Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Last week, the New York Times published a widely discussed article updating an argument that progressive bloggers noticed a very long time ago. It's now well-understood that blue states generally export money to the federal government; and red states generally import it.
TPM published a great map showing exactly how this redistribution works:
Progressives believe in the redistribution of wealth, so we're not usually too upset by this state of affairs. That’s what it means to be one country. E pluribus unum, and all that. We’re happy to help, because we think we’ve got a stake in making sure kids in rural Alabama get educations and seniors in Arizona get healthcare. What’s good for them is good for all of us. We also like to think they’d help us out if our positions were reversed. It’s an investment in making America stronger, and we feel fine about that.
But maybe it's time to admit that we're being played for chumps, and that there are people in the rest of the country who are taking way too much advantage of our good nature. After all: it's now a stone fact that the blue states and cities are the country's real wealth creators. That's why we pay more taxes, and are able to send that money to the red states in the first place. We're working our butts off, being economically productive, going to college, raising good kids, supporting reality-based schools, keeping our marriages together, tending to our busy and diverse cities, and generally Playing By The Rules. And the fates have smiled on us in rough proportion to the degree that we’ve invested in our own common good.
So we've got every right to get good and angry about the fact that, by and large, the people who are getting our money are so damned ungrateful -- not to mention so ridiculously eager to spend it on stuff we don't approve of. We didn't ship them our hard-earned tax dollars to see them squandered on worse-than-useless abstinence-only education, textbooks that teach creationism, crisis-pregnancy misinformation centers, subsidies for GMO crops and oil companies, and so on. And we sure as hell didn't expect to be rewarded for our productivity and generosity with a rising tide of spittle-flecked insanity about how we’re just a bunch of immoral, godless, drug-soaked, sex-crazed, evil America-hating traitors who can’t wait to hand the country over to the Islamists and the Communists.
Ironically, the conservative movement's favorite philosopher had some very insightful things to say about this exact situation. Ayn Rand's novels divided the world into two groups. On one hand, she lionized "producers" -- noble, intelligent Übermenschen whose faith in their own ideas and willingness to take risks to achieve their dreams drives everything else in society. And she called out the evil of "parasites," the dull, unimaginative masses who attach themselves to producers and drain away their resources and thwart their dreams.
Conservatives love this story. They're eager to claim the gleaming mantle of the producers, insisting loudly that their tax money is going to support people (mostly in blue states and cities, it's darkly implied) who won't or can't work as hard as they do. If you want to arouse their class and race resentments, there are few narratives that can get them rolling like this producers-versus-parasites tale.But the NYT story and that map up there prove beyond arguing that the conservative interpretation of events is 100 percent, 180-degrees, flat-out wrong. America's real producer class is overwhelmingly concentrated in the blue cities and states -- the regions full of smart, talented people who've harnessed technology and intellect to money, and made these regions the best, most forward-looking places in the country to live.
Happy Leap Day! Don’t forget to set your calendars back 24 hours. This is a day that only happens every four years, and by that, I don’t mean a good day for Mitt Romney. Because, let’s face it, it’s not that good of a day for Mitt Romney. The only thing less impressive than Mitt Romney’s victory last night is the quality of his opponent. Hey, Mitt, you won Michigan! Whew! Now that that’s over, you can drag out that BMW that you’ve been hiding in the garage.
Oddly, Mitt didn’t mention the height of the trees during his victory speech. But I can’t wait to find out what lines he has ready for the Super Tuesday states: “I love Tennessee! All your varmints are just the right size.” Mitt said “We didn’t win by a lot, but we won by enough. And that’s all that counts.” Well, Mitt, you won by enough to win, but not by enough to be considered a winner. Meanwhile, Rick Santorum told his crowd, “a month ago they didn’t know who we are. They do now.” Yeah, Rick. That’s why you didn’t win. If Rick Santorum had gone into hiding for the past week, he probably would have won Michigan.
Yesterday, Mitt Romney said he’s not willing to “set his hair on fire” to excite the base. Mitt, so far you’ve been willing to lie, cheat, steal, and abandon every belief you ever held to excite the base. At this point, setting fire to your hair would be one of the less disgusting things you’ve done. Of all people to talk about setting your hair on fire! If you look up the word “pander” in the dictionary, you see a picture of Mitt Romney... with his hair on fire.
I think Rick Santorum might be trying to walk back some of his “college is bad” comments. Who in the Rick Santorum campaign came up with that whole “college is for snobs” approach? You know it was somebody with a degree in political science and a masters in public relations. Rick is also backing away from his “throw up” comments. Rick said “I wish I had that particular line back.” Sorry, Rick. You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube, and you can’t put vomit back where it came from... unless you’re a dog.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Showing the GOP wannabes how's it done - President Obama brought down the house yesterday addressing the United Auto Workers...
