The Recovery Act and Shrill Heights of Republican Hyperbole

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If only GOP hyperbole was worth something the U.S. economy would snap out of this Depression in no time. Unfortunately its only good for a laugh or sigh at best. The Recovery Act is “rape” according to a Con named Kevin McCullough. The movement to which Kevin belongs lied and manipulated America into a war, ran up a 10 plus trillion dollar debt, let America’s infrastructure fall a part, treated the Constitution like toilet paper and taking one small step toward trying to undo some of the damage is exactly the same thing as rape. The last time Kevin got a paper cut I’m guessing the local emergency room suffered some ear shattering screams of suffering.

Then there’s Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10), who probably with the help of his staff and a giant box of Crayolas just wrote down every adjective they could copy from the Little Hand Book of Republicanism: How to be an Assclown,

Madam Speaker, I stand here today because Americans face a fork in the road. One side leads to socialism and the other path leads to freedom. This nonstimulus bill is the road to socialism. It will give us a journey that includes bureaucratic controls, high taxes, government intervention, Cuba-style medicine and economic collapse of America. This steam roller of socialism is being shoved down our throats and it will strangle our economy. This porkulus bill has a few decent provisions in it but is mostly filled with mystery meat. Rancid meat. Like the millions for plug-in government cars and millions for mouse restoration, that will ruin the entire meal.

Socialism is when the public or rather government owns the means of production. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) is the one talking about the government nationalizing banks – it might not be a bad idea, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. If President Obama and Democrats succeed they will have been the ones that saved our free market system, rather then the unholy unregulated corporate partnership that Republicans created between government and Wall St. Obama cut taxes. If Broun had read the legislation he’d know that. The Recovery Act could only be shoved down America’s throat if we didn’t have elections or representatives that could not vote for or against. Most Representatives and Senators voted for the Recovery Act – its called democracy. America won and Dr. Crayola lost. “Strangle” the economy – you mean the one that is in the tank because  Broun, Broun clones and Bush tanked it. If the Recovery Act is generational theft at about 800 billion, then the Republican deficit of 10 trillion is the same as stealing from 9 generations. So if generational theft is a game its one where Conservatives are way ahead.

Obama Gains G.O.P. Support From Governors

Across the country, from California’s Arnold Schwarzenegger to Florida’s Charlie Crist and New England’s Jim Douglas in Vermont and M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut, Republican governors showed in the stimulus debate that they could be allies with Mr. Obama even as Congressional Republicans spurned him.

[  ]…Recently, Governors Schwarzenegger, Crist, Douglas and Rell joined 14 Democratic governors in signing a letter to Mr. Obama lauding his economic plan. Other Republicans would have signed on, said a person familiar with the letter’s drafting, but for party pressure in their states.

Bipartisanship to Congressional Republicans means that even though they’re the minority party they should get everything they want. If they don’t, Conservatives will thrown temper tantrums and just make stuff up.

Iraq is the Republican gift that keeps on draining America’s resources, Missing Iraq billions could be ‘greatest fraud in US history’

Monday, The Independent’s Iraq correspondent Patrick Cockburn reported the inspectors believe misuse may account for over $50 billion, exceeding the scope of Bernie Madoff’s massive Ponzi scheme and making it potentially the “greatest fraud in US history.”

[   ]…”‘Hard Lessons,’ a draft of which was leaked to the news media in December, concludes that the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq was a failure, largely because there was no overall strategy behind it,” reported the Washington Post. “Goals shifted from ‘liberation’ and an early military exit to massive, ill-conceived and expensive building projects under the Coalition Provisional Authority of 2003 and 2004. Many of those projects — over budget, poorly executed or, often, barely begun — were abandoned as security worsened.

Lesson: Never let a Republican tell you how to manage money or a war or a corral of turtles.

Home and car buyers get tax breaks in stimulus package

•First-time home buyers. First-time home buyers are eligible for an $8,000 tax credit. And unlike the $7,500 credit enacted last year, this one doesn’t have to be repaid, unless you sell your home within three years.

•New car buyers. Purchasers of new cars and trucks will be allowed to deduct sales or excise taxes. This is an above-the-line deduction, so you don’t have to itemize to claim it.

•Parents of college-bound students. The bill contains a more generous tax credit for higher education than the existing Hope college credit. Parents will be allowed to claim a tax credit of up to $2,500 a year to cover higher-education expenses.

The particulars are at the link.

Department of Justice Stalls, Fund and WSJ Fumble on Mandates and Obama

Is Obama following Bush’s lead on records decisions? Holder and the DOJ have backtracked just slightly in the decision to with hold documents relating to harsh or inhuman treatment of detainees at  Guantanamo. They asked for more time to review all the documents – “In response to the outcry over the state secrets argument, the Justice Department promised to review other cases to ensure that the Bush administration has asserted such claims properly.” That still leaves  this past Monday’s decision by the Obama Justice Department would maintain adhere to the absurd Bush administration position that the torture related lawsuit be dismissed because it undermines national security. The entire country already knows from press reports that people were tortured and many of the techniques used. The public appears to back the idea of investigations of Bush-Cheney wrong doing, Poll: Most want inquiry into anti-terror tactics

Close to two-thirds of those surveyed said there should be investigations into allegations that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants. Almost four in 10 favor criminal investigations and about a quarter want investigations without criminal charges. One-third said they want nothing to be done.

