The DSCC's heart was in the right place when it produced this "wrecking ball" ad attacking Republican Senators. But note which Senator they highlighted as "voting against a bill to help struggling homeowners..."
Big up to Paul Krugman, who bitch slaps Country Bob Jindal's ridiculing of government spending on volcano tracking:
leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens. The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.
Bobby Jindal and the perils of excessive folksiness
Jindal's folksy response to Obama, in which he calls himself a "pre-existing condition."
I know everyone wants to talk about President Obama's powerful performance last night in his non-SOTU SOTU address, but sorry, I just can't get Bobby Jindal's response out of my mind. Yes, yes, it was problematic in that it lacked specific remedies to our economic woes that could confer credibility on the party out of power or make America want to give the GOP another chance at leadership, which is the essential critique over at The Moderate Voice. Sure, it's insane and nihilistic, as David Brooks put it, to simply stand there and say "no, no, NO, let the country crash and burn while we pray for better days!" And yep, it "stunk on ice" in terms of delivery, as this booty-obsessed GOPer opined (one Republican strategist said watching Obama then Jindal was "like watching the Rolling Stones open for Air Supply." Ouch!) But WHY did it stink so badly?
In short: it's the GOP's obsession with appearing to be "just folks." They can't get enough of it. The party that since the late 19th century has represented big business, from Standard Oil to Halliburton to Lehman Brothers, has so denuded itself of a middle class message, that it is left to panhandle for lower middle class white voters in Appalachia and the rest of the NASCAR circuit. How to do it? By trying to marry the interests of poor whites to the interests of rich whites. Somewhere along the line, the GOP decided that the way to do that was to feign a king of false populism -- an "us against them" brocade that pits "real Americans" -- hardscrabble, indepedent folks who don't want no darned Social Security (as Joe the Plumber bravely asserted during the campaign) and don't need no government welfare disguised as "stimulus money" ... even though the states they live in are, to a one, net welfare states that take in more federal money than they pay in taxes.
The incredible trick of getting poor people to stand up for the rights of the rich -- sort of like getting the masses to storm the Bastille on behalf of Marie Antoinette -- is a neat one, performed in large part thanks to the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which allowed people like Rush Limbaugh to own AM radio, a key transmitter of information to folks who still use rabbit ears on their television sets and prefer huntin' and fishin' to reading a newspaper.
The other way the GOP operates, is to create these characters -- people whose backgrounds suggest wealth, success and sophistication: a self-made governor of Alaska; a Rhodes Scholar, first generation American, 37-year-old governor of Louisiana; even the son of a president -- but whose demeanor suggests "aw, shucks, fellers, ahm just lahk you!" George W. Bush, Yale graduate, male cheerleader and scion of great wealth, purchased a ranch in Crawford just before running for president. Immediately upon leaving office? He and Laura moved into an exclusive, comfortable neighborhood of Dallas that had racial covenants in place just a few years ago. Nobody knows how intelligent Sarah Palin actually is, but during the campaign she came off as a cross between Ellie Mae Clampett and Donna Reed. Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor Maryland, and now the Official Black Man of the 99 percent white Republican Party, feels the need to drop the word "baby" at the end of every sentence, and promises to give his party a "hip-hop makeover." And now, there's poor Bobby Jindal, an impressive man, if you read his resume, but whose demeanor and delivery last night were so stilted and ... hell ... just plain wierd ... that he has ensured only one thing: a cameo on South Park. Other than that? 2012 is a wash.
Watch: Bobby Jindal's Country Bear Jamboree:
Democrats have their folksy characters, too. Bill Clinton, who like Jindal was a Rhodes Scholar, is as folksy as they come. And even Barack Obama comes across as a purely suburban Mr. Rogers, which was part of his appeal to white voters. But both of these men were and are unafraid to flaunt their intellectual heft and command of policy. Meanwhile, the so-called "conservatives" of the GOP exhibit a disdain for anyone who sounds too smart or educated (essentially telling their least educated voters, "see, that guy thinks he's better than you...) And it seems, the Grand Old Party has developed a total aversion to actual ideas. Instead, what they're selling is the old salt of tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts! ... coupled with this strange, "aw shucks" pandering to a shrinking database of voters in a confined geographic area, and at a long-term demographic disadvantage. (Steele is even hinting that his RNC will sabotage the re-elections of the last remaining northeastern GOP Senators, as if a far right candidate could possibly win in Pennsylvania or Maine today.)
