You Can’t Negotiate With Self Deception: The GOP’s Game of Political Chicken

Ezra Klein sums up the increasingly likely government shutdown in two paragraphs :

If the Republicans just wanted negotiations, the Obama administration would be happy to oblige them. The White House, after all, has repeatedly said they’re willing to negotiate with the Republicans over the deficit, over jobs, over sequestration, and much else. Republicans haven’t been interested in those kinds of negotiations for some time. Indeed, after the fiscal cliff, Speaker John Boehner told Republicans that he was finished negotiating directly with Obama.

The reason Republicans aren’t interested in those negotiations is they don’t want to give anything up to get the things they want. That’s why they like negotiating over the debt ceiling: Since they also don’t want the the U.S. to lose its creditworthiness and fall back into financial crisis, raising the debt ceiling is not actually giving anything up. It’s releasing a hostage they never wanted to shoot.

It’s been clear for sometime that the ongoing debates in Washington have absolutely nothing to do with government spending or raising the debt ceiling as many conservatives would like to believe. If Republicans were concerned about on going government spending , the concessions they would seek would revolve around their proposals to reduce the deficit. Of course there are no proposals of any kind coming from the House GOP and the only demand John Boehner has asked for involve the defunding and delay of Obamacare.

But a look deeper into the politics of the House GOP reveals that the impending government shutdown isn’t even about Obamacare care as much as its about the political divisions within the Tea Party, House GOP.

House Speaker John Boehner has tried to convince conservatives to abandon their idea to use the threat of a government shutdown to force President Obama to defund Obamacare, telling them instead to wait and use the debt limit to force Obamacare concessions.

In a conference call with House Republicans last week, Boehner said they would push Obama on the debt limit, but not the continuing resolution to fund the government. Some weren’t pleased, The National Review‘s Jonathan Strong reports, and the call turned “ugly.” Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, for example, “told Boehner to ‘go back to the drawing board.'”

The New York Times also chimes in:

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio faced a critical decision this weekend: Accept a bill passed by the Senate on Friday to keep the government funded and the health care law intact and risk a conservative revolt that could threaten his speakership, or make one more effort to undermine the president’s signature domestic initiative and hope that a shutdown would not do serious political harm to his party.

With no guarantee that Democrats would help him, he chose the shutdown option. The House’s unruly conservatives had more than enough votes to defeat a spending bill that would not do significant damage to the health care law, unless Democrats were willing to bail out the speaker. And Democrats showed little inclination to alleviate the Republicans’ intraparty warfare.

It’s important to take note of the actual causes of this government shutdown instead of the apparent causes. The predominant strategy of Republicans in Congress over the past two decades has been hostage negotiations over policy negotiations. From their record number of filibusters to their ardent refusal to approve the President’s nominee’s for key administrative positions, Republicans have all but abandoned their legislative duties in lieu of childish obstructionism. While it’s tempting to deal with false equivalencies and place blame on both Democrats and Republicans, the actions of both parties does not bare this out in truth. No where is this more evident than in the chambers of House Republicans where inter party divisions are currently holding the entire government hostage.


Was Fox Sports Wrong To Fire Craig James?

Over at The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes about the firing of former NCAA analyst Craig James for comments made during his 2012 Senate run. After his brief and unsuccessful foray into the political world Fox Sports News Southwest hired the former ESPN alumni only to fire him after just one appearance. Conor disagrees with their decision:

A network would be justified in firing a sports broadcaster for expressing controversial moral or political views during an entertainment telecast that had nothing to do with the subject. But to not hire someone for prior remarks made amid civic debate, and that are indistinguishable from the position taken by almost half of all Americans at the time?

That action strengthens a suboptimal norm, even if Fox Sports is acting within its legal rights.