Denuded of their deception as they have never been, the GOP clearly demonstrates its unique fixation for crafting reality in its own image, creating a justification for its Dark Age vision for the world, whether by building a mythical afterlife to stave off the terror of eternal nothingness or a fictional president who is the embodiment of all populist social ills.
They've been, as Twain's Puddin'head Wilson might have said, "boiled down to the small". They are reduced to their basic essences: warring, biting, sniping. That's what they've always done best. And with their potency at an all time low, their tricks spent, their gilt peeling and flaking they are, thankfully, almost over.
Take this Santorum fella: as extreme and cartoonish and intellectually at sea as any public figure has ever been, a craven demagogue who would gladly squeeze the nation into a one-size-fits-all chastity belt of an ideology, a mad throwback to a time when barbers drilled holes in skulls to release foul humors and church elders shackled non-believers in the town square.
Empowered by a lone billionaire, held aloft by the fathomless faith of the superstitious and embracing a pathological Right Wing need to win at all costs, this Santorum person is only the most current spokesperson for current GOP core values. Every balless utterance, every callous flip-flop, every declaration from him and his ilk that erupts from their slits is an attack on Democracy, an attack on sense. He is but one of a cadre of treacherous firebrands professing to care but acting carelessly and all will bring the Republican party ever closer to its demise as a meaningful exponent of the democratic process, doomed by its own desperation.
But the time for such thoughts and deeds in the American story is over. They have proven finally to be an impediment to the very thing the quasi-conservatives fear most but can never stop: evolution. They fear it precisely because they know in their marrow that their days are numbered, that they are obsolete, that their own bad, bad behavior is resulting in their being bred out.
That we let these clowns anywhere near our beloved traditions and institutions is proof alone that the guards of Democracy had been bribed or eliminated entirely: the Tea Party-backed boobs who swept into governor's mansions and who will just as surely be swept back out; the media, so corrupted, so raped by corporations to the point where they barely mete out their basic responsibility -- to inform the masses -- but which has instead assumed the role of immoral/moralizing carny barker, churning out falsehoods and fetishes, reflections of its own shame and inadequacy; the religious leaders who mock the teachings of Christ every time they attack the meek and side against the disenfranchised, who shame the millions who took comfort in messages of love only to have those messages betrayed by pretenders shielded by collars and robes and money; the bloated bullies who shouted down citizens who righteously dared confront their bald power-grabs; the unholy tryst with the military industrial complex which bloats our budget and damns our soldiers to being pawns in an oil baron's game.
Regularly, some sample of Right Wing corporate corrosion makes its presence felt, derailing discourse and otherwise fucking up everyone's day. They've turned the spigot on and let the toxins flow. And it all comes to a head in November.
Follow Steven Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TheStevenWeber
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
It’s Election Day in Michigan and Arizona. Be sure to go out and vote for the candidate you prefer. Or, if you’re a Democrat in Michigan, for the candidate you prefer to run against. Michigan has an open primary, and Rick Santorum’s campaign is openly encouraging Democrats to vote for him. What’s the slogan for that strategy? “Reelect Obama—Vote Santorum!” All Santorum has to do is convince Democrats that he has the best shot at losing to President Obama in the general election. But Mitt Romney is making that a very close call.
The Santorum campaign is placing robo-calls to Democratic voters. The Santorum calls to Democrats say that Romney “supported the bailout for his Wall Street billionaire buddies, but opposed the auto bailout.” Rick! If you convince Democrats that Romney is terrible, they’re going to vote for him. You have to convince them that you are worse! The ad should say “Democrats! Rick Santorum thinks Satan is targeting America and that nobody should go to college. How’d you like to run against that loser? Paid for by Rick Santorum for President.” I think relatively few Democrats will bother to go out and vote for Santorum. Democrats don’t like voting for losers, even when it’s in their best interest.
Alternet has compiled a handy list of vomit-inducing speeches by Rick Santorum. Rick has given so many speeches that induce vomiting that a warning about him should be listed on containers of hazardous household chemicals. “If swallowed, do not listen to Rick Santorum.”
A new poll shows that Rush Limbaugh is America’s most disliked “news personality.” How can that be? He has nothing to do with the news, and he has no personality. Still, 46 percent of people chose Rush as one of their least favorite news personalities. The fact that it was only 46 percent tells you just how many unlikeable news personalities are out there.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
President Snobby-Pants doubled down yesterday...
