Thursday, January 14, 2010

Last Call

I'm no law perfesser, but this here?
A judge in Washington, D.C., has thrown out a lawsuit by opponents of gay marriage against the city's elections board.

Plaintiffs led by a Maryland pastor, Bishop Harry Jackson, sued after the Board of Elections and Ethics refused to put their initiative on the ballot. The measure would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. The board ruled it violated the city's Human Rights Act.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith N. Macaluso ruled Thursday in favor of the city. She said the board's action was justified because the initiative would in effect authorize discrimination.
Why hasn't that argument been used to basically overturn every state gay marriage ban on the books? Can anyone explain that to me?  Is that what the basic argument is in the California Prop 8 trial?  If so, wouldn't that be the basis of the argument before the Supreme Court when it gets there?

Quote Of The Week

"Ben Smith can't be this stupid, can he?"

--Politico commenter WTFCI, on the Ben Smith blog post wondering why the Wall Street Journal is one of the five approved media outlets for next month's Tea Party Convention in Nashville (along with World Net Daily,, and FOX News, since you're curious.)

The answer to that question is apparently "Oh God yes."

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

If the GOP is assured of taking over the House in 2010 and ushering in a new era of conservative governance, why have 14 House Republicans retired including the "safe" seat of John Shadegg of Arizona just today?

They're dropping like flies.

Double Dog Dare Ya

The Boston Herald is having a grand old time talking up Scott Brown.  Today's shot across the bow is aimed not at Coakley, but President Obama:
Surging GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown yesterday warned President Obama to "stay away" from the Bay State during his roiling race against Democratic rival Martha Coakley and not to interfere with their intensifying battle in the campaign's final days.

"He should stay away and let Martha and I discuss the issues one on one," Brown said. "The machine is coming out of the woodwork to get her elected. They're bringing in outsiders, and we don't need them."

Really.  Nice. As Steve M. points out, this kind of trash talking only comes out if you let it.
First of all, how weak is President Obama right now? He's so weak that he's hearing this kind of trash talk in his own party's regional base, for Pete's sake, and from a little pipsqueak upstart in the opposition party. In late November 1994, when Bill Clinton was told that "he'd better have a bodyguard" if he dared to travel to North Carolina, that was seen as a sign of the president's weakness in the wake of devastating midterm elections -- but North Carolina was part of the GOP's Solid South, and the speaker was a powerful old bull of the Republican Party, Jesse Helms. This? Well, imagine if a Democratic challenger in Alabama or Mississippi said in the midst of a tight race a few years ago that President Bush better not show up in the state. The howls of outrage would have been deafening. The Democrat's patriotism would have been questioned. And it would have been political suicide.

But this is just going to be shrugged off.

Beyond that, I see the GOP engaging in furious goalpost-moving. What the Republicans seem to be suggesting is that it would be somehow unfair for a Democratic president to campaign ... for a Democrat! The implication -- and you know we'll hear this from our idiot media if Obama does show up and Coakley wins a less-than-blowout victory -- is that that's cheating, and that a victory partly fueled by a presidential visit doesn't really count. (So does that mean we get do-overs on every vote cast by the Republican Senate that was elected in 2002, given that their victory came in part because George W. Bush and Karl Rove decided to nationalize those midterm elections?)

A last thought: It's not clear that Obama will show up.
The Calvinball World Cup continues.  The GOP changes the rules and the Village dutifully nods and says "Yeah, you guys have a point!" every damn time.  The "Obama has already lost!" meme is gaining a hell of a head of steam at this point and there are zero indications they are fighting back.  Scott Brown is basically daring a Democratic President to show up and campaign for a Democratic Senate candidate in f'ckin' Massachusetts, and that's without factoring in the whole concept of saying "you're an outsider, we don't need you" to the President.  (The racial undertones are bonus points.  We don't want your kind round here, boy.)

Obama needs to show up.  Preferably at Scott Brown's front door.  Preferably with a piece of paper that says "I'm sorry for being a douchebag" on it and a blank under it for Scott Brown to sign on camera with an Official White House Pen.

[UPDATE 4:20 PMThis went out today from the White House:

It's a start.

Haiti Update

Yggy has some frankly brilliant ideas on helping in Haiti.
The US is reportedly sending a few thousand more soldiers to Haiti, to join the already-extant UN forces there. Since Haiti is a relatively small country you could imagine the international community undertaking an effort to send many more forces than that and essentially run the country on an interim basis. Countries like France, Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland can, in principle, offer well-trained soldiers who can communicate easily with the local population which would make such an undertaking more feasible than a lot of other population security missions.
But the real problem is again what to do with millions of Haitians in a country with basically zero infrastructure:
Short of that, it’s worth thinking about the extent to which generous immigration policies could do enormous good for Haiti’s population. In the short-term, what’s most needed is immediate assistance to save as many lives as possible. But Tyler Cowen’s guess that “the country as a whole is currently below the subsistence level and will remain so for the foreseeable future” seems very plausible. The most likely alternative to mass immiseration and death for the survivors seems to me to be large-scale emigration to the developed world. Otherwise you’re going to have millions of people with no means of supporting themselves.
Who will step up to take in these Haitians?  The size and the scope of this disaster is off the charts, as BooMan says:
It's probable that Haiti will need to become a protectorate of some sort, if not in letter then in fact. And very clever people will have to devise economically sound plans to rebuild. For example, temporary housing could actually be semi-permanent, with an option to buy equity and have eventual ownership. The Department of Agriculture could encourage the planting of fruit trees rather than attempting reforestation that will be used for timber. Of course, having first-world corporations swoop in and begin making profits off this misery will bring about charges of imperialism and exploitation. But, really, what are the alternatives? Without some profit-motive, there will never be enough aid to keep Haiti at a sustenance level of existence.
And that's the size and the scope we need to be considering.  Aid to Haiti is not going to cut it.  The country is no longer a going concern at this point.   The government is non-functional, and at this point unless we see large-scale disaster relief on a holistic level accounting for millions of survivors and soon, they're no longer going to be categorized as survivors, dig?

A fantastic, unprecedented, massive and comprehensive effort will have to be mobilized here to get Haiti up from face down on the mat.  Yes, it's going to have to involve corporations, as BooMan said.  The alternative is tens of thousands of people who survived the initial earthquake only to die from lack of basic infrastructure.  The fact is putting up enough infrastructure to serve Haiti will take far longer than the people of Haiti have.  It's a complete meltdown there.

The entire world is going to need to chip in here.

Your Daily Glass Of Coakley

Steve Benen has your update on MA-SEN:
* As of early this morning, Vicky Kennedy's "Let's Do It For Ted" email appeal for Martha Coakley's Senate campaign in Massachusetts had raised over $520,000 in less than a day. By mid-morning, sources tell me the total cleared $600,000.

* On a related note, Coakley won six endorsements yesterday from newspaper editorial boards in Massachusetts, including the Boston Globe, the state's largest paper.

* Also in Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown has positioned himself as a regular guy, driving a truck with 200,000 miles on it, but we learned yesterday that he has nearly as many homes as John McCain.
Not sure how the "seven homes" attack is going to play in Mass, but the "Let's Do It For Ted" campaign is definitely the kind of thing we needed to see out of the Coakley campaign.

You know, back six weeks ago.  Sheesh.

Meanwhile, here in Buckeye Country:
* In Ohio, a new Rasmussen poll shows former Bush budget director Rob Portman (R) leading both of his Democratic opponents in this year's Senate race. While Lee Fisher (D) is expected to win the Democratic nod over Jennifer Brunner (D), at this point, Portman leads Fisher by seven and Brunner by three.
Rob Portman is something of a twit, but he continues to maintain a small lead.  Ohioans aren't too thrilled about the Dems right now, especially in the Big 3 cities, Columbus, Cleveland and Cincy.

Run Newt Run

Newtie's dropping hints he's in for 2012.
"I think I'm probably on a list of seven or eight possible candidates at this stage," Gingrich reportedly told reporters in North Carolina Wednesday before speaking to a gathering of conservatives. Joe DeSantis, Gingrich's communications director, confirmed the accuracy of the quotes to CNN.

"We have a lot of people around the country who would like to have somebody who represents a commitment to replace the current failed programs and to develop a set of solutions that are practical and workable," Gingrich also said.
By all means, Newt.  Run in 2012.  Run on a Gingrich/Palin or Palin/Gingrich ticket.  Please.

I'll have blog fodder for years.

That's The Entire Plan

Greg Sargent:
* The GOP’s plan to win back the House, according to Politico:
Internally, Republicans call it the “80-20 strategy,” which, loosely interpreted, means spending 80 percent of the time whacking Democrats and the remainder talking up their own ideas.
Really?  So, 80% of the time is calling Obama a Kenyan socialist, and the other 20% of the time consists of:
.1%     Saying we need more tax cuts.
19.9% Calling Obama a Kenyan socialist.
Good plan.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Erick Erickson Douchebag Douchebagson wants to know:
What Do Sarah Palin and Jesus Christ Have In Common?

OK, I'll bite.  They both had...feet?
I don’t know what it is about Sarah Palin that sets people off, but there is very little in between. The reaction people have to Sarah Palin is very much the reaction many people have to Jesus — both offend and disgust the secular values of some and with others failing to embrace either sends you straight to hell. Judging by my conversation with Governor Palin a few weeks ago when I asked her why the left has more compassion for Al Qaeda than for conservative women and minorities, I think she gets it and finds some humor in it.
What "sets people off" about Sarah Palin is her constantly demonstrated inability to grasp basic information.
Heilemann said that even after crash-course tutorials by campaign aides following the convention, Palin was still woefully uninformed about basic policy issues.

