Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last Call

Seems El Rushbo is in a hospital in Honolulu with chest pains.

The guy's a scumbag, but I don't wish ill health upon anyone. I do bet however the man has a pretty good health care plan, a lot better one than most of his listeners...and critics...ever will.

Maybe the guy will change for the better as a result.

FOX News Fails At Spelling, Too

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Apparently the acceptable alternate spelling of Yemen is "I-R-A-N".

Thanks FOX News!

Alright Jimbo, I'll Take That Bet

Jim Pethokoukis is betting the GOP will pick up 41 plus seats and take back the House.
As political forecaster Charlie Cook has noted, what happens in the House depends a lot on there being more Democrat retirements in competitive seats. The GOP needs a 40-seat pickup. The more Dem members that stick, the less likely a changeover. If the numbers start going north of 12-15, a warning signal should sound for Democrats. (In 1994, Democrat departures created 31 open seats, 22 of which were won by the GOP.)  For now, Cook sees a possible 20-30 seat pickup in the House for the GOP and four to six in the Senate. (Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln and Chris Dodd look especially vulnerable). But Cook may be underestimating how the dreadful New Normal in the economy will create a New Normal in politics in 2010.
I'm betting the Teabaggery in 2010 will so alienate the center that the Dems will hold both chambers easily.

We'll see who's right.  Into the future files you go!

Red Ink In The Bluegrass State

It's not just California facing a 2010 budget disaster.  As Yellow Dog reminds us, Kentucky's budget is shaping up to be nearly as bad from a percentage standpoint:  A $1.5 billion dollar hole over the next two years when the state's annual budget is just $9 billion.  For just FY 2010, it's an $890 million shortfall...ten percent of the state's budget.  The Dog's advice:
But so far no one is facing the stark truth: spending cuts won't close this giant pit of no revenue. Not unless you want to shut down prisons, hospitals and schools.

Raising taxes on things most voters won't mind, like cigarettes and liquor, won't avoid this crisis, unless you want to tax both of those manufacturers right out of business.

Nothing less than radical, burn-it-to-the-ground-and-start-from-scratch reform of the tax system is going to fix this.
Agreed.  Any system that allowed a shortfall this bad is broken fundamentally.  And keep in mind there are plenty of other states out there facing situations as bad or worse in 2010:
A new report from the Pew Center on the States warns of “fiscal peril” in 10 states which, if unaddressed, will hamper the nation’s economic recovery:
These states’ budget troubles can have dramatic consequences for their residents: higher taxes, layoffs or furloughs of state workers, longer waits for public services, more crowded classrooms, higher college tuition and less support for the poor or unemployed. But they also pose challenges for the country as a whole. The 10 states account for more than a third of America’s population and economic output. And actions taken by state governments to balance their budgets — such as tax increases and drastic spending cuts — can slow down the nation’s economic recovery.
Those states, if you're wondering, are California, Arizona, Rhode Island, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Oregon, Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois.

Might as well add Kentucky to that list, too.  2010 is shaping up to be the second half of this economic disaster double feature.

Epic A Pair Of Big Ones Win

Finally, the Dems have achieved testicular fortitude on the Underwear Bomber issue.
As GOPers begin increasingly using the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner to score political points, 2 Dems are blaming the Bush admin for events that led directly to the failed attack.

While many Dems stay silent and let the WH lead the way, DCCC chair Chris Van Hollen and Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY) say the previous admin let down their guard.

"In general, we are facing the consequences of the Bush administration's failures to deal with al Qaeda," Van Hollen told Hotline OnCall. "The Republicans have no business in pointing fingers at the Obama administration on terrorism and national security."

"The Obama administration has been much more aggressive about going after al Qaeda than the Bush administration, which turned its focus from al Qaeda to Iraq," he added. The Obama admin has "been on the offense in places where the Bush administration had taken its eye off the ball."

Meanwhile, Massa has taken on ex-VP Dick Cheney, who he says is directly responsible for releasing the top al Qaeda figures in Yemen who aided and trained the Nigerian-born suspect.

