mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Stupid Is As Stupid Does”: Bobby Jindal’s Guidance To Republicans Comes With A Catch

In the wake of his party’s defeats in the 2012 elections, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) has positioned himself as a leader in setting the GOP on a smarter path. He was the first Republican to publicly condemn Mitt Romney’s “gifts” comments, and soon after, Jindal declared he wants Republicans to “stop being the stupid party.”

And while these efforts are drawing praise from some on the right, let’s pause to note the superficiality of Jindal’s vision. Take his comments yesterday on Fox News, for example.

Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) accused failed Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock of saying “stupid” and “offensive” things that damaged the Republican Party.

“We also don’t need to be saying stupid things,” he said. “Look, we had candidates in Indiana and Missouri that said offensive things that not only hurt themselves and lost us two Senate seats but also hurt the Republican Party across the board.”

On abortion, while Jindal said he’s pro-life, “we don’t need to demonize those that disagree with us. We need to respect the fact that others have come to different conclusions based on their own sincerely held beliefs.”

Here’s the detail Jindal neglected to mention: he opposes any and all abortion rights, without exception. If the Louisiana governor had his way, women impregnated by a rapist would be forced by the American government to take that pregnancy to term. The same would be true in cases of incest or pregnancies in which the health of the mother is at risk.

In other words, as far as public policy is concerned, the only difference between Jindal, Akin, and Mourdock is word choice. Jindal doesn’t want candidates in his party “saying stupid things,” but he’s entirely comfortable with those candidates adopting the same extremist positions he espouses.

Indeed, the larger irony of Jindal presenting himself as a forward-thinking, far-right leader is realizing just how odd a choice he is.

On the one hand, the Louisiana governor says he’s “had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism”; on the other, Jindal is a fierce, anti-gay culture warrior who wants children to be taught creationism and believes he participated in an exorcism.

As this relates to abortion, Jindal is effectively urging his party to adopt the same vision as Mourdock and Akin, but present their agenda with less-offensive talking points. It’s reminiscent of Charles Krauthammer’s advice to the GOP: “The problem … for Republicans is not policy but delicacy.”

They’re both misguided if they think softer, more polite language can make the right-wing social agenda seem more palatable to the American mainstream.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 19, 2012

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Apocalypse Already Came”: The Sad State Of Republican Zealots With Microphones

America, you are an idiot.

You are a moocher, a zombie, soulless, mouth-breathing, ignorant, greedy, self-indulgent, envious, shallow and lazy.

The foregoing is a summation of “analysis” from conservative pundits and media figures — Cal Thomas, Ted Nugent, Bill O’Reilly, et cetera — seeking to explain Mitt Romney’s emphatic defeat. They seem to have settled on a strategy of blaming the voters for not being smart enough or good enough to vote as they should have. Because America wasn’t smart enough or good enough, say these conservatives, it shredded the Constitution, bear-hugged chaos, French-kissed Socialism, and died.

In other words, the apocalypse is coming.

Granted, such thinking does not represent the totality of conservative response to the election. The reliably sensible columnist Kathleen Parker offered a, well… reliably sensible take on what’s wrong with the Republican Party. Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal spoke thoughtfully to Politico about how conservatism must change to meet the challenges of the future.

Unfortunately, for every Parker or Jindal, there is a Donald Trump urging revolution or a petition drive advocating secession from the union. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, just when you think you could not possibly be more astonished at how panic-stricken and estranged from reality much of the political right now is, there comes word of Henry Hamilton’s suicide.

He was the 64-year-old owner of a tanning salon in Key West, FL. As recently reported in The Miami Herald, he was found dead two days after the election with empty prescription bottles next to him, one for a drug to treat anxiety, another for a drug to treat schizophrenia. Hamilton, according to his partner, Michael Cossey, was stressed about his business and had said that if President Obama were re-elected, “I’m not going to be around.” Police found his will, upon which was scrawled “F— Obama.”

Sometimes, they act — the Hannitys, the O’Reillys, the Trumps, the Limbaughs, the whole conservative political infotainment complex — as if this were all a game, as if their nonstop litany of half-truths, untruths and fear mongering, their echo chamber of studied outrage, practiced panic, intellectual incoherence and unadulterated equine feculence, had no human consequences. Sometimes, they behave as if it were morally permissible — indeed, morally required — to say whatever asinine, indefensible, coarse or outrageous thing comes to mind in the name of defeating or diminishing the dreaded left. And never mind that vulnerable people might hear this and shape their beliefs accordingly.

Did the conservative political infotainment complex kill Henry Hamilton? No.

But were they the water in which he swam, a Greek chorus echoing and magnifying the outsized panic that troubled his unwell mind? It seems quite likely.