President Obama’s poll numbers are still solid gold and his recent press conference and public advocacy show how effective he is at rallying public support. So if the administration is afraid of partisan political fallout from the public, that fear seems unfounded. If anything Obama could probably make the public more aware of how Bush’s policies have endangered Americans and hurt efforts to combat Middle-East radicalism. Not to mention Obama’s own promises for more transparency and adherence to the law. With the stimulus pretty much out of the way there is little excuse to avoid a little more focus on some legal and Constitutional issues that will haunt his presidency.

Leahy, D-Vt., this week proposed a “truth commission” to assemble facts. He said the panel could offer immunity from prosecution for everything but perjury. “We need to get to the bottom of what happened and why,” he said.

Conyers, D-Mich., has called for a panel that would gather facts and make recommendations, and could possibly lead to prosecutions. “This isn’t payback,” he said. “We are getting things straightened out for the future.”

Republican Arlen Specter expressed the same thoughts echoed by many on the right. They don’t make sense,

“If every administration started to re-examine what every prior administration did, there would be no end to it,” he said. “This is not Latin America.”

The state of Illinois just managed to take about five minutes to impeach Rod Blagojevich. That probably had something to do with the people of Illinois and their state representatives thinking that the rule of law was more important then what party was embarrassed or some unicorn filled nightmare where the impeachments never end because  you had one. Let’s not prosecute anyone for anything according to that reasoning, close the prisons and save the tax payers tons of money.

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Why The Stimulus Is Too Small

It’s a matter of basic math, says economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. The economy is currently losing – annually — $450 billion in housing wealth, $650 billion in consumer spending and $150 billion in commercial real estate value.
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“You’re talking about a gap on the order of twelve-hundred-fifty billion dollars, and we’re trying to plug that with four-hundred-something, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Baker says. (The stimulus package of roughly $800 billion doles out spending and tax cuts over two years.)

Galbraith, too, says that demonstrating that the stimulus is too small is a matter of basic math. The $400 billion it will inject into the economy each of the next two years is equal to about two to three percent of GDP, he noted. But the economy is falling at a much faster rate, projected at eight percent a year by the CBO – and that projection, again, doesn’t account for the financial collapse.

If it’s too small, how is it, then, that economic models like the Congressional Budget Office’s show that the economy will turn around sometime in 2009 or 2010?

The harsh reality: they’re just guessing. And they’re guessing based on economic models, says Galbraith, that have been built post-World War II and don’t take into account the collapse of the financial sector. Instead, they assume the credit markets will be there to help ease the nation out of the downturn.

Some of the individual items taken out will come up in regular spending bills – so that is not an end of the world situation. Its a matter of pumping enough money into banks so they’re not afraid to lend and businesses aren’t afraid to borrow.

The Wall Street Journal’s regular reporting generally isn’t that bad, but their editorial page is a crazy quilt club for wing-nuts that indulge in  historical revisionism and spin. There is a huge business opportunity waiting for someone to open a rehab clinic for Republicans hooked on spin, Obama Misreads His Mandate – Reagan didn’t assume his landslide was a license for whatever he wanted

To be sure, Reagan’s team knew that the honeymoon period would provide maximum leverage, and that they had to move quickly before “organized interest groups regain their strength and aggressiveness.” But by handing over the drafting of the stimulus package to Capitol Hill, Mr. Obama started out by empowering interest groups to unleash their pent-up aggression.

The Republican party is now at least, if unintentional, acknowledged as an ‘interest group’ by John Fund and the WSJ. As Mr. Fund tries however limply to imply that President Obama was too partisan, he slaps the president’s had for reaching out to that special interest group otherwise known as Republicans. A shrewd move it turns out as Republicans showed that were not the least bit interested in bipartisan compromise – something voters will remember in the mid-terms, but in the end despite any fodder to cable comedians, got almost all of the original stimulus package he wanted. Did he fitter away any political capital. Not according to polls in which the public trusts Obama far more then Republicans and even more then Congressional Dems to run the economy. Reagan’s first forays in shaping a budget that was projected to run the country into deficit Nirvana a-la Bush, though not as deep was moderated by Democrats who held a solid majority in the House at the time,

But after his initial victories on tax cuts and defense, the revolution effectively stalled. Deficits started to balloon, the recession soon deepened, his party lost ground in the 1982 midterms, and thereafter Reagan never seriously tried to enact the radical domestic agenda he’d campaigned on. Rather than abolish the departments of Energy and Education, as he had promised to do if elected president, Reagan added a new cabinet-level department–one of the largest federal agencies–the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Though his budgets requested some cuts in some areas of discretionary spending, Reagan rapidly retreated and never seriously pushed them. As Lou Cannon, the Washington Post reporter who covered Reagan’s political career for 25 years, put it in his masterful biography, President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime, “For all the fervor they created, the first-term Reagan budgets were mild manifestos devoid of revolutionary purpose. They did not seek to ‘rebuild the foundation of our society’ (the task Reagan set for himself and Congress in a nationally televised speech of February 5, 1981) or even to accomplish the ‘sharp reduction in the spending growth trend’ called for in [his] Economic Recovery Plan.” By Reagan’s second term, the idea of seriously diminishing the budget was, to quote Stockman, “an institutionalized fantasy.” Though in speeches Reagan continued to repeat his bold pledge to “get government out of the way of the people,” government stayed pretty much where it was.

