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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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Are Tea Partiers Just Re-Branded Neo-Confederates

5:37 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Almost everyone, myself included, talks about the Tea Party as if it is some kind of separate entity from the Republican Party. From its Fox “News” sponsored launch onward people have been trying to define this amorphous seeming group. Michael Lind writing at Salon, has a very good look at this and maybe the final word on whom exactly the Tea Party members are.

Lind looked at where the Tea Party managed to elect their favorites to office and from that and the policy they pursue has determined that the genesis of the Tea Party is the Southern Neo-Confederate wing of the Republicans.

Take a look at this chart:


Looking at it you might say “Okay they are mostly from the South but what about the West and Midwest? Surely those aren’t Neo-Confederates?” I think I’ll let Mr. Lind answer that question:

The four states with the most Tea Party representatives in Congress are all former members of the Confederate States of America. The states with the greatest number of members of the House Tea Party caucus are Texas (12), Florida (7), Louisiana (5) and Georgia (5). While California is in fifth place with four House Tea Party members, the sixth, seventh and eighth places on the list are taken by two former Southern slave states, South Carolina and Tennessee, and a border state, Missouri, each with three members of the congressional Tea Party caucus.

If states with significant white Southern diasporas were included, the Southern proportion of the House Tea Party caucus would be even bigger. Many of the other states with Tea Party representatives are border states with significant Southern populations and Southern ties. One is Maryland, a state with Confederate sympathies during the Civil War, which, because the Census Bureau defines it as “Northeastern,” is responsible for the only Northeastern member of the Tea Party caucus, Roscoe Bartlett. The four Californian representatives come from the Orange County area or inland

California, both regions whose political culture was shaped by Southern political culture, in the form of the “Okie” diaspora that settled there during the Depression.
In the entire House Tea Party Caucus, there is not a single representative from New England.

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Water Cooler: Does Boehner Have The Votes? Fear of a Primary Might Mean No

6:04 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Fear - Graffiti

Fear - Graffiti by Jimee, Jackie, Tom & Asha

So, the leaders of both parties in both Houses of Congress and president have come up with a plan. It is probably good enough for Minority Leader Pelosi to strong arm the 90-100 votes that are being promised to the Republicans on this.

The question is, can Speaker Boehner really deliver the other 116 -126 votes need to really get it through. Chuck Todd has been on MSNBC insisting that there are still Moderate Republicans in the House, the Tuesday Group. I have my doubts that they would fall into the category of moderate on any scale that did not include the Tea Party extremists, but lets give him the benefit of the doubt.

There are 40 or so of these “moderates”. And there are about 30 Republican Representatives who have said they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstance. That leave about 170 of whom 84, nearly half, have to vote for this plan (assuming the numbers of Democrats who will vote for this is accurate.)

Todd has been calling these people “Institutional” Republicans, meaning that they have been around, they know how Washington works and will bend when they are getting 90-95% of everything they want. This is real common CW but is it accurate in this particular time and place?

It should be, but here is the thing. The Tea Party Republicans have shown that they are not above trying to take down anyone who is insufficiently conservative in their judgment. It is what has made them a real power in the Republican Party. They have ousted, in primaries or the threat of primaries, big name Senators and even some sitting House members.
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Republicans Will Win the Battle, But Will It Cost Them The War?

5:36 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

American Labour Representatives looking over battle-fields in France

American Labour Representatives looking over battle-fields in France

Will the Republican manufactured debt ceiling fight be resolved? Almost certainly, the signs are all there that there is a deal to be had. As long as various dumbasses (I’m looking at you Gang of Six and all 85 of the House Republican freshmen) stop sticking their fingers in the gears, that is.

But what happens afterwards? This is not a pick up game of stick ball, where when the final out is called all the teams break up and are reformed in a different configuration for the next one. The policy fight is not the only thing going on here.

On the policy fight side we can say without fear of contradiction that the Republicans won. Unless the Reason and Sanity Fairy gets of his ass and sprinkles a ton of fairy dust over the capital the final deal will include at least a trillion in real dollar spending reductions, and no reinvestment of our “peace dividend” for getting out of Iraq at the end of this year and whenever the hell we get out of Afghanistan (Remember Afghanistan?).

