November 29, 2010

Motor Trend Lays the Smackdown on Rush Limbaugh

So Motor Trend Magazine voted the 2011 Chevy Volt as car of the year. That’s not a huge surprise, considering the innovative technology that’s gone into the vehicle and has helped bring it to fruition over it’s long long development cycle. The car is, in many ways, another hybrid on the market, which Chevy won’t shy away from, but the fact of the matter is that this hybrid is electric first and gas second; charges really quickly for an electric vehicle, and lays the groundwork for more and better hybrid technologies in the coming years. All that and it gets amazing mileage, doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases as long as you’re driving all-electric, is low-emissions when you use gas, and it great for the environment.

Who wouldn’t like that?

Oh wait, Republicans and conservatives. If it doesn’t destroy the planet, dirty our air and water, and leave behind a barren wasteland for our children to deal with while they line their pockets with our money, they’re not interested.

And who speaks for them? Of course – Rush Limbaugh – regardless of whether conservatives like to think he speaks for them, he does, and he called out the Chevy Volt with a shotgun barrage of half-truths and outright falsehoods that to any half-trained or skeptical ear would prove that he’s never even SEEN the vehicle, much less driven one or bothered to educate himself on its operation, design, and build process. But hey – the far right has never let a little thing like education get in the way of their pontificating.

So what does Motor Trend do? Respond in glorious fashion, making sure that Rush knows exactly where he stands, and that the public knows what the truth about the Volt really is. They pick Limbaugh apart piece by piece in a glorious open letter to him that includes this gem:

Just remember: driving and Oxycontin don’t mix.

I really hope they don’t make him apologize for that – that’s absolutely brilliant.

Here’s some of the meat of the article’s opener, for good measure:

You said, “Folks, of all the cars, no offense, General Motors, please, but of all the cars in the world, the Chevrolet Volt is the Car of the Year? Motor Trend magazine, that’s the end of them. How in the world do they have any credibility? Not one has been sold. The Volt is the Car of the Year.”

So, Mr. Limbaugh; you didn’t enjoy your drive of our 2011 Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Volt? Assuming you’ve been anywhere near the biggest automotive technological breakthrough since … I don’t know, maybe the self-starter, could you even find your way to the front seat? Or are you happy attacking a car that you’ve never even seen in person?

Last time you ranted about the Volt, you got confused about the “range,” and said on the air that the car could be driven no more than 40 miles at a time, period. At least you stayed away from that issue this time, but you continue to attack it as the car only a tree hugging, Obama-supporting Government Motors customer would want. As radio loudmouths like you would note, none of those potential customers were to be found after November 2.

Back to us for a moment, our credibility, Mr. Limbaugh, comes from actually driving and testing the car, and understanding its advanced technology. It comes from driving and testing virtually every new car sold, and from doing this once a year with all the all-new or significantly improved models all at the same time. We test, make judgments and write about things we understand.

Absolutely glorious.

[ Rush to Judgement ]
Source: Motor Week Blog

November 22, 2010

GOP Rep Promises to Hold Middle Class Tax Cuts Hostage–Unless the Rich Get a Permanent Break

Seriously, read that headline and think hard about it – now you know who the GOP represents in Congress. Not the angry, disillusioned, ignorant Tea Partiers who voted them in, and not you or I or anyone else in the reality-based community: they represent the millionaires who line their pockets, wine and dine them on the backs of the American people, and who shovel money into their campaign funds in return for the earmarks and pet projects and contracts that the GOP says they’re so opposed to but will likely flinch over.

So this is what it’s come to – if you’ve ever wondered if there’s really a class war in America, this is it, and sadly, there are a number of wealthy Americans who see this for what it is and are begging Congress to raise their taxes.

But no – the GOP claims that they’re doing us all a favor by hand-feeding more caviar to the rich while the middle class can’t afford to stay in their homes and small businesses can’t afford to hire even if they want to, so this is the result:

The Republican rich-people bias isn’t exactly a shocker, but finally someone’s had the gall to spell it out. In a speech to the pro-business Tax Council, House Rep. David Camp said that the Dem’s middle-class tax extensions–permanent breaks for those earning $200,000 or less, with temporary extensions on the wealthy–would be blocked during the lame-duck session unless the rich get the same permanent extensions. Wait–he’s demanding the rich get equal treatment as the middle class?

