas (3)
  • Utah (1)
  • Washington (1)

In short, our population is shifting from the Northeast and the Rust Belt to other parts of the country. The two most notable changes are Ohio’s loss of two representatives, and Texas’ gain of three.

It might seem that this represents a shift toward more conservatism in America, since most of the states that lost representatives are more progressive, and those that gained mostly aren’t. Other than Texas, though, I think this can be viewed as further urbanization of America. Urban populations tend to be liberal, because they require more government than rural populations. At least, that’s been the trend. Arizona, New Mexico, and Florida have shown tendencies in that direction. While I wouldn’t count on Utah becoming a progressive nirvana anytime soon, the trend isn’t entirely the bad news it might first appear.

Here’s the entire table, which I lifted lock, stock, and HTML from the U.S. Census site:

  Population Electors House Seats
State 2010 Change 2000 2012
2016
2020
Change 2004
2008
2012
2016
2020
Change 2004
2008
Alabama 4,708,708 +247,578 4,461,130 9   9 7   7
Alaska 698,473 +69,540 628,933 3   3 1   1
Arizona 6,595,778 +1,455,095 5,140,683 11 +1 10 9 +1 8
Arkansas 2,889,450 +209,717 2,679,733 6   6 4   4
California 36,961,664 +3,030,866 33,930,798 55   55 53   53
Colorado 5,024,748 +712,866 4,311,882 9   9 7   7
Connecticut 3,518,288 +108,753 3,409,535 7   7 5   5
Delaware 885,122 +100,054 785,068 3   3 1   1
District of Columbia       3   3      
Florida 18,537,969 +2,509,079 16,028,890 28 +1 27 26 +1 25
Georgia 9,829,211 +1,622,236 8,206,975 16 +1 15 14 +1 13
Hawaii 1,295,178 +78,536 1,216,642 4   4 2   2
Idaho 1,545,801 +248,527 1,297,274 4   4 2   2
Illinois 12,910,409 +471,367 12,439,042 20 -1 21 18 -1 19
Indiana 6,423,113 +332,331 6,090,782 11   11 9   9
Iowa 3,007,856 +75,933 2,931,923 6 -1 7 4 -1 5
Kansas 2,818,747 +124,923 2,693,824 6   6 4   4
Kentucky 4,314,113 +264,682 4,049,431 8   8 6   6
Louisiana 4,492,076 +11,805 4,480,271 8 -1 9 6 -1 7
Maine 1,318,301 +40,570 1,277,731 4   4 2   2
Maryland 5,699,478 +391,592 5,307,886 10   10 8   8
Massachusetts 6,593,587 +238,019 6,355,568 11 -1 12 9 -1 10
Michigan 9,969,727 +13,898 9,955,829 16 -1 17 14 -1 15
Minnesota 5,266,214 +340,544 4,925,670 10   10 8   8
Mississippi 2,951,996 +99,069 2,852,927 6   6 4   4
Missouri 5,987,580 +381,320 5,606,260 11   11 9   9
Montana 974,989 +69,673 905,316 3   3 1   1
Nebraska 1,796,619 +81,250 1,715,369 5   5 3   3
Nevada 2,643,085 +641,053 2,002,032 6 +1 5 4 +1 3
New Hampshire 1,324,575 +86,160 1,238,415 4   4 2   2
New Jersey 8,707,739 +283,385 8,424,354 14 -1 15 12 -1 13
New Mexico 2,009,671 +185,850 1,823,821 5   5 3   3
New York 19,541,453 +536,480 19,004,973 30 -1 31 28 -1 29
North Carolina 9,380,884 +1,313,211 8,067,673 15   15 13   13
North Dakota 646,844 +3,088 643,756 3   3 1   1
Ohio 11,542,645 +168,105 11,374,540 18 -2 20 16 -2 18
Oklahoma 3,687,050 +228,231 3,458,819 7   7 5   5
Oregon 3,825,657 +397,114 3,428,543 7   7 5   5
Pennsylvania 12,604,767 +304,097 12,300,670 20 -1 21 18 -1 19
Rhode Island 1,053,209 +3,547 1,049,662 4   4 2   2
South Carolina 4,561,242 +536,181 4,025,061 9 +1 8 7 +1 6
South Dakota 812,383 +55,509 756,874 3   3 1   1
Tennessee 6,296,254 +596,217 5,700,037 11   11 9   9
Texas 24,782,302 +3,878,308 20,903,994 37 +3 34 35 +3 32
Utah 2,784,572 +547,858 2,236,714 6 +1 5 4 +1 3
Vermont 621,760 +11,870 609,890 3   3 1   1
Virginia 7,882,590 +781,888 7,100,702 13   13 11   11
Washington 6,664,195 +755,511 5,908,684 12 +1 11 10 +1 9
West Virginia 1,819,777 +6,700 1,813,077 5   5 3   3
Wisconsin 5,654,774 +283,564 5,371,210 10   10 8   8
Wyoming 544,270 +48,966 495,304 3   3 1   1
Totals 306,406,893 +24,982,716 281,424,177 538   538 435   435

