Friday, February 26, 2010

The Job He Was Hired For

First, getting the top brass on-board with an Iraqi withdrawal, then getting them to publicly support gays in the military, now acknowledgement of Gulf War Syndrome.  For as much as far-lefties insist that Obama's a betrayal to liberalism, I've got to give a big SHUT THE FUCK UP to each and every one of them. 

Because it's not just his ability to change the military for the better.  It's not just sane judges or enforcement of regulations or putting smart people in the right places; it's ALL of this stuff.  The President is the head of the Executive Branch.  And as much fault that people place upon him for not being the Chief Congressman, that's not his fricking job.  While he might not have been entirely successful so far in writing and passing liberal legislation, he's a true godsend in the job he was hired for.  That's where it really counts.  Legislatively, things might stay exactly as they are, but in his branch of government, he's already made serious improvements that have real impact.

Some day, I predict that we'll get passed this phase of seeing the president as the leader of Congress, and they'll think we were all insane for wanting to distract this immensely busy job by forcing them to write legislation on top of their already crazy schedule.  While I understand how the president came to fill this role, it was really one of the worst developments in our political system.  There's a reason the Founding Fathers made the president separate from the legislative branch.  I can't believe I'm the only one who seems to remember this.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Obama's Radical Do-Nothing Congress

Since January of last year, Republicans have signaled their intent to oppose anything Obama supports; not only denying him political cover by refusing to vote for his bills, but actively filibustering anything they could get their hands on.  They weren't merely trying to deny Obama political victories; they were banking on Americans rejecting Obama, and would hail them as heroes for stopping his "radical" agenda. 

Basically, they were trying to recreate 1994, when Clinton threw political caution to the wind and took bold steps that proved unpopular; and Republicans reaped benefits by stopping it.  Somehow, it failed to occur to them that Obama might remember 1994 and follow Clinton's later footsteps by avoiding political pitfalls and only pushing for policies he could easily defend.  And rather than 1994, what we're likely to see is 1998; when a hubris-filled Republican Party fought and impeached a popular Democrat and suffered for it on Election Day. 

And so Republicans are betting everything that their Stop Obama agenda will pay big for them in November; and all they'll have to do is connect their opponents to Obama and they're done for.  And they're so high on their own supply that they're going to make it the centerpiece of their campaigns.  Local issues won't matter.  Jobs and the economy will be secondary issues.  It'll be all about Obama and how dangerous he is; all evidence to the contrary.  To suggest that Obama's radical agenda won't be their # 1, 2, and 3 topics is simply unthinkable.  Scaring people is the only thing they know how to do.

We're Gonna Loooooose!!!!!!!

Yet, to hear progressives tell it, this is all a ruse and Republicans planned the entire time to attack Obama's "do-nothing" Congress; which was made possible due to the GOP's obstructionist agenda. on earth could they do that, even if they wanted to?  They'll have spent over two years warning people of the dangers of Obama and his radical agenda, and then...tell people he didn't do anything?  They'll argue that a Democratic Congress wasn't dangerous for America?  That Obama isn't such a scary guy? 

How does that work?  Because if Obama's radical agenda was stopped with a Democratic Congress...why do we need Republicans?  If people feared Obama, they'd think things were doing just fine now.  And sure, the progressives might argue that Republicans will claim that stopping Obama isn't enough, and that we need Republican policies instead.  But it's a little late for that.  Not only have Republicans only made token gestures towards the idea of having an agenda, but that's all they were willing to do because their agenda is so unpopular. 

Besides, we know Republicans will do this because it's exactly what Democrats did in 2006.  The 2005-2006 Congress was definitely a do-nothing Congress; yet progressives will swear that they were a scary bunch who steamrolled Democrats at every turn.  And when pressed to name the scary stuff, all they can do is cite legislation from Bush's first term. 

And the reason the '05-'06 guys didn't do anything was because everything they touched blew up in their faces; which was also why they were voted out.  Not because they didn't do anything, but because nobody liked what they wanted to do.  Attacking Dems for not doing anything won't be much help if they don't have anything decent to offer.

Like It's 1994

Had Republicans wanted to do this right, they would have needed to take my advice early last year and publicly worked with Obama while watering down his bills and slowing everything to a halt.  That way, they'd look like they tried to work with him; but he was just too much of a radical ideologue to work with.  Then, this November, they could point to all the really great ideas they wanted, if only the Dem Congress had been more flexible.  That'd have worked pretty well; had they the brains to pull it off.

But Republicans thought they were looking at 1994 again, so they bet on the wrong horse.  Sure, it might still pay-off, but it's a long shot.  And the more political ads they run reminding everyone how much they hate Obama and stopped him from fulfilling his popular agenda, the more they'll be rejected.  Progressives know that, which is why their worst-case-scenarios insisted that Republicans would somehow flip on a dime and hit the one spot we don't want them to hit: Our lack of accomplishments. 

But they won't.  Republicans will go full-steam-ahead towards the anti-Obama vote, following the same stupid Rove strategy of psyching up the base; and then they'll be screaming bloody murder after their huge victory yet again doesn't materialize.  Republicans are simply not positioned to reach non-crazies because they don't understand why its necessary.  As with too many progressives, Republicans believe in the myth of the sheepish electorate which will follow the boldest, loudest leader.  But sheep get scared by loud noises, so I have no idea what analogy they think they're looking at. 

