Thursday, March 31, 2011


This offends Republicans in Florida:

Democrat chastized for saying 'uterus' on House floor

During last week's discussion about a bill that would prohibit governments from deducting union dues from a worker's paycheck, state Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, used his time during floor debate to argue that Republicans are against regulations -- except when it comes to the little guys, or serves their specific interests.

At one point Randolph suggested that his wife "incorporate her uterus" to stop Republicans from pushing measures that would restrict abortions. Republicans, after all, wouldn't want to further regulate a Florida business.

Apparently the GOP leadership of the House didn't like the one-liner.

They told Democrats that Randolph is not to discuss body parts on the House floor.

"The point was that Republicans are always talking about deregulation and big government," Randolph said Thursday. "And I always say their philosophy is small government for the big guy and big government for the little guy. And so, if my wife's uterus was incorporated or my friend's bedroom was incorporated, maybe they (Republicans) would be talking about deregulating.

"It's not like I used slang," said Randolph, who actually got the line from his wife....

My compliments to Representative Randolph's wife, by the way -- it's a great line.

This offended Florida Republicans -- but I can't find any evidence that any of them complained about this event involving pictures of bloody aborted fetuses, at a state-run institution:

Florida State University College Republicans invited the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform to FSU to set up a display comparing abortion to genocide. The demonstrators belonged to a group called the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), which travels the country displaying their murals. The demonstrations were set up Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., with counter-protests springing up around it.

Mark Harrington, executive director for the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, explained how abortion could be compared to the genocides experienced by Jews in Nazi Germany, African-Americans in the Jim Crow south and Native Americans in the early days of United States....

(See a picture here.)

The FSU College Republicans went on to deny having invited GAP to mount its display on campus -- but the group did say it reserved space for GAP (freedom of speech, don't you know), and members of GAP say that, yes, they were invited by the College Republicans.

In any event, I see no evidence that any Republican, on campus or off, objected to this display. Huge blow-ups of bloody abortions? Hey, it's not like uttering the proper name for a body part in the state legislature, is it?

Betty Cracker and Steven D are right -- this (from Mike McIntire in The New York Times) is appalling:

Odd Alliance: Business Lobby and Tea Party

... a Tea Party group in the United States, the Institute for Liberty, has vigorously defended the freedom of a giant Indonesian paper company to sell its wares to Americans without paying tariffs. The institute set up Web sites, published reports and organized a petition drive attacking American businesses, unions and environmentalists critical of the company, Asia Pulp & Paper.

Last fall, the institute’s president, Andrew Langer, had himself videotaped on Long Wharf in Boston holding a copy of the Declaration of Independence as he compared Washington’s proposed tariff on paper from Indonesia and China to Britain’s colonial trade policies in 1776.

Tariff-free Asian paper may seem an unlikely cause for a nonprofit Tea Party group....

The Tea Party movement is as deeply skeptical of big business as it is of big government....

Stop! Stop! Make it stop!

Do I have to explain this? Teabaggers are Randroid, business-worshipping Gucci-shoe lickers who want to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable. They think CEOs suffer the worst discrimination of any group in America. They hate the banks for taking government money because they thought the government was the bad guy. Screwing everyone on the planet prior to the bailout was just capital exercising its animal spirits. (And besides, the economic collapse was all the fault of Fannie and Freddie and those damn Negroes who took advantage of the Community Reinvestment Act.)


The odd thing is that there's some good reporting when you dig into McIntire's article. Andrew Langer was obviously a Randroid before there was a tea party -- he's been involved in pro-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Business for years. McIntire determines that Langer once conducted a "grassroots" pro-genetically-modified-foods campaign involving petition signatures that (as McIntire learned) were occasionally from dead people, or people who had no idea they'd signed the petition.

So McIntire's reporting chops are not terrible. It's his interpretation that makes a sensible person want to weep. (But on the reporting see the update below.)

I'm guessing that Dave Weigel is going to come along eventually and say that Langer and his group, the Institute for Liberty, are teabaggers-come-lately -- Langer merely glommed onto the tea party as a useful vehicle for the corporatism he'd been pursuing all along. That's clearly the case. I suppose some Times readers will benefit from learning how effortlessly the two strains of conservatism run together; it'd be nice, though, if they grasped that that's not in any way a surprise.


MORE: McIntire notes that the previous campaigns of Langer and the Institute for Liberty (e.g., in opposition to Net neutrality) all favored business ... except, curiously, one:

...the Institute of Liberty ... was created in 2005 by Jason Wright, an author of best-selling inspirational novels who had worked for Frontiers of Freedom, a conservative policy group.

In his three years at the institute, Mr. Wright said in an interview, he was often approached by public relations consultants pitching projects for clients. Typical, he said, were overtures from two consultants who wanted him to advocate for opposing positions on the regulation of "payday" loans, widely criticized for usurious terms that hurt low-income borrowers.

"A P.R. firm in D.C. offered me a ton of money to take the wrong side of that issue," he said. "I did end up taking some corporate donations from the side of the issue I believed in -- that the industry had completely lost control and had to be reined in."

Which doesn't explain why this pro-payday lending essay appears on the Frontiers of Freedom Web site ("Payday Loans: A Choice That Virginia Consumers Need and Want"), or why Institute for Freedom writings are quoted in this attack on one of the main groups calling for payday lending reform, the Center for Responsible Lending:

The Institute for Liberty concluded that "under the CRL's lending reforms, North Carolina leads the U.S. in foreclosures. In a year-over-year comparison, the state's foreclosure rate outpaced the nation with a whopping 146% increase vs. 94% nationwide."

It would have been nice if McIntire had checked Wright's claim.

I see that Indiana is on the verge of passing one of the most restrictive abortion laws in America, a law that would ban abortion after 20 weeks and require deceptive "counseling" on the supposed link between abortion and breast cancer. Via Zandar, I see that an amendment offering a rape and incest exception to the bill was voted down after a Republican state representative, Erik Turner, said that would lead to a lot of women to lie about being raped.

In Arizona I see, via Balloon Juice, that the GOP-dominated government has solved a non-problem:

Arizona is the first state in the nation to make sex- or race-selection abortions a crime.

Gov. Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into law House Bill 2443, which makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an abortion based on the sex or race of the fetus.

Opponents of the measure have questioned whether such a practice was really occurring....

The law allows the father of an aborted fetus -- or, if the mother is a minor, the mother's parents -- to take legal action against the doctor or other health-care provider who performed the abortion....

Pro-choicers see all this and despair. Anti-choicers know that this kind of thing can go on indefinitely -- whether they understand it consciously or not, they've figured out that a "death to abortion rights by a thousand cuts" strategy won't be stopped, or even slowed down, because of just-world thinking: that is, because every time a new law of this kind is proposed, the people who might actively oppose it think to themselves, "Well, that wouldn't necessarily affect me. I'm sure I'd deal with a problem pregnancy long before 20 weeks. I'm sure I'd grit my teeth and just ignore the lies in the 'counseling.' I'm sure I could swing three sick days if I had to travel for an abortion and my state imposed a 72-hour waiting period."

This is human. It's understandable.

It's why I think that, in purple states where teabaggers are on the rise but where there's still a healthy percentage of liberals and pro-choice moderates, I'd like to see pro-choicers forcing votes on full abortion bans -- bans that would take effect in the event of a Roe overturn. I'm not sure even that would have an impact unless we were on the verge of a Republican presidency. (But, given President Obama's recent poll numbers, is that necessarily so far-fetched?)