One hopes, without any real expectation, that Hamilton’s death will give pause to the flame-throwers on the right. One hopes, without any real expectation, that somebody will feel a twinge of conscience. Or shame.

But that will not happen.

Because, what you see here is not the behavior of calculating showmen who don’t believe half the garbage they say. If it were, we might have hope.

But these, I have come to believe, are not showmen. They are zealots. They do believe half the garbage they say, and they have microphones to say it with. That is infinitely more frightening.

So one can only hope, with slightly more expectation, that the GOP will finally disenthrall itself from this ongoing affront to decency and intelligence and thereby render it moot.

Until it does, we can only absorb the impact of these regularly scheduled meltdowns. And pity the likes of Henry Hamilton.

For him, the apocalypse already came.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, The National Memo, November 19, 2012

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Utterly The Same”: Change, Learn, Compromise, Grow? Not These Republicans

Hearing so much chatter about “change” in the Republican Party, the innocent voter might believe that the Republicans had learned important lessons from their stinging electoral defeat. On closer examination, however, the likelihood of real change appears nil, because the party’s leaders and thinkers can cite so many excuses to remain utterly the same.

At the Republican Governors Association conference last week, for instance, the favored explanation for the voting public’s emphatic rejection of Mitt Romney had nothing to do with issues or ideology, but only with more effective Democratic Party organizing and communicating. According to Wade Goodwyn, the National Public Radio reporter who covered the GOP governors’ meeting, their post-election mood was not one of shock, but complacency.

“It was widely agreed that nothing needed to be changed except perhaps the tone,” he found. “For example, the idea that more than 70 percent of Hispanics voted for the president because of Republican positions on illegal immigration was rejected by the Republican governors.”

That would be hard to believe if Goodwyn were not such an excellent and experienced journalist, because it is so stupid, so insulting, and makes so little sense. Could it really be true that the nation’s Republican governors — one of whom is quite likely to be the party’s next presidential nominee — are so obtuse and so obstinate that they would reject change even on immigration?

Republican leaders also seem inclined to ignore voter sentiment on the issue of taxes, despite majorities of 70 percent or better that agree the rich should pay more (including many voters who identify with the GOP). Rep. Mike Pence, who will become the governor of Indiana next January, told the Republican governors that he remains firmly opposed to any tax increase, especially on “those in the best position to put hurting Americans back to work,” which is GOP code for mega-millionaires and above.

Clearly the Republicans in Congress too feel free to ignore public opinion on this question, since Speaker John Boehner and his caucus have offered a “compromise” on fiscal policy that represents no change whatsoever from their earlier positions and the Romney platform. Government can accrue fresh revenues from growth, they say; nothing new or even meaningful there. And government can close unspecified loopholes and deductions to increase revenues, too. Where have we heard that before?

Meanwhile, the consulting geniuses who predicted a Romney victory — a landslide, even! — are peddling alibis about why their party lost despite billions spent. Fox News expert Dick Morris says it is because their voter machinery failed, the Romney campaign didn’t fight back, and Hurricane Sandy persuaded all of the undecided voters to back Barack Obama.

By the way, Morris now predicts that the economy will suffer a ruinous decline over the coming year or two, so Republicans can just sit back and watch the Democrats sink with it. Which is another way of saying no need for change on any front. Given his record as an oracle, both Democrats and Americans more generally now have great reasons for optimism.

Karl Rove, who squandered vast sums of his generous donors’ money, has lots of explaining to do. But he always has lots of explanations. This time, having reluctantly acknowledged electoral reality, Rove agrees with Morris that the Romney campaign’s failures were mostly to blame. He is full of advice for the party leaders, urging them to change the date of the convention, try to avoid “sounding judgmental and callous” on social issues, and “do better — much better” with Hispanics, younger voters, women, and middle-class families.

How should Republicans “do better” with those voter groups? On that question, Rove resorts to clichés about “reframing” messages and “re-engineering” voter turnout efforts, as though issues and policies have nothing to do with motivating actual voters.

Finally, Rove insists that his donors will continue to pour good money after bad into the coffers of American Crossroads, his SuperPAC. His current bleating sounds nothing like his confident bluster a decade ago, when he looked forward to a Republican realignment and unchecked power for decades to come.

Reality has changed, but Republicans won’t. They insist on creating their own reality, like Rove and his friends at Fox News always did — but fewer and fewer Americans will still pretend to live there.

By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, November 18, 2012

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Just Get Out Of The Way”: Obama’s Electoral Mandate And Where It Leaves Republicans

Sunday’s morning shows featured some astoundingly stupid comments from Republicans who claim to believe that on Election Day voters gave them a “mandate” to continue their attempts to obstruct President Obama’s agenda.

Apparently some Republican pundits are still living in the same parallel universe that allowed them to convince themselves that by now, President-elect Mitt Romney would be organizing his transition.