No matter what the final contours of the deal are, it will be in the Republican frame of all cuts and no revenue. Even if you are always and totally a partisan Democrat (not that there is anything wrong with that, stronger partisan Dems would have made this a very different fight) you will not be able to spin this as a win. At best it will be like a John LeCarre novel where there are no winners just survivors.

But not everyone is going to be a survivor and that might be the silver lining in this very gray cloud of staggeringly stupid and boneheaded policy. Certainly John Boehner is in his one and only term as Speaker of the House. Only the Weeper from Reading could make the third most powerful position in the nation (maybe second if you figure that the VP is mostly waiting around to be powerful) look so weak.

Appearances matter in politics and for the last 200 days all appearances have looked as though the Speaker was holding on the ears of a tiger, in the form of the Tea Party Freshmen in Congress. While it might look vaguely possible to steer a tiger by tugging on her ears, the reality is all you do is piss off the tiger more.
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Republicans – A Party Full of Charlie Sheens

5:40 am in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

Tiger's Blood?

Tiger's Blood? by katrina.elizabeth

Has the Republican Party been infected with Charlie Sheen-ism? Stick with me a little on this.

Obviously the Republican’s aren’t doing bricks of cocaine over the weekend (at least we don’t think they are) and folks like Sen. David Vitter aside they are not engaging in wild sex parties (though, come to think of it, things might be better if they were. At a minimum they’d be more relaxed) but they are engaging in the hyperactive belief that they are “winning”.

There seems to be zero awareness of reality amongst the House Republican caucus of what is really going on here. There are 6 days, a mere 144 or so hours before we run our happy asses off the economic cliff.

Yet these gals and guys seem to think they have all the time in the world for crap that will never fly. Take “Cut, Cap and Balance” for instance. All of last week was taken up in the House by this plan that not only was never going to have a chance of passing, but would be so horrible that even the old gold standard for draconian cuts, the Ryan budget, would not fit under its rubric.

The centerpiece of this craptastic piece of legislation is the Balanced Budget Amendment. Even though it requires 2/3 of both Houses of Congress to pass, there are Republicans out there saying they 100% sure that it would get the votes needed in both Houses. This, of course, ignores the fact that this Republican plan could not even command 2/3 of the House where it passed.

They ran around toting the “bi-partisan” passing of this bit of legislative malpractice because they managed to peel of exactly five Blue Dog (morons) Democrats to vote for it. A little under 2.5% of the Democratic caucus supported this thing. It is not what I would call bipartisan, since the Blue Dogs can be counted on to vote for dumb laws if it cuts taxes or spending.

It seems that the Republicans need a lot of votes to make themselves feel good about things. After all CCB was the second vote they took on a plan that would not pass the Senate and would not be signed by the President. We were told both times that once they got it out of their systems they would be able to be more reasonable, since they were on record for the maximalist position but would hold their noses for something less. Read the rest of this entry →

Water Cooler – Tea Partiers On Boehners Debt Plan: Plttthhht!

6:01 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

John Boehner - Caricature

John Boehner - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

It must be a sign of the Apocalypse but I am in agreement with a bunch of Tea Party members and groups. What we agree on is that Speaker John Boehner’s newest deficit reduction plan stinks on ice.

The areas where the Tea Party folks and I see eye to eye are the Balanced Budget Amendment and the extra-Constitutional Congressional Commission. Of course the reason that we think these are horrible ideas diverges a lot, but sometimes when you go far enough Right you wind up Left.

Anyone who thinks that a Balanced Budget Amendment is a good idea has not really thought it through. They will say things like “Families and States have to balance their budgets, why shouldn’t the Federal Government?”. It is a fair question, but the fact of the matter is that neither the States nor families really run balanced budgets.

For the States it is the Federal government that allows them to balance their budgets. They get differing levels of money from the government but they all get some and it is used to pay for things that they would have to raise taxes to pay for or do without under their balanced budget requirements.

