Thursday, February 28, 2013

Count Down To Sequester-- Is Obama Getting It Wrong?


Tomorrow, as the Sequester kicks in, President Obama has the Republican leaders coming over to the White House for a talk. You know, regardless of who thought up the Sequester, Obama signed it and Boehner pushed it through Congress, got his entire team to vote for it and bragged that he got 98% of what he wanted in the deal. These are the folks who got it wrong.

When this ill-conceived legislation passed on August 1, 2011, 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for it and it passed 269-161. An equal number of Democrats opposed the bill-- 95 of them, including virtually every progressive in Congress. Hack DC-Democrats like Stephen Lynch (MA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL), John Barrow (GA), Bill Owens (NY), Loretta Sanchez (CA), Terri Sewell (AL), Ron Kind (WI), Steve Israel (NY) and Steny Hoyer (MD) may have thought this was a good idea, but the people in Congress we trust did NOT.

Among the NO votes were Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Walter Jones (R-NC), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ron Paul (R-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), John Tierney (D-MA) and Maxine Waters (D-CA). How come they knew what a disaster this would turn into... and why didn't the others? Grijalva wrote about it in an OpEd yesterday in the Arizona Daily Star. "This obsession," he wrote, "with cutting everything in sight has already taken a major toll on our economy, and the sequester will make things worse. You have to wonder what the point is of this self-inflicted economic pain. I'm proud I voted against it, and I'm proud to have offered a workable alternative. I wish my conservative colleagues could say the same."

Instead of figuring out how to proceed by meeting with the people who got this all wrong-- after all, he surrounds himself with them 24/7-- shouldn't Obama sit down and figure it out with the people who got it right? In fact, when all the proposals to fix the problem are put before people, the one that gets the most support, is the one that was carefully worked out by the Progressive Caucus. It's the one that makes the most sense. Even Republicans prefer it! Business Insider, polled the question and I'm sure didn't expect the results they got.

Most Republicans don't actually support the House Republican plan to avert the spending cuts known as the sequester, according to a new poll conducted for Business Insider by our partner SurveyMonkey.

The poll asked participants to consider the core points of three sequester replacement proposals in Congress, without telling them the partisan affiliation of those plans. It found that in some cases, both Democrats and Republicans actually opposed their own party's plans and/or backed their adversaries' proposal.

Here are the three plans we tested:

• The Senate Democratic plan cancels the $85.3 billion in 2013 sequester cuts and replaces them with a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes. The plan saves $27.5 billion by cutting farm subsidies and raises $55 billion by cutting tax deductions for oil companies and by implementing the Buffett Rule, which sets a minimum tax rate for incomes over $1 million.

• The 2012 House Republican plan would cancel the $55 billion in sequester defense cuts for 2013 and replace them by shrinking funding to food stamp programs, cutting $11.4 billion from the public health fund in the Affordable Care Act, and cutting the Social Services Block Grant program, among others.

• The House Progressive Caucus plan replaces the entire sequester with a new plan with equivalent savings. It accomplishes this by ending subsidies to fossil fuel companies, closing several tax loopholes, cutting the corporate meal and entertainment tax deduction at 25 percent, and enacting a 28 percent limit on certain tax deductions and extensions.

Surveys have found that asking people about just titles of plans or telling people who proposed policy, changes the results, so the point of this poll was to see what people thought of the plans when they were fully explained, but also stripped of partisan labels.

SurveyMonkey's poll, which surveyed 550 people, focused on congressional proposals exclusively. Here are some interesting findings of the poll:

• Surprisingly, the plan that polled the strongest was the House Progressive Caucus plan. More than half of respondents supported it compared to sequestration and just a fifth of respondents were opposed.

• A plurality of people-- 28 percent-- believed the House Progressive Caucus Plan would have the least financial impact on them personally. This makes the most sense, as only 14 percent of respondents reported having income over $150,000.

• Shockingly, 47 percent of Republicans preferred the House Progressive plan to the sequester. This means that Republicans supported the House Progressive plan just as much as they supported their own party's plan.

• Support for the Senate Democrat plan was weak, with just fewer than half of respondents preferring that plan compared with the sequester.

• Opposition to the House Republican plan was strong, with 57 percent preferring the sequester to that plan.

• Twice as many Republicans supported sequestration as Democrats.

• One-fifth of Democrats prefer the sequester when compared to the Senate Democrats' sequestration replacement plan. About one-quarter of Republicans prefer the Senate Democrat plan to the implementation of the sequester. 

Labels: , ,

Will Bob Woodward soon be sleeping with the fishes?


"I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim."
-- the "threat" issued by Gene Sperling, director of the National
Economic Council, in an e-mail to Bob Woodward

by Ken

So what do you think? Has the Obama administration taken out a hit on America's Ace Reporter, Bob Woodward? Should the Woodman be taking out a special insurance policy on his kneecaps?

For once, I thought there would be an advantage in turning to a dyed-in-the-wool Village stooge, and I looked at's Chris Cillizza's report, "Bob Woodward vs White House: Full of sound and fury, signifying (almost) nothing." After all, when it comes to a subject like relations between high-level DC sources and high-powered DC media princes, who's better-positioned to handicap the contest than the stooge's stooge?

Alas, I miscalculated totally. First off, our Chris seems to have defined the question at issue as whether the country cares about the tiff. And on this basis he dismisses the matter as "a classic Washington tempest in a teapot that elicits, at most, a shrug of the shoulders from most folks."

He backs this up with "two simple steps." First, the unwashed masses don't know, understand, or care from nuttin' about no damn sequester. And second, the "threat" is all a matter of "semantics" --
whether the word "regret" constitutes a threat or not. (Not kidding, that’s the issue. Who says Washington is out of touch?) And, for what it's worth, the emails in question between Woodward and Obama economic adviser Gene Sperling seem to be broadly inoffensive — detailing that most common-place thing in journalism: a disagreement between a reporter and his/her source.
"For what it's worth," Chris? "For what it's worth"? Doesn't it kind of matter whether National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling was actually brandishing verbal brass knuckles? A more helpful formulation than "Do people care?" might have been "Should people care?" I mean, isn't it a story if a presidential administration has has in fact taken to threatening a reporter? Well, not so much a reporter as . . . er, a Bob Woodward.