At a guess, I'm thinking it's whatever analogy they can devise to scare people the most.  It's really one of the few things conservatives and progressives can agree on; along with the impending doom for Dems in November.  But then again, that's what they always say will happen.  Why, oh why won't voters listen to them?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Won't Take Win For an Answer

The economy's improving, Republicans are moving the goalposts back, having realized that maybe November won't be the shoo-in they convinced themselves it would be, so what else can progressives do but bitch about how Republicans always win because the Americans who support Obama and his policies are too stupid to support Obama and his policies?  Sigh. 

Carpetbagger was writing about how Rove is now furiously spinning the positive economic news, in a futile hope of convincing people that Obama's policies aren't to blame for the recovery.  So progressives had no choice other than to spin furiously, in order to find some way of showing how this is bad news for Obama and Democrats, who are too weak to ever fight back.

Here are some highlights from the comments section:
"It may be sad, but it's also dangerous. Unfortunately most American sheeple accept the spin as fact."

"But guess what? Doing this kind of thing works.  When's the last time you saw Congressional Dems "laying the groundwork" or engaging in "preventive rhetoric" months in advance of a goal they wanted to work toward?"

"Obama gave the American public too much credit for being smart, he knew his policy would bring the economy back from the edge, and thought the masses would see this. That was his mistake - having faith in the American people, it is a sad fact that they would rather accept a lie than the truth."

"Democrats need to educate voters so fewer ignorant folks vote for the GOP."
I agree - preemptive spin is needed. Obama seems to be taking it up. Rachel Maddow is too. How to spread the word is the problem - but the Dems seem incapable of propaganda.
And mind you, these weren't random quotes I cherrypicked.  These were from the first five comments on a post which had a positive message for Democrats.  It's all about how stupid Americans are and how sucky Democrats are for not being able to convince them of anything, even though polls continually show that people support Obama and his policies, and still remember that Bush was to blame for our economic woes.
And that's the thing: Republicans did this in the 90's, when they tried to give credit for Clinton's economy to Bush Sr.  And they did it in the 2000's when they tried to blame Clinton for Bush's economy.  And they're doing it now.  The only thing is: It didn't work then and it's not working now.  People credit Clinton for the good and blame Bush for both recessions he caused, and the only people who don't realize that are conservtaives and the progressives who insist that Democrats are weak and always lose.
And so they see good news from a liberal blogger and immediately have to pee on everyone's parade.  Not because they're too blind to understand poll results, but because it damages their egos to realize that their naysaying input is no longer needed.  In a world where a moderate-liberal black man can become president, these people need a Karl Rove to foil our victories.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Worse Than Snoop Dogg's Chronic

Is there more evidence needed to show that the War on Pot is entirely stupid than the fact that they're banning a substance solely because its effects are similar to marijuana?  I could understand if they were doing it because it was highly addictive or proven to cause cancer or had some other side effect of booze or tobacco.  But banning it solely because its high is similar to the high of a banned substance?  They're not even going to try to find any other rationale?  Pathetic.

The only research the article cites is that the DEA claims it has minor ill effects in mice and an EU study which says that differing brands have different amounts of the active ingredient and they're not sure how many Europeans use it.  Well geez, better stamp that out immediately.  The article even cites the dangers of ten-year-olds buying the stuff at headshops, as if the only possible way of preventing that is to send people to prison for possessing it.  You know, for kids.

My favorite quote is from a Missouri Democrat wanting to ban the stuff who said "This isn't Jerry Garcia's marijuana."  Is this an admission that he's had Jerry Garcia's weed? If not, how the hell does he know if it's any different?  And does this mean he approves of marijuana, as long as it's Jerry Garcia's?  And really, what's the world coming to when anti-drug politicians cite Jerry Garcia's drug use in a positive way? It's like they're not even trying anymore.  What's next, Elvis as an example of healthy pill addiction?

More likely, he's just using the same "marijuana is scarier now" meme we keep hearing from people who smoked pot without ill effect, but now want to arrest people for doing what they used to do; using Garcia as a code word to assure everyone that he's still hip.  Eventually, someone's going to ask him if it's ok to legalize pot, as long as it's comparable to the pot of the 60's and he will have that man arrested.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cheney the Super-Villain

Just as Republicans like to attribute super-villain characteristics to terrorists in order to make them scarier than mere humans (and therefore needing special treatment that Democrats can't possibly provide), progressives often attribute super-genius characteristics to Republican villains.  And even now, with Dick Cheney relegated to loathsome bozo-status by all but the lightweight media which still perceives him as a heavyweight, we're assured that Cheney is evil as ever; even in retirement.

And so I'm reading about how we just captured a hugely important Taliban guy last week, but kept it silent in order to aid intel activities.  And in the meantime, conservatives like Dick Cheney pounded Obama on this sort of issue, while the Obama people kept silent.  And now that it comes out, Obama looks good while the Cheneys look like even bigger bozos than before.  Yea Obama!

