Kathleen O’Brien Wilhelm

Kathleen O'Brien WilhelmRemember the Deer Lady? She was the Ohio blogger who thought that deer crossing signs were a waste of money because (1) deer can’t read and (2) they wouldn’t follow the law anyway. Well, I’ve been staying up to date on her. And it is really getting hard to believe that she isn’t involved in some kind of satire. I’m talking Billy Bob Neck level of satire. The vast majority of her blog posts are nothing more than logorrhea of conservative talking points.

Let me be clear: as much as I would like it, it does not appear to be satire. In particular, if you read the comments, you will see friends of hers defending what she has written. It isn’t like on Billy Bob Neck videos where there is the occasional comment, “It’s satire, you idiot!” Given this, her blog is of great concern. We are long past the time when we had actual communists ranting about the dictatorship of the proletariat. But we do indeed have a rather large subculture of proto-fascists.

This week, Kathleen O’Brien Wilhelm admonishes us to, Trust Your Gut America. She comes out swinging. As if to prove that Tea Party members really are racists, she starts by explaining why you would have to be an idiot to go where the wild things are. You know: cities. “No one with half a brain has walked down a dark alley knowingly in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit where gangs and drug-scum hang.” Why are alleys so dark? Perhaps it is because there isn’t a lot of reflected light off the faces of the people there. Regardless, “gangs” and “drug-scum” are signifies.

She follows up this sentence with a great example of one of my most hated conservative canards, “A hopeless bad place; pity the good people and police who must be part of this.” Right! The gang members and drug addicts aren’t victims in any way; they are just immoral people. I hear this kind of thing more and more. It is nothing but a justification for the rich being rich and the poor being poor. (Note also that the police are part of the “good people” because they never do anything wrong!)

Wilhelm is just getting going! Now is when the conservative talking point core dump comes into its all. Are you ready?

Yet, that gut instinct isn’t kicking in as America moves down this campaign trail of Obama, his crew and Obamacare. Run, flee, scream louder than the worst pain America. Obama’s zombie garble is taking America down. America is beginning Obama’s next four years. He’s had four full years to lead the greatest country in the world. However, all this socialist liberal has done is bad. Bowing to countries that hate us, giving to countries that want to kill us, focusing on his friends to kick at our values and break down the respect the world has for us.

This reminds me of a section call “No Comment” in The Progressive. Doesn’t this all speak for itself? The first sentence doesn’t even make sense. In the second she says we should scream in cancer level pain because… What? Gays can serve openly in the military? People with existing conditions have the ability to get healthcare? What exactly is it that makes America the dystopian hellscape that she thinks we should be screaming about? What is a “zombie garble”? What is a “socialist liberal”? Do you see why I call this logorrhea?

Then she just spews out long discredited claims. Bowing to countries that hate us? Not true. The rest of it makes no sense, except that last part about how much the world no longer respects us under Obama. Also: not true.

But she isn’t done yet! This is the last paragraph in full:

This golfer, campaigner is a danger to capitalism, freedom, the US Constitution. He is making America that dirty place like Chicago—corrupt, murderous, non productive, taxed and drained. What is America doing? Who is screaming with pain? One wonders if America is giving up, laying there and just taking it.

Don’t you just love the attack on Obama’s recent golf game?! Somehow, I suspect that she never had a problem with George W. Bush being a golfer. But okay, I hold it against Obama too. She then moves onto calling Obama a “campaigner.” This is the same old line that “Obama is only good in front of a teleprompter!” It’s just sad. But she isn’t done with her conservative riff! On she goes to mention the three things that every conservative loves but has only the vaguest of conceptions. It is hard to take these seriously from a woman who apparently thinks that one of the great freedoms we are missing out on is the freedom not to pay for signs that deer won’t read anyway.

What I’m most taken with here is that she abandons the “dark alley” and goes full tilt: Chicago is a dirty place! It is corrupt, murderous, non-productive, taxed, and drained! I think she starts that sentence talking about Chicago and ends talking about America. She seems to be under the impression that Chicago is a non-productive taker. Illinois is one of the many over-taxed blue states. Most of that doubtless comes from dirty Chicago. But smart people don’t turn to Tea Party members for facts.