Apparently, no. What we get from Chris C is predictably Villageois they-said-the-other-ones-said sludge.
In short, the people who care about this tend to be partisans whose reactions to the “controversy” are decidedly predictable.  Republicans view it as the latest example of a White House trying to bully the media into telling a one-sided story. Democrats think Woodward is over-reacting to a non-story.
There you go, it's just these guys vs. those guys, the way it's always been in this here Village, and always will be. Except in reality the right-wing nutters in Congress who are screeching "He wuz threatened" are lying sacks of doody, people who, I truly believe (though I'd love to have the theory tested), couldn't or wouldn't tell the truth publicly if their lives depended on it.

Whereas people who say that there was no threat . . . wait, let's look, finally, at what Gene actually wrote. It's in the context, remember, of an e-mail in which the director of the National Economic Council was grovelingly apologizing to Prince Bob for having raised his voice in an exchange earlier in the day, in which he forcefully disputed a contention of the prince's in a weekend op-ed in which he purported to "explain" the sequester.

(Leaving one to wonder, one adds parenthetically, who explained the sequester to Prince Bob? On the politics of it, he might have gotten a glimmering if he had the sense to ignore his lordly contacts and seek counsel from some of his paper's younger and still less jaded political reporters. However, on the substance of the sequester, who are we kidding? Does anyone believe the prince has even a high school economics student's grounding in the subject?)

Here, in some context, is how Gene told his e-buddy Bob he would "regret" his uppitiness:
I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall -- but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding -- from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios -- but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial.
Here Chris C's characterization of "the emails in question" as "broadly inoffensive" seems to me the very least a person can say. Does anyone really believe Gene is telling Bob to recant or else face a life of permanently looking over his shoulder for the deadly assailant? Isn't it fairly clear that he's speaking "as a friend," he's trying to suggest to Old Woodenhead that he's set himself up to look like a schmuck? (Actually, there might be a much subtler threat gently implied. We'll come back to this.)

As to the supposed "disagreement between a reporter and his/her source," um, huh? On the simplest level, Sperling knows what he's talking about and Prince Bob doesn't. On the next level up, in this reporter-source formulation I guess Sperling is the "source," but who would be playing the role of the "reporter"?

Which is where I thought Chris C might be helpful, poking some gentle fun at the WaPo Prince's standing in the Village. Because as we all know Prince Bob isn't a "reporter," he's a Village "as told to" power groupie. Man, was I off target. Here's what he in fact has to contribute on this subject:
There has been a long running frustration within the media world with how the White House treats reporters and how it parcels out information. (This is not unique to the Obama Administration; technology like Twitter, You Tube etc. increasingly allows presidents -- and other politicians -- to end-run the media "filter".)  But, when Woodward, who is, without question, the most famous political reporter in the country, voices these same frustrations it gets far more attention solely because of who he is.

Will Woodward’s complaints change anything in the way the White House interacts with reporters? The Fix isn’t a betting man but if we were, we would lay all our money on "no." [Boldface emphasis added.]
OMG. Does anyone, even Chris C, believe that the way the White House interacts with Prince Bob is treated has anything to do with it interacts with actual reporters? Which brings us to that possibly implied threat I alluded to earlier. If Gene is saying anything of the sort here, it's likely to be something of the nature:

We know your entire career standing depends on access, and access at the highest levels of government? If you go around micharacterizing what such people say, especially when you don't know the eff you're talking about, don't you think you may live to regret it?

In this regard, it might be useful to look at the e-mail Prince Bob sent in reply:
Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob 
First off, does that sound like a man shivering in his boots after being threatened by the deadly force of the U.S. executive branch?

Whether we want to think of Prince Bob as a groupie or an outright power whore, luckily what's transacted between him and his "sources" all goes on behind closed doors. I sure as heck don't want to see pictures, or have pictures painted.

Labels: , ,

Blue Dog Mike McIntyre Finally Draws A Credible Primary Opponent


Mike McIntyre's reelection in November was the last race called-- and the closest call as well. The Republican-dominated North Carolina state legislature had carefully redrawn McIntyre's district in the hope of getting rid of him. NC-07 gave Obama a meager 39.9% of it's votes, one of his worst-performing districts in the state. Republican David Rouzer fought McIntyre to a near draw-- 168,697- 168,042-- in a district where blue areas in Wilimington, Lumberton, his hometown, and Fayetteville (where McIntyre had his 3 district offices in the past), were unceremoniously put into neighboring districts, replaced with bright red chunks of Johnston and Lenoir counties, where Rouzer ran up, respectively massive 60-40% and 62-38% margins.

According to ProgressivePunch, McIntyre has voted more frequently with the GOP against progressive legislation than for it. His dismal lifetime crucial vote score is 45.93, one of the worst for any Democrat. An anti-Choice fanatic, he even votes against the use of contraceptives. He's also one of the last remaining Democrats in the House with a ZERO rating on LGBT equality. The NRA rates him an "A" and donated $5,950 to reelection committee. He was one of the 6 Democrats backed by a racist hate group, ALIPAC, which opposes anyone advocating a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He not only voted against the Affordable Care Act, he was one of the 3 Democrats to vote to repeal it. But backing Boehner and Cantor is nothing new to him; he was also one of only 5 Democrats to vote for their nihilistic Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, the Republican Party's plan for turning our economy into one just like Greece's, Spain's, Italy's, Portugal's and the rest of the countries suffering under Austerity. This morning McIntyre was only one of two Democrats (both notorious misogynists) who voted for the phony GOP Violence Against Women Act, in effect, the pro-violence bill-- which failed 166-257. Even 60 Republicans voted against it!!

Until 2010 McIntyre breezed to reelection every two years, wracking up gigantic wins. In 2010, he nearly got swept away in the Great Blue Dog Apocalype, when Democratic voters noticed he wasn't really a Democrat and stayed home. The 54-46% win was the closest reelection battle of his career and focused the GOP on him like a laser.

Yesterday I spoke with New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, who has decided to take McIntyre on as a proud Democrat and a supporter of the progressive policies that have worked so well for ordinary families. If McIntyre even runs again, he will face a real primary next year. Barfield, the only Democratic commissioner was just reelected 2 months ago, and has come to many of his political beliefs as a pastor. Listening to him speak about the issues you can tell you're hearing a man who takes Jesus' message to heart in a very personal way. Whether it's the right of women to make their own decisions about their bodies or the LGBT community to enjoy the equality everyone else is entitled to, Barfield is adamant that God offers mankind a choice. And when it comes to politics, he's come down on the side of equality under the law for everyone, including for women's rights to reproductive health.

