Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for September 24th, 2011

Live from Wall Street/updated

Posted by Charles II on September 24, 2011

This link is running footage from Occupy Wall Street at the moment. Apparently it shifts to wherever there are protests worldwide.

Watch the New York police pen up unresisting protesters, then Mace them without provocation. I hope the city gets sued into bankruptcy over this.

Posted in financial crisis, wrong way to go about it | 3 Comments »

By invitation: a debate on Obama’s handling of the economy in light of political realities

Posted by Charles II on September 24, 2011

I made the following comment (slightly edited for clarity) in a previous thread that I think deserves to be raised for debate.

While I tend to agree that Obama and the Democrats could not have been expected to find the perfect response to the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and have therefore been “muddling through,” there’s a point at which the Democrats lose their “brand.”

“Brand” is particularly important for a party that represents the poor and middle class. The wealthy always have ways to use advertising to create niche products, something like one sees on the cereal aisle, with dozens and dozens of brands made out of two or three main ingredients. Hence there are Christian rightists, libertarians, Tea Party Republicans, country clubbers, etc.– a mix of conflicting ideologies that are glued together by money and a delusion that things were better in a mythical past.

A “people’s party” doesn’t have the luxury of spinning out different brands. It has to rely on extremely simple messaging. Democrats used to understand this. They were the party defending wage pricing power (unions and minimum wage), benefits (Social Security, Medicare), and the unemployed/unemployable (unemployment, Food Stamps, etc.) As long as people know that Democrats will defend the less-wealthy, they are less susceptible to the divisive tactics at which Republicans excel.

From Nixon through Dukakis, Republicans did manage to besmirch the Democratic brand. In response, Democrats created two niche brand– “Blue Dog” and “DLC” Democrats. These are not just marginal brands, useful in only about 20 districts. They are brands that confuse the electorate about what it means to be a Democrat. Republicans often argue that Democrats are the real party of wealth–and they have examples to point to. In 2010, among the top 10 were Kerry, Harman, Rockefeller, Warner, Polis, Lautenberg, and Feinstein. FDR, a wealthy man, was smart enough to understand that he had to make a special effort to demonstrate his bona fides.

I do not believe that the Democrats were somehow prevented from enacting a larger stimulus package in 2009, or even that they didn’t know that they should have. If GDP has fallen by 6% of GDP (roughly $840B), the stimulus package has to be at least that large (realistically, it should be double that). And it has to be real stimulus. Tax cuts, especially at the upper end tend to be saved. The stimulus bill was $787B. $70B was the AMT fix, which is routinely approved, and therefore doesn’t count at all. Some of the other $200B in tax cuts went to people who could be reliably predicted to save/invest it, and therefore doesn’t count as stimulus spending. There are some other provisions which are not particularly stimulative, like Homeland Security spending, but at the very least we know that the stimulus bill was $120B short of a minimal response. The GDP revisions raise that number to $400B.

What’s important to note is that $400B is not actually that much money. If it had been applied sensibly to the mortgage crisis, as I was advocating, there would have been no “Great Recession.” We would have rebounded as sharply as in past recessions.

The Senate can change its rules by majority vote any time it wants to. Given the magnitude of the crisis, given the well-known history of Republican obstructionism, the failure to do so in 2008 ranks as one of the greatest political blunders of modern times.

With 51 votes needed, we could have passed a new New Deal. Obama has to bear responsibility for failing to see this clearly.

Based on this, I assert that the fundamental problem is one of power, not policy per se, and that to address that fundamental issue, the following are asserted:

* There was a critical failure to stand up to the Republicans. Obama and the Democrats have to take responsibility for a serious failure of leadership. Only by accepting responsibility and defining the nature of the failure can they regain credibility.
* The Democrats must return to their roots as the party that supports wages, benefits, and the poor. They must fight for voter rights.
* Democrats have to actively undermine the media by refusing to advertise on any media that are hostile to Democrats.
* Democrats are more than even odds likely to lose the next election, putting Republicans in power in all branches of government. If they lose the election, it is critical that they lose it very loudly as the party that represents the poor and middle class.
* A right-wing regime must be denied even the faintest aura of legitimacy. Having wrecked our economy, denied millions of Americans the vote, and used the judiciary to seize political, they deserve none.
* If Democrats retain control, they must end the abuses of the wealthy by reforming campaign finance, health insurance, taxation, and the minimum wage. The right to unionize, the right to vote, Social Security, the minimum wage, disability insurance, and healthcare have to be made basic human rights.

Please argue your case using specific facts (such as the size of stimulus necessary) that can be accepted or refuted

Posted in economy, Obama Administration, President Obama, Republicans acting badly, rights | 10 Comments »

The Berdoo Boondoggle: Jerry Lewis’ Favorite Airport Fast Becoming National Scandal

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 24, 2011

Even as House Republicans and their media allies are trying and failing to turn the business failure of the Bush-backed Solyndra into a purely Democratic scandal, a real scandal, complete with a convicted felon banned from the aviation world who was somehow allowed to use hundreds of millions of taxpayer money to build an expensive, oversized boondoggle of an airport before skipping town, is unfolding in Rep. Jerry Lewis’ (R-CA) district:

FBI agents and other law enforcement officers raided the San Bernardino International Airport Authority office and storage units as well as a home and offices used by Scot Spencer, a convicted felon who was awarded two no-bid agreements in 2007 to build a commercial airport at the former Norton Air Force Base.

[…]

The cost to build the [San Bernardino, California International] airport — which includes a luxury Million Air corporate jet terminal and a four-gate passenger concourse — has grown from $45 million to $142.5 million in local and federal taxpayer funds.

The FBI would very much like to discuss this with Mr. Spencer, whose home they also raided. But he has gone missing: Bill Ingraham, the airport’s aviation director, said Wednesday that he didn’t know where Mr. Spencer might be, and that he hadn’t talked with him in about a week. Imagine that.

It’s not as questions hadn’t been raised before about Spencer, who had a key role in the second and third demises of Braniff Airlines. But they were as nothing compared to the power of Spencer’s friends, one of whom — Representative Lewis — was the chair of the House Appropriations Committee in 2005 and 2006, when the Berdoo Boondoggle was pushed through.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

A nominee for Republican of the Year

Posted by Charles II on September 24, 2011

Huffington Post:

Rhode Island state Rep. Daniel Gordon (R) was arrested Sunday and charged with driving on a suspended license, according to the Providence Journal. That arrest exposed Gordon’s criminal record in Massachusetts and alerted police to an outstanding warrant he had there in connection with a 2008 police chase.

After House Republicans said Gordon should resign, Middletown Patch reported, the state representative said his problems stemmed from PTSD-fueled alcoholism, a product of his service in the Gulf War. He also claimed he was injured by shrapnel in Baghdad.

Not so much.

The AP obtained Gordon’s military records and discovered that he had never been near a battlefield while serving as a military aircraft technician. Records show he never received the Purple Heart — an award typically given to any service member wounded in a war zone, unless the injury was caused by an accident or friendly fire — contradicting his claims about being injured in Baghdad.

This latest arrest adds to Gordon’s extensive criminal record. He previously spent more than five months locked up on charges of attempted murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and for a assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend.

Heck, this guy is so dysfunctional, they should promote him to where his talents could be more fully used.

Posted in Republicans acting badly | 1 Comment »

 
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