Friday, January 15, 2010

Last Call

Dems are talking about reconciliation should Coakley lose Tuesday.
Even if Democrats lose the special election to pick a new Massachusetts senator Tuesday, Congress may still pass health-care overhaul through a process called reconciliation, a top House Democrat said.

That procedure requires 51 votes rather than the 60 needed to prevent Republicans from blocking votes on President Barack Obama’s top legislative priorities. That supermajority is at risk as the Massachusetts race has tightened.

“Even before Massachusetts and that race was on the radar screen, we prepared for the process of using reconciliation,” Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said.

“Getting health-care reform passed is important,” Van Hollen said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend. “Reconciliation is an option.”
Naturally the Wingers are going nuts again.
Democrats tonight announced that they will likely ram Obamacare through the US Senate using the reconciliation process. This would allow democrats to nationalize one-sixth of the US economy wiith only 51 Senate Democrats voting for the bill.
Yeah, unprecedented tyranny!  How dare the Obama and the Dems try to pass something with 51 votes out of 100!

You know, except all the times Bush did it.
– The 2001 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 1836, 3/26/01]
– The 2003 Bush Tax Cuts [HR 2, 3/23/03]
– Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 [HR 4297, 5/11/06]
– The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 [H. Con Res. 95, 12/21/05]
And you know, Reagan.
Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1980
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981
Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1982
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1983
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986
Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987
Do keep up, Jim.  You lost the reconciliation battle quite some time ago.  However, reconciliation could possibly get things like the public option back in the bill.  Maybe.

Especially since the Big Pharma lobbyists are now extorting more concessions.  It could be Coakley as 60 was a moot point anyway.

Firebagged One

The Firebaggers are all but claiming credit for the announcement today of Arkansas Blue Dog Rep. Vic Snyder.
His decision to drop out of the race comes on the heels of the FDL/SurveyUSA poll showed him 12 points behind his likely Republican challenger, Tim Griffin.

The poll was a dramatic dropoff from the previous polling in November by PPP, which showed him effectively tied against his opponent. The Cook Political report rated the district a “tossup.”

As an incumbent well below 50%, his reelection chances seemed very bleak. With only $7,625 raised since the last FEC reporting, he did not have much of a war chest to work with in the next several months. The district has a strong (R+5) Republican leaning, and it may be a challenge for the Democrats to find a first rate replacement for this election cycle. With Snyder out of the race, it seems unlikely that the DCCC will spend nearly as much money as they would probably have used to use to defend a long-term incumbent like Snyder.
So Snyder's gone.  11 House retirements for the Dems now to the GOP's 14.  Not even the Firebaggers know who's going to run on the Democratic side now.  But it's cool.  They collected their Blue Dog head, and they are pretty confident that a strongly progressive candidate, should one arise, will have no problem winning in Arkansas in November.

If Snyder is replaced by another Democrat in November, one who is progressive, then I will give the FireDogLake crew all the credit.

But if Tim Griffin wins and this seat is a loss for the Dems...oh well...guess them's the breaks in the name of purity purges...

Zandar's Other Thought Of The Day

I like Jon Chait.  Over the last year, he and Ezra Klein have written countless excellent articles on the nuts and bolts of health care reform.  But he is f'ckin' high as a kite if he thinks Olympia Snowe is going to vote for health care after a Scott Brown win.

The fact that Chait is even still gaming that out as a possibility at this point shows he needs to take a step back.

Purity Test

Nate Silver has an argument from Boris Shor that Scott Brown's record makes him one of the most liberal Republicans in the GOP.
My [Boris's] research, along with Princeton’s Nolan McCarty, allows us to make precisely these comparisons. Essentially, I use the entirety of state legislative voting records across the country, and I make them comparable by calibrating them through Project Votesmart’s candidate surveys.

By doing so, I can estimate Brown’s ideological score very precisely. It turns out that his score is –0.17, compared with [Dede Scozzafava's] score of 0.02. Liberals have lower scores; conservatives higher ones. Brown’s score puts him at the 34th percentile of his party in Massachusetts over the 1995-2006 time period. In other words, two thirds of other Massachusetts Republican state legislators were more conservative than he was. This is evidence for my [Boris's] claim that he’s a liberal even in his own party. What’s remarkable about this is the fact that Massachusetts Republicans are the most, or nearly the most, liberal Republicans in the entire country!

