Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Given the caution of the White House and the intransigence of the GOP, I haven't held out much hope for the Obama post-Labor Day comeback tour -- I don't expect Congress to approve anything that will bring jobs, nor do I expect the administration to find a way to act independently, or to direct voter anger at Republicans. But I guess my expectations weren't low enough, because I didn't anticipate anything like what happened today.

The administration declared that it wanted the president's jobs speech to be delivered to a joint session of Congress scheduled on September 7 at 8:00 P.M. -- precisely when the next GOP debate is scheduled to begin, the first one that will feature all-but-inevitable nominee Rick Perry.

The problem is, if you're going to use the power of the presidency to smack down the opposition, you want to be sure that the opposition stays smacked. The Republicans, however, had several avenues of retaliation, and they used them all: some Republicans denounced the move as political, congressman and debate participant Ron Paul threatened to use his prerogative to object to the joint session request, and then John Boehner did object, rejecting the call for the joint session and proposing a postponement to the following day.

So now any on-the-fence voter who's paying attention (and who isn't a politics junkie) looks at what transpired today and concludes that (a) they really are all children in Washington, very much including the president -- they just have to fight, even over something like this; and/or (b) Obama got rebuffed again, because he's just not tough enough to take on these guys and win, even though he's the president. Our non-politics-junkie swing voter may also ask a sensible-seeming question: why did the speech have to be on the same day as the debate anyway? Why not let the Republicans have their time in the spotlight?

Result: Obama looks like part of the problem and he looks weak. A completely unforced error.

Did anyone actually game this out? Did anyone have any sense of what the reaction would be? If you're going to try to reverse-engineer GOP-style tactics, shouldn't you have a sense of how they'll work?

Most top-shelf political pundits and other insiders can't bring themselves to acknowledge that the Republican Party has gone crazy, and is therefore a serious danger to the Republic; that's enough of a problem when it allows the GOP to avoid being held accountable for actively harming the country (e.g., in the debt standoff) -- but it also may be part of the reason Rick Perry will coast to the GOP nomination.

Think about it: we know that the only person standing between Perry and the nomination, Mitt Romney, has been slow to respond to the Perry insurgency. Why is that? Partly it's because Romney would like to stick to his original strategy for this race, and partly it's because he's a wimp -- but also, I think, it's because he believes the conventional wisdom, which says that there's enough sanity in the contemporary Republican Party to hold off a guy as polarizing as Perry and give the nomination to Romney if Romney just stays on message.

I don't believe that. I think Romney believes it because the Beltway believes it, and the Beltway believes it because the Beltway can't bear not to believe it. So denial of the GOP's psychopathy harms the one not-quite-crazy Republican still standing in the race.

Fighting probably wouldn't work for Romney anyway -- the party is really far gone, and he'd have to fight by becoming more Perryesque himself. But Romney's donning of conventional-wisdom blinders only makes him even less likely to mount an adequate challenge.

And, of course, the purveyors of conventional wisdom still won't admit that the party is crazy when Romney folds early and Jon Huntsman doesn't even crack 5% in New Hampshire (or 2% in Iowa or South Carolina) -- they'll just move their notion of where the center is to wherever Perry's standing, and keep telling us that the party is not controlled by lunatics.

From Fox Nation, more Putin porn (click to enlarge):

As DougJ noted a while back at Balloon Juice, Erick Erickson posted this about a year ago, contrasting it with photos of Obama golfing, bicycling, eating ice cream, et cetera:

I'm sure this tendency will go domestic soon. Rick Perry, take your shirt off, and watch the right-wing heterosexual men drool.

Zeke Miller, blogging at Business Insider Politix, does a premature victory dance for Rick Perry:

The Perry (Un)Electability Argument's Quick Demise: He Polls Three Points Behind Obama

A new poll from Quinnipiac University has former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama tied in a hypothetical general election matchup -- and the Republican frontrunner, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is not far behind.

Obama and Romney would each get 45 percent of the vote if the general election were held today, while Obama would slightly edge-out Perry 45-42 percent....

For Perry, who has faced criticism from some in the Republican party as being unelectable because of his conservative positions, these poll numbers are a relief....

Yeah, I suppose they're a relief to Perry, but they're not the last word, for one simple, obvious reason: when you scroll through Quinnipiac's numbers, you discover that 55% of poll respondents haven't heard enough about Perry to form an opinion about him. That includes 58% of independents and 61% of women (two groups in which his unfavorable rating exceeds his favorable rating among those who do know enough about him to have an opinion).

So, for much of America, Rick Perry is still undefined.

Now, in America we admittedly have an absurdly high tolerance for right-wing blowhards. But I think there's a limit to that tolerance, and Perry has an excellent chance of exceeding that limit. I'm thinking just of how he'll frame himself to win primary votes, as well as how the Obama campaign or (perhaps more critically) Saturday Night Live will frame him.

In spite of all that, sure, he might still be electable. But it's really too soon to know.

Gee, do you think maybe this is part of the reason the government is hurting for money?

Of last year's 100 highest-paid corporate executives in the United States, 25 earned more in pay than their company recorded as a tax expense in 2010.

Those 25 firms reported average global profits of $1.9 billion. Among the 25 were Verizon, Bank of New York Mellon, General Electric, Boeing and eBay....

For example, Bank of New York Mellon paid its chief executive Robert Kelly $19.4 million last year, while the company got $670 million in what amounted to a tax refund, according to the [Institute of Policy Studies] report....

Kelly has complained about the high U.S. corporate tax rate in the company's annual meetings....

I know people in Vermont and upstate New York whose lives have been turned upside down by flooding from Irene. Some of them are in towns that were poor and struggling to begin with. Yet the congressional emissaries of our Galtian overlords insist that any federal disaster relief be offset because, as Ron Paul tells us, we're bankrupt.

Many Americans are not bankrupt. Many Americans are rolling in it.

But we've turned America into a personality cult. In place of David Koresh or Warren Jeffs, we put every top CEO in America. They're the "job creators," so we do what those CEOs tell us to do. We go without so they can have more, because we believe they protect us. We believe they protect us even when they refuse to protect us. We believe they protect us even when they deliberately hurt us.


More on the study at the IPS site.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Lawrence Wilkerson's reaction to Dick Cheney's memoir is getting some attention:

In no uncertain terms. Cheney, Wilkerson told ABC News, "was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration" and "fears being tried as a war criminal."

The first part of that just seems self-evident; the second part, if it's true, seems like a domestic version of the One Percent Doctrine:

The One Percent Doctrine ... is a nonfiction book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ron Suskind about America's hunt for terrorists since September 11th....

The title comes from a story within the book in which Vice President Dick Cheney describes the Bush administration's doctrine on dealing with terrorism:

"If there's a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It's not about our analysis ... It's about our response."

Try Cheney as a war criminal? I don't think it's just an unusually Obamaesque level of timidity that's preventing that -- I don't think any Democrat who sought the nomination other than Kucinich would have pursued Cheney legally or allowed any international or overseas court to try him. The Village would howl if such a thing were allowed.

Cheney should know that -- he should know that only one side plays hardball (I don't believe Republicans will hesitate to throw ex-President Obama to the legal dogs if there's any pretext) -- and yet I see him as operating from the same kind of odds-ignoring fear, because he likes believing he's a target of people who want to destroy him.

I thought his and Liz's joint Going On Offense Tour in the early days of the Obama administration was an attempt to ward off indictment. He needn't have bothered.

Mitt Romney is now attacking Rick Perry as a "career politician." I agree with what Steve Benen says in response to that -- but I don't think it's a full explanation for why the line of attack won't work:

...the "career politician" line seems especially odd given Romney's background. Isn't this the guy who ran for the Senate in 1994, ran for governor in 2002, ran for president in 2008, and is running for president again in 2012? Indeed, by most measures, he's been running for the White House continuously for more than four years.

In other words, wouldn't Mitt Romney be a career politician, too, if only voters liked him a little more?

Beyond that, I'll point to George W. Bush, who dodged the draft during Vietnam by flying planes Stateside for the Texas Air National Guard, yet had the unmitigated gall to don a uniform and (reportedly) fly a military aircraft on May 1, 2003, then run for president a year and a half later against a three-time Purple Heart winner as the real war hero in the race. He won, of course, thanks to adulation by the right-wing base, which suggests that if you're a wingnut hero, the base will conclude that you are what you pretend to be. (Bush was also a "rancher" with no real ranch, as well as a Texan with a New England pedigree and Ivy League degrees.)

Perry, to the base, would not be a career politician if he'd been in office longer that Strom Thurmond and Robert Byrd combined. Perry wouldn't be a career politician because everyone knows he hates government and hates politicians. Therefore, even though he can't remember the last time he drew a private-sector paycheck, he's an outsider. Oh, sure, he's an outsider with government experience, but watching him feels like watching an outsider (if you're in the base).

Romney really has to do better than this.


UPDATE: Holden Pattern writes in comments:

I think there's a category in the wingnut brain for "career anti-politician" which means someone who spends their career claiming to hate the government from which they draw their paycheck and their friends' payola.


From The New York Times:

The White House has issued detailed guidelines to government officials on how to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with instructions to honor the memory of those who died on American soil but also to recall that Al Qaeda and other extremist groups have since carried out attacks elsewhere in the world, from Mumbai to Manila....

Copies of the internal documents were provided to The New York Times by officials in several agencies involved in planning the anniversary commemorations. "The important theme is to show the world how much we realize that 9/11 -- the attacks themselves and violent extremism writ large -- is not 'just about us,'" said one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal White House planning....

Typical wingnut blog reaction:

This is why we need to elect Republicans! Republicans would never say anything like this! The previous Republican administration certainly understood that!

Er ... um ...

State Dept. Official Urges Inclusive Tack on 9/11

Published: September 1, 2005

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 -- With the approaching anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Under Secretary of State Karen P. Hughes sent a message on Wednesday to American ambassadors that they should attend interfaith services on that date or make some other gesture noting "that this is not just about us" but about other countries.

"I think it's a very humble way, on the day of our national tragedy, to remember that other people have experienced horrible tragedies," said Ms. Hughes, who started this month as the Bush administration's overseer for "public diplomacy," a job in which she has been charged with repairing the poor image of the United States overseas....

Yeah, yeah, I know -- Bush was being a wimpy girlyman sandal-wearing hippie liberal Democrat when he gave Karen Hughes that job. It's as if the brain of manly Cowboy Codpiece Flightsuit Bush was temporarily taken over by an evil weak appeasement virus. But Bush tortured people, and he never accepted Cheney's resignation, so this doesn't really count, and Obama is still the most evil president of all time.

Over the weekend, Zandar wrote this about attacks on Social Security by Rick Perry and Marco Rubio:

At this point, Republicans aren't just touching the third rail of American politics, they're dismantling the entire system with dynamite. And voters my age and younger are cheering them on, knowing that "they'll never see a Social Security or Medicare check" but they sure are seeing FICA come out of their current paycheck every month. If you wonder why or how anyone under the age of 35 would even consider voting Republican in 2012, the GOP assault casting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as "failed government boondoggles" and "unconstitutional taxes on the working class" is basically the entire GOP youth vote program.

And for a generation that has grown up with Reaganite "government as the problem" rhetoric all their lives, it's no big deal to talk like this.

My question is whether this might actually work in the long run -- whether the conventional view of the bright Democratic future we can look forward to when all the tea party folks in their motorized wheelchairs leave the scene is actually going to be a Ron Paul future, even though Paul himself will also be gone.

A week ago, Jonathan Chait looked at a Gallup poll of the GOP presidential race and noticed that Rick Perry led every demographic group ... except the 18-to-29-year-olds, who preferred Ron Paul:

Maybe Rick Perry figured that out -- say what you will about him, but he's been a shrewd campaigner over the years -- because he's talking this Paul-esque talk and now there's a new CNN poll showing him way out in front of the GOP field, and, as Dave Weigel notes, the guy who's losing the most as Perry gains is Ron Paul:

The trendlines are from August 5-7, the last week before Perry got into the race.

Rick Perry - 32% (+14)
Mitt Romney - 18% (-5)
Michele Bachmann - 12% (+3)
Newt Gingrich - 7% (-1)
Ron Paul - 6% (-8)
Herman Cain - 2% (-3)
Gary Johnson - 2% (+2)
Jon Huntsman - 1% (-4)
Rick Santorum - 1% (-2)
Thaddeus McCotter - 1% (+1)

Perry up 14, Paul down 8. Maybe Perry will be Elvis Presley to Ron Paul's Arthur Crudup -- the guy who makes this new thing palatable to the masses. And I say that with trepidation.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hey, I'm back. Zandar, thank you again -- you did an amazing job while I was gone.

I realize I may have led you to believe I was heading into the teeth of the storm, when in fact I was heading away from it, to the Twin Cities. I was mostly worried about being stuck in an airport for days while flight backlogs worked themselves out, but everything was ridiculously easy. For some reason, God didn't curse me.

And speaking of divine curses, we visited the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul over the weekend and there sure did seem to be a lot of anti-Bachmann crop art (for the uninitiated, as I was until two days ago, that's art literally made out of seeds and grains). I stupidly attended without a camera, but others were smarter than I was:

This one may be a bit too O-bot for some of you (click to enlarge):

Posting for real tomorrow....


Today's Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama on Monday plans to nominate Princeton University's Alan Krueger to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, a White House official said.

If confirmed by the Senate...

And you can end the story right there, because Senate Republicans will simply block the nomination as part of whatever hostage scenario they are planning next.  In fact, the RNC is already on the attack:

Within minutes of the announcement, Republican National Committee Research Director Joe Pounder flagged 2009 remarks by Krueger during his tenure as an assistant secretary at the Treasury Department in which he touted the benefits of a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.

“New WH Chief economist: ‘The proposed cap-and-trade program holds the promise of creating new industries and jobs,’ ” Pounder said on Twitter Monday.

Pounder’s comments shed light on Republicans’ plans to undercut Krueger’s nomination. 

So six months from now when Kreuger still isn't confirmed and primary season starts up, you'll know why.  The Republicans assure government remains broken in the middle of a massive economic downturn and blame Obama for it, and it works perfectly.  It will keep on working because if the Democrats complain, Republicans can simply say "The American people aren't interested in blame, they're interested in results" and they'd be right.

And there's basically nothing President Obama can do that doesn't play right into GOP hands.  If somebody can suggest something, that would be great.  Pour political capital into this fight and the Republicans will say "Boy if only you spent that much efforts on job creation!"  Do nothing and the GOP wins by default.  The political reality is to hope that the GOP ignores this and moves on, but that's already a problem.

But there is something we as voters can do:  just keep in mind that it's Republicans who have broken the system and vote accordingly.

Rick Scott, the Lex Luthor of GOP governors, has a bit of an e-mail problem down in Florida.

Florida Governor Rick Scott says he only learned within the past two weeks that emails from the transitional period between his election last fall and his swearing-in as governor had been irretreviably lost.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, however, the Texas company that set up the email accounts notified Scott's transition team by mid-March that emails from 44 out of 47 accounts, including Scott's own, had been permanently deleted.

Now here's the problem with that.  Those transitional team e-mail accounts?  Florida law prohibits those records from being deleted.  Ricky here may actually be in a world of trouble:

The deletions represent a violation of Florida public records law, which provides for penalties ranging from a $500 fine up to impeachment for an official who "knowingly violates" the law.

Which means if Scott was informed by the hosting company that his accounts would be zapped and the Scott team did nothing to preserve the e-mails anyway, then somebody's head could roll.  Wouldn't it be amusing to see Mr. Free Market here get taken down for outsourcing his team's email to another state and then failing to keep the records?  Hey, they got Capone on tax evasion.

Paul Krugman gets his stuff together long enough to point out  the real problem in Washington and the economy has to do with anti-science Republicans driving away any semblance of innovation and even rational analysis of America's financial woes.  Rick Perry has problems with evolution.  Mitt Romney will pretend to have problems with evolution to win the nomination.  Jon Hunstman will call the entire GOP out on that and as a result, has no chance in the Neo Know Nothing party.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe. 

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change. 

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions? 

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

But then again, leveraging the power of ignorance is the GOP's greatest strength.  It's a terrifying prospect to be sure, but for the growing millions drowning in the sea change of the information economy, passed over by the dizzying speed of technology or locked out of the digital frontier by cost or unavailability in a world where internet access is as important a utility as power, water, and phone, the power of the GOP message remains strong.

"You don't need to be smart to be in charge" is a route that rarely loses.  We spent eight years under its aegis and nearly wrecked our country.  The lowest common denominator mob is a force to be reckoned with, and for the large part of the country where technology has failed to bring advances past the next gaming system because the cost of wiring the country for the latest technology is prohibitive for telcos and impossible for our austerity-crazy government, it's exactly the prescription they are looking for.

Conservatism, in the classic definition, is hesitant to embrace technology.  Why is anyone surprised that the GOP answer to the 21st century is to replay the 19th?

Sunday, August 28, 2011


The latest numbers from Irene put over 4 million Americans without power tonight, stretching from South Carolina to Maine.

Nearly 4.2 million homes and businesses along the U.S. East Coast were without power Sunday evening as Tropical Storm Irene, downgraded from a hurricane as it hit New York early Sunday, continued to wreak havoc on power grids in New England even as the storm weakened, according to reports from power companies.

New York City avoided the extensive damage and power loss that had been feared.

While Irene's visit took less than a day, work to restore power will likely take weeks and cost millions.

Hopefully help will be directed to where it needs to go and fast.  But the reality is that the storm has caused billions of damage across the mid-Atlantic and New England, and the Republicans have already signaled that paying for the cleanup will be the next hostage situation they plan to force when Congress is back in session after Labor Day.

Hopefully the Democrats are ready to fight on this.


Gotta hand it to FOX News, they never pass on any opportunity to attack the notion that the federal government has any business helping Americans making less than six figures.  The latest stupidity thanks to Hurricane Irene:  this FOX Nation hit piece on, believe it or not, getting rid of the National Weather Service courtesy of the Randian think tank brotherhood at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

While Americans ought to prepare for the coming storm, federal dollars need not subsidize their preparations. Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness. 

No, seriously.  That's the argument.  It gets worse.

As it stands today, the public is forced to pay more than $1 billion per year for the NWS.  With the federal deficit exceeding a trillion dollars, the NWS is easily overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. It may actually be dangerous.

Relying on inaccurate government reports can endanger lives. Last year the Service failed to predict major flooding in Nashville because it miscalculated the rate at which water was releasing from dams there. The NWS continued to rely on bad information, even after forecasters knew the data were inaccurate. The flooding resulted in 22 deaths. 

Private weather services do exist, and unsurprisingly, they are better than the NWS. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the National Weather Service was twelve hours behind AccuWeather in predicting that New Orleans would be affected. Unlike the NWS, AccuWeather provides precise hour-by-hour storm predictions, one of the reasons private industry supports them.

You know why AccuWeather and the Weather Channel stay in business?  Because they take the basic weather data that the National Weather Service provides and they refine it.  They are provided raw meteorological data provided at the public domain level by, you guessed it, that barbarous and outdated relic known as the NWS.  Otherwise, we need to abolish the NWS because they're not 100%, and the Magic Of Liberty Free Market power will make forecasts more accurate...if you are willing to pay for them.  The weather service providers take a public service and make it better.  If anyone's guilty of corporate welfare here, it's AccuWeather and the Weather Channel, who take the free data provided and then make money off of it

That of course is not mentioned in this idiotic tirade where meteorologists are added to the list of government evil that must be drowned in Grover Norquist's Bathtub Of Liberty.  Because the NWS doesn't have enough funding, they are dangerous and should be eliminated so that, why exactly?  We live in a world where weather forecasts are only available to those who can afford it?  As global climate change makes weather patterns more erratic and dangerous, are these morons really saying that we need to cut the NWS and privatize all weather prediction, so that the rich survive and the ignorant poor are literally washed away?

But why should anyone be surprised by this nonsense?  We've turned teachers, police officers, firefighters, public safety employees, and bus drivers into evil, parasitic unionized cancers on American society that must be expunged.  Why should the weather guys get a pass?

Let's put the NWS on the block and put them in the unemployment lines too.  Hey, it's a "jobs program."

Rick Perry has reversed himself again, now saying that he stand by everything in his book "Fed Up" including the notion that Social Security is unconstitutional.  Saturday at a campaign stop in Des Moines, Perry made it clear:

KEYES: But should states-rights supporters be worried that, as governor you said that Social Security is not something that falls in the purview of the federal government, but in your campaign, have backed off that?
PERRY: I haven’t backed off anything in my book. Read the book again, get it right. Next question.

Rick Perry is far from the only Republican who wants to end Social Security.  Last Wednesday Sen. Marco Rubio indicated that he would like nothing more than to get rid of the program (along with Medicare) because it's "weakened us as a people".

These programs actually weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.

At this point, Republicans aren't just touching the third rail of American politics, they're dismantling the entire system with dynamite.  And voters my age and younger are cheering them on, knowing that "they'll never see a Social Security or Medicare check" but they sure are seeing FICA come out of their current paycheck every month.   If you wonder why or how anyone under the age of 35 would even consider voting Republican in 2012, the GOP assault casting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as "failed government boondoggles" and "unconstitutional taxes on the working class" is basically the entire GOP youth vote program.

And for a generation that has grown up with Reaganite "government as the problem" rhetoric all their lives, it's no big deal to talk like this.  You will see more of this as we get closer to the election, the faux-libertarian movement to dismantle the federal government under the guise of "liberty and freedom" is exactly what corporate America wants.

And Republicans are pretty confident they can achieve that, very soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


A new Associated Press poll shows that Americans aren't happy with Congress (and in no way is this news) but they're really upset with Republicans in Congress in particular.
Only 12 percent approve of the way Congress has been handling its job, matching a historic low in the poll.

But the poll shows signs that Americans are increasingly blaming Republicans for congressional gridlock. While 68 percent disapprove of congressional Democrats, 75 percent disapprove of congressional Republicans. And 50 percent of the country strongly disapproves of Republicans in Congress, up from just 39 percent in June.

The full poll breakdown is here (PDF) and it's an interesting read.  By Rasmussen math, where we subtract the strongly disapprove number from the strongly approve number, President Obama was around -21 during the same time period as this poll.  Congressional Republicans by comparison are at -45.  Oh, but it gets worse for the GOP:

Only 29 percent of those polled have a favorable view of Boehner; the Republican leader won just a fifth of independent support.

Among the most troubling signs in the poll for congressional Republicans was the sentiment that voters were holding their own congressmen accountable, rather than just the Congress as a whole.

Traditionally, pollsters find that while Congresses might suffer bouts of unpopularity, most people continue to support their own representatives. But the AP-GfK poll showed that only 38 percent want to see their member of Congress reelected — a tough sentiment for House Republicans who are defending their majority in that chamber.

And there's the bombshell.  The numbers now are as bad or worse than in 2010 when voters gave the Republicans 60+ seats in the House.  America is already completely regretting that action and the GOP has only been in charge of the House for seven months.  Now granted, the numbers for the Democrats are not much better...but they are better.

There are rules to the Obama Derangement Syndrome game, folks.  The forms must be followed in American political Kanly, and a perfect demonstration is taking place this weekend.  Step The First, we have this tweet, courtesy of pro golfer and ESPN analyst Paul Azinger:

Facts: Potus has played more golf this month than I have: I have created more jobs this month than he has:

Now working for ESPN and not FOX News, the Zinger was told by his employer that this sort of thing was probably not a good idea.  He's not paid for his political analysis but his golfing analysis, and it's not like he's the first guy to get reigned in by a network or even the first analyst to get checked by ESPN for making public comments on Twitter.  That was Step Two, the response:

On Friday ESPN 'reminded" Azinger his venture into political punditry violates the company's updated social network policy for on-air talent and reporters.

"Paul's tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field," spokesman Andy Hall told Game On! in a statement.

Once again this shows how pervasive Twitter and Facebook have become in the social fabric of America.  In 2011, major corporations have social networking policies.  This goes especially for media companies.

But the way ODS works is to ignore all that logic stuff and go straight for the Obama Hate...and that means Dana Loesch at Big Lie, (and CNN too) who then says this proves Obama is controlling the liberal media bastion of ESPN because Kenny Mayne said something mean on Twitter about Sarah Palin, who is not President of anything and he wasn't immediately flayed alive.  Step Three, The Faux-reakout.

Now the right wing blogs have picked up on this and are demanding that True Real American Patriots boycott ESPN as The Enemy (and watch FOX Sports, right?)  Step Four, The Growing Controversy.

Step Five, How Will Obama Handle This Mess He Created? is of course demanding that the White House "respond to this major controversy" when this "breaking story" is picked up by the rest of the Village.  ESPN analysts will be called in.  You will see Zinger on the TV talking politics.  Sports guys will become talking heads.

Step Six, We Declare Victory Over Obama is I don't know, a golf summit between Obama and Azinger, and then the RWNM attacks Obama for playing golf again (and POTUS has just proven that all he does is play golf!)

You see how this idiocy works, and yet it's the predictable news cycle and has been for three years plus now.  Every time.  More than cleaning out Washington of idiot politicians, we need to clean out idiot Villagers.

(Howdy folks.  Zandar here, filling in for the big guy while he's out there braving the weather this weekend.  Stay safe if you're in Irene's path.)

A friend of mine last week was saying how Ron Paul "made sense".  I replied that Paul made sense for about 60 seconds, but if you ever listened to him longer than that, you find out that he's crazy.  Case in point, hey folks back home in North Carolina?  When you're digging out from Hurricane Irene this weekend, remember that under President Ron Paul, you wouldn't be getting a lick of help from the Feds.

"We should be like 1900. We should be like 1940, 1950, 1960," Paul told a reporter for NBC News after a lunch-time speech in Gilford, N.H. "I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.”

"There's no magic about FEMA. They're a great contribution to deficit financing and quite frankly they don't have a penny in the bank. We should be coordinated but coordinated voluntarily with the states," Paul said. "A state can decide. We don't need somebody in Washington."

This isn’t the first time the libertarian-leaning Texas Congressman had made controversial remarks regarding FEMA. In a May 13
interview with CNN, Paul called for the elimination of the agency.

“Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild my house? Why shouldn't I have to buy my own insurance and protect about the potential dangers,” Paul said. “Well, the reason we don't have market insurance is it's too expensive. Well, why is it expensive? Because it's dangerous. Well, so why should - why should we take money from somebody else who don't get the chance to live on the Gulf and make them pay to rebuild my house?”

It's your stupid fault for being North Carolinians.  You should pay the insurance market premium for living in a dangerous area.  Hurricanes are all about the freedom to have your entire town wrecked and you rebuilding it.  Telling the less fortunate to "deal with it" is the American Way in Ron Paul's LIBERTY BLIMP IS GO America, where hurricanes are STORMS OF FREEDOM.

On the other hand, President Ron Paul would give us interstate pit fights.  Probably actually taking place on actual interstates.  American exceptionalism through elimination of the weak and poor!  I'll tell ya, Thomas Jefferson totally put that in the original draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Just because Ron Paul is Lex Luthor and not Godzilla doesn't make the cities any less destroyed when he's done, folks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when....

No, I'm not quitting again. I'm just taking what I thought would be a routine trip, with plans to be back late Monday night -- but even though I'm flying tonight and will beat the hurripocalypse, I don't know if I'm going to be able to get back Monday or have to spend days sleeping in an airport. Oh, and I'm hoping Zandar will fill in while I was gone, but I think my e-mail to him went astray. Zandar, if you're up for it, jump in, please -- in fact, anyone who has the keys to this place should jump in.

See you ... sometime.

I'd love to eviscerate what David Brooks says about Rick Perry, but I'll confine myself to Brooks's claim that Perry is successful for two reasons:

He has a simple and fashionable message: I will bring government under control. His persona is perfectly tuned to offend people along the Acela corridor and to rally those who oppose those people.

I agree with the second part, but as for the first, what is Perry saying about government that hasn't also been said by every non-Mormon in the race throughout their political careers (and by Romney for the past four years)? Bachmann, Cain, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul -- how is "I will bring government under control" any different from their message? (Perry does also add Jesus, guns, and killing brown people, but so do all the others, except Paul on point #3.)

So it's the persona -- it's really just the persona. It's the sense that he can offend, bully, and subdue people in the Northeast Corridor -- which Brooks intends as shorthand for (as he says elsewhere in the column) "the interlocking oligarchy of politicians, academics, journalists, consultants and financiers," but it's actually shorthand for you and me and all the rest of the dirty hippies and non-whites and gays and women and so on who don't know their place.

Citing this New York Times story, Dave Weigel writes:

I haven't yet read In My Time -- hey, I'm still slogging through Mondale's autobiography -- but I trust Charlie Savage when he says Dick Cheney's memoir ends with scenes like this.
[I]n the epilogue, Mr. Cheney writes that after undergoing heart surgery in 2010, he was unconscious for weeks. During that period, he wrote, he had a prolonged, vivid dream that he was living in an Italian villa, pacing the stone paths to get coffee and newspapers.
In this dream, did he also run into Tony Blundetto and have an argument with Buddhist monks?

Funny, my first thought was that Cheney was dreaming of this:


Peggy Noonan is worried about what she calls Rick Perry's "popping-off problem":

His primary flaw appears to be a chesty, quick-draw machismo that might be right for an angry base but wrong for an antsy country. Americans want a president who feels their anger without himself walking around enraged....

Why does this kind of thing matter? Because presidential temperament has never been more important. We can't escape presidents now, they're all over every screen, and they set a tone.

And the nation is roiling and restive. After Mr. Obama was elected, the right became angry, feisty, and created a new and needed party, the tea party. The right was on fire. The next time a Republican wins, and that could be next year, it will be the left that shows real anger, with unemployment high and no jobs available and government spending and services likely to be cut. The left will be on fire. The only thing leashing them now is the fact of Mr. Obama.

So there will be plenty of new angers out there. It probably won't be helpful if the next president is someone likely to add to the drama with a hot temperament or carelessness.

Well, to start with, is Noonan nuts? We're the left -- we're not going to be "on fire." Among ourselves, we're going to be fuming, but no one outside our circle will even notice. Oh, maybe we'll launch an actual campaign to turn back 1% of the new Republican agenda, like the current campaigns in Wisconsin and Ohio, but we'll meet mixed success at best and that will be that. Otherwise, no one will notice us. We'll be all but invisible.

And as for Perry, it doesn't matter what his actual style is, because his perceived style -- his style, that is, according the gone-native journalists covering him -- will be portrayed for us as just charming and delightful. Check out this, from The New York Times today:

When Rick Perry popped in for popovers at a Portsmouth, N.H., cafe recently, he cheerfully dismissed the bevy of protesters awaiting him and the two women haranguing him about Social Security. He handled the skeptics with aplomb, grinning at the hecklers and displaying a self-assured ease with everyone from the littlest of children to the angriest of voters.

... at a Portsmouth meet-and-greet last week, Mr. Perry seemed to relish his contact with locals. Kristin Bunce, 43, helped ease her 9-year-old son, Sam Beane, into Mr. Perry's path to ask a question. The governor crouched down so he was just inches from Sam's face, and in a soft, calm voice began to answer.

"How old do I think the earth is?" Mr. Perry said. "You know what? I don't have any idea. I know it's pretty old, so it goes back a long, long way."

Ms. Bunce urged Sam to ask the governor about his views on evolution, and Mr. Perry began to answer her question, still talking to Sam. (Mr. Perry's patient encounter with the boy would draw attention to his claim to the child that creationism is taught in Texas public schools, but in reality requiring its teaching would be unconstitutional.)

See? You thought that moment was a gaffe. Nonsense! It was a "patient encounter"!

Even lefty journos are seeing starbursts:

Travis Waldron, a reporter who was tracking the candidates for, a liberal Web site, spent a week bouncing between the candidates. He found that Mr. Perry favored perfectly tailored pinstriped pants, with a crisp white shirt and a tie, while Mr. Romney often wore jeans or khakis with an open-collared button-down shirt. But despite Mr. Perry's more formal sartorial choices, Mr. Waldron marveled that he seemed more confident and at ease than Mr. Romney. The Texas governor just rolls in to events, he explained, exuding an air of "Yeah, I'm wearing pinstripes and Lone Star cuff links. This is who I am."

Comfortable in his own skin! Oooh!

So no matter how angry he is, Perry -- from now until the moment as president when he sinks below 35% in the polls -- will be depicted as a nice guy who (shucks!) sometimes neglects to watch his tongue, just the way the short-tempered, snappish George W. Bush was always depicted as a nice guy until, oh, around 2006, after he'd done most of his damage.

(It's actually Romney who gets dinged for his temper in the Times article -- recently he's said to have "found himself sparring with voters like a priggish crossing guard," which is the sort of sneering campaign-dispatch insult that's the press's way of declaring that you're doomed as a candidate. Needless to say, the rhetoric would be going the other way if Romney were still beating Perry in the polls. But really, what does temper matter anyway? Noonan worries about a hothead setting off the rabble, but who set off the teabaggers? Obama. Hell, Michael Dukakis would have set them off.)

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Via Fox Nation, I see that Joey Vento has passed away:

The owner of the landmark South Philadelphia cheesesteak stand who once told customers to order in English has died.

Family members confirm to Action News that 71-year-old Geno's Steaks owner Joey Vento has died of a massive heart attack on the way to the hospital.

His family said Vento had recently undergone successful surgery for colon/rectal cancer after being diagnosed last year....

Vento was beloved by man[y], but he was also a controversial figure.

In June 2006, Vento and Geno's made headlines over two small signs posted at the shop stating, "This is AMERICA: WHEN ORDERING 'PLEASE SPEAK ENGLISH."' ...

Vento has since been active in Tea Party politics. He was recently in Iowa for the Republican Iowa Caucus and has received a number of awards from the Tea Party....

Yeah, what a prince. Here he is at a tea party rally a couple of months ago quoted bogus immigration statistics and accusing President Obama of hating America and deserving impeachment:

Thirty percentage of our prison population is illegal. Why are we locking them up and giving them three squares a day? They're living better in jail than in their own country! I say ship 'em back, let their country take care of them!

(In 2007, after hearing Lou Dobbsa say something similar on TV, David Leonhardt of The New York Times dug up the realnumbers. The foreign-born population in federal prisons -- legal residents and otherwise -- was actually 24% in 2001 and 20% in 2005. In state prisons, it was 4.6% from 2000 to 2005. Leonhardt wrote: "Over all -- combining federal and state prisons -- 6.4 percent of the nation's prisoners were noncitizens in 2005. This is down from 6.8 percent in 2000. By comparison, 6.9 percent of the total United States population were noncitizens in 2003, according to the Census Bureau.")

More from Joey Vento:

These people come here, they don't want to assimilate. All they want to do is drain us. They got their hands out. Our forefathers came here, we had something to offer. We made the country great.

(Some of our Joey Vento's people, who were also my people, had an interesting way of making the country great -- with machine guns. But never mind.)

Obama's the wrong man in that office there. He's actually an empty suit. I believe he's a communist. I believe he should be impeached.... He has no respect for this country. Our military, I don't know how you can stand behind this man when you know he hates you. He loves every country that hates and wants to destroy us. Our country and our friends, he goes against.

Oh, and a bonus video: Vento at his most eloquent:

Yeah, my eyes are dry.


UPDATE: Michele Malkin weeps for "Joey Vento, assimilation warrior."

Steve Kornacki may be right when he says that the Rick Perry bubble could burst, but if so, it's not going to burst this way, at least not during GOP primary season:

Every mistake he makes now will become instant fodder for cable news and the blogosphere, with the potential to dominate a news cycle or two. How will he handle one-on-one interviews with reporters? (Remember when George W. Bush flunked that world leaders pop quiz in the 2000 race -- how would something like that go over for Perry?)

Well, how did it go over for Bush? He went on to win the nomination. He went on to be president for eight years. That interview did no damage to him, and may have actually helped him politically. And that was years ago, when contempt for people who actually know stuff was somewhat less than universal among Republican voters.

But I guess Kornacki's point is that Perry could be taken down, in that event or under other circumstances, by the GOP elites:

...these elites -- elected officials, money-men and -women, interest group leaders, activists, and conservative media outlets and personalities -- will be key in determining whether Perry's moment lasts. If they conclude that nominating him would be an electoral risk, they will develop messages and strategies to convince rank-and-file GOP voters to look elsewhere. With Trump earlier this year, we caught a glimpse of how this works: His red-hot birtherism made elites uncomfortable and some of them used their clout to diminish him. We've also seen it with Sarah Palin: Think of how GOP elites happily joined the media's pile-on after her tone-deaf response to Gabrielle Giffords' shooting in January....

And if he develops a reputation as a wild-man candidate (just imagine the SNL caricature), it will only make elites more nervous -- and more willing to use their sway to stop him.

Perry may be a male Palin, but there are big differences, and I think they're the reasons why the elites won't be as effective at stopping Perry. Palin quit her job; Perry didn't -- that means he can still lay claim to being an effective executive (and he can say he's done it a hell of a lot longer than half a term). Palin gets distracted by the stuff that makes her non-political gossip fodder; Perry doesn't. Palin is teasing us with a campaign; Perry actually hunkered down and set a real campaign up. (And Perry is male, which means he can fit a pre-existing president archetype in right-wingers' brains, namely the Reagan/Bush archetype. Palin is not Margaret Thatcher.)

The Giffords thing? I think if Perry did something like that, he could survive it. I think Palin could have survived it, too, if she seemed (by GOP standards) serious otherwise. (The bar isn't that high, really -- Michele Bachmann basically clears it.)

In general, the problem is that the elites are going to struggle if they want to take down Perry because he's memorized their playbook. It's Rove's playbook from 2002 and 2004: seem like Daddy protecting us from danger; have no enemies on the right; divide the world into "us" and snooty liberal elitist haters (which provides cover whenever anyone criticizes you for any reason -- they're just nuance-loving eggheads! we have simple Amurrican values!). The problem for any GOP elites is that if they want to challenge him, even though they wrote the playbook, it means they're among his egghead enemies. They sowed the seeds of their own demise.

And no, this analogy isn't valid:

[Romney's] bet is that when it comes time to make a call, the elites will decide he's the only solid general election option they have and help sell him to the base. This is roughly the same route that John Kerry followed on the Democratic side in 2004, when he won the nomination after falling behind -- far, far behind -- Howard Dean in the late months of 2003.

That worked because we Democratic voters may have been to the left of mainstream opinion on the war, but we weren't out of our freaking minds. We were content to dump Dean in favor of a non-insurgent candidate if his opinion on the war matched ours; we didn't want an insane radical who wants to throw decades of American governance out the window. Big difference.

I don't know why The Wall Street Journal ran this op-ed by Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen telling us, yet again, that the two-party system better watch it because a serious third-party presidential campaign is coming -- no, for real this time! Did it run because these guys just write the same piece every few months and the Journal slots it in whenever there's a slow news day? Is it meant as an oblique warning to Republicans that they'd better go with Romney over Perry or a third-party candidate will throw the election to Obama? Is Murdoch sucking up to Mike Bloomberg, to whom Schoen regularly plays Smithers?

I have to confess, however, that I think a third-party candidate actually could compete this time around -- mostly because the public isn't as far right as Perry, the likely GOP nominee, and yet I see huge amounts of dissatisfaction with Obama. If Obama loses in a two-way race to Perry, he's going to lose not to Perry but to not-Obama -- and someone coated in journalist-supplied centrist pixie dust could just as easily pick up enough of that not-Obama vote to win a three-way race. (Or at least win the popular vote, and be competitive in the Electoral College -- although if this happened and no one got 270 electoral votes, the race would go to the House and, public opinion be damned, the 'pubs would pick Perry even if he finished third.)

I keep wondering why Jon Huntsman doesn't just quit the GOP race right now and declare for president as the Tom Friedman candidate. Can you imagine the plotzing in the media? A guy who believes in evolution and a flat tax? Journalists would love to make a guy like Huntsman their hero for 2012, and he's screwing it up.

But his ego is bound up in proving that he can win both a GOP primary campaign and a general election as a Republican "maverick" (as is the ego of John Weaver, his campaign guru). That plus the nomination of the (if we're lucky) too-extreme Perry might be what saves Obama in 2012.

You may have seen this at Think Progress:

...Tuesday in New Mexico, the strains of racism and ethnocentrism that exist in the Tea Party movement emerged again. As Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) prepared to tour a nonprofit organization in Farmington, he was met by a dozen Tea Party protesters, one of whom asserted that Lujan was not an American. The Farmington Daily Times reports:
Darrel Clark of Farmington said he came for "a chance to see the elusive representative."

"He needs to get out of politics and make room for an American," Clark said....
...Lujan, however, was born in Santa Fe, has lived in the U.S. all his life, and is the son of a public school administrator and the speaker of New Mexico's state House of Representatives....

The Farmington Daily Times story adds:

Farmington, as a conservative bastion in a mostly liberal district, is tough country for Lujan. San Juan County voters favored his opponent, Farmington Republican Tom Mullins, by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio in 2010.

Simple racism, right? But if you look at San Juan County's election results for 2010 (PDF), you see that the Hispanic gubernatorial candidate of the GOP, Susana Martinez, beat the Anglo Democrat, Diane Denish, by more than a 2-1 margin (Martinez 24,857, Denish 10,777).

Of course, the political views of Governor Martinez are rather appealing to folks who ordinarily question whether Hispanics are Americans:

Martinez, 51, a county prosecutor, makes no bones about her opposition to illegal immigration and to any measures that would make it easier for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship or remain in the United States without punishment. Like [Marco] Rubio in Florida and other Hispanic Republican candidates, she ran on an anti-illegal immigration platform, promised to secure the border and opposed allowing illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses in New Mexico.

Born in El Paso, Texas, of Mexican-American parents, Martinez was accused during the campaign of betraying Mexicans and Mexican-Americans for her support of tough anti-illegal immigration measures.

... She and her husband are pro-life, believe in small government, and oppose welfare and handouts. In other words, she fits the conservative Republican mold. She had no trouble getting tea party support.

It's the same pattern we see with Clarence Thomas and Allen West and Herman Cain: conservative whites have racist feelings, but make exceptions for "their" non-whites, because "their" non-whites agree with them on the issues, especially issues of ethnicity. That's why Marco Rubio is going to be on the GOP ticket this year.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


From Politico:

David Limbaugh, the conservative author and brother of Rush, tweets an image you're likely to see again....

We patchouli-scented lefties and Democrats are all supposed to be quaking in our hemp sandals. But, um, why? Do you realize that the major-party candidate with less military experience became president as a result of the last five elections?

1992: Bill Clinton (no military service) beat Poppy Bush (World War II veteran).
1996: Clinton (no military service) beat Bob Dole (World War II veteran).
2000: George W Bush (Texas Air National Guard) "beat" Al Gore (Vietnam veteran).
2004: W (Texas Air National Guard) beat John Kerry (Vietnam combat veteran).
2004: Barack Obama (no military service) beat John McCain (Vietnam combat veteran, POW).

The culture war David Limbaugh is fighting? The American people don't give a crap. Or at least they haven't given a crap in a generation. Only the political world cares.


UPDATE: Nice bit of Photoshop from the Mahablog.


The man in the picture below is John Paulson, shown next to his $41 million estate in the Hamptons.

Paulson made a lot of money last year:

Topping the charts in hedge fund pay was John Paulson, who reportedly earned $4.9 billion. Paulson's name at the top of the "rich list" isn't too surprising, given that his $36 billion Paulson & Co has emerged as one of the industry's top performing funds.

AR reports that Paulson's 2010 earnings even bested the $3.7 billion he made in 2007, when he rocketed to hedge fund fame with his enormously successful wager on the housing market's collapse.

This is Elisa Mizerany.

Her luck lately hasn't been quite as good, as the New York Daily News reported last December:

Ground Zero volunteer Elisa Mizerany of Nashville would like to give a piece of her mind to her two senators this week, except she's too sick to make the trip to Washington.

The former office manager, 54, is housebound on oxygen, coughing her guts out, a shell of the dynamo she was when she volunteered with the Red Cross near the rubble of the World Trade Center for six weeks in 2001.

"Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) need to come here and meet people who got sick like me and Dottie," she said, referring to her fellow Tennessean, Dorothy Hall, who has the same interstitial lung disease that killed NYPD Detective James Zadroga.

"And they need to pass this 9/11 health bill now. There are too many of us who were there in it, in the dust, in the crud without proper equipment," she added. "For them to sit there in Washington and pretend nobody needs anything is a lie. Pardon my French, but they need a fire lit under their asses."

The bill was eventually passed -- but guess which one of these people the Republican candidate for Anthony Weiner's seat wants to help out with a massive tax cut, and which one he'd squeeze for a bit of shared sacrifice?

The GOP hopeful running for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner's seat says the $4.3 billion Zadroga 9/11 health law is too broad -- and shouldn't cover volunteers sickened at Ground Zero.

Republican Bob Turner told the Daily News Editorial Board the measure President Obama signed into law last year "had a lot of things that could have been a lot better."

... "My call would be to protect police, fire, emergency workers, construction workers, etc.

"If someone said, 'I volunteered' or walked through there, it's just not the type," added Turner, who faces Democrat David Weprin in the Sept. 13 special election....

As for Mr. Paulson? Well, if he's like most hedge fund managers, his income is taxed at the capital-gains rate of 15 percent -- well below the rate paid by much of the middle class. But at National Review Online a couple of months ago, Turner wrote that that tax rate is still too high:

My desire to go to Congress was to fix what’s broken and go home. End subsidies. End government dependencies. Dramatically cut the budget by 30 or 35 percent. Slash capital-gains taxes down to zero. Cut taxes across the board.

(Emphasis added.)

Ah, but it's only fair, right? Paulson and the rest of the hedge funders have allowed people like Elisa Mizerany to have a free ride for way too long.

A lot of people know about Rick Perry's assertion in his book that the Depression ended only because, at the time of the Second World War, "FDR was finally persuaded to unleash private enterprise.” That's an absurd description of what FDR did at that time -- but what's odd is that I can't remember seeing a mention of what Perry says right after that in the book, an assertion that strikes me as possibly the most politically damaging thing he's said:

And there you have it: the vaunted New Deal did not bring the country out of the Great Depression, but the bigger problem now is that its numerous programs never died, and like a bad disease, they have spread. The impact of the New Deal is staggering not just because of the number of programs but also because of their scope. Certain of these programs massively altered the relationship between Americans and their government with respect to critical aspect of our lives, violently tossing aside any respect for our founding principles of federalism and limited government.

By far the best example of this is Social Security.

(Emphasis added.)

Want to beat Rick Perry in a general election? Start there: Rick Perry calls Social Security "a bad disease."

And today we have this from Marco Rubio, the likely #2 on the Republican ticket, in a speech at the Reagan Library, as reported by The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf:

In the 20th Century, America's leaders ..., Rubio says, ... made a well-intentioned mistake: "Except for the Reagan Administration, to be quite frank, both Republicans and Democrats established a role for government in America that said yes we will have a free economy, but we will also have a strong government, which through regulations and taxes will control the free economy, and through a series of government programs, will take care of those in our society who are falling behind. That was the vision crafted in the 20th Century by our leaders."

Reagan actually shared much of that vision, but set that aside. Rubio says it was doomed to fail from the very start. It was financially unsustainable, he argues. But more importantly, he said:
These programs weakened us as a people.

You can go to Friedersdorf's post for a longer quote, but the gist of what Rubio is saying is right there. And so there's Democratic message #2: Marco Rubio says Social Security and Medicare "weakened us as a people."

Are the Republicans just so cocksure at this point that they don't believe the Democrats can do effective messaging on this (despite the fact that Social Security and Medicare are just about the only subjects on which Democrats have done effective messaging in recent years)?

Or are the Republicans just so caught up in "epistemic closure" that it simply doesn't occur to them not to make these assertions?


Over at Salon, Steve Kornacki has a piece titled "How to Make Sarah Palin Disappear" -- but I don't think his plan would necessarily work, and there's an easier alternative.

The safe bet remains that Sarah Palin is simply engaged in a long and tiresome tease. Every few weeks comes some new sign of her supposedly imminent entry into the GOP presidential race, but nothing ever seems to happen....

Which is sort of a shame. Because if you're tired of all of this, and if you're tired of all of the media oxygen that the former half-term Alaska governor still manages to consume, then you really should be hoping that Palin actually does get into the race: It may be the best way of making her disappear for good.

Why? Because a presidential campaign would almost certainly end in defeat for Palin. And not just any kind of defeat -- epic, humiliating defeat, the sort of disaster that might once and for all convince the political and media worlds that the empress has no clothes....

Let me try a simpler approach to convincing the political and media worlds that the empress has no clothes:


Yes, lefty bloggers still mock her, but that's because she's pathetic and amusing (and because the press's insistence on continuing to cover her is pathetic and amusing). "Serious" journalists should drop their coverage of her and leave her to the rest of us, as a pure target of snark. She should be treated the way Rick Santorum is treated -- as an also-ran who can't figure out how to stop being snickered at online.

Besides, the scenario in which she permanently humiliates herself by running isn't necessarily valid. If she does decide to run and loses, she'll just say she lost because the "good old boys' network" engaged in a sinister plot to thwart her. Will anyone fall for that? Oh, absolutely -- her cult will. So her status will be exactly what it is now: she'll be worshiped by just as many voters, and mocked by all the others -- but the persistence of the cult (and her inexhaustible lust for attention) will continue to draw the media's attention. In which case, we'll never be rid of her.

Well, this just confirms the obvious:

A new poll shows Texas Gov. Rick Perry with a double-digit lead nationally over the current 2012 frontrunner, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

The poll, which will be released Wednesday by Public Policy Polling (PPP), is not being detailed in advance, the New York Post reported. But PPP's Director Tom Jensen confirmed Perry's double-digit advantage to the Post....

A Rasmussen Reports national poll out Aug. 16 showed Perry leading Romney by 11 points, 29 percent to 18 percent....

Rick Perry is running for the Republican presidential nomination. Are Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman? I mean, we know Huntsman doesn't appear to be, or if he is, he's going about it in a peculiar way, namely by insulting the beliefs of the people who vote in Republican primaries and caucuses:

...he's now attacking fellow Republicans for, among other things, not embracing the science of global warming. "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," Mr. Huntsman said on Twitter, a criticism of recent remarks by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Mr. Huntsman followed that up on Sunday on ABC, telling Jake Tapper that the GOP has a "serious problem" when it becomes "anti-science."

But what about Romney? Does he realize he actually has to win this nomination before he can compete against Obama in the general election? In other words, has it occurred to him that he actually has to beat Rick Perry first? Yesterday he confirmed yet again that he thinks he's already running against Obama:

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said today he will unveil his jobs plan on Sept. 6th, the same week as President Obama unveils his plan -- possibly even the same day....

The timing of presenting a jobs plan, in particular, also allows them to bracket President Obama once again.

In June, Romney criticized President Obama at a shuttered steel plant in Allentown, PA, soaking up news coverage, on the same day the president attended a pair of fundraisers in Philadelphia. The Romney campaign also released a series of Web videos timed to the president's fundraising and travel schedules, including one highlighting Chicago's economic struggles under the current administration during President Obama's birthday visit to his home city. Last week, the campaign released a pair of videos hitting President Obama on the economy, set in stops along his Midwest bus tour route.

All of which is fine, except that he's in a world of hurt in this race, and Perry is hitting every wingnut pleasure center right now -- really, if you went to a lab and tried to build a candidate who hit every wingnut pleasure center, you'd come up with Rick Perry.

Oh, wait, I see -- Romney, according to The Atlantic, is letting the little people do his dirty work for him:

Romney is unlikely to engage the Texas governor much beyond drawing the contrast between their depth of experience in the private sector, at least for now. Romney's mission is to present himself as the strongest challenger to Obama. Sniping at Perry doesn't further that goal.

