Here’s where compromise with the GOP gets you

John Boehner - Caricature

No need for tears

We have a debt crisis. Unemployment is awful. The economy is turning into a dead shark. And Obama is still trying to compromise with the party that spent outrageously and cut taxes for eight years and put us in this mess.

So how is the American public taking this?

President Obama’s job approval rating is at a new low, averaging 40% in July 26-28 Gallup Daily tracking. His prior low rating of 41% occurred several times, the last of which was in April. As recently as June 7, Obama had 50% job approval. …

Obama’s 40% overall approval rating nearly matches the recent 41% approval Americans gave him for handling the debt ceiling negotiations. Though Americans rate Obama poorly for his handling of the situation, they are less approving of how House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are handling it. Gallup does not include ratings of Congress or congressional leaders in its Daily tracking, and thus, there is no overall job approval rating of Boehner, Reid, or Congress directly comparable to Obama’s current 40% overall job approval rating.

Here’s the thing.

Come election day 2012, America might be pissed off at John Boehner, but he only has to answer to the 630,000 people who live in Ohio’s 8th congressional district, an essentially conservative suburban area made up of small towns (it only touches part of Dayton) that’s 90% white. A solidly Republican district. And only about 200,000 of its residents voted for Boehner over his Democratic opponent by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

America might be pissed off at Barack Obama, too, on election day 2012. But he has to answer to the entire country. So if his numbers keep going down, John Boehner will have a better chance of remaining in Washington after the 2012 election than Obama has.

So Obama better be aware the “middle ground” he so desperately wants to plant his flag on can quickly turn into quicksand.

Domestic abuse

Paul Krugman recently wrote about the cult of centrism.

But No More Mr. Nice Blog points out the situation is much worse:

I agree that these people bear a great deal of the responsibility for our plight, but I don’t really think they’re a cult of centrism per se. If Barack Obama had taken office and pursued a genuine left agenda — large tax hikes on the wealthy, nationalization of failing banks, a return to Glass-Steagall, single-payer health care — I can guarantee you that any continued economic weakness wouldn’t be blamed on “everyone.” It would be blamed on liberalism. And the same would go for a debt crisis.

The cult only says that “everyone’s at fault” when Republican extremism is at fault. That’s because the cult’s real problem isn’t a lust for centrism — it’s an aversion to acknowledging that Daddy GOP beats us. It’s the kind of denial that takes place in households where there’s domestic abuse. …

At all times, the system accepts the notion that Republicans are good and decent and well-meaning, even in failure (see, e.g., George W. Bush). At all times, it accepts the notion that what Republicans are advocating is within the pale. If Republican extremism becomes so blatantly obvious that it must be acknowledged, extremism on the other side must be found (or invented, or blown up out of proportion), so Daddy GOP won’t be charged with abuse — the story we agree on is that “everyone” was fighting. And we just go on living that way.

The rise of the scorpion

So after days of arm twisting to get far right members of the Republican caucus to vote for a debt ceiling/spending reduction bill that had absolutely no chance of passing in what we call reality, John Boehner amended his losing bill to make it even more radically right-winged and it passed the house on a party line vote, only to be completely killed by the Senate two hours later.

It was a complete waste of time.

Now, the Republican senators are refusing to support the Senate bill offered by Majority Leader Harry Reid, which shouldn’t matter, because the Democrats are the majority party, but does matter because the GOP will filibuster and not allow anything to pass.

And we are three days from defaulting as a nation.

Meanwhile, the clueless of the world insist on bipartisanship, which I now realize doesn’t mean two sides working together toward a common goal, but means Democrats caving in to the ravings of an opposition party that has lost its mind.

But here’s something else to consider. The Republican actions are done to placate an extreme, unreasonable base. Meanwhile, Democrats continue to go out of their way to draw Republican support, and in the process appear to enjoy going out of their way to piss off a loyal rational base.

Every Democratic action designed to improve our domestic situation has been reviled by the GOP and watered down to attempt to get Republican votes that never will come. As a result, our economy is collapsing, unemployment is rising, and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen. Democrats cut government jobs because Republicans say so. But jobs are jobs, and every cut adds to unemployment, reduces the workforce that provide tax revenue, and leads to an economic shortfall that only widens the deficit. The Democrats reduced a stimulus bill because the Republicans said so, and as a result, the economy has stagnated, because that spending would have added jobs and reduced the unemployment rate. Democrats backed off the efforts to allow tax breaks for the rich to expire because Republicans said so, and as a result people on the top end of the economic spectrum can charter private jets to fly their kids to summer camp or build $200,000 playhouses for their four year old daughters, while people on the other end of the spectrum are barely surviving.

