Posted on 20-10-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

After two years of listening to bloviating politicians and clueless tea partiers proclaim themselves as fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks, here is a checklist on how to find the preening peacock under the hawk’s clothing:

  • They will loudly proclaim their opposition to tax cuts of any kind.  Tax cuts are evidently always job killers, even though the economy did just fine at the Clinton tax rates.
  • They will support tax cuts as a way to magically raise revenue, facts be damned.  They will also deny that the Bush tax cuts helped balloon the deficit.
  • The budget deficit (state or federal) will be somehow be eliminated solely by cutting spending.  However, they will not spell out what spending will actually be cut.
Fiscal Year 2009 U.S. Federal Spending Projections- Cash or Budget Basis.
    • Defense spending is evidently sacrosanct, even though nobody can explain why we need to spend about 40% of the world’s military spending.
    • A few like Paul Ryan will come up with a plan to reform Medicare by essentially not paying medical bills, a plan that has no chance of passing.  Most will not specify exactly what they will cut.
    • Social Security is sometimes a target for privatization or raising the eligibility age.  Yet again few candidates will risk the wrath of older voters (who actually vote) by offering specifics.  It is a separate issue that the problem with Social Security is not the program itself, but the government’s tendency to use the money for other reasons.
    • Most of the ire is focused on the relatively minor amount of discretionary spending (and it will not be possible to eliminate ALL of it), the few billion dollars of stimulus spending which will make no dent on a trillion dollar deficit and items like TARP (which after all the brouhaha will be a fairly small charge (if any) on the Treasury).
  • They will likely be Blue Dog Democrats like Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln, Republicans or self professed tea party members.

A few prominent deficit peacocks are noted below:

  • California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina who frustrated one of the few journalists on Fox News by refusing to answer what exactly cut.

  • California Republican candidate for Governor Meg Whitman whose math for solving the Golden State’s budget problems are as fuzzy as Bill Brady.

  • And just for giggles a compilation of Republicans (including John Boehner and Jeff Sessions) who cannot identify any concrete spending cuts to fix the deficit.  All you get is a dose of blather that they will magically fix the problem.

So there is one final characteristic of a deficit peacock….a lot of hot air.

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Posted on 04-10-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

A couple of long takes on the roots of the tea party and the myths that animate the movement:

  • Matt Taibbi has his inimitable take based on his observances in Kentucky and other states.  There will be no mixed emotions about this.  You will either hate it or love it based on your political leanings.  I could not help chortling at this comment – “The average Tea Partier is sincerely against government spending — with the exception of the money spent on them.”  With the news seeping about about Rick Scott’s Medicaid fraud, Rand Paul’s back flips on receiving Medicare paymnts (covered in the article), Carl Paladino’s special tax breaks that went to his pocket instead of the intended purpose of job creation, Joe Miller seeking indigent status to get a hunting permit when he was not indigent and Sharron Angle who favors private health care but receives her own coverage through the federal government, that hit a chord.
  • Kevin Drum has his take on how the tea party regurgitates rhetoric like a dormant volcano that erupts when any Democratic president is elected, going back to FDR.  He does not agree with Taibbi’s take on the fears of browning America that seem to animate some of the rhetoric – though even Taibbi refers to the tea party members as narcissists rather than racists.

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Posted on 30-09-2010
Filed Under (Politics, Religion) by Rashtrakut

Christine O’Donnell is the gift that keeps on giving.  I am still puzzled by how she became a media personality.  It is probably the result of having an attractive visage that spouts outrageous stuff (click here for an entertaining and disturbing compendium). She does not seem to have any career accomplishments that would justify make her the latest loopy darling of the tea party.  Her employment the last few years was being a professional (losing) candidate in Delaware with recent mortgage troubles.

She is also the latest sanctimonious politician who does not live up to the morals she repeatedly and vehmently insists that she espouses.  A decade ago she went on Bill Maher’s show to give an extended performance on the need for morals and truth in public life and how “telling the truth is always the right thing to do.”  This applied even if the Nazis were at the door hunting for Jews because “God would provide a way to do the right thing righteously.”

Pity that the O’Donnell moral code does not seem to apply to her, or perhaps there is a “resume exception” to moral absolutes.

As a quick overview, she appears to have

  • misrepresented being a college graduate.  She finally received her degree in past month after settling outstanding tuition and taking an additional course.
  • sued an employer for lost income for (along with other harassment claims) preventing her from pursuing a graduate degree at Princeton, even though she appears to only have audited some undergraduate courses.
  • lied about attending Oxford University when she only attended a Phoenix Institute course at space rented from Oxford.
  • lied about attending Claremont Graduate University (would have been difficult without her college degree), but instead attended a conservative think tank, the Claremont Institute.  It does not appear to have been “graduate” course work either.
  • tried to weasel out after being caught by blaming unidentified opponents for posting the fake LinkedIn profile from which the information above was retrieved .  Given that she included Oxford University on another online resume (which was verified by her), this appears to be another lie.  She also lied about Oxford in her application to the Claremont Institute.  It must be noted that this is not the first paranoid claim about unidentified opponents.

