Earlier this week we saw one hypocrisy after another.
Can someone explain this to me?
How can a fetus…at seven months, a viable seven months mind you, not be a person? But…the clump of cells being aborted by a woman, who is executing her own right to choose, which is legal mind you…thanks to the Supreme Court….how can that clump of cells be a “child.”
I will tell you how, money…that is how fetuses are not people my friends!
Just take a look at some of these articles from this week alone. Emphasis mine…
Among the speakers at Friday’s rally was Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and staunch abortion opponent who last year unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination.
He recalled the love and support the country showed for his young daughter, Bella, who was born with a serious genetic condition and whose illness led him to take some time off from the campaign trail. He cited his daughter’s life — “she is joyful, she is sweet, she is all about love” — as a reason to discourage abortion even in instances when women are told that it would be “better” for their unborn children to have one.
“We all know that death is never better — never better. Really what it’s about is saying is it would be easier for us, not better for her,” he said. “And I’m here to tell you … Bella is better for us and we are better because of Bella.”
He said the anti-abortion cause was made up of people who every day advocate for their position outside abortion clinics and at crisis pregnancy centers.
“This movement is not a bunch of moralizers standing on their mountaintop preaching what is right,” Santorum said.
One demonstrator, Mark Fedarko, 44, of Cleveland, said he regularly stands outside of abortion clinics in hopes of discouraging women from going inside.
“There’s God’s law and man’s law,” he said. But I follow God’s law first. Like it says right here, thou shall not kill. That’s the end of the story. We need to protect these children.”
Ah…children. We must protect the children!
Addressing the crowd at the National Mall via video broadcast, Boehner said it’s time for anti-abortion activisits to “commit ourselves to doing everything we can to protect the sanctity of life.” Step one, he said, is making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal dollars from being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest.
“For the new Congress, that means bringing together a bipartisan pro-life majority and getting to work,” Boehner said. “In accordance with the will of the people, we will again work to pass the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, formally codifying the Hyde Amendment.”
Boehner said he will make it a national priority to “help make abortion a relic of the past.”
“Let that be one of our most fundamental goals this year,” he said.
Yes….a fundamental goal…protect the sanctity of life.
But wait a moment: A Fetus Is Not a Person if it Costs us Money, Says Catholic Church
You know how the Catholic Church is always going on and on … and on and freakin’ on … about the sanctity of life and also a bunch of vague concepts about liberty ‘n stuff? We can’t have abortion because every sperm is sacred. We can’t have insurance coverage for women’s health care because something about Taco Bell and freedom. We can’t even fund cancer screening because apparently Jesus was cool with women dying of undetected breast cancer.
And all of this—all of it—goes back to the Church’s insistence that life begins with your very first hell-worthy dirty thought and must be protected at all costs, despite all consequences, including, of course, the consequence of dead women, whose lives are not nearly as valuable as the “life” of an unborn fetus. In just the past year, the Church has called upon its faithful followers to march, to starve themselves, to go to jail, to even take up arms—all to protect those fetuses. No exceptions. None. Not if the fetus is already dead inside the womb. Not if the fetus is going to kill the actual living woman carrying it. No goddamned exceptions EVER.
Well, except for one: when it’s going to cost the Church money.
Turns out, when a man sues a Catholic hospital for malpractice because his wife and the twins she was carrying inside her died when she turned up in the emergency room and her doctor never bothered to answer a page—well, things get a little tricky. Yes, the Catholic hospital adheres to the strict Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, as set forth by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. And yes, those directives include the claim that “[t]he Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn” and a mandate to uphold “the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death.’” But come on. That obviously does not apply when Catholic Health Initiatives, the Church-affiliated organization that runs the Church-affiliated St. Thomas More Hospital where a young woman and her two unborn fetuses died, is the lead defendant in a lawsuit.
What? I just read a bunch of news articles that says we must save the sanctity of life, these unborn children, from being aborted, and now the church argues a wrongful death court case because fetuses aren’t people?
Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.
As Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”
And get this, the Catholic hospital won the argument. Catholic hospital chain beats malpractice suit by saying fetuses aren’t people
Catholic Health Initiatives is a non-profit conglomerate organization that owns roughly 170 health care facilities in 17 states, with national assets totaling around $15 billion.
Catholic hospitals purportedly base their ethical practices on the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church, which were authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These guidelines state that, “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death. The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”
Catholic Health Initiatives’ promotional literature states that its mission is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and be guided by “fidelity to the Gospel.” The chain’s refusal to dispense contraceptives, perform abortions or to offer end-of-life services has placed it at odds in business deals attempting to acquire secularly governed hospitals in the past.
Practicing what that “good book” tells ya to is one hell of a money maker, eh? Fucking assholes! The hypocrisy of this story against the backdrop of the anti-abortion protesters in DC makes me want to drop kick a priest, bishop, nun or a frothy….orange politician!