I really don't think Republicans outside deep-red states want to vote on an outright abortion ban -- based on their declared principles, they'd have to vote yes, but they know it's what would motivate activists on our side. So I think they'd bottle up a bill of this kind wherever they could. But efforts to force such votes might be worth a try. I don't see what else will wake up the pro-choice population.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Mark Hosenball of Reuters says President Obama has authorized covert support for Libyan rebels:

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter....

At Firedoglake, emptywheel writes:

Where Will Obama Try Himself for Material Support for Terrorism?

That's an exasperated lefty joke -- but it makes me wonder: If Gaddafi is overthrown, then Obama wins in 2012 (albeit with an all-GOP Congress), and if there's any jihadist presence whatsoever in the new Libyan government, would Republicans try to impeach Obama for precisely this -- giving materil aid to terrorists? Hell, if he wins again, they're going to try to impeach him for something, right? This seems as likely a cause as any.

Dear Fox Nation:

President Obama gave a 26-minute speech on Libya two nights ago. How much longer do you plan to leave this up on your front page?

Why, if I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to gull people who didn't notice that the speech took place, just to keep them maximally angry at the president.


And when I heard the news that the FDA was revisiting the question of whether artificial food colorings cause hyperactivity in some children, I wondered what the reaction of the right would be. I should have known Fox Nation wouldn't let me down:

I really don't know about the science of all this, and I see that many scientists themselves think the theory is absurd, but it appears that all the FDA wants to consider is whether a warning label might be appropriate -- hardly a crackdown -- and has made no decisions yet:

...on Wednesday and Thursday, the F.D.A. will ask a panel of experts to review the evidence and advise on possible policy changes, which could include warning labels on food.

...staff scientists from the F.D.A. wrote that while typical children might be unaffected by the dyes, those with behavioral disorders might have their conditions "exacerbated by exposure to a number of substances in food, including, but not limited to, synthetic color additives."

...the agency is not asking the experts to consider a ban during their two-day meeting, and agency scientists in lengthy analyses expressed skepticism....

The F.D.A. scientists suggested that problems associated with artificial coloring might be akin to a peanut allergy, or "a unique intolerance to these substances and not to any inherent neurotoxic properties" of the dyes themselves....

But Fox would probably be delighted if its mouth-breather audience turned this issue into the next anti-lightbulb-fascism crusade.

And that's appropriate, right? Hey, I know drugs for ADHD are expensive and occasionally fatal to children, but so what? If it's a choice of helping parents find a possible non-drug solution or stoking more Obama-hate, isn't it obvious we should choose the latter?

Yeah, it's good that Joe Klein feels this way about outrages like Newt Gingrich expressing fear that America will become "secular, atheist country" dominated by radical Islamists, or Herman Cain saying he wouldn't have any Muslims in his administration -- though I don't know how much good Klein's anger can do:

This is my 10th presidential campaign, Lord help me. I have never before seen such a bunch of vile, desperate-to-please, shameless, embarrassing losers coagulated under a single party's banner. They are the most compelling argument I've seen against American exceptionalism. Even Tim Pawlenty, a decent governor, can't let a day go by without some bilious nonsense escaping his lizard brain. And, as Greg Sargent makes clear, Mitt Romney has wandered a long way from courage. There are those who say, cynically, if this is the dim-witted freak show the Republicans want to present in 2012, so be it. I disagree. One of them could get elected. You never know. Mick Huckabee, the front-runner if you can believe it, might have to negotiate a trade agreement, or a defense treaty, with the Indonesian President some day. Newt might have to discuss very delicate matters of national security with the President of Pakistan. And so I plead, as an unflinching American patriot--please Mitch Daniels, please Jeb Bush, please run. I may not agree with you on most things, but I respect you. And you seem to respect yourselves enough not to behave like public clowns.

As Steve Benen and Kevin Drum have said, what good would it do to have non-crazies in the race? They'd just have to say the same crazy things in order to have any chance at all of winning the votes of the crazy GOP electorate.

Klein is right when he says, "One of them could get elected." But what are the members of Klein's profession going to do to stop that? Are they going to describe the ideas and pronouncements of the GOP field as the crackpot notions they objectively are? Or are they going to treat the candidates as rational because, well, they're in one of the major political parties, and not the Dirty Hippie Party, so whatever they say must be within the pale (or must be swept under the rug)?

(I'm not talking about biased reporting -- I'm talking about describing delusion as what it is, the way even an unbiased reporter would do with a flat-earther or 9/11 truther.)

Aren't Klein's fellow journos just going to cover the GOP primaries almost exclusively as a horserace? Are they going to talk at all about the Republicans' ideas?

And after that, aren't they just going to cover the general-election contest through silly, mostly right-wing frames -- which candidate is more "American," which wears a flag pin more often or opens more campaign rallies with a prayer or the Pledge of Allegiance, which seems to resonate most with a bunch of boilermaker drinkers or NASCAR fans or retired old white men in a diner in the Midwest?

Talk to your colleagues, Joe. If the Republicans are nuts, the mainstream press has to let us see that -- not just in reporters' blogs, but in actual news coverage.

A couple of weeks ago, Peter Beinart wrote at the Daily Beast that union-stripping in the Midwest was going to be the key to an Obama victory in 2012:

In 2012, Obama will ask Americans if they want a president who abets the extremism of Scott Walker. By so successfully shifting the ideological debate to the right, Republicans have reframed Obama as a man of the center. And by terrifying liberals, they are helping ensure that Obama gets the large Democratic base turnout he needs.

Of course, in order for this to happen, Obama may actually have to ask Americans how they feel about Walkerism. He can't just stay on the sidelines and hope for the proverbial sleeping giant to awaken and sweep him to victory. I think a lot of people think that might be happening already -- they think Wisconsin and the other battles with extremist governors are a rising tide that lifts all Democrats -- but to judge from the new Quinnipiac poll, that's not the case: not only does Obama get his lowest approval rating ever from Quinnipiac (42% approval/48% disapproval), and not only does he lose the deserves-to-be-reelected battle 50%/41%, but people in union households are decidedly lukewarm toward him -- they'd vote for him over a generic Republican by a mere 45%-29%.

That meas he does get about 60% of the voters who've made up their minds -- but that's no better than he did in '08 against McCain, according to CNN's exit poll. Shouldn't he be doing better? Shouldn't Republicans be doing worse? Why, at this point, are a majority of union-household members either planning to vote Republican for president in 2012 or not ruling it out?

Obviously, Obama actually has to affiliate himself with the workers involved -- he can't get this benefit just by osmosis. Also, Democrats have to stop assuming that voters are, all on their own, already viscerally associating these unpopular deeds by GOP governors with the GOP -- they actually have to say, "This is the face of the Republican Party."

I'm not sure Obama will ever do that, or other Democrats either.

Jonathan Chait yesterday:

Noah Kristula-Green proposes that a moderator at a Republican presidential debate ask the candidates, "Raise your hand if you have any doubts that President Obama was bor in the United States."

I think Green is on the right track here, but I don't think he has the wording right....

The better wording would be something like, "Raise your hand if you think there is any legitimate reason whatsoever to doubt that President Obama was born in the United States." When questioning individual candidates, a good way to get into the issue would be to ask them first if George W. Bush was born in the United states, then ask about Obama, and then -- if they phrased the latter response in more qualified terms than the former -- ask them why.

I don't really care about the wording -- I'd just like to see them put on record in the debates. (And no, I don't really believwe this is possible -- I assume that if anything like this happens, it will happen in a way that allows ample opportunity for evasions and weasel words.)

But then I move on to Chait's next post, and I see that it chides Herman Cain for saying he wouldn't have Muslims in his administration if he were president. Of course, it's not just Cain -- as Steve Benen reminded us when Cain made this assertion,

In the fall of 2007, [Mitt] Romney said he would not consider Muslim Americans for his cabinet. Indeed, he said this more than once, in front of plenty of witnesses.

How about that as a debate question? "Would you hire Muslim-Americans for your administration, and would you include Muslim-Americans in your cabinet?" Now, this would seem to be a golden opportunity for weasel words ("I'll judge each individual on his or her qualifications...") -- but I think the candidates would feel backed into a corner. I think, in a hotly contested Republican primary at this moment, most of them would feel they had to say no.

I'd like to find out.

Because these debates will be watched by swing voters and (especially) the Beltway media -- which will feel compelled to declare the eventual nominee a sober, rational, within-the-pale person, even if it's Bachmann or Palin or Cain -- I'd love to see a series of crackpot notions raised in the GOP debates. Not just the obvious ones (Do you believe in evolution? Do you believe humans are subject to evolution? Do you believe human behavior is a cause of climate change?), but a few of more recent vintage.

Do you think Islam is a religion subject to First Amendment protections in America? Do you think President Obama is a patriotic American whose primary political loyalties are to the United States? Do you think there's a reasonable likelihood that ACORN will engage in widespread voter fraud in 2012 that will undermine the legitimacy of the elections?

Would the candidates who are trying to have some crossover appeal dare to give non-looney answers to those questions? And if they did, what would happen to them in the primaries afterward?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


You know that Newt Gingich said he fears America could become "a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists" -- which, of course, makes perfect sense if you're right-wing, because the world is made up of two groups, Christians and not-Christians, the former being the only people on earth who are fit to live, and the latter being the embodiments of pure evil, and all basically indistinguishable from one another in any meaningful way.

Steve Benen is appalled not only by the remark, but by where Gingrich uttered it:

...In this case, the former House Speaker was sharing his unique brand of idiocy at a San Antonio ministry called Cornerstone Church. And who's church is that? It's run by a radical preacher by the name of John Hagee.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. In 2008, John McCain sought out Hagee's support for his presidential campaign, but the Republican was ultimately forced to disavow the right-wing preacher and repudiate his endorsement.

As Jamil Smith recently explained:
... Hagee blamed gays for Hurricane Katrina and called Catholicism a "false cult" and a contributor to Hitler's anti-Semitism.
Hagee also believes Jews are to blame for centuries of persecution, called the Roman Catholic Church is "the great whore," and preached that Hitler and the Nazis had operated on God's behalf....

I'll just add that McCain and Gingrich aren't the only prominent Republicans to have reached out to Hagee in recent years -- Mike Huckabee preached in Hagee's chuch in late 2007, just before the Iowa caucuses, and called Hagee "one of the great Christian leaders of our nation."

How does Huck feel about Hagee now? Well, they seem to have become estranged after the '08 elections -- but not because of anything extreme Hagee has said. Huck, according to his '08 book Do the Right Thing, just became bitter because Hagee blew him off:

[Huckabee] also has words for the Texas-based Rev. John Hagee, who endorsed the more moderate John McCain in the primaries, as someone who was drawn to the eventual Republican nominee because of the lure of power. Huckabee says he spoke to Hagee by phone before the McCain endorsement while preparing for a spot on Saturday Night Live. "I asked if he had prayed about this and believed this was what the Lord wanted him to do," Huckabee writes of the conversation. "I didn't get a straight answer."

Ooh, snap!

As Kyle from Right Wing Watch said,

Doesn't it seem odd that instead of thinking that maybe he dodged a bullet by not getting Hagee's support, Huckabee is still mad about it?

Oh, and dozens of Republican candidates from Texas, including Governor Rick Perry, attended a Hagee service just before Election Day 2006. Perry didn't go to the 2010 service, nor did any of the big names running for statewide office -- after the bad publicity Hagee got in '08, I guess they were reluctant -- but the event did draw 71 Texas candidates (nearly half of them Democrats, alas).

So Hagee has never been a total pariah. What right-winger ever is? What right-winger ever falls so far into disgrace that he can't climb back? So Gingrich's embrace of Hagee is no surprise. Hagee's right-wing. He automatically gets a do-over.


If there’s one phrase I hate it's "mistakes were made". Fuck the passive voice. Somebody made the mistakes and they should be named and shamed.

Let's be clear, in layman's terms, Republicans are getting ready to shut down the government. I don’t want to hear any of you saying "the government may be shut down" or "there may be a government shut down". Democrats have met Republicans halfway on the budget. If Republicans don't take the deal, the Republicans will have shut down the government.

How hard would it be for every Democrat and every lefty commentator to refer to this -- starting now, even before it happens -- as "the Republican government shutdown," or just "the Republican shutdown"?

There it is. No "continued on next bumper sticker" -- hell, no verb. Just a concise phrase everybody can process instantly, and one that Republicans and the wingnut media aren't expecting.

It's simple: anytime you'd talk about "the shutdown," say "the Republican shutdown." If enough pundits and interviewees did that, eventually the phrase would lodge in the head of every politically aware American. Republicans would stamp their feet and insist that, darn it, it isn't a Republican shutdown! Which would mean they'd already lost the framing war.

But I'm clearly engaging in idle fantasy, because, given the players, nothing like this could possibly happen.

This Politico article by Carrie Budoff Brown might generate some conspiracies theories from the Obama's-a-Manchurian-Republican wing of the left, but really, what Brown's suggesting is silly:

For once, the unthinkable in Washington seemed within reach. From liberals to tea party conservatives to a defense secretary who served in a Republican administration, all agreed -- it was time to begin reining in the Pentagon budget.

Then along came Libya.

Just as the debt debate ramps up on Capitol Hill, the lead role the United States is playing in the military action against Libya threatens to scramble an emerging consensus over the need to trim defense to reduce the deficit....

Oh, please. First of all, what emerging consensus is Brown talking about? Recall what happened when Haley Barbour dipped a toe into these waters and suggested that maybe we could kinda-sorta think about maybe cutting the Pentagon budget a little bit. As Brown herself notes, with some apparent astonishment, none of his potential rivals followed suit:

While Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential Republican presidential candidate, broke from the GOP pack this month to endorse defense cuts, other leading possible candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney -- don’t agree. This is no small thing: In a presidential cycle, lawmakers often take their cues from their party’s leading candidates.

In fact, Barbour was immediately attacked by the likes of Pawlenty and Bill Kristol -- and that was before the UN vote on the no-fly zone in Libya. Even then, the idea was all but taboo on the right.

Imagine for a moment that we had a genuinely progressive president who was really disengaging America from its ruinous wars and avoiding military involvement in the new Middle Eastern conflicts. Imagine, further, that this president was calling for Pentagon cuts. Would that lead the now-dominant Republicans in Congress to follow suit? Forget it. They'd be saying the president was "weakening" and "unilaterally disarming" America. They'd have avoided any Gingrichy flip-flops -- they'd be demanding action in Libya immediately. (As it is, we have the likes of McCain and Giuliani demanding Qaddafi's head right now, as Lieberman ponders action against Syria.)

So spare me any conspiracy theories about how crypto-Republican Obama launched these air strikes just as budget negotiations got under way, just to make sure that there wouldn't be any military cuts. There wouldn't have been real cuts in any case -- Democrats wouldn't have the guts, and on the right, the we're-number-1!!! war lovers still dominate, and will prevail for the foreseeable future.


You'd think they might not prevail with an America-hating, UN-loving Muslim socialist totalitarian in office -- you'd think righties would want to keep the weapons out of his hands. But somehow their fears of Democratic fascism always drop away when they're confronted with the option of forgoing a bit of the usual highly stimulating military bloat. They always think they want to have all that weaponry and money around for future use by a "real" (i.e., Republican) president.

I will add that it's possible we'll go at the military budget in a real way if, in the future, Wingnuttia is dominated by the now-youthful Paulbots. They'll be as crazy as the current elderly teabaggers on everything else, but they might talk some sense on Pentagon spending. But that'll happen decades from now, if at all.

Donald Trump gave what he said was his originial official birth certificate to Newsmax yesterday -- but it turns out that the document he released wasn't the government-issued certificate, it was merely a certificate generated by the hospital where he was born.

Politico's Ben Smith engaged in some uncharacteristic snark:

... an actual birth certificate, which is issued by the Department of Health, would have the agency's seal and also a signature of the city registrar -- neither of which the Trump document has. Officials said the city Health Department is the "sole issuing authority" of official birth certificates in New York, and that the document would clearly say so, and "city officials said it's not an official document."

... Trump's mother, it should be noted, was born in Scotland, which is not part of the United States. His plane is registered in the Bahamas, also a foreign country. This fact pattern -- along with the wave of new questions surrounding what he claims is a birth certificate -- raises serious doubts about his eligibility to serve as President of the United States.

John Cole was more succinct: "So much fail," he wrote.

But, while we don't know the specific impact of this incident, I gather that Trump's overall birther stunt is working like a charm:

.. NBC earned some bragging rights: The Celebrity Apprentice delivered a season-high rating among adults 18-49 (3.0/8) and total viewers (8.5 million) and is up versus the same night last year by 7 percent.

That was from a report on Sunday's TV ratings.

I've said that I think Trump thinks he would be an excellent president -- I assume he thinks he would be excellent at pretty much anything he did -- but I agree with Salon's Steve Kornacki that Trump won't really run, and is merely promoting his TV show and himself. (Kornacki's bet readers that Trump won't run, and he's documented similar Trump is-he-running? scams in 2000 and 1998.)

It's disheartening that being a conspiracy nut actually enhances your TV ratings in America. But, well, that's a metaphor for how American politics works in general, isn't it? Say or do something that's outrageous in a right-wing way, and the wingnut masses will rally to you, while most of the rest of the country either pays no attention or just shrugs. (A tiny minority of us angry lefties will get, er, angry.) That's how right-wing pols get away with a lot of stuff, isn't it?


And, of course, it's been reported, accurately or otherwise, that the most popular shows on TV tend to be the favorite shows of Republican viewers, and that Republican viewers like reality shows somewhat more than Democrats do. Trump may be taking those conclusions (from a 2009 study conducted by Experian) very seriously.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I wish I could second DougJ's assertion that "this fight is winnable," which is his comment on a new Greenberg-Quinlan-Rosner poll:

...battleground voters are currently split on the Republican plan to cut domestic programs by $61 billion, with 46 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed. This would be a dramatic decline in support from January when Democracy Corps found 60 percent support for the Republicans' budget cuts.

And after a balanced debate on the issue, support for the Republican budget plan drops sharply, to 41 percent, with a 52 percent majority opposed. The more voters hear from the Republicans on this issue, the less they like. In fact, after hearing the budget debate, 53 percent agree, the more they hear from Republicans like their incumbent, "the less I like." Just 39 percent say the more they hear, "the more I like." And this is reflected in the vote, as it moves a net of 5 points towards the Democrats, giving them a 47 to 44 percent lead on the ballot.

Not good enough for the cowards of the Democratic Party. As I said a couple of weeks ago, for scared-of-their-own-shadow Dems, not even 60% is really 50% -- they had the polls on their side in the run-up to the 2010 midterms, but they didn't dare force the Republicans to vote on the highly unpopular extension of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, because, heck, everybody knows that voters really hate tax increases on anyone, including filthy-rich fat cats, even if a solid numerical majority say otherwise. Or at least Democrats feel it's terrifying not to labor under such restraints. Democrats know they don't see any fat-cat-tax-hating monsters under the bed, but they're sure those monsters must be there. MOMMMMYYYYY!!!!!

This poll isn't good enough -- the best Democrats do is (gulp!) 53% approval of their position, and a 47%-44% plurality (not even a majority!!!) on the generic congressional ballot for 2012. To yellow-bellied Democrats, that adds up to a GOP landslide.

And besides, this happens only if we have "a balanced debate on the issue." How the hell is that going to happen? When Democrats have the popular position on their side, and the issue is (eek) taxes and spending, they don't want to talk about the issue. That's nuts, of course, but there you are. When Republicans aren't taking the popular position, they sensibly want to change the subject. So, since both sides will want to avoid talking about it, our debate about budget cuts is going to be: "Defund NPR! Defund Planned Parenthood and the AARP! Why so many Obamacare waivers? Where's the birth certificate?"


In Iran, the anti-Semitic rallying cries show up in presidential speeches; here in America, the Republicans and their media and finance wings (Murdoch, Koch, etc.) largely leave it to the populace to develop and disseminate rabble-rousing, team-building nuggets of ignorance. It's more of an entrepreneurial model. Of course, the bigwigs are ready and willing to provide the media equivalent of venture capital for notions that promise to inspire fist-pumping anti-liberal ignorance in large amounts.

An example: a failed writer named Jack Cashill developed a cockamamie notion that Barack Obama didn't write his first book, and not only didn't he write it, but right-wing bogeyman Bill Ayers actually did. The notion, developed by Cashill in a series of interminable articles mostly published at the relatively obscure site the American Thinker, began to inspire a useful sort of hatred of Barack Obama. And so Mary Matalin's Threshold Editions gave Cashill a book deal.

Meanwhile, Ayers has developed a canned riff on the subject: Oh yeah, I wrote the book -- and if you can help me prove that, I'll split the royalties with you. (Obama's books were huge bestsellers and made him a millionaire.) It's a joke, and Ayers just made it again after delivering a speech:

But Jack Cashill takes it seriously ("Ayers affirms he wrote Dreams from My Father"). And right-wing blogger after right-wing blogger after right-wing blogger is taking this very, very seriously.

One blog taking it seriously? Gateway Pundit -- and, well, I agree with TBogg that GP is a blog that specializes in ignorance ... but it's also a go-to blog for Murdoch's Fox Nation. FN cites one Gateway Pundit post after another after another; it's a favorite FN source.

So we're a long way from William F. Buckley urging the right to purge itself of the John Birch Society -- though we're still not at the point where the truly crazy stuff comes from the central figures of the right. Ah, but maybe if Michelle Bachmann runs the table on Super Tuesday that will change.

In any case, it's clear that the central figures on the right have done a cost-benefit analysis on this sort of cultivation of ignorance, and have concluded that it does the right more good than harm.


