Saturday, March 13, 2010

Last Call

Wouldn't be a week around here without the nuttiest wingnut in Congress, Michelle Bachmann.  She headlined a "kill the bill" rally at the State Capitol in St. Paul.
A day after congressional Democratic leaders announced their final legislative push to enact a bill to overhaul the nation's health care system, opponents rallied to send a noisy contrary message. Rally organizers said 4,000 people attended, but Capitol police estimated the crowd at 2,000 or fewer.

Dozens of times, the crowd members, a combination of Republicans, social conservatives and Tea Partiers, chanted, "Kill the bill! Kill the bill!" urged on by a half-dozen speakers.

The headliner and clear crowd favorite was Republican Sixth District Rep. Michele Bachmann, who said Democrats "are spending us into bondage we can never dig ourselves out of."

Gazing out over the flag-waving, sign-wielding crowd, she said: "This is awesome. This is our country. We own it!"
Bachmann and other speakers urged listeners to vent their outrage to Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation in the days leading up to the final vote on the bill, potentially within a week.

Among the signs being waved was one that listed Marx, Lenin and Stalin, followed by Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Obama, Pelosi and Reid were repeatedly invoked as political villains.

"For some reason," said Second District Republican Rep. John Kline, "President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid can't hear you. I can't understand that."

Saying, "We need to start over," Kline was greeted with a roar of approval, causing him to rhetorically invoke Obama, Pelosi and Reid again: "Can you hear this?"
Glad to see you're still lying about your numbers, wingers. Matt Osborne has the proper response to this nonsense.
Word-salad garnished with nontroversy: “Obama…Pelosi…Reid…They don’t represent us…right now.” Because there was no election in 2008, or because elections do not have consequences? Congress has, in fact, voted on the bills and will now hold further votes on them in perfect legal order. The Constitution does, in fact, allow Congress to levy taxes (“mandate”) and appoint enforcement officers (IRS), and such laws are, in fact, binding. Either the representative from Minnesota lacks a basic understanding of civics, or she’s encouraging sedition.

The “post-American president” line invokes John Bolton. Having ripped the words from their context, “some” is a cowardly little word here that lets her invoke all the birther-deather-Van Jones nonsense without having to.

Cleaning Up The Mess, Part 2

Israel's reaction to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton saying "stop or we'll say stop again!" on Israel expanding settlements in Jerusalem is brilliantly summed up by Voice of America news:
Mr. Netanyahu said the announcement by the Interior Ministry was made without his knowledge, and the timing was unintentional. He apologized to Biden and had hoped that the matter was closed.

Israel's ties with the U.S. have plummeted since President Barack Obama took office more than a year ago and demanded a complete freeze on Jewish settlement expansion. Israel refused, but eventually imposed a partial freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank.

Israeli analyst Yoni Ben Menachem says the freeze does not apply to East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.  "Israel has the right to continue and to build in Jerusalem and in East Jerusalem, and this is the formal policy of this government. And this our right to build in Jerusalem our capital," he said.

But he says the timing of the announcement was a fiasco. "This unplanned announcement embarrassed the visit of Vice President Biden to Israel. And maybe it was right, the right decision, but it was not so smart," he said.
Anyone who actually believes that this announcement was unplanned, please contact me about that oceanfront property in Kansas I have.  Israel knows damn well exactly what it did.  They told Biden to go screw himself, then they told Hillary to go screw herself with Biden's wang.

Israel cannot completely ignore America.  We give them too much.  But they can and will completely ignore the Obama administration, and will continue to do so until A) Obama's irrelevant or B) they force our hand by attacking Iran.

They figure if A happens first after the 2010 elections, then they'll get to do B anyway.  After all, that's the goal.

The Newest Winger Outrage

Expect a lot of Winger mileage out of this idiocy over the next few weeks and months from this article in Barron's.  The title?  The $2 Trillion Hole.
LIKE A CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE, populist rage burns over bloated executive compensation and unrepentant avarice on Wall Street.