But somehow, that's just not how some progressives see it, and we end up with ridiculous claims of triple-reverse ju-jitsu on Cheney's behalf, like this one:
My money has it that Cheney wanted Biden to prematurely announce this as a desperate defense against his assault. The GOP would then turn this around to show how team Obama was more interested in politics. I'm sure Cheney has enough eyes in our intel agencies that he was well informed.
Of course.  Cheney the Super-Villain is illegally obtaining classified intel from intel agencies that didn't even want to help the guy when he was in the Whitehouse, and now he's screwing with Democrats by making himself look like a bozo in the hopes that they release the classified intel he already received illegally, simply so he can accuse them of releasing classified intel for political reasons; even though that would have made Cheney look stupid immediately, rather than the delayed stupid-look he's getting now.

Or, more likely, Dick was talking out of his ass yet again, not realizing that reality would quickly call his bluff and expose him as being wrong yet again.  Sure, that's the obvious explanation which makes TONS more sense, but when a super-villain is needed to scare us into comformity, obvious explanations need not apply.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Fact: Good Candidates Beat Bad Candidates

A loyal reader responded to my last post on the logic of why people might blame Dems in November, and that brought up a point I had already thought of making.  And that's that it needs to be remembered that politics is largely a personality contest. 

People might rationalize their choice with issue-oriented rationales, and they probably believe those issues to be the salient ones; yet all the same, their choices are more governed by their personal likes and dislikes.  It's a fact that attractive candidates are more likely to beat less attractive candidates, particularly if they're charismatic.  And while many want to sift through the tea leaves of the Massachusetts special election to determine how things will play out in November, I definitely lean towards Steve Benen's explanation

Here's a brief recap:
In the forty days before the election, Brown held sixty-six campaign events, while Coakley held nineteen.  That's dumb.  Even dumber: Coakley pulled a Ned Lamont and went on vacation after the primary; assuming the general election to be an after-thought to winning the primary.  Brown was more likable and more charismatic than Coakley.  Coakley said stupid things, like that there "no terrorists in Afghanistan" and insulted a Red Sox legend; and then got distracted trying to correct these stupid things.  Coakley didn't have any decent op-research on Brown.  And overall, she ran a crappy campaign, while Brown campaigned well.

And that, to me, explains a lot more than to imagine that Massachusetts suddenly lost it's mind.  And look, Obama was more likable than McCain.  Bush more than Kerry or Gore (or so people thought).  Clinton more than Dole or Bush Sr.  Bush more than Dukakis.  Reagan over Mondale or Carter.  Carter over Ford.  Even Nixon was the "new Nixon," a more likable version of the old bastard; while his opponents sucked.

You get the point.  Show me the election in which the lousy candidate beats the better candidate and I'll stand correced, but it just doesn't happen. Like it or not, elections are personality contests.

Not Enough Data

And the main thing we need to avoid in all this is allowing too little data to "confirm" what we already imagined we were seeing.  Conservatives were looking for a political uprising against Obama which opinion polls don't reflect, while liberals were feeling down in the dumps because the Obama Era wasn't the kick ass time they thought it would be, and now they're getting some confirmation suggesting that perhaps conservatives are correct about the ground swell.

But you simply can't look at one or two elections to determine a movement, as there just aren't enough datapoints to lead to any conclusions.  Even general elections can be misinterpreted, as I believe the 1994 election was.  But at least they indicate some trend, even if we're not sure exactly how to read that trend at the time.  But a handful of elections is meaningless, because there are simply too many variables.  That's why we use the hundreds of elections on general elections to see trends, while history ignores special election results.

And if special elections are important, I'd say the more important one was the New York special election in which the Dem took a Republican seat against the Tea Party candidate.  In that case, the Tea Partier had the momentum, lots of cash, and the Dem wasn't particularly great; yet the seat went Dem.  But if you showed me pictures of Brown and Coakley and told me that Brown is out campaigning while Coakley is twiddling her thumbs, screwing up, and (gulp!) vacationing; I'd tell you that Brown would win, regardless of trend or party. 

So maybe Brown's victory is an indicator of things to come in November, but polls certainly don't reflect that at all.  While I'd feel better if Dems were doing better than they were, they're still doing better than Republicans.  And that means a lot more than one election in Massachusetts.  After all, polls are actually a better indicator of public opinion than elections are. 

Counter-Intuitive Republican Strategies

Here's something I can't wrap my brain around:
Progressives insist that Republicans will be rewarded in November if they prevent Democrats from giving them the policies they wanted.  So people would prefer a Republican agenda they didn't want over a Democratic agenda they couldn't get.

Huh?  This makes sense to someone?  Since when have obstructionists been rewarded for obstructing a popular agenda?  I understand why this would prevent Dems from being popular.  I just don't see why it's assumed that Republicans will reap any benefits from this.

And yeah, I get part of what they're saying.  Many people don't follow politics and might not understand how the Republicans are stopping the Democrats.  But if they want our agenda, why wouldn't they just put more Dems in Congress?  And whenever progressives talk about copying Bush's "No Holds Barred" approach to politics and I point out how completely loathed Bush and Republicans became from those strategies, they assure me that it was the Republican policies that are to blame, because people didn't want these policies.  So it's obvious that they don't just want any policies, but our policies.  So again, why would voters put Republicans back in charge if they prefer Democratic policies?

And these progressives might argue that people are too ignorant to know why Republicans are to blame for this problem, yet, is there any doubt that Republicans, in the midst of yet another hubris-stupor, will loudly advertise to everyone that they were the ones who stopped Obama?  Of course they will.  They'll make the same stupid mistake these progressives are making and imagine that they'll be rewarded for stopping an agenda that people wanted. 

