Friday, March 26, 2010

Last Call

Good news and bad news on the whole rolling back DADT thing.  The good news, the Defense Department is going to make it a lot tougher to expel anyone under the current rules.  Bad news, the Marines still aren't playing ball.
The Marine Corps' top officer says he would want to avoid housing gay and heterosexual Marines in the same rooms on base if the ban on gays openly serving in the military is lifted.

"I would not ask our Marines to live with someone that's homosexual if we can possibly avoid it," Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway told a Web site in an interview posted Friday. "And to me that means we've got to build [barracks] that have single rooms."

Asked about the possibility of gay and straight Marines living together, Conway told the site that he would "want to preserve the right of a Marine that thinks he or she wouldn't want to do that -- and that's the overwhelming number of people that say they wouldn't like to do so."

Conway said the Marine Corps is the only branch of the armed services that houses two to a room.
Marines.  You can ask them to die for their country.  Exquisitely trained, lavishly equipped, the soldier's soldier.  Ask them to deal with TEH GHEY however, and they can't take it like the rest of America.

Go figure.

Tick-Tick-Ticked Off

The situation is turning into a time bomb out there.  Ask Nashville resident Mark Duren.
Duren had just picked up his 10-year-old daughter from school and had her in the car with him.

"He pointed at the back of my car," Duren said, "the bumper, flipped me off, one finger salute."
But it didn't end there.

Duren told News 2 that Weisiger honked his horn at him for awhile, as Duren stopped at a stop sign.
Once he started driving again, down Blair Boulevard, towards his home, he said, "I looked in the rear view mirror again, and this same SUV was speeding, flying up behind me, bumped me."

Duren said he applied his brake and the SUV smashed into the back of his car.

He then put his car in park to take care of the accident, but Weisiger started pushing the car using his SUV.
Duren said, "He pushed my car up towards the sidewalk, almost onto the sidewalk."

Police say Harry Weisiger is charged with felony reckless endangerment in the incident.
 What caused this?  What was Mark Duren's offense?  What set off Harry Weisiger?
Duren had an Obama-Biden '08 bumper sticker.  Gotta love it.  Driving While Democrat, the newest rage.  Road rage, that is. 


For an encore to health care reform, the President announced a new nuclear missile reduction treaty with Russia.
The agreement cuts by about one-third "the nuclear weapons that the United States and Russia will deploy," the president said.

The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) will last 10 years, and builds on the previous agreement that expired in December.

"It significantly reduces missiles and launchers," Obama told reporters at the White House. "It puts in place a strong and effective verification regime. And it maintains the flexibility that we need to protect and advance our national security, and to guarantee our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies."

Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will sign the agreement April 8 in Prague, Czech Republic, Obama said, calling arms control "one of his administration's top national security priorities."

Information released by the White House says the new treaty limits both nations to "significantly fewer strategic arms within seven years" of its signing. One of the limits: 1,550 warheads. "Warheads on deployed ICBMs (Intercontinental ballistic missiles) and deployed SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles) count toward this limit and each deployed heavy bomber equipped for nuclear armaments counts as one warhead toward this limit," the White House said. There are also limits on launchers.

The treaty lays out a "verification regime" that includes on-site inspections, data exchanges and notifications, the White House said.

"The Treaty does not contain any constraints on testing, development or deployment of current or planned U.S. missile defense programs or current or planned United States long-range conventional strike capabilities," the White House said.

Obama said the agreement is part of the U.S. effort to "reset" the U.S. relationship with Russia.
"With this agreement, the United States and Russia -- the two largest nuclear powers in the world -- also send a clear signal that we intend to lead," the president said. "By upholding our own commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we strengthen our global efforts to stop the spread of these weapons, and to ensure that other nations meet their own responsibilities."
Good news here.  Russia, after all, is an ally.  Republicans were angry with the President on Israel, saying that we treat our enemies better than our friends.  It'll be extremely difficult for the GOP to oppose this treaty without insulting Russia.  Where's the win here?  It's not like Americans want MORE nuclear weapons out there, especially on the Russian side.  (Aren't Republicans always screaming that "loose Russian nukes" could fall into the hands of terrorists on the black market?)

Nope, I'm betting this treaty is signed and ratified without too much trouble at all.

Preemptive Absolution

Digby has an excellent point:  the Wingers are so absolutely confident that violence is imminent that they are already publicly laying the groundwork for the narrative that the mean ol' Dems had it coming when it does:
I can hardly believe it, but apparently America's wife beaters have actually decided to use the defense that these Democrats are "asking for" death threats from the right wingers because they are "making them mad." I documented Sere and Cantor's warnings this morning, but there are more:

Breitbart: Congressional Black Caucus members went "searching for ... racism" by walking through Tea Party crowd

Graham tells Beck -- Beck! -- Tea Partiers "get mad" because they "don't like being called racist

Michael Graham: Pelosi was "asking for" response by carrying Medicare gavel

Rove warns Dems that discussing threats against them may "inflame emotions"
And on and on.  Blaming the victim isn't new in humanity's annals of, well, inhumanity, but the sheer rapidity at which this narrative is developing should scare the crap out of everyone.  The Wingers believe it's coming.  They are now completely counting on it and scrambling to save themselves.
They know that serious violence is very likely. They are simply inoculating themselves against the charge that it was their inflammatory rhetoric that caused it. It will be the Democrats complaining about their inflammatory rhetoric that made the teabaggers snap. If they'd just stayed quiet and not made daddy mad, he wouldn't have had to hit them.

The only thing these people should be doing is calming down their crazies. Instead they're ginning them up. Heckuva job.
They've lost control of this crazy train, and when it derails and people are hurt or worse, it's going to be nasty.  "You made us do this!" will be the battle cry of 2010.

What Bob Cesca Said

Eric Cantor indeed needs to retract his story.
He needs to retract his accusation that somehow liberals and Democrats are stoking the right-wing terrorism, and he needs to retract his ridiculous bullet story.
RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond police say the bullet that hit a window of Republican Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor's office had been randomly fired skyward.
Randomly fired skyward.

Retract, Mr. Cantor.
He won't.  Republicans will use this to continue to attack the Dems, and the Village will follow suit.  Six months from now, we'll still hear "Well, remember someone shot out Eric Cantor's window just after the health care vote, so it wasn't just Republicans who were violent, it was the Left too." 

Obama's a Muslim.

Al Gore invented the internet.

Liberals shot out Eric Cantor's office window.

Hell, FOX News will be telling the Cantor lie tomorrow still. Watch.

Growth Spurt

The final revision on Q4 2009 GDP numbers is out, and it's actually fairly good news on the surface.
Gross domestic product expanded at a 5.6 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said in its final report for the fourth quarter, instead of the 5.9 percent pace it estimated in February. It was still the fastest pace since the third quarter of 2003.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast GDP, which measures total goods and services output within U.S. borders, growing at a 5.9 percent rate in the October-December period. GDP increased at a 2.2 percent pace in the third quarter.

The department also said after-tax corporate profits grew 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter, slowing from a 12.7 percent rise in the prior period. It was below market expectations for a 10 percent gain. For all of 2009, after-tax profits fell 6.9 percent, the biggest decline since 2000.

Growth in GDP was lowered because contributions from business investment, consumer spending and inventories were revised down.
And then the bad news:
Much of the economy's recovery from the most brutal downturn since the 1930s has been driven by government stimulus and businesses being less aggressive in reducing inventories.

This has raised concerns that growth could sputter later this year when the boost from the two sources fades, given tepid consumer spending and high unemployment.
The good news is the stimulus worked.  The bad news is it was far too small.  Obama and the Dems may have won the battle on health care reform, but another stimulus package will be impossible because the GOP has no interest in seeing the economy improve, not when it's far easier to do nothing and blame Obama. The growth we've seen in the last several months is only because of the stimulus.  When it runs out, so does the economy.

Right around, oh, campaign 2010 season.

The Prodigal Frum Departs

Not that my personal opinion of David Frum was very high in the first place (the guy did write speeches for Dubya after all) but clearly the guy's widely-quoted "Waterloo" article speaking truth to power got him axed by the famed conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, despite the denials.  TPM's Zack Roth:
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the split with AEI was not prompted by Frum's criticism of the GOP. Rather, Brooks expressed concern that Frum had been occupied with other projects outside of AEI, and wasn't a sufficiently active member of the AEI scholars community. Out of fairness to other AEI scholars, Brooks asked Frum to forgo his salary -- an offer Frum angrily rejected.

In a statement provided to TPMmuckraker, AEI said:

While AEI makes it a practice not to discuss personnel matters, I can say that David Frum is an original thinker and a friend to many at AEI. 
We are pleased to have welcomed him as a colleague for seven years, and his decision to leave in no way diminishes our respect for him.
Frum declined to comment to TPMmuckraker, but this afternoon he told the PlumLine that Brooks had asked him to work without pay, because of the think-tank's financial difficulties, and had assured him that the move had nothing to do with Frum's recent criticism of the GOP.

None of this has stopped speculation to the contrary, however. In a blog post of his own, conservative economist Bruce Bartlett -- who himself was fired by a conservative think tank in 2005 after criticizing President Bush's policies -- wrote today that Frum recently had told him that AEI scholars had been "ordered" not to speak publicly on the subject of health-care reform "because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do."

Several AEI scholars have gone public on the subject -- though all have been opposed to Obama's plan.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote this afternoon: "One has to assume that this is a response to his outspokenness about the Republican failure on health reform."
Yeah, AEI isn't fooling anyone on this.  Just like politicians never actually resign to spend more time with their families, Frum wasn't actually parting ways because of side gigs, either.  You don't lose a think tank job after being a Republican presidential speechwriter because there's no money in it.  Frum on the letterhead gave the AEI prestige, just like any other ex-White House staffer would do for any think tank (on either side of the aisle).  It's the equivalent of having a famous senior partner at a law firm or on a company's board of directors.

Frum deviated from the program, and they threw him overboard for it.  Critics of Obama say he's a tyrant because he doesn't tolerate dissenting views.  That's hysterical, because many of the dissenting views on his policies come from those on the Left.

However on the Right, it's a different story.  Frum spoke out against eliminationist rhetoric and GOP mendacity, and got his walking papers as a direct result.  Some tolerance of dissenting views you guys have over there...


Paul Krugman admits to the guilty pleasure of watching the GOP melt down over HCR, but as he says, that meltdown now means the Teabaggers are fully in charge of the insane asylum (emphasis mine):
To be sure, it was enjoyable watching Representative Devin Nunes, a Republican of California, warn that by passing health reform, Democrats “will finally lay the cornerstone of their socialist utopia on the backs of the American people.” Gosh, that sounds uncomfortable. And it’s been a hoot watching Mitt Romney squirm as he tries to distance himself from a plan that, as he knows full well, is nearly identical to the reform he himself pushed through as governor of Massachusetts. His best shot was declaring that enacting reform was an “unconscionable abuse of power,” a “historic usurpation of the legislative process” — presumably because the legislative process isn’t supposed to include things like “votes” in which the majority prevails.

A side observation: one Republican talking point has been that Democrats had no right to pass a bill facing overwhelming public disapproval. As it happens, the Constitution says nothing about opinion polls trumping the right and duty of elected officials to make decisions based on what they perceive as the merits. But in any case, the message from the polls is much more ambiguous than opponents of reform claim: While many Americans disapprove of Obamacare, a significant number do so because they feel that it doesn’t go far enough. And a Gallup poll taken after health reform’s enactment showed the public, by a modest but significant margin, seeming pleased that it passed.

But back to the main theme. What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party’s leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was “Armageddon.” The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee’s chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on “the firing line.” And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.

All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush — but you’ll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.

No, to find anything like what we’re seeing now you have to go back to the last time a Democrat was president. Like President Obama, Bill Clinton faced a G.O.P. that denied his legitimacy — Dick Armey, the second-ranking House Republican (and now a Tea Party leader) referred to him as “your president.” Threats were common: President Clinton, declared Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, “better watch out if he comes down here. He’d better have a bodyguard.” (Helms later expressed regrets over the remark — but only after a media firestorm.) And once they controlled Congress, Republicans tried to govern as if they held the White House, too, eventually shutting down the federal government in an attempt to bully Mr. Clinton into submission.

Mr. Obama seems to have sincerely believed that he would face a different reception. And he made a real try at bipartisanship, nearly losing his chance at health reform by frittering away months in a vain attempt to get a few Republicans on board. At this point, however, it’s clear that any Democratic president will face total opposition from a Republican Party that is completely dominated by right-wing extremists.
The good news is finally, finally, the Democrats understand the GOP plan is to try to win back political gains by making it literally impossible for the Democrats to actually govern.  If the government is broken by Republicans and it fails to do its duty, the Republicans figure, it's the Democrats' fault.

The better news is that more and more of the Village is finally questioning that "logic" after a year plus of supporting it completely, that the Democrats had to give in to the Republicans and do everything they wanted was taken as conventional wisdom, and the Dems would capitulate.  That's the way Washington has worked since the Contract With America.

Only, the Dems are writing a new script.  And the Republicans have gone completely off their collective rockers in an effort to paint Obama as an Enemy Of The People that the people need to stop.

By what means, the GOP leaves to the bloody imaginations of some of the Teabaggers.  The principled opposition to Obama is the first casualty of this process.  Those who still can compose an argument that doesn't involve Obama being a Socialist, Marxist, Muslim sleeper agent, tyrant dictator or the Antichrist are the ones who should be taking on this eliminationist rhetoric with the most urgency.


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