Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dick of the Week: Andrew Shirvell Mike Cox

Until I just watched this AC360 clip, I'd only read about this story. I had no idea what a freakshow this Shirvell guy is. As a Republican political operative, vocal Christianist and person who testifies in court, I expected a much more articulate firebrand of a bigot—not this jackass. And, as is so often the case with these anti-gay crusaders, it will be no surprise when we discover Andrew Shirvell is a self-loathing homosexual himself.

And because this guy is so clearly deranged, the DOW award has to actually go to the person who appointed him Assistant Attorney General and continues to employ him—State of Michigan Attorney General and All-Around Asshole Mike Cox.

When confronted with the clearly offensive and borderline illegal behavior of his employee Cox tossed out this garbage statement:
"Mr. Shirvell's personal opinions are his and his alone and do not reflect the views of the Michigan Department of Attorney General. But his immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Yeah, yeah..."First Amendment rights...civil servant protections...etc."

Bullshit. Shirvell is walking right up to the line of stalking, harrassment and slander, and this is clearly conduct unbecoming of a state official and cause for dismissal. With his half-hearted slap on the wrist, Cox himself just called Shirvell's judgement and maturity into question, yet this guy is supposed to represent the State of Michigan in court? Are we supposed to believe he can treat all people equally under the law?

This guy might have a First Amendment right to be a dickhead, but he doesn't have a right to a taxpayer-funded job that he clearly cannot perform.

Fire. His. Ass. Yesterday.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Class Warfare: Bring It.

Last week, the big story I wished I had time to blog about was the parade of wealthy jackasses who took to the Op-Ed pages to whine about how hard a tax increase would be on them. First, there was this douche nobody ever heard of before he made a complete fool of himself for bitching about scraping by on just under half-a-mil. And then everybody's favorite no-talent Hollywood conservative Ben Stein chimed in with "Raising My Taxes Is a Punishment."

I had some ideas floating around about how to tear these guys a new one, but I was never going to come up with anything as good as the salvo unloaded by Bill Maher on Friday:
New Rule: The next rich person who publicly complains about being vilified by the Obama administration must be publicly vilified by the Obama administration. It's so hard for one person to tell another person what constitutes being "rich", or what tax rate is "too much." But I've done some math that indicates that, considering the hole this country is in, if you are earning more than a million dollars a year and are complaining about a 3.6% tax increase, then you are by definition a greedy asshole.

And let's be clear: that's 3.6% only on income above 250 grand -- your first 250, that's still on the house. Now, this week we got some horrible news: that one in seven Americans are now living below the poverty line. But I want to point you to an American who is truly suffering: Ben Stein. You know Ben Stein, the guy who got rich because when he talks it sounds so boring it's actually funny. He had a game show on Comedy Central, does eye drop commercials, doesn't believe in evolution? Yeah, that asshole. I kid Ben -- so, the other day Ben wrote an article about his struggle. His struggle as a wealthy person facing the prospect of a slightly higher marginal tax rate. Specifically, Ben said that when he was finished paying taxes and his agents, he was left with only 35 cents for every dollar he earned. Which is shocking, Ben Stein has an agent? I didn't know Broadway Danny Rose was still working.

Ben whines in his article about how he's worked for every dollar he has -- if by work you mean saying the word "Bueller" in a movie 25 years ago. Which doesn't bother me in the slightest, it's just that at a time when people in America are desperate and you're raking in the bucks promoting some sleazy Free Credit Score dot-com... maybe you shouldn't be asking us for sympathy. Instead, you should be down on your knees thanking God and/or Ronald Reagan that you were lucky enough to be born in a country where a useless schmuck who contributes absolutely nothing to society can somehow manage to find himself in the top marginal tax bracket.

And you're welcome to come on the show anytime.

Now I can hear you out there saying, "Come on Bill, don't be so hard on Ben Stein, he does a lot of voiceover work, and that's hard work." Ok, it's true, Ben is hardly the only rich person these days crying like a baby who's fallen off his bouncy seat. Last week Mayor Bloomberg of New York complained that all his wealthy friends are very upset with mean ol' President Poopy-Pants: He said they all say the same thing: "I knew I was going to have to pay more taxes. But I didn't expect to be vilified." Poor billionaires -- they just can't catch a break.

First off, far from being vilified, we bailed you out -- you mean we were supposed to give you all that money and kiss your ass, too? That's Hollywood you're thinking of. FDR, he knew how to vilify; this guy, not so much. And second, you should have been vilified -- because you're the vill-ains! I'm sure a lot of you are very nice people. And I'm sure a lot of you are jerks. In other words, you're people. But you are the villains. Who do you think outsourced all the jobs, destroyed the unions, and replaced workers with desperate immigrants and teenagers in China. Joe the Plumber?

And right now, while we run trillion dollar deficits, Republicans are holding America hostage to the cause of preserving the Bush tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest 1% of people, many of them dead. They say that we need to keep taxes on the rich low because they're the job creators. They're not. They're much more likely to save money through mergers and outsourcing and cheap immigrant labor, and pass the unemployment along to you.