Apologies if not all of the table’s columns are appearing in this article. That’s because this particular page format is limited to about 600 pixels across. That makes it all but impossible to get a wide table like this in it. If you set the font size of your browser to 15 pixels or smaller, you should be able to see the whole thing.

Of course, you might not be able to read it.

UPDATE: For you Posix users, there’s a utility called kmag that may help. Set the pixel size on your browser to 15 or smaller, then you can use kmag to magnify the table.

by Cujo359

Another Democratic Politician Punks Out

1:19 am in Uncategorized by Cujo359

(This article was posted Aug. 19 at Slobber And Spittle)

Quick, don’t look down at the paragraphs below this quote. Tell me who you think said this yesterday:

"I’ve gotta believe there has to be a compromise here. This isn’t about the right of Muslims to have a worship center, or Jews or Christians or anybody else to have a place to worship, or any place around Ground Zero. This is something we ought to be able to work out with people of good faith. And we have to understand that it is a real affront to people who’ve lost their lives — including Muslims. That site doesn’t belong to any particular religion, it belongs to all Americans and all faiths. So I think a good, reasonable compromise could be worked out, without violating the principle that people ought to be able to worship as they see fit."

Transcript by Talking Points Memo

So, who was this guy? Was it:

  1. Barack Obama
  2. Newt Gingrich
  3. Harry Reid
  4. Howard Dean

This time, the answer that looks like the easy one you can eliminate right away is, in fact, the correct one.

Howard Dean said this.

Apparently, Dr. Dean thinks that a symbol of overcoming the sort of religious bigotry that was at the heart of the World Trade Center attacks would be a whole lot more poignant if it were relocated to New Jersey.

Are there any Democratic politicians left in DC who aren’t afraid to use their minds?

Let me try to make clear for Dr. Dean, and anyone else who thinks this is something other than another example of Democrats pandering to bigots whom they should have learned to ignore years ago, why this is quite possibly the most egregiously stupid thing to come out of his mouth since he graduated from college.

First of all, there are plenty of Muslims who lost someone in the WTC pile, like the family of this young man:

Imagine being the family of Salman Hamdani. The 23-year-old New York City police cadet was a part-time ambulance driver, incoming medical student, and devout Muslim. When he disappeared on September 11, law enforcement officials came to his family, seeking him for questioning in relation to the terrorist attacks. They allegedly believed he was somehow involved. His whereabouts were undetermined for over six months, until his remains were finally identified. He was found near the North Tower, with his EMT medical bag beside him, presumably doing everything he could to help those in need. His family could finally rest, knowing that he died the hero they always knew him to be.

Muslim Victims of September 11th AttackMuslim Victims of September 11th Attack

In a nutshell, this story explains what this is really about – suspicion and ostracism of people who are different, both in their ethnic background and religious background. Salman Hamdani was doing something heroic – seeing if he could help out in a dire situation. He died trying to help his fellow New Yorkers in that disaster, but the first act of his government was to suspect him of being a terrorist, because he was from the Muslim world (he was born there, but his family moved here when he was one year old, according to Wikipedia), and because he was a Muslim. As one of Hamdani’s friends wrote a year and a half later:

Salman illustrates for me the best about humans, but his story also illustrates the worst about us: the hostility, the suspicion that surrounded him because his name, nationality and faith were different. Today, American society has caved in under the shock of the World Trade Center attacks, while powerful opportunists have used our fear as a jumping off point for their pre-existing agenda to wage war and cancel civil liberty.

