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Thursday, February 27, 2014

For Religious Conservatives, the War Against Gay Rights is Already Lost

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the recent and rapid advance of gay rights over the past few years -- and the past few months in particular -- has been watching the Baghdad Bob-like insistence on the far-right that the battle against the Homosexual Menace can still be won. For those of you who might not remember, "Baghdad Bob" was a nickname given to Saddam Hussein's Information Minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf. He earned notoriety for being the worst propagandist anyone had ever seen, insisting that the defense of Iraq from the Dubya invasion was going great for Hussein -- at one point telling reporters there were no Americans in Baghdad while our tanks rolled around in the background.

The right's approach to the advance of gay rights and gay acceptance has been complete denial to a ludicrous degree. For people who talk about liberty and freedom a lot, they sure don't seem to have a lot of use for them.

At the head of all this stupid, you're generally going to find Michele Bachmann. Yesterday was no exception.

Raw Story: Appearing on CNN’s The Situation Room, and speaking before Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062 which would have effectively legalized discrimination based on religious grounds, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) explained to Wolf Blitzer that a veto would “eviscerate” freedom of speech.

Asked by host Blitzer what she thinks Governor Jan Brewer should do with the bill sitting on her desk, Bachmann replied that we need to have “tolerance” for people on both sides of the issue.

“I think what we need to do is respect both sides. We need to respect both opinions,” Bachmann replied. “And just like we need to observe tolerance for the gay and lesbian community, we need to have tolerance for the community of people who hold sincerely held religious belief.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Good Reason to Raise the Minimum Wage: the 99% Want Their Money Back

Protesters demand a liveable wage
What's a big factor in driving up deficits and government spending? Lazy, no-good moochers on welfare, getting a free ride.
Aljazeera America: State and local governments have awarded at least $110 billion in taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of corporate welfare revealed today.

Boeing ranks first, with 137 subsidies totaling $13.2 billion, followed by Alcoa at $5.6 billion, Intel at $3.9 billion, General Motors at $3.5 billion and Ford Motor at $2.5 billion, the new report by the nonprofit research organization Good Jobs First shows.

Dow Chemical had the most subsidies, 410 totaling $1.4 billion, followed by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire-Hathaway holding company, with 310 valued at $1.1 billion.

The figures were compiled from disclosures made by state and local government agencies that subsidize companies in all sorts of ways, including cash giveaways, building and land transfers, tax abatements and steep discounts on electric and water bills.
Meanwhile, families in poverty are having trouble getting by -- because government supposedly can't afford to pay for things like food stamps or the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Welfare reform was supposed to lift people out of poverty, but it's done the opposite. And it was all predictable.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Better Pay, More Independent Workers -- No Wonder GOP Hates Obamacare

Pro-Obamacare demonstrators
The bad news keeps coming for the anti-Obamacare right. Not only did a Congressional Budget Office report released yesterday detail how the Affordable Care Care would empower workers to work fewer hours if they chose, but further examination of the report finds even more good news for America's working people. Talking Points Memo's Dylan Scott is once again on the ball:

TPM spoke with... top economists who agreed with [this] analysis: People choosing to work less because of Obamacare, as CBO projects, would mean higher wages.

"That stands to reason. You get this sorting effect," Dean Baker, co-founder of the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research. "You have a lot of people working now who don't want to work. The only way they can get insurance is through their employer."

Those people retire or cut back their hours or otherwise lower their participation in the labor market -- a possibility that CBO raised itself -- reducing the labor supply. Over the long term, that drives up wages. Baker said that CBO said as much in its analysis: The report projected that total hours worked would drop by as much as 2 percent by 2024 because of Obamacare, but total compensation would fall only 1 percent.
Supply and demand: reality's greatest defender -- at least, in matters economic.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Tea Party on RiNO Safari in Kentucky

Mitch McConnell
It's 2014, an election year, which means it's time for a good ol' fashioned RiNO hunt. For those unfamiliar with the acronym, RiNO stands for "Republican in Name Only" and is meant to indicate a GOP sell-out to moderation or even liberalism -- but in reality, it's come to mean a heretic in the cult of Tea Party purity. Democrats, liberals, and various and sundry other commies, behold of the wonder of the RiNO safari and rejoice.

CNN: A conservative group is launching a new campaign which calls on "the GOP leadership in both the House and the Senate to step aside."

ForAmerica told CNN that it's putting six figures behind its "Dump the Leadership" campaign between now and November's leadership elections.

The group says that its digital ads will target House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, as well as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Whip John Cornyn, and the group adds that the first paid spots are now up online.
ForAmerica has been put together by ultra-conservative one man noise machine Brent Bozell. Brent is... Well, Brent's an interesting character -- if by "interesting" you mean an unrelenting, fiery ball of seething hatred, ridiculous lies, and perpetual victimhood. Also interesting (in the more traditional sense) is Bozell's reason for this RiNO hunt.