Hey, but in New Mexico…fetuses aren’t people either…they are considered evidence. New Mexico Bill Would Send Rape Victims to Jail for Aborting ‘Evidence’
If you thought the so-called “rape caucus” was fading away, there’s new evidence — and we mean evidence — that some Republicans are still going to make a lot of people upset with what they see as legitimate concerns about rape. New Mexico State Rep. Cathrynn Brown has now introduced a bill that, if she has her way, ultimately could see rape victims charged with felony and three years in prison if they fail to carry their pregnancies to term.
Brown’s argument is that fetuses are evidence of sexual assault, and “tampering with evidence” is a third-degree felony. Here’s a key part of the actual bill, in case this stuff still seems unbelievable to you.
This story was updated by the way…
It appears that Brown has figured out that no one really liked her bill and that her bill, as it was stated, was rather unclear. The state representative apparently is submitting a substitute bill, the New Mexico Telegram reports. Brown said:
House Bill 206 was never intended to punish or criminalize rape victims … Its intent is solely to deter rape and cases of incest. The rapist—not the victim—would be charged with tampering of evidence. I am submitting a substitute draft to make the intent of the legislation abundantly clear.
So, what (we think) Brown, a pro-life Republican, means is that she’s trying to punish rapists who try and cover their tracks by getting their victims to have abortions. Which is a lot different than the bill she first introduced, which stated that any person “procuring” an abortion should be punished for “tampering.”
It still is a fucked up way to handle something like rape…I mean, if a woman is raped and gets an abortion…is tampering with evidence just another charge filed against the rapist? Yeah…like it is so damn easy to bring a rapist to prosecution.
Like proposed laws throughout the country, these legislators are taking things too far…remember the one in Georgia that made miscarriages a crime? Just because Obama won, and all those idiots who made ridiculous statements about rape lost their bid to go to Washington, doesn’t mean we have heard the last of the war drums from the christian right’s fight against women.
I know that you have heard me say this before, but one area where we could get some folks who will give women a fighting chance against these PLUB dumb asses, is to put more left-minded judges to work in the federal courts. For example, take the recent decision that came down this week too, Court rules Obama recess appointments unconstitutional
A federal appeals court, dealing a defeat to President Obama, has sharply limited the chief executive’s power to bypass the Senate and to make temporary “recess” appointments to fill vacant slots in government agencies.
The Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a 3-0 ruling, said the president can make recess appointments only when the Senate has formally adjourned between sessions of Congress, not when lawmakers leave Washington for a brief break.
The White House is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court, but look at this…from Susie Madrak: Judge Who Ruled Against Recess Appointments Is A Wingnut
Just thought I’d point out the long-time wingnuttery and judicial activism of D.C. District Judge David Sentelle, the Reagan-appointee circuit judge and Jesse Helms protegee — the man who appointed Kenneth Starr — who just invalidated Obama’s NLRB appointments, thus kicking off a whole potential mess o’legal chaos!
The D.C. district is second only to the Supreme Court in its importance, and of course it has three (soon to be four) vacancies, which Republicans refuse to allow Obama to fill.
Susie points to this post from Daily Kos back in 2010:
This Daily Kos post from 2010 sums it up pretty well:
Back to Sentelle, the lead judge of this circuit court, and a reminder that this is someone who, when he gets a chance, puts his right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice. Is it any wonder that the reason he became a judge is that he was appointed by Ronald Reagan, a man who also whenever he got a chance, also put his own right wing, authoritarian political beliefs over and above the principle of justice.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who voted to overturn the convictions of Oliver North and John Poindexter, for their Iran Contra crimes.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who appointed his fellow partisan hack Kenneth Starr for his witchhunt of the Clintons.
This is, for example, the same partisan hack who enthusiastically supported the “Military Commissions Act” and its destruction of habeas corpus for enemy combatants; if you are David Sentelle and the government accuses you of a crime, you are guilty until you can prove innocence, rather than the other way around, and the government can throw up all sorts of roadblocks to prove your innocence. Unless, of course, you are someone like Ollie North. Then, of course, your innocence is fully presumed.
The man has no business wearing a judge’s robe, and is a disgrace to our supposed rule of law.
Another opinion on this decision from the LG&M’s blog: Neoconfederate Judges Rule NLRB Recess Appointments Unconstitutional – Lawyers, Guns & Money
Oh, great. The opinion is an atrocity, classic “hack originalism for dummies,” relying heavily on the fact that recess appointments during nominal sessions of the Senate are a relatively recent phenomenon (although there’s precedent going back to 1867, and “[t]he last five Presidents have all made appointments during intrasession recesses of fourteen days or fewer”), without considering that the Senate systematically refusing to consider presidential nominees is also a contemporary phenomenon.
Read the rest of that post at the link.
Obama needs to put his “stamp” on those federal district court justices.
Here is one article that I saved away when I read it originally earlier this month, from Charlie Savage: Obama Lags on Filling Seats in the Judiciary
President Obama is set to end his term with dozens fewer lower-court appointments than both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush achieved in their first four years, and probably with less of a lasting ideological imprint on the judiciary than many liberals had hoped for and conservatives had feared.
