CBO refudiates glibertarian spokesmodel

Don’t suppose this will mean much to the fanbois:

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s initial analysis of the House GOP budget released today by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is filled with nuggets of bad news for Republicans.

In addition to acknowledging that seniors, disabled and elderly people would be hit with much higher out-of-pocket health care costs, the CBO finds that by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.

Under the so-called “extended baseline scenario” — a.k.a. projections based on current law — debt held by the public will grow to 67 percent of GDP by 2022. Under the GOP plan, public debt would reach 70 percent of GDP in the same window.

The first skirmish

There’s a judicial election in Wisconsin tomorrow. A few months ago, Republican incumbent David Prosser was expected to cruise to re-election in a sleepy election, but things done changed:

Little noticed most years, the election of a Wisconsin state Supreme Court judge has become a proxy fight over collective bargaining restrictions approved last month.


Turnout could reach 35 percent this year in a state where 20 percent turnout is typical for a spring election, Lee said.

A few months ago, I would have said that ads like this were over-the-top and unfair.

Now, my attitude towards every Republican who loses in Wisconsin, now matter how nasty the political tactics, is fuck ’em, they set off the alarm, they deserved what they got.

When chickens come home to roost

The next book I’d like to do for our book club is Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”. The thesis is that the Chicago-style economic right has continually used crises all over the world as a pretext to institute radical free market “reforms”; Chile under Pincochet and Russia under Yeltsin are used as examples.

Right now, the United States is going through a recession brought on largely by a burst real estate bubble that was fueled by an extreme anti-regulation “free market” ideology. There is a large federal deficit in no small part because of tax cuts to the wealthy. This pseudo-crisis is being used as a pretext to slash government spending, destroy the so-called safety net, and end collective bargaining.

You’d have a very hard time convincing me that Americans aren’t now facing just the kind of “shock therapy” that our government once exported to the rest of the world. Elia Isquire details the ways in which even the liberal New York Times and New Republic have smeared Klein.

Fake Real Americans

Southern Beale has a good summary of what this means:

[O]ne Nashville-based lobbyist says paid “grassroots” movements are becoming a part of every major civic project.

Southern Beale counts the ways:


• It’s been revealed that many of the “real people” who phone in to talk radio programs are actually paid actors reading from scripts.

• Candidates for office have hired temp workers from staffing agencies to hold campaign signs and look like supporters.

• Corporate sockpuppets working for D.C. lobbyists are given phony titles at made-up front groups, then write op-eds, letters, and even make personal appearances to promote their clients’ viewpoint.

• Political campaigns pay thousands of dollars to promote certain candidates and positions via paid professional blog commenters.

• Campaigns routinely hire ghost writers to pen Letters To The Editor as “real citizens.”

The next step, of course, is fake threats from your opponents. I’m not usually one to speculate but this doesn’t real to me.

Wishing and hoping

Ezra Klein thinks that Republicans will shut down the government:

April 8th. That’s the deadline for Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal on funding for the remainder of 2011. No deal? Then the government shuts down. And if I were a betting man, that’s where my money would be right now: the negotiations have become too acrimonious, the issues at their heart too numerous and personal to the parties, to make a deal likely even in normal circumstances. But in circumstances in which newly elected Republicans are trying to prove to their base that they won’t catch Beltway fever and compromise while Democrats are trying to prove they won’t get pushed around by a party that controls a minority of the federal government? A deal seems near impossible.

There’s an old Cedric the Entertainer routine from Kings of Comedy, about how if you’re late for a show, you can either hope that no one is in your seats because you don’t want to have to confront them or you can wish that someone is in your seats so you have the pleasure of kicking them out. He puts a racial spin on it (white people hope, black people wish) that won’t make any sense to you if you’ve ever been around white people in Boston or New York, but it’s an interesting distinction nevertheless.