Maybe we shouldn’t be sniping on the venal behavior of the Republicans. One columnist used this analogy: They are the scorpions, while the nation is the frog they’re about to sting. Maybe we need a group Democratic legislators who are as loyal to or as fearful of their base as the Republicans are as loyal to or fearful of theirs. If you keep treating the base with contempt as Democratic leaders are currently doing, that base isn’t going to be around when the next election rolls around. Then, the scorpions win. And we all die.

No room at the asylum

John Boehner

An embarrassed orange

There was supposed to be a vote in the U.S. House by now on the Republican budget/deficit plan. This morning, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Tanning booth) said the vote on his plan would be at 6 p.m. Then the GOP said the vote would take place at 7. It’s now 9:20 and nothing has happened.

Considering the face that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Slot machine) said that Boehner’s plan would be immediately voted down if it got to the Senate, you’d think that the House procedure would be a no brainer … the Republicans pass Boehner’s plan, the Senate rejects it, and then the Republicans get to mouth off on how Democrats want to waste your money and have no concern for the debt the country is in. Seems like a great propaganda opportunity. The Republicans have the majority in the House. This should be over by now. And there’s no reason to stay up all night to find out what happens.

But at this minute, Boehner doesn’t have enough Republican votes to get his own bill passed. Which means he has no control over his delegation. Which shows that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

And Obama wants to reach a compromise with these guys?

Speaking of lunatics:

Michele Bachmann refuses to answer reporters’ questions about her husband’s “gay cure” therapy and declares him and their business off limits to press.

Bachmann (R-Flat Earth) is seeking the GOP nomination, and she’s saying that asking about her family-run business (which tries to “cure” gay people) and asking about her husband (who runs the clinic and tells clients to “pray the gay away”) is out of bounds. Apparently that means asking whether her clinic receives federal funds is also out of bounds. Let’s not even get into the idea of intruding into people’s lives, wasting government money and denying Americans their civil rights.

But Bachmann is making a point that attacks on family members should be out of bounds. Sort of:

But Bachmann has a very different take when it comes to other candidates’ spouses: She’s repeatedly attacked Michelle Obama in the harshest terms and specifically challenged the press to join in on her condemnations….

More recently Bachmann took to Laura Ingraham’s radio show to condemn the First Lady’s initiative to promote breastfeeding as an effort to enact a “nanny state” and said Obama’s agenda was “very consistent with where the hard left is coming from.” Moreover, she mused that the media was failing to address the issue out of a bias towards the White House.

I’m old enough to remember when Republicans were sane. Seems like a lifetime ago.

UPDATE: It’s worse than expected. Boehner didn’t have the votes so they put the vote off at least a day. Instead they voted on whether to rename a post office in Hawaii. The tea baggers really do want to destroy the country.

Richard Milhous Obama

Bruce Bartlett at the Fiscal Times makes the following observation:

There is no question that Barack Obama is one of our most enigmatic presidents. Despite having published two volumes of memoirs before being elected president, we really don’t know that much about what makes him tick. The ongoing debate over the deficit and the debt limit is clarifying what I think he is: a Democratic Richard Nixon. …

… Here are a few examples of Obama’s effective conservatism:

– His stimulus bill was half the size that his advisers thought necessary;
– He continued Bush’s war and national security policies without change and even retained Bush’s defense secretary;
– He put forward a health plan almost identical to those that had been supported by Republicans such as Mitt Romney in the recent past, pointedly rejecting the single-payer option favored by liberals;
– He caved to conservative demands that the Bush tax cuts be extended without getting any quid pro quo whatsoever;
– And in the past few weeks he has supported deficit reductions that go far beyond those offered by Republicans.

His point is that Obama is to liberals what Richard Nixon was to conservatives.

Although Republicans routinely accuse him (Obama) of being a socialist, an honest examination of his presidency must conclude that he has in fact been moderately conservative to exactly the same degree that Nixon was moderately liberal.

