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Water Cooler – Can Republicans Be any more Clueless how they Look?

5:59 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

So much of politics is about perception. The fact that working class people keep voting Republicans into office even when they candid about not wanting to do anything for those voters shows just how perception can trump reality.

Which is why is beyond mystifying why rich Republicans keep doing everything they can to show they are in no way shape or form like the working class. Today’s Jethro is Rep. John Fleming.

This fellow is a multimillionaire and he went on MSNBC this morning and claimed that after he pays for the expenses of his 500 person company, that all he is left with is a mere $400,000 a year and that is hardly enough to feed his family.

Now I know there are readers here who have not been employed for a very long time and have made the best of their meager money to keep body and soul together who would love to have 400K to play with, just once, not every year.

This yahoo was complaining that “job creators” should not be taxed more than they are now because it is unfair to them. This same Jethro makes more than 8 times the median household income. And that is before is 174,000 a year Congressional salary.

It is no secret that most of the members of the House and Senate are wealthy. There are far more than the normal distribution of millionaires in their ranks. And I don’t even begrudge them that, they have a job we have decided as a nation to pay well for, so it is not surprising. But it is beyond unseemly for these people to say they are in any way underpaid or over taxed.

And this is not the only time this year that Republicans have done this. Rep. Steve Southerland complained that his Congressional salary was inadequate for the “hours” he works. How many people who work the night shift or have to put in long hours would love to get the kind 174, 000 annual salary of a Congressman? I sure would.

This is the thing that voters really need to get their heads around. Anyone that would complain about this kind of money is not one of the working class. They have priorities that are not even close to the normal citizen. They earn more than three times the median salary and many more times than that of poverty level, which 16% of the nation is now below.

But there is something you can do. Here is Reps. Southerland and Fleming’s office numbers, why don’t you give them a call and tell them exactly how much you feel for them that they only make 300 to 800% of what the average family makes in a year.

Rep. John Fleming – (202) 225-2777
Rep. Steve Southerland – (202) 225-5235

Be sure to be polite but also be sure to let them know that they are insulting tens of millions of American citizens by bitching about their good fortune.

What is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours

CNN Debate, Ugly Republicans, the Candidates and the Crowd

4:52 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participants September 2011

Caricatures: GOP Presidential Debate Participants September 2011 by DonkeyHotey


It is fair to say that just about anyone who is reading this is a dyed-in-the-wool political junkie. Which means that you are also likely to have watched last nights Republican Goat Rodeo, er, Debate.

Sadly the people who need to be watching these debates are the very ones who would never consider it, the so called independent voters. They are the ones that every candidate wants to sway, but they rarely pay enough attention when it matters, namely during the nominating process.

Last night saw some seriously deranged thinking on display and it is exactly this kind of thinking that people should be aware of. By this time next year the candidate from the Republican Party will be set and they will have pivoted to the center to try to clean up their acts.

It is only at this time of the election cycle that we see both who the candidates and the base of a party really are. Last night there were applause lines for letting someone who makes a bad choice not to have insurance (even though he could) die. Yeah, that is who the Republican “Tea Party” base is.

These are the same yahoo’s who cheered about Gov. Perry’s record of executing more than 240 people in his tenure as governor. Even though Cameron Willingham was one of them and there is a preponderance of evidence that he did not kill anyone. One wonders how Perry sleeps at night.

But it is not just the cheers that show off who the Republicans are. They actually booed Rep. Ron Paul for his insistence that our military adventurism in the Middle East makes it more likely that we will be attacked by Muslims. As much as I dislike the elder Paul I will give him full marks for not falling into the reflexive Islamaphobia of the Republican base.

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Republicans Vow to Stop Union Election Rule Changes

4:38 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Union Thug

Union Thug by LizaWasHere

So it is the day after Labor Day and what are the Republicans doing as they return to Washington? Why trying to prevent the National Labor Relations Board from creating a new rule that would make it easier and faster to hold a vote on forming a union, of course.

The Hill is reporting this morning that Republican lawmakers want to block a newly proposed rule which would take away a few of the barriers that are currently used by business to slow and stymie the process of even getting to a vote on the formation of a union.

The issue here is not whether a group of workers can form a union but how they go about getting to the vote to see if they have enough support for such a move or not. The new rules would allow for the electronic filing of petitions, would force management at the company in question to provide a list of all the workers who will be voting, including their home phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and would move the appeals process from pre-vote to post-vote.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am the grandson and nephew of Union members, I grew up in Michigan in a UAW extended family and am the son of a Labor Law attorney, so I am going to be pro-labor. All that said I am having a hard time finding what is so objectionable about these changes.

One supposes that it is because preventing months or years of delay by companies as they produce more and more black propaganda and pressure against the idea of collective bargaining will make it more likely that workers will see the benefits of banding together. But that is not how it is being framed by the Chamber of Commerce and Republicans.

