Pick a Party, Already

During a press conference today, Sen. Chuck Schumer referred to the stalemate in Washington today as the “tea party shutdown.”   Schumer may be doing some political calculation in order to allow the GOP as a whole to save face.  After all, he’s got to work alongside of these people. However, it is completely disingenuous for him to characterize bringing the government to a halt as solely the work of the tea party.

We’ve watched over the last several years as the so-called tea party candidates have inserted themselves into the Republican party.  And the Republican party has done little or nothing to discourage them or their attendant extremism.  In fact, many in the Republican party used the ascent of the tea party as an excuse to espouse their own extreme right-wing views more openly and shamelessly.

Consequently, it’s virtually impossible to delineate where the GOP ends and the tea party begins.  They have become one and the same.  While there are certainly more extreme members with more extreme views, they blend in all too inconspicuously with the GOP at large.

With the current government shutdown, certain more centrist members of Congress have attempted to distance themselves from the tea party extremists within their ranks.  But the party as a whole has not yet come up with a strategy to restrict tea party influence within the GOP in a way that is commensurate with their actual numbers.  Consequently, the GOP owns this shutdown.

The basic questions that we were asking when the tea party first formed still haven’t been answered.  Which is it?  Are you upper or lower case?  Are you a faction of the Republican Party, and therefore the “tea party” or “tea party caucus”?  Or do you consider yourself an actual legitimate third party, or Tea Party?

If it’s the former, then the GOP needs to take your views into consideration but make its collective decisions based on the majority within the party.  (This especially means you, Mr. Speaker.)   That also means that the GOP owns all of the insanity within its ranks, in those cases in which the extremists convince the more mainstream members of Congress to vote with them.

If it’s the latter, then the tea party earns its upper case status, along with all of the responsibilities and obligations that a political party has.  So far, the tea party has reaped all the rewards of both positions and has borne none of the responsibilities of either.

So make up your minds.

To paraphrase Jesse Pinkman, “let’s Party, bitches.”

 

 

Revenge of the Right

If you think that dislike for Mitt Romney comes exclusively from the left, a quick gambol around the internet will provide you with some pretty extreme hatred of Romney from the right.

For many in Massachusetts, Romney’s term as governor left a really bad taste in their mouths because of failed promises and his abysmal jobs record.  But for at least one Bay Stater, Romney was far too liberal:

I’m particularly fond of her criticism of Romney’s CPAC speech.  In Romney’s attempts to be all things to all people, he spoke at CPAC.  Liberals questioned his blatant pandering to the uber-conservatives.  But for the uber-conservatives, he just wasn’t conservative enough; there were apparently about ten or twelve litmus tests that he just didn’t pass.

And check out this video.  Contrada apparently holds Romney responsible for everything  from every initiative the Massachusetts Department of Social Services took during his term to what the lesbians were wearing during the pride parades:

Whew.  I had no idea any politician had that much power.

Then there are the religious doomsayers.  Literally.  It’s kind of hard to tell if they’re serious or if they’re just being hucksters and trying to sell books and DVDs:

This kind of marketing hawking of wares is worthy of Newt Gingrich.

So far, I don’t think that anyone on the left has claimed that Romney is Satan. Attribution of demonic traits to a candidate is generally the purview of the right, but this site pulls no punches:

For the author of this site, even Pat Robertson, Sean Hannity, and James Dobson are not crazy enough for his taste, because they’ve endorsed Mitt Romney.  It’s clear that Romney’s religion is still a significant barrier for some.

There’s one more site that’s a compendium of all things Mitt in Massachusetts (at least, from the ultra-right-wing perspective):

According to these folks, the problem on issues like gay rights, abortion rights, and health care isn’t that he’s too far to the right.  It’s that he’s too far to the left!  Glad we got that cleared up.

With all the focus on the economy, I wonder if these issues will even register at the polls.

Liberals, women, the LGBT community, and racial minorities  have all to often been on the receiving end of this kind of hatred from the radical right.  But it’s instructive to know that someone as extremely to the right as Mitt Romney can be the target of folks like this.

It’s just more proof that, in the last couple of decades, the left has moved right, and the right has moved even farther right.

Poor Donald’s Fragile Ego

On ABC’s This Week yesterday, George Will took Mitt Romney to task for his association with Donald Trump and his unflagging devotion to birtherism.  In the process, Will managed to call Trump out not only for his lack of value to Romney but also for his abiding ignorance:

“I do not understand the cost benefit here. The costs are clear. The benefit — what voter is going to vote for him because he is seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me. Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics.”

