Roy Blunt Caught In Liaison With Rosy Scenario

Last night, I came across an interesting story in the Joplin Globe.  The paper’s first-class reporter, Susan Redden covered Roy Blunt’s trip to Carterville back in March of 2008.  Blunt was there celebrating—via a business in Carterville—the Republican-supported economic stimulus package, then recently passed and signed by President Bush.

Yes, I said, “the Republican-supported economic stimulus package.”  There was such a creature, and it failed to do its job. Miserably. 

But the interesting thing about the story was Roy Blunt’s flagrant intercourse with Rosy Scenario, that loose dame who goes both ways—depending on who’s living at the White House.

According to Ms. Redden, here is what our congressman, Roy The Optimist, had to say in the Spring of 2008, mere months before the largest financial meltdown since the Great Depression:

The condition of the U.S. economy is not as bad as it is being portrayed, U.S. Rep Roy Blunt said Tuesday on a tour of a Joplin-area manufacturer.

Blunt never spoke the word recession, instead citing “unemployment at historic lows” and an increase in housing starts in February.

“You won’t hear that on the 24-hour news,” he said. “All the fundamentals are strong, especially in Southwest Missouri. I’m concerned we’re going to talk ourselves into economic problems.”

Get that?  All the fundamentals are strong! That line sounded so good that John McCain borrowed it for his presidential campaign, although with limited success.

And Blunt was “concerned” that we were going to “talk ourselves into economic problems.”  At least you have to give Roy credit for creativity.  While most conservative analysts eventually blamed the meltdown on government intervention,* he had the good sense to pre-emptively blame it on free speech. 

But there’s more:

He said the stimulus legislation includes an accelerated depreciation schedule that will allow businesses that invest at least $800,000 into new equipment to write off $250,000 in taxes the first year.

“That change in the tax code will allow businesses to write off more of their investments in equipment and facilities,” Blunt said. “It should help small businesses expand and add jobs. We really should see a reaction in the next couple of months.”

These days you hear Republicans blaming the Obama administration for its misplaced confidence (yes, Obama has slept with Rosy Scenario, too) in the Democrats’ stimulus package, passed earlier this year.  But given what happened after Blunt made his comments, I think it’s fair to say that he was Rosy’s biggest lover of all time.  Okay.  At least in the last few years.

Still more:

Blunt, the 7th District congressman who is minority whip in the House, said the more aggressive depreciation schedule is among several changes in the tax code designed to stimulate the economy by encouraging production and job creation.

“It’s the best part of the stimulus package because it’s better than one-time spending,” he said, referring to federal rebate checks to be mailed later this year.

Just more evidence that supply-side economics is not the panacea that conservative Republicans claim.  “Aggressive depreciation schedules” and other such remedies were useless in the face of the Tsunami that was yet to hit.

And in a declaration that would surely vex the saintly Dave Ramsey, Redden reported:

He acknowledged reports that many people say they plan to pay off debts with their rebate checks, which are designed to spur consumer spending.

“If they pay off debt that won’t be a bad thing, because some of them will turn around and incur more debt,” he said.

But finally, Blunt presciently endorsed now-President Obama’s energy policy:

Blunt agreed that gasoline-price hikes are affecting shipping and other areas of the economy, and he said the United States needs an energy policy that encourages energy production, including from alternative sources.

“And we’ve got to use our own resources, from biofuels to wind, to take the pressure off,” he said.

All of this sort of undermines Blunt’s efforts to undermine Obama and the Democrats, as Roy The Forgetful undertakes his campaign to become our senator.

Here are some attempts by the memory-challenged Blunt to criticize Democratic efforts to undo the damage Blunt and his party did to the economy:

The national jobless rate has surged to 9.8 percent, the highest since 1983, even though the liberals’ so called “stimulus” plan that I opposed was promised to deliver a “worst-case” unemployment rate of 8 percent this year…Now the Obama Administration is considering a “Stimulus Two.”

Robin Carnahan is satisfied with the way things are going in Washington. I’m not.

In passing the now-failed stimulus, one-party Washington promised that joblessness would level off at 8.5 percent this year. But it got worse. Washington has proven what Missouri common sense already knows and teaches. We cannot “borrow our way of debt.” People can’t. Governments can’t. It doesn’t work for the nation’s budget. It doesn’t work, because it can’t work.

Finally, like all conservative politicians, Roy Blunt has a tried-and-false solution for our economic woes:  

…if we want more consumer spending and job creation, then let’s reduce people’s taxes.

The mantra of cutting taxes never grows old for some Republicans, mainly, I suppose, because it works on the bubbabots, who think their children’s reduced and free lunches, Social Security, Medicare, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, interstate highways, blah, blah, blah, are indeed “free.”

Not that Blunt doesn’t also propose to do something about our wild federal government:

While we do this, Washington must get control of government spending.

Wow!  Blunt wants to “control” the feds!  The following is an up-to-date list of federal agencies and programs Roy The Courageous is advocating that we cut, scale back, or “control”:

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for updates to the preceding list.

* Ironically, the Republican-supported stimulus package of 2008 also contained the following, according to Fox “News”: 
To address the mortgage crisis, the package raises the limit on Federal Housing Administration loans from $362,790 to as high as $729,750 in expensive areas, allowing more subprime mortgage holders to refinance into federally insured loans. To widen the availability of mortgages across the country, it also provides a one-year boost to the cap on loans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can buy, from $417,000 up to $729,750 in high-cost markets.
Look for Roy The Duplicitous to blame Democrats for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac malfeasance at some point in the 2010 Senate campaign.

