Shake It Out

Two summers ago, I listened to all the French pop I could eat.  This year, I’m going to hear the German alternative top 10.  This is one of them, according to iTunes.de.  Florence and the Machine, Shake it Out.

Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh woaaaah
And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

Very good advice.

The Snark is Strong in this One: Part deux

Charles Pierce must be off his meds because he’s in one of those brilliant manic phases right now.  His lastest post on David Brooks and his Irish setter, Moral Hazard is deadly funny.  And today, he posted his assessment of the Republican budget plan and the Democratic side of the aisle’s response. Basically, the Republicans are doing a Haka, demonstrating just how berserked with battle lust they are so that the other side is completely freaked out.  Judging by the reactions I’m reading, it’s working.  But Charles says it so much better:

Consider the new budget proposed by zombie-eyed granny-starver Paul Ryan. We had our say about it yesterday. So did practically everyone else. It is a blueprint for dystopia beyond anything concocted by Dickens. It is a perfectly fine budget, if you’re planning to recreate the golden age of the industrial slum. It should not be taken seriously by any journalist who is conscious and not a hack. Paul Ryan himself should be shuffled off to the back of the call-back lists wherein reside the UFO enthusiasts and the actual liberals. (This, of course, will never happen. Paul Ryan is a serious man of ideas while Bernie Sanders, say, is “extreme.”) However, it looks like the monkeyhouse is preparing to pass this mess. But I call your attention to one passage in the story.

There are people on the Republican side of the House who believe that a budget that would virtually decimate the federal government’s constitutional obligation to promote the general welfare doesn’t go far enough in making the lives of the nation’s poor as miserable as possible, and doesn’t go far enough in eviscerating the middle class, and doesn’t go far enough in permanently fastening onto the political commonwealth an income inequality incompatible with effective self-government. The passage:

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a conservative member of Ryan’s Budget Committee, said he would vote against the plan, saying it broke the GOP’s “Pledge to America” and did not cut spending deeply enough. Huelskamp voted for the Ryan budget in 2011. “It’s not good enough,” he said during an appearance with six other conservatives at an event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.Huelskamp said he was troubled by a lack of specificity on tax reform and the budget’s failure, in his view, to hold to spending levels that will be lower because of $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts set to take effect next year.The half-dozen other members of the Heritage panel said they were undecided on the budget resolution.Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) criticized the proposal for not cutting spending at the levels promised in the 2010 Pledge to America.“I’m not sure if I’m going to vote for it or not,” Gohmert said. “I appreciate so much the great work of Paul Ryan, but we took a pledge a year and a half ago, and we said we would cut more than is being cut. So that’s my struggle.

These people belong in a cage.

Hypergraphia is my muse but it looks like she has graced Charles with abundance this week.

I’m just taking it all in

All around the left blogosphere, there is a sudden realization.  It’s like, what the hell did we get ourselves into?  There’s panic about the Grand Bargain Obama almost struck last summer, about the imminent death of Medicare, about the austerity measures in Florida.  We in the research industry could have told you all about that.  The idea is to shed as many in-house positions as possible, offshore them or hire people back as contractors, and vastly reduce the employer’s responsibility for health care and other benefits.  By the way, contractors do not have any labor protections and no unemployment insurance.  They sometimes don’t get paid or not in time to pay their own bills.  Your only right is the right to walk away.  It’s cruel and it’s brutal and it’s happening to people who have degrees in STEM fields, do hard, mental work and have ZERO union protections.

This happened on Obama’s watch.

Not Bill Clinton’s watch.

I have to say that I’m a little disappointed with Bruce Dixon’s appraisal of the Obama vs Republicans situation.  For the most part, he is right.  Obama is so far right that it drives Republicans crazy and leaves Democrats no where else to go, theoretically.  There’s always a place to go.  You just might be too chicken to go there.

What pisses me off is the way he dumps all over Bill Clinton- again.  This tendency to blame Clinton parallels what we see on the right when it dumps all over the unemployed.  It’s all *their* fault.  The attention is always directed elsewhere, away from the true culprits.  Bill Clinton is like a frustration ball.

I hate to have to climb the water tower with a bucket of paint to defend Bill Clinton yet again but it seems necessary because the left seems to be completely unmoored.

When Bill Clinton said he wanted to “end welfare as we know it”, he didn’t say “end welfare period, now and forever”.  He meant transitioning people from a lifetime of poverty with no skills or hope to one where they would be able to get training and a job. Who here thinks it is preferable to collect a subsistence check than a real paycheck?  Raise your hands.  The Clinton plan was to provide health care, housing vouchers and child care while people made that transition.  The Republicans seized an opportunity to provide quite a different plan.  I supported Clinton’s plan wholeheartedly because I don’t like the idea of generational poverty.  It’s not liberal.  YOUR mileage may vary but then YOU might not be a liberal.

Bill Clinton nominated Lani Guinier, an out of the box thinker on voting rights, as Assistant Attorney General in 1993.  The Republicans had a holy shit fit.  How quickly we forget.

