Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I wonder how the Israeli's handle it

And all the other sane countries to which the USA has finally added itself in allowing open gay service in the military.

Also, too, Massachusett's teabaggers apparently weren't happy with Scotty Pickup Truck Brown's support in the Senate for ending DADT. Maybe Christine O'Donnell can move to the Bay State and run in its teatard primary thus subtracting another Senate seat from the Republican column.

Also, too, teabaggers don't care about social issues, etc.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Forget Slavery For A Minute

Even if southern secession had not been based entirely on the rights of white men to own black men, which it was, why would the act of southern secession still be worth celebrating?

Isn't secession, the abandonment of the union, the ultimate rejection of the American national state, just plain old fashioned treason? Would it be if only northern states had seceded?

I can see the purpose and interest in a remembering of the people and events surrounding secession and the Civil War. But to celebrate a rejection of the country and flag that today's conservatives loudly proclaim to value and defend? What's worse is the tendency of today's conservatives to brand themselves as the only true "patriots" in the country while insinuating that liberals fail to express adequate devotion". Total chutzpah.

Democratic Idiocy on Taxes

Tax cuts for everyone forever:

Perhaps more consequential at the moment are the Democrats' intra-party negotiations over the Bush tax cuts. House leadership is still looking to hold a standalone vote on the tax cuts for income under $250,000. But some in the Senate -- including Chuck Schumer, Bob Menendez, and Claire McCaskill -- are pushing a compromise that would extend $400 billion of the $700 billion in tax cuts for income above $250,000 by extending them for everyone making less than $1,000,000. So those struggling members of the middle class making between $250,001 and $999,999 will get their tax cuts, too, and Democrats will have extended about $3.6 trillion of the $4 trillion in Bush tax cuts, or 90 percent of the total.

If that's the ultimate agreement we see on the Bush tax cuts, it'll be worth taking a moment to appreciate how far Democrats have backslid on this issue since BIll Clinton. Clinton, of course, raised taxes in the face of large deficits. The Obama campaign, by contrast, swore not to raise taxes on any family making less than $250,000, and Democrats might now effectively raise that to $1,000,000. In setting up the expectation that taxes can't go up for anyone but millionaires, Democrats take most of them off the table. And given that Republicans have no interest in taxes, either, that basically removes them as a tool of fiscal policy going forward.

This is embarrassing. And completely nonsensical.

Senate Passes Food Safety Bill

Senate actually does some good. Although Glenn Beck's disciples don't like the bill because...

As with any business regulation, opponents protest that "it'll hurt small business/farms." As if we should allow small farms to poison us. But apparently, George Soros has single-handedly thwarted the Faux media complex in getting this bill passed.

This might be the best news we have for a long time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Caught Off Guard

Obama re-nominates a conservative chairman of the Federal Reserve, nominated previously under a conservative president, who, because U.S. unemployment is generously listed at about 10%, is finally taking some action to fulfill the institution's mandate for full employment, is feeling the wrath of President Palin and her teatard followers in the Faux media:

WASHINGTON — Faced with unusually sharp ideological attacks after its latest bid to stimulate the economy, the Federal Reserve now faces a challenge far removed from the conduct of monetary policy: how to defend itself in a hyperpartisan environment without becoming overtly political.

Caught off guard by accusations from Congressional Republicans, Sarah Palin, Tea Party activists and conservative economists, the central bank and its chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, are pushing back, making their case on substantive grounds but also haltingly adopting the tactics of Washington battle, like strategically placed interviews, behind-the-scenes assuaging of opponents and reaching out to potential allies on Capitol Hill.

The stakes are high. Last week, one House conservative announced legislation to strip the Fed of its mandate to promote jobs and have it focus solely on containing inflation.

The attacks, coupled with criticism from foreign officials, have introduced enough uncertainty into global financial markets to potentially undercut the Fed’s plan to drive down interest rates, which rise or fall as investors anticipate Fed action.


Mr. Bernanke, who had thought the worst was behind him, was unsettled by the suddenness of the recent attacks. He has said that the Fed was in a no-win situation; if it had not acted, it would have been criticized for ignoring the painfully slow pace of the recovery.

This is really quite astounding. The conservative position is now that no branch or institution of the federal government should have to address the problem of unemployment.

This seems like a pretty big fekin deal

Sebellius's Department of Health and Human Services issues new health insurance regs:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration issued new federal rules on Monday that will require many health insurance companies to spend more on medical care and allocate less to profits, executive compensation, marketing and overhead expenses.

The rules, intended to benefit consumers, vastly expand federal authority to direct the use of premiums collected by companies like Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealth and WellPoint. While some states have had such requirements, Monday’s announcement is the first such mandate by the federal government and grows out of the new national health care law.

“Millions of Americans will get better value for their health insurance premium dollar,” Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said in issuing the rules.