Sad, isn’t it?

[ GOP Rep Promises to Hold Middle Class Tax Cuts Hostage–Unless the Rich Get a Permanent Break ]
Source: AlterNet

November 15, 2010

One Million Reasons the Millionaire Bailout is a Bad Idea

Cracks are starting to show that President Obama and Congressional Democrats may flinch on the issue of the Bush-era tax cuts for the super-wealthy, and let them become permenent instead of allowing them to expire into the nothingness that they should be – they did nothing for the economy when they were passed, despite the loving praise that Republicans lavished on them when they gleefully passed them when they had majorities in the House and the Senate, and Americans didn’t see a single job created thanks to them.

Now, Republicans are claiming that if their best friends don’t get to continue to enjoy the disproportionate tax breaks and the fact that even without them the wealthy have the smallest tax burden they’ve ever had in the United States, second only to the absolute poorest among us, the sky will fall and the economy will grind to a halt.

They may have some leverage there actually – you do have to wonder why so many businesses have decided to only hire very very slowly over the past two years, and why so many businesses are suddenly interested in squeezing as much as they can possibly get from their current employees rather than bring on new ones. Everyone’s trying to hold the government accountable for job growth, but no one seems willing to hold the millionaires and the business owners accountable – the people who are shredding resumes by the thousand. And as illogical as that seems, Tea Party thugs and Republicans of multiple stripes are interested in giving these same people tax breaks, rewarding them for their gross mistreatment of the rest of America.

The folks at MoveOn.org are collecting a list of reasons why the Millionaire tax breaks are a bad idea. I encourage you to submit your own:

[ One Million Reasons the Millionaire Bailout is a Bad Idea ]
Source: MoveOn.org

November 9, 2010

Letter to a Whiny Young Democrat

One of the best pieces of post-election coverage that I’ve seen came from the San Francisco Chronicle, and was titled Letter to a Whiny Young Democrat; which lambasted progressive slacktivists who, instead of making sure they turn out to the polls each and every election like they should if they want to see true progressive motion in our country, stayed at home grumbling because Barack Obama hasn’t made the sky rain money and candy bars just yet and everyone isn’t holding hands singing yet.

Because I simply can’t cut up the op-ed, here’s the whole thing with all credit to the Chronicle and the piece’s author, Mark Morford:

Oh, now you’ve done it.

See? You see what happens when you young liberal voters get so disgruntled and disillusioned that you drop all your party’s newborn, hard-won ideas about Hopeâ„¢ and Changeâ„¢, without any patience, without really giving them sufficient time to mature, without understanding that hugely foreign, anti-American concept known as “the long view”?

See what happens when you wallow in hollow disappointment, trudging all over your liberal arts campus and refusing to vote in a rather important mid-term election, all because your pet issues and nubile ego weren’t immediately serviced by a mesmerizing guy named Barack Obama just after he sucked you into his web of fuzzyhappy promises a mere two years ago, back when you were knee-high to a shiny liberal ideology?

Well, now you know. This is what happens: The U.S. House of Representatives, the most insufferable gaggle of political mongrels this side of, well, the rest of Congress, reverts to GOP control like a brain tumor reverts to a more aggressive form of cancer, and everything gets bleaker and sadder and, frankly, a whole lot nastier.

What happens is: Many kinds of fragmented, muddled, but still constructive Democratic progress might get stopped quite nearly dead, and even a few pieces of legislation we actually did gain get slapped around, threatened, stomped on the head like a scientist at a Rand Paul rally. Happy now?

Check it out, kiddo: This is not just any Republican party you allowed back into power; these mealy folks are not anything like the war-hungry, Bush-tainted army of flying monkeys and Dick Cheney moose knuckles you so wonderfully helped bury in the history books last election.

No, the GOP of 2010-2011 is even weirder, dumber, less interested in anything you even remotely care about; this GOP is infused like a sour cocktail with a bitter splash of the most cartoonish, climate change-denying Tea Party dingbats imaginable — most of whom think you’re an elitist, terrorist-loving, gay-supporting threat to “real” American values, btw — all led by a guy named Boehner who wears a bizarre, shellacked tan so fake and creepy it makes Nancy Pelosi looks like a supermodel.