Even when it comes to President Obama's proposals for new gun safety legislation, Barfield, a supporter of the Second Amendment, is adamant that "military weapons have no place in the hands of civilians." He backs a ban on assault weapons, which clearly puts him at odds with McIntyre, who-- as usual-- backs the extreme right position. Blue America will start vetting him now and we'll get back to this race once we know more about him. So far, I have to say, I'm very impressed.

Labels: , , , ,

How Are Those Wars Against Americans Working Out For You, Republicanos?


The Republican War On Education, the Republican War On Immigration, the Republican War On Science, the Republican War On Gays, the Republican War On Women, the Republican War On Democracy... this has all been going very badly for them. Not only did they lose the presidential election, they were devastated in the Senate elections where "sure" wins in Missouri, Indiana, North Dakota, Montana and Wisconsin turned into routs almost entirely due to their wars against... well, the American people. Even the incompetently-run DCCC managed to chalk up a net win of a few seats against them in House races.

And since the election, it's actually gotten much worse for them. The safe gerrymandered districts allow the craziest among them to spout all kinds of nonsense with no fears of accountability and the results were reported yesterday in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing how Americans have come to the conclusion the Republican Party is just plain out of touch... on everything.
The poll finds that Democrats hold a double digit lead over Republicans on many major issues facing the country-- and finds solid majority support for key initiatives on Obama’s second term agenda. Dems hold a 22 point advantage on looking out for the middle class; an 18 point advantage on dealing with Medicare; a 16 point advantage on health care; a 14 point advantage on Social Security; a 10 point advantage on energy policy; a seven point advantage on immigration; and a three point advantage on the GOP signature issue of taxes... Meanwhile, Americans support raising the minimum wage by 58-36;  they want gun laws to be made stricter by 61-34; and they support giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status by 54-42.

Strikingly, the poll finds that 64 percent say the GOP is “emphasizing a partisan approach in a way that does not unify the country,” versus only 22 percent who say the party is “emphasizing unifying the country.” For Obama those numbers are the other way around-- 43-48.
Oh, the more strident, dramatic, hysterical, delusional and extreme they are, the more their own crazy little base loves them. But normal people are washing their hands of them entirely. The GOP is stuck in a bind of their own making. To please the Fox/Hate Talk Radio brainwashees, they have to say and do things that alienate the vast majority of voters outside the Confederate die-hards. The hard right, which controls the party, just excluded the most popular (and electable) Republican Governor, Chris Cristie, from their annual CPAC convention. They really are a self-defeating mess, wallowing in their own patheticness, self-pity and persecution complex.

And that brings us to the painful drawn-out charade the Republicans put themselves through as part of their misguided War On Women. They're like moths drawn to an open flame. After the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act two weeks ago with a huge bipartisan majority-- including every Republican woman and conservatives like Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Dan Coats (R-IN), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and David Vitter (R-LA)-- Boehner and Cantor found themselves in a very awkward situation again. Their extremist fringe didn't want to support the bill because... we''ll because they're misogynist hatemongers. But mainstream non-Confederate Republicans knew they had to support it and didn't want to see ads next year accusing them of favoring violence against women. I mean, imagine how the Ohio Republicans who try to pass themselves off as vaguely mainstream, like Dave Joyce, Steve Chabot, Bill Johnson, Michael Turner, Pat Tiberi, Jim Renacci and Steve Stivers, would react to an ad in their respective districts that said "Both Ohio senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman came together and helped pass the Violence Against Women Act. Why did our congressman vote against it?"

So here's Boehner looking at the tattered remnants of the Hastert Rule, by which the leadership woudn't bring up bills unless the majority of Republicans supported them. Problem is, the majority of House Republicans don't support the Violence Against Women Act. So Boehner came up with some scheme to pass a bogus bill, instead of the Senate bill and then just cry that there was a deadlock and it's the Senate's fault and Obama's fault and the libruls fault.

However, a brilliant tactician on the Democratic side figured out how to get the Senate version onto the floor-- the Democratic minority's Motion to Recommit. And guess what-- it would have been the first time Boehner lost as Motion to Recommit as Speaker. PANIC time for the broken down old drunk! He immediately changed the GOP strategy. As Sahil Kapur reported yesterday, "after nearly a year of resistance that has damaged them politically with women voters, House Republicans have found a clever way to back down on the reauthorization of an expanded Violence Against Women Act."

Boehner's puppet head of the Rules Committee, Pete Sessions, ruled on Monday evening that if the GOP version fails-- it will-- the House votes on the Senate version, the version every Democrat and dozens of Republicans will support. Another huge rip in the poor shredded Hastert Rule.
Here’s how Democrats expect it to play out.

After the House finishes debating the GOP-version of the bill on Wednesday and Thursday, it will get a vote, but will fail to muster enough votes for passage due to conservative and Democratic opposition. So the Senate-passed bill will get a vote instead, and Democrats as well as a faction of more moderate Republicans will carry it to victory. Then it will go straight to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

“[Rules Committee Chairman] Pete Sessions laid it out in not so many words that this is what the majority’s plan is,” a House Democratic aide said Tuesday evening. “They’re anticipating that their version gets voted down. But it’s clear the Senate bill will pass with flying colors.”

A House Republican leadership aide didn’t dispute this characterization, but said that after the Rules Committee meeting Tuesday, the House “is still expected to take up a strong Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization later this week.”

After months of holding firm, Democrats are anticipating victory.

“We are on the cusp of a huge victory for every single woman who has been told over the past 16 months that they didn’t deserve VAWA protections,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) told TPM in a statement Tuesday night. “I applaud those moderate Republicans in the House who are ready to put politics aside and help us get this over the finish line. I know that the broad coalition of women and advocates who I’ve worked with over the course of this long effort have their fingers crossed and will be watching closely.”

The House Democratic aide piled on.

“This is the third time in the last two months that John Boehner has tried so hard to appease the crazy wing of his party, and it’s the third time that he’s failed to do it,” said the aide, referring to votes to avoid the fiscal cliff and to provide Hurricane Sandy relief, which passed with mostly Democratic support. “There’s no bridge that he can construct between what the tea party caucus wants in Congress and what the rest of his partners in government are open to doing.”
So this morning they voted, first on the GOP fake version and then on the actual Senate bill. Their own crazy thing failed 166-257, only 2 old school, right-wing, misogynistic Democrats (Lipinski and McIntyre) voted with the GOP on it. 60 Republicans voted with the Democratic leadership against it. (Boehner didn't vote.) Immediately afterwards, they voted on the Senate bill and it passed overwhelmingly 286-138. All 138 votes favoring violence against women were Republicans, of course, but 87 Republicans voted with the Democrats-- Boehner's biggest defeat so far. Almost every Republican in a vulnerable district voted with the Democrats-- even the most senior GOP leaders who have been given free reelection passes by DCCC head Steve Israel-- like Paul Ryan (R-WI), Buck McKeon (R-CA), Fred Upton (R-MI), Dave Camp (R-MI), Ed Royce (R-CA), John Kline (R-MN), Greg Walden (R-OR), Mike Rogers (R-MI), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Chief Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). No, they're not suddenly liberal; they just afraid-- unlike the crackpots (mostly from the South) who were proud to let their freak flags in their War On Women fly.