Ms. Sebelius said the rules would protect nearly 75 million people: 10.6 million with individual policies, 24.2 million with small-group coverage and 40 million covered by large employers.

Starting next year, she said, insurers in the individual and small-group markets must spend at least 80 percent of their premium revenues on medical care and activities to improve the quality of care. Insurers in the large-group market must spend at least 85 percent of premium dollars for those purposes.

Insurers that do not meet the standards next year will have to pay rebates to consumers, starting in 2012. Ms. Sebelius estimated that up to nine million people could get rebates worth up to $1.4 billion. About 45 percent of people with individually purchased insurance are in health plans that do not meet the new standards, known as medical loss ratios, federal officials said.

I can't wait for the hysterical freak out by the teatards.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Stripping the FED

The Media Villagers, through the pen of spokesman George Will (Washington Post station, no linky), have begun jumping on the Hell No Quantitative Easing! bandwagon. With 10% unemployment, zero percent inflation, and a Federal Reserve that possesses the Congressionally-set mandate to ensure Full Employment (which it has heretofore done little to nothing), our new teabagging elite, from Sarah Palin to Eric Cantor to Fred Hyatt's crayon scribble page, instead wants the Fed to cease and desist?

So all of sudden the Fed isn't supposed to do anything about high unemployment? When did this happen? How did this suddenly become acceptable discourse, let alone conventional economic wisdom?

So our institutions are basically not supposed to respond to economic emergencies now?

To make this all the more bizarre, Fred Hyatt's crayon scribble page also includes, next to Will's Hell No QE! column an even more bizarre rant from the Media Village Dean, David Broder (no linky, trust me, it's just a bad column), complaining because the Dems have...added a third leadership member in the House when the loss of the House majority was supposed to result in them only having two. And that this atrocity amounts to the Dems "changing the rules" and not "making the hard choices" in regards to the 2009 stimulus bill and HCR, which Broder apparently hated.

I can't make sense of it. It shoudl be a fun next two years.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Social Security, Dems Should Take The Deal

President Obama's deficit commission released its preliminary proposals yesterday, which include changes to Social Security. While I can't applaud the commission's broader tax and spending proposals, Democrats should welcome the commission's Social Security options. The Social Security changes include:

1) an increase in the "tax max"--the amount of taxes subject to Social Security taxes;
2)a new, wage-indexed, special minimum benefit for lifelong low earners;
3)an additional minimum benefit for the oldest Social Security beneficiaries, to kick in later in retirement;
4)a slight reduction in the annual cost of living adjustment (COLA);
5)a slight reduction in the benefit formula that will only affect those with higher than average earnings; and
6)a very gradual increase in the full retirement age (FRA) from 67 to 69.

Of these, only the FRA change can be considered as "regressive", but it's by no means a radical proposal, and there are several minimum benefit sweetners to make sure the lowest lifetime earners aren't adversely affected.

But why agree even to these? Because it isn't going to get better. A poorer performing economy means the estimated exhaustion date for Social Security's Trust Fund, currently projected to be 2037, will in all likelihood, only continue to creep closer. And the longer a long term fix is put off, the worse the fixes will need to be. Besides this, we can't know what the political climate will be in six, ten or 18 years. Quite possibly, it could well be worse than today.

This Social Security package would restore long term solvency, go a long way towards protecting it from would-be privatizers, and enhance benefits for the lowest lifetime earners through two new provisions. It also includes a tax max increases, which progressives tend to support. The benefit formula reduction--which some Progressives erroneously liken to "means-testing"--is actually just an extension of the already existing progressive benefit structure. This criticism seems particularly odd coming from progressives who normally want the more well to do to bear the brunt of any Social Security fixes. Progressives can't clamor for higher payroll taxes or higher limits to the "tax max" while simultaneously criticizing benefit reductions that affect higher-than-average earners. In short, this is overall a pretty progressive package of changes to the program, which Progressives and Democrats should support.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The point of being in Congress is to actually do good stuff

This seems like kind of an important point:

To me it seems obvious that having the 111th Congress press hard to get big things done was the right call, even if it contributed to electoral defeat. This is especially true because as I said yesterday you need to do the analysis at the margin. Losing 65 House seats is way worse than losing zero House seats. But dropping the Affordable Care Act wouldn’t have saved 65 House seats. Maybe it would have saved 15. But that’s not nearly as big a deal. The reason you try to win elections is it gives you the chance to pass important laws, so saying you want to avoid passing laws in order to slightly reduce your midterm losses seems silly.

Yglesias goes on to quote conservative writer Ross Douthat:

Politics often gets covered as though the legislative sessions are just a long prelude to the real action of election season. But for all the breathless horse-race coverage, elections only matter to the extent that they produce (or forestall) actual legislation. And where the policies of the United States government are concerned, all the ground the Republicans regained tonight doesn’t change the fact that what liberals achieved in Barack Obama’s first two years in office was more consequential than any conservative victories in recent memory.

