Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Last Call

Good to see Harry Reid call the GOP out for once.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will force the confirmation of a Transportation Security Administration chief back into motion as soon as the Senate reconvenes on January 19th.

Talking Points Memo reports: "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will schedule a formal Senate roll call vote on the nomination of Errol Southers," the Obama appointee who Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has blocked for the past four months over worries about TSA employees being able to unionize. Reid will file a cloture motion to overcome DeMint's block.
Clever.  That will put the GOP on voting record as against the TSA having a department head just after a failed terror attack.
Chad McGowan, a Democratic candidate for South Carolina Senate, said of his opponent in a statement: "This is not the time to have nobody in charge of America's air security. Terrorists don't care if we're Republicans or Democrats -- they only care that we're Americans. Senator DeMint needs to understand that."

Firedoglake's David Dayen also notes that almost all security industries, including police, firefighters and EMTs, as well as flight attendants and pilots, are currently members of labor unions, seemingly without detriment to their effectiveness.
Even better.  Democrats need to listen to D-Day there and push the first responder union angle.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Josh Marshall doesn't get it either.

Look, Josh, are we really to the point where we're hoping that a logical argument from Democrats for goverment mandates and increased taxes is going to beat Republicans lying with impunity and convincing Americans to vote against their own long-term self-interests, in a country where millions of us believe the President is a Kenyan Muslim?

Have you been paying attention to the last three decades of political history?

I'm completely with Digby on this one.  The Dems have to sell this health plan -- really, really sell it and do it effectively -- or the GOP will use it to take back over.  It doesn't actually matter if they repeal it if they take back over Washington and pass laws to make sure it's never really implemented, does it?

The point is, if they take over, health care reform is not the only thing we're going to lose here.  They've taken back over Washington is the point.

A Lesson In Perspective

The cowboy Wingers at Flopping Aces are going nuts:
First we had the Muslim shooting at the Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas killing one soldier in June. Then, in November, the Muslim massacre at Fort Hood killing 13 soldiers and wounding 30. Now, the botched Christmas Day attack on the airliner carrying 300 people.

One might make the case that the tempo and seriousness of these attacks is on the rise.

And yet, from the beginning of the Obama Administration, they have downplayed the seriousness of the problem. Obama and company refused to call this a “war on terror.” Janet Napolitano, Sec. of Homeland Security choose to call these attacks “man caused disasters.” It’s no wonder that Mark Steyn dubbed Ms. Napolitano “Janet Incompetano” after she claimed “the system worked” in the wake of the failed underwear bomber (bomb photos here). Let’s not forget that Sec. “Incompetano” seemed to be more concerned with “rightwing extremist activity” than she was by Islamic terrorists who have killed thousands of Americans.
Perspective is supplied here by Blue Texan at FDL:
If you count the Ft. Hoot shooting as a terrorist attack, which even the likes of Pantload doesn’t, 16 people have died in the United States as result of terrorism in 2009. The other three deaths include the Little Rock military recruiting office shooting (1), the Holocaust Museum shooting (1), and Dr. George Tiller’s assassination (1), the last two coming at the hands of right-wing extremists.

On the other hand, 45,000 Americans died because they didn’t have health insurance and 600 died from salmonella poisoning.

Clearly, providing health care to all Americans is beyond our capabilities, so when do we launch the $700 billion-a-year War on Salmonella?
American lives are American lives.  Zero tolerance of "terrorism" is an absolute requirement!  Saving Americans without health care?  Not so much, if you're a Winger.

Here endeth the lesson.

And The Peasants Cheered

And people wonder why the Dems get rolled on issues they should be fighting back against.  Greg Sargent's blog:
We finally found one Democrat willing to defend Obama’s national security approach from Republican attacks.

Rep. Jane Harman’s office sent us over her statement responding to the attempted bombing of Flight 253, where she raised concern about Al Qaeda in Yemen but also warned about the costs of overreaction:
The intelligence on Mr. Abdulmullatab did not result in putting him on a “no fly” list, a process which must be tightened.  But civil liberties matter, and we must stay mindful that an overreaction has the potential to overwhelm the system and fail to make us more safe.
So, like, one down, couple hundred to go.  Anyone else want to not look like a wussy on national security?

