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Rep. Joe Walsh’s weird, bullying, argumentative appearance on Hardball left me a little confused. Actually, Joe Walsh confuses me, and I’m thinking that’s probably intentional. In addition to his, um, spirited defense of the odious cut, cap, mangle bill that passed yesterday, he is pimping a letter to his colleagues encouraging them not, under any circumstances to take the McConnell deal.
Freshman Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh circulated a letter he said was signed by roughly 50 members asking the House GOP leadership to “publicly disavow” the last-ditch debt-limit proposal pitched by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, vowing not to bring it up for a floor vote “in any form.”
So, C&L readers, riddle me this, assuming the following facts:
- Wall Street does not gain anything from a US Bond default. In fact, it will send markets into the tank yet again. While it’s true that bear markets are a time to pick up some bargains, it’s equally true that if the US defaults, we’re going to be looking for bargain bread heels, not stocks.
- Business does not gain anything from a US Bond default. If our bonds are downgraded, interest rates go up, US Treasury bonds become higher-risk investments, rocking the entire bond market. Business won’t be exempt. Their rates go up.
- Rep. Walsh and those others he’s gathering signatures from were heavily funded by Wall Street and still are. Walsh took in a haul in June, much of it from the financial services industry. Paul Ryan is one of their darlings, along with Eric Cantor, John Boehner and Spencer Bacchus. Tea Party candidates weren’t exempt, either. Michelle Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, and Paul Broun all received sizable contributions from the financial sector
With that in mind, what incentive is there for these TeaBirchers to turn on Wall Street? Or flipping the question, what benefit to Wall Street is there in having rogue politicians that they’re funding as recently as June 30th threatening to blow up the US economy?
This is the question I’ve been struggling to answer, and it seems to be one I haven’t seen asked in the mainstream. While everyone is calling the horserace and wondering whether Obama will wreck Social Security, Medicare and the like, no one is asking why on earth Congressmen who Wall Street helped elect would seemingly be biting their master on the ass.
Here are a couple of thoughts I had, but take them for what they are, just thoughts. I’d be interested to hear what yours are on it.
Fulfilling Grover Norquist’s ideal of killing government entirely
There are two things investors consider when buying government bonds. They are essentially making two bets. One bet is on the government’s ability to pay that debt within the maturity of the bond, so whether it is 10 or 30 years, investors are betting that the government will make good on its promise to service its debt and pay it in full throughout the life of the bond. The second bet is political. Investors are hoping that the government doesn’t suddenly change its political and economic system entirely and, as a result, opt out on paying bondholders. When it comes to the US, investors know they are investing in a political system that will remain sound. In Greece, they are buying bonds at a steep discount and speculating that the 50 they paid will one day be worth 65. Political risk has never been in play in the US. Until now.
Is it possible that this is actually an intentional effort to make the US government appear to be unstable, or to destabilize confidence in the US government in order to kill it, a la Norquist’s dream? If it is, then we also have to consider the consequences of such an action from a political standpoint, which would be a scenario where, after destabilizing everything, Republicans claim to be the only ones who can re-stabilize it.
That was a favorite strategy of Jack Abramoff’s after all. Lobby to kill one tribe’s casino so they could get paid by that tribe to reinstate it.
This strategy could also play into the dominionists’ rise in the form of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, who claim to be God-called to ‘save the United States.’
Outright bald, naked, out of control hate for Barack Obama
After all, we do have McConnell claiming their number one goal is to defeat Obama in 2012. Is it really possible they could tank the entire economy for the sole purpose of gaining politically? And if so, it would appear to be backfiring on them in a big way, given the amount of political capital they’ve spent and lost in this battle.
Or maybe, it’s just “how the hell did I get boxed into this corner?”
Here’s how this may play out: The House passes “cut cap and balance” today, it fails in the Senate over the weekend; and by Monday everyone finally realizes that there’s no way the White House and Congressional leaders will ever reach a deal exchanging spending cuts for revenue hikes. At that point, the aide predicts, everyone may throw up their arms and say, “what now?” It’s only then that House Republicans — who got their chance to vote Yes on spending caps and a balanced budget amendment — will realize that they have no choice but to pass the McConnell proposal.
The McConnell proposal is, in my mind, the very worst outcome other than default because (repeat after me) there will be no deal. What needs to happen, and what should happen, is that Republicans peel off their 60 rebellious freshman teenagers, join with Democrats and pass the damn debt ceiling increase clean and pretty.
Here’s one more factor to consider. Some of these vocal freshmen (like Walsh) are about to be redistricted out of office. That makes me wonder if Walsh is just the mouthpiece for what will, in the end, be a losing proposition but serves as a distraction to try and get Democrats and the President to cave.
It bothers me that wingnuts like Walsh are given this kind of time on cable TV without asking these questions. It bothers me that Walsh is still receiving so many Wall Street donations while playing the “blow the whole thing up” game. It bothers me that he and Pat Toomey are both Club for Growth Republicans and threatening to blow it up. It makes me feel like there’s more to the strategy than has been discussed. So start discussing. 🙂
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) on Thursday voiced support for a six-month hike to the debt ceiling.
Conrad, a member of the bipartisan Gang of Six that released a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction package earlier this week, said he’s always preferred an initial short-term hike to the $14.3 trillion ceiling to buy more time for lawmakers to work on legislative language for a broader deal.
“You know, I’ve always believed that there will be first a shorter-term extension. I would prefer one that’s perhaps six months in duration so that you start the process — you begin with a down payment, then you have time for the committees of Congress to come back with a floor package,” Conrad said Thursday on MSNBC. “That’s my own view of how this should work, and I think it’s more in tune with the realities of the magnitude of the task.”
The Gang of Six plan has been met with support from Republican and Democratic senators, though it is uncertain whether it has enough support to pass either chamber. The plan has also received harsh criticism from some politicians on either side of the aisle.
Even supporters of the group’s efforts have said there’s not enough time to move the Gang’s plan through Congress by an Aug. 2 deadline set by the Treasury Department for raising the ceiling. The plan would lower tax rates and eliminate $1 trillion in tax loopholes, something Conrad acknowledged would take time.
“The tax code is not going to be reformed in a matter of weeks — that’s going to take months and months of work,” Conrad continued.
On Wednesday, White House press secretary Jay Carney opened the door to a possible short-term hike, saying President Obama could support one if it were tied to consideration of a broader deficit-reduction package.
Obama previously had warned he would veto a short-term debt hike.
“The only exception to that is in the event that both sides reach a deal on a long-term extension of the debt limit plus significant deficit reduction, and we needed a very short-term extension, like a few days, to allow a bit of extra time for a bill to work its way through the legislative process,” Carney said.
[Karl Rove Tweet:
“Robust package of cuts + smaller debt-ceiling increase buys GOP months to fight for add’l spending cuts & tax reform. http://bit.ly/oD7i8w“]
So can the McConnell plan pass the House? Jed Lewison has the most extensive look at the math I’ve seen yet:
There are currently 432 members of the House (with three vacancies), so you need 217 votes to pass a bill. There are 239 Republicans, so if between 90 and 100 of them have ruled out supporting a “Plan B,” Boehner’s best case scenario is getting about 140 or 150 votes from his conference. That will leave him in the range of 70 to 80 votes shy of raising the debt limit.