Mr. Obama’s record stems in part from a decision at the start of his presidency to make judicial nominations a lower political priority, according to documents and interviews with more than a dozen current and former administration officials and with court watchers from across the political spectrum. Senate Republicans also played a role, ratcheting up partisan warfare over judges that has been escalating for the past generation by delaying even uncontroversial picks who would have been quickly approved in the past.
But a good portion of Mr. Obama’s judicial record stems from a deliberate strategy. While Mr. Bush quickly nominated a slate of appeals court judges early in his first year — including several outspoken conservatives — Mr. Obama moved more slowly and sought relatively moderate jurists who he hoped would not provoke culture wars that distracted attention from his ambitious legislative agenda.
“The White House in that first year did not want to nominate candidates who would generate rancorous disputes over social issues that would further polarize the Senate,” said Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s first White House counsel. “We were looking for mainstream, noncontroversial candidates to nominate.”
Noncontroversial? Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Like everything else we hear out of Obama’s mouth….but that is another topic for another post.
You can read another article on Obama’s weak-ass attention to the Judicial appointments from Robert Kuttner, published last year: The Courts: How Obama Dropped the Ball
In his novel King of the Jews, Leslie Epstein sets his story in the wartime ghetto of Lodz, Poland, where the Gestapo ruled through an appointed council of Jewish elders. Epstein, researching the book, tracked down the gallows humor of the time. In one such joke, told by a character in the novel, two Jews are facing a firing squad. The commandant asks if they would like blindfolds. One of the condemned whispers to the other, “Don’t make trouble.”
“Don’t make trouble” could have been the credo of the first year of the Obama Administration. The White House calculated that if the president just extended the hand of conciliation to the Republicans, the opposition would reciprocate and together they would change the tone in Washington. This was the policy on everything from the stimulus to health reform to judicial nominations. It didn’t work out so well.
Now, spurred by the tailwind of a re-election victory and the realization that public opinion is on his side, President Obama has displayed a new toughness in his budget battle. He has declared that he won’t negotiate against himself, and the strategy is working. But the White House is still stuck in don’t-make-trouble mode on the crucial issue of judicial appointments, where the pace of nominations is only now catching up with that of Obama’s predecessors and the strategy for avoiding partisan confrontation gives Republicans something close to a veto over who is nominated.
I will leave you to read those two articles in full…and now, I give you the rest of the day’s reads in link dump fashion.
Hey Kat, Jindal is not the only one fucking things up: Sam Brownback’s Kansas is a Resort Town for “Makers”
Much like Bobby Jindal in Louisiana, Governor Sam Brownback is busy turning Kansas into a right-wing paradise, with low wages, few public services, and reactionary social policy. Since 2010, when conservative Republicans—including Brownback—took full control of the state, Kansas has passed strict new anti-abortion laws as well as large cuts to education and mental health care services. And last year, Brownback signed a bill that cuts state income taxes by roughly $3.7 billion over five years, and collapses the state’s current three-bracket tax system into two brackets: 4.9 percent and 3 percent.
That tax cut took effect this month, and as the New York Timesreports, it’s the largest reduction in Kansas history. It’s also only the beginning; this week, Kansas Republicans introduced a bill that would pare taxes further, and eventually eliminate the state’s individual income tax.
As with Jindal’s proposal in Louisiana, this would deprive the state of needed revenue; existing tax cuts are already expected cost nearly $850 million in the coming year. Additional cuts will balloon those costs, and force further reductions to state services.
Now an update from Newtown, Sandy Hook probe to extend until summer, prosecutor says … WTF? I really would love to know if I am the only one who finds it strange that we still know less about Adam Lanza then we do about all those other mass shooters since Sandy Hook.
Stephen King has an essay available on Kindle: Guns (Kindle Single): Stephen King: Amazon.com: Kindle Store
In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King’s keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.
King’s earnings from the sale of this essay will go the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Check it out! It is only $0.99.
Here is an article from a couple of weeks ago: LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPY: As plus-size sales soar, our columnist meets the models making a big impact on the high street. Nice to see real sized women models getting noticed.
Traffic police in Romania are fed up with pedestrians’ blatant disregard for designated crosswalks, opting to instead dash across busy streets at their own, oftentimes fatal, detriment. In an effort to raise awareness of this sheer idiocy, traffic police have released a series of TV ads highlighting the citizens that understand the function of those big white lines painted on the pavement are for: Stray dogs.
Semida Duriga, the director of Romania’s Next Advertising agency, created and launched the ads upon learning the unsettling statistics regarding the number of careless pedestrians killed or grievously injured when hit by oncoming motor vehicles. According to the chief of Romania’s traffic police, Lucian Dinita, roughly 360 of these collisions were fatal while another 1,200 required intense medical attention.
Unlike humans and their all-encompassing drive to reach the taco truck across the street regardless of the consequences, Romania’s stray dog population heeds the importance of traversing crosswalks and understands that the green light applies to cars and not living organisms. This uncanny level of canine adroitness is what inspired Duriga to film these dogs from various Romanian cities in action for the ads.
I am not sure if that is a compliment to the dogs or not?
Okay, here is a link to a scientific study, this one is about Socially isolated rats are more vulnerable to addiction, report researchers.