Families are even worse. Families borrow money all the time for major expenses. I’ve know of exactly three people who could and did pay for cars and houses with a check in my whole life. There maybe more but then again there may not. When you borrow several hundred thousand dollars for a house, you are not in a balance budget, even if you can afford the payments. You’re running a debt that you eventually intend to pay off, same thing with the Federal Government.

The reason the Teahadists are all in a lather is they know that the vote proposed by Speaker Boehner is going to be a symbolic one. Which makes them both smarter and dumber than I thought they were. They understand that there is no chance that such a thing will pass the Senate, yet they think that it is okay to use the coming default as a reason to force such a thing. I don’t know what these people are thinking but there is a real disconnect when it comes to understanding the current created crisis and why it is a crisis.

The other thing they hate is the Congressional Commission. But unlike me they don’t see it as an extra-constitutional maneuver that gives way too much power to way too few Representatives and Senators, thus setting a precedent that weak willed politicians can abdicate their Constitutional power to a small group whenever they want to avoid tough votes.

Rather than try to explain it let me just quote one of the Teahadists. From the HuffPo article:

“History has shown that such commissions, while well-intentioned, make it easier to raise taxes than to institute enduring budget reforms

Yep that’s right, these supposedly staunch Constitutionalists are not worried about the creation of a Super Congress, nah not them. They are worried that such a body would not automatically give them the outcome they are demanding. The Founders would be so proud, that is if they were not puking over the edge of Heaven at the mere thought of such a thing in their Republic.

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Are There Any Rational Actors Left Among Republicans?

5:47 am in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

Insane Asylum

Insane Asylum by simonk

Steve Benen at Political Animal managed to reach back a couple of years to find just the right quote form John Cole about dealing with the Republicans in Congress:

I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane. Imagine trying to negotiate an agreement on dinner plans with your date, and you suggest Italian and she states her preference would be a meal of tire rims and anthrax. If you can figure out a way to split the difference there and find a meal you will both enjoy, you can probably figure out how bipartisanship is going to work the next few years.

I know that I have a spent a lot of time hammering Republicans for being dumbasses and nitwits over the last couple of years, but this whole fight with the debt ceiling really is showing what happens when conspicuously uncurious people who only listen to their own ideological outlets get into power.

The Conventional Wisdom (including mine) keeps saying that we will get some kind of deal to avoid a real potential disaster. And things certainly look that way. After all the rumors are that Majority Leader Reid is going to unveil a plan that cuts 2.5 trillion (2,500 billion) from the budget over 10 years in ways that Democrats can get behind. A major feature of this plan is that we’d say 1.5 trillion by ending our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would have no increased revenue and it would have no cuts to entitlements.

All of this is to the good (if you can call anything about Republican made mess good) in that the Democrats have offered the Republicans everything they insisted on, cuts that equal the increase the debt ceiling and no new revenue. In any sane world that would be that, a total acquiescence’s to the hostage conditions and an end the crisis.

The problem is that it is unclear that Republicans can take a solution that does not only meet their stated goals but lets them stick it to the people they have decided that they don’t like. It is no mystery that the GOP really does not like the “average” people of the nation. They have been showing their disdain for the millions of unemployed people for a very long time, call them lazy and wanting to subject them to random drug screenings merely for being victims of the economy they helped to engineer.
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Sen. John McCain, Victim of Epistemological Closure

6:44 am in banality of evil by Bill Egnor

John McCain - Caricature

John McCain - Caricature by DonkeyHotey

Since it was a holiday weekend, you might have missed the Senior (so very, very senior) Senator from Arizona on
CNN. Leaving aside the reason that this failed presidential candidate gets a billion appearances on Sunday news shows, he said some things that deserve a little attention.

On the debt ceiling negotiations he said that Americans don’t want compromise. I get this feeling that John McCain does not really know a lot of Americans, because poll after poll shows that more than half of us want a balance approach combining cuts and tax increases for the solution to this BS crisis that the Republicans have manufactured and the Democrats have bought into. If we must have a solution to the non-short term problem of the deficit and debt, then this is the one they want, by overwhelming numbers.