Deserving as these targets may or may not be, most Americans have ignored at their own peril a far bigger pocket of privilege -- the lush pensions that the 23 million active and retired state and local public employees, from cops and garbage collectors to city managers and teachers, have wangled from taxpayers.

Some 80% of these public employees are beneficiaries of defined-benefit plans under which monthly pension payments are guaranteed...
The rest of the article is behind one of Rupert Murdoch's paywalls, but that's all you need to know.   Pension funds for public employees have run into serious financial trouble, most assuredly.  But blaming the public employees for this state of affairs is ludicrous.  They weren't the ones making the decisions on maintaining the funds.

Those were made by fund managers who invested in the real estate subprime ponzi scheme...
California's two big public pension funds took fresh hits to their troubled real estate portfolios this week, suggesting the fallout from the real estate bubble hasn't completely run its course.

First up was CalPERS, which Wednesday walked away from a controversial Boston investment that cost it about $91 million.

Then came CalSTRS. A New York skyscraper it co-owns is about to go into default, a credit-rating agency warned Thursday. Default could cost the California State Teachers' Retirement System its share of a $75 million investment.

The two losses by themselves don't represent enormous drains on the pension funds, which control portfolios totaling $336 billion. But they show that the funds have yet to completely extricate themselves from the financial debacles that cost them a combined $100 billion in the fiscal year ended last June 30, including several billion in real estate.

The Case Against Kucinich

Nate Silver crunches the numbers comparing how Democrats in the House voted depending on how red their district is.  The interesting thing is when you remove the exception for "protest votes" from the left, that is votes against Obama's legislative agenda because the agenda is not progressive enough, it turns out that the Democrat causing the most problems is...Dennis Kucinich.
In December, I posted ratings for each Democratic Representative based on how they voted on 10 key agenda items in 2009. The idea was to see how each Democrat voted relative to the partisan slant of his district; a Democrat voting for the cap-and-trade bill in a Republican-leaning district would get quite a bit of credit for that, for instance, while one voting for the same measure in a district with a PVI of D+15 would get almost no credit for the vote since almost every Representative from such a district voted for the bill anyway. The analysis concluded that TN-6's Bart Gordon, who voted with the Democrats on 8 of 10 key agenda items in spite of coming from a R+13 district, had provided the most value to his party on key votes. (Unfortunately for Democrats, Gordon is retiring.) Artur Davis of AL-7, who has voted against several major agenda items because he is running for governor in Alabama, was the least valuable Democrat.

The original version of the ratings built in an exception for what I termed "liberal nos": votes that a Democratic member cast against his party's agenda, but which he justified by stating that the policy under consideration was not liberal enough. We did not count the liberal no votes as yes votes -- we just threw them out, treating them as non-votes instead.

But what if we don't build in an exception for the so-called "liberal no's" -- that is, simply take every vote at face value? It turns out, then, that Davis is no longer the least valuable Democrat. Instead, it is Dennis Kucinich, who voted against health care, the hate crimes bill, the budget, the cap-and-trade bill, and financial regulation -- all ostensibly from the left -- in spite of coming from from the strongly Democratic Ohio 10th district near Cleveland.

Kucinich's score of -4.22 is not only worse than that of any other Democrat: it is also worse than that of all but 22 Republicans.
Now that's saying something.  Silver's method assigns a positive number to Democrats voting for the ten items in a red district, and assigns a penalty for voting against the items in a blue one.  Kucinich gets nailed for his votes in a D+8 safe district.  To compare, that Kucinich score dwarfs almost every other Democrat in the House, period.  Artur Davis comes in at -3.91, but then John Barrow of Georgia is only -2.02.  Parker Griffith, who voted against every single one of the President's agenda items, all ten (and then switched parties to become a Republican) still comes up better at -1.05 because he was in a R+12 district.