America is always going to be a diverse country that encompasses people with very different political views and moral values. In order to get along, despite our differences, it is useful to debate divisive issues openly through the civic process, and to establish spheres where what divides us is set aside as irrelevant. Fox Sports’s actions undermine society’s ability to do both things

I tend to agree with this point. It would be one thing if James had made a roaring inflammatory remark like the infamous “You’re a sodomite. I hope you get AIDS and die.” comment made by then MSNBC talk show host Michael Savage. But James’ statement that homosexuals will have to “answer to the Lord for their actions” isn’t even in the same solar plane of existence.

The first amendment arguments against the firing of James are obvious.  This is America, a country where individuals have the right to express their personal beliefs in an open and  civilized manner regardless of how unpopular they might be. To that extent, every free speech organization should be rallying around James and pressuring Fox Sports to reconsider their decision. (ACLU are you listening?)

The larger first amendment issues arising from this incident are even more alarming. Christians…well let’s be honest…Christian CONSERVATIVES… have often complained about a so called “War on Christianity” being waged in America. While most of their claims of discrimination are plain and utter BS, our attempts to ensure political equality has on occasion lead to pointless over reaching.  There’s enough real and significant issues of discrimination occurring in America that we don’t need to persecute schools who say “Merry Christmas” or fire football analysts for expressing their beliefs off air. The right to religious freedom is not the right to be free of religion. Religious freedom guarantees every American the right to exercise their religious beliefs, or lack there of, as long as those beliefs are not forced upon those around them.  Defenders of religious freedom would be best served to keep that in mind before the public discussion shifts focus from equality for the minority to discrimination against the majority.

Socialism: The Answer To All Our Economic Woes

“Businesses don’t hire because taxes are lower. That’s because taxes represent a relatively small part of the cost of hiring. And if taxes did make a difference then it would stand to reason that hiring would have been much lower under Bill Clinton’s presidency when rates were higher than they were under George W. Bush when taxes were slashed. Unfortunately, the truth is quite the opposite — under Clinton, companies hired nearly eight times more workers – 22.2 million — while Bush presided over the creation of 3 million jobs – the worst performance in the last 60 years. “


— Peter Cohan, Socialism today…aka Forbes Magazine


Wow. Businesses don’t automatically create jobs when you give them huge tax breaks?! My whole life perspective…shattered…

The paragraph above comes from that crazy crazy leftist Forbes magazine (what the fuck do they know about business, i know.) But their ultimate conclusion is even more interesting:


Companies hire only when not hiring means they can’t satisfy customer demand. Put another way, companies hire when the profits missed from not hiring exceed the cost of adding a new worker.


For those of you who have trouble following the bouncing ball let me paraphrase and simplify.

It’s the demand stupid.

Conservatives often claim that businesses must be given incentives to hire people. This is 90% false and 10% true. As with any rational actor, businesses, like people, respond to incentives. But the equivocation that conservatives make occurs when they confuse market based incentives with government incentives. Government incentives only save profit. Consumer demand creates profit.  And if we want businesses to grow, IE hire more people, then we must cultivate a larger buyers market by financially empowering people and not big business.




Under President Bush Republicans Voted 19 Times For Debt Ceiling Increase

Wish I could say this was surprising:

After pushing the government to brink of shutdown last week, Republican Congressional leaders are now preparing to push America to the edge of default by refusing to increase the nation’s debt limit without first getting Democrats to concede to large spending cuts.

But while the four Republicans in Congressional leadership positions are attempting to hold the increase hostage now, they combined to vote for a debt limit increase 19 times during the presidency of George W. Bush. In doing so, they increased the debt limit by nearly $4 trillion.


Can any Republicans out there seriously say with a straight face that the House GOP has the country’s best interest in mind? If John Boehner and Eric Cantor were real public officials with a real grownup sense of responsibility that usually accompanies those in office, then the debt ceiling would be raised without negotiations. After all protecting the economy from economic collapse is…really important.

