Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last Call

Via the Rumpies, it seems Moose Lady thinks she's now qualified to weigh in on national security issues, when frankly the only thing she's qualified on commenting on politically is getting wingnut welfare after quitting her job in the middle of her term.
President Obama was right to change his policy and decide to send no more detainees to Yemen where they can be free to rejoin their war on America. Now he must back off his reckless plan to close Guantanamo, begin treating terrorists as wartime enemies not suspects alleged to have committed crimes, and recognize that the real nature of the terrorist threat requires a commander-in-chief, not a constitutional law professor.
It would behoove the good Ms. Palin to remember she's merely an unemployed governor who as chief executive state and quit her position because she couldn't hack it...unlike millions of Americans out there busting their asses to make ends meet, who get up, go to their jobs, and pay their bills.

Honestly.  The woman has even less shame than she does qualifications or credibility.

Byron Dorgan's Out

The 30-year Senator from North Dakota is not running for a sixth term after all.
This decision does not relate to any dissatisfaction that I have about serving in the Senate. Yes, I wish there was less rancor and more bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate these days. But still, it is a great privilege to serve and I have the utmost respect for all of the men and women with whom I serve. . . And although he inherited an economy in serious trouble, I remain confident that President Obama is making the right decisions to put our country back on track. Further, my decision has no relationship to the prospect of a difficult election contest this year. Frankly, I think if I had decided to run for another term in the Senate I would be reelected.
Moot point if you're leaving, Byron.  Still, the guy had a good run and he was one of the better Dems in the Senate.

But the GOP is salivating here, especially popular Republican Gov. John Hoeven.  Hate to say it, but it's looking like a pickup for the Republicans here.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Col. Mustard pleads his case before the court of the Firebaggers in an effort to try to get Republican Scott Brown elected to Ted Kennedy's seat in two weeks.  The goal:  Kill the Bill.
Scott Brown will vote against the Senate bill. Without 60 votes in the Senate, Harry Reid would have to go through monumental procedural gymnastics to get the bill passed, even with the secretive attempts to avoid a conference.

Martha Coakley will be the 60th vote for the destructive Senate bill you hate so much.

And Coakley is the type of Democrat about whom you complain so much, someone who promises progressives one thing to get your money and votes, then does another thing. Coakley promised during the Democratic primary that she would not vote for any bill which contained restrictions on abortion, netting her hundreds of thousands of dollars and votes from progressives. But after the primary, Coakley switched her position and now has joined Harry Reid and Ben Nelson.

I want the Senate bill killed for my reasons, and you for yours. Now is your chance to kill the bill by helping elect Scott Brown.

Are you with us on this, or not?
It's a valid question.  Is six years of Scott Brown a valid price to pay in order to kill the bill?  Would Harry Reid simply tell the House to eat the Senate bill as is, verbatim, and send it to Obama with no improvements?  Would it be worth it to basically give the Republicans the power to filibuster every single piece of legislation for the rest of the year?

This of course is the price Jane's new pals are asking of her, to toss the country under the bus on every other issue before Congress in 2010 to stop the bill she dislikes.  If she says yes, it's as good as slapping an (R) on FDL.  If she says no, well, "She was never serious about killing the bill, she's a hack."

And this is why useful idiots are useful.  You can put them in situations where they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.  Either way, you win.

Mustard 1, Firebaggers 0, no matter what Hamsher's response is.

Here endeth the lesson.

The Terror Hypocrisy

Steve Benen nails one out of the park taking out Neil Boortz and the Pretty Hate Machine.
Specifically, Boortz argued, "ObamaCare will do more damage than a successful terrorist bombing of an airliner ... and kill more people as well." [ellipses in the original]

Obviously, no sane person seriously believes this. But I can't help but notice how frequently far-right voices compare terrorism to other policy developments, and consider terrorism less dangerous.

Terrorism is bad, conservatives say, but Democrats are worse.

Terrorism is bad, conservatives say, but health care reform is worse.

Terrorism is bad, conservatives say, but unionized TSA employees are worse.

Terrorism is bad, conservatives say, but liberal federal judges are worse.

There seems to be a disconnect within the right-wing worldview. On the one hand, the standard conservative line insists that the threat posed by violent religious extremists, determined to kill Americans through acts of terrorism, is the existential threat facing the West in the 21st century. On the other hand, it's surprisingly common to hear conservatives suggest terrorism isn't as threatening as whatever issue has Republicans worked up on a given day.

It can't be both.

