• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    eurobrat on One Tiny Mistake…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Evil people want to shove a so…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Evil people want to shove a so…
    riverdaughter on Evil people want to shove a so…
    campskunk on Evil people want to shove a so…
    eurobrat on D E F A U L T
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Tina Turner (1939-2023)
    jmac on D E F A U L T
    jmac on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    William on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    William on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    jmac on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    William on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    Propertius on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
    Propertius on Does Game Theory Even Help Us…
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    May 2023
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

  • Top Posts

Obama running a Corzine campaign?

The polls do not look good.  No, they do not.  Even if you toss out the outlier Gallup poll, the race shouldn’t be this close.  It is beginning to feel like the Democrats were relying on tribalism and identity more than seeing this race as a referendum on Obama’s performance.

I’m looking around the web and it seems like a lot of people are in denial.  They know there’s something wrong but they’re afraid to look or go to the doctor, hoping that come election day, it will have cleared itself up.  I wouldn’t take that attitude if I were them.  Romney may win this thing not because people genuinely want a Republican but because the Democrat is just so uninspiring and contemplating four more years of lackluster performance and capitulation to the Republicans is very depressing and may make them stay home.

The weird thing is that Obama’s campaign is appealing to Republicans and Independents while leaving the Democratic base demoralized.  Who the heck does the Democratic party expect to come to their rescue??  The Lone Ranger?  Are they going to work Bill Clinton into an early grave on the campaign trail?

Anyway, whatever it is, they’d better get on the stick.  The Republicans sure look like they’re playing to win.


Friday: I know, I know, you should have voted for Hillary

C’mon, you holdouts, admit it.  You guys are like the damned in Life of Brian that are about to be crucified who keep insisting that it “Could have been worse”.  Really?  It could have been worse or the same with Hillary?  How do continue to believe that and still manage to function in your daily activities?  Oh, sure, Obama keeps hiring former Clinton officials but note that they’re the ones that Hillary avoided during her campaign.  In other words, her husband tried them out and found them wanting.


On with the news:

The mainstream press has finally discovered-  The General Public!  OMG!  We’re like a new species.  Whoa, where did we come from?  And we don’t like the idea of cutting back on entitlements.  Why didn’t someone tell the press about this before??  Because they were, like, totally unaware of this.  THEY’D been operating on the assumption that whatever was going on in the Hamptons was like the very heartland in America.  I mean, doesn’t everyone just helicopter in or get Fabio to blow out their hair in the limo on that long, arduous journey from midtown to Long Island?  Wow, what they’ve been missing.

As President Obama and Congress brace to battle over how to reduce chronic annual budget deficits, Americans overwhelmingly say that in general they prefer cutting government spending to paying higher taxes, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Yet their preference for spending cuts, even in programs that benefit them, dissolves when they are presented with specific options related to Medicareand Social Security, the programs that directly touch the most people and also are the biggest drivers of the government’s projected long-term debt.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans choose higher payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security over reduced benefits in either program. And asked to choose among cuts to Medicare, Social Security or the nation’s third-largest spending program — the military — a majority by a large margin said cut the Pentagon

Well, there you have it, sports fans.  The American people want the pointless and expensive wars to stop.  And they choose cuts to the pentagon by a large margin.  Barry, are you listening?  Because Bush got us into these stupid wars and destabilized parts of the world it seems in a deliberate manner that makes it really tricky to get out of lest the neighbors start fighting with each other and lob nukes over the fences.

I can almost hear Chris Hedges and his Puritan posse winding up to blame Hillary for this.  Wait for it.  You know it’s coming.  Yes, they’ll say, Obama has been a disaster and a disappointment to them, but if the war doesn’t end, it’s all Hillary’s fault.