And rather than making sensible alternatives to the Dem policies they stopped, they'll double-down on the stupid and insist that you need to elect them in order to stop Obama...who is still far more popular than any other politician in the country, Republican or Democrat.

All or Nothing

Huh?  How is that supposed to work?  Because I'm just not getting any of this.  There's no logic here.  This is contradictory drivel that only appears to be savvy politics by those who still believe, for reasons I can't comprehend, that Republicans are political geniuses and we're all just pawns in their game.  Because, yeah, I do think Republicans have somehow imagined that they could gain if they spend all their time throwing poop at Obama.  And who knows, polls show this all to still be a crapshoot in November.  Maybe Republicans will benefit from all this.

But that's the problem: Republicans haven't just double-downed on their anti-Obama strategy, but they've gone All-or-Nothing and burned any bridge they might need for a retreat.  They've bet EVERYTHING on stopping Obama, yet...polls aren't favoring them.  They've got less than nine months to make epic gains in both houses of Congress, yet there is no public tide favoring them.  They gave everything they've got, and might not win any new seats in the mid-terms.  For all the GOP's efforts, Dems aren't hugely popular, but they're still a little more popular than Republicans.

This isn't genius; it's completely stupid.  Sure, maybe people who want Democratic policies will be upset at Democrats for not giving to them and will replace them with Republicans who brag about stopping Democratic policies and don't offer anything comparable; or...maybe not.  And seeing as how many of these same progressives were assuring us that we'd lose the last two elections, and STILL act like we lost those elections, I recommend ignoring such people as much as possible. 

These people aren't intereted in victory.  They're intersted in ramming things down Republican throats and finally getting the payback they believe they're due.  I assert that without political opposition, these people wouldn't be political. 

Saturday, February 13, 2010

To The Moon, Obama!

I've done it.  I'm a Facebook dweeb.  I post there regularly.  I reply to other people's posts.  And I now have more friends on Facebook than I've ever had in real life; a definite sign of loserhood, if you ask me.  But anyway, I posted a decent response to one of my "friends" complaining about something they read in a Charles Krauthammer column criticizing Obama's decision to cancel Bush's stupid moon mission.  I thought I'd share it with you.  Enjoy!

Our space program has always been a joke; akin to early sailors who never left the coastline and imagined themselves to be great merely for getting past the big waves. Sure, getting to the moon was a huge achievement, but it was stupidly ahead of it's time. Purposelessly so.

So we sent some dudes there to look at rocks. And? That was a pointless PR endevour. Cool? Yes. Lasting achievement? No. The truth is that from a technological perspective, we're many decades away from doing anything real with the moon and anyone who tells you differently is selling something. And the moon isn't real space travel. I want Star Trek, guys. I want REAL space exploration. And sending a few dudes to the moon at huge cost and risk is just stupid. We only went there because we hated the commies and we stopped going because the commies realized what a stupid, pointless achievement it was.

None of this is to suggest that I don't like space travel. I LOVE it. Hell, I'd give your left nut to go into orbit and I'd give both of them to get to Mars. But until we make some real technological breakthroughs, we're just dumb sailors who can't build ships good enough to cross a small lake. And while those breakthroughs would happen a lot sooner if we really pushed for it, we've got more pressing needs. I said that when Bush announced his pie-in-the-sky moon plan which he wouldn't fund properly and I say it now. We're just not ready for real space travel and going to the moon serves no other purpose than to do something cool.

Beyond that, Charles Krauthammer is a brainless hack and you should be ashamed for ever linking to him. Surely you could have found someone whose intent wasn't to unfairly smear Obama. Bush's moon program was over-budget, wasn't scheduled to work for many years, and might never have been feasible. Obama isn't to blame for our lack of space travel and his shift from lofty PR missions to more realistic space goals has been praised by many. Krauthammer will have you believe that Obama somehow cancelled active space travel (he didn't); while failing to mention that Obama increased NASA's budget. What a hack.

For a more informed view of where things stand on space travel, I recommend Bad Astronomy:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Agnostic Truthers Asking Questions

We're all idiots.  Simpleton dummies who don't know what words mean.  That's all that can be construed from anyone who says things like:
I don't have all of the evidence there, Glenn.  I think some very good questions have been raised. In that regard there's some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence there.
That was Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina talking to Glenn Beck about whether she thinks the government was involved in 9/11.  And this is total horseshit.  I mean, I have no idea whether she actually believes that the government was involved or if she's just trying to impress the folks who do, but it's obvious that she's playing a simpleton's game with words here and imagines we're all too stupid to see it. 

Because people just don't talk this way normally, even about things they're not sure about.  Like me, I'm agnostic on religion.  I don't know if there are any gods or any sort of real system that puts this all together.  And so I just say that I don't know.  I abstain from making a judgment on the matter.  I find religious discussions to be extremely interesting, but only from an academic standpoint and really won't commit myself to any of it.  Because I simply can't make judgments about things that aren't knowable.

But that's not what Medina did.  For as much as she's pretending to be keeping an open-mind about it all, she's clearly not agnostic on the subject.  Because she not only is willing to entertain these questions, but thinks they're good questions.  And that there are "very good" arguments supporting it.  And she outright states that there's evidence supporting the position.  And that's not agnosticism, folks.  That's statement of belief. 

