Thursday, January 7, 2010

Last Call

Via Bob Cesca, it's Glennsanity just losing it again.
Today on his radio show, Glenn Beck wanted to discuss the census. “Apparently the census has come out,” he said. Beck’s co-host then chimed in, “Yeah and there’s a little confusion because there’s three boxes you can check if you’re a certain race. … I don’t know what the race is because there’s three different terms for them. Black, African-American, or Negro.” Instead of having any consideration to take issue with the term “Negro,” Beck launched into a tirade against “African-American”:
BECK: African-American is a bogus, PC, made-up term. I mean, that’s not a race. Your ancestry is from Africa and now you live in America. Ok so you were brought over — either your family was brought over through the slave trade or you were born here and your family emigrated here or whatever but that is not a race.
Oh really.

(Rant alert after jump.)

Equality? Fagheddaboutit!

New Jersey's state Senate roundly defeated a same-sex marriage proposal today and with GOP Gov. Chris Christie taking office in two weeks and vowing to veto any such measure before him, it's going to be a long time before equality advocates get another shot.

As Steven Goldstein remarks at Blue Jersey however, the battle's nowhere near over.
In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court told the legislature it could enact marriage or another structure that provides the equal protection of marriage.  But the civil union law failed to do that.   Too often, civil union couples too often cannot visit loved ones in hospitals, make medical decisions for their partners or receive equal health benefits from employers.   Hospitals and employers have treated civil union couples differently because they've been labeled differently.   Children have been treated differently at school because their families are labeled differently.  

In recent months, including today and at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December, New Jersey legislators publicly recognized these failures.  They publicly acknowledged that the civil union law has not provided equal protection.  That's important.  New Jersey legislators themselves said it.  Our opponents in the legislature said it.

In other words, though we didn't achieve our final victory today, we're better positioned than we were a few months ago to win marriage equality.  So if you're wondering how we feel, it's complicated.   On the one hand, we resent, more than you can imagine, remaining second-class citizens a bit longer.  On the other hand, the ball has moved forward.  The public record for the courts is mighty, and we're closer than ever to winning.

In 2006, New Jersey enacted an experiment called civil union.  In 2010, New Jersey has a mountain of proof that the experiment has failed.

Needless to say, the measure's going back to court, as advocates will argue that the civil unions law has not met the court-mandated definition of equal protection.

Only a matter of time.

Winners And Losers In The Obamacare Game

An interesting breakdown of which states would stand to gain the most from health care reform...and which states would have the most to lose.
Here’s how our categorization of states works—we classified states as “High Benefit” if the percentage of uninsured is above the national average and as “Low Benefit” if the rate is less than the national average. We then classified states by whether they would be “High Cost”—the top half of the distribution—for each of the financing approaches.

As Exhibit 1 shows, the states most likely to “win” as a result of health care reform are Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah. All of these states have a relatively high number of uninsured and all are in the bottom half of states in terms of cost under both financing mechanisms. States with a high proportion of uninsured residents also included Arizona, Florida, Nevada, Texas, and Wyoming, but those states are above average in terms of the costs they would bear under each financing option.

Among the states most likely to “lose” are Delaware, Nebraska, and New Hampshire as well as the District of Columbia. Each of these states has a relatively lower-than-average proportion of uninsured residents, and each would fall in the “High Cost” category under either of the financing options. There are four states—Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, and Rhode Island—that while also “Low Benefit” are “Low Cost” as well.
Notice a trend here in the groups of states that are winners under this breakdown (those states that would gain a lot of coverage and not have to pay a lot for it), and those who are losers (those states that would not gain a lot of uninsured covered and would have to pay more for those fewer uninsured)?
It’s interesting to examine the distribution of states’ winner-loser status relative to political alignment. Support for reform has been restricted to Democrats, with only one Republican House member supporting reform and all Senate Republicans opposing. When we examine the seven states most likely to be winners under reform, we see a combined split in their Senate delegations of twelve Republicans versus two Democrats. The three states most likely to lose under health care reform are collectively represented by four Democrats and two Republicans. When we add in the group that would be losers under the income-tax option, the split becomes even stronger, with these states being represented by eighteen Democrats and four Republicans.

The overall pattern therefore shows a curious alignment: States with the most to gain under health care reform are overwhelmingly represented by Republicans, while those states likely to do worse are much more likely to have Democratic senators.
Ding ding ding ding!

