Thursday, November 5, 2009

Last Call

Two last things about today's Food Hood shooting:

First, several news outlets are reporting that Major Hasan is in fact still alive after surgery.

Second, Josh Marshall called it earlier this afternoon.
The fact that the primary assailant has an Arabic name and is presumably, though we don't know this yet, of Muslim extraction if not a practicing Muslim, is going to be the focus of attention. That is an issue that speaks for itself. And I'm sure it will be the focus of much discussion over the coming days.
Major Hasan has already been convicted by the Right, although frankly I can't imagine too much evidence existing in favor of his personal innocence. Nothing justifies this shooting, period. If he's guilty, then he needs to burn for it.

But my fear is that the rest of Islam will be convicted in the coming days. Again. We've been here before.

Me? I'm waiting for this to be Obama's fault. Just a question of when. My money's on before Friday's out, especially since a good quarter or so of America still believes Obama's a Muslim anyway.

A Climate Of Change

Moving on to some other events of the day, today's Senate Environment and Public Works committee vote on climate change legislation passed easily, due to the fact all the Republicans walked out.

With Republican boycotting the proceedings, Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) relied on a little used interpretation of committee rules to move the legislation. Traditionally, two minority members are required to conduct committee business.

Boxer said that she passed the bill “in full accordance with long-standing committee and Senate rules.”

“This is not a procedure we wanted; it’s a procedure that’s available to us,” said Boxer. “The majority has to be able to do its work…otherwise the whole Senate could come to a screeching halt.”

Republicans called Boxer's move the “nuclear option,” warning that it violated decades of committee precedent.

“I am here to appeal to you and the members of the committee,” Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the committee, said in a brief statement. “In the history of this committee, we have not been able to find a time when the bill has been marked up without minority.”

Inhofe can complain all he wants to, but the fact of the matter is he simply decided to pick up his ball and go home like a petulant child rather than see this legislation pass, and now he's claiming the vote was invalid because there were no Republicans present. If inhofe is right, then the GOP can simply stop every piece of legislation they don't like, and nothing will ever get voted on. I'm fine with that, just as long as Inhofe extends Democrats the same courtesy. The odds of that happening are zero, of course.

But then again, petulant childishness is what the GOP excels in. Why debate the laws or work with Democrats when you can storm out and complain to reporters about everything Democrats try to do?

Fort Hood Tragedy

CNN is reporting 7 dead, 20 wounded at the army base in Fort Hood, Texas. Base is on lockdown, one shooter in custody, one cornered on the base. No ID on the shooter(s?) or the victims at this point.

More as it develops, as they say.

[UPDATE 3:55 PM] MSNBC has more:
KCEN reported that a policeman was among those shot.
Story continues below ↓
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KCEN in Waco reported that the second suspect may be holed up in a building on the post.

Greg Schannep, an aide to U.S. Rep. John Carter, told the Austin American-Statesman that he was on the Army post to attend a graduation service. He said that as he neared the entrance of a building where the service was being held, a soldier with blood on his uniform ran past him and said a man was shooting.

Schannep told the newspaper that the shootings appeared to have occurred in a complex near a theater where the service was scheduled. He was with the injured soldier, who he said appeared to have been struck in the shoulder but did not have life-threatening injuries.

According to unconfirmed reports, one of the shooters was being surrounded by police in the 42006 building on Fort Hood. That source told KCEN the shooter has a high-powered rifle.

This is rapidly turning into one of those not good days.

[UPDATE 4:07 PM] Josh Marshall is hearing that both the victims and the assailants are all military.

[UPDATE 4:23 PM] What Atrios said:
When your first reaction to tragic events is to consider how they might support your politics, it's time to go for a nice long walk.
He's nicer than I am, looking over some of the other blogs chasing this story.

[UPDATE 4:52 PM] Nine dead now, four of the wounded were SWAT officers called in, both suspects are in custody.

[UPDATE 5:04 PM] 11 dead, including one of the now 3 gunmen, the other two in custody.

[UPDATE 5:18 PM] MSNBC is now reporting that 12 are dead, 31 injured, and all three gunmen were in fact U.S. soldiers. I'm not sure which is more depressing, that this was done to our soldiers or done by them.

[UPDATE 5:31 PM] ABC News is reporting one of the gunmen has been identified as a Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan. Here's where things get truly ugly.