The right should make up its mind, because at this point, it seems as if far too many conservatives aren't taking U.S. efforts to combat terrorism seriously.
Nice.  Absolutely frackin' beautiful, even.  Terrorism has alwyas, always been a political football for the Republicans.  The reality is that we should be laughing at any Bush-era Republican who says they are strong on national security, because they failed us and the country before and on 9/11, it's that simple.  Bush was president, and Americans died because he ignored the intel.  Then he went and started wars to compound his failure.

Now Republicans somehow believe they have a better record than Obama on terrorism, which is laughable. Benen nails the GOP to the wall.

The Count Of Charlie Crist, Oh! Part 6

The Teabaggers has Hoffmaned another head in the hunt to purge all moderates from the Florida Senate primary and install Marco Rubio, and this time they've claimed Charlie Crist ally and state GOP chair Jim Greer.
On a conference call with reporters in a few minutes, Florida Republican Party Chair Jim Greer is expected to step down from the chairmanship Gov. Charlie Crist gave him in 2007. The move leaves Crist without one of his most important allies, and supporters of Marco Rubio with real hope they can defeat Crist in this year's primary.

It's hard to overstate the importance of this resignation to the national GOP landscape.

Florida is shaping up to be the epicenter of the intraparty GOP war in 2010, and the resignation of Greer suggests the battle is tilting toward the ultra-conservatives on the tea party side of the line. Ever since Crist entered the Senate race, Rubio backers have accused Greer of turning the state party into an arm of the Crist campaign. Crist and Greer are longtime political friends, and Greer made it clear from the get-go that he supported Crist over Rubio (he promised to run the party objectively, however.) Rubio backers began to attack him and call for his resignation. Now -- over Crist's objections -- they appear to have gotten their wish.
Why wouldn't the GOP chair honestly be supporting the incumbent Governor in a Senate run...especially one who appointed him to the position?  But the Teabaggers have Hoffmaned Greer right out of the party.  The problem is, Crist is still Governor.  This means whoever Crist appoints, the Rubio guys are going to attack, or demand that the state GOP stay out of the primary altogether.

Yeah, that'll motivate the Republican machine in the Sunshine State.  Support the teabagger whackjob or we bury you!

Crist is starting to get into real trouble here in Florida, and Kendrick Meek is wisely staying out of the mess.  The problem is Rubio's now winning against Meek, too.

The whole race therefore is moving to the right, really quickly.

The Ten Percent Solution

Robert Reich argues over at HuffPo that we've basically got zero chance of unemployment being any better than it is now by November.
But why would employment be 10 percent or above next November? Surely, you say, there are enough signs of recovery that we can count on a lower rate. Don't be so sure. Here are likely scenarios, with my probabilities:

Double-dip recession (10 percent likelihood). The commercial real estate market craters, carrying with it hundreds of regional banks and exposing how much junk is still on the books of major Wall Street banks. This triggers a long-awaited "correction" in the Dow and pushes the nation into another recession. Job losses rise. By November, the unemployment rate is back over 10 percent.

Stalled recovery (20 percent). Fearing inflation and overly confident of the strength of the recovery, the Fed stops buying up debt instruments and starts raising rates. These acts choke off the recovery. Unemployment remains at 10 percent.

Jobless recovery (40 percent). The stimulus remains in full force, the Fed keeps interest rates low, firms replace inventories and expand production. But with the average workweek hovering around 33 hours, employers don't add new jobs; they just have current workers put in more hours. Result: No drop in unemployment.

Solid recovery (20 percent). Demand surges, employers decide to expand capacity. But they don't add American jobs. Now that foreign workers have access to much of the same equipment and can be linked up to the U.S. so cheaply through the Internet, employers outsource abroad. Result: No drop in unemployment.

Strong recovery (10 percent). The recovery is strong enough for employers to start hiring American workers. Many jobless Americans who have been too discouraged to look for work to begin looking again. But because the BLS household survey (on which the official level of unemployment is based) depends on how many Americans are looking for work, the paradoxical result is for unemployment to remain in double digits.

In other words, I think the chances of unemployment being 10 percent next November are overwhelmingly high. But although voters are acutely sensitive to the rate of unemployment, they're also influenced by the direction employment is heading. If it looks like jobs are coming back, they may forgive a high absolute level of unemployment -- even one as high as 10 percent. But if it looks like jobs aren't coming back, that we may be stuck with a high level of joblessness for years, voters will take out even more of their anxieties on Democrats next November.