[UPDATE 1:32 PM] John Cole has more:
If elected Democrats are anything like left-wing bloggers, the reason they are not defending Obama is because they are too busy flaming him for not turning America into Utopian Commie Franceistan in the first eleven months. Or they are busy screaming at the people who try to defend him.

Also, they probably hate Rahm Emanuel, too.
Lack of spinal column, and lack of ponies for all.  Great.

The Real Deal Appeal Of Repeal

Yggy argues that the GOP running on repealing health care reform is just not going to happen:
Steve Benen had a good rundown yesterday of the pressure conservative activists are putting on politicians to say they’ll “repeal” health care reform. This strikes me as very unlikely to happen. To see why, you have to ask what “repeal” would mean. Nobody’s going to mount a challenge to an incumbent member of congress by promising to start letting insurance companies deny more claims, or charge women higher premiums. You could promise to repeal Obama’s death panels, but that would be hard to follow up on since they don’t exist. You could promise to repeal the provision forcing hospitals to be more transparent about what they charge but . . . why would you do that?

The juicy political target to hit would be the individual mandate which certainly can easily enough be made to sound like a terrible thing. And this would probably make reform unworkable if you could do it. But industry players aren’t going to want that. Nor is anyone going to want to see lower subsidies for middle class families.

What does seem realistic is that future, more conservative, congresses might do other kinds of conservative stuff that will impact health reform. Rather than repealing the specific tax provisions that finance reform, you’ll see drives to cut taxes for the rich. Rather than bringing back the good old days of rescission, you’ll at a minimum keep hearing talk about the idea of de facto gutting insurance regulation by “selling plans across state lines.” And instead of complaints about how reform is going to blow up the deficit, you’ll see a combination of tax (cut! cut! cut! especially for the rich) and spending policies that do in fact blow up the deficit. But nothing will be “repealed.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but you'd better believe that the Teabaggers will try.  Yggy is wrong on this one.  They'll fail in 2010 but not because they are going to lack the attempt.  They will have no choice but to do so, or they know they will be primaried right out of existence in 2012.  Yes, they don't care if it means less subsidies for the middle class.  They will say "We can afford tax cuts if we stop the subsidies.  You want magical job creating tax cuts, right?"

Look, unless the Dems make the case that this plan is vital and will be helping Americans now, they are going to turn on it in droves and go right along with the "repeal it now" mob.  The GOP is betting they'll have enough clout in 2011 to do just that...and should they fail, well the problem is "We could have repealed it but Obama vetoed it" and we go through all this again in 2012.

When you have a logical Democratic argument on one side and Republican bullshit on the other, betting against the bullshit is a losing proposition unless it's so flagrant that the Republicans trip over themselves.

[UPDATE 12:02 PM] And of course if the economy's still in the trash can in November...and it will be, as I've been warning for a while now...yes, Americans will blame the Dems and vote against their own self-interests because the Republicans and the Village will have convinced them that the Dems have only made things worse.

The Balance Of Shame

More Benen today on Republicans making political hay off singed underpants:
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, has been desperately trying to exploit the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas for political gain. But even by Hoekstra's low standards, this is one of the more craven displays of any politician this year.
Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) is now jumping upon the Northwest Airlines attack -- and using it to raise money for his gubernatorial campaign, the Grand Rapids Press reports.
In the letter, Hoekstra denounces the Obama administration on a whole range of national security issues -- ranging from Flight 253 itself to Guantanamo Bay, investigation of the interrogation techniques used during the Bush administration, and what Hoekstra calls Obama policies that "impress the 'Blame America First' crowd at home and his thousands of fans overseas."
First, when a Republican's first instinct in the wake of an attempted attack is to blame the president and U.S. officials for the terrorist's actions, he's more or less joined the "Blame America First" crowd.

Second, as a substantive matter, Pete Hoekstra is completely, demonstrably wrong about every aspect of national security policy.