So, the point of being in Congress and holding majorities in Congress is to actually get good legislation that helps people passed. The point of being in Congress and holding majorities in Congress is not to just keep being in Congress and holding majorities in Congress the next time. Hopefully the no-guts, no brains assclowns muttering about Nancy Pelosi will figure that out.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


Even though the Democrats got shellacked in the U.S. House, I'm feeling much better today than maybe I should. At the moment it appears that the Democrats will hold the Senate with a 53-47 edge. If Republicans had not nominated teabaggers in several key states, we would be looking at a Democratic minority in the Senate as well. And locally, Maryland Democratic candidates generally did really well.

But the House losses were huge and it will take several more cycles, and probably a lot of bad legislation, to reverse those. And the Democratic's hold over the Senate may be short-lived because they will need to defend more tough seats in '12. So, it's possible that even though last night's vote prevented an outbreak of full-blown-crazy, it might only be a temporary salve, especially if the economy does not improve significantly or if there is another significant terrorist attack.

Nonetheless I was greatly relieved to see Harry Reid win his seat over Sharon Angle. Hopefully, Patty Murray will hang on in Washington State.

I doubt any legislation of consequence will get passed in the next two years. Any that will, will be bad (i.e. extending all of the Bush tax cuts).

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Elsewhere in Maryland

Martin O'Malley cruising to a re-election victory over Bob Ehrlich. This was a closer race at one point, and Ehrlich signs are ubiquitous in my area of central Maryland (above DC, below Baltimore). Maryland, Oh My Maryland. Guess signs don't win elections.

Also too, Frank Kratovil, blue dog "independent" Dem who voted against the HCR bill is losing to the Repub. Kratovil's ads have been all over the tv. Can't feel sorry for this guy. See ya, Frank.

Dems to hold Senate

CNN has the Dems with 47 seats in the Senate (counting the two Independents) with Hawaii, Oregon and California still to close. Assuming the Dems win those three Senate seats, and there aren't any party switches, that would give them 50, with VP Biden providing a tie-breaker. And there's still Murray in Washington and Reid in Nevada in close races. So the Senate looks promising. At least we may forestall the really supercrazy for another two years.

Hoyer could be in trouble (updated below, update II, update III)

The #2 Dem in the House, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer is trailing his Republican opponent 53%-46%, with 14% of the vote in. Still early. But the Repub is an African-American and this is a heavily African American district.

Good Democrat Rush Holt of NJ also trails with about 25% of the vote in.

Update I: CNN is now projecting Hoyer to win, although he still trails 53%-46% with 17% of the vote in. State-wide, the Republican vote tends to come in earlier, but for this district, I don't know.

Update II: 39% of the vote now in and Hoyer way ahead with 65% of the vote. Sorry for the false alarm.

Update III: CNN has now projected that Good Democrat Rush Holt of NJ will retain his House seat. Very good news.

Before the Morning After

I know tonight's going to be bad, but I did a lot of hand-wringing after the ‘94 mid-terms, then again in ’95 when the pundit class told me Clinton was toast, then in ’98when the pundit class wanted Clinton impeached before Dems won seats, then in 2000, then in 2002 when it looked like The War On Terror had Changed Everything, and I doubly wrang my hands again in 2004 when the pundit class told me it was all about the Values Voters. In 2006 the pundit class and my own pessimism had me convinced there was no way the Dems could win Congress again. Then in 2008 I couldn’t believe Americans would elect a black dude with the middle name of Hussein and the last name of Obama.

I wouldn’t worry much about the long-term impact of tonight’s results. It’s a mid-term (see 1982 1994), the economy is really bad (see 1982). If it stays bad, we might have more to worry about.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Profiles in Courage: Kent Conrad, ND

Today's Post:

At a time when many lawmakers are running away from the hated 2008 bank bailout, Sen. Kent Conrad is holding it close - and waging a one-man campaign to rehabilitate the program in the eyes of angry voters.

Over the past week, Conrad, a Democrat from North Dakota, has crisscrossed the state, delivering speeches to college economics classes and lecturing skeptical editorial boards, in addition to making his pitch on national television.

On Thursday morning, thousands of North Dakota newspaper subscribers awoke to a full-page ad with colorful charts and graphs about the improving economy, alongside a vigorous defense of the bailout and the equally reviled 2009 economic stimulus package.

The ad describes the perilous economic conditions that prompted a terrified Congress to approve the $700 billion bailout - officially, the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP - just before the 2008 presidential election. It argues that TARP not only helped save the nation from a full-blown depression but cost much less than expected, with parts of the program turning a small profit.