[Photo: Globe/Roger Normer]

Republican Demagogic Efficiency

Now that President Obama has acknowledged “systemic failure” on the part of the government to do its part to keep airplanes from becoming terrorists’ weapons, it is time to assess Republican behavior in the aftermath of the Christmas Day incident in the Michigan sky.

While I’m not shocked that Republicans would use the near-tragedy as a vehicle to gain political advantage, their speed and efficiency in doing so is, well, breathtaking.  Since there is none better on television to explain such behavior, I will rely on Rachel Maddow to do the job in two separate segments:

A Decade Of Delinquency

I know I may be slaying a slain elephant, but there are signs that voters may be forgetting conservative malgovernance, resurrecting too soon the carcass of the Republican Party.  So, I’m of the mind that the results of error-ridden political philosophy should be eagerly broadcast, as often as possible.

Since Paul Krugman summed up the last decade, I will sum up Paul Krugman:

“It was a decade with basically zero job creation.”

“It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family.”

“It was a decade of zero gains for homeowners… And for those who bought in the decade’s middle years…[a]lmost a quarter of all mortgages in America, and 45 percent of mortgages in Florida, are underwater, with owners owing more than their houses are worth.”

“Last and least for most Americans — but a big deal for retirement accounts, not to mention the talking heads on financial TV — it was a decade of zero gains for stocks, even without taking inflation into account.”

“Even now, it’s hard to get Democrats, President Obama included, to deliver a full-throated critique of the practices that got us into the mess we’re in. And as for the Republicans: now that their policies of tax cuts and deregulation have led us into an economic quagmire, their prescription for recovery is — tax cuts and deregulation.”

Help Glenn Beck: Send $$$$

As a service to Four State bubbabots, who may be in the market for a summer house in Connecticut, here is a listing for Glenn Beck’s home in New Canaan, a steal at only $4 million:

 

While New Canaan, Connecticut (the wealthiest town in the state, with a per capita income of $85,459), is no Pineville, there is a water view from at least one of its four floors, and what self-respecting bubbabot wouldn’t want to sleep where Glenn slept?  

This conservative beauty has somewhere between  8,720 and 11,320 square feet of living space, 6 bedrooms, 5 full and 3 half baths, which is more toilets than are found in great swaths of McDonald County.

Anyway, since the $23 million-dollar-a-year Mr. Beck stands to lose about a quarter of a mill, if he sells now, compassionate conservatives in the area may want to send $$$$ to the populist broadcaster to offset his loss.  Just send any and all donations in care of The Erstwhile Conservative.

I’ll see that Glenn gets them.

 

Mad Max 5: The Truth About Republicans

After watching the following video, which features Democrat Senator Max Baucus in, shall we say, an altered state of consciousness—one in which the usual Senate “decorum” succumbs to much-needed honesty—I am convinced that whatever Mad Max was smoking/drinking/swallowing, he should pass it on to his colleagues:

Never, Never, Never Forget GOP Malfeasance

Today’s Globe carried an AP story—way back on page 6B—titled, “Dems see GOP hypocrisy in health debate.”

The story began:

Republican senators attacking the cost of a Democratic health care bill showed far different concerns six years ago, when they approved a major Medicare expansion that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits.

The inconsistency — or hypocrisy, as some call it — has irked Democrats, who claim that their plan will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and cite the nonpartisan Con­gressional Budget Office for sup­port.

By contrast, when Republi­cans controlled the House, Sen­ate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit­financed prescription drug ben­efit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.

The story points out that 24 Republican senators who voted against health care reform voted for the 2003 Medicare expansion, quoting some of them including Orrin Hatch:

Six years ago, “it was standard practice not to pay for things,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. “We were concerned about it, because it certainly added to the deficit, no question.” His 2003 vote has been vindicated, Hatch said, because the prescription drug benefit “has done a lot of good.”

So, it was okay to fund expansion of Medicare six years ago because “it was standard practice”?  What a defense.

But particularly galling were the comments of Olympia Snowe, who Obama and Senate Democrats courted to the point of nausea in order to gain her “bipartisan” vote:

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said simply: “Dredging up histo­ry is not the way to move for­ward.” She noted that she fought unsuccessfully to offset some of President George W. Bush’s deep tax cuts at the time.

But for now, she said, “it’s a question of what’s in this pack­age,” which the Senate passed Thursday in a party-line vote. The Senate bill still must be rec­onciled with a House version.

The political situation is dif­ferent now, Snowe said, because “we’re in a tough climate and people are angry and frustrat­ed.”

Sounding like Anson Burlingame, her “let’s forget about the past and move forward” dodge doesn’t do justice to the harm Republicans have done to the economy, and just because we are in a “tough climate”—created by Republican malfeasance—I suppose we are all supposed to forget about the fact that most congressional Republicans truly are monumental hypocrites.

Thankfully some honest conservatives still exist:

“As far as I am concerned, any Republican who voted for the Medicare drug benefit has no right to criticize anything the Democrats have done in terms of adding to the national debt,” said Bruce Bartlett, an official in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He made his comments in a Forbes article titled “Republi­can Deficit Hypocrisy.”

Bartlett said the 2003 Medicare expansion was “a pure give­away” that cost more than this year’s Senate or House health bills will cost. More important, he said, “the drug benefit had no dedicated financing, no offsets and no revenue-raisers. One hundred percent of the cost sim­ply added to the federal budget deficit.”

The pending health care bills in Congress, he noted, are pro­jected to add nothing to the deficit over 10 years.

The AP story also points out that the 2003 Medicare expansion vote was quite divisive in the House:

It resulted in a nearly three-hour roll call in which GOP leaders put extraor­dinary pressure on colleagues to back the prescription drug addi­tion to Medicare. In the end, 204 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted for the bill.

