Comedian Bill Maher explained Friday evening how his insults towards former President George W. Bush were less disrespectful than conservatives’ behavior towards President Barack Obama.
Maher particularly highlighted Arizona Governor Jan Brewer sticking her finger in Obama’s face a few weeks back as the latest example of a growing trend. The Real Time host discussed how he wouldn’t insult Bush if he were near him unlike conservatives’ decorum with the current executive chief.
“Something unprecedented is happening with the way conservatives are disrespecting this president,” Maher said. “And I’m not talking about mere words uttered hundreds of thousands of miles away. Sean Hannity can say anything that he wants. No one looks to him as a model human being, or even a human being.”
“Of course I’m very guilty and actually proud of innumerable insults to former President Bush, calling him ‘a rube, a cypher, a shit kicker, a yokel on the world stage, a catastrophe that walks like a man, the cowboy from toy story, Drinky McDumbass, and President Larry The Cable Guy.’ But I wouldn’t call him that to his face, and that is the difference.”
As next month’s deadline nears for the Obama administration to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, interest groups on both sides have launched aggressive campaigns aimed at swaying public opinion.
The American Petroleum Institute, the nation’s largest oil lobby, has launched a television advertising blitz in the Midwest and in the District urging voters to tell the White House they support the plan to transport crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Environmentalists are planning a Capitol Hill rally later this month to take aim at Republicans and the institute.
The pipeline, which requires a federal permit from the State Department because it crosses an international border, has been under review for more than three years.
In early November, the administration delayed making a national interest determination on the pipeline on the grounds that it needed to avoid crossing sensitive terrain in Nebraska’s Sandhills region. At the time, officials predicted that the process of rerouting the pipeline and the subsequent environmental review would extend the permitting process into early 2013.
Environmentalists note that in December 2010, according to Boehner’s financial disclosure forms, he invested $10,000 to $50,000 each in seven firms that had a stake in Canada’s oil sands, the region that produces the oil the pipeline would transport. The firms include six oil companies — BP, Canadian Natural Resources, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Devon Energy and Exxon — along with Emerson Electric, which has a contract to provide the digital automation for the first phase of a $9.4 billion Horizon Oil Sands Project in Canada.
Bill McKibben, a climate activist and co-founder of the group 350.org, wrote in an e-mail that Boehner has received more than $1 million from fossil-fuel companies, “and now we find out that he’s got extensive personal investments in companies dependent on tarsands oil.”
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?
1980: Ronald Reagan runs for president, promising a balanced budget
1981 – 1989: With support from congressional Republicans, Reagan runs enormous deficits, adds $2 trillion to the debt.
1993: Bill Clinton passes economic plan that lowers deficit, gets zero votes from congressional Republicans.
1998: U.S. deficit disappears for the first time in three decades. Debt clock is unplugged.
2000: George W. Bush runs for president, promising to maintain a balanced budget.
2001: CBO shows the United States is on track to pay off the entirety of its national debt within a decade.
2001 – 2009: With support from congressional Republicans, Bush runs enormous deficits, adds nearly $5 trillion to the debt.
2002: Dick Cheney declares, “Deficits don’t matter.” Congressional Republicans agree, approving tax cuts, two wars, and Medicare expansion without even trying to pay for them.
2009: Barack Obama inherits $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush; Republicans immediately condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.
2009: Congressional Democrats unveil several domestic policy initiatives —including health care reform, cap and trade, DREAM Act — which would lower the deficit. GOP opposes all of them, while continuing to push for deficit reduction.
September 2010: In Obama’s first fiscal year, the deficit shrinks by $122 billion. Republicans again condemn Obama’s fiscal irresponsibility.
October 2010: S&P endorses the nation’s AAA rating with a stable outlook, saying the United States looks to be in solid fiscal shape for the foreseeable future.
November 2010: Republicans win a U.S. House majority, citing the need for fiscal responsibility.
December 2010: Congressional Republicans demand extension of Bush tax cuts, relying entirely on deficit financing. GOP continues to accuse Obama of fiscal irresponsibility.
