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Michael Gerson Tries To Paper Over Cracked Republican Policy

5:30 am in 2012 election by Bill Egnor

busted glass at federal building

busted glass at federal building by zen

As anyone who looks at politics all the time will tell you, the Republican presidential primary is a brutal thing. It is a contest of who can slap their chest the hardest, rail against those evil liberals and stoke fear of the other and change in the hearts of all those red blooded Republican voters. Which is just fine, for their party, you should do what it takes to actually win the votes of your base, even if they are bat-shit crazy.

The problem, for Republicans that actually want to win the White House is that the things which excite their base are things that are not very popular with voters at large in the nation. It might excite the Teahadists and other Conservatives in the Republican Party to hear Ron Paul declaim “I think we should vote for the right to drink raw milk!” at a debate and get a round of cheering, it is quite another to have anyone support that as a platform plank to run on in the general election.

Establishment Republicans get understand this, which is why we are see things like Michael Gerson’s column in today’s Washington Post. He is already tying to put a corral around the wild horses of conservatism that are off and running in the nominating race.

Gerson knows that to have any chance of winning the White House who ever the Republican nominee is will have to be able to disavow some of the silly season things that will be required to win the nomination, so he is giving them pre-emptive cover.

This being little Mikey Gerson, he of course, has to take a few swipes at the Democrats before he can get down to the serious business of making space for the eventual nominee to back off the edge of the crazy cliff. He says:

Every candidate in the current field accepts the goal of reversing the Obama era. In 2008, the federal government spent $3 trillion; in 2011, it will spend $3.8 trillion. Federal spending has jumped from 20.7 percent of gross domestic product to 25.3 percent. Federal debt held by the public is twice what it was in 2008. This path is unsustainable.

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to pick apart how many things are wrong or missing the needed context in that small paragraph (hint, the number of misstatements is higher than four).
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Water Cooler – No Song for You! (That’s What I Imagine Petty Said to Bachmann)

5:05 pm in 2012 election, Elections by Bill Egnor

Michele Bachmann - Caricature

Michele Bachmann

Poor Republicans! No one with a really catchy hits seems to want to let them use the songs for their campaigns. Now it is Rep. Michele Bachmann’s turn. She kicked off (re-kicked off? re-re-kicked off?) her presidential campaign in Waterloo Iowa yesterday and as she was leaving the stage they played the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers hit “American Girl”.

Well, it might have been fine for a candidate that Mr. Petty supports (if I recall correctly then Sen. Clinton used that song quite a bit and never got a peep out of him, golly, could she have asked for permission first?) but he dies not support Rep. Bachmann (R- Crazy Eyes), so he had his people send a cease and desist letter to the presidential campaign.

I am always shocked at this. Not that some artists don’t want their songs used for candidates that they don’t support, but rather that Republicans will just appropriate any old piece of music they think sells their point.

I am pretty sure that Ronald Regan did not support the anti-Vietnam war sentiments of “Born in the USA”, he just wanted the hook associated with his campaign. Likewise I think that La Bachmann and her merry crew haven’t really looked at the lyrics of “American Girl”.

I mean, the chorus is pretty suggestive for a tight-laced Christian conservative:

O yeah, all right
Take it easy, baby
Make it last all night
She was an American girl

Maybe I a just a dirty minded Liberal, but that is about having sex, no?
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Water Cooler – Let The Political Self-Immolation Begin! – Ryan Budget Edition

5:05 pm in 2012 election, Elections by Bill Egnor


Whoomp! Whoosh! That was the sound of Tim Pawlenty self-immolating. T-Paw (what kind of presidential candidate gives himself a nickname like that?!?) was thought to be one of the “serious” candidates. While he had been a very conservative governor, there was still this impression that he was one of the smart ones, if also one of the most boring ones.

However today he drank the Republican Jonestown Kool-Aid. This is what ABC News is reporting he said:

“First of all, I applaud Congressman Ryan for his courage and his leadership in putting his plan forward. At least he has a plan. President Obama doesn’t have a plan. The Democrats don’t have a plan. And I really applaud his leadership and his courage in putting a plan on the table. Number two, we will have our own plan; it will have many similarities to Congressman Ryan’s plan, but it will have some differences, one of which will be we’ll address Social Security. He chose not to; we are addressing Social Security. And the Medicare part of our plan will have some differences, too. It will have some similarities also. So we’ll have our own plan. But if I can’t have my own plan — as president, I’ll have my own plan – if I can’t have that, and the bill came to my desk and I had to choose between signing or not Congressman Ryan’s plan, of course I would sign it.”