Stop and think about this.  The states that have the most to gain from health care reform legislation are overwhelmingly red states with Republican Senators.  Likewise, those who are going to have to pay are blue states and D.C. and as a result, if you were trying to reverse the slide of the Democrats in the South, you'd want to pass health care reform.  If you're a Republican, you would try to do everything you can to convince your constituents that this would be the most vile and evil legislation ever conceived.

There's nothing curious about it.  It's designed this way.  It's something good and beneficial for the Dems, and 100% political to the GOP.  It really is that simple.  They don't care if you live or die.  They just want your vote.

Joe Versus The Volcano

And the residents of Connecticut want to toss Joe F'ckin Lieberman in one.
A new poll by Public Policy Polling has the Independent senator losing support in his home state, not just among Democrats but among independents and even Republicans as well.

More than 80 percent (81 percent) of Democrats now say they disapprove of the job Lieberman is doing with only 14 percent approving. Among Republicans, 48 percent disapprove of the senator with just 39 approving. And among independents, 61 percent disapprove of Lieberman's antics with just 32 percent approving.

"It all adds up to a 25% approval rating with 67% of his constituents giving him bad marks," the study concludes. "Barack Obama's approval rating with Connecticut Republicans is higher than Lieberman's with the state's Democrats."
Now that's funny.  As Steve says:
It's tempting to think the Independent senator would at least have made some gains with conservative voters, who might have been pleased to see Lieberman take the lead in killing the public option. But that's the most interesting thing about the poll -- he managed to lose support with every ideological and partisan group.

By negotiating in bad faith, delaying the process needlessly, ignoring his previous commitments, and removing popular provisions from the legislation, Lieberman managed to annoy everyone at the same time.
Nobody likes an asshole.  Well, okay, only 25% of people do, apparently...

Buying Your Own Hype

The Teabaggers are revolting, sir!
A founder of the "tea party" movement said Wednesday he had a warning for Republican state leaders: Back conservative candidates or else other states will suffer the same backlash that toppled Florida's Republican Party chairman this week.

"We are turning our guns on anyone who doesn't support constitutional conservative candidates," said Dale Robertson, who operates out of Houston and helped start the movement nearly two years ago.

He declined to say which states are next on the tea party's hit list. He said party leaders in those states would be warned privately, but the movement's wrath "will be very clear publicly" if they don't listen.
It's funny watching this mini-Limbaughs huff and puff and threaten to wreck the GOP unless they get who they want, when they want it. (And the Dems are supposed to be spineless cavers.) Blue Girl has a great take on the continuing Hoffmanization of the Republican party:
For their part, the national republican party is trying to put an unfractured face forward. A spokeswoman for the RNC, Gail Gitcho, insisted that it is the Democrats who are "suffering from a fractured party," and the wedge is healthcare reform. "Republicans are unified and have the momentum after the 2009 elections and going into 2010," she said. "The grass-roots movement is strong and organic, which makes us well-positioned for the midterms."

Hmmm. That's a bold assertion for a party that won two off-year governors elections against weak candidates who would've had a hard time mustering a winning percentage if they ran unopposed.

The election that really mattered, the New York 23, they lost. Huge. They ran a lunatic, pushed the moderate Republican out of the race and the Democrats took the seat for the first time since the end of the Civil War. They always omit that bit of inconvenient reality when they crow about taking the Governorships in Virginia and New Jersey. But the "liberal" media never asks the obvious follow-up question "what about the New York 23?"
The answer to that is that our "liberal" media is too busy trying to find a way to equate the Teabaggers to progressives with the goal of legitimizing the Wingers and bashing the Dirty F'ckin Hippies, proclaiming that nothing is different between the two...and isn't the center great?  Obama should be more centrist...

St. Louis Shooting Update

CNN is reporting 3 dead, 5 injured.  The gunman may be among them, preliminary reports are that the gunman is an ABB employee named Timothy Hendron.  But the most heartbreaking part of this is the possible motive:
Hendron is one of a group of ABB employees listed in a lawsuit filed in 2006 against administrators of the company's retirement plan. The suit, filed in federal court, accuses the administrators of, among other things, causing the plan to include "unreasonable and excessive" fees and expenses, paid by participants, without their knowledge and not used for their benefit or that of the plan.

Linda Siegfried, a spokesman for the law firm representing the plaintiffs, confirmed to CNN that Hendron was among the plaintiffs, although his name is spelled three different ways in court documents.