And another article on findings from a recent study, this one dealing with Household chores: Gender equality’s final frontier.
Let’s finish up with a link to an article about 3-D printers. Seriously, I thought this was a load of shit, but it isn’t…it is for real! Dutch architect to build house with 3D printer
A Dutch architect has designed a house “with no beginning or end” to be built using the world’s largest 3D printer, harnessing technology that may one day be used to print houses on the moon.
Can you believe it?
Well, this is a real long post…hope to see you all in the comments. Have a great day and share your thoughts with us!
Many of you may have already seen a transcript of Obama’s inaugural address. If you haven’t, I have a bunch of links for you to check out…It is various thoughts from different people and you may find it interesting. (I realize there was an earlier post on the speech, but these are different links.)
Another shooting, this one could have been even worse, if the killer was not talked out of carrying out his plan.
Meanwhile, on the red planet… Study: Mars could have held watery underground oases for life
This image of Mars’ McLaughlin Crater shows evidence of layers of clay and carbonate, signs of the presence of water. (University of Arizona/JPL / January 21, 2013)
They’re usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species.
So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?
Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.
Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.
His scheme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park but, while in the film dinosaurs were created in a laboratory, Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer.
He said his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA.
He said: ‘Now I need an adventurous female human.
‘It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.’
Many of you may know that I was a Republican back in the day and that I even ran for office as a Republican. I was continually sent to county and state conventions by women’s groups to try to stop the party from systematically eliminating its historical positions on the ERA, reproductive health, and just general civil rights positions that once were the hallmark of the party. The position of Senator of the Nebraska state unicameral is nonpartisan which is how I got marginally beat by a combination of Michelle Bachmann/Sarah Palin whacko that had lived in the state less than a year and ran one the nastiest campaigns in the state’s history that was primarily fought from church and parish pulpits. She was brought in by the fetus fetishists who were in full on purge mode by the early 1990s. Nearly every elected official I spoke to was not very big on them but feared them and said they agreed with them just to make their re-elections easier. Having two catholic parishes, two big barn evangelical churches and some Southern Baptists run a religious witch hunt on you is absolutely traumatizing. It’s worse than dealing with the Taliban because at least the Taliban wear beards and are easy to identify. No one wants to believe they have a whacko living next to them in a suburb and that’s the hardest thing to fight about them. They used to use code words and they tried to fit in. They looked normal. After 20 years of plotting take overs and purges in state after state with no one really taking them very seriously we arrive at the position we are in today. They’ve broken their strings and no longer serve plutocrats that empowered them. We have a democracy that is a duopoly of two parties. One of our parties has gone insane. The result is complete dysfunction.
It’s not like the establishment republicans don’t deserve this. They really let it happen. They laughed at their crazies and gave them just enough lip service that they thought they’d keep them in their little corners. Now, they’ve been cornered themselves and there doesn’t appear to be much they can do about it. Andrew Sullivan has an eloquent piece about about the unhinged among them. Really, the rise of the unhinged is the poison fruit of the tree of greed. The establishment never thought they’d have a revolt on their hands. They always thought those little puppets were so dumb they would never attack their corporate establishment masters.
Between the humiliating and chaotic collapse of Speaker Boehner’s already ludicrously extreme Plan B and Wayne La Pierre’s deranged proposal to put government agents in schools with guns, the Republican slide into total epistemic closure and political marginalization has now become a free-fall. This party, not to mince words, is unfit for government. There is no conservative party in the West – except for minor anti-immigrant neo-fascist ones in Europe – anywhere close to this level of far right extremism. And now the damage these fanatics can do is not just to their own country – was the debt ceiling debacle of 2011 not enough for them? – but to the entire world.
Those of us who have warned for years about this disturbing trend toward ever more extreme measures – backing torture, pre-emptive un-budgeted wars, out-of-control spending followed, like a frantic mood swing, by anti-spending absolutism of the most insane variety in a steep recession, vicious hostility to illegal immigrants, contempt for gay couples, hostility even to contraception, let alone a middle ground on abortion … well, you know it all by now.
But the current constitutional and economic vandalism removes any shred of doubt that this party and its lucrative media bubble is in any way conservative. They aren’t. They’re ideological zealots, indifferent to the consequences of their actions, contemptuous of the very to-and-fro essential for the American system to work, gerry-mandering to thwart the popular will, filibustering in a way that all but wrecks the core mechanics of American democracy, and now willing to acquiesce to the biggest tax increase imaginable because they cannot even accept Obama’s compromise from his clear campaign promise to raise rates for those earning over $250,000 to $400,000 a year.
The worse thing is that most of the deranged think some kind of magical being is on their side and they can’t believe they’ve lost the last election and lost it badly. This has caused a lot of deranged behavior that’s hard to fathom in a first world country. If there is a gawd, she’s obviously not on their side. They don’t like the outcome and an insurrection is the only answer. Most of them have neoconfederate mindsets any way so they think bringing down our government is some how a patriotic duty.