The often clueless House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, has sent around a memo including this change as part of ‘the 10 most harmful regulations proposed by the Obama administration’.
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Eric Cantor: “No Disaster Relief without Offsetting Cuts”

5:46 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

2011-04-07-at-15-08-27-2

2011-04-07-at-15-08-27-2 by republicanconference

To say that I don’t get House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is an understatement along the lines of calling the sack of Carthage a minor property crime. For all that he has one of the most powerful jobs in the nation he really seems to have missed the fact that he is supposed to work for the American people and specifically the people of his district.

Which is why is it is so appalling to hear him say that he will oppose federal assistance for the people in his district in response to the rare but large earthquake that hit Virginia this week. Okay, that is probably an overstatement, Rep. Cantor (R-Putz) is willing to let there be disaster aid, only as long as it paid for by cuts in other areas.

He is doubling down on this position (which he has expressed before when the tornadoes devastated Tuscaloosa Alabama this spring) that contrary to the long tradition of the US, there should be offsets considered when funding disaster relief.

The callousness that this betrays is shocking. Even when people in his own district are reeling from a completely unexpected event, he is still so worried about the deficit that he is willing to let them suffer. It is highly doubtful that anyone in Virginia has earthquake insurance.

He is standing by this position even as Hurricane Irene is due to chew its way up the East Coast this weekend. Maybe, just maybe if there is enough damage in his state and district he will change his tune, but don’t hold your breath on that.
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Water Cooler – Surprise! Rick Perry Thinks That the Federal Government Has No Place in Education

4:55 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Okay so we started the day with Rick Perry and we’ll end with him, because there is just so much there to dissect, and Rassumsen Reports just released a poll showing him leading all the contenders.

Take a look at this video from Think Progress:

For those who can’t watch videos here is part of what is said :

QUESTION: I would like to know your position on the federal government’s role in my children’s education.

PERRY: I don’t think the federal government has a role in your children’s education. . . . I know there’s probably a few of you in here who have not read my book “Fed Up.” But I talk about the intrusion into our lives by the federal government in a host of different areas. Education is one of them.

That is bad enough, after all if the Federal government does not have a role, why should it be spending any money on the education of children in Texas? But there is an even deeper point that the intellectually shallow Perry misses and maybe someone should ask him about it.

Without the Federal government schools would have never desegregated. Now I know that Republicans feel like the desegregation of schools is part of the problem with the Federal government but someone should ask Governor Perry if he thinks that having the Feds stay out and having separate but “equal” schools would have been a good thing?

After all if it had been left to the people of Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia there would have never been black students going to school with white students. Surely as someone who has a chance to be the nominee of one of the parties where the next president will be elected from needs to weigh in on that (gods greater and lesser knows he is willing to weigh in on just about everything else).
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Rick Perry, Latest Republican Nitwit

5:29 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Rick Perry - Caricature

Rick Perry - Caricature by DonkeyHotey


Does Rick Perry know much? This is the man that everyone will be fawning all over during his media honeymoon, but it is worth asking, is this man a nitwit?

It is clear from our history that you don’t have to be great brain to be president. It might matter if you are a successful president or not, but being a little short in the metal acuity department does not seem to be a disqualifier.

In some ways modern campaigning puts some selection pressure against the smart folks. Think about what campaigning really is. A candidate gets to do one of two things, give his stump speech and talk to donors so he or she has the money to go give his or her stump speech some more.

If you’ve never been in a position where you have to say the same words over and over and over again it is hard to appreciate how mind numbing it can be. Do more than a couple of hundred performances of anything, even Shakespeare and you are faced with the problem of keeping it fresh.
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Wisconsin – Democrats Come Up Short, but Don’t Score it as a Flat Loss

5:00 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Fred Clark Campaign

Fred Clark Campaign by WisPolitics.com

So the Democrats in Wisconsin came up short in their efforts to flip the State Senate in recall elections. On the binary tally of win-lose, it is a loss. But I am not sure that is the complete story.

It is still an historic effort and that also has to be scored as a win. Remember how we got to these elections in the first place. When the Republicans gained control of the both Houses of the Legislature and the Governors office, they set out on a path of policy that incensed many Wisconsinites.

Their hard right policies and the way they went about enacting them mobilized tens of thousands of Union members, workers and average voters. They went out into the bitterly cold Wisconsin winter to make their extreme displeasure known, and when they were ignored they took advantage of the process to try to recall the six Republican State Senators that were eligible under the law for recall.

They faced an uphill fight all the way. Getting the signatures in the right amount of time, faux Democratic candidates running with the explicit purpose of slowing the process down and allowing out of state money to work longer.

We should not discount that money. Millions and millions of dollars from the Koch Brothers (the nominal owners of Gov. Scott Walker, or maybe they just lease him?) and Crossroads GPS have poured like the Red River in flood into the state.

Then there is the fact that all six of these Republicans were elected in 2008, a year that was a wave election for Democrats. These are what you would call “safe-seats” for Republicans.

All of these made this a truly epic struggle, and yet the people of Wisconsin went out and came within a hair’s breadth of achieving the ultimate goal of flipping control of the State Senate. That they failed by one seat is a pretty strong indicator of how close this really was.