Obviously, those 70 to 80 votes must come from Democrats. In April, 81 of them voted for the budget deal compromise with President Obama, but House Democrats are going to be less eager to vote to raise the debt limit than they were to pass a funding bill.
…if Boehner keeps on losing Republicans, there’s going to come a tipping point where loading up the debt limit vote with spending cuts [to win GOPers back] will make it increasingly difficult to win Democratic votes to pass it, because there’s only so many Blue Dogs out there who actually want to cut spending. At the same time, he’ll risk losing Republican and even some Blue Dog votes if he reduces the level of cuts. If and when we reach that point, the question will be whether he is able to deliver votes from members who may be unhappy with the level of spending cuts…If he can’t, the debt limit won’t be raised.
Given the mounting signatures on the Walsh letter, the momentum is moving in exactly the wrong way in the House. That, plus the lack of clarity about where House Dems stand on the McConnell plan, mean it’s becoming increasingly clear that there will have to be a real shift among House Republicans in order for the debt ceiling to be raised. The only way that’s going to happen is if there’s a major “WTF do we do now” moment among House Republicans when they suddenly find themselves peering into the abyss — when they suddenly realize they are about to take the blame for allowing default and cratering the economy.
How will they react when this moment arrives? As Ezra Klein notes, it’s still unknowable: “what no one quite knows is what the House GOP will accept when the clock is one minute from midnight, or, in more pessimistic tellings, the Dow is 1,000 points below whatever it was at the day before.”
This “WTF do we do now” moment can take one of two forms: Either House Republicans agree to new revenues, or they agree to the McConnell proposal. But one of those two things has to happen. And that moment is almost upon us.
House Speaker John Boehner Thursday called for President Obama and congressional leaders to consider “backup strategies” to “solve” the looming default crisis as no path to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling is visible or legislatively viable.
“I think it would be irresponsible on behalf of the Congress and the president not to be looking at backup strategies for how to solve this problem,” Boehner said at a brief news conference at the Capitol. “But in the meantime, the House has acted. We’ve passed our cut, cap, and balance bill. It’s time for the Senate to act.”
(RELATED: Reid Slams House for Taking Weekend Off)
The Senate is scheduled to vote on and expected to defeat the House bill, which seeks an immediate cut in discretionary spending, a cap on future spending and a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution that would limit future government spending to 18 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Senate Democrats will vote to kill the measure, which has also drawn a veto threat.
Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor met with Obama on Wednesday and discussed various options to solve the debt crisis, among them a proposal to increase the debt ceiling until February or March with spending cuts covering the amount of the debt ceiling boost. Sources close to those talks said Obama rejected the GOP leaders’ suggestion, pushing again for a bigger deficit-reduction deal.
(RELATED: House GOP Considers Short-Term Deal)
As to the gravity of the crisis and what Boehner’s attitude is toward the August 2 deadline when the U.S. government will no longer be able to finance all its obligations, Boehner said: “I believe that the Congress must act before August 2nd. And I hope we’re prepared to do that.”
Boehner also reiterated his opposition to raising taxes as part of a deficit-reduction deal and said allowing the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 to expire would amount to a tax increase.
(RELATED: Fact Check: Can Spending Cuts Stick?)
“I believe that would be raising taxes,” Boehner said. “I’ve never voted to raise taxes and I don’t intend to. That would not be my goal in any way, shape or form.”
When asked if a large number of House Republicans would oppose any alternative to cut, cap, and balance as part of a debt ceiling compromise, Boehner sounded uncharacteristically optimistic.
(RELATED: Fed, Wall Street Prepare for Default)
“ I’m sure we’ve got some members who believe that,” Boehner said. “But I do not believe that would be anywhere close to the majority. At the end of the day, we have a responsibility to act.”
As to the consequences America faces if default comes, Boehner said an equally important issue is taming the nation’s debt load in the future.
“If we don’t deal with the size of our debt, our credit rating is going to be downgraded. If the United States of America’s debt rating gets downgraded, every interest rate in America will go up,” Boehner said. “It is important for us to act on both fronts. If we’re serious about getting our economy going again and growing jobs.”
The first few times I heard House Republicans talk about our budget mess, I worried that they had plunged off the deep end. But as I kept on listening, a buzzer went off in my mind, and I came to understand how much sense the Tea Party caucus makes.
Why would we impose “job-crushing taxes” on wealthy Americans just to pay for luxuries like federal prisons? Why end the “carried interest” tax loophole for financiers, just to pay for unemployment benefits — especially when those same selfless tycoons are buying yachts and thus creating jobs for all the rest of us?
Hmmm. The truth is that House Republicans don’t actually go far enough. They should follow the logic of their more visionary members with steps like these:
BONUSES FOR BILLIONAIRES Republicans won’t extend unemployment benefits, even in the worst downturn in 70 years, because that makes people lazy about finding jobs. They’re right: We should be creating incentives for Americans to rise up the food chain by sending hefty checks to every new billionaire. This could be paid for with a tax surcharge on regular working folks. It’s the least we can do.
Likewise, the government should take sterner measures against the persistent jobless. Don’t just let their unemployment benefits expire. Take their homes!
Oh, never mind! Silly me! The banks are already doing that.
LET JOBS TRICKLE DOWN Leftist pundits say that House Republicans don’t have a jobs plan. That’s unfair! Granted, the Republican-sponsored Cut, Cap and Balance Act would eliminate 700,000 jobs in just its first year, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but those analysts are no doubt liberals. America’s richest 400 people own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, and the affluent would feel renewed confidence if the Republican plan passed. We’d see a hiring bonanza. Each of those wealthy people might hire an extra pool attendant. That’s 400 jobs right there!
Cut, Cap and Balance would go even further than the Ryan budget plan in starving the beast of government. Sure, that’ll mean cuts in Social Security, Medicare and other programs, but so what? Who needs food safety? How do we know we really need air traffic control unless we try a day without it?
ROOT OUT SOCIALISM Republicans have been working to end Medicare as we know it but need to examine other reckless entitlements, such as our socialized education system, in which public schools fritter resources on classes like economics and foreign languages. As a former Texas governor, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson, is said to have declared when she opposed the teaching of foreign languages: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it’s good enough for us.”
For that matter, who needs socialized police and fire services? We could slash job-crushing taxes at the local level and simply let the free market take over:
“9-1-1, may I help you?” “Yes, help! My house is burning down!” “Very good, sir. I can offer you one fire engine for $5,995, or two for just $10,000.” “Help! My family’s inside. Send three fire engines! Just hurry!” “Yes, sir. Let me just run your credit card first. And if you require the fire trucks immediately, there’s a 50 percent ‘rush’ surcharge.”