UPDATE: Predictably, Fox Nation goes with the story, though it adds a bet-hedging question mark to the headline ("Bill Ayers Admits He Wrote Obama's 'Dreams From My Father'?"). This time the link isn't to Gateway Pundit -- it's to NewsBusters, which expresses no doubt whatsoever that the Ayers joke was a serious confession, and which (naturally) links Gateway Pundit.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Rumproast directs our attention to an effort by the producers of the forthcoming Atlas Shrugged movie to make the Randiot fanboys and fangirls a part of the action:

1. Record a 2-3 second video of you clearly stating "I am John Galt."
2. Submit your video as a Video Comment Response on our YouTube channel video.

A couple of samples:

Really? That's it? That's the best you can do?

C'mon -- be creative!

Say it while group-urinating on a homeless person!

Or hurling a Molotov cocktail at a public library!

Or forcing a child to operate heavy industrial machinery!


I want economic justice to be attained through peaceful means. I want the institutions of government to identify the parties responsible for destroying the global economy and hold them accountable. I want those who benefit the most from the way we've structured our society to pay the most for the maintenance of those structures. I want all this to happen through the proper channels.

Some people in England don't see any possibility that any of this will happen if they just ask politely. It would be a hell of a lot easier to dismiss them as thuggish brats if it were possible to identify any real penalties doled out recently to the cosseted, comfortable, and guilty through conventional means.

Over 200 people were arrested as extremists brought violent chaos to central London yesterday after hijacking the much-heralded trade union protest against public spending cuts....

Campaign group UK Uncut claimed around 200 of its supporters forced themselves into luxury store Fortnum and Mason -- known as the Queen's grocer....

After forcing themselves through the ground floor doors into the area selling luxury cheese and chocolate at around 4pm, the mob ran amok....

A spokesman for the demonstrators said the target was chosen because 'they dodge tens of millions in tax'....

Campaigners claimed they targeted the 300-year-old store because its owners are at the centre of a £40million tax avoidance row. Protesters also occupied Vodafone, Boots and BHS stores on Oxford Street for the same reason....

Around 300 extremists tried to storm a branch of HSBC in Cambridge Circus.

They threw paint at police officers and smashed windows. Some of the group painted slogans such as 'smash the banks' and 'thieves' on the building before trying to get inside....

I don't want to see it happen in England or in any other country. But what I do want to see happen -- a real reckoning for the worst abusers in the global financial system, accompanied by "shared sacrifice" that's actually shared, all the way to the top -- apparently will never happen through peaceful means.

(If you think I'm exaggerating, consider the wrist-slaps that have been doled out in America for large-scale economic crime, and then read Joe Nocera's New York Times story about a guy who's doing serious time for taking a "liar loan" during the economic boom. Think of this as like the drug war, except we've made a conscious, overt decision not to jail any leaders of the cartels, or even mid-level soldiers -- only the customers.)

Yeah, the riot in England was awful. Want to avoid more of it, authorities? Do the right thing. (And yes, I say that knowing you won't.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Geraldine Ferraro has passed away. She's receiving words of praise from the likes of Sarah Palin; Fox Nation pays tribute to "Trailblazer Geraldine Ferraro" by posting a clip in which Ferraro expresses her delight at receiving a copy of Palin's first book from the ex-governor.

Ferraro, of course, had a working relationship with Fox News that began in 1999. That was an interesting bit of hatchet-burying, given the way Rupert Murdoch's New York Post savaged her in the 1984 campaign. The Post wasn't the only paper, obviously, to accuse Ferraro's husband of mob ties, but it went further by reporting a 40-year-old gambling arrest of her parents (at a time when Ferraro was eight years old) and by suggesting that aspects of her father's death shortly afterward were a "mystery." That's when the Post wasn't crowing about snubs of the pro-choice Ferraro by Catholics. (Basically, anything the Reagan/Bush opposition research team had on her, the Post wanted.)

Me, I'd have borne a lifelong grudge, but I guess she figured politics ain't beanbag and them's the breaks. I suppose that worked out well for her. She seemed genuinely thrilled by John McCain's pick of Palin, after, of course she'd attacked Barack Obama in the primaries in racial terms, on behalf of the already struggling Clinton campaign, whose cause Fox and the rest of the right had taken up as part of an (at the time) unsuccessful divide-and-conquer strategy.

Good thing for her she didn't become a full-throated Obama defender, or she'd probably have gone to her final rest as just another of the many "thugs" surrounding him, in the eyes of many of he same people who are praising her now.

When the teabaggers told us for two years that Barack Obama was an evil dictatorial fascist seeking to destroy our democracy and take away our freedom, we probably should have guessed that they were saying this because riding roughshod over democracy is what they would be doing if they got to wield power during an economic crisis that seemed to demand drastic measures. We also might have figured out that that's what they meant when they kept saying "We're going to take our country back" -- they meant take it back from the minority of voters they defeated in the election despite any laws on the books that constrained them from taking some aspects of it. They said Obama was engaging in an illegal power grab because that's what they had in mind.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the lawless state of Wisconsin:

In a stunning twist, Gov. Scott Walker's legislation limiting collective bargaining for public workers was published Friday despite a judge's hold on the measure, prompting a dispute over whether it takes effect Saturday.

The measure was published to the Legislature's website with a footnote that acknowledges the restraining order by a Dane County judge....

The restraining order was issued against Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette. But the bill was published by the reference bureau, which was not named in the restraining order....

It hasn't been printed in the Wisconsin State Journal, the official state newspaper, as other laws are. Late Friday, State Journal publisher Bill Johnston said in an e-mail that the notice for the law had been scheduled to run but had been canceled. He did not elaborate.

La Follette urged caution Friday, saying the measure has not been published yet by his office. He said he believes the law cannot go into effect until he directs the State Journal to publish it, which he has not done.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said it didn't matter that it hasn't appeared in the paper.

"It's published," Fitzgerald said. "It's law. That's what I contend."...

This is the point at which I'm supposed to say, "I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure what this really means." Well, I'm not a lawyer -- but it seems crystal clear to me that the judge in this case said this can't become a law -- period. It has to be published by the secretary of state, but because its passage violated the state's open meetings law, she ruled that the secretary of state can't publish it and it can't go into effect:

In her March 18 decision, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi Follette from publishing the issued the restraining order to prevent La law. But she also made a blanket statement that she was blocking the further implementation of the law.

"I do, therefore, restrain and enjoin the further implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 10. The next step in implementation of that law would be the publication of that law by the secretary of state. He is restrained and enjoined from such publication until further order of this court," she said....

Am I lawyer? No, but I read and speak English. There's no ambiguity here. This is an illegal act. This is a defiance of the courts.

The Republicans did this last night and now say the law goes into effect today. So what happens next? Well, this goes back to the courts -- but I'm not sure how much good that will do:

Late Friday, [Dane County District Attorney Ismael] Ozanne sought a new temporary restraining order in the case, but Duty Judge Sarah O'Brien declined to set a hearing, noting one was already scheduled for Tuesday.

So I don't see what prevents these above-the-law Republicans from doing everything they can possibly do between now and Tuesday to implement provisions of this law in such a way that it will be next to impossible to un-implement them, assuming the courts rule against them again.