Monday, February 27, 2012
Rick Santorum has been saying that seeing John F Kennedy’s classic 1960 address on the role of religion in public life made him want to “throw up.” Wow. This is a guy who evidently isn’t nauseated by cuddling a dead fetus. Rick, I think there may be something wrong with your gag reflex. You should go see a gastroenterologist. Here’s the JFK line Rick found so sickening: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.” Sorry, Rick, but for most people, that statement actually has a calming effect on the stomach. They should read it to people who get carsick instead of giving them Dramamine. Yesterday, Rick Santorum doubled down on his comments about throwing up. (How do you double down on throwing up? Isn’t that the dry heaves?) Rick said “To say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes you throw up.” Rick, JFK didn’t say people of faith had no role in the public square. He was just reassuring people that he wouldn’t allow the public square to become St. Peter’s Square.
Rick also says that President Obama is a “snob” for wanting every American child to be able to go to college. Uh, Rick, snobbery is about keeping people down, not trying to give them a hand up. For the record, Rick Santorum has three college degrees, including an MBA and a law degree. But he doesn’t want you getting that kind of education... because he’s no snob.
Mitt Romney went to the Dayton 500 NASCAR race this weekend to prove he’s just a regular guy... which is usually the type of situation where he proves the exact opposite. Sure enough, Mitt said “I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.” Oh, Mitt! Just give it up! You should go around everywhere in a top hat and tails, asking people to pass the Grey Poupon. Mitt is really good at reminding people that he is just one of the guys… if by “guys” you mean the Koch brothers.
An the big Oscar winner last night was “The Artist,” a black and white, silent movie. This is one time in Hollywood that everyone probably won’t be rushing out to imitate success. Too bad—I think that about half the movies I see every year would be better it they were silent.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
At the risk of inducing Rick Santorum to vomit...
Sunday, February 26, 2012
In just a matter of a few days, gasoline prices have become a major worry for people pondering what might drag down the U.S. economy.
Given where we are in the year, prices are unusually high. And if trends hold, then the national average will be well over the $4 freakout point sometime this summer.
But whenever the discussion turns to gas and oil, logic tends to die, and people start coming up with all kinds of bizarre explanations for what's going on -- explanations such as the Bernanke's money printing, Obama's domestic energy policy, Obama's foreign policy, speculators, price gougers, and so on.
So we thought it would be a good time to just clear up some misconceptions, and explain what's really driving the price.
Of course, you can't start a discussion about gasoline without talking about oil. So let's begin there.
You may have heard that the price of a barrel of oil is around $109, but actually that's the US domestic West Texas Intermediate price of oil. A better international benchmark is probably Brent Crude, and that's now well over $120/barrel, having surged all year.
So what explains the sudden rise in oil? Well, basically, good old supply and demand.
In a note that went out this week, BarCap's Miswin Mahesh and Amrita Sen explain how the oil picture seems to have changed dramatically in just the first several weeks of the year:
At the start of the year, the average call on OPEC crude for Q1 was 29.7 mb/d, while OPEC production was comfortably higher at 31 mb/d. A seriously warm winter and a series of extremely weak OECD demand indications paved for further downgrades to demand and demand expectations. This should have then allowed for the almost barren inventories to fill and provide somewhat of a cushion to tightening fundamentals in the second half of the year.
Yet, the year so far has evolved differently in a significant way. Despite what looked like a rather well-supplied prompt market, the weakness in time spreads has abated. While the spate of cold weather in Europe has helped to normalise balances, in our view, it has really been the uptick in Asian oil demand that has helped to absorb the extra OPEC volumes. Indeed, we believe that Asian and FSU oil demand are growing at a faster pace than markets are currently pricing in. While US and European demand remains very weak, and as a result, the overall state of global oil demand may be nothing to write home about, equally, it is not declining, contrary to market expectations.
Further, while OPEC may be producing close to 31 mb/d, the high level of supply losses on the non-OPEC front have intensified. Output from Sudan, Syria and Yemen at a combined total of almost 1.2 mb/d has been compromised, while non-geopolitically based outages in the form of technical issues are also on the rise. As a result, while the extra OPEC volumes would have otherwise been a surplus at the margin, it has now become a necessity to simply maintain the status quo.
They go on to make a key observation about the global economy that you should probably remember for years to come ...
The problem with judging the global pace of oil demand growth is that the epicentre of that growth has most definitely moved away from the US to Asia, and China in particular. Yet, due to the lack of prompt alternatives, the more readily available oil data from the US is still used as a global guide to the health of the oil markets.
A series of charts back up their point.
Global demand growth has, in fact, turned positive year-on-year.
Non-OPEC output has been collapsing:
Even in non-geopolitical hotspots, a host of technical issues in Australia, Canada, Norway, and the U.K. have hit supply all at the same time.