CHILL OUT ABOUT THE DEBT CEILING House Republicans like Michele Bachmann are right: If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, some solution will turn up. As Representative Austin Scott, a Republican from Georgia, observes: “In the end, the sun is going to come up tomorrow.”
We got through the Great Depression, didn’t we? It looked pretty hopeless in 1929, but in just a dozen years World War II bailed us out with an economic stimulus. Something like that’ll come along for us, too. Ya gotta have faith.
CONSIDER ASSET SALES While Democrats are harrumphing about “default,” Republicans have sagely noted that there are alternatives in front of our noses. For example, why raise taxes on hard-pressed managers of hedge funds when the government can sell assets?
Fort Knox alone has 4,600 tons of gold, which I figure is worth around $235 billion. That’s enough to pay our military budget for four months! And selling Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon would buy us time as well.
RENT OUT CONGRESS If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, we could also auction members of Congress for day jobs: Are you a financier who wants someone to flip burgers (steaks?) at your child’s birthday party? Why, here’s Eric Cantor! Many members of Congress already work on behalf of tycoons, and this way the revenue would flow to the Treasury.
Finally, if we risk default, let’s rent out the Capitol for weddings to raise money for the public good. Wouldn’t it be nice to see something positive emerge from the House?
[…] One of the most stunning articles I’ve read recently described the construction of the new east span of San Francisco Bay Bridge by China’s biggest heavy machinery maker. According to the reporter visiting China, “The last four of more than two dozen giant steel modules — each with a roadbed segment about half the size of a football field — will be loaded onto a huge ship and transported 6,500 miles to Oakland. There, they will be assembled to fit into the eastern span of the new Bay Bridge.” “They’ve produced a pretty impressive bridge for us,” said Tony Anziano, a program manager for the California Department of Transportation.
As a country we have to decide what our values are. Do we really want to be a nation that funds our spending spree through the Chinese, who then make our goods and do our work while we go into debt and remain unemployed? Work is more important than saving tax dollars. Jobs are critical. Work, not an unemployment check, is what makes people feel they are worth something.
A key obstacle to a bipartisan budget deal that raises taxes and cuts spending is the belief among conservatives that such deals lock in tax rates while promised cuts never materialize, but an independent budget analysis shows that isn’t the case.
For some students in Minnesota’s Anoka-Hennepin School District, another day at school is more than just another day of classes, tests and extra-curricular activities. It’s another day of relentless harassment from classmates.
Whether in the classroom or the hallways, their day is filled with a torrent of anti-gay slurs. The words are repeatedly hurled at them: “fag,” “queer,” “homo,” “dyke.” Other times, the epithets are a parting shot that follows a shove against a locker, a kick, a choke or a punch.
But in Anoka-Hennepin, when students have appealed to a teacher or principal for help, the adults did little, if anything, to stop the anti-LGBT harassment. They have dispensed advice like “lay low” or “try to stay out of people’s way.” That’s because in Anoka-Hennepin, the district has a gag policy that prevents teachers from standing up for these students and speaking out against the abuses they suffer.
And the bullies know it.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has urged the school district to live up to its responsibility to create a safe learning environment for all of its students and, specifically, to repeal its “Sexual Orientation Curriculum Policy.” This policy has become, in effect, a gag rule for teachers. It not only prevents teachers from openly discussing issues related to LGBT people but makes them reluctant to intervene when students are harassed.
Unfortunately, the school district has refused to take this critical step for protecting its students. That’s why the SPLC and its allies today filed a federal lawsuit seeking to end this policy and the rampant anti-LGBT harassment in Anoka-Hennepin schools.
It’s discouraging that it may take a federal court order for the school district to address concerns that parents and community members have repeatedly raised. Last fall, the SPLC traveled to Minnesota to meet with community members and host a screening of our new Teaching Tolerance documentary, Bullied, in Minneapolis. More than 2,000 people gathered to watch the film, which tells the story of a student who endured anti-LGBT bullying in school. The community’s concern for its students was palpable.
Earlier this year, the SPLC returned to Anoka-Hennepin when changes to a school function at Champlin Park High School threatened to prevent two lesbian students from participating in the event as a couple. The school’s action not only violated the constitutional rights of the two students but sent a dangerous message to their classmates that LGBT students are not welcome in the school community – a message that only emboldens students harassing their LGBT classmates.
The SPLC and its allies filed a lawsuit on behalf of the young women. Less than 24 hours later, a settlement agreement was reached that allowed the students to participate in the event as a couple. It was an encouraging sign that the district was willing to protect the rights of all students – including LGBT students.
After the settlement, we urged the district to take the next logical step to protect all students – repeal the gag policy. Sadly, the district has refused to recognize the obvious. Officials have refused to acknowledge that this policy serves no legitimate educational purpose and that it singles out and stigmatizes a vulnerable minority. And they have refused to recognize that it strips teachers of their ability to protect these students.
The SPLC cannot stand by while these students suffer. That’s why we are taking this action. It’s time to end a dangerous silence that leaves students isolated and vulnerable every single day they attend school.
[That school district is in Michelle Bachmann’s Congressional district.]
[…] In a five-page Statement of Administration Policy, the White House blasted various policy riders as well as the overall funding level for the EPA, which it says would leave the agency “unable to implement its core mission of protecting human health and the environment.”
The laundry list of policy riders the White House opposes includes language preventing the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources, blocking Interior from stopping uranium mining claims near the Grand Canyon and stopping new regulations on mountaintop removal mining.
The administration also criticizes numerous spending cuts to programs as wide-ranging as forest fire suppression, wetlands and wildlife grants and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Several of the riders in the Interior-EPA bill are similar to Republican attempts to block Obama administration policies in the budget debate earlier this year. The vast majority of those riders were left on the cutting room floor when the final continuing resolution was signed.
[…] Mr Steiner warned that an increase in the frequency of natural disasters across the globe could prove a major challenge in the coming decades.
He said recent crises, such as in Somalia, illustrate that “our capacity to handle these kinds of events is proving a challenge, particularly if they occur simultaneously and start affecting, for instance, global food markets, regional food security issues, displacing people, creating refugees across borders”.
His comments came as the Security Council formally debated the environment for the first time in four years, with Germany pressing for the first-ever council statement linking climate change to global peace and security.
Diplomats said there were intense negotiations between Germany and Russia, which initially opposed any council action, before a statement on the issue was agreed to. […]
However US Ambassador Susan Rice said that the council had an “essential responsibility to address the clear-cut peace and security implications of a changing climate” and said all countries should be demanding action.
She also called failed attempts to reach consensus earlier in the day “pathetic” and “shortsighted”.
The final statement expressed “concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security”.
It also requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include information on possible climate change impacts in his regular reports on global trouble-spots.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York announced on Thursday that his main charitable organization would donate $50 million over four years to the Sierra Club’s campaign to shut down coal plants and move the United States toward cleaner sources of energy.
