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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Freddy Krueger Bedtime Links

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 8, 2011

Folks in the U.K. are PISSED!  First it was London, then Birmingham (not THAT Birmingham…but would you be surprised if it was), and now we can add Liverpool to the list of English cities have that devolved into chaos.  This has got to make the IOC feel great about the 2012 Summer Olympics slated for London.

Does anyone know if they stop at 4:00 each afternoon for T.E.A.?  We need a BlogHawgs Nation correspondent in London.

If only we’d listened to Sarah…   Turns out she predicted the S&P downgrade.  I’m particularly impressed with that prediction, personally.  I had no idea she predicted the gross overvaluation of the yuan, the dangerously strong yen, the Euro Zone meltdown from Greece to Ireland to Spain to Italy – not to mention the extreme drought, abnormally violent weather patterns across the Midwest, and cataclysmic natural disasters in east Asia.  Perhaps we have underestimated her.  Or maybe she’s just full of shit.

Asian markets are about as stable as … well … U.S. markets.

Mr. President, when Dana Milbank doesn’t have your back you need to re-evaluate your strategy.

It’s not exactly fair to blame Obama for the rout: Almost certainly, the markets ignored him. And that’s the problem: The most powerful man in the world seems strangely powerless, and irresolute, as larger forces bring down the country and his presidency.

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Posted in Commentary, News, Politics | 1 Comment »

Cowboy Up

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 8, 2011

Apparently God told Rick Perry to shine up his spurs and strap on his shitkickers.  According to Talking Points Memo, the Texas governor plans this Saturday to announce his candidacy for President of the United States.  Recent polling suggests Gov. Perry would immediately be considered a front-runner along side former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Hm… A conservative Texas governor with huge political skills and a weak primary field…. What could possibly go wrong?

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

S&P to U.S. Treasury: “Suck it.”

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 6, 2011

At least they waited until markets closed on Friday.

The Standard & Poors agency’s bond rating arm downgraded the long-term U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+ status.

“The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics,” S&P said in a statement.

The price of Tea just went up…

 

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

It’s Not All Bad News

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 5, 2011

Everyone held their breath yesterday after the Dow plunged in the worst sell-off of stocks since the recession began.  Global markets followed from Asia to Europe overnight, sparking concerns of another big day of losses today.  Luckily the new jobless numbers came out to stifle the negativity.   The private sector added 154,000 new workers in July, but the public sector lost 37,000 jobs according to the Labor Department.

It is definitely great news that the private sector created so many jobs.  The problem is that the number needs to double – and double quickly – if we’re going to get back to acceptable unemployment figures.  We also cannot afford to layoff public workers.  Quite simply, public sector losses slow the economy.  Small businesses need those people to have money to spend in their stores.

After yesterday’s wild ride, it is certainly nice to get some positive news.  As I mentioned earlier this week, the “budget crisis” will solve itself if we create more jobs.  Higher employment means more tax revenue and less people using government safety net programs.  More revenue and less spending…a balanced approach indeed.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Heaven Help Us

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 5, 2011

I’m not sure “Heaven Help Us” is the official name of the committee, but “Constitutional scholar” Curtis Coleman – also a failed U.S. Senate candidate – has agreed to give Secretary of State Mark Martin a hand.  Tip o’ the cap to Jason Tolbert for reporting the story this morning.  As you may have noticed, Sec. Martin has had a difficult time in office thus far.  So he has engaged Mr. Coleman to help evaluate where things have gone wrong.

I’m all for seeking help, but forgive me if I’m a bit skeptical.  The key line is this one:

 (Martin spokesperson Mark) Myers stated that the committee’s mission will be “to make sure everything we do fits inside that conservative framework that we campaigned on.”

Seems like that is unnecessary.  The key rules are pretty simple: maintain the capitol grounds & ensure elections across the state are conducted legally.  There are other duties, but most are conducted by career bureaucrats and not the political staff.

Mr. Coleman and his group will not be paid, which sounds like a good thing.  The cynic in me – which admittedly is most of me – questions why someone would take on this project for free.  Especially someone with the expressed views of Mr. Coleman.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 4, 2011

I contend The Onion is the most reliably funny site on the Internet.