More liberal than Dede Scozzafava, and she was jettisoned from her party for being a heretic.  It doesn't matter what Republican wins in the end, just as long as Democrats lose.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Just for the record, Glenn Beck is a pile.
BECK: I also believe this is dividing the nation…to where the nation sees him react so rapidly on Haiti and yet he couldn’t react rapidly on Afghanistan. He couldn’t react rapidly on Ft. Hood. He couldn’t react rapidly on our own airplanes with an underwear bomber…it doesn’t make sense. [...] Three different events and Haiti is the only one. I think personally that it deepens he divide to see him react this rapidly to Haiti.
Jesus Hell in a breakfast burrito.  Because Haiti is exactly like Crotch Bomber and Ft. Hood, and our seven year plus war in Afghanistan.  No matter what Obama does, it's wrong and he must be attacked.  There's a reason it's called Obama Derangement Syndrome, folks.  This is it.

[UPDATE 5:47 PM] And then there's GOP Rep. Steve King.
“This sounds to me like open borders advocates exercising the Rahm Emanuel axiom: ‘Never let a crisis go to waste,’” Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said in an e-mail message to ABCNews. “Illegal immigrants from Haiti have no reason to fear deportation but if they are deported, Haiti is in great need of relief workers and many of them could be a big help to their fellow Haitians.” 
Stay classy, wingnuts.

Taking Up That Double Dog Dare

Yesterday Scott Brown practically dared Obama to show up, saying "outsiders weren't welcome" in the Massachussets Senate race (while welcoming Rudy Giuliani, oh by the way, the clear message being our first African-American president is the kind of person not welcome in Scott Brown's neighborhood and he's blowing on that dog whistle for all it's worth).

Today, President Obama decided to call Scott Brown's dare.
President Obama plans to visit the state Sunday to campaign for Senate candidate Martha Coakley, according to two senior Democratic officials.

A third Democratic source said that the event with Obama would likely be held in the Boston area, either in the city itself, or in one of two communities where Coakley is scheduled to campaign, Quincy and Framingham.

Additional details were not immediately available. The Globe today outlined the advantages and risks of a presidential visit.

The potential upsides are obvious; Obama won Massachusetts with 62 percent of the vote in 2008, and the glamour and media saturation of a presidential visit, especially at a large rally, would add a jolt of excitement to a campaign that has been seen as lackluster.
Which is true...but the Village has to be the Village.
 But there are risks. If Obama visits Massachusetts and Coakley loses, it would signal that Obama’s ability to motivate rank-and-file Democrats has slipped. It would buoy Republican efforts to take back the House and Senate this fall. And it could fuel criticism that he made a political trip while pressing issues awaited in Washington.
Best part is if Obama didn't show up, the Village would be complaining that Obama was so unpopular that he was hiding from a critical race and had no political capital to spare, and that the White House was adopting a "bunker mentality."

If you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, at least get out there and use the bully pulpit.  Obama wisely has chosen to do so.

Haiti Update, Part 3

Jibing with what I said yesterday, one of Josh Marshall's readers points out that Haiti is now effectively our new Afghanistan (emphasis mine):
We're talking about providing forces in the short term, and funding and training forces in the long term, to provide security in a state that has not functioned in a generation. This will require a willingness to exercise force, and yes, a willingness to accept casualties. We're talking about an ongoing presence measured not in months, but in years. We're talking about a commitment of funds and resources that makes the initial figure of $100 million seem trivial. We're talking about the longterm resettlement of population, reconstruction of institutions and infrastructure, and rethinking of the basic fabric of a state. We've just seen how difficult and costly it can be to build a state in Iraq and in Afghanistan - I don't see how to avoid the conclusion that we have just found ourselves again committed to reconstructing a state.

Even if we do not accept the moral burden, even if we hew closely to the cold calculus of realism, we are obliged to act. It is difficult to imagine that desperation will not force thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, to take to the ocean on anything that will float. Many will drown, but many will reach our shores. If we are too callous to provide aid where it is needed, the disaster will wash up on our shores where we cannot avoid it. ...

I know that it seems to soon to think of this tragedy as perhaps the most important political event of the last year. But we're going to be enmeshed in Haiti at least as long as we are in Iraq or Afghanistan - there's no avoiding that. How this response unfolds, how we structure our responsibilities, whether we choose to assume them alone or through international institutions, what sort of future we design for Haiti - these are vital questions. Ultimately, they are also political questions that will be decided by political actors. And the answers they provide will shape and constrain a wide array of seemingly unrelated policies. It's not to soon, I think, to make that point.
What 7 years of war have done to Afghanistan and Iraq was done to Haiti on one idle Tuesday afternoon.  We are now committed to rebuild Haiti from the ground up.  It will require a coalition of the willing, and billions of dollars and millions of manhours in rebuilding.  Haiti has no infrastructure, no government, no hope at this point.  They are off the map right now.

If we don't rebuild, we will deal with the blowback:  a hostile and angry nation of millions who feel we have abandoned them and left them to die.  We already have a few of those on our hands these days.  The difference is this particular nation won't be 8,000 miles away, but a few hundred.

Guess what?  Whether we like it or not, the stability of Haiti just became the top foreign policy and national security priority of the United States of America in this hemisphere.  We have to make sure Haiti prospers or unafirly or not, we have another Afghanistan on our hands.

If I'm a non-state actor and I wanted to spread anti-Americanism, I'm heading for Port-au-Prince right about now, ya dig?

The Meme Of The Week

Scott Rasmussen is the Jesus Christ of political polling (complete with perfect neutrality and total infallibility), and anyone who says otherwise is wrong.

Except for all the times where Rasmussen is wrong.
Yesterday, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal fell for the same trap, publishing an op-ed by Democratic pollsters — and Fox News contributors — Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen about the “virulent attacks from left-wing bloggers” against Rasmussen:
The reaction against him has been strident and harsh. He’s been called an adjunct of the Republican Party when in fact he has never worked for any political party. Nor has he consulted with any candidates seeking elective office.
The attacks on Rasmussen and Gallup follow an effort by the White House to wage war on Fox News and to brand it, as former White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn did, as “not a real news organization.” The move backfired; in time, other news organizations rallied around Fox News. But the message was clear: criticize the White House at your peril.
The falsity comes from Rasmussen’s official bio. But according to the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity, Rasmussen has in fact been a paid consultant for the RNC and President Bush’s 2004 campaign. He accepted $95,500 and $45,500 from each, respectively, for “survey research.” Also, as Media Matters points out, The Wall Street Journal “failed to identify Caddell and Schoen as Fox News contributors, despite their defense of the network.” Nate Silver has more here on Rasmussen’s polling techniques.
At this point, protecting Scott Rasumssen's polls is more important to the GOP thn coming up with actual ideas to fix the economy.  Stop and think about why the issue is "the economy is in shambles" and the answer is "Rasmussen's polling numbers!"

Nearly Eleven Weeks Of Intolerable Tyranny

As Dave Weigel reminds us, the Dems have had a sixty seat super-majority for all of...four months.
The irony is that if Democrats lose the seat, they will have had a working 60-seat majority for all of four months — much of which was spent with the Senate in recess. They opened the Congress in January with 58 votes, counting the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), not counting Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), whose razor-thin victory was held up by lawsuits from former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). On April 28, 2009, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) switched to the Democratic Party, bringing the Democrats to 59 votes without Franken. When Franken was finally sworn in on into the Senate on July 7, 2009, the badly ailing Kennedy was unable to vote and break filibusters. Kennedy died on Aug.25, 2009, but it took Massachusetts Democrats — who run every aspect of their state government — a full month to pass legislation seating a replacement, Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.). He took office on Sept. 24, 2009. Only then, and only depending on whether Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) was well, did the Democrats have a supermajority.
But those four months have been the worst and most intolerable tyranny of America's two-hundred-plus-year history, apparently.  Do we have enough pitchforks?

Better yet, can we elect to spend the money allocated on pitchforks towards those Nintendo DS brain exercise games for Americans who seem to have forgotten that our economy was broken by the eight years of Republican policies beforehand?

And Now, A Public Service Announcement On The Alternative To Obama

To everyone who seems to have a problem with President Obama enough to completely abandon the Democrats in 2010, here is a reminder about the people that will end up replacing the current Dems from Yggy:
Sarah Palin delves into America’s racial conflicts:
And that double standard is—and that hypocrisy is another reason why so many Americans are quite disgusted with the political games that are played, not only on both sides of the aisle, but in this case, on the left wing, what they are playing with this game of racism and kind of letting Harry Reid’s comments slide, but having crucified Trent Lott for essentially along the same lines[.]
I think this right here shows why it’ll be a generation or two before you see a substantial number of black people voting for the Republican Party. Here’s Palin talking about an issue which is either a pointless partisan sideshow, or else a serious complaint about race in America. But the complaint she offers isn’t a complaint on behalf of African-Americans. It’s a complaint offered on behalf of white southern racists. It’s not that it would be unfair to black people for Reid to remain majority leader rather the problem is that it would be unfair to Trent Lott.
Emphasis is Yggy's.

I understand the need to replace some Democrats with better Democrats.  The current trajectory however is to replace them with even worse Republicans, who will roll back what accomplishments we have managed to achieve with the Democrats we have now.  At some point you have to make a decision about the big picture.  If you're willing to throw Obama overboard now, you will get Sarah Palin and the teabaggers in return.

It really is that simple.

We Come Not To Praise Obama

...but to bury him.  Charlie Cook is already writing the Dems' political obituary ten months before the election.
Honorable and intelligent people can disagree over the substance and details of what President Obama and congressional Democrats are trying to do on health care reform and climate change. But nearly a year after Obama's inauguration, judging by where the Democrats stand today, it's clear that they have made a colossal miscalculation.

The latest unemployment and housing numbers underscore the folly of their decision to pay so much attention to health care and climate change instead of focusing on the economy "like a laser beam," as President Clinton pledged to do during his 1992 campaign. Although no one can fairly accuse Obama and his party's leaders of ignoring the economy, they certainly haven't focused on it like a laser beam.
OK.  That's a valid argument so far as the lack of economic focus.  but remember, it was the Republicans who demanded the stimulus package be scaled back. But here's where Cook goes wrong:
A number of economists expect that unemployment will get worse before it gets better. Even if that prediction is wrong, some analysts estimate that Labor's household employment survey would have to show a net increase of 150,000 jobs a month for 48 straight months for the unemployment rate to drop to just 9 percent.
So you're saying that Obama has failed after 12 months to fix something that will need 48 months to even start to fix.  And it's all the Democrats' fault for failing to fix the worst economy since the Depression in just 12 economy the Dems inherited after a good 30 years of trickle-down, voodoo economics and two wars on top of a financial crisis that nearly destroyed the country.

Got it.  That's totally fair to the Dems.  Let's impeach the f'cker already and let the Republicans run the place some more.  They'll totally create 7 million jobs in 12 months.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

When reality kicks in and Scott Brown loses on Tuesday, the Wingers are already planning to declare war on said reality.

Literally.  Pajamas Media has managed to convince themselves that Brown is winning by 15 points.

In other words, we may have finally reached the Wingularity, an America where a Democrat winning an election in Massachusetts would lead to possible rioting about election tampering.  We'd finally be fully in the evil goatee dimension where a Democrat winning an election in Massachusetts is, to a non-trivial segment of America, a complete impossibility that can only be explained by voter fraud on a galactic scale and worthy of actually taking to the streets.

No matter what the actual results are, this Pajamas Media poll will be the new Wingnut Reality.  Brown ahead by 15.  It'll be Norm Coleman and Al Franken all over again.

You are no match for the Teabagger protopaths who can create solid reality from their own minds and impose that reality on others against their will.

[UPDATE 11:57 AM]  To clarify, we're about to enter an era where any Democratic victory in an election is automatically suspect.  Anywhere in America.  For anything.  And the Village will nod their heads and say "You know, we don't know how Democrats can win either."

Ya dig?

The Kroog Versus The Banksters

Paul Krugman reviews yesterday's testimony on Capitol Hill of the bank CEOs before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Committee.
There were two moments in Wednesday’s hearing that stood out. One was when Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase declared that a financial crisis is something that “happens every five to seven years. We shouldn’t be surprised.” In short, stuff happens, and that’s just part of life.

But the truth is that the United States managed to avoid major financial crises for half a century after the Pecora hearings were held and Congress enacted major banking reforms. It was only after we forgot those lessons, and dismantled effective regulation, that our financial system went back to being dangerously unstable.

As an aside, it was also startling to hear Mr. Dimon admit that his bank never even considered the possibility of a large decline in home prices, despite widespread warnings that we were in the midst of a monstrous housing bubble.

Still, Mr. Dimon’s cluelessness paled beside that of Goldman Sachs’s Lloyd Blankfein, who compared the financial crisis to a hurricane nobody could have predicted. Phil Angelides, the commission’s chairman, was not amused: The financial crisis, he declared, wasn’t an act of God; it resulted from “acts of men and women.”

Was Mr. Blankfein just inarticulate? No. He used the same metaphor in his prepared testimony in which he urged Congress not to push too hard for financial reform: “We should resist a response ... that is solely designed around protecting us from the 100-year storm.” So this giant financial crisis was just a rare accident, a freak of nature, and we shouldn’t overreact.

But there was nothing accidental about the crisis. From the late 1970s on, the American financial system, freed by deregulation and a political climate in which greed was presumed to be good, spun ever further out of control. There were ever-greater rewards — bonuses beyond the dreams of avarice — for bankers who could generate big short-term profits. And the way to raise those profits was to pile up ever more debt, both by pushing loans on the public and by taking on ever-higher leverage within the financial industry.

Sooner or later, this runaway system was bound to crash. And if we don’t make fundamental changes, it will happen all over again.
The best part?  Congressional Dems and Obama's econ team are siding with the banksters.  It's not that I believe in ten years we'll be back in the same boat as 2008, it's that ten years from now, we still won't have recovered to the point where we'll be above where we were in 2008 to qualify as ever have being in a different boat to begin with.

As Steve M. says on the notion that the GOP revival will only last as long as the economy is hurting:
Only last as long as the economy is in the tank? Oh, great -- it's going to be a lost political decade, too.
Dems refuse to do the populist, morally correct, and fiscally correct thing on the economy.  Taxing the banks to reclaim some TARP money isn't going to cut it, guys.  We need to fundamentally restructure our financial system.  Instead we're enshrining Too Big To Fail as fundamental law.

These banksters are vapid idiots.  They couldn't win a popularity contest with the ebola virus.  And yet the Obama guys happily perptuate the same system as before.

The Death Of Liberalism

Got an e-mail this morning from Arcadian, a good friend of mine who's a nice guy, but a self-described "flaming libertarian."  I've known him since college, and I generally respect his arguments.  But even he can't contain himself today with the news that Scott Brown is starting to pull ahead, and he's gaming out the political future.  Here's what he had to say:
"Brown is going to win and win big, and what I don't think you understand is that the Democrats only won in 2008 because they were not Republicans.  The short-sighted will say Brown's victory will be the end of Obama's presidency.  That is effectively true and his agenda will be over but not the point at all, like Clinton Obama will be forced to ask permission of the Republicans, and that is a good thing for the country.  That is a symptom.

Now wiser people will say that Brown's victory will signal the end of the Democrats.  That will also be true but not the point of Brown's election.  That too will be a just a symptom.  The Republicans will control the House in 2011 and will effectively control the Senate as well.  You will see legislation pushed by the Republicans and the people you chastise and call Conservadems.  They will form a new majority bloc in the Senate.  Obama will find himself becoming the President Of No when he is forced to use the veto pen as often as Bush did.  Perhaps like Clinton, Obama will instead pass these laws and earn a second term.  I don't think Obama is that crafty or thick-skinned.  Again this is only a symptom!

Zandar, the truly wise will see Brown's win for what it is.  It is nothing less than the death of liberalism.  This decade will be known for the rollback of government expansion to before the New Deal addicted generations to the government teat.  You bash the Tea Party movement constantly, but what you don't understand is that a large majority of America is sick of government itself, sick of interference, sick of taxes and regulations, sick of being told what to do by bureaucrats.  You're about to witness the beginning of the end of classic liberalism that has dominated this country for nearly 80 years.  I hate to say it old friend but your side is about to lose everything.  America in 2020 will be a much different place than it is today or even from what it was in 1980, 1990 or 2000."
Frankly, Arcadian old buddy, you're counting not only chickens that haven't hatched yet, you're counting chicken ghosts, psuedo-chickens, things with chicken somewhere on the packaging, and even chickens from other dimensions.  The Dems would still have 59 votes, the House and the White House.  And the Republicans are still despised even more than the Dems.

Don't be surprised if the future ain't what it used to be.

The Incredibles: Rise Of The Underminer

OK, even Nate Silver is pissed at the Firebaggers now (emphasis mine):
The website FireDogLake has commissioned a new survey to ask the constituents of Democrat Vic Snyder in the Arkansas 2nd district, one of the most conservative to have voted for health care reform, about about their opinion of the individual mandate. The survey fails to provide context about the individual mandate, and arguably biases the respondent against it through its choice of question wording and question order. Although the survey finds Snyder in a very tough position, it shows little evidence for a further decrease if an individual mandate is adopted as part of health care reform. Let's go through the survey in detail.
And then he does, in typical excruciating Nate Silver "detail-oriented Nate Silver is detail-oriented" fashion, and then comes up with this at the end:
So, for all that work, the poll shows a whopping 4-point decline in Snyder's poll numbers, and a 2-point increase in Griffin's -- not even outside of the margin of error. We don't know how much of that has to do with opposition to the mandate versus the balance of the bill since the poll doesn't unpack them -- they could have asked an additional question or two to tease this out, but they didn't.

And that 4-point decline -- which may or may not be statistically significant and which may or may not have anything to with the individual mandate -- comes only after they'd asked five or six questions in a row that framed the mandate in a negative light, and also reminded people for no particular reason about just happy they are with their coverage in the status quo -- all while using robopolling technology that was never really designed to ask complex sets of policy questions like these.

Great work, guys!

You don't tug on Superman's cape, you don't spit into the wind, you don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger and you don't mess around with Nate Silver on the inherent accuracy of polling methodology and question bias.

FireDogLake, what the hell has happened over there?

Rushing Over A Bridge Too Far

The oldest axiom in the book on Wingnuts like Limbaugh and Beck is that "there's basically nothing they can say that goes too far."  Steve Benen goes over this on El Rushbo's truly hideous commentary on Haiti.
I wonder the same thing, but it simply never happens. On the other side of the ideological divide, when a Democratic lawmaker works with or appears at Netroots Nation, there's ample criticism from the right about Dems associating with "liberal extremists."

And yet, no matter how loathsome a figure Limbaugh becomes, top Republican officials not only reach out to the right-wing talk-show host, but effectively treat him as the de facto head of their political party. Indeed, in the rare instances in which a Republican actually offers subtle disapproval of Limbaugh, they invariably apologize to him and kiss his proverbial ring.

The GOP effectively lets Rush Limbaugh call the shots, and when he says disgusting things, Republicans don't dare disagree with their boss.
But I'm going to argue that this might finally be a bridge too far for Republicans.  Witness the Village pillaging of El Rushbo on Morning Joe Thursday:
This morning, the MSNBC Morning Joe crew took their turns ripping Limbaugh:
– Chuck Todd: “Rush Limbaugh I think lives in South Florida. … Very large Haitian community in South Florida. You would assume he’d have a little more compassion about all of this.
– Joe Scarborough: “The insensitivity is stunning, the words are deplorable. … [It's] indefensible.”
– Pat Buchanan: “They’re deeply insensitive, no doubt about it. I think the President of the U.S. speaks for the country when he stands up there. … I think Rush’s comments were cynical.”
John Harwood then decided to falsely equate Limbaugh’s “mean-spiritedness” with criticism from those on the left. “It’s not just on the right, it’s on the left as well,” Harwood said. Scarborough enthusiastically agreed: “Hate from the left, hate from the right."
Now, losing Chuck Todd and Joe Scarborough is one thing.  But if Pat Buchanan thinks you're an insensitive asshole, you've lost the game, kids.