The irony, of course, is that Republicans want to cut spending and reduce the deficit. If they had their way, we'd have double-digit unemployment as far as the eye can see.
Of course, Obama will get blamed for it.  Now, I will quibble about Reich's percentages a bit (I think the real odds of a double dip recession are far higher than 10 percent) and the strong recovery scenario is basically 1%, not 10%, but the ten percent unemployment scenarios are all very very valid.  There's basically no way where unemployment will get better by November, and a pretty fair chance in my estimation that it will be worse by then.

And that's going to hurt the Dems some in 2010.

Picking Another Fight Before The First One's Finished

Steve M. wisely points out that going after immigration reform right now on top of health care reform will only give the Teabaggers more ammunition to spread their special brand of hate.
Really? That's going to defuse controversy? That's going to make rabid immigrant-bashers happy? "Those people we hate who shouldn't get health care because they're illegal? They're not going to be illegal anymore, so they're going to get health care! We feel so much better now!"

Yes, yes, I know what the conventional wisdom is: that hardcore opposition to immigration reform is the cause of a very small group of disgruntled right-wing throwbacks. They may have scuttled the Bush administration's attempts to get an immigration bill, but their electoral clout is actually minimal -- a pro-immigration-reform candidate won the GOP presidential nomination, for heaven's sake, and Tom Tancredo's presidential bid tanked.

I don't buy that. The midterms are going to be low-turnout -- and this is even more motivation for the already extraordinarily motivated voters who are now threatening GOP vengeance at the polls. It's not going to sit well with Hillary Clinton beer-and-a-shot Democrats, either, especially in a recession.
And he's got a point.  Let's face it, 90% of the opposition to health care reform is "we're giving stuff to brown people while I'm still unemployed, f'ck that."   Actually doing that will not make the teabaggers any less baggy.

However, I will point out that you can't really solve the jobs issue without immigration reform of some kind down the road at some point.  But Steve's right:  jobs and the economy (and to 95% of America, they are the same issue) are where the Dems need to concentrate on.

Crotch Bombers And Laser Jeeps

An interesting piece by Bob Cesca this morning:
Last night, Keith, Richard Wolffe and Arianna Huffington discussed the possibility that the failure to communicate details of the Underpants Bomber before it happened might have been intentional.

In other words, did one or more operatives in the intelligence community deliberately withhold information in order to, I don't know, sabotage the Obama presidency? Foment an escalation in Yemen?
And by "interesting" I mean "completely full of crap".  It's one thing to play the Obama Derangement Syndrome Card if you're the Republicans who stand to gain from Obama losing, but the Intel community gains nothing from doing this.  There's no upside in sandbagging Obama here when the opposition is complaining that government is incompetent and partisan as it is.

Meanwhile, speaking of weapons the terrorists might want, Yggy ponders the Laser Avenger:
Aaron Rowe at the Danger Room writes about Boeing’s Laser Avenger, “a cannon that could be used to take down incoming aircraft.” It seems that Boeing was able to use this device to blow a UAV out of the air with a fairly low-powered laser while Northrup Grumman is working on an even more powerful laser.

This all sort of leaves me wondering what problem this technology is a solution to. For the past twenty years every conflict the U.S. military has been involved with has involved overwhelming American air superiority. Finding better ways to shoot down enemy aircraft hasn’t been high on the priority list. But by the same token, the very dominance of American air power means that this would be very useful for America’s adversaries. Nobody we’re realistically going to fight could possibly build up a squadron of fighters to go toe-to-toe with the Air Force, but plane-killing lasers could be very useful. Obviously Boeing isn’t working on this technology in hopes of selling it to the Taliban, but my sense is that we should be hoping that we see relatively little progress on this sort of thing in years to come.
Whaddya mean "what this technology is a solution to?"  It's a solution to the bad guys getting Predator drones.  Jesus, you want to talk about an ace weapon for a terrorist...a remote controlled guided bomb with real time intel?  If I'm AQ, I want some of these guys flying right over the Green Zone in Baghdad.

We basically invented the UAV.  Now we've invented the weapon to stop it from being used against us.  If you're a defense contractor, it pays to make both, dig?

Teabaggers Prepare To Strike Out

The Teabaggers are organizing a national day of strike to protest the Washington money machine. The irony is lost on them, of course, since they are run by Dick Armey's FreedomWorks lobbying group.
Some Tea Party activists from across the country are planning a 'national strike' on January 20, the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama's inauguration.

The idea of holding an economic protest sprung up during the holidays as the result of a conference call held by various Tea Party group leaders, according to Allen Hardage, a conservative grassroots organizer from Georgia.

