Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Call

Next week's big, with special elections in Pennsylvania and Hawaii for the House, and the Senate primaries in Kentucky.  Chris Cilizza argues that PA-12, the district of the late John Murtha, is a must-win for the GOP if the Orange Julius Prophecy of the GOP gaining 100 seats is true:
A Republican win -- coupled with the party's likely triumph in a Hawaii special election four days later -- would be a hugely important symbol to the House Republican conference that the majority is actually in reach.

A loss, however, would hand Democrats a cudgel with which they could beat back the "House majority is in play" story line -- noting that Burns ran against President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and came up short.

To quote De La Soul: "Stakes is high". 
Naturally, conservatives are downplaying the district's meaningfulness of a GOP loss there and the PA-12 results...
Cilizza severely downplays the counterarguments here, and overstates the stakes for Republicans. First, Republicans haven't won this district since the 1930s, and Democratic registration vastly outstrips Republican registration (most of the district that originally elected Murtha has been dismembered and placed in neighboring districts). While McCain did carry it, he only did so by 900 votes.

To put it differently, there are over sixty districts represented by Democrats with better Republican performances than PA-12. The Republicans' path to 218 seats doesn't necessarily run through this district – in fact, I don't think their path to a 1994-esque 230 seats necessarily runs through this district.
...unless they win, of course.  Then it's the end of the Democrats forever.
A Democratic loss in this district tells me that Jacksonians really are abandoning the Democrats at the Congressional level, and all sorts of hell is about to break loose in November.
Still, watch this race.

In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Steve M. notes FOX's "fair and balanced" coverage of Obama's request for $26 billion to save some thirty thousand teacher jobs and the GOP attacks on the money as a "bailout of teachers' unions" (they are clearly as overpaid as bank CEOs) and asks:
And just so we're clear on the logic of this, recall that Republicans denounce bailouts because they think the magic of the free market should correct any economic problems, up to and including crashes and depressions. Are they now arguing that free-market forces should decide whether or not your kid has a teacher at all? I know they don't like public education, but given the fact that the vast majority of American parents send their kids to public schools, would Republicans be willing to stand up and tell the public that they consider education to be not a right, but a service your town shouldn't provide if it can't afford to?
And the answer to that is "Of course."  Republicans don't want schools, they want women in the kitchen home schooling the kids with  Texas textbooks.  Kids that actually learn things in school might grow up voting Democratic, you know.  Better for the education to be "under the full control of parents" because after all, Real Americans have dad owning his own successful small business while mom can stay at home and teach the kids about creationism, the evils of liberalism, and how everything a Democrat does is just like Hitler's Germany in 1938.

Republicans wanted to do away with the Department of Education.  Hell, they want to do away with anything that's science or learning or critical thinking, and replace it with rote reptition of their "facts".  You'd better believe there's millions of people out there who would have no problem abolishing schools in this country and giving Americans their tax money back to buy copies of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.  They sure as hell would abolish them in inner city America and claim education enslaves minorities, what the lazy bums need is some good hard work instead and a steady job flipping burgers at 15 instead of high they can still be flipping burgers at 35.

Yes, you will see Republicans say "let the teachers be laid off.  Only the bad ones will have to go.  Don't like the class sizes of 40 students?  Pull them out and teach them yourselves.  You DO really love your children, yes?"

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Confederate Yankee's got himself a plan for saving the Gulf of Mexico from massive environmental damage!  Here's the plan, ready?  PLAN GET!
Why not nuke it?
I didn't say it was a good plan.  I was going to just call Aquaman.  You know, nobody gives an aqua brick any credit until you really, really need one.

Obama Drills Down

As I said this morning, the Democrats need to either go on the offense with the Deepwater Horizon disaster now or risk having it blow up in their faces.  Obama wisely did just that this afternoon.
President Barack Obama on Friday angrily decried the "ridiculous spectacle" of oil industry officials pointing fingers of blame for the catastrophic spill in the Gulf of Mexico and pledged to end a "cozy relationship" between the oil industry and federal regulators that he said had extended into his own administration.

Obama said he shared the "anger and frustration" felt by many Americans, and promised he would "not rest or be satisfied" until the leak had been capped, the spill had been cleaned up and gulf residents could return to their livelihoods.

He also acknowledged differing estimates about just how disastrous the damage from the leak could become. He said the administration's response has "always been geared toward the possibility of a catastrophic event."

With millions of gallons of oil fouling the fragile Gulf ecosystem after a drilling rig exploded April 20 and later sank, Obama said: "It's pretty clear that the system failed and it failed badly." Eleven workers were killed in the accident.