Part of that “extraordinary pressure” was exerted by none other than our own Roy Blunt, who was part of the Republican leadership in the House at the time* and who is now seeking to bring his hypocrisy with him to the Senate, should he convince a majority of Missourians next year he is worthy of Kit Bond’s seat. Bond, by the way, also hypocritically voted for Medicare expansion and against health care reform.

*Jo Ann Emerson from the 8th congressional district in Missouri changed her “no” vote to “aye,” after pressure from Republican leaders in the House. The bill initially passed the House 216 to 215.

Olivia Ruth Smith’s First Christmas

OLIVIA RUTH SMITH

The Erstwhile Conservative’s New Blogging Associate

Her first Christmas, her first visit to Santa, and her first snow.

No Christmas Cheer Here

In Barbra Streisand’s Yentl, a film based on Isaac Singer’s short story about a defiant Jewish girl who undertook the study of Jewish law and theology by disguising herself as a boy, there is a scene in which a bookseller with his wagon full of books offered, “Picture books for women, story books for men.”

Before his death, Yentl’s father, a Rabbi, had secretly taught her Talmudic law, despite the fact that women were not allowed at the time to receive an education equal to that of men.

Fundamentalists have always, it seemed, been enemies of equal education for women.  

The Apostle Paul, himself a highly educated man, wrote almost two centuries ago in 1 Timothy 2:11:

A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.

Today, out of Peshawar, Pakistan, we read:

The Taliban blew up a girls’ school in Pakistan’s Khyber district, where troops are fighting against militants in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan, an official said Wednesday.

The AFP story also reports:

Islamist militants opposed to co-education and subscribers to sharia law have destroyed hundreds of schools, mostly for girls, in northwest Pakistan in recent years.

Fortunately, for the most part, 21st century fundamentalist Christianity has been tamed by modernity, at least when it comes to blowing up houses of education for women, but modernity has not touched millions of Islamic extremists world-wide, who are hell-bent on inflicting centuries-old ideas on the rest of us. 

I have grave and insurmountable doubts that our continued prosecution of the “War on Terror” will succeed in eliminating such thinking from the face of the earth.  Perhaps the only way to do so is for “sensible” Muslims to begin a widespread campaign to condemn the Taliban and other Islamic extremists for such evil acts like the one committed in Pakistan today.

But nothing resembling such a movement appears to be on the horizon, and our century proceeds with a large number of medieval minds menacing civilization, and the only recourse seems to be killing them, one by one.

Rita, Bill O’ And The Necessity Defense

An AP story in the Globe this morning examined an interesting legal question surrounding the upcoming trial of Scott Roeder, the “pro-lifer” charged with the murder of George Tiller in Wichita.

Roeder has confessed to the crime (to the AP, no less), so his guilt is not in doubt, but his apparent defense will be to contend in some way or another that the murder was “necessary” to prevent the killing of unborn “babies.”

Now, even though such a “necessity defense” or “choice of evils defense” will likely fail, I understand why someone like Roeder would raise it. In fact, I’ve written before about the difference between those people in the anti-abortion movement who are “serious” about the rhetoric they use and those who are not.

Many months ago, I criticized our own abortion foe and Globe letter-writer, Rita Crowell, who had submitted a letter to the paper in which she compared President Obama to King Herod, one of the worst figures in Christian history:

A vote for Obama is a vote for dead children and an attack on God Himself. Let us not elect a Herod in this forthcoming election.

I wrote in response:

…the real problem with Ms. Crowell’s position on abortion is that she isn’t serious. I mean really serious. Imagine if, in Springfield, Mo., there were hundreds of elementary schoolchildren being systematically slaughtered every year. Imagine Ms. Crowell knowing where such slaughter was being perpetrated. Imagine her finding out who was doing the killing. And then imagine her merely writing letters to the Joplin Globe about it.

No, what she would do, hopefully along with others who share her convictions about murdering schoolchildren, is go to the slaughterhouse and put a stop to it, even if violence against the perpetrators were necessary.

In the case of Scott Roeder, merely protesting in front of George Tiller’s clinic wasn’t enough for him.  He is one anti-abortion true believer who takes his beliefs seriously, who really believes that abortion is tantamount to murder, thus justifying his actions.  His beliefs, as abhorrent as they are, are buttressed by almost the entire “pro-life” culture, whose members, like Rita Crowell, routinely say and write things like the following:

The No. 1 issue for the forthcoming Nov. 4 election should be the elimination of abortion. Abortion is a grave sin, an unspeakable crime against God and nature. Elimination of abortion supersedes and overshadows all considerations of the economy, poverty, health care, war and illegal immigration. Abortion is concerned about whether an innocent child lives or dies.

Whether local people like Rita Crowell or national figures like Bill O’Reilly realize it or not, their extreme, Manichean rhetoric makes the world safe for Talibanic extremists like Roeder, who see themselves as God’s instruments to accomplish the “elimination of abortion.” 

To be sure, Ms. Crowell, despite her hate-filled missives to the Globe, is not directly responsible for Roeder’s actions. His decision to shoot Dr. Tiller at point-blank range was his and his alone.

But I certainly don’t remember the frequent letter-writer ever submitting a letter condemning the murder of Dr. Tiller, whose gruesome killing really did remind one of the King Herod of old.

The AP story indicates that Roeder’s attorneys probably won’t  use the necessity defense, a legal long shot, but instead:

Legal experts and others close to the case have suggested his public defenders may actually be aiming at a conviction on a lesser offense such as voluntary manslaughter — defined in Kansas as “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force.”