Gosh, I can't wait till we have a Republican president, so we can watch this happen on a national level -- a full frontal assault on a century of laws protecting ordinary citizens from robber-baron-ocracy.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Earlier today, Adam Serwer published a story speculating that Tim Pawlenty is going to have trouble in the GOP primaries because, as governor, he supported a program that made it easier for Muslims to finance homes in a sharia-compliant way:

... In 2004, then-Gov. Pawlenty urged the Minnesota Housing Financing Agency to partner with local groups and businesses in an effort to increase minority homeownership in the state.... The MHFA decided to partner with a local group, the African Development Center, in "developing culturally sensitive products," that would allow Muslims to enter the market. According to MHFA spokesperson Megan Ryan, the effort fizzled, in part because the ADC wasn't able to find interested homebuyers. "I don't know if it was that point in the economy," Ryan said. "for whatever reason the program never took off."

Pawlenty's effort to increase minority homeownership by encouraging companies to offer Sharia-compliant mortgages was entirely in keeping with his reputation as a "Sam's Club Republican" concerned with helping "regular people." But in the 2012 race, he'll be up against competitors who may try to use it against him....

Horrified that this came out, Pawlenty and his people raced to Politico's Ben Smith, who now obligingly informs us that "Pawlenty shut down Islam-friendly mortgage program":

... a Pawlenty spokesman told me that the governor has no intention of defending the program -- and that in fact, he shut it down himself as soon as he learned of it.

"This program was independently set up by the Minnesota state housing agency and did not make any mention Sharia Law on its face, but was later described as accommodating it," the spokesman, Alex Conant, said. "As soon as Gov. Pawlenty became aware of the issue, he personally ordered it shut it down. Fortunately, only about three people actually used the program before it was terminated at the Governor's direction."

Pawlenty's objection: "The United States should be governed by the U.S. Constitution, not religious laws," Conant said.

Er, except that Minnesota Public Radio ran a story about the program in 2009, which made clear that the program did, in fact, help potential homebuyers work around Islamic proscriptions against interest. What's more, MPR now informs us that Team Pawlenty's account of the shutdown isn't really accurate:

...Is that what really happened? A program was a little too friendly toward Islam and had to be shut down? Not exactly.

"The new markets program was running for about a year and it happened at the same time a credit crunch hit the country," Megan Ryan, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency, told MPR's Jess Mador today. "The program had only three loans. There was a lot of interest, but many of the borrowers weren't credit ready. In conversations with the governor's office at the same time that the program wasn't being very successful, we did close the pilot program down and shift the funds to other loan programs."

Ryan said had there been better interest, "we would've looked at continuing the program, there was such limited volume, we thought it better to shift to programs that reached more Minnesotans." ...

Poor Tim Pawlenty -- as governor he hated Muslims way less than he wishes he did now.

I'm sure you know about Carlos Lam, the Indiana deputy prosecutor who's now resigned after it was revealed that he urged Wisconsin governor Scott Walker to stage a "false flag operation" in order to gain public support in his battle to bust unions:

...Carlos F. Lam submitted his resignation shortly before the Center published a story quoting his Feb. 19 email, which praised Walker for standing up to unions but went on to say that the chaos in Wisconsin presented "a good opportunity for what’s called a ‘false flag’ operation."

"If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions' cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions," the email said....

The quoted story goes on to quote some of Lam's Net writings, including the profile he wrote when he registered at one site:

Lam wrote in his account profile there that he “believes that to truly prosper as the republic envisioned by the Founding Fathers, we must return to principles of sound money and limited government. He has his own '3G network' that is quite apart from Apple: guns, gold and gasoline.'"

"Guns" and "gasoline" are boilerplate wingnut -- but, um, "gold"? That suggests he's part of a wingnut sub-cult.

My first guess was that he's a Beckite. Then I Googled around and found this story, about a January 2010 Rand Paul campaign rally just over the state line from Lam, in Louisville, Kentucky -- a rally that also featured daddy Ron Paul:

...The son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul has gone from underdog to front runner, and his supporters have gravitated to his conservative views and belief in limited government.

"He understands that these foreign entanglements that we're in, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Haiti for that matter; the founders of our country warned us about getting involved in foreign entanglements. And we can't keep writing blank checks for overseas wars," said Carlos Lam....

Hmmm ... that's pure Paulism -- as is this Lam comment at the blog Seeking Alpha:

Several people warned that the bubble in real estate could have very negative consequences: Peter Schiff, Jim Rogers, Bill Fleckenstein, Ron Paul. Take your pick.

You are correct that none of the above would be fit to run the Federal Reserve; they all believe that the Federal Reserve as an institution should be either severely reformed or done away with precisely because central banking cannot possibly work.

Why do I bring all this up? Because Ron Paul World is a place where everything is a "false flag operation" -- the attempted underwear bombing in 2009, the Fort Hood shootings, of course 9/11; Obama is planning to cancel the 2012 elections after a false flag operation ... you see the pattern.

I don't know how far into the Paul parallel universe Lam got, but if I'm right and he made it even partway in, it's no wonder he thought this idea was just, y'know, normal.

An air traffic controller fell asleep at Reagan National Airport in D.C. a couple of days ago. Ronald Reagan, of course, busted the Professional Air Traffic Controllers' Organization (PATCO), but these folks do have a union today -- the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

But -- as noted in this NBC story and elsewhere -- the sleeping controller wasn't a member of the union. He was an FAA supervisor. That fact was well enough known that even this right-wing blogger felt the need to change the title of his post on the story, from "Unions at Work -- Air Traffic Controller Asleep on the Job" to just "Air Traffic Controller Asleep on the Job."

Update: The title of this post has changed because subsequent news reports indicate that the controller in question was a supervisor, and therefore most likely was not a union member.

Ah, but not Fox Nation.

Here's FN's brand-new thread on the story:

And not only was the sleeping supervisor not a union member, but the union has actually been trying to prevent incidents like this -- as noted in the very story Fox Nation links:

On Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood LaHood directed FAA to launch a nationwide study of airport tower staffing. He also directed that at least two controllers be on duty at night at Reagan, which is located just across the Potomac River from Washington in Northern Virginia.

"It is not acceptable to have just one controller in the tower managing air traffic in this critical air space," LaHood said.

The head of the union that represents air traffic controllers praised LaHood's actions, saying changes in staffing are needed.

"One-person shifts are unsafe. Period," Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said in a statement Thursday. He said the union has long been concerned about single controller shifts, citing a 2006 air crash in Lexington, Ky., in which a Comair regional airliner attempted a takeoff at night from the wrong runway. A single air traffic controller was on duty in the airport tower at the time.

"The administration inherited an unsafe policy of staffing to budget instead of putting safety first," Rinaldi said. "We fully support the administration's aggressive actions to change this policy."

Fox: deliberately setting out to make its audience ignorant. Again.

People who are rooting for big changes to the tax code as a way of dealing with America's deficit and debt tell us we should lower tax rates, but close tax loopholes for individuals and corporations.

Really? We're really going to close loopholes for big corporations?

General Electric, the nation's largest corporation, had a very good year in 2010.

The company reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States.

Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion....

Its extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.'s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world's best tax law firm....

Yeah, as this article (from The New York Times) notes, GE's CEO, Jeff Immelt, is in tight with President Obama. But GE finagled big tax breaks from plenty of other people before Obama became president -- from the Bush administration, from Charlie Rangel in '08 when he was chair of the House Ways and Means Committee (that break was followed by a generous GE donation to New York City's schools, which was announced at a photo op with Rangel). And plenty of other big companies do pretty much what GE does.