Obama slammed BP and other companies responsible for equipment involved in the spill for pointing fingers at each other instead of accepting responsibility.

There's "enough blame to go around and all parties should be willing to accept it," the president said.
This should have been the response 2 weeks ago, but it took NPR and the rest of the media revealing a much higher spill rate -- 70,000 barrels of oil a day now -- to light a fire under the President.

Smartly, the Democrats are now putting pressure on the Republicans when it comes to making sure BP pays for this mess and not the taxpayer.  The Republicans are blocking legislation that allows the government to raise the liability cap on disasters from a meaningless $75 million to a less meaningless $10 billion, led by Alaska's Lisa Murkowski.  The Democrats are coming out with, well, both oil barrels blazing.
Senate Dem leaders reacted angrily yesterday to Murkowski's block. And now they say they're going to push the issue next week, by calling for more votes on it. Harry Reid spokesman Jim Manley emails:
"Senate Democrats, led by Senators Menendez, Lautenberg and Nelson, are going to continue next week to pass common-sense legislation to ensure that BP pays for the full cost of cleanup and that taxpayers in Nevada and across America are protected.
"Inexplicably, Republicans are protecting negligent oil companies like BP and blocking our efforts to prevent a BP bailout. Through their obstruction, Republicans are leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay for BP's negligence."
That's a reference to senators Frank Lautenberg and Bill Nelson. It's unclear how many Republican Senators would oppose this measure if it came to a vote, since they haven't been forced to take a stand on it, thanks to Murkowski's willingness to carry the oil, as it were, by blocking the vote.

But Dems intend to try to force the issue next week, at a time when the evolving disaster's consequences, political and environmental alike, remain murky and unknowable.
It's not murky, it's a huge loser for Republicans and it's getting worse for them daily.  Americans are going to see the footage of destroyed beaches, closed resorts, docked fishing boats and ruined vacation spots and start getting damn angry.  And the Republicans are again on the wrong side.


BooMan on the TARP bailout:
Almost alone among progressives, I supported the original TARP bailout and told people that it was working in its primary purpose which was to prevent an epic depression-like collapse of the American and global economies. A lot of people made some pretty dire predictions, but they're not talking so loudly these days. Without the bailouts, you certainly would not be seeing this:

If the economy produces jobs over the next eight months at the same pace as it did over the past four months, the nation will have created more jobs in 2010 alone than it did over the entire eight years of George W. Bush's presidency.
The time to address the systemic risk inherent in the economy was not during the moment of greatest anxiety, but now, with calmer heads. We just needed to be patient. There is good momentum on the Wall Street reform bill, and it may be strengthened even more before passage.

However, I don't expect anyone to like what happened with the bailout. Propping up megabanks that acted irresponsibly and cost people their jobs and life savings is not a fun thing to do. That's why the Republicans who voted for the bailout are gun-shy about taking credit for the result. And it's also why progressives are still in denial that the wretched thing worked.

You can give me all the "yes, but" arguments you want about how things could have been better or fairer, or tell me how much risk remains in the system, but the bottom line is that 'yes.' Yes, the bailout worked. The Masters of the Universe tried to destroy everything, and they did not succeed. Some Republicans will admit as much:

Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), who's retiring at the end of the year and is therefore unencumbered by the need to defend himself from the GOP base, has nothing to run away from. "It was extremely effective," Gregg told me. "Not only was it effective and stabilized the financial industry, it also returned to the taxpayers almost $20 billion in interest and dividends that they would have otherwise not have."
I've said that the problem is not that TARP worked, it was necessary and it worked at saving us from imminent disaster.  My problem is that virtually nothing has been done to prevent the need for another TARP bailout.  And judging from what's going on in Europe, the Gulf of Mexico, and Wall Street...and most importantly what's going on in Washington, we're going to need another TARP.

And soon.

"24" As A Campaign Platform

Digby notes this piece on the "Jack Bauer Republicans" running for office in GOP primaries this year.  I've got another name for them:  War criminals.  It's especially disturbing to see this happening in my home state.
Last week, Ilario Pantano won the Republican nomination in North Carolina’s 7th District, setting up a challenge to incumbent Democrat Rep. Mike McIntyre in November. In 2001, immediately following the 9/11 terror attacks, Pantano, a veteran who had previously fought in the Gulf War, left his career as a successful producer and media consultant in his native Manhattan to rejoin the Marines and was eventually deployed to Iraq. In April 2004, Pantano killed two unarmed Iraqi detainees, twice unloading his gun into their bodies and firing between 50 and 60 shots in total. Afterward, he placed a sign over the corpses featuring the Marines' slogan “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy” as a message to the local population.
As Digby points out, the fact he put 50 rounds into an unarmed man apparently makes him a stronger GOP primary candidate.
Funny how the only time the right reveres the legal system's protections is when it's protecting war criminals. Indeed, the article goes on to say that he's actually running on the incident, making it the center of his campaign. But then, he's considered something of a "good guy" by people as disparate as Michelle Malkin, James Carville and Jon Stewart.

His defeated primary opponent, also an Iraq war vet, is so offended by the whitewash that he's continuing to speak out against him:
“I’ve taken prisoners in Iraq and there’s no excuse for what he did,” Breazeale told The Daily Beast. “To shoot two unarmed prisoners 60 times and put a sign over their dead bodies is inexcusable.
In case you wonder whether this guy might just be a "good guy" yourself, it's important to keep in mind that he was "inspired" to run for office because of calls to prosecute people for torture.
Yeah, and we can't have that kind of lunatic fringe in America.  After all, the lunatic fringe we have already might take it the wrong way and put 4 dozen bullets in somebody.  Jesus wept.   Look, I'm not happy with the Democrats right now, but I know these are the kind of people the Republicans want to see dominating Congress and all levels of government.

You want to send the Democrats a message, vote for better Democrats, not worse Republicans.

Jumping Jack Flash Crash

Tyler Durden just flagged that the euro under 1.24 to the USD and is basically in freefall, along with the Dow and even gold here at the noon hour.  Things are about to get real interesting today here at lunchtime.  Another EU bailout package this weekend?

Who knows?  But the waterbed just sprung a leak, kids.  Europe closed down 3%.  It's getting ugly out there, and something major's got to happen before Asia's open on Monday or it's going to be meltdown city.

Shame On Us, Indeed

Ten years ago we failed to listen to Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota on Gramm-Leach-Bliley, and then promptly set up the financial situation that led directly to our current deep recession.

Now retiring, Dorgan leaves us with a final warning that the current financial regulatory fix bill will not solve any of our problems.

Dorgan, without an election to worry about, is free to make his views known.  And unless the regulations on the bill are tightened significantly, he will now filibuster the bill.
In the Senate Democratic Caucus meeting today, Dorgan and other progressive senators pressed the leadership to allow their amendments to strengthen the bill to come to a vote. According to Dorgan, the leadership relented and said his amendment would be one of the ones to come to a vote.

But tonight, as Brian Beutler reports, when the list of amendments to be voted on was released, Dorgan's was not among them. A frustrated Dorgan approached Dodd and Majority Leader Harry Reid on the floor this evening and told them he would filibuster financial reform if his amendment doesn't get a vote. "I understand everybody thinks their amendment's important, but the question of the unbelievable speculation in credit default swaps that have no insurable interest -- if we can't vote on something like that, given what we've seen in recent years, then it's not really financial reform," Dorgan told us.

In truth, most of the progressives' amendments stand little chance of passing. But they're staking their claim on at least getting a vote on them. Now Dorgan has upped the ante with a filibuster threat.
Good for him.  I hope he sticks with it.  Give his amendment a vote, guys.  Make this happen.

Doc, I've Come Back, Back From The Future

As annoying as Arcadian can be in the comments section, he's right about one thing:  Immigration is not a winner for the DemocratsNot in the short term, anyway, and that's the caveat.  There's two sides to this story.  One is the short term pandering blitz that the GOP is doing right now.  Balloon Juice's DougJ flags this Michael Gerson piece in the WaPo on the long term problems this will cause the GOP:
Immigration issues are emotional and complex. But this must be recognized for what it is: political suicide. Consider that Hispanics make up 40 percent of the K-12 students in Arizona, 44 percent in Texas, 47 percent in California, 54 percent in New Mexico. Whatever temporary gains Republicans might make feeding resentment of this demographic shift, the party identified with that resentment will eventually be voted into singularity. In a matter of decades, the Republican Party could cease to be a national party.
Which is true.  But in the next 20-30 years, throwing Latinos under the bus may very well mean the GOP controls the country until then.  We've seen how much damage the GOP can do in just eight years.  Imagnie what they can do with another two, three decades, as Steve M. points out.
I'm concerned that, just as the Democratic Party lost the South (for two generations and counting) as a result of LBJ-era civil rights laws, a pro-immigration stand, however much it's a bulwark against nativist rage, may be how the party loses broad swatches of white America for decades.

