February 27, 2009

Feelin' Groovy

By Brady Bonk

I wonder when this foreboding will leave me.

I keep waiting, waiting for the second clog to drop, for when President Obama does something that makes me lose faith in the Hope. I know I’ve been obnoxiously cheer-leading for him here since Inauguration Day. It’s just a new phenomena to me, being led by a President who a) promises to do great things, and then b) delivers. Yes, just more than a month and I am still in the honeymoon, I am pleased to report.

Like today. I was all set for him to lose me. Today, the man gave what I think will be the most important speech of at least his first term, if not for his entire presidency (yes, I am assuming a lot here). I was anticipating the announcement that he’d had to hem and haw his way to a longer involvement than promised and that there would have to be a residual force, and I wasn’t liking it. But Barack Obama kept me on today, specifically, when he said this:

Let me say this as plainly as I can. By August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.

Date certain. That’s amazing. It’s astonishing. The President of the United States just offered a friggin’ TIMETABLE, and he did using a sentence a fifth-grader could diagram. Why hasn’t the sky fallen in yet, like the Republigoats said it would? And what happens when it doesn’t? Can we stop listening to them then? Please?

The lovely thing about the man’s speech today was that he managed to draw up his date certain while lavishing an incredible amount of praise on the troops and the mission and delivering them mighty good news to boot. Some of the initiatives he discussed today regarding veterans’ issues—more money, more troops, access to health care, a G.I. Bill—surely made Paul Reikoff’s hair stand up on end.

I do not agree with President Obama on everything, certainly. I wish he could be more vocal about investigating the thugs who ran the show before him. I wish he would not insist on distinguishing “marriage” from “civil unions.” I am leery of any plan that sinks us further into Afghanistan and/or Pakistan militarily, and I am not with him on the death penalty (he believes it appropriate in some cases; I believe it to be as un-American as brie melted on a berliner mashed up with a burrito stuffed into a haggis).

So far, though, no seething outrage; no birds flipped at the television set as he speaks; no disparaging names made up for him so I can avoid having to type out the phrase “President Obama.”

No, this is night and day compared to the first eight of the aughts.

An amateur wonk could get used to this.

I'll Never Call Him 'Tweety' Again

By Brady Bonk

As President Obama gives the most important speech he’ll make in his first term, I must note that I am filled with gratitude for one Chris Matthews of MSNBC.

On Hardballs last night, Matthews brought up one of my pet issues: Republicans’ disrespectful, snotty insistence on calling the name of my political party incorrectly. Transcript by Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate, link to video from democrats.com via Media Matters.

MATTHEWS (to Issa): Well… I think the Democratic Party calls itself the Democratic Party, not the Democrat Party.

Do we have to do this every night? Why do people talk like this? Is this just fighting words, to get the name wrong?

ISSA: No, this isn’t intended to be fighting words…

MATTHEWS (interrupts Issa): They call themselves the Democratic Party. Let’s just call people what they call themselves and stop the Mickey Mouse, here… Save that for the stump. Seriously.

ISSA: Chris, Chris… Chris….

MATTHEWS: Now let’s get to the issue here. Seriously. We’ve got a fiscal challenge…. I want to get back to Congressman Frank and to some English here.

I am a guy who works and plays with language. It is both my vocation and my avocation. I believe it is important, vitally important. Every time a Republigoat gets away with this crap, he is pissing a little bit on my political affiliation and laughing about it (note Issa’s frat boy asshole laugh when he’s called out). It is a childish tactic of one-upsmanship and does not befit itself to a party that got a lot of film bitching and moaning that the Democrats weren’t being “bi-partisan” during the stimulus tug-of-war.

What’s more, it violates the wishes of their own party’s platform committee. Remember this?

Aug. 26, 2008:

WASHINGTON — Republicans have come up with another name for the opposing party—the right name.

For years now, the GOP has gone after “Democrat schemes,” “Democrat presidents,” “Democrat Congresses” _ all phrases from the 1996 Republican platform, repeated many times since. Twenty years earlier, Bob Dole famously declared that all wars of the 20th century were “Democrat wars.”

On Tuesday, members of the Republican platform committee meeting in Minneapolis voted down a proposal to call the opposition the “Democrat Party” in the 2008 platform. Instead, they’ll go with the proper Democratic Party.

“We probably should use what the actual name is,” said Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the panel’s chairman. “At least in writing.”