You know he is trying. You really have to give him that, he is trying. He takes a disingenuous swipe at the President and the Democrats by saying they don’t have a plan. It is true, the White House and the Democrats have no plan to privatize Medicare or Social Security. Those ideas are strictly Republican ones.

Still he has done it, he has signed on with the suicide pact that is the Ryan Budget. He has said out loud and in front of reporters that if he were president and the Ryan budget came to his desk he’d sign it.

It is more than a little astounding that Republicans are starting their campaign season by defending and doubling down on a plan that is massively unpopular. No one is willing to see Medicare cut to give more tax breaks to the wealthy. We should always keep sight of the fact this plan does not just cut funding for Medicare so drastically that seniors would have to pay an estimated $6,000 year in out of pocket expenses, it does it so that we can give the wealth another massive tax break.

For a long time I and others have talked about epistemological closure in the Republican Party. It is the idea that no new information or information that contradicts a pillar of Republican orthodoxy is allowed into the world of Conservatives/Republicans or Teahadists. For a long time is was a question of having a very little opening to the real world where some new data could slip in through the cracks.

Now it seems the Republican informational horizon has sealed itself and is cut off from most of reality, like the other dimensions that are rolled up smaller than the Plank length and can’t really be seen.
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Gov. Barbour Tries To Retool “Welfare Queens” Meme

6:27 am in 2012 election, banality of evil, Elections by Bill Egnor

BMW apline wrecked car

BMW apline wrecked car by Kingfisherblue2009 Liz Callan, on Flickr

Mississippi Governor and probably presidential hopeful Haley Barbour is a real piece of work. With his Boss Hogg good looks and his penchant for idolizing Jim Crow groups like the Citizens Council (who enforced an economic apartheid on Southern Black citizens)  but thus far that has not stopped him from looking like he might be a viable candidate.

Still the level of mendacity and crypto-racism from the Deep South Governor is not something I think will play in the larger election. Sure whoever the Republican candidate is will be going up against an African American in the general election and the racist minority in this nation is going to be wanting to line up behind anyone (who is white) who will run against him, but the vast majority of the nation is not going stand for that kind of thing.

Still Gov. Barbour can’t seem to help himself when it comes to making statements that are not only false but also laced with more than a hint of racism. At the recent governors conference Barbour was front and center in trying to get the Federal Government to relax the requirements for coverage in Medicaid that went with the stimulus money which boosted the state coffers.

He went so far as to say:

“We have people pull up at the pharmacy window in a BMW and say they can’t afford their co-payment.”

When arguing that States should be allowed to make Medicaid recipients pay for some of their medication. If that statement sounds familiar to you, it did to me too. It is right along the lines of the infamous story of the “Welfare Queen”.

For those who have heard the term but forgotten the story, let me refresh your memory. It was President Reagan who told the anecdote about one woman who defrauded the welfare program for $150,000 dollars, and driving a Cadillac. The only problem with this story is that it was $8,000 not 150K, and the woman went to jail on fraud charges.
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Water Cooler – Pawlenty II, The Return Of Tim

6:48 pm in 2012 election, banality of evil, Elections, Republican Party by Bill Egnor

When his first introduction add was posted I made fun of ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The ad was so completely stolen from a Bruce Willis movie that it was more than a little bit sad. Well in the United States nothing exceeds like excess and Gov. Pawlenty has learned that lesson.

Check his newest effort where he trying to pander the Tea-hadists :

What made me laugh the most in this minute and sixteen second comedy clip (Oh, wait, this was meant to be serious? Golly) was the way that after he panders to the Tea-hadists he then goes on to try to cloak himself in the mantle of both Reagan and Lincoln, going so far as to crib the end of the Gettysburg Address.