"I would remind the American public that the apparent leaders of the al Qaeda cell in Yemen were 2 terrorists who were released by Vice President Cheney in secret. I think there's a level of accountability that has to be levied personally on the vice president," Massa said in an interview. "He is personally responsible for that."
Hell yes. Now that is what I'm talking about.

And the truth shall set you free!


The Stupid Zandar Is Versus

Daily Telegraph's Toby Harnden:
Barack Obama Gets 'An F' For Protecting Americans

There is no more solemn duty for an American commander-in-chief than the marshalling of  “all elements of American power” – the phrase Obama himself used on Monday – to protect the people of the United States. In that key respect, Obama failed on Christmas Day, just as President George W. Bush failed on September 11th (though he succeeded in the seven years after that).
Hey Toby?  When Bush "failed", 3,000 people died.  When Obama "failed" a Nigerian man's underwear was set on fire.

Meet the Village, London Auxiliary.

The Return Of The Joker

Time's Joke Line Joe Klein is back, baby!
In the snarkier precincts of the left-wing blogosphere, mainstream journalists like me are often called villagers. The reference, so far as I can tell, has to do with isolation: we live in this little village on the Potomac — actually, I don't, but no matter — constantly intermingling over hors d'oeuvres, deciding who is "serious" (a term of derision in the blogosphere) and who is not, regurgitating spin spoon-fed by our sources or conjuring a witless conventional wisdom that has nothing to do with reality as it is lived outside the village. There is, of course, some truth to this. Washington is insular; certain local shamans are celebrated beyond all logic; some of my columnar colleagues have lost touch with everything beyond their armchairs and egos.

But there is a great irony here: villagery is a trope more applicable to those making the accusation than to those being snarked upon. The left-wing blogosphere, at its worst, is a claustrophobic hamlet of the well educated, less interested in meaningful debate than the "village" it mocks. (At its best, it is a source of clever and well-informed anti-Establishment commentary.) Indeed, it resembles nothing so much as that other, more populous hamlet, the right-wing Fox News and Limbaugh slum. Hilariously, as we stagger from one awful decade into the next, there has been a coagulation of these extremes — a united front against the turgid ceremonies of legislative democracy, like compromise, and disdain for the politician most responsible for nudging our snarled checks and balances toward action, Barack Obama. The issue that has brought them together is opposition to the Senate's health care–reform bill, which makes some sense on the right, but none at all on the left.
"Well yes, I am a Villager.  The Village exists, and you guys are right about us.  But Jane Hamsher means I'm better than you now.  High fives all around!"

My god, it's like they saved up the worst columns of the year just to keep guys like me from being able to write "Worst Village Idiocy of 2009" posts on December 27th.

Going All In While Going Over The Edge

Newt Gingrich pushes all of his credibility chips (all one of them) into the national security argument pot while holding an off-suit 2-7 level screed over at Human Events.
Over eight years after 9/11 and 30 years after the Iranian illegal seizure of the United States embassy and the 444 day Iranian hostage crisis, Washington is still avoiding being intellectually honest about the war we are in.
A war where men in funny underwear terrify Newt to the point of pissing his own funny underwear, apparently.
The scale, persistence and sophistication of the enemy requires an honesty, a clarity, and a scale appropriate to the response.
We need more people in funny underwear in Tehran's airport.
Today, because our elites fear politically incorrect honesty, they believe that it is better to harass the innocent, delay the harmless, and risk the lives of every American than to do the obvious, the effective, and the necessary.
Because as we all know, the real way to avoid harassing the innocent is to simply declare all Muslims in the country as guilty.

(More snark after the jump...)

Quote Of The Week

Media Matters' Jameson Foser:
I have no idea what Maureen Dowd is talking about.
Nobody does, bro.  Nobody does.  And MoDo The Red goes completely off the charts this week, we're talking "Patsy from AbFab" bender here.
America seemed to have lost her ingenuity, her quickness, her man-on-the-moon bravura, her Bugs Bunny panache.
And it gets worse.  The trainwreckiness is delectable, like Milano cookies soaked in brandy.