"Tea Party activists are frustrated that despite a huge turnout over the last year Congress is ignoring them," says Hardage, who is national operations director for the planned strike. "The question is that if the elected officials ignore you, what do you do to exercises your right to self-governance? So we decided to hold a National Day of Strike where we go after the large donors of the people pushing this radical agenda."
Yes, I'm sure irony is dead.  Completely dead.  Only one problem...the rest of the Baggies seem...less than eager for this one.
CNN reached out to a number of national Tea Party organizations. While some were aware of the planned strike and some not informed, none said they were going to actively take part in the event.
Of course not.  Teabaggers have to work for a living, son. Who's brilliant idea was to go on strike, anyway?

[UPDATE 9:54 AMBobo argues that the Tea Party movement will define the Teens, for good or for bad...especially if there's a double dip recession or a terrorist attack.

I hate to agree with the man ever, but he's right.  These idiots aren't going anywhere anytime soon.  They are the New Know-Nothing party.

Scott Brown's Magic Number

The Wingers are eagerly awaiting Rasmussen's poll today on the MA Senate race between Republican Scott Brown and Democratic candidate Martha Coakley.  Word is the poll will be around a 10% lead for Coakley.  Republicans argue that Coakley should have a 20%+ lead by now in a solid blue state for ted Kennedy's seat.

The Teabaggers really want to see Brown win, so that he can block 25 million people from getting health insurance.  No really, that's the plan.  Sadly for the America loving Teabaggers (America to them being non-poor, non-brown, non-Democrats) Nate Silver reminds us that Brown doesn't have a serious chance in hell.
Now, maybe the Republican enthusiasm advantage is a little bit larger than what WNEC shows. But I'm suspicious of comparisons with, for instance, Virginia; the reason the turnout swung so much there is partly because Virginia has a lot of swing voters. The turnout demographics didn't change all that much in New Jersey, on the other hand; Jon Corzine lost there because he was a crappy governor. And if New Jersey is less swingy than Virginia, Massachusetts is way less swingy than New Jersey. Also, turnout was pretty decent in the special primary, with 664,195 people voting in the Democratic race versus 162,706 in the Republican one, although the Democratic race was considerably more competitive.

But the basic problem for Brown is -- what happens if Rasmussen or whomever shows the race close and the national parties start throwing some money into the contest? Then you have Democrats playing the Teddy Card and Republicans nationalizing the race and talking about killing a bill that Kennedy fought his whole life for; that's not a winning formula in Massachusetts.

Or to put it another way: if perception has swung so much against the Democrats that they can't win a referendum on Teddy Kennedy's health care bill in Massachusetts, perhaps Brown would be doing them a favor by killing the thing.

Edit/PS. I tend to agree with the Republican bloggers to this extent -- there's more upside than downside in contesting the race, particularly if one acknowledges that the upside consists mostly of making the race close enough to win the GOP a couple of news cycles. But it's a tricky course to navigate because, unless I'm way misreading the landscape, the teabagger message won't play well there. In other words, Brown could use Michael Steele's money, but almost certainly not his message.

Remember, this is Massachusetts, not Utah.  If the teabaggers invade Bah-ston Hah-bah, then they're going to get stomped.  The last thing Brown needs...or wants...is a national Teabagger rally in his name.  But hey...I say the teabaggers need to go for it.  Go all the way.  Make this "Massachusetts gets to decide if Obamacare passes or not".

Please.  So the GOP strategy is Brown has to sneak in to win, he has to be close enough to be within striking distance and motivate Republicans in the Bay State, but not close enough to worry the Democratic machine there.
Scott Brown's looking for a magic number.  Good luck on that.

Cause And Defect

With 2010 now here, you'd think Bachmanniac would be out there taking swings at her favorite government pinata, the Census.  She's railed against it and asked people not to participate (which is technically illegal).

But as TPM reports, Shelly's been rather silent as of late on the Census.  And the reality is if Minnesota does lost a Congressional seat in 2010...it's Shelly's on the block as Eric Kleefield explains.
The really fun fact, as I've learned from Minnesota experts, is that Bachmann's district would likely be the first to go if the state lost a seat. The other seats are all fairly regular-shaped, logical districts built around identifiable regions of the state (Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Iron Range, and so on). Bachmann's district is made of what's left over after such a process, twisting and turning from a small strip of the Wisconsin border and curving deep into the middle of the state. As such, the obvious course of action if the state loses a seat is to split her district up among its neighbors.
And lo and behold...she's stopped hating the Census.  Amazing how that works.


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