Mr. Fund has, like many on the extreme Right, a selective and very rosy memory of things that did not happen or didn’t happen quite the way they would like everyone to believe. If Democrats had not reigned in Reagan’s slash and burn budget we would have had an even more painful preview of the Bush 43 years. It could be argued that had Reagan somehow plowed ahead with his wildly extremist agenda Conservatism would have died in the 90s rather then languishing in juvenile displays of irrelevancy we have seen the past two weeks a The 10 Trillion Dollar Debt Party resort to quoting fake reports, imaginary studies  and history that never happened. Fund also ever so conveniently leaves out the Bush administration in his examples of presidents and how they should act on mandates from voters, Cheney Should Smile as Obama Tells GOP , “I Won”

Following the disputed 2000 election, the Bush-Cheney transition team prepared to assume the White House without either a popular vote mandate or dominant majorities in Congress. But while the mainstream media consensus concluded that a “weakened” President Bush would have to govern from the center and “build bridges to the opposition,” Dick Cheney had a different idea. Especially when it came to the Republican ticket’s radical plan of tax cuts for the economy, Cheney insisted:

“We don’t negotiate with ourselves.”

[  ]…RUSSERT: Governor Bush and you campaigned on a platform of a $1.3 trillion tax cut. Now that the Senate is 50-50, Democrats-Republicans, and the Republicans control the House by eight or nine votes, won’t you have to scale down your tax cut in order to pass it? […] But, in reality, with a 50-50 Senate and a close, close, small majority in the House, you’re going to have to have a moderate, mainstream, centrist governance, aren’t you?

CHENEY: Oh, I think so. […] But I think there’s no reason in the world why we can’t do exactly what Governor Bush campaigned on.

Bush-Cheney certainly had no mandate and acted with blinding hubris toward Congress and the American public – very statesman like – no wonder Fund suddenly forgot the 43rd president. President Obama has a clear mandate, could act without Republican support, yet has reached out to – some would say too much so – to Republicans. While I clearly disagree with Obama and his team on a few things I cannot fault him his noble attempts to be a true statesman. Like many I wish President Obama would be a little less bipartisan and more prize fighter. There is too much at stake to try and cater to the Bushican party that wants to press replay on all the same disasterous polcies that got the country where it is today.

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The Clinton Attacks Begin Again, The Graham-DeMint School of Government

Regular Faux News contributor, adulterer, Republican and prostitute toe sucker Dick Morris, for some inexplicable reason, has been welcomed at The Hill to continue his Clinton stalking, Hillary’s incredible, shrinking role

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is finding that her job description is dissolving under her feet, leaving her with only a vestige of the power she must have thought she acquired when she signed on to be President Obama’s chief Cabinet officer.

After years of Morris trying to pass himself off on the public as an insight filled pundit, we can now add mind reader to his resume. Is The Hill turning into the National Hill Enquirer where dull minds hang out and make sh*t up to justify that two martini lunch on the expense account. Secretary of State Clinton was sworn into office on January 21, 2009. She is already on a tour of Asia. A trip that will include Japan, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and China. Morris lists Richard Holbrooke as one usurper of Clinton’s power,

• Richard Holbrooke, the former Balkan negotiator and U.N. ambassador, has been named special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He insisted on direct access to the president, a privilege he was denied during much of the Clinton years.

It was in fact Clinton who suggested that Afghanistan/Pakistan have its own special envoy. The rest of the  evidence that is supposed to start off the Right’s inevitable campaign to portray Clinton as somehow weak or being undermined by the big boys is equally lacking in proof. Odd that we’ve seen no articles from Morris on Colin Powell’s lack of power in the Bush administration. Bolton flouted agency’s rules, officials say

As under secretary of state, John Bolton routinely arranged meetings with Israeli, Russian, British and French officials without first notifying the State Department offices responsible for relations with those countries, according to three former department officials.

Morris touts Obama’s closeness to Gen. James L. Jones, Obama’s new national security adviser. A relationship that is probably less close, knowing their history, then the relationship between Condi Rice and Bush when she was his NSA. Morris even admits that the SOS’s role is not defined in granite. It is fluid from one administration to the next and depending on events and personalities can change during an administration. Even a Bush loyalist like Rice who had a large part in echoing administration lies about Iraq, played a role that was second place to Dick Cheney in conducting foreign policy. If Clinton ends up competing with Biden or Jones in that respect its far from scintillating hot off the press news.

Graham-DeMint School of Government

The Senate on Tuesday passed an $838 billion economic-stimulus bill demanded by President Barack Obama despite opposition from Sens. Lindsey Graham, Jim DeMint and all but three other Republican senators.