Why does the smart set in the Beltway believe there could be a "grand bargain" on the budget someday that closes tax loopholes like this? It's not going to happen. These guys are too powerful.

And when it doesn't happen, who'll be blamed? We'll be blamed. Ordinary Americans -- because we were too greedy, and wouldn't give up our precious Medicare and Social Security benefits, and wouldn't sacrifice our mortgage interest deductions.

Actually, I can see three possibilities: (1) no grand bargain, (2) a grand bargain that eliminates our loopholes but leaves the corporations' loopholes intact, and (3) a vindictive closing of GE's loopholes once tjhe Republicans take over the federal government completely.

And yes, the Times article does note that the government actually did close some GE loopholes in the mid-1980s -- yes, under Reagan, a guy we thought at the time favored big business about as much as was humanly possible, and a guy who actually worked for GE once. But his self-designated ideological heir, George W., didn't follow suit, and in fact was quite generous to GE. The corporatization of America has just gotten worse and worse since Reagan. And teabaggery (as we see in various states with new teabag governors) is hardly reversing that trend.

Forget it. These tax breaks are permanent. And you and I will get to experience "shared sacrifice" in the future, while the bigwigs politely say, "We prefer not to."

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The Wall Street Journal allowed NPR's Steve Inskeep to defend the network today in an op-ed, and Jeff Bercovici has now taken to his Forbes blog to tell us how appalled he is by Inskeep's deceitful remarks -- even though Inskeep actually isn't being deceitful, and Bercovici is:

NPR Uses Fuzzy Math to Fight Liberal Bias Claim

Did you know that NPR's audience actually skews conservative? I sure didn't, and I was shocked to read it in The Wall Street Journal this morning, in an op-ed by "Morning Edition" co-host Steve Inskeep. "In surveys by GfK MRI, most listeners consistently identify themselves as 'middle of the road' or 'conservative,'" Inskeep writes.

It turns out there was a reason I was shocked: It's not true. Or, rather, what Inskeep says is true in the narrowest, most literal sense, but he uses it to lead readers to a conclusion that is the opposite of the truth.

Here are the actual numbers from the research firm GfK MRI, provided to me upon request by an NPR spokeswoman:
28% of the NPR audience identify themselves as conservative or very conservative

25% identify themselves as middle of the road

37% identify themselves as liberal or very liberal
So, yes, it's accurate to say that 53 percent of NPR listeners -- ie. "most" listeners -- are either self-described conservatives of middle-of-the-roaders....

You know what, Jeff? This is simple grade-school math. There's no nuance here: either the numbers Inskeep says add up to a majority actually do add up to a majority or they don't. And -- as you acknowledge -- they do.

And yet you say of Inskeep's assertion, "It's not true." It is true. You say his reading of the statistics is meant to "lead readers to a conclusion that is the opposite of the truth." But it isn't "the opposite of the truth" -- it's the truth. Your assertion that it's the opposite of the truth is an untruth.

And your lead sentences are utterly deceitful, Jeff. Nowhere does Inskeep say, or imply, that "NPR's audience actually skews conservative." He says conservative and moderate. That's true.

Right-wingers regularly whine and complain a couple of different ways that are germane here. Sometimes they complain that, as right-wingers, they're sneered at and abused by the "liberal media." Your point (that most NPR listeners are either centrists or lefties -- that combination adds up to 62%) is relevant to that.

But at other times, right-wingers assert that NPR is dogmatically liberal and that America is a "center-right nation." Well, Inskeep has demonstrated unambiguously that NPR's audience is not dogmatically liberal and is in fact, majority center-plus-right.

Even though you say you're an NPR fan, Jeff, by accusing Inskeep of a lie he hasn't uttered, you've handed a big fat bullet point to the right, which it's already using as a weapon. Which is appropriate, I guess -- righties have never been in the habit of worrying whether their attacks on liberals are truthful, have they?

At first I was delighted by this news:

CNN has exclusively learned that Rep. Michele Bachmann will form a presidential exploratory committee. The Minnesota Republican plans to file papers for the committee in early June, with an announcement likely around that same time.

But a source close to the congresswoman said that Bachmann could form the exploratory committee even earlier than June so that she could participate in early Republican presidential debates....

Bachmann in? Donald Trump at 10% in the polls among Republican voters, largely on a birtherism platform? So much for George Will's attempts to limit the race to sober-sided gray eminences. Let the clown show begin!

But I realize what's going to happen. The Republican presidential field will certainly be clownish, and the clowns will goad one another on to ever wilder stunts, and, as a result, Obama probably won't win the presidency again so much as the GOP will lose it. (While almost certainly picking up the Senate to go with the House, but never mind.)

After that presidential loss, what will we be told? That the GOP lost because the presidential field didn't represent the real Republican Party -- upstanding men and fine leaders such as Mitch Daniels, John Thune, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, et cetera. The George Will columns will write themselves.

And notice something about this? It's the exact opposite of what we were told after Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008. Then the party was full of gray establishment eminences -- Cheney and Rummy and W, and then McCain -- and we were told that the party was defeated because it had "lost its way." So we got a bunch of crazies and teabaggers instead, as well as establishment types trying to act like crazies and teabaggers. And now it looks as if one of them is going to lose.

The upshot of this? No matter how resoundingly voters reject Republicans, the Republican Party is never at fault. We just didn't get to vote for the good Republican Party -- the identity of which changes, as necessary.

Why are we at war in Libya? Fox Nation reveals the secret they don't want you to know:

This comes from World Net Daily's Aaron Klein (author of The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists):

Philanthropist billionaire George Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the global organization that promotes the military doctrine used by the Obama administration to justify the recent airstrikes targeting the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

The activist who founded and coined the name of the doctrine, "Responsibility to Protect," sits on several key organizations alongside Soros.

Also, the Soros-funded global group that promotes Responsibility to Protect is closely tied to Samantha Power, the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights.

The Responsibility to Protect doctrine has been described by its founders and proponents, including Soros, as promoting global governance....

Lovely -- Fox, which is still regarded by most observers in our political culture as a respectable news organization, is promoting the notion that this bombing is about imposing One-World Government, all because of the machinations of a rich ... um ... rootless cosmopolitan.

Congratulations, Fox, WND, and Mr. Klein -- you got that all-important Stormfront link:

I hope you're proud.

This is cold-hearted and horrible, but it's also cowardly:

Buried Provision In House GOP Bill Would Cut Off Food Stamps To Entire Families If One Member Strikes

... a group of House Republicans is launching a new stealth attack against union workers. GOP Reps. Jim Jordan (OH), Tim Scott (SC), Scott Garrett (NJ), Dan Burton (IN), and Louie Gohmert (TX) have introduced H.R. 1135, which states that it is designed to "provide information on total spending on means-tested welfare programs, to provide additional work requirements, and to provide an overall spending limit on means-tested welfare programs."

... one section buried deep within the bill adds a startling new requirement....

The GOP assault on unions is in the form of a massive direct assault in Wisconsin and more than a dozen other states -- but please note that Republicans aren't making this a full-fledged anti-union war at the federal level; Scott Walker is unabashed; this is sneaky. They want to keep the war on unions at the state level -- they're counting on the public not to pay all that much attention to what's going on in the states (and they're counting on the press not to cover the state battles very much, which has turned out to be a safe bet).

