The Eclectic Quill

February 13, 2009

Kobe vs. Lebron, the Definitive Debate

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 12:15 pm

Some Alternate Ways to Get Past a Filibuster

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 7:59 am

There’s been a lot of talk about how the Democrats had to work out a Faustian deal with the Republicans in order to secure the stimulus package. Some of the most stimulative effects were taken out though, and in the end of it we see a “compromise” that may not be effective enough. If it isn’t, the Republicans will say that it proves that spending doesn’t work. In short, the package was sabotaged by the Taliban, but the Democrats had to let it happen out of necessity. This of course refers to the magic 2 votes, the difference between a majority and a super majority. This demonstrates the problem with the Democratic party. They let the Republicans roll over them when they have 50 votes and when they have 41. There are other ways to avoid a filibuster after all and here are a few options they might want to try.

  1. Threaten to provisionally seat Al Franken. First it would irk the Republicans to no end and that would be worth seeing all by itself. Can you imagine the bluster that would come out of them? The Democrats though could just respond that the Republicans have forced their hand. They tried to play nice but the Republicans wouldn’t go along so they are playing the hardball game themselves. The Democrats could then try and work one liberal Senator such as Snow into their corner with promises of the kitchen sink.
  2. Begin congressional investigations into the Bush administration for war crimes since the government doesn’t have anything else to do in the midst of the filibuster. I’m sure the Republicans would love to have that information filling the news. The two stories in tandem would be great for 2010; several Republican Senators already looking at uphill battles would love to explain to their electorates why they were blocking the vote to create new jobs while they were defending their party’s involvement in war crimes, spying, and torture.
  3. Make them actually filibuster. Instead of this namby-pamby kind of filibuster, make them filibuster for real. Make them read the phone book and all of that jazz. There’s a reason those rules were a part of the filibustering, it makes it harder and making it harder prevents the abuse of the rule. I don’t like the idea of a “nuclear option” because I think there should be an opportunity for filibustering, but I think that it should be used with discretion and respect. The Republicans don’t do that. I for one am not eager to watching 2 years of filibustering, especially if it’s free.
  4. A provisional “nuclear option.” Temporarily remove the constraints under the pretext of a national emergency. The Republicans have been blasting Obama for using “scare tactics.” They compare what Obama is doing to what Bush did to garner support for the war. There’s a big difference though, this threat is real and the Iraqi threat wasn’t. If they do this though the Democrats need to muscle up and fight the press war with a little more vehemence. Instead of rolling over they would need to push much harder than they normally do.
  5. Filibuster the filibuster. I know, it sounds kind of corny, but I think it would be hilarious. It would of course be ironic, but the Republicans, due to their knee-jerk way of responding to things, would come out all against filibusters and whining about how the Democrats are slowing things down. Then the Democrats could say OK then we’ll stop the filibuster. Then the Republicans won’t be able to filibuster because just a day before they were complaining about filibustering.

However they do it the Democrats need to figure out a way to get legislation passed without surrendering the ideological war. I think they should be willing to compromise on specifics, but not on essence. In essence government is a solution, not a problem. Democrats believe this, Republicans don’t. Republicans have been fighting for 30 years to drive it into our heads that government is the bad guy. The Democrats need to start reversing this war on the most basic of democratic (small “d” intentional) paradigms, that government is of the people, by the people and for the people.

February 10, 2009

Dumberer and Dumbererest, Republicans Play Game of “One Dumbsmanship”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 4:37 pm

As Obama and the Democrats shape the stimulus package over what is for the most part, objections, from the national Republican Party, its Representatives, Senators and pundits, it is becoming increasingly clear that the minority will say and do anything to sabotage it. However, as it becomes increasingly clear to them that they really aren’t in charge of anything anymore, it is almost comical to watch them flail about in search of that telling sound bite that will persuade the American public they are right and the Democrats are wrong. In fact at times it almost seems that there is a new version of that old "one upsmanship" game where each person tells a story that tops the other. Only this is "one dumnsmanship" and the goal is to say something even stupider than one the last did.

Let’s start with the bill in Congress, where after Obama had met with the Republican leadership and left concessions for their two top concerns, the Republicans failed to even cast one vote for the bill. In justification of their failure to do so Republican Senator, Charles Grassley, defending his counterparts in the house said, "The way this bill was managed with a heavy partisan hand by congressional leaders kept it from being an effective economic stimulus package." So let me get this straight, the reason the Republicans didn’t vote for the bill was Nancy Pelosi and nothing to do with the content? Is it just me or does this particular whine sound familiar? Even if you take him at his word, Grassley’s comments then it seems the Republicans are using the playground argument "She started it!!! Waaaahhhhhh!!!" Is this really the type of maturity we need to see exhibited from our leaders in a time crisis? Really? And, for what it’s worth, need I remind Senator Grassley that when the Republicans were in charge they were known to literally shut the Democrats of the process?

Not to be outdone Pete Sessions, GOP fundraising director touted the lessons the Republicans have learned from the Taliban. "Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban, and that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes" This admission is stupid on two levels. Firstly, in that it compares the Republican Party with the Taliban, and secondly in its actual message. Now he did say "I’m not saying the Republican Party is the Taliban" admittedly, but he did it in the midst of comparing it to the Taliban. I’m just curious, what do you think the Republican airways would be like today if a prominent figure in the Democratic party compared themselves to a terrorist organization that we are at war with? But that’s not really the worse part of this statement, although it’s the most obvious. The deeper and more troubling aspect of this quote is the inherent admission that strategy here is not constructive but destructive. They aren’t actually trying to do anything except throw a wrench in the works. Who exactly is being partisan here?