That is bad enough, but he also said something worse:

To McCain, the danger from continuing to let the federal deficit expand without taking substantive cost-cutting steps is much greater than the threat from failing to increase the federal debt ceiling by August 2.

“I think that this catastrophe or short-term meltdown that we’re facing isn’t nearly as bad as the meltdown that we’re facing unless we get our deficit under control,” McCain said.

This is insane. I mean really bat-shit, howl at the moon, rub your own crap in your hair nuts. Sen. McCain is suggesting that if we default, for the first time in the history of our nation, and against the 14th Amendments requirement that the debt of the United States not be questioned, it won’t be that bad.

I don’t expect every Senator to know about every set of policies, it is really too much for any individual to be an expert in everything it takes to run the nation, but if you are a dumbass about economics you should, shut your gob.

As if that is not bad enough, he is actually saying that it would be worse for the nation if we continue to spend as we have than a world wide economic meltdown and increased borrowing costs for the US for decades to come. Like his assertion that Americans don’t want compromise this just shows how completely out of touch Sen. McCain is (maybe the clouds are provoking him…).
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GOP Hopeful Herman Cain – I’ll Sign No Bills Longer Than 3 Pages

5:31 am in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

As a rule, Homo sapiens, don’t deal with complexity well. There are a few of us who revel in the interacting systems and the way that small changes can affect outcomes without seaming to have a direct impact. This leads to a common challenge when looking for solutions, namely that we want and like simple solutions to complex problems.

This never works out. A simple solution is one that, by its very simplicity, does not take into account all the factors of a complex situation. Since that is true whatever factors are not controlled for run wild and you get results other than what you planned and usually worse than the original problem.

While it is a common trait to us all, the Republicans and the Tea Party part of their base (basically there base rebranded) have elevated the simple solution to complex problems to an art form.

Just look at what passes for serious ideas in the Republican nomination process. Think Progress is reporting that GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain says if elected he will not sign any bill that is longer than three pages. Check out the video:

For those with slow connections, here is what Mr. Cain said:

Engage the people. Don’t try to pass a 2,700 page bill — and even they didn’t read it! You and I didn’t have time to read it. We’re too busy trying to live — send our kids to school. That’s why I am only going to allow small bills — three pages. You’ll have time to read that one over the dinner table. What does Herman Cain, President Cain talking about in this particular bill?

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Water Cooler – Even Republican Economists Are Warning Teahadists About Default

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by Bill Egnor

Cliff Edge

Cliff Edge by su-lin

I know that it seems contradictory. That given what Wall Street does for the Republicans, there seems no way that they could actually be serious about allowing the United States to default on its debt, not even for a day. Yet people all over the political spectrum are getting antsier and antsier; worried by the insane as two cats on meth in a small sack talk that is coming from freshmen Republicans.

Today two heavy weight Republican economists, both former CBO directors, came out to squash the idea that a little or short default would not really be that bad. They are Douglas Holt-Eakin and Rudy Penner who served under the second President Bush and the President Reagan respectively. Talking Points Memo has the story.

These two are not exactly what you would call bleeding heart liberals. Yet even they can not stand by and let the Jethro Bodineism of the Republican/Tea Partiers run the nation, and the world, off an economic cliff just because they are morons. Here is what Holtz-Eakin had to say:

The idea that somehow it’s a pro-growth strategy to raise interest rates on a permanent basis in the United States is just crazy,” he said. “We need to grow at this point more than anything else.”

Pretty strong words from someone who actually supported the hostage taking of the Republicans, don’t you think? After all this is a guy that believes a lot of the same crap the Teahadists believe, all the voodoo economic BS. Yet even he says that they are crazy to think that you could do this without increadable levels of risk.

Mr. Penner said:

“The dumbest thing to do would be to default even for one day right at this point,” he said. “I don’t see much good coming out of these notions that somehow if we got a big budget deal it would be OK not to pay interest for a few weeks or few days.”
Penner added: “It’s playing with matches around gasoline as far as I’m concerned and would be an incredibly stupid thing to do.”

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