And you made it all happen. Or rather, you failed to prevent it from happening, by not voting, by turning your collective back on Obama’s tough love, by getting all whiny and dejected like some sort of sullen teen vampire who can’t get laid.

Do you deny it? Did you see the polls and studies that said that most fresh-faced, Obama-swooning Dems like you are now refusing to support our beloved Nazi Muslim president because he didn’t wish-fulfill your every whim in a week? That he was, in fact, not quite the instant-gratification SuperJesus of your (or rather, our) dreams?

Of course you didn’t see any of that. Hell, I bet you’re not even reading this column right now. You’re probably back on Twitter, raging into the Void about, hell, who knows what? The Wolf Parade concert. Angry Birds. The People of Wal-Mart. Anything but politics, really.

But hey, whatevs, right? Screw it. Screw him. After all, the prez let you down. Conveniently “forgot” to include you in the dialogue, after a major election that you helped him win. Where were the outreach programs? The campus speaking tours? Weekly appearances on “The Daily Show”? Legal pot and gay marriage and discounts tickets to SXSW and Burning Man and Coachella? I want my goddamn political perks, and I want them now.

Hey, I understand. We’re an instant gratification culture, and you’re an ADHD generation. Who wants to hear that serious enviro legislation might take a decade or two to fully come to fruition? Who wants to hear about Obama passing rather amazing student loan reform? Or even financial reform? Or health care, the Iraq drawdown, saving a million jobs at GM, or all the rest of his rather astonishing achievements to date? Dude, so boring.

Of course, you’ve now learned the hard way that the hot flush of a major election is far more electrifying than the gray n’ meaty grind of actual governing. Obama flew into office on gossamer liberal wings, but the real halls of D.C. are a goddamn pigsblood slaughterhouse, brutal and depressing, full of gnarled legislative compromise. Screw that noise, you know?

And you know what? You’re right. Well, sort of. The Obama administration sure as hell could’ve done more to keep young activists inspired and involved. It’s an opportunity squandered, no question. Then again, dude was sorta busy unburying the entire nation, you know? And the twitchy Democratic party has never been known for its savvy cohesion. Maybe you can give him/them a break? Whoops, too late.

Look, I’m sorry. I know I’m being far too hard on you. Of course it’s not just you. It’s not completely your fault these dimwit Repubs were allowed to ooze back into a bit of power so soon. As many analysts have pointed out, this wasn’t a vote for the Republicans, but against the limp-wristed Dems who didn’t step up and lead with more authority and clarity of purpose. Truly, libs and independents of every age are frustrated Obama isn’t governing with the same kind of magical, balls-out visionary zeal that fueled his campaign.

And let’s not forget a shockingly unintelligent Tea Party movement that stands for exactly nothing and fears exactly everything, all ghost-funded by a couple of creepy libertarian oil billionaires — the leathery old Koch brothers — who eat their young for a snack. Who could’ve predicted that gnarled political contraption would hold water? But hey, when Americans are angry and nervous, they do stupid things. Like vote Republican. It happens. Just did.

But here’s your big takeaway, young Dem: It ain’t over yet. The 2012 election is just around the corner. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that two years whip by insanely quickly. Anything can happen, and usually does. You’ll have another chance. And probably another after that. Maybe more.

So here’s what you need to know, right now: Barack Obama is, and will continue to be, a bit of goddamn miracle. He’s simply as good as we’re going get for an articulate, thoughtful, integrity-rich Democratic prez in your lifetime. Period. To hamstring his administration out of spite and laziness is childish and sad. Check the accomplishments. Understand the process. Deal with the messiness.

It will never be perfect. It will never be giddy liberal nirvana, because it doesn’t work that way. Politics is corrosive and infuriating, de facto and by definition, even with someone as thoughtful as Obama in the Big Chair. Understand it. Deal with it. Get back in the game. If you don’t, we all lose.

Your choice, kiddo.

Absolutely fabulous, from top to bottom.