El Presidente: "I was pleased to see the House of Representatives come together and vote to reauthorize and strengthen the Violence Against Women Act. Over more than two decades, this law has saved countless lives and transformed the way we treat victims of abuse. Today’s vote will go even further by continuing to reduce domestic violence, improving how we treat victims of rape, and extending protections to Native American women and members of the LGBT community. The bill also reauthorizes the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, providing critical support for both international and domestic victims of trafficking and helping ensure traffickers are brought to justice. I want to thank leaders from both parties-- especially Leader Pelosi, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Senator Leahy-- for everything they’ve done to make this happen. Renewing this bill is an important step towards making sure no one in America is forced to live in fear, and I look forward to signing it into law as soon as it hits my desk."

Labels: , , ,

U.K. By-election In Eastleigh Today


In the middle of England's south coast is Hampshire and in the middle of Hampshire's south coast, just east of Southampton is Eastleigh, where today's by-election for Parliament is being decided. Affluent, it was a traditionally Conservative Party bastion from the time it was created in 1955 until 1994 when they turned to the Lib-Dems, who have represented it in Parliament ever since. The latest Member, Chris Huhne, has been a very senior Lib-Dem politico and the coalition Conservative/Lib-Dem government's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change-- until he was forced to resign as a Member of Parliament for, basically, trying to avoid a traffic ticket for speeding (10 years ago) and then lying about it. The Liberal Democrats have said Huhne intends to voluntarily remove himself from the Privy Council, meaning he will lose his "Right Honourable" title. And that brings us to today's election to fill his seat.

In the 2010 General Election, Huhne had been reelected with 46.5%, a healthy increase at Labour's expense. Maria Hutchings represented the Conservatives (as she is again today) and came in second with 39.3%. In 2010 Labour was pulverized and wound up in third place with a measly 9.6% (down from 20.6 in the previous general election). They hope to do better today. But so do 13 other candidates, from a bizarre range of parties from the Wessex Regionalist Party, the Elvis Loves Pets Party, the Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party, and the Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party to the neo-fascist UK Independence Party, which has no Mexicans to scapegoat so is rousing the rabble with tales of Bulgarian and Romanian hordes sweeping over Britain.
Humiliating their coalition partners is the wet dream of the Conservatives these days but today's by-election isn't the venue where that's likely to happen. Under fire from all sides because of his dismally failed Austerity agenda, which he says he's doubling down on, (and for bucking his own party on marriage equality for gays), David Cameron looks like the man with the most to lose.

Eastleigh is one of the Conservatives’ target seats, one of the constituencies the party believes it must win to secure a majority at the next general election. They are fighting to take the seat from the Liberal Democrats. The outgoing Lib Dem MP has admitted to a criminal offence and given up his seat. The Lib Dem leadership is drowning in reports that senior figures turned a blind eye to a sex pest in their ranks. The Lib Dems have been the biggest losers from Coalition, shedding many of their natural Left-leaning voters since getting into bed with the Conservatives.

Yet for all that, the Tories still show the signs of a party facing defeat. Indeed, No 10 seems to have started to writing its script for a loss: MPs are being told that any Conservative defeat would be down to a strong Ukip performance, the Ukippers picking up anti-Tory votes from the Lib Dems and Labour. Don’t be surprised if Tory high command tries to offer the troops a strategic silver lining in the tactical cloud, arguing that Eastleigh could ultimately help the Tories see off the Ukip threat in 2015. This proves that a vote for Ukip only costs the Tories seats, they’ll tell disaffected Conservatives flirting with Farage’s mob.

And no doubt the performance of Ukip (and Labour, come to that) will be an interesting part of the post mortem examination in Eastleigh. But it will be a secondary issue. If the Lib Dems do hold the seat, the single, central, inexorable and dreadful fact will be this: a Conservative loss in a seat the party could and indeed must win, in remarkably favourable circumstances.
The BBC posed a series of questions from locals to all 14 candidates in the race. This one seems relevant to anyone anywhere: "I've seen a lot of negative campaigning, which is one of the things that disengages people from politics. What are your core values and the positive reasons why I should vote for you?"

Colin Bex-- Wessex Regionalists: "Wessex Regionalists are campaigning for bottom-up, proportionally representative local government with sovereign power vested in the parish councils, county councils accountable to the parishes, and a Wessex regional assembly accountable to both. This would replace top-down diktat from Westminster and Brussels and would unite the currently divided British kingdom by unity through diversity."

David Bishop-- Elvis Loves Pets Party: "Core values include getting vets fees down, banning air guns and having a Benny Hill statue in Eastleigh."

Jim Duggan-- Peace Party: "We agree that negativity can cause disengagement in politics and we therefore aim to bring a positive message of peace into the arena. Our core values are, in a nutshell, peace, justice, sustainable environmental policies and most importantly treating others as we wish them to treat us-- with love and compassion."

Ray Hall-- Beer, Baccy and Crumpet Party: "I am particularly concerned about the closure of public houses. If there is a reduction in excise duty on draught beer, the ordinary working guy can enjoy his beer, the barman can keep his job, the publican can keep his business and the government can keep the duty from all the other drinks. It's a win win win win."

Howling Laud Hope-- Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party: "Vote for us because we have seen it all before, heard it all before and we still don't believe it. Don't vote for the Tories, Labour of the Liberals-- vote for the really loony party this time. Vote for insanity; you know it makes sense."

Maria Hutchings-- Conservative: "I would be a strong local champion for the people of Eastleigh. But a vote for me would also be a vote for David Cameron's clear plan to fix Britain by cutting taxes on hard-working families, making our welfare system fairer, controlling immigration and standing up for Britain in Europe."

Diane James-- UK Independence Party: "A vote for UKIP is a vote for a positive vision for Britain. It's a vote for self government, a vote for real power being given to residents of local areas and a vote against uncontrolled immigration which is having a severe effect on local communities in housing, schools, housing and transport. It's a vote for putting British people first."

