Friday, February 5, 2010

Last Call

So basically down in day two of the Tea Party Convention ObamaDerangementCon 2010, Joe "Wing Nut Daily" Farah just gave a 20 minute speech on Obama's birth certificate, and how only crack-filled web sites like World Net Daily tell the truth and the crowd ate it up.  C-SPAN is some amazing stuff at times.

Politico's Jon Martin, Washington Independent's Dave Weigel, and several other news blogs and organizations are down in Nashville covering this mess, and the bottom line is if you think Sarah Palin's headline speech tomorrow will be used to denounce crackpots like Joe Farah, you're mad.  Favorite tweet from the speech:

@daveweigel: Holy shit Farah now saying there's more proof about Jesus's birth than Obama's.

I will say this again just to prove a point:  There is no discernible difference between the Teabagger crackpots and the mainstream GOP in 2010.  None.

Remember that.  Your country depends on it.


Just sayin'.

This Is Your Economy On Obama


Republican president, job losses increase. Democratic president, job losses decrease.

Yes, correlation does not equal causation, unless you say, passed a stimulus bill at that February '09 low point there with the intent of decreasing job losses.

Any questions?

How To Win An Argument

Winger:  "Liberals are racists!"

Game-Winning response:  "Tom Tancredo," as HTP tells us:
The Teabagging/Crisco party in Nashville, TN is shaping up to be everything I hoped it would be. Tom Tancredo, the puke puddle that walks like a man, got things rolling when he joyfully threw away his dog whistle and pulled an air horn out of his capacious ass (via Think Progress):
The opening-night speaker at first ever National Tea Party Convention ripped into President Obama, Sen. John McCain and “the cult of multiculturalism,” asserting that Obama was elected because “we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.”
OK. Granted, this is Tom Tancredo, arguably one of the stupidest vertebrates to ever draw breath in the U.S.H.o.R., even if you count the mice. It is possible this steaming butt nugget doesn’t know the sort of tests he mentions were outlawed by an act of Congress when Tom was about 20 years old.

In other words, if we did things Tom’s way, he wouldn’t be allowed to vote.
Hey, why not throw in a poll tax there Tom.  In fact, why not just say "all non-white people can't vote, screw each and every one of them with a roto-rooter."

Republicans don't know what history is before 1980.  I swear half of them think the Earth was created the week before Reagan was elected.

Camera Shy

In the end, the GOP whining about how Obama's lack of transparency is destroying America in secret  is just another giant pile of bullshit.
Senate Republicans don’t have much of an appetite to give President Barack Obama their version of question-and-answer time - not after seeing how Obama handled House Republicans last week.

“We’re always happy to hear from the president but I don’t really feel any compelling need to do it [on camera],” Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the Republicans' chief campaign strategist, told POLITICO.

The White House has suggested that it would like Obama to address the Senate GOP Conference, with TV cameras present. Obama administration officials are eager for voters to see Obama operate in a format he relishes – and handle his former Senate colleagues the same way he did last week to House Republicans at their annual retreat.

Asked about the White House invitation to Senate Republicans, Cornyn said: “For what purpose? Was it for photo op or is it serious? The president can invite Mitch McConnell, John Boehner or anybody he wants for a serious talk about issues.” 
But just not where the American people can see them.  And of course, the GOP hates useless photo ops.  They'd never grandstand or pull a crazy stunt just to make headlines.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

My thoughts on this:
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) appeared on the Daily Show last night to chat with his old friend and roommate Jon Stewart.

Aside from the friendly ribbing and references to incriminating photographs of each other, Weiner took a shot at his healthcare nemesis Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

"My question to you is this: Is [Lieberman] a dick?" Stewart asked.

"Yes, Jon," Weiner jokingly replied. that Weiner wasn't joking.  Neither was Stewart.  That's what makes it funny, of course.  That and the fact that the Hill doesn't get it.  Or maybe they do and they're slyly playing dumb.  Either way, they are referencing Jon Stewart as a viable source of Congressional news, which is a massive problem in and of itself.  Jon Stewart shouldn't be the media's go to guy on Washington interviews.

Good news is it's pissing off some wingers, so mission accomplished!

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Your rundown on the last two months in Obama Derangement Syndrome, courtesy of Stephanie Mencimer at MoJo:
For months, much of the right-wing blogosphere has been fuming about Executive Order 12425, which Obama amended in mid-December. The one-paragraph document grants Interpol, the international law enforcement agency based in France, special privileges within the United States—mainly immunity from the Freedom of Information Act and from lawsuits over activity considered part of its official duties. It's no secret police conspiracy.

But thanks to Glenn Beck, the National Review, Newt Gingrich, and others, this obscure directive has fueled a firestorm of right-wing paranoia. Conservative activists warn that Obama intends to use Interpol as a "secret police" with the power to knock down doors and arrest law-abiding American citizens. No matter that Interpol agents don't even carry guns and have no right to arrest people, or that its American office boasts all of five people. And the hysteria over the executive order is not confined to the Tea Party movement. It has also reached the highest levels of politics—that is, the US Congress.