So yes, if we're going on which Democrats should be primaried, if you're going strictly from a voting perspective only, the guy at your top of the list is Kucinich. He's at best a 50% reliable vote for the Dems.

It doesn't make him a Blue Dog, but it does make him the Original Firebagger, and puts him firmly in the Useful Idiot for the Republicans category.  There's a reason why the GOP's not too worried about attacking the guy.  They know he's far more trouble for the Dems than he's worth...and it's glad to see that worth -- or in this case the complete and total lack of it -- quantified.

As Nate says, Kucinich may be good liberal, but he's literally the worst Democrat in the House.

Ray LaHood Makes His Case

Current Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, himself a 14-year Republican Congressman before joining the Obama administration in 2008, makes the case for Republicans supporting health care reform.
There are several Republican ideas in the bill. It allows Americans to buy health insurance across state lines. It increases the bargaining power of small businesses by allowing them to pool together — much like large corporations or labor unions — to bargain for a better insurance rate. It gives states the flexibility to come up with an alternate health care plan, and it gives them resources to reform our tort system by developing new ways to deal with medical malpractice.

I also feel compelled to remind my former colleagues that contrary to what many people have been saying, the bill explicitly prevents federal dollars from being used to fund abortion. It ensures not only that those seeking abortion coverage will be required to pay for it with their own money, but also that their personal money will never be commingled with federal funds. As a former congressman with a 100 percent pro-life voting record, I'm comfortable supporting this bill.

There isn't one member of Congress who represents a district that is without a health care crisis. There are good, hardworking men and women in every part of this country who work for a living, but not at a business that offers the opportunity to purchase health insurance. On their own, the cost of insurance is just plain out of reach.

During my time in Congress, I was known for reaching across the aisle. I did it not for the sake of bipartisanship alone, but in order to get important things done.

Now, my former colleagues have the opportunity to change the lives of their friends and neighbors for the better by voting for health care reform.
The Republican response of course is to crucify the man and call him a liar.  But then again, it's not like Republicans are interested in either the truth or in allowing Democrats to take credit for health care reform.  They would rather have no bill, and for the crisis to continue, than allow Obama a victory here.

This is fact.  Politics are simply more important to them than Americans are.  A man with a 100% pro-life voting record or course is a filthy liar to Republicans.  But there's one point in the winger's response screed that is true:
If LaHood were still an elected member of Congress and voted for this mess he'd be out of office as soon as the primary came around this year.
Democrats are the enemy to these people.  They must be eliminated, crushed, and destroyed.  And so must anyone who sides with them, ever.   To them, it's war.

They're playing to win.  Are we?  Ray LaHood's response here would have been far more useful in June than now, when even the most dense in Washington know there will never be any Republican support for Obama's agenda.  None of them can.  If they do, they will be annihilated.

But there's a reason why the Republicans are fighting as if they are doing so for heir very political survival...because they are.  If this passes, they're in mortal danger.

And they know it.

Today In Village Idiocy

Today's intellectual dishonesty in the Village Media comes from the "liberal" NY Times, gleefully squealing about Newt Gingrich talking in front of a couple hundred people, and how that proves he is "resurgent" in politics.
There he was last month in Akron, Ohio, telling an audience of 300 people that President Obama was out of touch. Why? Because the president did not understand the gut-level appeal of the pickup truck at the center of Scott Brown’s winning campaign to wrest a Massachusetts Senate seat away from the Democrats.

“What if I have to haul a moose?” Mr. Gingrich said, to laughter. “You cannot put a gun rack in the back of a Smart car.”

The audience was enraptured, and many called out for Mr. Gingrich to run for president in 2012. He said in an interview that he was considering it and would make a decision by this time next year.

Of course, Mr. Gingrich, 66, carries substantial political baggage from his downfall as House speaker after the 1998 elections, and even some allies are skeptical that he will run (he opted out in 2008). But even if he is merely playing to the truism that potential presidential candidates garner more attention than noncandidates, he is clearly enjoying a moment back in the limelight.

