Friday, October 30, 2009

Last Call

The bottom line is that there's two very, very likely outcomes from the NY-23 race's "Doug Hoffman effect" :

With Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman running neck and neck with the Democrat in Tuesday’s special election in New York, some other disaffected Republicans are seeing the third-party route as more viable.

And it could hurt the Republicans in those races.

In Virginia’s 5th district, state Sen. Robert Hurt’s entry into the GOP primary has spurred little-known candidate Bradley Rees to switch to the Virginia Conservative Party. And in Ohio, another GOP primary contender said this week that he’ll run as a Constitution Party candidate.

Both will go at the GOP nominees from their right flanks and try to expose some unhappiness in conservative ranks. They might not be as well-funded as Hoffman or be filling quite as big a vacuum as the one left by Republican Dede Scozzafava’s left-leaning politcs, but they could steal valuable votes.

Rees isn’t afraid of playing spoiler to the establishment-favorite Hurt. He even suggested his third-party candidacy could help freshman Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) stay in Congress.

“It may amount to only drawing enough votes from the Republican candidate to ensure Tom Perriello a second term,” Rees told the Lynchburg News and Advance.

“If so, so be it. Maybe then the party will understand that we are trying to save the GOP from its worst enemy — not the Democrats, but themselves.”

Scenario A is that third party candidates split the Republican vote and Democrats win. Scenario B is that the GOP embraces teabagger/birther/tenther nutjobs in the primaries and get smashed in the general. I've been leaning towards B for quite some time, but in a lot of House races I most certainly see A popping up, especially in red districts.

Which one of these should have the Dems shaking in their boots again? I'm a little fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing here.

In the Dune novels, the Holtzman Effect is what allows for personal shields and anti-grav flight, but if you shoot one with a laser, you get the equivalent of a resonant nuclear explosion (it's why they use knives.)

New tag so I can officially keep track of this phenomenon where third party teabagger candidates cause a resonant nuclear explosion when they come in contact with the GOP: The Hoffman Effect.


The Kroog Versus Pretty Much All Of Washington

Paul Krugman straps on the Krooghelmet, jumps in the Kroogmobile, and races onto the Obamacare scene.
The people who really have to make up their minds, then, are those in between, the self-proclaimed centrists.

The odd thing about this group is that while its members are clearly uncomfortable with the idea of passing health care reform, they’re having a hard time explaining exactly what their problem is. Or to be more precise and less polite, they have been attacking proposed legislation for doing things it doesn’t and for not doing things it does.

Thus, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut says, “I want to be able to vote for a health bill, but my top concern is the deficit.” That would be a serious objection to the proposals currently on the table if they would, in fact, increase the deficit. But they wouldn’t, at least according to the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates that the House bill, in particular, would actually reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next decade.

Or consider the remarkable exchange that took place this week between Peter Orszag, the White House budget director, and Fred Hiatt, The Washington Post’s opinion editor. Mr. Hiatt had criticized Congress for not taking what he considers the necessary steps to control health-care costs — namely, taxing high-cost insurance plans and establishing an independent Medicare commission. Writing on the budget office blog — yes, there is one, and it’s essential reading — Mr. Orszag pointed out, not too gently, that the Senate Finance Committee’s bill actually includes both of the allegedly missing measures.

I won’t try to psychoanalyze the “naysayers,” as Mr. Orszag describes them. I’d just urge them to take a good hard look in the mirror. If they really want to align themselves with the hard-line conservatives, if they just want to kill health reform, so be it. But they shouldn’t hide behind claims that they really, truly would support health care reform if only it were better designed.

For this is the moment of truth. The political environment is as favorable for reform as it’s likely to get. The legislation on the table isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as anyone could reasonably have expected. History is about to be made — and everyone has to decide which side they’re on.
On which side of history will the Sensible Village Centrists be counted on? Thus the great conflict arises, Phoenix and Dragon must fight, for it is the way of all things. On one hand there's the fact that the SVC's really, really hate the Dirty F'ckin Hippies because SVC's are all elitist millionaire assholes. and the Hippies just ruin their profit sharing. On the other hand, the SVC's really, really love populist victories that make them seem like Real Americans so they can pretend to not be elitist millionaire assholes because it's how they retain their popularity.