And it cleverly reminds readers, front and center, that TARP was conceived by a Republican president, who just last week defended it during a lecture at the University of Texas at Tyler.

"President George W. Bush Explains Why He Created TARP," the ad says by way of introducing Bush's remarks, which are highlighted in yellow: "Depression, no depression . . . It wasn't that hard for me . . . I made the decision to use your money to prevent the collapse from happening."

Conrad, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, is not on the ballot this year. And he has not decided whether to seek re-election when his term ends in 2012. So he has little to lose personally from defending the bailout.

Meanwhile, Democrats in North Dakota and nationally are getting hammered over their TARP and stimulus votes. Conrad said his campaign is an effort to help alleviate what he called "the major drag" on Democrats this campaign season.

Voter anger over the programs stems from "a fundamental lack of understanding," Conrad said. "At the time, we absolutely failed to help educate the American people as to how serious the situation was and how essential these steps were."

In addition to a Republican president, his Treasury secretary, his Federal Reserve chairman and Republican congressional leaders, Conrad said, Republican business leaders "came to us in droves" demanding aid for the banks and more liquidity through stimulus.

"Now all of a sudden they've all got amnesia," Conrad said. "But had people not stepped up, we would be in extremely serious shape."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Post's Continued Love Affair with Michelle Rhee and Education "Reform"

I'm sure the Washington, DC schools need improvement, and I'm sure these folks are well-intentioned and quite generous, but this item in The Post's Metro section today is a little creepy.

You've got all these, may I say, Elite folks, throwing money at the DC schools and wanting certain processes put into place as a consequence for giving that money. One can read this article and reasonably conclude that public education policy in DC is being set by a highly select group of private donors. The article does note that Gray and his associates are trying to stress that as happy as they are to receive this money and attention and as committed as they are to school "reform", that there are still the actual parents of kids who go to the schools and residents who pay the taxes for the schools that, you know, actually need to be involved in the process.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

This Is The Dumbest Thing Ever Written

Richard Cohen, Washington Post columnist, come on down.

Those and a general distrust of government are what motivate most Tea Party members, The Post discovered. Their allegiance to any political party is minimal. Obama, with almost no political record, might have made inroads with these people. Instead, he managed to become the personification of Big Government -- not just with his programs (necessary though they might be) but with his persona and isolation in the White House. He banned lobbyists but managed to transform himself into the biggest one of all. He blew it.

Yeah, Obama surely blew it by not finding common ground with this gang.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Very Serious People we should revere

Ruth Marcus in today's Post:

Asked what had inspired her to fly to the capital from Colorado, Andrea Carrasco started with God and ended with light bulbs.

She came, Carrasco said, to "ask God to restore the country. Our freedom is lost. My freedoms are lost. To be able to preach anywhere we want, to have God in our schools, to drive any kind of car we want and if I want to drive a gas guzzler, I can, if I want to eat a lot of sugar and salt, and I shouldn't be forced to buy medical care."

Carrasco paused, but only briefly. "To be able to burn the kind of light bulb I want," she added. "The list goes on."

I'm not aware of any laws preventing anyone from buying the latest gas guzzling SUV on the market, but I guess she hasn't considered that maybe "God" doesn't want her to "drive any kind of car we want."

Like most evangelicals, God seems to exist to indulge her every material desire whether or not such desires deplete scarce natural resources.

She also doesn't want to be "forced to buy medical care". I wonder who she wants to foot the bill when she or one of her rugrats ends up in the emergency room?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Murphy for half-term governor

In her nation-wide endorsement-tour, former half term Alaska governor and current Fauxbot Sarah Palin has endorsed a little known Maryland businessman--Brian Murphy--for governor of The Free State. In snubbing former full-term Republican governor, Robert Ehrich, who is running to regain the office he lost in 2006 to Democrat Martin O'Malley, Palin apparently was convinced that Murphy would follow her lead and abandon his office half way through his term.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Mission Accomplished 2

Bob Herbert is not impressed:

July was the deadliest month yet for American troops in Afghanistan. Sixty-six were killed, which was six more than the number who died in the previous most deadly month, June. The nation is paying little or no attention to those deaths, which is shameful. The president goes to fund-raisers and yuks it up on “The View.” For most ordinary Americans, the war is nothing more than an afterthought.

We’re getting the worst of all worlds in Afghanistan: We’re not winning, and we’re not cutting our tragic losses. Most Americans don’t care because they’re not feeling any of the tragic losses. A tiny, tiny portion of the population is doing the fighting, and those troops are sent into the war zone for tour after tour, as if they’re attached to a nightmarish yo-yo.

Some kind of shared sacrifice is in order, but neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Obama called on Americans to make any real sacrifices in connection with either of these wars. The way to fight a war is to mobilize the country — not just the combat troops — behind an integrated wartime effort. To do that, leaders have to persuade the public that the war is worth fighting, and worth paying for.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Ownership Society

Via Atrios.