Shortly after his visit to Akron, Mr. Gingrich spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. He waded to the lectern across the ballroom floor to the throbbing beat of “Eye of the Tiger,” with lights flashing and thousands of well-wishers shrieking his name. No one else made such a rock-star entrance.

Like Sarah Palin and others who have discovered that they can command a political platform and a good income without running for office, Mr. Gingrich remains relevant by having built himself into a one-man industry churning out speeches, books, films and policy positions. And as the architect of the Republican takeover of the House in 1994, he is much sought after for advice on how to replicate that feat this year. 
Hurrr, Smart Cars and gun racks!  What a statesman!   The missing piece in the puzzle as to why Gingrich is "resurgent" is because his one-man limelight-generating industry relies heavily on the Village to give him that limelight.  If the media ignored Gingrich, he wouldn't matter.  Period.  But the Village continues to treat this failed GOP heretic as a force in politics.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

With now two blonde-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian women being held in connection with a terror plot, at what point does this become standard practice to take aside people meeting this description for extra scrutiny for possible terror attacks?

After all, it was just one Nigerian man who generated calls for racial profiling of black men on international flights to the US.

By the stated logic of the Wingers, don't we have to do this before they kill us?

Sure it's racist and misogynist and generally disgusting.  But our safety is at stake, and that of course didn't matter when they were swarthy looking men, right?

Death Panel Dan Doubles Down

Sen. Harry Reid's wife and daughter were in a car accident a few days ago, and Reid's wife Landra suffered a broken back and neck in the crash.  Enter Winger scuzzbag Dan Riehl, who argues flat out that Harry Reid should set an example of health care euthanizing his wife.
I'm not sure I quite understand this, given that cost is so important as a burden to taxpayers when it comes to health care. If Democrats want so badly to abort babies because of it, why are we bothering with someone who has a broken neck and back at 69? It sounds to me like she's pretty well used up and has probably been living off the taxpayers for plenty of years to begin with. Aren't we at least going to get a vote on it?
Wow.  Nice guy.  We're bringing up the death panel nonsense again on a Senator's wife.  There really isn't a level they will stoop to, because that assumes they are not already and always playing the lowest card in their hand.  But Dan goes on.
I realize her crook of a husband and his pals in Congress have excluded themselves from the mess they're going to compel everyone else to join, but we're still paying the bills, are we not? I don't see that she's worth it at this point, frankly. I can't recall her ever doing anything for me.

Come on, Harry - do your civic duty. The nation's broke and counting on you guy. Pull the plug and get back to work. And don't bill us for a full day today, either. This is no time to be sloughing off. Air freight her home, you can bury her during recess on your own time and dime. Or are you going to bill us for that, too?
There's a soulless husk of a man.  And once he figures out he's been called out, he continues his tirade:
These people have no principles. They have no right to take exception to my post. You can not advocate killing children to save money while allowing severely injured 69 year-old people to live. The actuarial argument actually benefits the young. Unless, of course, they figure it will be mostly poor black and hispanics, so what the hell!!

Within ten-years they will be doing precisely what I suggested for Reid's wife. It's their shame they are linking, not my own! Make them choke on it!
What hasn't occured to Riehl is that the cost of health care itself is the problem...and the insurance companies that already make these decisions thousands of times a year because they refuse to pay for it.  We already have death panels, you jackass.  They're called insurance company claims adjusters.  They decide who gets money for treatment and who doesn't.

Second point:  "Democrats wanting abortions to save money" is his problem.  Well, who said that?

It was Bart Stupak, complaining to of all people, the National Review.  No proof, just what Stupak said.  They certainly have the best interests of Americans who need health insurance coverage at heart, and haven't been trying to kill health care reform, nope!  But that's proof enough for Riehl to go on yet another tirade and bring up the death panel lie again to justify killing Sen. Reid's wife, because all of our loved one will be murdered by the gubmint!

You know, instead of killed by our wonderful insurance companies.  Jesus wept.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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