Dr Iain MacLennan-- National Health Action Party: "My core values are openness, honesty, integrity and rebuilding true democracy. I would vote in Parliament according to my conscience and the wishes of constituents insofar as they are the interests of the whole community. I have worked as a doctor for more than 30 years. I am used to listening to people's problems and acting as their trusted advocate."

Kevin Milburn-- Christian Party "Proclaiming Christ's Lordship": "The Christian Party does not campaign negatively; it offers an ear and a voice for the people. It stands for sound moral values; strong families; healthy children; individual freedom within the law; educational and training opportunities; self-sufficiency in energy supplies; buoyant economy; safe environment; strong national defence; referendum on Europe and a United Kingdom."

John O'Farrell-- Labour: "I've met hundreds of residents who are finding things tough, with living standards squeezed and prices rising. I've set out a positive alternative to the Tories and Lib Dems, for example reinstating the 10p tax rate and campaigning for investment in the road and bridge to open up the River Side site north of the airport for thousands of jobs."

Darren Procter-- Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: "I too have felt disengaged and that is why the working class of Eastleigh should vote for a worker on a workers wage, rather than a career politician jumping on the gravy train. Working class values need to be reinstated with people who understand the needs of the community. I am that person to fight cuts and sleaze."

Danny Stupple-- Independent: "Working as a dispute-resolution expert in the construction industry for 28 years has given me the understanding and skills to help resolve the major issues we have surrounding new housing in our borough. I hope that my years of commitment to this area show who I am and what I can offer in education, community work and in supporting family life."

Mike Thornton-- Liberal Democrats: "I believe in creating a stronger economy and a fairer society so everyone can get on in life. I've lived in the area for 20 years and a vote for me would be a vote for a hard-working local MP who will protect green spaces, deliver tax cuts for ordinary workers and bring jobs and investment to the area."

Michael Walters-- The English Democrats-- "Putting England First!": "My core values are based on my Christian faith and a liberal background. My attitude is let's solve problems not create them and tell the truth even if it hurts."
Labour hopes to nationalize the election by hitting the Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition's unpopular and failed economic policies (Austerity).

Speaking in support of his party's candidate John O'Farrell, Mr Miliband said Labour would reintroduce a 10p tax rate paid for by a "mansion tax."

...Labour wants a mansion tax on £2m properties and for the proceeds of the levy to be used to re-introduce a 10p rate of tax.

Mr Miliband said: "The people of Eastleigh know that John O'Farrell, if elected on 28 February, will... represent change. They know he'll fight the government.

"They know he'll support a mansion tax and the return of the 10p tax rate.

"They know that the choice they face on 28 February is between two candidates from the government and a One Nation Labour candidate in John O' Farrell who, if elected, will support real change."

But a Downing Street spokesman called the mansion tax a "stunning admission of economic incompetence."

"The losers from Labour's 10p tax fiasco have become winners under this government," he added.
The most recent national polling shows Cameron in even worse shape than U.S. Republicans, and for many of the same reasons. Labour now has a stunning 14 point lead over the Conservatives. If the elections were held today, Labour would score 41%, the Conservatives would come in with 29% and their partners the Lib-Dems would get 13%. The neo-fascist UKIP has taken some of the anti-gay bigots away from the Conservatives and are polling 9%. If they do better than expected today and even manage to edge the Conservatives out of second place, as the bookmakers are predicting today, it will be looked at as a disaster for Cameron personally. Polls close at 10pm tonight (GMT).

UPDATE: Cameron The Big Loser

As expected the Lib-Dems won (13,342 votes) and the Conservatives didn't beat them despite the horrible news for the LibDems all month. Instead the Conservatives came in third (10,559) behind the anti-Bulgarian party, UKIP (11,571). Labour did about what was expected in this very primitivist southern constituency (4,088 votes).

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Among its other infamies, the filibuster is blatantly unconstitutional" (Hendrik Hertzberg)


"The filibuster historically has been used selectively for a handful of issues to extend debate, but we don't have a sixty-vote rule. And yet, that's become common practice. And this is just the latest example."
-- President Obama, last week, on the GOP filibuster that
prevented a vote on the Hagel SecDef nomination

"Among its other infamies, the filibuster is blatantly unconstitutional. There's really no room for doubt on this."
-- Hendrik Hertzberg, in the blogpost
"The Filibuster: Obama Lets It All Hangout"

by Ken

Last night, in writing about Texas Sen. "Crazy Ted" Cruz's proud self-declaration as a dimwit, scumbag, and liar, I referred more casually than I would have wished to his joining in "the congressional Republican labor of overthrowing the government, at least in its constitutional form." And I realized that I hadn't gotten around to writing about a point that The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg made in a blogpost last week, an amplification of his Comment piece in the February 25 issue, "State of the (G.O.P.) Union."

He had concluded that piece:
What still holds the [Republican] Party together is its implacable opposition to Obama and all he stands for -- and the apparent willingness of its congressional cohort to thwart him by any means, fair or (more often) foul. At the emotional climax of his address, the President repeatedly called on Congress to bring his gun-control proposals to a vote. He wasn't even asking that they be passed. ("If you want to vote no, that's your choice.") He was simply asking -- demanding? begging? -- that they at least be considered in what was once, with very rare exceptions, the customary manner. He was also preparing the public for the likelihood that the gun-control proposals -- and, by extension, the rest of his legislative recommendations -- will be gutted or simply buried. In the Senate, the Republican minority wields the filibuster with unprecedented frequency and ferocity. At the other end of the Capitol, the Republican Speaker almost always keeps from the floor any measure disfavored by a majority of his caucus, even if a majority of the House itself supports it. Last Thursday, Republicans prevented a vote on the confirmation of Obama's nominee to oversee the Pentagon, the war hero and former Republican senator Chuck Hagel, and the President finally made his frustration explicit. "We've never had a Secretary of Defense filibustered before. There's nothing in the Constitution that says that somebody should get sixty votes," he said. "The Republican minority in the Senate seems to think that the rule now is that you have to have sixty votes for everything. Well, that's not the rule." But it's the power, as naked as Bush in the bathtub and a lot more indecent.
In the subsequent blogpost, "The Filibuster: Obama Lets It All Hangout," he noted that in the "Comment" piece he had quoted "a line or two" from President Obama's comment on the Senate Republican minority's outrageous filibuster of the move to proceed with the nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense, and ventured that "his entire answer is worth a look, and offered a transcription by a New Yorker staffer. You can read the whole thing onsite, I'm just going to quote the portion that most directly engaged Hendrik:
The notion that we would see an unprecedented filibuster, just about unprecedented -- we've never had a Secretary of Defense filibustered before. There's nothing in the Constitution that says that somebody should get sixty votes. There are only a handful of instances in which there's been any kind of filibuster of anybody for a cabinet position in our history. And what seems to be happening -- and this has been growing over time -- is that the Republican minority in the Senate seems to think that the rule now is that you have to have sixty votes for everything. Well, that's not the rule. The rule is that you're supposed to have a majority of the hundred senators vote on most bills. The filibuster historically has been used selectively for a handful of issues to extend debate, but we don't have a sixty-vote rule. And yet, that's become common practice. And this is just the latest example. We've seen it on judges. We've seen it on Deputy Treasury Secretaries. And part of what's happening is it's become more and more difficult for people to join our government.
The boldfacing, by the way, is Hendrik's. He writes: "I'm especially glad to hear our constitutional-law professor of a President make the first point I've bolded above." Aha, clearly the president touched a nerve here!
Among its other infamies, the filibuster is blatantly unconstitutional. There's really no room for doubt on this. The framers quite consciously rejected the idea of requiring congressional supermajorities for any purposes beyond the five they specifically enumerated: in the House, for impeaching the President; in the Senate, for ratifying treaties; in both, for expelling members, overriding a Presidential veto, and amending the Constitution.