I don't think "ownership" means what some policy elites think it means.

Meanwhile, back in The Media Village

I don't watch any of the Sunday talking head shows. But, and maybe even because of this, I can't for the life of me fathom what lies underneath the Washington Post's "TV Critic"'s smear of new This Week host, Christiana Amanpour.

"...the Grand Duchess Amanpour approached on her royal barge from overseas."

Grand Duchess?


And it didn't require any globe-trotting Fancy-Pants (Amanpour) to do it.

Globe-trotting Fancy-Pants?

Does the Washington Post have people who edit, or at least review, what it plans to print?

Shale's good old boy, America F*ck Yeah sympathies were also apparently slighted by this:

Perhaps in keeping with the newly globalized program, the commendable "In Memoriam" segment ended with a tribute not to American men and women who died in combat during the preceding week but rather, said Amanpour in her narration, in remembrance of "all of those who died in war" in that period. Did she mean suggest that our mourning extend to members of the Taliban?

Oh, I don't know. Maybe Ananpour was thinking of the women, children, and other unarmed people killed by our drones or by Driving While a Citizen in one of the dozen or so countries the U.S. is current occupying. By for Shales, and apparently the Washington Post, the world only consists of Our Men & Women In The Military and The Terrorists. And wasn't referring to Americans killed overseas used to be some kind of defeatism?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jeffersonian "Independence"

Conservative think tank welfare recipient, Faux pundit and apparent crack smoker Michael Barone thinks the nation is moving away from "the redistributional policies of progressives towards America's traditional 'culture of independence' " and that the nation is becoming "once again, as in the days of the early republic and not in the heyday of the Progressives and New Dealers, a republic of property owners."

Well. Uwe Reinhardt highlights retirement income data to challenge this idea.

Meanwhile, just a few minutes on the Intertubes this morning yielded these items of interest:

Recession was deeper than government previously thought
How the older half lives
How bad is Nevada?

So, (1) the economy continues to suck; (2) fewer people are saving for retirement, more of the aged are living alone and there will be more aged and alone people in the future, a majority of whom depend on government Social Security for their income and (3) the economy continues to suck, and this "republic of property owners" contains a lot of property without owners.

So, yeah, great "culture of independence" you got there. At least the top quintile is doing pretty well, and they're the group Barone hangs around with and thinks about.

On a more positive note, early returns on the much derided government directed automaker bailouts are good:

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, was asked if the administration was in effect saying “we told you so” to conservative critics like Rush Limbaugh who have continued to denounce the auto bailout.

Some wanted to walk away, Mr. Gibbs said. But he added, “The president didn’t think that walking away from a million jobs in these communities made a lot of economic sense.”

Barone needs to get out more.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Putting the Teabaggers on notice

Guest-blogging at Andrew Sullivan's place, Dave Weigel thinks the fact that the NAACP's resolution calling for the teabaggers to repudiate the racists in their midst generated a series of nasty responses from the teabaggers means that the NAACP's resolution failed.

Weigel thinks the proper means of calling attention to the racism in the teabagging bowel movement is to...what? I don't know.

Unlike Weigel I think the NAACP's resolution succeeded. It got the teabaggers to respond in an ugly, defensive way, and getting the media to talk about it. The resolution was also a means of putting the teabaggers on notice. Anytime the teabaggers want to invite the Tom Tancredo's of the world to their meetings and applaud their calls for literacy tests and as long as their leaders continue to be like Mark Williams who hate on the NAACP and write ugly, racist mock letters trying to tell African-Americans what's good for them, the wider media and political world will be forced to consider the teabagging bowel movement's true character. And if they don't, the NAACP is on record for making the group's racism visible.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Besides passing HCR, Wall Street reform and reviving the U.S. Auto Industry, what have the Romans/Obama Administration ever done for us?

There's been a great deal of blog-chatter about the State of Obama lately, with its defenders offering the passage of HCR, the stimulus, financial reform, energy legislation in the House, etc, and its detractors complaining about the inadequacies of much of the accomplishments, not to mention the Administration's war, civil liberties and civil rights policies being mostly lacking.

One thing I don't hear much discussion of (besides conservative complaints about it being a bailout or takeover of the industry) has been the survival, if not outright revival, of the U.S. auto industry, particularly that of Chrysler and GM. When the Obama Administration took office, these two key automakers were entering into bankruptcy or worse. Some erstwhile American "patriots" seem to wish them to die off. So on top of trying to revive the economy in general, Obama faced the potential vanishment of at least two members of the U.S. auto industry's Big Three, not exactly an encouraging prospect.

To preserve two of the premier pillars of American capitalism, the Obama Administration did take an assertive approach: buying company stock and pushing for company reorganizations, among other tactics. While a few steps were taken earlier, the Administration rolled out the parameters of its plan in March of 2009. General Motors streamlined itself, eliminating the product lines of Saturn and Pontiac. Since then, GM and Chrysler have begun paying back government loans, the Toyota car company experienced notorious safety recalls, and the U.S. industry seems to have returned, albeit in a slightly different form and admittedly not to the level of its boom years. But the companies are continuing to do business and represent America in the world of manufacturing, something we elsewhere aren't doing much of these days.

It seems to me like this is a rather under-reported story. Perhaps it's a bit too early to say how Chrysler and GM will ultimately fair. But if we're going to assess the Administration, its record with the auto companies seems like a rightful element to consider. The Administration could help by giving the country an update as to the industry's progress and engaging in a little self-promotion, if such is warranted. And maybe our press, along with liberal bloggers disenchanted with the president, could take note.

Consider a counter-factual in which Chrysler and GM were allowed to go out of business--as seemed highly possible--in Obama's first year. It's highly likely that Faux news and Glenn Beck would have spent the last 18 months charging Obama with treason or incompetence for failing to "save" the American auto companies. Their collapse would have been attributed to his failures and so forth.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Deep Thoughts - 17th Amendment Edition

Without the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, which the teabaggers would like to do away with, the teabaggers wouldn't have been able to help get Pickup Truck Scotty Brown elected to the Senate. Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the Massachusett's General Court.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Obama Disses White Guys"? Really, Washington Examiner?

That was the headline that blared out from the freebie tabloid known as the Washington Examiner this morning. The basis for this accusation springs from the usual DrudgeFauxMalkinLimbaugh cesspool, and concerns Obama's singling out of African American, Hispanic and female voters as being crucial for the Fall campaign.

Maybe this is news to the Examiner, but African Americans, Hispanics and female voters have historically been marginalized in the voting process. African American and Hispanic voters also tend to vote in smaller proportions to their share of the population, especially in mid-term elections. Maybe this is news to the Examiner as well. And yes, some of these marginalized groups have tended to vote Democratic. How about that. Maybe it's because Democratic and Progressive reformers were instrumental in helping previously disenfranchized Americans obtain the vote. Obama didn't say anything about not wanting or needing White votes, or not wanting Whites to vote. Whites tend, and have tended, to be well represented in the voting process. It's possible the Examiner doesn't know this. Nor did Obama reveal any elaborate, conniving plans in combination with the now defunct ACORN, or Michael Moore, or George Soros, to deny Whites, male or otherwise the vote. So the Examiner, doing its duty to pass along the Republican message of the day/year/term, is just making shit up.

This is probably a good place to say something about the appearance of the Washington Examiner, which started showing up around DC Metro stations on or about 2008. While the financial and personnel troubles at the conservative Washington Times have drawn some attention in recent months, its decline has been supplemented by the arrival of the free Examiner. Seems as if the conservative money behind the Times, after deciding it couldn't sell it's paper, just decided to hand it out for free. It hired Faux News regular Michael Barone and Byron York of the National Review to write for it, rendering its political coverage a "fair and balanced" mix of conservative and more conservative. But it is pretty slickly produced and more substantive than the similar but more Style-feature oriented Washington Post Express, a freebie tabloid that began showing up a short time before the arrival of the Examiner.

The Examiner's trafficking and packaging of the republican noise machine's memes has been apparent from the getgo, but in today's edition, it's hit a disturbingly new low. At long last, Examiner, have you no decency?

I know none dare call it racism to expose the confederacy celebration movement's racism, but it's time for those of good conscience to speak up and loudly about the distribution of shit like this. The Examiner's ad sponsors would be a good place to start.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Return of "State's Rights"/Arkansas Refuses to Join In

There's a very good and for these days when the rights of the unelected teabaggers seem to take precedence over our dually elected representatives, reassuring article noting the refusal of Arkansas's Governor and Attorney General to join in on the latest Nullification movement.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Smearing Stupak

Fred Hiatt's Crayon Scribble page has a very whiny oped by one of the many conservatives it now employs making it sound as if the HCR bill that just passed is some kind of abortion-mandate machine, while attacking anti-abortion Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak as somehow "unprincipled" for supporting it. In addition to bitching about the limitedness of the Executive Order signed by the President, which was designed to appease anti-abortion Dems, nothing in the oped references the abortion restrictions mandated by the Senate Bill's language on abortion, itself a restriction demanded by anti-abortion Senator Ben Nelson as a requirement for passing the overall bill.

