Friday, January 23, 2009

The Beturbaned Brown Horde Strikes Again

Republican Congressman Steve King has Muslim paranoia and fearmongering down to a f'ckin art form, man. An art. Form.
Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order requiring that Guantanamo Bay be closed within a year. Obama’s order has been criticized by some conservatives, such as Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), who issued a statement saying that it “places hope ahead of reality” and was “unnecessarily risking the safety of our nation.”

Discussing Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo on Mike Gallagher’s radio show yesterday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) claimed that Obama’s actions could be “the beginning of shutting down…the activities of the CIA.” When Gallagher said that Obama wanted to “bestow American citizenship rights to somebody from another country” who wants “to murder civilian Americans,” King claimed that closing Gitmo could put 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed “on a path to citizenship”:

KING: Let’s just say that, that, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, is brought to the United States to be tried in a federal court in the United States, under a federal judge, and we know what some of those judges do, and on a technicality, such as, let’s just say he wasn’t read his Miranda rights. … He is released into the streets of America. Walks over and steps up into a US embassy and applies for asylum for fear that he can’t go back home cause he spilled the beans on al Qaeda. What happens then if another judge grants him asylum in the United States and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is on a path to citizenship. I mean, I give you the extreme example of this.

King then took a shot at efforts to increase access to health care for children, saying that if Gitmo were closed, detainees “could actually live in the United States legally, and maybe, and after Nancy Pelosi gets done with S-CHIP, they can tap into welfare while they’re at it.”

Above, Steve King's helpful hints

I think we're done here.

Hail Those Merciful In Their Victory

The ranks of the Merciful Victors doesn't count Israel, in case you're keeping score.
Israel dismissed on Friday international calls for a full reopening of border crossings with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, leaving a shaky ceasefire and post-war reconstruction in doubt.

While a U.N. official praised Israel's "goodwill" for letting 120 truckloads per day of food and medicine into Gaza, other diplomats decried restrictions on steel and cement imports needed to make repairs after Israel's 22-day offensive.

Israel also blocked the Western-backed Palestinian Authority from sending cash to Gaza, despite international warnings that President Mahmoud Abbas's standing was at stake.

"They are afraid it will go to Hamas," a senior Western diplomat said of the cash. Barring a swift change in Israeli policy, the diplomat said the emergency response and long-term reconstruction were "bound to fail."

U.S. officials voiced support, under certain conditions, for opening the crossings more fully, but they set no timetable.

Why should Israel listen to Obama at this point? Bush has already given them all the nifty Palestinian-killing weapons they could want. And hey, you can't say Israel hasn't learned anything from the effectiveness of the right-wing noise machine during the Bush years. Blog your way to better propaganda today, I say.

More Stimulus And Response

Me, eight days ago:
In all honesty folks, is anyone surprised? Give the GOP an inch, they take the whole playing field, the stadium, the parking lot, the concession stands, the bathrooms, the overflow parking, the streetlights, the little parking shuttle tram and the sports bar across the street. When you try to walk down the center of the highway, you get hit by the eighteen-wheeler. The only purpose Obama serves for the GOP is to be somebody to blame for this economy. They will do everything they can to destroy him on this. The more Obama gives in, the more the GOP is able to control the narrative (and the Village will help them every step of the way.)
Republicans, today:
Top Republican lawmakers on Friday unveiled a plan for tax cuts and other steps meant to pull the battered US economy out of its slump after White House talks with President Barack Obama.

The blueprint, anchored on a series of tax-cut proposals and an effort to prop up sagging US home values, came with the Senate and House of Representatives looking to send Obama a stimulus bill by February 16.

Republicans have fiercely opposed a Democratic bill that comprises 550 billion dollars in spending and 275 billion dollars in tax cuts, charging it is too big, would do little to restore growth, feeds too many pet projects, and kicks in too late.

But "there's unanimity that our economy needs help," House Minority Leader John Boehner said at the White House after laying out the Republican initiative before Obama.

The Republican plan relies on cutting lowest individual tax rates from 15 percent to 10 percent and from 10 percent to five percent, tax deductions for small businesses, and a ban on tax increases to pay for new spending -- which they say should be paid for by cutting spending in other areas.

It would also make unemployment benefits tax free, and offer a home-buyers credit for those who make a minimum down payment of five percent, according to a statement from the Republican leadership.

Me, eight days ago (again):
In the end, Obama has two choices: act like he and the Democrats won an overwhelming majority in 2008, or cede control of the country to the obstructionist GOP minority.
Obama's response, today:

The top congressional leaders from both parties gathered at the White House for a working discussion over the shape and size of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. The meeting was designed to promote bipartisanship.

But Obama showed that in an ideological debate, he’s not averse to using a jab.

Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”

The statement was prompted by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona , who challenged the president and the Democratic leaders over the balance between the package’s spending and tax cuts, bringing up the traditional Republican notion that a tax credit for people who do not earn enough to pay income taxes is not a tax cut but a government check.

Obama noted that such workers pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, property taxes and sales taxes. The issue was widely debated during the presidential campaign, when Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee, challenged Obama’s tax plan as “welfare.”

With those two words — “I won” — the Democratic president let the Republicans know that debate has been put to rest Nov. 4 .

Glad to see somebody up there is paying attention.

Inevitable followup Village Stupidity, Jennifer Rubin:

I suspect that all that sweet talk about bipartisanship is going to be thrown overboard and this will be rammed through on essentially a party-line vote. The President met today with House Republicans, reminding them “I won.” It doesn’t sound like he is actually in the mood to alter the bill’s substance, although he will go through the motions of meeting with them again next week. Meanwhile, the House bill is moving swiftly along.

Now the process may have annoyed Republicans, but the content has appalled them. They are now on firm ideological grounds to oppose it en masse.

Then it will be up to the President. Does he sign this very old-school, hodgepodge of a bill? Brooks declares, “He didn’t run for president just to sign whatever bills the Old Bulls put on his desk.” But if he does just that (after all, he said he liked the Democrats’ bill), then the economy will either get better on its own or it won’t get better at all. If the economy doesn’t perk up, the Democrats will be alone in shouldering the blame. After all, Nancy Pelosi told us: “Yes, we wrote the bill. Yes, we won the election.” And now they’ve demonstrated what they will do when left to their own devices.

Yes, because the Democrats own this economy and the Republicans had nothing to do with it. Then again, the wingers are rather loud about their insistence that Obama fail.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

The king of the happy-face financial media, the Wall Street Journal opinion page, is starting to take Nouriel Roubini seriously enough to publish him. (emphasis mine)

Some optimistic experts are now saying that though this will be a turbulent year for global markets, the worst of the financial crisis is now behind us. Would it were so. We believe that 2009 will be tougher than many anticipate.

We enter the new year grappling with the most serious global economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy is, at best, halfway through a recession that began in December 2007 and will prove the longest and most severe of the postwar period. Credit losses of close to $3 trillion are leaving the U.S. banking and financial system insolvent. And the credit crunch will persist as households, financial firms and corporations with high debt ratios and solvency problems undergo a sharp deleveraging process.

Worse, all of the world's advanced economies are in recession. Many emerging markets, including China, face the threat of a hard landing. Some fear that these conditions will produce a dangerous spike in inflation, but the greater risk is for a kind of global "stag-deflation": a toxic combination of economic stagnation, recession and falling prices. We're likely to see vulnerable European markets (Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria), key Latin American markets (Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador and Mexico), Asian countries (Pakistan, Indonesia and South Korea), and countries like Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic states facing severe financial pressure.
So yeah, the party is just getting started. Unlike the Asian monetary crisis of the 90's and the Japanese stag-flation collapse of the 80's, there's not going to be a bigger, more stable country like the US to invest in us to pull us out of this mess. Everyone else in the world is going to be in even worse shape than we are, and we're facing a borderline depression scenario.

2009 will be not just historic, but infamous.

One Last Thing...

If there's any more doubt that Kirsten Gillibrand is a hideous choice for Senator and that progressives screwed up royally by blocking Caroline Kennedy, then the fact that Paul Begala is penning very creepy political love notes to her with remarks like "My own strong belief is we will see a woman president sooner than most suspect" is all the proof you should ever need that this whole thing was botched from beginning to end by pretty much every Democrat involved.

Dear America:

"After giving Barack Obama enough time as President to make his inauguration address (roughly twenty whole minutes for crissakes), I have determined he is no great leader like George W. Bush was."

--Robert Tracinski, Intellectual Activist

Bonus verbatim Tracinski: "As for Obama, we know that he has spent his whole life in the company of ideological leftists. These were serious ideologues, ranging from Marxist college professors to preachers of "black liberation theology."

You know, serious ideologues, unlike this crack-smoking douchebag.

The War On Labor

There's been lots of GOP huffing and puffing on Obama's cabinet appointees this week, but so far all have passed with flying colors. However, that could very well change.
President Barack Obama’s nominee for Labor secretary is running into fierce resistance from Republicans over her reluctance to state her views clearly on legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize.

The nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis has yet to be approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — even though her confirmation hearing two weeks ago was among the first for Obama’s cabinet picks.

The committee, chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, could not say Thursday when it would hold a vote.

Even if the committee approves Solis, her nomination could be blocked by a Republican senator on the floor.

The committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming, has been pressing for more detailed responses to questions posed on several issues, including the Employee Free Choice Act or card check bill.

The legislation would allow workers to organize simply by handing in enough cards expressing their preference. Under card check, union membership rose steadily in the past century until 1947, when Congress, under pressure from business, began requiring secret ballot elections. Unions claim the election campaigns allow management to dissuade workers with threats. Businesses argue that card check allows unions to pressure workers unduly to organize.

When asked Thursday whether he was satisfied with the answers Solis has given, Enzi said: “What answers?”

“She doesn’t even recognize her own record when giving the answers,” Enzi said. “Right now there are people who don’t want her out of committee. It’s not just me.”

While most of the press has been focused on Obama's appointee for AG Eric Holder, the real fireworks are over Solis and her support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

If there's one issue both the Chamber of Commerce and the Rightwing Nutjob wings of the GOP can agree on, it's killing the bejeezus out of union labor. EFCA would make it much, much easier to organize collective labor unions in the country, and the GOP is having none of it.

While the opposition to Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, and Lisa Jackson at the EPA have been symbolic, the GOP has the long knives out for Solis, EFCA, and the Labor Department in general. Obama's going to have to face down the "anonymous hold" law, because frankly, Solis won't even get a vote as long as the GOP can do this.

The hold can be lifted by a filibuster-style 60 vote margin, but forcing that vote is one of those things that just isn't done by Senate tradition.

Obama's going to have to do something about it and soon.

Clearly It's Some Sort Of Brilliant Trick

After eight years of the Village reading too much into Bush's complete incompetence and attributing it to being "shifty political maneuvers based on never wanting to ever be pinned down on anything substantive", the Village has taken a look at Obama's position on Gitmo and decided that it's a "shifty political maneuver based on never wanting to ever be pinned down on anything substantive." (h/t Digby)
Following up on my post below, I just heard Jim Miklasewski on NBC Nightly News say that Obama's orders today are designed to give himself wiggle room to distance himself from Bush's policies but not force him to live up to his campaign promises. Seriously. As I said earlier, I don't know that this is what Obama intended, but it's what the political media are interpreting his actions to mean.

I'm sure I don't need to go into the moral dimension of this issue, but I think the administration needs to set the press straight on this if he means to have a successful foreign policy. Trying to split the baby on these issues is impossible and it will undermine his moral authority in the rest of the world if they think he's being cute. (You can bet the intelligence community will leak any information that indicates he isn't sincere.)

If he means to make a clean break, he should make it clear to the media that it's what he means. They aren't seeing it that way.
Nor will they. You see, trying to pretend that everything Obama does is a brilliant Cheneyesque ploy to become Barack O-teflon is much more fun than reporting boring shit like "Obama has principles" or "Obama has a conscience" or "Obama has a human soul inside his human body and not kept in an obsidian phylactery" or anything that you know, might be the truth. Hope and change? They have to die. Hard. Obama must be defined as "just another politician" so that the Village can continue running the show.

Part of the "Obama is worse than Bush" meme of the next four years is to establish that Obama is no different from Bush on the substantitive issues, that everything he does is just politics and jockeying. Attributing all the stuff Democrats accused Bush of being and doing to Obama is a vital part of the plan. The "much worse" part is then much easier to segue into.

However, Digby is right: Obama has to lay down the law on the Village Idiots before they define Obama into something he most certainly isn't.

Well Now Here's Your Problem

The problem with your "liberal" Village media is the fact they can't identify actual fucking liberals. (h/t Balloon Juice) has its list of the “The 25 Most Influential Liberals In The U.S. Media“. Here’s some of the people on the list: Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman, Chris Hitchens, Andrew Sullivan, Fareed Zakaria, Fred Hiatt.
Yes, Rae-Rae, Double G, The Kroog, Kos The Great Orange Satan, Josh Marshall and Jon Stewart are no brainers. But if you can't actually find 25 liberals, they can't be that influential, now can they? I mean come on, Chris Matthews? I can think of a dozen folks more influential *and* more liberal than f'in Tweety. Check the blogroll on the side, damn. Steve Benen, Pam Spaulding, Amanda Marcotte, Marcy Wheeler, Jane Hamsher, Digby, BooMan, the list goes on and on folks.

And people wonder why the Village is broken. Jesus.

Unintended Consequences

Kinda goes like this.
  1. Progressives see NY Republican John Sweeney is a douchebag.
  2. Progressives convince Kirsten Gillibrand to run against him.
  3. Gillibrand has backing of the Pataki Republicans and Chuck Schumer.
  4. Gillibrand beats Sweeney in 2006 by running as a Bush Dog.
  5. Gillibrand makes a hard right in order to get re-elected in 2008.
  6. NY Governor Eliot Spitzer resigns in disgrace.
  7. Lt. Gov. David Paterson ends up Governor.
  8. Hillary Clinton loses the primary to Barack Obama.
  9. Obama goes on to win the Presidency.
  10. Obama appoints Clinton to State.
  11. Paterson finds he needs to pick somebody to replace her.
  12. Progressives want Caroline Kennedy. Well, most of them.
  13. Kennedy ends up getting done in by a combination of incompetent handlers, GOP gadflys, and Paterson's ego.
  14. Paterson wants to get re-elected in 2010, so he names Gillibrand to get votes he'll need in 2010.
  15. Gillibrand ends up Senator.
Now, here's where I see this going: either Gillibrand splits the vote in the primary and the Republicans win this seat in 2010, or she keeps the seat by being a de facto Blue Dog and voting against progressive measures in the Senate.

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Your Liberal Media Strikes Again

Politico headline of Obama's first press visit to the White House press corps last night? "Obama flashes irritation in press room."

You stay classy, San Diego.

Paterson Makes His Play

The practical upshot of the Caroline Kennedy/David Paterson mess in choosing a successor for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat is that Paterson's selection has been confirmed this morning as upstate New York Democratic Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand.

There's only one small problem: Gillibrand is Blue Dog through and through.
The governor will announce his selection at noon in Albany. An aide to Ms. Gillibrand confirmed that she had accepted the appointment.

Ms. Gillibrand is largely unknown to New Yorkers statewide, but is considered an up-and-coming and forceful lawmaker in her district and has gained considerable attention from Democratic leaders in Washington.

Mr. Paterson made his final decision shortly before 2 a.m. Friday after a marathon series of phone calls and deliberations with his top aides, according to the person who spoke to him. He began making phone calls to other contenders about 9 p.m., and had notified most of the other contenders by midnight. By then, the only two candidates who had not heard from Mr. Paterson were Ms. Gillibrand and Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers.

One of Mr. Paterson’s preferences had been to select a woman to replace Mrs. Clinton.

The governor continued to deliberate and discuss the matter with his advisers — despite earlier reports that he had settled on Ms. Gillibrand — until he made his decision, according to the person who talked to him. He then called Ms. Gillibrand, who had earlier in the evening been told to come to Albany to await an announcement, to let her know she was his pick.

If Mr. Paterson was hoping to quiet the tumult over the selection process by picking Ms. Gillibrand, there were indications that he may not get his wish. Ms. Gillibrand, who has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, is controversial among some of the party’s more liberal leaders downstate.

Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a Long Island Democrat and ardent gun control activist, said Thursday that if Ms. Gillibrand got the job, she was prepared to run against her in a primary in 2010. Ms. McCarthy was elected to Congress after her husband was killed in a gunman’s rampage on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993.

Ms. Gillibrand’s selection was a careful political calculation by the governor, who will run for his second term as governor in 2010, when Ms. Gillibrand will also be on the ballot. The choice reflects Mr. Paterson’s thinking that his selection should be someone who can help him attract key demographics — in Ms. Gillibrand’s case upstate New Yorkers and women.
Not mentioned anywhere in the proceedings: Andrew Cuomo, the state's popular Attorney General, who would have been a much better choice. Gillibrand is going to be a problem for Obama, and isn't going to be a reliable vote for him in the Senate.

Her record so far in the House after two years? Not very good if you were hoping for a progressive voice.
Gillibrand has described her own voting record as "one of the most conservative in the state." She opposes any path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, supports renewing the Bush tax cuts for individuals earning up to $1 million annually, and voted for the Bush-backed FISA bill that permits wiretapping of international calls. She was one of four Democratic freshmen in the country, and the only Democrat in the New York delegation, to vote for the Bush administration's bill to extend funding for the Iraq war shortly after she entered congress in 2007. While she now contends that she's always opposed the war and has voted for bills to end it, one upstate paper reported when she first ran for the seat: "She said she supports the war in Iraq." In addition to her vote to extend funding, she also missed a key vote to override a Bush veto of a Democratic bill with Iraq timetables.

But it's her votes on the bailout bills -- which pleased no one but were widely seen as vital to the national and New York economies -- that could become the most damaging ammunition against her should she run statewide in 2010. She was one of 63 Democrats to break with the other 172 party members in the House and vote against the second bill, which she called "fundamentally flawed." Her argument against the bill seemed to be both parochial and political, contending that "upstate New York needs a plan that will actually work to stabilize our economy and protect taxpayers." Albany's other House Democrat, Mike McNulty, voted for it, perhaps aware that the statewide economy depends upon revenues generated by the financial services industry. "It's the most important vote of my career, and took an enormous amount of effort on my part to decide what was best for my district," Gillbrand said.
So, let me get this straight...arguably the state with one of the most powerful Democratic Party machines in the country has decided to appoint a Republican for Senator.

You know, yesterday when I said Paterson should just appoint a Republican just to break up the monotony of Democratic stupidity out of New York, this isn't what I meant.

The Penguin Versus The Joker

The Batman villains who have been running the country for the last eight years didn't even make it 48 hours before turning on each other. Seems ol' Cheney is leading the way on the brigade of folks who tossed Bush under the wheelchair on Dubya's failure to pardon Scooter Libby.
George W. Bush was widely expected to grant a large number of pardons during his final days in office, but almost none were forthcoming. The non-pardon of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby for his role in revealing the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame may prove to be be the most controversial of these omissions -- at least if former Vice President Dick Cheney and his supporters have anything to say in the matter.

According to conservative columnist and Cheney biographer Stephen F. Hayes, writing in the Weekly Standard, "Bush's decision not to pardon Libby has angered many of the president's strongest defenders. One Libby sympathizer, a longtime defender of Bush, told friends she was 'disgusted' by the president. Another described Bush as 'dishonorable' and a third suggested that refusing to pardon Libby was akin to leaving a soldier on the battlefield."

Hayes quotes Cheney himself as saying, "Scooter Libby is one of the most capable and honorable men I've ever known. He's been an outstanding public servant throughout his career. He was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice, and I strongly believe that he deserved a presidential pardon. Obviously, I disagree with President Bush's decision."
For this article to come out in the Weekly Standard this quickly after Bush having left office, quoting multiple Republican sources who think Bush has failed and those sources including Dick Cheney, goes to show you just how weak and disorganized the GOP is right now at the top.

The GOP has no real leadership right now. There's nobody to put the brakes on this kind of circular firing squad, and this article proves it. They are lost in the wilderness, everyone fending for themselves. In a sense that's bad for the country, nothing has changed with my insistence that America needs a healthy and productive loyal opposition that produces intelligent and much-needed dissent. Just because Obama and the Democrats are now in charge doesn't mean dissent is no longer needed. Federal power must always be checked.

But the dissent coming out of the GOP at this point is anything but intelligent and useful dissent, it's partisan backbiting and useless obstructionism.

Eventually the GOP will have to find a leader. But to find a leader, they have to find a direction, and right now everyone has their own compass and map and is trying to sabotage everyone else like a season's worth of Survivor. It's telling that without Bush/Cheney calling the shots, the GOP can no longer think for itself and adapt...but that's what happens when all you have to offer is jingoistic platitudes based on knee-jerk reactionary obstructionism over an eight year period.

The Know-Nothing party lacks the critical thinking skills to adapt. Who woulda thunk it?


Related Posts with Thumbnails