In 1996, references to the Democratic Party were purged from a draft of the platform. As party leaders explained at the time, they wanted to make the subtle point that the Democratic Party had become elitist, no longer small-d democratic.

*

In the debate Tuesday, Jim Bopp of Indiana echoed that sentiment but said fair’s fair.

“We should afford them the respect that they are entitled and call them by their legal name.”

(Excuse me. I have no idea that picture of The Coolest Man Who Ever Lived got in there.)

Now. We all know that a Republigoat can’t be trusted and that they lie and that they’re disingenuous and also that they’re bastards, and that they don’t understand foreign policy, domestic policy, policy, and that whole “who’s buried in Grant’s tomb” deal, and that they smell funny and are obsessed with rubbing spit into hair (see “Wolfowitz, Paul” and “Palin, Piper”). But remember, kids. Every time one of them says “the Democrat Party,” they’re also proving that they can’t even stick to their own program, even when it tries in spite of itself in one small way to project integrity.

I hope there will be more incidents such as this one. Republigoats should be corrected every time they do this, every god-damned time. Just clear your throat, speak up, and say, excuse me. It’s “Democratic.”

* Disclaimer: John Carter Cash has said his Pop never let on about his party affiliation. (But, I mean come on. The man performed in prisons.)

Filed Under: It's 'Democratic'
February 25, 2009

What Congressional Democrat Has The Grooviest Congressional Subdomain Ever?

By Brady Bonk

Zach Space, of course.

space.house.gov.

He’s at the Space House.

That is all.

Hail To The Chief

By Brady Bonk

If there were any doubt in anyone’s mind—even in that of Alan Keyes, who ought to be arrested for his seditious comments—that Barack Hussein Obama was the right pick to be President of the United States, Obama mowed doubt down last evening like a sappling under a riding mower.

Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress including the chief and associate justices of the United States was part realistic assessment but majority optimistic drumbeat. It laid out an ambitious vision, not just on getting us out of the soup but in building a brand new $6 Million America (remember when $6 million was a staggering amount of money?), better, stronger, faster…

And, as noted at The Left Coaster, the agenda laid out should be making progressives downright giddy. It doesn’t get more progressive than “health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait and it will not wait another year.” But Obama’s speech seemed to acknowledge that, in fact, the progressive agenda is where most of America lives these days, despite what any conservagoat will attempt to tell you.

Unfortunately, it’s much more fun to talk about Bobby Jindal’s train-wreck Republigoat response than it is to explicate President Obama’s speech. My very favorite moment of the television viewing evening besides Obama’s promise to bring war costs into the budget was Rachel Maddow’s initial reaction to this confounding speech. She was speechless. “I get paid to talk for a living,” she said. “Right now I am utterly incapable of doing my job.” It was jaw-dropping, watching a Republigoat play the Katrina card and to argue that, as Ms. Maddow later summarized so effectively, because government failed, we need to drown government rather than trying to make government better. Not to mention the fact that somebody apparently forgot to clue Jindal in to the fact that there’s new management now.

Look, the point about Katrina is this, and I heard no pundits on the TV last night nail it or even come close: From Sept. 11, 2001 to Aug. 25, 2005, then-“President” George W. Bush told us that it was his job to keep us safe, and he told us that this job was so important that he had to broadly expand the powers of his office to do so, and if that came at the expense of our civil liberities, tough titties, because the most important thing and the most important part of his job, more important even than the part he swore to in oath, was to keep us safe. He beat this drum solidly and loudly for four years, and doing so inexplicably won that idiot a second term, even. And then, guess what? HE DIDN’T KEEP US SAFE. That is the source argument of criticism for the Bushies’ failure to achieve during Katrina’s aftermath. That event served to expose the emporer’s nakedness and, in a larger sense, that of the entire Republigoat party and its underlying assumptions.

Of course Bobby Jindal missed the point, either by accident or by design. His speech, though, was just stunning in its tone-deafness, and that he played the Katrina card is just, as Chazz Michael Michaels would say, mind-bottling. And, by the way, I want the full story on those “bureaucrats” who told that sheriff that a rescue effort couldn’t happen for insurance reasons. I want names and badge numbers. I want to know if they still are in government work and how quickly they can be RIFed. They should be.

