Evil Betsy McCaughey

Betsy McCaugheyBetsy McCaughey is one of the most evil people in America. She is a big part of why healthcare reform died under the Clinton administration. She is also a big part of why we didn’t get a public option in Obamacare. Can you say, “Death panels”? Yeah, that was her.

I remember seeing her on The Daily Show with the whole ACA in a binder. The entire interview was just double talk. Jon Stewart kept asking her where these “death panels” were and she would take him to one page. He would respond, “I don’t see any death panel there.” So she would say, “You have to go over to this other page.” And the cycle would continue.

Here she is trying to kill the public option on The Dylan Ratigan Show. She is destroyed:

What I find most interesting about Betsy McCaughey is her political associations. She was a Republican until 1997 (up through the time when she destroyed the Clinton healthcare plan). And then, after Dole lost big in 1996, she became a Democrat. She stayed a Democrat until—Can you see it coming?—2010! With the rise of the Tea Party, she became a Republican again! Is there any chance she’ll become a Democrat again? After all, Romney lost pretty bad. I do hope not; there is enough to be ashamed of in the Democratic Party.

Oh: who was she working with while destroying the Clinton healthcare bill? Philip Morris. Of course!


I don’t care about tweeting his weenie, I miss Anthony Weiner.

H/T: Mark Ames

Really, Colin Powell?

Colin PowellColin Powell is getting all kinds of plaudits in the liberal world today. He was on NBC, being interviewed by David Gregory. And he is oh, so disappointed in his party.

If I had one thing to say to the general, it would be this: fuck you!

I’m sorry, but I am sick to death of this man and the many more like him. There are all kinds of people who claim to be Republicans but complain that the party is somehow not living up to its history. And generally, these people have been good soldiers for a movement that lost all credibility about 35 years ago. In his case, we might well never have gone into Iraq had Colin Powell been the honorable man that he pretends to be.

And this Sunday he was yet again claiming that his party is—Contain your shock!—misbehaving:

I think the Republican Party right now is having an identity problem, and I am still a Republican… There is also a dark vein of intolerance in some parts of the party. They still sort of look down on minorities. How can I evidence that? When I see one former governor saying that the president is “shucking and jiving,” that’s a racial-era slave term. When I see another former governor after the president’s first debate, where he didn’t do very well, says that the president was “lazy.”

He’s completely right, of course. But what is the Republican Party if not a racist group? What party did he think he was a member of? Did he not notice the Willie Horton add that got Bush Sr elected? No. I don’t accept this. Sure, the Republican Party is crazier than ever. But they haven’t reached some new quantum level. John Sununu has been a major player in the Republican Party for a long time. This is nothing new. And I simply do not accept that Colin Powell is only noticing this now. But I will allow that he is finally embarrassed by it.

Look: I get it. I’m a Democrat and I am very unhappy with my party. But I know that my problems with the Democratic Party are mostly on the edges. My party isn’t just a major bait and switch con. But the Republican Party is. They get people to vote for them because they hate and fear gays and blacks and Muslims and just about anyone else you can name. And then they govern as an oligarchy. In 2004, the Republican supporters were surprised that they voted to “get the fags” but got a government intent to “get your Social Security.” I don’t understand how these people can continue to vote for the Republican Party, but that’s another issue.

Does Colin Powell really believe that we accept that he’s as naive as the ignorant idiots who keep the Republican Party in power? He is part of that power structure. He was Secretary of State because of the continuing use of the Southern Strategy by the Republican Party. He is one of them and he is wrong to think that I will be fooled into thinking that he is anything other than part of the problem.

So really, Colin? You just noticed you’re a member of a racist group? Really, Colin Powell?

The Letter D

Dis for Douchebag.

A word that once meant “a small syringe having detachable nozzles for fluid injections, used chiefly for vaginal lavage and forenemas” has gone on to describe “contemptible or despicable person”. As mentioned on Frankly Curious, douchebag was even chosen as Word of the Year. We live in a wonderful era where a simple word for a gross necessity can go on to become a celebrity.

