Repubs’ Job: Making Sure YOU Don’t Have One


(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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Our political teams have also been busy this weekend, so here’s some links to tide you over between the Sports thread and the Dr. Who thread. Greg Sargent at the WaPo on “The Big Disconnect“:

Okay, we now have a fourth national poll revealing this striking disconnect: Americans strongly disapprove of Obama on the economy, and are deeply pessimistic that it will get any better — even as they strongly approve of the actual fiscal policies the President is championing.
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The new New York Times poll finds that Obama’s numbers on the economy are awful. Only 34 percent approve of his handling of the economy. Only 40 percent approve of his handling of jobs. Seventy two percent think the country’s on the wrong track. A plurality thinks we’re heading into another recession. But the poll also finds that Obama’s new jobs plan, and the provisions within it, have clear public support…
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What we’re seeing here, again, is more evidence that Republicans benefit from blocking policies Americans support. As long as the economy remains abysmal, the public is likely to strongly disapprove of Obama’s overall performance, even if Republicans are the ones blocking job-creation ideas the public itself thinks will reduce unemployment…
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Is there a way out of this trap? Perhaps. As Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza noted the other day, the fact that the public still gives Obama’s individual policies high marks suggests that despite all the overall disapproval of Obama on the economy and jobs, the public is still prepared to hear him out on the topic. Even if things look very bleak right now, there’s still an opportunity for him win this battle, by getting some actual policies passed — they are popular, after all — or by driving home to the public who’s responsible for goverment paralysis in the face of the crisis.

Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly expands on the Republicans “Picking and Choosing on the American Jobs Act“:

… As David Axelrod put it this week, in reference to members of Congress, “We want them to act now on this package. We’re not in a negotiation to break up the package. It’s not an a la carte menu. It is a strategy to get this country moving.”
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Yesterday, House GOP leaders sketched out a response in a new memo. Wouldn’t you know it, Republicans aren’t inclined to embrace the whole package, as is…
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“Fundamentalists, Cynics, and Sheep”


(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)

Jacob Weisberg, at Slate, on “Republicans vs. Economics“:

… There is no question that the current Republican position is eccentric as a matter of economics. Pick up any standard economics textbook, and it will explain how governments respond to cyclical downturns with temporary deficit spending. In Keynesian terms, boosting aggregate demand increases GDP growth and reduces unemployment. Conversely, cutting government spending during a slowdown tends to make matters worse. There may be circumstances in which temporary spending isn’t possible, or where cutting government spending does not have the typical contractionary effect. But a thorough IMF study conducted last year concluded that “fiscal consolidation” does tend to have the predictable impact: shrinking GDP and raising unemployment…
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You can group the conservatives who reject the economic consensus into three rough categories: fundamentalists, cynics, and sheep. The fundamentalists are ideological and come in several varieties. The more primitive prefer Hoover to Keynes, or in some cases God to Hoover. Rick Perry, the Texas governor and presidential candidate, believes that the purpose of the economic crisis is to bring us back to “Biblical principles.” Asked on the campaign trail how he would create jobs if he were in office, Perry responded: “You won’t have stimulus programs under a Perry presidency. You won’t spend all the money.” This is a pretty good summation of the Tea Party’s know-nothing view that all government spending makes all things worse, always.
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That’s not to say that everyone who rejects Obama’s stimulus spending is a default-welcoming ignoramus. Libertarians or libertarian-leaners don’t necessarily think stimulus won’t grow the economy; they just worry that it will grow the government at the same time and that it won’t ever shrink back. But they don’t mind stimulus tax cuts, which reduce the resources available to government. Rep. Paul Ryan, for instance, the government-slashing chairman of the House budget committee, has argued that stimulus spending is an evanescent sugar high that produces no lasting economic benefit.
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The cynics, by contrast, don’t offer any economic analysis at all. They simply reject whatever President Obama proposes. In the now immortal words of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” McConnell, like Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, happily voted for the stimulus bill George W. Bush proposed in 2008, which cost $152 billion. Back then, they felt some responsibility for the economy. Now it’s Obama’s problem. Mitt Romney knows enough about finance to understand that shrinking spending would raise unemployment. But he also knows that running against Obama with a 9 percent unemployment rate is a better bet than running against Obama with an 8 percent unemployment rate.
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In reality, the economic views of most Republicans are not driven purely by ideology or politics, but by the herd imperative—to stay in line and obey their leaders. Of those who were in Congress in 2008, 85 percent voted in favor of the Bush stimulus bill, which was smaller but no different in principle. To assume that these people have a view about whether Obama’s jobs plan would work gives them far too much credit. The only jobs they think about are their own.



More outrageous union thuggery

We Are Ohio had a booth set up at a local event, so I spent a couple of hours around there yesterday. It was generally low-key and subdued, which I attribute to September 11th, mostly because every single person I spoke to referenced September 11th.

Other than that, just quiet, substantive discussion about the repeal referendum itself and some idle speculation on whether we’ll succeed with the citizen veto.

I did get one gentleman who was honest enough to approach and ask me straight up “what is SB 5?”. He had no idea what all the fuss is about and was willing to admit that. I explained that the law removes collective bargaining rights from public sector employees, and he said “that doesn’t sound good”, and it really doesn’t, particularly when I’m the one describing it.

These are some of the union members who volunteered:

One of the people pictured belongs to a public sector union and the other two belong to private sector unions.

I told them I intended to put their photos up on Balloon Juice. None of them had any idea what that means, of course, so I showed them the site on my phone. They all politely looked, but, really, they still had no idea what I was talking about.

So, I told them Balloon Juice is a political site out of West Virginia run by a person who is, to the best of my knowledge, a short-order cook. They seemed satisfied with that answer.