And third, just how pathetic does a politician have to be to try to raise money off the attempted murder of hundreds of innocent Americans? Just how desperate does that politician have to be to see a plot to blow up an airplane over American soil and think, "You know, maybe I can exploit this to pick up a few checks."
Steve, Steve, Steve, my friend, bro...there's a distinct segment of the population where the balance of shame of having a black man with a funny middle name in the White House is more than the shame of Pete Hoekstra's attempt to capitalize on this attack.  Hoekstra is playing to this segment.  He has no choice.

This distinct segment of the population controls the political future of Republicans like Hoekstra in 2010 and 2012, period.  Republicans like Hoekstra must cater to this segment or be replaced by someone who will.  This is pure Hoffman Effect, plain and simple.

Look, one of two things will happen in 2010:  either the Republicans will be able to hold on sliding around Teabagger's Corner at top speed making their right turn into destiny and make massive gains in the House and Senate, or they will wipe out, flip over and smash into the wall.  In a sense, it doesn't really matter what the Dems do at this point, and that's just another sign at how messed up the universe is.

Dem success in 2010 is entirely reliant on the GOP crashing and burning and the centrist voters just saying "You know what?  Even the Dems are better than these assholes."  That's not something I'd absolutely bet on happening before November 2010.  Now, 2012...different story.  That's almost assured with Obama himself presumably running again.

He's Got It, Down Pat

Spencer Ackerman's blog has been essential for national security reading for a couple years now, and if you wonder why, here he is calmly stomping the crap out of Pat Buchanan on Morning Joe today.

Earned himself a long overdue place on the ol' blogroll there, and that's a pretty critical oversight on my part for not including his blog long ago.

Regardless, it's still a pretty epic smackdown on Buchanan there.

Orly? Ya Rly! Part 5

With her love life in tatters, the Queen of Birthers makes the call we've all been waiting for:
What is the real intention of this Kenyan, Indonesian communist usurper? Is it to provide security for us or to destroy our security? Judge for yourself.

Seeing targeted destruction of our economy, our security, dissipation of American jobs, massive corruption in the Government, Congress Department of Justice and Judiciary, it might be time to start rallies and protests using our second amendment right to bare arms and organise in militias.
And there we are, citizen militias to rise up against Obama.  It all comes back to Tim McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph for these guys in the end.  Tim at Balloon Juice adds:
Orly needs to come up with something new and outrageouser just to keep up. Once your camp basically agrees that expanding health insurance coverage is literally worse than Hitler, where do you go? Even in America there are some things that you can’t quite say out loud. Did team teabag paint itself in a corner? Will a few overenthusiastic martyrs to the few speech laws we do have prove good for the cause? We should find out in a month or two.
It's going to be mighty ugly when it happens, too.  There are, quite frankly, people out there who are going to think that this is a great idea...hell there are already people out there in the militia movement today.  If the Teabaggers go down this road (and I always believed it would be inevitable that they would) then the reaction from the center of the political spectrum is key.  We know the Right will be lost to this, but the center still decides elections.  If they recoil in horror, the Teabaggers may have finally crossed the Rubicon here.

But man, it scares the crap out of me to think that the only thing keeping America together is counting on the people in the middle to think that the Birthers have gone too far down the Obama Derangement Syndrome path.  Ours is not a healthy country.

You've Got A Hold On Me

Steve Benen notes this morning that it's not just the filibuster that allows the minority to control the majority in the Senate, it's the art of the hold too.
That would be mind-numbing enough if it were an isolated incident, but inane Senate holds on qualified nominees have become painfully routine. The General Services Administration has been without an administrator because Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) blocked the president's nominee -- he wanted more funding for a federal office building in downtown Kansas City. The president's nominee for the U.S. ambassador to Spain faced a hold because Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wanted more information about the dismissal of AmeriCorps' inspector general.

The nominee to head the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission faces a hold. Judicial nominees have been subjected to holds for no apparent reason. Dawn Johnsen was nominated to head the Office of Legal Counsel, but she's spent nine months in procedural limbo. Patricia Smith is prepared to be the Department of Labor's Solicitor, responsible for enforcing workplace protections, but there's a hold on her, too.