Nearly as entertaining is the way that this video is cut together when Gov. Tim is talking. It is a lot of quick cuts and the has soaring music behind him that I am 100% was not at there at the speech that they taped. Why do that?

Well, Gov. Tim has a problem, it can be best summed up this way: What is the difference between Tim Pawlenty and Plain Dannon Yogurt? The yogurt has active culture. Gov Pawlenty is about as interesting as a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread.

In a word he is boring, and so this is probably not the last of the slickly produced soaring movie music ads we will see from the Republican hopeful. The sad part about all of this even if he is successful in crafting a “Bruce Willis saves the world” type image as he is introduced to the nation, the minute people see and hear him on the campaign trail, he’ll give them a case of mental whiplash like you will not believe.

Like Gov. Tim, I am going to wrap up by quoting Lincoln: You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

That is what it will take for Gov. Pawlenty to really be a viable candidate, he would have to not only fool his own party, but the whole nation for the whole of a presidential campaign and all the slick introduction videos in the world are not going to do that for a fella that lacking in charisma.

What’s on your mind’s tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours.

2012 Election And The 11 Republican Dwarves

6:32 am in 2012 election, Elections, Politics, Republican Party by Bill Egnor

Will 2012 be the year of the Republican Dwarves? Let me through some names at you;
Mike Pence, Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Haley Barbour, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann. Now being political junkies you are probably going to at least know those names, with the exception of Herman Cain, who is the founder of Godfathers Pizza (a so so chain that has had decent success) who is also a regional Rightwing radio talker. But try to think outside your political knowledge bubble for a minute. Do you think anyone really knows these folks?

Sure folks know the last VP candidate from the Republican Party. She has made a business of being famous, but it has only worked because she stays either to mediums that don’t allow back and forth or safe outlets like Fox News. Her response to the Arizona shootings showed that she really does not have what it takes to be president no matter how popular she is with her fans.

Newt Gingrich is a disgraced former speaker who is better at throwing bombs than he ever was at legislating. He has a problem with the family values crowd both for leaving his wives and for the fact that he is now a Catholic. Don’t underestimate the problems this can cause with a party that 50% of all members are Evangelical Christians. There is also his distressing “Do as I say, not as I do” problem that might play with the authoritarian Right, but not with the middle that is required to win the presidency.

Mitch Daniels – Who? Sure you know his name, do you know what he stands for? Does he know what he stands for given that the Tea Party base is going to require that every candidate denies global warming, a balanced budget, continued tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy (even though this policy has bled the U.S Treasury dry) an unswerving devotion to the supposed intent of the Framers of the Constitution and an “America, Fuck Yeah!” attitude that insists we can do nothing wrong because when the U.S. does it, then it is right.
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Okay Democrats, Let’s Talk About Our Failure And What Next

5:43 am in 2010 election, 2012 election, Elections by Bill Egnor

Okay, we got beaten. We did, there is no getting around it. What is important is why did we get beaten? Is it a repudiation of liberal policies? No. Is it that the nation is center-right and wants government to be that way too? No, else the voters would not have put the Republicans in the driver’s seat. The reason we lost as a party is a political failure on our part. We did not excite our base and the Republicans did excite theirs, it really is that simple.

In the last four election cycles the party with the most excited base won. 2004, 2006, 2008 and this cycle all saw the base of the party who won turn out and that swept along the low-information independents. I am not talking about folks who have left one party or the other but still vote for them, but the real independents. To quote Blazing Saddles, simple farmers, the common clay of the New West, you know, morons.

Originally posted at

This group of folks will flock to the banner of whatever party has the most energy coming from their base. They will be like folks who never pay attention to sports then root for the presumed front runner as soon as the play offs start. They don’t really know which party is doing what; they only know what they see on TV and make their choice accordingly. There is no point getting mad at these folks. They are not going to change and the way to win them is to win your base.

We, as Democrats, failed to fire up our base. Our elected Dems spent too much time trying to woo Republicans and failing to put a headlock on our Blue Dogs. We did not talk about the 300 billion in tax cuts that everyone (okay almost everyone) in the U.S. got from the stimulus. We did not talk up the benefits of the stimulus in real terms, but instead went for the “less jobs lost” meme which is too easy for Republicans to dispute.