WASHINGTON—After months of heated negotiations and failed attempts to achieve any kind of consensus, President Obama turned 50 years old Thursday, drawing strong criticism from Republicans in Congress.

 

Posted in Commentary, Politics | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Dirty Money

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 4, 2011

For decades we have heard politicians and those who follow politics talk about the need for campaign finance reform.  We have also heard many other voices say that no reform is needed other than allowing unlimited money from unlimited sources.  I think most people would agree that contributions must be regulated to some degree while still allowing people to invest in politics.  While I do not believe it should be unlimited, I do agree that in some capacity money does equal speech.

Just like speech though, we have laws that limit types of speech in specific situations.

I say all that to get to a story I read today about a “company” that incorporated, contributed $1 Million to a PAC, then dissolved — all in roughly a six-week period.  Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican candidate for President, was the beneficiary of this contribution.  Rather, a PAC designed to help Romney become President benefited.  But there is little distinction between the Romney campaign and the PAC.

To be clear, I have no reason to pick on Romney specifically.  If the election were held tomorrow, I’d probably vote to re-elect the President.  But if it were between President Obama and Gov. Romney, I am not sure I’d weep openly if Romney won – even if he does wear magic underwear.

I think this exposes a huge flaw in our campaign finance system.  As noted in the story, a similar PAC has been established in an effort to help the President win re-election.

The hefty size of the W Spann contribution, and its murky origins, highlights the growing prominence of groups like Restore Our Future, one of a wave of super PACs that are amassing hefty campaign war chests this year — unrestricted by any limits on how much they can collect from corporations and other wealthy donors. (A similar group, Priorities USA, was recently created by two former White House aides, including former Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, to aid President Barack Obama’s re-election bid.)

This new wave of spending comes thanks to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.  In a nutshell, this ruling says corporations have the same rights as living, breathing humans to contribute to political action committees.  This means corporate entities, labor unions, and other similar organizations can contribute unlimited funds to these “super PACs” that ultimately decide an election.  That means hundreds of millions of dollars nationwide spent on behalf of candidates that does not have to be reported in any form or fashion.

As the dust settles from the recent debt/deficit debate in Washington, I think it’s important that all sides look for some common ground.  I would think that most people – people who believe in the “one person, one vote” philosophy – have an interest in protecting the integrity of elections.  Grassroots movements can start anywhere, and as the Tea Party has clearly shown – grassroots campaigns can be very effective.  Perhaps it’s time for all partisans to come together around one issue: legitimate, reasoned campaign finance reform.

 

Posted in Commentary, Politics | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on Dirty Money

The Budget

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 2, 2011

If you’ve turned on the news, even Sports Center only, you’ve heard about the pending debt crisis.  The President signed a bill today that allows the federal government to sell bonds (create debt) in order to pay the bills.  Contrary to popular belief (or what I suspect Fox News says), this is not a “blank check” on 2 different levels.

1)  It’s a specified “check” with a maximum value in the neighborhood of $2.4 trillion.

2) This pays for debts incurred by previous administrations and Congresses, in addition to this current group on The Hill right now.

No matter who started it, the fight is real and the effects are about to get serious.  This first round of deficit cuts will have minimal impact.  The $1.2 trillion “up front” cuts actually cover a 10-year budget period.  Most of the cuts are backloaded and would likely have been altered by future Congresses anyway.  The really troubling part is the mandatory spending caps for FY2012-14.  That could really hamper our efforts to recover from an increasingly likely double-dip recession.

The larger issue is the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and its power.  If comprised of 12 moderate voices – assuming there are 12 left in Washington – it could work.  Party leaders on both sides, though, are almost certain to appoint lawmakers loyal to the party leaders.  That means virtually nothing meaningful would gain a majority of votes.  THAT means automatic $1.2 trillion cuts across the board starting in January 2014.  Which means an end to life as we know it.  We’ll be livin’ Little Orphan Annie style by 2015 if that happens.