Appearing with the Sierra Club’s executive director, Michael Brune, near a coal plant in Alexandria, Va., Mr. Bloomberg said he hoped that his gift would help the environmental group retire as many as a third of the nation’s oldest coal-fired power plants by 2020. Coal provides nearly half of the nation’s electricity but is also responsible for roughly a third of the country’s output of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering greenhouse gases, as well as millions of tons a year of pollutants that damage human health and the environment.
“If we are going to get serious about reducing our carbon footprint in the United States, we have to get serious about coal,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement. “Coal is a self-inflicted public health risk, polluting the air we breathe, adding mercury to our water and the leading cause of climate disruption.”
How to Stay Cool
The First Lady is teaming with grocers and other retailers to bring affordable, healthy food to underserved communities
The Political Carnival:
The Miami Herald– Florida lawmakers have rejected more than $50 million in federal child-abuse prevention money. The grants were tied to the Obama administration’s health care reform package, which many lawmakers oppose on philosophical grounds.
The money, offered through the federal Affordable Health Care Act passed last year, would have paid, among other things, for a visiting nurse program run by Healthy Families Florida, one of the most successful child-abuse prevention efforts in the nation. Healthy Families’ budget was cut in last year’s spending plan by close to $10 million.
And because the federal Race to the Top educational-reform effort is tied to the child-abuse prevention program that Healthy Families administers, the state may also lose a four-year block grant worth an additional $100 million in federal dollars, records show.
“This is just crazy,” said Gwen Wurm, assistant professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Miami, and a board member of the Our Kids foster care agency. “This is the model for what you want in a prevention program. They have proven results.”
The People’s View:
I must admit, my tolerance level for watching Cenk Uygur’s show on MSNBC is not more than 10 minutes and that is being generous because Cenk is simply a sensationalizing drama queen journalist. I guess his drama and phony acts has caught up with him and have tuned off many viewers where even MSNBC management thinks it is time for Cenk to go from the 6pm time slot. But, here is the icing on the cake. Cenk feels that the White House is behind the coup detat of his reign as a decorated talk show host but of course he can’t produce any evidence of such accusations except manufacture it as usual..
After giving a nearly six-month tryout for the Internet talk show host Cenk Uygur, the cable news channel MSNBC is preparing to instead hand its 6 p.m. time slot to the Rev. Al Sharpton.
There had been uncertainty about the 6 p.m. slot ever since the channel’s marquee anchor, Keith Olbermann, departed in January, prompting Ed Schultz to be moved to 10 p.m. from 6. Suddenly Mr. Uygur, who had been made a paid contributor to MSNBC months earlier, was handed 6 p.m., a big coup given that he had earlier campaigned to have his progressive Web show “The Young Turks” picked up by MSNBC.
He earned solid but not stand-out ratings; in late June the channel’s president, Phil Griffin, decided to try out Mr. Sharpton, and offered Mr. Uygur a new contract that included a weekend show, but not a higher-profile weekday show.
Mr. Uygur, who by most accounts was well liked within MSNBC, said in an interview that he turned down the new contract because he felt Mr. Griffin had been the recipient of political pressure. In April, he said, Mr. Griffin “called me into his office and said that he’d been talking to people in Washington, and that they did not like my tone.” He said he guessed Mr. Griffin was referring to White House officials, though he had no evidence for the assertion. He also said that Mr. Griffin said the channel was part of the “establishment,” and “that you need to act like it.”
I don’t know folks but by now I bet Hamsher would be crying reverse racism that a less qualified black man was given an opportunity out of affirmative action since of course she thinks we the 81% of Democrats are “dumbest motherfuckers“.
Last night on the Young Turks, he said, “I am out at MSNBC. Now, whose decision was this?”. He went on tearing the network about how they claim he hasn’t been playing ball, being so tough on the guests, even how he has been taking advices on limiting his many hand gestures, while in all of this how his ratings has gotten up but how the management and folks in Washington did not like his “tone” as a result MSNBC president Phil Griffin calling him in for a talk to silence him but how he is a “tiger” and a champion for the people who are voiceless standing against “those in power.” Have at it, it is quite amusing to say the least but to get all sides of the story:
Griffin denied that anyone had ever tried to censor Uygur or control the content of his show. He told the New York Times on Wednesday that he had offered Uygur a weekend show, and that the “people in Washington” he had referred to were not people in the government, but MSNBC producers who said Uygur’s feisty attitude was making it hard for them to book guests.
Here is the deal about winning viewers. If you throw a right wing talking point and ridicule Democrats and the President every fucking time, be assured you will be attracting many right wing teabagging viewers. It’s like flies coming out to seek that honey and there are indeed a lot of Republican flies watching someone who is on the relentlessly journey to belittling everything the President and Democrats are trying to do. Which teabaggers would not love to see someone say similar things like “Is Barack Obama Stupid” second guessing every step the President takes and every word that comes out of him at every moment possible even on a liberal cable news such as MSNBC?
Apparently, Cenk’s success is measured by how Right Wing Teabagging viewers he has rather than how many progressive viewers he has gains by reporting the truth about our current affairs and exposing the lies and deceptions of Republican hypocrisy. If the measuring stick for success is the number of the wrong types of views (Ruthugs) based on what seems to be anti-Democratic skewed performance, he might as well be Fox News Channel promoting lies and manufactured outrage full force.
Here is the deal about Cenk. His agenda could not have been any clearer than this when in fact he, like a Right Wing troll said , the President has destroyed the Democrats. He truly believes that in the last two and half years, the President and his administration have been “practicing political unilateral disarmament” of the Democratic Party. This is coming form an ex-Republican with no record of running for a Home Owners Association let alone a political office telling the President how to administer the Office of the Presidency, of course, overlooking the many accomplishments achieved.
Cenk is a passionate manufacturer of outrage journalism who in my opinion is out in the business of self promotion more than looking out for the best interest of ordinary Americans. His methods to drive wage on this Administration using rumor mill, sensationalizing it before confirming if there is any factual evidence for his outrage and when proved to be wrong claiming he made the President do what was never the plan of the Administration is just enough for me to have fired his ass long time ago. Good on MSNBC to have gotten ride of him.
Stephen Colbert has only one explanation why politicians he doesn’t vote for are elected: voter fraud!
Colbert on Wednesday addressed the rise of restrictive voter ID laws around the country, saying they ensure only the right people vote. Take New Hampshire Republican House Speaker Bill O’Brien. Back in March, TPM reported that he wanted to disenfranchise students who “just vote their feelings.”
Colbert wholeheartedly agrees. “College kids lack the life experience to vote,” he said. “It takes years of soul-crushing disappointment to be dead enough inside to elect someone like William O’Brien.”
But maybe the voter ID laws aren’t restrictive enough, Colbert suggested.
“We need something a little more selective than a photo ID,” he said. “These ID laws prove Republican legislators are great judges of who should vote, so let’s just cut out the middle man and let only Republican legislators be voters. That way, we will finally be certain that only the right people get elected.”
A new audit shows that we’ve not properly tracked money sent to Afghanistan and tens of billions of dollars are vulnerable to winding up in the hands of insurgents. The audit says both countries are to blame.
