Archive for December, 2010

GOP turns its back on patriotic and productive illegal immigrants

One of the more detrimental features of the current Republican Party is its indulgence of the stubborn nativism that characterizes its base. That was on full display last night, when only eight Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for the DREAM Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who have demonstrated ambition, good character and talent.
The DREAM Act is no massive plan for “amnesty;” it is narrowly tailored to young folk who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. They would be eligible for citizenship only if they served in the military for two years or finished two years of college. They would join the ranks of patriotic and productive Americans.
Michael Gerson, chief speechwriter for George W. Bush, had called on Republicans in Congress to support the bill:

It would be difficult to define a more sympathetic group of potential Americans. They must demonstrate that they are law-abiding and education-oriented. Some …

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What happens to workers when jobs leave for good?

WASHINGTON — Over the last year, out-of-work Americans, already down on their luck, have had to endure a barrage of unsympathetic, even mean-spirited, criticism from several of their elected representatives. Many Republicans, especially, have portrayed the jobless as either shiftless deadbeats too lazy to look for work or pompous failures too proud to take a job beneath their social standing.

Neither analysis is an accurate reflection of the desolate landscape in which many American workers find themselves. Surely those Republicans know that the unemployment rate has been stuck near ten percent for a year and a half; there are about five applicants for every job opening.

And, as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said recently on “60 Minutes,” we’re unlikely to see a flush economy for several more years. That’s because the recent recession, brought on by Wall Street excesses, isn’t the only culprit.

For decades now, globalization and technology have been grinding away at …

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Elizabeth Edwards’ amazing grace

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CNN is reporting that Elizabeth Edwards has died:

Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, died Tuesday after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 61
She died at the family home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, according to a statement released by the family.
“Today we have lost the comfort of Elizabeth’s presence but she remains the heart of this family,” the statement said. “We love her and will never know anyone more inspiring or full of life.”
Edwards was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after her husband lost his bid for vice president in November 2004. John Edwards, a one-term Democratic senator, was Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s running mate.

Her death is tragic. She leaves two young children, 12-year-old  Emma Claire and 10-year-old Jack, born after she endured fertility treatments. She wanted to “bring happiness back” to her household after the awful death of her teen-aged son, Wade, in a …

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Rich get their tax cuts, so let the jobs start raining down!

Okay. Let the jobs start raining down.
Republicans have insisted that keeping tax rates low for the wealthiest Americans will rejuvenate the economy, jump-start job creation and inspire us all to start singing, “Happy Days Are Here Again.”
There is absolutely no evidence for that, of course. The Bush tax cuts have been in effect for a decade. That decade happened to be one of the worst for job creation since World War II. As many economists have noted, the period from 2000-2008 was a “lost decade” when no — NO — net jobs were created:

The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation’s growth.

It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism — there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the …

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OMG! What if the wealthy have to pay more . . .

Oh, the horror!
Apparently, something akin to panic has set in among the richest Americans, who are contemplating the possibility (although it seems increasingly remote) that they may be asked to make a small financial sacrifice to restore fiscal health to the nation that has given them so much. That’s right: Many among the wealthy are anxiously eyeing news from Washington about a possible tax increase.
That proposal hasn’t been debated anywhere with more fear than on Wall Street, home to some of the nation’s wealthiest and greediest capitalists. From the NYT:

Worried that lawmakers will allow taxes to rise for the wealthiest Americans beginning next year, financial firms are discussing whether to move up their bonus payouts from next year to this month.

At stake is a portion of the hefty annual payouts that are a familiar part of the compensation culture on Wall Street, as well as a juicy target of popular anger. If Congress does not extend the Bush-era tax cuts for the …

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John McCain, it’s not your daddy’s Navy. Or yours

WASHINGTON — Familiarity breeds contempt — or so goes the old maxim. But there is a more likely consequence of familiarity: It dissipates fear.