This isn't even like gay marriage -- that other "someday the demographics will be on our side" issue -- in that it doesn't seem as if young whites disagree all that much with older whites. In a new Pew poll, which also finds a tremendous amount of support among whites for the Arizona law, 18-29-year-olds are evenly split on the law (59% of whites support it overall) -- but 61% of young people approve of "requiring people to produce documents verifying their legal status," and 52% approve of "allowing police to detain anyone unable to verify legal status."
And if the Dems lose the white vote now, they will get smashed in 2010 and 2012.  2040, 2050 will be cold comfort after another couple decades of GOP rule.  How do we fix this?  Steve again:
The problem, I think, is that opponents of the law aren't speaking across ideological lines -- we're not clearly rebutting the understandable notion that this is just a commonsense way to enforce the law. We're not making the heavyhanded nature of this law vivid and (to use a modish word) "relatable" to whites. We're just saying it's racist and fascist and contenting ourselves with nods of agreement who are already on our side.

This is a bad moment in American history, and frustrated, anxious citizens are receptive to scapegoating. The Arizona GOP has found quite a group of scapegoats, and Democrats and progressives underestimate the potency of this scapegoating at their peril.
Boycotting the All-Star game in 2011 won't matter if the GOP rolls to victory in 2010 on the backs of rounding up Latinos and crushing civil liberties. Getting out ahead of this now is important and explaining that this should be illegal.

Unfortunately, this is where Obama's whole Eric Holder problem comes into play, and the whole carrying over the Bush torture apologist regime means Obama's got no moral standing on opposing Arizona's law.  The GOP can rightfully attack the Dems as hypocrites, and Arizona-style laws will spread or become nationalized the instant we get a GOP president.

We're right back in a huge hole again, folks.  Getting out is going to be a long, long process.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Funniest thing I've read in weeks:  Larry Johnson of No Quarter poo-pooing a link to the BP oil disaster being far worse than BP admits by saying:
Wayne Madsen – who apparently never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like – has published a warning article that claims the BP oil spill is far, far, worse than we’ve been told. I wouldn’t normally give Madsen’s story too much credence, but the way the clowns in Washington sequester and manipulate information these days makes me wonder who’s fooling whom.
To recap, a man who believes every single horrifically and completely fabricated birther/PUMA/firebagger tinfoil hat conspiracy theory about Obama thinks the scientific evidence of the oil spill being a order of magnitude worse than thought is just too crazy for him to believe.

I laughed for a good ten minutes straight.  I burned significant calories laughing.  It was an aerobic exercise for crissakes.

I had to share.

Oil's Well That Doesn't End Well For This Oil Well, Part 12

Yesterday I said that Obama and the Democrats absolutely had to get out front of the real rate of spillage from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  Then came NPR's report yesterday afternoon that the real rate could be not 5,000 barrels a day, but 70,000 or more, meaning a new Exxon Valdez level disaster every four days.

Today, Congress is doing what the President has been reluctant to, and is forcing Obama's hand.
Rep. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said he will send a letter to BP and ask for more details from federal agencies about the methods they are using to analyze the oil leak. Markey, who chairs a congressional subcommittee on energy and the environment, said miscalculating the spill's volume may be hampering efforts to stop it.

"I am concerned that an underestimation of the oil spill's flow may be impeding the ability to solve the leak and handle the management of the disaster," he said in a statement Thursday. "If you don't understand the scope of the problem, the capacity to find the answer is severely compromised."

BP officials have said 5,000 barrels per day of crude, or 210,000 gallons, have been leaking for the past three weeks.

But a researcher at Purdue University has predicted that about 70,000 barrels of oil per day are gushing into the Gulf after analyzing videos of the spill.

Associate professor Steve Wereley said he arrived at that number after spending two hours Thursday analyzing video of a spill using a technique called particle image velocimetry. He said there is a 20 percent margin of error, which means between 56,000 and 84,000 barrels could be leaking daily.

"You can't say with precision, but you can see there's definitely more coming out of that pipe than people thought. It's definitely not 5,000 barrels a day," Wereley said.
No, it's not.  It's an order of magnitude worse, minimum. Markey's laid out all the reasons why the real rate of flow must be known.  Professor Wereley's analysis is what triggered the NPR report, and now Rep. Markey is taking action.  Three weeks times 70,000 barrels times 42 gallons in a barrel equals a staggering 61,740,000 gallons if Wereley is correct...more than five times worse than Exxon Valdez.

Now imagine eight Exxon Valdez oil tankers wrecking in the Gulf every month for the next three months and you're finally, finally getting how horrendous this is going to be.  Obama owes Markey a case of booze and some cigars, because he just saved his Presidency.  If this isn't hung on BP's neck, it will be hung on Obama's.


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