Monday, May 04, 2009

National Council for a New America Wants You, Roy Blunt, Louis Gomert, American Energy Alliance, Robert J. Samuelson and the Texas State Board of Ed.

Meet the new Republican party, the new Republican party that now empathizes with those it used to scorn.
The new Republican party is looking forward to taking on new tough challanges. They want to be loved by the GLBT community, they want to be loved by the working class, they want to be loved by someone other than the angry, closed-minded, white folks that have filled their dance cards for the last 100 years.
They are rebranding their image. No longer wanting to be known as the "Party of No", they are now officially the "National Council for a New America" or unofficially "We'll change, we'll do anything if you'll just take us back, just give us one more chance. Please!" council.
Yeah, the GOP knows that it's about as popular as dog vomit right now and they are desperately wanting to convince the American people that their policies really wasn't the reasons that led this nation to near ruin over the 30 years. They want to do this and keep their extreme base happy at the same time. The same extreme base that actually liked those policies and want more of the same.
Prepare to be bamboozled.
Some Republican leaders today launched what they are calling a "conversation with America."
It was the first of several events planned as part of a new movement they're calling The National Council for a New America. The event drew some of the biggest names in the GOP, including former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former Florida governor Jeb Bush.
Their effort is drawing a lot of attention, the venue was packed.
Audience members packed into a small pizza joint in Arlington to listen and to be heard.
Even with the success of drawing enough semi-openminded supporters and sycophants
...which included reporters, Republican aides and their friends,...
to fill a small pizza place they still have a tiny problem.
But it's a complex task -- going back to roots of fiscal conservatism, without marginalzing a social conservative base -- all the while reaching out to moderates and independents who have left the party in droves.
And just how is all this love working out with that base?
...a group of conservative activists who were protesting in the parking lot complained that they were not allowed through the doors.
“We’re demonstrating against the fact that this organization set up by RINOs [Republicans in Name Only] have taken immigration off the agenda,” said Michael McLaughlin, a member of the American Council for Immigration Reform, a group seeking to stem the flow of immigrants into the country.
The activists grumbled that Republican organizers did not widely advertise the event. Several wearing shirts declaring themselves “Republicans Against Maverick McCain” craned their necks for a glimpse of the senior lawmaker, who did not show up.
Hey, the GOP crawled through the crap on their bellies to court the extremists, they got 'em and now they can't function without them. Cosmic justice? Yeah, if cosmic justice has a sense of humor. I know I'm getting one hell of a kick out of this.
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) has kind of an unique take on the situation. It sort of defies logic, but then logic is not really necessary when you have faith in the infallibility of your party's ideology.
“Just because we’re in a situation now where we vote no doesn’t mean we are the ‘party of no’ or have no ideas,” said former House Republican Whip Roy Blunt , who is running for Senate in Missouri and signed the letter. “This adds another way of getting those ideas out there.”
That's right folks, if it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it ain't no duck. It's actually a clever plan to make sure that the Republican's fresh new ideas, which they're not talking about because they're the same ideas that got us into this mess in the first place, get out to the American people.
They make this so easy.
Outside of the National Council for a New America, it looks pretty much like the SOS.
MIT economist John Reilly has come out and criticized Republicans for distorting his research on clean energy policy. GOP officials have been repeatedly misusing his work to claim that a cap-and-trade system would cost American families $3,100 in extra energy taxes each year. (In fact, the study actually says that any tax burden would be about one-fortieth of what Republicans claim.) Instead of responding to Reilly with facts, Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX) is now bashing the economist with ad hominem attacks in CNS News:
You're gonna love this.
Anyone who thinks you can pay $3,100 to the federal government and thinks you can get that money back completely in services — like I said — he may go to M-I-T but he is an N-U-T.
This has been the Right's strategy for the last 30 years. If you repeat something enough it becomes common knowledge thereby the truth. And it has worked great. It doesn't say much for the intellect of the American people though.
In the American people's defense, the Right has some pretty sophisticated help in perpetuating these myths. Take for instance,
The largest U.S. energy companies increased lobbyist spending by 30% in 2008 to influence energy and climate change legislation. Some of those funds are now going towards the creation of the American Energy Alliance, a new off-shoot of Institute for Energy Research.

The American Energy Alliance is headed by an oil industry lobbyist named Thomas J. Pyle. Before joining AEA, Pyle was a policy adviser to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX). Pyle’s former employer was among the top recipients of oil industry campaign contributions from 1998 to 2004, raking in $498,375 according to the Center for Public Integrity. Pyle then went to work for the oil-giant, Koch Industries.
The American Energy Alliance is airing radio ads in the home districts of moderate Democrats in order to press legislators to vote against the Waxman-Markey clean energy bill.
The ad repeats the debunked $3,100 lie that energy companies and their conservative allies have been pushing for weeks.
And Robert J. Samuelson of The Washington Post is doing his part to help the cause too. According to him, Obama hates the Oil companies to the detriment of all Americans.
Considering the brutal recession, you'd expect the Obama administration to be obsessed with creating jobs. And so it is, say the president and his supporters. The trouble is that there's one glaring exception to their claims: the oil and natural gas industries. The administration is biased against them -- a bias that makes no sense on either economic or energy grounds. Almost everyone loves to hate the world's Exxons, but promoting domestic drilling is simply common sense.
Improved production techniques (example: drilling in deeper waters) have increased America's recoverable oil and natural gas. The resistance to tapping these resources is mostly political. To many environmentalists, expanding fossil fuel production is a cardinal sin. The Obama administration often echoes this reflexive hostility. The resulting policies aim more to satisfy popular prejudice -- through photo ops and sound bites -- than national needs.
I think Samuelson is just a shill for Big Oil.
Here's what other folks had to say about him.
Before we get all warm and fuzzy about real journalists at The Washington Post like Dana Milbank�or whores like Jonathan Weisman who sometimes act like real journalists�it�s important to remember that paper is still firmly captured, ensnared by corporate greed and a nauseating self-righteousness.

Robert J. Samuelson fits that profile perfectly today in his incredibly dishonest and condescending piece The Phony Job Debate. �Electing a president based on job creation makes as much sense as selecting a doctor based on palm reading.�
His Establishment bias goes way beyond health. No agonizing for Samuelson on the growing income gap between the very rich and everybody else – shades of the 1920s! Nor on the export of American jobs or low investment in public goods (like crumbling bridges). He has inveighed against swollen Wall Street salaries, but on the deregulation now jeopardizing us, he’s been confused, as if the problem was bad people on Wall Street rather than the system. Thus, in April, as the subprime scandal unfolded, Samuelson wrote that greed, shortsightedness and herd behavior compromise modern finance. “But regulation cannot cure this dilemma, because regulators can’t anticipate all the problems and hazards, either.”

That’s wrong, mostly. Regulation did deter but corporate America had it removed.
If you have two functioning brain cells to rub together, you know that regulation worked. We can thank Bill Clinton and some of the other Democrats for caving on that one.
But the more the Right feigns change, the more things stay the same.
"In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards."

Mark Twain wrote that in 1897, and Americans still quote it, with feeling. It comes to mind for many observers of a current battle over science education in Texas.

Texas's school board, the State Board of Education (BOE), has been fighting about standards for science textbooks the state buys. Since March, clamorous attention has focused on a proposal to require that texts discuss the "strengths and weaknesses" of evolutionary theory. Everyone knew this was a ploy to get creationist ideas into the classroom. The scientific community was relieved when the BOE finally voted not to include that language – and dismayed when it then voted for amendments that mandate the same thing. The BOE's exuberant chair says he's not afraid to "stand up to the experts."
What's expert opinion worth when compared to a right winger's intuition?
I'll leave you with what passes for humor in Right Wing Fantasy Land. Yeah, another e-mail.
Sick puppies.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Congressional Democrats Taking Bids on Their Votes, Estate Tax, Farm Subsidies, Health Care, Bankruptcy Law, Ben Nelson and Richard Lugar.

This post would have been out a lot earlier, at least 24 hours, if it weren't for my electric going out, the cloud cover zapped my internet connection and my poor old kerosine powered computer wanting to take a break.

In the 2008 elections it was pretty obvious that the country wanted change. We knew that we could expect plenty of opposition from the Republicans. We're getting plenty of that.

What's surprising is the amount of opposition that we are getting from those who are supposedly on our side.

This is from 2006:

With the 2006 midterm elections nearing and the Republicans receiving record-low approval ratings from the American public, companies and business groups are reaching out to opposition leaders in anticipation of a possible Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives, or even a Democratic sweep of Congress for the first time in 14 years.

The good news for the business as usual folks is that it's working. It looks like a lot of Democrats have no problem whoring for the lobbyists.

The House and Senate approved a $3.5-trillion federal budget outline Wednesday that embraces, in general terms, Obama's top priorities in healthcare, energy and education. But lawmakers have turned a cold shoulder to many of the president's proposals to shift wealth and federal subsidies from the rich to the less affluent.

That's right, too many congressional Democrats are spreading their legs for Big Business and the rich while giving the finger to the working class.

What I find as the most egregious breach of trust by some Democrats is:

Some Democrats even defected from Obama when it came to taxing the wealthiest Americans through the estate tax.

You've heard of the estate tax, the Right calls it the "Death Tax" and says it's the evil government's attempt to tax a person for dying. Like most things the Right claims, this is just pure BS.