Bill Clinton was the one who wanted to allow gay soldiers to serve openly.  The Republicans had another fit about that.  We ended up with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Bill Clinton appointed Hillary to reform health care.  She couldn’t get it through due to forces in the Republican party and her own party (ever wonder why?) but she vigorously championed SCHIP for children.  Anyone remember what Rush Limbaugh did to that kid who was severely injured in a car accident with his sister?  Disgusting.  That’s what SCHIP brings out in Republicans.

Bill Clinton appointed the last two liberals to the Supreme Court.  I’m sorry but I don’t see Sotomayor or Kagan as being champions of liberal philosophy.  They only look liberal in comparison.

Yes, Bill Clinton made some mistakes.  He appointed Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Robert Rubin.  They turned out to be an axis of money induced evil.  I’m assuming he had a reason for this, like the Democrats before Clinton were notorious for being anti-business and maybe he wanted to change that image.  Maybe he thought he could manage it.  Balance competing interests. Rely on an intact regulatory system and Al Gore’s election.  But that evil triumvirate was an unknown quantity when he hired them.  In 2008, they had a paper trail, which is presumably why Hillary kept her distance. What was Obama’s excuse?

Over and over again, the president who left us with a surplus and nearly full employment throughout his two terms, who held off a punitive budget deal during a government shut down and who was pursued by some pretty batshit crazy Republican Javerts throughout his terms in office, is pointed to by the left as some kind of Republican mole.

I know the left is going through a crisis of conscience but don’t lose your heads and try to rewrite history.  When you need the Clinton Democrats to help you, they’re going to remember how you turned Bill Clinton into a scapegoat or let other more savvy operators turn you against his legacy.

And let’s not forget where Bill falls on the left-right spectrum of recent former presidents and where Obama is in comparison.  Here’s the graph from Krugman’s blog post on the subject:

Back in 1992, the “center” was much farther left than it is now.  People tend to forget this because we’ve been stuck firmly in the right since George Bush usurped the presidency.  If Clinton was a centrist, he was a pretty fricking liberal one, which is what drove the Republicans nuts in the first place.  They were foaming at the mouth before he took the oath of office the first time.  He hadn’t even done anything yet.  There was no triangulating and they already wanted to lynch him and make sure he didn’t succeed.  But he did anyway.

Obama is a totally different story.  He is the appointed president of the independents, moderate Republicans and financial class.  He didn’t win the nomination.  It was given to him.  THAT’S why he’s so insensitive to the Democratic base and the liberals.  It’s because he didn’t have to earn it with the voters.

Don’t blame Clinton for what the party has brought on itself.  Blaming Clinton is about as effective as blaming the unemployed for having no money.  It changes nothing.

What I want to know is where are women’s advocacy groups?  Why is Occupy the face of labor?  Why are the left bloggers keeping conspicuously mum over the massive loss of STEM jobs?  Why is it that the atheists are the ones who have to organize for knocking some sense into the country’s dialogue?  Whatever happened to reason?

All I see is gratuitous hits on Sarah Palin, jabs at Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum and a whole lot of hand wringing.  The left blogosphere looks like it’s afraid of it’s own shadow, terrified that challenging the Democrats and Obama to actually *do* something will bring on Armageddon.  It’s too late for that.  It’s already here.  If you don’t challenge the Democrats, then you are part of the problem and maybe even complicit.  And if that’s the case, you are going to lose all credibility and any power you have left.

So, stop doing it.  Focus on putting pressure on the Democrats.  Ignore the Republicans.  They aren’t going to change.  You can only make progress by pressuring your own side to do something.  And that something does not include introducing a measure in the blogosphere to condemn Bill Clinton.  Get a grip.

Wednesday Morning Vamp

In a bit of a hurry this morning so I’ll dash this off quickly and come back later.

For all of you who were crossing your fingers, eyes, er, whatever, for Brooke, who had applied for the AATG German Prize of summer study in Germany, you can stop now.

She won!

{{Cue the Snoopy Dance}}

This prize is sponsored by the Federal Republic of Germany every year and winners are selected from 23,000 American students who took the National German Exam administered by the American Association of Teachers of German.  The exam is the first step to winning the prize.  High scorers have to complete an essay section and after passing *that* step have to pass an interview section in German.  Forty-four winners are selected from 65 national chapters each with 2 finalists.

The prize includes a round trip flight to Germany, residence with a host family for 3-4 weeks, attendance at a gymnasium and tours of historical and cultural interest.  Brooke is incredibly honored to win and very happy that the German government is sponsoring this program.  With our current employment situation, she never would have been able to go on the regular German club trip.  It would have been too expensive.  It just goes to show that with a lot of hard work and the help of a lot of people, including her German teachers, guidance counselors, aunts and Grandparents, it is possible to cram enough German into your head to win a prestigious prize like this.

Thanks to all of you for hanging in there with us.

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