Though it has been 45 days since voters emphatically reaffirmed their faith in Mr. Obama, the time since then has shown the president’s power to be severely constrained by a Republican opposition that is bitter about its losses, unmoved by Mr. Obama’s victory and unwilling to compromise on social policy, economics or foreign affairs.
“The stars are all aligning the wrong way in terms of working together,” said Peter Wehner, a former top White House aide to President George W. Bush. “Right now, the political system is not up to the moment and the challenges that we face.”
House Republicans argue that voters handed their members a mandate as well, granting the party control of the House for another two years and with it the right to stick to their own views, even when they clash strongly with the president’s.
And many Republicans remember well when the tables were turned. After Mr. Bush’s re-election in 2004, Democrats eagerly thwarted his push for privatization of Social Security, hobbling Mr. Bush’s domestic agenda in the first year of his second term.
New polls suggest that Mr. Obama’s popularity has surged to its highest point since he announced the killing of Osama bin Laden. In the latest CBS News survey, the president’s job approval rating was at 57 percent.
But taken together, events suggest that even that improvement in the polls has done little to deliver the president the kind of clear authority to enact his policies that voters seemed to say they wanted during the election.
A group of tin pot congressmen from gerrymandered districts appear unwilling to work the system. They want to follow the mandate of the craziest among them and drown our country in their personal bathtubs. The GOP is in utter chaos and its taking the country down with it. We can’t get even the slightest bit of sane policy. If you look at the state level, its even worse as Republican governors and legislatures work hard to bring their local school systems, health systems, and economies down to enrich their ALEC donor base.
Disarray is a word much overused in politics. But it barely begins to describe the current state of chaos and incoherence as Republicans come to terms with electoral defeat and try to regroup against a year-end deadline to avert a fiscal crisis.
The presidential election was fought in large measure over the question of whether some Americans should pay more in taxes. Republicans lost that argument with the voters, who polls show are strongly in favor of raising rates for the wealthy.
But a sizable contingent within the GOP doesn’t see it that way and is unwilling to declare defeat on a tenet that so defines them. Nor are they prepared to settle for getting the best deal they can, as a means of avoiding the tax hikes on virtually everyone else that would take effect if no deal is reached.
When Boehner tried to bend even a little, by proposing to raise rates on income over $1 million, his party humiliated him, forcing him Thursday night to abruptly cancel a vote on his “Plan B.”
“We had a number of our members who just really didn’t want to be perceived as having raised taxes,” Boehner said Friday. “That was the real issue.”
It’s hard to predict what will come of all of this. It’s pretty clear that Republicans in congress and in many states are about as interested in serving their electorate as a devout Theravadan Buddhist monk would be interested in a well cooked steak and a hooker. It’s going to take awhile to purge statehouses and congress of these problems. Some of the more obvious nuts–like Allen West–were ousted. Still, Michelle Bachmann snuck through feeling strong enough to run for speaker of the house and emboldened by the crazies in my old haunts. Can you imagine a person that out of touch with reality being third in line to the presidency?
Yes. The Republicans have problem that started with Pat Robertson’s run for the presidency and the embrace of a major political party of the American Taliban and Fascist movements in the name of garnering enough votes for greed that’s best characterized by the likes of Santorum, Perry, Buchanan, and Romney. But, it’s had a lot of negative impact already. There are a lot of folks that would be Nixonian Republicans running for office and holding office in the Democratic Party. Senator Ben Nelson comes to mind. The Republican party wanted none of him so he and the dead animal on his head went to the welcoming arms of the Democrats. His votes were still reliably Republican. Now he’s been placed by a tea party whacko. So, these are our choices these days. Republians running as democrats or theocratic fascists running as republicans. Just think of it. Eight years ago Dubya Bush was trying to ‘reform’ social security and none of us wanted any party of it. What’s going on today? We have the American Heritage Plan Health Care Law and a president who has no qualms chopping into key Democratic legislative and judicial battles from the past. The Democratic Party has become home to the Richard Nixon Republicans. This has virtually left us with a center right party and a party of the extreme right. Our discourse on policy is extremely limited. I had to choose the lesser evil but it truly sucks that we never have a better choice
So, it’s nice to think about bringing out a bowl of popcorn and watching the internecine republican fight of the century. However, living with the results of this chaos are going to be much more far reaching. I’m not sure the party will go the way of the Whigs but I’m pretty sure we’re going to be dysfunctional for at least another two years. Given the weakish state of the economy and the craziness going on in the Middle East, we just might find ourselves increasingly irrelevant in the world. After all, it’s usually by check and military might that we throw ourselves into every world event. Now, it seems there will only be a bath tub, a group of nuts, and our government trying not to drown.
Yup, Clara’s question is still germane.
I have a more earthy version of this having do to with lies and morons when I continue to watch the media cover the “fiscal cliff”. The coverage is singularly lacking substance and Media Matters shows us why in a study that shows that “Economists – And Economics – Absent From Media Coverage Of Debt Debate”. Journalists continue to bring politicians in to discuss the politics of the fiscal cliff in a complete vacuum of facts, data, economic theory, and reality or economic perspective. Why are economists absent from the discussion?