Anyway, all of this is just an excuse for me to post something Matt Ylegias wrote earlier in the process, after the Nuns and other Catholic organizations came out in support of the legislation:

"Some of the efforts to prove that the bill “really” includes federal funding of abortion despite not actually providing federal funding of abortion have gotten a bit silly. I mean it’s true that if we pass universal health care this will probably increase the market demand for those sterile gloves doctors wear during exams, which will increase the earnings of people who deliver boxes of gloves, and some of the glove-deliverers might use that money to pay for abortions. Short of making abortion illegal, and then very rigorously enforcing the law, there’s no way to ensure that no dollars will reach an abortion clinic through some roundabout path. But the exact same consideration holds for any conceivable legislation on any subject."

Conservatives are truly in the midst of their final death throes where it concerns the HCR passage.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

He Signed The Damn Bill

Repeal this, you no talent bunch of teabagging assclowns.

And Richard Cohen, of all people, is surprisingly good this morning. Someone must have spiked his oatmeal with a hefty dose of Progressive Win.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Morning After

Still feels really good.

Can't help noticing that some of the usual blogs I read don't sound all that excited about last night's historical vote. I know there's no public option. I know the bill still leaves insurance companies in business. I know there is some questionable abortion language, although I can't see this significantly changing current law for the worse.

So, sorry, I'm not having any of the regret soup today. This was a smashing victory. The most significant and progressive piece of legislation to pass in my lifetime. While Obama's victory in 2008 was also historic in a symbolic sense, the ultimate purpose of electoral victory is to accomplish something meaningful. Last night a very large down-payment was made on that pledge. It's like paying 75% of your mortgage the year after you bought your house. There's still some left to pay but doinig so has become much more manageable. And your house feels a lot more like it's really yours than it was before.

Friday, March 19, 2010

31 No's

While I think Ezra Klein makes a good point here about the level of interest group consensus on HCR, all the stress surrounding final passage would be pretty much moot were it not for a whopping 31 "No" votes looming in the Democratic camp. That's really pretty astounding. And sickening. Not that I ever have, but I couldn't ever justify sending any money to the Democratic Party's Congressional Campaign Committee. Not if any of that money ever went to any of these "No" tools.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Social Justice Christianity

I realize this is so last week, but here's a pretty good riff on Beck's latest attempt to smear those who don't share his regressive views of life.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama's a Bad-Ass

Almost forgot this Truth. Took over a year for it to emerge or re-emerge as the case might be. More of this please.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Obama should say tonight

Pass. The. Damn. Bill.

And any speech that fails to make this point Loud and Clear will be a failure.

Lessons Learned

So let me see if I understand this correctly:

1. In November 2008 the nation gave Democrat Barack Obama 53% of the popular vote, a pretty big electoral vote, too, and won states such as Indiana, North Carolina, and Virginia, that Democrats haven't won since Andrew Jackson.

2. The other side responded to this by angrily stamping its collective foot, shouting No, No, No, sending its mobs out to disrupt discussion and yell at town hall meetings and on CNNMSNBCFOX "news", and generally voting in unison against even a watered down stimulus bill and health care reform bills in both houses of Congress.

3. This strategery essentially works. Only a one-third tax cut stimulus bill passes with two Republican Senate votes. Health care passes with no Republican votes. The other side wins gubernatorial elections in NJ and VA and a special senatorial election in MA.

4. The political class, including DLC'er, failed Tennessee Senatorial candidate now NY Senate carpetbagger candidate Harold Ford in this spectacularly shi$ty op-ed piece, declare that as a result of these three elections that Democrats must now bow down graciously and do whatever the new political mood demands.

But if the lesson is that elections don't mean anything because the best path back to political power for the minority is to yell, scream, disrupt and vote No, No, No, doesn't this then also imply that the election losers in NJ, VA and now MA should also in turn adopt a No, No, No strategery?

Conservatives were in their right, of course, to react as they did to Obama's election, in this an open, democratic society.

But this political class should also understand the meaning of "What you sow, that shall you also reap."

Conservatives and their disgruntlees have sowed the wind and will reap the whirlwind. Expect cooperation now? No fackin way.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Republicans' 178-256 Majority, Part I

You might not know it, but Democrats control the House of Representatives with 256 votes (218 constituting a majority of the 435-member chamber). And yet, 256 votes notwithstanding, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't have the votes to pass the Senate's health care reform bill. This would be a critical move towards health care reform because it would avoid another Senate vote, which thanks to last week's Massachusett's Senate special election, no longer contains a filibuster-proof, 60 vote supermajority.

But even with a 38-vote majority House Democrats still can't pull themselves together to pass a bill that expands Medicaid and prohibits insurance companies from disqualifying people for pre-existing conditions.

This is just some very sorry crapola. It means that the Democratic Party's governing majority is dysfunctional and non-existent.

In Part II of this series I will expound upon some reasons why the Democrats, despite their clear House majority, can't pass health care reform.