A trial on the matter is currently being held in Kansas City, Missouri, Siegfried said. She didn't know whether Hendron would have been required to be present. Online federal court records show the trial began Tuesday.
Nice.  So ABB's on trial for ripping off employees on their pension plan, and one guy decided he had enough.  It's a horrible story, and there's no excuse for that kind of violence, ever.  There's no justification for it.  But the pension plan trial just compounds the tragedy.

Point / Counterpoint

Steve Benen makes an excellent point:
If it feels like, rhetorically, the entire political establishment is spinning its wheels, it's because that's true. For a year, the nation has confronted incredible challenged that demanded serious, credible debates. And for a year, we've ended up listening to -- and responding to -- total nonsense.

Instead of debating the stimulus package, Republicans wanted to explore a five-year spending freeze. Instead of debating health care reform, Republicans wanted to talk about death panels. Instead of debating cap-and-trade policy, Republicans wanted to talk about "Climategate." Instead of debating national security policy, Republicans want to pretend the president doesn't use a word he uses all the time.

Our political system has to mature quickly or our collective future is bleak.
And while that's a great observation (the total nonsense has coalesced into the Teabaggers for instance) Digby has an even better one:
None of that surprised me in the least. It's not like the Democrats have tried in the least to make a political argument about this that made any sense. But the Republicans have, and it's a doozy. If things don't improve quickly, a lot more people are going to be listening to it.

When you have a man-made crisis (or even a natural disaster) people will always look for someone to blame. It's human nature. The out of power Republicans have a ready made boogeyman in the government, of course, to which they conveniently misdirect all the fear and anger since they are the ones who both led the charge to deregulate and profited from the excesses. The Democrats, either out of a severe case of regulatory capture or a quixotic political desire to "change the tone" and "look forward not backward" have left themselves holding the bag as the defenders of the one institution everybody now holds responsible for the mess.

What a weird place Democrats have in our political culture these days. They're like the official sin-eaters. They do all the dirty work to clean up after Republican excess and take the blame for making the mess in the first place. What kind of people want a job like that?
More importantly, who wants to vote for them?  The Republicans have no shame, no remorse, no sense of hubris.  The Democrats on the other hand have no self-respect.   It's like the Republicans get how the world works, but they'd rather use it to manipulate everything in their advantage, only they go too far and blow it.  It's like the Democrats don't get it, but like to pretend they can manipulate everyone anyway, and just look bad while doing it.

I know the alternative to the Dems right now are the Teabaggers.  They *will* destroy this country and roll back decades of civil rights, protections for women, minorities and workers, and loot and pillage the country for themselves while laughing at everyone who's not like them.  It's what they do.

And while they lie, cheat, steal and discriminate at will, you can always count on them to do that.  If the Dems don't stand up to the Republicans on this, they're going to lose.

Intellectual Dishonesty 101

The lovely folks over at National Review Class A Minor League Affiliate: Internets Division American Thinker have put Laurie Regan up to bat to say Al Gore's intellectually dishonest (and by proxy, every single Democrat)  because one of Laurie's friends landed a global warming zinger at him at a restaurant.

No really, that's her entire argument.
As the Gore party started walking out of the room, my colleague called out, "Hey, Al, how's all that global warming working out for you?" Gore turned around and stared at us with a completely dumbfounded look on his face. He was speechless. With a smile, my colleague repeated the question, again to a hapless look of dismay.
Finally, Gore mumbled under his breath, "Wow, you sound awfully angry." I responded with a thank you, explaining to him that we were actually extremely amused. The encounter concluded with Gore's friend mouthing a very animated "f--- you" at us, and they skulked away. My only regret is that no one at the table asked Gore, "What's the matter? The polar bear's got your tongue?"

What struck me the most about this meeting was Gore's complete inability to utter a sentence addressing his life's work. The former Vice President, Nobel Prize laureate, and Academy Award-winning producer standing before us was a moron, unable to articulate a simple comeback to address all that he has stood for since leaving office. He could have simply ignored us and kept walking, as he does with reporters, but by stopping and standing there dumbstruck, he looked like a fool. 
To recap, ambushing a former vice-president at a restaurant  in a sophomoric and juvenile manner is proof Al Gore is stupid because he didn't say "Yeah, well I was globally warming your mom last night, asshole."

Such thinkers these Americans be.  But then Laurie quintuples down on the stupid:

(More after the jump...)

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Dear Canada:

We really like your health care, Dave Foley, and poutine.  However, when confronted with liberal activists like the Yes Men making fun of your bureaucrats, it's important to remember that your response to being embarrassed by a bunch of normal civvies shouldn't make you look orders of magnitude worse than the original problem the activists had with you.

We generally look to you guys to say "You know, Canada doesn't have nearly as many douchebags as we do."  That's important to us.  So stop screwing that up.


Four Square America

WaPo's Charles Lane argues there's now four political parties:  The Teabaggers, the RINOs, the ConservaDems, and the Dirty F'ckin Hippies.
Now, however, under the Internet-intensified pressure of recession, terrorism and global uncertainty, the four parties are breaking out of the two-party mold that had previously contained them. On the Democratic side, President Obama finds himself torn between progressives demanding an ideologically pure health-care program, among other agenda items, and a pragmatic wing desperately attempting to hold together 60 Senate votes by whatever means necessary. On the Republican side, it's unclear whether the party's right wing is angrier at Obama or at its own leadership. Certainly the fury of the Tea Party and similar groups threatens here and there to overwhelm more conventional conservatives (just ask Charlie Crist in Florida).

Dodd, Dorgan and Ritter are victims of the four-way crack-up in the following sense: off-year elections are low-turnout affairs that often hinge on who has the most motivated voter base. In 2010, the Democratic left is turned off while the Republican right is fired up. These three political warhorses could not win under those circumstances. But if the Republicans benefit this fall, their gains may be transitory: their own internal split may flare up once they have to decide how to use their new power.

Small wonder that we are seeing so much churning in the political class, as various incumbents either switch parties or retire prematurely -- while both parties emphasize recruitment of fresh blood and contemplate such unorthodox measures as the Democrats' rumored courting of Tennessean Harold Ford Jr. to run for U.S. Senate in New York.

Where could it all lead? The past is not prologue, but party instability of this magnitude could be the harbinger of even bigger changes. The U.S. political system actually fractured into four major parties in 1860 -- and we all know what happened next.
An interesting assessment.  But relating the progressive movement to the tea party movement is just a false analogy, as is assuming it's the Democratic party splitting into warring factions.  Moderates are not being thrown out of the party en masse.

In other words, Jane Hamsher does not equal Erick Erickson.  I will agree though that incumbents of both parties are in trouble, however.  But you're not seeing Taylor Marsh headlining a national convention next month saying that she'd rather have 30 Dems in the Senate who are "ideologically pure" than the 60 we have now.

There's three parties, the Dems, the GOP, and the We're Pissed.

More Perspective, Another Shooting

Reports are coming in of a multiple shooting at a transformer factory in North St. Louis this morning, three victims have been discovered, the shooter is still on the loose in the building.

As tragic as this is, and make no mistake even with my usual cynical snark aside, this is a tragic and terrible event, the fact remains that under current Republican  logic, this is only a "terrorist attack against a soft target" if and only if the shooter was a Muslim (well, if the shooter was Latino, perhaps Malkinvania would scream it was one by La Raza.)  If it was anyone else, it's just a normal American workplace shooting, nothing to see here.  Perhaps Janet Napolitano should resign over her failure to protect the homeland from whoever this was, etc.

You know, just like the complete forgotten Las Vegas courthouse shooting earlier this week.  Shooter wasn't a Muslim, he was a black guy who lost a Social Security case because he thought it was racial discrimination against him, so it's not news, and of course it's not anything for Republicans to dwell on.  It might raise uncomfortable questions...but expect to see the usual suspects cry that this is proof there's a race war in America and that we need to be profiling all black men, always, for anything.

More on this as it comes in.

The Tyranny Of The Minority Continues

As the GOP puts a new hold on a new TSA head from even being considered.
The nomination of a former FBI agent to lead the Transportation Security Administration hit a new obstacle Wednesday as several Republican senators expressed "serious reservations" about the nominee and pressed the White House for details of incidents in which he improperly accessed a confidential federal database years ago.

White House officials had hoped to speed the confirmation of Erroll Southers to revive confidence in an agency that has been leaderless for months and in the spotlight since the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day exposed intelligence and security lapses.