But in any case, the Democrats can’t say they didn’t know that cutting entitlements was not what the voters wanted.  And while it is above my pay grade to give math lessons, it should be noted that there are significantly more regular, average, everyday Americans who vote than bankers.  I know, the bankers resent this inequity in numbers and try to make up for it in cash but unless the Dems are planning to rig the voting machines, (and who would put it passed them given the way they ran the primaries in 2008?), the voters will have their say.  Some independent candidate could make a KILLING in 2012.  All those votes, just laying their on the table, unclaimed by either party…

This poll renews my faith in the American public.  After several years of the most intense propaganda, bad economic news and unemployment, they’ve managed to see through the smoke and now are fully aware that the rich and well connected are about to rob them blind.  It takes a Democratic president screwing around with social security to finally wake them up.  For this, we can be grateful that Obama is the unsentimental, opportunistic, banker ass kissing schmoozer we said he was.

In the meantime, the rich and well connected are continuing to try to relieve themselves of their obligations in the states, where state employees and teachers, negotiating in good faith for decades, have deferred part of their compensation to pay for their retirements.

Policy makers are working behind the scenes to come up with a way to let states declare bankruptcy and get out from under crushing debts, including the pensions they have promised to retired public workers.

Unlike cities, the states are barred from seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court. Any effort to change that status would have to clear high constitutional hurdles because the states are considered sovereign.

But proponents say some states are so burdened that the only feasible way out may be bankruptcy, giving Illinois, for example, the opportunity to do what General Motors did with the federal government’s aid.

Declaring bankruptcy is the ONLY way?  What we got here is a failure to imaginate.  How about we tax the people in the state who are making a whole lot of money?  Well, California screwed itself with its silly proposition 13 instead of hiking the income tax on rich people.  I mean, increasing taxes on the wealthy would be the right thing to do since to deprive the employees of their benefits after they’ve been paying into the system for years would be tantamount to breaking a promise to them and sanctioning fraud.  Would YOU want to worf for California and do a good job after that?  You get what you pay for.

And by the way, when did defined benefit plans become so “gold plated” and Unusual?  (Oh, around 1994)  It seems fashionable these days to point to these state employees as some kind of parasites when they’re really just getting what the rest of us used to have as a standard benefits package before that damn 401K got rolled out to everyone as an alternative.  Whose bright idea was that 401K anyway?  I still contend that if you want to save the economy and jobs, cut off the bankers gambling addiction and move back to a social safety net that we can all live with, the powers that be should phase out the 401K.

Speaking of “pension envy”, the public in this recession seems to not be rallying around labor like it did during the Great Depression as this piece in the New Yorker, State of the Unions, explains.

Still, the advantages that union workers enjoy when it comes to pay and benefits are nothing new, while the resentment about these things is. There are a couple of reasons for this. In the past, a sizable percentage of American workers belonged to unions, or had family members who did. Then, too, even people who didn’t belong to unions often reaped some benefit from them, because of what economists call the “threat effect”: in heavily unionized industries, non-union employers had to pay their workers better in order to fend off unionization. Finally, benefits that union members won for themselves—like the eight-hour day, or weekends off—often ended up percolating down to other workers. These days, none of those things are true. Organized labor has been on the wane for decades, to the point where just seven per cent of private-sector workers belong to a union. The benefits that union members still get—like defined-contribution pensions or Cadillac health plans—are out of reach of most workers. And the disappearance of unions from the private sector has radically diminished the threat effect, meaning that unions don’t raise the wages of non-union workers.

Unions have a bad reputation.  But they gave us the weekend.  It looks like this is another battle we have to fight all over again and who knows what regulations Obama is going to want to put on the table to satisfy business?  As Nucky Thomson said in Boardwalk Empire, “You have to decide how much sin you’re willing to live with”  Is a little overreach by the unions worth it if it trickles down to the rest of us non-union people?  What would happen if the newly awakened public had another soylent green moment and showed up at public meetings supporting state employees and teacher’s unions?  How much time would it take to roll back the excesses of movement conservatism?