“[S]he still didn’t really understand why there was a North Korea and a South Korea,” Heilemann told the program’s Anderson Cooper. “She was still regularly saying that Saddam Hussein had been behind 9/11.”
And if she was just not that bright it would be one thing, but the woman goes out of her way to refuse to correct her ignorance.

This makes her dangerous.  Jesus was just, you know, misunderstood.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Paul W. asks in the comments where I took offense to the Obama administration being soft on the banks with today's news about the FDIC and Obama now looking to tax the banksters:
Do you want to walk that back a step or two now that the FDIC is taking 90 billion from the top fifty banks operating in the US?
Fair question.  Answers:

1)  It depends on what Obama and the FDIC decide to do with the money.  If it's not used for something stimulus-related and just used to reduce the deficit, it's rather pointless.  $90 billion should be used for a jobs bill or to save states from having to lay off nearly a million government employees in 2010.

2)  Timmy is already shooting down the proposals.  Not helping.

3)  This will have to go in front of Congress to be approved.  Needless to say, it'll die in the Senate.  Republicans are already attacking it.  Yes, it makes them look bad defending the banks.  It makes the Dems look worse if they can't even get something as obvious as this passed in an election year.  Remember cramdown?  Credit card reform?  The proposal to tax bonuses?  Financial sector reform is still floundering in Congress, too.  I don't expect this to get anywhere either.

It's like the Dems want to lose.

Back To Work On Obamacare

House Democrats are saying an Obamacare reconciliation deal will be ready by this weekend.
Two of the House's most influential chairmen say that health care negotiations between the House, Senate, and President Obama have come so far, that they'll be ready to send a package to Congressional scorekeepers this weekend.

Congress Daily caught up with Rep. George Miller (D-CA)--chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee--and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY)--chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee--who both acknowledged that a compromise could be just around the corner.

"We hope to be able to send in the next couple days our changes to CBO," Miller said (subs reqd).
That's good news, because the President's numbers are still looking on the bad side.
And although most people still believe that Obama's agenda will eventually benefit the country, his approval rating has fallen to 47 percent amid a widespread consensus that Washington's response to the downturn has so far helped the wealthy and powerful more than it has average families. Shirley McCarter, a homemaker and poll respondent in Altus, Okla., encapsulated that view with a brisk verdict on the government's agenda: "It's not helping the little guy," she said. "It almost seems like rewarding the people who made the bad decisions."
Obama has a problem with Wall Street and with Main Street.
Nearly half of those polled say they made "significant reductions" in their spending over the past year. Nearly one-third say they were forced to withdraw money from savings or pension accounts to make ends meet. And 31 percent say they lost a job or were unemployed for a sustained period. Just over one-fifth say that during the past year they went "without health insurance for a sus-tained period."

About one in seven of those surveyed say they fell behind on their mortgage or rent at some point in the past year--and 5 percent say they suffered through foreclosure. Only 23 percent of those polled say they have not "experienced any significant changes in lifestyle or financial security."

In follow-up interviews, many respondents spoke with a sharp edge of apprehension about the accumulating strain of extended joblessness or reduced income. In these conversations, the recession seems like a storm that has just grazed some lives, briefly unsettled others, and rattled still others to their foundations.

Randy Howard is a disabled factory worker in Millville, N.J., whose wife works at a Kmart. Her hours have been cut by a fourth, squeezing the family's budget. "How to fix this mess?" Howard asked rhetorically at one point. "I don't really have a clue." Likewise, Shannon McCauley, a Philadelphia homemaker, has seen her husband's employer cut his hours by more than half. Now, she said, he is piecing together part-time jobs to keep the family afloat. McCarter, whose husband is in the military, worries about the family's debt and sees her neighbors anxiously retrenching on small luxuries such as hiring someone to mow the lawn. "We've got a lot of family members who are struggling economically. And they've been struggling for a long time," she said, "but it's hitting much heavier now."
These are your swing voters, Dems.  These are the folks who will either stop supporting you in November, or worse, go to the polls and vote for the Republicans instead.  These are the people you're screwing over with your bailouts and your refusal to help out the country when you instead decide to reward bank CEOs instead of average people.  They vote.  And they outnumber you.

Get them some help, guys.  Or in 2010 they are going to turn this country back over to the Republicans, and they're going to end up finishing the disaster they started and will wipe out the middle class in this country for good.

Surprised Harry Reid Is Surprised

Well gee, it seems now Harry Reid thinks playing with The Snowe Queen was "a waste of time".
"As I look back it was a waste of time dealing with [Snowe]," Reid is quoted as saying about the White House in a forthcoming New York Times Magazine piece, "because she had no intention of ever working anything out."

That's a harsh but understandable assessment. The White House was banking on Snowe's support for months, both as a means of securing conservative Democrats' support for the bill, and as a failsafe, in case Reid came up short on votes in the Democratic caucus. But after supporting the Senate Finance Committee's reform proposal, Snowe was hesitant to support major changes to the legislation, which Reid needed to make to keep the progressive wing of his caucus from defecting.
The real question is why Harry Reid is still Majority Leader when it took his ass a good six months to figure out something the rest of us knew in June.

[UPDATE 10:42 AMBob Cesca concurs.   Time for Harry Reid to go.  Also, Politico is reporting this morning that the same NY Times Magazine article that's the source of the Snowe quote has Reid saying he felt that Joe F'ckin Lieberman "double-crossed" him on Obamacare.

Incoming Lieber-snit in 5...

Haiti The Players, Not The Game

Steven D. over at the Frog Pond catches Florida GOP candidate for the state legislature Sheridan Folger making this political statement about the Haiti earthquake relief efforts:
This shows how Republicans are once again the party of action and compassion, while the Democrats are the party of wanton neglect and disregard. Aside from the on-the-spot effort planned and coordinated last night by Bernard, Tom and myself, the only three congressmen to express concern were our three Republican members from Miami. This should demonstrate how Democrats once again pander to and use minorities to further their ends and throw them under the bus in the time of need. The D now stands for Desolate Destruction while the R stands for Repair, Renew and Reinvigorate.
Is there anything Republicans won't turn into a political attack ad against the Dems?

And as Steven says, any Republican making this statement after Katrina should be laughed at publicly.

If It's Thursday...

Jobless claims up 11k to 444K for the week, but the major news is that continuing claims dropped by nearly 200,000 from 4.8 million to 4.6 million.

In other words, ten of thousands of Americans fell off the unemployment benefits cliff last week.  Retail sales were down in December.

2010 is when the pain really starts, folks.

Home, Home I'm Deranged

You know that Obama program to reduce foreclosures?  Not working so well.
Foreclosures jumped 14 percent in December 2009 from the previous month, according to a new report from foreclosure listing Web site

The increase came despite foreclosure suspensions during the holiday season from companies like Citigroup , Bank of America and Fannie Mae .

“Had we not had a moratorium, it would have been even higher than we saw,” said Rick Sharga, vice president of marketing at “We’ll probably see an increase in the first quarter as well.”
Oh I'm betting it'll go well past the first quarter.  Millions of adjustable ARM mortgages are going to adjust upwards in 2010 and that's going to drive the foreclosure machine.  We're now seeing the third wave of foreclosures in the market, and the fact of the matter is the foreclosure machine is fully self-perpetuating now.
Besides the monthly data, RealtyTrac also released foreclosure totals for 2009. Last year, 2.8 million US properties received foreclosure filings, a 21 percent increase from 2008 and a 120 percent increase from 2007.

The numbers fell short of the 3 million to 3.2 million foreclosures RealtyTrac had predicted for the year because the government's mortgage modification program has temporarily slowed foreclosures that will most likely occur anyway, Sharga said.

“On the surface that sounds good, but it's not really preventing foreclosures,” he added.
Nope, just means an extra 200-400k additional foreclosures in 2010.  As I predicted several times in 2009, without a cramdown provision to allow judges to directly modify mortgage rates, the Obama mortgage modification program would fail.  Cramdown failed twice in Congress in 2009, killed by Democrats each time.

And now, well gosh, the Dems are afraid that in 2010, voters may be upset with them over failing to do something effective about record foreclosures in the country.

Funny how that works.

Glennsanity Versus Moose Lady

Gosh, why are liberal media drones like FOX's Glenn Beck so mean to poor ol' Sarah Palin during interviews?
During Sarah Palin's interview with Glenn Beck today, something extraordinary happened -- Beck challenged Palin on a stock, noncommittal answer to a question. Beck asked: "Who's your favorite Founder?"

"You know, well, all of them, because they came collectively together with so much--" Palin began, in a manner much like her non-answers to Katie Couric's questions about which newspapers she's read ("All of them.") and which Supreme Court decisions she's disagreed with (which brought a similarly broad answer about how there are a lot of decisions).

"Bullcrap," Beck interrupted. "Who's your favorite."
You can't call bullcrap on Moose Lady!  Who does Glenn Beck think he is?  Boy, I bet Glenn Beck would be much nicer to Sarah Palin than this liberal Glenn Beck jerk.

It is rather disconcerting to find your heroes have brains of clay.


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