Donald’s ego strength must be as flimsy as his hair souffle, because he immediately took to Twitter in an attempt to denigrate George Will:

And then there’s this one, conflating George Will with Rosie O’Donnell (Trump’s other obsession):

He just doesn’t give up:

If George Will is so obviously third-rate, why did you invite him to Mar-a-Lago?

Trump apparently doesn’t realize how desperate he appears if he has nothing better to do with his time than to get into Twitter wars with his betters.

Doesn’t he have a supposed empire to run?  Doesn’t one of those gardens at Mar-a-Lago need weeding? Isn’t there a toilet somewhere that needs gold-leafing?

Details, Please

Mitt Romney has been campaigning on the premise that he has a better grasp of economic issues than President Obama.  Basically, his premise has been “I’m a business guy, I know about money; therefore you should hire me to fix the economy.”  Admittedly, he looks like the Central Casting version of a businessman in a suit, and that’s likely to persuade some voters.

But Romney has provided few details, other than supporting deregulation and similarly returning to the Bush-era economic policies that drove us into the deep recession that we’re still trying to dig our way out of.  He’s offered plenty of vague platitudes about knowing how to fix the economy, but he offers as proof of his ability only his questionable record at Bain Capital.

He claims that his time at Bain was as a job creator, though his record in the private sector consists largely of shutting down companies and siphoning money out of them for himself and his cronies.  The number of jobs that he claims to have created seems to vacillate from day to day, state to state, speech to speech.

When challenged in any way on the very record that he holds up as his primary qualification, he whines that he is the victim of “character assassination.”   According to Romney and his campaign, it’s somehow off-limits to infer that Romney and Bain were part of the byzantine investment banking structure that was responsible for the collapse of the economy and yet which remains completely unpunished.

Oddly, Romney similarly doesn’t want anyone to talk about his record in the public sector, which logically would have more bearing on his qualifications for the job that he is seeking.  Maybe that’s because his jobs record as governor of Massachusetts consists of helping his state plunge to the position of 47th out of 50 states in job creation.

The fact remains that Romney hasn’t described with any specificity how he will create any jobs.  If GOP history is any indicator, they’re seemingly only intent on reducing the size of government, which only reduces the number of jobs.  Mitt and his team are still spouting the Reagan era ideology of supply-side trickle-down economics, even though there is not a scrap of evidence that such economic policy has ever provided any benefit to anyone except those who are already prosperous.

Obama has taken the cesspool of an economy that he inherited upon taking office and he has made it significantly better.  Unemployment was at >10%; job losses were mounting.  Unemployment has been moving consistently downward and is currently at 8.1%.  Job creation is significantly up.

Blue collar job numbers are worse than the overall job numbers.  Yet Republicans in Congress have blocked attempts at creating more jobs in this sector when the Obama administration proposed infrastructure programs that would have employed the unemployed as well as dealt with the nation’s crumbling bridges, roads, and other infrastructure.

More than 5,000,000 jobs have been added since Obama took office, despite a reduction of hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs that various state Republican legislatures have been championing.  Obama has managed to show overall job growth in spite of that decline in public sector jobs.

So, in order to cast a vote for Mitt Romney, isn’t it fair to require Romney and his campaign to provide specific assurances not only for how he’s going to create jobs but also for how he’s going to do better than Obama has done?  Sounds fair to me.

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Poor Newt

Poor Newt. No, really, I mean, poor Newt.  Reuters is reporting that Newt’s network of intertwined lobbying consulting companies and associated book and DVD sales is mired in debt, alongside the $4.8 million in campaign debt.  Consequently, Newt’s empire is facing bankruptcy in Atlanta bankruptcy court.

Reading the reporting, one can’t help but wonder how much advantage Newt and his various wives have taken of the American legal system in order to build out the empire.  One also can’t help but wonder how much Newt will actually suffer as a result of his fast-and-loose wheeling and dealing.

Read the Reuter’s reporting:

112th Congress: Lowered Expectations

The Sunlight Foundation released a study today that shed some light on the speaking ability of our members of Congress. It used standard measures of language complexity to identify, by individual and by party affiliation, which members of congress had the highest and lowest scores. Additionally, it compared those scores with the scores of 2005.

The infographic may be pretty but the results of the comparison are not:

A couple of notable points:

  • The lowest point on the chart in the infographic is in 2011, the first year that all the tea party freshmen took to the floor.
  • The overall grade score has gone down a full grade since 2005.
  • The bottom ten scores all belong to Republicans; eight of those ten lowest scores belong to first-term Republicans.
The complete results of the analysis are available at the Sunlight Foundation website.