And trying to hide behind the guise of open-minded questions doesn't fool anyone.  I mean, if I suggested that there were good questions which suggest the existence of God, I'm not agnostic.  And if I think there is evidence of God's existence, I'm a believer.  There's just no two ways about it.  Anyone who suggests otherwise is selling something.

Answering the Questions

And sure, I'll entertain questions about whether the government was involved in 9/11, just as I'll entertain questions about the existence of gods.  But only from an academic perspective.  And once the hypothetical debate is over, I'll go back to not knowing about the existence of gods and think it's batshit crazy that anyone might imagine a government which wanted an excuse to attack Iraq would do so by attacking its own citizens and blaming it on people with no connection to Iraq.  That'd be like if Hitler burned down the Reichstag and pinned it on the Americans as an excuse to attack anti-American communists. 

I mean, if attacking Saddam was the purpose of 9/11, they would have pinned it on Saddam.  Duh!  But instead, they wasted large amounts of credibility in vain attempts to connect Saddam to the attacks; which would have been unnecessary if they had planned the attacks.  And so yeah, sure, maybe there are questions we can't answer about 9/11 (though I've generally found that many of these questions have been answered, which the questioners refuse to accept), but until they can answer the question of why we pinned it on Al Qaeda when Iraq and Iran were our targets, I don't see how they have any questions to stand on.

And hey, if the 9/11 Truthers insist that Cheney works in mysterious ways and all this can only be accepted on faith, I guess I'll just have to become outright agnostic on the issue.  After all, logic's all I've got and if you insist it's not good enough, then I'm not going to fight you.  But if they expect us to think they've got reasonable questions, they've got to act reasonable.  And that means they've got a lot of answers to give too.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Small Stories for Small Minds

The AP just published a 461-word piece which essentially said: Associated Press writer Nancy Benac is an idiot.  It was titled Obama, Palin trade telling jibes over crib sheets, which can be summed as: Republicans attack Obama for using a teleprompter, Democrats attack Palin for writing notes on her hand, and this is important because "small things take on big meaning when they become emblematic of larger truths."

Her other evidence of this is that the media made a big deal about John Edwards' hair and Joe the Plumber.  Are we to imagine that other politicians don't have their hair done by professionals?  Or that Joe the Plumber really was an average Joe looking for answers, rather than a typical conservative moron who tried to embarrass Obama by his own lack of intelligence?  Perhaps Palin has Joe cut her hair and do her cribsheets as a testament to her averageness.

Because I've got a better theory about why these small things are imporant: Because reporters are small-minded twits who abhor larger truths.  They focus on these little things because that's all they see.  And they'd rather talk about teleprompter attacks and palm smackdowns because it's far more interesting to them than healthcare policies and the economy; and they wouldn't even be interested in politics at all, were it not the top beat in their profession.  And if celebrity news could get them the street cred they desire, they'd be walking the streets of Hollywood looking for dirt and would leave D.C. the hell alone.

So we're stuck with stories about personal attacks, in which it's now considered "out of touch" to use teleprompters, and where Obama's use of a telepromter to give speeches is the same as Palin needing a cheatsheet to remember her core beliefs.  And the fact that Obama has left no doubts that he's extremely brilliant even without a teleprompter couldn't be included in the article at all.

Why Does Congressman Ryan Love Obama So Much?

My Informal Logic teacher from college (who I owe a great debt of gratitude for making me the brain I am today) once said that it's a fallacy to argue that your plans shouldn't be attacked if the attacker can't come up with a better plan; as a bad plan is bad, even if the alternative is worse.  And that was one area of disagreement I had with him, as I've always found that, no matter how flawed a plan is, if the alternative is worse, then the flawed plan obviously isn't so flawed.  After all, it's easy to criticize a bad solution to a tough problem if you don't have to bother solving it yourself.

And that's one big reason Republicans find it so easy to attack Democrats: They don't have to offer a plan of their own.  They just bash the Democrat's plan while pointing to a mythical plan that is supposedly located in the room behind them; if only Obama would agree to do it, sight unseen.  And I'm confident that they truly believe they've got some great answer to all our problems, but won't actually bother mentioning what it is because it's not relevant to their attacks on Obama's solutions.  But of course, the reality is that it's easy for them to criticize Obama's plan, as long as they don't need to talk about the alternative. seems many Congressional Republicans are getting high on their own supply, as one of them actually got around to proposing an alternative budget to Obama's, and what do you know, it's a giant pinata, just begging to be busted open for Democrats to grab the goodies.  Because yeah, sure, Obama's budget is flawed.  It's not what we want.  It's far from ideal and it's easy to attack.  But once Republicans explain to us what the alternative is, Obama's budget looks golden by comparison.

And geez, I'm not sure Republicans could have made a worse budget.  I mean, privatizing Social Security while replacing Medicare with vouchers?  Holy turdball, why not include a 500% tax on apple pies and really piss people off.  Even their patron saint Reagan knew better than to screw with these programs, and he ran on a platform of destroying them.  And privatization was one of the big things that derailed Bush and essentially made their party headless.

Then, to add insult to injury, he's apparently ending corporate taxation and shifting the burden to the People.  Yeah, that'll win a lot of votes come November.  Oh, and does it need to be mentioned that only large corporations pay the corporate tax, so all the small businesses that do more to add jobs won't get any benefit from this?  Perhaps some day someone will explain to them that the Capital Gains tax cuts only help people who sell their assets; and doesn't give any direct benefit to those who buy stocks or investment property.  And once again, we're assured that there are tons of wealthy people just sitting on tons of money they'd like to invest, if only they got to keep a bit more of their earnings.

And yeah, this budget couldn't have been a bigger gift to Democrats unless it included a ban on puppies and kittens.  Not only does it give them a strong club to beat Republicans with, but it makes Obama's budget look better in comparison.  And fortunately, attacking Republicans for trying to destroy Social Security and Medicare is a time-worn tradition with them; made even better now that Republicans have ranted about how awesome Medicare is.  I can only hope that Ryan keeps his budget out there as long as possible, so each Dem gets a turn taking a whack at it.

So thank you, Congressman Ryan, for explaining to the American people how, despite the flaws inherent in Obama's budget, it's the best option we've got.  Now we just have to help him get that message out.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mocking Conservatives Hurts Liberalism

And speaking of loser progressives who think we lose no matter what we do, what is up with the belief that we lose when we mock Sarah Palin?  Apparently, it now makes people more credible if you make fun of them for being stupid, as evidenced by comments made after White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs wrote a list on his hand to get a few laughs from the media.  And while most liberals were amused by it, we were still treated to the same loser liberals who insist that this hurts us.

Here's a sample:
"No, Gibbs is the one jumping the shark by giving Palin attention and thus credibility. I'd much rather they start calling her the leader of the Republican Party like they did Rush Limbaugh."

"This is so sad. Gibbs should use his precious air-time to present and defend the Administration's policy agenda as best he can and to respond to GOPers' talking points, not to poke fun at a politician however stupid she is, which is the job of political columnists, bloggers and political comedians."

"This just feeds into Sarah's "I'm a victim" and "They're afraid of me" schtick. She's best ignored."

"It was a mistake for gibbs to make fun of palin publicly. The entire administration seems to be tone deaf about the mood of the country. Not only was it undignified for someone from the president's office to make fun of her, or anyone, but taking on a popular figure like palin in such a childish way won't improve the Dems' image among any group. They should leave the snark to Stewart, Colbert, and The Onion."

"This is a waste of everyones time. Focus on the reason and direction of where the WH is headed. Leave the party of NO with their talking points."

"Gibbs poking Palin with a stick doesn't move any agenda forward. He isn't using his little bit of media time for constructive use (unless he can lump it in the same breath so it can't be made into a sound bite). And trying to rebuff the noise machine is also a waste of time. The majority is supposed to LEAD, not respond to all the fake issues."
Yes, apparently things are so dire for us that Gibbs can't take thirty seconds in a one hour press conference to make a joke on a topic that everyone's joking about.  Not only is this unnecessary, but it's somehow detrimental to us.  As if America would all be hyped up about getting healthcare reform passed, if only Gibbs had mentioned that instead of his palm list.  And yes, someone actually suggested that Palin was "popular," which is why we shouldn't mock her.

And hey, I understand that there are different people in this world with different priorities, but why do these people insist upon lecturing us if we're obviously the dummies?  I could understand if Gibbs was mocking some smalltime blogger like Erick Erickson, but a sizeable chunk of the media seems to think Palin might be our next president.  It never hurts to get them laughing at her.

Republicans Always Win

Back in the day, Karl Rove was considered by many to be some sort of political mastermind; a man so clever that he could devise strategies in which you already lost before he even implemented them.  And as I've always argued, Rove was little more than a thug in a suit. 

For as much as he strategized and schemed, it was only his insults and dirty tricks that did any good; while the strategies often blew up in his face.  And now the dude is resigned to hack political analysis in which he accuses everyone else of doing what everyone already knows he did, and outside the world of conservative hackdom, he's as untouchable as poo on a stick.

And I assumed that this fear of Republicans would die once Rove was gone.  But no, apparantly it wasn't Rove that these people feared; but any sort of hope that we might possibly win.  And so no matter what the political story is, they'll assure you that Democrats suck and will lose again, even after they've won.

The Shakey Liberals

And here's a case in point: The Shelby Shakedown; in which a desperate conservative senator completely overplayed his hand and gave Dems a stick to beat Republicans with.  When this story came out, we were assured by progressives that Democrats would lose because we suck. 

As one commenter stated:
Dems are really lousy spinners and this will somehow be turned on it's ear and become Obama's fault for attempting to cut waste fraud and abuse from the huge republican created deficits the Republicans are so worried about.

And another:
How many of you folks want to make a bet on the number of "senior" Democrats who will get on the air on TV and say something about this and get mad?  My guess is "0".
And another:
Reid will be out there worrying himself to death again. Obama will have some elegant, but totally detached rhetoric against it, I'm sure.
But of course, in reality, the Whitehouse did respond sharply; as did Reid's office.  And it was reported in the media.  Yet even on a post which cited multiple attacks on Shelby, we were assured that Democrats were going to lose because, "as usual," they couldn't get their message out. 