In Memory of Salman Hamdani

Those opportunists haven’t gone away, and the so-called leaders who should have learned to resist by now are still caving.

In the long history of immigrants coming to America, this has been a common theme. The Irish weren’t accepted until the end of the 19th Century. Germans were discriminated against, sometimes violently, during World War I. One of the particularly ironic things about this is that there was a time when many Americans thought going to war on the side of Germany was better than siding with England, our old enemy. The Chinese and Japanese who lived in America until the latter part of the 20th Century have even worse tales to tell.

There’s also no small irony in this: there are many synagogues within a few miles of the WTC. Israel’s perpetual war with its neighbors was one of the underlying causes of the 9/11 attacks, as veteran foreign correspondent Peter Bergen wrote:

By Bin Laden’s own account, this is why al Qaeda is attacking America. His critique has never been cultural; he never mentions Madonna, Hollywood, homosexuality or drugs in his diatribes. US support for Israel, especially the support it gave to Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, first triggered Bin Laden’s anti-Americanism, which during the 1980s took the form of urging a boycott of US goods. He was later outraged by the “defiling” export of 500,000 US troops to Saudi Arabia after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

What Were The Causes Of 9/11?

Do you suppose there are WTC survivors who blame the Jews for the attacks? They are no less right than survivors who blame Muslims, if, indeed, there are any of either. Should we not honor their wishes, too? A member of my extended family was working not far from the WTC that day, and all religious institutions tend to remind me of the fanaticism that was behind the attack. If I were a New Yorker, wouldn’t my feelings count?

Trying to not offend anyone is an impossible task. Sisyphus had an easy job, comparatively speaking. Sometimes, even when there are a lot of people who are angry about something, it’s best to ignore them. Why are our "leaders" not doing that here? There are times when people just have to get over things, and this is one of those times.

Besides, why let terrorists think they’ve won? As a commenter to an article on Decrepit Old Fool wrote:

Let’s assume for the purpose of discussion that the proposed building would in fact be a mosque (it won’t be), and that it actually would be within sight of Ground Zero (it won’t be). Let’s further assume that rather than an antiterrorist Imam who plans to include a 9/11 memorial within the building, the prospective builder of the facility were a radical Wahabbi cleric from Yemen. Despite all that, it should still be allowed.

As many of my conservative friends have pointed out to me on numerous occasions, freedom requires sacrifice, and I totally agree. Sometimes that sacrifice is of a physical nature; sometimes it is emotional. There’s no question that the presence of such a structure will be, however irrationally, a source of pain for many 9/11 victims. But one of our fundamental freedoms, considered so vital by the founders that it was the first one named in the Bill of Rights, is freedom of religion. If preserving that freedom results in pain, that is simply part of its price.

Kathleen Parker, who is generally known as a conservative, summed it up very well in her newspaper column yesterday by writing, “The mosque should be built precisely because we don’t like the idea very much.” That’s the counterintuitive nature of a free country. As pornographer Larry Flynt once said, “If somebody like me can have freedom of speech, then we can be damn sure everybody does.”

I believe this building will send an important message to al-Qaeda, to the effect that whatever they do, we will continue to be a free country and proud of it.

Dismayed To Incoherence: Comment #23

You’d think that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, people would be proud to put a Muslim institution so close to the WTC, to tell those terrorists in the strongest terms possible You don’t matter. We will not be afraid. Sadly, that’s not where we live. At least, it isn’t if you believe what our leaders seem to expect of us.

Besides, as The Daily Show mentioned the other night, how far away would this community center have to be for it to be OK? It’s already two blocks away. You can’t see the thing from the WTC unless you’re at least ten floors up, I would imagine. At Ground Zero ground level, it might as well be in Brooklyn.