Americans think rich people must be brilliant; no -- just ruthless. Meg Whitman is running for Governor out here, and her claim to fame is, she started e-Bay. Yes, Meg tapped into the Zeitgeist, the zeitgeist being the desperate need of millions of Americans to scrape a few dollars together by selling the useless crap in their garage. What is e-Bay but a big cyber lawn sale that you can visit without putting your clothes on?

Another of my favorites, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, "I don't know where they're going to get all this money, because we're running out of rich people in this country." Actually, we have more billionaires here in the U.S. than all the other countries in the top ten combined, and their wealth grew 27% in the last year. Did yours? Truth is, there are only two things that the United States is not running out of: Rich people and bullshit. Here's the truth: When you raise taxes slightly on the wealthy, it obviously doesn't destroy the economy -- we know this, because we just did it -- remember the '90's? It wasn't that long ago. You were probably listening to grunge music, or dabbling in witchcraft. Clinton moved the top marginal rate from 36 to 39% -- and far from tanking, the economy did so well he had time to get his dick washed.

Even 39% isn't high by historical standards. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. Obama just wants to kick it back to 39 -- just three more points for the very rich. Not back to 91, or 70. Three points. And they go insane. Steve Forbes said that Obama, quote "believes from his inner core that people... above a certain income have more than they should have and that many probably have gotten it from ill-gotten ways." Which they have. Steve Forbes, of course, came by his fortune honestly: he inherited it from his gay egg-collecting, Elizabeth Taylor fag-hagging father, who inherited it from his father. Of course then they moan about the inheritance tax, how the government took 55% percent when Daddy died -- which means you still got 45% for doing nothing more than starting out life as your father's pecker-snot.

We don't hate rich people, but have a little humility about how you got it and stop complaining. Maybe the worst whiner of all: Stephen Schwarzman, #69 on Forbes' list of richest Americans, compared Obama's tax hike to "when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Wow. If Obama were Hitler, Mr. Schwarzman, I think your tax rate would be the least of your worries.

h/t: Smitty

UPDATE: Searching for the Ben Stein link unearthed this 2006 New York Times Op-Ed by Stein. Like every loudmouth conservative, looking out for himself means a change of tune:
The real problem is the difference between the rich — including rich oil people, of whom there are not many, but there are enough — and the poor. It is up to the government to redress this extraordinary difference in incomes of the rich and the nonrich, even at the margins.

What Congress can do, and should do, is address the stunning underpayment of military men and women and the staggering budget deficits that will be a burden on our posterity for decades, by raising the taxes on the rich. It's fine that there are rich people. It's even fine that there are superrich people.

But if they are superrich, they derive special benefits from life in the United States that the nonrich don't. For one thing, they can make the money in a safe environment, which is not true for the rich in many countries. It is just common decency that they should pay much higher income taxes than they do. Taxes for the rich are lower than they have been since at least World War II — that is to say, in 60 years.

This makes no sense in a world at war, in a nation with so many unmet social needs, in a nation with so many people without health care, in a nation running immense and endless deficits.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Last Installment...and why they're wrong

Today's frame job by the AP:
Poll: Climate for GOP keeps getting better (AP)

AP - Tilted toward the GOP from the start of the year, the political environment has grown even more favorable for Republicans and rockier for President Barack Obama and his Democrats over the long primary season that just ended with a bang.

It's bullshit. Complete bullshit.

While it is true that the numbers appear worse, these polls really don't mean a thing. And as far as the just completed primary season that "ended with a bang?" That "bang" was the GOP shooting itself in the foot. The victories of Tea Party candidates aren't a reflection of anything but a fracture within the Republican party. Is there a single instance where the Tea Party candidate has actually enhanced the GOP's chances in a race? I haven't seen one. Just yesterday, the Tea Party effectively handed Joe Biden's old seat back to the Democrats by nominating a candidate that stands no chance of winning at the expense of a legitimate Republican that would probably have easily won.

The AP story goes on to use only words like "beleaguered," "dreary" and "dispirited" regarding Democrats, and trots out some polls and statistics that don't necessarily lead to the conclusions they draw...

As Illinois kicked off the primary season Feb. 2, there was little talk even among Republicans that power in the House was in reach, much less in the Senate. But the national landscape has only has worsened for Democrats.

[1] The unemployment rate was 9.7 percent; it's 9.6 now.

[2] Half of the country said in January that the country was on the wrong track; 57 percent say that now in the new AP-GfK poll.

[3] About 42 percent of the country disapproved of Obama's job performance; half does now.

[4] Democrats had a 49 percent to 37 percent advantage over Republicans on the party that voters want to see control Congress; the GOP now enjoys a 55-39 lead among likely voters.