Brandy from hell.

Eat The Public

Yggy finally starts circling around the conclusion I've had for a while now about the GOP efforts to repeal health care:  they may not be able to repeal it, but they CAN make sure it is implemented so badly that the public demands they effectively kill it if they get back into power.
Maybe. It should be said, though, that there’s really no precedent for a GOP president taking the ax to a major program. Small, highly targeted programs like Section 8 housing vouchers or legal services for the indigent get the axe when Republicans run things. But cutting spending has not normally been an important priority. Cutting taxes, busting unions, gutting enforcement of various regulations, hiking spending on baroque missile defense schemes, that’s what conservative governance is all about.

The only reason you would try to seriously pare back subsidies is if you felt that increasing budget deficits were a bad thing. But conservatives don’t think deficits are a problem so there’s really nothing here.
But from a political standpoint, making the program implemented in such an odious manner as to be far worse than the status quo and then blaming the Democrats will work if the GOP gets back into power.  Now, whether or not they can get back into power remains to be seen.

Merry Bankermas And A Bailout New Year

Bloomberg's David Reilly takes a look at Barney Frank's House financial reform bill, and determines that the banks should be gleefully rushing to make sure it gets passed. (emphasis mine):
Here are some of the nuggets I gleaned from days spent reading Frank’s handiwork:

-- For all its heft, the bill doesn’t once mention the words “too-big-to-fail,” the main issue confronting the financial system. Admitting you have a problem, as any 12- stepper knows, is the crucial first step toward recovery.

-- Instead, it supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for “no-more-bailouts” talk. That is more than twice what the Fed pumped into markets this time around. The size of the fund makes the bribes in the Senate’s health-care bill look minuscule.

-- Oh, hold on, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary can’t authorize these funds unless “there is at least a 99 percent likelihood that all funds and interest will be paid back.” Too bad the same models used to foresee the housing meltdown probably will be used to predict this likelihood as well.
Hooray!  The next bailout will be twice as much!

And of course there will be a "the next bailout".  You're paying for it.  That's being arranged ahead of time.  This is the lesson Congress has taken away from the bailouts:  they need to have legislation in place ahead of time to give the banks trillions.

The Napolitano Mambo Italiano

Somebody please tell Sully that while I said I could see the argument for firing Janet Napolitano, if we really wanted to hold people accountable, we'd be A) firing GOP Sen. Jim DeMint for blocking the TSA from even having an accountable department head and B) firing Bush again for setting up the TSA in the first place, and C) we'd fire ourselves for being idiotic about the fact the odds of a terror attack on an airline are a fraction of being hit by lightning.

Also, John Cole speaks truth.
Accountable for what? What did she do wrong? Napolitano didn’t change any procedures which then led to the bomber getting through security. She didn’t shift the DHS budget in a way that impacted security. She didn’t botch the response. And her statement is factually correct, and only wrong if you completely distort what she said?

Is Sullivan operating with a different definition of accountable than I am? Because his definition of “accountable” looks a helluva lot like my definition of “scapegoat.” He wants her fired not for her job performance, but for giving Republicans (with yet another assist from the liberal media) a sound bite that is easy to demagogue. That is not how adults operate.
Adults?  Where are the adults?  There are no adults here.

Jesus wept.

[UPDATE 11:23 AMJohn Cole is on a roll today, calling Newtie's tweet a good hour before he complains about Obama's "witch hunt" in our intel agencies.

What Bob Cesca Said

On the underpants gnomes (emphasis mine):
The wingnut freakout over the president's response to the Underpants Bomber is proof that the far-right is only interested in a childish game of paybacks. They're simply taking criticisms of Bush and using them to attack President Obama, regardless of whether there's any real similarity (there isn't).