Part of any “unreasonable but honest belief” would certainly include being persuaded by the incessant extremist rhetoric pervasive throughout the anti-abortion culture, even if most of those who author such rhetoric—hopefully that includes Rita Crowell—don’t take it as seriously as the Scott Roeders of the world.

Lest We Forget

Paul Krugman, my favorite liberal columnist, summed up the health care reform fiasco the other day with some advice:

A message to progressives: By all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy. Declare that you’re disappointed in and/or disgusted with President Obama. Demand a change in Senate rules that, combined with the Republican strategy of total obstructionism, are in the process of making America ungovernable.

But meanwhile, pass the health care bill.

He also pointed out what some of us, who wanted the reform bill to do so much more, often forget:

With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.

Krugman also reminded us of the fiscal responsibility incorporated into the bill:

All of this would be paid for in large part with the first serious effort ever to rein in rising health care costs.

Finally, he addressed the need to reform the way the Senate functions in today’s polarized political environment:

The filibuster, and the need for 60 votes to end debate, aren’t in the Constitution. They’re a Senate tradition, and that same tradition said that the threat of filibusters should be used sparingly. Well, Republicans have already trashed the second part of the tradition: look at a list of cloture motions over time, and you’ll see that since the G.O.P. lost control of Congress it has pursued obstructionism on a literally unprecedented scale. So it’s time to revise the rules.

Amen to all.

[Photo: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times]

Some Wild-Eyed Liberal Obama Turns Out To Be

The strategy used to engineer the health reform bill through Congress was flawed from the beginning. 

President Obama should have presented a clear blueprint for the legislation, insisted on it, and worked like hell to make sure it happened. 

He also should have made clear that at the very least a public option was a necessary component to any reform effort, since for whatever reason that’s what the base of his party expected him to do.  And he should have communicated the idea broadly that he was willing to walk away from any attenuated version.

But whether it came from Rahm Emanuel or some other high level staffer, the President listened to bad advice and now, with only an extremely watered-down version of health care reform on the table, Obama has strained relations not with just unreasonable and doctrinaire liberals in the Democratic Party, but with union leaders, the heart and soul of Democratic electoral success. 

The election-time money and manpower that unions provide is essential, if Democrats want to retain control of Congress next year and the White House in 2012.  Even if there is only a slight reduction in enthusiasm among union activists, that difference could prove crucial in many races around the country, and the way things are developing now, there is likely to be something more than a trivial pique among union folks, who will provide the necessary commitment to work for and contribute to Democrats next fall, not to mention two years later.

As reported by Sam Stein, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said:

[For] this health care bill to be worthy of the support of working men and women, substantial changes must be made. The AFL-CIO intends to fight on behalf of all working families to make those changes and win health care reform that is deserving of the name.

Particularly striking is the lack of support coming from SEIU President Andy Stern, who conservatives believe is constantly in Obama’s ear and who they stupidly believe is so powerful that Obama must obey him. Sam Stein again reported:

President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of ‘Yes We Can’ was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible.

Throughout the legislative process, Obama has at times appeared to be disengaged from the battle, although it is possible he was working hard behind the scenes.  He also had a lot of other issues to contend with, but that only accentuates the need to have had not just a broad set of “principles” to guide congressional Democrats, but clear legislative language that would have served as a basis for the final bill.  Such language, as with all bargaining positions, should have had enough room built in to compromise without compromising away the essentials.

But the current form of the bill is widely perceived to be so weak as not to constitute real reform, and no matter how many times David Axelrod says it is real reform, many Democrats like Howard Dean—who are unquestionably loyal to Obama—aren’t buying it.

All of this shows that far from being the wild-eyed, radical liberal that many right-wingers portray him to be, Obama is a sober-minded, slightly-left-of-center pragmatist, who is destined to disappoint the real wild-eyed, radical liberals in the Democratic Party time and time again.

And while Democrats may be able to survive disappointing extremists in the party, pissing off union activists will likely prove to be politically fatal.

Politico Scores With Pick

David Catanese, the man behind KY3’s political blog, the Political Notebook,  is leaving the area to go to work for Politico in Washington D.C.  He will be reporting on national politics, but assures us that he will still be covering happenings in Missouri.  Let’s hope so.  He is a first class reporter, and the chance to work for one of the best political sites on the Internet is testament to that.

We can only hope that whoever replaces him in Springfield will do as good a job as he did in keeping up with local issues and pols.

Oral Roberts, RIP

One of the first books I ever cracked was a copy of The New Testament with Personal Commentary by Oral Roberts.  

When I was a kid, my mom was a fan of Roberts’ ministry, since she had been raised in a Pentecostal church.   As a meager contributor to the ministry, she would receive “gifts,” usually in the form of one of Oral’s books, as I recall.  My mom had plenty of his books.

Mostly out of respect for her memory, I won’t review all of the negatives about Mr. Roberts. Suffice it to say that “men of God” are in the end simply “men.”  They will die like all of us, and in between being “born again,” which is supposed to be a transformation, and death, the real transformer, they suffer like all of us suffer and their families endure the severest of tragedies.

Oral Roberts and his family endured their share.

His daughter and her husband were killed in a plane crash. His oldest son committed suicide.  And it was upon the death of that son, Ronald, that Oral made the remark for which I will most remember him because it represents in the heart of man a noble defiance against the apparent coldness and cruelties of the cosmos.

It was Oral’s way of giving the finger to the universe:

There’ll be no graves cut in the hillsides of heaven.