Southers's nomination had been held up by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) because of concerns he would support the unionization of TSA workers. On Wednesday, DeMint and six other Republican senators -- including John McCain (Ariz.), Charles E. Grassley (Iowa) and Tom Coburn (Okla.) -- demanded that the White House provide information about why Southers initially gave Congress an incorrect account about the searches two decades ago, incidents that led to his censure by the FBI.

"We believe that Mr. Southers submitted erroneous, and possibly misleading information regarding ethical violations during his service with the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the senators wrote in a letter to Nancy D. Hogan, special assistant to the president and director of presidential personnel.

Also on Wednesday, Coburn placed a hold on the nomination, pending the White House response to the senators' questions.

The letter and Coburn's hold follow a report in The Washington Post last week that detailed how Southers provided differing accounts to the Senate about incidents in 1987 and 1988 in which he inappropriately accessed a federal database, possibly in violation of privacy laws, in a search for records about his estranged wife's boyfriend.
And while Southers definitely raises questions, the GOP is on one hand screaming for the head of Janet Napolitano saying the TSA is rudderless, and on the other hand blocking the nomination of a TSA head from even being considered in the first place.

If there's questions about him, bring them up in the nomination hearing.  Get your answers there.  But there's no way anybody can consider the Republicans as serious on national security at this point.

Dodd Man Walkin'

There's plenty of speculation out there in the Village today as to what Chris Dodd's retirement means for financial reform.
It’s hard to discern whether Dodd’s retirement will lead him to give in on a host of issues (as one “gleeful” financial services lobbyist told Politico it would) or compel him to put “it all on the line to get what he wants, bipartisanship be damned.”
But one thing is for certain: Dodd’s retirement means that the regulatory reform effort needs to wrap up this year, as Dodd’s likliest successor as chairman is Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), a very bank-friendly Democrat who would almost certainly produce a worse product. And this point hasn’t escaped Republicans, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out:
At the same time, [Dodd's] decision gives Republicans the incentive to draw out the process until after next year’s elections when a more business-friendly Democrat could ascend to the banking panel’s chairmanship. Next in line on the committee is Sen. Tim Johnson (D., S.D.), generally seen as more receptive to industry concerns.
According to Roll Call, “Senate Democrats said that no palace intrigue is expected to take place with the Banking panel” and that Johnson will take the gavel. So Republicans and the financial industry have ample motivation to gum up the works until Dodd is all the way out.
It would be just fine for Republicans to simply delay the bill until election season, in which case they could simply shop around for better "reform" the Tim Johnson way.

But it's where Dodd might be going next that is raising the most eyebrows:  word is he could be getting Timmy's job.
Speculation has also begun about potential employment for Dodd in the Obama administration.
For instance, several Democratic Senate aides noted that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is an extremely unpopular figure in the Senate. Geithner has also taken the brunt of the criticism for the administration’s handling of the economy and, these sources speculated, if the country’s financial picture does not brighten before Election Day, he could be the first secretary to leave the administration.
Although Dodd would appear to be well-situated to take control of Treasury if the position were to open, it may not be smooth sailing for his nomination.
Now I wouldn't lose a wink of sleep if Obama decided to throw Timmy under the bus, but the fact this is being so calmly discussed right now shows that Obama probably needs to throw Timmy under the bus sooner rather than later...other than the fact that he needs Dodd in the Senate right now more.

The Village is now expecting it to happen.  I'm sure Timmy's really happy this morning.

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims essentially unchanged for the week at 434k, continuing claims down to 4.8 million.

It's getting better.  It's a long way from good.  December job loss numbers will be out tomorrow.  Those numbers are expected to be negative still.

Once A Fool, Thrice A Teabagger

The Count of Charlie Crist isn't the only Hoffman Effect primary out there this year, where a hard-right whackjob is forcing the GOP "moderate" into being yet another hard-right whackjob to sate the taste GOP primary voters have for "liberal heretic RINO blood."  No matter who wins the primary, the general election will certainly strongly favor the Democrat in the race as a result.

Christina Bellantoni of TPMDC shows us three more races along these lines.
We've been tracking the race in VA-05, where seven Republican candidates are lining up in hopes of challenging top target Rep. Tom Perriello (D).

In the latest development there, Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher of 2008 presidential campaign fame is endorsing Laurence Verga.

Wurzelbacher called Verga "a true American that truly understands the importance of the Constitution, and will follow it." They will campaign together this weekend.

As we have reported, Verga also was lauded by conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham.
(More after the jump...)


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