Friday, February 12, 2010

Last Call

Should the US ever get another Olympic Games again, the second somebody pitches the idea to sing half the National Anthem in Spanish (like Canada did tonight with half their National Anthem in French) will cause a massive Teabagger riot.

Then again, the only way we'll ever get another Olympic games again ever is if we somehow become a progressive country, stop thorwing wars against Islam, and deal with the Teabaggers in the first place.

Moot point, I suppose.

Rolling Out The New Product Line

Talk about your Friday Night News Dump before the Winter Suprisingly Early Spring Olympics dominate world coverage tonight and this weekend...
The biggest offensive of the war by NATO troops in Afghanistan should be under way now, military officials say.

The operation targets what they call the last Taliban stronghold in a war-scarred southern province.

Military officials said the offensive—dubbed Operation Moshtarak—was scheduled to be under way at 2 a.m. (4:30 p.m. ET Friday).

Some of about 15,000 troops from the United States, Afghanistan and Canada were to attack Taliban targets in and around Marjah, a city of 80,000 to 100,000 where the Taliban has set up a shadow government, coalition military authorities said.

The coalition says its troops expect to confront up to 1,000 entrenched Taliban fighters. It expects foreign Taliban fighters to battle to the death but is prepared for local Taliban members in Marjah to try to escape.

“We will follow the enemies and bring them to justice,” said Gen. Mohiyiden Ghori of the Afghan National Army.
Obama's Fallujah is now go.  Not even Dick Cheney could have worked the timing on this any better.  America's worried about jobs and the economy, the Olympics will rule the international space, and domestically Obama's pushing the jobs bill and the health care summit.  They even had time to telegraph the coming slaughter days before as a trial balloon, and nobody noticed.

Well played, Team Obama.  Well played.

Quote Of The Week

K-Drum on the Right Wing Noise Machine efforts to kill banking reform:

And that, boys and girls, is how the game is played.  Just portray a bill meant to rein in banks as a bill meant to bail out banks and see if the noise machine plays along. If it doesn't, try something else. Maybe suggest that instead of protecting consumers, it will remove consumer protections. Or that instead of regulating derivatives, it will set them free. Simple. Why bother making up complicated lies when simple ones will do just fine?
Agreed.  The best lies are the boldest and the simplest.  There's a reason why Bush's Orwellian double-speak was so successful.  War is peace.  Freedom is slavery.  Reforms are bailouts.

When the corporate owned media is complicit in the crime, who is left to even know a crime is committed?

Burn All The Bridges

Bloomberg's David Reilly has some advice for the President:  Piss everybody off.  He's got some good advice:  tell the banks to screw off and make their lives miserable and jettison Timmy, Larry Summers, and Rahmbo.  But his leading piece of advice is this misguided trope:

-- Bring congressional Democrats to heel with a Sister Souljah moment.

Such an action is named for former President Bill Clinton’s putdown of hate speech by a rapper -- and, by extension, the far-left wing of the Democratic Party. Clinton’s move was designed to appeal to centrist voters.

For his Sister Souljah moment, Obama needs to pick a particularly egregious action by his erstwhile allies on Capitol Hill and then use a veto, or the threat of one, to show congressional Democrats he is in charge, not them. 
Yeah, depress the base even further.  Tell those dirty rotten hippies to screw themselves.  Great idea in a year where there's a enthusiasm gap.  You see, the Village Bipartisanship Clause says you can't punish the people responsible for the mess over the last decade without taking shots at the liberals who have done...basically nothing in the last ten years.  What power have they wielded where the Senate was full of Joe Libermans, Ben Nelsons, Evan Bayhs and Blanche Lincolns?  They had the power to get things done in the House only to see bills die in the Senate.

For this, Obama has to go veto something to show those hippies what for.  They might start thinking Obama might pass progressive legislation that people actually want, like a public option for health care insurance or repealing DADT.