Honestly.  If Democrats were even remotely intelligent, they would say "Hey, Scott Brown, as a potential U.S. Senator, what do you think about Rush Limbaugh's comments on the President and Haiti?"  He then doubled down on his comments yesterday afternoon:
RUSH: No, I’m not evading it at all. If I said it I meant to say it, and I do believe that everything is political to this president. Everything this president sees is a political opportunity, including Haiti, and he will use it to burnish his credentials with minorities in this country and around the world, and to accuse Republicans of having no compassion. [...
CALLER: [A]re you implying that the Huffington Post as the one and only resource that I [read]? I even watch Fox News once in a while.
RUSH: No, no, no, no, no. I’m not implying that. … What I’m illustrating here is that you’re a blockhead. What I’m illustrating here is that you’re a closed-minded bigot who is ill-informed. … And if you had listened to this program for a modicum of time you would know it. But instead you’re a blockhead. You’re mind is totally closed. You have tampons in your ears. Nothing is getting through other than the biased crap that you read.
Really.  Somebody ask Scott Brown if he thinks that.  Hell, ask any Republican that.  Go on.  Please.  I want to see Republicans defending Rush Limbaugh's comments.  Really.  I do.

StupidiNews Focus

Two StupidiNews items today I feel warrant a closer look because they're related as to why Obama and the Democrats have a major Wall Street problem.  First, Wall Street pulled down record cash in 2009, having an even better year over 2007.
The 38 largest financial institutions on Wall Street will pay out a total of $145.85 billion in compensation for 2009, an 18 percent increase over 2008 and "slightly more than in the record year of 2007," the Wall Street Journal reports.

(By "slightly," the Journal means a 6 percent increase over 2007, amounting to some $8 billion.)

Contrast this with the state of affairs on Main Street, where average earnings increased 2.2 percent in 2009 -- and that number excludes the 7 million jobs lost since the recession began.
So what does Obama plan to do about it?
The president's plan would see the largest institutions bailed out under TARP pay out a total of $90 billion to the government. Only firms that took TARP money, and have more than $50 billion in assets, would be required to pay. That amounts to about 35 US-based companies, with the big-name investment banks, like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, paying the largest share of the fee.

But the banks targeted by the fee are already making sounds suggesting they will fight it tooth and nail. Politico reports that the banks plan to argue that the fee will cost the US economy $1 trillion in lost potential lending -- a questionable claim, given that the fee will at most represent 5 percent of profits at the banks (according to the Journal), and given the overall lack of bank lending since the start of the recession.
Again, this seems like a no-brainer for the Dems.  Most Americans haven't seen a six percent raise over 2007, in fact Americans have seen their hours, benefits, pay and opportunities remain exactly the same or in most cases, cut sharply.  But the problem isn't Obama, it's Democrats in Congress who simply refuse to do anything about it -- Democrats like Chris Dodd.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd has indicated he may consider dropping the Consumer Financial Protection Agency from the financial regulatory overhaul bill he is drafting with members of his panel, according to people familiar with negotiations.

Dodd, 65, may agree to shelve the proposed agency, a priority for the Obama administration, and replace it with a division within another federal agency to help advance the broader bill, said the people, who declined to be identified because negotiations are ongoing. The Wall Street Journal reported the matter earlier, citing people it didn’t identify.
Again this should be a no-brainer.  But the Democrats are the ones who can kill this bill and frankly a bill to really and fully regulate the banks is harder for the Democrats to pass than health care reform.  Dodd is retiring.  He's free to make whatever votes he wants to...but his colleagues in the Senate are not.  They know that without backing of the financials, no candidate can win an election.  Besides, Dodd's going to need a job in January anyway.

America is run by oligarchs, and the biggest of them are the financials.  Digby reminds us why we should fight them, but it may soon be much harder to fight corporate influence on elections.

And that still doesn't solve the perception that the Democrats are even more in the pockets of the banksters than the Republicans were.


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