Unfortunately for the GOP, as one of the few authentic folksy guys in the party -- Mike Huckabee, who was rejected by the leaders of the right wing revolution -- might say, "that dog won't hunt." Not when most Americans realize that we desperately need more education, more intellectual curiosity, and less pandering to the lowest common denominator, in order to move the country forward.
The federal dole: the common denominator in GOP stim opposition
Let's see... our folksy friend Bobby Jindal doesn't want the stimulus money ... nor does the equally folksy Sarah Palin of Alaska, Mark Sanford of South Carolina, Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Sonny Perdue of Georgia, and even some Democrats, like Phil Bredeson of Tennessee. Most of them say they only object to giving their unemployed residents increased benefits. But since they have now been informed by Chuck Schumer that it's "all or nothing," perhaps some of them will stand by their "conservative principles" and not take any of the dough.
Still, as many observers, including political scientist Larry Sabato, have said, it would be a lot easier to listen to that kind of fiscal "discipline" from people who weren't feeding so heartily at the federal trough. Because see, it turns out, the states that are turning up their noses at the federal dollars Obama is offering, happen to also be the states sucking down far more federal pork than, say, Florida, Michigan, New York or California, which send more taxes to D.C. than they get back (and where the governors have said, "yes, please show us the money."
According to the Tax Policy Center, here's how the numbers shake out, in terms of dollars received per dollar of taxes paid, in the latest year they have records for, 2005 (states where governors or Senators have taken a yay or nay position on the stimulus in bold*)
He looked shell shocked. He spoke in a monotonous, hokey voice, that reminded me of one of those old fashioned "Your body and you" films we were forced to watch in seventh grade. And that accent! I mean, the guy sounded like an Indian Barney Fife! But what was truly lame about Bobby Jindal's response to President Obama's commanding address tonight was the content. In short: there was none.
Jindal invoked Hurricane Katrina (which caused billions of federal dollars to be sucked into his state) to pooh-pooh government spending. He then waxed creepy, referring to an "old saying" about half of Louisiana being "under water" and the other half being "under indictment." Sorry, but even so many years after Katrina, that under water shit's just not funny, man.
He snickered at investments in a new fleet of federal government automobiles that would ostensibly be built in Detroit ... hence creating jobs ... and high speed rail "from Las Vegas to Disneyland," which even if it were true, would also ... wait for it ... create (in this case, infrastructure) jobs.
He told hokey story after hokey story, about his dad, about the wonders of the supermarket, peppering a terrible speech with "Americans can do anything." It sounded like he should end each sentence with "Ma" or "Pa." Truly, this guy is the male Sarah Palin!
He invoked the shop-worn GOP tactic for appealing to ... well I'm not sure who at this point ... by droning on and on about slavery. As if! Barack Obama is already president, dude. Moving on, now!
He claimed Republicans in Congress "went along with" big government spending during the six years they controlled EVERY BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT, instead of allowing his buddies in D.C. to take responsibility. And then he talked about re-asserting personal responsibility. Somebody get me a hammer for my head!
And those eyes! Staring, unmoving, into the camera... I felt hypnotized, and not in a good way...
If that guy is the future of the Republican Party, all I can say is Barack Obama: four more years.
Rachel Maddow's review was priceless: "bah bah bah ... I know I talk for a living, but I'm not sure I'm capable of doing what I get paid to do right now. I'm absolutely stunned."
I just wish Jindal's speech contained more substance.
Instead, the governor stuck to the tried-and-true attacks on Democrats as the spend, spend, spend party. That's basically true.
But what's the alternative from the GOP? Exactly how do Jindal and the Republicans want to get America out of its fiscal mess?
Look closely, and Jindal's speech contained little that shows he and his party have a lot of good clues about how to do that.