Meanwhile, OPEC producers have very little slack these days.
Finally, one last chart, inventories have become increasingly scarce.
So you should get the idea, but here are the key points from above:
- Demand is booming in Asia and the Former Soviet Union, offsetting mediocre demand in the U.S. and Europe.
- Inventories are low.
- Supply has been hit in several countries due to geopolitical and technical problems.
- To some extent, all of the above has been a modest surprise to the market, at least as compared to official predictions.
Add in some kind of "fear" premium due to a possible war with Iran, and it's just not that hard to see why the price of a barrel of oil has surged like this.
Now it's worth taking a moment to emphasize that this is an oil story, and not just a mere commodity story.
So for example, here's a look at copper prices. They've been up in 2012, but are still nowhere near where they were in the middle of last year.
Here's the overall CRB index, which measures commodities. Again, it's ticked up a bit this year, but the basket is still WAY off its highs from last year.
This would strongly suggest that frequently-heard explanations for the oil rally like "currency debasement" or "inflation" or "the Fed" or "the weak dollar" or "speculators" just don't fly, since you'd expect to see a similar flight-to-real-assets in places that aren't oil. Alas, you're not seeing that. Again, this is an oil story.
Oil is just part of it though: There's also the matter of turning oil into gasoline.
It turns out, the U.S. is experiencing a bottleneck at the oil refining stage.
On February 23, Bloomberg reported that the U.S. had lost 5 percent of its refining capacity in just the last 3 months.
Over the past year, refineries have faced a classic margin squeeze. Prices for Brent crude have gone up, but demand for gasoline in the U.S. is at a 15-year low. That means refineries haven’t been able to pass on the higher prices to their customers.
As a result, companies have chosen to shut down a handful of large refineries rather than continue to lose money on them. Since December, the U.S. has lost about 4 percent of its refining capacity, says Fadel Gheit, a senior oil and gas analyst for Oppenheimer. That month, two large refineries outside Philadelphia shut down: Sunoco’s plant in Marcus Hook, Pa., and a ConocoPhillips plant in nearby Trainer, Pa. Together they accounted for about 20 percent of all gasoline produced in the Northeast.
The article goes on to note the bifurcation of the U.S. refining industry: East coast refineries that have been refining Brent Crude have gotten squeezed, and have been taken offline, whereas the Midwestern refineries that process cheaper, WTI oil have done okay.
That explains this map, which shows the dramatic divergence between the price of gasoline on the coasts, and the price in the Midwest.
For some more perspective on this issue, check out this chart from Citi's Steven C. Wieting:
The U.S. refining industry is essentially dealing with a Katrina-like hit to capacity utilization ... this time all thanks to economics.
So there are two stories going on simultaneously.
There's the oil story, with its robust global demand and supply disruptions, and the U.S. domestic gasoline story, which is related to a bottleneck in refining capacity.
Add the two together, and voila, you have your gas price surge.
Here's an interesting comment from a Goldman energy report from the 22nd:
Does robust US “shale” oil growth change our constructive oil macro view?
The short answer is a firm “no.” To be sure, we are quite optimistic on the growth potential from key unconventional oil plays like the Bakken (ND), Eagle Ford (TX), Permian Basin (TX), and California and the positive impact on overall US liquids supply. We now forecast US liquids production (crude oil plus natural gas liquids [NGLs]) will grow on average at 4% per year rate through 2015—as
recently as 2-3 years ago, we would have forecast 2%-3% per year secular declines in overall US liquids production.
Think about that: If the forecast has gone from a 2-3 percent/year decline in production to an expectation of A 4 percent/year increase in production, it's impossible to say that the present conditions of the U.S. energy industry are somehow net bullish for the price of oil. If anything, the U.S. story is mitigating the oil price rise.
Meanwhile, employment in oil and gas extraction is hitting levels not seen since the early '90s.
Bottom line: The rise in gas prices sure is the result of global supply and demand, plus some unique U.S. circumstances.
Politicians, The Fed, speculators, and greedy corporations are hereby absolved.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Warning: The language and content may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.
Who knew that professional cynic Bill Maher was such a starry-eyed idealist?
Maher won’t admit as much, but no other explanation accounts for his surprise announcement Thursday night that he’s donating $1 million of his hard-earned money to Priorities USA Action, the awkwardly named super PAC supporting President Obama’s reelection campaign.
“No, I think it’s practical,” the comedian told me Friday afternoon when I accused him of being a political romantic. “The difference between a country governed by Obama and one governed by Rick Santorum is worth a million dollars to me. Not just because I think the country would be better, but because I think it would actually better protect the money I have left.”
