Friday, January 29, 2010

Last Call Plus

Entire Right Wing Noise Machine:  "In our continuing effort categorically dismissing everything the President had to say to House Republicans as useless background noise, should we call him Angry Black Man or simply be respectful and refer to him as Arrogant Black Man?"

[UPDATE 11:40 PM] Insomnia Bonus Update!

Marc Ambinder tweets:
"As a journalist who covered the Edwards campaign in '08, who heard the rumors, I didn't do my job well either."
I got news for you, dude.  You're still not doing your job now a good 90% of the time.  Douchebag.

Last Call

Obama to GOP:  "I got your TelePrompTer right here."

My God, it was glorious.  Our political discourse has gone so far down the crapper that even a simple Q&A session between the two parties becomes manna in the desert.  Hey White House?  Find a way to make this a regular event.  Include the Senate.  Include at least one Democrat who has some tough goddamn questions for the man.  And then let Obama fight his fight.

You want to change the way Washington works?  Start with this.  Make this work.  Dare the GOP to do this again.

America needs this.  America needs to see Washington leaders having a normal discussion like human beings, man.

Do it.

Off To Watch The Show

MSNBC has Olbermann and Maddow on tonight with Tweety doing a two-hour special on today's Obama Asskicking.

Go watch.  I am.

If You Want To Help, Try Getting A Better Copy Editor

Steve M. catches the GOP being the Party Of So Last Year (literally) as at today's GOP House Asskicking By Obama that ol' Orange John hands Obama the GOP Manual:
BOEHNER: ... We've compiled the summaries of [our] alternatives into a document that we call, appropriately, "Better Solutions." ... So, Mr. President, I'm pleased today to present you with a copy of our "Better Solutions." ...

Now, could that be the one Stephen Colbert described last night as containing a mere nine pages of solutions, "along with stock photography and the kinds of generous margins usually reserved for eight-grade term papers"? Well, no -- the handbook available here is newer. It's dated today and is a whopping thirty pages long (though that includes cover, back cover, and a six-page list of economists who back the GOP's ideas). The margins are narrow and there are no pictures.

However, I can't help noticing that this oh-so-timely proposal mocked last night by Colbert...

... is still in there:

All heart, these Republicans. I hope the president enjoys his reading.
Well to be honest, Steve...Republicans can't really read, so I'm sure they missed it all too.  Me, I can save the GOP some money next time they go down to FedEx Kinko's:
The GOP plan on the economy:
  1. Cut taxes on the rich.
  2. ???
  3. A rising tide lifts all boats.
Fin.  Exeunt.

Snowe Job, Part 9

She's baaaaaack.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Friday that she has been in conversation with Democrats and Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus about a way forward on health care reform.

"I have talked with several of my Democratic colleagues, including the chairman of the Finance Committee, just sorting through these issues, and the process, and what will unfold," Snowe told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC Friday afternoon. "Hopefully, [Democrats] will take measure of what needs to happen now, build some support, those things can happen so that it's not [so] breathtakingly expansive that [it] creates consternation by the American people at a time will can ill-afford intrinsic costs."

But Snowe made it very clear she could not support any form of a bill that came through the reconciliation process—a legislative move she called "wrong and untenable."
Only the great part this time around is A) nobody needs her support for anything that comes out of reconciliation, and B) nobody gives a damn what she thinks anymore.

Don't hold your breath on Obama calling you back, dearie.

Epic All Publicity Is Good Publicity Win

The only thing better than the publicity from paying $2.5 million for a Super Bowl ad is having your Super Bowl ad turned down because you're a gay dating website, and getting even more publicity over several days for free.
Super Bowl network CBS rejected an ad Friday from, a gay dating Web site.

"After reviewing the ad, which is entirely commercial in nature, our standards and practices department decided not to accept this particular spot," said CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs. "We are always open to working with a client on alternative submissions."

CBS said it turned down the ad partly for financial reasons, but ManCrunch believes that there's more to it than that.

"It's straight-up discrimination," said Elissa Buchter, spokeswoman for the Toronto-based dating site.

Jacobs of CBS declined to comment on the charge of discrimination.
It sucks to see that CBS was going to turn this down.  EPIC FAIL for CBS.  But the free press from this is gonna be worth a hell of a lot more than $2.5 million, and ManCrunch didn't have to pay a dime for it.

EPIC WIN for them.

The Return Of The King

Obama goes into the House Republican retreat, Republicans figure they've got him in the lion's den and they can televise him getting his ass kicked live with no TelePrompTer.

Only the complete opposite of that happened.
President Obama defended his health care plan Friday as centrist but said Republicans had presented it as "some Bolshevik plot" and called on lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to stop demonizing each other.

"We've got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality," he said, speaking to House Republicans at their annual retreat in Baltimore.

"If the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me."

He said even Republicans who vote with the Obama administration become politically vulnerable in their own base.

"You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion," he said.

Obama said Republicans and Democrats both need "to think about tone" in debate.

"This is part of what's happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do."

Obama said he has embraced some GOP approaches on health care. "When you say I ought to be willing to accept Republican ideas on health care, let's be clear -- I have. Bipartisanship, not for its own sake, but to solve problems," he said.

"From the start, I sought out and supported ideas from Republicans. I even talked about an issue that has been a holy grail for a lot of you, which was tort reform, and said that I'd be willing to work together as part of a comprehensive package to deal with it. "
Obama walks in there and just pummels the crap out of them.  Live.  In color.  This is the Obama we needed to see time and time again, the smashmouth Obama that kicked McCain's ass in the debates up and down, the one that called out the endless bullshit from the GOP.  It was so bad for the Wingers that FOX News bailed on the event halfway through.

Welcome back, Obama I Voted For.  I've missed you.  Now get this stuff passed.

[UPDATE 1:58 PM] The Village Sensible Centrists are going to squee themselves to death over this display of bipartisan outreach.  The progressives are still squeeing because Obama punched most of the GOP in the mouth and then turned around and went out of his way to acknowledge the few serious Republicans who did have good health care ideas, like Rep. Paul Kirk.  And the Wingers are going to be pissed.

Of course, FOX News cut away before the second half of the event where Obama really lit up the of course to them it never happened.  Even better, Karl Rove's on completely ignoring the President's Q&A session and attacking him anyway.  The most trusted name in Obama Derangement Syndrome.  They Report, You Decide They Are Morons.

[UPDATE 3:21 PM] Transcript of the speech and the Q&A session.  As BooMan notes, the exchange between Obama and Rep. Jeb Hensarling is an outright classic.  Obama roflstomps the guy.

[UPDATE 3:36 PMSteve Benen wraps it up:
I'm reasonably certain I've never seen anything like it. GOP House members were fairly respectful of the president, but pressed him on a variety of policy matters. The president didn't just respond effectively, he delivered a rather powerful, masterful performance.

It was like watching a town-hall forum where all of the questions were confrontational, but Obama nevertheless just ran circles around these guys. I can only assume caucus members, by the end of the Q&A, asked themselves, "Whose bright idea was it to invite the president and let him embarrass us on national television?"

Note, however, that this wasn't just about political theater -- it was an important back-and-forth between the president and his most forceful political detractors. They were bringing up routine far-right talking points that, most of the time, simply get repeated in the media unanswered. But in Baltimore, the president didn't just respond to the nonsense, he effectively debunked it.

Republicans thought they were throwing their toughest pitches, and Obama -- with no notes, no teleprompter, and no foreknowledge -- just kept knocking 'em out of the park.
Amen. Best performance from Obama since he took office.  I've been saying that the President needed to use the bully pulpit to get his message out, unfiltered, and do so in a way that debunks the Village GOP talking points.  Today was exactly what he needed and what America needed.

More.  Please.   Make this a regular feature.

He Got It His Way

Well, at least Scott Roeder made it easy on the jury by confessing on the witness stand to killing Dr. George Tiller.  Took less than an hour to convict the asshole.
A Kansas jury deliberated just 40 minutes before convicting an anti-abortion activist of first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of an abortion provider.

The jury found Scott Roeder, 51, guilty of gunning down Dr. George Tiller, who operated a clinic in Wichita where late-term abortions were performed. Roeder, 51, faces life in prison when he is sentenced on March 9.

Tiller's family said the jury reached a "just" verdict.

"At this time we hope that George can be remembered for his legacy of service to women, the help he provided for those who needed it and the love and happiness he provided us as a husband, father and grandfather," the family said in a written statement. 
Have a nice day.  Say, when the punishment phase of this shindig, anyway?  Can we come up with some far more creative things other than just killing the guy?  That what he wants, you be a martyr.