Pessimism on the Debt Ceiling?

Debt CeilingEarlier today, I wrote, Optimism on the Debt Ceiling? I noted that some people who I admire and generally agree with were trying to be at least a little optimistic about the upcoming Debt Ceiling crisis—people like Greg Sargent, Jonathan Cohn, and to a lesser extent Jonathan Chait. By this afternoon, I started reading push back.

Matt Yglesias is blunt, Why Nobody Believes Obama on the Debt Ceiling. His point is that this goes back to the Fiscal Cliff negotiations. Obama said he would only accept raising taxes on incomes over a quarter of a million. Obama said he would only accept a deal that raised the debt ceiling. Obama caved.

This is all “boy who cried wolf” stuff. If you bluff all the time, people will believe you are always bluffing. And really, even Obama supporters think that there is a very good chance that he is bluffing. Obama doesn’t really have red lines—more very weathered pink ones.

Ezra Klein couldn’t miss out on the pile on. He wrote:

At the moment, Republicans don’t believe the White House. Nor does the media. Or, really, anyone. This White House is seen as almost congenitally unable to resist negotiations.

Klein goes on to document the many times over the last month and a half (including today) when Obama said he absolutely, positively would not negotiate over the debt ceiling. But then he quotes Obama at today’s news conference. Klein doesn’t mention it, but the statement is effectively a public negotiation with Boehner:

Now, keep in mind that, you know, what we’ve heard from some Republicans, in both the House and the Senate, is that they will only increase the debt ceiling by the amount of spending cuts that they’re able to push through…

Now, what—here—here’s what would work. What would work would be for us to say, we’ve already done close to $2 trillion in deficit reduction, and if you add the interest that we won’t be paying, because of less spending and increased revenue, it adds up to about $2.5 trillion.

Basically, Obama is telling Boehner, “Here’s a way we can meet your demands!”

We’re doomed.

The Letter C

Cis for Celebrity.

According to an online dictionary, the word celebrity has been around since the 14th century, originating in Middle Earth probably to describe Gandalf. Or maybe it’s Middle English. Who knows.

A celebrity is any person who, for whatever reason, is stalked by paparazzi. Being worthy of attention is not a requirement, although marketability is. There are levels of celebrity, those whose contributions have some positive and useful impact on the world [1] and those who are typically referred to as “train wrecks” [2].

George Clooney is a celebrated actor. Lindsay Lohan is a celebrity.”

[1] Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart come to mind.
[2] Honey Boo Boo and her mother, Jabba the Hutt.

The Letter B

Bis for Bother.

Another terse, yet nimble word than can be used as a noun or a verb. As a noun it can mean annoy, irritate, worry: “Such a bother!” Or it can describe effort or work: “Why bother?”

While as a verb, bother is something that causes annoyance, irritation, or worry as in, “You bother me.”

I found this why bother? We’re all gonna die image by Holbein at FromOldBooks.com

Optimism on the Debt Ceiling?

Debt Ceiling CartoonSome people are very worried about the Debt Ceiling crisis. I am one of them. I’m finding it very hard to think of anything else. But there are a lot of people out there who are trying to comfort us all with rosy deconstructions of what’s going on in Washington. Greg Sargent’s Morning Plum had the cheeky title, The Debt Ceiling Is the GOP’s Problem. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. The implication here is that all this hope that Obama will stand strong on the Debt Ceiling is a bunch of happy horseshit. We’ve seen Obama draw lines in the sand only to later cross them in—What?—ever negotiation he’s ever been in. But hope does indeed spring eternal for all of us out here who are terrified that this is all going to end badly.

Think about a game of chicken for a moment. Two cars speed towards each other and we see which one swerves first. Or we watch a high speed head-on collision of the two cars. Consider the situation if the two drivers have played this game many times before with the same driver always swerving. But this time, that driver claims he absolutely is not going to swerve. There are three possibilities. The least likely possibility is that the other guy will swerve this time. Slightly more likely is that the same old guy will swerve. And the most likely possibility is that there is a high speed head-on collision with lots of collateral damage.