Like this commenter:
I am so over my parties inability to govern. Calling out the opposing party and getting that message out is a part of governing and we are failing miserably....The 'megaphone gap' is our own damn fault.
And yes, he wrote that on a post which cited multiple senior level Democrats calling out Shelby and using it as a club against Republican obstructionism; as reported in the NY Times.  And when I pointed that out, I was assured that these Dems just weren't important enough and that Obama himself was going to have to attack Shelby directly for this to have any effect.

And here we are, a mere five days after the story inititally broke (which included a weekend), and Shelby has already retracted his hold and is now lying about what transpired.  And so you'd think that people might actually give Dems a little credit for doing what they should have done and you'd be wrong.  While most commenters knew at least to ignore this story, we still got comments like:
I disagree. The Republican strategy has always been to throw everything against the wall and see what sticks. If Shelby had been successful, he'd have successfully derailed Obama's ability to make nominations with an absolute minimum effort.

That is not progress for the Democrats. The fact that the Democrats might be patting themselves on the back for this is evidence that the Republican strategy is working just fine.
That's right, even in a story in which a Republican got called out and embarrassed for his actions, forcing him to lie about what he did to cover his own ass, Democrats lose.  And if they even think they won, it's even worse for them.  We fell for their trap, yet again, as evidenced by the fact that Shelby didn't resign or shoot himself on the Senate floor...or something.

Dems Win Too

And what's maddening is that, yes, I understand the reasoning behind what they're saying.  Yes, Republicans are tricky bastards and you can lose simply by playing the game.  But that doesn't mean this is always happening.  Republicans aren't always winning.  In fact, I daresay that they lose far more than they win.  Yes, they're loud and proud, and no, they don't admit defeat or slink off into disgrace.  Shelby isn't going to suffer greatly from this and after a few days, everyone will forget that this even happened and some Democrats will insist it never does.

But all the same, we won and they lost.  And we won because we hit Shelby for his stupid move and the media reported it.  Did they report it as much as they should have?  No.  But it did get reported and we won.  And this is generally par for the course.  Democrats actually have many of these little victories.  And for as much as we're assured that they always lose, history shows we win big victories too.

And the reason these people insist that we always lose is because it gives them an excuse to be cynical and abstain from playing the game.  It's much easier to sit on the sidelines criticizing everyone, than getting involved and trying to win.  And for as much as they insist that Dems are weak for not attacking Republicans more, it is obvious that their real targets are Democrats. 

Apparently, these people won't be satisfied until the Republican Party dissolves itself and the entire progressive agenda is implemented until the end of time.  Anything short of that is total defeat and you're a fool for not seeing that.

Study: Unhealthy People Live Unhealthy Lifestyles

God, I can't wait for the day when health researchers' licenses can be revoked.  The Headline: Sugary soft drinks linked to pancreatic cancer: study.  The Proof: People who drink soda, who also happened to be "younger men who smoke, drink alcohol, eat higher-calorie diets and are less physically active" are at a higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer. 

In other words, soda drinkers in Singapore are an entirely different group of people than non-soda drinkers in Singapore, and are more likely to do many other things considered to be unhealthy.  Oh, and soda drinkers were also more likely to eat red meat; which has been linked to pancreatic cancer.  But don't worry, they "adjusted" for these other factors; so they can assure us it's just the sugar that did it, though they can't explain why or even tell us how much more at risk we are for drinking soda.

And of course, this sort of study is utter crap.  The very fact that they adjusted out the smoking, drinking, fatty, lazy, and red meat eating attributes in these people in order to focus on soda is proof positive that this is all they were looking for.  They designed their study so it would find that soda increased pancreatic cancer, and whooptidoo!  They found what they were looking for.  This sort of research is sheer blasphemy to true science, and shouldn't even pass muster at a high school science fair; let alone being blasted to the world as fact.

And seriously, two or more sodas a week?  Are they shitting me?  People who only drink two sodas a week shouldn't be grouped with people who drink six sodas a day.  Hell, a Supergulp from 7-11 is eight fucking servings!  And there are plenty of people who drink those on a regular basis.  If soda is a problem, that's the group you ought to seek out.  Those guys should be a fricking death ward if soda causes pancreatic cancer.  But no, they make these categories as broad as possible; not because they're trying to find a link, but because they're trying to scare us out of drinking soda.  After all, they wouldn't have designed their study as they did unless they already knew soda was dangerous.

And it's the same thing they do when they do studies on alcohol which group casual drinkers with alcoholics, or the study on pot smokers that supposedly included people who smoke fifty joints a day; or when they group the mildly overweight (which includes muscle-y people like myself) with the morbidly obese and insist that we're all going to die unless we lose a lot of weight.  Crap.  Just crap.  Any researcher who does this sort of thing should hang up their lab coat and get laid, because they're obviously too obsessed with controlling people's lives to get their job done. 

And when they come back, maybe they can do some real research.  The sort that doesn't involve "adjusting" out all the negative lifestyle choices besides the one that they're focusing on.  And then maybe, just maybe, they can finally get around to warning people about the high levels of saturated fat in milk.  Remember, your recommended daily serving of 2% milk has as much saturated fat as a serving of bacon.  Bacon; and they're still pimping the shit like it's health food.  I think I'll take the fat-free soda, thank you very much.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Football as Political Metaphor

I'm finding it increasingly frustrating to deal with liberals who INSIST that Democrats are losing because we're not getting everything we want.  That, because we're not stomping Republicans into the ground and getting every American to agree with us that Republicans suck, we're losing.  Sure, Obama enjoys majority support and Republican approval ratings haven't topped 40% in over two years; but all the same, Americans aren't listening to us because they're stupid and Republicans are reaping huge benefits from this stupidity...or so we're told.