Last summer, as Republicans gained ground in the polls and seemed on the verge of taking over both houses of Congress in D.C., I said that Obama and Biden might as well just resign and give us the all-GOP government now. It's a silly proposal, I know, and it's an easily mocked argument -- Hey, if the wingnuts and teabaggers take over, that'll bring us closer to the progressive revolution, maaaan! -- but if they were in charge of everything right now, I wonder if they'd be launching a full-on assault in D.C. right now. More likely they'd still be keeping it subtle in D.C., I suppose. In any case, they do seem to believe they can make gains in the states without tainting the national brand very much in the eyes of Joe Sixpack. Republicans usually guess the nuances of this kind of thing accurately (because they're much better at winning than governing); I wonder if we lefties are overestimating the damage they're doing to themselves, and if this keep-it-out-of-D.C. strategy is going to work for them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Earlier today I wrote a post in response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a teabagger who thinks his infant daughter's heart condition 27 years ago might not have been treated properly if we'd been living under the evil ObamaCare (because pinko socialist medicine stifles cutting-edge innovation, in his opinion). In comments to my post, CH wrote:

On the same subject: down here in Tx, at least, the young man (Dallas Wiens) who received the first US full face transplant is big news. It should also be big news, trumpeted from rooftops, that one big reason he was able to get the transplant is because of Obamacare: Wiens' dad was able to add him to his own policy, due to the reform act's prohibition of exclusion of adult children up to age 26 for pre-existing conditions. However, the Dallas/FW NPR station was the only media outlet to mention that, according to a Google search. Worse, I heard Sibelius on NPR this morning on the Diane Rehm show; the occasion was the 1st anniversary of the reform act, and Sibelius was there to talk it up. I heard not a syllable about Dallas Wiens' face transplant. (In fairness, I wasn't able to hear the whole show.)

Messaging, anyone?

Any Democrats paying attention?

Here's that story, by the way, from KERA in Dallas.

... The Fort Worth dad had no insurance at the time of the accident. The new federal health care law made Wiens' transplant possible because it allowed him coverage under his father's insurance plan.

I do see that MSNBC told us this last fall:

Medicaid paid for his initial care at Parkland, but he was dropped from the federal health care program for the poor when his disability payments put him over its income limits. As a disabled person, he'll be able receive Medicare by June.

In the meantime, he needed his father's insurance to help him pay for anti-rejection drugs, which will cost $1,300 to $2,000 a month, Wiens said. He was able to qualify for his father's insurance because a provision of the federal health care law extends family insurance coverage to adult children until age 26.

The Department of Defense will pay for the cost of surgery, he said. It's underwriting the transplant with the hope of eventually being able to help soldiers with severe facial injuries.

Medicaid, ObamaCare, Medicare, the DoD. Gosh, I don't see a benefactor from the free market in the bunch. Do you?

(Oh, and let's not forget that the first face transplant was performed in the socialist hellhole known as France. Cutting-edge enough for you, Senator?)


Meanwhile, Aaron Carroll of the Incidental Economist utterly demolishes Johnson's arguments.

A new Pew poll says that President Obama is looking good against an unnamed Republican opponent in 2012:

Nearly half (47%) of registered voters say they would like to see Barack Obama reelected, while 37% say they would prefer to see a Republican candidate win the 2012 election, according to the survey....

Dave Weigel says (correctly) that that's because of solid support for Obama from non-white voters:

Look down at the Pew internals, though. Ninety-two percent of black voters want to re-elect Obama, as do 66 percent of Hispanics. Only one percent of blacks (!) and 16 percent of Hispanics want to vote against Obama. That's the source of the positive re-elect number -- break it down to white voters, and only 36 percent of them want to re-elect him.

Of course, Obama didn't win among white voters in 2008 (it's been a long time since any Democratic presidential candidate did). Actually, he's doing about as well among whites as he did in 2008 -- in fact, he's just about exactly where he was in '08 with whites and blacks.

With Hispanics, it's another story.

Here are the '08 exit poll numbers from CNN. (Don't worry -- I'll explain where all this is going below.)

Now, here are the new Pew numbers:

Let's assume that the undecideds in the new Pew poll will distribute themselves the way the decided respondents do -- in other words, let's find out what percentage of decided black, white, and Hispanic voters support or oppose Obama. Then let's compare those numbers to the '08 exit poll numbers:

'08: Obama 43%, McCain 55%
'12: Obama 43%, GOP 57%

'08: Obama 95%, McCain 4%
'12: Obama 99%, GOP 1%

'08: Obama 67%, McCain 31%
'12: Obama 80%, GOP 20%

That last one is a huge leap.

Thanks for signing that immigration bill, Governor Brewer.

In The Wall Street Journal today, Senator Ron Johnson, the teabag hero who beat Russ Feingold, uses his daughter's early-1980s heart condition to slam health care reform:

... Some years ago, a little girl was born with a serious heart defect: Her aorta and pulmonary artery were reversed. Without immediate intervention, she would not have survived....

She wasn't saved by a bureaucrat, and no government mandate forced her parents to purchase the coverage that saved her. Instead, her care was provided under a run-of-the-mill plan available to every employee of an Oshkosh, Wis., plastics plant.

If you haven't guessed, this story touches my heart because the girl is my daughter, Carey....

I don't even want to think what might have happened if she had been born at a time and place where government defined the limits for most insurance policies and set precedents on what would be covered....

Notice Johnson's reference to "every employee of an Oshkosh, Wis., plastics plant." Here's the thing he doesn't mention and clearly doesn't want his readers nationwide to realize: he wasn't just an employee -- he was an owner of the company, called Pacur, which (depending on which story you believe) was either founded in 1977 by some of his in-laws or founded in 1979 by Johnson with an in-law. (It's clear that the company was named for Johnson's brother-in-law, Patrick Curler, and had one of his father-in-law's companies as its only customer for quite some time.)

Last July, while campaigning, he also used his daughter's health problems to score political points. At that time he didn't merely say that the health plan that covered his daughter was available to every employee -- he said everyone at the company had the same plan:

Johnson said his family pushed for cutting edge medical care.

"You sometimes have to go outside of where maybe you're first going to find these very advanced centers and that's what we had to do."

Johnson said the insurance plan of his Oshkosh plastics manufacturing plant was not with a health maintenance organization (HMO) and did not carry the restrictions on providers and procedures typical with HMOs.

"I always made sure at Pacur, we'd have the type of fee-for-service that allowed that."

Johnson said the company's plan was market competitive and not a "Cadillac" plan. As company president, Johnson said he has the same health insurance plan as other employees.

(Or perhaps he's saying that he has the same plan as just some other employees -- the ones who can afford it.)

So what's the story? And if everybody at Pacur is covered by such a swell plan, why was it being reported last year that five Pacur employees with children were on BadgerCare, Wisconsin's government-run plan for uninsured workers?

Johnson pats himself on the back for offering a good health plan at Pacur. But what do you if you work someplace where such a plan isn't offered? And what do you do if you're not the boss, and you're not married to the boss's daughter (or, in this case, the daughter of the boss at your #1 client)? How do you get the kind of care Ron Johnson's daughter got? Can you even get care at all?

Johnson has done very well in life. He's not looking out for your interests. He's looking out for the interests of people like himself.


Ron Johnson doesn't like government programs -- but it's been reported that his very job at Pacur was created under a federal government grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and that a rail spur directly to the Pacur plant was also built with a HUD grant. Oh, and meanwhile, Pacur paid zero in state income taxes from 1997 through 2008.


(UPDATE: Header typo fixed.)