Update: You want a debunking? Leave it to Kos. Though even Kos’ debunking doesn’t mention the sort of convenient fact that Sheriff Lee is not available to confirm nor deny the story, seeing as how he died in 2007.

By the way, note to Chris Matthews: Vice-President Biden’s first name is not “senator.” I heard Tweety slip twice last night and call the man “Senator Biden.”

Anyway. Take heart, America. The right guy is in charge. Is he ever.

February 24, 2009

Slam Dunk!!

By Papa Bonk

Nothing could have made me happier than I was last night, watching the Jayhawks beat the Sooners AT NORMAN, after having watched Barack Obama take the GOP leadership to school at the end of the Deficit Summit.

Of course, the Sooners were at something of a disadvantage with their number one weapon … potential national player of the year Blake Griffin… on the bench with injuries. Likewise, the GOP was at a disadvantage… the party is a veritable confederacy of dunces. There was John McCaine, rolling marbles round and round in his hand, telling the President about how awful it is that the President’s new helicopter is so fraught with cost overruns that will cost as much as Air Force One. In response Obama didn’t even point out, as I surely would have, that the new helicopter was the brain child of the previous administration. The President merely noted that he had “talked to Gates” about those costs, and added that he (The President) is perfectly happy with the helicopter he has. “Its not like I ever had one before.”

Then Eddie Cantor (GOP-VA) made his stock song and dance about balancing the budget (which GOPers have never actually done) and small government (which GOPers have never actually effected). Obama’s response? “Next.”

And thanks to Rep. Joe Barton (GOP-TX) who complained that the stimulus package was not bipartisan. This gave The President an opportunity to point out that bipartisanship requires the majority to be inclusive and the minority to be constructive. “They can’t just come in and blow stuff up.”

The deficit summit itself was a masterful piece of political theater. It was not really long enough (only a few hours) for any actual issues to have been worked through, but it made one point. Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, takes deficits seriously. Unlike GOPers, who have run up the greatest deficits in history while claiming to be budget balancers. This made it clear who holds the high road on this issue.

More Joy!! None of this has been lost on the general public which gives Obama high marks for leadership. According to the latest NYT/CBS Poll, nearly 75 percent of Americans, including 6 in 10 Republicans, said Mr. Obama had been trying to work with the GOP. But only 3 in 10 Americans said GOPers were doing the same. On the economic stimulus plan, 63 percent of poll respondents said GOPers opposed the legislation for political reasons, not policy ones. Seventy-nine percent said GOPers should now be working in a bipartisan manner.)

If the President keeps this up we will win the Big 12 Tournament!! Hell, we will repeat the Glorious NCAA VIctory of 2008!!

Filed Under: Speak Truth To Morons
February 23, 2009

A Few Links That Might Be Werth Reeding

By Brady Bonk

Which Idiot Decided to Repeal Glass-Steagall?

Which Idiot Decided Not to Regulate Credit Default Swaps?

February 22, 2009

Defending the Community Reinvestment Act

By Brady Bonk

Let’s talk McLaughlin for a sec.

I have been a loyal viewer of this fine television program for probably 15 years now. A few years ago, a housemate chided me for including the show on my Tivo season pass. Old men in ties barking about politics, she said? How the hell do you watch that? But I wouldn’t miss it. It’s the best thing on television this side of Battlestacked Galactica. Meet the Press, This Week, Face the Nation, and the weekly conservagoat circle jerk over there on Fox “News?” It’s all crap. You really want to know your stuff, you watch The McLaughlin Group.

Today’s segment on the aforementioned housing deal was scintillating. Pat “Cooper” Buchanan and Monica “Aleister” Crowley of course argued against it while Eleanor and Clarence think it’s reasonable. There are some things said by the former group that should be clarified. Sayeth Crowley:

The source of the public frustration with this plan is that the federal government is going in as a savior when the federal government created this problem in the first place with the Community Reinvestment Act, holding a gun to these banks’ heads…Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton started with the Community Reinvestment Act; they held a gun to these banks’ heads, told them to make these loans to people who had no opportunity to pay them back.

She’s quite a dancer, ain’t she? Notice how it’s the generic “federal government” who created the problem, notwithstanding that the “federal government” has been under Republigoat rule for the last eight years, and that, despite that, the housing market’s topple is the fault of President Clinton and, gasp, President Jimmy Carter, who left office in 1981.