And no matter how much you hated Nixon, if you compare their domestic records on entitlement programs, Nixon comes out ahead. Nixon increased spending on social programs. Obama is cutting it back. Nixon expanded government regulation through the creation of such things as the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies that protected consumers, Bartlett notes. Obama is cutting federal regulatory programs and jobs at a time when jobs are scarce.

I’m not saying Nixon was a better person than Obama. His administration is best represented in Philip Roth‘s “Our Gang,” which ends with a dead Nixon (named “Trick E. Dixon”) plotting to take over Hell from Satan.

But from an economic standpoint, the poor likely stood a better chance with the fiscal policies of a scheming Nixon than they do with the fiscal policies of an acquiescent Obama.

Some fly high, others are going to crash

I don’t know if the New York Times publishes these stories to piss people off, if it’s secretly saying the subjects of these kinds of stories are the epitome of greedy capitalists or if it’s making a direct appeal to what it considers its core readership.

I do know that the Times circulation department used to have maps of the New York circulation area that graded neighborhoods by net wealth and would focus their subscription efforts on the regions with the most green.

The bus to camp

Anyway, here’s the latest. You decide:

A turboprop Pilatus PC-12 carrying Melissa Thomas, her daughter, her daughter’s friend and a pile of lacrosse equipment took off for their home in Connecticut, following the girls’ three-week stay at Camp All-Star in nearby Kents Hill, Me. Shortly after, a Cessna Citation Excel arrived, and a mother, a father and their 13-year-old daughter emerged carrying a pink sleeping bag and two large duffel bags, all headed to Camp Vega in Fayette. …

For decades, parents in the Northeast who sent their children to summer camp faced the same arduous logistics of traveling long distances to remote towns in Maine, New Hampshire and upstate New York to pick up their children or to attend parents’ visiting day.

Now, even as the economy limps along, more of the nation’s wealthier families are cutting out the car ride and chartering planes to fly to summer camps. One private jet broker, Todd Rome of Blue Star Jets, said his summer-camp business had jumped 30 percent over the last year.

So at a time of economic crisis, the rich are chartering jets to send their kids to summer camp? We’ve already been told they’re building their kids playhouses that go for $200,000.

Meanwhile, in my world, this is happening:

House Republicans delayed a vote on their bill to lift the debt ceiling as they scrambled Tuesday night to rewrite the measure to ensure that accompanying spending cuts were large enough, according to three senior GOP aides.

The vote, originally scheduled for Wednesday, could now happen Thursday or Friday.

When the GOP refers to spending cuts, that means getting rid of things that help the elderly, the sick and the poor. In effect, the Republican effort is designed to tax these groups. If government revenue isn’t used to help these people, they have to pay more to survive. It’s GOP social engineering at its cruelest. None of these spending cuts are going to have the slightest impact on people who buy their kids playmansions and charter jets to get them to camp.

And while the Republicans dither over addressing the soon to be surpassed debt ceiling, the rest of the world is watching to see if they’re crazy enough to drive that bus over the cliff:

In a speech in New York before the Council on Foreign Relations, meanwhile, Christine Lagarde, the new managing director of the IMF, urged American officials to demonstrate the kind of “political courage” she said was shown by European leaders last week in a summit that agreed on new financing for Greece and gave greater powers to a regional bailout fund.

“On the debt ceiling, the clock is ticking, and clearly the issue needs to be resolved immediately,” Lagarde said. “Indeed, an adverse fiscal shock in the United States could have serious spillovers on the rest of the world.” She said a default or downgrading of U.S. debt “would be a very, very, very serious event, not just for the United States but for the global economy at large.”

The Republicans put the debt ceiling argument in the terms of living within your means. Let’s look at it in terms of an individual’s credit rating. When you get an offer from a bank for a credit card at a zero interest rate, it seems like a great deal. But the second you miss a payment, the interest rate shoots up to an extraordinary amount. That’s today’s American banker, who is now charging rates that loan sharks used to go to jail for.

Naturally, when you have the money, you don’t screw around. You pay your bill. And in this whole argument, no sane person believes America doesn’t have enough money to pay its bills. But the tea baggers in Congress are acting like four year olds and saying “If you don’t do what we say, we’ll hold our breath until we pass out.” But their intention is to take the whole world down with them.

For some reason that I still find unfathomable, President Obama still believes in compromise and a “bipartisan solution.”

Paul Krugman says it best:

The cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.

Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

But who’s really to blame?