We ripped Bush's response to Katrina, so they're ripping President Obama's response to the failed Underpants Bomber. Of course this begs the comparison -- Katrina? Underpants Bomber? Similar, right?
This is all about, "See how you like it, liberals! NAA-NAA!"

Furthermore, at this point there should be no doubt that if there's ever a successful terrorist attack that the Republicans will call for the impeachment of President Obama. Or that they would have if Gore was president on 9/11.

Don't forget that after the successful terrorist attacks of 9/11, Bush's approval ratings shot up to 90 percent. The Underpants Bomber was a total fail, and, reading the wingnut blogs and Twitters, you'd think President Obama put him up to it. But the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil was a major win for Bush. How does that work?
Hell, I got five bucks says they call for his impeachment on general principle for not being a Republican.

In all seriousness, if the GOP wins control of the House while Obama is President, there will be impeachment proceedings.  You can absolutely guarantee it, because the Teabaggers will demand it.  You think they're going to say no?

That's why I find this whole backlash on the Left thing against Obama to be mystifying from a political standpoint.  The Quest For Purity is going to put us right back into impeachment hell again if we're not careful.  Your choices are the insanely evil GOP, or the somewhat shifty Democrats.

In the grand scheme of things, the Dems are at least sane.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

You have to ask yourself why our "liberal media" is running a story on a President with a 90% plus approval rating among African-Americans where the central tenet of the story is this:
But when asked how they personally feel about Obama's presidency, only 42 percent of black respondents say they're thrilled, with nearly half of those questioned saying they are happy but not thrilled.

The 42 percent who are thrilled is down from 61 percent in January, when Obama was inaugurated.

"African-Americans are still big fans of the first black president in U.S. history, but the thrill is gone," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
Really.  The thrill is gone.  Not even 90% plus is good enough if you're Obama.  His approval ratings are slipping!  Even black people are starting to turn on him!

You realize what CNN's done here...substitute "thrilled" with "strongly approve" and you have a Rasmussen presidential daily tracking poll.  Obama's numbers among blacks down 19 points since January!

Honestly.  I weep for this country.

I Need Your Boots, Your Clothes, Your Motorcycle And Eight Billion Dollars

Via Atrios, Ahnold says he needs $8 billion in stimulus cash from the Feds or he's going all Terminator on the state's social programs.
Facing a budget deficit of more than $20 billion, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to call for deep reductions in already suffering local mass transit programs, renew his push to expand oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast and appeal to Washington for billions of dollars in federal help, according to state officials and lobbyists familiar with the plan.

If Washington does not provide roughly $8 billion in new aid for the state, the governor threatens to severely cut back -- if not eliminate -- CalWORKS, the state's main welfare program; the In-Home Health Care Services program for the disabled and elderly poor, and two tax breaks for large corporations recently approved by the Legislature, the officials said.

Schwarzenegger also will propose extending a cut in the state payroll that is scheduled to expire this summer. That cut has translated into 200,000 state workers being furloughed three days a month, the equivalent of a 14% pay cut. Lawmakers would have the option of extending the furloughs, imposing layoffs or some combination of the two.

The governor is scheduled to unveil his plan publicly early next month. Administration spokesman Matt David declined to comment on the details.
That's because the details apparently involve Ahnold extorting $8 billion out of Obama in a state where it is quite literally impossible to ever raise taxes to pay for things that are broken.  And remember, it's the goal of Republicans to functionally destroy government so that it can never work, and make the people hate it for all time...thus paving the way for the private sector to profit off public utilities.

Funny how that works, eh?  Starve government until it can't work, then blame it for the shortcomings designed into the system.  Currently 1/7th of America lives under that system.  The other 6/7ths of us are due if the GOP has its way.

The Thing From The Bunker Returns

You knew Dick Cheney was eventually going to open his mouth on last week's attack and say something wildly disgraceful and stupid.  He did not disappoint this morning, and Steve Benen is equally merciless in shutting the Dick down.
It was only a matter of time before Dick Cheney decided to trash the president again.
"As I've watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won't be at war."
Let's review a few pesky details. First, it was Cheney's administration that released some of the alleged terrorists who plotted the attack into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" in Saudi Arabia, only to see them become terrorist leaders in Yemen. It was also Cheney's administration that gave Abdulmutallab a visa to enter the United States in the first place.