Yeah, well you should have seen it, brother! Even before Jindall got started, Chris Matthews muttered "Oh God..." (with the mic still hot...) setting up the hilarity to follow.
More Youtube fun. Jindal repeats debunked claims on high speed rail. Watch those eyes and tell me you are not entertained:
UPDATE: ThinkProgress compiles the Jindal pannery (from the Fox News panel, no less) and throws in some choice clips from Jindal Fife's little talk with America (and yes, he did call himself a "what folks in the in-SUR-ance industry call a 'pre-existing condition'...") God help us all...
I thought his delivery was weak. The content will play well with the party base but seems unlikely to expand it. . . . That said, it is hard for anybody to come out well from responding to a presidential speech to a joint session of Congress.
On the up-side, the Giant Fur Hat Lady, the Hair Tail off the Side Lady and Joe the Plumber's dad thought he was "exemPLARY." I suppose Frank Luntz can't afford to be picky these days...
Schumer to Jindal and Company: take it or leave it
The stimulus package is not an a la carte buffet, Bobby Jindal. Chuck Schumer informs the GOPers that if they don't want all of the money, they needn't take any of the money.
By the way, a Youtube commenter asks a salient question: since when is helping the unemployed "pork?"
Barney Frank added to the hardball tonight ... er ... on "Countdown" by mocking the Republican Naysaying governors by saying "some people define courage as a willingness to endure the suffering of others." He then asks what's with Jindal "denying working people who've lost their jobs through no fault of their own" unemployment benefits. He concludes: "if that's political courage, I hope they have more cowardice."
As you know, Section 1607(a) of the economic recovery legislation provides that the Governor of each state must certify a request for stimulus funds before any money can flow. No language in this provision, however, permits the governor to selectively adopt some components of the bill while rejecting others. To allow such picking and choosing would, in effect, empower the governors with a line-item veto authority that President Obama himself did not possess at the time he signed the legislation. It would also undermine the overall success of the bill, as the components most singled out for criticism by these governors are among the most productive measures in terms of stimulating the economy.
For instance, at least two governors have proposed rejecting a program to expand unemployment insurance for laid-off workers. Economists consistently rank unemployment insurance among the most efficient and cost-effective fiscal stimulus measures; by one frequently cited estimate, it provides an economic return of as high as $1.73 for every dollar invested. Thus, by denying this provision for their residents, these governors are not just depriving some of the neediest Americans of relief in a dire economy; they are undermining the overall stimulative impact of the package.
So go ahead, Bobby. Reject the money. I double dare you...
A new ABC/WaPo poll puts the president's approval rating at 68 percent. The GOP? Not so much.
Compared, the approval ratings fall this way:
President Obama - 68% Democrats in Congress - 50 Republicans in Congress - 38 (wah wah waaaaahhhhh....)
And the Post writes:
Overall, 68 percent of poll respondents approve of Obama's job performance, a finding that puts him on par with the average for the past eight presidents at this point in their tenures. Ninety percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independents approve of Obama's performance. Sixty-four percent said they approve of how Obama is handling appointments to the Cabinet and other top positions in the administration, despite tax problems and stumbles that have led to three of his top nominees withdrawing from consideration.
Although Obama has encountered near-unanimous GOP opposition to his stimulus plan in Congress and widespread criticism for a housing bailout plan that some say rewards people who have been fiscally irresponsible, 64 percent of those polled back the economic recovery package, and the same percentage support the mortgage proposal. The broad support for the recovery package comes as just 10 percent said the bill was too heavy on spending and too light on tax cuts, the primary contention of the Republican leadership in Congress.
Overall, 60 percent of poll respondents approve of how Obama is dealing with the economy.
About nine in 10 Democrats and seven in 10 independents said Obama is living up to the central promise of his campaign: bringing change to Washington. Most Republicans said he is not.
Half of all poll respondents said they approve of how congressional Democrats are doing their jobs, up 15 points from July and the highest marks they have received in nearly two years. Congressional Republicans also are being viewed more favorably, with 38 percent approving of their job performance, a 13-point improvement since the middle of last year.
