Sunday, February 21, 2010

Last Call

Time to make the final rounds tonight.  Matt Osborne has a good recap of CPAC:
In a room sponsored by John Birchers and filled with a high concentration of Ayn Randists, Beck called the progressive movement “designed to eat the Constitution.”

Teddy Roosevelt, who tripled the size of the US Navy in a successful bid for global economic empire, came in for special Beckian scorn once again as a “weird progressive.” The bizarre revisionism came within a veiled stab at John McCain.

Sweating from his chalkboard hustle, Beck opined 2010 would be “a very good year. But it is not enough just to not suck as much as the other side.”

A straw poll elected Ron Paul. The crowd booed.  There was shouting over a gay group’s presence.

“I have not heard people in the Republican Party admit yet that they have a problem,” Beck said at his crescendo before a rapt audience. “I haven’t seen the Come-To-Jesus moment from Republicans yet.”

Last year’s CPAC conference will be remembered for Rush Limbaugh rallying the right-wing media industry to create the teabag terror. CPAC 2010 has revealed the divides within the very inner bastion of right-wing politics: the teabagger fail is happening.
Indeed.  Obama Derangement Syndrome has done a pretty good job of uniting the GOP, but they clearly thought that Scott Brown should have caused the Dems to completely fold.

I really think it was question time that turned it around.  Obama knocked the GOP for a loop, and ever since then they've realized he hasn't been broken like they expected him to be.  That's got them scared.  Suddenly they are on the defensive, when Scott Brown had them all on the same page in the playbook.  Now they're looking for what to do next, and they're going on wildly divergent paths.  CPAC showed us that.

The Teabaggers want to lay into the President even harder.  Obama embarrassed them on national TV and they are pissed.  The old school neocons want the Teabaggers to back off and cool down long enough for the Dems to start making mistakes.  But the Teabaggers keep taking the bait.  They can't help themselves.  Obama is exploiting this weakness and he's doing it brilliantly.

We'll see what next week and the summit brings.  Supposedly Obama will be announcing his health care plan tomorrow and then posting the full plan online.  The plan apparently includes limiting rate increases on insurers as well.  This week will be pivotal.  The GOP is divided on how to proceed here, and that's finally given the Dems the chance to take control of the message and get back in the game.

And finally, finally, Obama is making the most of the opportunity.  It's the last one he has for health care reform and he knows it.

I'm Not Picking Up The Tab, You People Are

Tom Friedman apparently thinks the middle class shrinking is a really good idea, so much so that he declares today that Serious Village Centrists like himself think it's a great idea if you unwashed masses start getting used to Republicans and ConservaDems taking things away from you, because that's what's coming once we get rid of Obama.
Yes, sir, we’ve just had our 70 fat years in America, thanks to the Greatest Generation and the bounty of freedom and prosperity they built for us. And in these past 70 years, leadership — whether of the country, a university, a company, a state, a charity, or a township — has largely been about giving things away, building things from scratch, lowering taxes or making grants.

But now it feels as if we are entering a new era, “where the great task of government and of leadership is going to be about taking things away from people,” said the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum.

Indeed, to lead now is to trim, to fire or to downsize services, programs or personnel. We’ve gone from the age of government handouts to the age of citizen givebacks, from the age of companions fly free to the age of paying for each bag.

Let’s just hope our lean years will only number seven. That will depend a lot on us and whether we rise to the economic challenges of this moment. Our parents truly were the Greatest Generation. We, alas, in too many ways, have been what the writer Kurt Andersen called “The Grasshopper Generation,” eating through the prosperity that was bequeathed us like hungry locusts. Now we and our kids together need to be “The Regeneration” — the generation that renews, refreshes, re-energizes and rebuilds America for the 21st century.
We have a lot of work to do.  And by "we", Tom Friedman means "you middle class schmucks making less than six figures a year."  And by "work" he means "you have the next 30 years of Baby Boomer Social Security and Medicare to pay for, so get crackin."

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

I don't know why the Wingers are so upset with Ahnold.  Well, I do: he dared to bad mouth the Teabaggers on the Sunday shows.  That makes him a RINO, even worse than the liberals and progressives they wish to destroy.  It makes him a traitor to them, and he must now be fully annihilated.  No room in the big tent for the Republican governor of the largest blue state in the nation.

The larger point however is that I would imagine they would be absolutely thrilled with the guy in the endgame.  After all he's doing exactly what the Republicans want to do:  make massive spending cuts in programs at the expense of children, the poor, the ill, and the elderly in order to balance the budget.

This is exactly what Republicans want us to do on a national scale, is it not?

Sunday Funnies: Ahnold, Mittens, and The General

This week's Bobblespeak Translations are up.  I giggled.
Gregory: OMG Iran is going to drop a nuclear
bomb on us!!!!

Petraeus: Calm down Fluffy

Gregory: But Daddy I’m scared!!!

Petraeus: Don’t worry we’re sending Iran a
sternly worded letter

Gregory: but shouldn’t Israel just bomb Iran?