This isn’t the first time that a politician has said "Can’t we all just get along by having you people go elsewhere?", but usually they’re the sort of spineless cretins we tend to think of when we conjure up a negative image of politicians. Howard Dean should know better, and in contrast to what his clarification of this statement says, he should be deeply ashamed.

That Dean isn’t ashamed tells you a whole lot about why progressives aren’t listened to by any "serious" people in politics. If you listen to our "leaders", we don’t have the courage of our own convictions.

Afterword for FireDogLake readers: I originally posted this article on my blog Thursday. There seemed to be plenty of discussion here on the subject already. However, two things are still true today:

  • I’m still honked off about this.
  • The bigots aren’t getting any quieter, partly thanks to their getting no pushback from supposedly progressive politicians. I really want them to know that I’m not pleased with their performance.

by Cujo359

Down The Toilet

1:10 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

Cross posted, with a bit of editing, from Slobber And Spittle

Bill Halter lost to Blanche Lincoln last night in the Arkansas Democratic U.S. Senate primary. It was a close loss, less than 5,000 votes the last time I checked. Still, it was a loss, and as Jane Hamsher writes, it’s a tough one to contemplate.

Of course, it didn’t take long for the little goon who runs the White House to leave a pearl of wisdom with his go-to stenographer at Politico:

A senior White House official just called me with a very pointed message for the administration’s sometime allies in organized labor, who invested heavily in beating Blanche Lincoln, Obama’s candidate, in Arkansas.

"Organized labor just flushed $10 million of their members’ money down the toilet on a pointless exercise," the official said. "If even half that total had been well-targeted and applied in key House races across this country, that could have made a real difference in November."

White House official: ‘Organized labor just flushed $10 million down the toilet’

This is why there is no hope of working with these people – only when they’re afraid of progressives will they ever stop shitting on us.

So here’s my answer to that little rat fucker and his lying weasel of a boss:

That money went toward having a halfway decent candidate who might have, at some point in his career, actually not chosen to fuck us over in exchange for a few extra campaign dollars. That guy was worth all the sycophants and spineless whores you were going to try to make us support in the general election. Those people never would have done anything for organized labor, or any other working Americans. They would have been just like all the other sycophants and spineless whores you’re doing your best to keep in Congress. I wouldn’t pay a cent for any of those worthless pieces of excrement, and I suspect that’s what labor was trying to tell you, too.

But enough about anonymous White House functionaries and their delusions of adequacy…

Here’s the thing that most progressives don’t get, and I’ll see if I can make this crystal clear – the asshole who put that bug in Ben Smith’s ear will never, ever give us anything that we don’t make him give us. The only way to make him do something is to credibly threaten to take away his power. Any progressive who thinks that he is preventing a disaster by voting for Democratic incumbents for Congress this fall, even after seeing this display of hubris, is a drooling moron. As long as this guy and his boss keep winning, they will keep ignoring us, because they have no reason to fear that we will ever do anything but continue to continue to support them.

  • They will gut Medicare and Social Security.
  • They will continue to not do anything about the out-of-control banks and finance houses.
  • They will do absolutely nothing to make the employment situation better, or to provide any form of safety net.

They will do this, because the people who give them the campaign money they use to lie to us and to call us naive fools expect it. They have already said they would.

The person who whispered that insult to Ben Smith is as much our adversary as any Republican politician. He, the people he works for, and the people who ally with them will ruin this country as surely as any Republican would. They will spit in our faces, anonymously, while they’re doing it. They can no more help doing this than they can avoid breathing. It’s time progressives figured that out, too.

At this point, I have absolutely no intention of voting for either of the Democratic incumbents who will be on my ballot this November. I’ve never voted third party or write-in for a legislative candidate before, but I will do so this year. They don’t own my vote. When enough other progressives decide the Democrats don’t own their votes either, then those who manage to hold onto their jobs may or may not feel that they need to do something to earn our support. If that day ever comes, we’ll see. The only sure thing is that if we continue to vote for these people, they’ll continue to work for the benefit of the people who will take their support and their votes elsewhere.