[  ]…Graham, a Seneca Republican, ridiculed the Senate legislation as “an obscenity” and “a bunch of garbage” that won’t come close to meeting Obama’s goal of creating or preserving 4 million jobs.

[   ]…”Democrats are now asking taxpayers for a trillion-dollar spending bill, a trillion-dollar (bank) bailout, and they will soon seek over $400 billion more for an omnibus appropriations bill filled with earmarks,” DeMint said.

“I’m very concerned that this reckless spending will create a staggering deficit that will lead to inflation and higher taxes that will cripple our economy,” he said.

Lindsay and DeMint have at least four faces between them. Sure look back over the past few years and you”ll find both expressing very grave concerns about the 10 trillion dollar deficit that they voted for ( You will not find any warnings from them about the financial crisis). Apparently 11 trillion dollars is where they draw a line in the sand. At least they could be honest about it. Graham and DeMint have claimed the stimulus plan is all pork and will not create many jobs, but not surprising for these Two Stooges, they can’t seem to produce any evidence counter to the CBO study that says it will create a substantial number of jobs – almost 4 million. It would be unfair as one blogger suggested to withhold stimulus funds from the states of the Senators that voted against the package, but then we’d be punishing the workers of those states for the numbskullery of their representatives.

There is some recent history of the GOP and media attacks on the Clintons in this article by Robert parry,  The GOP’s Jihad on Obama


There’s no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you

Bush Faithful Rewarded With Jobs – On the Way Out, He Placed Aides and Big-Money GOP Donors

Nearly half of Bush’s appointments after Election Day were filled by donors who gave a total of nearly $1.9 million to Republicans since 2003, according to an analysis of the postings. At least 20 of the positions were filled by former Bush aides, plus others filled by old hands from the administrations of Richard M. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

As the Post notes many of these positions are unpaid, but they are a way for loyal surrogates to exert influence in their little spheres of power from military colleges to presidential boards. Republicans, the party that bleeps like good little sheep about how bad government, turns out are like a bad case of head lice. You can’t pry them away from those sweet government jobs and perks.

Obama Justice Department Supports Bush ‘State Secrets’ Claims

In a move that’s sure to dismay some of President Obama’s faithful, the new administration today stood up in a federal appeals court and reiterated the Bush administrations’ arguments that victims of “extraordinary rendition” and torture should not be allowed to bring their claims in federal court because doing so would reveal “state secrets” and harm national security.

The exact torture procedures are pretty much known so on the administration that was supposed to bring real change ends up looking as ridiculous as the Bushies. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero’s statement,

Eric Holder’s Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama’s Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue. If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again.

More then disappointing. The Obama administration will continue to be embarrassed by this and reminded ad nauseum about their hypocrisy on this issue since the legal challenges will continue. Buck Naked Politics has some commentary and a good round-up of links for background, The Obama Administration’s First Civil Liberties Test: FAIL? (Commentary Round-Up)

Obama On Lessons Learned: I Should Have Started With No Tax Cuts And Let GOP Take Credit For Them

Reflecting further, Obama reminded the journalists present that the conservatives had originally expressed their approval of Obama’s plan to offer over $300 billion in tax cuts. But over time, they decided not to negotiate in good faith:

They were pleasantly surprised and complimentary about the tax cut that were presented in that framework. Those tax cuts are still in there. I mean, I suppose what I could have done is started off with no tax cuts, knowing that I was going to want some and then let them take credit for all of them. And maybe that’s the lesson I learned.

He added, “People have to break out of some of the ideological rigidity and gridlock that we’ve been carrying around for too long.”

Obama went on rip Republicans who now lecture about the need for fiscal responsibility. “It’s a little hard for me to take criticism from folks about this recovery package after they presided over a doubling of the national debt,”

If President Obama would simply regard the vast majority of Conservatives as petulent man-childs with a deeply ingrained behavoiral disorder, then adjust his strategy accordingly he might not get burned as often.

The Right must have gotten that fresh shipment of tin foil, Smoking gun: caller explains Stimulus as Obama plan to fund permanent Democratic patronage system

“Chicago Bob”, calling into a radio talk show, explains the need to rush on the Stimulus package before anyone gets a good chance to review its sordid details. The transcript:

“I really feel that what I’m gonna give you here is a smoking gun.

I’m a conservative Democrat and I’m from Chicago… and I, I feel that I was betrayed.

I was in a meeting after Obama got elected and I was told by the Democratic officials in that meeting that we were gonna give billions of dollars that was gonna come down the pike, our way, and what we were to do with it was we were supposed to do with it…

We are gonna build an army of Democratic patronage jobs…. gonna completely freeze up the Republicans forever and ever…

Anonymous caller Chicago Bob and the Holy Grail are frequently confused as being one and the same by Rightie pundits; so they jumped on this story, echoing it without question, like a starving dog on a Milkbone. If CB’s knowledge of Illinois politics is so deep he may have heard about this, Ex-Illinois Governor Ryan Convicted on 18 Charges

George Ryan A federal jury in Chicago has convicted former Illinois Governor George Ryan (R, age 72) of 18 corruption-related charges stemming from an FBI investigation into allegations that unqualified truck drivers could secure driver licenses in exchange for a bribe. Ryan faces a maximum penalty of 95 years in prison and $4.5 million in fines for racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, tax fraud and making false statements.