Once you have come to know a few Muslims or Mexican immigrants or gays and lesbians  — working at the next desk or living next door — you are less likely to harbor exaggerated anxieties about who they are and how different they are from regular folks. If you see your Muslim neighbors out raking the leaves or cleaning the gutters, you come to accept them as, well, neighbors.

A similar transformation has taken place among the men and women serving in the nation’s Armed Forces.  An institution that skews younger than the civilian workforce, its enlisted ranks, especially, have grown up watching openly-gay actors Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris and observing the slow but steady acceptance of gay friends, acquaintances and family members who come out of the closet. They harbor few misplaced fears about ending the hypocritical “don’t …

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GOP: Will no one rid us of this troublesome Palin?

Sarah Palin is a serious problem for the Republican Party. She is making several moves that suggest she will seek the presidency in 2012, even though it’s quite unlikely she could win a general election.

He negatives her high. Nearly half of Americans have an unfavorable view of her; only 22 percent view her favorably. Furthermore, the vast majority don’t believe she is electable. Though she recently told Barbara Walters she would defeat President Barack Obama in a head-to-head matchup, most Americans disagree. Sixty percent don’t think she would win.

But Palin has an adoring base that would make her queen for life if possible. She attracts huge crowds; she raises enormous amounts of money; she has resurrected candidates from the dead and turned them into winners. All that suggests that she could win the GOP presidential primary in 2012, especially in a very crowded field.

Rational Republicans have taken a look at that dynamic and begun to fret. And, suddenly, many are …

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Republicans and their worship of the rich

Well, that didn’t take long.
Just a day after the so-called “Slurpee Summit,” when President Obama and Republican leaders pledged to make a new start at bipartisan cooperation, the GOP went back to its old tactics — my way or the highway.
Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to the White House informing the administration that Republicans would block action on every single initiative until they get their way on taxes. And they can do that despite Democratic control of the Senate by a narrow margin.
The GOP has perfected use of the filibuster — or even threats to filibuster. Without the 60 votes needed to “invoke cloture” — or bring pressing matters to a vote — McConnell and his caucus can thwart votes on ending DADT, extending unemployment benefits and anything else. And that’s just what they are prepared to do: (h/t TPM)

“[W]e write to inform you that we will not agree to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to any legislative item until the …

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GOPer says consumer spending doesn’t create jobs. What planet is he from?

Yesterday, unemployment benefits expired for approximately 2.5 million jobless Americans, including about 25,000 in Georgia. Republicans have offered all sorts of excuses for their refusal to extend benefits — suggesting that the unemployed are too lazy to get a job or insisting that the benefits be paid for (unlike the invasion of Iraq or tax cuts for the rich).

But perhaps the most ridiculous argument for denying unemployment benefits came from U.S. Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) yesterday on MSNBC. In an interview with Mike Barnacle that approached farce, Shadegg shows that he failed junior high school economics. He insists that unemployment benefits don’t boost the economic because jobless workers save them. (h/t ThinkProgress)

He also claims that spending money doesn’t drive the economy. What planet does this guy live on? For at least 15 years, 70 percent of economic activity in the U.S. has come from consumer spending. (That’s one of our economic problems — we’re spenders, not …

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Obama, don’t cave in on tax cuts

WASHINGTON — On Monday, President Obama defied the Democratic base to announce a two-year freeze on salaries for most civilian federal employees. Because the freeze would trim the salaries on which future pay hikes will be based, it would save an estimated $60 billion over the next ten years.

While the gesture is largely symbolic — it makes barely a dent in the deficit — it shows, once again, Obama’s willingness to compromise. (Since Congress sets federal salaries, it would have to approve the move.) The salary freeze was originally proposed by Republicans.

So does the pay freeze smooth the way for bi-partisan cooperation? Will it oblige Republicans to adopt a Democratic idea or two? Are you kidding?

Once again, the president earns few plaudits from the loyal opposition. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called it a “welcome step,” but other Republicans griped that Obama had failed to notify them of the freeze in advance, depriving them of the opportunity to take credit, according to …

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