How bad is it? Afghan President Hamid Karzai has barred U.S. government advisers from the Afghan central bank, according to Treasury officials who called the bank a “hostile” environment. Nobody is writing down the serial numbers of the cash flying through customs at Kabul International Airport. And the U.S. is having trouble identifying financial crimes because Afghan officials are reluctant to prosecute.
“U.S. agencies have limited visibility over U.S. cash that enters the Afghan economy — leaving it vulnerable to fraud and diversion to the insurgency,” concluded the Office of Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR.
Afghanistan and the United States are finger-pointing in both directions.
Norman Ornstein, Foreign Policy:
[…]The politics here have unfolded over several weeks, with outrageous statements, confrontation, and an unwillingness — especially on the part of House Republicans — to yield any ground to Obama, with a potential “grand plan” compromise discussed by the president and the speaker undercut by the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and his angry conservative colleagues. It has resulted in a dangerous flirtation with the first breach in the debt limit in the nearly 100 years since the process was first applied, carrying with it the very real threat of economic catastrophe. It is possible, even likely, that there will be a rescue at the 11th hour or beyond to avert disaster. But it is also quite possible that there will be no agreement until it is too late, or an agreement that passes the Senate but fails in the House. Rating agencies, watching the farcical maneuvering, have warned that even if there is a late rescue, they may still downgrade America’s credit rating, making a last-minute deal a Pyrrhic victory.
In my four decades in Washington, I have regularly been asked by diplomats from a range of countries to explain the American political process, and especially the role of Congress. For those from parliamentary systems, especially, Congress is difficult to decipher. Explaining the idea behind a truly independent and powerful legislature, much less a political system, with its checks and balances and separation of powers designed by the framers of the Constitution not to act swiftly and decisively but rather to make it difficult to act swiftly and decisively, has been a challenge. […]
If you doubt that politics in Congress has become more partisan, consider this: For the first time ever, in the 111th Congress that convened during the first two years of the Obama presidency, the National Journal‘s vote ratings showed that the most conservative Democratic senator was to the left of the most liberal Republican. There is now no overlap ideologically at all between the parties. Only nine of the remaining small number of conservative House Democrats (now called “Blue Dogs”) were to the right of the most liberal House Republican. That Republican, Mike Castle of Delaware, was dumped by his party in a primary as he ran for the Senate and is now out of Congress, as are the bulk of the Blue Dogs.
That brings us to the 112th Congress. House Republicans are adamant about refusing to compromise with the president, and are able in most instances to make good on the threat. When they are not able to maintain this unity, they are simply unwilling to bring up or pass measures that would lose significant GOP votes and require as many or more Democrats in support. This is a formula for gridlock, or worse. is the Republicans are simply declining to govern.
We have seen problems emerge on more issues than the fiscal issues now before Congress. For instance, the painful effort to find broad bipartisan support for three significant trade agreements that are clearly in America’s national interest, including its economic and diplomatic interest (and which first had to overcome substantial Democratic opposition), have been thwarted of late by Republicans’ refusal to negotiate with the president over a much more minor issue of implementing trade adjustment assistance.
Political tactics to provoke confrontation, during a time when the permanent campaign reigns supreme and the competition for majorities in both houses is fierce, have combined with the rise of partisan media, one with far more reach and immediacy than the partisan press that thrived in the 19th century. When a phalanx of conservative media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal editorial page to talk radio and blogs, chimes in that breaching America’s debt limit would at worst be benign and at best could actually do the country some good, and are joined by presidential candidates like Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty in those messages, it encourages the confrontationalists to ignore the reality that damaging the full faith and credit of the United States will cause long-lasting economic turmoil at home and abroad.
Partisan and ideological conflict is inherent in democratic political systems, of course, and governing is often a messy process. But this level of dysfunction is not typical. And it is not going away in the near future. The 2012 elections are sure to bring very close margins in both houses of Congress, and even more ideological polarization; the redistricting process now underway in the House is targeting some of the last few Blue Dog Democrats in places like North Carolina and enhancing the role of primary elections on the Republican side, which will pull candidates and representatives even further to the right.
The Framers saw deliberation, institutional loyalty, and compromise as the only way to produce sensible and legitimate policy decisions in an extended republic. Many Republicans, especially former office holders, understand this. Many of the party’s current members surely would prefer to solve problems, if the culture and atmosphere — and the primary process that gives inordinate power to both parties’ ideological bases — did not make it so hard to do so. But there is little chance that a suitable climate for compromise and bipartisanship will take hold anytime soon — meaning that we can look forward to more headaches ahead at home and abroad.
It’s not hard to find signs that President Barack Obama is destined for a single term. Unemployment continues to hover at 9 percent, and a June poll from American Research Group says 39 percent of Americans disapprove of how he has handled the economy, which 71 percent of registered voters say will be “extremely or very important.” When asked whom they’d vote for in the 2012 presidential election, 47 percent said the “Republican Party’s candidate for president,” as opposed to the 39 percent who would support Obama.
Obama isn’t the only incumbent to start a re-election campaign with low approval ratings, but others enjoyed the advantage of a growing economy. Ronald Reagan might not have earned the reputation for political genius he’s been credited with had the economy stalled in 1984 instead of growing at a rapid clip. Likewise, Bill Clinton might not have regained his title as the “comeback kid” if the economy hadn’t begun to supercharge in 1995 and 1996. For Obama, even if the economy grows quickly in 2012, unemployment will still top 8 percent, and per-capita income growth (a major predictor of presidential elections) is projected to stagnate.
Taken together, this is bad news for the White House. Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism.
For starters, Obama is far more popular than he should be under the current conditions. The relationship between presidential approval and unemployment is well established, and with the jobless rate at 9.2 percent, Obama should have approval numbers in the high 30s, on par with George H.W. Bush’s performance in the last year of his term. According to Gallup, however, his job approval for the current quarter (from April to July 19) averages to 47 percent, as does his year-to-date approval rating. Obama maintains high approval ratings among core Democratic constituencies—liberals, African Americans, and the poor—and a plurality of Americans still trust him to do right by the country. On the current budget negotiations, for example, 47 percent say that Obama is “putting the country’s interests first,” compared with 24 percent for Republicans in Congress.
Likewise, a plurality of Americans hold negative views about the Republican Party as a whole, by a margin of 47 percent to 42 percent. This extends to the state level; Republican governors in swing states are deeply unpopular with their constituents. Governor Rick Scott of Florida leads the loser pack with an approval rating of 29 percent—the worst of any governor in the country. Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania follow with approval ratings of 33 percent and 39 percent, respectively. This doesn’t guarantee votes for President Obama, but it could drive Democratic turnout in those states if activists use those unpopular governors to mobilize voters and increase turnout.
Obama’s chief Republican competitors aren’t popular with the public, either. As the moderate former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney is best positioned to challenge Obama in a general election, but in a head-to-head matchup, even he trails Obama. What’s more, if early fundraising is a sign of voter interest and intensity, Obama is far ahead of his Republican competitors. As of last week, the president had raised $85.6 million for his re-election bid—twice as much as the entire Republican field has brought in.