Ryan was governor from 1999-2003 and secretary of state from 1991-1999. The FBI investigation has resulted in charges against 79 state workers and lobbyists; 75 people have been convicted. No one has been acquitted.

Patronage and corruption in Illinois is not an exclusive franshise of Democrats.

Elena Kagan is a solid choice for Solicitor General of the United States Department of Justice ( she still has to be confirmed). The problem is that Holder was a solid choice as AG and has already backed off his position on torture and illegal renditions.

In her role as Dean of Harvard Law School, she has been highly praised by her colleagues for uniting a sometimes politically divisive faculty and for encouraging intellectual diversity. Eight former solicitors general–from both Republican and Democratic administrations–joined a letter wholeheartedly endorsing Kagan for the position.

A Few Landscape Wallpapers and some news snips

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Military Families Still Pay The Price

Do you know that a US serviceman or woman still is killed every other day in Iraq? That an Iraq War veteran takes his or her own life nearly every day?

Iraq’s Gravedigging Industry Is at 100% Full Employment

Not far, in the Al-Adhamiya area of Baghdad, what used to be a park is now a cemetery with more than 5,000 graves. According to the manager, most of the dead are never counted.

“Most of the bodies buried here are never reported in the media,” Abu Ayad Nasir Walid, 45, manager of the cemetery told IPS. He has been the manager here since the park was converted into a cemetery amidst the bloodletting from sectarian violence in early 2006.

Spending vs. Tax Cuts: Everything You Need to Know in One Chart

The takeaway? Food stamps, unemployment benefits, and infrastructure investment put the most money back into the economy for every dollar spent on them. Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy do the least. (A payroll tax holiday, which is essentially a tax break for poor people, isn’t so bad.) Job creation maps similarly.

Democrats in Congress Need to Learn How to Lead

The question is: What are the Democrats in congress going to do about it? Are they going to roll over like they have for the past two years and give the Republicans what they want? (Just as McCain seems to think they will.) Or are they going to grow a pair and stand up not just for what they believe to be right, but, as importantly, what they were put in office by the electorate to do?

Governor Sarah Palin is another Republican that is pro aid for Iraq and anti-aid for America.

Bees, Republicans and Unprincipled Obstructionism

Republican spite

Republican buzz on stimulus plan has no sting

Is it possible to slip pork into a bill this massive? Well, duh. But pork is often in the eye of the beholder. House Republicans this week released a list of $19 billion in provisions they called “wasteful” (i.e., 2% of the total package). But the list includes numerous projects that many Americans would support and that would plainly stimulate our limping construction and manufacturing sectors. For example, the purchase of new computers and vehicles for federal agencies, the building of fire stations and other public facilities, and the upgrade of rail lines.

Is this the best the GOP can come up with? Or are Republicans just determined to undermine the recovery effort? It’s hard to disagree with Obama’s complaint that “modest differences” over the package are being inflated to stall the whole program.

That brings us to McConnell and his problem with “honeybee insurance.” It turns out that the Senate minority leader took his cue from Neil Cavuto of Fox News, who has been carrying on about the topic for more than a week. Their campaign was joined Tuesday by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who stood on the floor of the chamber challenging “any member to come and explain what that provision was.”

I’m no senator, but I’m pleased to inform Vitter that it is, in fact, a disaster insurance program for all livestock producers. Beekeepers obviously would be minor beneficiaries next to, say, cattle ranchers, so it’s a tad bit dishonest to label the whole program “honeybee insurance.”

The provision simply continues a program enacted by Congress last year, overriding a veto by President Bush. In other words, the Senate voted on it twice in 2008 — once to enact and once to override. Connoisseurs of political comedy will see the punch line coming: McConnell and Vitter voted yea both times.

So it turns out that McConnell isn’t really against honeybees. He’s only using them to pretend that he’s got a principled objection to a stimulus plan aimed at pulling the country out of the most severe recession in decades.

The honeybees, and the rest of us, are merely collateral damage.

If you’re a Republican and you can’t find a principled objection to the stimulus plan, you do what republicans have been doing for decades. You create a few misleading talking points – in the case of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(R-KY), Fox’s so-called financial expert Neil Cavuto and  Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), outright lies, then repeat them endlessly. They can’t risk the honest confession that when Bush was King, deficits didn’t matter and while the pork was neck deep America’s infrastructure mattered much less then the infrastructure of Iraq. The media isn’t doing their job of calling Republican doublespeakers. Its the same old lazy journalism we’ve had for years. Ask a Republican a question, nod, say thanks and move on to that report about some new fashion trend. Publius wonders why Republicans are objecting to parts of the stimulus plan with the clear implication that Republicans don’t have clue what to do about the economy, but they’re sure they know they don’t want Democrats to get credit for fixing the problems that reliable Bush hand maidens like McConnell and DeMint created,  State Aid Is Stimulus . . . Don’t Cut It

For instance, consider the state stabilization fund.  Details are still sketchy, but it seems like the Senate’s bold centrist compromise took a big axe to this program.  However, this program – derided as a “slush” fund – provides many critical stimulus benefits.  Let me say that again – the state stabilization fund will help stimulate the economy immediately by keeping people in jobs.