The sharp-tongued satirist, host of HBO’s hit Friday night show Real Time With Bill Maher, revealed his eye-popping donation at the end of his standup routine at the Silicon Valley headquarters of Yahoo.
“I think Mitt Romney’s going to get the [Republican] nomination, and then I hope Obama beats him like a runaway sister-wife,” Maher told the crowd as a giant check was brought onstage. “If I had one bit of advice for our president, it would be stop trying to get everyone to like you. It’s never gonna happen. About half the country wouldn’t vote for you if you personally saved them from drowning.”
Maher added another piece of advice for history’s first black president: “Grow your hair out. That alone would change America.”
The 56-year-old Maher, who is rich but by no means super-rich, told me he decided to become the Sheldon Adelson of the Obama campaign after attending several Grammy Awards parties a couple of weekends ago and despairing of the naivete of his fellow Hollywood liberals.
“All the liberals were saying it’s in the bag for Obama—I guess because all the Republicans were making such fools of themselves and the economy was turning around, and because, very often, liberals don’t pay that much attention to politics. And I was telling them, no, it’s definitely not in the bag for Obama. He’s being outspent and he’s going to be outspent.”
In order to achieve maximum impact for his gift, Maher kept his intentions a secret from everybody but his money manager. The irony, of course, is that Maher has been a frequent critic of super PACs and Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission, the January 2010 Supreme Court decision that permits unlimited campaign contributions from rich folks and corporations alike to these supposedly independent political action committees.
Republican media consultant Larry McCarthy, who directs the pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future, was quick to lampoon Maher’s donation.
“Bill Maher’s made a fair number of jokes about super PACs,” he told me. “I guess now he gets to add himself to the punch line.” McCarthy added: “I didn’t know he was a supporter of the Citizens United decision.”
Maher responded: “This is what I hate about the Republicans. They know that what they’re saying is bullshit, but they say it anyway because they know that the people who aren’t paying as much attention won’t know it. That, to me, is the ultimate definition of cynicism.”
McCarthy “knows very well that as long as this is the game, we all have to play by the rules. As long as that is the rule of the game, we’re going to play by it and we’re going to try to win… Obama is not going to forego this election on the principle of ‘we don’t believe in the Citizens United ruling.’ No, we don’t, and one of the reasons we want to elect Obama again is because perhaps he’ll get to appoint one or two people to the Supreme Court in the second term and they would overturn Citizens United.”
Maher, who has occasionally been critical of Obama for caving in to Republicans and falling short of his 2008 campaign promises, seems to have changed his views since November, when he told me that a President Romney would probably govern much like Obama—as a non-ideological “problem-solver.”
“I must have been high,” Maher said on Thursday. “I wasn’t really high. What I was trying to say is that Romney’s greatest virtue is that he’s a shape-shifter, so that there’s every possibility that when he got into office he would revert back to the moderate he was. But once you make these kinds of promises all year long, and you’re beholden to the far right wing of your party, I don’t know if that’s possible.”
As for his previous complaints about Obama, “It’s my job, whoever the president is, to hold his feet to the fire,” he said. “And I will continue to do that. There are lots of issues I have with the president—mostly on national security. I would rather he have Ron Paul’s foreign policy and brought troops home and cut the defense budget and all that stuff, but part of it is I do think he has gotten better… I really think he’s getting his mojo back.”
He added that after watching the Republicans debate 20 times, “you listen to these people talking about vaginal probes and Satan and zero percent taxes on capital gains and the rest of this nonsense, you run back into the arms of Barack Obama.”
Maher said his million bucks will be in the coffers of Priorities Action USA as early as Monday, and he will keenly feel the hole in his pocket.
“I want to make one key point: This hurts,” he said. “I’m doing this to say to all the rich liberals out there… I’ve got some money, but I don’t have, like, billionaire money—not even close. But if I can do it—if Bill Maher can do this—then a lot of other people can, too.”
It's Friday, ya bastids!
In a speech yesterday, President Obama confronted the problem of rising gasoline prices. Well, most Americans consider rising gas prices to be a problem. Republicans consider them to be a godsend.
Gas prices are up 29 cents a gallon since December. Every penny increases the chance that a Republican can win in November. But with this batch of Republicans, you might need 10-dollar per gallon gas to win. The price of gas is being affected by greedy speculators, who have a lot to gain from manipulating the price... and even more to gain if they can prevent President Obama from winning a second term.
Obama said that Republicans are “dusting off their three-point plans for $2 gas.” That would a gas price from the 1970’s. Ironically, Republicans can set us back by several decades... in everything except gas prices. Newt Gingrich is claiming he has a plan to guarantee gas prices of $2.50 per gallon. Newt, if you’re that good at moving numbers around, how come you can’t get your polling numbers into double digits?