He'd have to get something through Congress first however before he can threaten to veto it.  That's kind of the problem, if you haven't noticed there, Dave.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Poison dragon lipstick.

And yes, it has Sarah Palin and explosives in it.  The mind of a Teabagger is a dark and scary place, folks.

Haiti: One Month In

It's hard to believe it's been a month since the Haiti earthquake.  Death toll numbers are upwards of 200,000 and a full third of Port-au-Prince's 3 million are homeless.  Today, the people of Haiti gathered to mourn as relief organizations shift into the next stage of the assistance efforts.
Relief operations are improving day by day, a spokeswoman for the International Rescue Committee told CNN on Friday.

"Things [supplies] are moving now, and they are arriving to populations. The bottleneck has really, really decreased," Aisha Bain said.

"About a month ago, when this quake destroyed the infrastructure of Haiti, it was very complicated to get aid in," she said. Now, "the ports and airports aren't at full capacity, but things are arriving and getting to populations. There is much more to be done, but food is coming in."

Food distribution areas are set up around the capital, she said.

Haiti's rainy season is approaching, and the hurricane season will begin June 1. Bain said the organization is gearing up to provide sufficient sanitation.

"We ... are working on a large-scale buildup of providing clean water, latrines, showers, hand-washing stations, which affect not only the livelihoods of basic survival but, really, health. There's a massive concern of the possible outbreak of disease, and so we are working to combat that quickly."
Again, the outlook here is of months and years, not weeks and days.  We will be in Haiti for a very long time.


Sarah Palin.  Being attacked from the right.  For being a GOP corporate stooge.  It's like a York Peppermint Patty just exploded in my head.
A prominent Tea Party leader from Texas is warning that the movement "is becoming nothing more than a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party," and slamming Sarah Palin as representing "a growing insider's attack to the heart of the Tea Party."

Dale Robertson, the founder of, is just the latest Tea Partier to express concern that the movement is being hijacked by the GOP.

In a lengthy statement -- entitled "Warning: Tea Party In Danger" -- posted yesterday on the homepage, Robertson instructs his felllow Tea Partiers to "[b]e alert to turncoats and deceivers being herded into the Tea Party by usurpers from the weakened Republican Party for the sole purpose of capturing our populist movement." 
Yes.  Excellent.  Fight for your master.  He desires...entertainment.

Look folks, the Teabaggers aren't real happy with the GOP either.  They actually figured out Bush and his GOP buddies expanded the government by trillions.  They don't trust the GOP to fix our problems either.  They're not happy about these corporate stooges trying to claim their freedom, or whatever.

This is going to get good here.

Politico Suicide

Jason Linkins At HuffPo:
As a part of its ongoing effort to retain exclusive brand licensing rights to a word that's been a part of the English language since the early seventeenth century, Politico has ordered a British website called Tory Politico to stop using the word "politico," because -- who knows? Maybe you might accidentally end up at the latter site and become confused as to why your favorite Beltway press-release mill has suddenly become obsessed with Parliament and Gordon Brown and Torchwood or something?
Oh really?

I got dibs on the word "The" in blogs everywhere.  Pay up, assholes.  It's right there in the title.

Boycotting Politico links until they get their heads out of their asses.

Also, new blog title for a while.  Neener, assmunches.

[UPDATE 11:53 AMBob Cesca wins the internet.  Period.

Muzzled And Puzzled

Today's must read is Tim Dickinson's column in Rolling Stone on how Team Obama swept its grassroots operations aside to instead make backroom deals with Congress...and got us into the current mess we're in.
As a candidate swept into office by a grass-roots revolution of his own creation, Obama was poised to reinvent Washington politics, just as he had reinvented the modern political campaign. Obama and his team hadn't simply collected millions of e-mail addresses, they had networked activists, online and off — often down to the street level. By the end of the campaign, Obama's top foot soldiers were more than volunteers. They were seasoned organizers, habituated to the hard work of reaching out to neighbors and communicating Obama's vision for change.