There is a touch of sadness in that statement, but the note of triumph—real or imagined—is striking, particularly in the face of the intentional death of one’s child. The hope of a future triumph over all that ails us is an old but ingenious way to cope with the misfortunes of life, with the otherwise unbearable hardships that happen even to—real or imagined—men of God.

Oral probably borrowed his phrasing from Billy Sunday:

In heaven they never mar the hillsides with spades, for they dig no graves. . . . In heaven no one carries handkerchiefs, for nobody cries. In heaven they never phone for the undertaker, for nobody dies.

To be sure, the hope of a better world in the sweet by and by has caused great pain in this one, and we don’t have to look any farther than the fact that 19 Islamic fanatics, their eyes on heaven, killed 3000 Americans more than eight years ago, an event that spawned two wars and that has led to the death of four thousand more Americans, and thousands upon thousands of Muslims.

But so, too, has such triumphant hope given aid and comfort to many people, including my own mother, who was very fond of Oral Roberts and who—I respectfully and triumphantly hope—is even now enjoying his company.

Remarks And Asides

FiredUp!Missouri posted the narrative from the incident report involving the alleged assault of a woman by Rod Jetton, former Missouri Speaker of the House. The case has now become rather gruesome, if the allegations contained in the report are true. Jetton, though, as plenty of cash on hand, thanks to his lucrative Republican consulting business, to pay for a very good lawyer, which he will obviously need.

_____________

Juan Don has characteristically weighed in on the perennial “War on Christmas”:

The predictable media uproar appears contrived. A registered Democrat for some time, I’ve never heard of pro-choice pagans interested in protesting publicly-funded nativity scenes. Call me Ishmael, but wouldn’t Slomo’s donkey and Buddha’s beautiful belly provide novel additions to the usual suspects surrounding Baby Jesus? Including Spider Man, SpongeBob SquarePants and Mickey Rourke as manger staples could go a long way in broadening Christianity’s cultural appeal.

_____________

In Sunday’s Globe, blogger Jessica Schreindl wrote:

How can one promote peace through violence? How can one decrease pain and suffering through waging war? How can one force democracy and freedom on a people?

But such is the rationale of the American government.

One at a time:

Peace can be promoted through violence. See WWII.

Pain and suffering can be decreased through waging war. See WWII.

Democracy and freedom can’t be “forced” on anyone, but that has nothing to do with the first two. Just because Bush and Cheney led us into an unnecessary war in Iraq, doesn’t mean that all military actions are wrong.

 _____________

Speaking of the war in Iraq, Tony Blair has honestly, though foolishly, admitted that he would have supported the Iraq war even if he had known that Saddam Hussein didn’t have those allusive weapons of mass destruction. He told the BBC:

“I would still have thought it right to remove him (Saddam Hussein). Obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat,” he said.

It’s hard for any politician to admit mistakes, but it is nearly impossible when it involves sending men and women to die.

_____________

Some conservatives have praised President Obama’s Oslo speech.  Sara Palin even claimed that Obama’s professorial lecture on the just war concept “sounded familiar” to her because it sounded like something she had written in her book. 

For those of you who haven’t forked over the dough and purchased her book, let it be known that Sarah spent 500 pages examining the history of the just war concept, spending 230 pages on just Thomas Aquinas’ views.  She adroitly addressed every nuance of the philosophical underpinnings of the doctrine and neatly recapitulated her thoughts on the idea, using a paucity of polysyllabic words, so the bubbabots could understand her.

She is one smart babe.

And Liz Cheney, channeling her father, couldn’t help but wax nasty:

But we still had in this speech, you know, it is almost like it has become reflexive, this notion that America abandoned its ideals after 9/11. And I think that as we see this president repeatedly go on foreign soil, and accuse America of having tortured people, talk about Guantanamo Bay as an abandonment of our ideals, you know, that part of the speech to me really is nothing short of shameful.

_____________

It is clear now that Houston, Texas, will have a lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, which will make Houston the largest city in the U.S. to ever elect an openly gay candidate. Hopefully, the next big breakthrough will come when an openly agnostic candidate or, God forbid, an atheist, is elected to Congress—just for the hell of it.

_____________

No surprise that Joe Lieberman said on Face The Nation he would vote against the health care proposal currently being scored by the CBO, which includes a provision to expand Medicare to those 55 and older. Between him and Ben Nelson, who has thrown the abortion issue into the mix in the Senate, things don’t look good for passing health care reform with anything resembling a “public option” in it.  If Joe kills the bill, he should be forced to caucus with his Republican brethren, where he can play with Orrin Hatch’s organ.

_____________

Chuck Todd, NBC News’ Chief White House Correspondent and political director, is one of the best in the business.  Fortunately, MSNBC is going to feature him (along with Savannah Guthrie, who is also talented) at 8 am on a new show called “Daily Rundown.”

“Impeach Obama!” So Say The Stupid

Public Policy Polling performed a public service and conducted a poll on stupidity.   Officially, about 20% of the voting population is stupid. 

The poll was cleverly disguised.  It involved asking voters whether Obama should be impeached for his actions as president thus far. A full 20% of the respondents said “yes” to that question.  So, I think it is reasonable to conclude that about 1 in 5 of our fellow citizen-voters is dead from the heart up.

We can also extrapolate from these polling numbers that there are more stupid Republicans than Democrats, since 35% of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached and “only” 10% of Democrats do.

The numbers also reveal that the older one gets, the stupider one gets, contrary to popular cultural notions; that people who live in the Midwest and South are just slightly dumber than elsewhere; that white people are almost 5 times more idiotic than blacks; that there are 6 times as many stupid conservatives as stupid liberals.