If you want to throw your vote down the toilet, continue to vote for the assholes who don’t even have the guts to show their faces when they spit in your eye.

by Cujo359

Health Care Reform: Cleaning Out The E-mail

4:14 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

Cross posted from Slobber And Spittle

I spent part of yesterday going through all the self-congratulatory e-mail that various "progressive" organizations sent me last week when the health care "reform" bill was passed. Some of the celebrants included:

  • Democracy Now
  • Democracy For America
  • Democrats.org
  • Progressive Congress Action Fund
  • Washington (state) Democrats
  • MoveOn.org

There were also a number of congressmen whose mailing lists I was on only because they promised to not vote for a health care bill that didn’t have a public option.

I unsubscribed myself from all of them. If you’re incensed about how these organizations helped make us all hostages to insurance companies by supporting the bill, I’d recommend you do the same. These organizations’ only real power to raise money is in their e-mail lists. They use them for direct appeals, and as the basis for requesting grants and other support from big donors. If you remove yourself, you remove a little bit of that power. Failure needs to be punished more among America’s political class. This is one small way of making that happen.

As for the politicians, I responded to them somewhat along these lines:

When Rep. lied to us that she would never vote for a bill that had no public option, she declared that she didn’t want my support. That’s the only reason I was on this list in the first place.

If I receive further e-mail from this list, I will add it to the spam filter.

In other words, don’t expect me to thank you for screwing us.

If nothing else, you’ll be less likely to miss important e-mail for all the political spam.

by Cujo359

Bookmark This Page

2:09 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

Answer unclear

Image credit: Mostlyrecords/Wikimedia

Bookmark this page, so that in 2015 we’ll see how I do as a prognosticator. Assuming that the Republicans don’t undo this bill:

  • In 2015, there will still be 50,000 people dying a year because they don’t have access to the medical system.
  • If you have insurance by then, and don’t get it through one of the few organizations that still have enough financial clout to make insurance companies behave, your insurance will not pay for what you need.
  • We’ll be paying even more than we are now relative to the rest of the world for health care.

If the Republicans undo the health care bill, then that just means that we can’t blame the health care bill for those same things being true.

Of course, as I just mentioned there are plenty of progressive bloggers and organizations congratulating themselves for passing this insane, unworkable, and regressive piece of crap. So, I’ll make another prediction for this November:

  • When the Democrats lose the House, they’ll blame all those ungrateful people who "let the perfect be the enemy of the good" for their downfall, rather than their own uselessness and inattention to the fact that they did exactly the opposite of what any sane politicians would have done.

And don’t I look forward to those insane shitheads lecturing me. To them, I repeat, I saw this coming, long before you even figured out what you were willing to jettison so you could say that Congress finally did something.

Furthermore, to make that prediction I employed the same principles of human behavior that I used to decide that this health care bill won’t work. In both cases, the principle is the same: Those who don’t have the power to make people do things will be depending on the humanity of the people who do to get what they need out of the system. In many cases, the people who have such power have it because they don’t have that much humanity.

Someone whom I’ve regrettably lost touch with over the years used to say that his attitude about warnings was "When I tell you not to touch the stove, don’t expect me to be sympathetic when you get burned." That’s my attitude now. There’s a price for stupidity, and the price for your stupidity is going to fall on all of us.

So, if you feel inclined to lecture me about how much worse things will be under Republican rule next year, I ask you to explain what you saw coming, and why that wouldn’t have happened if this crew of Democrats hadn’t been in charge.

You’d better have a bookmark handy.

Cross-posted from Slobber And Spittle

by Cujo359

A Simple Declarative Statement

11:34 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

Here’s the latest from the leader of the House Progressive Caucus on resolving the health care bills between the House and the Senate, via Talking Points Memo:

In an interview with TPMDC moments after a conference call with over 175 members of the House Democratic caucus, [Rep. Raul] Grijalva said he was encouraged by what he heard from members–strong support for the House bill–but the President needs to get involved if their concerns will be met.

"The president is having his listening sessions, right?" Grijalva asked rhetorically. "After all we’ve been through at some point the administration can not be neutral players in this process."