Dad always said (yeah, he was a huge one for sayings) “Nothing ever beat a good try but failure.” Sometimes you do all you can and you still come up short of the goal. But a lot of that determination of failure is dependent on what your goal is.

If you have multiple goals there can be a range of success and failure. Last night in Wisconsin we did see an overall electoral defeat, as long as we focus on the idea of flipping the Senate, but was that really the only goal?
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The Confidence Fairy and Faith Based Economics

5:44 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Reality

Reality by nualabugeye

All through the last two and a half years there has been talk on all side about confidence. The Republicans started this meme, but it has been adopted by the Democrats as well. Over and over we have been told that Policy X was needed if we are to have a growing and stable economy.

This has been rightly mocked as appeals to the Confidence Fairy. This obsession with confidence grew as an appendix to the voo-doo of Supply Side Economics and has about as much to do with reality as its big brother originally espoused by St. Regan.

It might be palatable if it actually worked, but every time we have been treated to the need to restore confidence it has lead to the opposite result. We have seen that the claims of the Republicans that the ACA would cause less employment because of the “uncertainty” of the new law. Instead after it was passed hiring increased.

We were told over and over again that we had to provide confidence to the markets by engaging in austerity measures in the debt ceiling/deficit reduction battle. Instead of making the world more confident about our economy we got a scolding by (say it softly but say it clearly) the seemingly politically motivated S&P downgrade of our debt.

I am really confused by this push for certitude for business. I didn’t go to business school but I have worked for enough C and D level execs to know that they teach that there is no such thing as certainty in business. In fact that is kind of the point of business in a capitalist system, being able to take a risk that you think is good, but don’t know will pan out, and then either reaping the benefits or suffering the pitfalls.

It is part a parcel of the idea of a market. Yet the self-proclaimed champions of the market are staking the future of our nation on making sure that we remove risk and provide the current masters of the universe with confidence.
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The People Are Angry, How Do We Harness That

5:18 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

I am not a fan of anger. Having been an angry teen and knowing the white hot rush of indulging it, I tend to resist its stoking in other people. Just like a physical fire, once anger gets out of control it eats through every bit of fuel around it. It eats up careers, it eats up families and it eats up lives.

That said, it is also one of the emotions that we all feel. And there seems to be a lot more of it around these days than any time in recent history. Take a look at this video below. It is Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker being shouted down and off the stage at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Is this good anger? Those of us on the Left will reflexively say yes. After all Gov. Walker has gone far, far out of his way to be the poster child for the mean spirited austerity and union busting measures that are favored by the Right. He is exactly who and what the Koch brothers want from a politician.

It is important to recognize that just because a reaction is reflexive does not automatically make it wrong. We all have a reflexive horror of those who sexually abuse children, the fact that it is nearly instinctive does not make it wrong.

Anger can power a lot of politics. Anger and alienation have long been used to activate the Right in the U.S. This is where talk of “taking our nation back” and “culture wars” have come from. By framing a disagreement on policy in the direst terms and linking it to the idea of physical conflict the Right has managed to build up a very hard core group who do treat political issues as existential ones.

That has not been the case on the Left, at least not in the last 30 years. However, just as it is a bad idea to give free reign to anger when it is not called for it is also a bad idea to downplay that emotion when it is legitimately earned. I think that we can all agree there is more than enough issues where people can be legitimately angry with the conduction of our government.

As a life long Democrat I am more likely to talk about the problems of the Republicans, but that does not mean I can not and do not recognize the problems (and they are many) inside the Democratic Party. What we have in our party (assuming you are a Democrat, I know many are not or are flirting with leaving) is a failure to focus on policy that should make us distinct from the Republicans.
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Republicans: Less Like The Joker, More Like Henchmen

5:42 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

the joker (based on a Dave McKean work)

the joker (based on a Dave McKean work) by Sick Sad M!kE


Sometimes it is easy to see the Republicans as bunch of super-villains, diabolically plotting every twist and turn to thwart the will of the American people with economic policy that only comforts the comfortable and afflicts the afflicted. After all they backed down the President and the Democratically controlled Senate and got most of what they wanted, even given that they upped the ransom demands in the middle of negotiations.

Then they go and do something like what Majority Leader Eric Cantor did yesterday. After managing to force a deficit reduction plan that will force some cuts in Medicare and will put Social Security and Medicaid in the sights of the Super Congress, they had pretty much rehabilitated their massive political malpractice of forcing a vote for the Ryan Budget.

Remember the Ryan Budget? You know, the one that wants to end Medicare as we know is and replace the program with as system of vouchers (but leave the name the same so they can claim they are not ending the program). Well, the oft confused Majority Leader does and he is still pushing the idea.

He sat down with the Wall Street Journal editorial board yesterday and said the following:

“What we have to be I think focused on is truth in budgeting here,” Mr. Cantor (R., Va.) told The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal. He said “the better way” for Americans is to “get the fiscal house in order” and “come to grips with the fact that promises have been made that frankly are not going to be kept for many.”

There is it, the fact of the matter in one sentence. For all the talk of “preserving the programs” the reality is that the number two ranking Republican in the House is saying that they are going to break the promises that had been made.
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