In January, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) introduced a resolution that would require a repeal of the order. "As a former FBI agent, I believe that giving INTERPOL blanket exemptions is dangerous," Rogers explained in a statement. "This change ties the hands of American law enforcement and prevents full access to information that could be crucial for on-going U.S. investigations related to criminal or national security activity. This is no time to be weakening the ability of law enforcement to defend our nation."

The online backlash to executive order 12425 became so intense that Ron Noble, Interpol's secretary-general, wrote a piece for Newsweek’s website debunking the conspiracy theory. "An executive order cannot legally authorize an unconstitutional act, and this one doesn't even come close," he wrote.

But Noble's appeal for reason isn't likely to quiet the storm. That's because the Obama executive order feeds a thriving narrative on the right about the current administration's nefarious intentions. Ever since Obama took office, certain corners of the Internet have been frothing with speculation that Obama fancies himself a Mobutu-style African dictator who is furtively plotting to use martial law to crush dissent or unrest over his economic policies.

Nutty as this premise sounds, it's proven particularly popular among those who believe that Obama is not an American citizen or who are bitterly opposed to health care reform. The drumbeat has been so loud that a host of state legislators have introduced "state sovereignty" bills declaring their independence from the federal government under the 10th Amendment and threatening to secede in the event that martial law is declared; Sarah Palin even signed one such bill before quitting as governor of Alaska. (A favorite of states' rights proponents, the one-sentence 10th Amendment basically says that any power that isn't specifically granted to the federal government by the Constitution is reserved for the states.)
The only thing Executive Order 12425 proves is that there is no discernable difference between the Teabaggers and the GOP anymore, and that neither can be considered a rational actor.

I know I keep harping on the "rational actor" point.  But they are not. It's far past the time we stopped treating them as such.  The Teabaggers, the Right Wing Noise Machine, and the GOP in Washington are all one and the same now.

A Hole In The No-Zone Layer

Josh Marshall notes that the "Sen. Richard Shelby putting a blanket hold on everything" story has a number of interesting dimensions to it.
For Republicans and the Tea Party set you've got pork-barrel spending and earmarks, two catchwords that are frequently abused and used to paint with too broad a brush but in this case seem pretty fairly to describe a senior senator's power to wrestle tens of billions of federal dollars back into his home state.

For Democrats, there's the outrage at archaic Senate obstructionism which has rapidly escalated from annoying to outrageous to pure comedy with a mind-numbing speed. It's the heart of the story about the demise of Health Care Reform, the slow death of so many unobjectionable nominees and much else.

In this case, we're not dealing with a stand on partisanship or ideology or simple political shiv play which I guess can each be respected in their own place. This is more like just a stick up. Gimme my money and I'll give you your Senate back! Worse than a squeegee man and not much better than a bank robber, Shelby is shutting down the president's ability to appoint anyone to anything until he gets his way. In a sense Shelby's gambit is little different from what countless other senators of both parties have done in the past, using the senate rules to get the White House's attention to pry some money free from the federal government. But the scale is unheard and the moment is different. The only mystery about this one is which is more outrageous -- Shelby's hold or the fact that the rest of the senators of both parties allow it.

Perhaps, like so many other times, this will be today's outrage that is the new normal by tomorrow. But this are volatile times. And I wonder if this isn't the live wire in the gasoline. 
I'm not so sure.  On one hand, Ben Nelson essentially did the same thing with his Cornhusker Kickback and is now paying a steep price for it.  (Actually, all of us are paying a steep price for it.)  But Shelby is betting Alabamans are going to applaud his "I'm getting mine, screw the other 49 states" play here to get jobs and money for his state.  I don't see where or how Shelby is going to pay the price.

The GOP hasn't paid a price so far for massive obstruction at every turn.  In fact, the Democrats have been the ones paying the price.  Besides, Shelby's running unopposed in Alabama this year.  The Dems couldn't even find anyone to run against him.

How can he pay a price until 2016 at the earliest?  By then, it'll be the new normal.

[UPDATE 10:58 AM] The Kroog points out the new normal is "You forgot 17th century Poland."
There’s a precedent for all this. In effect, we’ve now become 17th-century Poland:
… with the rise of power held by Polish magnates, the unanimity principle was reinforced with the institution of the nobility’s right of liberum veto (Latin for “I freely forbid”). If the envoys were unable to reach a unanimous decision within six weeks (the time limit of a single session), deliberations were declared null and void. From the mid-17th century onward, any objection to a Sejm resolution — by either an envoy or a senator — automatically caused the rejection of other, previously approved resolutions. This was because all resolutions passed by a given session of the Sejm formed a whole resolution, and, as such, was published as the annual constitution of the Sejm, e.g., Anno Domini 1667. In the 16th century, no single person or small group dared to hold up proceedings, but, from the second half of the 17th century, the liberum veto was used to virtually paralyze the Sejm, and brought the Commonwealth to the brink of collapse.
“Brink of collapse”: get used to that concept.
Our government is broken.

[UPDATE 12:15 AM]  TPM is reporting that Shelby's office is confirming the holds according to spokesman Jonathan Graffeo:
Graffeo lashed out at Obama's decision to cancel the lab, which he says "impedes" the ability of the military and intelligence agencies in their efforts to fight terrorism.

He said the decision was part of a pattern on the part of the White House to put political concerns over fighting terror. Graffeo also suggested the holds were no big deal.

"The Obama Administration wants to read terrorists our Miranda rights and try them in U.S. courts but is impeding the processing of evidence that could lead to convictions," he said. "If this administration were as worried about hunting down terrorists as it is about the confirmation of low-level political nominations, America would be a safer place."
And he's even playing the patriot card.  Teabaggers will eat this up.  I fully expect Shelby to get everything he wants.  Again, he's guaranteed to be in office until 2017 at this point.  He's running unopposed.  How does he lose here?

Answer:  he's already won.


20K jobs lost in January, but the unemployment rate down to 9.7%.  617,000 additional jobs lost in 2009 from downward revision in figures.  The reality is a bunch of Americans fell out of the labor force calculations as they've simply stopped looking for work, and BLS redid their benchmark stats.  2.5 million Americans have fallen out of the labor pool since this time last year.  This of course means the unemployment rate has gone down since these 2.5 million people out of work are no longer counting against the rate.

Hence the fall in the unemployment rates is ledger domain legerdemain.  The big clue?  U-6 down from 17.3% to 16.5% at the new scale "seasonally adjusted".  Unadjusted?  Shot up to 18.0%.  (Unadjusted U-3?  10.6%.  Scary as hell.)

There's your alarm bells, kids.  We took it in the pants last month.  There's your real unemployment rate. Eighteen percent and rising.

And 2010 will continue to get worse.

[UPDATE 9:15 AM] The Kroog reminds us that economics is not an exact science, especially with unemployment numbers being really just nifty statistical guesses.  Also, Tyler Durden flags those same unadjusted U3 and U6 figures and notes they are record highs.

Not good at all.

Suddenly Sonia Times Two

ABC News is reporting that the White House is preparing to handle not one, but two possible retirements from the Supreme Court over the next few months.
Court watchers believe two of the more liberal members of the court, justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, could decide to step aside for reasons of age and health. That would give the president his second and third chance to shape his legacy on the Supreme Court.

Last week, when Obama took the nearly unprecedented step of criticizing the court's opinion in a major campaign finance case during his State of the Union speech, some believed he was showcasing for the American people that presidential elections, and Supreme Court nominations count.

"With all due deference to separation of powers," the president said, " last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests -- including foreign corporations -- to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

Doug Kendall, of the progressive Constitutional Accountability Center, said the president's message was clear: "President Obama's spirited reaction to Citizens United at the State of the Union indicates he fully understands the importance of the federal judiciary and the ability of the Supreme Court to stand in the way of his administration's agenda."

Kendall hopes Obama's dressing down of the majority will translate into greater attention to the judicial nomination and confirmation process.

Although five of the six justices who attended the speech sat poker faced when Obama made his comments, Justice Samuel Alito, who voted with the majority, reacted by shaking his head in irritation.

If a justice from the conservative block like Alito were to would retire, there could be a seismic shift on the court, likely giving Obama the chance to reverse the court's majority voting bloc. But speculation has centered on the liberal end of the bench.
And therein lies the problem.  As HuffPo's Sam Stein pointed out last year, at least one Senate Republican has to vote to allow any nominee to pass the Judiciary Committee, and it would take 60 votes in the overall Senate to beat that block.  The Republicans could in fact completely filibuster any pick.  They didn't on Sonia Sotomayor.  But 2009 wasn't an election year either, and Arlen Specter's party swap gave the Dems 60 votes.  That's no longer the case now.

It's entirely possible that the GOP will demand conservative Alito/Roberts style justices or they will simply filibuster the proceedings for months or longer.  They don't care.  Why not simply force a 7-person court (and get 4-3 rulings on everything with the Roberts/Alito/Thomas/Scalia bloc) until the GOP gets a President in to replace Ginsberg and Stevens with even more conservatives?  Why would the GOP not want to shut down the Judiciary at this point to continue their Tyranny of the Minority?

I'm no parliamentarian or legal expert, but it seems to be I've been right when I've said time and time again that the GOP has no shame and will see this government burn before giving Barack Obama any victories.  By making sure government can't work and blaming the people in charge, the Republicans gain power.  Since the Democrats still treat the Republicans as rational actors, the GOP wins again and again.

So somebody tell me why won't this turn into another GOP victory?  The Teabaggers are talking about bringing back literacy tests and other voting requirements to disenfranchise millions.  The GOP leader in the House says there's no difference between the GOP and the Teabaggers.  They are insane and will demand wholeheartedly that the GOP prevent anyone even remotely sane from reaching the bench.

You think Joe Biden will fix the filibuster rules?  Forget about it.  The Dems will fold again and again on this.  Have they passed health care reform?  Repealed DADT?  Reined in the banks that cost us trillions?  They've done a lot, but on the really important stuff they've dropped the ball.  And none of it will get done until the Dems agree that the Republicans have abdicated their responsibility to govern and would rather destroy America and its people than to allow a Democrat to improve anything for anyone.

This will be no different.  Watch.


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