[UPDATE 6:43 PM] Maj. Hasan was apparently an Army psychiatrist. Good lord. And on this day I find myself agreeing with all people, Larry Johnson.
The murder and wounding of more than forty soldiers is bad enough. If a cell of muslim extremists have infiltrated the U.S. Army then this is going to cause some major blow back throughout the military. Muslim officers and enlisted personnel will fall under suspicion. Most of this will be unfair and unwarranted. But human nature is what it is and the suspicion engendered by this kind of act will reverbrate for some time and probably hurt our ability to do a better job on winning hearts and minds overseas when there is such distrust in the ranks.
What the hell motivates an Army psychiatrist to go on a rampage like this?

Mr. Hoffman, Your Three O' Clock Bus Is Here

And Dick Armey just threw Doug Hoffman under it.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 23rd congressional district, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman met with the editorial board of the Watertown Daily Times, the largest paper in the district. After Hoffman “showed no grasp of the bread-and-butter issues pertinent to district residents,” his companion in the meeting, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, rose to his defense by dismissing regional concerns as “parochial” issues that would not determine the outcome of the election. Armey’s comment was a major factor in the paper offering a “flat-out blistering” critique of Hoffman when it endorsed Democrat Bill Owens. Now, Armey is throwing Hoffman under the bus, saying that “he didn’t pay enough attention to local concerns”:

Armey, the former House GOP majority leader, noted that Democrats had seized on Hoffman’s inability to address local concerns.

“The fact of the matter is, he didn’t pay enough attention to the local concerns, and they were able to tag him as being unaware of the local needs and concerns,” Armey said.

Man, what a douchebag. Poor Doug Hoffman has just found out the only thing Wingnuts hate more than liberals, women, gays, immigrants, minorities and science is a Wingnut who can't win elections.

Welcome to the Rack, Dougie. Enjoy your stay.

Guy FOX Day

Steve Benen might be giving Shelly Bachmann too much credit, but she is leading her little field trip de Teabag into the halls of Congress on the Fifth of November.
And when has Bachmann scheduled her Capitol Hill soiree? This afternoon -- November 5 -- a date widely known as Guy Fawkes Night. (You know, "Remember, remember, the fifth of November.") In other words, Bachmann wants to rally right-wing activists, label them an "insurgency," and encourage them to roam the halls of Congress deliberately "scaring" members of Congress, on the infamous date that marks an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

From a security perspective, if Capitol Police aren't operating at a heightened state today, they're making a mistake.

From a political perspective, I wonder if Republican Party leaders are glad to see a right-wing, deranged lawmaker lead an angry far-right mob through the Capitol. Nothing says "American mainstream" like Bachmann and a confused horde shipped to D.C. by corporate lobbyists.

The symbolism is rich and thick like waffle batter, and Shelly's in the kitchen making breakfast...a breakfast of crazy.

Like I said, I think Steve's reaching a bit on this one, I doubt Bachmann would know Guy Fawkes from Gary Coleman, but that's just me.

Still, this woman is a couple pieces of bacon short of a Denny's Grand Slam breakfast.

[UPDATE 3:05 PM] The Rumpies tell it like it is.

What a shameless, bald-faced liar Bachmann is. This isn’t news, of course. But the depth of her mendacity is still breathtaking. It’s as if she’s up there railing against government-mandated anal probes. She’s not terribly bright, but I’m sure even she knows she’s lying about the “government takeover of health care.”
Of course she does, because if you're a Republican, there's no penalty for lying. Not from the rest of Congress, not from the Village, not from the people, not from anyone.

The Ten Year Itch

Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge reminds us it was ten years ago today that Glass-Steagall was repealed by Gramm-Leach-Bliley, setting us up for the financial meltdown that followed.
At the time - (November 5th, 1999) - then Treasury Secretary Larry H. Summers said the highly touted bill would, "better enable American companies to compete in the new economy".

Co-sponsor of the bill Thomas Bliley was quoted as saying, "We have a new century coming, and we have an opportunity to dominate that century the same way we dominated this century". Glass-Stegall, in the midst of the Great Depression, came at a time when the thinking was that the government was the answer. In this era of economic prosperity, we have decided that freedom is the answer". [does the current corporate communist, central Fed planning regime count for anything?]

And Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) assured those few who were worried about the bill's passing that, "the concerns that we will have a meltdown like 1929 are dramatically overblown".

Byron Dorgan (D-ND) was one of those who were concerned about the bill. He said, "I think we will look back in 10 years' time and say we should not have done this but we did because we forgot the lessons of the past, and that which is true in the 1930's is true in 2010".

Is Mr. Dorgan correct? Are we looking at the GLB bill now and wishing that we didn't do it?

I guess the answer depends on who you ask..

After making $100 million or more in 116 out of 194 trading days, I'm sure the hard working folks at Goldman Sachs are wishing the GLB bill was celebrating its 40th anniversary.
Byron Dorgan was more correct than he could ever have known at the time. Now, ten years to the day, I can say that we have a lot of regrets financially in this country, and still have a long, long way to go. Boy, it's a good thing this bill was set up to protect taxpayers from being overcharged by banks and insurance companies, wasn't it?

I've railed against Gramm-Leach-Bliley for quite some time now and absolutely agree that it was a major contributing factor in the meltdown. The question is what will be done to correct it? So far the answer's looking like "Nothing."

Having Your Pandemic And Eating It Too

Despite the fact that Republicans in Congress voted against H1N1 vaccine funding and the repeated bromide that Obama was unduly panicking the country by focusing on it, conservatives are now attacking the Obama administration for not doing enough on H1N1 by taking out national ad buys.
American Future Fund, one of the constellation of conservative independent media funds, is going up with this ad tying flu vaccine shortages to President Obama's health care plan.

It's a volatile issue that most Republicans have tiptoed around amid accusations of playing poltics with public health, and the long-term power of the issue will depend largely on how bad the flu is this season -- something beyond anyone's control.

But the vaccine shortages are currently a source of major jitters, and the ad -- which the Standard reports has "significant money" behind it -- aims at at a real emotional chord.

Which is funny, because Republicans all but ignored H1N1 all during the Bush years, saying it wasn't a problem.

Now it's Obama's Katrina of the Week.

[UPDATE 1:47 PM] Of course, what vaccine is out there is going to our most important citizens first here in America, like Goldman Sachs executives.

March Of The Old Guard

The AARP has endorsed the House health care reform bill, a major, major victory for the Democrats in the battle of public opinion.
The push to overhaul health care received a major boost Thursday as the nation's largest organization of older Americans endorsed legislation drafted by top House Democrats.

The move by the AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for people 50 and older, comes as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, oversees final changes to the $1.1 trillion health care bill. The measure likely will come to a final vote Saturday.

A 42-page manager's amendment on the health care legislation posted Tuesday night made mostly technical changes in the nearly 2,000-page bill compiled from three Democratic proposals passed by three House committees.

By making the changes public Tuesday, House Democratic leaders could open floor debate on the bill Friday, while fulfilling their pledge to allow 72 hours of review before bringing the measure to the full chamber.

Pelosi insisted Thursday she will have the 218 votes necessary to pass the bill. Meanwhile, President Obama is set to huddle Friday with congressional Democrats on Capitol Hill to review the legislation.

Meanwhile, the powerful American Medical Association also is set to weigh in on the debate, announcing its position on the House health care bill at a Thursday news conference.

The pieces are falling into place. Saturday's vote will be historic, one way or another. But the AARP is not a joke. If they're backing the plan, then that's a definite win for the good guys on this one.

It Must Be Hard To Walk Without A Spine

Politico flags Blue Dogs crying and whining about how their jobs will be doomed if they vote for Obama's agenda.

Election Day losses in Virginia and New Jersey have congressional Democrats focused like never before on jobs — their own.

While the White House and party leaders are urging calm, Democratic incumbents from red states and Republican-leaning districts are anything but; Tuesday's statehouse defeats have left them acutely aware that their votes on health care reform and other major Obama initiatives could be career-enders in 2010 or beyond.

“I should be nervous,” said Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Huntsville, Ala.

Griffith said the Democratic rank and file is “very, very sensitive” to the fact that issues being pushed by party leaders “have the potential to cost some of our front-line members their seats.”

House Democrats, forced to take a tough vote on a controversial cap-and-trade climate change bill in June, may have to vote as earlier as this weekend on the even more controversial health care bill. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team have struggled to get moderates on board for that vote, and Tuesday's results won't make the task any easier.

“People who had weak knees before are going to have weaker knees now,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a relatively liberal congressman who seemed safe in 2010 but now thinks a Republican challenger might feel emboldened by Tuesday’s election results.

Now, here's what I don't get.

In the two special elections for House seats, the Democrats won. They kept the seat in CA-10 and picked up a seat in NY-23. If anything, this should be emboldening Democrats that when it comes to Congress, voters want to see Democrats actually doing things. They actually increased the margin in the House despite Obama's popularity woes (supposedly) and Congress's popularity woes (which are real).

Voters. Still. Chose. Democrats. Nationally.

Do the job you were elected to do, guys.