A Media Matters study found that economists have been strangely absent from discussions on budget negotiations, following a typical pattern of the media’s inability to host experts to discuss complex issues. This lack of expert analysis has steered the debate toward politics and away from core economic concerns.
In a recently published study of news segments discussing current budget negotiations, Media Matters found that the presence of economists was sorely lacking – out of 503 total guests in the 337 segments analyzed, only 22 were economists. The lack of appearances by economists is spread across all networks …
I’ve watched a lot of the coverage and there are a lot of things coming out of the mouths of people making these decisions that would never come out of the mouth of an economist whatever their voter affiliation. But let me start with one thing that strikes me as really, really, really obscene. The Republican mantra of “Increased Taxes Kill Jobs” is old school Keynes. I mean REAL old school Keynesian economics because the old Keynes model shows us that increasing taxes or decreasing government spending is contractionary fiscal policy. So, why hasn’t any moderator of bloviating pols mentioned this or asked about this as Republicans rant on about the evilness of Keynesian economics?
NeoKeynesians have discovered a lot about the subtleties of the impact of changes in tax rates or government spending since that first bit of insight came from the Keynesian models back in the day. Those subtleties are present in the studies you read that show that changing tax rates for the rich has a different impact that changing tax rates for others. It also has been determined that some government spending is more effective in a variety of ways than others. However, the point remains. That Republican talking point is actually quite old school Keynesian so why doesn’t one Media person ask them why they hate Keynes and say that continually? Is it because they’ve bought into the idea that tax cuts only should be discussed in terms of the republicans adherence to the dismissed Laffer Curve and hypothesis? Where are the economists that can actually ask these questions? There’s plenty of us out there writing, tweeting, blogging, and facebooking? Why not ask one of us?
Previous studies by Media Matters have noted that the lack of economists’ input helps spread conservative misinformation, leaving a substantial impact on public opinion. The most recent study, however, shows that keeping economists out of the debate also eliminates any discussion of economic issues.
One such issue is the so-called “fiscal cliff,” a combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, could plunge the U.S. economy into recession in 2013.
However, of the 337 segments analyzed, 209 — 62 percent — failed to address the macroeconomic implications of either tax increases or spending cuts. While some microeconomic issues were discussed (such as the potential impact on healthcare costs), most of the segments were focused on largely non-economic issues, such as political leverage in negotiations, the Grover Norquist pledge, or concessions made by the two parties.
Meanwhile, economists have not been silent on the economic consequences of current budget negotiations. A recent International Monetary Fund study found that for every dollar decrease in government spending, the U.S. would experience as much as a $1.80 decrease in output. Conversely, the Congressional Budget Office noted that if Bush-era tax rates expired for high-income earners, negative effects on economic output would be negligible.
Given the fact that cutting spending and raising taxes are both large components of the so-called “fiscal cliff,” highlighting these findings when discussing budget negotiations would help inform viewers of the real economic stakes. Instead, the media have taken the economics out of a largely economic issue.
Not even Greg Mankiw would risk his reputation in the academic community spreading the lies that get put out there about the economy by Republican Politicians. Chief among the lies are the kinda crap we saw coming from the Republicans. There are all these completely untrue economic lies running around out there. It’s all surrounding ideological things the Republicans are still trying to accomplish. Social Security has nothing to do with the Federal deficit. It’s not going bankrupt. Raising the age of social security and medicare does not solve any economic problems and does not save money. It just costs shifts things to different programs and sectors of government. Higher marginal tax rates on the rich does not kill jobs. Lower marginal tax rates on the rich does not create jobs. Special tax treatment for speculative investment behavior destabilizes financial markets. Regulation of Financial Markets improves their outcomes. There is not a structural deficit problem. There is a cyclical problem that would be solved if real stimulus of the economy occurred. I could go on and on and on and have written extensively on this citing study after study and economic expert after economic expert.
Nobel prize winning Paul Krugman’s facts get attacked as polemics by a political operative on Sunday TV. This is the reality of our public discussion on the most important issues of our time. Krugman is frequently out there on his own. He’s always trying to argue from a fact based, scientific method based, reality gets to argue with pols. Why can’t the media bring on more economists and let us see a real discussion of facts and theories? We have so much obvious data sitting right in front of us. The UK’s recession is a great example. The UK with its conservatives and austerity package has the worst economy in the west right now. It’s due to those policies the Republicans want to enact here being enacted by Tories there. Both Europe and the US are in much better situations–albeit still stale because of the lack of true fiscal stimulus–because they’ve not completely done the austerity thing. He points out that Ben Bernanke and the overly conservative Fed appears to be the only grown up institution in the beltway these days.
Along with its new policy pronouncement, the Fed released its economic projections (pdf). What struck me is that the Fed expects the unemployment rate to be well above its long-run level even in the fourth quarter of 2015, which is as far as its projections go.
This means that the Fed is projecting elevated unemployment nine full years after the Great Recession started. And, of course, the Fed has been consistently over-optimistic.