The one bright spot in the data is that men and women appear to be almost equally brain dead.

Finally, another category measured “near-stupidity,” in the form of asking whether voters presently preferred Obama or George W. Bush.  Respondents indicated that they preferred Obama to Bush, but only 50% to 44%, so, again, it is safe to conclude that 44% of the voting population is either stupid or knocking on the door, demanding to get in.

Thank you Public Policy Polling for your clever little poll.

The Jettison Jetton Watch

According to The KY3 Political Notebook:

Hours after former House Speaker Rod Jetton announced through an attorney that he was shutting down his political consulting firm Tuesday, Willard Rep. Shane Schoeller said he was severing ties with Jetton for good.

The Kansas City Star:

Missouri House Speaker Ron Richard released this statement regarding Rod Jetton, the political consultant charged yesterday with felony assault:

“The allegations against former Speaker Jetton are extremely serious. I feel very sad for each of the families that have been affected. Right now, it is important to let the prosecutors, judge and jury begin their work to determine whether the charges are accurate. If the allegations prove to be true, Jetton should be prepared to accept the full legal and other consequences of his actions.”

From stltoday:

Sen. Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, told reporters he was “shocked and disappointed” when he heard about the charge. Mayer was one of three Missouri senators to have paid Jetton to be a consultant even while he was speaker of the House, an arrangement that has been criticized by some Democrats and Republicans as rife with possible ethical conflict.

Mayer said he hadn’t used Jetton as a consultant since in late 2008 and early 2009. He said he had faith the judicial system will work.

Missourians Need A Safe Word

It’s no secret that Republican politics in Missouri has been tainted by money, but now we can throw sex into the mix.

Former Speaker of the Missouri House, Rod Jetton, may be a powerful man in Missouri politics, but not so powerful that he can escape this, as reported by the Kansas City Star:

The Scott County court clerk confirms a felony complaint has been filed against former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton for an incident that allegedly took place Nov. 15 in Sikeston, Mo… The complaint alleges Jetton “recklessly caused serious physical injury to ——- by hitting her on the head, and choking her resulting in unconsciousness and the loss of the function of part of her body.”

It appears that Rod was allegedly engaged in some, shall we say, conservative S&M, and the alleged victim failed to use the “safe word” to take the “S” out of S&M:

The safe word was allegedly “green balloons.”  The next day, Jetton allegedly told the victim: “You should have said green balloons.”

According to the detective’s report, Jetton and the alleged “M” were drinking wine and watching football, then:

“(The woman) recalls Jetton hitting her on the face very hard. She then remembers waking up, lying on the floor and Jetton was choking her. (The woman) said she did not know what happened with her memory because she had been drunk but had never had the blank spots in her memory,” McDermott reported.

“(The woman) said Jetton stayed the night with her and when he woke up he gave her a kiss and said, ‘You should have said green balloons.’ Jetton left the woman’s residence and had not returned,” McDermott added.

The detective also reported that a police officer observed bruises on the woman and that pictures were taken on November 18.

It’s a little ironic, isn’t it, that the alleged safe word was “green” balloons, since Jetton’s career has revolved around the green. Here is a excerpt from a piece I posted on November 3, which attempted to explore some of the unseemly green transactions going on in Missouri:

Jetton, who was term-limited out of the House in 2008, became a full-time consultant, and in the words of the Kansas City Star,  ”a conduit for campaign contributions greasing the legislative gears in Jefferson City.”  While serving as House speaker, his consulting firm was aptly titled, “Common Sense Conservative Consulting.”

According to the Star’s report a few weeks ago:

From his office on High Street just blocks from the Capitol, Jetton now counts among his clients nearly the entire slate of House Republican leadership, key committee chairmen and a handful of senators.

The Star also reported that Jetton has a relationship with the Humphreys family of Joplin:

Jetton and other House leaders have courted the Humphreys family for years. According to a Jetton confidant, who asked not to be identified, Jetton set a goal at the start of his reign as speaker to cultivate the Humphreys family first as $50,000 donors and then elevate the family to $100,000.

Obviously, it won’t be long before Jetton’s conservative friends abandon him. But let the record show that it wasn’t his using his position as Speaker of the House to make money via his consulting firm or his seeking lots of cash from people like the Humphreys family that may or may not have been connected to a House vote, but it was Jetton’s alleged penchant for sadomasochism that will drive the conservatives away.

If only the rest of us had a “safe word” we could use to get Missouri Republicans to stop Jettonizing us.   

The Next Victim Is Justice

Local educator, William G. Keczkemethy, wrote a column in Sunday’s Globe titled, Will you be the next victim? The column focused on “violent, anti-social behavior” and the inability of our legal system and public officials to adequately address such behavior. 

Mr. Keczkemethy pointed out just how bad violent crime is in some places in the United States and how our criminal justice sometimes fails us, and he somewhat outrageously compared America to Somalia—a place which does not have a working government—saying, “And we think Somalia is barbaric and violent!”

He then wrote:

Many Americans have been programmed to question and debate anything and everything. Virtually every crime and criminal now has apologists and supporters… Some claim that criminals are not really bad, but compelled into criminality by forces such as poverty. This apologetic link between being poor and criminal is weak… Apologizing for violence undermines clear understanding between right and wrong…

Personally,  I don’t know of anyone who believes that “criminals are not really bad” or who believes people are “compelled into criminality by forces such as poverty.”  Some people do believe that there is a strong correlation between poverty rates and crime rates, but direct causation is not usually asserted, mainly because there is no way to “prove” such an assertion.

So, if Mr. Keczkemethy wants to take shots at sociologists or social workers, he can have at it.  But unless he can name names and cite some authorities that authenticate what he is saying, he is merely arguing with straw men.

But it seems his real point is in the last sentence, “Apologizing for violence undermines clear understanding between right and wrong…”

This claim led to Mr. Keczkemethy’s presentation of “three basic principles,” which he says need to be “re-established” in our society in order to “reduce violence.”

I will summarize his three basic principles as I understand them:

1. Morality is absolute: “Activists have driven the Ten Commandments from open society.” “We must teach our children that hurting others is wrong, period.” 

Without even considering his claim that moral relativism is at the root of our problems with violence (it isn’t*), I will just point out that Mr. Keczkemethy is implying that somewhere out there the “experts” are teaching children that hurting others is okay, that somehow violence is a legitimate means to an end. 

He uses “gratuitous violence in movies, music and video games” as examples.  I don’t understand the logic of this claim.  Again, no “expert” or “activist” I know of is teaching children that it’s okay to employ violence to get what they want, and unless Mr. Keczkemethy is willing to censor movies, music, and video games, consumers of such things–including parents who allow their kids to purchase them–are responsible for tolerating any violence involved, not “apologists” or “experts.”

2. “Demand primacy of rights.” “The right of law-abiding citizens to be secure from criminal injury has primacy over criminals’ rights to overtly or covertly, directly or indirectly act in ways harmful to citizens.”

What?  Who would disagree with that?  We all—experts and apologists alike—agree that criminals shouldn’t have the “right” to harm others.  Again, I don’t understand the point of this claim, unless Mr. Keczkemethy is suggesting that we preemptively arrest anyone we suspect may be harmful to “law-abiding” citizens.

3. “Guarantee swift and certain justice. Our criminal justice system has become overly complex, convoluted and filled with loopholes. “

Mr. Keczkemethy argues that criminals “play” the system and that we can do better.

Well, I’m sure we can do better, but the point of the justice system should be “justice.” If its primary concern was “protecting Americans,” as Keczkemethy suggests, then we wouldn’t have to worry too much about getting things right—justice—and could worry more about getting anyone who is simply accused of a crime “off the streets,” so that Americans could sleep better at night.

That approach might be “swift and certain,” but it wouldn’t necessarily comport with justice.

The tenor of his column suggests that Mr. Keczkemethy would be comfortable with a more intrusive government, one in which officials monitor and control our entertainment choices, somehow stop criminals before they commit crimes, and engineer a justice system that favors speed and certainty over deliberation and doubt.

I can only hope he is not teaching this stuff to his students at Joplin High School.

 

*I couldn’t help it.

Bill Ayers Covers For Obama

Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Palin and other conservatives tried to attach Bill Ayers to Barack Obama’s hip before last year’s election.  Most of them have continued throughout Obama’s first months in office to fortify the moronic meme that Ayers and Obama are ideological soulmates, as Limbaugh did in August of this year.

So, it won’t surprise these conservative conspiracists that Bill Ayers is attempting to hide his connections to Obama by pretending to be outraged at Obama’s decision on Afghanistan:

As everyone can tell, this feeble attempt by Ayers to separate himself from his ideological “son” is nothing more than a diversion. He’s trying to give Obama cover.

The real Ayers is obviously a war-loving, terrorist-hating thug, who wholeheartedly agrees with Obama’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

He can’t fool conservative radio talkers.

Palling Around With Birthers

The following is why all Democrats should hope that our pal Palin will finally decide to stop exploiting her “followers” and run for president in 2012:


 

 

The Naked Middle Class

Between the dueling “job summits,” Ben Bernanke’s fight to keep his job at the Fed, the CBO’s estimate of up to 1.6 million jobs so far either saved or created by the stimulus package, the economy justifiably is back as the topic of the week.

But a really disturbing message is coming from Elizabeth Warren, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and currently serving as the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which was established under the TARP legislation last year as a legislative branch watchdog over the markets, the regulatory system, and Treasury’s management of TARP money. 

On today’s HuffPo, Warren posted an article titled, “America Without a Middle Class,” in which she begins by asking if America would still be America without a strong middle class, then assaults us with this paragraph:

Today, one in five Americans is unemployed, underemployed or just plain out of work. One in nine families can’t make the minimum payment on their credit cards. One in eight mortgages is in default or foreclosure. One in eight Americans is on food stamps. More than 120,000 families are filing for bankruptcy every month. The economic crisis has wiped more than $5 trillion from pensions and savings, has left family balance sheets upside down, and threatens to put ten million homeowners out on the street.

She points out that the so-called “boom” of the 2000s only produced an increase in median family income of 1.6%, compared with 11% in the 1990s, 10% in the 1980s and a whopping 33% in the 1960s.

Essentially, Warren claims, the Bush years only exacerbated a trend that began in the 1970s: America’s middle class is dissipating because wages have not kept up with the cost of living:

To cope, millions of families put a second parent into the workforce. But higher housing and medical costs combined with new expenses for child care, the costs of a second car to get to work and higher taxes combined to squeeze families even harder . Even with two incomes, they tightened their belts. Families today spend less than they did a generation ago on food, clothing, furniture, appliances, and other flexible purchases — but it hasn’t been enough to save them. Today’s families have spent all their income, have spent all their savings, and have gone into debt to pay for college, to cover serious medical problems, and just to stay afloat a little while longer.

Ms. Warren contrasts this situation with the enormously successful financial industry, which prospered largely on the backs of the middle class:

Consumer banking — selling debt to middle class families — has been a gold mine. Boring banking has given way to creative banking, and the industry has generated tens of billions of dollars annually in fees made possible by deceptive and dangerous terms buried in the fine print of opaque, incomprehensible, and largely unregulated contracts.