[5] Republicans have steadily gained ground on economic issues and now have a slight advantage on handling the economy, the federal deficit and taxes. They improved their standing in the past month even as Obama stepped up his efforts to persuade the public to give Democratic solutions more time to work.

[6] At the same time, 40 percent of likely voters call themselves tea party supporters, and most of them lean toward Republicans while nearly two-thirds have a deeply negative impression of Democrats. That means the GOP could be in strong shape on Nov. 2 if tea party backers turn out and vote Republican. That's what they've been doing so far this year: The grass-roots, antiestablishment movement can claim wins in at least seven GOP Senate races, a handful of Republican gubernatorial contests and dozens of House primary campaigns.

Let's take these apart one by one...

1. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's an improvement. It still sucks, and is not where it should be... but they act as if the number is in double figures.

2. In their sampling of two dates (Feb 2 and today) they neglect to mention that the poll they refer to actually is a graph that shows the gap closing over the last month and the overall trend for the year is still overall upward.

3. Worthless statistic. I disapprove of Obama's job performance—Congress' too—but I'm sure as shit not voting Republican! These polls are always going to be skewed by capturing Dems critical of their own party—something zombie Republicans don't do, and the media cannot seem to fathom. I hate many of the Democrats in Washington—doesn't mean I want them replaced by Republicans.

4. This is because of the steady drumbeat of coverage like I've shared the last three days. This poll question is self-fulfilling.

5. See above. No one when actually presented with information on the economy during Republican vs Democratic control could ever possibly reach this conclusion. Which is why stories such as this never include that type of useful information.

6. "40 percent of likely voters call themselves tea party supporters" That's fucking impossible. Unless they are asking these poll questions outside a Palin rally. Seriously. No. Fucking. Way.

That's it. the purpose of this AP story is to drive a narrative. Nothing else. there's no there, there.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Today's Installment

Today's Yahoo tease of an AP story [headline/link followed by the pop-up snip]:

Senate Republicans say they'll block tax increase (AP)

AP - President Barack Obama's plan to raise taxes on wealthier people while preserving cuts for everyone else appears increasingly likely to founder before Election Day.

And if you click through to the whole story it's just as bad...

Of course there's the unsurprising bit about old friends Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson and Holy Joe joining the GOP in rhetoric as well as deed, but the rest is just more of the same bullshit non-analysis we read yesterday.

The story wraps with a couple talking points from each side, which of course ends with a misleading statistic presented by the editors to back up a bogus GOP claim, and then last word goes to the Republicans.

"We could get (tax cuts) done this week, but we're still in this wrestling match with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell about the last 2 to 3 percent" of upper-income taxpayers, Obama said Monday during a backyard town hall in a Northern Virginia suburb. [NOTE: this is optimistic, to say the least, in terms of timetable, but essentially true.]

Gibbs said the middle class should not be used as a political football by Republicans maneuvering to give tax cuts to wealthy taxpayers, who he said don't need the reductions. [NOTE: Also true.] Republicans say paring taxes for the wealthy would encourage them and the businesses they operate to create jobs. [NOTE: Demonstrably false until someone produces actual evidence of successful trickle-down economics.]

Republicans, for their part, say that it's not just the rich who would be hit by Obama's tax hike on upper-income people. Many small businesses — that earn about half of all small business income — would also face the tax hike. [NOTE: There's the whopper.]

That makes it sound as if "many" equals "about half" of small businesses. Wrong. It's a deliberate attempt to conflate the income (dollars) with number of businesses. The truth is the vast majority of small business owners earn far below the threshold, and their personal income is impacted (or not) in any case, NOT the business.’

Just as the top 3% of individuals account for 20% of the nation's wealth, the "many" small business owners that account for "about half" of the small business income is actually a tiny share of the number of businesses. Like two percent tiny.

Thanks, AP!

P.S. Of course, that's skipping past the assertion that Obama is actively raising ANYONE'S taxes. He's not. This is the expiration of the GOP con game from the first Bush term.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Professor

The So-Called Liberal Media

The above-the-fold tease on the Yahoo home age:
Record gains for US poverty with elections looming (AP)

AP - The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Barack Obama's watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to th...

Who could possibly benefit from that framing?

Reading into the article further, all the reader gets is more negative trend information wrapped up with the typical non-analysis of today's mainstream media [emphasis aded]:

The GOP says voters should fire Democrats because Obama's economic fixes are hindering the sluggish economic recovery. Rightly or wrongly, Republicans could cite a higher poverty rate as evidence.

Democrats almost certainly will argue
that they shouldn't be blamed. They're likely to counter that the economic woes — and the poverty increase — began under President George W. Bush with the near-collapse of the financial industry in late 2008.

They say... vs they argue. Awesome. And, seriously? "Rightly or wrongly?" It's not a question, not even rhetorically. Do your fucking jobs, you dicks. I'm glad Fox News gets to lie with impunity, while the rest of you have now assumed the mantle of "We (sort of, but not really) Report, You (are forced to) Decide."