But in the current political landscape, Republicans have no chance of winning.  It's impossible.  The best they can possibly hope for is to prevent us from scoring as much as they can, and hope that a tight score on Election Day will help put them in a position so that they might be able to score next year.  But this year, they don't even have the ball and can't put any points on the board.

And sure, we haven't gotten our healthcare reform or scored any major victories, but we have scored.  And a team that wins 3-0 still wins.  And it should be obvious from Obama's Q&A with Congressional Repubs last week that they absolutely HATE being labeled as obstructionists and realize that a stalemate doesn't necessarily bode well for them in November.  Almost every question they put to Obama involved them INSISTING that they had great ideas, if only Obama would implement them.  And Obama did an effective job of squashing that absurd theory while embarrassing them in the process.

And these liberals insist that Brown's victory in Massachussetts proves that America is turning against us. isn't the plural of anecdote and one election isn't enough to determine a trend.  That's why we generally look to general elections to see what the people are thinking, as they have a big enough sample size to see where things are heading.  Had Brown's victory occurred during a general election, it would barely have received any notice.  So ironically, it was BECAUSE Brown won on a day that couldn't have shown us a trend that so many decided he was proof of an anti-Dem backlash. 

And so conservatives latched onto that election as proof that they're finally back in the bigtime, while liberals insist that it's 2003 all over again and Dems are huge losers.  And lost in all this is the probability that Brown won because he ran a better campaign and was better liked than his opponent.  Not because it's true, but because it confirmed the expectations and desires of the people watching.  Conservatives are small-minded bozos who need popularity to soothe their easily bruised egos, while liberals like to be underdogs talking truth to power. 

And that's why we're stuck with so many liberals insisting that we're losing in a political landscape that we can't possibly lose in.  Not because we can't stop Republicans from scoring, but because we're not scoring enough.  Somehow, these people just don't feel comfortable with victory.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Tea Party Threatens Republican Party

I just wanted to highlight TPM's recent article 'We Might As Well Be Able To Vote For Disney': Tea Partiers Slam Citizens United Ruling, which is about how many in the Tea Party "movement" are realizing what a lousy development this was for them.  And yes, this is something I predicted twelve days ago, in my post Tea Party Money Becomes Irrelevant

And the reason should be obvious: The Tea Party movement isn't some popular uprising against Obama or the Democrats.  It's a faction of the Republican Party which has existed for decades, but only recently adopted an official name and identity.  But these people have always existed, have always believed roughly what they believe now, and have always hated liberals as much as they hate liberals now; which is the only thing that really defines them.  They're not Big Business Republicans, or Social Conservative Republicans; and don't really have any specific agenda.  They just hate liberals and they've finally found a banner to wave in front of themselves.

And now that the Republican-hype machine has inflated their egos, the faction is splintering off from the Republican Party and claiming a distinct identity.  And for as much as they're identified as being a thorn in Obama's side, it should be obvious that they're really a huge threat to the GOP Establishment.  Just as the Naderites were a threat to Democrats, the Tea Partiers are pulling Republicans apart.  They're sick of being taken for granted and now need to be appeased.  It's all about a quest for power; they've tasted blood and now they want their political party to do their bidding; whatever that happens to be.

And in that light, the Corporate Cash ruling is a huge blow at their position of power.  Right now, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of little Tea Party organizers trying to make a name for themselves within the movement; while the GOP leadership continues to play with fire by building them up without letting them loose.  But these people are generally contrarians and like to imagine that they're free-thinkers, and the more Republicans try to box them into the party, the more they're going to resist.  They're not looking to be cogs in the GOP's machine; each of them wants to be the leader of the movement.  And the more the Republicans try to use them as cogs, the more these people will resist.

As things were, these little Partiers were finding themselves to be important; even being quoted in the media and whatnot.  But an influx of Corporate Cash into politics will drown all that out.  Some of these little guys are already realizing that, and the more impotent this Corporate Cash makes them, the more angry they're going to get.  As evidenced in the New York recently, these people don't care about political victories; they just want to be heard.  They don't want to put Republican leaders in power; they want the power for themselves.  And for as much as Nader lost credibility when he relished in giving Bush the Whitehouse, the Tea Partiers only get more aggressive in defeat. 

If the Republican Establishment's candidate doesn't tell them what they want to hear, they'll find a candidate who will.  These people aren't joing together to storm Obama out of the Whitehouse; as they imagine they are.  They're looking for a party to call their own.  I hope they find it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The House Always Wins

As an official spokesman for Obama's newly created Department of Handling Stupid, I'd like to say in response to this article that Obama truly is committed to having financially strapped families gamble away their mortgage payments in Vegas; and when he said "You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college," he was really trying to emphasize what a good investment the slots are and how there's no better way to save for your child's future than to play Keno.  Keno: Putting Harvard just twenty balls away.

Seriously, when did it become politically incorrect to be sensible?  And yeah, it totally makes sense for federal, state, and local lawmakers in Nevada to blame the state's 13% unemployment rate on a few comments Obama made.  I suppose that's a lot easier than actually doing something about it.