Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Last Call

Jon Chait at TNR argues that the Dems have finally, finally gotten the message that they must pass a bill, with or without the Republicans.
Yesterday’s Roll Call has some details. Here’s what I think is the key passage:

As a fallback, Senate Democratic leaders have stepped up their pressure on centrists to stick with the party on procedural votes. At a minimum, leaders have asked all 60 Democrats to allow them to bring a health care bill to the floor in order to make sure Republicans cannot filibuster it.

Democratic Senate aides familiar with the thinking of Conference moderates said centrists want to vote for a health care reform bill — even one that is politically problematic — because it appeals emotionally to their inner Democrat.

A month ago I wrote that it’s nearly impossible to see health care reform failing because it would entail a Democrat voting to filibuster the central progressive goal of the last sixty years. That proposition was looking shaky for a while because there were some Democratic Senators who acted as if they actually wanted to kill health care reform. (Hi, Senator Conrad.) But they’re all now pretty clearly acting like they really want to pass something.

Even ConservaDems like Kent Conrad, Evan Bayh and Joe F'ckin Lieberman don't want to be the ones to kill Obamacare. The base will revolt, and 2010 really will become 1994 again.

On the other hand, if they feel Obama is forcing them, it's the Senators who will revolt, and it will all blow up. The massive teabagger uprising that the GOP keeps predicting just hasn't happened, because Americans really are sick of getting screwed by their insurers.

However, we're past the kicking and screaming part, and to the "Well, we really have to do this and do this right" part. The GOP is not in charge anymore. The American people have not abandoned the President or the notion of real health care reform. They just want Congress to act already, and finally, the Democrats are ready to do so.

Come With Me If You Want To Live

Gov. Ahnold seems pretty keen on health care reform.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised President Barack Obama's drive to overhaul the nation's health care system on Tuesday and urged fellow Republicans to join in efforts to finish the job this year.

Although Schwarzenegger stopped short of embracing a Democratic bill, his words of encouragement came on the heels of similar statements from other Republicans outside Congress, including former Senate Republican leader Bill Frist. The White House and Democrats highlighted them as evidence of momentum and division within GOP ranks. Congressional Republicans have been nearly unanimous in opposition to Democratic legislation.

Schwarzenegger, who two years ago tried but failed to pass a universal health care plan in California, said in a statement that he appreciated Obama's partnership with the states and his effort to hold down costs and improve quality. He urged lawmakers from both parties to "move forward and accomplish these vital goals for the American people."

Congressional Republicans responded that they have been calling for health care improvements for months -- just not the kind that Democrats are offering.

Sure, they have a completely different magical plan, just like another Republican governor is pushing...and 90% of it is already in the Democratic bills.

But it's nothing like the Dems' bill. No sirree. When a Republican does it, it's patriotic. When a Democrat does it, it's a fascist government takeover. But even Ahnold sees the writing on the wall.

The Pretty Hate Machine Blows A Gasket

John Santore keeps score on the continual circular firing squad over in Wingnutland.
As Eric Boehlert pointed out earlier today, a significant fissure is opening up on the Right. The increasing influence of extremists like Fox News' Glenn Beck and radio host Rush Limbaugh has shaken more mainstream conservatives who are searching for a new set of leaders -- and the conservative establishment is lashing out. Consider some of the recent comments from prominent conservative media personalities and elected officials:
  • Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks describing Beck, Limbaugh, and radio talker Mark Levin as "loons" who are "harmful for America."
  • Former Bush and McCain adviser Mark McKinnon denouncing Levin's "jaw-dropping hate language about the president."
  • MSNBC commentator and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough blasting Limbaugh's cheers after Chicago lost its Olympic bid: "Republicans have gone off the deep end"

These are just a few examples of a serious trend. Right-wing media figures are now routinely attacking each other's tactics and relevancy. On Friday, Brooks (nonsensically) dedicated an entire column to explaining why conservative media leaders like Beck and Limbaugh are not worthy of attention. He argued that we are once again witnessing "the story of media mavens who claim to represent a hidden majority but who in fact represent a mere niche -- even of the Republican Party." It's a point he made several weeks earlier, when he said that "[i]f the Republican Party is sane, they will say no to these people." Beck, in turn, responded by reading Brooks' editorial on the air and mocking the idea that he was the overlord of thoughtless, right-wing radio audiences who will "kill people because we tell you to." Feeling defensive, Glenn?

It's starting to get bad over there. The Wingers actually thought they had finished off Obama and the Democrats during Town Hall Blitz, but it all started falling apart with their One Point Nine Million Invisible Teabagger March and since then it's gone all to hell.

With the dim realization that health care reform is going to pass and that America is laughing at their rampant stupidity with the whole birther/tenther/militia idiocy, some on the right are beginning to desert the ship. Nobody likes being on the losing team, especially when the team continues to take no opportunity to correct why it is losing.

Another Odubya Moment

The Double G rings up the WaPo's Anne Kornblut for shoveling a heaping pile of "But we're not using Bush policies on the Warren Terrah!"
The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut today produces an extreme piece of government-serving, stenographic "journalism," publishing a dubious administration press release masquerading as a lengthy news article on Obama's approach to Terrorism and civil liberties. The Post depicts Obama as heavily and heroically engaged in disrupting the alleged Najibullah Zazi domestic terrorist plot and -- repeatedly highlighting that success -- claims "the White House has been charting a delicate course as it attempts to turn the page on Bush-era anti-terrorism policies," whereby "the Obama administration is increasingly confident that it has struck a balance between protecting civil liberties, honoring international law and safeguarding the country." Here are all of Kornblut's cited sources for the article -- every last one of them -- in the order she cites them:

Obama aides pointed . . . administration officials said . . . a senior administration official said . . . officials said . . . a senior administration official said . . . senior Obama officials stressed . . . a senior administration official said . . . aides said . . . officials said . . . one senior administration official said. . . . one senior official said. . . . The official said . . . a senior administration official said . . . a senior administration official said . . . administration officials said . . . . a senior official said.

Not a single named person is cited, and there's not a syllable of quoted dissent in any of it. Virtually every sentence in the long article does nothing but praise Obama and depict him as stalwartly safeguarding America's civil liberties (unlike Bush did) even as he protects us from the dangerous Terrorists, so why is anonymity needed for that? It's nothing more than what Robert Gibbs is eager to say every day.
And as usual, Obama is really failing on this issue. For the most part his policy is the Bush Warren Terrah manual, with a new coat of paint.
What we have here is as obvious as it is familiar: just two weeks after "adopting one of the arguments advanced by the Bush administration in years of debates about detention policies," and in the midst of efforts to fight off limitations on its Patriot Act and FISA powers, the administration dispatches officials to dictate to The Post a picture of the President as a crusading protector against Terrorism and a careful preserver of civil liberties. They exploit fears over a recent Terrorist plot to justify the continuation of these powers (while praising themselves for refraining from doing exactly that). And it's all done anonymously to cast the appearance that we're getting a valuable (though unauthorized) investigative glimpse into super-secret, high-level, dramatic Terrorism deliberations at the highest levels of government. All that's missing is Bob Woodward (though the new one is now clearly on the way).
And if all of this looks familiar, it's because it's nearly verbatim Bush/Cheney scare tactics...only the economy is so bad, Obama doesn't have to flog this as much.

Another Odubya moment. Faces change, but the tune remains the same...

Iran Out Of Time

And so it begins.
A majority of Americans are skeptical that diplomacy with Iran will succeed and say the U.S. should use military action if necessary to prevent the Iranian government from developing a nuclear weapon.

A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey released today found 61 percent of Americans would support a military strike. Twenty-four percent said it is more important to avoid conflict even if that means Iran will end up building nuclear arms.

The survey by the Washington-based group found 63 percent support direct U.S. negotiations with Iran to push the country to abandon its nuclear program. Still, 64 percent said such efforts won’t succeed. The poll was conducted last week, when Iran held talks with the U.S. and other United Nations powers and agreed to widen discussions on the nuclear dispute.

We truly have learned nothing from the last eight years. Not a damn, single thing. It's 2002 all over again.

Quote Of The Week

Thers on why Wingers hate Michael Moore's new movie so much and the fact the movie pulled in $4.6 million last week is proof America now hates all liberals too:
Since the most popular film in the US this weekend was about zombies, though, clearly, the American People's Most Cherished Beliefs involve zombies.
She's talking about Zombieland, which is getting good reviews. Hmm, cherished beliefs and zombies...

Yeah, I'm gonna burn for that one.

Gold Rush, Part 2

Gold is trading at an all time record high right now, $1,041 an ounce. It has gained nearly $25 today alone. The weak dollar is also pushing stocks up substantially.

A lot of people are betting on the dollar to lose.

I've long said that a gold rush would be a major sign of the dollar's impending collapse. We're seeing it happening in real time here, folks. Dollar's at 1.475 to the Euro and falling.

Things are about to get interesting.

The Kroog Versus Mary Matalin

(Via Teh Rumpeez.)

Ironically this plays out exactly like you'd expect Mary Matalin losing an argument with a Nobel Prize-winning economist on TV to play out.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

As with yesterday's TOTD, another CNN headline:
"Man mauled by tiger after scaling Calgary Zoo fences"
Once again I submit to you dear reader the problem stems from the last four words.

President Oba-Me

Steve Benen finds "narcissistic" is the new Obama Derangement code phrase for the Wingers:
Periodically, conservatives latch onto a new line of attack against President Obama. Apparently, the new one is "narcissism." Marty Peretz talked it up yesterday in a bizarre piece, and George Will endorsed the argument in his column today.

In the Niagara of words spoken and written about the Obamas' trip to Copenhagen, too few have been devoted to the words they spoke there. Their separate speeches to the International Olympic Committee were so dreadful, and in such a characteristic way, that they might be symptomatic of something that has serious implications for American governance.

Both Obamas gave heartfelt speeches about . . . themselves. Although the working of the committee's mind is murky, it could reasonably have rejected Chicago's bid for the 2016 Games on aesthetic grounds -- unless narcissism has suddenly become an Olympic sport. [...]

[S]ometimes the Olympic Games are a net subtraction from international comity. But Obama quickly returned to speaking about . . . himself.

Putting aside Will's fondness for dramatic ellipses, his criticism is simply detached from reality here.

The speeches are online, and reading them, it's tempting to wonder if Will even read the remarks before using them as the basis for a cheap column.

Or as Atrios puts it:
It's all just code for "uppity"...
And it always has been. There's a cottage industry of Wingers finding new ways to refer to Obama's race without actually referring to Obama's race, and we're seeing all the classics as well as relatively new stuff.

Of course, things like that have been going on in America for generations now.

Passing The Buck On Passing The Public Option

Congressional Dems are feeling rather squirrely about actually passing this health care thing. They know they have to pass something, but they are desperately looking for cover on this anyway.

Senior White House officials are scheduled to be in the room throughout negotiations to merge competing Senate health care bills from the Finance and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committees, with the expectation that they will make key decisions to mediate disagreements. In advance of the floor action to follow, Obama and top administration officials have been lobbying Senate Democrats to secure support for a final package.

“The White House presence in the merger will be huge, and it has to be,” a senior Democratic Senate aide said Monday. “President Obama will have to weigh in on the most difficult issues.”

Democratic sources say Obama is going to have to make the final call on the controversial issues, including whether to push for the public insurance option.

Really? After weeks of trying to stab the president in the back, and about a dozen Senators all pretending that they are the crucial vote on this, everyone's now jumping behind Obama's shadow?

That's actually progress as far as the White House is concerned. It also means that the Senate may be planning on passing a bill that nobody likes, and wants to pin as much of this on Obama as possible.

Gold Rush

Following up on last night's article discussing plans by China, Russia, France and Arab oil states to dump the dollar using gold as a transition point, gold hit an 18-month high this morning.
Peter Fertig, a consultant at Quantitative Commodity Research, said the final quarter was typically strong for gold, due to rising jewelry demand — a weaker than usual factor this year — and as the dollar is seasonally soft.

"That is the major driver of investment demand," he said. "The speculation, even if it has been denied, that Gulf states would like to peg oil prices to a currency basket and not the U.S. dollar alone has been a positive factor for gold, while weakening the dollar against other major currencies."

The dollar slipped sharply in Asian trade after UK newspaper the Independent said Gulf Arab states were in secret discussions to end the use of dollars in oil trading. The newspaper said the states were in talks with Russia, China, Japan and France to replace the unit with a basket of currencies.

The dollar pared losses after the report was denied by Saudi and Russian authorities, but stayed weak.

Dollar weakness, if sustained, could push gold prices to new all-time highs above $1,030.80, the peak they hit in March last year, analysts said.

"The ability of gold to climb back over $1,000 is, in our opinion, impressive," HSBC analyst Jim Steel said in a note. "If the dollar remains subject to gradual erosion and commodity prices remain firm.... then gold is likely to remain well-bid and may challenge all-time highs."

Somebody's surely betting on the dollar to lose and lose big. Keep an eye on the prices of both gold and oil. They are sending warning signs that the dollar is on the way out.


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