It is on this battlefield that your entire health insurance future will be fought. Sad, isn't it?

Perspective, Can I Haz Plz?

Bob Cesca provides the Week in Obama:
To review the week:

-HIV/AIDS Treatment Extension Act
-Lifting HIV/AIDS travel ban
-Hate crimes legislation protecting LGBT citizens
-Defeated entrenched military-industrial complex on the F-18 and other programs
-First positive GDP growth since 2007
-Stimulus created or saved more than 300,000 jobs so far
-Deficit-reducing HCR bills with public option announced in both chambers of Congress
-Restored Intelligence Oversight Board powers
-Ended abstinence-only funding
-$3.5 billion for smart grid technology

In other words, just like Bush.

But it doesn't matter, because he's a crypto-fascist Kenyan usurper corporate lackey empty suit enigma messianic Communist Jimmy Carter Chicago Way Nixonian thug who hates women.

And his wife has these arms, man. These arms.

Seriously, can we finally admit that on the balance of the whole, Obama is 95% of the guy we needed right now?

Gravity Is Still A Harsh Mistress

After a 200 point gain yesterday on the Dow thanks to the GDP data and everyone screaming 'RECESSION OVER MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!" the cold reality set in for a 250-point loss.
Stocks tumbled Friday, more than erasing the previous session's gains, as investors dumped a variety of shares at the end of a rough week and choppy month on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost nearly 250 points, or 2.5%, according to early tallies. The Dow lost as much as 278 points earlier. It was the Dow's biggest one-day selloff on a point basis since April 20.

The S&P 500 (SPX) index fell 30 points, or 2.8% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) shed 52 points, or 2.5%.

The selloff was broad based, with all 30 Dow components declining and most stock sectors sliding. Energy prices and stocks were hit hard as the dollar turned mixed and the financial sector erased most of the 4% gain it accrued Thursday.

"We might finally be seeing the 5 percent to 15 percent correction that many people have been calling for since the summer," said Ron Kiddoo, chief investment officer at Cozad Asset Management.

"I think the run has just gotten tired," he said. "A lot of people who wanted to get in over the last two months have done that, so maybe we need to sell off more to get more people back in."

The fundamentals of our economy have not improved. It's all been band-aids, smoke, mirrors and trillions in bailouts. Reality will catch up and when it does, it will be quite painful.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Well, actually, Yggy's Thought of the Day.
Unfortunately, foreign policy achievements have a way of not getting noticed if they don’t involve killing anyone with high explosives. This is too bad, since finding ways to resolve conflicts that don’t involve killing anyone with high explosives is generally preferable to approaches based on death and destruction.
Sadly, the Wingers wanted one of those war things in Honduras, and they ended up getting Not A War. If you're a Wingnut, it's the Halloween equivalent of getting broccoli.
So let’s take a time out to note that the Obama administration’s approach to Honduras looks to be paying off in the form of a deal that will temporarily re-instate President Zelaya in advance of new elections to be held in January. The US has an unfortunate history of backing coups in Latin America and an unfortunate history of heavy-handed involvement in Latin American domestic politics, so threading the needle between heavy-handed involvement and coup-backing was difficult. But they got the job done, and as Tim Fernholz says the results are likely to be appreciated throughout the region.
Also sadly, they will not be appreciated throughout the Wingnutosphere.

Lying Lying Liz

Apparently the Nameless One's daughter, Liz Cheney, has inherited her father's penchant for completely lying about things.

Liz Cheney called out President Obama for his early-morning trip to honor fallen soldiers arriving at Dover Air Force Base yesterday, suggesting President Bush honored America's heroes with a bit more class than his successor.

Cheney, on Fox News Radio's John Gibson Show yesterday:

"I think that what President Bush used to do is do it without the cameras. And I don't understand sort of showing up with the White House Press Pool with photographers and asking family members if you can take pictures. That's really hard for me to get my head around...It was a surprising way for the president to choose to do this."

It's not clear exactly what Cheney is referring to when she says, "Bush used to do it without the cameras."

It's true that Bush's Pentagon continued a long-standing policy of banning cameras at Dover when the nation's fallen arrived in flag-draped caskets from foreign battlefields. (Upon taking office, Obama lifted the ban.)

So that covers "without the cameras."

But as CBS's Mark Knoller reported yesterday, Obama was the first president to visit arriving dead at Dover during the wars in Afghanistan or Iraq -- meaning that when it came to taking trips to Dover like Obama did yesterday morning, Bush never used to "do it" at all.

Apparently the ability to lie with skill comes with experience. Liz should call Pops up and take down a few lessons.

Then again, it's not like we haven't caught Lizzie lying before, either.

Pictures At A Teabagging Exposition

Tom Schaller's recounting of this Salon roundtable on if the teabaggers are good or bad for the GOP is quite frankly, fascinating. It's like asking if cocaine is good or bad for toddlers, and watching a drug dealer, a hospital administrator and a child services caseworker fight it out. Byron York, Rick Pearlstein and Karl Agne go at it.

Tom Schaller: I'd like to start with Rick and Byron, and ask that they provide some perspective on conservatism and its relationship to the GOP, as a way of putting the conservative angst we have witnessed in 2009 into a broader historical context.

Rick Perlstein: I hold no illusions that the number of folks who believe that there are sinister forces in Washington or the East that are kind of conspiring against ordinary folks on the right [has decreased] -- it's pretty constant in American history, or at least the 20th century. In the '20s it was the Ku Klux Klan, in the early '60s it was the John Birch Society. Now we know -- the stories the folks are telling on Fox News.

The big difference, I think, is how well they're able to kind of convince a margin of the American people that their agenda should be shared by them. In the 1920s, the Klan was fairly successful in taking over the Republican Party in a bunch of Midwestern states, like Indiana, but then in the early '60s, the John Birch Society was basically seen as verboten and beyond the pale. And I think a lot of it had to do with how the establishment media at various times treated these phenomena. I think one of the things that happened in the early '60s was the media -- and even the right-wing media people like William F. Buckley -- drew some boundaries about what was reasonable and unreasonable discourse.

And right now, with Obama pointing out the things that Fox News makes up, you're getting a lot of the mainstream media and the folks in Washington saying, "Well, why are you attacking someone who is part of our tribe, part of our team." So you get people like Howard Kurtz kind of aghast that this kind of faux pas has happened. But, you know, the faux pas is very similar to what William F. Buckley was doing, all the way through the 1960s, saying the John Birch Society's saying that America's foreign policy has gone astray because it's infiltrated by secret communists is not reasonable discourse.

Schaller: Byron, do you see analogues, historically, on the right side or the left side or both?

Byron York: I think it's pretty clear that the bases of both parties have moved farther apart over the years. If you go back to 1980 and just look at the ideological ratings of members of the House, relatively small numbers of Democrats, and small numbers of Republicans -- and Democrats were in the majority at the time -- relatively small numbers got 100 percent ratings, perfect ratings from either Americans for Democratic Action or the American Conservative Union or the other groups that rate them on their ideological purity. Now, the number of perfect scores is three, four times larger. So I think there's no doubt that each side has moved. This brings fights over ideological purity -- there's one going on right now in New York State over a House seat, New York 23, in which you have a liberal Republican and a conservative going at it. But I think you saw it a couple years ago in the netroots' attempt -- pretty darn close attempt -- to defeat Joe Lieberman with their chosen candidate, Ned Lamont. So these things crop up.

So right off the bat we have FOX News making stuff up about Obama being equated to...the netroots' attempt to back Ned Lamont against Joe F'ckin Lieberman. Totally alike!

It gets worse from there for Byron York, especially. But Rick Pearlstein continues to nail it.

York: Rick, how would you compare the New York 23 race to the Connecticut race of a few years ago?

Perlstein: You know, I think actually it's a decent comparison. I think that the insurgents in that race have a pretty good point. The Republican candidate did vote for some very important Obama initiatives, just like Lieberman allied himself with some very important Bush initiatives. The question is, how prototypical it's going to be. I don't think that you're going to find as many -- let me put it this way. Every Republican who's in elected office and wants to stay in elected office, it really finds them on the horns of an enormous dilemma. They can join the coalition that's being built to govern the country, and contribute to debates over how healthcare is going to go forward, and things like that -- how cap-and-trade is going to go forward, how stimulus spending is going to go forward. Or they can join the Tea Party people and just refuse. I wouldn't want to be a Republican elected official right now, because it's really a zero-sum choice for these guys.

And that's the bottom line.

Still not worried about 2010.

The Hand That Feeds You

At what point do the Dems finally admit they've have enough of Joe F'ckin Lieberman?
Sounding more like an independent than a Democrat, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., tells ABC News he will campaign for some Republican candidates during the 2010 midterm elections and may not seek the Democratic Senate nomination when he runs for re-election in 2012.

"I probably will support some Republican candidates for Congress or Senate in the election in 2010. I'm going to call them as I see them," Lieberman said in an ABC News "Subway Series" interview aboard the U.S. Capitol Subway System.

Lieberman infuriated fellow Democrats in 2008 by supporting Republican presidential nominee John McCain as well as congressional candidates Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.

The moves nearly cost Lieberman his chairmanship of the Commerce Committee, but after promising to be a loyal Democrat he was allowed to keep his gavel.

Yeah, how's that loyalty thing coming along?

Seriously, the guy campaigned for McCain. He's threatening to kill Obamacare. Now he's saying he'll openly campaign for Republicans in the Senate. At what point do the Dems finally say "You're gone?"

Before or after he spikes health care?

Deficit Hocks

What Digby Said applies yet again on the loud, idiotic complaining about the deficit in the middle of a major economic recession and a massive housing depression.
Now that GDP has blipped up a tiny bit, expect these guys to start their song and dance in earnest. Ans yet, as Greider writes, there is every reason to believe that much more is going to be needed. But as far as these true believers are concerned, the crisis has past, now it's time to bleed the patient.
The people responsible for the economic mess of course cannot expected to pay for it. You and I are. Anytime you hear anyone complaining about the deficit, it means "I don't want to pay for this mess we helped to create. I think the rest of America should instead."

The only solutions these folks have is yelling "We need more tax cuts on America's wealthy and to cut federal spending!" All of it, the Club For Growth, the Tenthers, the government is bad people, the deficit screamers, the social program cutters, exist to turn America back to the Gilded Age where the privileged few control everything, and the rest of us exist to suffer.

Granted, we're not far from that now. But now the Lords have Glenn Beck to convince the peasants that the only way to stop being enslaved by the Other in the White House is to accept serfdom and fealty to one's corporate liege instead.

It's really the only American thing to do, serfdom...

High Nooners

Peggy Noonan decides that we should be in fact eating cake.

The cake is a lie.
The new economic statistics put growth at a healthy 3.5% for the third quarter. We should be dancing in the streets. No one is, because no one has any faith in these numbers. Waves of money are sloshing through the system, creating a false rising tide that lifts all boats for the moment. The tide will recede. The boats aren't rising, they're bobbing, and will settle. No one believes the bad time is over. No one thinks we're entering a new age of abundance. No one thinks it will ever be the same as before 2008. Economists, statisticians, forecasters and market specialists will argue about what the new numbers mean, but no one believes them, either. Among the things swept away in 2008 was public confidence in the experts. The experts missed the crash. They'll miss the meaning of this moment, too.
This first paragraph may be the most journalistically competent thing I've ever read from Nooners. She's right, and I'd never thought I'd ever say that.

Which makes the massively jarring contrast then with the sheer idiocy of her next paragraph the largest single breakthrough in matter/antimatter physics in decades if scientists can successfully mathematically quantify and reproduce the effect.

The biggest threat to America right now is not government spending, huge deficits, foreign ownership of our debt, world terrorism, two wars, potential epidemics or nuts with nukes. The biggest long-term threat is that people are becoming and have become disheartened, that this condition is reaching critical mass, and that it afflicts most broadly and deeply those members of the American leadership class who are not in Washington, most especially those in business.
Executives are sad, you see. This is America's biggest issue. Sad businesspeople who are sad.

Not greed. Not Too Big To Fail. Not the forced consolidation of the banking industry. Not the housing crash and the commercial real estate crash. Not the massive conflicts of interest surrounding Obama's economic team and the financial behemoths they in some cases still work for. Not a compliant Congress that is lobbied to destroy America's financial self-interests. Not the lack of oversight provided by said Congress, or the corruption those lobbyist help to breed and propagate. Not a shadow banking system of pyramid-scheme derivatives worth trillions that, should it even partially collapse, woudl wipe out the world's GDP. And certainly not an American middle class that has been outsourced, downsized, and productivity-enhanced to within an inch of its life.

No. The real problem is America's CEO's are bummed out.

Are you f'ckin kidding me?

That is the most inane thing I think I have ever honestly read about the recession so far. And the great thing is it gets worse.

I talked this week with a guy from Big Pharma, which we used to call "the drug companies" until we decided that didn't sound menacing enough. He is middle-aged, works in a significant position, and our conversation turned to the last great recession, in the late mid- to late 1970s and early '80s. We talked about how, in terms of numbers, that recession was in some ways worse than the one we're experiencing now. Interest rates were over 20%, and inflation and unemployment hit double digits. America was in what might be called a functional depression, yet there was still a prevalent feeling of hope. Here's why. Everyone thought they could figure a way through. We knew we could find a path through the mess. In 1982 there were people saying, "If only we get rid of this guy Reagan, we can make it better!" Others said, "If we follow Reagan, he'll squeeze out inflation and lower taxes and we'll be America again, we'll be acting like Americans again." Everyone had a path through.

Now they don't. The most sophisticated Americans, experienced in how the country works on the ground, can't figure a way out. Have you heard, "If only we follow Obama and the Democrats, it will all get better"? Or, "If only we follow the Republicans, they'll make it all work again"? I bet you haven't, or not much.

This is historic. This is something new in modern political history, and I'm not sure we're fully noticing it. Americans are starting to think the problems we are facing cannot be solved.

You mean we're screwed? Like I've been saying for over a year now? Have you been paying attention to reality, woman?

You can just imagine her brunch conversation over Eggs Benny with her fellow Washingtonians. The Village just can't figure this one out. The moneyed class fouled up the entire country, and they just can't magically fix this without fundamentally rearranging the power structure of America. That terrifies the crap out of them, frankly. That's what Noonan is really afraid of.

The recession is actually affecting the Village. This doesn't happen to people like her, you see. And the people who should know best, who she has spent her career telling us about as being defined by having the quality of knowing best itself are the same people that completely annihilated the economy.

This apparently is negatively affecting her world view to the point of the Villager equivalent of emo whining. In the Wall Street Journal, no less.

Honestly? Peggy? Shut it. You're still employed, which is a lot better than, oh, about 10 million or so of us.

Steve at NMMNB has an even better takedown of this rampant self-pitying schlock, too.

Why I'm Still Not Worried About The GOP In 2010

Number of GOP co-sponsors for Harry Reid's Senate resolution this month to delcare the week of October 25-31 as National Hispanic Media Week: zero.

Number of GOP co-sponsors for House GOP Rep. Mike Spence's resolution this month to honor the 1.93 Million Invisible Teabagger March: seventy-five.

I'm not worried that the GOP will somehow magically take over Congress next year because they're doing everything they possibly can to lose.

[UPDATE 10:51 PM] Not even FOX News viewers think the economy is Obama's fault, via Dave Weigel.
Here’s a somewhat surprising result from the new Fox News poll. Asked which president is “more responsible for the current state of the economy,” only 18 percent say President Obama. Fifty-eight percent say former President George W. Bush. Nine percent blame both of them. Republicans are the only subgroup of voters who blame Obama, and only by a six-point margin of 35 percent to 29 percent.

What’s striking about this is that the numbers have only marginally gotten worse for President Obama in the three months since Fox News last asked this question. In July, it was 16 percent who blamed Obama and 61 percent who blamed Bush. That is, needless to say, not what Fox News viewers hear when they tune into the network. But it’s essential to understanding why the president remains popular and why Republicans are failing to really capitalize on economic gloom.

2010 is not going to be bad for the Dems. Republicans on the other hand...

He'd Better Be Careful

Ahh, GOP Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell. More than any other Kentuckian, a representative of everything stereotypically wrong with the state:
In an interview on Dennis Miller’s radio show yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that the public option “may cost you your life”:

MCCONNELL: Well, it doesn’t make any difference frankly whether you opt-in or you opt-out, it’s still a government plan. You know, Medicaid, the program for the poor now, states can opt-out of that, but none of them have. I think if you have any kind of government insurance program, you’re going to be stuck with it and it will lead us in the direction of the European style, you know, sort of British-style, single payer, government run system. And those systems are known for delays, denial of care and, you know, if your particular malady doesn’t fit the government regulation, you don’t get the medication.

MILLER: Right.

MCCONNELL: And it may cost you your life. I mean, we don’t want to go down that path.

Listen here:

In his efforts to derail health care reform, McConnell has regularly fear-mongered about the British and Canadian health care systems, claiming that a public option would look just like them. Unsurprisingly, McConnell has gotten his facts wrong when he’s described other health care systems.

Sad, isn't it? After all this, Mitchy has yet to get off the death panels train.

And Republicans wonder why America doesn't trust them to fix health care.

Here He Comes To Save Your Job

The first $150 billion spent on stimulus has saved 650,000 jobs, according to the latest Obama administration report.
Based on approximately $150 billion in spending from the $787 billion recovery package, the tally is the first broad, concrete look at the stimulus program's impact on the economy. The numbers are drawn from tens of thousands of reports from state and local recipients as well as private companies.

The White House said the actual number of jobs created so far is likely closer to 1 million, since its report on stimulus job creation only focused on $150 billion of the $339 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds spent so far.

The Obama administration is expected to announce further details Friday afternoon, after the government posts complete reports online on its stimulus data tracker

As many as a million more jobs could have been lost if it wasn't for the stimulus. Sobering numbers this morning indeed. The same people who are complaining that Obama did too much would now be complaining if he did nothing, as the unemployment rate would be even higher than it is now.

The Liberal Bias

A very interesting poll from Pew Research on the Village TV media shows a couple of notable points:
The Fox News Channel is viewed by Americans in more ideological terms than other television news networks. And while the public is evenly divided in its view of hosts of cable news programs having strong political opinions, more Fox News viewers see this as a good thing than as a bad thing.

Nearly half of Americans (47%) say they think of Fox News as “mostly conservative,” 14% say it is “mostly liberal,” and 24% say it is “neither in particular.” Opinion about the ideological orientation of other TV news outlets is more mixed: while many view CNN and the three broadcast networks as mostly liberal, about the same percentages say they are neither in particular. However, somewhat more say MSNBC is mostly liberal than say it is neither in particular, by 36% to 27%.
Here's the chart:

More people actually think CNN and as many people think NBC are as liberal as the supposedly bleeding heart MSNBC. Most of the networks show a middle of the road or liberal bent, but FOX's claim of "fair and balanced" is clearly's the least middle-of-the-road network according to America.

Also, who the hell are the 14% of Americans who think FOX News is liberal? I'd like to meet those guys. That's one in seven of us. Odds are you know one....and that goes up to 17% of regular FOX News viewers who think the network is mostly liberal!

Both FOX viewers and all viewers think CNN is more liberal than MSNBC. Perhaps that explains why Pat Buchanan is still employed.


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