Rick Santorum says that a college or university education is “secular indoctrination.” Rick has a BA in political science, an MBA, and a law degree. That makes him one of the most indoctrinated people in America. Rick, why do you think that kids can be “indoctrinated” by college? You managed to get several college degrees without it seeming to affect you in any way whatsoever. Somehow, Rick managed to sit through all those university courses without letting it affect his mind. It’s almost like he was attending college as a spy for the ignorant people. It’s “Rick Santorum: Undercover Scholar”! I wonder if undercover Rick ever came close to getting caught in college in the 70’s—“Rick, is that a crucifix under your sweater vest?” “No! It’s a coke spoon on a chain, honest! I gotta go!”
Unlike Rick, I have no hatred for American colleges. I do have one problem with them, however—how can they possibly let someone like Rick Santorum graduate?
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Mittens should really just keep his yap shut - earlier today he professed his love for Michigan by doubling down on right-sized trees and the 'couple of Cadillacs' his wife drives...
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Yesterday I said how much I missed the Republican debates. And about a minute into last night’s debate, l I remembered how much all of these people annoy me. Hmmm... maybe that’s the only reason I missed them. It was like going through a two-hour root canal—from four different dentists who are all incompetent jerks.
Debates are where Newt usually stands out... just like a pimple stands out in a certain light. Last night Newt crowed that “Not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide.” I’ll tell you why they didn’t ask—because it never happened. The vote Barack Obama cast back in Illinois no more legalized infanticide than the healthcare reform act legalized euthanasia. Oh, that’s right—you claim that that happened too. And another thing—the media did not ignore the issue. Obama’s vote was covered by many media outlets, including CNN. The facts are out there if you want them, Newt. But then, the facts are the last thing you want.
Everyone wanted to pile on Rick Santorum. And that is an uncomfortably gay image for Rick Santorum to have to mentally deal with. The other candidates tried to portray Rick Santorum as a big spender. That’s not easy to do when there are other guys on the stage who own five homes, or have had a half million dollar line of credit at Tiffany’s. At one point, Ron Paul called Rick Santorum a “fake.” Rick said “I’m real. I’m real.” That’s certainly true... it’s the scariest thing about Rick Santorum.
A lot of statistics over the last few months have indicated that we’ve finally turned the corner on providing jobs. But the number one statistic that tells you we’re beating unemployment is this number—at last night’s GOP debate, Rick Santorum mentioned jobs zero times. Hardly anybody talked about jobs last night. That, more than anything else, tells you that the jobs are out there.
Overall, it seemed boring and pointless, and full of people you don’t really want to hear talking. It was just like any other night on CNN.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
There’s a Republican candidate debate tonight—finally. Boy, there’s something I never thought I’d say. After suffering from debate overload a few weeks ago, I find I kind of miss them. I’ve gone a month without hearing Newt Gingrich say the phrase “food stamp president.” The last debate was way back on January 26 in Florida. Newt Gingrich was riding high, and “Santorum” was just a dirty word on Google. Now Santorum is in the lead. If you remember, under the naughty definition of “Santorum,” Santorum was always in the rear.
A video has surfaced of Rick Santorum saying that Satan himself is systematically destroying America. Rick said “The Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on... America!” The term “Father of Lies” is another name for Satan, in case you wondered why he was talking about Frank Luntz. Rick asked his audience “If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age?” I don’t know, Rick. Unlike you, I’m not that good at putting myself in Satan’s shoes, or Satan’s hooves, as the case may be. Why would a guy like Rick Santorum think that Satan was destroying America? The alternative is for him to realize that it’s idiots like him who are destroying America. The Santorum speech about Satan is being heavily pushed by the Drudge Report, which supports Mitt Romney. I’m sure that now Rick Santorum thinks Matt Drudge is in league with Satan. Well there, Rick—you and I may have found some common ground!
When pressed about whether Satan is attacking America, Santorum said “These are questions that are not relevant to what’s being discussed in America today.” Um, OK... you’re saying that Satan is attacking America... but we have bigger problems?! Great. Now Rick Santorum is saying “Yes, the Lord of Darkness is devouring America. But let’s talk about jobs.” We may end up burning forever in a lake of fire, but first, let’s get unemployment under 8 percent.
With all this Satan talk, Rick Santorum looks like the craziest person in the world. And that’s not good for the other candidates, because the Republican base is looking for the craziest person in the world.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Buddy Guy managed to goad President Obama into belting out a few bars of of 'Sweet Home Chicago' last night at the White House...
Thom Hartmann: Why do Republicans let sick Americans die just to avoid a legislative victory for President Obama?