It really is mind-boggling. Notwithstanding all of the available evidence, they still believe that the American people want them to stand in the way of increases in taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent and to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits for future retirees.

Who got a mandate for his policies on Election Day?

The presidential campaign focused like a laser on the question of whether tax rates should be increased for the top 2 percent of Americans or whether we should adopt Romney’s proposal to lower tax rates for the wealthy by another $5 trillion, and inevitably increase taxes on the middle class.

The campaign centered on the Ryan-Romney budget that would have slashed spending on critical services for the poor and middle class, reduce funding for education, do away with Medicare and replace it with a voucher program that would increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors by $6,500 per year.

And it was clear throughout, that the Republicans continued to favor privatizing Social Security.

  • The Republican presidential ticket lost by 332 electoral votes to 206 electoral votes.
  • Obama got 50.6 percent of the popular vote and Romney got 47.6 percent of the popular vote.
  • Democrats took two additional seats in the Senate and now hold a 55-45 edge.
  • The Senate Democratic caucus now includes more Progressive members and fewer Conservative members.
  • Democrats picked up at least 7 and probably 8 seats in the House, and nationwide got over a half a million more votes for their House candidates than did the Republicans — even though the Republicans continued to control the chamber.

And the verdict that was rendered at the ballot box could be seen in virtually every national opinion survey.

The election was a battle over the future of the middle class, and Obama won that battle.

A Greenberg-Quinlan Research poll found that by 51 to 42 percent the voters said Obama would do a better job restoring the middle class.

They found that by almost two-thirds, voters believed Social Security and Medicare should not be cut as part of a deficit reduction deal.

A November 15, 2012 Hart Research poll for Americans for Tax Fairness found that:

  • By a strong 17-point margin, voters favor ending the Bush tax cuts on incomes over250,000 (56 percent) rather than extending the tax cuts for all taxpayers (39 percent).
  • President Obama now holds a commanding position in the debate over tax policy. When voters hear President Obama’s position on the Bush tax cuts — that he will sign a bill continuing them for 98 percent of Americans but will veto a bill continuing them for incomes over 250,000 — fully 61 percent agree with this stance. By contrast, when voters are read congressional Republicans’ position — that they will pass a bill continuing the cuts for all income levels, but will block any bill ending the cuts for those making over 250,000 — only 42 percent agree while a 53 percent majority rejects its plan.

NBCNews.com’s First Read, November 15, 2012 — more autopsy 2012— additional analysis of exit polls in battleground states:

  • Support for raising taxes for 250K+ earners or everyone — Nevada 64 percent, Wisconsin 64 percent, Virginia 63 percent, Iowa 63 percent, New Hampshire 61 percent, Ohio 57 percent, Florida 57 percent — national average 60 percent.

Greenberg-Quinlan found in a November poll that Americans reject austerity in favor of investment that creates jobs. They were asked to choose between two statements:

We should avoid immediate drastic cuts in spending, and instead, we need serious investments that create jobs and make us more prosperous in the long-term that will reduce our debt, too.

Or…

The only way to restore prosperity and market confidence is to dramatically reduce government spending and our long-term deficits.

The statement favoring investments was chosen by 51 percent compared to 42 percent for the statement favoring cuts.

In fact, there is little question that voters understand better than many commentators and pundits that the budget battle in Washington is not mainly about ratios of revenue to cuts, or “reining in entitlements” — it is about who pays.

Will the wealthy, who have siphoned off all of the economic growth of the last 15 years, be asked to pay to fix the deficit that resulted from the Bush Tax cuts, and two unpaid-for wars? Or will the middle class — whose income has been stagnant or declining — be asked once again to foot the bill?

Voters get it. Time for D.C. pundits to get it as well.

Voters did send a mandate to Republicans on November 6th — a mandate to wake up and smell the coffee.

Here are a few of the mandates the voters gave Republicans:

  • Bad idea to be viewed as a party who mainly represents the interests of the 1 percent and has candidates that were born on third base and think they hit a triple.
  • Bad idea to insult almost half of the voters with comments about the 47 percent who can’t be convinced to “take responsibility for their lives.”
  • Bad idea to insult the fastest growing ethnic group in America with your plans for “self deportation” and vetoing the Dream Act.
  • Bad idea to patronize American women — who incidentally represent about 52 percent of the electorate — by telling them that government must intervene in the reproductive choices that should be left entirely to them and their doctors.
  • Bad idea to believe you can any longer win national races in America by insulting and alienating people of color.
  • Bad idea to ignore the persistent march of demographic changes that are transforming the American electorate. In addition to the growing proportion of people of color, the millennial generation — the most consistently progressive generation in recent American history — is becoming a larger portion of the overall electorate with every passing day.