The estate tax actually only applies to .025% of us, I guess "of them" would be more accurate. That's .025% of the wealthiest in this country. In fact, 18 of the richest families in the country have been financing the lobbying to do away with the estate tax.

Eighteen families, including the owners of Nordstrom Inc., The Seattle Times Co., Mars Inc., Koch Industries Inc. and Wal-Mart Inc., that stand to save $71.6 billion in taxes are financing lobbying efforts to repeal the estate tax, according to a study by two groups.

Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy, which want to see estate tax rates increased to as high as 60 percent, said the families perpetrated a fraud on ordinary Americans by saying the levy constitutes an unfair "death tax." Only about 0.25 percent of Americans who die this year will leave an estate large enough to be taxed, the groups said.

That's quite a cause that these Democrats are rallying to.

Some Dems tucked their tails between their shaky legs on farm subsidies too.

The congressional budget did not incorporate Obama's proposal to cut off subsidies to farms with sales exceeding $500,000 a year, a move that bowed to the agriculture lobby and influential rural lawmakers, including the Senate Budget Committee's Conrad.

A lot of my relatives around here were farmers and trust me, the money does not go to family farms. It's not often that I agree with the Heritage Foundation. I guess it's true that if you dig through enough crap you might finally find that pony. It's from 2002, but things haven't changed.

These subsidy programs tax working Americans to award millions to millionaires and provide profitable corporate farms with money that has been used to buy out family farms. The current farm bills1 would provide even greater subsidies for large farmers, costing the average household $4,400 over the next 10 years, while facilitating increased consolidation and buyouts in the agricultural industry.2

It's kinda funny that using taxpayer money to do anything to help the working class is such a bad thing while giving this same money to Big Business and the Rich is a noble cause. But then, they can afford to give some of it back to the same politicians who voted to give it to them.

Here's another example of just how dumb some Democrats are:

Meanwhile, middle-class voters face the prospect of losing Obama's "Making Work Pay" tax credit -- of as much as $400 for individuals and $800 for couples -- after 2010.The budget resolution did not make room for a longer extension of the tax break.

Democrats said they had to impose that limit, at least for now, in deference to the worsening budget outlook.

Who do they think is electing them?

Most of us understand that all civilized countries have universal health care, that it works and it's less expensive than the mess that we call health care in this country. The president wants to partly fund it in this country by lowering the deduction for charitable donations to 28% from 33%. Only the rich get the 33% deduction, the rest of us just get the 28% anyway.

Needless to say, the lobbyists are having a fit over this.

Obama has defended the proposal as a matter of equity: Under current law, tax deductions are worth less to middle-class taxpayers than they are to wealthier people. For example, a middle-class bus driver gets only a 28% write-off for a $100 donation; someone in the upper income brackets gets 33% or more for the same donation.

Nonetheless, Obama's proposal is destined to fail, said Roberton Williams, a fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. "It sets up two groups to be the fall guys, and that mobilizes two fairly strong lobbies," he said.

Even the good guys in Congress can't compete with the Lobby Whores.

Today, a proposal to change bankruptcy law and allow bankruptcy judges to cram-down mortgage payments for troubled homeowners failed in the Senate by a vote of 45-51. The provision, which was introduced as an amendment by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), required 60 votes to pass. In recent weeks, support for the measure evaporated in the face of furious lobbying by the banking and mortgage industries. Prior to the vote, Durbin — who this week said that bankers “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill” — took to the floor to decry the banking industry’s influence in the cram-down debate:

On the same subject:

The U.S. Senate could have stepped up to the plate yesterday and passed an amendment to help bankruptcy judges help homeowners. Instead, twelve Democrats joined all the Republicans in the Senate--including those two supposed 'moderates' from Maine that we hear so much about--to defeat the amendment.

Just so you know that Democrat Lobby Whores are not just a figment of my overactive imagination:

Sen. Ben Nelson said Thursday that he will oppose the creation of a government-run health insurance plan as part of a health care overhaul, contrary to the position held by many of his fellow Democrats.

The company Nelson finds himself in is laid out clearly: business, the insurance industry, and Republicans. Of course, this isn’t surprising, considering his campaign donation history. Open Secrets says Nelson received $608,709 from the insurance industry in 2007-2008, making the insurance industry his biggest donor group, more than lawyers and even lobbyists.

And our newest Democrat doesn't seem to understand what the hell is going on. If you want to call yourself a Democrat then you ought to at least try to act like one.

Specter (Pa.) on Thursday voted against a controversial bill that would have rewritten bankruptcy laws — a bill cherished by Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) — just a day after voting against the Democratic-written budget.

It's funny how anything designed to help the working class is termed controversial. Anyway, Democratic leaders are somewhat less than livid. "Aw shucks, he's just being independent".

Democratic leaders said Specter's "no" votes simply confirm his independence.

I think we need new leaders.

To quote a great American, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo Possum 1971