Detroit to Ohio

Labor Day:

A crowd estimated at 12,000 people lined up along the waterfront to chant “Obama” and “Four more years. The 60 degree temperature with a brisk wind forced most to their keep jackets tightly zipped. Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO led off the Labor Day speeches, saying the union will work to make sure “That we don’t let Michigan become a right to work for less state”.

President Obama previewed his job strategy at a Labor Day rally Monday in nearby Detroit, saying he will propose infrastructure improvements and middle class tax breaks during an address to Congress Thursday. The event, sponsored by the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO took place in the shadow of GM headquarters on the city’s riverfront. Thousands of union members attended.

This is Motown,” said James Hoffa general president of the Teamsters, “but today this is Uniontown.” He named three battlegrounds in what he called the “war on workers.” One of those battlegrounds, he said, is the effort to repeal Senate Bill 5 in Ohio. The Ohio AFL-CIO is seeking a “no” vote on Issue 2 to vote down enactment of the bill, which was passed earlier this year by the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich. The law, which would roll back some collective bargaining rights for public employees, is set for a Nov. 8 ballot referendum.

And with that, back to Ohio, and this:

Labor Day weekend is the traditional start of the campaign session, especially the paid television spots. Today, We Are Ohio announced that they would use the Labor Day weekend to remind people the reason for the season.


Here’s the ad

What do you think?



A Traitor Speaks

A former Republican staffer on the House and Senate budget committees explains how the modern Republican party co-opted low-information white voters who should want to vote for Democrats:

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? – can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. “Entitlement” has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is “entitled” selfishly claims something he doesn’t really deserve. Why not call them “earned benefits,” which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don’t make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the “estate tax,” it is the “death tax.” Heaven forbid that the Walton family should give up one penny of its $86-billion fortune. All of that lucre is necessary to ensure that unions be kept out of Wal-Mart, that women employees not be promoted and that politicians be kept on a short leash.

It was not always thus. It would have been hard to find an uneducated farmer during the depression of the 1890s who did not have a very accurate idea about exactly which economic interests were shafting him. An unemployed worker in a breadline in 1932 would have felt little gratitude to the Rockefellers or the Mellons. But that is not the case in the present economic crisis. After a riot of unbridled greed such as the world has not seen since the conquistadors’ looting expeditions and after an unprecedented broad and rapid transfer of wealth upward by Wall Street and its corporate satellites, where is the popular anger directed, at least as depicted in the media? At “Washington spending” – which has increased primarily to provide unemployment compensation, food stamps and Medicaid to those economically damaged by the previous decade’s corporate saturnalia. Or the popular rage is harmlessly diverted against pseudo-issues: death panels, birtherism, gay marriage, abortion, and so on, none of which stands to dent the corporate bottom line in the slightest.

There’s a lot more in the essay, including a perceptive analysis of Republican authoritarianism, and how de-legitimizing institutions is part of their gameplan. The whole thing is well worth a read. (via James Fallows)



Open Thread: Republican Family Values on Parade

John Cook at Gawker, “Bloomberg Deputy Arrested for Beating His Wife Last Month“:

When Stephen Goldsmith, the former Indianapolis mayor and technocratic guru that Michael Bloomberg hired as his deputy last year, resigned suddenly in August, everyone assumed it was because he failed so miserably during last winter’s blizzard…
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Turns out that four days before his resignation, Goldsmith had been arrested for allegedly beating his wife at their Georgetown home…

Something seemed to be missing here — namely, a prior history of Goldsmith furiously mouthing pieties about family values! ! eleventy-one ! So I decided to check Indiana-based Doghouse Riley and “Ask The Man Who Owned One“:

… Anyway, after becoming an Eagle Scout, like Dick Lugar, graduating from Michigan Law, like Ann Coulter, and landing a six-year gig with the US Army Reserves at the height of the Vietnam War, like Dan Quayle, Goldsmythe started work for a well-connected Indianapolis law firm, and shortly after went to work on the government’s dime as Corporate Counsel, and later chief trial deputy, for the city. He won a surprise victory for Marion County Prosecutor in 1978, thanks to the popular Nixonian law n’ order blather and some fortuitous financing. Goldsmythe spent the next twelve years as Prosecutor, pissing off Bad Guys and carping about Permanent Indianapolis Mayor the Reverend Bill Hudnut, whose job Goldsmythe wanted…
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Goldsmythe, meanwhile, had become a disciple of Government Privatization, on the grounds that this seemed like a good deal for his backers. His antics, which to this point had been only about 10% more disturbing than the run-of-the-mill politician’s in these parts–he had a particular fixation on “cleaning up” massage parlors and adult bookstores, and no apparent concern with Constitutional rights, nor the cost to taxpayers of losing extended court fights over overarching prosecutions–now became, in a word, insufferable. Indianapolis did not undertake Privatization under Stephen Goldsmythe for the sake of economic efficiencies or improvement of services; Indianapolis undertook Privatization because Stephen Goldsmythe was metaphysically correct in his every assumption, and on his way to important political office.

[Emphasis mine.] So, I guess Goldsmith (to understand Riley’s spelling, click over and read the whole post) switched from the Talibangelical wing of the GOP, to the Glibertarian faction. And the police responding to his wife’s plea for assistance were therefore damaging his civil rights by interfering in a private contract dispute between adults, not trespassing against his religious beliefs concerning proper spousal conduct. Sucks to be Mrs. Goldsmith, either way…



This Mess We’re In

This asinine, silly, childish snit and clusterfuck over scheduling of Obama’s speech on jobs shows that John Boehner is a utter dick, or that the Obama administration is hopelessly naive and John Boehner is an utter dick. I guess I’m pretty sure about the dick part, the rest is kind of grey.