Head to head, though, Americans put far more faith in Obama than in congressional Republicans: Sixty-one percent said they trust Obama more than the GOP on economic matters; 26 percent side with the Republicans in Congress. On that question, Obama's advantage is bigger than George W. Bush, Bill Clinton or George H.W. Bush ever had over the opposition party in the legislature.
Overall, Democrats maintain an edge of nearly 2 to 1 over Republicans as the party that Americans prefer to confront "the big issues" over the next few years.
Santelli's scared... or: some revolutionary HE turned out to be
Um ... who could possibly be afraid of Robert Gibbs? Answer: Rick Santelli, the Bourgeois Baron himself, and would-be leader of the Chicago Tea Party. Now, our friendly neighborhood "real American" Wall Street capitalist says he's terrified ... terrified, I say! ... of the guv'ment:
A new CBS News/New York Times poll finds broad support for President Obama's mortgage rescue plan, though you wouldn't know it from CBS News' headline:
Poll: Public Wary Of More Bailouts
Really? Sounds grim (and this from the new home of an extremist like this.) But let's read on...
As President Obama pushes a $75 billion mortgage relief plan, sixty-one percent of those surveyed say the government should help homeowners, while just 20 percent oppose such help.
Hm... that doesn't match the headline...
But while 35 percent say Mr. Obama’s plan makes them feel relieved for people facing foreclosure, just as many are resent the beneficiaries of the program for needing to be rescued following what respondents see as irresponsible behavior.
Let's examine that, shall we? In the actual poll, rather than the story, 61 percent indeed say homeowners should be helped. But that includes 47 percent of Republicans (with just 31 percent opposed) and 59 percent of Independents, with just 24 percent opposed. Democrats approve of helping struggling homeowners by a wider 73-9 percent. As for resentment, the poll reads this way:
OBAMA’S PLAN TO AID HOMEOWNERS MAKES YOU FEEL… Relieved for people facing foreclosure 35% Resentful of irresponsible homeowners 35 Don’t know enough about plan yet 26
Not sure that means Americans are "increasingly resentful." It means that about one-third each feel relieved or resentful. Not exactly "public wary of more bailouts." What the poll does find is that a majority of Americans don't want to hand more money to banks: just 39 percent approve of that idea, versus 50 percent who disagree. The reason? 57 percent don't believe that giving money to the banks, who aren't lending the money (and who may actually be hiding it...) will help the economy.
On the other hand, a majority of Americans do oppose bailouts to corporate entities and banks, in other words, to the people they perceive as the villains in the economic collapse. Per CBS:
Fifty-nine percent say President Obama’s proposal to help banks would only help bankers, not all Americans.
There is widespread support for the president and Congress’ efforts to cap executive pay: Eighty-three percent say the government should limit executive salaries if companies get federal money. Just 11 percent say it should not.
Americans are even less supportive of a further bailout for the U.S. auto industry. (Automakers have already received loans from the government but say they may need more money to avoid bankruptcy.) Just 22 percent say the government should give more money to automakers, while 68 percent oppose any further aid.
But guess who isn't seen as the villain? That would be Barack Obama:
One month into his term, President Obama’s overall approval rating remains favorable, with 63 percent of Americans approving of the job he is doing as president. The figure is similar to the approval rating he received earlier this month.
Seventy-six percent of Americans are confident in Mr. Obama’s ability to make the right decisions about the economy, including nearly a third who are very confident.
More than half of Americans also approve of President Obama’s handling of foreign policy (57 percent) and Iraq (54 percent).
And 77 percent are optimistic about the next four years with Mr. Obama as president, including 57 percent of Republicans.
Meanwhile, the public appears to be tiring of the Republican political stunt-making when it comes to reviving the economy, and they are increasingly seen as partisan and obstructionist:
While the percentage of Americans who believe the president is trying for bipartisanship has slipped seven points from earlier this month, 74 percent still think he is trying to be bipartisan.
By contrast, just 45 percent say Congressional Democrats are trying to be bipartisan and 31 percent say Congressional Republicans are trying to do so.
Most of those surveyed say Republican opposition to the stimulus bill - it passed with the support of no House Republicans and just three Senate Democrats - results from politics.