Second, let's compare some "low-key responses." President Obama addressed a failed terrorist attack three days after it occurred. Eight years ago, when a terrorist tried to blow up an airplane under nearly identical circumstances, then-President Bush waited six days before making brief, cursory public remarks. Five days after the attempted terrorist attack, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused substantive comment altogether, telling reporters, "That's a matter that's in the hands of the law enforcement people." A White House spokesperson would only say at the time that officials were "continuing to monitor events."

Democrats, at the time, didn't launch an assault against the Bush administration, and we didn't see Al Gore condemning the White House. It simply didn't occur to Democrats in 2001 to use the attempted mass murder of hundreds of Americans to undermine the presidency.

Eight years later, Dick Cheney believes his principal responsibility is to destroy President Obama -- the man Americans chose to clean up the messes Cheney left as a parting gift after eight years of abject failure.
It's gotten to the point where Cheney is a national embarrassment.  I can't honestly think of any single person with less credibility on American national security right now than Cheney, and that includes Bush, who has wisely kept his mouth shut.  Every time Cheney criticizes Obama, he does so with eight years of buffoonery hanging around his neck.  Any American's response to this nonsense needs to be that of Benen's:  your failures in office made this attack possible, so you have no leg to stand on.

Cheney needs to be dismissed out of hand.  The White House's continuing policy of ignoring the old douchebag is the right one.

He is irrelevant.

Obama Derangement Syndrome, Explosive Clothing Edition

Politico's Dan Gerstein points out Obama is getting crap-hammered by angry Republicans for last week's failed airliner attack...but eight years ago, Democrats were much more supportive of Bush after shoe-bomber Richard Reid's failed attack.
Eight years ago, a terrorist bomber’s attempt to blow up a transatlantic airliner was thwarted by a group of passengers, an incident that revealed some gaping holes in airline security just a few months after the attacks of Sept. 11. But it was six days before President George W. Bush, then on vacation, made any public remarks about the so-called “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid, and there were virtually no complaints from the press or any opposition Democrats that his response was sluggish or inadequate.

That stands in sharp contrast to the withering criticism President Barack Obama has received from Republicans and some in the press for his reaction to Friday’s incident on a Northwest Airlines flight heading for Detroit.

Democrats have seized on the disparity and are making it a centerpiece of their efforts to counter GOP attacks on the White House. “This hypocrisy demonstrates Republicans are playing politics with issues of national security and terrorism,” DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said. “That they would use this incident as an opportunity to fan partisan flames…tells you all you need to know about how far the Republican party has fallen and how out of step with the American people they have become.”

The Democrats’ counterattack is aimed largely at two Republican congressmen who have been particularly critical of Obama, Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-N.Y.) and Peter King (R-N.Y.). But neither GOP lawmaker will concede applying a double standard to Obama.

Possible Bug-Out In Tehran

Developing news out of Iran today, Radio Netherlands is reporting that Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has an escape plan to Russia should things continue to go south for the regime.
The media organization reports that the Supreme National Security Council ordered a check-up Sunday of the jet on standby to evacuate Khamenei and his family should the need arise.

If Khamenei does depart the country, it would be reminiscent of an historic event in Iranian history: Jan. 16, 1979, when the Iranian Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi fled Iran following an increase in violent protests. The anniversary of that event is coming up soon.

The plane check is already being viewed by some as an indication that Khamenei will in fact leave Iran, as protests continue.
I'm rather skeptical about this one.  A bug-out plan that's public knowledge is worse than not having one at all.  Nobody does this, the odds of the Iranian resistance having somebody that high up the food chain to provide such a document is pretty much nil.

But it makes for great propaganda though, doesn't it?  Gives the people hope.  Maybe it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but I doubt it.  We'll see.


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