I know a lot of people take offense to being lambasted this way, and will inevitably claim that the tone of the article is too harsh and will drive people away from following politics and the political process, not wake them up to how important it is to participate. Frankly, I think we’re definitely at the point where we’ve been rewarded for participation in the process and now we need to be reminded that it is indeed a process – not an game of instant returns. It’s a process and we all need to keep participating, and we all need to keep fighting, or else what happened here will continue to happen.

[ Letter to a Whiny Young Democrat ]
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

November 8, 2010

7 Reasons the GOP’s House Takeover was No “Wave”

All the credit goes to the folks at AlterNet for this one, but while many people are sitting back and wailing about the loss of the House to the Republicans as something catastrophic, the one thing you won’t hear anyone but the Republicans themselves saying is that they have some kind of mandate to reduce spending and create jobs – two things that are all but impossible to do since employing people involves spending money on those people. As usual, the instant the Republicans and their tea party friends win a few elections, they’re back to their Bush Era paradoxical talk and impossible promises – after all, those promises and paradoxes are what got them elected.

A lot of good Democrats lost in the House, but in some cases I don’t regret their losing – Blue Dog Democrats who caucused with the Dems but voted with the Repubs, or who held up critical legislation in order to push their own semi-centrist agenda won’t be missed. This is a rallying call for the Democrats who remain to trust in their progressive base and go on the attack, and make sure the American people know loud and clear who’s responsible when the improvements already in place either start to stall, or when one of those new Tea Party freaks does something stupid, says something racist/sexist/homophobic, and inevitably gets busted taking money from the private industries whose boots they lick.

Perhaps the only loss I’m really mourning is the Senate seat of Russ Feingold – the one Senator who voted against the Patriot Act, the one Senator who truly appreciated and respected the rights and civil liberties of the American people, voted out and replaced with a car salesman who bought his way into the Senate with a ridiculous amount of money. Just goes to show you where the Tea Party heads are at, doesn’t it?

So they’re in the House now with a ridiculously slim majority, no majority in the Senate, and an agenda that includes something like repealing Health Care reform, which I would almost be happy to see them try to do – they’re going to need a whole lot more votes to do that, and any effort they make to try and pull people in front of Congress to talk about the new health care laws, the more the American people will see what it does for them, so good luck with that.

Regardless, over at AlterNet, there’s an excellent list of 7 reasons why this was anything but a “wave,” and nothing compared to the 08 elections, and while it’s worrysome in many ways, it’s nothing that progressives can’t rally against – and we all should. Here are a couple of highlights:

We thought a little perspective was in order, so without further preamble, here are seven things progressives should keep in mind after Tuesday’s drubbing:

1. Midterm elections, unlike presidential races, are a collection of low-turnout, localized contests rather than a barometer of the nation’s ideological tilt.

The GOP’s gains in last night’s elections, as Rosenberg notes, “are part of the predictable rebalancing that occurs between presidential elections, rather than ideological shifts in the electorate.”

2. The electorate is hopping mad, but they still dislike Republicans. A month before an election that has swept some rather extreme GOPers into Congress, an Associated Press-GfK Poll found that “60 percent disapprove of the job congressional Democrats are doing — yet 68 percent frown on how Republicans are performing.”

A New York Times/CBS News poll last week found that while a majority of Americans voted GOP yesterday, the electorate “continues to have a more favorable opinion of the Democratic Party than of the Republican Party, with 46 percent favoring Democrats and 41 favoring Republicans.”

This will be the third consecutive year in which the party out of power wins. That’s not a measure of the country’s ideological leanings, it’s a sign that people are hurting and are mad as hell about it (in case one needed such a sign).

3. Blue Dogs took the brunt of it. The loss of Wisconsin’s liberal lion, Russ Feingold, is a blow to the progressive movement. Alan Grayson’s defeat in Florida hurts. Other good lawmakers were booted out of office last night as well. But in many cases, what we saw were conservatives with Ds next to their names replaced with conservatives with Rs.

I’ll leave the others – really good ones, I might add, to you to head over and check out.

[ It’s Not the End of the World — 7 Things Progressives Need to Keep in Mind About Last Night’s GOP ‘Wave’ ]
Source: AlterNet