Sounds like she needs to get back on Hannity to whitewash these claims or perhaps claim in Palinesque fashion that catching her lying infringes on her first amendment rights.  As Ben Adler notes with some amusement, it may be time for right wing blowhards like Rush Limbaugh whose attacked Barack Obama and Elena Kagan as elitists because they (legitimately) attended Ivy League schools to attack her for being an out of touch coastal cosmopolitan.  Its a shame that this unaccomplished insecure fibber has a punchers chance of becoming the United States Senator from Delaware.

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Posted on 17-01-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

How did it come to this?  Health care reform hands by a slender thread based on the results of the Senate special election in Massachusetts to replace the Senator most associated with health care reform.  The election is a toss up with much of the energy in favor of Republican Scott Brown who could take down gaffe prone State Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Martha Coakley actively sought the Senate nomination after Ted Kennedy died, but having taken the nomination ran a curiously passive campaign.  This gave the opening to Scott Brown to define himself in positive terms and harness the resentment building up towards a self-entitled establishment politician.  Republicans winning statewide is not unknown in Massachusetts.  Deval Patrick’s election as governor in 2006, ended 16 years of Republican control of the office.  But since then, elected Republicans in Massachusetts have been fairly non-existent.

Health Care reform is the other 800 lb gorilla in the room.  Even though broad majorities of public opinion and a majority of the House and Senate support the public option (See link), the procedural rules of the Senate have ensured that it will not pass.  The resulting compromise pleases neither the left nor the right.  The question is whether the left will hold their noses and support this bill hoping to fix it down the road, just like the racial disparities in the original Social Security Act were corrected later.  Unhappiness at the existing bill likely drives some of the support for Brown.

Brown is an odd candidate for teabagger support. As a New England Republican he is a liberal by the standards of the national Republican rump.  The right wing which spurned a similar Republican in NY-23 (See link for previous posts) has embraced the opportunity to hand Barack Obama (as Senator DeMint of South Carolina put it) his Waterloo.  Given that he seems to back the universal health care plan in Massachusetts signed into law by Mitt Romney in 2006, his opposition to the national bill is somewhat puzzling and seems based on electoral calculations.

As Andrew Sullivan notes,  Democrats have to essentially hold their noses and vote for the rather unimpressive Coakley if they do not want the best chance for health care reform in a generation to slip through their fingers.  See Jonathan Chait’s review of the Democrats options in such an eventuality.  Another option the Democrats have is to force an up down vote on some of the more popular parts of the bill like prohibiting the use of pre-existing conditions to avoid issuing insurance policies, regulating the percentage of premiums that must be used for health care, etc.  Given the Republican strategy of filibustering everything, even items that later pass unanimously, it could give the Democrats talking points to carry into the fall against the party of No.

The biggest impact of a Brown win would be psychological.  Even though the number of Republican Congressmen retiring is still much higher than the number of retiring Democrats, the main stream media has already embraced the theme of Democrats abandoning a sinking ship.  A Brown win will raise that meme to a crescendo and by further depressing  Democratic turnout in November 2010 could make it a self fulfilling prophecy.

However, I am still not sold on Republican embrace of the tea baggers as a long term viable strategy.  Even though Brown has had some of these tendencies in in the past (like questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s birth) he has generally projected a moderate image in his campaign.  This was the strategy embraced by the successful Republican gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey.  The fire and brimstone true believers who pejoratively refer to Republican moderates as RINOs (Republicans in name  only) have had a hard time winning outside the deep south.  Add to that the continuing Republican problem attracting minority voters.

Ultimately the Democratic Party brought this on themselves.  The foot dragging on the bill, corrupt bargains with grasping  Senators that had incredibly bad optics combined with the incredible incompetence of the Massachusetts Democrats have brought about the previously unthinkable possibility of Ted Kennedy’s successor being a Republican.  It further confirms this blogger’s belief in the ability of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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Posted on 10-01-2010
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

Noticed a link to this animated film by Mark Fiore on Juan Cole’s site.  Cole also links to a report by Drudge noting a claim by Fiore that this video spawned death threats.  The video seems to hit some of the hyperbolic rhetoric (See previous blog) spot on.  Enjoy….

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Posted on 17-12-2009
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

Our beloved tea-baggers (aka Republicans, Fox News Anchors and other mostly white folk still upset about the result of the 2008 elections) had another gathering in Washington to protest the horrors that would happen if health care access was expanded to people who do not have it (even with this flawed bill) and to make yet another brilliant comparison on how health care equates to the holocaust.  I must have missed all the midnight round-ups that seem to occur in the rest of the Western World that has universal health care.  And these are the same patriots fighting tyranny who remained silent when the previous administration asserted a right to detain American citizens indefinitely without trial, to wiretap phones without warrants and claimed that they could choose what laws and constitutional provisions they wanted to follow.  My rant done, I will let Jon Stewart continue his usual brilliant skewering of the hyperbolic nonsense that has enthralled the Republican base.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Highway to Health – Last Tea Party Protest of the Year
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

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Posted on 05-11-2009
Filed Under (Politics) by Rashtrakut

The Washington Independent has an interesting read on the emerging right-wing narrative to explain away the embarassing loss in NY-23, particularly amusing since they had convinced themselves that the win was in the bag.

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