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Yesterday, Rick Santorum said that liberals are “the anti-science ones” because they won’t use technology to its limits to exploit the wealth that can be obtained from the Earth. What science is that—the science of bio-finance? Rick said that “unlike the Earth, we’re intelligent and we can actually manage things.” Come on, Rick! How do you think the earth survived for 4 and a half billion years before there were any human beings around? Oh, that’s right... you think the Earth has only been here for 6,000 years. Rick thinks mankind has to rush in and save the Earth for its own good. Rick is proposing that we treat the Earth the same way that Mitt Romney and Bain treat the businesses they take over—just extract all the wealth and then get the heck out of there. Of course, the problem when you do that to the Earth is that it’s pretty difficult to abandon Earth after you’ve ruined it. And Earth can’t declare bankruptcy after we’ve drained all the oil and minerals out it.
Santorum was speaking in eastern Ohio, emphasizing his regional heritage as the grandson of a Pennsylvania coalminer. Rick said “we need someone who understands, who comes from the coal fields.” Rick, you don’t come from the coal fields, your grandfather did, two generations ago. There were no sweater-vests in the coal fields. Rick is a lawyer, an unregistered lobbyist, and a Fox News pundit. I’d say he’s pretty safe from contracting black lung disease.
When Rick Santorum is talking about putting man above the Earth, he’s talking the language of Dominionism. Domionists think that people have a God-given right to do whatever they want to do with the Earth. Combine that with the belief that corporations are people, and suddenly corporations are God’s stewards on Earth. A literal interpretation of Genesis plus Citizens United equals people who believe that God created Exxon-Mobile in his own image.
The Republicans are trying to mount a sexual counterrevolution. Of course, they want to do it without “mounting” it. Republicans want to control what we do in our bedrooms. What are they going to do when they find out we do it in other rooms too?
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Meanwhile, Franklin Graham is making sure that Santorum doesn't hog all crazy for himself...
Monday, February 20, 2012
Thom Hartmann: All across Spain workers protested in the streets last weekend, when will we see this in the US?
Friday, February 17, 2012
It's Friday, ya bastids!
Yesterday House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) held a hearing on contraception without any women witnesses. That’s because, to Darrell Issa, women aren’t the witnesses in this proceeding—they’re the defendants. Republicans claimed there were no women witnesses because the hearings weren’t about women’s reproductive health, they were about religious freedom. So you’re saying women have nothing to do with religion? That’s hardly better—just less starkly ironic. Before leaving the hearing in protest, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), asked “Where are the women?” That’s not a question that ever occurs to conservative men... unless they’re at a function where they expect there are going to be strippers.
It’s not just that Darrell Issa would be willing to hold a hearing about contraception that included no women. It’s also that it wouldn’t even occur to him that that might not look so good. Hello! It’s a hearing by the Committee on Oversight! At least try to avoid any major oversights in putting it together! Darrell Issa was right about one thing—this wasn’t a hearing about women’s reproductive health... it was a hearing about undermining women’s reproductive health.
No matter how hard the Republicans in Washington are working at undermining women’s reproductive health, they’re still miles behind the Republicans in statehouses across the country. A law passed by the Virginia legislature requires any woman seeking an abortion to submit to a trans-vaginal ultrasound. If that sounds frightening, that’s exactly the point. Not surprisingly, a “trans-vaginal ultrasound” requires penetration of a woman’s vagina... with an implement that looks like it’s a prop from one of the Star Wars movies. Critics call the law “state-sanctioned rape.” That’s not strictly accurate—it’s actually “state-mandated rape.” At the same time that Virginia is proposing the state-mandated rape bill, another bill defines a fertilized egg as a “person.” Put the two bills together, and in Virginia, a fertilized egg is more of a person than a woman. If Virginia succeeds in essentially stripping all of its female residents of personhood, I suggest that Virginia shouldn’t be allowed to count women residents for purposes of determining the number of Representatives the state gets.
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Meet Sandra Fluke - a third year law student at Georgetown University, a Jesuit school - the woman Rep. Issa refused to hear testimony from yesterday...
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Yesterday Rick Santorum released four years’ worth of his tax returns. To answer your first question, Rick Santorum paid a higher tax rate than Mitt Romney, but then so does everybody this side of crack dealers. Rick made a lot of money, but he’s no Mitt Romney. And you know that he released his tax returns just to prove that he’s no Mitt Romney.
Rush Limbaugh has announced “The vast majority of people having abortions are Democrat voters.” I highly doubt that. Republicans have been making it so difficult to get an abortion in recent years that the only people who can pull it off are rich Republicans. It just seems like more Democratic voters are having abortions because they have to go to the clinics with the screaming Republicans outside. When Republicans want abortions, they go to high-priced, discreet private doctors.