Pirates Of The Manhattan: At World's End

The Galleon Group insider trading scandal is getting bigger, now involving employees of Moody's as well.
The growing insider-trading scandal involving the hedge fund Galleon Group has now led to charges against 14 people, including an employee of the ratings agency Moody's Investors Service, CNBC has learned.

Federal and state authorities plan to announce the new charges—including nine charged today—at a news conference at noon EST.

According to an SEC complaint, the Galleon insider trading scandal involved stocks of 10 different companies, including Google, Hilton Hotels and Intel .

The Moody's employee, identified as Deep Shah, is alleged to have tipped the insider trading ring about potential developments that could impact the price of a particular stock.

Besides the Moody's employee, those charged include an attorney with the law firm Ropes & Gray and former employees of Incremental Capital hedge fund and the trading firm Schottenfeld Group.

One of those charged, a trader identified as Zvi Goffer, worked at Shottenfeld, then at Galleon and then worked at his own firm, and was considered a ring-leader of an insider trading network that began in 2007.

Goffer allegedly set up tipsters with pre-paid cellular phones and paid them cash in exchange for tips, primarily about private-equity deals.

It was a pretty intricate deal, looks like. But the expansion of the case to include an employee from one of the ratings firms should really, really drive home what kind of conflict of interest these ratings firms are in the first place, and how they are in part responsible for the financial meltdown.

When everybody was basically AAA, the ratings themselves became worthless. That of course led to things not being AAA as being listed as such, and the rest of course is history.

That history is repeating itself.

I'll Have What She's Having

Michelle Obama will be on Iron Chef America, showing off the real star of the show, the White House's organic garden.
Michelle Obama is to be the first presidential wife to appear on a reality TV series.

The First Lady will make a guest appearance on 'Iron Chef America' which features British cook Nigella Lawson as a judge.

The episode of the popular series, which pits well-known chefs against each others, has been filmed at the White House and will be aired in the New Year.

Many of the ingredients for the meals prepared in the show were chosen from the recently planted White House vegetable garden.

Seems like a good way to promote healthy eating habits to me. Surely if Laura Bush, Barbara Bush, or Nancy Reagan did it, it would be wonderful. But since this is Michelle Obama, she's already being attacked as "tacky" and "overexposed" by the right. It doesn't matter what she does, it's bad and wrong and stuff. Imagine, the First Lady trying to promote eating vegetables! Such fascism!

Welcome to the Winger's own reality show, now in its third year: Obama Derangement Syndrome: The Series.

If It's Thursday...

Ahead of tomorrow's monthy unemployment numbers, new unemployment filings fell 20k to 512,000, and continuing claims have fallen to 5.75 million. Of course, with Congress passing legislation to extend benefits another 14-20 weeks, this number's headed back up above 6 million soon.

Some interesting productivity numbers this month however.
The Labor Department said non-farm productivity surged at a 9.5 percent annual rate, the quickest pace since the third quarter of 2003. Productivity grew at a 6.9 percent pace in the April-June period.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast productivity, which measures the hourly output per worker, rising at a 6.4 percent rate in the third quarter.

Productivity in manufacturing rose at a record 13.6 percent rate in the third quarter.

Total non-farm output rebounded, growing at a 4 percent rate in the July-September quarter after dropping 1.1 percent in the previous period.

Productivity has increased sharply over the past two quarters, largely driven by aggressive cost cutting by businesses.

American workers are producing more with fewer people and doing so with fewer hours, and yet wages are stagnant or falling. Gotta love how that bodes for the recovery.

Epic Like A Seven Year Old Is Helpful With Paint Fail

Ahead of Saturday's historic House health care reform bill vote, the GOP continues to be "helpful" with its own alternative bill. Now, I've given the GOP a hard time about not having a bill before, but to their credit they did finally pen some legislation and sent it up to be scored by the Congressional Budget Office.

But, as I've said before, they should have stuck with no bill whatsoever, because the CBO says the GOP alternative is a disaster.

The Republican bill, which has no chance of passage, would extend insurance coverage to about 3 million people by 2019, and would leave about 52 million people uninsured, the budget office said, meaning the proportion of non-elderly Americans with coverage would remain about the same as now, at roughly 83 percent.

The budget office has said that the Democrats’ health care proposal would extend coverage to 36 million people, meaning that 96 percent of legal residents would have health benefits. The Democrats’ bill would cost $1.1 trillion, with the costs more than covered by revenues from new taxes or cuts in government spending, particularly on Medicare.

