A Tea Party coup attempt

The Rude Pundit takes a look at the GOP shutdown of the government and says:

What the GOP has done, first through the ludicrous overuse of the filibuster and now through the shutdown and the threat of breaking the debt ceiling if they do not get a law overturned, is to use perfectly legal means to achieve their goals. It is, however, a contortion of the Constitution and the rules of Congress that’d make a circus performer say, “How the fuck did you get your head all the way up your own ass?” The ultimate goal of the effort is to undo the will of the people of the United States by forcing the President to accept the GOP agenda.

So let’s just call this what it is: it’s an attempted coup.

The Tea Party, having cowed the leadership of the Republican Party, are attempting to stage a creeping coup by using the Constitution against the nation. It’s so breathtakingly ballsy it’s almost admirable. … It’s even something the GOP laid out in a plan, the Williamsburg Accord. We just didn’t pay attention. The nation is currently being wrecked by a tyranny of the minority, and, unfortunately, it’s up to the cowards leading the Republican Party to stop it.

In the meantime, the lead coward in the Republican Party, tan-master and Speaker of the House John Boehner, says this:

“We’re not going to pass a clean debt limit increase,” he said. “I told the president, there’s no way we’re going to pass one. The votes are not in the House to pass a clean debt limit. And the president is risking default by not having a conversation with us.”

The Tea Party doesn’t like a law that was passed by Congress, signed by the president of the United States and ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court. So it’s followers have decided to destroy America. That’s what a terrorist wants to do.

Presidents have said this before. We do not negotiate with terrorists.


The GOP to the poor: Starve

The Republican House has hit a new low:

Republicans muscled a pared-back agriculture bill through the House on Thursday, stripping out the food stamp program to satisfy recalcitrant conservatives but losing what little Democratic support the bill had when it failed last month. It was the first time food stamps had not been a part of the farm bill since 1973. …

The food stamp program, formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, was 80 percent of the original bill’s cost, and it remains the centerpiece of the Senate’s bipartisan farm bill. …

Representative Frank D. Lucas, Republican of Oklahoma, the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he would try to draft a separate food stamp bill “as soon as I can achieve a consensus.” But conservatives remain determined to extract deep cuts to the program — cuts that members of both parties in the House and Senate have said they cannot support.

This means no food stamps until the Republicans get their act together. And that’s been impossible.

People are going hungry in America. The poverty rate is rising because the GOP is doing everything in its power to undermine every social program promoted by President Obama.

Republicans want you to believe that food stamps are being abused by minorities. But the vast majority of people on food stamps are white. And they aren’t in the big cities. They’re in rural America, places that are Republican strongholds.

This was in The Washington Post this week:

Here, in the rural hills of Tennessee, is the latest fallout of a recession that officially ended in 2009 but remains without end for so many. More than 1 in 4 children now depend on government food assistance, a record level of need that has increased the federal budget and changed the nature of childhood for the nation’s poor.

You really have to read the full story (here) to fully understand the impact of today’s action by John Boehner and his minions. Poor people are going hungry. Things are getting worse. And the party that wants to give bigger tax cuts to the rich has just taken food out of the mouths of children.

Why this political party exists … why poor whites throughout America blindly follow the GOP when all it wants to do is destroy them … is beyond comprehension.

The latest phase of GOP cliff diving

We’re getting closer to the fiscal cliff (from the New York Times):

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other social programs to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.

He did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but did not specify an amount or any details. And senior Republican aides familiar with the offer said those initial spending cuts might be outweighed by spending increases, including at least $50 billion in infrastructure spending, mortgage relief, an extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of automatic cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare.

“The Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” Mr. Boehner said after the meeting. “No substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks.”

Now, let’s ignore the fact that this Times article seems to say things are perilous because Obama won’t bend over and let the Republicans screw him again. (Of course the proposal is “loaded with Democratic priorities.” It’s an offer from Democrats, genius.)

Just a reminder (since the Republicans and the Times reporter seem to have forgotten this point): Obama won the election. He knows from experience that when a Republican says compromise, it means “You do everything I say.” He’s not going to fall for that again.

This is Obama’s offer. The GOP has to make a counteroffer. Unless the GOP is serious about making progress, which means coming up with a plan (instead of its usual teeth-gnashing and garment-rending tirades), any failure is going to be the direct result of the Republican Party.

Now, we already know the GOP had no problems with going off the cliff when it comes to politics. They lost the presidential election big time because they insulted, berated and offended every constituency that wasn’t current or aspirational old rich white men. They not only thought that was a winning strategy, but they also were well prepared for their inevitable victory, according to the FT:

Right up until he convincingly lost the election, Mr Romney thought he was going to win. Or at the very least, his team believed it would be razor close: On the night of November 6, there were four Romney jets waiting on the tarmac at Boston airport to fly lawyers to the scene of contested swing states.

They were completely oblivious to the fact that they were in trouble. They’re still oblivious to the fact that they are in trouble. But if they go over the cliff this time, they better realize they may never climb up again.

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.

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.

Washington’s psychotic dinner date

I’ve had this gnawing feeling for a while that when the Aug. 2 deadline for raising the debt ceiling comes, the Republicans are going to let the country default. The current talks are going nowhere. The coward Eric Cantor of Virginia walked out of the talks because he didn’t want to be associated with any agreement that raised taxes. The weeping Speaker John Boehner is drawing a line in the sand, saying no agreement will be made if tax increases are involved. And mumbling Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is doing everything he can to let the Senate know that the Republican definition of bipartisan agreement is doing everything the Republicans say.

But greater minds than mine keep reassuring us that this is only an opera bouffe, where we’re just going through the circus sideshow when the clowns get themselves in a tight situation then all at once come piling out of the tiny car to the laughter and relief of the amazed audience.

The experts say that the money masters on Wall Street have already let it be known that their puppets in Washington have been told not to screw around with the markets. Stocks are in good shape. Bonds are steady. All is right with their financial world, so Washington better not screw it up. Sanity will prevail.

But I look at the GOP, and sanity isn’t an operative word as far as it’s concerned. Look at the people they’re putting up for president. A rational party would have acted like it was the 1950s and hidden these crazy uncles and aunts in the attic to avoid total family humiliation. But the Pauls and the Cains and the Bachmanns and the Palins are in the center ring of the three ring circus while the Romneys and the Pawlentys and the Huntsmans are standing in the outer rings waiting for the show in the center ring to end.

And then I read this:

Why am I so freaked out, you ask? Because I think the GOP is really, really, really going to let the United States default. They’ve figured out that holding the debt ceiling hostage is the perfect way to achieve all of their ideological goals. This is their big shot to drown government in a bathtub and they are not going to miss it. And the only reason they can get away with this is because our supposed Democratic “leadership” does not have the guts to come right out and say that the Republicans are threatening to destroy the economy unless they get everything they want. You know that things have gotten bad when David Frum actually wishes Obama would be a more forceful in standing up to the GOP.

I go back to explanations that I read on Digby and Kos and other progressive blogs during the Bush administration on why there can be no legitimate compromise with the Republicans: It’s like taking a date to a fancy restaurant, and you want to order a nice steak, but your date wants anthrax and tire irons.

The anthrax and tire iron crowd is really ready to trash the restaurant to get its way.