Following up on the Giffords’ shooting, Hendrik Herzberg has a post in the New Yorker about the connection between Words and Deeds.  He expresses what I have been trying to say beautifully, until the last third of the article where he goes seriously off the rails with effusive and undeserved praise for Obama’s speech in Tucson.  Come on, Hendrik, really?  Let’s compare a couple of presidential speeches that commemorate similar tragedies.

First, the excerpt from Obama’s speech that Hendrik quotes:

I believe that we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved life here—they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us.

And now, Lincoln at Gettysburg:

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The dude just gave the USA Today version of the Gettysburg address at Tucson.  He used a lot more words and a lot less sensibility for the principles of the people he claims to represent.  He didn’t write it on the back of an envelope.  No, some professional speech writer like Jon Favreau wrote that piece of drivel for him.  See the difference?  Ok.  Good.  Can we stop making Obama out to be the reincarnation of a great orator now?

On a positive note, Gabrielle Giffords is making slow but steady recovery and is now using an iPad.  Her next milestone: conquering level 19 of the Angry Birds Christmas Seasonal edition.  Seriously, Gabby, we’re pulling for you.

Obama’s Poll Ratings In Free Fall

Free Falling

Free Falling

Obama has only been in the White House for about seven months, yet it is no longer accurate to call him a popular President. His poll ratings are dropping fast. According to the Pew Research Center,

Barack Obama’s approval ratings have suffered major declines. The president’s overall job approval number fell from 61% in mid-June to 54% currently. His approval ratings for handling the economy and the federal budget deficit have also fallen sharply, tumbling to 38% and 32%, respectively. Majorities now say they disapprove of the way the president is handling these two issues. The new poll also finds significant declines over the last few months in the percentage of Americans giving Obama high marks for dealing with health care, foreign policy and tax policy.

Furthermore, Obama has lost ground in nearly every demographic category, including big losses among Democrats. Although 74% say they still like Obama personally, they are unhappy with most of his policies and with the way things are going in the country overall.

For the first time since Obama took office, as many say the government is on the wrong track (48%) as on the right track (46%) in handling the nation’s economic problems. In May, 53% said the government was on the right track on the economy, while 39% said it was on the wrong track.

Today’s Rasmussen presidential tracking poll has Obama’s Presidential Approval Index at -12, his lowest score yet. Only 28% of respondents strongly approve of Obama’s performance while 40% strongly disapprove. In addition,

Forty-nine percent (49%) now say that America’s best days have come and gone. Just 38% believe they are still to come. Thirty-four percent (34%) say the country is heading in the right direction. Seventy-five percent (75%) want the Federal Reserve to be audited.

Comments, reactions? This is an open thread.

Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

This is interesting….

Commenter Felizarte recently posted this interesting tidbit:

Talk of replacing Biden with Hillary must be under discussion. I just got a follow-up survey from –William Arnone Phone: 212-773-3285 asking me if I would change my mind about voting for McCain if Biden was replaced with Hillary.

I wonder if someone could find out who this character is. I of course said NO, a hundred times.

Continue reading

Thursday: How to depress a rat

For awhile now. I’ve gone off on a tangent about psychological warfare. I’m no psychologist but I did spend many years with a fanatically religious mother and I’ve seen every kind of psychological warfare there is. After 40+ years, I have yet to convert and remain as much of a sinner as I ever was.

So, let’s take stock of where we’ve been and where we are now. First, the sweeties tried to debate us. Yes, they came with their personal power dynamics themed speeches about how we can all get along as long as we listened to them and stopped being such belligerent idiots. That didn’t work so well. Then they tried the guilt trips. If we didn’t vote for Obama, the forced pregnancy police were going to visit women at the workplace and subject everyone to pelvic exams. But we pointed out that the SCOTUS already has enough votes to overturn Roe without any help from us. Besides, with Obama now supporting Steny Hoyer’s FISA legislation, Roe is not the only thing we have to worry about with the Supreme Court and Obama is not the guy to save it.