Here’s a statement on the issue from my office.  I think it sums up my frustration pretty well.

(This legislation) asks middle class families to shoulder the burden of the debt crisis while corporations, billionaires, and millionaires are asked to do nothing. Meanwhile, regular working people in Arkansas have just been told that they need to work harder and expect fewer of the services that we all rely on for economic security.

There is a major risk that the agreement will hurt economic growth and the nation’s ability to create jobs. In a poor state like Arkansas, pulling back low-income programs not only threatens the economic stability of families, but hurts our economic prospects. In Arkansas we see the benefit of programs like Medicaid every day. A Walton School of Business study, for example, showed that each Medicaid dollar spent in Arkansas creates $6 in economic activity. Cuts to Medicaid represent an immediate and severe cut to the state’s economic well-being.

Over the past 10 years marginal income tax rates have been at the lowest levels (relative to income) since the 1950s.  If low taxes create jobs, why do we have an unemployment rate nearing 10%?  The Clinton Era tax code asked those at the top to pay 3% more than they pay now, and it was an era of unprecedented growth.  That’s not to say high taxes increase job growth; it’s to say that higher taxes do not stifle it.

The deficit is not a driver of a bad economy, it is the logical outcome.  As unemployment rises, income tax receipts decline.  Basic Econ 101.  So people without work tend to rely more often on government support programs like Medicaid and SNAP and unemployment insurance.  Ergo, government spending increases.  It’s the nature of a recession.  It does not create one.  Cutting off those payments and taking money out of the economy, though, WILL create a recession.

Bottom line is this:  Get the damn job done, Congress.  Put together a real jobs program.  Get manual laborers back to work.  Let’s build some shit.  Quit crying and start doing.  I’m sick of partisans spending their entire time blaming the other side for the downfall of America.  If we could get 535 unemployed Americans in Congress for about a week while putting Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid on government assistance for a week, I think we’d be in pretty good shape.

Someone call ABC!  I have a new reality show idea!

Posted in Commentary, Politics | Tagged: , | Comments Off on The Budget

New Poll

Posted by Brett Kincaid on August 2, 2011

No, this is not a college football poll.  This is a CNN/ORC poll on how Americans feel about the soon-to-be-passed debt deal.  Personally, I think the headline of the link is an affront to spoiled children everywhere.

 A majority of Americans disapprove of the deal struck Sunday by President Barack Obama and congressional leaders that will raise the country’s legal borrowing limit, and three out of four believe elected officials have acted like “spoiled children.”

What say you, BlogHawg Nation?

 

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Daily Political Thought

Posted by Brett Kincaid on June 20, 2011

Posted in Commentary, Politics | Comments Off on Daily Political Thought

Will Beck Be Next?

Posted by Brett Kincaid on February 2, 2011

Keith Olbermann shocked many last month by abruptly ending his run at MSNBC as the host of “Countdown”, the liberal answer to Limbaugh, O’Reilly, and the lovable Glenn Beck.  The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wonders if Glenn Beck may be the next to go.  Thanks to his steadily increasing rhetoric many view as anti-Semitic, Mr. Beck may finally force Fox’s hand.  Call me a cynic, but I sincerely doubt Fox cares enough to sanction Mr. Beck.  Until advertisers abandon his shtick, Mr. Beck probably has the most secure job in the business.

That said, Mr. Milbank thinks the tide against Mr. Beck is rising.

A Fox News spokesman brushed off the complaint in the usual fashion, attributing it to a “Soros-backed left-wing political organization.” But that’s not going to fly: The statement’s signatories included the chief executive of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and his predecessor, the dean of the conservative Jewish Theological Seminary rabbinical school, and a number of orthodox rabbis.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Mauch-ary of a Bill

Posted by Brett Kincaid on February 2, 2011

Rep. Loy Mauch (R – 26) of Bismark provided some entertaining fodder in the House Public Health Committee yesterday.  Mr. Mauch introduced HB1205, a bill that – among other things – claimed “mind altering drugs” like lithium were prevalent in the water supply.  He also seems to think fluoride is making everyone dumb and ripe for a take over by socialists.  (I happen to think Fox News is making everyone dumb and ripe for a take over by fascists, but different strokes for different folks.)