Yes, voters hate the sluggish economy, and they are dissatisfied with the country’s direction. So far, though, that hasn’t translated into personal disdain for the president. Voters are still reluctant to saddle him with responsibility for existing economic conditions. By a 2-to-1 margin, according to a survey released last week by Quinnipiac University, voters still say that President George W. Bush is culpable for the current situation. This also holds true among independent voters—49 percent blame Bush; just 24 percent blame Obama.
It’s easy to say that none of this will matter come October 2012, when the economy is still sluggish and unemployment is still high. If history and political science offer any insight, presidents lose when economic conditions are poor. But today’s political circumstances are unusual. Incumbents have never raised this much money, the electorate has never been this diverse, and—with the exception of the 1930s—the economy has never been this terrible. Political-science models are useful but limited, and we don’t have enough data to make conclusive judgments about the upcoming election.
At this point in the game, even with poor conditions, I’d call the 2012 election for Obama. I’d do so not because of his personal popularity or his massive campaign operation but because of the Republican Party. The GOP has been captured by its most extreme members, and even the most moderate Republican candidate will be forced to kowtow to the party’s far-right wing to win the nomination. As Obama struggles with slow economic growth, the GOP’s fanaticism could be the thing that saves him. High unemployment aside, if the history of presidential politics shows anything, it’s that when you give voters a choice between the incumbent they know and the radicals they don’t, the former will win.
Republican legislators picked up 680 seats in state House and Senate chambers in the 2010 elections.
“They now hold more state legislative seats than at any time since 1928, the year that Herbert Hoover came to the presidency,” says reporter John Nichols. “They control 25 states [with] both houses of the legislature. There are also 21 states where Republicans control both houses of the legislature and the governorship. And in the backroom of politics, that’s what people really want. If you’ve got governor, state House and state Senate, you can pretty much roll through whatever legislation you want.”
Nichols, a political reporter for The Nation, recently wrote the introduction and co-authored two in a series of articles about the relationship that state-based legislators have with a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is a group that brings together state legislators and representatives of corporations to draft model bills that can then be introduced at the state level of government. An archive of ALEC documents was recently leaked to the Center for Media and Democracy.
“All of those pieces of legislation and those resolutions [in the documents] really err toward a goal, and that goal is the advancement of an agenda that seems to be dictated at almost every turn by multinational corporations,” Nichols tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “It’s to clear the way for lower taxes, less regulation, a lot of protection against lawsuits, [and] ALEC is very, very active in [the] opening up of areas via privatization for corporations to make more money, particularly in places you might not usually expect like public education.”
Legislators in ALEC pay a minimal fee to join the group, while corporations pay much more — up to $25,000, Nichols says.
“But once they’re in, they sit at the same table,” he says. “On the board of ALEC, you have an equal number of legislators and corporate members. … They then set up task forces to deal with topics like health care, education, election law, and you have an equal number of legislators and corporate and/or interest groups [and] think tanks in each grouping. They have to agree on any model bill or model resolution.”
Corporate Veto Power
What that means, Nichols says, is that corporations can veto proposals and ideas that aren’t to their liking — and can also propose measures that are then written into model bills. Those model bills, he says, are often introduced in multiple places — creating consistent messages across the country.
“In Tennessee, a newspaper found a bill where the second half of it was verbatim from the ALEC model bill,” Nichols says. “Now that’s not always the case. The legislation will have variations on a theme — it won’t always be verbatim. But the core concepts are there.”
Nichols says ALEC is smart to focus on the state legislation as opposed to national legislation.
“We live at the local and state level. That’s where human beings come into contact more often than not,” he says. “We live today in a country where there’s a Washington obsession, particularly by the media but also by the political class. … And yet, in most areas, it’s not Washington that dictates the outlines, the parameters of our life. … And so if you come in at the state government level, you have a much greater ability to define how you’re going to operate.”
Ed Feulner in an unusual signed personal statement today urges Republicans to force the country into default unless President Obama yields on the outermost conservative demands. In the process, he equates President Obama and the Democrats to the Japanese militarists who bombed Pearl Harbor. I suppose that’s a step up from calling them Nazis.
Feulner’s statement may be reckless and irresponsible, but it is also important and revealing. It truly marks a milestone in this budget debate.
This awesome piece was written by Stephen Marche in last week’s Esquire. It is such a beautiful, loving letter to PBO (even if Marche is not shy of criticizing him), that some RW blogs – which I won’t link to to save my life – mocked it while waiting for their heads to explode. And their heads exploded alright.
Before the fall brings us down, before the election season begins in earnest with all its nastiness and vulgarity, before the next batch of stupid scandals and gaffes, before Sarah Palin tries to convert her movie into reality and Joe Biden resumes his imitation of an embarrassing uncle and Newt and Callista Gingrich [FIG.1] creep us all out, can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph. Whatever happens this fall or next, the summer of 2011 is the summer of Obama.
Due to the specific nature of his political calculus, possibly not a single person in the United States — not even Obama himself — agrees with all of his policies. But even if you disagree with him, even if you hate him, even if you are his enemy, at this point you must admire him. The turning point came that glorious week in the spring when, in the space of a few days, he released his long-form birth certificate, humiliated Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and assassinated Osama bin Laden. The effortlessness of that political triptych — three linked masterpieces demonstrating his total command over intellectual argument, low comedy, and the spectacle of political violence — was so overwhelmingly impressive that it made political geniuses of the recent past like Reagan and Clinton [FIG.2] seem ham-fisted. Formed in the fire of other people’s wars, other people’s financial crises, Obama stepped out of Bush’s shadow that week, almost three years after taking over the presidency.
But even that string of successes cannot fully explain the immensity of his appeal right now. Reagan was able to call upon the classic American mythology of frontiersmen and astronauts and movie stars; Obama has accessed a much wider narrative matrix: He’s mixed and matched Jay-Z with geek with Hawaiian with Kansan with product of Middle America with product of a broken home with local Chicago churchgoer with internationally renowned memoirist with assassin. “I am large, I contain multitudes,” Walt Whitman [FIG.3] wrote, and Obama lives that lyrical prophecy. Christopher Booker’s 2004 book The Seven Basic Plots, a wide-ranging study from the Epic of Gilgamesh on and a surprisingly convincing explanation for why we crave narrative, reduced all stories to a few plots, each with its own kind of hero. Amazingly, Barack Obama fulfills the role of hero in each of these ancient story forms.