Rush also says that under healthcare reform “If they decide that you can only have two babies, they can do that.” Rush, the only limit we would want would be a zero-child mandate for you personally, and you seem to be doing that voluntarily. This whole birth control debate has really brought out the worst in Rush Limbaugh. But on the other hand, for decades now, birth control has also prevented the worst of Rush Limbaugh from being passed on genetically. Rush has had four marriages, but he has no children. He’s 0-for-4! He’s the Buffalo Bills of egg fertilizing!
I shouldn’t tease Rush for not reproducing. The fact that he hasn’t passed on his flawed genes is the one great gift that he has given to mankind. We should build a statue of him in a heroic pose... pushing an empty baby carriage.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) walked out of a GOP-led hearing on birth control today after they were denied a female wittness on the all-male panel...
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The Bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa has warned that President Obama’s policy on having insurance pay for contraception is the work of “the Devil” and must be "violently opposed" (video below). Evidently Satan wants to relieve the suffering caused by unwanted children and overpopulation. I think he’s slipping.
Rush Limbaugh says the Constitution clearly prohibits having birth control covered by insurance companies. I knew the Founding Fathers were forward thinkers. I had no idea just how forward thinking they were. I wonder what they had to say about digital media, genetic engineering, and satellite technology. Rush goes on to say “If you don’t like the Catholic Church’s view on abortion, if you don’t like their view on contraception, don’t be Catholic.” Of course, you still have to follow their rules on those subjects! Rush says if people don’t agree with the Catholic Church on contraception, “They don’t have to sign up.” Not at all! They’re evidently automatically enrolled! If you want to obey the Catholic Church, you don’t have to sign up with them—all you have to do is live in the United States of America.
Where does all this stupidity come from? It turns out that there’s a scientific explanation. A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science concluded that people with less intelligence tend to be conservative. I’m sure it didn’t offend any of them. None of them would be reading the journal Psychological Science. Next time you have an argument with a conservative, you can tell them that conservatives are less intelligent, and that is just an empirical fact. Well, don’t use the word “empirical.” And talk really slowly. The study that concluded that conservatives are dumb was conducted using rigorous scientific testing methods. But they could have come to the same conclusion by just turning on Fox News.
There are some intelligent Republicans, but if they want to get anywhere in their own party, they have to keep their intelligence hidden. It’s kind of like how Republicans keep gay conservatives confined to the closet. I guess they keep intelligent conservatives confined to the library. And why would a reasonably intelligent person want to be with the Republicans? Well, it guarantees that whenever they’re at a conservative gathering, they’re always the smartest person in the room.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Valentine’s Day is here, and the Republican Party can’t seem to decide who its sweetheart is going to be. They have their choice of four ardent suitors, none of whom really have the qualities they’re looking for. Most recently, there’s been Rick Santorum. He’s exciting and new, but still unknown. He looks so dashing in those sweater vests, but then every once in a while he says something that comes off as just plain weird. I’m afraid there may be some things going on under the surface there.
At least he’s not that awful Mitt Romney! Mitt is the guy their parents want them to marry. He comes from a good family, he’s got oodles of money, and he’s so handsome. So what it is it about this guy that just turns them off so much? Mitt just tries too hard. He actually scares them away when he comes on so strong. Back off a little, Mitt. They want some space. Mitt says all the right things, but somehow he never seems to mean it. I suspect that he doesn’t love the Republican Party for their policies. He just loves the idea of being the one they picked.
Then there’s Ron Paul, the older guy who likes to come off as an outsider. Ron is SOOOO intellectual! He’s always talking philosophy. He doesn’t give a damn what people think! Of course, they know that Ron Paul would be an absolute disaster in an actual relationship. But they flirt with him just because it pisses their parents off.
Of course, Newt Gingrich is the creepy ex who keeps hanging around. They had a thing in the 90’s, and it turned into a nightmare. Then, for some crazy reason, when Newt showed back up last year, they had another little dalliance with him in South Carolina. It didn’t take long to be reminded of just how crazy Newt can be, so they broke it off right away. But Newt doesn’t want to accept that. At this point, Newt doesn’t even want a relationship. He just hates the handsome rich boy Mitt so much that he wants to sabotage his chances.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the state of Washington has legalized gay marriage. Now on a visit to Washington, Rick Santorum called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. For Rick, it was like visiting a disaster area. He was there to promise local homophobes that help was on the way.
Today’s Homework | Discuss
Newt is asked about his Valentine's Day plans - we'll just assume the reporter meant with Callista...