The Federalist Papers are absolutely clear on the question of requiring more than a simple majority for any other congressional business. It's a lousy idea, Hamilton thought. Why? Because, he writes in Federalist No. 22,
its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority.
An insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto: not a bad description of the Senate Republican caucus in the era of Inhofe and Cruz -- except, unfortunately, for the "insignificant" part.

In No. 58, Madison was on the same page:
In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule: the power would be transferred to the minority.
It doesn't matter if you're an "original intent" guy, a "living Constitution" gal, or a "plain language" purist: routine supermajorities are a big fat no-no.


Says Hendrik, "[T]he President may (or may not) have gotten it a little wrong in the other sentence I bolded. It depends on what he meant by 'you're supposed to have a majority of the hundred senators vote on most bills.'
If he meant that the Senate (and the House) can't vote on a bill unless at least half the members are in the room (Article I, Section 5: "a Majority of each [house] shall constitute a Quorum to do Business"), then he got it right. But if he meant that, under the Constitution, the Senate can't pass a bill unless a majority of the entire membership, fifty-one Senators, vote for it, then he, well, misspoke.
Our Hendrik isn't finished with the quorum clause, though. It is, he says,
the nail in the filibuster's Constitutional coffin. In today's Senate, a quorum "to do Business" is fifty-one Senators. If voting on a bill is Business, as it obviously is, then voting to end debate on that bill and proceed to a vote on the bill itself is Business, too. If fifty-one Senators are present to vote on a measure, then all it takes to pass it is for twenty-six of the fifty-one to vote for it.

Senate Rule XXII, which purports to require a minimum of sixty Senators to vote not just on ending a filibuster but for ending one, is worse than unconstitutional. It is a grotesque logical absurdity, an offense to human reason.
Strong stuff. "Worse than unconstitutional." "A grotesque logical absurdity." "An offense to human reason." And there you have it, ladies and gents: your Republican Party, A.D. 2013.

And it sure seems like they couldn't be prouder.

Labels: , , ,

Miss McConnell In A Tizzy


Neither of these China suck-ups is Chinese

Miss McConnell, who was booted out of the Army after just one week for fondling a private enlisted man's private parts, has some kind of a Republican "marriage" to former Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. This kind of stuff isn't allowed to be written about in the Village. Outré, outré, outré... so outré. It's like when people used to talk about Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley having a hankering for teenaged boys or Idaho Republican Senator Larry Craig enjoying himself regularly in public toilets. "How dare you!" the Villagers would bellow. "How dare you!" No, not at Foley or Craig... at anyone who wrote about it. It's just not how we do things... in the Village. No doubt! But we call the old pervert from Kentucky Miss McConnell anyway. Enjoy it... or ignore it.

May 20 is my sister's birthday. I think it was a 2007 post on May 20 when we first started looking seriously into Miss McConnell getting wealthy from his business dealings with Red China. It was the first of many.
Yesterday during a live blog session with Kentucky activists about Tuesday's gubernatorial primary, there was a brief conversation about how the Bush Regime's chief Senate obstructionist Mitch McConnell is a closet queen. Cliff Schecter pointed out, perhaps facetiously, that McConnell sometimes emerges from the closet to do business with his Chinese communist partners. "A review of financial assets held over the past six years by Elaine L. Chao and her husband, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, reveals that the labor secretary-designate serves as director of an insurance company that jointly owns a Lippo Group subsidiary with the Chinese government... McConnell, has received steady campaign contributions during his years in the Senate from Lippo partner American International Group Inc., and its chairman, Maurice 'Hank' Greenberg."

McConnell "is China's biggest Republican booster in the Senate, fighting to liberalize trade with Beijing."

The Post story claims that "dead pets and melamine-tainted food notwithstanding, change will prove difficult, policy experts say, in large part because U.S. companies have become so dependent on the Chinese economy that tighter rules on imports stand to harm the U.S. economy, too." There is no mention of Mitch McConnell and the agenda he and his "wife," U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, have pushed, quite relentlessly, an agenda that has helped to make them enormously wealthy and powerful... at the expense of some dead dogs and cats and some people getting sick. The Post claims that so many U.S. companies are involved with China now that there is little that can be done about it. That's how McConnell and Chao planned it.
Trading with the largely unregulated Chinese marketplace has its risks, of course, as evidenced by the many lawsuits that U.S. pet food companies now face from angry consumers who say their pets were poisoned by tainted Chinese ingredients. Until recently, however, many companies and even the federal government reckoned that, on average, those risks were worth taking. And for some products they have had little choice, as China has driven competitors out of business with its rock-bottom prices.

China's less-than-stellar behavior as a food exporter is revealed in stomach-turning detail in FDA "refusal reports" filed by U.S. inspectors: Juices and fruits rejected as "filthy." Prunes tinted with chemical dyes not approved for human consumption. Frozen breaded shrimp preserved with nitrofuran, an antibacterial that can cause cancer. Swordfish rejected as "poisonous."
The always cynical and self-serving McConnell was key in rejecting a bill that would have allowed senior citizens to purchase inexpensive Canadian drugs because, he claimed, the U.S. couldn't guarantee their safety. When someone brings up the safety of Chinese products to McConnell he turns into a veritable dragon lady, screaming and hissing and cursing about "Free Trade."