As president, Obama promised to use technology to open up the halls of power and keep the American people involved. "If you want to know how I'll govern," he said, "just look at our campaign." His activists wouldn't just be cheerleaders; they would be partners in delivering on his mandate, serving as the most fearsome whip Washington had ever seen. "At the end of the campaign, we entered into an implied contract with Obama," says Marta Evry, who served as a regional field organizer in California for the campaign. "He was going to fight for change, and we were going to fight with him."

The problems started before Obama was even elected. While his top advisers worked for months to carefully plot out a transition to governing, their plan to institutionalize its campaign apparatus was as ill-considered as George Bush's invasion of Iraq. "There was absolutely no transition planning," says Micah Sifry, the co-founder of techPresident, a watchdog group that just published a special report on OFA's first year. In what Sifry decries as a case of "criminal political negligence," Obama's grass-roots network effectively went dark for two months after Election Day, failing to engage activists eager for their new marching orders. "The movement moment," he says, "was lost."

The blame, insiders say, rests squarely with Plouffe. "That was totally Plouffe's thing," a top member of the president's inner circle recalls of the transition planning. "It really was David."

By that point, at the end of the campaign, Plouffe had his eyes on the exit. He was gaunt, exhausted. His wife was about to give birth to their second child. He needed a break. "There was no question of my joining the administration," he recounts in his memoir. So Plouffe, in a truly bizarre call, decided to incorporate Obama for America as part of the Democratic National Committee. The move meant that the machinery of an insurgent candidate, one who had vowed to upend the Washington establishment, would now become part of that establishment, subject to the entrenched, partisan interests of the Democratic Party. It made about as much sense as moving Greenpeace into the headquarters of ExxonMobil.

Steve Hildebrand, Obama's deputy campaign manager, tried to dissuade Plouffe. "The DNC is a political entity," he says. "Senators who you are going to need to put significant pressure on to deliver change — like Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who was opposed to health care reform — are voting members of the DNC. It limited how aggressive you could be." Hildebrand pushed Plouffe to make "Obama 2.0" an independent nonprofit, similar to FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, the right-wing instigators of the Tea Party uprising. Free from the party apparatus, Hildebrand argued, the group could raise unlimited funds and "put enough pressure on conservative Democrats to keep them in line."
Only now is Plouffe back, and only in the last month since the Coakley loss has Team Obama finally started to turn around the ship.  But the damage has already been done.  The super-majority has been lost.  Obamacare is on life support.  Cap and trade and immigration are non-starters, repealing DADT is in administrative limbo just like closing Gitmo, and the only think keeping Obama afloat right now is the fact that America still hates the GOP more and still blames them for most of the mess.

But yes, throwing away the Obama grassroots operation was arguably Obama's biggest mistake.  I'm glad to see Plouffe back and the OFA machine running again.  But it should have been running all year. Assuming the beltway was the solution to a national image game that the GOP was winning was a rookie mistake and one that is costing all of us dearly.

The damage still hasn't been calculated.

A FOX Guarding The Big Dog's House

FOX And Friends does love to scare the hell out of people, and devoted time today to the lovely lie that under Obamacare, people wouldn't get the heart stent procedure that President Clinton got yesterday because under Horrible Socialist Health Care, government bureaucrats would decide that saving your heart was too expensive and let you get a bandaid and a punch to the ventricle to try to unclog your valves or something.

Conservatives have long used comparative effectiveness research (CER) to further their claim that health care reform would ration treatments based on cost, impose a one-size-fits-all standard for medicine, and keep doctors from prescribing more expensive and effective procedures. But this line of thinking misunderstands the purpose of CER and ignores legislative language that specifically prohibits the government from applying research findings to coverage decisions. CER is a recommendation, not a mandate. (See pg. 1652 of the Senate bill or pg. 769 of the House bill).

Rather than making arbitrary decisions based on cost, CER — which compares clinical outcomes of alternative therapies used to manage the same condition — would provide doctors with unbiased information about the most effective treatments, help doctors and patients make better informed decisions, and improve the quality of care. Properly conducted CER will actually promote faster adoption of personalized care, not one-size-fits all medicine.

As Alan Garber of Stanford and Sean Tunis of the Center for Medical Technology Policy point out, “far from impeding personalized medicine, CER offers a way to hasten the discovery of the best approaches to personalization, providing more and better information with which to craft a management strategy for each individual patient.”

Indeed, CER could have actually improved treatment for heart disease by exposing harmful procedures and informing health care providers about best practices. The course of treatment, however, will always be left to the patient and their doctor. 
But no, FOX will lie about it and try to scare Americans instead of telling the truth about the health care bill.  the reason why people don't like the bill is because for the last year, FOX has been flat out lying about the bill's contents.   Of course, that's FOX's entire agenda.

The Message War

Americans aren't happy with Obama, but they still side with him over Bush and the Republicans.
While the president is showing signs of vulnerability on his handling of the economy — a majority of respondents say he has yet to offer a clear plan for creating jobs — Americans blame former President George W. Bush, Wall Street and Congress much more than they do Mr. Obama for the nation’s economic problems and the budget deficit, the poll found.

They credit Mr. Obama more than Republicans with making an effort at bipartisanship, and they back the White House’s policies on a variety of disputed issues, including allowing gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the military and repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

The poll suggests that both parties face a toxic environment as they prepare for the elections in November. Public disapproval of Congress is at a historic high, and huge numbers of Americans think Congress is beholden to special interests. Fewer than 1 in 10 Americans say members of Congress deserve re-election.

As the party in power, Democrats face a particular risk from any wave of voter discontent; unfavorable views of the Democratic Party are as high as they have been since the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, though Republicans continue to register an even worse showing. The percentage of Americans who approve of Mr. Obama’s job performance, 46 percent, is as low as it has been since he took office.

Still, the poll suggests that Mr. Obama and his party have an opportunity to deflect the anger and anxiety if they can frame the election not as a referendum on the president and his party, but as a choice between them and a Republican approach that yielded results under Mr. Bush that much of the nation still blames for the country’s woes. That is what the White House has been trying to do since the beginning of the year.

For all the erosion in support for Mr. Obama, Americans say he better understands their needs and problems and has made more of an effort to be bipartisan than Congressional Republicans, the poll found.
Highlights of the CBS/NYT Poll:
  • Only 4% of Americans think the deficit is our biggest problem.
  • Obama's down to 35% approval on health care.
  • Only 8% think Congress deserves to be re-elected.
  • 70% think the effects of this recession will last at least another 2 years.
  • 53% now say we cannot afford to fix health care right now due to the economy.
  • Dems have a 42-35% edge in favorability still. 
  • The GOP has a 42-37% edge in improving the economy.
  • 62% think the GOP is not working with Obama.  71% however say Obama should compromise. 74% think the GOP needs to compromise.
  • 50% think the filibuster rules need to be changed.
  • Neither party is offering solutions to help Americans. (29% Dems, 22% Republicans.)
An interesting set of results to be sure.

Calling It Victory

President Obama is calling it a win after the GOP blinked first on recess appointments. Steve Benen:
There wasn't much doubt what President Obama had in mind for the congressional break that begins today. In light of the unprecedented number of holds Republicans have placed on key, high-level nominees, mostly for reasons that have nothing to do with qualifications, the White House seemed poised to use recess appointments for several pending officials.

As of last night, the Senate scurried to make this unnecessary.
Before leaving for the Presidents' Day break, the Senate on Thursday night confirmed -- by unanimous consent -- more than two dozen of President Obama's nominees to federal positions.
Mr. Obama and Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, had warned this week that the president might use the weeklong holiday break to make recess appointments, a threat underscoring his frustration with months of delays in confirming some key nominees.
Mike Allen reported that the president "won" the showdown with Senate Republicans, and last night's breakthrough was the result of a "tense exchange" between Obama and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Apparently, the president explained that he could no longer tolerate the "unprecedented" holds. When McConnell said Dems did the same thing to Bush that Republicans are doing now, "Obama disagreed, saying that when Bush made his first recess appointments, a handful of nominees had been waiting for more than a month. Obama had more than 60 waiting."