So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president. Once again, health reform — his only major change to government — was modeled on Republican plans, indeed plans coming from the Heritage Foundation. And everything else — including the wrongheaded emphasis on austerity in the face of high unemployment — is according to the conservative playbook.

What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most voters, who get their information on the fly rather than doing careful study of the issues, to understand what’s really going on.

I haven’t the slightest idea of how this is all going to end. I think the GOP will insist on a default. I hope something else will happen that will avoid a financial meltdown, for all our sakes, but as Krugman points out, Obama has met the demands of the fanatic right and they still aren’t satisfied.

In the meantime see if you can hitch a ride for your kid on one of these jets to summer camp. If you can afford to send your kid to summer camp.

Inspiring a psychopath

The psychopath in Norway who bombed an Oslo government building then went on to an island where he shot to death a bunch of kids attending a youth rally wrote a 1,500-page manifesto.

Here, in Anders Behring Breivik’s own words, is his inspiration:

We, the European Revolutionary Conservatives know very well that it will take many years, even decades before we successfully manage to consolidate to a degree where we can seize political and military power in the first Western European country. In the US, the Tea party movement is one of the first physical, political manifestations which indicate that there is a great storm coming. The creation of similar conservative organizations, even the creation of revolutionary conservative movements … is about to materialize. The cultural Marxists are losing their momentum to our advantage.

And he said this:

Let us hope that the US (Democratic and Republican party) allows us, their European cultural and economical crown vassals, to liberate ourselves and deport the Muslims without them militarily intervening. We shouldn’t forget that we have many allies in the US including a sizable faction of the Republican Party.

And he believes this:

Additionally, we are calling for President Barrack Obama’s Impeachment for actually saying he was a Marxist, as well as not being able to provide proof of American citizenship. ….

We’ve been force fed this Tea Party/GOP bull for almost 2 years now. And this is what it leads to: a massacre in Norway with 76 people dead and a nation in shock.

People say you can’t judge the influence of a group by the actions of a madman. If it was just a rare occurrence, maybe they’re right. But there are a lot of gun toting psychopaths who only needed the Tea Party tantrums to set them off.

Oh, and what does America’s King of Crazy have to say about the victims?

GLENN BECK: And then there was a shooting at a political camp, which sounds a little like, you know, the Hitler youth or whatever. I mean, who does a camp for kids that’s all about politics? Disturbing.

So, the victims are Nazis?

I wonder what other demented group would gather children in a political camp?

Here’s another option now that the kids are out of school: a weeklong seminar about our nation’s founding principles, courtesy of the Tampa 912 Project.

The organization, which falls under the tea party umbrella, hopes to introduce kids ages 8 to 12 to principles that include “America is good,” “I believe in God,” and “I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.”

And who, pray tell, came up with the concept for the 912 Project? (Do you really have to think about the answer to that question?):

The 9-12 Project (or 9/12 Project, 912 Project) is a political group created by American television and radio personality Glenn Beck. It was launched on the Friday 13 March 2009 episode of Glenn Beck, the eponymous talk show on Fox News Channel. A website was launched to promote the group, and several local 9-12 groups formed soon after in cities throughout the United States.

CORRECTION: I just realized that I never refer to Glenn Beck as a schitzoid cokehead in this post. I apologize for the omission.

Stupid optimism

Haven’t checked in with the Rude Pundit in a while. Here’s what he has to say about the Republicans and the debt ceiling debacle:

But stupid optimism is what makes us American. And it’s that stupidity that made so many Americans elect this actually dangerous group of people. There is no Forrest Gump-wisdom in the dimwitted. There’s only the horrible consequences of their actions.

Here’s the whole item.

Tour de France

Last year, I was at the finish line for the first stage of the Tour de France. It was in Brussels, and in the last few hundred yards, there was a major wipeout of bikers. I was probably 200 yards from where that happened.

For the past seven years, I was completely aware of the race and the various stages it was in because that’s the only sports story the European media paid any attention to.

This year, I’d completely forgotten about it. Then I saw this today:

After two runner-up finishes, Cadel Evans finally stood at the top of the podium on the Champs-Elysees as champion of cycling’s great race.

Wrapped in his country’s flag and with tears in his eyes, Evans listened as Australia’s national anthem played Sunday after he became the first Australian — and the oldest rider since World War II — to win the Tour de France.

Given Rupert’s troubles this week, this is a little good news for the Aussies.