McConnell, Chao and the Bush Regime are literally allowing their partners in Communist China to poison the American public. "So pervasive is the U.S. hunger for cheap imports, experts said, that the executive branch itself has repeatedly rebuffed proposals by agency scientists to impose even modest new safety rules for foreign foods. 'Sometimes guidances can get through, but not regulations,' said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. Guidances, which the FDA defines as 'current thinking on a particular subject,' are not binding. Under the Bush administration in particular, DeWaal said, if a proposed regulation does get past agency or department heads, it hits the wall at the White House Office of Management and Budget."
Yesterday the Villagers were all up in arms because someone at ProgressKentucky, a state good government PAC, tweeted something inartfully about Elaine Chao being Chinese (which she is). "Liberal" Villagers like nothing more than pinning the racism tag on progressives. There was inartfulness but no racism, none. Zero. ProgressKentucky is doing yeoman's work against McConnell's reelection but the Villagers want a pound of flesh now for the outrage, the outré, outré, outré. This was the PAC's first spirited defense yesterday:
Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, has accused Progress Kentucky of race-baiting by retweeting a Twitter message that mentioned McConnell’s wife’s nationality.

“Progress Kentucky strongly denies that the organization has engaged in any such thing,” said Shawn Reilly, executive director of Progress Kentucky. “Benton’s statements are an attempt to divert attention from the fact that Mitch McConnell has engaged in the selling of the American middle class overseas for decades.”

Here are the facts:

In 1997, McConnell pushed for trade relations favorable to China resulting in American jobs going overseas. McConnell and his father-in-law James S.C. Chao, who is president of Foremost Maritime Corporation, met “privately with Chinese officials, including Jiang Zemin, then general secretary of the Communist Party of China. (Chao’s father and Jiang were schoolmates in China.),” according to the Herald-Leader.

On November 9, 2006, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao formally thanked Chao in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, for his role in developing the Chinese shipbuilding industry "at a rapid pace."

In January 2013, the Courier-Journal reported that eight members of the Chao’s family each gave $10,000 to the Kentucky Republican Party in the final weeks of 2012.

“When the Premier of China publicly thanks an industrialist for his role in developing Chinese industry, then that industrialist and his family contribute $80,000 to the Kentucky Republican Party, it is fair to question whether McConnell is selling out the middle class of America,” said Reilly.

Personally, James S. C. Chao has contributed $15,500 to Mitch McConnell's campaigns, $30,000 to the Kentucky Republican Party, and $17,500 to the Republican National Committee.

   Senator Mitch McConnell has a conflict of interest that many are afraid to talk about, and Progress Kentucky is not.
That isn't what the Villagers define as a pound of flesh. It just pissed them off even more. Pissed, pissed, pissed. Yesterday ended with another press release from ProgressKentucky, the apology the Villagers demanded-- but won't ever be satisfied with:
Progress Kentucky is dedicated to ensuring the people of Kentucky have the kind of representation in the US Senate they deserve. In an effort to educate KY voters as to the varied interests of Sen. McConnell we provided information about connections between the senator and business and government interests in China. This information included an inappropriate comment on the ethnicity of the former Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, the senator’s wife.

We apologize to the secretary for that unnecessary comment and have deleted the tweets in question. In addition, we have put a review process in place to ensure tweets and other social media communications from Progress KY are reviewed and approved prior to posting.

Senator McConnell’s record deserves a thorough and legitimate airing. We believe that after fair examination of it Kentuckians will agree that Senator McConnell has been wrong over and over on the issues that matter. We will continue to inform Kentucky voters the important issues at stake in this election.

Here's a self-aggrandizing clown who hasn't bothered to find out what really happened. I don't follow him but it was retweeted by the NRSC, which is how I did see it:

Labels: , , , ,

Both Sides Now



The last time I ever saw my mom I had come to New York after visiting Joni Mitchell in the studio where she was recording a new version of her 1967 masterpiece "Both Sides Now." She and Herbie Hancock played me the nearly finished track and I was blown away by it. Joni had been one of my mother's favorite artists since the 1960s and I knew she loved this song. I knew she would love this version and I felt it was a very appropriate song to listen to when transitioning from this life to the next. Joni made me a CD and I brought it to my mother's hospital room. It brought some joy and solace to her last days. That's the good, warm feeling I have about "both sides."

The other feeling is neither warm nor good and it has to do with Establishment elites blaming both sides for the country's problems. NY Times in-house GOP apologist David Brooks wrote one of his excruciating a pox on both your houses columns last week trying to make a case that Obama is as guilty as the Republican nihilists trying to wreck the government to create more DC gridlock. Well, he could be right... if Obama just gave in to all the Republican demands, there would be no gridlock. As economist and author David Korten put it on Twitter yesterday, the congressional Republican version of crisis management is to create a crisis and blame it on Obama.

We've long warned people about Republican opportunists running for office as "Democrats" and Florida freshman Patrick Murphy, a spoiled rich kid and lifelong Republican who managed to beat-- albeit barely-- war criminal Allen West in November, has already been helping prove us right. He's bonded with right-wing crackpot Robert Pittinger (R-NC) and the two sent out a poorly-written letter to every freshman urging them to sign onto a "bipartisan" effort that further pushes forward the Republican Party agenda at the expense of working families. Murphy was remarkably unsuccessful in finding many Democrats foolish enough to fall for this siren song of collaborationists but, of course, over 20 Republicans were happy to-- including noted bipartisans like domestic terrorist Steve Stockman (R-TX), Hate Talk Radio host Trey Radel (R-FL) and various sociopaths, like Ted Yoho (R-FL), who say they want to impeach President Obama. Of course, Pete Gallego, the only Blue Dog in the freshman class, signed on as well... as did several of the new New Dems.

With the political demise of the Blue Dogs, the New Dems are the corporate cat's paw inside the House Democratic Caucus. And they are, conveniently and opportunistically, the ultimate "blame both sides" band of sell-outs, creeps who use working class voters to help them move corporate agendas. Yesterday their p.r. person got them a lovely and nicely transcribed spread in one of the DC trade rags. It's all about how the New Dems Coalition has "high hopes that it will seize the political power that’s largely eluded the group." The Hill misses the whole point when it describes them as "an odd band featuring lawmakers from both the conservative Blue Dog Coalition and the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus." I know they're not going to use a more accurate term like "corporate shills" or "Big Business whores" but lets be a little more accurate in describing who they really are-- essentially an odd band of economic conservatives, some of whom are also social conservatives and some of whom aren't. There are only two members of the Progressive Caucus among the New Dems, Jared Polis and Jim Moran, who are primarily committed to a progressive social agenda. There are 6 outright Blue Dogs, one Blue Dog who just quit (Adam Schiff) because his new district is too progressive and a whole bunch who are Blue Dogs in all but name, like Bill Owens and Rick Larsen. According to the Progressive Punch crucial vote scores so far this year, New Dem leaders Ron Kind (37.50) and Allyson Schwartz (42.86) are clocking in with more conservative voting records than half a dozen Republicans.