But don’t take my word for it.  Go check out the CBPP, which has an extensive discussion of the benefits state aid would provide.  The nickel version is that states are running deficits, and will therefore be forced to make hard painful cuts (this is one reason why governments shouldn’t be mandated to balance budgets).  Anyway, here’s the CBPP explaining the pain to come:
When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, reduce payments to businesses and nonprofits that provide services, and cut benefit payments to individuals.  All of these steps remove demand from the economy and compound the economic slowdown, counteracting the effects of the recovery bill.

There is still a chance that Speaker Pelosi will get the state aid provisions back in. It doesn’t make sense, its actually clearly contradictory for Conservatives to beef about aid to states that keeps and provides jobs and essential services, yet not make  federal spending on bridges to create jobs a sticking point. It doesn’t take a detective to sort out a clear trend. Republicans just want failure for the new president and the new Congress. Greg Sargent has a current list of cuts Republicans ( Ben Nelson is only technically a Democrat) want,

Head Start, Education for the Disadvantaged, School improvement, Child Nutrition, Firefighters, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard, Prisons, COPS Hiring, Violence Against Women, NASA, NSF, Western Area Power Administration, CDC, Food Stamps

Besides the essential services these entities provide they also provide paychecks to employees that buy food, cars, electronics and houses. How is that not a stimulus. Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research,

This piece should have been ridicule. Spending that is not stimulus is like cash that is not money. Spending is stimulus, spending is stimulus. Any spending will generate jobs. It is that simple. There is a question of whether the spending will go to areas that will provide benefits, long-term or short-term, to the economy, but there is no question that money that is spent will create jobs and therefore is stimulus.

Voters just decided that John McCain(R-AZ) wasn’t up to managing the economy – it was a wise decision a few months ago and remains so, McCain blasts Obama

“The whole point, Mr. President, is to enact tax cuts and spending measures that truly stimulate the economy,” McCain said. “There are billions and tens of billions of dollars in this bill which will have no effect within three, four, five or more years, or ever. Or ever.”

McCain’s entire Senate career has been the epitome of non-achievement. A man destined for history’s bin of irrelevancy. Kind of ironic that Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com and a former advisor to McCain disagrees with McCain’s buffoon economics,

Q: OK, so how would the stimulus proposal save jobs?

A: By spending roughly $90 billion building and repairing highways, bridges, mass transit systems and other infrastructure projects, for starters.

That would create about 670,000 new construction jobs by the end of 2010, according to Zandi.

But other types of companies would also gain thousands of jobs, according to a study funded by the Alliance for American Manufacturing, including steel makers; concrete and cement companies; and glass, rubber and plastics manufacturers.

Q: Sounds good, but what if I don’t work in construction or manufacturing?

A: Obama and congressional Democrats are also planning to spend billions of dollars upgrading the nation’s electrical grid. And they plan to expand broadband Internet access and put medical records online.

Those efforts would create jobs for software programmers, computer equipment makers, telecommunications technicians, engineers and other information technology professionals, says Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank.

Atkinson said that expanding broadband Internet access to rural areas — a $6 billion project in the stimulus plan — would spur additional economic activity, as consumers buy new computers, audio speakers, Webcams and other equipment to take advantage of the fast connections.

Q: Are there other areas where jobs would be created?

A: The stimulus would provide approximately $200 billion to state and local governments to pay for health, education and public safety programs. A House committee says that would save jobs for teachers, firefighters and police officers.

Thousands of jobs also could be created indirectly, as people spend money from the stimulus at stores, restaurants, and even on vacation at hotels.

Q: What if I still can’t find a job after the plan goes into effect?

A: Obama’s stimulus proposal would continue an emergency extension of unemployment benefits until the end of 2009. The program, which provides up to 33 weeks of additional payments, is set to expire in March.

McCain once admitted that he wasn’y very knowledgable about econmics. Apparently he has no plans to remedy that problem. More here on  the effects of the economic recovery plan.

The 10 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt Party is Suddenly Concerned About Spending

AssRocket at Time Magazine’s once Blog of the Year, Powerline, manages the incredible feat of being genuinely proud of one’s ignorance while simultaneously impugning someone’s character that hasn’t done anything in the dead of night,

WHAT’S THE RUSH?  —  As Paul notes below, neither Barack Obama nor any other Democrat has even tried to explain why the Dems’ pork-fest, which appropriates hundreds of billions of dollars years in the future, needs to be rushed through the Senate in the dead of night as an “emergency.”

The economic stimulus package – esta 800 billion- required to rescue the economy that Republicans ruined while they created an almost 11 trillion dollar debt is a pork-fest. This is what Republicans like AssRocket, Malkin, Boehner, McConnel and Limbaugh tells themselves, because having fully embraced their inner four year brat they ain’t tak’n no responsibility for nut’n, ever. “Dead of night’, does Assrocket mean doing stuff like this, Republican agenda passed in the dead of night

At 2:54 a.m. on a Friday in March, the House cut veterans benefits by three votes.