But of course, Cantor and Boehner aren’t grownups and have no grownup sense of responsibility.  They ask for a ridiculously high amount of tax cuts, while agreeing to a  disproportionally  low amount of revenue increases. And then when the President finally agrees to that…NOPE! Not good enough!

Today’s News Links: I HAZ THEM

Surest way to know that the American economy sucks right now? Even illegal immigrants don’t want to come here anymore

I gotz the news, you gotz the time.

“Over the past few years, it (The Republican party)  has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative…” WOW…NYT conservative columnist David Brooks lays down the hammer.

Four more banks pay back their TARP “the “big government bailout” that worked loans.

This provides pretty damning evidence for those who claim Israeli foreign policy is more anti-Palestinian than it is Pro-Israel.

Our failure to create jobs is a choice, not a necessity“- Word Paul Krugman, word.

The press doesn’t know what a fiscal conservative is.


Of course to 99% of American’s this is nothing new or shocking. But then again, 99% of you aren’t GOP Congressman Joe Walsh who decided to pull the ‘ TEH BLACKS MAN WON CUZ HE WAZ …” argument in an interview with Dave Wiegel.

Why was he elected? Again, it comes back to who he was. He was black, he was historic. And there’s nothing racist about this. It is what it is. If he had been a dynamic, white, state senator elected to Congress he wouldn’t have gotten in the game this fast. This is what made him different. That, combined with the fact that your profession” — another friendly tap of the bumper sticker —”not you, but your profession, was just absolutely compliant. They made up their minds early that they were in love with him. They were in love with him because they thought he was a good liberal guy and they were in love with him because he pushed that magical button: a black man who was articulate, liberal, the whole white guilt, all of that.”

This is the kind of thing conservatives say that shows they don’t hangout with many black folk. Or history professors for that matter.  Because had Joe Walsh paid any attention to the…oh the last 30 or so years of presidential politics, he would have noticed that voters tend to like candidates that have a knack for communicating their message. Which is why people voted for Reagan because he was “The Great Communicator” or Clinton because “he felt their pain” or Dubya because “he was the kind of guy you could sit down and have a beer with”.  And yet President Obama was elected because “he was articulate AND black”.


Forget the fact that after eight years of President Bush, the 2008 election was the Democrat’s election to lose, or the fact that he ran a revolutionary ground campaign or the fact that Republicans nominated John McCain and Sarah freaking Palin to represent their party. Obama only won because he was a black man that didn’t use ebonics and shit.

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised that a party that doesn’t believe in evolution, global warming, birth certificates, and science in general would be shocked, SHOCKED I SAY, by an intelligent black man.

But still, if you consider yourself any type of intelligent conservative you should feel at least a little ashamed that your party is filled with candidates who so regularly say outright retarded things.

I’m just saying…

Just Because You Can Do It Doesn’t Mean It’s Not Illegal

Is it just me or does this seem kind of…illegal?

President Obama’s Interior secretary is due for a raise, but Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter threatened to block that pay increase unless the Interior Department opens more access to Gulf drilling. Democrats say that Vitter’s opposition amounts to coercion.

This morning, aides to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar say he asked the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to withdraw any effort to address Salazar’s planned salary increase over a rare and personal dispute launched by Vitter. Salazar wrote to Reid, that Vitter’s demand is “wrong” and called it “attempted coercion.”

When I first clicked on the story I figured Vitter was blocking Salazar’s pay increase as part of some trivial but symbolic budget gesture. “In times of high unemployment and record level debt why should we give public officials raises?”. Silly, but relatively harmless. Instead Vitter refuses to allow Salazar’s scheduled raise to go through unless he leans a certain way on a policy.

If this isn’t pay to play I don’t know what is.

Sure Vitters method and approach might be different, but don’t let that fool you. What he’s saying is quite literally…I will give you money if and only if you support my policy.


If this kind of political coercion is permissible what’s to stop Congress from offering bribes “pay rises” to public officials that vote favorably on certain issues are high achievers.