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Go And Vote

6:24 am in 2010 election, Elections by Bill Egnor

Go and vote. At this point I can’t say much that will influence you as to who to vote for (as if I ever could) but go vote. It is one of your responsibilities as a citizen, and none of us should fail to fulfill it. 234 years ago today General Washington was on the run. His forces had been surprised at Chatterson’s Hill and he was forced to retreat at night in order to avoid being decimated.

The War of Independence had been going on since before the Declaration, but now it was full blown and in earnest. The signatories to the Declaration had made their stand for an idea that was the United States and faced charges of treason if they were captured. They had pledged their lives, fortunes and scared honor to found a nation on the idea of equality (if a limited and flawed one) and they would fight for it until they won or were destroyed. They won and our nation was born.

So go vote for the idea the Founders started.

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Rounds 2 And 3 Of Republicans Screwing The Little Guy – Austerity

6:46 am in 2010 election, banality of evil, Economy, Elections, Politics, Republican Party by Bill Egnor

To hear the Republicans tell it, the problem with things, the reason they are likely to take over the House of Representatives tomorrow is all the spending that the Obama administration has engaged in. Personally I think a big part of it is all the spending groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Cross Roads GPS have done, but that is for another post.

The big push from Republicans as the campaign season is ending has been about the need to cut spending. They look at our deficit situation and they say that the reason we have such high unemployment is the massive federal spending. Things like the COBRA subsidy and unemployment benefit extensions. Of course this includes the stimulus bill with its 300 billion (300,000 million) in tax cuts, which all but the ultra wealth have received some share of in terms of payroll tax reductions.

This is where you get prominent Republicans like Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour on TV saying things like this:

“The American people do not like Obama’s policies,” Barbour told anchor Harry Smith. “They don’t like all of this outrageous spending. They don’t like running up the deficits. They don’t like piling trillions of dollars of debt on our children and grandchildren, and they don’t think it works. They think it’s been bad for the economy, that it has made it harder to create jobs.

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US Debt Default – A Tea Party Promise

6:13 am in 2010 election, banality of evil, Conservatism, Economy, Elections, Politics by Bill Egnor

photo: quinn.anya via Flickr

There are a lot of bat-crap crazy things that the Republicans and especially the Tea Party supported Republican candidates have been saying this year. So it is not unexpected that some of their wing-nuttery goes by without a lot of remark. After all when you have head-stomping county coordinators insisting on an apology from the victim in Kentucky and candidates in Nevada and Texas speaking obliquely and directly about armed insurrection, you might not notice a piece of Tea Party dogma that is developing.

Still it is worth looking at one little meme that is growing in the Tea-Party garden. That is the instance that their chosen candidates do not vote to extend the Federal Debt Ceiling. Folks like the next Senator from Utah, Mike Lee,  are already talking about it. It might seem like no big deal, just another portion of the dogma that says we have to slash spending and reduce taxes and the national debt.

In reality it is a huge deal and could affect the course of the nation for a very long time, as well as the world economy. You see if we do not allow the debt ceiling to rise, we would run out of money at the Federal level in the early summer of 2011. It would mean that we would be unable to pay the interest on our Federal Bonds. This would be a default that would make the bank crisis of 2008 look mild by comparison.

The immediate affect would be for government services to stop. We already know that the Republicans are readying their supporters for a government shut down over budget priorities, well this would force everyone’s hand. This is exactly what the Gingrich shut down of Federal Government was doing. The Republican majority was holding up the idea that they would allow the nation to default by not having a higher debt ceiling if President Clinton did not cave in to their budget demands.

It never came to that fight as the Clinton administration prepared to go to only essential services in order to keep paying the interest on the debt, the Republican eventually caved (which was the only sane alternative left to them). Today’s situation is considerably worse. The United States and the world are still dealing with the stagnant pace of growth after the economic crises and follow massive recession which began in 2008.

If a Tea Party fueled majority actually acted on the promise to keep the debt limit at its current level things would be dire. First off our ability to borrow money now and in the future would be severely damaged. It took Argentina nearly 8 years to be able to come back the debt market after its 2002 default on 132 billion. The default level for the United States would be considerably higher.  . . . Read the rest of this entry →