There are, though, a few things worth understanding about the Community Reinvestment Act that any standard human being with at least two working phalanges can find on the Google.

For starters, I think it is important to understand the original motivation behind the CRA. It was meant to correct the practice of redlining, which was initially perpetrated by the United States government via the Federal Housing Administration in the 1930s. It is, I think, generally understood that the federal government has an obligation to try to correct institutionalized racial discrimination in the United States, especially when it was the federal government doing the institutionalizing. No? This was the aim of the CRA when adopted in 1977.

Characterizing the Act as “holding a gun” to the heads of banks is silly. The Act has ambiguous enforcement powers driven by the government’s oversight of FDIC coverage and specifically says that lending institutions should not be forced to make unsafe loans to comply, and lending institutions are not without sufficient help from the government in achieving compliance. No, the CRA is not some maniacal liberal social engineering experiment. It is reasonable public policy meant to correct a longtime wrong perpetrated specifically by Uncle Sam.

And, by the by, pinning the CRA on Carter and Clinton alone is just a lie. President George H.W. Bush in 1989 signed legislation increasing oversight provisions under the CRA in light of the Savings and Loan debacle.

Not to mention that Former President George W. Bush was, to some extent, down with the cause of minority home ownership. As previously mentioned on KIAV, in October 2002, he spoke at something called the Minority Homeownership Conference, and he said this:

More and more people own their homes in America today. Two-thirds of all Americans own their homes, yet we have a problem here in America because few than half of the Hispanics and half the African Americans own the home. That’s a homeownership gap. It’s a—it’s a gap that we’ve got to work together to close for the good of our country, for the sake of a more hopeful future. We’ve got to work to knock down the barriers that have created a homeownership gap.

I set an ambitious goal. It’s one that I believe we can achieve. It’s a clear goal, that by the end of this decade we’ll increase the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families. (Applause.)

See, Bush II was all behind increasing minority home ownership, though I rather doubt his support was motivated by righting a longstanding institutional wrong. However, Bush’s speech in October 2002 shows mightily that pinning the notion of increasing minority ownership on us bleeding-heart liberals is just a lie by a lying liar who lies.

Now. Has the Community Reinvestment Act contributed to the current turmoil? Cribbing more from the Wiki page: It’s debatable. Ron Paul thinks so, but Ron Paul thinks government should be you, your shotgun, and how well you can use it. Some guy named Stan Liebowitz and another guy named Russell Roberts, described as “a student of Milton Friedman,” so, duh. I think Ayn Rand probably would have believed so, too.

Who disbelieves this notion? Economists at FDIC and the Fed. San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Governor Randall Kroszner. Economist Luci Ellis. FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair. Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan. Tim Westrich of the Center for American Progress (okay, duh). Robert Gordon of the American Prospect. Daniel Gross of Slate (duh). Aaron Pressman from BusinessWeek.

And remember, kids, only regulated financial institutions are obligated to comply with the CRA. Independent mortgage firms need not apply. Stolen from the Wiki:

In the February 2008 House hearing, law professor Michael S. Barr, a Treasury Department official under President Clinton,[67][34] stated that a Federal Reserve survey showed that affected institutions considered CRA loans profitable and not overly risky. He noted that approximately 50% of the subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA, and another 25% to 30% came from only partially CRA regulated bank subsidiaries and affiliates. Barr noted that institutions fully regulated by CRA made “perhaps one in four” sub-prime loans, and that “the worst and most widespread abuses occurred in the institutions with the least federal oversight”.

The housing mess is a complicated issue, one that a person cannot simply pin a singular cause upon. I am certainly not qualified to even begin to understand its causes, though I tend to think that the general culture of deregulation that has existed for some 30 years didn’t help. But, my goodness, to suggest that a law passed in 1977 to address the institutional injustice of redlining is solely to blame and to use that blame to hang that albatross on the neck of the opposing political party specifically…well, that just isn’t right.

Is There Nobody Who Can Answer This Question Correctly?

By Brady Bonk

I have just listened to some of Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger on “This Week with Aloysius Snuffleupagus” over my eggs with scallions this morning. It was funny to hear him dodge around on the fact that he campaigned on eliminating California’s car tax but of course can’t do that now by any stretch of the imagination. Republigoats have such unrealistic expectations when it comes to taxes. It’s like putting read-my-lipstick on a pig.