Obama is the guy that has always swerved.

So that’s where we’re at. But Sargent’s article does include some hopeful information. Politico reported this morning that half the House GOP membership is prepared to cause the government to default. On its face, this sounds bad: half the GOP is crazy. But I already know that. These numbers indicate that if Boehner doesn’t follow the “Hastert Rule,” which stops him from allowing a vote on anything that doesn’t have majority support of his caucus, there is no problem. The Democrats and a hand full of Republicans will vote to raise the Debt Ceiling. End of story. So “Good news, everyone!”

Along the same lines, Jonathan Cohn reports that the White House explicitly abandoned the platinum coin option to put more pressure on the Republicans. There is some sense to this. If the White House claimed that it was prepared to use this option, the media would have reported it as he’s crazy, she’s crazy. But all this talk of leverage doesn’t really make any sense. The Republican Party is crazy. Their position seems to be if they can’t get everything they want, what is the point of being in Congress. It is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Jonathan Chait is similarly on the case, but he seems a little more concerned than the others. The truth is that we really don’t know what is going to happen. The time for this confrontation has come. But he pointed out a nice irony with the Republican position:

It’s also noteworthy… that Republicans consider the budget deficit so massive and urgent as to be worth provoking economic disaster, but not urgent enough to consider accepting higher revenue as part of a compromise. The fiscal status quo is worse than a potential global meltdown, but even slightly higher revenue is worse than both.

But as I’ve written before, even more than crazy, the Republicans are immature. Their behavior makes all the sense in the world if you put it in the context of a grammar school playground.

National Income Accounting

National Income AccountingAbout a year and a half ago, Dean Baker posted an article about national income accounting. It sounds boring, but it isn’t. It’s a little bit mathematical, however, so if you want, just skip down to What This Means.

Let’s look at the nation’s total income, which we will represent as Y. It is equal to all of the money that is spent on consumption (C), on investment (I), by the government (G), and on net exports: total exports (X) minus total imports (M). Thus, the following equation is true by definition:

C + I + G + (X-M) = Y(1)

Note: investment means something different in economics than it generally means to people. Investment is spending on infrastructure. So if a construction company buys hammers, that’s investment. If it purchases nails, that is consumption.

Now total income (Y) is equal is disposable income (D) plus taxes (T): Y = D + T. And disposable income is equal to savings (S) plus consumption (C): D = S + C. We can combine these two equations and get: Y = S + C + T. We can substitute this equation into equation (1) above:

C + I + G + (X-M) = S + C + T(2)

Consumption is on both sides of the equation, so it cancels out:

I + G + (X-M) = S + T(3)

This equation doesn’t clarify anything. So we need to arrange the terms. First, we want to combine government spending (G) and taxes (T). Second, we combine non-governmental savings (S) and investment (I). Once we do this, we get:

(X-M) = (S-I) + (T-G)(4)

What this says is: net exports equals net (non-governmental) savings plus the government’s budget surplus.

What This Means

Baker notes that most people who fret about budget deficits want something that is impossible. We currently import more than we export. This means that we either have to save less than we export or the government must spend more than it taxes or both. But look at what we hear all the time: we must balance the budget so that consumers will feel more confident and start spending! For that to happen, we would need to to export more than we import. Okay, we could do that. But the only way we can is by weakening the dollar compared to other currencies. And the same people who want a balanced budget generally want a strong dollar. We simply cannot have both.

I’ve write before that the balanced budget people are just liars. What they want is what they think is good for their class—the rentier class. They want a strong dollar with no inflation because that’s great if you already have piles of cash. They want to destroy entitlement programs because they fear their taxes might someday go up, but also because more desperate poor makes finding cheap labor easier.

But notice how if we really want to fix the federal deficit, we should be working on weakening the dollar. This would necessarily improve the budget deficit. But we don’t talk about this because the rentier class doesn’t want a weak dollar and their media lapdogs aren’t going to contradict them. In fact, the media by and large don’t even seem to understand that there is an issue. Strong dollar, fuck yeah! We’re number one!