Senate Republicans are Idiots - Auto Bailout Edition

The Auto Bailout is a necessity.  Across the spectrum, industry experts say two of the Big Three are in such dire straights that they may fail in a matter of weeks.  Bankruptcy isn't an option for these giants, since it would be impossible to find loans for the temporary cash flow they need in order to keep the doors open.  The credit crisis took care of that.  On top of that technical consideration, there's the well documented fact that Americans wont make a huge capital purchase from a company that might not be around to support that purchase in the coming years.  For most of us a $20k car is not a purchase to be made lightly.  So, bankruptcy equals extinction in this case.

The car companies cannot be allowed to fail for a number of reasons.  First, going into what could be the 2nd Great Depression is the wrong time to lose 2-3 million jobs.  Duh.  Second, there is a very real national security cost to losing our manufacturing sector completely.  Remember, in WWII it was the auto manufacturers that were effectively nationalized in order to make tanks, jeeps, and aircraft.  Without an American manufacturing sector that expertise will bleed out of our populace, making the nation weaker and therefore less safe.

Enter the Neo-Hooverite Senate Republicans.  They don't have a problem with throwing money at their Wall Street buddies, but the thought of bailing out an industry chock full of Democrats is beyond the pale.  In fact, in a leaked strategy memo the Senate Republicans say that killing the Auto Bailout is a "first shot against organized labor."  Wasn't this the party whose slogan in the last election was Country First?  Go figure.

All the same, through the process of negotiation the Senate Republicans procured a number of very meaningful concessions from the companies - things I support.  Most importantly, they forced a move to wage parity with the foreign auto-makers U.S.-based workforce.  Over the course of 18 months, the UAW's wages would fall to match those of Toyota's workers.  Although this isn't the most important action for transforming the Big 2-3 into healthy companies (that would be building cars that people like me want to buy), it is nonetheless key.   I heartily approve of union's efforts to ensure that a company's profits are shared with the workers and do not accrue solely to the benefit of stockholders and executives, but the unions need to be willing to give some of those increased wages back during tough times, so long as the pain is shared with management and shareholders.  

Here's where the Senate Republicans reveal themselves to be the idiots they are.  The UAW workers have contracts, so without the availability of bankruptcy as an option for forcing them to change those contracts, it is only through their agreement that their wages can be changed.  The Senate Republicans succeeded in convincing the UAW to give consent to just such a adjustment to the contract, but then the Republicans killed the bailout!  The UAW's consent was in the context of that bailout!  Therefore, by killing the bailout they killed the only chance they had of actually firing a "first shot at organized labor."

So, given that the bailout died in the Senate, unable to overcome a Republican filibuster, what do you think would happen next?  Do you think the Bush Administration, newly christened lovers of socialism, will be happy going down in history as the government that did nothing while the U.S. Auto Industry to go extinct?  Did the Senate Republicans think the Bush Administration, who had given $700 billion to the financial sector, would balk at a measly $17 billion for one of the cornerstones of the U.S. economy?  OF COURSE NOT, YOU IDIOTS!

What do we have at the end of this towering monument to stupidity?  The Big Three get their money, and the UAW is forced to make no concessions at all!  And when the new Senate convenes, do you think the remaining 41 Republicans will be able to get as many concessions as 49 of them just did on any future bailout?  OF COURSE NOT, YOU IDIOTS!

I wanted to see the UAW's wages fall to parity with the Big Three's competitors, but now we have to trust that the Democrats will work against their electoral interests to secure that concession.  I don't think that's out of the question for a party that puts practicality above ideology, but in an oppositional system, such as we have, trusting the majority to do the right thing is a gross failure of the minority party.

Global Warming NOT Caused by Cosmic Rays

Via Slashdot:
A new study conducted by Norwegian researchers finds (again) that changes in cosmic rays most likely do not contribute to climate change. Previously, other researchers have claimed to have found a link between cosmic rays and surface temperatures."
Yeah.  Big surprise.  But don't expect the deniers to drop the talking point.  Zombie Lies everywhere!  They can't be killed!


Rick Warren is the New Falwell

Last night on Fox News, Sean Hannity insisted that United States needs to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Warren said he agreed. Hannity asked, "Am I advocating something dark, evil or something righteous?" Warren responded, "Well, actually, the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped.... In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."
Maybe he should hang out with Robertson, who said we should assassinate foreign leaders we don't like.  Ra-Ra, Christianity!  Woooo!

William Jefferson, Democrat-Lousiana

Rush Limbaugh's favorite example of Democratic corruption lost his re-election bid last night in his indigo-blue district. Good riddance.

It's worth noting that when the Democrats have an indicted Member running for re-election, we refuse to endorse him. The DNC and the DCCC didn't lift a finger to help Jefferson, and this morning we're all thrilled to see him go.

By contrast, when the Republicans have a convicted felon running for the Senate, not only does the entire party apparatus work for his re-election (coming shocking close to victory in the process), but prominent Republicans endorse him. A certain lipstick-wearing pig comes to mind.

Good on ya, Democrats.

Shinseki to Veterns Affairs

Another inspired choice from President-Elect Obama.  He's getting an excellent public servant - someone willing to sacrifice his career for the sake of doing the right thing - while simultaneously sticking it to George W. Bush.  We love that.