The main thing about Kathleen O’Brien Wilhelm is how hateful she is. She just knows that all these people she has precious little experience with are evil and immoral. The Tea Party may only represent 8% of the population, but that is a lot for such vile thinking.

Naive Pundit Thinks GOP Cares About Deficit?

Matt YglesiasMatt Yglesias wants to know why the Republicans keep holding to their no new taxes pledge, even while rejecting deals that are overwhelmingly in their favor. I can’t really believe that he is being serious. Yglesias is a smart guy and in no way naive. If he has a fault, it is intellectual arrogance that causes him to think he really knows what’s going on when he doesn’t. But in this case, he’s just being dense. He seriously thinks the Republicans are interested in deficit reduction!

I wrote about this only yesterday, Major Media Have Sequester All Wrong. This all comes down to the Republican commitment to the rich. Republicans do not care if the poor are taxed more. Republicans do not care if the poor receive less money from the government. The only thing that Republicans do care about is giving more government money to the rich and taking less money from the rich in taxes. That’s all there is to know about the Republican Party.

Just look at why the Republicans now claim to be against reducing tax loopholes that they were supposedly for only two months ago. They don’t want to close loopholes because they want to use them later to lower tax rates. For a long time, I thought there was some great reason that was unknown to me why this made sense rather than just moving around who exactly paid what. There is a little economic theory behind it. Basically, it is distortionary and causes people to make investments that they wouldn’t normally make. That’s it! So the question naturally arises: why do Republicans care about this?

They don’t. But they know that it is really hard to raise tax rates. Just look at the Fiscal Cliff deal! So they want to get tax rated lowered by claiming that they are revenue neutral due to eliminating the loopholes. But in coming years, it will be easy to reintroduce loopholes. Given that loopholes most affect the rich, you end up with a big tax cut for the rich! And once again: making the rich richer is by far the most important concern of the Republican Party.

I am willing to believe that a lot of political pundits don’t understand this. But Matt Yglesias?! I don’t think so. I think he’s being coy. Or maybe he just doesn’t have much to write about. It is a slow news day after all. Except that C. Everett Koop just died at 96.

Contents of Character

Martin Luther King JrFifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said, “I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” It is a wonderful sentence, wise in content and poetic in style. I thought of it watching Democracy Now! this morning, during which they showed extended clips of the 1970 documentary King: a Filmed Record. It is really good and I recommend you check it out. The problem is that I don’t necessarily agree with the sentiment.

In some ways, Chris Hayes was wrong in Twilight of the Elites; America is something of a meritocracy. People who have more than enough to eat do not steal bread. And that is what is going on with the vast majority of so called immorality: teen pregnancy, drug use, and even violent crime. These are problems that explode due to insecurity, want, and apathy.

I don’t mean to put down Dr. King at all. He was talking at a different time. Not being judged by the color of your skin is necessary but not sufficient. And it isn’t as though we have become a color blind society. People (especially conservatives) who wanted to say that Obama’s election meant that we had moved into a post-racial era have shown themselves to be silly indeed. If anything, Obama’s election showed just how much racism was festering below the surface throughout the country. Have you heard about the research showing that less than 4% of fashion models are nonwhite?

The last year was frustrating for me. I hated hearing that Obama was for equality of outcomes while Romney was for equality of opportunity. First, of course, this isn’t even true. Obama is very clearly in the “equality of opportunity” camp and Romney is in the “equality of inheritance” camp. But the bigger issue is that “equality of opportunity” is a lie. There simply isn’t any such thing when “equality of outcomes” is so skewed.

Any society that allows one working man to make 500 times what another working man makes is morally bankrupt. There is simply no justification for such a system. As is well established, the more money one makes the easier it becomes to make money. In other words, we have developed a system that is nonlinear and unbound. Bill Gates makes millions of dollars every day even though he no longer works. I know all of the arguments to justify this income. None do I find compelling. But there are obvious and very strong arguments against it. I think the best one is the conservative argument: incentives matters. How does Gates’ ridiculous wealth incentivize the economic system to work better? The answer is that it doesn’t. The truth is that Bill Gates’ wealth is no more deserved than Edmund Tylney’s.

What I propose to you is that the billions of dollars that Gates gives away to (often repellent) charities speaks very little of his moral character. A guy at a rescue mission who gives an unwanted fish stick to his neighbor demonstrates a higher moral character. I’m all for judging people on the content of their character, but we need to contextualize it. We need to remember that a poor person’s stealing a cookie is hardly a moral failing at all. And giving away part of your unearned fortune is mostly if not wholly vanity. Most of all, we need to create a society that is equal enough so that we can reasonably judge the content of our character. Martin Luther King Jr certainly understood that.

Repeal Sequestration

Chris HayesYesterday’s Up with Chris Hayes was really interesting. It was good in the way the show usually is, but that’s not what I’m talking about. Through much of the show, Hayes was pleading to the world—including his panel—to have congress pass a “one sentence law saying no sequestration.” I share his exasperation.

The economics of this are very clear. Our economy has spent the last four years crawling very slowly out of recession. The government should be spending more. Now is not the time for austerity. We’ve already cut one and a half trillion dollars in the disastrous 2011 Debt Ceiling deal. Then we increased taxes by roughly $600 billion in the Fiscal Cliff deal. The deficit has been reduced every year that Obama has been president. Where is the fucking fire?!

Meanwhile, Greg Sargent reports this morning that Republican governors are starting to push for a Sequester deal. This isn’t that surprising. Congressional Republicans can obstruct and delay, looking toward a time when they are again in the White House. But Republican governors actually have to govern. As crazy as they are, they know if the trains stop running or the schools close down, they will be blamed.

Of course, all these people calling for a deal are missing the main point. While it is true that raising the taxes of rich people doesn’t hurt the economy as much as taking food stamps away from poor people, it does still hurt the economy. I was none too happy with the Fiscal Cliff deal. Yes, I think that the rich should pay more in taxes. (Of course, as usual, the administration didn’t even do a very good job at that goal.) But many liberals celebrated like it was some great blow for the people. Passing card check would have been infinitely better for the people.

Republicans aren’t the only problem in this Sequester fight. I find myself very frustrated with liberals who seem to think that the critical issue is between good and bad government spending. Sure, it is best that the government spend wisely. But in a depressed economy, spending is a good thing. There are no caveats. Howard Dean has been going around saying that the Sequester, while unfortunate, is a winner. At first, he was just making the same specious arguments about debt and “certainty.” Now he seems to be claiming that this is a once in a generation opportunity to cut defense spending. While this new argument may be better than the old argument, the economy can ill afford these cuts right now.

I almost dread a deal for the way liberals will act—pretending it is on par with the second coming of Christ. As it is, the administration isn’t even asking for half revenue. It is more like one-third revenue. So you can imagine, if a deal is struck, it is likely to be one-quarter revenue. I’m not saying that would be terrible, but I will be galled to hear people claim it is a liberal victory. A true liberal victory would be a “one sentence law saying no sequestration.”

Update (25 February 2013 9:05 am)

The Washington Post has an excellent table that runs down how the Sequester will affect education funding in each state. Even if you want to (and you shouldn’t, because it is a canard), this isn’t about “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Update (25 February 2013 9:27 am)

What do you know! The Pew Charitable Trust has put together an interactive map that shows how big the cuts will be to state budgets. It turns out that the non-defense Sequester hurts red states a lot more than blue states. Part of this is just that red states (The real America!) are the “takers” and the blue states (The anti-American bastards!) are the “makers.” But don’t think this will cause a ground swelling of Republican opposition to the Sequester. Most conservatives believe they don’t have their hands out to the government. In fact, I am constantly amazed at how many Fox News quoting conservatives live off SSI. They are for cutting programs because they just know that Rush, Sean, and the whole gang understand that Mr. Conservative SSI Recipient is one of the “deserving.” They would never cut funding for such loyal conservative media consumers!