While Obama’s story is ancient, it is also utterly contemporary, perfectly of the moment. His gift — and it is a gift that makes him emblematic — is that he inhabits all these roles without being limited by them. He has managed, miraculously, to remain something of an outsider while being the president of the United States of America, the most inside man in the world. He’s African-American, but he’s not African-American. He’s from Chicago, but he’s from Hawaii. One month he’s bailing out the banks, the next he’s keeping Gitmo open. He pushes health-care reform through with an unimpeachable heave of will then extends the tax cuts. He walks smiling through the newly opened White House garden on his way to announce renewed efforts at oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, his “balanced” approach to the economy has led to a slower recovery than other industrialized nations and the war in Libya has been half-assed at best, which is exactly what war cannot be. For two years, he seemed disingenuous and defensive, pushed into roles that his predecessors had scripted, alternately playing savior then monster. But no more. We can finally see who he is, we can finally understand the reality: In 2011, it is possible to be a levelheaded, warmhearted, cold-blooded killer who can crack a joke and write a book for his daughters. It is possible to be many things at once. And even more miraculous, it is possible for that man to be the president of the United States. Barack Obama is developing into what Hegel called a “world-historical soul,” an embodiment of the spirit of the times. He is what we hope we can be.
We love Obama — even those who claim to despise him — because deep in our hearts and all over our lives, we’re the same way — both inside and outside our jobs, our races, our cities, our countries, ourselves. With great artists, often the most irritating feature of their work is the source of their talent. Obama’s gift is the same as his curse: He’s somehow managed to be like the rest of us, only infinitely more so.
So, I posted earlier today about what jackass crazy fuckwits run the Republican party and that’s why we’re in this current crisis, I suppose the inevitable thing happened in comments: I got scolded about my priorities. Apparently, I’m supposed to be focusing like a laser on how Obama is actually a double agent for the GOP and this was his evil plan all along to gut important social programs. Okay. I can actually sympathize with that point of view, since I remember being a newly minted lefist in college and feeling the allure of “rah rah Nader, Bush and Gore are no different”. It was a fairly useless point of view, but it made me feel self-righteous, and at 21, that felt really fucking good. Now I’m older and tired and I look back at Clinton and realize I was being unfair, because while he’s far from perfect, suggesting he was the problem is like having cancer and suggesting your hair falling out is your major problem. I was thoroughly cured by 8 years of Bush of this kind of thinking, and am mildly surprised to see how quickly everyone forgot about all that.
Either way, I reject the notion that the complete batshit craziness of the Republicans is merely a distraction from the Real Problem that our who-knew dictator Obama isn’t so benevolent. For one thing, I seriously don’t think he has as much power, due to the constitutional republic thing, as his angry critics are attributing to him and therefore the theory that he’s selling the farm in a desperate bid to stop the crazies from driving this country over the cliff remains a persuasive theory. But more importantly, I don’t think it matters.
Yes, I’m saying it right here: whether Obama is a secret Republican or whether he’s a well-meaning Democrat who is simply being blackmailed is irrelevant. The problem, either way, is Republicans.
Let’s look at the competing theories to see what I mean.
Theory #1: Benevolent Obama Theory.
This theory holds that Obama is a moderate Democrat who, while made uncomfortable by deficits (which isn’t unreasonable, per se, but should be a secondary concern in an economic crisis) , still believes in a more liberal economic theory when it comes to recessions, due to the fact that history proves those theories correct. In this theory, he’s offering deep cuts to beloved and necessary programs because the Republicans are holding the very state of the world economy hostage, willing to plunge us into a Depression if he doesn’t start giving away the farm.
The problem: Well, basically the Republicans. If it wasn’t for the batshit crazy Republicans willing to destroy our economy to get their way, none of this would be happening.
Theory #2: Evil Obama Theory.
This theory holds that Obama passed himself off as a moderate Democrat to get elected, but is in fact a secret conservative who has been aching for a chance to destroy Social Security, amongst other programs. I found this theory a little confusing at first, because it seemed to me that his secret plan would have been easier to enact when he had a majority party in Congress, so I asked around on Twitter, and this is the explanation I got: he couldn’t destroy Social Security then, because there’s enough liberals in the Democratic Party that they could have stopped him. It was only after Republicans got control of the House and went crazy that he had enough cover to do what he always hoped he could do.
The problem: Well, basically the Republicans. If the batshit crazy Republicans weren’t there giving secretly conservative Obama cover, none of this would be happening.
So, from my point of view, no matter what evil or non-evil lurks in Obama’s heart, the problem is that this country keeps electing frothing-at-the-mouth crazy Republicans, and if voters would stop doing that, we wouldn’t be having one politically provoked crisis after another. Sure, if Obama is a secret conservative, that is a problem. But we can’t actually know that. But what we do know for a fact is that no matter what lurks in Obama’s hearts, none of this would be happening if Republicans didn’t win the House. So I think that my priorities are just fine, thank you very much.
And because I’m going to be accused of being a partisan shill for Obama, I just want to say that I’m really not. If he’s a secret conservative, that concerns me greatly. But even if he’s not, I do think he’s failed repeatedly to present his best game in negotiations with Republicans. But at the end of the day, I’m unconvinced that the greatest negotiator on the planet could beat people who are willing to pull the trigger on the entire world economy.
Also, I’m just generally trying to let go of the intoxicating illusion of control. Quick fix solutions that will roll back decades of this country moving to the right appeal to that illusion, but don’t actually do much good. So I’m trying to let go of that and start thinking more broadly about what good can actually be done with the tools that are actually at hand, with the full realization that some times, the bad guys do win.
[…] Unlike for the Democrats, there is almost no ideological diversity within the group: essentially all of the current Republican governors are quite conservative, taking moderate positions on at most one or two issues. Also unlike the Democrats, there is no correlation between the ideology of the governors and the ideology of the states. Whether you have a Republican governor in a fairly liberal state like Maine, a moderate state like Ohio, or a conservative one like Idaho, his agenda is likely to be highly conservative. (The closest thing to an exception — the outlier in the chart — is Gov. Gary R. Herbert of Utah, who shares some of the moderate tendencies of his predecessor, Jon M. Huntsman Jr.) […]
This is unusual behavior. Politics 101 would suggest that you need to be at least somewhat responsive to voters in your state. And American political parties in particular are traditionally broad-based coalitions that tolerate a fair amount of intellectual and ideological diversity, especially at the state level. Republicans, of course, are going to try to push policy toward the right and Democrats to the left. But you can go only so far before you get a ticket out of office, so electoral and policy goals remain in some degree of balance.
The new breed of Republican governors run counter to this principle in a way that wasn’t true as recently as a year ago. […]
But I do think it’s a significant problem for Republicans on its own terms. It suggests that the party has become uninterested in appealing to swing voters — and that the voters are starting to notice.
Retribution from the electorate is a strong possibility unless there is a change of course.
And by the way, the new Gallup Poll indicates that Americans don’t give a flying rip about deficit reduction — at least when compared to the economic recovery and jobs.
58 percent versus 16 percent. You know why? Because it’s a bullshit issue in a slow growth recovery and people know it.
Though Congress is hardly popular, it can take solace in that voters like Rupert Murdoch
a whole lot less. With a phone hacking scandal engulfing News Corp, voters don’t appear
to consider Murdoch an innocent party. Only 12% of voters hold a favorable oppinion of
Murdoch compared to 49% who view him unfavorably. Unsurprisingly, those who
identify as very liberal see Murdoch unfavorably, giving him a 9-60 rating, but even very
conservatives don’t like Murdoch, rating him 23-27.