He's putting together an incredibly diverse cabinet without ever seeming to select someone for diversity's sake.  When do we get an Old White Guy for a cabinet post?


Torture Motivates Our Enemies

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me -- unless you don't count American soldiers as Americans.
It's so obvious... the soldiers volunteered.  The all-volunteer force allowed the Bush Administration to use them in ways that no government with a conscripted force would ever contemplate.  They are expendable, both in the field and once they return home.  The GI Bill and the Walter Reed scandal is all the proof you need on that last point.  "Support the Troops" really means "Support All Wars."

I'd say it is equally obvious that these practices have made our homeland less secure as well as our troops in the field.  In the mythical Jack Bauer situation, where we know there is an imminent attack and we know that someone in custody knows how to stop it, then no jury would convict a Bauer-type for doing what they thought they needed to do to avert the attack.  The problem is enshrining that torture as legal.  If it's legal, it'll happen routinely.  It will become the norm rather than the exception, and then America will cease to be a Shining City on the Hill, and join the ranks of ordinary nations and tinpot dictators.  In fact, that is exactly what has happened under the Bush Torture Regime.  To think that these dirt-poor, illiterate youths that are susceptible to radicalization will only strike in Iraq against US Forces is naive.  If they had the chance to strike America itself, I don't think there is much doubt as to which target they would prefer.

This concern isn't borne out of some liberal hippie-dippie desire to be nice to everyone and drop flowers instead of bombs.  Being seen as the Shining City is the greatest Strategic Weapon America has at its disposal.  It is a weapon we can use freely, for it creates no blowback.  Ronald Reagan understood this, but the Republican Party that worships him has decided he was wrong.  They're still on board with the deficit-spending, favor-the-rich, tax-cuts-solve-everything policies, but the Shining City - that's liberal mushiness and naivete.

Palin's $300K Look

And we thought $180k was a lot.
Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist was paid $68,400 and her hair stylist received more than $42,000 for roughly two months of work, according to a new campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Ms. Palin’s makeup artist, Amy Strozzi — who was nominated for an Emmy award for her cosmetics work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?” — was paid $32,400 by Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign between Oct. 16 and Nov. 24, the period covered by the most recent reports filed with the commission.

This amount came on top of the $36,000 she had already been paid in previous reports, dating back to September.

In addition, Ms. Palin’s traveling hair stylist, Angela Lew, was paid a total of $42,225, with $23,400 coming during the period covered by the latest reports to the commission, which were due at midnight on Thursday.

Much attention has been paid to the $150,000 the Republican National Committee spent on outfitting Ms. Palin in September at high-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, as well as on makeup services.

Republican officials said this week that additional clothing charges would appear on the Republican National Committee’s campaign finance report totaling less than $30,000. But the committee’s report, which was due at midnight on Thursday, was not yet available as of late evening.
Thank God for Real Americans, huh?

Please, let her be the face of the Republican Party.


Supremes to Hear Al Marri Case

So, the Supreme Court has finally agreed to hear the Al-Marri Case.  They're years late, but it's better late than never.

Al-Marri is one of the greatest travesties of Bush's misguided war on our civil liberties.  He must ultimately find Justice for the good of the nation, but this leads to a perverse situation.  If Obama moves to give him that Justice expeditiously, he could accidentally enshrine the powers seized by our recent Monarch, George W. Bush.  Without his continued indefinite incarceration, the Supreme Court will rule that the issue is moot, since the injustice has been righted.  They've done the same thing before in the Padilla case, where the Bush Administration transferred him to a civilian prison just before the Supremes were to hear the case.  The conservative court (with 7 of 9 Justices appointed by Republicans) refused to grant review in the Padilla case, thereby preserving Bush's justification for his indefinite detentions, and they will surely do so again if given the chance.

So, as awful as it is, I say let him rot in jail for another few months.  Then the Court will be forced to rule, and we will finally have a Supreme Court precedent saying what none of us ever thought would be necessary - that the President does not have the powers of a King in wartime, and cannot simply imprison Americans on American soil without charge or trial on his say-so alone.  That we need to establish this precedent via the Court rather than just relying on the plain reading of the Constitution is a sad, sad thing for the Republic.


Smooth Sailing in the New World

So, +21 in the House, +7 in the Senate. Not a bad haul, after 8 years of Republican rule, favoring the richest amongst us at the middle class' expense. Who would have thought the Permanent Republican Majority - built from fears of terrorism and politicization of the DOJ - would end up discrediting the Republican Brand so thoroughly? Supply Side Economics lays in the wastebasket of discarded ideas, and Drill Baby Drill is almost as dead.  When we get the final stake through that one, it'll be a good day for humanity.

There are two Senate races still outstanding - The First Senate Felon looks like he'll pull off re-election in Alaska, home of the voters that elected Sarah Palin. The Minnesota Senate race is still in recount mode, but the early indications are favorable for the Republican, despite his recent ethics cloud.  Still, I'll keep my fingers crossed on both of these...  I'd love to see the GOP's collective head explode by having to deal with the man that wrote a book titled "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot."