Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Call

FOX has been pushing Thursday's new Sarah Palin interview news special, "Real American Heroes".  It features interviews by LL Cool J, Toby Keith, and Jack Welch.  There's only one problem.

Sarah Palin doesn't actually interview anyone.  TPM's Jillian Rayfield:
The interviews appear to have been filmed awhile back for the "Real American Heroes" website, which is owned by Fox News.

It now seems that there was a lack of clarity on how the interviews would be used, and by whom.

A spokesperson for Keith told HitFix today: "We were never contacted by Fox. I have no idea what interview it's taken from. They're promoting this like it's a brand new interview. He never sat down with Sarah Palin."
Are you serious?   Could FOX just not find anybody softball enough to sit down to talk to Sarah Palin for 7 minutes?  Nobody?  A sports star?  A Republican from...somewhere?  Victoria Jackson?  You're telling me FOX is running an interview show with Sarah Palin...and she's not in any of the interviews?

I keep saying "Boy, the Right Wing Noise Machine must really, really think Americans are the stupidest people on Earth."  I never expected FOX to turn around and actually prove that adage on an idle Wednesday in March.

Oh, it gets worse.
Last night, LL Cool J slammed Fox News on his Twitter feed:
Fox lifted an old interview I gave in 2008 to someone else & are misrepresenting to the public in order to promote Sarah Palins Show. WOW
Fox News responded:
Real American Stories features uplifting tales about overcoming adversity and we believe Mr. Smith's interview fit that criteria. However, as it appears that Mr. Smith does not want to be associated with a program that could serve as an inspiration to others, we are cutting his interview from the special and wish him the best with his fledgling acting career.
Because the overarching vibe you get from FOX News is the sterling sense of journalistic professionalism they exude like a newspaper-scented Glade Plug-In.   And actually, I'd bet Toby Keith or LL Cool J could do a better job interviewing "Real American People" than Moose Lady, the failed Governor of Moose World, the Moosiest Place On Earth.  Honestly, how many people immediately associate the words "Real American People" with "Half-Term Governors Who Quit From Alaska"?

If there were any justice, this woman would be reduced to the occasional guest villain role on "My Life On The D-List with Kathy Griffin".  Instead, I'm hoping she's the woman who gives Barack Obama four more years.

Lesson Unlearned

On the surface, today's decision by President Obama to lift a ban on some offshore drilling seems like a perfect follow-up to health care reform:  it's something that makes pragmatic sense, it doesn't require any arm-twisting in Congress, it appeals to moderates and it neatly traps the GOP (after all, it was their idea in the first place.)  Most importantly, Obama sees it as a compromise step towards climate legislation.  It's low-hanging fruit, and Obama could surely use something easier after the year-plus long slog through the marshes on health care reform.

All of this of course proves Obama didn't learn a friggin' thing from his last 14 months in office.  If he had, he never would have even attempted this.  In fact, this decision worries me about Obama to the point where I have to openly question if the guy's been paying attention at all to the Republican party.

I love Obama, but I honestly am shocked that he did this.  It's a carefully calculated political move, but the political calculus demanded that his next act needed to be something that would excite the Democratic party base, not piss it off and bring out the firebagger brigade while guaranteeing the Republicans would just attack Obama for not going far enough.

And that's exactly what happened today.  MoJo's Kate Sheppard:

So far, Obama’s gesture at bipartisanship has been met with scorn on the right. On Wednesday, John Boehner (R-Ohio), the House minority leader, fired off a statement saying that Obama's plan did not open up enough off-shore territory for drilling and chiding him for "delaying American energy production off all our shores." Obama’s previous offering to Republicans and apprehensive Democrats, a major expansion of government support for nuclear power, was met with similar disdain.

While Obama's overtures aren't earning him much goodwill among detractors, his drilling plan is sure to anger the Senate's progressive, coastal state senators, who last week fired off a missive to the senators working on a climate and energy package that said expanded off-shore drilling was a deal-breaker. New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg today condemned the plan as a "Kill, baby, kill" approach to energy policy.
Why Obama's first reaction towards starting the next leg of his policy agenda is "Step 1)  Compromise With Republicans By Telling Progressives To Eat This Bullshit" after the empirical evidence of HCR with all zero of its Republican votes for the finished product, I can't explain.

Well no, I can explain it, and all the explanations make me rather depressed for the rest of the Obama presidency.  I really do want to know who in the Obama braintrust thought this would be a good idea that wouldn't completely explode in the President's face.  I also want to know why the rest of Obama's crew didn't immediately say "Hey, no offense, but compromising with the Republicans seems to only encourage them to complain about not getting 100% of their own way 100% of the time, maybe this is not such a good idea."

What it says to me is that somebody's learning curve is a flat-line, and at this point in the Presidency going forward, that's unacceptable.

Angry Johnny Gets Hoffmanned

There's no better example of the Hoffman Effect -- that is the GOP primary races turning so sharply to the right that whoever wins the primary becomes increasingly unable to capture the middle in the general election and loses in a spectacular fashion -- than John McCain.

In his nasty primary battle with JD Hayworth, McCain has gone so far over to the right on most issues you'd mistake him for Jim DeMint or Jim Inhofe.  The latest issue is immigration, pretty much the hot-button issue in the Arizona Republican primary, and McCain's gone all in.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), under fire from the right for not being tough enough on immigration in his Senate primary race, has called on Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to dispatch National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a letter sent to Napolitano's office yesterday, McCain says that rising drug violence across the border in Mexico endangers the lives of American citizens. He says the situation now calls for troops to be sent to the "southern border region."

"The people of Arizona and the United States demand and deserve secure borders," he writes. "I hope that you will take a personal interest in ensuring that Arizonans can feel safe and protected on their own property and not live in fear of the increasing violence along the border." 
This is the same guy who wrote the DREAM Act in 2007, you know before it became a complete disaster as the wingers screamed "SHAMNESTY!" at the top of their lungs and practically cost McCain the 2008 Presidential primary before it even started.  He's now calling for armed National Guard troops on the border with orders what, exactly?  Shoot to kill?  Tank columns on Interstates 19 and 8?  Airstrikes to burn down Coronado National Forest?  Landmines in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument?  Laser defense grids?

Don't we have a US Border Patrol already for this?  McCain's been in the military (did you know he was a POW?) so he should of all people want to tread cautiously on militarizing our borders.  And yet here he is, trying to one-up his primary opponent and tossing all that out the window because, well, he's got a primary to win.

And people wonder why I think Republicans are cynical and think American voters are stupid.

This Is Terrible, You Have To Try It

So when Ezra Klein says something is the worst op-ed he's ever read, I have to go read it.  Surprise, Shelby Steele's screed really is horrendous to the point of being self-parody.
Of the two great societal goals—freedom and "the good"—freedom requires a conservatism, a discipline of principles over the good, limited government, and so on. No way to grandiosity here. But today's liberalism is focused on "the good" more than on freedom. And ideas of "the good" are often a license to transgress democratic principles in order to reach social justice or to achieve more equality or to lessen suffering. The great political advantage of modern liberalism is its offer of license on the one hand and moral innocence—if not superiority—on the other. Liberalism lets you force people to buy health insurance and feel morally superior as you do it. Power and innocence at the same time.

This is an old formula for power, last used effectively on the presidential level by Lyndon Johnson. But Johnson's Great Society was grasping for moral authority after the civil rights movement. I doubt any white president could use it effectively today, and even ObamaCare passed by only a three vote margin in the House and with no Republican support at all. Worse, in the end, it passed not to bring the nation better health care but to pull a flailing Democratic presidency back from the brink.

There has always been a narcissistic charge around Mr. Obama, the sense that in embracing him one was embracing something special in oneself—and possibly even a larger idea of human perfectibility. Every politician wants this capacity to attract identification. But it is also a trap. What happens when people are embarrassed for having seen themselves in you?

The old fashioned, big government liberalism that Mr. Obama uses to make himself history-making also alienates him in the center-right America of today. It makes him the most divisive president in memory—a president who elicits narcissistic identification on the one hand and an enraged tea party movement on the other. His health-care victory has renewed his narcissistic charge for the moment, but if he continues to be a 1965 liberal it will become more and more impossible for Americans to see themselves in him.

Mr. Obama's success has always been ephemeral because it was based on an illusion: that if we Americans could transcend race enough to elect a black president, we could transcend all manner of human banalities and be on our way to human perfectibility. A black president would put us in a higher human territory. And yet the poor man we elected to play out this fantasy is now torturing us with his need to reflect our grandiosity back to us.

Many presidents have been historically significant in retrospect, but Mr. Obama had historic significance on his inauguration day. His inauguration told a transcendent American story. Other presidents work forward into their legacy. Mr. Obama is working backwards into his. 
Steele's massively cynical theory that Obama is only doing this to live up to the equally cynical expectations that our first black president must have thrust upon his shoulders by an equally cynical populace.  It only works if you believe that government exists only to enrich politicians and is not capable of producing anything other than short, you don't see a need for government at all and prefer rule by corporate plutocrat, and that the American people are equally both unable to see Obama scamming them all and yet are too stupid to see how all of politics exists only to placate the masses.

In other words, your standard Glibertarian douchebaggery.

Imagine finding that particular viewpoint in the Wall Street Journal.  He's our First Black President(tm) so he has to write his name in the moon with a huge laser or something, or he won't stand up to history's other First Black Anythings(tm).   Pretty depressing world Steele lives in.

[UPDATE 2:50 PM] And Adam Serwer does a masterful job of relating Shelby Steele's long history of douchebaggery and then dismantling him with such utter completeness and pure skill usually reserved for the Mythbusters.
If you're Shelby Steele, though, you can't actually abandon your thesis, no matter how much harm you're doing the cause of conservatism or your party, because you offer a specific product -- reassurance to whites that anti-black racism is a thing of the past and that they've fulfilled their ethical obligations to blacks. Therefore, any substantive expansion of the social safety net isn't about social responsibility but exploitation. So to respond to Ezra Klein, Steele is bound to a vision of a world where black people's existence is defined by exploiting white guilt for personal advantage. So it doesn't occur to Steele that extending health-care coverage to 32 million people is a good in and of itself worth fighting for, because he likely sees it as merely a crude redistribution of resources from one race to another under terms he sees as unfair.

If conservatives figure out Steele's product is useless -- nay harmful -- then he doesn't get paid for it, and his irrelevance as an intellectual becomes apparent. Steele accuses Obama of being a "bound man," but he finds himself bound to propping up a thesis that one tsunami after another leaves in ruins.

This is what is truly sad. Not only is Steele offering the same kind of reassurance to white conservatives that he accuses Obama of offering to whites in general, he doesn't even have the freedom to admit that he's wrong.
Nice. Very nice.

Game Time

If you haven't had a chance to pick up Shatter on the PC from Steam, do so.  You could also spend the $10 on the game's soundtrack, which I'm strongly considering once I beat the game.  Both are great.  Been on the PS3 for a while now, finally out on the PC.

Open thread and new tag:  Games And Hobbies.

What do you guys do to unwind?

Jobapalooza Preview

ADP's jobless numbers out today show a small decline, but Friday's official numbers may actually be positive for once due to Census hiring.
US private employers shed 23,000 jobs in March, missing expectations for an increase in jobs although fewer than the adjusted 24,000 jobs lost in February, a report by a private employment service said Wednesday.

The February fall was originally reported at 20,000.

The median of estimates from 35 economists surveyed by Reuters for the ADP Employer Services report, jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers, was for a rise of 40,000 private-sector jobs last month.

Stock futures, around flat prior to the release of the ADP number, quickly turned negative on fears that a turnaround in the jobs market isn't as close as some analysts expected.

ADP's Joel Prakken told CNBC that projections for Friday's nonfarms job report Friday could still show a gain in employment, largely due to government hiring of Census workers and weather-related depression of hiring.
It's one of those "could go either way" things, but the reality is we need years of 150K-200K a month job growth to get this country back on track...maybe even a solid decade of that.  And that's just to get back where we were in 2006.

No matter who's president in 2013 and 2017, they're going to have a long road.

The Comeback Kids

Across the river in Ohio, the Dems are making headway in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.
Democrats are having a mini-surge in Ohio as two possible candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat have come from behind to pass the Republican contender, and Gov. Ted Strickland remains ahead of Republican challenger John Kasich, 43 - 38 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

And President Barack Obama's job approval is up from a negative 44 - 52 percent February 23 to an almost even 47 - 48 percent today, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University poll finds.

In the Senate race, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher leads Republican Rob Portman 41 - 37 percent, reversing a 40 - 37 percent Portman lead February 24. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner edges Portman 38 - 37 percent, reversing a 40 - 35 percent Republican lead.

Although Ohioans remain opposed to President Obama's health care plan, the margin is down from a 55 - 36 percent disapproval in November to a 50 - 43 percent thumbs down today. But voters say 38 - 25 percent they are more likely to vote against their congressman if he or she voted for the Obama plan.

"Perhaps it's the passage of the health care overhaul and the fact that people like being with a winner: There has been a small, but consistent movement toward Democratic candidates and causes in Ohio in the last month," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Whether this is the beginning of a long-term move or not won't be clear for some time, perhaps until November."
Ohio's still a swing state, so this makes sense.  You don't expect the state to remain heavily blue or heavily red for very long, and when it does go in one direction like it did in 2008, 2009 saw a big swing towards Republicans Kasich and Portman.  Now in 2010, the momentum has swung back to the Democrats.  Ohio politics is like Ohio weather:  give it a little time and it will change.

Obama's -8 approval rating differential was held up as the doom of the party this year, but anyone who's been paying attention to the Buckeye State knew that wasn't going to last.  Ohioans do indeed appreciate a winner who can get things done.  People still more or less split evenly on the guy here.

Of course, how long THAT will last is anyone's guess.  My guess is Obama will have to continue getting things done in order to keep that momentum going, and the GOP will be doing everything they can to stop him cold.  If no more legislation gets passed in 2010, Ohio will put the blame squarely on Obama's shoulders and not the GOP.  The places hurting the most in Ohio's 10.9% unemployment rate are the Rust Belt urban centers where labor and the Dems have always done well.  If they're still hurting in November, it's going to be tough for Gov. Strickland to keep his job.  If the jobless numbers are going down and Strickland is making an effort to fix the problem, Ohioans will probably give him another chance.

Enough people around here still remember John Kasich and aren't terribly fond of the guy.

Kay Will Stay, Okay?

Hotline On-Call is reporting that Texas GOP Sen. Kay Bailiey Hutchinson will remain in the Senate through the end of her term in 2012.
The move is a reversal of a pledge Hutchison made to step down as she challenged Gov. Rick Perry (R) earlier this year. Hutchison lost an early March primary against Perry by a surprisingly wide margin.

Hutchison originally said she would step down sometime last fall, before putting off her resignation thanks to the health care debate. Now that the health care debate is over, House GOPers in TX have urged Hutchison to reconsider in a letter sent to the incumbent last week.

Hutchison's decision means several candidates who hoped to replace her will have to put their plans on hold until her term expires in '12. At least 6 prominent GOPers who anticipated Hutchison's resignation have been running for months.

It also means Dems won't have the chance to pick off a seat because of the state's runoff laws. Earlier this cycle, the party hoped to take advantage of the chaos created by a crowded GOP field; but as Hutchison's resignation looked less likely, ex-Houston Mayor Bill White (D) dropped his SEN bid to mount his own campaign against Perry.
We'll see in 2012 if that was the smart move for the GOP.  It could be that by 2012, Obama has turned things around more sharply and has coattails momentum and the Tea party movement could have run out of steam.   Of course, the opposite could be true, meaning Hutchinson would face a stiff primary challenge to her seat in two years...if she decides to run again at all.

Still, this means the GOP keeps 41 votes in the Senate, so on the surface, this is a good move for the elephants in the short term.

Not Now, The Grown-Ups Are Fighting

Add Nevada to the growing list of states with a Democrat as AG (Catherine Cortez Masto) who thinks suing over Obamacare is a waste of taxpayer funding, and a GOP Governor (Jim Gibbons) who says "do it anyway or else."
Gov. Gibbons released the statement following Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's decision not to pursue litigation.

"I am disappointed the Attorney General has refused to fight for the rights of Nevada citizens," Governor Gibbons said, "But I swore an oath to protect Nevada citizens and that is exactly what I intend to do."

"The Reid/Obama nationalized health care plan will bankrupt Medicaid in Nevada and will force us to make huge cuts to education and public safety," Gibbons said, "and it will force Nevadans to buy a product or face IRS penalties." Gibbons added, "This type of federal intrusion into our lives and our state must be stopped."

The Attorney General has suggested that Nevada need not file any legal action because other states already have. "I want a Nevadan in this fight against this federal intrusion," Gibbons said, "I will not surrender to this federal assault and I will not succumb to political pressure while the rights of Nevada citizens are trampled."

Earlier Cortez Masto delivered a four page letter to Gov. Gibbons. In it Masto writes, "In my professional judgment, joining the litigation filed by 14 other states, as you have suggested, is not warranted by existing law at this time."
It's amusing that the rights of Nevadans that Gibbons so vehemently sees as being trampled by the Obamacare law requires him to...trample the rights of his own AG and find some way to force her to sue over her professional objections.  Georgia governor Sonny Purdue has resorted to starting impeachment proceedings against his state AG Thurbert Baker for Baker's refusal to join in.

We're impeaching AGs for not filing frivolous, partisan lawsuits now?  Go go party of fiscal responsibility!


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