Kind calls his coalition "pragmatists" and hopes to create for himself the role of "a power broker." Monday, Gaius Publius had an excellent breakdown of the various letters circulating Congress about how to deal with the budget deficit.
Two letters oppose cuts, and one supports them. A letter opposing cuts from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) has 107 signatures. Another letter opposing cuts from Alan Grayson and Mark Takano has 21 signatures. And a letter by pretend-Democrat Patrick Murphy has far more Republican signatures than Democratic ones, and it supports cuts. Shame on him.

Nevertheless, you would think 107 Democrats voting No to cuts could kill a deal with cuts in it, wouldn’t you? You would be wrong-- note the difference in the first two letters. Key phrases:

CPC letter: “We write to affirm our vigorous opposition to cutting Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits in any final bill to replace sequestration. … we remain deeply opposed to proposals to reduce Social Security benefits through use of the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living adjustments.”

Grayson-Takano letter: “We write to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits-- including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

See the difference? The CPC letter “affirms opposition”; Grayson and Takano promise to vote No. Yep, the Progressive Statement Caucus is at it again. Too bad their fine statement isn’t as fine as the Grayson-Takano statement. Too bad the Progressive Statement Caucus doesn’t promise action.

To be fair, several of the signers of the CPC letter have also signed Grayson-Takano, including CPC leaders Keith Ellison and Raul Grijalva. Still, the gap between the two letters is noticeable, and the huge difference in signatures-- 107 for the We-Oppose letter, just 21 for the We-Vote-No letter-- is telling.
Of course, not one New Dem signed the Grayson-Takano letter. Of the 11 Democrats who signed onto Patrick Murphy's "We're fine with cuts" letter-from-the-freshmen-- most of the signatories were very right-wing Republicans-- there were 4 New Dems, Ami Bera (CA), Joe Garcia (FL), Patrick Murphy (FL), and Scott Peters (CA). Millionaires Scott Peters and Patrick Murphy also sent out fundraising letters this week bragging about their willingness to toss working families under the bus. Peters, who replaced Republican Brian Bilbray, starts his missive out sounding like a normal Democrat: "The nation faces the prospect of devastating across-the-board spending cuts, known as the 'sequester,' if we don’t come up with a better plan in Washington, DC by this week. I’d love to be writing to tell you that we have come to an agreement, but-- amazingly-- the Speaker sent Congress home for the past week. As important as it is for me to be spending time with the people I represent, and as much as I love being in San Diego, this week Congress should have been in Washington hammering out a smart spending plan that protects jobs and sets us on a path toward a balanced budget... I am proud to be a Democrat and will continue to fight for the principles to which my party is committed. But..."

Yes, "but." Proud to be a Democrat, will fight, principles... but. But what? Here it comes:
But I know that we need to work with members of both parties to find solutions, and I have tried to do just that, by supporting No Budget, No Pay, by joining the bipartisan reform group No Labels, and by helping to form the freshman class’ United Solutions Caucus.
Murphy also explained the United Solutions Caucus: "As you may know, I have joined with Rep. Robert Pittenger (NC) to form the Congressional United Solutions Caucus for the 113th Congress. And I wanted to write to invite you to join this caucus. This member organization is for freshman members who are dedicated to working together to find common ground and sustainable solutions to the fiscal issues facing our nation and educating other Members on the importance of bipartisanship and fiscal responsibility. Last week, Rep. Pittenger and I led a bipartisan group of 36 freshman members in sending a statement of principles to President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Leader Pelosi urging our leaders to 'go big' with their solutions and to find bipartisan, long-term solutions to our nation's fiscal issues." Who helped elect Murphy? If you did, maybe you should remind him of what David Korten tweeted-- "the congressional Republican version of crisis management is to create a crisis and blame it on Obama"-- because he just doesn't get it. He gets this instead-- simpleminded, self-serving rhetoric for audiences back home. Fortunately, most Americans have a better grasp on what's up than these clowns do:

The great progressive strides that have made the U.S. great haven't been made by giving in to conservatives-- none of them. If it were up to the compromisers, we'd still have slavery, the monopolists would be running the country, there would be no 8 hour work week, no minimum wage, no weekends, no Social Security, no Medicare, no right of women to vote. The conservatives didn't give any of this up because they liked hanging out with some naive faux-liberals. These are dangerous Democrats is this video above. I'm embarrassed to say I know and have supported a couple of them-- not a mistake I'll be making again. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has more experience than all these clowns together. He agrees with them, though, that the blame game is not the way to solve the budget problem. That's about all he agrees with them on, though. What Democrats, particularly President Obama, should be doing is directly rebutting "the two big lies that fuel the Republican assault-- and that have fueled it since the showdown over the debt ceiling in the summer of 2011."

The first big lie is austerity economics-- the claim that the budget deficit is the nation’s biggest economic problem now, responsible for the anemic recovery.

Wrong. The problem is too few jobs, lousy wages, and slow growth. Cutting the budget deficit anytime soon makes the problem worse because it reduces overall demand. As a result, the economy will slow or fall into recession-- which enlarges the deficit in proportion. You want proof? Look at what austerity economics has done to Europe.

The second big lie is trickle-down economics-- the claim that we get more jobs and growth if corporations and the rich have more money because they’re the job creators, and job growth would be hurt if their taxes were hiked.

Wrong. The real job creators are the broad middle class and everyone who aspires to join it. Their purchases keep economy going.

As inequality continues to widen, and income and wealth become ever more concentrated at the top, the rest don’t have the purchasing power they need to boost the economy. That’s the underlying reason why the recovery continues to be so anemic.

These two lies-- austerity economics and trickle-down economics-- are being told over and over by Republicans and their mouthpieces on Fox News, yell radio, and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal. They are wrong and there are dangerous.

Yet unless they are rebutted clearly and forcefully, the nation will continue to careen from crisis to crisis, showdown to showdown.

And we will have almost no chance of reversing the larger challenge of widening inequality.

Labels: , , , ,