Secret Agent Pimp's Secret Plan

James "Secret Agent Pimp" O' Keefe has released a statement about his arrest, but he's not going down easy as Dave Weigel notes.
James O’Keefe has issued a statement on his arrest in Louisiana, portraying himself as a maligned investigative journalist who was merely trying to see whether the phones worked in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-La.) office.
I learned from a number of sources that many of Senator Landrieu’s constituents were having trouble getting through to her office to tell her that they didn’t want her taking millions of federal dollars (sic) in exchange for her vote on the healthcare bill.  When asked about this, Senator Landrieu’s explanation was that, “Our lines have been jammed for weeks.”  I decided to investigate why a representative of the people would be out of touch with her constituents for “weeks” because her phones were broken.  In investigating this matter, we decided to visit Senator Landrieu’s district office – the people’s office – to ask the staff if their phones were working.
I noted an error in the statement — the controversy is not over whether Landrieu is “taking millions of federal dollars,” but why the Senate added $300 million in Medicaid subsidies that stood to benefit Louisiana. That’s a legitimate issue — O’Keefe, trying to clear the air, bends it into a bribery smear. That, and his use of the statement to demand retractions from “reporters who can’t get their facts straight,” indicate that he’s going to fight this out.
So, if I've got this straight, the guy caught trying to break into a Senator's office after attempting to manufacture a completely fabricated gotcha story by sabotaging the office phones in order to try to sway her vote is now saying that we should completely trust him, because it pales to the crime of the Senator "taking millions of federal dollars".

Right. "Trust me!"  Worked for Bush.

Behold The Power Of Eugene Robinson

The Think Progress crew points out the "liberal Washington Post" is full of...not...liberals on the op-ed page.
In an online chat earlier this week, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz defended Fox News’ conservative orientation by saying there is a “distinction” between Fox’s opinion shows and news programming. “Just as you have to make a distinction between The Post’s news pages and its left-leaning editorial page,” said Kurtz. As Jamison Foser pointed out at the time, the idea that the Post’s op-ed pages are “left-leaning” is laughable. As if to prove that point today, the Post’s op-ed page features columns by two former Bush speechwriters, “Obama’s biggest critic,” and a former National Review editor:

Washington Post opinion page 1/29/10

Chuckles, George Will...yeah, those guys are totally Dirty F'ckin Hippies. Either that, or Gene Robinson is the most powerful liberal in the Known Multiverse, and he completely requires all of these half-assed knuckleheads just to balance him out.  One Gene has the fiber of ten bowls of Chuckles.  He's Total Raisin Bran.

Come to think of it, that explains it completely.

Prioritizing The Disaster

NY Times:
The White House on Thursday signaled the outlines of its strategy for breaking the partisan logjam holding up President Obama’s agenda, saying Democrats would move quickly to underline their commitment to fixing the broken economy and to build an election-year case against Republicans if they do not cooperate.

With Mr. Obama’s health care overhaul stalled on Capitol Hill, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said in an interview that Democrats would try to act first on job creation, reducing the deficit and imposing tighter regulation on banks before returning to the health measure, the president’s top priority from last year.

But Mr. Obama quickly got a taste of how difficult it would be to bring the opposition party on board. 
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Or is that the definition of abject stupidity?  Really guys?  Deficit reduction and working with the GOP comes before health care?  And you think you're going to get this passed?

[UPDATE 10:41 AM] Bob Cesca's optimism is almost equaled by the painful truth.
It's easy to freak out these days. I'm as guilty as anyone. But I simply can't see the Democrats failing to pass healthcare reform. Democrats would lose their majorities. Republicans would take over and, eventually, they would do the only thing they could accomplish in a completely gridlocked government: investigating and impeaching the president. And before you chastise me for being over-the-top, remember the 1990s.

But that's all political. Failing to pass healthcare reform will succeed in killing 44,000 Americans every year. It's always worth reinforcing that Democratic failure would mean a new 9/11 every month. Unacceptable.
Agreed. Unacceptable.  But by that math, we've already lost 22,000 Americans thanks to the Dems no passing this damn bill.  That should infuriate the living hell out of all of us.

The Domestic Product Is Gross

The 4th quarter GDP numbers are in: 5.7% growth annualized in the last three months of 2009.  The bad news, 2.5% of that (more than half) was just companies not liquidating inventory.  The good news, well, that's two quarters of positive growth, right?  Recession over?  Recovery underway?  Everything's fine, right?
Foreclosures probably will reach 3 million this year, surpassing the record of 2.82 million in 2009, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc. That would more than offset an estimated 448,000-unit rise in home sales, based on the average forecast of the National Association of Realtors, the Mortgage Bankers Association and Fannie Mae.

The housing industry remains a challenge for Obama as he enters his second year of office and government assistance programs near expiration. Data this week showed home sales tumbled after the expected end of an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers boosted transactions the prior month.

“The housing market is still on life support, and if government measures are withdrawn too quickly it could sink it, taking the economy down with it,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “Households have such high debt loads, in addition to their mortgages, that any reduction in income, including a job loss, could trigger a foreclosure.”

Employers have cut more than 7 million jobs in the last two years, the biggest employment loss since the Great Depression. The U.S. jobless rate probably will average 10 percent in 2010, according to the median estimate of 59 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. That would be the highest yearly rate in government records dating to 1948. Unemployment was 9.3 percent in 2009, the most in 26 years. 
Oh yeah.  That whole "second half of the recession where a jobless recovery knocks us into another downturn in an already broken economy, resulting in an economic depression" thing.  That.

Yeah, that may be a problem.  Even more than a jobs bill and health care reform, we need cramdown legislation.  Now.  Immediately if not sooner.

Greece Is The Word

Greek gyros, Greek history, Greek tourism, and now Greek debt.
European Union policy makers have no “plan B” to help Greece, the bloc’s top economic official said, and Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said he’s not aware of talks of a possible rescue.

“There is no bailout problem,” Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. “Greece will not default. In the euro area, default does not exist.”

Greek bonds have slumped on speculation the country will need help from the EU to cut the region’s highest budget deficit and tame its rising debt. Prime Minister George Papandreou yesterday said Greece is being victimized by rumors in financial markets and he denied seeking to borrow from European partners.

Papaconstantinou, in an interview today, said he has no knowledge of any EU bailout talks and promised deeper budget cuts if needed. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told reporters in Davos that Greece, while “not alone” in the euro area, must deliver on its budget-cut pledges.

Almunia dismissed as “sensationalist” newspaper reports that the euro region was discussing options to bail out Greece. Officials in Berlin and Paris yesterday rejected reports that bailout talks were under way. 
Everything is fine with Greece, why do you ask?  We're not bailing anybody out. Things aren't falling apart in southern Europe economically!  Everything's great!
Greek unions representing civil servants plan a strike for Feb. 10 to protest austerity measures in the plan, which includes a state-hiring freeze this year and a wage cap for public workers earning more than 2,000 euros a month. The plan calls for a 10 percent cut in benefits for state employees and in operating expenditures at all ministries.

Greek tax collectors, who are key to the government’s plan to raise revenue though a crackdown on evasion, plan to approve four strikes at a meeting next week, union head Yannis Grivas said. 
What could possibly go wrong?

And That Case Of Depends

Looks like Obama is folding on trying KSM in Lower Manhattan, as NYC Mayor Bloomberg says "You know, we're going to need a lot of money and a lot of massive security for this, and we expect you to pay for it."  The plan:  find somewhere else.
A decision to move the Sept. 11 trial from Manhattan would be a retreat by the administration from its calculated choice in November to bring the defendants to a courthouse just blocks from where the World Trade Center stood.

The dispute over a trial location, touched off when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York complained of costs and disruption, threatened to reopen the divisive question of how those accused of plotting the murder of more than 3,000 Americans should be brought to justice.

Republicans in the Senate and House said they would try to block financing for civilian criminal trials for the alleged terrorists, seeking to force the administration to place them on trial before a military commission in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, or on a military base elsewhere.

Opponents of civilian trials said they hoped new doubts about a New York trial and increased fears of terrorism since the attempted airliner bombing on Christmas Day would win more Democratic support for such measures.

The apparent collapse of what had seemed since November to be a settled decision to hold the trial in Lower Manhattan was clear when New York’s senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat, said on Thursday that he was encouraging the Obama administration “to find suitable alternatives.”
The political and economic reality is that idiotic Republican posturing aside,  Obama has significantly less political capital now than he did back in November or even October.  He's saving his fight for health care, not trying KSM in NYC.

At least...that's what the White House is saying.  Whether or not that's what the White House is doing is another thing.  But the real problem is that this was a settled decision, and it's Chuck Schumer throwing Obama under the bus on this one.  Perhaps this is Schumer's price to get him to go along on sidecar reconciliation.  With this administration and this Congress, who knows.

[UPDATE 9:17 AM] Double G wisely tweets that the location of the trial doesn't really matter, as long as it's a real trial and not a military tribunal.


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