Anyway, the bill was treated with all due respect (which is to say minimal).  In the highlight of the hearing, Rep. Tracy Pennartz (D – 65) of Fort Smith crushed Mr. Mauch with her questions, perhaps crossing the line between criticism and condescension.  The good news is that the folks at the Arkansas Times were there to provide some video.

Click Here to see the exchange between Mr. Mauch and Ms. Pennartz.

Representative Mauch has been under intense scrutiny due in large part to his ties to The League of the South.  The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified The League of the South as a hate group thanks to its advocacy for secession from the United States and neo-Confederate rhetoric.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is your Arkansas legislature at work!

Posted in News, Politics | 5 Comments »

Hammer to the Slammer

Posted by Jeff on January 10, 2011

At least he will be known for one of the greatest mugshots ever.

Tom DeLay was sentenced to at least three years in jail for funneling corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. 

Headline too cheesy?  I have no filter, people.

Posted in News, Politics | 2 Comments »

Watching Fox News Makes You Dumb

Posted by Brett Kincaid on December 17, 2010

I rot your brain worse than MTV.

I have long held the belief that Fox News was really more of an opinion channel with little attention paid to actual news.  Turns out I was right.  So says a study by the University of Maryland.  This study compared how well viewers were informed of real, verifiable facts based on their viewing habits.  No news outlet had a perfect score, but the folks at Fox led the race to the bottom by a large margin.

Oh, and this is not a partisan thing either.  Self-described Democrats also lost brain cells by watching Fox.

 

The effect was also not simply a function of partisan bias, as people who voted Democratic and watched Fox News were also more likely to have such misinformation than those who did not watch it — though by a lesser margin than those who voted Republican,” said the study.

In short, “it has been statistically proven that you will be more misinformed if you watch Fox (News) than other networks,” said Ramsay.

You can read the entire study here if you don’t believe that liberal international paper from…Toronto.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: | 5 Comments »

Army Birther Going to Jail

Posted by Jeff on December 17, 2010

A few months ago I went off on Lt. Colonel Terrence Lakin.  Lakin is an Army doctor who refused to deploy to Afghanistan because he believes that President Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is nto qualified to be his Commander in Chief.  Turns out he pleaded guilty to disobeying orders and was sentenced to six months in jail plus dismissal from the Army.

Lakin’s attorney said he was influenced by a civilian lawyer and asked for the mercy of the court.  Lakin was less than three years from reaching full pension retirement.  Barring overturn by appeal, Lakin’s “compassionate and patriotic but also naive” action is going to cost him his entire career.

Posted in News, Politics | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

They’ve Finally Done It

Posted by Brett Kincaid on December 15, 2010

Congress finally made my head explode.  No, it’s not the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate (It’s 2010; does anyone really think there are not gays/lesbians in the armed services?)  No, it’s not the tedious tax debate that gives enormous tax relief to really, really, really rich folks forcing us to borrow more money from China.  No, it’s not the ridiculously partisan rhetoric coming from both sides.

It’s this.  Running out of things to day, the U.S. House decided today would be a great day to honor Scam Newton.

 

H RES 1761 2/3 YEA-AND-NAY      15-Dec-2010      3:08 PM
QUESTION: On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Agree
BILL TITLE: Congratulating Auburn University quarterback and College Park, Georgia, native Cameron Newton on winning the 2010 Heisman Trophy for being the most outstanding college football player in the United States

Of course it passed easily, 378-15 with 18 “Present” votes and 22 abstentions.

I urge you all to write the 15 Nays and thank them for their service to this country.  And this is as bipartisan as it gets.  Eight Republican lawmakers and 7 Democrats voted against the measure.

Arkansas’s Congressmen Boozman, Snyder, and Ross all voted for it.  Congressman Berry at least had the good sense to abstain.

Posted in Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »

You’re unemployed? Tough Sh#!