March 2011: Congressional Republicans declare intention to hold full faith and credit of the United States hostage — a move without precedent in American history — until massive debt-reduction plan is approved.
July 2011: Obama offers Republicans a $4 trillion debt-reduction deal. GOP refuses, pushes debt-ceiling standoff until the last possible day, rattling international markets.
August 2011: S&P downgrades U.S. debt, citing GOP refusal to consider new revenues. Republicans rejoice and blame Obama for fiscal irresponsibility.
There have been several instances since the mid 1990s in which I genuinely believed Republican politics couldn’t possibly get more blisteringly ridiculous. I was wrong; they just keep getting worse.
Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.
After they took power in January, the hard-line Republicans who dominate the House reached for a radical overhaul of American government, hoping to unravel the social safety net, cut taxes further for the wealthy and strip away regulation of business. Fortunately, thanks to defensive tactics by Democrats, they failed to achieve most of their agenda.
But they still did significant damage in 2011 to many of the most important functions of government, and particularly to investments in education, training and transportation that the country will need for a sound economic recovery.
This spending category has been the main focus of Republican pressure for decades. In the 1970s, nondefense discretionary spending represented about 5 percent of the gross domestic product; that is now down to about 2.5 percent. Over the next decade, once the new cuts go into effect, it will decline to less than 2 percent. This year’s spending bill, signed into law a few days ago, is roughly 10 percent lower than last year’s, cutting Pell grants, environmental programs and aid to desperate states. Low-income heating assistance was cut by 25 percent.
As the economist Jared Bernstein has noted, this is the category of spending that helps people move up the income ladder, providing nutritious food, improving early education and job training and putting people to work.
The precise cuts on individual programs will be determined each year by appropriators acting under the new caps. Each year’s cuts will be more painful than the last because the spending limits fail to keep pace with population growth, inflation and the needs of the economy.
This situation is the result of the Republicans’ success at shifting Washington’s focus from job creation and revenue increases to deficit reduction, at exactly the wrong time, when the economy was too weak to handle it.
The long-term deficit needs to be reduced once economic growth has returned, but only in the context of higher taxes for the rich and a careful restructuring of Medicare. Even if the Bush tax cuts expire on time, much of the $3.8 trillion that that would bring in over a decade would have to be used for deficit reduction if the caps stay in place.
Congressional approval ratings are on the rocks, hovering in or near single digits for the first time since pollsters started measuring them. But just how bad is the current congressional stalemate?
Thomas Mann, senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, is working on a book about Congress with a title that provides a succinct answer: It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.
In modern history, Mann says, “there have been battles, delays, brinkmanship — but nothing quite like this.”
The book, written with co-author Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute, is a follow-up to a 2006 book by the pair called The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track.
Mann acknowledges there have been worse times for Congress, but he reaches back a very long way for a comparison.
“There were a few really bruising periods in American congressional history, not only the run-up to the Civil War, but also around the War of 1812,” he says.
Later in the article…
Mann isn’t the only one dusting off the history books for an analog to the current impasse.
“I think you’d have to go back to the 1850s to find a period of congressional dysfunction like the one we’re in today,” says Daniel Feller, a professor of U.S. history at the University of Tennessee.
Shortly after gaining the House of Representatives in 2010 the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, made the welcome claim that the primary purpose of the Republican Party was to increase employment. His exact words were:
“We’re going to have a relentless focus on creating jobs.”
The following, therefore, is a chronological list of legislative activities by the GOP beginning 2-10-2011. I’m sorry to report that none, so far, have resulted in a single new job being created in America.
(Note: I began this list as sort of a joke. That it has reached its currently imposing length without one anecdotal citation of new employment is astonishing.)
A good site to check out!
Despite the last-minute cave led by a couple of freshmen, the impressions left were deep: the GOP was willing to risk raising taxes on 160 million Americans on Jan. 1. Some happy holiday message. The victim was clear— the middle class. The villain is also clear: those e-e-e-vil Republicans. And the hero is the president who appeared reasonable as he remained removed from the fray, the professor behind the curtains.