At 2:39 a.m. on a Friday in April, the House slashed education and health care by five votes.

At 1:56 a.m. on a Friday in May, the House passed the Leave No Millionaire Behind tax-cut bill by a handful of votes.

At 2:33 a.m. on a Friday in June, the House passed the Medicare privatization and prescription drug bill by one vote.

At 12:57 a.m. on a Friday in July, the House eviscerated Head Start by one vote.

Just a tiny example of Republican midnight shenanigans the last eight years. This might explain, thought its obviously far from the cognitive abilities of Republicans to understand, part of the reason normal human citizens f the United States feel some urgency in acting on an economic stimulus package, Economy Sheds 598,000 Jobs in January

As in previous months, employers in January slashed their payrolls in almost every industry except health care Manufacturers eliminated 207,000 jobs, more than in any year since 1982. The construction industry eliminated 111,000 jobs. And retailers, who were wrapping up their worst holiday shopping season in years, eliminated 45,000 jobs.

Employers slashed 598,000 more jobs in January as unemployment rate climbed to 7.6%.

As bad as the unemployment rate was, it only tells part of the story for people struggling to find jobs. Friday’s report also showed that 2.6 million people have now been out of work for more than six months, the most long-term unemployed since 1983.

None of these matters to the Republicans pundits because, one they all belong to the Republican welfare network. Two, Republicans have been out of touch with the trials of average working Americans for over half a century so there is no reason to believe they’d have a sudden infusion of knowledge about how a healthy economy works. if you’re hearing the term “pork-fest” to try and describe the attempt to keep America from falling into even more dire shape, its because its the Right’s latest bumper sticker phrase meant to be repeated ad nauseum, regardless of its lacking in the truth department, Lie down with dogs, get fleas . When Republicans were running up their 10 trillion dollar plus federal deficit, deficits didn’t matter.

President Obama having bent over backwards to incorporate perks for Republicans in the stimulus seems to be getting around to calling them out for bargaining in bad faith,

But his brilliance tonight was his embrace of the partisan. He attacked the Republicans for the “gift” of the ten trillion dollar debt that doubled on their watch. And he warned of the same old “false theories of the past.”

The American people are watching. They did not send us here to get bogged down with the same old delay and distractions. They did not vote for the false theories of the past. They did not vote for the status quo – they sent us here to bring change, and we owe it to them to act.

The President warned his opponents pointblank not to “come to table with the same tired arguments and worn ideas that helped create this crisis.” But he also implored members of Congress “not make the perfect the enemy of the absolutely necessary,” asking them to “set aside the gameship” in order to get something done.

The Republicans do have an alternative plan. One which they seemed to have bought in the same alley where they bought the economic plan the country has been running on for years. Small problem, it cost more then President Obama’s plan and will not create jobs.

Lake View in Minnesota wallpaper

Glass Globe wallpaper

Wall Street Journal Don’t Know History and Some Other Rightie Revisionism

WSJ versus Ed

The right-wing New Deal conniption fit

How else to explain the paper’s increasingly shrill declarations that the New Deal absolutely, positively did not work?

The latest salvo came Monday morning in a piece by two economists, Harold L. Cole and Lee. E. Ohanian: “How Government Prolonged the Depression.”

Defenders of the New Deal will find much to argue with in Cole and Ohanion’s account, but for simplicity’s sake, I am going to zero in on just one point — the impact of the New Deal on unemployment.

[   ]…The government hired about 60 per cent of the unemployed in public works and conservation projects that planted a billion trees, saved the whooping crane, modernized rural America, and built such diverse projects as the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, the Montana state capitol, much of the Chicago lakefront, New York’s Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge complex, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the aircraft carriers Enterprise and Yorktown.

It also built or renovated 2,500 hospitals, 45,000 schools, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 7,800 bridges, 700,000 miles of roads, and a thousand airfields. And it employed 50,000 teachers, rebuilt the country’s entire rural school system, and hired 3,000 writers, musicians, sculptors and painters, including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.

In other words, millions of men and women earned a living wage and self-respect and contributed mightily to the national infrastructure. But, according to the statistics as interpreted on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, they were unemployed.

Not a new right-wing tactic. They cannot win the argument based on facts so they spin the facts to have an entirely new meaning. You’re employed when they feel that what you do to earn a pay check counts as employment according to the right-wing playbook. What you accomplished counts as directly or indirectly leading to an economic recovery when the mood strikes them to give you credit. They can’t when the game so they change the rules.

Karen Greenberg at Foriegn Policy mag adds another article that tackles all the paranoia and misinformation Cons are floating about closing Guantánamo, Think Again: Guantánamo

“The Detainees at Guantánamo Are Hardened Terrorists”

Not the majority. Since the prison opened seven years ago, confusion has reigned about exactly who is detained at Guantánamo. Officials at the prison initially knew almost nothing about their first 300 detainees beyond the hearsay reports that they were the “worst of the worst.” The detainees’ names, countries of origin, and even the languages they spoke were not immediately apparent. The circumstances of their capture and their association with al Qaeda or the Taliban were equally opaque. Only after investigators from various U.S. agencies began interviewing and interrogating the detainees, and combing through information from foreign police departments and intelligence agencies, did they find that many of their quarry had nothing to do with terrorism at all.