Sixty-three percent say GOP opposition was for political reasons, while 29 percent say it was because the stimulus bill would be bad for the economy.
Americans say Mr. Obama should focus more on his positions than reaching across the aisle. Fifty-six percent say he should prioritize sticking to his policies, while just 39 percent say he should put bipartisanship first. Seventy-nine percent, however, say Congressional Republicans should prioritize bipartisanship.
In other words: throw the Republicans overboard. Back to the stimulus bill: the exact numbers are as follows:
IMPACT OF STIMULUS BILL ON ECONOMY (will make things) Better 53% Worse 13 No impact 24
And Americans have realistic expectations:
STIMULUS BILL’S EFFECT ON LENGTH OF RECESSION Will shorten significantly 19% Will shorten, not significantly 17 Will not shorten 50
Most of those surveyed assumed Obama's plans would improve the economy in 2 to 4 years.
BTW, the GOP has caught onto the public mood, and even Bobby Jindal was bending over backward to sound "bipartisan" during the governors' news conference today. Too late, my friend.
Meanwhile Bobby Jindal was on MTP this weekend, and still trying to convince thinking people that his state doesn't want to take the stim money. By the way, Jindal's argument is that he has to look out for the business owners and "taxpayers" of Louisiana, which is why he doesn't want unemployment insurance help from Uncle Sam. In other words: screw the broke. Jindal represents the "winners."
SC's Mark Sanford is trying to boost his GOP star power by saying he doesn't want the money either, (unless of course he DOES want the money...) to which I say, "make my day." (Paul Begala agrees. Any Republican governor or Senator who doesn't want the money should just leave it on the table (and good luck getting re-elected.) Arnold Schwarzenegger, who the Daily Beast reports nearly left the GOP over his insistence on pragmatism, said on "This Week" that the Obama administration can "give the money to Cali." And Charlie Crist, who did a great job on MTP and looked incredibly reasonable, hammered home the fact that he's in office as a public servant, not a party servant, and he answers to the people of Florida, not the GOP. If the Republican Party had any brains left (which it apparently doesn't,) it would be more Arnold and Charlie, and less Bobby, Mark, and crazy Shelby.
Ideology first: Jindal fires the first shot for 2012
Per ThinkP - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal just says no to $100 million in stimulus money for unemployed residents of his state. Now THERE's a great way to improve his changes of getting the 2012 GOP presidential nomination by ... ensuring he is not re-elected governor of Louisiana???
And other Republican governors are preparing to follow suit, even as the White House goes around their colleages in Congress, dealing directly with more amenable governors and mayors. But can someone explain how punishing the people of one's state improves a politician's political fortunes? The GOP has caught itself in a hell of a trap: they can either be hypocrites and beg for the money they voted against, or be ideologues and hurt their own constituents.
Remember the story of the little red hen? The one who refused to participate in gathering the wheat, threshing it, making the flour, mixing the mash or baking it up, but was right ready to partake in eating the bread? Apparently, the little red hen was a Republican.
First, the House GOPers and all but three Republican Senators voted "no" on the economic recovery bill. Then, of course, we all found out that some of those same wingers are sending out press releases touting the goodies in the bill for their home districts. Hm. Nothing new. Well now, some governors, having caught on to the irony, are trying to de-hen themselves by turning down stimulus money. The better to be ideologically consistent (truthfully, I'd like to see Arizona and other states whose delegations opposed the bill get nothing, and then let's see what happens in 2010...) But here's the catch: many of the Republican governors (of some of America's poorest states, by the way,) are considering saying no to the money, knowing their states will get it anyway.
U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 House Democrat, said the governors _ some of whom are said to be eyeing White House bids in 2012 _ are putting their own interests first.
"No community or constituent should be denied recovery assistance due to their governor's political ideology or political aspirations," Clyburn said Wednesday.
In fact, governors who reject some of the stimulus aid may find themselves overridden by their own legislatures because of language Clyburn included in the bill that allows lawmakers to accept the federal money even if their governors object.
He inserted the provision based on the early and vocal opposition to the stimulus plan by South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford. But it also means governors like Sanford and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal _ a GOP up-and-comer often mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate _ can burnish their conservative credentials, knowing all the while that their legislatures can accept the money anyway.