The most recent tactic to be used against us is something we researchers use occasionally. It’s called Learned Helplessness. We sometimes induce this in lab rats in order to test anti-depressant drugs. In short, the rat is subjected to a stressful situation, like putting it in a tank of water and making it think it’s about to drown. This situation is one that it can’t resolve or relieve. Do this for n times and then measure how much the rat is depressed by putting it the corner of a square, for example, and measure how long it takes for the rat to wander out of it. The efficacy of the drug is related to how quickly the rat leaves the corner. Really depressed rats just sit there. And sit there. They have become passive against what they see as overwhelming helplessness, or so we think because, after all, no rat has ever told us how suicidal it is.

A more precise definition of the concept can be found in the wiki entry on learned helplessness::

Learned helplessness is a psychological condition in which a human being or an animal has learned to believe that it is helpless in a particular situation. It has come to believe that it has no control over its situation and that whatever it does is futile. As a result, the human being or the animal will stay passive in the face of an unpleasant, harmful or damaging situation, even when it does actually have the power to change its circumstances. Learned helplessness theory is the view that depression results from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation, or situations (Seligman, 1975). Examples can be found in schools, mental institutions, orphanages, or long-term care facilities where the patients have failed or been stripped of agency for long enough to cause their feelings of inadequacy to persist.

Now, how is this being used against us? Well, many of you might have noticed that there has been an overwhelming preponderance of polling data put out this week that shows a tidal wave of support for Obama. In fact, we have even had some “woe is me, everything is lost” trolls here recently who have wailed and nashed their teeth in despair over the polls that show that “Obama is going to win, WIN I Tell you and there is nothing we can do, Nothing. We must all get used to the fact that Hillary lost, lost and forsaken us. Where is my razor? Good-bye cruel world!”

This is bull$%^&. Anyone who remembers 1988 will remember that Dukakis was ahead during the summer and how did that go? Øh, and then there was Kerry, remember him? He was going to whup George’s @$$ (God, how naive we were). My point is that if the Republicans took the attitude that they were done for, we’d have had Democratic presidents in one long unbreakable string, one after another.

So, what do the polls really show? Well, they probably reflect somewhat realistically that some Hillary supporters have moved to Obama. Obama shouldn’t kid himself into believing that they actually *like* him. I’m pretty confident that they do not. But I’m guessing that a lot of them have bought the previous troll bait on the SCOTUS and with Hillary suspending her campaign, they might feel that the lesser of two evils, yada-yada-yada… Of course, I’m not absolutely convinced that Obama *is* the lesser of two evils, but that’s neither here nor there.

The frequency and intensity of the polling data in the news is intended to make us “shrieking bands of paranoid holdouts” feel like we can’t do anything to fight the tsunami of Obama’s inevitability. It is designed to make you passive just when your activity has the most power to affect some kind of change- before the actual convention. Are you going to let them box you into a corner?

The GOOD thing is that this PUMA movement that started here at The Confluence, has gone viral. We now have many coalition members fanning out across the media, thanks to Diane at JustSayNoDeal, who are getting the message out that we are not giving in. And as long as we have our votes, we are not helpless. If they don’t pay attention to us before the convention, they are sure as Hell not going to forget us after the election. The more there are of us. the more power we have. The bigger our numbers, the harder Obama and the DNC have to work to win us back. Let THEM see how high the mountain is.

We are NOT helpless, the odds are NOT against us, we ARE growing. We are going to do whatever little acts of resistance it takes to make ourselves noticed and respected. If we stick together and keep our resolve, we will be a force to be reckoned and I’ll be damned if someone is going to box ME into a corner I can’t get out of.

Go get’em, PUMAs!

One more thing:  I can’t access the webpage from work anymor since a new firewall went up.  So those of you who thing the fire has gone out can stop worrying.  I’m just chomping at the bit at my desk.  But forturnately, we have plenty of very committed people at this blog who do some pretty passionate posts so I’m sure we will be in good hands.  Meanwhile, we have a whole lot of new freinds at JustSayNoDeal and at PUMA Pac.  Check them out.