Petraeus: Let me put it this way - wheeeeee
[makes whistling sound of bomb flying
through the air]

Gregory: Is Iraq a Democracy?

Petraeus: It’s an Iraqracy

Gregory: what is that?

Petraeus: Freer than North Korea but not as
fair as Florida in 2000

Gregory: close enough

Gregory: Isn’t this the wrong time to let those icky gay people in the military what with all the wars?

Petraeus: don’t worry Fluffy we won’t take you anyway

Gregory: but gay people are so gay!

Petraeus: have you seen the Olympics?

Gregory: good point - after all half the GOP
Congress are gay

Petraeus: hey if they can fire a gun they can
fight with me

Gregory: I bet they can General
I swear, CoT should just sell "Calm Down, Fluffy" T-Shirts.  I'd buy one.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds asks:
SO HERE’S A QUESTION: Would a default on Treasuries accomplish what the Balanced Budget Amendment was supposed to achieve, by forcing the government to spend no more than it takes in? With more collateral damage, of course. . . .
Short answer:  No, you ass.

Not-so-Short but more polite answer: if you mean by "more collateral damage" the effective collapse of the global economy, then the answer's still no because Treasury still collects taxes and would be forced to use that by law to pay off debt payments.  Oh yes, and we'd have no functional economy.

Long answer: What Bruce Bartlett said:
The disruption to financial markets, commerce and the well-being of all Americans from a Treasury default are really beyond my ability to fully describe. But here are a few points to ponder. Interest rates would skyrocket to unprecedented levels, which would cause a collapse of private borrowing and massive capital losses for all bond holders, which include pension funds, insurance companies and foreign central banks, among others. It might be impossible for pension funds to make payments to millions of individuals depending on them for life itself.
The economy would really grind to a halt long before interest rates got so high that default was even on the radar screen. And insofar as the Fed was forced to monetize the debt in order to support the bond market it would lead to hyperinflation. Is Reynolds really willing to turn the U.S. into Zimbabwe just to make a point?
In conclusion, the idea that we should default on the debt rather than raise taxes to deal with a looming fiscal crisis is simply absurd and, frankly, irresponsible. But considering how many absurd and irresponsible ideas are now common currency among the sorts of people who read “Instapundit,” I have to worry whether dimwits like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann won’t soon be parroting the idea that a default on the debt is preferable to any tax increase whatsoever. This is an idea that needs to be nipped in the bud.
And Reynolds is still an ass.

Adapt Or Die

And speaking of that GOP civil war, there's strong evidence (especially considering this week's CPAC events and the Mount Vernon statement) that the war has already been fought and won by the Teabaggers.  Jacob Heilbrunn at the LA Times:
The Mount Vernon statement thus aims to relegate the free-spending George W. Bush era and President Obama to the sidelines and to reinvent the conservative movement in its original small-government image.

At the same time, it tries to paper over the differences between social conservatives, libertarian conservatives and neoconservatives by reminding "economic conservatives that morality is essential to limited government, social conservatives that unlimited government is a threat to moral self-government, and national security conservatives that energetic but responsible government is the key to America's safety and leadership role in the world." In papering over those differences, however, it lacks the fire and energy of the original Sharon statement.

If the Mount Vernon statement represents a lofty attempt to restate conservative principles, the practical blueprint for the right's attempt to assimilate the tea party's adherents is contained in an important article by Ramesh Ponnuru and Kate O'Beirne in the Feb. 22 National Review. Ponnuru and O'Beirne flatly reject the doomsayers such as New York Times columnist David Brooks, who suggests that the tea party could be "the ruin of the [Republican] party." Ponnuru and O'Beirne liken taking the tea partyers onboard to the debates that surrounded allying the GOP with the Christian right during the 1970s. They define the problem out of existence: Some of the tea partyers may be "rough around the edges" but "are not unpopular and their views are not extreme."

The job of the GOP is to form coalitions with the tea partyers, they say, or go out of business. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele has been playing footsie with the tea partyers, discussing the November election with about 30 of their leaders Tuesday.

Whether the GOP can permanently harness the energies of the tea party, however, is another matter. The insurgent party may well drive the GOP so far to the right that it proves something of an albatross in November. It's also hard to see how the GOP could deliver on the tea party's demand for cutting federal entitlement programs, which is political suicide. Indeed, Republicans might well prove as ineffectual as Democrats in attacking the deficit, which they compiled in the first place during the Bush presidency.
Nice to see somebody in the Village remind us that the Republicans were doing the deficit spending thing long before Obama ever even took office.  But the problem still exists for the Republicans:  in order to win in 2010 and 2012, they need the Birthers, the Tenthers, and the Paulites.  To get the Birthers, the Tenthers and the Paulites, GOP candidates will have to do things like campaign on impeaching Obama because he's not a US citizen, allowing states to take steps towards effectively seceding from the United States of America, and abolishing federal entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security (oh and jobless benefits, too.)

I'm thinking that's going to be rather difficult for the new Teabagger candidates to win on, and impossible for the current Republican incumbents to win on in a general election.