Though not the most popular figure PPP has polled, if God exists, voters are prepared to
give it good marks. Voters approve of God’s performance by 52-9 margin, making God
about as popular as Murdock is unpopular. When asked to evaluate God on some of the
issues it is responsible for, voters give God its best rating on creating the universe, 71-5.
They also approve of its handling of the animal kingdom 56-11, and even its handling of
natural disasters 50-13. Young voters are prepared to be more critical of God on natural
disasters with those 18-29 rating it 59-26 compared to 47-12 among those over 65.
PPP surveyed 928 American voters from July 15th to 17th. The margin of error for the
survey is +/-3.2%. This poll was not paid for or authorized by any campaign or political
organization. PPP surveys are conducted through automated telephone interviews. PPP is
a Democratic polling company, but polling expert Nate Silver of the New York Times
found that its surveys in 2010 actually exhibited a slight bias toward Republican
Ohio voters will have the chance this November to decide whether the state’s contentious new collective bargaining law should be repealed.
The state’s elections chief said Thursday that opponents had gathered enough valid signatures to put the question before voters. The measure is now suspended from taking effect until voters have their say.
The law signed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich in late March bans public employee strikes and restricts collective bargaining rights for more than 350,000 teachers, police officers and other public workers. While unions can continue to negotiate wages, they cannot bargain on health care, sick time or pension benefits.
The group We Are Ohio delivered more than 1.3 million signatures to Secretary of State Jon Husted, though the opponents needed roughly 231,000 valid signatures to get the question on the ballot.
The measure was approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature in March amid shouts and jeers from protesters in each chamber. But the overall response by protesters in the Rust Belt state, despite its long union tradition among steel and auto workers, paled in comparison to Wisconsin, where protests topped more than 70,000 people. Ohio’s largest Statehouse demonstrations on the measure drew about 8,500 people.
That difference has been attributed to Madison’s labor legacy and the proximity of the populous University of Wisconsin campus to the state capital.
The fallout from each state’s bitter fights over collective bargaining restrictions have also differed.
Unlike in Wisconsin, Ohio voters cannot recall state lawmakers. Instead, opponents of the Ohio law are pushing for its repeal through a referendum.
AND IN OTHER NEWS…
Few painters of modern times have received the honors and riches that came to Lucian Freud, the deeply talented and mysterious grandson of Sigmund Freud.
Often considered the greatest living master of the human form, Mr. Freud painted many hundreds of portraits that were seldom flattering but that revealed their subjects in searing, sometimes brutal honesty that might have made his grandfather proud.
But he wasn’t just the heir of the father of psychoanalysis. He managed to re-create and expand the tradition of classical portraiture in his paintings, which penetrated masks of pretense and seemed to pierce to the soul.
Mr. Freud, who died in London on Wednesday at 88, had found moderate success in Britain early in his career. He was a leading figure, along with Francis Bacon, in the London School of painters of the 1960s who concentrated on the human form.
It wasn’t until a 1987 retrospective at Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum that Americans began to notice the depth and power of Mr. Freud’s work. A new continent of art lovers was astonished by paintings that seemed to defy prevailing conventions, as well as time itself.
“They stop you where you stand,” Washington Post critic Paul Richard wrote at the time. “It is as if gravity itself had somehow been increased. . . . Freud’s pictures have a sense of time expanded, not easily explained. Anchored to the present, they seem to preexist the photograph.”
Time magazine critic Robert Hughes called Mr. Freud “the greatest living realist painter.”
From then on, despite frequent feuds with galleries and his reluctance to be interviewed, Mr. Freud became an art-world sensation.
He slathered paint onto canvases in thick layers of impasto, creating a brushwork style that seemed to echo the heaviness of the figures he represented. Girth deepened into gravity in a Freud portrait, and the disturbing grays, greens and purples blending with pinks and other flesh tones only added psychological depth to his figures.
Mr. Freud’s paintings have a rough incandescence, an oxymoronic ugly beauty from which people cannot avert their eyes — or close their wallets. In 2008, his portrait “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” was sold by the New York branch of Christie’s auction house for $33.6 million — the most ever paid for a painting by a living artist.
Many of his works, including self-portraits, showed his figures in the nude — or “naked,” the term he preferred. He sometimes asked his subjects back for as many 80 sittings, coaxing them out of their clothes under a harsh light during intimate, all-night sessions.
Often irascible with the press, Mr. Freud could be charming and solicitous — almost therapeutic — to his portrait subjects. Posing for him, one model told Britain’s Express newspaper in 2008, it “felt like being an apple in the Garden of Eden. When it was over, I felt as if I had been cast out of Paradise.”
He often painted people with their pets, with the animals usually looking more dignified than their owners. His works were frequently very small — a 1998 portrait of a pregnant Jerry Hall, then the girlfriend of Mick Jagger, was four by six inches — but other portraits measured several feet across. Some of his famous subjects, such as Hall and model Kate Moss, were well known, but Mr. Freud more often portrayed his otherwise little-known friends, relatives and lovers, of whom there were many. He turned down requests from Princess Diana and Pope John Paul II, but he completed a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in 2001.
“At one point I remember saying to [the queen], ‘You probably think I’m going incredibly slowly,” Mr. Freud told the London Times in 2006, “ ‘but in fact I’m going at 90 miles an hour and if I go any faster the car might overturn!’ ”
Lucian Michael Freud was born Dec. 8, 1922, in Berlin and went to England with his family in 1932. His father was an architect. Young Lucian saw a good deal of his celebrated grandfather while growing up and gave him some of his paintings. “I liked his company very much,” Mr. Freud recalled of his grandfather, who died in 1939. “He was never boring. He told me jokes.”
Mr. Freud served as a seaman in the British merchant navy during World War II and studied at several art schools. Although he sometimes pretended not to know their work, he was influenced by the between-wars tradition of such German painters as Otto Dix and George Grosz.
After his first gallery shows in the 1940s, Mr. Freud developed his signature style of thickly applied paint, coupled with an unsparing, straightforward gaze that exposed deep psychological currents.
In 1948, he married Kathleen Garman Epstein, daughter of sculptor Jacob Epstein. They had two daughters before their divorce in 1952. A year later, Mr. Freud married writer Caroline Blackwood, from whom he was divorced in 1958.
In recent years, it was revealed that Mr. Freud was a rake of epic proportions. He had at least 12 illegitimate children and, if the British press is to be believed, as many as 40. In his 80s, he was seen in the company of women who were young enough to be his granddaughters.
He often returned to museums to view the painters he considered his inspiration and, perhaps, his equals: Titian, Rembrandt, Ingres and Degas. Almost to the end, Mr. Freud remained a feverishly busy artist.
“I like it,” he said in 2006, “if people say very contradictory things about my work: ‘It’s very ugly.’ ‘It’s very beautiful.’ ‘Do you get your models from an asylum?’ ”
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
History is a race between education and catastrophe. – H. G. Wells