Obviously, the “creative” banking thing went awry and the government had to bail out the Wall Street gamblers to save the entire system. But what would normally be a humbling situation for normal folks, only strengthened the resolve of the big-time players to keep the status quo in place, and they now are fighting hard to “preserve the rules” that will allow Wall Street high-rollers to continue fleecing the very people whose tax money saved them from bankruptcy.

Warren has been a strong advocate of consumer rights, and she hopes that the Obama administration’s proposal to reign in some of the more egregious banking practices, through a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, will succeed, although, she says, the big banks “are pulling out all the stops to kill the agency before its born.”

Let’s hope that both parties can at least come together on this one, and protect the interests of what’s left of a beleaguered American middle class.

[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America]

Ron Richard Is Back, And So Is The Joplin Globe

Ron Richard has made the news again.  And this time it is even in the Joplin Globe–on the front page!

According to an AP story, State Rep. Tim Jones, a Republican and the Orly Taitz of the Missouri House, confirmed that he was contacted by the FBI regarding sales tax legislation he sponsored earlier this year. The Globe version of the story adds:

The legislation at issue would have allowed Joplin and other cities to continue imposing multiple sales taxes for general purposes or capital projects—effectively negating lawsuits that contended the practice, known as tax stacking, violated state law.

Jones said the FBI was “interested in why the bill did not proceed further.”  His response:

“I told them, ‘You probably need to talk to the (House) speaker or the floor leader or both of them and find out what their official positions were on the bill.”

So, Jones thinks that Richard, the House speaker, and Steven Tilley, the House majority leader, could help the FBI figure out what happened to his bill?  Hmmm.

According to St. Louis Public Radio, Speaker Richard doesn’t have a clue why the FBI would ask him about the legislation; after all, he’s just the Speaker of the House:

“No, that does seem kind of strange…I had no idea…I haven’t had any inquiries with anybody, other than just members of our House Caucus on that issue, but I have no idea,” Richard said.

Hmmm.

The AP story explains the history of “the little bill that couldn’t”:

The bill was endorsed in early February by a House committee led by Jones. But House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, never referred the bill to the Rules Committee, which would have been the next step in the process. Richard said he held up the bill because of opposition from House Majority Leader Steven Tilley, R-Perryville. Tilley said he had done nothing improper.

The Joplin Globe indicated it had tried to contact Tilley, but was unsuccessful. And St. Louis Public Radio tried to interview Tim Jones, but Jones declined their request.  Maybe he was busy giving a deposition in Taitz’ lawsuit challenging Obama’s citizenship, who knows.

But Richard did say, according to the Globe‘s version of the AP story, that he never asked Tilley, his colleague and the majority leader in Richard’s House, why Tilley opposed the bill. 

“He said he didn’t like the bill and wouldn’t have it,” was all Richard said he knew.

Let me get this straight.  Mr. Richard held up a bill because Steven Tilley was opposed to it, but Richard never asked him why he was opposed to it?  Hmmm.

Well, I wonder why Tilley might be opposed to the bill. Let’s see.

Isn’t Tom Burcham, the attorney who filed several lawsuits over the sales tax issue, a constituent of Tilley’s? 

Why, yes he is.

And isn’t Burcham the treasurer of the Missouri Leadership Committee, which gave $110,000 to Tilley’s campaign this year?

Why, yes he is.

And hasn’t Tilley raised money for the Missouri Leadership Committee?

Why, yes he has.

All of this sounds amazingly like an earlier Kansas City Star investigative report involving the Humphreys family of Joplin and Republicans in the Missouri House, including Speaker Richard, himself a recipient of $55,000 from the family, after the House passed legislation potentially favorable to the Humphreys’ family business, Tamko.

Richard denied any connection to the Humphreys money and the action in the House.

And, predictably, in this case, the Globe reports that Tilley said it was “respect” for Tom Burcham that motivated him to oppose the legislation and denies that money had any influence on him:

But “the fact that the committee he runs gave me $100,000 has absolutely nothing to do with my position on the issue,” Tilley said.

Of course, it doesn’t Mr. Tilley. That’s why Mr. Burcham gave you the money, so it would have absolutely nothing to do with your position on any issue, right?

This stuff stinks, fellow Missourians, whether you are Republican or Democrat.

Ron Richard’s lack of curiosity about why his underling in leadership, Steve Tilley, was opposed to a bill that made it through a House committee–and that Richard supported–just doesn’t pass the smell test.

It’s hard to believe that a powerful, plugged-in Republican leader like Richard didn’t know that Tilley had a connection to Tom Burcham. Or that Tilley’s opposition to the proposed sales tax legislation, which according to a story months ago, would have “crimped” Burcham’s law practice, had something to do with Burcham’s lawsuits.

That same story, from the Columbia Daily Tribune, also reported this:

As majority leader, Tilley decides which bills come up in the House. Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, supported the Municipal League’s bill, but Richard said Tilley would not bring it up.

“The majority leader wouldn’t let me put it on the calendar,” Richard said. “He said he wasn’t ready to talk about it just yet. I told the Municipal League, ‘We need some help to convince the majority leader there are a lot of cities that are in jeopardy.’ ”

The majority leader wouldn’t let me put it on the calendar“?  “We need some help to convince the majority leader“? Hmmm. And I thought Ron Richard was in charge.

This issue, coupled with the Humphrey money fiasco, calls into question Richard’s credibility and certainly taints his “straight shooter” image.

And this time, the Joplin Globe should be all over it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 637 other followers

%d bloggers like this: