Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last Call

Jon Chait is both right and dead wrong. 

He's right about the following:
The psychology of victory and defeat is a remarkable thing. A week ago, the Democrats were perceived to have an enormous political problem. Their agenda was stalled in Congress. There was a mass groundswell of public anger they had to contend with.

Suddenly those problems have been flipped on their head. Now Democrats don't have a problem because they can't pass anything, Republicans have a problem because they're obstructing everything. Whereas right-wing grassroots activism represented a public backlash against the Democrats, it's now seen as an extremist element that discredits the GOP. Political reporters are starting to construct a seamless narrative connecting the over-the-top rhetoric from GOP and conservative leaders, the unusual acts of obstructionism and legislative retribution (like canceling unrelated hearings as revenge for health care reform), and sporadic vandalism and threats of violence. For example, see Dana Milbank's column today.
Chait's right about that.  The Village respects a winner, until they can construct the narrative that the current winners are losers.  However, the problem is Chait's still missing the larger point on the GOP themselves:
We should keep a couple things in mind here. Just as the emotion of the moment exaggerated Democrats' panic and fear of action, the emotion of the moment is casting the Republican strategy in the worst possible light. It's not exactly a parallel situation, because Republicans are far less responsive than Democrats to mainstream media narratives. Still, Republicans are going to consider the strategy of refusing to engage Democrats in a different light in the wake of passing health care reform than they would have if the Democrats had fallen a few votes shy in the House.
I call complete bullshit on that.  The Republicans are doing what they always do when losing:  double down to attack the Dems.  If they had defeated this measure, they would still be doing the exact same thing they are now:  calling the Dems traitors, encouraging the fringe elements to rise up, and refusing to work with the Democrats on any legislation.  In fact, we'd be hearing that the Republican strategy of Party of No was exactly what America wanted them to do, and that they should do everything they can to obstruct the Democrats even more than they were.

Chait's mistake is that he still considers the Republican leadership as rational actors that make rational decisions.  They aren't.  All they care about is destroying Obama...that should be self-evident by now.

Karl Rove's Repeal Appeal

Turd Blossom is completely behind this one.
Polls may show a temporary increase in the president's popularity, but underlying public opinion about this law is not likely to change just because the president hits the trail to sell it. After all, he made 58 speeches before the measure passed, including two in prime time.

Before that string of speeches the public was in favor of the concept of health-care reform by a ratio of 2 to 1. Afterward, about 60% of the public was opposed to the president's plan. Those who strongly opposed outnumbered those strongly in favor by 2 to 1 or better in most polls.

Tens of millions of ordinary people watched the deliberations, studied the proposals, and made up their minds. Their concerns about spending, deficits and growing government power are not going away.

Nor is their opposition to ObamaCare. According to a new CNN poll, majorities of Americans believe that they will pay more for medical care, the federal deficit will increase, and that government will be too involved in health care under the president's plan.

Democrats claim they've rallied their left-wing base. But that base isn't big enough to carry the fall elections, particularly after the party alienated independents and seniors. The only way Democrats win a base election this year will be if opponents of this law stay home.
So, he declares, run on repeal!  Rove's had a stellar record so far, yes?  Just like in 2008 when he said "Go even more negative on Obama?"  By all means, as the President said today on repeal:

"Go for it."

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Dan Riehl again on the Winger futility of suing over Obamacare:
But I'm also unconvinced America will be content with a failed court action. The Constitution has been so twisted from its initial intent and from the people still may believe it means, I'm not sure the system can bridge the gap here. At some point, states may have to consider banding together to develop an approach with far broader implications for America in the end. I've never seen the kinds of lines being drawn in America I am witnessing today. And this issue is not going to quietly just slip away.
States banding together...hmm.  Why, that would be a group of states.  A...confederation of them, one might say.

Seems kind of eerily familiar...

Own The Darkness

Oliver Willis lays it out. (emphasis mine)
Looking around at the conservative blogosphere’s reaction to threats and actual violence versus Democratic lawmakers that instead of condemning the actions the right is actually excusing it, and in some ways, egging it on.

When the first dead body turns up as a result of tea party terrorism, they’ll own it, completely.

Nobody’s arguing that on the left there was strong protest to Bush’s ill-guided policies that resulted in the deaths of thousands, but there was no support for violence against Republican lawmakers the way there is today from the right. Democrats were not linking arms with anti-government protesters who entertained assassination fascinations with our leaders.

The conservative movement owns tea party terrorism and whatever may come of it.
No doubt the usual suspects will show up to justify the violence, but the fact of the matter at this point this talk equating the exercise of democracy with treason is going to cause blood to flow.  Even the Senate parliamentarian is under threat now.

Not only do most of the wingers I've seen expect violence, they already are working to blame these acts as "false flag" attacks carried out by "the angry left" to start a war.

Delusional to the end.

Shutdown Sequence

Hey America, want to assure yourselves of a federal government that doesn't work in 2011?  Vote Republican this fall!
A potential Republican majority may not be able to repeal healthcare reform, but they'd probably refuse to fund it, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today.

Appearing on Fox News, Boehner acknowledged that if the GOP wins control of Congress in 2010, they may not be able to repeal the healthcare bill President Obama signed into law yesterday. Obama would be able to veto a repeal, and Republicans would probably not have the two-thirds majority necessary to override that veto.

"With a Democrat president for the next two and a half years, even if we gained the majority it's going to be very difficult to repeal this bill outright," Boehner said.

Nevertheless, Boehner said Congress could simply refuse to approrpriate the funds needed to execute reform.
"It's going to take appropriated funds to actually come through the process to fund the hiring of new employees to create these new bureacuracies," Boehner said. "I can't imagine that a Republican Congress is going to give this president the money to begin this process."
Orange Julius is already saying "Hell no you can't!"  That's a hell of a platform to run on, the Shut Down The Federal Government Over Funding Health Care Reform plank of the GOP.

At this point the GOP is so utterly bankrupt of ideas that the only thing they have left is threatening to destroy the government so that nothing works for anybody.  This is their big campaign message in 2010.

Good luck with that, Orange Julius.

Cramer Versus Cramer Again

I laughed, I cried, it was better than "Cats".
Cramer during tonight’s show offered a mea culpa to viewers: Despite the horrible effect he thought health-care reform was going to have on stocks, all the major indexes have held up since the bill passed on Sunday. In fact, barring today’s declines – and he didn’t think they were linked to health care – the market dipped for only about 20 minutes after Monday’s opening bell, then continued its bullish move upward.

Possibly even worse, Mad Money viewers who took Cramer’s advice missed a chance to buy that dip. He’d fully expected a pullback to follow the House’s yea vote, giving viewers a great entry point on any number of stocks. But that window of opportunity closed too quickly for most people. And investors who took profits before the vote never got the chance to get back in.
Jim Cramer wrong?  Gosh, that NEVER happens.  You know, except for all the times he's been laughably wrong about mostly everything over the last three years.  Housing market bottomed out in July 2009, remember that?  Dow 15,000, remember that?  No CRE meltdown, remember that?  Banks are stable, remember that?  It's not like Cramer's side gig at is being investigated, right?
So what happened? Here are his 10 reasons why he missed the health-care call:
Allow me to save you some time. 
  1. Jim Cramer doesn't know a goddamn thing about economics, but he's a hell of a scam artist.

Blockbuster Flat Busted

A decade ago, Blockbuster Video was arguably the largest media player in the country.  Movie studios, distributors, marketers, game makers, they all lined up to get on Blockbuster's shelves as America's media store. They had an enormous amount of clout.  Everyone made them deals to stay number one and keep them number one.  And when you're number one, people come gunning for you.

How quickly things change.
Blockbuster is in a heap of trouble with nearly $1 billion in debt, and its latest fixes might not be enough to keep the company from filing for bankruptcy.

The movie rental company launched its newest enterprise on Wednesday, beating rival Netflix to the punch in mobile movies. Blockbuster is now offering on demand video via T-Mobile's new HTC HD2 smart phone. The new service is also expected to be available on Android and Windows Mobile phones soon.

That news follows the company's announcement on Tuesday that it signed a new agreement with movie studio Warner Bros., which is owned by's parent company Time Warner (TWX, Fortune 500). The deal will continue to allow Blockbuster to offer the studio's new releases about a month before its chief competitors, Netflix (NFLX) and Coinstar's (CSTR) Redbox.

Blockbuster's latest moves are steps in the right direction. But to overcome nearly $1 billion in debt, unprofitable stores and continued losses, what the company really needs is a major turnaround. Blockbuster said last week it may have to file for bankruptcy protection if it cannot lower its debt by other means. 
Video killed the radio star, but the internet killed Blockbuster.  America's video store is Netflix these days.  Netflix really is one of the great American success stories.  And now Blockbuster has ended up as one of America's great cautionary tales.

If It's Thursday...

New jobless claims down to 442,000 and continuing claims down to 4.55 million this week.

We're still in a holding pattern and have been for, oh, months now.  They're not getting worse, but the overall numbers simply aren't getting any better, either.

Yes We Can (Orange Julius Remix)

This vid's been making the rounds this week, give it a look.

Democrats: "Yes, we can."
Republicans: "Hell no you can't!"

Seems like a pretty simple message to me...

StupidiNews Focus

At this point, the HCR reconciliation fix bill is heading back to the House for another vote once the Senate finishes.  It's a hurdle, but it might actually be a major opportunity for the Dems, as Ryan Grim explains:
Senate Republicans succeeded early Thursday morning in finding two flaws in the House-passed health care reconciliation package. Neither is of any substance, but the Senate parliamentarian informed Democratic leaders that both are in violation of the Byrd Rule.

One is related to Pell Grants and the other makes small technical corrections. Why they're in violation of the Byrd Rule doesn't matter; the upshot is that Republicans will succeed in at least slightly altering the legislation, which means that the House is once again required to vote on it. With no substantial changes, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should have little problem assembling the same coalition of 220 Democrats who passed the measure Sunday night. That's already four more than the minimum 216 required for passage.
But the ruling might give Democrats another option -- the public one.

Democratic leadership no longer has to worry that additional amendments would send it back to the House, since it must return to the lower chamber regardless. The Senate is now free to put to the test that much-debated question of whether 50 votes exist for a public option. Democrats could also elect to expand Medicare or Medicaid, now that they only need 50 votes in the Senate and the approval of the House.
The question then becomes whether House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) could pass the reconciliation changes with a public option. She has long maintained that the House has the votes to do so. Indeed, it did so in late 2009. Since then, however, two members who supported the public option are no longer in the House.

But with fewer members, the House also needs two fewer votes than the 218 required for a majority in November, alleviating some of that pressure.

Would they have the votes?

The Huffington Post interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday evening and asked if he thought he could have gotten the public option back through a second time, when the House voted on Sunday, even without those members who had left. "Yes, sir," he said emphatically. Clyburn added that the problem for the public option has never been in the House. The problem has been in the Senate. And now the upper chamber has a chance to vote on it.

Back in the Senate, after the Parliamentarian Alan Frumin had advised the leadership of his ruling, the Democratic and Republican leaders huddled on the floor and agreed to adjourn until 9:45 a.m.
In other words, now there's no reason not to give the Senate an opportunity to get 51 votes on the public option as one of the amendments before the HCR reconciliation fix bill, as the bill has to go back to the House anyway.  I don't expect the public option to pass the Senate, but there's no reason now it shouldn't get a has the votes to pass in the House.  Should it get through the Senate...well, there's your public option right there, folks.

If Republicans can take hours to pile on amendments to try to slow the legislation down, Democrats can offer one amendment that will have overwhelming support, help lower costs, and create real competition for insurance premium dollars.  Take a swing at the fences, guys.  You'll never have a better opportunity to pass the public option with 51 votes.


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