Posted by Brett Kincaid on November 30, 2010

Congress once again failed.  That is hardly news these days, but it’s of great consequence to the two million Americans who just lost their unemployment benefits.  Congress failed to extend the emergency unemployment insurance program (UI) as it expires today.  There is no sign that any 11th hour save is on the way.

An estimated fourteen million people are either unemployed or underemployed in the United States.  The elimination of these funds means the long-term unemployed will no longer have the money they need to buy things.  What does that mean?  That means less money circulating in the economy.  What does that mean?  The family that needs transmission work done on their lone vehicle may not have the money now to get that done, meaning the local mechanic loses business.  (Obviously just one possibility.  They are endless, though.)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities breaks it down a little further:

Without federal emergency unemployment insurance, unemployed workers and their families will have to cut back even more than they already have. That means they’ll buy less and the local businesses where they shop and their suppliers will have less incentive to create jobs.

For every job opening their are 5 people looking for a job.  These folks on UI are not there because they are lazy.  It’s not their fault a bunch of millionaires and billionaires brought down the global economy by making ridiculous bets on ridiculous mortgage-backed securities.  Those guys on Wall Street got saved, but conservatives are hell-bent on cutting off any meager funding to the blue-collar workers that pay the price.

Since World War II, our country has never eliminated this emergency program while the national unemployment rate is higher than 7.2 percent.  Never.  The current unemployment rate nationally is 9.6 percent, and even the most optimistic of economists believe that rate will stay at 9.0% or more over the coming year.

The total cost of a one-year etension of these benefits?  Roughly $50B

The total cost of ta breaks for the wealthiest 5% of earners in the country — the bulk of that going to those that created the economic crisis?  Almost $1T over 10 years, accounting for the interest that debt will accrue during that time.  Yup, the tax breaks for those top earners will be paid for by borrowing money from other countries.

Posted in Commentary, Politics | Tagged: , , | 12 Comments »

I love the Internet.

Posted by Brett Kincaid on November 22, 2010

Thank you to the Arkansas Times for this beautiful nugget of conspiracy from Jonesboro, my hometown-in-law.  Debbie Pelley has been ranting and raving about the U.N. takeover of America for years, but this one may be the most entertaining.  There is no way this is not in the Top 10 Best Stories from People with Too Many Cats Who Watch Fox News All Day.

This is a mere sample of her crazy buffet:

We were just flabbergasted that they had been so brainwashed that they could be this open and honest about what they intended to do. Up to this point we had just been trying to get information.  At that point I started making some comments about what they were really doing in the hope of causing some of the people there realize what was happening. There were probably about 20 to 25 people there.

What dastardly Big Brother plan could get this crowd so pumped up?  Abortion?  Health Care?  Property Rights?

Nope…. Bike Trails

 

Posted in Commentary, Politics | 5 Comments »

An Analysis of One Tea Party Defeat

Posted by Jeff on November 19, 2010

Lisa Murkowski

John P. Avlon has a pretty good analysis of what Lisa Murkowski’s defeat of Tea partier, Joe Miller means. It teases how it affects Sarah Palin but it’s actually a nice overall analysis.  I would have added that such was Alaska’s conservative desire to pull for the centrist that they all took the time to actually write her name on their ballot.  Going to a closed primary is one thing. Taking the time to do this is quite meaningful.

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on An Analysis of One Tea Party Defeat

Roger Ailes: Money Cannot Buy Sanity

Posted by Brett Kincaid on November 18, 2010

For those of you that do not know, Roger Ailes is the Republican advisor-turned-Fox News Chairman that now demonizes anything that is not neo-conservative in nature.  I’ve always thought of him as a buffoon, but a buffoon that knows that the hell he is doing.  His success is impossible to deny.

But in his latest interview, it appears the Bush crony has gone all Tom Cruise on us.  Speaking about NPR:

“They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude,” Ailes said of NPR. “They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don’t want any other point of view. They don’t even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda. They are basically Air America with government funding to keep them alive.”

I did not realize the NPR folks were arresting all conservatives, forcing them into prison camps, and systematically killing them for the treasonous offense of … you know … being born.

 

 

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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