That strategy depends on the media and other presidential candidates doing the dirty work for him. And on this part, he's had some early success. Rick Santorum compared Perry to liberal Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) for his red-meat criticism of Bernanke. Jon Huntsman took Perry to task for suggesting that climate change and evolution aren't real. Both are exactly the kind of volatile issues that Romney would rather avoid in a GOP primary.

Um, Mitt? If your strategy depends on Rick Santorum and Jon Huntsman to do your messaging, I think you need a new strategy.

Yeah, Romney can still fall back on electability -- PPP polling shows that he ties Obama, 45%-45%, while Perry loses to Obama 49%-43%. But that's the "I'll be a dependable mate" argument to Republican voters, and Perry is looking more and more like the guy who's making them fall head over heels in crazy love.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


The Atlantic Wire reports on a wingnut-media semi-freakout in reaction to today's earthquake, possibly with a where's-Obama? subtext:

... Tuesday's earthquake gave rise to a completely fantastic rumor that slowly seems to be gaining merit -- or at least earnest investigation: That the Washington Monument was tilting to one side. About 45 minutes after the 1:51 p.m. quake, Fox News started reporting that it had gotten reports the Washington Monument was leaning. "Megyn Kelly just shared word that a D.C. police officer told a Fox News producer that there is concern that the Washington Monument may tilting following a 5.9 magnitude earthquake," Fox News Insider reported. The Washington Times picked up the story....

It seems clear to us (though we aren't there), that the police officer who talked to Kelly was referring -- possibly in a semi-joke -- to the distant possibility that something had gone wrong with the monument. This tweet from CNN's Jim Acosta seems to support that: "park police have cleared the entire mall area surrounding the Washington monument. An officer quipped 'so it doesn't fall on anybody.'" ...

Let's see what's happened since then: AP reported at 2:44 that the Washington Monument is all right. The Washington Times updated its story to relay that news (as relayed from AP by The Hill).

Fox? Still no update, more than three hours after AP reported the all-clear, at Fox News Insider or in this story, which still says,

Marine helicopters were seen hovering above the D.C, and there were reports that the Washington Monument may be tilting.

(Matt Drudge is also still running a small headline that reads, "WASHINGTON MONUMENT 'TILTING'?... DEVELOPING..." -- even though the link is to the WashTimes story that now says there's nothing to worry about.)

I guess the Fox reaction is old-school tabloid scaremongering -- or it's an attempt to make the event seem worse than it is as an implicit rebuke to the vacationing president.

And speaking of scaremongering, there's this at Fox News Insider:

Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who said that many sentiments heard on the ground involved a fear of a terrorist attack on the capital; Baier said those on the streets outside reflected on how the feelings of the earthquake and aftershocks took them back to the feelings directly after 9/11.

The Fox News D.C. bureau will remain evacuated through Tuesday, Bret saying he and the Special Report team will be bringing us tonight’s show live at 6p ET from outside of the bureau.

I guess the pants-wetting nature of the right extends to events that even vaguely seem like terrorist attacks.

Greg Sargent wants to paint Rick Perry as a tax extremist -- which is valid, because Perry is a tax extremist. However, as I'll explain below, I'm not sure Perry's more of a tax extremist than anyone else who's likely to be on the GOP ticket next year:

If I were one of the reporters covering Rick Perry's campaign travels, I'd try to make some news by asking: Do you still stand by your proposal in your book to repeal the 16th Amendment and replace the income tax with an alternative tax system? Do you still believe your book's claim that 16th Amendment is "the great milestone on the road to serfdom?"

...The book ... does in fact contain specific policy prescriptions on the income tax. In it, Perry declares that the 16th Amendment represents "the great milestone on the road to serfdom" because it represented "the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States."

Perry clearly states that "we should restrict the unlimited source of revenue that the federal government has used to grow beyond its constitutionally prescribed powers." How? Here’s what Perry suggests, in addition to scrapping the current tax code:
Another option would be to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution (providing the power for the income tax) altogether, and then pursue an alternative model of taxation such as a national sales tax or the Fair Tax.
I've been asking the Perry campaign since last week if he still supports this idea, and haven't gotten an answer....

But how extreme is this in the modern GOP? As National Review Online notes:

... Jon Huntsman implemented a flat tax of 5 percent in Utah, Newt Gingrich has expressed support for a near-flat or an optional flat tax in the past, and Michele Bachmann is at least open to a flat tax.

And that nice, moderate, right-centrist Mitt Romney?

... in Plymouth, N.H., [on August 15], Romney made [this] statement...: "The proposals that I'll be putting out this fall will talk about bringing our tax rates down, both at the corporate level and the individual level, simplifying the tax codes, perhaps with fewer brackets. The idea of one bracket alone would be even better in some respects," Romney said.

He went on to stress that he didn't want to provide tax cuts to the rich ..., but it's hard to see how "the idea of one bracket alone" is anything other than a flat tax.

Bachmann, by the way, favors a radical reworking of the tax code:

In a profile in The Wall Street Journal, Bachmann says she loves the FAIR tax proposal but just cannot bring herself to back it in the House.

"If we were starting over from scratch, I would favor a national sales tax," the three-term Minnesota congresswoman says. But the reality is that if it were enacted, the chances are "we would end up with a dual tax, a national sales tax and an income tax."

Bachmann says her tax plan would be to take corporate rates down from 35 percent to nine percent and "zero out" capital gains tax, the alternative minimum tax and the death tax.

But she says the main problem with the U.S. tax system is that nearly half the population pays nothing. She says all deductions should be abolished “because there is no tie to the government benefits that people demand.

"Everyone should have to pay something," she insists.

Ron Paul has proposed a 10% flat tax.

Herman Cain is a passionate Fair Tax fan:

Herman Cain ... talks about the ways the FairTax plan would supercharge the U.S. economy sooner rather than later.

* The FairTax plan will replace the federal income and payroll based tax system with a simple, transparent and fair national retail sales tax.
* You will bring home your entire paycheck, and then you decide when and how much you pay in taxes when you spend your money.
* Taxes are assessed at the retail, or consumption, level so businesses will be able to compete globally.
* The ability of politicians and lobbyists to manipulate the tax system to benefit themselves and their interests goes away under the FairTax plan.

The flat tax eliminates progressivity, of course -- but are you following how a Fair Tax/national sales tax would not merely be less progressive than the (somewhat) progressive income tax we have now, but overtly regressive? Think about it: If you're poor or lower middle class, you probably have to spend every dime you take in just to survive. (You don't "decide" to spend your money, as Cain says. You really have no choice, unless you want to forgo such luxuries as food, clothing, and shelter.) But the wealthier you are, the less you need to spend, and the more you can save or invest. If the government taxes only what you spend, it taxes 100% of the earnings of the poor -- and a far smaller percentage of the earnings of the rich (except the biggest spendthrifts among the rich).

That's an almost perfectly regressive tax.

Oh, and that nice, mainstream Marco Rubio -- the most likely #2 on any GOP ticket?

RUBIO: ...We should be the party of tax reform. We're constantly talking about tax cuts and their importance, but tax reform is even better. Change our system of taxation, whether it's a Fair Tax or a Flat Tax.

Eliminating the income tax seems like an extreme idea, but it's about to become very, very mainstream very, very quickly. I'd love to believe that liberals, the Democratic Party, and centrist pols and pundits are prepared to explain why this is a horrible idea, but I'm guessing that, as usual, the Overton window is about to be moved quite far to the right before non-righties even know what's hitting them.