But...embrace them or lose, say the Winger pundits.  The Hoffman Effect is a Hobson's choice.  Republican gains in November may be far, far less than currently advertised.  The old guard is warning that disaster is coming, and the new school says disaster is already here.

This is when the Dems need to drive that wedge.

Admission Of Guilt

Mitch McConnell is so completely terrified by the return of the public option that he's going to the referees for help.
It's "not clear" whether enough Democrats will defect on a majority-vote procedure on health legislation to stop it, the Senate's top Republican said Sunday.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that opposition to using a maneuver to bypass filibuster rules would be bipartisan, but hedged as to whether it would be strong enough to block such a tactic.

"There'll be a lot of Democrats who will vote against it," McConnell said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" about the controversial budget reconciliation process. "Whether there will be 11 Democrats who will vote against it is not clear."
Well, what is clear is that the request here is to have the Village now paint reconciliation as such a horrible, unconstitutionally fascist process (that Republicans would of course never use) that the only choice is for eleven brave Dems to step forward and announce they will never allow such horror.  Some are already coming forward to stop the ludicrous notion that America should be ruled by a simple majority vote.  Such tyranny is clearly unacceptable (unless Republicans are in power.)

The Republicans will of course reward them accordingly this fall by carefully pointing out that these Dems stopped health care fascism and will most certainly not call them socialists who are destroying America in campaign commercials.

It's what our Founding Fathers would have wanted.

Iran The Numbers And You're Not Going To Like Them

CNN's new poll on American attitudes towards Iran have not improved since Obama took over.
Seven in 10 Americans believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons, according to a new national poll.

Friday's release of the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey comes just hours after Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Islamic republic isn't seeking and doesn't believe in pursuing nuclear weapons. Khamenei was responding to a draft United Nations report that said that Iran may be working to develop a nuclear weapon.

The poll indicates that 71 percent of the public says Iran has nuclear weapons, with just over one in four disagreeing. More than six in ten think the U.S. should take economic and diplomatic efforts to get Iran to shut down their nuclear program, with only a quarter calling for immediate military action.
Well that's comforting.  Only a quarter of us think we should be in a third war right now.  That'll work out fine.  So when Co-President Netanyahu does decide to attack, all he has to say is "Yeah, we think they have nukes" and 71% of us will be fine with that.

If diplomacy "fails" then 59% of us want to see military action.

Neocon mission accomplished.

The Turd In The CPAC Punchbowl

With the John Birch Society as a co-sponsor of the event (even Power Line's Scott Johnson is like WTF BIRCHERS) is anyone suprised that Ron Paul won the CPAC 2012 straw poll for President going away?  Chris Cilizza:
Paul, who ran for president in 2008, took 31 percent of the vote. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had won the past three CPAC straw polls but placed second this time with 22 percent. Romney is considered the current frontrunner for the 2012 nod.

No other candidate scored in double digits. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who did not speak at CPAC, took third place with seven percent. (Full results are below.)

Be careful not to read too much -- or much at all -- into these results. Paul's supporters are loyal and loud but not, ultimately, that large a group as proven by the fact that he did not win a single primary or caucus in 2008.
Actually there Chris I think that Ron Paul won precisely because of that reason.  The GOP is betting on broke this time around.  The inmates are running this asylum. And judging from the boos from the crowd when the results were announced, I'm thinking the GOP civil war problem I've been talking about for the last year or so hasn't gone away.

It's now front and center.

Just In Case You Hadn't Heard

Evan F'ckin Bayh is leaving the Senate, and has written a long, rambling apology where he blames everybody in Washington other than himself for the intolerable conditions.
Challenges of historic import threaten America’s future. Action on the deficit, economy, energy, health care and much more is imperative, yet our legislative institutions fail to act. Congress must be reformed.

There are many causes for the dysfunction: strident partisanship, unyielding ideology, a corrosive system of campaign financing, gerrymandering of House districts, endless filibusters, holds on executive appointees in the Senate, dwindling social interaction between senators of opposing parties and a caucus system that promotes party unity at the expense of bipartisan consensus.

Many good people serve in Congress. They are patriotic, hard-working and devoted to the public good as they see it, but the institutional and cultural impediments to change frustrate the intentions of these well-meaning people as rarely before. It was not always thus.

While romanticizing the Senate of yore would be a mistake, it was certainly better in my father’s time. My father, Birch Bayh, represented Indiana in the Senate from 1963 to 1981. A progressive, he nonetheless enjoyed many friendships with moderate Republicans and Southern Democrats.

One incident from his career vividly demonstrates how times have changed. In 1968, when my father was running for re-election, Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader, approached him on the Senate floor, put his arm around my dad’s shoulder, and asked what he could do to help. This is unimaginable today.
And while he does have a point -- the Senate is broken --All this does is draw attention to the fact that Evan F'ckin Bayh's brilliant solution to all this in the name of America is to ragequit the Senate like a jackass.

Birch Bayh must be so proud.
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