House Republicans, including their leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, have said that they did not intend for their legislation to expand insurance coverage, because they viewed that goal as unaffordable. Instead, they said the bill was tailored narrowly to reduce costs.

According to the report by nonpartisan budget office, the Republican bill would reduce future federal deficits by $68 billion over 10 years, compared to a reduction of $104 billion by the House Democrats' legislation.

In other words, the GOP's plan manages to be more expensive and insure far fewer Americans. It's pretty much the definition of EPIC FAIL. They've been working on this plan since the early summer and this is the best they can come up with. They want to slow the process down even more because it takes time, they keep saying.

I mean honestly, I can understand a bill that covers far fewer Americans and costs less. That would make sense. But they've actually managed to come up with a bill that does far, far less and costs $38 billion more over ten years.

That's not just bad, that's actually completely incompetent. They would have been better off with no actual plan. Now Democrats can say "Well, we see why the Republicans didn't bother to put out a health care reform plan when they ran Washington."

I mean honestly, they've just made the case for not only health care reform, but specifically the House bill with the public option.

Needless to say, EPIC FAIL. Health care legislation: you're doing it wrong.

Teabaggin' Tailgatin'

TPMDC's Evan McMorris-Santoro drops in on the Tea Party pre-party ahead of today's BachmanniaFest '09.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and the Tea Party Patriots are not expecting a warm reception on Capitol Hill Thursday. In a series of conference calls Wednesday night, representatives of the "thousands" of tea partiers who have promised to heed Bachmann's call to make a "last stand" against Democratic-led health care reform told their members to expect the worst from the members of Congress they plan to lobby.

"The attitude we're facing right now is very hostile," Tea Party Patriot national organizer Jenny Beth Martin said on a conference call for regional leaders TPMDC sat in on Wednesday night. "The [members] don't even want to hear from us on these issues."

Martin, Bachmann and's Erick Erickson told regional organizers on the calls that Thursday's rally and storm through the halls of Congress were the tea partiers last chance to stop what Bachmann called the Democrats' plan to "literally have the power of life and death over you."

"There are no other rabbits to pull out of the hat," Bachmann said. "This is the only thing I can think to do."

Bachmann is the woman behind Thursday's events on Capitol Hill which -- according to the numbers promised by regional organizers on the calls -- will bring more than 1,000 protesters face-to-face with the members of congress nearing floor votes on a pair of health care reform packages.

My question of course is "Where's the other 1,999,000 of them?" I was promised a revolution, that would have lawmakers streaming out into the streets of D.C. begging forgiveness at the hands of Shelly's shock troopers for daring to give people affordable health care instead of the American way of letting the insurance companies decide who lives and who dies for profit like George Washington intended.

You can't do that with a thousand people. Sheesh. It's almost like people think she's a nutbar or something.

Bonfire Of The Moderates

The pushback of the GOP's remaining moderates against the Teabagger crowd begins today.
The morning after Republicans lost an upstate New York House seat, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned that conservative activists will bring destruction to the Republican Party if they drive out moderate candidates across the country.

“To those people who are pursuing purity, you’ll become a club not a party,” Graham told POLITICO in the Capitol Wednesday. “Those people who are trying to embrace conservatism in a thoughtful way that fits the region and the state and the district are going to do well. Conservativism is an asset. Blind ideology is not.”

Graham, who has sparred with his party’s right wing on issues ranging from climate change to Guantanamo Bay to Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, warned that those concerned about the state of the GOP should help find candidates who are electable — not ones who adhere to a particular type of ideology. And he said that both the GOP nominee, Dede Scozzafava and the conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman were both out of the mainstream of the upstate New York district – which lead to the victory of Democrat Bill Owens Tuesday night.

If your goal is to make everybody just like you in terms of ideology, that’s a self-centered approach to politics,” Graham said.

Now, Huckleberry here has just come off of re-election last year, so he's got until after 2012 before he has to worry about getting his ass purified by the Teabaggers. But you'd better believe he just made a whole lot of enemies with this one.

Best Winger reaction, Hot Air's Allahpundit:

If you believe your ideology is the best course for America, why wouldn’t you want everyone to be just like you? Does this guy think Obama sits around the White House at night, musing, “Gee, it’d be terrible if everybody thought just like I did”? Compromise when you must but win when you can. Sometimes I think Graham has it the other way around.
"Yes, why wouldn't you want to purge all differing thought from the party or the country for that matter if given a preference?" he says. I can understand that's a natural Wingnut reaction to, well, thoughts in general. They're dangerous, you know.

But the Democrats are supposed to be the Thought Police here. Nice.


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