Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Last Call

As of this hour, Bill Owens has a comfortable lead in NY-23, Mike Bloomberg barely won in NYC, and the Maine gay marriage vote is dead even.

Here locally, Ohio's casino measure has about a 5% lead, but it was a lot wider. Cincy Mayor Mark Mallory looks like he'll be re-elected, and Cincy has apparently turned down an effort to block the city's streetcar project by requiring a public vote on it.

We'll see how this all settles out tomorrow morning.

Election Day Update

As of about 9 PM, the VA Governor's race has already been called for the Republican, Bob McDonnell. Meanwhile in NY-23, Doug Hoffman is already accusing Democrats of stealing the entire election before the polls even closed.
“There are reports that they’re bringing in the troops and they’re bringing in ACORN,” said Hoffman. “I think the Democrats are doing anything they possibly can to steal this election away from the 23rd district.”
Yep, ACORN: the SPECTRE/SMERSH/MAD/VIPER/COBRA/AIM of our time. Only without the cool uniforms.

Really, the major thing that evil global organizations like that all have in common have is a damn cool uniform. You'd think George Soros of all people could afford cool uniforms for his ACORN shock troopers.

More as it comes in. Also, bonus Winger points to Byron York over at the Moonie Times who's trying to convince the world that the Democrats are the ones having the civil war and party schism, and not the Republicans.

You keep on clapping there, By.

[UPDATE 10:15 PM] The AP is calling NJ Governor for Republican Chris Christie.

This Week In Red Dawn Action

Because in the end for the Wingers it always comes back to better democracy through applied ammunition.
One may even begin to speculate on whether we owe them civility for their transgressions, which amount to a fundamental betrayal of oursocial contract as Americans.

Unlike other nations and states in times both past and present, we have the possibility of correcting our mistakes and removing the disloyal via the ballot instead of the barrel of a gun.

Let us hope that our elected officials recognize, however, that our patience is not finite, nor our obligation to bear their indecent assault on our liberties unlimited.

Do what we say, lest we be forced to shoot the people we do not agree with politically. It's always the gun here. WOLVEREEEEEEEENS!

Either this guy's a fool if he's kidding or if he's serious, an unhinged threat advocating violence. Take your pick.

Charlie Crist Is The New Dede Scozzafava

...for regardless of what happens in NY-23 tonight, the Purgepocalypse rolls on like some sort of katamari that picks up stupid and congeals into a giant chunky orb of hate, and its next victim may be the squishing of one Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. The guy pushing that thing around is Crist's primary challenger for Florida's open Senate seat, Marco Rubio.
"What you'll find tomorrow is a lot of conservatives will look around and say, and say 'where else is this happening?'" Rubio spokesperson Alex Burgos said in an interview today. "A lot came together essentially at the last minute in New York 23. In our case, it doesn't have to be that way. This is a campaign and a candidate that conservatives can get behind early and have an effect."

Rubio has already benefited from the example set by the Hoffman campaign. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) called out Cornyn yesterday on Facebook, claiming the NRSC chair's support for Hoffman but not Rubio was "kind of ironic." Rush Limbaugh is on the air these days making the connection between NY-23 and the Florida Senate race, too.

What's more, Rubio already has the backing of Dick Armey, the former House Republican Majority Leader who played a big role in Hoffman's campaign in New York. Armey was among Rubio's earliest national supporters and it's likely he'll turn his attentions back to Rubio now that the Hoffman bid is done.

Burgos says it's not certain that Crist will be the conservative movement's next Scozzafava, but he said Rubio forces have been "excited" by the NY-23 race and expect that whatever happens there tonight will give Rubio a big national boost. The campaign has a new website aimed at reminding national conservatives of Crist's past support for Obama's stimulus, featuring the pair in what appears to be close conversation. The site, CharlieAndObama.com, launched today -- just as conservatives began looking for their new NY-23.

"That photo is symbolic of not just Crist's willingness to embrace the stimulus," Burgos said. "It's also a willingness to embrace a number of Obama's policies conservatives have a problem with." Burgos said the list included cap and trade and "higher taxes."

"I wouldn't call it vindication," Burgos said when asked if NY-23 made him want t give an "I told you so" to all the national party leaders who rejected Rubio's bid. "But it shows we're not alone in this. [NY-23] is a pretty prominent race where a conservative has stuck to his guns and done well. It's the same way with Marco. A lot of people left him for dead but he never lost sight of his conscience."

"We're hoping that once the job is finished in NY 23 folks will look to this race as the next stop," Burgos added.

There's your money quote. The "folks" that made NY-23 into the circus that it is are looking to do that to the entire state of Florida next...and then America. Astroturfing is how this whole thing has taken off, and where it goes from here is going to be the next great political lesson of our time.

They bought their own teabagger in NY-23. They're shopping for a Senator in Florida. They'll be looking for something in a nice, know-nothing pliable dingbat in 2012 for the White House.

I understand that there's genuine anger out there. But these guys aren't the answer for a great number of Americans, and it's important to realize just how narrow this base really is.

What Digby Said

...on the folly of bi-partisanship in 2009:
The argument for abolition of the filibuster falls apart when you see that the Dems have the 60 votes and --- it doesn't make any difference. And that's because there is always some pampered little prince or princess who thinks he or she should be running everything and they will hold up the process regardless. That 50th Senator for the vote would be as hard to get as the 60th for the filibuster unless the Democratic party starts to require some partisan loyalty.

In the days when legislation was cobbled together on a bipartisan basis, you didn't want too much discipline or you couldn't get the other side to cross lines when you needed them. But the realignment has solidified the partisan divide on the basis of ideology, philosophy and region. The Republicans have adapted already and understand that their job is to obstruct when in the minority and steam roll when in the majority. The Democrats are still living in the past.

We are a politically polarized country with very different views of how to govern this country. We have regular elections to determine if people are happy with what the majority party is doing. That system will work just fine if only the politicians will enact their agendas and then let the country ratify it or reject it. I don't see what's so wrong with that. It sounds like representative democracy to me.

This fetish for bipartisanship seems more and more like a social construct to allow the ruling class to live happily together. As a citizen, that really isn't my concern. I think we should expect the parties to fight these issues out on the merits rather than live with gridlock and torpor where the only ones who ever prevail are the lobbyists who grease the palms of the politicians of both parties.
This is how our political system works now, it is hyper-partisan and it will always remain as such in the era of instant internet feedback, Dick Armey astroturfing, and a 100% chance of Republican filibusters on everything. Democrats must evolve to combat this on their own terms or forever be at will of the Republican Party no matter who is in the majority.

When just 535 people get to decide where trillions of dollars go each year in this country, there is no such thing as comity, and anyone who tells you otherwise is just trying to screw you out of your piece of the action.

This is how our country works. "E pluribus unum" is no longer our motto, it's "I got mine and I'm coming for yours."

Shoulda Stuck With No Plan

John "The Crying Man" Boehner should have stuck with his Invisible Health Care No Plan, because details leaking about the GOP alternative legislation may actually make the case stronger for Nancy Pelosi's bill.
The health legislation authored by House Republicans and set to be unveiled in the next few days reportedly would not prevent health insurance companies for discriminating against patients with pre-existing conditions.

That's not just a stark contrast to Democratic-produced legislation; it puts Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his co-authors at odds with many members of their own party.

Oops. Gonna be hard to sell that one in Peoria, Johnny. But once you get specifics, you get attacked for them...that's how this works, see?

Your rules, after all.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

A conservative winning a House district that hasn't elected a Democrat since the Civil War, that conservative having 95% of his money coming from outside the district, is somehow proof that America is sick of the status quo in this country.

All this means is that the corporate assholes running the Teabaggers are willing to buy as many individual House elections as it takes to rid the country of actual thought.

Still Not Worried About 2010

...but Steve at NMMNB is, and he may have a point.
This is the important point: there doesn't seem to be any downside to declaring yourself a card-carrying insaniac. We kept waiting all through August for there to be a broad-based backlash in response to the right's town hall excesses -- it never happened. We keep waiting for there to be broad-based revulsion at the idiot McCarthyism and unhinged emotionality of Glenn Beck -- it hasn't happened. We keep waiting for broad-based disgust at remarks like Congresswoman Virginia Foxx's assertion that "we have more to fear from the potential of" health care reform "than we do from any terrorist right now in any country" -- it's not happening, and it's not gonna happen.

Rachel Maddow-watching, Huffington Post-reading smarty-pantses like us know instantly what's wrong with what these people are saying, but the rest of America -- i.e, about 90+ percent of America -- doesn't. They just know they don't like the status quo. Any anti-status-quo rant that seems to have logic and coherence and patriotism, even it's wrong in every particular, seems, to a huge percentage of Americans, sincere and well-meant at least and thoroughly persuasive at most.

That's why we put out stories that say, "Look, Doug Hoffman is a card-carrying Beck groupie" -- and wait for the backlash in vain. It's not coming -- any more than it came in response to the tea parties and town halls.

Most Americans simply don't have a script in their heads that portrays this sort of thing as beyond the pale. They certainly have a script like that in their heads for our side. More than one script, really -- the DFH script, the tax-and-spend-liberal script, the angry-black-militant script, and the angry-bitch script to name a few. (On that last one, seen Nancy Pelosi's approval ratings lately?) It's easy for there to be an instant backlash against a leftist or liberal or Democrat. On our side, though, we wait and wait, and the backlash never happens.

We actually need to explain to the broad public why Glenn Beck is beyond the pale, or why Virginia Foxx is. We need to build a these-people-are-nuts argument from scratch. The general public (except possibly with regard to religious-right types, or Sarah Palin, and her mostly because she seems stupid) just doesn't have a well-cultivated idea of why these people are anything other than what they say they are, namely passionate patriots.
In other words, the Teabaggers are out there causing damage because right now they are the only vocal opposition to the status quo. There's no middle ground because the Teabaggers are in the process of annihilating it and they are counting on "Well, at least they aren't Obama" as victory through indifference.

He's got a point. Teabaggers are crazy to me, but that's simply not self-evident to a lot of people. Ron Paul's the best example of this. He had some good things to say ("Audit the Fed!, end the wars!") and he had a cool blimp. but you had to do some research to figure out the other 70% of Ron Paul's stuff was crackpot lunacy.

Americans don't want to invest even cursory interest in their political world outside of sound bites and scandals. You have to cut the rancid steak for them before they'll take a nibble and spit it out, otherwise they'll just say "wrap it up and I'll take it home for dinner."

Me, I personally think the Teabaggers are so crazy they'll beat themselves with their Purgepocalypse. In the meanwhile however, we'll end up with more idiots like Bachmanniac and her merry band of know-nothing mouth-breathers.

We've got a lot of work to do.

They're Not Even Bothering To Pretend Anymore

Doug at Balloon Juice on John Solomon's tenture at the Moonie Times:
“When we were demoing this, we were running Newt Gingrich as a personality,” explained Solomon. “Everything Newt Gingrich did on the social media space–on Facebook, on Twitter–was aggregating through the technology. We were sitting there–[seasoned Times reporter] Ralph Hallow was sitting alongside of me–and all of a sudden this little Twitter burst comes up from Newt, saying Sotomayor was racist. We jumped on it, we put that out there. That created, as you remember, days and days of a firestorm about whether her personal views about race and gender were biasing her views from the bench.”
Just to be clear: when Solomon was at the AP and Washington Post, he was widely accused of writing ideologically-motivated pieces of dubious authenticity. The Post and AP defended him to the hilt. Now he’s openly bragging about doing exactly what his critics accused him of.

Anyway, all of this proves that the media has a strong liberal bias.

Like I said, they're not even pretending anymore that the name of the game isn't "Who among the new players in the Drudge-tastic blogosphere and the neo-Clintonian press corps will make their bones for the next fifteen years off of betting full out on Obama Derangement Syndrome?" or anything like that.

Creating "days and days of a firestorm" attacking everything Obama does is simply the goal of the Village media.

Self-Fufilling Prophecy

Politico is laying the groundwork for yet another delay on Obamacare, this one well into 2010.
Democrats have blown so many deadlines for getting health reform done this year that insiders are increasingly skeptical they can finish by year’s end — and some even suggest the effort might slip to a new deadline, before the State of the Union address.

The discussions are an acknowledgment that with only two months left in the year, Democrats are still a long way from sending a bill to the president’s desk. The House could take up reform on the floor as early as this week, with a good shot at passing something by Veterans Day.

But in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid is still wrangling with his moderate members to corral 60 votes just to get the debate started. And on Monday, Reid sent a letter to Republicans acknowledging that he is waiting on the Congressional Budget Office’s cost estimates and analysis to finish drafting a bill. Democrats signaled that those estimates would not be ready this week, casting further doubt on their ability to finish reform this year.

Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad said he spoke with CBO Director Doug Elmendorf last week and that it sounded like “it would be quite a while” before the estimates were ready. The news makes a Christmas completion “a challenge,” Conrad said.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also asked Elmendorf when the estimates would be ready. So how long is a while?

“I asked Mr. Elmendorf that question, and I get the same answer: We just don’t know,” Baucus said.

That perception is shared on K Street.“It doesn’t sound to me that they’re ready to go. They still have moderates hanging out there,” said a former Republican Senate leadership aide turned lobbyist.
So, Kent Conrad and some K Street Republican-types are thinking...next year. Maybe. If things get passed, they can be reconciled kinda before February-ish. Sorta. Hey, maybe we should wait a bit more and get it right...

Of course, excessive delays are exactly what some in Washington want. They know that once this bill starts becoming an attack option in primaries this Spring, this bill's done for and it will never get passed. They need to just delay it a little bit longer, and then health care reform is done for for another 16 years or so.

Which is the point of articles like this. Note how it's the Democrats who missed deadlines according to the article but the explanation why isn't there: Republicans like Chuck Grassley and Mike Enzi who sandbagged the measure in the Senate.

Village Politico at its finest.

Around The Horn

In addition to VA and NJ Governor and NY-23's special election, there are a number of other votes to watch today including:
  • Maine voters will decide whether or not to overturn the state's same-sex marriage law as well as deciding on legalizing medical marijuana.
  • Washington state has a similar measure on the ballot to Maine's on overturning the state's "everything but marriage" civil unions law.
  • New York City, Atlanta, Houston and Boston pick mayors.
As I mentioned earlier today from a local standpoint, Cincinnati picks a mayor and city council, Dayton's mayor is up for a vote and Ohio has three statewide ballot issues, one on a bond referendum to pay Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, one on allowing casinos in Ohio, and one on creating a Livestock Care Board to regulate the care of farm animals in the state.

I'll be updating those results later tonight and tomorrow.

Good Money After Bad

Britain is dumping another $50 billion or so into the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyd's Banking Group in order to keep them going.
The Treasury will inject 25.5 billion pounds of capital into RBS, for a total of 45.5 billion pounds, making it the costliest bailout of any bank worldwide. The government will fund about a quarter of Lloyds’s 21 billion-pound fundraising. Both banks said they won’t pay cash bonuses to workers earning more than 39,000 pounds this year.

The rescue will bring the government closer to full ownership over RBS, while Lloyds will escape government control. Lloyds CEO Eric Daniels will raise funds from money managers to avoid the Treasury’s asset insurance plan that would give the government a majority stake. He’s betting bad loans will decline after the Bank of England said the country’s recession was nearly over. In contrast, Stephen Hester, RBS’s CEO, will accept greater government oversight and insure 282 billion pounds of his banks’ riskiest assets with the Treasury.

“There is now a very fine line between RBS being nationalized,” said Danny Gabay, director of Fathom Consulting in London and a former Bank of England economist. “This contrasts with Lloyds willing to fight harder for its independence.”

RBS fell 8.3 percent to 35.45 pence as of 12:12 p.m. in London trading, for a market value of 20.1 billion pounds. Lloyds declined 2.1 percent to 83.25 pence.

RBS is all but nationalized, and Lloyd's is simply struggling in flypaper at this point. Over at Big Picture, Barry flags Joseph Stiglitz reminding us that we should have gone with Plan N in the first place.
“If we had done the right thing, we would be able to have more influence over the banks,” Stiglitz told reporters at an economic conference in Shanghai Oct 31. “They would be lending and the economy would be stronger.”

Stiglitz has stuck with his view even after the U.S. economy returned to growth in the third quarter and as banks’ share prices climbed this year…

The U.S. government plans to alter the way that a similar rescue would be handled in the future. Draft legislation proposes that banks, hedge funds and other financial firms holding more than $10 billion in assets would pay to rescue companies whose collapse would shake the financial system.”

Why are we planning on how to bail out banks in the future when we should be making sure that banks never get too big to need to be bailed out instead?

And people wonder why I think Helicopter Ben, Timmy and the rest of Obama's economic knuckleheads (save Paul Volcker) need to go.

Priced Out

Ezra Klein has a fascinating piece up on health care costs and what other contries pay for doctor's fees, tests and drugs. Your average American pays between two and ten times as much per health care item than your average Canadian, for example.

There is a simple explanation for why American health care costs so much more than health care in any other country: because we pay so much more for each unit of care. As Halvorson explained, and academics and consultancies have repeatedly confirmed, if you leave everything else the same -- the volume of procedures, the days we spend in the hospital, the number of surgeries we need -- but plug in the prices Canadians pay, our health-care spending falls by about 50 percent.

In other countries, governments set the rates that will be paid for different treatments and drugs, even when private insurers are doing the actual purchasing. In our country, the government doesn't set those rates for private insurers, which is why the prices paid by Medicare, as you'll see on some of these graphs, are much lower than those paid by private insurers. You'll also notice that the bit showing American prices is separated into blue and yellow: That shows the spread between the average price (the top of the blue) and the 90th percentile (the top of the yellow). Other countries don't have nearly that much variation, again because their pricing is standard.

The health-care reform debate has done a good job avoiding the subject of prices. The argument over the Medicare-attached public plan was, in a way that most people didn't understand, an argument about prices, but it quickly became an argument about a public option without a pricing dimension, and never really looked back. The administration has been very interested in the finding that some states are better at providing cost-effective care than other states, but not in the finding that some countries are better at purchasing care than other countries. "A health-care debate in this country that isn't aware of the price differential is not an informed debate," says Halvorson. By that measure, we have not had a very informed debate. But download this pack of charts (pdf), and you'll be a bit more informed.

And the reason we pay so much is the profit margin for insurance companies, Big Pharma, and hospital chains. Profit motive in health care is the reason why we have the most expensive and overpriced health care system in the world. Period. Until we address that, there won't be any change in the exorbitant prices we all end up paying one way or another.

StupidiNews, Election Day Edition

Get out there and vote, people. Here locally, Cincy picks a mayor and city council and Ohio has a gambling initiative on the ballot that could put casinos in Ohio's major cities. These things matter, folks.

Make your voice heard where you live.
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