Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Insanity Continues

Le sigh. Honestly, Obama's a fascist tinpot dictator for wanting to stop torture, like he's taking away the right to waterboard people and believes in implementing rule of law.

It doesn't matter what the President does. Obama will always be the most vile, dangerous, horrible, villainous fiend on Earth, especially if he tries to fix anything Bush left us. And the fact we have Republicans publicly saying drivel like this is the reason they'll keep on losing. Which apparently makes them only crazier.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Greg Sargent asks about the Nameless One's role in the torture debate:
One more time: Cheney and the Bushies have mounted a relentless campaign to shift this debate that shows no signs of abating. Whatever the downside of Cheney’s re-emergence for the GOP, it may be working. Where’s the push-back on this from the White House, or at least its allies in Congress and elsewhere?
Greg made a funny!

The White House doesn't want anything to do with this, and neither does most of Congress. What congressional pushback there is happily gets drowned out by Democrats like Silvestre Reyes repeating the Obama lines like we need to look forward and we won't prosecute those of you who followed orders in good faith. Everyone else is saying "wait until DiFi's investigation is over sometime near the end of this year" or just leave it to Eric Holder to do whatever the hell he does.

At this point it's just Patrick Leahy yelling at clouds.

Buzzkilling the GOP

With the Republicans throwing around the notion that the Tea Parties are just the tip of the iceberg and the Village meme (sorry Cilliza, you're out of your damn mind) that after just 90+ days the country is somehow so magically fed up with Obama and the Democrats that the GOP will retake the House in 2010, it's nice to see the grown-ups are weighing in on the sheer stupidity of the idea. (emphasis me)
Yes, Republicans have plenty of opportunities in good districts following their loss of 53 House seats over the past two cycles. And yes, there are signs that the Republican hemorrhage has stopped and even possibly that the party’s fortunes have begun to reverse course.

But there are no signs of a dramatic rebound for the party, and the chance of Republicans winning control of either chamber in the 2010 midterm elections is zero. Not “close to zero.” Not “slight” or “small.” Zero.

Big changes in the House require a political wave. You can cherry-pick your way to a five- or eight-seat gain, but to win dozens of seats, a party needs a wave.

Recruiting better candidates and running better campaigns won’t produce anything like what took place in 1980, 1994, 2006 and 2008, when waves resulted in huge gains for one party. The current political environment actually minimizes the chance of a near-term wave developing.

The problem for Republicans is that they aren’t yet in the position — and won’t be in one by November of next year — to run on a pure message of change, or on pent-up demand for change.

Waves are built on dissatisfaction and frustration, and there is little in national survey data that suggest most voters are upset with President Barack Obama’s performance or the performance of his party.

Obama’s job approval generally falls between 55 percent and 63 percent, and his personal favorable numbers are as strong or slightly better. The trend line on the right direction/wrong track question shows a growing optimism, as do attitudes about the direction of the economy.

A recent Pew Research Center poll found two out of three Americans saying that they were optimistic “that Barack Obama’s policies will improve economic conditions in the country.”

All of these numbers show a public that is more upbeat than it was before the last election, and optimism produces status quo elections, not an electorate demanding change.

The uptick in mood, combined with the public’s still-vivid memory of the disappointing Bush years, makes it almost impossible for Republicans to deliver a change argument successfully. GOP candidates and strategists will have to wait for at least another election cycle before they can hope that a change message will resonate with voters.

Yes, 2012 may be a different story, and if the economy follows the path I'm predicting (a serious contraction in 2009, and anemic growth of less than 1% per year for 2010-2012 and perhaps beyond if not a slight contraction) then the 2012 elections may be very different. But 2010 will not see a Republican realignment. Worst case is they lose 8-10 seats, best case they gain that. And the Dems will certainly make big gains in the Senate next year, even the GOP has to admit it.

It's not looking good at all for the GOP.


The GOP pretty much seems to be coming apart at the seams right now. That's unfortunate, because the upshot is a minority party unable to serve as an effective opposition party is unable to check the worst abuses of the party in power. I had my problems with the way the Democrats often failed to block Bush's worst excesses in a supine manner, but the Democrats chose to be supine. They weren't completely insane.

Insane being defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
For a few months now, conservative cries about the White House and "socialism" have been as common as they are ridiculous. The absurd rhetoric hasn't had much of an effect, unless you count the surprising and new-found popularity socialism seems to enjoy.

But for Republican Party leaders, the answer isn't to come up with a new approach. To undermine the president, they want to see the GOP double down on an attack that doesn't work.

Republican state party leaders are rebelling against new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele for failing to dub President Obama and the Democrats as "socialists." And the rebels insist that the label matters.

Even though Mr. Steele has called his Democratic adversaries "collectivists," at least 16 state leaders say the term lacks the pejorative punch needed to sway public opinion and want all 168 members of the Republican National Committee to debate and vote on it. [...]

"Just as President Reagan's identification of the Soviet Union as the 'evil empire' galvanized opposition to communism, we hope that the accurate depiction of the Democrats as a Socialist Party will galvanize opposition to their march to socialism," [Indiana RNC member James Bopp Jr. wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to the full RNC membership].

Putting aside the obvious fact that the president is not a socialist, and overlooking the evidence that these attacks haven't worked at all, what's striking is that these state Republican leaders seem to think the RNC hasn't been irresponsible enough in its rhetoric. As Oliver Willis noted, "It's worth pointing out -- again -- that this isn't some outside the party deal. This is the core of the party upset at their incompetent party chairman for not calling the President of the United States a socialist."

Also note, this might also be evidence of broader trouble for Steele. Bopp and other unhinged state party leaders want to convene an extraordinary meeting of the full committee next month, ostensibly to tell the RNC chairman which ridiculous attacks they prefer he make against the president. To convene such a meeting, the activists would need signatures from RNC members in 16 states. Bopp has a petition signed by members from ... 16 states.

So yes, they're pretty much useless at this point, paralyzed due to a civil war between the people who don't like Obama and the people who think Obama is in fact the most evil human being on Earth.

But when two-thirds of the country continues to support the President, somebody has to explain to these guys that it's not working.

Instead, they are looking for which of their own members need to be sacrificed in the name of the failed policies of the past 28 years. Obama Derangement Syndrome is not a viable party platform.

And We've Lost Her Completely, Sir

Pammycakes has gone over the edge, kids.

Enjoy the roller coaster to hell. Points to Sadly, No! for coining "Obamacide".

Epic Editorial Integrity Fail

When accusing the President of ruining any chance of bipartisan cooperation in Washington by leaving the door open to doing the right thing about torture, it's best not to use an unsigned editorial.

It makes your editorial board look like a bunch of partisan assholes.


Bonus Fail On Principle: Republicans have been playing the hyper-partisan card by continuing to block Dawn Johnsen for OLC head and Kathleen Sebelius for HHS head, and are demanding Obama now immediately fire Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security.

Who's poisoning the atmosphere with partisan attacks again?

Epic Obama Budget Perspective Fail

As much as this grinds my gears to say it, George Will is right. When your budget proposal is for $3.5 trillion dollars and you hold a cabinet level presser to show off cutting $100 million (which is, oh, like on the order of .0029 percent of the budget as Will does the math right) that most certainly falls into EPIC FAIL territory for the President.

Don't insult the public like that, man. That's Bush league stuff.

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims up, new record on continuing claims to 6,187,000 Americans now on unemployment.

Housing sales dropped, but median prices actually rose, which is good news...if that continues. Stocks are flat this morning.

Strange Days

The Jane Harman case keeps getting stranger, if that's possible. First, CQ is reporting that disagreement between the NSA and Gonzo's DoJ resulted in Nancy Pelosi being told of Harman's wiretap.
Intelligence officials, angry that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had blocked an FBI investigation into Democratic Rep. Jane Harman's interactions with a suspected Israeli agent, tipped off Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, that Harman had been picked up on a court-ordered National Security Agency wiretap targeting the agent. In doing so, the officials flouted an order by Gonzales not to inform Pelosi, three former national security officials said.
And second, Harman herself is now trying to sound like the poster child for stopping illegal wiretapping...wiretapping she herself defended on a number of occasions.
I don't know whether they were legally made or not, of my conversations about this matter... and hope that [Attorney General Holder] will investigate whether other members of Congress or other innocent Americans might have been subject to this same treatment. I call it an abuse of power in the letter I wrote him this morning....

I'm just very disappointed that my country -- I'm an American citizen just like you are -- could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I'm one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, and I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I'm thinking about others who have no bully pulpit, who may not be aware, as I was not, that someone is listening in on their conversations, and they're innocent Americans.

Very, very bizarre, but not wholly unexpected. We'll see how this shakes out.


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