Finally, the voters sent a loud and clear message that it is a bad idea for the GOP to continue to be the party that opposes traditional progressive American values.

They voted to confirm their view that they want a society where we have each others’ backs — where we’re all in this together, not all in this alone. They voted for a society where everyone does his or her fair share, gets a fair shake and plays by the same rules. They want a society that is hopeful and vibrant and celebrates its diversity — a society where it doesn’t matter whether you are a man or woman, gay or straight — a society where it doesn’t matter where you were born, or how much money your parents had when you grew up.

In short the voters showed once again that they want the kind of a society that Barack Obama described in his first major national speech — to the Democratic Convention in 2004 — a society where there are no blue states or red states — just the United States.

Now it’s time for the Republicans to lead, follow or get out of the way.

 

By: Robert Creamer, The Huffington Post Blog, November 19, 2012

 

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Twinkie Manifesto”: Economic Growth And Economic Justice Are Not Incompatible

The Twinkie, it turns out, was introduced way back in 1930. In our memories, however, the iconic snack will forever be identified with the 1950s, when Hostess popularized the brand by sponsoring “The Howdy Doody Show.” And the demise of Hostess has unleashed a wave of baby boomer nostalgia for a seemingly more innocent time.

Needless to say, it wasn’t really innocent. But the ’50s — the Twinkie Era — do offer lessons that remain relevant in the 21st century. Above all, the success of the postwar American economy demonstrates that, contrary to today’s conservative orthodoxy, you can have prosperity without demeaning workers and coddling the rich.

Consider the question of tax rates on the wealthy. The modern American right, and much of the alleged center, is obsessed with the notion that low tax rates at the top are essential to growth. Remember that Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, charged with producing a plan to curb deficits, nonetheless somehow ended up listing “lower tax rates” as a “guiding principle.”

Yet in the 1950s incomes in the top bracket faced a marginal tax rate of 91, that’s right, 91 percent, while taxes on corporate profits were twice as large, relative to national income, as in recent years. The best estimates suggest that circa 1960 the top 0.01 percent of Americans paid an effective federal tax rate of more than 70 percent, twice what they pay today.

Nor were high taxes the only burden wealthy businessmen had to bear. They also faced a labor force with a degree of bargaining power hard to imagine today. In 1955 roughly a third of American workers were union members. In the biggest companies, management and labor bargained as equals, so much so that it was common to talk about corporations serving an array of “stakeholders” as opposed to merely serving stockholders.

Squeezed between high taxes and empowered workers, executives were relatively impoverished by the standards of either earlier or later generations. In 1955 Fortune magazine published an essay, “How top executives live,” which emphasized how modest their lifestyles had become compared with days of yore. The vast mansions, armies of servants, and huge yachts of the 1920s were no more; by 1955 the typical executive, Fortune claimed, lived in a smallish suburban house, relied on part-time help and skippered his own relatively small boat.

The data confirm Fortune’s impressions. Between the 1920s and the 1950s real incomes for the richest Americans fell sharply, not just compared with the middle class but in absolute terms. According to estimates by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez, in 1955 the real incomes of the top 0.01 percent of Americans were less than half what they had been in the late 1920s, and their share of total income was down by three-quarters.

Today, of course, the mansions, armies of servants and yachts are back, bigger than ever — and any hint of policies that might crimp plutocrats’ style is met with cries of “socialism.” Indeed, the whole Romney campaign was based on the premise that President Obama’s threat to modestly raise taxes on top incomes, plus his temerity in suggesting that some bankers had behaved badly, were crippling the economy. Surely, then, the far less plutocrat-friendly environment of the 1950s must have been an economic disaster, right?

Actually, some people thought so at the time. Paul Ryan and many other modern conservatives are devotees of Ayn Rand. Well, the collapsing, moocher-infested nation she portrayed in “Atlas Shrugged,” published in 1957, was basically Dwight Eisenhower’s America.

Strange to say, however, the oppressed executives Fortune portrayed in 1955 didn’t go Galt and deprive the nation of their talents. On the contrary, if Fortune is to be believed, they were working harder than ever. And the high-tax, strong-union decades after World War II were in fact marked by spectacular, widely shared economic growth: nothing before or since has matched the doubling of median family income between 1947 and 1973.

Which brings us back to the nostalgia thing.

There are, let’s face it, some people in our political life who pine for the days when minorities and women knew their place, gays stayed firmly in the closet and congressmen asked, “Are you now or have you ever been?” The rest of us, however, are very glad those days are gone. We are, morally, a much better nation than we were. Oh, and the food has improved a lot, too.

Along the way, however, we’ve forgotten something important — namely, that economic justice and economic growth aren’t incompatible. America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again.

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, November 19, 2012

November 20, 2012 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: