Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Last Call

El Rushbo isn't going to get his football team after all, as the NFL owners, players union, and the rest of the people in the group he's a part of trying to purchase the St. Louis Rams have all just told Rush to go to hell.

Limbaugh was to be a limited partner in a group headed by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts. Checketts said in a statement Wednesday that Limbaugh's participation had become a complication in the group's efforts and the bid will move forward without him.

Checketts told the Associated Press he will have no further comment on the bid process.

Three-quarters of the league's 32 owners would have had to approve any sale to Limbaugh and his group. Earlier this week, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay predicted that Limbaugh's potential bid would be met by significant opposition. Several players have also voiced their displeasure with Limbaugh's potential ownership position, and NFL Players Association head DeMaurice Smith, who is black, urged players to speak out against Limbaugh's bid.

A Limbaugh spokesman told ESPN that Limbaugh would have no comment on Wednesday. Earlier, on his syndicated radio show, Limbaugh was defiant, holding on to hope that he still could be part of the ownership group that buys the Rams.

"This is not about the NFL, it's not about the St. Louis Rams, it's not about me," Limbaugh said. "This is about the ongoing effort by the left in this country, wherever you find them, in the media, the Democrat Party, or wherever, to destroy conservatism, to prevent the mainstreaming of anyone who is prominent as a conservative.

"Therefore, this is about the future of the United States of America and what kind of country we're going to have."

It's a country without a bigoted, racist asshole owning an NFL team. But go ahead and attack the NFL, Rush. I'm sure that'll win you even more fans.

Hardball Harry

Must be that time of the millennium in which Harry Reid locates his spinal column and uses it, because today he gave the Senate equivalent of Sean Connery's famous "Chicago Way" speech in The Untouchables as Exra Klein points out:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appeared before the Judiciary Committee today in an unusual capacity: as a witness. He was there to argue that the Senate should repeal the insurance industry's exemption from anti-trust statutes (an exemption that they share only with Major League Baseball). "Insurance companies have become so large they dominate entire regions of the country," Reid said. "They have become so powerful they block start-up businesses from entering the market, and they put smaller companies out of business. They have become so dominant that they dictate business practices. They are so influential that they exert tremendous influence over public policy.”

But Reid isn't an expert on anti-trust law, and as Senate Majority Leader, he doesn't spur legislative action by testifying before Senate Committees. He was really there to send a clear and unmistakable signal to the insurance industry in the aftermath of Monday's assault on health-care reform: Attack us, and we'll hurt you. Badly.

In other words, this:

Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Reid? Good, because you just took one.

P.S. Olympia Snowe is not President. She's not even a Democrat. She certainly does not have the best interests of the Democratic Party at heart. Keep that in mind, eh?

[UPDATE 10:25 PM] And it didn't take Harry more than a couple hours to puss out and say that the public option is not in his hands.

Speaking to reporters just outside the Senate chamber this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scoffed at the suggestion--articulated last night by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)--that the public option is simply in his hands.

"He would rather say anything so it wasn't up to him," Reid said, before departing for a meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Sens. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Chris Dodd (D-CT). The four will hold the first meeting about how to shape a health care bill that will soon be introduced on the Senate floor.

Yeah, there's f'ckin leadership in action, right there.

Meanwhile President Snowe is not interested in any public option compromises, period.

"The public option would be problematic," Snowe told MSNBC's Morning Joe when asked what changes to the bill could cost Democrats her vote. "As I've said I'm against a public option because I think the government would be another vast new bureaucracy, and also create a disproportionate advantage in the marketplace. And inevitably government's not going to do it better."
So glad America and the Democrats nominated President Snowe, and we should be grateful that the future of your heath care rests with making her happy.

All snark aside, call her bluff. I'm betting she's not going to risk being the one person that kills health care. The problem is she's betting she'll have a lot of ConservaDem help in killing the plan.

Dow 10,000 Maniacs

While Wall Street's partying hard that the Dow closed over 10,000 today and people are now officially asking if the recession is over, remember the answer is "not for 99% of us" as John Cole reminds us.
Why doesn’t everyone just quit doing what they do and go to work on Wall Street? You clearly don’t have to be competent or know anything, because these clowns trashed the economy and then ran around for months yelling hoocoodanode all while taking bailout money. Then, they turn around and take those taxpayer loans at low interest and the taxpayer guarantees, loan them back to the taxpayer at a higher interest rate, collect their vig, call it a profit, and then give themselves billions in bonuses because they are in the black again and happy days are here again. And half the public is so beaten down and broken they will look at all this and say “Hey, but isn’t it a good thing that Wall Street is profitable again?”

I mean we won, right?

We'll Miss You, Lou

Captain Lou Albano, wrestling manager extraordinaire, Zandar Hero and the best Super Mario ever, has passed at the age of 76.
"Albano began his storied career with Vincent J. McMahon in the 1960s as one half of 'The Sicilians' tag team with his partner Tony Altimore," the WWE said. "He will be greatly missed by the WWE and his fans."

Albano, who was with the WWE from 1983 to 1996, was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.

He started as a tag team wrestler in the 1950s but became a successful manager of champion wrestlers in the 1970s, according to a biography on the WWE Web site.

Albano was recognizable by his penchant for unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts and a trademark beard, which was usually bound by a rubber band.

His persona earned him the distinction of "one of the most hated men" in wrestling for 15 years, the WWE biography said.

Indeed, it's a smaller place without the Captain Lou Albanos of the world in it.

Rock on, Lou...wherever you are.

The Road Ahead For Obamacare

BooMan continues to have a pretty damn good record of prognostication on where Obamacare is going as it makes its way through Byzantine and uncharted waters. The next phase of the game is now underway.

When I gamed this out during the spring and summer, I came to the conclusion that the president wouldn't get any health care bill at the 60-vote threshold, even one that was badly watered down. But, for appearances sake and as a matter of strategy, he had to give an honest try. For me, that was what all the nonsense with the Finance Committee and the Gang of Six was all about. But, despite winning over Olympia Snowe, the challenge of reaching 60 votes has always been about a few corporate whores in the Democratic caucus. I will name them: Joe Lieberman, Tom Carper, Evan Bayh (all former chairmen of the Democratic Leadership Council), Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln, and (possibly) Mary Landrieu. None of these senators wants to enact the health care plan that the president ran on. And, without their support for cloture, we simply cannot pass a good health care bill in the Senate. It's easy to apply a shithammer's worth of pressure on a single wayward senator, but it's a lot harder to deal with a bloc of corporate shills.

Therefore, I had assumed that the effort to reach 60 votes would fail. But we are right in the thick of the end game now. Never before has a health care bill of this scope passed through all the congressional committees that have jurisdiction. There is a lot of momentum for passing a bill through regular order. If the effort fails, the Senate wants to be able to blame the House, and vice-versa. The progressives want to blame the centrists, and vice-versa. The Democrats and the White House want to blame the Republicans, and vice-versa.

It's this blame game that will do the most to imperil final passage. House Progressives seem resolved to force through a bill that has a robust public option. Senate centrists seem resolved to block any bill that has a robust public option, or any public option at all. Harry Reid and the White House want a public option, but Reid doesn't want to get blamed if he can't get 60 votes.

There are three big speed humps, or votes. The House has to pass a bill. The Senate has to pass a bill. And then those two bills have to be melded into one Conference Report, and passed again by both houses. Reid and Pelosi have a decision to make. As it stands now, they are both poised to pass bills that are incompatible with each other. They can try to bridge the divide now, as they craft their respective bills, or they can try to bridge the divide in the Conference Committee that has the responsibility of reconciling the two bills.

If this process is going to succeed in producing health care reform at the 60-vote threshold, a grand compromise has to be reached at some point. The Schumer Opt-Out Plan might be the best solution.

And as he goes on to say, if it doesn't work, the White House still needs to stick it out with their plan and go for reconciliation.

The question is how many of the ConservaDems in the Senate will be looking for their thirty pieces of silver...and their pound of flesh? The Republicans remained completely irrelevant until Olympia Snowe crossed party lines. Now she's the way in as well.

Something has to give in the next few weeks. Who will have the upper hand?

Feminine Wiles

Kathleen Parker at the WaPo says the GOP should listen to its women.
If the GOP is really serious about expanding the party, it's time for the men to hush and let the pros take over. As the saying goes: If you need something done, hire a busy woman. Or, as the White House Project puts it: "Add women, change everything."

In the past few months, several conservative women have emerged as candidates and critics to challenge the notion that the GOP is the party of men. They're also putting to rest any thought that Sarah Palin is the female face of the party.

The McCain campaign had the right idea; it just picked the wrong woman.

Among the newer comers are two mega-businesswomen and two famous daughters, representing younger generations with divergent ideas. Although these aren't the only Republican women rising, they offer a glimpse at what could become a surge of hormonal correction on the conservative side.

She goes on to list her candidates for change: Liz Cheney, Meghan McCain, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman. Some observations:

1) An honest discussion of up-and-coming Republican women that doesn't list Sarah Palin as one very much qualifies as sign of progress for the Wingers.

2) Too bad the four Parker listed aren't much better, to the point of underlining just how wrong Parker's assumption is because...

3) The rest of the GOP is about as misogynistic as you can get. Getting intelligent, erudite and compelling women in the GOP would be a lot easier if the GOP didn't treat women in general like second-class citizens (along with gays, African-Americans, Latinos, and intelligent, erudite and compelling people in general.)