After the Senate approved the 27 high-level nominees, the White House issued a statement describing the process as "a good first step," but added, "[T]here are still dozens of nominees on hold who deserve a similar vote, and I will be looking for action from the Senate when it returns from recess. If they do not act, I reserve the right to use my recess appointment authority in the future."
So why not use the recess appointments now?  The TSA and NLRB continue to have year-plus long vacancies.  Terrorism and Jobs are kind of important to the American people right now.  Republicans don't wont either of those working well so they can attack Obama.  The GOP continues to refuse to confirm key nominations.  100% obstruction reduced to 50% is still obstruction.

Elections Have Consequences

Well New Jersey?  You elected Chris Christie as Governor because you didn't like Democrats anymore.  His first major act as Governor?  Freezing all state spending by executive order in a recession.
Calling New Jersey's budget a "shambles," Gov. Chris Christie announced Thursday he is immediately freezing all state spending.

Saying New Jersey is on the verge of bankruptcy, Christie declared a fiscal emergency, announcing drastic cuts. Among them, aid to school districts that have excess surpluses.

"Today we are going to act swiftly to fix problems too long ignored. Today I begin to do what I promised the people of New Jersey I would do," Christie said.

The move had Democrats in an uproar, angry the governor used his executive powers instead of working with the Legislature.

"What that's going to mean is that those school districts without that money are going to be raising property taxes in the upcoming year to make up for that shortfall," said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-19th District. 
And when those property tax measures are defeated and other tax measures have to be taken to make up the resulting shortfall and schools, roads, police, and other infrastructure and services suffer the way they are in places like Colorado and California, you might want to remember that the next time an election rolls around.

Cutting spending and raising taxes in a recession will not create job growth, folks.  Add New Jersey to the list of states who are going to find out the hard way.

Giving Away The Store

Harry Reid lays down the law.  No really.  Handing the bill over to Max Baucus who insisted the Senate Finance committee get a crack at making the bill bipartisan, Baucus loaded the bill up with massive tax cuts for the wealthy to get Republican support, and promises of even more tax cuts later.  Ezra Klein:
In other words, in order to get Republic cooperation on an $80 billion jobs bill, Democrats have promised them estate and gift tax reform, which will come to many hundreds of billions of dollars. This is the compromise that appears to have led to this package: not a better or bigger or more tax-focused jobs bill, but massive tax cuts for the rich.
Harry actually did his job and told Max and the Republicans to go to hell.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is rewriting a jobs bill after Democrats complained of too many concessions to Republicans.

Reid announced Thursday that he would cut drastically back on the jobs bill Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced only hours earlier, essentially overruling the powerful chairman.

The Finance Committee estimated that Reid’s proposal would cost approximately $15 billion.

The Baucus bill, which was estimated at $85 billion, included $31 billion in tax extenders that Reid has decided to leave out. A Senate Democratic leadership aide said Reid decided to drop the tax extenders after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to endorse the Baucus package.

“We’re going to move this afternoon to a smaller package than talked about in the press,” Reid said.

A spokesperson for Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee and the co-sponsor of the Baucus bill, said Reid’s move risks turning a bipartisan bill into another partisan vote.
Republicans are pissed.  And remember, Mitch McConnell turned down the "bi-partisan" Baucus bill because it didn't have enough tax cuts for corporations and for the wealthy in it.  He wanted a 100% victory, not promises of estate tax reform later.

Fine.  Let them vote against the jobs bill in an election year with 9.7% unemployment.

But for once, the real news is Harry Reid did the right thing.


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