Democrats have to stop hoping the Republicans don’t do something nuts and start wishing that they would. The most impressive political campaign I’ve ever been around was Eric Massa’s 2008 campaign. The guy is as crazy as a shithouse rat, but anything you brought up as a possible tactic by his opponent, he’d say “I wish he would do X, so I can come back at him with Y”. One of the key points in the race turned out to be an epic, unprovoked on-air bitch slap, to use Josh Marshall’s terminology, that scared his opponent out of participating in debates (which actually turned local conservative media against his opponent).

Maybe that race was special in that it pitted an insane closeted gay sexual harasser (Massa) against an alcoholic shot-gun toting wife abuser (Randy Kuhl), but when it comes to the budget impasse, Democrats should remember that voters are already turned off by Republican overreach. If Republicans shut down the government next week, Democrats can find a way to make them pay politically.

A supposedly funny joke I’ll never tell again

I remember James Carville saying of the Paula Jones suit and how he thought conservatives got her to file it that “Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find”. I thought that was pretty funny and I repeated it every time the Republicans dug someone up to tell some bullshit story. But I’m not repeating it anymore. I used to use phrases like “trailer trash” and “white trash” and I’m not going to do that anymore either.

Part of it was watching that Richard Pryor video about the n-word that ABL put up a few months ago, part of it was realizing, once and for all, that when people outside the top one percent of incomes fight amongst ourselves about this or that silly difference, we’re just doing the work of our Galtian overlords. As commenter kdaug put it:

I think we get trapped into a false paradigm of “right/left”, “Democrat/Republican”, “Christian/Athiest” all the time. And I think it’s deliberate, propagated by the people who own the media and broadcast it.

The real paradigm: rich/poor.

And it’s always been the paradigm. In all cultures, in all countries, throughout history.

I’m still going to call teahadists every name under the sun as they are truly the unpaid Pinkerton goons or of our era.

‘Nuclear Samurai’

Poetic name, which I don’t think I’ve seen referenced by the American media. Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian on “The truth about the ‘Nuclear Samurai’“:

To a world that doesn’t know him, Shingo Kanno is one of the “nuclear samurai” – a selfless hero trying to save his country from a holocaust; to his family, Kanno is a new father whose life is in peril just because he wanted to earn some money on the side doing menial labour at the Fukushima nuclear plant. A tobacco farmer, Kanno had no business being anywhere near a nuclear reactor – let alone in a situation as serious as the one that has unfolded after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami in Japan…
Shingo Kanno, who had been hired to do construction work, was released from his duties at Fukushima soon after the declaration of a nuclear emergency. As the crisis at the plant worsened, and the Japanese government widened the evacuation zone, he moved his wife and his infant daughter to his in-laws, where they would be safer.
He also helped evacuate his extended family from their home town of Minamisoma, which is within the 30km exclusion zone, to the sports centre and other shelters. Then, his relatives say, Kanno got a call from the plant asking him to go back to work.
His whole family took turns getting on the phone to tell him not to go. They reminded him that he was a farmer, not a nuclear engineer, that he did not have the skills for such a sophisticated crisis. They said he should think of his responsibilities to his parents and his baby daughter…
But on Friday Shingo Kanno went back anyway. The family have not heard from him since.

And here’s another, contemporaneous story from Justin McCurry at the Guardian:

According to documents from Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the company repeatedly missed safety checks over a 10-year period up to two weeks before the 11 March disaster, and allowed uranium fuel rods to pile up inside the 40-year-old facility.
When the plant was struck by a huge earthquake and tsunami, its reactors, designed by US scientists 50 years ago, contained the equivalent of almost six years of highly radioactive uranium fuel produced by the facility, according to a presentation Tepco gave to the International Atomic Energy Agency and later posted on the company’s website.
The revelations will add to pressure on Tepco to explain why, under its cost-cutting chief executive Masataka Shimizu, it opted to save money by storing the spent fuel on site rather than invest in safer storage options.