Update: Andrew Sullivan has several posts calling for the Democratic House Majority to Pass. The. Damn. Bill.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Going Galt

I'm about ready to Go Galt. I mean, what the Eff is this supposed to mean?

I also have no idea what JM is talking about here:

What the Democrats -- and a lot of this is on the White House -- have done is get so deep into the inside game of legislative maneuvering, this and that 'gang' of senators and a lot of other nonsense that they've let themselves out of sync with the public mood and the people's needs.

The president needs to find way to say, we've heard you. We've gotten so focused on working the Washington channels to get this thing done and we need to be more focused on the public's mood and urgency. Well, we've heard you. We're going to stop playing around and get this thing done. And then we're going to work on getting Americans back to work. We know the urgency of the moment and we know you expect results.

And Barney Frank apparently isn't helping matters.

Andrew Sullivan has about the best take, or at least the closest approximate to my own feelings.

What's doubly bad about this development is not just losing a safe Dem seat to an R but losing such a seat--a Kennedy seat no less--to an R party that has gone to bed with teaparty nation, disrupted town hall meetings, attempted to shut down debate and any meaningful sense of responsible discourse. It's an insult.

I wouldn't blame Obama right about now for saying Fuck It. His party has betrayed him. The voters don't care.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Because the cab drivers tell me so

Harold Ford, late of the confederate state of Tennessee, recently citizen of Wall Street, New York, is dipping his toe in the Empire State's senatorial waters.

Mr. Ford said he had been emboldened by the response he had received from the public in recent days. Everyone — from the cabdrivers who shuttle him around the city to the executives with whom he rubs elbows on Wall Street — has urged him to run, he said.

During a trip from New York to Palm Beach on Thursday, flight attendants and passengers stopped in the aisle to cheer him on, he said. “I didn’t hear anyone say, you better not run against that Kirsten Gillibrand,” he said.

Amazingly, the Wall Street folks he's been hobnobbing with--and working for--for the past year are all thump-up on the idea, too. And the cab drivers. They're almost like real people. Who knew?

What about the issues? Ah, I'm glad you asked.

[Ford] blasted [Gillibrand's] support for the proposed health care overhaul, which is expected to cost New York an extra $1 billion a year, and for opposing the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry.

“It was a mistake,” he said, noting that most Wall Street firms had already paid back the money. “How can you be against ensuring that the lifeblood of your city and of your state survives?”

But look what else we learn:

Mr. Ford declined to discuss what he is paid by the bank, but publicly available data suggests that he earns at least $1 million a year. Asked what role outsize pay packages played in fueling the financial crisis, Mr. Ford said he objected to capping executive compensation on Wall Street. “I am a capitalist,” he said. “I believe that people take risk, and there are rewards if they do well; they should lose if they don’t.”

He's a what? He's a "capitalist". A capitalist who believes capitalists who take risks should be rewarded--and if they fail the gubmit should bail them out.

What else?

Mr. Ford twice voted for legislation in the House that would make same-sex marriage illegal. In 2006, when Tennessee voters considered a ballot initiative to outlaw the practice, he vowed to support it. “I oppose gay marriage,” he said at the time.

But in the interview, he said he had changed his mind. He said that he had endorsed civil unions since entering Congress, and that, after watching the debate about marriage unfold in state legislatures and courtrooms, his position had evolved.


He supported Congressional legislation in 2006 to allow local police officers to investigate and arrest illegal immigrants, despite the objections of many advocates and lawmakers, like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who said it would discourage people from cooperating with the police. He says his views on the subject have changed.

“I have come to better understand the issue,” he said. “Empowering local enforcement to do what federal law enforcement was not doing seemed to make sense in my state,” he said, referring to Tennessee. Mr. Ford, a member of the National Rifle Association, also voted for legislation to limit lawsuits against gun makers, and he cast one of the few Democratic votes for a bill to repeal the District of Columbia’s restrictions on guns.

When asked about the tough restrictions that mayors in New York and Newark have put in place, however, he said, “All of Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor Booker’s efforts in the region, I support.”

OK. But fear not. Ford's no softy. He likes to shoot small, harmless animals that can't shoot back. Really.

Asked about his own experience with guns, he said he was an occasional bird hunter. “I shoot at things that can’t shoot back,” he said with a smile, “and will continue to do that."

Or until his next limo driver objects.

Monday, January 04, 2010

The True Face of Evangelical Christianity

Whether it's the smiley face on the TV screen or the well-dressed young men knocking on your door, or that shiny brochure you got in the mail, this is what lies not far below the surface of fundamentalist Christian doctrine. They might give to the poor, they might provide a temporarily accepting refuge for the lonely and down-trodden. But this is ultimately the kind of society conservative Christianity is seeking, or would result in, if its claims about needing to create "Bible-based society" were implemented.