Poster child for the 'new' GOP: angry, old, bitter John McCain
John McCain: the world's most miserable politician
And some people thought he wasn't the party's ideal standard bearer... From the Huffpo:
Democrats are growing increasingly frustrated with the brash political attacks Sen. John McCain has launched against Barack Obama in the weeks since the new president took office. No one expected the Arizona Republican to be a legislative ally for this administration. But it was widely assumed that Obama's overtures to McCain in the weeks after the election would dull some of the hard feelings between the two. Now, they are realizing, it has not.
"He is bitter and really angry," Bob Shrum said of McCain in an interview on Friday. "He is angry at the press, which he thinks is unfair. He is angry at Obama and angry at the voters. He has gone from being an angry old candidate to being an angry old defeated candidate."
Indeed, McCain has been all over TV, seeming to go out of his way to dis President Obama - the man who defeated him for the White House (happy Presidents Day, everybody!) and the economic recovery bill that passed the Senate without him or his little sidekick Miss Lindsey "we're screwed" Graham.
McCain is not alone. Even fellow conservatives are starting to notice how bereft and old fashioned the GOP's "salt marsh mouse" strategy is. Not to mention the fact that it won't work, unless the country plummets even deeper into recession. What a thing to root for...
Meanwhile President Obama heads to McCain's backyard on Wednesday to talk up his housing initiative. McCain will, sadly, be "in another part of the state." Heehee...
And double meanwhile, maybe this is the real reason McCain is so grouchy these days ... well, let's just face it, EVERY ... day...
John McCain might be fan favorite during Phoenix Suns games, but Arizona’s senior senator sure didn’t receive a warm hometown welcome Sunday night in front a national crowd at US Airways Center.
McCain, who’s held his seat in Arizona for 22 years, was greeted with a smattering of boos and hisses when introduced with wife, Cindy, during a break between the first and second quarter of the NBA All-Star game Sunday night.
His presidential opponent Barack Obama was greeted more cordially after a short speech that aired during halftime on the stadium’s monitors and big screens.
Politico reports that our friends the "Do Nothing" Republicans will attempt to turn their economic recovery lemons into lemonade by airing anti-legislation ads in 30 Democratic districts. Fair enough. But then, the online mag commits the cardinal old media sin: writing the narrative, instead of the facts. And usually, the MSM narrative favors the Republican position, whatever it happens to be (remember the "is it spending or stimulus" debate?) Politico's Patrick O'Connor writes:
The party’s campaign arm will start airing radio ads Friday in approximately 30 Democratic districts to argue that the bill violates the lawmakers’ campaign pledge to restore fiscal responsibility to Washington.
Public opinion, though slipping, currently favors President Barack Obama and his package of spending and tax cuts to bolster the retreating economy. So Republicans are making a long-term gamble that opposition to the package will look prescient two years from now if the economy is still struggling.
Slipping? Really? No, not really. Actually, public opinion favoring the economic recovery package is growing. Per Gallup:
Obama Has Upper Hand in Stimulus Fight Obama’s 67% approval rating on the stimulus is more than twice that of Republicans
PRINCETON, NJ -- The American public gives President Barack Obama a strong 67% approval rating for the way in which he is handling the government's efforts to pass an economic stimulus bill, while the Democrats and, in particular, the Republicans in Congress receive much lower approval ratings of 48% and 31%, respectively.
And more Gallup, which finds today that support for the plan is up among all party groups:
Public support for an $800 billion economic stimulus package has increased to 59% in a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Tuesday night, up from 52% in Gallup polling a week ago, as well as in late January.
Over the same period, support for the stimulus package held steady among independents, with a slight majority in favor of it. The percentage of Republicans favoring the package rose slightly from 24% to 28%, but remains below the 34% support received in early January, before Congress began its formal consideration of the package.
The problem for the GOP is that because they spent eight years repudiating these core principles, they have no credibility now embracing said principles. Without the protection of those principles, the GOP simply looks like it wants to oppose for the sake of opposition at a time when the country is crumbling.