Grijalva To White House: It’s On You Now

Has this guy not been paying attention? Obama won’t commit to anything on this bill. He hasn’t; he isn’t going to now. You’re going to have to tell him what you will and will not accept. Use simple, declarative statements. Why is that so hard to figure out?

Here’s an example.

I will not support in any way a congressman who votes for a bill that includes an individual mandate, but doesn’t have a viable public option. In fact, if that person is my Representative or Senator, he’ll be very lucky to get my vote.

Get it now? Chris Dodd lost my support, not to mention a lot of other progressives, when he voted for the Senate bill. Look where he is now.

Cross-posted from Slobber And Spittle

by Cujo359

Robert Reich’s First Lesson In Idiot Savant Economics

4:27 pm in Uncategorized by Cujo359

Cross-posted from Slobber And Spittle

(FDL readers click here) Caption: This is what our economy looks like when it’s viewed through the lens of idiot savant economics. Image credit: Found here.

Reading Robert Reich’s blog post from yesterday, I see some troubling signs of the sort of disconnect between our elite and the rest of us that I wrote about here. In the article, Reich talks about what he thinks is likely to happen to the economy in the next year, and how it will affect Democratic chances in 2010.

He starts out well enough, by making this observation:

The Dems have enough votes to enact health care — the hurdle Bill Clinton failed to jump, contributing to the Republican takeover in 1994 — but when it’s enacted, expect the spin machines on both sides to be at full throttle. And because health care legislation won’t be implemented for another three or four years (depending whether the House or Senate versions prevail), Americans won’t be able to test the veracity of these wildly divergent claims. So don’t count on health reform to help Dems next November — nor harm them, either.

Foreign policy is just as unlikely to tip the scales. Sad to say, absent a draft most American families will read about American deaths in Afghanistan much the way they’ve absorb the U.S. body count in Iraq — as news items rather than personal tragedies. Nor will Iran’s nuclear capabilities, North Korea’s missile launches, Pakistan’s tumult, or Yemen’s terrorists have much electoral effect — unless terrorists commit an atrocity in America or on American travelers. Needless to say, China’s decision about whether and how much to revalue its currency, although important, will affect the votes of about three Americans (and I think I know all of them).

What’s Ahead for the Economy and Politics in 2010

All of which, I think, is true. The bill for health care "reform" won’t come due for a few more years. It won’t be until 2012 that Democrats start paying for that colossal screwup, barring whatever fallout there is from progressive activists refusing to support them this year.

What’s really going to affect the vote in 2010, and what will potentially be disastrous for the Democrats, is the state of the economy. Actually, Reich put it a slightly different way:

Issue Number One — the overriding concern that will determine more than anything how many seats the Dems lose next fall — is jobs. If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

What’s Ahead for the Economy and Politics in 2010

And here is where Mr. Reich goes off the rails. Yes, jobs are important, in fact, jobs or the prospect of jobs in the near future is what will make or break the Democratic Party this year. Where he departs from reality, I think, is that there’s something magical about the ten percent figure. There isn’t.

First of all, the unemployment statistics, though they have a firm and measurable meaning, could be considered a made-up number for all the meaning they have to the average American. The statistic (as Reich points out) is the number of Americans who are still considered to be looking for work. It doesn’t include people who gave up looking for work, who found part-time or unskilled work because they couldn’t find a job in their specialty, or who tried to start a business because they couldn’t find a job. It also doesn’t take into account how many people found jobs that were lower paying than their last ones. In short, it doesn’t tell us much of anything about how the average American’s employment situation is going. It’s only a relative number, and a rather deceptive one at that.

Second, it’s just a number, with no particular meaning beyond being at the first double-digit number. If ten percent unemployment were deadly to political chances, Franklin Roosevelt wouldn’t have been re-elected once, let alone three times.

Which brings me to the main point of this essay. In the past, I’ve described myself as an "idiot savant economist". What I meant by that was that it’s sometimes effective to examine one’s own financial situation, try to determine how many other people are affected by it, and project what effect that will have on the economy. As I showed in that link, sometimes that method of looking at things is more effective than the way "real" economists look at the economy. I put "real" in quotes, not because I think that the guys who earned Ph.D’s in economics don’t know more about that subject than I do. They do. I just think that many forget what they learned, or don’t apply enough skepticism and good sense to their analysis to come to reasonable conclusions. There are plenty of economists who saw the current situation coming in far more detail and specificity than I did. There were also a substantial number who didn’t have a clue.