Even today, evidence to back up criminal charges against most of the prisoners — now numbering 243 — is scant. By all reports, about four dozen or so of the detainees will eventually be brought to trial, including the 14 high-value detainees that were transferred to Guantánamo in 2006, among them Khalid Sheikh Mohammed…

Remember also that those that have been released so far – some, no absolute number is known – some may have returned to terroist related activity. Those were released directly by the Bush administration without the slightest bit of judicial review.

If you enjoy rubber necking at the occassional wreck the Old is New Again Republican Party may give you endless hours of entertainment, For this I went to Georgetown?

When GOP congressional aides gather Tuesday morning for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher – more commonly known as Joe the Plumber — will be their featured guest. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week.

The GOP, the new absurdists comic irony show.

The “defense cut” falsehood from The Washington Post and Robert Kagan

So Obama proposes that the U.S. spend $40 billion more this year than it spent last year.

Despite this, the right-wing noise machine, led by Fox News, is gearing up to accuse Obama of “cutting defense spending” (Fox headline:  “Defense Official:  Obama Calling for Defense Budget Cuts”).  And today, The Washington Post publishes an Op-Ed from Robert Kagan — who, it must be acknowledged, is a decorated member of the toughest and most noble warrior-family in America — which is headlined:  “No Time To Cut Defense,” and which repeatedly accuses Obama of plotting to slice military spending

I thought the Conservative media was supposed to be about getting out the ultimate truth. When is that going to start exactly.

As America Stays Liberal, Conservatives Plan to Turn Harder Right

Just how bad off is the Republican Party? Republicans know what they’re against: Barack Obama. They’re still figuring out what they’re for.

Erick Erickson, an important grass-roots voice and founder of the influential blog RedState.com, believes energy and leadership will come from House Republicans. “I think initially you’re going to see [energy] coming from House leaders — Mike Pence, Eric Cantor, John Boehner, Tom Price with the Republican Study Committee. There really hasn’t been a governor to step up to the plate yet, or at least one that everyone really rallies behind. And I don’t think it will be in the Senate because the Republican base is more conservative than the Senate Republican conference, so people are distrustful of senators other than senators like Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn.” Erickson did say, however, he thought Senate Republicans were wise to select conservative Texan John Cornyn to be in charge of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Clearly, judging from Thomas Schaller’s numbers – Democratic presidential candidates for instance have won the popular vote in four out of the last five presidential elections – the country has always been more moderate then the Right’s noise machine would like everyone to believe. Know this, the ‘grass roots” of the Right thinks that the salvation of Conservatism ( something different then genuine Republicanism) lies in swinging even harder Right. In a country whose economy, environment, educational institutions and , military have been ravaged by Conservative social Darwinism, the nutroots thinks we just didn’t get a strong enough dose of anything goes deregulation and hey tough luck if you can’t pull yourself up by your broken boot straps. On the other hand Republican governors ( governorships being area where Republicans aren’t losing ground) might be a better direction. Unless some dynamics within the Conservative base changes, the Right will remain the party of Rush Limbaugh and the rabid fringe. Which works for me. Limbaugh is almost as unpopular as Bush, the president for who he faithfully carried water for eight years.

As the table above shows, Limbaugh’s unfavorable rating among all voters (59%) is higher than any other Republican except George W. Bush, although Sarah Palin (47%) and New Gingrich (48%) earn negative marks that fall within the margin of sampling error of Limbaugh.

If you’re a legacy Republican – you’re grandfather of father was an Eisenhower Republican or a William Buckley Republican – you take a hard look at the Limbaugh mentality – anti-science, misogynistic, elitest hypocrite, former drug addict, serial monogamist, pet hater, anti-environment, anti-labor – which is eaiser getting Democrats to be a little more classic fiscally conservative or to get the Limbaughnatics to moderate then views on a multitude of issues. Blumenthal suggest this poll might be why Democrats and some activists groups have made Limbie the face of the Republican party. Limbie has made himself the face of the Republican party – Republican pols scorn him at their own risk.

James Lieber on What Cooked the World’s Economy? – It wasn’t your overdue mortgage.

Starfish on Mushroom Coral wallpaper

Ancient reefs may win protection

Sixty miles off the coast of Cape Lookout, at depths of 1,200 feet and greater, ancient coral-reef mounds rise from the dark sandy bottom. The reefs teem with fish and other marine species — some of them new to scientists.

The deep-water reefs dot the continental slope from North Carolina to Florida and are thousands of years old. In places, mounds formed by the rubble of centuries of dead and living corals stand several hundred feet high.

To preserve the reefs, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, a federal panel that regulates recreational and commercial fishing from three to 200 miles offshore, is proposing to designate more than 23,000 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean off the southeastern United States as protected areas.

There would still be some commercial fishing allowed, but fishing equipment and anchors that damage the reef would not be allowed.