The problem isn't "We need to listen to women." It's "We need to stop treating Americans like morons."

[UPDATE 3:08 PM] And god help me, because this means I agree with MoDo The Red.

Right Where They Want Us

In a very curious article over at The Daily Beast, John Bachelor argues that the White House going after the legitimacy of FOX news is not only foolish, it's the worst possible thing they could do on all fronts becuase only by the White House attacking Roger Ailes' little outfit there is there any way they can get legitimacy in the Obama era.
The worst mistake Axelrod and Emanuel are making by confusing Fox News with the Republican Party is that they are confusing campaigning with entertaining and then letting this mistake blind them to the fact that the White House is for governing, not just staging.

Fox News is not in the news business; it’s in show business. The Republican Party, like its blood kin the Democratic Party, is in the campaign business. The White House is in the government business, though, from the evidence so far, it doesn’t know how to break out of the campaign business.

Axelrod was responsible for a mythical run for the presidency, but that was last year’s story. Now Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel are responsible for satisfying a ragbag of players—a sweaty task that at least one person in the White House confuses with community organizing—and moving them in the current desired direction of national health-care reform, perhaps also worldwide disarmament, no date given, and through the latest strategic review on Afghanistan before the next strategic review.

None of the Obama administration’s policies, if and when there are policies, requires approval or even acknowledgement by Fox News in order to succeed. Would David Axelrod ask the very clever Peter Gelb of the Metropolitan Opera Company for a moment on stage in Puccini’s Tosca to speak dryly of a second stimulus bill? Then why demand of Ailes that his opera bouffe company treat you as anything other than an interloper? When you are offered the stage, gratis, why go out of your way to deny Ailes the spectacular voice of Obama singing his aria of health-care reform?

To return to the secret, caffeinated “cordial conversation” of Sept. 30, there is plenty of evidence to conclude that Ailes is a genius impresario for fooling Axelrod into thinking that Fox News is not only for the Republican Party but is the Republican Party and the principal opponent against Obama that requires the evil eye of the White House. Fox News thanks heaven each morning for a foil as handsome and boundless as the president, and on its best days sighs over the puny, tongue-tied, bilious characters called conservatives.

On the other hand, Clinton tried to keep above the fray and when he didn't bite, the media said he was out of touch and elitist anyway.

While he's correct that FOX is not a news outfit but an entertainment one, dismissing them as an entertainment outfit that can't do any damage to the President (and then later saying the President's real foe is Jon Stewart of all people) is just as far off the mark, just in the other direction. FOX will continue to attack the President because they believe he is the enemy. They are trying to bully him. Yes, Axelrod is risking much by responding, but he risks even more by doing nothing.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

A friend of mine told me yesterday that we should get rid of hate crimes altogether and stop criminalizing thoughts in general, and that we don't need hate crime legislation.


Then again, people who do have harmful intent tend not to be so bright to begin with in the thoughts department in general.

(p.s. yer swastika's backwards.)

Snowe Job, Part 4

While New York Democrat Chuck Schumer seems to think that Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada is controlling the Obamacare agenda in the upper chamber, the harsh reality is that Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe is now the one calling the shots.

To keep her support, Snowe said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., needs "to incorporate some of the ideas that have been mentioned (in the Finance Committee) -- to make sure that we contain the cost, that it is budget-neutral."

Snowe pointed out the issue of a public -- or government-run -- health care option was a "line of demarcation between Republicans and Democrats," implying that she would withdraw her support if such an option were included.

She also challenged insurance companies, which she said stood to "gain enormously" from the health care overhaul.

"I think that the insurance companies have to step up to the plate and offer some constructive solutions," she said. "Twenty-nine million more Americans will be entering the system. That's 29 million more customers."

The message is clear: If Reid includes the public option, Snowe will bolt. If Reid doesn't include it, he has a civil war on his hands.

Given Harry Reid's history, who will he support? My money's not on progressives, and anyone betting against Reid bending over backwards to give Sen. Snowe the power to neuter the hell out of Obamacare has only to look at the stimulus bill.

The Snowe Job is coming, and like the avalanche, it starts with a few genuine flakes...

Who Loves You, Baby?

The GOP's constant attacks on Obama as President and the neocon failure to learn anything from the Bush administration's foreign policy setbacks is beginning to take a heavy toll on the Republican brand, as Michael Cohen writes over at Politico.
The problems for Republicans are threefold: First, many on the right seem overtaken by a visceral dislike of Obama that is faintly reminiscent of Democratic attitudes toward President George W. Bush. This partisanship is manifesting itself in dangerous ways. It’s one thing to oppose Obama’s initiatives; it’s quite another to be seen as rooting against American interests.

Second, Republicans continue to engage in the same sort of knee-jerk attacks on Democratic “weakness” and naked appeals to American militarism that, while once resonant, have lost their political luster.

Third, Bush-administration-era views — and political appeals — on national security continue to dominate the GOP. Conservative columnist Ross Douthat strikingly noted this week that Obama passed up a chance to “establish himself” as an “American president” by failing to turn down the Nobel Peace Prize. Considering that even in late 2003, at a period of growing tension in the trans-Atlantic relationship, 84 percent of the country believed that it was in America’s national security interests to be liked and respected around the world, it’s hard to see how this would make Obama “more American” or better liked.

Republicans seem to be buying in to the myth of American indifference and even antipathy toward the rest of the world — adopting the neoconservative view, expressed succinctly by Liz Cheney last weekend, that Americans want a president who espouses the notion of U.S. dominance on the world stage. It’s hard to square these views with Pew Research Center polling from last year, which indicated that a majority of Americans viewed the country’s lack of respect in international eyes as a “major problem,” or regular survey results that show Americans prefer a foreign policy that is focused on cooperation and multilateralism.

The greatest irony of the conservative response to the Nobel Committee’s honor is that it is a clear indication that there is a global thirsting for American leadership and engagement. Conservatives should be delighted by what is basically a European call for American leadership; yet the response has been to treat it as a mark of shame for Obama.

And that's the real issue. It's only a mark of shame if Obama does it, and if Obama does it, it's a mark of shame. People are finally picking up on Obama Derangement Syndrome, and they're getting sick of it. "If you guys have a better idea," they say, "Let's hear it." The response is nothing but screaming and lies and stupidity. And yes, that's turning off large swaths of America to Republicanism.

Damn shame too, we need a party to keep the Democrats approaching actual honesty.

StupidiNews Focus

Two big stories breaking this morning down in today's StupidiNews deserve a closer look:

First, Democratic Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida, staunch liberal and Israel hawk (how that combination works I have no idea, but there you are) is resigning. Early speculation was that the Obama Administration was going to name him U.S. Ambassador to Israel, or head of USAID, but the news this morning is that Wexler will instead take a job as a think tank head according to the Miami Herald.

In a conference call Tuesday night with Democratic leaders, Wexler said he will become director of the Washington-based Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. Wexler, 48, is expected to make a public statement about his plans at a 10 a.m. Wednesday press conference at his Boca Raton office.

The jockeying to represent his heavily Democratic congressional district began in earnest Tuesday as the news of his departure began to leak out.

"I'm still a little bit in shock over all this," said state Sen. Jeremy Ring, D-Parkland, though he added he was "for sure" considering a run for the seat.

Other potential Democratic contenders in the district covering parts of North Broward and Palm Beach counties are state Sen. Ted Deutch of Delray Beach, West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel, Broward County Mayor Stacy Ritter and former Broward County Commissioner Ben Graber.

Once Wexler's resignation becomes official, state law requires Crist to call a special election. That can leave candidates little time to raise funds and campaign, and sometimes makes for an unpredictable and chaotic race.

Wexler prided himself on representing the "greatest generation" -- the World War II veterans and Depression survivors from the Northeast who turned South Florida's retirement communities into Democratic strongholds. He was a high-profile spokesman for the Democratic party during the 2000 presidential recount in the state and fought for a paper trail for voters using electronic machines.

The question of course is why now, and why this think tank, but then again that's what press conferences are there to answer.

Second, Bloomberg's story on Tim Geithner's aides pulling in big money from the banks they are supposed to be regulating is definitely going to cause some problems.

Some of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s closest aides, none of whom faced Senate confirmation, earned millions of dollars a year working for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other Wall Street firms, according to financial disclosure forms.

The advisers include Gene Sperling, who last year took in $887,727 from Goldman Sachs and $158,000 for speeches mostly to financial companies, including the firm run by accused Ponzi scheme mastermind R. Allen Stanford. Another top aide, Lee Sachs, reported more than $3 million in salary and partnership income from Mariner Investment Group, a New York hedge fund.

As part of Geithner’s kitchen cabinet, Sperling and Sachs wield influence behind the scenes at the Treasury Department, where they help oversee the $700 billion banking rescue and craft executive pay rules and the revamp of financial regulations. Yet they haven’t faced the public scrutiny given to Senate-confirmed appointees, nor are they compelled to testify in Congress to defend or explain the Treasury’s policies.

If these folks are still drawing a salary from the companies they are supposed to be regulating, "conflict of interest" doesn't even begin to summarize the situation. I've had my problems with Geithner before, but this one is intolerable, folks.

Heads are going to have to roll now, no question. There's no way this can stand.


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