This is an awesome failure of policy — not solely at the Fed, of course.When I wax caustic about Very Serious People, bear this in mind. Faced with an economic crisis where textbook macroeconomics told us exactly how to respond, people of influence chose instead to obsess over budget deficits and generally punt on employment; and the result has been a huge economic and human disaster.
So much of this is disheartening to me. However, the most disheartening thing is waking up every day for the last 4 years or so realizing that an entire political organization–one of the two in our duopoly–doesn’t care about anything but getting its way. Every day it becomes more obvious that Republicans are not about our country, our country’s economy, or our people. That kind of psychopathy should be punished severely. Over and over they’ve shown they will absolutely tank our economy for their donor base.
But, again, how will the majority of people know this if they’re only allowed political discussion that continually presents lies, ideology, and out and out crap as an ‘alternative’ viewpoint?
The only thing that has lessened my hysteria about the crazy Simpson Bowles plan, the shrieking about a fiscal cliff, the repeated insanity about the US federal government going “bankrupt”, and the continuing insistence that the people that benefited most from unrealistic policy moves over the last 30 years shouldn’t kick in their fair share for our civilization is the conversation that goes on within the community of economists. Economists know it’s insanity. There’s a lot of agreement that most of the media hysteria and political power playing around this entire deficit hysteria is mostly a plot form “obscenely rich men” who just simply want more of everything we have. Here’s some excellent analysis and points by Lynn Stewart Parramore.
The Campaign to Fix the Debt is a huge, and growing, coalition of powerful CEOs, politicians and policy makers on a mission to lower taxes for the rich and to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid under the cover of concern about the national debt. The group was spawned in July 2012 by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, architects of a misguided deficit reduction scheme in Washington back in 2010. By now, the “fixers” have collected a war chest of $43 million. Private equity billionaire Peter G. Peterson, longtime enemy of the social safety net, is a major supporter.
This new Wall Street movement, which includes Republicans and plenty of Democrats, is hitting the airwaves, hosting roundtables, gathering at lavish fundraising fêtes, hiring public relations experts, and traveling around the country to push its agenda. The group aims to seize the moment of the so-called “fiscal cliff” debate to pressure President Obama to concede to House Republicans and continue the Bush income tax cuts for the rich while shredding the social safety net. The group includes Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, Honeywell’s David Cote, Aetna’s Mark Bertolini, Delta Airlines’ Richard Anderson, Boeing’s W. James McNerney, and over 100 other influential business honchos and their supporters.
Corporations represented by the fixers have collected massive bailouts from taxpayers and gigantic subsidies from the government, and they enjoy tax loopholes that in many cases bring their tax bills down to zero. Sometimes their creative accountants even manage to get money back from Uncle Sam. For instance, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, Boeing has paid a negative 6.5 percent tax rate for the last decade, even though it was profitable every year from 2002 through 2011.
These CEOs talk about shared sacrifice, but it seems that they don’t intend to share anything but your retirement money with their wealthy friends. As New York magreports:
“Most on-the-record comments are a mishmash of platitudes about shared sacrifice and working together for the good of the country. But interviews with a number of organizers and CEO council members point to a massive networking effort among one-percenters — one that relies on strategically exploiting existing business relationships and appealing to patriotic and economic instincts.”
It is outrageous to think that a country that has been suffering from decades of ever increasing income inequality, exorbitant CEO pay, and financial crises triggered by corporate and financial industry corruption should lead to calls that the victims should pay more than perpetrators–who are also the pirates that profiteered–for the damages done to the public treasury. There is a full on assault for everything that’s defined as America progress since the 20th century. The majority of Americans–we poor, huddled masses–are losing the assault. We’ve lost the conversation in the halls of congress and to the media that appears to be joined at the hip with its plutocratic enablers.
It’s obvious Republican leaders have no idea of what they speak and are only talking from points they feel will tingle the fingers of their donor base. The ink is barely dry on the Romney loss and the 2016 Republican candidates are already on the run. All of them are basically running on the same crap rejected just weeks ago with the exception of trying to find a kinder gentler way to spin the obvious hatred of any one that’s not a rich white male. Most of them don’t even care about learning about the issues. They only want to find a message that will sell to their privileged constituents.
As Jonathan Chait points out, Bobby Jindal — who is supposed to be one of the intellectual leaders of his party — has just published an op-ed on the cliff that sure looks as if he has no idea whatsoever what the cliff is about. There’s nothing in that piece even hinting that the looming problem is spending cuts and tax increases that will shrink the deficit too soon; and his big policy ideas would actually make the lurch to austerity worse. It’s not just the idea of a balanced budget amendment, which would force harsh austerity every time the economy goes into recession; putting a cap on spending as share of GDP would do the same, because you’d have to cut spending whenever GDP went down.
You really have to wonder how someone who’s a major political figure could be this uninformed — but you have to wonder even more about the state of mind that induces you to write an op-ed about a subject you don’t comprehend at all.
But this isn’t the first time something like this has happened to a supposed GOP star. In the early stages of the Republican primary, Tim Pawlenty — a supposed thoughtful conservative — published an op-ed based on the premise that public-sector employment was booming; in fact, it was plunging. And, of course, Mitt Romney made statements — about the 47 percent, about Benghazi — that he clearly thought were smart and well-informed, but were in fact flatly false.