Monday, February 03, 2014

GOP Immigration Reform Plan: Kill it, Plant the Knife on the President

Paul Ryan hands papers to Pres. Obama
It's definitely not the outcome anyone expected -- although maybe we should've. House Republican leadership had put forward two principles for immigration reform, one of which was that "specific enforcement triggers" had to be met in order for House Republicans to advance a bill. "Specific" was exactly the wrong word here, since this was a fill-in-the-blank provision to be decided on later. This was the flag that everyone was watching. The common wisdom was that if they were able to wrangle the base on board, the triggers would be half-way reasonable -- or at least do-able. Undocumented people would have to learn English -- assuming they didn't already know it -- or complete high school or an equivalent. If they didn't, then the trigger would be completely unreasonable, like an impenetrable fence at the southern border or something crazy, like mandatory prison sentences. If the push to pass the bill failed, the signal was expected to be a poison pill -- a requirement that was either so noxious that Democrats would reject it out of hand or so technically impossible that it could never be met.

That's what everyone expected to happen. If the House killed immigration reform, that was the way it was supposed to die. No one foresaw this ignoble end:

Associated Press: Republicans are starting to lay the blame on President Barack Obama if an overhaul of the nation's broken immigration system fails to become law.

The GOP's emerging plan on immigration is to criticize Obama as an untrustworthy leader and his administration as an unreliable enforcer of any laws that might be passed. Perhaps realizing the odds of finding a consensus on immigration are long, the Republicans have started telling voters that if the GOP-led House doesn't take action this election year, it is Obama's fault.

"If the president had been serious about this the last five years, we'd be further along in this discussion," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Republican, said Sunday.
And in case you don't get the message, Rep. Paul Ryan -- who'd taken the lead on the bill -- said pretty much the same thing; "Here's the issue that all Republicans agree on: We don't trust the president to enforce the law."

No one expected this turn of events -- mostly because it's stupid.

Friday, January 31, 2014

On Immigration, Will the GOP Cave to Racists?

Anti-immigration protesters
In a piece for The Daily Beast, Patricia Murphy writes that a new front is about to open up in the GOP Civil War. At this very moment, House Republicans are locked away at a "retreat," where they're trying to knock together some sort of immigration reform bill. So far, John Boehner has put forth two principles -- one vague and one specific -- that would be required to get House leadership's support. The first is the vague one: that any law would go into effect only after so far undefined "specific enforcement triggers have been implemented." The second is that there be no pathway to citizenship.

Actually, it would be more accurate to say that there would be no automatic pathway to citizenship -- people covered by the reforms would have nothing standing in the way of citizenship, other than the fact that they'd have to officially declare that desire. This is pretty much a fig leaf for the GOP, whose messaging had until recently argued that a pathway to citizenship was "amnesty" and the worst thing ever! By saying there's "no pathway to citizenship," House leaders hope to avoid charges of "caving" to Democrats on the issue. But it would be much more accurate to say there would no longer be any glide path to citizenship, since the path is cleared of any obstacles, should you wish to follow it. You've just got to land the thing yourself.

Whether that fig leaf is enough to get enough Republicans on board is still an open question. Greg Sargent has argued that we'll know when they define the "specific enforcement triggers." If the triggers are unreasonable and unattainable, like a giant wall closing off a ridiculous percentage of the southern border or 100% use of and compliance with e-Verify, then that means Republicans have failed to agree among themselves and they're trying to blame the failure of reform on Democrats.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rand Paul's Answer to Poverty: Wage More War on Women

Rand Paul
I've never been extremely impressed with Kentucky's freshman Senator Rand Paul. He seems keenly proud of his own brilliance -- despite the fact that few people other than himself can manage to find any evidence of it. His desire to be a Senator seems to stem more from his need to be a Very Important Person than his desire to serve his country. And you don't take it upon yourself to respond to the President's State of the Union Address -- in no official capacity whatsoever -- unless you think people need to appreciate the beneficent fruits of your towering intellect.

In short, Rand Paul is an incredible egotist, made even more insufferable by the fact that he's not actually all that smart.  He's five gallons of smart in a 50 gallon drum -- and the rest of the barrel is filled up by bullcrap. That's my impression. And it's an impression he recently did very little to dispell.

ThinkProgress: At a luncheon for the Chamber of Commerce in Lexington, KY, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) floated the idea of capping government benefits for women who have children out of wedlock, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

While he said that preventing unplanned pregnancies should be in the hands of communities and families, he added, “Maybe we have to say ‘enough’s enough, you shouldn’t be having kids after a certain amount.”‘ He went on to say, “I don’t know how you do all that because then it’s tough to tell a woman with four kids that she’s got a fifth kid we’re not going to give her any more money. But we have to figure out how to get that message through because that is part of the answer.”