Richard Steel, vying for the stupid title piped in his two cents trying to explain how "work" and "jobs" are different. Steele thinks, "A job is something that a business owner creates." So let me get this straight, there are currently 1.8 million people employed by the federal government, and another 1.5 million in the US military. Do these people merely do work or have jobs? Additionally what about the people in the fire and police departments, the public school teachers and the others who work for state and local governments? Do they do work or have jobs? The ridiculous kind of "work ends but jobs don’t" justification is just wrong. All kinds of people with government jobs retire. Meanwhile all the jobs that are ending are private sector jobs!!!

Next up the Wall Street Journal decided to opt into the game, proclaiming the new Conservative mantra that the New Deal made the Great Depression worse, prolonged it 7 years etcetera and so on. What a load of hooey! I could give you a long involved and detailed analysis of why, but 2 pictures here are worth 2000 words. First up this is what happened to employment under the new deal. The chart above shows the number of jobs under FDR. Note how it went from below 24 million to over 36 million, i.e. the total jobs increased by slightly more than 50 percent under FDR. He really knew how to slow down an economy didn’t he? Not convinced? How about a gander at picture number two.

Over to the left we see a picture of what the GDP looked like under FDR. Notice how it went up, up and more up until 1937 and then took a dip? Know why it took a dip? Because the dips that can’t acknowledge reality when they see it managed to get the notion across that we needed to cut back on the New Deal spending. Once we resumed it again the economy went back on its merry way to recovery. Internet Economists, and failed supply side economists are desperate to convince you otherwise, but history tells the tale. It was laze faire economics that sank us in the first place and it Keynesian economics that got us out. It’s really not any different this time. If we want to get out o the economic hole we’re in we need to (and I’m really not afraid to say it) redistribute the wealth. The thing that people don’t realize is that there is a class warfare going on and the thing the Republicans have done the best is to convince you that there’s not. The middle class has shrunk dramatically and it’s a little less "middle" than it once was. Real wages, especially age adjusted, have dropped consistently since Reagan, with a brief reprieve during the Clinton years. Furthermore savings from the middle class have absolutely plummeted. Some say credit is at fault but that’s not sensible. Let’s add one and one and see if we get two. Real wages have gone down and people are buying on credit instead of saving. Gee, do you think there might be a link?

Next up is Richard Shelby that "the package and efforts to shore up the struggling banking system will put the United States on "a road to financial disaster."" Precisely what road are we on Richard Shelby? This is the kind of Republican party we heard from in the 1990s. Remember how they, after fighting for Reagan’s and Bush’s record spending for all those years, suddenly grew "fiscally responsible" in the 1990s and signed a "contract with America" which they then burned the moment Bush was "elected" President? Hey Shelby, I think you need to realize that enormous brick wall we are racing towards at ever increasing speeds was one built by the Republican Party in its never ending praise of "free enterprise" and its mystical ability to solve all problems. Take your foot of the gas Richard!!! The road to disaster is the one we are on. The road to recovery means we have to take a different road. More of the irresponsible, private enterprise governing you advocate is what has brought us the brink of disaster.

Trying to gain the upper hand in the dumb game, former (emphasis on "former" here) Senator Coleman writes in an op-ed on in Minneapolis Star Tribune, "The people need to be firmly behind this legislation; recent public opinion polls do not show that kind of support." Really? According to the polls the American people favor the stimulus package by a margin of 54 percent compared to 45 percent who are opposed. Now I’ll grant you that number reflects that support has fallen off a bit but that’s the fallen off numbers, and as far as I can tell 54 is still a much higher number than 45 and a clear majority. Norm, you must not be very good at math. The polls show that a clear majority of Americans ARE behind the package. I’d also like to point to point out something else, that the way the Republicans are behaving is not reflected well in the polls. While President Obama is receiving approval ratings in the 70s the Republican leadership is getting ratings in the 40s. Clearly, if we are being governed by polling the Republicans, not the Democratic congressional leadership (who are also enjoying a 60 percent approval rating), and certainly not the President, are the ones who need to start listening to the American people. But we are not governed by polls; we are governed by democracy. The last elections spoke volumes as to what the American people wanted. This, more than any election in recent memory was one of ideology, pitting those who have a fervent, almost religious notion of the infallibility of unlimited, unregulated free enterprise, and those who believe that capitalism needs to be checked by a social conscience and moderated by regulation. It was, in sports terms, a blowout. Norm, you personally, and the rest of the Republican party need to realize you lost and get over it.

Ayah karumba but I grow weary of responding to all the stupidity they throw up. They insist that tax cuts will solve all the problems, but then they oppose the payroll tax cuts, under some misguided concept that only income tax should be cut. Plenty of people have jobs (both private and public sector) who don’t pay a dime of income tax but pay a lot in payroll tax. Particularly I want to point out that people who are self employed, who don’t have matching funds on their Social Security taxes, and who don’t make enough money to pay income taxes are the ones who would be the most helped. And furthermore, people who don’t have jobs wouldn’t be able to get a dime out of tax cuts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, any economic theory that is built upon the premise that the problem with the economy is that rich people don’t have enough money is utterly and completely specious.

The Republican Party just needs to grow up and start behaving like adults. Compromise isn’t getting it all your way, especially when you aren’t in power any more. The grand champion of all things stupid came when I heard one Senator (didn’t catch the name) say on the radio in the press conference that "I don’t think this is the change the American people voted for (or something very close to that). This led me into what I can only describe as a complete and total tirade and became the impetus of this blog entry. This is precisely the kind of change the American people voted for! It’s time for the Republicans to realize that. This election was about the economy and what kind of government we wanted. The paradigm question was settled. It’s not time to revisit that debate, it’s time to act on what the American people said, in no uncertain terms what they wanted. If the Republicans don’t realize this soon they may be longing for the good old days when they had enough to filibuster in 2011.

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