In applying the principles of idiot savant economics to the matter in question, I find that Reich has missed a key point, which explains why he’s completely wrong about what will work for the Democrats politically. Let’s shelve the question of what will work best for the economy, at least for the moment.

What will work best for the Democrats is giving the general public some sense that things are really going to get better. Unfortunately for them, things aren’t, and it’s plainly obvious to many of us. By "us", I don’t just mean progressive bloggers. I mean people who are out of work and looking for a job. I mean people who now have crappier jobs than they once did, or need to work two jobs because their primary job doesn’t pay enough. I mean people who are living from paycheck to paycheck. You see, these people are idiot savant economists, too. They know what they, their families, their friends, and their neighbors are going through. And none of that is getting any better.

What’s more, the Democrats have done precious little to change that. Worse still, our priorities are not the ones that Democrats have voted for. We idiot savant economists have watched as they refused to nationalize the banks and reorganize them sensibly, which is something that economists as diverse as Paul Krugman, Alan Greenspan, Ian Welsh, and Nouriel Rubini have said was the way to fix the financial sector. Instead, they poured trillions into them, with the only positive result that we can see having been that financial executive bonuses are even higher. They refused to make the banks renegotiate overvalued or usurious mortgages, allowing them to throw people out of their homes instead. The banks aren’t loaning money to us, because they’re too busy buying other banks. There have been no new regulations, because the banks said that wasn’t an option. Meanwhile, they let the auto companies dangle and crash, even though they employ tens of thousands of people in high-paying manufacturing jobs.

Meanwhile, the paltry effects of the stimulus package will have about run their course before election day. I suspect the Congress will pass some other stimulus package, just to move the real pain past November, 2010. Beyond that, though, we’re in for a world of hurt, and I suspect that most of us out here in the Land Beyond DCTM are aware of that.

That’s why Mr. Reich is wrong. What FDR gave us were programs that helped ordinary Americans, not programs that made the rich richer. He gave people hope, and didn’t break promises because they turned out to be inconvenient. The country endured far worse and still turned out to vote for FDR and the Democrats, because they knew the government was doing its damnedest to make things better, and that gave them hope that their lives would someday be better.

It’s why he’s wrong about the ultimate consequences of health care "reform", too. Failing to pass a bill could certainly be a problem for Democrats, but often how one fails is as important as the failure itself. These Democrats won’t fail trying to make the health care system better. They’ll fail by being satisfied that they created a bill that makes thing worse for many, and better for few besides the people who are already well off. Come the day after Election Day, 2012, I think the Democrats will finally realize how badly they screwed up.

The most recent Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll determined that as many as 45 percent of Democratic voters were either definitely or probably staying home rather than voting. The previous poll had put that number at 40 percent. Only a year after record numbers went to the polls to give Democrats overwhelming majorities in Congress and to put a Democrat, a black Democrat at that, in the White House, this is a firm indication of how badly the Democrats have screwed their base. Among Republicans, that number is about 14 percent. That spells bad news for Democrats at the polls, especially since that number shows more signs of getting worse than getting better.

That’s why the progressive movement of today is so screwed. It’s run by too many people like Mr. Reich and Prof. Krugman, who have barely a clue what it’s like to be the rest of us. Until they do, or until they decide to listen to us when we tell them, things are going to remain bad for us, and for Americans generally.

Afterword: I couldn’t include this thought in the narrative, but one of the things that I find so irritating about both Reich’s and Krugman’s opinions on these matters is that they are clearly humane enough to understand these things. I’ve used Reich’s words and his videos several times to illustrate points about health care, because they show a clear understanding of what the consequences of our current system are. They just don’t seem to understand how we have to live in order to deal with it. That really needs to change, or the people who run the Democratic Party will continue to think they can get away with the crap they’ve been peddling up until now.