I think it comes back to the epistemic closure issue. Even supposedly well-informed people on the right get their “facts” from the likes of the Heritage Foundation. Probably Jindal never talks to anyone who will quietly explain that the fiscal cliff is a problem because, well, Keynesian economics is basically right, and you really don’t want austerity in a depressed economy. So he has some vague notion that it’s about the wages of fiscal irresponsibility, which it isn’t, and apparently believes that he knows enough to pontificate.
Now, there’s talk of doing something very fiscally unsound to give the Republicans a trophy. Will Democrats actually take the imprudent action to increase the Medicare age just to get the Republicans to move on something, anything? Ezra Klein–hosting for Rachel Maddow–points out the incredibly unpopular policy is also terrible fiscal policy because it will cost more to cover the change than it saves.
Despite the fact it’s unpopular, republicans really want to make cuts in medicare and want to raise the age by two years from 65 to 67. that’s also super unpopular…What’s weird is it’s always presented as the height of fiscal responsibility even though it’s fiscally irresponsible. Which brings us to the challenge. why raising the age does not save you very much money and is probably a bad policy idea in under two minutes…The seniors turning to private insurance will have to pay more from the same coverage. 3.7 billion more in the first year of the policy…it’s a terrible policy, but because obama care and employers and others are there to catch a lot of these people, it might get more votes while doing less harm to seniors than the alternatives.
The basic reasoning behind all of this is the continual need by the Republicans to serve their richest of the rich and the inability of the rich to EVER GET ENOUGH MONEY and Power. It’s a zero sum game for them and they seem to want every one else to lose. The worst of these offenders have installed themselves on Wall Street. They still keep pushing the idea that Social Security is insolvent and going bankrupt when it is not. These are also the guys that would love to access that big pool of money for their gambling schemes.
“Fix” means cut : When they say “fix” Social Security, they mean cut Social Security. Fixers want to convince the public that a well-managed, hugely popular program that does not add to the deficit (it’s self-funded) is somehow in crisis and requires intervention in the form of various cutting schemes. They seek this because many of the rich do not want to pay taxes for Social Security, and financiers want very much to move toward privitization of retirement accounts so they can collect fees on such accounts.
It is surreal that any elected official could still hold and trumpet these ideas after they were sincerely stomped on by the electorate just weeks ago. But the deal is that the rich just cannot get enough and they are willing to drive the country into developing country status to get more. The United State continues to nosedive on lists of quality of life. What exactly will it take to get jerks like the Koch Brothers back into their evil box?
Here’s an excellent essay that sums up what’s wrong with the country these days by James Kenneth Galbraith. He mentions the importance of the our stagnant wages but goes one further. The very things that gave us our strong middle class after the Great Depression and up to the Reagan years are our social contracts with each other. These programs are under attack today like never before.
The real threat to the middle class is not there, it’s in the erosion of the programs I just mentioned. That is to say, it’s in the attack on the public schools, it’s in the squeeze on higher education, it’s in the threat to Social Security. When you look at housing, you have a very large unambiguous loss. Millions of people have been displaced, but many, many more have lost the capital value of their homes. They won’t be able to sell and retire on the proceeds.
So I think there is a threat to the middle class, but if I were talking about it in political terms, I wouldn’t be giving an abstract statistical picture of wages. This doesn’t connect to people’s experiences. If I were designing the boilerplate rhetoric of a popular movement, I would take a blue pencil to these statistical formulations. I don’t like the stagnant median wage argument—I think it obscures what actually happened. And I don’t particularly care for the “one percent” argument. I understand it has a certain power, but one can be much more precise about what it is you want to attack, and what it is you want to preserve and to build. I would cut to the chase: we need to tear down the financial sector and rebuild it from scratch in a very different way.
In our current situation, the financial sector makes its money by destroying, not by building. When one frames the issue that way, and when you try to explain to people why that’s so, I think they have a much clearer picture of what they’re facing and what should be done. Occupy Wall Street wasn’t wrong to focus on Wall Street. That was exactly right. But talking in terms of the “one percent”—which, after all, would be about 3.1 million people—doesn’t clarify what is truly at issue. What do people care about? People care about their public services, they care about their schools, they care about the environment in which they live, they care about safety, they care about the terms of student loans, they care about health care and retirement. When one talks about those issues, I think you connect much more effectively than by addressing this in terms of “the middle class,” which is itself a very abstract term.
We are going to come to a point of decision fairly soon as to whether the core institutions of the New Deal and the Great Society survive. It is a straightforward question: do we insure the whole population against old age, disability, or the loss of their income, or not? Do we provide a decent standard of health care and long-term care for the elderly and people in the final phases of life, or not? Is this a community that provides this as a matter of common insurance, or isn’t it?
We need to buck up whoever we can to say no to compromises that include our basic social safety programs. We should go over the fiscal cliff rather than give Republicans trophies that will ruin our society in the long run.