There isn't even anyone in charge of the TSA right now, because of another Republican hold. (More on that later.)

Put simply, the failed and discredited Republican minority is effectively breaking the United States Senate.
It bears repeating that this has been the GOP plan in action now for only a year and it has been executed beautifully.  The Republicans are betting that by putting holds on executive branch agency heads and stalling nominations and legislation through the filibuster, they either force the Dems to look like One World Order fascists who are trying to rob the Republicans of their Constitutional rights, or they have to accept the permanent sabotage of the government by the GOP and the Dems get to take the blame for it, after all, they're in charge, right?  

Either way the Democrats and the government itself become the enemy, and the Republicans cash in.  "You know, when Republicans ran things, government worked."  And by "worked", I mean "worked over the average American to the point where the Republicans were thrown out of office en masse."  But the electorate has a short memory...especially if the Village tells them what to have a short memory about.  "You're miserable today, right?  Who's in charge of America today?  There's your problem, obviously.  How is this Bush's fault?"

It's gotten so bad that frustrated progressives are attacking Obama for not fighting hard enough on beating these holds.  What's Obama going to do, exactly?  There really isn't much he can do when there's zero reason for the GOP to play ball and every reason to continue to sabotage the Obama administration.  What, pray tell, should Obama do?  Complain about broken government when he's the President?

And even the phrase "broken government" implies neglect or accident or incompetence.  What we have here in the Senate GOP is sabotaged government.  There's a difference.  It's being done on purpose for political gain and it's being done professionally.  As a matter of fact, Obama's state of the union address needs to do just that:  call the GOP out on the carpet and say "Look you assholes, you're destroying this country for political gain."

If Dems don't call the GOP on this, they will be out in the wilderness for another 14 years while Bachmanniac, Sarah Palin and Jim DeMint finish this country off.  Calling out the GOP entails some risk.  Continuing to allow the GOP to sabotage the government is a 100% failure proposition for Obama and the Dems.  They have no choice.

What Digby Said

Today's episode of What Digby Said involves profiling Middle-Eastern Muslim men on flights.(emphasis mine:)
If you add in Africans (as you must by this logic) that's about half of the global population right there. But then how do we know that some guy named Bob isn't a Muslim? Or that some young woman named Samira isn't a terrorist? It gets really complicated. The only profiling that will really work is to not let anyone in the US at all and to require all US citizens to wear designations on their clothes to indicate which religion they are. Anything short of that just won't get the job done.

Alternatively, we could invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

Short of that, I would guess we're going to have to continue to do the delicate balancing act between security and civil liberties and sharpen up the huge unwieldy anti-terrorist bureaucracy. As someone who was once lauded as a super-hero terrorist fighter always said, "it's hard work."
Once you go down the profiling road, you become obligated to use it against everyone. You have to take it to its absurdist endpoint, because the logic is absurd.

All's Fair In Love And Birther Nonsense

Dave Weigel watches the stabilizers come off the Orly Taitz Satellite O' Love...
The word for this is “strange.” For much of 2009, a disbarred attorney named Charles Lincoln played key roles in Orly Taitz’s multiple “birther” lawsuits against President Obama. Lincoln claimed to be a “law clerk” for Taitz, and he showed up again and again to file documents or assist her in court.

Last week, Lincoln went on his personal blog and filed a lengthy, emotional post confessing that he had fallen in love with Taitz — who is married — and been used by a “disloyal and treacherous person.”
By mid-October, when we were in New York together and Lucas Smith published his “declaration”, I had wrapped my life around Orly’s and I guess I honestly believed she had wrapped hers around mine and she said over and over again how much she was committed to me and how she never wanted us to separate. Three weeks later she had abandoned me, and yet some people have the nerve to call ME mentally unstable!  I am honest about where I come from. Orly is not. Orly used her words and promises to induce me as long as she wanted and then she dumped me with no regard to her promises whatsoever.
And it gets worse from there, if you can imagine.  The Queen of Birthers is also the Queen of Breaking Hearts.  Who knew?


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