What I don’t understand is how every flappity head I’m hearing has such trouble answering douchebags like Rick Santelli:

“The government is promoting bad behavior!” CNBC’s Rick Santelli complained about President Barack Obama’s mortgage bailout plan from the Chicago Board of Trade, as traders urged him on. “This is America! How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills?”

Snuffleupagus put this question to The Governator, who promptly gave the kumbaya answer, the “we should help our neighbors out of the goodness of our hearts.” It’s the wrong answer. Why’s it so hard to suggest that tanking home values affect the entire market and the overall economy and that the nature of this crisis makes it better to keep people in their homes rather than to offer forensic accountants the horrific task of figuring out who owns the cole slaw debt? What’s so damned difficult about that answer?

Filed Under: Money
February 20, 2009

Don't They Know, It's The End Of The World?

By Brady Bonk

I’m sick of the 911 system. I don’t want my tax money to go to it. I stay healthy and live in a low-crime neighborhood—where’s my ride in an emergency vehicle that gets to run red lights? Why should my hard-earned dollars subsidize cops for losers who were brutally assaulted because they decided to live in high-crime areas, or emergency medical care for slobs who had heart attacks because they chose to smoke or let themselves get out of shape? Isn’t that just encouraging bad behavior? If we help these people, won’t a lot of them just go back to the same old bad ways of living? Or, say, if I have smoke detectors and a fire burns down the house of some idiot who doesn’t, that couldn’t possibly affect my house, could it? So why should I be forced to subsidize a fire department? To me, the #1 priority has to be avoiding moral hazard. That’s why I say let all the losers suffer and die. It’s not as if anything bad could ever happen to the rest of us—we’re smart and responsible. Right?

I don’t usually steal an entire post from another blogster. It is not often considered proper. But I liked it so much, and it nicely punctuates my latest wonder. So, thanks to No More Mister Nice Blog.

You know, the idiocy this nation is being asked to put up with these days is just incredible, especially in the face of this particular fact: During the 2008 election, the Republigoat nominee for President attempted to win the election by painting the Democratic nominee as a “socialist” for espousing perfectly reasonable and necessary monetary programs to right the economy and to help clean up the disaster created by the driving philosophy of Republigoat and/or conservative politics. That attempt failed. John McWeirdsmile lost the election. Barack Obama won the election and became President of the United States of America.

In fact, he won decisively. From the Wiki:

Obama’s raw popular vote margin of victory (approximately 9.5 million votes) was the largest ever for a non-incumbent presidential candidate, and the sixth largest margin of victory ever. Obama’s popular vote percentage (52.9%) is also the highest for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and the highest overall since George H. W. Bush was elected president in 1988. He also received more votes than any presidential candidate in American history, breaking the previous record of just over 62 million, held by President George W. Bush after his successful reelection bid in 2004. Meanwhile, John McCain set the record for the most votes received by a losing presidential candidate with slightly less than 60 million votes, beating the record of just over 59 million set by John Kerry.

We won. And we didn’t squeak by. We achieved a stunning victory. And that victory was powered primarily in the face of a cross-eyed, cynical, moronic attempt to paint reasonable monetary policy as “socialism.”

So, why in the wide wide world of sports do we still have to listen to idiots like Glenn Beck sound the shofar that the recently passed recovery package is socialism? Why, why, why? And why do we have to put up with the Bizarro-Utopian Anarchists like Jindal and Perry, governors grandstanding, threatening not to accept federal money?

(I say Congress now has the power to rescind those funds from any Repuligoat who whines about being offered them. Let those assholes explain that to their constituents.)

But didn’t we soundly kick the ass of the absurd notion that a government spending money to prime the pump is “socialism?” Why do we still have to hear such nonsense?

Meanwhile, it just keeps getting better and better. The Dow hit an 11-year low. And, filed under “as Mexican as apple pie,” the plant in Reading, Pa. that makes the Peppermint Patty is closing and moving to Mexico. No, America doesn’t need a stimulus. Not at all. DUH.

PE In Full Effect, Boyeeeee

By Brady Bonk

“We need messengers to really capture that region — young, Hispanic, black, a cross section…We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

GOP Chair Michael Steel

I hope Mr. Steele will take some time to follow this link to learn a little bit about “hip-hop” “settings” and, perhaps, to see how utterly ridiculous it is for his stupid party to try to lay any semblance of any claim to that culture. Yeah, boyeeeee!